Previous Story: 36. The Secret Agent
(We thank the Facebook community for a super fun group-driven story writing quest, and to our awesome author, Nick Brown, for adapting this into a story in the Omicron Protocol world! We hope you enjoy this fun story, and for helping us come up with this awesome new donut logo! - Bernie & Brendan)
The Hungry Donuts store was on fire. The flames seemed to be emanating from the kitchen and some kind of blast had blown out the windows. Lucky happened to be passing by and he realized this was a chance to grab some complex carbs for his ever-hungry group of friends. Armed as ever with his recurve bow, he approached carefully, worried that the noise might draw CyMS or other dangers.
What he was not prepared for was the sight of an elephant and a chimpanzee. The elephant seemed to be equipped with artificial tusks and – stranger still – the chimp was wearing a t-shirt. The elephant pulled a section of window aside with its trunk, allowing the chimp to leap into the store. The simian grabbed several boxes of donuts then scampered up the elephant’s trunk and onto its back. With a jubilant snort, the elephant charged away down the street.
Once he’d overcome his shock, Lucky ran towards the store. He needed to grab some donuts before the whole place went up.
‘What the hell?’
Buck and Nix ducked behind a car as the elephant lumbered away.
‘Now I’ve seen everything,’ said Buck. ‘That monkey was holding boxes of donuts.’
‘Chimp,’ corrected Nix.
‘What’s the difference?
‘Forget it. Let’s go get some donuts. I haven’t had anything sweet for ages.’
Buck straightened up and saw smoke funneling out of the store. ‘Not worth the risk.’
‘Call yourself a cop? I’m going in.’ Nix activated his stealth-suit and ran towards Hungry Donuts.
‘Nix, wait!’ shouted Buck. ‘Nix!’
Fei was hiding in an alley opposite the store. She’d arrived in time to see the young guy with the bow enter the store. He was now coughing from smoke inhalation as he stuffed boxes of donuts into his pack. Fei saw a blurry shape also enter Hungry Donuts and knew instantly that someone else with a stealth-suit was present. That was an added complication but it didn’t concern her.
Lady Rose had sent her out scavenging and this was a useful opportunity. Rhino loved donuts and he was an increasingly influential figure in the Red Dragons. If Fei did him this favor, he would owe her one. She activated her suit and hurried out of the alley.
Bob, I’m really not sure this is a good idea.
Jane the cat looked on as Bob the bear smashed through the rear door with his metal limb.
I’m hungry, replied Bob. Donuts taste like honey.
Yes but Walter and Jugger have already got some.
I want my own donuts! Bob knocked the remains of the door aside and entered the store, apparently unconcerned by the acrid smoke.
Oh, very well, said Jane. Hopping off a trash can, she followed him inside.
Lucky thought he’d glimpsed a shape through the smoke but – with his backpack full – it was time to leave. Covering his mouth with his sleeve, he stepped through the wrecked window and out into fresh air. Looking left, he saw a pair of dead-eyed CyMS running towards the store. He sprinted straight across the street and into the alley.
He called Artemis, who was on duty back at ATS. ‘Hey, tell the guys they’ve got a nice treat coming.’
Fei tried to stop herself coughing but she couldn’t. Immediately afterward, she heard movement behind her and spun around. With all the smoke, it was hard to see – was that the stealth-suit? Whatever it was, it had already vanished.
Fei was beginning to regret coming in here. The smoke was now so thick that she couldn’t even get to the donuts. And when she heard a blood-curdling roar from behind her, she realised it was definitely time to cut her losses. The noise had sounded a lot like a bear. That was impossible, of course, but frightening nonetheless. She stumbled towards the door and out onto the street empty-handed.
Two CyMS were approaching from the left and three more had just exited the alley. She could also see some guy crouched behind a car with a shotgun. Reflecting that withdrawal was definitely the best option, Fei calmly adjusted the settings of her suit and walked away.
Nix could barely see a thing. Clutching four boxes of donuts, he blindly ploughed forward until he could see clear air ahead. Moments later, he was out of the store and on the sidewalk.
He knew Buck well enough to follow his instruction immediately. Squatting low, he heard the low crackle of his compatriot’s adapted shotgun.
By the time Nix stood up, his vision had cleared enough for him to see five fallen attackers. The electrical charge had done its job: the unconscious bodies of the CyMS were sprawled across the sidewalk within a few feet of him.
‘Can we get out of here now?’
‘Sure,’ said Nix. ‘Hey look, Buck, I got four boxes!’
Look, Jane, said Bob. I got five boxes!
'Very good,’ replied Jane. Can we leave now? You appear to be on fire.
Bob turned and realized that his shoulder was ablaze. Still on his hind legs, he waddled his way to the back of the store, beyond the fire and smoke to safety. The movement was enough to put out the flames but he whimpered when he saw his singed shoulder.
Jane – whose metallic body had protected her – jumped up onto his back to inspect the damage.
You’ll be all right. Nothing serious.
Jane leaped down and walked away alongside Bob, who was already devouring the donuts. I never thought I’d say this, but sometimes it’s a great advantage not to have a fur coat.
Next Story: 38. To Kill, or Not to Kill…