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Pscybotics Volume One: Episode 3 - No Place Like Home

After the impossible happens, five teenagers find themselves in the future where dangers lerk

36 HRS EARLIER 

October 9 th, 2040 04:45

‘What do you think, Rip? You think they’ll go for it?’

‘I don’t know!?’

‘But let’s be serious Rip. This is the military we’re talking about. They’re not going to commission a military plane to fly across the border. Not for the reason you’re telling them.’

‘The frequency is important. You know that better than anyone.’

‘Yeah, I know that, Rip. What I mean is . . . The real reason, you want to go!?’

Ripley rolled her eyes with a sigh. ‘You know that I can’t tell them that.’

‘What are you worried about credibility? If that’s the issue, I think it went a long time ago with all that frequency talk. I’m tellin’ you; they already think that you’re nuts.’

Brent was right. He was the only one who had faith in Ripley’s talk about the frequency. So much so that he was willing to go behind enemy lines for her. Ripley and Brent had been best friends since meeting at age twelve. Over the years they’d been through a lot. All of which led to Brent becoming Ripley’s operator. Although Brent never said anything, Ripley knew that, deep down, Brent was just a little bit in love with her.

Just then, the door to the command center opened, the Captain; the General and the President stepped out. Ripley and Brent stood up, awaiting the order. The tension was so high; it was a miracle neither of them fainted.

‘I’m sorry,’ said the General, ‘but the answer is no.’

‘May I ask a reason, sir?’

The President stepped forward. ‘I’ll tell you why. We cannot risk losing a team of soldiers, not to mention a military aircraft in the Droidan Hemisphere.’

Ripley clenched her jaw. ‘Permission to speak sir.’

‘Granted.’

‘If you can’t afford to send a team, then don’t send a team. We’ll do it ourselves.’

The General was the one who answered. ‘And who will fly the plane? Neither of you is a pilot.’

It was the Captain who spoke this time. ‘I’ll do it. I’ll fly them in and fly them out myself. Therefore eliminating any need for unnecessary casualties, sir.’

The President and the General shared a look of concern. They both looked at the Captain, then back at each other and nodded.

‘Alright then,’ said the President. ‘You’re a go. Just bring that plane back in one piece!’

‘Yes, Sir!’


PRESENT TIME

The plane was both noisy and loud at the same time. Sam and the others covered their ears as they got out of the Hummer. The only one who didn’t cover her ears, was Ripley as she ran up the stairs to the cockpit.

‘Captain,’ she greeted.

‘Glad to see you, alive soldier. Where’s Sergean t Turner?’

Ripley remembered Brent’s last breath after being shot. ‘He’s dead sir; died on route to the bridge.’

The Captain went silent for the moment. Ripley could see that the Captain was saddened. He must have seen a promising career in Brent’s life.

‘Okay,’ said the Captain continuing. ‘Soldier, you’ve just been promoted to Sergeant 1 st class.’

Ripley was taken by surprise. She had only recently joined the military. She’d wanted to join at fifteen like Brent, but was denied, the reason being some nonsense of an excuse about hormones or puberty or maturity or something. She could only enroll at the age of eighteen which meant Brent had made Sergeant 3 rd class – the lowest rank of Sergeant – by the time Ripley had enlisted.

‘Ah, can you do that, sir?’

The Captain looked at her. ‘I was a Captain, last time I checked. That means I can do pretty much what I damn well please when it comes to commanding soldiers.’

‘Understood Sir.’

Just then, a red light flashed on the dashboard of the cockpit accompanied by a siren whaling. The Captain pressed some buttons and swore.

‘Captain?’ inquired Ripley.

‘We have company.’

‘What, switch-blades?’

‘Yes.’

They were referring to the open cockpit jet plane-like vehicles that the pscybotics had developed for using in an air-borne battle. They were ruthless and punishing . . . and never missed their target.

‘Dammit. Turner was the only one here that could use the solar-glider.’

‘I can use it, Sir,’ said Ripley confidently.

The Captain looked at her skeptically. ‘You can?’

‘Yes, Sir. Brent taught me how. I can do this Sir.’

‘Well, I personally doubt it but right now, I don’t have the time to be right. Okay go out there and take them out. I’m trusting that you know what you’re doing Sergeant.’

‘I do Sir,’ said Ripley before exiting the cockpit and walking back down the stairs.

‘Don’t forget your safety line, Dammit!’ he shouted from behind the door.

‘Hey, what’s going on!?’ said Sam, over the sound of the siren.

‘Yeah, what’s all the noise about!?’ said Doug

‘Pscybotics are still after us.’

‘But we’re in the air!’ said Selena. ‘How is that possible!?’

‘Oh it’s possible,’ said Ripley pulling out what looked like a high-tech surfboard. She pointed at the cargo door which was opening again. ‘And you guys are going to have a front row seat to see it.’

‘Whoa, is it safe to do that!?’ said Selena.

‘Oh no, we’re gonna die!’ screamed Sarah.

For the first time since the jump, the Latino Loner spoke. He was praying in Spanish. Ripley looked over at him before kicking a hidden lever on the side of her board in the same fashion as kick-starting a motor cycle. The board hummed to life.

‘What is that thing!?’ asked Sam.

‘It’s called a solar-glider. Best way for air combat against the pscybotics.’ The glider started hovering above the ground. Ripley walked towards the open cargo door with the glider following next to her.

‘And how exactly does that work!?’ said Doug.

Ripley’s response was simply to tug at a cord which was attached to the ceiling of the plane. Outside, two small aircraft's appeared.

Sam noticed the open cockpits of the planes and how they were flying beyond humanly possible. They had to be pscybotics. Sam watched in horror as Ripley jumped on to the glider; “surfed” it out of the plane, with the cord in tow, and when she cleared the ramp dropped down out of sight!

*

24 HOURS EARLIER

October 9 th, 2040 16:50

The plane was currently flying over the “border” of the Droidan Hemisphere. Brent and Ripley sat in the cargo area of the plane.

‘You think she’s up for it?’ asked Brent. ‘You think the Hammer is up to the task at hand?’

Ripley smiled. ‘What, would you rather have brought the Lullaby?’

‘Actually yeah. I would have felt much more comfortable if we had the Lullaby with us.’

Ripley rolled her eyes.

‘What?’ said Brent. ‘She’s a beautiful machine.’

‘Well then, to answer your original question. Yes, I think the Hammer is definitely up for it, Sergeant Turner,’ said Ripley bumping a friendly shoulder against his.

Brent smiled and bumped his shoulder back. ‘You know what they say. A vehicle is only as good as it’s operator.’

‘Wow, a compliment. Thank you.’

‘What are you saying. I always compliment you.’

Ripley raised her eyebrows. ‘Huh, since when?’

‘Oh c’mon...’ said Brent with his hands raised. Brent thought about all the time he’d spent with Ripley. And the time he’d spent away from her when he joined the military. She knew that there was something more than friendship going on. And he knew that she knew. They were just both cowards not to admit how they felt.

‘Listen Rip, there’s . . . There’s something I want to tell you.’

Ripley could hear by the sound of his voice that this was important. ‘What is it?’

‘Well, I wanted to tell you . . . I just wanted to tell you how I . . . how I felt about you.’

Ripley remained silent.

Brent continued. ‘And I know that you feel the same way, we just won’t admit it.’

‘Brent—’ Ripley began.

Brent cut her off. ‘Look, we might die going into the Droidan Hemisphere so I just wanted us to be open with each other while we still can.’

Ripley touched his cheeks with the palm of her hand. ‘You’re not gonna die, Brent. I promise you.’

‘So does that mean you won’t tell me how you feel?’

Ripley was silent for a moment before she answered. ‘You know how I feel.’

Brent pulled his face closer to Ripley’s until her hands, still on his cheek, stopped him.

‘Then tell me,’ said Brent.

Ripley kept quiet again. This time, she moved Brent’s face closer to her with her hands. She moved them until their noses touched.

‘I’ll show you,’ she whispered before letting her lips brush against his.

They were rudely interrupted by a siren and the Captain on the P.A. system. ‘Sergeant Turner, report to the cockpit immediately.’

‘Looks like you’re up,’ said Ripley just louder than a whisper.

Brent ran up to the cockpit to talk to the captain. Ripley knew that siren all too well. It meant pscybotics were on to them. She also knew what the Captain was going to ask Brent to do. Over a minute later, Brent came racing down the stairs. Ripley was already preparing the solar-glider.

‘Looks like I’m going cloud skiing.’ Brent always used that line whenever he was about to use the glider.

‘Why do you always say that? Where does it even come from?’

‘There use to be this old cartoon that used to play before the war,’ said Brent continuing to prep. ‘It was called Tail Spin. Why I always say it is because one of the main characters used to jump out of the back of a cargo plane like we do, only they called it...’

‘... Cloud skiing,’ said Ripley finishing off Brent’s sentence. Brent had the cord in his hand. He was set to go. ‘Well, good luck!’

‘Thanks, I’m gonna need it.’

When the cargo door was open, Brent jumped on the glider and took off toward the incoming pscybotics.


PRESENT TIME 

Sam watched as the pscybotics charged towards the recently opened door. One of them was closing in on the plane, when Ripley suddenly glided up in front of it, sending the pscybotic spiraling out of view. She immediately glided towards the other one. She glided right up next to it, flanking it. The pscybotics evaded her like a professional aviator. It swooped left and right; ducking back and forth until Ripley flew overhead of it, taking her gun out with her free hand, and blowing the pscybotic’s head off as she completed her pass over.

Ripley was settling into a steady surf when the first pscybotic came back from out of nowhere and slammed into Ripley. Ripley was hit so hard, that had she not been holding on to her safety line, she would have definitely gone flying. But instead, Ripley recovered fast went straight for it. The pscybotic automatically dipped when Ripley was about to make contact. It appeared to Sam that Ripley had anticipated the pscybotic’s manoeuvre, and dropped something into its cockpit. It wasn’t until the pscybotic exploded that Sam understood that it was a grenade.

She then reeled herself back in, closing the cargo door behind her.

‘Okay now that,’ said Doug, ‘that, was cool!’

‘Tell me about it,’ added Sam at just a whisper. He got up and walked over to Ripley, who was packing up the solar-glider. ‘Hey. That was . . . something. I’m impressed.’

‘Yes well, you shouldn’t be,’ she said coldly. ‘It’s part of my job to fight pscybotics; even if it means risking my life.’

‘Well, you saved our lives again; even if it is just your job. For that, we are very grateful.’

Instead of giving him another cold answer, Ripley nodded in acknowledgement. She looked up towards the cockpit. ‘Let’s go home!’

*

12 HOURS EARLIER 

October 10 th, 2040 05:00

The plane touched down at the Pearson air-strip on the hour. They had successfully evaded the pscybotic’s switch-blades half a day ago. Brent was now in the driver’s seat of the Hammer, while Ripley was in the passenger seat. She put on the head set and switched on the touch screen. When it came to life, a voice spoke on the radio.

‘Come in, Hammer, come in.’ It was the Captain, testing the line.

Ripley pressed a button. ‘Operator!?’

‘You two have twelve hours to complete your mission. If you fail to do so by then, you will be left behind. Understood!?’

‘Understood Captain.’

‘Good luck Operator.’ The line was cut.

Brent reversed out of the plane and gunned the engine. They headed towards the torn apart city. They drove over rubble and broken and demolished buildings. Ripley engaged all the guns on the car in preparation for an attack of any kind.

‘Okay, all guns are locked and loaded, Sergeant.’

‘Thank you, Operator.’ Brent sighed. ‘Ripley?’

‘Yes, Brent?’ The seriousness of the situation was less tense whenever I called him by his name, rather than his rank.

‘We, ah . . . We never finished our previous conversation.’

Ripley knew exactly what he was talking about. ‘Really? We didn’t? I kinda thought that we did.’

‘How so?’

‘The point of the conversation was for us to . . . show what we felt for each other. And as I recall . . . we almost kissed.’ Ripley blushed at the word. ‘Unless of course . . . that’s what you were referring to?’ Ripley didn’t know if she was flirting or not.

Brent didn’t answer. But he also felt a blush coming from the reference to the kiss they almost had.

Ripley quickly changed the subject. ‘So why are we heading out now, anyway?’

‘Well,’ said Brent not angry for the change of subject, ‘your theory tells us where your friends are going to be, but it doesn’t tell us when, so I figure why not go out as soon as we get here.’

‘Okay, but where exactly are we going, now? I know we’re not going to the bridge.’

‘No. The President doesn’t feel that this trip would be productive. I think if we bring something back with us – other than your friends – they’ll be a little more grateful.’

‘As long as we don’t end up dead.’

Brent laughed. His laugh always made Ripley feel better about everything. The war; the military, it all seemed like nothing when Brent filled the room with his laughter.

‘Brent,’ said Ripley with enough seriousness to get Brent to look at him. ‘I’m glad you’re here . . . with me.’

‘Me too.’

Ripley felt that if this was going to be the last time they were going to be together if they died, then she owed it to herself to tell him how she felt. ‘Brent there’s something I want to tell you,’ she said looking down, not wanting to look him in the eye.

‘What is it?’ She could feel his eyes on her.

‘I think it’s only fair for me to tell you that I’m in lo...’ That was as much as she got out before she looked up and saw it. A pscybotic! ‘Brent, look out!’

By the time Brent saw it, it was already too late. The pscybotic hit the car so hard, and they jerked in their seats. Brent tried to throw the pscybotic off the car by swerving, but it didn’t have any effect. The pscybotic ended up on driver’s side-mirror.

‘Rip, shoot it!’

‘I’m trying to,’ she said tapping on the screen. ‘I can’t find the right weapon.’

‘Then use yours!’ Brent swerved the car again, which put the pscybotic on the step right next to Brent’s window. ‘Rip!’ was the last thing Brent shouted before the pscybotic punched straight through the window and knocked Brent unconscious.

‘Brent!’ she shouted still pulling her gun out.

When the pscybotic pulled its arm back out, Ripley fired her gun through the same hole that it had punched, killing it immediately. When she looked at Brent, she realised with horror that the pscybotic hadn’t knocked Brent unconscious . . . but had broken his neck!

*

PRESENT TIME

Many hours had passed, not that Sam could tell how many, but the plane had eventually touched down. Sarah and Selena had been quiet the rest of the trip, and the Latino Loner had suspended himself to praying in Spanish. Doug, on the other hand, was doing his best to make conversation with Sam. Sam knew that it was mostly because he was nervous, though Doug would never admit it.

When the plane finally came to a stop, Ripley came out of the cockpit followed by the Captain. The Captain went over to open the cargo door, while Ripley walked over to the group.

‘So . . . where are we?’ said Sam, asking the million dollar question.

‘We’re home,’ she said slinging her backpack.

‘Home?’ asked a skeptical Doug.

‘Yep. And there’s no place like it!’

The loud cargo doors opened to reveal a new broken world to Sam, Sarah, Doug, Selena and the Latino.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright © 2016 by Sphu "Beesting" Kubheka
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