by Isegrim - 7th Aug 1999
Tors finishes clipping the long railgun to the second hardpoint of his commander’s suit, stepping back to make sure everything’s in place and that all system readouts are in the green. Satisfied, he turns to report to Grimar, but instead bumps into soft fur, finding himself face-to-face with a pointed muzzle, russet pelt offset by coal-black ears....and a pair of piercing violet eyes.
'Oh, ehh, hi Derah...s-sorry, I didn’t notice you...'
'You didn’t wha...?!' The canine couldn’t have said anything worse if he had tried. Her pride deeply wounded (a male NOT noticing her?!) Derah’s neutral expression quickly shifts to one of indignation, voice ringing out stridently, echoeing off the walls of the cargo hold. 'Like bloody hell you didn’t! I bet you were just biding your time, waiting for the right moment to just ‘accidentally’ rub up against me, huh? Get your paws off of me! Damned dog!'
Backing up hastily, Tors makes a tactical error and glances down at his paws, which are of course hanging innocently by his side, and doesn’t see the violent shove in the chest which sends him sprawling back against the row of opaque slabs behind him. The weapons attached to the meks have enough sharp angles and monomolecular cutting-edges to cause serious damage...but he’s lucky today.
'Ungh!!' *CRASH!* The black-and-white canine slumps to the deck, dazed by the impact. Just as he’s trying to get up, shaking his head to clear his mind, he feels a paw on his shoulder. Looking up, two lupines gaze back down at him, one in concern, the other in mild irritation. 'Tors, are you alright?', he hears Shanni’s melodious voice ask softly..
'Nnh, ahh, I g-guess so...ow.'
Grimar, on the other hand, is less than pleased and growls through clenched teeth 'Tors, what the hell happened? Can’t you stay out of trouble for a mere twenty minutes?' Sighing in exasperation, the wolf reaches down and baps his team-mate on the nose, the gesture meant to be friendly. 'Get up, and go get Khantur, we’re all done.' Having said all he’s prepared to say on the matter, Grimar straightens up and stalks off, making a mental note to keep an eye on Derah and whip her tail back into line if necessary. The team didn’t need this kind of crap, she was really beginning to get to him.
Left alone with Shanni, Tors slowly braces himself and gets up, smiling a shy thanks at the comely wolf and turning to check the mek readouts, not wanting to risk a malfunction caused by his fall. Turning back, he smiles again and actually meets Shanni’s eyes, noticing her concern and silently wondering why she hasn’t moved off yet...
'....thanks, Shan....I have to go, ah...thanks.'
As Tors takes his first step towards the exit hatch, the whole cargo hold seems to shift away from him and an immense force slams into his back, his world going pitch-dark as he feels his consciousness reeling towards oblivion.
'Arrgghh...what the hell...?!' Flashing lights and dull thuds fill the cargo hold, pelting his senses with a confusing array of sights and sounds.
Still groaning at the pain of impact, Grimar picks himself up off the deck and looks around, steadying himself against the bulkhead, the same one that felt so damn hard when he hit it... 'Damn, damn, damn! Where is the rest of the team?' He tries shaking his head to get rid of the dizziness, but to no avail, and he belatedly realizes that it’s not his brain, but the SHIP that’s spinning! Raising his voice above the noise of tortured steel and warping bulkheads he bellows the only possible command he can think of.
'SUIT UP!!! Prepare for emergency evac, SUIT UP!'
Propelling himself from the bulkhead he makes his way towards the stored meks, stumbling and grabbing Derah on the way, practically throwing the groggy fox towards the suits.
'Hurry up! Get your butt suited up! NOW!'
Skidding to a halt next to the rack of meks, the gray wolf briefly glances down at the inert forms of Tors and Shanni, noticing the blood pooling beneath them, but not able to do much about it at the moment. First priority is getting into his suit. 'Oh hell, this is NOT good......' Taking a deep breath and bracing himself against a railgun, he places his right paw flat against the opaque slab that bears his name and watches, no, FEELS the nanites of the mek make contact with his own, swiftly starting to flow up his arm. Shifting his position, he leans into the mek, the composite cocoon quickly enveloping him. Heads-up displays flash into life before his eyes, sending all-green readings, then flicker out as the outside image stabilizes.
'INTEGRATION COMPLETE' winks on in his lower right-hand display, and he sighs in relief. So far so good.
Bending down in a smooth motion, dull black paws pick up the nude fox and unceremoniously press her against her own suit, the encased figure watching as the automatic integration sequence kicks in. Twitching on his comm channel, Grimar barks a short order 'DERAH! Get your ass in gear and check on Tors and Shanni! Get them into their suits, stat!' and lets her go, turning to search for their illustrious commander.
Grimar stops dead in his tracks 'Well speak of the devil...' The wolf quickly shifts to the side as his superior shoves past with a snarled 'Out of my way!'.
Shrugging and turning back to the two unconscious scouts, Grim utters a soft growl and activates his comm 'Derah, you finish getting Tors suited up, I’ll take Shanni.' As he gently lifts the tawny wolf into his arms and gazes down at her sleek pelt and kind features, he can’t help but hope with all his heart that she’s all right... Integration is swift and her bio-readings indicate only a light concussion, so he sends two short commands to her mek, limiting his treatment to a mild cortico-stimulant and a jolt of electricity from her energy module...
Grinning inside his suit, he shuts off her yelp of pain and the steady stream of curses that follow, twitching to another channel. 'Derah, report on Tors’ condition.' The vulpine’s voice is shaky, but her analysis seems sound 'He’ll make it Grim, looks like he got cut up by a mono-sword, but nothing life-threatening. His nanites are keeping the major veins closed, he’ll have a real macho scar to boast about.'
'Should be conscious in a min....eep!' Derah’s voice is cut off as the ship lurches violently, the artificial gravity fluctuating wildly and finally failing, sending crates and other debris flying in all directions. 'HOLD ON! Sh$#!'
Commander R’Tan’s harsh voice breaks in on an override channel 'Grim! Shanni! Get the demolition gear, I want at least fifty feet of shape-tape in a circular pattern around that airlock! GO! Derah, check our position on the inertial, I need to know where the hell we are, and if we can get to VDS-1!'
Boosting up into the cargo hold, Khantur R’Tan surveys the mess. His squad is moving efficiently, Derah staying close to Tors while she consults the inertial tracker and her comm equipment, the other two scouts already applying the blasting charge to the outer bulkhead 'We’re blowing this place in three minutes ladies, get moving! Derah, where’s that report?!'
'We’re just beyond the Vendorian ionosphere sir, entering the atmosphere...Comm is down, the planet is between us and VDS-1!'
Cursing softly, the commander considers his options and comes to a swift decision. 'Okay, muzzles up, this is the plan! We have no idea what hit the transport, so we’ll assume an attack... After we blow the bulkhead, we go inert and drop to the planet. Use your wing config if necessary, but stay in sight of eachother! Once on the ground, we lie low and wait for VDS-1 to come within comm range. Is that clear?'
Four ‘yessirs’ sound in his earphones. 'Sir, we could dispatch a drone, we might be jammed on the surface....' One second to consider pros and cons. 'Good thinking Derah, do it. Give only basic info, and program the drone to self-destruct if approached by any craft not broadcasting the correct IFF signal.'
Another lurch as the ship disintegrates further, accentuating the list and starting a slow tumbling motion. 'Okay, this is it! Stand back and blast, on my mark......two, one, MARK!'
The shockwave from the blast is violent, but not even sufficient to rock the four meks. Inside the ring of shape-tape, the bulkhead warps and shudders, steel flying in glittering arcs away from the explosion, some parts bouncing off the scouts. With a wrenching screech, the air pressure pops the neatly cut bulkhead out into space, spinning it away into darkness.
'GO!' As one, the four meks engage thrusters and skim out of the cargo bay, along with crates, maintenance modules and other flying debris. Twenty feet out from the transport, thrusters flare once more and aim the black shapes towards the planet’s surface.
Looking back, Grim mutters softly 'So long, GC Dulwich, may I never have such a bumpy ride again...'