Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 04 - "Tranz-D"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

"Beware NK-525..."

Category: Fantasy - Rating: R - Genres: Fantasy,Sci-fi - Published: 2008-10-18 - Updated: 2008-10-18 - 1026 words - Complete

Justin was at wit’s end.

No robo-guards had shown up to bust him, yet the mere memory of them kept him silent. The last thing he had seen moving was a group of those little cleaning droids, on their way to erase the last piece of evidence he could find that Max might still be alive. Though he was becoming more and more confident in his solitude in this area, his overall uncertainty kept him from dropping his guard entirely in spite of the monotony.

The automated security aside, there were less tangible— but more disturbing— things about this place that gave him the hoodoos. Underneath Paradise there was this maze that was bigger than anything he had ever seen. And all of these machines, but one thing bothered him still more.

Where are all the people?

Before he left the closet, he had cut one of the boxes open, just to see what was stored there, finding what he increasingly believed was the final proof of human presence: rolls of toilet paper. Undisturbed since only the gods knew when, most of the paper crumbled to powder even as he pulled the box open. As if it had been sitting there even longer than those two corpses.

He hadn’t thought much of it then, but now he turned it over in his head as he wandered around. He’d bet everything in that bag he stole from Slash that behind those myriad other doors he would find even more things that machines had no use for. Yet, aside from two eerie skeletons in a closet, there wasn’t a soul around.

Around the next corner Justin found a door unlike the others he had seen so far. Twice as wide as the others, and painted red, split down the middle. The sign above it was marked: ËMRJENSË RËZRVZ.

He tried not to flinch as he pressed the ÖPEN key. And of the UNLOK key lit up. Taking a risk, he fired up his staff and slashed down the middle. Another slash to the side cut out a nearly three-foot wedge.

The slice of door hit the floor with a monolithic boom, but at least it was open. Still, he jumped inside and listened for a long moment. When he heard no alarms, he relaxed a bit and turned his attention to the room itself.

Lights slowly winked on, revealing rows of locker-like compartments. Each one had a control keypad next to it, and the compartments were marked: STÄSIS STÖREJ ÜNIT. A transparent panel allowed him to see what was inside.

Bottles of water, and ration bars in the next one.

He was again taken aback when he tried to open one and the tiny readout next to it told him: DË-AKTIVÄT STÄSIS. Fearing more alarms, he pressed the off button, and the compartment popped open without incident. His sigh of relief was brief, though.

“Water!” Justin snatched one of the bottles out. Tore off the seal, opened the lid, and started chugging. Having not noticed until now just how thirsty he really was. He slammed the whole thing down in seconds. “Water!”

Popping open the compartment above, he started stuffing ration packs, and a couple water bottles, into his mine camp jumps, wishing he had clothes with pockets. But having no intention of stopping to eat until he could find another, unoccupied closet. This place was vast beyond his reckoning, but if there were more of these oases in this desert of steel, he would at least be able to survive down here for a long time.

And so would Max.

He opened a couple more compartments, just to see if they contained anything else besides ration bars—

A noise at the door froze him on the spot.

That strange, nameless fear returned as he slowly turned to see who (or what) was there. Justin could hear his own neck creak as he turned, and time seemed to slow down. With his luck, he somehow doubted that was Max. He winced at the sound of the other door grinding back on its own tracks, his hand clamping a water bottle in a white-knuckle grip.

“PREPARE FOR EXTERMINATION, INTRUDER!” a new digital voice thundered.

“Oh shit…”

That broke Justin’s paralysis, and he ducked around one of the shelves just in time to avoid a powerful energy beam right where his head would have been. The concentrated laser blast obliterated one of the panel covers. Then he heard tank-like tracks roll into the room.


Justin kept moving, trying to keep the compartments between himself and his automated adversary. So far he had yet to get a good look at this robot that claimed to be the dreaded NK-525, but he wasn’t so sure he wanted to see it. That harsh computerized voice and the two corpses in the closet were enough for him. He was playing hide-and-seek with this mechanical monstrosity, with limited cover and instant death if it got in one good shot.

Justin could feel the terror of those two poor souls’ final hours as the Enforcer stalked him among the compartments.

Then he remembered the bottle he was still clutching in his hand. In a stroke of desperate inspiration, he chucked it around another corner. A second later, he heard the tracks moving in the direction of that sound.

Justin seized his opportunity without hesitation, bolting for the door and dashing down the hall, not even daring to look back.

Realizing that its quarry had evaded it, NK-525 rolled for the door, super-laser recharged and primed to fire again.


Justin ducked around another corner before it could bring its lesser guns to bear on him. The Intruder had a head start, and could run faster than its tracks could carry it, but that didn’t matter. Its echo-location sensors— among others— ensured that the hunt was still very much on. One observation the Enforcer had made over the centuries was on its side.

That biologics, unlike machines, tired.
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