48. The Research Console - Part 2

Previous Story: 47. Spider Sense

Nix crept through the bushes, only stopping when he had a good view of the CyMS.

He tapped his earlobe to use his coms implant. ‘Bolt, any more of them in the area?’

The Russian sniper was stationed in a nearby church tower, providing overwatch for the operation. Nix had never tried to capture one of these things before and he didn’t want anything to go wrong. As he’d learned with the Rangers, planning and prep were crucial.

His group all agreed that they should help the ‘friends’ who had recently contacted them; and to obtain the crucial implant data, they needed a subject.

‘Just checking the area now,’ replied Bolt. ‘Looks good.’

‘Okay, I’m going for it.’

Nix quietly emerged from the bushes then stopped to make sure the CyMS was still facing away from him. He was happy to use this new term – it was easier than thinking of them as people. Using some trees as cover, he advanced towards his target: a paunchy middle-aged businessman in a blue suit. The CyMS was standing alone, watching some birds in a nearby tree.

Nix took care with each step and was glad the grass kept noise to a minimum. Soon he was only ten paces away, partially hidden behind a tree.

‘Bolt, we still good?’

‘All clear. I’ll notify Buck.’


Nix was more used to lethal weapons but a taser was ideal for this job. He slipped the device from his pocket and clicked the activator. He continued towards the target.

Ten paces. Five. Two.

Something startled the birds. The CyMS watched them and in doing so his head turned. His peripheral vision must have caught sight of Nix because he spun around.

But by then the taser had been discharged into his neck and he toppled backwards onto the grass.

Nix heard the truck approaching. He pocketed the taser then gripped the target under the arms and hauled the dead weight towards the street. Though much the smaller man, this presented no difficulty.

When the truck halted, the door slid back and Lance appeared. He stepped down and helped Nix haul the target into the truck.

‘We good?’ said Buck, who was at the wheel.

‘We’re good,’ replied Nix.


The parking lot was empty apart from the CyMS. There were two of them, both wandering aimlessly around the open space.

Lucky and Seeker were crouched behind the wall that surrounded the lot.

‘Which one then?’ asked Lucky.

‘The woman will be lighter,’ replied Seeker. ‘Easier to carry.’

They had looked for a CyMS close to ATS and found this pair about half a mile away.

‘Good call.’ Lucky nocked one of his kinetic pulse arrows then stood up. The two CyMS were at least fifty feet away and didn’t notice him. He’d been practicing all morning and didn’t consider it a difficult shot but he was still satisfied with the direct hit. As the arrow struck its head, the man crashed to the ground.

The woman looked down at her fallen companion.

‘All yours,’ said Lucky.

Seeker had a variety of projectiles for her sling and was now employing a concussion orb, ideal for stunning a target. As the woman was preoccupied, she vaulted the low wall and got twenty steps closer, just to be sure.

Her shot was as accurate as Lucky’s. The woman staggered for a moment then collapsed.

‘Nice shot,’ said Lucky as they hurried forward to capture their prey.

‘Couldn’t really miss from there,’ said Seeker with a grin.


Plate and Threads found their CyMS on the street outside the mansion. This one was holding a length of pipe and looked agitated but they felt confident they could handle it. Hiko was standing by; they would use her hover-chair to transport the captured subject back to the mansion.

‘Hello there!’

Hearing these words, the CyMS turned towards Plate. He was standing there in his full armor, swinging his great-sword in extravagant arcs.

The CyMS – an unusually tall woman with long, red hair – lurched towards him with angry, unblinking eyes. When she swung the pipe, Plate parried easily.

‘Whenever you’re ready, Threads!’

Waiting until she was sure the target was occupied, Threads prepared the rope. Using the controls on the left forearm of her super-suit, she selected the RESTRAIN function. Once this was active, the nano-tech did the rest. Threads simply threw the rope at the CyMS and in seconds the red-haired woman had been securely bound by 30 feet of super-strong rope. As she hit the ground, the pipe clattered away.

‘Nicely done,’ said Plate as he sheathed his sword.

‘Nicely distracted,’ said Threads as Hiko guided the hover-chair towards them.

Plate gestured towards the CyMS. ‘She’s a woman – couldn’t resist.’


Fei stood over the unconscious old man. Ten seconds earlier, she had stepped silently out from behind the overturned car and elbowed the CyMS in the head. She was wearing her adaptive suit but there had never been any chance the old man would see her.

Lady Rose had ordered that they bring one in immediately and this poor guy had been the first they found.

‘At least he doesn’t weigh much,’ she said. ‘You want the arms or the legs?’

‘Screw that,’ said Gudu.

Fei was never all that happy about working with the Indonesian enforcer. As a member of the Red Dragons, crime and violence was all part of the game. But the scarred martial arts expert seemed to enjoy cruelty and brutality.

Squatting by the old man, she unsheathed her curved blade. ‘We don’t need the whole body, right?’

‘I guess.’

‘Lady Rose wants the data now. Quicker this way, right?’

Fei couldn’t really argue with that.

‘So just tell me where to find these implants,’ said Gudu.


‘You might want to stand back a bit. There’ll be a lot of blood.’


The target was not an ideal candidate. He looked like a football player or a bouncer – shaven head, huge shoulders, massive hands. Dressed in only boxer shorts and a vest, he stomped down the alley. Zephyr was currently banging two trash can lids together and watching the big man approach.

He wondered how many more weird assignments he and his sister would get from Ryder Arcadia. There certainly weren’t many dull moments while working for Cynfo Tech.

The big man was snarling, drool dripping down his chin. Eyes locked on Zephyr, he pulled back one great fist, ready to strike.

That was when Beater sprang out from behind a trashcan and kicked him. The blow landed on his side and sent the big man careering into a fence. He recovered enough to swing at Beater but she blocked then launched a flurry of blows into his gut. In seconds the big man slumped against the fence, barely able to breathe. A measured kick to the head finished him off.

Zephyr dropped the trash can lids. ‘Big dude. How much do you think he weighs, sis?’

‘Got to be two-fifty,’ replied Beater.

Zephyr made the call to Crimson, who was waiting nearby in a jeep. ‘She’s on her way.’

Beater reached down for the big man.

‘Need a hand?’ asked Zephyr.

‘For two-fifty? Please.’

Zephyr shrugged. ‘Just asking.’