Web of Chaos
In the ruined food market, Diesel yelled at Joe. “You’re the one with the Arkvee experience, and now you won’t do it?”
“I’m done. I have nothing left inside me to give to this.”
“All the time we put into this… And now, just quitting.”
Joe sighed and sat down. “Call it what you want. The drives gone. I’m empty inside.”
Diesel looked down at him. Shaking his head, Diesel walked away.
Someone ran up to Diesel and showed him his PAD’s screen. “Reports coming in all over the net like Malphas said in the center of Philly.”
Running to the Onslaught, Diesel climbed into it. “Ok, move everything to the next site now. I’ll probably be there waiting. Probably be one shot to take that exo out.”
The Onslaught closed around Diesel, the letters G.E crudely spray painted on it. With a jump, he burst through the ceiling and flew off. Parts of the roof fell down in a cloud of dust.
Soaring to Center City Philadelphia, the Onslaught zipped between buildings. The police blocked off the area. People drove and ran past the police vehicles escaping down the elevated streets. With the lack of sidewalks, some pedestrians almost got hit by the cars speeding away.
SWAT vehicles surrounded the massive skyscraper which had blast holes burned through the first couple floors. People lay dead in the street, though some writhed in pain or crawled along in a struggle to live.
The skyscraper’s fire extinguisher system sprayed foam. The SWAT teams laid dead and their drones destroyed; robotic-squid tentacles scattered about, twitching.
Using his Onslaught’s scanners, Diesel found the Rephaim exo-armor on the third floor deep near the middle of the building but a clear shot down the wide hallway through its glass sides. Opening a barrage of blasts the Onslaught took out the walls. The Rephaim’s exo-armor glowed yellow. The damaged walls gave way, and the floor above crashed down into the hallway. A few people tumbled down shrieking with it.
The glowing exo-armor burst out of the rubble charging at Diesel. The energy blasts scorched the exo-armor, but it still advanced. Vaulting out of the building the exo-armor slammed into the Onslaught with a loud clang denting it.
As the Onslaught tilted back, Diesel flew away to get a bead on the falling Rephaim. The exo-armor hit the asphalt and cracked it. Standing up the Rephaim ran to one of the SWAT trucks. Diesel released a hail of blasts. The Rephaim grabbed the truck, lifted it up, and tossed it. Evading, Diesel flew down at the Rephaim, firing as the truck smashed into another skyscraper.
The Rephaim ran at Diesel shrugging off the blasts. Realizing too late he had meant to keep his distance Diesel got hit by the Rephaim. With a clang, the Onslaught stopped dead on impact with the much smaller exo-armor.
Standing up, Diesel grabbed the Rephaim and pulled him off. The Arkvee’s metal screeched as the glowing yellow exo-armor held on. Diesel threw the Rephaim and opened fire. The exo-armor and building behind it got hit by the bombardment of energy. The exo-armor’s yellow glow faded. Blasted to pieces, it and charred remains of the Rephaim fell, bouncing across the ground.
Diesel made sure witnesses recorded the Arkvee then launched up and away.
News drones followed the Onslaught zigzagging around the cities building but could not keep up with it.
Seeing his plan unfold Malphas smiled. “Get us out of here.” He pushed an icon on his PAD and the truck with the other aliens in it exploded. Hurling pieces of metal through the air the blast took a chunk out of the nearest building and flung away some cars zooming past.
The traffic built up, and Malphas’s driver had to slow down. It wasn’t too bad with the self-driving cars assisting the humans mass exodus. Not concerned, Malphas relaxed and poured himself a drink in the back seat.
The America hurtled down out of the sky at the Onslaught and a black haze formed around the Arkvee’s surface.
Alexander stood up from his command chair. “Melissa and Cathan go down and get under the Onslaught. Force it up.” Alexander sat in the pilot seat Cathan had left.
Alexander flew behind the Onslaught, following it as best he could in the less maneuverable ship. Melissa and Cathan flew out of the America. Melissa caught up with the Onslaught, but Cathan lagged behind. She flew under the Arkvee and fired; the Dunamis crystal’s black haze absorbed the blasts. The Onslaught returned fire and Melissa zipped out of the way ahead of it. The blasts tore fiery holes into the asphalt streets below.
Cathan opened fire at the Onslaught’s back. His blasts got absorbed. Turning around, the Arkvee aimed at Cathan as he flew up behind the America. A blue energy shield came up around the ship as the Onslaught fired a rapid hail of blasts. The blasts fizzled against the shield.
Below the Onslaught, Melissa flew up close to it and fired. The blasts did no physical harm, but Diesel did react and flew up trying to orient on her. She sped all around him too fast for him to lock onto at such a close range.
“Fire on his eyes and move away, I don’t think whoever’s in there will know how to fly it from instruments alone,” said Alexander over the com channel.
Melissa shot at the Onslaught’s visual sensors, and Diesel shut his eyes. The America dropped its shield and fired as Melissa darted off. The Dunamis absorbed most of the energy even though the blast did scorch the Onslaught.
With the Onslaught flying back down below the height of the buildings, Melissa kept firing at its eyes. Diesel let loose a barrage of fire blanketing the area tearing apart the buildings, vehicles, and everything else; incinerating people.
Managing to dodge, Melissa sought cover.
“Pull back,” said Alexander loud and fast.
Cathan and Melissa flew to the America. Though closer to the ship at first, Cathan made it inside after she did.
“What are we going to do?” Melissa sat down hard catching her breath.
“We found a weak signal coming from the Onslaught. We’ll follow it. We need to stay close. Cathan remain ready. Melissa return to the bridge.”
“Ok,” said Melissa taking her helmet off and taking a deep breath.
The America dropped back, and the Onslaught sped off.
Melissa came onto the bridge. “So… We can’t see it on sensors because of the black Dunamis, and it’s absorbing all the energy coming at it, but it’s sending out a signal?”
Alexander looked at her. “An old military backup most people would not know about is transmitting. We can see the Onslaught visually, so it’s not absorbing all visible light. It’s also not absorbing all the ultraviolet light which is what is being sent out. We can follow it without a direct line of sight if we remain close enough.”
“So is it something they accidentally did? Set off an old SOS or never turned it off?”
“No. It’s no SOS. It says hello world.”
The Onslaught stayed below the height of the buildings and soon came to a destroyed city area with numerous craters; the roads and all the structures in the area damaged beyond repair. Many large machines around the edges of the area had knocked down buildings and leveled off the ground. Some Arlvees lumbered about. Versions of Arkvees built for working.
Alexander shifted in his chair. “I think enough time has passed that he thinks he lost us… Cathan go down low and keep track of him in case we lose him from up here.”
“Acknowledged,” said Cathan getting up and flying out of the America.
About ten minutes more of travel and the Onslaught landed inside the shell of a building. Hidden from view by its tall, thick concrete walls.
In the Onslaught, Diesel checked the scanners. He saw the ship about two miles away and figured they would never find him with the Dunamis cloaking his position. “I’ll stay put until the others make it here,” he thought.
Biding his time he noticed the movement of a much smaller energy source register on the scanners. With it so close to his position, Diesel worried he had been spotted. “But, no. I couldn’t have been. Not with the Dunamis. Either way, they will have to search the area to spot me. I’ll know they are too close long ahead of time.“
Seeing the America had come within range, he sweated. It came straight for him, fast! He contemplated making a run for it or to wait until they spotted him. A salvo came from the America. He attempted to react fast enough, but missiles detonated first and annihilated the building. His black Dunamis crystal shattered and the black haze around the Onslaught faded away. Red energy blasts from the America lit up the cloud of dust around him, shredding him to pieces.
Malphas and his driver made it to a large airport. In the center a colossal space elevator stretched up into the sky; lifts going up and down on a corkscrew path. Bright lights lit up the clouds around it.
The driver parked the car, and a machine lifted it up taking it to storage. They climbed into a small self-driving car with logos and the name Lehigh on it.
The Chrysomallus holding Sydnie stepped in front of the car aiming a gun at Malphas. It stopped and made no attempt to go around. “Get out!”
Malphas and his driver both got out of the car. Sydnie’s head drooped as her eyelids half closed.
“I see you survived,” said Malphas.
“Damn right. And found you. I don’t like being treated like an idiot.”
“Well let’s get this moving forward. What can I do for you?”
“You’re getting me off this planet. You ruined my life. Anlon’s men will be after me for the rest of my life.”
“I see. We are not going up the space elevator like this.”
“No. But I know you. That’s how I knew to stake out here. This is plan A. Call in plan B. And do it fast. As soon as cops or anyone I think works for Anlon shows up you’ll be dead a second before I die.”
“Understood. Amazing you got away from Anlon’s agents. You are more valuable than I took you for.”
“Marines. Stop stalling. Make the call or whatever it is you need to do to get off this planet.”
“We simply request my car,” said Malphas slowly taking out his PAD and having the machine return his vehicle.
The small Lehigh car drove off as they made their way over to Malphas’s vehicle. Malphas got in, and the Chrysomallus put Sydnie inside as he sat down with the gun pointed at Malphas. The driver got in and drove away from the airport.
“You know… This plan B is going to cost me to reveal more than I had intended at this point in time. Something I won’t be able to use in the future,” said Malphas.
“I don’t care. It’s your own damn fault,” said the Chrysomallus.
“Oh, I agree with that assessment. I’m thinking along the lines of you work for me, and I keep you safe from Anlon and this Agent whose daughter you have.”
“We’re letting her go when we are on the ship.”
“I can agree to that. Once we are home free as it were,” said Malphas with a smirk.
“Who am I kidding. You’re going to kill me as soon as I am no longer aiming this gun at you. That was the plan. To wipe anyone connected to you.”
“Yes. However, I have a newfound interest in keeping someone as resourceful as you alive. It is so hard to find good help.” Malphas looked at the Chrysomallus and smiled.
“The only reason I helped you was because I believed we were on the same side. I didn’t want to kidnap this human child. What makes you think I want to do anything else for you?”
“Well, there is the part where Anlon and this Agent hunt you down and make an example of you.”
The Chrysomallus doesn’t say a word and frowns turning away from Malphas.
Sydnie slumped over, passing out as the car drove along.
Copyright Conrad Brubaker 2018