The Ascent

(OOC: internet went down a bit ago. Long post for catch up!)

"Freight elevator can't be the only way up," Ink said. "Need maintenance." He pulled a small thumb drive from a pocket on his chest and stepped over to the central terminal of the factory command post. He sat down, inserted the drive, and flipped the switch. The dusty screen lit up, glowing a pale blue on his white suit.

He saw himself reflected in the dim light and winced. He turned a dial on his hip and the suit's chromatization module flickered on. Pinpricks of black appeared, spread evenly across the suit, and they grew rapidly, covering the white surface. In less than two seconds, his suit was completely black again.

"System primitive," Ink noted with disdain as he dragged a rounded little box with two buttons around to make a little arrow on the screen move around. This was no surprise; mining colonies and factories were rarely the places to invest in their computer systems. He clicked and tapped, and in a few minutes the blueprints to the local complex glowed on the screen. He sighed, downloaded the files to the thumbdrive, retrieved it and slotted it into his tac-link. He held out his arm and the maps were projected into a hologram.

"Elevator," Ink said, indicating the wide shaft through much of the mountain. "Maintenance access." He pointed at a small auxiliary shaft that ran alongside the elevator. Then he indicated their current position. "From here..." he traced a line out of the building. "...through here..." He drew the path through an adjacent building. "...to here." He finished at a door that guarded a narrow tunnel leading to the auxiliary shaft. "If door help quits, break, pick or hack. No other choice."

Jack nodded, sticking the cigar into his chest pocket. "We will need a exfil if things get bad. I don't like that those are our options..." He said with a look to the map.

Jhonen looked at the route Ink had drawn up showing the maintenance shaft and nodded in approval. "That's excellent news. This should speed things up nicely. Instead of hunting down that key we can have Ink and Syn head up the shaft to bring the lift down to us."

"There is one issue I detect," Syn said. "There are a number of security doors that separate the compartments in the maintenance shaft. And there is no way of bypassing those on our end."

"Sounds like a job for Aurora." Anna said.

"Do you think you could handle that Aurora?" Jhonen asked her.

Emerson sat there, rubbing his chin. His short beard rasped in his hand. He looked at it, then to the the weather indicators. The storm was in full swing. And this high in the mountains, they were capable of pushing him a bit. And if this birth defect could not hack as intended, the bot and the masked fella would not be long for the world.

"No need," he finally spoke. When eyes turned to him, he continued. "Top of the elevator should have a small port for cargo lighters. Probably hasn't been used in a long time, but it is there; used to run cargo out here back during settlement."

"Where would it be?" Jack asked, giving him a hard look.

"Dunno," he said with a shrug. Jack dismissed him with a shake of his head. "Hey, I said near the top. Probably twenty metres from that shaft," Emerson said. "I rarely left my ship in those days; this place used to be rougher than that storm."

"Most likely sealed off once the elevator was finished," Joanna said. Jack grunted while Holiday shrugged again.

"Either way, I can get into the air. That 'vator decides to not work, no one is getting down... Well, not without a sudden stop," the pilot replied.

"I can look, if those two are willing," Joanna said with a nod to Syn and Ink.

Jack looked to those two before turning back to her. "We need you here, Jo." He turned to the pilot. "We need you ready for exfil."

"Just gotta get to my ship," Emerson replied. "Problem is getting to it. Those birth defects are probably surrounding it."

Jack raised his rifle up to his shoulder to rest. "Leave that to me."

~~

Holiday, Ezra, Hammond, and the Darks slid the shutters open with trained weapons. With quick steps, they entered and closed down the door. The rest of the teams were moving with purpose, they would as well. As they made their way once more to the pad, Jack held up a closed fist just shy of the bay door. Joanna came to a crouch next to him as the others stopped.

Grunts and shuffling came from the bay, Jack slowly peeking out to see. "Destroy it! The unclean will find no haven to run!" Went a voice. Those grunts turned to feverish ones as the sound of the ship being slammed against rang out.

Jack saw there were over a dozen, the failures nearly that number as they threw themselves at the airlocks. He quietly leaned back and spoke quickly with Joanna. She nodded as Emerson checked his weapon. The Darks grabbed grenades, the pins carefully pulled.

"Grenade," Jack said normally, calmly.

He slung his around the corner, Joanna stepping out from cover for an over-shoulder toss. The things turned to the sound of rocks scattering on metal floor. Their screams told the rest they were not rocks; a double explosion shredded a few and knocked back the Uplifted as the group suddenly sprinted. "Go! Double time!" Jack yelled, bringing his rifle up and firing. A Failure snapped its head back as an Uplifted screamed in agony and fury, entrails pooling into the floor from the Dragon's Bane.

Ezra and the rest ran straight to the cleared ramp, Emerson keying the manual entrance. It slowly lowered as the creatures regained their senses. "GRENADE!" came Jack's warning. Emerson gritted his teeth and fired even as the next explosion turned two more into bloody gibblets. The shotgun bucked in his hands, Ezra firing with a soldier's precision one after the other into the nearest Failures.

"Get them! Purge the unclean!"

The ramp descended enough for the group to get on. "Get on! Come on!" Holiday yelled to the Darks.

Jack nodded and fired the last of his rifle into the gut of a Failure, reaching for a magazine to replace it. An Uplifted appeared suddenly and slammed him down with its fists to the back. It raised its foot as Jack gave a grunt. The Uplifted smiled a perfect smile as it stomped downwards.

Joanna had seen what happened and rushed in at a full sprint. She leapt and brought her legs in, scissoring them around its neck before throwing her weight to pull both down with a heavy thud. The thing suddenly had a swinging woman pinning it down, legs cinched tight as the barrel of a pistol jammed into its mouth. "Purge this," replied Joanna, pulling the trigger three times.

Jack had recovered in the few seconds she bought and hauled her up at a dead run. The ramp to the ship was already raising, the two diving over the rim and into the hold. The Failures attempted to copy them, two managing to catch themselves onto the ramp as it tilted further up. The Darks flipped onto their backs, pistols ready and firing. The hail of fire stalled them long enough for the ramp to crush the Failures in half.

"Fucking hell," Emerson breathed.

The sudden thuds against the hull surprised him as he glanced at the group. "Come on!"

~~

Ezra listened to the sound of the uplifted as they tried in vain to get into Emerson's ship. It was locked down tight. Not only that, but Ezra was currently sitting in one of the gunner seats manning an anti-material cannon normally used to ward off incoming asteroids. It did pretty well against the pesky uplifted and their failures.

Hammond was having far more fun on his gun though, whooping and cheering as he took out one uplifted after another.

"Don't get cocky, boss!" Ezra said, though she admitted to feeling a little fun at being able to go trigger happy on a bunch of mutant freaks.

Emerson meanwhile focused on preflight, the thuds almost the same pattern of rain. He gritted his teeth as the systems cycled. Time was of the essence, and these gorram systems still were not fully replaced!

The PDCs tore through freaks in a crimson spray of violence, the interior of the hanger pockmarked with the caliber and girders blasted clear off. The Failures did not seem all that smart, but the Uplifted were. His scopes showed them trying to set up something at the far end. He reached forward, the forward sensor. Ezra was sure to see it in the forward PDC.

"Come on baby, come on, " he muttered, glancing once more to dock control. The girl, Joanna, was sitting behind him with a datalink. She said she was trying to override the doors, to which Holiday severely hoped she could do so.

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