Chapter five: Dark Orbit

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     "Do you see anything agent Bradbury?" Jonah says as he searches multiple screens aboard the Juggernaut.
     "Negative, Jonah." Agent Bradbury responses. "Nothing but decaying infrastructure and some Orwellian style posters."
      "Interesting." Jonah says.
      "Andromeda's Gate was one of the earliest colony planet established. It began as an escape for wealthy entrepreneurs, but soon became a lecherous pleasure 'paradise'."
      "So what happened?"
      "That's what we're here to find out, agent Bradbury. "
     "No, I mean, how did it all begin?" As he enters the planet's regional city hall.
     "Difficult to say. We only just recently lost contact. This quadrant was the origin of last month's distress call. I also chose this city, because it is the only one with a deactivated shield."
     "I'm at the hall now."
     "I want to know if the building's title is still the same. What is it agent Bradbury?"
     "Liberty Hall."
     "Interesting." Jonah says as a loud beeping sound draws his attention to the radar system.
     "Incoming?" Bradbury asks as he recognizes the sound.
     "Yes." Jonah answers as he checks the clip on his handgun.
"Several."
     Two large, circular, metallic drones arrive lighting up the creaveses and cracks in the hall's cobweb covered walls and broken windows. Five officer flank the sides on airborne motorcycles. Their engines roar and rumble as if propelled by thunder itself. Over a loud speaker one of them asks for Bradbury to come out. He steps from the shadows of the long abandoned building's skeleton. His hands are up in the air fearlessly as he holds his US government badge.
     "You guys have landed in the wrong quadrant." One of the officers says.
     "'Intelligence' gave us these." Bradbury informs them.
     "Intelligence, huh?" He response with sarcastic tone.
In the distance Bradbury can see Jonah navigate the USS Juggernaut towards them. He smiles slightly knowing that the most heavily armed ship in the known galaxy is on it's way piloted by the kindest soul he's ever known.

     The officers escort Jonah and Bradbury to their actual destination of Virgo. It is the capital of Andromeda, a city with bright lights, towering buildings, and statues based on what earthlings know to be mythical deities. Although initially designated to be a pleasure planet it has become the only exporter of a rare plant indigenous to itself only.  This plant is a pharmaceutical dream. It has been a molecular wonder and is used across the galaxy.  With the United States as its sole provider of defense and no need to pay for one, the world has a stellar GDP. This fact alone has made other alien planets green with envy. Also, Andromeda has become a very sought out special interest group by both earthbound political parties.
     "Odd." Jonah says as he looks at the main monitor on the deck of the Juggernaut.
     "What do you mean?" Bradbury asks as his eyes scan the bright city.
     "The records show that this planet has no religion."
     "Maybe they're just not monotheistic."
     "Their century old history has no trace of any form of religion. A few years ago they banned monotheism. My research lead me to believe there were only a few tributes to mythical deities, but not so many. Director Oliver's files seem to be inatiquete."
     "Oliver's files inatiquete?" Bradbury says as if told a mediocre joke.
     "It's possible that some things about this world are not updated." Jonah begins to wonder.
     "Landing is now possible on dock three. You may land on dock three. Welcome and enjoy your stay." A woman's calm and soothing voice informs them.
Two men approach the Juggernaut flanked on each side by two armed guards and four chrome colored, spherical drones. One of the men is an older grey haired humanoid with light, red skin, a strong build, and walking with strides of complete confidence. The other is another humanoid with green skin, no hair, pointed ears that each have a thick, black loop in them along with one piercing his nose. The dark, green man walked slightly behind the red one in a subtle slither. His large, dark eyes move back and forth surveying all as his hands grasp each other.
     Bradbury's fingers rest inside his gunbelt as his eyes study the two creatures making their approach unconcerned with the security detail. He is a lanky man in his early thirties of African descent who hails from central California. Six foot two inches in height with an uncanny aim that is legend in the department, Bradbury was quite formidable. He greatly admired Jonah not just for his leadership skills, but for the size of his heart.
     "For liberty!" A cry calls out.
A light concussion grenade lands nearby and sends them all flying back. Another ignites but does nothing except send the drones crashing to the ground. Two guards take sniper fire before they can recover. Both shot in the head with a single effort for each. A silver, spherical drone three feet in diameter rises from the horizon and launches a long, reddish, orange laser stream into the air. It slices two of the security detail in half as they recover to their feet. Then the unforgiving machine hums and begins to fire three such deadly, twisted beams.
     Jonah launches three hockey puck sized magnets and lands on the bottom of mechanized monster as it struggles to fully extend its ruthless beams. Shacking and rattling it begins hissing in robotic frustration. A thunderous "crack" ignites the sky and the orb shatters into smoldering, glowing shards. Bradbury gives a quarter smile as the tip of his gun glows like then end of a cigarette.
     The sniper takes out another guard. Jonah tosses several smoke grenades the size of capsules. Bradbury fires a shot in the sniper's direction. Glass breaks out a window, is stained red with blood, and a large rifle falls from it to the earth. Both the red and the green man are gone. Someone from a nearby building's rooftop begins to take off on a hover bike. Bradbury aims, fires, and blows a hole through the engine sending the machine into a tailspin back to the roof. Two new drones enter the scene and cast a net over the assailant and speed off with him as quickly as they appeared.
     "What the hell was that?" Bradbury says as he slowly holsters his guns.
     "Remnants of a dead city." The dark, green man answers.
     "The one we accidentally landed on first?" Jonah asks.
     "Your director was given clear instructions on where to land. Perhaps it was a glitch in the software. No mater, my name is Jupiter. I am chief advisor to President Kaine and I will be showing you to your quarters." He answers as additional security arrive and immediately hurry them away.
"Also, I'll be needing your weapons." Jupiter says. "We provide all security for the people of Andromeda. You will be given your weapons back when you leave."
     "You didn't just see the importance of us being armed back there?" Bradbury begs the question as he reluctantly hands over his weapons.
     "Argh!" Jupiter yells more in shock than in pain and drops Bradbury's guns to the floor.
     "Sorry, they're made of a special alloy that only I can hold with my bare flesh." Bradbury explains with a bit of smirk.  "Security feature."
      "Our President shall dine with you tonight. All your inquiries can be directed at him." Jupiter  says as he briefly studies Bradbury in the elevator down.
     Their two bedroom suite is somewhat lavish with combination of old world Victorian and modern technology. Queen Ann seating and furniture with micro cleaning 'bots with sliver thin monitors and holographic assist.
     "Can you activate your viper, Bradbury?" Jonah thinks as soon as they are left alone in their quarters.
     The Viper assist for holographic phones is something Director Oliver had installed for agents in the field. Controlled by eye movement, holographic phones have been around for some time.
The Viper software, fresh out of its experimental stage, allows users to communicate with each other telepathically. It rides specific brian waves, only within a five foot radius, and both callers have to be still. Much like the first cell phones, Viper technology has a way to go.
     "Activated." Bradbury thinks.
     "Those guns are not your gifted ones are they?" Jonah wonders.
     "No." Bradbury thinks with a smile. "I have to assemble them. It should only take a day. I'll set up the projection app to make it look like I'm playing a halo-game."
     "Why, do you suppose, Jupiter  dropped your guns like they had burned him?" Jonah wonders.
    "They are blessed." Bradbury says.

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