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Chapter Twenty Eight – The Eye In The Sky

Back to Chapter Twenty Seven

“White Pawn to King’s four.” Major Ned Collins pushes his pawn forward.

“Black pawn to King’s four.” Doc moves the pawn.

“White pawn to Queen’s bishop four.”

“Ya know, given the tax payer dollars it take to put a gram of cargo into orbit, this must be one of the most expensive chess sets in history. Knight to King’s bishop three.”

The Major scrutinizes the game board with a scowl. “Screw ‘m. They scrubbed my cigars, they can spot us a real magnetic chess set. It’s just not the same thing playing on a tablet. Knight to King’s bishop three.” The computer tablet velcro’d to the table next to the Major’s elbow erupts with a series of bings.

“Oh? What’s up?” The Major keys his thumbprint and the screen lights up.

“They’ve done it! Bippie is uploading data.” He’s scrolling through images with a finger. “Heh, you’ve gotta see some of these photos.” The Doctor unclips himself from his seat and floats around the table with his hands to get a better look.

“What the hell is that? Looks like some kind of giant lizard-chickens?”

“Gotta be a good story about that. The team’s leaving the research Hab. Ooh, looks like the scientists are not happy. Take a look at this guy.” The Major plays an audio clip of Dr. Sanjay yelling insults in Hindi.

“So they didn’t have to shoot their way in or out? Well, that’s good I suppose.”

The Major shrugs. “Meh, either way looks like we hit our target. I’d better report to AWIS.” The Major makes short business of a message back to Earth with quick, economical taps on the tablet. “There. Now we just wait two hours and see what Mr. Super Computer has to say about that.” They both turn back to the game.

about two hours later…

Still absorbed in their game, the two men are bent over the board when the tablet bings again. The Major gives his pouch of Space Marine choco-drink a vigorous shake. “So it begins. Let’s see what AWIS has to say.” He thumbs the tablet and reads out loud.

“Greetings Space Marines, this is Amazon World Information Systems. We have been monitoring your mission on Mars and are pleased to hear that you were able to retrieve the sensitive research without resorting to violence. Your successful mission is a testament to your bravery and skill. Please proceed to the designated landing site where a transport will be waiting to bring you back to Earth. Once again, congratulations on a job well done.”

“Typical AWIS. All heart. What’s in this ‘research’ anyway?”

“I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”

“The food is going to do that eventually anyway.”

“Ah, you don’t want to know, Speedy.”

“Fair enough. What’s for dinner?”

“I found a pizza hidden under Grader’s bunk.”

The Doctor chuckles, “Oh man, he’d be soooo mad.”

The Major grins back at him, “Yeah… imagine the look on his face.”

Speedy’s giggling now. “I can see him turning red, steam coming out of his ears!”

“Yeah, maybe I’ll just put it under my bunk for now.” The pair turns back to the board.

Onward to Chapter Twenty Nine