Read AZU-1: Lifehack Online

Authors: Joseph Picard

AZU-1: Lifehack (36 page)

BOOK: AZU-1: Lifehack
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Ow damn.” Parker pulled an
inch long piece of wood out of his shoulder, it being one of the
few parts of him exposed from behind his gun and scope.


You okay Parker?” Kris
said.


Yeah, it’s nothing. Gonna
need a bandaid though.”

Another explosive noise struck at that
moment.


What the?”

In the confusion of dodging flying
logs, they’d momentarily forgotten about the incoming airstrike.
The sound was that of the bombing planes streaking by above the
speed of sound.

The bombers were already gone before
anyone realized they were there. The sonic boom hit at the same
time a flourish of genius-missiles appeared over the city. They
idled for a split second, then locked onto their assigned
co-ordinates and began descent.

They watched, breathlessly anticipating
the same display of destruction they saw at Autar, when something
odd happened. All the missiles died at once in the sky over Meston.
Most fell, landing in the outskirts without exploding. A few
detonated in the air.


What the hell?” At the same
time, the lights on the airlimb flickered, and Kris nearly had a
mild heart attack. The airlimb’s computers recovered from a hiccup.
“Geezusfuck! That was an EMP!”

Alisia looked around the Meston
cityscape through the smoke and trails of napalm burning away in
the sky harmlessly. “An EMP? Like from a nuke? Call me nuts, but I
don’t see any nukes going off.”

Brock attempted to offer an explanation
“There has been talk of projects which can create a pulse
without-“


Whatever!” Kris
interrupted, “All I know is that we’re lucky to still be in the sky
after that. Much closer, and I don’t think we would be. I’m taking
this brick back to base before we drop.”

Alisia grunted in the
affirmative.

Brock sighed, deep in thought. He
blinked, and focused on the present for a moment. “I’m going to go
see about Sergeant Parker’s wound. Kris, if you can, try to gather
all the relevant information for me.”

~~~~~

Chapter 58: Closer to Home

~~~~~

After dumping a pile of readings into a
database that Brock could wade through, Kris wandered back to check
on Parker. He’d left his station, so she went to his room and
wandered in without knocking. Brock was on the floor, bleeding and
unconscious. Parker was there, about to lean down over Brock.
Parker saw Kris and stopped, putting his finger to his smiling
lips. “Shhhh.”

It was obvious to Kris, about the
little wound Parker had gotten. She backed up and yelled into her
comm. “Parker is Ereb—“

Regan and Alisia started running.
Alisia ran to check Parker’s Zipper gun, and Regan ran towards his
quarters. Alisia found no one at his gun, and soon heard what she
feared over the comm.


Leesha! Found him!” Regan
sounded like she was in the middle of a fight. “Got no gun! I’ve
fought zombies hand to hand before, but not one with Erebus’ speed!
Hurry! Guns! Kris is KO, Brock might be dead!”

By the time Regan finished, Alisia was
already almost there with her P90 and the Bad Mojo. She rounded the
corner and threw her P90 over Parker/Erebus’ head to Regan. Regan
didn’t fire right away. Partially because it was Parker, and
partially because Alisia would be in the way of any bullets that
missed. This was all the time Erebus needed to use Parker’s hand to
knock the P90 out of Regan’s grip.

Erebus had to make a quick decision.
Kill Regan now or turn around to deal with Alisia, who probably had
another gun aimed at him at that very moment. Deciding an unarmed
Regan was of little threat, he turned to Alisia.

Regan ducked around the corner, so as
not to be in ‘kill zone’ when Alisia used the Bad Mojo.

Alisia looked at the familiar looking
face approaching her, being worn by Erebus. She remembered the
carnage she’d seen the Bad Mojo wreak against fresh zombies. And
she remembered watching her own puppet zombie being ripped apart.
She imagined what it would feel like. She had almost convinced
herself to squeeze the trigger when Erebus struck, trying to knock
the weapon out of her hand. She held on tight.

Instead of being knocked loose, the Bad
Mojo was smashed against the wall, Alisia still holding the handle.
The top third of the weapon shattered off along the ‘barrel’. The
electromagnetic accelerator rails were bare to the air, and the
large, fragmenting shell fell loose from the chamber, onto the
floor.

Poor Parker’s arm didn’t do so well
either. His forearm was bloody and raw. Erebus raised his other arm
to smash Alisia’s skull. Not even seeing this, Alisia reached
forward and mashed her opened weapon against the bloody arm, and
pulled the trigger.

The Bad Mojo’s stored electrical charge
meant for launching projectiles, instead ran through Parker’s arm
and body, frying the nanites that had taken him. Parker fell to the
ground.

Silence.

Alisia bent down cautiously while
Regan’s head peeked out, worried she’d see Alisia dead. “You’re Ok?
And no bloody walls either?”


He’s breathing, he’s
alive.” Alisia said, “We have to get to base decontamination. There
might still be more nanties running around.”

~~~~~

Chapter 59: If it had been

~~~~~


What in blazes was that?”
General Westmore asked the moment Brock came into his
office.


The- the log?” Brock
stammered, gripping a file folder.


Not the log, I already know
about the damned log! What caused that EMP blast? There sure as
heck was no nuke going off!”


Oh! Ah, of course.” Brock
picked a couple printouts from his folder, and rested them on the
General’s big oak desk. “It’s something that’s been under
development by a sister company of AutarLabs in Meston. It actually
uses many similar principles of the mana drive.”


Not another one of
those…!”


No, no. This device, the
‘tightpulse EMP’ has a much more controlled effect than the
hypothetical overload of Autar’s Mana drive. The tightpulse affects
only the electrical reactions of inorganic systems. Just like the
EMP from a nuke. Unlike a nuke, it’s over a second after it’s
triggered. No residual.”

The General sighed. “Meaning what,
tactically?”


Our people are safe from
it, as long as they’re not relying on any electronics to keep them
in one piece, and communications will only be affected for a second
at a time.”


Does that help
us?”


Yessir.”

~~~

A few splinters of wood were found on
and around the airlimb containing active nanites, but all the
people were clean, even Parker. However, he and Brock were rushed
to the nearest hospital, Yute Base only having a minor aid
station.

Brock was already conscious and working
hard before they even got back to base. Parker, however, was still
knocked out. He was now slated for a battery of tests to see if his
mind would recover from the short term nanite infection, and the
electrocution.

Kris was released around the same time
Alisia finished her preliminary report. Soon Kris, Alisia and Regan
were now waiting for Brock’s plan, and all loitered around the area
of Parker’s hospital room.

Alisia quit pacing, and sat next to
Regan on the bench across the hall. She watched as Kris laid her
head down at Parker’s side. Kris had no serious injuries, and
practically got into a fight with a nurse to come see
Parker.

The music drifting in over the hospital
speakers changed to a new song. It was a gentle song Alisia knew
well, and although it was almost too quiet to hear, it seemed to
drown out everything else. She stared blankly forward at Kris, who
held Parker’s hand and wished she’d appreciated him more
earlier.

The music soaked into the weary Alisia.
Without realizing it, she began to silently mouth the words,
singing quietly in her mind.

Regan curled up to Alisia, holding her
arm and watching her lips move to the music. The verse ended, and
Regan squeezed Alisia’s arm a little.

Almost in a trance, Alisia turned her
head and looked into Regan’s eyes, and swallowed hard. Alisia
looked tired, but an undercurrent of thought was almost visible on
her face.


Kris always pushed him
away, kinda.” Alisia said. “Now look at her.” Regan looked back
over to Kris. She was still holding Parker’s hand and resting her
head on the edge of the bed.

Alisia swallowed again, and slowly
stood, reclaiming her arm gently from Regan. She walked over to
Parker and Kris. She put her hand on Kris’s shoulder and softly
spoke. “I’ll be back in a sec. Gonna get some air.” Kris
nodded.

Alisia looked at Regan as she turned
the corner with a strange, steely expression. “If.... if it had
been you...” She glanced back at Parker, turned away, then
disappeared down the hall. Regan decided to follow.

Outside the emergency doors, an
ambulance pulled away into the night. Military people were
scattered about. Regan didn’t see at first where Alisia went, but
soon found her around the corner in a little out of the way alcove
only a few paces away. Alisia had her back to the brick wall, and
her head was bowed slightly down, staring at the ground.


Alisia?” Regan asked,
stepping forward cautiously. Alisia looked up a bit, strands of her
hair grazing across her face. Her eyes were welled up a little, and
she stared right through Regan into nothingness.


What... what’s wrong,
leesha?”

Alisia’s hands formed fists and pressed
against the wall firmly. Tiny bits of the brick flittered down to
the ground. She turned her head and bit her lower lip as if
preparing for an injection. “You... you have to kiss
me.”

Regan stopped cold. Her stance relaxed,
and her breathing stopped. “...what?”


You’re going to have to
kiss me. I can’t kiss you, I can’t. I...” A tear trembled from her
eye, and her breathing edged towards sobbing. “I can’t, you have
to…”

Regan stepped forward more out of
concern than her own wants, and held Alisia’s face up with both
hands. She wiped away Alisia’s tear with her thumb. With a soft but
concerned expression she looked into Alisia’s eyes.
“…really?”

Alisia’s wide eyes looked around a bit
nervously. Panic, fear, self doubt. Regan could feel her jaw
trembling in her hands, then a soft little nod. Regan bit her lip
softly to wet it, leaned in, and placed the softest, kindest, most
perfect kiss she could muster onto Alisia’s lips. Alisia kissed
back and found her arms were already around Regan, so she squeezed
her, and held her closer, moving her head over her shoulder. “Oh my
god.”

Regan stared forward at the wall,
holding Alisia, stunned. “Does this mean...”


I.. I think it
does.”


Oh my god.”


Yeah.” Alisia giggled
softly though her breathing. “Um... One step at a time, though,
kay?”


Of course, oh, of
course...!” Regan sniffled a bit.

They stood together for what seemed
forever. Finally Regan broke the silence. “Do I still get to crash
in your room tonight?”

Alisia let go and laughed. She was
still shaking from the step she’d just taken. She wiped her tears,
folded her hands behind her back, sighed, and strolled back into
the hospital.

Regan stood there, still absorbing what
had just happened. As she drizzled back into reality, she saw a
couple of soldiers looking her way. “Hey! What’re you lookin at?”
She laughed out loud, and went inside.

~~~~~

Chapter 60: Sparks

~~~~~

Kris looked up as Alisia walked back
into the room. Alisia was trembling and smiling, and it looked like
she’s been crying. “Um... Major?”

Alisia sat down and sighed, wiped her
eyes, still with a nervous little smile. “Ahhh, it’s alright
Captain. It’s just been one of those days. Ups and
downs.”

Kris raised an eyebrow. “And just what
the fuck was up about today?”

At that moment Regan sauntered in,
looking to be in a similar condition as Alisia. “Oh.” Kris said,
allowing herself the tiniest bit of a smirk. “I see. Well I take it
congratulations are in order.”

Regan flopped down on an opposite seat
and took a deep breath. “Yup.” she said with a sigh. She looked
over to Alisia. “Now half my problems are solved.”

Alisia rolled her eyes. “Yes yes, fine,
gloat. But do it later. We need to worry about the other half of
your problems.”

The various emotions floating around
the room were pushed into the background, and the three of them
focused on the topic of Erebus.


Wanna bet Coll’s mind is
still in Meston?” Kris said.


Of course. The program he
put in Parker was just a copy. Probably just a partial copy. Or
just remote control.” Alisia said, “Leaving his safe haven entirely
would have been stupid.”

BOOK: AZU-1: Lifehack
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