Chapter 11: DANGEROUS TREK
“You never mentioned you had an ex,” Kimberly said, “I told you I had no exes.”
“Difference being,” Brad replied moving through the rubble, “That I asked, you didn’t.”
“I forgot,” Kimberly retorted, “You’re a cop. You don’t volunteer information like that. Now that I think about it, that was real slick of you to ask the way you did.”
“What?” Brad asked, “How did I ask?”
“You put it quickly with another question.” Kimberly answered.
Brad helped her around some debris and waited for Quinn.
“It was slick.” Quinn said as he passed by.
Brad sighed and then caught back up with Kimberly, “It’s not that important, is it?” he asked.
Kimberly turned around to face Brad and asked, “You still love her?”
“She’s an ex,” Brad answered, “How much do you think I love her when I have you to think about? It may be over between us but, I still want to help. Especially with this. Wouldn’t you want to go help me even if we broke up?”
Kimberly narrowed her eyes before moving on.
Brad fell behind on purpose till even Quinn was a few steps ahead of him. He phased out his picture of Stacy and let the wind carry it away.
Not everyplace was war-torn. Much of the city was still intact. The three traveled at a brisk pace throughout. Brad had retaken the lead when the enemy suddenly popped up on radar.
“Quinn, Kimberly,” Brad called, “Stop and get down.”
All of them took cover among the ruins of a nearby building.
Quinn moved up cautiously to his friend, “What is it?” he asked.
“AFU outpost ahead,” Brad answered, “Radar shows six guards. We must still be far enough they haven’t detected Kim yet.”
Kimberly looked. The outpost was a good distance away, “Let’s just go the way you came from when you found us.” she said.
“That was in a cruzer,” Quinn replied, “That was a slightly longer, different way. We’re trying to make a beeline to the station. Brad, can we avoid it?”
Brad check his scans of the area which then tried finding the optimal route, “No,” he said, sitting back against a boulder, “Not without taking a major detour or putting Kim at risk. Best option is to go through that.”
“I guess we don’t have a choice,” Quinn said, “Let’s take that outpost out.”
Brad got back up and looked at Kimberly, “You wait here.” he said, as he climbed over another rock.
The AFU outpost was a still intact building with several floors. It wasn’t an imposing building. Four floors that were only six small rooms across on each side.
‘Bad choice,’ Brad thought as he pulled up the building’s schematics and quickly sneaking his way there. He’d have picked a much, much larger building.
Quinn turned into a liquid form and rapidly closed the distance to the outpost where he found two soldiers / guards outside patrolling the building opposite to each other. He had to time it carefully so as not alert the other guard. In the middle of guard’s path was a cruzer, Quinn moved in liquid form onto the cruzer and mimicked the part he’d attach to in every way so no one could tell where he ended and the cruzer began. One thing he didn’t count on was the cruzer having an alarm system. It went off as a warning, only making a few quick beeps.
It was nothing to the guard since he figured it was his presence doing it. It went off again when he went further away. This time he raised his weapon and began firing at the cruzer causing the alarm to crazy at first then, slowly die. The other guard came running with his weapon at the ready but, went back to his post when he saw it was nothing to worry about. Even the guards in the building went about their business when they realized the commotion was nothing but one of their own. The guard went back to patrolling a few times when, passing by the cruzer, he was quickly disarmed by a whip-like structure that shot out from the end of the cruzer he hadn’t fired on. Instantly, a gelatinous glob of goo suddenly jumped off the cruzer and on to him, quickly covering his entire body.
Quinn, in his liquid state, made sure the guard was unconscious before pouring himself off and morphing back to his humanoid form. He discreetly peeked around the corner of the building and waited for the guard to move on before moving closer. As the guard came back, Quinn melded with the corner of the building and took its profile to hide himself.
The guard came to his post and turned around to go back. Quinn made a whispering sound to get the guard’s attention and distract him. The guard only looked and saw no one was there. He began to move on when he heard another whispering noise. This time, he went closer to the sound even though he saw no one.
Quinn quickly materialized into a humanoid form, dropping down behind the guard. His arms turned into a stretchy substance that pulled the guards arms apart. He pulled so tight the guard lost his grip on his rifle and dropped it. A third arm shot out of Quinn’s chest like a rubber band and knocked the guard down. He only let the guard turn around before jumping on him as a blanket of goo and smothering the guard unconscious.
Brad had just arrived as his friend morphed back to his humanoid form. He kneeled next to the unconscious guard, “I see you got the party started without me.” he said.
Quinn stepped closer to the building, right next to a window, “That’s two down.” he replied.
Brad checked his visor, “Map shows the front door is locked,” he said, “I should be able to bypass it with my badge.”
Quinn pulled off a small windowpane and said, “See you there in a moment.”
Brad ran around to the front by the door. He unlocked it with the touch of a button that then caused the door to recognize his badge. Quinn oozed through the window via the windowpane he just pulled. Once on the other side, he morphed into his humanoid form and went directly to the front door to meet up with his friend.
“Easy, breezy.” Brad said.
“There’s four left, right?” Quinn asked.
“Two on the second floor,” Brad answered, “Two on the fourth.”
Brad used the map to find the building’s stairwell. As both men quietly ascended, Quinn morphed into an AFU soldier. At the top, they stopped briefly as Brad checked his radar.
“Let’s wait a moment for this guy to pass,” Brad whispered, looking back and momentarily freaking out at the sight of his friend as an AFU soldier, grabbing him by the collar and asking, “Quinn?”
“It’s alright,” Quinn calmly said, “It’s me.”
Brad let go, “Right,” he said, his visor now detecting Quinn, “Sorry, I forgot you could do that for a sec. I just wasn’t expecting it. I guess you go first and I’ll get the second guy. Ready?”
Quinn nodded for Brad to open the door and started following a guard.
The guard glanced back and thought nothing of Quinn when he casually waved him down and jogged toward him. He had never seen Quinn before but figured he was just another soldier. He actually thought he might be getting relived.
As soon as he could, Quinn said nothing as he casually took the guard’s weapon away and then used it to strike the guard and knock him out.
Brad phased out a knife and came out behind the next guard.
The guard barely had time to turn around before he found the human had rapidly closed the distance.
Brad quickly stabbed the guard in the neck repeatedly until he was certain he’d killed him. He carried the guard to his knees and let go.
Quinn came around the corner. Brad’s visor knew it was his friend this time.
“That’s four down,” Quinn said, “Two left.”
Brad stood back up, “My scans are showing the guards you take out are still alive,” he said, “You do know this a war, right?”
“I’ve never killed anyone,” Quinn replied, “Never had to. I was taught it was wrong and would be too easy to just kill. That and our training encourages us to apprehend any criminal alive.”
“This is no time for a discussion,” Brad said, signaling for Quinn to follow him up the stairs, “I’m not going to get philosophical on you but, there’s going to be a time when you’ll need to forget what you were taught.”
On the fourth floor, they followed the same routine as before. Now that the radar showed no active enemies, both headed down the stairs.
“I’m sure you’ve heard the saying,” Quinn began, “With great power comes great res…”
“I know the saying,” Brad interrupted, “I’m just saying you need to be able tell the difference of when and when not to kill.”
Quinn thought a moment and spoke, “When we arrested Orox for causing this we didn’t kill him. These soldiers were just standing in a place we didn’t like. I see no reason to kill them.”
Both men exited the stairwell and headed for the front door.
Brad kept an eye on his radar, “That’s different.” he said.
“How,” Quinn asked, “How is it different?”
“We weren’t at war when we got Orox,” Brad began, “Now, we are.”
“I’m still a police officer.” Quinn replied.
They exited the building and looked in the direction they needed to go.
“Radar is clear,” Brad said, “You’re faster, go get Kim.”
Quinn said nothing as he morphed into pool of liquid and took off. He reached Kimberly in only a few seconds and startled her when he took his normal humanoid shape.
“Quinn,” Kimberly said, “Where’s Brad? Are you guys alright?”
“He’s fine,” Quinn answered, “We took care of that outpost. He’s waiting for you there.”
Kimberly ran with Quinn over to Brad.
“You alright?” Kimberly asked.
“I’m fine,” Brad answered, “Hurry, let’s move on before these guys wake up.”
The trio ran all the way to within several hundred yards of the station.
At another pile of rubble, Brad signaled for everyone to stop and get down, “Hold on,” he said “I’m picking up AFU soldiers up ahead. Let me see if I can find a way through.”
Quinn looked over the rubble and became shocked by the sight, “Brad, look!” he said.
Brad, looking at his scans for a way through, paused to look with Quinn.
In the sky above was a demolisher settling over the police station.
“Brad to Carter,” he immediately radioed.
A mix of alarms and Carter voice was the reply, “Brad, don’t come back!”
“Sir, there’s a demolisher over the station!” Brad said.
“I know but we can’t get out,” Carter replied, “Enemy is pushing hard on all sides!”
The demolisher then fired a beam at the station, setting it ablaze, followed moments later by its energy pulse which then completely brought the station down in pieces.
“Sir,” Brad called, “Carter!?”
Static was the only response returned.
“Brad to Carter.” he calmly called.
Again, nothing but static.
“If they were in a basement maybe someone’s still alive.” Kimberly said.
“Yeah.” Quinn added.
Brad looked on in disbelief, “That basement wasn’t nearly deep enough.”