A gun pointed at my head... figures, but how did he get here? He was obviously waiting for a response, so I gave him one.
“Well sorry to say, I'm afraid neither of those is going to happen.” I say it cleanly and coldly, hopefully he got the message, I keep my head slightly turned to see him and the gun, then I hear the screech of a car breaking rapidly.
“And i'm sorry to say, i think it will.” I look over and see several men in black suits hop out, carrying military firearms... stereotype much? Three people surround me, completely cutting me off unless I decide to grow wings and fly off.. so much for my taking him one-on-one plan, needed to come up with something different to take him down... then the second van showed up. I pulled up right behind the first and unleashed several armed soldiers out of the back, which all but two go to rush the house I came out of, the two that didn't walked up to us, guns ready and aimed at my head... they sit there, pointing guns until a soldier came out of the house.
“He isn't here! He must have fled the moment his security cameras saw us.” This annoyed 101, and he shouted back “He couldn't have run far, get after him!” The soldier salutes and runs off, barking orders to his team. They finally decide to shove me in the van, Luckily they didn't think the aurora was anything special, because they didn't even glance at it, I get led into the back, and a pair of handcuffs were slammed onto my wrists... mistake number one made, I could break these handcuffs if I wanted to, a bench seat lined both sides, and the front was walled off from view and touch. Several soldiers line into the van, giving me glances through their visors, and the ones on the opposite side of me kept their guns at the ready, just itching for me to make a move so they could shoot me. I hear two people get in the cab, probably 101 and one of the men in black that showed up in the first van.
The van starts, the second one doesn't so I figure they won't follow until they find the guy... we start moving and I get time to think, the soldiers obviously using the comm unit in their helmets to talk without me listening in. I start thinking how I would set this off, if I turned fast enough their bullets might only catch my scales and plates, and I could take down the front four, leaving the other two, though I could take one out with my tail and the other out with a wide claw swipe... now wait that wouldn't work, the moment a shot went off the guy driving would slam on the brakes, and we would probably get slammed into the divider to the cab.
I shake my head and keep thinking on it, I come to the conclusion that it would be hard to get out, but even if I did, 101 would still need to be brought out of the equation, and to do that I need a surgeon, and possibly kill the signal to that damn capsule in his neck... I could do the later now. I focus and bring up the aurora's menu, look until I see signal jamming, and get onto the app, I block all incoming transmissions, and get a good reaction out of the soldiers, who suddenly act confused, guess I caught their conversation off... hah, but that annoyed them.
After a few seconds of frustrated tapping on his helmet the guy across from me switches his audio onto the public setting “Is anyone else's comms acting up?” Several soldiers switch theirs to public and confirm it... unfortunately this was a smart batch, because they automatically look at me “What?” I say, putting on my best annoyed voice, which I'm proud to say is 100 percent authentic, no faking involved.
The girl next to me slams her rifle into my head “Shut it EVO, what the hell did you do to our comms?”
“Ow, motherfucking... first you tell me to shut it, then you tell me to explain something that I have no idea about?” I would've said more, but at that moment I get another hit from the rifle, and the remark “Smart-ass.” from the soldier, well they have no love for me... ugh those things hurt like hell. I feel blood drip into my left eye, they drew blood too.. they're going to pay...
The bump and sound was so unexpected it caused everyone, including me to jump. “What the hell was that?” Says one soldier at the end of the row, the guy pounds on the divider to get the attention of the drivers... and then the next surprise came... in the form of something slamming into the back right of the van, we go flying into the opposite side as the van starts to swerve and flip from the hit, my head had slammed into the wall, and barely missed getting hit by the rifle of a solder, apparently rounds can go off if enough force is applied to the gun itself, because several rounds cracked out of the rifles as we hit the ground, overturned and sliding for a few seconds before stopping. I feint being unconscious and hear the soldiers scramble to get their guns and out into the open, they were all talking at once, apparently jarred by the crash, I note there was three voices missing... probably hit by the stray shots. One of them kicks the doors open and they start moving out, dragging me by the feet out into the street...
A rifle report sounds off, and I hear the familiar sound of someone getting a 50. cal bullet to the chest, and going down. The rifle sounds again, and the only one who didn't seek cover ends up with the first one, the two voices left were getting panicked now... better late than never, I open my eyes and see one hiding in the corner of an alleyway, the other behind a car, both weren't paying attention to me, so I sit up, and focus. My arms become larger and scaled, and the handcuffs break apart into pieces and fall off my wrists, now was my time to recover, I unzip the jacket, and pant zippers and turn fully draconic, the shirt underneath rips apart and that finally gets the attention of the soldiers, surprise showing through their visors.
I automatically rush the one at the car, slamming his head into the trunk, leaving a dent and the guy unconscious, I duck over to the side of the car as bullets spray the other side, shot from the last soldier... which happen to be the standard armor piercing kind of ammo, I see bullets shot out onto my side, I need to end this.
I knew that sound too well, it was that of a neck snapping... the bullets cease and I peek over the car door to see someone I didn't expect to see again. Standing there in full view was the lizard/insect combo from the mall, armed with a old tar-42 assault rifle and added onto the weird factor... standard blacksteel armor for police, even had the S.W.A.T logo on the chest, though it looked heavily worn. I pick up the KO'ed soldiers rifle off of the ground... the first thing I say when I stand up is...
“What are you doing here?” with a good tone of surprise, then he says with impunity “Isn't it obvious? Keeping you out of the Gov's labs.” A series of clicks come off and then he continues “We EVOs have to stick up for one another don't we?” That sounded cliché, and I don't really think it was good explanation, I look down the street, a abandoned truck with the front end smashed was sitting in the corner of an intersection, obviously that's what hit the van, I note something far off in the distance flying this way, right now it was just a speck, but I had other things to worry about, I look back at the EVO “Ok, little bit hard to believe you killed several soldiers and such just for me, or for what I did at the mall.”
He mashes his mandible/snout thingy like he was thinking on something, then he says “Right about that, but more of them will be here soon, and I can't really explain it all here, do you mind coming with us?”
“Us?” I look back to the speck, I could note feathery wings from here... now this is just getting weird, especially if it was the bird EVO from the mall. I look back and see another one had joined him, a brown wolf EVO that carried a bag and a handgun, he was dressed in black and blue street clothes with his hood back and an anarchy sign on his jacket, he whispered something only the other EVO could hear.
After the little message was delivered the EVO looked over to me “Alright, we've got one minute before the second van gets to us, so decide now.” Great... no pressure, I felt like I couldn't trust them, but what choice did I have, besides fighting it out with the second van people or running back to a place they obviously already know about?
I sigh “Alright.”
“Good, this way.” which was growled out by the wolf EVO, who turned into the alleyway and started a quick jog. Repto-bug turned to follow him until the van's passenger-side glass window shatters outward... it looks like I was right about the people in the cab, because 101 hops out, several cuts on his head, and he acted dizzy from the crash, I see The EVO notice him too and raise the gun to shoot him, not now.
“No!” I shout as I make a last ditch effort, flipping the rifle and grabbing it by the barrel, and hurl it like a javelin towards his head. It caught him in the side of the head and knocks him off the van just as a shot grazes right where his head was.
“What the hell was that man?” The EVO shouts at me as I rush the van... why was I trying to keep him alive? The question suddenly busts into my skull, he was an enemy, trying to abduct and return me to the facility where many unpleasant things will obviously happen to me. I round the corner and see him, put a good crack in his head, but it was healing quickly, and he was at least out-cold. You could kill him my mind told me, he wouldn't bother you again, leaving you without an match for the time being... where did that thought come from? I couldn't kill him, I had a chance to free him and possibly gain an ally. The thought won out, even though I had doubts about it, I grab his arm and throw him over my shoulders, when I come around the other side of the van I about got shot by the EVO, who gives me a questioning look.
“Need him alive, I can explain on the way to wherever you're taking me to.” He makes a huffing sound mixed with a few odd clicks. “Follow me then.” He takes off after his buddy, who happened to be just at the ending of the alleyway. I hear wings and see that yep, it was the peregrine EVO form the mall flying overhead with a high-powered sniper rifle in his hands, he passes by and heads in the direction of the wolf EVO, landing beside him smoothly and stepping into the jog with him. They didn't wait for us and I didn't expect them to, they continue on through side streets, me just barely keeping sight of him the entire time, some where along the line I manage to catch up with the reptile/bug EVO and explain to him, he keeps silent, and I leave out important details, like the full dragon shifting he could do and the fact he's a clone. As we went along, 101 still bouncing along my back, kind of created a bit of a sight, a few cars stopped, people gasped and pointed, one of them even tried to get a video of us before we disappeared, following the EVOs to an apartment block, ten stories high and in decent looking shape. The wolf EVO took a quick look around to see if anyone was looking, seemingly satisfied he opens the door, beckoning us inside.
The moment I head in through the doors into the lobby, I see that there was some noticeable changes, with the main desk having two people manning it, both looking more like club bouncers than desk managers... also they were both bull EVOs, one black and the other white and brown, who both gave me a surprised look the moment they see me, or maybe it was 101 hanging unconscious over my shoulder.
The wolf EVO snaps his fingers to get the black bulls attention “Royce, get Corey.” The minotaur gets out of the chair and heads towards the elevators on the right, one opens before he even gets up to it, which he promptly enters and the doors shut behind him. Wolf EVO turns to me “Now explain why your brought a knocked out agent with you.”
And luckily the Reptile... ugh I need a name for him, gives a short version “He's apparently he's an EVO like our friend here that has an capsule embedded in his neck, forcing his cooperation with the government.”
“And he'll help us if we get it out?” Wolf asks to me.
“After all that's happened to him in captivity, I’m sure of it.” They exchange a quick glance with each other, then wolf speaks again “Okay then, we'll see what we can do about that, since that surgeon you tried to hire is probably already to Canada by now.” Canada has an extradition treaty... why would he go there? Why not Guatemala or Russia? I slide 101 off my shoulder, i'm guessing the signal jammer worked, because there isn't a gaping hole in his neck, I check his pulse and sure enough he was still alive. Still unsure about the EVOs though... seemingly sensing my unease...
“I'm sure you're wondering who we are, am I right?” Wolf EVO says before continuing after I nod “I'm Tom and this is Jerry, the peregrine is Dominick. We're ah...” I don't think he had a good point to start his speech, but then the elevator doors open and Royce along with another EVO step out, he was a Grizzly, literally, anthro he may be, he stood a good 9 feet tall and was complete with fuzzy round ears. The man looked like he could bench press a truck easily, and he only wore a set of jeans for clothing, didn't know they could make them in that size. He gives an angry glare at 101 on the floor before looking up at me, his demeanor changed that instant, becoming much more... I don't know, friendly, I guess anyone could say when a grizzly turns his frown upside down... did I honestly just think-
“Welcome, and i'm guessing you have questions?” The grizzly I’m guessing was Corey asks.
“Who wouldn't? And I'm guessing you're the one who will answer them?” I say back, giving my best draconic poker face at the same time, when somebody you don't know acts friendly at first sight, it's cause for suspicion.
“Most of them, if I can... but first let's start with me asking a question, who's he?” Corey asks, pointing a finger at 101... surprised he's still out. Tom jumps in and tells him exactly what Jerry said to him, Corey scratches his chin, pondering it over.
“Alright, We can see about him, think Rebecca is up for the job?” He asks to Royce, who nods in response and goes over and slings him over the shoulder like I had him on the way here and heads to the elevators. Corey waits until after the doors close before speaking again...
“Your “friend” should be taken care of shortly, and now onto the important questions, if you will follow me.” He heads towards the second elevator doors, The first part of his sentence seemed a bit odd to me, as the way he said it made him sound like a mob boss... I think I might have steeped into something big here... but what choice did I have? If I tried to run they could easily catch me, or shoot me for that matter. So I follow him into the elevator, leaving behind Tom and Jerry, while Dominick follows us in, Cory hits two floors, one labeled five and the other was -7, we start heading up first.
“So why help me?” I ask casually, and hoping I’ll get a straight answer.
He takes a slow breath, like someone ready to give a big speech, then starts talking “To be honest you are the first dragon EVO, or the shifter kind at any rate, to be seen in public and be stalked by the government, the moment Mo saw your eyes he guessed exactly what you were and told everybody here about it.” The doors open and Dominick steps out onto the floor, looking kind of like an armory from here, before the doors close again and we start heading down.
“And if you are wondering why still, we fight for EVO rights, bringing the outcasts of moderate society into the light and giving them the equality they want, no more specists roaming the streets, no more hiding when a bunch of cops decide to go on a EVO arresting spree, no more government test subjects...” He said that specifically for me, I know he did “Here at Alpha, we aren't letting injustices slip by, or letting people get away with the “less than human” insults, EVOs are treated like the African Americans were after the civil war in the south, and it's frankly the most disappointing thing.” Ok I think he's officially ranting now... Alpha? Doesn't ring a recall, or anything similar.
“Okay, EVO rights group with guns... that brings the question to me, how are you planning to achieve this equality?” I ask before he could start ranting again.
For a second there he almost told me, but the second in which he hesitated, I knew it was more than a peaceful demonstration... he comes up with the answer “I can tell you that, if you're willing to join us in the fight.” and that's when the elevator doors open, showing off a large rec room, most of it looked nice, walls painted a smooth matte black with carpeted floor, a set of TVs sat on the right with a cluster of couches and occasionally a recliner, several EVOs sat around that area, some checking news reports while a few others were using the largest of the screens to play a wargame, I see the controllers were hooked up to a cable that ran to an orb-like structure... then I remember what aurora was doing... sorry for messing up your game boys. There was a kitchenette complete with coffee maker and cup rack, the only part I noticed that was different was the left-hand wall, maps of the city sat on a table and pinned to the wall above it. Some canisters were holding on the table, empty, as a lioness, not an anthro either, studied the maps while sitting in a chair, just about everybody looked at me the moment I entered, the distraction caused a player to get the game-winning kill, who promptly decided to notice me then. Corey steps out into the area...
“Alright you all know who we were going after, so please stop acting surprised.” That killed about half the attention on the spot, a few other's stares lingered for a second, before going back to what they were doing... now was the important decision, do I accept or decline his offer? Even the people down here had some weapons, I could see three with sidearms in plain view, and I think these are the people who would kill to keep secrets, though I hardly know any besides where this building is, but I guess that's enough for me to be considered a security risk... I hate this right now. The best idea is to join, find out what they are up to, and use the chance to escape if needed.
“Okay, I'll join.” I say finally.
“Great, let's start with...” And he starts a series of introductions, and then came a tour, the entire building had been bought out by members of Alpha and then the new “owner” Corey runs it like your average apartment building, keeping it low profile with all of it, renovations on several floors, aka the armory and rec room, and gave much of it the “Secret rebel base” kind of structure, I get shown to my room, which was on level three and was actually kind of small for an apartment, the entire thing went well until an crocodile EVO named Terry came running up to us...
His voice came out raspy and he had a weak Russian accent “You know that guy Shane brought in? He woke up just a few minutes ago and he isn't happy.” I get a sideways glance/ very very evil glare from Corey.
I ignore the look and say “Is the capsule out of his neck?”
“Yes, though he's having a hard time being convinced of it.”
“Why didn't Rebecca call me about this?” Corey says, instantly in angry mode again.
“For some reason we can't get any signal.” Then I remember the jamming I had aurora do...just ruining everybody's day with that... maybe if I turned it off...
[Command accepted.] Wait... aw shi-
We all hear the sound, it was barely audible, but it was there. “What floor is he on?” I ask quickly.
“The floor above us.” So the charge wasn't as big as I thought it was, at least that's some good news.
“Better get there before he hurts somebody, he probably needs undeniable evidence or something, if that fails, I can always knock him out again.”
“You had better hope he hasn't caused any damage, or i'm going to make you pay for it, and not with money.” He had a tone that told that whatever he had in mind wasn't any good. We take the elevator to the next level, this one housing a set of beds and some medical equipment, we run along the hallway and turn into a surgery room, and find a small crater blown in the floor, plus the mangled remains of a table which both were blacksteel... so it had to be a powerful explosive packed into the capsule, The moment we stop looking at the obvious crater, we all see the cracks in the wall where something impacted, slumped below it was 101, in dragon form, dizzied and generally stunned look on his face, a bit of scorch marks covered his plates... kind of creepy seeing someone who looked exactly like you, but I guess that's what you get when you use dragon DNA on two people. I look around the room and spot an unconscious bluejay EVO on the ground... must have been Rebecca, I look around and see what must have happened, capsule goes off on tray, tray destroyed, shrapnel from tray goes flying and hits Rebecca while 101 gets tossed by the explosion.
Though Corey doesn't figure it out immediately “What did you do?” He growls out and takes a step toward 101, who seems unaffected by the now present hostility. He coughs out a small cloud of black smoke and says “The little capsule did it, not me... though i bet he didn't tell you it was explosive, did he?” He kept his glare on me the entire time... I think he was pissed about me knocking him out with the gun, if he actually remembered it that is.
“No, he didn't.” The sudden coldness would have sent a chill down a normal human's spine, not me though, I actually expected it. So when he turns his glare on me...
“And don't kill me for it, I said it was forcing him to work for the government, and such, but really, what did you expect? It's not like they could control his mind with a capsule in his neck.” I see a vein pulse in his neck even though it was beneath the fur, I think he was going to do a right up punch to my face, but something held him back. He takes a slow, calming breath that seemed to have no effect whatsoever and says “Maybe you should tell the whole truth next time.”
I felt like getting technical with him so “Actually I wasn't the one who told you about it was I? It was Tom, who got what he told you from Jerry, who got the larger version from me.” Bad move, apparently he isn't the one who like's to be corrected often, because a low growl came out.
101 just chuckles and says “Looks like you pissed someone off Shane.” He groans and gets up, then I notice the blood streak on the wall where he had been laying, it wasn't that large, but you could tell his neck hasn't healed yet from whatever surgery they did on him... he must be in a lot of pain. Rebecca moves and groans as Terry tended to her, must be her assistant. Terry applies the final touches to a cut on her forehead and cradle-carries her off to one of the open beds down the hallway, not hesitating to give a glare at 101 on the way out.
“Glad to see the hostility hasn't reduced any... ugh, I guess i should thank you for getting the capsule out of my neck and not killing me outright, also is there any chance for me to find out where I am and who you all are?” He directs the question to Corey, but I could tell the part about not killing him outright was directed solely to me.
“Thanks? First i've heard of it, and you're not going to know where you are until we are sure we can trust you... and as for who we are? We are apart of Alpha.” He says Alpha like it was meant to get a reaction, and it did, 101's eye ridges furrow, barely noticeable by me, but the he gets a calm look on his face “Never heard of it or them.” That just had to be a lie, the best lie I have ever heard, but still, when he had lowered his eye ridges, I knew it was in realization rather than thought.
“Okay, then let me tell you about a cause that needs support from people such as you.” And he launches into the same introduction that I had went through, save for a few crucial word changes and such, also adding a few more sentences to it... 101 took this all in stride and even put on the best acting I had ever seen, almost believably enthralled by Corey's words, and acted like he truly believed in the “cause” That Corey went on about... I knew 101 didn't want to be here for some reason, and it wasn't helping my feeling of uneasiness about Alpha at all... he knew something, but I couldn't go out and ask him directly until after Corey left, he went through the tour again, dragging 101 off and telling me to go get some food, even though I knew I wasn't hungry.
I could get a hold of 101 later... hopefully at any rate. So taking the elevator down several levels into the rec room, which I find was mostly empty now, save for the same lioness named Sheryl, though instead of maps she was looking at a news report... one on a terrorist bombing in New Orleans...
An reporter standing in front of an emergency vehicle gives the details “Reports are still coming in, however it is declare there are no survivors to this tragedy, for those of you just joining in, a bomb has just went off in the downtown area, leveling three buildings and killing the people trapped inside, as of yet only one extremist groups are claiming responsibility for the attack, the “Purists” have left a hologram at the scene, listing absurd crimes against the people affected by the attack... as of yet the body count is expected to be in the hundreds, more on this as reports come in.” I look over to Sheryl, still looking at the destruction, I see the collar on her neck, a newer version of the translator model, since the full versions of EVOs are almost identical to their host DNA, they lack the vocal cords that emulate speech, annoying as it would be to have no-one understand you, a person got the bright idea to make these, they gained popularity until the hybrid strains came in, and almost nobody went with the full EVO strains then, so they quickly lost public interest, even though it could translate virtually all languages programmed into it... then I realize tat the dragons back at the pit talked just fine without them... which could mean a lot of things... I had never found out about that one little recall I had with the dragon being hauled from the ice, so I had nothing concrete... what if-
“Disgusting what the purists will do, destroying countless lives and hurting others in their selfish hatred.” Sheryl's voice was projected from the collar, it was the kind of voice you would find in a band, young and strong, yet not out of tone, kind of the perfect voice, kind of weird without flaws 'no?
I was curious about what the purists have against everybody, even though the word purist should have described it all. “Just what do the purists hate so much?” She gives me the full “Are you kidding?” look... so I think I needed to amend that sentence “Just what do the purists hate so much because I've been living under a rock and don't know about them.”
The look she gave just changed from straight annoyance to straight surprise “Must have been some rock, the purists well hate EVOs, and Advantists too, they believe humanity should be “Pure” and crap, no cybernetics or gene changes... don't give me that look, we all have that same feeling you do about them.” My frown stays in place, it's believable but still, people out there so violently opposed to both sides? Just doesn't seem right, now more than ever with three major sides battling for dominance. My tail twitches nervously, guess it'll be harder to stay a stoic while a dragon.
I shake my head and say “Sometimes it's hard to believe we live in a world like this, filled with hatred and differences that nobody seems to just deal with.”
She snorts “Hopefully that will change someday, but people actually have to fight to remove that hatred.” We toss back and for small talk for a while, it seemed peaceful for a change, no real goal, no persuasion, not even information gathering, just point A to point B. She was in the middle of a sentence when the voice stopped and someone else came through.
“Sheryl, Corey wants to talk to you on the top floor.” I couldn't recognize the voice, odd, but she excuses herself and heads to the elevators... wonder why Corey wanted to talk to her? Enough of that, since nobody was around I had free reign over the room, so I naturally check aurora and see if any wireless-accessible data banks I could mine, oddly enough I find one, though it was a password locked. I turn on the music stored on aurora, playing a rough beat of drums and base I set the little computer to hacking... takes just under a minute through a brute force approach, testing all available passwords in seconds, when it says I'm in I see it was Corey's computer, as he had the log-in icon named after him. I see bunches of files labeled on it along with solitaire and some game called Diablo 6... skipping over that I find a file labeled [operations] and decide to open it, seeing what I could dig up on this supposedly “noble” group... what I find shocks me.
They planed on releasing a bio-hazard into the city water supply, and that wasn't the worst of it, they had their hands on a modified strain of silence, a virus created and supposedly destroyed during world war three... it had only seen one use, on the city of Miami, Florida. The virus was a kill-switch all in itself, five hours after infection the brain would suddenly hemorrhage, and the host would drop dead. Once someone was infect thy became a walking bio-hazard, as the virus became airborne once it was in a host... as for Miami? An airstrike wiped the once gleaming city off the face of the earth, not a single person made it out of the city once the government knew it was infected with Silence by the enemy.
I keep digging and find out what they have done to it. Apparently it was supposed to attack those with human DNA strands... killing anyone not an EVO... that's psychotic! Though the modifications make it have to be initially waterborne, most of the city would die if I'm right... I check and see they had planned out the expected reaction. People start dropping, ten fifteen hours max for the entire human population of Dallas to die off... what the hell is this? I hear some people talking in earnest conversation coming down the hallway so I back out of Corey's computer and was about to move when a strong arm crossed over my throat from behind and pulling tight, cutting off my windpipe so I couldn't speak or breathe!
I hear a familiar voice behind me whisper “Don't make a sound, or we're both dead.”