Lisa was alone with the captain.
"I take it you'll like me to edit out the obscenities as usual sir?"
The letter was more coherent than usual, so there wasn't anything funny to send to kalade. There were a few comments about her which she thought it was best to deal with now.
Lime was suiting up casually cursing the brown act which blocked the use of terminals on follower's space. Entering the armoury Lime inspected what was on offer. A rebound, not a bad suggestion, powerful shot gun which allows you to pull back the shells. Looks like it was the best choice.
Noticing the confused lallow trying to find a gun (probably just going by what looked pretty) lime figured it was best to offer help.
"Mam might I suggest a gorgon revolver? The bullets release a compound that expands rapidly in air. It was originally an anti norg tool but it will incapacitate most people, it's not fatal though."
Lime avoided adding that heandshe didn't trust her with a real weapon.
"Thanks, Lime was it? To be honest I'd probably have been lost without you." She let out a nervous laugh.
James was in the cockpit of the G-14, calibrating the laser cannons, when he heard Lisa's voice. "James, the captain has a message for you."
"OK. Bring it up on the display in front of me, please." Although that last word was unnecessary, politeness was second nature to James.
"Very well." Lisa said, even as the message appeared on a screen above the aircraft's steering controls.
He read through the message, nodded to himself, stood up as far as the dashboard would allow, and shouted out of the open canopy towards Corona 1. "Hey Rivers!" he said. "Make accommodations for one more on the drop ship!".
He heard a "Yes, sir." from the direction in which he had shouted, and turned his attention downwards towards a deck hand working with the laser cannons mounted on the front of the craft. "Are they good?" James said.
"Ya, they're good to go." He responded in a gruff voice.
Then this thing's ready to fly. James smiled to himself and hopped out of the cockpit.
He then walked over to Corona 1 where Rivers confirmed that it would be ready to fly in a moment. "Good." James mumbled to himself, and removed his communicator from his belt to call the bridge. "Captain," he said. "both ships are ready to go."
Finally the shuttle lands, it felt like an age. Sitting in there, lights barley on, and not allowed to make a noise, certainly not the best for blood pressure. It had taken maybe an hour and that was lowballing. As much as Lime would have liked to get down sooner to preserve the little remaining night they had it would have been wasted had anyone noticed them.
Stepping out onto the ground first was Kalade.
"So this is earth? I don't see what all the fuss is about really I mean it's hardly snowing at all really I can see pretty far and it's melting pretty quickly. Where is this settlement anyway as far as I can tell it's just open planes there's barley anything there."
She wandered around a little trying to see anything.
Lime wasn't amused and the translator calls as heandshe emerges from the ship.
"Get back here now! You could be on the edge."
A warm glow shot through Kalade, her tail instantly tensed up and she almost stumbled. She looked down.
"G-Guys, I found them." As quickly as she could she backed away.
Sure enough looking down over the ridge revealed the settlement, the black metallic skeleton that emerged from the buildings contrasted the bone white snow; the faint glow of light from last night's celebrations hangs dimly illuminating what the slowly rising sun couldn't see for the other side of the trench. The city was in two strips either side of a river an uncomfortable way down. You can just make out the other side of the trench it looks just as empty as the side they were on.
Lime was already in position scoping out the area.
"Ok by the looks of it the area is pretty inactive from the new-years celebrations, they don't seem to have any military instillations.
Oh well there's those."
Those in this case referred to the frost bite generators, Lime had been wondering where they gone and to be and honestly blamed Kalade, heandshe'd never expected that they'd be a centre point of the town. They probably didn't even know what the spires jutting out of the earth were.
Lime's suit was surprisingly comfortable, sure the visibility was like being stuffed down a pipe and it prevented the use of suckers but not freezing to death was always a good thing.
"Why what do we have here?"
Anyone recognise that voice?
It had come from behind and had a weird seductive drawl to it. Lime didn't notice obviously because of the bloody suit. But Kalade did and turning round...
"Well hello little lady? You mind telling me what the S.U happens to be doing somewhere they've no reason be? Don't worry I won't be shooting I've no reason to after all, we can strike a deal.
It's not often new tech shows up around here which I don't provide."
By this time the mystery man was joined by a fair few other guys, fairly well armed as well. One of them even had a Norg revolver (now where did he get that?).
"Well what do you have to say my alien friend?"
"Is.. is that an alien?" Was all Kalade could manage.
The alien neighed. "Course it is darling one of the last of its kind actually. Then again you can ask himandherandit about that later." Gesturing towards Lime. "Now maybe you should go get someone who's going to get things done."
Thor stepped into the snow. It crunched under his boots. Seemed people from the settlement were already praying on them like wolves to a carcass.
He kept his weapon strapped to his back and his pistol in hand. They were outnumbered and resistance was pretty futile, but in case he wanted something ready should this turn western on them. The stranger called for someone who could get things done. And it was only Lime, Kalade and himself outside the ship. "You can start talkin to me now. What do you want"?
"Ah good someone with authority. Basically I'd like some of your weapons. You see I'm in arms retail and having some S.U tech would be great for business. In return I'll get you what you need. These people trust me and I'm sure they'd rather have some high end weapons than whatever fell from your ship."
He has an ease about him almost completely masking the fact he's scared they might just call down an air strike.
"What do you say? I could be in and out much quicker than you and I'd less likely to start a fight."
Thor shifted one of his feet in the snow. "Sounds like a fair trade, we get what we want and you get what you want. But I've been around the block afew times to know not to trust anyone to deal fairly. Don't take it personally, but any trader worth his salt can respect my position". He didn't want to take his eyes off the arms dealer and his men, but where was one of the diplomates that came down. They should be here doing this not keeping cozy in the ship. "Alright, heres my counter proposal. I'll give you my rifle right now, you go down and show them it. Get our camera from them. When you bring it back I'll give you two more guns as trade for the camera. Reasonable isn't it"?
Thor activated his comm to talk with everyone in the landing ship. "Ayy why don't you all get your ass' out here I shouldn't be havin' to deal with this jerk".
That went way better than he'd expected. Last time he'd tried to make a deal with the S.U things went poorly very poorly.
"I could settle for that."
But Kalade had to open her trap.
"Wait are you seriously thinking about this? There are arms dealers? And they're selling to Followers."
"Do you have a better plan Kalade. It's three guns, and they've probably hundreds if not more. We avoid any bloodshed this way and our goals are accomplished". Thor was trying to be as non confrontational about it. He knew no alien had a shred of anything for the followers but hatred. "Compromise is better than tragedy".
"I'd pay attention girl he's right. Now hand it over and we can all be..."
The suit essentially ruled out most complex communication but curiosity and anger where evident, the raised shot-gun was just conformation.
Muokilaxes exited late, after resolving some details about the Brown Act prohibiting use of lethal force upon the followers. He still carried his laser pistol, but was now carrying a less lethal weapon, designed to wound or incapacitate, not kill outright. He saw the end of Thor's negotiations with the dealer, and then saw Lime make his move upon the arms dealers. He raised his own weapons, and upon seeing on of the dealers raising his own weapon show the man twice in the chest.
Tom remained on the bridge, monitoring the away team. In Thor's absence, Lisa was maintaining geosynchronous orbit over the target site. Tom had heard about the Freedom Isles. Back in the early 3000's, the Isles were known as the Lofoten Islands, off the coast of Euronda, then named Ancient Norway. Following humanity's exodus into space and subsequent return, Euronda was one of the first landing sites. The Lofoten Islands were renamed the Freedom Islands to celebrate the unity between the Crelm and Humans.
The Followers that had established themselves there had given the name an extra meaning. Freedom from aliens, freedom from unity, freedom from authority. They were xenophobic fanatics at best, and war criminals at worst. Tom was worried that the presence of Kalade and Muokilaxes might cause an incident. He opened a comm to James.
"James? Where is the Falcon 1? Have you got air cover over Corona 1? I have a feeling this might get ugly if we aren't careful.
"Oh, it already has." James said over the comm to Tom. He sat in the gunners seat of the Falcon, controlling the laser cannons and rockets. Rivers was actually piloting the craft. "One of ours just opened fire on a group of Followers, at least I think that's what they are. Anyway, we have a firefight on our hands down here. We're moving in to assist." He released his finger from the comm and spoke to the pilot. "Bring us closer and disable the cloak."
"Understood, sir." Rivers responded, and James heard a switch being flipped. Although he couldn't tell from within the cockpit, the G14 was now totally visible. Rivers flew the gunship around the attackers left flank, and James unleashed two blasts of energy from the cannons. Twin explosions of fire and steam blew several of the enemies away, fatally injured if not already dead. A few remained, but James didn't dare shot any closer to his comrades.
"We're trying to get a good reading, but there's a storm coming in off the sea. It's playing havoc with out sensors, and we can't get a good lock up here. You'll be flying blind. Anticipate potential resistance."
Tom rushed from the comm board over to Lisa's bridge terminal. "Lisa, is there any way we can get through the storm cover and get a more accurate map detail?
"One moment..... Yes Mr. Anderson, there is. By transmitting my signals through the away team's diagnostic gear, I can provide a direct uplink of the surrounding area, bypassing the storm front."
"Great," sighed Tom. "Then do it now!"
There was one left. Unfortunately for everyone it was the guy with the Norg revolver, the words hand cannon come to mind, barley held with both hands and it looks like it could break through the walls of fortress. The man barely notices anyone on the ground. What he does notice however is the ship hanging in the air. Raising the Norg revolver up with what you'd have to admit was pretty good aim for such a clunky weapon.
He pulls the trigger.
A lot happened fast. The recoil had torn the man's arm clean off and that was just for starters. For a split second he vibrated as the shock wave travelled through him. He rippled one final time before falling apart, needless to say there was a lot of blood but to be honest after that it was hardly the worst thing they could have seen.
Unfortunately it hits, the ship was barley flying after the blow but there was more to come, the ship begins to fall towards the settlement. That it lands on a roof in town without crashing through was a small blessing. It pretty torn up and the smoke is worrying.
On the ground an arms dealer seems to twitch a little. Lime held her down with a foot. She Looks up at himandher she's spread pretty thin across the ground which makes you wonder how the hell she'd still alive. Placing a tentacle either side of her head and neck Lime ends it.
Lime has already grabbed Muokilaxes holding him up slightly off the ground which can't be easy considering the weight.
The translator probably should have had a censor built in for future.
"What the fuck were you doing!? You could have got us killed, don't you ever fire before I order it again do you understand. There's a whole town of them down there, did you think the noise would go unnoticed? Are you really that much of an idiot? Now..."
"It's the pilot he's crashed in the town, he's probably hurt."
"Dam." Turning back to the dog in hisandher hands "You see what happens when you don't follow orders!
Anyway not listening to me got us into the mess so only listening to be is getting anyone out.
Kalade can you reach him by radio? Or perhaps you could send flyers, either way I want you back in the landing shuttle, if the foetal position is anything to go by you shouldn't be here."
Give them all a second to follow orders.
Dropping the ferax Lime walked to the edge, the tallest building wasn't more than a story or so down and the impact couldn't possibly be worse than an angry sledge hammer to the self.
Lime lands without any real problems. That the crashed ship's cloaking device was still operational probably would have been more impressive if they didn't need to find it, you'd think the smoke would stand out but this was a followers place.
Kalade was inside the landing pod. She'd found the radio.
"Hello." What was his name again. "Are you ok, do you read me?"
"Ya, I hear ya'" James said back into the comm. His neck hurt from the impact, but otherwise he was fine. "Hey, Rivers. You still in one piece?" he asked, but he heard no response. "Rivers!" he repeated a little louder. After a moment of silence he decided to unbuckle and investigate. He climbed up and back to the pilots seat, where he found Rivers unconscious, apparently having slammed his head against the canopy's window. He climbed back to his seat and keyed the comm. "Kalade, I need to speak to someone more qualified." He didn't want to hurt her feelings but the mission, and possibly Rivers' life, hung in the balance. "We've got one wounded here. Can you put Lime or Thor on?"
"Umm, ya." She said. "Hey guys, whats-his-face needs to talk to you!" Whats-his-face? Good God, the dumb bitch doesn't even know my name. he silently, but angrily, thought.
A Gent of Villainous Intent:
The Captain stood quietly behind where Tom sat, watching the unfolding scene below with increasing concern.
Maybe it was a bad idea to send Kalade down there...
"Beep!" His train of thought was interrupted by the ever-cheery Lisa "I have a important message for you Captain" she chirped. The Captain sat down at his chair, his eyes widening as he read the name of the sender. If it was possible, they widened even further as he read down the message.
"Shit!" He reached for the intercom without hesitation. "Any corps who aren't involved in the mission on Earth or the current medical work, come here right away! Also while I'm on here, if there's any more news from the infirmary then I'd really like it hear it now!"
Five minutes later, Til, Brian and Mae stood passively in front of the Captain.
"Thank you for coming so quickly," he said "We have an urgent situation. I've just received a message from Commander Cerise, informing me heandshe is making a surprise visit and requesting docking permission. As we speak heandshe will be entering our secure entrance lobby. Corps, the last thing we need is himandher to find out about this whole intrusion affair, at-least not yet. Heandshe is very big on 'procedure' and might even try to delay our mission. We can send them the full story once we've set off and it's too late to stop us. You three's task is to meet himandher and then show them around and make sure they don't find out anything, except that we had a damaging air-leak which we're still investigating. Nothing about the saboteur, nothing about the mission on Earth. Mae and Til, being a diplomat and a counsellor respectively you should have no problem pulling this off. Brian, I know this kind-of-thing isn't your speciality but try to play the loyal soldier, and if heandshe asks anything awkward, keep your mouth shut."
The Captain paused for breath, speaking for this long without a break wasn't easy, especially when he had to make sure none of his New Terran slang slipped out.
"Any questions corps?"
Lisa's link through the away team's sensors had given Tom a ground view of the incident. The Falcon 1 was rocked by the impact of the revolver shot. The Norg weapon was more akin to a mass accelerator cannon than a small arm weapon. The gunship groaned, and lurched forward from the hit, speeding off on a collision course to the Followers' settlement.
"James, report! The storm front is keeping communication low, but I still have visuals from the ground. Can you get through to Corona 1?"
He switched links. "Lime, keep Kalade safe. The storm is moving in fast, so you need to move the team into the Trenches quick! Thor, you and Muokilaxes are on point. Get out of the weather, and keep moving inwards. Don't fire unless fired upon. The captain has a meeting, and an incident isn't going to look good on the reports."
"Lime's not here heandshe's encroaching on your position as we speak, I'm not quite sure who's going with him and who isn't. As soon as someone more qualified becomes available I'll patch them through I promise but for now I'm going to do my best .Anyway what can you see? What's at your position are you trapped or can you leave the ship?
Also your cloaking device is apparently active, if no one had noticed the crash the turning it off would make you easier to find and shutting off the power should help prevent explosions. The goes for all your systems if it isn't vital turn it off.
Again just tell me everything you can, don't worry it will be fine. "
"Ahhh" Someone had made it onto the roof Lime was on. Hopefully they were just stunned the snow was fairly soft and the fall was hardly anything. Anyway Lime could have done much worse.
Lime had been plotting a course mentally to the ship (or at least as where heandshe guessed it would be) unfortunately that was probably the big ominous looking building, it was tall than the rest and on the other side of the gorge, it would probably be easier to just use to bridge but that was at ground level and from experience that wouldn't be easy. So it was that or the much more dangerous but most probably unnoticed passage, it wouldn involve a serious climb and the odd jump but it looked possible, that would get them right onto the roof of the main building.
Why they had to kill the only person who was sure of the camera's location was anyone's guess.
The new orders from Tom, the band of light was hard to ignore. Lime probably should have been more concerned that protecting Kalade hadn't been hisandher first consideration.
"New orders your to join us Lizzard. I'll try and help you down from the edge. You'll need to keep to keep the radio link I think the unit in there should be detachable."
Soon Kalade stood on the edge.
"Now you just need to jump down into my tentacles, I've more than enough strength for you."
"It's fine, now get down we don't have time for you childishness."
"Promise you'll catch me."
"Jump now or I won't!"
She jumps and just as promised is lifted down to safety. There was more whining that Lime considered necessary but at least she was down here.
"Any news from the coms?"
"Just put me on."
Flipping the switch from sound to light she hands the com over.
"Lime speaking. I hope Kalade hasn't been too annoying."
"Good." James was glad he was finally taking to someone competent. "Rivers is unconscious, and needless to say this thing is grounded. I'm powering down all unnecessary systems but I'm leaving the cloak on. According to the map we're on top of a tall building just east of the river." While he was talking he had also had the channel open to Anderson, though James was unsure weather or not he would hear it at all judging from the level of static that had been in his last message.
Thor stopped in front of the ridge line. Flipping over to infrared he could see where the ship had crashed and afew people moving. 'Muffins, lets just hope their curious and not mad'. The ship had crashed a ways down to the left of them in the trench. Thor sat down to narrow the gap, slipping off he fell the one story drop to the building Lime landed on. The landing wasn't soft but everything remained intact. The entire mission had gone from bad to worse to hellish. With the storm blowing in they could be trapped here for days if it was a bad one, complicated with wounded and very unfriendly inhabitants.
Don't worry, I've got your position, and I can hear you. Okay, you want the bad news first, or the really bad news?"
"The bad news, I guess." Something was telling James that things where a lot worse then they seemed.
"The bad news, I guess." Something was telling James that things where a lot worse then they seemed.
"Alrighty, the bad news is: Captain Vance has just received word that Commander Cerise intends to do an inspection of the Star Brigade. We were supposed to have left the System by now, so s/he's adamant about checking in on the ship to see what's wrong. That means, we can't send down the other G-14 for Fire Support."
"The other bad news is that the storm front moving in off of the sea means we couldn't put a gunship through if we tried. You're gonna be stuck down there for a while unless I can think of something."
The Crelm could have been happier.
"That confirms my suspicions at least, we're on the other side of the ravine. We'll be at you shortly. As you're up there you mind checking for any potential places where the camera fell? If you're armed some covering fire, and even if you aren't we'll need someone to help plan our roots.
If you can see the landing pod we're directly below it at the moment.
Seeing thor approach Lime turned.
"I take it you're ready and able? We'll need to move quickly and stay spread out so we don't cause too much noise.
Now any more distractions and we could be to late."
Lime began to get moving unfortunately heandshe hadn't really got any understanding of sound so they'd just have to try to not move too fast, or hard, which ever it was that made the noise.
"Alright, I'll leave Rivers here and scout outside." James placed his face mask and goggles over his face, grabbed a radio and, making sure to leave the heat on, opened the canopies hatch and stepped outside, readying his pistol as he did so.
The heavy snow fall made it impossible to see more than a few feet, and James didn't see anyone, so he moved to the edge of the building to get a better idea of his location. Unfortunately, the snow there was equally as thick, but James thought he could make out the location of Corona 1. "I think I see your location. It looks like you'll be able to get here mostly through back streets and alleyways."
"Ok good, I don't fancy our chances against this town at all, they have numbers and position."
The root proved fairly simple, a few people had to be dealt with but gravity poisoning dealt with most of them. Lime enjoyed the trek, there was a feeling of motion about it of progress.
Then they got to the ravine.
As promised it was deep and ominous, far too deep enough that falling into the water would kill you even without hypothermia.
"So two bridges one looks older than most of this city and barely stable, but it's pretty covered probably not even guarded. The other looks much safer but no way can we make our way over it unnoticed."
They had entered the shadow of the main tower; it was pretty much most of the skyline. There's probably a way to sneak in building integrity clearly wasn't a priority around here.
Mae showed his teeth in frustration, thankfully something his helmet concealed. The Crelm were always difficult for Mae to trust and talk to, being that they were a species of hermaphroditic killer jellyfish. Yet this was his job, and if meant talking to Slimes then he would have to deal with it.
"I will do as you command Captain. If the commander asks I will say I heard it was a stray satellite, but then again, I am only a diplomat, and know very little in the ways of engineering. You have my word as a Mezian that the Commander shall hear nothing of the Saboteur, and even less about the mission." He nodded his head as a sign of assurance, but underneath his helmet he grimaced as only a Mezian could.
Muokilaxes followed the others down toward Lime thought the ship had crashed. He was cold and irritated, after all what was he supposed to do, wait while others aimed weapons at the crew, the crew he was supposed to protect? But it was Lime's mission, so he kept his mouth shut. and followed the others. Seeing the bridge that was proposed the crossed he broke his silence. "Sirandmam, that bridge looks like it's on the verge of collapse. I'm not sure if it can support my weight." he paused for as second, then added "Sirandmam" trying not to antagonize the crem any more than he already had.
"It quite does a bit. Good thing I'm here to figure things out. Perhaps if we sent the lightest across first..." No that might limit damage to the bridge for the lightest, sending the heaviest could leave the bridge even less safe.
Kalade the radio now."
She hand it to lime.
"We're directly below you now. At the base of the tower to the west. Is there anything up there you could send down to help us across? We've come into some weight problems."
There's a gun shot, a burst of fire from the above and towards the more developed part of the city. The guard was holding a large sniper like rifle and had it trained on them, it looked like a nova designed to fire an accurate beam of fire similar to a long range blow torch.
The first shot had hit the ground near Kalade, she screamed and ran across, her tail and horns were more than enough to keep her balanced but the bridge look even less trustworthy. The other side of the gorge is covered from the sniper so Kalade is at least safe.
The red dot dances across them the sniper doesn't look likely to miss again. Wonder why he's not called for back-up yet?
Muokilaxes turned and saw the sniper, and half raised his own rifle. seeing no way to quietly take out the sniper, he began edgeing his hand towards the smoke grenade, looking towards Lime to see if the signal to engage the sniper was forthcoming.
The red dot had already found the smoke grenade.
"You wouldn't have time; look at him he's experienced. A rifle like that couldn't be anything but cumbersome but he's holding it like it's weightless. Plus he's got the advantage of land and possibly even numbers. Then again I have a feeling someone's up there's watching out for us."
Brian seemed mostly indifferent (On the inside anyway...) about the Captains' request. Though if he absolutely had to put up with a snooping Commander then there was only one thing he wanted to know.
'Any idea how long the Commander intends to stay with us, Captain?' He asked with perhaps a bit too much curiosity.
Thor wasn't gona wait around to get a laser through his heart. He was already making his way across the bridge. Albeit not like Kalade did. It seemed to hold up against his 230 pound frame, but it was dodgy. The sniper fire didn't help his progress either. It creaked and moaned at the slightest movement. But he made it over alive. Thor buzzed over to the radio Lime had. "I think you should find cover, that bridge barely held me. I'll take Kalade and rendezvous with James and get Rivers".
Just as Thor was off the bridge collapsed, it was falling for a good few seconds before splashing far below.
"Few that was close." Kalade sighed happy someone else had made it across. "You think they'll be ok? He looked pretty well armed."
The radio responded.
"We should be ok. You drew his fire pretty well actually. Let's just say he won't be a problem." In the back ground there was heavily accented swearing before the communication was cut off.
"Not the most talkative is heandshe. So we're to go up. Well there's a sort of entrance thing here, all we need to figure out if how to get the door open."
The door opened.
"Oh lucky us."
From the darkness a hand reaches out and grabs Kalade pulling her in. She swings her tail and there's a decisive squelching sound and muffled swearing. The lights finally come one but there's no sign of Kalade, what there is a man clutching his leg which now has a pretty gaping hole in it.
Then a flyer emerges it flies around thor trying to get his attention.
Think think think, worried Tom. With Commander Cerise coming to the Star Brigade, it would be impossible for any ships to leave the hangar for a rescue operation. He had to find something on the ground that would help the team survive. Through the Bridge's view ports, Tom could see the massive Anvil Class Battleship, the Alsvior the head of the Diplomatic Corps small fleet. Compared to the smaller courier vessels that the Star Brigade was more akin to, the Anvil Class were warships, used for "aggressive" diplomacy. That usually involved situations that could only be solved by the threat of force.
The Alsvior was 1200 meters long, twelve times the length of the Star Brigade. It could outgun, outmaneuver, and outrun almost any other ship in the Solanic Union. The vessel came into view perpendicular to the Star Brigade, blotting the Moon's shine.
"Crap. Lisa, inform the Captain that Commander Cerise's ship has arrived." said Tom.
"Of course, Mr. Anderson. Shall I convene my primary consciousness to the meeting room, or shall I remain on the bridge?"
Tom wiped away the sweat that had gathered on his brow. "Put your primary functions towards aiding the Captain during the inspection. Just leave your minor functions with this terminal. I've got to think of something."