The first part of this story can be found here
The second here
So if everyone is caught up and sitting comfortably we shall begin
Universal Dangers 3
The insertion had gone well the asteroid field had been fairly easy to navigate and Jase could see no sign of having been detected well at least no one had shot at him yet and that was always a good starting point. Skimming low across the surface Jase spotted a suitable looking gulley and after a quick pass identified a good overhang to conceal Natalie. He eased gently into position and set her down.
Uncoupling his harness he slid from the pilots seat into the small area behind the cockpit. After double checking all the seals on his suit he opened the weapons locker. He took a magtec scoped rifle, although beam technology was prevelant throughout the galaxy Jase always preferred a solid round trusting his life to heavy metal over focused light and it didn’t get much heavier than this. Solid rounds were fed from a magazine into a chamber, resonance waves were run into the round exciting the atoms so internal friction quickly turned the metal molten. The round was then held in stasis by magnetic fields which were in turn manipulated to propel the round down the barrel focusing the round so it left at hyper velocity. The combination of the molten round and the kinetic force made for unparalleled stopping power and penetration although at the expense of rate of fire. He chose a pair of heavy bore pistols working on similar tech and finally selected a brace of small shaped charges, very flat squares that could be tossed as a grenade or with a timing device used for demolition or just wanton destruction. There other great advantage was that they could be attached flat to his belt and could easily been mistaken for fastenings or decorative trim.
Running the exit procedure he waited for all atmosphere to be purged before opening the outer seal. Stepping out onto the asteroid it took his internal balance a moment to compensate for the low gravity and he gently ran a warm up routine designed to test the servo assistance in his suit. Satisfied all was well he began the long trek circum-navigating the mining facility.
Passive sensors had identified several abandoned building which he had tentatively identified as a ore processing complex obviously shut down to conserve power now that the asteroid had been stripped of its precious contents. Also showing prominently in the initial scan was the main landing facility and hanger area which as it was powered up was obviously the intended meeting point where the deal would be done one way or another.
Mindful that if he was in charge of security here he would have roving patrols on the surface he made cautious progress careful to never silhouette himself on the crest of a hill and taking advantage of the abundant gulleys and ravine he made decent time. Then almost exactly as he prophesied he caught sight of dust being kicked up maybe a kilometre distant but between him and his destination. Keeping low he moved up the side of a small cairn crawling the last couple of metres to the ridge line he unsung his rifle and popped the cap of the scope that protected the delicate optics underneath. Sighting down to the base of the dust he caught site of a small skimming craft too small for real flight but in this low gravity whatever propulsion system it was using was capable of keeping it a couple of metres off the ground and good for a decent lick of speed. He increased magnification by a factor of 6 for a closer look the machine was sleek and appeared well armed a selection of pods underslung from its belly looked capable of carrying guns or missiles and a turret on top was constantly in motion sweeping a decent sized barrel back and forth across the terrain.The vehicle came to a gentle stop at a good vantage point.
A sudden movement alerted Jase to the presence of a second identical vehicle this zoomed past the stationery vehicle to take up a similar vantage point a kilometre ahead of the trailing vehicle which then repeated the process. This was bad news the operators of these vehicle were well trained they were patrolling aggressively but careful in there positioning so they could always provide cover for the other or focus fire if a threat presented itself. Increasing magnification again Jace took a closer look judging by the size each could contain a four man squad plus pilot and gunner he focused in on the pilots canopy and his blood ran cold. That pilot was definitely human!
This was all kinds of bad well trained human crew with well maintained equipment meant a mercenary army. If you could afford humans for routine patrol work there would be a lot of them as you would need to have a decent amount left to provide perimeter security for the base. Someone with deep pockets was funding this operation. Although this was no evidence of malicious intent it increased Jase’s unease. If this went south with Saleve on the ground it would be near impossible to guarantee his safety. However Saleve would still be reluctant to waive off whilst he had so much invested in this deal. Jase would need to get more information and put some contingencies in place before contacting the ship.
He let the skimmers move off then continued on his way more wary than ever he got within a kilometre of the hanger area concealing himself in a rock formation he once again unslung the rifle and began a visual scan of the area. The landing pad and approach was well lit small globes appeared from the ground at regular intervals providing a harsh white light. From this position and with the blast doors closed he couldn’t see into the hanger and there was no activity on the landing pad.
He would need to find another way in he looked east towards the abandoned refinery. Seeing no obvious above ground route between the 2 points Jase judged there must be an internal transit way between them. Reslinging his rifle he eased back from the edge and began the trek to the refinery.
Twice on the route he was forced to take cover when patrols came into view and a third time he had to tack left to avoid an oncoming dust cloud he judged would cross directly over him. Evidently the patrol frequency was much denser this close to the facility not unexpected but further confirmation he was dealing with professionals.
Making it to the facility he found a suitable lying up position and commenced a visual inspection of the area. Detecting no sign of activity he began his approach moving gently and regularly stopping to check for any sign he had been detected the last kilometre took best part of an hour. Checking his suits internal chronometer he judged he had little over 90 minutes to get this accomplished. He had prearranged with the ships command crew if he hadn’t sent a confirmation signal they would abort the approach and make all haste out of system. This would leave him stranded and would probably piss Saleve off enough that a recovery mission would be unlikely not that he had enough air to wait indefinitely. He had long ago resigned himself to the fact it was unlikely he would die of old age but that didn’t mean he was in a hurry to to take that final adventure and asphyxiation seemed a particularly nasty death although his experience told him there where no good ways to go he hoped at least for a quick end.
The abandoned processing plant had an eerie ghost like quality he worked his way to a ramp he figured used to carry spoilage judging by the huge pile of dust and small rocks at end of it. Inclined at a 45 degree angle and disappearing into the ground he jumped up at the point it intersected the ground peering in to the dark he was unwilling to to use a torch above ground. Acutely aware that time was pressing he took a chance and slid into the unknown.