Condition Green!

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ToxicFrog comments:
And here's the latest version of the Nemo Map... Congrats to anyone who gets the reference. Due to scrollbar inducement in those at less-than-insane resolutions, I have removed the inline image and replaced it with this link.
Loweko replies:
That's damn impressive, Toxic.

Part Nine: Terror From The Deep...

Future Nemo Facility, albiet not for much longer...

Oh damn that bulkhead didn't sound good...with myriad microfractures across her flooded internals the entire module was starting to buckle and Jeff still had 43 people down here and where was that sub?!

POST said another six minutes to docking range but they'd lost the emergency airlock they'd been using when the hydraulics had breached and now they were down to a crude exit cut with a laser and held watertight with his and FlyingFish's POSTs and that meant FF couldn't move and there were people trapped in damaged compartments and this thing was going to implode!

Four minutes. Two of the Greens were leaning on the bulging partition wall on this side , fat lot of good it did them. One of them was down with concussion when the airlock compartment had flooded — the shockwaves had torn loose stanchions and nearly imploded their own refuges and oh thank Mari there was a light out there...

* * *

Not for the first time, Kum-El wondered what it might be like to be Hazel Green. All ticking clockwork with that warm exterior she could throw up when she wanted...

The last time the Board had seriously crossed swords with the Dragon, she'd pulled out an ex-Russian Typhoon from somewhere that had the Board seriously revising their threat estimates up. Although that sub was now gracing Jose's labs as a pressure vessel, evidently this new Manta-shaped little vessel indicated she liked the concept. Damn thing had as much armour as a 688! Where the heck had she got it?

Probably built from made-to-order parts from her own in-house industries, and contracted stuff. Small amounts here and there...just like the old Nemo's Nautilus. A few people die or get tickets to the Maximum Fun Chamber, and then you assemble it. Then a few more drop dead, and the Dragon has her submarines...

"Do I want to know what you use this thing for?"

"There have been times when I have needed it."

"I just we're all one happy family you can tell us them, too."

"Oh, you know...inform a certain Korean pirate that no, I and my daughter were not that kind of morning there's a dozen launches containing people with klashnikovs shooting at your yacht..." She spoke briefly to the "pilot"...helm officer? No, that added a slight dose of Fleet to proceedings and the kryptonian really didn't wanna go there...whoever he was, she spoke to him in what sounded like Cantonese and the tiny craft angled up towards the surface. "He saw the error of his ways. I think the groundskeepers use him to rake leaves sometimes, although you do have to only feed him liquids."

Kum-El eyebrowed. The sub's tiny cabin could maybe hold ten if they squashed, and the flotilla of S-Cavs following her in would be packed...but part of the reason for the lack of space was the pair of one-shot torpedo tubes that ran through the hull. He wondered how many of the Green's rivals had had mysterious shipping losses.

Who the hell am I sharing a sub with?!

"Oh, the torpedoes? I've found it's amazing what kind of innovative munitions can be found if you show your scientists around the gardens before setting the deadline."

Stupid question.

* * *

Nemo Upper Rig

"They're docked, Silver..." Laundreu squinted at the rippling window into unreality. "...looks like they're in."

"I can tell."

"AOANLA's gotten into that outer compartment...he should get everyone out from there if his drones hold up."

"I can tell."

"That's one nifty little toy o'hers."

"I can TELL!" Silver irritably cut the "connection" and turned to one of the control tower's open windows to watch the rolling seas, eyes focussing on things that weren't light to track the tiny sub's progress. Any minute now she was going to change course and head for New Guinea with hostages...or maybe pump a torpedo into his rig, or just go silent running until they could send CPOk after her, because dammit the Dragon did not rescue Boardies! Unless she did. In which case he'd have to wonder if Mike shoved her into her own Maximum Fun Chamber...but even so, WHY?

The waters heaved and parted to reveal a small black shape with a stylised green dragon etched into the top. A wake streamed out behind it as the odd little craft moved towards the rig, navigation lights flashing.

Any minute now...

The submersible coasted to a halt in the rig's underside drydock, and Silver cursed as he realise that blocked his field of vision. Rather than clank his way down the superstructure he merely waved a hand and turned the decking transparent to his eyes, the better to watch as the etched dragon's head popped up as some form of hatch...and Flyingfish ducked out, waving the way clear for a stretcher.

And then the upper rig crew, survivors among them, started the applause.

* * *

High Earth Orbit, Funky Horror Briefing One:

As Flax pointed out earlier, there are indeed a limited number of questions one can ask with an assault carrier. Most of them take the form of "....! ....?", although a few are along the lines of "...?!"

Well, thought Wing from the relative comfort of his chair in the third row of Fleet's Main Briefing Hall, a circular auditorium that Wing could tell had seen plenty of active use...this brought back memories. You could stick the entire complex in orbit and replace the P-47s and 51s with ultra-wonder-macnaPhantomDeathstrikes, but when you wanted to tell the pilots stuff you did it the old-fashioned way. Sure, the holoprojectors beat the old maps any day and the seats were better, but it was all familiar territory. His wingmen would have...would still appreciate it.

Someone introduced as Patryn had started the lecture, and depressingly that had been what Wing had marked it down as. Half the information had been filled with snide remarks and weird non-sequiturs, and horror of horrors the guy had spent ten minutes telling them about the Nobility of Duty...then he'd given way to a thoroughly capable-sounding replacement with a Texan accent who'd unveiled maps and filled everyone in on SKID. A charmless bunch, to be sure, but Wing got the impression they paled into insignificance next to this pair of rather pathetic-sounding students the Board seemed to run into a lot. Or at least, his fellow breifees felt they paled into insignificance.

"As far as we know they still operate out of that apartment of theirs, so we'll start there...Haya, you've got the velvet tongs on this one...if Toxic and you lot can't see anything from the air, we'll turn it over to her for ground-pounding. Usual MIB drill, they know us by now..."

There was a chorus of snickers at that, and Wingnut became aware of a whispered conversation behind him, indicating the old art of the grapevine still held sway even up here.

"...Hayasaka on point for the third operation running?"

"...something to do with pouring coffee over Low in the last party thread..."


Behind the muttering, the briefing had moved on — Flax was deferring to another Boardie with what looked like Psi and Computer Ops insignia on the classic black-and-gold of the Fleet. Wing noticed a lot of the audience stirred as he stood up to the podium, and heard the phrase TF bandied about.

"All right, Boardies, tomorrow we get to be AWACS with attitude..." Behind the speaker the SKID insignia that had floated like a bloated avatar of un-niceness blanked — in fact, it didn't blank, a tiny animation of a Board fighter blazed past, strafing the logo until it faded out. "...which means lots of circling while your ships give EW stuff to look at. Pink and Yellow squadrons will be overflight, the Spirit of Texas will be top cover in the unlikely event we need it...I remind you that Mari will not be amused if the cast wake up to find a battlecruiser under their beds - so while we won't be going with strict communications silence, don't call us in unless you really mean it."

"...wait till you see the reds of his eyes..."

"...easier said than done."

"Any questions so far? Yes, Omega?"

If this is just us plinking around the comic, why the ground attack loadouts?" For that matter, why is Pope Woap talking to the ordinance chiefs again?

"Two reasons. One, if that rally we broke up is anything like the other SKID cells Speculation's reporting, they could be packing anything up to dug-in SAM sites...Two, I hate Waldo and Steve."

" we're looking at an Iron Hand operation in the middle of the campus...any more miracles, High Command...?"'

"Yes, Para?"

"Toxic, what exactly are we looking for?"

"Anything that looks like it was brought in by these faux-SKID people. An ammo dump is too much to ask for, but a few marked crates or even the odd prisoner would be excellent. Failing that, something for speculation to work on. Ground teams, don't be afraid to talk to people....or even People. Aside from you, Spam, you start B-movies..."

Wingnut felt/heard one of the other Boardies on his row raise a hand with a rustle of fabric.

"If that's...yes, Haya?"

"Is this free-fire if shooting starts?"


* * *

Ten Minutes Later

Toxic fell into step with Jordanis as they walked, steadily moving towards the central docking bays.Toxic's shipboard boots clicked faintly on the decking, drowning out the softer pads of the jackal's paws. As they walked, they passed the various internal observation bays that looked into the Funky Horror's colossal capital ship hangars, each big enough to house thousands of tons of starship, holding it's occupant like a child's cradle with the smaller shapes of more restrained craft sitting on gantries and ledges, surrounding their more massive brethren. It was a sobering reminder that, really, all of the previous conversation had been for politeness value.

"How's Kira?"

"Fine, thanks for asking. How'd it go?"

"Meh. All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed...especially Pat, and he was giving the briefing."

"Always are, TF. Always are."

"Yeah...but part of me wonders if Steve's chatting like this to Waldo as they hand out the cluster rockets. When'd they get competent, JJ?"

"Pfah. You and I both know who'll be giving the orders to that little private army of darkness."

"I dunno, JJ, Spec hasn't gotten any Foreboding and DC hasn't mentioned anything...but I'm betting we won't like what tomorrow digs up one bit."

* * *

Somewhere Comicside:

Gloves? Maybe. Wind chill was biting at high speeds. Actually...given the whole tendency to catch fire and burn merrily like a signal flare, he'd have to wear gloves anyway.

Something to cover the eyes. They always ached after a while, he'd noticed. Felt like they were trying to grow out of their sockets sideways...hell, maybe they were. Aside from the ultravision, being able to do more with them would have been nice. Would heat vision have been too much to ask?

Still getting the hang of the speed thang, and it wasn't exactly going to be easy to find practice time. Strength...well, that was a given. Despite his best attempts, flight seemed out — dammit.

Well, that was his arsenal. Tomorrow...if that weird guy with the spiky hair had spoken the truth, and he had a weird feeling that he would be Day-Saving time.

Ah well. At least this way he might get the blonde to notice him.

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