Reads: 9

Morning went exactly as I had suspected. Travis was nowhere to be found, and neither was that suspicious guide Teresa.

“Great,” I muttered.

By the time I made it to the Topdecks, the sun had begun to peek over the horizon.

Apparently Jim had confirmed that the no-man’s land did not extend north of the Seaburgs, which meant I could safely fly along the coast until I reached Chandonis.

But as I flew to the rocky shore, I noticed some people sitting there.

“Ah! Blake, my man,” I called, landing on the rock next to him. “How’ve you been?”

“Not so hot,” he replied, sitting up.

“Where’s everyone else?”

“Hang on.” Blake raised a finger and screeched his screamers.

Someone screamed back, but it sounded smoother and less scratchy. What, did Bernicia get her scales polished or something? But then, even if she had, I felt like…

Oh! It was a new aeronaut. “Gen 4, I presume?” I asked as she emerged from behind the rock.

“Yeah. I’m Angelina Foxx.”

“So here’s the rundown,” Blake began. “First things first, Roy entrusted me with his stuff before he… uh, left me behind.”

“Ugh, another deserter? What a pain,” I sighed, sitting down with them. “Did he at least tell you any decent info?”

“More than just info, Kit- we found Metacorps! Then we tried to raid it, but…” He shrugged. “There was this gatekeeper. She wrecked us good.”

“No kidding?” I needed to see that for myself.

“No kidding. It was five to one, and we still lost! Look here.” Blake opened up the laptop and clicked through some files in the METACORPS folder. “She called herself Kisha Romanell, and she wore metal battle armor like the Guy’s.” He showed me the screen: a diagram of the Guy’s body suit, labeled HANKS P1, and a more feminine design next to it, labeled HANKS Q2.

“Hanks? As in Jim Hanks?”

“Who?” Blake asked.

“Ah.” Angelina shifted.

“He’s someone I met while I was investigating,” I explained. “The name can’t be a coincidence.”

“I see,” Blake nodded, pulling up a search bar. “Hmm. Well, the leader of Metacorps is named Benson Hanks. Apparently he led the design and production of that armor… along with the nerbo round, and the drone fighters too.”

“Anything on Jim?” A thought occurred to me. “Oh! Try searching ‘earthmover’ for me.”

“Uhm, sure.” Blake did another search. “Huh, nothing’s turning up in the Metacorps database. Maybe he’s not affiliated with them…”

“Then try Neocon or QI! I just KNOW Jim has something to do with Atticus,” I insisted, “and the sooner we find him, the better!”

“Whoa, there, let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Blake told me. “We’re low on manpower, and we got stomped at our first real obstacle. What we need to do is reunite with our pals as soon as possible, and that means going back to Metacorps.”

“Hmm.” I crossed my arms. “I suppose you have a point.”

“Of course I do! Come on, follow us.”

Soon we were flying north along the coast. The morning sun feels nice, I decided.

“So,” Blake casually began.

“Don’t ask,” I replied.

“Ah. Must not have been a happy parting,” he noted. “Anyway, we made the mistake of trying the front entrance last time, so we’ve decided to approach from behind this time.”

“You should have done that first,” I retorted. “Honestly; your first real mission without me, and it gets totally botched.”

“Don’t flatter yourself! Did you already forget when WE had to rescue YOU? Twice!”

“You did not rescue me the first time,” I shot back.

“Details, details. Okay, listen.” Blake suddenly got serious. “We found out about a brand of biotool called firemen. If they’re anything like us, they will probably be well trained and hunting for us, since we killed most of the normal guards the first time.”

“Makes sense,” I nodded. “We’ll make a night approach, then?”

“Indeed. It’ll give us time to gather info in the city.”

“Gather info? What can we possibly find in Chandonis?”

“Hey, you never know.”

“You just want to buy donuts, don’t you.”

Submitted: May 04, 2021

© Copyright 2021 jraed6. All rights reserved.


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