Andy Cruger winced at his many bruises, the gun of one of his captors pressed against his temple, the headache he still nursed and the pain from his old bones from weeks of mirco gravity, as he was forced into the large plexiglas tube.
He had heard about these things from OGJ headquarters and people who had taken several of the smaller Boskone bases. Meant for the ‘production’ of catgirls that the Boskones seemed to sell to everyone interested.
For a moment he silently cursed at Haruhi for sending the Apollo out into the belt to do recon on a suspected Boskone hide out.
Too bad that it had been. And that they had seen Apollo even if they had run on absolute minimum levels. Not that it was really hard to do with Apollo anyway. As the only waved parts were the drive and the life support and the rest was a near 1 to 1 copy of the original Apollo Command and Service Modules, there was not much to be seen. And with space being so damned large not very visible either.
"Be glad," one of the Boskones, one of those used car salesmen types said with a grin." You’ll go from your fifties back into your twenties. And I’m sure you’ll fetch a nice price when were done with you."
Andy looked up and into his face.
"Fuck you," he muttered. The Boskone just grinned, but kept himself from giving a reaction as the tube closed and the plastic skeleton presses uncomfortably into his back.
He felt how something liquid slowly flooded the tube and started to breathe in and out to get as much oxygen into his blood as he could. His personal best was at four minutes, but without moving he could stretch it to five minutes.
One of the bonus point of making it through Navy SEAL training and serving as one for six years. Through it was dulled by twenty five years as a civilian.
"It may be a tad uncomfortable," the Boskone said." Pray for unconsciousness."
He closed his eyes and then held his breath as he prepared to whatever would happen to him and the fluid pushed over his face. ‘A tad uncomfortable’... For Andy that meant it was going to be very painful. Maybe as painful at having to go through an op with your foot broken and without painkillers that may make you slow to react...
Going back to his training and long life, he tried to focus on something different then his current situation.
Then the pain started. Stronger and at the same time stranger then anything Andy had ever felt in his life.
Andy up from the table in front of him and to the faces of a pair of suits that screamed FBI.
"Agent Willard, FBI," the suit said and a badge was shown to Andy." Agent Dobson."
"What can I do for the FBI, Agent Willard?" Andy asked and tried to look as non-threatening as he could. Not that easy for a man in his mid fifties who looked like a body builder.
Willard did not look all that impressed.
"We heard that you are building a space craft," he said matter-of-factly." And that you may be in possession of Handwavium."
Andy snorted and shook his head, reaching out to grab his cane.
"None of that stuff anywhere near this hangar," he said and then mentioned towards the door leading inside the hangar." I’ll show you."
Opening the door and walking through it with a noticeable limp, he chuckled again as the pair of suits followed, well, suit.
"Accident?" Dobson asked.
"Work related," Andy noted." I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you."
Seeing Willard reach for his weapon, Andy raised his hand.
"Keep that gun away," he noted," and allow me to elaborate..."
He made a short pause as they walked towards the ‘work area’ of the hangar, hidden away by large tarps hanging from the ceiling.
"I’ve served this country as a Navy SEAL for six years until this got me out of that job. And you don’t have the security clearance to know what exactly happened..."
He reached one of the tarps and pulled it away, allowing the Agents to walk in.
"And does that look like it would go anywhere anytime soon? Aside from a Museum perhaps?"
Both Agents blinked a few times as they looked at the skeleton build of an Apollo Command Module, while the Service Module next to it was nearly done.
"If I’d wanted to go to space, I would have ‘waved my camper. Or hitched a ride with someone."
He smirked a little.
"Besides, Michael, Thomas and me build this thing since 2001, way before handwavium. And we want to get his done as close to the original specs as we can."
Willard went back to being unimpressed.
"And do you want to do with it when you’re done?"
Andy shrugged as he nodded at Martin who stuck his head out of the hatch of the Command Module.
"No idea," he said," maybe put it into my yard. Or give it to the museum."
The FBI agent gave him a flat glare.
"Hey, other people rebuild cars, planes or ships. We just chose to go with an Apollo."
He than walked to the Service Module.
"If you suspect handwavium anywhere here or at home of any of us, you are free to search for it. With a warrant of course. If you would now please excuse me?"
There was a flash of intense pain running through Andy’s body and he tried to open his mouth in a scream only to find that he couldn’t. Grasping for straws, he concentrated on a different memory to keep himself from going insane.
"Stellvia Station," Andy said into the microphone of the old style radio, its cord coiling in the microgravity of the Command Module. "This is Apollo, please come in."
"Apollo, this is Stellvia Traffic Control," a pleasant female voice came back over the radio." How can I help you?"
The three men in the Apollo Command Module smiled at each other and Andy brought the microphone back to his mouth.
"Stellvia Control, Apollo," he said, sticking to the old radio protocols." We are wondering if you have a place for us to dock."
He floated up to look at the long Docking adaptor that was docked to the Apollo’s docking system, a rather quick adaption based on the Apollo-Soyuz docking adaptor, only that this one contained a docking mechanism for the International Docking Standard that had been developed for the ISS.
"Apollo, I’m sure we can squeeze you in somewhere," the voice came back over the radio." Do you have special requirements?"
Looking out side he could see a few other space craft floating up next to them as they approached the ring station that was Stellvia. Through the word ‘space craft’ was somewhat broad when it came to what floated around outside of the Apollo.
"Is that a 1964 Shelly Cobra?" Martin Davis wondered out loud, blinking a few times, while the car in question moved closer to them.
"Looks like it," Thomas Erickson noted with a chuckle, making Martin and Andy join in for a moment.
"Stellvia Control, Apollo. We either need a docking port compliant with the International Docking Standard, or micro gravity hangar space. We’re not your normal car..."
"Apollo, I think we do have a docking port for you," the voice answered, sounding a little stunned.
Andy hoped that the girl on the other end was. It was not every time that you had an actual working Apollo floating around your station.
"I’m going to send you the coordinates for the port and..."
"Negative, Stellvia Control," Andy interrupted the girl." We are not capable of automatic docking. We’d need running light or something along that line."
By now the crowd of unusual space craft had increased, all of them wanting to take a look at the Apollo craft that slowly floated towards Stellvia.
"Apollo, please hold the line."
The three men looked at each other and chuckled. Their leaving of Earth had been a little rushed as the guys at the FBI had finally found out about their use of some handwavium when they had prepared for lift off. Not that it had helped the suits down on the ground any. And the Chair Force had send a flight of F-22, but those had not been able to catch up with the Apollo when it went straight up.
As Stellvia turned in front of them, the drift of the Apollo slowly pushed the Moon into view pretty much highlighting the station in front of it.
"Apollo, Stellvia Control," the girl came over the radio again." We got someone who is going to help you with the docking. He should come up to you at any moment."
"Stellvia Control, Apollo. Thanks for the help and sorry for the added work."
"No problem, Apollo. All part of the service."
Only a moment later something came up from the side and slowly and very carefully maneuvered around the Docking Adaptor and positioned itself in front of the view ports of the Apollo.
To Andy it looked like someone had build a large sled out of pipes, slapped a rocket engine one one end, added a few RCS thrusters and the front of a scooter to it. And a figure in a guine looking NASA EMU stood behind the scooter front. Heck, the suit still had NASA signatures on it, together with a patch reading ‘Whistler Orbital Sevices’.
The figure in the suit lifted a hand and pulled up the gold tinted visor. A man in his late thirties grinned back at them.
"Apollo, this is Orbital Sled Two," he said, the mans accent sounding British or Irish." I’m told you need some help with docking?"
Andy chuckled and gave the man a thumbs up through the view port.
"Sled Two, Apollo. You could say that. We got nothing that wasn’t in the original Apollo CM, well aside from the life support. So we have a little trouble with finding the docking port."
Silently the guy laughed and shook his head, before he returned the thumbs up.
"Apollo, you got big brass ones then. Just come along. I’ll show you the port."
"Roger that, Sled Two."
Another shot of intense pain flashed through Andy’s mind. It felt like it was only his mind as he could not feel his body anymore. For a moment he felt like he was going to go insane, but with the same stubborn determination that had pushed him through Hell Week, he tried to push that feeling of pain away and concentrate one something else.
"Martin, you are insane."
The 65 year old man in the silvery Mercury Space suit just grinned back at Andy as he slowly worked himself out of the seat of the Mercury and into the large empty hangar of the SkyLab Complex that only contained the Gemini additionally to the small black capsule.
"Not insane enough to not try my luck in space," the old man noted and kept grinning." Especially seeing that zero gravity does wonders for my rheumatism."
"Still does not change anything."
The old man kept chuckling, while Andy moved to secure the small capsule to the hull of the SkyLab module that was used as hangar.
"And you know that no one could have kept me from doing that. Especially not when my father worked on the Mercury Project."
"My way of saying thank you to him."
Andy just patted the older man on the back.
"I think were all here then," he noted." Lets get to the others."
"Don’t be so fast," he said." I got the feeling that we’re going to get some visitors you didn’t expect."
"Aside from you?"
Slowly they floated away from the Mercury and towards the connector node that kept the currently three modules of the SkyLab Complex together.
"Whistler isn’t going to deliver the other modules until the end of July."
"Andy!" they heard the yell of Thomas echo through the module." We got a visitor!"
Blinking and trying to ignore the chuckle coming from Martin, Andy sped up as he grabbed the next rail and pushed himself through the mostly micro gravity environment of the Command Module of the Complex.
"What’s up," he asked as he floated past a pair of improvised decks.
"Looks like we got a few crazy Russians wanting to join us."
"They call themselves Sojuz TMA-12..."
"Shouldn’t they go for the Soviets?"
"I asked them the same," Thomas said." But they said that they like being capitalists."
Behind them, Martin began to laugh out loud.
The mental pain was soon replaced by the return of a more bodily pain and a strange alien feeling. Andy could not put his finger on it, but the next jolt on nearly unbearable pain drowned out the alien feeling, making him concentrate more on his memories.
For a moment Andy wondered why the hell they had joined Operation Great Justice. Not only was that a stupid name for a pseudo military organization, but the entire thing felt more like some kids playing Risk or something like that.
Okay, so it sounded like a good idea at the time, but right now he was more and more on Fnords side about the whole thing.
There was just enough happening in favor of OGJ.
"What?" he asked and stared at the grainy black and white image of Kyon wincing back at him on the video communication system of the SkyLab Complex.
Sometimes the use of old technology to build everything around here had its negative sides.
"What does Haruhi think?" he asked." Or does she think at all?"
Kyon winced again and tried to look apologetic.
"I’m sure that you can do..."
"We are not equipped to run a Recon Mission," Andy said, interrupting Kyon." How does Haruhi think that we are going to do this. move up to that asteroid and observe it with binocs?"
Kyon breathed in deep and then shook his head.
"You’re the ex-Navy SEAL," he said." You figure it out."
With that he cut the connection, leaving Andy staring at the screen with impotent rage.
"Argh," he screamed and threw a bag of coffee through the Command Module, making it wetly impact into an equipment rack.
Slowly the pain subsided and Andy felt the more normal thought process return, even if there was something akin to migraine remaining. That last memory had been before Apollo had been captured for doing just that, sitting in deep space, pretending to be unimportant while the crew took terms at observing the asteroid with binocs.
Just their luck that the Boskones had noticed them after just a day and managed to capture them before they could turn off the lock that kept the main engine on Apollo specs for the most time.
Around Andy the liquid drained away, allowing him to take a deep breath, and for the first time he felt the changes that had been done by the machine.
For one there was a new appendage coming from his behind that snaked around a little and hurt from laying on top of it. He could also feel how his ears moved slightly to all but flatten to his skull. And then there was the unknown weight on his chest.
Looking down, he saw that, yes, they were a pair of sizable assets for a woman.
So it had happened...
Say good bye to Andy Cruger the very male 50 year old ex-Navy SEAL and say hello to Andy Cruger the very curvy young catgirl.
The he realized something else. Whatever had actually happened, his hands and feet were not bound anymore.
The next moment it was as if someone had turned a switch in Andy’s mind, while there was the rage of the gods burning in the back of his mind, the mindset of the highly trained Navy SEAL came to the surface.
Above Andy the tube was opened by the ‘used car salesman’, who loosely held a gun in his hand.
"Still conscious?" he asked and grinned down at Andy." That will make breaking so much easier."
Andy’s hand shot out, grabbing the Boskones wrist and turning it around with a snap of breaking bones, making the gun, a Walter PPK, Andy noted absentmindedly, drop into the tank.
Before the Boskone could react with more then a scream, Andy had grabbed the weapon and leveled it against the mans head. Without saying a word, the finger thightened around the trigger, sending a 9 mm bullet straight through the man’s head.
At the same time, Andy’s head turned around, looking for another target. Finding none, the Boskones apparently thinking that the new catgirl would be either unconscious or not able to defend herself, the new catgirl pushed up and hopped out of the tube.
Walking around and looking around in the mostly empty room, Andy soon found a mirror.
Sadistic bastards, was the next thought as Andy looked into the mirror.
What looked out of the mirror was a maybe 5 foot 6 tall woman with darker skin, long straight white hair, a pair of white furred cat ears and a while tail sticking out from the back, both with black tiger stripes. And one that was quite nude and would certainly have been very attractive to Andy, had he not have been the catgirl in question.
For a moment, Andy felt like collapsing into a crying heap on the floor, but right now that was not possible. Thomas and Michael where still around somewhere and the Boskones were fingering around with the Apollo. Not to mention the mission. They had to get back to Stellvia with the info they had managed to collect. And maybe a little more...
There was time later to have a nervous breakdown. Or just a plain breakdown.
Taking a deep breath the new catgirl closed her eyes for a moment, before walking up to the computer of the Catgirling Machine. Without actual care the case of the computer was ripped open, surprising Andy with the apparent upgrade in strength. Longer times in micro gravity were not that good on the muscles after all.
Now with the exposed computer sitting before her, she raised the gun, sending a 9 mm through the harddrive and making the computer come down to a sudden halt with the loss of its main memory, before a fist came down to the mainboard, destroying it beyond recovery.
That being done, the glance went towards the dead Boskone hanging over the side of the tank. Maybe he had a spare mag.
With some disgust at the man, Andy removed his jacket and threw it over her shoulders, before looking through his pockets, discovering a few keys, a smartphone and a spare mag for the Walter. Not bothering with the smartphone, she pocketed the keys and the mag, before turning around to face the door. Just in time to see it open.
"Will, is something..."
The Boskone walking in with a MP5 in hands did not have much more to say as Andy had already dropped to one knee, before sending a pair of 9mm bullets his way. One hit his chest, while the other ripped open his throat, making him stare and then collapse with a wheezing sound and his trigger finger tightening around the submachine guns trigger, making a three round burst fly over Andy’s head, one of the bullets nearly clipping on of her new ears.
Eyes still on the door, she jumped over to the downed Boskone, who tried to point the gun at her again before he died, but that was silenced with a bullet into his forehead.
The gun still pointed at the door, Andy grabbed the MP5 and a single spare magazine from the dead guard, before looking out of the door to the left and right to check if the corridor was empty.
Time to show these Boskones what a Navy SEAL could do. Even if she was missing a team to complement her.