Star Brink: The Crash

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Chapter 24: Orders?

What in the hell is going on down there? Alex thought as he stepped into the main area from his office on the second floor and looked over the railing to find the primary area bustling with activity.

The muttering and chattering coming from the first floor had started out of nowhere and quickly got Alex’s attention when it distracted him from his early morning work and coffee. Since his coffee hadn’t fully set in any he was still quite irritable and hearing all the noise coming from downstairs was one of note last things he wanted to hear that morning. It caused him to get up from his chair to head outside to at least find out what was going on and give whoever started it a stern lecture.

From his position on the second floor, leaning over the rail, he could see practically every agent and personnel gathered around the screens and terminals. Even the field agents and security teams were there with their full focus on the screens that didn’t display much of anything other than static at the moment. No one was doing their jobs and Alex didn’t know whether to be confused or angry. Whatever the reason his curiosity wouldn’t let him just stand there and do nothing, not when he was the only one who had no idea what was going on.

Okay, why the heck are they gathered around the screens? Alex thought as he walked towards the stairs.

Alex’s curiosity and his duty as the lead agent got the better of him as he made it to the stairs and walked down. As the lead agent on their assignment, he had to know what had his agents distracted. Combined with his curiosity there was no chance he was going to just head back into his office. Anger played a role for being left out of the loop and he was determined to correct that, making him almost run down the stairs unnoticed by everyone else.

“What the hell is going on here?” Alex shouted as he made it to the bottom of the bottom of the stairs.

All eyes, except those of the technicians working the terminals, turned to face Alex as he made his way to the center of the room where Frank and a few other high-ranking agents were gathered. Most of the agents knew to not irritate him till his morning coffee had set, which made them cautious to do anything around him, let alone talk. He just ignored their gazes and went straight for the Frank and those around him for a clear answer. Most appeared to be shocked at his sudden entrance but kept their mouths shut as he walked past them and stopped right in front of Frank who nodded and stood his ground.

Frank was the one who turned and answered Alex’s question. “The opportunity we have been waiting for has finally presented itself. The satellite is finally ready for us to access.”

Alex’s jaw dropped as his mind tried to process what Frank had just said. The last thing he expected to hear that morning was exactly what Frank uttered, causing him to be momentarily stunned. Maybe it was the fact his morning coffee hadn’t fully woken him up yet, combined with the exciting and tiring night he had with his lover, which made him so shocked. He was certain his surprise and reaction shocked the agents surrounding him though none of them said a word. Instead, everyone around him remained quiet while the technicians working the terminals continued their task unabated.

“You’re joking?” Alex blurted out, only to quickly compose himself before continuing. “I thought we wouldn’t be able to access the satellite till at least this afternoon.”

Frank pointed to the nearby technicians who were not paying attention to him or anyone else in the slightest, only focusing on the task at hand. “We have them to thank for it. They’ve been working tirelessly to get us early access. At least two have been up all night working to get us to where we are now.”

“Really?” Alex exclaimed as he looked at the technician as they continuously worked. “Then I will make sure they get a big reward,” Alex stepped towards the technicians and loudly asked. “So, when will we have full access to the satellite’s database?”

“A few minutes sir.” The lead technician quickly replied. “We just got the opportunity to access it so it may take some time before we are fully able to view its database.”

Alex glared at the technician with a surprised but also stern look. “I thought that you were ready to access it. You were supposed to be ready at a moment’s notice as soon as the opportunity presented itself.”

“We have been fully prepared sir.” The lead technician quickly retorted as he and several others worked at their terminals. “We have been prepared for a couple days, but the connection here is . . . spotty to say the least.”

“The connection . . . you mean the Internet?”

“Yes sir, the Internet connection in the local area is terrible. This being a rural area obviously the internet connections will be lacking.” The lead technician answered without looking up from his keyboard. “Unfortunately, it is all we have at the moment, so we have to rely on it.”

Alex hung his head and muttered. “Damn it, another reason to hate this place.” A thought suddenly entered Alex’s mind when he remembered they brought their own equipment, causing him to speak loudly at the lead technician. “Wait, I thought that we had our own servers? Why aren’t you using them?”

“Because they have been randomly short-circuiting since yesterday.” The lead technician instantly responded while he kept typing. “It started happening yesterday evening and we tried to fix it and thought we did. That was proven incorrect this morning when we saw the problem had somehow gotten worse. Right now, the servers only work for a few minutes at most when we turn them on before they just shut off.” The lead technician sighed loudly. “That leaves us with relying on the local area’s connection till we get them fixed.”

Alex let out a loud huff but spoke softly so no one would hear him. “Great, even when things are finally going our way something decided not to work properly. This is a textbook example of bad timing.” Alex took a moment to calm himself before speaking casually to lead technician again. “Alright, do what you can but try to do it quickly. We only have an hour to use the satellite, so we had better use it wisely.”

“Yes sir, we will get it working as quickly as possible.”

Alex leaned back as he watched the technicians work at their terminals to the best of their abilities. He knew they didn’t need him looking over their shoulders and asking questions while they worked. Nearly every technician in front of him had experience “gaining access” to satellite or something similar. Even the younger ones seemed quite skilled at the job as he observed them typing at ridiculously fast rates. They certainly didn’t need his or anyone else’s assistance as he witnessed codes and other computer terms, he didn’t understand flash across their screens. Watching them gave him hope that they would the access they needed momentarily, meaning all he had to do was wait. It filled him with excitement to watch even though he didn’t understand what they were doing but to know that soon they would have the answers they’d been seeking for what felt like forever but was really barely a week.

As Alex watched and noticed those not working at the terminals seemed bored, he started thinking of ways to pass the time. Though he knew it wouldn’t take the technicians long to work their magic it was still time he and everyone else had nothing to do but wait. Even the security and assault teams were fully prepared and ready to go at a moment’s notice when they found the Zordons. The only excitement they had was when they had full access to the satellite and could view the recordings of the Zordon crash and that was taking some time. He could see several agents pacing and fidgeting as they waited, more than one appeared to be on the cusp of boredom. Something had to be done to keep them on their toes till it was time to act but all Alex could think of while the technicians worked was to ask a particular question that many would find annoying. It was a question that had his curiosity slightly peaked since then Xulon force mysteriously arrived a couple of days ago, but he was almost certain of the answer he’d get. After a couple of minutes, he shrugged and decided to just get the question out of the way to get some noise other than typing in the building.

“What about Command, have we gotten anything from them?” Alex asked, getting a confused look from several agents around him. “Just curious if Command has given any new orders or information on the Xulons. It is something to pass the time while we wait for the satellites to come online.”

“Ah, well give us a moment sir.” One of the technicians answered before typing on his keyboard, as did a few others and quickly came out with an answer. “Oh boy, Command has been on the horn nonstop about the Xulons, as if nothing else matters.”

Alex sighed loudly as he rested his hands on his hips. “That is not surprising at all. Xulons make a rare appearance, wipe out an entire squadron with ease, destroy a small city, and obliterate the response force sent to deal with them; of course High Command will be quite vocal about them.” Alex looked the technician who spoke. “Anything new or are they just repeating stuff?”

“Well, there is nothing new as the Xulons appear to haven’t moved from their location.”

Alex stared at the technician in disbelief, as did Frank and several other veteran agents. “What, the Xulons haven’t moved from the city they destroyed?”

“According to the report that is the case. They seem to have set up shop in the local arena and haven’t moved an inch.”

Alex curiously turned to Frank and asked. “You ever hear of Xulons settling down anywhere for any length of time?”

Frank shook his head. “Never, such a thing is unheard of. They must be up to something.”

“Indeed, they must be looking for something . . . or someone.” Jack replied, personally believing the Xulons were after the same Zordons they were trying to catch but had yet to tell anyone in case he was wrong. “Whatever their reasons I bet it doesn’t bout well for us since we are less than a hundred miles from them.” Alex turned back to the technician and asked. “Has Command issued any new orders?”

“No sir, just repeating the same warnings over and over.”

Alex shook his head again. “Of course, I shouldn’t expect any less.”

“Sir, we got full access to the satellites now.” The lead technician suddenly shouted, though he was seated a terminal nearby, getting Alex’s immediate attention, thus causing him to quickly spin around and temporarily forget all about the Xulons and High Command.

“Really, that was quicker than expected?” Jack hesitantly replied in case they were wrong, nothing against them but he was just playing it safe. “It should have taken quite some time just to get a connection. Satellites are usually some of the most secured operating systems there is especially military ones like this.”

“The satellites have their security unlocked so we could have easy access to them. Command made sure we have easy access so we can do our job. Because of that we had to just simply just log in and we have complete access to everything stored in the satellite’s database.”

Alex tilts his head in confusion and opened his mouth to speak but Frank spoke before he could get a word out. “Huh, Command actually looking out for an investigation team, that’s a first. They usually don’t give us much to work with.”

“Indeed, I’ve been working for the PDF a long time and I can never recall High Command giving an investigation team anything close to this amount of help.” Jack added. “At best they give us additional supplies but never anything that actually helps in our investigation.”

The technician who spoke earlier shrugged with a slight smile. “It pays to have family within the high ranks.”

Alex gave the technician a confused look, as did Frank and several others around him. “Uh, you have some . . . high ranking relatives?”

The technician nodded while the others around him began working on their terminals to access whatever information they could. “Yes sir, for security reasons I will not say who. All you need to know is they have us covered.”

Alex nearly opened his mouth to speak but kept it shut, pushing his curiosity to the side. “Alright, then make sure everyone technician has access some can get the information done as soon as possible.”

“Already done sir.”

Alex smiled, greatly impressed by their effectiveness, watching as the technicians as they worked quickly. “Good, at this rate we should be able to . . .”

“Uh, sir, I got something here.” A nearby technician shouted to Alex before he could finish speaking.

Alex turned towards the technician who spoke so quickly he almost slipped to see it was one of the younger, and rather busty, female technicians. “Already, what did you find Mrs. Williams.”

“The video files were encrypted so it didn’t take much to find what we need pertaining to our investigation.” The woman named Mrs. Williams confidently responded without looking in Alex’s direction, focusing solely on her task at hand. “The satellite records are categorized by date and even further by hour; that made it easy for me to find the exact time we needed of the crash.” She glanced over her shoulder at Alex and gave him a subtle wink that thankfully only he noticed. “With this, we should have exactly what we’re looking for and finally be able to do something besides sit here and wait.”

Alex kept his composure while laughing internally, remembering the last few amazing nights he had shared in his bed with Mrs. Ashley Williams. Though she was married, was ten years younger, and played hard to get, he had no trouble getting her in his bed. Since her husband barley showed her any attention, practically ignoring her, it didn’t take much to convince her for a late-night rendezvous. She was easily the best screw Alex had in quite some time being the perfect combination of amazing assets and gorgeous body, fun and humorous personality, and a wild animal in the sack. Thankfully, they had managed to keep it a secret so far, despite all her screaming and they both intended to keep it that way. They had a pretty good arrangement, professionals at work and at night nonstop adult fun. That made it difficult for Alex to treat her casually a work but so far things were going smoothly, with both looking forward to a long future of fun filled nights once they were done with their assignment.

“Hm, can you put the video on the screens for us all to see?” Alex casually asked Mrs. Williams.

“Good, put it on the primary screen for all to see.”

“Right away sir.” Mrs. Williams responded while working, with a subtle tone in her voice that told Alex she was looking forward to another fun night together.

Alex sat down in his personal chair and watched as the lead screen came to life before his rear even had a chance to touch the cushion. Everyone gathered around the area, even those who were not technicians, to see what awaited them. He could see everyone was excited to finally find out what exactly happened after waiting so long; he didn’t show it, but Alex was just as exciting as they were. Even Frank seemed almost unable to contain his excitement as Alex could see him constantly fidgeting. Within moments, the center screen displayed a crystal-clear image of the crash site. From what he could see the image only included the ship and a few individuals in a topographical view. The image was set, allowing him and everyone else to make out the ship’s occupants, two of them as they expected, while they couldn’t make out the other individuals. Due to the tree coverage his view of the Zordons were limited but it was position or to determine both were female; one adult and the other a child, and that the adult appeared to be injured. Alex could make out the two Zordons trying to hide from the humans, at least four of them while clearly another individual was hiding a significant distance away. The four humans were gathered around the ship, seeming to get advancing towards the two Zordons in a semi-circle. They were all armed with what appeared to be hunting rifles, as did the lone human but due to his position Alex assumed he was not part of the group.

“Is that the event?” Jack asked.

“Yes sir, this satellite recorded everything that happened in that particular area.” The lead technician answered immediately. “That includes the entire crash AND what happened afterwards.”

“Huh, so this satellite will show us who assisted the Zordons?” Frank spoke up from beside Alex.

“Indeed, including where they were taken, but only within twenty-four hours.” The technician responded.

“It is enough to give us a strong lead seeing as the Zordon female is injured.” Alex stated as he concentrated on the screen. “At least it gives us a place go on.” Alex turned to the agent operating the screen and ordered. “Start the show.”

“Yes sir.”

Alex leaned forward and placed both hands firmly on the desk as the show began, as did most of the individuals around him. Everyone remained silent and closely watched as the video rolled, observing every detail. Before them, they watched the four humans closely approach the Zordons who court do little to protect themselves. Though the Zordon adult female was armed that didn’t seem to slow the humans down who appeared to be quite intention doing whatever they wanted. To Alex, it was almost like a scene from a movie where a group of evil-minded individuals approached a woman or someone in danger to do evil, unspeakable things. Those individuals had to be a mix of redneck and/or hillbilly, at least that was Alex’s impression. Even he felt sorry for the Zordons being in that situation. By using his peripherals, he was able to see several agents disgusted by what they saw but no one said a word. All they could do was watch closely as the humans progressed slowly towards the Zordons who did their best to defend themselves.

However, he noticed the lone human making his way closer to covered position, unnoticed by the other humans. From their viewpoint the man appeared to be having no trouble staying hidden and getting to a good position. To Alex, whoever the individual was must be not just a skilled hunter but must have prior military and combat experience to get so close without being detected. Though it took him some time he managed to make his way to an elevated position that offered him both cover and concealment while the others were closing in on the Zordons as the female managed to fend them off by aiming her weapon at them. At the right moment the lone human opened fire on the others, immediately dispatching one of the assaulters. Before they even realized what was happening, he fired again and again, killing two more on the spot. He killed each me with a single shot; telling Alex that his aim was beyond exceptional and the firearm he was using had to be quite powerful. It happened so quickly that the assaulters had no time to respond before three of the four were dispatched and the remaining one barely managed to duck behind cover.

“Hm, whoever that guy is he’s quite talented.” Jack softly spoke, getting a slight nod from Frank. “There’s very few individuals with that kind of skill.”

Jack tapped the desk as his suspicions ran rampant while closely watching the gunfight on screen unfold. Given the skill set and tactical knowledge of the individual supporting the Zordons he started thinking of who it could be. Since that person certainly lived in the general area of the incident, and the local towns were somewhat isolated, that meant there were very few individuals who could a suspect. Though he was certain a more than a few individuals around were good at stealth and shooting, assuming the locks demographics, most of them probably up in the woods and had hunting experience. However, the number of individuals in the area, or just around the world, which could pull off such a strategical move, narrowed that list down quite a bit. Throughout the local area, Alex only knew of only one individual who could pull it off and that was Jack Grieves. Given their experience together he didn’t want to even consider that but until it was confirmed he would have to suspect everyone in the area.

“Come on guy, just give us a view of your face.” Alex softly whispered so low that even Frank didn’t seem to hear him.

While everyone else focused on the event unfolding, Alex paid attention strictly to the human as he tried to approach the Zordons. He barely noticed the remaining attacker take the Zordon female child hostage and try to use her to escape. Though the gasps from everyone as the Zordon female killed the guy holding her daughter hostage did get his attention but not enough to get his focus away from the human. Instead, he focused all his attention for the perfect moment the satellite had a view through the foliage at the human’s face. It wasn’t till the guy was near the Zordon female and appeared to be assisting her with the injury she suffered that Alex saw the moment he had been waiting for. Right as the human kneeled to work on her leg that his face was visible to the satellite, despite the image being somewhat unclear.

“Pause it there.” Alex ordered.

The technician was quick on the button and stopped the screen. Through the trees, they had the perfect view of the human and Zordons as the man worked on the woman’s injured leg. The child was visible watching nervously nearby though the foliage made it difficult to clearly see her. Alex wasn’t focused on the child or the Zordon, instead he stared solely at the human who was in perfect view of the satellite. It was the first time during the entire video they had a clear shot of him, giving them the opportunity to determine his identity and Alex certainly wasn’t going to waste it.

“Close in on the human, try to get clear details on his face.” Alex ordered.

“Yes sir.” The lead technician replied, immediately getting to work.

Alex leaned forward and watched closely as the screen closed in on the man. All eyes in the room were on the screen and it became so silent a pen could it heard hitting the floor, if one had been dropped. Though it only took moments it felt like minutes as they were finally about to discover the answer to the question, they had all been wondering the entire time. As the individual’s face became clear muttering among others could be heard as the face looked familiar to them. Alex, however, recognized the individual’s face on the spot causing rage to enter and nearly overwhelm him.

“Uh, sir is that . . .” One of the agents began nervously speaking only for Alex to cut him off.

“Jack, you son of a bitch!” Alex loudly exclaimed, causing everyone around to look at him as he tightly squeezed his fist. “I should have known you would be the one to betray humanity.”

Alex didn’t hide his rage as he picked up his coffee mug and threw it clear across the room. It shattered on the wall, causing everyone around to jump and turn thirst attention to him. He heard several individuals gasp but he ignored them. Having always been a composed individual, the other agents seeing him behave in such a manner certainly caught them off guard, resulting in more than a few taking a step back. In that moment he didn’t care in the slightest about what they thought, he couldn’t with his rage and attention being solely focused on Jack and their service together. There was a time he would have considered Jack his best friend, especially when they were stationed together. He would gladly have taken a bullet for Jack, but not after what he just saw. In the moment, Alex wanted to skin him alive and then shot him out of the airlock into space.

How could I ever have placed my trust in a traitor, after everything we have been through together? Alex thought as he stared at the screen that displayed Jack’s face.

It took several moments of fuming rage, and only speaking internally, for him to finally accept he was being inappropriate for a man of his position. Though he wanted to torture Jack he knew that would have to wait for their assignment came first. For the good of not just his assignment but his fellow agents he had to remain calm. They were all still gathered around him, looking forward to what his orders would be, but they were clearly all nervous after his outburst. Some was hesitant to hear what he had to say and after he threw his coffee mug, he didn’t blame them. Despite not having the ability to calm fully down he was able to do so enough to think clearly. Looking at the screen Alex was able to fill in most of the details they would need to get the assignment moving in the right direction while everyone else seemed to be focusing on him as he just stood there looking at the screen.

Since the Zordon female was injured, I would bet she and the child are not far. Alex thought as he crossed his arms. If anytime they are still with him. Alex growled internally. At the very least we know where to start looking . . . with the traitor.

Alex stood up to his full height and confidently looked around the room to see all eyes on him, as usual. All fifty-seven agents were standing around him, giving him their undivided attention. They reminded Alex of a bunch of sheep waiting for their shepherd to lead them; a situation he was getting tired of. Though he was the lead agent on the assignment he wished at least one of them would take some initiative from time to time as it would make his job a lot easier. But, after everything he’s experienced with them, he expected nothing less, so he just accepted it.

Since they currently had a strong lead on where the Zordons the next step was successfully tracking them down and catching them. But they needed his approval to do so, let alone to figure out what exactly to do next. However, many of them had no idea who Jack that had left them in the dark to information Alex knew. As far as Alex knew, the only other person on their team who knew about Jack was Frank, meaning only him and a couple others had even slightest clue of where to begin searching. From what he could see from his slightly elevated position were several technicians ready to start a database search for Jack, when such a thing was not necessary. He knew exactly what was required and was itching to carry it out.

Jack took a deep breath to calm before addressing his agents. “Get the security teams ready to move, we got some aliens to recover.”

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