Into The Dark Zone
a Roughnecks fanfic by Mr. Hook


Charlie Zim loved sleep. It was the one simple joys in life that military training had taught him never to take for granted. So it’s understandable that he was a tad cranky when he was unceremoniously woken at 03:50 hours by an insistent Pvt. Higgins. He especially didn’t like the part about sneaking out of the barracks like a cadet, trying to quietly get his Power Suit prepped in the dark. He also wasn’t particularly enthralled about getting suited up just so he could walk down to the Fed-Net Administration building that wasn’t more than two blocks away from the barracks where the rest of Alpha squad was still getting it’s much needed beauty sleep.

But then Higgins showed him the tape. And suddenly he was wide awake.

“Sir, that can’t be what I think it is...can it?” asked Higgins.

“Well, if you’re thinking that what you see is a SICON regulation load-lifter stock piling nuclear warheads in that bunker off to the right, then I’d say, yes, that is precisely what you think it is.”

“But doesn’t that violate the Earth-Tophet treaty? I mean, aren’t peacetime conditions supposed to be different than...”

“What it violates,” said Zim, “is the spirit of the law, even if some Intel think-tank figured out a way to avoid breaking the letter of the law.”

“So what do we do?” pleaded Higgins.

“Do? Son, there’s not much we can do, but I think we both know someone who can. General Redwing is a close personal friend of mine. She and I go way back, and if anyone can pull a few strings to prevent this situation from becoming an interstellar incident, General Redwing is our man. I mean, woman, for the job. You know what I mean.” Zim’s mind still wasn’t cranking on all cylinders, and coffee was a good two and half hours away.

“Yes, sir,” Higgins replied.

“Why don’t you get in contact with your Fed-Net friends and try that weather sat’ confirmation you talked about.” Zim suggested.

“Sir! Yes, sir!” Higgins got up to leave.

“And don’t go blabbing this just yet. Keep a lid on it. Excuse yourself from breakfast early, but don’t explain why. And meet me back here a 0700.”

“Yes, sir!” Higgins moved to leave again.

“And Higgins!”

“Yes sir?”

“The next time you decide to go joy riding in the middle of the night, be sure to clear it with me first...or make sure I don’t find out about it!”

“Sir! Yes, sir!” Higgins fled.

Zim watched him go with a mixture of disdain and grudging admiration. He wasn’t sure how he was going to get a hold of Gerneral Redwing on such short notice, but he was determined to nip this one in the bud. And if it put the Intel big wigs in their place for once, so much the better.

And here he’d been keeping an wary eye on Max Brutto this whole time. The one he should have been keeping an eye on was Higgins. That boy was going to be the death of him.

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