Chapter 30

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Sergeant Fett silently motioned his fireteam to continue approaching the large cavern, the laser borer trailing behind them on its repulsor lifts. His foot caught a stone, which skittered down the tunnel. He held up his hand to halt the advance of his team and the laser borer, scanning for any signs of response by the da phelu.

The squad had graduated beyond practicing tactics against the da phelu, and was now on its first trial run. So far the tactics they had employed against the da phelu had worked phenomenally well in-sim. Alpha team had previously cleared the few da phelu in the cavern in advance of Beta team’s approach, but that’s not to say that more of the mutants couldn’t return if they were noisy and sloppy.

 “Alpha team, are we still clear?” Sergeant Fett asked.

“Yes, Beta team, you may proceed. Keep working on your dance moves Fett,” Sergeant Chalmers chided.

Fett gritted his teeth, then motioned to Beta team to continue, while Gamma team covered their rear. “I’ll have to have Specialist Teel teach me how to dance. I’m sure he has twinkletoes to match his perfect hair.”

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it,” Specialist Teel quipped.

“Careful Specialist,” Sergeant Fett said menacingly. “I’d hate for you to slip and break your neck.”

As they neared the end of the tunnel, the cavern opened up both above and below. A deep, rocky pit separated them from the bore point on the other side. They would have to circle the cavern to the other side.

They picked their way carefully along the side of the cavern, gingerly stepping around rubble. Water dribbled down stalactites in the ceiling, pooling into the pit below and then dribbling out into other caverns. The only sound was the echo of their own breath in their helmets.

Rounding the final bend, Specialist Teel guided the laser borer to a stop, flanked in the front and sides by the rest of Beta team. He slowly reduced the power of the repulsor lifts, and the laser borer rested securely on the ground.

“Good work, squad.” Commander Kenobi said. “We’re still alive and on-schedule. Alpha and Gamma teams, take up fortifying positions. Beta team, prep the laser.”

Sergeant Fett snatched the geo-scanner that had come along for the ride on the repulsor lift, and attached it to a mount point on his shoulder. The geo-scanner connected to his suit’s HUD and the laser borer.

He performed a scan of the material composition in the ceiling above, attempting to find the optimal location for the drill point. This was trickier work than it seemed, as the scanner could only penetrate so deeply into the rock. Algorithms aided him weigh the probability of cave in, the expected density of the rock, and the correct angle to insure that they would pop out in the right location.

Settling on a particular location, Sergeant Fett saved the point, which was automatically sent to the laser borer. Meanwhile, Specialist Teel cross-checked the systems diagnostics and test fired the laser. All systems were go, and he gave Sergeant Fett the thumbs up.

“Alright, light it up Specialist.” Sergeant Fett ordered. The room filled with a red glow and the faintest of hums as the laser started to do it work.

Laser drills were much quieter than mechanical drills, but they took longer to do their work and required generous amounts of power. On top of that they had two holes to drill so they could attack two parts of the compound simultaneously. The delay annoyed Fett. He would rather be blasting enemies instead of rock, but waking an entire cavern of da phelu was a oneway ticket to hell.

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