Fifty-Four: Homeward Bound

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The dropships descended, tossing swaying shadows on the sand like circling vultures. I shielded my eyes as Dropship 0-13 blasted me with sand, it's repulsor engines pushing the sand off of my Spectre.

The remainder of the TMC's strike force had retreated shortly after I'd taken Draco down, leaving behind their robots in favor of a quick retreat. Clean-up had begun, with enemy robots being taken for study or evidence. Doctor Dan Stonewood, always brave, had volunteered to enter the Dreadnought's core in a Hazmat suit to retrieve a scan of the radioactive material stolen from the TMC's past battles. With it we could irrefutably prove the TMC's involvement in the Dreadnought's creation and expose the ways they broke the rules of war.

My comm crackled.
"I have good news and bad news," Lucas said. "The good news is that we can save most of your Spectre."

I watched as the ship descended, mechanical arms reaching out for my robot, latching onto it.

"What's the bad news?" I said, fearing the worst.

The Spectre's shell tore free from the rubble with a terrible screech. I winced, staring in horror at the damage done to it. Long cracks ran down the robot's entire exterior, and it's legs hung bent and broken.

"The bad news is that most of it doesn't mean it's legs," Lucas responded. "Sorry."

"Nothing a bit of elbow grease can't fix," Dan responded, his breathing labored.

"Hot in that hazmat suit, Dan?"
Kedrick laughed.

A hand fell on my shoulder, shadowed by another dropship hovering overhead.

Martin Telbus stood behind me, grinning.

"One heck of a punch you delivered there, Jax," he smiled. "I can't say I'm not jealous, I owed Fisk for the bullet in my chest."

"Is he secure?" I asked.

"Locked up tight and not going anywhere!" Karen said. I could hear her smiling even over the comms.

With all the new robots to collect for study, we'd reorganized the dropships. We had no shortage of free space, hangar slots left empty by destroyed robots, but still we were nearly overflowing with new technology. Dan was in his glory. However, this meant that prisoner transport was going to be tough.

To prevent any escape attempts by our new guest, Dropship 0-13 was filled with broken robots instead of functional ones. My Spectre, a Raven, two Bulwarks and Fisk's Mercury all hung inside, non-functional. If Fisk did escape into the dropship hangar he would have nothing to escape in. I was joining him onboard the ship to make sure he never got the chance.

"I've got it," Dan said, voice muffled by the hazmat. "Transferring the scan now."

"Let's get out of here," Martin said, hand on his comm headset. "Any dropships with all their pilots onboard can begin their trip back to the Carrier."

"Rescue capsules inbound, gentlemen," Lucas said. "You'll be up here in no time."

"Actually," Martin said, "I'll take another ship home. Yours is already crowded as it is, thanks to our new friend Fisk."

"I'll join you," Kedrick said. I could see his Shutze being lifted into a seperate transport, Dropship 0-12, ready for the journey home.

"Fine by me," Martin said.
"Tell the dropship pilot to drop a rescue capsule."

Three capsules impacted the sand, one from each dropship. I winced at the bad memories. The last time I'd been in a medical capsule I'd just lost my hearing in one ear. Fortunately today we were only using them for a quick exit. Thanks to our quick thinking, nobody else had to get hurt.

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