Chapter 12: TRICKERY
Brad couldn’t detect survivors at the station and AFU forces settled in to setup another outpost in the area. All the trio could do is move around it and move on.
“Let’s keep up the pace,” Brad said, “The SI isn’t far.”
“What is the SI anyway?” Quinn asked.
Kimberly was just ahead and answered, “You remember when I told you some places had heavily encrypted messages? The SI was one of them. Officially, it’s just a technology company.”
Quinn was suddenly interested and asked, “What kind of technology?”
Kimberly shrugged, “Who knows,” she answered, “They have a few patents on visor designs, so my guess is they make visors.”
“Who cares,” Brad said, “It sounds like a place we hold up. If its top-secret they probably have an underground like the CC.”
Quinn quickly walked to catch up with Brad, “You dated Stacy,” he said, “What did she go to school for?”
“It wasn’t for visors,” Brad answered, then, “Hold on. I got something on radar. It’s alright, they don’t register as AFU. Scans are reading three humans!”
Kimberly grew excited, “Maybe they can help!” she said.
“Maybe,” Quinn added. “Brad, where are they?”
“Ahead, fifty meters,” Brad answered, “ten o’clock!”
All three ran to what looked like a random building in a shopping district.
“You’re also human,” Quinn said, as he looked uncertain about going in the building, “Maybe it would be better if you go alone on this one.”
Brad entered with a detailed map on his visor as Quinn and Kimberly waited outside. He phased his suit off to present himself as harmless as possible and held his hands up, “Hello,” he called, “Fellow human here. I’m not going to hurt you.” He followed the last known position on his radar, so knew where he was going. Huddled in a corner he found what he was looking for. Humans! One was an oriental man with a black woman and a female child who was a beautiful mix of both. Brad instantly phased on his suit to show a strong front and hide any disappointment he had about finding reinforcements.
“Help us.” the man said, extending his arm out.
Brad lifted him up, “Names?” he asked.
“Ryan Li,” he answered, “That’s my wife Lukia and our daughter Hannah.”
Brad ran a quick check for their identities on his database that appeared on his visor, “If you can move, I suggest following me.” he said.
Outside, Quinn spotted Brad exiting the building with the family in tow. He ran up to his friend to whisper, “You do know you’re bring along a family?”
Brad nodded, “Yup.” he replied.
“They may be adorable,” Quinn said, “However, they don’t have suits. It can be dangerous for all of us if we bring them.”
“I don’t care,” Brad said, “They’re human beings and they need help.”
Quinn said nothing else on the matter. He accepted the fact he had to watch and take care of the extra ‘baggage’.
Brad knew Quinn was right. It was dangerous to have people with no suits on but, he was determined to keep them safe no matter what. He spoke with Quinn a lot for the rest of their journey. It was odd to see the city so deserted, ‘Weird,’ he thought, ‘Nothing on radar. These buildings are all empty.’
The Stotch Institute came into view. It was downhill from where Brad and the others stood. Even without radar they all had good view. The building was only one floor above ground but, it was huge, sprawling. A demolisher hovered in place above the building, firing with no affect. It didn’t catch fire or blow up or anything. An aurora borealis-like faint, transparent energy formed just above the building to absorb the energy blasts. At its entrance was an AFU camp.
“Such buildings,” Kimberly began, “Would be protected from bombardment like that. It’s a shield system on the roof. I don’t know the details or how long it will last. Solders on the ground wouldn’t be affected by it.”
“Quinn” Brad called, “It’s time we put that plan to use. My schematics are limited but, I’m showing a few old underground pathways we can use. One is closer to us, only, we have to get closer.”
“If we get closer they’ll detect the humans.” Quinn said.
“That’s the point,” Brad reminded him, “It’ll be your job to protect them and once we’re underground, hopefully it’ll be harder to detect us.”
“Right,” Quinn replied, “Where’s it at?”
Brad brought up a holo-map of the area from his visor to the node on his forearm, “Right there.” he said, with a spot flashing on the map.
“Everyone,” Quinn called, “Follow me.”
Brad ran to a position in a destroyed building that was quite distant and opposite from Quinn but, he could still keep an eye on him and the humans. He was safe since he had a suit that prevented him from being detected.
Quinn led the humans closer to the underground path in the ruins of a destroyed building near the AFU camp.
“This is too close,” Kimberly whispered, “We’ll be detected.”
“I know,” Quinn whispered back, “Everyone, get down and huddle together.”
An AFU radar had immediately detected the humans and began beeping. One of the soldiers grabbed the radar and got on a raptor with another soldier to investigate the area.
“Stay as quiet as possible.” Quinn said, as he morphed into a rock completely surrounding and enveloping the humans.
The AFU soldiers arrived in the area and began searching, the radar was detecting the humans though all they could see was a rock.
Brad had phased out a sniper rifle and took aim. The rifle had no silencer so it would be easier to tell his direction.
One of the AFU soldiers went down before he knew what hit him. The other immediately dropped down for cover.
Brad fired again, this time missing closely on purpose.
The soldier quickly got back up and, firing blindly in Brad’s direction, hopped back on the raptor and rode away amidst gunfire ricocheting off his ride.
“Sit tight.” Quinn whispered.
After a few moments, the AFU soldier came back with reinforcements. They searched area only to again find a rock where the radar showed humans.
Brad took aim at the soldier nearest to Quinn and took him out. The rest of the soldiers ran for cover and began to blind fire on his position. He took aim again, missing his next shot on purpose. His next shot only wounded a soldier in the arm before he decided to leave his position with no intention of holding his spot.
The AFU soldiers ignored the radar and began a careful assault on Brad’s position. Once they had moved on, Quinn morphed back to his humanoid form, “Hurry,” he said, “While they think you’re just false readings.”
Quinn led everyone to hatch covered over by grass. He had to lift the cover to reveal a ladder, “You guys first,” he said, looking at Ryan and his family.
As Kimberly’s turn came up, Brad showed.
“It worked.” Brad said.
“What,” Kimberly asked, “What worked?”
“The whole idea,” Quinn began, “Was to convince the AFU their radar couldn’t be trusted.”
Brad looked around to make sure no one was coming, “Maybe,” he said, “It will help others by making the AFU think they’re detecting anomalies.”
“I see,” Kimberly said, descending the ladder, “Hopefully it works.”
“You go next buddy.” Brad said.
Quinn got on the ladder to begin his descent.
Brad, being last, grabbed the lid and pulled it shut as he went down, “There,” he said, “We made it without being detected!”
Quinn made a throat clearing sound.
Brad turned around and saw everyone with their hands up and a man in a suit with a gun trained on them.
“Scans show you’re all human,” the stranger said, “Your brown skinned friend here isn’t.”