It was then that they heard the explosion. Elder also heard a whistling a fraction of a second later. He saw something hit the wall in front of him. Hartz shouted, “We’re under attack! That was a slug thrower!” as he slammed the others to knock them down. Two more shots followed as everyone slammed to the floor.
Elder heard the sound of someone’s stunner going off, which reminded him to pull his out of the holster. A shot hit the floor near him and he skitted to cover.
Hartz was firing at the two men in the doorway and Elder could see that there was a body on the floor. All were dressed in dark clothing, shirts, pants and watch caps. Camouflage paint covered their faces. Marine training was paying off, Hartz probably had saved their lives. Whoever these people were, they were not playing nice.
Elder took a quick shot and was glad to see his target drop. Slug pistols may have better range, but stunners were more forgiving of bad aim. The remaining attacker started to turn away from the group but fell as Hartz fired again.
The Imperial officers eased forward to see if the attackers were alone. Once they saw that the main hallway was clear, Hartz eased forward to the entrance door. He quickly came back.
“There’s a bunch of people dressed like these rounding up everyone. I saw at least one person in Navy uniform, and she looked wounded. Patton, how many ways in here are there?”
It took a second to realize that Hartz had spoken to him, apparently he was not used to being addressed without his rank title. “Um. Just the front door is all. The Directorate never felt very secure in their rule. Shouldn’t was try and radio for help?”
Elder slipped out his communicator and tried to raise the BALKANS, as he did so, he noticed Heim already talking onto his with a disgusted look on his face.
Heim put his communicator away. “I can’t raise anyone. All I get is static on the receiver. We’re being jammed.”
Patton looked at Heim, “Jammed?”
“Jammed. It means that someone is putting out a lot on noise so the no one trying to receive our signal will be able to tell our signal from the static they put out. There are other ways to jam something, but that is the easiest. I doubt that whoever is doing this has access to Imperial signal codes. With static jamming, all they have to do is put out enough white noise to cover all the frequencies and with enough power to drown out any signal we send. I work with sensors back on the ship. I’m familiar with the techniques required.”
Yamaguchi said as he stepped into the main hallway, “Someone needs to stand watch. I will take the first watch. Secure those guys; we may be here long enough for the stun to wear off.”
“But, if your communications are being jammed, how can we raise help? I cannot take on several terrorists. I need help” Patton looked scared.
Heim glanced at the other officers, and then said, “Even though we aren’t expected to check in, the ship can detect this jamming with a normal sensor check. Moreover, the jamming may not be strong enough to keep us from calling out, just strong enough to keep the ship from calling us. It has to do with signal power and how a signal’s power reduces with distance. In addition, static jamming does not work well against digital signals. The local Marine Division will probably be alerted and on the way.”
Yamaguchi called out from the front door, “Terrorists coming, six of them. It looks like they have heavy weaponry. At least one missile launcher.”
Leaving Ranger First Class Patton to secure the terrorists still under stun, since he had no weapons, the others headed for the front door. Hartz took one look out the small window where Yamaguchi had stood and said, “Back, away from the door. They are going to blow it with a missile. They must suspect something.” Everyone took cover well away from the door.
Just in time. There was a loud explosion and debris flew everywhere. Even before it all settled, the four officers darted to the door to secure the opening. A short fight the left four of the terrorists stunned, but out of reach, left them in control of the blasted doorway.
Elder took count, “Four stunned out there, three in here, and who knows how many still in control of the park. There is probably several more still waiting over the hostages and who knows how many more waiting for the Marines. This is a large and well-planned operation.”
Hartz watched a couple more terrorists pull their stunned comrades away from the line of fire. “If they have more missiles, we are done for. Let’s ho[e the local Marines get here quick.”
It was then that all four communicators beeped. The officers jumped at the sound and then pulled out their communicators and acknowledged the call.
A scratchy voice came over the communicators, barely audible over the static. Heim repeated the words to the others so that they could understand them. He was probably used to scratchy communications. “All Imperial Naval and Marine forces in the duchy are to stand to Alert One. Terrorists are active in the capital city and have taken hostages. Severe sensor jamming is occurring throughout the city and no communications are expected from any individuals without access to strong communications equipment. I.N.B. D-9173 out.”
“That much disruption?” Heim’s face was twisted in a grimace. “These terrorists must have some powerful support in the duchy. I guess that we cannot expect help for hours yet. Perhaps not until tomorrow. We’d best set watches and be ready for them to try again.”
Elder thought for a second, “It may take longer than tomorrow before we ge relieved. There is about twenty percent of the crew on shore leave. That includes the Marines. If a lot of them are caught upon like we are, Captain Quinn may not be able to send much help to the division stationed on the planet and that division is probably guarding a lot of sensitive areas right now. Or soon will be. That’ll take up a lot of the strength of the division.”
Hartz thought for a moment, “A division has a minimum of around twenty-eight thousand people assigned to it. Presume that about half of them are assigned to guard duties, so that leaves around fourteen thousand people. Moreover, that is just the minimum strength, a division assigned to a duchy like this is probably larger. That should be plenty to handle this bunch.”
Patton spoke up from where he was securing the stunned prisoners, “But the city covers so many hundreds of square kilometers! Regardless of how good the Marines are, it’ll still take time and a lot of it just from the sheer size of the city!”
Hartz looked around the outside and slid against the wall next to the blasted door facing the others. “I’m the senior officer here, plus I’m the only one with real Marine training. I take command. Heim, you and Yamaguchi get some sleep. Elder, you take watch. I will relieve you in two hours. Patton, is there any food or water in this building?”
“Uh, food or water? There is a vending section with some water fountains back in the old eating area. I can show you where. The machines are set to accept Imperial money from an ID bracelet. We do not have a food computer, since that would have taken too much re-wiring of the building and there was too much opposition to the upgrades by the Historical Society. The desire was to maintain the building as it was as a teaching tool.”
Hartz took hold of Patton’s arm. “Show me these vending machines. We need to see what is there. The Imperial Marines may not get here very soon. Especially if that report from the base was anywhere close to accurate.”
Elder listened to the two of them as they walked off, Paton trying to explain what the various menu items were and Hartz trying to relate the local names to something more widely known. Elder’s eyes were on the terrorists watching him and the building he was trapped in. Realizing that those were obvious for a reason, he let his eyes wander around the area just in case someone was sneaking up on him. For ten minutes, he saw nothing.
He was just about to give up when movement caught his eye. Or rather, it caught the corner of his eye. Someone was paying attention to what he was watching and moved only when Elder’s eyes were unable to see the movement. Only this time the person moved just a fraction of a second too soon. Elder could not spot the person when he returned his attention to the area where he was sure he had seen movement. However, that could mean nothing, so he sprayed the area with a few shots from his stunner. Its cone was fairly wide at that distance and did not require Elder to even aim well. He did not need to. A body slid from behind a bush, camouflaged in a jumpsuit of dark and light greens, even the face was covered with a camouflaged mask.
A large group of terrorists who were well supplied and well trained. The training perhaps could have come from a single term with the Imperial Marines, but the numbers and equipment implied support from someone important. Elder wished Corrbet was here, she was a good investigator and analyzer and she could probably make sense of this mess. However, she wasn’t and he would have to make do with his own native ability and Academy training, not that he believed that he had a great deal of ability but he had to go with what he had, and not with what he didn’t have.
The signal from the base indicated widespread terrorist activity. As well equipped as these working here were, Elder expected that the other groups would be well equipped also. What were they hoping to gain? Elder doubted that he would hear of any demands the terrorists would make, and if they were successful at overthrowing the planetary government for any length of time, the BALKANS and the ANDES would just stand off and bombard the planet lifeless. A new colony would be placed in twenty years or so (as had happened at least three times in the past) and the Empire would ignore any complaints or demands the terrorists had raised. Elder could not understand the mindset of someone who raised the standard of rebellion when there was no hope of accomplishing their goals. Interstellar war had to be prevented and that meant one government controlling all the worlds.
Hartz startled him when the two hours were over. Between trying to deduce the reasons for someone trying to rebel and watching to make sure that the terrorists did not try a surprise rush or another sneak to the remains of the door, Elder had not paid attention to the time.
“Is there any signs of trouble?”
“None sir. One tried to sneak up, moving while I was watching elsewhere, but I noticed him out of the corner of my eye and stunned him. That’s him there,” Elder pointed at the camouflaged lump, “still out. I set the stun for the longest setting so that they do not get up and threaten us again anytime soon. He should be out for another hour or so.”
Just then, two of the watchers began firing their slug pistols at the building. Elder and Hartz ducked down to cover. When the firing stopped, the stunned terrorist was gone, as well as the watchers. Several of the hostages were moving about aimlessly and several others were leaving the park. The terrorists must have left.