“Palace” of the “King” part 2 of 6

Below is part 2 of my short story, appx. 7 pages. Feel free to comment or share. Enjoy!

Cutter allowed himself three minutes to recover. When he felt as good as he figured he was going to, he lifted the wood panel off and moved back into the living room towards the kitchen. He moved briskly to the kitchen window and peered out: four Closterim, performing what appeared to be patrol duty. He spent the next five minutes studying their movements until he figured out a path he could take to sneak past them and make it to the other side of the street. There were three houses but one of them looked destroyed; Spezzna was not likely in that one. One of the other two had boarded up windows which Cutter, knowing Spezzna, took to mean that was where he was hiding until help would arrive.

He picked a precise time when the Closterim split into two pairs and had their backs turned to each other. He jumped out the window and navigated around broken glass and burned-up cars until he was halfway across the street. A Closterim guard suddenly turn its head towards him and Cutter ducked underneath the engine of one of the smoldering cars.

“Is something there?”  The Closterim said in a metallic voice as Cutter’s heart almost stopped at the sound of it. A couple of seconds passed, and he felt a rush of adrenalin enter his blood. As the cyborg approached his hiding spot, Cutter prepared himself to get up and fight, but the Closterim guard walked by without looking underneath.

“What did you find?” Another Closterim said from far away in the same metallic voice.

“Nothing alive.” The Closterim near Cutter kicked the ground and a small piece of hard dirt popped up. A Sun Sword slammed into the ground and twisted around to form a small hole but, just as suddenly as they had come, the Closterim patrol moved away and Cutter breathed a sigh of relief.

He waited a few more seconds and slowly moved out from underneath the engine, his eyes darting in all directions for any signs of other patrols. They were moving closer but they were still not facing him. Cutter crawled back underneath the smoldering vehicle and went out the other side. He crawled fifteen yards until he was on the blown-up pavement on the other side of the street; the Mirror Suit was successfully hiding his body from the cyborgs.

There was another smoldering vehicle- a minivan- half-way on the pavement near the house Pyrotek assumed Spezzna was hiding in. Cutter moved to the side of the minivan facing the house and waited for the Closterims’ patrol route to take them away from his side of the road. He pulled out a Finger Mirror-named for its three-way angles and finger size- and peered around the front passenger’s side of the van. Once he was certain no one was looking, he crawled through the grass until he reached the front door of the house directly across the street from him. Incredibly, despite the immense destruction to North Point, the grass in this yard was still green.

An underground water system, he thought as he used the ASL to cut a hole in the door. After entering he used the green laser to seal the hole. That means the original source of water is still clean and flowing. If I find it we can get drink refills before moving on to Red Valley. That thought reminded him of how very thirsty he was.

Cutter heard a chirping sound behind him and he jumped; he instinctively reaching for his K-24 and pointing it into the empty, broken down house in front of him. The chirping disappeared and was replaced with the eerie silence of an abandoned house which had gone through more than most houses go through in their lifetimes; the ceiling had several cannonball-sized holes, exposing the orange sunlight from the outside. Furniture was overturned and on the ground was a photo which had only the bottom half of people’s bodies visible. Cutter had the feeling something else was in the house with him. The Closterim were patrolling the street outside, so it couldn’t be them; his thoughts turned to the Delightful Devils Platoon- four women who had been sent to Hell and back and, in their rage and misery, allowed their bodies to be transformed into machines in order to let their human bodies live their remaining days as physically pain-free as possible while they searched for the one responsible for their agony. And Cutter had heard, because he had been involved in blowing up a nuclear power plant near New Davenport where the women were from, that he was the one they held responsible-

The chirping came again and sounded like a monkey this time. Cutter tapped his built-in phones. “You can send KeyKey,” he said to Pyrotek. “I’m alone.”

“I saw,” Pyrotek said as the two-foot-tall robot monkey rolled up on its tiny rubber wheels and gave him a happy look using neon lights embedded on its face. “KeyKey tracked the Closterim’s movements and uploaded them to Brickwall.” This was the name of Pyrotek’s computer server, named so no one would be able to identify his computer system unless he wanted them to. “There are still eleven Closterim in town, eight on patrol, and three breaking through houses. Cutter, I think they know some Chameleons are still alive and around. The three Closterim got rid of their Sun Swords and are carrying FAMAS G-5’s instead. That’s a newer assault rifle model which works better in dark places.”

“What are you saying?” Cutter gripped his K-24 more tightly and moved closer to a wall parallel to the front door where he could get the first jump on anything which entered it.

“Cutter, you had better find Spezzna, and fast.” The urgency in Pyrotek’s voice was unmistakable. “Based on data KeyKey sent me you have…about six minutes, I’d say, to find Spezzna and get out of there. I’m sending a Magpul Bushido Series X motorcycle into the backyard of the house you’re in now. Hurry! The Closterim are about to enter the house right behind you.”

“Got it,” Cutter said. He picked KeyKey up and the cyber monkey giggled happily as though it was a real animal and not a robot. “KeyKey, track the Closterim and send their movements to my GPS.” KeyKey’s voice recognition receptor translated Cutter’s words into something it could understand. It darted into the living room and through a hole in the wall leading to the outside world, using its tripod-like leg sections to lift itself into the exit.

Cutter pulled out a Wave Reader, another one of Pyrotek’s inventions, designed to convert transmitted signals into written intel, as though a radio signal could arrive and form a website page. He would use this to translate KeyKey’s radio waves into a map he would use to track the Closterim’s movements.

He took a quick look around the house and checked the second floor to see if Spezzna was here, which he was not. He had now four and a half minutes until Pyrotek estimated the Closterim would reach him. Cutter went back to the first floor and faced the southernmost wall-perpendicular to the front door-on the opposite side of the house. He used the ASL to open a hole in the wall. He didn’t bother to seal it; within the next ten minutes he would either be fleeing by motorcycle to the Red Valley, or he would be dead.

Cutter ran fifteen feet to the next house and began cutting through this wall. As he worked he heard heavy footsteps- the Closterim patrol was approaching his location.

Cutter kept his calm and kept chipping away. His chest was pounding harder than usual- his body had been healed but the surgeons had never been able to completely put him together again…

The footsteps became louder and the sound of a FAMAS G-5 firing sounded far too close for comfort. Cutter took a look to his left, and then channeled his impulse to panic into an even more zealous focus on the wall he was busy opening. Without hesitating or worrying about the Closterim he finished opening the hole- just as the Closterim’s footsteps indicated they were now within view. Without looking, he leaped through the hole and tumbled along the floor of what appeared to be a dining room as a siren-the Closterim’s signal to alert allies of a living, hostile body-wailed from outside.

“SHIT! PYROTEK!” Cutter yelled into his built-in phone. The wails grew louder and from outside more earth-pounding footsteps were heard. He heard some heavy panting from outside the wall where the hole was- the Closterim who had spotted him would soon attempt to face him one-on-one and keep him occupied until they could overwhelm him by numbers alone.

In front of him the dining room had an open wall which appeared to cave in a little like a hallway- that was probably the basement. He moved towards it and looked to his right. There appeared to be a staircase on the other side of this wall- the steps to the second floor. He coughed hard; the pain in his back was getting worse.

If Spezzna was in this house and fully understood Chameleon evasion tactics, he was likely on the second floor- near a window where he could jump out if he was otherwise trapped. Cutter darted to the right and heard the Closterim behind him slash through the wall. In a few seconds they would completely cut through and begin to track any skin that shed to pinpoint his location. He moved to the right and turned out to be correct; there was a narrow wooden staircase, with fifteen steps, to the second floor. He bound up, three steps at a time, until he reached the top. Below, the Closterim’s footsteps were heard from the dining room.

There were four rooms on this floor and their wooden doors were all closed. Cutter held the Wave Reader and moved its rotating button until he was able to locate KeyKey’s radio waves. Within four seconds he detected a faint signal in the third door down.

He charged the third door and simply plowed through it. Wood splintered and the brass doorknob rolled onto his foot and away. He fell onto a piece of jagged wood still attached to the door frame when he hit it and felt it jut his rib cage. He fell awkwardly onto the jagged wood piece and felt it jut into his ribcage. He groaned in pain and fell to the ground.

“Cu…er!” Spezzna’s energetic voice rang in and out of his ears. Cutter’s eyes became blurry but he saw a mop of brown hair come towards him. “You c…n m…ke it!”

Cutter ripped the wood piece out of his ribs but he knew immediately there were splinters. He was going to need medical attention before travelling to the Red Valley. But for now he just had to find the motorcycle and escape-

Spezzna got up and Cutter saw he was limping; Spezzna still managed to toss one of his EIG’s towards the staircase. They heard an explosion and what sounded like Closterim mechanical suits getting fried. Spezzna was only about average height, and his legs were not strong enough to carry his sturdy, muscular upper body, but he had no trouble picking up the taller, but feeble, Cutter and moving him to the window.

Hang on, Cutter!” Pyrotek exclaimed. “KeyKey’s coming!

Get ready!” Spezzna shouted. He dropped Cutter to the ground and shattered the glass with a sidekick. Cutter felt tiny shards hit his Mirror Suit and bounce harmlessly off. Spezzna picked him up again and they moved slowly out the window.

A shrill mechanical pitch whirred and Cutter knew KeyKey had caught up to them. The cyber monkey emitted a pitch which knocked the Closterim down and made them clutch their ears. The sound was harmless to human ears but, as the Closterim were mostly machine now, their sound receptors could not handle high pitches nearly as well as humans.

Spezzna moved them to the roof. Cutter struggled to speak, but he managed to find his voice: “Spezzna! There’s a motorcycle one house down to the right!”

Spezzna grunted but he managed to carry Cutter in his arms until they reached the end of the roof.

“Get ready Cutter, I’m dropping you,” Spezzna warned.

“Drop? Wait, Spezzna-“ Cutter tried to grab Spezzna’s flak jacket but he missed and was dropped to stories onto the grass below.

He rolled around and immediately sensed no broken bones- whatever underground irrigation system was keeping the grass moist was doing its job. Spezzna tumbled himself and they both rolled around until they were able to stand up. Above them KeyKey’s high-pitched wails shattered glass and the Closterim screamed even louder; their cries sounded robotic, but Cutter knew, from his experience facing them, their pain was human.

Cutter felt like his brain had moved a bit around his skull. He held his head with one hand as he and Spezzna raced towards the house.

“Incoming!” Pyrotek’s voice said through the built-in phone.

Cutter looked up and saw a crate crash into the ground and break open break open, revealing a large, black motorcycle that had its engine running. Above them a silver drone the size of a four-door sedan flew off, leaving behind a trail of wake turbulence.

Spezzna, who was less injured, reached the motorcycle first. The moment Cutter successfully stumbled to the motorcycle and sat behind Spezzna he yelled “hold on!” and they took off, racing off westbound into a setting sun. Somehow-barely-they would survive to see it rise again.

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