CHAPTER 20.4

Approx. 1700 words

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2015   SJ

Chaos: Infinite Darkness

Reporting Darkness

 

written by  SJ

 

 

    The darkness of space was no comparison to the Infinite Darkness Lana had found on Cimarron. She flew out away from the planet, then made her call, or rather multiple calls at once. She was surprised when the General and Major Taliaferro answered almost at the same time.
    Technically, there wasn’t a whole to lot explain. The two Chaos warships, the Pendulum of Doom and the Legion were in geostationary orbit directly above Cimarron’s capital city, which was encompassed by Infinite Darkness approximately eight kilometers in diameter. As for Chaos ground troops, she was only able to relay what she had been told by Lieutenant Lawrence, explaining it in military terms.
    The two commanders were silent after she had given her report. It was obvious they were taken by surprise as much as she was.
    “So, the whole city is covered by Infinite Darkness.” Yarrick’s exclamation startled Lana, not noticing the extra com light.
    “How long have you been listening?” The General needed to ask.
    “A few seconds after you guys got the call.”
    “So Officer LaFong doesn’t need to repeat anything?” General Parker wanted to check.
    “No.” Yarrick was now seen on video. “Do you know if Chaos can see in that Darkness?”
    “We think so.” Lana answered plainly. “Shortly after Planetary Guard forces arrived, Screamers came out and attacked them. They took casualties.”
    “What’s their situation now?” The Major asked concerning the Planetary troops.
    Lana reported the details of Lieutenant Lawrence’s encounter with the Screamers and their fall back to a fortified position, and that the other members of her team was with them. She also reported leaving Bull, Gannon, and Ramos on Fahrenheit, and asked if she could transfer them to Planetary Guard HQ on Cimarron.
    The Major gave his okay.
    “LaFong, do you know how Chaos is making that zone of Infinite Darkness?” Yarrick asked, then suddenly realized how remote the possibly of her knowing was. “Yeah...okay.” He chuckled, then sat thinking.
    “If we could find that out, that would be invaluable information.” The General suddenly took on the pose of the thinker.
    “I’ve rescued a few people that managed to find their way out of the Zone on their own.” Lana responded after a couple seconds. “But, it’s obvious none of them know anything. And the chance of someone making their way out from the absolute CENTER of the city is next to impossible...and that’s assuming they even saw, or even knew they saw, what was causing the Darkness BEFORE it caused the Darkness.” She sighed. “What I need is a pair of those Tau Goggles, something I heard they invented to see in Infinite Darkness.”
    There was silence for another several seconds...
    “I’d have to make a call, but I think I know someone, that knows someone, that may have a prototype of those Goggles.” Yarrick spoke up clearly.
    “You’re serious?” The General was surprised, but doubtful.
    “Let me get back to you.” Yarrick’s video went offline.
    There was another delay, then the Major spoke, asking seriously. “Lana...what do you think you’d be able to do with a pair of those Goggles?”
    Lana sat thinking...
    The Major sighed. “I’d have to advise against you going into the Zone of Darkness even with those Goggles.”
    She continued to think.
    “Sounds like to me you know her pretty well, huh, Major?” The General sort of chuckled, then became serious. “But, I’d have to agree with Ben.”
    “I don’t have the Goggles, yet.” Lana sat and half smiled. “So it’s a mute point.” She then postulated, rhetorically. “And even if Yarrick did acquire them, how long would it take him to bring them here?”
    “2.175 days.” Yarrick’s video was back online.
    Genuinely surprised, the General exclaimed, speaking the High Commissar’s first name. “Yancy!”
    There was a delay, then Lana had to ask. “Yancy Yarrick?”
    “Okay, okay, let’s settle down.” Yarrick objected. “Officer LaFong, don’t mention that to anyone else.”
    She smiled, then grinned. “I won’t mention it to another soul. But, more importantly...are you going to be able to bring me those Goggles?”
    “LaFong, it’s not going to matter.” That was Major Taliaferro, serious. “Unless you can rock my world with a plan of how you’re going to use those Goggles, I’m going to have to say, NO...do NOT go into that Zone of Darkness.”    
    “I’m going to have to agree with your Major, LaFong.” The General spoke up. “We have no information about how Infinite Darkness works, nor how Chaos is able to see inside. They might have some kind of ultra-vision in there.”
    “I can still be there in 2.175 days with four corsair torpedo launcher warships. And we have the Tau Mark II torpedoes, 32 meg.”
    “Were the hell are you coming from, Yarrick?” The General frowned, wondering.
    “I’m here in Zeta Reticuli.” Yarrick smiled. “Once I get the Goggles, I’ll be ready to go--along with my mortar team.”
    “Those four corsairs won’t be a match for those two Chaos warships unless they get very lucky.” The General spoke the obvious.
    “But, that’s if we fight an open space battle.” Yarrick had a plan. “From what I heard, those Chaos ships are in geostationary orbit RIGHT above the city. If whatever’s causing that Zone of Darkness needs those spaceships to be there, then the Zone will have to come to an end when my corsairs arrive.” He grinned. “Else I’ll blow those two ships right out of orbit.”
    The General agreed with him. “Your right. Those Chaos ships will have to move and go into maneuver mode or face annihilation.” Then he got serious. “But, if they do move, you’ll pull back, right?”
    “Absolutely. I don’t want to sit in a three-hour meeting and explain why I lost four corsair torpedo boats...a three hour meeting, a three hour meeting.” Yarrick agreed jesting, then continued. “But, so far, we don’t know if those ships are needed to produce the Zone. If they are, then the city will be clear. If they aren’t, I’ll send the Goggles down to LaFong--”
    “Even then, she’s not going in--” The Major suddenly noticed LaFong on his video, as did the others. She was busily checking something on her oPOD...thinking. He sighed, then grinned, speaking to her. “Lana...I can hear the gears and wheels turning in your head all the way over here.”
    “Has little LuLu got a plan?” Yarrick smiled knowingly. When Lana glanced at him, he mentioned, “yeah, I know your nickname. You know mine...so we’re even.”
    “Wow, she really is deep in thought.” The Major smiled. “She doesn’t like to be called, little LuLu.”
    Finally, Lana had her plan. She looked up, staring at all the video screens at once as she spoke. “Lieutenant Lawrence has his Planetary Guard HQ located at a monorail station. In the CENTER of Cimarron City there’s another monorail station. And in the hills west of the city, there’s this amusement park; right next to it is another monorail station. My plan is for me to get into one of the monorail cars at the amusement park station, ride it to the center of Cimarron City, where I get out and look around, find out what’s making that Zone of Darkness, then ride the monorail car back to Planetary Guard HQ.”
    There was silence for several seconds, then Major Taliaferro spoke gravely. “And what if Chaos blows that monorail car right off it’s tracks?”
    Lana held up her finger. “That’s why I’m going to send an empty car first. If that car is not fired on, then I think I have a good chance of making it there on the next car.” She smiled. “What do you think?”
    “I think it’s great.” Yarrick exclaimed. “Hell, if she’s not allowed to go, I think I might.”
    The Major sighed, deeply.
    The General then laughed, knowing LaFong had a good plan, and that the Major knew it too...but, simply had his doubts about risking his favorite Special Ops student, who he now had to realize--was not a student any longer.
    Yarrick clapped his hands once. “I’ll be there with the Goggles in 2.175 days. We have a plan!”
    “Captain Anderson should be there with his three destroyers in three days, Major Taliaferro and his Space Marines in five days.” The General smiled. “I regret I’ll be staying here. Have a nice trip, everyone. And, LaFong, I’m emailing you a notice that you can hand to whoever is in charge of the monorail telling them we’ll compensate them for any damage...which should cinch the deal for you when you ask for use of the monorail.”
    When the General was done speaking, Yarrick and Lana asked at the same time: How were his destroyers getting to Far Star in only three days when it was a five day trip? His answer was simple. He had acted on a hunch, preempting the trip two days sooner. When Cimarron had first reported the attack, the General had his destroyers make the jump, and did so while the Far Star system still had its Navigational Beacon intact, knowing if he waited, it wouldn’t be there. In this case, his hunch payed off.
    However, even thought everyone had agreed on the current plan, Lana sat looking at the Major’s video screen, waiting for his confirmation, which he gave with a subtle nod and one last sigh.
    She smiled then had to confirm, “so, Captain Anderson will be here in only three days? And the Cheyenne Rangers will be here in five, right? That has to mean--”
    “Hi, LuLu.” Melinda Dion’s cheerful voice was heard loud and clear. “Nikolai just finished setting up the Navigational Beacon. But, I’m going to need to stay in space until the destroyers arrive so all the commanders can use my FTL dish to speak with you guys on the planet if necessary.”
    Lana smiled. “Understood.”
    Afterwards, the three commanders saw Lana on their video monitors lean to the right out of sight. Then, they heard her exclaim loudly, “OH, DRAT!!!”
    There was a “WHAT?”, a “what happened?”, and a “what’s wrong?” from those looking on.
    When she appeared, she sighed, flustered. “I dropped my pie!”







 

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