Day 36 Late Afternoon
I wandered into the Communications/Security section after finally getting some sleep. I had spent the entire night before bringing the new network setup on line. We now had a full public side and the order wire behind Snaketrap was now a full bandwidth network all it’s own. All we were waiting for now was the Mayflower to come back up.
One of J. J.’s firearms fearing trainees was working the consoles. It was a good way for them to put in some public service. “Go on and get some chow, I’ll take it for a while,” I told her.
I spent about an hour running system checks. We had full coverage in the city now and the fiber link from the community center to the First Inn was up. That was about all we were going to get until the sats came back up.
My attention was caught by a huge data dump coming behind Snaketrap, it turned out to be from Andy Stuarts bot; what did he call it, oh yeah Sgt. Nug. Not ten minutes later Mariana Stuart walked in the door.
“Well, what brings you here Doc?”
“The Lab comp is too specialized now to do what I need to do so I have to work on the main array.”
I was a little confused, “I thought all the medical stuff was at the lab?”
“It is,” she replied, “this is security work. I am looking at the video files from the night before Bart’s shuttle took off.”
“You suspect anything?” I asked.
“Nope, just my little nasty suspicious Counter-Intelligence mind. You did know that was my SOCOM job didn’t you?”
She flashed me that Doctors ‘This won’t hurt’ smile and I just laughed and gave up.
I turned back to my work getting the automated routines ready for the splurge of repeater moves that were coming. I happened to glance at Mariana’s screen, she had it in a 4-way split obviously looking at some predetermined event on a series of robot data streams. I heard her mutter “What the heck” and call up a series of video streams in time lock sequence.
Suddenly I heard her utter a stream of what I guessed were profanities. They were in at least 4 different languages and I assumed they were not complimentary. She started punching up a contact code for the new land line system.
I heard the of all things phone ringing. This new land line system carried everything including an old fashioned phone system. “First Inn, Hanna,” I said.
“Hi Hanna, Mariana here; do you have a minute?” Said Mariana Stuart in a tone that I had never heard from her. It was a low mixed drawl that was vaguely Southern, another part Midwestern and a small part clipped and guttural. It was soothing but, strange at the same time.
“Sure,” I replied. “What do you need?”
“Has Walt got that A/V unit set up for Karl’s survival classes yet?” She asked.
“Why yes,” I replied. “It’s ready to go for the morning why?”
“Turn on the control unit if you will. Not the display, just the control unit. I want to upload a couple of files to it.”
“I am not even going to ask why, but, it’s on now.”
“Thanks Hanna, I see it. Tell me, does Jack still come in for dinner at night?”
”Why yes, he should be around shortly. I don’t think he can cook at all.”
“Great,” Mariana drawled, “I’ll see you in a bit. Stuart Clear.”
I turned to Histy and Les coming in and ordering dinner. As they sounded like they were in a discussion of council business, I told them I would have one of the girls bring their food out.
I logged out of the console and told Tim that I would see him around but first I needed a drink.
Where I actually went was to our tent. I pulled off the field jacket and sat and stared at the surroundings. After a while I moved over to my ruck and dug to the bottom. I pulled out two paper thin vacuum packs. I sat and stared at them for at least five minutes before I hit the valves that let air back into them.
I had not wanted to put these into our SHTF packs but, Andy had insisted. This was the Class B uniform I had worn on the day we got married and the day we retired. The name tag even read Stuart: Admiral Harrison had set that up. He even had the seamstress in the hallway at HQ waiting for us. As Andy had bent every Reg in the book to land us in Las Vegas I could not figure out how all those people knew. Bryce’s grin had been worth the sleepless night; “Girl, you are protecting the worst kept secret in the history of SOCOM.”
Putting that uniform on I realized why I hated it. There was no doubt that there was a female in it. I removed the holsters from the C’s that I had been wearing and adjusted the straps to put them in the speed rig on my hip and the shoulder carry. The non-standard AMT had to stay behind this time. Finally ready, I went out towards the First Inn.
I saw Mariana enter the main door and knew something was wrong. I had never seen her in an outfit like that. I knew very little about military badges and ranks, but that layout should be scary.
“Your normal?” I asked.
She grinned and said, “Maybe later, got the control for the A/V unit?”
“Of course,” I said as I handed it to her.
“Thanks,” she said as she turned on the display. Then turned to face the room with her left elbow propped on the bar.
“I kinda’ have a problem, I have some video I can’t explain, let me show you.”
The first video she showed was Jack ordering his bot into sleep mode followed by him ordering it back on line. Then she elaborated.
“If you look at the time indicators and compare it to this, it gets interesting.”
She then ran a video from cameras that I did not even knew existed.
The view showed Jack approaching the only first model shuttle with a package in his hands. She stopped the video and split the screen with one part showing a close up.
“I bet you did not know that Ash had Military grade cameras that Dave had ripped off of the Goonie cruiser pointed at the landing field did you?
“Look at the close up. That is clearly a block of C-12 with the metallic cover off so it can be molded.
“Let’s move ahead ten minutes, there you come out of the shuttle without the block of C-12.” She leaned her left elbow on the bar. “Could You Explain This Jack?”
Histy muttered, “And here I was, thinking it was the downed-coms preventing us from contacting Bart and his group. All the while, there was no one left to contact!”
I felt I had to rise and intervene but I felt a hand on my arm. “Let it happen, Lester.” Said Histy.
Jack came out of his chair screaming, “You jumped-up, overreaching BITCH!” He was clawing for his sidearm as Mariana stood leaning on the bar.
Suddenly Jack’s head exploded and Mariana was in mid-air in some twisting turning maneuver that was turning her towards the side door when the room rang with a second shot.
Snapping my head around I saw Sally Kellerman with some kind of handgun in a two-handed grip and Jack’s constant companion falling towards the floor; a rifle falling from his hands.
I heard Mariana screaming.
“Sally, I knew he was there; I could have taken him.”
Kellerman turned to Mariana with a face like a ghost. “When I asked you to teach me, I swore I would never be that helpless again. He was going to shoot you in the back.”
Mariana started me right in the eye, “Les, I think we need a Council meeting NOW.
“Hanna, I am as sorry as I can be but; Clean Up on Aisle 4 and I will pay for it.”