They had been able to fit ten people in to the Lois Lane. Besides the five Strontium Dogs there was also Tim, who had insisted on the basis that the ship was his. Clearly he was on the trail of a good story, even if this seemed somewhat dangerous.
They had also decided to take three of the base personnel. These were the two MacGhee brothers, Lucky and Muscles: Clarissa had no idea what their real names were. Muscles was a real giant of a man, and the base mechanic. Lucky was a pilot, and with ’Enery’s flying skills that gave them a bit of backup in case something went wrong. The third was Damien Prince-the base mining engineer and demolitions expert. Inevitably his nickname was ‘Demon’.
The final addition to the team was an odd one. In the holding cell of ZZA-10 was a man called Alex Niven. Alex was being detained pending pickup by the not very efficient GCC system authorities-he had been there for at least three weeks. Apparently Alex was a notorious jewel thief, who had been recognised and detained on an incoming transport vessel. The company police on Titania didn’t want him downside, and neither did the ship’s captain. An unlikely sequence of administrative blunders and buck passing characteristic of the SCA had somehow resulted in him ending up on ZZA-10, pending collection by the next GCA marshal who could be bothered making the tiresome trip to the Uranus orbit. Alex had volunteered to assist with the mission, in the hope that this might be taken into consideration with regard to his sentence. Touched by this, Moe had insisted that Alex was an essential component of the team, and with hesitation the others had agreed that his unique skills might prove useful.
They had not bothered trying to request access to the underground hanger, and instead Lucky put straight down outside near to the eastern airlock. Suited up, and with all of the regular base access codes, getting in would not be a problem.
Alex gestured for the others to wait as they approached the door, and placed a small device atop the access panel, before removing the face plate and connecting a jack from his handcomp. After a moment he nodded and inputted the access codes; Anwyn saw that he had disabled the sensors which would register internally the status of the airlock. The group piled inside, and after repressurising Alex repeated the sequence on the inner door.
The cyborg looked very surprised as ’Enery caught him mid chest with both blasters. Innards sparking he careened across the room, against a pool table: they had entered some sort of recreation room.
As they had approached they saw the typical modular appearance of the upper base: four domes arranged in a square connected by corridors, and all connected to a dome in the centre: additional domes had been added on the west and east sides at some point, presumably as the base expanded. The courtyard areas formed between corridors and domes had also been pressurised and converted into growing habitats for food and atmosphere recycling-presumably at some times the base supported a greater number of staff. Demon explained that the mining was done on a much larger sub level.
The cyborg was certainly more machine than man: well armed with an ACR and RAM grenades, and wearing hardened armour. Deciding that speed was of the essence they opened the western door and moved on. Ahead lay a corridor crossroads leading to a door to the central dome straight ahead, and to smaller domes to left and right. Chick moved cautiously up the corridor, followed by Anwyn, Moe and ’Enery. The Strontium Dogs discarded their vacc suits, pulling on their armour pads over the mesh bodysuits they were wearing beneath. They would just have to run the risk of the base being depressurised. The others looked on curiously, all experienced in space operations, and happy to continue wearing their suits.
As they approached the crossroads the door ahead cycled open, and two more cyborgs popped out, spraying Chick and Moe with automatic weapons fire. Anwyn ran up close to the junction and took deliberate aim with her new Westinghouse Phased Precision Blaster, while ‘Enery made his way up to the fore. Chick dived into the cover of the north -south corridor, only to see a pair of hovering Toyota B 4001 ’Chums that are Fun’ Handibots, probably modified for utility duties around the base. Unfortunately they also appeared to have been modified with laser pistols, and these both blasted at him, wounding him further.
Moe and Clarissa exchanged fire ineffectually with the two cyborgs, but Anwyn’s patience paid off, with the rangefinder on her phased blaster shooting through the cover, throwing the southernmost shooter backwards, dead or unconscious. Muscles and Clarissa ran into the northern corridor, Muscles ripping the head off one with his bare hands, while Clarissa’s multibeam turned the other into scrap.
Thinking he was safe Chick breathed a sigh of relief, only to be fired upon again by another Handibot which had appeared from the south. The fire of Lucky and the others was now coming to bear however, and soon the Handibot was little more than scrap. Badly wounded, Chick took refuge at the crossroads, while ’Enery, Anwyn and the others exchanged fire with the cyborg in the main room.
Both his cover and his aim were good however, and matters were not helped when another cyborg appeared in the room. Deciding that their ACR fire was ineffective against ’Enery they both treated him to a RAM grenade. His armor shredded, the Green Giant staggered back.
“Blimey!” he said, “Oi’m ’urt agin!” He started to beat a slow retreat towards the crossroads, leaving Muscles, Anwyn and Moe to take the heat.
Against these multiple targets the two well emplaced shooted resorted to full automatic fire, spraying the hallway with bullets. Muscles was wounded, and Moe badly so, though Anwyn managed to escape unscathed. Clarissa started lobbing plasma grenades down into the room, as the group pulled back to the crossroads.
Once again Anwyn aimed with her phased blaster while the others blazed away ineffectually around her; ’Enery followed suit. The two phased beams hit home, and the two finally went down.
“They were tough” said Clarissa.
“Well trained too, I reckon” said ’Enery, leaning down. “Look at this”. He had picked up an old Kreeler badge from one of the cyborgs- they were certainly well trained enough to be ex soldiers. He spat.
The group took twenty minutes while Clarissa applied medipacks and first aid. The delay was unfortunate, but here were many wounds to be seen too.
Anwyn and Alex examined a computer console in the central dome, and having free reign as regards the access codes, started to access the base computer. They had been at it for perhaps ten minutes when Anwyn stepped back with a curse, and the panel started to sputter with blue sparks. There was a faint smell of solder.
“We accessed the robot control systems " said Anwyn. “Managed to shut a few of them down I think, but we were spotted. Whoever was working against us is pretty good. He fritzed the terminal I guess as the quickest way to deal with us.”
Moe meanwhile was examining one of the Handibots. Like the others it had a stupid smiley face on it, but this one had had lips and a blonde curly wig added. It was also wearing a top, a leather miniskirt and had a pair of rubberised legs attached wearing fishnet stockings. The name “Miss Kitty” was stencilled across the top. It’s tool attachments seemed slightly different somehow, and it looked like there were other mods. As he leaned forward he fealt a tap on the shoulder.
“Anwyn’s told you before. You’re not old enough” said Clarissa. “I need to patch you up, then you can guard the corridor.”
“Huh,” Moe muttered Moe sulkily, “Miss Kitty? It must ’ave bean the stations pet mascot. An’ a hungry one at that. Lookit the size o’ it’s mouth!”
After twenty minutes or so they were finished. An exploration of the other domes revealed living accomodation and a communications centre. Anwyn and Alex again tried to access the terminal but once again their opponent shorted it out. Gathering once again in the main corridor form the airlock they descended down into the main mining area.