After arriving at his apartment, Lucian desperately searches for the porcelain statue. However, an unexpected surprise is waiting for Lucian. The Aerial Combat Unit.
Lucian nodded and steeled himself. Small punched through the window and cleared the glass with his pistol. Lucian crawled into the apartment and crept through the living room in search of the china monkey.
He found the coffee table with his shin and stifled a yelp. He limped to the couch and searched the cushions to no avail.
“Where is it?” he whispered to himself. He walked through the darkness. “Come on,” he exclaimed. The lights in the living room came on, and the television blared to life. Lucian cringed at the noise, but the image that appeared on the screen drew his attention. He saw images of himself and Genevieve all over the different frames. A journalist on one channel was in the middle of an explanation.
“…recently added these two to their list of wanted terrorists. They were recently spotted in the Potter’s Crescent district of Brightwater and have, with the aid of other known terrorists, engaged several federal agents, killing several. If anyone has any information as to the whereabouts of these two fugitives...”
Lucian muted the television.
“What’s going on?” Small yelled through the window.
“Sorry,” said Lucian.
“Just get the statue and get out here!”
Lucian spied the monkey statue smiling mischievously at him from the top of the bookshelf. He snatched the statue off the shelf and stuffed it into his backpack just as Small spilled through the window.
“Kill the lights,” he demanded.
Lucian commanded the lights and television off, and the two were surrounded in darkness again.
“I got it, let’s go,” said Lucian.
“Too late,” hissed Small. “You took too long. Where’s that evac?” he said into his radio.
“Few minutes out,” replied Gold.
Small cursed, and at that moment Lucian heard what had spooked Small. A silent, electric whir surrounded them. It grew steadily louder and hovered over the apartment building.
“What is that?” asked Lucian, catching the worried look in Small’s eyes.
“ACUs. Aerial Combat Units.” Small chuckled. “We must have really gotten under their skin if they’re sending out one of these.”
Small and Lucian approached the window and looked out. Lucian saw the small shadow hovering in the air. It looked too small for an aircraft. Small grabbed Lucian by the arm and jerked him away from the window, and they ran for the couch. They dove over the backside of the couch as a barrage of gunfire rained through the window, filling the living room walls with holes.
The assault shredded everything in the living room. Lucian tucked his chin into his chest and curled into the fetal position. When the gunfire abated, Small yanked Lucian to his feet.
“Let’s go!” he yelled as they ran for the front door.
Small kicked the door out of the doorjamb and found a GenRep waiting on the other side. Small put his Desert Eagle to the GenRep’s forehead before it could react and sent it crashing backwards to the floor.
They barreled down the steps of the complex and met two more GenReps in the lobby. Lucian and Small each took care of one. They could still hear the electric hovering of the ACU outside. Just outside the entryway, a shadow filled the lamplit street as the ACU descended. The oversized robot formed a rough shape of a man but did not have skin coverings like the GenReps. One large blue eye glowed in the middle of its “head”. The ACU readied two mounted Gatling guns, and Small screamed in frustration.
Sparks flashed across the ACU’s body, and it took to the air again as a black SUV screeched to a halt with Gold hanging out the passenger window laying down covering fire with a machine gun.
Lucian and Small crashed through the front doors of the apartment building and threw themselves into the back seats. Genevieve sat in the driver’s seat and pulled a quick U-turn, fishtailing down the icy road. Grey Wolfe sat in the very back seat with a splint wrapped around his right leg. Gold, Small, and Pyro all fired upon relentless groups of GenReps in pursuit as they sped through the city streets.
As they neared the outskirts of the city thinking they were in the clear, a slew of bullets rang against the back end of the SUV.
“That ACU’s back,” screamed Small. “Get us out of here!”
“It’s too fast,” said Genevieve.
“I got it,” said Pyro crawling into the back. When he reappeared, he had a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher with him. He crawled back up to the middle seats. “Open the roof,” he said to Gold.
The roof of the SUV folded back onto itself, and Pyro stood up and took aim at the ACU. The Gatling guns silenced, and a metallic thunk sounded from a forearm barrel on the ACU. The unseen bomb exploded in the road ahead of them, causing Genevieve to swerve violently in order to miss the gaping hole that it left. Pyro crashed into Small.
“Strap me in,” cried Pyro.
Small grabbed a harness from the floorboard, and he and Lucian worked to strap Pyro as securely as possible to the seat. Pyro steadied himself as more mortars blasted holes around the speeding vehicle. He stared through the scope, trying to lock onto his target.
“This wouldn’t have happened if you had just listened to me, boss,” Pyro said to Small.
“Oh, shut up, Pyro,” replied Small. “Just take that thing down.”
The targeting computer indicated that it had a solid lock. Pyro squeezed the trigger, and large clawed bullet shot out of the barrel. The barbed tips lodged into the chest cavity of the ACU. A small diamond-tipped drill bit worked through the hardened exoskeleton. A small, mechanical arm then inserted a tiny silver ball into the hole.
Just before the EMP detonated, one more thunk escaped from the ACU’s forearm. The ACU fell silently to the pavement, and sparks flew as it scraped to a halt. A blue ball of electricity then erupted in front of the SUV.
All of the lights in the vehicle faded to darkness as they drove through the electric field. The vehicle crawled to a stop. The crew sat in utter darkness for a moment before Small spoke up.
“Command, this is Fire team Alpha,” he said into his radio. “Do you copy?”
“Command, this is Fire team Alpha. Do you copy?”
“Command, come in. This is Fire team Alpha. Do you copy?”
Not even static sounded through the radio. Small growled.
“Great. That EMP knocked out all our equipment. We can’t contact HQ, and we’re hours from base. Not to mention, we can’t stay here long. They’ll track down the last location of that ACU. We won’t stand a chance then.”
Everyone exited the vehicle, and Gold and Pyro emptied it of any remaining weapons. Grey Wolfe hobbled on his good leg, supported by Small.
“Just couldn’t wait to blow that trap, could you, Pyro?” Wolfe muttered.
“How was I supposed to know you were going to stop and make a suicide stand against those GenReps,” justified Pyro. “And besides, I saved this whole group. We’re all lucky I set up that perimeter. We’d all be toast if it weren’t for me.”
“You didn’t have to try to blow up Wolfe, though,” said Gold.
Pyro looked at Gold with his mouth hanging open. “You’re the one that kept screaming, ‘Blow it up! Blow it up! They’re gonna kill us if you don’t.’ You big wuss.”
Gold punched Pyro in the shoulder, knocking him over onto the ground.
“Enough. We need to find some shelter,” said Small. “Dr. Morgan should be able to find us using our last location. Let’s set up a camp down the road. I’ll take the first watch.”