Week 11: Shark and Awe [Unedited]
The Carriveaua analogy for a 'needle in a haystack' was an 'ubvua pin beneath a Teagan Loz Fighter parts pile', and whatever culture that a person hailed from, the puzzlement concerning the whereabouts of the intruder would have been shared by all. Tedium and powerlessness grated against Burdlit's patience as only inevitability could because the fates knew their place and how best to do its job in spoiling the success of the hunt. He realized that the target could only get as far and go as fast as two feet would allow the travel but secretly dreaded the idea that the Power Authority allowed for a planetary depth of significant places to hide.
What use was the laser rifle - Burdlit thought before slinging its strap over his shoulder with an audible sigh and a slowed pace of travel out in front of his contingent. He began to bark out orders to the soldiers who were all still working their way through Level Y with the hopes of maintaining a continued relevance by staving off boredom or perhaps futility with shots to the arm of commanded protocol. Normally close-lipped, this was not like the operational general happened to be the type who preferred to hear himself talk for the sake of filling silence since dialect was like a code and the more of it which was spoken, the greater the likelihood of its secrets being cracked.
And this was the second to last thing that Burdlit needed right now - the first being the annoyance of the intruder's continued evasion. His relationship with these Humans managed to be soluble at the moment's notice of his outing, and remember, they had left behind the Space Force, so he would be nothing at all for them to discard. But the operational general was certainly not alone in this endeavor because real backup existed and would at least create enough of a diversion for him to be able to escape their clutches.
Even as the contingent fell into a languishing flow of mobile monotony, the soldier with the slate computer still managed to fall behind - her eyes pinned to the device's screen, mesmerized by its remotely relayed findings:
Assailant pinned down within Sector 1 of Inner Corridor..
Assailant packing heavy compact weaponry..
Assailant incapacitated two soldiers..
Assailant threatening to expose vegetational crevice..
Facial features and bodily characteristics uploaded..
"Uh, Sir," the soldier said after picking her mouth off the floor, "Sir!" The rest of the contingent had drifted away at least ten meters down the corridor in the time that she had been engrossed in the readout on the slate computer, so shouting was imperative to both catch their attention and halt their progress.
Burdlit stopped any and all forward progress at the insistence of the soldier's bellow, turned around to face her, and was afforded a clear view with his beady-eyed gaze as the rest of the contingent (who had managed to keep up with a trudge that a snail would have sped past) parted their procession in order to accommodate his nonverbal response. He assumed an air of importance from the urgency of the lagging soldier's tone and awaited an explanation.
"That's him," Janette confirmed from a crouch within the center of a transport which headed steadily toward Inner Corridor. She spoke of the image that was just splashed across the screen of a slate computer before handing the device back to the soldier who had handed it to her. Surrounded by this armed contingent which happened to be under the botanist's command and enveloped by interpersonal convictions which were secure in their own right, she made no hesitation in standing to await the rest of the subterranean trek with an overtly subdued albeit an internalization of giddy anticipation.
"Let me handle this, Janette," Burdlit urged in stride of his contingent's double-timing in order to double back toward the stairwell which was at least a couple miles from their current and changing position.
That was fine for Janette, but, "I still want to be there when you do."
Wondering what was up with the stubbornness of these Humans was kept to the confinement of those thoughts which normally resided in the back of a person's mind, so Burdlit chose the tact of a respectful declination in response, "He's not even wearing a mask. That's Space Force all the way. He'll wipe out this entire planet to protect his identity, and these bold actions are designed to tell us just that. He wants us to know this.
As long as we've got him contained to Inner Corridor, there'll be no chance of his cavalry being called in. The Deew's electromagnetic distortion field is finally doing us a favor. I'll le-"
"Burdlit," Janette interrupted, "I want what I want," and ended the discussion by disconnecting the Ear-To-Mouth Com feed. And what it was that she wanted was to look into the intruder's eyes as the operational general handed her his head.
Besides, Burdlit conveniently neglected to mention the part about what was going to happen if things got messy and a breach of the Deew's containment occurred. Janette's scientific presence was mandatory short of necessary, and there was no telling what the intruder's shrouded aims could entail. Yes, the threat of him reporting back to the Space Force was real, and he needed to be killed well before that, but his immediate capabilities were as of yet undetermined. If at all technologically savvy in nature, the inhabitants of Dio Qze might be left wishing for certain destruction at the hands of the megapower if only it meant a certainty in deliverance away from the vile clutches of the rabid Deew.
An embarrassing end to a luckily private conversation, Burdlit was glad that his soldiers did not hear him getting cut off in the manner that Janette had chosen. Humans were so needlessly complex at times with their highs and lows when a levelness of constitution would more than suffice. What was it with her anyway? Things sounded almost...personal between the botanist and this intruder. An old acquaintance perhaps? A failed relationship? How could that be possible? He wondered while familiarizing himself with the assailant's image on the soldier's slate computer.
Regardless, Janette's actions were going to handcuff his own. She was causing precious soldiers to have to be used for tending to babysitting exercises rather than allowing them to hang back a ways to gum up the quad of entrances to Inner Corridor. The circumferential covering for Dio Qze's entire core was undeniably massive, and although a frontal squeeze play could have been called here and actually made sense, if something went awry with the Deew, more Galaxy Bloc soldiers would be vulnerable and lost via this all-encompassing tact. He knew full well about what Deews were capable of when the Humans did not which differed far greatly from the familiarity that the operational general envisioned having for the intruder.
The idea of control was much more a concept than the outward leverage which normally made up its portrayal. In Boyd's mind, the latter explanation where he was somehow causing everything that occurred to his opponents happened to be somewhat backward. The Enforcer did not possess any of the uncanny supernatural abilities of an Ethereal. He might have been packing two LUNC's and a collection of Duzo 16/7 Charges underneath his trench coat, but this was simply the arsenal of one man. The faithful Class V Fighter even had no way of being signaled in order to reach him within this communicative dead zone.
There was technically no way out except for the ways that Boyd's opponents allowed.
Burdlit was a Carriveaua spy in the midst of gullible Humans who were being exploited via the 'enemy of my enemy' gambit, so he needed Boyd to be silenced at all costs and would be willing to expense that across Galaxy Bloc's mortgaged future. Who would the unincorporated planets believe if the Enforcer was actually captured and interrogated? The operational general could not leave this answer up to chance.
Janette pretended to be none too pleased with Boyd and his methods yet held a true identity whose pretext was way more guarded than either of the secretive lives that the Enforcer or Burdlit were leading. She wanted a controlled variable which could be used to test the operational general's loyalty, and as much as her mouth or the in-character thoughts screamed for blood - the unusually high-ranking Galaxy Bloc official might very well turn out to be the greatest threat because of an unassuming deviousness.
One wanted Boyd dead. The other wanted him alive, for now. He simply allowed the battle of their wills to play out against a conveniently placed target which adorned his back. By having the botanist and the operational general come to him, it saved the Enforcer the trouble of having to search them out.
Boyd was feeling pretty good about his accomplishments and really proud of his prospects until an errant hand laser pulse whizzed past the left ear of a previously cocky head - causing him to twist via a corkscrew to all fours on the floor and a position which could double for a sprinter's starting stance. The LUNC remained in the grasp of his right hand, pressed easily against the ground as a result of what turned out to be the soft landing from a specialist whose experience often doubled as a life-saving anticipation. As the Enforcer's trench coat flapped downward to meet the conclusion of his evasive maneuver, his eyes glanced upward at the laser's point of impact on the window. Pulse retardant materials were a surety, but that was assuming that the energy projectile could have pierced its shielding.
A sigh of momentary relief was breathed as Boyd was not yet ready or willing to deal with the Deew at this point when Janette and Burdlit were honestly more menacing, but it became short-lived as reality settled back in - jump-starting his stalled heart and and restoring the previously stolen wind from the sails of his lungs. The Enforcer was but only one man, and that was close. He flung a disapproving eye contact back toward the perceived trajectory of the shot.
The reluctant shooter ducked back behind the cover of some cubicles and seemed to be almost as worse for psychological wear as it appeared that anxiousness had caused the laser pulse to be fired in the first place - accidentally. Well, adrenaline tended to do that in these types of situations, and the possible reprimand aside, chemical enhancement almost aided the soldier in chopping Boyd down! What jumping the hand laser did though was destroy any element of surprise that the soldiers might have had. As slim as it was, they just lost their one chance to take him out, but he would now never allow his confidence to give them a second chance to put laser pulse impressions into his face. The gauntlet technology of his combat gear would shield the rest of his body.
Clearly, these soldiers were answering to Burdlit's orders in the interim before the fabrication of an aloof Janette arrived as she was unable to tip her hand of competence from afar. Until then, the fight for Boyd's life was on, and the operational general was clearly calling the shots - figuratively and literally.
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