Read Orbital Decay Online

Authors: A. G. Claymore

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Horror, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Genetic Engineering, #Hard Science Fiction, #90 Minutes (44-64 Pages), #Post-Apocalyptic, #Science Fiction

Orbital Decay (5 page)

BOOK: Orbital Decay
12.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
A Pat on the Head

From
:
Steering23@(withheld).com

 

To
:
[email protected]

 

CC
:
Oversight23@(withheld).gov
;

 

Subject
: Progress of Project Chronos – Lockdown support team.

 

We appreciate measures taken by your team to maintain contact during what has to be a very difficult time. Dr. Davis has been located and is no longer a concern in the ongoing containment efforts.

 

We have re-allocated a team of containment specialists from duties at the Virgin Xanadu. They should arrive at your facility shortly. Please have all remaining staff ready to meet them in your shuttle bay for a full debrief.

 

Thank you, Dr. Young, for your efforts. We’ll take it from here.

 

Steering Committee Member 7

Project 23

 

Tartarus Station

Low Earth Orbit

 

“W
hat the hell was that?” The pilot, still in his seat, leaned around the bulkhead as Ben walked up the shuttle’s back ramp. “Who the hell are you?” His eyes widened as Ben aimed the large bore of his .45 between them.

“We’re the people you came here to kill,” Ben began conversationally. “So you’ll understand if I don’t have much use for you, aside from launching this bird right now.”

“Look, son,” the pilot replied in a surprisingly calm voice, “you don’t realize who you’re up against. Just calm down and wait for the rescue team to get back from looking for you.”

“Oh my God,” Brown exclaimed. “They really did come here to rescue us?” He turned an accusing look on Ben. “You were going to strand them up here.”

Dwight pulled a small tablet out of his pocket, handing it to Brown. “Before you get your head all the way up your ass, Tim, you might want to look at the last email we got from the surface.”

Brown looked down at the screen for a few seconds. “Don’t see how this changes anything.” He looked up at Dwight. “If anything, it backs up what the pilot is saying…”

“Bullshit,” Dwight cut in harshly. “
Containment specialists
that show up with assault weapons?” He shook his head. “They were coming to contain
us
. They wanted us all lined up down here so they could just land, shoot us all, and get home in time for dinner.”

“Enough arguing,” Ben growled, still looking at the pilot. “Are you ready to launch?”

No answer.

“Dwight, watch the co-pilot.” Ben stepped back waving with his pistol. “The pilot has decided to stay behind with the containment team.”

The pilot looked up at Ben for a brief moment, as if trying to judge whether he was serious. He finally got up and started toward the ramp. He stopped at the bulkhead and nodded to a locker built into the panel. “Can I at least take my sidearm? It didn’t sound very friendly when the team went down that hallway.”  

“Just get out.” Ben jerked his head toward the rear ramp and, as the pilot started moving, he opened the small locker. Inside were Berretta 9-mm handguns on black belts as well as some assault rifles. He took a pistol out, drawing the weapon and throwing the belt and magazines to the floor at the base of the ramp.

The pilot watched in silence as Ben removed the slide from the top of the weapon and pulled out the spring assembly and barrel. He threw the parts to random locations in the large shuttle bay. He tossed the lower part of the weapon to the middle of the floor.

“I’ll try to send someone back for you.” Ben shrugged. “I would suggest you gather whatever food you can and wait here in the bay.” He turned to the young woman who had been arguing with Brown. “Miss, what’s your name?”


Miss
,” she laughed dully. “That’s what really has me believing you. We’re all single – loners. If we disappear, nobody’s gonna ask a lot of questions.” She shook her head. “Sorry – Sarah, Dr. Sarah Mendel.”

“Sarah, you know how to use that thing?” He nodded at the Glock .45 ACP in her hand.

“Yeah,” she answered with a nod. “After the Dactari hit the Mars colony, I’ve kept a small armory in my condo.” She hefted the weapon. “Took this from Dr. Narcisse’s desk after he… used it.”

“Well, Sarah, if he moves,” Ben waved a hand toward the pilot, “you got any problems with pulling the trigger?”

“After the week I’ve been having,” she said, “and considering how he brought a team here to kill me – yeah, I’m comfortable with pulling the trigger.”

Ben left her to watch the pilot and moved back to the cockpit, dropping into the empty, port side seat. “So,” he began, buckling in, “I’m a terrible pilot, to say the least.” He looked over at the co-pilot. “You can earn your trip off this infected shit-hole by flying for us or you can stay here and take your chances with a superbug that’ll turn you into a brain-dead walking corpse within hours.”

Ben had absolutely no idea how to fly a shuttle, or anything else for that matter, but it wouldn’t do to let the co-pilot know he was indispensable. He had to believe that he couldn’t get away with anything. The bluff seemed to work.

“I’m good with flying,” the co-pilot answered earnestly. “Anywhere you want to go.”

“Good.” Ben nodded. “We’ll start with Chicago.”

“Just came from there,” the man replied. “Whole downtown is under quarantine. It’s a no-fly zone. Anything tries to get past I-294, it gets an ass-full of lead.”

Ben cursed. Lise and little Brendan lived in the family house in Calumet, just inside I-294. He had a plan, an idea of where they could go, but he needed to get them first. They were inside the quarantine. He looked over at the co-pilot suddenly. They had often passed the I-294 on their way to visit the Cook County Forest Preserve.

There was a way past the cordon.

“You know where Wampum Lake is?”

A blank look.

“Never mind, just head for Chicago. It’ll be on the south side of the quar…”

“Got it,” the man cut Ben off, pointing at the nav screen. “Just south of the cordon.”

The Roaches Always Survive

From
:
Steering23@(withheld).com

 

To
:
Oversight23@(withheld).gov
;

 

CC
:

 

Subject
: Decommissioning of Project Chronos

 

It’s now clear that this project has escaped positive control. Early signs of outbreak are appearing in at least fifteen major population centers around the world and it seems unlikely that the spread will be contained any time soon, if ever.

 

I urge all committee members to act on the emergency protocols before the expanding military cordons trap you within your cities.

 

The un-infected population sample aboard our invasion fleet may now be the only hope for Humanity’s future. It will be our duty to provide leadership to the returning stock once this outbreak has run its full course.

 

Tell your families to expect at least a year in close quarters.

 

Steering Committee Member 7

Project 23

 

Chicago

200 feet above Wampum Lake

 

T
hank God!
Ben felt a surge of relief. There were canoes at the jetty. They came to a gentle landing on the roadbed, thirty feet from the dock.

“Looks like the troops were loading up over by the 394 cloverleaf.” The co-pilot looked over at Ben. “Might be pulling back to lock down the whole damn city. Bet they’ll keep patrolling the 294 until they’re set up, though.” He got up and stretched as he followed Ben into the back where the ramp was already coming down. “So, what’s the plan?”

Ben took a deep breath. Fresh, cool autumn air, tinged with the musty smell of drying leaves.
I hope they’re at home.
He nodded down the hill to where the small boats were tethered. “I’m gonna take one of those canoes and paddle down Thorn Creek. It’ll take me under the I-294 and all the way to a street I can follow to my house.” He looked around at the faces. People who trusted him to have a plan. A way out of this mess. “Five, maybe six hundred yards and a couple of fences to jump and I’ll be in my back yard.”

He paused. “It’s a quarter mile on the creek, may have to move slow on the streets… Give me a couple hours at least before you take off.”

“You’ll get all the time you need,” the co-pilot said, taking off his headset and tossing it in the back of his aircraft. “I’m coming with you.”

Ben looked at the man as though he had just sprung up from the ground. “You were trying to kill me a couple of hours ago, and now you want to watch my back?”

“No,” the man answered slowly. “I was
carrying
the men who wanted to kill you, and it was a mission handed to me by my superiors a few hours ago. All I knew was that I had to fly a team up to the hotel and the regular co-pilot was out with stomach flu.” He held up both hands in a gesture of surrender. “I know, that’s not much of a distinction, but I was doing my job as much as any B5 pilot. It was nothing personal, at least on my side of things, and it looks like the government that generated those orders has more to worry about than you, assuming they even exist anymore.”

“A little extreme, don’t you think?” Brown frowned. “It may take extreme measures, but…”

“But what?” the man in black demanded in soft tones. He gestured to the hill behind them. Somewhere beyond, heavy diesel engines were revving to life. “The Army is pulling back, but it won’t help. Do you have any idea how many cities have become no-fly zones since I left here a few hours ago? My notification panel is crammed full of advisories.”  

He shook his head. “The only way to stop this would have been to nuke Chicago the minute it became clear that one of your staff was running loose down here. You really think anyone would have pulled the trigger on that idea?”

Ben’s skin crawled. “The Bureau’s been running with a terrorist story for the last few days. Could’ve been set up as a straw man if they decided to use a nuke.”

“It’s a safe bet our government’s failed us,” the co-pilot added. “Which brings me back to you.” He turned to Ben. “I’ve got a nice shiny aircraft and no place to fly it. I got a feeling you have some kind of plan beyond getting your family out of Chicago.”

All eyes were on Ben again. He sighed, looking down. “It’s a long shot, but I learned about a place, back when I was working in intercepts for the NSA.” He waved a hand. “We can talk about it when I get back. My family’s in there,” he said, nodding toward the highway, “and I need to get to them before it’s too late.”
If it’s not too late,
 he didn’t say aloud.

“Like I said, you’ve got a plan.” The man in black held out his hand. “If you’re willing to let the past be the past, then I’d like to come help you bring your family out. My ID might help if we run into a patrol.” He shrugged. “Then again, they might shoot first and ask questions later. Anyway, you’re the only one with any idea of what to do next, and we need to keep you safe.”

Ben tilted his head to the side as he thought it through.
Am I really taking a chance on this guy, if he’s the only chance we have of getting out of here? I probably need him more than he needs me.
He extended a hand. “Ben Marks.”

“Abe Peters.”

Dwight went back into the aircraft, taking a syringe and vial from the cooler. “Abe, if you’re going into an infected area, we’d better give you a shot.” He waved the needle with a theatrical leer.

“What’s in that?” Abe took an involuntary step backwards.

“Same stuff that caused this plague in the first place,” Ben answered with a grin. “It has a one-in-a-hundred chance of mutating and making you into another plague monkey.”  He watched the flyer, gauging his reaction.
No panic, that’s good, at least.
“Of course, if you don’t get a shot, you
will
turn eventually. Also, there’s a side effect that you can’t avoid.”

“And that is?”

“You live for at least a thousand years.”

“No shit?”

“Not even a faint odor of it.”

“Huh!” Abe looked around the group, seeing that nobody was laughing. He took a deep breath and blew it out. “Well, when you pile it all on the scales, it looks like taking the shot is my only real chance. Let’s do it.”

“Yeah, and you’ll ride in the front seat of the canoe,” Ben stated as he watched the needle slide into Abe’s arm.

“Fair enough,” Abe replied mildly. “I’d be useless in the back seat. Never could master a J-stroke.”

“Uh, yeah,” Ben nodded as the one-in-a-hundred chance slid back out of the man’s arm. “That’s what I was thinking…”

BOOK: Orbital Decay
12.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Backwards Moon by Mary Losure
Honky Tonk Christmas by Carolyn Brown
La Casta by Daniel Montero Bejerano
Garden of the Moongate by Donna Vitek
Final Surrender by Jennifer Kacey
Sweet Carolina Morning by Susan Schild