Season 1:12 ‘Call to Arms’
by P WIlliam Ross
First rule of Hi-Five: if someone can stand up, don’t ask if they’re fucking alright.
“You little bitch.”
Well, the surge of electricity failed to cause a short in her circuits. She steps on my head and presses her boot down. I’m going to die here. In an unknown town on the French border at the hands, or foot, of a forty-something cyborg. I grab onto her leg and try to throw her off.
“This will only take a second,” she says.
An empty magazine bounces on the ground in front of me. She clicks in a fresh set of rounds and aims at my head. I stare up at her machine gun hand, the metal is scuffed from years of wear, and hope for a miracle. A click, she snickers, and then nothing. Cougar shoves her hand forward and it clicks again. Nothing.
“Bitch fried my weapon controls,” she says and then kicks me in the head.
“Desmond? Desmond wake up,” Jason says.
There’s a dull pain covering the right side of my face. The sun has gone down and a chill settled in the air. I sit up and hold my head in my hands.
“Where’s Cougar?” I ask.
“Who knows,” Janice answers.
“We’ve got to get you to a hospital. Dude, come on,” Jason says. I doubt I’ve broken anything, just a few bruises.
“I’m fine, we need to find Cougar.”
“Dude no, you’re not fine.”
Quit telling me I’m not fine. It’s just a bruise.
It’s not just a bruise, she hit you in the face. And you’re deaf in one ear. I’m the one with super strength, not you.
That doesn’t make me weak. I’m fine.
I stand up and collect my thoughts. Cougar is long gone by now. Our best option is to pursue the lead on Progenitor Labs’ second location. We have to press on for Sweden.
“Are you sure you’re alright? There’s a boot print on your face,” Chase says.
“First rule of Hi-Five: if someone can stand up, don’t ask if they’re fucking alright.”
“And I thought I was the only one who could breathe fire.”
“What’s the plan boot face?”
“Sweden or bust.”
We travel through the night and arrive in Stockholm at five the next morning. The plan is to sleep for most of the day and then raid the castle in the evening. I expect heavy resistance from our mystery man since he knows what we did at the other nightclub.
There’s a hotel close to the next Progenitor Labs location. Like the surrounding buildings, it’s all stone with marble pillars flanking the front entrance. A red carpet cascades down the front steps to usher in guests arriving by limousine or luxury car. We had just walked over from the train station. Our budget is going to take a hit from these accommodations.
Jason goes to take a shower once we’ve checked in. Chase takes a seat in a large arm chair and slumps back. This room is much nicer than the one we had in California.
“So the electrocution bit didn’t work as planned?”
“It fried her weapon systems. Otherwise she would’ve plugged us with a few bullets. She didn’t kick you anywhere?”
“I don’t think so. Try to keep your head above water through this whole deal. The last thing we need is to have you end up in an asylum.”
“Just saying, we’re a team, it’s not all on you.”
I lay down on the bed and pass out before Jason gets out of the shower. He wakes me up twelve hours later. Chase is reading a financial magazine in the same chair.
Maybe someone else should take the lead for this mission. Not Jason. I love him, but I don’t think he’s capable of leading our team. Janice or Sam; both of them are capable of making quick decisions under pressure. I think Chase is too scatterbrained in conflict. Plus he’s more the heart of our team.
“Are the girls getting ready?” I ask.
“I’ll go check,” Jason says.
All of us assemble in the lobby in our civilian clothes with costumes underneath. It’s easy to conceal the head pieces to our outfits if we have to slip them on in a hurry. Stockholm is a magnificent city at night. Almost every building looks like it’s over one hundred years old. Opulent columns frame the entrances to grand residences and government buildings.
The downtown scene has a similar vibe. European clubs feel a bit more upscale compared to their American counterparts. Our destination is in the middle of a large lot. There’s a massive futuristic looking Tyrannosaurus-Rex surrounding the outside of the building; another black pyramid. “Progenitor Labs” is printed on the front of the dinosaur and the structure.
“Work your magic on the bouncer,” Chase says.
We queue up for the club behind a group of women. They’re smoking and chatting with each other in another language. When it’s our turn I get ready to swap out the bouncer’s memory, but he stops us.
“Wait,” he says.
“Uh, we just want to go in,” Chase says.
“Come on, we just want to have fun,” Sam says. She makes an attempt to seduce him, I think.
“Wait,” he says again and goes inside.
“Dude, do something before this goes to shit,” Jason says.
I concentrate and try to get into the bouncer’s head, but it’s too late. There’s a series of screeching noises like the ones from when Ingot made the shipping crate into a van. Then a loud thud followed by a rumble. The five of us look up, staring back at us is the Tyrannosaurus and it looks mad.