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This is the way world ends (Chapter art)

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Chapter 4 - This is the Way the World Ends - Wolf Skinners (3024)[]


75 km NNE of WSDS Mondez's intended landing point
Astrokaszy
1206 Local Time
21st July, 3024


The spectrum was awash in signals. Distress beacons in the High Frequency band on the Interstellar Distress Frequency (still 2182 kHz after all these centuries) screamed out alongside various calls on both secure and unencrypted channels in the VHF and UHF bands. And there was a bit more energy on frequencies not assigned to the Wolf Skinners. Sergeant Novak, aboard the Doc's converted Drillson/MASH noted them all on his equipment. The vehicle had come down upright on its lift fans thanks to the chute installed by that maniac tech. Even now, the head phones cancelled the noise of the retraction gear stowing that chute. Further back in the relatively spacious vehicle, the squad of infantry the Doc had decided would be their security detail was checking their weapons, making sure the ride from orbit hadn't jammed anything. The other officers the Doc had brought along chatted quietly among themselves, probably guessing at who else had survived the drop, and how bad the scatter pattern was. Sergeant Novak started putting that information together as quickly as possible, if not "quickly" in an objective sense. At the very least, no friendly units were north of their position. The azimuth spread appeared to be confined between 125 and 270, in fact. But without another unit to triangulate with, bearings were as good as Sergeant Novak could determine.

Drillson Heavy Tank (On Water)

Drillson Heavy Hover Tank

While Novak and the rest of the communications techs were working that problem, the driver, Sergeant Laine, was watching the rear cameras for the progress of the supposedly automatic stowing rig that maniac had installed. It actually seemed to be doing a pretty good job. Except for that boulder the chute had draped itself over. The Sergeant slapped the "STOP" button, and keyed the intercom: "Lieutenant, request you disembark your squad and release the dropchute from the boulder it's caught on."

"Roger." came the response, followed by the rear hatch opening out into the blazing sunlight of high noon on Astrokaszy.


110 km SE of WSDS Mondez's intended landing point
Astrokaszy
1206 Local Time
21st July, 3024

When the escape pod finally ceased rocking from impact, the S6 let out a heavy sigh and said, "We made it!"

The former Liao liaison officer glowered, but nodded in agreement. At the very least, this was still better than a Maskirovka cell on Ghorepani.

Major Skinner's tech was still wide-eyed and clutching the edges of her seat. She still wasn't sure why the Major had put her aboard this escape pod instead of the rumble seat in his Marauder. All he'd said was that he had a "bad feeling", and she couldn't disagree with him at this point.

Unhooking himself from his restraints, the S6 said, "Lieutenant, if you'd be so kind as to keep an ear out on the radio here, the Sergeant and I will gather the drop chute to make our eventual recovery that much faster."

The former Liaison Officer blinked for a moment. Though it had been several weeks since the Wolf Skinners had formally accepted him into their ranks, he still wasn't used to being called anything other than "Force Commander". "Ah, roger, Chief Warrant. Thanks," he replied, eventually.

That settled, the two techs cracked the hatch and ventured out into the heat, closing it behind them. The air in the escape pod was close, but certainly cooler than the 30-something (and rising) Celsius outside. The "Lieutenant" had to console himself with the blank static coming in on the pod's radio, and the company of the three duffle bags stuffed with rations strapped into the three empty seats of the pod.

After just a few minutes of the heat, the Warrant had to unzip his coveralls and tie the arms around his waist. Sweat was pouring off his bulk, and his breath came in heaves. The younger tech looked at her boss with concern, but that only solidified his determination to finish the job of detaching the chute from the escape pod and bundling it up before crawling back into relative shelter. Fortunately, it didn't take too long.


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