Exclusion Zone, Part 2

By the time both Shandra and I wheeled and faced the single point of ingress/egress they fell upon us. Having dissected a few exospecies in my time, I detested what most of the mercenaries simply called ‘gorillas’ the most. They stank. Plain and simple, the odor of one of the brutes reduced the toughest people I’ve ever met to their knees. One of the benefits of being in full combat garb on a forsaken dust ball was that filtered air pumped through the helmet to be breathable. Smelling the gorillas became unnecessary when fighting them.

Only three clomped through the door, but they shot as they entered. Luckily the shots registered hits on the important equipment behind us. Even with shielding, taking a slug from a gorilla’s bolt thrower hurts. Without shields a single projectile killed a full grown elephant in laboratory tests. It advanced Earth-based munitions significantly upon acquisition. Shandra and I loosed our own salvo, and I silently thanked whoever might be listening that none of the gorillas had shielding of their own.

“Two to your one,” she gloated.

“You want to count the five I dealt with on the way over also?” I asked her. Silence filled the com-channel. Shandra obviously outgunned me on accuracy, but she didn’t bring me along for my prowess with firearms. Honestly, I thought she only invited me along on this crazy expedition so that if she died, someone would be able to notify her next of kin about it. I approached the lead riddled corpses, my excitement akin to a child on Christmas. I dissected a gorilla or two, but I never saw their equipment. I wanted to scrutinize the five I had killed on the way to the bunker, but I needed to keep Shandra’s breakneck pace. I re-engaged my helmets recording protocols and began my examination.

“Technological Survey of gorilla grunts. Bolt throwers even more impressive than publicly released video of lab test. Look to be intended to fire in a hire gravity environment. Limited ammunition in the magazine. Most likely single round drops most targets. Uniforms on bodies suggest military caste system. Patches on sleeves reminiscent of brands used on Roman legionnaires. Uniforms appear to be hermetically sealed. Subjects are much bulkier in uniform than out. There’s some sort of complex machinery, function unknown. Further testing should provide insight into the purpose behind it. Full helmets indicate that atmosphere of Mars is not natural to them either.”

By the time I finished, Shandra milled about further up the tunnel leading out into the red sands.

“A little help collecting some of this stuff?” I said to her. She shrugged but walked over and grabbed two of the bolt throwers before returning to her assumed post. I set my attention to removing a helmet from the most intact of the grunts. Some careful work with my omni-tool eventually revealed the gorillas ugly face. It resembled a tuskless walrus more than a gorilla. Several minutes later I managed to secure the beast’s boots and the intricate harness that occupied its shoulders. Shandra and I left the bunker and began our trek back to her ship.

Apropos of: I had a reader request that I continue This Post


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