16:45 June 19th, 2049
Hudson Arco Complex, Sector 23
“We're approaching the rendezvous point, you ready Sarah?” Jared called over his shoulder as he swooped the Tank down towards the roof of the Westgate Arcology.
Sarah stood at the Tank's side door, clipping on a safety harness. “Just about,” she said into the headset microphone. She slapped the release button and the door slid open, the wind buffeting the interior the craft. On the rapidly approaching roof she could just make out a figure in dark grey camo's similar to hers, hunched by a graffiti strewn ventilation grill. It was Kai, waiting for them at the usual rendezvous point. Sarah focused on the figure and held the microphone to her mouth. “I've got visual, keep her steady Jared. I don't want Kai materialising upside down again.” As the Tank streaked over Kai she held out her hand and pointed at him. He was enveloped in a white light and vanished only to reappear at the back of the Tank's cabin. She closed the door while Talbot gave Jared the go ahead to continue on to the Hudson Arco Complex.
Tommy's digital form coalesced next to a chandelier-like structure of blue light. It represented one of the many cell towers in quadrant three that served the residents of the Hudson Arco Complex. In the distance, he could see the glow of the rest clearly against the inky blackness. Flashes of blue light connected them while others raced out into the ether. Each mote of light represented a communication packet or computer instruction. Tommy was never sure whether this was what communication networks really looked like from the inside or whether this was simply how his mind decided to interpret the sensory information he received while in digital form. Either way, he thought it was beautiful, a universe of stars and fireworks that only he could perceive.
He watched the pattern of lights inside the structure for a few seconds, studying the flow of data through the cell tower's system. Then, carefully, he reached between the threads of light and grasped the core of the system's programming. Squeezing hard, he restricted and blocked the flow of data through the core, overwhelming its programming and security software. Almost as if he were throttling the life out of it. The light within spluttered and died leaving only a few flickering embers.
Now for the tricky part. Tommy reached within his pocket and pulled out a glowing red spark. He gently placed the spark on the now dark core and pressed down on it, pushing it deep into the system. Finally he leaned forwards and breathed gently on it. Slowly, a red glow spread throughout the core and into the matrix of data conduits around it. Soon he was standing in front of a red version of the blue structure that had been present before. He shielded his eyes in preparation for the next move. With a mental command, he instructed the cell tower to transmit the new system software to the other cell towers in quadrant three. It complied instantly and several jagged bolts of red lightning lashed out and struck the other towers which soon took on the same red hue. Once all the towers were infected, instead of relaying the motes of light they began to repeatedly emit a bright red flash that swept outwards extinguishing all the other lights. “That should hold for a couple of hours,” he thought to himself. His work done, Tommy closed his eyes and shifted back to the real world.
Kai buckled himself and looked around the cabin. “Isn't the new kid coming along?”
Talbot loaded a clip into an assault rifle before responding. “No, he's staying behind.”
Kai looked surprised at this. “Huh? If I was him no force on Earth could stop...” he stopped mid sentence and looked at Talbot as he suddenly realised the situation. “Jesus Talbot, you didn't tell him did you? You didn't tell him who the targets were.”
“I felt it best that for the time being that he not know. It'd only worry him unduly.”
“The kid has a right to know that ...” Kai began before he was interrupted by Talbot.
“The last thing I need is an emotionally unstable teenager panicking and screwing this mission up.”
Tommy reappeared back in his seat. “All the cell towers in quadrant three are now emitting a broad spectrum jamming field which should render all communication devices in the area unusable. It should also play havoc with sat scan as well.”
Talbot nodded at Tommy before turning back to Kai, his voice slightly softer. “Besides, he still needs to process what's already happened to him. At the end of the day, BetaForce does not put minors in combat situations unless we are sure they can handle it.” He glanced at Tommy who was busy checking his equipment before continuing. “Unlike the Unity, we don't like training children to be soldiers.”
“ETA 30 seconds,” stated Jared from the cockpit as they banked left and descended until they were flying down an artificial canyon formed by skyscrapers. Their target, the massive Hudson Arco Complex stood directly ahead. Its five arcology towers standing tall, their upper stories hidden by the low cloud.
Travis was whistling when he shoved the last of the prisoners, a little girl, into the van. The operation had gone off without a hitch. Although the father had managed to get a lucky hit in before he was stunned. For his troubles he had earned a nasty head wound and a concussion. Travis had particularly enjoyed administering the post stun beating.
The squad's three vehicles, a prisoner transport van and two escort vehicles were parked in the sky garage on the 50th floor of the tower, a quarter of the way up. Surrounding the convoy was a detachment of police officers from the local Sector PD. None of them looked happy to be there as there was little love lost between the two forces. The chronically underfunded Sector PD are responsible for law enforcement, keeping the peace and providing a public service. On the other hand the UniCops solely concerned themselves with enforcing the authority of the Unity, frequently breaking the law themselves in the pursuit of their duty. Something which Sector PD can do nothing about and causes much resentment towards the UniCops on the part of Sector PD officers.
Travis and the other UniCops ignored the police officers as they congratulated themselves. Suddenly, a squeal of static caused UniCop and sector cop alike to clutch their earpieces. The commander of the UniCops tried in vain to get in touch with central but received nothing but static in response. “Let's pack up and move out boys. Comms are down which probably means trouble's coming.” The commander got into the lead escort vehicle with one of the UniCops, two others into the rear escort, while Travis rode in back of the prisoner van with the remaining two UniCops in the front.
As Sector PD began to quietly disperse the crowd of onlookers, heavy metal grates began to lower across the vehicle access ways preventing exit to the outside. The UniCop from the lead escort vehicle hopped out and jogged over to a control box beside the entrance in front of the convoy. After inspecting the panel inside he turned and called out to the commander. “It's no good sir, the manual override has been overridden. Someone has taken control of the system and locked us out.”
The commander's response was drowned out as the Tank rose up behind UniCop at the grate, its autocannon spraying bullets through the grate and tearing into the UniCop's body. The bullets continued onwards, ricocheting off the armour of the lead escort vehicle causing the UniCop commander to duck. Using the gun fire as a cover, Sarah teleported Kai and Talbot behind some skycars to the side of the prisoner van and the rear escort. Talbot disengaged the safety on his assault rifle, selected burst fire mode and turned to Kai. Kai nodded, confirming he was ready and both of them simultaneously popped out from behind cover and took aim.
Drawing his hands back as if getting ready to pitch a baseball, Kai touched the seal he had drawn on his hands with a marker pen and uttered a word in a long forgotten language. The word activated the seal's magic and a ball of electricity formed which with a grunt he hurled forwards at the UniCop in the passenger side of the prisoner transport. A bolt of lightning arced between him and his target which took the full brunt of the strike. The UniCop howled in pain as several million volts of electricity coursed through his nervous system. Talbot ducked as gun fire from the UniCops in the rear escort vehicle peppered the skycar he was crouching behind.
As the Tank's bullets sprayed the lead escort vehicle, shattering the front windscreen, the commander sheltered in the foot well. Cursing his bad luck, he clambered over to the passenger side where the weapons console was located. He armed a missile and launched it at the enemy craft ahead of him. The missile leapt out of the launcher and streaked across the garage towards the Tank on the far side of the grate. Inside the Tank, alarms screamed their warning as Jared swore as he saw the incoming missile. “Hang on Sarah,” he yelled as he threw the Tank into a deep spiralling dive. The missile tore through the security grate leaving a gaping hole and sending jagged pieces of metal tumbling to the ground some 180 meters below.
Sarah unbuckled her harness and opened the side door. “The other's might need me!” With that she leapt out of the door and into the air. As she fell silvery ethereal wings, glowing with a soft light, formed behind her.
As Jared watched her soar back up to the garage level, he sighed. “I hate it when she does that ... but boy does she look good when she does.”
By the emergency stairwells, the last of the civilians were being evacuated by the sector police officers. One of the officers turned at looked back towards the combat.
“Sarge, shouldn't we go back and help?”
“No,” the sergeant in charge of the detachment responded as he pulled the young recruit into the stairwell, “let the Uni's take care of themselves.”
Seeing the missile tear the security gate apart, the commander sat up and leant out the side window. Looking back towards the other vehicles he surveyed the scene. The sound of static attracted his attention and he turned back round. He was shocked to see a youth in grey camo's sitting in the passenger seat. Tommy slammed his left elbow into the commanders chest causing him to double over. He followed this off with a savage blow to the side of the head with his right fist which was wearing a knuckle duster. The commander fell forward unconscious.
Meanwhile the other two vehicles had fired up their thrusters and begun to hover. The rear escort vehicle rotated on the spot to bring its weapons in line with Kai and Talbot. The pilot of the prisoner van, after seeing his partner literally cooked alive, was panicking and moving the van around the front escort towards the opening.
Laser target designators painted Kai and Talbot as the escort vehicle brought its weapon systems online. “Tommy, pulse the garage NOW!” screamed Kai as he saw Tommy jump out of the lead escort.
Tommy closed his eyes and focused his concentration. With a howl, he flooded the control systems of the three UniCop vehicles with enough electromagnetic energy to fry their circuits. Tommy collapsed to the floor panting, covered in sweat and bleeding slighty from the nose. Generating an EMP was incredibly painful and consequently he didn't do it very often, but when he did the effects on the enemy could be catastrophic.
The anti-aircraft missile streaked after the Tank as Jared threw the vehicle through a series of reckless evasive manoeuvres. He nearly collided with a hover bike almost knocking its young rider off. Concerned for the safety of other motorists, he pulled the Tank away from the traffic lanes and up into the sky. The missile was getting closer and the digital range counter was rapidly approaching zero when he spotted the break he had been looking for. With the lock on warning tone nearly a continuous screech he headed for the cluster of communications antennas on top of one of the Hudson arcology towers. Jared jinked and threaded the Tank between the antennas clipping one or two on the way. The missile however couldn't keep up and smashed into one of the relays and exploded in a massive ball of flame.
“Whew,” Jared smirked, “that was close.” As he brought the Tank around his eyes widened in realisation. “Wait, wasn't that...”
The engines on the UniCop vehicles spluttered and cut out as their control systems died. With a shower of sparks the prisoner transport fell to the garage floor and scraped to a halt and the rear escort fell unceremoniously to the floor with a bone jarring crunch.
Talbot exchanged fire with one of the UniCops in the escort vehicle, rounds spraying in both directions. Kai reached into one of the pockets on his tactical vest. He pulled out a white golf ball that had a series of runes drawn on it in black ink. From another pocket he pulled out a slingshot. Placing the ball delicately in the slingshot's pocket he took a deep breath and in one fluid motion, popped up from behind the skycar, fired the projectile at the escort vehicle and ducked back down again.
As the ball left the slingshot it became enveloped in a veil of green energy leaving a trail of sparks behind it as it flew through the air, its runes clearly visible burning with a fierce green light. On impact the ball erupted into a green explosion which left retina burns in the eyes of anyone looking directly at it. One of the UniCops, the driver, howled and clutched his eyes. Dropping his weapon on the outside of the vehicle.
Talbot turned and looked at Kai who was grinning and loading another ball. “Does your cousin know you're borrowing his slingshot?” Kai just laughed and prepared to fire again. “And are those MY golf balls your enchanting?”
Sarah landed at the hole in the grate and dismissed her wings. She ran past the escort vehicle towards the back of the prisoner transport. When she got there she found Tommy repeatedly pounding on the door. “Door's locked from the inside,” he explained frustratedly, “and I already fried the frigging electronic lock!”
“Echo One should have some C4,” Sarah suggested using Talbot's codename now that they were on mission, “we could blow the door lock.”
“No good,” Tommy began, “the Aerodyne AV5 Prisoner Transport Craft used by the Unity has a titanium-carbon fibre pseudo-alloy fuselage. A charge powerful enough to pierce its armour will SARAH BEHIND YOU!”
Sarah span round as Tommy called out his warning to see a UniCop standing behind her pointing a gun at point-blank range at her head. Tommy cursed, how could he have forgotten about the prisoner transports driver, as he tried to pull Sarah out of the line of fire.
Before any of them could react a hover bike flew in through the hole in the grate and round the side of the lead escort and prisoner transport. A helmet held outstretched smashed into the head of the UniCop as the bike shot past the three of them at maximum speed. There was a loud crack and the UniCop collapsed to the floor like a puppet with its strings cut. The young rider of the bike jumped off the vehicle and ran over to Sarah and Tommy.
The two of them were a little stunned by what had just happened. Tommy was the first to snap to when he recognised the person running towards them. “Toby, what the hell are you doing here?” The younger boy didn't answer, he just glared at Tommy.
Inside the back of the van, officer Travis was now getting very worried indeed. First comms had gone down leaving him unable to contact any of his fellow UniCops, then gunfire and explosions had erupted outside. The lights in he back had died at the same time as the engines and the inside of the van was only lit by his helmet light. Then someone had started pounding on the doors. Taking advantage of the distraction the father, still with his hands bound behind his back, shoulder barged Travis. The man merely bounced off Travis's armour. Travis punched the man in the chest, drew his sidearm and shot the man in the leg. He went down, hissing in pain through gritted teeth.
Travis grabbed the little girl by her hair and lifted her off the floor. She screamed as she dangled and her mother moved to get up. “One more move and I cut the brats head off!” He threatened, putting a knife to her throat. A terrific wrenching sound made him turn as the armoured doors of the van were torn of their hinges and thrown across the garage smashing into a pillar. Before Travis could act a combat knife, standard UniCop issue, hurled into his right shoulder burying itself up to its hilt. He dropped the little girl, who scrambled back to her parents, and his own knife as he clutched at the wound. His attacker, whom he recognised as the young mutant that had escaped him earlier that day, climbed into the back of the van. Blood was dripping from cuts on Toby's palms where he had torn at the metal and his entire body shook with rage
“GET AWAY FROM MY LITTLE SISTER!”
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