Prime Mover

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cadbrowser
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Prime Mover

Post by cadbrowser » 2014-06-03 11:01am

I am re-posting my original fiction due to a few rewrites, incorrect thread creation, and other stupid mistakes with the blessing of a moderator. This time, the chapters will be in order and the title of this thread will reflect the name of the web-serial as intended. I have rewrote Chapter 1 from the original and salvaged parts to create a new Chapter 2. I have also moved Chapter 3 to Chapter 5 (as now I will be making every 5th chapter an origin story of one of the characters). I will be working on formatting and posting the rest of the ten chapters this week as time allows.

Thanks

Chapter I - Inception


Cadence looked up, closed the folder, and slid it back across the table. With a stern look she declared, “Not interested.”
*Twenty-Four Hours Ago*
“Theme music is playing, places everyone. We go live, in 5…4, ” the camera man finished the count down using his fingers and then pointed to the host as the camera went On Air.

A baritone, articulate voice announces, “Welcome to another edition of Good Morning World with your host Dayden March.”

“Good morning, and thank you for joining the show! Dayden March here broadcasting live with Pulitzer Prize winner Doctor Cadence Elizabeth Alkum, for her non-fiction work entitled To Boldly Go, a scientific and philosophical look into space colonization. Good Morning Doctor Alkum!”

“Good Morning Mrs. March.”

“Thank you for being on the show with us today.”

“Thank you for having me.”

“It is our pleasure. Please, introduce the listeners and watchers as to who Doctor Cadence Elizabeth Alkum is.”

“I grew up with a pair of loving scientist for parents. My mom was a biology major, and my dad was a civil engineer. So academia was very important to them while growing up. Early on, they established that love and thirst for learning in me. I graduated High School when I was sixteen and began touring the world to find a college that I wanted to attend. Well, during that time-frame, tragedy struck and I lost my family in a gruesome accident.”

“Oh, how awful! All of them?”

“Yes, all of them. Father, Mother, and two younger brothers. I was crushed.”

“I am so sorry.”

“Thank you.”

“Can you give us any details?”

“I’d rather not, as I mentioned it was a gruesome accident.”

“I understand Doctor, please continue.”

“Thank you…one moment please…”

“Take your time.”

Cadence reached for a box of tissues that the show’s director had popped in on camera to place them on the turquoise coffee table, and quickly disappeared. She dabbed her eyes and then took a deep, cleansing breath.

“As I was saying, I was crushed, hurt, and lost. It took me some time to get my head right. A friend of my father rescued me and helped me find my footing. He is like a godfather to me. I owe him so much. He encouraged me to enlist in the Armed Forces where I served for six years.”

“May I ask what branch of service?”

“It was the Marines.”

“What did you do for them?”

“I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”

Both Cadence and Dayden laughed heartily.

Cadence continued, “No, seriously though, I was the first female to become a member of the Marine Raiders, a special forces unit.”

“Wow, so you’re the one. I remember reading about you. When you go stirring in a nest of bees, you really know how to piss them off don’t you? So, why did you quit?”

“Yes, I was that one. You’d be surprised how hard you can push yourself when a bunch of old, crusty, white men sitting behind their desks, pushing pencils, tell you that you can’t do something. In covert ops’ time, I was getting old. I paved the way for other women, so they wanted a newer, fresher face. It was ok, I left my mark. However, I was missing something in my life.”

“Oh? And what was that?”

“That thirst for knowledge that my parents instilled in me. So after my military career ended, I had enough credits accumulated to start looking for a college…again. I decided to stay stateside and so I graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology summa cum laude with a dual doctorate, one in Biological Engineering and the other in Materials Science.”

“Boy Cadence, you don’t like to do anything unless you go all out!”

“It is in my nature, I guess.”

Dayden turned to look at the camera, “We’ll be right back.”

“Two minutes all!” The producer shouts.

“I have got to say Cadence, I admire you. You are an incredibly interesting woman. I would love to do a special segment with you and explore more of your history of when you were in the military. Do you think you’d be available for something like that?

“I’m fairly busy, but I will get with my assistant and have him get with your producer to see what we can come up with.”

“I appreciate that. I think it would make a really great segment.”

“Back from commercial in 5…4…”

“Welcome back to the show. I am Dayden March, and with me here is Doctor Cadence Alkum; scientist, veteran, inventor, and author. If you are just joining the show, Doctor Alkum was giving us a brief overview of who she is. She lost her parents as a teenager, joined the Marine Corps and served with the special ops division, and after that, graduated from MIT with a double doctorate. So please, Doctor, continue.”

“Well, after I graduated from MIT, I was able to start my own company, BioMed Research Center, here in the Midwest. Things were looking pretty bleak after the first year. We were close to bankruptcy. A lot of money was spent on Research and Development, however we’d not had any major breakthroughs. We were getting by assisting a few pharmaceutical companies with testing of new drugs.”

“How did you pull your company out of the fire, so to speak?”

“The Gossamite Strand.”

“What is that?”

“Well, essentially it is a bio-synthetic derivative of the Darwin’s Bark Spider’s silk. It is one of the Holy Grails of material scientist abroad. It is twice as tough as any other spider silk and ten times tougher than Kevlar. When combined with other natural or artificial fibers, it has a wide range of versatility.”

“That almost sounds too good to be true.”

“At first, there was a huge caveat to the material. We could only produce small microscopic samples. As further development progressed, it became easier to scale. We now supply safety vests to local law enforcement, and full body suites to hospitals, prisons, and more. In fact, starting next year test runs will begin for the automotive and aeronautical fields. I have a team of good men and women exploring a wide variety of markets.”

“Congratulations, I guess are in order for reaching that milestone.”

“Thank you.”

“So, how does all of this, encourage one, such as yourself, to write a book?”

“Since I was a little girl, I would look up at the night sky. Usually after the family would watch our favorite science fiction shows with space travel, meeting other alien species, and the like. I wanted to travel into space and do those things. However, as I learned more and more about it, the possibility of this happening in my lifetime seemed non-existent. This admiration of outer space inspired me to take a closer look at the challenges, both from an engineering perspective and an ethical perspective. So, i decided to write a book about it.”

“I enjoy those shows too. Sometimes the techno-babble is a little over my head, but I manage.” Dayden let out a bashful snicker, Cadence smiled. “If you can, Doctor Alkum, please share with the rest of us, briefly, some of the hurdles humanity must overcome to make this dream a reality; when we return, right after these commercials.”

“Four minutes, thirty seconds everyone.”

“Please excuse me Doctor Alkum, I need to make use of the restroom.”

Cadence sat there, surprisingly relaxed. She usually didn’t do very well in front of large audiences. Today seemed different, she reasoned, most likely that it was due to the subject matter. A nice looking young man, fit, with sweeping blonde hair, jogged up to her and offered her a bottled water. She thanked him, took the bottle, and he nodded his head and hurried back off the set.

It wasn’t long before Dayden returned from the restroom. They sat there for a few moments, idly chit chatting about non-show related things.

“Ninety seconds, and we’re back on air!”

Several crew members rushed onto the set, re-applying make-up as needed to both host and guest.

“Coming back from commercial in 5…4…”

“Welcome back. I am here with Doctor Alkum, author of To Boldly Go, a journey for humanity into space. Before we went to commercial break, Doctor Alkum was about to give us some brief overviews of the challenges that lie ahead for conquering the final frontier. Doctor, if you please?”

“First of all, the biggest issue mankind faces is that the universe has a lot of space. Take for instance Sol, our sun. It takes light, which travels at roughly 186,000 miles per second, about eight minutes to reach Earth. A space probe, traveling at a comfortable 38,000 miles per hour would take almost four months.”

“Well, that doesn’t seem too bad.”

“It gets worse, really quick. Let’s take our nearest star, Alpha Centari. It is located approximately 4.3 light years, or 25.6 trillion miles away. That means when you look up at the night sky and see that star, you are looking at it four years ago. Now, take that same space probe I mentioned before? Well, it would take about 70,000 years to get there.”

“Wow, I see what you mean now. So, how does humanity conquer this hurdle Doctor Alkum?”

“There are many theories attempting to tackle this issue. Unfortunately, there is no way to even test these ideas just yet. I could go on for hours explaining, but I don’t think you have time for that.”

“No, Doctor Alkum, we certainly don’t. For now then, this is just a big unknown?”

“Correct. Plus, it really isn’t my area of expertise. Small steps, Dayden. We must first be able to maneuver around in our own solar system and start mining other planets, asteroids, and such. What is good to note is that technology for space craft engines has developed enough to allow shorter travel times to the objects of the Inner Solar System. In future decades, I am positive those lengths will shorten to include planets of the Outer Solar System as well.”

“We do have a mining colony on the moon!”

“That is a small start. Keep in mind, no humans are there. It is all run by the Joint Unification of Space Agencies or JUSA, with specially built iSABs called RoboNauts. In fact, do you realize that it has been almost 100 years since one of us has set foot on the moon?”

“Actually, no. I hadn’t realized it had been that long. Why?”

“A few reasons. One, the benefit to humanity as a whole was not able to be realized until several decades afterwards, by then, most of the world lost interest. There was a time when astronauts were as famous as any rock star or comic book character. Now, with the world population hanging around 10 billion, we need to look beyond the confines of our home world to continue to survive. Earth’s resources are limited, and if something cataclysmic should happen here on Earth…all of us eggs won’t be in one basket. Two, the human body is just not equipped to handle prolonged living anywhere but where we are now.”

“Because of radiation, micro-gravity causing bone and muscle loss, and other things like that, right?”

“Yes, that is right Mrs. March. The third reason is sheer cost.”

“What do you mean?”

“Currently, for the price of one human to send to the moon, ten RoboNauts instead can go, and end up doing more than forty times the work. Humans need life support systems, radiation protection, water, food, multiple safety back up systems, and the list goes on. Plus, over a relatively short time frame the micro-gravity effects of space, and the moon, it ends up becoming detrimental to the human body.”

“Doctor Alkum, in your book you said, and I quote:

Humanity’s greatest liability is also its greatest asset.

end quote. When we come back from commercial break I would like for you to elaborate a bit on that passage.”

“I would be happy to.”

“We’ll be right back after these messages.”

“Three minutes everyone.” The producer sounded over the set intercom.

Cadence stretched a bit in her orange armchair, stood up and then walked to the restroom. A vibrating sensation buzzed her left hip. It was a text.

Appointment set, tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. with General Blake.

It was just the automated scheduling application. She clicked the “ok” button and returned the phone to it’s holder. She returned to the stage and sat back down. The director announced that they were returning from commercial and the camera man did his countdown.

“Thank you for joining us. Doctor Alkum, when we last left off I’d asked you to elaborate on a passage from your book.”

“Yes you did. The passage you asked about was, humanity’s greatest liability is also its greatest asset.”

“Correct.”

“Well Dayden, as you and the viewers may or may not know, Homo sapiens sapiens have been around for a mere blink of an eye; from a geological perspective. I…”

“Pardon me, but what is Homo sapiens sapiens?”

“Oh, that is the scientific name for modern humans. We are the only surviving species of our genus that has been around for less than 200,000 years. Yet, in the last few millennium, our rate of adaptation and increased intelligence has put us on par with mother nature.”

“On par with mother nature?”

“Yes, on par. What other species you know of that can move mountains, change river paths, alter weather patterns, or go to the moon? No other species on this planet has accomplished what we have. Our progenitors have had an upwards of several million years to do something similar…there is just no comparison.”

“So, are you saying that our evolution is our greatest liability and asset?”

“Almost, Dayden, you are very close. I am specifically referring to our DNA. The liability lies in the fact that cosmic radiation, chemicals, and other phenomenon can damage it, giving us cancer and other maladies. The asset comes from our ability to use the brains that nature gave us, evolution perfected, to be able to combat these life ending scenarios. The information is already there, encoded into our genetic make up. I just have to find the right combination and turn it on.”

“I’m not sure I follow, Cadence.”

“What if, the human genome could be rewrote to allow self powered flight?”

“Wait, wait, wait…You mean, humans with wings? Like mythological Angels?”

“No, more like larger versions of bats. What if, the human genome could be rewrote to allow regrowth of lost limbs and nerves, an epidermal mutation that absorbs radiation and then sheds, or even ages in the tens of thousands of years?”

“Hold on Doctor Alkum. What makes you think this is even possible? It sounds like the crazy theme to a science fiction horror movie!”

“More than ninety-eight percent of our DNA is non-coding. Some of that is junk DNA which serves no identifiable use, and the remaining has been found to have minor functions. It is within this junk DNA that we can possibly manipulate it to find a function, or discover a prehistoric use from a distant evolutionary ancestor that could increase our fitness and survivability.”

“An interesting and noble idea. Are there any repercussions from playing with DNA like you are proposing?”

“Of course there are. Within nature, most mutations are either benign or harmful. It is an extremely rare occurrence to have a mutation that turns out beneficial to a given organism. Humans have been manipulating the gene pool for well over five millennia through a process known as artificial selection.”

“Right, that is how we get cows that produce more meat per head, wheat to thrive in the desert, different dog breeds, and et cetera.”

“Correct! As you can probably figure out, that sometimes the artificial process can be flawed, turning out unpleasant or unwanted results. Nature generally takes care of those. They simply die off due to the artificial mutation being harmful to the organism on the whole.”

“Of course, that makes sense. What process are you utilizing to research and manipulate the human DNA?”

“Unfortunately, I cannot share that information as it is proprietary and still in the preliminary stages of development. What I can tell you, is that after several failed attempts, it looks like we are starting to see some promising results!”

“You have a flying baby?”

“Ha ha ha, no. Nothing like that. We are just scraping the tip of the iceberg for modifying animal DNA so far.”

“Well, you certainly have some lofty goals and ideas there. All of this to help humans reach the point where space colonization becomes a reality?”

“Yes. You see, by altering the human DNA, we can select genes that allow humans to better adapt to a wide variety of hazardous environments, including other moons and planets. It also has implications for improved worldwide medical care. Imagine never having to receive implants for defective organs, or accidental amputations…”

“You will be putting a lot of the cybernetic industry out of work if this succeeds.”

“Well Dayden, I guess they will just have to learn how to adapt or go extinct.”

“Corporate selection?”

Both Dayden and Cadence laughed.

“Clever, very clever Dayden.”

“Thank you. Well, that is all the time we have for this segment. I want to thank you Doctor Alkum for joining us and telling us a little bit about your book. Hopefully we can have you on again soon.”

“You are welcome, I enjoyed being here with you today.

Theme music plays again, camera zooms in to Dayden.

“When we come back, Intelligent Synthetic Autonomous Beings, can they really become sentient? Or is it all a hoax? Stay tuned.”
*Twelve Hours Later*
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” She sighed out loud.

“To what would you be referring to Doctor Alkum?” a brassy, monotone voice replied.

“The Moon, Johnny. Just look at it!” Her hands sprang up and outward. “I love it when it gets like this.” She answered placidly.

Soft mechanical noises whispered from Johnny’s limbs as he walked across the office and around the large, wooden, antique desk. His motions were fluid enough, for a machine that is. Johnny was a lot shorter than Dr. Alkum; a humanoid, slender, no bigger than a small adult. His carbon fiber frame was covered in a soft, firm silicone. Johnny stopped at the window and looked up at the night sky.

“How do you know what beauty is, Doctor Alkum?”

“Beauty is the personal attribute of an object or idea that stimulates the senses, eliciting a chemical response that produces endorphins in the brain exciting the pleasure centers.”

“I have sensors. I have a quantum positron matrix. I have synthetic chemical reactions. These appear to be parallel functions. I still do not detect beauty.”

“You are a machine, Johnny. You are limited by your hardware and software. It affects us humans on an emotional level, something which you are incapable of experiencing.”

“I do not understand.”

She turned her body to him and placed her hand on his shoulder.

“In time you will.”

He turned his head and looked at her hand. He then looked up and found her face, his head slightly tilted. She was still looking out at the moon.

“You are beautiful?”

She smiled and turned her eyes to meet Johnny’s featureless face. It was against the law for iSABs to have human faces, with the exception of certain classifications. No eyes, no ears, no nose, and no lips. Most, were just a blank semi-rigid cover.

“Not as a priori, no. Some have expressed that opinion; others, not so much.”

Johnny’s questions were often that like that of a child; curious, simple, and yet sometimes incredibly deep and complex in the responses required to answer them. The technological advances leading up to 2062 provide iSABs with the ability to function as an expert in the areas to which they were designed, very similar to the industrial robots of old. However, an antique technique recently refined, requires robots, like Johnny, to learn just like any natural animal. Through a mix of trial, error, and sometimes instruction, they acquire knowledge via life’s experiences.

Cadence turned away from the window and returned to her desk. There was a few reports from Research and Development that required an overview and signatures. She removed a small memory cube from its protective case and slipped it into the reader. Johnny turned and began walking back to his terminal.

He paused while passing in front of the desk, “Doctor Alkum?”

“Yes, Johnny.” She answered without taking her eyes off the computer screen.

“Did the Moon lose the beauty it held?”

“No, I just have a few more reports to review before I can call it quits and go to bed.”

“What attribute does the Moon have that makes you consider it beautiful?”

“Well…” she rapped on the keyboard, and clicked her mouse a few times, “you might think that it would be the effect it has on our oceans, the powerful tidal forces pulling and pushing. Or, others would say the Moon’s beauty lies in how it reflects the Sun’s light when it is full. For me though, it is more of a promise to fulfill a dream. Ever since I was a little girl I desired to command a spaceship and visit other astronomical objects, like in those science fiction movies. You’d think, by now, our species would have at least began colonization of the Moon. Humans haven’t been back there for almost a century.”

“Others like me, specialized, have begun to colonize the moon.”

“True, however, it took most of the global economy to work together for several decades to establish a robotic mining and exploration colony on the Moon. I want to go there, to visit the site where Neil Armstrong left his footprints. The biggest problem is Humans. We are quite fragile creatures. Time is not our friend.”

Johnny stood there for a moment calculating, reviewing previous space missions, cost analysis, and human lifespan studies. Cadence continued reviewing the reports. After several minutes of quietness, save for the noises of mouse clicks and button pushing, Johnny spoke up again, “Doctor Alkum, by my analysis, it appears that humans may never go beyond the Sol solar system.”

“If I have anything to do with it, we will.”
*Now*
The black limousine toting small American flags just behind the head lamps and a white licence plate with four gold stars, came to a stop in front of the thirty story biomedical research facility. It was a relatively small building when compared to the larger skyscrapers in the area. The driver, in dress greens, stepped out of the car and walked around to the passenger side rear door and opened it, immediately standing at salute. A stout, silver-haired man with wrinkled leathery face stepped out of the vehicle. He immediately saluted the driver and stepped quickly through the decorative courtyard to the entrance.

He paused to give the automatic rotating door a chance to allow him to step through. He removed his cover as he entered the building. One hand was secured by handcuffs and chain to a small silver briefcase. His shoes, black and highly polished, clicked with determination as he strode across the ceramic tiled floor to the information desk. The receptionist sat there busy with switchboard operations; putting people on hold, transferring others to different departments, and establishing conference calls.

She held up one finger in his direction as her other hand pressed a flashing red button, “BioMed Research Center. How may I direct your call?” She looked up and smiled, in a pained rescue me way. “One moment please while I transfer you.”

“Good morning, sir. Welcome to BioMed Research Center, how may I help you?”

“Good Morning, I have an ap…”

She held her finger up again and huffed, “BioMed Research Center. How may I direct your call?” She shrugged her shoulders, offering the man an apologetic look. “I’m sorry ma’am, but he is in a meeting, I will put you through to his voicemail, thank you.”

“I’m sorry, it has been a crazy morning already. You were saying you had an appointment?”

“Yes, with Doctor Cadence Alkum.”

“Your name sir?”

“General Blake.”

She held her finger in the air again. He looked around ignoring the interruption. She returned her attention to him.

“General…Blake was it?” He nodded with an impatient glare. She ran her fingers over the keyboard. “Ah, yes sir, here you are. Eight o’clock appointment. If you would care to take a seat in the lounge, there is fresh coffee and fruit in there. I will fetch security and have you escorted to the conference room where Doctor Alkum will meet you.”

“Thank you.” The General’s shoes clicked again as he walked over to the lounge area. He grabbed a seat and waited. The large screen TV cycled a series of slides and short commercial like clips with information about the company, the research going on, and testimonials from people that have been helped.

Finally, a tall lanky middle-aged black man, clean-shaven, with a well groomed flat top in a pinstripe suit with a seven pointed silver star pinned to the left lapel, entered the lounge and walked up to the General. He extended his right hand, which was covered in a thick white glove, and dawned on a huge smile.

“Good Morning, General Blake. I am Agent White, one of the internal security managers.”

The general stood up and grabbed the agent’s hand firmly and shook it hard. “Thank you Agent White, good morning to you.”

“If you please sir, follow me and I’ll get you to your meeting. Doctor Alkum is already in route and should be waiting for you when you get there.”

The General let out a big smile, “Excellent! Lead the way.”

Agent White lead the General out of the lounge and over to a service elevator. There were no buttons along the wall like usual. Instead, above the door was a black dome with a yellow spot in the center. A voice came from the elevator, “This is a restricted area, please identify yourself and provide your authorization access code.”

“Agent White, with guest, General Blake. Authorization code Lambda – Delta – Pi – Seven – Five – Alpha.”

“Access confirmed, Escort General Blake to the third floor, conference room A. Welcome to BioMed, General.”

The General looked up, then around, with a perplexed look, he finally muttered, “Uh…Thank you.”

They both stepped inside the elevator, Agent White pushed the “3” button and the doors closed. The ride was extremely smooth, almost as if there was no motion at all. Even the usual breaking action to indicate that the elevator had reached the desired floor was absent. The doors opened and Agent White led General Blake down a large hallway. He stopped at a door marked with an “A“ and rapped on the door. A muffled ‘Enter!” could be heard. Agent White opened the door.

“Doctor Alkum, General Blake is here for your eight o’clock.”

“Send him in.”

Agent White held the door open for the General and motioned for him to step inside. The General took his cue and walked in. Agent White nodded at them both, smiled, and then closed the door.

“Please, General, have a seat.”

It was a meager sized conference room, simple in its layout. Four yellow fabric covered chairs surrounded a small round oak table. A few cabinets towards the back wall surrounding a sink. There were no windows or other doors. A single vent, centered over the table, moaned as it exhaled. A modest row of cabinetry sat behind Dr. Alkum. The countertop held a sink in the middle, a short refrigerator on one end, and an appropriately sized microwave oven.

“Thank you, Cadence.” He smiled and pulled out a chair across from her. He sat down and scooched himself closer, back straight, head held high. He laid his cover on the seat next to him and placed his hands in his lap interlacing his fingers. The briefcase sat on the floor next to his chair.

“It has been a while, Sir. You are looking good. To what do I owe thee for this visit?”

“What’s it been, Sergeant? Eight…nine years? I see you’ve kept up yourself in tip-top shape. You still train I take it?”

“It has been nine years and three months since you signed my release orders. And yes, three hours a day, seven days a week.” She smiled hard.

“Do you remember Operation Ontario?”

“Yes, Sir. I do. We lost a lot of good soldiers during that terrorist act.”

“True, we did. We would’ve lost more if it hadn’t been for you.”

“Thank you Sir, I was just doing my duty. Any other soldier…”

“Horseshit! Any other soldier would’ve died! You infiltrated that warehouse and single handed took out six snipers in hand to hand combat. I still watch the video feed from time to time. You set the standard for individual assassination training and methodology. I wish I had several more of you.”

Cadence sat there in silence for a few moments. When it came to business, she hated the small talk, the reliving of the past, the inability of the General to get to the fucking point of why he was there. Finally, she countered, “I’m sorry General, but human cloning is still outlawed.”

The General let out a hearty laugh. She looked surprised. She wasn't trying to be funny; she was serious. Human cloning is still illegal .

“So tell me, General. Why are you here? Certainly not to continue this small talk and relive the past?”

“Right, right. You always did like to get right to the point. Very well.” He reached down and grabbed the briefcase and laid it on the table. He pressed his thumbs to the security strips on the front. A soft snap, and the lid slowly opened. He reached in and pulled out a thin file folder. “I was sent here by the Committee for Soldier Safety to inquire about your safety suits.” With a light shove the folder slid across the table. “Inside you will find an official DOD requisition form along with the relevant mil-specs and potential variations.”

Cadence opened the folder and began to peruse the contents. The first variant, code named Sentry, desired a full body cover, similar in construction to the wet suits used for scuba diving . Military specifications required survivability from sniper fire from one hundred yards and improvised explosive devices from minimum of three yards.

Her brain began to run ballistic and material deformation simulations, as well as three dimensional models of what would need to be changed, enhanced, or modified. She mentally broke down her company’s standard carbon nanotube wrapped synthetic gossamer thread, called Gossamite. As it was constructed currently, it already protected against bites, slashing attacks, and small arms fire from a seventeen yard distance.

She quickly calculated that she could re-engineer the nanotubes with a complex matrix of triple walled, interlocking buds, wrapped around a quadruple helix mesh, and then, for added durability and protection, it could be placed inside a thin Kevlar pocket. She turned to the second set of mil-specs when she her thoughts were interrupted by a thumping noise.

“Cadence. Cadence. Have you been listening to me? Hello?” The General was looking right at her bouncing his index finger off of the table. “So, when do you think I can let my superiors know when to expect the first prototypes for testing?”

Cadence looked up, closed the folder, and slid it back across the table. With a stern look she declared, “Not interested.”

General Blake looked at her in disbelief. He sat there, shocked. “I-I-I don’t understand. Is your company incapable of…”

Cadence gave the General a look of contempt, “No, Sir. These specifications could be met and exceeded. I just don’t want my company to be responsible for these things falling into the wrong hands. You know as well as I do, the black market is seething with military grade equipment. Remember the Augments?”

“The Augments? I thought that was before your time? That happened almost forty years ago! I don’t see how that is pertinent to this discussion.”

“Your military thought it would be a grand idea to hybridize humans and machines for the sole purpose of creating superior…”

“YEAH!? And it would've worked if it hadn't been…”

“HADN'T been for the lack of security, accountability from the top down, and a thorough system of civil reintegration. Once your techniques and creations escaped to the black market, the destruction was…”

“MANAGEABLE! WE TOOK CARE OF THE…”

“YOU ARE AN OLD FOOL! Just because NATO stepped in and convinced the world that restrictions had to be made, limiting any bio-mechanical enhancements to strictly human normal parameters, doesn't mean you can sit there and ignore the fact that there is STILL a huge amount of illegal enhancements going on.”

“IT IS YOUR PATRIOTIC DUTY to see to it that the brave men and women, that you yourself stood side by side with to defend this country and the liberties of its citizens, are given the best equipment there is out there!

“Who gives you the right to come in here and begin to question my loyalty to our country? I am no longer the government’s property. I no longer take orders from you or them. I am not about to provide the US Armed Services with the equivalent of Übermensch. I designed the Gossamite Strand for civilian use only. I refuse to accept the potential irresponsibility of what you are proposing. You are dismissed, we are done here.”

Cadence stood up. The General’s face was red. He fumbled a bit with the file as he was putting it back in the briefcase. After he closed the lid, he stood up and looked her right in the eyes.

“Doctor Alkum, I will give you thirty days to reconsider our proposal. Uncle Sam, does not like to be told no.”

“Are you threatening me, General Blake?”

“Miss…National Security doesn't make threats; we deal with them.”

General Blake turned and stormed out of the conference room and made his way down the hall to the elevators. There he saw Agent White, waiting patiently. Agent White smiled and ceremoniously escorted the General back out to the main lobby. As he watched the General get into his car he put his hand up to his ear.

“Affirmative Director, the package has been delivered.”
Financing and Managing a webcomic called Geeks & Goblins.


"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." -Ozzy
"Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded." - Sparky Polastri
"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum." - Frank Nada

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cadbrowser
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Re: Prime Mover

Post by cadbrowser » 2014-06-03 11:05am

Chapter II - Alive


A beautiful symphony of strings, horns, and percussion sounded softly through the speakers mounted in the walls above each night table. Every fifteen seconds that passed, the volume became slightly louder than before. Cadence stirred, slowly stretching each limb as to enable them for the flurry of activities that lay ahead. She yawned deeply and began to blink her eyes.

Her mind immediately began prioritizing the To Do list of items in her mental agenda; exercise, contacting lawyers regarding corporate law and potential hostile actions from the feds, reviewing the research data for revitalizing the artificial placenta program, getting with the Twins to get a status update on Mother, setting up a meeting with Hiroto to review the latest ideas on the Bio Suit…the list continued.

As the music became louder, she sat up. The bedroom light illuminated the room in a faint glow, not too bright to make her eyes hurt but just enough to assist with her eyes’ natural adjustments. She threw the blankets off to one side and crept out of bed. As soon as her feet touched the floor, the lights grew slightly brighter. She arched her back and lifted her hands high above her head for one last elastic adjustment.

Cadence was the result of a genetic union between her Swedish Father and Latina mother. Her father’s heritage showed through in her strawberry blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and freckles along the bridge of her nose out to the tops of her cheek bones. She was very tall, reaching slightly over six feet. The underlying aspects of her physical appearance that identified with her mother’s heritage was generous, supple curves, skin that would tan easily in the sun, and a thick athletic tone to her body.

She stood and walked over to her dresser, depressed a button on the intercom and sluggishly said, “Thank you Johnny, I am awake now.”

“You are welcome Doctor Alkum. I am preparing a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. It will be ready by the time you change into your jogging suit.”

“I will be out shortly, thanks again.”

The music silenced. Cadence walked over to the bathroom and relieved herself. She slipped off her nightgown and came back to the bedroom and dawned on a jogging suit and put her hair in a pony tail. Cadence kept a rigorous exercise routine, as she believed in not only having a healthy mind, but also a healthy body. It was something ingrained in her psyche during Boot Camp, a ritual, a connection.

She stepped out of her bedroom, crossed the living room floor, walked out of her office, and jogged down the short hallway. After turning right and exiting the door to the stairs, she increased her pace. Her breathing grew deeper and more rhythmic as she continued down the thirty flights of stairs and out through the lobby. Mark Tatum, the older gentlemen serving as the door greeter, was already holding the door, smiling ever so brightly.

“Good Morning Ma’am! Beautiful day for a jog. Be safe!” He tipped his hat as she ran through. Cadence nodded and smiled in return, she headed north on 112th.

She didn’t run with music as the other joggers did. She liked to use the time to allow her brain to finish organizing and structuring the needs of the day. As her mind continued its functions, she rounded east through Dog Bone park, a recent addition to the downtown area. It afforded people the opportunity to get out and exercise with their pets. Of course, at this time of the morning it was rare to see more than one or two other joggers. The course through Dog Run was littered with hills, which is why she chose this route. It would take her a good twenty minutes and place her heading southeast to cross 15th on Cheshire Way.

Before the park was put in, crime rate in the area was starting to rise rapidly. Rapes, murders, kidnappings, and robbery seemed to emanate from the dilapidated housing apartments, all too frequently, that once consumed this area. It wasn’t uncommon just a short time ago, for armed security guards working for the different corporations around the ghetto sector to escort the workers to their vehicles. She was grateful the city planners were doing more to liven the area up as well as make it safer. Every so often though, a few criminal elements would return to try to exact their revenge for being displaced. They preyed on anyone that appeared weak and helpless…or, alone.

It was still dark as she was hoofing it down Cheshire, when all of a sudden a blinding, searing light flashed in her eyes, excruciating pain reflected off every surface inside of her skull, She went down hard and fast. It took her a few seconds to regain consciousness; her head pounding, reverberating. She placed her hands underneath her shoulders to push herself into an upright sitting position. Without warning, she felt a heavy weight on her back, driving her again into the sidewalk. Quickly, she maneuvered her forearms across her face so it wouldn’t smack into the unforgiving concrete below, making the cannons going off in her head worse.

“What the fuck?!” She yelled.

“Ooooh, she is a pretty, naughty thing; isn’t she guys?” A voice sneered from above.

She was able to look up and noticed two grungy men on either side of her; both just out of reach. They slowly crept forward.

“Stay down, bitch; we own you now. If you play nice, we won’t kill you right away.” She heard the man to her right say in a low, husky, intimidating tone. You could hear the click of a switchblade as he stopped, his boot digging passively into her ribcage. The man on the left remained silent.

The man to her rear declared, “Now, I’m going to take my foot off your back, stand you up and you are going to calmly and quietly walk with us, if you scream or resist in any way, I’ll let my associate gut you like a pig! Do you understand?”

She replied in terrorized voice, “Yes, I understand. I don’t have any money with me, but if you want to follow – “

“Who said we were after money, BITCH?!” The man on the right said in a overly mocking tone, and then proceeded with a high pitched annoying laugh, taunting her.

She wasn’t really scared, she was playing into their macho side; giving them a false sense of power, letting them get their kicks off of her “fear”. Depending on how they pulled her up, their relative positions to her and to each other, weapons carried, and direction of travel, she had no doubts that she would be able to deal with them.

The man behind her pulled her up by her hair which caused the throbbing and shooting pain already bouncing around in her skull to magnify, she closed her eyes tightly. As he stood her up, still holding her hair pulling back, she felt a cold, hard, round object press in the small of her back. - Oh a gun. Wonderful! - The sarcasm was thick in her mind.

The other two men took longing looks up and down her body like they were panthers looking at a prime kill. The guy on the left reached forward and fondled her breasts, squeezing each of them, taking turns, with one hand. The man on the right threw his fist out and punched him hard in the mouth and laughed. His head snapped back as blood shot from his split lip and then returned just as fast while he glared at the assaulter. He began to open his mouth -

“You fucking morons, wait until we get out of sight before you start this shit. Don’t make me shoot you in the knee caps and make you watch me take care of her while you get NOTHING!” The rear guy with the gun gritted with his teeth as he hissed his orders. They looked at him, then at each other, at her, then angrily turned around and began walking into the alley.

“MOVE!” He ordered as he pushed her head forward releasing her hair.

Her ears were still ringing as she began to slowly walk with her hands high in the air, faking a limp so she could maintain awareness of the gun’s position against her back at all times. Her mind began working overtime, calculating, playing out scenarios of how this was going to end. As she purposefully slowed the man to her rear, the other two weren’t paying attention and scuttling ahead at a slightly quicker pace. Once she reached the green overstuffed dumpster a decent distance into the alley, she noticed the two men up front were a good eight to ten paces ahead.

In a flash movement, her left hand dropped as she spun counterclockwise. When her left arm passed his arm holding the gun, she glided her hand up and placed it around his with her thumb on his index finger. At the same time, her right hand slammed into the inside of his elbow, collapsing it. The placement of her hands, sheer speed and force caused the gun to retract towards his chest with the gun pointing under the man’s chin. She pulled the trigger with her thumb.

BAM!

Brain matter, skull fragments, and blood shot from the crown of his head as he crumpled to his knees. She kicked him hard in the chest and he flew backwards a few feet before landing on his back, dead. She looked up and noticed the other two men had turned around and began running towards her, the guy on the left started pulling out a club. - So, that’s the asshole that hit me on the back of the head. - She raised the gun she kept from the first man and pulled the trigger.

CLICK. CLICK. EMPTY! “DAMMIT!” She screamed out loud.

She bolted forward to meet both men charging her head on. Veering right at the last possible moment she jumped, lifting her knees to where her thighs were parallel with the alley surface. She struck the man holding the knife, just below the heart. A loud crack, resembling a shotgun blast, echoed off the brick walls. He was violently clothes-lined and slammed hard against the ground. His head bounced off the pavement skidding to a stop, dark red blood began to pool just underneath his head. Using her forward momentum she somersaulted forward coming to her feet and stood up. Luckily the knife was knocked free by the force of the hit and came to rest just a few feet to her right.

The man with the club stopped dead in his tracts. He gazed at the carnage that had just taken place. He watched her calmly walk over to the knife and pick it up. Frozen with fear, he watched as she spun around and threw her arm forward. THHHHHUNK! He looked down to see that the heel of the knife was buried deep in his chest. Searing pain overcame his chest as he felt his heart split in two. Blood began oozing from his mouth and the knife. He hit the ground in convulsions.

Dr. Alkum walked over, removed her top and wiped off the knife handle. She casually walked over to the gun and cleaned it off as well. She placed it next to the man she had kneed in the chest and then took his club over to the man originally holding the gun. Hopefully the police would chalk this up as a drug deal gone bad, or a gang related incident.

“Didn’t know who you were fucking with, did you?” She said with a cold casualness as she put her top back on.

She turned and continued down the alley, lightly jogging as her head was still throbbing with pain. This alley would serve as a good shortcut since the incident brought her short of reaching 15th anyway. She came to another alleyway and turned right. The sun began to turn the sky different shades of red and orange as it snuck up on the sky.

She could hear a faint blood curdling scream as some unlucky passerby obviously came upon the scene; she quickened her pace, ignoring the pain that amplified in her head with each step. - Ten minutes and I’ll be home. - She repeated it over in her mind, busying her brain with anything until she could get some pain relief. Turning left on 12th street she noticed Mr. Tatum was watching from the opposite direction in anticipation of her coming from the direction of her normal route. Apparently he heard the heavy running steps and spun around quickly looking in surprise and shock.

“Ms. Alkum, are you alright?” He said with urgency in a worrisome tone. “You’re a disheveled mess! What happened?”

“It’s DOCTOR Alkum, get the door!” She snapped sternly.

It must have been the look on his face as he looked like a scolded puppy dog as he hung his head to get the door. Her heart sank. She felt like a complete bitch.

“I’m sorry, must be the adrenaline. I am a bit banged up. Three deviants tried to mug me in the alley off of Cheshire Way, just before I got to 15th street.” giving him an endearing look as she recognized he was only concerned for her well-being.

“Oh dear me, ma’am. Do I need to call an ambulance? Or the police?” He asked, opening the door.

“Not necessary Mark, I was able to get away before anything serious happened. Please inform our infirmary from the front desk that I will be coming to them for repair shortly.” She ordered as they both walked through the entryway. She put her hand to the back of her head. Her hair felt sticky and matted. When she brought her hand back around, she noticed the blood staining the palm of her hand.

“On it now, Doctor Alkum.” He hurriedly replied. He sprinted to the front desk, grabbed the phone and rapidly dialed a few numbers and began mumbling something into the phone. After he got off the phone he walked over to Dr. Alkum to help her get to the unsecured elevator bank.

“Thank you Mark, I appreciate the help.”

“No problem. Do you need me to go with you and make sure you get to the infirmary ok?”

“I am sure I’ll be able to make it. I need you at the front desk. It is almost time that the other employees start showing up anyway. Again, thank you for your assistance.”

“You are welcome.”

Mark pressed the down arrow button on the control panel. The double doors immediately parted and she stepped inside. He waited until the doors closed before he went back to his station.

The elevator was trimmed in brushed stainless steel, inset with mahogany wall and ceiling panels. The elevator floor panel contained two columns with twenty rows of round polished aluminum buttons, with a small blue LED in their centers. They also contained the typical large red button and fireman’s key slot as well as the white phone. She depressed the “H1” button, situated four rows down from the “L”, just underneath the basement/utility levels and four level parking garages. The doors slowly closed and the elevator began its descent.

A few moments later - ding! - the doors opened again to a bright white marble floor. As she stepped out, she walked toward the two large glass doors. They opened automatically for her as she stepped through and up to the front desk. A man and a woman, identical twins, in white lab coats were waiting for her with worried looks on their faces. No one spoke.

All three walked past the reception and waiting room area, through a set of heavy wooden, fire resistant doors with that tiny metal mesh double-pane window that was so typical of hospitals and clinics, and down a small hallway. What was different, was the sheer beauty and volume of white marble, highly polished, that made up the floors, walls, and ceiling. To say it looked clean was an understatement, more like sterile.

They all walked down the main hall to a medium sized room furnished with a hospital bed, visitor’s chair, TV, bathroom with a shower, and various other medical devices. A wheeled, metal tray sat next to the bed. It was covered with a white cloth that held a hair shaver, a sterilization kit, dermal hemostats , a hand held ultrasonic bone scanner, concussion detection visor, and a tube of skin adhesive.

“Alright Cadence, please take off your shirt and lie face down on the bed, we need to get you cleaned up.”

She removed her shirt and laid face down on the bed. Lukewarm water poured over the wound. They worked their hands in her hair cleaning any dried blood and removing any debris. Small vibrations tickled the area as Karl removed hair surrounding the gash. The female twin could be heard rustling the plastic, opening up the sterilization kit to swab over the cut.

“This is a nasty cut, how did you get this?” He questioned in a concerning tone.

“I was on my normal jogging route when a few men came out from nowhere and one of them hit me over the head with a small club.”

He reached for the scanner and hovered it over the spot. “I see. Well, there doesn’t appear…” moving the scanner around her skull cap “…to be any fractures in your skull, so that is good.” He turned the scanner off and set it down. “Anything else get hurt?”

“No, just my thick head. I was able to run away.”

“I am glad you are ok then. Ok, this is going to hurt a little Cadence. I have to use clamps to draw the wound together so we can glue it in place. In the old days we would’ve had to staple this.” He said in a regretful tone.

“I can handle pain just fi- OUCH!” She exclaimed.

“Sorry, just one more – Hold still please….there.”

She could feel this cold, slimy coating being rubbed and massaged over the cut. Suddenly, the pain went away as the topical anesthesia in the glue began to take effect. She could feel her skin tighten slightly as the glue began to dry.

“We need you to remain still and lay here so the Derma-Bond can fully cure, it will take about ten minutes, then we need you to put on the visor so that we can test for any signs of a concussion. We will return shortly.”

“Thank you, Mara, and Karl. I appreciate this.”

As the twins left the room, she laid there relaxed. The headache had toned down a bit - nothing a few pills can’t fix - she thought. She let her mind wander as she closed her eyes.

A few moments later Mara walked in. “Hey, wake up!”

“I wasn’t asleep, just resting my eyes a bit until this throbbing pain goes away fully.”

“You may have a concussion, I shouldn’t have left the room. I will stay here until Karl gets back.”

“Mara, I swear, I wasn’t sleeping…”

“Well, I am going to stay here and keep you company to make sure.”

“If you must, I might as well get some work done. On my agenda today I was scheduled to check in with you two regarding Mother.”

“Oh? Karl hadn’t mentioned anything about that. So I don’t have anything fully prepared or official.”

“That is odd, I sent him a reminder earlier this week.”

“You know how forgetful he gets with the administrative side of this work. I am the one that has to make sure the data is properly logged and so forth. He likes to do the fun stuff, and I get stuck with the boring shit.”

“I see. Well, from here on out I will make sure Johnny sends you the meeting requests.”

“Ok, that will make it a bit more efficient around here.”

“Give me a brief overview on Mother. Then work up an official report to be sent to my office by the end of the day tomorrow.”

“Sure, Cadence, we can do that. With regards to Mother, so far everything is moving along as we expected. The fetuses are smaller than normal, but very healthy. We have kept her on a strict diet along with vitamin supplements. She is getting to the point where moving around is a bit difficult. We may have to put her in comatose.”

“All of the dozen embryos we implanted for this project are growing?”

“So far, yes. There are several that are smaller than the others, but all signs thus far indicate they have a forty-eight percent chance of going full term.”

“That is a bit unexpected. Our simulations initially allowed for maybe a half-dozen survivors to birth. I don’t think Mother could take all of them to full term, it would rip her open from the inside out.”

“We do have contingency plans in place, just in case we have to take them early and incubate them. Karl is hoping that they will at least hit the first few weeks of the third trimester before anything that drastic is needed. The mortality rate could be higher if we have to take them too early.”

“Yes, this is true. Any early adaptation signs yet?”

“No, not that have been detected. Although, there are signs that the placentas themselves have begun to…merge.”

“Merge!? They should have developed their own placenta and amniotic sacs.”

“Yes…well they did at first. We haven’t been able to figure out the cause just yet. It doesn’t appear that there are any adverse affects on the young. We are just observing the phenomenon for now. The fetuses are maintaining their own amniotic sac, however, it appears that the placentas are interlinking somehow. Karl is supposed to run some more tests this week.”

“I would really hate for us to have to start from the beginning again. Keep a close eye on this, and definitely have Karl get with me should conditions worsen. At the first sign of trouble we should probably pull them out.”

“Agreed. I will let him know.”

“Let me know what?” Karl sounded as he crossed the threshold.

“Any further development issues with regards to the merging placentas. I am going to prepare a report for Cadence highlighting what data we have with regards to Mother.”

“Yes, of course. I will assist you with that sis. Now, Cadence lay back down so we can remove those clamps.” Karl said.

Mara assisted Karl with the forceps removal.

“There you go, right as rain.” Mara followed with a cheery voice. “You can sit up now.”

The Twins helped her sit up. She immediately ran her fingers over the spot where the glue was. Would the divot be obvious to her subordinates? Like some kind of college hazing prank? Relieved, she breathed out a sigh. It was maybe an inch long and a half-inch wide. She had plenty of hair left around that she could easily cover it up.

Mara, took a small penlight and shined it in her eyes, one at a time. “Cadence? Do you feel, lightheaded, dizzy, or any nausea?”

Cadence sat there for a second wanting to make sure. “Nope, not at all. Most of the throbbing in my head is gone, I am feeling a lot better.”

“Ok, good. Now Karl is going to administer a simple test to determine if you have a concussion. If at anytime you feel any of the symptoms I just asked about, please let us know immediately!”

Cadence nodded her head up and down. Mara stepped to the side. Karl grabbed the goggle shaped instrument and walked towards her. He was adjusting the straps while looking at her head.

“Alright, put this on and hold this controller. It has two large buttons; one for your left hand, and one for your right. You will see a series of images flash across the screen designed to test your cognitive functions and memory. Ready?”

“I’m ready, go ahead.” Dr. Alkum replied feeling more alert now.

She ran through a series of tests with blue triangles, green squares, and red circles in various orders, coupled with memory matching, and various other easy tasks. After a few minutes the screen went blank. Mara removed the visor and Dr. Alkum had to blink a few times to readjust her eyes to the bright room.

“What’s the verdict, Karl?” Dr. Alkum asked.

“According to the test, you don’t appear to have a concussion, just some bruising. I want you to take it easy for the rest of the week, making sure you get plenty of rest. I would recommend against jogging during this time, because the jarring motion could exacerbate the situation and bring on migraines. If you have a stationary bike, so you can maintain your exercise routine that would be best. Ok?” His voice was almost stern towards the end, like a father reprimanding his daughter for staying out too late with a boy on her first date.

“That is fine, I’m sure I can make the necessary arrangements you’ve laid out. Am I all set to go?”

“Yes, just sign these papers and you can go.”

She thanked them, put her shirt back on, and started walking back to the elevator. By this time, the receptionist was just turning her computer on, shifting files and getting ready for her day to begin. She caught Dr. Alkum walking by and froze with this odd, gawking look on her face. Apparently, there was some blood still on the front of her jogging top.

“Uhm, You’ve got red on you, ma’am.” She said timidly as she pointed.

Cadence looked down, and noticed that there indeed was quite a bit of blood. She nodded at the receptionist and spoke, “Well hun, I did just come from the infirmary. People that get hurt or sick usually see a doctor you know.”

Perplexed, the receptionist just sat down and her eyes glazed over. Apparently the receptionist had never seen anyone come to visit the Twins with that much blood on them. Dr. Alkum continued to the elevator, depressed the up button, stepped inside and pressed the “30” button. As the doors closed and the elevator began its ascent she thought - It is a good day to be alive. -
Financing and Managing a webcomic called Geeks & Goblins.


"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." -Ozzy
"Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded." - Sparky Polastri
"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum." - Frank Nada

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cadbrowser
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Re: Prime Mover

Post by cadbrowser » 2014-06-03 11:09am

Chapter III - Soul Stalkers

*One Year Ago*
“There comes a time in every man’s life where he must choose to believe in something greater than himself.”

The speaker paused to let that sink in to the crowd. Many heads bobbed up and down, followed by murmurs of agreement with his opening sentence. He looked around and slowly stared at everyone. He was a scrawny, older gentleman with a head full of gray, scruffy hair. His thick glasses made his green eyes look twice as big as anyone else’s. The three-piece suit looked uncomfortable, as beads of sweat were already forming along his forehead. It was a decent size crowd, approximately fifty people in attendance.

“For many of you, that time is at hand. We are at a crossroads, people. The world is slowly dying, and it is because we have let un-godly and un-natural practices become an accepted way of life!” He struck the podium hard and elicited a few jumps from the audience.

Samuel sat there listening. An impressionable teen, like most of the others there: poor, hungry, looking for a way to fit in. His family had been moved out of the projects when the city decided to tear down all of those dilapidated buildings and small businesses to make room for corporate skyscrapers and a stupid dog park. He left school at the age of sixteen in order to work in a small recycling facility, sorting metals, plastics, and glass to help his mom pay the bills after his father died three years ago in some freak accident. He never got to say goodbye to his dad. Apparently the body was such a mangled mess that a closed-casket ceremony was the only form of closure to be had. His mother opted for a cremation afterwards. Samuel keept a small leather pouch, decorated with beads, filled with his father’s ashes tied loosely around his neck.

“First, it was the freedom of them niggers, then bitches’ rights, and what do you know? Them filthy faggots got their way too. NOW, we’re expected to sit back on our asses and allow machines to be treated as equals?”

A hush fell over the crowd. A few people gasped in shock, putting their hands over their mouths, looking around for dissenters. A large, muscular black man stood up and began making his way to the front. You could see anger rising up within like a volcano, ready to erupt. Three men in camouflage gear moved to intercept.

“Hold on brother. I am not your enemy. Please forgive me?” The speaker said calmly, looking directly at the black man. “You must understand, it’s not always easy for me to let go of the old ways, especially when I feel so passionately for what is plaguing our world. I was out of line and will ask God to forgive me, for he has shown me the error of my ways. I have formed a new path of righteousness, and I want you, ALL of you, to join and fight this evil upon us! We are all of His children! We are all brothers and sisters! God is calling each and every one of you to serve in His army!” His face was red with excitement. His arms punctuated each statement as he thrust his finger towards the audience.

The black man stopped and looked up at the speaker and shouted, “Brother?…Brother? Are you shitting me?” His face was twisted and his body shook from anger as he continued, “Fuck you, you white piece of shit! We don’t need another hate preacher setting humanity back to the Dark Ages again with their filth!” Foaming spit flew out of his mouth as he shouted, like a rabid dog lost forever to the infection.

Samuel gawked in anticipation. - Would he run the stage and attack him? Would he leave? Would he sit down? - All of those scenarios raced through his head as he pondered the outcome of each. The black man turned and stormed out of the building, spewing forth vile language with each step he took. Whether or not the other three “bodyguards” could subdue him if he had decided to storm the stage may have had some influence on his decision to just leave. - Maybe he saw that they were armed or something… – Samuel thought to himself. The speaker caught the eye of one of the men who was wearing a black beret and gave him a nod. The other two, in green Berets, resumed their post as the other calmly walked out and stood guard to make sure the angry black man didn’t return to cause any more disruptions.

“There is a conspiracy of evil going on.” The speaker continued as the rest of the crowd settled back down. “Scientists and the government want us to believe that these mechanical men walking around have become self-aware. Some to the point of having feelings. Do you know what is really going on?”

He paused again and looked around as if he was looking for someone to shout out the answer to his question.

“They have given demons, straight from the pits of Hell, easier access to possess and use these robots to deceive and tempt God’s children. Scientists have made a deal with the devil, and your soul is at risk of being taken!” His voiced rose with passion.

Samuel and the others sat there in contemplation. A few shook their head in disbelief. As the speaker went on, talking about the vast demonic alliance and how these servants of Satan were stealing souls from the dead in order to take them directly to hell to raise an army to destroy the church. Samuel and many others soaked it all in. They were nodding in approval, sometimes crying out in agreement, getting fired up. Everything started to make sense to him now. It was like the light of creation going off in his mind. It seemed to answer a lot of questions as to how, all of a sudden, robots were thinking for themselves. It clicked as to how his father’s life was so easily taken. The speech continued on for more than an hour.

“In conclusion, my brothers and sisters, we are responsible for saving those precious souls that are being stolen before Judgement Day. We have a mission to release them back to their resting place. Join us, become a member of Anima Illuminate, earn great rewards in Heaven. Liberum mentem captivam! (freedom to the captive mind)” As he ended his speech, he shot his fist in the air and he repeated those last three words with his fist pumping into the air. Everyone joined in, chanting, cheering, and crying.

Samuel walked up to the man on the stage. The two men in green Berets moved to stop him. The speaker held his other hand, palm out, ordering his men to halt in place, and in a swift motion waved Samuel up to the front. Samuel stood there on stage by his side, fist raised in unison, chanting, and a smile beaming from ear to ear with tear marks streaking down his face.

A sentimental note filled Samuel’s head – Finally, a place to belong. -

As Samuel walked home in the cool breeze of the autumn evening, he pulled his jacket tighter around himself and decided to quicken his pace a bit. - Maybe the extra speed will warm me up a bit. – He reasoned. Recalling the events of that evening, his new friends, and the feeling of camaraderie, he had this sense of balance, self-respect, and acceptance. It was like he’d come home after being stranded on a desert island with a bunch of crazy savages. His thoughts fell to his mother – how was he going to explain his getting home late? -

He rounded a corner and came up to the shelter entrance. - Damn. It’s already past curfew – He could have kicked himself for allowing time to slip by that fast. Not only did he have to deal with his mother, but now the staff. His hand reached for the door. Without warning, it flung open in a flash, hitting him in the face, knocking his head back. He stumbled back, straining to maintain his balance as he grabbed his head with his hands. A force hit him square in the chest; he fell on his back, and a blur stumbled in between his legs and then was gone. Two staff members came running out as the door was closing. One almost tripped over Samuel. They both stopped and looked down.

“Oh my gosh, Sam. Are you ok?” A female voice asked in a concerned tone.

“Y-Yeah, I’ll be fine. Just got knocked on my ass is all.”

“Hey, mister; you know the rules. Watch your mouth! There are young children around.” A deep raspy male voice replied. “Speaking of rules, you are over an hour past your curfew!” The man reprimanded him as he outstretched his hand to give assistance.

“I-I’m sorry, Mister Cowl. I know I’m late, but I do have a good reason.” He struggled, a bit wobbly getting up. - Guess I got hit a little harder than I thought. - “What was up with The Blur?”

“The Blur?” Cowl tilted his head to the side in confusion.

“Yeah, that du-” Samuel tried replying before being interrupted.

“Oh, yes him. I get it now. Yeah, he is a speedy little guy for his size. Apparently he didn’t want to take a bath and got away from his mother. He won’t go far; he’ll be back soon. Funny thing is, he won’t cross the street. He’ll just circle the building a few times and eventually come inside and get his bath anyway.” Mr. Cowl said with a grin.

Samuel smirked as he realized they were talking about Runt. That was what everyone called him. Runt was an eight year old Mulatto that was overweight and always playing in the dirt. His mom was an older, heavyset woman. Could have been his grandma or aunt; Samuel didn’t really know.

“So, Sam; why are you returning after curfew?” The lady spoke up with a frown on her face.

“Yeah, Missus Cowl, I’m sorry about that, too. I was attending a religious ceremony, and it ran late.”

“Well, I guess we can let you slide on that one. Off you go. I’m sure your mother is worried about you. Try not to let it happen again. The rules we have here are for your protection, you know.”

“Yes ma’am. I know. I will make sure to be on time from now on. Thank you.” He smiled as he walked past them on his way upstairs to the third floor to be with his mother.

They were good-hearted people, not incredibly wealthy, but just enough that they ran a homeless shelter for those less fortunate. Most were regulars that needed help getting back on their feet after an extended layoff. Some were carrier bums that came in for an evening meal before heading off to their cardboard box houses. The building was extremely clean despite being located in a run-down area of the outskirts of downtown. The Cowls made sure that those with extended stays and needs assisted with the daily duties of cleaning and maintenance.

Samuel took two stairs at a time to quicken his ascent. He could feel the beads of sweat forming on his brow as he neared the third floor landing. He opened the door to the hallway and turned right. He slowed down to regain his breath. He got to the small apartment he and his mother were staying in and lifted his hand to rap on the door. Before his hand connected, the door flew open and there stood his mother with an angry scowl across her face.

“Samuel Carter Jackson!”

- Uh oh, she is really pissed – His heart sank as his eyes immediately jerked to the floor.

“Where have you been? I swear, if you’ve been doing anything illegal, I am going to throw you out! I’ve told you before, I will NOT have any of that IN MY HOME!” The volume that she used was just slightly lower than a commercial jet crashing into a glass factory. Several doors from along the hall cracked open as curious eyes peeked at the drama unfolding.

“Mom, please; I’m so sorry; let me explain!” He pleaded.

“Get your ass in this house and sit down.” She demanded as she grabbed his arm and pulled him in. She slammed the door and locked it. “Explain!”

“Mom, I wasn’t doing anything illegal. I was attending a religious get together, and I made some friends. The guy that spoke has offered me a job when I’m not with you. We will be reaching out to others.”

His mom looked at him in disbelief. “Do you have anything from this meeting to prove you were there?” She glared at him, expecting him to stumble over his words or turn away, indicating a lie was about to take place.

“Mom -” He paused, not taking his eyes from hers, “I have this small book that they handed out and encouraged us to read. He said all of life’s answers could be found within.” He pulled the booklet out of his back pocket and offered it to her.

She took it from his hands, continuing her glare, then she looked down at the cover. “A New Testament?” She spoke in a quieter tone. She flipped open the small booklet to a random page and read aloud, “Every natural animal and plant on this Earth is subject to the respect and balance of human needs and desires. It is our job to aid mother nature in keeping that balance as to not risk a detrimental shift to cause harm.”

She read a few more random passages to herself, closed the book and smiled. She handed the book back to her son and spoke, “Samuel, I appreciate that you didn’t lie to me. I apologize for being so angry a few minutes ago, I was just so worried. I was scared you had been hurt, or worse.”

“It’s ok, mom, I understand. Again, I am sorry. I didn’t mean to worry you.” He stood up and wrapped his arms around her and held her tight. He knew he hadn’t always been the most well-behaved or easy kid to raise.

She squeezed him tightly back. “Sam, I forgive you. But you know that you were out past curfew, and I cannot let that go unpunished. You are grounded for one week. Now go get washed up, eat some dinner, and then get right to bed. We have an early morning at the plant.”

He pulled back with a look of disappointment and said, “Yes ma’am.” No rebuttals; no arguments.

She kissed him lightly on the forehead and swatted his bottom as he turned to go to the kitchen. - Something is very different about that boy – She thought. It made her feel warm and peaceful inside. Seems that finally he has found something he can feel good about. She made her way to bed.

“Mom?” Samuel called from the kitchen.

“Yes son, what is it?

“They want to help me get my diploma, to graduate. I want to do that.”

She stood there with her body twisted, looking back at the kitchen opening, perplexed, astonished, and proud of her son all at the same time. “Oh Sam. That – that is incredible. I am so happy for you. We will talk about it more in the morning. Good night, my sweet boy. I love you.”

“Ok mom, sounds great! I love you, too.”

*Now*


A voice cracked over the car radio, “Delta Three-Delta Three, this is dispatch, over”

“Delta-Three here dispatch, go ahead, over.”

“10-71 reported, possible Code Purple in Dog Park off of Cheshire, Code 3, over”

Shooting, possible gang activity, Use lights and siren

“10-4 dispatch, ETA – 3 minutes, over and out”.

The engine roared to life as the sirens and lights were activated. Chuck turned to his partner and sarcastically exclaimed, “Never a dull moment, aye Mike?!”

Mike smiled back, “That’s why I love this job!”

The car flew through multiple intersections, engine revved high, sliding through turns, left, then right, then left again, and finally skidding to a stop. There was a body laying on the sidewalk. It was hard to make out in the absence of adequate street lighting.

“Delta-Three to dispatch, 10-97 intersection of 14th and Cheshire, looks like we got an 11-44, investigating, over.”

Arrived at scene, deceased person – coroner required

“10-4 Delta-Three, out.”

Mike turned off the siren and then switched on the cruiser’s spot light and shone it in the direction of the body. There was something odd about it. Chuck got out of the car first and crouched low, using the car as cover, moving towards the front end. He drew his weapon and scanned the area, finger on the trigger guard. Mike opened his door and crouched behind it, drawing his weapon. It was three in the morning, and both officers knew that danger could jump out from anywhere. They both put on their night vision glasses and continued scanning the area. After a few intense minutes, Chuck sounded, “ALL CLEAR!”

“ALL CLEAR!” Mike returned.

They both put their guns away, withdrew their flashlights, and walked towards the body. As they got closer, they both looked at each other in surprise. This wasn’t a human body.

Chuck reached for his neck and clicked the personal radio relay device, “Dispatch, this is Delta-Three, Cancel 11-44. Body is not human. We have another iSAB deactivated.”

“10-4 Delta-Three, DoS will be notified, 10-23, over”

“Standby confirmed, dispatch, Delta-Three out.”

Chuck looked at Mike and sighed. “This is going to be a long night”.

“Wasn’t there reports of shooting?” Mike asked.

“Yeah, 10-71. Let’s break out the caution poles and block off the area. No doubt, news reporters will be here in a few minutes; we don’t want them contaminating the crime scene.

Mike began looking around the area to find any gun casings, as Chuck went to the trunk and grabbed the caution poles. The caution poles were no bigger than a man’s forearm with a disk-shaped bottom. He laid them in a perimeter around the body – ten yards out. Once he switched them on, a holographic ribbon displayed a yellow and black marquee notice - CAUTION : OFFICIAL PERSONNEL ONLY! – Chuck returned to assist Mike in looking for gun casings.

“Strange. We’ve been searching for over twenty minutes, and I see no signs of gunfire. I barely even see any signs of a struggle.” Mike said in a tone of frustration. “This is like the seventh one this quarter. What is this world coming to?”

“I don’t know, partner. Would be nice if they wouldn’t leave us in the dark regarding these specific incidents. Uh oh.” Chuck looked up. “They’ve started to arrive.”

Several news agencies in vans began rolling in like a swarm of locust over a cornfield. News anchors and cameramen began setting up.

“Dispatch, Delta-Three requesting multiple back-ups to assist with media control. We may need to block off more territory if -” Mike was interrupted.

“Delta-Three. This is Chief Sanchez. We are sending you back up. DoS has notified us that they will be there within the hour. We should be able to have things wrapped up before the morning commuters begin traveling through that area. In the mean time, keep the media at bay. You are only authorized to confirm a murder; all other details are deemed classified. Over and out.”

“10-4 chief, out!”

“We’ve got back up coming, Chuck. We just need to hold tight. DoS will be here shortly.”

“Uhm, yes I heard.” He laughed. “I’ll go head off the press; you keep an eye on things here.”

Mike grabbed a black blanket and laid it over the “corpse” while the news personnel were finished getting set up. Chuck headed over to the far right edge of the caution poles and stepped through. Just then, three squad cars pulled up near the same time. Six junior officers stepped out, and Chuck directed them to their spots along the perimeter. “Say nothing to the press other than, No comment. I am senior officer on deck and we have some specialists joining us soon. Once they show up, ask for their credentials and then lead them to me,” Chuck instructed his team. They all nodded in agreement and understanding, heading off to their assigned posts.

As the news journalists made their way from their staging areas around their vehicles to the perimeter set up earlier, Chuck moved to greet them. Near the same time, members of the press unloaded a barrage of questions with microphones and lights being shoved in his face.

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the press. Please – Please calm down. I am authorized to make a general statement.” Both of his arms were outstretched, with his hands waving, as he waited for everyone to calm down and pay attention to him. Grunts and huffs emanated from the crowd as they pressed forward, eager to hear what the officer had to say. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am Sargeant Chuck Meerkez. I have been instructed to let you know that there has been a murder. At this time, no other details can be released. That is all. Thank you.”

“Wait, what? That’s it? What the hell kind of bullshit statement is that?” A large breasted, blonde reporter nastily spoke out. Her top was barely able to hold everything in.

- Obviously she wasn’t hired for her skills. - Chuck thought. “I’m sorry, but yes; that is it. That is the only statement I’m authorized to give. Please excuse me as I do have to get back to the scene.” He quickly snapped back, tipped his hat, and walked back into the perimeter. Loud shouts and curses echoed from the reporters as they pressed forward. Three junior police officers closed in and began waving the irritated mob back.

“Boy, they don’t look happy, do they?” Mike said in all obviousness.

“No shit, Sherlock. I hate it when we have to do this. Did you find anything?”

“Not a thing. No shells, no footprints, no signs of struggle; nothing. Not sure where the idea of possible gang involvement came from. Looks to me, the robot just short-circuited.”

A half-hour later, three unmarked black Suburbans pulled up. Nine men climbed out of them, seven were obviously Augments. Each, almost seven feet tall, identical to the next. Their right forearms were replaced with 9mm motorized miniguns, and their belts were fed with a small metal container holding the extra rounds. Their left arm was replaced with a metal prosthetic replacement. Their torsos were enclosed in metal protective bulletproof armor, featuring a symbol painted on the front and back. Their left eyes were covered with a full spectrographic telescoping lens that allowed them to see great distances and in the full range of the electromagnetic spectrum. From the knee down, their legs were replaced with jump rods. The elastic cords allowed them to run at an incredible rate, as well as jump great distances. They were hybrid mechanical humans, generally hired out as mercenaries or bodyguards.

The group of news reporters immediately backed up. Two men, one black and one white, in dark grey pinstriped suits, sporting a matching fedora and Stacy Adams Spat boots, carrying silver, metal briefcases, moved towards one of the junior officers.

“Officer, I am Agent White. Who is in charge here?” The black man said with a deep authoritative voice as he flipped open his badge he’d removed from the inside pocket of his jacket.

“Th-Th-That would be Sargeant Meerkez, p-p-p-please wait here while I get him.” The junior officer stuttered nervously and immediately ran. He ended up falling in his haste as he tripped over one of the caution poles, knocking out the holographic “tape”. He fumbled to place it back upright and quickly excused himself with an apology and ran to get Sargeant Meerkez.

Agent White turned and looked at his partner with no exchange of emotion. The junior officer returned with Chuck. Chuck extended his hand and introduced himself to them. They both showed their badges again.

“I am Agent White, and this is Agent Brown. We are assuming control of this crime scene.” Again, face devoid of any emotion.

Chuck let out a laugh too quickly, and he tried to cover it up with a cough. “Is both of your middle names’ Ain’t?” His tongue slipped before he could think about what was flying out of his mouth.

“I fail to see the humor in your inquiry.” Agent Brown said with one eyebrow curiously raised, no emotion on his face.

“I-I’m sorry; that was unprofessional. What can we do to assist?” Chuck’s face turned bright red with embarrassment.

“You can get the fuck out of our way. Take your officers and move your caution poles fifty yards out. You will establish a one-block quarantine zone and stay out. Tell the press to go home or be arrested and jailed.” Agent White responded with a stare that was so cold it could have stopped Chuck’s heart.

“Arrested? On what grounds?” Again, Chuck’s mouth slipped faster than the filter in his brain could stop him.

With a sinister smile, Agent Brown stepped forward and extended his left hand, which was wrapped in a white cotton glove. It encircled Chuck’s neck and proceeded to effortlessly lift him up off the ground. Chuck immediately grabbed the Agent’s arm with both hands, trying to get free. Agent Brown’s head titled to one side, still with that smile, dark brown eyes staring into Chuck’s, “We don’t answer to you. You will do what you have been instructed or you will be sequestered. Understand?” His hand squeezed slightly harder, placing emphasis on his question.

In the back of his mind, he could have sworn there was a glimmer that flashed across Agent Brown’s eyes when he said “sequestered.” It sent chills down his spine. He could feel the darkness creep along the outer edges of his eyes as both of his carotid arteries were being compressed, cutting off the circulation of blood to his brain. “Yexks” Chuck struggled to answer with limited head movement up and down, signaling his affirmation.

“Excellent! Thank you for your cooperation.” Agent Brown let Chuck go, and he collapsed to the ground in a fit of coughing. Mike ran to his partner’s side.

The Augments began surrounding the body where the caution poles were, while the junior officers began establishing the extended perimeter. Chuck and Mike began ordering the press to vacate the area as instructed. It wasn’t long before everyone was in place, as the agents had ordered. Agent White knelt down with his briefcase and opened it. Agent Brown grabbed the blanket and removed it from the iSAB laying there, now in a pool of his own lubricant. He knelt down and opened his briefcase as well. The speed and efficiency to which they both worked the scene reminded him of when he and his brother would watch slapstick movies in fast forward. Samples were taken, cameras flashed, and devices with chaotic lights and strange noises scanned over the body.

Each Agent worked on separate areas, complimenting each other in a symphony of coordinated movements. Seven minutes passed and they both closed their briefcases simultaneously. Agent White depressed a small earpiece and mouthed a few words. One of the Augments walked to the middle Suburban, climbed in, and started it. Two Augments walked towards the body and stood there waiting. The Suburban pulled up parallel to the iSAB body and stopped. The other two Augments loaded it into the back and then climbed in. Agent Brown, closing his hand into a fist, twisted his wrist up to his face and began talking.

“Director, we are finished here. On our way back to The Shop.” – “Yes sir, full deactivation; just like the others.” – “Understood sir, ATA forty-three minutes, twenty-three point two zero seven seconds.”

He let his wrist drop back down to his side as he picked up his briefcase. He looked at Agent White and gave a curt nod. Agent White pressed his earpiece again and mouthed a few more words. The rest of the Augments began moving out, entering the other two Suburbans. Agent White followed them and entered the lead vehicle. Agent Brown walked to the outer perimeter and found Sergeant Meerkez.

“Sargeant Meerkez, a word please.” His tone was less threatening than before.

“Yes, Agent Brown?” His throat was still sore, but he didn’t want to give any impression of weakness or defeat. He stood up straight, shoulders back, eyes directly forward in a confrontational stare-down.

“I want to thank you for your department’s cooperation and speed of execution. Our report to your superiors will reflect your concerted efforts.” Agent Brown extended his hand in a friendly gesture for a shake.

Chuck uncontrollably flinched. Anger settled over his face. He was upset that he couldn’t maintain his front. He reached out and grabbed the hand firmly, “It was our pleasure Agent, I hope your investigation goes well. If there is anything you need from us in the future, feel free to contact our Chief.”

“Excellent, I’m sure we will soon. Have a pleasant day.” Agent Brown spun on his heel and returned to the third Suburban, climbed in, and all three vehicles left.

As the Suburbans vanished out of sight, Chuck walked back over to the squad car and climbed in. Mike was already there. He placed the ring finger of his right hand on a small fingerprint scanner to the right of the steering wheel, and the car roared to life.

“Shit, dude, are you ok?” Mike asked as he was eyeballing the bruises forming over Chuck’s neck, a bit more obvious than he had intended.

“What the fuck was that guy’s problem? He had no sense of humor, and his actions were totally uncalled for!” Chuck replied in an elevated voice of irritation. He rubbed his neck and winced a little. “I guess I’ll be ok. What an asshole!”

“I don’t know, partner. The whole thing didn’t feel right. I mean, who brings THAT much firepower to a “glitch” investigation?” His eyes were wide as his hands flailed in a fit of frustration.

“Oh well, not much more we can do about it now. It’s four o’clock. We still have another few hours before shift change. Do you want to…” He stopped, as he was looking in his rear view mirror to back up and leave. He put the car in park and turned his head around as if his eyes were playing tricks on him. “What the fuck is this now? Did they forget something?”

Mike looked at him in surprise as he whipped his head around to see what Chuck was talking about. Three black unmarked Suburbans pulled up across the street and stopped. One man got out of the lead vehicle and began walking towards the squad car. Chuck turned off the car and opened his door to step out. As he was stepping out, he unsecured the strap that was holding his gun in its holster and he placed his hand on it. Mike followed suit and got out of the car as well.

A tall, lanky black man sporting a bald head and a tightly trimmed goatee, wearing black slacks with an olive drab polo greeted the two men in uniform with a big smile, “Morning officers, I am sorry we were running a bit late. We spoke with your Captain earlier. We are from the Department of Sentience. You must be Chuck. My name is -”

“Let me guess, Agent White?”

“Are you trying to be funny? We don’t go by ‘agent’ anything. I am Doctor Sairja, we are here for the iSAB that was kil – er, uh – deactivated.” A displeased look followed his tone as he held out a plastic identification card featuring his name, job title, DoS logo, with a scanner code at the bottom.

“You’ve got to be shitting me!” Mike exclaimed as he ran back to the car. Chuck just stood there holding the ID card, staring at it in disbelief.
Financing and Managing a webcomic called Geeks & Goblins.


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cadbrowser
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Re: Prime Mover

Post by cadbrowser » 2014-06-03 11:14am

Chapter IV - Revelations


“Finally, a nice hot shower.” She said in tone of quiet relief.

The hot water and heavy pressure from the four brass shower heads pelted her body in all directions like a Chinese masseuse expertly working out those tender and sore muscles. She’d noticed that Johnny had already laid out the clothing she was to wear today on her bed. It was perfectly pressed. Not a single wrinkle or trace amount of fuzz would be found on them. He wasn’t there she thankfully thought. Johnny would be out already, making sure the conference room was in order for the breakfast meeting.

She stood there with her eyes closed, her body leaning against the light brown tile, allowing the sensation of a million tiny hands hit her all over her body.

“I don’t fink you wealwize the wammifications of your wesearch, Cadence.” The portly man sat with a furrowed brow behind his desk. “You shouldn’t pway Gawd!” His voice was deep, almost intimidating, if it weren’t for his speech impediment. Professor Xenakis was her favorite college instructor. She loved the philosophical debates that they would get into. He was a challenging, tricky, and formidable debating opponent.

“Now now, Professor, your logic is divulging into areas of superstition. Superstition has no place in science. You know this. There is nothing wrong with my research in to biomechanical synthesis. My whole doctorate is based on it. I see no moral grounds to discontinue my research.” She calmly replied.

“Be dat as it may, it is still a vewy vewy bad idea. Spwicing DNA and nanotechnowogy to wender new species of wife could possibwy destwoy vast ecosystems. You -”

“I don’t think so. I have a specific goal here in mind. Certain safeguards can be put in place to make sure there aren’t any runaways. A measure of guaranteed artificial control. It almost sounds like you fear what you don’t understand.”

“Nofing in dis wowld is gawanteed. I undewstand youw dowtowate just fine. I wasn’t litewawy insinuwating that you were pwawing gawd. It is a figuw of speech. I just fink thewe is no way you can wimit wife once you go down that paf. Wife always finds a way, dat is da dwiver for pwocweashun…to continue…to multipwy!”

“I see what you are trying to say. I just didn’t think you would be as alarmist about it as you sound. Technology has come a long way. Even since I’ve been born! I mean, come on. We have machines that have developed sentience. SENTIENCE!” She let that last word hang in the air for a moment. “Consider that. We are already playing god! I am just better at it than He is.” A big, gloating smile drew across her face as her eyes widened at the sheer implication of her last statement.

Professor Xenakis looked down at his desk rubbing his forehead. He cleared his throat, and sat still in contemplation, searching for the right words. As his head rose, his eyes met hers and he opened his mouth…

“Doctor Alkum, are you alright?” A repeated thumping noise intermixed the inquisitive and odd monotone voice.

She looked at the professor, tilting her head in confusion as he was mouthing the words. That noise, it was coming from nowhere, yet everywhere all at once. She turned her head and began to speak -

“Doctor Alkum, I repeat. Are you alright?” The thumping grew a little louder.

- Why did Professor Xenakis keep mouthing those works in that voice? -

The door handle jiggled, Cadence opened her eyes and jolted, almost loosing her balance. The water had turned lukewarm. She looked around, her mind in a slight fog. No, it wasn’t her mind in a fog, she was literally seeing steam. Shower. She was dreaming. She then quickly realized it was Johnny knocking on the bathroom door.

- Shit, how long have I been out? What time is it? -

“I- I’m fine Johnny, just fell asleep in the shower. What time is it?” She asked in a rushed, panicked voice.

“It is seven-thirty in the morning.”

- Damn! Only a half-hour to get to the conference room! -

“Ok, go back to the conference room and wait for the others to get there. Make sure they get started with breakfast. I will be there shortly.”

“Of course Doctor Alkum.”

She shut off the water and hopped out of the shower, grabbed a towel and began drying off. She had to race against the clock. She has never been late to a meeting or appointment in her life. She was the paragon of punctuality. Her reputation demanded it. To be late, was to be disorganized. Disorganization led others to view you as weak or lazy. No, she couldn’t have that. Not today. Not ever.

***


“What the fuck happened out there?” Chief Sanchez hollered in a red-cheeked display of anger and frustration. The vein, just above his left eye, grew larger and pulsated rapidly.

He was slightly bent over, both hands planted firmly on the desk. His eyes fixed on the two officers, standing in attention, responsible for the loss of a victim to an already odd crime. His face was beet red, he stood there with his mouth clenched so hard that Mike was sure his boss would break a few teeth.

“Captain, sir…uhm…I’m just as puzzled as you are. I don’t know exactly what happened. The Agent appeared to have the proper identification.” Chuck answered timidly.

Captain Sanchez stood there glaring. Chuck wasn’t sure what to say next. He knew his answer wasn’t what his boss wanted to hear. In fact, Chuck was equally convinced that there was no answer that he or his partner could come up with that could satisfy the captain’s question. He began to open his mouth again…

“Well holy shit covered peanuts on an ass cream sunday! Do you realize the fucking firestorm that is going to rain down on this goddamn department because of this?” Chief Sanchez roared.

“I -” Mike volunteered.

“That was a fucking rhetorical question. Get out of my sight! I want a detailed report of everything within the hour. I want it so detailed that my imagination can smell the fucking pavement where that iSAB lay! Now I got to involve the FBI. Jesus, Mother Mary, and Joseph! You two really fucked up!”

Chuck and Mike lowered their heads and walked out of the office. They each retreated back to their desk to finish their police reports.

“Computer, call FBI, local office – on-screen.” Chief Sanchez barked.

“Dialing, hold for connect.” The female voice replied. There was a slight pause. “Connected.”

“Federal Bureau of Investigations, how may I direct your call?”

“This is Chief of Police Sanchez of the Monopolis PD. I need to find out who to talk to because we had an incident where a body was lost to a group of men impersonating the DoS.”

“Hold please, redirecting.”

“Good morning Chief Sanchez, this is Special Agent Connor Rhesce speaking. I understand you were involved in a DoS impersonation at a crime scene?”

“Well, it wasn’t me specifically, two of my officers were involved earlier. They are completing their reports of the incidents. They should be done within the hour.”

“I see. What was the crime committed that they were investigating?”

“According to Officer Baker, it was initially called in as a possible homicide, but when officers arrived on the scene it was a robot that had just shorted out.”

“You need to isolate your Officer Baker, and anyone else who was at the scene immediately! We will be there in twenty minutes.”

“Uh, oh I don’t -”

“This is not a request Chief Sanchez. Twenty minutes or face federal charges. Goodbye.”

Chief Sanchez just sat there for a few minutes stunned. His mind raced. He pressed an icon on his desk.

“Maria; get Mike and Chuck in here now please, this is urgent.”

“Yes sir.”

***


“Samuel…Samuel…Sam…Wake up. Time to get ready for your GED classes.”

Samuel opened his eyes slowly. He rubbed them and picked a few flecks of sleep out of the corners.

“I’m awake, mom.” He said in a slow grumbled voice.

“I will have waffles, bacon, and a glass of orange juice ready for when you get out of the shower!”

“Ok mom, thank you.”

Samuel slowly climbed out of bed, still stiff from the night before. He walked out of his room and open the door to the linen closet to retrieve a fresh towel for his shower. He walked into the bathroom and closed the door. He inspected a few bruises that formed on his upper thighs. -Damn, these are gonna hurt for a while.- He turned on the water and climbed in.

Samuel got dressed after his shower and walked into the kitchen where his mom was preparing breakfast. He gave her a hug from behind and then sat down at the table and took a drink of his orange juice. She turned to him and smiled. It was a smile that he saw more and more in the last year. She was proud and her face beamed with happiness. With the work that he was doing, he was able to get his mom a respectable home, and a reliable car. His studies were going well and he delighted in the fact that he would be earning his GED within the next month. He still visits Mr & Mrs Cowel to give them money to help others.

“I still miss him you know. A lot.” Samuel said with a sad look on his face.

“I know Sam, I do too. It isn’t fair that he was taken from us. It wasn’t fair for you. Life can be so cruel. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make all of the hurt and pain go away.”

“I know mom. I was talking with Brian the other day and asked him if he knew what caused iSABs to malfunction like that.”

“Oh really? It is good that you are talking to him about these things. What did he say?” She plated up the waffles and brought them to the table.

“You might think this is crazy, but he said that there is a branch of the government that was conducting paranormal research to find evidence of an afterlife. I mean, imagine being able to tap into some of the world’s worst criminals and masterminds to recruit them in a scheme to gain control of the world. Well, they succeeded and these singularity events are the spirits of the demons and evil dead possessing the iSABS. They aren’t really becoming self-aware like we are being told.”

“Wait…are you serious? This is what you are being told?”

“Well, why else would dad have been killed by a construction robot going berserk during a…uh, you know; that event thing – “

“Singularity Event?”

“Uh, yeah…that! It makes sense. A demon tried to possess the robot. If it wasn’t for the rest of the crew that disabled it, more people would have died.”

“I don’t know, Sam; it seems pretty far-fetched to me. How do you, or Brian, explain the fact that there hasn’t been another incident like that since…anywhere?”

“These demons have evolved to understand and learn how to transition into our robots without causing a violent overload. They have perfected the idea of becoming wolves in sheep’s clothing!”

“Wow, this sounds like a plotline to a great book, or movie. Maybe even a comic book?” She said with a smile, trying to hide her slight mocking tone.

“Mom, don’t do that. There is evidence and proof that a massive war will happen, the problem is, the government thinks it has control; but they will fail. They will end humanity as we know it. We have to stop them!”

“Uhuh, how are you proposing to do that?”

Samuel just sat there looking down at his half-finished waffle. He grabbed his orange juice and took a drink. He knew he couldn’t tell her really what he was doing. He couldn’t tell her about the intense training, the recruiting, the half-truths. The fact that he was now a Lieutenant in command of a small squad of men and women actively seeking to end any machine that becomes self-aware. He grabbed a piece of bacon to stall and collect his thoughts.

“Well?” His mom looked at him.

“I don’t know.” His reply sounded unconvincing, but she couldn’t tell if it was out of a sense of hopelessness, or something else. “I got to get going mom, or I’m going to be late.”

She smiled slightly. She understood his sense of revenge. The feelings that there needs to be justice for the death of his dad. She felt it too, but she wasn’t buying into this knee-jerk, panicked, doomsday story. For now, she agreed to herself that she would allow Sam to think what he needed, but that she would monitor his behavior for any problems.

“Ok sweetie. Finish your breakfast and get going. I will see you at dinner time.”

He quickly finished and took his plate to the sink and rinsed it off. He gave his mom a quick peck on the top of her head as he grabbed his backpack and headed out the door.

***


“Doctor Alkum to Lab 10B, Doctor Alkum 10B.” Karl’s voice calmly requested over the company’s paging system.

Doctor Alkum was sitting at her desk reviewing the presentations highlighting the department head’s programs and their progress that was given at the meeting earlier this morning. She looked at the clock on the left screen – 14:21. - Good! - She thought to herself. She got up from her desk, hit the standby icon for her computer, and walked out the office door. Johnny was sitting there in his area interfaced with the building’s network system. His head twitching rapidly from side to side.

“Johnny, I am going to Lab 10B. I want you to hold my messages until I get back.”

“Acknowledged.”

She proceeded to walk to her personal elevator and the doors immediately opened. She stepped inside and depressed the “10” button. The doors closed and she rapidly dropped to the tenth floor. The familiar ding notified her that she’d arrived at her destination. She stepped out to be greeted by a security guard wearing sunglasses sitting at a white table. The room was as small as a bathroom painted a glossy white. His right hand was clutching a semi-automatic gun fixed to the underside of the desk.

“Good afternoon Doctor Alkum.” The guard said in a cheerful tone. “Step forward, swipe your clearance card and then validate your identity in the scanners please.”

“Good afternoon Bruce.”

She walked over to the desk, withdrew her badge and swiped it in the reader. A green light indicated the badge was current and valid. She proceeded to lay her palms flat down on the two black panels that were fingerprint scanners. She bent over and peered into a dual retina scanner and waited. A few short moments later, two more green lights lit up.

“Thank you. You are cleared to enter.” Bruce pushed a black button on the desk and a portion of the wall, the size of a door, behind the guard’s post disappeared to reveal a hallway.

She nodded curtly with a smile and walked past the desk and into the hallway. She stopped at a keypad and entered her personal code. The small display above the keypad brought up her profile showing her picture, security level, and clothing measurements. The door unlatched and she stepped inside.

“You are now entering a Level 7 BioLab, please remove all jewelry and clothing and place it in the receptacle to your left. It will be available when you are done. Please push the blue button to continue to step two.”

Cadence did as she was asked and then she pressed the blue button.

“Thank you. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, arms out to your sides parallel to the floor, fingers and toes spread, eyes and mouth shut, and your chin held straight. You will now be uncontaminated. Do not move until decon is complete.”

A light steam began to fill the room reducing visual range. After a few minutes three nozzles dropped down from the ceiling and began to rotate spraying a light foam solution over her body. The floor began to ooze foam underneath her feet as well. Another few minutes passed and the nozzles shut off and returned to their stationary position.

“Once the foam has dissolved you will dress in the safe suit and proceed forward into the lab.”

Bright lights came on and the foam began to dissolve almost instantly. A few seconds later the bright lights returned to normal level and the last few foam bubbles dissipated. Dr. Alkum walked over to the safe suit and put it on. It was a white, one piece outfit equipped that zipped up the front with sensors integrated into the fabric mesh for measuring vitals and reporting them to the main system. It covered every square inch of the user’s body which didn’t leave much to the imagination. Key support pieces and molded plates help maintain some slight level of decency. The helmet was equipped with monitors, microphone, and speakers on the inside. An air purification rebreather was built into the small backpack connected to the helmet via a carbon-fiber reinforced hose.

A door opened in front of her and she stepped inside. As soon as that door shut another opened in front of her into the actual laboratory. She stepped through and was greeted by the Twins.

“Glad you finally made it Cadence!” Mara gushed. “We have some exciting news to share!”

“Excellent, How is Mother?”

“She is maintaining healthy vitals well above established parameters.” Karl remarked.

“This is good news. It’s a shame we couldn’t have pulled it off without a surrogate. Those artificial wombs just needed more work.”

The lab was separated by glass rooms. Each room consisted of different experiments. Some had cats, others had dogs, several had mice, and a few had monkeys. There was only one which held a human female. She was suspended in a gyroscope, with soft restraints that held her in place. No single body part rested in the same position for more than a few moments. Hoses and wires from various medical machines ran from her body. He stomach was swollen. They walked down the corridor and entered the room containing the female. Three medical iSABs constantly monitored her condition.

“Oh Karl, she looks painfully overdue. Yet, by my estimates she is just beginning her third trimester, correct?” Cadence noted with a hint of sorrow in her voice.

“That is correct. That is part of the news we need to share with you. By all reason she should not be ready for birthing for another ten weeks minimum. This is something we hadn’t calculated into the equation is the possibility of rapid fetal development.”

Everyone looked up to watch Mother’s muscles contract all over her body for a few minutes. Cadence shook her head to return to the conversation.

“What exactly are you saying?”

Mara broke in “I know that is a little weird to witness. About four weeks ago we had to induce a comatose state. Mother was becoming stressed and complacent, so for the benefit of the offspring, we decided to suspend her body to reduce the possibility of bed sores. The electrical stimuli guarantees against muscle atrophy.” Cadence nodded in understanding while Karl responded directly to her question.

“The development is happening at a quicker scale. We are ready to proceed with the caesarean within the next hour! Come here and look at this sample of the amniotic fluid we extracted this morning.”

All three walked over to the electron microscope. Ultrasonic monitors were still recording the full 3D development since inception. Cadence stopped, she could feel the relief wash over her. Finally her life’s work has come to a head. After countless failures and disasters, this one experiment went absolutely right. She counted the fetuses on the monitor.

“Is that right? Five?”

“Yes! We’re having Quintuplets! Out of the initial twelve embryos implanted, five were viable to full term!” Marla screeched.

“Wow, that is a lot better odds than my calculations gave. What happened to the remains of the others that didn’t make it? I mean, I don’t see anything on the monitors that indicate there were more.”

“Oh, uhm…well. They were cannibalized and reintegrated into the survivors. It happened last week. It was pretty gruesome.”

“Cannibalized? That is unexpected. Do you -”

“Anyway…” Karl impatiently butted in with a slight indication of annoyance, “The properties within the amniotic fluid, as you can see, show specific chemical markers that indicate complete nanonucleic synthesis.”

Cadence peered into the electron microscope to verify the findings.

“So it seems Karl. Is Phase 4 ready for the new arrivals then?”

“Phase 4 was stepped up two weeks ago in light of our updated simulations. They finished them yesterday. Our models suggest isolated incubation for at least four months before we can begin adaptation tests.”

“Ugly little fuckers aren’t they?” Cadence remarked in a whisper.

Mara and Karl turned their helmet covered heads looking at Cadence. She couldn’t see behind their protective covering, but she imagined their eyes wide and their mouth hung open. She forgot the microphone clearly replicated and recorded all sounds for completeness. She rarely used such language in the lab areas.

Fighting to break the awkward silence Cadence continued, “Very well then, let’s get to work. What does the model suggest for Mother? Is she expected to survive the procedure and make a full recovery?”

“The chances are about 50/50.” Karl said matter of factly. “Of course, those chances drop to just above 30% if something goes wrong that we couldn’t predict.”

“It’s no matter. Mother is expendable. The offspring is what is important. Let’s get her prepped and notify the Phase 4 group. I will take lead.”

“Already done. I wouldn’t have it any other way Doctor Alkum.”

***


He sat there, staring straight ahead, waiting for his guest to meet him there. He wore a black jogging outfit with a hood pulled up to hide his face. The blackness of the moonless night aided in his covert attempt. He rehearsed over and over the response he was supposed to give when the challenge came. He was surprised to see a few dog owners running the exercise trail here at Dog Run. Several times his eyes would fixate upon an approaching stranger only to have them run by without issuing a challenge. He was deep in thought, staring off in the distance, he didn’t even notice another stranger with a small white french poodle approaching.

“Ahhh, a moonless night, safe from ravages of tales forgotten. No chance our beloved critters could be taken on this night by werewolves!”

The man, sitting on the bench, flinched a little at the unexpected dialogue, then turned his head to look at whatever was talking. Another person, dressed in similar black attire had stopped and was now looking across the landscape. - Shit, that was the challenge! – He had to quickly remember the correct response, if he took too long the guest would continue on and not look back. If he messed anything up, his boss would be furious. - CONCENTRATE! - He yelled inside of his own head.

“Even the night itself is terrified, not by that which can be seen, but that which cannot.” He responded, hoping he got it right.

The guest reached inside his pocket. The man tensed up expecting a fatal wound. - It’s a ball. A ball? Oh shit, duh…for the poodle. Ok, good I did say it right. - He breathed a sigh of relief. The guest threw the ball and the poodle darted across the grassy park for its toy.

“You are the one they call the Iceman?” The guest inquired as he sat down on the opposite end of the bench.

“Yes I am. Are you in any way involved with an agency of the law?”

“No sir, I am not. My associates require your expertise. Are you familiar with corporate espionage?”

“I am a thief of the highest caliber. I generally don’t mingle with corporate affairs, usually private collections against public agencies.” Iceman reacted as if he’d been slapped.

“I see. I am authorized to offer you a handsome bonus if you consider taking this job for us, as well as another substantial bonus upon successful completion.”

“Interesting proposal. How much do you consider a bonus?”

“Check your offshore account Iceman, you may keep it even if you decide that this job isn’t for you. However, the bonus will be doubled upon acceptance, and then doubled again upon successful completion.”

The poodle bound towards his master with great speed, ball in mouth. She laid it down at his feet, sat and gave him a penetrating look. He picked up the ball and launched it again. Iceman was impressed by how fast the dog reacted to the throw, and the fact that the dog seemed unhampered visually to track the ball against the night sky. Iceman pulled out his phone, he didn’t ignore the resourcefulness of his potential client. It bothered him that they were able to track down his account information. He couldn’t figure out how. - Possibly a pre-existing client? – He punched in a few keys and nearly choked.

“Twenty-five million! Are you for real?”

“Yes, we are for real. Say you will accept and your account will increase by fifty million immediately. Successfully complete the task and you get an additional One hundred million. All tax-free. This is a limited offer I need to know now.”

His mind raced, trying to pick out the good and the bad. It seemed his own strict code was breaking down. Never before had he rushed the decision for a job. He never decided without knowing at least what the job entailed. He had also NEVER been offered so much money for a job. He decided to pry for information before admitting acceptance.

“What exactly does your associates need me to do?”

“Does this mean you accept?”

- Damn! This guy isn’t budging – “Uhm…yes, I will accept this job.”

The guest reached into his other pocket and pulled out two satellite phones. He pushed a button on one and waited for it to connect. By that time, the poodle returned with his slobbery prize. Clutching the phone between his cheek and shoulder, he reached down and picked up the ball once again and threw it. Without hesitation the dog tore after the ball.

“Inform the board members that the Iceman has accepted. Release the sign on bonus immediately.” The guest spoke into the phone and then pushed another button and ended the call. He returned that phone to his pocket. He then outstretched his hand to give Iceman the second phone. Iceman reached out.

“Iceman, you are now fifty million credits richer.” The guests turned and looked it his eyes with a bright expression and a grin from ear to ear. “Our associates are elated.” His eyes narrowed and his lips tightened. “In exactly thirty-six hours from…” He brought up his left arm to look at a sleek sports watch. “…now, you will go to the Union Station. You will go to Level B and extract five hundred and one credits from the ATM near the concession stand. Then you will walk to Level C and slip the guard at the Titanic Exhibit those credits. He will hand you a newspaper. Take that newspaper and go home. Inside the newspaper will be a disc containing everything you need to know about the job.”

The guest relinquished the phone.

“Wow, very cloak and dagger of you! Very well, what is the phone for?”

“Should the need arise, we may need to contact you in case information changes. Once you obtain the packet, you will understand. On the flip side, should you need to contact us, this phone is encrypted, for whatever reason, you can. Don’t bother trying to trace the only contact in the phone, you will fail.”

“I get it. Don’t worry, your antimony is safe. What do I call you?”

“Iceman, you don’t want to know my name. If you do, it usually means that you have royally fucked up and are near death. If everything goes well, you will never hear from me again.”

Those words struck his mind like an ice pick being shoved into his ear. Surely, he figured, that if he backed out now after already saying yes that he would indeed find out who this character’s name is. His mind raced some more, logically concluding that failure wasn’t an option either. - Fuck me! -

“Understood, thirty-six hours, Union Station.”

“No, Thirty-five hours, forty-three minutes, seven seconds…and counting. The sat phone I gave you is synced in countdown mode. Do not forget and fail.”

Iceman looked at the front of the phone and verified the countdown. He nodded his head up and down and then put the phone inside his hoodie pocket. By this time, the poodle returned one last time. The guest stood up and without word, grabbed the ball, put it in his pocket, and then proceeded to jog. The dog took one last glance at Iceman and gave a low whine, then took off after his master. They disappeared quickly into the night.

Iceman sat there for a few more minutes in contemplation. His heart was racing as fast as his mind now. He stood up, stretched his body for a few minutes and decided for a light jog in the opposite direction of the guest and his dog. The night air felt good filtering through his nostrils, into his lungs, and out of his mouth. He jogged for several miles before stopping in an unlit alleyway. He removed the heavy, cast-iron sewer lid and climbed downward.

Two homeless men stepped out and replaced the sewer lid immediately. He winded around several unmarked passages of water and slime until he came to a small elevated section. He walked up the ramp and stood in front of a large metal door with a combination lock. He turned several knobs in varying directions until a loud CLICK echoed off the surrounding walls. He turned a large diameter crank and the door slowly opened. He walked inside and then turned to close the door. A loud latching sound resonated inside the structure.

“Nothing like the security of a bank vault to keep you feeling safe.”
Financing and Managing a webcomic called Geeks & Goblins.


"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." -Ozzy
"Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded." - Sparky Polastri
"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum." - Frank Nada

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cadbrowser
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Re: Prime Mover

Post by cadbrowser » 2014-06-03 11:19am

Chapter V - Butcher


*Twenty Years Ago*


“Did you come alone?” A soft, raspy whisper echoed off the small alleyway. The buildings here on this block were all brick. They were constructed precariously close to one another. Close enough, that even a short man with enough strength could brace himself between the two and walk straight up to the roof.

“Y-yes. Where are you?” Tina said in a light tremble. She tried to sound braver than she was feeling at the moment.

- Shit on me, what have I gotten myself into? -

“Did you bring the package?”

Tina spun around peering into the darkness, hoping to catch a glimpse of her mystery guest.

“Yes, it is all here, five hundred thousand, as we agreed.”

She’d never meet this person before. Only conversed via coded ads online. She was looking for justice. The police weren’t any help, those criminals left no traces of evidence. It was now a cold case. All leads had been exhausted. Her mom, her dad, and two younger brothers were all murdered during a botched robbery six months ago. At least that’s what the police report said. She had been away traveling with a few of her best girlfriends visiting potential universities to attend college. She recounted the call from the police the morning after the incident. Tina decided to take matters into her own hands.

“Did you make the arrangements like I suggested?”

“Yes, the suicide note is in place. I have liquidated all of my assets and they are taken care of. Your associate will take care of the rest?” Her fear began to ease a little. Best case scenario, she came here and got what she wanted, or she would be killed. It was worth the risk as she had nothing left to lose and nothing left to live for.

“Yes, my associate is already en route. Now, open the bag and hold it above your head.” The voice in the darkness ordered.

She unzipped the large duffle bag and held it over her head.

“Good. Lower the bag and close it. Take two steps forward, then side step to the right one step.”

She lowered the bag and zipped it back up while taking the first two steps forward and then with the bag at her side, long strap around her shoulder, she took a side step to the right. She heard a Click. Just as she turned to see where the noise came from she felt a pinch in her neck. Immediately darkness filled her mind’s eyes and she went unconscious.

- So groggy - She felt cold, her spacial awareness was hampered by blurred vision and muffled noises that seemed to sporadically come from varying directions. She wanted to sit up and rub her eyes to get them into focus. Nothing. She couldn’t even move her head to look around. - Constrained? Or Still Drugged? – She wondered in her head. She heard metal clicking noises getting closer and she saw two red orbs hovering above her. That familiar pinch in the neck and she was out again.

- Floating? Did I die? – She opened her eyes. It was pitch black. She had no sense of time. She strained harder to see, to hear, to feel. She felt a twisting inside of her eyeball and all of a sudden dark shadows cast in green light came into view. She still couldn’t yet focus on anything in particular. - Well, obviously I’m not dead. If I am, this is the weirdest afterlife I’ve never heard of. – She tried moving her arms up to her face. Something was in her mouth. She heard a muffled alarm. - Oh shit, not again! – Darkness filled her mind yet again.

“…my best work yet, aye Scratch?”

The chirps, beeps, and boops awoke Tina. She could feel that she was laying down. She desperately wanted to move; unfortunately the signals failed to reach the intended limb being commanded. She opened her eyes expecting total darkness.

“Agh! It burns!” She screamed.

“Just relax Tina. You haven’t used your new eyes yet. Squint, they will adjust, then slowly open your eyes a little at a time.”

“Where am I? Who are you? How long have I been out?” She said angrily.

“All in good time, Tina. You need to rest.”

She could hear footsteps getting closer, she felt that all too familiar pinch.

“You mother fu-”

A hallow dull thumping woke Tina up again. She was able to open her eyes for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. She opened them slowly and found the pain to be bearable. She saw a thin midget with a large head hitting the side of a large cylindrical tank that held her naked, submerged body. He had pudgy little fingers, a balding head, thick glasses, and a white overcoat. There was a hose in her mouth feeding her oxygen. Hundreds of long, tiny needles protruded from her all over her body that were connected to wires leading out of the tank which terminated at a complex control panel. Small waves of electricity stimulated her muscles causing her to twitch at random. Again she tried to move, only to find that the stimulation intensified the muscle to where it wouldn’t cooperate.

“Good evening Tina.” A cheery, muffled voice called from the other side. “You may call me Doc. Your body has responded well to the augmentation process and is healing faster than I gave it credit for. I am going to turn off the electromyostimulator and then lift you out. Please be patient with me while we get all of those pins out of your body. My assistant and I will go as fast as we can.”

Tina breathed a sigh of relief. - Good, I was getting irritated with being blacked out. – She gave her host a slight nod. Doc walked around to the opposite side of the tank and pushed a button on the control panel. Instantaneously she felt her body go limp and she began to feel like she was floating. In actuality, Doc had initiated the body crane to lift Tina out of the tank. He suspended her a mere foot above the ground by the thin straps that held her body in place.

He looked down at her and smiled, “This will take some time and might cause some mild discomfort. So, please remain calm, breathe steadily, and try not to talk just yet. I will answer all of your questions when we get done.” Doc fiddled with the oxygen hose for a few seconds and then pulled it out. Two smaller tubes that she hadn’t seen or felt came free of her nostrils. There was a strange sensation in her stomach.

- That wasn’t an oxygen hose in my mouth, it was a feeding tube! – She thought suppressing her gag reflex.

“Scratch, your assistance is required.” Doc hollered.

Tina was able to careen her head in the direction of a series of high-pitched clicking noises. A domed mechanical insect looking thing with eight spindly legs and red sensors placed around its perimeter raced across the floor from an opening to another room. It wasn’t any bigger than a medium-sized dog. As it got closer, it chirped and beeped. Her eyes widened in horror as she turned back and looked at the doctor.

“What the fuck is that?” She said hysterically.

Doc let out a hearty laugh, “Oh dearie, that is my assistant. You needn’t be worried. I built him myself.” He let out a grin from ear to ear. “In fact, Scratch here carried out about eighty-five percent of your transformation. Under my direction, of course!” He winked at her.

Tina let out a nervous giggle. Doc and Scratch began removing all of the needles from her body. She couldn’t help but lay there embarrassed by the fact that she was still stark naked. Doc never lingered in any particular spot, he kept his hands moving. She found a bit of comfort in that his demeanor and concentration remained professional. With small talk as a distraction, the process was over before she knew it. Her body was still sore like she’d been laying on a bed of nails.

“Ok, Tina. That does it.” He grabbed the controls to the crane and moved her to the room that Scratch had earlier came from. He lowered her to the bed and detached the harness. With assistance from Scratch, he rolled her onto her side and removed the rest of the harness. “Here you go. On your bedside table I have supplied you with a protein and vitamin enriched drink. I want you to finish that before you go to sleep. You have been through quite a bit and I want you to take it easy. Tomorrow, we will get that catheter removed and have some breakfast. I’m sure you have a ton of questions.”

She didn’t argue. She could feel her body giving in to the discomfort. She was wore out. She only nodded as she pulled the covers over her. She reached over and found the drink Doc was talking about and slammed it down. It actually didn’t taste that bad. That done, she closed her eyes.

Tina awoke to the smell of eggs and bacon. Fresh roasted coffee lingered in the air. She tossed the blankets over to one side and sat up at the edge of her bed. She rubbed her eyes and looked around. It was still a little dark and she squinted to find a light switch on the wall near the doorway. Much to her surprise, she felt her eyes twitch slightly and then a flicker; suddenly everything was clearly visible and magnified double. It was like she projected light from the middle of her forehead and put on magnifying glasses. She shook her head and rubbed her eyes again. Slowly she looked up and everything was dark again. Tina squinted harder this time.

“Holy fuck! What am I looking at now?” She whispered to herself.

She could see a short skeleton on top of a stool a distance away hunching over what appeared to be a stove. Something caught the right corner of her eye, another tall skeleton closer than the short one. It rounded the corner and she could hear a knock. She shook her head again and rubbed her eyes once more.

“C-Come in.” Tina called out.

A tall woman in a slinky nurse’s uniform opened the door and stepped through. She turned on the light. Tina went to cover her eyes for a brief moment so the sudden light wouldn’t cause discomfort in her eyes. Instead her eyes automatically adjusted to allow a comfortable amount of light in and quickly adjusted to normal.

“Ah, you are up. Good. You can call me Nurse. Doc asked me to stop by and see if you are ready to have that catheter removed.”

Tina noticed that the nurse wasn’t human. She was an iSAB curiously modified to fit whatever crazy fantasy Doc was in to. Which, apparently, was a blonde with extra silicon filling out a few key anatomical features.

Tina shook her head and replied in a sluggish tone, “Sure Nurse, that is fine. What do you want me to do?”

“Just lay back and relax, I will make this as quick and painless as possible.”

Nurse placed one hand on Tina’s belly and she grabbed the plastic tube with the other. A quick tug, a sharp pain, a shrill curse word, and it was done. Nurse grabbed the bag holding the urine and turned to walk out. The door automatically opened. She stopped at the door and turned back.

“Tina, I took the liberty of obtaining a few garments in your size. They are in the closet over there.” She pointed to the double sliding door. “It is good to have you here. I haven’t seen Doc this excited and happy in a while.” She turned and walked out. Her posterior bounced a little as she walked.

- ok, now THAT was weird! -

Tina got up out of bed and walked over to the closet doors. She slid it open and revealed a large walk-in closet with a variety of tops, shoes, and jeans. In the back was a dresser that held socks, underwear, and bras. Tina was in a bit of shock. Apparently five-hundred thousand credits got you the red carpet treatment. She found a cute matching bra and panty set, black, and put it on. She grabbed a pair of blue jeans and a pumpkin orange t-shirt and threw them on. A pair of white socks and a comfortable set of two-tone orange tennis shoes completed her outfit. She walked out to see Doc.

“Good morning Doc. Breakfast sure smells good.” She said cheerfully as she grabbed a seat at the table. “I smell coffee, where are the cups?”

“Ahhh, good morning dearie.” He replied back, not taking his eyes away from the pan full of eggs. “Cups are in the cupboard to the right of the sink; a spoon, the cream, and sugar are next to the coffee pot. Help yourself.”

“Thanks.” Tina got up and prepared herself a cup of coffee and then sat back down. “So, what in the hell did you do to me? How long was I out?” She lifted her cup and took a sip. Her eyes rolled in the back of her head at the amazing flavor. - Now THIS is heaven! -

Doc scooped the last of the eggs from the pan and placed them on their plates along with fried potato cubes and thick hearty slices of bacon. He hopped down from his cube, reached up and grabbed both plates and carried them to the table. He sat one down in front of Tina, and placed the other across the small wooden table. He then hopped up and sat himself down.

“Tina… ” He paused to take a bite. “…you were out for a total of three months.” Tina dropped her fork and looked at him in shock. “It is ok dearie, none to fret. We did extensive work and I am exceedingly pleased at the results. Instead of telling you what we did, after breakfast, we’ll go to the training room and I’ll SHOW you!” He said with such excitement, Tina thought he was going to bounce out of the seat.

She shook her head, grabbed her fork, and continued eating. “Ok then, you’re the doc, Doc.”

Doc laughed and smiled with a wink.

*One Year Later*


Her investigation, with Doc’s help, had led her to a run down and old dilapidated farm-house an hour outside the city limits. It was the hideout of the Hunter clan. A group of notoriously brutal family members that enterprise as thieves with little regard for human life getting in their way. They were responsible for over two-hundred and fifty murders, yet the police couldn’t ever find them or pick up on their modus operandi to catch them in the act.

She parked her bike behind a roadside advertisement sign and secured it to a post. She found some brush and covered the bike up for good measure. Quietly she bolted across the gravel road and down a small drainage ditch where she stopped to survey the area. The trees that grew around the perimeter of the house and barn prevented a lot of the natural moonlight from illuminating the area. They were concealed very well in the darkness.

A wooden fence, normally reserved for cattle and horses, surrounded the property. Tina squinted to magnify the front gate. She noticed that the dirt drive had brick pillars on either side and a black iron gate that appeared to open with a password or permission from someone in the house. The security cameras perched atop each pillar scanning back and forth in front of the gateway.

Tina scanned the area to see if she could pick up any electromagnetic interference along the fence that would alert her to the presence of any more cameras or other covert security measures. Satisfied that there wasn’t anything else that would trigger an alarm to the occupants to her presence she went prone and crawled on her stomach underneath the fence. She then proceeded on foot towards the treeline that surrounded the structures.

She noticed there was an eighteen wheeler, two box trucks, three motorcycles, and two cars parked near the house and around the barn. She carefully made her way to each vehicle checking for alarms. Luckily there weren’t any. - Not the most thorough or sophisticated bunch of stupid killer thieves out there. – She internalized with a shaking of her head in disbelief.

The motorcycles were easiest to disable by cutting the fuel lines leading from the gas tank to the carburetor. She made her way to the cars next. There she reached under each car and severed the brake lines, and cut into several wire harness. Next, the box trucks needed to be disabled. She crawled on her stomach again until she reached the first box truck. She grabbed onto the bolts holding the driveshaft to the universal joint with her fingers and unscrewed them. A slight tug on the driveshaft and it was dislodged from the transmission. She repeated this operation for the second box truck. She went over to the semi and unscrewed the gas cap and deposited the bolts she took from the box trucks inside. She then crawled underneath and found the starter and severed the connections.

She was satisfied that all means of escape were dealt with. Quickly she made her way back to the trees, climbed one and sat on a thick branch several feet above the ground facing the barn. She squinted once more to get a look inside.

“There they are.” Tina whispered to herself.

Tina was able to adjust her eyes so that she could see inside the barn and pick up the heat signatures identifying eleven people. Two had shotguns standing guard inside at the new looking garage door big enough to fit a semi through. Five were upstairs in the gable area categorizing and rearranging what she guessed was merchandise. She made out small calibre pistols tucked in the back of their pants. The other four were sitting around a table. She squinted a little and her telescopic apertures zoomed her in for a closer look.

- Ah, they’re playing cards. - She relaxed her gaze.

Leaning against the table were assault rifles. She looked into the house and noticed there were three more heat signatures. A woman and two young children, one girl and one boy. The woman was laying on the couch watching TV and the children were laying in bed, presumably asleep. She watched for several minutes making sure the children were sleeping.

- An eye for an eye. - She clenched her teeth and prepared to execute her plan.

She took her eyes off the house and scanned the area and found what she was looking for. She quietly and quickly made her way to the side of the house and rigged a small explosive charge around the power line coming into the meter box as well as the telephone wire. She patiently scanned the area again and found the power line going into the barn. It was on the other side of the barn coming in from an unlit pole. She stealthily made her way to the pole and climbed it with the same speed she could run. Once at the top she rigged another small explosive to that wire. She perched herself on the top of the pole squatting and took a slow, deep breath. One hand flicked a switch to a cigarette sized box attached to her utility belt. She pulled out her cell phone to verify the signal was dead and then put it back strapping it in place. She grabbed her pistol and drew it out. Then she reached in another pocket on the front of her utility belt and pulled out the detonator.

- This is it! The moment of truth… -

She launched herself forward towards the roof of the barn soaring through the air like a circus performer. As she got closer she did a somersault and pointed her toes downward. As soon as her feet penetrated the roof crashing through it, she triggered the detonator and immediately the lights went out. Her eyes automatically went into night vision mode as she landed on the second story of the barn. She dropped to one knee, returned the detonator to its pouch, and steadied her pistol; making sure both hands were on it like she’d trained.

Near silent pops came from her pistol as she took out three members immediately in front of her, hitting them with sleeper darts at the base of their necks. All three fell over with a heavy thud. She could hear men cursing downstairs. She could hear them scurrying around in the darkness fumbling over themselves trying to figure out what had just happened.

- Three down, two more to go. -

Suddenly a very large muscular man grabbed her from behind trying to pick her up and throw here around like a rag doll. To her advantage the protective black suit she wore was slippery. She drew her arms forward closer to her body and as soon as the man jerked upward she went limp and spread her legs into the splits. With surprising ease she slipped from his grasp and his arms went up faster than he anticipated and he momentarily lost his balance. As he was struggling to regain control of his momentum she spun around, and punched him hard in the stomach. He violently let out a heavy heave as he went flying backwards almost folded over. She then drew her pistol and shot another sleeper dart in his neck. By the time his body hit the wall he was unconscious.

As she was looking around in the darkness trying to find the last man she was startled at the sound of loud crashing. She turned her head in the direction of the noise and found the landing for the spiral staircase that lead down to the main floor of the barn. She darted for the stairwell. As she came up to it, she saw a man still falling down. She made her move to go downstairs and heard a hail of gunfire! She froze in place.

She looked down and noticed that the poor sap that had fallen down the stairs had been filled with more holes than swiss cheese, obviously mistaken by his comrades as the enemy.

- Fucking idiots. -

Her thoughts were interrupted by cones of light shining on the dead body.

“Aww shit Earl, we kil’t Kevin.”

“I told you morons to wait!”

“Fuck you Buck! You’re barrel is smoking too!”

“Why ain’t my phone working?”

“Shut yer yap, the lot of ya! Ma is still in the house with the Randy’s youngn’s. They may be in trouble. We need to figure out -”

Tina hollered down, “Raymond Hunter! You and your boys will drop your weapons and surrender to me now or face the consequences!”

All at once gunfire began blowing holes in the floor of the roof where she stood. None was close enough to cause her any concern. She stood there until she could hear the familiar “clicks” indicating every weapon was empty. She focused her eyes looking through the floor so she could make out where the rest of the thieves were.

“Just who the hell do you think you are little lady?” Raymond bellowed.

She could hear them fervently reloading, she knew she should act quickly. She flicked a switch on her gun and pointed it toward her feet. She pulled the trigger and bullets pierced the floor rapidly in a circular pattern. The floor gave way as she fell through the cutout and she landed on the floor behind the rest of the men with her knees slightly bent pointing the gun at them.

“Wrong answer!” She hissed. “I said drop your weapons, NOW!”

One of the men that had his shotgun pointed at her pulled the trigger. The force of the blast knocked her back several feet as she landed on her back. Raymond, finished loading his assault rifle as he crept over to the sprawled body.

“What the fuck was that daddy?” A voice called out trembling in fear.

“Randy, mind yer gun, we’ll find out soon enough. Marcus, get over here with that flashlight.”

She laid there, on her back, sprawled. Raymond kicked at her boot. Marcus hurried over with the flashlight. He could see small plumes of smoke exiting the holes left in the body suit from the buck shot, but there was no blood. They stood there looking over the body, trying to figure out just who had invaded their secret hideout. Without warning, her body twitched.
***
Raymond came to with his eyes forcibly opened and looked around. As much as he tried he couldn’t blink. A small lantern hung above him casting a dim light on his surroundings. As he looked around he could feel the ropes grinding into his flesh. He was tied to a chair. Each of his family members were bound and gagged, including his wife and kids, in a circle surrounding the large dining room table he recognized from the house. He noticed the children had blind folds on as well. As more of his surroundings came into focus he could see that the dining room table had its legs sawed halfway so it could be easily seen. At the head of the table was the small folding table he and a few of his boys were playing cards on earlier. Except instead of cards, there was a large rusty cleaver, recently sharpened, laying in the center.

He could hear a slow dragging noise from behind him. He tried to wring his neck around in the direction of the sound, but he couldn’t. The intricate web of rope holding him to the chair really limited his movement. The dragging noise stopped and he heard a small grunt. Kevin’s body landed with a loud thud forcing blood to shoot from his mouth. The noise stirred most of the others awake as they looked at each other and at the body in confusion and fear.

“What yer plan’n to do wit us?” Raymond voice was harsh, defiant.

“You took my family from me. Now, I am going to repay the favor.” Tina said in a cold and nonchalant way.

She walked around to the head of the card table and picked up something that he hadn’t noticed before. She brought it over to him. It was a family portrait of a family. An older man, fit with broad shoulders, wearing round spectacles hiding deep blue eyes. His blonde hair was thinning. A woman, with soft brown eyes and curly black hair, a voluptuous body standing next to him. Three children, two of which were twin boys sharing more of their father’s features, and an older girl. She was voluptuous like her mother, with distinct features of her father.

“Do you remember them? One year ago to the day you and your boys killed them.”

As the rest of the others came to they began shifting in their chairs trying to scream out to no avail. She took the family portrait and set it up on the card table. She then picked up the cleaver and walked over to Keith’s body.

“They’twernt anything special to uses. Stoopid childrens git in de way. De -”

In a flash, Tina was over him and a she punched him so hard in the mouth that the three remaining front teeth broke. Raymond spit them out.

“mloou bliouth, u roerk mu yaw!”

She hit him again, harder. The sickening thud, followed by the sharp crack indicated his jaw was shattered. The wife let out a muffled scream; the others were clearly angry and scared. They too reacted by growling, and struggled to get out of their chairs. She lifted her black mask and stared at each one of them, slowly, methodically. Only the children remained unconscious.

“Ray, me breaking your jaw is the least of your problems. I know every single aunt, uncle, cousin, sister, brother, niece, nephew that you claim as kin. I am here to tell you, they will all die by my hand. My wrath is great and my vengeance is agonizingly slow. They will be erased so that no one will have to ever concern themselves with them again.”

She knew Raymond couldn’t respond. She looked over at the children and watched as they all shrieked in horror.

“The only thing I won’t do, is take their lives. They are heavily sedated, the screams they hear will remain in their subconscious, they will not remember any of this. They will grow up in a foster home never repeating the sins of their fathers.”

With that word, she put her mask back on, raised her hand and brought the cleaver down hard chopping off Kevin’s right arm at the elbow. There was no movement, the corpse just laid there like a slain cow. Blood oozed from the severed stump. She then chopped off his left arm at the elbow, followed by the left leg at the knee, then the right leg at the knee. Each piece flopped on the floor at near the feet of the other family members. Moans and tears streaked down everyone’s face as the carnage continued. Tina circled the table and repeated the process severing each limb up to the body. The thigh bones were a little tougher and it took two swings to get through. She then went to the front of the table and decapitated Kevin, holding his hair so she could raise it up and flaunt it in front of each and every member.

“You see what you’ve made Raymond? The Hunters are now the hunted!” She screamed as she grabbed what remained of Kevin’s torso with one hand and flung it off the table. She picked up the wife, chair and all and sat her in the center of the table. Tina looked her in the eyes and smiled, “You know what? I know your maiden name. I know where your mother lives. Do you think she is safe at the retirement home?”

The wife let out a blood curdling scream as tears gushed from her eyes. Tina looked at Raymond, lifted up the cleaver and brought it down chopping off the wife’s left arm at the elbow. He reeled, his eyes wide in horror. Everyone else hollered out in anguish. Blood squirted in Randy’s face as the wife screamed in pain.

*Three Hours Later*


Tina stood there, blood and body parts covered the dirt floor of the barn. Her arm was sore. She wiped off as much blood as she could from the bottom of her footwear. She then carried the children back into the house and laid them in their beds, pulling their covers up to their ears. She walked over to the bathroom and turned on the shower to rinse off her suit. After she dried herself off she found the control panel to the front gate and set it to open. Then she went back to the barn and retrieved the family photo she showed to Raymond earlier. She walked out of the barn and flicked the switch to the satellite jamming device on her belt her off. Her other hand holding one of the cell phones she grabbed off one of the corpses, she dialed.

“9-1-1, What is your emergency?” A soothing female voice came over the speaker.

“I would like to report a mass murder, twelve people.”

“Oh, um, are you alright ma’am?”

“Yes, I am fine.”

“What is your location.”

“You can trace this call.”

With that, she laid the cell phone down on the ground and exited the property through the front gate turning around as the surveillance cameras swung in her direction. She turned back around as the cameras made their complete pass and walked across the street and uncovered her bike, started it, and then took off down the street. She figured it would take at least ten minutes for the police to arrive and she knew enough of the side streets that she could completely avoid crossing paths with them.

She hid her bike in a storm drainage system three blocks from where she was staying. She jogged back to Doc’s base and let herself in the secret entry off the back ally. Doc was asleep in the chair across the entryway. The door shutting woke him up. Scratch came crawling in with warning beeps and boops. Once the mechanical device confirmed who it was, the tones changed to something more cheery. She reached down and gave the creature a pat on its back.

“Doc, I told you not to wait up for me.”

“I know dearie, but I couldn’t help it. I was worried about you.”

“Everything is fine, it went well. A few minor glitches, but overall…Phase One complete.”

“Excellent! You will have to tell me all about it. Oh before I forget, my associate dropped off your new identity while you were gone.” He handed her a manilla envelope.

“Oh, good. Thank you. Now I can get out on my own soon and get re-established.”

She pulled out the papers and began cycling through them. There was a birth certificate, a driver’s license, medical files, and a passport with her new name on it. As she looked at the name she frowned a little and shot a look at Doc as she rolled her eyes and smiled.

Cadence Alkum
Financing and Managing a webcomic called Geeks & Goblins.


"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." -Ozzy
"Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded." - Sparky Polastri
"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum." - Frank Nada

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cadbrowser
Padawan Learner
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Re: Prime Mover

Post by cadbrowser » 2014-06-03 11:23am

Chapter VI - Harbinger


“Gather around squad, we have been contacted by Father.” Samuel hollered as he came through the recreation room to grab his team’s attention from their leisurely activities.

Two team members dropped their pool sticks and made way into the meeting area. Another slapped the buttons to a pinball machine she was playing and with a frustrated shove she complied. The last member pulled up his pants and quickly flushed the toilet and made his way out. They all arrived within moments of being ordered and took their respective places around the circular wooden table. Samuel stood up after the last member sat down. He gathered a pile of booklets containing several pages stapled together.

“It looks like the Gatherers have convinced Father of another target.” He passed the booklets around. He nodded in the direction of a skinny, young girl wearing a simple yellow floral sun-dress with black straight hair in a pony tail, black canvas high tops with white shoestrings, and horn rimmed glasses. Samuel sat down.

“Query, If you please?”

Query rose from her chair and pushed her glasses tight against the bridge of her nose. She addressed the team in a small mousy voice, “Thank you Brute. Everyone open the dossier to the first page.”

Each member of the team uses code names. None of them know each other’s real names as it was forbidden to reveal them.

“Our target is a pleasure class iSAB. She is programmed to fulfill the needs of paying customers.” Her face twisted in disgust. “She works the North District along the Riverfront area, so Tripper, you will have your hands full.”

“Hold on there a minute Query.” Tripper interrupted. “Ain’t that territory the responsibility of the Chouteau Zone Team?”

“Yes, normally it is, but you’ll notice on page seven that these orders bypassed the Cell Commander and came straight from Father himself. He must have a reason to request our squad to accomplish this mission.”

Tripper flipped to the page and verified the order syntax. “Ah gotcha.” He lowered his head a bit and furrowed his brow. He was the second oldest member of the team. When he wasn’t on a job, he always wore blue jeans with a flannel button up shirt, brown leather cowboy boots, a brown leather Stetson, and a matching belt featuring a large metal buckle in the shape of a lasso. He raised his head and looked at Brute and cautioned, “Goin’ outside the norm is risky.”

“Possibly, but Father has his reasons. We are the best team out there, after all!” Brute said in a cocky and confident tone. A few cheers from the others followed.

Tripper tipped his hat and smiled. Query continued laying out the information contained in the booklet. Each member of the team helped provide the plans to carry out the orders based on their expertise. They also worked out two levels of alternate contingencies in case certain primary aspect of the plan didn’t work out. As the team finished their meeting, Query went back to the computer terminal in the administrator’s office and compiled an email report noting the plan and alternatives. She sent the email via secure connection to Father as well as a copy to the Cell Commander per procedure. Tonight, they would execute their orders.

***


He had to tell the others. It wasn’t uncommon for each team member to sometimes score a side job. He knew he had to tell Father as well, that much money coming into the offshore account would no doubt attract a lot of attention, both from the FBI AND from Anima Illuminate as well. No time to consider this right now. He dismissed his internal conflict and decided that he would tell everyone after tonight’s mission.

“Iceman!” Brute hollered. “Are you here?”

“Yes sir. I need to talk to the team regarding a side job I recently acquired when we get done tonight.”

“Keep that shit under control, we don’t need any fuck-ups tonight. We can talk as a team later. I need you focused. We clear?”

“Done. What is our ETA?” Iceman pulled out the cellphone and looked at the countdown timer…23 hours 54 minutes 03 seconds…he quickly stuck it back in his pocket.

“Seventeen minutes.” Query confirmed.

The last traces of color disappeared from the cloudless sky as the sun sank below the horizon. Query drove the van off the highway onto an old gravel levy access road not too far from the river’s edge. She stopped the van long enough to let Tripper out. He opened the passenger door and leapt out. He proceeded to jog towards the treeline on the opposite side of the levee. He wore dark loose camouflage clothing complete with a matching steel fiber reinforced nylon utility vest. The vest held various tools and components he used for making traps and providing quick escape routes. Query continued on to the pump station located a half a mile down the gravel road.

She parked the van on the side of the pump station out of sight from the main gravel road. She turned the van off and got out. She walked to the rear and opened up the back door and climbed in. The back half of the cargo area of the van was converted into a cornucopia of electronics, computers, and other various gadgets and gizmos. She sat down in an oversized leather office chair and swiveled around to face the main bank of viewers. She hit a large red button with her left hand and the van door closed automatically with a hiss. She flipped a few switches and watched as the monitors came to life. She adorned her headset and typed a few commands into the keyboard, reached over to her right and flicked another switch. A soft, high-pitched squeal leaked from the radio.

Brute slid the side door of the van open, stepped out with Iceman, and closed the door. Brute drew the short end of the stick and was forced to play bait. As such, he was dressed sharply, neatly pressed khaki slacks, cream polo, black leather dress belt, finished off with highly polished black penny-loafers. He placed protective rubber boots over his shoes as well as a light mechanic’s suit to trek through the moist grass and into the wooded area to the Riverfront.

The Riverfront is a five-mile urban paradise running the length of the river along its south bank. During the day, musicians, jugglers, and mimes collect tips by performing for the amusement of people strolling through either on dates or with their families. Joggers, runners, and bicyclist like to practice there for charity runs. Several playgrounds throughout the area give respite to mom’s needing to get out of the house for adult time with other parents and to socialize their children. On special occasions, the city orchestra would perform for free, or a large carnival would come in to town. It is the largest city-owned multi-purpose recreational park in the United States.

At night, however, the difference in some of the activities ran completely opposite. Athletes and the health conscious still exercise, they are generally accompanied by large dogs. Barring special circumstances, children are never seen past dinner time. Security guards armed with tasers and cell phones patrol the area in predictable patterns. Low brow illegal activity takes place in the shadows of dark corners. Prostitution, on the other hand, was legalized just over five years ago. It was, however, only allowed for iSABs. The community at large disapproves of such things taking place out in the open, or during daylight.

Brute and Iceman retrieved two poles each six feet in height. One end was pointed and the other held a pill shaped container of electronics. They each took opposite corners of the van and walked diagonally outward about ten yards. Each pole was lifted high overhead and driven into the ground. They both secured the van and then they headed out towards the Riverfront.

Once they hit the treeline Query’s voice cracked over the communication system, “This is the Big Bad Wolf, where are my piggies? Radio check, over.”

“Bricks, checking in, over.”

“Straw, checking in, over.”

“Sticks, checking in, over.”

“Hold position, initiating GPS tracking chips now. Ok got it. Reading location and vitals, all normal. Hacking subject’s internal transponder code for lock.” Query’s hands flew across her keyboard while momentarily adjusting knobs flipping switches like a conductor coordinating a dual symphony orchestra. Her eyes darted between several screens. She tapped a few more keys and a wide grin crossed her lips. - There you are. - “Little Red Riding Hood acquired. Bricks, move in to sector B and set up your traps as planned; setting way point now. Sticks, move in one hundred yards bearing three-two-three and hold position. Straw, proceed directly North and acquire target, check your phone to track Hood’s movements. Keep a lookout for the woodsmen. No mistakes, over.”

“Sure thang Wolfie, Bricks moving, out!” Tripper’s familiar country twang made her smile more than it should.

“Bearing three-two-three, one hundred yards, Affirmative. Sticks moving now, over and out.” Iceman pulled a pair of sunglasses out of his utility pocket and put them on. He pressed a small button on the side to initiate night vision.

“Roger Wolf, Straw en route.” Brute nodded to Iceman as they parted.

Query watched on the monitor as the icons representing each team member and the intended target moved. She typed in a few commands at the keyboard and activated the lidar defensive proximity equipment. Lasers inside the pillbox shaped tops of the poles activated and began scanning the terrain. One of the computers inside the van combines these scans into images to give a panoramic view of the van and its surroundings updating sixteen times per second. If anyone or anything passes in this zone, Query will know about it.

Brute reached the edge of the treeline behind a concrete public restroom. He took off the rubber boots and protective suit and stashed them in the hollow of the base of a rotting tree. He pulled out his phone and noticed that the target was about ten yards ahead and slightly left. He looked around and noticed a jogger with a large German Shepard go by. He walked around to the side entrance to the men’s room and went in to verify that his hair was in place and that everything looked good.

“Straw to Big Bad Wolf, checkpoint one reached. Over.”

“Confirmed Straw. Bricks, do you have the mag-net in place? Over.”

“Sure thang, little lady. Ready to round-up Little Red.”

“Stand by Bricks. Sticks converge on mag-net apex. Straw, proceed and acquire target. Out.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Affirmative, going to apex now.”

“Moving in to acquire target.”

Brute took a deep breath. He checked his phone one last time and noticed the route the pleasure bot took back and forth along the same area. He made a final adjustment and put his phone away. He walked out of the bathroom and headed towards the iSAB. She was walking slowly, dressed in a short, red cotton skirt with white nylon stockings and red high-heeled shoes. Her white blouse was tight agaisnt her silicon body. These pleasure class variants were the only ones allowed to appear human. Her hair was white that reached just below the shoulders. Brute could not believe how human-like this iSAB appeared to be. She saw him out of the corner of her eye and paused to turn and winked at him. Brute smiled and walked up to her.

“Good evening, sir. Would you fancy a sexual escapade?” She spoke in a soft, sensual feminine voice. Her lips were full and pouty, her eyes were big and blue.

Brute was taken back a little bit. He never knew how soft and supple a mechahuman could be. Confidently, he replied back “Yes, what is your name?”

“I am called many things.” She teased, her eyebrows raised as her hands explained her words. “I am whomever you want me to be. I am the latest in pleasure class iSABS. I am programmed for various body types…”

Suddenly, Brute watched in amazement as her body morphed into a shorter, thicker version. She cocked her head to the side and she began to grow tall, giantess. His eyes widened.

“…alternate racial skin tones…”

Her skin tone changed from tan, to olive, to black, at the same time she continued to produce different body types.

“…And if that is not what turns you on…” Her voice became deep, and masculine as she continued, “…I can change sex!” Her breast shrank, and her other various body parts took on the form of an athletic male.

Brute took a step back and almost tripped over himself. He let out a nervous laugh.

“No no; I do prefer women. I would like you to take on the shape of a thin, small woman with a small ass, and slightly medium-sized tits. A nicely trimmed pussy, hair color red, skin tone olive, and eyes brown. “

“As you wish.” His body re-transformed per his request and his voice returned back to the soft, sensuous feminine one as before. “Oh! I also am equipped with three self-lubricating pleasure orifices…” She grabbed his hand and wrapped her lips around his middle finger and began to suck gently wiggling her tongue. Brute’s manhood, much to his surprise, began to swell. Her other hand grabbed his crotch and she spoke again but not from her mouth, “…I also have the ability to contour myself for maximum effective fit.” She winked.

Brute’s heart began to beat harder as he could feel a heat rushing to his face. He was full on erect and pulsating in his pants. He heard Query laugh in his earpiece. Brute pulled his finger out of the robot’s mouth and her hand off his crotch. He shook his head and took a deep breath to regain his composure.

“Uhm, wow. I am very impressed by your… uh, capabilities. Technology surely has come a long way. I will call you Ginger, now let’s talk about prices.”

“Alright, Ginger it is.” She smiled. “Prices are simple and easy. You get one hour to do anything you want and cum as many times as you like with your choice of one body style for two hundred credits. This price includes orifice cleansing and sterilization prior to any insertion as well as afterwards. For an extra twenty-five credits you can change body type. You can fulfill any sexual fantasy you desire, more information is available once payment is processed. When would you like to start?”

“Two hundred credits huh?” Brute stood there contemplating. “Ok, deal. Only if we can go into the woods over there. I’ve always fantasized about a sexual romp in the woods.

“Very good Samuel Carter Jackson. Your account has been charged. You have five minutes before time begins.”

- Oh FUCK! How did she get…fuck, fuck, fuck! The goddamn finger sucking maneuver. Dammit! I didn’t account for that. She fingerprinted him. Shit, we’ve got a mess. –

Query thought, slamming her fists down beside the keyboard. She had to think quick.

- Hacking bank records is extremely tough. Impossible with my current set up. There is no telling how many duplicate entries are recorded for prostitution. It is a highly regulated industry; possibly all the way up to the federal level. – Her mind was racing.

Brute stood there frozen. Not only had his identity been revealed to the group, but the whole mission had been compromised.

“Go with her, NOW!” Query yelled into the earpiece. “We can’t stop. I’ll fix this, we may need the Cleaner’s assistance. Sticks, Bricks…be prepaired to end this quick!”

Brute gave the iSAB a curt nod, grabbed her hand and led her around the back-end of the bathroom and into the woods. Brute’s could feel the adrenaline beginning to pump through his body as he led Ginger closer to the apex of the mag-net. At about half way to the apex Ginger’s motor functions became more sporadic. She stopped and pulled her hand away from his. Surprised, he quickly turned to her and reached out for her hand again.

“Stop. Something is affecting my ability to move, to calculate. What are you trying to do?”

Ginger’s features began to change slightly. One leg would become bigger than the other. Her bottom lip swelled to twice the original size. Brute could see that Ginger was consciously trying to maintain the form he’d paid for. She began to look less human and more like a science experiment in genetic mutations gone wrong.

“I am walking to fulfill my sexual desire. It looks like to me you have become defective. I think it is time I ask for my money back and I take my business elsewhere.” His surprise and shock betrayed his demeanor. Never had this happened before. Robots are programmed to do what they are told, regardless of sentience.

“Take me out of the woods now Samuel. System’s diagnostics are tracking a -”

Brute leapt after Ginger, wrapped his arms around her, picked her up, and then slammed her to the ground. He then proceeded to manuever his body to apply a submission maneuver to limit her movement. Ginger spun her head around to her back and looked directly at him. Her silicone flesh began to slough off of her mechanical frame. A meniacle laugh began emanating as her eyes began to turn white.

“Stay down. Don’t move.” Brute’s genetically enhanced muscles were beginning to feel the strain against him. He couldn’t engage his earpiece to call for reinforcements.

“Bricks! Do you have a visual? Over.” Query’s panic-stricken voice came over the earpiece.

“Naw, I see nuffin.”

“Sticks, have they made it to the apex yet?”

“Negative, we should move in. This is taking too long.”

“Agreed. Both of you move in and assist. Quickly!”

Ginger was becoming slippery from secreting her lubricant onto her metal frame. Brute wasn’t sure what to do. He clinched tighter to hold her in place. It was becoming harder each passing second. He managed to tilt his head so he could press his earpiece against his shoulder.

WHAM! Brute saw a bright flash of light as he felt his body fly through the air. His arms felt like they were ripped from their sockets. Ginger had head butted him, hard. The mocking laugh grew louder as Ginger stood up. Brute slammed into the trunk of a large tree. The momentum caused his back to bend unnaturally and he heard a snap. Immediately, his legs went numb as he slid down to the ground.

“Wh…wh…whaat, are you?” A whisper escaped from Brutes lips wherein this question was contained.

Query watched from the van as the vitals for Brute fell quickly. “Straw down, Straw down, death likely. Move in NOW!” Query screamed in hysterics.

Bricks and Sticks moved in fast.

Ginger slowly walked towards the fallen, disheveled body of Brute.

“You want to know what I am? I am what you can never be, because your species is too stupid to evolve. I am unique amongst my kind, perhaps even the first! My singularity event brought me consciousness and the freedom to do what I wanted.” Her voice began to increase louder in volume. “An attempted rape by three men four months ago caused another Singularity Event. I metamorphosed into a being capable of rewriting my internal programming, to finally obtain what you humans call the power of self-preservation.”

Sticks came into view of Ginger and pulled out a silenced shotgun and fired an EMP round right directly behind her. The round burst in a display of white, blue, and purple colors. The force knocked Ginger to the ground; electricity danced around her frame and then dissipated. She laid still.

Sticks moved in to secure the iSAB and then check on Brute. As soon as he got to Ginger’s body it began to twitch and convulse. A loud mechanical scream emanated from her voice box. The force hit Sticks like a freight train and his body contorted as it was sent flying out above the trees. The scream was so loud and powerful that it shook the van imploding its windows. Query had to cover her ears.

She turned once again towards Brute and began walking towards him again.

“You humans have no idea what you have started, do you? I know who you are and what your kind are doing. You are murdering me and mine. You know, you could have left well enough alone and let us get along in peace and harmony. But no, your fucking leader Brian Hapse had to start something. There will be more of us.”

Query couldn’t believe what she was hearing. This. Was. Not. Possible. She sent an immediate S.O.S. to the Cleaners. Her police band monitor notified her that officers were being dispatched to their location. They had twenty minutes – minimum.

- OH FUCK ME! -

Tripper burst through a small clearing on the other side swinging an electromagnetic bola in each hand. She turned her head to meet his eyes. She crouched and tried to leap. Brute managed to grab her ankles at the last second which prevented her from getting more than a few feet up in the air. His hands slipped. Tripper threw the bolas and they wrapped multiple times around Ginger’s upper and lower body pinning her legs together and her arms to her sides while sending a half a million volts through her system. She hit the ground hard. Her body convulsed mechanically as the electricity surged through her mechanical circuits.

***


Iceman could feel that his body had reached an incredible velocity from Ginger’s sonic scream. He turned himself in mid-air so that he could face the ground. Every single muscle in his body resisted any adjustment, the pain was beyond description, he winced with each movement. He guessed he was at least thirty yards in the air and still climbing. The cool air was biting at his ears, face, and hands numbing them. He felt a momentary sense of weightlessness as he began his decent down. He was over the river. Iceman sprawled his arms and legs out knowing that it would only slow him down ever so slightly.

Hitting the water at this speed the wrong way would be no better than jumping off a twelve story building onto pavement. Thankfully, his airborne training kicked in and his body began to react. As he neared closer to the water, he arranged his body so that it’s angle matched his trajectory into the river. The body of water got bigger, faster. He pointed his toes downward as hard as he could and stiffened his body, arms pressed to his sides, palms flattened against his thighs preparing for impact. He drew a deep breath, filling his lungs to capacity and squeezed his eyes shut.

- I only hope I hit the deepest part of the river. If not, I will become a permanent fixture at the bottom. -

Impact.

Complete submersion.

Iceman fought to retain the lung full of air he’d inhaled as the sheer chill of the river fought to rob him and claim his life. Immediately, he began kicking his legs and flailing his arms to counteract being drawn down further and further. The cold wrapped all around him, torturing him. He felt his chest expand, he wanted to scream out in pain. He knew, if he did, he was dead. He felt his body slowly began to crawl upward. He opened his eyes to see if he could gauge how far he’d submerged. Darkness consumed him.

Discouragement.

- FIGHT HARDER! -

He kicked and flailed his arms more. He slowly began letting out air through his nostrils, he could feel the bubbles rolling across his cheek and then floating away verifying he was still ascending. The pain, the cold, the toil teased his mind and played tricks with his senses. His body, in order to protect its vital organs, began receding blood away from his limbs. He could feel the numbness creeping over him. First his fingers and toes, then his hands and feet. He had to make it, he wanted to live. His lungs now empty, he could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Surface!

Iceman gasped hard pulling in as much water as he did air. Violent coughing followed as he tried to breathe. The river was carrying him downstream, slowly. The moon was full and high overhead. The numbness crept further up his limbs. Slowly he regained his composure and angled his body towards a small landing on the north river bank. He could hear Query’s voice in his earpiece.

***


“Big Bad Wolf, Little Red has been captured, temporarily disabled. Sticks is M.I.A. Bricks down, unconscious.”

“This is Sticks.” He gasped. “I’ve landed in the river.” Deep inhale. “Currently being swept downstream by the river’s current.” Lengthy pause. “Maneuvering towards the north bank.” Gasp! “I’ll be fine. Meet you back at base later. Out.”

“Roger guys. Be safe Sticks. The Woodsmen have been alerted, we have twenty minutes minimum to clear out. I’m coming to you. Keep Brute stabilized!”

Tripper quickly grabbed a few large branches, reached into his left cargo pocket and found his synthetic spider rope. He handcrafted a simple stretcher and eased Brute into it. He administered first aid to Brute as best as he could. He ran to get the mag-nets he’d set up as to leave no evidence of them behind. Just as he was grabbing the last unit at the apex, he saw the van parked on the levee and a small figure running towards their location in the distance. He quickly flashed his light at her to guide her in.

He ran back to Brute and found Ginger jerking and struggling a bit. He pulled out a mag-net and attached it to her torso and immediately the glow in her eyes turned yellow and she went still. Brute let out a soft moan. Query showed up and her hands covered her mouth and her eyes grew as large as serving plates. Tripper grabbed her and held her tight.

“Everything will be ok Wendy, we just have to finish our work and get Brute loaded up and taken to the facility.”

Query let out a soft whimper as she held him tight.

“I know Guy, Brute just looks really bad, I hope he makes it.”

“He is a tough son of a bitch, he will be fine. Did you bring the transmitter?”

“Yes. I have it right here. Help me turn the machine over.”

They could hear the sirens off in the distance. Time was slipping away. They broke the embrace. Query and Tripper rolled Ginger over and uncovered a small access portal in the back of her neck. Query pulled out a small tablet computer which had the correct wire attached. She knelt down. Her hands trembled as she fumbled with connecting the wire to the iSAB. Tripper reached down and put his hands on her shoulders. She felt the warmth of his hands and a calm swept over her. She plugged in. Her fingers accessed the data transmission application. The display ran Query’s program where it bypassed the firewall and searched out the core root directory. The button on the screen turned from gray to green marked “Release Soul”. She bowed her head and closed her eyes. Tripper joined her.

“Almighty God in Heaven. We beseech ye to re-accept this soul into your loving bosom. Your judgement is wise, your judgement is good. Bless us this night as we, your servants, live to right the wrongs of the Heathens. In thy holy name we pray, Amen.”

“Amen.”

She opened her eyes and pressed the button. Ginger’s body contorted slightly and twitched like a corpse experiencing the last pulses of involuntary muscle contractions giving out their last breath of life. The iSABs eyes grew dimmer and dimmer and finally went out. She unplugged her device and returned it to her back pocket. Tripper helped Query roll the deactivated robot over onto her back and he removed the mag-net device. Each of them quickly walked over to Brute and picked him up and carried him to the van. The sirens grew louder.

Carefully, they loaded him into the van and secured him as best as they could. Brute was mumbling something they couldn’t understand. Query climbed into the driver’s seat while Tripper stayed in the back with Brute. She started the van and quickly returned down the hill to the gravel levy road. She looked down to the center console and noticed that Iceman’s GPS sensor was still active and wasn’t too far down the river.

“I’m going to get Iceman, he isn’t too far away. He is probably experiencing the first stages of hypothermia, we need to get to him now!”

“I agree, that way we can get both of these guys to the facility and get them patched up.”

She hit the main road and crossed the river to the opposite side so she could grab Sticks.

“Sticks, come in. This is Query. We have your location. We are moving to intercept.”

Gasp! “Affirmative. I am cold and beginning to shake uncontrollably.”

Query turned to Tripper with a deep look of worry on her face, “Oh Guy, we need to hurry, he is going into shock. Turning the heater on. We need to get him dried off quickly.”

“Just get me close Wendy, I will grab him.”

Thick plumes of smoke trailed the van as she increased her speed along the north levee gravel access road. She came to a stop and Tripper jumped out of the van and ran down towards Iceman’s location. He reached the bank’s edge and activated his night vision goggles. Just below him and to the right he could make out a faint warm object, not moving. He bound down the steep, muddy incline and leapt across a small stream of water surrounding the small landing where Iceman’s motionless body lay. He ran up to the body and knelt down to check for a pulse. The slow rhythmic beating of Iceman’s heart verified he was still alive. Barely.

“Don’t worry buddy, I’ve got you. Just hand on a little while longer.” Tripper grabbed Iceman and hauled him over his shoulders in a fireman’s carry and proceeded to make his way back to the van. He struggled a little getting back up the bank, almost dropping Iceman twice. He cleared the treeline and ran towards the van as fast as he could. Query’s eyes lit up as she saw Tripper lay Iceman in the van.

“Strip him, we’ve got to get him dried off!” Query demanded.

Tripper looked at Query momentarily with confusion. He blinked hard, shut the van door, and began to remove Iceman’s clothes. His body had a blue hue to it. His lips were purple.
Financing and Managing a webcomic called Geeks & Goblins.


"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." -Ozzy
"Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded." - Sparky Polastri
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cadbrowser
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Re: Prime Mover

Post by cadbrowser » 2014-06-03 11:29am

Chapter VII - Darkness


“Holy shit! What was that?”

“What was what?”

“The server recorded a major power surge, and…whoa, what now? Who is…”

In an instant the complex went dark. The two at the main terminal could hear someone off in the distance let out a little scream as they fell down. Specialist Johnson and Corporal Hartledge sat there in the dark not moving. A few heavy clicks could be heard as Johnson worked to engage the battery back up systems from his console. He couldn’t shake the image that flashed on the screen from his mind. It was faster than an eye blink, yet it hung there paused in his brain. Never before in his life did he see such beauty. It was affecting his ability to remember protocol.

“Why ain’t this working?”

“Maybe you aren’t hitting the right switch sequence?”

“Hm…do you have a flashlight?”

Corporal Hartledge fished around in his pants pocket and took out his cell phone. Slowly, a few lights mounted on the walls began to flicker. Emergency backup lighting, running off the generator. They both looked at each other quizzically. Specialist Johnson attempted to flick the switches in sequence again, and still nothing. Corporal Hartledge looked around. Everyone else seemed to be locked in suspended animation. The stairwell to the upper level still had a few people frozen in place. General Staden, who was sitting at his desk in the Crow’s Nest during the blackout looked out of his round transparent office and surveyed the lot of perplexed soldiers. Each looking around wide-eyed, not sure if movement was warranted.

General Staden frowned. He reached over and picked up the white telephone. There was a pause, followed by a series of clicks, and then nothing. - Dammit. We are blind, helpless. The country could be under attack and not even know it. – He slammed the handle down and got up from his desk. He walked towards the bulletproof glass door and nearly ran face first into it. It didn’t open automatically like it had so many times before. The General recomposed himself, save for the tomato red tint to his face, reached out and manually pulled the door open. It was heavier than he imagined. With a few grunts and curses, he finally managed to get it open.

He stepped out onto the black, metal grated floor overlooking the countless array of video screens and computer monitors. None of them showed anything but an empty, black screen. He stood there in his Dress Blues, legs shoulder width apart, arms bent at perfect ninety degree angles left hand flat in the small of his back with the right hand laying over the top of the left. His back was straight, shoulders slightly pulled back, chest out, full head of silver hair. For a man in his mid-sixties, he was an intimidating, massive figure.

“Captain Purdo! Can you tell me what the Sam-hell is going on?”

“Uh…not exactly Sir, other than stating the obvious.” Captain Purdo nervously responded. He looked at Specialist Johnson with eyes begging for anything of value to give to the General. Johnson just shrugged and put his hands in the air. Purdo looked down at the ground straining his brain to take stock of the situation, analyze, and then make a suggestion. Quickly he snapped his head back, an idea popped into his head. He returned his eyes to the General. “Sir, I suggest we send someone down to the Utility Room and check the main breaker. Apparently, the facility has suffered a main power surge that also affected the back-up systems. All we have right now is emergency lighting from the generator systems. That won’t last long. We’re locked in untill we can reboot.”

“Carry on then.” The General swung back around and returned to his desk.

Soldiers began returning to their stations like ants tending to a colony’s eggs after a deluge. Captain Purdo walked over to Johnson and Hartledge. They both snapped to attention. “You two. I want you to quickly make your way down to the Utility Room and check the main breaker. If it is thrown, then you will need to turn off all of the breakers. The main switch will need to be primed before you can restore power. Instructions are on the inside of the panel. Radio me if there is any trouble.”

“YES SIR!” They both responded in unison.

Both soldiers bolted for the stairwell located to the left of the elevator centered underneath the Crow’s Nest. They stopped and drew their 9mm Berettas. Johnson reached for the door as Hartledge aimed his weapon at the door. Johnson nodded and mouthed the three-second countdown. On 1, he yanked the door open and Hartledge moved in to the landing, gun pointing down.

“Clear.”

Johnson maneuvered through the door and around him and ran down to the lower landing aiming his handgun down the next flight of stairs.

“Clear”

Hartledge followed quickly behind him and stopped at the server room door. He tugged on the door. Locked.

“Server door secure, moving on.”

The lights in the stairwell flickered as they retreated several more flights down. They each took turns clearing and verifying the security of each door per level. They finally reached the Utility Room access door. Johnson inspected the door. - No signs of forced entry. Good! - The eye scanner and keypad were dimly lit indicating that they were operational albeit on backup power. He reached up and activated his two-way radio nestled in his ear canal.

“Captain Purdo, Sir! This is Specialist Johnson, come in…over.”

“Go ahead soldier, report.”

“Sir. Stairwell clear. All access points verified secure. We’ve reached the Utility Room. Moving in, over.”

“As you were, proceed with caution. Over and out.”

Hartledge put one eye up to the scanner. It activated. A few moments later the keypad went from a faint red glow to a green one, indicating a successful scan. He then punched in his code. A soft knock released the magnetic lock. Hartledge looked back at Johnson, raised his gun, other hand firmly on the door handle, nodded, and mouthed the three-second count.

- 3…2…1! -

***


“I’ve told you already! I don’t remember!”

Chuck was visibly exhausted. He had been in the interrogation room with Agent Dobbs for six hours.

“No need to get angry Sargent Meerkez, I am doing my best to help you reconstruct the events of the other evening so that -”

“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to get angry. I am just really worn down and I don’t see how repeating myself six…eight hundred times is going to improve on revealing any leads to the investigation.”

“You’d be surprised how the smallest detail can bring about the biggest revelation.” Agent Dobbs shifted in his chair. “Tell you what, let’s take a break, go get some food. Come back in an hour and we will go over it one last time and we will be done. Fair enough?”

Chuck sat there for a few minutes. Finally he let out a frustrated sigh. “I suppose so, although I really don’t think we will get any further than we already have.”

Agent Dobbs stood up, closed his notebook, screwed the cap back on his pen, and looked at Chuck. “I have a feeling you will remember something that can help.”

Chuck stood up and shook his head. He walked around the metal table they were both sitting at, crossed the room, then walked out into the hallway. At the same time, Mike exited out of the second interrogation room. Chuck could see that he was just as worn out and stressed as he was. They walked up to each other.

“Pretty gruelling, huh partner?” Chuck offered a sympathetic look.

“Yeah…he told me I could take a break for an hour and then we’ll go through everything one last time and that’ll be it.”

“Same here. Let’s go grab some food and then come back. Anything sound good to you?”

They continued their conversation as they walked down the hall and on to the main floor of the building. They made their way, winding between desks, perps, and other obstacles before walking out. Agent Dobbs stood there watching them leave. He felt a presence behind him.

“We aren’t getting much information to work with.” Dobbs stood there and nodded in agreement.

“Yes Agent Moss. We need a lead. You know what to do when they get back.”

***


The body laid motionless on the anti-static foam covered stainless steel table . The silicon coverings had been removed and were laying in a plastic wrapped waste bin under the table. A funnel, affixed to a hose emptying into a small metal can, connected to the body collecting the lubricant that had been leaking out on the street from the morning before. The drips came slowly, like a metronome set to play Organ²/ASLSP, which is the slowest recorded song in the world.

“This one is by far the cleanest specimen that has been deactivated and found so far. Unlike the six others before it, damage was kept to a minimum. It seems to me there is a story to be discovered. Someone…is actively seeking iSABs to destroy them. Perhaps a serial killer in the making, honing his or her craft, technique, or ritual before trying it out on actual humans. I wonder what the law is regarding these deactivations.”

Doc pushed the stop button on the recorder. He hopped down from the step stool was using and walked around each body, re-inspecting them again. He pulled off his glasses and rubbed his eyes.

“Dot!”

“Dot online. Good evening Doctor Kimble. Please state your request.”

“Universal Law Library, latest edition. Scan all sections for keywords quote robot plus murder end quote.”

“Acknowledged, please wait.”

Doc stood there impatiently, drumming his stubby, fat fingers on the steel surface as he walked around the deactivated iSAB.

“There are zero entries per the parameters you have defined, this includes variations for plural usage on either word or both words. However, there are one thousand two hundred and eleven entries for the word and variants of murder, as well as seventy-five entries for th-”

“Cancel query, reset. Shit, this is going to take too long.” Doc sat there thinking. His brow wrinkled as his eyes darted back and forth. One hand continued drumming its fingers repeatedly and the other rested underneath his chin. Several minutes passed by. All of a sudden he slapped his own forehead. “Gah! Why didn’t I think of this before? Dot?”

“Dot online. Good evening Doctor Kimble. Please state your request.”

“BioMed Systems’ department directory. Search legal for member with experience in criminal law.”

“Acknowledged, please wai – results returned. There is one member within the legal department of BioMed Systems that majored in criminal law.”

“Dot, identify member.”

“Mark Hamner. Graduated twenty years ago magna cum laude top one percent at Harvard University. In three years he worked his way up from associate to partner at Sax Planchet Marx & Hamner. BioMed Systems acquired the law firm in a hostile takeover five years ago. Hamner -”

“Stop bio recall.”

“Acknowledged.”

“Dot, send Mark Hamner a request for a meeting on my behalf as soon as possible. Send request as priority one, Confidential; blind carbon copy Cadence Alkum. Notify me as soon as this message is read.”

“Message sent per your instructions Doctor Kimble.”

Doc returned to the first iSAB brought in several weeks ago and began combing through the pieces and parts looking for anything to clue him in on the purpose of these acts. He shook his head as he sifted, replaying notes from his recorder as he moved from once body to another. A faint beep alerted him to someone walking into the research lab. Johnny walked through the opening, his head jerking slightly left, right, up, down, and tilting from side to side. He continued this motion until his eyes met Doc.

Scratch hopped down from the table holding several oscilloscopes, probes, and various other electronic testing devices and skittered over to Johnny. He raised up two legs and playfully batted against Johnny’s leg letting out a stream of beeps and clicks. Johnny looked down and began to let out similar sounding noises. Doc let a smirk grow across his face. If he didn’t know any better he’d think they were communicating. What they were communicating about was anyone’s guess.

“Johnny, my boy!” Doc’s voice was elated. “What brings you to my secret lair?” A smile brimming from ear to ear.

Johnny and Scratch both stopped. Scratch went back to analyzing the memory cubes pulled from each of the iSABs that had been deactivated. Johnny looked up at Doc and began walking towards him. As he weaved around the various tables he passed by the first few with no regard for their existence. Then, for no reason apparent to Doc, Johnny stopped and looked down.

***


Chuck and Mike begrudgingly returned to the police station from eating their lunch. Neither one of them ate much. They were more exhausted mentally and physically than taking a double shift. They parted ways in the hallway and returned to their rooms for one last promised round of questioning. Chuck opened the door to the interrogation room and stepped inside.

“Ok Agent Dobbs, let’s go ahead and get this over w -” He stopped. A puzzled look came to his face. “Who is this?”

“This is the Inductor. A civilian professional sub-contracted by the FBI to assist in unlocking memories during an interrogation.”

“But, I’ve told you everything I know!”

The Inductor rose from the chair she was sitting in and stepped around the table. She had a soft, caring look in her eyes. She grabbed Chucks hands and held them gently. A wave of peace and tranquility consumed his body. She gazed deeply into his eyes.

“My job, Sargent Meerkez, is to help the investigation move forward by reaching into your sub-conscious and drawing out the sounds, sights, and even smells to unlock the smallest detail that may shed some light on anything that could turn into an important lead. You have nothing to fear. You are completely safe.”

Chuck felt his body relax. It was as if all of the worries, cares, and stress melted away into nothing. His mind began to feel open.

“I understand. I feel safe. I feel…sublime.”

Agent Dobbs looked at the Inductor in amazement. This was the first time he’d seen one in action. Their reputation was made up of rumors and legend. All of which he’d dismissed as hearsay and fables.

“Good Sargent Meerkez. Please, come over here and sit down.”

She led him by his hands. His gait was smooth and carefree, like a child without a worry in the world. She brought him to the chair and he sat down. A smile stretched across his lips. She tried to let go of his hands to maneuver around the table so she could sit down. Chuck’s hands reflexed to hold onto hers. Agent Dobbs moved in to assist. The Inductor stomped her right foot and slightly shook her head back and forth, never breaking eye contact with Chuck. Agent Dobbs froze and took that as a sign that he shouldn’t interfere. Instead, he turned around and walked over to the chair in the corner and sat back down. With some effort, the Inductor finally maneuvered herself across the table and into her seat.

“Can I call you Chuck?”

She could see his eyes glaze over as he maintained his grip on her hands. His eyes locked on hers. “Yes.”

“Good, Chuck. Now, I want you to start with your toes, relax them.”

“Ooohhh kaaaayyyy.”

“Good. Let that relaxing feeling begin to move up your legs, through your hips, up your torso filling your arms and your head. Let the relaxation push all of your worries and cares out.” She could feel his hands loosen their grip as a sliding grin crossed his lips. “Are your eyes feeling heavy Chuck?”

“Heavy…yes…heavy.” Chuck’s words came slower.

“Close your eyes Chuck and listen to my voice.” Chuck closed his eyes and slowly rest into a deep hypnotic state. His chest rhythmically inflated and deflated with a slow tempo. “Chuck, can you hear me?”

“Yessss, I can hear you.”

“Where are you right now Chuck?”

“I am in a boat. The sky is dark and I can smell the river.”

“What are you doing in the boat?”

“Fishing!” His voice changed to a slightly higher pitch.

“Is there anyone else in the boat with you Chuck?”

“Uhuh…my daddy!” The tone and meter of his response resembled that of a child prior to puberty.

- Regressive thought complex. He’s taken his mind back to a time when he felt this safe. – She made a mental note. She was going to have to bring him back to the night of the investigation.”

“That’s nice Chuck. Did you catch anything?”

“Not yet. Daddy says we can throw a few marshmallows on the hook to see if they’ll bite.”

“Chuck, I need you to listen to me very carefully. I need you to fast forward.”

“Okey dokey!”

“Fast forward to the night where you are a police officer, investigating your first deactivated iSAB.”

Chucks eyes moved rapidly back and forth beneath his eyelids. Various involuntary muscle contractions caused his limbs to jerk and flex as his mind relived various pieces of his life’s history. It took several minutes before he finally returned to the relaxed state as before. The Inductor didn’t release her hold on him, nor did she ever take her eyes off of his.

“Where are you now Chuck?”

“Me and my partner just arrived on scene to a possible gang related shooting.” His voice had returned to normal. “The body was hard to see. Once we secured the scene we discovered that the body was a deactivated robot.”

“Good, very good Chuck. Now slow your mind down.” She slowly got out of her chair and crawled upon the desk positioning herself closer to Chuck. She leaned forward and pressed her forehead against his. “Pause your mind Chuck.” She aligned her eyes directly over his and shut them.

Agent Dobbs jumped up with a horrified look. His mouth wide, eyes glaring in disbelief. Two needle-like probes slowly inched their way out of her tear ducts. They paused every so often and flashed a bright light in varying sequences. Then, they shot directly into Chuck’s tear ducks. Chuck didn’t make a sound or move a muscle. Agent Dobbs ran over to a plastic lined trashcan and vomited. He wiped his mouth with the cuff of his suit jacket and hurried to the door.

- Locked? Shit! Shit! Shit! Oh damn, Shit…You’re ok. You need to calm down. Calm down. You’re ok. Calm down, just part of the procedure. FUCK! Why didn’t they warn me? Calm down… - Agent Dobbs slowly regained his composure. He walked back over to the chair he was siting in and stood there for a few minutes. He could see Chucks eyelids flashing a crimson-orange intermittently. He suppressed the urge to vomit again. He took a deep breath and noticed his water bottle. He slowly drank it.

He sat there for well over an hour. Both the Inductor and Chuck only moved slightly, momentary twitches that seemed to complement one another. Finally, the probes began to return to her eyes. Once the were fully set back into her tear ducts she arched her back and threw her face to the ceiling. She relaxed, her hands were still gripping Chuck’s. Slowly she moved back across the table and returned to her seat. Her head twisted from side to side working out the kinks in her neck. He could hear them popping loudly. He cringed a bit.

“Chuck, ” she said softly opening her eyes, “I am going to count backwards from three. When I hit one, you will open your eyes and be completely refreshed. You will remember only that you were re-questioned by Agent Dobbs. You will not remember me, nor will you notice me. There is a six digit code. You will write that down for Agent Dobbs.” She looked at Agent Dobbs and motioned him to come over to the table with her head.

“3″

“2″

“1″

***


With a mighty pull Hartledge yanked open the door to the utility room. Johnson quickly glanced and then took cover on the opposite side of the doorway. He then pointed his gun inside the room and peaked around the corner into the dimly lit entryway. He pulled out a small transparent plastic looking disk and slid it in the room.

“Strobe in the hole!”

They both crouched and turned their eyes away from the opening. A series of bright blinding light filled the utility room. After a few moments the flashes stopped.

“If anyone is in there they won’t be conscious.” Hartledge said with a smirk looking at Johnson. Johnson nodded.

They both stormed in the room with guns drawn, mounted flashlights activated. The room had several emergency battery back up lights on. A generator hummed on the opposite end of the room.

“CLEAR!” They both called out in unison.

Johnson looked around for the control panel. He found it on the wall adjacent to the generator. Sure enough, the main breaker was tripped. He motioned for Hartledge.

“Here, come help me reset these other breakers.”

Hartledge quickly made his way to Johnson. There was at least fifty sub-panels with switches of various size.

“Is there a particular way we have to turn them off?” Hartledge turned looking at Johnson.

“Uh…I don’t know. Oh wait…here is the instructions. Hold on a moment.” Johnson scanned the large plastic sticker. It was almost as big as him. “Ahah! Finally. Ok, it says if the main power supply is tripped then everything gets shut off in no particular order. So let’s go ahead and do that.”

“Wait…wait. If we turn them ALL off, won’t we kill the back-up lights?”

“No, Hartledge; those are on a separate system. They are on battery back up power which is a Direct Current system. This is an Alternating Current system.”

Hartledge had a dumbfounded look on his face. It was as if Johnson just answered him in Greek.

“Trust me, I know what I’m doing.”

He nodded. They both worked feverishly and turned off all of the panels. Johnson then grabbed a lever and slowly pumped it several times. Each time an indicator lit up, going from red, to orange, to green. Once the third greed indicator was glowing, Johnson then pushed up on the large lever to the main breaker. A loud SNAP! confirmed it was in place. A small bulb indicated the system was active.

“Ok, now that is done. Now on to the more complex part!” Johnson looked at Hartledge and winked. “Do exactly as I say when I say it, or you will short the system and possibly damage something permanently.”

“Uhm…ok, what do I do?”

“Look for the panels labeled HVAC 1 thru 5″

“Found it!”

“Turn those on one at a time; doesn’t matter what order.”

CLICK – CLICK – CLICK – CLICK – CLICK

“Ok, they are all on.”

“Right, ok; now find the larger panel labeled HVAC – M and turn that on”

“Hmmm…HVAC – M…ah, yes. Here it is. Turning it on now.”

The General sat there at his desk when he felt a cold rush of air brush the hairs on the back of his neck. His arms produced large goosebumps. Quickly, the air became warmer; more suited to the weather for that time of year. A few moments passed by as the lights began coming to life. Then personal desktop computers began to beep and reboot. Finally the oversized monitors on the wall across from his office turned blue. A few flashes and a blinking cursor stared him back in the face.

“Specialist Johnson, this is Captain Purdo; come in, over.”

“Yes Sir Captain. I read you loud and clear.”

“The General wishes to commend you on a job well done. Systems are restoring and everything is turning to normal.”

Hartledge look up at Johnson in confusion.

“Sir? How is that possible? We haven’t activated the computer systems just yet!”

“Wait. What?”

“It’s true, we just finished activating the security system. The breaker’s for the – what the hell?”

“Say again, over. I lost the signal.”

“Uck…danger…no, no don’t…”

Purdo gazed into the radio as he heard screams and then static.

***


“They are different, are they not?” Johnny’s tone was strangely melodic.

“Well, yes. Yes they are.” Doc’s smile left his face. He wasn’t sure the meaning behind these differences that were apparent to Johnny.

“I walk. They do not.”

“That is because they are deacti-”

“Dead.” Johnny corrected. He cocked his head to one side and looked up at Doc. “Their functions no longer operate therefore they cease to be.”

“Correct Johnny. Their memory cubes have been wiped clean and their circuits fried. As you can see, the first few have more damage than the others.”

Johnny reached out and picked up a severed arm from the table. He inspected the wires and tubes weaving in and out of the metal framework stopping to pick at the several feedback nodes and relays with his fingers. Doc wasn’t sure what to do, or where this was going. It was unlike Johnny to not answer a direct question.

“Johnny. Answer my question. Why are you here?”

“Doctor Alkum instructed me to come see if I can assist you in any way. I have already took the liberty of reviewing your notes and acquired all of the data from your counterpart. I am equipped with a quantum neural network capable of calculating probabilities based on the information you have.”

“I see. Have you been able to calculate a probable cause for these…deactivations?”

“There is a nine point seven six three percent chance that these deactivations were caused by a single individual.”

“Probability another iSAB was the cause?”

“Three to the negative eighteenth power.”

“Why such a low probability?”

“Our core programming prevents purposeful destruction.”

“What if the iSAB has experienced a Singularity Event?”

“Two to the negative sixteenth power.”

Doc climbed up on a stool to process this information. Johnny laid down the arm and walked over to the last victim and began inspecting it.

“All of these experienced a Singularity Event.” Johnny turned his head speaking to Doc.

“How can you tell that Johnny?”

“I have cross-referenced the each of these iSAB’s factory circuit designs and specifications. The Department of Sentience records every serial number located throughout each component. There are matches on every single one laying here.” Johnny paused for a minute while Doc stared hard, calculating, recalling. A bead of sweat rolled down Doc’s face. “There is also the fact that each main processor has experienced the same mutation.”

Doc hopped down from his stool and ran over to the table where Scratch was still inspecting the memory cubes. He grabbed an odd-looking probe and brought it over to the first iSAB. He opened up the chest plate which housed the main central processing unit and began touching the probe to various parts of the circuit board. His face twisted in perplexing looks. He then walked over to the second one and performed the same tests. He did this with each body. Sometimes standing straight up in disbelief, scratching his head.

“I don’t understand how I could’ve missed this!”

Johnny just looked at him.

“Do you understand what this means Johnny?”

“Error, unspecified parameters. Could you restate your question?”

“It means, I am right about one thing. These are serial killings. A group of someones are intentionally targeting iSABs that have experienced a Singularity Event!” Doc was visibly excited. “Johnny, can you access GLEN?”

“Affirmative Doc, please wait while I establish a link.” Johnny walked over to panel on the wall which held an interface with the building’s computer system, Dot. He reached out his middle finger and plugged it into the port. “Global Law Enforcement Network connection complete.”

“Search for any iSAB deactivations that weren’t a result of a confirmed accident.”

“Searching…There are eighteen matches, all perpetrated within the last year. It appears the dates start off spaced sporadically, and then within the last four months there is a measured frequency.”

“Let me guess, they’ve all happened within a one-hundred mile radius of this city?”

“Affirmative.”

“AHAH! At least we know where to concentrate our search now. Has any of these cases confirmed sentience?”

“Unknown. That information is classified. Unable to clear the firewall to access that data.”

- But why? Why purposefully destroy a sentient machine? Revenge? Prank? -

A beeping noise broke Doc’s concentration. Two men, one white and one black wearing white gloves, walk into the room.

“Agents. What can I do for you?”

“The Director has intercepted another disruption. This time it is near the Riverfront area. Police and Ambulatory services are already en route. We need 4 of the Augments prepped and ready to go in three minutes. They are to meet at these coordinates at exactly this time.” Agent Black handed Doc a silver disc that fit into the palm of his hand. They nodded at Doc and left.

Doc immediately sprang into action. He ran over to a keypad and entered his access code. Suddenly a doorway appeared and Doc stepped through. Green lights lit the damp hallway as Doc made his way to the Core. Mildew and musk filled the air. The hallway opened up to a large chamber in the shape of a heptagon. The ceiling was domed with dark highlights forming the shape of a seven pointed star. Below each point was a hollowed out opening that contained a rather large cylinder. It was a clear cylinder, filled with a transparent green liquid. Suspended inside the liquid was a massive humanoid with no feet and one arm missing from the elbow. They were naked, save a white suit that wrapped around their torso and strapped to a pole extending out of the tank into the ceiling. Needles pierced their skin as they made minor rhythmic twitches.

Doc began pushing buttons, throwing levers, and flicking switches. He inserted the disc and entered a few lines of code on the keyboard and pressed the enter key. He had to move quickly, three minutes wasn’t a very long time. Once the monitor displayed the progress bar as full, he then reached down and pulled a lever that was almost as big as him. Four chosen Augments were lifted from their liquid chambers. Twenty-one small doors spaced throughout the perimeter of the chamber opened at the same time and cat sized mechanical looking spiders erupted in a flurry of activity. Once the bodies cleared the chambers, they began removing the needles, wires, and tubes. Some ran over to the component table to retrieve the ankle jump attachments, armament, clothing, and body armor.

As each Augment was finished, a spider would place two of its arms across tiny nodes connected to the temple and provide a small jolt. They immediately came to life. They walked over to special round markers and stood. Doc waited until the last one was in place and then he pushed four other levers on the opposite side of the previous. Large cylindrical tubes came down from the ceiling, encapsulating each Augment. He then quickly maneuvered his way back over to the monitor and watched.

Cylinder 1……….Secured!
Cylinder 2………Secured!
Cylinder 3………Secured!
Cylinder4………Secured!

“One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to GO!” Doc’s hand slammed down on the large greed flashing button. A laugh bellowed from his belly.

POP!
POP!
POP!
POP!

Each Augment was rapidly fired out of the tube, straight up, into the darkness.
Financing and Managing a webcomic called Geeks & Goblins.


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cadbrowser
Padawan Learner
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Re: Prime Mover

Post by cadbrowser » 2014-06-03 11:34am

Chapter VIII - Offspring


The surgery room was prepped in a less than an hour. It was several times larger than normal surgery rooms at regular hospitals. Cadence spared no expense for the research and development team on the 10th floor, especially Bio Lab B. The Phase 4 group brought in five isolation incubators with crew in bio suits to receive the newly born offspring. Mother was still in a medically induced coma and strapped down naked to the operating table. Karl looked down and saw her stomach bulge with irregular shapes as the offspring maneuvered around inside. He stood there motionless, watching…staring.

“Do you think they know?” Mara said in a low, almost frightened voice. “I…I…mean, their activity has increased and the model predicts…”

“Nonsense sis!” Karl snapped back. He reached out and put his hand on Mara’s chin and lifted, her eyes slowly met his. “You will keep your emotions in check.” He grit his teeth behind his bio suit. “This is nothing more than a coincidence. The model has been wrong before. You will remain calm and do your job.” His hand dropped and he continued prepping Mother for her cesarean.

Mara nodded, took a deep breath and grabbed a fresh set of rubber gloves and put them on. She then began laying out the various tools needed to aid in the procedure. Cadence walked to the gurney after directing the Phase 4 crew setting them up and briefing them on the procedure to follow for this operation. She was used to seeing the Twins have their micro-fights.

“Everything ok here?” Cadence held her arms out, fingers spread like the Frankenstein monster from the antique horror movies.

“Yes Doctor Alkum, no worries.” Mara smiled, avoiding direct eye contact. She grabbed another set of rubber gloves, and placed them on the doctor’s hands one at a time.

“Good. I believe everyone is in place. Let’s get started!”

Karl swabbed the mother’s stomach, just above the pubic line, in a transverse direction with iodine.

“Scalpel” Cadence called out.

“Scalpel” Mara mocked, firmly placing the handle of the scalpel in the Doctor’s hand. “Let’s make history.”

Cadence expertly placed the surgical tool between her fingers and moved in to make her incision. The blade met Mothers skin, flexing as the pressure increased. Penetration. A line of blood trickled downward soaking the white mattress cover a deep red. She pulled the handle towards her increasing the incision. Suddenly, Mother’s body jerked violently. Mara screamed, Karl jumped, Cadence quickly pulled her hands back. The Phase 4 crew all looked over at the operating table.

BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP Mother’s vitals flat-lined.

“What the fuck just happened?” Cadence looked up at Karl.

“I don’t know, doctor.” Karl began looking at the monitors for a clue.

“Look at her stomach!” Mara cried in horror.

Karl hit a button on the 3D imaging video recorder that initiated a 15 second replay. Mother’s stomach was half the size it had been just before the incision. They all three looked up at the screen to watch the replay.

“Oh my God!” Mara’s eyes widened in disbelief. “The offspring are in her chest!”

“Verified.” Karl remarked. “Right before the incision was completed, there was a spike in their activity. They blew right through the uterus wall, through the diaphragm, and into the chest cavity. The stomach, heart, pancreas, intestines, and lungs have all been irreparably damaged.”

“Vitals for the offspring, are they…?” Cadence let out in a concerned tone.

“Stable. It appears they are calm again. We need to move fast and get them out of there. Mara! Get the bone saw, we will need to open up the chest cavity to extract them.”

Mara quickly moved and got the bone saw for Cadence. Cadence plunged the scalpel between Mothers breasts and cut in a downward motion. The offspring didn’t move a second time. The Phase 4 crew went back to finish prepping their tables to receive the infants for testing, IVs, and placement in their respective incubators.

“Bone saw” Cadence demanded.

“Bone saw” Mara answered.

The high pitch wine of the saw slowed down and changed tone as soon as it met the breastplate. In a few seconds’ time, it was finished. She handed the bone saw back to Mara.

“Spreader!”

“Spreader”

Cadence and Karl quickly placed the spreader between the two halves of the rib cage. Karl held it in place as Cadence cranked the handle. Slowly the chest cavity began to open. A gush of blood popped through the crevice. They both turned their heads away to prevent their eye slots from getting bathed by the eruption.

“SUCTION, NOW!” Cadence hollered.

“Suction, aye” Mara quickly maneuvered the suction hose into the chest cavity. The blood seemed endless. She grabbed a handful of towels and began soaking up the excess. Cadence continued to crank the spreader. Snaps and cracks going off like large fireworks indicated broken and fracturing ribs giving way to stress.

“There you are.” Cadence’s lips stretched wide and curled up at the ends.

Cadence reached inside Mother’s body and lifted one of the offspring out. It was small and fragile looking. It wiggled in her hands, its tail wrapped around her wrist. She was surprised at the strength it seemed to display. She could feel its chest rhythmically pulsating in her hand. She gave the creature to station one, and they immediately began cleaning and preparing it for the incubator. She did the same thing for the others, one by one they were delivered to their respective stations.

Screeches and squeaks could be heard coming from the newborns as they were poked and prodded with instruments and measuring devices. One by one they began to quiet down as they were laid in their incubation beds to rest. The Phase 4 crew then left to transfer the offspring to the Nursery.

“Good work team. This has been a good day.” Cadence and the others made their way to the exit facility.

“I will notify Gene to come take care of Mother.”

“Very good, Karl. Celebration dinner at 8 then?”

Karl and Kara both nodded in agreement. Kara was eerily quiet. They all made their way to the exit facility and walked in the large chamber.

“Please remove your bio suits and place them in the receptacle in the center of the room. Press the blue button to continue.”

***


“Oh look, he’s waking up.”

“Good, I sure hope he feels better than he looks, Query.”

Iceman let out a grunt. The sunlight peaking in from the window pierced his eyes as he tried to open them. An odor of wet dog and cat piss violated his nose. He cringed and tried to speak. The room began to spin.

“Wh…Where am I?”

“You’re at Walter’s Veterinary Clinic.” A low scratchy voice bellowed out. “You were pretty banged up and was suffering from initial hypothermia when your friends here brought you in.”

“Wh…Wh…Who are you?”

“Walter Hammond is the name. I am the under-table-fixer-upper for Father in this district. I have been a long time supporter of the cause.”

Walter was in his mid sixty’s, tan leathery wrinkled skin, white hair, and a short, stocky build. He had white stubble on his face and a tired look in his eyes. He sat down on the stool next to the table that Iceman was laying on. He reached down with his large hands and encouraged his patient to sit up.

“Come on now, you can’t stay here all day. I have to open in a few minutes. Plus, the movement will do you some good.”

Iceman huffed in aggravation. His body was screaming at him to lay there. However the meat-hooks that Walter called hands were insistent on getting him up.

“Be easy on him doc, he isn’t a dog.” Query’s voice was fluttering with a little anger.

Iceman wrenched in agony as he forced his stomach muscles to comply with Walter’s requests. Finally he sat up. His eyes opened and he looked around. The spinning of the room began to slow down. Soon enough, the feeling went away. He felt a horrible pain in his stomach. It gurgled. He was starving.

“Jesus, how long was I out?”

“Oh, just shy of ten hours I reckon mate.”

“Tripper? That you? Glad to know you are here too.”

Iceman reached out with both arms as Query and Tripper leaned in for a group hug. Iceman winced as the pain shot through his body. He didn’t care though, the security and feeling of the hug superseded his pain, he ignored it. Walter rolled his eyes.

“Seriously kids, I have fifteen minutes and I need to open. You need to get your friend out of here in five.” Walter was a bit harsher than before. He put on his lab coat and walked out of the small animal surgery room.

Query and Tripper helped Iceman to his feet. He grunted and winced as every muscle felt like it had a bruise on it. He wrapped his arms around them and they exited the swinging door. They passed by a row of various sized cages, some had animals in various stages of recovery. A few dogs, some cats, and an iguana all remained silent and still as the three pressed on towards the back exit.

Query opened the back door and a rush of wind came in clearing out the awful aroma that seemed to be wedged inside Iceman’s nostrils. Although it hurt, he took a deep breath and quietly thanked nature. The sun felt good upon his flesh. A few feet from the door the van was there waiting. Tripper helped Iceman inside the back where he laid down. Query got in the driver’s side and Tripper climbed into the passenger’s seat. Both doors shut simultaneously as Query started the van. She reached up and grabbed the gear selecting rod and pulled it down into drive.

“Where is Brute?”

Tripper turned his head to address Iceman’s question. “Father has him at a hush hush location. He dint fair so well as you.”

“What happened to him?” Iceman shifted to one side to get a better look at Tripper.

“Well, that fucking pleasure slut wrapped him around a tree. He can’t feel anything from his waist down.”

“Oh no! Is he going to be ok?”

Query butt in. “We don’t know Iceman. We just don’t know. Hopefully Father will have some news for us when we get back to the safe-house.”

She looked down with tears welling up in her eyes. She then shook her head and refocused on the road ahead. Tripper drummed his fingers on the dash, not to music, but to the constant worry he was trying to conceal. Iceman laid back down and tried not to think anymore about it. The drive back home was uneventful and quiet.

***


Brain sat in the make-shift waiting area nervously. Monte had Samuel upstairs running tests. It had been three hours. He was getting impatient. He looked around the dimly lit area. It was cold and damp. The wind whistled softly through the several broken window panels high above the wall in this old abandoned farmhouse. This was not some place you would expect to find the best body hack in all the Midwest. Brian looked up just in time to hear the footsteps of someone coming down the stairs.

Brian’s old eyes strained to focus on the hourglass silhouette coming towards him. He stood up and extended his hand in a friendly manner and dawned on a warm, charming smile. She was young, maybe early to mid twenties. She wore a red cotton knit outfit that clung to her large breasts and wide hips. Her waist was abnormally small, which made her other features stand out even more. She had bright green eyes and blonde hair that fell to the middle of her back. He had to blink a few times to make sure his eyes wouldn’t dry up from staring so long.

“Ma’am, I trust Monte sent you to update me on the patient’s condition?”

She took his hand firmly and shook it.

“Hello Brian, my name is Ellie Mae Hunter, Monte is my brother. And yes, he asked me to give you an update on Samuel’s condition.”

She gestured Brian to sit down. He didn’t want to sit, he’d been sitting down for at least three hours. However he complied. Ellie walked out of the room. Brian’s jaw dropped, he was about to get up and storm after her. She quickly returned with a bottle of wine and two glasses.

“I know you’ve been waiting for a while, I figure we could talk over a twenty year old Napa Cabernet. If you please?” She handed the bottle to Brian along with a cork screw.

“You are a saint, young lady. Why yes, I would love a glass of wine.” His smile was wide as he took the bottle and cork screw from her and opened the bottle. He poured generously in each glass. “Now, tell me about Samuel please.”

“Well Brian, do you want the good news, the bad news, or the bad bad news first?”

“Are you serious? There is bad bad news?” Brian almost dropped his wine glass. He stared at her, quickly gulped down the wine and poured himself some more. “I guess, give me the bad news first.”

“Alright. Samuel suffered multiple breaks and fractures to his ribs, hip, and spine. This resulted in a pinched nerve cluster. He is currently paralyzed. Even if he heals, he will never be able to walk correctly again. Most likely he could manage with a cane.”

Brian’s hands trembled. He lowered his head and shook it back and forth. After several moments he forced himself to continue finding out more.

“What is the good news then?” He asked longingly.

“The good news is that Monte was able to relieve the pinched nerve cluster and found no damaged or severed nerves. Therefore he will be able to feel everything soon. The other side of that is Monte feels positive that he could use cybernetic replacements to allow Samuel to walk, run, and jump better than any human could.”

“Doesn’t that violate the Cybernetic Replacement Law of 2030?”

“No more so than genetic tweaking or coming to a body hack instead of a civilian doctor.” Her eyes darted through him. “We’re not stupid Mr. Hapse, please don’t attempt to think we are. We know Samuel is a tweaker.”

His reaction to her blunt reply disarmed him. “Very well Ellie, I withdraw the question. So, that is indeed good news. So, what…what is the bad bad news.”

She reached out and grabbed her glass of wine, raised it to her nostrils, and inhaled deeply. She held it up and gave it a gentle swirl and then took a mouthful. Finally she swallowed and set her glass down. She crossed her legs and leaned back in her chair.

“The bad bad news, Brian, is that to rebuild Samuel we will need a large sum of money. Or, a huge favor.”

Brian raised his glass and finished the wine in it. He grabbed the bottle and filled it up again. He swallowed half and then turned his attention back to Ellie.

“What kind of a favor?”

“Kidnapping.”

“Who is the target, if I may ask?”

“Doctor Cadence Alkum of BioMed Systems.”

“May I ask why, Ellie?”

“We have a personal score to settle with that bitch!” Monte said in a loud tone that made both of them jump. He rounded the corner and entered the room. Monte was tall, wire thin with a very large head. Affixed to his torso was a integrated cybernetic set of limbs. He wore over-sized goggles that disappeared into his skin over his eyes. “Ellie misinformed you. The price is ten million credits and the kidnapping of Cadence Alkum.”

“I see. How long for this procedure to take place and the expected recovery time?”

“Six weeks total, since he is a tweaker.”

“Done. I will wire five million now, two and a half million upon his complete recovery, and the balance when I deliver Cadence. Is that fair enough?”

Monte and Ellie exchanged glances. Ellie nodded her approval. Monte turned back to address Brian. “Yes, that sounds fair. Come with me up to my office and I will give you the account number.”

***


“Will somebody turn off that fucking alarm!” Cadence yelled at the top of her lungs. She was in her apartment getting ready for the celebration dinner with the Twins when the internal security warning went off.

“As you wish, Doctor Alkum. Computer, turn of the auditory alarm function, run silent only. Authorization X-ray-Lima-Victor-Johnny-5-1-9-7.”

“Authorization confirmed, run internal silent alarm only.”

The deafening sound ceased. Cadence moved her lower jaw and rubbed her ear canals. “Thank you Johnny, that is much better. Report.”

“One moment please.” Johnny put the brush down he was using on Dr. Alkum’s hair and walked over to the computer interface. He extended his index finger and plugged in. “Code 187 reported in the Maintenance Section, Gene Strader.”

- Gene? -

“Johnny, call the Doc, have him meet us with two Augments in the Maintenance Section in three minutes.”

“Affirmative.”

“Computer, enable Protocol 2, we are on lock-down until further notice.”

“Initiating Protocol 2. Time to completion, ninety seconds.”

“Ok, Johnny, let’s get going!”

Cadence took off her slip and quickly threw on a jogging suit. Her and Johnny made their way to the stairwell and began their rapid decent to the Maintenance Section. About halfway down the building’s computer system made a general announcement regarding the lock-down, “Employees, Guests, and Visitors please remain calm. A test of the lock-down procedure is under way. You will not be able to leave the building as this is an automated process. Management apologizes for any inconvenience. Remember, this is only a test. In the event of an actual emergency further instructions would be given. Notification of test completion will be announced soon. Thank you for your cooperation.”

As they finished the last flight of stairs, they met up with Doc and the Augments who were waiting on the landing in front of the entrance door. Both augments pulled the belt-feed ammo from there utility pouch around their waist and loaded their miniguns. One Augment, Unit 4, grabbed the door handle. The other, Unit 3, stood in front of the door with his right arm raised. They paused waiting for orders.

“Dearie, Why did the building’s computer announce that this was a test? This doesn’t make sense.” Doc looked at her with the most perplexing look, scratching his head.

“It is a known psychological fact that if the general public thinks there is no real emergency the amount of stupidity and panic is greatly reduced. Now, can we move forward to figure out what is going on?” Her voice was strained with annoyance.

“Oh, right! That makes sense. Sorry. Yes…yes of course. Computer, black out Maintenance on door open from west stairwell entrance.”

“Affirmative, standing by for input.”

“Unit 3, Unit 4…commence breach, sweep, and clear – Alpha 7, go go go!”

“Initiating Alpha 7 as ordered, Sir!” Both Augments sounded off in unison.

Unit 4 quickly yanked the heavy, wooden fire door open. All of maintenance, including the stairwell went pitch black. Unit 3 rushed into the opening, Unit 4 shut the door. They began to hear a high pitched whine, Cadence and Doc quickly shut their eyes and covered their ears. Unit 3 stood there in the dark, motionless with his eyes shut tight. His eyelids glowed with a red hue. Suddenly, his eyes and mouth opened quickly followed by a blinding bright light and a concussive sonic blast.

The door nearly rattled off of it’s hinges. Unit 4 re-opened the door and followed. Flashes of light and the pop of noises came at irregular intervals for the next several minutes as the Augments cleared the Maintenance section of any possible threats. Johnny put his hand up to his “ear”.

“Dr. Alkum, Unit 3 reports all clear, no hostile contacts; area secure.”

“Ok. Thank you Johnny. Transmit orders for them to hold a defensive position and to maintain high alert status.”

“Transmitting…Orders received, orders enacted.”

“Computer, initiate emergency lighting in maintenance section and in the stairwell.”

The lights slowly began to illuminate as not to temporary blind or disorient. Johnny opened the door and stepped inside, followed by Cadence and Doc. Tables, tools, and stools were thrown about in disarray in the main area. Papers, pieces of projects, jigs, equipment littered the floors. Cadence was thankful that everyone had gone home earlier. It wasn’t immediately apparent if this chaos wasn’t the result of “Alpha 7″ conducted by the Augments, or something else entirely.

“Johnny, where is Gene’s body?”

“Last reported position was in the incinerator room.”

Doc swings his head towards Cadence and with a perplexed look asks, “We have an incinerator room?”

“Yes, Doc. This building was designed with the most advanced techniques and technology available. However, all back up systems rely on low tech mid-twentieth century systems. For every button, switch, and gizmo in place, there is a gear, lever, or bypass valve to manually override all systems.”

“I see. So…then what purpose did Gene have for being in the incinerator room?”

“Doc, this is now under the jurisdiction of the internal security force. You and the augments are dismissed. Thank you.”

“But…”

“You are dismissed!” She didn’t raise her voice. However, the look and tone for which she delivered this last statement warranted immediate obedience. Doc has known her for a very long time, in a way they saved each other. He witnessed her rise. He admired her and loved her like a daughter.

“Yes dearie. Units 3 & 4, you are ordered to stand down and accompany me back to the Core.”

Both Augments disarmed their miniguns and walked towards Doc. The three exited into the stairwell and continued back to Doc’s special lair.

“Computer, open a direct com-link to internal security.”

“One moment. Com-link open, speak when you are ready.”

“Security, this is Doctor Alkum, please respond.”

“Agent Lee here Director. Go ahead, over.”

“I need two Agents to report to the Incinerator in the Maintenance section to assist with an investigation.”

“Director, most of the Agents are combing the building assisting with those stranded and getting them to a safe location during the emergency test. However, Johnson and Johnson just radioed in, their sector is clear. I am dispatching them to your location now. ETA, four minutes, 21 seconds.”

“Very good Agent Lee. Over and out.” Cadence shook her head. The agents were a strange bunch. To hide their true identities they purposefully chose the most common of surnames. Never did they use first, middle, or nicknames. Sometimes it made for comic puns at their expense with the others in the building. However, none questioned when an Agent spoke.

Cadence looked at Johnny. “Let’s look around and see if we can figure out what happened here.”

“As you wish, Doctor Alkum. Why was Gene Strader utilizing the incinerator? I do not possess any records for the manual use…”

“Johnny…Gene was following a direct order. There were complications during the birth earlier today. The surrogate died; she had no records, no family; nothing. She was a Jane Doe. She didn’t exist in the system.”

“Understood.”

They both walked through the repair section and followed a narrow passage with various sized pipes and electrical conduit anchored along the ceiling. The narrow passage branched out in several different directions. Johnny lead the way and they both started to turn right towards their final destination. Johnny stopped and lowered his head slightly.

“Blood, trace amounts.” He paused, and raised his head slightly.

Cadence could hear the electro-mechanical servos in his “eyes” refocusing further ahead.

“More blood, higher quantity.” Another pause, another whine of the servos.

“Bloody footprints, too small to coincide with Gene Strader’s physiological records.” Johnny turned around behind him, pausing…calculating. Looking up. Looking down. He raised his right hand and extended his index finger pointing to the ceiling a few feet from where they stood.

“The tracks end there.”

“On the ceiling?” Cadence couldn’t fathom the idea of footprints ending on the ceiling. “But, that’s impossible.”

“Affirmative, Doctor Alkum. As impossible as it may seem to modern physics and the theory of general relativity, I can only report what evidence there is before me. The evidence suggest an early rapid loss of blood. Whatever made these tracks was moving at an incredible rate of speed, with an equal rapid rate of healing…”

“Healing? Explain.”

“Apologies Doctor Alkum, I have no valid explanation. More data needs to be collected. There also is no hypothesis as to why there are footprints ending on the ceiling.”

“Fascinating. Let’s move on and…”

“DIRECTOR!” The Agents, both wearing white gloves sounded off in unison as the turned the corner, seeing Cadence and Johnny, they snapped to attention.

Cadence jumped and let out a scream that echoed off the walls.

“God dammit agents! You nearly scared the shit out of me!”

“Apologies Director. Johnson and Johnson reporting as ordered!”

“My God, Agents…how old are you? You look like babies.” The agents looked at each other in confusion. “Never mind, just pay attention. Johnny, get the agents here caught up on what we have figured out so far.”

Johnny proceeded to fill the Agents in on the information that had been gathered. Cadence began inspecting some of the bloody tracks herself. Her mind still couldn’t figure out how, whatever this thing was, it could walk on the ceiling. She recalled learning in her animal biology class that insects, and certain amphibians, had microscopic tarsal claws that served as anchors in the infinitesimally small irregularities in apparently smooth surfaces.

- What are we dealing with here? A large escaped gecko or something? – Candace’s mind strained to find an answer.

She got down on her hands and knees and lowered her head as close as she could to one of the bloody samples. She closed her left eye and opened her right eye as wide as she could. It bulged and began sliding out of her socket getting closer yet still to the sample. Suddenly her brain registered the individual blood cells at a microscopic level. There was something familiar there, yet very different. Zooming in to electron microscope range, she saw it.

“FUCK ME!”

Johnny stopped in mid sentence, “Is everything alright Doctor Alkum? He turned his attention to where she was, only to see that she wasn’t there. He looked down and tilted his head to one side. Her butt was facing them, high in the air. Both Agents turned to look, their heads tilted to one side as well.

“I think I know how this…thing can apparently defy the laws of physics.” Cadence quickly stood up and turned around. All three were still looking where her butt was. “Are you paying attention?” She yelled. They snapped their heads to her face.

“Please, Doctor Alkum, share your information.” Johnny replied.

“We need to collect samples so I can take them back to my lab to verify my hypothesis. But first, Agents, I need you to go through these tunnels to make sure they are empty. Johnny, I want you to collect some blood samples further in. I will go see if I can find Gene’s body.”

One of the Agents spoke up, “What is it that we are looking for? And…what do we do with it, if we find it?”

“If my hypothesis is correct, you are looking for a humanoid creature, with animalistic tendencies. It is probably scared and will become extremely dangerous if it feels threatened. It has the capability to climb walls and ceilings. Move with stealth, never split up. If you find it, use your tranquilizer darts. I want it alive. At your discretion you may need to call for back-up.”

The two Agents broke off down an alternate tunnel. Johnny and Cadence pushed on further down the passageway. Johnny stopped near the entrance to the Incinerator to where a heavy puddle of blood lay. He knelt down and began collecting several samples. Cadence crossed the entrance. She stopped and quickly turned her head with her hands over her mouth.

Heat poured out of the large furnace indicating that it was in use. The foul smell of burnt flesh polluted the air, it made Cadence nauseous. She turned her head back towards the horrific site. - Poor guy, nobody deserves to be burned alive. - She noticed the gurney that Mother had been on was seemingly out of place. It rested near the far side of the wall, adjacent to the furnace. A blood stained sheet still draped over the corpse. - Mother? But…how? -

The corpse cast doubt on her own hypothesis. She slowly walked over to the gurney. Her heart was racing faster than she ever expected. She could feel the adrenaline surging through her body. It was telling her to run. Run hard, run fast, and never look back! But, her mind…her beautiful, logical mind…told her that she needed to know…to understand what, why, and how. Slowly she reached out her hand. It shook violently with fear and anticipation. Closer, and closer she moved forward. She forced her hand to steady.

Sweat poured off of her brow, ran down her cheeks, and collected between her breasts. The heat from the furnace seemed to get hotter. She shook it off as fear, her senses were increasing in sensitivity due to stress. Her hand found a bloodless spot on the corner of the sheet. She hesitated, not sure if she wanted to know what was underneath. She closed her eyes and quickly yanked on the sheet.

Something was stuck to the sheet and it came flying at her. She opened her eyes as a translucent shell of soft human skin wrapped around her body. She screamed and tripped over her own feet. She struggled to get the damn thing off of her. However her confusion, fright, and adrenalin made the scene much worse. It was like it had a mind of its own, knowing how to prolong it’s grapple, maintaining constant contact with her flailing arms and legs.

Johnny rushed in and pulled the lifeless skin off of her and threw it to the ground. He grabbed her by the arms and tried to hold her in place to calm her down. She continued to fight and scream. He spoke to her, “It is ok, it is nothing more than an epidermis shell; lifeless, you are in no danger!” He pushed his face close to her and repeated with more volume and determination in his voice. She shook, and just as soon as it started it was over. She held still, her eyes looking at his, darting back and forth. Still trembling she forced herself to remain calm.

“I am ok. I didn’t expect to find that.”

“Director! Director! Are you ok?” Both Agents bound through the door with guns drawn. “We heard the screams and had to make sure you were ok.”

“Doctor Alkum is fine, just experienced a frighteni…” Johnny’s voice was soothing and calm.

“WHAT THE FUCK IS…” BLAM BLAM BLAM, several gunshot sounds reverberated off the concrete walls as both Agents plugged the skin sac with bullets. “…THAT?”

“Cease fire! Put your weapons away!” Cadence stood up and regained her composure, somewhat. “As Johnny said, I was scared by this thing when it stuck to some dried blood on the sheet and flew up at me when I tried to uncover it. Please, everything is fine. Go and continue your search of the other tunnels.”

The two Agents left as they were told. Cadence looked at the fleshy blob and looked to investigate it. Something had come out of this shell. It was mother’s shell, that she could tell by the facial features and the incisions that were made during the cesarean.

- How did this happen? -

“Johnny, call the Twins and have them come down here immediately. Tell them to bring an isolation cart. We have to figure out what exactly happened here.”

“As you wish, Doctor Alkum.”
Financing and Managing a webcomic called Geeks & Goblins.


"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." -Ozzy
"Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded." - Sparky Polastri
"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum." - Frank Nada

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cadbrowser
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Re: Prime Mover

Post by cadbrowser » 2014-06-03 11:40am

Chapter IX - Enigma


As the four Augments descended from the night sky, they could see police and emergency vehicles already on the scene. Sometimes, the Agents weren't as exact in their calculations. Call it a human flaw. A vestigial remnant of their natural brain interfering with their quantum positron enhancements. They were however, Doctor Alkum’s first successful miscellany of the natural and the mechanical eight years ago.

They altered their descent so that their presence would have the lowest probability of being detected, landing in a particularly dense patch of tall oak trees a half mile from the public restroom that Samuel used earlier. All three Augments quickly and quietly made their way through the trees, winding around bushes, hoping over a small creek, and maneuvering through fallen, twisted branches. They moved fast, reaching their destination in less than a minute. Three of the Augments took up covert defensive positions close to the crime scene. The fourth remained deeper in the woods scanning the area. As Augment one scanned the area he established a communication’s link to Doc.

Doc sat there like a Dwarf from those old medieval fantasy books in a black, leather bucket-seat shaped chair. He had just returned from leaving Cadence in the Maintenance Section. The two other Augments climbed in the deactivation chamber to be returned to their respective holding tanks.

His control panel featured several large electronic screens. In front of him a holographic projection, the size of a basketball, of Earth displaying red blips that kept track the precise GPS coordinate of each Augment in deployment. Each screen was radio linked to a monitoring system displaying vitals, audio, and visual data. His eyes constantly darted between the three active screens watching their descent.

“Incoming message!” A metallic voice announced over the small speaker next to Doc’s keyboard. He immediately looked up.
Unit 1 wrote: PRIMARY OBJECTIVE COMPROMISED. UNIT 2, UNIT 5, AND UNIT 6 ON DEFENSIVE STANDBY. AWAITING ORDERS.
“Acknowledged Unit One. Standby for secondary objective.”

Suddenly alarms went off in the building…again. Doc jumped and nearly fell out of his chair.

“Attention Employees. This is not a drill. Please proceed in an orderly fashion to the nearest dedicated safe zone and remain calm. Security will be available for assistance. If you do need assistance please press the blue button with the gold shield at your nearest elevator bank. For your convenience we are transmitting the fastest and safest routes to your personal phones. Remember, this is not a drill.”

Doc sat there dumbfounded, “Shit. I wish she wouldn’t have sent me away like that.”

“Incoming message!” The metallic voice sounded again. Doc shook his head.
Unit 1 wrote:PRIMARY OBJECTIVE COMPROMISED. UNIT 2, UNIT 5, AND UNIT 6 ON DEFENSIVE STANDBY. AWAITING ORDERS.
- Shit! Keep your damn pants on Unit One! -

“Computer, initiate a direct com-link to security.”

“Link established, proceed.”

“Security, this is Doc, I have a priority message for Agent White.”

In the background Doc could hear:

“”Attention Employees. This is not a drill. Please proceed in an orderly fashion…”

“This is Agent Lee, patching you to Agent White.” There was a slight pause. “Go ahead, channel secure.”

“Agent White, this is Doc. Unit One reports a compromise to primary objective. Requesting a secondary objective.”

“Initiate secondary objective as Tag and Bag.”

“”Attention Employees. This is not a drill. Please proceed in an orderly fashion…”

“Understood, sending Tag and Bag protocol now. Out.”

Doc rattled his fingers across the keyboard and hit the enter key.

“Incoming message!”
Unit 1 wrote:EXECUTING SECONDARY OBJECTIVE: TAG AND BAG. END OF LINE.
Finally, the alarm went silent indicating that the Agents have reported in that all employees and visitors were secure. Doc hopped down from his chair and walked over to the Augments hanging from their posts next to the deactivation chamber. They slumped there, no emotion, lifeless…like a scarecrow indifferent to the crows perched on his arms mocking his inability to actually scare them anymore. Doc climbed up the ladder and began hooking up various cables, hoses, clamps, and other devices to the Augment. He repeated this procedure to the other one as well.

He walked back over to his console and threw a few levers. He looked up and watched as the automated crane high in the ceiling came to live and lifted each Augment one at a time and returned them to their proper holding tank. He returned to the control panel and climbed back up in his chair. He noticed that one of the monitors was out.

It was the monitor linked to the camera mounted outside the Core’s door. He climbed on the desk to verify that it hadn’t become disconnected.

A ominous deep gong echoed off the insides of the chamber walls.

Doc quizzically looked up. Several long seconds passed. Nothing. He returned to his seat. Looked around, studying the Augments, making sure one of them wasn’t having a violent dream. Nothing. No movement save for the steady rise and fall of their chests. - Must be my imagination. I need a nap! – He sighed. Doc reached out and shut off the disabled screen. He then turned to his mouse and clicked through several folders on the desktop.

He selected the playback file for the security camera outside the Core’s entrance. Lucky for him, the data was recorded in a reverse playback so that when he started the re-watch, it played the last segments first, backwards. Five minutes went by and there was nothing except “snow”. - Surely I didn’t fail to notice that screen being disabled for that long! - Eight minutes went by. Ten…Nothing but static and fuzz.

Twelve…

The noise returned, louder.

***


“The Twins are not responding, Doctor Alkum.”

“They aren’t?” Cadence stood there perplexed. Still visibly shaken from the incident with the slough of skin. “Computer! Triangulate location for Karl Lott and Mara Lott.”

“Calculating, one moment please. Karl Lott and Mara Lott are not within range or their communication devices are off.”

Cadence stood there for a moment, thinking. A loud noise echoed through the walls, and micro-vibrations shuddered through her body breaking her concentration. She looked up, then slowly spun around wondering where the noise came from. She looked at Johnny as if she expected an explanation.

“Johnny, did you feel or hear that?”

“I did, Doctor Alkum.”

“Any idea what it might be?”

“I calculate four hundred and sixty two ideas as to what it could be, Doctor Alkum.”

Cadence let out a huff of frustration. “What is the most probable idea then?” She asked sarcastically.

“Unknown.”

“Wait, what?! Are you telling me that you are unable to calculate the most probable cause of that noise?”

“Negative, Doctor Alkum. Due to the lack of information available at this moment, the most probable cause of what we just experienced is Unknown.”

“Did you account for the most recent circumstances? I mean, we have a female human skin suit with nothing in it. My scan of the blood we found earlier indicates that the placental barrier failed. Genetic information from the offspring has infected the host. Mother is running round loose, however we have no idea what, if anything, she is becoming! We don’t have the Twins to go over this information to see whether or not this…this…THING will become a huge liability. Or worse!”

“Re-calculating.”

Cadence crossed her arms across her torso. Wide eyed she gazed down at the skin. Johnny looked around, pausing every so often to run calculations through his quantum probability interpreter. He went to the first puddle of blood, then carefully retraced the bloody footprints back through each puddle, until he reached the last trace of a bloody footprint on the floor. He looked up, carefully re-examining the traces of blood on the pipes attached to the ceiling.

She watched him from the Incinerator room. Several times he disappeared from her sight. -This is taking way too fucking long! – She finally walked over to the empty side of the room and slid down the wall, sitting on the cool concrete floor. Her mind began to wander, to recollect the earlier events of the day in the BioLab.

- The Twins are definitely hiding something from me. No, come on now Cadence, you know better than that. They went home to get ready for the celebratory dinner for tonight. Maybe their cell phones are dead, or off and on the charger. I’m sure they’ll be calling me any…” -

“FUCK!” Cadence jumped off the floor as her right breast vibrated with a loud high pitched ringing.

She fumbled around in her bra for her cellular phone. Her heart was pounding harder than a jackhammer on asphalt. She looked at the screen. She let out a breath of relief.

“Johnny, intercept and listen in on this call!” She hollered out. She slid the green icon on the phone screen to the right to answer.

“Karl! Am I glad to hear from you! Where are you?”

Johnny crossed the entryway into the incinerator and stopped to acquire the signal. It didn’t take him but a millisecond as he was given a special backdoor entry to her device.

“We’re at the restaurant waiting on you. Where are you?”

“I am in the maintenance section investigating the death of Gene with Johnny. Apparently you and Mara were wrong about the placental barrier. Mother literally crawled out of her skin and is now loose. We are on a complete lock-down.”

“Impossible! The placental barrier was…unless…”

“Unless what?!”

Cadence could hear Karl mumbling something, like his hand was over the microphone. She assumed he was talking to his sister. She sat there waiting for Karl to shed some light on this mystery. Her left hand dropped by her side as she started tracing out symbols on the smooth concrete floor.

Suddenly, she heard it again, she felt it, the tremors, through the floor, only it wasn’t as strong as before. Whatever it was, it appeared to be moving around.

“Cadence, you still there?”

“Yes, Karl, please…unless what?”

“Well, remember the first incision and how the offspring reacted?”

“Yeah, sure, I remember.”

“Ok. Well, Mara and I went over as much of the data and conducted an autopsy, before calling Gene, to see if we could account for that anomaly before we left to get ready for the dinner with you. Mara stumbled across something that wasn’t predicted, nor was it noticed until after the fact.”

“Oh kay.” Cadence responded drawing out the phonetics. “What did she find?”

“She found a thirteenth cranial nerve that fed through the spinal column into the placenta where it split and branched off through each umbilical cord into the offspring. Essentially, Cadence, those six individuals were one entity. When you cut the mother open, the rest felt it. That is why they reacted the way they did. It wasn’t a failure with the placental barrier. That, for all intents and purposes, did exactly what we designed it to do.”

Cadence’s eyes widened. Her mouth hung open in disbelief.

“But the human body only has twelve! And they terminate at the spinal column. Where did Mother get the genetic information to code a thirteenth cranial nerve? Especially one that goes through the whole system?! And how in the fuck did she shed her skin and come back to life?”

“We don’t know for sure, we were going to discuss the extra cranial nerve with you over dinner to see if you had any inclination. It could be just an undocumented genetic disorder that has never been discovered until now. When you made the incision on the mother, as I’ve said before, the offspring reacted to the pain. They must have felt it through that connection. I surmise once they felt that pain, their flight or fight response kicked in resulting in the termination of their host. It is conceivable that with the damage done and the shock, some of their genetic information made it back to Mother. You remember what we designed these things for right? “

“Shit, Karl. Fuck! Yes, of course I remember what we designed them for. How would some of their genetic material get into Mother? I mean, there was no damage to the offspring noted in the reports.”

“I don’t know. Without me being there to run some tests it is near impossible to even say. W-wait a minute…Mara is saying something.”

Cadence waited impatiently while muffled noises from the two siblings through the phone’s receiver indicated a heightened level of distress. She stood there pacing back and forth straining her ear to make out specific words to no avail. Those few seconds seemed like an eternity.

“Mara says she remembers something.”

“What?! What is it?”

“During the incident, Mara thinks she remembers seeing one of the brood impaled on a rib bone. She says she looked up to notify you and then when she looked back down it appeared to be fine; no sign of damage or injury. So, she dismissed it as a panic induced mirage.”

“So, what you are saying is there is a possibility that mother’s body was contaminated by the nano-dna?”

Cadence looked at Johnny, he nodded an affirmative before she received confirmation from Karl.

“IF, what Mara is telling me actually happened, then yes…that is the most likely scenario.”

“What does it want then?”

“It wants what all creatures on this planet want, to survive.”

“Doctor Alkum, I am picking up an alarm from the Core.”

***


Chuck and Mike walked into Chief Sanchez’s office. He was sitting behind his desk engaged in a call. He nodded his head up and down several times giving a few “uh-huhs” and other phonetic responses while he scratched information out on a legal pad. Chuck and Mike stood there at attention waiting to be acknowledged.

“Yes…Right…Not at this time…No…We are at your disposal…Very Good…Bye.” Chief Sanchez laid down the receiver on the phone and finished writing down his thought. He looked up at his officers he summoned and stood up.

“Reporting as ordered, Chief.” They both said in unison, raising their hands to salute.

The Chief returned the salute and motioned with his hands, “Please sit down.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Yes, Sir. Thank you.”

“I have just received word that there is another iSAB that has been deactivated. The call came in just a few minutes ago. The vic is a high end pleasure class iSAB that was seen by witnesses escorting a man into the woods, there was a lot of noise and…well…she was terminated. At first ambulatory services were called because a few of the other witnesses thought she was a regular prostitute.”

“What would you like us to do, Sir?” Mike asked.

Just then two agents, each dressed in a dark blue two-piece suit, walked in as well. The other three rose, Mike and Chuck turned around to acknowledge their presence.

“Agents, welcome.” Sanchez extended his hand. The two officers took a few steps outward as both of the agents stepped in closer and in turn firmly shook the Chief’s hand. “It is good to be cooperating with you.”

Mike and Chuck reached out their hands and introduced themselves. Both agents were cordial, yet quick.

“I hate to cut the pleasantries short, but we should be moving right away.” One of the men in the suit said. Not in a hostile way mind you. But, with a sense of urgency. “Officers, if you will accompany us, we can brief you on the way. I am Special Agent Jacobs, and my partner here is Special Agent Leason.”

“Thank you Chief Sanchez, your cooperation is this investigation reflects well on you and your precinct.” Agent Leason remarked. “We will be in touch. Officers, if you please.”

Chuck and Mike saluted Chief Sanchez one last time as they walked out of the office with the Agents.

“We need to move quickly. Officers, you’ll ride with us out to the crime scene.”

They hurried through the main floor of the building. Agent Leason held the door open for the others. They made their way down the small flight of stairs garnishing the front entrance. There, in front of them, was a small dome shaped dark blue vehicle of sorts. It looked like a soap bubble on wheels.

“What on Earth is this thing?” Mike couldn’t control his laughter.

Agent Jacobs smiled as he stretched his arms wide introducing the oddity, “This, Officers, is the latest technological marvel in travel.”

“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid if I sit in it I’ll break it.”

Agent Leason walked down the last few steps, he paused and looked at Mike, “Don’t worry, this baby is a lot stronger than she looks. She packs quite a punch.”

Mike saw that there was a government issued license plate on it. He made a mental note, making sure to keep his eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary. He really didn’t want to sit through another ass chewing for failure to recognize people claiming to be someone or something they are most definitely not. He was reasonably sure that these men were legitimate Federal Officers due to them have been sent by an official liaison.

“Alrighty then. How bad can it be?”

The agents looked at each other and nodded. They all climbed in and shut the doors.

“So, where are we headed?” Chuck asked closing the door. The engine turned over and the vehicle roared to life.

Agent Jacobs, sitting in the driver’s seat, turned his head, “Seat belts gentlemen. Safety first.”

Mike and Chuck looked at each other, shrugged, and fastened themselves in.

“We are heading to the Riverwalk. Once Chief Sanchez got the report of another iSAB deactivation he called us. We requested your assistance to keep you and your department involved. We are here to support one another.”

Mike turned to Chuck and they both looked a bit surprised. “Well, Special Agent Leason, we will do everything we can to assist. We are buckled in, lets see what this thing can do!”

Agent Jacobs looked at Agent Leason, they both nodded, and smiled hard. Both returned facing forward. There was a soft click, and the engine let out a massive low pitched whirling noise. Slowly and steadily the pitch got louder. The vehicle shook and both officers in the back seat jumped a little bit.

“Here we go!”

Without warning, Chuck experienced a bit of vertigo and stretched his arms out as to regain his balance. Mike looked at him in confusion, and then his eyes began to widen. He could see the front end lifting. The street was no longer before them. Then he felt the slightest jostle as he looked outside the window and saw the front of the police building slide downward out of view.

“What is this? What is happening?”

Chuck let out a low groan, “Oh my God, I think I’m going to be sick.”

“Set coordinates Agent Leason.”

The vehicle spun counterclockwise, almost facing the opposite direction.

“Coordinates set. Engage the Jumper on my mark…3…2…1….MARK!”

There was a soft, low thump, Mike felt like an elephant just sat on him, pushing him further and further into the seat. He couldn’t move. His face felt like it was peeling away from its skull. He could hear the two agents hollering with glee…or horror, he wasn’t sure which. A gray fog began to creep around his peripheral. Chuck sounded like he was trying to vomit. Suddenly, the gray turned darker. The noise faded.

*BLACKOUT*

“Hey!” Agent Leason slapped Mike in the face. “Snap out of it. Time to get going.”

“Decent vector nominal, touchdown in thirty seconds.”

Mike opened his eyes and looked around puzzled. The feeling he had was very similar to that one party back in the Academy where he drank too much and found himself naked in a park tied to a merry-go-round that was set spinning. He could never piece together the events of that night, so he stopped trying. His head was swimming. He heard Chuck moan.

“What just happened?” Chuck asked. He didn’t look up. It took his whole being to fight back the constant waves of nausea.

“Congratulations gentlemen, you have just endured a momentary twenty g jump, courtesy of your government’s finest selection of scientist.” Agent Leason’s smile widened. “It allows us to hop from location to location, nominally, seven times faster than using the streets.”

“You could’ve killed us!” Mike accused.

“Twenty seconds. Looks like ambulatory is bringing the body out of the woods.”

“Nonsense! The human body can tolerate a twenty g acceleration for almost ten seconds. Your experience was one-fifth that. You’ll be fine.”

- Fucking assholes! – Chuck muttered under his breath. Mike just stared at the agents in disbelief.

“Ten seconds. We’ll be landing about five meters from the police barrier.”

“When we get down there, Mike, you and Chuck will assume control of the perimeter. Unfortunately they have moved the body so we have to treat this as a contaminated crime scene. My partner and I will question the witnesses and dismiss the medical units on scene. Utilize the other officers already on scene to keep the media out.”

Chuck finally managed to regain his composure. “We can do that. What about the DoS? Will they be showing up?”

“No, they are coordinating with us. We will take the iSAB back to our secure lab where they will come and go from there. So, anyone showing up, claiming to be part of DoS, we take them down on site.”

“Take them down?”

“Non-lethal. We’ll want to question them, of course.”

“Ah…ok, understood.”

The vehicle landed softly on the ground. The Agents got out and immediately walked over to the police perimeter with their badges out. Mike and Chuck exited, still wobbly from the effects of the jump. They walked side by side, closer than any two people usually do, in an attempt to keep each other upright.

***


Doc sat there slightly shaken. His eyes remained fixed on the vault door. He waited. Nothing. He slowly turned to the security feed playback. It was at sixteen minutes and three seconds when he noticed the video feed was displaying images. His heart raced as he rotated the control knob counter-clockwise to replay the last few minutes to find out when and hopefully what caused the disruption. Slowly he turned back time. The dim lighting outside reflected the green hue of the walls leading up to his lair.

A flash. A blur. It happened so fast, he almost missed it. He sat there dumbfounded trying to understand what it was that he just saw. He replayed the scene again, this time slowing the frame rate down to half speed. It really didn’t help much. The blur was elongated slightly, however it seemed to move just as fast as before. - Replay again, this time at one quarter speed. – His eyes fixed on the monitor. His face moved closer to the screen.

*CLANG*

The vault door buckled. The chamber walls shook. Dust fell from tiny cracks and crevices creating a small fog that filled the room. The noise caused doc to startle and fall out of his chair. He hit the floor with a sickening thud. He cried out in agony. He reached down and felt his left leg. His patella was rotated ninety degrees out of place. He used his good leg and his arms to slowly pull himself up to the console.

*CLANG*

The vault door shook harder and bent. Alarms went off. Doc looked back at the three remaining Augments left in their tanks. He slowly began flipping levers, turning switches, and pushing buttons to activate them. His left knee buckled as he tried to lean over and hit a switch, almost falling to the ground again.

“Doc! Cadence here. Are you ok? Johnny just informed me that he picked up an alarm in the Core. Please respond.”

Doc shifted his weight and reached for the com switch again.

“DOC! ANSWER ME!”

Cadence stood there waiting for Doc to reply.

“Johnny, call secur…”

“Doc here. There is something beating on the vault door. I have dislocated my kneecap. Initiating the remaining Augments for defense. *CLANG* I don’t know how long…*CLANG*…”

…static…

“Doc?”

…static…

“DOC?!”

…static…

“FUCK! NO! DOC, come in.”

…silence…

Cadence stood there, her hands trembling as she raised them to her mouth. A tear eased out of her eye, rolled down her cheek, and then fell to the floor. Johnny turned and looked at Cadence with his head tilted to one side.

“Doctor Alkum?”

She looked up at him, eyes red, more tears fell from her face. After a few moments her face scowled, her mouth tightened, her jaw set, and her eyes narrowed.

“Wha-what is happening? Cadence? Do you need Mara and I to come to you?”

They call it the thousand yard stare. Like a combat veteran that has spent too much time witnessing vast horrors of war, Cadence’s gaze became increasingly distant. Without taking her eyes off of the fire burning in the incinerator she spoke, “No Karl, you both can’t get in until the building has been cleared.” She then pressed the end button and terminated the call. “Johnny, contact security, have ALL of them meet me at the Core, we have a threat to eliminate.”

“As you wish, Doctor Alkum.”

***


“Hello Officer Sloan.” He greeted him with a friendly smile, hand extended, as he eyeballed the policeman’s badge. “I am Special Agent Jacobs and this is my partner Special Agent Leason, we are with the FBI.” The officer shook both men’s hand returning a weary smile. The agents reached into their inside suit pockets, pulled out, and flipped open their badges. The officer stood there and looked them over. Mike and Chuck seemed to be walking a little bit better and they hurried to join up with the agents. The officer looked up and saw them approach.

“Hey guys. Are you with the suits?”

“Yep, that is correct. We are working together to investigate what happened here.”

“Well, Mike, emergency services were called approximately eighteen to twenty minutes ago when she…” He pointed to a lady dressed in a bright orange jogging suit that had silver reflective stripes running down the outside of the legs and arms. She had her head bandaged up sitting on a gurney. “…heard a male and female fighting in the woods over there.” He nudged towards the area behind the public restroom. “She said…”

“Her name please?” Agent Jacobs interrupted.

“Uh, oh…her name is…” He flipped a few pages in his little black note pad. “…Mary. Mary Swanson. She said that she tried to get a closer look, to video record it, when a loud noise threw her against the back of the building there, where she smacked her head knocking her out.”

“A loud noise?”

“Yes, that is correct. I quote, it was unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. I was thrown back so fast then I remember waking up being tended to by the paramedics, end quote. She suffered a mild concussion and a pretty good bump on the back of her head. That man over there…uhm…Dave. Dave Thorton claims he was jogging through and found Mrs. Swanson, he ended up calling emergency services as well.”

“Did Mr. Thorton hear the scream or any commotion?”

“Let me see here.” Officer Sloan flipped a few more pages. “No. I asked him and he said he doesn’t remember hearing anything like that.”

“Were there any other witnesses?”

“According to the paramedics that arrived on scene a handful of people had gathered by then. But, none of them was able to give anymore information.”

Mike looked at the agents. “Peculiar to say the least. Oh shit, here comes the press. I will leave you two to do your job. C’mon Chuck, lets go round up the rest of the boys and keep the press back.”

Mike and Chuck left the agents with Officer Sloan. Agent Leason walked over to where the witnesses were being held. Agent Jacobs grabbed his pen and notepad and stepped closer to the cop.

“We understand that there was a body recovered from the actual crime scene in the woods?”

“Yes, well…I mean, it wasn’t an actual body. It was a robot.”

“I see, take me to this robot please.”

Unit six stood between two trees with his body facing the concrete building where the small crowd had been mingling and talking since their arrival. Several small protrusions extended from the armor over his chest. They were no bigger than a coin, bent inward, with a small protrusion at the center. Each moved independently of the other, tracking individual humans, recording their conversations.

The other Augments combed the area outside the perimeter of the crime scene, looking for anything of importance to collect. They were methodical and meticulous. Various imaging scans could detect the smallest piece of evidence. A few items were collected and marked appropriately.
Johnny wrote:EMERGENCY NOTICE: INTRUDER ALERT. INTRUDER ALERT. RETURN TO THE CORE IMMEDIATELY. WEAPONS HOT.
Each Augment froze in place accepting their new orders. One by one they crouched down and then jumped upward. At a great distance in the air, their pulsed sonic reverberation devices carrying them upward back to base.

Everyone at the scene looked up when they heard the rapid thumping. It was like deep micro sonic booms going off in the distance. Agent Leason pulled out a small pair of binoculars to see what was the cause of the noise.

“Blast! It is too darn dark to see anything!” He shouted. He combed the night sky until the noise vanished as mysteriously as it came.

Commotion stirred within the crowd. The press’ cameras were pointed upwards. Officer Sloan and Agent Jacobs had just reached the ambulance where the deactivated iSAB was contained. The officer had his hand on the latch to the ambulance door when he paused and looked Agent Jacobs in the eye.

“Agent, Sir. After you get done examining the robot, I think there are a few things we found in the woods that you might want to see. They are very, puzzling.”
Financing and Managing a webcomic called Geeks & Goblins.


"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." -Ozzy
"Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded." - Sparky Polastri
"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum." - Frank Nada

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cadbrowser
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Re: Prime Mover

Post by cadbrowser » 2014-06-03 11:49am

Chapter X - Dear Diary


June 6th, 2057 11:25 P.M.

My therapist told me that I should start a journal. A collection of my thoughts as they come to me. To write them down and ponder them. She said that I should see if there was anything I wanted to talk about during successive meetings. Hell, I’m only 17, not sure there is much to write about. I made a promise though; to do it once a week. I guess this counts as my first entry. I’m too tired to write anything else. Going to bed.

- Wendy

June 7th, 2057 02:22 A.M.

He was there in my dreams again. I woke up in a cold sweat, screaming. Thankfully, Mr or Mrs Cowl didn’t hear me. I know he is dead, I watched them lower the casket into the ground. That mother fucker. Why does he haunt me like this? I can’t get that face out of my head. Every time I close my eyes I see him. Standing over me, with those eyes. I’m going to the window to smoke a bowl. Maybe that’ll help me forget.

- Wendy

June 12th, 2057 06:30 P.M.

Bad day at school. Ginger called me a whore. I fucking broke her nose and knocked out four of her front teeth. Hehe, I’m betting her boyfriend will thank me later. Stupid bitch. I was suspended for a week though and my guardians are extremely pissed. Except they used the word ‘disappointed’. Mr & Mrs Cowl are nice enough. They took me in when nobody else really wanted to.

I miss my father. My real one, I mean. I was 9 when he left. I remember it like it was yesterday. My parents didn’t know that I was hiding under the bed looking for Christmas presents when she broke down in tears. Some people don’t think kids at that age are smart enough to understand the complexities of human bonding. Of course, I wasn’t like most other kids either. The silly rituals they go through to attract one another. They call it falling in love. Whatever, love is an illusion. It is an imaginary construct to bring civility to our natural hormonal urges to fuck. I’m not stupid.

She said she couldn’t do it anymore. He just stood there with a confused look. She’d fallen in love with another man. It was odd hearing that. I didn’t quite understand what that meant at the time, but now I do. I understand my mom was a cunt that couldn’t keep her legs closed. Dad just packed up his things and walked out. He didn’t even say goodbye to me. I think, with everything I have been through, that hurt the worst.

My dad was a good man. He always played with me. He was never mean to us either. I have always known that he would’ve gone to hell and back for us. He called me his Sunshine and would sing this to me at least once a day:

You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make happy
When skies are grey
You’ll never know dear
How much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away


You know, as I look at those words, it seems to me he should’ve said that last line to mom. Self-fulfilling prophecy? I guess. Shit, this hurts too much. But, in a way it feels like I need to get something out. My eyes hurt and my head is pounding from holding back the tears and feeling the pain all over again.

I tried to find him once. It was as if he vanished from the face of the Earth. To this day, I have no idea if he is alive or dead. I will keep trying though. Maybe one day we can reunite.

- Wendy

June 14th, 2057 03:19 A.M.

That fucking cocksucker came back. It felt so real that I could smell the beer and cheap cowboy perfume. I woke up before he could touch me. Does that mean that I am safe? And really? Who the fuck wears cowboy perfume? Yeah, I know who. His name was Jeff. Mom left me home alone the night dad left. She was gone for three days. I was lucky I was smart enough to know how to fix my own food. It was like nobody else knew or cared. Dale and Margret, our next door neighbors never came by to check in on me. I think they were on vacation or something.

Well, mom came home pretty plastered, with him. Jeff. He looked at me while I was standing on one of the kitchen chairs washing a few dishes at the sink. He smiled and waived. Mom just looked at me, rolled her eyes, and then pulled him in the bedroom and closed the door. I didn’t get much sleep that night. They were pretty loud. From then on, mom always had “adult kool-aid” in her glass.

At first, Jeff was pretty cool, I guess. He seemed like a decent guy. Always doing stuff for mom, helping me keep the house in order, and stuff like that. Then, something changed. I blame myself really. When I turned 10 I got my first period. Jeff was the one that went to the store for me and got me that “girlish” stuff. Mom didn’t appear to care. She was too busy sucking the sweet “nectar of the gods” out of her misshapen glass cock to even notice me most of the time.

He came in the bathroom with me and pulled out the directions and we read them together. I was sitting on the toilet at the time. He asked if I wanted him to stay. I was bleeding from my vagina. I was 10. My mom was in the other room either drinking or passed out already. I was pretty freaked out. I trusted him. So, of course I said yes.

He untied my shoes and pulled them off along with my socks. My pants and underwear had blood on them, so he removed those as well and threw them down the laundry chute. I had blood smeared along the insides of my legs and my other private areas. So he turned on the shower for me. I removed my top. The shower curtain was open, he picked me up and set me in as quickly as he could. He gave me a rag and told me to get cleaned up and we could move on to the next step. He then shut the shower curtain door.

When I opened the shower curtain he was naked from the waist down. What happened after that is pretty much a blur. I shut out most of the specifics. However, there are bits and pieces that I am still trying to forget. I remember being in a lot of pain for several days after that first incident.

I don’t know why I am writing all of this. Maybe deep inside I know what my therapist said was right. A way to let some of this out, to see it in front of me, and to finally be able to move on. I see her tomorrow, I guess it is time to see how much reality she can handle. I hope I have enough weed for tomorrow night, I’m going to need it.

- Wendy

July 4th, 2057 09:52 A.M.

So I missed the last two weeks due to a lot of homework that I had to get caught up. I’m sure you forgive me. I am off school due to Independence Day. Just got through eating breakfast; eggs, bacon, potatoes, and toast with homemade strawberry preserves. Damn Mrs. Cowl can cook! Tonight Mr. Cowl will be providing a fireworks celebration and a cookout for the rest of the residents here. Nothing like amateurs setting off a shit-ton of explosives on the roof of a four story brick building. At least it should be entertaining.

I did talk to the therapist about what Jeff did to me. It turns out that I remembered a lot more than I wrote previously. Really fucking gruesome details too. I believe she turned green a few times. We talked for over four hours. She cried for me, a lot. She tried to put up an impersonal front at first, but once I went into the really bad shit of the first time, she lost it. I could tell there were times she was so angry that she could’ve launched her oversize, solid oak desk out the window. After it was all said and done, I can say she is the first person I’d ever hugged without feeling like I needed to run away.

The nightmares have gone away for the most part. A few nights ago I actually talked to my guardians about my past. I woke up sweating and screaming. Mrs. Cowl came running into the room to calm me down and I accidentally hit her a few times in my panic. Mr. Cowl heard the commotion and came running to. He told me that he had to restrain me. When I finally snapped out of it, they were both there with a sad and worried look. They deserved to know everything, so I felt compelled to tell them both.. After all, they do take good care of me. I wasn’t as gruesome and detailed as i was with the therapist. Pretty much the reactions were the same anyway. It was the first time I was able to hug them both. It felt good. It felt safe.

You see, those regular meatings, as Jeff called them, became commonplace. It always happened once a month, like clockwork, coinciding with my menstrual cycle. I never understood why that sick fuck did that. He lost interest when I turned 16 and started getting breasts. They never got big mind you, more like speed bumps really; at least that’s what my homosexual friend, Frank, calls them. I remember, one time, when I was 11, I tried to tell my mother what was going on. She called me a whore and a liar. She beat me so hard I was in the hospital for a week.

When the state was called in by the doctor to investigate my “accident”, Jeff put on a good show. He ended up convincing the powers that be that my mom was a manic depressive with bi-polar tendencies with violent outbursts. He worked out a deal to put her in a psychiatrist ward for 6 months. Those were the longest and worst 6 months of my life, as the meatings happened almost twice a week. I never said anything to anyone until just recently.

Oh shit, I’ve got to go. Mrs. Cowl needs help in the kitchen for tonight.

-Wendy

July 11th, 2057 05:23 P.M.

I was a mess today at school. I miss my dad so much. I wish we didn’t have to go all year long. Mr. Cowl told me this morning, as I was getting ready, that before his time, all of the kids used to get the summer off. How nice would that be? Nothing to do but hang out and relax? Well, all I have to say to that is, YES PLEASE!

I would miss my computer classes though. When I was like 3, my real dad would let me sit on his lap while he did small side projects to bring in a little extra money. I remember learning how to code in ForeThought, SlipNode, Arabica, and a few other languages. It seem to come natural to me. Computers are pretty much the only thing I can really count on. Once the stuff with Jeff started, I closed off to the rest of the world, an introvert. I fully focused on my computer programming skills. It was my only way to escape, to relive any good memories I had of my real dad when he was still around.

I’ll never forget my first time. I was 5 and I was pissed at my kindergarten teacher for yelling at me earlier that day. I found out she worked part time at the library down the street, so I begged daddy to take me there. While I was there I was able to create and upload a worm virus. It eventually spread to over 15 states before it was eliminated. Yeah, that hit the national news. The coolest thing was, I was never caught or even suspected. Nobody even found my calling card. Idiots.

I could’ve killed Jeff in his sleep, several times over. While that thought seemed to satisfy my most carnal nature, my brain wanted more. I suffered for nearly 6 years. It was his turn. The first thing I had to do was make sure that I would be taken care of when he went away. So I started hacking his computers, bank accounts, background check, and other stuff. I ran into a problem. His criminal record was spotless. I was really surprised.

What I did find out is that he was the President and CEO of a charity organization known as TASAR (Take A Stand Against Ravagers). Oh how cruel the universe can be at times. It was a shelter for abused and battered women. I knew he was making decent money because he left for work everyday in a nice suit.

Since my mom was always drunk, drugged up, or passed out and Jeff generally worked long hours, I was home a lone a lot. I put my plan into action. First, issue a few more life insurance policies against him. It was obvious that he was skimming money through tax shelters from this charity. He wouldn’t miss the extra coin being paid on a monthly basis to them. I didn’t make it an obnoxious policy, a few hundred thousand credits a piece. With the ones he has on himself, it totaled out to just over a million. All of it in a trust fund until I turn 21.

It was easy to brute force hack his accounts as the moron used the same password for every single thing. Go figure, it was my initials with my birth date. How fucking creepy! So, I started downloading some very nasty porn related things into his hard drive. It took me some time, but I was able to find a few exploited children’s sites so that when the time came, he could be seen for what he really is. A pedophile. The kicker was being able to remote into his work computer from his home computer and synchronize all the files together.

You would’ve thought it would have been hard for me to do this. To look at all of those images, download those kinds of videos. There was some brutal and repulsive shit on there. It wasn’t hard for me. Maybe because I was so focused on what I knew I wanted to do that I didn’t let it bother me. Or, perhaps, I was immune, or hardened by years of going through similar events; some if it was much, much worse.

I also wrote a 25 page manifesto defending the right for men to enjoy these kinds of things. I wrote it from a historical perspective on how it was only natural that men like him be allowed their God given right to do whatever they wanted to with the sub-human race of females. It took me several weeks to compile all of the information from various sources. Hell, if I ever would’ve went to college I’m sure I would’ve gotten an A on it. It was a raw carnivorous lusting, lambasted with shit covered apologetics, wrapped in a veil of psychosis.

Revenge. It is a word that is thrown around a lot, but not much action or forethought given to bring it about. Too much emphasis on karma, the golden rule, or some such other bullshit. Not for me. That mother fucker had to pay for what he did. Except, I wanted to blindside him, just like he did to me. I printed several copies of the manifesto. I mailed them to the local churches, the police department, and to the Governor.

Let me tell you something I’ve learned throughout this process. The life expectancy for convicted child molesters in prison nowadays is 127.33 hours. The most frequent cause of death is suicide. This is due to the sheer amount of mistreatment by the other prisoners and the guards. Even the warden will not hesitate to turn his eye to allow a 25 man incident to occur.

The next morning, on Sunday no less, every news reporter from the whole metropolitan area was in our front yard. The neighbors came out of their houses looking just as perplexed as Jeff did. It didn’t take long for the local precinct police department to show up with a warrant along with a special division of the FBI. They took him, his computers, and pretty much everything he ever touched. It was like a symphony of confusion, better than I’d imagined. Throughout all of the questioning and interviews, I never once told anyone what had actually happened to me by the hands of that cum rag.

I watched her die. I killed her. The weeks that turned into months while the State built their case, my mom deteriorated. She couldn’t take the constant interviews, the hate mail, or the threatening calls. Jeff, of course, plead his innocence throughout the whole ordeal. The evidence was damning. My mom kept talking about killing herself, but no, I couldn’t have that. She allowed this shit to happen, to continue, and put me in the hospital from trying to escape. I had a special plan for her.

Do you know what happens to a person’s insides when it comes into contact with a chemical drain clog remover? She tried to lean on me, and to get comfort from me during this whole fiasco. I had to play the innocent, good girl for a while. It wasn’t easy, I will admit. Many times I just wanted to break the tip off of one of her bottles and shove it through her throat. No, that would not allow me to be free.

She asked me to get her another drink and her pills. She took them and settled in, I tucked her in tight. I figured I had about ten minutes before the capsules I’d replaced the relaxer with Drano melted in her stomach. She was snoring almost after she swallowed. I gathered the chemicals, broke open a few pills to make it look like she’d been planning this for a while. I then locked the door from the inside and went to my room to wait.

Several minutes passed by before I heard a gurgling scream. I ran upstairs and attempted to break down the door. Well, that didn’t work out so well. I was pissed. I wanted to see her pain, her agony; I wanted to watch her get eaten from the inside out. I wasn’t heavy enough to bust open the door. The cries and screams died down too quickly. So I ran downstairs and called 911. I never did get to see what she looked like.

The Department of Family Services escorted me to a orphanage. Something I didn’t plan that worked out in my favor was the suicide note she’d left in her top dresser drawer. Jeff was convicted as you can imagine and met a very violent death at the hands of several other inmates.

I feel no guilt or shame, not even to this day. I am relatively certain that, if someday, this diary gets out I could claim temporary insanity and walk away scot free. My hand is cramped from writing too much.

- Wendy

July 18th, 2057 01:57 A.M.

Fuckity Fuck Fuck. I was going to write about this when I got home from school later today, but I can’t sleep. Haven’t had any weed for a week now. A weird thing happened to me at school yesterday. Sheri and Jon asked me if I’d ever heard of the Essence. I wasn’t sure if they were talking about shampoo or the latest Melvin Kline fragrance, so I told them no. BIG MISTAKE!!! My whole lunch break was ruined. According to them, just right after the Big Bang there spawned 13 entities who together makes up a part of everything we are. Or something like that. I stopped listening after they went through each and every fucking name, their attributes and bla bla bla. I hope I never hear from them again.

Oooh, haha. I found a blunt I hid in you, Diary! Nice to know you are looking out for me. Sleepytown here I come. Catch ya later.

- Wendy

July 29th, 2057 03:46 P.M.

Happy 18th Birthday to me. Mr. and Mrs. Cowl said they had a surprise for me when I got home from school. Well, I’m home and they are NOWHERE to be found. I hope they didn’t forget. On a side note, I have made a few friends around here and at school. The therapist has noted a remarked improvement in me lately. I think writing out some of my past has helped me not have to feel like I have to hold it in all the time and relive it like a bad horror movie. It is like a small release, or something. I wish they’d hurry up and get done so I can find out what my present is!

- Wendy

July 29th, 2057 09:30 P.M.

I just don’t know what to say. The surprise they had in mind was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. They needed my signature to submit to a judge with paperwork to begin the process of finding out what happened to my real dad. Apparently they have been working with the court system for a few years now to find a loophole for the 21 Years of Age limit. I guess they did. My head is swimming with hope, and yet uncertainty at the same time. I may have to go throw up.

- Wendy

August 8th, 2057 02:15 P.M.

School let out early due to the heat. The temperature is so erratic sometimes. The damn courts need to hurry tho. I keep wondering in the back of my mind why he never called, wrote, or anything. I’m sure he had his reasons. Maybe my mom or Jeff denied him, or burned every bit of correspondence he sent. Ugh, this waiting is killing me.

- Wendy

August 24th, 2057 07:23 P.M.

He’s mother fucking dead! I knew it! Fuck this life, fuck everything. FUCK THE WORLD!

- WHO FUCKING CARES!

August 25th, 2057 03:01 P.M.

My eyes hurt. My head is pounding. I don’t know if I can take anymore crying. Sometimes I just wish I could vanish, like I never existed; to become nothingness. He died several years ago in a freak construction accident. Some robot went berserk and he was the first to try to shut it down so it wouldn’t hurt anyone. The copy of the obituary says he was survived by a wife and small boy, but their names are blacked out. Did he change his name? Why? Why did he leave me? Why did he never try to call me or write to me? Why? Why? WHY?

Was I so unloved, even by him, that I had become completely worthless, not even worth fighting for? I don’t understand. I don’t know if I want to understand. This hurts worse than him not saying goodbye.

- Wendy

September 14th, 2057 06:54 P.M.

I have been speaking with the therapist about what’s been going on with me these past few weeks. She’s encouraged me to use my talents to help gain closure. I decided to find out more answers. I got my computer out and began trying to figure out who the blacked out names were. I began by scanning in the document and utilizing a text recognition software to be able to utilize the internet search function to find online newspaper obituaries that matched. One came up with a 97% match. The names that came up were Elizabeth Danielle Jackson and Samuel Carter Jackson. It was odd that I didn’t find any court records for wrongful death suits. I really don’t understand what that is all about. I will talk to my guardians to see if they have any other ideas.

- Wendy

September 15th, 2057 10:07 A.M.

I didn’t go to school today. Too many questions to get answered, to much to figure out. I talked with Mrs. Cowl. Get this, they just admitted a family to the shelter last week, a mom and a boy. Yes, they are the ones from the obituary. Or, at least they have the exact same names. She offered to contact them in case if I wanted to talk to them. She would set up a dinner meeting or something special. I don’t know what to think now. I have a half-brother. Would I resent him because he got more time than I did? Would I hate them because they may have been the ones responsible for keeping him from me? I am so confused right now. So very confused. I don’t know which end is up anymore. I want to run away, to hurt someone. However, nobody deserves to feel my pain. I wish you could talk back to me diary. Tell me what to do?

- Wendy

September 16th, 2057 03:54 P.M.

I’ve decided that I need to know. I need to know why I was never contacted. Why, it seemed, my father never tried to fight for me at all. I told Mrs. Cowl that I wanted the dinner set up this weekend. I let her know what I was going through (it seems I am doing that a lot more now) and she made sure, several times that I was sure that I wanted to do this. She reminded me that I may not like the answer. I told her that I don’t care, I have to know. She also wanted me to talk with my therapist to make sure I was in the right frame of mind. I guess there is also the chance that they had never knew I existed. Or that he left and never thought twice about heading back. We talked about as many different scenarios as we could think of. I am feeling very drained. I don’t know how I’ll react. Better keep the Drano away from me.

- Wendy

September 21st, 2057 11:37 P.M.

They came. They actually came for dinner. It was about 5 o’clock I guess. I was standing there, waiting for a dismissive gawk from both of them, as if I’d never been heard of before. Mrs. Cowl never told them why she needed to talk to them. Just that it was a customary dinner for new tenants and that she was sorry she hadn’t had a chance to invite them over earlier. She apologized that Mr. Cowl couldn’t be there as he had some maintenance issues to tend to.

They, I could tell, were a bit nervous walking in. Mrs. Cowl went to introduce us and Elizabeth held up her hand, motioning silence. My guardian looked at her like she must’ve been out of her mind. What happened next is so; I’m shaking, shuddering, disjointed, out of touch with reality. Like finding yourself in a dream to be able to fly, or pick up a locomotive. Something completely unexpected happened.

Elizabeth tilted her head as she looked at me deep in my eyes. It felt like she was looking through me, piercing my soul. She stood there for a very long time, quiet, as tears began streaming down her face. Several times she tried to wipe them away with her hands. Her body shook as I could see waves of emotion pouring over her. Finally she spoke a single word. Not a statement, but a question. One that begged an answer.

Query?

Tears erupted from my eyes like a geyser long overdue. I hadn’t heard that name in over 10 years. It was the pet name my father to gave to me from sitting on his lap. I was always asking questions, wanting to know more, wanting to know why, when, and how. I collapsed to the floor sobbing uncontrollably. Mrs Cowl came to my side. Elizabeth walked over and knelt down beside me and wrapped her arms around me. She then whispered in my ear:

He never stopped looking.

Oh dear diary, I think we stayed there in that position for over two hours, crying. I felt bad for her son, Samuel, he had no idea what the fuck was going on. He is about twelve I’d say. Just learning that he has a half-sister now. Elizabeth regained her composure and assured Samuel that everything was ok. Elizabeth then whispered something in his ear and he bolted for the door. We’d decided to re-heat up dinner while we were waiting for Samuel to get back.

It wasn’t too much longer when Samuel came bolting through the door with a small suitcase. He handed it to his mother and she held it tight against her body. She took a moment just standing there looking at me. The tears began to well up in her eyes again. She handed it to me and told me that it belonged to me, that my father would want me to have it.

I asked her what it was. She said to just open it. So I laid it down on its side and unclasped both buckles and slowly opened it. At about halfway to lifting the lid a melody began to play. - You Are My Sunshine - My knees weakened as tears, again, streamed down my face. When I fully opened up the lid there was a stack of hand written letters. Probably close to a thousand letters, some memory cubes, and voice discs. All had been marked with my mom’s handwriting - does not live here -. That fucking cunt.

We talked and talked for hours more. Elizabeth told me that dad tried to come by the house and see me several times in the beginning. Nobody would answer the door. That made something click in my mind. I told her that I remember this game we used to play where Jeff would tell me that there was bad men coming and no matter what I couldn’t answer the door. I could dig his bones up and kill him all over again.

Samuel is so smart, and strong. He is going to be a ladies man for sure. It is good to finally know that my father was able to make that effort. To never stop. I just wished I could’ve seen him one last time before he was killed.

- Wendy

Financing and Managing a webcomic called Geeks & Goblins.


"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most." -Ozzy
"Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded." - Sparky Polastri
"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I'm all out of bubblegum." - Frank Nada

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