Tasca held no illusions regarding the Scav’s intent:  Ordered by the Kingdom to hunt and kill them their fight would be to the death.  Though both had clashed with various Scavengers during earlier missions, the Sergeant had yet to experience the savagery the Worlar would bring once they attacked.  The Colonel, knowing there was a grain of truth in what Maseru had said, pushed himself up.  “Yes, Sergeant, they planned for just such a contingency.”  He grinned.  “I can always count on you to overestimate the danger.  At best we’ll face one possibly two Scav clans, not the entire population, but enough gloom and doom.   I want you to remove the long black container from my rucksack and lay it on the ground next to me.”



“What’s in the container, Colonel?’


Knowing what was in the box made Tasca apprehensive.  He didn’t want to place too much hope on what this untested machine could do to push the mission forward.  “Just something Command gave us to help even the odds, Sergeant…the latest version of the field combat thopter, or FCT.”


Maseru cracked a smile.  “So you’re saying this device will help even the odds in our favor?”


“Yes and then some, Sergeant.”  Tasca didn’t want to give Maseru any false hopes regarding the thopter, but if it functioned as intended it could literally save their lives.


“I like the sound of that, Colonel.”  I hope you’re right, sir.  We’re going to need this thing to do more than just even the odds if we want to get out of this alive.


“I thought you would, Sergeant.  Set it down and watch and learn.”


“If you don’t mind me asking why didn’t you tell me about this earlier or was it a need to know?”


“No, Sergeant, more of a need to use situation.  Until now our scanners provided the information, but with the gorge we’ll need to see above it as well as what’s ahead when the gorge breaks to the left.”


“Damn, sir, Command actually got something right.  Best get a move on, sir.  We don’t have all day.”


Tasca shook his head, a wry smile locked into the corners of his mouth.  “Will do, Sergeant.  Keep your eyes on the scanner while I assemble our little friend.”


Tasca held no illusions the Scavs hadn’t locked their position that they would attack in force once they felt they had the advantage giving no quarter and asking for none in return.  With the container at his feet, he knelt down on one knee and carefully took the thopter from the container and put it on the ground in front of him.  “Sergeant, stay focused on the scanners while I assemble the thopter.  Once I’m done I’ll explain how it works.”


“Yes, sir,” Maseru said his voice still showing frustration.  His attention focused on the screen, he made a slow 360 degree sweep.  “It’s a negative, Colonel.  I don’t see a damned thing on either screen.  It just doesn’t make any sense.”


Tasca was concerned.  In his four earlier missions into Worlar Scavenger territory his teams always found Scavengers a couple kilometers outside their territory.  He understood his Sergeant’s frustration as he felt the same.  “I’ve got the itch, Sergeant, but as I’ve said, it’s only a matter of time before we see them.  Once the thopter is airborne we’ll know where they are, giving us the tactical advantage.”


“I hope you’re right about the thopter, sir.”   Maseru wanted Tasca’s assessment to be on target, but until they were able to see the Scavs, he wouldn’t allow himself the luxury of placing any hope in the machine.


“Trust me, it will, Sergeant.”


As Tasca’s words faded into the heat-distorted air Maseru continued to watch the scanners.  Where the hell are you hiding?  Show yourselves Dammit.  I hate this cat-and–mouse shit.


With the final adjustment, Tasca removed two small black cubes from the underside of the thopter.  “We’re good to go, Sergeant,” he said, handing the cubes to Maseru.  “Remove the green caps from underneath each scanners thermal links and insert the cubes.”


“Yes, sir.”  Maseru took the cubes and removed the green caps before inserting the cubes.  “Done, sir.  The damned thing looks like a cross between a grasshopper and a bat.”


“Yeah, it does.  It’ll never win a beauty contest.  Tech designed it to monitor all movement within a sixteen k bubble.  “I’ve entered the omega search pattern.  It will fly at a height of six-hundred meters with continuous feeds to our scanners.  As long as the sun charges its power cells, it can stay airborne indefinitely.  At least that’s what the techs said.”


© 2017, Raymond Tobaygo. All rights reserved.
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