Web of Chaos
The sun came up. Driving behind a bus, Lel sweated, and his right hand shook but not his left for some reason.
The bus stopped in front of the huge factory building with the name Legerdemain lit up in yellow. Snorri lumbered off the bus.
Lel stopped the car and got out. The bus drove off.
Aware of Lel, Snorri pretended he didn’t notice and lumbered to the factory.
Jogging up behind Snorri, Lel stopped about ten feet behind.
Snorri turned his head a little back, his muscles tensed, ready for an attack.
“Hey Rephaim,” said Lel ready to run.
Turning around, Snorri faced Lel, his fists clenched.
“I don’t want trouble,” said Lel taking one step back.
“Snorri does not want trouble. But Snorri is trouble.”
“Ok, look. I have something I think you might want.”
Snorri did not move an inch.
“It’s a Rephaim exo-armor. You want to buy it?”
Waiting for a bit, Snorri took a step toward Lel.
Lel took a step back.
“Snorri does not have much money.”
“That’s ok. I’m sure we can come to an agreement.”
Both stood not speaking for what felt like forever to Lel. “You want to get in the car, and we’ll go get it?”
“Snorri has to work.”
“Ok. Want to pick a time and place to meet?”
“Snorri will be here after work.”
“What time? I can’t stay here. I have to keep moving.”
“Snorri is out at 5:05.”
“Ok, I’ll be here then. It has to be right then. And you’ll have to get in the car right away. Ok.”
“Snorri is ok with it.”
Getting a call from Alexander Lucas of fireteam Martial Call, Gill thought, “Answer.“
“Fireteam Martial Call reporting in,“ said Alexander.
“In a bit of a bind. Sending my location. Requesting immediate assistance,” said Gill. His Aivot sent the coordinates.
“Understood. On our way. Maintain connection.”
Running down an aisle between racks of boxes, Gill glanced behind himself. The Hunter drone came to the far end of the aisle and aligned itself, targeting Gill. Coming from an intersecting lane, a robot took the incoming blasts of red energy at the last second. Blasted to pieces, parts of the robot burned and a box on the shelves caught fire. Gill turned ninety degrees and ran down another lane as the sprinkler system released a wet foam. Not hampered by the foam, the drone sped after him.
Coming around the corner of the racks, the drone ran right into a shot from Gill’s gun. A blue Alter Energy shield came up around the drone, and the rest of his shots fizzled against it. Booking it down an aisle, Gill headed back to where he had entered the room. His system alerting him to an incoming call from Sydnie, Gill ignored it as best he could; though thoughts of worry for her invaded his mind.
Realizing he made the wrong choice, Gill saw a G.E member limping into the Isle and opening fire with an antique Smith & Wesson 460 XVR. A bullet hit Gill in the chest but did not penetrate his suit. In pain, gasping for breath, Gill aimed and shot; the G.E member fell dead on the spot, a hole burned clean through their chest.
Unable to breathe beyond a shallow intake of air at a time, Gill pushed himself forward. The mushroomed bullet fell from his suit jacket as he ambled along. The drone oriented on him and opened fire. Half jumping, half falling Gill landed on his back, knocking what little air he had left out of his lungs. He fired on the drone, and it put up its shield, hovering in place.
Gill took a breath as best he could and rolled under a rack. The drone dropped its shield and opened fire, missing Gill but breaking a leg on the rack causing it to slump and creak from its heavy load of boxes. The drone flew off, going around the floor to ceiling racks, calculating Gill’s probable location.
Out of the room, Gill hurtled down the stairs. As he came out of the stairwell, a man fired blasts at him and Gill dove for cover behind a large machine. The drone descended the stairs and upon spotting the other man, it ID’d him as G.E. Then it found Gill.
Gill got up and ran. The Hunter drone opened fire, and he dove to avoid getting blasted. From behind a different machine, he fired on the drone, but it put its shield up. Again his Aivot alerted him to an incoming call from Sydnie. He felt terrible his daughter could end up waiting for a call from him which would never come.
Crouching down, the G.E man began circling around behind Gill.
Gunnar Bardrick stepped out into the open in an Obliterator exo-armor with a big, long-muzzled, hip-mounted OPR. A single long beam blasted from the gun and the drone’s blue energy shield shattered as though made of glass; the drone exploded.
Gill felt silly having had such a hard time dealing with the drone, and the Marine took it out as though it couldn’t have been easier.
Alexander came around behind Gill in an Eliminator exo-armor covered in a camouflage pattern of light-tan and shades of creamy-white. An indigo glow came from the tip of the thick barreled EPR he held braced against his shoulder.
“I need him alive,” said Gill as fast as he could upon seeing Alexander and the G.E man.
A streak of indigo shot from Alexander’s rifle annihilating the G.E man’s weapon and hand; pieces of each going everywhere in a mist of blood.
Screaming, the G.E man kneeled and squeezed his wrist.
When Wendy got into the car, Jonah took a deep breath. “There’s been an attack on a Legerdemain warehouse.”
“Oh, how bad?” Wendy tossed her bag of equipment into the back seat.
“Don’t know. But they asked to put you on the payroll. So, I imagine a lot of machines are down.”
“Oh, wow, really?”
“Yeah, so you accept? It’ll be eight hours every day of the week.”
“Ok,” said Wendy, smiling. She frowned. “I hope no one got hurt.”
“I imagine it’ll be all over the news soon. Tomorrow would be the earliest they’ll let us in the building. I’ll send the paperwork to your PAD… Car, go to the office… The boss said she wanted to talk to you if you accepted the position.”
The car adjusted its course.
“Ok,” said Wendy fidgeting in her seat.
A man ran out in front of Lel’s car. Slamming on the breaks an angry Lel opened his car door to give him an earful.
The man pulled out a gun. “We want to talk to you newbie.”
Lel slammed the door and stomped on the accelerator. He planned to shift into reverse then stomp on the accelerator peddle, but in his state of fright, he skipped the shift into reverse part.
The car barreling down on him, the man jumped to the curb.
Speeding through the intersection, Lel looked right and saw Joe in his pickup truck glaring at him.
Lurching forward, Joe’s pickup screeched around the corner in pursuit of Lel. The man on the curb got up and raised his arms in the air. He dropped them to his side in a huff as Joe sped away.
Desperate to get away, Lel figured he could lose Joe down in Center City Philadelphia. There would be too many police for Joe to speed or pull a gun he hoped.
As Lel and Joe sped along, self-driving vehicles moved out of their way. Other drivers were not so polite, risking their lives by staying in the way of the speeding car and pickup. Lel screeched around them, and Joe followed the same path. The closer to Center City Lel got the slower he drove. Joe did the same. Spotting a drone hovering in the sky, Lel made sure not to go above the speed limit.
They approached shiny and incredibly tall skyscrapers. It wasn’t long till over ninety percent of the vehicles were self-driving ones. The sidewalks tapered off, and the pedestrians were left behind. The main roads angled up, taking the drivers many stories above ground level.
Lel meandered all over Center City. Waiting for a chance to slip away from Joe. He hoped he wouldn’t get pulled over and forced to leave the area before he lost Joe.
Gill answered a call. “Hello, sweetie.”
“I’ve been trying to reach you all morning,” said Sydnie frowning and crossing her arms.
“I know. I’m sorry. I was very busy.” Gill paused. “Did you learn anything new?”
“I put on all my clothes by myself this morning. I put on my special shirt,” said Sydnie poking at her shirt. The image on the T-shirt switched to a new picture she had drawn each time she touched it.
“That’s great.” Gill left a drone behind to keep an eye on the comings and goings of people around the warehouse. Melissa Darva in a Yellowjacket exo-armor stood behind Gill and wrapped her arms around him. Thick wings with engines attached to them on her exo-armor glowed indigo. Melissa and Gill shot up into Alexander’s ship the America. Larger than the G.E’s dropship, it hovered above the warehouse. An indigo glow came from its engines as well.
Standing in her chair, Sydnie leaned forward, propping herself up with her arms on the table. Closer to her PAD’s camera, she blinked. “Are you listening?”
“Yes. Good job getting dressed. Anything interesting happen?”
Sydnie sat down leaving only her head visible above the table’s edge. Sitting and thinking for a bit, she leaned her head way back then dropped it forward. “I’m not allowed to say the dog’s stinky out loud… Oh, Mom’s telling me to say thank you for the DLC.”
“She wants to talk to you.”
“Hello, Gill. Did you have to buy it for her just before bed?”
“Oh. I did it right after I became aware of what she wanted. I didn’t tell her I did so.”
“Well, she wanted to check on the thing before she went to bed. Then, of course, she had to play with it.”
“Sorry. I’ll set a reminder next time rather than doing it right away.”
The Arkvee with the glowing red Dunamis crystals powered up and took a step forward. Turning, it walked out of the dropship. Targeting twenty junk vehicles, it opened fire. In a hail of red bolts of energy, the vehicles were slagged into pieces of molten metal in seconds.
Copyright Conrad Brubaker 2018