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3010 Pt. 1 of 4

By Jon Brown

Episode 1

Friend or Foe

Climbing out from the manhole, the fugitive weaved his way cautiously between the fleet of new spacecraft, which lined every inch of the enemy airfield, his eyes darting nervously from side to side with every turn of the final hundred meter dash, beneath the stormy amethyst skies.

His day spent scavenging for food had been unsuccessful. and worse still, he'd been spotted by two warbot guards, who then chased him from the food silo, on the other side of sector six. Only his cunning and knowledge of the old sewers had got him this far, as he entered sector seven, and relocated ship F161.

At the sound of his fist against the door, the woman turned on the viewer and allowed herself a sigh of relief at the sight of her husband standing there.

Though her relief was short lived, when she allowed him entry and he entered the flight deck with a look of despair on his face, realising instantly that something was very wrong, even before she moved towards him and spoke: 'What is it? What has happened Rhys?' she asked, as he tried uselessly to avoid her eyes.

Taking her by the hand, he led her toward a seat to regain his breath, 'I found no food today,' he paused to bite at his fist, 'And I was so close, too.'

'We still have water and pill cakes,' she tried to reassure him, 'We'll be alright.'

He shook his head, 'But Elisha, I was spotted, and I had to drop the bag to escape.'

'No,' the woman gasped, squeezing his hand tightly, 'The scriptures.'

'Two guards, down at the market, waiting behind the food silos.'

'Did they follow you here?'

The man shook his head a little unsurely, 'I think I lost them,' he tried to reassure her.

Suddenly, from outside, a sound like rolling thunder broke the already uncomfortable silence, causing the whole ship to quake beneath their feet, as they were left to clutch each other desperately, filled with the fear of not knowing what was to come next, and unable to shake their painful anticipation, even when the noise died some moments later.

Only the muffled cries of their child drifting from below, delivered them back to their senses, again, as Rhys reached across the control panel, and turned on the viewer, to see the huge transporter which loomed like a dark cloud less than five hundred feet above them.

'An Eye ship,' Elisha said with fear, 'We should never of left the work camp. At least there we had food.'

The man tore his baleful stare from the Eye ship, to look at his wife with disbelief, 'And what would have become of our little Leilani then?' he reminded her.

She knew he was right, and looked down at the floor in silence, as uninvited memories of camp atrocities flashed through her mind and tore through her heart like a thousand needling stings.

Rhys turned off the screen, and rose from his seat, 'Come Elisha,' he urged her, 'We must hide below until it is safe to escape again.'

'But where will we go?'

'Sector ten, if we can make it.'

She knew it would mean the sewer route again, safer than above ground, yet more perilous in its own way, especially now the resistance had been exterminated, or had fled to Paladorm. A dangerous route teaming with mutant rats, and ever crumbling masonry, and of course the terrible smell of leaking gas nearer the old resistance nerve centres. 'And what if these rumours of safe haven and bunker cover are not true?' she worried.

'But what other choice do we have, Elisha?' he said as they left the bridge and headed below to the engine room where the infant girl was now waking.

***

Outside the guard waited for the Comandroid to reply to his damage report, whilst he continued to inspect the broken lock of ship F161.

'Proceed with caution,' came the order, 'Search the ship thoroughly and report back immediately on your finds.'

Though the guard needed no encouragement, as he quickly rejoined the stray wires, and retried the key card, before standing back with his laser drawn, as the door glided open to allow him entry.

Inside upon the gangway floor he viewed the orange aura left there by two pairs of footprints, slowly fading to yellow, as he made his way cautiously toward the bridge, and then deepening to red, as he traced his own steps back, and headed down towards the lower deck, remnants which told him he was close to human occupants. Not far from the ladder, he watched the red prints vanish behind the rhenium door which led into the engine room, and so accordingly, he turned his PSI powers to remote viewing. Immediately he saw the door lock, sabotaged from within, and then beyond that, the three stowaways.

Wasting no time he adjusted his laser at the panel and fired a short burst.

There was a thick plume of smoke, before the door juddered open.

Standing inside he stared blankly at a man and woman, huddled there like frightened animals, in the shadows near the plasma injectors, still dressed in their grey hemp, camp uniforms, and plastic shoes. Now the jigsaw was complete as he moved further into the room with his laser levelled, and headed toward the drum where he knew the human infant lay hidden wrapped in clean hemp swathing.

'No... No, please don't kill my baby, 'Elisha screamed, as Rhys pushed himself off the wall, and charged at the guard head first.

Though the guard was too quick, as he side stepped the man and fired a burst at his back.

'Murdering scum,' Elisha cursed the guard, as her husband crashed to the steel floor, and lay still.

The guard watched her for a long moment from behind his dark visor, and then made his way backwards through the entrance, "Do not worry," he assured her, as she rushed to rescue her child from the drum, 'He is only stunned.'

Back in the gangway he shoved the door shut, and used his laser to weld it to its jamb. 'X4, report status immediately,' ordered the impatient Comandroid, as the guard made his way back to the bridge to raise the craft shutters, 'Everything is normal, sir. The ship is empty,' the guard lied, 'Just storm damage.'

From the flight deck X4 was not surprised to see the convoy of new craft, already headed towards the transporter, as he started the engines.

***

It was some time later, when the guard returned, blasting open the temporary seal to view the human stowaways, again.

Inside, Elisha cradled her baby in one arm, and her dazed husband in the other.

'What are you waiting for?' she asked the guard. 'You might as well kill us all now, so we can be together,' she spoke calmly, as if committed, to an inevitable fate which awaited them, 'We will surely be executed if we are taken back to the Eye camp.'

The guard made no reply as he loosened a piece of the titanium armour covering his forearm, revealing the flesh and wires, fused as one beneath.

'I am still human,' he said, holding the naked arm out in front of him as he walked towards them, 'See.'

'Make it quick,' the woman screamed, as the guard knelt down and grabbed her husband's hand, placing the fingers against his own wrist.

Too weak to pull himself free, Rhys was left to focus on the tactile sensation of blood pumping beneath the guard's skin, 'Impossible,' he gasped, 'Droids have no heart."

It was the hand of his wife who felt the pulse next, 'Who are you cyborg?' she asked, 'What are you?'

The guard stood up pulling the visor back over his head, to reveal his half human, half bionic face, 'I am Klade, a cyborg, and member of the resistance. My one purpose, to protect those like yourself, and to end Eye's cruel reign,' he paused to replace his visor, 'But enough talk, an escape capsule awaits you with supplies,' he promised them as he fixed his armour and told them to follow him. 'Like yourselves, I have many enemies whom serve the Eye,' he said with regret, 'And not enough good friends,' he paused to let out a sigh, 'But a few good ones are better than a thousand armies,'

'How will you have time to tell your friends about us?' Rhys questioned him.

'Trust me, they already know, and I personally assure you that our capsule will leave this transporter undetected'' he explained, as he led them through the ship towards the rear exit. 'The capsule will be programmed to deliver us all safely to the safe sector.'

'Sector ten,' Rhys guessed.

Klade nodded, 'That is if all goes well,' he reminded them, 'The Vortex current becomes ever more volatile.'

'But surely it would be safer for us to hide here aboard this craft until they land,' the woman argued.

'Also.' Klade made them halt near the exit, and shook his head, 'Another reason you cannot stay here,' he said, as he lifted the inspection hatch in the floor, and pointed down to the cylinder hidden beneath the fuel lines, 'This is how Eye's warbot troops will be greeted long before they taste any more victories,' he promised them, as he bent down, and armed the bomb with a flick of his wrist, 'Fire with fire.'

To be continues...

(C)opyright 2006 Jon Brown All Rights Reserved

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