The outer line of the Sisterhood's defenses ran parallel to the Hudson River from a distance of about five blocks and was concentrated at barricaded intersections. Fire teams operated from rooftops and waited in ambush for the enemy to engage the troops at the barricades. Each team could operate independently of the others, was prepared to move to a different location, and had between three and four fallback positions before hitting the second line of defense. Raylene hoped that the aliens were charging headlong into her prepared positions as her strategists had predicted.
"Okay, teams of two then." Raylene explained, eyeing the intersection ahead. "Keep at least fifty feet apart and we'll leap frog from corner to corner. Eliza, with me, we'll take this first one."
Raylene drew her custom designed pistol, nicknamed "the hummingbird" by the engineers, and jogged at a crouch towards the street corner ahead of her. They made their way in this manner for the six blocks to the command post for the third and final line of defense. The sounds of combat grew louder as they approached and Raylene could occasionally spot the top of a fireball cresting over the dense buildings. On their way they passed a solitary civilian. It was an elderly man in a worn coat and crumpled fedora and he was wheeling a shopping cart full of laptops and shotguns. He waved inanely at the women as they moved quickly past him.
At a glance the 7-11 serving as the command center appeared normal from the outside, but the moment Raylene passed through the buzzing entrance she was transported to a state of the art bunker. The windows were barricaded with triple stacks of cinder blocks and the merchandise had been hauled into the freezer so that card tables and laptops could be set up. The women present rose and saluted as they realized who was in their midst.
"Ma'am!" The Princeps in charge of the command post clicked her heels and saluted.
Raylene brushed past her towards the bank of monitors.
"Are these live feeds?" She asked, gesturing to a quartet of monitors showing footage from some sort of aerial camera.
"Drone cams, yes ma'am." The officer explained. "Things are going well, the first line has mostly held and we have inflicted enough damage to convince them to pull back and consolidate."
"Show me." Raylene ordered and the Princeps hurried to instruct the drone operators where to move.
"You can see here that our ambushes have crippled several of their armored vehicles. It's difficult to achieve much more than a mobility kill on their tanks but we have achieved better results with what few gauss guns we had available." The Princeps was older than most and pointed to a smoking wreck of a tank with a long boney finger. "I believe by moving troops forward from the second line we can replace casualties sustained during the initial assault and better prepare for the second."
Raylene studied the footage coming back carefully.
"This wasn't an assault." She said after several seconds. "This was a probing action. Pull first and second lines back now."
"Ma'am?! One line isn't-" Raylene grabbed the woman by her high armored collar and pulled free the woman's communications link with her other hand.
"This is third line stratcom to all units of first and second line. Retreat immediately to third line redoubts. Repeat: retreat immediately to third line redoubts." Raylene released the communicator and shoved the woman back roughly. "You idiot, they attacked along the three main arteries with a handful of armor, no supporting infantry, and an obvious willingness to retreat. What the blue fuck do you think they are going to do next?"
"I- they have exhibited a tendency to charge-" The Princeps began.
"Short range tracking reports multiple aircraft approaching through cloud cover." Interjected a tracking controller. "Looks like 50 plus, still picking up more."
"That," Raylene said, "is what they are doing next."
Don't let the winter dryness destroy your sinuses.
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