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Daughters of Kali

Discussion in 'FanFic' started by Cthulhu363, Nov 24, 2017.

  1. Cthulhu363

    Cthulhu363 "It's a bug in the document"

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    Chapter 21

    Neoterra: Hexahedron


    Baxter looked up from the perfectly polished gun counter he was working at. A beautiful Indian woman walked through the front door of his store, “Crusader Weaponry and Range”. She wasn’t in uniform, but he could tell she was military; her poise, confident and rigid demeanor and of course, the standard issue sidearm and knife on her belt. Baxter spent ten years in the service himself. Three as a Fusilier and the rest as a Guarda de Assaulto. He knew the type.

    “Good morning ma’am. What can I do for you today?” he said jovially.

    “I need an hour of range time and all of the .454 casull rounds you have,” the beautiful Indian woman said.

    “.454?! What do you have that fires those?” Baxter asked in surprise and wonder.

    She put a case on the counter and opened it up. Inside was an ancient but well taken care of Ruger Alaskan revolver.

    “Holy shit…” Baxter said to himself. The large revolver was obviously used. He could see certain spots where some of the stainless finish had rubbed down, indicating frequent use in a holster. The sights had been changed to tritium night sights and sported custom rubber grips.

    “That is a beauty. Fortunately for you, I do carry .454 rounds. There is a private contractor company called ‘Dead Six’ that buys a lot of large handgun rounds. It’s part of their creed or something that all members use some kind of big wheel gun. They’re crazy, but they’re good customers,” Baxter explained.

    He found a total of one hundred rounds and plopped them on the counter along with the proper paperwork to fill out. She took his pen, expression never changing and voice the same monotone. Most people were happy to come to the range, Baxter thought. He shrugged and looked over her paperwork.

    “Sarah Patel,” he read off the paper.

    “Here’s your ammo and hearing protection. Enjoy!” he said, overenthusiastically, trying to cheer her up. She just put the boxes of ammunition in her basket and headed to the range without a word.

    Baxter was curious about her and observed her through the safety glass. She obviously knew what she was doing and took up a perfect Isosceles stance and began destroying paper targets with the ancient gun. Nothing makes a satisfying bang like a large caliber revolver.

    Eventually he had other things to do and went back to work but something about Miss Patel bothered him. He tried to read her and figure out what she was feeling or thinking, but she had an awesome poker face.

    An hour later, Miss Patel walked out of the firing range, smelling of burnt powder and turned in her hearing protection and basket. She used up all one hundred rounds.

    “How did you do? Mind if I see your targets?” Baxter asked.

    She shrugged and showed him. There were neat, extremely tight patterns over what would be every major body organ of the printed silhouette man on the target.

    “What range was this?” he asked in awe.

    “About twenty meters,” she said nonchalantly.

    Baxter was speechless. This wasn’t good shooting, this was the kind of shooting only a professional marksman could do.

    “I’m guessing you ain’t a REMF admin type huh?” Baxter said. He still used the ancient American term for Rear Echelon Mother Fucker. He knew a paper pusher could never shoot like that.

    “Definitely not,” she said simply. She paid, put the revolver back in the case and left without another word or glance back.

    An hour or two after the pretty Indian lady left, Baxter realized what he saw on her face and body language. Terrible sadness.

    That was odd. Why would she be so sad? She had an amazing old firearm and shot really well with it. He knew random speculation would never give him the answer, so he shrugged and went back to work.
     
  2. Cthulhu363

    Cthulhu363 "It's a bug in the document"

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    Chapter 22

    Neoterra: Splendor Archipelago


    Sarah slapped in another magazine into her M-91A5 sniper rifle as she took a knee behind cover. The barrel was so hot from the constant firing, she could see heat waves coming off of it. Incoming rounds flew over her head and cracked against the concrete barrier she was taking cover behind. The crumbling, abandoned apartment building provided plenty of debris for her team to use. Crystal came running and slid beside Sarah like a baseball player sliding into home.

    “Are you hit?” Crystal asked, panting and sweat soaked.

    “No. I’m golden. I could use your help though,” Sarah said, shouldering her large rifle again.

    “Whatever you need, I’m here. Adesh is down. It’s just you, me and Aanandi, wherever she is,” she said. Trauma Docs, like Fusiliers were not equipped with HUDs, so she could not track her team mate’s locations.

    “Good, I need you to fire from your side of the barrier, and I’ll fire from the other side. Just remember to fire from the side, not over the top. The enemy is wanting to play ‘whack’a’mole’ with us. On the count of three…” Sarah said and held up three fingers. Silently she brought each finger down, one by one. When all three fingers were down, they both turned and presented as little of themselves as possible and fired from each side of the concrete barrier simultaneously.

    The loud bark of Sarah’s 8.5mm rounds drowned out the anemic, smaller rounds of the combi rifle Crystal was banging away with. They each popped off four or five rounds each and took cover again, just in time to avoid the return fire.

    “I got one!” Sarah said excitedly. Her heartbeat and breathing echoing in her helmet, almost drowning out the gunfire.

    “Time to scoot!” Crystal said. Even though she was just a medical student doing her time in the military, she knew to never fire from the same place twice.

    They both crouched low and fell back to another barrier, a fallen tree. Aanandi was already there, reloading her MK 10 Boarding shotgun. Sarah peaked from around the corner and saw that they had egressed just in time. Two grenades plopped down right where they had been taking cover and detonated.

    “We are all that’s left,” Aanandi said, slamming the drum magazine in place and pulling the charging handle.

    “I say we go with plan A. Shoot everybody we see that’s not us,” Sarah said.

    “Sounds like a good plan. I go left, you two go right and take a firing position behind that burned out APC and cover me. I’ll be aggressing the bastards,” Aanandi said.

    “Moving!” Sarah called as she ran for cover behind a destroyed armored vehicle. Crystal was one step behind. They both took cover and immediately began laying down suppressive fire. Sarah couldn’t get a good visual on any of the enemy but tried to keep their heads down with aimed shots. She could see Aanandi moving on the map in her HUD and was almost in position.

    “Keep firing, she’s almost there!” Sarah told Crystal, who didn’t have a HUD. Crystal nodded and let loose with a long burst, emptying her magazine.

    “Reloading!” Crystal yelled. Sarah then began to rapid fire her rifle to make up the difference.

    Crystal came back up and opened fire again.

    “I’m up!” Crystal yelled again.

    Aanandi was now in position. Sarah could hear the bark of the large bore shotgun over the pop pop of the enemy’s combi rifles. The tall Orc trooper pumped round after round of flechettes into the enemy position and just like that it was over. All enemies defeated.

    A loud claxon shouted and everyone stopped firing and put their weapons on safe.

    “Dammit! I thought we had you!” Gbate said, standing up from behind cover and taking his helmet off. The face plate of which was covered in paint. Paint that Aanandi had put there. Simmunitions were a very old concept but still viable. It was the Aquila Guard’s idea to train them in old school techniques.

    “Just like Hannibal, we feigned retreat and led you into an ambush. Study your history,” Sarah said.

    Gbate responded with a very old but universally rude gesture.

    Instructor Major Mesa walked up to the group. The casualties of the latest training session followed behind him. Adesh, Bella and everyone else sported fresh paint splotches and looked dejected.

    “Excellent work. I’m very impressed,” the hulking Aquila Guard said.

    “He’s complimenting us?” Bella said.

    “Impossible,” said Crystal.

    “Wait for it,” Sarah said, knowing what was about to follow.

    “I’d be very impressed if you were Auxilia on their first day of training!” he shouted.

    “There it is,” said Aanandi.

    Instructor Major Mesa took off his helmet and tucked it under his arm. If his face wasn’t covered in scars it could almost be from a recruiting poster. High and tight haircut, clean shaven and ruggedly handsome. It was when he started talking, that those good looks and presence went away. He never talked. He always yelled, and when he did he had what everyone called “crazy eyes”. Sarah thought there was obviously something broken inside the man.

    “Now, if you can manage without fucking it up, go shower, get dressed in your dress uniforms and be in the classroom at ten-hundred hours! Dismissed!” he yelled. He then turned and marched off back the way he came.

    “I can’t believe you shot me in the face,” Gbate said to Aanandi jokingly.

    “That’s what happens when you’re not on my side,” she answered darkly.

    That answer made Gbate do a double take. He thought about it, then realized she couldn’t possibly know and took it as a joke.

    “Seriously, I think everyone did an outstanding job out there. I don’t care what that douche bag Major says. We keep fighting like this and we’ll all make it back. Let’s watch each other’s backs and stay frosty,” Sarah said to the group. Bella and Aanandi patted her on the back.

    “If any of you want to join the real military and transfer to the Orc battalions, I’ll put in a good word. Except you Crystal. You need to finish medical school, become a doctor and make a lot of money,” Aanandi said, in a rare good humor. Sarah noticed she was always in a good mood after some good violence.

    They made it back to their barracks, old wooden ones that were obviously thrown up during the first colonization of Neoterra, not thinking they would be permanent. At least they were dry, the AC worked and the showers had great water pressure. The barracks were segregated by gender, the males on the second floor and the females on the first. They were open bay type barracks, so privacy was non-existent.

    None of them had ever completely undressed in front of the others before and were a little hesitant. Crystal looked around and shrugged.

    “Bloody hell. Are all of you shy?” She said and instantly stripped off all of her armor and clothing, letting her red hair fall to her shoulders. She then stood there and posed like a model in a photo shoot.

    “Yeah, I’m confident. No need to be shy ladies,” Crystal said, picking up a towel and heading to the shower.

    “She certainly has nothing to be ashamed of that’s for sure,” Rogers said. Stevens just nodded her head in acknowledgment, staring wide eyed.

    “No she doesn’t, but I think I have her beat,” Bella said. She then removed her armor and uniform. This was the first time Sarah had seen Bella naked. Bella had always been gorgeous, but naked, covered in dirt, sweat and paint, Sarah had never seen anything more beautiful. Her heart felt like it dropped to the pit of her stomach, then kept going south. She definitely became a little warm. Gods she wanted her. All the time spent with Aurora was such a waste. The thought that she had hurt such a thing of beauty made her heart freeze and return to its original location.

    Sarah and Aanandi got undressed at the same time. Sarah kept sneaking peeks at Aanandi. Her original assessment was correct, she could have been a model, tall with a muscular but slight build and gorgeous black hair.

    Aanandi didn’t notice Sarah’s glances and they both headed for the shower.

    The shower, like the sleeping bay was open, with no privacy. The two Corporate Security liasons came in the shower a few minutes after Sarah. She could see the obvious cybernetic and genetic enhancements, but that didn’t mar their beauty one bit.

    “Ok, time to get serious. There’s no surveillance in here,” Sarah said, trying to get the sex fantasies out of her head.

    “What is Aurora’s plan? What is our plan?” Sarah asked the group.

    “One thing that was mentioned on the recording with Gbate, is something called ‘the package’. We need to find out what that is,” Bella said as she lathered up her hair.

    “I could try to hack into his personal system, but I doubt he’d put something that secret where someone like me could get to it,” Sarah said.

    “We’ll keep following him and recording any meetings with the Hexa. Maybe we’ll get lucky,” Stevens said.

    “What is her overall goal? Why did she sell the data for the recreation to the Chinese and why is she actively trying to get it back?” Aanandi asked.

    “I’ve been thinking about that. I have a theory…or hypotheses really. What if the data for the historical recreation was a hoax, or faulty or a dead end? What if the data is just the excuse for something else?” Crystal said as she stared up at the ceiling, thinking aloud.

    Everybody stared at her. When Crystal noticed that nobody else wasn’t talking, she looked around confused.

    “That’s it!” Sarah said.

    “The Data was never important. We are just here to clean up the trail that leads to her true purpose…whatever that is,” Bella said.

    “So why go through this horse and pony show?” Stevens asked.

    “Why not just go right for the objective?” Rogers asked.

    Everybody thought for a moment. They all looked at each other, hoping someone else would have an answer. No one did.

    “Add that to the list of things to find out,” Bella said.

    The idea came to Sarah with such a jolt, she dropped her shampoo bottle.

    “Uh oh. New girl dropped the soap,” Rogers said with a devilish grin.

    “This isn’t prison,” Sarah said defensively, but still very self-conscious now.

    “You jumped a little,” Stevens said.

    “I think I know why we’ve been doing all this. Well, not the whole reason, but why we’ve been running around the galaxy cleaning up after the bitch,” she said, still not bending over to pick up her shampoo.

    “Do tell. We are waiting with baited breath,” Aanandi said.

    “Don’t you see? She sold the data. Real, faulty or a hoax, she sold it. How much would something like that cost?” She asked nobody in particular.

    “Priceless,” Bella said.

    “Exactly. She sold the Recreation data to fund this project. All of this is to erase all evidence of the sale and money transfer and whatever else she’s bought with the money,” Sarah said excitedly.

    “The package,” Aanandi said.

    “Come again?” Crystal said.

    “That’s what she said!” Stevens and Rogers yelled together.

    Aanandi rolled her eyes and continued.

    “The package. Whatever the package is, that’s what she bought with the money. It makes sense that something that important and expensive would be heavily guarded, say by an Orc trooper?” Aanandi finished.

    “And possibly our new Aquila friend as well,” Bella said.

    Nobody liked the idea of going against an Aquila Guard. Instead of thinking about that, they started to actually use the shower.

    “Of course, all of this is small potatoes compared to the real question,” Crystal said.

    “What?” Sarah asked.

    “Sarah, we know how you swing. Bella, we know how you swing. But Aanandi, we’ve never seen you with a guy or a girl. What team are you batting for love?” Crystal asked with a goofy smile on her face.

    Sarah gasped at her boldness. As progressive as India has become, that kind of thing still wasn’t polite to ask about. Apparently in the British Isles it wasn’t seen that way.

    Aanandi didn’t seem to mind the question and took it in stride.

    “What do you think?” she asked completely dead pan, giving away nothing.

    “Lesbian,” said Rogers and Stevens together.

    “Straight,” said Bella.

    “I’m not going to dignify this,” said Sarah.

    “C’mon Sarah. You’re hoping I’m a lesbian. I saw you sneaking some peeks while I was undressing,” Aanandi said with a wink.

    This made Sarah blush even more and she looked away embarrassed.

    “Which is it?” Crystal asked.

    “I’m a nunya,” Aanandi said.

    “A Nunya? What’s that?” Crystal said confused. Apparently Stevens and Rogers knew because they both began giggling.

    “Nunya damn business,” Aanandi said with finality.

    Even though the joke was old, everybody started laughing.

    “Fine, fine. But I will find out. Mark my words you tall Indian bitch,” Crystal said still laughing.

    Sarah was realizing that she did have to pick up the shampoo bottle eventually. She waited until she thought no one was looking and bent over to retrieve the wayward bottle. This was immediately greeted by cat calls and whistles from everyone in the room. Sarah stood up, blushing bright red and tried to ignore everyone.

    “So juvenile,” Sarah said shaking her head.

    Though, when she was bending over, she caught Bella’s eye. Bella was not laughing or making cat calls. She just looked Sarah straight in the eyes. Sarah knew that look and her heart floated down to her belly again.
     
  3. Cthulhu363

    Cthulhu363 "It's a bug in the document"

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    Chapter 23

    Splendor Archipelago training facility, Neoterra


    Everyone sat in the briefing room with the lights off. Once again, they were doing an After Action Review on their helmet cam footage. They were going over Adesh’s footage when Instructor Major Mesa paused the video.

    “Can anyone here rub two brain cells together and tell me what our hero did wrong here?” Mesa asked.

    They all looked around confused. The footage showed Adesh take cover behind a wall, then use that cover to return fire, taking out one of the Fusiliers. Nobody could see anything wrong, in fact he looked pretty baddass and professional.

    “Nobody? I figured as much. Simple here was too close to his cover. You should be at least fifteen centimeters away from your cover, not crowding it,” Mesa said.

    The Aquila Guard was correct. However the footage clearly showed Adesh do a power slide and use the wall to stop himself. Instead of taking a second to adjust his distance from his cover, he wisely decided to take a shot at the Fusilier that had left cover. Given another second and he would have missed the opportunity.

    Adesh started to say something to defend his actions but Sarah and Bella shook their heads. There was no point, Mesa wouldn’t listen.

    The rest of the day was spent in a grueling marathon of having to explain and justify every action taken during the training exercise. Sarah, like everyone else was a veteran of multiple combat deployments. They all knew that they made the right call, but Mesa was by the book, and any deviation from prescribed tactical doctrine was a sin in his eyes.

    The AAR finally finished at 2000hrs, too late to make it to the chow hall for dinner. The entire team pooled their money and ordered some Thai food to be delivered. Like all military bases, there was always a small town located outside, dependent on the military personnel’s need for food, clean clothes, entertainment or companionship.

    They all pulled out their foot lockers to use as seating and formed a rough circle in the middle of the bay. The food arrived and just as they started eating, Aurora walked into the barracks, dressed in full tactical gear.

    “Good evening ladies and gentlemen,” Aurora said pleasantly.

    “What do we have here? Thai food? And I wasn’t invited?” she said with an overly dramatic pout.

    “Honestly, we didn’t even know you were here. We haven’t seen you all week,” Crystal said, swiping a stray strand of red hair from her face.

    “I know, I was just kidding. I just flew in an hour ago. However, I am the bearer of bad news,”

    Everybody groaned.

    “I need one person to pull guard duty for one hour, right now. Then you will all take turns,” Aurora said.

    “Who’s first?” Bella said, giving Aurora the Evil Eye.

    Aurora made a show of looking at her holo pad.

    “Gbate, you’re up first. Grab your weapon and you can bring your food with you,” Aurora said and started to walk out of the building.

    Gbate put down his container of food, grabbed his multi rifle from his locker, grabbed his Thai again and followed Aurora. Both Aanandi and Sarah gave him dark looks as he left. He didn’t notice. Stevens and Rogers giggled a little. Sarah was about to ask them what was so funny but was interrupted by Aanandi.

    “I bet they’re going to do some planning. Like hell he ‘happened’ to be first on the list,” Aanandi said bitterly.

    “I bet they’re going to do something a little more intimate,” Sarah said angrily.

    “Or both,” Crystal said helpfully.

    “But they are gone so now we can catch up Adesh, and the Bolts…what were your names again?” Aanandi asked.

    “Ammon and Feke, for the hundredth time,” said Ammon.

    “Right. We, the women I mean, did a lot of discussing about the situation here. Here’s what we believe so far,” Aanandi continued.

    It took about ten minutes to tell the three guys what they had discussed, about Aurora’s dealings and possible objectives.

    “So you plan to kill her?” asked the hulking Bolt, Ammon.

    “Yes. Her trying to cover up her illegal activities resulted in Mosiah’s death. That is unforgivable. Not to mention her betrayal of the Hyperpower by selling top secret data to Yu Jing. She has us risking our lives to cover up her crimes. I don’t think we’re getting out of this unless she dies,” Sarah said with conviction. Sarah failed to mention the personal betrayal.

    “Why don’t we just hand over the evidence and get her arrested?” Adesh asked.

    “She’s a Hexa. They operate outside of the law and have free reign to do what they want. Who would we bring the evidence too? What’s higher than a Hexa?” Sarah explained.

    “So we need to find out what the ‘package’ is and what her ultimate goal is,” Feke said.

    “Exactly. How we are going to do that…I don’t know yet,” Sarah said.

    “We might be able to help you with that,” Stevens said.

    “I channeled my inner ninja and planted a bug on Gbate’s Thai food container. So now we can listen in on them right now. We can hear them through our implants. We’ll be able download the file later so you can all listen to it,” Rogers said with a giggle, obviously pleased with herself.

    “What are they talking about? Have they mentioned the ‘package’ yet?” Sarah asked.

    Stevens and Rogers both looked down, blushing.

    “No, not yet,” Stevens said.

    “They are a little busy,” Rogers said.

    Sarah looked down and realized she broke a chop stick. She did not love Aurora. Hell, she didn’t even like her anymore, but betrayal was betrayal regardless and it still hurt.

    “Fill me in in the morning. I’m going to bed,” Sarah said.

    “Sarah,” Bella started to say but Aanandi put her hand on her shoulder and shook her head.

    Sarah started towards her bunk, but decided to go outside for some fresh air. She opened the heavy door and stepped outside into the humid night air. Unlike most people Sarah enjoyed the humidity. She was used to it from India and Varuna. San Pietro wasn’t humid but here in the Archipelagos, she felt comfortable. There was a cicada-like insect that lived here, and their constant noise put her at ease even more. She picked a direction and started walking, just losing herself in her surroundings. She could smell the fresh grass mingled with the heavy, acidic smells of the nearby motor pool and its compliment of APCs, IFVs and TAGs.

    She had a lot to think about. What did Aurora mean to her? If she didn’t mean anything, why was this betrayal so painful? Could she really pull the trigger and kill her?

    Sarah didn’t have the answers to these questions and pondered them as she walked barefoot through the dewy grass, leaving dark footprints in her wake.

    Sarah knew she wanted to be with Bella. So much time had been wasted with Aurora that could have been used getting closer to Bella. She wanted to talk to Bella about it, but did not think that she would forgive her.

    But there was that look. The look in the shower.

    Is it possible that Bella would overlook her mistakes and accept her? Could someone be that forgiving? The more she thought about it, the more she realized that if anyone could, it would be Bella. Bella was strong. She was fierce, yet playful, easy to talk to and fun. And she was beautiful. She also might be the only person on the team that could out shoot her. Sarah found that attractive.

    Sarah decided in that moment to not be hurt by Aurora’s infidelity anymore. She made the conscious decision to not let that pain get in the way of her future, a future hopefully with Bella. It wasn’t the first time that she had to force painful memories aside to go forward in life. Her past, the abuse she suffered would always be there. It lurked in the corners of her mind and interjected itself whenever it could in her thoughts. She had nightmares of knocking on that door in the orphanage and what was on the other side. The pain was there, but she was stronger. She would not let those creeping thoughts and memories affect her. This experience with Aurora, who she thought was her first, real relationship, would be added to the backlog of bad memories. However, unlike the other ones, she could do something about it. She took out the ancient Ruger Alaskan .454 revolver out of the shoulder holster and felt comforted by its weight. Aurora would feel this steel and know how Mosiah felt. And know how Sarah felt now.

    Sarah pointed the massive hand gun at a tree and took careful aim.

    “Bang,” she whispered into the dark.
     
  4. Cthulhu363

    Cthulhu363 "It's a bug in the document"

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    Chapter 24

    Hexahedron: San Pietro Di Neoterra


    The two weeks of intense training at the Archipelago finally ended and Sarah was exhausted and looking forward to some leave time. Sarah didn’t mind tough training, in fact she loved it. What she didn’t like was the “by the book”, micromanaging of Aquila Guard Instructor Major Mesa and his attitude. Back in the Kamau teams, they were treated like adults. She despised the “back to basic training” feel of the last few weeks.

    The city of San Pietro was feeling like home. She never realized it until she saw the city from the window of the aircraft and felt her heart leap. She loved the city but more importantly, she loved the people she worked with. She never thought about Varuna anymore.

    Sarah looked around the plane at her team. Bella was sitting next to her, passed out and snoring. She didn’t mind, in fact she thought it was cute. Even though Bella was asleep, her hand was still grasping Sarah’s. They had held hands almost through the entire flight. It’s as if they both didn’t want to let go. Sarah was grinning like an idiot the whole time. It just felt right.

    The plane touched down without a problem and were told to report back in two days. Until then, they were free.

    They stood on the spaceport tarmac, baking in the sun and humidity, waiting for their luggage to be unceremoniously thrown from the bottom of the plane. She could see the heat waves coming off the black top and was already starting to sweat.

    Sarah saw Aurora approaching and swore under her breath. She didn’t want to spend any time with her but feared that Aurora would want some quality time during leave.

    “Hey Sarah, can I talk to you in private?” she asked, sounding professional.

    “Um, yeah. No problem,” Sarah said and started walking away from the group.

    When they were a safe distance away from everyone else, Aurora began to speak.

    “I’m so sorry. I know I’ve been busy lately and you were probably looking forward to spending time together…”

    NOPE!

    “But, I won’t be able to. I’m going to be busy these next few days getting everything ready for our final mission. I probably won’t even see you until you come back,” Aurora said with a pouty face that was almost believable.

    “It’s ok love. I understand, mission first,” Sarah said, also pretending to look disappointed.

    “That’s a good girl,” Aurora said, and bent over and kissed Sarah on the mouth. Sarah wanted to retch, but she was a good actress and kissed back.

    When their lips parted, Aurora smiled and walked away. Sarah walked back to where the rest of the team had gathered.

    “I need to wash my mouth out. Do you have any hydrochloric acid?” Sarah whispered to Crystal.

    Crystal chuckled and shook her head in the negative.

    “What did the psycho want?” Bella asked, giving Aurora the evil eye as she walked away.

    “She said that she won’t be able to spend any time together because she’ll be too busy. I think I was supposed to be heartbroken,” Sarah said.

    “Damn, what a shame. I guess you’ll just have to spend it with me,” Bella said.

    “And us! You can’t hog her to yourself. We have some serious karaoke lined up for tonight’s entertainment and we need her voice,” Crystal said.

    Alma, Feke and Adesh gathered around Sarah as well.

    “What nobody wants to hear my lovely singing voice?” Adesh asked, feigning heartbreak.

    “Of course we need you, and these two big Tongan boys,” Aanandi added.

    “We’re Samoan,” Ammon said.

    “We need everybody,” Sarah said, looking everyone in the eye with a grave expression on her face.

    “There is still some stuff we need to figure out,” Sarah said.

    “When and where should we meet?” Rogers, one of the corporate security units asked.

    “Golden Manatee at nineteen hundred,” Sarah said.

    Everybody agreed and went their separate ways.

    Except Bella.

    “So what are you going to do until then?” Bella asked innocently.

    “Probably take a shower, play my bass and relax,” Sarah said, though she knew perfectly well what Bella was fishing for.

    “Want some company?” Bella said, slipping her arm around Sarah’s waist and pulling her closer. Bella’s scent was almost intoxicating. She was so strong and beautiful. Sarah wanted her more than anything in the world.

    Which is why she gently pushed Bella away.

    “I can’t,” Sarah said softly.

    “Why not? I want you. I know you want me,” Bella said confused.

    “That’s why. You deserve so much better than me. You are perfect Bella. I’m damaged. I’m broken. I’ve already hurt you and I don’t want to hurt you again. Yes, I do want you. But what I want most is your happiness,” Sarah said, on the verge of tears, her sentences running together.

    Sarah was about to continue. She was going to explain that she has been used and broken and is an emotional wreck hiding behind a thin veneer of professionalism and duty, as fragile as a Faberge egg.

    She didn’t get another word out. Bella grabbed her shoulders with both hands and kissed her forcefully on the lips. Her lips were impossibly soft and sweet despite the power behind them.

    Sarah wanted to pull away again. Bella deserved better! But she couldn’t. Her soft lips made her melt on the airport tarmac. All resistance crumbled away instantly. Sarah knew she was weak and selfish, but ceased to care.

    “My place,” was all Sarah could say after their lips finally parted.

    Sarah’s flat was only two kilometers from the starport and they walked the entire way, taking their time, holding hands and smiling. There was no need to rush.


    A few minutes before nineteen hundred, Sarah and Bella showed up at the Golden Manatee. They didn’t run, but they did still hold hands. They were both much too sore to run.

    Aanandi was already there waiting for them outside of the bar. She took one look at Sarah and Bella.

    “Congratulations you two love birds. It’s about fucking time,” Aanandi said in her typical, gruff fashion.

    “I don’t know what you are talking about,” Sarah said indignantly.

    “We totally did it!” Bella said, and gave Aanandi a high five. Sarah shook her head.

    “C’mon, let’s go get a private room,” Aanandi said and turned to head inside the Golden Manatee.

    Within a few minutes, the small private karaoke room was filled with Sarah, Bella, Crystal, Aanandi, Stevens, Rogers, Adesh, Ammon and Feke. Gbate’s absence was glaringly noticeable. The pleather seats were overcrowded, forcing everybody to get real comfortable with their neighbors. As usual with the Golden Manatee, everything was clean, but a little worn from wear. But the drinks weren’t watered down and the song selections were the best in the city. Crystal turned the lights down to make the room a little more dark.

    “Let’s get started! I’ll go first!” Crystal said excitedly.

    She chose a random track and let it play in the background while she sat back down.

    “Before we begin this night’s festivities, we have some business to discuss,” Crystal said seriously.

    “First, congrats are in order for Bella and Sarah. Maybe now you two can stop giving each other longing, lustful gazes when your backs are turned,” Crystal said to the applause of everyone in the room except Sarah.

    “Come on! I wasn’t that obvious,” Sarah said, blushing.

    This was met with rounds of hysterical laughter.

    “Ok, back to business,” Aanandi said.

    “While on deployment, everything we see is recorded by our helmet cams…those of you that have them…which is pretty much everyone here except me. If we plan to do what we plan to do; how do we do it without being recorded?” Crystal asked the group.

    Ammon immediately began laughing.

    “That’s what you are concerned about? That’s easy!” Ammon said.

    “What do you mean?” Sarah asked.

    “It’s a trick we used to pull all the time on field training exercises. We are issued EM grenades, right? So when we want to take a ‘tactical nap’ or something, we take an EM grenade, pull the pin and Bingo! They can’t track you or access your helmet cam feed,” Ammon said.

    “Fuck me, that’s brilliantly obvious! Why didn’t we think of that?” Crystal said.

    “So, we just EMP ourselves before we kill the bitch and destroy the package. Sounds easy enough,” Sarah said.

    “Not as easy as that. We still have the Yu Jing to fight at the same time, only now we have no communications, targeting or positioning. We’ll be fighting blind,” Adesh said.

    “Good point. We’ll just have to stick together, keep within visual and do this the old fashioned way,” Sarah said with determination.

    “Despite what psycho bitch says, our main goal is to stop her and her plan, not fight all of China,” Bella said.

    “Kill her, destroy the package and get out before a Sino horde descends upon us. Sounds easy. Except Gbate will be guarding the package and who knows what that douche bag Mesa will be doing. That’s two powered armor heavy infantry we’ll have to take down,” Stevens said.

    “I’ll bring extra EM grenades,” Feke said.

    They then got down to the serious business of singing horrible songs and getting drunk.

    Sarah’s rendition of “Fly me to the Moon” was interrupted when someone walked into their private room. Sarah stopped singing and everybody turned to see who came in.

    One of the Devas that fought with them on Svalarheima and Roanoke Island stood in the doorway, hands on her hips.

    “I see you started the party without me,” she said in a monotone voice.

    Everyone was dumbfounded and didn’t know what to say.

    “At ease people, I’m here to help,” the Deva said.

    “Help us what?” Bella asked suspiciously.

    “Aleph knows what the Hexa operative is up to and knows you guys plan to stop it. However you don’t have all the facts,” she said, as her solid white and slightly glowing eyes surveyed the room.

    “Aleph does not approve of the operative’s mission but because of certain reasons, is unable to take direct action. Aleph noticed that you are very curious about Aurora’s extracurricular activities. Aleph also knows of her betrayal on a personal level, Sarah and concludes you intend to do something…drastic. Of which, Aleph is in complete agreement,”

    “What does Aleph know?” Sarah asked, overcoming her shock.

    “Aleph knows what the package is and where it’s going,” the Deva said with a wink.

    “What is it? Where?” Sarah asked excitedly.

    The Deva just sat down between Stevens and Rogers and started flipping through the song selection.

    “Has anybody sang Elvis Presley yet?” the Deva asked, looking around.
     
  5. Cthulhu363

    Cthulhu363 "It's a bug in the document"

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    Chapter 25

    Hexahedron: San Pietro di Neoterra


    Sarah took her seat in the briefing room next to Adesh. Adesh gave her a slight nod but said nothing. Their two days of leave were cut short a day early. Most of the team were still hung over from the night before. Sarah and Bella did not expect an early morning and had stayed up until three AM, when they got to call to report in at zero seven hundred. Neither one of them got any sleep and were still sore from their escapades. Despite the lack of sleep and soreness, neither one of them could get rid of the smiles on their faces.

    Aanandi was the last one to arrive. She had large black rings around her eyes and was carrying the world’s largest thermos of coffee.

    “Don’t say anything. Don’t even look at me,” Aanandi said to no one in particular.

    Aurora and Instructor Major Mesa walked into the room a few minutes later. Mesa stood at attention behind Aurora as she stood behind the podium.

    “Thank you all for getting here on time. I’m sorry about the cancelled leave and short notice. We just received intel and have to move on it right now. As I speak, all of your gear and equipment is being loaded onto a civilian transport for a flight to Earth. We will be flying in whatever you are wearing now and will be fully briefed when we land. This is the end game here, the final mission. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be the most dangerous mission we’ve been on so far. We will be operating in the homeland of Yu Jing itself. If we fail, there is no coming home. There is no emergency egress scenario. All knowledge of us and our mission will be disavowed. We are playing for real here. Get your war faces on and let’s go,” Aurora said.

    Aurora then turned and walked quickly out of the room before anyone could ask any questions. Mesa stayed. Everybody was too tired to be surprised or upset, they just grumbled.

    “Alright, you heard the lady. Get your tired, hung over asses out of those chairs and follow me. We’re going directly to the San Pietro Starport. Do not pass go, do not collect two-hundred Oceanas. Assholes and elbows! Let’s go!” Mesa shouted.

    Everybody took their time getting up. Feke and Crystal even went to fill up their coffee cups. Mesa glowered at them, but didn’t say anything.

    The team eventually boarded a shuttle bus that took them to the starport.

    “I hope its first class at least,” Bella said.

    “Have you ever seen the military issue first class civilian tickets before?” Crystal asked.

    As predicted, all of their seats were in the back of the plane. Thankfully, being military, they didn’t have to leave their side arms or knives. Being budget seating meant everybody crammed together. Sarah didn’t mind, Bella was seated next to her and laid her head on Sarah’s shoulder and instantly fell asleep.

    The flight to the Circular was short. The transport docked inside the large craft and extinguished its engines. Nobody except Sarah noticed, she was the only one on the team still awake. She was terrified, but didn’t let it show. She wasn’t scared of the mission, she was scared of going back to India. Aurora didn’t tell them, but Sarah knew they were going to India from the intel the Deva had given them.

    “You are going to the Sino-Indian border. I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to current events, but there is a small city called Nathu La. It is currently a part of Yu Jing, but wants to secede and become a part of PanO, citing Indian ethnic majority and historic ties to India. Aurora will tell you this is where the data is being kept. However, this is where the Package will be delivered to. The Yu Jing scientists have already examined the data and realized it’s been corrupted,” the Deva explained.

    “And what is the package?” Bella asked over the noise of a Bollywood soundtrack playing in the background of the Karaoke bar.

    “A chemical weapon. It is a powerful nerve agent developed before the O-Twelve or Aleph came online. It covers a fifty kilometer radius and is one hundred percent lethal to all life. It was developed by China, before it became Yu Jing. Aurora plans to detonate this device inside the city,” the Deva said, showing no emotion.

    Everyone at the Golden Manatee was horrified.

    “Why? Why would she commit mass murder? Just to cover up her illegal activities?” Crystal asked.

    “No, of course not. The historical recreation data was just used to fund the purchase of the chemical weapon, as you figured out. She plans to destroy the city and Yu Jing will be blamed for it. The fact that the weapon was of Chinese manufacture and that Yu Jing desperately does not want the city to defect will point the finger squarely at Yu Jing. The PanO government honestly doesn’t know about Aurora’s mission, so they have plausible deniability. This is what Hexas do. They act on their own, without oversight and will do anything to keep PanO the Hyperpower. Framing Yu Jing for mass murder and genocide will pit the rest of the Human Sphere against Yu Jing and make PanO look sympathetic. It’s a pretty clever plan actually,” the Deva said.

    “But what about us? We’ll know what happened. We will all be witnesses,” Sarah said. The moment the words came out of her mouth, she fully understood.

    The Deva saw Sarah’s change of countenance.

    “Good, you got it,” the Deva said.

    “She plans to kill us all,” Aanandi whispered.

    Sarah sat in her airline seat, with Bella now drooling on her shoulder, pondering what the Deva told them. The two Devas were not participating in this operation, but a fire team of Fusiliers and the two Corporate Security Units will be there. She had to get everyone out. She wouldn’t tell anyone but if it came between getting Bella out alive or the city, she would chose Bella. Hopefully it wouldn’t come to that and she could stop the WMD and get her team out safely. Of course they had to fight and possibly kill Gbate and Mesa to do it.

    She began to pray for the first time in a long time. Sure she lit incense to Ganesh and other gods, but she hasn’t chanted a mantra in years. She began with the Gayatri mantra and continued from there. She finished with mantras devoted to Kali, the Dark Mother. She invoked her protective as well as her destructive nature. She prayed for the protection of her team and the destruction of the forces they will face. She didn’t pray for herself, she didn’t feel worthy.

    When Sarah finished whispering her mantras, she noticed that Bella was awake and looking at her.

    “That was beautiful,” Bella said, smiling. Bella’s smiles always reached her eyes and showed her perfect teeth.

    “I thought you were asleep,” Sarah said sheepishly.

    “I couldn’t understand the words, but I know what you were praying for,” Bella said.

    “Do you pray?” asked Sarah.

    “Every day. I couldn’t get by without it,” Bella said as she leaned back and fiddled with the crucifix around her neck.

    An hour later, when the Circular was full to capacity, it began its long burn towards the wormhole, towards Earth. Towards India.

    The thought of India made her cringe again and gripped Bella’s hand tight.

    “What’s wrong?” Bella asked.

    “I hate India. I’d rather be dropped off in enemy territory naked than go back,” Sarah said, closing her eyes against the memories.

    “Didn’t you grow up there? What happened?” Bella asked.

    “It’s a long story,” Sarah said.

    “It’s a long flight. I’m a very good listener,” Bella said.

    Sarah didn’t say anything and just looked out the window. It wasn’t a very exciting view, just the side of another ship, a cargo transport by the look of it.

    Bella didn’t say anything and just looked at Sarah with a heartwarming and caring look, not one of pity. When it became clear Sarah wasn’t going to talk, she leaned back against her seat and said a silent ‘Hail Mary’.

    “My mother was a drug addict and prostitute. I don’t even remember her name. How pathetic is that? She died when I was very young…” Sarah said and continued for hours, telling Bella everything about her life and the tragedies of her childhood and of India. She couldn’t stop talking. When she broke down or had trouble speaking, Bella would just hold her, not saying a word.

    It was a long flight, but Sarah felt better by the end of it.
     
  6. Cthulhu363

    Cthulhu363 "It's a bug in the document"

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    Chapter 26

    Earth: India/Nathu La


    The transport finally touched down at the New Delhi Starport. Sarah and the rest of the team waited for everyone else to disembark before grabbing their carry-ons and exiting. Without any verbal command, they all followed Aurora out of the starport and into a waiting bus. The bus was unmarked and had tinted windows. It screamed “government use only”.

    Aurora grabbed a hand hold and stood up.

    “I wish I could say that we will have some high altitude training and plenty of time to adjust to the altitude and climate, but I can’t. We’ll be going to a nearby military base, kiting up and leaving. This is it ladies and gentlemen. This is the culmination of all of our hard work and sacrifices. We’ll be at the base in an hour,” Aurora said and sat back down and didn’t notice the evil glances and death glares she was getting from the entire team.

    They rode the large tour bus in silence, everyone lost in their own thoughts. Sarah just stared out the window at the crowded streets cascading past her. Since the colonization of the other planets in the Human Sphere, India didn’t suffer from massive over-crowding like it used to. New Delhi was a large city and like all large cities, was still over-crowded and dirty. The same shady back alleys, flickering neon lights and shabby street food vendors brought back a flood of memories she didn’t want. Though, this time, the pain was considerably less than usual.

    She spotted the arch types that any seedy city street would have. She saw the beggar, trying to get money for his next fix. She spotted the con man, trying to hustle some fake Mototronica watches. Sarah found the lookout for the local drug dealer. Then Sarah spotted a little Punjabi girl, dressed in rags and covered in filth, head to toe. The little girl looked right at Sarah and time seemed to slow down. The look was hard to read. It could either be accusatory or pity, Sarah wasn’t sure which. The little girl looked like Sarah, before she was taken in by the orphanage. It wasn’t until the girl pointed at Sarah that she realized it was her. She was looking directly at herself, the little girl was her.

    Then the bus turned a corner and the apparition vanished. Maybe it was lack of sleep or the Dramamine she took for the flight, but Sarah knew she saw herself.

    Sarah always got the jitters before a mission, but never hallucinations. She said some mantras silently to herself, in hopes of calming her nerves. It helped a little.

    The bus arrived at the front gate of a tiny military installation outside of the city. The security was tight however, as the guards came onboard the bus and checked everybody’s retinal scan and finger prints. Unsurprising, everybody checked out and the bus rolled inside. It drove up next to a hanger and opened its doors.

    “Everybody out! This is our staging area,” Aurora yelled.

    They piled out and walked inside the hanger. The hanger was huge, big enough to fit a large cargo plane but was completely empty except a portable chemical toilet.

    A large truck pulled up as the bus started to leave.

    “Alright listen up! Our gear is here. They will call out your name. When they do, in an orderly fashion retrieve your gear and start getting your kit ready. Time is of the essence here,” Aurora said.

    They had a lot of gear, and it took them an hour to get it all off the truck. Thankfully Sarah was the first one called and was completely geared up when they threw the last container of equipment off the truck.

    Adesh was the last to be called and scrambled to get his gear. Sarah and Crystal helped him get his heavy back pack on. They weren’t even sure if he was going to use it in the upcoming operation, because they still haven’t been briefed.

    Instructor Major Mesa walked into the hanger, already kitted out in power armor and carrying a newer model M-45A2 HMG at the “low ready” position across his chest.

    “You fucktards ready yet? Our ride will be here in a few minutes,” Mesa said in his gruff voice.

    Ammon and Feke raised their hands.

    “What do you girls want?” Mesa asked impatiently.

    “Where are our EM grenades? We packed them with the rest of our equipment, but they’re not here,” Ammon said.

    “My EM Baton isn’t with my gear either,” Adesh said, pointing to his Baton holster, which sat empty.

    “All EMP weapons have been taken out of your kit for this operation. We will have very sensitive equipment and we can’t risk it being disabled. Instead of throwing your pussy little grenades, try shooting them like a man. Suck it up and drive on,” Mesa said dismissively.

    The two bolts looked at Sarah with shocked and confused expressions on their faces.

    “Now what?” Aanandi asked quietly.

    “I don’t know,” Sarah said. She kept a calm exterior, but inside she was panicking.

    “Our entire plan counted on those EM grenades!” Crystal whispered angrily.

    Sarah turned the audio and visual off in her helmet. She stood in almost complete darkness and silence. She needed to think. She calmed her mind and forced every other thought out of her head. Somebody tapped her on the shoulder and she just held up a hand, telling them to hold on.

    Then it came to her. She turned her audio and visual back on.

    “I have an idea,” Sarah said.

    “I hope so, because I sure don’t” Crystal said.

    “Just give me a second and I’ll have an answer,” Sarah said as she opened up her Times Square Plus mayanet browser. Even though she didn’t have her Infowar military grade hacking visor, she still had access to Mayanet and the know-how. She started to access Yu Jing troop placement across the Sino-Indian boarder.

    “Are you looking for something?” a sultry female voice asked. It was coming from inside her head.

    “Who is this?” Sarah asked, a little panicky. This has never happened before.

    “Tsk tsk Sarah. I thought you’d know me by now. You’ve been working with a part of me for a while now…I even sang an Elvis song with you,” the beautiful voice said.

    “Aleph?” Sarah asked, surprised.

    “Bingo,” Aleph said, as Sybil, the ever helpful Mayanet icon appeared in her vision.

    “I decided to personally help you out with your predicament. You’ll never be able to access the Sino-Defence net, so I did it for you. You want to know if the local Yu Jing forces have access to EMP weapons, right?” Sybil asked.

    “Um, yes. I was hoping they’d have some in storage so we can just steal them,” Sarah said in her mind.

    “Yu Jing forces are not known for their abundance of EMP weapons, but this is your lucky day. The usual garrison is Zhanshi, Hsien and various agents, however there is a squad of Domaru Butai in the area doing cold weather and mountain training. And as luck has it, they are all carrying EM grenades. I’ve already sent a message to have them return to the town, so they’ll be there by the time you arrive,” Sybil said calmly.

    “I never thought that sending a squad of Domaru Butai after me would be a favor, but thank you,” Sarah said. It always helped to be polite to an ultra-powerful AI that ran the Human Sphere.

    “Don’t mention it. Unfortunately, that’s all the help I can give you. You’re on your own from here on out. For what it’s worth, good luck,” Aleph said.

    Sarah could feel the presence of Aleph leaving her mind.

    “Thanks,” Sarah said to no one.

    The conversation with Aleph took only a half a second in real time. She turned off her Times Square Plus wetware.

    “I know exactly what we have to do,” Sarah said to her team quietly.

    Sarah told everybody what the local garrison was like and about the Domaru Butai. She explained that Aleph sent them to the town because they were armed with EM grenades that needed to be liberated.

    “So we need to take out a squad of sword wielding, power armored fanatics just to get the EM grenades. Not to mention, finding the package and then finding the transport that Aurora and Mesa were going to use to escape. No problem,” Aanandi said, waving her hands wildly.

    “It’s ok. We got this,” Bella said. She put her right hand out, palm down and held it there.

    “What’s that? What are you doing?” Crystal asked.

    “You’re all supposed to put your hands in on top of mine,” Bella said.

    “Why?” Aanandi asked.

    “It’s a team thing. You know?” Bella said looking around.

    “C’mon! You’ve never seen that? We all stand in a circle and put our hands in to show solidarity. Never mind. Forget it,” Bella said as she put her hand down by her side again.

    “Our ride is here!” Mesa shouted.

    Sarah looked out of the hangar and spotted a large, black aircraft of some kind approach the airfield. Sarah was very familiar with every transport aircraft the military used, and this was not one of them. It was painted dark grey, was completely silent and had no visible propulsion. The large delta-winged aircraft silently touched down and lowered a ramp.

    “Ass holes and elbows people! Get moving! Get inside!” Mesa shouted at the top of his lungs.

    “Can’t wait to put a bullet in that fucker’s head,” Stevens said as she ran past Sarah.

    Sarah grabbed her M-91A5 Long Distance Rifle and ran towards the aircraft. Bella, holding her combi rifle with underslung shotgun that she named “Elizabeta”, ran up beside her.

    “Stay next to me. I’ll keep you safe,” Bella said, via her bone-conducting radio, aka ‘bone phone’.

    “You stick with me, I’ll keep you safe. I have the bigger gun,” Sarah said with a smile on her face.

    They ran up the ramp and took their seats. Every seat had a four-point harness and variable geometry, to fit any sized armor and back pack. Sarah took her seat next to Bella and began strapping in.

    Aurora was the last one up the ramp and pushed the button to close it. She walked up the center aisle, her combi rifle held at the low ready. Before Aurora walked past her, Sarah grabbed Bella’s hand and held it. When Aurora came close, she noticed them and stopped. She was wearing her bone colored helmet, so it was impossible to read her face. She just stood there, motionless and looked down at Sarah and Bella. She stood still for a second or two, but it seemed like an eternity. Then she looked forward and kept walking.

    “Why did you do that? I thought we were still trying to hide it.” Bella said over laser transmission.

    “It doesn’t make a difference now what she thinks. Besides, I want her to know what it feels like to be taken advantage of,” Sarah replied.

    Moments later, all of the lights in the cabin dimmed and a holograph of the city of Nathu La appeared, floating in the middle of the aisle.

    “This is a topographical map of the city of Nathu La,” Aurora’s voice piped over the loudspeakers.

    “We will flying to the ‘X’ here, on the outskirts of the city,” She said, as a small, three-dimensional X appeared.

    “The data hub is located in this building here, in the middle of the town,” a large building was highlighted in red.

    “I will infiltrate into the adjoining building beside it. Here, I can access the security protocols and shut them down, allowing your team to enter the building. Two of the Bolts have been outfitted with Infowar units and will hack the undefended system and steal our data back. Sarah, you will post on the top floor and provide covering fire. Aanandi, Stevens, Rogers and Bella will be on the bottom floor to keep the entrance and exit free of anyone that might want to interfere. Crystal and a small team of fusiliers will post in this empty warehouse a block away. They will act as a QRF and will stay there until requested,” Aurora said.

    A new floating red letter X appeared on the opposite side of the city.

    “This is your exfiltration point. As soon as the data is recovered, regroup and make your way here, where this transport will be waiting for you. If everything goes according to plan, we will be in and out before the local garrison even gets word. If not, you will have to slog your way through a few platoons of enemy soldiers to make it out alive. If you are not at the transport within an hour of your boots on the ground, the transport will leave without you. Is that understood? You and your presence there will be disavowed by the government. I plan to be there, you should too,” Aurora said with a chuckle.

    Of course this entire plan was a fabrication. Sarah knew that Aurora had no intention of following her own plan. She only halfheartedly listened to the briefing, she was already forming her own plan. She knew the transport would not be where Aurora said it would be and that most likely there was not data to steal in the first place. Aurora wanted the team to chase a dead end and be delayed enough for the garrison to be alerted. Sarah needed to know where the package would be and where the transport would really be.

    “Ma’am? Where do Adesh, Gbate and Mesa come into the plan?” Sarah asked.

    “Adesh will stay on the aircraft and be deployed if and when he is needed. This transport has the latest stealth tech and will be circling overhead until that time. After our Akal Commando is deployed, the craft will touch down at the exfiltration point and wait for you. Gbate will come with me and watch my six while I am doing my job. Mesa will protect the transport. Any other questions?” Aurora asked.

    Since nobody actually planned to follow the plan as explained, nobody had any questions. Sarah had her own briefing to give. She sent short burst transmissions via laser to all of her team mates with HUDs in their helmets. Crystal would have to be filled in later.

    Sarah pointed out on the map where the Domaru Butai would likely be coming from.

    “Our first priority is to locate the squad of Domaru Butai and take them out. We need those EM grenades first. That team will be all three of the Bolts, Aanandi and myself. Crystal, Rogers, Stevens and Adesh will have to locate the package and our ride out of here. There is also the problem of finding a thermoptically camouflaged sociopath and taking her out. We know she’s going to activate the package and then head for the transport. So if we find the transport in time, we can head her off and taker her out,” Sarah transmitted.

    Everybody acknowledged. Adesh, who was sitting next to Crystal, quietly explained the plan to her. She then whispered to Adesh. Adesh nodded and sent a transmission to Sarah.

    “Crystal wants to know what to do about the five fusiliers she will be with,” Adesh asked.

    “Tell her to leave them. Once we find out where the exfiltration point is, we’ll let them know that plans have changed and the location,”

    Sarah saw Crystal nod. It was a two hour flight to the city of Nathu La, and with the briefings done, she had nothing to do. She checked and rechecked her rifle and side arm. She cycled the action, did function checks over and over again and for good measure, added a few more drops of Slipstream weapon lube.

    She put the barrel of her rifle on the deck of the craft and lay her helmet on the butt. She tried to think about every possible variable and outcome of the coming operation.

    “Five minutes,” Bella said as she nudged Sarah with her elbow.

    Without knowing it, Sarah had fallen asleep. She shook the sleep from her head and mentally prepared herself. The onboard lights turned red and the seat harnesses released. Sarah stood up and stacked in front of the rear, exit ramp. She could feel the aircraft change speed and altitude from the vibrations through her feet. She felt the plane gently touch down and the ramp dropped. Everybody except Mesa and Adesh ran down the ramp and formed a perimeter around the transport. Without a sound, the stealth craft took off with only the slightest gush of wind.

    They were forming a rough circle in the middle of a large parking lot. Rusting construction equipment was heaped along the edges. A chain link fence had been put up at one point, but it had long since decayed and fallen. Weeds that came up to her waist sprouted through the myriad of cracks in the pavement. The Sun won’t be up for a few hours so her night vision painted everything in a crystal clear green tint. Everyone stood motionless, making sure there was no enemy movement or alarms. Aurora then sent a signal to everyone to start the operation.

    Sarah saw Aurora and Gbate run off in the direction of their rally point. Sara saw Crystal and the two CSUs run off, keeping low and trying to follow them. The fire team of Fusiliers looked confused.

    “Change of plans. You guys head to your rally point and hold position,” Sarah told them.

    They nodded and jogged off.

    “Follow me,” Sarah said to her team.

    They shouldered their weapons, stayed low and followed Sarah into the city.
     
  7. Cthulhu363

    Cthulhu363 "It's a bug in the document"

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    Chapter 27

    Earth: Nathu La


    Aanandi, with her Mk 10 boarding shotgun and heavy armor, took point. It was after midnight, but there were still people around. Even a small city has a night life. Because of that, the team kept to the alleyways and side streets.

    The outskirts of the city was old, dirty and run down. Abandoned businesses and warehouses seemed to grow like weeds. Only the homeless lived in these parts and they were easy to avoid, their burn barrels usually giving them away. As they got closer to the city center, moving around became more difficult. The downtown area had a very active night life, though nothing compared to Neoterra. The large groups of young people bar hopping were bad, but the constant police patrols were even worse. As a group, they decided to go around the downtown area, through the industrial sector. It would take a lot more time, but being spotted by police or worse, an Imperial Agent would be disastrous. They were not here to fight.

    Sarah had her rifle slung and held her giant revolver in both hands, pointed down at the ground. Her rifle would be useless in these close quarters. They were in a wide, trash strewn alley and were approaching a street intersection. Aanandi held up her hand, fingers straight up, telling everyone to stop in place and don’t move. The “Halt” icon appeared in her HUD as well, in case she missed the hand signal.

    “I hear voices up ahead,” Aanandi transmitted through her laser. Sarah could see the very slight blinking at the end of the antennas mounted on her Orc helmet.

    Aanandi, slowly and cautiously got on all fours and peeked around the corner. If someone happened to be looking that way, they would be more likely looking at eye level and not near the ground. Despite being in heavy Orc armor, Aanandi moved like a cat and was completely quiet as she got on the ground.

    She slowly peeked around the corner. Exactly thirty two meters away according to her laser range finder, she saw a Zhanying Imperial agent grabbing a civilian by the collar and holding something to his eyes.

    “Two pax. One hostile. One non-com. Thirty-five meters to left,” Aanandi bursted and ducked her head back in the alley.

    Sarah referenced Zhanying in her database and she didn’t like what she saw.

    “Bloody twat has sensors and cybernetically heightened senses. This is exactly what we don’t need right now,” Sarah transmitted via laser to her team. Any other form of communications, even whispering could be picked up by the Imperial agent.

    “I say we wait here until he leaves,” Ammon suggested.

    “I don’t know if we can wait that long. We need to get in position to ambush the Domaru. I say we take him out,” Bella said.

    “I have a better idea,” Sarah said.

    Sarah looked up the emergency contact number for the city and made a call. Thankfully she still spoke Punjabi fluently. She walked a block away, so the Zhanying couldn’t hear her and placed a call to the friendly, local police department. She dutifully reported an assault in progress and faithfully described what the Zhanying looked like along with his exact location.

    Her civic duty done, she returned to where her team was still waiting and informed them what she had just done. They stifled a few giggles and waited for the police to show up. The Zhanying was in plain clothes, no armor but with a rifle slung across his back. He definitely looked suspicious. Apparently the local police thought so too. Two cars pulled up to the Imperial agent with lights and sirens on. Four officers jumped out, weapons drawn.

    There was a lot of yelling and the team used the distraction to run across the street into the next alley. Sarah thought she saw the Zhanying look their way as she crossed the threshold.

    They didn’t stop and kept going, only pausing to check around corners. Eventually they came to an intersection. They could go around the block, or pass through the business park in front of them. It was a large park, filled with trees and a picturesque stream running through the middle. Benches and tables were placed all throughout the park, obviously intended to give the local employees a nice place to have lunch.

    It was then, they heard a voice come over their bone phones.

    “You passed your objective. Where the hell are you going?” Aurora’s voice came over the radio.

    “We had to by-pass and come around the long way. There was a Zhanying blocking our route. We are still enroute to the objective. ETA twenty-five mikes,” Sarah responded. It was a lie of course and a thinly veiled one at that. Sarah knew, but they were already past the point of no return and she didn’t care if Aurora found out. It was too late now.

    “You forget I can track your movements. You wouldn’t plan on doing something foolish would you my love?” Aurora said. The last two words were dripping with contempt.

    “Actually the opposite. We’re going to do the first smart thing since we’ve joined your little illegal operation,” Sarah responded, keeping her voice level and emotionless. She then cut the transmission.

    “Alright, time table just moved up. Fuck stealth, let’s get going,” Sarah said, and started dashing across the park.

    Sarah ran about twenty meters when she heard someone screaming over the radio. She couldn’t tell who it was, but it sounded like they were in pain. A bright point of light caught her eye and she looked up. She saw a streak of light fall from the air towards the opposite side of the city. Sarah’s heart stopped when she realized what it was. Adesh.

    “Adesh! This is Sarah, how copy?” Sarah said in a panic over the radio.

    “I had a rough landing. That fucker Mesa shot me and pushed me out when they realized what we were up to,” Adesh said, breathing heavily.

    “What’s your status over?” Sarah said, trying to get back to proper radio protocol.

    “It isn’t too bad, I’ll make it. I’m on the opposite side of the city from your location but I think I saw where the package fell. They dropped it from orbit and I think I saw it fall into the residential district two kilometers away. I’m heading there now,” Adesh said.

    “Good luck and keep us updated. Sarah, out,”

    Sarah and her team continued running through the park. They had to kill the Domaru, get the grenades and then hurry to help Adesh destroy the chemical weapon being guarded by Gbate.

    Running through the beautiful park in the moonlight provided a very surreal experience for Sarah. She was surrounded by beauty and peace while hurrying on her way to perform a lot of violence. In combat, the strangest things always go through your mind.

    It didn’t take long, and they were on the opposite side of the park, exactly where they needed to lay an ambush. Sarah spotted the building she was going to use as her sniper nest. The building was at the end of a “T” shaped intersection, giving a perfect field of fire over the street. There were plenty of cars on the street, but nobody used them for cover. Cars are notoriously bad cover. Bullets go through cars like a hot knife through butter, except the engine block, but then your feet are always exposed. Instead, her team took cover behind the brick wall surrounding the park, the corner of a building, and a dumpster filled with scrap metal. They were all veterans and knew the difference between cover and concealment.

    In turn, everybody radioed they were in position. Bella placed all three of her Drop Bears so they were hidden from view but still giving a good blast area.

    Sarah came to the door of the building she would be using and kicked it open. It was an office building but most of the floors were vacant and there were no alarms. The stairwell was plain concrete with no hand rails. She held her rifle close to her body as she started to run up the stairs to avoid hitting it against the wall. Thankfully it was only a four story building and she made it to the top floor without even breathing hard.

    She found a room with a big window, possibly a conference room. There was even a large, sectional table in the middle. She moved a section of the table against the back wall. Sarah then went over to the window to see if it would open. It wouldn’t, so she knocked it out with the butt of her rifle. Once the shooting started, she didn’t want her position given away by a large, spider-webbed, cracked window. Sarah found a tarp from a room that was being painted, crawled into a prone position on top of the table and lay the tarp over herself. Not even the barrel of the rifle was poking out to give away her position. She could lay like this for hours, maybe days but thankfully the Domaru would be marching up this street any second so she wouldn’t have to find out how long she could be that bored.

    She lay under the tarp and worked on controlling her breathing. Her M-91A5 used liquid injection propellant that allowed her to raise or lower the velocity. She switched the rounds to armor piercing and turned the propellant to maximum. When it came to fighting powered armor, she didn’t play around. Especially when it came to fighting a whole squad of powered armor.

    Sarah turned on her X-visor and lined up the trajectory with the Domaru’s most likely route of advance.

    “I hear something,” Aanandi said. She would be the closest to the enemy once bullets start flying.

    The street was narrow, with townhouses on one side, and the brick wall surrounding the park on the other. Once the ambush started, there was no place for them to run or try to outflank their attackers.

    Sarah dialed up the magnification of her variable power scope and saw a heavily armored figure look around the corner. He looked around carefully, then motioned for the rest of the squad to follow.

    They were very cautious, and moved with skill and discipline. But they were still going to die.

    “On my mark,” Sarah said calmly.

    Sarah lined the trajectory up with the head of the lead Domaru. She exhaled slowly, felt the rhythm of her heart beat and eased the trigger back twice.

    The rifle bucked against her shoulder and sent the high velocity projectiles screaming through the air. The first Domaru’s head jerked back violently. Two small, 8.5mm holes appeared in his forehead but the exit wounds was big enough to empty the contents of his head. He didn’t react at first, he just stood still, then fell straight back.

    The four other Domaru were already taking cover before the body hit the pavement. Aanandi popped up from behind the brick wall and pumped a saboted slug into one before he got to cover. It didn’t fell him, but she saw a spray of blood, so she knew he was wounded.

    Bella and the other two Bolts poured fire onto the squad of Domaru and their combined fire killed another before he reached cover.

    Through her scope, she saw a Domaru pull out a sword and charge Aanandi. Sarah tried to put her sights on him, but was moving too fast. He leapt on top of a car and jumped over the brick wall Aanandi was hiding behind. Aanandi saw him and tried to shoot him out of the air. Her shotgun belched an armor piercing slug and struck the Domaru. His left arm was blown off at the shoulder and was sent cartwheeling into the bushes. Unfortunatley his sword was in his right hand and he brought it down on Aanandi with what strength was left him. The sword entered her gut, just below the rib cage. She screamed in pain and surprise. The Domaru pulled the sword out, readying for another strike.

    Sarah had him. She pulled the trigger again. The Domaru’s remaining hand exploded into a fine mist, his broken sword falling to the earth. He looked around confused, then looked right at Sarah’s position. Aanandi grabbed the Domaru by the helmet with one hand. With the other hand, she drew her pistol, shoved it under his jaw and pulled the trigger as fast as she could. The rounds penetrated the lightly armored underside of the helmet, but not the top. Aanandi wouldn’t have known she killed him until the blood came gushing from the holes in the helmet. She tossed his body down with contempt and kicked him for good measure.

    Sarah could see that Aanandi was bleeding, but she was moving fast and without any problems. Sarah figured she would be ok at least until the battle was over. There were still two more enemy.

    A Domaru charged Bella, sword raised in one hand, and chain rifle spitting out shrapnel in the other. Bella took cover from the Chain Rifle and didn’t look worried. The Domaru ran passed a trash can, which promptly exploded, sending the Domaru flying. A Drop Bear claimed its first victim. The Domaru was dazed and bleeding, but to his credit, he grabbed his sword and jumped back up. Bella appeared from around the corner of the building she was hiding behind and started pumping flechette rounds into the enemy from her underbarrel shotgun. Tiny, bloody holes appeared all over the Domaru and he fell, limply and wetly, face down on the pavement.

    Only one left. Sarah scanned the area but couldn’t see him. Then she spotted movement. She saw the final Domaru raise a Spitfire, aiming at Bella. He was already bleeding from the slug Aanandi put into him at the start of the battle. Sarah rapidly swung the barrel of her rifle over and placed the Trajectory line the X-Visor provided center mass on the Domaru. He was behind a car and aiming the spitfire over the trunk of the car. Rookie mistake. Cars are concealment, not cover. Sarah squeezed the trigger. The round zipped over Bella’s head and slammed into the trunk of the car. Whatever light-weight materials these commie bastards made their cars out of, did nothing to stop the bullet that punched through the Domaru’s diaphragm and exploded out his spinal cord. He was dead before he hit the ground.

    “Bella, go take a look at Aanandi. She’s been wounded,” Sarah said over the radio.

    She saw Bella nod and run towards Aanandi’s position.

    Sarah threw the tarp off of her and began running down the stairs to regroup with her team.

    Ammon and Feke were already looting the bodies for the precious EM grenades. Bella was supporting Aanandi, bringing her over.

    “I’m ok. The med-gel from my suit will take care of it for now,” Aanandi said.

    “The suit is keeping her stable for now, but when this is over, she’s going to need a hospital,” Bella said.

    The sound of police sirens filled the air.

    “We need to get going. Adesh is waiting for us,” Sarah said and started running in the direction of Adesh and the package. They didn’t worry about stealth now and were running down the main streets, following the quickest route. They ran past a group of drunk bar hoppers who just looked at them confused. A policeman saw them, covered in weapons, armor and blood. He took one look at them, turned around and went inside a building, trying to pretend he didn’t see them.

    Smart guy

    It only took them fifteen minutes to reach Adesh’s position. Adesh, Stevens, Rogers and Crystal were already there waiting for them. They were siting on the back of a broken down pickup truck.

    “You said you were shot?” Bella said confused. She couldn’t see any wounds.

    “The bastard shot me alright,” and he pointed to his helmet, that had a big dent in it.

    “You have the location of the package and the transport?” Sarah asked with apprehension.

    “It’s on the other side of this building, in an abandoned construction site. Gbate is guarding it. The Hexa bitch is there as well. I think she’s arming it,” Adesh said.

    “The transport is past them, about three kilometers out, parked behind a hill. Mesa is guarding it,” Crystal said.

    “We need to circle around, put us between Aurora and the escape route. We cannot let her escape. How many EM grenades did you guys find?” Sarah asked.

    “We have six EM grenades,” Ammon answered, the hulking Bolt holding one out for Sarah to see.

    “OK, it’s time. We are going to EMP ourselves, so there is no record of what we are about to do or have done. This also means that there is no more communication or tracking. We will each be on our own. Keep an eye out for your buddy, don’t get split up. If you do, make your way towards the egress, we’ll meet you there,” Sarah said.

    With that, Sarah took the grenade from Ammon. Everybody gathered around and Sarah pulled the pin. A high pitched whine came from the grenade then stopped. Sarah’s HUD instantly turned off and the almost silent crackle from her radio went silent.

    It was very anti-climactic. Sarah was expecting something more.

    Aanandi visually slumped as the servos in her armor ceased functioning. Crystal took something out of her bag and plugged it into Aanandi’s armor. She had “liberated” a Machinist’s kit before she left, knowing that Aanandi’s Orc armor would be effected. Within a minute, she had the servo motors up and running, but not the comms, HUD or helmet cam.

    “Move out,” Sarah said.
     
  8. Cthulhu363

    Cthulhu363 "It's a bug in the document"

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    Chapter 28

    Earth: Nathu La

    Adesh led the way, he already knew the route. He led them a block north of the target, then east to head off the escape route. They were passing by more and more scared civilians but they just ignored them.

    They circled around the big building and were in sight of the target. Sarah could hear Aurora talking to Gbate and see their shadows.

    “If Aurora makes a break for it, myself, Crystal, Stevens and Bella will head her off. Everyone else, disable the chemical weapon, even if you have to kill Gbate to do it,” Sarah whispered to her team. They all nodded in acknowledgment.

    Sarah counted down on her fingers so everyone could see. She held up five fingers at first, then one by one, let them drop. When the count reached zero, they shouldered their weapons and charged around the building.

    Gbate jumped in surprise when the rest of the team came into view. Aurora didn’t move a muscle, she didn’t even look up from what she was doing.

    “You’re late,” Aurora said. No hint of emotion in her voice.

    “Sorry, I guess I missed the part of the briefing where you commit mass murder,” Sarah snapped.

    “Don’t be so dramatic, Sarah,” Gbate said.

    “You’re too late. The weapon is armed and only I know the pass code. I don’t know how you found out, but this little rebellion is over. Lay down your arms and I’ll see that you receive a fair trial,” Aurora said.

    “Let’s speak the truth. We are beyond lies at this point. There’s not going to be a trial for anybody. Either we make it out, or we die. Same goes for you, but only one of us is leaving,” Sarah said.

    “Gbate, why are you helping her? We’ve worked together for years and you’re throwing it all away for this skank?” Aanandi said, holding her wounded side with one hand.

    “This mission is bigger than any of us. Yes, people will die, but the outcome will be so worth it. Yu Jing will be diminished and the Hyperpower will be lauded. In this case, the means definitely justifies the ends,” Gbate said.

    “Using nerve gas to kill the entire population of a city is not justified. Especially a city that wants to defect to our side,” Aanandi said.

    “Nerve gas? Where did you get that idea? This is an EMP device. It’ll throw the city into chaos. PanO will be justified in stepping in and ‘stabilizing’ the situation,” Gbate said confused.

    “I told you they would say that baby,” Aurora said, looking at Gbate.

    “They received false intel from the Nomads. They think this is a WMD. They are compromised and this mission is too important. You know what to do love,” Aurora said, raising her rifle a little.

    Gbate didn’t hesitate and raised the barrel of his machine gun. Before he could pull the trigger, Bella threw a Drop Bear like a discus and it slammed into Gbate’s chest plate. Aurora instantly dodged out of the way, inhumanely fast. The cute, bear shaped mine landed at Gbate’s feet and detonated. The blast would have sent a normal person flying, but Gbate was already a very large man and his armor was thick and heavy. He weathered the blast but was knocked off balance. Aurora brought her M1A2 combi rifle to her shoulder and fired a controlled pair into Bella. The rounds struck her breast plate and she fell to one knee.

    Sarah shouldered her massive rifle and not even bothering to aim, double tapped two rounds of her own at Aurora. One round struck, though it was a glancing blow. At 3,500 feet per second, even a glancing blow could be lethal. The round zipped through Aurora’s light armor above her hip, splashing the wall behind her with her blood.

    Aurora screamed in pain, and suddenly she was gone.

    “She’s using her thermopics and making a break for it! Crystal, Bella, Stevens you’re with me! Let’s go!” Sarah yelled. Bella grunted from the pain and slowly stood up.

    Sarah, without waiting for the other two began running for the stealth transport craft. They were between it and Aurora and Aurora was now wounded. They would get there before her and hopefully have enough time to take out Mesa before she arrives. Sarah ran like she never ran before.


    Gbate recovered from the explosion quickly and took cover behind a forklift. Adesh hit him with a slug from his MK 10 shotgun, but it hit his shoulder plate and didn’t penetrate. Gbate knew he was outnumbered and that they would try to outflank him. He had to take one of them out quickly to even the odds. He saw that Aanandi was already wounded, so despite her Orc armor, she might be the softest target. Flechettes and shotgun slugs were pinging off the cover he was hiding behind. There was no hiding or waiting, he had to act now.

    Gbate popped up from behind cover with his heavy machine gun shouldered. Looking through the sights, he pointed at Aanandi’s last position. She wasn’t there. He quickly swung the barrel of his weapon to search for another target. He spotted one of the Bolts running for cover and fired a short, controlled burst at him. He couldn’t tell, but he thought a round might have hit him. The Bolt was behind cover before he could verify.

    Rogers leaned from around a corner and opened up on full auto with her Breaker rifle. The rounds struck, one of them piercing his armor. Gbate felt a sharp, hot pain slice his temple, above his right eye. Blood quickly flowed over the eye, forcing him to keep it shut.

    Adesh leaned from around a corner and pumped two slugs at Gbate. Gbate ducked back, not wanting to take the chance of getting hit by armor piercing saboted slugs. Gbate crouched and duck-walked to the other side of his cover. It was never a good idea to fire from the same place twice. He leaned around his cover and saw one of the Bolts in the open.

    Perfect!

    He never did like either of those dudes. All they did was eat and joke around. He placed the aiming reticle on the Bolt’s chest. The Bolt did not have his shotgun in hand. It was mag-locked to his back and he was empty handed, almost as if he had just thrown something.

    SHIT! Grenade!

    Gbate anticipated the detonation but none came. Instead he heard a high-pitched whine and then everything went dark. His night vision, HUD and comms equipment all died and he couldn’t move his finger to pull the trigger of his machine gun. He had trouble keeping upright from the weight of his armor.

    “You fucking traitors!” Gbate growled.

    “You should be grateful. When this thing went off, you’d be here all by yourself, in a city filled with the dead and no way to get home. When the Yu Jing authorities found you here, who do you think they’d blame?” Adesh said, taking off his helmet and walking up to Gbate.

    The Bolt that threw the grenade also walked up to Gbate and kicked the machine gun from his hands.

    “You stupid fucktard,” Aanandi said.

    “You betrayed your team for that skanky twat? She plans to kill everyone in this town and blame it on Yu Jing, and you were going to help her. That is a chemical weapon, the most deadly nerve agent ever developed. She was going to frame Yu Jing for the mass murder,” Aanandi finished.

    “It’s an EMP device!” Gbate said, refusing to listen to more of their lies.

    Adesh walked over to the device and leaned inside the crate it was airdropped in. He fiddled around for a minute and then stood back up. In his hand was a long, flat metal panel. The panel had the universal symbol for Bio Hazard printed on it.

    “I’m a little fuzzy on my warning labels, but that doesn’t look like a radiation symbol to me,” Ammon said. Ammon then pulled the pin on one of his EM grenades and dropped it in the crate. A second later, the WMD was rendered useless.

    “I know why they didn’t want us bringing our own EMP weapons now,” Adesh said.

    “What do we do with him?” Ammon asked, looking at Gbate.

    “Leave him here, let the Yu Jing authorities have fun with him,” Rogers said.

    “Let’s take him with us,” Aanandi said. The others looked at her confused.

    “We’ve fought together for years. Even though he was fooled by Aurora, he deserves better than that,” Aanandi explained.

    “Ok, but you get to carry him,” Adesh said with a shrug.

    Aanandi stooped to throw Gbate over her shoulders. She gritted her teeth in pain as her wound opened up and started bleeding again. She would need a doctor really soon.

    With Gbate over her shoulders, the five of them began running towards the direction of the transport, and their ticket back home.



    Sarah, Bella, Stevens and Crystal ran towards the transport craft. The buildings were thinning out to a few outlying gas stations and houses, all of which seemed shabby and run down. They followed a small, one lane road out of the city and up into the surrounding hills. The lush gardens and parks gave way to the dried scrub brush and rocks of the natural terrain.

    Sarah saw the hill that hid the transport Mesa was guarding. They slowed down to catch their breath and plan their next move.

    “Bella, you have any more of those Drop Bears?” Sarah asked, huffing and out of breath.

    “I have one more,” she said, taking the mine out of her bag.

    “Good. Place it in a good spot. Maybe it’ll slow the bitch down or at least let us know when she is coming,” Sarah said.

    Bella nodded and placed the Drop Bear next to a rock and covered it with dirt.

    They then started to jog towards the hill. Sarah could see the nose cone of the stealth transport poking from behind.

    Me and Stevens will take the south side of the hill, you two take the north side. We’ll hit him in a pincer attack,” Sarah said.

    Without another word, Sarah darted off, circling around the building. It only took a few seconds and she rounded the corner. The large, dark, sleek looking aircraft sat in the middle of the yard on its landing gear. Aquila Guard Mesa stood in front of the ramp, HMG in hand. Mesa saw Sarah in that same moment and started to raise the machine gun to his shoulder.

    Sarah’s sniper rifle was already raised and she fired first. The EM had knocked out her optics and X-visor, so she just aimed down the barrel. She fired a quick controlled pair at the massive Aquila Guard. One high velocity round struck the Aquila in the helmet, knocking off an antenna and throwing his aim off. He let rip with a long burst at Sarah but because of Sarah’s shot, his burst went wild and only one of his rounds found a target. A heavy caliber bullet smashed into Sarah’s beloved rifle, knocking it out of her grasp and spraining her wrist.

    Mesa recovered from the hit and corrected his aim, ready to unleash another long burst at Sarah, not even attempting to find cover. Suddenly the air was filled with hot flying metal as Bella, Stevens and Crystal opened up on full auto, emptying their magazines into Mesa as they took cover behind a pile of bricks. Sarah could see dozens of bullets sparking off his heavy armor. Most of the small caliber projectiles glanced harmlessly off, but some found their mark. Mesa raised his left arm to block some of the incoming rounds and three of his fingers were disintegrated in the hail of bullets. Another round found its way between his armor plates, under his arm pit.

    “Take that mother fucker!” Stevens shouted while reloading her Breaker rifle.

    Mesa grunted so loud after being hit, Sarah could hear it over the sound of the gunfire. Sarah drew her huge revolver and her knife and crouched low. After only a couple of seconds Bella and Crystal ran dry.

    “Reloading!” they both called at the same time and took a knee behind cover. They were both already ripping magazines from their pouches.

    Sarah used the lull and with pistol and knife in hand, dashed towards the wounded Aquila guard. He seemed to forget about Sarah as he fired a never ending burst in the direction of Bella and Crystal. All discipline out the window, he kept his finger on the trigger and didn’t let up. The barrel of his HMG was already glowing red when Sarah fell upon him.

    She used her momentum and jumped, planting a solid kick to Mesa’s chest plate. He dropped the machine gun and stumbled backwards. His feet caught on the edge of the ramp and he toppled backwards. Sarah was instantly on him, straddling him. She swung the knife down, towards his eyes. He swatted the strike aside with ease, his reflexes and servo motors still in fine, working order. His left hand reached out and grabbed her throat. Despite missing a couple of finger, he squeezed so hard, all breath instantly left her lungs. She put the stubby barrel of her .454 revolver against his arm and yanked the trigger back. The blast was tremendous. The vice-like grip around her neck relaxed as she realized the revolver blew Mesa’s arm off at the elbow.

    Mesa didn’t scream, he looked at the stump of his left arm, confused. Sarah didn’t wait for him to regain his senses and slammed the knife down. The knife slammed between the armor plates of his neck and shoulder, all the way to the hilt. Blood gushed out in an arterial spray.

    Mesa’s back hand knocked Sarah off him and dented the face plate of her helmet. Sarah flew back and landed on the ground hard. Mesa shakily stood up and pulled the knife from his neck. A fresh torrent of blood shot out and he stumbled for a second. Slowly and with little coordination, he pulled the pistol from his holster and tried to aim it at Sarah. Sarah’s vision was blurry from the hit and her eye lenses were cracked. She had dropped the Revolver and started to search for it, knowing she wouldn’t find it in time.

    Bella ran up to Mesa, shoved the barrel of her underbarrel shotgun to the side of his helmet and pulled the trigger. Mesa’s head exploded in a shower of meat and grey matter. Mesa didn’t fall. He slowly slumped to his knees and stayed there, upright, pistol still in hand.

    “Would you look at that,” Bella said, eyes wide.

    “At least I blew the bastard’s fingers off,” Crystal said and spit on Mesa’s body.

    At that moment, they heard an explosion coming from nearby. It was a small detonation and made a THWUMP sound.

    “The Drop Bear!” Bella said.

    “Hurry, you two drag the body away and hide,” Sarah said urgently and ran up the ramp, into the transport aircraft.

    Bella grabbed Mesa under one arm, and Crystal the other. It was easier because he was still upright, but he still weighed a ton. The quickly dragged him off and hid the body and themselves behind a pile of rubble, Stevens covering them.

    It was barely in time. Aurora came limping around the corner of the building, holding her rifle by one hand, almost dragging it. Her thermoptic camouflage was flickering in and out. She looked around, then raised her rifle to her shoulder, scanning her sectors for threats.


    Aurora approached the landing site, dizzy from the loss of blood. She didn’t know how bad the wound was, but was afraid that if she took her hand away, her intestines would come with it. She didn’t know who shot her, but if she found out, she was going to kill their whole family. Slowly.

    Aurora saw the Drop Bear they left for her and shot it from a safe distance.

    Amateurs.

    She rounded the corner of the building. She was worried that asshole Mesa would take off and leave without her. She recruited him before he was formally charged with several accounts of sexual assault. Sure, she was going to make him disappear after this operation, but he was useful for now. She just didn’t like loose ends.

    Despite some setbacks, the package would still go off and her plan would still work. She underestimated that stupid Indian girl. Aurora didn’t know how Sarah put everything together but it didn’t matter now. Her ticket out of here was in sight.

    But where was Mesa? She looked around and didn’t see him. She checked her HUD, but his IFF wasn’t registering anywhere. It’s almost as if he disappeared.

    She braved taking her left hand away from the wound on her side and shouldered her combi rifle. Thankfully her guts didn’t spill out. It was only a glancing blow and it looked mostly superficial, thankfully. But it still hurt and bled a lot.

    Aurora looked around for anything that could be a threat or any sign of Mesa. She could smell gunpowder, lingering in the air. She then noticed a pile of bricks off to her left. It looks like it was chewed up with a machine gun. Broken bricks and brick dust lay everywhere.

    She took a few steps closer to the aircraft, always looking down the sights of her gun. On her left hand side, she saw a destroyed sniper rifle. A heavy caliber bullet had obviously struck it.

    “Sarah,” she said out loud, almost laughing. She hoped the round that destroyed her rifle, hit her too. The snooty bitch had it coming.

    Then Aurora noticed the massive amount of blood near the ramp of the aircraft. She froze in place. She looked and listened for threats. She cycled through the different forms of night vision and checked her HUD. Nothing. Then she noticed a reflected light coming from near the landing gear. It was a Kamau helmet, with a large dent in the face plate and cracked eye lenses. It looks like Mesa destroyed her rifle and then made the fight personal. A broken helmet, a large pool of blood and no sign of Mesa. He obviously fucked her up and went looking for her buddies. Good. That meant she could leave him here and not worry about killing him later.

    Aurora lowered her rifle and walked up the ramp, hitting the button to close it. She checked the time. The device should be going off in five minutes. Time to go!

    She walked up to the pilot’s compartment and pressed the button to open. She needed to tell the pilot to take off immediately.

    The door slid open and a figure was standing there. Aurora was very confused at first. It wasn’t the pilot. It was Sarah. He armor was covered in dirt and blood. She was helmetless and was pointing a gigantic, ancient revolver at her head. Aurora couldn’t read the expression on her face, but it seemed sad. Maybe disappointed.

    Aurora’s grip tightened on her rifle and was doing the math to see if she could bring it up in time. Sarah’s grip tightened on the revolver and the hammer eased back a fraction of a millimeter.

    The two women stood there, facing each other. One, a half-pound of pressure away from sending a .454 Casull round into the other’s head and the other debating to raise her rifle and throw the dice.

    Aurora finished the math. With the realization, a great weight lifted from her shoulders and every muscle in her body relaxed. The grip on her rifle loosened and it clattered to the floor. She slowly raised her hands and undid the clasps of her helmet. She let the helmet fall to the floor as well. She shook her long, blonde hair free.

    Aurora looked at Sarah and gave her the first genuine smile she ever gave her.

    Sarah stroked the trigger back and Mosiah’s Ruger revolver bucked in her hand. Aurora was temporarily lost in the muzzle flash. The huge round entered Aurora’s head just above the left eye and took the top of her head off. She fell straight back, arms at her side, the sweet smile, now a grimace.

    Sarah didn’t even look at Aurora as she walked past, holstering the revolver. She pushed the button to open the ramp. Everyone was at the foot of the ramp, waiting.

    “Someone contact the Fusiliers, let’s go home,” Sarah said to her team.
     
  9. Cthulhu363

    Cthulhu363 "It's a bug in the document"

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    Epilogue

    Neoterra: San Pietro di Neoterra four months later


    “C’mon! You’re going to be late!” Bella said, holstering her service pistol and heading towards the door to their apartment.

    There was very little aftermath to the failed operation to destroy the city. The entire team gave the exact same report. Of course leaving out the part that they went rogue and killed an Aquila Guard and a Hexa Operative. They denied knowing about the nerve agent or what Aurora’s true plans were. Since it was an operation planned by a Hexa, there was very little scrutiny. There was no helmet cam footage to go over to disprove their stories. They just got the story so they knew what to write on the bronze plaque to commemorate the life and service of the brave operative. The entrance of the Hexahedron was wallpapered with hundreds of similar bronze plaques. Each one told the story of their final acts, never using their real names. Aurora. Sarah never knew her real name. During the debriefing, Sarah learned that the small city of Nathu La would be annexed by PanO and that the O12 already authorized it.

    “What are you doing?” Bella said, putting her hair into two pig tails.

    “I’m writing Mosiah’s family a letter to send with his gun.

    “What are you going to say?” Bella asked seriously.

    “I’m just telling them what a great man he was. How bravely he fought and died and that this family heirloom was put to a use that would have made him proud,” Sarah said, turning off the holographic keyboard and standing up from the desk.

    “You should send them a wedding invitation,” Bella said, looking at her uniform in the mirror.

    “I already included one. I hope they can come. I’d love to meet them. I am going to miss that big Ruger though. I grew kinda attached to it,” Sarah said sadly.

    “Maybe, just maybe someone was able to track one down for a wedding present for their bride,” Bella said with a wink.

    That put a big smile on Sarah’s face.

    “C’mon. You don’t want to be late to your first day of being a certified Bolt. I’m so glad you’re not in that glorified swim team anymore,” Bella said, dodging the boot Sarah threw at her.

    Sarah stood beside Bella, both of them looking in the mirror at their Bolt uniforms.

    “I gotta admit. We look good,” Sarah said smiling.

    She reached up and kissed Bella. Bella kissed back.

    Sarah finally found her place. This is where she belonged. She had the woman she never thought she would deserve. She had a new team that would accept her and a new city to live in. All of the demons of her past were still there, but will always be in the background, never center stage. Sarah was truly happy for the first time in her life.













    About the author



    Joshua Hill is an avid fan of everything Infinity. He spent fourteen years in the United States Army before becoming a police officer. After four years as an officer, he decided to switch careers and become a truck driver. This doesn’t give him a lot of time to play Infinity, so he writes about it instead. He studied for a year under Orson Scott Card in his creative writing class at Southern Virginia University and has been writing ever since. This is the most ambitious story Josh has written to date.
     
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