|This article, Midnight Storm, was written by KingOfYou115. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
Mark "Spectre" Hudson
|Date Published||23 July 2019|
Midnight Storm is a short story involving the Zakona members Volkova, Shaw, and Hudson as they attempt to infiltrate the second most secure location in UNSC space. Due to a word count limit, Midnight Storm does not show the entire operation.
|October 19th, 2558 (UNSC Military Calendar)
Location: Slipspace aboard the ONI Watcher’s Burden
A featureless black void.
An expanse of nothingness.
Slipspace was beautiful in its own ways. Calming. Reflective. At least, provided you were on the inside of the ship.
“Remind me again why Panda thought this was a good idea!” Spectre shouted from the back of the line.
“ONI is very careful when it comes to stowaways,” Julia called back. “Nobody makes it into the transport without explicit approval.” The transport in question was an ONI prowler of some kind and the only way on or off of the asteroid. The Midnight Facility, ONI’s disappearing act they called a prison, was self-sustaining. Oxygen was produced by on-site biospheres, and food was grown and synthesized in them too. The guards lived within their barracks on site. The only reason to even send ships out to the station was for the transport of prisoners.
Under normal circumstances, that would have been their way inside. Manipulate the circumstances to get one of their men on the inside. But the prisoners were sedated before they even boarded the transport, and their entire body was scanned for trackers. The guards to overlook the transport itself were hand-selected by the station’s AI, and every corner of the ship was searched for any unwelcomed guests hiding in service corridors.
Outside of prisoners, the transports were only used for one other circumstance—and a rare one at that. Visitors. Turns out the captain running the facility was fond of company, and Panda got notice of it.
Maya Sankar. Codenamed FERO. She was involved in the Giraud incident a few months ago, and for some reason was scheduled to meet with the captain today. That gave the team the opening they needed. When the ship came back to drop her off, Zakona made their move.
The team now stood aboard the Watcher’s Burden. Literally. Utilizing electromagnetic systems within the boots of their tac-suits, they stood anchored to the outer-hull of the vessel. Whatever systems were in place to keep the crew of the ship from turning into a paste on the walls when the vessel jumped were also helping keep the infiltration team from being lost in the void of slipspace.
Three men and an AI. Apparently, that was enough to rescue the VIP from the most secure location in the galaxy. “Spectre” Hudson, equipped with one of ONI’s high-tech stealth suits, was tasked with locating the station’s control hub. One door in particular was keeping the inmates from being able to exit their half of the facility, and it was only able to be opened from there.
The rest of the mission was up to Shaw and Volkova.
Stars began to fade into view as the Burden dropped out of slipspace. As the ship approached the asteroid, Julia went over the plan in her head. Shaw gave her a thumbs-up, and Spectre had already vanished. This was going to work.
The prowler had entered the asteroid through a slot in the bottom and was on its way to the hangar within. The tunnel was just as dark and empty as the space outside, but at least it contained an atmosphere. Julia disconnected her oxygen tube from the external EVA life-support system.
The Burden made a heavy thud as its landing gear connected with the floor of the hangar. As the thrusters cooled down, Julia peeked her head over the external framework. The room was massive, with the only contents being the prowler. There was no other way off the station.
Shaw had been keeping an eye on the crew, and he tapped Julia on the shoulder when they had left the hangar with their escort. By now, Spectre was already on his way up the elevator shaft, and all Julia had to do was wait.
A few minutes passed before a high-pitched whine emerged from the speaker system.
«Hitching a ride on the outside of my ship? I’m not sure whether to call you ingenious or flat out stupid. Tell me, why are you here?»
“Hey, you must be Warden Blackwell,” Shaw spoke up in response. They were already discovered, no sense not to start a conversation. He hopped down onto the hangar floor, holding out a hand to help Julia down from the top of the ship. “Visitation. Looking for one of your prisoners. Hoping to get to him before you send him out an airlock. Can you give us directions to block Epsilon?”
Julia brought her rifle to bear and took up a position on the side of the security door. She handed Shaw the breaching kit and he got to work.
«You’re too late for that. I have already requested for Sullivan to clear the containment levels. In just under five minutes, the purge will have already gotten to your friend. Judging by the patches on your shoulders, I’d have to assume you’re here for Mr. Braddock?»
“I don’t know who you’re talking about,” Julia spoke in response. The timer was set. Three seconds.
«You’re a terrible liar, Ms. Volkova.» The AI was most likely running a check against the insignia on her equipment, which would keep him busy. Distracted.
The blast sent the door spiraling down the guard filled hallway as gunfire erupted from both sides. Before Julia could even count how many targets there were, Shaw had already neutralized them all.
The stairwell was on the other end of the labyrinth of medical, maintenance, and security facilities. If it wasn’t for the map overlay on her HUD, Julia would never have found her way to the objective.
Meanwhile, Shaw had his hands full as automated turrets descended from the ceilings. The facility was armed to the metaphorical teeth, and this was just the beginning of it. The base was rumored to have enough firepower to destroy an armada, and Julia knew why.
One step at a time. We’ll disarm it on the way out.