Fiction Friday! I'm on holiday so no escape pod as such. Pick something here!
From the Ashes - Part 5
Jorerout flipped the steaks and the juices sizzled down onto the hot coals. He took a long swig of his beer draining the bottle. He looked over the low wall all the way down to the waves crashing on the rocks far below. He dropped the empty bottle and watched in vanish into the foam before returning to the grill. The late afternoon breeze cooled the patio on his cliff top villa. It was the only poperty for miles. He glanced back, his girlfriend was lounging on a bed by the small pool. He licked his lips gazing at her toned and bronzed body. The last nine months had been good. After taking the ten million he had headed out to low-sec and bought a property on a remote planet using fake papers. It was a quiet life but with most of the Federal Police looking for him he needed it to be quiet. Also being out of the way meant everything here was cheap. He could live like a king on his ill-gotten gains for the rest of his life. Prime steaks, exclusive beer and a trophy girlfriend who would do anything providing he kept the flow of jewelry going.
He heard the faint buzzing of the doorbell. As he watch his girl rise and head inside he racked his brain to think who would be calling. He had no neighbours, it was 20 minutes to the nearest town by his small shuttle. May be a delivery, had he ordered anything lately? He waited, after a few minutes and no sign of the girl he started to worry. He was no idiot, the Federal Police were after him and he never truly trusted the Zonelle Syndicate. He was a witness to his ex-partner and his wifes abduction and subsequent ordeal. They may try to cover lose ends. He knew and they knew, if the cops caught him he'd turn witness to get off. He reached into a nearby plant pot and pulled out a plastic bag buried in the dirt. He had hidden pistols all over the house and gardens just in case. He pulled the small gun out and tucked it in the back of his shorts. He was just about to enter the house when his girl stepped out of the darkened door.
Jorerout stopped as the construct strode into the light. The orange light of the setting sun bright against the silver metal. He saw the Federal Police badge.
"You, leave." the construct said in a robotic voice to the girl. The terrified woman didn't need to be told twice. She ran and vanished inside the house.
Jourout looked at the robot. It was like nothing he'd seen before. AI's couldn't do police work as they couldn't make the decision of a kill order. He saw the huge gun in its hand. It must be remotely piloted.
"Look man, you have got the wrong end of the stick. Hoyere was the one working for Zonelle. He got greedy and asked for more money. Thats when Zonelle taught him a lesson. I just grabbed his money and ran."
"Really?" the robot asked advancing forward. Jourout stepped backwards trying to maintain distance.
"Its the truth. I knew nobody would believe he was working alone so I panicked and took off after stealing the bribe Zonelle had already paid him. Hoyere was the dirty one, that's why they hell celled him!"
Jourout bumped against the low wall next to the grill. His steaks were black now. The robot towered above him. It reached forward and Jourout cringed. Instead of touching him it lifted a bottle from the ice bucket.
"Matari Rust Rinse, you always loved this beer. Its how I knew it was you... partner. The clues pointed to this place but the beer confirmed it. I simply hacked the brewery and cross referenced the deliveries to be sure."
Jourout stood in shock. It couldn't be.
"Hoy?" he asked with a shaking voice.
"Do you know what they did to her Jour? Do you know what those two thugs did to my new wife?" Jourout broke down in sobs unable to answer.
"It was nothing compared to what that sadistic Caldari bitch inflicted on her in the following hours. You are going to burn in hell for what you did."
The robot grabbed Jourout by the back of his shirt and his belt.
"However first, you are going to get a taste of what is to come!"
"NO!" cried Jourout as Houyere slammed him down on top of the grill and turned the flames to maximum.
The scream was inhuman as Jourout thrashed on the grill. The powerful grip of Hoyere held him there for a full minute. Black smoke rose as his clothes and flesh burnt. Finally Hoyere hoisted the twitching man in the air.
"I think you need to cool down now." Hoyere snarled at the barely conscious man. He swung him over the low wall and let go.
Houyere just regained consciousness as the sea air rushed past him. His blurred vision taking in the foaming rocks rapidly approaching.
"He's dead." Sonnibel said. "Local police found him at 18 hundred hours yesterday. His girlfriend reported some huge robot had burst in and told her to leave."
Zonelle ran his finger over the rim of the whisky glass. He'd been drinking heavily for the last few days.
"How did he die?" he asked trying to sound casual but his voice breaking slightly gave it away.
"Local sources say he's in for autopsy right now but initial thoughts he was held over his own barbeque before being thrown off a cliff."
Zonelle went quiet again. Everyone involved in that night had died a horrific and slow death. Everyone but him and the robot. They still didn't know exactly how the Captain had been reborn as that mechanical monstrosity. Zonelle's criminal organisation had connections and sources, but none well placed enough for him to know the name of the Phoenix program, nevermind any details. He'd placed top priority on finding out about how the robot was created and offered a massive reward for information. The few snippets of intel they'd got were practically worthless.
Another man entered the room. Zonelle and Sonnibel stopped talking and looked at the man.
"Sirs, we've just had a message passed through one of our informants. I don't know what to make of it." he said scratching his head. He passed a datapad to Sonnibel. Zonelle looked on impatiently.
"It would appear the Federal Police would like to talk to us. Apparently the good Captain has gone rogue and they'd like to work with us." Sonnibel stated raising an eyebrow. "They want to meet!"
The Senator looked at the monitor on the desk. The Intaki woman he'd seen around the laboratory looked almost unrecognisable. The stylist was finishing off her hair and makeup.
"This has got to be the worst plan I've ever seen, and on the Senate Military Oversight Panel I've seen a lot!" he grumbled.
Doctor Arneche leaned back in his chair.
"We think its the only way. The AI is clearly unable to stop or encourage the Captain anymore. We have to accept he is in full control. You and I are not going to be able to convince him to stop and turn himself in. Madelanda is now the person he knows best. We've dressed her and got her hair and makeup done to be a close resemblance to his wife. His fractured memory and her close association with him means he might listen. The only option is we use the military to take him out. Thats a billion interstellar credits gone plus potential military loses and collateral damage. So it might be the worst plan you've ever seen but its still the best one we have."
The Senator remained silent. Ever the politician, he knew not to say anything when there was a possibility things could fall apart. If he didn't have to agree to a plan he wouldn't, then he could always claim he was against the 'very bad idea' all along.
The door to the room opened and Madelanda entered. She wore a flowing summer dress and ankle boots. Her hair had been dyed slightly darker than what she had been. She wasn't exactly like Captain Hoyere's deceased wife, but anyone who knew her would make a double take if Madelanda passed them looking like that.
"You can say no Miss." the Senator said heaving his bulky frame from the chair "Nobody is going to think any the less of you if you say no."
The woman nodded and smiled. Yvesque smile back but in his head he was thinking the scientist must be crazy or incredibly brave. When some egghead in the meeting suggested it he'd laughed. When Madelanda had said it was a good idea he'd been stunned. This young woman had just agreed to get between a rampaging robot on a killing spree and the person it wanted to kill the most in the universe.
"I want to do this." she replied confidently.
"It's a massive risk you are taking with your own safety." the Doctor added "It's not just trying to talk Captain Hoyere down, there is also....."
".... approaching the Zonelle crime syndicate and offering myself as protection." she finished for the Doctor. "I know and I want to do it."
The two men nodded.
The cafe was busy. Waitresses hurried between the tables with trays piled high with food.
Sonnibel sat opposite the two. An attractive Intaki woman and a burly Gallentean who made no effort to hide his distaste for a member of the Zonelle organisation. Sonnibel picked up a couple of fries and ate them, thinking whilst he chewed. He spoke after swallowing.
"So let me get this straight. No secret kill-codes, no super EMP based weapons. Just a lab-rat in a dress who will ask this psychotic robot you created to be nice? I have to say I am not confident in your plans."
"I don't give a shit what you think you piece of filth." the officer sat opposite snapped "If it was up to me I'd let the Captain continue and let your boss get what he so richly deserves. The only reason we are talking to you is we don't know where Hoyere is and we don't know where you piece of slime boss is. That makes it difficult to put Madelanda here between them. We are offering you this one chance. You tell us where your boss is and we'll station nearby. When the Captain shows up Madelanda will talk him down and we'll go our separate paths. We will not try to arrest your boss for one solar day. That should give him chance to crawl under another rock."
Sonnibel picked up another fry and slowly chewed it.
"You expect me to believe that the Federal Police will just sit and give us a days grace? I find that hard to believe." he replied.
"Well we don't care what you believe. This isn't a negotiation. We are not trying to come to some mutually beneficial arrangement. We are offering you a one-time deal to have your boss see another day and we get back our badly malfunctioning piece of tech. Madelanda here is the only chance you have. So that's it. Take it or leave it."
"Well its a nice offer but we don't think you can be trusted with the location of our boss and not act on it. I think we'll go with option B." Sonnibel replied smiling.
"Yes. We blow your surveillance truck parked outside. Shoot down that drone you have circling overhead. Then we put a bullet in your brain plus your two colleagues in the corner and take this woman who you think the robot cares for ourselves."
The officer's eyes shot wide. They knew everything, it was a trap. He went for his gun in his inside pocket as Sonnibel just sat there smiling. The Federal Agent didn't even see the blonde haired waitress lift a gun from the tray and fire it into the back of his head. Madelanda screamed as the agent fell face down onto the table, a gaping hole where the back of his skull once was. The two undercover agents in the corner jumped from their seats as they saw the scene unfold. The boom of the shotgun thundered around the cafe. The panicking diners never saw the man in next booth to the agents unload into the two men. An explosion shattered the window. People stopped to look at the white van burning at the kerbside.
The Senator watched the fireball erupted from the van on the main screen from the orbital command ship. The camera from the drone showed their burning van outside the cafe. A trail of white smoke rose from an adjacent building heading towards the drone. A second later the feed went dead. All around him people were barking orders and shouting commands.
"Alpha team do you have her?" a senior officer shouted next to the Senator. Everyone fell quiet.
"Alpha team respond!"
The speaker crackled into life.
"Building secure. Three agents down. No sign of Madelanda or Zonelle's man. He must have taken her. Please advise command!"
To be concluded....