The order came down from a diplomatic yacht in orbit around the planet, and a team of six commandos was in the air within five minutes. They left from a safe house on the outskirts of Nomaparra in a nondescript bread van type ship that had been discretely upgraded to make it space worthy, but making the upgrades discreet meant it had no heat shielding though so any trip to space would be one way.
An hour into their flight, they killed the lights and dropped down to treetop level. The commandos checked their equipment and went over their orders one last time while they waited for the ship to arrive at the target. Nobody spoke in the last few minutes of the flight. Their intelligence indicated there would be only light resistance, but everyone on board had combat experience. They knew that intelligence is military speak for ‘we think’ and plans are usually the first casualty in combat.
Five kilometers from the target, the ship began to slow down. At a kilometer out, the rear hatch opened. The commandos got to their feet and prepared to move as soon as the ship landed. The ship cleared the last of the trees seconds later and put down a few feet from the front door of the house. The commandos poured out of the back of the ship and got into position to breach the house.
At just that moment a Klavac guard walked around the side of the house. Before the shock of seeing a team of commandos at his front door could fully register on his face, one of them shot him. He stood there for a split second looking at them through already dead eyes before his body fell to the ground.
The point man cut through the door with a laser saw, and the team stormed the house. In the main room, Park, who had been asleep on the floor, woke with a start. One of the commandos shot him in the chest with a tranquilizer and then pinned him to the floor while another bound and gagged him. The other four went to clear the rest of the house in two man teams.
As soon as they cut through the door to the first room, the pop-pop of a pulse gun took down one of the commandos. His partner roared and threw a grenade into the room. An explosion shook the house, and the room burst into flames. The commando charged into the burning room firing his pulse rifle, but the Klavac inside had already been killed in the blast. He yelled something to the rest of the squad in a series of hisses and growls as we walked back into the main room. He put the wounded commando over his shoulder and began to carry him outside.
Smoke was already beginning to fill the house, and flames licked the ceiling through the open doorway. One of the commandos at the door to the other room made a sound like he was coughing up a furball. The door opened, and Bo emerged with a small suitcase.
“Right on time,” he said, “Let’s go.”
On the ship, they strapped the unconscious Park into a seat next to the wounded commando. Bo strapped himself into the other seat next to Park. The pilot lifted off and closed the rear hatch while the rest of the commando team took their seats. The commandos growled and roared as the ship gained speed and altitude.
Fighters launched to intercept them as soon as they entered the no-fly zone above fifty thousand feet. Even with its modifications, the bread van wouldn’t be able to outrun them. By the time they reached ninety thousand feet, the fighters had closed the gap on them. An alarm sounded inside the shuttle, but there was nothing they could do except continue on and hope the cavalry arrived in time.
The cavalry arrived in the form of two impactor projectiles fired from the Frian diplomatic yacht in orbit. The little, high mass bullets tore through the fighters with no warning. With the fighters climbing at nearly fifteen thousand miles per hour and the impactors traveling three times as fast, the devastating impacts set off huge explosions that lit up the Klavaci sky brighter than day. Thousands upon thousands of smoldering bits of fighter and pilot rained down on the countryside.
When they felt the force of the explosions behind them, the passengers in the bread van were sure they had been hit, but they kept climbing up and away from Klavaci. They left the atmosphere behind and kept climbing. The pilot didn’t stop accelerating until it was too late. The yacht came into view and grew quickly in the windshield. The large luxury ship opened its rear landing bay, but they were closing much faster than they should have been.
Park began to regain consciousness as someone was putting a mask over his face. He tried to push the hand away from his face, but his own hands were bound behind his back. He tried to move, but he was tied down. He couldn’t see what was happening or where he was. All he could make out were blurry flashes of color. He blinked to clear his eyes, but it didn’t help. He thought he heard his name. Someone was telling him to stop struggling. Then he felt himself thrown forward into the straps holding him down. That was a sensation he could identify even in a drugged state. Someone was hitting the brakes. Hard.
The pilot did his best to match the speed of the bullet-shaped yacht, but they would still be going to fast. They wouldn’t be docking so much as crashing into it. Nobody would die from the impact, but if they did too much damage to the landing bay or the van they might wish they had. The dockmaster saw that the ship was going to crash and began closing the outer doors just before they came barreling into the landing bay.
The van bounced off the floor and ceiling of the bay with its retrorockets firing all the way. The pilot killed the rockets at the last second before they hit the far wall, and the ship began to ricochet around the room. A crack developed in the windshield. It grew quickly, and then the windshield blew out. The air inside the van vacated in an instant, but the passengers were lucky. The landing bay had already begun pressurizing so they only had to endure a few seconds of vacuum.
As soon as the docking clamps latched onto the commandos’ ship, the dockmaster gave the okay to the captain. It was still being lowered to the floor as the ship left orbit. A squadron of fighters had been dispatched to give chase, but the yacht was well on its way before they could even circumnavigate the planet. When he felt they were beyond reach the captain initiated the artificial gravity, and they barrel rolled into deep space.