Chapter 09: On the Hunt

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He was alone again, and there was something peaceful about that. No other teammates to worry about keeping safe and alive, no hostiles to shoot at him, no one from command telling him what to do. He was wholly, totally alone.

He'd driven for ten minutes through the packed-earth wastelands before finding an abandoned highway that was probably laid down upon first colonization, when the companies were only willing to invest in ground-based vehicles for transportation as opposed to the much more efficient, (and expensive), airborne transports.

He'd brought the jeep onto the highway and began driving along it, as it was roughly the direction he needed to go in and better driving than the wastelands. Allan let his thoughts drift as he made his way down the lengthy strip of pitted concrete. The suns were dying on the far horizon, bathing the wastelands in fiery twilight. The sky was painted in gray overcast, further diffusing the crimson and orange light.

Distant thunder threatened rain. He was heading for it. Fitting, Allan supposed. He thought on the killer. On his black armor and the curiosities he'd been presenting since their first meeting. Something in Allan's head kept going back to the jeep in the back of the downed transport. The killer had every chance and reason to take that jeep and get driving. And clearly it wasn't a question of being able to fit, he'd been ready to take a jeep back in the colony.

So what was the problem?

Allan supposed that his own fundamental problem was that he knew basically nothing about this maniac. Where had he come from? What was his history? What was his motivation for doing what he did? Where had that armor come from? Too many questions and no real answers. Allan told himself that it didn't matter. Whatever the reason, whatever the why and how and what and where, it just didn't matter to him.

He was going to end this killer.

The jeep hit a pothole in the disused highway, bringing Allan back to the world. Up ahead, he could see buildings, a low collection of one-and-two story dwellings alongside the main road. The settlement he'd seen on the map earlier. There wasn't much information in the navigational database on the upcoming colony, only that it was small, had once been a mining support settlement and it had long since failed.

A ghost town.

Which was perfect. No innocent bystanders. Just him and the killer. A confrontation. A final showdown. One of them wasn't walking away from this. Gripping the steering wheel a little tighter, Allan pushed the jeep faster.

He jumped in surprise as his radio crackled to life.

"Sergeant Gray, this is Captain Carpenter, please respond immediately."

Allan blinked in response. For a moment, he considered deactivating his radio, just ignoring it, pretending he hadn't heard it. But there was a part of him that responded almost immediately, a respect for the chain of command that had been pounded into his skull over the years. Finally, reluctantly, he activated his radio, realizing he must be out of the dead zone now.

"This is Sergeant Gray, responding."

"Jesus fucking Christ, Allan, where the fuck have you been!?" Carpenter snapped.

"I've been out of contact due to the blackout, followed by unconsciousness. I've been in pursuit of a hostile in state-of-the-art military power armor that has been murdering everyone he comes in contact with. My entire team was killed in action, including Banks. I was rendered unconscious and captured by the Office of Intelligence and brought to somewhere called Obsidian Station. I am alone, have upgraded my arsenal, and am presently in pursuit of the target," Allan replied as clearly and sufficiently as he could manage.

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