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This is the way world ends (Chapter art)

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Chapter 14 - This is the Way the World Ends - Wolf Skinners (3024)[]

Wolf Skinners bivouac around WSDS Mondez's impact site
1000 Local Time
25th July, 3024

Major Skinner looked over his assembled engineers and senior technicians. Their mood was subdued, to say the least. Skinner was feeling no better himself, but put on a brave face.

"All right team, what have you got for me?" he asked as cheerfully as he could.

Looking left and right, Sergeant Andy Ludak spoke up: "Well sir, the tents aren't exactly doing much aside from keeping the sun off us, so we need to either build or dig more substantial shelter. With the 'mechs and my exoskeleton, we could probably get something resembling durable shelter dug in a week or two. That will mean water consumption at the current rate for the duration, but with what the impact has brought to the surface and what we can reclaim from waste processing, we should be all right. The Renegades' irrigation data will help mitigate the need for the first crops, so it'll be doable if close."

There were general nods all around, and Skinner couldn't disagree. "I assume you've identified the best place to dig, then?" he asked.

"Yes, Sir," Warrant Laura Bowman, his former Chief Engineer, said. "We figure digging North to South will minimize our exposure to the sun, and thus our cooling requirements. She pointed to the rough drawing of the site drawn in the sand and continued, "The basic survey we've conducted points to this site here, on the south side of the crater. We think it will be the easiest to access and dig, given the slope."

"All right, I see no reason to say no. Get to it ladies and gentlemen. I expect daily progress reports," Skinner said as decisively as he could muster.

Wolf Skinners bivouac around WSDS Mondez's impact site
1400 Local Time

Major Skinner took a seat in one of the escape pod's launch couches and nodded. Lieutenant Stevenson, the junior among the four in the pod, moved to close the hatch. Once it sealed Skinner said, "You three are the only ones I'm entrusting this to without my express permission, understood?"

Captain Harris, the still recently promoted 'Mech Company Commander, and Lieutenant Summers, Skinner's former Navigator and Executive Officer aboard the Mondez exchanged uncertain glances and nodded. Stevenson, the Recon Lance Commander, said "Yes sir!" as he took his own seat.

Skinner took a deep breath and said, "OK, the reason my brother and I decided to come to Astrokaszy was that one of our ancestors commanded an SLDF Outlying Landing Field here. That was our planned landing site. We're over 50 kilometers from there. The techs think they can excavate sufficient living spaces here next to the impact. We can NOT afford to let them think otherwise. But I believe the OLF may have better accommodations, and thus think it's worth looking for. Harris, you, and Summers are in charge of the watch rotation and mapping the surrounding terrain. Stevenson, you're the one who will be personally looking for the OLF. Over the next couple of weeks, I need the scouting to overlap our planned landing site. Do NOT make it obvious this is what you're doing. I don't know what we'll find there, and it may not be better than what we're building here, but the last thing we can afford is a fraction of our strength heading that way without a plan or idea of what's actually there. Clear?"

The next hour or so was filled with questions and reassurances in both directions. Skinner only hoped these three could be trusted with the secret. Their survival not only as a unit, but as individuals, counted on it.

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