Thanks to those who’ve given me honest reviews, they are appreciated…
Now I’ve been getting some emails grumbling about the ending, saying it was too ‘abrupt’, or wanting to know what happened in the meeting, or was there a meeting…
You get what will probably be the prologue for the second in the Rimworld Series. As usual, unedited, for now…
Mikhail was wrapping up the meeting with the techs in Ivan’s office in Capital City. Ivan March, small, red headed, and feisty, was the lead tech on Endine, working from Capital. Mike Hartwell was bald, sunburned, and middle aged, worked out of Archer City; Jean Gauntt was the only female, compact, dark haired, looking tired, and very quiet. She worked out of Canyon City and William Beamon, lanky and grey haired, worked out of Paradise on the southern coast.
“So, based on the problems everyone is having, I’m going to approach the GalPat Det about providing some additional security to all of your feeder locations. I also want each of you to deploy sonic fences at all feeder and subfeeder sites. I’ll download the mods to you for the programming to add the human range. Any questions?”
Ivan replied, “Gonna be hard for me to do that. Feeder is right up against one of the slums that are expanding out of the city center. And my subfeeders are on roofs.”
Mikhail grimaced, “Well, do the best you can. If nothing else, secure the RCA huts with the switching gear. Anybody else have a problem I need to know about?”
Pulling out his data comp, he quickly called up the mod for the sonic fence system, pushed it to the local server, and heard all four data comps ping in response. “Don’t load that until you have the fence up and running. You’ll have ten divs to get out of the perimeter before it takes effect. To get in, you’ll have to remote in and kill the update. Understood?”
Fargo moved to the door as Mikhail stood, “Alright, we’ll reconvene for dinner at, say eighteen? Then I can update you on the outcome of the meeting with the GalPat Det.”
Ivan hopped up, “I’ll drive you over, it’s a pain in the ass to maneuver around over there with all the blocked streets and checkpoints.”
Fargo stopped suddenly, “Blocked streets and checkpoints?”
“Yah, they’ve restricted access due to the protesters getting a bit out of hand a couple of times.”
“Didn’t they put them down?”
Ivan snorted, “Not really, more like let them run out of steam and gently pushed them back out four or five blocks.”
The hair on the back of Fargo’s neck started standing up and he shook his head, “So are we even safe to go down there in a marked vehicle?”
Ivan laughed, “Even the proles like having their power. Never had a problem anywhere on the planet.”
A half div later, Ivan blew his breath out noisily, “Well looks like this is as close as I can get. Something must have happened,” pointing to a gate a block away he continued, “That’s the gate you need to go through. It leads directly to the admin building, which is just on the other side of the wall. I’ll find a place to park and wait here for ya.”
Fargo extended his empathic sense as far as he could, but didn’t sense anything other than some low level discontent. Getting out quickly, he settled his pistol then said, “Okay, let’s make this as quick as we can, Mikhail. I don’t like this at all.”
Mikhail looked at him, “Are you okay, Ethan?”
“Come on, let’s move. Something is going on here that I don’t like. Call it a hunch, or a gut feeling, but…”
Mikhail shrugged, “Okay, quick like a nearbunny, we will be.” He took off at a fast walking pace, Fargo following closely on his right, watching both sides, and ahead of them. As they cleared the buildings, Fargo’s paranoia increased, seeing the broad empty avenue they had to cross, and the small crowd gathered fifty yards from the gate.
Glancing both ways, Mikhail started across as Fargo shifted to the left side, putting himself between the crowd and Mikhail. They made it across the street with no issues, and Mikhail went to the man door in the gate, twisted the handle and was surprised when the gate didn’t open. Instead a voice came from a speaker overhead, “State your business.”
Mikhail looked up and saw the speaker and a camera off to the side of the gate, “Mikhail Radovich. Tight beam technology manager for this sector. I have a meeting with a Colonel Zhu.”
The speaker spat out, “Wait.”
Fargo glanced up, “Not too friendly are they?”
“Apparently not. One would think this gate would be mann…”
Fargo shoved him violently to the ground as he saw a figure detach itself from the crowd at a dead run toward them. Mikhail asked indignantly, “What the hell was that for,” as he started to rise.
Fargo hissed, “Stay down. Shit’s going down, now.” He committed the cardinal sin of taking his eye off the threat, as he glanced down to make sure Mikhail was still on the ground. He felt hate now mingling with joy, and snapped back to honor the threat, drawing his pistol as he turned, shielding Mikhail.
The small figure had a weapon in hand, pointing it directly at him, close enough that Fargo saw the finger tighten on the trigger button as the whine of a needle gun firing was crossed by the flat snap of his bead pistol. The small figure started crumpling to the ground as Fargo felt the incredible pain of the flechettes tearing into his shoulder outside the vest, Oh fuck, that hurts. Gotta get Mikhail somewhere safe.His left arm dropped limply and he almost passed out from the pain before the pharmacope kicked in.
Leaning over, he said, “Mikhail, are you alright?”
Mikhail replied shakily, “I’m… I’m not hit, if that’s what you mean.”
“Good, stay there.” Fargo leaned against the gate, pistol at low ready as he scanned the crowd both visually and empathically after a quick glance over his shoulder and down the street they’d just left. It was so quiet he could hear his blood plopping on the stones in front of the gate, as the speaker squawked, “Stand clear. Opening gate now.”
Fargo pushed himself off the wall with his elbow, keeping the pistol trained on the crowd. He took a step to the side and felt the world go gray as the pharmacope dumped more painkillers, “Mikhail, get yourself in the…”
Mikhail got an arm under Fargo, half drug him in the gate and screamed at the sergeant, “Medical, he needs medical! What the fuck are you people doing? How did you let…”
Two medics with a gravsled ran to where Fargo lay slumped on the ground, and they quickly loaded him onto the sled, asking, “Who is he? Blood type? What the fuck did he get shot with?” as the lead tech quickly scanned Fargo, getting a lot of beeps and sirens that didn’t sound good to Mikhail.
Mikhail answered, “Fargo, Ethan, NMN he’s in the GalPat database. I think he’s O positive.” For reasons Mikhail didn’t understand, he reached over and took Fargo’s pistol, dropping it in his pocket, as he followed the medics toward the main building at a run.
They had gone through a set of doors, telling Mikhail he couldn’t enter, sterile zone, and to wait. Fifteen minutes later, a dour, ethnic Asian in dress blacks walked slowly down the hall toward him, obviously listening to his earbug. He stopped in front of Mikhail, “I am Colonel Zhu, you are Mikhail Radovich, correct?”
Impatiently, Mikhail replied, “Yes, what is being done for Fargo? And why were we not allowed in the gate? We had an appointment scheduled!”
Zhu replied enigmatically, “Security. There are issues right now with a very small segment of the population, here. We are working through those.”
“Issues my ass, when they are trying to take down the TBT system, and we get shot by people in a mob, that’s a little more than issues.”
“Why did you initiate contact with the protesters?”
Mikhail goggled, “Initiate? We didn’t initiate anything! Who ever that was came charging out of the mob, firing some kind of needler, and next thing I know, I’m on the ground with Fargo bleeding all over me, just before he passed out.”
“Why didn’t you retreat? You had ample option to do that.”
Mikhail started to reply when an older lady, granny glasses perched on her nose, curly hair adrift came stalking by and went into the medical area. He noticed Zhu at rigid attention, and asked, “Who was that?”
“Director Vaughn. Your man must be badly hurt, if she deigned to come down here.” Zhu turned around and marched away, leaving Mikhail standing in the corridor by himself.
Two hours later, Evie landed the shuttle in the forecourt of the building, the two med techs pulled Fargo out on a gravsled and he was loaded into the Med Comp installed in the shuttle. Another two hours, and they were back aboard Hyderabad, when Mikhail realized he never got a substanative conversation with Zhu on the problems on Endine, or talked to his techs again.
Fargo came to slowly. Reaching out with his senses, he didn’t feel anything, which scared him. And his arm and shoulder throbbed in time with his heartbeat. He looked out the port to his left and saw a bulkhead, looking out the port to the right, he saw a small sickbay with a compartment number he recognized, I’m on Hyderabad. Where is Mikhail, is he...
Captain Jace came quickly through the door, closely followed by Mikhail, “Ah, I see our lazy guest has finally deigned to join us in consciousness.”
Fargo lifted his right hand, extending the middle finger, “Why am I hurting?” He looked at Mikhail’s drawn face, “You alright? Not hit?”
Mikhail said softly, “No I’m okay Ethan. Much better than you. You saved my life. I don’t…”
“You don’t owe me anything. If I’d let you get killed, Luann would have killed me. Still haven’t answered why I’m hurting.”
Jace answered, “Simple. Your shoulder is blown up. It exceeds the capability of the med comp, manual intervention is required, so we’re hauling you back to Hunter.”
“What, er, why not treat me on Endine?”
“They wanted you off planet immediately. Apparently the woman you killed was the daughter of one of the powers that be on Endine. Well, that and the fact that the Director, herself is a surgeon, took one look at your injuries, and said you needed a galaxy class surgeon, along with your medical history and scans, to even attempt a rebuild.”
“Oh. That bad, huh?”
Captain Jace added, “Yes, that bad. OneSvel will meet us in orbit, perform the needed surgery, and do your follow-up care.”
“We know who he is, Mikhail has been briefed and agreed to say nothing. As far as anyone is concerned, the surgery will have already been done. OneSvel will just be the med tech taking care of you in zero-G, until your shoulder is stabilized.”
“One to two weeks. It will take the nanos that long to rebuild the bone structure, plus there are something like thirty pieces of bone still floating around in there. Evie will fly Mikhail down to Rushing River as soon as we hit orbit and pick up OneSvel for the trip back.”
“What about the techs? Are they…”
Mikhail winced, “So far, they’re still alive. Director Vaughn has given authority to the GalPat Det to up security as required to protect the assets. I never got to have my meeting, so I’m getting this from comms after the fact and two VTCs we’ve had enroute back here.