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Authors: Joseph Picard

AZU-1: Lifehack (32 page)

BOOK: AZU-1: Lifehack
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But no conversation was
offered.

The air splintered with the sounds of
hate as Parker systematically shredded Erebus, and every one of the
newly created zombies. The sound of the zipper gun seemed to go on
endlessly. If the blood Erebus had spilled from the soldiers was a
horrible sight, then this was just stomach turning. Only after
Parker ceased fire did he really see what he had done.

The sounds of the engines seemed
deafening against the silence of those on board.


Well... I guess we should
go down and confirm.” Alisia said. They assumed a hovering
position, much like the Lancer airlimb, but on the other side, and
not above the nanite-trap floor. Regan and Alisia stood on the edge
of the airlimb bay floor while Parker looked at the mess through
his scope. The girls didn’t dare go near the trapped roof of the
building. Alisia used a scope to look at Erebus close up. Enough of
his face was still visible. Most of the rest of his head had been
torn to shreds.

Regan looked for the last time into the
face of the man who had killed her brother, and most of the
residents of Autar. She wished she could make him
deader.


Yeah,” Alisia sighed, “He’s
dead. Kris, contact local authorities. We’re going to evacuate the
building and try to do a controlled burn of the roof.”

With a sudden growing hum, the Lancer
airlimb bucked back to life and began to rise.


Kris! Talk to whoever’s
flying that thing!!” Alisia yelled into her comm.


AZU-1 to unidentified
airlimb. Respond.” Kris said.


Hello AZU-1”, came Erebus’
voice, “This is ‘unidentified airlimb’, here. What’s your sign?
Over.”

Kris didn’t recognize the voice at
first, but Regan and Alisia both closed their eyes in a frustrated
moment of exasperation. Jonathan Coll’s body was certainly dead,
but ‘Erebus’ was alive in the systems of the Lancer
airlimb.


Unidentified airlimb,” Kris
started, “Please identify yourself and prepare to be escorted to
Yute base.”


Ah, negative AZU-1, chew my
knob. I have things to do.” The Lancer airlimb began to rise
again.


Parker!” Alisia yelled,
“Take him down!”

Parker opened fire again. Shots dented
the exterior and fragments bounced around in the exposed bay, but
it wasn’t stopped. It began to get some distance.


Kris, keep us in optimal
firing range. Parker, keep the heat on! Regan, get to the other
zipper gun, just in case.”


Damn” Erebus thought, “I
should have jumped my mind into some heavy machinery long ago!”
Sure, it was a bit disconcerting to look down at your own mutilated
corpse, but hey, it’s a new era. Why cling to old bodies when you
have a new shiny ass-kicking one? Granted an airlimb isn’t the
fiercest thing in the sky by a long shot, but it has its uses.
Especially this one, which Lancer conveniently delivered. It had
been outfitted as a mobile nanite lab, which he had filled to the
gills with little techy toys, almost all of which were now at his
disposal.

Mechanisms had already begun moving
about, putting this into that, and pouring those into there, and
soon the onboard lab had assembled and loaded fifty large
canisters.

Now AZU-1 was shooting at him. How
rude. He thought of the zipper gun, and cursed that it needed a
person manning it. He should have moved a couple zombies onboard
before the slaughter. Bullets pounded against Erebus’ hull, making
a resonating sound that irritated him through nearly all the
sensors at his disposal.

Oh wait.. what was that noise? That
ominous hummmmmmm....... He’d heard that before, and he did not
like it. He had to launch the canisters now. Damn, three had been
damaged by enemy fire. It looked like forty seven would have to be
the lucky number.

Alisia kept the Lancer airlimb in her
sights as the Bad Mojo fragmenting rail launcher charged up.
Suddenly, a stream of objects poured out of the top of the Lancer
airlimb. Alisia paused- was this damage? No.. this was bad. She
snapped a decision, and squeezed the mojo’s trigger. The air split
and the Lancer airlimb’s bay was wrenched nearly in half, bits
flying out on the far side. Like a snake hit by a shotgun. A minor
explosion erupted out of it as it began to fall.


Shit, it’s gonna fall into
the city!” Parker gasped.

Alisia had hoped it would explode, and
maybe take out the canisters, but they’d been tossed clear already.
Then her fear and suspicions were confirmed.


Major,” Kris reported,
“Those canisters. They’re transmitting. They’re nanite
servers.”

As this sank in, the canisters were
falling over a wide, wide area, and they streamed out a wispy smoke
of nanites.


Shoot them down!” Alisia
ordered. Parker and Regan opened fire, many of the canisters now
visible from Regan’s side.

They fell, and soon were crossing the
horizon. “Don’t..... don’t be afraid to fire into the city. Hitting
a civilian is better than them being infected.” Alisia collapsed to
her knees, hearing her last order resonating in her head. She knew
it was the right call, but .... this was worse than killing a fresh
zombie, one that looked and bled like a human... this... this was
just horrible. She looked over her shoulder and saw Regan, as her
grip on the zipper’s controls loosened and she slumped
down.

Parker heard Regan’s zipper stop
firing, and let go as well.


I.... think I might have
gotten one. They’re fast, and small. I....”

Jonathan “Erebus” Coll descended across
the city, a mind with forty seven bodies, and billions of children.
And he planned the fall of Meston.

~~~~~

Chapter 49: An Ascent

~~~~~

While strategists and officials fussed
and planned, and tried to think of what to do, AZU-1 was ordered to
fly back to Yute base and rest. “When we have a plan, you can bet
you’ll be spearheading it. When that time comes, I want you ready.”
The General’s orders were clear. Alisia’s muscles and eyelids
didn’t argue.

Despite this, Alisia found herself
staring at the ceiling of her room aboard the airlimb, unable to
sleep. She saw in her mind the zipper rounds flying towards the
city. They’d stopped firing before much damage or injury could have
been done, but it still agonized her. She imagined a handful of
zipper rounds flying into someone’s kitchen window and fragmenting,
and the bloody screaming of a worst case scenario.

Regan emerged from her room, intent on
going to Alisia’s. As she took the few steps across the hall, she
peered around the corner towards the mess area. She saw Parker and
Kris sitting quietly in the dim light, staring at their coffee
mugs. So, even the mighty Kris was affected. Unimportant. On to
Alisia.

She slid Alisia’s door open and closed
it behind her. She shuffled over to Alisia on her bed. Alisia
quietly composed herself, and spoke in a steady, deliberate
tone.


I’m not in the mood for
your non-“

Regan grabbed Alisia’s teddy bear
angrily, flopped down onto Alisia and held her tight. Alisia felt
Regan’s body tremble softly, on the edge of crying. Alisia held her
as platonically as possible.


Regan, what’s wrong?” As it
left her lips, Alisia realized what a stupid question it was.
What’s right?


He’s not dead, is he?”
Regan’s voice was in that ‘defenseless little girl’ tone that
Alisia had heard once or twice before.

Alisia strained for a way to answer
that sounded positive. “His body is.. we just.. we just have to
deal with what’s left.”


Those people.. in
Meston....”


I know. We’ll do what we
can.”


No, you don’t know. If
you’d been in Autar back then....and it’s going on right now..”
Regan squeezed her love tightly.

Alisia had no reply, and just squeezed
the terrified little girl. Those eggheads had better come up with
something good. Something better than nuking Meston.

While officials in Meston tried
desperately to hunt down the nanite servers, they inhaled the
microscopic invaders, and slowly became the enemy.

Two thirds of the population became
zombies. Fresh and unwounded zombies. Erebus willed them to rot
unnaturally quick so that they would look the part. Many calmly
attacked each other, ripping redundant flesh and spilling unneeded
blood. Proper zombies can’t go walking around looking like yuppies,
can they?

These zombies were notably organized
and under Erebus’ direct control. Wordlessly they herded the
‘untouched’ third of the population. Hostages.

When Erebus was convinced he had
everyone in the city where he wanted them, his voice came from
every zombie at once.


Greetings, people of
Meston. I am the one who took Autar. I have now taken you. You may
call me God.”

~~~~~

Chapter 50: Erika

~~~~~

Erika awoke. What had happened to her
city? It was so fast. She had been taken to a school gymnasium with
a few hundred others, guided by a few thousand corpses.

She didn’t have a gun. No one did. Even
if she did, would shooting at the zombies do any good? They weren’t
hurting anyone but each other at this point anyway. This situation
wasn’t quite like Autar. Anyone who’d tuned into the news in the
last two years would be able to tell that much.

She knew she had to get out of there.
She had a purpose. Someone would come. Someone would. They had to.
It was inevitable. She had to find them. She had a purpose. She had
a purpose.

~~~~~

Chapter 51: As a
Sledgehammer

~~~~~

Alisia awoke, blissfully forgetful for
a split second about what had happened to Meston.

The hum of the airlimb engines eased
her to back to reality. Peeking at the clock, she assessed they
must be close to Yute base. There would be a lot of important
people, very upset and worried. People barking orders around, half
of them probably trying to figure out if they might be blamed for
the whole mess.

The moments of waking blessed her with
momentary forgetfulness about such things. She yawned and noticed
Regan’s hand dangling around her side. Just sort of flopped there.
She was getting ready to yell at Regan when memory
returned.

She had after all, given Regan
permission to crash with her. (Above the covers, thank you very
much.) She just wanted to stop Regan’s crying. It didn’t work so
well. But she was quiet right now. Alisia sat up and looked down at
Regan. She looked so peaceful, but they’d be at Yute
soon.


Regan, get up.” Her voice
was heavy with sleep. “Regan.”

Regan stirred, and her hand moved
innocently into Alisia’s lap. That tore it. She tossed Regan’s hand
back at her. “Hey! Wake up!”

Regan’s head rose and she wiped her
face of the drool on one corner of her mouth, trying to not look
like a total dork in front of her beloved.

Soon, they emerged into the hall, to
run into Kris.


Ha!” Kris scoffed, “Did you
girls have a nice ‘nap’? Is this really the time for
that?”


We’re not-“ Alisia sighed.
“What do you have to report, Kris?”

Regan excused herself. “Gonna go for a
shower. I’m just all... ooh, sweaty.”

Alisia rolled her eyes. “So,
Kris?”


Nothing much. We’ll be at
Yute any minute. You must have gotten her into a good mood, if she
didn’t spit at me on sight.”


Nothing happened,
Captain,” Major Alisia Terone told her subordinate scornfully. But
despite her authority, Alisia felt the need so add further
explanation, almost under her breath. “I’m not a lesbian,
remember?” Alisia hoped it would end the discussion.


Me neither,” Kris agreed,
“I’m bi. Flat out lesbianism.. so... Limiting!” She tossed her
hands in the air to emphasize her point.


Look, I’m not bi either.
I’m just straight.”


Got a problem with being
gay?”

Alisia regretted ever bringing it up at
all. “Kris, I’m fine with people who are gay, I just want it known
that I am not.”


No no, Major, What I asked
was, do you have a problem with being gay?”

Alisia snapped back- “What? Yes!
Because I’m not.”

Kris smirked. “Ah, I know where you’re
at. You grew up assuming you’re straight. Now if you begin to
question that, ya feel like you’re questioning who you are. It’s
not who you are, just who you do!” Kris giggled her practiced
giggle, and walked off.

Alisia shook her head at headed towards
the showers. She stopped as she got close. Damn. Regan was in the
women’s shower.

She stood for a little while and the
crossroads between the two shower rooms, staring at the lettering
on the wall. Two words, each with an arrow pointing opposite
directions. “Men” “Women”

Maybe she could grab a quick shower in
the men’s. She stepped a bit closer, and heard water running in
both directions. Parker must be in the men’s. Ok, fine. She’d have
a shower later, no biggie. She turned around and started walking
away. She paused and looked back.

BOOK: AZU-1: Lifehack
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