The year is 2030 and the world is rebuilding from war
He was tired. He had worked the whole night through to perfect it, the ability enhancement part of the Integrated Combat System or ICS. This had been a year’s work finally completed. He was overjoyed. J said into the microphone in front of him. “Date: 03/23/30. Initiate test number one.”
The scientist in the test area brought his wrist together. Power at one hundred percent, the panel read. “Ok try to lift it.”
The scientist walked up to the four hundred-kilogram weights. With little effort the scientist lifted it over his head. The design team behind him began to celebrate.
“Don’t get cocky people, its not over yet. Put it down and turn off the suit.”
The scientist complied. Suit power read zero. Good, J thought to himself. It would have looked bad if this one had exploded like the other one.
Melissa sat at a table in the Slum Bucket. The gang was celebrating her win against the Fire Devils. They were street racing down the main drag in town. She beat their driver by meters. “Big Bubba” the gang’s leader stood atop another table. He yelled in a drunken tone, “To Mel, The toughest driver in all of the Badlands!!”
The rest of the gang exploded in cheers and whistles. She jumped up on to her table and called for the crowd to shut up.
“I’m not much of a public speaker, but thanks a lot you drunken bastards!”
The crowd burst out in laughter. The laughter was drowned out by the sounds of sirens.
SWAT team members came in from all sides. The gang members quickly sobered and drew their guns. Mel leaped from the table and took out a cop on her way down. She sprinted past all the gun fighting. She drew hers and fired. It was just a cover so she could get to her bike. A heavily armed officer grabbed her and tried to arrest her. She punched him in the face and continued to run. She leaped on her bike and sped through the crowd sending the police flying as she hit them. Mel got out before the cops got her. She wasn’t worried they gang would regroup in a few weeks. That’s what they usually do. She sped down the street deeper into the badlands. Just waiting for that time.
J stood with a large black suitcase at his side. Mr. Kudih, his boss was reviewing the report for the prototype of the ICS. It was J’s greatest project he’d ever done. Let’s hope the tyrant boss of his agreed.
“ Well, Mr. Suzuki this is a very amazing unit.”
“Thank –You Sir.” J replied.
“May I see the actual unit?”
But of course sir.” J laid the suitcase on the desk and opened it. He removed a black jump suit and held it up.
“Ah, simple but complex.”
“ Yes sir the was the premise behind the design. Take a large amount of weapons and place them in a small space.”
“Now Mr. Suzuki, one thing, you will not be allowed to leave.”
J was shocked at what he heard. What did he mean? Kudih pulled a remote from the top draw of his desk. When he pushed a button, an explosion shook the building. It came from the weapons lab. “Bu… But my team was in there.”
“Of course Mr. Suzuki. They knew too much. Just as do you.”
“What do I know?” J said almost petrified by what had just happened.
“The suit of course. This is a top- secret project and must not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. Like yours.”
Kudih pulled a handgun from the drawer of his desk and leveled it at J’s head. J tapped the watch sitting in the foam padding of his case. A small metal ball rolled from the sleeve of the jump suit. Kudih focused on it for a moment. It exploded with a bright flash and sent smoke in the air. Kudih yelled and dropped his weapon. J quickly packed up the suit, grabbed Kudih’s gun and ran. He sprinted down the hall with all his strength. When Kudih regained his senses. He spat into the intercom in his desk. “Do not let him escape!”
Suited bodyguards raced down the hall after him. Spraying bullets in J’s direction. Shots ricocheted off the walls beside him. Workers in the office were panicking and fleeing. J ducked out into the men’s room. He opened the black case that contained the ICS. Field Test, J said to himself as he donned the jumpsuit. He put the control band on his wrist. He jumped out into the fray. Bodyguards shot at him. An energy shield on his wrist deployed and deflected the shots. J drew the gun and fired. The guards fell to the ground. It’s kill or be killed he said to himself. It was almost the motto of a weapons designer.
Kudih watched as J made his way through the winding corridors. “Blast that scum.” He said, slamming his fists onto the desk. J wouldn’t get far he said to himself. I’m on the top floor. He has a long way down. Kudih pressed a button on his desk console. He enjoyed controlling security from his office. All the doors, windows and elevators sealed themselves off with large steel doors. He smiled, no way out.
J stood at the end of a corridor. The window to his right was sealed, as was the door behind him. Guards stood in front of him. Guns drawn ready to shoot J down. Like lighting J raised his arm to the window. A missile shot out of his wrist. It exploded, blowing a hole in the security door sealing the window. J took a suicide dive out the window. When the smoke cleared the guards looked out the window. J was now where to be seen. Kudih’s voice blasted through their ear pieces “He is not dead, find him!” The guard ran back down the hall. The security lock-down had been canceled. The large steel doors raised themselves. The guard boarded the elevator and began their decent.
J hung from the window by his fingertips. The cloaking device had worked. But it exploded with a poof. Ok so maybe the suit wasn’t perfect but it was a prototype. The guards missed him. When he was sure the guards had gone, he extended the hook from his left arm. J jammed it into the concrete wall of the building. With a flick of his wrist a line of cord flew out. He began to slowly repel down the building. Thoughts raced through his head. How could that monster do this? Killed his colleagues and friends. Just to keep the suit a secret. But at least J had the plans and the prototype. Kudih would never get his hands on it. Where could he go now? He was a wanted man. J couldn’t go home, they would watch his friends and family. The police were in Kudih’s pocket. J was on his own. He managed to get to his car without anyone stopping him. He sped to the border of the badlands. The cops wouldn’t dare follow him in. It was where the war had hit the hardest. It was a place full of crime and villainy. Full of outlaws just like him.
Melissa had been on the run for a three days now. It was dark. The rival gangs came out at night. She thought she needed to set up a temporary base until she got word that the gang had assembled. She was being optimistic. Not many gangs ever re-form after a police raid that big. Maybe this base wouldn’t be temporary. She spotted a large abandoned brick complex. It was an old HQ the alliance used during the war. After the war it was probably abandoned because the constant fighting had reeked havoc in the area. It looks like the perfect place to lay low. On the front of the building was the vehicle bay. Good a place to park the bike she said to herself. A panel sat beside a door. She reached into her pocket and pulled out her universal lock-pick, She placed it over the panel. Within a few seconds it beeped and a ramp squeaked and groaned as it lowered behind her. She smiled. That pick sure saved her life many a time. It was a collage project gone wrong.
She wheeled her bike up the ramp. The room was pitch black. She pulled a lighter from her pocket. It’s small light illuminated the room. In front of her was a large object covered by a cloth. She bent over to lift it up. She heard a shuffling noise, in an instant her guns were raised. Staring her in the face was the business end of a handgun. “Lights.” A man’s voice yelled into the air. The lights over head came on. The man holding the gun commanded her to lower hers. He looked a bit ragged as if he’d been awake for a while .She slowly brought the weapons to the ground. The man with the gun kicked them away.
“Who do you work for?” The man questioned.
“Myself.” Melissa replied with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
“Bounty Hunter?” the man questioned again
“No, Biker. An outlaw.”
“Like me.” Said the man with a sigh.
The man re-holstered his gun and extended his hand
“I’m J.” He said.
Melissa looked at his hand for a second. Lighting quickly she grabbed it and brought it behind J’s back He dropped to one knee. J groaned in pain as she applied more pressure to his arm.
“ Ok J, my turn to ask the questions. What the hell are you doing here?”
“Hiding. The same thing you’re doing.”
She looked at him. This guy intrigued her. Anyone who could sneak up on her was tough. It was a hard thing to do. Kind of dangerous, but nice. Well as nice as someone could be when he waved a gun in your face.
She released the hold and J rose to his feet.
She extended her hand. “ The name Melissa, but people call me Mel.”
J met her hand with a friendly shake. “ A pleasure.” He said. As they lowered their hands. Mel re-holstered her guns. J got his first good look at her. She was strikingly beautiful. Even in the dim light. Her green eyes just blew him away. The soft features of her face beautifully framed by her short brown hair, with a single lock of hair over her eye. Which signified a wild side and so did the fact she almost broke his arm.
Melissa asked J “Whatcha’ running from?”
“My boss. He tried to kill me to keep a prototype weapon a secret. He killed the rest of my team and blew up the lab I worked in. I have the plans and the weapon itself.
“Biological? Chemical?” Mel asked.
He smiled and said “Covert arsenal.”
She glanced around the large room “Where is this secret weapon she said with a sarcastic tone.”
“You’re looking at it.”
Melissa almost passed out laughing.
“I’m serious, watch.”
J tapped himself in the chest. In an instant he disappeared. Mel looked around the room.
A second later he reappeared behind her. Mel’s guns were in his face. Melissa looked a bit embarrassed. “Sorry forced habit.” She said. J stumbled back a bit. But continued, “cloaking device.” He said smirking. J loved to show off his work. He pointed his left arm up. A grappling hook came from his wrist and he shot up like a spider going up its web. J slowly came back down. Mel was pretty impressed. But she was still curious at what was behind the white sheet. She turned to J and pointed to the large mass. He lifted the dust cover off. Mel stood her with her green eyes wide open.
“Oh my God. A 67 mustang. You don’t see these much.” The cars black finish gleamed in the light. “ What an antique!”
“It was an old hobby of mine to restore cars. But me being an outlaw now. I made a few special modifications.”
He took out his gun and fired it at the hood. The bullet bounced off without leaving a scratch. He leaned into the passenger side window and pushed a button. Gears and motors whirred. The front grill moved a side and a large machine gun extended. He tapped it again and it retracted. Melissa still stood with her eyes open. “Wow. Think you can work with my bike?”
He glanced over at the Suzuki Kantana sitting beside the Mustang.
“I’ll see what I can do. Bikes are a bit harder.” He paused and thought for a second. Wanna take the Mustang for a spin?”
Melissa almost seemed giddy as she caught the keys J threw her. She opened up the door and jumped in. Mel turned the key, the engine thrummed to life. He yelled, “Ramp Down.” The ramp lowered and the mustang sped out. As quickly as it was lowered it raised again. They were speeding down the street away from the large brick structure. “So what do you think?” J yelled over the roar of the engine. Mel answered with a big smile on her face, “God I love this car!”
“That’s what I said the first time a drove this.”
The couple tore down the street. The faded streetlights reflected off the hood of the car.
From behind them a half-dozen motorcycles zoomed up behind them. They were screaming and yelling. “Friends of yours?” J said, His voice full of sarcasm. A Biker came up along side. Mel noticed the emblem. It was a skull and cross bone with horns in the center of a flame image. The Fire Devils. “Uh Oh, they want a rematch.” She said. A grin appeared on her face “They got one.” Melissa brought the car around with a violent U-turn. The smell of burnt rubber and the sound of screeching tires filled the night sky. The six bikers came head on with the speeding Mustang. J looked panic stricken as he brought the machine gun to life. Shots fired from the front. The spray of bullets caught one of them right in the front. His bike exploded. The rider was flung high into the air and landed hard. The five others scatted like oil in water. They came around with a loud gun of their engines, kept pace with the mustang and began to strike it pipes and bats they carried with them. Mel reached out her window and punched a biker right off is ride. The bike fell back and hit the fallen biker. A lead pipe came jamming through J’s window. A screen of metal rolled down from his wrist. The pipe crumbled when it impacted on J’s hand. With a mighty shove J pushed the driver off his bike. The remaining bikers fell behind and drew handguns. The shots bounced off the back.” J leaned out the window and aimed his arm at the bikers. A missile shot out and sped towards the bikers. They stared to drive away. The missile exploded sending a cloud razor sharp needles in the air. They tore away at the bikers as Mel and J sped off.
She laughed “ They still can’t be me!” She looked at J. He met her stare. “I mean us.” They pulled back into the Vehicle Bay of the base.
“Impressive little suit you got.” Mel said. As she sat down on the worn out couch
“That’s why my boss wants it so bad.” J replied. He pulled up a chair beside her.
J quickly changed the subject. “So what are you running from?”
“FBI, CIA and the SPD. Not much.” She said her voice dripping with sarcasm.
J chucked under his breath. It was amazing how she could brush that sort of thing off.
He was still captivated by this biker chick with the beautiful green eyes. She was tough but sweet.
“You’re welcome to stay here as long as you need to.” J said.
“ I might need to take you up on that offer. It’s late I’ve been running for a while. I need some sleep.”
“I’ll take the couch. There’s a decent mattress in the next room.” J replied with a sweeping point to the door to his left.
With that she picked up the bag attached to the bike and went to the bedroom. A moment later she poked her head out “Thanks.” She said with a smile.
J returned the smile and said “Good night.” She closed the door.
He thought to himself. She could be a big help. He promised himself he would use this suit for good for as long as he could. He looked over at Mel’s bike. He had found quite a lot spare parts and weapons in this old place. They must have abandoned it really quickly. He may be able to tinker with her bike and he might be able to make her an ICS. With a little work this could make a nice base, maybe even a nice place to live until he brought Kudih down. Just the thought of his name made J angry. He’d do everything in his power to stop him. He was too vindictive, almost insane for killing his fellow scientists. But J would avenge them all. But first he needed some sleep before his passed out. So J lay out on the worn-out couch. Pulled a musty blanket he found and fell asleep
J awoke with a cold sweat. A nightmare that’s all it was. Having armed men try to hunt him down and kill him was a nightmare but for J it was a reality. One he’d have to get used to. He was alone. No he wasn’t he had Mel. She could be trusted. I think she trusts me J said to himself. If I wanted to kill her I would have done it by now. She knows that. Mel was in the same boat he was, trying to escape. That girl could drive. The way she handled the Mustang was almost an art form. The way she drew her guns with lighting reflexes she could be a trusted ally when things turned rough. It wasn’t like he was defenseless. With the suit and a basic knowledge in unarmed combat he could take care of him self. I wonder what other talents Mel possessed.
She walked out of the bedroom with a yawn. She wore a simple T-shirt and sweats pants.
“Sleep well?” She said to J.
He nodded from his spot on the couch.
Melissa snooped around cupboards in the room.
“Is there anything to eat in this place?”
J still a bit shaken answered “Um, there might be a large crate of survival rations I the cupboard above you.” She opened it and pulled out a metal can and moved over to the table in the middle of the room .Mel dug a plastic spoon attached to the can into the grayish-pink meat. She clunked the can on the table. A motor in the table began to whir. A screen and a keyboard rotated out. The screen turned itself on. Mel pushed the ration can aside and began to type on the keyboard. Her small fingers moved nimbly across the keyboard. J moved over to the console. He was captivated by her computer skills.
She turned up to J as she stuffed the odd-colored meat into her mouth and swallowed, “Main computer terminal. I think I can hack into the database and maybe web reports.”
Clicking of keys went on for a few minutes. The main menu appeared on her screen. “Ha I did it.” She said triumphantly.
J peered over her shoulder. “Whoa. We have access to personal files, bank records and anything else we may need to know. Where did you learn to do this?”
Melissa smiled “ In collage, I was getting a computer degree. I got involved with some hackers; they showed me the ropes. With that knowledge I got a Ph.D.”
She leaned back in her chair and continued to eat away at the rations. J went over to the cupboard and opened up a ration tin of his own and took out a big chunk. He chewed it for a moment and swallowed hard.
“ This stuff tastes like leather.” J said in disgust.
“You better get used to it. From the looks of things it is all we have to eat” Mel responded. J forced himself to choke down another spoonful.
Mel changed the subject. “I’m going to have a shower, I saw one in my room.”
“I turned the water on yesterday. It should work.”
“Great.” She said as she turned and walked away.
J began to think about the modifications he could do with her bike. Maybe armor plating, faster engine. He could do it in a week, not hard. He heard the water turn on. That distracted him a bit. Thinking of her in the…No he couldn’t that. This was business. He went over to the case that he had fled with. He pulled out a mini-disk case and he moved over to the computer console. J found the mini disk slot and inserted the disk. It automatically brought up the Labs logo. He typed in his password. The wire frame design rotated on his screen. J took a quick inventory of the things he needed to build another one. To his surprise he had most of what he needed right here. The rest was probably lying around some wrecked tank in the street, Maybe a month’s worth of work. A form fitting jumpsuit, a refractor crystal, metal tubing. “I think she would like it.”
He said to himself.
J approached Mel with a black suit in his hands. Mel looked down at it and stared him back in the eyes. Those dark brown eyes that hid a wealth of intelligence and strength.
“This… for me?” Melissa said with surprise.
J nodded with a smile. She knew it was an ICS, as he called it. He had gone to the trouble of constructing one for her. She was touched. This would help her along with J eliminate the corruption of the police and restore proper justice to the Badlands.
She ducked into her room to put it on. Mel came out of the room with it on.
J walked over to the mustang.
“This is one feature I forgot to show you.” He said
He brought his right and left wrist together. He stood still for a moment and turned to the mustang. He bent down and picked it right off the ground over his head. J pressed it up and down a few times for measure. Then he gently placed on the ground. Again Mel was speechless. She just stared at the amount of weapons she held. She had glanced at the plans earlier but they never showed this. “You can wear it under anything.” J said. “The weapons will still come out unblocked.”
She felt so happy. Mel ran up to him an embraced him. She met his lips in a kiss. They held it for a handful of heartbeats. J thought to himself, Maybe being an outlaw has its perks
The End of Vol. 1
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