Over the night, the UNCC units slept while small groups would take shifts on watch. Kellogg as amongst the last group.
"Sleeping hours are over! Normally I would say 'rise and shine', but it's just as dark out there as when we first got here. The next point of interest is only a few east kilometers from here. In case the next place proves too tough to handle, we will need this place to fall back on. 50 people. I want 50 people to remain here. This mine is large and will need that many guards."
There was a rise of debate amongst the crowd. Kellogg could hardly hear himself think.
"That's enough! I know we haven't lost any men yet, but we've been lucky. We need to start taking careful steps. If we have no backup plan, we are all screwed. 50 people will remain here and that's final!"
They went silent.
"Do I have volunteers?
They began chattering at a softer tone.
"All volunteers step forward."
A group of people stepped forward. Kellogg raised his hand and began counting.
"That's 62. 12 people will need to come with us."
8 people stepped back. Kellogg surveyed the remainder.
"You, you, you, and you. You're coming with us. As for the 50 volunteers, this is no free pass from battle. You will need to continuously check the whole perimeter for any sign of hostiles. Practice your anti ambush tactics like back at home. I will be assigning a captain now."
A few more minutes passed before a captain was assigned.
"Okay. Everyone else, we will now be embarking to the next enemy facility. We don't know what to expect there. Be on your A game! Let's go!"
Within moments, the mine grew much quieter as the other 300 soldiers embarked for the next enemy base.
The storm had ceased. One by one, the regime had made their way back to the surface. After a short conversation with Snowden, Kellogg had directed the army to march forth back into the wilderness.
Sardec remained quiet throughout the march. 15 minutes after embarking, his remaining VOIDs appeared out of his backpack.
"I don't think I like being around so many organisms." Said Catalyst. "That larger shield required more energy than what is recommended."
"Some of us would have dissolved if I didn't request that much power from you." Sardec said in reply.
"I am not ready for another overcharge. Should hazardous airborne materials arise again, I would recommend the others find cover."
"I just hope the rain doesn't come back. And with Hygeio gone, I'll have to be more careful not to get hit."
"Hey! That won't be too hard with Twilight here to help you!" Twilight said floating around excitedly.
"I can't afford to get cocky." Sardec said as he held the F-ADV Hatredspine close.
"We're halfway there!" Kellogg shouted. "Keep your weapons close and expect anything to happen!"
"Enough chatting, VOIDs. Stay focused and alert me of any hostiles."
"Command accepted." The VOIDs said in unison.
"That's creepy." Said a soldier nearby.
"Sorry. I don't know how to turn that off."
Mining Site Delta
The UNCC had arrived at the next base. Unlike the previous empty mine, this station had an exterior structure. Remote charges were placed by the widest wall that stood before them.
"Weapons ready!" Shouted Kellogg. "Now!"
A series of clicking sounds were heard shortly before everyone's hearing was overwhelmed by the sounds of explosions. They all shouted war cries as they charged forward past the cloud of dust. Before the enemies inside could see the incoming regime, bullets, lasers, and explosive projectiles hurled through the dust cloud, striking both them and various structures.
Soon enough the UNCC advanced through the dust cloud as they continued discharging their weapons. The enemy troops ran for cover, fumbling to ready their own weapons. Human soldiers fired various explosive projectiles at the points of cover, exposing the Diathel threat. Exposed enemy units discharged their S.H.I.E.L.D backpacks, striking multiple UNCC units, causing them to spread out.
"Threats everywhere!" Exclaimed Collapsar. "Explosive use highly recommended!"
"Do not attack!" Replied Sardec, who was keeping his weapon down.
He walked about the battlefield, attempting to get close to the fallen enemies.
"Sardec! What the hell are you doing!? Get back here!" Shouted Nikida in an annoyed tone.
"I have to check! Leave me be!" He replied, unaware of the enemy Knight hiding nearby.
"Sardec, watch out!"
Nikida ran towards Sardec as the enemy Knight stood out of its cover point, ready to prance. She slid on her legs, firing her TII-3 Eternity pistols as the Knight was airborne. The strike pushed the enemy back on the ground. Nikida got back to her feet and struck the Knight's face with the butt of her weapon. Enraged, the Knight swiped its arm at her, pushing her off of it. It got back to its feet and approached her fallen body and prepared to smash her in the ground.
"Sardec, shoot it!"
Sardec then snapped out of it and quickly fired the HatredSpine at the Knight's back, knocking it to its belly. Nikida reached for her pistols and shot the creature dead. Lava bled from the corpse, destroying its remains. Sardec held his hand out to Nikida, helping her up.
"I'm sorry!" He exclaimed. "But I still need to-"
Nikida then grabbed his hand and pulled them away, as bullets began striking the ground they previously stood on.
"Sardec! We need you to focus! I need you to focus."
"O...Okay. Okay! I'll help."
One Diathel Knight pinned Sardec and Nikida in a corner, firing its M-Z7B2 near their cover point. The bullet stream then stopped and weapon cocking was heard. Sardec poked his head out and fired his HatredSpine at the same time the Knight fired a grenade from its minigun. The projectiles struck midair, causing a large explosion.
A helix pair of rockets struck the Knight from the side, killing it. Kellogg approached, carrying his Gemini-32.
"Are you two alright?"
"Yeah, thanks for the cover fire." Replied Nikida.
"Good, because we're starting to push them back. Let's advance fo-"
A rumble overtook the base. The UNCC soldiers readied their weapons, pointed at the far end of the base.
A Nasty Surprise
From where the enemy retreated, a large floating cylindrical machine with two rotary arms slowly approached. From the top, a metallic face appeared with sharp teeth and glowing orange eyes.
Bullets and lasers struck the chassis of the machine. It extended its rotary arms forward and began firing explosive bullets. Soldiers in the line of fire were blown to pieces.
They ran to various tactical positions, now surrounding the machine. Bullets and lasers were not striking it from every direction. The machine lowered to the ground and began spinning violently, causing projectiles to ricochet in every direction. The soldiers ceased fire and hid for cover as maniac laughter could be heard from inside the machine.
Kellogg accessed his helmet's built-in radio and relayed a personal message to his regime:
"Use explosive weapons. Let's see that thing try to deflect explosions."
As the machine continued to spin, heavy weapons specialists arose from cover wielding a variety of explosive weaponry, including rocket launchers, gloves, and shotguns. The machine failed to deflect these projectiles, and they sent its balance off-center. The machine fell to its side, still spinning. The UNCC units retreated back to cover as the machine was sending chunks of dirt in every direction. Within seconds, the machine suffered enough damage to cease its spin cycle and for its eyes to stop glowing.
Kellogg approached the offline machine. The head fell off, revealing the cockpit below with a Diathel armored in Magma armor inside. Lava leaked from its wounds as it pressed one last button. The machine rumbled and fired several spheres into the air. The spheres exploded, leaving clouds of acidic mist.
The UNCC retreated quickly from the mist as it corroded through the machine and the deceased pilot's armor, allowing the lava to escape and melt the body.
"Casualty report!" Kellogg requested.
"35 dead, sir!" One soldier replied.
"Damn it! We can't have things like those robots getting in our way again. There are still hostiles that retreated. Let's get after them!"
It was at that moment that everyone's helmets received a message:
"Calling out for backup! Is anyone listening!?"
"This is Valcode Kellogg! What's the situation?"
"These Knight things came back! They're running us down here! Tearing us apart! One of them is different! Please send reinforcements! Can't hold on any lo-"
A low-pitched roar was heard and the man on the radio began screaming in terror, shortly before the transmission was cut off.
The people began chattering amongst each other in confusion.
"Enough, people! We can't let the enemy get away!"
Sardec spoke up. "Kellogg, I volunteer to go help them!"
"Okay, fine. I'll send you back with 19 other backup units."
Kellogg took a moment to assign 19 units to Sardec's squad.
"We'll cover things from here. Get back to us as soon as you can. Everyone else, on me! We're cleansing this base for good!"
Sardec and his men set off from the hole the UNCC destroyed, heading back to assist the 50 men who stayed behind at the one empty mine.