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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 8: Kondor 99
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Slade and his wife vanished into the back room. The girl would be safer there; Kondor thought that was a bit chauvinistic of him; but then, it was obvious that she was not a fighter, and if there was one thing worse than having a civilian in the middle of a battle, it was having a civilian present for whom one of the soldiers particularly cared. Presumably if a fight erupted, Slade would come out with blaster blazing, and leave his lady safe in the other room.
He turned his attention back to the monitors, scanning the small screens to see what he could. There they were, at the door; and it did appear that they had the key, or more precisely the entry code. Presumably they would enter and come directly here, as this appeared to be the central control area. Kondor started thinking through his story; he would be playing the part in a moment, trying to deceive someone by giving them as much of the truth as he could and encouraging them to fill in the gaps with their own expectations.
He turned to face the door, stood at attention, and took a deep breath.
The door popped open; the first through it would be soldiers, probably three, to establish that the room was safe; the commanding officer would be fourth. Kondor, already at attention, moved to present arms as the men rushed into the room, three soldiers and officer, all black men. The officer immediately spotted him, and returned the salute. Kondor moved to attention and waited.
The commander walked toward him. "We thought this facility was evacuated, soldier."
"Yes sir," Kondor said. "It was sir."
"So," the officer continued, "who are you, and what are you doing here."
"Joseph Wade Kondor, Covert Ops, sir. I was on communications blackout and unaware that the facility had been abandoned; I retreated to this position shortly before you arrived."
"And how did you get into this facility?"
Kondor hadn't thought about this; however, he had thought about how to handle questions for which he didn't have easy answers. "Sorry, sir. That's need to know. Covert Ops."
The commander eyed him carefully, but seemed satisfied with that answer. "Your mission, too, I suppose, is need to know?"
"Yes sir." Kondor was pleased with how well this was going, but he kept his face fixed. "I can tell you that I am a medic. If any of your men need attending, I would be more than happy to see to them. I also have some background in physics, although I'm not an engineer."
The commander eyed him for another moment, then spoke. "Well, Kondor; welcome to Bunker Three Fourteen. I'm Colonel Mlambo. The enemy was shelling this area three days ago, and command pulled the unit manning this bunker; there are rumors that the ghosts have a new bomb, something devastating, and until we've seen it we can't be sure how powerful it is." Kondor suppressed a grin at the idea that the enemy were called ghosts; he had fought an adversary once before that was very ghost-like, but he somehow doubted whether the enemy here was going to be non-corporeal glowing entities, whatever they were called. "Their artillery has been driven back, and so my unit is reactivating this position. My men are fine, but you're welcome to bunk with us for the present."
"Thank you, sir. Once you're settled, let me know where I can stow my gear."
At that moment, Slade came out of the conference room. "And mine too," he said, but he stopped and raised his hands, as every soldier in the room immediately aimed a gun at him.
As to the old stories that have long been here: