Chapter 18: OLD TECH
Kimberly turned off the loud speaker and removed the earpiece, “That’s it, message repeats.”
Brad walked over to Kimberly to comfort her, “Not much of a choice, is it?” he said.
Stuart placed a hand on Stacy’s shoulder, “How much longer do we have till they reach this level?”
Stacy examined the map, “At the rate they’re going…under an hour.”
Quinn suddenly realized, “Orox must be on that gunship,” he said, “It’s the only way he could have sent that message.”
Stacy stood, “Who’s this Orox?” she asked.
Quinn folded his arms and answered, “He’s the cause of all this!”
Brad raised his arm to stop Quinn, “We arrested him and his conspirators for sending out transmissions for the AFU to…you know what, screw it. It is all his fault.”
Stuart examined the map closely, “Stacy, correct me if I’m wrong but, it looks like much of the AFU camp is around the elevator.”
Stacy sat back down to move the map and get a better view, “Not all but, most of it.”
Stuart began massaging Stacy’s shoulders, “I just got an idea!”
Brad stepped forward, “What are you thinking?” he asked.
Stuart pointed on the map, “The mech yard,” he answered, “You may not like the idea but, I just keep telling myself it’s better than doing nothing.”
“The old underground path,” Stacy said as she pulled it up on the map, “Like the ones outside leading here.”
Brad shook his head, “I say we take our chances with those and get out.” he replied.
“Negative,” Stuart said. “We can’t guarantee everyone’s safety either way. If we take a tunnel and get out with one big group there’s a high chance they be detected. If we take multiple tunnels, well, everyone’s on their own then. My idea is to take everyone with us to the mech yard and use the mechs as a distraction. While we pilot the mechs and attack the camp, everyone else can get into the various transports we have there and get out.”
Quinn asked, “What are the chances of success?”
“Very high.” Stuart answered.
Stacy faced Stuart, “What are your chances of coming back alive?”
Stuart thought about it, “Eh, I’d say about fifty-fifty.” he replied.
Kimberly stood up quick, “No way,” she exclaimed, looking at Brad, “I don’t like those odds.”
“I’m sorry,” Stuart said. “I don’t like those odds either but, it’s the only way I can see giving the rest of you a chance.”
Brad held Kimberly to place his forehead on hers, then he looked at Stuart, “You’re right,” he replied, “I don’t like it but it’s better than my idea or just waiting around. I need details. What are these mechs?”
Stuart walked over and wrapped a reassuring arm around Brad and the looked at Stacy, “Hon, can you bring them up on display?”
Stacy brought up holographic representations on the monitor. They were bipedal tanks ranging in height from two to several stories tall.
“That, my friend,” Stuart continued, “Is a mech. They’re all mothballed now. We take their weapons and design our current ones off of them. They’re about a hundred years old.”
“A hundred years old?” Brad said in disbelief.
“Not to worry,” Stuart assured, “They may be an old design but, they’ll still make mincemeat out of those AFU soldiers. They’re what, about a hundred years behind us anyway. The only reason we stopped using mechs is because the war at the time was over and we already had suits. We decided to keep the suits and continue to improve them.
“What war?” Quinn asked.
Stuart shrugged, “I don’t know,” he answered, “I forget the name but it was against machines we created, humans barely won. Brad and I can use these because of our neural interlink, which is way more advanced now. Only we can interface with these mechs. Sorry, I just lied. They also have holographic controls just like a video game, you can use them with the neural interlink. They have shield systems but, I don’t know how much punishment from AFU weapons they can take. Besides, some of them can cloak.”
“The transports can go to the CC,” Quinn said, “Kimberly, let the CC know to expect visitors.”
Brad thought for a moment before saying, “Stacy, if anything happens to me.”
Stacy knew what was coming, “I’ll take care of Lilly,” she said, “Count on it.”
In the conference room, Lilly was laughing at Gina’s jokes when Quinn and the humans walked in.
Brad went over to pick Lilly up as Stuart began talking to Gina.
“We have a plan,” Stuart said, “However, you’re going to have to get everyone together so we can leave.”
Gina was surprised, “We’re not staying and waiting for help?” she asked.
Stuart shook his head, “I’m afraid not. We destroyed the elevator but the AFU are digging and will be here soon.”
Gina stood and began walking to the front, “What is the new plan?” she asked.
Stuart walked with Gina, “We’re going to the mech yard,” he said, “Brad and I are going to use the mechs to buy you time to get out.”
Gina stopped and faced Stuart, “Where are we the entire time?” she asked.
“In the tunnels,” Stuart responded, “Right below us. Quinn will give you the all clear. You then get in the transports and make a break for it.”
“Won’t Quinn be detected?” Gina asked.
“He’s an Odian,” Stuart answered, “An alien, if the AFU detects anything it’ll just be one nonhuman. Even if you’re detected, the enemy will have to get through Brad and me first.”
Brad held Lilly close, “So, stay close to Stacy,” he said, “If anything happens to me, I want you to stay with her.”
“Why do you have to go?” Lilly asked.
“My suit,” Brad answered, “It’ll hide me from the bad guys. You can’t come with because it’s going to be very dangerous and you don’t have a suit.”
Lilly dropped her head on Brad’s shoulder, “I wish I had a suit.” she said.
“Brad,” Stacy called, “I need to talk to you alone for a minute”
Brad sat Lilly down and followed Stacy into the hall.
Now alone, Stacy stood very close to Brad, “I’m very sorry things didn’t work out between us,” she began, “It’s just that you were so far away and Stuart was right here.”
Brad held Stacy by the shoulders, “It’s alright,” he assured, “I understand, you needed to move on. We both did. You found Stuart, I found Kimberly.”
Stacy looked down sullen, “I didn’t want you to find out this way.” she said.
Brad chuckled lightly, “It’s alright,” he replied, “I had my suspicions anyway.”
Gina stood at the front of the room, “May I have everyone’s attention,” she said, “There’s been a change of plans. We’re leaving through one of the old access tunnels. We wait for the signal then we get out and into transports to leave.”
There was some talk amongst the crowd.
One man raised his hand, “Why can’t we stay here?” he asked.
“The AFU are digging here as we speak.” Gina answered.
A woman raised her hand to ask, “Where are we going to go?”
Gina had no answer for that. She just stood silent for a moment.
Quinn then stepped up in front of everyone, “We can head to the CC.” he answered, “Kimberly here came from there. It has many lower levels and you’ll all be hidden deep underground.”
“Everyone, get ready,” Gina said, “We leave now. We don’t have time to wait around.”
Out in the hall, Brad and Stacy quickly separated from a hug as a door opened with Gina and Quinn leading everyone out.
Stacy wiped away what little tears she had, “We leaving already?”
“Yes,” Gina answered, “We’re going there now.”
Stuart and Kimberly exited with Kimberly carrying Lilly.
Brad approached Kimberly and Lilly to start walking with them.
Stuart did likewise with Stacy.
They would all soon see if the plan to get out was going to save their lives.