Red Alert 4

A red dot blinked on Duran’s vision.  The sword had just picked up the approaching signal.  It was airborne, but low to the ground.  With all the dust getting kicked up, it would still be another minute or two until his computer could resolve an image from all the chaos.

Duran tried to count the seconds in his head, but his breathing was too fast and it threw off his count.  His knuckles turned white as his grip tightened on the sword.

“It’s a nice day for sightseeing.”  The voice crackled with static as it came over the radio.

“Nothing to see here,” Blackstone answered.

They didn’t risk saying anything else over an unencrypted radio frequency.  Everyone relaxed, except for Duran.  He’d been caught in enough traps to never trust code phrases.  He’d believe they weren’t under attack when the ship landed and powered down its engines.

Which is exactly what it did.  Duran’s sword responded to his unspoken command and folded itself back into a thick, compact metal bar that attached itself to his back.  The whirling dust settled enough for Duran to see a helicopter with two sets of spinning blades, one rising out above either side of the aircraft.  Loud and completely lacking in armor from the looks of it.  Exactly what you wouldn’t want to carry you into a rescue operation.

The captain had to kick the door open to climb out and greet them.  Despite being in the sealed compartment, she was still covered in dust.  She lifted up her goggles.  The thin coat of red dust made it look like she had a terrible sunburn.  She eyed the handle sticking up over Duran’s shoulder before turning her gaze to the rest of them.

“So you’re Duran, eh?” she said as she turned back to him.  Duran nodded.  “I’m Valkyrie, you can call me Val.”

“Okay Val,” Duran said.  “We’re ready to go when you are.”

Valkyrie looked at the inner side of her wrist, under her palm.  Her watch was facing that direction.  That was common for military types, but she didn’t have a personal computer on.  Duran didn’t quite know what to make of her.

“We’re gonna need to let my man here cool down a bit before we take off again,” Val said, patting the side of the helicopter.

Great, more delays.  Duran swallowed a comment though and started getting the gear stowed.  If he was going to be stuck in a rickety death trap, he at least wanted to avoid getting the person flying it angry at him.

“So you knew Yellow?”  Val had snuck up behind him when he was carrying the last of their supplies.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Man of few words, I can dig that.  Kind of expected it, fits your rep.”

“My rep?”

“Your reputation.  You’re a legend, man.  You’ve had more people try to arrest you than any ten resistance field agents.”

“What can I say, I’m a popular guy,” Duran said.

“I run messages for Yellow and a few others.  Strictly hardcopies.  Hand delivered.  No chance of a hacker intercepting then.  A few years back, Yellow saved me and Victor here,” Val said, patting her helicopter.  “I owe her big time.”

“Me too,” Duran said.

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