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“Corp, wake up.” Sarnt was nudging him awake roughly with his boot.
“What's going on, Sarnt?”
“They just brought in a VIP we can't pass up.”
Corprull rolled over in-place in his fighting position and raised his rifle. Three ships sat in convoy in front of the Habs; two Hoplite dropships flanking a large egg-shaped space-yacht; an Origin 600i.
“Who's that, Sarnt?”
“That, Corp, is trouble. Pee-Ef must have known something we don't, because that there, is a Hurston.”
The name immediately conjured images of the giant golden statues, black marble and luxurious opulence of Lorville's Central Business district in Corprull's head. Hurston Dynamics owned the planet of Hurston, and its capital, Lorville. Hurston Dynamics was their current employer, and Gavin E. Hurston, the CEO, personally signed their checks.
“Is that the boss, there?” Corprull sounded confused.
“I don't 'spect it is, Corp. Gavin wouldn't find himself dead out here in the icy sticks. Much less in a 600i. Too low-brow for his tastes.” Sarnt spat in his helmet in disgust and immediately regretted it. “No, that there is someone tryin' t'look important in a place where that's *not* a good idea. Hand me that laser-microphone.”
Corprull popped open a compartment on his leg armor and handed over the listening device. With a twist, Sarnt deployed a tiny tripod from the side and pointed the lens at the distant 600i's chassis. Their helmet comms squelched with the new input as Sarnt fiddled with the settings on the tube and fine-tuned the invisible laser's position.
“...been waiting ten minutes! WHERE IS HE?”
“He's finishing up in the back, he'll be down in a jiff.”
“We have work to do in the lab, if he wants his stuff he should gorram-well not waste our time!”
“Have some patience, it's a big order, it's going to be worth it, trust me.”
Sarnt and Corprull watched and listened as the deal below them played out between lackeys of whoever the 600i belonged to and the lab workers. The deal concluded with a promise of payment via credit transfer, and the 600i powered its engines.
“Waiiit for it...” intoned Sarnt.
“Wait for wh-” Corp was cut off by the sound of automatic gunfire being fed into his helmet comms via the laser-mic.
“I knew it. Hurston took the drugs, and they're icin' the lab. This ain't normal, Corp. Ah don't know what we're watchin' here but it's not someone scorin' a fix.”
The gunfire ceased, and they could only watch soundlessly as two teams of PriSec cleared the lab and returned to their Hoplites. They could hear the peal of the hab's self-destruct timer through the laser-mic.
The Hoplites and Yacht lift off the deck into the night; quiet and darkness return to the frozen plain. The timer counting down in their earpieces, the only sound.
“We'll give it time t' blow and see what's left, Corp. We don' know how long it's set for, an' ah'm not walkin' into a bomb.”
Corprull nodded and lowered his rifle and raised his mobiGlas.
“Shit...” Corprull pulled the wrist-mounted computer down from his eyeline. “We got company. Looks like a little cargo ship, approaching 5k out; the Cutlass is picking it up on passives. Stand by for registration...”
Working for PriSec had its priviledges, including being able to access Hurston Dynamic's security database.
Corprull continued, “It's registered to a farm on Aberdeen. Looks like it's full of Agricultural supplies. Must be something they need for the manufacture in the Lab...”
“Bad timing for him, then” Sarnt opined. “that lab's goin' t'go up any second.”
“Should we warn him?”
“If'n y'can raise him on comms, do it.”
Corprull clicked his mic over to general comms and tried to hail the Avenger.
AVENGER 90-230HF, This is CONCERNED CITIZEN — you are in danger, how copy?
The little ship ignored the hail, closing the distance quickly. It landed in the spot the 600i had vacated moments earlier. Corprull and Sarnt could only watch as the ramp at the back opened.
Their dug-in position was over half a kilometer from the Lab, on an airless moon. The pilot had ignored their hails, and wouldn't hear calls nor warning shots. Anything they could do to get his attention would only drive him into the lab for cover.
“Ain't noting we can do.” Sarnt noted gravely.
Corprull winced at the scream of feedback from the laser-mic as the lab, the little farm Avenger, and half the valley exploded into clouds of smoke and steam.
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