CHAPTER 22.3

Approx. 2700 words

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Copyright 2015   SJ

Chaos in Delta Pavonus:

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written by  SJ

 

 

    Hernando and Mercedes each had a Baretta 93R, with a small folding stock packed away in the small backpacks they wore. On the way to Wexal, Lana questioned them about what kind of weapons the Matriarch’s troops might have. They replied it was a mix of shotguns (M870 full size), submachine guns and pistols, but mostly AK rifles.
    At the mentioned of AK rifles, Lana was hoping they were auto AK’s, which would allow them access to the use of THEIR auto weapons. But, unfortunately, that would make their first firefight much more dire.
    Once they arrived in Wexal, it quickly became obvious they were not going to get a ride. The town was even more abandoned than Hernando and Mercedes had thought; they immediately planned a new route to Dandelot, traveling overland west for about three kilometers until they hit the main road going south, which they began following, staying to the far side of the road under cover of the rain forest.
    They remained walking well into the night, following the brother and sister, who seem to lead them on a force march until they crossed a bridge.
    Even at night, Lana remembered the bridge, the river that ran underneath, a place Annie and she had gone rafting many times, located almost two kilometers north of a town where she had spent almost all of her childhood.
    The two siblings then led them east along a side road, which in a short time turned southwest, walking until they could faintly see the lights of Dandelot in the distance. There, they were led off road to an abandoned building, what used to be a small store, now overgrown with vegetation. It was well camouflaged and Lana could see why the siblings were taking them there. Inside, they prepared to sleep for the night.
    Of Melinda’s team, only Lana had bothered to take a good look at the red armbands the three security guard wore. She had studied downloads of the emblems of the Thousand Sons and World Eaters numerous times. The red armbands had a emblems on them also, plus lettering, very much like the letting on the World Eaters emblems. In her mind, using her photographic memory, she examined the emblems, seeing a similarity, but not a match, of course. The World Eaters had what looked like a big yellow open mouth. The armband emblems had a long, black, horned, skull in the middle of a patch of yellow flames. But, if the language the lettering represented was the same on both emblems then that would have to mean Chaos was involved.
    As everyone else got ready to sleep, finding a comfortable place, Gannon and Bull already starting to snore, Lana got out a small light, pencil, and paper, and using her photographic memory, drew the lettering almost perfectly exact. Then she got Melinda’s attention, and after explaining what she had found, stated her conclusion:
    “Look Melinda, the lettering...it looks to be the same language: Chaos.”
    The team leader was tired, and half asleep.
    But Lana was still fully awake. “If we could send this lettering to the General, and if he can run it through their linguistic computer and find a match to the other ones, then we’ll have proof that Chaos is involved HERE!”
    Melinda yawned. “We won’t be able to call the General, LuLu--”    
    Lana was getting mad, whispering loudly. “But--we’ll have PROOF! You mean we can’t CALL the General--even for THIS!”
    The older woman, shook her head, then, before laying down, spoke. “Get some sleep, LuLu. I’ll take a look at it in the morning.”
    The younger woman sat frowning. She wanted to sleep, something she hadn’t done very much of since discovering the news about her Aunt. Closing her eyes, she still found it hard to sleep.
    ******  
    Hernando and Mercedes got everyone up and ready to move about one hour after the yellow sun of Delta Pavonus had risen. The siblings took a short time to tell everyone that even though traveling at night was more concealing, the Matriarch had a nighttime curfew; they could and would be arrested if caught.
    From the abandoned store, to the west about three hundred meters away, they could see a warehouse. That was their first destination, walking there through the concealment of the jungle.
    There was a chainlink fence enclosing most of the warehouse area, which included three smaller buildings along the far side. The siblings led them to a hole in the fence that had been conveniently cut through, leading them from there to inside the warehouse yard. There, the siblings met and greeted, Isaiah Reed, manager of the warehouse and Franco’s contact. With him were two other men, rebel sympathizers, who would be the first two to join the militia when it came time, both already armed with full size M870 shotguns.
    Hernando and Mercedes greeted them and shared some amenities before introducing each of Melinda’s team. Isaiah then asked Melinda if she needed to order anything, to which she said, “not at this time.”
    However, she explained: The first order of business was to go into the town and look around, which they would do in three teams of two. But, Isaiah disagreed right away: too many teams. In this case, less was more. If too many new people were spotted on the streets in such a small town, the Matriarch’s CDA guards would get suspicious and ask for more troops. He suggested letting Hernando and Mercedes check the northern side of town, where the warehouse was located, which shouldn’t take too long.
    Isaiah continued: “I think there are four teams of two guards each, all armed with automatic pistols. One of those teams hangs around in this area.”
    That’s when Hernando mentioned. “One of Melinda’s team members says those pistols, the ones the security guards have, are fake.”
    The warehouse manager thought a second. “Possible. I’ve never seen them show them off. I think they are just here to send  an alert to the CDA building if something happens. That’s all.” He narrowed his eyes. “They will all have to be dealt with before Franco can make his move, however.”
    “Hopefully without hurting them.” Melinda added.
    Isaiah remained stern. “Well, if I have to shoot one of them to stop them from sending a message, I will.” If they surrender, I have a place in the back of the warehouse to hold them in.” He pointed south. “As for the rest of the town, past the river, I suggest one team of two people.” He pointed at Melinda. “You, you are a Federal Agent?”
    Dion nodded.
    “Good. You and one other, someone that knows some of the town...if you have anyone.”
    “LuLu grew up here.” Melinda gestured to her.
    “Okay. The two of you go into the rest of the town and find out where the other three security guard teams are at, what they do, and where they usually hang out. The CDA building always has two of the Matriarch’s personal guards in it; they are armed with AK rifles and automatic pistols, some kind of magnums, I think. And I doubt very much if THEY have fake weapons.” He frowned. “I don’t expect them to surrender, so they will probably have to be killed; if we take this town the way Franco has planned, those two should be the only two casualties.”
    “What do you think those two CDA guards will do if I talk to them?” Melinda asked simply.
    Isaiah became seriously curious, almost frowning. “What do you want to talk to them about? They CAN’T know you’re a Federal Agent. That could have dire consequences!”
    “No, no.” Melinda assured, then began explaining about Chaos, and Chaos Worms, saying she just wanted to get close enough to check them.
    The warehouse manager became frustrated. “Chaos! You mean like what happened on Cornucopia?” He sighed angrily and stomped. “That changes everything--We can’t fight an army of Chaos!”
    That’s when the siblings intervened, saying they would explain about what they were told about Chaos, which would allow Melinda and Lana to go out and do their scouting mission, something that needed to be done as soon as possible so a truck, the one hidden inside the warehouse, could be sent to pick up Franco and his team. They were still explaining as Koufax helped Lana with her red-hair wig, then put some eye makeup on her, plus a little bit of lipstick. They then left the warehouse and headed south. Only Melinda was armed, keeping her 9.1 in her purse.
    ******
    Lana began remembering: the three bridges that crossed the wide, shallow, river dividing the smaller, more industrial, northern part of town from the south. The center bridge was for pedestrians only. They took that bridge and continued south until they were in front of the CDA building, a building that Lana didn’t remember being there went she used to live here.
    One of the security guard teams seemed to be permanently allocated to the CDA building. They could see them standing inside, bored, but wary of the two CDA guards, which were fully alert, wearing dark grey camouflage fatigues and armed with holstered automatic pistols. Their AK rifles were on a gun rack behind them.
    The CDA guards intercepted Melinda right away as she approached, putting on her act, telling them about her attempt to find some friends, which she was sure now had taken a shuttle back to Pavona Platte. When Melinda returned to Lana, and began speaking, the two guards followed her, telling both of them they couldn’t loiter around were they were and to move along.
    The CDA guards had no right to tell them to move along; they were fully out of line. But, she immediately complied, heading to the southwestern part of town. Eventually, she stopped to examine her scanner findings.
    Melinda sighed, frustrated. “There’s no sigh of Chaos Worms. Damn! But, they ARE acting strangely. There’s ways to brainwash people using torture and isolation. That might be the case here.”
    As they walked, the town had much fewer people on the streets than Lana remembered it. In the distance, they spotted a school next to a couple of parks (which doubled as playgrounds), the same school Lana had gone to as a kid, only now it looked permanently closed. They spotted one of the security guard teams nearby.
    Melinda could only imagine what Lana was feeling. “Are you alright, LuLu?” She pointed. “Is that were you used to go to school as a kid.”
    Lana just nodded, remaining silent. They followed the guards to the south side of town, then turned to go east when the guards started back.
    On the east side, they walked next to a park which used to have a lake, now dry, the grass dry. When Melinda asked if she remembered the park, she just silently nodded like before. When they started approaching a line of buildings in front of the shuttleport, Lana finally spotted it: Home.
    Most of the buildings along the shuttleport were closed, the ticket office in the center, the only one open. Lana’s building, the home she grew up in, was closed and boarded up. The letters across the top which once read Baudet were gone, but could still be made out in the places where they used to be. Lana stopped to stare, sad and silent.
    Melinda waited, looking at her...then spoke sympathetically. “Oh, LuLu. Is that your home?”
    She didn’t speak right away. Then she frowned. “That’s not my home anymore! My home is back at Camp Cheyenne...where I have friends.” She looked at Melinda, still frowning. “I begged Annie to leave here.” Her voice crescendoed. “I begged her to come to Cheyenne!” She breathed heavily. “But, she refused!”
    Melinda had wanted Lana to accept what had happened to Annie primarily so she could be more objective in her mission...but, not like this. Then she remembered Lana talking to her last night about the Chaos lettering--and how she ignored her. “Oh, my God, LuLu...I’m sorry.”

    Lana slowly looked back, wondering.
    She continued. “Last night you were telling me about something.” She sighed. “I was so tired. I’m not as young as you are. It was something about sending something to the General.”
    “You said we couldn’t do that--”
    “I just meant, right then. I’m sorry. Tell me again.” Melinda almost begged.
    Lana slowly got out the paper she had drawn the lettering on then explained about seeing it on the armbands, saying if they could match the language to Chaos, they’d have proof.
    Melinda looked at the paper. “My God, LuLu...you remembered how to draw the lettering from those armbands just from memory?” When she looked at the younger women, she knew it had to be right. “Well, I can’t call the General. But, I can submit this to his staff so they can run it through their computer. It’s what he’d do even if I was able to call him anyway.” She smiled. “I’m going to send this to Yarrick’s staff, also. Between the two of them we should get something back...but, it might take a day or two.”
    “What if it matches?”
    Melinda sighed. “Well, I would prefer to find a WARP Worm in someone’s head. But, if this comes back as a match, I’m going to suggest to Major Taliaferro that he send in your Ops shuttle along with Ramcke and Burns, plus the equipment.” She sighed. “But, it’ll be his decision.” She stood and continued to look at Lana’s sad eyes...then spoke, “don’t be mad at your Aunt?”
    “Major Taliaferro said one time that if I was his daughter, and if I wanted him to move to where I was as much as he knew I wanted Annie to move, he would’ve done it--no matter what the distance or how much the cost.” She sighed, then seemed to give in. “Why didn’t Annie move--Why?”
    The older woman put her hand on Lana’s shoulder. “I remember the Major saying something about that to me. He also told me you loved her anyway.”
    When Melinda finally got a meager smile out of Lana, they both headed over to the shuttleport ticket office. There, they found the two security guards lounging on the large seats. At the ticket booth, they asked about shuttle schedules and were told it could take as long as three days to get a shuttle over here.
    As they left, the two guards got up and approached Lana. One of them spoke, interested, “hey, hi there. Are you new here? Can I show you around?”
    Lana was surprised at first and didn’t know what to say, then she answered by asking him what his schedule was, where he patrolled, and what he did during that patrol, eventually learning that each of the guard groups had to call in to the main office (the CDA building) twice a day, once before noon, once late afternoon. When she asked when he got off duty, he said evening. Apparently there was no night shift. As she left, she told him they might meet again later.
    Afterwards, Melinda had to mention. “He was hitting on you, LuLu. Looks like you have a date. You look very nice with makeup. You should think about wearing it more often.”
    Lana didn’t say anything.
    From there, they went to back to the pedestrian bridge and covertly kept an eye on the CDA building using the civilian binoculars they each had. Gradually, they learned the CDA guards had their own routine: Periodically, they would climb to the top of the building and look around with their own binoculars, these looking fairly high-powered. However, they never seemed to be monitoring any kind of listening device for picking up phone conversations. As Melinda and Lana left, returning to the warehouse, they wondered if all they did was record them, then listen to them later. But, it didn’t matter with Melinda’s team since their phones were protected against any such type of monitoring.




 



 







 

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