March 18, 2021
Kyle Jones crouched beneath his cloaking blanket outside of the Wright-State compound and watched his flexible vid-screen as the robot sentry moved closer.
He watched the sentry’s head turn and it was so close now he could hear the whirring sound of the servo motors that moved its head. The robot stared directly into the camera on the cloaking blanket and Kyle held his breath as he stared back into its red eyes on the vid screen. Red scanning lasers shot out of the robot’s eyes illuminating the morning fog and dancing over his cloaking blanket. Kyle jabbed a button on the vid screen and smirked. That’s right, ugly, chew on that data for a moment. Kyle knew the robot’s source code and he knew that deep inside an embedded chip within the robot’s brain there was a particular section of source code which took too long to run during scans. It was like taking too big of a bite. The robot would be delayed an extra two or three seconds. Not long, but long enough. Kyle jumped to a standing position his cloak falling behind him. He raised his left hand, pointing a 44 caliber top-vented revolver with armor piercing shells and fired it directly into the robot’s right eye. The robot’s head exploded and shrapnel bounced off Kyle’s face mask and vest. The android continued to stand on its broad feet as smoke floated out of the space where its head had been. Kyle kicked the android to the ground, flipped it over and tore its locator beacon off, threw it into the air and fired a shot into it blowing it to pieces.
“Area clear,” Kyle said into his headset. “We have about three minutes before the sentry is missed by the compound’s status checks. Richter, get us inside.”
Richard ‘Richter’ Darbin had already emerged from his own cloaking blanket and was running toward the steel door on the front of the compound. “Gotcha, chief. I’ll make short work of it.”
Richter slapped a wad of C4 on each of the three hinges, wired them up and yelled, “Take a knee fellas, she’s going to blow in 3...2…”
Kyle fell flat to the ground and covered his head.
“1…”, Richter said and then Kyle heard the click of the detonator button and felt the ground shake at the same time he heard the explosion. He lifted his head in time to see the door fall to the ground still smoking.
“Fast enough for you, chief,” Richter asked and smiled.
Kyle hopped up and slapped him on the back and ran through the door.
Richter followed and then asked, “How do you know where you’re going?”
“This is the old Rike building. My dad taught in this building and his office was in the basement.
"Must've been a troll like you," Richter said.
"Definitely was," Kyle said, pulled the pin on a flash bang, leaned into the door opening and chucked it in.
Both men turned their heads and heard the muffled sound of the flash bang detonation.
"After you, sir," Kyle said and pushed Richter in and jumped in after him.
They walked a few steps and saw two mangled robots that the flash-bang had obliterated.
"I like your ordnance, Richter. They come in handy. Now, follow fast," Kyle said and took off running.
They veered left down a dark hallway which ended with two doors. Kyle put his hand on the door knob of the left one and tried to turn it. "No one ever leaves anything unlocked any more. A real shame. I remember when everyone was neighborly and never a locked was used."
Richter took a look at the door. "This one opens in. No hinges here. He tapped the doorknob. "A little C4 there and on on the door and the latch mechanism will give way easy."
He dabbed it on and just as he was about to set the fuse, a skimmer-bot came flying around the corner and into their hallway. "I got this," Kyle said. "Finish up, fast." He pulled a shotgun off his back holster and fired at the skimmer-bot, but it flattened against the wall and escaped the shot.
"Going to play it the hard way, right, you little piece of crap." He fired the shotgun again and this time the skimmer moved and fired a corded dart at his legs. Kyle jumped out of the way and yelled at Richter. "What's taking you so long?"
"I'm ready to go but we've got to back up a few feet or the shrapnel will skrag us."
"not much space in here. Let me make some more. He cracked open the double barrel shotgun and slammed a shell into each of its chambers. "Take this, you beady-eyed little buzzard." He fired and missed, but he had expected that, because when the skimmer moved right so did Kyle.
But at that same moment Kyle pulled his warhammer off his thigh holster and slammed it down on the skimmer. Pieces of metal flew off the little bot and its two raised probes popped out and fell on the floor. The skimmer fell to the ground completely silent. "Duck, boss," Richter said and pushed Kyle to the floor at the same time he hit the detonator and the door blew wide open. Standing on the other side of door were three of the Red-Eyed monsters that Kyle hated so much.
The closest one fired a probe similar to the one the skimmer had just shot at him.
Kyle rolled right and grabbed the tether to the probe behind the deadly hook at the end.
Richter crouched. “I’d have been a goner if you hadn’t grabbed that.” Richter brought his own 44 caliber up and fired two shots. The shells hit the robot in the front in the chest unit and it exploded knocking the two behind it back.
“Nice,” Kyle said and yanked a pin from another flash-bang and hurled it into the doorway where the two robots bumped against each other. The flash-bang exploded and the two robots fell to the floor.
Richter tapped his mask over his eyes with two fingers. “These visors are fantastic. The tech reacts so quickly that you can see right through the flash. “Remind me to to thank Wilson later.”
Kyle nodded and stepped through the door-way. He kicked his way through the robot rubble. “With all these sentries this has got to be right,” he said.
“I agree,” Richter said. “This has got to be the place.”
Kyle took a few steps forward and saw a small window in the wall in front of him at about the same height as his head. He put an arm back and pushed on Richter, quietly telling him to stop moving. Kyle ducked his head and then eased up on the small window and peered through.
Kyle saw some small transport-bots carrying various items back and forth. Next he noticed a couple of humanoid robots working on building something he couldn’t see.
“What’s going on in there,” Richter whispered.
“Some kind of manufacturing facility.”
“Probably churning out more goodies to attack us with.” Richter pulled his 44 out of his holster. “Let’s get those monsters and blow up the whole she-bang.” He pushed forward and Kyle bumped the window and a dull thud sounded.
One of the robots looked up from his work at the table and looked directly at the window.
When he did, Kyle’s eyes met with the robots. “Wait a second,” Kyle said. “There’s something really wrong here.”
“Yeah,” Richter said. “That’s why I’m saying, let’s blow this up.”
“Hang on,” Kyle said. “That’s not a robot. Look.”
Richter pushed up to the window and saw the robot Kyle was indicating was now waving at something to his right.
“This is about to get real up in here,” Richter said. “A whole platoon of red-eyed nasties are coming our way.” Richter holstered his 44 and pulled out a huge wad of C4 ripped it into 5 pieces. “Help me wire them up,” Richter said and pushed a ball of wire at Kyle.
They stuck wires in and Richter added a connector tying them all together. “It’s wireless. Back down the hall, quick.” They both ran and fell flat to the ground. They heard the platoon’s clomping feet at the other side of the window.
“Now,” Richter yelled and press the button. A huge explosion ripped the entire wall apart and rubble flew in front of where Kyle and Richter crouched on the floor.
Kyle raised his head. “You okay?”
Richter pulled his 44 from his holster and fired. At the end of the hallway a robot’s head exploded as Richter’s shot hit the target. “Never better, friend.”
Richter stood up. “It looks like there are a couple more of those buggers in there.” He took off toward the hole the explosion had created. “Try to keep up, old man.”
Kyle jumped up and followed.
Richter leaned through the hole. “You’re not going to believe this.”
“What,” Kyle asked and jumped and peered through the hole.
“You were right,” Richter said. “Those weren’t robots. They’re human.”
“Hey, we can take you out of here,” Kyle yelled and the man in the lab coat turned his head very slowly toward Kyle.
“Something’s definitely not right,” Richter said. “He looks like he doesn’t mind being here. Look at how he’s just staring.” The man’s hand moved toward the computer on the desk in front of him.
Kyle saw Richter’s hand move toward his weapon.
“No, wait,” Kyle said. “You’re right. There is something wrong. He’s not speaking. Something is going on.”
Kyle jumped over the loose rubble and ran toward the man. He jumped over the desk the computer sat on and landed right in front of the man. The man did not move at all.
“Did you see that,” Kyle yelled back to Richter. “He didn’t even blink.”
Richter ran around to the left and came up behind the man. Kyle saw Richter looking at the back of the man’s head and frowning.
“What is it,” Kyle asked. “What’s wrong?”
“He’s wired. He’s got enough hardware coming out of the back of his neck to make a electric blender jealous.” Richter grabbed the man’s shoulders and gave him a spin to show Kyle.
“They’re making borgs,” Kyle said. “They’re going to use humans to fight humans now. Let me look at this. Maybe I can disable it without hurting him.”
“Uh, I don’t think you should mess with that, boss. It could have a self-destruct or something.”
Kyle heard the sound of a door open and a scuffling noise coming from the other hallway to his right.
Two people walked into the room along side a maintenance robot.
Kyle did not recognize man, but the woman who was walking on the left side of the robot he knew very well.
“No,” Richter said. “That’s not Mara.”
Kyle was almost in a trance. “Is that you?”
Richter shoved Kyle hard knocking him back into the computer desk. “Snap out of it. It’s not Mara, you loon.”
Kyle steadied himself and yanked his 44 from the holster, aimed and fired at the maintenance robot. The robot’s midsection exploded as the bullet ripped through it and the girl and man fell down next to it.
Kyle jumped over the desk and moved toward the girl.
“You are crazy, boss,” Richter yelled after him.
“I’m getting her out of here,” Kyle said.
“It’s not Mara and we didn’t get the plans yet.”