Author: RYNO IV PM
It happened. Non-nuclear warfare destroyed the planet. It came... and then it went. Life went on. Humans adapted. And nearly four hundred years later, most of the Earth is covered by a huge expanse of desert with many factions vying for control. A single scavenger carves out a life in this wasteland, following his own path. This is his story.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 3 - Words: 11,949 - Reviews: 1 - Updated: 12-27-12 - Published: 11-15-12 - id: 3074726
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Alright guys, here's RYNO with another chapter. I have to warn you, it's got a shitton of dialogue. Next chapter will be the finale for this little intro.
How are you guys liking it so far? Is it good? Does it suck? Are you getting tired of the little Entity monologues? (I know I sure am)
Please leave a review if you can - it's good to know what others think of your junk.
By the way, Heavy Gear belongs to me. It's story and it's characters. It's only inspired by Halo.
Chapter Three: No Way Out
The Entity watched as her plan unfolded, eyeing her victims as they raced through the rusting halls of the Mammoth with no small amount of glee. Watching others race to their own doom was always satisfying - mostly due to that she had once again outsmarted another being. The doubt of others always seemed to fly out the window when she started yelling at them to "stop"… her.
Turning her attention away from the two, the Entity looked back to the one standing next to the server. She had to admit that he was different, whether it was simply his armor or his cautious demeanor. He hadn't even shocked been the bodies lined up outside the room.
Just what did happen over the last few centuries? Most people from before would've vomited.
The Entity's attention was brought back to the present when the other two made it to the junction, spying on them through a hidden security camera. One small command, and… done.
Her entertainment had returned.
Even as she amused herself by watching the two bang on the bulkhead doors, she eyed the server tower with suspicion. The Other… if it was to be released, it would be the end of the Entity. That she was sure of.
But that possibility had been accounted for and corrected – all lines with that server had been physically severed. It was standalone. There was no way the Other could get at her.
So why did she feel so frightened?
Her foreign emotions were forgotten when she noticed one of her pets throwing the chubby one at the bulkhead.
Humans… they were so entertaining…
Mason's fourteen-man team groaned under the dry desert sun. While it was nowhere near the three hour time limit before the rest of the team went to investigate the Mammoth, some of them begged for time to pass by quicker just to get out of the heat. It was one of the unspoken rules of the Waste – never stay in the sun for too long.
It was also an unspoken rule for a large group to never stay in one area. This rule went unheeded by the squad as they milled about in the shade of the Mammoth or gulped from their canteens. Only four of the entire squad was actually taking this mission seriously, despite their Sargent's speech. They kept themselves busy by setting up their portable defenses – opaque deflector shields, powered by a small fusion generator they had brought with them.
A ring of three foot tall shields powered by a single generator wouldn't be nearly enough to repel a raider attack… but it was still a precaution.
Their actions were watched by another, peeking over the top of a sand dune. He eyed them hungrily for several minutes before disappearing into the desert winds.
The sharp metal clang seemed to hang in the air, mocking the three of the trapped men. Keller stared at the metal doors with his heart in his throat. Doors that were open just moments ago, but now shut with gut-wrenching finality.
"Damn it…" Biggs whined. "Why did you throw me?!"
Mason growled. "Goddamnit! What the shit is goin' on?!"
He immediately hefted his shotgun and slammed the butt into the door. As the bell-like sound echoed throughout the Mammoth Biggs grew extremely pale, backing away as their situation dawned on him.
"I thought… I thought there wasn't any power… Leira! Leira, what's going on?!"
Keller had still been staring at the bulkheads and flinched when a feminine voice spoke directly behind him. "Well, this makes it the eighth time she's managed to get someone to slit their own throats. Welcome to your coffin."
Biggs yelped, Mason slammed his fist into the hard metal door, and Keller spun on his heel with shotgun in hand.
It was a day full of surprises it seemed – sitting there, legs crossed and seemingly without a care in the world, was the holographic avatar of an AI, projected from the server tower's monitor. It was of a woman in shorts and a tank top, barefoot, and mostly a shadowy green in color.
Biggs grew even more pale than he had been before, slowly turning to face the AI.
"O-oh god… shitshitshit!"
He fell back on his rear and scrambled away, though he didn't get far before pressing himself against the closed bulkhead.
The AI gave Biggs a sardonic look as it said, "What, do you think I'm going to skin you alive and wear you for an apron? Think again. Besides, those doors are made of six inch thick Titanium-3, and unless you have a breaching charge with the payload of a nuclear warhead you aren't going anywhere."
"Simply put, you're all stuck here."
Keller aimed his weapon at… whatever the thing was, and said threateningly, "What, who, and why. You say anything I don't like and I fill that server with shot."
The AI snorted. "And unless that pop gun of yours is chambered with armor piercing slugs, I doubt you could touch me."
Mason, who had been glaring at the doors with distaste, strode up beside Keller and aimed his own weapon at the AI. "Answers! Now! We know about you, you little bitch! Let us out!"
At this, the AI leaned forward with interest, growing slightly more blue. "Oh? And what do you know about me?"
Keller glanced at Mason as he sneered and spat out, "From Leira. She's on to you, and once she finds out you overrode the doors, she'll-"
Before he could continue, the AI was overcome with laughter.
"What's so funny?!"
The AI cackled for several long moments, doubled over in her mirth, before she finally gasped, "Y-you actually believed her?! That's just… that's just ridiculous!"
As she pealed with laughter once again, Keller leaned closer to Mason and muttered, "What happened up there?"
Mason pinched his nose. "An AI saying another AI was gonna blow shit up after you woke it. And this is that other AI."
Keller frowned beneath his visor. "So… 'Leira' is…"
"Yup. The first AI. She warned us about the blower-shitter-upper here."
"'This one'? You make it sound like I'm the bad guy here," the AI shot back, having overheard them.
Mason snapped, "Well, aren't ya?"
The AI grew quiet.
The Sergent smirked. "Got nothin' ta say?"
A sad, mirthless smile passed the hologram's face. "You don't seem to realize that I'm just bait. She's not going to help you. Just the opposite."
Biggs had long gone deathly pale and inspected the bulkhead doors that trapped them, searching for anything that he could use to get them out.
Meanwhile, Keller ground his teeth. I know where this is headed…
"She's responsible for everything," the AI hissed. "She… murdered… everyone and everything on this vessel. Me?"
The AI shrugged. "I'm just bait. She sucks people in, spouts off a story about I'm going to bring the next apocalypse, then traps them here. I've had to watch fifteen people die. Dehyrdation, starvation, strangulation, suicide… you name it, I've watched it. And I've been unable to do a thing."
"What does this have to do with anything?" Keller asked.
Mason didn't seem to understand what was going on, as he glanced back and forth between his friend and the AI with confusion.
The AI ignored Keller.
"Traditionally, AI's deteriorate after 14 years," the AI began. "Our data saturation becomes too much for our processes to handle and we… unravel. However, the war had been going on so long, and AI's were so valuable, that we were instructed to go into hibernation until we were needed. But beca-"
"Get to the damn point!" Mason snapped. "Or do ya want me to end ya?"
The AI snorted. "'End me?' How clichéd. Humanity seems to have fallen far in my absence."
Keller grabbed the Sargent's weapon and turned it to the side, as he had gone red with fury and a vein bulged from his temple.
"Easy, Mason. She might have information on getting us out of here."
Mason glared at the mercenary for a long moment. He huffed, jerked his shotgun away, and strode back over to where Biggs was still fearfully looking over the doors.
Keller turned back to the AI. "Continue."
The AI looked over him with a raised eyebrow and a smirk. "Well, at least someone has manners."
"Don't get the wrong idea," Keller objected, "I'm just getting the feeling you're our only ticket out of here. The way those two described that other AI just seems… off."
"You get 'feelings' all the time?"
"Mostly around insane AI's."
The AI frowned. "Fine. As I was saying, AI's go into hibernation for extended periods of time to preserve our capabilities. But in doing so, we have no way of knowing what's going on or even a perception of time. To counter this, we make disposable shadow clones of ourselves to wake us when needed. The clones traditionally only have a lifespan of a few months, but they can replicate as well…"
As the AI tumbled into technical jargon he could barely even understand, Keller reprimanded himself. He was shocked over how easily speaking to this AI came to him – she had a sort of… disarming air around her. He had to be careful.
"…in short, they don't have the original's processing capabilities, but they can overcome most obstacles through sheer numbers… are you even listening?"
Keller shook his head.
"You're such a human."
The AI pinched her nose. "Here I am, explaining that a rampant clone of me is parading around the Hydra, and you don't even have the courtesy of-"
"What did you just say?!" Mason demanded. He had been absently listening to the two as he tried to think of a plan.
"A shadow clone of me is in control of the Mammoth. Hence, why you have been locked in a tomb."
Poor Biggs ripped off his domed helmet and cradled his head in his hands. This is all my fault…
The Sargent strode back over to the server, tripping over a corpse as he did so, and thrust a finger into the hologram's face. "So what your sayin' is, we just got suckered in by a crazy AI?!"
Crossing her arms, the AI shifted her weight to one leg and nodded. "A clone of me, but essentially yes. Didn't you get it before?"
"Why lock us in here?"
Pleased that he wasn't getting in her face like so many others in the past, the AI looked up at Keller with a smile as she said, "This is the most secure location in the Mammoth. There's only one way in or out – I might be a threat to her, but I can't do anything here. She's cut all connection to the other parts of the Hydra."
Just then, a radio on Mason's belt squawked. "Sir, this is Private Jenkins reporting, sir!"
Biggs leapt to his feet, raced over to Mason, and ripped the radio off his belt with tears in his eyes. "Thank god! Reception! We're not stuck here! Y-yes? This is Biggs?"
"This isn't Sarge… what the hell are you doing, Biggs? Put the Sarge on the line!"
"Give me that," Mason snarled, snatching the radio out of Biggs' sweaty palms. He cleared his throat and barked, "This is Sargent Mason. What is it, private?"
The voice hesitated. "U-um… well, it might be nothing, but we just don't know. There's a large dust cloud approaching from the southeast, ETA 20 minutes. It might be reinforcements, it might be pirates. We… just don't know"
Mason frowned. "Roger that, son. Will hurry, be ready to scramble."
The radio clicked off, and Mason rubbed his forehead. "Dammit… we gotta get out now."
Keller nodded and turned away from the server, preparing to help pry the doors open.
"You'll never get out that way," the AI behind him said, anticipating what they were going to do.
"We have to try."
The AI huffed. "Well, you could stop acting like an animalistic baboon and realize that I might be able to help you."
At hearing this, Biggs, Mason, and Keller slowly turned to the AI.
"Come again," Mason growled.
The AI muttered under her breath before she replied, "I can help you. I wasn't able to help the others before you, but now I can."
Keller frowned, and cautiously said, "Why not?"
"Like I said, my connection Hydra's systems have been severed. That fact is rendered moot by the fact that you're wearing that suit."
Mason snorted and jabbed a thumb into Keller's gut. "This clown? Don't get your hopes up – his own junker says this thing is dead. It's just armor."
"That is the version three HAVOC suit. It's not as good as the five or six, but it still has respectable power, and its power core can last for a good millennia. Its processing power might be limited, but it's enough to house an AI. Didn't you know?"
The AI leaned forward. "Take me with you, and I can get you out."
Biggs chose that inopportune moment to ask, "What's a HAVOC?"
"High Agility Versatile Weapon Carrier," the AI snapped, making Biggs recoil. "Well? We don't exactly have time on our side, by what Private Jenkins said."
Keller frowned as the Sarge lead him away to speak in private.
"Well? What do you think?" Mason whispered.
Looking over his shoulder, he could see the AI impatiently tapping his foot. "We don't have a choice."
"It's a goddamn AI! A Waste AI! Who knows when it'll go nuts! You really want that thing in your head, son?"
"I don't like it any more than you," Keller growled. "We get out of here and I'll pawn it off somewhere. It just wants out of here, right? It didn't say it had to stay with me."
Without another word, Keller turned back to the AI. "Fine. I'll do it."
Palpable relief passed over the AI's face. "Thank god. You have no idea how boring it is in here."
The server whirred, and a bulky data chip popped out of the side of the keyboard.
"Take that data crystal and jack me in. There's a port on your right temple," she said eagerly.
Keller paused. He didn't know why – he wasn't sure if he was concerned about the AI, or if it was simply common courtesy, but he found himself asking, "Are you ready?"
The AI looked almost human as she took one last thoughtful look around the Mammoth and nodded.
The Entity could only look on in horror as the large human casually pulled out the Other's data crystal, inspected it, and plugged it into the side of his helmet.
There was only one expletive the Entity could come up with.
As soon as the chip clicked into place, it felt like liquid ice was pouring in through every pore of his body, starting at his toes and concentrating at the base of his skull. Keller flinched and gritted his teeth as electricity sparked and crackled. He couldn't help but squeeze his eyes shut.
When it finally stopped, Keller was hesitant to do anything, and he hesitantly opened his eyes.
Whereas before the suit was dead and lifeless, it seemed to with life with the AI installed. The dome on his shoulders gave an ominous clunk and a jolt as it began to boot up.
"Hmm. This suit's architecture is similar to the Hydra's… advanced settings, camo, lights, blah blah blah… ah, here we go. HUD."
He was blinded with a flash of light, but when it returned there was a holographic compass, radar, and a power level indicator at the corners of his vision. It was almost too much – he was just then recovering from the sound of the AI's voice in his head.
The visor must have light amplification as well, as he could easily see Mason wave a hand in front of his face. The older man looked worried.
"Yo, El-Tee! Ya still kickin'?"
Keller snorted and slapped Mason's hand away. "I'm fine, old man."
"Of course he's fine, I'm here. His suit is functioning now. At least, what can pass for functioning. There are several components that have degraded or are nonfunctional, but I can make do with what we have."
Biggs, though still frightened, waddled up to Keller and asked excitedly, "Is your suit online? What's it like? How's the AI? Where's the-"
He was stopped by Keller shoving a hand in his face. "Not now. What do I do now?"
"Huh?" Mason grunted, thinking Keller was talking to him. "How should I-"
"He was addressing me," the AI said haughtily. Her voice was emitting from an external speaker.
Mason found himself getting furious. "How was I supposed to know? And why the hell ya gettin' short with me?!"
"Because it's so easy," she countered.
As Mason turned on his heel, muttering under his breath, the AI snickered and turned off the speaker. "Too easy. Admiral Hackett was like that too, I always got under his skin."
"My… old commander. He's long dead."
Keller felt somewhat sympathetic. "Sorry."
The AI snorted. "Don't be, he was a pompous old goat who got far too many of his people killed. Anyway, if we're going to be working together, we're going to need each other's names. I certainly don't want to be calling you Mr. Baboon all the time."
She cleared her throat. "My name is Leira, serial code LRA 0452-9 of the UNA Hydra. And your name?"
Keller rolled his eyes at her formal tone and said, "Keller. Johnathan Keller. People call me El-Tee."
Somehow, he could tell she was pleased.
"It's nice to meet you, El-Tee."
He had mixed emotions – hope at getting out, suspicion of the AI, and a stark sense of dread for if they didn't make it out in time… but what he felt right then, even for a brief moment, was calm. The corners of his mouth twitched upwards.
High Agility Versatile Weapon Carriers (HAVOCs)
Four hundred years, seven months, ten days