October 13th, 2040 – 10:15
Sam stood in front of his best friend, Doug, and Selena. They looked at him with worried eyes.
“You want us to do WHAT?”
“Look, Sam,” said Selena, “Doug’s right. That sounds crazy. I know you feel bad and all with you being the one to awaken Sommer. But I just don’t think that risking your life is the best answer.”
“Guys, I have to do this,” said Sam. “With or without your help.”
“Have you not watched Saving Private Ryan? These kinds of things never work out well for the guys trying to help.”
“I know, Doug, but look...” Sam sighed. “I’m sorry, but I don’t see a choice from where I’m sitting... I have to try. I’m going to save Eduardo. Now are you with me or not?”
Sam walked down the steel-ridden corridor. He knew that it wasn’t a good idea, but he had no choice. He had to ask her for her help. She was the last one left that he could ask. If she turned him down, then he was going to have to go at it alone.
Once he had reached where it was said that she slept, he knocked on the metal sliding door.
“Enter,” said a tired voice. Then there was a hushed grunt. When he opened the door, he found Ripley hanging upside down from the roof doing elevated sit-ups. Her legs were wound around a thick pipe which ran along the ceiling. “Hey, how’s it hanging?”
“They still use slang in these parts?”
“Sure we do, Sam. We’re not dead.”
“Well, that’s good to know. Listen, to get straight to the point; I need your help.”
Ripley measured him with her eyes. “What do you need?” She did a back-flip and landed on her feet.
Sam noticed a golden chain around her neck and attached to it was a golden coin. Sam wondered what its significance was. “Look, you came to us, in the middle of Canada, to save us... You rescued us when you didn’t have to. I’m asking you to do it again... Help me save my friend.”
“Eduardo... I can’t.” She saw his expression drop. “It’s not because I don’t want to but because it would break the terms of my suspension.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was suspended from the military because I allowed a dangerous android to take one of us hostage and get away. I’m now awaiting a formal hearing.”
“How does that mean you can’t help?”
“Because, if I want any chance of keeping my role in the military, I have to abide by the terms of my suspension which basically covers, anyway that I could end up in trouble.”
“Including helping Eduardo?”
“Including leaving the compound. I’m required to stay here up until the hearing. It’s part of the rules.”
“Then I guess this is me asking you to break the rules.”
Ripley thought about it, but Sam could tell that she was reserved about the idea.
“Look,” said Sam, “why did you join the military in the first place? It was to help people, right? To serve your country – in this case, humanity – by helping people. Please, all I’m asking is for your help.”
She looked more convinced. “Before I can agree to anything there are some things you need to know. This place is a fortress, designed to make sure nothing can get in, so in effect, nothing can get out. Before you can go anywhere, you’ll have to find a way out. And I can assure you; you can’t simply ask them to open the front gates.”
“What are you saying, that I can’t leave?”
“It’s a safety issue, Sam. Only a military operation can sanction the gates to be open. And since you’re not in the military, you’re not going anywhere.”
Sam sighed. “What about once I’m outside?”
“Once you’re outside, you’re untouchable. Bar any stray pscybotics, all you need is a map, and you can get anywhere you want.”
“Okay, then how about a compromise. You get me to the outside; then I’ll go my own way. Deal?” Sam extended his hand.
She shook it. “Deal.”
Sam sat in his room studying the plan of the compound that Ripley had given him. Apparently, the compound was like a giant school. In fact, it had once been a South African school academy which was basically a small cluster of schools. It had been converted into a military base assigned to the Department when the war broke out.
Just looking at the plan, Sam was impressed. Since the place was basically like a giant boarding school, it had everything one needed to live here. Of course, some additions had to be made. Whether it was the bar, the soldiers called a “cantina” or the evacuation tunnels that ran beneath the entire compound that they called a “storm drainage system,” everything had its purpose. But some things had been re-purposed, like the classrooms becoming training centers. While other things kept their original purposes: offices were still offices and residence was still living quarters.
Despite all of this, Sam was studying the underground system of the compound as he awaited Ripley’s signal.
There were two knocks on the door which was the signal for them to commence with the escape. Without speaking to each other, they proceeded out of the living quarters and down below to the basement. In the basement was a maze of tunnels. Ripley took out a torch and a map from the backpack she was carrying and started to read it.
“You do know where we’re going, right?”
“Yes, I do. But it would be nice don’t you think if we didn’t have to do too much thinking about directions, don’t you think?”
They started crawling through the tunnels. They were filled with damp dirt that was sticking to Sam’s hands and knees. Sam, dedicated to his mission, didn’t complain. Almost ten minutes later, they crawled out of the tunnels, filthy.
“So where do we go now?”
“Actually, I’m not quite sure.”
“What do you mean you’re ‘not quite sure?’ I thought you had a map?”
“Yeah,” she said looking around, “of the tunnels, not of the entire compound.”
“So are you telling me that you have no idea where we go next?”
“I didn’t say that. In fact, I know exactly where we have to go next. I just don’t remember which way from here.”
“Oh, well that’s much better.”
“No need to panic. All I need,” said Ripley walking toward an area where she could see the floors above them, “is to find a landmark. There.” She pointed at a radio tower. But before Sam could see what she was talking about, a guard patrolling the upper floors walked by, forcing them to step back into the shadows.
Ripley whispered. “I know where we have to go. This way.” She went in the direction of south.
“Where are we going now?” Sam asked once they were out of earshot.
“We need to go beneath the armory.”
When they were almost there, Sam asked Ripley a question that had been on his mind since they’d started.
“How is it that you know about all this? To escape, I mean? I don’t exactly think that it’s in the manual.”
“Well actually, it kind of is. Our training has us know every way that a pscybotic can attack the compound.”
“And now you’re using that knowledge to escape the place... nice.”
“Never thought the knowledge would ever come in handy seeing as we have so many guards patrolling that it’s impossible for a pscybotic to get anywhere near here.”
“Hmm. We’re here.” She shined the torch and Sam saw that they were now in some sort of underground garage.
“Okay, so what happens now?” Sam said following her through the gigantic room.
Instead of answering the question, Ripley continued walking to the opposite wall and then stopped. There wasn’t any opening of any kind. There were no pipes, window or doors. It was just a plane wall.
“Uh... what are we doing standing here in front of a wall?”
“We’re standing in front of this wall, Sam, because we need to get through it.”