Chapter 1: part 1
“Let’s deal with one catastrophe at a time, shall we?” I had the feeling Mother Goose rubbed his forehead after a face-palm I didn’t hear. “Is the sample secured?”
“Uh-huh.” I answered the best I could.
Distant typing came over the comms. “Poe is fifty yards to your left, pacing up and down a corridor. And… I see, darling.” I felt his annoyance ooze out of my ear piece. “Shep, it’s a Kong Green. I owe you fifty. You stay put, I’m sending Shepherd to collect you.” Great! One-woman-army was coming to save me, like a damsel in distress.
I thought about my future liquid diet and imagined Shepherd bringing me a bowl of chicken soup. Maybe the damsel wasn’t entirely lost on me and she could do some Sam Spade impressions. I could enjoy that. Even better, Bourbon was a worthy diet for a warrior.
Was it weird, that there was a code Kong Green? Did Mother Goose suspect, I pissed Poe off and she beat me to a pulp? Did he prepare for this? Did he think this was the most probable course of events? And did they bet on it? WOW. That screamed trust issues. Who needed the sensitivity training now, huh?
How many scenarios did they think of, where I was, uh, incapacitated?
Shepherd approached with heavy clanking footsteps. Some roaring, screeching, a howl and a thud later, shave and a haircut was rapped at the bulkhead. Of course, a cyborg could butt heads with Poe. I answered with two bits on the wall I was leaning on. Shepherd stuck her head in and grinned at me. “Kong, you look like shit.” I attempted to smile, but it stung badly. She greeted me every morning with that same insult and my mug of hot coffee. My very own cybernetic insult and caffeine dispenser. I knew, she had a thing for me, was just too shy to open up properly. Anyways, I was glad to see her.
I stood up and wobbled over to her dragging the cooler behind me. She looked me in the eyes, scanned my swollen face. “I’m sure you deserved it.” Oh, come on. I winced. She took the cooler and stored it in a bullet safe compartment in her heavy duty armor. “Kong, you’re a pigheaded dumbass, and I can always count on that.” She grabbed me by the waist and turn me around abruptly. I don’t know why, but I felt my cheeks heat up. Why was I blushing? Sam Spade sprung to mind rambling on about being slapped and liking it. I heard her gear click into place, and I was tethered to Shepherd.
Wait a minute!
I wasn’t a dog on a leash and I wanted to tell her that, but swallowed instead. My tongue filled my mouth uncomfortably. Then it hit me; she had a forcefield and her very own oxygen bubble for leaving the airlock. Who was I kidding? I WAS the dumb end of the leash.
I tapped Shepherd on the shoulder and pointed at my jaw. The swelling was making it harder to swallow and to breathe. She nodded. I pointed again and she scanned. Poe’s punch did some damage. “Fine. I’ll carry you like the baby, that you are.” I would have been offended, but I was too busy holding on to Shepherd so I wouldn’t faint in front of her. Maybe if she turned around I could faint behind her. I was about to decide if I needed to put my ear to the floor, or to puke right there on Shepherd’s armor, but she picked me up and threw me over her shoulder unceremoniously like she did with the unconscious Pomona in the corridor. I saw the tip of the tranquilizer dart sticking out of her neck. That woman was a nasty piece of work.
Shepherd’s bulky body whirred and lowered herself to comfortably fit us all into the corridor. Pomona was smallish, but that wasn’t the case with me. “Progress?” Mother Goose barked over the comm. Shepherd answered for me. “Evac in progress. Change of plans?”
“No. They are bringing in the augmented suits, and you won’t be able to engage.” We heard the fast tapping of keys. “Fastest route is through the hull. Three hundred yards to your right, there is a suitable ventilation shaft. Big-K should have enough charges on him.” Mother sounded tense. Some alarms went off on his side. “You get company in twenty seconds. Twenty-eight humans, cybernetically enhanced, like yourself.” Oh, this gig keeps getting worse. “And they have some high-energy weapons.” Oh, crap. Shepherd wasn’t going to be able to protect me, nor Pomona. The ray guns pieced any kind of shielding she had, including the shielding of the small reactor that powered her.
This was bad. Who knew a cleaning company had military-grade weapons and a small army to guard, whatever the heck they were guarding.
Shepherd put Pomona and me down and extended a clawed hand. What? “Explosives, dumbass!” Oh, yeah. I was in charge of the things going kaboom- well, the thing that should go kaboom in a responsible and planned manner. I handed some mines over. “What do you say to a nice cave-in?” Shepherd grinned most satisfied. She set the charges ten yards away and came back, to cut her way straight to the pick-up point.