Asteroid Blues


Chapter 2. Uninvited guests

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First of all, I shall to explain what my army is. As I began to play Infinity, I started out with PanOceania, yet I always liked the cyberpunk part of this universe, i.e. all those corporations, mercenaries, PMCs, espionage etc. So my army is actually the private corporative enforces from the «Ascension» Corporation - the contractor company, which works for PanOceanian military, developing and selling out weapons. Because of this, «Ascension» able to equip it's forces with gear which looks exactly like PanOceanian, yet it's targets and activities in the Human Sphere could be far from what the official forces trying to fulfill.
Second: For the same reason, I am more interested in the story and narration of this campaign, rather than in the competitive part, so my reports would be more of the narrative story-driven things, instead of the cold and dry facts and retell of the actual battle in details.
And the last but not the least, please bear with me: English is not my native language, so I apologize in advance for any possible grammar mistakes.
Thank you, and hope you will enjoy the read!

Chapter 2. Uninvited guests

The heavy cargo transport ship stood idly in the far backside of the massive hangar. Around it were scattered hundreds of metal containers and crates, which created an endless maze of walls and hidden passes. Far above under the ceiling cargo cranes swing and slide back and forth on the long rails. Colonel Oleg Borisov-Kinsley overwatched the process of the cargo unloading from the control post in the building in the middle of the hangar. Officer stood here with arms crossed on his chest and displeased look on his face: they were beyond the time limit and he had no single way to change that. The only option was to wait and chew on his own lip annoyed. Colonel felt himself as a predator trapped in the cage. He looked on his watch and grinded his teeth.
The transport ship, named "Mute merchant", sailed the void of space under Haqqislam flag, but obviously were just a mere impersonator. Oleg couldn't remember how many times the ship changed it's name, registration codes and "ownership" during the "Ascension’s” operations. Previous time, when it delivered stolen samples of Yu Jing bio-weapons to the research labs of the "Ascension" corporation, it was named "Busty chimera" and pretended to be part of Nomad's trade armada. The ship's engines were turned off, while few drones repaired the minor damage of the asteroid impact on the rear armor plates. The teams of workers, dressed into massive exoskeletons for zero-g operating, dragged heavy cargo containers from the dark depths of the vessel’s "stomach". Dozens of various logos of international corporations flashed on the containers with bright colors. MotoTronica, MagnaObra, GearFlash, SonicSolutions... The smokescreen of the cargo was a pack of innocent supplies delivered to the Novyy Bangkok for further selling. Any curious border control officer, who would like to open any of the containers, will find only canned food, luxury clothes, high-tech gaming VR-sets and other vital and "not really vital" goods for the inhabitants of distant asteroid colony. But in the very few containers, absolutely not different from all others, were hidden pieces of the unassembled heavy machinery. The machinery which were the vital part of the whole data-heist plan. Soon enough, after the supplies will leave the Liberty Cargo spaceport via transit monorails to the markets and stores of the Main Strip, "Ascension's" engineers will start the real work…
The beeping alarm on the comlog pushed Oleg out from thoughts and colonel touched the screen of device.
- "Whats the matter?" - he asked bluntly, without any additional ceremonies.
- "Sir, we got the unidentified shuttle approaching the spaceport. The AA-canons took it on the aim-lock" - reported one of the spaceport workers, - "Wait a minute, sir, they request a connection channel with any representative in your section. Shall I..."
Oleg frowned and sighed disappointedly. The fail in the Gallery Maze finally came with its consequences.
- "Give them to me, I will chit-chat with our guests", - colonel ordered.
The next moment above his comlog opened holographic screen, which flashed with the "snow" of the poor signal, before broadcasting stabilized.
In front of the colonel appeared O-12 officer. Behind him in depth of the transport shuttle, Oleg managed to notice flashing "eyes" of the Dakini tactbots. ALEPH saying "hello".
- "Good evening, sir. My name is Rodgers Bridged, I am authorized representative of the international forces here at Novyy Bangkok. I assume you is the highest ranked officer in this sector of the spaceport?"
- "You are not wrong", - Oleg shrugged, while pressing "alarm" button on his comlog, without breaking eyes contact with O-12 officer. - "May I know what made so busy organization as O-12 reach our far corner of this he****le of an asteroid, pardon my language?"
Rodgers smirked.
- "We got an information which allows us to assume, that the cargo transport in one of the hangars here landed on the Novyy Bangkok without actual permission and therefore broke up the international blockade. We suspect that this ship could be related to the current shasvastii’s activity on the asteroid and so such event shall not be leaved without our investigation. We have a permission to search the transport ship itself and all it's cargo as well as the nearby storage area. Will you mind if we land and proceed to doing our job?"
Now was the time for Oleg to smirk himself.
- "I will mind that. You won't find anything here. Take a hike and don't come back, without the permission from the Liberty Cargo Spaceport authorities. Your international papers, which certain AI produces like a broken printer, has no power here. The only use they have for me is to replace a toilet paper."
Rodgers seems to be insulted. His face gone red and his eyes shined with anger.
- "I understand your position and respect it, dear PanOceanian goon. Prepare your a*s and everything in this hangar for the examination. We are entering and everyone who will try to stand on our way will get a lawful bullet from us."
With these words, O-12 officer broke the connection and holographic screen shown message "End of transmission".
- "What a self-loving piece of bureaucratic dog..." - Oleg whispered, before switching to the squad’s communication channel, - "Alright peeps, we have a problem. Our dear ALEPH sent it's robo-pets and some O-12 mo**ns, overflowed with their importance, to touch us under panties. So we have to shoo them away. Clean up the investigation team and destroy their transport. Leave no survivors, when they will send the next one team we already would be far from here".
Colonel listened to responses of his soldiers. Then he turned to one of the operators on the control post.
- "Jim, you know what to do. Turn on the ship's scrambler units, so ALEPH won't hear the last screams of his men".
- "Roger this, sir", - operator opened additional windows on screen and started to tap fast on the sensor keyboard. - "And where are you going yourself, sir?"
Oleg's smirk turned into dark cruel grin.
- "I am going to dress up into something more fitting than this and give our lovely guests the proper warm greet, which they deserve"

Rodgers Bridged still looked on the screen with the map of spaceport, but his mind were far from it. The arrogant and cockish behavior of the PanOceanian officer truly kicked him out of his seat. Rodgers had to confess to himself, that he wasn't used to the situations when O-12 badge didn't open all doors once and smoothly for him. To be honest, this was the first time and he already requested additional instructions from the HQ. For now, he just landed his shuttle on the empty side of the landing field, right in front of the hangar with the suspicious transport, and turned the shuttle into the operating center. Two Proxy troopers - one in termo-optical camouflage and one heavy ProxyMk5 with couple of submachine guns moved forward to do the recon and intelligence duty. Few Dakini tactbots surrounded shuttle, one of the robots with sniper rifle climbed on the top of the nearest storage building to provide fire support to it's robotic comrades. Rodgers were sure that right now this shady mercenaries, who protected the cargo ship, did the same - fortified their defense inside the hangar and tried to make it unbreakable for his small forces. Assuming this O-12 officer decided to just hold the ground and await bigger strike team to arrive either from Gallery Maze or from one of the ships on the low orbit. With enough firepower they would be able to break up the defense of the mercenaries without much effort, and - what was much more important for Rodgers - without his actual participation in the gunfight.
Suddenly the nearby screen flashed and turned off. After it, same thing did another one and another.
Less than in a few moments the operating center inside shuttle went dark, leaving Rodgers to look confusedly on the screens with same words "Disconnected". A second later the reboot protocols activated and screens flashed with lights again, but this time they had one ultimate difference: the notification of an enemy scrambler being activated. From now on all the robotic troops were disconnected from the ALEPH's overview and command, while Rodgers himself was disconnected from the O-12 HQ. Furthermore, to make situation even worse, pilot reported that the shuttle was hacked distantly and now he have to reboot the whole system to start engines. So they can't take off until this will be done.
The next moment somewhere on the landing zone of spaceport sounded gunshots.
Officer Rodgers Bridged adjusted the collar of his O-12 uniform, which somehow became too tight in a single moment. Okay, all robotic troops now await his orders: ALEPH won't restore control over them until the scrambler won't be turned off. Alright, he can do this himself. All like on training, right? Nothing to be worried about at all...

The Apsaras operative crouched down near wall in the abandoned one-store building on the side of the landing field. Around her were dusty metallic furniture and few computer terminals, which obviously weren't in use for eternity. The operative considered this place to be good enough safe spot to organize her position here. Now the rings of flashing data swung around her, visible only to her, as she provided Dakini tactbots with additional information support and increased their fighting abilities beyond the basic limits. Right now, she helped robotic sniper to examine the windows of the far hangar, checking up the inner lines of defense of the mercenaries. Couple of Bulleteers, missile launcher, Fugazi drones, nothing what they won't be able to deal with... Unless...
With loud "Thoom" something hit the concrete of the landing filed quite near Apsaras's position. The operative looked up into the dirty broken window, over the still shining rings of data, which blocked almost her entire vision. And saw the Garuda with combi rifle, which landed near the building. The long rectangle "wings" of Garuda's jetpack still trembled, while engine slowly stopped. Garuda turned around and quickly ran toward the window. At first Apsaras wasn't worried about it - after all she saw Garudas on daily basis being part of ALEPH. But then, the operative understood that she can't read the ID-code of the approaching unit, neither it's signature match with the database.
- "Wait a moment..." - Apsaras whispered.
Her fingers touched the handle of her weapon.
The next moment Garuda opened fire from it's combi rifle. The bullets pierced the window, cracking it and forcing into explosion of the glass pieces. And then bullets hit the Apsaras's chest, tearing away uniform and easily destroying the synthetic flesh and mechanical parts beneath it. The spasm of the malfunction pushed trough Apsaras's whole body, making her fall on her side. The inner batteries turned off, her vision became dark and last thing she saw was her helmet, which rolled away on the dusty floor...

Wo Min - the squad's hacker - wasn't in the Liberty Cargo spaceport when everything happened. The "Battle Alert" message found him, when he was nicely getting drunk in the bar on the Main Strip, staring at the perfect shapes of the local waitress. The beeping sound of the comlog made Wo Min to growl. He was just about to ask when the lovely waitress girl, who winked back to him, finishing her shift. Instead of this he had to rush into the bathroom and close the door behind himself. Here he pulled out his hacking device and VR-set from the bag and got it on. The moment the lens of his helmet got connection and he saw the situation in the spaceport, he understood that all his hopes for the amazing evening goes into the drain.
- "Ah for the f**k sake..." - He cursed and started out the breach protocol.
Using the squad's EVO Mulebot as a repeater, Wo Min connected to one of the two Bulleteers and initiated the Assisted Fire protocols. In a mere second the fire controls adjusted and hacker wiggled his fingers in the air, helping the Armbot to aim better.

The heavy Bulleteer walked out from the corner and turned around, aiming it's double spitfire weapons at the next target. Behind it's laid burning garbage in which was turned Lamedh Rebot. Near it on the ground damaged ALEPH's engineer wiggled weakly. The trooper was unable to get up, but it's systems refused to die either. Dakini sniper laid without any move on the top of building, which it used as sniper position. Tactbot’s head turned into the broken metal and burned wires. The Dakini with light grenade launcher turned into the smashed scarp of metal and plastic, smeared all over the wall by the storm of bullets. Bulleteer entered the yard near O-12 shuttle. Yard which Bulleteer turned into the graveyard for robotic units which arrived with O-12 officer. The next victim - the CSU operative who tried to provide datatracking, now was cowardly hiding inside the small control post. The speakers on the Bulleteer's armor turned on and Wo Min's voice sounded from them, distorted by the signal disruptions:
- "F**k yeah, fear the Bulleteer, bi***es! This for my ruined night!"

Oleg walked across the landing field. The backpack power unit did the low-whistling sound, while termo-optical camouflage flushed away from the colonel's armor. He had heavy machine gun in his hand. Colonel lazily moved his arm left and right, shooting last survived soldiers of the O-12 investigation team. Behind his back laid dead Dart - the cybernetic archer tried to ambush colonel, but trusty Bulleteer, which followed Oleg as a loyal dog, filled up her body with bullets. Colonel stepped over turned off ProxyMk5, which laid as useless piece of junk on the concrete of airfield. Both submachine guns were broken and the Proxy was damaged beyond repair. While passing by, Oleg grabbed the Netrod beacon. He broke the helpless AI beacon against his armored knee and tossed the torn pieces apart. This all was the blunt and straightforward show off of force, which only PanOceanian could allow himself, while being dressed into the state of art armored suit. Only elite members of Swiss Guard normally had access to such power armors. But when you is a contractor company, which build up such suit's on your factories, you always can allow yourself to "loose" one or two of them and then provide your own troops with them.
Oleg slowly but steadily approached the burning shuttle which laid on the landing field as the hill of blazing metal and broken plastic. The few minutes earlier, shuttle finally rebooted it's engines and tried to take off, but the spaceport's AA turrets turned it into the flaming meteor, which heavily hit the ground. Oleg smirked, seeing injured person in the scorched O-12 uniform who crawled out from under the debris. Rodgers Bridged lost one arm and long trace of blood dragged behind him into the pile of rubble, which once were his shuttle. Seeing colonel, Rodgers stopped and tried to reach him with his hand.
- "P-please... Help... Me..." - O-12 officer cried out.
Oleg opened the face part of his helmet, looking on the dying Bridged. Then pulled out his pistol and aimed it at Rodgers head.
- "Told you, you won't find here anything", - responded colonel and pulled the trigger.

From: Colonel Oleg Borisov-Kinsley - Head of the "Ascension" corporation's private military corps.
To: "Showrunner" - an anonymous controller of the "Ascension" corporation's operations in the Novyy Bangkok
Subject: Uninvited guests

The small investigation team of ALEPH's operatives leaded by the O-12 officer arrived at the Liberty Cargo spaceport and tried to access the transport ship. We did what PanO doing best and shut them all up.
Entire operation went quick and smooth under the working scrambler, so we are sure that neither O-12, neither ALEPH itself knows what exactly happened to their people. We swooped up the area and made sure that we didn't miss anyone from the investigation squad. No one of them left the spaceport alive.
After this, I took the authority to increase the speed of events and sent out the engineering teams together with the cargo by the monorail transit system into our hideout at the Main Strip area. If any further investigation teams will show up, we will be ready to openly show them around the ship and hangar without any worry about compromising the entire plan. Awaiting any additional instructions, if necessary

From: "Showrunner"
To: Colonel Oleg Borisov-Kinsley.
Subject: RE: Uninvited guests

Affirmative. The "clean-up" team will remove all traces of the investigation squad's presence in the spaceport. Proceed with the protection of the cargo as planned. The active phase of the plan begins tomorrow.

*End of transmission*

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