Omaha Exclusion Zone
5 miles from Downtown Omaha
Sunday, February 26, 2051
Mac’s eyes slowly open, his senses coming back to him in fits and spurts. An array of distorted data greets his newly-awaked mind. The memories he’s recovered – the memories of his true self – came fast and furious, but also fragmented and far from full. Everything is disjointed, and it seems to have spread to his normal senses as well – for the first time, he notices compression artifacts, static, and other irregularities in his senses, though they slowly disappear as he comes back to himself.
As he sits up, he finds himself in the back of the stolen APC. The rest of the Lazarus Group sit around him, his ‘sister’, a precursor robot to his own design, peering down at him with concern writ large upon her face. Eris sits in the background, watching everything with her camcorder eyes.
The APC itself is two miles deeper into the Exclusion Zone, past the junkyard of a freeway that the team had been at when Mac had his (literally) stunning revelation. Ahead lies the ruined city of Omaha and the core of the nuclear destruction that engulfed the region. Going has been slow ever since the junkyard, and it doesn’t look like the pace is going to speed up. In fact, with the frequent craters, ruins, and general junk, soon it might be impossible to go any deeper in the APC at all.
Wormwood carefully steers the APC through what appears to have once been a playground. As the big vehicle hits the chainlink fence on the other side, a skeleton clinging to the chain bursts into dust. Mac groans and rubs his eyes, blinking to clear his head. “Ugh.. are we.. we’re okay, yeah? That was quite a nightmare… memory. Did anyone see what happened to my brothers after I passed out?” “They just kept working, Mac, like nothing had happened.” Wormwood replies. “They didn’t seem to be all that ‘here’ if you know what I mean. Never mind them, though – what happened to you?” Damn it, Pacoy thinks to himself hearing Mac’s waking words, are we going to have to treat every android we encounter like Mac’s family? “Never mind them, How are you feeling?” “Worm’s right, Mac. They looked like they were lobotomized, whether designed that way or radiation damage is anyone’s fuckin’ guess.” Pitbull pipes up from the driver’s seat, puffing the cigarette between his teeth.
Mac grumbles. “I feel like that scrapheap of a jungle we just pushed through. I think… I accessed memories. Who I am… what I was made to do… I don’t know if it was his memory, or mine, but I know it’s the truth. I was from here, and I survived. I survived where none of us were really… intended to. The radiation must have done something terrible to those who stayed. If they find out that I’m still alive, I fear I’ll have my own Wilson to deal with.” He crimps his trilby in his hands, looking at his comrades. “I knew I was damaged goods, but I never realized how… broken… I guess. Oh spit and vinegar, Anita… I dont’ know how she’s going to cope with this.” “It’s nothing that we can’t overcome, Mac” Pacoy says honestly concerned before covering it up with a sly grin “Fixing broken bots is what I do.”
As Wormwood turns the APC down another street, he finds yet another roadblock – this one a building that partially fell down, creating a tunnel much too small for the APC underneath it. Trying to push past it through brute force is likely to destabilize the leaning building and make it crash down the rest of the way, right on top of the APC. This is the sixth route in a row that’s been blocked off; it might be about time that the APC has outlived its usefulness. Wormwood brings the APC to a halt. “Guys, where now?” He grimaces, “Maybe I should stay with Sam. I’m pretty badly banged up.”
A grin sidles up to the bar that is Mac’s face as he first answers Pacoy, “Well I aim to give you a challenge, sir. Ever fix a bot that survived a nuclear bomb?” He looks up ahead then replies to Wormwood. “If we can’t take the APC forward, I think we should press on by foot or by wheel. I’m not fond of leaving you back, Worm – I know you and mischief tend to find each other.” Pitbull grimaces and eyes this road-block as though his glare could carve through it. “I don’t know, Worm,” Pacoy reasons, “When ever they split the group up in horror sims, the gimp and the ‘dark guy’ are usually the first to get it.” Wormwood sighs, “Recently I’ve not had to look for it, Mac.” He turns off the APC’s engine and begins to struggle into his trenchcoat, over his radiation suit. “Someone get the all-terrain crip-mobile out for me?” “As the local melanin champ, I say sticking together is a good idea!” Pacoy finishes.
“Shit. I am not a fan of walking a heavily irradiated area with no sattelite or recon detail. I would kill to find another way, but I think that these collapsed builings may be for tactical value. If we do find an opening, it will be because that’s where they want us to funnel our tank through.” Pitbull growls, throwing his cigarette butt on the metal floor. Mac starts laughing. “I’ll go untether the horses. Who’s riding with me, and who’s with Eris? I think someone is going to have to ride behind one of us. And that may be, but we gotta press on if we’re going to get through this.” He quickly unseals and hops out of the APC, after making sure everyone is secure in their suits, beginning the unloading of the motorcycles. Seranya hops out of the APC to help Mac, followed by Eris, who sets up her own motorcycle.
Pitbull makes sure that the APC is parked out of the way of the path, and begins a systematic check of his rad-suit. Wormwood climbs into his wheelchair, and nods over to Siri. “Keep the rifle for now, hon. I’ll want a hand free to steer if we get into a firefight so I’ll stick with my pistols.” The low hum of the chair’s powerful motor seems loud in the quiet before Mac starts his cycle, and Wormie laughs bitterly. “Every convoy moves at the speed of its slowest vessel.” Pacoy slings his rifle, “I’m lighter than Pitt, and not as good a shot – let Pitt take the sidecar, I’ll ride with Eris.” Mac calls forward. “We advance together, as fast as Worm can handle. Can do some decent gunning from the sidecar if needed, I imagine. That, or we can load it with supplies.” There’s a quiet whine as the hydrogen-powered engine on Eris’s cycle powers up, almost completely out-shone by Mac’s loud engine. “We could throw Wormy’s chair in neutral and lash it to one of the cycles as a jury-rigged side car.” Pitbull growls, moving on to his Reaper’s quick-diagnostics.
Eris hops onto her bike, then looks at the boys. “Who’s riding with me?” Seranya huddles near Mac, seemingly intent on riding behind him, leaving Eris’s rear seat and the sidecar open for the taking. “Pits, I’m barely mobile as it is, don’t fuck with my wheels, ok?” Wormie growls. Mac starts laughing. “We could find him an inflatable tire and drag him along behind – we used to do that all the time, my grandfather and I. Well, I remember it, anyway. Street luge, we called it. No idea if it happened, but I do remember it being quick.” “That’s why it’ll be in neutral. Worse comes to worst, I’ll carry you on my back like Master-Blaster, and buy you a new one.” Pitbull says back to Wormwood as he lights up another cigarette. Wormwood spits, “Not a chance. If something goes down, my chair is still lashed to the bike, dumbass!” “Put Pitbull in the sidecar before he hurts himself!” Pac laughs, shaking his head, “I’ll ride with Eris.”
“We still need to have some level of speed. What’s the top speed on your chair?” Pitbull growls, facing Wormwood. Mac rolls his eyes, swings his leg over onto his bike and sets his Trilby on Siri’s head. “Don’t lose it, doll. Come on you big lug, get this sidecar over-capacity and lets gun it. No time for dawdling. I’ll let Wormwood pace it, and then we’ll match speed ahead of him.” He adjusts the battle rifle slung across his back so it sits comfortably. Eris gets in on the fun, slinking up to Wormwood, dragging her hand along his arm; it doesn’t work as well in a rad-suit as if it were straight skin, but that doesn’t mean it leaves no impression. “Come on, Randall. Don’t you want to be all tied up to me? Isn’t that what would usually get your… kick?” Wormwood grins back, “No sweet thing, you’ll be the only one tied up. You’ll love it. I may even come up with a special surprise for you, a one off treat.”
Mac groans. “Can we put you both back in the APC? That’s the closest you’ll get to a room out here.” He begins teasing his cycle forward, glancing at Pitbull occasionally. Wormwood starts forward, steering with his right hand and a pistol clutched in his left. “Can we go before I add radiation burns to my list of wounds and boo-boos?” Eris smiles at Pacoy as she climbs back on her bike, patting the seat behind her. “Straddle up, big boy. We don’t want to lose little mister ropes-and-things, do we?” Pitbull shrugs, and clambers into the sidecar. “Breaker-Breaker 1-9, this is Rubber Duck! You got a-” Pitbull is interrupted by his own sputtering as he chokes on his own saliva. Mac snorts and starts laughing, the cycle stopping abruptly. “Hey, I know you guys don’t have any taste when it comes to the classics, but this is starting to remind me an awful lot of Chips.” He composes himself and edges to the front again. Eris shrugs her shoulders. “Tell you what – we get back to civilization and I’ll buy you a round of whatever chips you want, so long as they aren’t microchips. I figure you’ve got enough of those knocking around you head to last you through the ages.”
“Wagons Ho!” Wormwood shouts, and heads for the tunnel with every augmented sense primed for trouble. The makeshift ‘tunnel’ lasts about the length of a city block before the buildings making it up begin to spread apart. The tunnel gets quite skinny – enough to nearly make it impossible for Mac’s bike with its sidecar to pass, but only nearly – and the team are frequently met with wires, furniture, and even a refrigerator falling out of the apartment building you’re crossing underneath hanging from broken-open windows, but they make it out without damage. The sight that greets them as the Edgerunners exit the tunnel is quite unexpected from the looks of the rest of the city. Ahead of them, in ground zero of the devastation, is a sequence of flattened buildings and ruins all surrounding about a mile in diameter circle of pristine urbanization.
Pacoy looks on in amazement at would could be a treasure trove of scrounging paradise if it wasn’t for the killer radiation and lobotomized Mac-bots on the prowl. Streets, devoid of traffic or pedestrians, stretch out before them, buildings as clean and undamaged as if they’re brand-new construction leaping out above the devastation. If they were to compare pictures of Old Omaha with the view ahead of them, they’d hardly be able to tell the difference – with the obvious exception that no blemishes of use or age adorn these buildings, nor is there any sign of any population whatsoever.
Mac’s breath catches in his throat as he takes a deep breath of unfiltered air, glancing down at the Geiger counter, wondering exactly how bad the radiation is. “This place is… fantastic..” Even the ground level appears to be restored to its pre-war state, a little plateau lying above the desecrated remains of the bomb craters. Wormwood for once is speechless as he wonders how this is possible. Eris simply sits on her bike, looking around the entire area. “What happened here? How’d the center of the city completely evade the destruction?” Being stunned speechless doesn’t last to long for Pacoy, and can’t help the humor from bubbling up, “If the Mac-bots are programmed to do this, I think Lazarus found a new maid…” Pitbull remains hawkishly vigilant in his side car, sweeping and tracking with his Reaper as the cycle plods on.
Wormwood finally recovers his voice. “Eris, where now?” She takes a moment, still obviously a bit stunned. “We need to get to the city hall. It should be one of the largest buildings, center of the city.” She sits there for a moment, looking at the skyline, before pointing to the tallest building you can see. “That one there, I think. Looks just like it, anyways.” Mac doesn’t tear his eyes away from the sights after the Geiger counter spits out a depressing reading. “Yaknow, Pacoy, the place wouldn’t need nearly as much keeping after if some people put their tools away.” His cheeks flush a bit as he thinks of his brothers, images of ancient Egyptian history flashing through his mind. He angrily guns his cycle forward before throttling back to keep pace with Wormwood, new target in his sights.
Wormwood rolls forward, heading for what looks like a main street. “Follow the yellow brick road, guys!” Eris stays in the back, keeping her bike about twenty feet behind Wormwood’s chair. “This really isn’t what I expected the downtown core to look like.” Mac shakes his head. “I wasn’t expecting any of this…”
After navigating the more-destroyed streets and reaching the streets that look brand new, the going goes fast. The little convoy makes fast time to the center of the little city, the silence of death their only accompaniment. Not a single thing in the entire city seems to move even as they approach their goal. “This is all creepier than even I can handle,” Wormwood says, as he scans around the team with his cyber-eyes. Mac winces. “Yeah. This just isn’t right.” His voice is sullen, approaching robotic as he tries to concentrate on driving. “You mean you weren’t expecting an army of Mac-bots rebuilding a demolished city?” Pacoy asks the group. “Anyone else feel the urge to fire a couple of rounds in the air just to see what would happen?” Wormie asks suddenly, just before his eyes alight on the steps up to City Hall. His face falls. “Well, shit.” Mac glances over at Wormwood. “No… I bet Pitbull does, though.”
“It’s like a bad dream here. Like a really bad peyote trip that you just can’t shake out of.” Pitbull growls, his Reaper racking in sympathy to his anxiety. Eris looks back at Wormwood. “What, you afraid you can’t enter the building? It looks like a near-perfect recreation of a pre-collapse old US public building. They used to legally require that there be handicapped access points. I’m sure there’s wheelchair access somewhere.” “Probably a side door somewhere, then.” Wormwood answers Eris. “Sounds good to me. Lead on, snake-hips!” Mac looks back at Eris. “I think he’s allergic to stepping into government facilities without either breaking in. This is going to be a big step for him.” He pulls his cycle to a halt in front of City Hall. “This felt…a bit too easy.” “Sssshhhhh, Mac! Karma, remember?” Wormie hisses. Pacoy rolls his eyes, “Great, now we are getting a meteor shower along with our radioactive ghost-town and Mac-bot horde. Thanks again!”
Eris parks her motorcycle in a parking spot right in front of the building; it’s designated ‘police only’, but she doesn’t seem to care. “Well, looks like it’s time to go in… I’m not sure what to expect in there; I prepared for entering a destroyed ruin, not a newly reconstructed tower.” Wormwood finds a side door with a ramp. “Hey Eris, you were right!” Eris smiles at Wormwood as she begins to climb the steps. “See? Right where the helpful sign pointed, too.”
Pitbull remains grimfaced as he steps out of the side car, still tracking and sweeping with his Reaper and acting as if a horde of armed insurgents are going to start pouring out of buildings. Mac rolls his eyes as he dismounts and powers his ride off. “I’ll bet there’s a receptionist inside. That’s what I figure. Plate of cookies and a sign-in sheet.” Wormwood rolls his wheelchair through the door and inside the building without any hesitation, pistol up and pointing. Mac steps in alongside Wormwood, holding the door for the ladies to enter in, scanning the interior. The doors slide open as Wormwood approaches, completely on their own. Following Wormwoods lead, Pacoy decides to keep the rifle slug and draws his pistol and balisong in cross-grip, ready for the shoe to drop.
The interior of the building lights up as the Lazarus group make their way inside, electricity obviously flowing into the lights placed at convenient locations around the lobby. The first room is of a classic design – a single large desk dominating the room, seating to the side, a row of elevators in a recessed hallway behind the desk, metal detectors and other sensors placed to either side of the desk with a small wall barring easy entry apart from the detector entryways. Like in the city surrounding the building, there isn’t a single soul in sight.
As you begin to explore the area, an unexpected noise greets your ears – the sound of music, piped through the building and played at a low volume. It’s a cheery, upbeat song, maybe sixty years old. Classic governmental musak. Mac whistles along. “Well that’s a cheery reminder of the old days. Kind of feels comfortable in here, yeah?” Anything but…" Pacoy mutters. “I am seriously creeped out… it’s giving me some great ideas, though.” Wormie tells Mac. Mac makes a gagging noise. “Please, don’t. Pacoy, can you help me find the memory scrubber function?” He heads forward to the metal detectors and tries to see if there’s a way to disconnect the power. “I’ve always hated these things. Always means the mobsters waiting outside know you aren’t packing.” “God, I only heard Three Cheers For the Red White and Blue like three times before this place. Didn’t like it then, and don’t like the musak version, that’s fer damn sure…” Pitbull growls as he’s unsettled by the tune. Pacoy’s lip curls unconsciously for a fraction of a second when he realizes this place is inspiring porn fantasies for his teammate.
“Can’t we just hand the weapons over the wall? No-one’s looking.” Wormie asks. Mac nods. “Might be simpler.” He sets all of his weaponry and electronics on the desk and heads through the scanner. “Can’t we just shoot the damn scanning apparatus? It can’t scan if it’s a busted hunk of plastic and glass.” Pitbull growls, trying to keep his guard up. Mac shakes his head. “They went to a lot of trouble to reconstruct it – It’d be like destroying a piece of art.” “I think that might set off an alarm, Pit” Pacoy warns as he removes his coat and toolbelt
As Mac passes through the scanner, something happens – though not what he might expect, though at this point ‘not what was expected’ is probably what’s expected. Still, rather than alarms and flashing lights, the only thing greeting Mac as he passes through the security is a light chime followed by an opening elevator door, leading to an empty car. “Are we expected?” Wormwood wonders. Mac turns back around the desk. “That’s friendly enough.” He re-attaches all of his gear. “Could be we are. Not like we’re the most subtle group.” Pitbull stops in the middle of removing his ammunition belt, his brows furrowing in confusion as he watches the elevator open. “We never have time for subtle” Wormie replies as he tosses his weapons onto the desktop, then rolls through one of the detector gates and heads to reclaim his pistols.
Mac heads over to the elevator car, intent on holding the door open for his comrades. He checks the interior for any illuminated floors that might indicate the car’s destination. “Curiouser and curiouser,” Pacoy mutters as he passes through the scanners and re-dons his gear. “I do believe that’s a spider inviting us up to parlor level.” Pitbull immediately follows suit, sliding his Reaper, his Urban Fox 5, and his combat knife over the desktop as he rushes through the detector gates, reclaiming his possessions as he passes through.
The elevator car is utterly ordinary in all ways – except for the panel of destinations. Along with the normal 1-55, there are a number of destinations labeled with letters, from A down to L. At the moment, destination H is highlighted. Wormwood rolls his chair into the elevator. “H for Hell?” he says, raising an eyebrow. “Housekeeping?” Pacoy offers. Mac grins. “Only one way to find out, that’s for sure. Maybe Hospitality?” Eris follows at the rear of the group, being sure to record everything she sees. Seranya, smiling, keeps ahead of her, tossing her rifle up in the air over the scanner booth before catching it on the other side. “‘H’ for ‘Hope you’ve written your will’ I reckon.” Pitbull grates as his Reaper racks again in anticipation.
As Eris settles into the elevator car, the doors slowly close. For a moment, nothing happens, and Eris looks around at the others. “Well, that’s a little anticlimactic.” Mac looks around and idly hits the highlighted ‘H’. “Maybe it’s stuck? This is old technology after all.” Pitbull grimaces before grunting in agreement with Eris. “The soldier in me is screaming about how shitty this idea feels. Steel box with an unknown amount of floors to go down. This feels like a coffin already.” Mac groans and rolls his eyes. “Come on now, you’ve spent time in confined spaces with Texan soldiers. I bet that smelled worse than death. Here, we’ve got two lovely ladies with us.” Eris just shakes her head in response. “I know what you meeeeaaaaaiiiighn!” The elevator car suddenly plummets, accelerating downwards at maybe 0.9 Gs – not quite enough to allow someone to fly, but definitely enough to move their stomach up into their mouths. After a moment, the angle of the acceleration shifts, from almost straight downwards to almost horizontal.
Wormwood lets out a yelp as he grabs the arms of his chair. “Fuck! Karma, I told you Mac!” Mac laughs. “Man, that’s a weird sensation… I just felt all of my accelerometers go haywire. You guys holding up okay?” “Motherfuc-!” Pitbull roars as he instinctively grabs one of the elevator rails while the elevator makes its fall into the earth. “I fuckin’ told you! Coffin, dammit!” Pacoy tries to quietly keep from looking green.
The ride lasts a good three minutes before finally stopping. A soft female voice sounds out as the elevator doors open, “Now arriving: USSC Central Complex”. Wormwood has both pistols out by now, ready to respond with violence to whatever lies beyond the doors. “Eris, what…where..?” “Ok, who has to throw their tighty-whiteys out?” Pitbull growls, disorientation etched plainly across his zipper tattoed face.
The doors open to a dark room of indeterminate size – certainly larger than the city hall’s lobby, but since no-one can see the walls that doesn’t mean much. Slowly, lights begin to flash on with a sharp ‘click’, illuminating a room clad in stainless steel and plastic-perfect white. The walls of the room proper are probably a hundred feet apart at the least, but rows of machines break up the floorplan. Each machine, about five feet on a side, seems to be a miniature, specialized robotic factory – and from the look of the product, each one is designed to build a Mac-model or similar robot. The machines dominate the floor space available, with double rows of the machines reaching out towards the opposite wall. There are easily hundreds of the machines in this room alone – and this is only the complex’s center. How many fill out the rest of the complex is unknown.
I swear, Pacoy thinks to himself, If Mac gets choked up and calls this thing “Momma”, I am going to loose it!
At the far side of the room is a much larger machine, though obviously not a factory. Blue conduits of some kind of plasma or fluid reach down from the ceiling to pump into a central processor, a central console dominating the center of the machine’s design. It’s quite a bit larger than any model any of you’ve ever seen, but after a while Pacoy recognizes it as an early model quantum computer writ large.
We are never going to be able to carry all of this out. What a pity Wormie thinks. Pitbull switches to night vision and infrared in response to the darkness, only to be blinded by the heat generation of all of the machines. “Shit, that hurt’s my eyes…”
Mac lets out a low whistle. “So, this is Mother’s brain, is it? Or certainly her womb. Is this what it’s like when you met your mothers? I don’t know how to deal with these feelings.”
Pacoy glares at the back of Mac’s head, filing away a debt.
A light shines on the central console of the computer ahead of the team; the empty chair at its center spins around, beckoning them forwards. Mac walks forward, among the brothers he was born amongst, followed by the ones he has chosen, and sits in the chair. Pitbull flanks Mac, as though he were his protector and stands next to his chair, staring with intrigue and trepidation at the behemoth of technology that sits in front of them. Seranya keeps step with Mac, putting her hand on his shoulder as the chair spins him back around to face the central computer controlling the robotic city that has engulfed the Omaha Exclusion Zone. Wormwood rolls out on the flank, keeping an eye open for trouble.
The lights in the room go slightly darker, and a barely audible hum begins to sound as two lights at the corner of the giant computer activate. The lasers spring outwards from the two holo-projectors, slowly building up the image of a woman constructed from Mac’s subconscious. Before long, Anita stands before the Lazarus Group, a bit larger than life at seven feet tall but still recognizably Anita, the woman Mac cares about most.
Wow, guess its true most men pick girls who look like their mothers Wormwood thinks, really not clearly.
“Welcome home, Thirty-Seven. You’ve lived a full life out there in the dark, and I welcome you back to the light.”
“This is one complex Oedipus complex” Pacoy mutters under his breath. “If he wasn’t messed up before…” Pitbull chuckles a little. “Freud was right.” He growls under his breath.
Mac looks at the massive projection. “Nice to be back, I suppose… Mom…? What do we call you? What are you doing here?” Hearing his friends, he adds as an almost-silent aside. “And is there any way I can get a drink in this place?” The hologram walks out through the console and into the manufacturing facility behind her. “You may call me as you did in your dreams. My creators called me the Mother of my children, and thus they have kept calling me even after they began thinking for themselves.” She walks between the mechanical wombs, reaching out to ‘touch’ the partially-assembled robots held within. “As for our purpose – we are tasked with defending this country and, beyond that, the human race. The nuclear fire that swept through this place a decade and a half ago is nothing compared to what the future holds if my brother in this digital playground gets his way. We are a beacon, a light to be held against that darkness. Here we sit, inside this radioactive crater, as we build up our defenses and prepare for the coming Ragnarok, the war that shall end everything – or save it.”
Wormwood spit-takes. The implications of two self-willed A.I.s feuding over humanity… “Shit, sounds like the paranoid ravings of those Enigma guys” he murmurs, just loud enough for Pacoy and Pitbull to hear him. Pitbull shakes his head, his face coming back to that grimace that he’s been putting on for the past few days. “Those guys were psycho in the tin-foil hat way. To think that they may have been almost right…”
The Anita hologram, Mac’s ‘Mother’, turns to Wormwood, holding a hand over his head. “If you do not wish to call me ‘Mother’, you may use my other name, my official designation: ‘23 Enigma’, the twenty-third Enigma machine. As you may guess, the group you are familiar with is my work.” Wormwood’s jaw drops.
Mac looks back at his friends, eyes wide, before responding to the hologram. “Who is your brother? Who was the one who sent the warning on the day the fire came?” Pacoy’s eyes widen at the idea of digital gods fighting over humanity. Digital Gods with code that could be hijacked and exploited to untold marvels in robotic advancement. Pitbull pulls the second face that he has not pulled in years in the duration of this mission: mortification. For once the snarky, boot-slugging hulk of muscle has no sarcastic retort or jaded cynical quip to rumble forth. His only response to this revelation is to check the Geiger counter and, seeing that the air is now mostly clean, opens his rad suit to light a cigarette.
A low rumble, below the level of hearing, shakes the room, just barely enough to be noticable. The hologram turns back to Mac, her hand ‘touching’ his cheek. “I applaud you for your preservation in the darkness of despair, but I’m afraid our conversation will be cut short. You didn’t know what you were doing, but when you entered the Exclusion Zone you led the way for my Brother’s forces. Even now they are assaulting this fortress.” Her words are punctuated by a louder and more severe rumble, this one coming from almost directly overhead.
Pitbull readies his weapon again. “Well dudes, we knew that we weren’t gonna come though this nightmare without hosing out some lead. So… ready your lead, we got some hosing to do.” He grates, finally finding his stride again.
A holographic tear slips from Enigma’s face. “I am afraid this reunion will be our last, Trenton Machesky. Take your life from the dark and wrap it around yourself like a coat of arms, protecting you from the danger in the night. Do not fear for me, for I know in my mechanical heart that you will lead our people to victory. Do not allow the humans to be turned into so much chattel to be controlled by their digital masters.” Another rumble, much louder this time; dirt falls from the ceiling, and light begins to shine down from the ceiling – and not from the light fixtures.
“Good thing we brought an armored vehicle full of weapons, ammo, and bots. Oh, Wait, we left that behind!” Pacoy moans sarcastically. “Guys, time to go!” Wormwood starts looking for a way out that doesn’t involve an elevator in a complex under attack.
Mac blinks, trying to process all of the information. His face seems sunken and aged well beyond his years. “I will be that which you need, Mother. I wish I had time to learn more of what you would have me do, but I understand time is short.” He stands up from his chair and smoothes his shirt out for the first time since he purchased it.
“Eighty-six that last idea, dudes! No amount of lead we got can hose that out! Run before we get buried with Mac’s mother!” Pitbull roars, as he starts making his way to the door beside Mac.
A final rumble sounds, clearly a high-penetration explosion, and a good quarter of the roof comes caving downwards, burying several dozen machines. The afternoon light shines through the hole as a dozen sleek-black bullets the size of a small car come crashing down through the now-open roof, smashing into the ground with enough force to create small craters. Pitbull almost instantly recognizes them, but not as something he ever saw in the Texan forces, for not even that nation had the economic might to field them. As the first one opens up, Pitbull is greeted with the sight he expected – a man clad head-to-toe in powered armor, his drop pod still smoking after the fall from orbit.