We saw the separation grow between the immortal lab animal and the generations of its mortal counterparts. It became shunned, excluded. It is difficult to tell if it was because of its own actions or was a culturally imposed exile. But the gap grew.
The chaplain seemed pained when I asked him if reaching for Godhood might have the unexpected result of our abandonment of humanity itself. He quietly advised me to keep such terms and thoughts out of the ‘official’ reports.
It’s the part they never show in the holos. The between mission servicing and cleaning and waiting. Why would they show that? It’s bloody boring and absolutely necessary. Most commanders tried to make sure downtime was either very full or the men started to turn on each other and that was NEVER a good thing. So he was stripping down one of the Jax and making sure each part was clean, greased, and reaqdy to go. When you called for this baby you did not want a misfire because . . .
“Mount up, we got a briefing in 10.” His implant chimed on the ‘never off, never jammed’ company channel. The Jax went from a small and intricate collection of pieces to a fully functional weapon in two, leaving him 8 minutes to gripe about waiting along with the rest of his squad.
“No, I don’t know nuthin either . . . but a briefing before we move to a new site? Either the boss is making better connections or something hinky is going on, here.”
They assembled in the common area and he knew one of the faces, an agent who had sent them on some odd missions now and again. All of them had paid well but none of them had been easy or without casualties. There was an obvious podder standing off to one side with his head canted and a fool grin on his head as though he thought this was some giant game for his amusement. One of the ‘meats’ muttered something low while looking in his direction but a low growl and a flick of the fingers silenced that. The podder probably didn’t even notice, though he had been looking right at them. Another flick said “Cool, professional . . meat”
From a distance the unit was probably unnerving. They seldom spoke when there were people about and their hands and fingers flicked like they were brushing dust off of themselves. They practiced until it was second nature and the commander allowed it because it HAD to become second nature to be of any use.
Walkins, the CO, glanced across the unit and nodded. “All here.” He said to the agent as his hands told the unit to listen close and ask the questions that needed to be asked.
The agent, a mousey little woman with a pinched face and an expression that seemed to convey a great disgust with every other sentient in the room glanced up from her comm. “On time? Good, good. I have a contract for your ‘team’.” She actually made little hooked finger motions to relay the fact that she thought they were nothing of the kind. That those motions meant something else to the company was lost on her but several of the unit had to cough or hide their faces for a minute. ^I don’t think I want her on top, boss^ Bozo flicked up to Walkins who managed to keep a straight face.
“A facility in the system has been attacked by a mercenary unit and we want to mount a rescue.” She continued, oblivious of the side jokes now being made at her expense.
“Recapture the facility? How dug in are they?” Books asked after getting the go ahead from Walkins.
The podder straightened up. “No. Rescue only. Most of the facility managed to evacuate but a scientific team is still down there. I want them back.”
The agent pursed her lips at the interruptions. “The Captain, here, is the employer. He insisted on attending this meeting.”
Books turned to the podder. “Rescue? What about collateral damage, we gonna be billed for breakage?”
Again the lazy smile crossed the lips of the pilot and his eyes half closed. “No, I tink the facility is due to be shut down now. I wants the folks out, after that I don’t care if it be there in one piece or a tousand.”
“You allowed to make that call?” Books was in charge of making sure terms were very clear going in. He knew that this meeting was being recorded by both sides so what was said could be proven later.
“I owns the facility. I owes those people. Alls I wants is dem out . . . you do whatcha have to do ta get that done. You tells me what ya needs for tools and we see what we can do. If I could hire ten of your units I would but I tink this not be someting we wants escalated too much.”
Arrow chimed in. “Never hurts to bring overwhelming force to a battle . . . why not now?”
The podder touched a control and brought up the system on a briefing holo. Another touch swooped the view in to a single planet. “The attackers are a new unit. ‘Hammer of Light’ dey call themselves.”
All eyes went to Books who shook his head.
“Ting is . . . I did some checking. Just as this unti was formed the ‘Gods Light’ company of the Amarr ground forces was put on extended leave. Dat ship right there.” An Apocalypse glowed golden for a moment. “It be theirs. I tink if we kick in too much then it may get very nasty very fast.”
Arrows hands moved as he looked up and to the right. “So you are saying this is an Elite Amarr force, pretending to be merc like us? If we make it a war . . . they will stop pretending and . . . ” ^This be a bad one boss, Gods Light are not ‘dress up soldiers’^
“And den it be a war. Yuppers.” The podder nodded. “I hired you because o two tings, you good and you close. Dat and we share a common friend.” He rolled his eyes as he swept a hand at the agent who stood quietly to one side.
“Timeline?” Walkins asked, a slow nod acknowledging Arrows comment.
“The base be locked tight . . . security interlocks make it damn hard to open from the inside and harder still from the outside. It was made to contain some big-ass boom so the Amarrans ain’t in yet. I want to beat them by getting the folks out a side door. Juss one little problem wit dat . . . it be a biolock.”
Breaker growled. “No factory is made to take a solid effort to open it. I could be in it in five minutes. I figure the Amarrans are in already and you have nobody left to rescue.”
The pilot tapped the controls and a swift zoom in on the planet showed the facility. It was oddly designed and specifications for it scrolled across the top of the screen. The blasting team leaned forward and whistled. “OK” Breaker admitted. “THAT one may take more than your average team brings to a party. Why is it . . . Oh Crap!” His blunt fingers were not as fluent as the others but the ^hell no^ was not hard to read.
“The facility was an industrial explosives factory. The walls and structure were designed to contain and sustain extreme conditions as a result.” The pilot smiled and tapped the controls. “Evac procedures were preset and most of the factory cleared out faster than the Amarrans were ready for. except for the science team. They were not as well trained and did not recognize the evac signal. Now the jammers are in place so we cannot talk them out and we have to go down to fetch them.”
“Bio keys are tough to break . . . especially in a lockdown site like this.” Breaker was still against it.
“We have a key. There are a few people who are keyed to be able to open the facility. The foreman, the head of security, and the owner.”
“So, we taking the security guy?”
“No, you are takin me. I am not sending any of my people back down there. I want them all out, not more trapped.”
^This gets worse and worse^ Books looked up to Walkins and shook his head. ^I agree with Breaker, hells no^
Walkins looked to Arrow, who agreed wit the assessment. ^Looks bad all round, boss.^
Walkins turned to the agent and said in a clear voice. “No, thank you. We respectfully decline.”
This is the first part of a side story. . . once connecting Eve and Dust, for me.
Instead of Lessons I have Questions
Why . . .why will people who are not immortal risk their asses for us, what will it take to convince them? If they have decent intel one side is always gonna know they are up against more than they should be able to handle.
What . . . what support will a pilot with connections be able to provide? How will we do so? Is the price of small arm,s and militayr vehicles going to become hot commodities, suddenly?
Who . . . In eve we become known entities, mainly due to our immortality. Will there be Dusties who gain a reputation to match, the ones you will pay top ISK and AURUM to hire?
Have you commented on the post before this one? Your chance to win a prize is ticking away, slowly
fly it like you won it