Monday, March 03, 2008

"Continuity Core," CTC, pt. 6, 440 words

Pathetic, really. The plasma torches would have been a definite threat if they had come in higher numbers, overwhelming the team’s ability to clear them before they got close enough. While Rijn had no desire to have her feet burned off at the ankle followed by her face, these tactics showed the DI’s limitations. If this was the best it could think of…

Rijn paused once more, holding up her hand to stop the others. Listening carefully, she thought she had heard something more, beyond the whine and hum of the drones’ treads… With a thought, she upped the gain on her earbug and filtered out the drones’ noises.

There. A steady, steady clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk of feet, heavy like a tall fat man, but with a sound like metal… Steel soles? No, four feet moving in perfect unison, too perfect, and just too fast to be so steady a human gait unless there were a pair of six-foot obese parade marchers in steel boots hurrying themselves along from somewhere. It was hard to tell the direction; the sensor baffling built into the building’s walls didn’t soundproof the place very well, but had the intended effect of confusing from where the sound came.

Walker nearby,” she said quietly, dropping her hearing back to normal. So much for silence. Rather pointless, really, except for the fact that it kept people from distracting themselves. “Intel was wrong, there’s a fabricator here.”

“Oh hell,” Mudry muttered. A working fabricator could mean anything in the hands of a rogue DI. “What does traffic control need a fabber for?”

Rijn reloaded her gun with a fresh clip, armor piercing, and popped the chambered round from the previous clip of regular slugs. Caseless ammo meant no dealing with spent casings, but clearing the chamber had become a manual affair.

“Don’t know,” she said, “but keep your eyes open. It could come from any—”

A nearby door jerked open, and a massive figure bulled through. Four spidery legs protruded from a rounded central body, a perfect ovoid of black ceramic casing. The machine didn’t even stop to evaluate the situation, but rushed towards them immediately. It had no visible sensors, but the body split open along the equator and its lower half descended until there was a half-foot gap.

Two gun barrels extended from the gap and tracked around until they aimed directly for Rijn and Mudry. Both dodged sideways as the guns opened up, but there was no cover to dive behind. The door that the walker had come through had been the only open one they’d encountered so far, and that had closed back up already.

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