Get Lucky! Get Lucky!

Lucky Universe – Raw Excerpt [Part 2]

“Hello! Marines?”

It wasn’t over all-comm. It was wafting in and out of the thin atmosphere.

Lucky looked up at the sky, dumbfounded.

“I’m right here,” the voice said, exasperated. “On the roof.”

Lucky slowly turned his head to follow the sound.

Standing on a ledge of the stackshack where the top of the ladderwell had been was a man in a white lab coat.

It was the scientist from the vid earlier, the cyborg who’d been playing with the six-dimensional data cube. He looked as beet red and angry as the last time Lucky had seen him.

“We don’t have all day. Can you please come in here?”

Lucky blinked.

“Is this really happening?” he thought at Rocky.

“It is,” she confirmed.

It figured that the goddamned brainiacs would somehow pull through when everyone else was dead.

Lucky glanced back at Nico, who had crawled to his feet and was staring at Peters’ body.

Lucky was about to distract the rookie so he didn’t puke when he got an alert from his drones. Two more figures were climbing out of nearby rovers.

He ducked down, yanking the kid off his feet as he did so.

“AIM clearing maneuver,” he said. “Step over and cross-check.”

It was a classic tandem between two Marines with AI support that Nico should be well versed in.  He nodded, probably glad to have something to do that he remembered from combat training.

Lucky crawled forward to the rover the woman had stepped out of and sent a drone in ahead of him. It reported no movement, then swung out to a covering position for Nico to slide open the rear cab door as Lucky stepped in with another trailing drone.

Nico followed and slid open the door on the side nearer the new targets, keeping his drone at his six and a firing space clear ahead of him.

A woman who had appeared dead in the passenger seat suddenly leapt forward with another smooth Union blaster. Lucky cut her down. He felt a heat signature to his right, then his spiders danced in his head and he jerked to his left and rolled back out of the cab as an energy arc sliced through the air where his head had been.

An old man was at the opposite end of the rover, leaning in through a hatch. A drone punched a hole in his arm, and the weapon toppled over, taking most of his arm with it.

Lucky glanced over at Nico, who had his rifle up with a clear shot. Inexplicably, the kid was watching Lucky roll back out of the rover instead of tearing the old man a fresh hole.

“Enjoying the show?” Lucky screamed.

Nico finally pulled the trigger on his pulse cannon, and the drones triangulated the shot into the center of the man’s forehead.

The old man silently crumpled.

The kid stared forward, eyes unfocused and his eyelids fluttering. Lucky couldn’t decide if he was in shock or just interacting with his AI. Either way, he didn’t have time for this shit and took back his earlier assessment. The kid was an incompetent idiot.

The silence was broken by the scientist’s his high-pitched voice wafting down from above again.

“Hey, did you hear me?”

The asshole wouldn’t quit whining. “Can you tell him to shut up?”

“I have no networks to send a message to,” Rocky replied. “He either doesn’t have neural networks or isn’t using them. Either way, I can’t help you. Unless you want me to have a drone shoot him.”

“Tempting.”

He and Nico held their position, backs to the rover. Lucky wondered what surprises waited in the other rovers.

“This is why we couldn’t see them,” said Rocky.

Lucky was lost. The scientists? “Who?”

“Our targets. We got heat signatures late because they were sitting in those rovers, effectively shielded from our high-level scans.”

She was right.

Every single rover littering the open field was a perfect hiding place for these things.

And with that came a realization.

He pictured the clearing he’d painted for the rest of the Marine dive team. It was right in the middle of a vast graveyard of these haphazardly parked rovers.

This is why I should never be left in charge, Lucky thought.

“Jiang, sitrep!” he screamed over all-comm.

No reply.

“Malby? Dawson?”

Nothing but cold static answered his call.

“Hang tight, we’re inbound!” he shouted, hoping someone was receiving.

“Oh really?” said Rocky.

“Really. We aren’t leaving them out there.”

Rocky sighed.

“Drones out and hot.”

Lucky heard a crackle and then something like pulse cannon fire roar over the all-comm. He heard a grunt that could pass for a response. It was all Lucky needed.

Lucky smacked Nico on the top of his helmet and pointed to the rover on his left. Lucky quickly slid behind the giant tire of the rover on his right. He pulled his rifle up and nodded at Nico.

“Do we have a plan?” asked Rocky.

“Sure we do,” he answered, and at Nico, he yelled; “Light up anything that moves!”