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The Marine, the Rebel and the Sangheili: Carson
Posted By: QuantumSheep<quantumsheep@optusnet.com.au>
Date: 31 October 2008, 5:34 am

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December 24th, 2525
0850 Hours
Tribute Settlement 6C

      The atmosphere inside the restaurant was light-hearted, at the very least. The Asian themed interior, with pinkish-red walls, ornate light fixtures hung from the ceiling and armed guards stood at all the possible entrance/exit points, which included five doors and two       windows at the front.

      Four men, one in a Colonel's uniform, one in a Lieutenant-Colonel's uniform and the other two in business suits, sat around a table, being the only customers in the restaurant at the time. It had been a simple matter to reserve the whole restaurant for themselves using a reasonable amount of money to appeal to the restaurant's owner.

      Colonel Timothy Hanley was the man in the Colonel's uniform, sitting at a half-finished plate of lemon chicken. To his right was Lieutenant-Colonel Walter E. Horace and his two business associates sat at the other half of the circular table.

      Tonight was Christmas Eve according to the UNSC calendar and was the perfect time for a "business" meeting. Hanley himself had organized the meeting, another chance to merge the ever growing OCPLF with yet another rebel organization.

      Lieutenant-Colonel Horace was in his mid fifties, a world weary man who had grown tired of the UN's obviously self-centred interests in the Outer Colonies. His financial advisor, Joseph, as well as his lawyer David, had come with him to this meeting. They were highly respected people in Horace's organization and so they deserved to know what would be happening to the organization.

      For the last hour they had talked, eaten and drank, telling each other amusing anecdotes, happy at the arrangements that were being made and the other's hospitality.

      Four armed guards stood by the windows, one by the front entrance, one by the pair of toilet blocks and another one by the rear entrance. This would ensure no unwelcome visitors barged in on the meeting and if they did, there would be some protection.

      There were a few more armed guards outside, out on the street disguised as everyday civilians and a few in the alleys behind the restaurant. None of the civilians outside could care less about who was meeting inside the restaurant and what was going on inside, just as long as they were left alone. Public opinion, was, after all, going in favour of rebel groups.

      "So, to get to the point, I want my organization, the OCPLF as it is more commonly referred to," Hanley said, "I want your organization to merge with us. We are fighting for the same thing and if we unite, we could form a much better, much stronger fighting force and our goal of having the Outer Colonies removed from the Earth's empire will be a little closer, a little more in reach."

      Horace nodded in agreement, glass of white wine held in his right hand. Taking a sip, he nodded some more, almost at a loss for words.

      "I agree with everything you say, Tim," Horace said, "you sure know your stuff. I think we would be far better off merging, as you say." He turned to his financial advisor and his lawyer. "What do you say, you two?"

      "I don't mind merging, just as long as our spending is under control," Joseph said, "the last thing we want is to go bankrupt…"

      "Don't you worry about bankruptcy, Joe," Hanley said, turning to the financial advisor, "we have plenty of benefactors willing to fund us. That's why my men are equipped with the latest weaponry, because of the very money the so-called 'traitors' in FLEETCOM keep giving us." He paused, turning back to the Lieutenant-Colonel.

      "So, what do you say?" Hanley asked, "Is it a deal?"

      "It's a done deal," Horace said, putting down his glass and shaking hands with Hanley.

      While this was happening, the men inside weren't aware of how the guards out the front were suddenly tumbled to the ground in turn, almost silently. The same fate awaited the guards out the bank and while Hanley and the three others sat and chatted, a smoke grenade rolled in through the small window in the women's toilets.

      This didn't particular get anyone's attention, the women's toilet's door was shut. It was only when the first few traces of orange smoke began filtering into the restaurant from under the door did the guard standing nearby take a look, opening the door.

      The whole toilet block was filled with orange smoke, making it impossible to see into the toilets. By now the Colonel and the others had turned their attention to the orange smoke inside the women's toilets and were just in time to watch as the front of the armed guard's forehead exploded, his body dropping to the ground suddenly.

      "What the hell?" Hanley said, reaching for the pistol he had holstered at his waist.

      Before he could draw it, an armed man dressed in civilian clothes entered the restaurant, holding a suppressed M6 submachine gun. He looked strangely tall and quite muscular, but that was the last thing Hanley worried about. He kept his hand on the butt of his holstered pistol, realizing that this whole meeting was being raided.

      Another three of these people came in through the front door. The armed guards inside trained their weapon onto them but the civilians got the upper hand, easily knocking over the guards standing by the windows with surprising speed and coordination. Now there were only two armed guards left in the building as well as the Colonel and his new friends.

      "Who the hell are you people?" Horace demanded.

      There was no reply at first, but one of these "civilians" stepped forwards, submachine gun raised.

      "Colonel Timothy Hanley?"

      "Yes?" Hanley didn't really know what to do, he had four guns trained on him and probably a few more from unseen places, like outside for example. Even now he could make out the sniper on the balcony of the hotel across the street, even if it was sort of dark outside.

      "You're under arrest for being a threat to the security of the United Nations," the man said, "if you come quietly…"

      Before the man could continue, the back door smashed open and a group of four police officers in body armour charged inside. The remaining two rebel guards stood their ground as the new interlopers spread themselves out at the other side of the restaurant. They seemed surprised to see the other four men, in civilian clothes, inside the restaurant as well. Taking a better look, Hanley could see one of the "civilians" was a young woman, her hair cut short, as if she was in the military or something…

      "Okay, this is a police raid!" The head officer shouted, pointing his submachine gun at the other group of raiders, "put down your weapons and nobody will get hurt!"

      "We're soldiers with the UNSC!" The head "civilian" said, "This is our raid!"

      "No it fucking isn't!" The cop shouted, sounding agitated, "this is our raid!"

      "How about all of you put you guns down!" One of the rebel guards shouted, his assault rifle raised.

      The lead cop and the lead UNSC soldier looked at him, unsure of what to do. Horace, on the other hand, had stood up, a rather angry expression on his face.

      "What the hell are you doing Private?" He looked at the rebel guard, obviously angry at the way the guard was acting, "you'll get us all killed!"

      "Yeah, listen to the asshole," the lead cop said, "put the gun away!"

      "You put the gun away!" The other rebel guard interjected. While the shouting continued, Hanley took a look at the financial advisor and the lawyer. The lawyer was looking mighty nervous and looked towards the lead cop, tugging his collar in a nervous manner.

      "Can I leave now?" He asked, "I think I've done my job…"

      Horace turned around and looked down at his associate, a furious expression crossing his face.

      "What the hell are you talking about?"

      "He's wearing a wire," Hanley replied casually, having worked this out minutes before, "that's why he was so damn nervous. Those cops have been listening to everything we've been saying. I was going to say something earlier, but I didn't want to spoil our nice dinner." He paused and looked towards the cops and then the UN soldiers. "Unfortunately, it seems this little raid has gotten mighty screwed up."

      "You shut the fuck up!" The lead cop shouted, "We're taking all of you assholes into custody! You're all gonna get life sentences!"

      "Let us handle this!" The lead UN soldier shouted in response, "Hanley and Horace are to come with us."

      Horace, meanwhile, had started swearing loudly at his lawyer. He wasn't pleased in the slightest bit.

      "You fucker! After all these years, you piece of shit, you stab me in the back!" Horace swiped the bottle of wine from the table, smashing it against the side of the table and letting the remaining white wine dating back from 2507 splash all over the tablecloth. Hanley squinted as wine splashed into his face and eyes, rubbing them clean with one hand as he kept his butt on his seat and his hand on the butt of his pistol.

      As soon as Horace went to charge at his lawyer with the smashed up end of the bottle, the head cop opened fire. Horace spun around a little, bullets peppering his back and spots of blood appearing in his white suit's jagged tears. A stray bullet hit one of the UN soldiers, getting him in the stomach and sending him tumbling backwards, causing him to slump against the back wall.

      Hanley seized his chance. Withdrawing his pistol, he dived off his seat and onto the floor. He watched as the lawyer got up, only to be cut down by the disgruntled police officers, landing in a heap on the floor.

      The UN soldiers opened fire, obviously in vengeance for their fallen comrade. One of the police officers was filled with full metal jacket rounds in seconds, sent stumbling against the back wall, blood staining it as he slumped down lifelessly, the body armour useless against the armour piercing rounds. The two remaining police officers dived behind cover, which mostly consisted of tables and chairs, flipping over tables to act as barricades.

      The same went with the remaining UN soldiers. They flipped tables onto their sides, spraying bullets over the top of the makeshift barricades. Hanley crawled to the side of the room, noticing how the sniper across the street had begun to fire, one of the windows shattering as a few high powered rounds slammed into it. One of them hit a rebel guard, sending him onto the floor, his rifle firing wildly, a bullet hitting one of the UN soldiers in the shoulder.
The other rebel guard ducked behind a table as the UN soldiers retaliated.

      The financial advisor stood up to make a run for it, only to be hit by the next bullet the sniper fired, part of his head blowing outwards as he was sent backwards, landing on the table and into half-finished plates of Asian food. The chefs in the kitchen had disappeared, having left through the back door for obvious reasons.

      Hanley took out his customized pistol, a model often used by colonial police forces. Reaching into his pocket he removed an attachable scope, clipping it into place on the side of the pistol and unfolding the retractable stock. He peered through the scope towards the sniper who was another of the strangely tall and muscular UN soldiers. Adjusting his aim accordingly, he fired, watching as the sniper tumbled off the balcony and landed on the street below.

      "We've lost Leon!" The head UN soldier shouted, sounding both angry and emotional. The one who had been shot earlier sat slumped against the wall, attempting to hold his guts in place with one hand, the bullet having shredded its way through his stomach. He was moaning for help but somehow Hanley doubted he would be getting it anytime soon.

      Hanley saw the female UN soldier make a run for a barricade nearby as the UN and the cops exchanged fire over the top of their barricades. The Colonel raised his pistol, fired twice and watched as red spots appeared on the side of the woman, seeing her tumble onto the ground and roll a fair distance thanks to her own momentum.

      The remaining rebel guard had crawled his way around the side of the police barricade and opened fire, gunning down one of the cops taking cover there. The head policeman turned around and retaliated, the rebel getting at least three bullets in the chest before falling.

      Hanley looked back outside, noticing how a few police cars had pulled up. He swore quietly to himself, deciding to pull his master move. He raised his pistol, fired at the wounded UN soldier who had been shot in the shoulder earlier as he came up to fire some more at the cops. He disappeared behind the barricade with a large hole in his forehead. This further infuriated the remaining UN soldier, the lead one, as he stood up and turned his attention to Hanley, about to open fire when the last remaining police officer stood up.

      For a moment the two exchanged glances but the cop, having been annoyed more at the UN soldiers than at the rebels, finished off the last few rounds of the magazine loaded in his submachine gun, the UN soldier dropping behind the barricade.

      Hanley stood up, raised his pistol and pointed it straight at the cop. The cop, Lieutenant in rank now that Hanley had the time to take in the details of his uniform, dropped his empty submachine gun and reached for his sidearm. With two shots Hanley had gunned the Lieutenant down, one of the bullets having hit him in the throat, the other the forehead. He stumbled back a step before falling, leaving Colonel Timothy Hanley as the sole survivor of the raid. That was until he saw the UN soldier slumped against
the wall nearby, clutching his stomach.

      Stepping over to the UN soldier, Hanley took a good look at the muscular, somewhat young looking man. He must have been at least seven feet tall when he had been standing up. Now he looked as pathetic as a dying animal, blood seeping profusely from the large hole caused by the single bullet from one of the now dead cops.

      The soldier looked up, an angry expression crossing his face. Hanley simply grinned, waving his pistol in front of the man.

      "What are you?" He asked the soldier, curious as to what unit this man was in, "are you a marine? ONI? What?"

      The soldier went to say something but simply coughed up blood. Hanley kicked the soldier in the ribs, hearing him yell and find the muscle there surprisingly thick.

      "You ain't even twenty, are you?" Hanley asked. He knew he wouldn't be getting much of an answer, so clicking back the hammer on his pistol, he raised it, the soldier looking up at the barrel and then at the Colonel's face.

      "This is what happens when punks like you mess with Colonel Hanley," Hanley said, firing and watching as the soldier's face disappeared and how blood sprayed all over Hanley's trousers and waist.

      Now finished, Hanley removed the scope from his pistol and folded in the stock, holstering the sidearm and glancing outside. The police outside looked like they were preparing to charge the building, so heading for the backdoor through the kitchen, Hanley started into the alleys, disappearing into the night. If all went well, he would be off this planet by the next morning. As far as everyone else was concerned, he had never been at that restaurant and had never even met Horace and his associates.

      "I only ever heard about a shootout, but I never knew you were involved," Lukas said, shaking his head in disbelief at the Colonel's story.

      Colonel Timothy Hanley shrugged, proud of what he had done that night. He had been the sole survivor of a botched raid by two conflicting parties, both after him and both intent on capturing him. He ran a hand through his greying hair, dwelling on these memories for a bit.

      "So, the lawyer was wearing a wire for the police?" Lukas asked, "How could you tell?"

      "I have my ways," Hanley replied, "especially since the lawyer looked nervous, as if he was in some serious trouble."

      "And these UN soldiers? They what, raided the very same meeting?"

      "Damn right," Hanley said, remembering everything all too well. It had been frantic but had been over in minutes. He must have been lucky considering the cops hated the UN marines more than they wanted to capture him.

      "Who were these 'UN soldiers'?"

      Hanley paused, puffing away on his cigar. That was one thing which had remained a mystery to him. Five highly trained soldiers in civilian clothes, which must mean that it had been some sort of top secret operation, which would explain why the police didn't know. They had been different than any other specialist marines Hanley had encountered and ever since that night he had been trying to work out who they had been, attempting to find out more about him using various sources. Unfortunately, it was surprisingly hard to find anything on top secret groups such as this.

      "No idea," Hanley replied, "no damn idea. They were different, in more ways then one. You'll be the first person I tell once I find out who they are."

      Lukas nodded. He had stood listening intently as Hanley told his story in immense detail, going as far as to describe the UN soldiers and how they were "different". Lukas had indeed heard of a shootout on Tribute but it had been quickly covered up, the five UN marines being removed from the death count, the media obviously being made to tell the public that it had been merely a shootout with police and the rebels, no third party involved. Information on the Christmas Eve shootout was somewhat hard to find now, probably because of cover-up efforts by whoever had run the group of UN marines.

      "So, that was one hell of a night," Hanley said, "trying to capture me, those bastards. Do they really think I would be that easy to catch?"

      Lukas shrugged. Hanley picked up the thick textbook off of his desk and stepped over to one of his bookshelves, placing it in between his old style hardcover copies of The Catcher in the Rye (in his opinion a dreadfully boring novel) and The Man with the Golden Gun . He turned around to face Lukas, thinking of what he had to do today.

      "Anything else you need to tell me Lukas?" He asked. The Corporal shook his head, saluted, and was about to turn around and leave when the distant crack of gunshots could be heard outside. Hanley almost dropped his cigar in surprise but quickly regained his grip on it, putting its end back into his mouth as he and Lukas exchanged looks. There had only been three shots but it was worth checking out.

      The pair exited the tent and went outside, the sudden heat and bright sunlight temporarily disorienting them for a moment. Hanley's eyes adjusted to the light and he went on ahead, Lukas following.

      The camp was a series of tents and other temporary structures of differing sizes, including a few barracks tents and one large mess hall tent. OCPLF soldiers were wandering around, some having gone to the source of the gunfire which had originated from outside Major Bill Carson's tent.

      Carson's tent was close to the excavation site and so the Colonel took a brief moment to admire their progress so far: a large, dug out structure protruded from a deep, sandy and rocky hole about seventy metres across. Earth-moving machinery was scattered around, both automated and manual (although mostly manual) and several engineers and technicians milled about, hardly noticing the shooting that had taken place so close to them.

      Finding a small crowd of soldiers and other types of personnel had gathered outside Carson's tent, Hanley approached, the crowd parting to let him through. Outside the front of Carson's tent lay Staff Sergeant Henry Lister, the very person who had procured the Colonel a copy of the textbook he had been reading earlier. The Staff Sergeant was a reliable soldier, a good leader and had been somewhat close friends with the Colonel. He felt a pang of regret to see the Staff Sergeant lying with a bullet in his shoulder and a bullet in his stomach. The last shot having missed and put a hole in a barrel of fuel, which was leaking close by but otherwise no threat to their safety.

      Bending over the Staff Sergeant, Hanley glanced at the crowd with some anger. They were simply staring, much in the same way a crowd would form around a suicide jumper who lay as a pulp on a sidewalk after jumping off an apartment building.

      "Somebody get a medic!" Hanley shouted angrily, "And if you're not here to help, leave!"

      Hanley could see the Staff Sergeant was still alive, attempting to sit up but forced down by the Colonel.

      "Stay still," Hanley said.

      Most of the crowd had left or had walked away a bit before turning around to watch Hanley and the Staff Sergeant.

      "Tell me, Lister," Hanley said, a stern expression on his face, "what happened?"

      "It was…Bill…" Lister said, "huh-huh-he…he took the artefacts…he told me he knows what they do…how someone like you can't get hold of them…so he took them with him…I tried to stop him…buh-buh-but he shot me…"

      "Where has he gone?" Hanley suddenly felt angry, especially at how Bill could do such a thing. There had been signs, though, at how Bill had become almost obsessed with the items they recovered from the ancient alien structure.

      "Huh-he took a truck…it was all planned…Frank…Frank helped him…gave him the keys to one of our trucks…"

      "Frank Trautmann?"

      "Yeah, him…"

      1st Lieutenant Frank Trautmann was one of Bill's closest friends and a well respected member of the troops here. It seemed that the battle weary Lieutenant was in league with Bill and his little scheme to steal the artefacts.

      "Is Frank still here?"

      "Yeah…he…he's still here…I think…I saw him go into the toilet block…"

      Hanley nodded, the medic he had called for earlier arriving. Leaving the young medic to get to work on Lister, Hanley stood up and started for the men's toilet block, a moderately sized tent with typical toilets, the kind that required no plumbing for they incinerated whatever was inside them with the push of a button, pumping it out into a large tank behind the tent.

      He was furious. Clenching his fists as he made his way for the toilet tent, he realized just how ruined his plans would be if Bill got away with the artefacts. He knew he should have replaced that guy earlier; the Major had almost gotten obsessive over the artefacts, not allowing anybody else to see them. Now it turned out Frank was collaborating with him.

      He stopped by Lukas, who was standing outside the barracks, trying to determine what had happened. He looked at the Colonel, a frown crossing his features.

      "What happened?"

      "I'll tell you later," Hanley replied, "just get as many troops out searching the surrounding desert. Bill's made a run for it with the artefacts and we can't let him escape. Tell the search parties to be on the lookout for one of our trucks…"

      "I've just come back from a complaint one of our engineers made," Lukas said, "it seems all of our vehicles have been sabotaged, one way or another. None of them are capable of driving."

      Hanley contained the sudden outburst he could feel welling up in him. No use cracking it at Lukas, although they wouldn't be able to pursue a speeding truck without any working vehicles of their own.

      "What about our radios?"

      "They've been sabotaged as well, sir," Lukas replied, "our technicians are on the job, trying to fix them, but it could be a while…"

      "Once they're fixed, get on the line back to headquarters. We need air patrols, ground patrols…the whole fucking lot! We have to find Carson; otherwise our work here would have been for nothing!" Hanley shouted angrily, annoyed at how organized this whole thing was. Frank and Carson certainly knew what they were doing.

      This got Hanley's mind back on the task at hand, the fact that Frank hadn't yet left. Approaching the men's toilets tent he noticed a single quad bike parked outside, obviously for the Lieutenant's use. A few packs were attached to the quad bike, filled with supplies for what would be a long drive if the Lieutenant wasn't stopped from leaving.

      Stepping into the dimly lit interior of the tent, Hanley reached for the light switch, flicked it but found the few lights inside were blown. He opened a few of the flaps on the sides of the tent to let some light in, finding that one of the four cubicles were locked shut.

      Standing still, Hanley waited for the Lieutenant to finish what he was doing, which wasn't long after Hanley had come in. The whirring sound the toilets made when they powered up to incinerate what was inside could be heard, before decreasing in volume and finally ceasing. The cubicle door opened, the Lieutenant whistling a tune to himself as he turned around, saw the Colonel standing there, and stopped whistling. He looked nervous all of a sudden, so to make him even more nervous the Colonel grinned malevolently.

      "Lieutenant," Hanley said casually, "I heard you had a hand in Bill Carson's escape."

      Lieutenant Trautmann shifted nervously where he stood, managing a weak smile.

      "He…he said he couldn't let you have those artefacts, Colonel," the Lieutenant said, "you're going to have to live without them…"

      "Fuck that," Hanley said, pointing an accusing finger at Trautmann, "you screwed up all our vehicles and radios. I doubt you were the only one, but I'm going to track down each of you little traitors and kill each and every one of you. Guess who'll be the first?"

      Trautmann coughed.


      "You guess right," Hanley replied. He had noticed how Trautmann was reaching for his waist holster, for the pistol that was being kept in place there. Instead of letting the Lieutenant get hold of it, Hanley lunged at him, the pair of them falling backwards into the cubicle.

      "Where the hell did Bill go?" Hanley asked; grabbing Trautmann by the hair and pulling his head back so it was inches away from the side of the toilet bowl.

      "Fuck you."

      Hanley slammed the Lieutenant's forehead against the metal toilet seat. The Lieutenant shouted loudly in pain and so Hanley did it again and again until he could feel the blood dripping down the Lieutenant's forehead and onto Hanley's other hand, which held the man at the chest.

      "I'll ask again," Hanley said, speaking close to Trautmann's right ear, "where the fuck is Bill Carson headed?"

      "Go to hell," Trautmann muttered, sounding somewhat weak. Hanley shook his head and used his left hand to grab the Lieutenant's left hand, holding it up and putting it over the side of the toilet bowl. The Lieutenant probably knew what was coming and so started struggling, weakly though, so Hanley could easily hold him at his mercy.

      "You wouldn't…"

      "I would," Hanley replied, standing up from his crouched position and holding the Lieutenant up. Sticking Trautmann's hand into the empty toilet and holding it there via the forearm, Hanley reached over to the switch on top of the toilet and prepared to flick it. He could sense the fear in Trautmann, especially noticeable in his facial expression and voice.

      "One last chance, Lieutenant," Hanley said, "tell me where Bill's

      "I…I…don't know…"

      "Bullshit," Hanley replied, flicking the switch.

      The whirring began, the inside of the toilet heating up rapidly. At first it was endurable, the Lieutenant closing his eyes as his vulnerable hand was held firmly in place by Hanley's vice-like grip, although Hanley's grip was a safe distance away from the inside of the bowl. Then the heat suddenly piked up to such a temperature that the Lieutenant screamed,

      Hanley putting his free hand over the Lieutenant's mouth, muffling his screams of agony. For about a minute this continued, the Lieutenant trying to break free but in such a position that it was far too difficult to even break out of the Colonel's grip.

      Pulling out the Lieutenant's now charred, smoking hand, Hanley threw the man aside, letting him cry and hold his now useless hand with his unaffected one.

      Hanley switched off the toilet, stepping out of the cubicle and watching with slight amusement as the Lieutenant stood up and went bolting out of the tent. Stepping outside, Hanley stood watching as the Lieutenant went running towards his parked quad-bike, using his normal hand to start the engines. He went speeding towards a nearby gate, crashing through it carelessly and getting knocked flat off his bike by one half of the gate.

      Laughing loudly, Hanley started towards the knocked down gate as the Lieutenant climbed back onto his feet, his quad-bike speeding out into the desert without him. Trautmann started running out onto the open desert plains, obviously preferring to try his luck in the harsh climate than with the Colonel.

      A few soldiers stood watching this all unfold, surprised at how the Colonel wasn't acting in any way to stop the Lieutenant from escaping. The Colonel was now just outside the gate, looking out at the desert plain which had scattered clumps of desert plants on it, dotting the horizon for miles. The Lieutenant was running at a rather slow pace, limping because of an injury he received after falling off his bike. He was cradling his charred hand from what Hanley could see, so he decided to take a moment to think about whether or should let the Lieutenant go or not.

      Un-holstering his pistol, Hanley took his time to unfold the foldable stock, using his left hand to take an attachable scope out of his pocket and clip it to the weapon. Taking aim, he took into account the distance and elevation of the escaping Lieutenant thanks to the readouts provided by the weapons sensors and displayed inside the scope. There was hardly any wind, so he didn't need to worry too much about wind direction and wind speed.

      The gun kicked back slightly in his hands as he squeezed the trigger. The Lieutenant dropped into the sand suddenly, not getting back up, a red smear appearing on the back of his uniform. Lowering the weapon, Hanley carefully removed the scope and folded the stock, twirling the pistol around in his right hand and fluidly sliding it into his holster.

      Behind him, the group of rebel soldiers that had been watching him started clapping, just for the fun of it. Hanley turned around and nodded in acknowledgement of the attention they were giving him and smiled.

      It would be a long day, he could tell. He just wasn't sure how long of a day it would be. Using his sleeve to wipe the sweat from his brow, he found that he felt strangely calm, having just been furious a few minutes ago. For now his plans were on the backburner special thanks to Bill Carson and his friends. Soon enough he would start on his hunt for the escaping Major, but until their radios were working again this little camp was cut off from the rest of their forces stationed on the planet.

      Finding Bill would be the easy part. The Major would probably hide the artefacts somewhere if he couldn't get off-world, so finding where they're hidden would be difficult. Well, Hanley was always up for a challenge and he would have a lot of help from his troops if they didn't decide to betray him as well. Smiling to himself, Hanley started back to his tent. He would read some more of that textbook, just to pass the time away. He was curious as to what else it said about him and his organization, although he doubted it mentioned how much of a badass he thought he was.

Note: This chapter wasn't a recommended read unless you have read the "Excavation" chapter, since this is more or less the second half of the chapter.