Chapter 2: Dion1
It was like flying through a tunnel. Above me a few more heavy items were entering. Then I heard a distant voice say, "Power exhausted, portal closed". With that the screen above me, the only way back to Night City, turned dark and vanished. There was the sound of a muffled explosion from above and I knew that there would be no way home.
Whatever opened this gate was gone and I suspected and hoped the plans for it was gone to. Either deleted when the computer ran out of power, or they were here in this tunnel with me. The scientists who built this were probably dead. IMT guarded their secrets closely. They probably murdered the portal's inventors when the gate began the testing stage. While this portal was my best ticket home, the though of such a device in the hands of unscrupulous businesses frightened me.
Suddenly I got this massive headache, so powerful I couldn't think. It subsided quickly, lasting only a few seconds. The end of the tunnel was far below me. I looked up and saw the tunnel was closing in as if the roof was falling along with me. Fortunately it remained at a constant height confirming what I thought. That when Night City's portal closed, the tunnel would collapse after everything in it was ejected out the other end. At least I hoped so. I could now see the exit quite plainly. I gulped when I saw what was on the other side.
It was space, some unknown moon or planet without any atmosphere or life. With power gone and the controls damaged beyond repair, I was probable sent to a random location with no hope of rescue. The exit was close now. Passing through it was like being thrown out of a one story window. I flew for about ten feet before landing on the ground. I looked around and saw the scattering of everything else in the room. I turned around to look at the portal with enough time to dodge the desk heaved out of it.
In seconds the portal deposited everything it had consumed and vanished in a purple haze. I checked the others who were alive when they entered. But they had died, probably of suffocation and exposure. I looked around at my surroundings and decided that the risk of theft was nil. I had the helmet radio do a scan of the frequencies in hope of contacting someone. To my surprise, I heard something almost instantly.
It was a male voice screaming for help. It was strange that I could understand what he was saying. He claimed to be under attack by Axis forces and was crashing. I looked up and saw the source of the signal. Above me were a pair of large robots in hand to hand combat. One was damaged and was doing a swan dive into the dust covered plain fifty feet away. The other robot looked pretty mean, bashing the other mercilessly with a mace. It's insignia was a fist on a blue background.
I knew a bit of history and figured that the attacker was probably part of Axis, like in World War II. I was inclined to aid the other, which had some of the characteristics of a construction machine complete with yellow paint and black diagonal stripes along the left clawed arm. To hazard a guess, I'd say the defender was using the construction robot only because it was the only one available. My helmet radio can be attuned to two different frequencies so I had it tuned to the Axis robot as they both hit the ground. The damaged one was on the bottom and the Axis held its mace high about its head about to smash the canopy of the other. The construction robot pilot pleaded for mercy and yelling surrender over a common frequency. The other one said, "Prepare to die second rate UAA scum! Axis will crush all who oppose us!"
That sent me into action. I've always believed in equality. Some of my most trusted employees were minorities and women. Hearing this made me think there was a rather strong similarity between this world's Axis and my own. The Colt was out in a flash and unfolded quickly in my hands. In addition to being lighter and recoilless, I also made it useable in space in case I ever chose to expand into Earth's orbital stations. Though the Colt's scope I noticed that the Axis robot had a damaged shoulder joint. I aimed for that spot and fired.
In space, no one can hear you scream. They also can't hear the sound of a metal arm being blown off. But I could hear the pilot scream in surprise over the radio. The UAA pilot wasn't one to pass an opportunity as he brought the robot's cutting torch to bear against the other leaving a long scar across the Axis robot's chest.
I leaped forward just as the Axis fired its head laser at me. The lunar sand turned to glass as I peeled off another shot. This time I wasn't really aiming for any part. But I got lucky as the bullet impacted in the chest where the torch left its mark. Sparks flew everywhere and the Axis robot fell. By the time I reached them a panel in the fallen warrior popped open and a figure came out. He was human, could probably even pass as a normal person in Night city. He looked at me with pure hatred in his eyes as he pulled his pistol out of its holster. Big mistake. I was carrying the Colt by the handle with my left hand. My submachine gun, looped across my chest, was in easy reach for my right hand. Before he could even aim, his suit had several holes.
My gamble paid off, I wasn't sure if the submachine gun worked with no air. I knew the Colt required oxygen to burn the propulsion fuel, but that was mixed in with the shell and that regular guns used a chemical reaction, one apparently without air. With the reduced gravity of the moon, I leaped over the fallen robot to check the body. The UAA robot was getting up and surveying the damage. The only items of any worth Axis pilot was his pistol and a few clips of ammo. The pistol looked like something I might have sold once. I didn't think it was much different than Earth tech. Huh, with the capabilities to built giant robots, you'd think they'd put a bit of effort into improving personal armaments. Maybe no one thought it was necessary. I could make a fortune selling them weapons designs.
Then the other pilot come on line. "What are you doing? He's dead?" he asked.
"I wanted to be sure. Besides, we have a saying where I come from, 'Do on to others. Then loot their bodies.' To the victor goes the spoils and stuff. Besides, if I hadn't intervened, you'd be a red smear inside that fancy suit of yours." I replied.
"I suppose you're right, still checking the body for trophies... Well, thanks a lot for helping. I'm Lieutenant Cedric Artis. What kind of gun is that anyway? I've never seen anything like it!"
"Not surprising, this is a custom built Colt-Mauser cannon. The ultimate in personal defense. My name is Nate Conners, but I prefer Fox. I'm the second in command of Rapid Fire Arms Service. The biggest weapons dealer in Night City. Not to put a damper on the conversation, but when is a ship coming over? I got less than half an hour's worth of air in this suit. And while you're at it, can you tell my just where the heck I am and what's going on here!"
"I already radioed the shuttle. It should be here soon. It was transporting me to Dion1, our first moon base. You are on Algol's primary moon, Dion. Some time ago Algol was in a terrible war between its nations. But when our suns started to dim, the planet began to freeze. To save ourselves, peace was declared and scientists tried to stop a new ice age. The mysterious Murians offered a solution, they help converted our military space complexes into solar arrays. With them, sunlight could be directed onto the planet keeping it warm. The United Algol Alliance (UAA) was formed to keep the peace. But then Axis appeared.
"It is a terrorist organization from Karga who demanded the execution of Karga's leader for war crimes. Though he is found innocent, Axis was not satisfied with the trial and threatened to destroy the arrays unless a guilty verdict was handed down. During the course of the trail, however, evidence was presented that clearly proved that Karga's leader had nothing to do with the crimes. In fact fingers started pointing to Axis. This only outraged Axis and an their leader declared that one day he would rule Algol.
"In responce the Overwatch program was formed. A space police force to protect the arrays and Algol itself from Axis. The best of the four nations of Algol were chosen to fill its ranks. Those with the best test scores became the crew and flight squadron of the UAA's first cruisers, Rimfire. I was placed second in command of the Rimfire's flight crew. Myself and the other nine squadron members are suppose to meet on Dion 1 within the hour. Now tell me what brought you here."
I began to walk back to where I first entered this world. Cedric joined me and I gave him an edited version of my story. "I'm from Night City from planet Earth. Though there are still many official governments, a few large corporations are basically in charge. Rapid Fire is a local business I helped create from scratch. My prosperity had angered one of the execs in Miltech, a worldwide weapons manufacturer. This person had a few friends and were planning to separate from Miltech and form their own company. Since Miltech couldn't fight its own people, they asked me to take care of the malcontents in return, they would get off my back. I already hated the people in question so I took the job.
"If they did succeed in forming their own company, I knew their first priority would to put me out of business before killing me. We had a long history. The job was too dangerous to risk my friends so I hired a C-team, professional mercs, to help me. They were secured in a science lab. A firefight began. Soon the targets were dead, but the controls to this big screen were damaged. It was some sort of stargate, a portal to other world. The damage to the computer screwed it up and opened the portal to a random location--here. Myself and everything in the lab was sucked through it. I'm the only survivor. Now the portal's gone and I seem to be stuck here."
I began to sift through the garbage left here by the portal, taking whatever weapons I could. Cedric peered over me with fascination. "The UAA would definitely want a look at some of this, think you could see to letting us examine a few items?" he asked.
I pondered my situation. It would behoove me to let make the locals happy. Here I was with no money, job, home, or place for me. "Well since I was in charge of the C-team, I decide what happens to them. The possessions of others are mine by right of conquest. But I think I can let your labs have whatever I can't use or don't need, for a favor."
"I can't make any sort of deal with you. For now let's go to Dion1 and sort it out there. Shuttle's here."
The large craft had landing nearby. It was damaged in several places, but not seriously. I put a few grenades and ammo clips into a satchel I found and grabbed an assault rifle before boarding the shuttle. Cedric helped me move everything into the cargo bay where the robot was kept before leading me inside.
They weren't many people on the shuttle. I was led to a seat as the shuttle prepared to lift off. After we got on our way Cedric sat down in the seat next to me. He was a tall man about my height but a few years younger than myself with a head of bright red hair. I could detect no cybernetics within him and wondered if they existed on Algol. "Why don't you remove your helmet, Fox? You're among friends now." he said.
Truthfully I was worried that the air here might me poisonous to me, but the suit's air supply was almost gone. Having little choice, I broke the helmet's seal and took it off taking a deep breath of Algolian shuttle air. Well I didn't die, get sick, gasp for real air, or turn funny colors as I half expected. In fact it was the purest are that was ever in my lungs.
Night City is filled with pollution, clean air is a luxury you have to pay for. When I exhaled, you could almost see wisps of smog coming from my mouth. I began to breathe deeply, enjoying the feel of unpolluted air flowing though me. I began to hyperventilate and Cedric grew concerned. He was in the mist of calling the medic when I stopped him, "This air is better than what I get back home. I'm just trying to enjoy it."
The medic came anyway. He scanned me with some sort of wand and examined the readings closely. "I took the liberty of examining the bodies brought in. Rather fascinating actually. Very advanced cybernetics, but hardly any of it was medically necessary." he said.
I fought down a wave of panic. Those bodies were my trump card. Handing them over to the UAA for study would get me the leverage to start my new life here. Now this guy goes and tries to ruin it for me. The anger boiling inside me subsided when the medic said, "I can't get enough information from the scan to reproduce them. Hands on examination is necessary. I would relish the opportunity to study them later, if you'll permit me Mr...."
"Name's Fox. Whether or not I allow you to learn from them depends what the UAA is willing to offer me. But I think, you'll get your chance." I replied.
This was working better than I thought. Now the UAA is left wanting for more. Curiosity will get the better of them so short of stealing the bodies, they will owe me big. Of course if they did try to take them without my permission, there was little I could do about it. The medic said, "Well anyway, Mr.Fox does seem to be in good health. He's carrying no unknown diseases, but he does have some cybernetic parts including some I've never seen before."
The medic left and I began to remove my armor. In my backpack I kept my usual clothes. Nothing too much, just my favorite armored jacked and flack pants. Fortunately underneath my armor I was at least partially clothed. None the less, I had Cedric led me to the lavatory to give me some privacy. When you venture into unknown turf, you should always be prepared. I checked the ammo in all my usual weapons, mostly full as I only used two SMGs in the fight at Miltech. My heavy pistol fit snugly in my left shoulder holster. In the rush to complete the mission, I had forgotten to clean out my backpack. As a result there were items left in there that would have been ordinarily removed but now could prove useful. There were a collection of mini-disks, skill chips, my cellular phone, pocket computer, the unopened pack of science chips I got on sale, my little black book, wrist rockets for my cyber arm, a few blueprints I planned to give Ratchet, my techie, and perhaps the most precious possession I own, a family photograph at the reunion shortly before the attack. A sigh escaped my mouth when I realized that the Conners family clan had ended on Earth. As the last Conners, it was my duty to carry on the family tradition. Maybe even get married and pass on the Conners name. That will have to wait. After some more digging, I found a few more odds and ends of dubious value and payed them no mind. I slid on my mirrored shades and stretched before opening the door.
I'll always remember the look on his face. It must have been some surprise to see me there in leather clothes with a gun at my side. Don't know what he was expecting, but I don't think I was it. To his credit, Cedric said nothing. Suddenly a voice came over the intercom, "Stand by to dock at Dion 1. Lieutenant Cedric Artis, General Haversom requests your and your companion's presence in his office immediately after docking."
The shuttle made a large clanking noise and the computer reported that docking was complete. A side door opened and there were two uniformed guards standing in the doorway. "Welcome to Dion1. Lieutenant, if you and your friend will follow us..." one guard said.
He turned to me and stated that my belongings would be put into cargo bay 45 for the time being. As we were being escorted to the general's office, I allowed myself the luxury of looking about. The first part we passed through was the living quarters. Soldiers walked about minding their own business. We went past the cafeteria. It was rather full indicating that is was a meal time. At the though of food, I recalled how long it had been since I'd eaten. My stomach growled in agreement. By the time we'd reached an elevator, I'd noticed that we were being followed by a large group of people who were curious, yet fearful, about my appearance. They were all wondering just who I was and what business I had on the station. I smiled inwardly hoping that this would be their reaction. As we boarded the elevator, I nodded and gave a short, friendly wave to everyone. No doubt as to what everyone was going to be talking about for a while. The doors closed and I felt the elevator moving up a floor.
When the doors opened, I immediately knew that this was the administration level. There were desks everywhere and people chattering on headsets. Various maps were scattered about. The back of the wall was a large flag of the UAA, a dark blue sphere with five smaller balls around it against a light blue background. I had no time to gawk as the guards were encouraging me to enter a door. Sitting at the desk was General Haversom. He looked sixtyish with a bald head and a healthy greying beard. The general seemed to be in a good mood as he warmly invited us in and to take a seat. The first thing he did was ask Cedric what happened in the shuttle attack.
Cedric recited how the Axis Badlander attacked and how he used the construction mekton the shuttle was transporting to fight it. He reported exactly what happened leaving nothing out. Cedric didn't seem ashamed that he would have lost if I wasn't there and my opinion of him went up a notch. The only thing he left out was my story when he said I can do a better job than he in telling it. He said that he was surprised that it was a Badlander sent to attack him, because it was a land mekton and that it was as if he had been targeted for destruction. Haversom had a grim look on his face and said, "Axis has learned of Rimfire's existence and had planned to attack each shuttle carrying squadron members. There had been two other attacks before we started providing an escort to the shuttles. Unfortunately one of your teammates didn't survive. One Ensign Daric Tallus, our melee expert. Funeral services will be held tonight after all Rimfire members have arrived. The final shuttle is expected to arrive in 3 hours. I suspect that Axis modified their Badlanders because they felt it wasn't necessary to send anything bigger against a shuttle and a construction mekton. Which brings us to you, young man. Please tell me how you got here."
I introduced myself and gave him the same story I told Cedric. "There appears to be a new opening in Rimfire for a hand to hand expert. I happen to be familiar with two forms of martial arts, plus I have been in many mekton-less battles against a variety of foes. I believe I would make a perfect replacement for the Ensign. Now I realize that there are some areas I lack in, but what I don't know I can learn. If my request is granted, I would be willing to offer whatever you may wish for study from cargo bay 45."
I could tell that the general was already planning to ask to be part of Rimfire by his body language. Volunteering would be more impressive though. "Yes, I have been told about the 'items' they include the corpses of your fallen comrades do they not?"
"They were a hired team, no more. But they were good soldiers and I request that a proper burial be given when you are through. As for the others, do with them as you wish. I do not want to sound barbaric by this, but I am stranded here with nothing but what happened to be in the lab when the portal opened up. I must make the most of what I was given."
"Good point. Well Fox, welcome to Rimfire. You will be given the rank of Acting-Ensign until your military training is complete. Because of your claimed prior experiences, you will be given tests to learn what areas you need training in, instead of the full standard course. I wish you to accompany the scientists to cargo bay 45 and explain to them what you can about what they will find. You may keep whatever you wish from the items so long as there you either leave another one to be studied or be prepared to loan it to them. Is that understood?"
"Excellent. Cedric, you may leave now to go to your quarters or wherever you wish. The funeral will be held at 2000 hours. Please be there. Acting-Ensign Conners, you will be shown to cargo bay 45 where you will carry out my request. Dismissed."