Filip stumbled to a halt, his shoes screeching against the metal of the base’s floor as he simultaneously tried to backpedal away from the gun in his face and surrender and die cursing the hated Annexers. His would-be executioner’s face shifted from a mask of steely resolve to a morass of confusion and surprise to anger to delight all in the space of a second, the change coming faster than her words could keep up. “Freeze, you– wait, what? …Max!”
Genni dropped the gun, pushed past him, and threw her arms around Max Blaston. Ignored by the lady for another man. Damned if that wasn’t always the way of things. Still, Filip smiled. This part of the mission had gone right at least.
Max returned Genni’s hug. “Well, that’s a Hell of a way to greet your rescuers, Commander.”
“’Rescuers?’ Excuse me, do I look like I need rescue?”
Max chuckled. “Well, we’re here to extract you, then. I assume you weren’t just going to walk home.”
Genni smiled. “No. I guess even I need a pilot.”
Trass’khar made a noise halfway between a snort and a sniff and pointed at the computer terminal Genni had been working on. She glanced back over her shoulder. “Oh, simple. I’m going to blow this place up.”
Filip said softly, “Oh, that’s what we’re here for, too. Uh, in addition to rescuing you.” Genni turned her attention towards Filip and looked him up and down as if she were seeing him for the first time. She wasn’t, of course. They’d met before. But maybe he just wasn’t very memorable.
Genni smirked. “Good. You three can help out by covering me while I finish wrecking their system.”
Filip took a moment to examine the door they’d just come through before the three soldiers nodded and took up defensive positions. It was standard stuff, no more secure than he would have expected to find in a ritzy hab block back on the hive. He frowned. It was stupid. Beyond stupid. It was pathetic. It was the kind of thing that settled into your stomach and dragged it down like a lead weight. These clowns were that incompetent and the People’s Army couldn’t beat them? The Annexers were fools and they’d put together a weapon this deadly? It was all so hopeless. They’d already lost. Why even fight?
Filip shook his head. By the quintessence, where had that come from? Those thoughts had come on so suddenly and so strongly. It was like they’d been forced upon him. Like they’d come from some outside force, but what?
Suddenly the door blew inwards, collapsing to the floor with a heavy clang. All of them let out gasps of surprise. Standing in the frame was a lone man, dressed from feet to shoulders in black and grey titan armor, cybernetic augmentations all over his body, a plasma pistol in one hand and the other glowing with psionic energy so dark it seemed to suck the very light from the room.