Chapter 07: Research Fringe

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"So what's your story?" Enzo asked.

They were climbing up an elevator shaft that would take them to the next level. The lift hadn't worked. Enzo fully intended to see what was on Level Six. Ramirez was above him, making his way up the ladder. So far, there was nothing in the shaft with them.

"My story?" Ramirez replied.

"Yeah. Why are you here? You working with the scientists? I understand this facility is run by Dark Operations," Enzo said.

"It is. How'd you know that?"

"I've been doing some digging since I woke up."

"I see. Well, no, I'm not. This is actually a joint operation. Dark Ops and the Marines. We're here to offer extra security...though it was pretty obvious from the get go that we weren't really offering security," Ramirez explained.

"What were you doing?"

"I imagine keeping an eye on Dark Ops. I don't really know too much about all this, to be honest. Four months ago, I was enjoying some R and R. After it was up, instead of heading back to where I was supposed to go, me and my unit got rotated out, picked up by some Special Ops types. They took command of us and three other units, told us all we were going on 'special assignment'. We were thrown in a big transport vessel and shipped halfway across the galaxy. We got here. It doesn't look like much from the surface..." Ramirez paused.

Enzo did as well. They both stopped climbing. A sound came echoing up to them...or was it down? Enzo looked in both directions, but could see nothing. Of course, the light inside the shaft was emergency red, hazy, and offered little in the way of actual visibility. Could any of those things climb? He didn't rule it out.

"Guess it was nothing," Ramirez murmured, resuming his climb.

"What is it on the surface? I imagine they didn't make it too obvious," Enzo replied.

"They didn't. There's a weather station on top, converted from an old mining complex. That's how they found it. The miners dug into on accident. The operation was shut down when the Galactic Alliance stepped in. This is all stuff I've pieced together myself from rumors and the occasional actual report I've managed to dig up. The planet, Syberia, was originally colonized by the Russians. But the Americans wanted it, too, and they made a deal. Set up the mine and a few other settlements. So, naturally, they find fucking Cyr tech on the planet."

Enzo knew that talk of Russian and Americans might confuse the younger generations, or even the less investigative civilians, because technically, every nation and country had been united into the Galactic Alliance almost a hundred years ago, and most colonies tended to be very multicultural. But he also knew that, to a certain degree, the larger countries, (the ones that hadn't been absorbed by other, more powerful nations down the centuries), still remained intact and independent. Maybe he was just sensitive to the fact because of what had happened to him in his own military career. He turned bitterly from that thought.

"So they closed down the mine?" Enzo asked.

"Yeah, shut it down, created false documents saying that the original scans of the planet had been incorrect due to faulty equipment and that the operation was a bust. They set up a basic weather station over it as a cover, slipped in all the parts and pieces to build this facility over the next month," Ramirez continued.

"This is a big facility."

"It is. Dark Ops works fast. There could be more to it, but that's all I know. We pulled a lot of guard duty, just patrolling around. Not in Level Six or Five, though. They wouldn't let us down there. What I think was going on was Dark Ops was put in charge of figuring out how to work the spacecraft, and found the things inside of it and started doing experiments. The GA sent the Marines for 'extra protection' because they didn't fully trust Dark Ops. And what we ended up with was one gigantic clusterfuck," Ramirez explained.

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