The last five minutes had been nothing short of a nightmare for Private Armando “Pronto” Vasquez.
The roar of the Vertibird’s propellers was a background soundtrack to his misery. At each possible moment, the aircraft seemed to change direction, followed shortly thereafter by a muffled thump. It didn’t take a military genius to realize what that meant. They were being flakked. At any second, Firefly’s piloting could be just short of godlike. That would mean that this Vertibird would become a fiery, falling coffin for himself and the rest of Yankee squad.
But it never happened. Firefly kept his cool, pushing down on the joystick of the aircraft as they dropped into a dizzy descent. Vasquez found himself very glad for the full helmet of his Advanced Power Armor Mk I; it kept his expression of sheer terror from view. He couldn’t help but let out a small cry as Yankee squad’s pilot suddenly pulled the Vertibird up, and though Vasquez could not see through the viewport from his position at the back of the craft, he knew— he just knew— that Firefly had barely avoided making the vehicle a pancake on the Nevada ground.
“We’ve gotten through the perimeter!” Firefly called out to the rest of the squad. “Too close for their Howitzers to reach us now, but it looks like they’re already mobilizing. Better get ready.”
Sergeant Osborn turned to face his squad. Vasquez could see his face, impassive and unafraid as usual, beneath the brim of his cap. “You heard him, apes! Get your asses on the ready line, go, go, go!”
That was their cue. As the Vertibird settled to the ground with a heavy thump, the rest of Yankee squad rose from their seats. Big Mama took point, hefting her ammo pack and spooling her minigun as she prepared to leave the craft. Little Sis took her place behind the Corporal, slapping a fresh pack of mini-rockets into her launcher. They would prove invaluable against their heavily-armored opponents.
“How the hell did the Brotherhood even get ahold of Area 51, anyway?” Vasquez asked as he stood behind Wakahisa. He checked the microfusion battery beneath the barrel of his YK42b Pulse Rifle. The seal was primed, as it was supposed to be, but he realigned it for sheer safety. It wouldn’t do to have the weapon misfire while he was holding it; he doubted even the armor he was wearing could withstand the electrical charge. “I mean, doesn’t that seem like something we should have held onto after the war?”
“We did,” Sergeant Osborn answered, the sharpness of his voice making Vasquez cringe. “But a skeleton crew of rookies like yourself can’t do much against a platoon of Brotherhood paladins. This is an important military installation, and that makes this mission high-priority. So don’t half-ass this.”
“Got it…” Vasquez muttered.
“Got it, what?”
“Got it, Sergeant!”
“Good,” Osborn continued. He slammed a fist on the release button to his side, and the hatch of the Vertibird slid open with a low rumble. “Now move your asses!”
The three soldiers dashed through the open hatch to the ground below. All around them, hundreds of other Enclave soldiers were already on the move, and the sound and sizzle of plasma and laser fire filled the air as the Brotherhood engaged them. The sky above was overcast, grey clouds shielding the sun from view. It was a fact for which Vasquez was very grateful; the air conditioning in his suit wasn’t even halfway good enough, and the last thing he needed was to be a casualty of heat stroke during one of the Enclave’s biggest offensives.