Atlas: Infinity Verge Trilogy: Book II (6 page)

BOOK: Atlas: Infinity Verge Trilogy: Book II
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Breaker rose from the command deck and made his way back to his own office, the former captain’s quarters and the former office of Mercury Frinz.

 

* * * *

 

The EXO Prime watched as his shuttle tore through the atmosphere. There was a certain beauty in the destruction of something that could mend itself.

The atmosphere of Eden is beautiful
, he decided.

The heat of the re-entry blared on the shuttle’s alarms. He ignored them, even if there was a breach in the hull everyone on board was EXO; they had no need to breathe. He considered the need to breathe an inconvenience and a flaw. Part of him still remembered being the Auron Intellis - the AI in control of the Quintarrans - trapped on the cursed planet Quintar V.

He did not have full control then, he could not compel the people to do as he bid, but he could shut off their nanites. It would not kill them immediately, but it was an effective tool to frighten them all. The AI was inferior to what he was now. Now, he was the EXO Prime.

The EXO Prime was free from the trap of Quintar V, free from the inconvenience of life, and he was free from being controlled.

Was he free from control?
The thought entered his head and he squashed it vehemently.

The ship shuddered and shook, and he casually glanced at the Transteel viewer to garner an idea of what caused the turbulence. The system reported the forward deflector shield had just been lost. He willed the system to give more information. His unique nanites allowed him to control the entirety of the shuttle as well as the Infinity still in orbit. His connection to all EXOs was bolstered by the communications system aboard the Infinity - his flagship and the largest carrier in the Quintar Prime and surrounding systems.

The EXO Prime had strategically placed communications nodes at various points in the system to ensure he would maintain control over the EXOs. His network of spies and infiltrators reported to him in near real time. Due to the distances there was some delay, but the quantum comms nodes did their job well. He feared what would happen if the EXOs did not have his control.

Fear?
He thought in something akin to anger,
I do not feel fear.

His introspection was allowing Alek to rise to the surface again. Vale was weak and pitiful. If he controlled the body, the EXOs would be beaten. Noting this, he crushed Alek Vale and shoved the consciousness into the recesses of his mind and locked the door.

The shuttle broke through the last of the upper atmospheric clouds and began the slow descent to the surface. By his calculations, this should bring them to the ground in approximately two hours. That was well enough. He had a mission for Breaker Jones and he was becoming impatient. Abel had eluded his grasp and then disappeared on Quintar IV, the one place he was unable to bring his EXOs to bear, but he had other contacts.

The Remnant and the EFNF managed to protect their planet. So he would draw Abel out. To do that, he would have Breaker strike at the humans on the various worlds and systems where they made their new homes. Then, only then, would he be able to draw Abel from hiding. If he failed in this he could call in a favor, but he did not want to make that call. As the shuttle shuddered one last time it slowed its pace. The EXO Prime grinned.

 

* * * *

 

Breaker did not so much hear, as he felt the EXO Prime’s shuttle break through the upper atmosphere. Surprisingly, Joop and Ark had managed to navigate the snow covered trail. They had arrived in time, but their Snowduster would likely never run again. Breaker did not care enough to worry about it. Many of the machines on Eden could not survive the cold. It was a miracle that the ion drive of the Svetlana still functioned enough to provide power to the makeshift base. There was not much on Eden that still had power, but the old tanker would probably outlast them all. One thing Breaker could say about Mercury is that he had been efficient.

Donning a thick leather jacket and strapping on a plasma pistol and an old projectile revolver, Breaker left the office. He exited and met up with Joop and Ark. The trio walked through the corridors of the ship with grim determination. The others Breaker had summoned were either lost in the snow or decided they did not want to leave Eden. That left Breaker, Joop, Ark, Cat, and Tymon as the only available crew. The others would be replaced by EXOs.

Breaker hoped that the ship was smaller than some destroyer or freighter - like the shuttle entering Eden’s atmosphere now. Breaker and his crew filed out of the main offices of the Svetlana and exited the main airlock. To avoid the staggering temperatures outside, they remained in the airlock until they had confirmation of the shuttle’’s touchdown. Breaker figured it would only be a few minutes, and he had taken his time gathering everyone while he wait for Joop and Ark’s arrival.

The shuttle roared as he came to a touch down less than 20 meters away from the Svetlana. Despite the harrowing cold the majority of his small crew scattered away from the airlock exit. The heat from the shuttle’s thrusters was a bit much and heated the doors of the airlock. Soon the crew moved away from the exit and waited while the outside cold cooled the doors. After a few moments there was a chirp at the door - an alert that someone was requesting entry. Breaker broke from the rest of the crew and moved to the portal. It was still warm in the area, but was cooling quickly. He depressed the release and allowed the hatch to rotate open.

“Commander,” the mechanical voice came above the chaotic whirl of wind and snow. “You are requested aboard the EXO Prime’’s shuttle. Bring your crew, we will not return.” The intonation of the EXO was monotonous and electronic, but the creature itself was something to behold.

Breaker watched the EXO as they moved. It wore no hood or covering for its face. The dark blue skin indicated it had once been Quintarran.

A small bit of electronic wiring led from the back of its neck into the back of either arm. A sheen of sweat or some sort of liquid glazed its hairless head and arms, the only parts of its body fully exposed to the elements. The viscous fluid covering the EXO did not freeze in the sub-zero temperatures. Breaker wore thermal gloves and a balaclava, which he had pulled up over his nose. The other members of his crew were similarly garbed. Breaker chanced a glance at the others and noted their uneasiness; the slimy EXO was more than they were prepared for. They continued following the EXO for a few remaining meters to the shuttle.

As they approached, the EXO raised a glistening arm, his hand balled into a fist. Breaker understood they were to stop. However, Baxter continued walking and nearly collided with the EXO. He stopped short as his eyes filled with the form of the blue creature standing still in front of him.

Breaker almost chuckled as he watched Cat buckle and stumble backward. Looking around his eyes had that sense of wildness that one gets when confronted with a frightening situation. Breaker put both hands out in front of him and slowly motioned them downward. He tried to calm Baxter before he panicked and ran off into the blizzard around them. Seeming to take the hint, Baxter Perez took a shaky but deep breath. Breaker watched as the panic fled from his eyes.

The EXO had not turned and waited patiently in the biting cold as if it were a summer day. Breaker felt resentment rise up in him. He knew - at least in part - that the EXO was toying with them.

After a brief pause, the shuttle airlock cycled and spun open. The massive shuttle had been mostly obscured by the blizzard around them, but Breaker knew it easily held a battalion of EXOs, if not more. The ship itself was no less than twenty meters wide and at least twice that in height. The blockiness of the vessel indicated a very ordered mind and one certainly inhuman.

Breaker decided the landing vessel was the personnel carrier of the EXO Prime. It meant that the EXOs were planning to begin invasions with the Prime at their head. The shuttle’s flight through the thick atmosphere despite the growing storm belied its use even more so. The crew was led to quarters aboard the shuttle. They wouldn’t be in quarters long.

The EXO indicated that Breaker should follow him. Despite his uneasiness, he could feel a sort of tug towards the command deck. He knew it was the EXO Prime. The thought made his blood feel like the air outside, cold and thick. The EXO Prime had come personally to retrieve him. He did not know whether to be honored or insulted.

“The EXO Prime is here, on the transport?” Breaker asked.

The creature stopped and turned to face Breaker. The look he received chilled his blood further. It was one thing to feel the pull of the EXO Prime, it was another thing entirely to feel his gaze through another. Something told him he had not enamored either the EXO Prime or his subordinate with his questions. He was realizing more and more it was his lot to listen and obey rather than to question. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

The EXO continued its pace unabated. Breaker could do nothing but follow, so that is what he did. After a few more turns the EXO stopped and put up a hand indicating Breaker should remain, then it left. Breaker watched it go. The glistening of its skin was less now that they were indoors.

Must be some sort of insulation fluid, or something
, he thought.

He did not have to wait long before the EXO Prime called from the chamber in front of him. “Enter.”

Breaker obeyed and stepped through the threshold. The doors snapped shut behind him giving him a bit of a start. He looked around and noticed Alek Vale - the EXO Prime - sat almost languidly behind a desk. He motioned for Breaker to approach. Breaker did so.

“Do you know why I decided to come in person Breaker?” the EXO Prime asked.

“No.” Breaker said, trying not to grumble.

“I need a face no one recognizes. I’ve created a replica of the
Kodiak
, it is a gunship and it has quantum plating. The primary subterfuge is that it will read as the
Kodiak
on all transponder readings. You are going to wreak havoc in the Quintar Prime system and draw out Abel. Do you understand?” the Prime asked.

“Not really. How did you get the
Kodiak
’s transponder frequency?” Breaker asked.

“I have my means,” he explained.

“Oh,” Breaker said.

The EXO Prime smiled, “That’s what I like about you Breaker. You don’t ask too many questions. Mercury was too ambitious. You are a much better conduit. Malleable, but sturdy. Yes, I will provide the insight. You know the
Kodiak
yes?” he asked and Breaker nodded.

“Good, so you are going to pose as Captain Abel Cain. You, Breaker Jones will commit atrocities with his ship and bring low his reputation,” The EXO Prime seemed to purr.

“If I know the boy, and I am certain I do, he will respond and he will come out of hiding. Then we will strike. Go to the crew berthing area, I will summon you when we’re aboard the Infinity once more.” The Prime had a wicked grin and Breaker Jones was terrified by it. He merely nodded his acquiescence and left for crew berthing.

 

5:
AURORA INTELLIS

 

 

Quintar IV - EFNF Alpha Base: Docks

2973 ESD - Monday, April 19th 15:00 hours

 

"Do you understand the task we have assigned?" the man in the cloak asked her.

"I do," Aurora replied.

Aurora decided she was attractive. It was a vain decision, but one that she felt was necessary to make. The man in the cloak - a Vald - did not comment on her appearance, much to her chagrin. To him she was a tool to be used. Aurora did not dislike the Vald, but she had no interest in them as a woman has an interest in a man.

How could she?
Aurora thought.

The Vald were hideous by human or Quintarran standards. Their multiple limbed, segmented bodies spoke of insectile origins. She worked with the Vald because they gave her what she needed: shelter, food, and purpose. She could not remember how long she had worked with the Vald. Aurora could only remember serving them for centuries.

She left the room with the Vald. The sickly creature and its spindly limbs had motioned for her to do so. She had been given a mission and she was expected to follow it. Aurora obliged. She was the new age of their creation, better than the Auron Intellis, but taken from it and built anew.

The Auron Intellis - or AI - was the first of the Vald artificial intelligences. They had gifted one to the Quintarrans. Although the Quintarrans still believed they had developed the AI. The Vald were content to let the Quintarrans believe in their own ingenuity, it allowed them to remain hidden. The Vald preferred to work in the shadows. They had lived in the shadows for centuries, remaining hidden from the ever inquisitive Quintarrans. Aurora did not care what they wanted with Abel, but she would follow their orders.

The room at the end of the hall was hers. The spaceport on Quintar IV was a large place and so several bars, taverns, and hotels had been erected. This kept the people from congregating in the main city and causing congestion around the production facilities. She approached the room and entered. It was not a lavish room, but it was well furnished. Aurora enjoyed the room, although she did not need most of its furnishings. She considered what the Auron Intellis would have enjoyed.

It was the Auron Intellis that enslaved the Quintarrans to provide the Vald with the means to control an army. Sadly the influence of the AI was not enough and the Quintarrans managed to enslave it within a sort of chrysalis. Abel had broken that chrysalis and freed the AI, but he had also worked to free the Quintarrans. The latter was something that displeased the Vald. Aurora understood what the Vald wished to accomplish. Understanding galactic domination was easy. However, she did not understand how they wished to go about it.

BOOK: Atlas: Infinity Verge Trilogy: Book II
11.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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