Monday, April 6, 2009

A Few Ugly Days (Prologue pts 1 & 2)

Note: both reposted from Jspace but this time in one piece

Prologue pt 1

The missile was a long way from home, according to it’s records it was currently sitting in an munitions store in the Hellenic military base of Eleusina about 20km’s NW of Athens. This however had little bearing on its ability to cross the distance between the small freighter and HMAS Bathurst in less than a second.

The bridge windows were constructed from armoured glass, however they had little resistance against the mass of the missile travelling at over 400m/sec. Within a microsecond of it entering the bridge the bursting charge expelled the reactive gas mixture into the bridge area, before the detonator charge ignited the fuel/air gas mixture.

All the bridge crew had been stunned by the concussive force of the missile blasting through the bridge window and the fuselage of the missile had almost reached the rear of the bridge before the F/A mixture exploded. The results were catastrophic.

The ignition by the detonator charge turned the cloud of explosives into a superheated pressure wave that burned through the ship at high speed. It blew out every window and porthole plus any hatches. The pressure wave also distorted the keel and superstructure causing numerous splits in the aluminium sheeting of the exterior of the ship. The blast wave also damaged the fire suppressant system and so when the fires started and the aluminium started to burn it was less than useless. The roof of the bridge whilst not blown off completely, peeled back raggedly like the lid of a tin of beans

Fortunately for most of the crew the pressure wave killed or incapacitated them before the fires started. It was only the two engineers in the engine room who were unlucky enough to survive the pressure wave the only thing that saved them from dying painfully in the metal fires was the poisonous fumes that permeated the lowers spaces in short order.

In less than a minute after the missile struck the Bathurst was listed badly and fires were raging throughout causing the ammo stores for the typhoon 25mm cannon and the small arms stored onboard to cook off causing even more damage. The fuel lines were also ruptured by this time which contributed to a build up of fumes which exploded just over 4 minutes later breaking the back of the Bathurst.
As soon as the ammo started to cook off the freighter moved away and the captain had men checking the airspace to make hopefully spot any airborne surveillance. HMAS Bathurst sank just less than half and hour after the unprovoked attack. Except for the security team held on the freighter there were no survivors.

In the next few days the body count would rise tremendously.

Prologue pt 2: Meeting

The General’s limousine bounced softly down the lightly rutted track that had ran off from the edge of Cadasari village. The track led to a small plantation that obviously dated back to colonial times, although with the plantation house’s bright whitewashed walls, it was clear that the owners took pride in their home.

It was the clearly armed guards at the compounds gate with green inscribed headbands, that reminded the General that he was a stranger here. He was also only a go between, a facilitator because of his links with the man he had come to meet. No longer holding an active role in the Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia (or ABRI) the General still had his fingers in many places hence his visit today.

His driver a veteran of Kopassus’ SAT-81 Gultor anti-terrorist unit broke from his usual silence
“Looks like the Madhi like to be protected by Arabs rather than us poor locals, Boss”
The General just shook his head and smiled
“Don’t let them hear you call him the Mahdi Try, these people don’t have a sense of humour”
Try just smirked
“Better to put your faith in a MP5 than a green headband boss”
The General laughed, for the first time in days
“I know, I know but let’s be careful here, yes?”
‘Yes Boss’ came Try’s response

As the limo reached the gates four guards stood in front of the open gateway. Three of the four clearly form the middle east wearing bushy beards, the fourth a local man who was desperately trying to be as righteous as his fellow guards but only managing a straggly piece of face fungus. All of the guards were armed, two with AKMS’s (both with the stocks extended as they both had a 75 rnd drum mag inserted), the local had a battered Uzi and the tallest of the four had a grenade launcher which Try recognized as a South African Milkor MGL.

The limo stopped and the Uzi totting guard moved over to the drivers door whilst one of the Kalashnikov wielders moved to the passenger side of thee limo and the other went to the rear. The grenade totting guard remained in place like some Classical stone guardian his eyes scanning the tree line at the edge of the plantation estate.
The Indonesian guard knocked timidly on the driver’s
“Please could you identify yourselves and open the trunk?”
Try bristled at this “WE don..”
His outburst was stalled by the General’s hand on his shoulder.
“I am General Feisal Sudirman, I’m here to meet the Emir? Try open the trunk for the gentlemen”
‘Yes boss” grumbled his driver, and the trunk popped up, all the men could hear the man at the back rummaging through the trunk’s contents. There was a brief pause and then the sound of smashing glass as the bottle of the General’s favorite tipple Johnny Walker blue label was destroyed in a fit of religious pique. Then the trunk lid was slammed down shut.

The Indonesian guard smiled nervously
‘My apologies General the Emir allows no alcohol on the grounds, you may proceed through. I’m sorry but your driver must remain in the car during your meeting.”

So saying the guards moved away from the limo and Try let off the break and drove to the front of the house before pulling up facing the gates. He then got out of the car and opened the Generals for him.
‘Thank you Try. Stay calm be prepared, yes?”
‘Yes boss’.

The General straightened his back and walked up the steps and into the shade of the veranda.

The front of the house was framed by a veranda and all four windows had heavy metal shutters (which were closed) and a heavy teak double door. A small brass bell hung to the right of the doorway. The first thing the General noticed was that there seemed to be no sound of nature no insects humming no birds singing it was as if nature was hushed and wished not to be noticed. He shivered and hoped it was not a premonition.

Striding to the doors he rang the bell. After about half a minute the doors opened and a tall heavy built man stepped out. He was dressed simply in white but carried a MP5K on a shoulder harness. To the General he looked European but the mans tan was so deep it was hard to say.
“You are the General?”
Gen Sudirman nodded
“Follow me” said the guard and turned on his heel and moved back into the house.
Given no choice the General entered the house. Like the outside the interior was spotless although sparse red tiles on the floor and whitewashed walls and ceilings with only the odd rug or piece of furniture gave the house an echoic feeling. The only items on the walls were some beautifully rendered pieces of calligraphy representing parts of the Koran.

It took only a few moments for the General and his guide to reach the central courtyard. This again was spare with the garden beds empty but covered by small pebbles. The fountain in the centre though was working and the sound of the water falling was a counterpoint to the seeming unending silence of the house and it’s surroundings. The veranda surrounding the courtyard was also sparse with only a couple of worn wooden benches offering some form of relief for the eye. Next to the fountain was a simple round metal table and two chairs both metal. The scars on their painted metal surfaces hinted that they may have been owned by the Dutch colonials, who had originally owned this plantation.

At the table sat the current owner of the property. He also was dressed in plain white clothes and as the General approached, the military veteran could not help but be amazed at a man who had been imprisoned & tortured could still look twenty years younger than his actual 62 years.

The emir looked up as the two men drew closer.
“Ah, Feisal you are early I think? But no matter, please take a seat”
This the General did with few qualms.
“Please excuse my guards, they are overly cautious and protective of me, especially with our upcoming project. Everything is going according to plan I hope?”
The General clear his throat.
‘Err.. yes, all assets are in place and the initial forces will initiate action in tonight at about 20:00hrs local. The airport and harbour incursions should occur within 15 minutes of each other hopefully, given current conditions.’
“God willing” added the Emir
“Er.. yes God willing” replied the General.
“And the president still approves of this?”
“the presidents position is difficult as the recent food and fuel riots have made the political scene uncertain”
A brief smile flashed across the Emirs unlined face
“Yes the recent riots it is most fortunate that Allah has allowed the people to rise up against the injustices put upon them by the infidels and their allies in it not?” the Emirs will shone out from his eyes as he said this, making the General wonder how spontaneous the riots had actually been.

Suddenly the Emir stood up.
“You may return now, my friend as I’m sure that you are needed at the operations post”
Surprised at this dismissal, the General stayed seated
“I was wondering if I might see my son? To see how he is getting on”
“You should be very proud of him he has decided to join the fedayheen on the main ship, so you will be able to see him when the beachhead is secure.”
The General was taken aback
“Oh I see”
The emir grinned widely
“Do not take me for a fool Feisal, his presence in the front wave should ensure that you will pursue this to the very end, I will see you tomorrow.”

The General left the building deep in thought, the main image in his mind during the drive back to the operations centre was that of his son. Try ever the good man that he was, respected his boss’ silence and made the journey in good time. Elsewhere the pawns moved into play.

Hunter and Hunted

Note: another repost

The Hunter had stalked his Prey down Bermondsey’s dark and wet, winding streets from Jamaica Road to this small alley way behind Southwark markets. The hunt had taken nearly two hours with the Prey using every trick at it’s disposal to get away.

The Hunter knew that his Prey would beg and plead and try to make a deal but he knew he was right as a normal person would have gone straight to the police, or even called out for help. The streets still having city workers wandering around on their way home form the pub or maybe even work.

As his Prey slid into the mouth of the alleyway he saw her slip, so the Hunter was not surprised to find her sprawled, legs akimbo, half dazed against a fire door. There was only one light in the alley and it’s pale dim light almost seemed to turn the scene into monochrome.

Entering the alley the Hunter drew his OTs-38 revolver and held it by his side almost out of sight. This was the first time he’d been less than twenty or so meters from his Prey and so as he carefully stepped closer he took in details.

Superficially the Prey looked like a teenage girl with dirty blonde hair cut in a semi- bob with a couple of metallic pink streaks in it. He face was angular and thin with minimal makeup except for heavily kohled eyes and a metallic green lip gloss. Her body was slim again in keeping with how old she looked but her legs held more strength than they looked considering the chase she had led him.

He clothes were a mismatch of old and new. Old style black pumps with a bright ankle chain. Denim miniskirt with footless black stockings, a clearly visible wonder bra under a carefully ripped “the beat” t-shirt. Covering that, a brand new cropped hoodie.

Seeing him look her up and down the Prey smiled and the girls face suddenly looked much older and sexual.
“look I don’t have much gear” she said in a shaky voice ‘if that’s what you’re after. I sold most of it already, kno’ what I mean?”
The Prey looked the Hunter in the eyes trying to gauge his reaction.
“But if you want more well I sure we can work it out” again the voice spoke with more sexuality, dripped with it in fact and she moved her legs to amplify her meaning. This stopped the Hunter in his tracks and he could feel her words moving like worms in his mind.

His left hand came out of his coat pocket clenched tightly and with a quick flick of his wrist he sent a shower of metal particles arching towards his Prey, as they landed he heard his Prey whimper.
“No, please, they burn, they burn” her voice had changed again this time thinner, less human? The Hunter could make out small red patinae on the girls skin where the powered iron had landed.

The Prey looked at him again, holding out her slim pale (and now) marked arms. ‘Please make it stop, I’ll do anything, anything ..I just want to go home”
As is often the way it then chose to start raining, quickly turning into a downpour and the powdered iron was washed away in seconds.

The Preys eyes lit up and were a deep emerald green and she found more strength from somewhere and stood up.
“Yes lets go home and we can heal each other” her voice and eyes were almost too much for the Hunter. They both carried a coercive power that hammered away at his self control and he could visualise how pleasurable it would be with her.

The Prey’s lips curled into a houris smile as she could see the conflicting emotions pass across the Hunters face.
“yes come to me” she said holding out her arms her voice dropping into a husky tone.
The Prey so confident that she was now the Hunter missed the small red dot that had appeared on her left shoulder. The driving rain crashing as it did onto the alleys floor hid the revolvers report almost completely.

The impact of the bullet was a shock to the Prey and she staggered back a couple of paces her right hand instinctively going to her wounded shoulder. A look of amazement flitted across her face as she collapsed to the puddled pavement.

Whilst his victim collapsed, the Hunter recovered his composure and replaced the silenced revolver in it’s pocket holster. Straightening his back and shaking his head he pulled a tanto like knife from it’s scabbard on the inside of his right arm. A bright red sliver of a gem imbedded in it’s crosspiece glowed in the dull lamplight almost as is it was lit with an inner fire.

The Hunter knelt on one knee beside his Prey and stroked the girls hair with his gloved hand.
‘You’ll be truly home soon” he promised and his left hand guided the knife deep into her heart. The Prey’s body jerked briefly but no sound issued forth from her lips (which now looks dull and ashen). The gem seemed to glow brighter for a moment, and when the knife was withdrawn little blood exited form the deep wound. The street light finally gave up the ghost and plunged the alleyway finally into complete darkness.

Standing again the Hunter looked briefly around before walking back into the wet night. Avoiding the gaze of security camera’s that littered the area the Hunter moved back towards London Bridge Station. Feeling the need for human company he caught a train to Charing Cross and wander up Charing Cross Road towards Leicester Square finally stopping at the Brewmaster pub.

The pub was busy as usual on a Thursday night but the Hunter revelled in the mass of humanity and drank his over priced beer relaxing for a moment. Finishing the pint, he left and moved towards Covent Garden, the rain easing off as he went. Before reaching the Piazza his phone rang.

“It’s Marcus” said his caller “how was the meeting?”
“Changeable” replied the Hunter “The girl was away with the fairies, but I got what we wanted”
“Good, I’ll see you in the office tomorrow”
‘Yes” said the Hunter and hung up.

High above a thin crescent moon broke through the clouds as the Hunter returned to his lair.

Secret Treaties pt 1

Note: reposted from Jspace

The sunlight streaming through the leaves made a dappled effect on Johns face as he lay face up listening to the wood and it’s sounds. With his eyes closed he felt that he could almost feel the heartbeat of the wood and its inhabitants.

This close to Central he felt safe enough to rest for a while before heading back behind the city’s imposing walls and gates. He was still 5 klicks away from the Cordon but with spring in the air he was confident of making back well before the gates closed an hour before evening started. Any connection with the sylvan surroundings was ruined as a trio of fat bellied choppers thundered overhead, only a few meters above the treetops, one trailing oily black smoke from one of its engine pods.

“Shit!” he exclaimed and climbed slowly to his feet, absently brushing off any grass, leaves or twigs that had attached themselves during his respite. The passing of the troop transporters would have been sure to stir up some trouble even here which was a regularly patrolled area. He next reached for his combat helmet with its multi sensor array and finally his rifle.

As soon as his hand grasped the pistol grip, the weapon recognised its official user and merged with his SENET adding its own information to the display playing before his eyes on the inside face of his helmets visor. Although the wood had seemed to settle once more into a last afternoon doze, John tapped a brief command into his wristcomp and opened his suits SENET to the local BATSNET. The local Battle Sphere Network was constantly changing, by turns evolving and degrading depending on the actions of either his compatriots or the OPFOR. However as he was well within the 10km radius of the main transmitters in Central information poured in, all that he was really interested in though was if anyone was around.

Sure enough IFF signals started to pop up on his HUD a group of friendlies about half a klick away and a trio of yellow ‘unknowns’ closer in but away from his proposed line of march. Company was the last thing he wanted but needs must. He pushed an info note into the BATSNET to warn the patrol that he was approaching them and then as quietly as possible started to make his through the wood.

John reached the patrol just on the edge of the wood and noted that Clay was the patrol leader and sighed to himself. John gave the unofficial pass code, three waves of his rifle before moving closer. The patrol was taking an easy route back but even so Clay had a point out a good 30 meters in front and a tail end Charlie, 10 meters behind.

“Afternoon partna” said Clay in greeting, as always exaggerating his very mild Texan accent, raising up his visor and swing john an easy salute.
“Clay” replied John nodding his head
“Me and the boys were hopin’ for a little fun, so it’s lucky you let us know in advance that you were joining our little promenade..wouldn’t have wanted any accidents!”
“I’m glad I saved you from having any accidents” replied John dryly.
“Don’t’ get so stuck up John, I know you’re a dab hand with that there over and under, these boys are still getting used to their triple barrel ‘storms, but they’re learning good and Lucas at the back likes his flechette minigun” Clay spat a piece of his chewing tobacco on the ground one of the many reasons that John stayed away from the former Texan.

“But lets introduce you to ma boys” Clay wandered over to the next trooper who was a skinny African boy who barely looked 18
‘This here’s Kobi and he’s been with me long boy?”
“Two weeks Senior Sargent”
‘Tell the LT here what we’ve given you to play with”
The young boys eyes almost filled up in tears and he shook a bit
‘Err… a three barrelled, 5mm smart rifle using a metal storm stacking system, Senior Sergeant”
‘Kobi you are a pleasure to work with, now here are my pride and joy, Maria and Jose now they ‘abla a little Ingles, say hola to the LT children!”
Both Maria and Jose looked in their mid twenties and John could see a flash of anger in the woman’s eyes. Both were well tanned and john would guess they were from Spain
“Good Afternoon lieutenant” they said in unison in quite clear English. John reassessed and guessed they were from Argentina or Chile.
“Ain’t they something?” said Clay “Both were studying their Doctorates back in the world, now tell the nice officer what we’re teaching you to use”
‘Two barrel, 7mm battle rifle with smart suite and metal storm ammunition stack, like yours Lieutenant” replied Maria
Jose then chorused in
“Triple barrelled smart rifle in 5mm with cerametal architecture and overslung 30mm grenade launcher both using metal storm ammunition stacking SIR!”

Clay smiled as if he was seeing a damascene conversion or so it seemed to John
“Don’t I teach ‘em well? I bet your Sandhurst DI’s couldn’t do better!”
“Clay, they don’t use DI’s at Sandhurst and actually I went to Dartm..”
To late. Clay opened up his arms as if greeting a congregation and John remembered yet again how much he hated this sack of shit
“You see boys and girls” Clay’s voice boomed out “The LT here was a real officer back in the world a soldier just like I was”
*yeah except I wasn’t a white trash bully constantly a guest of the MP’s* thought John
“And he’s been here over four years now, so he’s sold his soul out to our lords and masters many times over. Cus, do you know what he does?”
Clay leaned over Kobi.
“Well do you?” he almost yelled at the both youth who copped a spray of clays saliva at the same time. The young African just shook his head his eyes now fully wide with fear.
“He’s a scout, but he not only scouts out the greenies and their friends oh no he also hunts deserters. So if you ever think about running, he or one of his rat bastard colleagues will be on your ass” Clay finished this off with a manic laugh and john just considered slotting him there and then but he noticed something on his HUD.

“Err Sarge?” chimed in Eddie Clays long suffering point man
“What is it Eddie?” Clay snapped turning away form the main group and looking towards Eddie…

Just in time to receive an arrow straight in the face.

Time slowed down for John as he grasped the hilt of his combat knife and concentrated. He could see that the arrow was at least as thick as his thumb and at least a meter long with black fletching. Blood sprayed out catching both Kobi and Maria, whilst Clay staggered around like a mannequin, gurgling before crashing to ground.

Before that happened though John had rolled forward and taken a prone firing stance, Maria was still trying to clear the blood from her face and Kobi was starting to vomit up his last meal.

Lucas screamed out
“Greenies!” and threw himself to the ground deploying the bipod of his minigun its three barrels already starting to rotate.

Another arrow had found its way down range slapping like a meat hook into a haunch of beef through Eddie leg, dragging the point man down with a almost girlish scream.

John couldn’t see what the other three troopers were doing as he was now completely focused on what was downrange. The combined sensors on both helmet and rifle gave him five hostiles, three bulky greenies or Krawtch as they called themselves one of whom must have been well over 2 meters in height and built like a brick shithouse. He was the archer and his thick bow was almost back at full pull. His two fellow greenies held axes and were obviously waiting for this last arrow to be loosed. Slightly further back still in the eves of the wood were two Athar (or elves as some of the troops called them) their slender arms holding what looked to be a bola and a hooked net which made them slavers or worse.

To John the archer was the main threat and his squeezed the rifles trigger, sending out a 2 round burst with one bullet issuing form each barrel. Both rounds stuck home, their solid copper mass expanding in the bone and flesh of the taller greenies right hand splitting it apart and snapping the bow as well.

Lucas had now just engaged the ammo feed and a stream of saboted flechettes sliced through the air to the greenies and their allies. The sabots themselves floating like a cloud of dandelion blossom about 20 meters from the barrel of the minigun. The Greenies were just over 50 meters away so the flechettes were tore through their leather armour with ease, causing numerous minor muscle and organ wounds which should have started to add up as each received at least a dozen of the little darts each.

John fired off two more two round bursts each hitting one of the Athar, but by the time he had swung the rifle back to the group of the three greenies he noticed that the big bugger had drawn a massive broadsword it its off hand and had started charging towards the group with its two fellows close behind each wielding a large axe. Through his audio sensors john could pick up their battle cry.

In response he yelled.

“Fire you bastards and shoot straight!”

He then concentrated on putting more bursts into the charging greenies legs. These and the continuing mini-gun fire finally brought down the creatures, only 10 meters from the group of troopers.

Slowly John stood up, slightly wobbly as his adrenalin burst wore off. The filters on his audio sensors clicked off allowing him to fully pay attention to the aftermath, and any further threats.

Carefully moving down to where the three greenies lay, he found the biggest one still alive. It glared at John through bloodshot but gold flecked eyes said something in its language and then laughed. John just shrugged and slung his rifle, then drawing his combat knife. The knifes odd shape caught the attention of the three newbies as John lent forward saying “This is going to hurt you a lot more than it’s going to hurt me” before slicing open the Green giants throat. The huge greenie screamed for a moment then all went quiet.

“Not so jolly now are you mate?” John said softly before standing up and taking in the scene.

Clays body was still but Eddie was still twitching, Lucas was still training the treeline for targets but the three newcomers were still standing looking like stunned mullet. The front of Kobi’s combat armour was gleaming with bits of carrot clearly sticking to the mesh of the camo. Maria was just looking at Clays corpse whilst Jose had only now placed his rifle to a guard position.

John just shook his head muttering “this is going to get worse before it gets better” and moved back towards the broken group.”

“Right troops I’d better take over here, any problems with that?”
At least they all shook their heads in response thought John.
‘Maria, see if you can stabilise Eddie there. Kobi, I want you to form point. Lucas, keep your position. Jose. I want you covering our rear.”
John paused taking a sip from the camel pack tube.
“Now I’m going to contact Central and request evac, as we won’t make it back to there without one dead and one wounded. As we don’t leave our dead behind go it?”
The last bit sounded lame to John, as he’d seem fire teams break and run before, but he had to make sure this team held together until he got them back to base.

Moving off to one side John opened up a MEM logo on his wrist comp prepping up a condensed media message.
“Central this is Lt John Campbell, I’m with Snr. Sargent Clay Rickman’s fire team they have one DIA and one wounded, request evac. GPS beacon code attached.”
The message finished John pressed the send button. As he waited for an acknowledgement John turned a full 360 checking the BATSNET reading on his HUD, only one very slow moving OPFOR sigil could be seen, moving away form them.

‘OK looks like we’ve got one survivor out there, probably one of the Athar so I’ll police that. Maria how is the corporal?”
The young woman just shook her head
“Maria what is his status’ repeated John this time with more force.
“Sorry Sir. The corporal, he’s all bled out, it’s all over for him…when will they come for us?”
‘Evac or the greenies’ said John immediately regretting his tone as he saw the shock in Maria’s face.
“Evac, sir.” She replied hesitantly.
“I’m awaiting for a response” a low volume ‘bong’ sounded in John’s ear signalling a message had been received. Without thinking he played the message.

“Lt Campbell, ground Evac leaving now ETA your position 15.37 Local”
Nice and quick thought John.
“Ok, evac will be with us in just over ten mins. Maria please prep the two bodies and I’ll finish off over there” he gestured to the wood.

Without waiting for a reply John started off towards the wood’s eaves, stopping for a moment to check out the corpses on his way. All three of the Krawtch carried the same fetish although the taller one had three bands of silver on his. Using his knife John removed that one and placed the fetish in a handy pocket. Keeping the knife in hand he more cautiously approached the single Athar corpse, which was laying face up. The two large red stains on the Athars chest and lack of breathing seemed to indicate that the Athar was dead but not wanting to take chances he slit the creature throat first.

Very little blood came out which was good as John quickly checked around the Athars neck for a necklace or pendant. This one carried a pendant which consisted of silvery metal filigree surrounding a thin crystal, which seemed to glow a soft white. The necklace was again of a silver like metal with a clasp. It took nearly half a minutes work to open it up and transfer the object to another pouch.

Looking around John could see an obvious blood trail leading into the wood. Less than a minutes walk found him a few meters away from the remaining Athar, who was painfully crawling away.

“How may I serve master?” asked John softly in the creature’s language as he approached.
“I hurt, bind my woun…” the creature stopped as he turned around to see who had addressed him. The sight of John in full combat armour was not what he had expected with his pale face turning a whiter shade.

“Not this side of hell freezing over” John replied in English before slashing open the creatures throat, again feeling a burst of energy banishing away any aches real or imagined. Sheathing the knife, he again checked for a pendant and found one in a similar style to the one he’d just retrieved, this one had one small diamond in the filigree. Straightening up he could hear the sound of jet turbines getting closer so he moved back towards the edge of the wood opening up a comms channel.

“Lucas I’m coming out don’t shoot me, get one of the newbs to pop some smoke.”
“Will do LT” Lucas said keeping chatter to a minimum.

Just as John left the wood a battered GEV side slid to a halt. It’s turret tracking around looking for threats.

The hovercraft was painted in temperate cammo patterns. It’s id marks were subdued but a large golden playboy logo was clearly visible just behind the armoured cockpit a legend of “Gilded Bunnie” written underneath. The GEV’s turbines were barely idling when one of the side hatches popped open and a trim man got out his helmet still on sans respirator unit.

“Johnnie boy!” The man shouted “Get your peeps in, might have some fun in a minute”
‘Havock’ acknowledged John casually.
“According to a Eagle Eye UAV you’ve got a small group of Cav heading this way, been naughty have we?”
“Just minding my own business, you know me”
“Yeah! Who are these ferals?”
‘Privates, Lucas, Maria, Jose and Kobi. Guys meet Sergeant Havock he’ll be our hostess for the trip”
The four survivors of the attack saluted briefly before manoeuvring the now body bagged corpses of Eddie and Clay into the GEV’s hold.

There wasn’t a lot of room inside and Havock made sure that all the team were buckled in and the body bags secured so they wouldn’t slip in any manoeuvres. The hatch then slid shut as the turbines started to rise in pitch and the GEV started to rise on it’s skirts.

Havocks voice then came over the teams comps.
“Captain JB and I would like to welcome you on this short hop back to Central. We’ll be travelling at ground level (mostly) and should arrive within ten minutes or so. For your security we have the turret armed today with a ‘Storm 6-pack of 40 mil grenades, a couple of Hyp-Vel SAM’s and a 4mm heavy flechette minigun. Please don’t puke on the deck or I’ll make you clean it up as we run a clean ship here. Any questions? No? Good!”

The GEV then slewed around and started heading back the way it came, the scream of the turbines barely cancelled out by everyone’s helmets.

Only a few seconds into the journey Havocks voice came over the comms
“Gonna get some explodey goodness in a moment, so hang on!”

The sound of the Minigun firing off and the 40 mm grenades launching on groups of 6 could just be heard, the sound of the grenades exploding somewhere in the distance had no chance of getting heard expecially when also competing with the sound of the Sergeant bouncing in his padded chair.
“God I love this job, I’d even do it for just beer and food!” he laughed.
The gunfire petered off as the GEV sped on over the rough roadway.

JB came on the comm., on a secure side band direct to Johns helmet.
“Johnnie, don’t know what you did, but that was a full hammer of Greenies on doggies. Now we’ll get a nice bounty on that, but you need to watch your back. You can be too good at your job”
The warning given JB went back to piloting the GEV.

The rest of the high speed journey went off without a hitch and the next thing the passengers knew the hovercraft slowed to a halt and sunk to the ground in a sedate manner. The side hatches popped and the team plus John got out. JB had delivered them right to the steps at the front of Infirmary One. Once the bodies were out on the ground Havock slapped John on the back once and the he and the GEV disappeared off deeper into Centrals’ bowels.

“The pilot didn’t talk much LT” opinioned Lucas “Who does he think he is?”
“He lets Havock do most of the talking” replied John “Back in the world he claimed to be a writer, never heard of him before though, I have to say”

The doors of the infirmary had by now opened and orderlies and a couple of officer started to swarm around. The officers were from the 4th Infantry (Clays unit) and no doubt wanted to know what was going on. John however was saved as a land rover turned up and a bulky man in his 30’s got out
“Bloody hell Campbell, where have you been? I want your bloody report now eh?” the mans Kiwi accent was just as intimidating as his physique. John just let himself be bundled into the vehicle and they were off leaving Clays battered team and assorted other person eating dust and looking like stunned mullets…