It was a surprise when Jame’s face plate exploded. and his lifeless body spun backwards against the processor bulkhead. There was a stunned silence.
Over the communications band, an unidentified voice made an an announcement.
“This situation does not involve you. We offer you free passage to your Hopper if you lay down your weapons and hand over Streen. Come on out.”
Though the adjacent buildings and processor facilities they could see vacc suited figures making their way towards them – and they were armed.
“There’s a shit load of them” said Jonas. “Sorry Mr. Streen but maybe we have no choice”.
“Whatt!!” exclaimed Streen. “They murdered James!”
“He’s right man” said Spyder. “Normally I’d be the first to save my own skin, but we ‘re witnesses to them murdering an innocent guy. The Feds aren’t going to like them for that. Better no witnesses and an accident.”
""This is F*****g stupid" muttered Marcus, eyeing the WTV which was parked some distance away, behind a series of solar arrays and a series of domed comms relay boosts.
“Fine. Fine” mumbled Jonas. “I’ll stall them a bit, start creeping towards the WTV.”
“Hey guys let’s be reasonable….” started Jonas. Meanwhile the others started to weave between the solar panels, most of them -especially Jake and Spyder – having considerable trouble in the micro gravity.
A handful of miners appeared from behind the processor, wielding pistols and one of them a shotgun.
“Stop! And put the guns down!” yelled one of them, raising his weapon.
“The Hell with it” thought Marcus, and shot him. He spun backwards out of control. Chaos ensued.
Considering his total unfamiliarity with both low gravity and vacc suits, Jake made a miraculous shot which badly wounded the spokesman, sending him scurrying for cover.
“Right” he thought. “That’s my contribution. I’m off.” Without his rifle, it was probably the best thing to do.
While Jonas and Marcus took a few potshots at their attackers, the others started to stumble southwards. Streen, who was unarmed, made steady progress towards cover, but Spyder and Jake had considerable difficulty, spinning wildly out of control. Jake fared slightly better as he tended to keep close to the panels, holding onto them, but Spyder attempted to run across to a main spur of the processor, which blocked the views of anyone who might be approaching from the east. Beyond this was a series of buildings, which might provide cover towards the parking place of the WTV.
Paul, in contrast, moved like a gazelle. The microgravity seemingly provided him with few movement difficulties at all. As a teenager he had played a considerable amount of zero g Dodgeball, in one of the many Recreation Halls catering to the new wave of zero g sports, and he had attempted to keep up with this when he had a bit of spare time. He was a natural.
Given the mixed ability of their group, he realised that their survival depended on reaching the WTV before they were swamped; consequently after a couple of fruitless shots he focused on moving quickly southwards and eastwards through the cover, and then circling round to their vehicle.
Spyder’s luck was out; as he peeked round the spur he saw maybe a dozen more assailants approaching from the buildings to the east. They also saw him, as well as Doc. Orlov and the others scrambling between the arrays to the west of him, and they started to fire.
Spyder hit the ground and started to fire, causing a hit which unfortunately the miners self sealing systems soon took care of. In the arrays some of the others started to return fire, sporadically, but the general movement was towards fleeing southwards.
Paul was well among the comms relays now, and making good progress. Jake, after a series of spinning mishaps was moving slowly but safely southwards. Jonas and Marcus were taking the odd potshots and then moving, to the extent that the initial group of pursuers from the north were now routed. The main body however, were to the east, and these focused fire on Doc. Orlov, Jake, and especially Spyder.
Prone on the ground, Spyder was now getting isolated and was a prime target. He was also closer to many of the shooters, who were armed only with pistols. At least he was wearing the Arianne Modelle 81 Vacc Armor they had retrieved from the Joyeuse, which afforded him better protection and sealing. It was just as well, as bullets started to slam into him. He was not badly wounded, but the sealant systems would not hold out forever and then – a horrible death.
Spyder’s position was made worse by one of the miners who had jumped above him onto the spur, and who was firing downwards onto his prone form at almost point blank range. he panicked and started to spin helplessly as he started to get up – a sitting duck.
For the others things were not quite as bad. Paul had reached the WTV, and was starting to drive it around the southern end of the comms arrays and slightly to the west of the group, where they could embark. Jake continued to make slow progress, while Marcus and Jonas were safely located behind the domed ridge of one of the arrays, firing down from a prone position.
Doc Orlov was lower down, and a fortunate shot from her took out the sole rifleman, and the groups more accurate volume of fire now started to take its toll. Jonas shot the miner looming above Spyder.
Seeing his opportunity Spyder finally managed to regain control, and started a slow progress directly westwards into the solar arrays, putting the spur between himself and most of the shooters.
Paul reappeared with his sniper rifle, as Jake clambered into the WTV and the drivers seat. Jonas moved back to join them. This made a huge difference, as the powerful and accurate SX 90 took down three attackers in as many shots: the remainder scurried for cover as the WTV moved forward to collect Spyder.
Moments later they had escaped.