“Handle with care”
Through the dark clouds, the ship shook from the wind and rain. Strands of water from the rain running along the cockpit glass, the outpost lights shined in the distance as we approached. No response on the comms, Valkyrie made several attempts to get hold of the outpost control but alas, the radio remained silent. Humming of the engines steady, I guided the ship down on one of the landing pads and attempted the same. Nothing, static with a muffled singing across it.
No, shut up, I muted the radio and pulled myself up from the chair. Whatever was behind that singing was nothing but bad news, I thought it had died on the carrier but you can never tell on an AI. Unfinished business, Valkyrie and Nine were on the same page about it, no hesitation in accepting the job.
Lock and load, Valkyrie kept her gear light and so did I, SMG and shotgun work well enough in the closed interior of the outpost. Rain hammering against the hull of the ship, I placed my hand on the ramp release handle and pulled it down. Wind pushing in from the gap as the ramp lowered, Nine took point and called out the all clear. After the four legged companion, go the mythical guardian, followed by someone born of fire, the landing pad was several meters above a dense forest, I guarded my vision with my hand as I followed Valkyrie and Nine towards the outpost entrance.
Carved into the side of the mountain, a wide bright led from the landing pad to the entrance of the outpost, the supports providing slight cover from the wind as we crossed.
Blast doors, large enough to fit the gunship, a control station to the left of them with no way to access it from the outside. So I thought…
“I have located an entrance.” Nine sat down next to a vent on the wall, too small for either of us humanoids to fit through, but his chassis would fit without an issue.
“Good dog.” I tapped Nines back and removed the vent cover. Like a glove, Nine made his way through the vents and appeared on the other side of the glass inside the control station. Push of a button, two massive pistons moved as the doors started to open up.
“This facility is running on auxiliary power modules. Many of the systems inside may be inactive.”
Dim lights, Valkyrie opened up a door leading to the control station and we regrouped with Nine. Ventilation running on fumes, the dust hovered up from the vents around as we made our way through the corridor. Several vehicles parked along the side, a logo with the letters “EXU” marked across several of them, the corridor became darker the further we got.
Pitch black now, I could hear my breathing through amidst the footsteps as the ventilation in the area had died with the lights, flashlights on the weapon rails aided with the black but left many spots out of view. Darkness hides many things, the scanner pulses against the walls sent small amounts of dust into the air.
Keep the heartbeat steady, 60, should work for now, we came to a second set of blast doors with a smaller access door on the left of them. Spin the handle and push the door open, every sounds echoing inside a large industrial room, one after another, we stepped through the doorway.
Ceiling far above, footsteps echoed, but they weren’t ours. Hold your ground, take a knee. Shotgun braced against my shoulder, a man, slumped over walked forward from the shadows, his skin pale and covered in red runes. Hear the singing, the man charged towards us with the runes trailing behind him, a shotgun shell to the leg knocked him over and another to head made sure he wasn’t getting up. No more head to speak off, this confirmed it.
She was here, who knows how, but she was here. Take a breath, load two shells into the shotgun and listen. More footsteps, growing rapid, the hornets’ nest awoken.
“We need to go, now. Before we get surrounded.”
“I’ve had enough of running away…” Orange glow in the eye, I took aim with the shotgun again. “I’m going through them.”
Moment to think, Valkyrie thought it through and sighed.
“If you’re staying, so am I.”
“I detect a rogue AI within this facility, it is drawing a large amount of power from the backup systems.”
“That’s our target, keep your flanks clear and shout if you need a hand.”
Fire across the arm, I felt it seep into the gun through my hands. One handed grip, the flames ran along the barrel beneath the heatsink as I felt the flickering kick back in. Candle can help you see, wildfire carries the same benefit.
plenty, Valkyrie prepared herself as the footsteps grew louder. Nine followed
the situation and chose his modules as the horde was almost upon us. More like a
wolf than your average dog, larger claws and sharper teeth, his eyes were
hidden behind a slit of yellow as he lowered his stance and growled.
Let them come.