Complied from Various logs
The table had pretty well recovered from Mariana and Andy’s flat declaration and plans of immediate actions were being made. Just as we started to break up Ash as usual drawled out the question of the moment.
“Iffen we are going to Huff and Puff like some mangy ole Cur, ain’t it time some people around here showed their game?” He was pointing to his ten and JoAnn’s five Kill Pins as he said it.
Andy, Mariana and I cursed him softly and I was the first to speak intelligibly. “I hate to say it but he’s right. If you are going to run a bluff it don’t hurt for the other guys to see some cards!”
We all three popped out our short sleeve knives and Corrine cracked, “Damn, Boss who are these Guys?”
Al leaned back with a great big grin, “Why knuckle dragging simpletons of Commandos, didn’t you get Redmond’s memo?”
It was her turn to chuckle, “Was that before or after we used the stuff these Guys built to blow his ship out of Space?”
Every shaggy dog has a punch line and Al delivered with a perfect straight face, “That would have been just before we shot their asses off. There might have been a slight problem with e-mail delivery about that time of course.”
About the time the laughter died down Andy, Mariana and I had finished pulling off the cloth strips covering our pins which, tradition said were never active devices but always solid metal. My three, Mariana’s four and Andy’s six ran the total up pretty fast.
Al said it best, “As best I recall there were only fifty-four of those thing ever awarded in all Services and I am looking at twenty-eight of them…. is there a pattern here that I don’t get? At least as a civilian, I don’t have to worry about those things.”
The whole table groaned, Al had just stepped in it big time. Andy leaned over and reached into his gear bag; coming back up he flipped a small box at Al. “Wear my Patch, live by my rules remember? Put it on Al, if anyone ever deserved one it’s you. Now there are fifty-five, we are going to have to have a long talk about Ghost and Digger’s kill. We may have to go back to the old USAF and USN model where the Pilot and the Wizzo both get a pin but that Cruiser was yours Al. We of all the people in two worlds know what it means to bet your ass on a weapon that has never been tested against a defense you have never seen. Wear the damn thing Al, you fracking deserve it. And yes there is a pattern, we have some Sheep that came to Alchibah, we have some Sheepdogs but, of the Wolves we got the cream of the Crop. Those bastards may have swallowed Earth but, Alchibah is gonna stick in their throat.”
Corrine took out the pin and pulling open his flight suit put it on his right breast. Closing his suit she grabbed his head and kissed him, “Remember, you Cheap bastard; make mine a double and very Dry.”
Andy shook in laughter, “What the Hell am I running a Military Force or a damn Dating Service? Get off your duffs and get to work.”
We had been working in the main Bay for about forty-five minutes when I told Andy that the Command bird was ready.
“Good, get on the horn and have Jai and her Wizzo meet me in the briefing room downstairs.”
Andy was moving for the elevators before I could even start to talk. He had something on his mind for sure.
River and I were rested and ready but, the Boss looked grim as hell.
“Your bird is ready but, I want you to see this first. Larry Monroe got it from a combot sweep. You tell me what you think it is?”
We had to watch the loop on the briefing room display twice before we nodded at each other. “That looks like someone either dumb or damn brave opening one of those suicide hatches the UNWG still uses. If what came out was H3, he would have to be called real brave.
“We must have hit that thing harder than we planned.”
“What I think happened,” Andy said, “was we put a golden BB in his H3 tank and it ruptured internal to the ship.
“So, tell me girls; think that guy’s worth saving?”
May and I could not get the “Frack Yes” out fast enough.
“OK, Jai you are taking the Command bird. It’s got the best electronics and commo gear we have. Natasi’s bird down checked and will take too long to fix so, you are going out single ship.
“Here, catch this file on your wrist comps. That’s the vector we could compute for him; the code is one that will cause Emergency Locater to start talking if the UNWG hasn’t changed that. And finally, that countdown timer is our best guess at how much air he has left.
“Maybe we can get lucky and the goonies might have improved the air tanks on their suits and buy him a little more time. Don’t bet on it though, ride hard and get there fast.”
At that point his wrist comp went off.
Having lost the toss with Kat, it was my turn to be the Bad Cop. Entering the room we fond Dr. John Chandler among the Spacers present. “What in the World are you doing here Doc?”
Chandler grimaced, “Well we needed someone here to honcho the Linguistics program on the computer and Gabe told me that if I touched another wrench he was going to bend me into a pretzel.”
I was watching one alien in the corner cringing and muttering something in their native language. “What’s that one doing,” I asked?
“I am not sure Mariana, he does that every time somebody wearing a Strike Force uniform comes in. We have the second word figured out it’s ‘not’, so he is saying ‘thespis.osso’s not’.”
“How are you getting what you have,” I asked?
“Mostly by listening them talk amongst their selves before they answer a question. They think we are stupid for letting them do that. It’s enough that we are starting to get some hits to various Earth languages. They are not exact matches but, we are finding that context wise they are quite enough to work.”
“Doc,” I had to grin, “did it ever dawn on you that Gabe may have made that threat just to get you to where you were needed most?”
He grinned, “Why yes! I have been informed by several around here known collectively as the Young Guns that that was actually preferable to the Colonel ‘Ripping a Strip off of My Ass’.”
Both of us were interrupted by his console chiming and we looked to see that it had hit a new correlation. Blinking on the screen was one line.
“Confirmed: thespis.osso’s Equate Spanish ‘El Diablo’.”
Chandler chuckled, “So they think someone wearing Black and Silver is the Devil Incarnate. How quaint.” But the smile never made it to his eyes, “Dear God, I am no interrogator but, we have to be able to use that!”
It was my turn to give that Wolf’s grin, thumbing the secure infra-reds: I asked Kat, “Wanta go right past Good Cop/Bad Cop right straight to Good Cop/The Devil Himself?”
Kat turned and gave a grin that just might be more dangerous than my own, “That sounds like a table bet. You got an idea?”
Just and that moment the hatch opened as Natasi and Summer came in with a couple of loads of parts for Doc Chandler, Kat quickly noted the reaction of all of the aliens to Summer’s uniform. “Never mind,” Kat laughed, “I think I have it figured out.”
“Reaper, Magic: get your ass to Interrogation, STAT.”
The two young Officers had heard their orders. I just started grabbing gear and flew out the hatch. I was headed through hatches like my tail was on fire. To come so far to get an Emergency Call from my life. If she was hurt someone or something was going to die this Day. I bounced off the outside wall of the last corner to see her leaning against the wall almost unconcerned. She bounced up and grabbed me.
“Hold on to it Love. We need to use that rage and hate that everyone in sight can feel. Listen!”
I came back into the compartment and signaled to everyone, counted to five and waited for the Fireworks.
When that hatch opened everyone even the special sense dead Chandler, knew The Reaper had just entered the room. Summer locked her heels and her back as did Kat and I. Chandler with Natasi and the rest of the Mayflower crew straightened. The Rogons freaked out, they started huddling and the translator just kept spitting out “El Diablo is; El Diablo have not (unknown).” The latter resolved rapidly to one line again.
“Confirmed: El Diablo have not Please.”
Natasi won the day, maybe it was her Russian background but she knew at some gut level exactly what to say.
“Snake, want Diablo have Not. Tell me true. Lie Not. El Diablo have not.”
“Tell True. Lie Not. Have not.”
I muttered under my breath, “Get the Hell outta Here Andy. You done your job and we found the perfect interrogator.”
As he turned to leave he muttered on secure, “Wrap your and Kat’s part up fast. Our birds are ready, time to go home.”