Mission 24


Arthur Crimson gripped the slick body of the Seeker, trying to pick it up. Finding a good grip with both hands, he started to haul the wreckage backwards. He took a couple of steps backwards, dragging his prize with him, when one of the tentacles suddenly convulsed and he dropped it, jumping backwards and shouting, “What the hell?”

“Relax, rookie,” called out Captain Mendiola, “It’s not alive. Well, it never was. But it’s dead now. Keep it moving.”

Crimson glanced over at Mendiola and saw the MEC pilot with a Cyberdisc slung over his shoulder, one massive mechanical hand gripping what served as its tail. He continued to lumber towards the Skyranger, and Crimson looked back down at the Seeker. He knew that it was a robot, but it still looked too organic for him to be comfortable handling it. He had always hated squids at the aquarium.

He picked the body of the Seeker back up and continued to drag it backwards, trying not to focusing on the twitching tentacles. Mendiola had already dropped the Cyberdisc and moved on, but he could hear 2 members of the squad talking intently to each other. As he slowly dragged the Seeker back, the voices of Burning Man and OBT drifted towards him.

“I’m just saying, if we’re told to collect Meld, we can just…. Take our time, or something. It’s unstable anyway, stuff’s probably radioactive. Which is another reason to avoid it.”

“You sound like a crazy person,” replied OBT, “’The government is poisoning us with chemtrails! The Illuminati have a New World Order! They’ve got aliens at Area 51!’”

Crimson had reached the Skyranger, and dropped the Seeker wreck next to the pile of aliens they had killed on the mission. He looked up at OBT and Burning Man and said, “OBT, you do realize-“

“Oh, get off it. You know what I mean.”

Burning Man made a noise of exasperation and turned to Crimson, saying, “You’ve gotta realize how dangerous this Meld business is. Do you want alien genes floating around in your DNA?”

Uncomfortable with being put on the spot, Crimson scratched the back of his head and said, “Well… I’m sure it’s safe. They wouldn’t do anything with it if it wasn’t.”

“Safe?” exclaimed Burning Man. “Safe? They a full squad out on a mission, and only half of us come back, and then they throw even more new people in to replace them and throw us out on this mission. Do you think the command is stressed about safety?”

Having no answer, Crimson dropped his arm, but OBT kept the argument going. “You’re overreacting, man. People die, that’s what happens in combat. You’re making too much of it.”

“No, I’m not! They’re chopping people’s arms off and stuffing them into giant machines, they’re throwing aliens genes into people, they send squads off to die without a second thought. I am not overreacting. This Meld is bad business.”

“What are you going to do? Refuse to collect it?” asked OBT mockingly.

“If I have to!” declared Burning Man, “I just won’t collect it. Let it deteriorate, I don’t care. I have no intention of being turned into some sort of freak, even if it for the ‘Good of humanity’ or whatever.”

“That’s probably not a good idea,” said Crimson.

“Yea, Major Ravenshaw will throw you against a wall and shot,” said OBT.

“They’re not going to do that. That’s crazy.”

“Says the man who thinks the Meld is dangerous,” muttered OBT.

“It is! Haven’t you seen Lancaster and Coach? And how their skin-“

From further off, all 3 soldiers heard the harsh bark of Talana. “Oi! Squaddies! What the hell are you doing over there? We still have salvage to collect, get over here.”

The 3 soldiers exchanged guilty looks, and Crimson called back, “Roger that ma’am! We’re moving.”


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