Web of Chaos
At 5:05 Lel waited out front of the Legerdemain factory building as Snorri lumbered over to his car.
“Guess you’ll have to get in the back,” said Lel facing forward in his seat. He looked at Snorri then faced forward staring out the windshield. Lel pushed the button to open the back door once it occurred to him to do so.
Snorri squeezed in, the back of the car dropping down from his weight.
Gently pushing down the gas pedal, Lel drove off. He kept glancing into the review mirror at Snorri behind him. Trying to act natural, he drove through the city a bit too slow for normal.
Out in front of a small apartment building next to an unused elevated train structure, Lel parked his car. Snorri got out, and some homeless people grabbed their stuff and hurried off upon seeing him.
Lel got out. “Come on, we got to hurry out of sight.” Jogging to the apartment building’s door, he held his PAD near the touchpad. The door opened, he ushered Snorri inside, and he backed in through the doorway.
Snorri had no idea of where to go. Behind Snorri, Lel tried to inch past him without brushing up against him. Once in front Lel pointed up some stairs. “This way.” Going up fast, Lel waited on the second floor.
Snorri put half a foot on one step and angled his body sideways to fit. He made his way up the stairs like a clumsy ballerina; one foot up a step, next foot up to the same step, to one foot up a step again.
Snorri wondered if Lel told the truth and if the exo-armor existed, how would they get it out and fit it into the car as well.
Lel got to an apartment door, its designated number had worn off. Opening it, he waited for Snorri to catch up and go in first. Snorri sauntered over and entered the room while squinting at Lel.
With no furniture inside, a pile of dirty sheets sat in the middle of the room. Snorri rubbed his nose, the room had an odd moldy smell mixed with coriander.
Lel moved some sheets and exposed the exo-armor. A disturbed bed bug ran for cover. Walking over to the exo-armor, Snorri picked up its helmet. He hadn’t gotten his hopes up it existed, let alone worked. Turning to Lel, Snorri opened his mouth, “Sno,” and was cut off by a loud bang.
Lel ran for it. Left standing with the helmet in his hands, Snorri dropped it. Layering a few sheets, he put the pieces of armor on top. Grabbing a gauntlet, he put it on. He grabbed a vambrace, made it split into two sections, and put it on his forearm.
Hearing people running down the hall outside the room, Snorri bundled up the exo-armor in the sheets and hefted it up over his back like Santa Claus. As a G.E member came to the open door, Snorri punched with his partially armored arm, smashed right through the doorframe, and crushed the G.E member into the hallway wall with a crack.
Screaming in pain from a broken arm and collarbone, the G.E man dropped his weapon.
A second G.E member ran into Snorri, and he flung the person fifteen-feet down the hallway.
The G.E man hit into the wall tried to pick up his energy weapon. Snorri brought his gauntleted fist down on his head, shattering the man’s skull and snapping his neck.
The other G.E member scrambled to get up off the floor as Snorri came barreling down the hall. Snorri bulldozed right over the person, cracking their ribs.
Getting to the top of the stairs, Snorri looked down at Joe.
Upon seeing the Rephaim exo-armor on Snorri’s arm, Joe ran out of the building. “Rephaim! Rephaim’s got the armor. Go, go.”
Confused, Snorri made his way down the stairs dragging the exo-armor in the sheets thumping and clanking down each step.
Outside he looked around. Parked, Lel’s car had its windows broken. A van remained in the middle of the street, its side door slid open, and the engine running. Joe’s pickup sped away.
Throwing the sheets full of exo-armor over his shoulder, Snorri tramped over to the van and threw the exo-armor in. Climbing in, a hunched over Snorri leaned over the driver’s seat and pushed a button; the side door closed. Grabbing the driver’s seat, he snapped the back off and threw it to the rear of the van. He sat half his body on the seat and put one foot near the gas pedal. Putting one large hand on the driving wheel, he pushed down the gas pedal with the edge of his boot. The van jerked forward, and Snorri made his escape.
The police would come, and Snorri knew full well they would pull him over if they saw him. A couple of short blocks away, he saw a woman. He pushed a button to open the van’s side door, pulled up next to her and stopped. Faster than his size would belie, Snorri got to the van’s side door, reached out, and pulled the woman in with one hand; she screamed.
“Snorri needs you to drive.” He placed her in the driver’s seat. “You be quiet, and you will have life.” Sitting on the floor behind her, he clasped his hand around the back of her skull and squeezed, holding her tight.
She drove, unable to beg or cry.
Onboard the America, Corporal Alexander Lucas sat at a round table with Gill Rune. Wearing the Eliminator exo-armor but without the helmet, Alexander stood up. Its camouflage pattern had changed to reddish-brown and shades of metallic-gray, blending in with the inside of the America. “If that’s all, we’ll head to New York.” Alexander headed for the door.
“Yes, that Alacrity is our best lead,” said Gill standing up and following Alexander out of the room.
Gill checked on the G.E member missing his hand. Camera’s in the room the G.E was locked in allowed Gill to see and listen in. They had not gotten anything useful out of him so far.
Wondering around the ship’s corridors, he came across Gunnar Bardrick walking toward him. Gunnar had on his Obliterator exo-armor but no longer had the big hip-mounted OPR attached to it.
“Thanks for the save,” said Gill stepping right in front of Gunnar.
“No problem.” Gunnar looked down at Gill. “You might want to invest in an exo.”
“Earth isn’t built around people wearing armor.”
“I’ve built a system in the back of a van to outfit an exo on the fly. Good for emergency situations. You’re going to need everything you can get working for Anlon.”
“Yes, you’re right.”
Gunner stepped to the side and walked past Gill. “See ya.”
Heading to the Galley, Gill figured it would be his best shot to find another Marine to get to know.
Walking into the Galley, Gill saw Melissa Darva in her Yellowjacket exo-armor with its thick wings folded against the back. Sitting and eating, she looked up at him as he entered.
“Hello,” said Gill as he sat at the table.
“Been working for Anlon long?”
“Since the end of the Witch Hunter war.” Melissa poked at her food with her fork, eyes glazed over in thought.
“Isn’t it hard to hold a fork with gauntlets on?”
“Not really. The sensors in the exo let you feel a light-touch.”
“It must be a lot of fun flying free with such an exo-armor.”
“Flying so others can have the freedom we did not before Anlon showed up with the Chandra.”
“I see. Would be a bit more enjoyable when someone or something is not trying to kill you.”
“Yes. Which is pretty much constantly in this universe.”
“I don’t have a drink, but here’s to making the world a better place,” said Gill getting up.
Melissa smiled as Gill walked out in search of another Marine.
Having mapped out the ship walking around, Gill headed to the bridge. The last place he hadn’t been, besides each Martial Call member’s private living quarters.
On the bridge, sitting at the weapons station, Liam Mason wore a black and blue Enforcer exo-armor. His ESAR had a thick barrel at the last foot of it and hung from him by a strap.
In one of the two pilot seats, Cathan Hudson had on a gray and white Banshee exo-armor. Hooked on the chair beside him, the helmet had a heart-shaped barn owl face.
Before Gill could think of something to say, one of his AI programs flagged a police report for him. He glanced over it, then walked over to Alexander. “Great… G.E attacked an apartment behind us in Philly. Have no idea why.”
“You want us to head there?”
“No. I’ll send another agent to check it out.” Gill accessed his system and selected Yori Sato, a lower ranking agent who worked in the Philadelphia area. Sending the agent instructions and only the information he figured the agent needed to do the job, Gill picked a seat and sat down. He set an AI program to search through the CCTV camera databases for the Harrowgate area of Philadelphia.
In bed, nervous about tomorrow, Wendy couldn’t wait for her first day getting paid to work. At the same time, she didn’t want it to come. It seemed so serious now. Fear of making future mistakes took on a whole new emotional intensity.
At her feet sensing something was up, Twinkly-biscuit-miser moved and laid by her head, giving her face one lick.
“Ah!” Wendy picked him up. As he wagged his tail as hard as he could, Wendy found it hard to hold onto Twinkly-biscuit-miser, and she put him on her stomach. Tired he settled down and slept, she did not.
In the van, Snorri had his captive pull over and park. With his one hand on her head, he squeezed harder popping it like a grape. Carrying the exo-armor in the sheets, he left the van. He walked for about an hour and came to an area with many homeless humans and aliens. Crowded into makeshift shelters in every nook and cranny between all the apartment complexes, the people observed him.
Going to an old, empty Legerdemain office building, Snorri found a door around back and pushed his way in the already broken door. None of the people would risk living inside; no one found dealing with the syndicate which owned the building worth it.
Putting the sheets down, Snorri got out the helmet and put it on. It turned on, and he could see in the dark. Finding a stairwell, he descended ten stories and headed to the farthest back room.
Sitting down he contemplated what his next move would be and how he might go about getting something to eat. Going home would not be a smart idea he decided.
Approaching Diesel, a G.E worker handed him a thin tablet.
Diesel looked at it for a minute. “And you can’t get the navigation system to work, no matter what?”
“I can’t, no Sir. Software problem. We didn’t know it had any such issues. Though it was all just damaged parts.”
“And do you know anyone who can work on an Arkvee?”
“No, Sir. Anyone who can fix robot’s or drone’s navigation software should be able to. Don’t think we need to find military trained.”
“We got to have plenty of programmers in the G.E.”
“Not in this cell. I’m sure you can contact the higher-ups.”
“Radio silence… I’ll figure something out myself.”
Copyright Conrad Brubaker 2018