Moving away from the StelCo security type, we retrieved our rucks and cases and followed the signs for the Lancer ramp. Arriving we noticed two obvious security types who appeared to be about ten years younger than us. I muttered sotto voice “Fresh meat spotter”. I got a like reply of “gear up shooter”.
We moved to one side, sat down the rucks and proceeded to open them. Removing the useful but, decoy electronics, we removed our old service field jackets and put them on. We had just replaced the gear and strapped up the flaps when the UNWG flunky faced off with the blonde male StelCo type. When the flunky turned and ran off we reacted as one.
Each of us grabbed the latch on either side of case one. Flipping open the case we started grabbing. First the AMT’s into the sleeve holsters; mine on the right, Marianas on the left and extra mags for all in the ready pouches. Then my Colts in the Cross draw and Shoulder rigs, Mariana likewise with her Randall’s. Grabbing the rucks and cases, the long one awkward as usual; I busted across the line and we placed them on either side of the hatch.
Mariana faced the female StelCo type and said “Mariana Stuart, get these people on board and give us 15 seconds notice before you close the hatch”.
As I stood and turned two UNWG goons approach the ramp as if to block the hatch. I stood and flipped my hand in the peculiar motion that put the AMT in my hand and gave him 185 grains right between the eyes. From the other side of the line I heard the rolling boom of a hammer and turned to see the other goon flying back missing most of his chest. I said “wasting ammo spotter”. The reply was as expected “Bite me shooter”.
Pulling the L20 fusion cord from the side pouch of the field jacket I striped both nearer entry doors. Thumbing out the det switch, I popped position one and two fusing the doors shut. Marina and I then reshucked the AMT’s and pulled the cross draw .45s. We then concentrated on the remaining two doors where the last of the colonists had just entered.
As the last of the good guys were starting up the ramp, two goons entered each of the doors. I quickly slapped the two at the left door with two fast head shots. From the other side of the corridor I heard the rolling boom of two hammers. Grinning I said “wasting ammo spotter”. The reply “guesses why I am the spotter, shooter. And by the way, bite me”
The next thing we heard was “15 seconds”. Holstering on the run, we grabbed the rucks and cases as we dived through the hatch, passing a guy closing down a tele-operator rig. I bumped him on the way back and said “Andy Stuart, sorry about that”. He just grinned and said “Jack, nice to see a couple of pros” Turning to Mariana I said “find the bar”. She grinned and said “Foot rail, right”? “You named that tune in one note”
We turned towards the corridor and the other individual headed towards the boat bays. Following the signs we found the bar and “glory be” there was an old fashioned foot rail. Heading for the corner support we quickly dropped the rucks and wrapped the built in inertial reels to the upright. Jerking out the cargo straps, we were just finishing securing the cases when the Pilot made a nice little speech which ended with an attitude I liked.
I moved past an old guy who really looked out of place and found a spot were a ships support beam was exposed. Pulling the inertial reel hook from the Field Jacket I strapped to it then, turned and sat with my back against the beam so I could feel the vibrations.
Looking at the guy beside of me “Andy Stuart, wild ride so far huh”? “Tim and adventure don’t seem so cool anymore.”
Just then I felt the deep rolling vibration in the frame and looked at Mariana strapped the end of the bar rail.
“Sweetheart the pilot is kicking this thing in the rear end. It feels more like a pursuit cruiser than a cruise ship.”
The old Guy asked “you seem familiar with combat ships”.
“I know it just from riding on them, never operated one.”
“Who gets to ride on a High Guard ship that is not High Guard?”
“People who need a ride” I replied.
“Just riding along?”
“Something like that.”
The Pilots warning interrupted us at that awkward moment; I looked at Mariana and said “toss me the spare harness.” She reached back to her ruck and pulled the spare body harness out of the side pocket and tossed it to me.
Looking at the old man, “let’s get you in to this in case it gets rough”. As I was strapping in the Old Man, I looked at Tim and said “Sorry, We only have the one spare. We sort of left in a hurry”.
I had barely finished strapping in the old man when the first shock hit. “What was that?” a female voice asked.
“Energy hit” Mariana replied. “This thing is fast but, at this low a delta vee we will be in range for a while.”
Me ‘It’s got to have shields or that hit would have broken something”
Tim asked “How do you people know this much”?
Mariana replied “We read a lot”.
We rocked to the recoil of double hit and from Mariana “we can’t take many more of those even with shields”.
Suddenly I felt the vibrations of something all too familiar from long ago “Damn that was a KE spread from us. Six rounds in two separate groups. Where the Hades did Hamilton get 100 MM’s from”
Mariana replied “from the same rabbit hole He pulled the rest of this miracle”.
The ship settled down and the gravity rotation began to pick up. The female StelCo agent stuck her head in and said “Bars open but, its sorta grab your own”.
Tim stood up and said “well I can play bartender. What will you have old man.”
“Gin and Tonic I do believe and young man do you think you could get this wonderful contraption off of me.”
“No problem the name is Andy Stuart and the Blonde at the end of the bar is Mariana. Tim if your are going to pour, could we get two triple JD’s on the rocks”
“Yeah, no sweat.”
We stowed all the harness gear and moved to the bar. As the Old Man was getting his second Gin and Tonic a hard eyed young man who looked like the guy from the hatchway but, I could not be sure interrupted the conversation.
“A history teacher, you’re kind of old. What can you bring to the table where we’re going?”
Mariana and I glanced at each other and she replied with her spotter face on. “Now Jack, be nice. There’s a place for everyone-.“
She did not really end the sentence as much as just stare. Jack just lifted his glass and grinned.
We turned to our drinks and tried to wind down as we waited for the questions that were sure to follow.
After years of hiding from the sheep, we were surrounded by sheepdogs. Could we admit that we were wolves with a conscience?
(To Be Continued)