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       Prototypes, p.1

           J.R. Martin
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  Copyright 2012 by Jason R. Martin

  Chapter 1

  Sergeant Bill Massey was tired. He was approaching the end of his three year duty assignment, and he had had enough. His assignment to research and development facility RD3-Omega (RD3-O) out in the Kuiper belt had not lived up to his expectations. He had hoped that a successful assignment to RD3-O would bolster his career and fast track him into a quick promotion. After almost three years out in the middle of nowhere, he had realized that there would be no fast tracking.

  He had come to understand this a few months after his assignment. He had been contacted via long range communique by an old friend, Sgt. Valentine “Val.” Val had consoled him on his unfortunate assignment to the Kuiper belt. Sgt. Massey replied that he didn't know what Val was talking about. He had chosen this assignment and was happy with it so far. Val had gone on to tell him over several messages the truth about his situation.

  RD-3 Omega was a hardship assignment. It was considered a hardship simply because of its isolated location. It was also a place to send miscreants and misfits to get rid of them. As well as a certain Sergeant who was too outspoken. Val told him that he had overheard his former commanding officer talking about him. He had overheard him say that he was happy that Massey was finally out of the way. Sgt. Massey had some previous disagreements with his former commanding officer. He didn't think any of them had deserved banishment however. Some young officers just couldn't take constructive criticism. Apparently his old commanding officer had felt too threatened to keep him around. He had made RD3-O seem like the perfect assignment. Sgt. Massey had trusted the little weasel and gotten stabbed in the back.

  Val had told him in his final communication to try and take vacation. He was sure that he would not be allowed to leave. Sgt. Massey had accumulated several months of vacation time that he hadn't used. He requested vacation time as Val had said. He was abruptly informed that his vacation time had been refused. Due to the nature of the research and development going on at RD3-O, he was not allowed to leave the facility for security reasons. He would only be allowed to leave when his three year assignment was over. Val was right. He had been banished to the Kuiper belt.

  The RD3-O facility was located inside a large asteroid. It was a relatively small facility, consisting of five levels. The upper two levels were dedicated to housing and exercise facilities. Scientists and security personnel spent their time there when not on duty. The lower three levels were for research and development.

  The very bottom level (level one), referred to as the basement, had restricted access. Marines were allowed to maintain security checkpoints on level one, but not allowed access to the labs. The doors to the labs on level one stayed locked at all times. Sgt. Massey had been given a tour of the facility at the beginning of his assignment. He had been briefed by Dr. Guitenberg, the facility's chief scientist. The Doctor had told him what his duties would be as the facility's new security chief. He would have full access to all locations, except level one. Sgt. Massey had objected saying he needed unrestricted access. The Doctor had assured him that level one was secure. There was no further discussion on the matter.

  Dr. Guitenberg was a recluse. Sgt. Massey had heard him referred to by some of the junior scientists as brilliant, but somewhat odd. Unlike the other scientists he lived and worked on level one. He rarely came out and seldom socialized with the other scientists. He was devoted to his work in every way.

  RD3-O was dedicated to providing the Fleet Marine Striker Battalion (FMSB) with new androids and robots of various types. Sgt. Massey would occasionally see prototypes around the facility. He had grown to have a real appreciation for what the scientists were accomplishing here. RD3-O had been a tough assignment though, and he would be glad when it was over.

  All these thoughts and others went through Sgt. Massey's mind as he walked the corridors.

  When he arrived at Security Checkpoint Five, the seat at the console was empty. Private First Class Pollard was on duty and should be there. Even though RD3-O wasn't near the front lines, all marines were still required to wear full combat armor while on duty. Sgt. Massey activated his helmet's short range communications system and tried to contact PFC Pollard.

  “PFC Pollard, report!” There was no answer. “PFC Pollard, report! Where are you?” Sgt. Massey said. There was still no answer.

  PFC Pollard had been a problem ever since he had arrived at RD3-O. Like most of the marines under his command, he had been sent here as punishment. He had a bad attitude and simply didn't care. Every marine had a tracking beacon built into his armor. The beacon was always turned on for security reasons and couldn't be disabled. Sgt. Massey viewed PFC Pollard's location in his helmet's virtual display (HVD) and located him in a nearby restroom. A marine could not leave his post unless he was properly relieved by another marine. This was a standing order that all marines knew. Sgt. Massey left the security station and went to have a discussion with young PFC Pollard.

  Chapter 2

  Sgt. Massey left the security checkpoint and walked the short distance down the corridor to the restroom. He entered to find PFC Pollard's helmet and weapon sitting on the counter next to the sink.

  Sgt. Massey engaged his external helmet speaker and said, “PFC Pollard, are you in here?”

  There was silence for a moment then a voice responded, “Who's there?”

  “It's Sgt. Massey, why aren't you at your post?”

  PFC Pollard exited one of the stalls. He walked nonchalantly toward the sink to wash his hands. “I've been sick at my stomach. It must have been something I ate,” PFC Pollard replied.

  Sgt. Massey gritted his teeth. He knew that PFC Pollard was lying to him. He had pulled this kind of stunt before. He watched the PFC as he washed his hands in a relaxed manner, humming a little tune to himself.

  Sgt. Massey snapped. He rushed forward and grabbed the PFC by the back of the neck. He forced his head down into the sink and said, “You listen to me, Pollard!! I'm only going to say this once!!” PFC Pollard squirmed trying to get free, but Sgt. Massey's grip was like a vise around his neck. “If you ever leave your post again without being properly relieved, you will spend the rest of your time here in the brig!! Do you understand me!!”

  “Yes, Sergeant!!” PFC Pollard replied, his head still in the sink.

  Sgt. Massey leaned down close to PFC Pollard's ear and said quietly, “Good, now that I've got your attention, here's what's going to happen. When I let you go, you’re going to put your helmet on your head, your weapon in your holster and stand at attention. Is that perfectly clear?”

  “Yes, Sergeant!!” PFC Pollard replied.

  “Good,” Sgt. Massey said quietly. He waited a few more seconds, then he released the private and yelled, “Do it now!! Move!!”

  PFC Pollard quickly stood up and did as he was told. Sgt. Massey looked at the PFC standing at attention in front of him. At least his armor was clean Sgt. Massey thought. It was constructed of a charcoal gray metal alloy with black flexible joints. His PFC rank was embossed in black on the left side of his chest, his last name embossed on the right. Every marine’s armor was carefully inspected before his duty shift. At least he couldn't mess that up, Sgt. Massey thought.

  “Now,” Sgt. Massey began in a hushed voice. “Go back to your duty station and prepare for inspection.”

  “Yes, Sergeant!!” PFC Pollard replied.

  “Move!!” Sgt. Massey ordered.

  Security Checkpoint Five was located just outside the elevator entrance to the top surface. The RD3-O facility was located inside asteroid S223-M. The facility went entirely through the small asteroid. Even though level one was referred to as the basement, it really wasn't. Men needed these linear references in everyday life for some reason. Leve
l one was near the surface of the asteroid too, the bottom surface. There wasn't an elevator or any direct access from level one to the surface. The only access to the bottom surface was via the airlock on level two then through the hangar bay. Transport shuttles were located in the hangar bay as well as a security checkpoint. Security checkpoints were located on every level of the facility. PFC Pollard was standing at attention in front of Security Checkpoint Five when Sgt. Massey arrived.

  “PFC Pollard ready for inspection, Sergeant,” PFC Pollard said.

  “Give me your weapon,” Sgt. Massey ordered.

  PFC Pollard removed his pistol from its holster. He checked to make sure the safety was engaged and handed it over. The standard medium bolt pistol was a good dependable weapon. It was carried by every marine at all times. Even when a marine was off duty, he never went anywhere without his bolt pistol. Sgt. Massey inspected the pistol carefully for cleanliness or any sort of damage. PFC Pollard remained standing at attention. When Sgt. Massey was satisfied that the pistol was in good order, he gave it back. PFC Pollard took the pistol and placed it back in its holster.

  “Now,” Sgt. Massey said. “Let's have a look at your security console.”

  PFC Pollard moved to the side, but remained at attention. Sgt. Massey stepped forward and said, “At ease, have a seat.” PFC Pollard sat down at the security console. Sgt. Massey looked over the security console with an experienced eye.

  “External security cameras three, four and five are not functioning. How long have they been non-operational?” Sgt. Massey asked.

  “What!!” PFC Pollard exclaimed. “When I left for the restroom everything was fine!”

  “Run camera systems diagnostic,” Sgt. Massey ordered.

  Several seconds passed as the diagnostic programs checked the camera systems. Then PFC Pollard said, “Diagnostic results show that the cameras are non-functional.”

  “Launch security probe,” Sgt. Massey ordered.

  “Launching...wait negative, probe reports unable to launch,” PFC Pollard said.

  “Red Alert!!” Sgt. Massey yelled as he activated the red alert warning system that would alert the rest of the facility. “Possible security breach at Security Checkpoint Five!”

  The external camera systems were linked to the fixed laser cannons outside the elevator entrance. If the cameras were deactivated, the fixed laser cannons were disabled until they were manually reset. They defended the elevator entrance and the deep space communications array on the top surface. If the communications array was damaged or destroyed the facility was unable to contact anyone. They were essentially cut off and alone. Sgt. Massey had to get to the surface immediately.

  Chapter 3

  When a security breech was reported several things happened at once. All security checkpoints were to verify they were secure. When a checkpoint didn't verify it was secure, a react team was immediately deployed to deal with the possible threat. Sgt. Massey looked at his HVD and the security console to verify that each checkpoint was reporting secure. One by one each checkpoint confirmed secure except Checkpoint Zero in the hangar bay. Sgt. Massey activated his communications system to contact Checkpoint Zero.

  “Checkpoint Zero, confirm secure!” Sgt. Massey ordered forcefully. “Checkpoint Zero, confirm!!”

  There was no answer for a long moment then a strained voice responded, “Negative!! Negative!! Checkpoint Zero is not secure!!” Sustained heavy laser fire and explosions could be heard in the background as the voice continued, “The hangar's blast doors have been breached!! Two security droids are down!! Request immediate reinforcements!!”

  “Acknowledged!!” Sgt. Massey replied. He quickly checked his HVD to verify the react teams response time. “React Team One is in route, eta two minutes!!” Who was attacking them? What was going on? Sgt. Massey thought to himself.

  Behind every checkpoint was a weapons locker and alcoves containing five security droids. Combat droids were not used in the fleet marine force. Why that was, Sgt. Massey didn't know. The fleet used droids for manual labor and other menial tasks, but not as combat soldiers. RD3-O, being a research facility and dedicated to droid research, didn't adhere to fleet guidelines in that respect. Robots and droids did anything and everything here. This was a facility on the cutting edge. Sgt. Massey thought it probably represented the future of things to come.

  The security droid's deep blues eyes lit up as they awakened from their slumber behind Security Checkpoint Five. They stood eight feet tall with broad shoulders and narrow hips. They were dark gray in color constructed of a hard metal alloy. Their checkpoint number and individual designations were embossed on each of their chests in black. As they stepped down from their alcoves, their leg servos whined in protest. Their massive forearm laser weapons hummed with power. They all turned simultaneously to look at Sgt. Massey. Droid 5-1 asked in its deep metallic voice, “Orders, Sgt. Massey?”

  “Secure this checkpoint,” Sgt. Massey ordered. The five droids stepped forward into defensive positions and raised their weapons. Sgt. Massey and PFC Pollard quickly accessed the weapons locker and each withdrew a variable laser rifle (VLR). The VLR was a good weapon for enclosed places. Its laser pattern could be adjusted to a wide or narrow beam depending on the distance to the target. As Sgt. Massey closed the weapons locker, React Team Two arrived. Cpl. Ferguson the team leader was accompanied by five react team security droids. The react team droids were similar to the security checkpoint droids except they were all black in color. “React” was embossed on each of their chests in white as well as their team and designation number. All of their forearm mounted laser weapons hummed with power as they stepped up beside Sgt. Massey.

  “Cpl. Ferguson, your team is with me. We're going to the surface,” Sgt. Massey said.

  “Understood Sgt. Massey,” Cpl. Ferguson and his team replied in unison.

  The team followed Sgt. Massey to the nearby elevator. He placed the palm of his hand on the control panel and the doors slid open. They all quickly entered, the doors closing behind them. Sgt. Massey was about to address the react team when his communications system activated. It was Cpl. Long the leader of React Team One in the hangar bay.

  “Sgt. Massey we are under attack by a large force of enemy soldiers. We have repelled the initial attack, but the hangar bay doors have been damaged and are unable to be closed. The fixed laser cannons on the surface are currently off line, we are reactivating them manually,” Cpl. Long said. He paused for a moment, Sgt. Massey could hear weapons fire in the background, then he continued, “Checkpoint Zero has lost two security droids and I have lost one, please advise.”

  “Understood Corporal, hold your position, all available reinforcements are on the way,” Sgt. Massey said.

  At least they knew what to expect when they reached the surface. The enemy was here, they had found them in the Kuiper belt.

  Chapter 4

  All available marines and security droids from the lower levels were sent to reinforce the hangar bay. Sgt. Massey hoped they would be able to hold their own down there. He didn't know what they would encounter when they reached the surface. He could bring up a few reinforcements if needed, but most likely he wouldn't do that. If they were too vastly outnumbered they would fall back into the facility and start evacuation procedures. Sgt. Massey started giving orders as they neared the surface.

  “I'll take droids One and Two with me and break left out of the elevator. Cpl. Ferguson you take droids Three, Four and Five and break right. I will reactivate the fixed laser cannons and slave them to my HVD as quickly as I can,” Sgt. Massey said.

  “Understood, Sgt. Massey,” replied the react team.

  The three fixed laser cannons were located near the elevator exit. Each twin barreled laser cannon stood twenty feet tall with a heavily armored capsule shaped main body, for support. They could rotate 360 degrees to cover all avenues of approach. Somehow the enemy had deactivated them and breached their security measures. They would have to be reactivate
d as soon as possible to give them a fighting chance.

  Sgt. Massey snaked a thin tether cable from his armor and attached it to the back of security droid Number One. The gravity on the surface of the asteroid was minimal. Attaching himself to the heavy droid would give him stability. It drastically reduced his chances of losing his footing and flying off the surface. The security droid felt the cable being attached to its back and turned to regard Sgt. Massey.

  “I am tethered to you, Number One. Stay close to me,” Sgt. Massey ordered.

  “Acknowledged,” Number One replied in its deep metallic voice.

  Cpl. Ferguson tethered himself to security droid Number Three in the same manner.

  “Standby to deploy, twenty seconds to the surface,” Sgt. Massey ordered. The elevator slowed and came to a smooth stop. The doors slid open revealing the pocked surface of the asteroid and several enemy soldiers. The soldiers in their red and gold armor stood near the entrance. The opening doors had momentarily caught them by surprise. It was obvious what they were up too. They were preparing to blow the doors open and descend down the elevator shaft.

  The slight element of surprise was all Sgt. Massey and his team needed. Sgt. Massey and his droids sprinted to the left firing their weapons on full auto. Sgt. Massey took down several enemy soldiers himself. Droids One and Two were also extremely lethal. They made exacting kills with every shot. The three of them hit the ground a short distance from the elevator entrance. They took cover in a large crater and laid down heavy fire on the enemy soldiers. Sgt. Massey took a moment to look back at the elevator entrance. To the left and right of the entrance where the security cameras were supposed to be was just melted rock. The security probe alcoves were also completely melted. Apparently the enemy had located them from a long distance away. They had destroyed them with some sort of laser or incendiary device. That explained why the laser cannons were inoperable.

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