A good place to die

A good place to die

SECURITY TRANSMISSION, ARASAKA DEBRIEF UNIT 4, NEW HORIZON. CASE 147801C, TITAN TRAIN WRECK: WITNESS STATEMENT. WITNESS “BOB”, RATING: EXPENDABLE.

Bob Millet, 3rd Arasaka Free Division. I was demobilized from the Indo Zone and taking the 11:31 AM Titan train from Calcutta, just a routine repatriation train. I was demobbing with my corps buddies Alec and Milwall, and we were booked for a berth in economy on deck 4, carriage 11. That’s not very comfortable but I tell you I’ll sit on a bed of nails for 24 hours if it’ll get me out of the Indo Zone a day sooner, I’ve seen enough buddies die to know when a 12 hour journey on a 10 deck monster train is worth my while! I just didn’t expect to see my mates die on the train journey home, just an hour out of New Horizon.

And not like that.

So we were meant to be in the economy passenger class, sitting there getting pissed with each other and bumping elbows and reading magazines and trying to sleep but instead at the last minute Arasaka command told us this was some kind of special military hardware delivery, so we needed to do guard duty in carriage 4, deck 1. That’s a huge cargo wagon, and the decks are kind of a formality, more like balconies around a central open space. In our carriage there were a couple of crates in the open space but most of the cargo was on decks 2 – 8, with more guards on deck 9 and nothing on deck 10. We just had to sit in these spacious dropship-style seats on level 1 with our weapons, and up on deck 9 they could move around a bit, there was a kind of lounge, like a real guard room.

We were 10 hours into the trip when we felt the train come to a halt. Nobody raised any alarm or anything, it was just some kind of routine stop as far as we knew. But then there was this insane crash and a huge chunk of the ceiling landed next to us. It was glowing red hot all round the edges and it was about a metre thick and it came out of nowhere. After it there was this rain of burnt cargo and body parts from the upper levels. Me and my mates, we unbuckled and jumped up out of our seats to see what was going on, but we had to stay under the balconies of higher levels because of this rain of cargo that had been cut in half. The techs tell me someone cut a big hole in the roof of the train with laser cutters, but the lasers cut a big hole in anyone who was in the way on deck 9 and all the cargo in decks 7 and 8. We didn’t hear anything happening, but the techs think some kind of mute mines were used so no one knew what was going on.

Anyway once the cargo stopped falling around us me and my mates ran out into the middle of the hold with our guns out. Everyone on level 9 was completely messed up and still trying to work out what was going on, but there were these three crazy people coming right down the middle from this massive hole in the ceiling. One was carrying a grenade launcher, with a FN-FAL assault rifle strapped to his back; there was another who also had a FN-FAL assault rifle but who was carrying this insane old-fashioned bolt action rifle that had to be electro-thermal modded, or my aunt has balls; and then there was this third dude who was carrying an honest-to-god kalashnikov and had this god-almighty pistol strapped to his belt. They were rappelling down the middle of the hold, and when we came out they had already shot down the only four guys on level 9 who were in any condition to move. We moved to take up positions under cover but the one with the bolt-action rifle was super fast, and he shot Milwall through the head before he could blink. He had his helmet on and everything but that modded rifle blew his whole head off like it was a melon. Nasty. Me and Alec got under cover quickly and started shooting, but then the dude with the grenade launcher let rip. His first grenade landed right on top of us, and it was some kind of incendiary. When the flames cleared me and Alec were on fire like all over. Grenade dude didn’t even give a toss, he’d lobbed a second one down into one of the doors from the side corridors in the train, blocking it off, which was real unfortunate for us because there were some really serious Arasaka crack marines coming through the side corridors on level 1. Those guys have power armour and serious weaponry but they were blocked off by the grenade, which messed up the door into the room.

Me and Alec didn’t care about that though, because we were covered in flaming shit. Alec was down and yelling like a maniac, screaming and crying and rolling around trying to get his fire out, but I managed to keep my cool, so I ripped off the jacket and the pants before they got too serious and ducked down under cover. Somehow my helmet was unaffected so there I was, hiding behind a crate in my underwear with only my helmet for protection, and my gun out of reach in a pool of sticky fire, while my mate from a thousand Indozone missions is rolling around between two crates and I can’t reach him because that dervish with the bolt action rifle is going to air out my brainpan if I so much as twitch from behind that crate.

Fortunately there were another five Arasaka elite in the other corridor, that our friendly grenadier from the sky hadn’t shut up all fiery-like, and in they came like the dutibound salarymen they are. But the kalashnikov guy let rip on them with the whole magazine of his rifle, and they had to go back into cover. One managed to dive for cover inside the room, but the rest headed back. The one diving inside was trying to throw a grenade but that bolt-rifle maniac hit him with a single shot and blew up the grenade right in his face, took off his head and most of his shoulders even through the power armour. Then grenadier guy dropped a fire grenade on them, and then they decided to let rip with their heavy weapons through the wall. Everyone on the other side of that wall, including me, had to watch as our cover got evaporated by their heavy fire, but fortunately I was hidden behind a crate of plantains and no bullet can get through them. Rifle dude and kalashnikov guy weren’t so lucky in their choice of cover so they had to do a runner, but that kalashnikov arsehole, as he was running he got out that pistol and put a single bullet right into my mate Alec, even though Alec was still trying to put out his flaming armour. It went in his spine and came out his chest like a lung fountain, and me and Alec aren’t going to be having any more beers now – and I guess his kids are gonna have to satisfy themselves with Arasaka compo cheques in place of a daddy. That bastard could have let us alone!

Anyway now there were more people rappelling in, and the first three threw in two more grenades that took out a few more of the Arasaka elite. The ones who were left were still burning from grenadier guy’s fire grenade, and they just kind of gave out and died and the whole area was pacified. That was when I really thought my number was up, because the bolt rifle guy was coming over to finish me off – I could see his badge, it said “DRUID” in bright red, you can check the feed from what’s left of my cybereye, and that’s when I thought maybe it was THE Druid, you know, from Tunguska, and she’s got a reputation for shooting wounded men – when all hell broke loose. These guys must have had a hacker, because this train has an automated cargo moving system and suddenly that system was going crazy, all these crates moving around and stuff. Next thing I know I hear someone yell “Target incoming!” at full volume, and this huge crate comes hurtling out of the darkness at the other end of the carriage. The Druid has to go dodge, and the crate smashes into the piece of ceiling that fell down from up there, bounces over it, and hits my plantain crate at high speed. The plantain crate bounces over me but the main cargo comes to rest right above me, kind of hanging off the edge of that metre-thick disc of fallen ceiling. And there I am underneath it, my friend Alec all smeared out just past my boots, and this huge crate teetering on the edge of that disc of metal, right above me. And inside there’s all kinds of noises happening, banging and sounds of movement, I don’t know what’s in the crate but it sounds like there’s some kind of monster truck rally going on in there.

Then I’m just thinking that at some point that crate’s gonna come down, so I’m gonna have to choose to lie here and let it squish my legs, or scramble out just to have the Druid shoot me in the head, when someone yells “EMP!” and I hear the thunk of EMP mines on the crate, and there’s a big silent whoop, and my cybereyes start going apeshit, all blues and greens and crazy lcd kaleidoscopes. The crate goes dead for a moment, and somewhere near me a couple of charging Arasaka elite fall to the ground, and off in the distance I hear the bolt rifle go off again and one of those Arasaka elite does a kind of splattering sound, and then next I hear someone yell “Magnets!” and then the crate goes whooshing off into space, someone yells “Evac!” and I guess everyone must have left then because I’m still alive.

You can watch the feed if you don’t believe me. So there were 10 Arasaka elite and me and my mates down on level 1, and everyone except me died, and I don’t know how many people up on level 9, and these train robbers got away with just one crate that must be real special. I guess it must have had some kind of cybertech in it, because why else would anyone want to use EMP on it before they started lifting it out? And what else would be moving inside? That’s kind of interesting isn’t it? … Wait, what are you doing? It’s just speculation, you don’t have to … hey, man, I won’t tell anyone anything if you don’t …

TRANSMISSION END

 

Advertisements