In the time it took the comment to usher from my mouth, they had gotten a fourth of the way towards us, and naturally 101 thinks that Torrent sold us out.
“You!” He tries to get a hold of the automaton, but Torrent reverses the attempted grab, pinning the arm behind 101's back and then I see a gun come out from behind Torrent and get held to 101's head... it looked like a old revolver, but with the new age spin on it, blocky but still was made of black steel and had maybe six shots in it, which might have been very big bullets.
“You are wrong, I did not sell you out! For if I did I would have killed you the moment your backs where turned. Now I suggest you get up and remember that I am not against you.” He shoves 101 forward. He looks back with a very angry look on his face... somebody's pissed right now.
“One-oh-one deal with it, you can hit him later, right now we need to fight out of here.” I say to him as I shift out draconic, the freshly bought shoes now torn to shreds as sight and smell improved. I didn't know that automatons can be surprised, but Torrent definitely expressed that emotion.
“No wonder they are after you, this changes things, this means we have to get you moving now.” He gets a far-off look in his eyes and I hear a siren and something powering up, both me and 101 look back to see the mech power-up, T-SAF members knew what was going to happen and fired on it, but they made their own machines to tough, the bullets bounced off like rubber. The gun that was it's arm spun up and fired a one second burst, more than half the gunshots ceased with it.
Torrent shoves the door open “Go, follow him, He will clear a path for you.” 101 runs out, scales starting to cover his skin as it darkened. I walk up to Torrent “Where is the mech headed?”
“The airport. They will hunt you down if you can't get off country.” He shoots a T-SAF soldier in the head as he rounded a corner, the guy's head literally disappeared in a shower of red from the bullet... wow, big caliber. I get several thoughts as he looked back at me.
“I'm going for that kid in the hospital, he's going to be in as much danger as we are.”
He gives me this cold look, and I see a red glint behind his eye “There is a dozen ways that will go wrong, and he will be in more danger if he is with us. Are you sure?”
“Hey! Get a move on you lazy fuckers!” 101 says this as he takes a guy and cracks his spine with his knee, grabbing the gun and leveling another five with head-shots. I knew I couldn't leave that kid behind, so I make the decision.
“I'm sure, where is he at?” Torrent seems disappointed in my choice of logic. “We'll be passing by at on the way to the airport, I'll point it out to you, now MOVE!” I was about to say they could shut us down at the airport but this isn't the time to point out flaws in the plan. I run forward and scoop up a fallen soldier's rifle, following after 101, who was wreaking havoc like a trained pro, whatever the mech didn't take down in the first wave he did. There was a hole blown in the far wall, it big enough for the machine to fit through, and it surprisingly did, Now I could see it's back clearly, several mini jet engines rode on it's lower back, along with a small set of missile launchers that would most likely act similar to the ancient javelin of the early century. It had moved on the street and taken out an APC with a burst from that cannon mounted on it's arm.
I look behind and see Torrent breaking a soldiers arm just as we start to hear barking.
“So that's how they found you. Hounds...” Torrent said right as the main office door bursts open and something definitely NOT a dog charged through, it was easily waist-high and had dark gray fur that bristled like porcupine quills and seemed more like a cross between a wolf and a snake, I could see diamond-back patterns beneath the quills/fur or whatever it was, large snake fangs run out from the muzzle and the forked tongue of one that flickered out, it must be a EVA, Evolved Variant Animal... and it was after me. The thing's reptile eyes snap right over to me, it might even be able to sense heat.
It charges as it's handler appears in the doorway, A wolf EVO with dark gray fur. I raise my rifle to put the thing down, but it leaps and I don't have time to put off a killshot, we both go down and the rifle goes flying. It rears back to dive at my throat and I do the only thing I could think of... put my arm between me and it's jaws.
“Raaagh!” It's jaws clamp down on my arm, the fangs barely missing, but it tries to sever my arm with a clean bite, I hear my scales start to crack from the pressure... then it's gone, I watch it fall over, a knife driven through it's skull. I look sideways and see that 101 is the one who threw the knife. I hop to my feet as Torrent comes by, calmly popping off shots, each one making their mark. Agh, my arm hurts like hell. I follow Torrent out into the street along with 101, and see the mech launch a volley of missiles at a flying warbird, flares drop out, but they didn't work, and pieces of metal and fire fall from the sky and crash onto a tank, which is crushed... double kill.
“You two, hop on.” Torrent says as he steps up onto the heel of the machine.
“What?” Both me and 101 ask... and Torrent sighs “You want to get out of here fast? Hop on the mech.”101 gets it first and he climbs up the still form to it's shoulder, even though my arm was smarting I climb and get onto the other shoulder... then I hear the jet engines start up.
“Oh n-” And I wasn't able to say anything else as it started jet-skating down the street, dodging abandoned or moving cars on the street, I almost fall off, but hooking my claws around the convenient metal bar right next to me on the shoulder kept that from happening. A errant blockade or two popped up on the way and the mech would fire it's deafening guns and clear it without stopping... it wasn't long before we spot something following us... and it looked just like the mech we were riding... no wait, several were following, and I was betting that they would fire as soon as they got in range. We pass a massive multistory white building, the mech pirouettes and stops, almost throwing me off.
“Here's the hospital, go get him, he's on sub-floor five, room five-fifty-three. Head on, The mech will stay here, we'll meet you at the airport.”
I hop down and get started towards the doors, I look back and see the mach had planted it's feet in the ground and had brought full arms to bear against the oncoming mechs. Torrent and 101 almost out of sight by now. I turn back to the foyer, empty. Maybe the explosions and gunshots have scared most off and others are trying to move patients to safer areas. Hospitals had been redesigned, above ground rooms were usually for luxury, since world war three they had been changed up into opportunity bunker/hospital so that if fighting ever happened inside the city that soldiers could have a secure place to receive medical attention.
I shift down human to keep form getting attention. And head inside, looked like a normal mid-century hospital, cheerful colors, a wallscreen TV was recapping the little war going on right now, they couldn't get near enough to really get a good view at all, but that's military censorship for you.
“Where's the elevator?” I look and see it way at the back, I walk over, keeping my eyes open for anything. I get there without problems, and I ping the elevator and it arrives in a second. I enter the little chamber hearing cheery music, which felt like poison to me, I remember the music stored in aurora and select random form the music menu, and a tense beat and electric guitar start going along with a piano. When I press the button for the floor the kid was supposedly on I get an access denied image on the little screen.
“Access denied? This is a damn hospital!” I pinch the bridge of my nose and mentally select the hacking tool from all the apps in aurora, and it even comes with step-by-step instructions, I look at the panel and aurora goes into work with vengeance, and in a second the access denied changes to a green color and the door closes and heads down.
The moment it opens I see that this isn't the best place to be a patient, the isolation ward, the place criminals and unknowns are brought for treatment.. sterile white corridors with that nose-burning chemical smell, and the only difference is that the doors are solid black steel and made to keep people in. A middle-aged doctor looks up at me from a data-tablet when the elevator dings.
“What are you doing here?” He reaches slowly for his coat pocket, where he most likely had a tranq gun.
“Looking for a patient, and I’d like you to help me locate him.” I say this all with the straightest face I could fake. His hand slows down, but it's still casually hovering there, I didn't want to hurt the guy, but if he tried I'd have to take him down.
“Really? And what room is he in?” I hesitate on this, he might have the kid killed... but it's a chance I'll take “Five fifty-three.” He withdraws his hand and uses it to pick a point on his tablet...
“Are you here to claim him?” I nod my head. “Then you should be able to cover his injury expenses.” Shit... it will be expensive as hell and they might have managed to get my card cut, then I really will have to... wait, I know what he is going to do... this is going to suck.
“I can cover the expenses, hopefully he wasn't as banged up as I think he was.” He pulls up a payment screen on the tablet, even from here I could see it wasn't anywhere near as high as it should be. I step toward him and he casually had his arm dropped by his side, the same one the tranq gun would be on. He holds out the tablet, expecting my left arm to grab it. I take it with my right and as I’m bringing it up to read does he make his move.
Gotta admit, he was quick, and the tranq wouldn’t have worked on me anyway, but he came within inches of my neck with the gun, I had wrapped my wrist around his and twisted hit to bring him painfully to his knees.
“You really should of just let me pay.” And I shove his own arm, forcing the little tranq gun to inject him in his neck, he was under in seconds... now what? I pull the room up on my board... deemed dangerous eh? No wonder he didn't want to let the kid go, I follow the branching ward, dragging the unconscious doctor with me by the wrist, needed that hand of his. Several nurses and doctors saw me, some would have sounded the alarm, and many probably would have shot me if I hadn't been carrying the tranq gun and aimed it at every one that even glanced at me.
I walk up to his room... and see a good sized dent in the metal... what have we here? I put the doc's hand up against it and it makes a chime before opening.
First thoughts on the room where “Looks like a tornado went through here.” Claw marks, a smashed steel table that looked like it had been torn in two... I couldn't help but get tense, what was this kid? I had to clear the doors to see the rest of the room. I hope this wasn't a fool's errand and step inside, and get tackled.
“Ough!” I crash into the ground and use the momentum to roll on top of him, pinning him by the neck with one hand with a raised fist to hit him. He was in his human form, but he was still unnaturally strong, and fast.
“STOP!” I roar into his face, it caught him off guard and he suddenly stops.
“I'm here to get you out, or don't you remember the warbird?” He gets a far off look like he's trying to remember, he gets it and the first words out of his mouth were “You?”
“Yes, the helmeted hero, here to save your ass... again. Just try not and attack me okay?” I let go and stand up, I get my actual first look at him, he was scrawny, which puzzled me about the strength he possessed, but he had on a set of white cotton pants and V-neck. His eyes were a really light and pale blue. His hair was cut short-ish, with the bangs just edging his eyes and was colored a deep black.
He gets off the ground. “Why did you come here for me?”
“Because if I didn't the scientists will.” His pupils shrink like bad memories were about to set him off... best to keep those kind of remarks to myself around him.
He shakes his head to ward off whatever was in his head. “Let's go, before worse comes to worse.” He heads out without me, The more this goes on the less assured I am this was a good idea. I follow him and catch up quickly, we were halfway before the hospital's security team arrived from the elevator, basically just cops with smaller firearms, like sub-machine guns.
“Cheya!” The kid shouts as he kicks a stray gurney and it goes rolling down the corridor like a cannon ball, it crashes into the lead guy and they go down like bowling pins. Before they had even gotten halfway up we were both on them. A quick punt took care of the lead solder, his helmet flipping off as the seals tore and the visor shattered. Kid grabbed the next one and hit him three times, the second shattering the visor, and the third denting the metal... I had no idea what he might be, but I was starting to think he might be alot more dangerous than me.
I cuff the next cop upside the head and he falls to the ground, and back-kick the one behind him, the guy flying into the wall, where he groans and falls to the ground. The kid had some training, because he dislocates a cop's arm, then causes an ugly compound break at the elbow by palming it, then chopping him in the exposed throat, cutting off his scream. The last guy manages to level his gun toward the kid, but it didn't turn out like it should have, I could almost see the bullets come out of the gun, where they should have at least injured the Kid, but not a single bullet got fired.
The cop drops his gun “What the fuck?” Before the cop had even pulled the trigger the kid had reared back as his skin started to turn black and spit something dark gray onto the gun, which immediately started smoking like dry leaves in a fire. The cop goes for his holstered pistol, but in a burst of speed Kid runs up and hits him with a cross, knocking him off balance and towards me, where I finish him with a knee to the chest right as I bring down an elbow to his spine... he drops after I hear his spine break somehow.
I look at the cop's body, feeling slightly sick for some reason, then I look at the Kid, who was back to normal. “What the hell are you?” He shrugs like he doesn't even care “Hell if I know, but before we leave...” He grabs a unconscious cop and takes off his armor, and putting it over his existing clothes. I pick up a compact machine pistol from the lead cop, and head into the elevator. When Kid walks in I hit the button for ground floor. As the doors close I ask “What's your name?”
As the doors open he answers with “Name? It will have to do at Nova for now.”
“Nova? Don't know where that name came from, but it will do for now, keep close, we're headed for the airport.” He looks at me “That won't work if they already know we are here.” I nod in assent “Which is why I’m hoping that Torrent has a better idea than flying.” We both stumble as a massive BOOM storms through the building, one of the higher floors must have been hit. “We need to hurry, I don't think it will be long before they come after us.”
We get outside and see something straight out of a war movie, smoking hulls and flaming vehicles, and severed and destroyed mechs. Soldiers still were in the streets, but they had their attention focused on the mech that helped out earlier, which was still going from the sounds of it, I look up and see a chunk had been taken out of the building.
“Hey you!” A T-SAF soldier says to us as he comes over, his rifle wasn't even leveled, just hanging across his chest by a strap... he looks directly at Nova and says, “Did you get that situation contained down there?” I almost cough... he thought he was one of the security guards. Have no idea what he thought about me being there, he acted like he didn't even see me.
“It's not good, the first team is down and we have the EVOs pinned on the fifth floor, we need some men sent down there ASAP.” He shakes his head in a disapproving way “Fuckin' mall cops.” He moves his hand to his ear and depresses the squad com button. “Reaper this is echo ten, requesting a unit to disengage pursuit to aid hospital security, over.”
I hear a deep and angry sounding voice say back through “Ten, send three men to do those pussy-boy's jobs and kill the hostiles inside hospital, over.”
The dark red visor made it to where I couldn't see the soldier's eyes, but I was sure he was pissed and frowning. “Fuck! Kio, Vanessa. Fall in, we've got cleanup to do.” The soldiers head inside, just as a drop ship-type warbird flies overhead, and gets speared by a lance of bullets from the roof of the hospital, it goes down and takes a building out... if I was right...
The mech hops off the building, firing the jump-jets on it's back, the cannon goes and takes a good chunk of the soldiers out. It gets all the remaining soldier’s attention and it leaves a corridor open for us to cross the street and use the alleyway directly ahead, a quick mental command to the aurora to start the GPS and I see the yellow line head straight over to it.
Nova gets a head start on me and is moving before I even am, but we head across as T-SAF starts it's counter attack. We almost make it without being seen, but ironically the mech that was supposed to be a distraction, is the very thing that makes us be seen.
I look behind me, and see the mech rushing at us with jump jets going, it rushing us like a bull out of hell, I shove him forward into the ally and dive... and barely make it before it slams into the walls on either side, it folded so that it blocked the entrance completely.
“What the hell was that?” I ask to no-one in particular. Something in the chest of the mech clicks and the chest pops out an inch before sliding out to reveal a smooth surface, with a small one foot circle with a handle in it dead in the center.
“Hurry.” Comes a robotic voice from the mech, at first I was too stunned to speak, so it continued with “Take me with you.” The little circle makes a small hissing sound and pops out a foot after rotating some. I watch the lights behind the visors fade... I had no idea what's going on, so I walk forward and grab the handle, and slowly pull, it comes out another inch before coming completely out. It was a solid cylinder, no apparent markings except in the back where plenty of connectors were placed.
“We should keep moving, they will try and get around to cut us off.” Nova states bluntly while heading toward the other end. I had no pack to shove this in so I carry it under-arm to keep form bouncing it too much, and start at a jog after him. I take the lead and start heading through many side streets and alleyways with a few building detours. I was starting to use mental commands on the aurora more often, bringing up a miniature map into my vision, and put a distance marker just under it, we still had a kilometer to go before we reached the airport.
Our luck doesn't hold out as a T-SAF assault squad ends up blocking our route, but somehow even professionals screw up, because I saw a open grenade box at one of their feet... a perfect target.
They go off like firecrackers after a well placed shot. A couple made it, but Nova took the initiative and those who remained didn't last long. We get to the airport, it on it's own complete tier, and what isn't the main entrance is governed by a electric fence discharging a evil hum. But it's good that 101 and Torrent had gone ahead of us, they left a little hole for us to crawl through. The runways ran like three interlocked 7s with three short and three long runways, hangers bordered most of the short runways, and I was guessing that they stored military vehicles in case of attack... the commercial airliners were parked up a the terminal building, a good few were here, so the gov must have canceled all flights until they find us.
“Where do we go from-” Nova gets cut off by a gunshot, from the nearest hangar, which has the T-SAF insignia stamped on the side.
“Care to take a guess?” We start headed to the hangar, but it remains silent as we close in, and nothing is heard even as we get there. With our back to the side of the hangar I say to him in a low voice... “We have friends in there, one a EVO and another is a automaton so try not to kill everything. He nods to me and he heads in first, followed by me with the machine pistol leveled to take out any opposition. I focus on a dead soldier, badly cut and shot, along with some blood trails... the guy was also missing an arm.
“Damn, bad way to go out.” I hear steps to my right “Shame, he chose it by trying to stop us.” I look to my right and see 101 head out from the shadow of a warbird, it retrofitted with much more dangerous weaponry... Hellfire cluster rockets... some crazy arms for a ship to have. 101 had a giant rifle in his arms, definitely anti-tank with way too big a recoil for a normal human to fire.
“Where'd that come from?” I ask while pointing to it. He pats the gun like it was a kid “Found this little thing onboard, apparently this is some EVO's personal transport. Now I my turn, is that the kid?” Nova rolls his eyes “What do you think?” he says in a real smart-ass voice. 101 narrows his eyes on Nova, giving a examination, then he sniffs like something was in his nose and says “That something isn't right about you, I can tell you are an EVO, but I have no idea what kind, and that's the problem.”
I cast a sideways glance at an unimpressed looking Nova “Really? I've been wondering that too... so then what are-” I get cut off by Torrent getting out of the warbird saying “You managed to bring him!” he walks up to me. “Mind handing him over?” I blink once... twice “Excuse me?” He keeps the calm expression as everyone else just give's a 'What?' expression “The cylinder.” He clarifies.
“Oh, thought for a second I thought you were calling the cylinder him.” I hold it out and he grabs it “I was.” Again, surprised expression by me, and Nova, but not 101. Torrent heads inside the ship, doing something with the cylinder “What the hell was that?” I ask.
101 laughs “You don't know do you? That's the mech's core, there's a reason it's called a sapient droid... still don't get it? Then here's a hint. A human brain is in that thing.” What... the...fuck? “There's a brain in that?” He nods “Yep, disturbing isn't it? And not by choice apparently. That's the reason why people don't like putting themselves down as organ donors, they get the brain out before it dies and you end up being the brain of a mech, luckily most who end up in one have control over the mech. From what I hear the Advantists are worse about this.”
I couldn't help but be speechless. Nova had his eyes closed like remembering something sad “What a twisted world we live in.” We all stay silent for a second when the dead soldier's com piece acts up, projecting the sound out from his helmet, which was lying a few feet away.
“Unit five five, this is Reaper, report.” All our heads snap to the helmet. 101 shakes his head at me when I look at him, he heads towards the door and looks out, keeping sentry.
'Reaper' sighs and states “Whelp, I guess you're dead, if any of you fugitives are listening, I'll see you soon.” I kick the helmet, sending it skidding deeper into the hangar “Well I guess we can expect company.” I walk up to the warbird, leaving Nova crouching near the dead soldier, looking like he was thinking of something. “So Torrent, what are you doing with... him? I guess you could say.” I look in and see a bunch of cables had been ripped out of the pilot's console and were plugged into areas on the cylinder... the thought of their being a brain in there just makes me shiver. He finished plugging one rather thick wire into the back and the ship starts powering up, He brushes his hads off and says “Plugging hm in , and done, we can get out of here now.” He hops out of the warbird, I'm still looking at the cylinder strapped to the pilot's seat.
Torrent calls from outside the bird “You coming? Or are you going to stay with him?” I look out “What's that supposed to mean?”
“You really didn't think we were going to get out of Dallas by air did you? We'll be shot down by the city's defenses.” I look back “But what about him?” He shrugs “He want's to buy us time, and die in the process, and before you ask, Kolton is a suicide, still is.” I sigh and step off the warbird “I guess there is something in that, but isn't there some way to-”
He holds up a finger “No, he'll die anyway. There is literally no way to take him out of that thing without killing him also, and he wouldn't want it.” Again, I couldn't help but feel sad for Kolton, what was his story? What was going through his brain? I wanted to do something, take him with us, anything...
“We've got five minutes until T-SAF shows up, it's now or wait here to die.” That snaps me out of it. I look up “Then let's go, I don't want to leave him, but I guess I will have to.” We get clear of the warbird as 101 hits the door button, opening a sky hatch so that it could take off. Before it took off I hear the built in Comm system on the ship get used by Kolton “Goodbye, and the clock's ticking for you, run for it.” I look around to see reactions, but then I realize that Torrent had left out the door, 101 just now exiting after him. I run for the door and catch a glimpse of Nova walking calmly towards the door... that's when I notice something odd...
“Where's that soldier's body?” I ask to him after stopping. He just says “Took care of it.” And keeps walking right on by... I look back, there was a lot more blood than before... again I have to ask, what is this kid? I head outside and see a T-SAF SUV parked outside, it's engine idling. It was black with the insignia printed on the side and had blacked out windows. 101 had went underneath and pulled something out, he crawls back out and crushes it “Five decades of progress and lowjack is still shit. Get in Shane, we've got a long drive.” He opens up the back and tosses his gun in., before shutting it and getting in the back seat on the drivers side, I go for that passenger but Torrent says “No, get in the back.” I shrug and get in the back seat, the inside was black vinyl... these guys really liked the color black, I shut the door as Nova hops into the passenger seat. I hit the button on the side of the seat and recline, it was good to actually relax, if only for a minute, when Nova shuts his door and Torrent hits the gas. We speed around the terminal building, just as several APCs roll in and surround the hangar, and that's when Kolton makes a move, blasting upwards and launching rockets straight into the group... I guess payback's a bitch sometimes. We weren't noticed as we head out the way the APCs came in.
Soon enough we were skirting the city limits, when I see a bright flash, I look back to see a lance of light come from the sky, parting the clouds and decimating something, from this distance It looked like a tiny blue string, but up close it might have been just a few meters in size.
101 also notices it “Looks like he gave them a good chase, they brought out the Orion cannon from the space station.”
I settle back into the seat, still haven't put on a seat belt “They have that on a space station?' He snorts “Yep, luckily it's U.N. Controlled, so no one side is going to have a hold on that station. As is they must have argued for hours about using it.” Torrent twirls around in the free-standing seat, so that he faced us while the automated system drove. “I'm still surprised that someone hasn't tried to take control of it, if one side could get a complete hold on it, chances are that the war would end in a matter of days.” I stare at the roof “End a war, it it might, but with all the ideology over what is better, another one just might start up, or there might be rebellions, that sort of thing... anyway where are we headed? I'm getting curious to where we're going.”
“Mexico, we can get a flight out of there. I hear it's nice in London this time of year.” I think for a second “Isn't the U.K Advantist territory?” 101 nods “Yes they are, hailed as a technological paradise by most other Advantist countries.” I lean back and close my eyes, starting to feel tired, this day was a bit much. The others start to talk quietly and the last words before I pass out are...
Nova: “I half expected that 'Reaper' person to make an appearance.”
101 chuckling “He will, T-SAF is stubborn and won't let us go so easily, we'll run into him sooner or later.” And then I fall into a dreamless sleep.