8 | HERE THERE BE DRAGONS
Deck 12, MENDEL STATION | 0515 HOURS ZULU
“Specimen 52?” Gordon asked. He looked to Karzarian for a moment for help, but Michael only shrugged.
“You…you haven’t found them yet?” Carr asked quickly and then looked over Gordon’s shoulder to the door, “We…we have to leave right away. Blow up the station…yes, that would do it. You have a ship right? I big one?”
“Slow down doc,” Gordon said, “What is specimen 52? What are you doing on this station?”
The doctor took a breath to try and calm down, though it did little to help. “I’ll explain on the way to the cargo hold. There should still be a shuttle there that we can use.”
“We are going to the bridge doc and you can explain what is going on as we go.” Gordon said sternly to end the conversation. He then switched on his mic to the squad channel, “Marines, are you finished with your sweep?”
“Roger that Sarge, nothing else down here.” Daniels answered.
“All clear on section three.” McAdams replied.
“Roger that. Double time to the stairwell to regroup.” Gordon ordered and then motioned to Barrington and Rustovich to move out.
“The stairs?” Carr asked.
“There are power fluctuations across the station. The main lifts are unreliable.” Karzarian answered and motioned to the door, “Let’s get moving doctor Carr is it?”
“Walter Carr.” he answered and shuffle to the door, “Are you the stairs are safe?”
Gordon nodded as he moved up to the door with Karzarian right behind him, “Yes. We’ve been using them for the past hour now with no problem.”
“You said the power was fluctuating?” Walter asked as he looked up and down the stairwell. He saw the other marines forming at the door to the stairs and quickly began to move, hovering close to the wall.
“That’s right. Something’s wrong with the power couplings. They should be online soon.” Gordon said as he moved side by side with the doctor.
“Huh, I would have thought they would have stayed near the stairwell being at the station’s center mass.” Walter muttered to himself, though loud enough to be heard.
“Who is they doctor? Are we dealing with a dangerous creature or something? Are there any Royal Guard here?” Gordon asked, trying to get some kind of concrete answers.
“Guard? Heaven’s no, there are no Guard here. Why would there be Guard here?” Carr said shaking his head, “No, we are a research station for Hydra. We were doing genetic testing and…and I fear something went horribly wrong.”
“No shit.” Karzarian said quietly.
“What happened doc? Where is everyone?” Gordon asked as they reached the stairs were the rest of the squad was waiting.
“We were doing genetic testing with Talishar genes to find capability with human genomes.” Carr said with a scared note to his voice.
“With Dragons? Are you insane?” Wells blurted out.
“It makes actually,” Rustovich piped in. As the squad’s xenobiologist expert, he knew more about alien biology then all the rest of them combined, “Dragon’s are superior in strength, resiliency, and near immunity to heat and fire. Gene splicing humans with Dragons has been talked about for years.”
Gordon frowned at the thought of mixing his genes with an alien species. He rather liked being a pure breed human. Sure, he had some genetic enhancers, but so did all military personnel as well as most citizens this day and age. It made the human race stronger overall, but it was always about fixing and enhancing the original blueprint, never adding odd ends.
“So there are Dragon’s loose on the station? I thought they were all gone since their system was lost in that aether storm?” Barrington asked.
“Well…not all of them.” Carr said, “You see, a few prisoners of war were left behind after the war.”
“That was like two hundred years ago!” Wells exclaimed.
“Cryogenic freezing dumbass. Read a book sometime.” Rustovich replied.
“Listen here short shit, I’m gonna read your face if you keep that up.” Wells snarled.
“Stow that shit marines!” Gordon snapped as he glared at the two. When they showed that they wouldn’t continue, he refocused his attention to the doctor. “Specimen 52, is that a dragon running free on this station?”
Walter nodded slowly, “Yes.”
“How many are there?” Gordon asked.
“Four, two male and two female.” he answered.
The squad collectively groaned. The Talishar were an alien species that the Confederation encountered during their exploration of the universe in the Andromeda sector. The alien race was a space faring war-like race bent on universal domination. They were nicknamed “Dragons” by humans for their reptilian appearance and ability to manipulate fire. A single Dragon was strong enough to fight an entire squad of marines by themselves.
War broke out between the Confederation and the Talishar Empire in 2315 that lasted 23 years and devastated both sides. The war ended when a battle group of destroyers overloaded their tachyon aether drives and ripped a hole in aether space in the Talon system. The Dragons withdrew into deep space on the other side of the Central Core and had not been seen or heard from since.
“Four? How could you be that fucking stupid?” Wells said without being able to contain himself.
“They were still under cryo freeze and had been for two hundred years,” Carr stammered as he felt the weight of the collective stares of the squad, “We didn’t know that they could hibernate even through that state.”
“Fucking great.” Wells threw up his hands in anger.
“Stow it Wells.” Karzarian ordered.
Gordon ignored the comment and instead switched his mic to the platoon’s channel, “Captain Herrera come in. We have a situation.” he said.
“This is Herrera. What do you he Sergeant?” Herrera asked.
“Cap, we have located a survivor, a Doctor Walter Carr. He says that we may have dragons loose on the station. Four of them, two male, two female.”
“Dragons? Here?” Herrera asked with a surprised voice.
“Affirmative Cap. The position of the dragons is unknown. Do you have those scanners online yet?” Gordon asked.
“Coming up now Gordon, hold on.” Herrera said and then went silent for several moments. The flickering lights then suddenly snapped on fully and stayed solid. The solid state of the lights was welcoming to Gordon as the constant flickering was starting to give him a headache. “Sensors now online Sergeant. Mendez is conducting the scan of the station now. Decks one through five are clear. Showing life signs on decks eight and nine. Goddard, do you copy?”
“Goddard here captain.” his replied.
, I’m showing life sign readings on decks eight and nine. What is your current position?” Herrera asked.
“We just finished our sweep of deck five,” Goddard said. “Do you have count of life signs?”
“Negative on that. There seems to be some interference, but they do appear to be grouped together in mass on the two decks.” Herrera said.
“Roger that Cap. We’ll check it out.” Goddard replied.
“Gordon, I’ve got reading coming up right now on your section. There seems to be sporadic readings across all floors from twelve through twenty with a large mass centered around deck fifteen.”
“Copy that. Deck twelve is clear besides us.” Gordon replied, though took a quick look up and down the hallway just to be sure, “What do you want me to with the doctor here?”
“Keep him secured for now. It is too risky to reposition the squads with these life sign readings.” Herrera said.
“Roger that Captain.” Gordon answered and clicked off his mic. He then looked to Doctor Carr, “Doc, is there anything I need to know about these dragons? You mentioned something about genetics.”
“Um, yes,” Carr stuttered, “We were doing genetic manipulation, but on humans, not dragons. There shouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary.”
“Are there any human subjects loose?” Rustovich asked.
The rest of the squad quickly turned their attention to the young marine. They were so wrapped up in thinking about dragons that it didn’t even dawn on them that some medical experiment could be walking loose on the station.
“I don’t know. I’m a medical doctor, not a genetic engineer. When we lost power, I was locked on this deck by myself the whole time.” Carr said.
Gordon frowned a bit and then nodded. “Do you know what caused the power to go offline?”
The doctor shook his head, “I don’t.”
“Then we continue with our mission. Daniels and Wells, we have possible life signs on the next deck. They could be human or dragon so be sure to check your targets.” Gordon said.
The marines nodded and began to file into the stairwell to head down. Karzarian came to a stop next to Gordon and looked over shoulder with a worried look. “This op just went south.” he said quietly so the rest of the squad couldn’t hear him.
“Yeah…yeah it has. Let’s try to keep it from going any further.” Gordon replied and flicked the safety of his carbine from on to off.