Finally they set foot on Thylla I.
"I'm glad the rest of the trip was uneventful." CC stretched as the trio walked down the ramp from the shuttle.
"We need to get ahold of some new gear. If the pirates finding us was anything to go by, we aren't going to go in blind again." Vic looked around and set off in the direction of a squat building.
The building was naturally a bar, the best place for intel if Vic was to be believed. After a while he came back out, a splash of blood on his cheek.
"You ok boss?" Kai asked. "Eh? Oh, that. It's not mine, somebody got a bit brave." he chuckled. "It's this way, got a line on a place where we can get some upgrades."
Some time later, Vic had aquired some custom shells for his shotgun, and the entire team got some stimpacks just in case.
"So, what do we know about this Rakuen facility?" Kai asked as he was fastening his body armor.
"Appearently, the facility has been locked down by some mercenaries that came in a week back. And before you ask, I don't know if they are the people we ran into last time, I dont know."
"Did you find out who they were?" Kai followed up with. "They are called the Void Stalkers, a fairly high end merc outfit, known to work for many of the big corps from the core." Vic replied.
"That doesn't sound great, I guess we should stake out the place before going in." CC said, thinking out loud.
Later that day, in the forests outside the Rakuen compound.
"I can see two patrols on the outside, no intel on the inside." She reported as she returned to Vic and Kai.
"From what I heard in town, the Void Stalkers had around a dozen or so people with them when they came in, but some of them were reportedly porters and support personel." Vic told his team.
"Ok, same as last time then, we try and get in and out without alerting the patrol. The mainfraime should hopefully hold some more information on project BW, and maybe we'll even be able to figure out why they came after us so hard." Vic finished, looking out over the forests hiding the entrance to their target.
"They are moving further north boss, we should get a move on." Kai looked over, than sprinted across the open ground. Stopping to catch his breath behind the rock, CC is soon panting, hands on her knees next to him.
Vic makes good pace, but trips into the clearing and only just makes into the cover of a boulder.
The sound acting like a cue, Vic stepped out from behind his cover and took aim at the very same man.
Distracted by the ringing in his ears, the soldier was hit by the majority of the darts, sending him sprawling.
Meanwhile Kai burst across the next clearing, aiming for one of the patrolmen who came running. He slashed as his target, but the merc managed to dodge and deflect his blow..
..But as he forced his foe back, he got the upper hand and slashed down savagely, catching the man in the gut. As he dropped to the ground, Kai kicks him as he wrenches the blade free, and pounces after the next merc.
The air sizzles as the fusion rifle unloads shot after shot at Kai, setting fire to the underbrush, but missing their intended target.
Kai's first slash cuts through the barrel of the gun, cutting into the merc's leg. The second stroke silences the screams as it chops through the collarbone.
Kai swings with frenzy at his attacker, but only drives him back, and CC takes a shot at the mercenary boss-lady, but her armor prooved the tougher of the two. She slips in through the doorway again though.
As soon as he is able, Vic opens fire again, turning the entrance into a abbatoir.
The two guards remaining inside the doorway are sprawled across the floor as the tungsten darts punch large holes in them.
Kai's fiercesome attacks bear fruit as his attacker falls to a well-timed one-two swipe at his legs and then his unprotected side. Spinning around the side of the building, he then plants both blades firmly into the back of the last standing mercenary.
After a few moments the silence breaks as she sees the wisdom in our heroes offer. Her rifle slides into the open doorway. "I've put down my gun, I accept your terms."
"I figure you know your way around this place?" Vic came around the outside corner, shotgun pointed at their prisoner.
"Enough to know what you might be after. Captain Bella, XO of the Void Stalkers" Bella offers a hand in a professional gesture. Vic cautiously accept the offered hand.
"Well then captain, if you would show us to the mainframe?" Kai interjected.
"That's not where you want to go."
"And why is that?" he replied.
"Because the project BW logs aren't stored there, they are in a separate lab. If want, I'll take you."
"Let's go then."
Vic and the others started following Bella as she took them further into the heart of the facility.
"Here it is. The lab that we were supposed to keep you out of." Their captive shrugged.
"I don't know why you are going after this, considering all the heat it's bringing down on you. You can still walk away you know." She added, looking at her captors.
"Kai, could you get the door?" Vic asked, ignoring the captains unspoken question.
"I'll have it open in no time." Kai started messing with the wiring inside an access panel, then promptly the doors slid open. "Open sesame!" He chuckled.
"I was given a command override to wipe the core if I couldn't stop you, but I figure I owe you since you didn't kill us all. Not everyone is as gracious a winner when facing mercs." She shot over her shoulder as she kept working.
"I'd rather not add a company of mercs to my enemies if I can avoid it." Vic looked around at the displays, running simulatory models and some sort of genetic data he didn't understand.
"CC, are you able to get any of this? It's way past my basic science knowledge."
"Well, It seems like they were trying to integrate human cells with some form of non-humanoid life, as well as bonding tech with whatever they were trying to create."
"So some Frankenstein shit is what you're saying?" Kai cut in.
"But why go to such lenghts to hide it? It's not illegal anywhere in human space anyway?" Vic mumbled, trying to make sense of it all in his head.
"There must be something fishy, otherwise they wouldn't go after us like this." CC stated, and unjacked the data stick from the terminal. "All the data available on this terminal is downloaded. we should get out of here, and find somebody to help us analyze it."
"No, wait! There is something left in the labs cryo storage!" Bella called from the terminal. "It's thawing whatever is in there!"
"You stay put, we'll have a look!" before she can protest, Vic and Kai are out the door, heading for the storage. CC quickly follows the two, checking her rifle as she jogs down the corridor.
Peering into the gloom of the lab, the trio can just make out the cryo pod's low glow.
"I can't see any thing.." Kai strained to see through the murk.
A loud hiss accompanies the door slowly swinging open.
The light from inside the pod backlit the horror stepping out into the lab, all spines and claws.
The creature is a drone, the lowest of the Swarm warrior caste. The Swarm is a ravenous species of aliens from unknown parts of space, intent on harvesting all biomass they can come across.
Before they could blink, the drone launches at Kai, knocking him into the corridor.
As he falls back, the screeching of the creature only partly masks the sound of heavy footfalls pounding across the lab floor.
Vic had just managed to get his gun clear and deciding that the drone is the bigger threat, his shotgun booms. The cloud of flechettes rips chunks out of the drone, almost severing it's head.
"Are you alright Kai?" Vic and CC shouted.
"I think so, might have broken a rib or two though." he replied
Vic turned his gun on the newcomer "Who are you, and what are you doing here?"
"Zak. I mean you no harm, the people I'm hunting have moved on it seems. I was hoping to find some data on them here before moving on."
"Fair enough, as long as you don't intend us no harm. Who are you after?" Vic tried.
"The people that betrayed me. Since I didn't find them, I'll be going now."
At this point Bella came walking in. "I saw what happened on the monitor."
As she entered, Zak stiffened, then grabbed her by the front of her vest. "Where is he! Where is Graham!" he shouted at her, lifting her off the ground and shaking her.
"Hey, put her down Zak!" Vic shouted as the trio all levelled their weapons on the newcomers.
"What do you want with him?" She asked cooly.
"He is one of the men I seek, I'll kill him!" The armored man shook with rage.
"He's not here, Our next assignment is supposed to be in a system called Quineg. He's there, but you can't go after him!" Bella is starting to turn blue. "Why?" Zak drops her uncermoniously to the ground, heaving in precious oxygen. "Because I'm going go bring him in."
"Not if I can get to him first." Zak leaves.
After securing the data and making sure they wouldn't come after our heroes again, they let her and the rest of the Void Stalkers that survived go.
"We need to sort through the data and and figure out what they were doing with the swarm creatures?" CC waved the data stick as the trio gathered to plan the next move.
"We know that the Void Stalkers are likely to show up next time too."
"Let's find a place and someone to help us sort this, then we make a plan to move on to Quineg."
"Are you okay CC?" Vic asked, concern on his face. "I'll be fine, it was a long time ago." she said woodenly.
"We can drop this if it's too hard." Vic he in the eyes as he put his hand on her shoulder.
"No, we've come to far. I'll contact some people I know, see if they can make sense of what we found."
"You and Kai should focus on raising some money for out trip, unless you can find us a ship."
"Don't worry, we'll get what we need." Kai assured her, a rogueish smile on his lips as usual.
The plan set, our trio gets to work on their assigned tasks.
What will happen as they get ready to follow the clues to the Quineg system? What will await CC on her homecoming? What were the Swarm doing in the facility, and what is project BW anyway?
Check in next time to find some of these answers!
Til next time!