Web of Chaos
That evening inside the old closed-down store, Lel let go of his PAD and it floated in place. He stood up and the PAD rose and positioned itself next to his right shoulder. “Come on man, why we sitting around all day.”
“We’re supposed to be keeping an eye on things. Wait till someone comes knocking, good or bad,” said Erwin.
“Nobody comes looking… Ever.”
“Tell you what; I’ll take you to this AR paintball place I know. We can burn off some steam.”
“K… Cool.” Lel batted a large metal cap off the top of a clothes rack pole with a thinner plastic pipe. It bounced off the far wall with a thump and clanked across the floor.
A brown, angular dropship flew down onto a rock-strewn outcrop on the side of Bald Eagle Mountain. Inside the ships, large bay stood the Arkvee with the large red Dunamis crystals protruding from it. Across the bay, a big black Dunamis glinted from a machine attached to the ships haul.
A bunch of G.E lined up inside, and the back of the dropship opened; an ample enough opening for a thirty-foot Arkvee standing up to go in or out.
In walked a clean-shaven handsome man. Malphas had smooth light skin, dark eyes, and short black hair. Wearing all black, he had on a suit with a fancy trench coat appearance and made from the same fabric as Gill’s suit.
“So, it appears I got you this ship just in time,” said Malphas.
Diesel and Joe stepped forward.
“Yes, thank you Malphas. Much appreciated,” said Diesel.
“Yes. What were your names again?” Malphas turned away and looked around the ship.
“This here is Joe and my names Diesel.”
“I see,” said Malphas looking them up and down.
“So, we almost got this Onslaught working we got from the Harbingers,” said Diesel.
“Oh, the Arkvee. Yes, and Anlon’s men are on your tail. I suggest you step up your timeline.”
Joe stepped closer to Malphas. “No problem. Does headquarters have something particular in mind?”
“No, We’ll leave it in your hands. Just maintain communication blackout,” said Malphas walking out.
Though it took a while, Gill gained access to various Syndicate’s satellite databases. He set an AI program to search through by a certain date range at the coordinates of the G.E’s run-down old factory.
The program compiled a significant amount of data on the comings and goings from the building. It appeared a single expensive Alacrity car always came from and left to the northeast, toward New York City.
Directing his car to drive along the same roads the other one did, Gill accessed CCTV camera databases along the way, searching for the Alacrity every step of the way. Attempts to ID the car and its owner from the license plate didn’t work. The license plate changed its number every so often too, making it hard to track.
In an industrial area, Gill had not found it hard to track the Alacrity to a warehouse. The building was surrounded by other identical ones spaced a double lane distance from each other. Deciding to stake it out, Gill stopped the car out of direct line of sight. Sending a few drones to land on top of ones nearby, Gill watched warehouse 43 through their cameras from many directions.
Calling Sydnie, Gill waited for her to answer the PAD.
“Hello,” said Sydnie accenting the second half of the word.
“Hello sweetie. Calling to say good night.”
“Oh, good night. I have a hamster.”
“Yeah. On my tablet. And he works with AR and VR.”
“Oh,” said Gill sitting back and opening a bag of food.
“I have to take care of it. And feed it, and bath it, and play with it, and decorate its room.”
“I see. Is it a cute hamster?” Gill opened the wrapping on a cheeseburger.
“Yeah, it’s a he, and he’s white and a little brown… He’s a lot of trouble.”
“A lot of work to take care of?”
“Yeah… I want the DLC that makes him white and purple.”
“Ok.” Gill accessed Sydnie’s tablet, found, and paid for the cheap downloadable content but had not told her.
“Ok sweetie, good night,” said Gill taking a bite of cheeseburger.
Later, Gill watched twenty-four people go into the building, let in by someone already inside. While wondering why the Marine fireteam had not contacted him yet, he shifted his weight in the seat. Keeping an eye out for hours, seventeen people left; Nine of those came back. Getting antsy, Gill had to check his Aivot’s memory for how many people were most likely in the building.
In short order, four people left. Gill got out of the car and headed for the building. He had obtained some promising locations from tracking the others earlier. May as well get the most intel he can from this location he figured.
Lumbering down the street, Snorri kept his head down, the numerous lights from the building lit up the night. Someone threw something small and hard, hitting him on the side of the head. It bounced off and clacked across the cement. Not reacting, Snorri kept walking, wanting nothing more than to get to his apartment and eat.
Driving home from paintball, Lel observed Snorri wandering past. Almost crashing his car, Lel made a left at the corner. Turning at the next intersection, he raced around the block until he had Snorri in his sights again.
Snorri made it to his apartment building. Not once had he notice Lel stalking him. Going to the small room he rented out on the first floor, Snorri ambled over to the fridge and grabbed a large opened can of artificial ham. Picking up a large fork, he ate straight from the can.
Pausing in his eating, he sat at a table with a brown cube about the size of his head. Pushing a button to record a message, he leaned back and took another bite of ham. “Snorri will make family proud. Snorri is a good agent. Snorri is bored but will abide time. Can’t wait till praised for what Snorri has done.” He pushed a send button and took another bite of ham.
Home for the night, Wendy entered her apartment, and her tiny dog Twinkly-biscuit-miser jumped all over her legs. Putting her bag of equipment down she petted him, rubbing him all over as fast as she could and smiling. “Hey Twinkles, hey Twinkles,” she said in a high pitched voice. Wendy took off her shoes. Twinkly-biscuit-miser jumped on her lap, then kept jumping up licking her face.
“Dinner is getting cold,” said her Mother.
“K. Mom.” Wendy walked past the kitchen to her bedroom. Her dog followed her wagging its tail with such force his butt moved side to side.
“Come on Wendy, just eat your dinner.”
“I’m coming. Give me a sec.”
“Ok, ok, I don’t know what you’re doing. You’re a bit late.”
“I need this internship to get a decent job. Sometimes we have to finish up before leaving. It’s not like we clock in and out.”
“Ok. Sit. Eat.”
Before taking a bite of food for herself, Wendy handed a small piece to Twinkly-biscuit-miser.
Opening her eyes wide, her mother glared at Wendy for a moment. “Don’t give him that. He has his own food.”
Wendy raised her eyebrows and hid her lips by curling them inside her mouth.
Watching Snorri for long enough to find where he lived, Lel cruised to the old store. Going in the back door, he stumbled through the dark using his PAD’s light. Making it to the remaining Rephaim exo-armor pieces, Lel removed the vintage clothes and picked up a leg.
Walking in from the front room, Erwin pointed an old gun at Lel. “What the hell you doing?” Erwin scowled.
Holding the big leg of armor, Lel froze. “Hey man.” Lel crouched down while standing the leg up.
Stepping closer, Erwin angled his gun down at Lel. “Fuck you.”
Drawing his gun fast, Lel shot from behind the leg. Erwin shot, but the bullet ricocheted off the armor and grazed Lel’s chin. Laying on the floor, Erwin held his bleeding stomach. Lel shot a few more times at the young man’s chest; his bullets gone, the gun repeatedly clicked on empty.
Taking the long way around a neighboring warehouse, Gill snuck over to building 43. With very few windows at ground level and all of them on the front of the structure, Gill planned to go in another way. The back had loading docks for vehicles and one regular door with a tiny rectangle window.
Figuring going in the bottom floor entrances would be a bad idea, Gill ordered one of his palm-sized drones to search around the second-floor windows. Since the upper floors remained dark and had no detection of heat signatures or movement, Gill figured he could break in. The second-floor windows set with an intrusion detection system, Gill sent the drone to the next floor up. As he thought, the third floor had no intrusion alarms.
Taking a GHG from his suit jacket, this one about the size of a handgun, Gill aimed it just above a third-floor window and squeezed his hand. A metal slug tipped with a yellow Dunamis streaked up, trailed a thin black string along with it, and embedded into the wall. The GHG pulled Gill up a bit awkwardly as he had to use his feet on the wall to not scrape up it on his side.
Stopping at the window and putting his feet on the narrow ledge of a window frame, Gill pulled out a Plasma Cutter with a small glowing red Dunamis at its tip. Touching the crystal to the glass, he cut through it. Falling in it hit the floor with a loud clunk but did not break. He gritted his teeth and climbed in. Glad he went in on the third floor, Gill hoped all the G.E members were on the ground floor and didn’t hear a thing.
Gill’s system changed his eyes so he could see in the dark. His eyes glowed green; brighter than the blue tint his eyes had. In the dark, it made him uneasy as his head would be the obvious target.
Finding the stairs, Gill inched his way down them and scanned for any technology he could hack. With the Wifi jammed, and no Bluetooth either, he kept an eye out for physical network connections.
On the second floor, Gill had not risked going down to the first one. Instead, he searched around seeing what the warehouse stored. Picking up a stubby leg for furniture from a box he put it back in wondering if the G.E hid the Arkvee or exo-armor here.
Making it across the building past an elevator he got to some more stairs. Finding a panel for the alarm system at the top of the stairs, Gill reached to the back of his head. He brushed through his hair with his fingertips, pulled out a cord, and plugged into the alarm panel’s Ethernet port.
Disarming the alarm system, Gill found out it connected to the building’s network.
“That was stupid of them,” he thought while accessing the warehouse’s machines, including robots.
Deciding there were plenty of robots to take out the remaining G.E, Gill activated them. He figured he only needed to detain one. If the others run away or died, he speculated it wouldn’t be a big deal.
On the first floor, all the machines powered on with a loud hum. Startled the G.E all stood up from the lunchroom table, going for their guns. Some of them had old guns with ammo; most had single hand energy weapons.
Sending the first-floor robots to surround the lunch room, Gill dispatched the robots on the upper floors to wait in front of the elevators.
With the sounds of servo motors and actuators, the robots closed in on the G.E. Freaking out, the G.E opened fire, taking out a small flat squarish robot on the front line.
“What did they think that one was going to do to them? Hurt their shins,” thought Gill.
It looked to Gill as though it would be easier than he had figured if they wasted their ammo so readily.
Trapped in the lunchroom with its one doorless entrance, some of the G.E yelled in favor of blocking off the entry with the tables and chairs. The other G.E shouted back, fearful they would be trapped until they died.
Bullets ricocheted off metal robot bodies and blasts burned through their electronics. Many robots ended up destroyed, and Gill had to have other ones drag them out of the way to send more of them closer.
One G.E convinced the others they should make a run for it through the robot hoard all at once. Of course, he wouldn’t be the first out of the doorway. The first one out got a giant metal robot arm designed for lifting heavy objects right in the face. With a sickening crack, the man’s head collapsed, and he fell onto the smooth light-tan floor, his blood pooling on it.
Most of the others did not do so well either. The industrial robots smashed various bones with single hits.
A few made it through. The robots turned to pursue them as Gill sent more down in the elevators. One hectic guy with a gash in his knee limped along as fast as he could and fired behind himself at the robots without looking, missing his targets. Hurrying along sweating and frowning with his jaw clenched tight, he made it to a janitor’s closet.
Upon opening the door a cleaning robot advanced, knocking him over. Shooting the robot his blasts burned right through the cheaper-made machine. Pushing it over the guy got around it into the closet and pulled a tarp off of a Hunter drone at the back. Kneeling, he activated it.
Flying up, the cubed shaped drone, with guns on its right and left side, hovered in front of the man. Stepping to the side, pressing against a rack of shelves, the guy pointed at the doorway. “Destroy all intruders.”
The Hunter drone flew to the door. Leaning sideways a little, it took out small chunks of wood from the door-frame with its guns. It destroyed the industrial robots it encountered in a hail of high powered energy blasts from both weapons. With the industrial robots unable to attack or defend themselves from the flying drone, they got blasted apart.
On the second floor, Gill realized he was in trouble.
Copyright Conrad Brubaker 2018