This article, Gears of War: Rising Scions Chapter 2 - Mission to Algangi, was written by Kenji Hiroshi. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.

Gears of War: Rising Scions Chapter 2 is the direct follow-on of Gears of War: Rising Scions Chapter 1 - Scouting Timgad Valley, and serves the singular purpose of delving deeper into the character casts, their mindsets, goals, ambitions and their driving forces.

Light Patrol: Sector 4, Pomeroy Depot. Edit

Dean Quisling walked down the lonely roads of Sector 4 of Jacinto with no one other than his twin brother, Max, as company on the cold night. “What was their mission” was the question he had asked of the Sergeant giving out orders. He was told simply and with orders of speed to enforce the Fortification Act and ensure the curfew set forth by the COG was maintained. Shoot on sight orders were given to Gears on night watch. Kept everyone safe, the Chairmen had said. Things were getting bad enough when you couldn’t trust your own in the dark of night.

Dean was of average height for his sixteenth year, with dirty blonde hair and no head-gear worn. That used to drive his old teacher back at basic clean mad. The old goat always – always – made the recruits wear their helmets. Said it had more benefits. Dean found it that it was heavy, narrowed his vision and made him impossible to distinguish alongside the other recruits. So he didn’t wear it and would probably get chewed out again for by. Max, like Dean, was of average height though slightly taller than his twin, with black hair instead of blonde. That aside, they were identical. Only Max walked with more assurance, his back straight and with generally greater confidence than Dean managed.

“How long before we shift out?” Max asked quietly. Talking was discouraged on these ops. Apparently it scared people and encouraged wretches, if there were any hiding in the shadows, to come out and play. Weighing the options, Dean kept his voice low.

“About twenty minutes,” He whispered back. “It’s not as if I’ll sleep anyway. Where do you think we’ll go, as part of Dawn Squad?”

They had been given their orders this morning. Starting tomorrow, you two are members of Dawn Squad, under Sgt. Neville Briggs: a veteran from the Pendulum Wars and one reliable Gear. Your corporal will be Gary Henderson.”

That last bit was what surprised Dean. Gary was their childhood friend, a private like them not two days ago and now he’s suddenly a corporal? It was nice knowing he’d have someone he could trust guarding his back… but Dean was really only happy that he and Max weren’t split up. Nash had been trying to get them into Echo Seven. He even tried pulling in favours among the brass, but in the end, Briggs overruled him. Said they needed the men.

“We’ll do fine,” Max answered.

He wasn’t much for enthusiasm. Why would he? After what his nightmares showed him, people doubted his ability to be sane at all lately. Every night, no matter what, Max dreamed of E-Day and saw their mother and father die over and over and over again continually before his eyes. He never could do anything. He was either being dragged away by Nash against his will, or paralyzed with fear. On especially bad nights it was the Locust who was dragging him away, leaving him to wish and hope his father would awaken to save him. In more than ten years of dreaming he had yet to.

Twenty minutes passed in the blink of an eye and before long, the relief patrolmen took up the patrol and left Dean and Max to sleep. Max once again dreamed of death, Locust and hopelessness. Dean. On the other hand, never once shut his eyes. Ideas kept running through his head about what life on the front-line, as a Gear, fighter of mankind, spearhead of their fight for survival, would be like? He sat up for about two more hours wondering on that until exhaustion swept over him and his eyes slowly closed…

Flight to Algangi Edit

There first mission was everything Dean hadn't expected, wondering as he had the night before. Distress calls had come from one of the islands out near Galangi. Apparently a self-sufficient COG outpost with a defense force and their own food, electricity and farms were out there. It was hard to believe.

"Yeah right," Max whispered from across the way as though he had guessed his brother's thoughts. "I can't see people surviving out there for long."

"It'd surprise you," Gary answered. "Just look at the Stranded camps."

"Mankind are harder put down than you think, boy." Sgt. Briggs cut in. He'd already given the breakdown of the mission.

They'd land on the island out in the woods and slowly make their way to the compound: all the while looking for survivors and possible Locust presence. He'd maintained there was a slight possibility that the distress beacon had nothing to do with Locust thought and probably something to do with nearby Stranded camps. At the least they needed to come back with some form of communication regarding the state of the island and its inhabitants.

Dean was sitting in the King Raven beside Joceline Smalling - another of his childhood friends and one amazing mechanic and field medic - or so he hoped. She was one of the only female front-line gears Dean knew, though the way she cut her hair coupled with the armor she favored caused many to mistake her sex completely. If Dean hadn't known her since they were in diapers he would've made the same mistake. She was busy tinkering with something so he opted to leave her alone.

She wasn't the only medic on the mission though. Sitting beside Gary and chatting with him quietly was the nurse in charge of his case of concussion following Operation: Midnight. Anne wore full COG armor with her black hair tied back in a ponytail, MK.2 Lancer resting on her lap.

"Okay listen up you lot!" Briggs roared over the top of the King Ravens rotors. "ETA five minutes. I want this quick and clean. We'll touch down in the forest and move out in groups of two with myself and Gary leading one team apiece. Max and Joceline are with me, Dean and Anne with Gary."

"Keep your heads down and listen to me and Sgt. Briggs. You do that and you'll all get through this." Gary added, to which Briggs quickly nodded.

Five minutes passed too quickly and before Dean knew it he was watching their transport depart and his team-mates dispersing into their respective teams. Their mission it seemed had finally begun...

Learning the Trade Edit

So far so good. No sign of attacking Locust, and no bad news from Dawn 1, either. Dean walked with a quick step and a hearty smile. The forest gave good cover, the foliage was soft beneath his armored feet and he was in the company of one of his oldest and most trusted friends - Gary Henderson. And Anne was there as well, a trained medic who was good at handling pressure. Or so Gary said at the very least.

Gary had been giving him tips since they had left the King Raven, which was roughly an hour ago now. "Keep your head down, even when you're in cover," he had said. "They call it the Golden Rule for a reason, you know." Now he was talking about the Locust Horde. "You gotta watch for the Wretches... especially in confined spaces like this. Don't let these trees fool you, Dean. Each one is cover not only for us Gears. Then you've got the average drone - big, burly bastards, built like brick shit houses. They carry Hammerburst's mainly, though they've got snipers too, and are fond of fragging you."

"There are others you should look out for too," Anne continued.

Dean was thankful for their explanations. He'd only heard about Locust from scared refugees and the occasional drunken Gear. He'd never faced any of them yet.

"If the Drones are the nails, then the Boomer has to be the hammer. They carry portable launchers that'll blow your cover to hell; your ass with it. We don't want that. They're tough, sure, but if it bleeds, then it dies. Fill it with enough bullets and it'll drop like a sack of shit."

Dean held up his Torque Bow - a gift from his brother Nash - and made a cutting motion with the sickle blade.

"I wouldn't recommend that," Anne said with a shake of her head.

"A Boomer has thicker skin, Dean. It's safer to take 'em down at range, even if you've got a Lancer in your hands."

"Gotcha," Dean placed the Torque Bow back on his back, retaking his Hammerburst Assault Rifle, ensuring the weapon was primmed with ammo and ready for whatever the forest had to throw at him.

"Get down!" Gary insisted, dragging Dean to the deck. "We've got Locust, 11 O'clock."

Anne nodded to the left, indicating others at 3 O'clock.

"Okay, I count only seven ahead, and two to the left." Gary motioned Anne ahead, and she moved. "Dean, take a deep breathe and compose yourself." After three breathes Gary nodded. "Those two on the left. Quick and clean. We'll take the other seven."

They had the element of surprise on their side, and Gary's leadership calmed Deans nerves. He'd felt sick the moment the word Locust had been uttered, and was only now beginning to find his center again. Two Locust. The enemy of mankind, the murderers of his parents. All he needed to do was aim down the sight, pick his target, and squeeze the trigger. Nestled in some underbrush, spying through the leaves, it seemed so easy. At least in his mind. Yet when he stopped to think about his bullets tearing through those Drones' bodies... he hesitated. He couldn't understand why. He only started shooting when he heard Gary and Anne's Lancers roar into life. His first bullets veered wildly off course until he steadied his arms and sighted. The first Locust was only now turning, too slowly. Hammerburst rounds tore into flesh and knocked him clean off his feet, dead. The second, diving for cover, avoided the initial volley and soon added his own shoots to the frey. Dean lowered his head and crawled behind a tree. There he reloaded, took a deep breathe, and waited. When the Drone ceased firing to reload, Dean sprinted from cover into a flanking position, where he opened fire! He scored a head-shot and, with that single bullet, toppled the Drone like a lumberjack feeling trees!

"Ha! How'd you like that, huh!?" He'd killed the first of what he hoped to be countless Locust.

"Celebrate later, Dean!" Gary roared.

Dean sprinted over to his commanding officer, head low and Hammerburst ready.

"Get some frag in there," Anne advised, blind firring over a log.

"Frag away!" Dean called back.

The frag grenade detonated, taking with it a single unfortunate Drone; who was flipped bodily into the air to land amidst the underbrush some feet away. Only three Drones remained, and each where behind cover, blind-firing from their positions. Anne edged her way towards Gary's back, where she retrieved the Cavalier Assault Rifle strapped there. Slotting in a single frag grenade, she got up under cover from Gary, and propelled that grenade right into the trunk of a tree! Snapping wood sounded, Locust screamed and Dean yelled. A smokescreen went up from his thrown smoke grenade, where he ran through, bullets whizzing past him.

"Cover me, Anne!" Gary took charge after his young friend, hoping and praying Dean didn't do anything stupid.

Thankfully he didn't. Once he cleared the smoke, Dean kept his head down and fired strategically, waiting for the Locust to reload. He was in a prime flanking position. A single well-placed frag would take all three of the remaining Locust out.

"Cover me," Gary said, grinning from ear-to-ear. In his hand was a frag grenade, his intentions clear.

Dean accepted Gary's Mk. 1 Lancer and rested the barrel of both the Lancer and his own Hammerburst on the fallen trunk that served as his cover. Squeezing both triggers, the recoil tremendous, Dean sustained the fire until Gary had the grenade aimed and thrown! As quickly as the skirmish began, it ended, and silence fell over the area.

"Nicely played, Dean. Very nicely played." Gary slapped his shoulder and took back his Lancer. "Just don't make a habit of it, eh? Sarge would kill me if his greenhorns got killed."

"You handled yourself very well," Anne added, running over.

"Any injuries?" Gary asked, looking over both his allies. "No? Then that's a wrap. Come in, Dawn 1."

"We read you, Dawn 2. What's your status?" Briggs replied.

"We're continuing through as planned." Gary reported. "Hit some Locust resistance. Land-based, no E-hole. Continuing on as planned."

"Any injuries?"

"No, sir. Dean done well. Made the difference, in fact."

"Keep up the good work, son." Briggs intoned. It was music to Dean's ears. "Just don't overexert yourself. You're no use to me dead. Dawn 1, out."

"You heard the man," Gary ruffled his young friends hair, before taking point. "Let's move out, people! We've got a compound to investigate."

Dean was beginning to like his new job. Sure it was bloody and dangerous. But here he was making a difference. Here he was needed.

Meeting the Militiamen Edit

Apparently Briggs set a faster pace through the trees than Gary did. A mere twenty minutes after their radio conversation, and Briggs, leading Dawn 1, came upon the compound roughly half a mile away from the edge of the trees. Max found it was everything the COG had said it was. Electricity was running to the concrete wall along the entire perimeter, for bright lights where burning. And the pluming worked too. There weren't any bad, lingering odors that left little to the imagination.

"Nice place," Max remarked.

"Makes you wonder how they survived this long." Joceline added. "Oh... and Sergeant Briggs? Mind doing me a favor?"

Briggs merely turned his head, his face saying "hurry up".

"Most mistake me for a guy with this get-up... so..."

"Don;t see the problem. Bridgett McMillan was one of the best darn gears I've ever served with, and she was a woman. But whatever, I understand your position, Jack." He even managed a wink.

So Joceline fell in behind Max, smiling from ear-to-ear.

"Sarge, movement on the wall. Human," Max was the eyes apparently. He saw everything through the scope of his Longshot.

"Humans? Well, what you wan'?" The guard patrolling the wall called down.

"I'm here on behalf of the COG. Someone set off a distress beacon. We're here to ascertain the cause, possible threat level and, if possible, aid any survivors." Briggs called back up, rather professionally, at that. There hadn't been a single swear throughout. Huh, miracle.

"I thought these guys where part of the COG, sir." Max whispered. "They look more like Stranded to me. Did you see that guys clothes? And the settlement..." Most of it was made from old tin, layered for extra protection.

"Loose affiliation, I'd say." Briggs whispered back. "I'd imagine they get occasional supplies that way," he then pointed to an in-coming chopper. "See that? That's a damn Tern Attack Chopper. Those beauties haven't been used since the Pendulum Wars. I imagine these people are scavengers, just like the Stranded. Don't expect a warm welcome though, even if they do say they're affiliated with us."

"Yeah, we're probably pigs to them, as well." Joceline added.

"Don't worry," Max said, edging closer to her. "I've got your back. I've got a good view that way." That earned him a punch on the arm!

"Enough!" Briggs hissed. "Max, keep it professional, at least for now. Jack, keep your temper."

"Come on up," and a rope ladder was dropped over the side of the wall, which the members of Dawn 1 quickly scaled.

"We've got three others in-bound," Max advised. "ETA about ten minutes, twenty at the most."

Briggs only hoped he was right. Gray, Anne and Dean may have done a good job against a single band of Locust, but that didn't mean they'd be alright against superior odds the likes of which where encountered at Timgad Valley. "Now, show me around." Briggs got straight to business. "Max, keep an eye out for Dawn 2. Jack, you're with me."

Reunion Edit

Joceline, under the alias of Jack, followed closely behind her sergeant. Briggs set a fast pace, causing their guide to speed up just to safe face. A ladder led them down from the wall and onto the outskirts of Algangi, where Joceline finally got a look at this compound the COG had told her about yesterday evening. It looked more like a small town really. Most of the buildings where two stories, with shuttered windows of patched metal. The streets where clear of filth and people walked around with their backs straight and heads high. You wouldn't have thought them fifteen years into the war that was breaking humanity's back. There was a general feeling of... peace. It was unnerving.

"How many people are here?" There where plenty of children running around playing that Joceline had a fairly good notion. Though young girls where few and far between.

"'Bout eighty," the guide replied.

Briggs merely nodded his head. He was eying each individual building, each face and each alleyway. Joceline had saw that he'd done the same as he walked through the woods. It always paid to be familiar with your surroundings, he had said. Having him here really helped her confidence. Now she felt bad for Max, sitting alone, waiting for the others. He was probably bored out of his mind.

And she wasn't far wrong either. Max stood like an armored statue, Longshot in hand, eye to the scope. He liked Briggs so far, but why did the old coot need to station him here!? There was little cover except a concrete wall up to his waist that'd equal sweet F.A against a Boomshot, and, this high up, the wind sliced right through him! God it was cold. Trust Dean to take forever to show himself. It was always like this, ever since they were kids playing hide and go seek. Only now they were using guns, and discovery could spell death.

Beautiful thought.

Then he saw movement. He squinted through the scope, exhaled slowly, and shifted his posture ever so little. The result was a steady stance and still hands. There wasn't a single tremor. The trees where moving. Max was aiming. He could glimpse armor amidst greenery, and only when he saw white skin did he take his finger from the trigger.

"Here I thought I'd be waiting all bloody day!" He roared down.

Anne was the first up the ladder, followed by Dean and finally Gary. The brothers couldn't resist a quick hug, for they where rarely separated long. With the exception of Nash and Ethan, all they had was each other.

"Heard you gave those Locust the ol' what for." Max greeted.

"You know it, bro." And he and Dean bumped their guns together, grinning from ear-to-ear.

"I take it that Briggs and Joceline went ahead, then?" Anne asked.

"Yeah, Briggs and Jack went to talk to the boss." Max corrected, narrowing his eyes at her.

"I'll explain later," Gary whispered. "For now, I want you two to keep watch. If we ran into land-based Locust in the woods, then its safe to assume they've got a forward base somewhere nearby. Dean, Max, keep your eyes open. I'll radio in the verdict."

And as soon as that the brothers where alone again.

Night Ops Edit

Night had fallen over Algangi, with Dawn Squad fitting right in. Dean found it amazing how unlike Stranded those in the settlement where. They where immensely organized, with a clear-cut chain of command and seasoned veterans. And the woman -- who weren't placed in the birthing farms -- and children too young for war worked the fields, providing food. Most of the Militiamen where middle-aged men and woman who'd fought in the Pendulum Wars, or where old enough to fight the Locust the moment they reared their ugly heads -- it made for a strong and cohesive fighting front. Some, like old David Pliskin -- the leader of the Militiamen -- had been fighting almost all their lives. Operations on the island ran like clockwork. Briggs had even said in passing that if Jacinto ever fell, Algangi would make for a good defensible location. After the comment he encouraged Dean and Gary to look over the islands maps, and they'd both see what he meant. In the meantime Max was helping David's oldest son, Steven, run night patrol through the woods. Joceline -- who'd dropped the alias -- was helping repair old machinery, with Anne assisting in the hospital.

"Look at this," Dean took the map from Gary and gave the geography a long look.

It was intricately detailed -- probably drawn up by the Militiamen themselves. The terrain itself was varied. There were two mountainous areas divided by a central valley, splitting the island into north and south. The highest point on the map, labelled "The Crags", was in the north and reached a full 620 metres (2,034 ft) above sea level. The northern end of the island was a flat plain, consisting of glacial tills and marine sediments, with only occasional pockets of forestry. To the south the island was more hilly, with distinct valleys and larger pockets of forestry. Red dots denoted bases -- both old and new -- with Algangi positioned in the one of the larger pockets of forestry to the north. Other outlying settlements where also depicted, colored in green; which signified Stranded. Aside from the town Algangi three other large settlements where shown, though one had been overrun. It was colored in red, signifying that the Locust held the position. To top it all off the island benefited from an abyssal trench, which prevented the Locust digging to it, removing most of their advantage. Briggs hadn't been far wrong. The place was as close to perfect as the COG could hope for!

"Can we stay here?" Gray asked jokingly after pouring over the maps and getting a good idea on the lay of the surrounding terrain.

"We could use the extra hands," Davids youngest son, Martin, said from the doorway.

"I can well believe it," Gary replied. "How many in these two settlements to the south?" He pointed out the two locations on the map.

"About three hundred between them." Martin said after a moment. "Jim's Outpost as we call it was the one who set off the distress beacon. They've been tussling with the Locust for weeks now."

"And you didn't help!?" Dean was astounded.

"Survival," Gary whispered. "They're Stranded, Dean. Would they help us?" It was a cruel point to make. Weren't they all human?

"Your friend is right," and Martin walked back towards the door. "Remember something, kid. Humanity isn't as noble as you think. In some ways, we're just as bad as the Locust."

Night on Algangi wasn't all bad. Max found he even enjoyed the company. Steven Pliskin was a hard task master, but fair. He was as hard as old shoe leather, and gave good advice. He'd already given Max some neat pointers on sniping, demonstrated hunting tactics, and gifted to him a machete. "You never wanna lay into a Locust with your bare hands," he had said. Steven had led the group out of the forest and onto the open plains of the north. The terrain was rugged and scarred. The grass was short and trampled in most places, and vehicle tracks where cut into the earth.

"You wanna watch open spaces like this," Steven was saying. "See the hill towers?" They where made of wood and pieces of old tin and overlooked the entire plain. "Sometimes the Locust push past the central valley and onto the plains. The barren ground camouflages them better than you'd think."

"I can believe it," Max said simply. "Here." And he offered his new friend a cigarette, which Steven accepted with a nod of his head.

"...Now this is a luxury I haven't enjoyed in a long time..." By the time they got underway again, Steven had what was left of the packet tucked into his pocket, for Max "could get more".

"How goes the repairs?" Briggs asked.

He was running his own patrol, looking over the settlement and making his own assessments. The place was sound enough when it came to defense, and the food was flowing thanks to the farm land around, but the place was starting to look rundown. The Tern they had saw earlier was damaged -- it wouldn't have been cleared to fly on the mainland. The same could be said for the three APC's the Militiamen kept. Briggs found Joceline in the third, which had been refitted to serve as a mobile communications base.

"Which version you want?" Joceline asked him, sticking her head out the door.

"Short, please."

"The parts are old, but salvageable. With luck and some perseverance, not to mention a booster for the signal, I'll be fit to patch through to the CIC on the mainland." That was her being optimistic though.

"I'm leaving you and Gary here. I'm for taking the others down south, over the Valley. I need to find out why that distress beacon was set off. Do whatever you can to get a connection raised with Control. I trust we'll have radio?"

"Short-range sure. Long-range? I'll need to work through the night." Yet Joceline didn't seem to care. In fact she seemed happy at the prospect.

"Get it done,"

Briggs left with that, and sought out the rest of his squad. It didn't take long. They where in the dining house playing cards at one of the central tables. Max had returned and was betting up a storm, with a hand holding four kings. Dean wasn't doing bad either, for he'd just been handed a flashlight as a prize. Gary was with Anne at the bar, knocking back chilled brews. Any other time he would've said something, for the two where clearly fraternizing with one another... yet you only lived once, and Gary deserved a little happiness after the disaster of their last mission.

"Gary, Anne," he greeted. He bought himself a drink and stood a while before speaking. "We leave tomorrow heading south. I want a look at these settlements you told me about, especially the one that set off that distress beacon." He took another swig. "Gary, you and Joceline will stay here. She's working on long-range communications. Help shore up the defenses if you can."

"Will do, Sarge." And he excused himself so Anne could get prepared. He took a seat at the poker table beside Dean, where he began whispering advice.

"I don't mean to be an old fashioned bastard," Briggs said as Anne began to leave, "but be careful around the COG. Some would report you two simply because they can. Me? My eyes aren't what they used to be. Goodnight, Anne."

"Thanks, Briggs. Goodnight."

"Sweet!" Dean called. When Briggs looked over his young private had just won a pocket knife, where he then excused himself from the game, saying his luck had run its course. "Not bad for my first time."

Maybe this wouldn't go as badly as Briggs thought...

The Journey South Edit

The highlands near the center of Algangi weren't all that aptly named Dean found as Briggs led him, Anne and Max over the rough terrain. The Crags? Yeah, right. The Rocky Highlands fit better. The sun was high and the wind was pleasant. The trek could even be called pleasant. Briggs preferred his own company, and Anne was busying herself looking through maps. That left Dean and Max taking up the rear, talking quietly.

Dean missed their talks. They'd gotten briefer and briefer ever since they'd begun their training. Back in basic they'd shared some nighttime talks, but those where short and ended quickly, sleep taking the brothers in its hold.

"Remember Nash dressed as a clown?"

They hadn't been rich growing up. They had lived with their parents old neighbors, who had happened to be visiting Jacinto the day the Locust first emerged, and they'd played second best to the couples true-born son and daughter. On Dean and Max's seventh birthday, Nash managed to get himself a dusty clown costume out of somewhere and put on his own magic show in the street. All the children turned out to see him pulling old ribbons from a hat, juggling beaten rubber balls and making a first-grade ass of himself. Yet the twins had laughed and clapped and screamed, delighted that their older brother had made the effort. Even the passing Gears looked at him and smiled. One had even given Dean and Max a birthday gift -- a handful of loose change which, at the time, bought the twins, Ethan and Nash a pocketful of sweets apiece.

"Remember Misty?"

Misty was their old cat. Dean and Max had found her as a kitten. Between them they'd managed to catch the little thing -- it'd been half wild, and equally as hungry. The twins had grinned from ear-to-ear, enjoying every moment. It didn't matter to them that the cat scrapped them in ribbons. When they paraded her in-front of Nash a little later, who found it hard enough feeding his brothers never-mind a cat; he'd just smiled, patted the cat on the head, and produced some food for it to chew. It had followed them ever since, and Misty became a part of their family. Amazing how the simple things in life brought the biggest joy. If only some where so lucky.

They where dragged back to reality by Anne. She handed Dean the maps he recognized from last night and told to chart them a route. It wasn't hard. The maps the Militiamen kept where clearly defined and easily read. He had their route picked in a matter of minutes.

"I worry about the future," she said softly.

Max gave her a sideways glance. He'd never been good at consoling anyone. That had been Nash and Gary's strong suit. All he had been good at was lookout, which may explain why he was such a fantastic shot with a sniper rifle. But he opened his mouth regardless. He might as well try and find some common ground with her. Nash had warned that he'd be best getting to know his squad, whether they where men, or woman. It was too bad the only woman he was comfortable around was Lisa Shepard -- who'd also been like a mother to him. Maybe that had something to do with it?

He sighed. "I wouldn't," he said simply. "We'll kill the Locust, re-build civilization. Count on it,"

She didn't have a chance to reply, for Briggs called a halt and told them to find cover. It didn't take long for the members of Dawn to see why.

They had taken the high-ground so they'd be fit to see farther. To their right was a short fall to the valley below, where Locust where seen. The largest drone either Gear had ever seen commanded them, and Max silently hefted his Longshot, the question in his eyes.

"Do I shoot?" Those eyes said.

Briggs shook his head, pointing farther down the valley from where they knelt behind the natural stone formations. More Locust where coming, walking at a slow pace. The big drone barked a command and they picked up speed, running in the direction the Gears had come.

"... Sarge...!"

Briggs followed Deans pointing finger. His eyes went as wide as saucers. In the sky were several Reavers.

"Keep your heads down," Briggs said slowly, forcefully. It came as a fierce whisper. "Don't make a fucking noise. Anyone."

Dean didn't need to be told twice. The Reaver was about the ugliest thing he'd ever seen! Like big insects not so much flying, but floating and hovering. They hissed as they moved, and where soon nothing more but blots on the horizon.

"Holy shit," Max swore. "We need to warn Gary and Jackie," Jackie was what Joceline had been called when the twins, she and Gary had been together growing up.

"Gary, this is Dawn 1. Come in."

"I read you, Sarge. What's up?"

"You've got about twenty-five fucking Locust heading your way, with the type of air-support that me and you like tearing apart with Chain guns."

"... Lovely," Gary replied. "I gotcha, Sarge. I'll tell David to shore things up. Oh yeah, before I forget! Jackie got the communications up and running."

"Keep us posted," Briggs said with a smile. Something was finally going right. "Dawn 1 out. Let's move." They still had a long way to go...

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