“Is that…” Alexa began.
“An armoured carrier,” Sirvanna said. “Get down.” The two ducked behind the nearest cover.
The back opened and Ines peaked out. “Alexa, Sweetheart, you two hurry up and get in.” She called.
“I thought you were the enemy,” Sirvanna said. “Why did you bring that thing, anyway?”
Ines ran up to her and leaned towards her ear. “Alena’s in bad shape. We have to get back, fast.”
Sirvanna nodded. “Alexa, Ines, let’s get these children on board as fast as we can. Are Katelyn and Yuni up?”
“Yuni’s driving,” Ines said. “Katelyn hasn’t come to yet.”
They hurriedly ushered the children aboard the carrier. Sirvanna took a moment to examine Alena before closing the carrier.
“Alexa, take the wheel,” Sirvanna said. “There should be an air base fairly close. Head north. Once we get there you, Yuni and I will get control of the fastest plane we can find. Ines will bring the children on board and Katelyn…” She reached over and shook Katelyn.
“Wh… what’s going on?” Katelyn asked. “Who used my head as a bongo drum?”
“Katelyn,” Sirvanna said. “We’re planning on taking a plane to get back. Once we’ve got control of one, we’ll need you to bring Alena on board. As carefully as you can. We’ll cover you.”
“Can’t Alena board her own damn se…” Katelyn looked over at Alena. “Never mind. I’ve got it.”
“Couldn’t Ines take Alena back to the base faster?” Yuni asked. “Why are you making her wait so long for treatment.”
“Yuni,” Sirvanna said. “I appreciate and understand your feelings. But right now the worst thing we could do would be rushing without thinking. Ines could get her back a little faster, yes, but she would also give her a very bumpy ride and most likely cause more harm than the extra time would help her. The best thing we can do for Alena right now is keep her stable. Do you understand?”
Yuni nodded. She moved next to Alena and gently took her hand. “It’ll be okay,” she whispered. “We’ll get you back okay.”
“There’s a gate in the way,” Alexa said.
“Circle around,” Sirvanna said. “We’ll find a spot in the fence at the far side away from the gate and cut our way through. Hopefully, we’ll have Alena and the children aboard before they can stop us. Ines.”
“Yes, Dear?” Ines asked.
“Take out their radar station,” Sirvanna said. “I know you can get it done and return before we’ve got the plane. It’ll help give us a distraction and curtail pursuit.”
“Got it,” Ines said. “I’m getting out through the roof.”
Ines climbed on top of the vehicle and ran down. She identified the radar station and ran to it. The guards didn’t have a chance to register her presence before going down. She borrowed an army knife and rushed inside. She had all of the radar operators stabbed before the first collapsed. She left the knife in the last one’s back.
“Now,” she muttered “how do I stop the radar?”
She grabbed a fire extinguisher and bludgeoned the controls. She yanked several wires and sprayed the foam over everything. “I hope this stuff was really expensive.” She ran out the door and was on her way to meet back up with the others when the alarm sounded behind her.
“Not a lot of guards around here,” Alexa observed.
“Most of them have gone to check the radio tower,” Sirvanna said. “Give the rest of these guys a ride.”
Alexa put her hands together and a funnel of wind formed near the guard post, pulling the few guards remaining in the area into it. Sirvanna and Yuni tossed lightning and beams of energy into it. Alexa let the funnel die down and the bodies fell limply out of it.
Sirvanna hurriedly examined the planes around them.
“We’ll take the Wunder Peregrine,” Sirvanna said. “It’ll be a bit cramped, but we should be able to all fit.”
“I can always sit on your lap,” Ines said. “I’ll get to boarding the kids.”
“Good to see you back,” Sirvanna said.
“This is a very disappointing development.”
“Indeed. Connect to the main allied base. We should fill them in.”
“How did the operation go?”
“Unfortunately, it did not go as well as anticipated. Our team managed o capture two plaguers, but they were intercepted by enemy forces of as yet unknown numbers and they were all killed.”
“That is unfortunate,” Anderson said. “Were they taken too quickly to request aid?”
“No,” Schweitzer said. “They attempted to contact us thrice. However, the operative mis-typed the identification code and their request was ignored.”
“Understandable,” Anderson said. “It could have been a trap, after all.”
“You’re both dodging the real question,” a third voice piped in.
“What do you mean, Doctor Heinrich?” Anderson asked.
“I mean,” Heinrich said. “That your creature’s suits failed their test. That funding would be better served by my experiments.”
“Your experiments were unethical and abhorrent,” Anderson said.
“And your golem process is different?” Heinrich asked. “My experiments are the key to unlocking the next step of human evolution. Fancy robot suits aren’t going to do that.”
“Zero,” Anderson said. “Please respond to the ‘good’ Doctor.”
“Response generated,” Zero said. “There are multiple accounts on which Doctor Heinrich is incorrect. The first is in the assertion that the TR-J8 suits failed. The test was not for them to return with enemy captives. It was to see how they function in actual combat. A team of six humans managing to capture two powered enemies shows a great efficacy on their part. The Doctor’s second error is the assertion that his experiments are more deserving of the funding. The good Doctor’s experiments have only thus far succeeded in producing chimera. These chimera have never been tested under combat conditions nor is there any reason to believe that they would be more adept than a regular human soldier. The final error in reasoning is the Doctor’s assumption that his research would ‘unlock the next step of human evolution’ is unfounded, illogical and decidedly unscientific.”
“I would add,” Anderson said. “That Zero’s innovations have already helped us take great strides in turning this war around. We’re able to produce Golem units with great speed an efficiency thanks to him and our robotics have never been better. In fact, Zero is working on the plan for an operation that will end this whole thing.”
“I’ll be interested in seeing that,” Schweitzer said.
“I as well,” Heinrich added. “Let’s see what your monster can do.”
“We’re almost there,” Sirvanna said. “How’s Alena?”
“She’s still stable,” Alexa said.
“I’m keeping her still,” Katelyn added. “More importantly, do you two actually have to sit like that?”
“We don’t have much room,” Ines said.
“And we do need to keep Alena as still as we can,” Sirvanna said. “Which means giving her some room. Hold on, I’m landing.”
“Where’s the patient?” Florence asked.
“I’ve got her,” Katelyn said. She came from the back of the plane levitating Alena behind her. Yuni stood a couple of metres away from Alena’s side.
“Take her to my operating room. Why are there children?” Florence asked.
“I told you,” Sirvanna said. “We got them from the lab.”
“You must’ve told Naoko after I left,” Florence said. “I’ll have to find someone to look after them. Too bad Michael isn’t here. He has a way with kids. Who else can I call… Christina and Callie are out on a mission with the rest of Omega Theta Sigma… I know,” Florence grabbed her radio. “Rose, Trojan, report to the hangar. Let me think… Who else? Ryu, to the hangar.” She put her radio down. “Now to operate.” She hurriedly followed after Katelyn.