It had been
over an hour since they had arrived at the rendezvous site, a rock outcropping
that reached some fifteen yards out into the fast moving river that ran along
the far side of the island. It was set some thirty some odd yards from the
access road that had been cut through the dense native forest, making this area
closer to a wilderness than civilization.
forestry service had long ago declared that the island was not the habitat of
the inaccurately named Johnson’s rabbits - the head of the planets food chain-
but standing out here even in board daylight, the forest became a maze of
lights beams and dark shadow which could conceal just about any creature of the
been out there for most of that time, standing watch for the approaching
tilt-rotors, lowering his binoculars he once again looked to his back hoping
not to be confronted by some unknown horror.
“Oh to be
in power armor now that spring is upon us,” he said to the world around him, as
he synched up the coaler on his jacket against the cool breeze coming off the
matter Sam,” said Grey’s voice into his telecom earpiece, “miss your armored
about this for a moment, “Damn right,” he said while shifting his position
against the imagined felling of something crawling up his leg, “I’m standing in
a patch of woods on an alien planet,” he said while quickly scratched at his
leg, “God known what kind of beasties are roaming about the place.”
of nasty, any sign of Overlord?” asked Grey
replied Jones as me moved out onto the rocks to get a better look up stream,
kneeling down he raised his binoculars. The range indicated swung widely as he
scanned along the river and its banks, then something large and fussy appeared
causing the auto-focus to lock on, the sight of the tilt-rotor zoomed into clarity.
It had its
engine nacelles point straight up and was moving fast and low over the river,
hugging the bank and stayed below the treetops. It was a thrilling sight.
come,” said Jones still watching them approach.
to stay off the Pacscom,” said Grey, “and definitely none of that SIcom stuff.”
replied Jones now remembering that he was going to need both of his hand free,
so he stowed the binoculars and stood up, he then walked slowly out toward the
river edge of the rocks.
outcropping was wide with good footing; there should have been little chance of
accidentally falling off, but for the hypnotic effect of the swiftly flowing
river. The sign and sounds of the fast moving water made it hard to keep your
oriented, you had a tendency to lean against the direction of the flow in order
to brace yourself against an expected force that was not there.
curst Jones as he almost fell over; the aircraft was now less than a mile away,
so he had to get his act together. So he straightening up and assumed a wide
stance and concentrated on the incoming tilt-rotor, now feeling more stable he
raised his arms in an overhead wave to attract its attention.
tilt-rotor approached Jones could see the flight crew through the cockpit
window, the pilot was intent on controlling the aircraft, while the copilot
scanned the surround countryside, the aircrafts loading ramp was down and being
used as a platform by a flight suited trooper who knelt by its edge.
With great control
the aircraft hovered just ten feet out from the rock ledge, slowly and
obviously under the guidance of the trooper on the ramp, the aircraft turned in
space and slowly started to back up to the outcropping.
carefully backed away towards the trees which he now viewed as a place of
safety, once there he turned back to watch. Beyond the aircrafts guide he could
see the assault team, fully armed and armored they stood signal file holding
onto the overhead handholds waiting of the go signal to be given.
It was now
hovering just a few feet up, with only its tails twin vertical stabilizers over
the rocks. The flight suited trooper looked back into the passenger cabin then
turned and made a fist and gesture with his arm; in rapid secession the troopers
moved pasted him and jumped from the ramp onto the outcropping, after gain
their footing they jogged pasted Jones into the woods.
As soon as
the last trooper was clear, the tilt-rotors engines surged creating a powerful
downdraft, causing Jones to grab for his hat. The aircraft started to rise and
angled forward while picking up speed, within moments it had closed its ramp
and was now heading for the opposing bank of the river.
still watching the tilt-rotor reseed, when something firmly graded his upper
arm, he turned and found himself face to visor with a fully armored trooper.
Although the sight of such within the Alliance was nothing new - in fact he had
trained to fight in armor- but here and now it was almost as if he had just
encountered an alien life form, one that resemble humanity but with so very
alright,” it said in a transmitted flat-monotone voice.
“Yes sir,” Jones
said, more out of training than the reality of his situation, since for some
reason his inability to see the trooper’s eyes, and the sound of his electronic
voice unsettled him even more. He know from experience that when your in the
suit, the world is a very different place, and that you and your fellow
troopers were all on the same side; but now he was on the outside trying to
holding him turned and looked into the woods towards another armored figure,
this one was carrying a Banshee auto-rifle cradled it in his left arm while he
was gesturing with his right towards the woods. Jones now noticed the rest of
them in among the trees, each one looking very much like the others with only
minor difference in their weapons and the various bits of equipment hanging
from their web gear.
said the trooper now tugging on his arm, “Sam, its Centurion Richards, we need
you to show us to the truck.”
sound of a familiar name Jones snapped back to reality and the mission at hand,
“Sorry sir, this way” he said, and with that Richards released him and he moved
off towards the road, as he passed the troopers fell into step behind him.
stood off on the side of the road in the only clearing they could find in the
immediate area, which put it some twenty yards down range for the rendezvous
point. With the sound of the tilt-rotor Grey was already lowering and securing
the trucks engine compartment hood, which he had opened to fain some from of
engine problem should someone have driven past. A reasonable precaution that
now seems unnecessary, for no one has else had appeared in either direction
since they had left the outskirts of Churchill city and started down this road.
around to the driver’s side door, Grey reached up and opened it and was now
stepping up onto the sideboard.
status,” said Jones, and by the sound of it he was on the move. “Standby,” replied Grey into his telecom
headset. Standing on the truck’s sideboard Grey looked carefully in both
directions before responding. “All’s clear, come on in.” he said, then
continued climbing into driver’s set, and closing the door.
push of the starter button the truck’s diesel electric engine came to life, a
series of dings indicated the truck was ready to roll and that he forgot to put
on his seatbelt.
into his shirt Grey withdrew a matte-black finished automatic pistol, he then
pushed the magazine release which dropped it into his left hand, after a quick
inspection he re-inserted the magazine and then pulled back the pistol’s slide,
charging the weapon. With a fluid motion he returned it to his shoulder holster
then lowered the driver side window were he placed his right arm on the frame
and tried to look relaxed.
now at the back of the truck, he waved at Grey after seeing him in the trucks
side-view mirror, Grey casually waved back while doing his best to keep an eye
on everything at once.
feel Jones stepping up onto the back of the truck, then the sound of the
loading doors latch and the door being opened. He then looked to the
passenger’s side-view mirror, and there they were, jogging alone the road
trying to stay as close to the trees as possible. “Damn there’s a lot of them”,
he said not realizing he was still on an open telecom.
Repeat last message,” said Jones, who also seems to have bin a bit distracted.
just get them loaded.” said Grey feeling a little foolish.
After a few
minutes of the truck bouncing about under the weigh of the troopers and the
sounds of things being moved about in the back, Grey heard the cargo door being
closed. Then the sight of Jones in the passenger side mirror approaching the
cab, with a click of the handle the door swung open and Jones climbed in.
go,” said Jones as he handed Grey a small blue piece of plastic, at once he
recognized it was a telecom service access card. Normally they contained an
encoded account number which allowed its user to access the systems
communication grid, that and provide information for service billing.
“I take it
they haven’t just prepared our account for the month?” said Grey sarcastically
as he slid the chip into the telecom unit he had holstered on his belt.
your telecom on talky mode channel one,” said Jones who was also putting in his
chip. “Sir can you hear me?” he asked into his headset.
switched in a moment later, “…hear you,” someone said in an odd harmonic tone,
this lead Grey to assume that the chip was also some from of encoded scrambler
“Get this thing moving,” commed the strange harmonic voice.
replied Jones, as he the shut the door and strapped; Grey was already moving
the truck back onto the road and then started to picking up speed.
a quick test of his now throbbing knee, Grey walked back to the driver’s cab
and climbed in; keeping his mind fixed on getting the truck started, he
resisted the urge to look over at the passenger side of the cabin, knowing damn
well that he didn't have to wait for Jones to climb in.
To be continued...