Everyone in the drop room had oxygen helmets on, except for Felix of course. Riley had opened the doors and wind whipped throughout the room.
Yang told Ven good luck through the comm link in the helmets. Ven was suited up with all her gear, and her pack on her front so the parachute could go on her back.
Felix had a parachute as well. Although he had thrusters he’d burn too much power trying to slow his descent, so he would drop the same as Ven.
Riley’s voice came through, “Approaching drop point, ten seconds.” Ven gave him a thumbs up in acknowledgement.
“five, four,” Riley counted down, “three, two, one.” In unison, both Ven and Felix dropped through the opening.
The descent was fast and furious, but paradropping had been part of Ven’s training. Wind whipping past, she thought about their mission.
The plan was to drop into the ocean, then swim to the shore of the island. Once there, Ven would initially blend in as a simple villager.
She would use that disguise until they reached the Arzat’s house, where, upon ensuring he wouldn’t interrupt her mission,
she would use the holographic helmet to then infiltrate the military headquarters.
Felix on the other hand was equipped with an optical camouflage. He could be nearly invisible except for a small distortion in the air around him. He would aid Ven in whatever way he needed to.
They waited until the last possible moment before yanking the cords and engaging their chutes. They were far enough from the island that it was merely a small blip on the horizon.
Splashing down in the water, just as the sun set, they disconnected from their chutes and Ven moved her bag to her back. Then she engaged her boots and Felix used his thrusters.
They set course for the island.
The island was fifty miles away which meant it would take them two and a half hours at maximum speed, but with the currents fighting them it would take even longer.
Ven estimated they had a three or four hour swim.
“Yaeger to Sky Eye 2, splashdown successful, on our way to the island.”
“Roger,” the response came “We’re tracking you.”
The ocean was home to all manner of creatures, plenty of which were large enough to swallow them whole,
and so Ven’s head was on a constant swivel her vision augmented by the glasses through night vision and infrared . Nearly an hour went by without incident, and then the radio crackled through.
“Sky Eye 2 to Yaeger come in.”
“This is Yaeger.”
“We’re tracking something large on infrared.” The voice wasn’t Yang, but the communications officer, “recommend changing course by 90 degrees left.”
“Roger.” Ven responded. She and Felix both turned as suggested. “How large are we talking?” She wondered what they might be up against.
“Approximately two hundred meters.” The voice stayed calm.
“Shit.” Ven responded. That meant it was most likely a grand eel, one of the largest creatures on the planet, and a carnivorous king of the oceans.
At hundreds of meters long and dozens of meters wide they had been known for taking out entire ships. Ven hoped it would move away from them.
There was no way they could outrun it if it came their direction.
Another thirty minutes went by without incident, then came the voice again. “Sky Eye 2 to Yaeger, unidentified object has begun moving your direction, advise turning ninety degrees right.
” Again Ven and Felix did as suggested.
Sky Eye 2 had enough firepower to take the thing out, but they were trying not to draw attention. Twenty more minutes went by and then the radio came through again.
“Object is approaching you from behind. We’re going to drop three infrared torpedoes.”
The torpedoes would splash down into the water and then use heat to automatically target the largest object in the vicinity. Ven turned to look behind her and saw it.
It was even more disturbing with the greenish hue that the night vision gave off. Nearly thirty feet in diameter, and hundreds of feet long.
With multiple rows of razor sharp teeth, and tiny beady eyes. It used a natural form of infrared radar to hunt its prey.
And while they had systems to hide their heat signature, it had come close enough to see them.
The thing began to race forward with ferocious speed, mouth opening into a giant chasm. Ven’s rifle was firing plasma rounds at its eyes before she knew it and Felix was as well.
Closer it continued to come, two hundred feet, then one hundred.
Ven and Felix were in a sitting position, boots thrusting them away while they fired at the beast, but still it came.
Until suddenly there was a great blast at its middle and it lurched to the side.
Two more blasts followed in quick succession, and the thing made a horrific sound that was only slightly muffled from the water. The sound was so loud that Ven feared her helmet would break.
It’s snake like body had been ripped in half and it began to sink slowly to the ocean floor. “Yaeger to Sky Eye 2,” Ven called on the radio, “could you make it not quite so close next time.”
“Sorry Yaeger, we were hoping we wouldn’t have to do that. Two Arzat ships are now approaching to investigate.”
“Out of the frying pan and into the fire.” Ven muttered to herself. If they were detected the whole mission would be blown.