Fiction Friday! Still on holiday so no escape pod as this was queued up over a week ago!
From the Ashes - Part 6
The scans showed the villa was well defended. Light missile batteries were concealed around the perimeter and the 25mm railgun emplacements meant anything short of a tank could not hope to lead a ground assault. His cloak would only be partially effective. It would still hide him from most forms of scanning but air friction would mean he would be visible on some spectrums and to the naked eye. He could call this in. He'd had no contact with his department for days. He'd found Zonelle's hiding place by entering a number of his outposts and hacking their computer systems. His unique abilities allowing him to processes terabytes of data and analyse them in seconds. However he didn't want to see Zonelle arrested. His memory of that night was fully restored now. After Ulkka had finished with his wife she was in terrible pain. Zonelle had gone over to comfort her. He had whispered to her it was going to be alright and that it was nearly over. Then he'd looked into Hoyere's eyes, smiled and pulled a knife. He'd rammed it into his wife's belly and twisted it bringing a howl of pain. Hoyere had remembered he'd shook helplessly in his bonds and screamed until his throat was raw. Zonelle had stabbed her twice more, each time cruelly twisting the knife. Hoyere recalled the words Zonelle had spoken before he'd walked out as if nothing had happened.
"Let him watch her bleed out. Once she's dead, 'cell' him and leave them both somewhere obvious."
The Captain in his small ship shook with fury. The small ship accelerated heavily, entering the planet's atmosphere.
Janomeches was flicking through some lurid pictures on his datapad. They had been blackmailing a well know Gallente Holoreel actress after her ex-boyfriend sold them their intimate pictures. As one of the biggest family entertainers in the cluster she was very keen to keep her squeaky clean image as was. The console bleeped again. He looked on the scan, nothing. Why did it keep doing that. He flicked from Gravometric to LADAR scans. Nothing. Just for thoroughness he selected thermal. A red dot appeared on his screen.
"What the...." he growled. Whatever it was it was not showing up on the other scans. He powered up the missile battery as he tried to get a reading on the signature. His orders that morning had been specific, if in doubt fire. They were expecting trouble and if anything approached not broadcasting a friendly signal he was to fire first and ask questions later.
Whatever it was it was moving fast. He didn't have much time. Satisfied it wasn't friendly he slammed his fist down on the fire button. Nothing happened. He looked confused. Why didn't the battery engage? The contact was accelerating, too fast to land safely now. He saw the contact break into three. He slammed the fire button again. In the second before the small ship crashed into the security building and obliterated it and Janomeches he noticed the battery was still set on LADAR scan mode. I couldn't lock the partially cloaked target. An elementary mistake and one he wouldn't have to dwell on for long.
The ejection system had fired Captain Hoyere clear of the blast, the small jets on his chair cushioning his landing. He lept from the ejector seat as the straps disengaged and grabbed his gun, marching towards the villa's main entrance. The railguns on the wall sat still, their command and control system completely destroyed by the impact of his ship. He had expected armed guards pouring out of the residence. Other than the crackle of the fire from the blazing security building it was eerily quiet. He approached the door and held his hand over the lock. The entosis link based interface took microseconds and the door swung open. No guards in defensive positions. Just an empty entrance hall. His scans had showed dozens of people here. Where were they? What were they planning. He continued down the hall, side doors were open and showed empty rooms. Ahead there was the double doors that from his scan appeared to lead to a ballroom or large empty dining room. They were locked. With one punch they flew off their hinges. He stopped a he entered. Confusion assaulted him.
"Maison" he murmured.
Madelanda was hanging in the centre of the room. Metal cables around her wrists and ankles suspended her mid-air like a starfish. She raised her head as she heard the crash of the doors.
"Run Hoyere! Its a trap!" she screamed.
The Captain didn't run. Nor did he move at all. He just looked at her there. She was helplessly suspended in the air. His altered memory played tricks on him. His vision blurred between his dead wife and the woman who had resurrected him, who had cared for him after.
"Put down your gun. With one flick of a switch I can rip off either of her arms or legs. Drop the weapon or I'll start removing limbs." a voice crackled over some hidden speakers. Hoyere paused.
"I'm not joking" the voice snarled. Hoyere heard the faint hum of motors and saw the slight slack in the ropes leading to her legs tighten. Madelanda screamed as she was stretched. Hoyere dropped the gun to the floor with a clatter. Some slack returned to the cables and Madelanda panted heavily.
"Good robot." the voice said.
The door at the end of the long room opened and Zonelle stepped out flanked by two huge men with heavy weapons. He held a control in his hand.
"One wrong move 'tin can' and your little lady here will be torn apart." he said holding up the remote to emphasise the fact.
The two men split off, keeping their huge guns trained on the Captain. He looked at them. Clearly cloned soldiers with forge guns charged and ready to fire. His chassis was tough, but no match for anti-armour heavy weaponry.
"So we find ourselves here again. The Captain, his female and me and a few of my colleagues. I'm getting deja vu, what about you?" Zonelle laughed walking towards the Captain. He stopped beside Madelanda . "However, this time you are not in chains. You have a choice. You can try and stop me. Of course my men have orders to shoot you if you move."
Zonelle pulled his knife from his belt. The silver blade glinted in the bright lights of the room.
"Remember this Captain. Remember how this steel sunk into your pretty wife's flesh. Remember how she screamed?"
Hoyere tensed. He saw both the cloned mercs also tense, their fingers on the triggers. Tactical options flashed up on his HUD. He tried to calculate a way to reach Zonelle. The 20 metres was not far, but every scenario showed that the mercs would have more than enough time to take him out. Zonelle grabbed the edge of Madelanda's dress and pulled hard, ripping it from her.
"Shall we see how long you can last Captain? How long before you kill yourself by trying to stop me?" Zonelle smiled and ran the blade casually over Madelanda's upper leg. She hissed in pain through gritted teeth. Hoyere tensed again as he saw the crimson line form on her leg under the steel as it moved. He focused on the drip of blood from the shallow wound that ran down her pale flesh.
"There was a civilization on ancient Amarr that had a rather nasty execution method. There is no proper transliteration of their name for it. Historians even believe it was the same people that started of the Blood Raider Cult. They would use a knife like this to make small shallow cuts one after another from sunrise to sunset. When they came back the next morning the victim was usually dead. If they were still alive, a very rare case apparently, they would be freed, taking it as a sign. I'm going to give your friend here a taste. 60 minutes only. After that I'll kill her. If you move my men will take you out and I'll continue for the full 12 hours." he sneered. "Try to stop me and you'll sentence her to a slow and horrific death. But can you just stand there for 60 minutes and watch me do this?"
Captain Hoyere tensed again. The nervous mercs twitched as they saw it. He relaxed quickly and tried to think of options. Trying and failing would not be an option, he couldn't let Madelanda be subjected to that. However it appeared to be an impossible task to stop him.
A shrill scream sounded as Zonelle slashed his knife on the sole of Madelanda's foot.
"Oh a sensitive spot." he laughed.
Hoyere moved fast. The boom of the forge guns sounded at the same time. He twisted with one shot going wide. The other struck his shoulder spinning him to the ground. He crashed down and his left arm slid away, detached from his body and crashed into the wall. Green fluids gushed from the mangled mess of his arm. Zonelle and the two mercs approached cautiously. Error messages and critical alerts flashed on Hoyere's HUD. He was in a bad shape.
"Oh dear Captain. You have just sentenced your pretty little lab rat here to a most horrific death." Zonelle sneered. "Only this time after she's dead...." Zonelle stopped abruptly as Hoyere started to convulse. The three men jumped back slightly. A bright white light shot from his failing arm like a torch as other signal lights flashed on and off and his armour opened and closed various hatches in some malfunction. After a few seconds the convulsions stopped.
"Feeling better now Captain?" Zonelle grinned. "Blow his legs off for good measure!" he ordered, stepping back. Neither of his mercenaries moved.
"I gave you an order!"
Both men stood as still as statues. Slowly Captain Hoyere pushed himself up.
"Kill him! Kill him now!" Zonelle screamed still slowly retreating.
The Captain walked to one of the mercs and took the cannon from his unmoving hands as Zonelle looked in disbelief.
"Nanites. All cloned soldiers rely on nanites swarming through their systems. I simply used my link to reprogram a few to go and latch onto the spinal column and release a small charge into their nervous systems. They are paralysed for now."
Zonelle dropped to his knees sobbing.
"Release her now!" Hoyere commanded. Zonelle pulled the remote from his pocket with a shaky hand. He depressed a button and the cuffs holding Madelanda sprang open and she fell to the ground. She quickly retrieved her torn dress and wrapped herself in it.
"I suppose now you are going to tell me to the right thing and arrest this man and hand myself in to face my crimes?" Hoyere said. Whilst the synthesized voice didn't allow for much emotion to come through it still sounded resigned.
Madelanda limped over, her cut foot leaving a blood stain whenever she placed it gingerly on the floor.
"No fracking way!" she hissed.
"So they just vanished?" the Senator asked holding his two clenched fists up and flicking all his fingers out quickly in a burst style.
"I know it looks bad, but yes."
The Senator rolled his eyes. He would have to go back to the military oversight committee and say a seven foot tall robot with one missing arm accompanied by a petite Intaki woman simply walked out of a small battlezone without any transportation and simply vanished.
"At least he saved us on court costs I suppose!" the Senator sighed.
Zonelle was found in the ballroom. His torso was hanging by one arm from one of the metal wires. His other arm and his two legs were found detached on the end of the other three wires. Statements from the members of the organisation they captured stated they found the ballroom sealed, emergency blastdoors installed by Zonelle had been engaged. They reported they heard him screaming as they cut their way in after they saw the robot leaving. Captain Hoyere had apparently strung him up as he had done with Madelanda and left the controls on a long slow retract before sealing the room with the blast doors.
"Can he operate for long with only one arm?" he asked Doctor Arneche who was still mulling the situation over.
"Normally not long. He destroyed his ship in the attack which had all the spares and repair functions. However if he has Madelanda with him and if she is helping him, he could go forever."
"What's his end game then doctor? Everyone who wrong him is now dead. Will he self-terminate? Will he hand himself in? What will he do?"
The Doctor stroked his chin. "I really don't know Senator. Captain Hoyere was a good man, a great police officer and a credit to the Federation. What would I do if I was him? I couldn't possibly guess."
Preralle walked down the line. The girls lined up before him held their heads down as they sobbed.
"For fracks sake Ahrnan these are not what I asked for! They are too old for me to get top price."
The Amarrian leant against the door frame. He shrugged as he chewed on a fat cigar.
"Its what I got. I brought them here as you asked so you can take first pick. I'm a fracking pirate not an order service. These are what we got from the last five ships we intercepted that are close to your requirements. Unless you have the flight-plan of the Colelie Ten School for Girls annual trip you have to make do with what we pick up in our day-to-day raiding."
Preralle spat on the floor. He stopped in front of one sobbing girl. She was slightly shorter than the others. He cupped his hand under her chin and lifted her head up. His thumb stroked her cheek, not to reassure her but the feel how soft it was and thus how much he could charge.
"How old are you?"
"Ffff...fff...ffff...fourteen" she stuttered.
Preralle did the figures in his head. 900 credits a day for a year, 600 credits a day for the year after. He'd be lucky to get 500 a day from her by the time she was sixteen. Just short of quarter of a million credits if she survived the three years. She was the only one of these girls worth it.
"I'll take this one and....."
A heavy stomping made him stop. Ahrnan looked at him questioningly. Both men dropped their hand to their side near their pistols. The heavy footfall stopped outside the door. With a hiss the door opened. Both men gasped as the huge robot stepped in. As soon as they saw the Federal Police badge and the oversized gun it carried they raised their hands in the air.
The robot used its free arm, one that looked out of place with a different colour and a different style to the other, to take a small datapad from a storage space on its leg. It handed it to the nearest girl.
"Follow the directions. There is a ship waiting. Go inside and strap yourselves in. I will be back to take you all home in a few minutes."
The girls didn't need to be told twice and ran crying from the room.
"We'll go quietly!" the Amarrian stuttered.
"No. No you really won't!" the robot replied.
The group of girls skidded to a halt in the long corridor as they heard two thunderous bangs. They looked back just in time to see the robot leave the room and start walking towards them.
"Madelanda power up the ship. I have the girls. We're leaving." the Captain said into his communicator."