Chapter 10: ADREIAN BAYNE
07 MAY 1804
It was a chaotic afternoon in the megalopolis of Sheffield. The sun was growing heavy and sunk deeper—and deeper into the western sky. Its orange rays reflected off the glass faces of sophisticated sky-scrapers that housed fancy penthouses. Their architecture was intended to bedeck the city with a modern flare.
Sheffield contained a dense population of almost one million British bodies, and fifteen hundred outlanders—who were people of non-British decent. Yeah, that’s right. We were branded the moment our presence in town became ‘problematic’. In reality, tensions had escaladed within city limits between outlanders and natural born British citizens due to Napoleon Bonaparte’s reorganization of mainland Europe. The treaty of Amiens expired nearly a year ago, and war was declared upon its expiration.
I tore down a narrow alleyway with my brother in crime to my right. We were forty years younger and faster than the elderly brute that chased after us. My associate, Miles, and I were professional part thieves. We could strip an entire yacht in less than thirty minutes, including of its most valuable components. Our talent was threatening, and rumors spread about the quality of our endeavors.
In fact, the Crown issued an arrest warrant for the individual named Isroah—and an award for his capture. Miles granted me the nickname by tagging the shells of our kill. Little did they know, Isroah was a team—I couldn’t pull off my antics without Miles.
I carried a packed satchel over my shoulder that contained our score for the evening. Its leather held various computer boards loaded with precompiled software for a light model-B schooner. Model-B’s were agile in flight; they could slice through the wall of any violent storm while remaining undetectable by enemy radar. They were rare; military issued, and prohibited for civilian use. Their parts were even more valuable—and fetched a pretty penny on the black market. However, this score was personal.
“Bastid thieves!” Our senior pursuer shouted as he removed his registered pistol from its holster on his hip. My palms perspired intensely around the rubber grips of my forearm crutches as I charged forward. I chose to momentarily check at the status of the man trailing us; my overlong black hair whipped around my short jaw as I spun my head in his direction. “Outlanders!” He barked while raising his weapon with the intent to fire it. My eyes scanned for an alternative exit as the alleyway led into an intricate network of shipping containers—darn, we had made a complete circle.
“Miles!” I caught my associate’s attention, “catch!” I tossed him my satchel; Miles spun and snatched it out of the air as our pursuer fired his weapon. Opportunely striking Miles in the forearm; a yelp exploded out of his throat; forcing him to immediately retract his limb.
“Ugh! Adreian!” He called my name as his blood spilled across the platform. I halted in my tracks as I reacted, “no! Keep going! I will meet you at the pickup point!” Miles’ English voice encouraged
me to go on.
“Alright! Hurry! Get out of sight! I’ve got you covered!” I darted; inspiring the older man to chase after me. He pursued me instead of Miles—hoping to collect the substantial bounty on my head.
“Hey are ya ready to give up old coot? You’ve got to be faster than that!” I mocked as he stumbled to my rear. Shit—I foolishly forgot my mask and headgear. My face was fully exposed. My body suit was a two piece unit that covered my upper body individually; it protected me from basic abrasions during our raids. But damn it—I forgot my mask!
I crutched down a narrowing dead-end and found myself cornered with a deck generator, Miles was long gone. The elderly gent put away his weapon, and spoke gently.
“Hey… don’t worry kid. I ain’t gonna hurt ya. So, you’re the one they call Isroah?” His voice was warm; I could tell that he wasn’t malicious. “Boy…you’re just a runt?”
“Piss off old man!” I scowled as he came nearer. Inside I fumed. The man called me by Isroah, which indicated that Miles tagged the ship we had stripped. We were on a mission for the Raksharin crime syndicate—who were in competition with the lone-wolf named Isroah. When on a mission for the Raksharin I over performed, delivered what I promised, and stole what I needed. All while serving both plates. Little did they know Isroah was one of their own—the two were never to mix.
“Easy kid,” his fingers hovered in anticipation of drawing his pistol. “Why do you keep up with this lifestyle? There are better things for a boy to be doing your age. How old are you anyway…?”
“That’s personal,” my eyes flicked around as my discomfort grew. The only way out was through the old man. I squeezed the grips on my crutches and took a step back. My elderly company detected my distress; his fingers rewrapped the grip of weapon in
I seized the brief pause between us and hurried toward the gentleman; he was quick to draw. A deafening bang accompanied the discharge of his pistol as he fired at my knees. I was unscathed by his frantic attempt to immobilize me. I swiftly tossed one of my crutches aside and used the other to propel me into a spin. My left leg sliced through the air and swiftly kicked the pistol out of
the mature man’s grip; the device ricocheted off the narrow walls enclosing us and fluttered out of sight.
A puzzled expression settled on his person as I landed my free hand on his shoulder. My irises focused on the astonishment in his eyes as they met. A burning sensation unexpectedly spread across my back. The feeling was simply excruciating—it was like I had been graced by the heat of a million red coals. I winced and found myself unable to remove my fingers from the man’s shoulder—shockingly his eyes had rolled backwards in their sockets, exposing only their whites. I was hallucinating. I panicked and finally confiscated my palm; my company swayed like he was intoxicated.
“What the hell?” I hissed as I felt a mystery illness overcome
me. I couldn’t think straight or upkeep my balance. My world grew distorted; blurry and my arms became weighted.
Their heaviness dragged me to my right. I spontaneously slammed against the rippled paneling of a shipping container—the old man mimicked my actions exactly. He was frighteningly mirroring my every movement, like a drunken puppet. I struggled to find the strength to elevate my arm; when I did, the man did too, in perfect unison.
“What…the hell?” I huffed again.
“What…the hell?” The elderly man’s voice cracked as he produced the same words from his throat. It was a gargling, horrible noise—like he was being choked in order to parrot me.
“Alright, what trouble did you get into this time?” The booming words of my superior filled the ear piece I wore. Vibrations met my skin from the incredible output of a ship’s engines. They were therapeutic.
“Yo guys I could use a little help up here,” I grunted, still in a daze, “I gave the package to Miles,” My speech was slurred; it was nearly impossible to talk; my whole head felt numb as I lookedover to the man beside me.
“Yes. Luckily Mr. Gavanaugh delivered your package on
time… I expected a personal delivery, ladaka. Is there a disturbance within our connection—what the hell is with your voice?” Shadow responded; a curious thought intrigued me as I attempted to gather my senses. It was inappropriate, but I was interested in the outcome.
My eyes noticed the shape of a knife strapped to the gentleman’s thigh. “Adreian! Get to the pickup point now! Help—what kind of talk is this?” Shadow roared inside my ear, “are you losing your touch? This is not acceptable!”
“I…I can’t explain. Track my signal,” I sighed as I slipped my fingers to the mirrored position of the knife and pretended to grab it.
“This is unacceptable!” My master continued to squawk in my ear. I momentarily ignored him. I then proceeded to elevate my hand with my imaginary knife in my grasp and pretended to plunge it into my chest. Astonishingly…the man produced the same movements while possessing his real knife. My brown eyes widened as I witnessed the elderly man stab himself to death.
Terror was rooted in his face; his body quaked as he unwillingly committed suicide. My disorientation surprisingly vanished; permitting my strength to return. I used my revived vitality to climb over the gentleman as he began to pass. He unwound his fingers from the scabbard of his knife and studied them in horror. They were coated in red goop.
“Wh…what happened?” He questioned as blood bubbled out of his lips. His aged eyes drifted to me while he extended his trembling paw in my direction. The remaining life exited his damaged shell and his extended branch collapsed.
“I…I…” Words eluded me as he died.
“Adreian? We have your location…” Miles spoke to me through the same ear piece. Powerful winds funneled through the shipping yard as Shadow’s yacht hovered above; its spotlights illuminated the area. My hair flew wildly around my face and whipped at my skin. I was in an honest state of shock. “Hey Adreian, look up!” Miles tried me again after he failed to receive a response from me initially.
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