November 22nd, 2097
“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered, yet we have this consolation with us that the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph.” – Thomas Paine, as quoted by Tiffany ‘Mistyfast’ McGyver on the eve of their reckoning with Marshal Earl Gates.
CIT Underground Facility – Matter Transfer Relay Level
Science Tech Officer Tarkington checks his report over a second time to make sure the data is complete and ready for submission. Larson is next to him going over the previous shift’s MTR log when the almost silent “popping” sounds of multiple and unexpected “ITUs” suddenly fill the large chamber.
Slowly looking up, Tarkington glimpses, however briefly, the source of his life’s end, at the receiving end of an arrow delivered by a young girl around 12 year’s old, which is more than Larson can say, who only briefly looks over at Tarkington’s crumpled body before he too meets a swift, and silent end.
In the control room, Tech Office Moore tabs through the prior day’s Inbound Transfer Unit log, oblivious to the child’s undead eye’s peering around the corner from the adjacent hallway, thus also missing the delivery of a perfectly placed arrow into a very small ear canal, which he most assuredly would have appreciated had it not been his own brain pierced clean through.
“Droid, nice work hacking CIT’s transport relays and getting us inside their facility,” Paladin Danse says as they slowly advance behind the dead child, Lucy Abernathy. Danse has known Harrowed before, but he never got used to the idea that, quite simply, it’s the dead come back to life, by way of a demon who silently lurks somewhere in their subconscious, waiting to come forth at any time. Nope, he’s not ever going to be comfortable with that.
At least these Cyborgs, like Droid, have fail-safes put in place by scientists smarter than he, and less burdened by conscious. They say there is a “fetter” installed, to reduce the likelihood of this demon taking control of the corpse. It doesn’t matter to Danse. They are an abomination, and his life’s mission is eradicating all of them from the face of the planet.
But still…. These Cyborgs are somehow… different. They have shown loyalty, and compassion, far beyond the capacity he would have believed for these metal & gear walking dead. They are his last best hope in stopping the Combine’s plans of controlling the eastern side of the continent, and he has come to terms with that fact.
He was grateful he was able to get the Cyborgs to see his way of things, that CIT was not truly the last, remaining remnants of the US of A, but only the reign of terror by an unchecked Tyrant. They now understand that he alone is all that remains, at least on this side of the Mississippi, of the US military; and he wonders if he will be able to go through with his intention to order them all to remain and die when he blows this complex to hell.
CIT – Detainment Level
Franklin itches his perspiring scalp underneath the tight-fitting black hat that adorns his head. He hated how it trapped in the heat and made him uncomfortable. He dare not remove it, however. He has seen other’s try, only to have their heads go from sweating, to exploding. He’s even seen heads explode for doing nothing but taking a shit.
Apparently there is an acceptable fail rate on their implanted Headbanger Chip. Acceptable to Marshal Gates and his fucking Red Hat commanders. He was pondering this thought when Lucy Abernathy’s arrow found its home in his eye socket, promptly relieving him of any further discomfort.
Droid—left behind in the Matter Transfer level’s control room—was able to hack into CITs mainframe and systematically search for their captured friends, Rex and Elmo Maddox. Logs shown that they were medically treated and placed on the Detainment Level. It was a quick search to find the floor plan and route the rest of the team to the location. Only one black hat on detail, and he was quickly dispatched by Lucy. His friends now freed and fully armed, time to move on to objective 2.
Sammo radios in that he’s ready for directions to Marshal Earl Gates current location. A few broken firewalls later, Droid isolates the level and room number and communicates it to his unit.
It’s payback time.
CIT – Level 5, Marshal E Gates Quarters
How they keep thwarting his every move sits heavy on Earl Gate’s mind. It was his decision to trust Team A, and they betrayed him. It was so obvious, so logical, so… inevitable, that an empire of machines was the only way to save what was left of earth. How could they not see it!
General Throckmorton warned him not to have too much faith in her. Tiffany was always stubborn, but never stupid! His Syker powers are too powerful, he scoured her mind, chased down and destroyed all her lingering memories of their relationship, surely she doesn’t remember…
Is her hatred of me that strong?
He throws his glass of bourbon in a fit of rage, the polymer cup bounces off the window overlooking the concourse, splashing its contents across the glass. Falling back into his couch, Earl’s cybernetic eye twists, and zooms in onto one of the droplets of amber colored liquid as it slowly descends towards the floor.
Of course her anger is. How could it not be. I stole her child away from her. No mother forgets that.
He’s not sure how much time has passed, but the artificial daylight system appeared to still reflect late morning. He ran his hand across his bald head. Enough of this second guessing. Clearly Team A were flawed; damaged in the conversion. Her included. He always had higher hopes for Team B anyway.
I remember Nigeria too well.
His articulating eye snaps to attention and zooms in onto the stairway before he fully realizes what is happening. Somebody has entered his quarters and is coming down the steps.
“What the hell!” He sees a young child, holding a bow and arrow, slowly creeping down in the shadows. He concentrate but for a brief moment, and sends out psychic energy and blots his existence from all who could perceive him, and quickly moves towards the doorway.
Suddenly he’s struck by a blinding light and concussion, throwing him down. He pulls himself up and staggers towards the door that leads out into the hallway. The sprinklers and alarms fire off. He turns and see’s one of THEM at the bottom of the stairs.
I don’t believe it!
He turns right and hears the sound of a scattergun directly behind him.
Ha! Wrong way, Misty! I went right! I was always one step ahead of you my dear!
He glances back to see the medic, what’s his name, Rex was it? What is he doing? What does he have in his hands? His articulating eye zooms in and dread descends upon him.
A fire extinguisher!? Why in the hell would he carry a fire exting…
Foam and Co2 explode forth down the hall towards him, the gas enveloping him, particles of flame retardant clinging to him; revealing him. He turns to flee, while his cybernetic eye watches the rest of Team A flow out into the hallway, their guns aiming, watches as they fire, watches as he falls face first onto the low-pile carpet beneath him, unable to move.
No… this was not the plan. This cannot be how I end.
His consciousness fades as he watches as his ex-wife, Tiffany ‘Mistyfast’ McGyver, walk up and separate his head from his body, with a satisfying smile on her lovely, oh so lovely, face.
Amazing, how much she looks like our daugh..ter…
Laban checks his watch and does the math; on duty now 48 hours straight. He was breaking protocol and he knew it. He was feeling the aftereffects of the Brain Burst high he was riding during his overseeing what became a disaster at Hellstromme Industries plaza. He was starting to come down hard from it. He palms a few more pills considering another dose but thought better of it, and decides to go lay down for a while now that most of the action was over.
‘Parker, I’m going to turn the conn over…”
“Sir, we have a fire alarm on level 5 reported. Containment system is activated. Um, Sir, it’s Marshal Gates quarters.”
Laban processes this for half a second before responding, “Shit. Parker, who is on patrol on that level?”
“Davidson’s unit, sir. They are already in route.”
“Get me the Marshal on comm,” Laban demands.
“He’s not responding sir. Sir, look at monitor 3.”
Laban bends forward and stares at the flat screen. Several figures are moving through Gates living area towards an open doorway that led out into the hall. He flips to the hallway’s view, and his eyes harden.
“Lock down the lift system and deny all access to the Matter Transfer level! Now goddammit! I don’t want them escaping! And mobilize the Battlehounds, search and destroy protocol!”
Laban watches the figures move down the hallway towards the elevator, and towards his advancing men.
“Tell Davidson to stop there, and form up on both sides of the intersection, stagger formation.”
“Yessir. They won’t survive the crossfire, sir. No way.”
“These are highly trained cyborg killing machines, Parker. Don’t underestimate them”
“Surely not that fat one, sir?”
“Especially that fat one!”
Its over quickly. Black hat corpses litter the hallway and the Cyborgs continue moving, stopping than suddenly turning, now heading towards the downward ramp that leads to Level 1.
Why are they not heading towards the elevator and the to MTR level, now that Gates is dead? They must know they have to beat us there or we will lock it down.
Laban considers a moment and orders, “Pull up cameras from the Matter Transfer Relay control room.” A high angle view of a man in a battle suit, his mullet haircut protruding out from underneath his battlehelmet, appears on the screen, sitting in front of the master control panel. A body lay on the floor with an arrow sticking out of its ear lay nearby.
“Reroute a fireteam to MTR
, weapons hot! And where the hell is Mouse!? Get her ass here now!”
They weren’t here just for Gates. They want us all dead.
Laban tosses the pills down his throat and swallows hard.
“I want those Automatons online—and tell ‘Whisky’ and ‘Pound” I want them in position on level 1. Those cyborg bastards will never see them coming…”
TO BE CONTINUED IN SESSION 17!