Yieh Xu pulled his face back from the handheld monitor and thumbed his mic.
“Squad 3, this is Squad 2. Three fighting-age males with rifles and packs, moving west through a drainage ditch toward your sector, 800m from MSR Lee. Request fire clearance on 280 azimuth.”
“Negative, Squad 2, we have a team in overwatch along that vector.”
“Can they get visual?”
Xu put his feet up on the coffee table and sipped the tea Mrs. Chen had brought him. Her only duty was to act the housewife while keeping an eye on activity in the neighborhood. She did her job well. Of all the cover houses, this was by far his favorite to post at.
The radio crackled: “Negative on the visual, Squad 2. Please re-verify enemy pos.”
Each team was supposed to relocate every 12 hours, but as squad leader, he usually found a reason to stay longer here. Eighty percent of the traffic entering the subdivision passed by here anyway, so it was
“Chief, we lost visual contact, I think they entered the bushes running along the ditch.”
“Keep scanning the area. Sung, move the killer to 190 degrees off-target, same stand-off. Team 3, shift from suppression to isolation.”
Xu laughed. The holdouts were such a joke. They would traipse to their objective area with the worst imaginable concealment, then play commando right before they hit. Amateurs who got worked up watching their own action films. Squad leaders would even compete to see who could let holdout teams get closest to their position before shredding them to pieces.
“I think we’ve got them on radar, not seeing any movement though. Will confirm.”
For a while, squads were even letting the partisans get a few, ineffectual attacks off, at least for long enough to get VidFeed footage uploaded to holdout networks. It worked pretty well to bait them into the same stupid mistakes, but the EPA eventually put an end to it. Went against their messaging of harmonious state of security.
“Unidentified drone inbound, 240 bearing.”
“Get those interceptors up.”
“It’s moving way too fast for that, our only option is to jam it.”
“Then do it.”
“We’ll lose the hunter feed…”
Xu sat up and pulled the radar feed onto the large monitor set up against the wall. The rest of HQ team was nervously bustling about the room, feeding off his anxiety. The hunter and killer drones appeared as tiny dots over the contoured map of the surrounding hill country. Headed in their direction was another dot, moving fast.
“Put our drones on evasive action before we go dark. Send out an alert to clear the airspace.”
The icons representing the friendly drones started doing a bee’s mating dance on the screen, a low-res representation of much more intricate maneuvers the two actual craft were performing in air. All eyes were glued to the screen, still not sure what to make of this enemy novelty.
The unidentified dot blew past both the friendlies, then disappeared. The house shook as a deafening explosion filled the air.
“Cut the jamming! Get visuals!” screamed Xu.
An image of the three infiltrators appeared on everyone’s monitors, darting across a backyard into the rubbled backside of a house.
Fuck….shit…. “Bring the killer directly overhead. Get rid of them NOW!”
The rebels had hit an empty cover house. No one was inside, which meant they either had bad intel, or…
The image from the hunter dropped down to street level, looking straight into the hole made by the enemy missile. Visual and IR feeds didn’t show much, but the radar feed showed three semi-distinct blobs moving through the structure. After a second or two, target boxes popped up around them. Three-dimensional coordinates appeared beneath the boxes, reflecting the data being streamed to the killer drone.
The hunter feed swept in towards the half-destroyed house, passing through a cloud of smoke. A trio of bodies lying on the ground floor appeared on the visual feed, shredded to bits by the killer’s 30mm cannon.
A total silence of several seconds was interrupted by PFC Tang’s shrill laugh.
“Haha! Three holdouts dead attacking an empty house! So dumb! At the rate they’re getting themselves killed, they’ll be as extinct as the dinosaurs soon!”
Xu felt uneasy.