Sunday, March 02, 2008

"Continuity Core," CTC, pt. 5, 389 words

“You’re sick,” Mudry said, trotting a few steps to catch back up.

“None of this body’s systems are compromised by virus or bacteria,” Mike answered.

“Funny. The ‘over-literal robot’ routine. You know what I mean.”

“Knock it off, you two,” Rijn said. She pointed down the hall. “There’s a turning up ahead that looks like it should lead deeper in. Assume operational silence.”

Mike nodded and Mudry just settled into silence. Rijn came up to the turning and paused to peek cautiously around the corner. Just more hallway. She gestured for the other two to come forward, and stepped forth herself.

Rijn held up her hand, and all three stopped. She cocked her head, closing her eyes and listening carefully. After a moment, Mudry thought he heard what she was listening to: the whine of multiple drones’ treads, from ahead and behind. She’d always had sharper ears.

She pointed to herself, then forward, and then to Mudry and back. He nodded and half-turned to watch behind them. Rijn drew her pistol and peered forward into the murky darkness.

More than a dozen drones raced out of the darkness from each direction, backs folded open and waldos extended. Most of them had only the basic tool package, and probably wouldn’t be able to pierce any of the team members’ boots. Two coming from ahead and three from behind, however, had none of the regular tools. Instead, each bore a compact cylindrical device nearly identical to the cutting torch on Mudry’s hip, with a small gas cylinder attached. Their tips glowed painfully bright in the dimness, almost violet.

“Plasma torches,” Mudry yelled, and opened fire immediately. His first shot connected, blowing the torch apart on one of the drones and sending it skittering wildly into another one. Two more precision shots and the other drones with plasma torches were disarmed.

Rijn had fired upon her incoming drones as well, missing twice but stopping or destroying the two that had torches. Then the others were amongst them, but their telescoping arms couldn’t reach quite to any of the team members’ knees. In a move almost contemptuously easy, Rijn kicked one aside and dropped it on its back. It bent and flexed to right itself while she kicked forward through the rest humming around her feet, and the other two followed her example.

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