The night is calm after the hail of gun shots that echoed throughout the complex, the reflected sound multiplying and distorting to craft a cacophonous, and seemingly directionless, roar. I turn my feet toward the front gate, a decision based partly on common sense, but mostly driven through instinct. I had pivoted that direction before my conscious mind even had a chance to consider it.
Momma says I have a nose for conflict.
The facility is a routinely boring place, so the chances of engaging in some violent action appeals. I break into a long stride trot, the sort that eats up a lot of space but doesn’t look too rushed. I am not on duty, so by rights should just stay out of it, but they could discipline me later if it comes to it. As it is I am behind the ELLO response vehicle as it exits mian building heading toward the front gate, confirming my instincts. Not that I had doubted. ELLO is short for Electric LandLord, and it’s basically a short range electric armored troop vehicle, with the added bonus of being able to launch drones. Two drones are already launched and I see their lights blink out as they engage stealth and fly into the night.
It would have already tagged me as friendly so I lengthen my stride to a full run and pace it up and through the gates into the great wide world. Now I really could get in trouble. Off-duty I have full permissions to roam any part of the facility campus, but not to leave. It feels good but now I have no doubt that I am playing now on future debts.
The scene is about what one might expect, a gaggle of five guards still huddling behind the gate with AR-15s and a figure sprawled on in the street where they have been shot down. I catch the scent of blood and rot in the air, which starts some alarm bells. Blood yes, but the body should not be rotting.
The side of the ELLO splits open and discharges Metro and Orphan, my best friends and rivals in the program. Metro stops to cover, and I move to flank Orphan as they approach the body. It’s hard to get read on the figure as they are wearing a long black coat over what looks to be blood red leather. In the shadows of the gate lights the dark colors and folds could be hiding almost anything.
“The blood smells old,” I offer.
“Gentry you aren’t even supposed to be here. Get back and let us handle it.”
“First action in months, no way I am missing out.”
“You don’t have authorization to even be out here. Now stop distracting me.”
She is right, being a distraction was not going to help anyone. But I got the feeling this was all a distraction already. Made no sense for someone to just rush the front gates and get shot down. The drones above us have enough sensors that not even a cockroach should be able to approach us.
“Hold! Metro, query the drone sensors! Scan the body!”
“Already have but could not get a good read. Suit may be shielded.”
“That does not strike you as suspicious?”
“Gentry stand down, what are they gonna do against the three of us anyway?”
Orphan plants a foot into the side of the body while I am thinking: that sounded like a challenge to the universe. Never challenge the universe.