Read AZU-1: Lifehack Online

Authors: Joseph Picard

AZU-1: Lifehack (37 page)

BOOK: AZU-1: Lifehack
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Figures.” Regan mulled, “We
hack some of his zombies, he hacks one of us. He probably thinks
it’s hilarious.”

Alisia glanced at Parker, then back to
both of them. “I’m gonna go out on a limb, and say he was planning
that log thing before we got into his zombies. Just
coincidence.”

Regan peered at Alisia with a smirk.
“Out on a limb. Log. Airlimb. Oh, now you’re the
comedian.”


Well, that EMP can’t be
good for Erebus or the zombies, either. I’m betting he shuts
everything down for a moment to fire out a burst, with whatever
he’s using to do it with.” Kris said.


Well, if we’re gonna talk
shop, we may as well go do it with Brock. I’m sure he’s a few dozen
steps ahead of us.”


I’m thinking we need a lot
of missiles.” Brock said with confidence shortly after the three
showed up at his lab.

Alisia paused, stunned by the seemingly
over simplistic idea. “What, keep bombing him until the EMP breaks
down?”

Brock scoffed, and looked at her like
she was an idiot. “......no. But while he’s deflecting all the
incoming attacks he’s going to have a heck of a time shooting down
an incoming aircraft, thanks to his own tightpulse EMP.”


Alright,” Kris said, “So
what’s keeping the EMP from royally shredding the electronics of
the airlimb?”

Brock grinned. “Screw airlimbs!” He
paused for dramatic effect. “Low tech, all the way!” Brock was
slipping from confident scientist to insane nerd.

Alisia nodded. “An older aircraft. Like
really old. No electronics. It would be unaffected by the
EMP.”

A lightbulb went on over Regan’s head.
“So why don’t we just bomb with low-tech bombs?”

Kris let out a frustrated sigh.
“Because, non-guided bombs can’t get to the target fast enough
without getting shot out of the sky, not to mention the sub-sonic
bombers that would get skewered by flying iron girders long before
getting in range.


So,” Alisia started from
the top, “We start a flurry of brilliant missile bombings, forcing
Erebus to use his EMP so much that he can’t operate his other
defenses. Then we can slip in with some ground forces in a chopper
or something, and take out the EMP generator entirely, leaving him
open to more missiles.”

Brock nodded. “But we’re not made of
missiles. It would be nice to keep bombing continuously,
effectively forcing him to shut all the zombies down while you’re
looking for the EMP, but as it is, once you’re in....”


The zombies will come back
online.. back to ‘life’.” Regan said.


Correct.” Brock
said.


So once in, the zombies
will come out to play. No problem!” Alisia said, switching to a
more confident tone, “I’m a professional!”

Regan linked her arm with Alisia.
“We’re professionals!”


Good lord.” Kris said,
rolling her eyes. “It’s not over yet, rambettes. I need to find us
a ride with no electronics, and someone’s gotta set up all this
bombing.”


The bombing schedule is
already being planned by the General I believe,” Brock said, “and
Kris, I can help you with the aircraft a bit. I have some ideas we
should talk about while we’re at it.”

Alisia made it back to her assigned
quarters after stopping by to see the General. Her airlimb quarters
were too noisy to rest in, since the airlimb was under considerable
maintenance from its EMP exposure.

She opened the door to her new quarters
and saw Regan sitting on the bed. The teddy bear was seated
comfortably in Regan’s lap. Alisia’s trained reflex was to kick her
out, but instead she smiled softly, remembering earlier
events.


Hi Regan.” She sighed,
closing the door behind her.

Regan smiled. “So I wasn’t
hallucinating.”


No.” Alisia said, biting
her lip and nervously looking at the floor. She sat right next to
Regan and put an arm around her. “But ....”

The word but sent terror though Regan.
Oh god, she’d changed her mind. No no no NO NO!

Alisia looked down at the innocent
little teddy bear in Regan’s lap, and sighed with a meek smile.
“But this is still... kinda a new idea for me to be considering
seriously, y’know. Remember, I think I said something about ‘one
step at a time’....? If you’re here to....”

Regan signed in relief. “Oh, leesh.”
She wrapped her arms around Alisia and squeezed. “I just... now
that things are different, I just wanted to be with you. Be near
you. Whenever I can... things... things are different now,
right?”

Alisia squeezed back and sighed. “Oh
boy, are they ever. Then again,” she chuckled, “I’m still
unexpectedly finding you in my room, so how different is that,
really?”

Regan looked into her eyes and they
stared at each other for a while. “The difference,” Regan
whispered, “is that you touched me first this time. And that...”
she closed her eyes and kissed Alisia softly. “…that’s
everything.”

~~~~~

Chapter 61: Phoenix

~~~~~

The ancient beast of a machine
glistened in the afternoon sun as Kris quietly grinned at it. It
may as well have had a big red bow around it.

This discarded VTOL prototype, the
Harrier AV-8T ‘Aytee’, had been shipped to Yute from a museum. Its
original intended destiny was to replace helicopters as troop
carriers, but it was too costly to put into production, and only
carried six. Now it was all but forgotten as the vastly superior
and more versatile airlimb began to fill the role that was once ‘a
good idea that didn’t work out’.

For anyone versed in aeronautic lore,
The Aytee bordered on legend. Despite being decommissioned, it
didn’t take a lot of work for Brock to give it an OK for flight.
With further meddling it was even OK for flight in an
EMP.

Still.. it would have been nice to have
a craft that could carry as many troops as the airlimb could. As it
was, Kris was dismayed when she researched the craft and found it
only carried six people and the pilot.

She was mortified when Brock sacrificed
four seats to install the non-electronic components. Then she
realized it would mean just her, Regan, and Alisia were going in.
And she laughed.


What are you cackling
about, witch?” Regan’s voice echoed across the hanger.

Kris whipped around with a grin to see
Regan and Alisia. Her smile melted off her face. “Are you two
holding hands?!”

Alisia gave a small scoff and pulled
her hand out of Regan’s. She locked herself into ‘professionalism’
mode. “Captain Taylor, I certainly was not. This civilian may have
been, but not me.”

Kris rolled her eyes with a sneer.
“Whatever.” She turned back to the Aytee. “Well, not only am I
going to be dumping you two rambettes deep into zombie-infested
territory from which you may never return, and your failure may
result in the eventual collapse of human civilization as we know
it, with no additional backup whatsoever... but you’re gonna be
damned cramped on the way!”


You seem like you’re having
cramps already.” Regan sniped.


Only because you’re a pain
in the ass. Are you guys ready or what?”

Alisia nodded. “Let’s take a look at
our luxury seating.”

Kris waved the two to follow her up the
scaffolding to check out the cabin of the craft. As Alisia got
close to Kris, Alisia touched her arm and softly said, “I just came
from the hospital. They say Parker’s doing good.”

Kris snapped back at the unexpected
comment. “Why should I give ... “ she sighed. “Thanks.”

The interior was worse than Alisia has
been led to believe by Brock. There was barely room for three
thanks to the mechanics that encroached into the cabin. Information
that was previously communicated to the different parts of the
craft by a few simple wires was now controlled by a nightmarish
system of crude metal shafts and levers, all leading to Kris’s
seat.

To make things even less comfortable,
the seats themselves were backless to save space and all lined up
in a row, essentially a bench to be straddled by the three of
them.

Kris got in the front seat to pilot,
leaned forward into the controls, and looked back over her
shoulder. “Who’s gonna cuddle up behind me? If someone grabs me,
I’ll try not to make any telling moans.”

Regan and Alisia stared at Kris’s back
and backside and pondered for a moment. “I don’t wanna.” They both
said. They looked at each other and did paper rock scissors. Alisia
went for rock, Regan went for paper.


Alright, fine.” Alisia put
her P90 and other gear on the Aytee floor, and sat down. Regan
filed in behind her.


Leesh, I’m kinda falling
off the back here. I’ll end up bonking the machines.” Regan
said.

Kris burst out laughing. “Bonking the
machines! Ahahahahaha!”


Shut up, bitch.” Regan
growled before magically changing her tone for Alisia. “Leesh,
you’re gonna hafta scooch up a bit further.”


Yeah, that’s it Major,”
Kris said, “Cuddle up to my tight lil’ butt.” As Kris taxied them
out of the hangar, the engines hummed to life and the control
mechanisms churned around them. They couldn’t even lean a foot to
the side without risking a kiss with moving metal.

Regan scoffed. “If your flabby butt
turns Alisia off lesbianism, I’m grabbing the controls and driving
us all into the ground.” Her voice ended sounding a little hurt and
fragile. Dealing with Kris in such close proximity was having its
toll on her. Sitting up behind Kris would have been bad, but having
Alisia sitting up against Kris was worse. In hindsight, Regan
wished she had taken the middle seat.

Alisia leaned back, and pulled Regan’s
hands around her waist. She whispered to Regan. “You don’t have to
worry about her, just those little zombies, OK? Just
focus.”

Regan squeezed Alisia and quietly
repeated to herself. “focus.. focus..” her hands traveled up Alisia
slowly. “focus.. focus.”


Reeeegan.. now is not the
time to ‘focus’ on ‘pushing my envelope’.” Alisia
giggled.


Oh geez. If you two make me
vomit in this thing, it’s gonna get on all of us. Just so you
know.”

They were soon ready to take off. “This
pig’s gonna be rough.” Kris said.

Alisia heard Regan inhale to make a
comment and stopped her. “Shh. Behave.”


Aha, so that’s -“ Kris
started.


You too, Captain.” Alisia’s
tone was monotone and calm. “Any more fighting, and we’ll turn this
thing around and go home.” Despite the levity of her words, her
voice had a tone that said “ok, this is serious now.”

Kris chattered back and forth with
flight control as the Aytee found its launch mark. The purring
turbines tilted to aim the craft down the runway then tilted again
to make the launch run. The dull, almost soothing sound of the
engines during taxiing turned into an all-encompassing
roar.

Regan had never flown in a craft that
felt so flimsy compared to the airlimb, and watched out the glass
with silent intent, a little nervous, squeezing Alisia. Alisia was
more worried about the convoluted control mechanisms all around
them; a little worried that one of these exposed moving parts would
clip her in the head.


There’s something to be
said about old birds like this,” Kris said as they felt themselves
leave the ground behind. “Ya just feel like there’s less machine
between you and the sky.” Regan and Alisia failed to appreciate the
value in that.

~~~~~

Chapter 62: Insertion

~~~~~

Alisia checked her watch. It was less
than a minute until they expected to be within detectable range of
Meston. Well, more accurately, close enough that Erebus might find
them suspicious. There was no way to confirm this however. They had
no complex instrumentation, and were under radio
silence.

Meston wasn’t yet more than a speck on
the horizon when the distant sky erupted with a sudden crack of
sound that left behind growing contrails from missiles. The
cover-bombing had begun. Surely the tightpulse EMP was now hard at
work, fouling up the incoming brilliant missiles in all sorts of
messy ways. Some could be seen to explode in the air while some
simply dropped like rocks. The next wave came shortly
after.

The tension in the Aytee rose
noticeably. Regan squeezed Alisia’s middle again, so Alisia looked
back at Regan to check on her. Regan gave a confident nod laced
with nervousness, her eyes fixed on the bombings.

As they got closer, the sounds became
clearer. Kris dropped to a minimal altitude and put her trust in
the brilliant missiles to not pummel them. Of course brilliant or
not, it doesn’t mean that one wouldn’t just drop on their heads
after the EMP shredded its guidance system.


Well, there goes my watch.”
Alisia said. The little screen was now blank. She brought a cheap
little one just for this mission. She would have put extra effort
into finding an old mechanical watch, but exact time wasn’t that
important from this point on.

BOOK: AZU-1: Lifehack
13.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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