Valkyrie 1-1

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Despite the harness holding him in place, the man rocked with every pocket of turbulence and the rattle from the equipment strapped to him was loud enough to pierce the thick respirator that covered his face. Once again he reached up to scratch at the itch under his eye, only to swear when his gloved hands did nothing more than crinkle the hood that sealed him off from the rest of the world. The heavy, awkward mass of tanks and filters on his back prevented kept him from sinking into his seat and his back burned after hours of flight. A distorted sigh trudged through the cargo hold as he checked his gear by touch alone, not by choice but, by necessity as the inside of the plane was pitch black. Light activated the virus after all.

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“Valkyrie 3-1, inserting…now.”

The distance attenuated the transmission, making it sound as if he was listening through a tin can and string instead of the most advanced satellite communications network ever devised. There were disturbing reports of spore clouds so thick that no communications could get in, or out. They said something was in those clouds, watching from the corner of your eye. A bead of sweat worked its way down the bridge of his nose, and for a second he considered cracking the seals, anything for a second of relief. His harness was too tight, and the rubbery suit squeezed the breath from his chest. By now they would deep in the storms that surrounded an epicenter, with choking clouds of spores swirling around just outside the thin skin of the plane. A skin built by the lowest bidder, just like his suit. Was he rubbing his wrists to relieve the tension or work the seals? Was it his imagination, or was the slightest tear on the tape quadruple wrapped around arms?

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“Valkyrie 1-1, please step to the end of the cargo bay and prepare to insert.”

With a startled grunt, he looked towards the end of cargo bay where a sliver of polluted light appeared. The light vanished as soon as it appeared, blocked by a dense mass of ragged matter that coated him and the cargo hold in seconds. Something was rattling around inside the hold and the plane bucked, then dropped for several seconds before catching itself. He clung for dear life, trying to silence his racing heart to better listen for the tell-tale hiss of a suit breach.

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“Valkyrie 1-1 inserting…now” and with that, he plummeted off into the night. A carpet of flesh glistened in the moonlight, and somewhere deep in the center of it was his goal. The planes may have been drones, but they wouldn’t return for someone without a sample, and they would incinerate him in the hold if he was infected. This wouldn’t destroy the sample, after all, the syringes were tough enough to stop a bullet in a pinch.

The wind whistled past him as he dove…or was it rushing in?

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