McKinley couldn’t move – he wasn’t sure what stunned him most, whatever it was that had knocked him to the floor or that Seanna was just… gone. Standing there, looking at where she had last stood, motionless. He was vaguely aware of others around him, of people. But it somehow didn’t matter now.
“Sir!” Blake insisted “We have to go! Now!”
“What do we do?” asked Gerrad, one of Blake’s Marines – a tall and well build, looking big enough to move a wall!
“I don’t know Gerrad!” Blake answered “We have to get him back somehow! God knows what could turn up at any minute!”
With that Gerrad moved forward, putting his arm around McKinley’s torso he proceeded to pick him up under his arm. At that second McKinley began lashing out, his arms and legs flailing in every direction and shouting out that he should be put down with every obscenity being used. Dropping him on the floor, McKinley got up and began thumping Gerrad wildly, Blake trying to force him back. Blake caught some of the punches across his face before Gerrad thumped McKinley square in the middle of his face. McKinley dropped where he stood, Gerrad catching him before he hit the floor.
“Sorry sir” Gerrad said only half apologetically “But let lets get back to where we need to be shall we?” Gerrad hauled McKinley over his shoulder, Blake followed shaking his head and mumbling as he nursed his bruises. In only a few moments they were back at the hyperloop capsule. Gerrad straining a little with McKinley, he flopped onto a bench as Blake helped him down. The mechanoids had all gathered in the sides, standing like lifeless statues in a neutral pose, their tools locked into position for transport.
Blake started working the controls of the hyperloop capsule “I think we better get back to the core – we need to get this over with before anyone else gets killed!” the plan had been to go back and get the rest of the team, Blake knew that what they would be expecting so the change in plan would raise questions. He tapped his ear communicator “Team 2 this is Blake – the plan has changed. You must get to the core platform immediately, be on guard!”
Jearo started talking back, demanding to know why the plan had changed and where McKinley was. “I’ll brief you when we meet – be careful!” was all Blake was willing to reply, he cut off the conversation and stood there, looking out at the tunnel ahead. He turned to find the lead mechanoid standing behind him, jumping slightly in shock Blake asked “Can I help?”
“You have been identified as the current leader. Can I help you?”
“He’s the leader!” Blake replied pointing towards McKinley. McKinley had been out cold, but was now stirring. A bruise on his face had appeared, he sat round nursing his bruise and mumbling to himself.
“He isn’t well I see!” the mechanoid observed, despite the almost human quality of it’s voice it was still obvious that it was synthesized. Blake thought this might be deliberate as surely the technology of this time would have been able to fully synthesize a human voice by now. The mechanoid stopped near McKinley, the ends of it’s fingers glowed blue and passed them over his head and body. It then turned to Blake and announced “This male humanoid has a minor injury to his cranium, he also has a peculiar chemical imbalance caused by temporalismanism”
“Temporar – what-a-what?” Blake didn’t like the sound of what the mechanoid was saying.
“This human has been exposed to a temporal field at close range!”
“What does that mean?” Blake was still confused.
“A portal that enables a person or object to pass into different time zones was initiated close to the human! He was briefly in two time zones – this has upset the chemical balance of his system!” The mechanoid turned, placing a finger on his neck a small hiss was heard. “He should recover quickly now!”
“He should?” asked Blake “What did you you? When did he get exposed to this temporal portal?”
“I have dispensed a dose of chemical stabiliser into the human. I don’t have enough information to explain when the human was exposed to the time portal!”
Blake thought for a moment and realised this had not long happened. It must have been the weapon of the attacker that killed Seanna. Blake briefly thought about what it was and what it must have done to her. He was brought back to focus by McKinley’s voice.
“Seanna?” McKinley asked Blake. He shook his head slowly. McKinley put his head into his hands again cursing to himself. “Are we ever going to get out of this Blake?” McKinley asked, looking at his Marine commander, hoping for an answer. His eyes were red and his face not so gaunt, but showing real signs of fatigue.
“I don’t know sir.” Blake replied solemnly “We have a chance now that we have found the mechanoids. Seanna’s gone, I can’t believe it either but we have to focus on those that are still alive. Right sir?”
McKinley nodded “You’re right of course Blake – but…”
“I know sir!” Blake cut in “No need to explain.”
McKinley got up slowly and carefully. He was feeling better but still feeling drained. “What’s been going on Blake?”
“This mechanoid seems to be the lead mechanoid, we communicate with him and I assume he will communicate with the rest of them.”
“That is correct” The mechanoid “I am mechanoid A-1756-349 if it makes it easier you may call me Dave.”
“Dave?” McKinley asked with mild amusement. Both him and Blake exchanging amused glances
“That is correct” the mechanoid answered.
“Well I’m McKinley. It will be easier if you call me sir!” McKinley was playing with it to see what would happen.
“I understand sir!” it answered.
“I’m Blake, this is Gerrad, Carlos, Thompson and Tony” Blake explained, motioning to his team.
“I understand Blake. Our task is tome complete repairs to the inversion core?”
“That’s correct.” McKinley confirmed. “Without any danger being inflicted on my people, I might add”
“I understand sir – no harm will come to any of you.”
A few minutes of quiet was had to collect their thoughts, McKinley was feeling better by the minute. He was cut up about Seanna, for now he was putting it to the back of his mind and focusing on getting the rest of them back to the Tycho.
“We have arrived!” Dave announced as the door to the carriage opened “There are humanoids on the docking station sir – can I have instructions?”
McKinley looked up and recognised the rest of the crew “They’re with us Dave. Disembark and carry out the repairs.”
“Acknowledged sir” with that Dave disembarked, taking the lead the other mechanoids followed. McKinley got off behind. McKinley walked up to Jearo.
“Where’s Seanna?” she asked.
“She didn’t make it” McKinley explained quickly. “You and the others go and help the mechanoids, assist them in any way possible.”
“I need to talk to Blake sir!”
“Not now – go and get on with it!” McKinley was taken back by the reply and responded curtly.
In an instant McKinley’s anger came to the surface “Do you want to get out of here? Go!” he shouted. Jearo and the others turned and followed the mechanoids. Looking round Blake was motioning to McKinley, he walked over.
“Get in and close the door sir!” McKinley was puzzled but did as was asked.
“What is it?”
“The rest of the team are still over with the sentinels sir!” I can’t communicate with them but they’re in range of the tracker and they’re still there!”
“No they’re not!” McKinley responded, his frustration obvious. He snatched the tracker from Blake and stared in disbelief. In a second he had realised what they had just walked into.
“Don’t look sir – but they’re coming!” Blake told him. McKinley felt the blood drain from him and out of the corner of his eye, he could see. They were coming.
©Simon Farnell 2016
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