A blog where Stephanie M. Belser test-drives her fictional stories.
Expect the occasional
"stall, spin, crash & burn".

Friday, March 18, 2011

Import-Export

(Flash-fiction challenge)

Our ship winked out into normal space.  I didn’t barf this time around.  Sometimes I do.  My partner wasn’t so lucky.

I raised Port Control at Garmain Central.  They had no record of a flight plan for us and would have scrambled what passes for their defensive systems if I hadn’t sent them the verification codes.  The alarms were probably going out everywhere, not that it would do any good.  The techs on the Intel Deck had tapped into their comm grids well before they knew we were there.  Port Control said that it would be two hours before they were ready to receive us and they added some choice words about showing up in the middle of the night, local time.

I didn’t acknowledge any of that.  What I did do was tell the duty pilot to start down right the fuck now and to put the defensive systems on quick-react.

Port Control was not happy to see the Trafficking Cops arrive.  We were down planet-side in ten minutes.  What passed for planetary customs control was smart enough not to bother with us.   But they weren’t happy about it, either.

Neither were the local cops.  We were met by some of them, including a woman in a suit who identified herself as Over Commander Gato, who said that she was the shift commander for the city police force.  We had ersatz coffee in a conference room at the port. She complained that she had no idea why we were there.

I made nice politically-soothing noises and tried not to laugh in the process.  Either we had bad information, or the local cops were a) on the take, b) incompetent, c) woefully understaffed or d) just looked the other way.  It was rarely the first reason.

Gato knew who we were.  She knew why we were here.

My secure link buzzed.  It was a text message which said only one word: “Confirmed.”

I sent back: “Immediate execute- execute.”  I excused myself from the meeting and met the lead assault flyer just outside the door.  The craft lifted up as soon as I set foot inside.  I got into my raid gear.

My partner handed me a pad with the schematics for the target.  Good security, but we could overcome them.  This wasn’t our first drill.

He raised his eyebrows.  “OK, step one, now,” I ordered.  Below us, the lights of the city went out as the electrical gird failed.

We neared the target.

“Step two.”

Four fast drones left their flyers and descended around the target.  I could see that power was on in the building from backup generation.  The drones reached position, the tech next to me triggered them.  An EMP blast fired from the drones fried every circuit in the building and probably those for a half a kilometer around.  I looked over the shoulder of the tech at her display, the target showed no power use.  As designed, the drones had blown up when the EMP was triggered.  I touched Bobbie on the shoulder and nodded.  Good shot.

I keyed a mic.  “Standard rules of engagement.  Assault, assault, assault.”  The six assault flyers came in.  Four dropped teams outside of the building and two dropped teams on the roof.  The breachers blew open the doors and all attack teams entered.  Two gunships and two reserve assault flyers orbited the site.

It was all over in minutes.  One trooper had been killed, three wounded.  Ten people inside the building had resisted and had been shot dead, for our ROE required deadly force to counter any resistance.  Word got around.  Many of the raids went off without bloodshed.  This one was different.

Six more people inside the facility were captured.  On the other side of the city, another team had picked up the facility’s owner and the chief doctor.  They were now under arrest and were being brought back to the ship.

I went inside with my partner.  There were rows and rows of growth tanks.  Most of them were filled with gestating embryos.  Nothing to be done for them, they’d all be dead in very short order.  There was a nursery with maybe thirty live babies.  The med team came in once I gave the all clear.  The babies were evacuated back to the ship.  They wouldn’t spend any more time on this shithole of a planet.

Over Commander Gato was outside and furious.  I had her escorted inside.   “There was no need for this,” she sputtered.

I gestured at the tanks.  “Each one of those embryos was worth five hundred thousand credits, and that’s the wholesale price. With the accelerated growth protocols, this place generated at least a hundred million credits a year, gross sales, again, at the wholesale level.  Street price on the barren planets is maybe six times that.”

”But--“

”I’m sure you know, Over Commander, that many of the supplies needed to run a facility such as this are only available off-planet and those are illegal to import.”

“But--“

Post-raid protocols continued as Gato expressed her outrage.  The sappers were laying the demolition charges.  In ten minutes or so, this building would be a smoking crater.

I sighed as Gato continued to sputter and cut her off.  “Garmain signed the Cloning Treaty,” I reminded her.  “Not only cloning, but importation and possession of products used for cloning is as illegal as cloning itself.”  I handed her three sheets of print-out.  “These are the people that we suspect of being involved.  They have four hours from now to surrender themselves to my ship.  It’ll go much harder for them if they don’t.”

Gato nodded, took the papers and stormed off.

She was going to be even less happy to find her name on page two.

2 comments:

flatvurm said...

Interesting world here!

Eck! said...

It has growth potential and a captive audience.


Eck!