Kinesiology and the Cat - By Victim (SSBHM, ~FFA, Action, Adventure, Magic)

Discussion in 'Fantasy/Science Fiction Archive' started by Victim, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. Sep 12, 2008 #1

    Victim

    Victim

    Victim

    Oasis is JUST A BAND.

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    SSBHM/~FFA, Action, Adventure, Magic - competing super-thieves find out they have more in common tham loot

    Author's Noter: Episode 2 of my series. Again, there isn't much in the way of WG material, just 'normal' stories with BHM/FFA characters.

    Kinesiology and the Cat
    An action adventure of the Phoenix Heart saga
    by the Victim
    thevictimattws@yahoo.com
    (For the previous story in this series, click here)

    Prologue

    "This is some kind of joke, right? Their point man is some 400 pound nutcase that thinks he's Batman or James Bond or something." Keith complained, adjusting the Bluetooth headset on his ear. He continued to strip down one of the pair of Colt 1911's he carried.

    "They've made some impressive grabs before and took down a lot of opposition in the process. They are just a bit – unorthodox," General Lane responded.

    "I'm a professional. I take my job seriously, you know that."

    "Yes, I do. As a professional you expect to get paid well for doing that job. I'm paying you, and so are they. The money shouldn't be an issue."

    "I suppose not, but I have a reputation to uphold. Running with this lot isn't going to help."

    "If we find the girl and what she is looking for, you won't have to worry about your rep. We'll even let you be the one that does in the Phoenix Heart."

    "Do you really think the blade can kill that thing?"

    "It has struck down gods before, nothing can oppose us with it in our hands."

    Chapter 1 - Smash and Grab

    Arthur Tremaine reached up and pressed a button on the side of his tactical helmet. His recent crew cut had reduced the perspiration considerably, saving power to run the cooling jacket that kept his almost 400lb body cool under high exertion in his armor. A laser traced a display on the inside of his helmet visor.

    "I'm in, show me the package," he said into the mic.

    "Pinging it now." Keith replied, looking down over his console in the back of the SUV. He pushed the button that triggered a radio pulse that matched the resonant frequency of a RFID tag their inside contact had planted on the package. A computer display showed the location of the target relative to the transmitter.

    "It's on the move," he added.

    Arthur was startled by an alarm bell that began to sound within the building.

    "Guys, that wasn't me..."

    "We hacked into the work schedule yesterday, nobody was supposed to be working on it now!" Keith explained. "It's heading for the roof."

    "I think we might have some competition tonight. I'm going to have to chase it down. Give me some options Rick." Arthur asked, reaching behind his back to unlimber the spring steel and aircraft cable mechanisms of his suit which allowed him to store and redirect power from different parts of his body. Two gigantic curved steel blades sprang into position from behind his legs, making it appear as though Arthur was standing on two large letter "C"s. He launched his six foot four body down the hall, chasing the blip that appeared on his helmet visor display.

    "You and the package are heading for the northeast corner. I'll go around the building. Keith can search for their support and figure out their exit strategy. Your’s is a go for either a roof drop or any door on the north side." Rick advised. He had already started the engine and began to race around the corner. He avoided two cars and a scooter. He was in position on the north side of the building in mere seconds.

    "Arthur was right, you are a good driver." Keith commented, trying to hold onto the console in back. He turned his attention to the monitors.

    "Security feed shows they are on their way down to you. I count six. You're screwed." Keith added.

    I HAVE TO KEEP THIS CLOWN ALIVE UNTIL THE GIRL SHOWS UP. He thought.

    "Six? This is going to be a butt kicking, I gotta watch this!" Rick said, turning on his dash monitor.

    "Blast, forgot the popcorn." He joked.

    "He's going to get his fat ass wiped all over the place by those guys. We need to get him out of there! Good grief, this is the most crackpot job I've ever been on. Professionals don't operate like this." Keith exasperated.

    Rick tried to flip his boom mic on, but realized the switch was stuck again. One more thing for Phil to fix.

    "You got incoming, six of them." Rick advised.

    "I heard. That's not all I heard. I think our new recruit needs his physics lesson for today." Arthur joked. He neared the end of the hall, still running at a breakneck pace. He reached back his right thumb to operate a lever on the side of the lexan cuff that prevented his wrist from overextending. A steel hook snapped into place. He buried the hook in the corner of the wall as he ran past, whipping him around the corner with little loss of momentum. He hit the lever again and the hook went slack and released.

    "Check your security camera monitor." Rick gestured toward Keith.

    "Damn, he's fast, I'll give him that much." Keith admitted.

    "It's the suit. All that momentum gets redirected wherever he wants it. He could come to almost a dead stop right now and throw one of those guys twenty feet. A smaller person couldn't wear that much stuff, it would slow him down more than anything." Rick explained as they both watched Arthur bound down the hall.

    "He's closing on the package. Whoever has it isn't moving too slowly either. Here comes the security too. They don't look too worried." Keith observed.

    "That's the other thing. Nobody takes him seriously until it is too late. Watch this." Rick pointed to the monitor that displayed Arthur's helmet camera view.

    "Just hold it right there big guy," one of the guards said, drawing his baton. He was soon joined by a second guard. Both men lunged at Arthur's ankles with their batons, hoping for a quick takedown.

    Arthur didn't want to lose much speed in dealing with these guys. He came down hard on his blades, bending them to their limit. He thrust upward with his arms and legs to add to the stored energy in the spring steel blades. He somersaulted over the heads of the two men, barely clearing the ceiling. As Arthur sailed over their heads, he reached down and grabbed a uniform collar in each hand. The men were thrown backwards as Arthur landed.

    Facing the backs of the two men, Arthur rolled onto his back and used the momentum to bring them down onto the ends of his blades. As he rolled onto his shoulders, he planted his arms and shoved outward with his legs. The men were propelled off the spring steel blades and through the acoustical tiles of the ceiling.

    Arthur righted himself and turned toward the entrance to the stairwell at the end of the hall. Behind him, one of the men had fallen back down through another section of ceiling. The other one came back down through the hole, tangled in a length of wire suspending a section of duct that had come down with him. Neither man could do more than moan.

    Keith sat slack jawed at Arthur's display of sheer power. "Man, that was brutal."

    "Usually we're in and out before anyone can catch him. He hasn't got a chance to play in a while." Rick commented.

    "Play? What's he like when he's serious?"

    "Serious? I've never really seen him get serious. We got weapons and all, but he rarely uses them."

    Some men were quite serious. They also carried weapons and were just looking for an excuse to use them. Three such men burst out of the very doorway Arthur was heading for. Two lay prone and opened fire with 9mm semiautomatics. The other one stood behind them and fired as well.

    Multiple rounds ripped into Arthur's chest armor. The cracking of ceramic plates could be heard underneath the upper layers of kevlar. As Arthur's body moved, plates above the failed areas shifted down into place to reinforce the weakened armor. Two rounds struck his helmet. The laser display went blank. One round lodged itself in the lexan joint on his left elbow, but it did not seize up the joint.

    Arthur felt the dull thuds in his chest as the rounds hit. He also felt the two jarring blows to the head as his laser display failed. If he was going to catch up with the package, he had to deal with this threat quickly as well. He held both arms outward and fired a grapple from each. The tips lodged themselves right above the corners of the doorframe. Arthur pulled against the grapple cables and leaped forward. He flew over the two prone men and knocked the third one through the doorway and onto the stairway landing.

    Arthur released his grapple cables and swung a roundhouse to the back of the door, slamming it shut and jamming the cables in between the door and the frame. This would buy him a few seconds from the two guards in the hall.

    The guard on the stairway landing quickly recovered and righted himself. He holstered his weapon and drew a short combat knife with a guarded grip. He flipped the knife over and held it upside down with the back of the blade up against his forearm. He squared off against Arthur and assumed a fighting stance.

    Keith and Rick were watching through Arthur's helmet camera and their tap of the stairwell security monitor.

    "That guy is a pro, this isn't going to be pretty." Keith commented.

    DRAT, WE'RE NEVER GOING TO FIND THE GIRL NOW. Keith thought.

    "I don’t want to lose too much time here, I'm hitting the juice!" Arthur snapped. He reached back and pulled a cord on the front of his armor. Pumps whirred to life, circulating fluids into the cooling mesh in contact with Arthur's skin. He jumped into the air a few inches and the running blades retracted to their holding positions. He would not need them for the next two minutes.

    Adrenaline heightened his reflexes. Pure adenosine triphosphate flooded his muscle tissue, supplying energy directly to the muscle fibers. Oxygen and carbon dioxide cycling were accelerated in his blood. Byproducts of anaerobic metabolism were siphoned from his muscles, before lactic acid buildup could begin to make them cramp. For two minutes Arthur Tremaine's body operated on a level never meant by nature.

    The guard on the stairwell landing took an inquisitive swipe at Arthur with the knife. Arthur leaned back slightly to avoid the attack. The guard snapped a quick forward kick, trying to get Arthur to lose his balance and fall backwards against the railing on the stairwell.

    Arthur felt the kick land on his belly, but before his attacker could apply enough force to shove him backwards, Arthur's arms flew down at blinding speed and grabbed the guard's leg. Arthur threw his arms up into the air, upheaving the guard into the air and up against the door. Arthur was quite sure the man's hip joint had overextended severely.

    He really wanted to stay and have a proper fight, but wasting time wasn't his style, especially while on the juice.

    "Juice? What was that about?" Keith asked.

    "It's his ace in the hole. I don't know the particulars, but it supplies oxygen, adrenaline and other things directly to his body, then siphons off the carbon dioxide and other waste." Rick explained the best he could.

    "The drawback is that he can only keep it up for two minutes, and he completely crashes when he comes down from it. He has two minutes to get to the roof and out."

    Keith knew that in combat two minutes was an eternity. Two minutes operating at his prime with no fatigue. The blade wasn't the only thing they could wind up getting out of this.

    Arthur turned to the stairs and raced upwards. It was only four floors to the roof. He still had time to catch up with the package. His limitless supply of stamina allowed him to clear all four flights in less than half a minute. He flung open the door to the roof and stepped out into the night.

    "My HUD is out, where's the package?" Arthur asked into his helmet mic.

    "Turn north and straight on from there." Keith advised.

    Rick glanced at the monitor in front of him. "Not that way, north is to your left." Rick added. He was cleaning the contacts of the microphone switch with a tiny blade that was hidden in his fingernail. He had lost a fingertip in a car door when he was a kid. Phil had installed the blade in the prosthetic fingertip.

    "He's seems a bit lost." Keith noted.

    "Yeah, a sense of direction isn't exactly his strong point." Rick replied, retracting the fingertip blade. Keith hadn't noticed him using it.

    "It's her. The cat burglar, she has the package." Arthur declared. There was no mistaking the tall athletic figure before him. She looked around the rooftop as though surveying the situation. She seemed comfortable in her assessment.

    "Rooftop. Catsuit. How cliche' can you get?" Arthur commented. He had almost a full minute, he could afford to take a bit of time to play.

    "At least I don't have a whip." Catherine replied.

    Arthur knew she hadn't yet faced him when augmented by the juice. He would have an element of surprise if he acted now. He rolled behind an elevated skylight and climbed up on the frame. The girl was just on the other side of the skylight. The package was in a bag slung over her back. Arthur leapt from the back edge of the skylight and over the top. Before he could make any sound by landing, he grabbed the bag and pulled out the package as they both fell to the ground. She recovered almost instantly. He recognized the RFID tag that was attached to the cylinder by their inside contact. He put the cylinder into his own pack and locked down the flaps.

    "Nanotech. Who are you swiping this for? Isn't this a bit big for your tastes?" He commented.

    "I like big things, you should know that by now." Catherine said, pacing around Arthur.

    She ran her fingertips over the back of his suit as she completed a circle around him. "Now give the nice kitty back her toy and let's be friends."

    "It's going to be a different this time, I've been boning up on your moves." Arthur warned, assuming his fighting stance.

    "Boning up?" Catherine chirped,

    "Now THAT sounds like fun!" she added, the outline of a smile appearing on her mask. "Let's see how you dance."

    They whirled and danced on the rooftop, dodging ducts, antennas, and skylights. Arthur was right. This fight was different. They punched and kicked, grabbed and countered, feinted and double feinted. Neither could gain any definite advantage. Arthur was too fast to be hit by any blow powerful enough to do any damage. Catherine always seemed to know where not to be. Arthur needed another surprise, before his time was up.

    He appeared to weaken his defensive stance and present an opening for a grab on his left forearm. Catherine latched onto the limb and tried to spin around with enough force to leverage Arthur's weight. This is when Arthur fired the last grapple on his right arm into the short antenna tower directly behind her. He pulled back on the grapple cable and twisted his body with hers, wrapping both of them in the cable. He rolled over, pressing his body down on top of her. His right thumb trained on the grapple release, Arthur held their only means of escape.

    "A little bold for a second date, don't you think?" Catherine said, squirming about under Arthur. He rolled over onto his back.

    "Maybe we should get to know each other first." Arthur replied, loosening his left arm from inside the armor that was pinned to his body by the cable. He worked his hand up and toward Catherine's face, attempting to pull up her mask. Meanwhile, he stuck the RFID tag from the cylinder on the inside flap of her pack with his other hand.

    "Better not. This kitty's got claws." Catherine warned.

    A high pitched whine and the shearing of steel could be heard as Catherine's arms ripped free of the cable. She stood over Arthur. Frayed strands of woven steel cable fell to the ground.

    "You can keep the toy this time, kitty's got nicer ones." Catherine mocked, displaying tiny titanium blades on chains that raced along the outlines of her gloves. She ran for the edge of the building and disappeared over the side.

    Arthur noticed the remaining guard burst from the door at the far end and bark into a radio. Arthur's time was almost up. He slid his arm back down into his armor and attached the last grapple cable on his left arm to the antenna tower. He lowered himself over the edge and made his way to the SUV. They sped off into the night.
     
  2. Sep 12, 2008 #2

    Victim

    Victim

    Victim

    Oasis is JUST A BAND.

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    Chapter 2 - Recovery

    Arthur dragged himself to the outer door to the Physical Therapy office of the athletic department. He slid his key card in the lock and lumbered into the room. He made his way to a private utility cabinet and unlocked it. He moved a small bench in front of the cabinet and sat down. He reached into the cabinet for a "C" shaped tool on the end of a small handle.

    Arthur unlocked the lexan rings on his ankles and knees that prevented the joints from overextending. The rings also linked with the spring steel bars and cabling. The large chunks of plastic fell to the floor. He noticed a 9mm round buried in one of the pieces. He reached up with the tool and removed his wrist, elbow, and shoulder pieces. One of the shoulder pieces had cracked almost to the point of breaking.

    He removed the framework of spring bars and cables from the outside of his armor. Two of the cables were frayed, and one of the bars had managed to bend in such a way it was not able to recover its shape completely.

    The armor was a bit easier to remove. Velcro straps held it in place over his cooling layer. As he removed the armor, several hexagonal shaped pieces of ceramic spilled onto the floor. A grouping of 9mm rounds had weakened the kevlar enough to breach the outer layer. One of Arthur's many sore spots lie beneath the area that section of armor protected. Arthur picked up the ceramic armor pieces, save one, which he did not notice had slid underneath the cabinet.

    All that remained was the cooling layer and intramuscular O2 delivery system. This was quite literally stuck to his skin. He peeled off the light mesh and disconnected it from the pumps.

    Arthur gathered all the broken pieces of equipment and put them in a hockey bag. He tossed the bag into the bottom of the cabinet. Phil would know what to do with them. Phil would probably just complain a lot about how much work he had to do to repair them.

    The remainder of the armor went back into the shelves in the cabinet. Arthur set aside the cooling mesh to be washed.

    It was getting more difficult for Arthur to move, soreness was setting in. He waddled over to the switch on the wall and turned on the hydrotherapy bath. Fortunately the water level was still low enough he wouldn't have to mop water off the floor when he was done. He stood at the edge of the stainless steel tub and waited for the water to come to temperature. He settled in for a long soak.

    Arthur awoke to the timer on the bath. Ninety minutes had passed and he had fallen asleep against the headrest. He struggled to emerge from the tub and find some towels. He cleaned up the Physical Therapy office the best he could and ambled out to the staff parking lot.

    Arthur really wanted to hit the rack when he got home, but he knew he had to pay attention to his conditioning regimen first. His weigh in wasn't promising. He was down another three pounds and was now several pounds below his optimum mass. He would have to eat before he could get some sleep or it was going to cost him even more time later. After heavy training or a mission was the best time to load up on mass building nutrients.

    He focused his tired eyes on the charts taped to his kitchen cabinets, trying to recall what he should be mixing. He flung a cabinet open and produced several canisters. He dumped large amounts of various powders from these into his commercial sized blender and topped it off with whole milk. He pushed a pre-programmed button on the blender and left it to its task.

    Returning to the pantry, he opened a large plastic container of his custom formulated bodybuilding bars. He was almost out and would have to make more soon. These would provide the necessary protein and other macronutrients to restore and add muscle mass. He could only add so much mass from muscle, adding body fat would be necessary to maintain his optimum weight. He disliked eating anything without a specific purpose, but it would necessary in this case.

    Arthur poured his drink from the blender into a large tumbler and took both the drink and a platter of the bodybuilding bars into his bedroom and settled down for the night.

    Arthur was awakened by the ringing of the phone. He lifted his head and caught a glimpse of the time on the clock radio. He could see it was 10:30, Phil knew better than to call before noon after a mission or training.

    He slapped the phone out of its charging station onto the bed and pushed the answer button. He didn't even have to look at the caller ID to know who it was, or even what they wanted. "Hey Phil, what's worth waking me up this early for?"

    "Dude, it's going to take me a week to fix all this stuff. You keep breaking more and more equipment. What's up with that anyway? You getting heavier?" Phil asked

    "No, I'm a few pounds under optimum as it is."

    "Optimum for what? You can already take out half a dozen people. I don't think it's the weight anyway. It was sheer power that frayed the cables. We need to get together and come up with a new design."

    "I'll take some measurements next time I train plyometrics. I can see if my overall power is up, or maybe my power to weight ratio is increasing as well. If that is the case we WILL need a new design."

    "Plyo-what?"

    "Exercises designed to release explosive forces from the body."

    "I think a couple chili dogs can do the same thing."

    "Ha! You know I don't eat crap like that anyway. No burgers, no pizza, and definitely no chili dogs."

    "Yeah, hard to believe. Weren't you saying that package you grabbed might be able to help."

    "It's some kind of nanotech assembler. They can be programmed to assemble virtually anything. The power requirements might be a problem though. I'll collect enough data and then have my students chew on the problem. I won't tell them where the data came from of course."

    "So you're saying if we can find a way to power the nanotech you can use it as your armor."

    "Kind of. I'm not sure. It was worth grabbing anyway. You might have heard from Rick that we weren't the only ones after it. That cat burglar lady grabbed it first, I had to chase her down. We had another scuffle."

    "Yeah he told me. I heard the tactical too. I think she might have a thing for you. When she's not trying to swipe what you're after at least."

    "I don't think so, she just wanted the package and would have said or done anything to get it."

    "Dude, you might be able to break down walls and shrug off bullets, but you can't see what is right in front of you. Speaking of, Rick told me about the new guy. Rick said he doesn't trust him as far as he could throw him."

    "He seemed to do his job okay. Keith is a mercenary. Give him a wad of cash and a fight and he's good. Besides, if he needs to be thrown I think I can manage some distance." Arthur joked.

    "Well you don't trust anyone anyway. It's a miracle we managed to hook up in the first place. Although it was kinda hard to hide the fact that you're building a human tank from someone who is custom machining your parts. Speaking of, I got the training mockup of the heavy weapon package done. The weight distribution is dead on, and it even has some heavy duty solenoids for recoil simulation. It's waiting for you in my shop for your next training cycle. I'll have the real thing ready in a couple weeks. JUST DON'T BREAK IT."

    "I'll try not to. Right now I think I need some more rest.”
     
  3. Sep 12, 2008 #3

    Victim

    Victim

    Victim

    Oasis is JUST A BAND.

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    Chapter 3 - Red Light, Green Light.

    POV Catwoman

    My life runs according to a plan. I always know what to do, where to go, and what I need to get. That is what I do. I get things for people. The trouble is, most of these things already belong to other people. I guess that means I'm a thief, but it is all part of the plan. I don't keep the stuff, I just leave it for whoever needs it. I know where to leave it too, which is also part of the plan. I'm not sure where this plan ultimately leads, but someone does. You see, it isn't my plan.

    God, Fate, Destiny, call it what you will. I think it is Fate. Every waking day since I was a little girl I've seen the world differently. I literally see how choices ahead of me will affect me, or at least the plan. Green is good, and red is bad. It is that simple. When I need to get to class in a hurry I can look out the window and see my car, my bike chained to the rail, and the bus stop. There are days when the car is green and the other two are red. It is like looking at things through bits of colored glass.

    There are times when I took the car or the bike or the bus when they weren't the green choice, just to have a bit of control in my own life. I wasn't happy with the results. The day I took the bike when it was red wasn't good. I even got a bad feeling about it. I sometimes get a feeling about what is going to happen, especially if I'm doing something important. I swerved the bike to miss a panhandler sitting on the side of the walk and hit my head on a low hanging store sign. I'm six foot three, which doesn't help when you are trying not to hit your head on things while standing on the pedals. I've given up trying to take control anymore. Fate seems to know what is best for me anyway, at least when it comes to where to go or what I need to get.

    People are another story. I never get a reading one way or the other about people. I can't tell if people are lying, or who might be a 'bad' person. I guess Fate has left that choice up to me.

    Sometimes what Fate does choose to control can seem a bit strange. Why I need to take Physics along with my English classes I have no idea. Every form of class selection including the website had introductory physics in green.

    The physics professor seems a tad older than me, I think he might be thirty. He is also just a hair taller too, about six-four. He looks to weigh around 400. He's nice to look at, I'll tell you that much. If it wasn't for him I couldn't stand physics. Too bad he doesn't talk much or seem that outgoing outside of class. I have a thing for the big guys, but many of them just stay away from the world. I guess I can't blame them, much of the world doesn't seem to like them. I gave up trying to let them know how I feel about them ages ago. I just can’t seem to get up the courage to face them. I get close to them and can’t think of what to say.

    It was about the time when I stopped trying that Fate threw me a bone. You see, I'm not the only one around that gets things that belong to other people to give to someone else. If you have enough money and want something really bad, there are professionals that can get it for you. As the hand of Fate, I am often used to make sure that these burglars-for-hire don't get what they are after. You'd be surprised how often this happens. Even though I'm guided by Fate, there are still some surprises for me as well.

    He wasn't your typical mercenary rent-a-thief. They don't tend to resemble walking tanks. They can't run twenty five miles per hour. They can't throw you across a room with one hand. They don’t instill a desire to rip off all their armor and gear to see what kind of man is inside.

    I ran into him after he already grabbed what I was sent for. I didn't even know what it was. I didn't really care either, I just had to get it back from him. We were in some kind of industrial park a few miles north of Seattle. I knew something was odd when I was just shown the door in green. Usually there is an alarm code I'm shown how to punch in or I have to make a security card or something. Someone was already there. I had just came in the only exit and they would have to get past me to get out.

    He stood almost seven feet tall, but it was hard to tell how tall he actually was. He was wearing a helmet with a dark visor, and he was standing on large metal bands that curved under his considerable girth. When he saw me he paused for a moment. It must have been the suit. Black leotards and a tight fitting hood. If you added a whip, ears, and tail you'd have a cliche' catwoman. It's practical and keeps me from being recognized. I don't need a whip or any other kind of weapon. I’ve had some martial arts training, but I simply don't ever need to fight. At least that is what I thought.

    He turned to a door to his right, and went through it. Literally. It ripped right off the frame and didn't seem to slow the guy down much. I took off after him. When I got to what was left of the doorway, he was already at the end of the hall.

    When I reached the end of the hall and rounded the corner, he had been greeted by two security guards from a local rent-a-cop company. They didn't seem very concerned, and one had even stopped long enough for the obligatory tasteless joke.

    "I see Fatman, but where's Blobbi-" I could hear one say just before the gigantic man grabbed him by the shoulder. I guess it is hard to finish a sentence when you are sailing down the hall waiting for the floor to catch up with your face. The other guard just stood there in shock and allowed himself to be slammed into the wall by what looked like 500 pounds of man and machinery. This gave me a chance to close some distance and make a grab for the package.

    He bounded to a stop for a moment and I could hear a muffled voice under the helmet. He was speaking to someone on his helmet microphone. I swear he was asking where to go next. It wasn't a very big building, I was pretty sure he couldn't get lost in it, or could he? Anyway, I was able to run up behind him and grab the package out of his pack during this. It was just a file folder. After that I could simply run for the door, or so I thought.

    I stuffed the file in my own pack and turned to run. I think I made it about thirty feet before a flash of red appeared before me and I dove to a green patch that appeared off to the side on the floor. The armored man had landed squarely in the red area where I would have been. The exits around me were all red, but I could see areas of his body that were green and red. I guess this meant I had to fight.

    He moved with surprising agility for a man of any size. I barely had time to move my body to match the green outlines that appeared before me. I could hit him but it didn't seem to do much.

    When I did connect, I could feel a crunching and shifting below his armor, then his body would absorb the force of the blow. Despite the fact that I knew exactly what to do to avoid being hit myself, I had to admire his precision and power. Every move seemed deliberate. There was no wasted motion. This continued for a full minute or so, like some kind of dance. I was actually starting to enjoy it. I got the feeling he might have been as well. If only we weren't working against each other.

    I could hear his voice more clearly this time, it sounded familiar somehow. "We got the scans, I'm letting her have it. No need to hit the juice on this one."

    After that he just stood there for a few moments, then finally spoke out loud to me.

    "Keep the file. I scanned it anyway." His voice was quite softly spoken for such a large and powerful man.

    "Thanks for the workout too." He added.

    He turned the other way and ran for the exit. I followed a green trail that led out a window to avoid the police who had just began to arrive.

    That was just the first time. My second encounter was even more interesting. After that I got an idea of just who he might be.



    Interludes

    "Given the data, I don't see how it would be practical." One student suggested. "You would need an almost infinite amount of energy to produce anything useful."

    "Not only that, but it would generate so much waste heat that the nanoassemblers would break down. Unless you could remove the random thermal radiation and continuously recreate an energy gradient it could never work." Another added. "It would need nothing short of a two way matter-energy conversion cycle."

    Arthur's advanced physics students had confirmed what he had already suspected about the nanoassemblers. They were useless on anything but a microscopic scale. Anything larger would be impossible to power.

    ***

    “We got a tag on her, why don’t you just send in a team to collect her and she can tell you where to find the blade?” Keith asked.

    “It isn’t that simple. She doesn’t know where it is yet either, nobody does.” General Lane advised, leaning forward on his desk for a better grip on the phone.

    “That doesn’t make any sense. If nobody knows where it is then how do you expect HER to find it?”

    “I don’t. The man that had the blade died before he could tell us where it was. I’ve known others like that girl. If she can do what I think she can, then she will come after the blade as soon as anyone else in the world finds it. Then we move in. That can be tomorrow, or ten years from now. All we can do now is wait.”

    “So she knows some kind of magick that can find it?”

    “No, these people are different. There is something other than magick at work. It’s in their genes.”

    ***

    Introductory Physics wasn’t Arthur’s most interesting class to teach, but he had to get people started somewhere. He wasn’t even sure why some people took the class at all. The tall English major in the back row of the lecture hall was one of them. Not that Arthur didn’t appreciate the view. Catherine Naylor had long auburn hair and black eyes. Despite being quite tall, she wasn’t a waif. She had ample hips and other pleasing curves as well. She was always impeccably dressed and seemed to have a lot more class than the frat row riffraff that populated the back of the hall.

    Catherine always watched Arthur’s lectures intently. She would marvel at the speed and precision of his writing on the dry wipe boards. Every letter was perfectly formed and seemed to appear almost instantly under Arthur’s marker. He was a very large man and seemed to make every move with calculated precision. Catherine recalled she had seen such precision before, also by a very large man.

    Not everyone shared Catherine’s views.

    “An object at rest requires an amount of energy proportionate to its mass to achieve a given speed.” Arthur lectured, aiming his pointer at an equation on the board.

    “I wonder what an ass of that proportion needs to get up to speed?” A short blonde-haired frat boy joked to his friends.

    “Daniel, if you would pay attention in our Kinesiology class you could figure out the answer to that.” Arthur retorted, managing not to miss a beat delivering the lecture.

    Daniel sank back down in his chair, as if he was feebly trying to avoid looking at anyone else.

    Catherine was just as amazed as Daniel at Arthur’s display of exceptional hearing. Being a professor of kinesiology might explain his precision of movement, but there was something else about him that made her curious. He didn’t seem fazed in the least about Daniel’s comment. Such confidence was quite a rare find. This man was in a different class than the rest. Much like the man she faced on the rooftop.

    When the lecture period was over, Catherine ventured down the hall to Arthur’s desk and stood at the end of the line at the podium. She nervously awaited her turn to speak to the professor.

    “Ms. Naylor, what can I help you with?” Arthur asked.

    Once again, Catherine could not form the simple words ‘I enjoy your lectures. Would you like to meet outside of class’ or something to that effect. A lump stuck at the back of her throat and all she could manage was “I- I’m sorry, it will have to wait.”

    “Maybe I can be of help later then.” Arthur suggested. He packed up his papers and headed for the back door of the lecture hall.

    “Good day Ms. Naylor.” He said as he exited the room.

    Catherine leaned over the podium and let out a heavy sigh. “Arthur Tremaine. Why is it the only time I can get through that armor of yours is while you are wearing it?”

    ***

    “It just made a god-awful grinding noise and stopped.” Veronica informed the mechanic servicing her mobile shred truck.

    The mechanic engaged the safeguards on the shredder blades and opened the cover on the side of the truck. Assorted pieces of metal and chunks of mangled paper rained down onto his feet. The smell of slightly burnt paper and machine oil wafted forth.

    “Looks like something shredded your blades, not the other way around.” He mused, raking out more pieces of broken shredder blade with a hammer.

    “How the heck did that happen?” Veronica’s assistant Aaron asked.

    “Well, this might be your problem.” The mechanic said, pulling a dull gray knife from the wreckage.

    “I don’t see how this thing could have done that much damage though, this truck is rated to shred hard drives whole. Or was at least,” he added, passing the knife to Veronica.


    “It must have been in one of those four dusty old boxes we just threw in. I guess we’ll have to stick them with the bill for foreign material in the shred boxes.” Veronica said.

    “Aaron, go put this back in their vault. We can give them a call in the morning when they get back,” she added, handing the knife and a key card to Aaron.

    ***

    I was in my Lit class when I felt it. A surge of power unlike any I had ever felt before. I could feel that it was the last job I would ever have to do.

    After that I could do what I wanted. BE who I wanted to be. I wasn’t a thief. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life dodging the red, wondering what was going to happen if I didn’t follow my ‘orders’.

    I was only twenty eight, still young enough to start over. I would have my degree after this year. I could teach English like I always wanted to do. I was a happy person. I could finally show the world who I really was.

    As usual, Fate had other plans for me.
     
  4. Sep 12, 2008 #4

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    Chapter 4 – Fate’s Plan

    The job itself went quite smoothly. It was in an insurance company building at the south end of Lake Union. Catherine simply walked up to the security doors and alarm boxes, then punched in the appropriate codes. The green led to a vault in the basement, which took a key card. Catherine punched the sequence of numbers shown to her in green into her keycard duplicator, and it copied the required information onto a blank card.

    This is the last time I’m going to need this infernal thing, she thought.

    The vault opened to reveal a number of old, dusty bankers boxes, many of which had labels reading “destruction” on them. Her target was sitting on a shelf just to the right of the door. It was a nondescript gray knife. There was a post-it note on it saying “foreign material found in 1998 destruction boxes.”

    Catherine removed the note and went to put the knife in her pack. She could feel some sort of otherworldly power within it. She put the knife in her pack and followed the green paths out of the building.

    Arthur was at Phil’s workshop training with the heavy weapons package mockup when Keith’s call came in. The newly hired mercenary tactician had a lead on the RFID tag that Arthur had planted on the cat burglar during the fight on the rooftop.

    “That looked a bit on the rough side, do you think you’ll be okay with the real thing?” Rick asked, securing the actual heavy weapons package to the rack in the back of his box truck.

    “I’ll be a lot slower, but yeah, I can handle it. I’ll take the SUV and start tracking the girl. You take the box truck and go pick up Keith at his meet point and he can fill me in with the tactical details. Maybe this time we can figure out what her angle is.” Arthur advised. Arthur had his own reasons to meet with her again. He felt like he knew her, that there was a lot more to her than it seemed. He wanted to dance in the moonlight with her one more time.

    “I uploaded the GPS coordinates off that Echelon hit we got. I’m 100% certain it was the blade.” General Lane advised. “We’ve got satellite coverage and clear skies on the whole area.”

    “I’ll get our fat friend and his sidekick out there, we can keep her busy until your troops show up. Then I have a little surprise for him.” Keith said. “I got two dozen troops, some heavy weapons and several exit strategies. We’ll get the blade.”

    Arthur pulled the SUV into a parking space a couple blocks down the street from the target location and went into the back to complete suiting up.

    “I’m at the target location now. I made a round of the building. No sign of forced entry, but there are fresh IR traces on the alarm keypads. Whoever she is, she has good backup.” Arthur advised.

    Interesting, as far I can tell she has no backup at all. Keith thought.

    “I’ll let you know when we get a clean signal from the RFID tag.” Keith told Arthur over the radio headset. He knew exactly where the cat burglar was of course, but didn’t want to tell Arthur just yet. Keith was keeping and eye on Rick, who parked the box truck where he could make a quick departure if the need arose.

    “Okay, I have a signal now. She just exited the north side and is heading north on Aloha. Go two blocks west and three blocks south and you should be able to catch up with her.” Keith said. He had his hand in his pocket, ready to hit the detonator. It didn’t take long for Arthur to answer. Keith still couldn’t get over how fast Arthur could move. Keith pushed the button.

    “I’m there, no sign of the girl yet.” Arthur said. He was about to ask for an update when an explosion could be heard a few blocks away. Arthur felt the shock of the blast through his armor. He could hear the shattering of windows, followed almost immediately by a cacophony of assorted alarms. Dust rained down from the edges of the buildings above him.

    “I don’t think that was coincidence.” Arthur commented over his headset.

    What the heck? He should be blown to bits. “Where are you right now?” Keith asked.

    “Right where you said she’d be, I’m at Fairview and Mercer.” Keith heard Arthur say over the radio. His troops were listening in. Keith sent them the signal to advance.

    I said west you moron, you went east. Keith thought.

    Arthur ducked back into an alley and ran towards the site of the explosion. As he bounded through an intersection, he came under fire from several positions. It became all too apparent that some kind of ambush had been laid. He had taken several direct hits from what felt like Russian steel core 7.62 rounds. Large patches of plates in his armor crumbled under the impact. Arthur’s body mass distributed much of the force, otherwise he would be facing a couple of broken ribs. His chest burned like mad as it was. He ducked back behind the corner of the building.

    “This is some kind of setup. I’m getting hit hard.” Arthur barked over his mic.

    “No choice but to juice up here, I can’t afford to get nailed again,” he added, pulling the cord to start the process. He bolted back out of the alley and toward the SUV. He would need some weaponry to deal with this.

    Their element of surprise gone, soldiers on the rooftops switched their weapons to full auto and opened fire on the figure that raced through the streets below them. The man moved with uncanny speed, they were not able to hit him this time.

    Arthur made it back to the SUV and punched out the back window. There was no time to reach his keys. The alarm was already going off because of the explosion, as were many others, so it wouldn’t be noticed. He reached in and grabbed his Mossberg 500A military spec shotgun and a couple of ammo belts. He had non-lethal ammunition, as well as slugs and 00 shot. He slung the shotgun on his back and grabbed his 3-piece folding staff.

    “Where is the girl at? If she runs into this there is no way she is going to make it.” Arthur asked.

    "She just crossed the street into the park. Unless she's hopping a boat or a seaplane she'll be trapped there. With all those mercs, she'll be one of fifty different kinds of dead if we can't get to her." Rick advised. "

    Keith, we need to find some kind of solution to the target."

    "I already found the solution. My soldiers blow her and your fat assed friend away and take the blade. How is that for a plan?" Keith announced smugly, training one of his .45 Colt 1911's on Rick.

    "Lose the headset and get back here." he added, not noticing that Rick had locked on the transmit button. Arthur had already heard what had transpired.

    Rick rose from the driver's seat of the box truck with his hands up. Keith grabbed him with one arm and threw him down on the floor of the truck next to the heavy weapon package. He grabbed a thick nylon rope from the equipment rack and tied Rick to it.

    South Lake Union Park was a very busy place. At the end closest to the street were several parking lots populated mostly by construction vehicles charged with building and tearing down the temporary tents and booths for the wooden boat festival. The tents and booths were scattered throughout the park. There was a marina to the far right as you looked at the park from the street. Immediately ahead after the parking lots were some permanent overhangs filled with boat building tools and wooden boats in various states of construction. A large pile of gigantic logs was off to one side of the boat building area next to one of the larger overhangs. The logs were going to be hollowed out to make traditional longboats.

    Beyond the boat building area several large wooden ships were moored awaiting restoration projects that might never see the necessary funding to proceed. Directly to the left of the moored ships were some old outbuildings that were used for sail building and engine maintenance. The outbuildings were overshadowed by a huge warehouse-like decommissioned Naval armory.

    The armory was a huge building that resembled a large gymnasium on the inside. It was normally empty, but vendor and exhibit booths of many kinds were erected for the wooden boat festival that would be in full swing the next day. The space was eerily quiet. The security guard that should have been pacing the inlaid hardwood floor of the armory was lying in a pool of congealing blood behind the stairway to the upper floor.

    Beyond the armory were some docks used for guest moorage of yachts and the occasional restored boat for sale. The park itself was split into two parts, connected with a steel pedestrian and bicycle bridge that spanned the portion of the waterway that stretched almost back to the street.

    On the far side of the park was a small seaplane airport that was quite busy for its size. Even though it only had two small docks, seaplanes were constantly arriving and departing. It was a functioning international airport, as evidenced by the tiny customs building and a Coast Guard boat moored outside.

    Catherine was being led to the park by green paths before her. Gunfire rained from the rooftops as she made her way to the park. It was getting harder and harder to find the green. One wrong move and she would be done for. She caught a glimpse of Arthur, who was fleeing toward the park as well, and drawing a fair amount of the fire from the soldiers. Eventually she was able to move out of range of the soldiers, who began to flee from the rooftops and close in on her. She continued to follow the green, leading to the armory building. Catherine could feel the moment approaching when she would no longer be at Fate’s beck and call.

    There must have already been soldiers in the armory before she got there, for Catherine could see huge areas of red all around her, and a path in green leading towards the rear of the armory. She carefully slipped along the green paths until she reached the far corner. A patch of wall behind a stack of pallets was calling to her, glowing a bright green. A knife-shaped patch of green appeared before her on the lower edge of the wall. It moved back and forth, in and out of the wall.



    Catherine wasn’t sure what to do, but took out the knife and put it next to the wall. She then pushed it into the wall. Amazingly, it was able to cut clean through the reinforced concrete of the armory wall. She cut out a divot of concrete a bit bigger than the width of the knife and set it aside. She pushed the knife into the wall and put the divot of concrete in over it. It was quite well concealed. Whoever needed to find it would need to look very carefully. Now she just needed to move away from it so the soldiers wouldn’t find it. She looked out into the armory for a green path to escape.

    Catherine's vision was filled with a sea of red. She crouched behind the stack of pallets in the back corner of the armory and waited. Waited for some kind of sign. None came. Then she caught the overwhelming feeling that this was it. This was the end. The end of her life and everything. Whatever purpose she was to have served, she could feel that this was it. She sank down into the corner.

    THIS CAN'T BE IT. She felt like screaming. WHY BRING ME THIS FAR. YOU HAVE WHAT YOU WANT.

    She thought of the man who was at that very moment fighting for both of their lives, and perhaps something greater.

    I AM NOT THE HAND OF FATE. I HAVE MY OWN REASONS TO LIVE. Catherine's mind screamed out to whatever force had been guiding her. She got no answer from her unseen ‘helper’, but something much more powerful heeded her call for help.

    Fate was woven into the fabric of the universe. Certain things are meant to be, other not to be. Most choices are left for mortals to decide. When a mortal tries to deny one of the few things that are meant to be, the threads of fate hold strong. When a shard of the power that brought the light of love to the world is tearing at the fabric as well, then something has to give. It flared into life within Catherine’s being, freeing her power from the influence of the force that was guiding her.

    The red tint that drenched her vision faded. She looked out over the booths and displays inside the armory. Soldiers were darting from booth to booth, getting closer to her position. She could see something through the wall of the armory ahead. Gunfire could be heard from outside. Looking out toward the source of the noise she could see the dark green outline of a large, tall man through the wall. Red figures darted about in every direction, working their way ever closer toward the large green outline. The green was beginning to fade. She had one of those feelings again. She could feel an awesome power emanating from the blade behind her.

    Catherine reached behind her and removed the divot of concrete from where the blade was hidden. It glowed a very bright green. She pulled it out from its recess and held it before her. She launched herself from behind the stack of pallets and straight down the open aisle between the rows of booths ahead of her.

    A green arc appeared in Catherine's vision to her far left. She whirled to face it and moved the blade in sync with the arc of light before her. A soldier had been kneeling inside a booth behind her, firing an automatic rifle. His bullets struck the surface of the blade Catherine swept before her and simply vanished from existence. No force of impact, no sparks, no flash of light, they simply disappeared.

    His clip expended, the soldier rolled behind a steam engine sitting on blocks and he began to reload. Catherine closed in and kicked a patch of green on the top of the boiler, causing the engine to fall over onto the soldier. She then lunged out with the blade and sliced clean through a post supporting the edge of the booth frame. She left the soldier wincing in pain and feebly attempting to dig himself out from under the engine and twisted mass of steel poles and canvas.
     
  5. Sep 12, 2008 #5

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    "Just surround him and wait it out. Two minutes. That's all he's got. Just wear him down and take his fat butt out." Keith said, pressing the subdermal switch below his ear.

    "Keep shooting too. He's not bulletproof either. That armor will fail just like any other." Keith added.

    "You hear that? Your cornball - or should I say lardball - operation is over right here and now."

    "We didn't let you in on everything jackass. You're about to be wearing your sorry butt for a hat." Rick replied, peeling the protective covering from his fake fingernail to reveal the tiny knife blade. He began to work away at the thick nylon ropes. He attempted to stall for time.

    "All this for a knife? Why do you want it so bad anyway?"

    "Freedom. Freedom from the tyranny of the gods. Mankind does not need fate. We have our own will. That blade has struck down the mightiest of them so that we may dominate over all."

    "Ok, now who is the one being delusional here? You some kind of 'wizard' or something?" Rick joked.

    "Wizards have fallen to the blade too. There are no more wizards. There are no more gods. Their magick has been fading from the Earth."

    "If all the 'wizards' and 'gods' are already gone, what do you need it for anyway?" Rick asked, playing for more time.

    "Their influence has not been completely done away with. There are remnants of their power, like the Phoenix Heart. If anything can destroy it, the blade can."

    "Who are you guys anyway? Taking out the Phoenix Heart isn't exactly on the agenda of low level mercenaries, and I don't think anyone could pay you enough to try."

    "Low level? You don't realize exactly what you've gotten yourselves into here. Our organization spans the globe. We have two dozen professional soldiers on this job alone." Keith warned. "You never stood a chance from the beginning."

    Rick broke free of the ropes tying him to the equipment rack and launched himself at Keith, momentarily catching the mercenary by surprise. They both fell to the floor of the truck. Keith had already began to recover from the fall and was reaching for his boot knife.

    Rick lashed out with his finger blade, gashing the back of Keith's hand. Keith continued to fumble for the knife despite the pain. Rick reclined onto his back and delivered a couple of sharp kicks to Keith's injured hand. Keith still managed to draw the knife from his boot holster.

    Rick backpedaled until the heavy weapon package blocked his retreat. He reached back to try and find something to fight with and managed to grab an ammo belt.

    Keith switched the knife to his good hand and dived in Rick's direction. Rick swung the ammo belt full force to meet Keith's charge and hit him square in the head. Keith lurched to one side and fell over. Rick stood up and swatted him a few more times with the heavy belt of 12 gauge armor piercing slugs until he fell silent.


    Rick recovered as much of the rope as he could and tied Keith to the equipment rack. He loaded the ammo belt back into the heavy weapons package. They just might need it if they wanted to make it through this. He scrambled for his headset.

    "I've taken care of our little problem. They've got a squad of two dozen out there. I'll try and get a make on them and see where we can get you out." Rick advised.

    "I'm not going to last long here. I'm almost out of juice. I'm going to crash. I might be able to find somewhere to wait for pickup. Find the cat burglar first. That package is some kind of hot property. They'll kill her for it." Arthur ordered, his voice showing stress. His oxygen delivery was beginning to diminish.

    "That package is hotter than you can imagine. It's some kind of ancient knife. Keith said it might even be able to kill the Phoenix Heart. I'll go get her, you find some way to hang in there."

    Arthur fought his way across the street and into an area where dugout boats were being built from a pile of logs. Arthur crouched down behind the log pile and hefted his shotgun from its holster. He regretted having to eject the beanbag shells and load with live shot. He really didn't want to use lethal force, but he had run out of options at this point. He had pushed himself to his limit and all he could do now is stand and fight.

    He could hear shots from inside the armory behind him and glanced back to see the cat burglar running along the side of the building. She leaped onto the dock, avoiding several shots along the way. She held a dark gray knife, which seemed to stand out in the moonlight.

    Arthur could see her raise the knife occasionally when a shot was fired at her. They seemed to be unable to hit her, but she was quickly being surrounded. It would be over soon.

    Arthur struggled to get back on his feet, to find something, anything to keep going just a bit longer. Long enough to be with her when the end came. He wasn’t sure why, but he knew it had to be.

    Arthur didn't manage to find anything. It found him. Long before he was born. One of many pieces of many different types and sizes lodged itself in his soul. Awakened by Arthur's desperate search for strength, it could feel the love that the man it was part of could not. Desperate to keep the light of love alive for its own reasons, the shard flared up within Arthur, lending him its power.

    Arthur felt a surge within himself. The pain that wracked his muscles and joints suddenly vanished. He could feel his strength returning with each breath. The power he now felt was far greater than any he had experienced while artificially enhanced.

    Arthur Tremaine stood up and heaved his armored body into the log pile. Logs spilled forth, knocking the two large dugout boats currently under construction off their stands. These rolled over onto the supports for the overhang, causing it to come down upon several surprised soldiers that had closed in on him.

    Arthur turned around and bolted toward the armory. His spring blades sang as he ran, being stretched to their absolute limit as Arthur moved at an impossible speed.

    As Arthur reached the sailwright's building, Catherine slipped around the back corner for cover. Arthur quickly closed the distance, arriving at her side. She flung her arms around him, her mask pressing into his visor. Her warm breath momentarily fogging it.

    Words did not come forth from either Arthur nor Catherine. For once she laid her hand upon him, Arthur knew exactly what to do.

    For Catherine it was like seeing through his eyes, but being able to see the choices before her in red and green. The feeling was there too. Not a feeling like she was supposed to do something to appease Fate, but the feeling that the choices before her were what she was presented with to fulfill HER goals. That was not all she could feel. Catherine felt the might of the man beside her. Men of size always made her feel protected, but this one was different. She did not only felt protected, she felt powerful. She held the blade out before her and they both struck out into the moonlit maze of tents and partially constructed boats.

    Arthur and Catherine stood tall by each other and walked toward the docks by the armory. Soldiers began to fire at them, only to find they were either shooting at nothing, or that their bullets were hitting their target and disappearing. The pair moved like they were one, dodging effortlessly when the need arose.

    The police presence was well established at that point. Two SWAT trucks had arrived. One was unloading at the west side of the park near the seaplane port. The second truck parked at the end of the road leading into the park. It immediately came under fire from the mercenaries in the shipwright's area. Fortunately the officers inside had already geared up and managed to get out and take cover. They had to make do with the gear they had on them.

    A soldier armed with a rocket grenade stepped out from behind the groundskeeper's shed and fired his weapon at the SWAT truck parked at the end of the road. The shockwave from the explosion rippled out into the parking lots. The din of car alarms provided a back rhythm to the gunfire that had erupted throughout the park as the mercenaries hammered the police positions. The police did not have the time or the manpower to keep the public at bay. Camera phones and other recording devices poked over the top of parked cars and around the corners of buildings.

    Arthur turned toward Catherine. "The cops, they -"

    "I know. You - no, we - have to help them. They didn't ask for this." Catherine understood what he wanted to do. Getting away was no longer her plan. Dwelling on this for a moment, her visions changed. The red paths were still there, but the green ones had changed. She saw Rick's box truck pull into the parking lot on the west side by the restaurant where there was not yet any activity from the police or soldiers. She directed them toward the truck.

    Arthur was still somehow able to move at great speed. He ran across the docks, mostly avoiding soldiers that were occupied with the police. He knew that once the police were dealt with he would soon be their target once more. Him and Catherine reached the back of the restaurant where the truck was parked. Rick had already thrown up the back door and readied the heavy weapon package. Keith was still tied to the equipment rack. Arthur put the Mossberg back onto the rack and threw the heavy weapon package onto his shoulders. Rick stared in disbelief.

    "What ARE you running on? You've never been able to go on this long before."

    "I have no idea." Arthur admitted.

    "We have some company. I can cover you, get that thing ready." Catherine advised as a pair of soldiers that had followed them opened fire from the corner of the restaurant building.

    Once again, Rick stared in amazement as Catherine waved the knife she carried in the air before her. The incoming fire had no effect at all. Looking a bit closer, Rick discovered something even scarier. The woman's eyes were closed.

    "That's the blade. What is that thing, and who the heck is she?" Rick added. The sound of screaming and two heavy thuds could be heard from behind the corner of the restaurant. Catherine stepped out and began to make her way back to the truck. She adjusted her mask slightly.

    "The knife is HERS. I just know it, I can't explain any of this right now, just help me load up. The cops are getting reamed, I'm going to even things up a bit."

    Arthur's tone was deathly serious, something Rick had never heard before, even when on a mission. "Get the truck out of here, before it gets even uglier out here. We can find our own way out."

    "We?" Rick asked, preparing to lower the door on the truck. Keith was nowhere to be seen. "Arthur, we have a problem. Our little traitor bailed."

    "We can't worry about that right now." Arthur said, following Catherine back out onto the docks.

    A full blown firefight was underway by the time Arthur returned. The heavy weapon package seemed a lot easier to move under than the training mockup. He wasn't sure if there was a big difference between the two or if his newfound strength and endurance was making it much easier.

    Arthur cycled the ammo feed to concussion rounds, which would be much more effective than regular ammo in stopping the soldiers, particularly the ones taking cover. He bounded up behind the armory, Catherine following behind him. He opened fire on the mercenaries taking cover behind the armory.

    Sargent Winnifred "Winny" Carsteader had seen plenty of action before in Afghanistan, and later in Iraq. This was different though. She didn't have the luxury of following orders to the letter to do her job. She was in command this time. This kind of thing never happened before. Her people were outnumbered and out gunned. These were heavily armed soldiers with military training. Winny knew she had a job to do. Right now that job was just to stay alive and make sure her officers did the same. Just as things were getting bad, she thought they had just gotten much worse.

    A very large man ran along the docks behind the armory. He moved at what seemed like a full sprint, but bounced as though on short pogo sticks. He was carrying - no, wearing - a rotating barreled weapon under each forearm. They looked like a pair of gunship cannons from the anti-tank aircraft she saw in Afghanistan. Just as she was about to issue the command to dig in, the man turned away from them and toward the armory. He opened fire with both cannons.

    Military grade concussion rounds erupted along the roofline of the armory. It looked like a string of lights that had suddenly blown all at once. Two of the soldiers had fallen from the roof onto the ground below. The others up there ceased firing. That removed a great deal of the threat facing them. Whoever this man was, he was on their side, at least for the moment. The huge soldier rounded the corner of the armory and fired on the pair of mercenaries that took cover there.

    They splayed out onto the ground and dropped their weapons. They covered their ears and rolled around in pain.

    "Burns, are you getting this?" Winny asked over her headset.

    "I've been rolling the camera since we got here." Winny heard in response.

    The gunfire on her side of the park had ceased. Winny gave the order to move out and support the second unit at the park entrance. They had run out of ammo and were pinned down. They only had to hold out a bit longer before the gunboats and chopper arrived. As she carefully advanced toward the bridge with her three officers behind her, she noticed the huge soldier running toward the south end of the park as well. He was being followed by a tall woman in plain black leotards and a mask. She was carrying a knife.

    Before anyone could reach the south end of the park all hell broke loose. A Coast Guard boat opened fire on the bridge with its .50 caliber deck gun. Winny dove to the bridge deck and hid below the mercilessly short concrete base at the bottom of the rail. The soldiers that had commandeered the boat layed fire down on the bridge while they turned the deck gun toward the approaching police boats.

    Arthur cycled the ammo feed from concussion rounds to armor piercing. It was time to quit screwing around. Before he got a chance to fire, the Coast Guard boat had rounded the docks to the far side of the armory. Catherine split off toward the south end to cover the cops. Arthur ran to the docks behind the armory to get a clear shot at the Coast Guard boat before they could fire on the police at the south end of the park.

    An inflatable speedboat zipped along the edge of the docks. Keith stood on the back bench of the boat with his .45's drawn. He wasted no time and opened fire. He knew exactly what to do as well. Even if he emptied both guns into Arthur's armor, he would not be able to completely breach it. Instead, he took aim at the lexan joint armor over the knees. .45 ACP rounds lodged into the knee armor, melding the halves together and completely seizing up the knee joints.

    Keith threw a rope around Arthur and dragged him off the docks into the water. The so-called heavy weapon package would be his undoing. There was no way Arthur would be able to remove it before he drowned. Keith threw the rope into the water and watched it sink as well. He ordered the soldier piloting the boat to the seaplane port only a couple hundred feet away.

    Catherine slipped along the south wall of the armory and toward the docks on the east side. The police behind her would be enough of a distraction for her to find green paths in to deal with the remaining soldiers. She sneaked up behind one and roundhouse kicked him in the head, then sliced his AK47 clean in half with the blade. She began to move toward the next target when she heard the deck gun of the Coast Guard ship open fire behind her.

    WHAT HAPPENED TO ARTHUR? She dove into a green area behind a log boat and focused her will on finding him again.

    The boat she was hiding behind splintered into chunks as .50 caliber rounds ripped through it. Catherine dove aside just in time to avoid being shredded by gigantic wood splinters. She would have to concentrate on taking out the Coast Guard boat first. She ran to the right of the dugout boats and towards a turn of the century fishing boat that was being restored. She ran up the gangplank and up on the edge of the hull.

    The soldiers on the Coast Guard boat directed the deck gun at the police positions while two other soldiers fired at Catherine with their AK-47s. She swept their fire aside with the blade as she ran along the top edge of the port side hull.
    Seeing a green point on the deck of the Coast Guard boat as it neared her, Catherine leapt onto it. She had planted the knife into the deck of the boat as she landed. The knife somehow knew what she wanted to do, and remained planted solidly in the deck as Catherine used it for leverage, sweeping the legs out from under the soldier firing the deck gun.

    The other two soldiers turned to fire, but Catherine lunged at them with the knife, slicing through both of their weapons. They threw down what was left of their guns and backed away. Catherine ran toward the deck gun and cut through it as well, barely avoiding the soldier that had fallen to the deck. She leapt over the side and into the water.

    Catherine focused her will on finding Arthur. He had sank to the bottom. Fortunately the water was not too deep this close to the docks. She swam down to him and cut away at green areas with the knife, releasing the heavy weapons package and removing the seized up lexan joint armor. She cut an oxygen hose from his subdermal feed and shoved it under his helmet. Arthur inhaled through the tubing. Freed of the excess weight, he began to swim up to the surface.

    When they did surface, they could see a seaplane pulling away from the docks and preparing to take off. Arthur fired a grapple cable, which pierced the edge of the left wing. He detached the cable from his arm and handed it to Catherine. She swam down and tied it around the heavy weapons package. As the plane sped away, its left wing dipped, capsizing it over in the water.

    When Catherine surfaced, there was no sign of Arthur. She skirted the shoreline for quite some time, following a green path to avoid the police who now had began to take control of the park and round up the soldiers. Police boats arrived and captured Keith as well.

    Epilogue

    Once again Catherine found herself at the end of the line of students asking Arthur Tremaine questions after his physics lecture.

    She would ask him this time. He could say yes, he could say no. Whatever happened, happened. He was a professor and she was his student after all.

    Whatever led her into despair that night two weeks ago was no longer in control of her life. As Catherine approached Arthur Tremaine’s desk there was no red, there was no green, there was only the two of them.

    “I feel like going out for a pizza after class. Want to join me professor?” She asked, her smile beaming.

    Arthur Tremaine sat and thought for a moment, then answered. “I can’t even remember the last time I had a pizza. Why not.”
     
  6. Sep 13, 2008 #6

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