Dirty Work at the Crossroads #1
Another clandestine meeting at a secret Gencol research facility:
“The sample is ready for testing, Comrade Doctor.”
“Thank you Mikhail, I’ll be there in a second. Will you come this way Mr Harkness?”
The two men followed the technician into a small room. After removing their clothing they stepped into an airlock where they were scanned and sprayed with decontaminant. The airlock hissed open and they moved into another room where they donned hazmat gear. Finally they passed through another airlock into a brightly lit, sterile laboratory. The object of their interest sat on a bench, an apparently empty vial hooked up to various testing instruments. The doctor began the exhaustive testing routine. After about an hour and a half he turned and smiled at his companion;
“Excellent, the sample is almost pure. All the readings we have taken register positive and there appear to be no serious problems.”
Harkness smiled “We are in business then, Dr Mendelev?”
“We certainly are, Mr Harkness. When can you deliver the first batch?”
“We have it ready for dispatch as we speak. It will be at the designated rendezvous in two days.”
Two days later a squad of Dragonovs set off to collect the assignment. At approximately the same time an ONI vessel landed and a specially adapted personnel carrier rolled out of the cargo bay. The driver set off towards the prearranged meeting point. As he made his way over the uninhabited planet, the temperature outside began to rise. At first he thought nothing of it. It was a desert planet, for the most part. The goods inside were protected from extremes of heat and cold. Things were OK. The further he travelled, however, the higher the temperature rose. Suddenly red lights were flashing and alarms were sounding. This was definitely not in his job description. He kept going for as long as he could but as he approached a lightly wooded area he collapsed at the wheel and the APC came to a halt. Sweating, clawing at his clothes and retching violently the driver opened the door and collapsed at the side of the road. As he lay there a strange metamorphosis began to overcome him. His skin took on a grey colour and his hands became claws. His teeth resembled those of a wild animal and his eyes reddened. He was turning into a zombie. Dah dah! (Cue dramatic music).
The Dragonov unit had been tracking the vehicle and were puzzled as to why it had stopped. They made their way carefully to its last known location and approached with caution. They could see nothing untoward and fanned out. The sergeant and one other headed towards the vehicle. Two of the commandos infiltrated through a sparsely wooded area ahead of the vehicle and a fifth man took position at the rear, covering the sergeant's back. They were surprised by a unit of steel troopers who appeared from nowhere. No one had said anything about any opposition. Someone in intelligence hadn’t been doing their job! The sergeant cursed under his breath. After a fierce firefight the Dragonovs won the day and drove their prize to the secret Gencol base unaware of the driver’s fate.
As the vehicle left the scene of the fight one of the UNA bodies began to twitch, the another and a third until all five stood up. They shambled around aimlessly, more victims of the compromised consignment. They were not the last. The Dragonovs succumbed soon afterwards and Gencol headquarters lost contact with their secret facility.