34. The Shopping Trip - Part 1

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Gadget shook his head as the screen yet again showed one red bar. If the power cells had been fully charged, he would have seen five bars. So far, not one of them had shown above two. He disengaged the power-meter cable and threw it aside.

‘Problem?’ asked Sergiy, who had just returned from morning patrol.

‘These cells Lucky and the guys brought back from the bunker – some sort of degradation. Not one of them can be charged to max.’

Sergiy picked up one of the cells – a bronze-colored block no bigger than his hand. ‘Trans-lithium Mark Thress – made by Excelsior Power. This model was discontinued because they didn’t last long. But I remember reading a blog by some guy who’d found his own fix: if you can replace the charging circuitry with the one from trans-lithium Mark Five, and then charge it under high voltage for a few days, they come back to life – almost as good as new.’

Gadget had always been practical but was constantly impressed by Sergiy’s knowledge – he seemed to know about all sorts of obscure scientific subjects.  

‘And where would we find that?’

‘Superbuys.’

Gadget and Sergiy turned around to find that Thug had joined them. He too had been on patrol. The big man wiped sweat from his brow and rested his steel pipe against the wall.

‘Anything to do with tech, chances are they’ll have it.’

Gadget frowned. ‘But there aren’t any stores still open.’

‘That one is,’ replied Thug. ‘The only problem is it’s being run by the Red Dragons. Remember that hobo we helped out the other day? He told me all about it – he used to have a den over there but he cleared out on account of the Dragons. There are lot of them and they’re well-armed too.’

Sergiy turned to Gadget. ‘What do you think?’

‘I think we better talk to the others.’

————-

It was agreed that the three of them should go. With Lucky, Artemis and Seeker watching over ATS, they set off in late afternoon. After much discussion, they’d decided to go in unarmed. There was no sense in provoking the Dragons and from what Thug had heard they generally traded fairly; even though they had seized Superbuys and several other assets purely to profit from the crisis. As the surrounding area seemed to have been cleared of CyMS – presumably by the Dragons – the trio reached the store without any problems.

‘Criminals are a very adaptable species,’ observed Sergiy as they entered the Superbuys parking lot.  

‘Still don’t like it,’ added Thug. ‘Exploiting the situation for their own gain.’

‘Maybe you shouldn’t express that view while we’re in there,’ said Gadget. ‘They have something we need – otherwise that stash of cells is almost useless. Let’s just get the Mark Five and get out of here.’

Gadget’s nerves were not improved by the sight of two armed guards outside the main door of the sprawling store. Both looked Chinese and were holding big assault rifles. He was starting to have second thoughts about coming here unarmed.

To Be Continued…

Next Story: 35. The Shopping Trip - Part 2