Commander George Owens stood in hangar 723 of AVENGER. It was a huge bay used for storage and maintenance of visiting crafts. A sizable force was assembled within the hangar. There was a total of twenty soldiers along with five constables, and a few techs. The constables were there to escort Benjamin to the detainment block and make sure that that he remained secured. Ten of the twenty were a boarding party, outfitted in heavy armor. The remaining ten soldiers were a security team outfitted with sonic weapons and light body armor.
One of the soldiers in light armor turned to face the others. “Listen up.” His voice was serious and commanding. “Once the shuttle lands, it will be grappled and locked. When I give the order, Team One will take up positions to secure the area. Simmons, you have the security detail.” He paused, nodding to one of the other soldiers in heavy armor. “Koht, you have Team Two. Once Team One is in place, your Team will board the shuttle. Follow procedure. This man is considered armed and dangerous. He is a terrorist.” He paused again, turning his gaze across the assembled soldiers. “We do this by the book.” He paused again, and then shouted, “Do you get me?!”
“We get you, sergeant!” The soldiers responded in almost perfect unison.
The sergeant turned towards Commander Owens, and nodded. Owens nodded back.
“Well done, Sergeant.”
Owens had waited for this day for a long time. He had first crossed paths with Benjamin Clemson on Hera during the Battle of Serenity Valley. The Browncoat Sergeant was attached the the 57th Overlanders. Clemson led a small special forces team into a fortified position that he was assigned to hold. During the conflict, Clemson and his unit failed to take the bunker but at great loss to his men. His own brother died under his command, shot by Clemson himself. He vowed to kill Clemson if he ever saw him again.
The opportunity presented itself after the war. Clemson had started a small smuggling business based out of Persephone. He was Bound By Law, and being held for transition to an undisclosed Alliance prison camp. Owens pulled some strings, and managed to ge assigned to the prisoner transport. He confronted Clemson, and attempted to murder him in cold blood.
The entire thing was a flawless plan, or so it seemed. He would extract his vengeance on the criminal who killed his brother. The scene would be staged to look like a failed jail break, and no questions would be asked. Only the plan had a single glitch: a woman named Quinn.
Quinn was stationed at the Academy at the same time that Clemson was being picked up for transition. She recognized the Browncoat as a folk hero within the War for Unification. Quinn seemed to be a promising student, but she had learned a little too much about the true nature of the Academy, the Institute, and Project: Oracle. She was looking for a way out and saw it with Benjamin Clemson.
Commander Owens lifted his right hand up to his face, and stroked two fingers along the ridge of his crooked nose. Quinn had laid in wait until the prisoner transport vessel arrived with Clemson. She incapacitated the pilot, and then took control of the small ship. She then arrived at the detainment center moments after he spring his trap. She interfered and helped Clemson get the upper hand in the confrontation. During the fight, the Browncoat smuggler was able to land a few blows and played some “sweet chin music” on his face. The result was a broken nose and a lastly disfigurement that was a constant reminder of dishonor.
“Sir.” The voice of the sergeant brought Owens back to reality. “The shuttle has left atmosphere and is en route to AVENGER.”
Owens smirked. “Good. Maintain visual contact with the Shuttle and be ready for some kind of trick. This man has no honor. He is a smuggler, terrorists, and murderer. He cannot be trusted.” He gave the Alliance sergeant a sidelong glance.”Do you understand, Sergeant Elliot?”
Elliot nodded. “Yes, sir.” He spoke into the intercom, using Sino to communicate with the operators of the escort vessels. He spoke with them briefly, and then returned his attention to his Commander. “Sir, the operators report that they are monitoring the shuttle via Federal Network. Confirmation that the prisoner is alone, and piloting the shuttle.”
“I want to see, Sergeant.”
Sergeant Elliot looked around at the assembled Alliance personnel. Before he could say a word, one of the techs stepped forward. He was already pushing buttons on a handheld datapad. After a few seconds, he handed the datapad to the Sergeant who in turn offered it to Commander Owens.
Owens watched the Federal Network symbol slowly fade to be replaced by a fluid image of the interior of a shuttle craft cockpit. It was small, and plain. Benjamin Clemson was front and center, holding the wheel. From time to time, the smuggler’s eyes would glance off screen or he would move as if adjusting something on the instrument panel. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
“Very good.” He handed the datapad back to the tech directly. “Well done, Sergeant Elliot. When this is all over, my report to Parliament will show your excellent performance during this operation.”
Owens continued to wait until the docking bay finally opened, and the shuttle slowly came to rest within the hangar. The two escort ASREV ships landed, as well, one on either side of the shuttle. After the bay doors were sealed, the soldiers burst into action.
The security team broke off into twos, positioning themselves at angles that would give fields of fire against the shuttle. Each subunit of two fell into practiced formation with one solider kneeling and the other slightly behind standing with rifles aimed at the shuttle.
The boarding team followed. They approached the shuttle door, and gave an order for Clemson to open it. The shuttle door whooshed open slowly, lowering to form an entrance ramp for boarding. The interior door remained closed, a safety feature with most vessels outfitted for use in and out of atmosphere.
Owens stepped forward, and some of the soldiers adjusted. This wasn’t a part of the plan but none of them were going to question the Commander. They knew George Owens well. They knew of his ruthlessness and impatience. They knew that questioning him usually resulted in summary execution. None of them wanted to die today, especially not at the hands of their Commander.
“Open the door,” Owens commanded. “Now.”
The lead specialist reached out and placed his hand on the door. In his other hand, he held a device called a “stunner.” The device was designed to be used much like a grenade, setting off a sonic wave that would neutralize everyone within a small area of effect. The specialist pulled on the latch, and slid the door open to show the interior of the shuttle.
George Owens looked into the shuttle, and through the cabin to the cockpit. His eyes widened somewhat in surprise. Instead of Benjamin Clemson, he saw a young man in Alliance armor tied to the operator’s seat. He was bound, and gagged. The screen in front of him was blank, displaying a blue screen. However a small device next to it was playing a loop of recorded data. It clearly showed Benjamin Clemson still flying the shuttle, looking off screen, and fiddling with instruments. He opened his mouth to shout to his men.
Opening the door had triggered a device. A boobytrap, if you will. T’sien would later claim that it was likely some of his best work. The trigger began and chain reaction that turned the entire shuttle into a Trojan horse.
First, the systems started to run on a contingency program. Quinn and Randa had programmed the shuttle’s systems to immediately begin to overheat the Lab where Edward had been brewing his medical grade methamphetamines. This resulted in a massive chemical explosion in the rear of the shuttle.
Although this was bad enough, the trigger also set off Edwards prized possession: a Squad Killer. The explosive device detonated when the shuttle door locked into the “open” position, detonating with a force designed to wipe out an entire unit on the battlefield. It was a device that was left over from the Unification War. It was extensively used during the Battle of Serenity.
The Squad Killer’s force set into motion the last part of the trap. Edwards had set several containers of chemicals near the landmine and secured them in place with straps and bungee cords. The resulting explosion ruptured the containers, sending caustic and flammable chemicals flying in all directions.
Lastly, the joint explosion of the meth lab in the rear and the landmine in the center of the shuttle affected the fuel systems in the shuttle. Through a combined effort of T’sien, Quinn, and Edwards they had rigged the fuel cells to engage, and thrust the shuttle forwards. Since the shuttle was secured, this rigging had an unexpected result. The fuel cells ruptured, turning the fuel cells into radioactive dirty bombs.
Hangar 723 was engulfed in what seemed like Hellfire as the shuttle detonated in a series of three rapid explosions.