Constraints: Follows 'Crystal Clear'
Synopsis: Short on super villains, the Legion and the Seals turn their attention to the South American drug cartels, only to find themselves hunting super villains again.
The Known Future
Content: A very special blend of psychology and extreme violence.
Legal: Daria = MTV, X-Men = Warner Brothers, LLH = Brother Grimace and Roentgen, Elfen Lied = Manga.
Harman Roberts entered the room and asked what the problem was. His rangers training which he now turned to the mercenary game prepared him for everything.
"It's too warm."
He opened the cabinet and it was, indeed, too warm.
He pulled it out and smelt something burning.
The burning smell would otherwise be taken out by the vent behind the unit's radiator.
He pulled the plug and pulled the unit completely free of it's alcove, he pulled a screwdriver from his pocket and removed the cover from the motor's starter. "Starter circuit's burnt."
He removed the destroyed module from the motor and stood up and said "I'll move you to a new room, and refund the drink from the mini-bar, sorry for the inconvenience."
Why the hell did these fridge manufacturers use crystals to generate their phase differential? Not like they're that short of room that they can't just use a capacitor for this.
He returned downstairs to the reception area and told the receptionist "Need to transfer the Dawson couple to a new room, refund the drink from their mini-bar, I'm going to figure out what capacitors to order, no way am I ordering a whole new fridge for how many hundred bucks when a five dollar capacitor will get it up and running again."
"Boss," acknowledged the receptionist, he then started entering the changes on his computer.
They hadn't had a customer in months. Conflicts around the world were dieing down, and that was annoying as hell, because that meant he'd soon be faced with a choice between turning his attention not the hotel full time or seeking employment with some drug cartel.
Aside from the moral implications of working for a cartel, it would also bring him in direct conflict with US or US backed forces.
Of course, that line had been crossed when they abducted those Legionnaires.
Maybe it was time to cross that line.
He had to get his instructors back though.
Two of his former green berets had been killed by Fran, the other two had been arrested along with half his force.
He was working on a plan to rescue them. They hadn't been able to revive everyone before they had to bug out, and one thing you quickly realise about the private soldier business, you had to make choices about who you break out of prison, and he had to minimise the risk by breaking out only those who were in the same prison as his most valuable assets.
He had contacts in the prison service, so he knew which prison his people were being held in, and as it happened, they were all in the same prison, so this time he had been lucky, but he needed to figure out if he could eliminate the possibility of this ever happening again.
One thing is for sure, if he rescues his people from prison, their loyalty to him would be reinforced and he would have an easier time controlling them.
He found an electronics website and looked at the capacitors on offer.
"We need an operation," said Quinn.
"Hell no, first you want us all to do makeup and now you want to-" said Daria as she fired off another PFT discharge at the cue ball. Daria and Quinn had set up a cordon around a snooker table so that they'd have to really aim as opposed to simply firing from point blank.
"No, not a surgical operation, a save the world operation," said Quinn as she walked around the snooker table, figuring out what her shot should go.
"I get it," said Daria, "but the fact there's no evil afoot at the moment is a goooood thinnnng, yeah?"
"Yeah, except you're going stir crazy again," said Quinn as she took her shot.
"Aww come on, if I were going stir crazy, I'd be painting the building with Nitrogen Tri-iodide paste," countered Daria.
With a snap and a blast of purple smoke, the PA system came to life, Brittany said "Daria, you painted my keyboard with exploding paste AGAIN!"
Daria awkwardly shrugged and said "Okay, you're right, we need some villains to kick around the world," as she started working on her next shot. "Do we have to restrict ourselves to metahuman threats? If none of our priority threat boards have any activity on them, maybe we could work on some normal criminals."
Daria's next shot potted a red ball, the cue ball also struck a blue ball, potting that, and then a second red ball before stopping behind the yellow ball from a nearby pocket. "Perfection, ha-hah."
Tom then entered the firing range, holding a knife and a fork, the utensils and his hand covered in a purple dust. Tom said "Daria, seriously, not sanitary, okay? Explosives DO NOT GO ON CUTLERY OR OTHER ITEMS MEANT FOR HANDLING FOODSTUFFS!"
"Yeah, okay," said Daria.
Then Mack entered and said "Run."
"What?" asked Daria.
"Run, now, any direction- ... Crap."
The now extremely audible string of impacts approached and Stacy entered, completely feral and completely naked, carrying a purple stained pair of panties in a purple stained hand. She pounced on Daria, snarling, holding the purple stained panties in one hand to Daria's face, her other hand squeezing Daria's throat, her fingers right up against Daria's jaw line to control where Daria could look.
"Never mind," said Mack.
"Stacy, she won't learn nothing if she's dead, let her go," said Quinn.
Stacy remained in position, snarling, Daria took no action.
"Nice view," said Tom. Mack looked at him wondering how he suddenly became stupider than George Bush Part Deux.
Stacy snapped around and locked onto Tom.
"Turn around again," said Tom, seemingly oblivious to the apparent danger.
Stacy then ran after him, Tom left.
About ten seconds later, Daria said "Let's find some street punks."
Harman Roberts hung up the phone and sat back, staring at the ceiling.
Phoning around previous employers looking for work was always frustrating, everyone was just TOO DAMN FRIENDLY these days.
He was considering carrying out attacks of his own to start something so that there would be business for him, but there was a chance one of his team would be captured and as a result, not only would no one want to hire his team, but his team would instead be hunted.
Aside from not making any money, he couldn't just come back here once he'd broken his people out of prison, he needed somewhere else to go, and that meant finding a customer that would be willing to assist him in the prison break.
Someone knocked on the door.
Harman brought up a webpage on his hotel business's bank and said "Come in."
One of his customers, a man named Waldo Noland, entered.
"What can I do for you Mr ... Noland, right?" asked Harman.
"I work for someone who would like to have some of your ... other ... services."
Potential customer or disguised agent?
Harman said "I see," before he picked up an RF sensor box and switched it on.
The structure was a faraday cage, he could turn off the only cell phone relay at the flick of a switch, but he also had to look for recording devices, anything active or metallic should show up.
The guy raised his hands and allowed Harman to scan all over.
Harman then sat back down and reached over to the consumer unit located right over his desk. He turned off the Cell phone relay. If anyone is making or receiving a call at this time, this would be an annoyance, but as long as he restored it within five minutes, there shouldn't be any complaints, especially since oly he and his staff knew the hotel had it's own relay and was RF resistant.
"I take it by your tone you're seeking to employ me and my team as mercenaries, would that be an accurate perception?"
"It is. My boss runs the west Columbian coke farms and has a few meth labs, do you have a problem working for narcotics distributors?"
"No I do not. I will need some time, however, to break some of my team out of jail, and if I could co-ordinate with your people to assist in our transport out, that should break any trail the Marshals might follow."
"We could provide assistance if you like, more than a few of us would love the opportunity to annihilate a few screws."
"Good idea, then our leaders would feel even freer to throw yet more resources into the war on drugs. I'd much rather keep this as low key as possible, soldiers dying abroad is a demoraliser, LEOs dying at home is a challenge."
"Seems strange that you would want to limit the scale of the war," said Waldo.
"I want a reputation for winning wars, a reputation for screwing up is bad for business," said Harman.
"Okay, so how do you plan to get your men out?" asked Waldo.
Harman thought about his response.
"Care to elaborate?" asked Waldo.
"Not yet." Harman said, picking up a US road atlas, he opened a page and said "Just have a Dash 7 or similar aircraft ready at this location, we'll be there in three days."
"Okay," said Waldo, as he left.
Tiffany poked her head out of the wall of the underground facility.
Well built for a meth lab.
Construction method often left a lot to be desired, usually it consisted of posts driven into the ground, planks of wood for a ceiling, and usually nothing done to keep the wood dry, but these guys had apparently gone all out to build a concrete arch, there were signs of plastic sheets between the segments, melted back, power plant in a completely separate hole.
Good levels of light, fume boxes for the more hazardous phases, eye wash stations, everything you could want when cooking up methamphetamines.
Too bad it had to be deleted.
Tiffany located the flammable chemical store and pulled her face back into the wall.
The next time she emerged from the wall, she was behind the flammable chemical store.
She ignited the satchel charge before she moved it out of the wall. The fuse had ten seconds, Tiffany had spent three already, so she pulled back into the wall and swam for it.
She emerged from the ground 20 metres away and was fully above ground before she heard the explosion.
The structural damage was likely to be minimal because the charge had detonated within the room, it had been close enough to the wall and was in direct contact with the floor so there would be a crater in both, but the main effect was that all the flammable material had been blown all over the room, and the inside was now a furnace, and the air coming in from above while the heavily carbonising exhaust rose caused this unstable pulse effect.
Another source of air was the ventilation system, if nothing else worked, that would keep the fire going.
As long as that kept going, the internal temperature would probably rise until the fire could sustain itself.
Tiffany found the rest of her team and Seaman Jack Benson said "Do we get some play on the next one?"
"Yeah, okay," said Tiffany, admitting to herself she had been somewhat selfish lately.
Next drug factory would be blown up by the rest of her team.
Dominic Greyson emerged from the bushes where he would drag his victim once he had stunned her.
His target continued on her journey, walking alone, though the park, there was no one around that could happen across before he had completed his operation.
As soon as he was close enough, he drew and fired his taser.
The woman did not fall over.
He ran to close range and use the syringe, getting within half a metre before he noticed a prickling sensation.
He continued another ten centimetres before a blindingly bright arc ignited between his syringe needle and her shoulder.
The stimulation caused him to snap the syringe in two and trip over his own feet and collide with her.
He failed to take any action before the woman was sat on top of him, she pinned his hands over his head and he felt a throbbing sensation between where her hands pinned his and where her pelvis pinned his.
"So, you're the night park rapist," said the woman.
"You're Quinn?" asked Domonic.
"Yes I am."
Quinn looked around and said "We're all alone here, if you scream, it's unlikely anyone will hear you."
He started to struggle against her. After half a minute he said "Please don't hurt me," his voice quivering with fear. His face flushed with embarrassment at sounding like one of his victims.
"Why not?" asked Quinn, increasing the voltage enough that the throbbing turned into a dull ache.
There had been news articles showing Quinn belting out enough current to blow neat holes clean through granite.
"It's interesting how invasive electrocution is, the electric current penetrates your cells between the entry point and the exit point, it stimulates muscles, it's incredibly painful, I could make you soil yourself against your will, I could mess with your heart, I could screw your brain up, and I'd be able to do it without you being able to stop me. Any other woman would have to settle for shoving a broom handle up your ass." Quinn leaned in close to his face, and he felt a prickling sensation on his lips and on the side of his nose.
After half a minute, Quinn whispered "or you could turn yourself in to the nearest precinct and save yourself a screw load of pain. What do you reckon? Prison or me? Hmm?"
"Prison, please, let me go to prison," he whimpered.
Quinn sat up and sighed, looking disappointed, saying "Okay," she stood up and gestured towards the nearest police station saying "let's go."
"And here's where we prepare our crack," said the drug dealer as he lead the cops into the kitchen.
It was a little bizarre that the drug dealers had called the cops and suddenly started talking them through their operation instead of waiting for someone to report them to the police and then putting up all this armed resistance they normally put up.
"We normally store the raw cocaine up here," he opened the wall mounted cupboard and pointed out the three 1kg packages of raw cocaine and the five 500g boxes of baking soda, the scales and the jugs, he then opened the oven where four baking trays with a white sludge in them were drying out, the oven set to 80 degrees Celsius, "this is where we dry the stuff out, we prefer electric ovens for this because gas ovens tend to be saturated with water vapour, that requires us to boil it which obviously means a load of our product ends up on the insides of the oven and the material ends up foaming or even decomposing on the underside of the tray, electric we can use lower temperatures and we end up with a denser product."
He then stood up and said "I think that's everything. ... Another thing is that I'm not usually this polite and personable, only reason I am at the moment is because a telepath is controlling me, as soon as she stops, and that'll be when she feels I'm firmly in your custody, I'm going to be physically and verbally abusive and difficult to control, so if you've seen enough to proceed with the arrest ... "
"We have," said the uniform sergeant, somewhat bemused with the situation.
"Okay then," said the drug dealer as he turned towards a wall, placing one hand on the wall and the other behind his back in anticipation.
The sergeant calmly cuffed him, talking him through his status and his rights to legal representation and to have someone informed of his arrest.
Quinn followed the serial rapist as he entered the police reception area.
He walked up to the desk sergeant and said "I'm the night park rapist, my DNA and fingerprints should confirm it, please arrest me now."
Daria entered the reception area.
She then looked to Quinn.
"There was no part of that which was not fun," said Quinn, a smug pose and highly satisfied grin on her face.
"Okay, my drug dealers should be entering the custody area in a minute."
A group of kids ran in, and announced "we're the ones that were tagging the schools, arrest us, quick."
They appeared to be soaked around the tops of their shirts and the smell of urine appeared.
Stacy entered, beaming with pride.
Daria looked to Stacy and said "Stacy ... tell me you didn't ... "
"They were leaving their mark on public property, seemed only right that I leave my mark on them."
"Ho-kayyy, you need to dial it down a bit, seriously," said Daria. As several cops entered to make the arrests.
"You can talk, Peter Logan," said Stacy.
"Yeah, but, the cops, do we hate them?" asked Daria as she looked over to the cops as they struggled to breathe around their prisoners.
"Ah ... Right," said Stacy, "it just seemed the thing to do at the time."
"Want to find more criminals, or do we knock off now?" asked Daria.
They thought about it and Stacy said "We'll pick this up again tomorrow."
They then left.
"Okay, here are your prisoners," said the warden as the prison guards emerged with the orange jumpsuit clad men.
Four of the pseudo-marshals started moving the prisoners into the back of the refurbished truck.
Harman had to make this look as real as possible. He was prepared to start killing prison guards if that was what had to happen to assure his escape.
He had the truck rigged with smoke grenades to hide himself and the truck as they depart and had a sniper set off way in the distance with a .50 rifle so prison snipers could be deleted, but what he had told Waldo was the truth: You want to limit the motivation of the US government to pour more resources into this if you can, and the cake and ass party of the war on terror was fresh enough that US involvement in south America could be seen as wasteful by enough people to show up on the surveys politicians run to decide what they want to say to get people to vote for them.
Soldiers dying abroad = reason to quit. LEOs being slaughtered at home = reason to get violent.
Everything went smoothly and he got in the truck along with the rest of his pseudo-marshals.
The sniper would wait until they were clear and he would get on his motorbike and shot off after them.
The second sniper that would keep anyone walking up to the first sniper would then get on his bike and join them.
Harman didn't know if he could trust this Waldo guy, so he had his people build a couple of aircraft to assist their travel from the US.
One new trick he had learned was how to swindle loan sharks. The people that ran his hotel when he was away knew he and his team were mercenaries, but didn't care about that, so they were happy to assist him in he odd deception if it didn't seem to dangerous and it paid well.
What they would do is they would pretend to move into an estate and pretend to apply to a bank for a loan. Loan sharks look for rejects to sell loans to. Usually those sharks would ask for absurd levels of interest that would basically keep the client paying them back until they basically died from a cardiovascular disorder.
The pride and satisfaction of putting those types in the poor house was usually as sweet as the money they make from it, Harman's people, even just the hotel workers, were just too good at staying hidden from them.
But it still didn't pay anything like what warlords were usually willing to fork out for some decent rent-a-soldiers.
Harman had learnt a thing or two from Wyatt when they had built their stealth helo, and he had applied that knowledge to the construction of two stealth aircraft. It had been surprisingly easy to construct a pair of turbofan engines, he managed to save a bunch of precision work by using a centrifuge compressor, he really didn't need to have the power plant itself all in one module, he could have the fan on the end of a long shaft, so he used a big carbon fibre fan in a big carbon fibre duct on the back of the aircraft like one of those boats you get for traversing the everglades.
That had left him a little freer in the shape of the engine, instead of having to condense the thing into a nicely streamlined pod, he could place it all over the fuselage behind the cockpit, so he had three centrifuge compressors that were rigged in series, he had heat exchanges between them where the fuel soaked the heat from the compressed air so that the compressors wouldn't melt, gave him a fantastic compression ratio, but then he still needed something capable of being rigid at 2000 Celsius.
Secondary adamantium was out of his price range, so he instead had to construct a laser capable of chucking out a couple of gigawatts, procure any scrap of tungsten carbide he could find, melt all that and cast it into something resembling a blade wheel.
It had to be a complete wheel because the CNC machines needed to make a perfectly fitting root would have cost as much as the aircraft he was trying to make.
What he was unable to build was a radar system, that required a computer, so weapons consisted of two M2s, a blacked out flashlight with cross hairs scratched off of it aimed at a plane of glass in place of a HUD, and four bodged stinger launchers that would hopefully lock onto the enemy instead of the sun or someone's chimney or even worse, the aircraft they were supposed to be protecting.
He had four qualified fixed wing pilots, and while they were happy to fly the aircraft, they dreaded having to use them in an actual fight, they had basically used traffic radar detectors to construct their RWR system, there was no way to know if their RWR would actually work since there was no need for any of them, even when they were in their regiments, to know the frequencies the air force use in their radar systems.
Hopefully their anti-AWACS missiles would work.
The anti-AWACS missile was this big ramjet powered weapon clad in stainless steel (except for it's Pyrex radome) that would locate the source of a radar pulse and follow it back to it's source. It would be passive for most of it's journey, using active occasionally until it got a strong enough signal to tell it was a couple of seconds away, and then full active so it would hit the main fuselage. It didn't have the capacity for much explosive, so they had basically placed an array of linear cutting charges around it in the hopes that one of them would slice through something vital.
It had no use for measurements of distance, it just needed a vector.
It was still a bodge job, and it was untested. Harman hoped he wouldn't need to down an AWACS, same reason as before, plus for all he knew the missile would end up going for a terrestrial TV station.
Still, if all this got him some violence, the whole reason for him quitting the army was that he wasn't getting enough actual combat for his tastes.
They came up on their first change of vehicle point.
Time to find out if Waldo was being straight up.
Charles piloted the aircraft while Daria and Jodie were on the phones to the cops as they approached the location of the prison.
The escapees had a lead of an hour.
"Don't the local cops have traffic cameras?" asked Sandi as she leaned in through the door.
"Yeah, they do, so if Harman's extraction team broke the speed limit or did something else to attract attention, we'll know where they went," said Daria, "Best bet's going to be store front cameras, we'd need cameras that are constantly on, and even then we may not get the vehicle index, we're looking for a rigid UPS truck."
"Yeah, my conversations with the police have revealed five or six UPS trucks in town at about the time of the prison break," said Jodie, "all of them rigid."
Daria dialled UPS and said "Hi, I'm Daria Morgendorffer, I'm with the Legion, I need to determine which of the rigid UPS trucks seen wasn't yours."
"Yeah?" responded Jodie to another call. ... "Right," She then turned to Daria saying "Cops just found sheets with a UPS truck skin printed on them just outside of town."
Still listening to the phone call and writing notes, Daria said "it could still look like a UPS truck, the skins could be a plant to decoy us."
"We could end up spread real thin on the ground if we're asking the cops to look for every rigid truck that happened through that town," said Sandi.
"Yeah, but I'll be able to sniff them out," said Stacy from her seat in the passenger seating area of the aircraft.
"As soon as we're subsonic, I'm going to step out and fly around, see if I can spot the truck myself," said Jane.
Normally this would be the exclusive jurisdiction of the full time US Marshals, but the Legion was interested because of their previous encounter with these guys.
Tiffany led the team along the path.
There was no reason for Tiffany to cause a disturbance in the foliage, so she simply walked through everything as she carefully scanned every square minute of view for any sign of an enemy presence.
She heard something and signalled for those behind her to stop.
There was an airy high voice singing something.
It was coming from her 1o'clock vector.
Tiffany waved everyone to her left.
She then sunk herself into the ground and advanced, hoping to identify the source of the sound.
They were about 190 metres from their next target. They were at least 500 metres from the nearest village.
Of course kids were impulsive, so-
Here was a crunching noise behind Tiffany.
She could no longer see the second SEAL in their formation. She looked around again and then headed off to try to locate the second-
"Jack!" she whispered as she found her second SEAL.
She then noticed his head was off.
Where was his head?
She felt something drop through her head and chest.
She moved back and saw Jack's head.
She looked up and around, trying to work out what was going on.
It quickly occurred to her that while she was trying to guess what was happening, the remaining two SEALs were on their way to getting dead.
"PEEL TO LZ! GO!"
The other two immediately started the peel cycle, third running while fourth shot at anywhere the enemy might be. They would switch every 30 metres.
Tiffany stayed close to them, but she was really after whoever had dismembered Jack.
She climbed up through a tree, trying to get a better view. Above the foliage and below the canopy, she had a fairly good view from 10 metres up.
She eventually identified one person following her team. The X-ray was apparently female, apparently dressed in a bright tee shirt and denim shorts. Not really interested in camouflage, is she? She also had pointy ears or horns, Tiffany couldn't tell which. She didn't really care that much either. The woman was running after her team. Anyone hearing gunfire would normally go the other way or start making hot, passionate love with the ground. Tiffany shot at the individual.
The PFT knocked the X-ray over.
Tiffany dropped down through the tree and approached.
The X-ray was hopefully unconscious, this woman was obviously super powered, telekinetic, the protrusions were horns, and Tiffany felt something pass through her.
She turned around and saw another woman, similar dress, same cranial features, Tiffany shot at her.
The woman was out of the way before Tiffany could close the contacts within the pickle button, and suddenly several trees were coming down.
Tiffany gave chase.
She eventually stopped and looked around.
She heard nothing.
She returned to the location of the unconscious woman.
She was gone.
"Great. She gets away with murder, and all I get is this lousy loss."
Tiffany returned to Jack's body and phased it and his head 1.8 metres into the ground.
She noted the GPS co-ordinates and started towards the LZ to hook up with her surviving team members.
No way she could retrieve a body AND protect herself at the same time.
Body would have to be relocated when it was safe for someone to come and do that at a later date.
She quickly came across her other two SEALs.
They were hanging around.
From the trees.
By their small intestines.
"Har-de-har, har, har!" growled Tiffany.
"This Dash 7 aircraft was spotted at these two locations at these dates, it was searched on it's way in, no drugs or other contraband, Visa said it was carrying some fashion models, a photo crew and a director for a company that no longer seems to exist and the current occupants can't ever remember seeing in their thirty years of tenancy.
"Prison break wasn't detected until the aircraft was two hundred klicks away, and then no one thought to rewind the tape and find out what aircraft were launching from the area, another thing to note was that two other aircraft were seen at about the same time, but AWACS didn't see them, so if it was Harman's people on that Dash 7 as it left, he probably had a fighter escort, Dash 7 is now out of the country, last seen headed towards Columbia," said Daria.
They were talking to each other over video phone lines, Daria and Sandi from the Gridrunner, Julia from her office, Brittany from her office.
"The US Marshals that were supposed to have issued the move order have no memory of issuing the orders, and the fakes that showed up seemed to know internal procedure down to the gesture, so I'm looking for anything in the phone records of any marshals and prison staff connected with the case," said Jodie.
"Can we pursue these guys?" asked Brittany.
"Officially and popularly, the Columbians are supposed to be in close co-operation with us. Problem is that the cartels own the courts, getting them extradited takes forever and a day, by which time, a cock-up in an attempt to transfer the prisoners between prisons or to or from court will have freed them," said Julia.
"Whole region's a mess, if Harman's people went there, they've probably got an employer," said Daria, "We go after them, we'll end up deeply involved in the war on drugs."
"Here we go," said Sandi.
"Exactly," said Daria.
"Excuse me?" asked Julia.
"I agree that substance addiction drives up crime, but I think the current doctrine of tougher sentences for simple possession is ass backwards, we need to focus exclusively on the dealers, otherwise all we do is push the addicts deeper into their addiction," said Daria.
"Dealers are harder to find, it's easier to find the addicts," said Sandi.
"It's also easier to use steroids instead of doing physical training," said Daria, "Dealers are the bottleneck, let the addicts remain free, you can follow them to the dealers."
"What if the dealers take greater care in vetting their customers?" ask Sandi.
"That'll drive down crime, and make drug dealing less profitable," said Daria. "Currently dealers don't give a screw, they have no incentive beyond maximising their profit."
"And how do we deter addicts from continuing their addiction?" asked Sandi.
"We make the substances unavailable, and we pick our battles, why the screw is cannabis illegal?" Asked Daria.
"THIS is fascinating, but ... " Julia said, trying to get everyone back on track, "we have two options if we still want to pursue these guys, we can do it above board, get the Columbians to let us work on their patch, which means the cartels know where we are at all times, or we do it under the table, enter Columbia illegally and hunt them down and hopefully not cause a diplomatic incident in the process. There's a third option: Wait for them to return to the US, which could be any time, and we have no way of finding out when that will be."
"We go after them while they're lying low, we're going to have serious trouble finding them, we need to go after them when they're attending a gig, gives us the possibility of attracting them into our field of view," said Daria.
"How do we do that?" asked Sandi.
"Cartel's own Columbia's judiciary?" asked Daria.
"Yes?" asked Sandi.
"There you go," said Daria.
"Okayyyyyyy, sounds like we're discussing something HIGHLY illegal here, so let's all meet up at Legion Tower where I can explain face to face why this is a bad idea and what kind of prison you're likely to wind up in if you breech the Bowman acts," said Julia.
"Okay, so, how do you propose we do this?" asked Julia.
"First Brittany bugs all the people that are useful to the Columbian Cartels that have jobs they shouldn't, then we use a Mk 5 Gridrunner to knock out any radar assisted air defences with the MASERs. L1 with Confinement Mist bombs to capture any enemy forces we find, anyone not operating the aircraft or planting surveillance gear on the ground to de-glue and capture as many land forces as possible, Jodie does SEAD, I do CAS, everyone else on the deck, I'll be using my powers to tell Cartel gangster from Columbian Soldier or other allied operative," said Daria, "Like it?"
"Love it," said Brittany.
"Don't we already have Radar stealth on our aircraft?" asked Julia.
"We do, but that's only good up to a point, I'll be close enough to the deck to read peoples minds, but I need to be sufficiently high off the ground in order for the confinement mist bombs to function, puts me well into the range of triple A and most SAM systems, anyone using a shoulder launched fox 2, I'll just have to read and strafe with my PFTs," said Daria.
"Where do we stick our captives?" asked Julia.
"Somewhere where the Columbian Army can find them, that way we start people talking to people we're interested in," said Daria.
"Nice," said Jodie.
"Okay, here's a question: What if we get caught?" asked Jane.
"What if someone manages to kill us, what if we get complacent one day on an operation, or even when we're crossing the road?" asked Daria. "This is our best chance to get these guys, we leave them, they're only going to be an even bigger problem later, once we have them, we're out of there."
"Okay, this is what I don't get about you Daria, you'll basically avoid finding a boyfriend or looking good like the plague, that all scares you for some reason, yet you're all over insane risks when it comes to operations," said Sandi.
"And I don't get you being the other way around," said Daria.
"Excuse me? I'm as much of an action diva as you are, I just also go out and meet people too," said Sandi.
"Which makes you half as productive as me," said Daria.
"Even with three of you," said Daria.
"Yeah," "Right," "Whatever," said the Sandis.
"We have a go already?" asked Jane.
"Ummm, ... sure," said Brittany.
"Okay, we're here, who do we talk to about operations?" asked Harman as he stepped off the back of the aircraft.
"That would be me, but I get my orders from someone else," said Waldo.
"Okay, got anything for us now?"
"Relax, take a load off, mr ... "
Harman felt himself tighten up with irritation when he hear the voice of Buck Conroy, editor of Brutal Mercenary Magazine.
Harman glared at Waldo, pointing his thumb at Buck for a second before turning and saying "Okay, Buck."
"That's General Conroy, Major."
'Yeah, right, General' Harman thought as he forced himself to snap to attention and salute the prick as opposed to Prince Albert-ing him with a bullet. "My apologies, general, but don't you think it would be a good idea to start thinking about the battle space and the enemy's likely activity while we're waiting for orders to arrive?"
There was a reason Harman hadn't promoted himself to a higher rank after he had started his own private army, and that was because he was qualified to be a major and to promote anyone below him up to his rank. Unless he had some way of being certified as having the skills and knowledge to be of a higher rank, he would be kidding himself if he was to take on a rank he couldn't be certain he was qualified for.
Buck Conroy, on the other hand, had not gotten beyond private first class, had not passed selection when he had tried for Green Berets (you need people skills for Green Berets, Buck had displayed no such skills and zero maturity, and that was something his own green berets had mentioned right when he had first started), and Harman could see familiar faces that had appeared next to Conroy in magazine articles and in Conroy's magazine, and was further tempted to shoot Conroy.
"There'll be time for that later, mean time, beer and snacks in that hanger over there," Buck pointed over to one of the hangers on the small airfield.
Harman looked where Buck was pointing, and then asked "What about sleeping areas? Same building?"
"Nah, the one to the left," said Buck.
"Understood, anything else?"
"Nah, that's all, you can get on over there," said Buck.
"Sir," acknowledged Harman as he saluted and turned away, he waved his men to follow him as he headed over to the sleeping hanger.
He also waved for Waldo to follow him.
"I take it you're not impressed with Buck Conroy," said Waldo as he followed.
"To say the least, he couldn't make E2, he's certainly not O10 material, you want your operations to succeed, you're going to have to use your authority as our employer to supersede his and follow my advice," said Harman, "I dread to think what his officer corps is like," Harman added with a shudder.
"Okay, but how do I know you're not falsifying your credentials?" asked Waldo.
"You have contacts inside the US DOJ?" asked Harman.
"Yes," said Waldo.
"You should have my war record, now I'm a fugitive, it should be on every BOLO in every precinct in the US or Interpol member states," said Harman.
"Okay, fair enough, to be honest, my orders to hire you came from higher up," said Waldo.
"Okay, well, if your higher ups don't want to reveal themselves, that's fine, I've worked under such conditions before, and I understand the paranoia that goes with unlawful operations. But I do insist on full operational intel and would like to start getting my head in the game as soon as possible, and I'd like to get my green berets in charge of training up anyone Buck hasn't unrealistically promoted over us as soon as possible.
"Like I said before, I like having a reputation for victory, and that'll be a lot easier to achieve if I'm not having to carry Buck's dead weight with me, and using people for cannon fodder is bad for morale and subsequently performance, so, please get me maps and start rotating his men through my command as early as possible."
"Okay," said Waldo as he left.
Waldo entered his office in the administration building attached to the control tower.
"I see Harman's people have arrived," said Valerie, one of the proxies.
Waldo startled and looked up to the ceiling where she had attached herself. "Yeah, and I really wish you wouldn't do that. I also had the mine set up where you specified, what do I tell Roberts regarding your boss? He's likely to walk if he senses we're messing him around or throwing him and his forces into a suicide mission."
"Well, you might as well fill him in then," said Valerie.
"Okay. Where's Sal? Just you two usually show up together," said Waldo.
"Intangible SEAL turned out to be a problem, she'll be fine," said Valerie as she lowered herself from her ceiling. She left the building and headed off.
Daria tightened the sway braces on the last bomb and walked around the aircraft, checking that none of the bombs could move around. The load out included four triple racks that carried 12 bombs each, the confinement mist bombs didn't really need to be that big, they were half the length of a Mk81, same diameter, way less the weight, the remaining two hard points were taken up by the biggest drop tanks Daria could take off with.
Bombs were essentially fibreglass shells that the fuse would fit into, fuses were basic proximity fuses, no need for the bomb itself to have any explosive components, the way the bomb was constructed, the shock wave from the fuse would be sufficient to shred the shell and disperse the confinement mist. Bombs looked similar to any normal bomb except they were grey with a violet band around the nose. Most the Legion ordnance was that way, incapacitating, they also had HARMs and some air-air weapons, that was about as close as they came to conventional ammunition.
That complete, she checked off the box on the form and then started the pre-flight check.
Brittany had recruited Fran, who was staying at Xavier's place, to assist her in bugging the possibly corrupt officials in Columbia.
Basically the two of them would run to all the offices, Brittany would hide Fran as Fran shrinks the pair of them under doors and into phones and other systems, and it would suddenly become a lot easier to locate anyone that receives a call from any of these individuals.
Daria entered the conference room again.
"Aircraft's just about ready," said Daria, "I'm thinking I super cruise at 70 angels direct most of the way and then drop to floor hugging level just before I hit Venezuela, I should be able to fly there and back and I should have a total of a minute of burner time before bingo, a further half minute if I want to get to a US airfield, Jodie leaves about an hour after I do, she should catch up just as I enter Columbia, sound good?"
"Yeah," said Jane.
"Then I get everyone to the ground," said Betty.
"And I cook any radar that switches on," said Jodie.
"Want some coffee? I made a fresh pot," said Jane.
"Piss off," said Daria, she then turned and left saying "See you in the battle space."
Daria powered up the aircraft, went through the post-start up list, and then Stacy signalled for Daria to check the master arm was off.
Daria did this and signalled back that it was off.
Stacy and Charles went through the stray voltage checks, and eventually they got to arming the bombs.
Eventually Stacy signalled that the aircraft was fully armed and that Charles was now clear.
It was time to go.
Tiffany finally gave up on salvaging the sat phone from the wreckage. Tiffany had a device that would allow her to call for a ride, but anything more than calling for a ride would have to be done over a secure satellite phone, and that could not be allowed to fall into enemy hands. She had found bits of a case, but she doubted she could find enough parts of it to piece it back together again (her intangibility powers allowed her to weld things just be phasing them through each other), so that was definitely not an option.
Helo pilots are trained to hover 2ft off the ground so that they don't land on a mine, and yet this helo seemed to have landed on a mine.
Tiffany was going to board the helo when it arrived and report in, the rest of her team was gone, the enemy had telekinetics working for them, she needed a replacement team.
So, she's waiting at the edge of the field, Helo's inbound, it's just emerged over the trees lining the opening in the forest, and suddenly there's this blast from the ground and the helo's a flaming holy wreck with no rotor blades attached.
How many of these mines were there?
Tiffany checked the rest of the clearing.
No other bombs.
That bomb would have posed a hazard wherever it was placed, the rocks were the size of melons, that's a much higher terminal velocity than what you get with even gravel or railway ballast.
But this bomb had been exactly under the flight path.
This bothered Tiffany deeply.
It occurred to her that she should try to locate the remains of the fuse.
She wasn't sure what it would tell her, but it seemed important to her to sort this out.
"Sandman Gizmo, comm check, over," said Jodie.
"Gizmo Sandman, you're five by five, time on target five minutes, altitude five cherubs AGL," said Daria.
"Sandman Gizmo, have that, I'm listening for threats," said Jodie.
Jodie could operate both the Gridrunner and the sensors simultaneously while also targeting the Masers at any threat.
Only problem was she needed to be at considerable altitude to give any kind of cover, and she would also need to dive a lot of the time because the Masers could only skew their effects by so far. Above all, that means getting subsonic, and the Gridrunner really didn't like being subsonic at 80 angels. Jodie would have perfectly good attitude control because the Gridrunner, being a vertical flight capable aircraft, had reaction control thrusters, she'd just have the glide slope of a mass concrete pad stone.
Sally watched the time on her watch as she inserted her key into the master arm on the hell box.
"ARMING NOW! TAKE COVER!"
She waited about five seconds before she turned the key.
"FIRING IN TEN, NINE, EIGHT, SEEN, SIX, ... FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE," she then turned her head away, plugging her ear with one finger before flipping the switch.
Jodie was looking down at her instruments trying to find a Radar system that wasn't part of a commercial or Columbian military establishment.
It didn't occur to her to look at the weather radar because weather is generally irrelevant to the Gridrunner, especially at this altitude.
Which meant she missed the huge lump of goo located right in their flight path.
The sudden deceleration caught everyone by surprise, luckily there was no reason for anyone to be standing up and they were all strapped in.
Unfortunately, "core engines dead, APU dead, control surfaces immobile, QUINN, NEED YOU TO PLUG IN!"
"Right," said Quinn. She pushed a button on the underside of her seat and two metal posts extended up from the armrests.
Quinn grabbed the posts and supplied power to the aircraft.
Jodie tried to spin the fans using Quinn's power in the motor. Quinn didn't have three hands, so the aircraft used an alternator to generate the three phase supply the motors would then use to drive the fans.
It wasn't working.
"Fans ineffective, I'm going to use the ion drive," said Jodie.
That wasn't working either.
"Ion drive ineffective, going to try to melt or burn through this gunk with the masers."
It then occurred to Jodie to mention all this to Daria.
"Mayday, mayday, mayday, Gizmo's in freefall, no attitude control, attempting to burn through with masers."
"Gizmo Sandman, have that, diverting to safe area, over" responded Daria as she turned around.
Suddenly the AAA and SAM lights illuminated.
"Not working," said Jodie, she then turned off the Masers and said "WE'RE AT THIRTY ANGELS, QUINN JANE MACK AND BETTY, GET OUT THERE AND CLEAR THAT CRAP OFF OUR AIRCRAFT!"
They got out of their seats and gathered together, putting on oxygen masks which had about 10 minutes of oxygen (several times what they would need anyway), and Betty teleported them outside.
Daria was running out of decoys. She was turning hard to strafe as many of the SAM and triple A sites as possible before she completely ran out.
If she could clear at least this part of this valley of EAD then she wouldn't need to use up any more of her decoys, she could then start working outwards from this valley, popping up over the ridge just long enough to strafe a position and ducking back down before the enemy could respond.
They cleared most of the material off the aircraft, Jodie now had dynamic flight control surfaces to call upon, Jodie used them to maintain the maximum AOA she could without stalling, that just left the engines, Jane positioned them behind the aircraft and Quinn started burning through the goo that had somehow enveloped the entire aircraft.
They would need the fans to be free to move in order to employ the reaction control thrusters, and that just was not happening, so Quinn was just going to clear out the exhaust barrels so the ion drive would become available.
As soon as Quinn completed one exhaust barrel, Mack got inside and cleared the way up to the ramjet doors, allowing the ion jets to draw air from the front.
Eventually Quinn had completed her work on the second engine and Betty beamed her in, Mack entered the other exhaust barrel and cleared the ramjet ducts out, and then he got clear and Betty teleported him back inside.
Quinn was seated and supplying power, Jodie tried the ion thrusters again.
Jodie levelled out and climbed hard.
SAM and AAA lights lit up.
Daria strafed another SAM site and ducked down again.
She had three more outstanding on that side.
The AI light lit up.
"I think that was confinement mist," said Quinn.
"I concur," said Jodie.
"Gizmo Sandman, bandit, bandit."
"Christ," said Betty.
"Sandman Gizmo, have that," said Jodie, she inverted the aircraft and located Daria.
Jodie saw a trail of smoke and located the aircraft that had launched the missile. She wasn't getting any real radar echo off of it, but inverting the radar picture gave the targeting picture a moving hole in the ground to lock on to.
She used the masers and a jet of flame shot out to top of the aircraft.
"Sandman Gizmo, splash one," said Jodie as she pulled out, they weren't capable of moving slow enough for Jodie to remain in a steep dive for very long.
"Gizmo Sandman, have that," said Daria, she then noticed movement ahead of her.
She realised immediately it might be another enemy aircraft and turned at it. She couldn't acquire it on radar, but PFTs worked at the speed of light, and had a straight line trajectory, so all she had to do was get the reticule on the target and fire.
That she did.
"Gizmo Sandman, splash one," said Daria as she made to get back within the protection of the valley.
It was at this point that the RWR detected an AAA site almost directly under her.
Half a second later, about the only things that were working was the comm system and the ejector seat.
"Mayday-mayday-mayday, Sandman ejecting."
"CRAP!" said Jodie, "WHAT THE SCREWING HELL'S GOING ON TODAY? BETTY, GET EVERYONE EXCEPT QUINN DOWN STAIRS AND RETRIEVE DARIA!"
"BOSS!" Acknowledge Betty as he and everyone got up again and they all teleported down.
Daria ditched her parachute in favour of her flight ring.
Realising she was vulnerable to snipers and AAA, she dropped below the forest canopy and drew her PFT M2, once she landed she removed her helmet.
'Gizmo Sandman, receiving, over?' thought cast Daria through the ring.
'Sandman Gizmo, rescue's in progress, stay below the canopy, you're in danger from snipers and AAA, over.'
'Really? Hadn't thought of that,' thought Daria without thought casting, she simply replied 'Gizmo Sandman, have that, landing now, over.'
'Sandman and Gizmo from Betty, our superpowers are being suppressed, we're no longer super powered, over.'
'Betty Gizmo, have that, searching now.'
'All Call signs from Sandman, converge on crash, over,' said Daria.
Harman and his men advanced on the ridge that Daria had been hiding behind.
Three of Conroy's fire teams were on his left flank, and they were moving too fast.
"HEY!" shouted Harman.
When they looked back, he signalled for them to form a line left of him.
They looked off to his left, thinking he was pointing something out.
"You're moving too fast, are you even looking for trip wires?"
"Dude, we're dealing with abberents who lost their powers, they're lost."
Harman was tempted to just let them blunder into whatever trap lay ahead. 'Abberant', kinda like 'Freak', disrespectful and (probably inaccurately) implies mental incapacity, you disrespect your enemy at your own peril, the enemy may not underestimate you the way you underestimate them and like you, your enemy is playing to win.
He eventually decided "You know what? Go ahead, do what you want, I'll try to rescue you once I've subdued the Legionnaires, just don't make them use lethal force."
This was one of the reasons Harman wanted to train up Conroy's men, the problem was that they didn't have the time, their advisor had told them this attack was imminent and they had to be fielded right now.
The Cartel had the advantage right now, but that could change in an instant if they screwed up, Harman had cautioned everyone to look out and that the Legion had been trained by a Marine Special Forces Officer, and Conroy went ahead and called Harman a Gloom and Doom monger, and gave everyone an idiotic pep talk. The two metas, Val and Sal, weren't impressed either. They did have a very good plan to start off with though, Harman couldn't think of any way to improve upon it beyond postponing it to train everyone else up (which hadn't been an option), which made Harman wonder about their boss, was he or she former or current military?
All Harman could do was exactly what he said he didn't want to do: Use the idiots as cannon fodder. It was going to happen either way.
He signalled for his men to form a line along his 1:30 vector, that should get them into position to hit the legion when they respond to Buck's idiots.
After setting up the trip wire, Betty, Sandi, and Jane brought their ends to Daria and they threaded them through the ring and tied them to individual rocks, she then tied them to the loop in the string holding the rock that would trigger the trap.
They then moved on, careful not to tread on the trip wire.
"How much brown string do we have left?" asked Betty.
"Enough for two more, then we'll have to rig the devices for command detonation, that's going to fix our own movements," said Daria as she picked up one of the remaining bombs.
"I hate that," said Betty.
Three Cartel members were guarding one of the metajammers.
They were set up to repel any approaching Legionnaires.
They had spent hours setting up dangle traps.
They had also had to bury the device and the generator in order to hide it from the Gridrunner's radar system.
They had also set up their gun positions with mirrors rather than sand bags, that turned out to be a really effective means of camouflage, until they opened up with their MG42s, they would be perfectly concealed.
They shouldn't have been so easily spotted, but they got knocked out anyway.
When they woke up, they were tied up and gagged with their own socks. Actually, it was each other's socks. They no longer heard the generator.
A woman dressed for jungle warfare stood over them, holding a PFT M4.
"Took your time waking up," said the woman, "one of you will be coming with me, we're going to shut down every one of these metajammers or I spend all day torturing the crap out of you, the sooner you comply, the less pain you'll feel."
She approached one and removed his gag.
"Deal?" she asked.
"What do you know about torture? You're nothing like my boss, as you'll find out when we have you in our custody."
"Okay," said the woman as she stuffed the gag back into his mouth.
She then dragged him out and tied his feet to a 'technical', a truck with a 12.5mm machine gun on it.
She then started it and slowly drove on.
Feeling the ground moving under him, he realised that if she moved at a mere 10mph, he'd break ribs, his arms, his hands would be a bony pulpy mess, his pelvis, his skull.
She stopped and got out.
She removed the gag again and asked "Scared yet?"
He wasn't quite ready to admit he was, and said "You're not used to the kind of brutality of this country, you grew up in America, where-"
The women pushed the gag back into his mouth and throttled him, calmly saying "your assumptions are based on a false premise about my character and my life experiences, two of my more recent experiences being seeing the rest of my fire team slaughtered and seeing a Legion jet being splashed by the same forces that killed my team, and I have friends in the Legion, friends I care deeply about. friends you are currently endangering. I am not happy."
The woman got back in the truck and started driving again, accelerating hard.
He had to force himself to hold his head up as she drove a little faster this time, he felt a couple of rocks in the path break three of his fingers and another rock dislodged his elbow cap, he pissed himself as the bends in the road pulled him off to the side where the trees lived, forcing him to push his arms out to the side to keep from rolling face down. He pissed himself as the pain from his arms colliding with the trees flooded his senses with pain.
The woman stopped again and got out again.
Panic was setting in now.
She removed the gag, saying "if you die, I'll return you to your buddies after a long drive around and hook one of them up. There'll be no way to tell how many of your injuries are pre mortem or post mortem, therefore no way to tell how long it took for you to die."
She waited about twenty seconds before moving to push the gag back in.
"OKAY! I'LL HELP YOU!"
"Good choice," she said as she produced a map.
Harman heard an explosion.
He then saw the air ahead fill with a mist that seemed to be pouring down from above and then solidify.
"Yep." He then pressed the talk button on his earpiece and said "All call signs from Brown Recluse Zero One alpha, be advised, the Legion have retrieved the bombs off their fighter bomber, so pay attention to everything around you, over."
The Legionnaires were set up in a defensive pattern.
Once all the bombs had been used, they would need to counterattack for their own safety, that was the reason they didn't want to be pinned down, but until Jodie could locate and knock out the metajammers, they couldn't do anything else.
Each Legionnaire had a string to pull to set off the bomb, the bombs had been set up in the trees and the strings were tied to the remains of the arming wires, as soon as the wires leave the proximity fuses, they arm with the ground well within the range within which the fuse is set to detonate.
'Gizmo, Sandman, how's it going, over?'
'Sandman Gizmo, no joy, I am making good on my previous commitment on SEAD, over.'
'Have that, over' said Daria.
They heard movement to their east.
That was Sandi's field of fire.
Sandi was in semiautomatic mode, she tapped off a few shots.
Eventually she heard someone fall over.
She then heard something in Spanish.
She then started seeing muzzle flashes and pulled back behind the tree she was using. There were at least ten people in her field of fire, she considered that enough to justify the bomb.
She pulled the string and heard the explosion.
She then heard a load more Spanish dialogue and some movement.
She leaned around her tree to try to locate anyone not within the reach of the confinement mist cloud.
She shot four people and advanced further.
Two more advanced into Daria's field of fire and the remaining two stopped when they saw their friends drop and opened fire.
Luckily their shots were way too high while Sandi aimed at them and knocked them out.
Everyone else's Field Of Fire filled up fairly quickly after that.
'All call signs from Gizmo, I'm guessing, but I think if you peel south west, that should take you clear of their kill zone sooner, when you're ready, I'll strafe ahead of you with my masers, bit of luck, feeling their flesh cook should make them run like screw and reveal them to you,' said Jodie.
'Gizmo Sandman, have that,' said Daria.
The last bomb was eventually set off.
'Gizmo Sandman, ready to move, you have control,' said Daria.
'Gizmo Sandi, what's your supposition based on, over?'
'They seem to have a precog, they predicted movements we didn't know we were going to make until we got here, time on target five seconds,' said Jodie.
"Sandi, prepare to move," said Daria.
At one second, Daria said "MOVE" as she fired off level three shots in skip mode, the mode would allow her to target individuals she sees, but would also harass their senses with shock waves.
The legionnaires peeled south west as planned.
The alarming warmth in his skin had panicked Harman into retreating south, he knew that only two things caused such a sensation, ionising radiation, and microwave radiation, and neither was particularly good. The Mk 5 Gridrunners had masers, and apparently that confinement mist bomb had not been as effective as they would have liked.
The instant that sensation faded, he stopped.
"All Brown Recluses from zero one alpha, halt and set ambush."
He also set himself up in wait.
He had heard a number of explosions ahead of him, that had to mean they were close to where the Legionnaires ad set up their defence.
There was no way to sense people with radar through foliage, so the pilot in the Gridrunner HAD to have been clearing the way.
The Legion were trying to break out of the kill zone.
The massive enemy forces on the Legion's tail would be prompting them to run fast.
"Zero One Alpha from Zero Four, have two X-rays in view, two more approaching, they should appear in front of you in the next 20 seconds, over."
"Zero Four from Zero One Alpha, have that, all Brown Recluses stand by to open fire."
This was going to work, provided no screw ups, and Harman had the utmost confidence in the marksmanship of his people and their discipline.
He saw movement at his two o'clock, Zero Three should have them.
He remained perfectly still. Whatever his camouflage was like any movement on his part would destroy any advantage he had.
Two more legionnaires appeared ahead of him, Mack and Stacy. Zero Two could have those.
Next two to appear were Daria and Sandi, these two were his, he lined his reticule up on Daria, Sandi was facing away, he could guarantee Daria would die, Sandi might acquire him the instant he opened fire, his weapon was suppressed in order to delay discovery, suppressors were essential in jungle warfare, your field of view is extremely limited, so you don't know where the enemy that'll hear you is.
Daria and Sandi stopped.
Daria and Sandi both turned and knocked him out.
'Tiffany, Daria, do you need extraction?' Thought cast Daria.
'Yes please,' thought Tiffany.
A couple of seconds later, Betty appeared next to her, grabbed her, and then they were both on the Gridrunner Mk 5.
Just about all the seats were now occupied by unconscious mercenaries.
Betty disappeared again and reappeared with another bound up mercenary.
Sandi emerged from the rear compartment and said "Hey Tiffany, we're just about done grabbing those mercenaries, anywhere we can drop you off?"
"There's a carrier at seventy-fourteen-twelve west, fourteen-forty five-two north, I've been trying to return there for the last day now."
"Anyone else with you?"
Tiffany eventually said "yes."
Sandi asked "any injuries?"
Tiffany eventually said "they're dead."
"Crap, sorry to hear that."
"Well, you're not dead," said Tiffany.
Eventually Betty and Daria appeared in the aircraft. Betty disappeared again.
"Two outstanding, they're the ones in the fighters, they're within the coverage of the remaining superpower jammers, so we're going to take the ones we've got here to prison," said Daria.
Betty reappeared with Mack and Jane and disappeared again.
"Pretty good considering how we started," said Daria, "that was pretty tight though, a hundred milliseconds later, half of us would have been dead, the other half probably would have been dead alongside."
Betty reappeared with Stacy and Julia and disappeared again.
Tiffany glared at Harman, stepping close to him and leaning against the seat in front of him.
Betty reappeared with Charles and said "That's everyone."
Jodie said "Okay, returning to base."
Harman woke up.
"Hello, Harman," said Tiffany.
"Crap," said Harman.
"Yeah, crap, and you're cranium deep in it. ... There are two girls with cat ear like horns poking out their heads, they have telekinetic powers, have you encountered them?"
"Do I get time off if I tell you?" asked Harman.
"I have a better prise," said Tiffany.
Tiffany then reached into his chest. Harman looked alarmed.
"Who are they?" asked Tiffany.
Harman didn't respond.
Jane asked "Tiffany, what are you doing?"
Tiffany didn't answer and Harman felt a pressure build in his heart, as if it was having to work harder to beat.
The lower half of his body started to feel cold.
"What did they do to you?" asked Harman.
"They killed my team, Harman, are they worth possible tissue necrosis?"
"TIFFANY!" shouted Jane.
"Tiffany, I have to agree with Jane, ease up, this is something for him to plea bargain for, okay?" said Daria.
"Daria, Jane, button it!" said Tiffany, "those two telekinetics are a threat to SOCOM operations, and so is that precog."
"I can't help you," said Harman.
"YOU'RE NOT WORKING FOR A STATE, YOU'RE WORKING FOR A DRUG CARTEL, THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE PROTECTING?" asked Tiffany.
"My reputation," said Harman.
Tiffany pulled on the blood vessel she was pinching shut and said "YOU FEEL THAT? ALL I HAVE TO DO IS TUG JUST A LITTLE HARDER AND YOU ARE DEAD!"
"We all go through the escape and evasion exercise in one form or another," said Harman, "your menaces are irrelevant."
Tiffany scowled and pulled down hard.
Betty appeared and disappeared with Harman almost instantly.
"NO!" yelled Tiffany as she ran through Daria to the back of the aircraft.
She didn't find him there.
She turned to Daria and said "HE NEARLY KILLED YOU! WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?"
Daria and Jane shared the same look of annoyance.
"THAT'S THE THANKS I GET? HOW DO YOU THINK I LOCATED THOSE JAMMING BEACONS? YOU SAID SO YOURSELF YOU WERE A TENTH OF A SECOND FROM BEING KILLED BY THAT RAT BASTARD!"
Ten seconds later, Betty reappeared.
"He has a slight arrhythmia, but the Corpsman said he'll live."
Tiffany went for the nearest prisoner.
Betty disappeared, reappeared behind Tiffany and then they both disappeared.
"WHERE IS HE?" asked Tiffany as she started running through the bulkheads of the destroyer.
A US Marine private who had been standing there drew his gun and asked "WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?"
"Relax, I'm NATO affiliated. Can't tell you much beyond that as it's compartmentalised, sorry," said Betty.
Tiffany reappeared saying "HE'S NOT HERE!"
"YOU THINK I'D TAKE YOU TO HIM?" asked Betty.
"I'LL KILL YOU!" said Tiffany as she went for him.
Betty teleported to a position four metres behind Tiffany along the corridor.
Tiffany reached into the marine standing there, alarming the private.
Betty nodded saying "you'd kill your own to pressure me to talk?"
Eventually Tiffany looked at the marine private and slowly withdrew her hand.
Other marines appeared from the ends of the corridor, all drawing their guns and pointing them at the intruders, shouting at them to show their hands.
When they stopped, Betty said "If you're calm now, I'll teleport you to the tower. We're not going anywhere near the aircraft, I can't trust you not to try to kill any of the other prisoners. I'm sorry you lost your mates in action, but that comes with the territory, YOU CAN NOT LOSE CONTROL LIKE THAT! ... NOT ... EVER!"
Eventually Tiffany walked over to Betty.
She turned away from him, and he stepped forward and touched her back.
They appeared in a Legion Tower conference room.
They stood in silence for a couple of minutes.
Eventually Tiffany said "I guess I'd better not be here when they get back."
"I could talk to them, try to calm them down, but I think you're out of the reserves too," said Betty.
"Why the hell couldn't they have let me kill him?" asked Tiffany.
"LEO doctrine: Protect your prisoner," said Betty.
Tiffany chuckled for a few seconds and said "I wonder if I could have screwed things up any worse? I don't think I could, but did I miss anything?"
Betty said "I don't think I can help you any more. ... I'm going to try to smooth things over. ... You going to be okay?"
Tiffany said "No ... ... go on."
Betty eventually teleported out.
Tiffany said to herself "Well, at least I settled things between Daria and Jane."
About a minute later, Tiffany walked to the nearest elevator.
"YOU SENSED IT, SHE WAS GOING TO KILL HIM!" said Jane.
"YEAH, BUT THAT WAS IN AN INTERROGATION, I'M TALKING ABOUT COMBAT SURVIVAL," replied Daria.
"WHAT HAS COMBAT SURVIVAL GOT TO DO WITH PRISONER ABUSE?" asked Jane.
"WHAT HAS PRISONER ABUSE GOT TO DO WITH COMBAT SURVIVAL?" asked Daria.
As Jane and Daria relaxed into an argument, Betty turned to Stacy and said "I know Tiffany's out of the reserves too, and you got procedure to follow, any reason you can't remain on friendly terms with her?"
"Friendly terms? Betty, she attempted murder, and I'm guessing here, but that ALSO goes against the SEAL manual, doesn't it?" replied Stacy.
" ... ... A little," admitted Betty.
"WELL THEN WHY SHOULD I BE HER FRIEND AT ALL?" asked Stacy.
"Because if several Legionnaires got killed in front of you and the guy who did it ended up in your custody, you'd be tempted too, would you not?" asked Betty.
"SO WHAT SHOULD I DO?"
Betty thought about it. Eventually he said "Help her." He then looked at the prisoners sat all around them and said "Come on," as he walked to the cockpit.
Tiffany stepped off the elevator on the basement floor of the Legion Annex, her bags in tow, and met Stacy.
"I'd have been out of here sooner, but I had to rent a trailer," said Tiffany as she continued on to her car.
"Betty talked to me about you," said Stacy.
"Improve your mood any?" asked Tiffany.
"Daria's testimony plus the corpsman on the aircraft carrier would be sufficient to put you away. Even received a phone call from your CO talking about starting a JAGNAV investigation into your attempt to murder Retired Major Harman Roberts."
"Crap," said Tiffany.
"Indeed," said Stacy. "I managed to get it halted. You're valuable enough that as long as you receive counselling from an approved shrink and complete the course of treatment, the investigation remains frozen. If it ever thaws, there's enough to secure a conviction, and you're too much of a security risk for Leavenworth, so ... "
"Right," said Tiffany. The other places she might end up include 'The John' (as in 'Smells like a') in Puerto Rico, tropics and skimping on the sewage system in favour of the security measures made it smell like an open sewer, 'The Kiln' in Arizona, the luxury that got cut there was decent air conditioning, and 'The Well' in Alaska, this facility was deep underground and drew energy off a geothermal system, so heat wasn't a problem, heating things was usually easier than cooling it. That was the most secure metahuman prison, that's where she'd be serving out her sentence if she ever received one.
Stacy eventually said "Daria seemed to sympathise with you for some reason, hid by her piss poor attempt to resemble a logical Vulcan, but she seemed to be arguing against Jane on policy to distract Jane from your misdeed."
"I suppose it would be inappropriate to offer my gratitude for her sentiments," said Tiffany.
"That's Daria for you," said Stacy.
Tiffany eventually asked "Is it likely I'll ever be welcome if I show up for Christmas or birthdays or whatever?"
"We'll see," said Stacy.
"Right. ... Bye."
Tiffany continued on to her car and packed the remaining cases in her trailer.
She then sat in her car and turned the power on.
She programmed the satellite navigation system with the post code for a storage company so she could stick her kit somewhere safe while she decided where she would ...
She sat back and tried to work out why she was even crying, it's not like she had been back that often since she had enlisted, let alone after she passed selection for SEAL.
Stupid anger management issues.
How the fornicate did that even start anyway?
Eventually the tears stopped flowing and Tiffany did up her seatbelt.
She started the engine and looked around, pressing the clutch down and selecting 1st.
She released the handbrake and set off, turning towards the car park exit. The device controlling the electromagnetically actuated block of concrete recognised her vehicle and the block dropped into the road, letting her out.
She emerged from the tunnel and was on her way to her new home.
But first she had to pull over at the nearest lay by so that her damn tear ducts could finish discharging AGAIN!
Not that she was in any danger from anything she might collide with, her ability had developed to the point where she could make the car and trailer intangible, but other drivers she phased through would likely kill themselves after they enter what they think is a collision. Stacy was right about one thing: Tiffany needed a shrink.
Sal and Val entered the airport's administration building and found themselves surrounded by a number of very irate gangsters, Waldo among them.
"What happened?" asked Val, her tone showing annoyance rather than fear.
"We lost," said Waldo.
"How?" asked Sal.
"Someone took out our metajammers," said Waldo.
"How'd that happen?" asked Val.
"Maybe someone told that SEAL where they were," said Waldo.
"Like that sentry who ran off with your technical after his buddies saw him being dragged off by aforementioned SEAL?" asked Sal.
"No way would one of our people betray us like that," said Waldo, "they're too aware of how we deal with traitors."
This was a moment when both Diclonii felt like they needed an aspirin.
"You, along with the rest of the screwing planet, do not have a monopoly on torture," Val finally said.
"Yeah? Maybe you'll have a different view on the matter shortly before we kill you," said Waldo.
"That's a statement of intent to detain and attack us, is it?" asked Sal.
Both Diclonii then realised that they couldn't use their vectors. The look of annoyance on their faces was apparently apparent to Waldo because he said "We didn't tell you about that jammer, did we."
"No, you didn't," said Val.
The gangsters closed in on them, prompting Val and Sal to roll their eyes in disdain.
Two minutes later.
"You know how the Legion had a Force Recon Marine train them?" asked Val.
"Nes?" asked Waldo, barely breathing through his mouth as blood from his nose poured down his throat.
"So did we, we didn't tell you about that, did we?" asked Sal.
"Oh, oou iii-and," replied Waldo.
Sal and Val then shot him with the guns they had captured.
They looked around the room full of dead cartel members.
Val then pulled her satellite phone.
She dialled her boss.
"Hi Val, just saw Harman's mercenaries in Leavenworth, what happened?"
"That screwing SEAL turned off all the jammers, and Waldo blamed us," said Val, "foresee any business yet?"
"No, just Harman and his people. Legion like capturing those guys, maybe we can use that to get the Legion out our way, got enough money to return to the States?"
"Think so," said Val.
"Okay, get to Platte in Missouri, I'll see if I can focus my visions on the clink and see if I can have a plan for you," said their employer.
"Right boss," said Val before she hung up and said "Platte, Missouri."
"Okay," said Sal.
They wouldn't go direct, that was never a good idea, same with going together.