Before Sam and Doug was a beautiful silver-gloss-painted car. It was slick, with smooth curves and tinted windows. It had side skirts and a hood with a vent on it. The tires were thin and the rims, shiny with a metallic blue glow coming from them. The car looked like a combination or a 1967 Ford Shelby Mustang; a Chevrolet Camaro and a Dodge Charger. It looked like it was designed to be the best muscle car on the planet while at the same time look as slick as a super car.
“How do they even have this?” said Sam.
“I know, right,” said Doug
“This shouldn’t even exist.”
Then somebody appeared through the whole in the wall they’d made. “You’re absolutely right. But then again, neither should you.” The person stepped out of the shadows. It was Ripley... and she looked angry.
“Ripley,” said Sam, surprised.
Ripley didn’t reply immediately, but instead just looked at both of them with piercing eyes, and with her arms crossed. “What the hell do you guys think you’re doing?”
Sam looked at Doug before looking back at Ripley. “Look Ripley, I can explain.”
“Don’t bother. I think it would be better if I just take you in to the Captain.”
“Wait a minute—” started Doug.
“Don’t you dare!” Ripley was livid. “You stole from me. How dare you try to explain your way out of this?”
“We just wanted to know what you had in the armoury.” said Sam.
“You could have just asked, Sam.” She sounded less upset with Sam.
“Look, if we are who you say we are, then we didn’t think it would be such a big deal.”
Ripley wanted to say something, but she held back. It was as if she saw something in Sam’s eyes that made her do a double take. It was like she knew something... something about his future self that just made his words meaningful.
“Ripley,” said Doug sympathetically. To Sam’s surprise, Ripley didn’t shout. “I took something that belonged to you. I was wrong and I’m sorry.”
Ripley had still been looking at Sam when Doug spoke. She looked at him and lightly nodded. “You want to know what weapons we have... fine, then I’ll tell you. But first, we need to fix that hole.”
ONE HOUR LATER
November 7th, 2040 – 23:34
In an effort to keep Sam and Doug from getting into any more trouble, Ripley had taken the time to log the time into the entry book that allowed her and her guests entry into the armoury. They only did this after putting the panel back into the wall.
“So this where we keep the vehicular weapons.”
“You mean the Hummers?” said Doug.
“Yes. But we also have assault vehicles.”
“Tanks.” They walked past the last row, which was when Sam and Doug saw them. They looked like a combination of the bat-mobile and something out of Transformers. “Now these are strictly used for entry into the Bionic Hemisphere. They are taken there only when there are specific battles that are going to take place.”
“Can I ask you a question?” said Doug.
“You don’t have to ask to ask a question.”
“If the tanks are specifically for entering the Bionic Hemisphere, then why did you come in a Hummer?”
“That was different.”
“That was extraction. Extraction is always different. For that, we need to be fast and we can limit our weapons to gain that speed. As for the tanks, we cannot afford to sacrifice any ammunition. The weight of the battle depends on it.”
Doug stepped closer to it. “How do you operate it?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“What happens if one day, the weight of the world falls on the fact that I need to be able to operate one of these things?”
“I doubt that would happen,” said Sam, smiling.
“Oh yeah, like all five of us doubted that it was possible to be able to travel through time? Yet here we are... in the year 2040.” Doug shrugged his shoulders, smiling.
“Okay,” said Ripley. “Hop inside.”
“Really?” said Doug, already jumping on to it.
“Sure. But let me tell you this, if you switch it on and try to operate it, I’ll will make sure that you’re not able to walk for the next week.”
When they were inside, Doug and Sam saw a series of buttons and knobs that made the cockpit from Knight Rider look like child’s play.
“Now basically,” said Ripley, “it operates like a normal car accept that, well... it’s much cooler. There are no foot pedals but rather levers.” She touched three levers. “Clutch, brake, throttle. You got it?”
“Yeah, I got it. What are all the buttons for?”
“The weapons. This vehicle has a range of them. The cockpit is separated into panels. Every panel is for a separate weapon. Every button on that panel operates the weapon in a different way.”
“And do you plan on teaching me, I mean us, those operations?” said Doug.
“You said you’d show us how to operate it.”
“And I did. I showed you how to drive it. But there’s a very specific programme for weapons training. Around here, I can’t just pick up a gun and tell you to pull the trigger.”
Doug reluctantly nodded his head. He noticed a big red button that wasn’t associated with any other panels on the cockpit. It had the letters AP branded on it. Next to it, was an arming switch. Doug leaned for the button. “What’s this do?”
“Don’t touch that!” Ripley quickly grabbed his arm and pulled it back.
“Ouch. What the hell!?” Doug shook out his wrist.
“What is that?” asked Sam. “Why did you almost break his arm just for touching it?”
Ripley sighed. “It’s the autopilot button.”
“Autopilot?” said Sam.
“Hold on,” said a gleaming Doug. “Are you saying that... this machine can move by itself?”
“No! Absolutely not. We kind of have a policy against A.I. around here for obvious reasons. No, the autopilot button simply allows the driver of the tank to drive it from outside the vicinity of the cockpit.”
“What for?” asked Sam.
“Well in case the tank needs to enter a place it’s most likely not coming out of. That’s also usually when we arm the grenade launcher to blow up the tank.”
“Okay, so how do you switch it on?” asked Doug. “I mean, do you have to be inside the tank or can you sort of switch it on by remote control?”
“You have to flip the switch first,” said Ripley who proceeded to do so. “Like this.” A second after the switch was flipped, the tank came to life as the engine turned over.
“What’s happening?” asked Sam.
“Looks like someone is online at the remote control.”
“Uh, which means what exactly?” said Doug.
“It means somebody is playing with the remote control. Everything that we can do, they can do... which right now is not a good thing considering that we’re still inside it, and it’s still inside the compound...”
FIVE MINUTES EARLIER
November 7th, 2040 – 23:34
“What exactly are we doing here, Selena?” asked a worried Sarah. “I’m pretty sure that we’re not supposed to be snooping around the... whatever this place is.”
“I’m pretty sure this is the mainframe room.” Selena was right. Right now, she and Sarah were in a hall that was full of shelves that contained what looked like huge CPU computer towers. It was where all their computers were plugged in.
Sarah rolled her eyes. “Oh great, so you’re also a computer nerd now.”
Selena let out a rare girlish giggle. “What do I look like to you, a teenage boy with pimples and glasses? No, it’s my Dad who was the computer whiz. I kinda swore off computers because of him.”
“Huh. Did you swear off fashion because of him to?” When Selena looked at Sarah, she gave Selena a smirk.
Seeing that Sarah was simply trying to make conversation, Selena didn’t snap. “What are you talking about? Goth is fashion.”
“Yeah, but not good fashion.” When Selena looked at her again, Sarah put her hands up. “No offence.” Sarah hadn’t meant to be talking about this in the first place but she couldn’t help herself. Whenever she was nervous she always started talking to calm herself down, and that usually meant speaking her mind to whoever happened to be around her at the time. Which was usually Isabel.
“Thanks for the tip,” said Selena. “But if it’s any consolation, I don’t think I’ll find any black eye-liner around here. I’ll be lucky if I’ll ever eat a pizza around here.” Selena stopped at one of the towers. She pulled out a paper and read something from it. She then folded it and pulled something out of the tower. It looked like a tablet sized PSP.
“Now what is that supposed to be?”
“Apparently, a remote control. I don’t suppose you ever dropped your Barbie dolls for a PS4?”
“Oh, I see.” said Sarah ignoring Selena’s sarcasm. “You know, Selena, you still haven’t told me what it is exactly that we’re doing down here?”
“I’m doing a favour for Eduardo.”
“Eduardo? The Latino Loner? What you speak Spanish now?” When she didn’t answer, Sarah asked another question. “What exactly did he ask you to do?”
Selena looked at her and then back at the remote control. “I’m not exactly supposed to tell you... then again I don’t exactly know. All I know is that it’s some kind of favour for Sommer.”
Sarah battled to understand what the hell she was talking about so she didn’t bother. “Okay, let’s assume that makes any sense . . . then tell me this, oh Princess of Darkness. How exactly did he know that you knew your way around computers?”
“That... is a good question.” Selena suddenly frowned. “Uh-oh. I don’t think this is the right one.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because according to the Heads-Up-Display, I’m moving a tank!” Selena quickly switched off the remote and put it back where she found it and picked up the one below it. “Yeah, this is the one.”
“Are you sure this time?”
“Yeah, I’m sure. Don’t worry Sarah... we’ll be out of here in a minute. This should be as easy as pie.”
A FEW SECONDS LATER
November 7th, 2040 – 23:34
Inside the tank, everything turned off to the surprise of Ripley. “Okay that’s new.”
“What happened?” asked Sam.
“It shut off.”
“Okay,” said Doug. “So what the hell was that? Because I thought for sure that we were about to get ejected as this thing transformed into a giant robot or something.”
“What that was,” said Ripley answering Doug’s original question, “was a sign... that it’s time for us to go.” Ripley took herself out of the tank and started for the door.
“Wait a minute,” said Doug. “Is that it? Is that the end of the tour?”
“Oh come on?”
“Doug’s right,” said Sam. “This can’t be it. We haven’t even seen the super-car yet.”
Ripley stopped in her tracks and turned around slowly. “What?”
“Yeah,” said Doug, “you know... the silver car you got stashed in the corner somewhere. Now how could that possibly be a weapon?”
Ripley smiled. “Okay boys. You want one last stop before the end of the grand tour... you’ve got it.”
Doug and Sam smiled at each other.
Ripley went over to a wall in the back of the armoury and flipped a switch. When the light came on, a shiny new car was right in front of them. It was the same car both Doug and Sam saw before being busted. She circled the car and ran a hand over the slick curves as if she was having a special moment.
When she finally came back around. She smiled at them. “Boys... Allow me to introduce to you... the Lullaby.”
“The Lullaby,” said Sam sarcastically. “Cute name.”
Ripley let out a giggle. “Well it ought to be... you named it.”
Sam and Doug’s jaw both dropped. “What,” they said in unison. Sam was shocked into silence after that. He couldn’t believe it. He circled the vehicle in the opposite direction to Ripley. He was trying to look for something that he’d recognise from building it but he didn’t. Of course he didn’t find anything... he hadn’t built it yet.
“So... how does it run?” Doug’s curiosity was at its maximum.
“Oh I wouldn’t know. I’ve never driven it.”
Doug’s eyebrows nearly hit the roof, he raised them so high. He then smirked. “Let me guess, because it scares the hell out of you?” He then elbowed Sam. “Bet she also lives her life a quarter-mile at a time.”
Ripley completely ignored Doug. “I’ve never driven it because I can’t.” She gestured at Sam. “When you built it, you used the Frequency so that it only accepted one driver and one operator. Only it can choose who drives it.” Ripley smirked, amused by something. “You always used to say that The Lullaby only allows those who are worthy to drive her.”
Doug’s own smirk grew broader. “A mystical bond between man and machine,” he said mostly to himself. “So,” he said looking back at Ripley, “does it have a mind of its own like KITT or is it a robot like Bumblebee?”
“I have no idea what you just said right there,” said Ripley. “What I know is that like The Frequency, there is something sentient inside this vehicle. That computer inside there, it’s alive.”
“Wait,” said Doug, “you consider the Frequency to be alive? I thought it was a radio wave.”
“It’s more like a computer program,” added Sam. “And considering the existence of a biomechanical artificial intelligence, that doesn’t sound far-fetched.”
“Wow,” said Doug. “I really am in a sci-fi movie. “So if Sam built it, does that mean he can drive it?”
“His future self, yes. I don’t know if it will recognise this Sam... a Sam who didn’t build her.”
“Wow that’s complicated. Okay, how about something simpler... the engine,” continued Doug, “what kind of engine does it run on?”
Sam gave him a look. “Since when are you a grease monkey?”
He shrugged. “I’m a guy, what?”
Sam rolled his eyes.
“Anyway,” said Ripley, “you’re out of luck because I am a girl and I don’t know much about engines. What I can tell you is that it’s one of the fastest and deadliest assault weapons on the planet.”
Sam hadn’t heard a word that they were saying as Sam opened the driver’s door and sat in the driver’s seat. He looked for a keyhole and realized there wasn’t one. Instead, there was a small are on the dashboard big enough for a hand. Sam understood this to be the way the car started. He had to implore himself for the ingenuity of creating a vehicle no one but a selected individual could drive. While he had no way of knowing it would work, Sam decided to give it a shot and placed his hand gently on the dashboard. When the car came to life from his touch, Sam jumped.
The roar of the engine scared all three of them. While Ripley was startled but genuinely delighted, Doug was completely in awe of the sound of the engine. “God bless it, you got it to work. Sam, you got it to work.”
“I guess that makes me worthy, huh.”
“Don’t get cocky now. Just because you got it running doesn’t make it yours,” said Ripley.
“Huh.” Sam was grinning ear to ear. “But it does mean I get to take it on a test drive, right?”
Ripley returned the grin. “Don’t count on it, Sam... not in this life time.” She then walked away leaving them starring at the car.
SIX WEEKS LATER
December 21st, 2040 – 16: 42
It was a long walk down to the bio-test lab, but since Ripley had been a part of the Scientific Research and Development team, she didn’t mind it. She pushed the double doors open like she owned the place and went straight to the observation deck which – through bulletproof glass – overlooked the lab room. Down in the lab room, Sommer sat silently on the examination bench.
“Ripley.” It was Selena who spoke. She was standing in the observation deck next to a worried Eduardo. “How’s it going?”
“Well. Sommer’s still waiting for her final test?”
“Yeah.” Selena had her arms crossed. She always did this when she was trying to be patient. As if wrapping her arms around herself actually slowed down time around her. “So, what brings you down here Sargent Trautman? I would have thought you’d be doing some, I don’t know... army thing, like you’ve been doing for the past month.”
“Gee, Selena,” said Ripley sarcastically, “is that your way of saying that you missed me?” Before Selena could answer the awkward question, Ripley continued. “Well I’m just looking for Sam and Doug. I wanted to ask them something. Where are they?”
Selena shrugged. “I don’t know. Knowing them, they’re probably in the shop... working on that super-car of theirs. You know... the one that’s supposed to be a secret.”
Ripley rolled her eyes. “They just can’t get enough of that thing can they?” She then turned around and pushed back past the double doors.