The trooper known to his squad as Cyberfreak, shivered uncontrollably. Shock was now taking effect. If it wasn't for him showing off, he wouldn't be in this predicament. That was twice now, that he failed the team.
Lieutenant Capulet tried her best to make him comfortable, but her own mortal wounds made it hard to focus. The poison from the rippler's spears burned inside her body.
She stumbled, dropping Cyber to the scarlet dirt.
"El-t-tee," he stammered through clenched teeth, "you oh-k-kay?"
She gave him her best smile. "I'm fine, Cyber, but I'm worried about you."
He recoiled in horror. She shouldn't worry about him. Hell, he was the one who got her in trouble. She must have seen the expression on his face, because she carressed his cheek.
"Cyber, it's okay. Do you hear me? It's okay. You'll be fine."
She took a deep breath, and placed his arm around her shoulders. "Come on, just a few more steps."
He let her lead him to the alcove. Gently, she set him down.
"When you get home, Cy, you'll have a story to tell."
He nodded, and pulled his legs up to his chest. His muscles ached from the trembling.
"El-tee, I-I'm s-s-sorry."
A tear slid down her cheek. "Forget it. That's an order." She gripped his hand, and left the retrieval beacon at his side.
Then she was gone.
Cyber didn't see her leave; blood caked his face, and regardless, he was blind. If he hadn't tried to play cat and mouse with a determined warrior bug, he wouldn't be messed up right now.
To make matters worse, the guilt he felt for his squad wasn't close to making amends.
Juliet's Romeos had taken on a brain bug. And won.
It was a suicide mission, the Romeos knew that, but it wasn't in their job description to back out. The fact that they'd been successful only made Cyber bitter.
They were successful, yet... at the last possible moment, the Cyberfreak took pity on the friggin' insect. And that cost his team their lives.
Juliet had yanked him out of harm's way, while her subordinates paid for their escape with their lives. Enraged, Cyber mowed down any moving bug in their way.
Stupid, stupid, stupid!!! Was all he could think to himself.
Only to put the two of them at risk again when a warrior began antagonizing them. Letting them both know, it was only a matter of time before they were dinner.
In his haste to dispatch the bug, Cyber had been careless, and the warrior had managed to shred his arm and claw his face. Even though Cyber had the last word, he wasn't going anywhere, and Juliet Capulet was forced to carry him to safety.
Shivering in the alcove, Cyber felt the sonic boom before the sound and heat waves rushed past him.
It was official: he was alone.
He could feel the bile rise to his throat: the entire mission in chaos because of him. One brain bug for the lives of his team was nowhere an even trade.
He cursed himself and prayed that he would die. Alone.
Cyber heard the sound of a transport's engines.
"Lieutenant, over here!" The voice of an experienced trooper.
"Rico, wait for Doc!"
Rico knelt beside Cyber. "Hey, pal, you the one that called for a taxi?"
Cyber tried to look up, but the shivering dominated every move he made.
Doc cursed under his breath. "Rico, help me get him back to the ship."
"No need to ask, Doc, I'm on it."
Razak, his weapon drawn, barked an order over his shoulder. "Flores, get Ibanez to notify Seattle. We've got a wounded trooper."
Dizzy rushed forward to the cockpit. This was becoming too way deja vu. The fifth time this week that some squad had been decimated, and only one survivor every time. And it was the Roughnecks who kept finding these guys. It was as if... the Roughnecks were on the fringe of something catastrophic. She didn't like it, but alerted Ibanez anyway.
Cyber couldn't feel anything anymore. He didn't care. Maybe, just maybe, he'd get to die.