Tweet of the Day: The Artifice of the Pocket Sundial
Steiner-Satori Estate, 24km Southeast off Milgrom, Bekenstein, Boltzmann, Serpent Nebula, March 14, 2196
“Get down!” I pushed Mrs. Steiner to the ground. Autocannon rounds shattered the windows. Galeena erected a biotic barrier around us. It muffled the roar of the explosions that ripped the room apart. Galeena kneeled beside me, exhausted.
The door opened. A pair of mechs armed with M8 assault rifles fired long burst into the bodies on the floor. Fountains of blood erupted from them. I tried to hack one of the nearest mech with my omintool.
“Viral attack detected. Firewalls active,” it said. I stared up at the barrel of a gun.
“RAAAAAAAARRRR!!!!” Something slammed both mechs against the wall and ran past.
“Blood rage?” I asked Galeena.
“Blood rage,” she replied. Mr. Turok guttural roar reverberated throughout the house. She handed me one of the rifles from a defunct mech.
Malena Dantius rose to her feet. Blue blood oozed from her broken nose, “Are…are you alright?” she asked.
I helped Mrs. Steiner to her feet, “So far so good.”
Galeena crouched under the windowsill, “Sir, you better take a look at this.” I moved in a half crouch to her position. I took a peak. Troops deployed from a pair of gunships. I tried the com again, but no luck. “Platoon strength with air support.”
“And control of the security mechs inside,” I said, “Suggestions?”
“We can’t stay here, sir,” she said.
Mr. Turok would take down anyone or anything he encountered, but even an enraged Krogan was no match against a platoon backed by gunships.
“We need an exit strategy?” I said.
“All my Nezo aircars are armored and have kinetic barriers generators. I have two of them in the basement garage,” said Mrs. Steiner.
“That gives us a way out, if we can deactivate the mechs,” I said.
“All the security mechs are controlled from the central mainframe downstairs. I have the access codes,” she said.
“Galeena, take the ViPs to the garage, I’ll secure the main frame,” I said.
I engaged my tactical cloak and followed the path of destruction left by the krogan. Distant gunfire told me someone had their hands full.
Better them than me.
Two LOKI mechs guarded the door to the mainframe. I shifted to the Zone. A series of quick jabs with the electro-blades shorted the mechs out. One security code input later and I was inside the server room. I nearly tripped over the body dressed in catering uniform, pupils fully dilated. The server logs showed the last access five minutes ago followed by the activation of the fire suppression system, sans alarms. The inert gas snuffed the oxygen out of the room in seconds. I quarantined the intrusion VI in the system, copied it and rebooted the mech control software.
SECURITY REBOOT IN PROGRESS. FIFTEEN LOKI UNITS ACTIVE. NINE AERIAL DRONES ON STANDBY. SYSTEM PURGE COMPLETE. IFF RECALIBRATED. SELECT NEW IFF PARAMETERS. ENGAGE ALL EXCEPT IDSTIENER-IDTHOMPSOMRAMOS-IDGALEENAT’IALA-IDMALENADANTIUS-IDURDNOTTUROK.
With the mechs taken care off I headed for the garage. Galeena prepped one of the shuttles, a Nezo Gazelle-Z 2196. It had all the leather interiors, wooden trim and latest auto-nav systems that make the Gazelle series shine and I had no time to admire the craftsmanship. I punched the throttle the moment the doors opened. The Nezo slid under it with a few millimeters to spare.
“Galeena, contact headquarters, we need–” an explosion shook the shuttle.
“Kinetic barriers at forty-two percent,” announced the onboard VI in a sing-song voice reserved for elevators and fast food kiosks.
A gunship appeared on the rearview screen. I dove into a nearby construction site. Gunfire tore apart dry wall to our left. I careened through the skeleton of a skyscraper. Twin explosions pounded the shuttles hull.
“This is Captain T’iala to base. We are on a civilian shuttle under attack by an unknown gunship. Requesting immediate fire support,” said Galeena over the radio.
“Kinetic barriers at thirty-seven percent,” said the VI. I muted the audio. Nobody needed a reminder of how many percentage points stood between us and the grim reaper. Another gunship popped behind the first.
“Colonel, is that you?” asked Rodan over the radio.
“Affirmative, could you do something about our little problem,” I said.
“On it,” he said. The enemy gunship banked right. I swung the shuttle around to fly back to Milgrom when another gunship descended in front of us.
No place to run.
I switched all power to the thrusters.
“Galeena, barrier, now!”
Galeena’s biotic barrier engulfed the inside of the cabin. Rounds bounced off the shuttle’s nose. I rammed the side of the ship with a deafening screech of metal on carbon fiber armor. The world spun out of control. The shuttle crashed inside the fifth floor another unfinished skyscraper. My vision blurred. A spike of pain ran from elbow to shoulder blade. The shuttle doors opened. I fell out into the dusty floor. Every breath brought spasms of pain. I used the M8 as a makeshift crutch. Every single motion was rewarded with fresh waves of pain. A familiar shade darkened the sky. The enemy gunship was back. A long scar ran the side of the cockpit. Twin autocannons on the nose pointed at me.
Time for the last dance.
I balanced the rifle on the crook of my broken left arm.
“Come on you bastard, let’s do this!”
The gunship’s port nacelle disintegrated under a barrage of rocket fire. Thrust from the starboard side flipped the ship on its back. It crashed five stories below in a ball of fire.
“Sorry for the delay Colonel. Had to take care of a pesky bug. Evac shuttles are on….” Rodan words faded into darkness.