Alice stormed into the Complex, suffering a headache and a bad temper. The guards hadn’t explained to her what was going on, which was what lead to the pain in her head. She had tried to make an escape which had caused one of her over protective companions to knock her unconscious. Alice awoke to find the guards were under directives from the Administrator himself. Even so, that didn’t make the kidnapping, or the feeling of her head splitting, justified.
The Liaison burst into the Hangar, taking control of the place as she had in the past. A scowl was already on her lips, which made quite a few people in the room stand stiffer, snapping to attention.
“You! Get the rig set up! Why the hell wasn’t it already prepped for me?” Alice shouted, her verbal assault, causing one of the men to scramble towards the rig that had been the woman’s for over a decade.
“S-sorry ma’am! Yes, yes ma’am! It’ll be ready in a jiff!”
“Damn well better be,” Alice growled. The Hangar’s disorder and the team not being ready for her was enough to give her a headache, if she didn’t already have one.
True to their word, the team resurrected her rig in short order, and Alice quickly shed her sweater, leaving her in only a tank top. Ports covering her arms were exposed, though the most crucial one was seen after Alice twisted the hair off of the back of her neck and pinned it up.
“Do it,” Alice leaned forward, and held out both of her arms.
The men hesitated, enduring a piercing glare from her before they continued. The rig was a harsh piece of equipment, one of its prices being unpleasant sensations during “the union”, a term that explained the melding of technology from the rig with the speed of a Liaison’s neurobiology. The men flinched more than Alice did, however, as each of the pressurized connections was heard clicking into place.
“Damn it Map, you started before me.”
The rig came to life, syncing with Alice, and she could see her Operative’s position as well as an enemy holding position in front of Map. Over her HUD, she could tell the creature was registering as a level two. The sensors detected shots fired, likely from Map’s rifle. The energy signature of the enemy had not lowered much, which made Alice mutter to herself. What followed was something that made her pause.
“No. I don’t believe it,” Alice spoke to herself. She was witnessing Map attacking the creature with a melee weapon, in close proximity of it instead of the ranged effort. Melee weapons would take more energy, especially the way he was attacking with that axe.
“Well that was stupid,” Alice spoke, opening her comm-link to Map.
“Got the job done. One down,” replied Map. Alice snorted at the response, not exactly approving.
“And how do you feel?” She tried to drive her point home.
Alice sighed. “I don’t need to remind you that you aren’t really up for this, do I? You keep up this pace and you’ll be lucky to take down another one. Let’s do this one like all the others. What do you see around you?” She had a shadow of the land over her HUD, and could use satellite links to guide him, however, Map’s eyes were invaluable in aiding his mission.
“Rubble mostly.” There was a pause before Map continued, “There isn’t a structure without damage. Is the whole area this bad?”
Alice scanned, her eyes flicking over the areas displayed. “Just about. It looks like they were out to cause as much damage as possible.” Buildings were toppled, rubble along streets. The area was unrecognizable as to what it had looked like before the attacks.
“What’s the analysis?”
Alice kept monitoring her HUD. The screens continued to update, the side of her displays a live-feed from the other stations within the Hangar, which sent all information they could gather for her. Her eyes narrowed at the response she had received from the team. “It’s an anomaly, but they don’t know what to make of it yet.”
“Trying to get our attention?”
The words flew out before she could stop them. “They did that by taking out Napkin.” Damn. She knew she shouldn’t have said that. Alice quickly continued, trying to move on from what she had just revealed. “We’re both in it now, time to do what we do. Finish your survey and get moving. You’ve been in one place too long.”
Alice performed her own appraisal, continuing to pay attention to the HUD and displays that fed the information from their team. She let out a whistle, looking over the destruction. Alice could only imagine what it was like to be there, in the middle of it all. She didn’t envy Map. Bodies littered the streets, twisted under the rubble of the city. None of the bodies gave off heat signatures. Corpses, all of them.
“Scan the hell out of that area!” She shouted in the Hangar, to the team, “We’re damn well not adding Map to that body count.”
Something spiked her energy readings. The temperature was rising close to his area. She let out a small sound, feeling extremely grateful that something was on their side. “Map, can you feel that?”
“Yeah, there’s a small fire not far from your location. It would be a good place to lay low – you’d be harder to find there.” It would also buy the team some time to try and gauge the creatures that were left, she thought to herself.
“How’s the assessment coming?”
“Slowly. A few things aren’t adding up,” Alice grumbled, still trying to piece together the puzzle she was given.
“Usually there’s a pattern,” Alice explained. “The creatures hit and cause a lot of damage until we stop them. There’s no target this time. Usually they go for a building or a specific block and the creatures are usually very similar.”
Alice continued, “Not only is this the largest attack we’ve seen, but it’s spread across the whole city and we’ve identified at least five specific types of creatures.”
“What’s it mean?”
Her eyes paused for a moment from the displays to look over the Hangar. Men were scrambling at consoles, and more poured in to help. “Not sure yet. They’ve called in everyone, this place is a zoo. For now, just head for the heat; southwest of your current location. Find a place and sit tight, I’ll get back to you when I find out more. Your landing and outburst caused enough of a stir for the platoons to get the evacuation finished. Whatever this is all about, you have a civilian-free city to work in.”
“Good to know. I’m heading towards the fire now – keep me posted. I don’t want to sit around too long and wind up a target.”
Alice faintly grinned at that. She had the same thought as Map before he had said it. “I hear ya,” she said before signing off. Map always seemed to appreciate it when she could give him some solitude, and she couldn’t blame him. Alice couldn’t recall the last time she had some privacy of her own. The Hangar was usually filled with personnel, and she was rarely anywhere else in the complex. Even so, Map was normally monitored at all times. Her thoughts focused back to the task at hand. The Hangar was chaotic, personnel filling it to the brim. Alice was waiting to hear some information on why the creatures had changed their tactics as she continued to monitor Map’s line.
Worry shadowed her features as she looked over the scans of the nearby terrain where Map was located. While Alice was proud that she was working with the best operative the program had ever seen, she worried that this time the mission may be too much for even Map to handle. She watched the blip on the display move towards the coordinates she had sent. Alice hoped the fire would do some good for Map, providing some safety to mask his heat signature.
“Hang in there, Map.” She murmured.
4 thoughts on “Beyond Termination – Part Three”
Alice continues to surprise me. For someone who thought they already knew this story, I’m glad to say there was more than I expected – and it’s good too. Exciting story so far. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Thanks! I’m hoping it makes a bit of difference, since the world and most of the conversations were written by you. This spin-off has been definitely interesting and something new for me to write, as I’ve never done something like this before.
I finally had a chance to read this set of stories but didn’t yet read Ben’s that these are based on. So, from that perspective, I can say that this works well as a stand-alone work. Each part so far has been sharply different in setting and tone without losing overall cohesion. I’ve enjoyed it so far and look forward to more.
Thank you very much for the comment and I am glad you have been enjoying the story so far! I’m also relieved to hear that it does indeed work well as a stand-alone work, for those that haven’t gone back and read the original story by Ben about this world.
Thanks again, and I hope you enjoy the next parts!