Monday, February 25, 2013

2300AD Star Marines: Episode 8 - Conclusion

"So I tried to helicopter and pee at the same time. Moral of the story is I couldn’t do it and now I’m banned from all Hilton Suites ”
PFC Lenny Mondragon, Dunkelheim, 2302

The squad had entered the complex at the entrance in the destroyed barracks tower while Jutta and the Texans entered through the bunker. Below ground a long corridor connected them. The corridor was filled with animated corpses. The zombies all bore large device embedded in their chest marked with the Uranus logo. Many of the zombies were armed with submachine guns and large vibro-blade cutters.

The zombies charged both groups. Two of the things, seemingly unarmed, bounded up the stairs towards Jutta. As they approached, she noticed they wore large metal bracers on each wrist with readout flashing a countdown, walking bombs. She kicked one off the platform back into a larger group of zombies. Russ kicked the other, noting, “These pukes ain’t worth sheeyeet.”

The rest of the Texans unloaded with their assault rifles. Then the two bombs went off, blasting a huge swath of destruction in the zombie mob at the bottom of the platform.

At the other end of the corridor, the squad opened up on the portion of the zombie horde that was approaching them. Lenny fired the autocannon and managed to bounce the rounds through the doorway into packed corridor beyond. The explosions of the rounds ripped the zombies apart. Kubich added to mayhem with an anti-personnel missile. The rest of the squad blasted into the crowd of zombies at the bottom of the platform. Within moments, all but one had been knocked off the platform. This one was armed with both a machine pistol and a vibro-blade. Shots from the gun bowled Gaylord over while the whirling blade cut through Lenny’s body armor.

Sanchez yelled for them to duck and fried the creature with her flamethrowers. The flames lapped into the corridor and soon all was quiet and the hallway cleared of the monstrosities.

As the acrid smoke began to clear, Ms White cursed, “Those bastards in R&D must’ve had a Lazarus program and didn’t share it with the other departments!”

“What?” asked Boomer.

“Part of security protocol, along with self-destruct systems, in secured facilities. Keep assets, especially militarized assets hidden in secret compartments in the facility that will reactivate when help arrives. The landings here must of somehow been picked up and activated the Lazarus system. The Kafer garrison must’ve been battling these things for a couple of days now.”

“Well, that’s good news, we’ve got help. All you need to do is identify us to the system and we’ve got reinforcements," said Boomer.

“Not so simple, I was never informed of this, let alone given access codes. This is par for the course; competition between departments in Uranus is cut-throat, we’re all competing for a portion of the budget. No communications between departments, information is a premium.

“We thought the only defense here was self-destruct. My department has been wondering why the self-destruct didn’t seem to we work. We had the ceilings loaded with nanobombs…”

“Nanobombs?” asked Gaylord.

“Yeah, they release streams of nanobots to attack targets at the molecular level. They should’ve turned this facility into a big pool of grey goo. I guess R&D overrode our departments protocols.”

“What department are you?”

“Human Resources.”

Lenny said, “Some companies call it human resources, other call it inventory.”

“Exactly,” said White.

“Enough talk,” grunted Boomer. He ordered Jutta and the Texans to move down their corridor to the main section of the underground lab while the squad would advance down another branch. Ultimately, they should be able to link up in the main laboratory.

As each group advanced, they passed several dead Kafers lying in corridors, along with signs of running gun battles, Obviously, the Kafer fought back as hard as they could from surprise attack but were losing.

Meanwhile, SGT Korand and the Noob were knocking on front door. After destroying the security bot, they found themselves in a large corridor facing two doors. According the schematic read-out Sanchez had provided one led to the security center while the other led to some sort of lounge. The door to the security center had been locked down and the lock mechanism disabled. It looked like the door was partial welded shut.

They decided on checking security control first. Rather than attacking the door to the room directly, Korand used his plasma rifle to try to cut hole in wall. Although the steel walls weren’t cut, the plasma blast did cause the metal panels to buckle. Once they did, the Noob peered into the gap created and saw three Kafer standing ready at door. He immediately opened fire, killing two of the Kafers.

Korand then fired the plasma rifle through the door to the room. The blast went through, the doors being much thinner, killing another of the Kafer. The two remaining Kafers returned fire and both Korand and the Noob fell. The Noob only knocked down while Korand received a wound to the arm. Together, the two Marines dispatched the remaining Kafers and the Noob set about giving first aid to Korand that stabilized wound.

The pair then entered the control room. Most of the security systems were wrecked in the firefight. A door at the far end led to the main lab. Before that, they decided to secure the lounge next door to make sure they didn’t leave an enemy at their backs. The door to that room was not locked or welded, and the lock mechanism showed a simple closed signal.

Hearing some movement inside the lounge, they set up three directional mines around frame to blow inward once the doors opened. When they opened door, the mines went off with a roar. When they looked inside, they saw that the blast had killed the dozen or so Eviscerators that the Kafers had left in there.

Korand and the Noob then returned to the security room. The door to the lab on the farther wall had been welded shut. Korand still had a couple of breaching charges with him. They began placing those around the door.

About the same time, at the LT’s direction, Gaylord made radio contact with Brigade. Although the com links were fuzzy at the nearly 1000km distance, he could make out that an aerial attack was inbound although he couldn’t link directly to determine when the strike would hit. The only advice they could get from Command was to get out to as safe a distance as possible as soon as possible.

By this time, the squad had reached the entry to the main section of the facility. The door to the interior corridor opened easily. They could see what appeared to be robots, some of them combat models, moving around within.

“Guns Up,” ordered the LT and Lenny happily complied. Three rounds from the autocannon sped out into the lab. The explosions devastated the large room.

Gaylord argued that they should try to salvage some of the combat bots to help get out of the facility. He charged into the lab.

At the other entrance to the lab, this one locked, Jutta had been trying to blast open the doors using Naci’s RPG launcher. After several rounds, the damaged doors slid open, shortly after the autocannon fire ripped through. The Texans immediately blasted away at the shiny machines inside. They all then entered the lab.

Gaylord realized that he was on a walkway over four large enclosed vats that were cracked from the explosion. Suddenly, four huge spiderlike creatures sprang from the vats, each one still spouting large translucent eggs. He could see that the eggs contained infant versions of the eviscerators and mutant camel-insects. The sight unnerved him and he collapsed into a fetal position screaming at the horror around him.

The queen bugs tried attaching plasmic goo like spider webs around Gaylord. Before he could be caught, the autocannon roared, and rockets and grenades tore into the hulking creatures. The Texans added to the mayhem with their assault rifles. Fortunately for Gaylord, the creatures’ bulk absorbed the shock and the shrapnel from these deadly rounds.

In moments the creatures were dead. The Texans ran up, smashing the remaining eggs and killing any of the small creatures that had hatched.

In the quiet aftermath of the firefight, they could hear the groans of more of the zombies coming down the corridors. Gaylord leapt up toward the main computer console. He found the program that controlled the corpses and shut it down, figuring that he would be able to determine how to control the zombies with a bit of undistracted time.

At that moment, the breaching charges that Korand had set went off, and he and the Noob charged in.

Gaylord cursed as he realized that the blasts had wrecked the main computer, ensuring that he would be unable to revive the zombies. It also severely scrambled their already tenuous com links. However, White assured them that the info they were after was not on the main but was rather on a stand-alone computer unconnected to the facility network. That computer was in a very secure hidden compartment below the main lab.

She showed them the secret access panel. When it opened, they were confronted with a large, combat bot standing guard. Prepared for such an eventuality, they blasted the thing to spare parts before it could react. A small hatch in the floor of the compartment lead to the secure room in which the back-up computer stood. Boomer, White and Gaylord descended.

In the compartment, were severald dozen of the disabled zombies. It would have been murdered fending them off had they still been active. Gaylord downloaded the research files in a few moments.

In the meantime, Korand remembered the human prisoners above who would be killed when the Marine strike hit. He hurried out of the facility the way he had come. He found about 25 scarecrows in the make-shift camp and led them hurriedly down into the secured room.

Locking themselves in, they awaited the strike. Less than 20 minutes later, it hit. The intensity of the bomb strikes shook the whole place but they remained untouched int the safe room. After about a half hour, the explosions stopped and Gaylord was able to raise Brigade command.

A transport had come with the strike package and they were able to retrieve all of the survivors. As they exited the facility, they saw it had been totally wrecked. However, they could see some of the mutant camel-insects retreating into their sand flat habitats.

As the transport headed back to the drop zone, White speculated that the Kafers had produced the eviscerators using the Uranus labe, comining Kafer DNA combined with the mutant camel-insect stock already being used. Obviously given the ease with which the Kafer adapted the bugs, the Uranus plan doomed to fail if implemented, with the possibility of the Kafer being able to raise vast new armies of eviscerators to add to humanity’s problems.

"Not to mention the other horror you created," broke in Korand. "Do you really want to tell the people of Earth that their sons and daughters, after giving their lives, would have their bodies desecrated and made into those monostrocities?"

He grabbed the memory device that bore the research materials from Gaylor.

"Here," he tossed it to her. "You decide what to do with it. It's on your conscience now."

White looked at the device and then shoved it down the waste disposal shute.

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