Chapter 13: Once More into the Darkness

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Allan had mostly gotten the gore off his visor by the time Montgomery had led him across the camp towards the main operations structure.

She'd been talking, explaining what had happened, what went wrong, while they walked and while he wiped what was left of a scientist off his armor.

"It was all going according to plan," she said. "We had him. He was locked down, passed out. After we dropped you off, we took him to our ship. We'd been given a planet-jumper, you know the model? Like cargo ships, sort of, fitted to hop between planets. We were taking him towards the sun, getting ready to launch him from the airlock. But we'd hardly left orbit when the fucker woke up. He was playing dead. He tore through the fucking ship, killed almost everyone onboard. We didn't get a chance to put him back under. I managed to get out with a few of the others in the escape pods. He took the ship, crashed it somewhere on the surface."

"You know where he is?" Allan asked.

"Yes. We're tracking him. He left the wreckage and he's started walking again. Now that we have information on where he's actually going, we can project a path and timeline."

"And? How long do we have?"

"We have time. He's still several hundred miles from his destination. We've got awhile, at least. Unless he finds a ship or a vehicle. Come on," Montgomery said, stepping into the structure. Allan followed her.

Inside, it was cramped. A dozen men and women in black-and-silver armor were situated around a holographic display table. A collection of large structures was being displayed in glossy 3D green neon, lighting up the area in a curious glow.

"All right, Allan. This is Shadow Squad. This is the bulk of what remains of us. You'll be joining them in the attack. This is Singer. She's in charge," Montgomery said. Allan nodded to a tall, thin dark-skinned woman with buzzed hair and a razor sharp gaze.

"Can we get to it?" she asked, clearly anxious to be gone.

"Yep," Montgomery replied. She and Allan joined them around the table. "This is pretty sketchy, guys, so bear with me. I've managed to scavenge and scrape together enough of the nanotechnology-based weaponry for all of you to be armed. Unfortunately, they're all pistols, but it shouldn't matter. We're not looking for big and showy power here. You just need to shoot this asshole. Once should be enough to take him down."

She paused and turned her attention to the holographic display. "Now, this is an abandoned refinery. It sits directly in his path, so he'll likely be going straight through it. That's where we're going to hit him. I've got two jump ships. The plan is simple. Shoot the asshole, secure him, we throw him into the sun. For real this time. I've managed to secure another planet-jumper, and I'm working on drumming up some more jump ships, but..." Montgomery hesitated. She looked slowly around the table. "This is really our last shot. Get it right, or we may not recognize the galaxy tomorrow. Does everyone understand?"

Everyone indicated that they fully understood the situation.

Montgomery nodded. "Good. Now, he's obviously built up a tolerance to the nanotech. So, every forty five minutes, I want it reapplied, so he doesn't fucking wake up and we get a repeat. We can't afford to fuck this up. Everyone ready?"

There was a string of affirmative replies.

"Excellent. I'll be here, coordinating with the locals for more support," Montgomery said.

The Spec Ops squad began to file out of the room. Allan followed. They slipped out into the desert night and moved to another structure, where they each grabbed a modified pistol. Allan looked it over as the others geared up. The pistol was pretty strange looking. It was sleek and glossy black, with a slightly bulbous muzzle.

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