Ady startled at the pinging HUD in her contact lens. Her whole body contracted, jerking like she had just been scared out of dream. Snorting a laugh, she shook her head, embarrassed that something so stupid had rattled her. She doesn’t rattle.
“Shit. Stupid boring mission. Letting my guard down like some rookie.” Her whisper echoed in the empty corridor.
The message pinged on her HUD again. Run!
She blinked, staring at the message her sister had sent her, waiting for more information. Nothing. She was the muscle, the killer, the brains really, don’t tell her sister that though. She just really hates running, something Jen reminds her of often.
“Thanks a lot, Jen. Leave me out here bored to death in this stupid hallway, and then play jokes on me.”
She looked up and down the dimly lit, cold, grey metallic corridor, of the Federated research facility they’d been hired to raid. Nothing. Just the distant echo of activity from a skeleton crew that was there on the holiday.
Run from what? The cold scary air? She snorted again as she finished the message to Jen’s HUD. Where are you?
The building rumbled with an explosive concussion. Ady flung herself away from the wall, and landed in the middle of the corridor, loose on the balls of her feet, legs crouched, arms out, eyes scanning the direction that Jen should be coming down. The scent of sulfur and burnt hair filling her nose. Adrenaline coarsing through her system, heightening her senses, and sending a shiver of excitement up her spine.
Run! Run! Run! Run! Came across her HUD again.
Damn it, not so fast! Ady sent back. Where are you? I hate running!
Another Rumble and more explosions. The dull roar of an emergency fire suppression system vibrated through out the building, as it systematically turned on, following the path of the destruction. Ady tilted her head and listened, a faint flurry of activity, boots, voices barking orders, and blasts of small arms fire. She took a breath and pulled her double barreled shooters out of the holsters on her hips.
She put them up under her nose and took a deep breath in and out, sighing just a little. She tilted towards the shooter in her left hadn’t “Dude.” Then towards the shooter in her right. “Nugget. Time to save Jen again.”
The barking voices and shooter fire were coming fast. Her sister, Jen, came running around the corner, her face a concentrated panic. “I said RUN!”
Ady’s eyes went wide as what she was seeing registered in her head. Her sister running full bore down the corridor, shooter in hand, racing footsteps and shouting coming from a security agent sprinting after her. The agent slowed, raised his shooter, and fired a shot that seared over Jen’s shoulder and past Ady, blistering the wall behind her.
Jen fired blind over her shoulder getting him to back off, and then waved her hands at Ady. “Run damn it!”
Ady grinned, braced her stance, and locked her arms. Her hands tightened around the grip of her shooter, as her index finger hugged the trigger back. The shot blasted past Jen and knocked the security agent flat on his back, burning a hole the size of a fist in his chest. Jen slowed enough to look over her shoulder, and then started running again, glaring at Ady. “I said run!”
Ady brought her shooter up to her lips, and blew over the barrel. “Since when do we run from a—
Jen tackled Ady to the ground at full speed. They hit the concrete floor hard enough to knock a grunt out of Ady, as a small missile rocketed over them, destroying the wall at the end of the corridor.
Jen hooked her hands around Ady’s coat, pulled her until they were nose to nose, as if that would make her listen better. “Since a whole damn army of security agents is chasing us,” she said.
“What the hell did you do?”
Jen rolled off her, and sat up just enough to fire a volley of shots down the corridor, making the squad chasing them fall back around the corner, and then looked back Ady.
“Now, we run.”
“Just a simple job,” Ady said. “Easy money, you said.”
“Just go, damn it.”
Ady jumped up, cursing, and started sprinting down the hall. She rounded the corner, and down the next corridor towards the hangar bay. Jen sprinted to catch up to her. She saw Ady make it inside, and turn, pulling her shooter back out so she could cover her as she made the last leg to the hangar.
“I take it our job fell through.” Ady said through panting breaths, as Jen ran up beside her.
“Something like that.” Jen blasted the controls to the heavy door leading into the hangar bay with her shooter; it hammered closed with a loud rumble, making cracks form in the composite wall and floor.
“Plans weren’t there, but sure as hell was a shit load of security Agents.” She turned and scanned the half dozen docking pads in the hangar for their getaway ship. “Which one?”
Ady gestured with her head. “Left. Did we get set up?”
“Don’t know, and won’t ever find out if we don’t make it out of here.”
Ady led them to a small transport ship that looked like a bus sized egg on skis, with rotary wings sticking out like fins on each side. The glass cockpit canopy was open, two side by side seats nestled in front of a haptic control panel, and a small passenger hold in the back.
Jen grabbed Ady’s arm, stopping her before she could take a step onto ladder. “You can do this right? We’re not gonna to end up like we did last time?”
Ady smiled and started her climb into the transport. “Wasn’t that bad.” She looked back down at Jen. “It’s not like we died.”
“I don’t necessarily like your interpretation of what’s good or bad.”
Ady buckled herself into the pilots seat, and took a gray box the size of a deck of cards out of her vest, slapping it onto the haptic panel.
“Ya there, Lady?”
Jen climbed up the other side and strapped in just as an explosion from the felled bay doors rocked the whole hangar. The hatched closed, behind her. She peaked out the bulbous canopy and saw two squads of security agents rushing in through the breached opening, and flood the room. They took cover behind cargo crates and shipping containers as they set their sites on the them, and then opened fire. Shots hammered the blast proofed shielding of the outer hull, as the security agents continued to surround them.
“Lady, we’re in a bit of rush. I need access now.”
The transport hummed to life, as Ady slipped on the haptic control goggles and gloves, and then let her fingers race across the holographic panels she now had access to. The cockpit shielding shuttered, and a small crack formed on the outside of the canopy.
Jen grabbed Ady’s arm and squeezed as she stared wide eyed at the crack. “Uh, Ady. Anytime ya wanna get the hell outta here would be really, really helpful!
We have a breach in the outer hull.
Ady huffed in frustration. “Not now, Lady.”
There is now a breach in the main conduit relay.
Ady pulled her hands back in the haptic controls, and the transport hovered in the air over the docking pad, turning slow towards the hangar door.
“Lady, we’ve got more problems than your breaches and relays.”
The hangar doors will be closing in twelve seconds.
“Damn, Lady. You’re just fulla good news, aren’t ya.” Ady’s jaw tightened as she clenched her teeth.
Jen squeezed the edge of her seat, and her body tensed. “ADY!”
“Both of ya, shut up and let me work,” Ady barked.
Ady jerked, and her hands flailed out of the the haptic controls for a second. The Transport jerked up and hard to the right, running into the bay wall with a crunch. Ady slammed her hands back into the haptic controls, pulling back, and to the left. She swung them around towards the attacking squad, hitting one of the large shipping containers, making it tumble to floor, and onto the agents behind it. The hangar rumbled, and what was left of the two squads fell back into the corridor. The girls looked out the cockpit and saw the large bay doors start to close.
“Damn it.” Jen punched Ady in the arm. “Let ya work? This is just like last time!”
“Fooling around? You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Ady’s lips parted into a toothy grin, and she launched her arms forward. The ship lurched its nose down and tore across the floor of the hangar, as it shot towards the closing bay doors. She rotated her hands up in the controls, and the small ship lifted into the air, and then turned sideways. The right wing slammed into the composite floor and tore a long ripple in it, chipping the tip of the wing off onto the the floor. Shots blasted into the hull as they whistled sideways through the hangar doors and into the purple horizon of Hedeth.
A trail of black smoke twisted in the freezing sky behind them as they rocketed into low orbit just below the atmosphere. The ship arched, and then dropped it’s nose down towards Hedeth, descending like a rock back towards the mountainous, forest planet. They spiraled out of control in the air while Ady fought with the haptic controls to right them.
Jen put her feet on the console and grabbed the roll bar above her head. “Ady—“
We have lost power in the right rotor wing.
“Don’t tell me shit that won’t help, Lady.”
Jen glared at her. “ADY.”
A crash landing is imminent, please prepare accordingly.
“Not helpful, Lady.”
“Crashing isn’t helpful either, Ady,” Jen spat.
“I know dammit! Just get ready for a soft landing.”
Jen let out a growl. “Soft landing? I knew it. I’m gonna kill ya!”
“Not if we die first, so prep the pod,” Ady spat back.
“I’m still gonna kill ya!”
“Well, ya’ll have to wait your turn.”
Jen unfastened, and pushed her seat back, bracing herself on the floor so she didn’t get thrown around in the cockpit as she searched. She found the emergency response panel and tore it off, speeding through the instructions as her fingers darted across the switches to release a safety pod that would shield them in a small cocoon of graphene balloons.
“Lady, how far out are we from the ship?” Jen asked.
One thousand two hundred kilometers.
Ady smiled again. “That’s not that bad. Bet we can make it pretty damn close.” Ady struggled with the convulsing ships controls. “Glass is still half full.”
Jen shot her a glare, and then got back up and fastened herself in her chair. She pulled her legs to her chest, wrapping her arms around them and curling herself into as tight of a ball as she could.
“Ships ready,”she said.
“Hang on tight.” Ady’s lips curled to one side in a cocky half grin under her goggles. “This is gonna get bumpy.”
The ship dove incredibly fast, the ground getting closer and closer. At the last minute, Ady put her feet on the console and pulled back with her haptic gloves as hard as she could. The transport leveled off, glided for a minute, and then hammered to the ground, tearing a swath across the forest floor as they bounced and ripped through the rocky terrain, until they came to a trembling stop.
Jen blinked her eyes open. She was hanging upside down. The outer shield was ruined, and inside the ship was in complete disarray, but they were safe for the time being. The cockpit was a mess of sparks and debris, the haptic panel was destroyed, it’s guts dangling down in front of her. She scanned the wreckage and saw Ady giggling, looking at her, her goggles pulled on top of her head, and haptic gloves still on.
“I totally nailed it,” Ady said.
Jen rolled her eyes and moaned. “I’m so gonna kill, ya.” She relaxed, letting her head dangle free. “Once I can finally move again.”
The tall, black robot, stalked up behind the scattered security agents. It’s frame, like a human skeleton, with graphene armor layered like dragon scales all over it. The head was smooth, and oval without any recognizable features except a purple line running down the side of it. Its face morphed, and a mesh mouth appeared, curling into a quirky smile, almost like a nervous twitch.
It’s spurs jingled with a slow gait as it made its way through them. Everyone parted as it passed, not even attempting to look up. It stood at the edge of the now reopened bay doors, and stared out to where the whispy trail of black smoke ran a streak through the sky, like a stain on a freshly painted purple canvas . It tipped the brim of it’s baller cap up, as if that would help it see, and looked down. The forest floor, ten stories below, and a thousand meters out, was white with snow, and had a swath of torn up earth where the ship had crashed.
A sergeant came up behind it. “Sir, do you want us to mount a recovery team?”
The robot stared at the sergeant, and followed the fog of breath that came of his mouth. It put it’s hand through the small cloud of vapor, as if it could catch it, and then repeated the same movement in front of it’s own mesh mouth, as if it could see it’s own breath.
“Excuse me, sir. Do you want us to send a team out?”
The black mesh that made up its mouth opened into a smile, breaking the purple line that ran down the entire of it’s body, leaving a dark empty void as it spoke. “No sergeant, they are doing exactly what The Weaver wants them to do.”
The robot turned to faced him, and then grabbed him by his throat and threw him out the open door and into the freezing cold far, far below. Before the rest of the agents could act, the robot had pulled it’s pitch back shooters out of their holsters, and started blasting them one by one. It’s aim perfect, it’s shots calculated so that not one round was wasted, and one by one the agents fell dead.
It’s spurs kept jingling as it waded through the carnage. It paused and stared at the agent closest to the hangar corridor. The black mesh parted again, this time in a grimace as it saw the agent, still alive, and crawling towards her blast rifle. It stalked over to her, spurs still jingling in an almost solemn death march. The agent clambered for her rifle, and the robot stepped on her leg, pinning her just inches from it.
The female agent rolled over and stared at it, eyes wide with horror, chin quivering. “What kind of monster are you?” The agent asked.
The robot raised it’s shooter and shot a hole in the middle of the woman’s face. “Call me Jesse.”