6 | INTO THE BREACH
Rec Room, Mendel Station | 0420 HOURS ZULU
Daniels hit the entry with authority, his R-92 with an under slung AP200 sweeping over the right flank and corner of the open room. Wells surged in next, covering Daniels as he swept the next corner with his Razor. The rest of the squad shot into the room and took up their sections to secure the room as Gordon stepped into the room, pleased that no shots had been fired.
The flickering lights in the room were a recreation room with rows of exercise equipment and even an old fashion boxing ring for sparring. It was a top of the line rec room with all of the equipment looking brand new and barely even touched. Gordon scrunched his lips at the empty room of untouched equipment. He looked to Daniels and Wells to his right, “Secure the door.” he ordered.
The two marines nodded and made their way to the door as 2nd squad file into the room with less gusto while 3rd squad simply walked in. Captain Herrera was the last out of the transport. He took one look around the room and then looked to his PMA for a moment before looking back up and looking at Gordon, “Room is secure. Gordon, take your men on point and lets secure the CNC.” he ordered and then looked to Gunnery Sergeant of 3rd squad, “Yars, secure the transport hatch and pull rear guard.”
Gordon nodded, “Roger that Cap.” he said and quickly went on the move, “Daniels, Wells on point. Everyone else on standard point and sweep. Let’s go find us a CNC.” he ordered as his marines hustled to the door leading in the station’s main corridor.
Daniels nodded to Wells and toggled the door on the console to open. They then moved swiftly into the hallway followed by the rest of the squad and Gordon pulling up the rear. The white hallway was twenty feet wide and roughly 11 and a half feet tall with an arched ceiling. Parallel lines of soft white lights ran along the ceiling to provide illumination, though they were currently flickering off and on. The white walls were somewhat reflective with their high gloss finish along with the tiled floor.
The station was a standard Jotan model station of a center column with multiple spheres attached along the column. It was an ideal set up for a science station as the sphere could be detached from the main station in the event that an experiment threatened the rest of the station. The rec room emergency hatch was chosen as it was the nearest entry to the command and control bridge without directly attaching to the bridge.
The marines systematically made their way down the hall slowly, checking each door as they went in teams of two. The first marine would breach the entry and immediately cover the section to his right and the right corner while the second marine in would cover the forward section and corner to the left. As each room was checked, Gordon monitored their progress through his HUD, checking their location to the deck plans of the station and his squad’s vital signs which were all well within normal. His men were the very best at what they did and they had, so far, brought their best foot forward on this mission.
As each room was searched, the two man groups reported back that they were clear and then they leap frogged to the next room until they reached the end of the hallway. All of the rooms were clear with no persons found. With the deck secure, Gordon patched his comm over to Captain Herrera, “We are all clear here sir. Nobody home.”
“Roger that Sergeant. Proceed up to deck two.” Herrera said.
“Yes sir.” Gordon answered and then clicked his mic over to his squad. “All right Daniels. Deck is secure. Take point up to deck two.”
“Copy that Sarge.” Daniels replied. He looked over his should to Wells who was just behind him, “Stay frosty Sam.”
“Hey, do you think we’ll find some ice cream in here somewhere? I missed out on chow last night.” he answered as he brought his Razor about to cover the door to the stairwell.
Daniels rolled his eyes, “What is it with you and food?” he said quietly, then opened the door to the stairwell, and did a sweep of the stairwell leading up with his R-92 carbine at the ready.
Wells entered the room a split second after Daniels, checked the stairs leading down, and found it clear. “I get hungry when I’m working.” he muttered and then nodded the clear signal to Daniels then proceeded up the stairs with his carbine up and steady.
“Cut the chatter and check your corners.” Gordon barked into his mic from the back. The rest of the squad filed into the stairwell behind the marines on point and slowly made their way up stairs to deck two.
From his HUD, Gordon could see that second and third squads were doing a more detailed sweep of the rooms until the captain’s watchful eye. Clearly, the captain was suspicious about what was going on at the station due to the lack of information given about the operation. He certainly approved of the measure.
As Daniels and Wells reached the door of deck two, Gordon clicks on his mic to the captain, “Starting our sweep of deck two.” he stated.
“Roger that.” Herrera said.
Gordon then motioned from the back of the squad for his marines to breach the deck and begin their sweep. Like clockwork, the marines filed into deck and began clearing the rooms one by one under the strobe effect of the flickering lights. After a few minutes, the marines reported that the deck was clear and there were no signs of life. Deck 2 was the same as the first in appearance, though instead of a rec room at the end of the hall there was a mess hall with trays of half eaten food still on the tables.
“McAdams and Yamoto,” Gordon said into his mic, “Check the kitchen.
“Copy that.” the two said and nodded to one another as they moved into the kitchen area. They checked the back preparation rooms and food storage rooms. A few moments later McAdams’ voice came over the channel, “All clear Sarge. No signs of struggle. It’s like everyone just got up and left dinner in a hurry.”
Barrington wrinkled her nose as she leaned over to inspect a half eaten and moldy meatloaf, “Meatloaf. Who would blame them? I’d run away screaming.” she said.
“Hey Rikichi, is there any ice cream back there?” Wells asked hopefully.
“Really?” Daniels said in disgust.
“Um, I don’t know if I would call it ice cream anymore. Looks like the freezer unit lost power” Rikichi answered over the mic.
“Damn.” Wells said with a frown.
Gordon gave a grunt of amusement and then switched his mic back over to the captain, “Deck two secure. It’s a ghost town here sir.”
“Copy that Sergeant. Prep for breach of the CNC. We will join you in the stairwell.”
“Yes sir.” Gordon said and then switched back over to his squad. “All right people, regroup back at the stairwell. It’s time to check out the CNC so we can figure out what the hell is going on.”
The Hellcats reformed back into the standard staggered line of twos and made their way back to the stairwell and up the stairs to the top deck of the station were the command and Control Bridge was waiting for them. The entry hatch was closed and the control panel was flickering on and along with the lights.
Daniels checked the control panel and frowned as the door didn’t open after hitting the open button. He tried a second time with the same result. He then clicked on his mic. “Sarge, control panel is on the switch. We’re gonna need a bypass.”
“Yamoto.” Gordon said into the squad channel.
“‘I’m on it.” Yamoto sounded off, broke out from the line, and shouldered his R-92 as he made his way up to the door. As the technology specialist of the group, Yamoto was the go to marine for any technical problems they ran into. His PMA was specialized with hacking software for taking over computers when the op called for it.
Upon reaching the console, he first tried to make a wireless connection to the console, but his PMA registered an error. He then pulled out a wired connector and plugged it into the socket at the bottom corner of the console, but it also registered an error. “Console’s fragged,” He finally reported with a hint of frustration, “I’m going to have to open it up.”
“All right people, stay sharp,” Gordon said through his mic, “There could be Royal Guard manning the bridge. Check your corners, stick to your sections and keep your firing lanes clear.”
Daniels and Wells gave an affirmative nod and moved into flanking positions at the door while Yamoto physically opened the control panel to expose the wires behind it. With a set of junction clamps, he bypassed the open button to the opening mechanism. The doors gave a hiss and then opened, but only a quarter of the way.
“Shit,” Yamoto cursed, “Daniels, give me a hand with this.”
Daniels slung his carbine over his shoulder and took the left door while Yamoto took the right. Wells stayed in position with his Razor to cover the doorway while McAdams moved up to provide support. The team had worked together for years, which allowed them to fluidly switch partners when the need arose.
Daniels and Yamoto heaved and forced open the doors to reveal the bridge of Mendel station. The bridge nearly the entire top deck and was laid out in series of half circles around the central command console at the center of the room. Workstations were positioned roughly ten feet apart with touch panel consoles there were flickering with the lights. Along the walls were display panels covering different sections of the station such as gravity, the fusion reactor, deflector shields, and a variety of other subsystems that helped run the space station.
McAdams stepped into the bridge first, taking the right flank. Wells stepped in just behind her and took the left flank. They were followed by Daniels and Yamoto with their carbines back at the ready, and then the remainder of the squad. Since the bridge was a single large open space, it took only a few moments to see that nobody was operating the bridge.
“What the hell?” Wells said as he checked around the back workstations to make sure no one was hiding underneath them, “There ain’t anybody here.”
“There should have been at least someone on the bridge.” McAdams said.
“Yamoto,” Gordon cut in, “Patch into the main computer and see what you can find out what the hell went down here. Barrington, see if you can do anything about fixing the damn lights. Wells and Daniels, secure the secondary stairwell. Rustovich, get on the scanners and see if you can find anyone on this tin can.”
Each marine responded an affirmative and went to their assignments. Gordon then patched his mic over to the captain and the other squad leaders that were securing the primary stairwell, “Cap, the bridge is secure and empty. If there was a party here, I think we missed it.”
“Copy that Gordon. We are moving in.” Herrera said.
Gordon shouldered his R-92 and made his way over to the central command console were Yamoto was already busy accessing the main computer. He looked over to Karzarian who had been shadowing him the entire time. “Something is right about all of this.”
Karzarian gave a nod, “Yeah, it’s like something right out of a horror holo.”
“Read my mind.” Gordon replied and then looked over to Yamoto, “Rikichi, sit-rep.”
Rikichi didn’t bother to look up from his console, “Main computer is a bit feisty Sarge. It would seem that there are power fluctuations from the fusion reactor that are causing the main computer to seize up. Right now, it’s basically in constant powering off and on cycle. It’s going to take a little time to get this thing working.” He said and then finally looking up and over to Barrington who was working at one of the workstations to his right, “Amanda, how does the reactor look on your screen?”
“There seems to be some structural damage at the third, fifth and seventh power couplings. I’m trying to set up a bypass through the second and sixth couplings. Stand by.” she answered as her fingers flew over the console.
Gordon simply nodded and let his marines work rather than bother them further. He moved off the central command console and over Rustovich who was as a workstation to the left. “Rustovich, how are those scanners coming?”
He shook his head, “No good Sarge. The scanners are tied to the main computer. It can’t even tell me what system we’re in right now, let alone who is on board.”
“Work with Barrington to see if you can get the power restored.” Gordon said.
“Copy that.” Rustovich said and move over to a secondary console near Barrington.
A disturbance at the stairwell drew Gordon’s attention away from the work to see second and third squads sweep into the bridge followed by Herrera at the rear. The marines fanned out across the bridge and broke off into groups to empty workstations by the commands of their squad leaders.
“Sit rep Gordon.” Herrera asked as he walked over to the central command console. Yars and Goddard also moved over to join the conversation.
“We have power fluctuations in the fusion reactor which is causing the main computer to be nonresponsive. We should know something soon.”
“We may need to do this the old fashion way.” Herrera said
“Deck by deck? That could take awhile with only three squads.” Yars pointed out.
“Two really, one would need to keep the bridge secure.” Gordon said.
“I don’t think we really have that kind of time.” Goddard replied.
“True, but we have a mission to finish and there is no sense in waiting for something that might not happen. Thoughts on were the scientists might be?” Herrera asked.
“Are they even on the station?” Goddard asked.
“Austin could do an external sweep with her sensors at the docking bays.” Gordon said.
Herrera nodded and then switched his mic over to the TCD Austin channel, “TCD Austin, do you copy?”
“Copy Hellcats.” Captain McAdams voice sounded over the channel.
“Tom, can you do a sensor sweep of the docking bays for any signs of departure?” Herrera asked.
“One second Captain.” Thomas replied. A few moments of silence passed before his voice came back over the channel, “Negative, I’m reading that the station still has her full complement of shuttles.”
“Are you able to get a life sign reading?” Herrera asked.
Another pause followed, “There seems to be a lot of interference from the reactor. My best guess is roughly two hundred and fifty to three hundred, but I’m getting a lot of sensor echoes.” McAdams finally replied. “Sorry Captain, that is the best I can do from out here. The system is quiet and I am not reading any aether or ion trails to or from the station within the last twenty four hours.”
“Copy that. Keep an eye out and let us know if the situation changes.” Herrera said.
“Good hunting Hellcats.” McAdams replied and cut the channel.
Herrera looked to his squad leaders, “All right men, we are going to have to do this the old fashion way, deck by deck. Goddard, I want you to take your squad and sweep decks four through ten. Gordon, you get eleven through twenty. Yars, your squad will stay here at command with me and try to get the reactor working from here.” Gordon and Goddard both nodded and moved off to their squads.
“So far I’m not thrilled with the way this op is turning out.” Karzarian said quietly to Gordon as they moved away from Herrera.
“Comes with the territory of spec ops Mike.” Gordon replied.
“I know that Tony, but I got a bad feeling about this.” Karzarian said.
“Just keep a lid on it for now hm? We got a job to do.” Gordon said firmly.
Karzarian nodded slowly, “Copy that.”
Gordon clicked on his mic to the squad channel. “Squad, form up at the secondary stairwell.” he ordered. The marines moved without issue to the stairwell and formed up in their standard formation of twos.
“All right marines, third squad is going to work and to try and get the power back online. In the meantime, it’s our job to clear decks eleven through twenty. You know the drill, two by two on each deck and each room. Let’s be clean and quick about it. Our scientists are still missing and somewhere on this station. Let’s find them and bring them home.” Gordon said as he looked over of his men. “Daniels and Wells, you got point.”
The two marines nodded and made their way into the secondary stairwell and descended into the depths of Mendel station to find the missing scientists.