Read AZU-1: Lifehack Online

Authors: Joseph Picard

AZU-1: Lifehack (38 page)

BOOK: AZU-1: Lifehack
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Now mostly in hover mode, the Aytee
passed the outer small buildings. They could see zombies laying in
the streets, ‘dead’. In the occasional pause between EMP pulses,
they would all start to slowly get up only to fall again, shutting
down for the next pulse.


Hey Kris-“


Shutup,
navigating.”

Alisia shut up. With only a small crude
paper map and memory, Kris was concentrating on getting them to the
ideal drop-point, all the while keeping an eye out for random stray
missiles dropping on them.


This looks about good as we
can get, “ Kris said, pulling a compass out of the dash, and
handing it to Alisia. “Get ready to get out.”

The Aytee’s turbines rotated into full
hover mode as they reached the middle of an intersection with only
a few zombies lying on the ground. The wheels set down. Regan and
Alisia piled out, weapons slung over their shoulders. They climbed
down the little fold out ladder, still requiring a bit of a jump
down.


OK, Kris,” Alisia yelled to
the cockpit from the ground, “Clear in ten!”

Alisia led Regan running away from the
Aytee. Ten seconds later its engines roared up again. Soon the
Aytee disappeared down the street, taking its noise with
it.

They looked around, surrounded now only
by the sounds of the bombings. Nearby was a crater where one of
them had come down uncontrolled. “That makes me feel safe!” Regan
said.


Think of it this way,”
Alisia said while readying her P90, “Lightning never strikes blah
blah blah.”


... That makes me feel
safe.” Regan sneered.

Alisia leaned over and quickly pecked a
kiss on Regan’s cheek.


Now that... well.. it
doesn’t make me feel safe exactly, but it’s a step in the right
direction. Speaking of which...”


Yeah yeah” Alisia said,
pulling forward the compass. The needle had been jerked away from
north by the EMP. When the EMP went off, the needle quivered,
reaffirming the direction of the source. It pointed down one of the
streets, and off by about twenty degrees. “That-a-way!”

They started down the street, and got
half a block or so, when silence suddenly surrounded
them.


The bombing is over,”
Alisia said, “We know Kris is clear now.”


Oh thank god,” Regan said,
“I know my loathed ones are safe.”

Alisia chuckled softly, and started
looking around. In view there were a dozen or so zombies on the
ground, and they were all starting to get up. “Ok, let’s conserve
ammo unless they take notice of us,” Alisia whispered, “No sense in
causing a fuss before we have to.”

Regan nodded, but held her P90 close
nonetheless.

The small mob didn’t seem to care about
them, more preoccupied with a nearby crater.. Walking to it,
stumbling on the rubble, one falling in.


I see they’re still in
total idiot mode,” Regan said, “I guess that means we weren’t
detected....?” Regan was trying hard to not let the city get to
her. It looked a lot like the early days in Autar. The blood was
everywhere. And fresh. She had seen it through the ‘Reggie’ zombie
before, it was quite a different thing to actually be
here.

A few blocks later, a creature about
the size of a bull, made of bodies, walked into view. It did notice
them. Its four legs were each made of several arms, twisted
together like pipe cleaners. The rest of its mass was harder to
identify, but it was definitely human parts. Upon its massive
shoulders, there was no head, but a generic, plastic cartoon mask
stuck on the front.

On seeing Alisia and Regan, it split
into two parts; front and back. The two sections each formed a
third leg out of donations from the other two legs they had. Once
they gained their balance the two ‘tripods’ began running towards
the girls.


Oh, screw this bull.” Regan
said. Alisia smirked as they both took aim. Alisia took two legs
out on the slightly larger one with the mask, and it fell to the
ground, rolling a bit.

Meanwhile Regan had only gotten one of
the legs of the little one, and it still managed to charge fast.
Regan sidestepped around a parking sign then grabbed onto the post
to leverage a kick to the side of the beast. It toppled over
towards Alisia, and she stepped out of the way easily.

The two halves of the bull squirmed
comically, trying to right themselves. “Should we finish them?”
Regan asked.

Alisia debated it in her mind. They
could just keep going and keep an eye out behind them, but she
decided it was an unnecessary risk. “Let’s just liberate them from
their working limbs.” So they shot apart the three remaining legs.
Splintered and bloody remains of people’s arms twitched beside the
revolting masses. “I hate my job.”

~~~~~

Chapter 63: 0,0

~~~~~

The ‘bull’ was not the first
‘abomination’ either of them had seen, but it wasn’t to be the last
by a long shot. As they passed block after block, they regularly
ran into creations made from bodies. These abominations were all
faster and bigger than normal zombies.

The largest was a five meter tall human
shape, but the most creative was a meter wide crab. Luckily none of
them put up a lot of fight. Slowing them down often took a good
deal of ammo however, since some of them had very thickly designed
legs. Hollow points work miracles, but sometimes you need a few
extra miracles at a time.

The compass was no longer truly useful.
After the last EMP pulse went off, it just stayed fixated on the
wrong direction relative to north. With a little sense of
direction, they managed to stay on course.

Then they saw something
unexpected.

A clean street.

Not clean as if the killings had simply
not stained it. Not clean as if no bombs had landed here.. but
clean. The kind of clean you could eat off of.

The street and the surrounding
buildings were all a smooth, shining marble. Except that the marble
seemed to be composed of random colours and patterns not typical to
marble. The shape of things were different too.

The street itself was perfectly flat
with no curb where the sidewalk should be. No lamp posts or parking
meters, no fire hydrants, not even seams where you might expect
them.

Regan looked around at the buildings.
They were similarly lacking geometric detail. “Using nanites to
reshape things? From the colours, I’d guess he used whatever was
laying around. Geez, I thought Autar looked clean when it was
new... That was creepy in its own way... but this...”


He’s...” Alisia squinted,
and tried to come up with some reasoning to it. “Making a home for
himself?”


Pfft... I always figured he
wanted to remake the world in his vision,” Regan said, “But I
somehow figured it would involve more... uh.. bodies and blood and
stuff...” Was it quieter here, or did it just seem that
way?

They kept walking, finding that the
‘clean zone’ went for farther than they could see. The next
intersection revealed that this ‘cleanliness’ had spread in either
direction as well. Ever since entering the clean zone, they hadn’t
run into any zombies or abominations.


So.. wait a sec, he’s a
moron.” Alisia said. “If he is creating a home... this is a dumb
place to do it.”


Why?”


Well... he’s operating on
whatever power reserves he found in the city when he took it over.
Outside power’s been cut, and there’s no significant means to
generate power in Meston. He’s also gotta be sucking up a lot with
that EMP.”


Nothing I can’t handle.
Call this place a rough draft.” A familiar, feminine, but unwelcome
voice came from behind them. Regan and Alisia swung around to see
‘Erika’.


You’re surprised? I can’t
blame you. This body got pretty badly messed up in my fight with
those zombies you guys hijacked.. fun move, by the way… But I fixed
her up. I kinda like her. I’m not sure why.” Erika held her arm out
in front of her, and through Erika’s eyes, Erebus studied the frail
flesh. “It’s not like I knew her, or for that matter, have any
sexual desires about her body, since I don’t have such human wants
anymore. In fact, I’m starting to lose sight of why humans are
needed at all, now.”

Regan gritted her teeth, and checked
her aim. “Leesh’... is there any reason we’re not shooting
her?”

Before Alisia could reply, Erika
interrupted. Her voice now sounded more and more like the voice
they knew as Erebus. “Regan!” he shouted as if he just noticed her.
“Oh, did you know that I remember you? From even way back when. I
remember your brother now, too. Logs from the Autar A.I. told me he
didn’t do so well. I..”

Regan hollered “Shut up!”, and prepared
to fire. Before she pulled the trigger, Erika convulsed as if being
shot. Blood splattered back, and little bits of flesh went flying,
all in relative silence except for Erebus’ mocking gasps of
pain.

Erika collapsed on the clean ground,
nearly in pieces, blood spreading around her. Her face was still in
tact, tilted to the side, eyes aglaze.

Regan and Alisia looked around. “I
didn’t hear any gunfire.” Alisia said. “Or even any ricochets... or
anything like that... She... he... did it to himself?”


Oh,” Erika’s face spoke,
only her mouth moving, “Sorry, I skipped ahead I think. But this is
more or less what you were gonna do to me, right? I mean, I’ve seen
it happen to enough zombies to know how it goes.”

Alisia walked over to Erika and looked
down at her face. A face that used to belong to a lovely, innocent
young lady. She looked deeper, and saw Erebus staring back at her.
“Jonathan.. your lack of a human body is the least of the reasons
that you’re inhuman.” She fired a few rounds and shattered Erika’s
face, just so Erebus could not use it to speak anymore. At least
not for a while.


We still have a job to do
here,” Alisia said, patting Regan’s shoulder. “Let’s get
moving.”

It only took a minute of walking before
the eerie quiet and cleanliness began to gnaw at them
again.


I love you.” Alisia said,
eyes still on the road ahead.


What?”


You heard me. Just thought
I’d repeat it.”

Regan raised an eyebrow. “Is this some
kinda ‘I don’t expect to live, so I’m getting my feelings off my
chest’ thing? Cuz I don’t plan on let-“


Nah,” Alisia interrupted,
“It was just too friggin quiet.”

Regan nodded. “Ah. Well then, ditto. In
fact, for that matter.. “

Regan stopped short. She spotted
something unusual as they entered an intersection. To the left, the
next intersection was round instead of square, and much bigger then
normal, nearly a block wide itself.

The surrounding buildings looked like
they had been pressed back like putty to make room for this space.
Centered in this round intersection was the framework of a dome,
large enough to encircle several houses. It was seamless, and made
of the same material as the streets.

The supports were about a meter wide
each, reaching up in a hexagonal pattern, leaving gaps about eight
meters wide.

Regan and Alisia approached the outer
edge of the dome cautiously while checking to make sure they both
had full clips.

When they got about twenty meters from
it, they could see a gap in the ground slightly less than a meter
wide. This gap ran along the perimeter of the dome like a moat,
just inside the supports. It was filled with blood and
indistinguishable pieces of gore.

Scattered throughout the dome, there
was a variety of debris. Some seemed like random wreckage. A burnt
out car, raw pieces of building somehow avoided being used in the
strange material, and things of that nature. Towards the middle
there was a field of what looked like dead people stuck part way in
the ground.


They’re all Erikas.” Alisia
said. True enough; a magnified view revealed that forty or so
Erikas littered the middle area. None of them were moving, and all
of them were stuck in the ground to some degree. Most were complete
only to about the ribcage area. A couple of them were as far
developed as the knees or so. Looking closer, there were some that
were merely faces on the ground.

Some had deformities of various kinds,
but all were as expressionless as a corpse.

Most importantly, in the very middle
was a metal object about the size of two large cars stacked on top
of each other. Dull green and boxy, with a sprinkling of minor
details, like maintenance hatches and vents.


And there’s our puppy.”
Alisia said softly. The tightpulse generator was bigger than it
looked in its files. Some kind of large, shielded conduit came out
of it, immediately bending down into the ground. Near the other end
of the generator was an indistinguishable little wad of electronics
hooked up to what looked like a wooden child’s toy.

The toy had a glass window that let you
see inside. There was a small set of little ramps and a four
centimeter metal ball inside.

BOOK: AZU-1: Lifehack
8.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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