My reflective mood was ruined when a video screen pops up in the helmet, It was Nova calling.
“What?” I ask, surprised he's calling me. His face in the link was free of gore, and it was close up view, a result of the helmet.
“What's your plan to get past the Advantists?” He seemed to have calmed down some since the carrier, but I could still hear the tension in his voice... something was off.
“Pull some quick words, then hop aboard any transport to the mainland.”
“That's a little vague you know.”
“True, but there's plenty of room for improvisation in that plan. Plus I've used it before, and it worked that time around, so why not now?”
“Because the Advantists have extensive and almost obsessive record keeping, maybe you don't know, but the advantists have the strongest border security of all three sides, they haven't lost a single city they started off with. I think that tells you something, that the other sides have never managed to breach or bypass their borders.”
I give him an annoyed look “The other option is to go in guns blazing, but that's even worse than the first idea.”
“Right about that, but option C is to outrace their defenses and crash-land.” I start to hear groaning, and say “hold on a sec.” Before taking off the helmet, and seeing the pilot starting to get up. I would have just chopped him in the back of the head and called it a day, but instead I get an idea.
I walk up to the guy, as he shakes his head, trying to get back together his faculties. He sees me and in a burst of speed I grab him by the neck and slam him against the wall, pulling out his side-arm with my free hand and tossing it back. The pilot had the buzz-cut of regular soldiers, and his blue eyes were wide in surprise at me.
“F...f... fuck.” He tries to move my hand and fails, his strength no match for my own.
“That's all you have to say? A curse?”
“You won't get anything from me you son of a bitch mod.”
“Really? I think different. But let's put it this way... you have a family, kids maybe?” I don't wait for him to answer, but pull the dog-tags off his neck, the were solid black with a small screen, He tries to snatch it but I jerk it away and slam him against the wall to keep him contained.
“Let's see...” I press both ends of the dog-tag with my thumb and index finger and get a few blue lines showing info...
“Captain George 'Wraith' Matthews... yada yada... here we are, immediate family, three.”
He stops struggling with his hands, and I think he might utter a threat, but instead he braces his foot against my chest, pushes, and I stumble back as my hold is broken easily... he shouldn't have been able to do that.
He drops into a combat stance, turned slightly left, right hand held close to the gut and the other at the chest. He looks at me with something near absolute hate “You'll never get a chance to meet them.” He takes a step forward, and fakes a punch, and turns into a reverse roundhouse, the booted foot is just a blur as it comes around and connects with my face.
The room goes round and round, until I find the ground again, painfully.
“Ragh!” I draw in a sharp intake of breath and hop up... he was to strong to have done that without-
He drives the same right leg into my gut, before making a second kick towards my throat, aiming to crush my Adam's apple, I fall backward so that it misses, I hit the ground and kick his other leg out from under him, and he crashes to the ground also with a yell of pain. When his right leg hit's the ground, it makes a loud metallic clang, signaling he had what I guessed when he first used it's power, a prosthetic leg.
I reach out and grab the pistol he had picked up from off the floor, keeping it just above my face. One painful twist of his arm later the gun falls to the ground and I pick it up, aiming straight for his face. He closes his eyes, probably expecting a flash of light and a bullet tearing through his skull. Sorry to disappoint him, I roll away and get up, aiming the gun at his prosthetic leg.
“I hope I don't. Are you going to listen to me or are you going to let hate override your logic?”
He get's up slowly, breathing heavy. He says nothing so I take the initiative to speak “I don't want any more violence, don't want to pave the road of wherever I go with blood. All I ask is that you help me once, and you will never see me again.”
His eyes still held hate, but not as much, like he was confused about what I said. “What could you possibly need help with?” He asks cautiously.
“Help getting past the military and into Britain.”
He takes shock at first, like he wasn't expecting something like that, then the shock turns into anger. “You want to get past the borders so you can sabotage us don't you? You're a damn spy for the-”
“SHUT IT!” His jaw snaps shut from the sheer volume of my words. “I'm not some fucking spy, I don't even want to be in this war, which all seems pointless to me. I'm an experiment fleeing for my life from the moderates, a walking weapon to them that they want torn apart and buried, or worse. This isn't some propaganda bullshit you are probably spoon-fed with for all the years this war has been going on. I just want somewhere I can lay my head without worry, be at peace for once, or at least have a few days so I can figure out what I should do.”
He was stunned, all of the hate in his eyes had been replaced by surprise and uncertainty. He asks me “An experiment?”
I lower the pistol “Yeah, pushed to my limits, thrown into a pit full of EVOs, shocked to the point of insanity and hunted from Dallas to Mexico. Do you see now why I have no love for the moderates?”
His gaze flicks to the floor, as he thought about what I said. Finally after about a minute he looks up, something in his eyes I couldn't place. “I'll help you.”
To be honest I was surprised, but I didn't show it to him, but instead said “Thank you. I’m glad at least one person on this planet can see past prejudice.” I look at the gun in my hand, a blocky .45 auto, I pull out the clip for a second and see they are explosive-tipped rounds... a very powerful sidearm. I snap the clip back in and flip the gun in my hand, presenting it to him. “I think you'll want this back.”
He slowly takes the gun out of my hand, the barrel still aimed at my chest. “I could shoot you right now if I wanted to.” He says bluntly, and I nod my head “I know.” What he seemingly didn't know was the clip was full, meaning there wasn't a round chambered.
He holsters the gun “If you want to make it to the mainland, you're going to have to answer some questions. Do you know how we found the carrier you were on?”
“GPS beacon if what I heard from the guards was right.”
“Yes you're right, shame it wasn't you, that would have made things easier... what are you doing?” He asks as I pick up the helmet off the seat and put it on, the vid screen was still up, showing Nova's face.
“Found us a way in Nova.”
“Good, so you have an assured way in?”
“Us, not just me.” I frown, he was thinking of something.
“No, it'll just be you, i'm heading my own way from now on.”
“See ya SS.” The screen goes dark. I shift back through options and bring up the flight positioning system, Nova's stormchaser had veered off and was heading towards Spain, he had activated his afterburners also and was going three times as fast as I was... there was no way of catching up to him now... I watch as the locator on his ship goes dark. What was he thinking?
Pulling off the helmet, George catches my gaze “What?”
“Well, someone who had been a prisoner aboard that ship with me just pulled off course and is headed toward Spain.”
“Bad news for him, and more explaining for me to do. I need that helmet by the way, and that rifle across your shoulder.” I slide the rifle off and toss it to him. He drops then kicks the rifle into a obscure corner. He takes the helmet, putting it on.
About out a minute later he says “I thought you didn't know who used the GPS beacon?”
“No, I said it wasn't me who used it.”
“Then why is the beacon sounding off inside this cabin?” Confusion flashes across my face, then I flashback to the carrier, the strange EVO... Right as he reaches back to hand me aurora... that sly bastard.
I pop open the connector cover latch and see a little round disc stuck on the inside of the lid. I pluck it off.
“Because it was hidden onto a piece of my gear by the person who originally had it.” He walks up, looks at the little disk “That thing is outdated enough to belong in a museum.”
“Odd isn't it?” I flip the connector cover down and say “But it looks like I have an excuse to be with you now.”
“Indeed, but you had better make up a story of how you got your hands on that, it's too old to be gotten anywhere but antique store.”
I'll get on that. Meanwhile what are you going to be doing?”
Making sure we don't get blown up by the fleet's defenses, and a lot more than that.” He sat down in his chair again and I don't hear any other words from him. I take a seat close to the doors, looking at the disc, thinking, and wondering if I placed to much trust in George.
Ten minutes later I hear George call out to me “Hey, get up here.” I stand up to the protest of my muscles and walk calmly to the pilot's chair. “What is it?”
“We're in sight of the Fleet now.” A holo image flickers to life inside the cockpit, showing a detailed view of a massive congregation of ships, a massive dreadnaught sitting dead center in the fleet. The behemoth warship had Twenty main tri-cannons, two at the bow and two at the aft, the rest lining the sides, like almighty thorns. I shake my head and wince as hundreds of blueprints and years of information recall into my mind.
George grabs my shoulder, bringing me out of the recall “You forgot to mention that you had implant repression.”
“How do you know that I have that?” I ask.
“I've seen the symptoms in recruits often enough, that will become a serious problem if you don't fix it soon.” I look back out to the dreadnaught; a single cannon could level a block easily, there was surface to surface and surface to air missiles loaded on top of each cannon in square pods, the actual deck had it's own two runways and several VTOL pads lining those runways, these runways ran up and in between both bow tri-cannons, yet it gave clearance for even large bombers to land.
I look back to George “What ways are there to cure it?”
“Three foolproof ways that I know of. One is to figure out what all you know, then have the implanter go over all that you don't know, that method takes the longest. Another method is to go over everything, it's more dangerous because it can wipe memories or short out a brain. Last method is a copy, then wipe of your mind, then re-copy everything back onto the brain.”
“What?” The last part made a chill crawl up my spine.
“I'll tell you later if you can convince the admiral you're sympathetic to advantists. Right now i've got to focus on landing procedure.”
A Mark-V HCD drone blasts by us before swinging around in a sharp turn, it's glowing yellow eye scanning us. The drone was the most popular model of advantist combat models. It was basically a jet-copter with an on-board AI and armed with whatever deemed necessary, from rockets to bunker-busters. It flew close air support missions and escorted larger aircraft. After it's brief inspection the drone flies off to continue it's patrol. As we flew closer the dreadnaught grew in size, it easily twice the size of the super-carrier that I was held captive on.
The overall power of the fleet was shocking, half a dozen carriers with at least two being super-carriers, many a destroyer and battleship, and many other smaller ships dominated this area of the ocean. This fleet could hammer any target they wished, even combat the moderate fleets and hold it's own.
“My... god.” Was all I could say.
“Amazing isn't it?”
“And scary, the power of this fleet...”
“Could hammer America's inland with ease I know, in fact I wonder why they haven't already. Then again i'm not my superiors, they might have something planned.” I could see the end of the runway now, a Angel bomber sat on the runway, ready to go. Angel bombers were hypersonic and controlled completely by an AI, one could effectively carpet-bomb a nine mile strip with ease or drop extremely heavy bombs on a hard target. The craft was powered by eight thrusters, three on each wing and two hugging the body of the craft. The overall shape resembled the old F-117 that was used in America, but the craft was even more arrow shaped and larger, the wings more pushed backwards similar to the wings on old-era fighters. The bomber had a ace of spades spray-painted on the hull, inside the spade was a skull with a red eye glaring out of the left socket.
We slow down and switch into hover, slowly descending on the only VTOL pad left, on the far right of the line.
“Before we land, if it's alright... how did you lose your leg?” The question had been nagging my mind ever since I found out about it.
“An EVO bit it off, it's why I decided to be a pilot instead of a grunt.”
“Oh... well I can't blame you, nobody want's to be in a ground war against EVOs.”
“People don't always get what they want. When we touch down, keep quiet until addressed and don't act hostile in any way otherwise your going to be a grease stain, clear?”
I nod my head as the slight jolt of landing runs through the hull. The hatch opens up, Slowly as if it's drawing things out just for the fun of it. George brushes past me and stands near the entrance. The door opens enough to see the deck and the three soldiers that were waiting outside, all three were armed with weapons, two held tri-barrel auto rifles, The barrel would spin as each bullet fired, like a mini-gun, but without needing to warm up, not to mention they fired much bigger bullets. Those guns came standard equipped with an under barrel automatic shotgun for close quarters, if I tried to rush them I’d be in a dozen pieces before I got halfway to them. The third soldier, the one on the far left and standing a bit further back, had a weapon I'd never seen before. It was the size of a heavy machine gun, and was about as heavy. The guy holding it had cybernetic arms that he didn't bother to cover with a skin proxy. The rifle was at least four feet long, sleek and round at the barrel, and had no apparent clip.
I wince as recall hits again, but what I see isn't what I see in the soldier’s hands, but it tells me all I need to know anyway... they somehow had miniaturized versions of the Gauss cannons that were used in major city defenses as anti- low orbit. The cannon was similar to the rail-gun, only it didn't use the 'rail' design the Gauss cannon. Instead the coils were round, which made for the rifle's barrel design, the gun still used magnetism and a mobius generator to accelerate the projectile.
“Don't move.” The one with the cannon says to me, he then looks over to George “Has he been properly searched?”
“Searched better than any customs officer would be capable of. He's clean.”
“I'll decide on that, Raven, see to it.” The female soldier nods and walks up, though it was hard to tell with the armor. She turns her arm outwards so that her forearm was pointed towards me, and a device similar to aurora starts a golden scanning beam, it goes from head to toe, then back up. The results show in a holo which she goes over.
“Well?” The rifle soldier asks.
“Confirmed EVO, unknown genus and species. No weapons, organic weapons are a possibility. Subject has an advanced MCS on his forearm.” She rattles this off like a robot... for all I know she could be.
“Fine, he's good to go then.” Raven walks back to the others, and The solder gestures with his rifle “Follow us. Try anything and you will be dead in nanoseconds.”
“Everyone is always so hostile.” I mutter as I step off the ship and into the sunlight. George follows behind me as we head across the deck and onto an round elevator. We all stay silent as it goes down, we drop at least five floors before opening up onto operations center, as the sign displayed.
A circular hologram projector stood out on the center of the room, the rest taken up by terminals and a screen on the far wall. The projector had a hologram of the earth going, with certain tags at points, most likely the position of other units. We round a corner and end up in a bland office, dull white walls and floor like the rest of the deck, but there was better furnishings, a bookcase on the far wall, a desk and soft chairs. The desk was clear of everything and an old man held his arms crossed as he leaned on the table... he looks up at me when I enter.
“So you are the one who put up that GPS beacon on the U.S.S Monica?” His age showed when he looked up, entirely gray hair and a thin weathered face, his hair hadn't balded at all and was cut short, he had a rough beard going that might have looked good when he still had color in his hair, but now it added to the weathered look. His eyes were brown, but the left one had a red glow behind the pupil... must be a cybernetic replacement. The eye's held a gaze that I once saw in a mirror, a look that was tired, and cold...
“That I am.”
“May I ask your reasons why?” He clasps his hands together, still slouching over the desk... didn't seem very soldiery.
“I simply needed help.”
“Help? There are plenty different ways to get 'help' than to put a beacon out which everyone can see.”
“Being a captive doesn't give one many choices.”
“Correct, I know all too well what captives will do to escape.” He rubs his thumb absently, the moment he realizes he's doing it he stops. “So, may I ask why you were a captive aboard that boat?”
I focus on the leg of the table as I say “For existing, oh and for killing many T-SAF soldiers while escaping to Mexico.”
He stays silent, he waves his right hand and a screen appears on the table, he flicks through it briefly, until he highlights something with his finger. “Ah, heard about that on the net.. says here you're an EVO...” He entire posture suddenly changes, he straightens up, his aged face taking on a serious look. He held a lot stronger air of authority then. Maybe EVOs aren't very popular with him either.
“Says here you have an undefined genus and species, this rather annoys me. I can put the pieces together and say you are an experiment, and you escaped, causing much damage in the process. I don't like not knowing things, so why don't you tell me... no, how about you show me what exactly you are?”
The guards stiffen, but he waves his hand “It's fine.” Then to me “Don't get any ideas either.” I look at the man... he was dead serious he was like a coiled snake, ready to strike in a moment's notice. I sigh and slowly shift my head and arms draconic, earning a sharp intake of breath from one of the guards and George, the old man looks at me with a eyebrow raised “Interesting. Explains why America was in such a snit about you.” I shift my features human again, as the old man waves his hand toward a chair and says “Now that that is resolved, we can discuss other matters, have a seat.”
I sit in the chair rather nervously... wondering what the hell this guy might have going through his head at the moment. He dismisses the report screen with a flick of his wrist. “Now, if you surrendered and boarded a advantist transport, that means you want something from us. And if i didn't know any better, i'd say you want help getting into our territory.”
“Well, you are right.”
He smirks “I thought so. However, it isn't as simple as asking. While you might have given us the location of a Special forces base, which therefore allowed us to test a new EMP missile, you are still an EVO, and if you didn't know EVOs aren't exactly favorites in advantist eyes.”
“So you're not going to help because you're prejudiced against EVOs?”
He frowns “No, I never said I wouldn't help you, I just hinted it might not be the best idea to head into our territory.”
“I've decided for that matter myself.”
“Right. While we can help you, we want something extra.”
“Always a catch isn't there? Fine, what do you want?”
“When you were scanned, there was some interesting readouts from the device around your arm, while normally I would have you give it up for dissembling and study, I have a feeling that we could merely do with you letting us clone the memory off of the device for scientific purposes.”
“That's it? I'll admit I was expecting it to not be a simple as that.”
“Not everyone loves to complicate things you know. Just put it on the desk for a few seconds and you will have your visa into England.” I look at aurora, wondering if it was a good idea... but it was to late to change my mind now, if I denied the request, then they would most likely 'insist' that I do it. I peel aurora off of my arm, wincing as the neural bond broke. I place it on the desk and it get's highlighted and dissected digitally before my eyes, a progress bar pops up and in a few seconds reaches 100% as the holographic outline faded. I take it back and snap aurora on, neural bonds reengaging.
“Alright, one visa to England approved, however you have to obey customs laws and any laws that affect EVOs, which means you will not be able to walk around in your human form as long as you remain in-country, and you will be subject to any searches deemed necessary by law enforcement. Any other laws or custom regulations will be handled at the airport. Got it?”
“Yeah, I do.” He flicks up another holographic display “Do you have your ID with you?”
That's when I realize I lost the card back at the airport where I was captured... Shit. “Um, no, kinda lost that when I was captured.”
He pinches the bridge of his nose “More paperwork for me. You'll get an new one issued to you at the airport. The card won't be tagged either.”
He looks to the soldiers “Take him to the next shuttle in.” I stand up and follow the soldiers who glance back in my direction, worried now for some reason... most likely just because I was an EVO.
“Wraith, you stay here, it's debriefing time. I want to know why echo chaser broke course and stormed through France before hitting back to Britain and why...” The door shuts with a menacing hiss as we leave, and I couldn't help but think on what kind of mess have I gotten myself into this time.
The rifle soldier stays behind me the entire time, always a several feet behind, probably because he wanted clearance to use that gun if I suddenly decide I shouldn't be here. We head back the way we came and into the elevator.
I surprise a few soldiers when the elevator doors open, all because of the T-SAF armor I was wearing, and yet I was surprised when a metal panther growls at me from the group of soldiers. The thing was completely metal, one red eye glowing in the box-like head, when it growled the drill bit teeth in it's mouth whirred, adding a grinding sound.
“Looks like someone doesn't like cats.” One of the soldiers chuckle.
One of the other soldiers say “Neither would you if one of these were after you.” I edge out of the elevator, followed by the 'escort' The group of soldiers I surprised go into the elevator, while the panther-bot gives me what is supposedly a venomous robot glare before heading into the elevator... didn't think robots could act that way.
The Angel bomber had taken off, and several Starkiller jets lined the runways. They were by far the fastest earth-bound aircraft made so far, meant to run interception on anything. Like most Advantist aircraft it was piloted either remotely or by an onboard AI. The wings were pulled back, almost hugging the craft, when in low speed combat the wings would spread out, giving more maneuverability and full weapon usage. Otherwise it looked like a bullet with a tiny bit of edge showing where the tip of the wings were.
“Clear the runway, Starkiller take-off commencing in T-minus 10...9...”
We watch as the engine roar to life , the flame generated from the engines was pure white, showing how much heat the engines were generating. Each plane was held in place by the launching rails as the countdown progressed, until it hits one and the planes were gone in not even a third of a second, launched by the rails and afterburners. Wind whipped across our faces and someone even stumbled.
“Next launch in ten minutes.”
I get poked in the back, and I look back with a frown, it was the rifle soldier “Shuttle's at the end of the left row, wait five minutes for him to be there. Tell him where in England you want to go and you'll get there. He asks any questions, ignore them.” With those abrupt and hardly explanatory sentences he turns away and walks off... things get any more odd and I'll just dive into the ocean and swim somewhere else.
Crossing the runways, I look at the row... and just about drop my jaw when I see him. The EVO from the ship was sneaking in-between the row, dodging patrolling soldiers with ease. He sees me and smirks, before mouthing “Thanks for the ride in.” I look back to the stormchaser I came in on... he must have clamped his claws into the steel somewhere and rode all the way here.
I keep walking, he was headed towards the same area I was... he cracks a soldier in the back of the neck and he goes down. The soldier gets dragged out of sight and the EVO breaks into a run. Unbelievably fast, he leaps over obstacles and leaps onto one of the cannons, a good twenty foot leap. And that's when he get's noticed.
And that's when the gunfire started up. A dozen marksmen rifles open up, most missed as the EVO ran for the tip of the cannon's barrel. One bullet catches him in the back and he stumbles, he keeps going however. I turn around when I hear a rifle charge up, it was the soldier from before with his Gauss rifle. He crouches down on one knee and aims dead at the tip of the cannon. Electricity crackled around the barrel until it focused on the tip... he fires and a lance of pure energy blasts toward the EVO. In a split second the EVO dives off the side and down off into the water. The lance of energy hits the barrel and decimates it, leaving the tip of the barrel blown off, the edges red-hot, and smoking. That was one powerful damn Gauss cannon.
“Damn, missed it. Alert the Hydra!”
Hydra... Hydra... wasn't that the name of a submarine? I walk to the end of the VTOL pads, thinking on where I heard that before. The transport hadn't arrived yet so I make a split second decision to eject the torso armor, ridding me of the T-SAF insignia... wasn't a good idea keeping that on. The thin synthetic undershirt would do, even in this cold weather. I kick the fallen halves over next to a box of ammunition.
The transport still hadn't shown up yet, so I focus on the word hydra, it was familiar somehow...
I pull up a menu on aurora...
[Search query: HYDRA]
[Five results found...
[Hydra- Mythical creature. Multi-headed reptile that regrew heads according to greek mythology.
[Hydra- Military PMC in operation during WW3, now defunct.
[Hydra- Nickname of current Alterist General R. G. Crowley.
[Hydra- Unknown project in development by Advantists, considered top priority by decoded messages.
[Hydra- Career record, operation Hydra, 214 confirmed kills, 18 friendly deaths, capture of alterist [research facility in Antarctica, which was promptly destroyed against orders.]
Fourth selection was it... what were they up to? And if it was here than it might explain why a fleet this powerful hasn't moved against any target... because it was already protecting one.
I look up to see a transport snap into hover, a silver paint covered the ship, it was like most warbirds however with a sleeker design and without the standard weaponry. I thought I would be the only one boarding the ship... until half a dozen people in civilian clothes come out across the runway and head this way.
The hatch on the warbird opens up before it even gets to the ground. The pilot held onto a bar fixed in the ceiling as he looks out at the incoming six, it would take them only a few seconds for them to be here. The pilot's helmet visor retracts upwards so I can see his eyes.
“Where are you headed?”
“London, doesn't really matter which part.”
He shrugs “Very well then, get on-board. I'll drop you off at new Heathrow.” I step on and take the nearest seat, right by the hatch. The other people get on, I could see each of them had a prosthetic or enhanced limb. Mostly a leg or arm, though one had his entire chest replaced, he didn't have a skin proxy to cover it either, nor did he even bother with a shirt.
They all tell their destinations, mostly areas in England, though two were headed for New Wales. They get up in front with the pilot while waiting for him to take off. They were animatedly talking about the EVO in the meantime.
“Heard it was the first thing Jho missed since joining.”
“If that's the case it had to have been wicked fast.”
The pilot asks the passengers “Is that it? I've got a schedule to keep you know.” The youngest girl shakes her head “No, we've got one... there he is.”
And that's when the mechanical panther bounds onto the ship. It flicks it's gaze to me before heading to the girl.
She says “Now we can go.” While smiling at the panther. The hatch closes and we lift into the air.
She says to the bot “Try to keep up next time okay?” The panther nods it's head in agreement. The details were easy to pick out, thin whip-like tail, mostly armored in black steel but with a few small tubes at the back of the limbs. I could hear the mobius generator running, originating in the chest like a heart.
I lean back against the seat as their conversation continued... this was going to be a long flight.