Crouched inside a decimated building and under a broken window, a small figure fully clothed in black from the head down to its toes waits patiently for the Alabast to pass. The person holds in its breath when it hears the crunching of debris on snow from the other side of the wall. The Alabast ceases its movement, then scans with a grid of pale green light over the figure’s head, toward the charred wall adjacent to where the human is crouching. The person freezes and dares not move a muscle, for even the slightest movement can be caught in the Alabast’s scans. A light crackle and sputter sounds in the person’s ear followed by a soft, male voice.
“Don’t move. We have it in our sights. It’s alone.”
Relief eases the tense shoulders of the human, but even if the other two members of the group have the Alabast in their sights, the human cannot fall under the pretense of security. The smallest mistake or a slight miscalculation can be the end of all of them. The human’s fingers strain to reach for the modified pistol on its left hip, but it musn't take the chance of giving away its position.
A slow, shaky breath escapes inside the metal mask the human has strapped on its head. Panic tightens its throat as well as its chest, and for the first time since it has dawned the mask months ago, it is desperate for the winter’s air against its face.
The human scans the interior of the building for any escape routes. The upper half of the building had been turned to rubble and chunks of debris is strewn all over the floor, making any attempt to run difficult. The human focuses on steadying its breathing, relying on faith that the other members are quickly devising a plan to destroy the damn alien. Its heart palpitates at a quicker rate when the green light has yet to be removed from the wall.
'It knows I’m here,' the human realizes with trepidation.
Through the human’s peripheral vision a white, metallic claw grasps the edges of the broken glass behind it. A few shards break under its grip and falls on the human’s head. The human’s blood runs cold when it senses the Alabast coming in closer, and it can figure that without a doubt its white head is looming directly over it. The human grips its knees. Only now can it feel the strain in its thighs and heels from crouching in one position for too long. Only now the weight of the securely strapped pistol on its hip is eminently heavy. There is nothing that can be done except to rely on its members. The mask cackles again, and the human takes a sharp intake of breath at the stupidity of its team.
“AHHHHHHH!” A member screams in its ear. The human looks above and meets six red glowing circles, but the Alabast does not making any sort of attempt to subdue or capture the human.
“Hurry! The program we’ve uploaded won’t last for long and will be overridden. Shoot it now!”
Instinctively, the human retracts the pistol from its hip before being given the command to do so. As it pulls the trigger, the Alabast slowly moves its hand toward the human’s face, but the figure clad in black does not make an attempt to retract from its claws. Instead, it glowers up with its two glowing blue circles for eyes. The hilt rumbles in the palm of its hands as a pulse of yellow light emits from the gun’s barrel and strikes the lower abdomen. The human consistently shoots at the same spot to break past the protective armor and into where its core is located. The Alabast’s movement becomes more agile while it tries to quickly override the faulty program the member’s hacker and programmer installed it with. The human refuses to step away from it and continues until the illuminating white core is finally revealed. The human shoots it twice then backs away as it explodes. The Alabast sputters, twitches and gags before its red eyes shuts off to black, then its limp body falls on the snow.
The human pants heavily into the mask's filter--releasing the excess adrenaline in her blood. As it exits the building two other persons come toward its direction.
The human cocks its head to the side as it looks directly at a male wearing a clown mask and a multi-colored purple and yellow shirt. The hacker, Kloun, places both hands on his hips.
“My pistol malfunctioned and our only other option that would have saved you in time was to use Korotkiy’s new program. And the only way it can operate was to have the Drone target you. So, being the only target, we needed to have its attention directed at you.” He shrugs with indifference, but then slowly adds, “Prestee.”
The human nods to the apology, then extends its hand for Kloun’s pistol. The bright blue lens scans and analyzes the machinery to bring up details of the gun’s schematics on its thick glasses. The human locates the problem and, with nimble and quick movements, fixes the pistol in an instant.
After handing the pistol back to Kloun, the human turns to Korotkiy – a small male, about the same height as the human, and dawns a gas mask. It questions with skepticism, “Did the Alabast have to target me for the program to work?” The voice comes out deep and electronic---as does Korotkiy’s:
The human stares back with certainty that the young man used it as a testing subject for a new program he developed. When Korotkiy remains passive and quiet, the human finally looks away and back to Kloun, who has already pulled up a virtual map of Moscow's dilapidated state and their location from a hand-sized pad. Kloun touches on a location that replicates where they are standing, minus the fallen Alabast. A green dot indicates their location, then he side scrolls through different routes and entry ways, passing by several other green dots which signify humans with open devices.
"Nothing red. All green. We should be safe for now," Kloun says as he motions his thumb to turn it off, but the map distorts and sputters off and on.
A static voice erupts within the human’s mask as well as Kloun’s and Korotkiy.
“This guy was able to break through my firewall…,” Korotkiy says with much disapproval.
“Patch it through,” the human commands.
The two look up with, what the human can feel are, questioning gazes, but Kloun obeys without question. Even with the interference, the human is able to vaguely pinpoint the voice it so desperately wishes it to be. Kloun clears the static to allow the audio come through everyone’s helmets, and opens a video feed of a man with a disarray of blonde hair and stubble. The human halts any movement it may have done and stares with great intensity.
“Hello.” There is a slight lag in the video, but enough clarity in the footage for the human to recognize the face. “This is Josef Plattner, an electrical engineer of the FKA. I am sending this footage from a janitor’s closet in the lowest level of the FKA’s main building. We have been on lock-down since the attack five months ago, and none of us have been able to contact the outside. We are being subdued by the radicals who view the Alabasts as their gods. They have taken extreme measures and precautions to those of us who are against their views. It simply ranges from torture until we break and submit to their goals,” he pauses, “to simple extermination. I, along with a few of my trusted colleagues, have been on the run from them since, and it’s finally taking a toll on us. We have, however, been able to successfully break into their data files and pull up some documents I have never seen before. I assume it has something to do with the Drones, along with some other plans. Something about the melding of synthetic and organic bodies. Whatever it is… It’s not good, and their progress has been in their favor thus far. There’s not much we can do that won’t get our covers blown, but I am able to attach the building’s blueprints to this message and hope whoever sees this will help us.” Desperation fills his blue eyes. “Humanity may come to an end as we know it. Plattner out.”
The video shuts off and the map of Moscow reappears. Silence among the trio follows.
“It’s three miles away. We’re going?” Kloun asks.
“I don’t see why not,” Korotkiy replies.
The human releases a breath of relief at the favorable decision the two males picked.