Franklin was bone white and wheezing like a half-drowned man even before he struggled up the knotted rope to the third floor hideout. Ben had to pull him through the widow and prop him on the couch across from it.
"A whole army of them" Franklin croaked between gasps "Had to sprint six blocks to avoid being seen."
"Any follow you here?"
Frank shook his head.
"Good, you rest now - when the others get back, we'll make evacuation plans."
"Like hell we will!" It was Marci - a full five and a half feet (5' 3" without combat boots) of crew-cut, spit-shine, and gung-ho marine. "We are this close to getting them! I confirmed it, the vehicles are still there and the hatches dogged - now is the time"
"Didn't you just hear Frank - we've been here too long - the things are waking up and swarming."
Ben sized up the opponent. On one hand, the police forensics man was a good four inches taller, and twenty pounds heavier. On the other - most of that was just pure fat, and it was desk job versus active marine. A long moment of silence passed, but then it seemed words become adequate again.
"Is it really such a sure thing boot-champ? If it really worth it - wouldn't the national guard ahve taken the APCs with them when they retreated." Ben began again
The marine shook his head. "First of all, its pronounced "Boo-show"
"Does that matter?"
"If I am the one who has the knowledge, it behooves me to be the most correct. As it works out, the vehicles are probably a write off - out of fuel, break down, or fried by alien rad cannons. Besides, high maintenance vehicles aren't worth much, we're here for the EM-Rats."
"And those are worth our lives?"
"Of course. Just because you never saw them in action" The marine chuckled - "Oh, back in Argentina, it was a be-you-tee-ful thing."
"Are they the reason you're the only person I've met that doesn't find the whole Southern Drone war one big cluster F--" Frank interjected.
"It all depended on where you deployed. They were really selective about which areas to make a stand..."
Another person entered the room, a medium height brunette paramedic named Alice, de facto leader of the group. "If you're sharing war stories can I join in?"
"Right now" Ben began "is talk some sense into this guy. "Frank spotted a whole bunch a reanimates and yet, he still wants to go for the booty."
"I ain't denying there is a risk when dealing with a butt-ton of reanimates, but we're looking at em-rats here."
"Which is?" Alice asked.
"Multiple Role Aircraft and Tank - combined shaped charge and expanding rod warhead. Select a mode, and it can slag a tank twelve miles away, or a fighter five miles high."
"How big are they?"
"Say, 140, 160 pounds, ten inches around, bit over six feet long - not including the launchers."
"Sorry Mr. Beauxcamp, but it doesn't sound like we can move many of these things any reasonable distance. I'm going to have to call this one over - pack it in."
"Don't do this!" the marine shouted, then paused. "Sorry, didn't mean to raise my voice to a lady. But all due respect ma'am, at least wait until the other two get back. These things will give us a week at any good town - maybe more. You're looking at either an eighty foot fragmentation radius, wipe out a heck of a lot of Rovers,, or enough directed power to slag a tank. It will outright vaporize anything the aliens have."
"Ok, you've got my interest again. Week per missile, or the lot of them?"
"You know how prices shoot up for groups. More of us, less the town likes... six of us - umm"
"Day, day and a half per missile, a bit more with the single launchers, for the whole group. Not including anything else in the vehicles equipment locker - gauss guns, a payload rifle probably, tools -"
"Any twenty seven millimeter shells are mine, but the rest sounds like profit.But we'll need to be quick. Ones might wake up first, but the others can't be far behind."