Universal Chaos

 

Tablo reader up chevron

Chapter 1 - Wrong Place

    Crowding around one spot on the street, a mob of humans yelled, their voices muddled together, though Wendy could make out one phrase shouted every so often.

"Go back to your world," hollered several in the crowd.

She joined in with the others holding up smartphones as they tried to film what happened. One newcomer ran up to the back of the crowd and released a palm-sized drone. Flying up above everyone's heads, the drone had a clear view of the drama unfolding.

A few people kicked someone with ram horns, large ears sticking straight out, and pure white skin with a brown mottled pattern. The short hair on their head also had the white and brown markings. Flat on the ground the alien tried in vain to protect himself.

The alien no longer responding, the attackers got bored and walked away; pushing their way out of the crowd as a few onlookers threw random junk on top of the unmoving alien.

While the crowd dispersed, a few took selfies with the body behind them. Oblivious to everyone's interest in getting out of there, Wendy stood still with her smartphone camera pointed at the motionless body.

"I think it’s dead," she said softly.

"Come on Wendy, let’s get out of here before the police show," said another young woman who had come back for her.

****

With his daughter, Gill Rune sat at the dining-room table across from her. He wore a suit appearing to made of a carbon fiber mesh. Small metal computer interfaces were implanted into his temples, and his eyes had a slight blue tint of light coming from the pupils.

Poking his finger at a hologram of a cartoonish woman, he pulled his hand back as its dress changed to a different style.

"No, no," said four-year-old Sydnie as she poked at the hologram, turning the dress back. "It's supposed to be this one," she said, accentuating some of the syllables oddly.

"Oh, I see," said Gill, leaning back in his chair.

A call came in, a notification only Gill could see displayed before his eyes and an alarm sound he alone could hear. Using his thoughts, he opened the message with the Aivot computer system in his head, then got up. "I’m sorry sweetie, but I have to go."

"No, Daddy... sit," said Sydnie, pointing at the chair.

"I’m sorry, go tell your mother I’m going."

"Mommy won’t play with me."

Walking in, Maylis picked up the little girl. "I’ll play with you for a bit."

"There’s an emergency I have to check out."

"Ok, Gill. We’ll see you next week. Say bye," said Maylis, nudging their daughter"s wrist.

Burying her face into her mom, Sydnie didn't say anything.

Stepping forward, Gill put his hand on his daughter’s head and kissed the side of her face; she turned away, hiding that cheek.

Turning, Gill quickly walked out of the apartment into a hallway lined with many other identical doors. He hastened to an elevator which opened upon his arrival. Once Gill got on, the doors closed and the elevator started to descend. Tapping his right hand's fingers against his leg, he waited. The doors opened into an indoor garage filled with cars; not a single space was vacant. Maintaining his fast pace, he got to his car, and its driver side door automatically opened for him. Sitting behind the wheel, he relaxed into the seat, and the door shut itself. 

"66th Ave and North Broad," said Gill.

"66th Avenue and North Broad Street," said the car's computer.

"Yes."

Pulling out of the parking spot the car drove through the garage without Gill touching the driving wheel.

A non-stop ride later, Gill's car pulled up to where the crime occurred. Tall apartment buildings were all around the area, a few dusty skyscrapers, and a quaint old monastery stood across the street from the incident.

Getting out and cautiously walking past a few people hanging around, Gill looked at the faces of each one. The Aivot system checked each face and displayed known information about the individuals. He strolled over to the exact spot where the ram-horned alien had died. The ground sprayed clean by firefighters; the area still smelled of urine. Accessing his Aivot, Gill gave it a list of certain people to scan for and identify.

Then he set an AI program to search for possible clues. It immediately categorized some sharp objects. "No sharp objects," thought Gill, and the Aivot removed those.

After a minute Gill walked off, his Aivot mapping out a path directing him to the person he figured to be the most instrumental in solving this case. Entering a particularly run-down apartment complex, Gill walked to an elevator, got on, and pushed an icon on its touchpad. The elevator descended one floor, and the doors opened. Getting off, he walked down a maze of corridors past many identical doors, except for the letters and numbers displayed on them. Stopping in front of apartment AU79, he touched the doorbell icon on a touchpad next to the door.

"Yes, what do you want?" Came Keren Arwa's oddly accented voice through the door's speaker.

"Hello, I'm Gill Rune. I'm here to investigate the murder," he said, holding up his smartphone screen to the door's camera.

"Um, um... Give me a minute to check if your ID checks out."

"Sure, I understand, I'll wait."

A minute later the door opened. Keren had ram horns and white skin which had a different brown mottled pattern on it than the other alien did. She looked Gill up and down. "Please come in."

"Thank you," said Gill as he entered the apartment and looked about the room, his Aivot system identifying all potential threats; locations where someone might hide, where weapons could be hidden, sharp and blunt objects hard enough to do damage, heat sources, sources of metal. It searched to ID known weapon shapes, including attempting to identify bulges the pockets of clothes, but did not find any.

"Have a seat," said Keren, motioning to the most comfortable chair in the room.

Sitting down, Gill looked up at her. "I would appreciate any information you have."

"What can you do, it was locals?"

"And do you believe Anlon would have sent me to investigate if that was all there was to it?"

"...No, I suppose not. What are you saying?"

"It appears as if some locals have joined up with the G.E... Anlon wants them eliminated."

"Eliminated? And you mean what I think you mean?"

"I'm sure some will end up in prison. However, groups this hardcore tend to end up dead when attempting to apprehend them."

"I see. So, you will avenge my son."

"I will."

Keren sat down, sadness enshrouding her face. "You know we would have left Earth if we could have... You know right?"

"Yes, I know how it works."

"I know I'm too old with no skills Anlon wants... But could you help me get off this hell of a world."

"You help me and by extension, him. I'll see what I can arrange."

"Those people on the corner," she said, looking down at the ground. "They're waiting for me to come out."

"They are to make a call when you do, I take it?"

"Yes, then the ones you are looking for will probably come out."

"And you're willing to risk your life."

"Yes, I'm willing to die to get them for what they have done," she said, looking into Gill’s eyes, fiercely.

"Then, I believe that's worth the money for a ride off-world," said Gill, getting up.

Keren walked to the door, and Gill put his hand on her shoulder. "Pack a suitcase. You won’t be coming back here even if you live."

"I see," she said sadly, despite wanting to leave.

Accessing his Aivot, Gill searched for ships owned by Jovan Anlon and cross-referenced with Chrysomallus controlled worlds. One particular ship showing got Gill's attention; it showed a course set to go to multiple Chrysomallus worlds, concluding the trip on the planet Colchis.

Not long after, Keren came out of her small bedroom with a large bag full of items.

"You do not have anything better to carry your stuff," said Gill; then thinking, "What the hell did I say that for." Keren did not reply, and Gill did not blame her.

As they made their way out, Gill worried for Keren. Used to being in dangerous situations, he figured Keren was much more on edge. He hoped she would be able to go through with their plan.

"Texted your phone. Accept it, and I'll be able to track you... Just in case I lose sight of you," said Gill.

"Ok," said Keren, taking out her small smartphone and tapping on the message.

"Once out, turn right and head North. If I need you to do something else, I’ll text you," said Gill, thinking up multiple predefined messages he could send at a moments notice.

A few minutes later, exiting the building alone, Keren departed in the direction Gill told her to go.

A minute after, Gill came out of the building following her, his system scanning people, windows, doorways, vehicles, rooftops, and anywhere someone might be watching from. Releasing four palm-sized drones, he directed them to fly up high above him and spread out.

A block ahead of Gill, Keren lugged her big bag of personal items along. By three blocks away from the apartment building, Gill's Aivot system picked out two men walking across an intersection, and it analyzed the gaits of their walks. Their gaits matched what cameras had picked up the night before, leaving after the attack. Gill began running, pulling out a Falchion gun in the midst of its transformation.

Noticing the body language of how the two men came at her, Keren knew something wasn't right, bracing herself for the first hit.

Close enough for his system to ID the men, it listed their personal information before Gill's eyes. Seeing both had lengthy criminal histories, Gill aimed his gun. His Aivot calculated where it pointed, showing him a circle and cross-hairs on his display. He fired, and a red bolt of energy burned right through one man's head at the ear. The man fell face first with a thump. 

Startled, not believing what had just happened, the other man froze.

Running at him, Keren rammed him hard in the shoulder with her horns, and he fell.

Yelling once from the sudden pain, then sprawling about on the ground, the guy tried to get up, desperate to get out of there. However, Gill was right next to him in a second aiming the gun in his face. "Don't move, and talk fast. Who recruited you?"

"Fuck you man, we’ll kill you," said the guy, sitting up; fear and anger vying for dominance inside him.

"I work for Anlon. You or your friends hurt me and the whole galaxy comes down on your heads."

"Shit! Man, you're bluffing."

Gill turned to Keren. "Go to the location I texted you and follow the instructions." Using his Aivot, Gill sent her a text message he had previously thought out and saved.

"Ok, thank you." Proud for getting a hit in, yet shaking like a leaf, she hurried off as best she could with her bag.

Turning his attention back onto the guy, Gill stepped closer to him. "Now, the more we wait here, the more likely your friends will show up, but that won’t end well for you. As soon as they show up, you'll be the first to die. I only need one informant alive."

"Ok," said the main, sure Gill meant the threat. Taking a deep breath, he looked up at Gill pleadingly. "Look, there's a place in New York." 

An alarm blared in Gill's head, the drones he had released earlier spotted many known registered violent criminals converging on his location. Not waiting for a reply, Gill decided plan B would be less dangerous, and he ran for his car.

The man got up off the ground cursing, frustrated and feeling emasculated. He stomped over to one of the men who showed up. Seconds later police sirens could be heard and the streets cleared.

Sitting in his car, Gill watched his display as it showed the movement of the man he left. His AI system had hacked the man's phone automatically; now Gill had location, sound, and potentially video to use to his advantage.

Soon locating Keren, Gill offered her a ride to the ship off world.

She wanted to know what happened but didn't want to talk about it. Keren assumed Gill had killed the man, and Gill was not going to tell her he was using the man to collect more information. So, they rode on in silence.

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...

Chapter 2 - Wrong Place too

    Before the sun rose, Gill got out of his bed in a small apartment much like a cheap hotel room. The bed and a small table with a single chair decorated the home. A small bathroom jutted out from one corner, and a closet took up another. Between them stood the front door. At the back, a small window looked out over the gray world; rain pouring down on tall buildings as far a the eye could see.

In his white boxer shorts, Gill ambled to the shower. Setting his Aivot to play a Malvina Reynolds song "What Have They Done To The Rain," covered by Marianne Faithfull. His head filled with music, an eerie sensation of coming from his ears but also some indiscernible location. His brain's way of attempting to figure out how to interpret new sensory input it did not evolve for.

An ancient song of course, but Gill did not care much for most modern music; especially not any groups which formed after the year 2223. He figured the new state of the world caused the quality of music to drop.

Not closing the door to the bathroom, Gill took off his boxers, stepping into the shower, it turned on. The water flowing out at the preset temperature instantly. After five minutes the water turned off, bright pinpoint white lights came on, and fans blew warm air. Dried in seconds, Gill stepped out. He thought of shaving but did not bother to.

Opening the closet, Gills grabbed a pair of boxers, the hanger released them from its clasps. All the boxers, socks, and t-shirts hanging there were white; all of the suits the same as each other.

After dressing, Gill held his dark-blue tie close to his neck, and it automatically attached itself. 

Gill's display alerted him to a call. "Answer," he thought, and the Aivot system connected to the smartphone. "Hello, sweetie." 

The animated face of his daughter Sydnie beamed with happiness from his display. "Hi, daddy. Look," said Sydnie, loudly, holding up a tablet with a drawing of a unicorn riding on top of a spaceship.

"Wow, that's pretty imaginative," said Gill, instinctively having his Aivot download the image file from the tablet.

Sydnie looked at the tablet, then back at her Dad, and back at her drawing again. "Mommy helped."

"Oh."

"She said to draw a spaceship... So, I drew a spaceship. Then I wanted to draw a unicorn... So, I drew a unicorn," said Sydnie, pronouncing drew and draw incorrectly. Looking back at her drawing, she stared at it for a second. "Do you like it?" 

"I love it," said Gill, smiling.

Multitasking, Gill viewed the information gathered from the smartphone hack of the G.E recruit.

Opening her eyes wide, his daughter moved her face close to the smartphone camera. "Come over."

"I can't right now."

"Oh," she said, frowning, her eyelids drooping.

"We can play a game," said Gill, connecting to her tablet with his Aivot and opening a game.

"No, no. Picture," said Sydnie, tapping the tablet, getting her drawing to come back on the screen. 

"Ok, we can play on the phone," said Gill, accessing her smartphone. A half-eaten dried out biscuit sat atop a paper wrapper on the table. Gill picked it up and took a bite, heading out to his car.

After moving her character on the game, Sydnie looked at her Dad's face in the top right corner; not aware it was a representation of his current face and expression created by AI. 

"Daddy," she said, cheesed off.

"Sorry sweetie," said Gill, moving his character.

****

In a small industrial zone nestled in between high hills, a run-down old factory building clanged with noise. Inside people worked on an enormous humanoid mechanized machine laid on its back. Supported by scaffolding, the arkvee had workers climbing around. Large red crystals in a concave equilateral decagon star shape protruded out of the machine and ended in a point.

In one corner of the factory, Diesel yelled over the noise to Joe a foot away. "We're all set up to attack the Chrysomallus. Just need to get in position." 

"Too bad the arkvee ain't ready... Would have been a breeze. Level the whole area. Bunch of demon horn loving freaks living there with them," said Joe.

"We got bigger plans for that Onslaught. Don’t need it for some Chrysomalluses. And put that drone and exo-armor in the truck. They work. We’re moving them out of here."

"Those idiot pirates. What're we going to do with a Rephaim exo-armor?"

"I’m sure we’ll figure something out."

Outside Joe covered the drone in the back of his pickup truck with a tarp. He and Diesel loaded the large Rephaim exo-armor in next. Way too big for a human to wear, Joe chucked it in the back feeling it had no value. It clanked off the pickup truck's cargo bed. Joe couldn't hurt it treating it in such a way, not even if he took a sledgehammer to it. 

"Hey. I found out what your name means," said Joe, bending over to pick up another part.

"You really enjoy learning useless information, don't you?"

"You're named after a fuel," said Joe snickering. "Yeah. One used in pickup trucks even. Long time ago." 

"Like a type of battery chemical?"

"No, a liquid fuel for engines."

"Whatever. Just deliver this stuff," said Diesel, throwing the last piece in.

"Ok." Joe climbed into the driver's seat. "You know they used to think everyone would have flying cars by now, not just the government and the rich." 

"Just go." Shaking his head, Diesel walked back into the factory.

****

As the sun set, Snorri plodded along down the sidewalk. A tall, broad alien man with a long neck, Snorri made sure not to make eye contact with anyone. I might have helped a little, but it did not stop people from throwing trash at him; though they gave the big man lots of space. A few walked into the street around parked cars to be extra safe. Not built for an alien species as broad as him, the sidewalk was too narrow for anyone to easily pass him while on it anyway. 

"Go back to where you came from you stupid Rephaim," said someone not pronouncing all the words right, and throwing an empty plastic juice pouch at him.

Snorri did not look up and walked on.

Coming down the block, Wendy looked at her smartphone the whole time, oblivious of Snorri right in front of her. A gust of wind blew, and her dark blue, oversized T-shirt flapped in the wind. 

Almost bumping into Snorri, Wendy startled, pulling the phone away from her face. "Ew!"

Snorri jerked to a stop for a second, then turned sideways and squeezed past while careful not to touch her.

"What's wrong with me. Why'd I say that?" Thought Wendy, feeling bad. Embarrassed, Wendy hurried on her way, a wave of heat flushing through her.

Not much later, a group of teenagers came up to Wendy.

"Hey, Wendy. Can you fix my phone?" One young woman held out her smartphone.

"What's wrong with it?" Said Wendy in her soft voice, taking the smartphone.

"It won't unfold."

Wendy poked at the screen and handed it back to the young woman. "Unlock it."

Taking out her own phone, Wendy sent a request to the young woman's smartphone. "Accept to authorize me access to your phone."

"Ok," said the young woman tapping on the request's accept icon.

Wendy took the smartphone back. With one in each hand, she used her thumbs to navigate through both smartphones. "It's a physical problem. I'll have to take it home to fix."

"Ugg," said the young woman, slouching her shoulders and leaning her head back. "When will I get it back." 

"If you're out front of my place at 6:00am, I'll give it to you then, fixed or not."

"Aw come on. All night. What am I going to do?"

"Well, you can keep it for now. A company's going to charge you a spine and a brain to fix it." 

"No. I'll be there in the morning."

"six o'clock."

"Common Wendy. Six. Really."

"It has to be six or earlier."

"Ok. Six. You're crazy... But smart... Thank you."

Wendy put each phone away in different pockets and continued home.

****

While casually listening in on the G.E recruit's smartphone he hacked, Gill logged the faces that had come within the camera's sight. None of the photos or videos on the smartphone were of much help concerning the G.E, though Gill kept them in his database. 

Not getting any visual from the phone anymore and done with his other work, Gill headed to his apartment. He would wait for his AI programs to report more information before deciding what to do next.

Listening in Gill heard a door open and close. Silent for a while, then a lot of scuffling sounds and grunting, the hacked smartphone disconnected from Gill's system.

Deciding to begin the main phase of his operation, Gill contacted the local authorities to do the grunt work.

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...

Chapter 3 - Top Off

    The next morning. Inside an old closed-down store, two young men, Lel and Erwin sat around poking at their smartphones. Lel's smartphone unfolded a few times to have a seventeen-inch screen as he used the base for game controls.

A knock sounded from the back door. "He's here." Erwin got up, dumping a small bag of chips on the ground, then putting his smartphone away.

Lel had his smartphone fold back up and put it in his pocket as they hurried to the door.

Opening the door, Erwin saw Joe carried a large helmet.

"Here." Joe shoved the helmet into Erwin's stomach.

"Umph... What's this? Sir."

"It's Rephaim exo-armor. We're unloading it. You and the new recruit can keep an eye on it." 

Lel didn't say anything. He carried some of the exo-armor and hid it behind a dusty pile of vintage clothes.

After all three men put the pieces in the building, they buried it with some more clothes.

"You'll stay here and guard this place newbie," said Erwin, punching Lel in the shoulder playfully.

"Come on." Lel tilted his head back and bit his lower lip.

"Only following orders. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure ya get into action real soon."

Joe and Erwin got in the pickup truck and drove off.

Once they had left, Lel wandered over to the Rephaim exo-armor, took the helmet, and strolled back to the front room. He put it down on a table and sat down, studying it. After a minute he got out his phone, unfolded it, and played a game.

****

With the local authorities not being the fastest to get an operation going, Gill sat waiting in his car. Having his car pull over to the curb, he opened a window. A small drone flew out and up into the sky. On his display, he observed a twenty story building two blocks away from him; between larger apartment buildings and towering skyscrapers, it only had an entrance on the front. 

A black truck, hovering twenty feet above Gill, flew past at high speed. Video Gill received from his drones showed three more trucks flying in from different directions. One landed on the roof of the twenty story building; the other three were in front of the building at different levels. 

Piling out of the truck on the roof, a SWAT team formed a semicircle. Then a silver squid-like drone about six feet long came out of it. It stood on its tentacles, and a glowing yellow Dunamis crystal came out from the center where the legs met. The drone lowered its main body section closer to the roof, and the crystal easily cut a circle through it. The circular slice fell into the building, and the drone put its legs together, climbing down into the hole; the SWAT team jumped in one by one after. 

The other trucks hovered out front, opened their rear doors, and backed up to windows. The SWAT teams blasted the window frames, kicked them in, then leaped. 

Gill accessed the squid drone's system and could see what it saw. The SWAT team unaware of the level of access he had in their government systems.

Inside, the drone floated down the hallway. If any residents of the building used to be out in the open, they were sure to be hiding after all the noise.

Following close behind the drone the SWAT team had one member covering their backs.

The drone scanned right through the walls, locating people. Using its metal appendages, it pushed and cracked a heavily locked door into pieces. Wrapping its tentacles around inside the door frame, it pulled and floated into the room.

The SWAT team poured into the room. Cowering in fear in a corner, a family of a mother and three children screamed, tears running down their faces.

The mother stretched out her arm. She held a smartphone out for the SWAT team to see.

****

That evening, humans and Chrysomallus played a ball game in the street. The area was far from skyscrapers but covered with identical apartment buildings for miles. Rickety foldable old tables with some food and drinks stood on the sidewalk.

Speeding down each direction of the street, pickup trucks carried people with guns. They opened fire on the small crowd of partygoers.

Screaming the partiers ran for their lives. Some got hit and fell; others got shot, but still ran. Confused from the sudden chaos, many ran about, not trying to get inside a building.

Carrying a crying baby, one Chrysomallus got shot in the back and fell, knocking a woman in a wheelchair over and dropping the baby. Rolling across the hard cement, the baby screamed louder. Seeing the Chrysomallus unmoving and the baby crying, the woman from the wheelchair crawled over to the baby. Grabbing onto it with one hand, she dragged the baby and herself down some stairs to a cellar entrance. Out of sight, she held up her smartphone as close as she could to the touchpad, it verified her ID and opened the door.

Screeching to a stop, the G.E members got out of the trucks. Some scrambled after the easy targets still out in the open; others booked it to the apartment buildings. Putting bombs in front of the entrances, the G.E blew the secure apartment buildings' doors right off within seconds of getting out of their trucks.

All the people outside slaughtered, the G.E rushed into the buildings. One G.E member tried to kick a door in, but that didn't work. Blasting the locks the next kick got the door open. There were no Chrysomallus inside, but the G.E opened fire on the family anyway.

For a few minutes, door after door, person after person, the G.E exterminated anyone they came across. Alarms sounded from devices on their wrists, and they all ran back to the trucks, piling in and speeding off into the days growing darkness.

A minute later, the living heard sirens; red and blue flashing lights descended from the sky as police cars flew toward the massacre.

****

Gill went over the intel he had gathered from CCTC databases. Then, a news alert showed up on Gill's display. Watching what the news-drones filmed, Gill saw the police carefully blocking off the area and a bunch of bodies in the distance.

Now he had a new location to search and accessed the CCTV camera databases covering the area. He scanned through for vehicles coming and going from the site of the attack. Telling his car to head there, Gill sat back and continued his search as it drove. 

A call came in, and Gill answered.

"Hello Gill," said Maylis.

"Hello Maylis," said Gill.

"Saw the news. You’re not going to get yourself killed are you?"

"I'll be careful. This tech in my head gives me a significant advantage."

"Until you run into someone else with it. Or someone wearing exo-armor."

"Yes. We need to stop the G.E before they get their hands on something like that," said Gill, knowing full well there was an arkvee, somewhere, in the hands of the G.E.

"It's... just that Sydnie needs you. Anlon has an army. He doesn't need you."

"Earth needs this to be taken care of. We don’t want Sydnie growing up on a violent, dangerous world. Sooner or later, we're all caught in the crossfire. You know that."

"Yes."

"I'll be careful. There are plans in place."

"Ok."

"Bye. I’ll call in the morning to talk to Sydnie."

"Bye," said Maylis, ending the call.

Later, Gill made it to the scene of the massacre and showed his smartphone screen to the first police officer who stopped him. The officer let Gill past, pointing him to the one in charge. Walking over to the other officer, Gill showed his ID again.

The officer looked at the screen, looked left and right, then back at Gill. "Look, Agent Gill... Word has gotten around that an Agent of Jovan Anlon has been showing interest in these G.E punks, but come on. That last call, I'm guessing you made, and no G.E."

"Yes, that was me. I apologize. They must have found out just before the raid. However... After this, we should have enough to go on to find a major base of operations."

"Why is Anlon involved in this? This is our jurisdiction. We don't like being bossed around out of the blue for unknown reasons."

"How many humans were killed?"

"About forty-eight."

"Then it looks as if you'll be a hero if we take down these G.E around here. Anything you can give me?"

"Yeah, some video from the upper floor windows. They were wearing masks as usual. I'm sure they burned their clothes after, as well."

"They always make a mistake eventually. Especially with new recruits. And I want the information on the vehicles anyway."

****

Alone in a small dark room, the tall and broad Snorri rubbed the back of his long neck with one hand.

"Snorri is the best there is. Snorri is professional. Will stay out of trouble. Humans will not know... And Snorri will bide his time... Snorri will wait... Snorri's Selrahc family will be pleased with Snorri..."

****

On her way home Wendy saw some young men harassing a boy. Not thinking much of it she kept walking. One of the young men hit the boy, and she stopped, then nervously ventured toward them. "Hey, leave him alone."

Stopping, the young men looked at her. Smirking, one of the young men got in Wendy's face. "What's that? I couldn’t hear you."

"Leave him alone."

"What? Didn't your momma teach you how to speak up?"

Placing herself in front of the boy, Wendy glared at the young men and had no idea of how to respond verbally.

"Well, speak up. It's hard to hear you," said the young man.

"I'm speaking as loud as I can," said Wendy in her soft voice.

"Well, it's not good enough."

"I'm not going to let you attack the kid. You'll get hurt one way or the other if you don't leave us alone."

"Ok, tough bitch. You think you're the cops."

Stepping forward, the young man lifted his chin, frowning, and glaring to intimidate Wendy. A mistake on his part as she did not hesitate in upper cutting his angry face. With a crack, she felt the pain shutter through the thin bones in her hand. The young man fell over, dazed.

The boy took the opportunity to run away from the bullies.

Fighting back her tears, Wendy walked off, and the other young men did not stop her. While walking away, she tried to open her fist, but the attempt hurt too much; so she left her hand curled up. 

****

In the old closed-down store, Lel folded his phone's screen back down and put it in his pocket. Getting up, he grabbed the Rephaim exo-armor's helmet and exited out the back door. Looking around, especially sure to look behind himself, he opened the trunk, throwing the helmet in.

Late that night, Erwin came back. "Awe, ya missed it! All over the news, shit. Sheep died like sheep, baa."

"Yeah, I know," said Lel.

"Come on. The armors still here right?"

Lel approached the hidden pile and removed some clothes, showing a leg and torso of the exo-armor.

"Cool. I'll take my new buddy out for a drink to celebrate our victory over the sheep. Baa baa," said Erwin, laughing.

****

Tracking the G.E who fled the massacre, Gill's AI programs found useful information from CCTV databases east of the attack. Earlier, the G.E members who left before the SWAT raid, traveled north. Now, those two lines converged on a spot, narrowing down Gill's search area.

Searching the local CCTV databases for the area, Gill used AI to calculate the most likely places capable of hiding an arkvee. Then he sent drones over to ID anyone in the area.

After a good long wait, he got a hit. In front of a decrepit house, one of the vehicles he tracked had been spotted earlier in the day. It was in one of the few areas in the Northeast United States that still had trees. He had gotten the hit from a citizen's car camera. They must have signed up to share their data with the county. Gill hoped it wasn't a trap as he set a program to find the identity of the car's owner.

Redirecting his drones to the house, Gill sat back and loaded his gun with a small red Dunamis crystal as his car made its way there. Soon, the car pulled up to the house. Gill had not seen anything on the drone's cameras the whole way. No visual signs, no heat signatures, no movement, no communications, encrypted or otherwise, nothing on scans, not even any cars driving by.

Getting out, Gill crept up to the front door as some of his drones circled the house. Pulling out his Gun, Gill scanned through the door for any metal, explosives, or energy signatures which might have been on the other side. Quickly opening the door, Gill held his weapon out in front of himself and barged in.

In the center of the room laid the G.E man Gill spied on using the man's smartphone; his head chopped off.

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...

Chapter 4 - Half Gone

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...

Chapter 5 - All Gone

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...

Chapter 6 - Wrong Time

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...

Chapter 7 - The Time Will Come

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...

Chapter 8 - Now

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...

Chapter 9 - Action

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...

Chapter 10 - Turning Around

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...

Chapter 11 - Struggle

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...

Chapter 12 - Visit

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...

Chapter 13 - Arriving

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...

Chapter 14 - Should Have Been There

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...

Chapter 15 - Bad Guys

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...
~

You might like Conrad Brubaker's other books...