Chapter 13: HOLD OUTS
“Don’t shoot!” Quinn said.
Brad immediately stepped between Quinn and the gunman, “He’s not AFU,” he said, “Scan him again, he’s an Odian and UED policeman!”
“Step aside,” the gunman said, “I’ll perform my own scan of him to see.”
Brad reluctantly did so as Quinn morphed one hand into a classic peace symbol and the other into a statue of a dove, and was scanned in the most minute detail.
“You’re fine,” the gunman said lowering his gun, “You checked out fine.”
Brad lowered his hands along with the others, “If you don’t mind me asking,” he said, “Who are you and where did you come from?”
“Stuart,” he answered, “Follow me,” He then began leading them down a corridor powered by very dim lighting, “I work here at the SI. I’m a weapons tester.”
“Weapons tester!?” Brad asked.
“Yes,” Stuart answered, “That’s what we do here. Design new weapons and test them before releasing them.”
“So, the visor technology is just a front?” Quinn asked.
“Sort of,” Stuart answered, “The patents are real, made by the military and then given to us. They’re then improved and modified, very few are actually made by us. We actually mainly design new weapons.”
Brad thought of Stacy and how she would fit in, “Why would a bioengineer work here?” he asked.
Stuart opened a door to lead everyone out the corridor and into a kitchen of the SI, “I don’t know this place’s hiring practices.” he answered, not minding the question. Now, everything was lit normally. He led everyone through the cafeteria and down a hall to a large conference room set up like a studio theater. There were dozens of people here, human and alien, many in lab coats, some dressed in suits or casually.
“Are these all the workers?” Quinn asked.
“Mostly,” Stuart answered, “Some just came in from outside when the invasion started.”
Brad easily picked out Stacy, in her lab coat, from the crowd easily, a pretty, blond haired, blue eyed woman about the same age as Kimberly and approached her. “Got your message.” he said, then phasing off his suit.
“Brad,” Stacy cried out happily, “Of all the people. When did you get back?”
“I thought you knew,” Brad answered, “I got in just before everything went to hell.”
Stuart phased off his suit, revealing a young man similar in age to Brad, and walked into the former love bird’s conversation, “Friend of yours?” he asked.
“Oh, um, yeah,” Stacy answered, “Brad, Stuart. Stuart, Brad. I’m glad you already met. Stuart here is a Myrmidon assigned here to test weapons.”
Something in Stacy’s voice made Brad’s police instincts kick in, telling him Stuart was more than an acquaintance. He looked at Stuart and nodded, “She’s my ex but, I’m sure she’s told you all about me.”
Stuart shook his head, “No,” he answered, “Not a thing.”
“Really?” Brad asked.
Stuart shrugged and said, “She doesn’t talk much about that part of her life. I don’t think she likes to. Too many mistakes and regrets she says.”
Brad faked a laugh, “Really!” he said.
Quinn stepped up and asked, “Stacy, what’s everyone doing here?”
“Were just waiting for rescue.” Stacy answered.
Quinn looked at the civilians and said, “You would think more people work here.”
“It was a company holiday the day we were attacked,” Stacy replied, “Few came in, and even then, we’re mostly managers and team leaders.”
“So, its crème de la crème here,” Brad said, “You guys know there’s a demolisher above you?”
“We should be safe down here,” Kimberly said.
“If you’re talking about the shields,” Stacy added, “You’re right and there’s another level we can go to if we need,” She then lead Brad to a seated woman, “This is my boss, Gina. Gina, Brad.”
Gina, a slightly older woman, stood to shake hands with Brad then sit back down, “I don’t suppose you’re the reinforcements we’ve been waiting for.” she said.
“Sorry, ma’am,” Brad answered, “I’m afraid we’re stuck in the same boat. It’s just me, my friend Quinn, my girlfriend Kimberly, and this family.”
The whole building then shook with some debris falling from the ceiling.
“That couldn’t have been he demolisher,” Stacy said, “We haven’t felt anything till now and I’m sure the shields are still up.”
“Even now?” Kimberly asked.
“Yes,” Gina answered, “The shields we have are very robust. We have multiple shields in fact, it’s layered liked an onion. The idea is that even if one goes down, it can recharge while another takes over. The building also has a signal scrambler to hide humans and energy readings from any radar they might be using.”
“Why energy readings?” Quinn asked.
“To hide any weapons,” Gina replied, “Stacy, under the circumstances we can’t afford to hold back anything. If these men can help I want them to have access to everything.”
“Understood,” Stacy replied, “We can go check the shields status. Follow me.”
Stacy led Brad, Quinn, Kimberly, and Stuart down the hall to an elevator.
“So,” Stuart asked Brad, “How long were you and Stacy a thing?”
Brad pretended to think about it as he looked to Stacy, “Since… high school, right? Yeah, since high school but, that was a while ago. So many memories of us. How do you two know each other?”
Stacy immediately jumped in saying, “I design the weapons, Stuart tests them.” Her interference only heightened Brad’s suspicions.
The elevator reached its destination to the ground floor. Everyone exited and followed Stacy down several halls to another room with some electronic equipment along its walls and several monitors.
Stacy sat at one of the monitors with Brad and Kimberly looking over her shoulder.
“Good news,” Stacy said, “Demolisher seems to have moved on.”
“What’s the bad news?” Kimberly asked.
Stacy manipulated the monitor to enlarge the radar and turn it into a map of the facility, “It looks like AFU soldiers breached the outer barricades.”
As the trio were locked in discussion, Quinn leaned toward Stuart, “So, how long have you and Stacy been…dating?” he asked.
“About a year now,” Stuart answered, “We met on her first day when I was assigned as her partner to test new weapons.”
“A year,” Quinn said, “That would be around the time they broke up.”
“I know,” Stuart replied, “Stacy, mentioned she had a boyfriend but, a few days later she said they split. So, I made a move.”
Quinn shrugged and nodded, “I don’t even date so, I guess it’s none of my business.”
“We should be fine,” Stacy said, “We set-up multiple barricades with traps to make it harder to get through and I unlocked all files and doors to anyone who’s a police officer.”
“What kind of traps?” Brad asked.
“Cloaked bombs,” Stacy answered, “Auto turrets, all placed in and around debris and locked doors. It’s layered like our shields to make it harder but, I’m afraid they’re non-replaceable once they go down.”
Brad studied the map for a moment, “Do you have an estimate of when and if they’ll be able to get through?” he asked.
“Days.” Stacy replied, just as the power went out a few moments later causing everything to go black for about thirty-seconds before the backup power kicked in “Scratch that, maybe a few hours.”
Kimberly wasted no time in heading back out, “Maybe we should get back and wait with the others. Come on, Brad.” she said.
“Great idea,” Stacy said, as she began following.
Brad, Quinn, and Stuart followed the ladies.
They were all a few steps down the hall when Stacy made a sudden stop, “Oh no.” she said.
Brad and the others stopped, “What?” he asked.
“Power went down.” Stacy answered.
Stuart took hold of his girlfriend by the shoulders, “Yeah, but it came back on.” he replied.
“Kascor and Zepas!” Stacy yelled.
Stuart looked at Brad, “Ohhh boy,” he said, “We have a problem.”