This is the second part the first part can be found here
Or if you reading this on the front page scroll down but don’t do that click the link and let me know what you think in the comments 🙂
At full power Jase engaged in a series of barrel rolls, spiralling through the darkness of hard vacuum ostensibly to check the maneuvering vains but really just for the joy of it. Enough playing he had a job to do settling out in a gentle arc starting at 90 degree’s from the traders ships trajectory, he cut power back and engaged the null emissions settings from the command array. At this range and with the interference from the Asteroids he would be invisible to anything but the most targeted of sensor sweeps he settled in it would be several hours until he would need to start making piloting inputs again.
His mind drifted back to the beginning of his Employment with Salive. He had been with the resistance for 6 years when the war came to an end. He had established quite a reputation for himself not just for the success of his operations but for so often being the only surviving member of his team. Initially he was as seen as lucky and members of the resistance flocked to join his strike teams but as time went on and he returned alone again and again, mutterings he was cursed began to be heard around the cramped makeshift shelters the resistance huddled in during day light hours. Volunteers for his operations became scarcer and scarcer.
Secretly Jase was pleased the deaths had weighed heavily upon him it seemed every time he got to know someone he led them straight to their death. He began planning more and more solo missions and command stopped trying to get him to lead teams just giving him the equipment he asked for and letting him get on with it. He’d always had a talent for getting himself out of trouble only matched by his talent for getting into it in the first place. Unfortunately these skills were not easily taught to others being innate and the product of growing up in a warzone where stealth and sudden explosive violence were skills quickly honed or the time to do so ended with great finality.
When the war ended hoping for a time of peace Jase was greatly perturbed to be tasked by command with assassination jobs as the resistance fractured and local commanders jockeyed for positions of authority. Refusing the assignment he left to find what remained of his family. Quickly realising he was being pursued by 3 separate teams sent by different cell leaders each trying to set themselves up as the local power. Jase changed tack dealing with his pursuers in a series of explosive ambush’s Jase realised he would never be safe whilst these erstwhile leaders considered him a potential rival.
Unwilling to lead them to his family Jade decided then and there this threat would not be tolerated. The first one was ended with a sniper rifle, the next with a remote controlled explosive device installed in his mistresses bed.
The final one the commander he had served for 6 years he dealt with more personally secreting himself in the recessed ceiling space above his command room Jase waited 3 days for the right time dropping down when he was alone Jase broke his neck and took grim pleasure in watching the life drain from his eyes. He destroyed all information relating to him and crippled the communication network. Finally satisfied he would be left alone he resumed his journey back to the family home.
Finding his mother and 2 remaining younger brothers he quickly assessed the chances of survival in this location as remote, not only was food and water scarce but fighting between militias threatened to over run there position. He moved his family further and further north evading trouble where he could and killing when he couldn’t.
After 3 months of living on the run scavenging just enough to keep them alive, he had his family secreted in a cave network in a range of hills he would never know the name of. Unwilling to leave his family unprotected and with a great dislike of confined spaces he ranged the area keeping his eyes and ears peeled.
This was when he heard the roar of landing jets and saw the shuttle break through the dark dense cloud cover that seemed a permanent feature now. Quickly he concealed himself in the thick undergrowth of a nearby copse of bushes. Cursing his luck at having picked a thorn bush he settled down to observe the new arrivals. The shuttle circled the area and Jases’s heart rate rose as the shuttle passed over the entrance to the cave but quickly returned to normal as the shuttle continued its lazy arc around the valley. Settling into a flat field near the small stream that was all that was left of the mighty river that had once carved this deep ravine and cut the cave network that his family now sheltered in.
The shuttles cargo ramp lowered and Jase caught his first sight of Saleve standing about 5 ft tall and incredibly thin with very slender overly long limbs but essentially humanoid. His head was so featureless that Jase initially took it to be a helmet or mask of some kind. Clad in a skintight body suit of darkest purple his skin almost translucent the only other feature was an ornate silver necklace round his neck reminiscent of a mayoral chain of office.
He continued to watch as a diverse retinue of other aliens and machines set up a tent and camp and brought supplies from the shuttle. Jase resolved himself then he was going to eliminate this threat and take the supplies for his family.
Backing slowly out of the bush he utilised the terrain to make his way unseen to the stream and worked his way to about 30 metres up stream of the alien camp. Stealing himself to the cold to come he lowered himself into the freezing water pushing off from the edge he made it in one go to the bank edging the alien camp using the bank as cover he pulled himself along using hand holes improvised from the burrows of small animals and branches of trees and bushes by being gentle and moving slowly he minimised noise to a level he hoped would be undetectable.
Taking advantage of the noise the camp was generating he eased himself from the water and crawled forward on his belly finding some dead ground he approached the camp. Freeing a knife from the sheath on his chest he began to circle the shuttle. Judging he wouldn’t be seen he broke in to a quick crouching run and slid the last 2 metres under the shuttle. Seeing the willowy alien was alone by his fire Jase edged his way into position ready to strike.
As he emerged from the cover of the shuttle the whole area was suddenly flooded with a harsh white light. The Alien turned
“Jase Guilder come sit with me”
Although this was the first time he had ever been called Jase the use of his surname stopped him dead in his tracks. The Alien continued
“My name is Saleve please please come sit with me I’ve been looking for you. Come Come we have food no one will harm you here”
Still wary but comprehensively having lost the element of surprise Jase re sheafed his knife and stepped in to camp.
” I hear you have some great stories I have a deal for you,eat with me share your adventures with me and you can take as many supplies as you can carry when you leave”
Jase slowly moved into the camp keeping a safe distance he positioned himself with his back to the stream and the shuttle and alien in his field of view. For the next 3 hours he regaled Saleve with stories of his experience’s in the war. In return Saleve told Jase of the state of the rest of the world. Large parts of Europe and Asia where radioactive wastelands. South America and Africa had been burnt flat of all foliage and had become deserts. North America had taken the worst of the biological weapons hit and the victims had formed savage bands that terrorised the remaining survivors lived barricaded in fortified camps. The only areas left relatively unscathed were the Pacific rim Islands.
Jase silently took this in it was much worse than even he’d feared making to the Pacific rim with his family would be next to impossible crossing all of Europe and Asia on foot would take years if it was possible to find a safe route. Saleve began to talk again
“Jase my original deal still stands you can leave now carry away as much supplies as you can and we will never meet again. Or I have another proposition for you I trade in dangerous places many of my customers would much prefer to use violence as a currency rather than pay me what I’m due”
Jase could already see where this was heading but a plan of his own was forming
“Your species is uniquely capable and you are the best I’ve seen or heard of. Come with me ensure my safety and you’ll never want again”
Jase knew what he was going to say but paused appearing to consider it. He slowly raised his arm pointing over Saleve’s shoulder to the shuttle
“Your ship I’m assuming we could get to the Pacific Rim pretty quick in it”
Although incapable of smiling Saleve’s skin seemed to brighten and it’s translucent sheen seemed to almost glow. In times to come Jase would find he could read his employers by the relatively shine of his skin.
“and it could handle another 4 passenger” “Yes Yes it’s but a small jump and if we have to I’ll leave some of these behind” He gestured to his accompanying retinue.
Jase initially took this for a joke but sensing the sudden change in mood of the on lookers He was no longer as convinced. This was Jase’s first glimpse of Saleve’s mercenary nature and he resolved then never to trust him completely and to ensure he was always useful to him.
“OK here’s the deal You transport my family to a safe place and ensure they get regular supplies If I’m with you I have to know there looked after”
Saleve nodded his skin glowing brighter than ever.
” If that’s ensured I will do whatever you want and do everything in power to keep you safe” Saleve stood and bowed to Jase the deal was done.
A sudden flash on his control panel brought Jase back to the present his on board computer had calculated the possibility of a collision quickly scanning the portside view screens a large asteroid outside of the main field was slowly working its way across his trajectory. Doing some quick calculations he estimated it would pass within 800 metres of the mining facility.
Gently powering up the engines he began to carefully reposition himself so the asteroid would shield him from the worst of the field and cover his approach to the facility. He would allow the asteroid to take him past the faculty getting a topographical plan of the area and getting passive sensor readings.
This part of the operation went without a hitch passive sensor readings confirmed his suspicions the facility was old probably 4 or 5 hundred years the gravity engines holding the facility in place was fluctuating wildly indicative of age and poor maintenance most of the rest of the topside buildings where abandoned and the asteroid mostly hollow. This was not unexpected but was unwelcome without an active scan or a visual inspection there was no way of knowing what was waiting for them. Resigning himself to a foot based insertion he swung Natalie around to approach the Asteroid from the darkside.