Alex had gotten beaten pretty bad, but the company medics were the best in the system. His broken ribs would be healed in just under twelve hours. The standard Enforcer genetic modifications strengthened the marrow in his bones, but he was still only human.
Nathan vowed to protect Alex and his other squad-mates to the best of his abilities, and had obviously failed. The three men caught them by surprise at the right time. It was a shame that they did. Nathan was so close to getting what he wanted out of that whore.
He had to keep the story straight with the medics though, as getting drunk for some late night fun before being dumped into hell wasn’t exactly smiled upon by the corporation. Nathan ordered that all of his men kept their mouths shut and to answer all questions by redirecting the questions to him. It was his mess, he was going to clean it up.
The corporate medic moved on from Alex to Nathan.
“Your men are very loyal to you.” The brunette wasn’t nearly as attractive as the whore he almost tasted tonight. No matter, that wasn’t her function.
“Yes, yes they are.”
“How did you come about these injuries?”
“Just a casual bar room brawl with a few locals. Bouncers broke it up before anything too serious happened.”
“Huh…” The nurse wasn’t convinced. “I don’t remember seeing any locals come in from a bar fight tonight…”
Nathan didn’t even break a sweat.
“The bar owner paid them off. He was afraid of getting the corporation involved. Didn’t want to lose his business permit. Told him my men wouldn’t talk.”
“So why are you?” The nurse sterilized a needle to administer a shot.
Two armed police officers came in, the redheaded bitch between them. Nathan shot a deadly look to her, which she instantly removed herself from eye contact.
“Excuse me. Nurse Carter, this woman needs immediate medical attention.”
“Give me a second officer.”
“Ma’am, we think her arm might be broken.”
Nurse Carter sighed and put the needle down with a bit of attitude and turned around. Her eyes instantly filled with concern for the young girl.
“My lord. Officer what happened to her?”
“She said she fell off a table while dancing. There was some sort of tussle and she got trampled on in the process.”
Nathan lowered his gaze, peering directly at the girl.
“Her boss made her finish her shift and she barely made it to the convienience store. Owner saw her outside nearly passed out on a bench and called her in.”
“What is your name dear?”
“Sar...” She locked eyes with Nathan. “Strawberry. I go by Strawberry.”
“Well, miss Strawberry, sit right here.” She motioned to the bed across from Nathan. “I just need to go get some supplies for you.”
“Not to evesdrop, but if you need help with the investigation officer my Enforcers are at your disposal.” Nathan covered his ass, trying to play the good guy.
“That is very generous of you Mr…”
“Cole. Nathan Cole.” He extended his hand and cracked a smile.
“Mister Cole. Officer Rogers.” He met the handshake firmly “It is a pleasure to meet you. But my department should be able to handle it. But thank you for the offer, if for some reason we bite off more than we can chew though I will gladly take you up on it.”
Nurse Carter spoke up.
“Nathan here was at the club tonight too. Perhaps he might have seen who did it?”
“Ah! Mr. Cole?”
“Can’t say that I would be able to identify anyone Officer. I was more focused on protecting my men, and as you can see…” He motioned to Alex who was just putting his shirt on after checking his bandages. “… I even failed at doing that.” Nathan feigned disappointment to sell it.
“I am sure you did the best you could soldier. If you or your men remember anything, let me know.” Officer Rogers handed him a card with his contact information.
“Yes sir.” Nathan offered him a courtesy salute, even though the local police didn’t operate within the confines of the corporations military structure.
“If you are done talking to Mr. Cole here I must ask you to leave. I will watch over the girl.” Nurse Carter showed him the door, and followed behind her to get the supplies she needed. After a few moments of awkward silence, Nathan finally spoke.
“Hey there gorgeous.”
“Just shut up.” She was stern and to the point. She wasn’t going to give him an inch.
“Nothing would have happened if you just gave me what I wanted sweet heart.”
“I am not that kind of girl.” She covered herself up more using the blanket on her bed.
“Yeah you are. I know you are. Otherwise you would have ratted my men and I out. And you definitely didn’t do that. You want me, even if you don’t know it.” Nathan stood up and got within an inch of her face. “After my job is done downstairs sweetie, I am coming back up here and getting what I deserve.” He grabbed her face and forced a kiss on her.
He stood up and headed for the door.
“See you in a few weeks. And if you aren’t here… I will chase you across the damn galaxy whore.”
Sarah was in full mental collapse, only giving her assailant a single tear of satisfaction.
Kale loved it when he had the ship to himself. He could cut loose and relax while working at his own pace with no one there to get in the way. Sure, William was a help most of the time, and Captain trusted his expertise, but Valerie just freaked him out.
She hardly said anything. In three years of working with the Captain he must have heard her say all of two dozen words, and that was being generous. Valerie was an angel of death in combat though. No one messed with her, or even came close to her skill level. She made combat look like it was child play, and that is exactly why Captain kept her around. Kale did pick up on hints that the two shared a past of some sort, but the deep and dark details were kept secret.
Kale snapped back to work as cooling fluid started to leak from the pipe he was working on. He quickly grabbed a rusted can and held it under the hole he had just cut open. The pipe needed to be drained so he could look at the Push Drive with nothing mucking up the works.
The last bit of oil dripped into the can as the computer yelled at the Push Drive. The information was basic, saying that without adequate coolant the ship would never be able to initiate a push, thus being stuck in Mars’ atmosphere. The coolant that was being recycled was also losing its potency due to molecular deterioration.
Just one more thing for the list.
Coolant was added to the ever growing list of problems. Everything seemed more do-able over eggs, but fixing one problem always created at least two more. At this rate, Vigilance was never going to get off of Mars.
Erica stepped into the store, calling up Kale and William’s constantly growing list of materials and parts needed to get her bird space worthy again. Based on the prices she was compiling from four different vendors the cheapest she could get off rock was fifteen thousand dollars over what she had, and that was after a rather generous dip into her retirement fund. A fund that was shrinking faster than it was growing.
How the hell am I going to pull this off?
The obvious answer was to take on passengers, as the next leg in her voyage was Earth, but that would mean opening up a whole legal case for each and every one she took on. Getting herself and her three crew members verified for Earth contact took six month of doctor visits, paper work, background checks and anything in between. Earth was privilege to land on, never a destination. This was especially true for the people of Olympus. Olympus had a population of around three hundred thousand, and maybe two of them could afford the application process.
Of course there was the black market for those kinds of things, but Erica was extremely particular about who she would let set foot on her ship. Unless of course the ‘passengers’ were included in the delivery commission for Sigris. Sigris paid good money, and Erica never felt bad about taking it off of their hands.
Maybe this line of work has finally run its course on me…
She sighed and moved on. Dwelling on the situation would not solve the problems. Erica recollected her psyche and calmed herself. She needed to start looking for solutions.
“Valerie, you trust me right?”
Valerie was always standing nearby for protection, but Erica always looked to her for council. She simply nodded an affirmative to the question.
“Well then I am going to be completely truthful with you. We can’t afford all of the stuff on this list. We need another source of income, and I am open to your ideas. I am not coming to you as your boss or you Captain. I am coming to you as a friend who trusts you. What can we do to get enough money to get off Mars?”
Valerie was always a tough read, but Erica could see the wheels turning in her head.
The silence lingered.
“Alright scum! I have a splitting headache and I am not ready for your crap at all. Suit the hell up, and make it fast. I want this to be the quickest three weeks of my life…” Nathan stormed into second sector Sigris Barracks. All of the miners were accounted for and were starting to suit up in their low level power armor. His squad started to file in, keeping the Miners in check.
Alex walked over to the oldest Miner and started to pace behind him as if the man was taking to long. He finally lost his patience and started throwing components of the armor at the Miner.
“You heard him. Move it ass hole!” Alex still had a bruise on his face from the encounter last night. The Miner he was pestering looked right at him, the silver shining off of his beard giving him an added aura of arrogance.
“Nice shiner you got there…”
Alex stepped towards the man face and threw a punch, landing squarely on the mans jaw.
“Tony!” Two of the other Miners in about half their armor jumped to defend him. Tony, the man Alex had just clocked, put an arm out and held the others at bay.
“Don’t worry boys. It is just a kid lashing out after a complement.” Alex stepped forward ready to throw another punch.
“ALEX!” A bellow from Nathan stopped him mid punch. “Quit dicking around! Suit him up and move on. We have a job to do.” Alex just sighed and grabbed the chest piece of Tony’s armor and shoved it at him.
“You will get yours… I will see to it.” Tony took the chest piece and clicked it into place.
“I look forward to it.” Tony sealed his helmet and helped the other Miners finish assembling their suits. If any of the Miners were going to be a problem once they got underground, it would be him. Nathan pinged Alex’s personal channel.
“Alex, keep an eye on that one… but don’t give him a reason to piss you off. Understood?”
The radio was full of static…
“Soldier that is an order.” Nathan was firm in his delivery.
“Sir… Yes sir.” The resentment dripped off his voice. Nathan knew he would do what was expected of him, but that didn’t mean that Alex enjoyed it.
The black eye under the visor of the Enforcer that hit Tony confirmed Conner’s suspicions. Three of these creeps were the guys who tried to rape that girl last night. The mere thought of them almost getting away with raping her made Conner’s stomach churn. There wasn’t anything he could do though. There were twelve Enforcers all armed with automatic rifles, side arms and concussion grenades.
They had four more men than the Miners did, and Miners weren’t armed at all. Sure the sonic drills could cut through damn near anything, but the range on them was so low to consider them an effective weapon was a completely farfetched idea.
Everyone was suited up now and Evan stood behind Conner. Tony was in front of them. The Miners were arranged into two rows of four as they were loaded onto the two trucks travelling to Sector 0. Two Enforcers lead the line and brought up the rear while two of them drove each truck. Evan and Conner were sitting within speaking distance of each other, and the roar of the truck would prevent the Enforcers ear into the conversation.
“Did you see that Enforcers eye?” Conner wanted to make sure his rage from last night’s fight was clouding his vision.
“Yeah. I can’t believe Enforcers would try to pull shit like that…” Evan confirmed it then. Three Enforcers tried to rape a woman last night.
“Do you honestly believe what you just said?” Enforcers were brutes at heart and typically extremely aggressive. Evan thought about it.
“Exactly. We gotta get these guys back for what they did.” The company truck grinded to a halt, ending the hushed conversation and forcing the thoughts of revenge to the back burner.
Miners and Enforcers alike crammed into a drop pod designed for twenty people exactly. A company tech came by and scanned them all into the system. A clock appeared on every visor of each person scanned. The time read 180 hours on everyone’s clock, with the blinking text of ‘clocked in’ underneath it.
The drop pod speakers boomed.
“Gentlemen, you all have 180 hours on the clock. Over the next three weeks you will work the quarry at sixty hours a week. No shift is to go over ten hours. If you break any of these rules, and any rules previously agreed upon, another year will be added to your contract for each individual infraction.”
The lights dimmed and the safety straps locked everyone into place. A glowing red number appeared in the center of the room.
“Dropping to subterranean quarry in three…”
The entire world felt like it was collapsing as the rockets on top of the drop pad ignited. It was going to be a long three weeks…