Episode 1 Scene 18
I rolled out of the shallow depression and struggled to my feet. My burst across the prairies had wrenched some usually dormant muscles, but I’d got the job done. Whatever he was, he was down. There’s nothing like a grenade to put a guy on his ass. Except I couldn’t see the body. I was getting concerned about this when the figure clambered up from behind his bike. The bastard was still alive and mobile.
He looked rough in the pale light, but let’s face it, he looked damn good for someone who’d just copped the full blast of a grenade. Sections of clothing were torn away, and black oily blood was weeping from deep cuts. His left arm was askew at the elbow. He fixed this by giving it a solid tug and popping it back into place. This really got my attention. That must’ve hurt, and he didn’t make a sound.
He searched around for the mechanism that controlled his weapons system. He found it. All busted up. Thank Christ, his equipment wasn’t as tough as him. I did a quick gear check of my own: gun, gone; grenade, useless at close quarters; and the Ka-Bar. I tugged the knife out of its sheath and held it by my side. It made me feel better.
He stopped his search and spent time considering me. A shredded hood covered most of his face, but what I could see glinted in the moonlight. He was human. Well, mainly human, but he’d been augmented, and metal was melded into his skin. This, unlike my knife, didn’t make me feel better.
Now that he’d looked me over, he turned away. Apparently I wasn’t considered a worthy threat. This pissed me off. I thought I’d introduced myself sufficiently when I tossed the grenade at him. Clearly he had an attention-span issue. The guy then pulled up the sleeve of his garment. He focused on his forearm and tapped at a panel fused into his flesh. There was a spark from his arm and he jumped back. Something wasn’t working properly. I needed to make contact.
“Hey!” I yelled. “What do you want?”
The figure’s head swiveled. Eyes peered at me from beneath the hood, and the voice, when he finally answered, had a metallic edge to it.
“You, Jack. I want you dead.”
I have to admit, he got me. Not the dead bit, that was par for the course these past few years, but how the hell did he know my name?
“What, how?” I spluttered. “Do I know you?”
He gave a hollow laugh. “We know you. That’s why I’m here to kill you.”
What the hell was going on? I shifted onto the balls of my feet. I needed to be alert. The guy looked weaponless. All his toys were either blown up or on the fritz, but he’d already survived a grenade blast, and I had no idea what he was.
“How about we chat, you know, get to know each other?” I suggested.
“Not an option, Jack.” He shot a frustrated look at the smoking panel in his arm and a sharp shake of his head. “We’re going to have to do this the old-fashioned way.”
The figure grabbed his left hand with his right and twisted. The hand pulled away from his forearm, dragging with it a whole mass of bioelectric shit: wires, blood, fiber-optic cables . . . you know, the normal crap you see inside a tech-infused human.
He then raised his left arm and cracked it like a whip. The hand zipped past my face, but the trailing wires didn’t. They latched onto the side of my head, wrapped around the top of my dome, and cut deep. The wires sliced through the thin skin and blood erupted. I screamed and instinctively jerked the Ka-Bar up and cut through the wire and other crap. I heard the sound of the hand fall behind me, and the pain dialed back a fraction. Head injuries are bleeders, but there are no major arteries up there to kill you quick. I gave my eyes a hasty wipe to clear the blood, and I saw the guy looking at his handless arm in disbelief. How fucked up was that? It was OK for him to disconnect his bionic hand and throw it at me, but when I cut it off, he couldn’t believe it.
I then played offense. The evening was light, and my gun was only a few feet away. I took two quick paces and grabbed it. Judging by the weight, there were still a few rounds in the mag. I pulled back the slide, and the snicking noise of an engaged weapon got the guy’s attention.
I pointed the gun at the figure in white, and he smiled. He raised his remaining hand in the universal stop gesture. Fuck that. I pulled the trigger and shot him three times. It was an excellent grouping, but best of all, the prick stopped smiling. Whatever force field had protected him before was no longer working. Black blood oozed from the wounds, and the guy started to twitch. I’d hit something major.
I moved in closer and took a hack at him with the knife. He tried to leap away, but something inside him was broken. The blade slid across his ribs. More black blood flowed. It looked like old engine oil.
My own blood continued to leak into my eyes. I gave them another wipe. The figure continued to stand there. He was jittery, and his limbs kept twitching. He wasn’t fully in control of his own body.
“What are you?” I demanded.
The man laughed. It wasn’t pleasant. It wasn’t supposed to be.
“I’m your future, Jack,” he said.
With a defeated sigh, he reached under his tattered garment and twisted. A panel on his chest lit up. It was circular, and the light within was clicking down. It got smaller, segment by segment. Oh shit. A timer. The guy was in self-destruct mode. I turned and ran. Torn muscles protested. I tried to get away.
I wasn’t quick enough.