Flashes appeared on the ground far below. They had been picked up by the enemy radar, and now they had opened fire. Their helmet computers projected the route of the incoming projectiles, and the first, widely spread waves of fire were easily avoided, with no casualties in their group.
They went lower, passing through layer after layer of air and clouds, water particles hitting their helmets, before quickly dispersing again. The fire became more intense, more and more troopers started to take hits, but the losses were perfectly acceptable.
They were halfway as another series of batteries suddenly came online, and the intensity of the attacks doubled. Drones and other mechanisms were launched in order to confuse the targeting computers, and they reduced the amounts of losses, but as they went, more and more troopers were blasted apart by shells regardless.
Only a thousand meters to go, then they'd hit the ground. Only a couple of seconds more. Garell used his thrusters, dashing sideways, leaving an explosion behind him as he narrowly slid past them. They were the elite. They would make it. Diving through the intense fire, the squadrons rapidly approached the ground. One of the 55 died in the last two hundred meters as an explosion damaged one of his thrusters, immobilizing him, and before anyone could help him, the next shell had already hit him, blasting him apart.
The last dozens meters were upon them, only a second. They pulled their legs to their chest and reversed their jet packs, firing them up, slowing down their descend with a g-force that would kill an untrained man. They turned around in the last few meters, stopping their descend, and landed with a hard blow on their feet. They immediately started running.
Bullets flew around them, the first resistance. The first contact.
Garell didn't show mercy, as usual, a trait shared by every veteran. His rifle held firm in his hand, he raised it and pulled the trigger, without having to consciously aim. After tens of thousands of shot, it became a reflex. Three series of bullets left his barrel. Three Scrals died.
He and a few others jumped up, propelling themselves over a group of rapidly regrouping Scrals. As they flew over their heads, a well thrown grenade ended their surprised chattering. Leaving the humanoid, scaly, remnants behind, they moved on. The enemy was in all around them. Victory was the only way out.