By: Jason Bliss
Chapter 8 – The Football
Commander Sterling stepped out of the cab in front of his apartment building several hours after he had departed. He didn’t feel like walking home tonight as it was raining, that and the fact it would have taken him all night to get home. Damned rush hour traffic, whoever the hell thought having rush hour at eleven o’clock at night should be shot he thought to himself. Max grabbed the newspaper he was reading on his way home and put it over his head to keep from getting rained on. As he stepped out of the cab he made sure to tip the cabbie extra for such a long drive.
As Max made his way into his apartment building he nodded to Jim, the doorman, expecting to hear one of Jim’s stories. Well, it was really only the same story over and over again, but hell Jim is eighty years old what could he expect? Max would always laugh along with Jim and his stories despite himself. He was a nice old man, someone Jim was glad to call friend. However this evening things were different, he was surprised that Jim didn’t say anything to him when he passed by. Not even a nod or a tip of his hat to acknowledge him. Max smirked to himself but figured Jim had just fallen asleep at his post again. As Max was making his way up the stairs to his floor he started to notice how incredibly, and unusually, quiet it was for this time of night. He didn’t think too much of it, mainly because he blamed it on the new movie that had opened the other night. It was supposed to be some movie focusing on the defeat of the Alien menace. Apparently the Azguardian social control office thought these sort of movies would help to raise the moral of the people. Max shrugged and wondered how much of an effect this movie would actually have on the people and how much it would help them when the time came for them to fight.
Max sighed to himself as he put the key in the door and stepped inside. The lights were on, he thought for sure that he had powered down his apartment before he left. He blew it off to the fact he was in a rush when he left here earlier and took of his jacket tossing it onto the couch as he made his way towards the kitchen.
“Man I’m thirsty.” he said allowed “Hmm I think I’ll grab a beer and that left over chicken from a few days ago.”
He grabbed some beer and chicken and made his way to the living room so he could sit in his favorite chair and vegetate in front of the view screen. He pushed play on the holo-recorder and the power ball game he had recorded a few weeks ago came up on the screen. He had put money on this game, even though he knew he had already lost the bet he wanted to see why he lost so he forced himself to watch the humiliating defeat of his home team. Max was really getting into the game shouting at the view screen at the top of his lungs when he saw something out of the corner of his eye. He stopped screaming at the bad call the ref had made and turned to look at what he saw.
“Do not bother getting up commander.”
“Who’s there? Who are you?”
“You know who this is and we’ve been watching you.”
“I have no idea who you are, show yourself you coward!”
At this Mazuko stepped out from the shadows.
“I’d hardly call myself a coward for making my way into your home undetected even by you. Especially with all the signs that show someone, or something, was here in this complex. Your were so obsessed with watching your power ball game, and relaxing you failed to observe standard security measures. The main office would have a field day with this.”
“Don’t threaten me Sir, you have no right to be in my home what the hell do you want?”
“Haven’t you noticed anything Commander?”
“Are you talking about the lack of activity here tonight?”
“That would be correct Commander Sterling.”
“Well Sir stranger things have happened and there is a new movie playing…”
“Ah that’s right, isn’t that the movie where humanity is locked in a desperate struggle to destroy an Alien race that had come to destroy them? Bah! That will have no bearing on what you and I are about to discuss.”
“Well than Sir, don’t you suppose you should start discussing?”
Mazuko smirked, Commander Sterling was very insubordinate at the moment, but he supposed it was due to the meeting he had just left. Finally Mazuko began.
“We shall.” As he moved to take a seat on the couch across from Commander Sterling..
“We have been able to analyze the sample of Alien Hull that you and your men managed to capture and bring back.”
“Forgive me Sir but is it really secure here in my home to be talking of this?”
“Do not fret Commander I scanned for bugs, including organics.”
“Organics Sir?” said Max as he raised a brow and looked at Mazuko inquisitively.
“Yes, through our research of this piece of hull you recovered” Mazuko than held up a small piece of Alien hull for Max to see. “we have learned the aliens technology is completely organic. Which means that they have no use for metallic technology.”
“Think about it Commander, why build it…when you can grow it?”
Max’s pupils began to dilate as he started thinking of the events that had transpired this evening. He started to wonder to himself: Could Jim be? Nah…he couldn’t be...but where are the kids from up the hall? The movie should be over by now…it is after midnight already…maybe Mazuko is right…nah he couldn’t be. Not the people here, they wouldn’t let something like that happen to them.
Mazuko snapped his fingers to get Max’s attention again. “Commander, I am here to tell you directly that you will lead a strike force in a mission against one of our own.”
“A strike force against one of our own? Sir you can’t be serious?”
“If you know what is best for you Commander I would not question this order.” Replied Mazuko sharply, and abruptly, this order wasn’t to be challenged.
“Yes Sir.” Said Max nodding.
“I am not going to give you any more information on the piece of hull you recovered from that minor skirmish. However, I will now give you some information on the mission you are about to undertake.” Mazuko unbuttoned his coat and took it off before setting it on the couch. As he sat his coat down he pulled a folder out of his briefcase and handed it to Max.
Max cautiously took the folder from Mazuko and began to read.
“Good luck Commander, and do be sure to read that entire folder. It may prove more useful in the future than it appears so now.” At this Mazuko stood up, grabbed his coat and left. Commander Sterling simply followed him out of his apart with his eyes and continued reading. “C.T. has become a loose cannon. Action must be taken…”
As Mazuko made his way to the street he called Mastermind through his implanted communications device.
“Sir, this is Mazuko.”
“Go ahead Mazuko.”
“Commander Sterling has his orders, once he leaves the building, arrest him.”
“What? I thought you said you
trusted him entirely?”
“I do, however I do not trust the building he is living in.”
“I see…the organic factor? It hasn’t already begun has it Commander?”
“That would be correct Sir, hopefully this is just an isolated incident and it has not taken over more of the city. My suggestion is to get yourself off world and to scan the rest of the planet…one can never be too cautious sir.”
“Agreed. I will dispense a clean up team to destroy the building, should I send an evac unit first?”
“No. The other occupants are already dead.”
“DAMN! This alien threat is moving fast. How much time do we have?”
“Not much Sir, I suggest we act soon.”
“Very well, Take care Mazuko and I will have Commander Sterling picked up as soon as you leave the vicinity”
“Yes Sir.” Mazuko cut off the communication as he entered his transportation ship and headed back to his Command Ship.
As Mazuko entered the atmosphere a local police unit pulled up in front of Commander Sterling’s building and entered.