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Mass Effect: Mess


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Tweet of the Day: SF OBSCURE: ANDROMEDA

——-

The patter of heavy rain pelted the camp. Rodan ducked inside the mess tent a second before lightning split open the sky.

“Boss, grab a tray before food gets cold,” yelled Kas, the chief cook from behind the service line. He pointed at a self serve section reserved for turians and quarians filled to the bream with steaming food.

“Will do, sarge,” said Rodan while he filled his tray.

Everything, except for the food, and he had no idea how Kas and his crew pulled it off, had gone sideways the moment the air wing landed on the tropical archipelago. First came the local monsoon that brought untold liters of acid rain down their heads. The combination of rain and mud got into everything. No piece of equipment was spared. The handful of techs pulled daily miracles to keep his fighters flying, but that could not last forever. Then came the increasing enemy probes of their defenses. The wing racked up the kills but the constant pressure kept everyone on edge.

And this was supposed to be a quite sector.

Blitz, the senior batarian flyer and leader of the wing’s gunship squadron motioned Rodan to join him at his table.

Rodan noticed the bags under Blitz’s four eyes, “Everything alright?”

“Nothing I can’t handle, boss. My maintenance people are doing a great job. But,” he dug into his plate, some kind of steaming local vegetables mix,”the QRAs are eating my people up. Too many scrambles and not enough rest.”

Rodan looked up from his plate, “You’re not the only one.”

The wing XO, call sign Ice Queen, headed their way, full food plate in one hand, datapad in the other.

She set down the plate,, “Sorry boss, thought I was going to finish this before lunch.”

“Queen, you can eat and complain like anyone else,” said Rodan.

Chuckles rumbled up and down the long dinner table.

“Right, just that we are down to,” she punched up some numbers on the pad, “eighteen birds. Bandit is still in the infirmary, Doc says she won’t be out until tomorrow at the earliest and we still have Ratchet’s body on ice.” The others looked away from Ice Queen.

Rodan ignored Queen’s talk about Ratchet corpse. They lost four fighters in an enemy raid the day before yesterday. The rescue crews managed to pull three of the pilots out of the sea but Ratchet did not survive the crash.

Rodan raised an eyebrow, “Wait, eighteen? Why eighteen?”

“Goldan had to cannibalize to birds to keep the others going. We are getting some spare parts, but we haven’t managed to set up a micro-manufacturing plant yet, not enough portable generators,” said Queen as she shoveled food into her mouth.

Rodan took the datapad and scrolled through the notes, “At least we are on schedule for reinforce- wait vorcha?”

Every head turned toward Rodan.

Queen looked up, “Yes sir. They call themselves the Void Devils. Apparently their parents fought well during the invasion and now they volunteered to help us. Forty-eight fighters in all, plus support crews.”

Blitz peaked over Rodan’s shoulder, “What about mud movers?”

Queen took the pad back, “We should be getting another group of gunships next week, eight in all.”

“We are down to five ships right now,” said Blitz.

“Yeah, but K-2 won’t be finished until then. With luck we can move your people over there, if the engineers can set up the defenses fast enough. Just another thing the rains keeps mucking up and,” she raised her voice, “before anyone asks, we are going to get hit with another weather front the day after tomorrow.”

The whole mess hall let out a collective low groan. Loud klaxons cut through the rain.

<ALERT CONDITION ONE-REPEAT ALERT CONDITION ONE-ALL UNITS SCRAMBLE-SCRAMBLE-SCRAMBLE-RAID INBOUND>

All the pilots dropped whatever they were doing and ran for the doors.

There goes my afternoon.

——-

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