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Scouts had already marked several points of structural weakness in the tower from which small units could enter. The Neighbors had assigned cursory forces to defend them, assuming (thus far correctly) that BEACON forces would rather fight them head-on.

The three of them crouched behind a bus-sized chunk of rubble, surveying their entry point: a collapsed section of wall on the tower’s right side. Herod’s infrared display marked four Neighbors guards. These were elites, tall and powerful with scales like armor.

Even so, the issue wasn’t taking them out. It was taking them out quietly, to not draw any attention to themselves. “Do either of your suits have subsonic weapons?” she asked Tamar and Zabda.

“I’m a walking tank,” Tamar replied. “The quietest thing I can do is punch, and that still makes a shitload of noise.”

Zabda held up her arm to show off the missile launcher around her wrist. “I have nonlethal electromagnetic disruptors,” she said. “But I’m not a very good shot. I’d need to get close.”

“Hmm.” Herod looked back at the guards. “Colonel, what are the odds they’ll run from me?”

“Low. Neighbors don’t retreat unless they’re facing overwhelming odds.” Tamar grunted. “Although they’re scared of heavies like me cuz their weapons aren’t much good.”

Herod was happy to receive orders because making decisions wasn’t her forte. She couldn’t even decide what she wanted to eat most of the time. But when it came to battle… she saw everything so clearly. “I’ll move in by myself and try to group them together,” she said. “While I have their attention, centurion, you should get as close you dare and wait for an opening. Colonel, can you stand by?”

“I’ll be watching,” Tamar said. Herod could hear her grinning from behind her helmet.

The commandos were positioned around the entrance, all in one another’s line of sight. There was no way for Herod to take them out one by one… better to bunch them together. One piece of rubble was tall and flat, forming a sheer wall. The right side was open, while the left was blocked by a pile of broken earth.

That’d work. Herod crept forward until she was near the rubble, then burst forward. She opened fire on the guards, who instantly dove for cover. They were expecting her.

Herod veered to the side, her feet skimming mere inches off the ground as she attacked the rightmost guard. He was ready, and thrust his organic spear at her neck- but she managed to duck.

Herod went to slash his belly open with her pneumatic blade, but the Romeo leaped back. Another one tried to line up a shot at her with its own spear. Herod sent it diving for cover with a burst of gunfire from her shoulder minigun.

This wasn’t good. She was going to get boxed in. Herod leaped in the air and rocketed towards a third Neighbor, planting her foot into its chest. The Neighbor fell backwards into one of its fellows, knocking its shot sideways.

They were too well-organized. There were no chances for her to take out one of them, not without the others interfering. Instead, Herod took to the air, zig-zagging as a bolt of plasma nearly melted her leg off. She hit the sheer wall hard, the shock of impact rattling her bones, then let gravity take her down behind a pile of rubble.

Hitting the ground hurt, especially her already-injured right arm. Herod gritted her teeth and propped herself up against the rubble. They were converging on her. They thought she was alone and cornered, so they could finish her off… and while the Neighbors were cold and ruthless combatants, they were known to forget their formations when victory was in sight.

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