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Cowards die many times before their deaths, The valiant never taste of death but once.
Submitted By Sprawl on 12/09/19
SYN3H Chronicles, Sprawl, THOSE THAT ROAM, Mars Explorer 

GO DOWN TO @****@ to find the NEWEST PART - dated 05/04/2013! I'm BACK baby!

 

2 MONTHS EARLIER...

The Herculean Kruncher, closely followed by Sitfig, walked behind their Captain, Flynn, as they made their way around the base of their sworn enemy, Wilder Frederiksen. Kruncher thought about the man who had become their greatest foe. He had destroyed the Mars Expedition when he released a creature of unimaginable ferocity and immense size from the depths of a Martian mountain. He had been mining for Synthetium, a powerful element which could be used to enhance weaponry to a hundred times its original potency.

To this day, he continued to search for Synthetium and other Mars-specific elements for the purpose of building a massed force which he could then use to dominate Mars. He had set up an Electro-Magnetic Jamming Satellite to orbit far above the Red Planet which had knocked all the International Aeronautical Space Agency (or IASA)’s satellites out of commission.

They reached a sharp corner in the building, where Kruncher had previously blown a large, unsightly hole with his Drakonium Launcher, melting clean through the Reinforced Steel wall. Flynn crossed two fingers from each of his hands together. This signalled for the team to observe complete silence unless they entered into combat. Sitfig set a light grey beam charge across the forcefield area, and set it to blow immediately. A radial pulse shot out from it, and a clean circle was cut through the pale azure magnetic field. Flynn gestured ahead, and the team raised their weapons, creeping through a dark corridor. 

Suddenly, a heavily armed guard, clad-in black, appeared from around a corner, but Sitfig dropped him instantly with a pulse from his Dolvium Pistol. The bones in the man’s chest disintegrates and his heart stopped abruptly. He crumpled lifeless to the ground. Kruncher raised his eyebrows briefly, but figured that these men had chosen their destiny. They killed for money, mere mercenaries. Live by the sword, die by the sword, he thought. Or live by the gun, die by the gun. They progressed up a ramp into a large area, with dim lighting. A behemoth of a tank, all black and immediately menacing, was parked in the center. Sitfig let out a quiet gasp, and Flynn was taken aback, actually taking a few steps backward. Only Kruncher stood firm and unaffected. If he could speak freely, he would have mentionned that the tank they had encountered earlier was much more shocking, as it could transform into a jet. This was merely a large battle tank, such as that already being developed back on Earth by the International Military Command.

The team, recovering their wits altogether, moved on through the holding area, until they reached a sealed door. Flynn punched his palm infrustration, shaking his head in disbelief. He gave everyone a thumbs up.

“There’s no use in trying to get through,” he said, sotto voce. “We’re going to have to wait for someone to come through.”

“But how do we know someone will come through any time soon?” Kruncher enquired. Flynn grinned knowingly, raising his rifle.

“We’ll make them.”

 

****

 

In the Tank, I remained, waiting for a sign that something was actually happening in the base. It hadn’t always been fun and games as Commander of the British Expeditionary Fleet, but this really was dull.

“Nicholas,” Picard, the ship’s pilot, called from across Flynn’s battle-tank. Although this was my surname, everyone seemed to have adopted it as a first name. I didn’t really mind.  But Robert does have fewer syllables. “Sitfig doesn’t seem to be departing from the group.” My spirits soared and I nodded my head smugly, leaning back in my chair.

“I told you he wasn’t a mole.”

Pete Madissen, the Team’s Technical Officer, wagged his finger dismissively.

“You can’t assume that from this. He could have killed them and stayed with their bodies. The tracers can’t detect life.” I shrugged.

“Sure, Pete. We can’t really assume anything.” Pete rolled his chair over to me and stared into my eyes almost aggressively, as if searching for an answer in them.

“Why do you trust him?” he asked, looking bewildered. “He’s a bounty hunter. Bounty hunters find and generally kill people for money. He’s with us because it will allow him to draw us all into Frederiksen’s trap.”

“No!” I snapped. “Don’t be absurd. If he wanted to do that, he would have led us somewhere much more dangerous.”

“Look at the tank incident,” Picard suggested. I turned to him rapidly.

“Guys, if he wanted to kill us, he could have done so as we slept.”

“Maybe his task is to provide us to Fredriksen alive,” said Pete.

“Then why didn’t he just bring them to our base at night?” I looked at Pete incredulously.

“Your sensors would have picked them up. And only you can deactivate them. What’s more, why didn’t you stop him leading us into your so-called ‘trap’? We’re here now, Flynn and Kruncher are in there with him.” Pete raised his eyebrows. I nodded slowly. “Doubt. You can’t be sure, can you.” Pete rolled his chair back to his workstation monitors.

“That’s what the trackers are for, Commander Nicholas.”

I turned back to my desk, and rested my chin on my hands, teeth gritted. How can they be so distrusting? I asked myself. They trusted me when I was an outsider. Picard read my mind.

“We just don’t trust bounty hunters, Nicholas. It’s not a personal thing. He’s a mercenary. He’s a selfish man, in it for Number One.” I heard him, but couldn’t bring myself to agree.

“We shall see,” I decided.

 

@* * * *@

 

*BBZZZZZ*!

One final Dolvium blast and the room was sizzling with electrical energy.

"If they don't come now," Flynn said. "They aren't coming at all." He cranked his head round, and peered into the shadows. He gestured for Kruncher to stay near the door, and withdrew with Sitfig into the darker areas of the room. He went prone, and extended his rifle in front of him. Placing his eye behind the scope, he positioned himself for a killshot. Kruncher raised his pistol, setting it to stun - Sitfig may have been quick to kill these men, but he had no such desires. They were the same as them - they'd just chosen the wrong side.

 

"Footsteps!" Sitfig whispered loudly. Kruncher trained his pistol on the doorway.

What, two, three men? he thought.  Shouldn't be a problem. There was a quiet hissing, then suddenly the door slid open and three heavily armed guards stalked into the room, their weapons raised.

 

"Check this room out!" their Commander ordered. He was a tall American, with straight black hair, and impressive physique.

As the squad moved past him, Kruncher hesitated before firing. He thought he recognised the Commander. He looked at him carefully - and at that moment, as if by some telepathic connection, the Commander's head snapped round at him. Kruncher, alarmed, fired of a shot, but his target had already dodged and swept in with his fist, knocking Kruncher down.

But Kruncher was no pushover. He raised the Commander by his neck, and smashed him down onto the cold metal floor.The Commander's flunkies moved in to save their boss, but a red bolt flashed across the room, and knocked the life out of one. The other whirled around, only to be caught by another round from Sitfig's gun. The Commander writhed as Kruncher's grip crushed his airways. Flynn approached, grinning.

 

Kruncher looked up at his friend, not releasing his grip. "Do we know this man?" he asked, releasing his vice-like grip for a few moments. Flynn chuckled.

 

"Yes, we do." He switched on the flashlight on his belt, and shone it into the Commander's face. The man shyed away from the brightness, all the while gasping for air. "This man is Neil Karn." Kruncher, looked at the face again, and nodded.

 

"This is the man who tried to end your days at IASA," Kruncher cracked his knuckles, growling at Karn.

"Yes," Flynn sneered. "How ironic, taking the fight to IASA now, are we not, Neil?" Karn scowled at Flynn.

"How good to see you again, old friend," he spat sarcastically. Suddenly he whipped up his fist, knocking Kruncher aside. He leapt up, slamming the sole of his foot into Sitfig's chest, knocking him back. "This is between you and me, Flynn!" he crowed. Flynn shrugged.

"So be it," he said, dropping his gun, and raising his fists. Kruncher let out a hearty laugh.

"I love this guy," he bellowed.

 

Flynn moved in closer, circling Karn.

"It's been so long," Flynn murmured. "So damn long. Why'd you join Frederiksen, Karn?" Karn laughed brashly.

"Why? Why not, Clubbaire. You join IASA, get a measley salary, and what, all for some perverted idea of American Superiority?"

"No, you pilac," Flynn retorted. "I got paid nothing. I did this to escape my past life." Karn pounced on Flynn, jabbing him in the gut. Flynn grabbed his arm in irritation, and struck him in the neck. Karn reeled, bending over and clutching his throat. Flynn shoved his knee into his face, and Karn staggered back, blood streaming from his nose.

"You bastard," Karn croaked.

"I'm not finished yet," Flynn snarled, raising the butt of his rifle, and slamming it down on Karn's head. His old enemy crumpled in a heap on the floor, blood trickling across the steel. Kruncher, laughing again, patted his friend on the back.

"You're quite something Flynn. You've got it in you still." Flynn gave a half-smile.

"Let's go," he said. Moving forward he suddenly felt something tugging at his leg, as the others advanced. He looked down. Karn was grinning wolfishly at him, holding a grenade. The pin was out.

 

Flynn's heart skipped a beat. He looked to Sitfig and Kruncher, who has turned to see that he was not following, his eyes wide, and his face pale.

Kruncher dropped his gun and ran back towards Flynn, but Flynn held out his hand for him to stop, hanging his head. And then the grenade exploded.  

THOSE THAT ROAM XII: Old Friends
 
 
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