CHAPTER 22.1

Approx. 3300 words

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2015   SJ

Chaos in Delta Pavonus:

Annie...Alive?

 

written by  SJ

 

 

    On her previous trip to the Blast Zone, it became obvious that Lana’s relationship with Chad had deteriorated, something Bull and Gannon had realized long before she had. And like the big brothers they had become, they were concerned about her. After talking with Victoria, one of Camp Cheyenne’s martial arts trainers, she suggested someone that might be perfect for her. Eventually, the two big Marines, in their own sincere way, encouraged her to accept.
    After Lana’s first date was over, Bull and Gannon talked with Victoria about it at the gym.
    “Well, what did he think of LuLu?” Gannon began eagerly, hoping for the best.
    She chuckled a bit. “Well, it was like I said. Ward considered himself jackpot lucky.” She sighed. “He told me he was reluctant to go out with a female Space Marine, someone he considered WAY out of his league. But, once they started talking, he said he was able to relax.”
    “Little Sister said they took a walk around some lake in a park.” Bull added. “Then they got something to eat. I think she likes this guy.”
    “That’s good.” Victoria smiled, then shrugged. “To me, Ward is nowhere as good-looking as that Chad guy...which in Lana’s case, I think is better. I’m glad it worked out. Lana’s a nice girl. She deserves a nice guy to go out with, which I think this guy is. And, keep her away from Chad guy for awhile.”
    They nodded like that would be a pleasure.
    ******
    Another couple months passed, and Lana was happy with her new boyfriend, someone she felt she could just be herself with, unlike Chad. Her laspistol injury had fully healed when Melinda Dion dropped by for a visit.
     Shortly after the incident on Cimarron, Dion’s team had been transferred to Cornucopia, Warhammer 40K HQ; her team’s primary function now would be to investigate any and all things related to Chaos on the different planets.
    In the last two months, she had gone to numerous worlds looking for clues about Chaos, turning up little or nothing each time. The only thing she had found had to do with Major Boseman, who had been the recipient of a box just as soon as he had landed at the Cornucopia Marine Base, a box that turned out to belong to a Master Sergeant Blake Wells, the same Blake Wells that had a cousin by the name of Sal Wilson, the very Sal Wilson that had worked in power plant six. There was a least one witness that had said Sal had a similar box, and the same as Blake, it had been sent to him by an uncle. Sal’s box was full of crystals. And if the box Boseman had obtained at the Marine Base indeed belonged to Blake, then it was very likely that box had crystals also. However, what the crystals had to do with Chaos, was still unknown. After finishing her assignment on another planet, she decided to drop by Camp Cheyenne before returning to Warhammer 40K HQ.
    In Lana’s office, she welcomed, Dion, Petrovsky, Koufax, and de la Vega. On a shelf over her computer desk, there was a small urn. Bull and Gannon had spotted Melinda and came to say hello; but, Lana’s office was small. As they all started to leave, Koufax bumped his head on the shelf, knocking the urn off onto the floor, where it cracked open, spilling out what looked like some grey dirt.
    Gannon figured what it was, mentioning, “oh, you spilled Annie’s ashes.”
    As the others proceeded to leave, Koufax knelt down to clean up. However, from his training as a medical examiner’s assistant, he knew what human ashes looked like. He remained kneeling, then spoke. “These are not human ashes.” He examined them a little closer, then sighed. “They aren’t even organic.” He quickly brushed most of the material back into one of the larger pieces of the broken urn, then stood up as he asked, “who’d you say this was?”
    “That’s Annie, right, LuLu?” Gannon wanted to make sure.
    Lana stood stunned.
    “Can I examine these?” Koufax wanted permission.
    Lana nodded, but remained speechless.
    In about ten seconds, Koufax knew. “No. This is just some kind of grey dirt.” He looked at Lana. “Who sent you this?”
    Lana still couldn’t speak.
    Gannon answered for her. “It’s her Aunt. They sent it to her from Pavonus shortly after she got the news about her Aunt’s passing.” He looked at Lana and asked again, “was this the urn with Annie’s ashes?”
    Lana had almost forgotten about the time she was on Pavouns: Her arrest. Being taken to that horrible prison. Then being helped to escape the planet. She had all but considered the whole incident to be faked, some kind of virtual reality nightmare. It was something she had wanted to forget, especially after her Aunt had died.
    That’s when the ramifications it hit her all at once. She gasped, her face showing overwhelming stress as she spoke. “Oh, my God!” She looked at Melinda. “Annie might still be alive! If what happened to me back then was real, then they might’ve arrested her also...then sent me a phony death report and an urn full of dirt.” It looked like she about to cry. “She might be in that prison!” Then she frowned, determined. “I have to get over there--I have to rescue Annie!”
    ******
    Melinda Dion kept talking to Lana, keeping her calm. It was obvious she wanted to do something, even if it was taking a shuttle and flying to Pavonus all by herself. Eventually, Lana remained sitting on her bed, promising Melinda she wouldn’t do anything, while Melinda had a long talk with Major Taliaferro.
    Dion and her team had arrived at Camp Cheyenne in the morning. It was late afternoon when they all finally went to the Major’s office to talk, Lana’s team joining them.
    He began: “Here’s what I’ve found out about the District of Pavona Angora on Pavonus. Officially it is being run by Governor Alister Montague; however no one has actually seen or heard from him in well over a year. His daughter, Gale Montague, seems to be in charge, saying her father has been ill, even though she has never been given any official authority to take his place.” He looked at Lana. “She was the one in charge during your alleged arrest and abduction as told me by Officer Dion earlier today.” He sighed at her. “I wish you would’ve confided in me about that, by the way.” He continued. “Anyway, there have been a few individuals of the Pavona Angora District that have spoken out against Gale. Most of them have disappeared, even though I’m sure some of them have either left or gone into hiding. Eventually, however, I found a Ben Franco who has an obscure website hoping to find supporters for his cause, which is simple: To overthrow the Governor, by force if necessary.”
    The Major sat back to explain. “During the founding of all of our colonies, overthrow of a government was made legal as long as it is done within certain guidelines. It was simply a fact that after reading about how bad certain governments were on Old Earth, they didn’t want things like that to happen with us. In our case, once the overthrow was successful, the other colonies in the Sol Frontier would be allowed to examine all the facts. If the government was found be to at fault, any remaining officials could be prosecuted, and if those who overthrew the government were found to not have sufficient cause, then they could be prosecuted. During the founding of the Sol Frontier, there have been several rebellions. However, none of them have ever come to violence. In this case, with Delta Pavonus being a failed colony, I’m afraid the rest of us will have much less power to help them. Failed colonies are one step short of being independent. The only good thing is, all we have to worry about is one district.”
    The Major held out a small box and spoke directly to Lana. “In here I have your lieutenant’s bars. I was going to surprise you in the rec room after dinner.” He put the box back in his drawer. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to save these until you get back.”
    “Get back?” She was eager to know what was happening.
    “As of right now, the General has given me the authority to put Officer Dion in charge of the two teams I’m allowing to go to Pavonus. I have informed Ben Franco of your coming, and you are to meet with him right after you land. None of you will be allowed to take any military weapons or equipment with you, except for Dion, who, because of her previous Federal Agent status, will be allowed to carry her 9.1. The rest of you can ONLY carry civilian weapons and equipment. Anything else you will have to procure AFTER you arrive there. Dion is aware of all the protocols you will have to adhere to during the formation of a legal rebellion, something I’m hoping you won’t have to actually do, or at least, not complete. Officially, you guys are going there as visitors, where, after you arrive, you will get caught up in and support the current rebellion. There can NOT be ANY formal military involvement unless you find a significant Chaos influence. If you end up finding a WARP gate, Chaos Marines, something like that, believe me--the Cheyenne Rangers will be there with bells on.”
    “What about the presence of WARP Worms?” Lana asked, then thought of something. “Will Dakota be coming? We could use--”
    “No.” The Major shook his head. “I’ve already talked to the General and he doesn’t want to use her in this case UNLESS you find evidence of the presence of demons.”
    “A massacre sight, like the one we found on Thanatos-4?” Lana gave an example.
    He nodded. “Yes. In fact, the presence of a sizeable force of demons would, more than likely, give us cause to bring in the Marines. It’s just that we’ll be able to get Officer Dakota there a lot quicker.” He paused. “Right now, you have two teams. Dion, with Petrovsky and Koufax. LaFong, with Shannon and Hodge. As for WARP Worms, once you find those, I’ll be sending Ramcke and Burns along with the Special Ops shuttle, and some more equipment.”
    “So most of us won’t have ANY weapons at all once we land?” Lana was a little surprised.
    “You’re supposed to be visitors.” The Major was firm about that point. “However, I have a couple shortened M870 shotguns for Shannon and Hodge. Nikolai has a Makarov pistol, something from his collection he always keeps on the shuttle as a back up. But, he only has one clip of ammo. As for the shotguns, they’ll only have ten shells each. Melinda, I think, has two clips.”
    She nodded.
    “However, except for Melinda, none of you will be allowed to carry weapons into a town unless she gives you permission.” He looked directly at Lana. “Melinda is in charge. It’s important you don’t go off and do anything by yourself unless she okays it?”
    Lana nodded. “I understand.”
    He then looked at Bull and Gannon. “That goes for you two, also.”
    They both nodded. “Yes, sir.”
    “Any other weapons, ammunition, and equipment, you’ll have to obtain on your own once you get there.” The Major proceeded. “I’m sure Franco will have some weapons for you once you meet up with him, and, if necessary, he can order more. However, as far as you guys are concerned, you cannot use weapons that are greater than what you are facing.”
    Melinda began nodding in agreement, already aware of the rules.
    “In other words, if you find yourself facing lasguns, then you may use lasguns. Once you find yourself against, auto weapons,” Taliaferro smiled, “give me a call and I’ll have all your auto weapons ready to go.” He hesitated for emphasis. “But, you know, you’ll have to wait until they arrive by a normal transport shuttle. Plus, you’ll have to do it through Franco’s contact.”
    “How about making weapons?” Lana asked, remembering her training.
    “You may make ANY weapons you wish using ONLY the materials you find there in the District of Pavona Angora.” Taliaferro’s answer was precise. “I mean, with in reason, of course. The rule of thumb is simple: Build only that which you NEED to get the job done and nothing more.”
    When there was a pause, Taliaferro started on another subject pertaining to their mission. “So far, there was been no evidence that the Governor’s daughter, Gale Montague, has done anything overtly illegal. It doesn’t appear there is widespread starvation, or any accounts that people are being used unjustly as laborers, even though the district’s economy is doing very poorly.” He looked at Lana. “Didn’t they have a bunch of small businesses along the everglades in the north renting airboats, giving rides?”
    “I never did that when I lived there, but I heard about it?” Lana responded. “It was one of the main reasons why tourists came there.”
    “Well, I think they’ve all been shut down.” He shrugged. “No tourist, in this case, is a good thing. We MUST keep civilian casualties down to an absolute minimum, none at all, if possible.”
    Then Lana had a question. “Can’t someone high up in the Federal Government call and question the district governor--demand to know what’s going on?”
    The Major already had an answer. “I had the General call himself. He left three messages. Unfortunately, there’s been no answer. And with Delta Pavonus being a failed colony, they are not obliged to answer.”
    “If we sent someone there personally. Melinda, or a Federal Repre--”
    Taliaferro was shaking his head. “Look at it this way, Lana. Let’s say we send a Federal Representative, even a group of representatives. If it turns out that Chaos is involved, what do you think is going to happen to those representatives?”
    Lana sighed.
    “If they turned up missing, that WOULD give us ample cause to start a full investigation, maybe even send in some Federal Marines. But, wouldn’t that be a high cost for what we are already starting to do?”
    She nodded, showing she understood completely.
    “And it wouldn’t help to rescue your Aunt, either--”
    “It could end up getting her killed.” Lana smiled weakly. “I understand.” Then she had to ask. “Is there any evidence, so far, that there might be some sort of Chaos involvement?”
    The Major nodded. “Only one. Franco told me that Gale no longer refers to herself as the Governor--but as the Matriarch of the Dark Apostles.”
    Lana grinned wryly. “Yeah, that does sound a little weird.”
    Melinda then spoke the obvious. “But, I think we’re going to need a little more evidence than that.” Then she thought of something the Major hadn’t mentioned yet. “LuLu, we’re each going to all be allowed to bring a phone, of course. But, each of those phones will have a mini-scanner for the purpose of detecting one thing: Chaos.” She spoke to the others. “I’ll show everyone how they work before we leave. It’s not hard.”
    The Major nodded, then finished up. “You’ll all have maps downloaded into your phones, which will double as civilian oPODs as well. Most of you already know how to use them to access satellite map data in case your current maps are out of date.” He pointed. “Lana, you’re the only one that can be recognized there in Pavona Angora. Which means...if you’re discovered, they might send people to arrest you again.”
    He suddenly saw a look on her face and responded. “Don’t give me that look of, ‘let them try.’ Yes, I know you won’t let yourself get arrested again--I don’t want you to. But, I would rather they not recognize you at all.” He pointed at someone else. “Koufax told me he worked as cosmologist for a short time.”
    He smiled. “I’ll make you up real nice. They won’t recognize you.”
    “And I have this wig with short, reddish, hair.” The Major continued. “I’ll have an ID for you before you leave. You’re going to be Jane Ashigawa. That should be enough for them to not recognize you.” He paused, then asked, “do you think you could recognize the people that helped you escape at Cambridge Hospital?”
    Lana sighed. “I don’t know. I mean, back then, I was scared out of my mind. I wasn’t trying to remember anyone’s faces.”
    “And those people might not even be there anymore.” The Major guessed.
    “What if they try to arrest me anyway?” Lana frowned. “What if they try to arrest any of us?
    Melinda answered. “It’s like this, LuLu. None of us, including you, have done anything wrong. If they try to arrest us they’ll have to show us a legal arrest warrant...something, I don’t thing they’re going to be able to do--”
    “Bottom line, guys.” The Major interjected. “Try NOT to get arrested. Resist, preferably with nonlethal force.”
    Lana nodded.
    When the Major looked at Bull and Gannon, he pitied the fool who’d try to arrest one of them.
    Then he pointed. “Corporal de la Vega will use Dion’s Federal Special Ops shuttle and take all of you to the District of Pavona Platte, covertly, of course. From there you guys will rent an airboat to take you across the everglades to Pavona Angora, to the small town of Platt. She will then return to Proxima Altair, ready to return with Officer Dakota, and any extra equipment, if necessary. Also, both Warhammer 40K HQ and here at Camp Cheyenne will have combat shuttles ready to go. They’ll be armed with two twin-linked, side-mounted, lascannons. If you find Gale Montague is part of Chaos, these armed shuttles will come in to prevent her escape. So, keep that in mind: Don’t give her any reason to leave the planet until they’re there; it’ll take about one day.”
    The Major then asked if there were any more questions.
    “When are we going?” Lana asked eagerly.
    “You guys won’t be able to take a whole lot with you. Civilian clothes. Pack like you’re going on a short vacation.” He looked at Lana. “Do you have a dress? A nice blouse.”
    “I have a few things.” She frowned. “Do I have to wear a dress?”
    “I’ll go with her and we’ll pick something out.” Melinda mentioned.
    “After you’re packed and ready to go, I want you guys to get some sleep.” He paused. “Be up and ready to go at 0300 hours. Corporal de la Vega and I have figured this thing out for you to arrive there around 0500 hours in the morning, their time.”
    As the others began leaving, the Major called Lana back. After they were all gone, he spoke to her sincerely. “I can only imagine what you’re feeling right now, but, listen.” He sighed, and his voice became even more sincere. “I want you to be careful. The last thing I want is for you to end up rescuing your Aunt...and then for me to have to tell her how you died in the process.”

 

 

 

 

   
    






 

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