The device activated and spun, burning a circle into the wall.
I pulled back and pressed myself against the computer tower. How long had it taken Kiro to break through the train car? Two minutes? Three? I glanced at the machine and cursed; it had barely made its first loop. At that rate, the wall wouldn’t be the only thing getting ripped a new one. I needed more time, but that sure as hell wasn’t going to come easy.
I could already hear the guards closing in.
Another round of gunfire sparked off the tower beside me. I cringed, curling myself into a ball. The excitement, the adrenaline – it was all wearing off, and now I was left with that sinking feeling of absolute dread. How could I have ended up here? I thought about how confident I’d been, how I’d strolled up to Olivia and demanded her gun. Hell, how I made it this far without being captured or killed. Where had that come from? I was a drifter, a common thief, not a freaking super terrorist. I didn’t belong in a damn shootout!
Overhead, the red emergency lights flashed, adding a strobe-effect to the already smoke-filled room. It was like being back in UpBeat, only a mistake here would cost me more than a night’s work. Suddenly, I felt way out of my element. I slid down the tower and crumpled into a heap, whatever fake confidence I’d had before vanishing like my childhood dreams. I coughed, feeling my breath catch, and stared at the Glock, now limp in my hand. Fear paralyzed me.
“Get up, Rainey!” Olivia shouted.
The steady drum of boots sounded down the hall.
“Get up, dammit!”
I ran my hands through my hair, squeezed my palms against my forehead. I wished it would all stop. I was ready to let go, ready to give up, but then a glint caught my eye. The emergency lights flashed off my silver necklace. I grasped the locket and the engraving rolled beneath my fingers: AJS.
It was a sucker punch to the gut.
A tidal wave of guilt crashed into me, shattering my fear and stealing my breath.
How could I ever think to give up? I was a coward.
I grabbed a stun grenade, fumbled with the pin, and launched the canister down the hallway, blind.
A metallic clink echoed off the walls as it hit the ground and skidded. 3,2…
“Move!” a guard shouted.
I put my head between my legs and covered my ears. I had no idea why, but it seemed like the right thing to do. Still, even muffled by my thighs, the blast set the world ringing. Guards’ screams rose over the alarm and I took them to mean I’d bought some time.
I lunged toward the computer terminal, slightly dazed from the blast, pack flapping over my shoulder. The flash drive still sat in the CPU and I snatched it out and then threw my weight into the burned out circle along the wall. No matter what they tell you, a burned out concrete wall still hits like a concrete wall. My shoulder cracked, went numb underneath my weight, but I ignored the pain – another tasty benefit of being hopped up on Vert – and a split second later, the wall gave way. I fell through the hole and out into the open air.
After being suffocated inside by smoke, the night breeze was like the return of a good friend – or what I imagined that must be like. It struck me in the face, carrying the scent of the trees and the wilderness, refreshing yet simple. Terror still raced through my body, but I used it, channeled it toward my new goal of getting the fuck out of dodge.
Unfortunately, I hadn’t exactly thought much further than burning a hole through the wall. And let me tell you, lasering your way through a building isn’t the subtlest of escape plans. As I rose to my feet, I spotted guards sprinting across the grounds. Some were heading to the Southeast wing of the complex, where I’d set the second base charge. But a few others, well, they were heading right for me.
I got my legs working beneath me and sprinted toward the fence line.
“O,” I shouted. “I’m not gonna make it.”
“Hang on. Help’s on the way.”
Three more guards barreled out of a doorway beside me. One raised his rifle and aimed for my chest.
“Stop. Or I’ll put you down.”
He was maybe twenty yards away. Too close to miss with that thing. I slowed to a stop and raised my hands. As I did, I slid the flash drive into my pocket.
“Drop the gun,” the guard said, approaching me. He wore a camo vest and pants to match. The tag across his chest read: Jamison. I looked him up and down. He didn’t match the other rent-a-guards. In fact, he almost looked military.
“The gun,” he repeated.
I hadn’t realized I was still holding the Glock. I gave it a hesitant look before tossing it aside. It couldn’t help me now.
“Any day now, girly,” I whispered over the comLink.
Jamison stepped closer. He kicked the handgun further away and motioned toward my shoulder. “Now the bag.”
I set the pack down.
“You’re in a lot of shit, little girl,” he said. “You and your friends.”
I tried to act tough, but my voice shook. “That so?”
“Oh yeah.” He laughed. “Down on your knees. Hands over your – what the hell?”
I followed Jamison’s stare and squinted. In the darkness, I could just make out a light bearing down on us.
As it pulled closer, I realized it wasn’t one light, but two – headlights. Headlights belonging to a military Humvee, a military Humvee currently barreling toward us, engine screaming.
And from the look of it, it had no intention of stopping.
The guards glanced amongst each other, then to me. Two dove out of the way as the vehicle charged our position, but Jamison wasn’t giving up. He moved to restrain me. At the same time, the vehicle turned abruptly, the back half skidding up to become level with the front. It slid across the wet ground and I snatched my pack and dove out of the way. Jamison froze, caught dead in line with the car.
The passenger door slammed into him. With a sickening crush, he was thrown backwards onto the ground, blood leaking from his mouth.
I hoped he wasn’t dead. But right then, I didn’t have much time to worry. The other two guards were getting to their feet and each eyed me with a look of anger mixed with hatred.
I ran to the Humvee and flung open the passenger door. I guess I expected to see Olivia sitting in the driver’s seat, but it wasn’t her. Actually, it wasn’t anyone.
The car was completely empty.
What the –
“Get in, dummy.”
It was Olivia’s voice, but it wasn’t coming through the comLink. It was coming from the car’s radio.
“Now would be preferable,” she pressed.
I glanced back at Jamison. He lay sprawled out of the ground, still not moving. I jumped into the passenger seat and slammed the door.
“How the hell did you -”
It was as if someone slammed the gas. The car lurched forward and I had to press my hands against the dash to keep my face from cracking the windshield. The wheel turned, as if by magic, and we changed directions, heading for the nearest fence line.
Guards dove out of the way; others opened fire.
I flinched and ducked behind the dash, but I shouldn’t have worried. The bullets struck harmlessly against the Humvee. One of the benefits of stealing a military vehicle.
I looked ahead. We were closing in on the fence, and fast.
“O, are we..?”
“Ramming it? Yeah.”
I buckled my seatbelt and braced myself.
One minute we were speeding ahead, the next, we crashed headlong into the fence. Sparks cascaded over the front windshield, along with a large chunk of metal meshwork. Two long poles flipped up onto the hood and for a second I worried they might pierce through the windshield and impale me. But the windshield deflected the poles with ease. Apparently, it was built of sturdier stuff than my nerves.
“A little heads up next time, O.”
We were outside the depot, careening down a dirt road in the general direction of the hill.
“Did I, or did I not, just save your life?” Olivia said.
I glanced into the rearview to check the damage we’d caused. That’s when I spotted them – two more sets of headlights, each belonging to a nice, hefty SUV.
“Damn,” I said. “We’ve got a problem.”
They were gaining on us.
“I see them.” I heard typing through the connection. “Oh shit.”
“Where in the hell did they get Ghost Lines? That’s military tech.”
“I’m not following,” I said.
“Look at the Grid lines.”
As the SUVs drew closer, I saw what O meant. A web of blue lines jutted out from each car like a porcupine. There must have been hundreds, thousands. All fake connections. Decoys.
If Olivia was going to gain control of the vehicles, she’d have to find the true Grid link. And since the ghost lines were projected from the cars themselves, it wouldn’t matter that she had direct access to the Depot. She’d still have to individually assess each connection.
“Can you narrow it down?” I asked.
“Yes. But not enough to be helpful. We’re going to have to handle this the more direct way.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Which is?”
“Well… how many more of those grenades do you have?”
I rifled through my pack and pulled out the remaining canisters. In total, I had two smoke grenades and two old school, blow-shit-up grenades. Not a whole lot to work with, especially now that I was back to being good old fashion me, a chick with absolutely zero experience with explosives, high speed car chases, or getting shot at. In short, I had no idea what I was doing and it terrified me. And there wasn’t a whole lot of room for error to begin with.
I opened the window and leaned out, only to duck back inside, narrowly avoiding a bullet to the face.
My heart felt like it might explode from my chest.
Little room for error was correct.
I looked through the back window, figuring this was safer, and tried my best to judge distance and speed. How long was the timer once the pin was pulled? Ten seconds? Two? How fast were we going?
Ugh. Screw it.
I pulled the pin and held it. I had no idea why, but I did. It was instinct. A second later I tossed it out the window and watched it skip in the mud.
The SUV behind us swerved to the right just as the grenade went off. A large patch of dirt blew into the air, but the car remained intact. Worse yet, it was still gaining ground.
“O,” I said, grabbing the two smoke grenades. “I hope you have a backup plan.”
I pulled the pin on the canisters and dropped them out the window. Immediately, smoke burst forth, forming a thick haze behind the Humvee. Without an extra thought, I pulled the pin out of the last remaining grenade and leaned out the window. This was for all the marbles.
1.. Gunfire pierced the air, but I didn’t sway. I lined up the drop – aiming right where the SUVs barreled through the smoke and released. 2…
I’d held on a bit longer, and that combined with the decreased visibility, was enough. The grenade bounced once, before skidding under the carriage of the leading car.
The explosion tore through the backside of the vehicle, flipping it into the air. The second SUV didn’t have time to swerve out of the way. They clipped each other head on, the half-destroyed car landing on the hood of the other.
And then it was done.
I could hardly breath.
“Rainey!” Olivia shouted. “Nice shooting, girl.”
I leaned back in my seat. Excitement, adrenaline – it was all there in spades again, so intense it almost hurt.
My breath caught in my chest. A dull twinge dug through my Vert haze.
I ran my hands over my chest, looked at my palms.
They were covered in blood.
I thought of Alice.
Sorry for the delay everyone. Life got in the way for a bit there. The next chapter is an interlude, which will end Arc 2. As it stands, Ghost Touch is penned as a Four Arc + Epilogue story and will likely come in at around 60-70k. After that, there’s plans for a sequel depending on how people like the ending and all that jazz.
Next chapter will be out this Saturday at midnight EST.
Man, the names keep messing with me. Especially the Jamison. At least it wasn’t Jamisson. I’m reading too many things at once.
Did I screw something up?
If memory serves a lot of WSN author’s who write in the superhuman genre have a character named that. Most likely a tribute to Spiderman.
Huh, never thought of that, but it does make sense. It’s an easy fix.
No no no, not at all. Sorry, I should have clarified- it’s because there are a few names in this that I still associate with different characters from other works.
Hah no worries. Was just a little confused.
I really like this story, and it is just getting exciting. =]
So if I understand this correctly, the drug Vert, triggered some mechanism that grants a “superpower” and some shady business man plan on overdosing cities just to get his hands on more lab rats?
I like that powers is a recent thing in your setting, that’s not seen much.
As a side note, I would like to call something.
Rainey’s little memory power doesn’t just clear short term memory. It absorbs it, this explains why she suddenly was able to gain access to a system she knew nothing about, without Vert, as if by rote learning.
She at one point “swished” the memory of a personage with knowledge of advanced computer systems.
Thanks man, glad your enjoying it. And thanks for leaving your thoughts! As for the theories… I can neither confirm or deny 😉
I jumped into