Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fence Jumpers: Part 45

(Image courtesy of Pinterest.)

Wes watched Conway and the other Coyotes and Jumpers carefully. He and Tag had already had to prevent two of the Coyotes from clobbering Conway's head in. The Jumpers just looked confused, then alarmed when Conway summarized his story. Everyone protested when Wes proposed their next plan.

Wes began to wonder if this was how Skyler felt, being in charge. Or at least feeling like it. A lot of pressure and weight went with every action or word. Tag was probably older than Wes, but their group looked to Wes for the next step. Wes hated it, but what choice did he have? It had been his grand idea to go back, so he had to follow through. It didn't make being relied upon to make the decisions any easier, but it helped that Tag took some of the load too. Even Grace helped. Wes and Tag were the motivational ones. Grace was the soothing presence. She came with a side of kick-butt attitude, but still.

"So we just follow him in?!" A Coyote said. "What if it's a trap?"

"But what if it's not?" Wes countered. "Guys, Conway has been your leader for ages. Yeah, he's a lying jerk, but why would he come back, alone, if he wasn't telling the truth?"

"Uhh, to lure us in?"

"Wouldn't it be easier to pick us off out here than hunt for us in the city?" Wes replied, trying to stay calm. "I'm not saying let's all jump in and trust him again--"

"I'm right here, you know."

"Shut up. Anyways, I'm not saying that, I'm saying he's got our best bet at getting us in." Wes looked at Conway. "Alright, time for some details on this plan."

"Getting in through the front will be best," Conway said. "I can swipe some security passes for you to get you down below."

"What about that secret entrance Horatio has?"

"Yeah, you don't want to do that. He's got cameras on that place. One sight of anybody not a guard and he knows. Through the front, we can trickle in, or pretend to be a school group. Those are always coming in. But we'll want to move fast. Some of us take the stairs, and others take the special elevator."

"Won't they shut down the elevator?"

"Pffth, have you not met Darcy?" Conway grinned. "She's gonna be key here. Have her make the power flash or go dark for a few minutes while you guys are in there. The guards will probably be looking for incoming threats while the place is vulnerable, not threats already inside."

"So what do we do when we're in the lab?"

"We get them out of there."

At their rendezvous with the others, Wes relayed this new plan. Kate looked as cold as one of her knives and said nothing. Darcy only nodded, looking less excited than Wes expected. Conway had gone ahead to fetch them their passes, but when he came back, his face was pale.

"What?" Wes asked immediately. "What's wrong?"

"We have a bit of a problem," Conway said, his voice was small and quiet.

"What?!"

Conway started to speak, but Kate marched over and slapped him. Wes cried out in alarm and jumped forward, but Tag beat him to it and pulled her back.

"Kate, this is a really bad time!" Wes hissed. "We can pick fights later!"

Kate glared at Conway, but said nothing. Conway righted himself, touching his cheek gingerly. "My uncle has unveiled the cyborgs."

Wes stared at him. "What do you mean, unveiled?"

"He's gone public," Conway said. "Just now on the news. He's introduced them as this city's next generation of security. He even hinted at going out to the entire province."

"How did the public take it?" Wes asked, incredulous.

"No riots in the streets." Conway shrugged. "At least not yet. The cyborgs in the streets might have put a damper on any uprising."

"They're already out?!"

"If it seems inefficient to wait for anything, my uncle won't wait. I saw at least five on my way back here."

"Skyler and Hannah…?"

"They're not cyborgs," Conway assured him. "I texted Claire, who said our uncle was going to wait for their processing until he was sure they were ready for it. And, he's angry with Skyler…"

"He's going to torture them." Wes paled. He felt sick at the idea of Hannah being hurt.

Conway nodded. "But not to the point of crippling them. They've got a blood type he needs, so he wants them--"

"Back up. Blood type?"

"I'll explain on the way. We're wasting time here." Conway looked at the others. "You found everyone…?"

"Yeah." Wes nodded. "All the Jumpers, and all of your Coyotes. Not one left behind. Except Skyler and Hannah…"

"That's not your fault, Wes," Conway said. "Don't do that to yourself. Focus on getting them out. We need to work fast and hit hard."

***

Skyler, between the occasional throbs of pain, had watched the cyborg unveiling with horror on a screen in the corner. He had seen cyborgs only once before, long ago. And today they still looked as repulsive as they had then, but the skin wasn't inflamed. The transition between flesh and metal looked cleaner, smoother. It was still sickening, but Skyler couldn't deny they looked brutal and powerful. Many had Hayes' guns equipped in place of hands.

That's when Skyler learned about the master button.

He had been fighting back a wave of pain (Horatio had "neglected" to give him something to relieve the pain) when Hannah called his attention to the screen. A reporter had just asked what plans were in place if the cyborgs became uncontrollable, like a technical bug.

"We have every precaution in place," Horatio said. "But in cases of extreme emergencies, I have a device that, when pressed, will shut down the cyborgs immediately."

Skyler tried to think about this. A master button. It could shut down the cyborgs.

"We need that," he gasped. Even talking hurt. Hannah looked at him sadly.

"Take it easy," she said. "We need to get out of here first and get you that pain killer stuff."

"Screw the pain killer." Skyler pulled at the restraints. "I'll be fine. We need that button." He had to stop frequently with each small wave of pain. They worked at it for a long time, but got nowhere.

Skyler yelled in frustration, slamming his head back against the stiff hospital bed mattress. Hannah looked at him. "Breathe, little brother. We're gonna be okay."

"No we won't, Hannah!" Skyler snapped. "We're trapped here! We have no way out, and no way of telling the others where we are! We don't even know if they got away!"

"Don't talk like that." Hannah shook her head. "We can't give up so soon, Skyler."

Skyler glared at the ceiling. Hannah went on. "We have to have hope. We got a lot of them out before we were seen. Skyler, we got our friends out of there. After two years of searching, we did it. You did it." She watched him. "Don't give up now. My little brother would never give up."

Skyler kept silent. He swallowed and looked at her. "I'm really scared, Hannah…"

"I am too." Hannah nodded. "But what will a little hope hurt? You have a lot of it, even though you try to hide it, or call it determination. It's still hope. You're optimistic, so start acting like it."

Skyler nodded and looked around the room. "Well, short of scooting these beds out to the hall, we could break our wrists--"

"Okay, let's not confuse hope with desperation just yet."

***

Horatio watched, pride and pleasure swelling in his chest, as his cyborgs took up their positions in the streets. They were glorious: powerful, intimidating, ready for action, easily controlled. Simply glorious. He was eager to begin his conquest, but he knew he needed to take it a step at a time. There was no rush. The cyborgs had been received fairly well. They would stand and be available to the public to view and grow accustomed to. He had only released the cyborgs made of the homeless or orphaned, so there was little to no fear of them being recognized. After that, perhaps a week or two, Horatio would begin. He would slowly work his way outward. He would get what he wanted.

This time, there was no Skyler Pelton to stand in his way. Not even the Fence Jumpers and their new friends could stop him now. The Peltons would be at the head of his conquest.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fence Jumpers: Part 44

(Image courtesy of Pinterest. Bonus: It's a Gif! ;) I didn't expect it to remain a gif after I'd saved it, but oh well!)

Wes only realized Skyler and Hannah were missing by the time they were out of the old sector, sheltering in the forest. He bit back a curse and turned back when he made sure they weren't among the others. Kip grabbed his arm.

"Let go!" Wes glared at him, "They're still back there!"

"If you go back you'll be caught too," Kip said. Wes tried to pull back, refusing to let his panic take control. "Wes, stop it! There's noth--"

"Skyler would have gone back for any of us!" Wes shouted. "He would have gone back for you, me, or anyone else here!"

Kip frowned. Wes looked around, seeing everyone watching them. "I'm going back. No one has to come--"

"Oh shut up." Grace stepped forward, Tag behind her. "We're going with you."

"Can't leave family behind when they worked so hard not to leave us," Allison said. "That's not how we do things. Aggie wouldn't want us to leave them…"

Wes felt his heart jerk a little. He had completely forgotten about Aggie, and it left a guilty feeling in his gut. Allison had lost her sister. He nodded, then looked at Kip. "You in?"

"Of course," Kip said. "Let's go fetch them home. They have parents waiting."

***

Skyler couldn't move. He winced and tried to pull his limbs to him, but they were held in place. Skyler moaned and blinked awake, blinded temporarily by white lights overhead.

"Skyler?"

He turned his head. Slowly things came into focus, and he saw Hannah beside him, strapped to a hospital bed. His mind snapped into focus.

"Hannah?!" Skyler looked around in panic. "Where are we?!"

"Easy, easy!" Hannah said. Skyler tried to relax. He took a slow breath, looking around. He was  back in the room where he had been put before with Grace. He recognized nearly everything.

"You've been asleep for a while," Hannah said. "We've been in here for about an hour now. No one's come."

"We have to get out of here." Skyler strained at the straps. He jumped when the door slid open and Horatio walked in. Skyler stiffened.

"Here we are again." Horatio smiled. "I've been quite eager to see you again, Mr. Pelton."

"What do you want?" Skyler glared.

"Oh, where to begin." Horatio walked around behind them. Skyler strained to keep an eye on him. "Well, I'm sure you both know I have been busy with my little project. We have made quite a few improvements, one of which has been Mr. Osborne Hayes' addition of indestructible firearms."

"Yeah, they're pretty nice," Skyler said, "I held someone at a laboratory at gunpoint with one."

"Did you indeed?" Horatio asked. "While you were busy making this?" Horatio stepped into view and held up the vial. Hannah gasped. Skyler jerked his arm to get it, but the straps held. Horatio smiled and looked at the vial. "A curious little object. What's it for?"

Neither spoke. Horatio held it up to the light. "Did you have the people at the lab make it for you? Surely you and your gang of brats were too incompetent to do it on your own."

"We can be pretty resourceful." Skyler tried to shrug. "But of course you know that."

"All too well." Horatio looked at him. "Is there any more of this?"

"Maybe."

"Where?"

"I said maybe."

Horatio sighed, walking behind them again. With relief, Skyler heard the soft clink of the vial being set down. "So, why did you want us?"

"You and your sister have something I need," Horatio said. "I did not realize it when you and I first met, Skyler, but later I discovered your blood had… properties, unlike any other. Your sister proved the same, and I need this for my cyborgs."

"What's so special about our blood?" Hannah asked.

"Your blood type is ZA," Horatio explained. "I have done my own research, and this type can give me greater control over my cyborgs. A queen bee, for example. Tests run on the cyborgs show they have… human tendencies--"

"No!" Skyler feigned a gasp. "Human beings you've kidnapped and mutilated show human tendencies?!"

"Skyler." Hannah looked at him.

"Yes, Skyler," Horatio's tone was still very calm. "Things might trigger them to be more human, to disobey or ignore orders. With your blood, I can convey orders through you, which will send a more forceful command to them. I wouldn't expect you to understand the little details, so why don't we move on to where we test how potent your blood is?"

"How?" Skyler shifted uneasily. "Make us cyborgs?"

"Oh, no, not yet," Horatio said. "I have read up on this blood type, my boy, but rarely have people been able to study it up close. I am a man of science. I am not going to let this opportunity go to waste. We will see what will happen."

Horatio reappeared, holding a syringe, and walked over to Hannah. Skyler jerked against the straps.

"No!" He yelled. "Don't touch her! No!"

"Hush." Horatio cleaned the crook of Hannah's arm. Hannah tried to pull away as the needle slid in and depressed the plunger. "It may not even hurt. Or it will hurt very much."

"No!" Panic shot through Skyler. "No, no! Please, Horatio, don't! Please--"

Hannah screamed.

"No!" Skyler thrashed. "Leave her alone!"

Horatio watched Hannah as she screamed and writhed. Her back arched as tears rolled down her cheeks. Skyler tried to pull free. "What did you do to her?!"

"I tested a special serum. Usually I use it for the cyborgs to activate a part of the brain that I use to relay commands. I needed to make sure it is still compatible, and I see it is not." Horatio injected another fluid into Hannah, and she relaxed, gasping. Horatio walked over to Skyler. "But just to make sure."

"No, no." Skyler stiffened as Horatio cleaned a spot on his arm. "No, no, don't. Don't. Please."

"That sass you had earlier seems to have gone away." Horatio smiled. "Maybe this will ensure it stays away."

"Don't hurt him," Hannah begged.

Skyler grimaced as the needle went in. He watched helplessly as the plunger was pressed. "Don't, please. Please, no--"

Searing pain slid through him. Skyler gasped, but then bit his lip to keep from screaming.

Then Horatio injected a little more. Hannah screamed, but hers was drowned out by Skyler's scream. The pain was running rampant, like fire. Skyler thrashed, trapped and screaming. The pain made it hard to breathe, like it took energy from oxygen. No matter what he did, it crushed his defenses.

"Please stop!" Hannah begged. "Don't hurt him!"

Skyler wasn't sure how much time had passed, but eventually the pain subsided just a little. Skyler lay gasping, watching as Horatio preparing another syringe.

"Please, please," Skyler panted. "Don't."

"You've brought this on yourself, Skyler." Horatio injected more of the fluid. "You have caused me a lot of trouble. This won't kill you, but I intend to repay you for what you've done."

"No, no, no, no." Skyler could feel the pain roaring back to life. "Please, no--" his next words were cut off by his scream.

****

Wes had had to split everyone up into smaller groups as they made their way through the old sector. There were just too many of them. But Wes was counting on their numbers being an advantage. They had firepower, too.

Even still, Wes didn't like their odds. He took his group on a detour back into Fred's neighborhood, making sure every lady among them was near a guy. Fred's "buddies" may have been helpful, but that didn't mean Wes trusted them.

Wes trotted up to Craig's disgusting trailer home and pounded on the door. Craig, he knew, had been the one Fred went to when he was in trouble. Wes had seen the guy come around Fred's place often enough to know Craig was payed to keep people off Fred's back. He would be their best shot at getting some help.

"Didn't take ya long to come back," Craig said, scratching his neck. He surveyed the small group of assorted Jumpers and Coyotes. "Don't remember some of those faces."

"We rescued our friends," Wes explained impatiently. "But Skyler and Hannah were caught. We need your help again."

"I can see that." Craig leaned against the doorframe. "What're you payin'?"

"Nothing," Wes barely kept his tone even. "I don't give a twig if you help or not. But if I recall, we did get your man out of that facility, the one we sent in to spy. You kind of owe us. We could have left him there. I gave him directions to high-tail it out."

Craig considered this. "Seems more like you owe me, kid. Coulda well left you to your own devices and not given you any help at all."

"Could've, sure." Wes shrugged. "But I can see we're not getting anywhere. We'll be on our way and not take up any of your precious time lazing around when you could have had the chance to help out Fred." He headed back to the others.

"Hold on." Craig clamped a hand over his shoulder to twist him back around. "You didn't say anything about helping him."

"Well." Wes played his turn carefully. "We're going to rescue our friends, that includes shutting down the mayor. This, of course, could help out Fred. With Horatio gone, We could get Fred out of prison. He's helped us loads, so that's gotta look good on a record, right? Same for you, I'd bet."

"You sure?"

"Not one-hundred percent, but pretty close."

"How many of these punk kids you got?"

"Fair amount, I'd say a little over a hundred."

Craig whistled. "Why d'you need help?"

"In case Horatio decides to make a cyborg debut," Wes replied. "You know some the toughest guys around here. They're not afraid to get violent. We're just kids who wouldn't even be out of high school yet."

Craig nodded, mulling this over. "How many d'ya need?"

"How many want to take down the mayor?"

Craig grinned. "I like you, kid. Fred raised you right. I'll see what I can do. Where're you all headed?"

"Somewhere around City Hall, but we might be using a different entrance. You can still take the front door, though, making a distraction."

With assurance that Craig would gather whoever he could and head that way, Wes left with his group. When they were nearly to the inner city, Tag made them stop.

"What's up?" Wes asked. Tag scanned around.

"Everyone find cover," Tag said quietly. Wes motioned to them to start moving, and they scattered. Tag moved forward to the intersection they had been approaching. Wes followed behind. Someone was traveling down the road to their right.

"It's just me…"

It took Wes only a second or two to recognize the voice, and Tag a second later. He grabbed Wes before Wes could attack Conway.

"Where are they?!" Wes demanded as Conway stepped into full view. Tag restrained him. "Let go!"

"Listen to me!" Conway said. "I want to help. I can get you guys into City Hall."

"Why should we believe you?!" Wes snapped.

"Because my uncle has Skyler and Hannah in his underground lab," Conway said. "He's going to turn them into cyborgs."