And so the End Game begins.
Fitting that the "season finale" is a two part special, huh?
The remainder of the plan was relatively simple in theory. The idea was for Shona, Connor, and the others to climb a few flights of stairs to the first unoccupied level of offices. There they would make their way through the ordered rows of cubicles that the McKenzie drones worked in until they came to Sinclair’s private elevator. Since Angel had opened the secure locks, it would be a simple matter to get in the elevator, enter Sinclair’s office then retrieve the data they required and get out again.
So far everything had gone accordingly and, as the group opened the maintenance door four levels up and stepped out into the darkened level of cubicles without any alarms going off, it was starting to seem that things would actually go without a hitch.
Lewis found a nearby bank of light switches and flicked a couple on, providing enough illumination for the members of the group without optic enhancements to see where they were going.
Leading the others down a small aisle to a central junction among the desks, he turned left and indicated a bank of elevators that sat in the middle of a wall that formed another yet another t-junction.
‘The middle elevator will take us up to Sinclair’s office,’ he said.
‘Okay, let’s get this over with.’ Elina strode towards the awaiting doors.
The others followed her past darkened cubicles and arrived at the elevator doors.
‘Let’s hope Angel got the lock disabled,’ murmured Linford as Connor pushed the call button. The button turned green and was followed by the sound of an approaching elevator car.
While they waited, Shona surveyed the t-junction they were standing at. To the right was a door with signs indicating that toilets lay beyond. To the left lay a short corridor that disappeared around a left hand turn, presumably to more workspaces.
Linford frowned as he looked at a second elevator. He was sure he could hear a carriage moving in the shaft.
‘Um,’ he said to get the others’ attention. ‘I think there’s another elevator coming.’
The others looked at the second set of doors, Connor, Elina, and Shona all pulled out their flechette pistols.
‘Probably just somebody going home after putting in overtime,’ said Lewis.
It was possible, but the supposition didn’t put them at ease.
With a “ping” the doors slid open and the team were face-to-face with an armed group of four McKenzie security officers. The three men and one woman all held flechette pistols, wore armoured vests and were obviously doing rounds of some kind. There was a moment of unanimous surprise as both parties looked at each other. Then it registered with the guards that the maintenance crew they were looking at were holding guns. They brought their own weapons up and, realising that they had pretty much been caught with their pants down, Connor barked a simple instruction:
The others reacted instantly. Lewis, Linford, and Connor turned and ran to the left, sprinting towards the bend in the corridor. Shona and Elina broke off and ran to the right, bolting for the swing-doors that were marked as the toilets. As Connor and the two men ran for the turning, the Ronin span and fired a wild burst from his pistol in the direction of the armed security team. The flechettes sprayed wildly and impacted around the open elevator door just as the four guards were exiting to begin their pursuit. None of the micro-needles hit anyone but they caused the guards to step back in the lift car, giving Connor and the others a few precious seconds to make good their escape. The Ronin had no doubt in his mind that he could have taken the four guards as the doors had opened, but not before they had managed to fire at least a couple of shots in return, possibly killing one or more of the team. By splitting up they could divide the guards and hopefully get themselves in a better position to handle the encounter.
When the four guards finally stepped out from the cover of the elevator, Connor, Lewis, and Linford had disappeared around the bend in the corridor and Elina and Shona had made it into the restrooms. One of the guards activated his com system and sent a request for back up to the security centre. The call was promptly intercepted by Angel and she informed the security team that back up would be along shortly. Confident that help was on the way, the guards split up into pairs and began pursuit, two men heading down towards the bend in the corridor while the remaining man and the female guard made their way towards the toilets.
The trio of Connor, Lewis, and Linford dashed around the left-hand turn of the darkened corridor, the only illumination provided by the glowing front of a vending machine a short distance away. The Ronin saw his opportunity and sprinted past his two unarmed companions. He knew he only had a few seconds at best before the armed pursuers rounded the corner and opened fire. In the narrow confines of the corridor the clouds of flechette rounds wouldn’t need to be terribly accurate to hit at least one of them. He reached the vending machine and, with a single yank fuelled by enhanced strength, he pulled the drink dispenser away from the wall and down onto the floor. As the machine crashed down, its glowing plastic display-front cracked and the bulb inside shattered, plunging the corridor into darkness. Both Lewis and Linford saw Connor’s intent and leaped over the fallen vending machine just as the darkness descended. There were confused and desperate scrambling noises as they went to the floor and pressed themselves up against the cover of the dispenser. Connor crouched down between them a split second later. The Ronin activated his Low-Light function to give him a clear view of the corridor. Rapidly approaching footsteps echoed in the confined space Connor prepared himself as the guards approached.
‘Okay,’ gasped Linford between rapid breaths. ‘Now what?’
‘Now you stay down and let me do my job,’ replied Connor as he raised his pistol and aimed it at the turning ahead.
A second later the two male guards ran around the corner and Connor fired. The pistol spat a small cloud of lethal micro-needles that shot down the short expanse of dim corridor. Connor had aimed high and the rounds caught one of the guards square in the face, shredding the skin and bone and reducing his head to a pulped, bloody mess. He dropped instantly and his partner returned fire with a scream of surprise and anger.
Connor dropped the second he saw his target fall, hiding behind the cover of the toppled vending machine. He had no sooner ducked when the return fire came, the guard’s flechette rounds striking the machine with a sound like a hail storm bouncing off a tin roof. Lewis and Linford flinched at the furious impacts and covered their heads and faces as chunks of plastic began to rain down on them. A reflexive yell of fear escaped Linford’s lips as the fire from the guard continued for several sustained seconds. Lewis clenched silently, as if weathering the storm of flechettes, while Connor remained calm and silent, patiently awaited his opportunity.
Abruptly the torrent ended as the guard’s clip ran dry. Instantly, Connor sprang up and fired before the man at the end of the corridor could seek safety around the corner and reload. The burst of needles from the pistol struck the man just as he was starting to move back towards the cover of the bend. His left arm, neck, and part of his face were torn up by the fire and he screamed as he collapsed against the wall and slumped, leaving a bloody trail as he sank to the ground. He was dead a few seconds later.
Satisfied that the threat had been neutralised, Connor lowered his pistol.
‘Come on,’ he said to the men at his feet. ‘Let’s go and see how the others are doing.’
Somewhat dazed from the fire-fight, Lewis and Linford got up and negotiated their way over the perforated machine at their feet, following the Ronin towards the dim glow of the lit corridor around the corner. Linford couldn’t help but grimace at the carnage that Connor had left.
At the same time that Connor and the others had fled around the turn in the corridor towards the ill-fated drink dispenser, Shona and Elina burst through the swing door that led to the restrooms. Shona’s Low-Light enhancement kicked in automatically as she entered the darkness and she paused for a split second as Elina made a surprised sound at the sudden blackness. Shona grabbed the blonde’s wrist and pulled her past the first door on the left that was marked with the “Male” symbol and towards the door at the end of the short corridor that was marked with the “Female” symbol. She didn’t stop to think why she ignored the male toilet.
The door pushed open to reveal a second that led to the restroom proper. Pushing through it, Shona found herself in a fairly large, tiled room with four toilet cubicles, three sinks with a wall mirror, two paper-towel dispensers, and an electric hand dryer. After a second of getting her bearings she pushed Elina into a toilet cubicle and took position next to the exit door. The blonde fumbled in the dark and desperately tried to see what she was doing.
‘What-’ she started to say.
‘Quiet!’ hissed Shona in a harsh whisper. ‘Just stay there!’
A few more seconds ticked passed before the lights in the restroom flickered to life, causing Shona to blink as she hurriedly deactivated her optic enhancements to avoid being blinded by the sudden glare. The lights coming on indicated that the guards had entered the short, narrow space that housed the switch and separated the two doors. Now able to see, Elina took stock of her situation and crouched low in the cubicle, taking aim at the door they had come through. She could see movement through the semi-opaque glass panel that was in the door and, while she realised that Shona had backed them into a corner, she also saw that anyone coming through that door was effectively trapped in a bottle-neck. Shona saw that Elina had the door covered and pushed herself flat against the wall, positioning herself so that when the door swung inwards she would be behind it.
Tentatively, the door began to swing open and Elina could see the female guard was pushing it open with her left hand while she held her raised pistol in her right. The door got to half-way open when the guard spotted the crouching blonde woman. She gave an exclamation and aimed her gun. At that precise moment Shona came off the wall and kicked the door. Hard. It slammed back into the female guard causing her to cry out in surprise and misfire her weapon, the flechettes impacting with the wall of the enclosed space that separated the two restroom doors. Shona leaned over and pulled the door open wide, exposing both the female guard and her male companion that was standing just behind her in the cramped space. Elina saw her opportunity and opened fire, her continual bursts of deadly micro-needles filling the doorway and tearing into the stunned guard. The woman jerked as the rounds hit, shaking as if she had been struck by an electric current, the flechettes ripping into her unprotected legs, arms, and head; the material that covered her armoured vest was shredded, exposing the protective plates beneath. Literally torn to pieces by the thick cloud of needles, the woman fell to a bloody heap in the doorway just as Elina’s weapon clicked empty. The security guard at the back had been shielded from the lethal barrage and returned fire through the open doorway. The blonde crouching in the cubicle yelled as she threw herself onto the tiled floor of the toilet as the rounds tore into the side of the stall, perforating the thin material like needles ripping through tissue-paper.
Shona crouched behind the door she was still holding and stuck her gun into the doorway, firing blindly into the enclosed space. She heard a scream of surprise mingled with pain followed by a loud thud. After a second of silence she risked a tentative glace around the door and saw that her blind fire had went up at an elevated angle and effectively decapitated the man, his body flat against the second door with wide halo of gore splattered on its surface. Shona was hardened to such sights so she wasn’t particularly bothered by the carnage but she stared at her weapon in disbelief.
‘Jesus Christ,’ she murmured.
‘Yeah,’ said Elina as she stood up from the toilet floor. ‘Flechettes are pretty useless against hardened surfaces, no risk of them penetrating the station’s hull. It’s different when they’re used on skin.’
Shona regarded the mangled heaps that were the remains of the security guards. ‘No shit.’ She made a mental note to speak to Fish about these weapons upon her return to The City. ‘Come on, let’s go see what’s happened with the others.’
The two women picked their way through the remains then exited the restroom.
Just as the respective gun battles were resolving themselves on the fourth-floor administrative offices, the security guard on reception that had checked the contents of the bags decided that he would go and check on the maintenance team. Even though their passes had checked out, they had a legitimate work order for a scheduled job, and the contents of their backs had been okay, there had been something about the group that hadn’t sat right with the guard. It was no more than a niggling feeling at the back of his mind that something was odd about them. He informed his companion that he was going to see if they needed anything and that he’d be back in ten to fifteen minutes.
His partner had simply shrugged and thought that the guy was just looking to find an excuse to either break the boredom of manning the front desk or to go and check out the hot woman with the red hair.
The security guard made his way to the access door and descended the metal stairwell to the environmental systems level.
Jacob stood watch over Angel as she did her thing with the McKenzie terminal. He kept on expecting to witness what had happened to Mina and had observed the pink-haired girl for the last ten minutes with a sense of dread-filled anticipation. The pistol he had been given was held at his side. Through a combination of the loud, distracting background noise and the fact that he was afraid another gruesome death was about to unfold before his eyes, Jacob was completely oblivious when the door opened and the guard from upstairs entered the room.
The security guard was momentarily taken aback by what he saw. Expecting to see a maintenance crew hard at work on the various machines, the last thing he anticipated was to see one of them sitting in front of a terminal jacked into what looked like a Sphere Box while another of the crew stood by. With a gun. It only took a second to get over the surprise and he raised his own weapon. Following the recent heightened state of security due to an attempted data-fortress breach, all the security personnel had been instructed to be that little bit more trigger-happy than usual if encountering anything suspicious in the building. The scene before the guard more than qualified.
‘Hey!’ he shouted.
Jacob jumped in startled surprise at what seemed to be the sudden appearance of the guard. He swore to himself for not being vigilant and for getting caught unaware. He looked at the man in the doorway that was pointing a gun at him then glanced at the helpless girl that was plugged into the terminal. The security guard read his intention.
‘Don’t do it! Put the gun d-’ He was cut off as Jacob swung his pistol up. The dark-skinned man was, of course, too slow.
The guard fired his weapon. A burst of flechettes flew across the chamber and ripped into Jacob’s left chest and shoulder, shredding his overalls and spinning him. The guard watched as the intruder screamed and collapsed to the ground either unconscious or dead. Regardless, he figured the threat was removed and it was time to deal with the girl plugged into the terminal. Cautiously, and with his pistol raised, he approached the cross-legged woman.
Jacob’s breath came in ragged, blood-gurgling rasps as he lay on the cold, hard floor of the noisy chamber. He could feel his life pulsing out of him as his faltering heart pumped out his blood onto the ground. He knew he was dying. The wound from the flechettes had been catastrophic. Before his fading vision descended into oblivion, he watched as the guard approached the unsuspecting Angel.
Thinking that Jacob was already dead the guard paid him no heed, so he was unaware that the dying man had slowly raised his own gun, the last of his vanishing strength barely enough to hold the weapon up. With a final ragged breath he pulled the trigger. At practically point-blank range the burst of micro-needles from Jacob’s weapon all but vaporised the top half of the security guard’s torso, reducing his head and upper chest to a ragged cavity of bone and shredded flesh. The blast splattered the unaware Angel with blood and bits of viscera. For a moment the legs and remnants of the guard’s body remained standing before the lifeless corpse toppled into the pool of its own annihilated entrails.
Jacob let out a long exhalation as he succumbed to death; his final thought was an image of his missing son and he was convinced he could see the smiling young man standing before him as darkness finally claimed him.
TO BE CONTINUED…
The conclusion to this will be posted tomorrow with an epilogue put up on Saturday.
Thank you all for reading and for any comments.
Nov 8, 2012 10:09:35 amby KnightWolverine Homepage »
I now have yet another way of enjoying my morning coffee...With an imaginative story line with fly by the seat of your pants dialog....just doesn't get any better than this!..What I find interesting is that the way you write you need no image to help it along as while reading along one can visualize with ease because the wording is so descriptive....Your writing skills are addictive and I'll return to see what happens next!....(smiles)