FHD Remix Chapter 49
Previous: FHD Remix Chapter 48: The Deployment Story
Chapter 49: Operation Tatakai
[The homage buried in this chapter is to X-Com: Apocalypse, Mythos Games and Microprose 1997. The reader is also encouraged to read Chapter 18 of Revelation in the Bible, which is referred to, but not quoted in this story.]
CLIP: Remember to link to Ian McCormick's video for Dr. Anstice.
"Look, Thanis, you have to believe me," the frightened young man says, tearing an old poster advertizing the UEG Triple-Six (tm) implant from the wall, "the United Earth Government is planning to imprison all the Christians in this area. They have a huge arms cache right here," he points at a map.
"I do believe you, Mike," Thanis responds. He runs his fingers through his scraggy black hair. "What I'm trying to tell you is that we don't have the ability to take on such a target. The best we can do is try to evacuate the Christians from this area. That will be hard, because few of them are actually Saviour-spawn. Most of the true Saviour-spawn have already left the area. I'm one of the few that hasn't."
"What's the difference between a Christian and a Saviour-spawn?" the brown haired man asks, "I mean, don't they believe in the same Jesus Christ?"
"Mike, it varies. Sometimes its what they believe about Jesus Christ, as to whether he is the Saviour or was he just a nice guy." He chuckles, "It's so stupid, really, to think nice guy or good teacher when he said he was the Son of God, one with the Father, and the Saviour of humanity. Either he is what he said he is, or he's a frickin' liar, whether a servant of the enemy or a simple lunatic. To anyone who has read the Bible, there is simply no way you can say, nice guy or good teacher."
"What is it around here?" Mike asks, "I know its not that, because I've lived with them for four years. They seriously believe he's the Saviour."
"Differentiation," Thanis answers. "It is not easy to explain, but it's that strong will to be your own person, and do the right things according to what you believe, not bending to the circumstances and people around you. Not rationalizing or being relative to circumstances and other people. Oddly enough, that includes God. Rationalizing and being relative to Jesus Christ is not getting close to him the way he wants. The Christians around here, are just not grounded, not mature, haven't put their roots in the absolute soil of the Saviour. Have you noticed?"
Mike chuckles, "No [beep], Thanis. I've been shafted by these so-called Christians twelve times. They say the right things about Jesus, but deep down, they care only about themselves even though they believe otherwise. Somehow, they seem incapable of anything more."
"They're insecure," Thanis responds, "Without that grounding in the bedrock of the Saviour faith, their identity is in their job, or in their family, or, I've noticed in a couple of cases, in certain intellectual addictions, religious concepts that lead them away from the love of the Saviour. Beware of the church leaders, they are often grounded in their positions, and feed their souls off the power they have over others. Actually, I'm saying this wrong. They don't have roots to ground in the first place." Thanis searches his head, says to buy time, "I need another haircut. But here's what I'm trying to say: in order to become a properly mature, anxiety-tolerant individual, you have to take a stand. Most people don't without some extreme circumstance that forces them to. And we all know that the only stand that will hold up for all time is that of the Saviour."
"If the Saviour wants to bring them home," Mike snorts, "perhaps a little crackdown from the UEG is what they need."
"Exactly," Thanis says, "because it wil force them to take that stand either way. I'll make the call, anyway" Thanis says as he picks up an old phone handset, and presses a button, "But if I can't get outside help, there's no point in trying, not with this," he taps at a tiny order of battle, maybe twenty people and only three military weapons. After an automated check, it beeps a tone that indicates that the phone and system are still secure. He has no concept of how, figures it's some sort of encryption. Thanis does not understand that the secret network he is connected to hides from the UEG via featherwing scratch, the poison of the angels. As he dials, he boasts, "This sort of thing is the forte of these guys."
Mike shakes his head, "No, if we attack this weapons cache, we can do with nothing less than Operation Tatakai. I don't want put anyone else at risk."
"Who do you think I'm talking about?" Thanis asks. The phone reads <2150 April 13 03:34>
<Sorry, we'd love to but we can't do it,> Devon explains, <We can give you our intel. They are going to start next week Tuesday, covert deployments the night before, catching all the real Saviour-spawn in their sleep, who they think are real Saviour-spawn, like Dr. Bradford and yourself. The rest they will capture in the morning. We want to let the operation proceed, and then break the camp in a couple of months. Right now we have to shut down something far more dangerous, I can't give you any details, but we are really busy, and won't be answering for the next few days.>
Thanis hangs up the phone. "Apparently," he sighs, "The Saviour also thinks a little crackdown from the UEG is what they need. I've seen Tatakai take on smaller UEG operations than this."
Mike sighs, then rises to his feet, "Perhaps this is too big for anybody."
"Not Tatakai," Thanis explains, "no, no, definitely not Tatakai. Remember the UEDS Fenton Nobell?"
The United Earth Deterrent Force kept the state governments from challenging the UEG, lest they have some of their cities vaporized by nuclear weapons, which has happened before. The United Earth Deterrent Submarines were the dominant arm of the UEDF, and the Fenton Nobell was one of the largest, having 240 nuclear armed cruise missiles. The entire ship had vanished from the middle of the Pacific a week before.
"You're kidding!" Mike squeaks, "Are you saying Tatakai took out Fenton Nobell?"
Thanis answers, "Maybe. They said they're doing something bigger right now."
"That cache is big enough to arm and armor sixty thousand troops, Thanis," Mike winces, "I can't imagine what could possibly be bigger than that!"
"Finally, we have the dirt on this thing," Tatakai scoffs, grabbing her shotgun from a rack of the Skyvan's crimson illuminated interior. The UAC Skyvan is the latest in civilian antigravity commuter transport. It has a military look and feel, because that's in style right now. (The actual military stuff has gone retro and red, the sort of conspicuous best used for busting riots.) This one, however, is military inside and out. There's the rumble of turbulence as it flies under the grey overcast.
"Full gear," Jack briefs the squad, "Echo, here's your intel," he hands a short blonde-haired man a sheaf of sheets.
Quickly Echo, the electronic countermeasures man, flips through the pages and asks with incredulity, "That's it?"
Tatakai slides a little insert into the chamber of her shotgun. "Secret facility with not a lot of ways to talk to the outside world," she says as she loads her shotgun with twelve two inch long rounds.
"I thought you were going with the magnums," Jack says.
"You do magnums again," she snorts, "My shoulder's still sore from last-"
"Devon, you had the light loads on the Fenton Nobell," Jack argues.
Tatakai smiles at her husband, as she checks her BFG, secure to her chest, "My shoulder's still sore from last night, mister magnum," she smirks.
"Nick," Jack says to the demolition expert, "We're going to be using some of our special measures, secrets only the two of us know," indicating Tatakai and himself. Then he points at the schematic of the base, "Your insertion point will be here."
"The only way in," Nick smiles, "That ventilation shaft is what we trained for."
Jack smiles at his wife. Tatakai points at the base's main entrance and says, "We're going in here four minutes ahead of you guys."
Nick is speechless. The main entrance's outer gate alone is three metres of laminated steel, every layer of which is case-hardened. Behind it is a labyrinthine logistics lobby with interlocking autoturrets.
Jack says, "Our objective is called a unitary teleporter, known more colloquially as a hell gate," he chambers his shotgun, "You all know where it is, you need to know what it is."
Tatakai cocks one Enforcer and stashes it on the side of her armor, ahead of the wing slot, then the other, explaining as she does so, "The unitary teleporter itself did not cause the so-called accident on Mars four and a half years ago. It opened to another dimension, called hell, in which dwell hellspawn, nephilim, and demons. They invaded the base."
"If you see anything that looks alien, it is," Jack explains, "Humans with glowing eyes as well," he indicates the red magazines, "is what these are for. The ammunition in these magazines has been laced with a poison that is effective against these creatures. Any you encounter will hopefully go down with a few rounds."
"Since this thing," Tatakai huffs, "Isn't supposed to be operational for another week, we are not expecting to encounter any of this funky stuff this time, but we will probably be at war with them, sooner or later. They wiped out the ancients on Mars thousands of years ago, and our UAC base in about ten minutes."
Jack and Tatakai lower their visors and give each other thumbs up. Jack punches a switch and the lights go out, the aircraft's ramp lowers.
"Holy crap!" Echo says, "This is like real heaven versus hell apocalyptic [beep], ain't it?"
"Yes," Jack says through his radio, "See you in four minutes."
Jack and Tatakai jump out of the aircraft.
"Oh, [beep]!!" Nick exclaims with alarm, "They forgot their-"
Jack and Tatakai bank away from the aircraft on their feathered wings. Nick chokes on his last word with surprise, "-chutes."
"What the heck?" Echo gasps, searching around his console for something, "Where's that alien ornament gone to, Nick?"
"What do you think that Skyvan's up to, Mack?" one security operator asks another within the base.
"Probably just some environmental protesters," Mack answers as he scans his various sensor scopes, "Maybe even just some sightseers, Handel. It's only been there three minutes."
"Any idea why its tailgate just opened?" Handel asks nervously.
"It's too far away, and wing suits will show up on-"
Mack is interrupted by a rumble through the walls. Suddenly in front of them, the door leading from the logistics lobby to the bioscan chamber explodes.
Handel rises to his feet, "What was that!" Peering up towards the logistics lobby, he sees a ragged edged straight tunnel, all the way to the grey sky outside. He looks the other way, to see the inner door to the bioscan chamber smashed through, but only to the main personnel lobby. He looks down and sees a heavily engraved object lying on the floor. "What?" He recognizes U-1, "Oh, no!"
Without another word, they head to the weapons locker and enter their codes, pulling out two Enforcer rifles. Looking back through the window, Handel reports tersely, "It's gone, the Soul Cube was on the floor, now it's gone."
Mack runs to the security office's normally automatic door and crashes into it, bouncing off and landing on his back, he rubs his head. He stops, "What?" he gasps. He presses the back of his right hand with the fingers of his left, "That's impossible!" he cries.
"What's impossible," Handel snorts.
"My implants are gone!" Mack squeals, and pointing at Handel's face, then his trigger hand, he adds, "So are yours!"
Handel tosses his rifle in a flurry of foul language.
"Who ever finds us is going to kill us," Mack says.
"Right," Handel snorts, "on penalty of death, it is forbidden to remove or have removed any triple-six implant."
"Handel and Mack are moving awfully fast, Dr. Anstice," the aide reports, "But they're not showing up on sensors, nothing on cameras." He looks up to see a door to a room open and close with nothing passing through then the door leading out, "This is nuts! Now Sargeant Hansen," he gasps. Handel and Mack have stopped in his office, and now Hansen is-"
"Hansen!" Dr. Anstice bellows over the intercom.
< I'm still in my office, sir, but I'm locked in.> The voice is pensive, frightened. <Something's wrong with my implants, and four are just lying here on the floor all of a sudden.>
Tatakai and Jack, deployed and invisible to cameras and eyes by virtue of the strength of their wings, gained through their love for each other, and the command of their abilities, wait outside the door to the lab.
"Sir, the air defense system is disabled and there's a Skyvan dropping stuff in our ventilation shaft," the aide cries. Jack and Tatakai can hear him through the door.
"Nick, Juice, they're onto you," Tatakai whispers, "Expect resistance,"
<Well ain't thar just purty,> Tatakai hears Juice report in her bizarre redneck accent, <He musta known I was a comin'! Thar autoturrents don't shoot straight neither!>
"Turn off that damn game!" Anstice roars on the other side of the door.
<Echo here, I'm trying an RFI backchannel I detected with some Turkey Puncher codes, is it working?>
Tatakai is doing all she can not to laugh (unsuccessful) at the ruckus beyond the door as Anstice is demanding answers about this game.
The calmer Jack answers the radio, <Definitely working.>
<So it thinks I is a tuuuuuurrrrkey?> Juice sighs, <Echo, whazz my bag limit?>
<Nick here, plugged in, got your triple-six codes on the way.>
Tatakai and Jack come to attention and face the door.
Nick reports, <Opening the door in three-two-one-mark.>
The door opens, Anstice and his assistant stare through it. The assistant runs to the door and looks out into the corridor. Backs away, lets it close, then locks it again, or rather tries to. The panel doesn't respond.
There's a clack in the big room. A huge, boxy object has been inserted into the port for the plasma inducer. It is a BFG that wasn't there a moment ago.
Suddenly, Dr. Anstice's control console comes to life. It displays several waveform graphics.
"And Ian said it wouldn't fit," Tatakai's disembodied voice mutters. She materializes at the console, featherwings visible, and Dr. Anstice angrily runs up to her, "Mostly from scratch, I see," Tatakai looking over the back of her wing at him says, "No pun intended."
"What the hell are you doing!?" he screams.
"Wrecking your toy, Doctor, It'll be my sixth," she explains.
Red strobes flash, a warning alarms sounds, and the two "big ears" of the teleporter bend down into position over the pad.
"Wait!" the doctor tries reason, "You're not authorized to-"
She turns around, having set up the teleporter manually to the third resonance of hell's quantum plane, "Check out the wings, huh?" She holds up her Soul Cube, lets go, it rises from her fingers, deploys its blades and spins, "You know what this is, don't you?"
The doctor gasps, "The plasma containment system, we haven't tested it!"
"I'm your containment system," Jack snorts as he becomes visible, "And I have been tested," he says as he raises his shotgun muzzle to eye level.
"I'm Devon Campbell," she says without pride, "wielder of the Soul Cube, skilled thief of triple-six codes and implants, and a featherwing being. I'm not authorized to be alive."
Dr. Anstice staggers away from her, towards the teleporter.
"Oh," Jack says, "You aren't getting out that way." With the point of his shotgun muzzle, BFG missing from his chest, he guides him away from the teleporter.
"Whoa, whoa whoa whoa," Nick flags down the fleeing lab worker, "Without implants, you're safer with us."
The terrified former assistant realizes they're missing. He realizes that the burly partner of the invading mercenary is a woman only after she begins to speak.
"How'd you get to work in a top-seekrit You Iee Jee tech hole like this without no trepple-six em-plants anyway?" Juice, shotgun over her shoulders, wonders.
"I have them, got them even before it was illegal not to have them," the assistant gasps.
"Ain't no You Iee Jee gonna buy that line," Juice snorts
"We're Saviour-spawn rebels," Nick explains, "You're safe with us."
"They're, they're just not visible, right now," he insists, "or or- they're missing?"
"It's hard enough to remove an implant safely, let alone without leaving a scar," Nick pleads, "You've never had them!"
"No!" he begs, "The door security locks are run by them, surely you must know that."
Nick and Juice look at each other, then back at the lab worker.
"Trust me, they're missing."
"And that," explains Juice, "Is how we do that." Juice is used to fraggin' nukes with her shotgun. She knows exactly where to put the slug for eight different models of tactical warhead.
Each of the three Soul Stealers which emerges from the briefly activated portal is drawn into the Soul Cube and destroyed, lighting up its second, third and fourth lights.
A Hell Knight emerges.
"Oh," Jack says nonchalantly, "It's a big one." Turning to his wife he adds, "Don't you wish you brought the magnums?"
The teleporter explodes behind the monster, and he screams, inviting Jack to send fourteen dubble-O buck pellets down his throat from the muzzle of his shotgun. After this, one of the teleporter ears lands on the monster's arm and pins him. Tatakai pumps two rounds into the immobilized Hell Knight. Finally, the Soul Cube steals the scratch from his blood and announces:
"We're fully charged."
Seemingly like an afterthought, Tatakai nicks the professor's cheek with her right alula claw as she walks towards the lab's exit, "Fully charged?" she asks as she looks towards Jack, "I thought there were only four of them."
"Yes," the Soul Cube explains, "The implants contain a small amount of delta vector, so we removed it from the implants of all the security personnel we could detect."
"But," Jack says, "We looked at it, and you said you'd need what was it? about sixty implants to equal one hellspawn kill?"
"That's what we got from the security personnel," the Soul Cube answers, "Then they couldn't get out of their offices and barracks. They'll be able to fix them, but it will take a few minutes at least."
"Hence the lack of resistance," Tatakai says, "But isn't the delta vector what they use to prevent implant rejection? Won't they have autoimmune problems?"
"Oh, yes," the Soul Cube answers, "but they are all forewarned, the base's library has two Bibles, which include Revelation Chapter 18 and the effects of the triple-six implant."
"So that's how that works," she sighs, "Sucks to be them."
Emerging into the lobby, they walk up to their squadmates and say, "Successful Op."
"Latest from Miami," Nick says as he takes his finger from the side of his helmet, "They have Dr. Bradford."
"Crap," Tatakai sighs.
Jack sombrely reflects, "That'll probably end our string of medical miracles."
"We'll have a chance to meet her again, I'm sure," Tatakai says, "Probably in a few hundred years, we'll all have different names and bodies."
Juice volunteers to climb out of the ventilation shaft via the rappel line, while Tatakai and Jack fly out with the lab assistant and Nick, another hardy Ex-Marine.
As she pumps her way up the rope with her ascent pulley and her legs, Juice calls up the shaft, "You won't go and drive off wittout me, will ya?"
"You're our ride, you know that!" Tatakai cheers back down.
"Just checkin'" Juice pants as she tops the fifty foot climb. Never officially a combatant in any army (legal or otherwise) before joining Operation Tatakai, she was a truck driver who swamped her own loads and is only slightly winded.
"How many enemy casualties?" Echo asks. As they get back into the hovering aircraft, Echo notices the Soul Cube dangling off Tatakai's pack upside down from an ornimental keyring, "Oh, that's where it went," he unfastens it from the pack and secures it again to the top of the electronic warfare console. "I'm surprised all the lights survived on you, poor thing," he says with a caress, "I guess Devon always takes good care of you."
"No human casualties this time," Tatakai answers, indicating Victor, the former lab assistant, "He doesn't count, because, as you know, we don't take prisoners."
"Three Soul Stealers, one Hell Knight," Jack says as he opens the action of his shotgun, removing the live round and locking it, chamber open, into its place on the van's wall, "and the first teleporter since the Battle of Mars."
Dr. Anstice regains consciousness in the floor of his lab. The last thing he remembers is seeing an autoturret monitor showing the ventilation shaft overflowing with cartoon turkeys. The first thing he notices is the video disk left lying right in front of his eyes. Something falls. He rises to his knees and sees that his experimental teleporter is destroyed. Where the activation console used to be is a black pentagram charred into the floor.
"Why!!" he screams, "Teleportation is the future of humanity!"
He picks up the video disk and slides it into the MCS console, noting that his teleporter control console has been fried from the inside, he can even smell the Pyrostop. The video begins, "My name is Doctor Ian McCormick. I am a research specialist stationed on Mars, working for the UAC..." On the screen, it says "Teleportation Experiments Video Log."
[The full Ian McCormick "video" is available in the sixteenth stage of Doom 3 by Id Software.]
Next: FHD Remix Chapter 50: A Desperate Dictator