Deep Space A+3
Strike Force 7 SAR
“Jai, you know this guy is running out of time don’t you?” May said from her Wizzo seat. “Isn’t Travis more important?”
“May, just keep the main dish on the sweep of the belt and the secondary array on this guy. I am not ready to give up on him until that counter goes plus 15 or we get a solid hit on the Capt.”
“Has anyone ever told you that you sound more like the Boss every day?”
Jai grinned at her, “And get away with it? Only John and he’s the pot calling the kettle black!”
May leaned back and laughed, “Yeah but, what’s it like knowing the man you love is the Boss’s hand picked Assassin.”
Jai’s face got serious, “Given my family background, how would you like to know in your heart that the man you love is not real likely to suddenly get dead on you anytime soon?”
May’s face drained of humor, “It would mean a hell of a lot. I know I worry about Ryu even with him by my side as my shooter. Oh Shit, ping. Forward 100.000: Port 15: Nadir 30. UNWG suit Beacon, no telemetry.”
Jai barked as her hand flew on the keyboard, “Hang on, the Boss ain’t going to like me!”
May’s vision tunneled, then Grayed, then blacked out as Jai threw the MK V into 10 G’s perceived deceleration. The stars blurred as the fighter slowed at 250 G’s Real. Until it was in juggling range of a suit that they could see with the naked eye. May slowly came back into the real world with Jai dancing on one side then the other of 1 G as she fought to match vectors.
“Still with me River, get ready to go get Him or Her.”
“That Suit is a fracking Short Range UNWG POS, it’s a Him and yeah. But what if he don’t wanta come in?”
Jai stared at her, “Then do your signature Dance on his head till he’s ready!”
May startled, “What?”
Jai rolled back her eye’s, “Bring him in River, whether he wants it or not. ‘For we are WinterBorn’, remember?”
“I forget sometimes OK, he comes in!”
Jai fought the fighter to a match as the mid-line air lock popped open and May went out on her tether trailing a tether and an airline. She snapped the tether into a buckle and snapped the airline into his life support as Jai looked at her countdown clock, which said 4 min. May was crawling back up her tether with a form that was not resisting at all. She heard the airlock open and May’s shout over the comms.
“He’s out already, was the guess wrong?”
“Frack if I know, get his faceplate open and secure him on his side in case we have to do some crazy stuff. I would really hate to spend all this effort then loose him because he drowned in his own puke. If he cracks some ribs one of the doc’s can fix that. Hit him with a shot of quick heal just in case.”
May ripped open his faceplate and reached though it to the soft spot just under the collarbone that Mariana had made them all find in their sleep and drove the Emergency shot home. She finished strapping him in so that he could not reach the buckles and was turning for the bridge when he spoke.
A soft voice asked behind her, “Are you an Angel?”
Jai’s irreverent influence overcame her, “Hell no, He’s a Black guy about yeah tall.” She said reaching towards the roof with one hand. “Crap, I can’t reach that high. Just pray you never meet him on a Bad Day.”
May slid back into the Wizzo’s seat as Jai asked, “Think he’ll behave?”
“Pilot, I would not be a bit surprised!”
Three and a half hours later they were still running cold. May asked, “Think our guy in the back might be hungry?”
Jai laughed, “I am for sure, let’s call a break and stretch some. I’ll throw us in a holding loop for a while” Both reached for the CAWs and slung the friction rigs. Moving into the cramped rear area Jai asked, “First, what ’s your name and Second, if we untie your hands so you can eat are you going to give us any trouble?”
Guy Anselmo looked up. He had seen women in uniform, some of them very tough. But never with so many unfamiliar weapons and that look of a natural born killer in the eyes of the one wearing the LTC rank tabs. “Anselmo, Guy Anselmo and no; I won’t give you any trouble. I knew I was dead and I have no idea why you Gals would come find me.”
Jai answered in a heartbeat, “We have sensor tapes of that damn suicide move you made with that UNWG hatch. The Boss is not going to let that kind of guts go unrewarded and neither are we. Don’t confuse that with us trusting you yet.”
Anselmo said the only thing that seemed smart, “Understood, Colonel!”
May chimed in, “Well our choices are canned Slizzard or canned Unicow.”
Jai was quick, “Make mine Unicow, cold Slizzard just don’t cut it! What do you want Goonie?”
Guy was a little shocked by the vehemence in that voice and the question itself. “Since I have no idea what you are talking about, you tell me. How does a substance level refugee society produce anything canned anything?”
Jai snarled in his face, “We aren’t Refuge any damn thing, you have no idea what we are. May, what is the Boss’s favorite saying?”
May looked like she was going to puke, “Logistics, followed by Logistics; then more Logistics. Amateurs talk Tactics, Pro’s talk Logistics.”
Guy looked stunned, “If it’s not classified for a POW who the hell is the Boss?”
Two voices chimed at once, “COL Andrew Stuart. Ex US SOCOM, currently Commander Strike Force Alchibah!”
Guy’s voice echoed surprise and disbelief, “Impossible, he is dead. I have seen the pictures!”
Two voices rang again as one, “Not hardly, tell my bruises!”
Suddenly a chime started ringing from the cockpit. Guy was still shoveling down the best beef he had tasted in a long time as the two females scrambled back up front.
“What you got, River?”
“One MK IV at 120,000: Zero on: Zenith 10. Looks like it’s beat to shit. Shield is at 5 percent, BOD at 25 percent. Everything else is dead as a doornail.”
“Roger, got it. Strap in Goonie, we are going for our own!” With that Jai threw the ship into a series of sharp High-G maneuvers as she threaded deep into the belt.
Rivers voice rang true, “Damn the hatch is still good we can dock!”
“Got it River,” came Firebirds cold official voice.
May just hung on and watched as the Woman described by Ash Andrews as the Second Best Fighter Jock alive fought them into a dock with the most beat up piece of shit May had ever seen.
“Let’s go River, Button up Goonie. We might lose pressure through that damn hulk.”
Guy pulled down his faceplate and noticed his life support read 100 per cent and thought, “Who are these people?”
On board the MK IV Firebird exclaimed, “Damn the frame is still good. The shield held but a DEHEE dive got overwhelmed. This Bitch took a lot but got hammered up against a rock.” Then she got to the cockpit.
“Oh God, River we are going to need a body bag. Looks like Fallon. Do you see any sign of Travis?
“Nope Firebird, not a damn trace.”
‘”Great we are bringing Fallon home, where the Hell is Travis?”
River waited then replied, “What did Ghost say just before we left?”
Firebird replied coldly, “The Galloping Ghost of the Belt ain’t dead till you see the body.”
“Right.” River replied. “So, where the Hell is He?”