Flash Fiction: Tethered Losses

Flash Fiction challenge. All challengees originate from Chuck Wendig’s http://www.terribleminds.com. Choose Four items:
An unopened envelope. A rocking chair. A chess piece. A road sign. A child’s toy. A leather mask. An animal skull. An iron horseshoe A police officer’s badge.
The fun of this story was I started writing it before the challenge and I knew what the end would be.

Tethered Losses
Corbett rallied his men. He came up ten short.
“Harle, where’re the twins? And Jamison?”
“They all took hits, sir. Blokly went down too.”
“Christ. What can I do with five men?”
“Four men and a woman, sir.”
Corbett looked at Sanchez. “That’s dirty, coming from one like you. Your kind got us into this mess.”
Sanchez turned his gaze downward. His talent was hit and run. It was also his curse.
“Sorry, Alexa. Just a figure of speech.”
“’Sokay, Captain. I figure Sanchez is off his rocker at this point.” She whispered, ”Too many shots to the head.”
“I can hear, you know.”
Corbett stepped in before they came to blows. “We all need to work together. You know the consequences if we don’t.”
“Yes, captain,” they both said.
“Now, I want… Hey, everyone huddle up. This is important. I want Alexa on their flank. You’re too fast for them to pick you off. Harle, I want you running center with Sanchez behind you.”
They nodded.
“Gancho, you need to run in behind their lines.”
“Captain, isn’t that dangerous?”
“It is. You will be on distraction. Same for Peart. I don’t care if you have to throw rocks. You get in there and draw the heat off of these three.”
Gancho and Peart both nodded, though they knew what it meant if they had to throw rocks.
“Captain,” Alexa said. “What are you going to do?”
“I’m bringing in the big guns.”

Corbett touched each of their coalition patches. This team came from bits and pieces of other teams. These were the survivors. These were the ones who would not return home to their loved ones. They were the outcasts now.
Sanchez had two rooks – one chess piece and one bird. Alexa had a tornado. Harle had the badge of law enforcement from his borough. Gancho’s was a plain skull sans crossbones. And Peart’s was a log; he said it was cedar. Corbett touched his own, a leather-bound book. These all meant something. These symbols would be worthless if they did not succeed.
Corbett knew each man or woman was ready. Each would die for his or her teammate. He wished that would not happen today.

“We wait for the signal.”
“Ready, captain.” They had their positions. Each was crouched in communication distance, yet hidden enough to prevent the enemy from discovering formation.
A loud rumble was followed by a screeching klaxon. Everyone stood.
“What in the sam hill is that?”
A scratchy, computerized voice could be heard though the words were alien to the team.
“Sanchez. What was that?”
“Captain, it sounded like ‘fatality.’ Or ‘swift death.’”
“Say your prayers, boys. And girl. If any of you have an unspent wish lying around, this would be the time to use it.”
“What is it, Captain?” Gancho asked.
“Express overkill.” This might be the end after all. “We still execute the plan. There is no other way now.”
Corbett nodded to the rest of the team. They would carry out their parts as planned.

Most of the opposition was too far away to see. Sanchez was able to see two of the enemy in the haze a great distance away. One had on a mask; the other looked vaguely like it wore a longhorn bull skull. He couldn’t tell if they saw him, but he crouched lower anyway.
Out of the corner of his eye, Sanchez tracked Harle running to a secure point ahead of them. About the same time, Alexa was running east of their position doing a duck and cover where she could. Sanchez launched two orbs ahead of where Harle stopped, making sure they were off center. Distract, cover, and bring up Harle’s rear was his plan.
Corbett disappeared somewhere behind them. Sanchez had never seen the big guns. He held his excitement to a minimum. He lobbed another orb. This one looked to hit an enemy target. It did not leave behind more than shrapnel.
Sanchez moved his position up to match Harle’s earlier spot. Harle was now up two and over one, behind a smaller rock. Sanchez could see the pair of foes from before. The orbs they launched landed in proximity to his position. Close, but not close enough.
He was closer to two klicks away from their rally point. Even so, he heard clearly the snicks to their south.

Alexa moved swiftly behind the rock formations, skirting the areas closest to her team. She made a drunken path toward the enemy. By now she was far enough away to be out of view of most of the enemy. She assumed they could still see her.
Every duck from behind the rock meant she was exposed, even minutely. She feinted right, hoping she was still out of their range. She wanted to be on them before they knew she was close.
Another stop. Her back to the rock. She jumped as soon as she heard the snicks.

Corbett watched as his team took out more of their enemy. It was not enough. Swift death was in effect and the enemy would be as plentiful as cockroaches in the slums. Piece by piece he readied the big guns. He hated the process took as long as it does. He hated the alternative more.
He readied the final piece and moved the Equalizer into position. It would not protect him from enemy fire but it would overcome greater numbers. From his vantage he could see his team execute the orders he established. He witnessed them take out an ever growing number of opponents.
He moved forward, encumbered by the heavy weaponry. Its automatic targeting took care of sighting in. He had only to accept and fire. He aimed away from friendlies when possible.
Corbett made his first target. The machine snicked into place for discharge.
“Let it begin.”
The sky turned to dusk, but did not get darker in that blaze of brilliance.
Dodgeball is Hell.

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