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Osetto
03.27.2012 , 12:05 PM | #8
Chapter Seven: The Breakout

“So, you guys miss me?” Aurek asked over the channel. The words resonated in the ears of the six Imperial troopers. Finally, they had their squad leader back. In spirit, at least, as there was still the matter of getting him out of the locked down armory.

“We made do. Love to have you back, though,” Besh teased.

“Good to hear,” Aurek stated with a rather pleasant tone. “I got everything readied and suited up on my end. Have Dorn splice the door or Esk blow it off, I’m just ready to leave this place.”

“Actually, both Dorn and Esk are guarding the shuttle back in the hangar,” Besh admitted after a beat. A lengthy silence fell upon the squad’s communications.

“Don’t worry Aurek,” Dorn interjected. “I’m patched into the system. I should be able to remotely lift the lockdown from here.” Besh’s group adopted a much more casual appearance from their previous defensive positions. No longer kneeling with weapons drawn, the other three troopers opted to lean on the solid walls of the hallway as they waited for their leader’s return.

“What’s your status Dorn?” Besh asked after an extended period of silence.

“Having a bit of trouble on my end,” Dorn admitted with growing frustration. “Diagnostics are showing that the armory had an independent security system. And I can’t seem to find it.”

“The armory’s doors aren’t on the grid?” Besh asked for clarification.

“No,” Dorn shot back. “I mean, they aren’t right now. They were before. Not before as in earlier, but, okay as in earlier, but not since I spliced in.

“What are you trying to say?” Besh questioned with a heavy sigh.

“The doors are locked. Not because of the ship-wide lockdown. Because of the on-site locking mechanism,” Dorn explained with increasing haste. “I should still have some sort of control over it from the master override, but something removed the door’s information completely from the system.”

“Aurek?” Besh interposed, with a slightly accusatory tone.

“That… may have something to do with me blasting the control panel inside here,” Aurek confessed. The silence that followed from the other side of the doorway provided all of the shame needed for the squad leader. “It was the only way I knew to lock the door from the inside. I didn’t want someone on the bridge overriding it.”

“Then why did you even suggest Dorn splicing he door?” Besh interrogated.

“The panel might be scrap on this end, but I don’t think it made it through to the exterior door controls.” Taking a quick look at the protruding block next to the door, Besh could see that the control panel was indeed intact. A closer look, however, provided less enthusiastic news.

“The panel out here says ‘Unit Unresponsive. Call Maintenance’. Where did you even get a blaster?” Besh inquired.

“I am in an armory,” Aurek answered with pride. The second in command was forced to bring his hand to his visor’s brow.

“Aurek, are you behind the door right now?” Besh asked in his more usual serene tone.

“Yeah.”

“Well, don’t be.”

Stepping aside, Aurek did not even have time to respond before door was knocked off its supports by the thunderous right foot of Grek. As the dented door fell sufficiently behind the visibly shaken soldier, the colossal trooper stepped aside to allow Besh passage into the humble armory.

Aurek stood frozen, unremarkable in appearance compared to his squad mates. Wearing the same set of armor, he possessed no indication of proper rank or authority, only his name written in white on his right pauldron. As the sniper examined the room, he noticed saw various racks of weaponry and light armors encroaching upon the already cramped floor space. His attention was drawn to the warped door that lay rocking back on fort near the back wall.

“They don’t build ships like they used to,” Besh commented, seemingly oblivious to the Aurek’s frozen figure.

“You want to give me more of a warning before you have Grek go kicking in doors?” Aurek slowly yet intently asked as he regained his composure.

Grek hesitantly peered in through the gap in the wall he had created before offering a slight wave of the hand in condolence. He thought to apologize from a closer proximity, but decided the armory was cramped enough. Outside the room, the other two soldiers seemed to be enjoying the light torment their squad leader was enduring.

“A warning? How about you warn us the next time you’re about to go mouth off complaints to the Director about our missions being too easy,” Besh calmly suggested.

“That was said in confidence to her. And it wasn’t a complaint,” Aurek corrected. “It was simply a factual statement. No cognitive emotional value attached to it all. Plus it wasn’t the Director who was behind this excursion, it was the Patrons, who felt the need to monitor that particular social interaction.”

“You know Project protocol. ‘Always assume you are under surveillance. Whether it be by friend or foe’,” Besh recited through monotone. “Speaking of which…” Besh broke conversation and made his way out of the armory, bringing two fingers to his helm’s right temple. “Dorn, did you manage to scrap the ship’s monitoring data?”

“Oh? Uh, yeah. I mean, yes sir,” Dorn answered, as if caught by surprise. “All data regarding Aurek being unmasked has been disposed of.”

“Something wrong Dorn?” Aurek chimed in as he exited the confined room, seemingly taking control of his squad away from Besh.

“‘Wrong’ is a strong word,” Dorn non-answered.

“Yes, that’s why I used it. Is there?” Aurek persisted.

“Well, you know how the door panel mysteriously disappeared from the system before. It would seem that the same thing happened to the, well, entire door,” Dorn hesitantly admitted.

“Right, that was Grek applying a manual override,” Aurek informed, glancing to the door-less opening. Grek offered another apologetic wave of his hand.

“That I gathered. It’s just that afterwards, activity on the ship’s security grid seems to have… spiked… significantly. Monitoring equipment. Room diagnostics. Everything,” Dorn hastily explained.

“So they’re aware of our presence. More aware at least,” Aurek clarified.

“It would seem so. They must have been biding their time, waiting for us to reveal where you had stowed away,” Dorn reasoned. “Orders are pouring out from the bridge. Main systems are being recalibrated. Auxiliary systems are being flushed. Troop movement is up-”

“What does it all mean, Dorn?” Aurek asked, keeping his calm as awaited the slicer to reach an adequate conclusion.

“They’ve been holding back, sir,” Dorn softly stated. Silence permeated from the entire squad.

“So they have,” Aurek replied, unfazed. “Dorn. Esk. There’s a chance they might not send everyone after us-”

“Don’t worry, boss,” Esk interjected alongside a light chuckle. “Everything’s fine over here. Got some defenses set up and what have you. You all just make it back in one piece.”

“Just make sure the hangar is there when we do return,” Aurek ordered, carrying Esk’s jovial tone as his own.

“Will do.” Thereupon, the communications between the two groups ceased.