Part 1B

by Jill Weber (MFCarpet at aol.com)

Characters owned by Dark Horse and Sony

Hunter woke up in the dark (in more ways than one) with a raging headache and ringing ears. When his eyes focused, he recognized his surroundings. Heíd spent more time in Big Guyís cockpit than any one other place. "I thought the idea behind joining the army was to not spend all day in an office," he muttered. Then he sighed. "C'mon, Dwayne, you've got the consciousness part. How 'bout working on the coherent part?"

He shook his head and decided that was a bad idea. He leaned back and studied the snowy picture on his viewscreens as he tried to remember what the devil had been going on. He could feel blood trickling from his nose and instinctively reached up to wipe it away, only to bang his wrist against his faceplate.

Hunter swore to himself and pushed his faceplate up so he could dab at his nose. He tried to move his seat back to give himself some room to work on his communications panel, only to find himself firmly mired in some sticky substance....

"Oh, yeah, you," he grumbled to the gel that had oozed into the cockpit. "Now I remember." Trying to ignore the ankle-deep gunk, he tweaked what controls he could reach and managed to restored external audio.

"Big Guy, answer me?" Rustyís plaintive voice seemed faint or far away.

"....Donít tell me my men canít follow orders!" Thortonís enraged bellow was farther, but a lot clearer. "The bloody thing fired by itself! Even with the so-called safety locks still on!" Hunter tuned out Thorton and concentrated on his radio.

"Gotta tell them I'm still alive before Thorton has to use something really powerful on this thing," he told himself. "Then it'll be too late... not to mention inaccurate." The sound of his words startled him. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Coherent... work on co-her-ent."

After a few deep breaths to steady himself, he went to work. He worked until he managed to produce some static, pausing only now and then to wipe sweat or blood from his face. He rested a few minutes, then some fine tuning brought success.

"VTOL to Hunter, do you read?" Joís voice, almost unrecognizable with worry.

"Hunter, here," he managed. "Whatís my status?"

Sighs of relief from the radio.

"You got nailed by friendly fire, Iím afraid," Joís voice, still tight and unnatural.

"Yeah, I gathered that much... where am I? Iíve got no visual."

"The blast threw you smack in the middle of that thing, Lieutenant," Mack rasped. "Now itís dragging you down the road towards the concert bowl."

"Lovely," sighed Hunter. "Is Slate there?"

"Slate and Garth are trying an experiment," Jo said, her voice beginning to sound more normal.

"Good, let me know how it comes out," Hunter said. He leaned back in his seat to consider his next move, and fell asleep instead.

On to Part 2!

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