The lift stopped at sub-level four. With a loud noise the heavy, steel doors opened slowly. Small lights danced trough the darkness, which was only interrupted by some old red glowing emergency lamps at the side-walls. Slowly two armed troopers in medium combats suits crouched out of the lift. With careful movements they retired from the lift, 2 other troopers appeared behind them and covered their approach. Their shoulderlamps and the flashlights, which were attached on their weapons, they illuminated the area around the lift. The function of sub-level four was noe revealed: a storage hall, a depot. The air was dusty, large crates prevented a clear view. Every trooper approached a position, which should enable him to defend the lift. On their way to the labyrinth of crates and barrels, the troopers dropped magnesium-flares. Blending, cold, white light illuminated their path now. Their shadows looked bizarre, it was a sinister atmossphere. The last of the seven troopers left the lift. The doors shut behind him.
"We finally reached our destination!", said John Ronin Mc Manan, the squad leader. He tipped with his index finger a certain spot on his helmet. His HUD, changed immediately. With a sighed he started to speak again:"Ok, Laputa has no information about this sub-level! They just know, that our mission critical object is located... or at least should be located... in the south of this depot! They don’t expect problems!". "Com’on Ronin! They never expect problems! Guess what: They are right! Up there they never get problems, but we are always in trouble, when they say: There will be no problems!", Angelina Phantom Helm, the squad sniper, sounds extremly cynical, even through the Comm. A real feat, because the Comm distorted the voices of the troopers a lot. "Be quiet, Phantom! And in non-combat situations, you’ve got to use the word Sir, understood?", Ronin ordered. Phantom nodded with dislike. The only trooper in a heavy combat armor, turned around:"But she is right, Sir! We’ve made our way through this old camp site and 3 of it’s sublevels! And yet we haven’t met any resistance!". "I don’t know what you are complaining about, Johnson!" , Ronin shrugged with his shoulders. Obivious! We are here to salvage a artifact, an old computer, for the Desert Fox, one of the survivor factions down here on earth! Our aim is to gain new allies! , Johnson spoke again. Ronin interupted him:"I know the facts! I want the explanation for your behavior! Why are you and Angelina so nervous? .
"Why the Desert Fox-troops haven’t secured the artifact, themself?". A sudden movement caught the attention of one of the troopers standing by the crates. The laserpointer on his rifle awakened, he kneelt down and shouted:"Movement!". Despite his helmet he was able to hear a rustle from some boxes at his right side. With a fast movement he turned around, aimed and fired. A burst of bullets hit the wooden boxes and penetrated them. Splinters flew through the air, the noise of the shoots echoed trough the hall. A rat withdrew from the boxes in panic. "Hold the fire!" , ordered Ronin. "Hell! What the heck, you are doing Shadow?". Shadow nervously plucked his white armlet with the big red cross on it, which identify him as the squad medic: Sorry, Sir! I became nervous, because of your little conversation with my squad-collegues in a mission area!". Ronin glared angry at him, but it was without any result, because the visor of his helmet hid his eyes. "We‘ll talk about this later! Let’s finish this job and get out of this dirt hole!", he ordered. We’re going to split the group! Three two-Man teams! We keep in touch! Use the Comm, I want frequent status reports from every team! If we have hidden foes here, they will know that we are here... since our little... rat-accident and festive illumination here! Phantom...", he placed his hand on her shoulder, "You search for a good spot to cover us!". Phantom nodded: "Buisness as usual!". "Hey Devestator, would you be so kind and help me up?", she asked Johnson. The heavy weapon specialist hold his hands down, and formed a stirrup wih them. Angelina shoulderd her sniperrifle an put her foot in Johnsons Hand. With two quick movements she climbed a crate an jumped on the next. A crane cabel hung in front of her. In no time she started to climp upwards. She quickly disapeared in the dark. Ronin shook his head. He always was suprised how fast she moved in this combat armor. Then he pointed at Shadow and the trooper next to him, who ignored the trouble and observed the hall with full concentration: Shadow, Paladin you are team one! Take the left path an made you way to the south-west!". Paladin checked his compass, which was locatet at the left wrist of every suit:"Affirmative, Sir!". Both troopers start carefully to move. "Devestator, Valkyrie you form team two! South-east path!". Finally he turned to the tall woman, who secured the elevator: "Amazon you follow me! We are team three an make our way central, straight-ahead to the south!". She shrugged with her shoulders:"Why not, sounds like great fun!". Ronin rolled with his eyes:"Can anyone tell me, why I’ve got all the would-be comedians from Laputa in my squad?". Amazon laughed, but went directly in combat position:"Take the lead...Sir!".
Slowly they made their way trough the labyrinth. The chaotic arragment of the crates an barrels prevented a clear view and made it impossible to advanche quickly. Ronin felt that Amazons armor touched his back. "Hey there! Keep your distance! A grenade would kill us both!", he hissed trough the Comm. "But I like it to be close to you!", was her sarcastic remark. Before he was able to complain she explained: Combat training 5! In cramped passages like that it is careless to leave to much room between you and your squadmates! An hidden enemy could sneak in the gap between us and finish us, before we notice him!". The red dots of their laserpointers danced along the obstacles in front and behind them. Some rats ran away, when they illuminated their hideouts. "Team One! Reporting in!", echoed trough the Comm. Team two also reported in. Ronin was relieved. Perhaps this time Laputa was right. In, out, back to the drop capsula. No fire fights, no casualities, no problems. "Oh no! ", a voice stated. "Whats wrong, Paladin?", Ronin asked immediatly. "We took a wrong turn, this is a dead end! Now we had to walk back to the last forking!", was the answer. Ronin was relieved again:"Ok, team one! But hurry up!". Paladins reply was short: "Yes, Sir!". The Comm crackled: This is Phantom, reporting in! I’m in position! Nice view! I can see the elevator, our entrance point and some parts of the south! But it’s defintly to dark to give you firesupport before you reach the entrance zone again!". Bad news! But it was forsee able! Stay in position and check your Comm-Unit! It is hard to understand you, because of heavy interferences!", he replied. "Strange! But rodger, Sir!", the Comm grew silent. "I’m sick of walking like a cancer, Sir! Am I allowed to take the lead?" , Amazon asked. "Affirmative! Take the lead!", Ronin confirmed. He and Amazon changed positions. Suddenly he noticed that Amazon had marked their way at the last forking. "Have you marked our whole way?", he asked. "Yes, Sir! I thought it would be useful, if we have to retreat fast!", was the short reply. "A really good idea! I will adwise the other teams to mark their way, too!", Ronin changed the Comm-frequency and talked with the other teams. "Thank you, Sir!", Amazon said. Ronin changed his frequency again: "Ok, Amazon! Advance!". They started to advance through the weird labyrinth. Again they walked silent trough the dark passages. This was the most softening-up in a mission. You wait for something to happen, but everything remains quiet. Untill you loose your concentration and...
"Stop!", Amazon commanded. He stopped and kneelt down:"What‘s wrong?". He heared that Amazon keelt down, too. "This is defenitly no good sign!", she said. More to herself than to Ronin. "Blood... Not just some drops... a real trail of blood!". She examined her discovery thoroughly:"Ok, it’s dry, color... dark red! Whatever had happened, it happened some time ago!". "Team one here, team three report in!", the Comm awakened. "Team three here, we’ve discovered a track of blood..." , Ronin began to reply. "That’s the problem, Sir! We discovered several blood trails here! At the walls are traces of an fire fight! We also discovered some cartridge cases!" , Shadow cut his sentence. There are traces at the ground, someone had shuffeld the corpses to another location... If there were corpses at all!". Another voice filled the Comm:"Team two here, confirming! Same discoveries here! Blood, some ammunition, traces! Ohhh and before I forget about it: Parts of a Desert Fox combat armor with deep cuts on the chest plate!". "Ok, Valkyrie, Paladin... all teams proceed with extreme caution! Stay sharp! Just get the damned computer and then we get out of here!" , Ronin ordered. He tipped at Amazones back: "Go, go, go! We advance!". The blood trail got more and more obvious, when they advanced further. They was able to spot trails of fire fights at the walls and objects they passed. Finally Ronin and Amazon reached the other side of the depot. The trace led to a hole in opposite wall. Amazon knelt down:"This tunnel was not created with tools, rather buried with claws... I’m pretty sure it was not made by humans!", her voice lowered, "Transgenants!". A red dot appeared at Ronins head, she turned around and squirmed her index finger around the trigger of her assault rifle. "Hold the fire! It’s me Shadow!", a voice said in haste. Shadow und Paladin approached their position from the left. Amazon reacted fast and lowered the gun. The light of their shoulderlamps illuminated several holes in the wall. Ronin taunted and orderd the team to withdraw. The slowly moved back to the „crate-labyrinth“, observing as many of the tunnels as possible. Johnsons voice cut put an end to the silence: "This is team two, we’ve found the mission critical object! Valkyrie is securing it right now! When she is ready we’re going to advance the extraction point!". Copy, team two! Good work, we will meet you at the extraction point!", answered Ronin.
Phantom checked her helmet the third time now. She was no mechanician, but she was able to keep her equipment working. And the Comm-unit was defintly ok. A movement in the dark caught her attention. Immeditaly she put on her helmet and rised her rifle. Trough the scope she was able to identify a object. A camera... a working surveilance camera. Transgenants don’t use human equipment, but without regular checks the camera wouldn’t work. With a loud noise the elevator lowered. Lowered? She thought that sub-level 4 was the last sub-level. Time for a little report, she thought. She changed the Comm-channel, static of interferences rushed trough her helmet. "Damn, they disturb our Comms... Whoever they are!".
They met Devestator and Valkyrie on the half way back to the elevator. It was good luck, that team two found the PC. Valkyrie was one of the two troopers with backpacks. When their Comms suddenly failed. Valkyrie immediatly started to gesture. Ronin raised his hand. Now he had to make a desicion, sign language and gestures as the only way to communicate, or activate the loudspeakers, which were intigrated in their helmets. He activated his loudspeakers:"When someone disturb our Comms, he already knows, that we’re here! Voice-Communication allowed!". He raised his assault rifle again:"Combat Phalanx Alpha formation! I know it is pretty narrow, but try to keep the formation! Devestator use your handgun, no heavy weapons! Keep your distance intervalls from each other! Paladin you secure our back!". He took the lead and started to crouch:"All, Advance!".
The elevator arrived at sub-level 4 again. The heavy doors opened. Humans in crimson armors left it. The magnesium flares of the Laputa-squad had already vanished, so they used their own. Some of them illuminated parts of the roof with their flash lights. Phantom hid deeper in the shadows. They know, that I hide somewhere up here, she realized. More troops left the elevator. Some of them weared massive armors, defintly heavy armors, and carried turrets. They started to build up the turrets next to the elevator. Phantom cursed their ancestors in many ways. She was not able to alert the squad. Slowly she calmed down, the other squaddies were no rookies, they would advance carefully and expecting enemies. A tall guy left the elevator. His crimson armor was adorned with golden lines. One of the troopers left his position:"Sir, it is not safe yet! Somewhere on the girders at the roof one of the intruders hide, possibly a sniper!...". With a harsh gesture the “officer” cut his sentence:"Stop whining and follow your orders!". Loudspeakers, open voice communication, ignoring a hidden foe... this guys are pretty self-confident, perhaps over-confident, Phantom thought. The trooper saluted:"Yes, Sir! I’m sorry, Sir!". He ran back tu his position. The man in the golden uniform approached one of the guys, who was building up the turrets. "Where are they now?". The other man touched his helmet:"Security reports that they nearly reached our position!". The “officer” nodded:"We reacted to slow this time!". He took of his helmet (Ohh, a nice gift, Phantom thought, aimed and hold her breath) and raised a small object that looked like a whistle. The trooper, who tried to convince him that the area is not secure, shouted:"Therakan Commander, please...!". The commander blew the whistle, Phantom was not able to hear a noise, turned around:"Your insubordinance will not be without consequences! The “roof-intruder” won’t blow his cover, you...". He was not able to finish his sentence, before Phantoms bullet pierced his head. She didn’t reload, jumped up immediatly on the next girder. Bullets hit her old position. Some flares flew through the air. A explosion shook the girder, she nearly lost her balance. She heared some shout, maybe someone was explaining the idiot, who had thrown the grenade, that it is no good idea to make the roof collapse. A bullet missed her just about a few inches, she had to get out of here.
The whistle of the Therakan Commander awakened them. This noise means: food.
Shoots echoed through the hall. The squad stopped. At the roof girders they saw impacts, an explosion damaged one of the girders. Ronin hissed:"Phantom! Ok, whoever attacks her, he is busy right now, maybe we can caught them by suprise!". He switched his assault rifle to auto-fire-mode. Normally he prefers the burst-mode, because he likes the combination of good accuracy and speed, but in close quarter combat the auto-fire-mode was the better choice. "Storm the front!", was his short command. Amazon and Valkyrie pulled out their smoke grenades.
Trooper Smith just finished his work at the turret when he heared a sound like *clank* behind him. He turned around, just to see a smoke grenade covering the whole area with dark smoke. The magnesium flares illuminated the smoke and their light was reflected and blinded him for a second. He heard another *clank* an yellow-green smoke mixed with the dark smoke. A trooper next to him broke down and coughed, blood speckeled the inner side of his visor. When he crouched to the man, he recognized the him. Allister... he remembered that Allister had told him that the gas-filter of his helmet is not functional, yesterday... a gas-attack. He grabbed to his left leg and realized that his handgun was not there. At the turret... he had put it at the turret, when he build it up. Shoots echoed and bullets cut trough the air... he started to crawl.
It was strange. Their opponents had defended this hall several times (at least the blood traces told that), but now they act like rookies. Shadows laserpointer found a head in the smoke, he pulled the trigger. The shoots penetrated the helmet and threw the lifeless body of his victim against a crate. Now their enemies returned their fire. Bullets hit some crates behind him. Near the wall of smoke he saw one of the heavy troopers mounting a turret, he fired a round at him, but it was to late. His target had already mounted the turret, and turned it in his direction. His bullets was reflected by the front shield of the turret. The barrels started to spin. Shadow taunted an proned, but he was pretty sure, that this was the last thing he would do alive. A “lance” from the roof pierced trough the small window in the front shield. The gunner collapsed. "I owe you a beer, Phantom!", Shadow said to himself. At his left Ronin proceed to advance, he fired two rounds and downed another enemy. Laserpointers danced trough the smoke. Their foes were defintly confused. From the right side Valkyrie started an attack, her bullets hit one of the heavy trooper. The impact let him spin around, before he fell on his knees and finally collapsed. Devestator stayed behind them and provided cover, his grenade launcher was no weapon for close quarter combat and his handgun lacks of firepower. Shadow noticed a noise behind him, he turned his head. A warrior in crimson armor stands behind him. But his body was limp and lifeless, his gun dangled in his right hand. At the troopers throat Shadow noticed the cold metal of combat knife. "Watch your back, Shadow!", hissed Paladin. "Thank you!", Shadow muttered. He turned back, guess it is going to be an expensive evening at the bar in Laputa, he thought. Ronin had left his cover and made his way to the elevator. His rounds fell the hostile forces in his way. Amazon support him from the left side. Their enemies were caught in their crossfire and returned the fire only sporadic. Suddenly Valkyrie screamed, dropped her rifle and ducked behind a metal crate. Shadow cursed, and ran from one cover to the next cover to reach her.
Smith saw his comrades fall an remained flat on the ground. He has to reach his weapon. The trooper next to him broke down and burried him with his dead body. He pushed the corpse away. Why we have to secure our weapons with fingerprint-identifiers he thought. He know the answer, to prevent other factions from using them if they were able to capture this weapons. But in situations like that, the fingerprint-identifier was just an unwanted obstacle. There were not many of them left. The security reacted to slow this time. And this guys were defintly not from the Desert Fox, they were much better organized, better equiped... another trooper hit the ground... and more surehitting. He reached the turret, perhaps he should mount it. He decided to grab his handgun first. However as he tried to reach his weapon someone stepped at his right hand. He looked up, a tall woman pointed with her rifle at his head:"If you want to stay alive, don’t try anything... stupid!". Slow Smith moved his left arm beyond his helmet his helmet:"I compromise!".
Shadow and Valkyrie approached the elevator. "Are you ok?" , Ronin asked. "A grazing shot hit my left arm! Unpleasent but nothing critical!", was her short answer. "Ok, let’s move out, commander! I’m getting sick of this dusty hall!" , Shadow grunted. Ronin shook his head: "The Elevator doors are blocked!", he pointed at a trooper in crimson armor, who was tied up with a cable "And Amazons new boyfriend here is not very talkative! He is just telling us that we are traitors, responsible for the broke with the recultians and that we will die soon!". Shadow took a look around: "Where is Devestator?". Ronin looked around, too. He shrugged his shoulders: I don’t know! Paladin check his last position!". Paladin nodded and disappeared behind some crates. Valkyrie took off her helmet and detached a planel at the elevator. Her long blond hair was in a mess. The pressure of the helmet “glued” it to her head. She took a short look and grabbed some tools from her belt."Give me five minutes and this elevator is our elevator", she blinked. "I would prefer if you keep wearing your helmet!", Ronin said. "You dont like my face?", Valkyrie joked "The helmet is limiting my sight! If I work with the helmet it will cost us more time!". "People who don’t wear their helmets... my favourite victims!", Phantom jumped on the ground from a crate. "Nice work, Phantom!", Ronin greets her. "Something strange happened down here! Before I finished their Th... ehrmm... Therakan Commander he blew something like a whistle! I didn’t hear a noise, but I’m pretty sure he called something!". They hear loud laughter. Amazon pushed her rifle against the neck of their prisoner:"Would you be so kind and tell us what is so funny?". Smith stopped laughing:"The commander called your doom! We are all going to die down here, you destroyed the defence grid!". Amazon pushed him again:"What did he call?". "Hell!", they heared Paladin’s voice. Ronin raised his assault rifle:"Shadow follow me! Valkyrie get this elevator under our control! Amazon, Phantom cover her! And if our friend here is trying anything stupid... Stop him!".
They reached Paladin. Silent Paladin pointed at another blood trail. A fresh one! At the ground layed Devestator’s pistol. Ronin shivered, than he gave orders:"Paladin, you go back to the extraction point! Instruct them to take defense positions! Shadow follow me!". Shadow placed his hand on Ronins shoulder:"Is this really clever? We both know where the trace will stop!". Ronin pushed his hand away:"We don’t know, if he is still alive! But it is possible and I’m not going to leave one of my men here to die!". Shadow nodded and raised his rifle:"I accept your orders and will follow you!". He looked at the ground: "We should hurry! He already had lost al lot of blood!". Paladin vanished and they started to follow the trace.
In the dark they spoted a human contour in the dark. "Devestator?", Ronin started to hurry. Shadow hissed, he don’t like the whole operation and now his commander gets incautious. They reached Johnson. He sat at a crate, bleed was at several places of his armor. But not only human blood. There was blood in a diffrent color, a dark color, Shadow was not able to identify in the darkness. Shadow knelt down. When he started to examine Devestator he heared him mutter something. "I didn’t understand you!", he answered and continued to check the injuries. Johnson had lost a lot of blood. Deep cuts were on his chest. Johnson started to mutter again:"Sssh! Don’t speak! It is to exhausting in your condition!", Shadow ordered, while he opened the Medipack. He was really happy now, that he took part in the advanced medic training. Johnson was critically injured, it would take a lot of medical care to enable them to transport him. He looked in the dark for a second. And whatever injured Johnson it was out there. Ronin secures the area. Johnson muttered again. He was trying to say something. "Condemned, stop it, Johnson!", Shadow taunted while he injected him a pain-killing serum. But Johnson kept muttering. Suddenly a shadow jumped from a crate an hit Shadow. The hit send Shadow on the ground. In front of him was a creature out of a nightmare. The body of the creature was strewn with spikes. The skin looked very hard and was colored in a dark grey. Long “claws” at hands and the “feet”, if you can call the extremities of this creature so. The long fangs covered a large part of the “face”. But the feature taht made Shadow shiver, was the eyes of this creature. In the light of his shoulderlamp they looked like human eyes and remained him, what the forefathers of this creature had been. Ronin had swirled around immediatly. He fired a burst of bullets and hit the creature directly in the head. Shadow jumped up and grabbed his gun. Another creature attacked out of the darkness. He was able to hit the creature and dodge the cadaver. "Grab Johnson and retreat!", Ronin screamed while he fired rounds. "Impossible! I’n his condition it would kill him, if we carry him back to the elevator!", Shadow replied and finished another one of the transgenants. A claw out of nowhere piereced his shoulder he screamed in pain and fell down on his knees. Ronin aimed and eliminated his attacker. Shadow grabbed the hand of the dead creature and pulled it. He nearly lost his consciousness, when he slowly removed the claw. Black dots danced trough his field of side. Ronin reloaded his weapon, cartridge cases rolled at the ground. The creatures were encircling them, at least Ronin was pretty sure that they try to do so. He had acted like an idiot. This transgenants were not stupid. They had used Devestator as a decoy. He looked at Shadow, who was dealing with his injured shoulder. Another creature attacked them. A shower of bullets hit the creature and threw it back. Shadow reloaded, too. Ronin checked his ammunition: only two magazines left. "Damn I’m short of ammunition!" , he shouted. Shadow threw his ammunition belt to Ronin, after he took three of the magazines: "Here use it well! These magazines were my life-insurance!". Ronin nodded:"Thank you! I won’t disappoint you!". Shadow crouched to Johnson. Johnson raised slowly his right hand, Shadow stopped:"No!". Johnson clasped an unsecured hand-grenade. Only the “death-man-trigger” was active. When Johnson would open his hand, the grenade would explode. Johnson spoke slow, but clear this time:"Go... Leave!". "Don’t be such an idiot! We don’t need a damned martyr!", Shadow shouted. In the background Ronin intercepted another “jump-attack”. "You... two... are.. arghh... the idiots!", Johnson breathed heavy, "I’m already... a... dead-man... Don’t sacrifice your... ugh... lives... for a... corpse!". "Grab him!", Ronin shouted. "Get out!... I’m going... to let this grenade detonate! Arghhh... If you... two stubborn ...idiots not leave... we’re ...all going...to die!", Johnson muttered in pain. Shadow nodded and started to retreat. Ronin shook his head in horror but followed him fireing all the time. Running they broke through the enemy circle. The transgenants hadn’t expect them to leave their trap without Johnson. They heared angry roars beyond them. A detonation reached their ears. "No, damn!", Shadow hit a crate in fury. His fist broke through the old wood and his arm clamed in the crate. A noise behind him, told him taht he had made a big mistake. The force of the impact made threw him and the crate to the ground. The crate landed directly at his body an the transgenant. Dazzed he looked in the eyes of the creature, who raised his hand. A bullet penetrated the head of the creature. Ronin pushed the dead transgenant away from Shadow and liberate his arm from the crate. He said something but Shadow was to numb to understand him, he was even to numb to move. The impact had nearly stunned him. Shadow tried to move but instead of standing up he passed out. Ronin grabbed his neck and started to pull him in the direction of the extraction point. Ronin turned his head: Left Side... crates, crates, barrels. Right side: crates, crates, barrels. Behind him: crates and an empty floor. In front of him: nothing but crates and barrels. He felt sweat running over his forehead. He holds the assault rifle with the left hand. In case of an emergency he was able to fill the air with lead, but he was absolutly not able to fire aimed shoots. A movement in front of him caught his attention. He swirled to the right and fired a round in the gap between two crates. A painfull roar showed him that he hit the creature who hide between them. "Com’on guys! The trick is older than my grandfather!", he muttered. Again he noticed movements in the darkness in front of him. The small red dot of his laserpointer illuminated the skin of a creature.
He started to fire, but this time the creatures didn’t trying to ambush him. This was a frontal attack. He saw some of the creatures broke down, but they were imediatly replaced by other ones. A loud *click* told him, that his rounds had emptied his magazine. Shadows weight made his right arm numb, but he started to pull even more. He threw the now useless rifle away and pull his pistol out of his holster. Twelve Shoots left. He fired, a creature broke down. Eleven, the creatures decrease the distance between them. He fired again, but missed this time. Ten Shoots. The distance was decreasing, he felt that he gets nervous. In haste he fired two shoots, one creature broke down, another one was injured but still following him. Shadow had been right. They never had the chance to save Johnson and perhaps he had sacrificed their lifes in a useless rescue attempt. Eight Shoots. He pulled the trigger but nothing happened: The cartridge chip clamped. Taunting he threw the defect weapon in the dark. Now he was a dead man... Another object flew through the air and landed between the creatures. The detonation swirled some them trough the air. The surving transgenants stopped surprised. Paladin and Amazon appeared behind Ronin. Their rifles spit fire and downed several creatures. Ronin used the welcome surprise to shoulder Shadow. He started to run, covered by his two squadmembers. "We heared the gun-fire and decided that you need some help!", Paladin explained. "You disobeyed an order, but I’m really glad to see you!", Ronin replied. Amazon released the saftey catch of a grenade an throw it in the darkness. The roars show, that creatures still hunting them. "Where is Devbestator?", she asked. Ronins voice lowered:"Dead!". They fell silent. Finally they reached the elevator. The transgenants resign every tactic now and started to attack from every position. A sniper bullet elimated three of them, who ran in a line. "Close the doors!", Ronin shouted. Valkyrie, who was waiting with Phantom and the Prisoner in elevator obeyed, the doors started to close. Ronin reached the elevator, Paladin directly behind him. Amazon sneaked through the doors in the last second. They heared angry roars outside the elevator. The creatures hit the massive doors. "Bring us out of here!", Ronin commanded. Valkyrie confirmed. The lift moved, while firstboils in the doors develop. "Is this elevator safe?”, Ronin asked. "Yes, Sir! I hacked the complete controls! They are no longer able to control it from their security-rooms!", was Valkyrie’s short reply. Ronin knelt by their captive:"Listen guy... and listen good! I’ve lost a squaddie out there! I want to hear some facts from you!". Smith don’t even look in his face:"Go to hell!". Ronin slapped him:"Wrong answer! But I’ve got a nice idea! We’re going to take you with us to Laputa! There we have... let us call them... specialists, for guys like you!". Smith didn’t react, but Ronin was able to see the fear in his eyes. A bit satisfied he raised and walked to Shadow, who regained consciousness. He knelt down again:"Sorry, your opinion about our “rescue mission” was right!". Shadow shook his head:"At least we tried to save him! It was bad luck, that we hadn’t been able to succeed! I’m glad to know, I’ve got a squadleader who is going to take a lot of risk to save me!". "In fact I owe you a beer for carrying me to the elevator!", he stated. Ronin grinned:"Just one beer for carrying your weight?". Shadow sighted and shrugged his shoulder:"I’m sorry! I had been safed so often today that I can not afford more than one beer for each of my “guardian angels”!".
The elevator reached Level 1. Slowly they left the cage. They was able to seetheir capsula trough the open front door. "It was a real master piece to land, directly in front of the entrance!", Amazon remarked. "Let us hope, that our crimson friends, have not manipulated our capsula!", Paladin said. I don’t think so! Its recultian technic, at a high level! Without codes nobody is able to open the capsula and you need a lot of firepower to damage it!", Phantom said. They used their last smoke grenades to cover they way to the capsula. Without problems they reached their dropship. While Amazon was securing the hostage, Ronin felt how the adrenalin vanished. Damn, he had lost one of his Squaddies. Untill this day his squad had been the last Laputa squad which had not suffered losses. And manpower was a ressource the new Order of the Phoenix was always short of. The capsula took off. He looked trough one of the small windows. He would never understand why their ancestors “surrendered” and accepted the deal with the recultians, instead of fighting. They sold their homeplanet... his homeplanet. Angry he looked at the hostage. Hopefully the specialists in Laputa get some information from this bastard. Why they attack other surving groups and stay loyal to the greys. Where they got the technology to controll, or at least, call, the transgenants. He looked at Valkyries backpack. He hoped that this little piece of old day technology, justify all the losses the Desert Fox and now they had to take, to gain it. He leaned back... This day would follow him, chase him, trough a lot of nightmares at night.