Hi everyone! Hope you are all well. I just celebrated my 34th birthday yesterday. Glenn and I went ice skating for the first time, then watched Disney on Ice – which, having tried it first hand meant we were fairly impressed (and watching their feet more often than not *lol*). It was a lot of fun, I just wish we had a better rink near us here in Wellington (the rink we went to was fairly dinky). So even with all that excitement I manage to bring you the next chapter 😉 Aren’t I good. This one might leave you screaming…. Here is Chapter Sixteen 🙂 Please remember this is a rough draft, and as the author I own FULL copyright to it. This work may not be copied/shared in any manner other than a link to this blog. Thanks and Enjoy!
Tangled growth marred the way and with gentle hands Ally eased a path through. The moment her head cleared the blanket of plant life she jerked it back smothering a gasp.
Idling only twenty meters or so away was a vehicle with four raiders in it.
Four, Ally thought with muffled panic, where the hell are the others?
Holding her breath, Ally moved ever so slowly forward again, until her eyesight was able to focus on the vehicle. Narrowing and widening her eyes briefly triggered her sight to adjust, her hearing intensifying.
‘Amico, tu excutiocussum le Promethians?’ called one of the men, causally sitting half out the vehicle one foot on the jungle floor, a net grenade lying across his thighs.
The language, a mix of Italian and ancient Latin struck home with Ally, as did the answering voice from right above.
‘Non ancora,’grunted a male in an obvious tone of frustration. ‘Divieto di ingressus’
Just stopped herself from jerking away and alerting them to her presence, Ally felt a tiny amount of relief at their obvious annoyance at not finding an entry way. But the sound of the door trying to close had caught their attention.
‘Riesci a audio quell sonitus?’
‘Si fermo!’ shouted the angry sounding male alarmingly close to where Ally hid.
‘Festinatio! Festinatio!’ the man in the vehicle shouted with a smirk and excessive gesture.
‘Fatuus! Zitto!’ snarled the one above Ally, his voice seeming even closer as he insulted the man in the vehicle, who simply laughed then made a rude hand gesture in reply.
The sharp scents of metal and blood made Ally’s nose twitch with a sneeze. She jammed her tongue against the back of her front teeth and squeezed her hands into tight fists, fighting the urge. It vanished into shock when the man above leapt down, hitting the ground close in front on her. The leap to the ground had to be a good ten meters but he landed solidly on the ground, the leg adaptions hissing and sighing as the hydraulic cylinders within the coiled mass of metal adjusted to the weight changes. Seconds later with a long hiss from the cylinders he rose back to normal height and stomped over to the vehicle. From where she stood Ally could see the dark blood seeping at the edges of the fittings near the top of his thigh, where the remaining flesh and metal melded. The slightest sweet touch to his scent warned of infection along with the arid stench of hydraulic fluid. Ally licked her lips, tasting the scent and clenched her hands tight again to stop a shudder of revulsion.
She didn’t want to risk moving quite yet.
The idling engine ramped up a notch and the snub nosed solid front with viciously spiked maw of a grill began to vibrate, the metallic rattle humming through Ally’s teeth. As she watched others came running, piling in to the open sides, held in only by the steel wrapped tubes of glittering solar liquid that wrapped around the length of the vehicle, scooting under metal covers and reappearing, zigzagging over the partially open roof before vanishing beneath the solid front.
These raiders clearly had access to impressive funds. Ally chewed her lip while watching them bring the massive wheeled buggy around.
Another figure appeared, dressed in the leather armor like the others, the stains of blood dark on the tan leather. It didn’t appear this one had any adaptions but he shouted and waved, a small black communicator box held to mouth before he shouted to the others as he reached the buggy. ‘Gli altri hanno iniziato sulla januae!’
Ally’s understanding of the Italian/Latin blend was fairly good and those words made her turn ice cold in an instant.
They’d found the other entrance. They were working on the huge door.
Backing up with the lightest step she could manage, Ally kept her eyes locked on the vehicle until it vanished with a roar, driving up and over the tunnel.
Pivoting, she bolted.
The tunnel felt painfully long as Ally sprinted along its length. The sound of her breathing, steady and strong, provided a constant rhythm to her mind helping her to keep focused.
Could they cut through the door at the end? She knew the titanium alloy would be more difficult than probably anything the Raiders had encountered before, but their vehicles suggested they were well equipped and that, in turn was another concern.
Raiders were humans who chose to live apart from normal human society. Some scavenged for materials and made a living from selling the desired materials back to the cities and towns of humans, others robbed the cities and towns, taking what they liked. Others still chose to solely hunt Promethians. The money to be made off a single Promethian’s blood was excessive and fleeting. Blood, unless carefully contained, wouldn’t last long, and in turn the nano-virus, dependant on the high production of megakaryocytes natural to Promethians, would die out within a week in a human body.
But those raiders she’d seen, those adaptions. They had to be some of the most extreme. Where, and who would do such things. They must have found a human lab, Ally thought while considering it all again. Or at least stumbled across an old medical centre.
Someone else in their village, a scientist like Eoin, had stumbled upon such a centre once. Preserved beneath the smothering ruins of ancient enormous towers, the centre had flared to life as soon as the scientist entered. By the time they’d brought a team back to examine the centre all that was left were the smouldering remains. Raiders had cleared out everything they could and destroyed the rest. A devastating end to what had been the find of a lifetime for the scientist.
The soft echo of her steps grew louder and Ally realised she’d reached the end of the tunnel, the massive spiral door shut tight. Stopping, she stood still, staring at the door and relaxed, letting her hearing expand.
The soft hum of the tunnel’s power system was audible, and the nosier hum of the lights overhead. Breathing as quietly as she could, she walked softly across the dirt packed floor of the tunnel to the door, and gently laid her hand against the cool metal.
The shriek of metal grinding against metal caused Ally to jerk back into a protective stance, eyesight sharpening in readiness.
The screeching protest of sound continued along with another sound, water. Ally realised those on the other side of the door were having to keep a constant flow of water to cool the blade to stop it from breaking. Wincing at the awful sound, Ally made herself get closer, narrowing down where they worked at. It sounded like they were trying the very center of the door. Listening carefully she very gently tapped the door, flinching as she did. The screech continued, her tap going unnoticed by them but telling her enough. They’d barely made a nick in it yet. The sound difference was so slight.
Stepping away from the door, she took a breath and rolled her shoulders, thinking through her options.
At the rate the raiders cut they’d take a day to cut through. All she had to do then was pry Eoin away from the lab as soon as possible, and they’d have the best possible head start. The other door concerned her, but the heavy growth around it had shown it was almost invisible. As long as they stayed focused on the door here, then Ally had the perfect getaway route.
Just need a vehicle, she thought and broke out into a run, darting back along the tunnel till she thought she’d reached the spot. Waving her hands near the wall of the tunnel, she made a noise of satisfaction at the sudden glowing appearance of the remote. Hand on it, the doors slid open, lights flicking on revealing the three vehicles inside. Stepping into the room Ally said, ‘Mechanic! We require terrain vehicle three, instruct me on how to ready it!’
The bio printer hummed then uttered a short treble note before the sound of something glass-like dropped into the hatch. Eoin stared at the clear tube of liquid sitting beneath the clear flap. It felt then like the absolute worst idea in the history of bad ideas. Attempting to re-create something that had taken what he could only guess would have been decades, perhaps even a century’s worth of work, in just a few days with no time whatsoever to allow for stringent testing.
Time felt slow and fast as he stared at that tube and its innocuous looking liquid, thoughts fighting to be heard in the chaos of his mind.
If he’d got anything wrong, if any of the genetic instructions created a different result to his predicted outcome the results could, in fact likely would, be fatal.
Slowly he reached down and lifted the flap then gently removed the tube. The instant its weight left the hatch a drawer slid open beside Eoin. Nestled inside its form fitting foam cut-out lay a hydro-spray gun. Lifting the device out, he slotted the tube into it, the gun hissing as it locked it in. Footsteps gave him the briefest of warning before Ally burst through the door, making a neat leap down the first then the second short stretches of stairs, stopping beside him seconds later.
‘They’re working on the tunnel door. It’ll give us more time. Are you ready, how’d it go?’
Her words tumbled out as Eoin stared at her, uncertain of his own.
‘I .. uhh .. it’s.’ Eoin swallowed. ‘It’s done. But I have no way of testing it. Without Holi to run her diagnostics I can’t check it.’
Ally stared at him, her eyes calm. That trusting expression made him blurt it out.
‘I’m testing it! Not you. I can’t risk it. I don’t know-‘
Ally, without the slightest change in expression snatched the hydro-spray gun from his hand, pressed it to her neck and said, ‘Hope there’s enough for two.’
Before Eoin could knock it away she’d pulled the trigger. Seconds later he felt the cold sting against his extended wrist. His gasp of astonishment hadn’t even escaped his lips.
With an arch of her eyebrow, lips twisted in a half smirk, Ally said, ‘Marriage. We’re in this crazy shit together.’
He managed a nod even though his gut twisted in anxiety.
‘Now! What are you taking? C’mon, lets get out of here!’
Eoin pointed at the microscope which Ally grabbed as he said, ‘The ‘scope, I thought it would appease your father. I’ve got a bag in the room and that’s it.’
‘Grab your bag! Let’s go! I’ve got something to show you,’ Ally called as she ran back up the stairs, the bulky microscope in her arms.
Taking a moment to breathe, Eoin stood in the middle of the lab and slowly turned around, staring at the space and committing all the incredible pieces of equipment to memory.
The greatest discovery he’d ever made, and he had to leave it behind.
The vehicle sat just out the front of the garage, a long way to carry the heavy microscope but Ally was so amped with adrenalin she didn’t notice. The sound of her footsteps on the dirt seemed oddly loud, but she ignored it, so focused on the task. Reaching the terrain vehicle, she set the microscope gently on the ground and motioned the door to open, clambering in and peering over the seats. With a grumble under her breathe she turned back to the dash, holding her hands over it to make the controls appear. Scanning the options, she tentatively swiped it to the left, making a variety of lit images flash past. The mechanic had instructed her on how to operate the vehicle, but it still felt totally foreign compared to the wide wheeled LENR vehicles back home. Too small, too compact, and far more complicated.
Finding a control that gave her access to the back, she pressed the command. The back of the vehicle slid open. Scrambling out the front, Ally zipped around to the back and examined the open space. She needed to wedge the microscope in if it where to survive the trip home. Fabric wadded beneath one of the front seats caught her eye and she reached for it. When she spread the smooth thick fabric out it formed a large square with bulgy sides. A little more examining revealed a plug. Ally gave the cord attached to it a quick tug while peering at the pictograms on the tag attached to the plug. Hissing, the square began to fill with air, the sides popping up and filling out until it formed a firm box. With a grin Ally turned to lift the microscope into the cube, gently lowering the weight while clenching her teeth, hoping the weight wouldn’t be too much. It settled in nicely and she wedged the cube behind the seats then climbed over into them. Bringing the controls up again, she got comfortable in the seat then tentatively set the vehicle in motion. The forward motion instantly gave her a thrill of delight but she resisted increasing the speed, not wanting to push it too soon. The terrain vehicle trundled along, the sound of its airless tyres on the soft dirt a constant murmur.
A rumble beneath, that seemed to echo through the vehicle made Ally hit the red marked STOP button and leap out the machine. Seconds later the tunnel shuddered with the muffled sound of an explosion.
Ears ringing, Eoin rolled onto his back, the flash of the explosion still blinding his vision. His body ached but he could feel the rushing sensation of stimulants through his system as his nano-virus reacted to the external stimuli. Mind still a muddled mess, Eoin felt a brief sense of gratitude that it at least was still working; can’t have screwed it up completely, he thought in relief.
The feeling was short lived.
‘Promethian!’ bellowed a deep threatening voice. ‘Sei mortuus!’
It didn’t matter the language “you’re dead” always managed to sound as threatening as intended. Shoving to his feet, Eoin staggered while blinking rapidly, taking stock of the scattered bodies around him. One, oh, and two definitely dead. Three, four-
‘Adesso sì che ci siamo!’
The voice right behind him made Eoin swing an arm out in defence, knocking down the human who’d just attempted to grab him. Before he could swing back a heavy weight struck him mid-back and he fell to his knees. Seconds later he heard another voice snarl, ‘Bastardus!’ then a blinding CRACK hurled him into blackness.
Minutes, or maybe only seconds later, he couldn’t tell his head ringing and neck aching from the blow, Eoin opened his eyes.
Ally stood twenty metres or so from him, her beautiful violet eyes shockingly wide and unblinking. Eoin went to move then realised they had him pinned, two on either side, another two with net guns trained on Ally and another two held stun guns at the ready. Realising he couldn’t see the other four Eoin struggled, trying to twist his head to see them.
An enormous spread of a hand settled firmly around the base of his neck. Eoin’s skin prickled with alarm and he opened his mouth, eyes on Ally.
The shout broke of in a gurgle of blood as the other hand, fisted tight around a long sharp silver spout, slammed the device directly into Eoin’s jugular.