SK HercBase #3
20 minutes before the storm
Floating on invisible lifters, and bobbing slightly in the
thin Martian air, the hover transport arrived, making its first
run of the day, dropping its cargo and one lone passenger
onto the hard tarmac of the recently-constructed base
belonging to the StormKeepers squad.
A slightly dazed-looking recruit with a misshapen sling
bag over his shoulder looked around, orientating himself
to the confusingly new surroundings, and began walking
in the general direction of the base.
A tired-looking StormKeeper officer, wearing a faded
uniform that somehow managed to survive numerous
encounters with the base's notorious no-brand washing machines
stood near the entrance, waiting for the recruit.
Flipping over the authorisation letter that was
e-mailed by PR Coke just half an hour ago, the officer
entertained himself with dark thoughts about giving those
washing machines a little
auto-cannon treatment, and then
requesting for some new branded ones from SK HQ. Hmmmph.
"Welcome, Dire Wolf, to the StormKeepers squad", began
[SK] Louie. "Just proceeed down the hall, second turn to the
left, meet up with Chief Instructor Hanuman and ask for your
training orientation schedule. Then go further down the hall,
all the way to the end, down to the Herc bay, and choose one
of them shiny new machines sitting there just waiting for you.
Yeah, talk to Lollipop, if you meet him, he *just* might be able
to scrounge up an extra
ELF for you. But don't tell anyone I
told you the last one", Louie finished with a slight grin.
And just then, [SK] Jeffr came out in the bright morning sun,
strolling onto the scene, projecting a demeanour of near-genuine
coolness. Scanning left and right with his eyes, and finding the
two of them standing right there in the middle of Parade
Square, Jeffr announced in a slow drawl, "duh.. guess what...
Hanu' chief sez they gotta dozen cye-breeds headin' diz way...
on top of'us in, like, fifteen minutes. As you'd say, ya know,
Louie, how about, duh, joining da party..?"
Hearing this, Louie broke into an even bigger grin, and
started running, pulling Dire Wolf along, "come on, you don't want
to miss this big a party, let's suit up, get ready
to rock and roll...!!"
Just at that exact moment, the Red Alert sounded. Ear-jarring
klaxons split the air, and seemingly out of nowhere, dozens
of little rotating red lights appeared, bathing the innermost
spaces deep in the base in an eerie red glow.
Exactly two and a half minutes later, six
Hercs, large, three-storey tall vaguely humanoid-looking shapes, each
single one of them mounting awesome firepower the equivalent
of an entire armoured platoon so many generations ago, began
to emerge from well-camouflaged openings in the ground...