Steel, Part Three

Posted: May 30, 2009 in Fiction, Steel

So I’ve been pretty busy lately. I had a job interview, and it went pretty well. They say they just need to process my paperwork and I take that as a good sign. Hopefully I’ll hear back from them by Thursday. I have a bunch of new videos up on my Youtube page. Some of them are me, but all of them are pretty cool. I got to hang out with my next door neighbor finally, and she is pretty awesome. My sleep schedule is pretty well wrecked right now, but I can get that fixed soon. Anyway, enjoy the next installment of Steel.

Wade ticked off the seconds as he waited for Sally to finish rebooting. They must have hit us with some sort of electromagnetic pulse weapon, he thought as he drew a KA-BAR knife from a sheath on his armrest. The flat black of the wicked looking blade rendered it almost invisible in the dim light of Sally’s instrumentation. Once upon a time, Wade had doubted the engineers for not including an actual view screen in the cockpit. Since Sally’s eyes became his anyway, a monitor wasn’t absolutely necessary. As he listened to the tortured screech of Sally’s armor failing under the onslaught of a cutting instrument, he counted his blessings: No monitor meant there would be no loss of vision when his compartment was breached. A warm glowing line formed just left of the center of the front of the chamber. He needed three more minutes before Sally could move, and he didn’t have it.

“I’m almost through!” yelled the camo-clad figure wielding the power saw. One of the remaining three crooks sauntered over and unslung a bag from his back. It hit the ground with a heavy thunk. The two remaining men took turns firing potshots at the cops and the news helicopter. “Get out the Jaws-of-Life. I’ve got us a hole.”

Sparks flooded Sally’s cockpit, and Wade squeezed his eyes shut. This was bad enough without getting shavings of whatever glittering alloy Sally was made of in his eyes. Two minutes. This was going to get hairy. He unbuckled his harness and leaned as far to the right as he could. In the near darkness, he saw a pair of worn steel prongs enter the slash in Sally’s body. He heard someone say, “Alright, start it up,” followed by the sound of an air-compressor kicking on. If the noise was any indication, it was an extremely compact model but it was apparently powerful enough to do the job. Sally’s carapace creaked as the pneumatic prongs forced the gash open. Wade tensed, waiting. One minute left. “Ok, let’s have a look,” the saw-wielder said. The splinter of light went dark as he pressed his face to the hole.

“See anything?” his companion asked. Gunfire still echoed from the other two men, as they unloaded staccato bursts of metal into the police positions.

“It’s dark, but there are some red lights. I can’t make out anything.”

“Let me look,” the other man said. He climbed up to the hole. He pressed his face into the darkness and cupped his gloved hands to block out the light. “I think I see a—” Wade twisted at that moment and drove the point of the KA-Bar into the man’s eye socket with an overhand left. The point speared through his face and lodged in the frontal bone of his skull. He jerked back with an ear-splitting howl, clutching at the handle. “Ohgodohgodohgod, it’s stuck!” He collapsed backward off of Sally’s prone frame and fell to the floor, still writhing and screaming. The other man stood straight up in shock, but quickly recovered and shouldered his rifle. Inside Sally, Wade watched the startup progress. Twenty seconds. The saw-wielder returned to a crouch and poked the barrel of the rifle into the hole. As he squeezed the trigger, Wade reached out and grabbed the barrel. The gun fired, and Wade’s vision went white. The bullet burst through the back of his hand even as he shoved the gun out. The man outside toppled backward and slid off of Sally. Wade screamed through clenched teeth. The bullet had blown through his hand and his shoulder. Blood poured out of the trio of holes, soaking his jumpsuit. The world started to come back into focus. Ten seconds. The uninjured man on the floor recovered his footing and started to mount Sally again.

“Where the hell is our ride?” He shouted. “There’s a fucking pig in here!” He remained standing this time, and let loose a burst of metal into the breached cockpit.

“Six blocks and closing. Get over here. This ain’t exactly a bus stop. We gotta jump it!” shouted one of the gunmen. He rolled his shoulder to keep the black duffel bag full of cash in place. All three of them looked back as the heap of metal shifted and rose to its full height. Ceiling panels clattered to the ground and the supporting framework was torn asunder as the sensor cluster pressed upward. Sally’s claws whined and clicked as they flexed like an angry wrestler and mechanical shoulders rolled.

Minutes ago, Iris had been frozen on the couch as the news helicopter bobbed up and down outside the bank building. As she watched, she wasn’t focused on how difficult holding the chopper steady was under those circumstances; she was squinting and trying to make out details from the scene. The reporter in the vehicle kept prattling on about Sally, but all she was doing was repeating how little she knew. Iris could make out a rifle, but she didn’t see it fire. As Sally collapsed in a heap near the burning cop car embedded in an interior wall, she sucked in a sharp breath. Five minutes, she thought. Leave him alone for five minutes.

“. . . Seems to be taking out some sort of power tool. It looks like a saw. I think they are going to try to cut the machine open,” the reporter said. A shower of sparks shot out and away when the blade contacted the shell, and the camera went dark as the auto-focus tried to adjust to the light. Seconds ticked by as slowly as years. Iris didn’t dare blink. She hit the display button on the remote and checked the time. Two minutes left. The man with the saw had stopped, and another was pulling out a jaws-of-life. Iris’ jaw clenched.

“Be careful, Wade,” She whispered. The men were forcing the wound in Sally’s armor open and taking turns looking into the hole. The news chopper was maneuvering around like crazy, making it hard to decipher the proceedings, but she could still see one of the men pitch backward and disappear behind Sally’s inert mass. His companion shouldered a rifle and fired into the hole, then fell backward. “Shit!” Iris grunted, and bolted for her computer. She flashed down the hallway, and into the bedroom. She collided with her chair and it rolled her up to the desk, spinning. She mashed the keyboard with one hand, and fumbled around with a nest of wires with the other. The monitor blinked on as she untangled a cable from the nest and plugged it into the USB port. She fished out the other end and felt around for the plug behind her ear. She was really going to be in trouble later, but she didn’t care. She slid the plug in, and started up the remote operations client on her computer. Red text filled her vision, and a vital sign monitor opened in the lower right of her field of view. She was no doctor, but the flashing text that read “Alert!” was enough to confirm her fears. Sally was booted up, but Wade wasn’t giving her instructions.

Iris concentrated, and her fingers flew over the keyboard. Sally shifted and stood up. She heard the crooks say something about a ride being on its way over the din of her crashing the sensor cluster through the ceiling. She flexed the robot’s arms as the cheap paneling fell to the floor in a cloud of dust and debris. Sally’s vision became Iris’s and she spoke. “You aren’t going anywhere,” she breathed.

I’ve come to terms with running out of steam at dramatic moments. I do wish I was writing this faster. I’ve decided to try and guilt myself into working harder on it using some time-tracking software. We’ll see how that works out. As I mentioned before, my circadian rhythm is in defib. It’s 4 AM, and I should probably hit the hay.

  1. Sylvera says:

    I likes it. Now I must sleep!!!!

  2. Roberta says:

    You are crushing my climax! I am unsatisfied with what could have been but I like where it was going!

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