A Tale of The Monsterpocalypse
Fiction by A.G.M.
THE MALTESE CYBERFALCON
Ballantyne met with the Malcontents at a closed-down shop a well past midnight. Keith had missed out on his nightly report to Craghill but figured since they would be gone by early morning, it would not matter.
He checked the four people who wanted out. All were Japanese nationals or of oriental ascendancy, and their spokesperson was an attractive half-oriental woman in dark glasses by the name Kanuka Spengler, Doctor Kanuka Spengler. Ballantyne opened up by clarifying the state of things. “First of all Doctor, I don’t represent any competing, corporate concern or national interest. We are activists involved in a reclamation project in a nearby territory, which we feel could conflict with this company’s interests, which have proven hostile to us in the past. With that out of the way, what o you want from us?”
“We want out,” said Doctor Spengler unequivocally, lighting a cigarette for herself and offering one each to Keith and Ballantyne. “Me and a minority of professionals laboring for this company feel we have been exploited long enough and would like any form of release from our contracts, even if it means an Outlaw’s life.”
Ballantyne accepted a cigarette and the light, while Keith declined. “Forgive me for asking, but don’t you think that’s a little extreme? You’re trained professionals. Experts in your fields commanding six-figure salaries, with medical insurance and pension plans. Why would you risk losing all that?”
“Because a six figure salary is no good when you have a seven-figure debt, and your Insurance and Pension are debited to that debt. We could never payoff what the company says we owe. Not in our lifetimes nor those of our children! And if you don’t measure up to the Company’s standards… well… some people have vanished overnight along with their families.”
Ballantyne puffed worriedly at her cigarette, glancing briefly at Keith. “Well, my organization can’t offer you much compared to a Mega-Corporation. In fact about the one thing we can give you if safe passage through the Prairie Lands to our city. But running out on your Company would mean forfeiting your contracts. You could be on the run for a long time, if not forever. At least until you found a court sympathetic to your cause and ruled in your favor. We are not headhunters here, but activists.”
“As long as we get out of the city in one piece to a safe place, we are prepared to offer our expertise and share what we know with your people for as long as we have sanctuary.”
Now Keith took the lead in this conversation. “I don’t think Ms. Ballantyne stressed enough what you could be loosing by throwing in with Us…”
But Dr. only shook her head sadly, “How long have you two been in this Town, Keith?”
“One week too many.”
“Then you must surely have an idea of how things work here. Is your place any worse?”
“How many people are we talking about?” asked Ballantyne abruptly.
“Besides us? Eight more people, plus their families. Total is about twenty five or twenty seven at most.”
“That’s too many to move today. We were planning on sneaking out earlier in the evening.”
“And how did you plan on crossing the perimeter sensors?”
“Huh? What sensors?” asked Keith fumbling with his laptop.
Dr. Spengler chuckled at this. “You don’t know about the perimeter! I think you might need us a little early.”
“Maybe you could tell us then.” Offered Ballantyne.
“Its an experiment we designed to protect large population centers from incursions by T-morph related entities. Everyone emits a signal recognized by all the Center’s defense mechanisms. Whatever does not register this signal activates an alarm and suppression systems.”
“What emits the signal?” asked Keith already dreading the answer.
“Small transmitter inside the body, powered by corporal heat. Everyone here gets one.”
“We got no implants when we came here!” said Ballantyne.
“Nanites ingested in the food assemble the transmitter inside our bodies. About the size of a pinhead, it can only be picked by UberCorp systems.”
“But if the transmitters are only to identify intruders, what does it matter if we leave Town?” asked Keith.
“The Town defenses activate against moving objects without a signal within town limits, but also against objects emitting a signal outside town limits. The Perimeter is armed with mines, and antipersonnel lasers.”
“I better tell Craghill.” Said Keith, busying himself with the laptop’s keys.
“How wide is this Perimeter’s killzone?” asked Ballantyne.
“It starts at about a hundred meters from Town limits, and is about another hundred wide.”
“Wait, how do They prevent the defenses from activating when helicopters and planes approach?” asked Keith sensing a flaw in the system as his fingers flowed over the keys.
“All outgoing air and land traffic is given an electronic key which temporarily nullifies, -not shuts down- the defense response.”
“How long’s the window?”
“A minute or five. Long enough for transports to leave safely. By land’s a little longer given the relative slowness of ground transport.”
“Do you have access to that key?”
“One of the vanished scientists managed to make one before he was gone.”
“Can we change the signal for Incoming transports?”
Dr. Spengler was a little confused. “Y-yes, but after five minutes all defenses activate, and you’d still be in the city, so its pointless-“
Keith waved her off. “Can you give me the program?”
Hours later, Keith and Ballantyne were hurrying to the rendezvous point at the edge of Town where their new friends would meet them for the getaway.
“I can’t believe those Bastards! Putting machines inside our bodies without our consent or knowledge!” cried an outraged Ballantyne.
“This place is worse than I thought. The sooner we’re out of here, the better,” said Keith with sincerity.
“What was all that tapping back there about?”
“If Cletus is going to raid the Town, he is going to need that electronic key. I just hope Gordon figures out how to rig it, or they will be blown up if they reach that Perimeter!”
“And you have been sending reports to Gordon all this time… without telling me.”
“The guy’s hung up on making sure you’re OK. That’s really why he insisted I come along. What can I say?”
“I say I will have a long talk with Gordon when we get back!”
“That I don’t need a baby sitter among other things. Ellie figured I could do the job, since I survived Afghanistan and Kosovo while still barely out of my teens!”
“Well, you weren’t up against Mega-Corporations using space-age, alien retro-engineered tech! And back then the Monsterpocalypse wasn’t in full swing.”
“Oh?! And how does the Mighty Craghill figure he can while I can’t?”
“I have no Effing idea! But if something I’ve learned about the guy is that he always figures a way out.”
“You mean besides blowing stuff up?”
“That’s just the end result of a process – “ Keith was cut off in mid-sentence by a plastic body bag being slipped and zipped over his whole body and being hoisted high up in the air.
Ballantyne managed duck the first silvery giant who tried to slip the plastic body bag over her, but as she ran a second tripped her up and a third stuffed her into another bag. She felt a yank and then her feet lost contact with the ground. She struggled to tear at the bag enclosing her, but it seemed to shrink tighter and tighter the more she struggled. Trying to cut her way loose with a pocket knife was no good either, as the blade only stretched the polymer without breaking it. By the time she stopped struggling, the plastic had wound up so tight she began to asphyxiate. After a few seconds of claustrophobic panic, she passed out, unable to even scream in outrage.
Next week: part 4 “DOCTOR _01”