"All right, here's the plan, groupies." The woman's hand snapped to the screen, pointing with a long viboblade to the problem area. "The bastards are being held here- Bradoorn base. Previously, rather. Abandoned for years, it's nothin' but shit and old tech now, so expect the doors that you see in viddies- no hatches. If any of 'em are locked, a kickass'll open it.
"Layout." The screen flickered and a blueprint came up. She traced the areas with the viboblade and gestures as she talked. "The base was made by guerillas, and so it's probably the most unorthodox and shitty hole of hell ya'll ever see. It's simple: the northern wing's a storage facility for ammo and old tech bombs, the west's training facilities, the east is underground tech support that's all shitted out by now, and the south's empty facilities to hold old tech air crafts that were all ticked a few centuries ago."
The blade snapped to the northern part. "Be careful not to set off any explosives here. The bombs are mostly defective, but there's no way for us to tell if they're all that way. If one of 'em hits the sky, we go with it.
"The civies are all held in the central bunker." The sharp point went to the center, where photographs, flashing across the screen, showed heavy security. "By 0300, all you groupies are gonna be ready for takeoff at gate 61A, outfitted in D-period gear. We aren't shittin' round here, groupies. We'll drop six keters south outside Bradoorn at exactly 0500, then make our way in using the SBs." She glanced to the corner. "Blue-6, you'll be dropped six minutes after our drop on the north side. At six keters out, make it 'bout three V-12s on low power, shooting for the north wing, trying to set off the old tech pieces of crap. Then set some fires up their ass on the west. Have them in hell by 0845, then rendezvous with the rest of the groupies at point A by 0848." The map flickered and a red dot appeared at the south-central part of the base, inside the structure of the old facilities.
There was a slight snort from elsewhere in the group. "Sure, she gets- "
"Sergeant!" the woman snarled, burning eyes snapping to the large man. "If you have any objections, you can strip that rank tab off and leave the op, is that clear?"
"Yessir," he muttered.
"Good." She returned to her briefing. "At 0900 hours, we'll infiltrate into the central area which will hopefully be mostly depopulated by then, and deactivate their anti-qaud shield systems. Once it's down, the carriers outside will sweep through and kick some serious ass. We need to have the roof blown off by ten minutes after deactivating the shield systems, and the civies rounded up and ready for departure on a L-24 carrier. Any questions?"
"What if we don't have all the hostages there by ten minutes past?" one of them called out.
"Then we load who we can onto the carrier, and the rest go down with the rebels when we blow 'em to the sky," she said in an unemotional voice. Her eyes scanned the team. "That's it? Good. From now on, this will be called Operation Bradoorn." The screen shut off, and the main lights flickered on.
"Three hundred lives are depending on you, groupies. Don't fail them."
Blue-6 slipped the thin, wire-threaded catsuit on over her skin, carefully sealing it up her side. Shivers ran up her back at the cold material, but she rubbed them away. Carefully making sure that her suit was fully sealed -a hole would be fatal on the battlefield- she finally turned towards the large suit waiting for her.
She resisted the urge to groan with disappointment as she saw the machinery they had attached for the operation. "Do I really need the third- class pulse cannon?" she protested to one of the technicians who was waiting for her to get in so that he could help her put it on.
Technician Harcove raised an eyebrow. "Do you?" he replied.
She sighed silently and slipped her legs into the padded casings. After adjusting her feet, she stood straight and put her arms out. Harcove pushed the two halves of the torso-piece together, and the personalized padding formed around her body. With a click and a hiss of air, the armor fastened itself together around her torso, and Harcove pushed the hip-joint pieces into place. They went air-tight with a hiss. The shoulder pieces, attaching to the torso armor, connected it to the appendage armor: a single piece of armor already fastened together that covered the hands and arms. She wiggled her fingers in the metal gloves after he had sealed the shoulders, rolling her joints to get the armor all in its proper place. Lastly, she fitted the long helmet over her head, sealing it tightly to the neck armor. The visor, at first, gave her nothing but blackness until it recognized her brain wave patterns and okayed her for use of the armor. Vision returned.
"Your utility vest is there," Harcove said, pointing to the nest of weaponry. He couldn't lift it- only she could. The armor not only protected her, but it magnified the abilities of her muscles, based on her commands sent to the armor's computer via her directed thoughts sent to the headset in her helmet.
She nodded, picking up the large vest. It was heavy even for her enhanced strength. Six second-class pulse rifles attached to the back, along with a third-class pulse cannon slung diagonally across the rifles. At least nine B12 mines -enough to blow that entire base to the moon twice over- with their double-triggers were safely latched onto the front. Luckily for her, they were specifically designed for the suit. Only a mental command sent through the armor's computer system could activate those suckers.
Besides that, the usual four first-class pulse revolvers were ready to go down the holsters along the leg armor, together with two vibroblades and an emergency health pack in case someone else was injured.
With a heave, she pulled the vest over the armor, sealing it tight. Pausing, she took a few deep breaths. The front of the suit contracted slightly with the extra pounds.
"Too heavy for ya?" Harcove said with a smile.
"Not a chance," she scoffed mockingly, shifting her shoulders. "It won't slow me down." She flipped the visor up with a thought. "I better get going. Thanks Harcove," she said, turning to the door. Every step she made echoed through the alloy floor with a dull clunk. The slower she walked, the louder she was. She left the room and made her way down the corridor, plucking a pulse revolver from her hip and checking its charge out of old habit. Full. Excellent.
She put the revolver back in its holster and quickened her pace. She only had six minutes to get to the Gate.
She arrived just in time. The team was already assembled, wearing their smaller body armor. Their armor could take heavy pulse fire and come out with a few scratches. Blue's could go through a nuclear war and come out smelling like roses.
Lieutenant Arin nodded sharply as she saw Blue, then jutted her chin at the hoversled in front of her. "You'll need that," she commented.
"Ah, I was going to ask you for one of those," Blue said appreciatively. Without effort, she picked it up by its front handle and slung it over one shoulder, straightening. The chest of the armor tightened more with the weight.
Arin glanced at her watch, then motioned for them to load the carrier. "Get on, groupies."
Blue got on first since she would be departing last, and she scowled as she edged past the seats with difficulty. Bulky armor was not advantageous in tight quarters. She slung the hoversled off her shoulder to sit easier and held it in front of her as she took her seat. She had to lean forward far so as not to bump the pulse cannon against the inside of the small carrier.
Sergeant Lakos sat next to her, and the man flipped up his visor. "You look absolutely stunning this morning," he commented with a grin.
"Aw, shut up," she said, returning the grin. "It makes me look fat and you know it."
He laughed. Lakos was a young, brilliant officer who obviously was climbing fast in the ranks of the Federation. Blue wistfully envied him, but not too much. He would soon have to start dealing with the politics of the Federation, and while some people were made for it, Blue was not. She was fine right here in the Shadow Unit, thank you very much.
"There's nothing to laugh about," Sergeant Bosan snarled. Blue shot him a glare. Out of all the members of her team, Bosan was the only one she couldn't stand. For some reason, he had been envious of her since she had joined the team. Perhaps because she got the dangerous jobs of most of the operations. Or maybe because of her age. Her age put most people off anyway- she was used to that. At least she was older than Lakos by a few months.
The carrier cleared the gate and burst across the sky. Blue closed her black visor, and dimmed the light to minimal, leaving her face in darkness. The sounds clarified as her helmet's sensory systems turned on, and she could hear every breath of her comrades. She closed her eyes, breathing deeply against the force of the armor pressing against her chest. Her grip on the sled's handle tightened convulsively as adrenaline shivered through her veins. Some soldiers could use the few hours they had to sleep, but she had never been able to sleep right before a mission.
Three hundred civilians. Anger flashed through her mind. How could guerilla soldiers do this? Sure, the rebels all might be ruthless, soulless bastards, but... three hundred? From what she had heard previous to the briefing, the guerillas had invaded a small town and frog-marched the inhabitants to the base. They had demanded that the Federation make the illegal colonies into a separate country, or they'd mow down the civies on public television.
Not that the Federation would allow anyone out of their control, even if three hundred died...
She stopped that train of thought. Thoughts like that were what got sensible people shipped out to space and its delinquents.
To occupy her hands, she flipped her visor back on and began the routine of checking her weapons. She spent extra attention to the pulse cannon- she wouldn't want that monster backfiring. While it wouldn't get through the armor, it could certainly crack a rib of hers if it blew up in her face.
She checked all of them once, then twice. By the time she had run through everything twice -including the hoversled-, they had arrived at the first drop point. Arin gave her a salute of luck as they turned to get on their SBs- Stealth Bods. Fashioned like small gliders, they were soundless drifting aircrafts that were the size of a human. They stretched themselves out on them, then launched out of the carrier with six blasts. Her team launched out and disappeared from view.
Blue stood and leaned towards the pilot. "The SBs won't carry me, so fly low. I'm gonna drop."
"You sure?" he said doubtfully?
She smiled. "Yeah, I'm sure."
The pilot circled the base at six keters- enough distance to ensure the base didn't see them flying overhead. Coming to the north side, he dipped low.
Blue stood at the edge, the air whipping outside of her body armor. She slung the hoversled across her back to make sure it didn't fly away, and with a woop that went no farther than her helm, she leapt out.
The heady rush of freefall filled her for a moment as she sent the mental command to her leg armor to increase the shock absorbers to their maximum power. Three hundred feet and she landed with a boom, sinking a foot into the soft earth. It jarred her body, but the shock absorbers had done their job well. She slid to the ground and belly-crawled through the underbrush of the forest. She shook cramps from her legs that had come from the landing, then settled behind a rock to take count of her surroundings.
Her visor slid into night vision, and everything suddenly became bright, as if it were midday. She blinked, letting her eyes adjust to the sudden difference, then flipped her visor to screen mode. On top of the vision of her surroundings, small boxes popped up on the inside of her visor, giving her visuals of her exact location, the surrounding terrain, and the remaining power of her suit scrolling endlessly on one side. She absorbed the information and snapped it out of screen mode.
0510. She had three hours and fifty minutes to raise hell.
She smirked. Hell? She had enough hell to make the Devil himself jealous.
The soldier swallowed nervously in the face of the officer's anger. "There's been an explosion to the north of the base, supposedly by a B12 mine."
The man snarled, then bit off his curses. "A B12 mine? It's a distraction! They'll be coming in from a different direction."
"From the south, sir?"
He thought for a moment, scowling. "That seems too obvious. Probably the west, since there's nothing to the east." A deafening boom shook dust from the ceiling.
The door burst open as a panting soldier stumbled through. "Sir! They're trying to blow up the bombs in the north facilities! The explosions keep getting closer!"
"Damn those Federation monsters," he growled. "They don't even care about our hostages! Dogs, all of them. All right. Mobilize the men and cover the north and west. Get those old tech pieces of shit that still work underground, do you hear me? Stuff 'em in the east wing."
The two soldiers came to attention, then ran off. The guerrilla snarled under his breath.
Blue thoughtfully fingered another B12 mine, then decided against it. No... it wasn't worth the waste. She already threw stones at the beehive.
A volley of explosives launched at her blindly. She ignored them as they fell around her, momentarily deafening the helm's hearing systems. Pulling the third-class pulse cannon from her back, she braced her feet and aimed carefully through the crosshairs.
The shock sent her back, but the tiny sun shot forward at a phenomenal speed, obliterating everything in its path. It crashed into the walls of the north wing, and one of the bombs was set off. The visor dimmed the glare as the northern wing of the base shot to the heavens in a column of fiery death.
She slung the cannon back over her back, and got on her hoversled. Staying low, she put it on high and darted between the trees. Soon enough, larger explosives than just pulse grenades would be fired. She preferred not to be in the path.
He stumbled as the floor shook and his hands went to his ears as the sound of the explosion rang in his head. That was no B12 mine, he was sure. That was from a weapon that could only be carried on a machine, most likely a V-12. He swore colorfully, breaking out into a run. These Feds weren't taking any chances!
The command room was in chaos. Damage and casualty reports streamed in, and the explosion had messed with the computers. "Status report!" he called as he entered the room.
One of the soldiers stood at attention. "The north wing on the surface level is destroyed, though the underground part is still partially intact. It was only one of the smaller bombs."
"Where did the shot come from?"
"The north, sir. It was from a high-class pulse cannon."
"Obviously," he snapped. So he had been wrong. The attack really was from the north. "Is the shield still up around the central area?"
"Good," he said with relief. That was the one thing that had worried him most. "Let's see about frying us some Federation chickens, eh?"
Blue checked the time as her legs pumped beneath her. She had lost the hoversled to a malfunction, and was left to running. Ah well. At least she didn't have to lug the bloody thing around.
The visor's clock signalled 0832. She didn't have much time before she had to meet the rest of the team. Her arms swung faster and her legs increased their pace. Now was not the time to slow down!
Sweat was soaked away by the helmet's padding, and her breath rasped in her ears. 0840. Five minutes to rendezvous...
She bent low as she crossed the eastern side of the base, cutting it closer to the base than she should have in order to get there in time. But for once, luck was with her- the guerillas were on the north side, either trying to put out the fire, or trying to blaze their invisible enemies with fire.
She slipped into the empty south complex of buildings, pulling a pulse revolver from one of her thigh holsters just in case she ran into anyone. No one. It was deserted. Not even a sentry. Idiots.
Blue's ear tingled as she caught the soundless signal coming from her fellow comrades. She followed the signal to a pile of rubble. Her signal tickled out as she slid from the shadows and next to Arin.
Arin gave her a nod of approval, then took the lead as they ghosted forward into the central area. Blue was last, hefting one of her rifles.
Alarms snarled through the corridors, and they moved quickly, the chaos and darkness and flashing red lights covering them. The few soldiers they met were silenced before they even saw the Shadow Unit team.
Arin stopped as they came to the end of a corridor, and her hand flashed out in a series of commands. Blue took front, since she was the most heavily armored, and she burst through the door, moving forward quickly as her team fanned out behind her.
Six quick bursts of light among the darkness, and the technicians fell dead. Arin came forward, carefully examining the machinery to make sure it was the right one. She gave a nod to Blue, and said quietly; "Fill 'er up."
Blue grinned wolfishly as the rest of the team filed out. Hefting another rifle from her back, she braced herself then filled the shield's systems with glowing pulse, both arms shaking from the recoil of each gun. The light of the pulse was dimmed by the hasty visor, but it lit her up like flashes of sunlight.
She only stopped when the pulse was empty on both guns. Shoving new cartridges of pulse in them, she dropped the empty ones clattering to the floor. Slapping them across her back once more, she left the mutilated room with her third rifle in hand and a look of satisfaction on her face.
Now then. Ten minutes to get the civilians and to use the last of her mines to blow the roof off.
"Sir, the shield is down!"
His eyes widened. "What?! How?!"
"Someone shot up the control room! There's no way to salvage it!" the man said, despair in his voice.
The guerilla swore again, but his voice was touched with fear. Of course! The Federation would use one of their Shadow Units for a job like this. "Secure the hostages! Quick!"
Blue slid behind a large crate, looking out from between two of them. It seemed that the central area -a domed, large room- had been their headquarters. Crates of supplies and at least two hundred soldiers surrounded the defenseless civilians.
She glanced to Arin, who gave them quick directions using her hands. Blue was to take care of the ceiling, while the others took care of the soldiers. Lakos would seal off all of the doors leading into the central area to prevent the civilians from scattering, and to prevent more soldiers from coming in.
Blue nodded sharply, and, as the team broke out into fire, she dashed forward, straight for the group of civilians, as she tore the cannon from her back. No amount of soldiers could keep back such a crowd of terrified people. The surged back away from her, scattering to the walls. Good. Just what she wanted.
Aiming the cannon straight up, she adjusted the power of the cannon with a flick of a switch, and fired. The small sun, upon impact with the ceiling, burst with a force, blowing the ceiling and even some of the wall outwards, and scattering everyone to their feet. Blue, nearest to the blast, was crushed to the ground, hitting the alloy floor hard.
A huge, deafening sound came from the sky, and it wasn't the cannon. Bright lights shown down into the room, making people wince and shy away. Blue scowled as she saw that the carrier wouldn't be able to fit in the central room, and turned the cannon on part of the wall. With the power lowered, it merely crushed away the wall. The carrier landed down, the hatch opening.
"Will all civilians please board the carrier. This is the Federation Salvation Unit. Will all civilians please board the carrier."
Blue slammed the cannon back over her shoulder, as her team moved forward to make sure all of the civies got on board. Her com unit in her helmet crackled with Arin's voice.
"Go catch their commanding officer," the Lieutenant ordered.
"Yessir," Blue said, obediently turning. At the door, she shattered it to pieces with a crushing fist, and found soldiers beyond. She smiled as her monstrous form loomed over them. They took one look at her, then turned and fled.
Blue shrugged to herself, then ran after them. Most likely, the majority of them would lead her straight to the central control room. Fear made people stupid. She skulked in the shadows after them, and lingered just beyond the door of the room, listening.
"S-Sir there's a m-m-monster in the corridor!" one of the soldiers babbled.
"What the hell are you talking about?" a voice demanded. Ah. That was the one she wanted.
Blue stepped through the doorway. "I think he's talking about me," she purred through the microphone of her helmet. Her rifle rose to aim straight at his chest.
The man's eyes widened, his jaw dropped, and his face paled. Why did the sight of her in her armor always do that to people, she wondered.
"You're now under my custody, rebel scum," she growled, stepping forward. "Surrender and throw down your weapon before I fill your traitor bones with pulse."
His eyes narrowed, though he shook with fear. "Never!" he growled, then shoved the barrel of his gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
Blue swore colorfully as his valuable brains splattered across the control deck. Without hesitation, she grabbed up the nearest man, yanked his weapon from his holster, and tossed it to the ground. "Idiots," she growled, snapping cuffs around his wrists. She picked up the corpse, then dragged it and the gibbering guerilla down the corridor and back to the central room.
"Here's an idiot for you," she called to Arin. "And here's the man in charge. Unfortunately, if you want to pick his brains, you'll have to go to the control room."
The Lieutenant frowned. "That was sloppy of you."
"First bad luck of the night, all right? Gimme a break." She looked up as the carrier, full of civies, lifted off. Dozens of smaller crafts loaded with Federation soldiers touched down to replace it. "I suppose our work here is done."
"Indeed." Arin knocked the guerilla unconscious with a hard blow. "Not as loud this way," she commented acidly. "All right, I'll take care of these guys. You and the rest of the team are ordered to have a two-day leave. Now get your asses out of here."
Blue-6 grinned at the good news, then snapped to attention. "If you say so, Lieutenant!"