As the story continues, the end is near. But will the fight for life be enough to win?
The Kaiser and His Men
The cloth comes off and I find myself in the comfort of a warm room, with my arms bound in ties. A desk made of wood very old but still sturdy, the only thing in the room. They sit me next to Tassa in front of the table and make us wait- the superior we saw before walks into the room and takes a seat in front of us.
“I usually only speak English; well, quite frankly never;” says the older man as he reaches for a pair of glasses in his pocket. “I’ve had time to practice new languages, I even have the accent almost perfect wouldn’t you say.” He slips the spectacles on and focuses on my Tassa and then me.
“There we go; now, before I get ahead of myself. I want to ask- why am I speaking the language of an Englishmen in my base…”
Both Tassa and I remain silent and look directly at the man. The man rubs his hand across his face and then talks to the men and points to his head; the men immediately run up to us and remove our helmets with force, almost angered with their orders.
I look back and see a man with his nose wrapped in bandages- the man I struck, no wonder he was angered. Tassa on the other hand doesn’t flinch; he keeps his eyes dead center on the elderly man.
The old man completely ignored Tassa and gazes at me admiring the difference in metal and skin, my face although identical was half metal- and it astonished him; that much I could tell.
“Now you might be wondering why I didn’t just kill you like the rats you are; and it is because I am a curious man.” He says; crossing his arms with an uplifting look and ponders.
He smiles at our insubordinate silence and continues.
“This base has remained secret since before the war, the World War that is- and it is to all my knowledge that nobody has been able to find it.” He pulls out his weapon and places it on the table, not in a threat but in discomfort.
“But you did; how is that, if not one drone, jet, or scan has ever been anywhere near this base.”
He stands up and strolls slowly around the room, his feet making a light stomp on the wooded flooring.
“How did you find us?”
“Luck;” says Tassa, a fast response stops the man in his tracks and he looks at Tassa.
“Ok, maybe you believe that you think you are fooling me- but this one;” he points at me and continues. “He knows something; no other person in here has metal rigging their body.” “He- makes me not believe your explanation of ‘luck.’”
“About a day ago, we had a fighter pilot out on a scramble; he spotted a group of men and went on hot pursuit- he somehow died.” “That isn’t luck, the same men that he went on pursuit against killed him; a near thousand feet in difference.”
He continues to walk around and removes his glasses as he goes on explaining.
“We were able to corner the men in one of our decoy cities, thirty men- not my best men albeit, but they still couldn’t bring the men down.”
“Wait, we did- how many did we get?” he asks the men standing behind us.
“One, wow what an accomplishment.” He replies sarcastically.
“Can you tell me, do you know these men?”
Tassa looks down at the table and says nothing- I keep looking at the man as he approaches the table again and picks the handgun up off the table.
“Fine, you don’t like my stories and you don’t want to answer any questions- we can do this the old fashioned Nazi way…”
He walks behind Tassa and aims the weapon to his temple, Tassa starts kicking and fighting but the chair renders him useless.
“He might die once- but you metal man, I am going to tear you apart and find out what exactly makes you work. Don’t worry, the world will be gone in just a few more months anyhow- what do you have to live for.”
The old man squeezes the trigger making sure to go as slowly as possible, his face showing a wide grin as he looks at me.
From the outside crashes in a can hitting the old man with strong impact- he jumps back and aims the gun around him; the metal can starts to spurt out a fume, tear gas.
Two bullets enter the room- silent as the can they threw in. the two young soldiers hit the floor in an instant, but the old man ducks and runs out of the room.
A man pops into the room and rips the ties off both Tassa and my hands; they drag us out of the room and away into cover.
“Merowe!” yells Tassa, coughing before his words.
He throws us our helmets and we slip them on in a flash…
Not a moment later, the alarms go off in the intercom and the base fills with buzzing- the sirens explode throughout the cold night echoing a loud sheer scream; the lights douse every inch of the surroundings; more lights than before- too many to count.
Merowe drops to a knee and hands over his handgun- Tassa leaps for the weapon; although I am unarmed, we’re still virtually unfound.
The superior escaped, not a good thing at all- he knows who we are but we can still hide. With our suits identical to the enemy they are going to have a hard time finding us.
We strafe down the corridor of buildings and make our way to an open area- we pause for an instant and let a soldier pass by. Another passes by and notices us, before he could say anything Merowe drags him from his neck and throws him against the wall; with three lightning fast strikes he drops the man.
Tassa waves at us to follow from behind and we sprint as quickly as possible- we leap to the left and disappear into another corridor.
An echo comes from down the hall- they found the downed man, too close for comfort.
Tassa continues walking and raises his weapon up- Merowe at the ready, aims his back as I follow between the two capable men.
We find another open area and make a dash for the other set of buildings ahead. From the towers above gunshots go off- streaking lights along the stone floor, missing us by mere inches.
We duck into cover and wait for the enemy- ready for the next attack.
The sirens begin to sigh and screech slowly from a loud irritation to a whisper before finally dissipating. We look at each other in wonder of what had just happened- did they already have us pinned and not need an advantage? Suddenly the lights on the buildings flicker and dim out, a power outage perhaps just saved our lives.
The unexpected advantage makes the three of us stand motionless- waiting to see what else would happen. Merowe grabs Tassa and pulls him back into the dark shade of the night.
“Do you think it a rouse?” asks Merowe.
“This weather is unforgiving to no one;” I reply.
“We need to find cover- a place to hide, anything;” exclaims Tassa.
“Ok, let me just ask for a reservation then;” I reply.
Merowe stands up and makes his way through the buildings. Both of us stand up and follow the man who knew what he was doing.
That brought up a suspicion in my head- how did he find us so easily? He didn’t get caught nor did the superior ask about how many were in the group, maybe he didn’t care but it doesn’t seem possible for him to not know.
He leads us to the edge of the base and stops walking, he turns around and looks at us. Tassa and I both stand still, fathoming what he was insisting; he wanted us to leave?
“No;” says Tassa shaking his head in repent at the sight of the ice.
“I found a place we can hide in- a cave in the mountain;” Merowe replies pointing to a jagged hole in the side of the mountain. “If those lights are anything, they’re a sign- we can finish later.”
“We finish this now!” I scream.
I don’t feel safe anymore, not with Merowe giving the instructions- I know enough to understand. He was afraid, and that is when mistakes are made.
Tassa walks to my side and readies his weapon- pulling the pin back it brings forward a fresh bullet. His side was decided…
“You’re not even armed;” says Merowe- trying to find an excuse to evacuate.
I pull out a small tactical blade attached to the belt of the uniform and reach into my boot- a small 5.7 pistol rests on my leg; I grab it from its strap and wave it at Merowe.
“Ready;” I tell him agitated by his poor attempt to leave.
He lowers his head and walks toward the shadow of the building.
“I have to do this- we have to, we finish this now.” I whisper to the disappointed man; without another word we head into the dark facility.
We notice the increase in soldiers on patrol and reach for the barrel on the weapons; Tassa flicks over the small tubing on the weapon- a silencer and locks it in place. Merowe and I both imitate Tassa and silence our weapons for a better advantage.
We strafe our way through and find ourselves back at the room we were at before. The room was now full of enemy soldiers holding flashlights, no doubt investigating our escape. They quickly scavenge our route- trying to beat the snowy downpour from covering our steps.
Slowly, we find our way around the group of attentive men and head for the tower in the center of the base. The fortress; stretching up in a crooked spiral, still glows although the city was not functioning- a green glow slowly oozes from the porcupine like antennas poking out of the snow covered building. This had a different feel to it than did anything else in the base, somehow it was old- very old, but it still looked modern.
We make our way through and reach one of the doors on the pulsing room- we line up as Merowe reaches the door first, we cover his side and wait for him to pry open the door. A second later he turns around and shakes me.
“It’s already open…” he starts to breathe heavily and starts to worry.
What does this mean? Does somebody already have an eye on us?
We look around at the empty area, wondering why nobody was here…
Tassa pushes past Merowe and heads inside the dark tower- the lights flicker suddenly and buzz back to darkness. We’re running out of time, but we are close now.
As soon as we enter; there is sign of a struggle- a pair of prying tools lay on the floor broken… this is making sense now, we are not the ones the old superior was talking about.
We head through a long corridor, pitch black; the only light keeping us from bumping into each other were the glowing rods outside. With every pass of light, a large bass hums and the chilling vibration goes through the walls. Then we got to turn in the corridor, we wait for a second and let Merowe peek around for any sign of enemy intruders.
With a wave we fall into the hall and continue- picking up the pace, now at a light sprint we continue to stroll through the hall. This corridor ends more quickly than the last, and turns once again- this one only half the size of the last, no more windows in this corridor meant we have to keep going with the helmet lights on. That could mean trouble for us.
We follow it to the end and finally reach a heavy metal blast door. Very old and whatever wasn’t covered in rust, had nuclear signs stamped all over it. The door seemed clawed and was already partially opened- more signs of a break in…
We grab the door and pull, trying to make the near closed door widen up. With even our combined strength, the door moves only inches- this is definitely a nuclear grade blast door. Whatever’s down there is of very high importance- maybe a battery, or a new weapon, maybe even a freezer… holding something, no someone of high importance.
We grab the solid door again and pull- the door budges a few more inches, but that’s enough. I squeeze through and stumble into a warm lighted room. The others follow and look at me, I have the feeling; they’re thinking the same thing I am- where are we going?
I look back and see the door start to shove back into place, with no chance of going back… and then follow them down.
Team of Seven
Dim yellow lights in thin strips scar the side of the stairs, with every step following another strip as we keep going. We reach the bottom of the steps within seconds and find ourselves in a giant room, the room continues miles long and goes down making subsections and lower decks. High above us lining the walls come sparks of electricity running along wires; with revolving transformers giving an even stronger flash at the posts; Humming a deep bass with every turn. They go around and reach far into the other ends disappearing in the lower levels.
“What is this place?” Tassa says with his hand on his helmet. He turns off the light and continues. “This is really elaborate, how did they do all of this.”
I follow him to the railing with Merowe in tow and reply; “Your guess is as good as mine.”
Merowe’s light shutters as he reaches for the switch on his helmet, he flicks it off as we make our way through the railing and I repeat his actions. I still look around for any more signs of a break in; but nothing else, just a room full of noises and unknown echoes in the distance.
As we make our way along the seamlessly empty floor we follow our way in an almost crouched position. Then a familiar sound urges me to look down; I pause and grab Tassa by the wrist, “Look;” I whisper and point down to the next sub floor.
A group of some seven men stomp across the deck following a giant metal fighter; the warcarrier limps across and tries to grab hold of the floor as it does. The men make their way around the weak behemoth, yelling commands to another man sitting in a desk- he quickly strikes codes into a high tech computer pertaining of eight huge monitors stacked four by two. Each screen indicates different parts of the Warcarrier, but with the language barrier- it might as well not been there at all.
Merowe taps me and leans closer to me, trying to keep stealth; “It doesn’t look injured, what do you comrades make of it?”
I look back at the shining metallic alloys of the warcarrier and agree; the thing was literally unharmed; this could be a sign of a weakness…
The man working the monitor punches buttons more furiously and looks up to the monitors, as soon as the screens go dark he stops typing and focuses on the coding matrix speeding through the screen in lightning succession. The screen stops for an instant and reaches a final blinking light- the men look on as the Warcarrier freezes in its tracks. The eight men all focus on the screens and ponder at what was happening…
The light goes red and slowly points at a word- VIRUZ…
“Does that mean virus?” asks Tassa. Without a reply we look at the military dressed man on the desk fly back through the matrix of data. He zooms through observing the scales of mathematical equations and stops at a source. He moves the mouse over a line codes and highlights them, he strikes a key and the codes get highlighted in red. He then scrolls back to the bottom and slaps a final key…
The Warcarrier suddenly whirrs back to life and stands perfect, not like before- the infernal Warcarrier picks up the heavy rifle strapped to one arm and picks up a thumb with the other arm and aims the fist toward the men at the desktop.
With a combined grunt they exclaim a cheer of fulfillment and continue on their way, the Warcarrier stops along a giant metal door and punches the door open. The door responds to the vicious vibration and pries itself open- leading it to another dark room.
“What was that all about;” I ask, “The warcarrier acted like a bugged version of itself…”
“Everything is prone to viruses- even technology;” points out Merowe. He gestures with his head at the group of men all clearing out, they group together and start going down the stairs to their right- who knows what they’re up to.
I call for my teammates attention and ask; “Do we follow them?”
Merowe shakes his head and looks over at Tassa who was nodding.
“What!” He yells. “You want to follow them?”
Tassa quickly defends our case with the opposing Merowe and responds; “We need to find out what is happening down here- although we might not want to, this might be the heart to the invention.” “If that display proved anything- it’s that they are vulnerable…”
Merowe quickly tries to counter our intentions; “But what if…” Before he could continue I cut him off. “We aren’t arguing about this Merowe- we follow them…”
His brow wrinkles as he gets angered- but he does as he’s told. He braces his weapon and starts down a flight of stairs to the next floor.
We step down the metal stairs, clanking with every step down; keeping our eyes peeled at the empty floor below- just in case the Warcarrier came back.
Merowe runs to aside and keeps his weapon pointed at the stairs, I run to his side and tap him on the back- he lowers his gun and makes his way to the center of the floor. Tassa follows down and looks over at the computer, he approaches and despite being intrigued stops himself and looks over at me. I guess he wasn’t expecting me to be looking at him- he lowers his eyes down the sights of his weapon and follows Merowe.
“I think they’re robots;” lets out Merowe.
“What, robots?” I reply; “well I suppose this supports the theory.”
“So you think these are unmanned weapons;” asks Tassa “Something like drones?”
Both Merowe and I look at each other not sure how to respond to the question, after a few seconds of pondered silence- I just simply shrug.
“Really; so you guess- is that it?” Tassa replies unmoved by our thoughts.
“Well we haven’t exactly opened one up and check for answers;” I reply.
“Fine;” finishes Merowe waving his hand at the pointless conversation he started. “There isn’t any certainty right now comrades, but if we don’t shut up and keep going; we’ll never find out.”
We look up at the blinking screens and examine the different encryptions and data frozen where they left them. Everything green- almost for a successful procedure, except for the red letters at the bottom of the last screen- VIRUZ.
I look around and see Merowe already uninterested in the complexity of the codes on the screen.
He was now focused on something else- a large canister, identical to the ones on the side of the mountain. Whatever they were, they have them in here…
I follow Merowe and look at the environment of the container- still relatively new despite the scratched siding and dented contours in the metal. Aside from the obvious handing, a large malleable metal tube ran down the back of the canister, not exactly a tube as to a wire- making its way to an empty spot in the room.
Tassa makes his way over to the end and picks it up; looks all around the loose frame and then looks down the barrel. His lights turn on, making it clear to see.
“It looks like a vehicle charger…” he says after a closer examination.
Must be what they are using to charge the warcarrier- a battery to charge hundreds of smaller batteries. Not very economical, but from under the nose of the earth this is probably the surefire way to keep something going for years.
I look over at the stairs, and notice the shine of a flashlight- too late for reaction. From behind the light sounds the voice of a man…
“They use it to charge the Warcarrier…” a person approaches from behind the light wielding a sub machine gun, very young, but unafraid. His military suit as new as the ones we wear, donned with over a dozen medals and commendations implies only high command and so does his gestures for carelessness. He looks at the three of us passing his view from Tassa, to me then finally Merowe.
He points a finger at me then turns it over gesturing me to approach him; “You, come over here.”
“Why should he?” says Merowe, stepping in front of me partially blocking my view from behind his larger structure.
Tassa follows Merowe and strolls next to him; completely covering me. “What gives you the right to take him with you?”
They knew just as well as I do- he isn’t virtually dangerous but they’re treading dangerous waters.
He chuckles and looks at the group of men in tow; he bobs his head once up and then slowly back down as he looks at his team.
“Do you guys believe these idiots?” he tells the men.
Merowe steps forward and responds to the insult; “We’re the idiots? You half ass agents don’t even know how to leave a clean infiltration…”
He turns back and continues with an intense look on his face.
“Merowe is it?” he says…
Astonished Merowe steps back, that even catches me in surprise- they know his name…
“I don’t care about the military man from California, although we know him too…”
Tassa’s face cringes, enraged with the man; “All we care about is the thing you are defending- you of all people should understand priorities, right Merowe?”
Merowe stands defenseless unable to respond to the man- Tassa just as frozen remains silent- but stays unfazed.
“It is property! Of the military! And of the United States!” he yells.
“So unless you hand it over- we are forced to take you into custody as well, or die…”
He steps back and cocks the weapon in hand; “you choose- agent.”
Merowe moves his gun down and removes the clip from the slit, looking at the near empty weapon; Tassa turns the lights from his helmet off and waits for our move.
I think about the outcome- brutal, a battle we shouldn’t have to face. I see Merowe push the clip back into place and start to aim the weapon.
I quickly put my hand to his shoulder and he stops, breathing heavily- grateful for my action. I move from behind the wall of friendly company and get in front of them.
“We’ll come cleanly, but I need to finish my mission…” I tell the men.
“Good!” He replies; “This whole time I thought I’d have to do all the hard work…” he goes behind the group of men and reaches for a weapon; he loads a clip into it and attaches another onto a hold on the weapon.
He tosses it to me and continues; “The four of us ran into a problem earlier, but you have the solution to said problem…” he starts to get excited as he loads another weapon and tosses it to Tassa.
“You’re after all, the primary solution to this catastrophe- this damn abomination.”
He loads a last rifle and walks it over to Merowe; he gives him the weapon and throws his used weapon aside.
The man, although physically smaller than either one of us- still has a mental superiority, a wonder in men nowadays.
“Us;” he continues back to his team and waves at the group. “We don’t have a clue on how to stop these things but for that thing.” He points at me and keeps on circling around us.
“You have it all up here;” he gestures to his head.
“Where to now;” I ask.
“Third floor- sub floor;” he says.
I nod and follow toward the man- Tassa continues behind me, loyal as he is. But Merowe, refrains from his spot.
I turn back as the other continue down the next flight of stairs- Merowe looks down at the new weapon without motivation, thinking. I grab his arm and get his attention, blank as a wall.
“We’re going to finish this Merowe- that’s what we all want right?”
He looks up and nods- then we continue down the steps. The quiet room silent again flickering with mystery at every dark corner- not fully discovered. We go on to the next floor, almost at the end of our long travels.
Down the rafters we make our way down the stairs easily twice as long as the last, stretching down past a thousand different machines- then the thought crosses my mind. Why don’t we just sabotage all of this equipment? With it gone, the Warcarrier will stop working, right? Not exactly, there is too much here, that’s why. And everything is unfamiliar- that’s why. I keep trying to talk myself out of my plan…
“This place;” says the leader of the others. “It’s supposed to be a startup facility of some kind- just pretend you didn’t hear this, California.” He tells Tassa. Being that he is the only one of the whole group who isn’t an agent or Alchemized.
“We were told that those big robot things...”
“You mean the Warcarrier?” asks Tassa.
“If that’s what you call it, yes;” he replies. “They configure them here with these super computers.”
He gestures at the row of malevolent engines rattling below; “So our orders were to infect the Warcarridges.”
“Warcarrier;” I correct the man.
“Whatever, but the point is- that we did that; and they figured it out in a matter of seconds. So we exhausted our plan and the last real option is to destroy the facility.”
“Along with every last bit of information in this building;” he stops and looks up to the ceiling.
The lights flash and start to flicker- trying to turn on again… but quickly dissipate back to darkness.
“Did you do that;” I ask. “Did you disrupt the lights?”
“We needed time;” he replies softly. “But odds are they will find us down here as soon as they get the cameras going…”
We reach the bottom and quickly cover each side of the stairs- the leader quickly walks past us, without a care in the world and heads for a port of computer engines.
“This place is unprotected right now- they have all the men scrambling up there looking for the likes of you three.” He looks at a broken lock on the floor that once held the engines safe from intrusion.
“Any ideas;” he asks.
“They gotta be assembling them somewhere right?” says Tassa.
The seven men all wonder for a moment and start to look around; we turn and begin looking down the row of computer engines. Every machine the same as the last glow a green hue of light from within- still going a thousand miles an hour it seems. With everyone that I pass another hums in my ears softly- the chrome silver towers stand behind their barred containers perfectly safe from immediate danger.
I reach the end and become disappointed at the sight of nothing out of the ordinary, as far as computers go anyways. I wait for the others who now seem to be taking longer- after a minute of counted waiting I make a turn around and find them all looking at one computer- curiously I make my way toward them.
Merowe looks over at me and waves for me to hurry.
“What do you make of this?” he asks.
I look down at the tower as it slowly hums and clicks from the inside, obviously having an error on the inside. Almost as if the motor wasn’t functioning correctly- it wasn’t until I looked more closely that I notice a small number written on the tower. 4…
“There’s a number on it;” I tell them.
“Four, Is that a numbering system?” Replies Tassa.
“How many floors are in this facility;” I ask the leader of the other men.
“Four;” replies quickly. “But the bottom floor was never mapped…”
“So we need to look for it?” asks Merowe.
“Can’t be far now;” I finish.
The lights in the ceiling flicker again and go on for a second, they start to fire up again but flutter back to the emergency lights riddled around the room.
We continue to the next floor- which from up here doesn’t look safe at all. The room quickly bustles with mechanical equipment all automated, moving around weapons and other miscellaneous things; but no sign of warcarrier parts, equipment, or weaponry; just an assembly line of goods and mechanical parts, but nothing particularly interesting.
We look around for sign of foot soldiers below, I immediately spot an engineer in a sub room connected to the side of the walls to the left- he is a problem at the moment if he sees us were done for.
I point at the others and alert them on the danger below. With a nod of acknowledgment we keep looking on for anything else. Tassa quickly taps his foot on the ground and we turn toward him- he holds three fingers up and points to the other end of the line of line. Three men in military grade equipment look at the line and take notes of whatever they were focusing on.
They don’t seem under any pressure, they stroll around the giant assembly line and without any helmets- their bald heads exposed to one bullet… perfect.
Merowe at the opposite side of the group taps twice and holds one finger up. He turns his finger and points it down- under the stairs, a man smoking a cigarette. The fumes slowly rise through the metal grated stairs and swipe along my helmet- this one might be a problem. Although we are right above him the mechanical servants, cover our voices.
Tassa alerts us of the three men- I look over and see the ones near the assembly line making their way away from the man under the stairs.
Tassa holds his finger to his mouth and grasps the railing of the stairs, he jumps over the top and lowers himself slowly behind the back of the smoking soldier; the man quietly continues to smoke the cigarette unaware of the powerful Tassa behind him. Tassa reaches to his bicep and unbuckles his knife- the heavy knife, sharp and serrated on one side shines as he pulls it out.
We watch on from the top, pensive- hoping it all goes as planned.
Tassa reaches over the top and quickly grabs the man’s mouth; he picks the smaller man up with exaggerated power and with the other hand scrapes the sharp tactical knife across his neck.
He lowers the man down and lays him to the floor.
Tassa gives us a thumb up and heads for a hiding spot beneath the stairs.
The new agents aim for the three men strolling down the line and Merowe jumps down the same side Tassa went. He lowers himself and strafes toward the assembly line trying to stay hidden from the man in the sub floor over viewing the entire room.
The man on the top floor wasn’t paying attention so I tell Merowe over the com. He dashes across the floor and reaches a ladder on the side of the stairs- he disappears into the building so we wait patiently.
A second later I see Merowe behind the engineer, holding a large knife he grabs the man and slits it across his throat.
The others immediately fire one round at the three others, spot on- they hit the floor without even a cry or grunt; instant kills.
The seven men regroup at the middle of the room, no questions- just looking at each other; I wish I knew what they’re thinking…
I look over at the busy machines and look at all the boxes of packed supplies, weapons most likely- but if there aren’t any warcarrier supplies or equipment, then where are they at?
We start to look around and the light flicker on once again- this time they only flicker once and avert to the flood lights again.
We make our way down the row of working machinery and see just how far along it goes- the line of supplies makes a giant turn and goes around a corridor, deeper underground somewhere.
“Wherever this stuff is going to- that’s where the next floor is at.” I tell the men.
“But it’s not going;” says the nameless leader “it’s coming from down there.”
“What does it matter?” asks Tassa.
Merowe steps forward and answers; “that means there have to be a larger number of workers down there than up here- look at all this stuff men.”
So we continue down the assembly line- listening to the humming of the machine as they quickly close boxes and weld pieces of metal together. The sleek metal hallway stretches all around and makes a perfect semi squared room, a bad place to be if you’re claustrophobic.
We reach the end of the hall and run into a giant door, larger than any other door in the facility. The giant metal hydraulics indicates only inside access to the facility. It is no wonder nobody ever found this place- metal bots the size of a regular mans chest could only mean that they used their beloved warcarrier to build this door... but how long ago.
I raise my hand and place it on the door- thinking of a way to break it open or in any case pry it open. Tassa makes his way to a panel on the side of the door- stretching from his shoulders to his waist. A blue grid stands in the frame of the door- indicates a palm reader, a giant palm reader; why would they make the warcarriers a palm reader?
“I’m stumped;” lets out the leader. “How are we supposed to get in there?”
The three other soldiers follow the wave of their leader and follow behind their leader- staying close. He takes a knee and raises a fist to his chin, resting it on his other knee.
“We don’t have time to think!” exclaims Tassa. “These lights are coming on anytime now, and if we don’t get this done- we might as well be dead.”
“Calm down, California;” replies the man, still on his knee. “We can’t just waste this opportunity of being down here- if we die I think the people back at HQ would like to figure out at least how to get down here.”
“My names Lincoln Tassa- not California, you idiot; you know my name, but what’s yours?”
The man chuckles and responds; “I can’t give you that information- Tassa.”
“Bartholomew…” says Merowe; “you’re him.”
The man quickly averts his attention to Merowe, but says nothing.
“Who’s Bartholomew exactly?” I ask.
“Bartholomew is the creator of the Alchemist- he created an obsolete weapon and brought back dead people from the grave.” The man stands up and continues; “Bartholomew did nothing to stop the war- just create more machines to fight machines.”
He looks down at his weapon and stops to think; “I… I did what I could.”
“So why are you out here?” I ask.
He sighs and unbuckles his helmet; “I’m still trying…”
So, Bartholomew- the creator of the Alchemy; he might not seem like much of a soldier but he is a perfect fit for a scientist. Here I am in the presence of my second creator, first being god of course. I don’t even know if I should feel something- for the one who gave me my life back; I’m glad- by his invention I became what I am.
I look over at the metal door and think, maybe… I make my way to the panel; the blue grid pops up and flashes. A ping brings up a small insignia of their logo then fades away revealing a giant palm. I look at my arm, wrapped up nicely in a leather glove- I rip it off and reveal the Metal meshed fingers underneath. The metal light scratched, no longer perfect but still there.
I place my hand on the door and it does nothing…
“What are you doing?” asks Tassa. The first man I met out here, the first person that wasn’t from inside a testing facility.
I stay silent and wait.
A ping occurs again- the grid glows and focuses on the location of my hand…
The seven men aim their weapons at the door and wait in optimistic anticipation for the door to unlock. I just look on and can’t believe exactly what was happening- the door has mistaken me for a Warcarrier?
The blue grid fades off and turns green- I close my eyes…
The door suddenly puffs a loud cough of air- the door’s locks screech back to life and pull the hydraulics slowly open… It worked!
“How is this possible?” screams Bartholomew.
The men all look at each other and shrug- I didn’t even know, my hunch actually worked. But what does that mean for the Warcarrier? They’re not human- they’re robotic drones.
We slowly make our way forward and make our way through the smoky white air puffing out of the door’s hydraulic system.
At the other end- awaits a green gloomy room- resembling the old ancient color of a submarine that’s been underwater for ages. A musky smell intoxicates the air, something dead- too long was past decay. Whatever it is is in abundance.
We start making our way down the slippery floor- the small corridor no bigger than ten feet tall, has been here for ages. No doubt it holds something of interest to them- or someone?
The room gets brighter and lights up- the emergency lights deactivate and the cameras on the wall start to revolve again. There’s no going back now- we start to pick up the pace.
The men start to panic but stay put, Merowe picks up his weapon and fires at one of the cameras- as soon as he destroys it another focuses on us and doesn’t stop following us.
The seven of us struggle to make our way down the wide hall; we go from a quick pace to a run. An old siren on the wall starts to hiss and turns into a simultaneous buzz. A red light goes off in the hall following the sirens and turns the dead environment into a fully fledged alert system.
The door behind us hisses again, and from behind the door pops in a Warcarrier quickly making its way toward us. The metal goliath quickly starts to make its way towards us- the heavy bladed sword slashes along the walls and rips sparks of fire and electricity as it gashes through everything in its path.
The room slowly starts to open up- halfway to the exit. One of Bartholomew’s agents turns around and looks for the Warcarrier- he suddenly trips and hits the floor, he tries to stand up in desperation but realizes the mistake he made. He turns over and aims his weapon at the monstrous Warcarrier- with a long swing of the blade; the metal monster rips the man in half and continues toward us. Not fazing an inch in speed.
A second agent turns around and tries for the aid of the fallen teammate- he fires at the Warcarrier who ignores the gunfire completely. With a wide swing overhead the man falls in agony and perishes.
With a second man down, we finally reach the end of the hallway- Bartholomew pulls the pin from a grenade and drops it at the exit of the door then runs to a side following Tassa quickly behind. Merowe passes third, he jumps to a side and disappears behind the door holding out only his hand- I rush out with the Warcarrier in tow followed by the last of Bartholomew’s agents.
I pass the grenade on the floor and get dragged to a side; Merowe pulls me aside and prepares for the explosive impact of the grenade.
A heavy flash follows a strong boom; the agent leaps out and crashes on the floor following the heavy Warcarrier. Blood runs from the mouth of the stationary agent, no longer living- but the Warcarrier whirs and clutches the floor for traction.
The four of us shoot at the fallen Warcarrier until the machine stops moving.
Our weapons stop only until the weapons are depleted. With smoke puffing out from our weapons we stare at the Warcarrier expecting a second attack, but nothing.
The green algae covered room opens up to a giant facility; giant computers lattice the walls hiding under pile after pile of written notes and dust. The room extends to a giant hive- thousands of domed metal devices bigger than a meter tall perfectly align the pillars of the hive. The central machine- this computer is the main machine, the central station to the Warcarrier!
“What are those things?” Bartholomew asks.
“Batteries;” I answer. “I suppose.”
“But if I stop this machine from working for good- the Warcarrier stops…” I continue.
From behind the rubble of the door comes the sound of troops on their way down, ready to attack. We aim our weapons at the door and wait for the first entrance of an enemy.
“Don’t shoot…” says a voice.
From behind the door comes the old man again- the superior, he looks around at the group of men and aims his arms to the air. He comes into the room and avoids agitating the ready group.
“Before we kill you;” he says unafraid of the men. “I want you to know that it doesn’t have to end this way- especially not for the metal man…”
He points at me and looks back at the others. “You can spare these men- with your surrender I will let them leave…”
“Why would I believe that;” I reply. “I won’t give up to you- never.”
He takes off his small glasses and frowns… “Fine- but it’s their blood on your hands…”
He pulls out a small device from his pocket and presses a button; from behind us a giant Warcarrier armed to the teeth with firepower bounds toward the group. He walks back out and in pour a dozen men firing their weapons in frenzy.
Merowe and Bartholomew dodge to a side and the giant Warcarrier bashes against the wall avoiding the smaller troops from further damage- with a huge swing it turns around and fires the giant Gatling gun on its shoulder.
We run from the line of fire and jump into cover- behind the pillars of the Hive.
We fire from behind cover taking out incoming attackers as they pour into the catacombs.
They stand down and fire from outside without pause, they toss forward a small canister and it oozes out smoky fumes; limiting our vision. Then from the other side of the pillars they dump another canister- the smoke gushes out and fills the hive.
Merowe jumps back as a man tries to flank us; with a giant kick he drops the shooter and fires a single bullet into his chest. He goes to a knee and stays put, his eyes peered for the chance of another attack.
A thunderous shake comes as the Warcarrier starts to approach- from behind the smoke; comes in the giant hand of the Warcarrier as it reaches around to grab us. Bartholomew runs further into the walls of the hive; rendering its attempts futile.
Tassa dodges the grip of the giant and shoots the menacing hand away.
Bartholomew tosses me a grenade and fires at an incoming attacker- “We have one chance to stop them.”
He pulls out a mesh of wires and connected boxes, C4 charges. He points at the door and continues; “but that Warcarrier is in the way.”
The Warcarrier backs away as the smoke clears out and starts to revolve its Gatling gun, we all start rushing back evading the heavy artillery. Just as soon as it started the weapon comes to a halt as the old man screeches a mouthful of instructions. Obviously they don’t want to harm the domed canisters.
I fire at the warcarrier and cause dismal damage- nothing even close to critical; I pull the pin from the grenade and wait.
“What are you doing!’” yells Bartholomew. “We only have one shot- don’t mess this up!”
“Just keep it busy and I’ll take my shot.” I reply.
I look on as the three men fire at the Warcarrier, to no necessary extremes. With round after round bouncing off the Warcarrier, it starts losing focus on me- I run out and toss the grenade under the Warcarrier. Merowe starts to cover my exit and fires at a handful of troops sending their attack into defense. Tassa continues to taunt the metal beast- and holds it right at its spot. With the team doing properly; this could work…
Bartholomew runs out afterward and tosses the charge of explosives directly in front of the door- the old man tries to run over for the safety of the troops and rushes after the pack.
I grab Bartholomew and duck him behind my weapon- with a consecutive fire of weaponry; I get us both back in the hive.
With a remote in hand, he pushes the button and the charge goes off- simultaneous to my grenade. The Warcarrier drops from the explosion and the door screams with debris as the combination ignites the room.
From the dust a floor full of fallen soldiers- all injured from the explosion for sure… their superior nowhere in sight. The motionless Warcarrier, still bigger than anything in the room begins to reside and its red glowing eyes fade. I look around for the team, trying to stand up from the power of the explosion; Merowe waves one hand with another firmly grasping the riddled floor. Tassa comes over and taps me on the back, more so pushes me…
He gestures over at a group of men still moving- he passes his thumb from one side of his throat to the other… are we to kill them?
I shake my head-
Tassa points his weapon at them; Merowe who saw my gesture aims his weapon as well. I close my eyes as they squeeze the trigger of their weapons- they execute their tasks in a second.
The entrance becomes visible and shows the entrance blocked by debris- this is the end of the line for us.
“What do we do now?” ask Merowe and Tassa.
The three men gather around me; hoping my plan is still in play. I think back to something my wife once said- “I should do the right thing.” For some godforsaken reason those few words stuck in my head- I listen to her promise because it is what I have to do.
I drop the weapon to the ground and point to my head; “the answer is in here; I hold the key weapon to killing these things. But in doing so…” I stop and hold back a tear.