The Exchange - Part 2 - La Continuacion
Posted By: Dispraiser<Dispraiser@netzero.com>
Date: 5 December 2003, 1:32 AM
01:56 Hours Sunday April 3, 2540
Salient Avenue, Lunar 4
Part Two - La Continuacion
My foot trembled on the gas pedal. I had ran eight red lights since we left the facility, but I didn't care. My only goal was to get as far from the demons as possible. Max and Maria reloaded their rifles and sorted some of the smaller magazines into larger ones. The silence was almost as terrifying as the AEs I had seen before.
I broke the silence, "What the hell were those things!?!"
"They are the AEs." Max said coldly, "They are the enemy of the Spartan."
"What? I got that from the way they killed your friends! Where did they come from? Are they Covenant?"
"No. They are born of human toil. Depending on how literate you are in regards to the history of Lunar 4 you may realize that there hasn't been more than five years of peace for nearly two hundred years, besides the peace the Covenant created. As a result of this, several military regimes took power in the West. They're aggressive tenancies turned them against the UNSC around one hundred and fifty years ago. As a result, and to protect the oft vulnerable East the UNSC began a Spartan program on Lunar 4. Because of the social adaptations the planet had endured resulting from years of genocide, there were fewer bioethic limits. No one knows exactly when the first was born, but some time around May 1st 2527 the first Spartan III was born. Needless to say, it was a flawed creation, the consequence of humanities first endeavor into massive genetic engineering. The Spartan still functioned at a superhuman level, but failed to meet the expectations of anyone, especially not the United Planets Conglomerate Cabinet. I was born a year later, a product of the seventh Spartan III spawn, along with five hundred others. Chances are you didn't know of the existence of Spartans before tonight, and thought that the UNSC and ONI were great allies."
"Wait, so, ONI and the UNSC, do they wage active battles with starships or what?" I asked.
"Not with starships, per se. Until now it had been a political siege. The attack you witnessed had no precedent. The truth is that we wage an invisible war every day. ONI hated the Spartans in particular, more than any other UNSC project. On most planets it wasn't a large problem to have a Spartan program active, until most of the cabinet received one. ONI could no longer sit still and take the political lynching, and would not allow an enemy to rise to power. On Lunar 4 they got even, simply stated. The first two AEs were Adam and Eve, the names no coincidence to the biblical reference. There was a man, and a woman, and each slightly more monstrous Spartans. They had teeth, claws, and numerous other borrowed traits from other animals. The UNSC believes that Humans will win the war for mankind, not monsters. ONI believes that the AEs perfect human form, which is naturally weak and unrefined. Consequently, they had no problem removing most human DNA from their later creations, making them more monster than human."
"How many different AEs are there?"
"All indications point to that there is several hundred different breeds, though many are either not combat worthy, unable to sustain their own life, or a minor variation of another breed. In the last attack you saw almost every common breed of AE. You saw the Dinosaur AEs, the Gorilla AEs and I smelled Wolf AE stench on your shirt."
"I also saw a flying kind and a cat kind."
"So you've seen the important ones. Do you understand what an AE is?"
"Yeah, basically the opposite of a Spartan, right?"
"I'm still terrified of those things. I saw one get shot, and the bullet wound just closed after it spit the bullet out! I saw your guys do that too! What the hell was that?"
"A special feature of our skin. The first AEs, which I mentioned were largely believed to be only slightly tweaked Spartan IIIs were believed to have been based off stolen DNA. They share most of our old abilities. The scientific way the skin works is simple, in principle. We have very loose skin on our backs, if you can even call it skin. The 'skin', is more accurately an odd fabric. The material is composed of several million nanowire rings. When our skin is penetrated we feel no pain, instead, the electric impulses cause a powerful muscle twitch designed to spit the bullet from our bodies, and then to electrify one of the wires, contracting it. Simple, but effective. The loose skin from our backs can cover our bodies completely, so we can recover from most bullet trauma, much of the reason AEs attack with teeth and claws."
"Wow... That's amazing..."
"Well, you said that the war between ONI and the UNSC was a political war-"
"So then why did the AEs attack your base?"
"It is possible that all along the war has been a physical war and we simply hadn't been informed, or it could be that this is the first attack. To be perfectly honest with you Spartans are simply told what they need to be told to do what they need to do."
"Will they want to kill you bad enough to hunt you down?"
I felt my stomach sink into a hellishly familiar feeling of terror, "What can we do?"
"Training was to go to the University of Achilles campus, Room 109. We are then to look for the Professor of Anthropology Cari Neverdark. She will tell us what to do."
"Great, that's at least a day of driving away." I said.
Maria pulled a long, curved knife from her backpack. She spun it once examining the shiny, metal object before she gently stabbed the end into her arm. She dragged the knife down her forearm before pulling the blade from her arm and handing it to Max.
"What the hell did she just do?" I asked Max.
"She's doing what we were told. She has a tracking device in her arm. She has to take it out." Max said, watching Maria intently. Max began to slide it down his arm as Maria looked very carefully at her arm. She carefully pulled what looked like a tiny hair from her arm, and threw it out the car's window. Max did the same. I looked back to my driving and swerved to avoid hitting another car. I looked back again and both of the Spartans' arms had healed. Blood soaked my car. I simply shook my head and looked back to my driving.
"Is there any chance your base won?" I asked.
"A small chance. Early indications showed four AEs for every five Spartans on the campus. There were also approximately twice that number in Marines. We had many advantages, but the surprise attack left us vulnerable. A platoon of the Dinosaur AEs dropped into the main cell room before we could get to the armor. They are covered in small sacs of a stinging venom, so whenever we physically attacked one it would burn us. They killed dozens in my block alone."
"God..." I muttered. Suddenly I noticed a whining behind me, and flashing red and blue lights. I turned pale as I realized who it was; the police. I slowed to a stop on the side of the road and ordered the Spartans to hide beneath a towel. The duo did as I instructed, and the police officer approached the car. I rolled my window down. "There a problem, officer?"
"I caught you going twenty over and saw you nearly ram a car."
"Now I'm thinking, surely this little lady wouldn't be driving like this in his home town," the officer continued, "So; where ya from?"
"I'm from Missoula."
"So, what's the rush at 2:06 on this fine morning? Heading home from the bars?"
"No sir, just getting home from a late night at work."
"Alright sir, I'm gonna have to ask you to step out of the car."
"But I'm not even accused of anything, you can't-"
"Step out of the car! Are you resisting arrest!?!" I noticed his hand was on his pistol and complied. As I opened the door all of the lights in the car came on. He looked into the middle seat where the bloodstains were. I quickly slammed the door shut and the lights flickered off. I prayed he didn't see the bloodstains or the man-sized lumps covered in blankets in the trunk. "Walk in a straight line" I did. "Alright, now lean against the hood of the car and put your hands behind your back." I did, and he slapped a pair of handcuffs on my wrists. I heard them click into place, and sighed.
"What am I under arrest for?"
"Nothing. Yet! I saw some red substance in your car, It appeared to be blood. I'm gonna ask you to remain calm while I investigate." As he uttered those words I swore a thousand times in my head. It he found the Spartans there's no telling what would happen to me. He opened the trunk. I looked through the windshield as he tugged the blanket from one of the Spartans. He leapt back and drew his pistol, realizing that she was dressed as a prisoner. "GET OUT OF THE CAR!" he yelled. I saw Max calmly sit up. "HANDS ON YOUR HEAD!" the cop yelled. "BOTH OF YOU, ON THE GROUND!"
"Are you sure you want us out of the car?" Max asked.
"GET ON THE GROUND!"
"Alright. Your call." The Spartan nearly vanished as he flung out of the car, appearing with a knee raised in the man's chest. He started to crumple to the ground as Max regained his footing and brought his knee into the man's jaw, hurling him into the air. He dropped six feet back and lie, unconscious, on the ground. I figured this meant I wasn't under arrest any more and climbed back in the car. The Spartans quickly went to work disabling any useful function of the cops car and tying him to a tree. Within five minutes the two climbed back into the car. I showed them my handcuffs, asking them to help.
"Use your knife?"
"Not if you wanna have kids. Special knife for removing tracking devices and disabling them so they don't dig deeper. Now, hold your arms out straight and don't be afraid."
"Why would I be scared?" Suddenly Max drew his arm back, "Oh."
An hour later we drove into the suburbs. In the past hour I had asked everything about the AEs at least a dozen times. Max seemed ardent in his quest to change the subject. "Alright, we need new clothing. These orange jumpsuits are designed to camouflage us as prisoners, however, with knowledge of covert urban operations tactics, this is not lasted as one of the effective disguises. Urban Covert Ops also taught me that money can be exchanged for food and materials such as clothes. Now that we are in an urban setting, I would like to find some new clothes."
"Sounds better than making it through this town dressed like prisoners. We'll stop here and ask one of the locals." I pulled the car to the curb in front of a bar. The Spartans and I stepped from the car onto cold pavement once again. We staggered into the bar. As the door cracked open my ears suddenly filled with noise. Lasers danced in the smoky, distant ceiling, and dozens of people stood around the bar, talking, dancing, some sleeping or passed out. I noticed that many of them were covered in tattoos and piercings. They didn't look normal, and barely looked human. We stumbled to the bar and sat in three seats. The bartender walked towards us, wiping a cup clean.
"What can I get for ya?" the bartender asked. He seemed to have significantly less piercings than others, but still at least a dozen in his face alone.
"Nothing, we're just here to get directions." I replied, nearly yelling over the music.
"Sorry, no purchase no help. What can I get for ya?"
I looked to the Spartans. Both nodded. "I'll get whatever's the cheapest you've got."
A loud, booming voice roared behind our group, "Hey, baby!" I spun to see a huge, brutish man facing Maria. He smiled, revealing gold teeth. His face was a forest of tiny pins and tattoos.
"Leave. I don't want to talk to you." Maria responded.
"Did it hurt?" he continued. Maria simply ignored him.
"Anyways, we need to know where we can get some clothes for my friends."
"Well, I don't think you can get much at 2:30 in the morning. I have some clothes back in the back room, but they aren't really for sale. They're more for when someone in the bar gets blood or puke on their shirt."
"I'll give you five hundred credits."
"Make it six and we have a deal."
"Are those astronaut pants?" the brute randomly interjected. We all ignored him.
"Fine, but the drink is on you then." I continued.
"I don't know where you come from you bitch, but when I talk, you listen!" the man set his hand on Maria's shoulder.
"Big mistake..." I muttered. As he opened his mouth to continue to talk a fist met his face. The man wavered in the air for a moment, before falling to the ground; a trail of crimson blood following his nose's path to the ground. The bartender looked at us as if we had done something wrong. "Anyways, you go get the shirts. Leave em here, and I can..." I noticed an odd number of red lasers suddenly, "We'll come get them. Nice laser show."
"Look around.", Max said.
A dozen armed men stood on balconies around the room, red lasers from their rifles marking their positions. I felt a chill in my spine as a rifle's barrel pressed against my back.