Chapter 14: Deader's Paradise

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"You don't have time to wait for backup, you're going to have to go in by yourself," Hawkins said.

Drake sighed. "That's insane. This is Deader's fucking Paradise we're talking about."

"I know, but you two are the best. That's why I hired you. Take the pilots with you when you land. They're highly trained. They know what they're doing. In the meantime, I will be sending some backup your way. There's a squad of Spec Ops troops close to Deader's Paradise. Unfortunately, I imagine it'll all be over one way or the other by the time they get there. Either way, they know the score and they'll provide whatever help you'll need."

"All right, fine," Drake replied. "We'll handle it."

"Excellent. Hawkins out."

Drake turned away from the comms console. Trent leaned up against an unoccupied space in the bulkhead, between the comms console and the navigation station. Both pilots were looking at the pair of mercenaries.

"I assume you heard that," Drake said.

"Yep," Pomroy replied.

"Got any problems with it?" Trent asked.

"Nope," the other, Linaweaver, said. "I've been dying for some action."

"Great. How long until we're over Deader's Paradise?" Drake asked.

"An hour," Pomroy replied. "So, what is this place? I've never heard of it. Deader's Paradise. Sounds nasty."

"It is. About a hundred years ago, it was a colony world. They found it, settled, spent about five years building a huge, bustling metropolis. About a hundred thousand people. Then some virus unique to the planet that all the scans and experts missed slammed into the city full force. It was airborne, had about a ninety percent kill ratio. Real nasty. They got out as many people as they could beforehand, but had to quarantine most of the population on the planet. It got ugly. People tried to break quarantine, they were blown to shit by the military. Only about five thousand people survived the whole thing and they managed to contain it, make a vaccine and a cure for it. But the planet was never recolonized. Everyone basically treated it like it was cursed.

"Over the next hundred years, it became a scrapyard. Both a dumping ground for all the hazardous shit people don't want anymore and don't want to pay to get rid of and a huge salvage operation. Fly-by-night salvage teams come here and steal stuff from the city. So, obviously, it's like this ridiculous cauldron of wicked insanity. Radiation, disease, psychos with guns, unstable structures. The works. And Rogue Ops has taken our precious artifact there," Trent explained.

"Fan-freaking-tastic," Pomroy muttered.

"Yeah. So, we'll need full suits, since we don't have the vaccine or the cure on hand," Trent said. He stood up, stretched. "I need to take a leak, grab something to eat. Once we hit the planet, run some scans, see if you can figure out where they're at, then we'll study the geography and come up with a plan on how to hit them."

"Got it," Pomroy replied.

Trent left the bridge. Drake followed him. They made their way down the corridor and into the galley. Trent moved to the refrigerator and opened it up, studying the contents. There didn't seem to be much. He sighed, grabbed a sealed burrito meal from the freezer and stuffed it into the microwave. Then he grabbed a can of Vex and popped it open.

"Fucking Spec Ops ship," he complained after draining half the can in one go. "Top-tier government and military funding and they can't even fucking properly stock the fridge. My kingdom for a steak."

Drake laughed. "Yeah, not like their funding goes to these fancy space ships and guns and suits of power armor. I'll make sure to let Hawkins know. By the way, Pomroy, totally eye-fucking me. He definitely wants me."

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