Agent 957, Hideaway, The Caverns
He didn’t know where he was in the endless caves around him, but his implant had kept track of his every step, so he had a limited map. The soldiers within range fed their information into his implant as per instruction, giving him an overall picture of everything within range.
He open up a communication channel with the soldier at the front of the line. “Are we close to them yet?”
“No, sir. We’re gaining, but they started before we expected it and they planned for us. They’ve been releasing something that obscures their smell. Our best trackers are following them and the four-handers are doing what they can.”
Agent 957 grunted and cut off contact, creating a connection with the nearest four-hander. “How are you assisting us in catching the colonists?”
The four-hander made a series of quick chirping noises that the implant didn’t translate. Then it said, “Your Excellency, our equipment senses for them using multiple methods, but we are unsatisfied with our progress. The resistance has technicians that, while inferior to us intellectually, have a remarkable grasp of detail. They appear armed with tactics that defeat all our standard tracking methods. We would have lost them by now were it not for knowing that they entered this tunnel.”
He cut the connection, knowing that there was nothing he could say that would make them work better. Besides, the rare sign that had kept them on track showed that catching the colonists was still a possibility. It wasn’t as if they had anywhere to go up top. While the colonists had killed the majority of the crew and the marines with their attack, there were still some capable of pointing a weapon. He’d left them ready.
Once they got to the surface, he’d be able to call for help and this whole humiliating experience would be over. The Guard would back him up and he’d back them up—he hoped.
A tremor shook the cavern. It wasn’t as powerful as the last one.
While that was a relief (he’d never liked the idea of destroying caverns while he was inside one), the fact that one more thing wasn’t going according to plan worried him.
With a sigh, he reopened the connection he’d just closed. “What’s going on with the earthquake device?”
The four-hander made an untranslatable buzzing noise. Whatever the Abominators had done to their minds had left most of them with uncontrollable tics. 957 couldn’t blame the four-handers for it, but he couldn’t pretend it wasn’t irritating.
When the four-hander finished making the noise, he said, “I haven’t received any word on the device, but since the shocks aren’t following the expected pattern, I had to assume that it was destroyed before it could finish.”
Agent 957 exhaled, thinking back to the plan. Kamia was supposed to have made enough noise to distract the Xiniti and the humans with it. For someone to have destroyed the machine meant that Kamia and the people with her might have been killed, an unnerving possibility given Kamia’s near legendary status as a killer of Xiniti.
He hoped that she’d survived. As terrifying as he found her, anything that could take her down could end his chance at redemption or even survival.
He opened up his connection to the four-handers and soldiers under him, “Hurry, we need to catch them before they reach the surface!”
Four Hands, Hideaway, The Caverns
He couldn’t help but stare back into the darkness when he realized that the bunker breaker had been destroyed. It wasn’t a good sign, but the overall picture was still good. Neves, Kamia, and their people were headed to the surface. Maybe they’d kill some colonists on the way. Maybe they wouldn’t.
Agent 957 was acting as their attack dog, leading a team that was chasing the main group of colonists to the surface. Whether he or his people survived or succeeded wasn’t important. All that was important was that he was relentless, giving the colonists no time to think before they hit the surface.
Once they arrived there, they’d face an ambush that would end them if Four Hands was lucky. If he wasn’t, well, the colonists would have to fight the leftover crew members for control of the villages. The villages might be booby-trapped, but they were behind force fields. The colonists would never survive this hellhole of a planet without them.
On one level, he had to admit that it bothered him to place Agent 957 and his people in the way of the Xiniti force. Between the Xiniti’s reputation and what the small force here had achieved so far, he felt sure the man would die. Four Hands felt that the Ascendancy sacrificed too many of its troops and the people with Agent 957 were good soldiers.
On the other hand, Four Hands knew that Agent 957 had left the four-handed to be destroyed many times with no effort to avoid it. The two-hander deserved whatever came to him even if his troops didn’t.
Four Hands remembered daydreaming that he’d joined the resistance when he was younger. He’d returned to that thought many times over the years, only realizing what a joke it was when he’d joined the Guard and been given access to their collected intelligence.
There were no records of any four-hander in the resistance or any evidence they’d ever been asked to join. In that sense, the resistance was no better than the Ascendancy.
They deserved whatever came to them too.