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Dead Man's Hand - Family Values (Chapter Cover Art) 1

Chapter 22[]

Dead Man's Hand: Family Values[]

Lazy S Ranch
Ia Drang, Kowloon
Bucklands Province
Lyran Alliance
5th April, 3058

It was just gone 3am, local time, when the LOKI team approached the perimeter. Their advanced sneak suits allowed them to bypass the active sensors, while their lifetime of training got them past the passive. The few guards on duty were huddled in the small outbuilding that served as a guardhouse, playing cards, their indifference accidentally saving their lives.

The LOKI team had very strict instructions to minimize collateral damage where possible, but full authority to kill anyone who got in their way.

Thermal imaging of the main house showed a number of distinct individuals, all located in what the blueprints had identified as bedrooms. One particular heat source was noticeably smaller than the others, indicating that it was their target. They neither knew nor cared why they had been ordered to snatch the child in the middle of the night, only that a high-speed shuttle was waiting to take it to an LIC JumpShip that would jump in to a predetermined pirate point at a set time for pick-up, and then transport the child out-system.

Beyond that... it was not their concern. They had a mission to perform in the name of House Steiner, and nothing was going to stop them.

An outside stairway provided access to the roof, and they carefully and silently made their way across the terracotta tiles until they reached a spot over the balcony adjacent to the targets room. A final quick check of the thermal scope indicated that nobody inside had moved beyond what was normal for someone in a deep sleep, so they lowers themselves onto the balcony.

The simple lock on the door provided only the bare minimum of a delay, and the four silently made their way into the nursery. The team leader crept towards the crib, holding a can of specially formulated stun-gas that would keep the child from making any noise, but not hurt it. After all, their briefing had been very clear that the child was to be taken alive and unharmed. Theirs was not to reason why, theirs was but to do, and if needed, die.

Stun-gas at the ready, the commander slowly pulled the blanket out of the way... only to find a hot water bottle where the child should have been.

"I've been expecting you." a voice from the deep shadows in one corner of the room suddenly announced, and a light flicked on to reveal a young woman in a nurses uniform, with an stern expression on her face. One arm was held across her chest, the other hand holding a steaming cup of tea, and yet neither the woman nor the cup had shown up on the thermal scope...

Peterson, the communications expert, was closest, and made a grab for her, only to get a face full of scalding hot tea. He was wearing a face mask, but it was designed for maximum stealth in a dry environment, so offered only minimal protection. It certainly distracted him long enough for Trinh to bring to cup back around, braking it against the side of his head. Hakeswell, the sniper-scout, was next, drawing a combat knife, and advancing on the nurse... who suddenly dropped down out of the commandos line of sight. Using the sharp remains of the cup, she slashed at the taller woman's legs, cutting her femoral arteries. Then, rising up, she grabbed the knife from the surprised commando and flung it at Burebaker, the team leader. The laser sharpened blade sliced through the slash resistant materials of his sneak suit and neatly bisected his heart, dropping him like a stone.

The final member of the team, Graves, the heavy weapons specialist, drew a needle pistol, but Trinh grabbed the still struggling Peterson and used him as a human shield. Graves didn't hesitate to fire, shredding his team mates back, even as Trinh rushed forward. Had his lungs not already been ripped apart, the force of the impact would have drive the wind out of Peterson, but instead he hit Graves like the dead weight he was, giving Trinh a momentary advantage.

But Graves was highly trained in hand-to-hand combat, and had a considerable size and weight advantage, forcing the nurse to get in as close as possible to try and negate his advantages, while also limiting her advantage in speed and agility. The fight was fast and brutal, with both combatants looking for any opening to take their opponent down hard and fast. Eventually, Trinh's superior training won out, and she delivered a lightning jab that crushed Graves' larynx, then grabbing his discarded pistol from the floor, held it against the underside of his chin and pulled the trigger.

Looking round, Trinh saw that Hakeswell was still moving, struggling to apply crude tourniquets to her legs. Switching back into her medical persona, she helped the struggling woman, stopping the bleeding before the blood loss became life threatening. She then dragged her to her feet.

"I am letting you live, but only so you can deliver a message to those you serve." She warned, her voice cold and hard, "This child is under the protection of the Spacer's Guild. Make no further actions against her, or face the consequences."

With that, she shoved the shocked commando backwards, hard enough to send her out through the doors, a room's the balcony and over the low wall. It was only a single story drop, and even in her injured state, one someone with her training had a better than average chance of surviving. Trinh then looked around at the three dead bodies, and considerable amount of blood, that filled the room, and started clearing.

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