Original Content Bought and Sold. Chapter 37, Arc 3

MyNameMeansBentNose

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Ohhhhhhh... that jumpy boi!


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Previous | Beginning | Technology | Wiki | Next
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Chapter 37
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“We’re scrambling,” Bob said suddenly, his voice projecting loudly into Chase’s mind.

“Errrghhhhh,” Chase complained. He’d been just on the edge of falling asleep. “I’m still up!” he responded to the AI Drone. “I’ll be as quick as I can,” Chase said, lurching out of bed. The blanket around his legs made an argument for him to stay put and Chase had to catch himself as he fell forward. He stumbled over to the closet as he disentangled himself and pulled open the door to start grabbing his clothes.

“Good, meet in the hangar, the briefing will happen en route.”

“I understand,” Chase replied as he popped his head into the mini-fridge they’d allowed him, his left hand pulling his pants the rest of the way up. Of all the things that had happened since being caught, being given almost coffee was about the only redeeming event. It was canned and cold, but it was still pretty much, almost, coffee and it was surprisingly decent…

The hard part was getting them to make a variant with an amount of caffeine that would actually work on Chase.

He grabbed a can, threw on his harness and gear as quick as he could and hoofed it to the hangar. The flat rectangular body of Bob was floating next to a small hovervan. They would be flying through the city proper then, not actually through the transport tubes.

Chase jumped into the vehicle to see a Ytheon and a quartet of Veprutasians waiting. The Ytheon wore a pair of heavy gauntlets along with his bulky harness. The birds all wore some wide goggles almost steampunk in design, although the goggles were all currently pulled up to not obscure normal vision. They weren’t wind goggles, they were for special sensors. A small ‘k-thunk’ announced Bob attaching himself to the roof of the vehicle. The driver, one of the Veprutasians, put his hands on the controls as soon as they were all settled.

The vehicle exited the door to the city restricted airspace. It was when they were on the move that Bob started explaining.

“We have received a report of an attack on a relatively close distribution warehouse near the edge of the district. That report suggests the attackers are the same individuals responsible for the recent sapient auction attack.”

“Suggests?” Chase asked. A loud ‘chk-kshhhh’ followed his question as he opened the can of almost-coffee.

The Ytheon who’d been resting his chin on his chest and had therefore only shown Chase the flat bone plate on his forehead, raised his head to give the Human a curious look. Chase found himself staring into large brown eyes with a hard to see flat pupil. Chase raised the can and smiled before taking a drink.

“The image feed is much clearer in this case than in the previous event, but enough common factors are in play to make this prediction with certainty,” The drone explained. Then he moved to a different topic. “Be aware that lethal force is authorized for these combatants. Obtained data shows the use of restricted kinetic weapons. As your deviation fields cannot be depended on to defend you against harm, immediate use of full power is advised.”

“You’re sure they’ll use their, uhhh, kinetic weapons?” Chase asked.

“They will be under fire by superior firepower, they must respond,” Bob predicted. “Also, I will explain further when everyone is prepared.” As the AI spoke, the Ytheon started tapping on a small info panel on the back of one of his blast gauntlets. The Veprutasians were suddenly swapping out modules on their pulse rifles so the weapons could generate a heavier gauge projectile as well. “Officer Refk, please supply Chase with an appropriate side-arm.”

The Ytheon reached over to a box mounted on the side of the van and opened it up to reveal a pistol. He took the pulse pistol out and handed it to Chase. He looked at the pistol being held out by the Ytheon, Refk. “This will slow me down,” Chase complained as he took the weapon. Unspoken was his feeling, and it could be wrong, but he had a feeling they wouldn’t shoot at him. “Is it just Humans?” he asked.

“I suspect you can afford to move as well regardless of carrying a pistol, and no, we noted the presence of a rare Green Kraltnin, a dangerous individual with the potential to be as much trouble as Red Tail.

“A Green Kraltnin? What like, on Hatherkey’s side?”

“No, with the Humans. Coloured Kraltnin such as this are quite rare however. They are mutants among their race but always impressive in capability, this Kraltnin is likely the leader of the group.”

“Hmmm,” Chase mumbled while taking a drink from his can of coffee as he strapped on the weapon. At least the pistol came in a pouch, a holster that easily attached to Chase’s harness. He knew Red Tail was a Kraltnin, but he wasn’t aware they were that unusual.

“All members join the shared space,” Bob ordered. “The Humans themselves let the alarms of the warehouse activate, but the action seems to be in support of a goal. That warehouse has been marked as a point at which the criminal Hatherkey sees to the movement of goods.”

“Marked just now?” Chase asked as he accessed the shared space.

“Of course,” the AI replied seamlessly.

Chase did as he was ordered and found his vision overlapping with the Ytheon and the birds in the van as well. “Too much Bob,” Chase complained. The conflicting signal settled down as Bob continued to tune his settings. This always took a couple of minutes before the share was happening in a way that didn’t give Chase a headache. It didn’t help that the Ytheon’s vision was wider and the dynamic vision of the Veprutasian was so much more precise.

An image flashed into coherence, trails of data converging to show a warehouse floor and the aftermath of a fight. A group of Veprutasians lay on the floor while two Kraltnin workers opened up the last of a bunch of crates laid out waiting to be moved. Most of the crates were about the same size, with the exception of a large crate in the middle. Chase couldn’t quite make it out, but something about the rectangular object in the crate pulled at his attention. It was familiar somehow.

“This is?” Chase asked.

“An intercepted signal,” Bob explained. “We believe this to have been transmitted for the sake of inciting Hatherkey to action.”

One of the Veps in the image jumped from the ground to try and attack a larger Human who was rifling through one of the crates. A lanky white man at the back gunned the offender down with ease.

The big Kraltnin and the Human returned to checking the boxes for loot. Then they froze in place and looked at each other. At that point, the image halted, then flickered out of sight.

“This was recorded shortly before the scramble,” Bob explained the pause. “What you have seen here only revealed itself after the signal codec was translated.”

Chase frowned for a moment, the loss of the image had broken his train of thought. “What do we know now?” the bassy voice of the Ytheon asked.

“Judging by public noise complaints and surveillance, the group has fended off several attacks and is currently on the move through the district proper on their way to a known entry to the Gaps. We are the first response for the pursuit,” Bob responded. “A secondary response is being gathered to inspect the warehouse for damage and evidence.”

“So we’re following them,” Chase confirmed.

“That is correct.”

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Otto
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They had to stop in the shadow of a run-down shop, the overhang providing cover from the repeated sniper shots. Nothing was left of the old business but a counter and a busted monitor. It felt like it was missing some graffiti, but that wasn’t a thing that Otto had seen in The Peaks thus far.

Tank was crouching with a hand against a wall, getting a quick rest and gathering his strength. Mike and Daniel were showing their fatigue and Otto was feeling it as well. Tank was limiting the pace, however. Not that Otto was terribly upset, the Kraltnin carried his weight in other ways.

The fight against Hatherkey’s reinforcements had gone well enough. A couple small hovers full of thugs had arrived in an attempt to smoke them out. Using the drones as interference, the thugs were dealt with in relatively short order, meeting the requirement of drawing manpower away from other engagements and lowering Hatherkey’s manpower overall. Hopefully the alert they sent out after reinforcements arrived would get enforcement taking a deep look at the stuff Otto had left out. None of that stuff had matched any of the manifests he’d taken from the office with the two Kashto, to no surprise.

They had found the power cell for that large drone in the crate, but it wasn’t so much a cell as it was a proprietary, and empty, cartridge. That piece of machinery had requirements that they weren’t able to fulfill with the equipment on hand.

If there was any miscalculation, it was that the hovers those reinforcements arrived in had left the moment they’d dropped off their cargo. And as for the mystery transport that had supposedly been on its way to pick up the stuff they were rifling through, it never showed up. That left them escaping on foot.

A pulse round hit Daniel’s d-field with frightening force, arcing his field and throwing sparks. Daniel danced further into the building. The young man pulled at the harness, trying to keep the heatsink away from his chest. “Damn that’s hot, it’s right on the edge.”

“Hmm,” Otto grunted in return as he attempted to triangulate where the shots were coming from. At this point, he was convinced the snipers were using light-bending and everyone was on board with the assumption. He’d been able to spot one of the birds moving, a tell-tale ripple of heat haze giving the shooter away. At least, it looked like heat-haze, although the cause was likely just the poor refraction of light, not actually high temperature. Whatever the case, it was trouble. “They are keeping their distance and staying on the move,” Otto noted.

“As expected, how is the counter-attack working?” Mike asked.

“One of them is having a seizure,” Otto explained emotionlessly, “forgot to mention it in the last sprint. There are four other signals that I’ve recognized, but it’s hard to narrow down exactly where the birds are.”

Tank stood up, “Regardless, we cannot stay put, I am ready for the next sprint.”

Mike patted the d-field module on his chest. “I’ll go first, I’ve got the decent leeway this time around,” Mike turned his head to look at Otto. “You go last, You can take the hits, right?”

“Of course,” Otto replied, Tank and Daniel giving their own quick acknowledgments. Mike took a deep breath, then dashed out from the cover of the building. Two shots hit his field, throwing arcs and sparks. Otto swore in his mind, his rough breathing making him reluctant to spend the breath to do so out loud. The energy projectiles were difficult to read, not that he knew if he’d have much better luck with bullets.

But a small burst of data let him narrow down on another of the birds. As they ran he began running his infiltration. It was starting to strike him as odd, how easily some of his offensive programs would work on the birds. He was starting to narrow it down, what worked really well versus what didn’t.

A couple constructs made entirely from Stoyaf’s library were great for stealth, but otherwise the library was rather lacking for straight offense and defense. They were specialized for infiltration and avoidance, based on the effects that took time.

The Manifestation of Fate and Spire’s teachings both yielded oddly complex and dense data constructs with what Otto had come to think of as a unique ‘flavour’. That wasn’t quite the right word, but he was still grappling with mental things having their own type of texture.

White Clouds on Blue sky had provided components that were easy to take apart and slot back together, capable of being strung out into huge contraptions if Otto had the capacity. The Achun’s library was the most flexible. It also provided very flexible code packages that he absolutely had to use if he wanted Stoyaf’s and Spire’s unique libraries to function together. The two sets would not mesh together on their own.

As Otto sprinted, huffing as he maintained a steady run, his infiltration program confirmed the initial infection. The corruption of the worm, using the stealth of the Helix, both only working together because of Clouds web. It would be a minute or two before that bird found his implants overclocking themselves and making a terrible mess of the sniper.

Another shot slammed into Tank’s d-field. A second, third and fourth hit Otto’s. Finally, his first d-field module popped, the field flashing and arcing spectacularly. Then the original one activated. His spare was the last to give up, Mike and Daniel’s second fields had already been busted down.

The four of them ran down the now empty street, Tank’s gait unsteady.

Then something worrisome happened.

“Uhh… their signals dropped,” Otto noted, happy to be able to speak over the shared space without sacrificing breath for running. He was pretty sure that luxury was about to disappear.

“They give up?” Mike sent back.

“No, too sudden, I think they were taken out.”

Daniel summed it up “Well shit.”

Then their harnesses popped. Matchka had rearranged some wiring and modules, so this time the harnesses weren’t disabled when the fuses blew. Still, everyone stumbled a few steps when the shared space suddenly blipped out of existence, not to mention the very powerful, and very familiar torrent of information that had tried to overwhelm them. The modification of modules meant they’d experienced a bit more damage and feedback when the wireless connection self destructed.

Or at least, ‘a bit more’ is how Otto had described it. Daniel was pissed to realize Otto had understated things. He felt only slightly better as the big man stumbled to a knee, crying out in pain and momentarily clutching his head. Daniel too lost his footing and dropped to both knees, dragging Tank down with him. The group had to stop for a moment to pull themselves together.

“Fuck that shit hurt!” Daniel swore.

Tank just groaned and continued gasping for air.

“Well, the cops found us,” Mike complained out loud rhetorically. There would be no more silent communication.

“Almost there!” Daniel grunted out, pulling Tank to his feet. It wasn’t that far to the Gaps where it would be easier to lose city enforcement.

Heavy Pulse rounds hit the ground and several struck Tank’s field. Glancing shots hit the fields of the Humans, but it was clear who the target was. Mike grabbed Tank’s hand and yanked the Kraltnin sideways out of the way of the maintained volley.

Everyone looked up to see a van sized hover glide overhead. Two weapon barrels mounted on the bottom of the hover let them know just what had smacked into their fields.

Mike and Daniel raised their plasma weapons and squeezed off some shots, but the Hover was coming around and the d-field didn’t seem to be bothered.

Otto glanced around, looking at his recorded area map as he did so. The area they were in was rather constricted, they were getting close to the district wall after all. The lower dividing walls of all the districts had devolved into their own slums. The further you went down, the worse it got. They were about mid-level, but that was more than enough for the area to start looking pretty bad.

This meant there were only a couple avenues by which this hover could chase them. If there had been a path down, he would have taken that way first.

“This way!” Otto yelled out, pointing off into a side street a ways ahead of them. If his map was right this would take them to the Gaps entrance with little interference. “Stay close!” He warned next as the hover completed its turn to head back their way. Staying close together, the group of them ran for the side street, Otto pushed forward and extended the d-plate shield his limb was carrying outside the field. His module was cooking and likely so were the rest of the modules the other guys were wearing. He could afford to lose the shield.

Pulse rounds inflicted burns and slightly unfocused blunt trauma. A compromise between kinetic and plasma weapons. Kinetic weapons like the brothers were holding that could easily pierce through objects and scenery to inflict unexpected damage. Plasma weapons were worse for collateral damage yet, able to burn through and melt most common materials. Pulse did the least amount of damage to the scenery.

They also did the least amount of damage to the charged d-plate which was good against kinetic damage and weak against sustained heat. The repeated impacts on the shield still drove it back into the range of the combined d-field around the group and even caused Otto to stumble as the physical impact carried through to him. Mike was helping support the ailing Tank, Daniel caught Otto and helped drag the bigger man forwards.

And then they were into the side street.

Otto pushed his ways forwards again. He slowed from a run to a trot, but they couldn’t afford to stop yet.

Tank was gasping hard. “I- I can’t-”

Mike put his shoulder under Tank’s left arm, Daniel put himself under Tank’s right arm.

“We gotcha,” Daniel reassured the green.

“How, huff, how do, huff, you still, huff, have breath?” The Green complained.

“It’s what we’re made for,” Otto explained simply before turning a corner to see a set of stairs. “Down this way.”

That’s not to say he wasn’t short on breath too. Otto, Mike and Daniel were also breathing hard as they went. He scanned ahead in his map as they climbed down the stairs. Tank stumbled a couple times, the stairs were narrow and fouled his natural gait. But the brothers weren’t letting the Kraltnin fall so easily.

“You know where you’re going?” Mike asked as they reached the bottom landing of the stairwell.

Otto stopped at a doorway into one of the pillar supported complexes that went straight from the base level to the upper ceiling. There was no cable connection, so he pulled a small round disk from a little pouch on his belt and plugged a cable from his collar into that. He held the ultra short range antenna up to the door panel and made his way into the door software. An amateur booby trap attempted to spring on him in the dataspace. It wasn’t bad for what it was, an information overload spike hidden within a identification query. It smashed itself uselessly against his own auto defenses.

This sort of door was precisely the situation he’d picked the antenna up for, although he’d actually picked it up for the auction house attack. It wasn’t long until Otto was through the cheap security. Tank and the brothers didn’t hesitate to step through, halting to rest as soon as the door was behind them.

“I’m not sure about the way through this building,” Otto admitted as he followed after, “but on the other side of this building is a connecting corridor that winds its way directly to our exit.” Otto shut the door behind him and dropped a multiplying virus in the system before unplugging the little antennae.

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Chase
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Chase ran while the drone and three of the Veprutasians flew behind. The remaining pilot and the Ytheon would attempt to cut them off if Bob could determine what route the Kraltnin and the Humans were taking.

It was obvious that they were heading for the Gaps, but The Peaks was a really big place, Chase didn’t know this little area well enough to guess exactly where the exit was. But he did know the general designs the city used. He ran across one balcony, jumped from the corner ledge to run against one wall and leapt off that to sail across open air to land on the next building over.

He was running again. It had been a few days since they’d let Chase go for a real run. He revelled in the feeling of his blood pumping.

“I have detected a momentary signal,” Bob sent to Chase, “it is too faint to get a full read, but I can narrow their location with this.”

Chase lost a half step as Bob forced a map overlay onto his vision. He had to force himself to be calm at the interference, it was only luck that Chase wasn’t in the air when Bob did that. Shared space was a tool the AI used without consideration or hesitation, Chase just wished the drone was better at using it.

Still, if the reading was right, then he had to correct his course. He would have to follow them to another pillar set and resume the pursuit from there.

His road was coming to an end, some contractor had illegally built out the current building into space normally supposed to be left open, a common occurrence near the district walls. Chase reached the end of the open ledge and stopped running. Facing the building he dropped down and caught the edge to swing him onto the ledge of the next floor down. He repeated the drop twice more to find an open ledge functioning as a corridor through the surrounding construction. A path left open in case someone needed to get into a utility room Chase could see just ahead.

He ran through the tunnel, piling on speed as he went. The area directly closed in around him as the passage narrowed where it went through another structure. As he reached the end of that way through, it transformed again, this time into the roof of an adjoined building. Chase found himself running between the vents and the machinery that maintained the building below him, and he could see the end of the roof coming up.

He saw it just ahead, the highlighted building Bob had detected the faint signal come up quick.

Chase hit his full speed before he hit the end of the roof. Planting his foot on the edge, Chase launched himself through empty air. He landed on yet another ledge, but his direction carried him straight at the building. He barely avoiding smacking his face as he landed and fetched up against the wall, his momentum not letting him come to a stop on his own power.

Collecting himself, Chase stepped back and stuck his head over the ledge to look down on where Bob’s predicted location had highlighted as their likely route. From above, a dead end. A quick manipulation of the drone’s shared map of the area showed a door that he couldn’t see from his point of view. They must have gone in a couple minutes ago however. Chase stepped back and began circling the building, at one point having to slow down and swing around a thin barrier wall preventing him from just following the wide ledge.

He came to a stop as he saw movement a few floors below him. There they were, a big guy in the front and two other Humans carrying an obviously tired green Kraltnin. Even weighed down, the group was moving at a decent pace. Those people were in good shape to be able to move that quick even with the Kraltnin slowing them down. The guy in the lead had a weird, tall six sided shield on his back. The others all had harness limbs with guns folded up on their backs. The two Humans carrying the Kraltnin were also carrying rifles in their off hands. They were also wearing cloaks, but the clothing was pinned underneath the harness limbs, the group wanting easy access to their gear.

He frowned slightly as he realized they were on a lower level than the entrance on the other side had been.

Chase had to take a moment to look around and plan his route. The area opened up from here at the current level, the adjoining buildings on this side dropping away for the immediate area. From the current level it was a bit far to jump, he was going to have to drop down. Turned around to face the building, He stepped backwards and caught the edge as he dropped to swing back into the ledge of the next level down. He repeated the process once more and then took off sideways at a jog. He jumped from the pillar building to one of those adjoining structures, a blocky building that extended for as short ways before a second building almost wreathed in steam.

He traversed the first building quickly, building up speed to jump upwards, needing momentum to reach height and get his hands on the edge of the next building. He pulled himself up and waved at the fog as he moved at partial speed to avoid obstacles. Dodging a couple machines clearly acting as utilities for the building below Chase cleared the steam and was surprised to see a scuttling, oddly built little machine. He couldn’t spare a thought for the vermin robot, the mote, and put the thing out of his mind as he ran.

He dropped to the next building, crowded to the edge by massive pipes and scaffolds connecting to another structure high above. Chase had to dodge around bars of scaffolding as he went, slowing him down to roughly the same pace as the people he was chasing. But he had caught up with them, the group of four moving along the alleyway below. He arrived at the end of one building and chose to drop, he jumped from the ledge, feeling his stomach rise before hitting a grated walkway below. Chase hit the deck and transitioned to a roll to avoid hurting his legs and keep his momentum.

The walkway shook slightly, Chase’s impact making more noise than he expected as it shuddered. He barely resisted the urge to swear, the last thing he wanted to do was give himself away now. But he didn’t have a great deal of choice. He modulated his pace to soften his footfalls even a bit, but the walkway still shuddered with each footfall.

The group followed the alley as it turned right at the end of the building. The walkway also ended at a doorway on the corner, Chase was going to have to leave his path. A glance up didn’t show any ledges or outcrops he could use to pull himself up, and he didn’t want to go that way. The corner he was coming up on ended at a solid wall, a connected building extending high into the air. The grated walkway obscured a way forward through.

Chase psyched himself up as he reached the end. He jumped over the side of the walkway with a hand on the railing of the walkway. He let go almost immediately, but his hand on the rail corrected his path letting him head forwards rather than sideways. The building that blocked the end didn’t extend all the way down. His momentum carried him forward as he dropped and he felt a surge of excitement as the ledge across from him came up.

Then a flicker of worry when he realized the landing was going to hurt.

Chase hit the edge before him, his arms on the ledge and his legs hanging free. Hands and feet scrabbling on concrete pushed him upwards onto the path. He flopped up onto level ground and spent a moment on his back breathing hard and collecting himself. But there wasn’t time to wait. “Hurk,” Chase grunted as he threw his arms forward to jump to his feet. They weren’t that far ahead anymore, he scanned the limited landscape before him as he decided how to follow from here.

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Daniel
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Otto and Tank didn’t react, but he and Mike looked at each other when they heard the pounding of feet above them. Then Otto took the group around the corner.

This enclosed corridor stretched for some distance, but they could see where it opened up ahead. Daniel glanced upwards, the area above was dark enough, but widely spaced struts serving as light mounts made it even harder to see.

If someone was chasing them, they wouldn't see it.

“The way ahead opens up!” Otto warned, his voice harsh with the exertion of running. “Perfect ambush spot!” He continued, the shield of his harness limb swiveling out front to guard the way.

The exit of the alley opened up to a street, from there they would turn right and find a three-way intersection butted right up against the district wall. “If you see the hover,” Otto yelled, “shoot the cannons with your guns!”

Daniel and Mike shared another look. Daniel commanded his harness gun to unfold itself and felt it rest itself against his right shoulder, just under Tank’s arm across Daniel’s shoulders. Opposite him, Mike’s kinetic weapon mirrored Daniel’s.

They reached the end and Tank pulled his arms from the shoulders of the brothers. “I will handle myself here,” Tank spoke, his voice rasping and chest pumping. They hit the open and came around the corner.

And there it was.

The hover waited at the intersection, pointed their way. “Watch our backs!” Daniel said to Tank as he and Mike stepped up next to Otto.

Otto’s shield extended forward and everyone stayed close to share their shields.

Heavy pulse rounds from the underslung cannons on the hover pelted out, striking the shared field, although half the projectiles were caught by Otto’s shield.

Tank’s d-field module popped the first time a pulse round hit the field. It had cooled down, but it must have already been too far gone.

Daniel had gone to a knee just to the side of the group, squeezing off kinetic and plasma rounds at the hover cannon on the right.

Mike had done the same, taking aim at the left cannon, but something caught his attention. “Tank turn around and watch our backs!” Mike warned. Being the closest to the alley let him hear then being snuck up on, but he couldn’t afford to shift his attention there.

Once upon a time, Daniel and Mike might have easily missed their targets. Here and now their aim and their shots were right on target. The addition of the aim support module Otto had helped them install lead to the immediate dual explosions of the pulse cannons.

Tank smashed into Daniel as he stumbled sideways, arms and tail tangled up with a Human who’d attempted to jump them.

“It’s the drone we saw in the warehouse!” Otto shouted suddenly. He ducked his head as shots started coming in from overhead.

Daniel’s eyes had been in the two wrestling next to him on the ground. Tank had his hands around the wrists of the man who’d tried to ambush, two blunt rods in his hands, sparking with power. The man heard Otto’s comment and looked up, “What?” the guy, Chase, blurted out. His expression was like he’d just been hit by a bolt from the blue.

Daniel glanced over and saw the drone hanging above the hovervan, and it did look exactly like the one in the big crate they’d opened up in the warehouse. He was distracted as more shots coming in forced him to look up and see one of the crowmen floating above them. His arms occupied with flapping, the Vep was forced to hold his rifle in his feet as he fired on the group.

That gave Tank the opening he needed to put a foot under Chase and toss the man away. Chase tucked his head and hit his back, but he controlled his landing and quickly came back to his feet with a backwards roll. Daniel was almost too distracted by the feat of agility to react to the next thing to happen.

The limb on Tank’s back with the plasma rifle extended and took aim. Daniel smacked it down. “Don’t shoot him! Don’t shoot any of ‘em!”

Tank looked at Daniel and nodded as his gun folded back up.

“Shit!” Mike swore and flinched as his own d-field module popped. The cannons weren’t shooting at them anymore, but the heavy weapons had still put their modules on the edge.

“You can shoot the drone!” Otto yelled. “We gotta move forward, just past the hover!”

Mike and Daniel dragged Tank to his feet and the bunch of them moved forward. And with the weapons on the hover vehicle disabled all of them shot at the drone. With everything.

For the most part, it didn’t matter, the hover had its own deviation field in which the hover was floating and that absorbed most of the plasma fire they were sending its way. But the drone,still juddered and shook as bullets pounded into its frame. The drone wobbled and fell backwards behind the hover.

As they approached a big Ytheon climbed out the door of the hover, attempting to interrupt them.

“Daniel! Tackle!” Mike yelled. The brothers pulled ahead, Daniel’s field absorbing the couple pulse rounds still coming their way, Otto’s field protected him and Tank.

The brown furred Ytheon in his dark blue pants and shirt raised his gauntleted arms. He didn’t account for the brothers lunging forwards, putting their shoulders directly into his gut.

“Oof!” the big creature grunted as the two of them smashed into his stomach, carrying him a short distance to the wall of a building and driving the air out of his lungs when the smashed him into the obstacle. The pair of them left the Ytheon there and ran sideways to where Otto was working on a doorway.

“[Stand down!]” Tank shouted out suddenly. The message was unfocused and triggered the remnants of Daniel’s slave package. He glanced backwards to see the man, Chase, as he paused in mid step, batons upraised and face clouded with confusion.

“Through here!” Otto shouted. Mike was the first through the door and Daniel was next, but Daniel stopped and turned to look as Otto stepped through.

“[Come with us]!” Tank shouted at Chase. The Green was on the same page as Daniel.

The man’s face shifted from confusion to surprise and he started running for the doorway.

“Strider, disregard that order!” spoke a mechanical voice and Chase faltered. Daniel looked sideways to see the drone rising up from where it had fallen. Daniel’s rifle swivelled around and he took more shots at the drone.

“Guys, we can’t wait!” Otto shouted in clear worry, “there’s more here!”

Tank grabbed Daniel’s arm and dragged him forcibly through the door. Behind them projectile rounds from the incoming reinforcements threw up shards of concrete as a pair of transports fired upon them from the air. The door slid shut and the panel next to it sparked and flashed.

“Let’s go, we’re almost there!” Otto encouraged.

Looking back at the door with a hint of regret at a chance missed, Daniel was the last of the four to depart.

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End Chapter
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