The Sound Of Continued Fighting



Scene Title The Sound of Continued Fighting
Synopsis En-route to Fort Irwin, Colette is assaulted by memories of the past.
Date July 22, 2018

The hum of jet engines harmonizes with the vibration of insulated metal; it is a war-machine harmony singing conflict's ballad.

«Nine minutes to target.»

The noise in Colette Demsky's headset is a voice, but only half of her hears it. Strapped into her seat in the passenger cabin of the Tlanuwa, her hands are clasped together, fingers turning a silver ring around on her finger; back and forth, like the dial of a combination lock. Right knee jitering up and down, she listens to that droning hum of machine parts, eyes closed but still seeing the team seated around her.

«Gonna need you up here in a second, Demsky.»

Wetting her lips, Colette bobs her head in a nod to that request that the copilot can't see. She turns the ring around on her finger again, dark brows knit together and jaw set down tightly. She brathes in slow through her nose, then exhales with a puff of her cheeks and a forcible steadying of her knee. Forefingers and thumb clutch the ring, steadying it and stopping her from fiddling with it anymore. Then, she slowly slides it off as she has every time they've been en-route to a combat zone. Retrieving her beaded chain of dog tags from around ner neck, Colette adds the ring to the chain, then loops it back around her neck and tucks it inside her uniform against her chest.


Black Ridge

Just Outside Teasdale


November 25th



Somewhere in the lightless forest a voice is screaming, but the whudding chop of heavy machine gun fire drowns out the scream. A moment later the roaring crash of a rocket-propelled grenade hitting the ground sends an eruption of flames and rock into the air. Wood flinders from a demolished tree rain down on the moonlit ground, and Colette Demsky rolls away from the blast down a rocky hill. Her shoulder strikes a rock sticking up from the ground, launches her into the air until she lands on her back, rolls backwards in an uncontrolled somersault and finally winds up in a shallow creekbed at the base of the hillside forest.

Distant rounds of tracer fire cut orange lines through the night air, tinnitus ring drowns out much of the other sounds. Headlights streak through the dark in the distance, and Colette pushes herself up onto shaky arms at the sight. Springing away from the glow of the headlights, leaving a dark red stain on the ground where she was, Colette narrowly avoids the sharp pop of automatic gunfire and the plumes of dirt that erupt in their wake. She turns to the headlights, focuses, and their glow suddenly intensifies into a floodlight flare. The light bends up over the hood of the Jeep and blinds its occupants.

Colette drops to one knee and slides across the pebbly shore of the creek, ducking behind a large rock. Light twists into a thin filament and snakes around the stone, allowing her to see around the corner to where two armed soldiers are emerging from the Jeep. Light body armor, no helmets, she clenches one hand closed and the bright illumination from the headlights diminishes into a single thread of hair-fine light that swings through one of the soldiers like a wire cutter through an egg. There's a sizzle-scream as he drops to the ground, forearm and hands dropping away from the rest o fhis body, ornage spilling out of a smoking gash in his abdomen.

The laser light isn't intense enough to follow through into the second soldier more than a first-degree burn, he screams and recoils, then fires blindly where he last saw Colette. The chop of the gunfire punshes into the dirt, ricochets off of stone, and up the hill Colette can hear the whining drone of machine sounds and screams. Smith's unit — her unit — is calling for backup. Wiping away the blood that's collected on her upper lip, Colette slides a fixed-blade knife out of her boot and waits until she hears the click-clack of the solider reloading to move.

As the soldier ecjects his magazine and begins to reload, Colette springs up from behind the rock, drawing all light away from the soldier and toward the creekbed. As a phosphorescent glow blossoms there, the soldier is thrown into suffocating darkness. He fumbles with the magazine, drops it on the ground, and Colette launches herself at him and collides with his torso, toppling him to the ground. Her knife plunges into his chest, back out, then drives back down again. Sh ecan feel him reaching for his sidearm and she buries her knee in the crook of his elbow until it dislocates. The knife comes down again; chest, chest, neck, face, face, face, until she can't feel him struggling anymore.

Breathing in heavy, open-mouthed gasps, Colette reallocates the light evenly across the creekbed and looks up the hill to the forest where pairs of red eyes glow in the dark amid the tracer fire. She sucks in a few more breaths, hands trembling, not feeling the deep cut at her side where the rock she landed on broke skin. Colette takes the soldier's holstered sideam, rises up on shaky legs, and starts to jog up the hill toward the sounds of continued fighting.


The Tlanuwa

Somewhere over Arizona

July 22


«Earth to Demsky, get the fuck to the cockpit.»

Colette blinks her eyes open, snaps the quick release of her seatbelt harness and jolts up out of her seat. "Sorry," she calls over her comm, "sorry, I dozed off for a second." Her attention drifts to the people still situated in their seats, to Strike Team Wendigo, to the Secretary of Homeland Security, then to the cockpit door where Major Gitelman and Commander Epstein wait. Swallowing audibly, Colette steadies herself and marches forward to the front of the jet.

Toward the sound of continued fighting.

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