Strategic Entry

We go through the streets like guerrilla assassins, taking cover behind dead mechanical hulks and overstuffed trash bins. We're close, and there are CyberCorp Enforcers on the lookout, scanning in infrared with assault rifles slung low like they know something's coming for them. The CyberCorp Pyramid's up ahead, perimeter wall like a white ribbon cutting us off.

"Wait here."

And he's gone, launching himself off the ground and into the air, striking the side of a building and kicking off, debris raining down. This cold draft hits me as I watch him rise up up up and crash down into the Prosteticore lot, hurling chunks of concrete into the air around him as he lands in a coiled crouch. The Enforcers whirls around and start screaming into their built-in speakers, guns up against their armored shoulders, headlights pouring onto him in twenty different directions.


Drake stands slowly, his eyes gleaming in the night like perfect diamonds.

"MAANDY," he cries in a voice that echoes across the whole lot and shuts all the enforcers up.

An enforcer comes forward with his gun high, speakers blaring back. "Put your hands up right now, buddy! Who the hell are you and what do you want?"

Drake stares at him until he's real close, then he leans forward and says in a harsh whisper just loud enough for me to hear:


He doesn't give me a cue but I know it's time. As the first Enforcer crashes headless to the ground the assault rifles start spitting hot yellow streams of bullets. I'm up and blasting into them with the semi, and Drake's launched himself forward and is hurling them around like dolls. A heavy assault bot turns on its treads and its chainguns shake the night, but Drake's already gone, and the guns rip the remaining Enforcers to shreds.

And then the entire bot reels backwards--its hull starts spinning wildly, blasting into the night, shells hitting the ground like candy wrappers, and its twenty-ton mass is hefted bodily off the ground. The remaining Enforcers just stop and stare as Drake stands there, trembling beneath, disproportionate the the monstrous bot's bulk.

Then he hurls in through the air, and CyberCorp's perimeter wall goes down like Jericho.

"Jack!" he calls. I plug the last few Enforcers and sprint across the lot. Inside the perimeter I see more mobilizing--an army coming together with perfect precision. I'm almost there, almost to him, then I go down, knees smashing the concrete, a cough ripping out of me like an iron fist. I spit blood and phlegm and black goo and for a second I just stay there on all fours, retching and gasping.

"Jack. Get up." I look up through clouded vision and he's there, reaching down his hand. "Let's finish this."

I take his hand.

And then we're flying, hurling through the cold night. My arm feels like it just got wrenched out of its socket. Down below they're opening fire--tracers lance through the air around us like spears. We're falling...

He smashes through the roof of an outlying structure and I come toppling through after him. As we hit the ground he adjusts and catches me, legs grinding into the ground like steel springs, cushioning my fall with meticulously calculated force. Damn, one hell of an experiment he was part of--thinking of an army of these guys under CyberCorp's control is enough to turn my stomach.

An Enforcer runs in a door nearby and Drake is there--punches him straight through a wall. Another Enforcer runs through a rear exit and I pull a hollow-point right through his helmet. Clip's empty--I've still got enough wits about me to keep count--So I reload. Last clip... damn.

"Let's move, Jack!"

Reinforced doors seal our way into the Pyramid and Drake hurls himself at them, brings them crashing down with his shoulder. We're in a dark hall and running. Security bristles like spines from the walls--autoturrets, electric fields, combat bots--everything state-of-the-art. A hundred targetting lasers bristle from the darkness and pinion themselves over us, waiting to unleash a motherload of pain.

And then they go off. I glance over and Drake's eyes are burning like blue suns.

"Did you--"

"Let's go." He starts sprinting down the hall. He hurls down the doors at the far end and we're in a wide, brightly-lit room--everything's immaculate, clean, lit from inside like the walls are ribbed with phosphorescent lights. Drake's a blur--Enforcers come running in the front door and go hurtling into the far wall, and then his eyes go blue again and the doors to the outside seal shut. Seems like most of security ran out when the commotion started, and now he's trapped them there. That's almost too good--had he planned it all along?

You'd think people'd be off this time of night, but there're techies passing through all over the place. Right now they're frozen, staring at Drake and me, wondering what the hell's going on. A big freight-sized elevator slides noiselessly open at one end of the room.

"There's our ticket up," I say, walking towards it.

"Not so fast," says Drake. "CyberCorp still has control of that thing. If they figure out we're on it, we're at their mercy. I'm taking the stairs, and if you've got any sense you will to."

      He'd lead me right so far. "All right, Drake. After you."

      I'd never make it up those stairs with my cough--better to risk the elevator.

I couldn't take it anymore. I called it off.