[This is part of an ongoing series. See my ‘Half-Life Story‘ page for more information.]
CHAPTER 5 – DISCOVERED
“What in the resonance cascade is happening? Where is Ciril?” I demanded as I flew into the communications office.
A panicked Alvertis was manning the alarm controls. “Trouble…bloody trouble…Combine ‘ere…from the e’st…barely time…” he sputtered between lunges for certain controls. A woman’s voice calmly spoke evacuation procedures over the compound speakerphones in-between the blaring of sirens:
‘Prepare for immediate evacuation. Combine approaching. Perform lockdown protocol in your sector immediately.’
Brice entered the comm room and stood by my side.
This was horrible. Of all things I hated most was a situation like this. I took a deep, shaky breath. “Alright. Just keep it up. Keep a watch out as long as possible. Try to keep everyone updated with anything urgent on the loudspeaker,” I breathlessly rambled to Alvertis.
I turned to Brice as we were leaving, “Have you never performed a rescue operation before?” I asked rather loudly. “You should always check stolen goods and hostages for bugs! ALWAYS!”
Brice shook his head.
“Now we have to relocate to an alternative site,” I vented as we strode down the hallway.
Brice said something.
“What?” I demanded.
“I checked for bugs. There was nothing. I checked.” He was barely audible. But I was frantic. We were found. We were in a highly dangerous and particularly inconvenient situation.
“Then how else? How else would they have found us at this time?”
“Not from bugs,” he said firmly.
“THAT’S NOT HELPFUL!”
I glared at him, then softened, suddenly aware of how angry I was. I looked in his eyes a moment longer, taking a deep breath.
“Okay then. Fine. Lets…um, assemble a defensive line while the rest evacuate the essentials and personnel.” Brice nodded and took off.
I turned around a corner and up some stairs towards the landing pads. A rumble harassed the tunnels. The calm procedures were replaced with a man’s voice, “Bagh! Golly, the chopper’s gone. A jolly scoutin’ Strider. Oh, bless my stars. Our rocket men got t’ ’em.” With a click the procedures commenced.
Drat. There goes plan A.
I turned around and ran toward the mechanic shop to find Marco. She was fueling up the buggies: a selection of old car frames and four wheelers converted into multi-terrain vehicles. They are the resistance’s high powered, albeit minimalistic, method of ground transportation.
“Marco! Marco! Are these bare bones ready to ride?”
She threw an empty gasoline jug aside. “Ay! We’ve got five operational vehicles.”
“Good. I want you to radio the lab and get our scientists out of here right away. No one but the scientists, their work, and plenty of guards use them. Got it?”
“Brice and I are working on a defensive line to draw their attention away. They are coming from the east. Make sure they go straight for Beacon Hill. Once all the cars are out safely go help man the RPG’s. We need them for as long as possible.”
The hallways were chaos when I reentered the fray. I very much hoped it was organized chaos. It took me five whole minutes to get back to the communications room. But in that time I was able to recruit ten men.
“Aha, Ciril. You’ve decided to join us.”
“Y’ can’t blame me mate, when ‘ol Johnny boy comes a callin’…”
“No matter. Alvertis, time for another announcement. Quick.”
Several more shakes threatened everyone’s balance. The pressure was building.
“Great, just great. Another Strider! Where do they come from?!” someone squeaked.
“Hush man. That was us. Internal detonations to cover our tracks. Part of protocol,” I said without looking at who it was.
“Announce that I have a team going up front to buy us some time. We need several other teams to cover the sides, the rear, and the top, if possible. The rest need to exit away from the Combine advance. Go west or northeast. West will shake them easier, but northeast is more direct toward the wilderness and an outpost. We’ll try to regroup at the outpost.”
Ciril started to say that we should stick together but I interrupted him again.
“Splitting up will be the best chance to divert their attention and escape,” I turned to leave. “Lets go take a chunk out of some Combine ass!”
Chapter 5, Pt. 2 > >