You know when that urge to write suddenly grips you? And you can't do anything else before you've put that damn idea down on digital paper? Well, I got two of those in the past two days. I know I'm late on Robotics and The Final Summoning, but don't worry, they're coming too. Probably not before the end of my exams...which, unfortunately, isn't before June, but please have patience, ne?
The Rydan Chronicles
"Join the resistance, he says! It'll be fun, he says! Well, I'm not having bloody fun now, am I?!"
"Oh, come on, you said you wanted excitement!"
"Yeah, but not the kind where you get shot at!"
"Just shut up and run, you two! I can hear the bikes!"
The sight of three people running around in the streets is no rare sight on the Rydan capitol, though having three military police bikes chasing is…somewhat rarer. Couple that with another set of bikes following the military, and the public is in for a treat of unmistakeable proportions.
The three runners – Max, Silas and Ø, respectively – were also carrying a rather large cache of firearms between them, somewhat hindered by its weight and quite cumbersome shape that made it hard to squeeze into the tight doorways and around the narrow corners they encountered. It was hard work, and knowing that the police would not hesitate for a second to open fire at them whenever they had a clear line of sight did not make things better. But it was also a comfort that said doorways and corners made it hard for the police to see them. The odds still weren't that favourable, though. They had to put their trust in the set of bikes pursuing their pursuers – though that was not entirely favourable either.
The bikers – Kil, Sor and Dy – were not the kind you'd trust with your life, especially if you had any money to your name. Contract rebels usually weren't up the moral standards of those who worked for free. They really proved it after they pulled the poor guard off the railing and into the darkness of the lower city. But if they hadn't done it, then Ø or Silas would have.
All in all, it was a complicated situation they had gotten themselves into, and if their getaway wasn't waiting at the docks, then everything would go to hell pretty quickly. Max would want to argue that things had gone to hell already, contrary to the opinions of Ø and Silas, who claimed that this time was quite mellow and relaxed compared to the other situation they had gotten themselves into at times.
It was night it seemed, for the soft, ambient glow of the panels high above them, encasing the entire planet, was almost gone. Max remembered starting the operation at high noon, when the panels glowed much like the sun outside did. Max hadn't seen the sun in years, but he could still imagine what it looked like.
"Oh-oh," he heard Silas exclaim and looked up – and cursed loudly. A dead-end.
"When in the hell did they put up this wall?" asked Max, feeling his fingers giving in to the weight of the weapons. There were no windows in this particular street, only blank, empty walls. High walls. Too high to climb. In a synchronised movement, they set the cache down on the ground. The cheaper-than-usual concrete cracked under the weight.
"Riot wall," said Ø and kicked at the wall in front of them, making a clanking noise that reverberated throughout the entire street they had just entered from. "Shouldn't be too hard to take down. Give me a few minutes."
"A few minutes?" asked Max, already going into hysterics. "The police are like seconds behind us! Are you stupid?" He felt a sharp pain in his side and saw the grinning face of Silas, inches away from his own, Silas having just shoved his elbow into said side.
"Relax, love," Silas said with a grin, "he'll fix it." He opened the cache and pulled out a Mark III Assault Rifle, a newer design, and slammed a clip into it. "We'll just have to hold them off until then." He crouched down on the other side of the crate, peeking over it as they heard the sirens coming closer. Upon noticing that Max hadn't moved, he hissed. "What the hell are you doing? Grab a gun and take cover!"
"Oi, you two better not get those guns hit, or the commander's going to be mighty pissed," commented Ø from where he was rigging up his hacking software to the door. A small pack of explosives stood on the stand-by in case the hacking didn't work.
"Why don't you just use the boom-material?" asked Silas, keeping his attention on the end of the alley.
"Because explosives like these are hard to come by," answered Ø. "This is the kind that can take out the whole neighbourhood if I set it off, and I'd rather not waste it on this flimsy wall. Now, keep me covered and don't let those bastards get close."
"What about those bikers? Why aren't they pulling their load?" asked Max while fishing out a rifle of his own. He quickly realised his 17 year-old body and neglected muscles hardly could keep the thing straight, much less fire it, and opted for a smaller handgun instead. This was of the same design as the rifles, where the manufacturer had decided to cut out the whole 'eating the user's arm'-style and opt for simpler, more conventional designs. In fact, it looked like those rifles the museums had on display.
"They probably chickened out when the military showed its ugly side," replied Ø.
"The military has a pretty side?" asked Silas, laughing slightly. Max couldn't see the humour, but he supposed that's what made Silas tick – all play and no work.
"No, it has an ugly side, and a really ugly side. Much like your mother," said Ø, earning an ire look form his partner.
"Didn't I tell you to leave my mom out of this?" Silas snarled.
"Heads up! Here they come!" shouted the voice of Dy as his bike came careening around the corner, burning and sputtering smoke. The biker hurled himself form his flaming stallion as it hurdled over the riot wall. He slammed into the wall with a grunt and almost landed on his head. He immediately rolled onto his side and drew a handgun – one of illegal design and manufacture, obviously – and dove in next to Silas and Max.
"Where are the other two?" asked Max.
"Gone," said Dy simply, checking his magazine. "We were caught in an ambush following you guys. I managed to get ahead of the original three cops and came here to warn ya. They should be here in three, two, one…"
A loud siren blurted as flashing lights came into the alley. The powerful headlights landed on Ø, who paid the sudden extremely bright light no heed.
Silas needed no further incentive and opened fire on the police bike, showering Max with empty shell casings – hot ones. One of the little cylinders landed on the inside of Max's shirt, scolding the skin beneath. He pulled it out and hurled it away, trying to shout at Silas that he was a prick, but the thundering rifle silenced all other sounds. Dy now started shooting at the police, his rate of fire much higher than what was legal for handguns.
Max looked over the edge of the crate, seeing three, four—no, five pairs of headlights at the end of the alley, all firing back at them. A bullet whizzed by Max's eye, making him duck.
"Why are they staying at the end of the alley?" shouted Max.
"I dunno, but I'm not complainin'!" shouted Dy. Silas, on the other hand, got a worried expression on his face and looked upwards. Max and Dy did as well. There was nothing above them, apart from the many ships flying in traffic above them and the permanent roof over the planet.
"Hey, Ø," shouted Silas, "you haven't seen…" he trailed off when a bike suddenly came flying over the wall, positioning itself right above Ø, aiming its guns at the three behind the crate.
"Attention, rebel terrorists, you are under arrest. Lay down your weapons immediately and you will be spared!" said an amplified voice.
"Ah, shut up you Imp bastard," said Ø and pulled a small shotgun from under his coat, aiming upwards and firing off one, two, three, four shots in rapid succession. A shriek could be heard as the bullets hit the target and sparks flew from the bike, which quickly spun out of control and disappeared over the wall. A loud boom and a small ball of flame told them that the bike had exploded.
Everything became quiet. Far too quiet considering what had just happened. Where was the rest of the police force? Surely, five officers under fire would warrant at least a special team? And where were the five cops anyway? The shooting from the end of the alley had been silenced. Due to the positioning of the headlights, they couldn't see anything behind them.
"I think they're dead," said Ø and went back to his hacking. Dy cautiously stood up from behind the crate, his body tense as he waited for the first bullet to penetrate his body. Nothing. Seeing his chance, he sprinted up to the collection of bikes and disappeared behind the lights. Triumphant laughter was heard.
"He's right! They're all dead!" Dy shouted.
Silas and Max also stood up now, wondering what would be next. The answer came five seconds later.
"Ah! Bollocks to this," exclaimed Ø and packed away his equipment. "Why am I fiddling with this damn wall if we can just fly over it?" he asked and made his way to the crate. "We'll mount this between two bikes you two will fly—"he pointed at Max and Dy—"while Silas and I will fly escort. I will lead the way and Silas will watch your back. I know the way to the docks where our getaway is docked."
It took surprisingly little time to attach the crate between the two bikes. It was crude, of course, but functional. A little bit of the wire that all police officers kept in their bikes for towing purposes went a long way.
And so they took off, a rag-tag group of rebels, a rebel cadet and a biker, flying between and through the various high-rise buildings of the Rydan capitol, ducking away from the police bikes that were ever on their tails. They had just reached the massive docking system when about a dozen police bikes appeared form behind a transport ship that was in the process of attaching itself to the massive arm that jutted from the main dock building.
It was not necessary to be within audible range of Silas to hear his cursing; his body language said more than a thousand swears. Ø made his way over to Max and Dy, shouting over the rushing wind.
"Evasive action," he announced and fished out his shotgun, preparing to fire it with one hand. "Max, biker, swoop down below that transport, find dock number twenty-thirty-one, got it? Silas and I will keep the Imps occupied. The password is Orion!"
Max nodded and looked at Dy, who grinned and prepared for demanding manoeuvring. Doing it on a single bike would be a piece of cake, but with two bikes connected to a large crate containing weapons weighing…a lot of kilos, it was going to be one hell of a challenge.
Gripping the handlebars, Max took a deep breath and nodded at Dy. Simultaneously, they throttled and dipped downwards, going underneath the flat transport, whose crew was currently having difficulty with deciding whether or not to assist the police by moving in front of the criminals or not doing anything at all judging by the jerky movements.
"Hey," screamed Dy, "one more jerk and that thing's gonna—yup, there it goes."
The transport crashed into the central docking building, tearing the arm with it and exploding into a brilliant ball of flame and showering the docks below, probably much to the annoyance of the various captains and crews.
They were unable to see the remaining crash as they sped by it and into the maze that were the various sections of the system, both of them spying after the number 2031 desperately. They could hear gunshots over the creaking and squeaking of the hulk of the transport being pulled out of the docking building by gravity and hurled downwards, breaking more and more bays as it went. Max had to concentrate fully on finding docking bay 2031 lest the guilt of knowing that hundreds, maybe thousands of innocent people would die as a result of getting that big ship dropped on their heads. Maybe joining the rebellion really was one of his biggest mistakes…
"There's twenty-twenty, going up!" shouted Dy and pulled at his bike, Max quickly doing the same. Going ninety degrees upwards put an incredible strain on Max, who could feel his arms lengthening as he clung on for his life.
All sound was now drowned out by the wind blowing by them from the gigantic fans somewhere below. Dy seemed to be counting, his head bobbing up and down while his lips moved, forming the words twenty-five, twenty-six…
Suddenly, he screamed. "Brake! Brake now, ya bastard!"
It was just in time. 2031 was, curiously enough, just up under the roof of the maze. If Dy hadn't slammed on the brakes, they would have crashed into it. A flood of light suddenly erupted to their right, and they both went blind as something large floated up to them. They felt hot engines and heard the noises. They had found the contact. The lights went away and a small square of weak light replaced it along with a silhouette of a man in the middle.
"About time you showed up. We were about to leave when that transport crashed into the harbour. Come on, get, the cargo hold's open!"
Dy and Max manoeuvred the bikes and crate into the cargo hold of the ship and powered down the engines. Max was about to throw himself to the floor and kiss it in relief when someone did it for him. The throwing part, at least. He let out a surprised yell, but quenched it when he felt something cold, round and hard pressed into the back of his head.
"What's the password?" barked a rough voice.
Max felt panic welling up. He couldn't remember the password.
"Captain, they're not saying anything! We should kill them right now, they could be leading the military here!" shouted a voice in Rydan, his harsh voice turning the already—to Max, at least—horribly-sounding language even worse.
"No, I do not want unnecessary bloodshed on my watch," said the voice of their greeter.
"Orion!" shouted Dy, who had gotten the same treatment as Max.
"See, Sergeant?" asked the greeter, presumably the captain. "They knew the password. They just needed a bit of…persuasion." Max felt the grip on his head easing and disappearing before someone hauled him off the floor. The ship wasn't large, not by any standard, barely room for the crate, the bikes and the people inside. The bikes were thrown out the back by some of the armed men, all wearing masks, including the captain. "Where's Ø and Silas?" asked the captain.
"They…they stayed behind to delay the military police," answered Max, wondering if they were dead or captured. Surely they couldn't have fought off all those bikes in the middle of the inferno created by that damn transport?
"Then we'll have to assume they're dead and move on. Sergeant, tell the pilot to get us out of here," said the captain, his face falling. "Goddamn, Ø, not you too…"
A pair of twin roars behind them alerted them to the presence of two more bikes, and before the other rebels on the ships could fumble with their weapons to point them at the threat, the two bikes entered the holding area of the ship and deactivated immediately. A long, brown coat flapped in the draft from the open cargo door, and Ø's face looked sour. Silas, on the other hand, was smiling like a madman and blinked at Max.
"Ejil? The hell are you doing here?" asked Ø, his face a mix of surprise and grimness.
"Every now and then I prefer to do a bit of legwork, you know?" said the captain and grinned. "Good to see you still alive, Ghost. Shall we get out of here?"
"Indeed we shall."
Everyone strapped themselves into seats after securing the cargo and dumping the other two bikes, and Max happened to be seated next to a window. He could see flashes of flame from between the many docking arms and ships. Ø, or Ghost, or whatever his name was, had seated himself next to him. Across the aisle, Dy was looking nervously out the window, his face a mask of sadness, no doubt for the demise of his two friends.
The rebel ship roared out of the docking system, past the gaping, flaming hole in the building and into the night sky, speeding upwards – toward the capsule that encased the planet.
"Uh…" said Max, not knowing whether or not he should warn the others about the very thick plates designed to absorb sunlight and transfer it directly to the planet's core.
"Don't worry, kid, they've got it," said GhØst.
Max felt something detach from the sides of the ship and roar ahead of them. "What was—"
"Missiles, of course."
He never heard the explosion, but the wreckage and flames floating by the window told him everything.
The rebel ship flew out from the hole and into space.
"We did it!" shouted Dy, "we goddamn did it!"
Max didn't feel like celebrating. Something ominous hung over him still.
"He's not right, you know," said GhØst. "We still have to lure our way past the fleet and practically the rest of the navy."
"All that…for so little?" asked Max, wondering why they hadn't just stolen the weapons from one of the colonies or convoys.
GhØst laughed. "Heh, it's not about the weapons. It's about what's under them."
Max looked at Ghost. "Under them?"
GhØst patted him on the shoulder. "Nevermind about that. Just know that you've done the rebellion a great favour by getting that crate here. I'm not sure if we'll get out of this alive, but it's worth trying. In any case, you did well. Welcome to the rebels."
Max really couldn't decide on whether it was a good thing or not.