Dusk is falling fast now; it's a good thing they didn't go any further out than they did. Already it's getting tricky to pick out details, and colors are starting to fade to the blue-gray of oncoming night. There's a quiet, high-pitched chirping whirr coming from all directions; it sounds almost mechanical, but Adrian thinks it's an insect noise. It doesn't do anything for his nerves, either way.
Maybe five minutes from the site and ten minutes from real dark, Simon snaps, "Cover!"
Adrian dives off the trail they've been clearing, rolling in the underbrush and dropping his heat knife so he can raise his rifle. An alien lands right in the middle of the space they've just vacated, solid limbs flexing to take the impact, tentacles whipping above its body. Adrian squeezes off a quick blast as he gets to his feet, and the alien makes a terrible howling noise. "How many?" Adrian calls.
"Three, at least!" Simon yells back. "Augh, you fuck!"
That sounds bad. The one Adrian shot isn't down yet, turning, grasping at him, and he shoots it again—a more solid hit this time, something that must hit vital spots. The thing stops in its tracks, shuddering and thrashing as its legs go out from under it.
Another one lands on his back and Adrian staggers. A tentacle wraps around his throat, squeezing hard, and he can hear the thing's harsh breathing over the roaring in his ears as he sees spots. He lets go of his gun and grabs the tentacle around his throat instead. He yanks it away from his throat, gets a more solid grip, and pulls, ducking his head so he can drag the thing over him and flip it. It tries to cling to him at first, but as the muscles in his shoulders come alive its grip falters, and then it's crashing to the forest floor in front of him. Tentacles thrash; behind him somewhere Simon's rifle barks.
Adrian takes one step closer and brings a boot heel down hard into the center of the thing's body. Something crunches and caves in, and all the flailing limbs lock up. Adrian takes the opportunity to sling his gun back around and pump a solid blast into the body.
-- from "Ground Mission" by Laylah Hunter