The multifaceted view of the mulebot filling his vision, the fuslier hacker’s fingers danced and flickered in the air. To a casual observer it may have looked as though he was conducting an invisible orchestra, raising a silent choir to a noiseless crescendo. Instead, his delicate movements were being exactly duplicated by the artificial appendages of the remote, hundreds of meters away on the other side of the battlefield, activating a complicated sequence of key presses as the hacker sought to decode the alien console.
Suddenly the image of an enemy trooper filled the display, standing up from its hiding place behind the lip of the roof, bringing up its, no, her, primitive weapon, every detail picked out in crystal clear clarity. He barely acknowledged that it was a woman, female soldiers as common to Paradiso as the spent shell cases that littered the ground all over the planet, more interested in the cables feeding into her helmet which identified her as an enemy hacker, a threat. Index fingers formed triggers on both hands, then squeezed as the hacker sent a silent command to the combi-rifles mounted on the remote. The woman’s eyes widened as the bullets entered her body, her own shots forced up and wide as she fell back over the lip, her chest a bloody ruin.
The hacker’s eyes surveyed the corpse, as dull and lifeless as the toughened glass of the remote’s lenses. His fingers moving rapidly again, he returned to his task, a ghost of a smile doing nothing to warm his features as he successfully activated the techno-device, the reflected light from his display turning his face into a rictus mask.
“Techno-device activated. Preparing to triangulate. Stand by”.
Warnings strobed over his display as the sensors on the mulebot picked up movement to its right. A head peered out, then disappeared in a spray of red mist as the shells hit home, painting the wall behind. The body remained standing for what seemed like minutes, a silent, headless sentinel, before inevitably collapsing, the arterial spay from the neck fading from a fountain to a dribble.
“Triangulation complete. Coordinates secured.”
Surveying the battlefield, the awkward, inhuman shapes of the dead and dying, the hacker felt no sense of victory. Instead, a wave of tiredness engulfed him, causing him to stumble, the movement replicated by the mulebot.
“Fusilier Stallone, what’s your status?” crackled a voice in his helmet, then, after a moment, “Dutch… are you alright?”
He paused, clenching and unclenching his hands, trying in vain to stop them trembling. “Ready for extraction” he radioed wearily to the dropship, severing the link from the remote and crouching down on his haunches to wait.