Sergeant Yang was close to panic, and only the presence of his superior kept him from betraying emotion. Their fire had been ineffectual. The alien creatures had weathered the hail of lead and joined up with each other, stepping out of the shadows. Now they advanced, unhurriedly, with a terrible calm, towards his shaking line. Again the Shoguns chattered, and the things took a second stream of fire from their right, where Lieutenant Rao organised the defense. The Templars walked through the fire completely unperturbed. Then they levelled their black guns and opened fire at point-blank range. Bullets scythed through Yang´s squad. Three men fell jerking. The sergeant dropped to the ground and rolled to avoid the raking fire.
Inside the entrance, the Capitolians cheered as their combined fire downed another of the creatures. Its armour was cracked open like an egg, revealing an empty hollow cavity where the suit´s inhabitant should have been. Animated by its own emptiness, the remaining Templar glided towards Kaminski and impaled the corporal on its blade.
In the garden, the Beast of Ilian advanced towards the temple entrance. The two remaining men of Roseboom´s squad hastily unslung their anti-vehicle rockets. It seemed to sense the danger, scuttling sideways and gathering its legs under itself, making ready to leap at the soldiers.
Still hurting all over from the shotgun blast, Sergeant Cooper threw himself between the Beast and the soldiers. His M50 kicked out bullets that ricocheted futilely off its armour. It checked, still crouching, and the beautiful head turned towards the sergeant. A stream of void fire washed over him, melting the flesh from his bones, tearing his soul to shreds. Sergeant Cooper ceased to exist.
But his sacrifice had not been in vain. His comrades might have been stunned by the brutality of the act, but they were trained soldiers of the Special Forces, and their bodies followed the drill even as their minds recoiled in horror. Sights up, safety off, tube to the shoulder, „Firing the IAVR!“, a deep breath, and the pull of the trigger. Two trails of fire streaked towards the beast, striking it in the body and the long, sinuous neck. The explosion blew the neck clean off. The beautiful head rolled on the ground, trailing appendages and severed tubes. The legs jerked and contracted.
As the soldiers gingerly advanced on the wrecked beast with their swords drawn, a thin, icy mist rose from the ruptured body, coalescing into a gibbering mass that rushed at them.