I hope you enjoyed the first snippet from The Prometheus Trap.
It ended on a little cliffhanger, so here's what happens next.
Their entrance had been undetected by the operators, so they turned towards Frankie and Gibson with looks of surprises on their faces after focusing on the exiles so intently.
‘What? Who the hell are you?’ the lead operator said.
‘We’re with the government, and this is an unauthorised raid, lower your weapons so we can get this resolved,’ Frankie asked.
‘Screw you,’ the lead operator said and went to raise his gun.
Frankie fired off a quick shot at him, hitting him cleanly and dropping him to the floor, dead with the single headshot. A couple of others were already moving, following their squad leaders actions and raising their guns. Frankie was ready for it though, and fired on them, with Gibson next to her doing the same. Calmly and methodically she shot three more of the squad before the rest raised their hands in surrender.
‘Anyone else want to argue the point?’ Frankie asked, sweeping her gun slowly over the gathered C-SWAT that were left alive.
Some of them shook their heads, but all of them looked sheepish.
‘Okay, let’s break this up,’ she sent to Gibson over the link she had with him. ‘We need to disarm these operators and sort this out before more Corporate forces arrive.’
‘Cover me, I’ll sort these guys out,’ Gibson answered her.
‘Copy that,’ she said to him and hung back as he moved up and started to disarm the operators one at a time, moving their guns a few meters away. Once it was clear they had the upper hand and were no longer in danger of being shot, Frankie moved forward and walked up to the exiles, crouching down next to them. ‘Are you okay?’ she asked. They all looked shaken and scared, and some were looking over at their dead friend. A couple of the people here were clearly distraught.
‘I suppose so. I mean, thanks for saving us. Who are you?’ asked a man who she guessed to be in his thirties maybe. He looked just as shaken up as the rest of them and wore similarly old and ragged clothes, but he had a look in his eye that spoke of resistance and strength.
‘That’s not important, but we work with the security services. Are there any more of you around here?’
‘I don’t think so, I believe this is all that’s left. Look, we just wanted to send a message to the Corps, you know, to show them how much they’ve hurt us?’
‘It’s okay, I understand. Look, you’re free to go, you’ve done nothing wrong,’ she said, suddenly hearing approaching footsteps.
‘Nothing wrong?’ asked an indignant female voice from a short distance away.
Frankie turned around to see two more operators walking into the room from a side passage, with a dishevelled looking woman, sporting bruises and several cuts that had clearly been bleeding. The operators had their guns up, matching Frankie and Gibson who were aiming back at them.
‘What are you talking about?’ the woman continued. ‘They kidnapped and tortured me simply because I work for one of the Corporations, just like thousands of other people out there. I wanna know who they think they are? And why the hell are you protecting them? They’re the terrorists, they’re the criminals, you should be arresting them,’ she said.
Frankie stepped forward, listening to the woman’s rant, and sighed. It seemed that once again the exiles had taken things into their own hands. She got it, she understood, they felt aggrieved, they wanted revenge, they wanted payback, but this was not the way to do it. However, she sympathised with them, and she didn’t want them killed by Corporate operators or arrested and thrown into jail without having the chance of a more normal life again.
She’d dealt with this a few times now, and the one thing the Corporations didn’t want, was for their actions against the exiles to be made public.
‘Miss, I’m sorry,’ Frankie said. ‘I had no idea. So, I tell you what, I work for the government, so let’s bring the police down here, get these exiles and the Corporate operators to answer a few questions, find out what happened and maybe we can sort it out that way?’
‘Perfect, that sounds great,’ the woman said.
Frankie raised her eyebrows. She hadn’t expected that response. Generally, they buckled and agreed to walk away, but she’d said it now, so she’d need to double down on the suggestion while playing for time.
‘Um, Miss Reynolds,’ said the gruff voice of one of the operators stood next to her. ‘I’m afraid we can’t authorise that, we have strict instructions to bring you in without the authorities being involved.’
‘That’s ridiculous, I want these guys prosecuted, I want them arrested. They kidnapped me, does no one here understand that?’ she asked.
‘Of course, but that’s not part of our mission parameters, I’m sorry, I can’t authorise that,’ the operator continued.
‘Bullshit. If you won’t call them, I will,’ the woman barked.
‘Let’s not get hasty shall we,’ said a voice Frankie recognised from the direction of the entrance they had used to come in here.
Frankie turned and saw Wynter, the Psytech cyberneticist that once used to be one of Doctor Xenox’s students, striding in with five more operators surrounding her. Wynter wore her usual trouser suit, with her hair pulled tightly back into a bun, showing off the sub-dermal circuitry that crept around the edges of her face. Her black cybernetic eyes gleamed in the meagre light as she walked confidently into the room.
‘What do you… Oh, thank God, sir, I had no idea you were here,’ Miss Reynolds said.
‘God had nothing to do with it,’ Wynter said, deadpan.
‘Ur, okay, sure. Look, we need to call the authorities down here, like this woman suggested,’ she said, glancing over at Frankie as she spoke.
‘Shut up,’ Wynter barked, before turning to the two operators who had been with Miss Reynolds. ‘Lower your weapons, there’s no need for more violence today,’ she said.
The woman who had been kidnapped fell silent for a moment, a little shocked at the outburst. ‘Excuse me?’ she said after a second, but her voice was quiet and meek.
‘No authorities will be called here today. Instead, we’ll leave, take you back, and we’ll have a little talk about your personal security,’ she said, smiling. ‘Frankie, I apologise for the confusion, and please, lower your guns, you’re in no danger from us today. There’s a time and place for that kind of thing, don’t you think?’
Frankie did not like that comment, but she let it go and lowered her rifle, sensing no deception from her. The woman who had been kidnapped was clearly not happy though, and she went to speak again, to protest, but Wynter shut her down right away with just a single look.
‘Take her back to the flyer,’ Wynter said to the operators who were in here with her, leaving her and one remaining guard.
Frankie turned to the exiles, who were now either stood or still sat waiting to see if they were free to go.
‘Go on, get out of here, go and live your lives and stop trying to get revenge on the Corporations, you will always loose, and you will eventually end up dead. Leave the management of the Corps to the government and us. Got it?’ she asked.
The exiles mumbled their answers which were basically in the affirmative as they shuffled out of the room. Frankie watched them go before turning back to Wynter who was waiting patiently for her.
‘It’s impressive, watching you work, seeing Xenox’s masterpiece in action like that. I am enjoying following the reports we get of your missions. You have helped us against some of the worst excesses of the exiles since the liberation, but, don’t think that that in any way changes how we feel about you,’ she said, talking in low tones while walking towards and then around her.
Wynter was trying to intimidate her, to assert her authority over her, but Frankie just felt mild amusement about her efforts.
‘Wynter, I think you can assume I know better than that,’ Frankie said.
Wynter stopped circling her, coming to a halt right in front of her and smiled. ‘Good, then I shall bid you good day, I have work to do, as I’m sure you do too. Pass my regards onto Xenox for me, won’t you,’ she said as she started to walk away.
‘Of course,’ Frankie answered as she watched Wynter walk out. ‘Did you catch that?’ Frankie sent through the neural link with Xenox.
‘Of course, thanks. I never did like her,’ Xenox said.
‘Then why did you train her?’ Frankie asked.
‘It’s not like I had much of a choice you know,’ Xenox answered her. ‘I was assigned several promising engineers and scientists to train, she just happened to be the most successful, but also the most ruthless.’
‘Of course, I sometimes forget who we’re dealing with here. Anyway, she seems to have risen through the ranks since your departure.’
‘I’m not surprised, she was always ambitious. Her intensity used to scare me somewhat. Had I stayed at Psytech, she might have tried for my life one day,’ he said.
‘Really?’ Frankie asked. It sounded like an exaggeration to her.
‘I wouldn’t put it past her, that’s all I’ll say,’ he said.
‘If you say so. Okay, I think we’re done here, we’re on our way back,’ she said and led Gibson out of the complex.