“We’re almost at the bottom.” The driver announced, feathering the brake around the corners.
The Sergeant opened up the window to the back of the truck and hollered. “Weapons at the ready people, we’re going in hot. Shoot anything that don’t got a pulse.”
Penny readied her own rifle and as one the platoon held their breath.
The spiralling tunnel turned into a ramp that lead into a wide open space. At the far end a monorail system extended deeper into the mine. A gaggle of technicians waited at the platform with a squad of labour droids between the platform and the truck.
The human technicians took one look at the truck full of cops hurtling their way and ran screaming for the vehicle bay. The androids immediately opened fire.
Penny braced herself in the cabin as the bullets punched into the thick windshield in front of her. Cracking spiderwebs across the heavy plexiglass. While the Sergeant opened up his door and hung out the side to return fire, the driver began to turn the wheel away. Penny’s hand shot out and grabbed his wrist.
The driver jammed the pedal down and the truck ploughed right through the middle of the droids. Grinding them between the rough rock floor and the tanker’s big wheels. As soon as the droids were out of view the driver stood on the brake and wrenched the wheel to the side, bringing the whole eight-ton truck skidding to a halt before the monorail platform.
The Constabulary recovered from the swerve and turned their rifles on the remaining droids, dropping the three remaining in a hail of spears.
Sergeant Mohammed kicked open the battered door and hopped out of the cabin. Penny followed him out and immediately fell into step behind him, scanning around with their rifles for new threats.
When it was clear the skirmish was over the Sergeant called out. “Alright round ’em up people. Teams of two for every arrest.”
Back up at the hangar Mad Mac McCarty straightened out his coat and brushed himself down. He dumped the half-used barrels from the pistol in his hand and squatted down to the bodies of Taylor and Lao to go through their armour for spare rounds.
His ammunition replenished, Mac stepped over the constables and made his way up the loading ramp.
“Well well well.” Mac beamed as he waltzed in to the bridge and saw his crew tied to chairs. “What do we have here?”
Elena rustled angrily in her seat.
“Looks like our little ranger friend has been busy now ain’t she?”
Mac moved over to them and cut through their bonds with his bowie knife. All except Wu, of course.
Mac went to put his knife away, but hesitated. “Now.” He said. “How ’bout one of you fill me in on what happened here?”
Penny gently pulled open the door to the vehicle bay’s office and peered in with her rifle. When she heard nothing she proceeded inside. Then a pair of human hands shot out from behind the door and grabbed the barrel for her rifle. They pulled the rifle away and Penny let go of the front grip so she could draw Mac’s pistol from her thigh and jam it into her assailant’s face.
“I wouldn’t.” Penny growled.
Jie froze, his hands awkwardly gripping the rifle barrels. His eyes zeroed onto the six barrels pressing into his skin.
“Let go.” Penny ordered.
Jie did as he was told.
“Now turn around, put your hands behind your head and kneel down.”
Jie slowly obeyed. Penny put Mac’s gun back on her thigh and her rifle on her shoulder mount.
When he was bound Penny brought Jie out join the rest of the captives in the vehicle bay.
Sergeant Mohammed had his men and women hard at work, some were still cable-tying the prisoners while a pair of them were going through every last rifle they’d recovered, taking the ammo for themselves and removing the firing mechanisms.
Once processed, the technicians formed quiet huddles that exchanged little more than sheepish looks. Their coveralls were streaked with cave dust and engine grease. Penny sat Jie down with a gaggle of his dad’s employees. The two she sat him next to scooted aside with their heads bowed.
Jie fidgeted a little, trying to make himself comfortable on the rough rock floor.
Penny looked down at Jie and folded her arms. “Y’all don’t have to say anything if you do not want to, but your arrest is being recorded and any assistance you provide will be taken into consideration during sentencing. Now where’s your Paw?”
“What am I being charged with?” Jie glared at Penny.
“Well seeing as you tried to pull my gun outta my hands I’d like to say it’s ‘assaulting an officer of the law’. Seeing as you failed to actually do anything I’m gonna have to settle for ‘Obstructing Justice’.”
Jie fumed quietly for a moment. “He’s in the mine.”
“I gathered that sweetie. Where?”
“Take the monorail.” Jie grumbled. “He’s in the main refinery section.”
Penny nodded. “What about forces, how many robots does he have out there?”
Jie did his best to shrug with his hands behind his back. “I dunno, we had about a hundred all up, I don’t know how many’s left now.”
Penny unfolded her arms. “Alright. Thank you Jie. I hope your Paw’s as helpful as you.”
Sergeant Mohammad strode up with his rifle slung casually on his shoulder.
“Area secure Ranger. How you want to proceed?”
Penny tilted her head towards the monorail. “All aboard for the mine train.”
“You don’t want to leave anyone back here to guard our prisoners?”
“You’ve disarmed them and your people are up at the hangar so there’s no way they’re getting out. We’re going to need every gun we’ve got for the mine, they outnumber us almost three to one.”
Sergeant Mohammed gave Penny a concerned look. “Do we want to call the Garrison Troops in on this?”
Penny mused for a moment. “In all the excitement I forgot about the Garrison. Pity they’ll take too long to mobilise, by the time they get out here Lin will have a made his move, possibly escaped… But they might just get here in time to set up a cordon around the mountain. Call ’em. Tell ’em it’s on my authorisation.”
A minute later, the Constabulary boarded the monorail into the mine and set off. Jie watched the train pull out and disappear down the tunnel. He waited. He waited until even the sound of the train rolling down the line faded away. Then he slipped the monofilament line from his sleeve and sliced through his cable tie. The huddled technicians stared at him in horror as he got up.
“What are you doing?” One asked.
“How did you get out?” Asked another.
“Just a little trick I got out of a book.” Jie grinned. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Are you crazy?” One of the techs, the biggest of them, yelled from the edge of the group. “They’ve got people watching the hangar, we don’t stand a chance.”
Jie held out his hands. “C’mon guys, there’s like fifteen of us. I heard that Ranger say they needed everyone they had for the mine so they probably don’t even have anyone on guard.”
“They do.” The big tech insisted. “I heard them. We’re better off staying here and cooperating, they’ll take it easy on us.”
Jie sighed and let his shoulders sag. “Alright, fine. You guys stay here, I’m getting out. Have fun in the joint.”
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