Carathumpian of Tethys

Bound in Shadow

Episode 7 & 8

"Knowing your advantages does you no good
if your enemy is able to keep you from employing them."

John hissed "That stings!" he rolled his shoulder and made to move away.
"Hold still and stop being such a pussy, John" Liam mumbled as he finished up his work "The reason it stings is because your shoulder is filled with dust, gravel, and shrapnel that needs to  be removed and cleaned before I cover it up, there you go."
He slapped on the final patch and rubbed it in place to make sure the seal was tight.
John grimaced.

Red came strolling down the stairs about the same time as Jac arrived up the stairs from the streets. "Yo" he nodded at the hacker as the four of them gathered round.
"Street rats and scavengers most likely" he said "but at least they had some firepower for us to take" he displayed the two rifles he had liberated from his quarry, they weren't much too look at really.
Liam wrinkled his nose at them "what make is this? it looks like trash."
"Most likely recycled factory defects that have been repurposed and fixed up by a mechanic, I've seen the style before – they're all over the belt in the slums." Jac explained to the rest of the group as he grabbed one for a closer look
"They'll probably fire all rights, just don't expect them to come with holosights and recoil stabilizers boys."

"You keep that, I'll take this one" Red hefted the rifle and checked the sights "This is just like training: crap equipment, crap environment, and unclear orders." He grinned at the others, "Where do you want me John?"
The tall belter flipped his visor down and consulted the controls on his arm for a while "Let's avoid any more ambushes from slumlords and hopeful scavengers, get up high and follow us – that's your specialty anyway, right?"
Red started walking up the stairs again "Sure is, I think I saw the remains of a tower on the top of this building, I'll set up near there." he switched to comms as he turned the corner "If the rest of the guys you saw try to come sneaking, I'll stop them in their tracks."

Good, blow of some of that steam.
Happy hunting, brother

John watched him go, before turning back to the others.
"let's go have a look at that anchor."

 


 

The old facility was ringed by a tall concrete wall, several meters i height, rough and gray it loomed over them.
Liam and John were keeping lookout as Jac worked on the lock.
"How we're doing there Doc?" Liams voice was hushed, and a bit annoyed "You think it'll take long enough for me to go back home for the flashlight I forgot?"
"Despite whatever scientific studies I'm sure you base you hypothese on, It has not been proved that anything is improved by nagging, Dancar" The engineer spat over his shoulder.
Liam kept watching the streets around them, after a while he mumbled "That's not how you pronounce it …"

"Enough, Liam is right: this is taking too long." John holstered his sidearm
"Ready to give me a boost 'L'?" He backed off some meters to get a running start.
Meanwhile Liam holstered his gun and locked his hands in front of him as he leaned against the wall. "Ready!"
John ran at him, as he stepped onto Liam's locked fingers the medic activated the servos in his armor and hoisted him up over his head.  John jumped.
Jac watched as the giant almost cleared the wall and gripped onto the top, John  turned around and dangled down his arm. "You're next Doc."
"Why me?" Jac looked up at the wall.

"Because it will take two of us to haul 'L's fat ass up" John retorted.
"Hey, I'm not fat!" Liam protested.
"But your armor is, now get a move on boys!" John waved Doc in motion, the engineer secured his gear before starting his run.


This is not going to be pretty

 


The whirr of servos and heavy steps came at them as the security robot rounded the corner in the courtyard. "Damn, a 'bot'" Liam unholstered his gun, to his right John was already fading from sight as he hugged the wall of the nearby building.

Doc procured his personal computer and begun tapping away "I got this, just give me some seconds and I'll shut him down!" Liam didn't have time to answer before the robot opened fire at them, he threw himself against the wall as bullets splintered and cracked the concrete around him, dust starting filling the air.
He could see Doc diving for cover, trying to shield his laptop from the fall as he kept typing away. John was gone.

Liam turned around the corner and opened fire at the humanoid tin can, his bullets glanced off its armor as blue lightning arced from its arm to the prone hacker at it's feet.
Doc screamed and spasmed before curling up in a ball, steam was rising from him.
"Hey asshole, pick on somebody your own size!" Liam shouted as he fired more bullets at the metal monstrosity.
The robot turned towards him, Liam looked around: Doc was down, John was gone and Red was far away.

Shit, that's me!

The whole world turned white for a second  as he turned to run, suddenly his legs were heavier and he had trouble seeing straight. "Gah!  … it'll take more … than" He wobbled a couple more meters before turning back to see the robot come around the corner, both hands pointed at him with electricity crackling from them.
He threw himself away from the wall as it opened fire, but didn't react fast enough, again the whole world turned white. As vision returned he felt like he was under water – sounds were small and far away and there was two of everything.

Great, now I'm seeing double as well

Behind the robot he could make out the blurry form of John firing at it as he ran toward the truck parked next to the building. The bullets barely dented the metal plates on the robot as it turned around and fired a beam of white blue energy at John.
The former void ranger was lifted off his feet and thrown into the wall like a ragdoll, he landed in a crumpled heap next to the car.
The robot turned back to Liam, the medic tried to run away but his left leg kept giving out on him. He also had some trouble with discerning left form right, or up from down for that matter.
The robot aimed both it's arms at him.

"Yheah yheah bhuddy, fuchk yeoou thoo." Liam mumbled trough numb lips before everything went white, he tried to raise a finger at it but he couldn't quite remember how to do it.
 


 

The first thing John noticed was the throbbing. The second thing was that he was shackled. Looking around he could see the security robot in stand-by mode a few meters to his right. By a door. He could see his two companions lying, also shackled, next to him.

What happened?

John struggled to remember. His head was like thick white rice porridge, his memory like a peeled almond. The chrono on his HUD informed him that at least 1 hour minutes had passed since … the van. Things started to come flooding back.

The muffled grunts from Jac indicated a more severe neuro scrambling being de-scrambled in his head. John felt better about himself.

What had that idiot tech been thinking, sitting down in front of an armed robot like that…? He'd been more careful against the obsolete technology on the Nova Terra. Perhaps it was hubris.

He looked at the tech as a line of pink drool ran from his mouth to the floor, his eyelids were fluttering and his fingers were spasming slightly.

Definitely hubris.

Suddenly and violently Liam exploded into action; he rolled up onto one knee and half jumped half ran straight into the robot, body tackling it to the floor, trying to bite off wiring.
John almost got his hopes up just as the robot crackled and hummed, Liam was spasming and saliva was frothing from his mouth.
John remained still. Liam continued to spasm and rolled off the robot as it stood up. The robot started to move, but stopped…

Both Liam and Jac were unconscious, and John was bound.
John eyed the robot. It was holding Liam by the right arm, it was unmoving, frozen in mid-stride.

Well, this is just great.

 


 

Red watched the two bandits come out of the building where the remains of their compatriots were. They looked around warily, faces too far away, but Red was convinced he could see fear. Satisfactory. Suddenly they collapsed. Red was startled. He hadn't done this, yet they were now on the ground. And pretty dead judging by the dark pools growing around the head of both bandits.

Hunkering down Red scanned the area. There. A shadow. Moving swiftly past the two bodies, ignoring them it moved towards the anchor-projector. His friends. Comm'ing them could reveal his and their location. Red followed at a distance.

 


 

The door opened. John couldn't see or hear much from where he was, but someone had opened the door. It closed. Someone was inside, yet John couldn't see or hear anyone.

Suddenly the robot moved again, startling John. It moved Liam next to him and remained there, blocking John's view. He fumbled with his restraints, they were loose –  Liam's and Jac's looked to be equally loose.

That rustbucket only has factory standard detention protocols! Thank the stars!

In the shadows across the room, in the dim light from computer terminals, John saw a shape move, he could hear keys being tapped, he could also make out a muffled voice, yet not what was being said.

And whoever that is, they are avoiding it …

Quickly he twisted his hands out of the restraints and pulled out his pistol, he looked over at the unconscious forms of Liam and Jac.
John activated his sensors and relief filled him as a familiar signature appeared on his display: Red was outside the door.

But first let's see what we can do about you.

His display changed to show the security robot, a complicated mess of wiring, computer parts,  mechanics and hydraulics, not to mention those nasty weapons systems. Doc would know how to turn this thing off … John looked at the engineer, out cold.

Well, when in doubt, improvise – or fuck something up.

John got up quietly and strode behind the robot, there were a bunch of panels and a ton of wiring . His display tried to trace electricity or pinpoint the power emanations from the battery, but there was too much data to sort through. John begun opening the central one, behind him he saw Red sneak across the room with his vibromachete ready.

Let's hope whoever built you think the same way I do, battery in the middle right?
 


 
Red leapt at the figure by the consoles, his knife slipped past the guard and slashed across the torso of the metallic armor. He was almost thrown out of balance as the material refused to be cut.  Red stared as his knife uncomprehending, that had never happened before.
Before he could react, the armored figure jumped on top of him and flipped him onto the floor with a thud. All air left his lungs.

What the fuck?

Red rolled to the side and got up, his opponent was ready for him and looked like he knew how to handle himself. Usually in situations like this the most prudent action was to shoot the sucker, or have one of your friends shoot him as he was distracted by you. That wasn't really going to happen now. Red guessed if he went for his rifle he would be beaten over the head with the dismantled parts before he even got to fire a shot.

So, you want to go hand to hand with a martial arts expert wearing armor that makes him almost immune to your knife without any backup Red?  …Fuck that.

Slowly Red took a step back and lifted his hands in a sign of peace. "Calm down man, let's talk about this, maybe we can … " he was interrupted by grenade as it filled the room with smoke and he lost sight of his opponent "… Asshole" he coughed as he made he his way out.

John stepped next to him holding a box with a pile of wires sticking out of it "Did you see where he went?" He didn't seemed that bothered by the smoke. Ranger hardware Red guessed.
"No, lost him in the smoke, what about your tech?"
"He's gone, either out of range, or that suit masks him from scans." John looked back to the open door as Liam carried their engineer out.

The three of them stood there in the gloom waiting for the smoke to clear out, above them the circles of Jupiters atmosphere drifted lazily by in a night filled with stars. The slums were quiet and cold, the vague noise of air filters and normal people arguing drifted across the distance to them.

"Right," John said " see if you can get our tech guy awake 'L' , I think we should see what our friend came here for"
"I'll search the crates for anything usable" Red said and climbed the ladder to the storage area over them. "Good idea." John stepped in front of the computers that their unknown guest had meddled with.

And I'll just stand her and try to ignore that sinking feeling that there is a noose slowly tightening around our necks.

Again.


 

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