Buffalo Bill and Lenny Sinclair looked as though they’d been through a minefield.
Buffalo’s thermal suit had a large blood-stained hole on the left shoulder where a Norinco round had grazed him in the firefight at Gateway.
“You’ve got some explaining to do, Sergeant,” Delaney said with a cheesy grin.
They were all inside the Trojan Device now. Lena was sitting on the floor leaning against a curved wall. Buffalo and Sinclair were sitting on seats near the workstations, with Wells and Delaney still standing.
“The last thing we heard was what we thought were your dying moans, Sergeant Jackson,” Lena said, looking at Buffalo in disbelief.
“Nah… they were moans of pleasure, Doctor…” Buffalo rasped. “As I was nailing them sons-of-bitches in the cave.”
“I was just as shocked as you, ma’am,” said Sinclair. “When I came to at the bottom of the tall boulder I was on, I stumbled through the wreckage and found the Sarge laying on the ground holding his arm. And, a buncha those yellow bastards messin’ up the whole camp with their blood.” He gave a little laugh.
Buffalo put his arm around Sinclair’s neck in a playful hug. “This little fella patched me up good—saved my life.”
Delaney looked at his two team members proudly. Then at Lena.
“Thanks for what you did back there,” he said, referring to her skillful handling of the M5.
Lena was too tired to say anything. She smiled.
Wells sighed loudly. “If you lot have finished slapping each other on the back, may I remind you of the situation we are still in,” he said with a disdainful look.
Delaney put his good hand on his holstered Desert Eagle.
“I don’t think you’re in a position to remind anyone about anything, Wells,” he sneered.
Wells eyed the gun. “Look, I know you don’t agree with the way I went about things, Lieu—”
“You’re damned right, Wells!”
“But…” Wells continued, “Surely, you’ll have to agree now with why I was doing it. You’re a military man, Lieutenant— “
“Thanks for reminding me shithead,” Delaney interrupted.
Wells stepped towards the desk where the pyrozine case was still resting. Buffalo slammed his hand down on the case, and smiled nastily up at Wells.
Wells continued talking. “You of all people must know what kind of advantage this machine will give the enemy. The barn door is already open, and the horse is about to bolt.”
“What the fuck are you talking about, Wells?” Buffalo said in a long, drawn out mocking voice.
“Lieutenant,” Wells went on. “Only you… we… can stop it now.”
“Shut up Wells!” Lena spat. She stood up, looking as though she was going to walk right over and rip the frail Englishman’s eyes out. “You fucking coward! You just sat there while— “
Delaney gently stopped her by putting his hand on her shoulder.
“It’s okay… he’s right.”
“What!” said Lena, looking at Delaney in disbelief.
“The PLA is probably already preparing to send Christ knows how many troops through that thing as we speak. The only choice we have now is to destroy it.”
Lena agreed reluctantly. As much as she hated Wells, he was right about the device… it had to be destroyed now.
Buffalo and Sinclair didn’t really give a damn either way. They had been through the meat slicer, and all they felt like doing was sitting back with a cold beer.
“Right then, where’s the detonator?” Delaney said, walking over to the pyrozine case.
Wells turned quickly to the bench. “Whoa! Hold on there Lieutenant,” he said, reaching carefully past Delaney and putting a hand on the lid of the case.
Delaney stared at him with a look that said remove your hand or lose it.
“What is it?” Delaney asked suspiciously.
Wells sighed. “Well, that’s the thing with pyrozine, isn’t it… there is no detonator. In order to make it volatile, one simply releases the pyrozine from the bottle. The chemical reacts with the surrounding air… thirty seconds later, boom!”
“Oh, that’s just great,” said Lena, shaking her head.
“So, let me get this straight, Wells,” Delaney said. “You’re saying someone has to stay behind and take the lids of these bottles for them to work? For them to explode?”
“Spot on, Lieutenant,” Wells smiled.
Delaney ran his gloved hand through his hair.
“Fuck… alright… Buffalo, get everyone as far away from here as you can. Take the entrance you came through to the pyramid, and get back to the surface. Call Spacecom for support, then give them the location of the Chinese and wait for the cavalry.”
“What are you doing, Jake?” a horrified Lena asked.
Delaney gave her a wink and said nothing.
“No… I won’t let you…” she pleaded, realizing he had just volunteered to stay behind and release the pyrozine.
Wells stepped forward.
“Don’t worry your pretty head over the Lieutenant, my dear,” Wells said. He turned to Delaney. “Lieutenant, I came here to ensure that infernal contraption gets destroyed, and that’s exactly what I intend to do. Frankly, I doubt your capacity to do the job properly, anyway.” He carefully lifted up the case of bottles and held it to his chest.
They all stared at him in disbelief.
“Lieutenant, I’m not one for long teary goodbyes,” Wells said. “Please get these people out of my way, and let me get on with it.” He was showing a side that nobody, least of all Lena, had expected.
Delaney’s lips thinned. “Look Wells, I— “
“Oh, good God, Lieutenant… please spare me your emotional outburst.” Wells opened the case, and started placing the bottles on the floor near the hexagonal chambers.
Suddenly, there was a loud crack of electrical energy.
The chambers glowed a glorious luminescent blue, and began humming.
“Go!” Wells shouted at the people around him.
As Buffalo stood, he gave Wells a friendly slap on the back, almost knocking the small scientist to the ground, and barely avoiding knocking a bottle out of his hand.
Wells looked at the burly marine and sighed heavily. Buffalo and Sinclair started heading towards the pyramid door.
“Wait,” said Delaney. “I’ve got another idea. We’re going back into the tunnel.”
Wells waited until the team had disappeared through the door to the tunnel, giving them as much extra time as he could.
He placed the four bottles of liquid explosive between the chambers where they would do the most damage.
The transparent booths continued to hum and glow.
Shadowy outlines—human outlines—began to flicker inside the booths. They were the first of many troops that would soon be transporting through from Giza and Ayers Rock, beamed from Earth to Mars via the Trojan Device.
Wells studied the pixelated images. They were full silhouettes now, heads, torsos, arms and legs… and weapons.
Wells gave another loud sigh.
“Damned Martians,” he said with a laugh.
Then, as the shadowy figures began to solidify, the graying British scientist bent down and started unscrewing the caps from the silver canisters.