Redwolfe paced about the artificial clearing, his chameleon-suit lay folded on a metal box next to him. After going back and forth for about five times, he sat down and began cleaning his pistol.
“Well, these beauties certainly did the job right, right through the body armour and into the nervous system,” he remarked, sighting the weapon and sliding it into his holster, “I hope they keep these around, they’re the best weapon we’ve used so far.”
Vermillion nodded, “I’d say, they’re more effective than firearms not to mention the mess that is avoided by knocking them out.” She was standing next to a small aircar, she opened the door and slipped in, tinting the windows and changing out of her suit. A minute later, she came back out, dressed in civilian clothes but she still had her carrying case with her laptop inside it. She was a fox, her ears standing tall through her bright blue hair, with the long bangs tied into multiple braids, hanging down over her cheeks. She had a mustard coloured t-shirt with a dingy green jacket, which looked it had been salvaged from a coverall. Her arms were bare save a gilded armband on her right arm. She had a broad bushy tail that slowly twisted left and right as she packed up her equipment, her boots clumping mutedly on the hard ground. When she was done, she turned around and sat down next to Redwolfe, looking around at the various exits from the ruined building they were in.
“So, what do you think? Will Roley come back drunk? Or will he have a whole battalion on his tail?” Redwolfe commented, looking at his watch.
“Either one will be fine, he’s done both before. We’ve been able to deal with both successfully, no worries.” Vermillion said, chuckling, “Just wish he’d tell us in advance which one so we’d have more time to prepare.”
Redwolfe shrugged, “Well, he’s got the armour and the skill, we’ll just have to accept his eccentricities.”
Vermillion grunted in agreement and they waited on their friend.
Trafalgar-4’s squad pulled back into the base, surveying the damage during the firefight, most of the destruction was in a line where the armoured soldier had fended them all off in order to escape. A couple of trashed hallways and the comm. station was completely trashed. The sergeant stepped off the truck and was saluted by the corporal waiting to give his report.
“So what kinda hell did he wreak on the place?” The sergeant remarked, holding his hand to his eyes to survey the tarmac.
“Sir, loss of one vehicle, gatehouse needs repairs as do corridors A, B and E. The cafeteria is a mess and the comm. centre is in a million pieces. And uh, Sir.”
“Spit it out Corporal.”
“We found more unconscious guards inside the warehouse, someone came and stole the prototype shipment from right under our noses.”
The Sergeant glared at the Corporal, his ears flattening against his skull, “The shipping is GONE? What the hell, @#*! We’ve been sucker punched!” The sergeant growled and slowly calmed down, needing to be in control of the situation, “Give HQ a full report by 6:00pm tonight, don’t leave anything out, this is something they’ll want to take a look at themselves. Track down security and get any and all information on the intruders, I want to know why they didn’t notice anything unusual during this whole incident.”
“Yes sir.” The jaguarondi Corporal turned and jogged towards the main entrance, the doors of which were being replaced back on their hinges. The sergeant just looked at the base and shook his head, his tail swishing, but low to the ground,
“How in the hell…”
He got back into his jeep and drove away.
“Ahh, the man of the hour, the master of ceremonies himself, glad you could accompany us on such short notice.” Redwolfe said with a grin, watching the familiar red and grey figure come out of a dark hallway in front of him.
“James, Chels! Howsit goin?” Roley said, waving to the pair. As he approached, Roley unclipped his belt and let it fall to the ground, opening a side holster and sliding out a can of beer.
“Well, at least he waited until it was over this time.” Chels observed, shaking her head and picking up the box containing their field gear for this mission. She placed the box on a ledge of the aircar and popped a side hatch, sliding the box into the compartment. She slammed it shut and turned to the other two, Roley has his helmet half open and was thoroughly enjoying his beer, while James quietly inquired about his diversion techniques.
“Oh ya, I showed up and all they had for me were Greenmen, so I had to give them some on the spot training quickly so that I would be able to enjoy myself.”
“How attentive were they?” James inquired. Roley chugged his can and nodded,
“Quite well actually, they caught me sleeping and rolled my ‘nade right back at my feet. And that was only after I took out three of them!” Roley continued drinking and Chels began laughing quietly, opening the car door and getting in. Roley looked at her quizzically and then looked at James, “What’s with her?” He asked.
James smiles and answered, “You were on the comm. the whole time, we heard everything. I’m surprised you didn’t lose your entire paint job, you crazy fox!”
Roley just grinned like an idiot and walked over to get into the car, “I am that is!”
James got in the driver seat and turned the vehicle on. The turbines on the side quickly sprung to life and rotated upwards, lifting the car slowly off the ground. It moved forward and flew into the largest exit, moving down a derelict passage. The tunnel opened out into a deep abyss, the site of a large catastrophe over 100 years ago, which had created a large wedge inside of the plate, ruining the area around it for kilometres. It was almost completely dark and the aircar navigated using tightband radar to scan the terrain around it.
The aircar descended for some time before re-entering the maze of tunnels near the bottom. It was a narrow fit; metal beams occasionally scraping the side of the vehicle as James precariously piloted the car, a specific path in mind as they dove deeper into the darkness. Finally, after half an hour of twists and turns, they came to a large and ancient wall. There was no visible way past this immense barrier and James set the craft down twenty feet from it. The trio got out of the car and packed up their field gear and the prototypes, Roley strapping the large metal box to his back. The servos and hydraulics in his suit whined as they rebalanced for the added weight on his back. He gave James the thumbs up and began walking to the wall. Chels followed, with a smaller load of gear and one of the prototypes. James shut and locked the aircar, tapping a six-digit code on an exterior keypad. The aircar powered down completely and faded from view, slowly taking on the looks of the surrounding junk metal. Satisfied with the results, James walked over to the wall where the other two were waiting.
“Roley, your suits electronics shielded up?” James asked, sliding a hidden panel open on the wall.
“Tighter than the Wall-That-Traps-Us, I am.” He replied, slipping his beer can into the cup holder on his belt. James nodded and entered a code, then pulling on the handle to the left. Something inside the wall clanged and a door retracted from the wall, revealing darkness even deeper than the one they just left. They silently walked in, single file and the door shut right behind Roley’s tail as they weaved their way deeper in.
They did not say a word as they plodded their way through this place, so ancient, the semblances of cell structures worn away by hundreds of years of war, history and abandonment. This deep under the plate, civilization had taken its leave long ago. They had all turned their radios off, and anything powering Roley’s suit had its EM signature completely masked. As far as the world of light and radio was concerned, they were dead to the world. Chels lead the way, following a strange twisting path that seemed to be planned by some malevolent being with a random number generator. No flashlights, no night vision, just one person following the one in front. Chels deftly walked the path however, and did not stumble, as if she knew every bump and every snag in the way.
Chels stopped, holding motionless, which signalled the other two to do so as well. In front of them about twenty feet away, something moved about, seeming to come right out of the endless mass of metal and ceramics scrap. It was about two feet in length and moved with exact careful movements. It’s metal shell glinted the bits of light that were this far down, it’s eyes a deep glowing red. The creature moved from its place and approached the path, pausing every now and then to look around. It paused when it’s gaze fell on the trio. For a full ten seconds, not even the fur on their hides moved. The creature, now satisfied, moved on, disappearing into a small hole on the opposite side of the path. Two minutes later, Chels began moving again, making her way down the path again. James followed and so did Roley, exhaling a sigh of relief, though somewhat muted.
Finally, Chels stopped in front of a door, one of the few still left intact from the ravages of this place. She entered a combination into the keypad, the buttons worn and the plastic rotting away. It beeped and the door slid open, silently and quickly. Inside was an old but undamaged hallway. The walls were made of drywall and the lights overhead worked. The trio entered and the door shut behind them.
“At last, I don’t have to hear myself think again!” Roley shouted his stride more confident and purposeful. He powered his suit back up to full and sighed with relief, “OH, in the name of Dawn, that’s a lotta weight to carry. Next time could we just go steal schematics of these things? Data soo much easier to carry!”
James chuckled and reached forward, releasing the straps on Roley’s back and pulling up one end of the box and holding it up,
“There, now get all the kinks out before I put this back on you.”
Roley stopped and stretched his limbs out, the sound of several vertebrae cracking echoed down the hall and Roley let out a howl of satisfaction, his tail swishing happily now.
“Oooh, damn that felt good.” Roley said, helping reattach the box to his back.
The trio moved on, reaching the end of the hallway. Roley quickly reached for the door that blocked their way and gripped the handle. Without warning, Roley had a portable Railgun to his head and an arm around his neck.
“I win.” The de-cloaking figure declared, Roley whimpering, his tail down and limp.
“Don’t do that!” Roley complained, shoving off the guard, a tall thin mouse in full chameleon-battle armour. The guard holstered the gun and laughed at Roley,
“You’re just too big of a target to resist, bumbling around here like that. I heard you coming half a click away!” He smiled and moved on to the other two.
“Seigfried.” James said.
“James.” The mouse replied, glancing at Chels, moving onto Chels, “Lieutenant”
“Captain” She nodded in assent. He waited for Roley to calm down and stand next to his team mates.
“I shall scan you and if you check out, you can be on your way.”
The mouse moved back to Roley and held his hand against the temple of his helmet, concentrating and closing his eyes. He could see in front of him, a swirling and glowing mass of light. It was bright and gaudy, seeming to move at random. However there were no signs of drugs or mental programming, which always made itself apparent because of it’s unnatural origin.
He took his hand away and nodded to Roley, who moved to the door and waited. Now Seigfried held his fingers near James’ temple. Cool and grey, looking like a sea creature hovering in the darkness, regular and very bright. It was very easy to tell that nothing hindered this mind. Seigfried nodded to James, who walked over and stood next to Roley. Finally, Seigfried scanned Chels, hand next to the temple. He could see a swirling red mass, variable in brightness and changing slowly over time, never the same as before. Nothing here though, appeared unnatural, so he dropped his hand and nodded,
“You’ve all got clear heads, but mind you Roley, the alcohol is going to affect your long term memory.”
“What if I want to mess with my head huh?” Roley challenged, hands on is hips. Seigfried sighed,
“You all can go, Dunrick will be glad to hear of your success in the field.”
“Good Hunting.” James said, opening the door.
“Until again James.” Seigfried said, fading into the void.
-----*End of Chapter 1*