The year is 2645 A.D. and man has extended his reach far into the vastness of space. A war for galactic dominance was fought from the years 2418 A.D. to 2430 A.D. and resulted in the division of space into three Sectors: the Asgard, the Republic of Allied Systems( the Free Territories), and Origin. This war was fought over a powerful new energy source called Fridium.  Interests in what would become the Asgard and Free Sectors sought to gain strangleholds on all Fir-ore producing planets. The Galatic Central Government rightly saw this as a threat to their power and charged both upstart "governments" with treason. The war never reached a conclusion and eventually an uneasy peace was founded in the Treaty of Athens.

Rebellion has sprung up in the Asgard Sector as the Mining Consortium seeks greater influence and profits in the exporting of the Fridium it helps produce. The Valhallan Holders declared the Mining Consortium traitors to the principles upon which the Asgard Sector was founded. This rebellion has continued for nearly thirteen years.

Mission Time: Twenty-Eight Hundred Hours Valhalla Standard Time

Location: Third moon of Valhalla, Asgard Sector

Mission Objective: Fridium Refining Facility

The Fridium Refining Facility on the third moon of Valhalla, Kor, was the largest producer of the ore in the entire sector. It had long been a target of the Mining Consortium's Black Ops Unit, the Aesir, but the concentric rings of Orbital Defense Stations, Tactical Battle Groups, and minefields had made the moon all but impregnable until now. Intelligence had finally managed to crack the maze of security and had a plan to covertly insert the Aesir. Intel had even managed to engineer an escape route and that was something the Aesir had learned never to count on.

Ore Transport Fifteen settled onto a loading platform attached to Refining Station Seven. The entire Facility was set up under an environmental dome so that the workers were free to work in a pressurized atmosphere.

It almost made the Aesir's job too easy.

Sergeant Fry-739 released the magnetic seals holding him to the anterior surface of the portside wing. His combat armor ticked slightly as it converted excess heat from the ride into energy it could use to power itself. The Aesir Hostile Environment Exoskeletal Armor was designed to make a single Aesir the equivalent of a company of conventional Space Marines. The suit was a full exoskeleton with retractable helmets and gauntlets. The HEX armor was capable of operation in every environment yet encountered by man within a certain limit.

"Okay, Aesir, we will make it short and sweet," Captain Slash-357 sub-vocalized over the squad's battle-net, "Intel says that the Holders actually gave the Refinery workers a fucking holiday. I know you've all memorized the mission data. Let's get to work.

Fry-739 looked towards the edge of the wing and saw his team leader, Lieutenant Blast-860, raised one arm. That one arm swung off the edge of the wing and with it went the Lieutenant. Quickly and with perfect synchronicity the entire team, four Aesir in all, rolled off the end of the wing. Fry-739 rolled into the five meters of air separating him from the ground with supreme confidence in his battle armor and his abilities.  Fry-739 activated his boot repulsors two seconds from contact with the loading platform to quiet his landing. He reached back and detached his particle cannon from his back. The triggering mechanism was located on the right-handed horizontal grip.

Fry-739's vision was far from what a human would have considered normal. The cybernetic implants in his eyes enabled him to call forth any number of Tactical Holographic Displays as well as a host of sight amplification methods. His THD was set to active battle mode right now. A targeting reticle was centered in his vision, the data for it being directly transmitted from the weapon itself, while a circular sensor reading in the upper left quadrant of his visual field let him know who and what was in the immediate vicinity. Stats for remaining ammo, power pack charge, and an assortment of other functions of his armor scrolled across the lower portion of his vision. Fry-739 dimmed the information and left the reticle and sensor grid at a minimal setting. He had learned early in his life that both could be fatal distractions.

Lieutenant Blast-860 signaled for them to move out and then a voice rang out from somewhere ten meters in front of and three above them.

"Lower your weapons and you will be spared!"

The response the voice got was instant, if not exactly what the voice was asking for. Fry-739, already oriented exactly towards the source of the voice, went to one knee and sighted on a shadowed portion of the catwalk that ringed the loading platform. His remaining teammates organized themselves at the other three compass points, weapons at the ready, with machine-like precision.

"That is very good, Aesir, but all of your skill won't save you this time."

Fry-739 knew the Aesir were the best soldiers that had ever existed and that there was only one outfit that could hope to openly confront them.

Vanir.

The shadows cloaking the catwalk seemed to roll back; no additional lights were activated, to reveil a platoon of sketally thin beings in suits akin to HEX armor. The Tech. Division had been clamoring for a chance to capture a Vanir Psychic Augmentation Gear since they had received the first holo. The psychic, the only word for the abilities the Vanir utilized, powers the Vanir possessed were sometimes more than a match for the supreme martial prowess of the Aesir. Each of the Vanir was surrounded by brilliant blue-green auras and had some form of arm cannon sighted at an Aesir.

"Do you yield?" the leader, indistinguishably from the bulk of the Vanir, asked in a voice that seemed to vibrate Fry-739's boot soles. "Or are the rumors that they cut out your tongues true?"

"We can talk," Captain Slash-357 said from the other side of the transport. "We never surrender."

"You can not possibly hope to survive. You have been outmaneuvered and are outgunned. All the Vanir here are Alpha-Class and have been in combat with your kind before. " the Vanir commander seemed anxious to get them to avoid a confrontation.

"Our numbers look even, Vanir. I am confident in the abilities of my men. We would never plan an ambush with so few men. I am curious. How did you find plan this mission? "

"We go where the Corps. tells us," the Vanir answered self-assuredly.

A hologram suddenly sprang to life against the high ceiling of the loading platform. It was a dual hologram. General Lomar and Commandant Brice of the Asgard Marine Corps were being broadcast side by side. The shock was nearly enough to make Fry-739 lower his weapon.

Nearly.

"Forgive us for interrupting these warm discussions," the Commandant's voice was as Fry-739 had always secretly imagined it and it left him with a feeling of dread that was utterly unknown to him. "Some of us have better things to do than watch pathetic relics trade banter."

General Lomar was shaking his head slightly,"I thought those R&D boys trained you freaks better than this. You're supposed to attack and keep attacking until they're all dead. I guess it's a good thing you're being replaced for the next offensive. "

"Commandant," the Vanir leader foolishly identified himself by bowing at the waist. "What is the meaning of this?"

"To be quite frank, V-Three-One-Two, we at Command have always viewed the Vanir as failures. You retain far too many human weaknesses. You, like your counterparts, are about to be cycled out by the next generation of weaponry. The rebellion is over and both units usefulness has come to an end. Farewell, Vanir, you've served me well."

"One thing, General," Captain Blast-860 said," Why make the mistake of letting us know that we have been betrayed? If any of us survive, you know we will seek retribution; it is how we were designed. "

The General laughed, something Fry-739 had thought he would never hear, and says, "To see just how human you freaks were. Even the hardiest of human soldiers would react in someway to being betrayed but you freaks just sit there like robots. It really is sad. Oh well. At least our new weapons have an excuse. Goodbye, freaks. "

The hologram winked out and the large docking platform was once again silent.

"Contact!" Sear-850 shouted just as what seemed like a hundred sensor contacts flared to life in Fry-739's vision.

Shapes, tall and lithe detached themselves from the shadowy walls and ceiling. Fry-739 switched to night vision and tried to track the nearest sensor contact. It was a robot of obviously advanced technology. The robot was bipedal and bi-symmetrical but there all humanoid similarities ended. It stood nearly three meters in height on two reverse-jointed legs. Four, three-fingered arms jutted from its oversized torso. It seemed to be carrying no weapons that Fry-739's scanner could detect. There seemed to be dozens of them falling from the ceiling and detaching themselves from the walls. Anger was something that the Aesir had been trained to suppress but Fry-739 felt it rising now. Twice now the Aesir had been completely taken by surprise. It was not acceptable. Fry-739's targeting reticule settled on his target's ovular head and tracked it as the robot moved fluidly towards their positions.

There was no warning for what happened next.

Particle beams crackled their way through the Aesir's positions. The volume and accuracy of the beams was impossible to completely avoid even with the Aesir's ability to Blur. Fry-739 dive-Blurred behind a landing strut, his body dumping immense amounts of heat into his armor, and calculated how many strikes from a particle beam the notoriously weak struts of an ore transporter could take. The incoming beam fire stopped but it sounded as though the Vanir were in a spot of trouble themselves.

"Head count." the Captain spoke calmly over the battle-net.

Fry-739 sent the pulse through his locater implant that let the captain know he was alive. His targeting reticule automatically switched to scanning mode whenever he held his particle cannon in the "guard" position and focused on an object to his far right. Fry-739 oriented on the object and felt a twinge of emotion at the sight of Lieutenant Blast-860's charred remains. HEX armor was capable of taking several direct hits from infantry-level particle cannons with minimal damage. The charred remains of the lieutenant's body looked as though it had been struck by armored cavalry-level particle cannons.

"Converge your fire on single target by fire team. Set cannons to anti-armor infinite repeater. This is a tactical retreat, Aesir. Rendezvous at tertiary evac point alpha. If reaching point alpha becomes unlikely then scout for alternative points. Rally point is Zero-Fenris-Six-Seven. I will see you there. Slash-737 out. "

"Targeting on me." Sergeant Burns-902 was next in command of their fire team. "I have the target."

Fry-739's targeting reticule suddenly veered back toward where the mysterious robots seemed to have taken the last thirty seconds to pause. It was possible they needed to recharge their particle weapons. The Aesir turned and kneeled behind his cover. Long years of experience brought his weapon instinctively to the exact position of his targeting reticule. The circular outline turned a brilliant red in his vision as his armor confirmed a target lock.

"Fire!"

The command was followed by nearly instantaneous action. Fry-739 leaned out from cover and pressed the trigger. Several shining particle beams converged on the lead robot and each was absorbed by a shimmering energy shield. The Aesir were trained to ignore the improbable, it so often occurred with their operational statues, but what Fry-739 had just witnessed was impossible. No military that Intel was aware of had perfected powerful enough generators to power infantry-level shield generators.

Fry-739 never stopped firing though and neither did his fellow Aesir. Particle cannons set to AAIR used up a charge very, very quickly. The charge percentage for his cannon began to flash as the fire team continued to pour fire into the energy shield. The Aesir had no experience in fighting against enemies with enemy shields but Fry-739 suspected that Burns-903 was hoping that enough energy could overload the generator just as with Naval BattleCruisers.

It was then that the energy shield finally failed and the beams made contact with the armored chassis of the robot. The thing did not fall apart even though it was propelled nearly three meters back by the force of the combined blasts. The light cast off from the impact concealed how much damaged they had done to the machine. Finally the charge of Fry-739's particle cannon ran down to zero. Soon the entire fire team was drained. The machine had managed to land on its feet, though one seemed to be damaged, and suddenly sprang to life. All around the Aesir's position the machines came to life. Fry-739, a little slow in beginning the process of changing his cannon's power pack, was unencumbered as he Blurred once again to dive behind cover. Time slowed down to a crawl when an Aesir blurred and the instant was seared into Fry-739's near perfect memory. Each member of his fire team was struck simultaneously by multiple particle beams from three separate sources. The spot that he had so hastily vacated was struck at the same time. This time the firing did not cease and the robots began to move among the Aesir. The battlecries of his brother Aesir roared through the battle-net as some foolishly tried to engage the enemy with their sonic warhammers.

"Fall back!" Captain Slash-357 shouted through the battle-net.

Fry-739 was effectively pinned down behind his cover. There was no way he would be able to make it to an exit through the withering fire of the machines. His mind raced through the data he had collected unconsciously about the battlefield. Within seconds he remembered the maintenance tunnels beneath Refining Stations. There was a grate only a meter or so from his current position.

Within moments he was gone.

***

Fry-739 crouched in the shadow of a storage building opposite a generic dome shuttle hangar. If Intel had actually done their job this time then there would be a fully equipped light freighter inside. Fry-739 was about to rise from his crouch when he felt something press into the back of his helmet.

"Don't make the slightest move, Aesir, or you will die?" voice, husky but unmistakably feminine, whispered.

There were distinct undertones of fear and uncertainty in her voice. This Vanir was probably newly appointed to her rank and unsure of herself. Many Aesir were like this fresh out of training and Fry-739 had often been paired with them. It was best to speak slowly and reassuringly to them as though they were infants. Of course Fry-739 would not hesitate to snap this infant's frail neck.

"What are you doing here?" the Vanir asked, pressing the weapon more firmly against the base of his helmet.

"This is my evac point."

"That's impossible. This is our evac point!" the weapon lifted from his neck and Fry-739 needed no better opportunity than that.

Time slowed down as he accelerated his body's metabolism for the last time and he heard the slow gasp of the Vanir as she realized her mistake. He could actually see her hand tightening around the handle of the handcannon she wielded as she prepared to fire. Fry-739 had a hand around the throat ribbing of her armor and his sidearm against the side of her helmet. At this range even a blaster would be able to penetrate.

"This is Fry-739. The evac point is a trap. Repeat. Evac is a trap."

His only response was static. Somehow the battle-net had been jammed.

"Let me go, Aesir. It's a trap! I have to warn my commander!" the Vanir sounded almost frantic but Fry-739 never relaxed his grip.

"You're psychic so use your powers," the Vanir relaxed instantly as though the thought has never occurred to her.

Without warning she began to struggle even more frantically and began whispering fearfully,"I can't, I can't, I can't-"

Fry-739 shook her once, hard, before saying," You can't what?"

"S-S-Someone's flooding the area with powerful waves. I can't communicate."

It was then that one wall of the hangar blew out in a great blast of flame. Bodies began to rain down from the sky and a touch of fear, for the first time in years, touched Fry-739's heart. Sensor contacts began appearing around the immediate perimeter, a half a dozen inside, of the hangar. Several began orienting in their direction.

"How fast can you run, Vanir?" Fry-739 asked, before turning and sprinting away deeper into the shadows.

***

An hour's passage saw Fry-739 entering the Overseer Quarters through a maintenance tunnel. A sensor contact made him pause, take cover, and get a bead on the opening to the tunnel. An armored head popped up and Fry-739 almost fired before he recognized the slim features of Vanir armor. It was obviously the Vanir that had caught him unawares back in the alley.

"I know you are there, Aesir, and I followed you because you seemed to know where you are going. Now come out from between those crates."

Fry-739 rose from cover and stared at the Vanir for a long moment before turning away without a word.

"Do you really think the Site Overseer has some kind of hidden transport with stealth capabilities?"

Fry-739 said nothing as he continued through the dim hallways of the storage areas beneath the quarters. The stealth transports were usually for only the senior staff and accessible only through an elevator in the central hub. The only problem was that the sub-levels varied by dome. A few domes Fry-739 had infiltrated had enough sub-levels to house a city-sized population. The Aesir slid back the cover of the compad on his gauntlet and called up a schematic of the building. A tiny holographic representation of the Quarters sprang to life above his forearm. His position was marked by a blinking blue sphere. Fry-739 was on sub-level three and there were several more beneath them. That meant he would have to actually go up two levels to check for the elevator there. If the robots isolated his location before he located the elevator then he was as good as dead. That just meant he would have to move faster.

***

V-659 frantically tried to keep up with the Aesir that she had almost killed an hour ago. The Vanir had been taught that the Aesir feared them and their psychic abilities. Her training cadre had been thoroughly instilled with the belief that they were vastly superior to their counterparts. This was V-659's first combat mission even though she was Alpha-Class. Her Cadre-Commander had seen fit to place her in Alpha training fresh from completion of her training. The Vanir were trained, as well as engineered, to be emotionless, but V-659 was terrified. Her force commander was probably dead as well as her strike team leader. The thought that she was the last nearly made her immobile with dread. When the evacuation point had been compromised V-659 had felt her muscles slacken and she started hyperventilating. The only thing that had saved her had been the command tones the Aesir had apparently used on her. Instinct had taken over and she had done her best to keep up with the huge soldier. She had almost lost him, he moved so fast, before he entered a maintenance tunnel. The narrow confines had just barely allowed her to keep up with him.

Now V-659 watched, willing her body back to prime operating efficiency, as the Aesir studied the central pillar of this large building they had entered. It seemed as though he didn't even notice she was there. The Vanir knew how fast the deceptively bulky soldier could move and most definitely did not want to test that theory. V-659 was so focused on regaining a portion of her lost stamina that she didn't notice when a panel slid open beneath the Aesir's probing fingers.

Aura contacts suddenly flared to life at the maximum range of the sensor screen on her THD.  They were the machines there was no doubt about it and it looked as though the Aesir had no idea they were coming.

"Whatever you're planning on doing, do it fast," V-659 spoke up hesitantly.

The Aesir paused, straightened from his examination of the pillar, and stared at her for several long seconds.

"Tell me," he finally said, his voice fairly ringing with command tones.

 "I've got at least seven separate Aura contacts. Mechanical in nature and emitting Fridium level energy waves," V-659 answered automatically as she would to a Vanir superior.

The Aesir made a low, animalistic noise and turned back to the panel. V-659 edged closer and peered over his massive shoulder. It looked to be a standard government Guardian control panel. She knew she could get it hotbooted in seconds. The Aura's had already closed nearly half the distance.

"Can I have a look? They're almost here," V-659 tried to keep the fear out of her voice but she knew he could tell.

The Aesir backed up without a word and ran back up the tunnel they had just come from. V-659 put his activities out of her mind as she held a palm out to the device. It took only a millisecond of time and concentration to extend her will into the circuitry of the panel. Unfortunately the encryption on somebody attempting a hotboot was tougher than she had expected. It would take her at least a full minute. The sensor contacts were already within thirty meters of their position.

The Aesir finally returned and settled to one knee beside her. He held some kind of remote detonator in his hand. A part of her mind was awed at the calm the Aesir radiated in spite of the sure knowledge that death was mere moments away. The sounds of metallic feet rapidly clicking away on the grated floors slowly began to register.

"We're not going to make it," V-659 cried, frantically doubling her efforts.

The Aesir never took his eyes off of the tunnel in front of them. V-659 thought she was going to give herself a stroke with the speed at which she was working but she kept at it. Then she finally hotbooted the panel faster than she'd ever done to any circuitry. She let out a small cry of joy as the first robotic form came into view down the tunnel. V-659 let out a tiny sob, a door opened in the pillar, and the Aesir tapped the button on the detonator.

"Down!" the Aesir's roar was instantly lost in the thunderous explosion that rocked the building around them.

V-659 dove to the floor just as the air was forcibly sucked from the room by the shaped charges the Aesir had obviously placed in every access tunnel. The pressure waves from the explosions were designed to expand in a more or less forward direction but there was always some backlash. An unarmored human would have had their lungs seared by the heat of the blasts alone. Even the exoskeleton armor V-659 wore did not protect her from the disorienting effects of the pressure wave. So it was with some surprise that she felt an iron hand grip her by the arm and haul her into the lift that she had revealed in the central pillar.

The Aesir closed the lift and the floor seemed to drop out from under them. The rate of descent was fantastic and the trip continued for nearly a full minute. It was enough time for V-659 to regain her feet and her faculties. The Aesir stood as still as a statue, braced against the wall opposite the door, with his huge particle cannon at the ready. The lift stopped, the doors opened, and the Aesir bolted from his place with frightening speed. This role-reversal was truly horrifying to a Vanir that had always thought herself so much more terrifying than her enemy. There was no choice but to follow the Aesir's lead though if she had any hope to survive this bizarre betrayal.

The room she entered seemed to be a single-ship launching platform. A small access lift led up to the scaffolding where the assumed stealth ship was located. The Aesir was already at the life and looked as though he would toggle the activation stud that instant.

"W-wait!" V-659 cringed inwardly at the nearly pleading tone in her voice.

The Aesir slid his thumb along the stud just as V-659's lead foot touched the edge of the lift. V-659 fixed the giant being with her most intimidating look before realizing he would not be able to see it through her visor. Her mysterious savior suddenly raised his particle cannon and fired a searing energy beam into the lift. The lights in the life dimmed and the pillar had partially collapsed into lift tube. When the access lift stopped, the Aesir turned and marched along the scaffolding, while V-659 hurried to keep up.

Suspended above the chamber was a sleek looking Valhallan Stealth Transport, Grade A by the looks of its thruster configuration, and V-659's legs were wobbly with relief. She felt a supreme failure at that moment. They should have terminated her before she had been born. V-659 felt and thought all of these things as the Aesir located the control terminal. The soldier began rapidly tapping in commands even while the transport was being moved into its boarding position. It was one of the smaller transport models but it would do for only two passengers. No weapons, shielding, or battle armor meant that they would have to depend on its stealth capabilities to get them away.

A boarding catwalk extended to meet the airlock of the transport. The craft was streamlined, probably capable of atmospheric flight, with twin thrusters to either side of the aft section of the fuselage. Within another thirty seconds the transport was in boarding position and the Aesir jogged quickly to the airlock. V-659 walked quickly after him and just barely made it through the closing airlock doors. The interior doors opened quickly because the hangar was pressurized. The Aesir continued moving as though V-659 had ceased to exist. That assumption was quickly proven wrong as they made their way to the cockpit.

"Have you ever flown one of these, Vanir?" the Aesir's deep voice bouncing off the sparkling white walls of the corridor made V-659 stumble slightly.

"No." she answered, unconsciously trying to mimic the Aesir's tone.

"You plot a course to the nearest Accelerator while I prep the ship. I am understood," it was more of a statement than a question.

"I understand."

The two moved through the relatively narrow, compared to the Aesir's massive frame, corridor quickly. A number of doors went unnoticed as they hurried to the cockpit. The Aesir had seen enough in his military career to know that the machines would definitely not give up easily and the Vanir was so frightened that she could only think of escaping as quickly as possible. Within moments the two had entered the cramped, two-person cockpit and were taking their seats.

The navigators chair was situated in a recessed alcove to the left of the door. The pilot's seat was in the center of the room facing three faintly iridescent panels that V-659 assumed would give him a three-dimensional view of space in-flight. Such matters were not her concern, she reminded herself, as she settled into the chair. V-659 retracted her helmet, she always worked better with an uncovered head, and powered up the terminal before her. The system was not as modern as V-659 would have assumed from the exterior of the craft but who knew how long the emergency vehicle had been sitting there.

Less than two minutes later V-659 had reviewed detailed schematics of the shuttle and managed to plot a course that would have them at a System Accelerator in less than thirty minutes. The Aesir, in the meantime, had gotten the transport prepped for departure and she could feel the launching platform reconfiguring itself. The trio of flatscreens had disappeared to reveal a view that was so real one would be tempted to think they could walk into it. A myriad number of sensory data, both internal and external, was sprawled throughout the edges of each screen.

"Strap in." the Aesir said, following his own advice.

V-659 activated the restraint straps and felt them slip over her shoulders, around her waist, ankles, and feet. She dialed up her own holographic forward viewscreen and watched as the transport oriented its forward section towards the floor. There was no feeling of falling though because the onboard gravity generator was compensating to keep their orientation normal. A line appeared down the center of the floor beneath them and suddenly irised open to reveal a circular tunnel carved into the rock that little scarcely larger than the transport.

"Here we go."

The Aesir initiated launch just as a blinding white light flashed from the direction of the life tube. Sudden acceleration briefly overloaded the inertial compensators and V-659 was pushed back into her seat. All thoughts concerning the mysterious flash of light were obscured by the dread she felt when she saw the apparently solid wall of rock the transport was hurtling forward. A huge explosion broke the rock up into tiny fragments as the ship rocketed past the twenty meter mark. A fine laser net encompassing nearly the entire tunnel was cast at the five meter mark. The transport blasted through a fine dusting of rock. V-659's fear decreased somewhat as they cleared five more of the barriers before blasting out of the launch tube at a speed that far outclassed the thruster specifications for the ship. The tunnel must have been an interplanetary Accelerator. V-659 hooked into the aft sensor array and watched as a lance of white fire erupted from the surface of the moon. Within seconds Kor was nothing more than one spec amongst many.

V-659 began turning to face the Aesir when she felt a hand clamp around the back of her neck. It squeezed with unbelievable power and she felt herself being pushed through space. Pain blossomed in her cheek as her face met the unforgiving alloy of the ship. A cry burst its way from her mouth before she could stop it. A terrifying thrumming sound suddenly echoed loudly in the tight confines of the cockpit. She had been trained to recognize every known variation of that sound. It was the sound of an Aesir powering up his sonic warhammer.  Fear wrapped itself around V-659 and she lost control.

"Please don't kill me!! Pleasepleaseplease!!" desperation made her already unnaturally quick mind work that much faster. "You need me!! I can program the Accelerator with coordinates to any planet within range!! You'll need me to erase the records!! They'll find you!! That's what they do!!"

V-659 struggled to pant through the unrelenting grip of the Aesir as long terrifying minutes passed. Then the thrumming stopped and she was released.

"I'll let you live, Vanir, but I will kill you without hesitation if you use your tricks on me."

V-659 turned, rubbing her throbbing throat, and watched as the Aesir drew a six-inch blade from somewhere on his armor.

"What's that for?" she asked, hating the slight tremble of her voice.

"I have to remove my tracking implants. I should be done by the time we reach the Accelerator," the Aesir retracted his helmet and for the first time V-659 looked into intense dark brown eyes. The Aesir held up a thermal grenade and fixed her with his hard stare.

"If I think my mind is being played with then we die."

V-659 could only nod numbly as the Aesir backed into the corridor.

"Good."

Then he was gone.