Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Atmosphere Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine

Mid-town: Midnight

“Mafiosos .. of course there'd be mafiosos. There's every other possible group” Daniel grumbled to himself, the robot still dragging him along after crossing over numerous avenues and through the old buildings and stores before stopping. Daniel put his hands on his knees and tried to catch his breath back, Isaac looking back through the windows of the building they just left, the massive rifle from the gate commander still in one of his hands.

“Are you going to use that?” Daniel asked

The robot looked down at the rifle and only just realised he was still holding it, chucking it to Daniel who almost fell to the floor under it's weight -the robot had been holding it effortlessly. Daniel put the weapon's sling over his shoulder and inspected it closer. It was just over a metre long, the grip coming out at an angle just over half way down the body, with the magazine running below it up to the bottom of the stock, and there was no sign of an ejection port for the used bullet casings.

“It uses caseless ammunition.” Isaac said, glancing back to Daniel and seeing him looking it over. “It's also recoilless. United Arms AR-34. It was meant to be the ultimate infantry weapon” He stopped as a red dot appeared on his head and he immediately dropped to the floor, a hail of bullets flying past a second later. Daniel jumped and fumbled with the rifle, putting his back against the wall and seeing Isaac was already back on his feet and running. Letting out a sigh and running forward after him, more red dots briefly appearing on the buildings and trees around them seeking them out. Isaac darted off into a building door to the side and Daniel almost missed it, quickly stopping himself with a tree in front of him and turning back to go through the door, a flash of red blinding him for a second as one of the red dot sights found their target. Letting out a cry as he continued running forward blinded he opened his stinging eyes again thankfully now inside again. Isaac was kicking at a large wooden door which crumbled after a few hits, he looked back to Daniel before continuing through.

He rushed after the robot and paused for a moment, now inside the remains of a massive theatre, the huge caved in roof above littering most of the mouldy seats with debris and giving a view of the starry night. The robot continued forward, clambering over the old rows of seats with ease, Daniel tried to follow as quickly as he could, stumbling over the chairs as they creaked and slid beneath him. He reached the top of the theatre and stumbled over the last chair, groaning and picking himself up off the floor to see Isaac was waiting impatiently, tapping his foot fast against the ground. Multiple footsteps could be heard behind them entering the lower door and by the time Daniel looked back to the door then back to Isaac he was already off again, cursing and following after him. They passed through the narrow corridors which led off to other screening rooms and down into the foyer, light spilling in from outside through the empty building front. A few feet of water came up the steps leading down but the robot didn't mind, quickly passing through the ticket collection area and out through the door, Daniel keeping up as best he could. He stopped the moment he passed through the door, gazing around at the thousands of huge neon signs and advertisements that covered the darkened buildings, the water now up to their waists.

“Is this Times Square..?” He asked, still panting loudly and resting against a street sign.

“Yes. Or the Neon Valley as people call it now. No one knows how they remained on after all this time”

“I have to rest... I can't go on any further”

Isaac looked back to the exhausted Daniel and looked around the flooded roadway, spotting a yellow taxicab sitting in the slow flowing water. He grabbed Daniel's arm and pulled him through the water to the car, trying to open the door and finding it locked, he gripped the handle again and yanked it and the lock right out of the door, chucking it aside into the water and throwing the door open, shoving Daniel into the backside and shutting the door again as he clambered into the front and tried to lay flat.

The sound of splashing and footsteps slapping loudly into the water soon came from the entrance of the theatre as the Militari soldiers came out onto the side walk outside and looked around, a hundred different ways the two could have gone. They slowly scanned the area with their red-dot sights and NVGs, not picking up anything. The soldiers turned and marched down the street and turned the corner heading back to The Marketplace without their suspects. Isaac peered out of the taxi windscreen for a few minutes after before turning to the back seat.

“They're gone” He whispered “Daniel? I said they left” He put his hand on the driver's seat and leant up, seeing Daniel asleep on the back-seat clutching the huge rifle in his hands. The robot sat back down in the seat and let out a sigh – or the closest sound he could make to it- fiddling with the white cover over his head and unclipping two small parts just below his 'ears', taking the cover off and revealing the intricate and complex mechanism beneath. He looked at his head cover, running a finger over the massive dent the thug had left and flipping it over, pressing his hands against the dent until he pushed it back out the other side and smoothed it out, the dent barely noticeable now. He put it back over his bare head and and clipped it back into place, pulling his coat hood back up over the top and pulling it tight, sitting still in the chair and waiting for his new companion to wake.

The dark abandoned streets were gone, now alight and full of life, noisy traffic and busy crowds overfilling them. Looking down at them from the 105th floor the dark suited man took another sip of his small glass of whiskey, before looking out to the horizon far to the west beyond New Jersey. The distant night sky burning and bursting with tiny explosions every so often, the long vapour trails of aeroplanes visible against the dark clouds that choked the horizon. A robot in similar appearance to Isaac but completely black approached the man, holding a pile of papers in his hand.

“It's been a week, The cordon has fallen and the bombers don't appear to be working.” He said sombrely, standing beside the man “And sir, the president is en-route in Air-force 101, due to land to land at JFK Airport in half an hour. He asked what our next plan of action is”.

The man slowly turned the glass in his hand one way then the other, letting out a loud breath before speaking “Are we any closer to a vaccine?”

“No sir”

“Tell the men to begin the cordoning of Manhattan. Order an F-22 to shoot down Airforce 101 and inform the US Army and Marine Corps divisions here they now work for United Arms.”

“At once sir”

The man put his glass down at the glass table beside him, reaching into his jacket and pulling out a cigarette and putting it between his lips and reaching for his lighter.

“And Napoleon.”

The robot who was just about to leave stopped and turned back.

“Yes sir?”

“What ever happens, which ever Protocol we go with, I'm leaving you in-charge here. Take good care of United Arms and these people”

“Yes sir. Thank you.”

Daniel stirred in his sleep and rolled over onto his side, his hand slipping down in the freezing water that filled the bottom of the taxi cab, quickly pulling it back out and opening his eyes. He glanced about the inside of the car, sitting up slowly and looking down at something heavy on his lap and remembering the rifle, the rest of the previous evening quickly coming to him as well. Leaning across to the front seat there was no sign of the robot so Daniel sat back down and looked out the windows. Loud thumping suddenly came from the roof making Daniel lay down flat again and pointing the rifle upwards until a pair of legs appeared down past the window and Isaac hopped down from the roof. Daniel let out a sigh of relief and let go of the rifle again, sitting up and pushing the busted back door open with a foot, the robot turning and looking back to him.

“Finally. It's almost nine.”

“So? We're not in a hurry”

“No. But the soldiers came back twice last night and I had to lure them away. I'd rather not stick around here now it's light.”

Daniel nodded and shuffled out from the back of the taxi, making sure his gas mask was secure before looking to Isaac.

“Alright, lead the way. You sure seemed to know where you were going last night...”

“The way where? To the Termini building or the UA building on 55th?”

“55th street I suppose. Get this over with.”

Isaac nodded and looked to the north and began wadding through the water which got higher the further up Times Square they got. Eventually he clambered atop one of the old abandoned cars, helping Daniel up before walking along the roof and climbing up the back of a truck and turning to help Daniel again. Daniel let out a groan and pulled himself up the truck, sitting up atop it and looking northwards and seeing a collapsed building just before 58th street, completely blocking the roadway and overgrown with plants, a waterfall running off it and spilling into the flooded Times Square, a thousand grid-locked cars littering the area.

They continued north, walking along the tops of the trucks and buses, the cars now disappearing beneath the surface of the water.

“Were you here when it all happened?” Daniel called out to Isaac who was a little further ahead and jumping across from one truck to another before looking back.

“No. I come from Chicago. Well, actually I come from the Teksarb assembly plant in Frankfurt, but that's beside the point... I was an aide at the Roosevelt University until '47 when Teksarb brought out a new up to date model to compete with Honda's new line of super-advanced robots, they were sponsored by United Arms I think... Anyway, I was sold to an elementary school. It was still open right up to the day the virus showed up – when the cordon failed. The city had gone to chaos and we had to keep the children in the assembly hall while we waited for their parents to show up to collect them. Half a day later and none showed up, whole city blocks near by where on fire as rioting swept through the city. Any of the staff that went outside to see what was happening didn't come back again. The children were becoming restless.. scared, all of them crying – it was when bullets started to rain on the school walls we realised we had to get them underground.” He had stopped now, standing atop a bus and -looking- down at the ground, Daniel standing at the other end. “We tried out best to herd them down into the school basements, but there were so many children cramped into such a small place, some were just dropping from suffocation or being crushed. Some never got inside at all, I volunteered to go up and look for them as it was night time by then and I'd fine them easier. When I got outside... there aren't even adequate words in our language to describe the horror I witnessed. And then -planes. A hundred planes in the sky above, dropping bombs that exploded in the air and blanketed the city in fire. I hid beneath an underpass and watched as the school collapsed, I could hear the screaming over the explosions, and rushed out to save them -rushed out into the fire, my legs burning in the flames. But it didn't matter, I had to save them. Had to save as many as I could. ..I couldn't save a single one, they were so far beneath the debris and it was so hot my fingers were beginning to melt as I tried lifting the metal beams and bricks. I could only sit there, on my knees and listened as they died” Isaac went silent and stood motionlessly, swaying slightly in the light breeze that was blowing through the street. Daniel looked him up and down and leant slightly closer, opening his mouth to speak but not really want to interrupt the robot in his memory.

“I just sat there.. for a month. Before I finally stood back up and walked East. I replaced what of my damaged parts I could from broken down robots I found throughout the city and covered myself in clothes and continued East. The direction everyone had been heading ever since this horrible virus entered the country. I entered Jersey City the same week Protocol-U5 was initiated. Barely anyone was alive in the city, the roads clogged with bodies, I watched from the rooftops as the people on Manhattan panicked and ran to the United Arms buildings as the sirens sounded.”

“How have you managed to survive this long?”

“We're made of a plastic polymer and carbon fibre.. it'd take a million years for me to rot away.. Solar power and being able to turn air moisture into power means I can keep running pretty much forever... my body and that of my brothers will still litter the surface when the sun super novas and engulfs this planet.”

“And becoming a merchant?”

“Yes. Four hundred and eighty years ago. I think I was the first to actually think of using sails on a boat, up until then everyone had gone back to using oars and rowing. It was originally just me going out and finding old computer parts for the newly formed Termini Republic” The robot said, seemingly much calmer now “But then I had to start going further afield until I had to start going to the mainland. So I got a ship, and eventually with that a crew and the amount I traded grew greatly” The robot took a few steps back along the bus,turning his head and looking down the street to their side.

“We're on the intersection for 55th by the way..”

The water slowly disappeared as the road sloped up slightly and they had to begin walking around the cars and abandoned vehicles again through the tall grass and around the numerous trees, these though reaching no where near the rooftops of the mid-town skyscrapers. Fancy restaurants and theatre and club entrances lined the street as well as the front of a couple of TV studios, a news van on its side blocking the way at one point and making them cross through the darkened buildings, Isaac being very quiet now.

They came back out onto the street and a tall white building with columns of glassless windows 'United Arms' in red letters on a sign that ran across the front of the second story. Daniel walked ahead of the robot and across the street, the ruined reception area stretching out in front on the first floor. Curved plastic benches and burnt out flat screen monitors lined the walls leading down to a series of three long desks with various monitors and charts on them, the giant UA logo on the wall behind. Isaac followed slowly behind, looking around with the same uneasiness as Daniel as they continued past the receptionist area to the the stairwell the other side. The view up and down it was identical to that from the building he woke up in, an endless staircase fading off into the darkness in either direction.

“Are we going up?” Isaac asked, looking both ways and shuddering slightly as he looked down

“No.. down. Last one had nothing useful at the top. So let's see the bottom.”

“After you then”

Daniel opened his satchel and pulled out the Bulldog SMG, handing it to Isaac who looked down at it then back up to him.

“Just in case..” He said, gripping the AR-34 and beginning to descent down the steps.

Five minutes later and maybe sixty floors lower they came to a stop, the next sections of steps collapsed away and left a huge chasm to the next storey. They turned round and had to go through the door at whatever level they were at, coming out into a sparkling clean white corridor where all the walls smoothly curved into the floor and ceiling no hard edges visible and not a speck of dust or dirt to be found anywhere. Daniel strained to see through the darkness but Isaac could see just fine, taking the lead and slowly creeping through the the corridors, almost every door leading off into a new area electronically sealed shut.

“I really don't like this place..” The robot said quietly, stopping at a T-section in the corridor “And that's not a feeling I get often” He looked down either of the two new corridors before Daniel pointed to the left one and they continued. Isaac looked to the wall and saw the word maintenance with a cyan coloured line running below it down another corridor and pointed to it and looked to Daniel and nodded. They followed the line through the dark winding corridors until they came to a closed metal door, pressing the buttons beside it proving no use. Daniel brushed Isaac to the side and shouldered the AR-34, aiming at the door and squeezing the trigger as the rifle burst into life and tore the door to shreds, lighting up the whole corridor for a split second with each shot, destroying the tense silence that filled the underground facility a moment ago. Daniel put his hand on the pot-holed door and pushed it slightly, the whole thing falling back and smashing against the floor with a loud clang. He and the robot walked inside, a series of huge generators inside and maybe a hundred storage closets for cleaning equipment and repairing tools. Not a single one there though. Isaac fiddled with the generators for a minute before finally managed to find out how to power them on. The whole floor thundered into life as they whirred into power and the lights flickered on and the sound of soft music played out from small speakers along the corridors.

Walking back out into the corridor it looked like the place hadn't changed in the slightest since 2050, they followed the cyan line back to where they came from and began slowly working their way through the rooms, most of them empty, looking like some kind of laboratories. Daniel stopped in one, a series of clear plastic cages at the back, a skeleton in each one in the fetal position. Picking up the chart beside the cages flicking through the pages each of the people inside had Chinese sounding names. Passing through to the next room there were more cages, these were empty though and the tables filled with empty flasks and beakers. Isaac reappeared from another room and stood beside Daniel as he flicked through a bunch of papers.

“I think this is where they tried to find the vaccine..”

Daniel nodded in agreement, putting the papers back down and looking around the hauntingly sterile and clean place. They both continued on into another room, half the room behind a thick glass wall, the white plastic wall just beyond covered in hundreds of trays, in each a series of beakers still with some clear liquid inside. Daniel picked up a red-cover booklet on the table in front of the glass, flicking through it and stopping on one page.

The following is for personnel with level 1 or 2 clearance.

If you are below this clearance level hand this booklet to someone of the appropriate

clearance level immediately. Failure to do will result in the immediate lose

of your job and prosecution to the fullest extend of the law for breach of

sensitive information.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The current project assigned to the 22nd Biological Corps

is a contract from a joint-venture

between United Arms, members of the Senate and the Pentagon.

We are assigned to create a weapon to cripple

the People's Republic of China and allow the US

and UA forces to seize valuable Chinese resources without

needing to engage in combat. A vaccine and cure must also

be created and ensured thoroughly that they can successfully

eradicate all traces of the weapon once it's use has


The weapon should be mixing elements of Ebola and

various kinds of Cancer. It should be transmittable through air, water

and bodily fluids – blood, saliva. And once a person is infected

take a week to two weeks to finally reach death to

allow them a chance to spread it on. It should exhibit flu

like symptoms in the first days. Followed by intense

migraines and painful rashes across the body.

And eventually slowly destroy every

cell in a person's body and liquefy his or her vital organs.

Effectively making it impossible for them to eat, see,

hear or speak as they will bleed severely from every


The weapon will first be released in a major population centre

most likely Shanghai or Beijing and-

Daniel immediately dropped the booklet upon realising just what he was reading, quickly looking around the lab again and his face going pale. Isaac looked to him then down to the paper, reading the entire page in half a second and going very still.

“I think we should get out of here right now...” Daniel said quickly, his voice trembling, glancing to the trays of beakers behind the glass wall again. The robot didn't respond, his head still pointing down towards the paper. Daniel tugged at his coat sleeve and tried to pull him along but the robot wouldn't budge or make a sound. He slowly and unnervingly rotated his head round and -looked- straight to Daniel before letting out an ear piercing mechanical scream and slammed his hands down against the laboratory table which crumbled and dented inwards as if someone just hit it with a sledgehammer.

Daniel let go of the robot's coat and sprinted out of the door of the room, trying to find the door to the corridor as he could hear Isaac beginning to smash everything back in the other room – fearing he may break the glass separating them from what could be the virus. He found the door to the corridor and went to run through when he stopped a let out a yelp as a robot stood in the door, mistaking it for Isaac at first. But this had no clothes on, it was still completely white except for United Arms Maintenance written down the side of its torso in red. It looked to the new person, tilting its head slightly and holding a mop and bucket in its hands.

“Please move to one side sir. Unclean work area detected in -Level 65 -biological laboratory 12B-” He said in a monotone voice and continued to stand there until Daniel took a step back and it hurried past and into the room where Isaac was. A moment later the robot flew back out of the room in about five different pieces and smashed against the wall and sparked and jerked uncontrollably. Daniel hurried through the door and looked down either way of the corridor, unable to remember the way in and just picking one and sprinting down it as fast as he could, the sound of the robot going berserk still audible after a minute. He passed another group of robots all running past in the other direction all holding cleaning equipment and various spanners and repairing apparatus – certainly explaining how this place was so clean after all this time as they had seemed stuck down here constantly keeping the place running and in perfect condition.

After another four minutes of running in circles he spied an exit sign along one of the walls and followed the coloured line along the wall quickly, reaching the stairwell again. He looked up to the surface, not caring how far away it was as he grabbed the stair railing and climbed them as fast as his legs could take him. Back into the darkness and only the sound of his footsteps and heavy panting to accompany him as he climbed the steps. He reached the top in half the time it took to reach the bottom and ran back out into the receptionist area, grinding to a halt and falling back as another robot stood in front of him. It was wearing the same clothes as Isaac but stood completely still, its hands behind it's back as it slowly turned it's head down towards Daniel.

“Isaac?” He gasped, still out of breath.

“I have calmed.” The robot said slowly,taking a hand from behind his back and extending it to Daniel.

“But.. you were just.. how did..” He asked bemused, cautiously taking Isaac's hand and standing up.

“Elevator. Generator brought it back. I made sure no one could reach that floor again though. Now Let us leave this place and never return” He turned and walked out of the of the building back onto the street and off down the street. Daniel quickly ran and caught up, walking beside him and carefully taking the Bulldog SMG that was still in the robot's other hand and putting it back into his satchel.

They continued down 55th street for another minute, circling round cars and trees and passing through the half destroyed 'mid-town centre', the top half of the building haven collapsed into the street and they had to clamber through it the side-ways building.

“Isaac.. I'm sorry.”

“Why... there's no need for you to be. You just worked for them.. you didn't do that. Please, just be quiet... we're on Park Avenue now, the Termini building is just down here”

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