Cassandra (and others): What you do?
Who: Jay, Harris
Where: Shuttle hangar bay
When: Just after Cass informed Jay that she was about to shut the comms grid down
"What the!?" Jay tried his communicator "Katrina!?"
It was dead
"Katrina!!" he yelled into the device, but it was useless: The comms grid was, as promised, offline
"Katrina!?... Ah, smeg it!" Jay snarled, hurling the communicator away
"The grid's dead..." he began, turning to his chief of security "Harris. Take your squad and any others that you meet on the way to begin a sweep of the key areas likely to be the source of these insurgents. The smegging cargo decks are the most likely place that these buggers'll be coming from; but to have overridden security and comms, they'll need to be operating somewhere with access to the grid. Start with those smegging sleazy bars down the promenade; in fact: do a good sweep of the entire Promenade, it'll help maintain calm - a good show of force in the public areas will reassure civilians and crew alike"
"Yessir" Harris snapped a salute and turned to shout orders at his squad
"Oh, and Harris..."
"While you're on the Promenade..." Jay murmured, moving in closer to Harris so as not to be overheard "Can do me a favour and pop into Boots to pick a big tube of... umm... Preparation-H up for me?"
"Well... Ouch" Jay winced theatrically, wishing that pile cream hadn't been the first thing to pop into his mind "Let's just say that my grapes are playing up something rotten today, so it's really quite urgent you get to the chemists for me; I asked Katrina to go today, but if you could *help her out* and make it your number one priority, that would be great... You do understand, don't you Harris?"
"My arse grapes, man! My Farmers, my Nobbies, my Blair's, my ...haemorrhoids" Jay hissed
"Haem...? Ah right! Of course sir" Harris snapped another salute "One extra large tube of soothing pile cream coming right up!"
"Great" Jay smiled "You... do understand, don't you? About helping Kat...?"
"Yes sir! Completely sir!"
"Good man!" Jay clapped Harris on the arm and winced again for good measure before theatrically hobbling off to try and organise an analysis of the situation from his science team, and leaving Harris to organise his men
Who: Cassandra, Le Souteneur
Where: The Velvet Fist
When: Same time
"Où elle est?" Le Souteneur hissed
"There" Cass replied, indicating the monitors "Still in Boots; she won't be moving far. Like most women she won't be able to leave the place without spending an inordinate amount on five or six little 'essential' bits, and only then after she has either touched, sniffed, or rubbed most of the other products in the shop on the back of her hand"
Le Souteneur lapsed into a menacing silence, watching as Cass moved the armed squads around the ship, neutralising the threat from the uncoordinated security squads
The ship juddered as its wormhole drive engaged and it slipped through into Molopod space
"What!?" Cass paused, looking up from her work, and frowning to herself
"Dunno. I've got control of security and comms, nothing else. Ask Holly if you're interested" Cass turned her attention back to the monitors "Heads up though: Beta's made contact!"
Who: Harris and the rest of his security team
When: Same time
"Smegging pile cream..?" Harris sighed to himself "Why doesn't the Captain just go visit Keto and get some smegging ointment and one of those little plastic applicators like everyone else?"
He and his squad of five were stood in the middle of Boots amidst aisles of corn plasters, topical salves and bubble bath
"Wha' we doin' 'ere chief?"
Harris regarded Mackenzie evenly, pondering the correct response; the man was big, enthusiastic and not that bright - perfect in almost every way for the security department, although this did have the drawback that he wasn't likely to be able to grasp the finer points of the Captains predicament, and the need for a little circumspection
"Well..." Harris began; but that was as far as he got before the side of Mackenzie's head blew out, showering Ward and Yamashiro with his blood and brain before the man's lifeless corpse slumped to the ground
"Smegging hell!" Ward shrieked, wheeling to fire his laser rifle in a wild arc, setting several small fires across the shop and destroying a nearby display of scented candles, filling the air with the chemical stink of wax, and mock-essential oils
Napier in turn opened up with her shotgun, punching fist sized holes through displays packed with nail polish, cuticle sticks, and eye makeup
"No!" Harris bellowed, hitting the deck "Down!"
Startled, Yamashiro and Hague ducked down, Ward pulling his rifle up and joining them as Napier caught a round in the face, the wet force of the impact flipping her lifelessly over onto her back; she didn't even get the chance to scream
"Oh my smegging God" Hague moaned, his eyes wide with terror as he glanced between the two corpses splayed in the aisle with them "We're all going to die!"
"That's not helping" Harris snapped pulling his laser pistol out of its holster and crawling across the floor to chance looking out from behind the neatly stacked shelves of topical Bore Worm salve
To his immense relief, the air didn't light up with energy and hot lead
"C'mon" he hissed "This way's clear..."
Who: Katrina Salter
When: Same time
Katrina, absorbed with trying to select which one of the three hand creams she had just rubbed into the back of her hand was the best (all the while secretly holding out hope that it was the most expensive one), nearly jumped out of her skin when the sound of gunfire erupted across the shop
Shoppers and store assistants alike screamed and scattered around her, dashing for the exits and giving her the opportunity to slip a couple of pots of the expensive stuff into her pockets before she too turned to joined the panicking throng, and make her way out of the shop
Rounding the end of an aisle full of dietary supplements, Katrina skidded to a halt in front of an armoured trooper standing at the opposite end of the aisle, and immediately turned tail to dash back the way she had come as he bought a rocket rifle to bear on her
"Salter!" the man bellowed from away behind her "One way or the other you're coming with us! Surrender now and you save yourself a world of pain"
An explosion briefly lit the shop in stark blue light as the sex jelly aisle went up amidst a flurry of laser light, setting off the fire alarms and water sprinklers
"Aw, smeg off!" she managed in response, dashing in and out of the aisles as she tried to put as much distance between her and her would be assailants as possible
Who: Harris et al.
When: Just after
Harris and the remaining three members of his squad found themselves crouched low in the bikini wax, and moustache bleaching products aisle when the sprinklers went off, showering them all in a fine mist
Gloomily looking between the surviving members of the squad, Harris was forced to admit to himself that in their current state, he didn't fancy their chances; Hague was muttering to himself, eyes raided heavenward as he flicked another rosary bead through his fingers praying to whatever saint he deemed appropriate for this sort of situation, while Ward had the wide eyed panicky stare of a man on the edge, and Yamashiro was visibly shaking; her fingers nervously working through her hair, trying to scrape the bits of Mackenzie's brain out with her nails
"C'mon troops" Harris sighed "We've got people relying on us; keep it together"
Crawling forward, he gingerly glanced around the end of the aisle
"Clear" he reported "And hey: There it is - I can see the Prep-H from here!"
Harris poked his head out around the corner again, to do a more thorough reconnaissance of the area, and after a few minutes when he was satisfied that the coast was clear hissed "C'mon, there's nobody around. Let's go!"
Half running, half crouching, he and his squad made the twenty metres dash over towards the Preparation-H display, finally skidding to a halt next to it, Harris immediately stuffing a couple of tubes into his holdall pouch
"Right" he grunted "We've got what we came for. Let's clear out..."
"You mean to tell us..." Ward started incredulously
"Commander!" Yamashiro hissed, grabbing his arm and pointing out across the shop towards where an armoured figure had just stepped out from behind a set of shelves groaning with organic baby food
"Smeg" Harris spat, already moving, closely followed by Yamashiro "Get..."
The insurgent opened up with a rocket rifle, munitions hissing through the air and detonating with tremendous force, one round cutting Ward in half as he bought his laser rifle up, another blowing a nearby shelf full of prophylactics up, showering Hague with molten rubber and lethal shrapnel
"They're... They're..." Yamashiro gibbered
"Shut up, and move" Harris hissed, dragging the woman away "We're leaving now!"
Where: The Velvet Fist
When: Same time
Removed from the action, Cass watched impassively as the scene unfolded before her
The firefight was beautiful in its brutality and speed; Harris' squad was cut down in almost no time, leaving the Security Chief and the blood splattered woman with him fleeing towards the nearest exit while Delta squad closed in on Salter
Moving her fingers over her handheld, Cass turned her attention to this little cat and mouse game, watching with mild amusement as Katrina, ever resourceful, grabbed herself a can of hairspray and a gas stove lighter, to stride brazenly around the corner of an aisle and spark a sheet of flame into the face of the man nearest to her; his no doubt wild shrieks, inaudible on the monitors, made his frantic, painful convulsions seem even more unreal as he writhed on the floor trying to put the flames out
Turning, Katrina ran to slide around another corner and bring her improvised flame thrower to bear on the next nearest man, nearly getting away with lighting another blast of 'natural' looking styling product up, only to be kneecapped at the last moment by a single shot from one of the other insurgents, dropping her in turn to the floor and clutching her leg to writhe in mute agony before she was quickly subdued by Delta squad
"Ooh, that's got to sting" Cass murmured to herself
"She'll be alright" Le Souteneur chuckled "Eef she's lucky, she might not even loose dat leg!"
"Huh. I'm sure she'll be thrilled to hear that" Cass retorted dryly
"Oui. Now, tell Delta to bring 'er up 'ere"
The handheld pinged softly signalling an incoming message
"Huh, what's this?" Cass muttered to herself
"This is an automated distress signal from evacuation ship 12. Please rescue us with all do haste, as we have a wounded passenger. This message Is being broadcast on all channels, and will repeat for your convenience."
"Qu'est ce que c'est?" Le Souteneur had moved in behind her, and was gazing at the schematics showing the battle scarred escape pod
"Probably nothing" Cass replied "It just jumped in and started broadcasting. If I had control over the weapons, I'd be inclined to burn it, but since I don't, I'd advise doing nothing; chances are that it'll burn up as soon as it hits that planet's atmosphere anyway"
Who: Harris, Captain Chrysler
Where: Captains office
When : about 30 minutes later
"Captain!" Harris banged breathlessly into Jays office waving a tube of Preparation-H "Here's your pile cream!"
"The arse grape ointment that you asked for, remember? Something to soothe your stinging Blairs?"
"Yeah... I... You... uh... you took me literally there didn't you?"
"What!?" Harris snapped "I've lost four good people, and have probably got one more on the sick indefinitely with work related stress and needing therapy for years to come, and you didn't actually *need* this?"
He threw the tube of pile cream down on the Captain's desk
"I... No." Jay managed lamely "I thought you understood; I wanted you to go and engage the insurgents that were in Boots and save Katrina - they were going to kidnap her"
As if on cue, the comms screens around the ship crackled back to life showing Cassandra's battered visage
"Bloody hell" Jay breathed, shocked at her appearance for a few seconds before he recovered himself sufficiently to demand "What the hell have you done to my ship!?"
"Forced to. Here's a message for you Captain" Cass swung the camera around to show a pale and dishevelled looking Katrina, glancing panickily down at the gun barrel being pushed into her cheek
Le Souteneur, the man holding the gun leered evilly behind her, a grin playing across his lips
"Allo Capitan" he beamed "Ah've got your girlfriend"
"Katrina!" Jay near shouted "Are you ok? What have they done to you?"
"Mm..." Katrina whimpered in response as Le Souteneur pushed the pistol harder into her face
"Maintenant, listen up pretty boy, Ah don' wan' much jus' yo' sheep!"
"Non, you ignorant peeg!" Le Souteneur shouted "Yo' sheep!"
"My...? My Ship!?"
"I..." Jay was at a loss for words; this sort of thing wasn't going to look good on his record
"Let me make zis easier for you" Le Souteneur purred "Surrender yo' sheep Capitan or you get to try makin' ze love to an 'ologram"
Katrina's eyes widened with horror
"If you harm a hair on her head..." Jay hissed, clenching his fists impotently
"Non!" Le Souteneur shouted "Vous n'êtes pas dans n'importe quelle position de faire des demandes!"
"What!?" Jay turned, questioningly to Harris
"You are not in any position to make demands" Cass interjected smoothly from the other side of the camera
"Oui. Maintenant Capitan, surrender 'yo sheep to me an' Ah guarantee you, an' all oo wish to depart before we begin our fun, safe passage down to Little Cheftonia. On ze ozer 'and, if you wanna be an 'ero, your girlfriend becomes an 'ologram, yes?" he pushed the gun barrel menacingly up against Katrina's cheek
"You 'ave backed your personality up recently 'avent you?" he asked Katrina "Would be such a shame if you lost so many of zose 'appy memories wit' ze Capitan, no?"
Jay - What do you want to do?
Evacuation ship twelve screamed through Little Cheftonia's upper atmosphere, a plasmatic corona playing around its battered fuselage as it plummeted down the gravity well
In minutes it had covered nearly eight hundred kilometres and, trailing fire, had descended to an altitude of around four thousand metres; at which point Molopod security began frantically scrambling intercept drones in the vain hope that one of them might be able to destroy the ship before it hit anything tasty
In another minute the evac ship had smashed though the upper tier of the Commonwealth games stadium, scattering masonry and charred Molopods in its fiery wake before it finally crashed down onto the stadium floor, gouging a wide burned strip out of the impeccably manicured grass as it bounced once, sailing over Justin, Rufus and Rosette's heads to finally smash through the Cleggbot and come to a rest on the far side of the stadium
A Molopod security detail flanked by a swarm of hovering kill-bots teleported in and trained their weapons on the evac ship
"You in the ship! Come out with your hands in the air!"
<tag>Feeling lucky John? Hope that broken arm doesn't get in the way of putting your hands up ;)</tag>