More CARGO 3120, by popular request. (For reals!)
If you’re not up to speed, please start from the beginning HERE
by Aaron Walker Sr.
In an underground bunker, several hundred meters outside the Ore Storage area, an eight man ISG Special Forces Unit known as Saber Team stood huddled around a small sensor station. The team leader: Lieutenant Donald Shepard, a stocky ebony skinned mountain of muscle, stared intently at the screen, when his second in command: First Sargent Alex Chavez, reported in.
“We have movement on the refined Krillium,” Alex said while watching the red dot flashing on his screen.
It took every bit of Donald’s rigorous training and discipline to suppress the cartwheels he was turning inside. For years he had been hunting the mastermind behind a number of high level terrorist activities within ISL space. Donald spent much of his career hunting criminals. He’d seen it all. But his current targets were true professionals. They had to be for their holo-files to come across his desk. Donald and his renowned Saber Team were tasked only with pursuing the most elusive offenders operating inside ISL space. It was only in the last year that he finally learned the identity of the team’s leader: Marcus La’Dek. All he had to go on was a holo-snap – a holographic snapshot — provided by a high level snitch he put the screws to a few months back. It wasn’t much, but he’d operated with less intel in the past, so he was determined to make it work
It had to be them, Donald thought. The modus operandi seemed to fit. His gut was telling him that this felt like Marcus, as he thought back to the other unsolved crimes that he now attributed to La’Dek and his team. But he wouldn’t be satisfied until he had visual confirmation. Who else would have the stones to hit a mining operation so close to his beloved Earth? Plus the little trick with the security interference was, in his mind, a dead giveaway. His peers thought he was crazy, but Donald was good at spotting patterns, even those as obscure as the electronic trickery being carried out on Mining Outpost Alpha. Anticipating this move, he compensated by planting a pressure sensitive silent alarm that was hardwired to the floor, then placed beneath one of the refined ore containers. A shielded subterranean wire ran from the device to the underground bunker, completely protected from the low level pulse that was bombarding surface level electronics. It was a crude system by thirty-second century standards, but it was effective.
Now Donald would see if the months he spent shaking down every high level outer core thug he could get his hands on, would finally pay some much needed dividends. Capturing Marcus would be his legacy… not to mention it would fast track a career to which he devoted his entire life; a career that was costing him both his marriage and a relationship with his son. He kept telling himself it was for the greater good, though his wife of seven years: Rachael, would argue otherwise. This guy better be worth it, Donald thought. He quickly shifted his wandering mind back to the task at hand.
Donald moved to the center of the bunker and called his team to stand in formation before him. They moved with purpose. There was nothing any of those men wouldn’t do for Donald, no order they wouldn’t follow, even if it cost them their very lives. Donald knew this, and vowed never to order them to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. So against the urging of his superiors, he preferred to fight alongside his men. He wasn’t content with sitting in the rear on a plush sofa, calling the shots as so many of his fellow officers did.
Donald reached in his pocket and pulled out a small black disk and placed it in the palm of his right hand. A holographic image hovered over the disk of Marcus on the right, and a fuzzier image of Teric on the left. Marcus was a clean shaven individual in remarkable shape, with a light brown complexion. The device’s artificial intelligence, estimated Marcus to be little over six feet, two inches tall, weighing in at an even two hundred pounds. Teric on the other hand, was barely recognizable. But he appeared to be a clean cut, bearded individual with silver and black hair; possibly in his early sixties. But there was virtually no data available on Teric, and the poor quality of the image did nothing to further identify the subject, as even the holo-emitter was unable to successfully estimate his stats.
Donald’s team stood silently at the position of attention – feet together, back straight, arms planted firmly to their sides, and eyes front. “At ease,” Donald called to his unit. In unison, the team moved their feet shoulder width apart, with their hands clasped behind their back. “Listen up, we need Marcus La’Dek alive,” he said pointing toward Marcus’ image on the right. “We get him; we get Orion’s Shield and their leader: Teric Winters,” Donald said in the most serious of tones. He wasn’t into drawn out speeches, filled with extravagant and lifeless words. They had a job to do, and everyone in the room was eager to get to work. “Let’s move,” he finished, and with that, the team broke formation grabbing their gear as they prepared to move in on the ore pilferers.
Inside the mining facility, the mission was going downhill in a hurry. The RAT had Marcus and his entire team pinned down in the administrative section. When Skye sent the RAT into maintenance mode it disabled the robot’s internal friend-or-foe mechanism, causing it to be unable to distinguish between friendly and unfriendly targets. This worked in their favor, as all remaining guards that converged on their current position had been cut down by friendly fire.
The entire team took cover behind the line of ore crates that Daren and his team dragged into the area. The ore was housed in large mark-seventeen storage units, manufactured by the human owned: Galaxy Techtronics. Made of proprietary rare materials, mark-seventeen’s were most noted for their near indestructible design, perfect for the industrial, and military sectors. Those crates were the only thing in the room still intact as the Gatling guns of the RAT had virtually destroyed everything else. Raven Squad was not having a good day. Marcus glared at Daren.
“You had to be greedy,” Marcus yelled to his second in command.
But Daren had no response. He was disgusted with himself for allowing his ambitions to blind him, causing him to make a rookie mistake by falling for such an obvious trap.
“Tell me you tagged that thing,” Marcus yelled to Max.
“Yes… and no,” Max shamefully replied.
“What do you mean: ‘Yes and No?’ Marcus asked sharply.
“What Professor Wesner over there neglected to mention, was that the friggin’ detonator doesn’t even work,” Daren responded, trying to deflect the heat he was catching from Marcus.
“Now hold on a minute, Honey,” Max fired back at Daren. “My stuff always works,” she said while looking down at her detonator, completely baffled as to why it wasn’t responding. “It’s just a little buggy, that’s all.”
“You’d better fix it in a hurry,” Marcus interjected. He was highly irritated. Everything that could possibly go wrong on a mission was happening all at once. It was like amateur hour, and at the worst possible time. He had to come up with something fast.
“Switch to acid rounds,” Marcus ordered the team. He hoped the corrosive projectiles would penetrate the thick metallic hide of the RAT. Against any other hard target, the acid rounds would have pierced small holes in the mark, and corroded it from the inside out… But not the RAT; its armor seemed to be treated with a coating that was resistant to the specialized rounds.
“Acid rounds ain’t workin’,” Skye yelled to Marcus.
“I KNOW, SKYE,” Marcus yelled in frustration. But before Skye could tell him to watch his tone, which he knew she’d say, even in the middle of a battle, Marcus turned to Max. “C’mon, Max,” Marcus pleaded. At that very moment, Max solved the problem with her detonator.
“Got it,” Max screamed while pressing the button on her device.
A spectacular blue flash occurred, followed by a loud screeching noise. A bluish white sphere surrounded the RAT causing it to rapidly vibrate. Then in a violent blast of sheer energy, the RAT came apart like a child deconstructing a toy. The force of the blast was so great, it took out the RAT and half the wall. The concussive force knocked the crates, and the team three feet back. It was a site to see. Though flat on her back with the rest of the team, Max laughed in between coughs, as she looked at the disaster caused by her creations. But she couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps one k-bomb would have done the trick.
“Sorry, kiddies,” Max said to the team. “Went a little overboard.”
The team picked themselves up from the ground and gazed upon the gaping hole in the wall.
“Um… ya think?” Skye replied.
“Grab the Crates,” Marcus yelled to the team.
Tony, Skye, Max, and Daren quickly took up positions near the crates. Tony activated the anti-grav rods, causing the crates to once again float above the ground. Tony was relieved the rods weren’t damaged during the battle. Marcus ordered his crew to exit the building via the newly created hole in the wall, thanks to Max’s K-Bombs.