this is the first chapter in a loooooooooong story i've been writing that is still unfinished.
Chapter 1: “No rest, no time, no fear in the way they die. Last dance in the dead of night, a steel horse is what the Henchmen Ride.” ( )
The Zone 8 gang. Detroit’s strongest gang. The kids in this gang aren’t just kids anymore. They were disciplined. These kids weren’t just rebellious. There were smart ones. There were cunning ones. There were strong ones. They were forced to work together and punished harshly for any mistakes.
And after a month of surveillance, a single undetected heist stole weapons and ammo from over 30 houses, all military and former military houses, an infiltration so low and precise, and a heist so strong and cunning, the Zone 8 gang would stay known as Motown’s most powerful gang for years to come.
The weapons were stolen while the families were out of their houses, naturally. A military dining event provided the perfect opportunity, and had them out of the house for hours. An investment was made on a Russian hacking machine to switch the alarms on and off. Two houses had dogs, one far more dangerous than the other. The Chihuahua only needed a kick the yap to shut up. The kids that broke into the one with the German Shepherd were less lucky. They had to tackle the dog and pin him for a long while, as they couldn’t leave any obvious traces. When one found a dog whistle, the Shepherd was whistled at until he finally calmed down and locked him in a closet.
They were late but they left no damage, the strictest order they were given. They held that order well. Outside the missing ammo, there was nothing left to tie them to the robberies. Not even a fingerprint. It was very good. The next move was immediate, before the dinner was over and the weapons and ammo were found missing.
ar for small arms fire. A camera was hidden in a rust hole just above the reinforced rear bumper. Feed went to a phone strapped to the van’s steering wheel. The old cargo van was parked, its rear end facing the target building from the opposite side of the six lane street. Suddenly dirt bikes burst out from the alleyways on all four corners of the road and blocked traffic. All the riders were in heavy winter coats and ski masks. No one looked any different than the other.
Bullets from pistols and rifles of all types were fired at cars, disabling some, and gridlocking traffic. A split second later, the guns converged on the building’s doors. Security fell quickly and those who weren’t taken down were pinned down behind pillars. The van had a clear run to the doors, smashing through the bullet-riddled reinforced glass at over 30 miles an hour.
The building was called the Qube. And it was the richest bank in Detroit.
The boy in the passenger seat had three guns strapped to him, all pistols. His cargo pants were sagging with ammo and a small computer. He fired out the window and, without wasting a bullet, took down three very surprised security guards.
The van stayed straight and true. It crashed through the security check-in without slowing down. A j-turn was made on the slippery, waxed tiles, and the passenger of the van dove out behind a garbage can. Using 2 full clips, he took down every security guard. He was a prodigy marksman.
Many people were running out of the building, and cars were trying to turn away, gridlocking traffic in a hefty panic. Police hadn’t even had the chance to show up yet.
The van made its way up a wide staircase, going up to the second floor with ease, and then up to the third. The stairs narrowed here and it was in as secure a spot as possible. An air horn blew out from within the building and the gang converged on the building, riding their dirt bikes into the building. Five well-trained kids were set up as snipers while over 40 kids stormed inside. The driver jogged up the stairs, assault rifle in one hand, a diamond-bladed chainsaw in the other, and a backpack slung on his back.
They ran up the evacuating building and while a few robbed the tellers, the marksman took to hacking the ATM machines. In just a single minute, they were spewing money into large garbage bags.
The security on the top floor was ready for an attack. But they saw none. Instead, from around the corner, four flaming molotovs were thrown at them and caught fire to the entire hallway. After a minute, in the same amount of time it took to rob the teller and empty the ATM's, armed kids charged forward. Fire extinguishers sprayed through the rampaging fire and bullets were fired on sight to make sure anyone in the hallway, other than them, were not going to get up.
The safe was on the end of the once-heavily-guarded hallway. The smoke made it hard to see, but the kids were busy at work. They were very quick and very efficient. A C4 bomb, their biggest investment, was put to use against the massive safe. It made a massive dent but didn’t free the safe completely. The driver from the van took the chainsaw and ran it into the dent full blast, sawing through the metal.
On the other end of the hallway, the hacker that emptied the ATM had thrown his money into the van. He jammed the elevator between the second and third floor and opened the third floor and top floor doors. He then ran to the van and backed it right up to the elevator. Climbing through the back, he opened the cargo doors and waited.
Police had come and made up a border around the building but couldn’t move in on the building despite half the force being there. SWAT vehicles were called in.
The safe had finally been broken into, and kids were taking the gold bullion and stuffing it into bags until they could barely carry them. They dragged them to the open elevator doors, and dropped the bags down the elevator shaft. The hacker began stacking the bags. The driver, a fair bit stronger than the hacker was, had run down to help him stack it up until it was nearly full.
Three short blasts of an air horn sounded. Everyone scrambled to their bikes, backpacks filled with the gold they could carry, doubling as bulletproof protection. The hacker and the driver got back into the van and they raced down the two staircases, rear suspension compressed under the weight of the gold, they charged out as SWAT came around the corner of the road. The bikers headed down several alleyways, firing at police with weapons on full auto.
The van followed suit down the widest alleyway, still scraping both mirrors. Choppers tried to track down the bikers but they kept splitting up and diving in and out of visibility. The gridlocked traffic kept ground units from being able to spot them. The only one still under surveillance was the van, moving quickly out of the city limit.
Inside the van, the driver had made sure that they could very well escape. The van was from a scrapyard, a 4WD scrap-bound rustbox, but the engine was from a corvette, also scrapped from a crash. After a month of work, with a nitrous kit and all the high-performance parts they could salvage from the yard, the van was ready. And it was doing its work well, carrying its load very quickly where even the helicopters had trouble keeping up.
The van raced into a trucking yard, and none too soon as smoke began streaming out the back. The souped up power was made with expendability in mind. The rear differential broke apart, and the 4WD truck was now just front wheel drive. The van raced into the storage building, disappearing from sight for less than a minute.
It raced out again in under a minute and headed off-road where it crashed soon. The helicopter caught movement but soon lost it under the thick tree cover. Police later came to the van and found it empty.
I saw the box truck pull up to the meeting place right on time. Not even half an hour since the first bullet was fired. The swap had gone perfectly, thanks to practice and discipline. Those key elements unlock success in everything. The van had no title and nothing to connect it to Zone 8. The work done to it could not be traced.
The big truck pulled right up to me. 4 big black cars were behind me. Hell if I knew what they’re called. That’s our driver’s thing. Not mine. The truck opened its doors quickly and our two drivers got out. All the gold bags were strapped to a pallet. That’s how we moved it out so fast, our best driver and our hacker had moved them into the truck and stowed away there. Another rider had thrown his bike into the van and rode off before anyone on the ground could see him or even get close.
The bags were unstrapped now and the two began carrying bags down to me and my second-in-command. We loaded the cars up as quickly as possible. The box truck was emptied and the door slammed shut. The hacker handed him a single gold bullion. 20K in American dollars and won’t ever lose value.
“You kids did good. Now I must apologize for what I am about to do.” My second and I raised our guns and, seconds later, fired.
The kids expected it and dove behind a dumpster. they quickly fired back before running out to the street. I know the two were good. I also knew they weren’t disciplined. I saw it in their eyes and how they acted when they got the job. They were going to cross me. I know that look. But what surprised me is that they saw that I was going to cross them first.
“Dammit! What the hell man!?” I ran as I yelled behind me. I was expecting it, but not at that moment in time. My friend ran ahead of me and raced around the lot. “Shut up and run!” was all he had to say. The ATM money was stuffed in our trenchcoats but we had small change as compared to what he had. We heard the cars start up and their engines move in closer.
We ran full tilt. Our bikes were placed a quarter mile away just in case, my friend’s suggestion. I saw the car behind us and I lit and threw my last Molotov at it. The driver swerved and braked as it hit the road ahead of him. He drove around the fire and came after us again but we dove down an alley.
Behind a dumpster was my friend’s bike. He began starting it as I ran to get my bike, but the other driver came to a stop and aimed his gun at me. I turned and ran behind a second dumpster and fired back. I couldn’t get to my bike with him there. The driver yelled in pain and drove off as the other car came up behind us. Hacker came behind me and I jumped onto the back of his bike, firing back. I was a better rider and he was a better shot but there was no time to change position now.
The cars followed us for a few blocks and I soon ran out of ammo. My friend had emptied his guns during our escape. We needed to lose them. The cars saw that we stopped firing and came in close. Hacker stopped the bike on a dime and they raced forward and skidded to a stop as we ran off the other way.
They turned and came after us, soaring through red lights. The traffic was lighter in this area at this time of night than it would be, but there were still a considerable amount of traffic. A narrow escape here, a near hit there. “on your 9-!” I yelled as we got to a busier intersection, but I wasn’t able to finish my sentence.
T-boned by a semi. My feet were crushed under the tires, but my friend's were not. I was clinging to my friend, but the force of the crash was instantaneous death. The rest of our bodies had escaped the tires, but it did no good to us. We were still dead as I held onto him.
Terrell stopped before the semi-truck did. He cleaned out the money we had on us, and our IDs. The driver of the big rig hopped out of his truck. Terrell’s second pulled out a gun to stop the trucker from taking another step towards us as Terrell himself took our weapons, money, and identification, stripping us clean of everything.
Terrell and his second went back to their cars and drove off. The trucker called the cops.
Our bodies were taken away. The morgue, filled to the brim thanks to the night’s earlier events, wrote a paper to donate us two to a government scientific testing foundation. We had no ID and no one had claimed us, nor would ever claim us.
Two litters of pups were born from Sasha, breeder number 6. The strongest males from each litter were taken: a pure wolf with black and dark grey fur, strong and tough, and a gray and white wolf dog, nearly as strong and a little larger. Cells were taken from each organ in the pups and combined with the human DNA from our two freshest bodies. Two young men from a motorcycle crash in the town nearby. Tragic, but with no identification and no room in the morgue, they were donated to science. They were very battered but in usable shape. The process was nearly complete; probability suggests one or two more adjustments.
The cells took the better part of a day to accept and mix the human DNA, but it finally worked. After years and years of endless research and trial and error he had finally gotten his mutant code. Now for the adaptive chemicals, once implanted, they would help the new mutant cells use the current humans’ bodies as structures for the new code to develop over. They were injected and were carefully monitored as the mild gamma radiation helped the cells develop correctly. Electricity was jolted through the bodies every hour. At first, nothing. Then muscles started moving. Each time, the reaction was more visible, and more living cells came to be each hour, making functionable tissue and, eventually, organs. The two bodies were taking it almost exactly the same. Good progress.
Heart monitors. It wouldn’t be long now. The radiation was shut off hours ago, and the electricity was now enough to start their new hearts and were being fired every few minutes now that their bodies were fully developed.
The silver one had a situation with his bones aligning correctly, especially with his broken legs. I had, however, machined a solution. Carbon-fiber reinforcements on his bones would keep their shape and protect him from potential damage and entropy in the bones. They were carefully and surgically placed mid-development. The inserts, thankfully, were exact enough to avoid having to cut off major muscles while offering incredible protection. The bones in his feet began reparation as they mutated into a canine-like shape.
The other one had a unique problem with his hair, where it would grow but instantly shed. With added metamaterial woven into the follicles and strands, not only was it fixed, an added usefulness was given to his new black thick hair. Oddly enough, his feet did not adapt the same way the silver one has.
Good progress. Both were currently flat-lined but it could work. It was complete success for the bodies. Now could they be restarted? To surpass probability by coming this far, it would be a disappointment if they didn’t.
Chapter 2: “No, you’re not dead, no, not quite yet. This is your time, how far will you take it?” ()
Heartbeat. Two hearts. They were alive. Blood is pumping. Monitors up, everything looks like its working. Mental activity. They truly are alive.
These two were given advancements outside the normal parameters.
There was a bright light as I woke up, shining directly in my eyes. I groaned, feeling like I had gone to bed for days and still not have had enough sleep. I was too groggy to think about anything, so I simply curled up on my side, and I felt odd tugging at points in my arm, I felt them and I remembered the less-than comfortable feeling of IVs. Hang on a second. Why are my arms so hairy? Why am I in a hospital?
I jerked open my eyes, instantly blind in the brightness of the room. At first everything looked was just a heavy glare, far too much exposure, but my sight came to me at last. And I freaked out. I was covered in fur. I mean that in the most literal way possible. My body hair was so thick it was fur, all over my body. My sight felt off, and my legs felt distorted. I looked down and saw a muzzle sticking out past my face. I felt it, and then I saw my hands, which had blue-ish black pads on them and claws on each finger.
I started hyperventilating, one of the machines began beeping faster with my heartrate. A thousand senses came crashing into me as my adrenaline rushed into my head. I don’t even remember who I am. Just that I wasn’t like this. I screamed and threw myself back into the bed, nearly tearing out my IVs. I became lightheaded and collapsed only seconds after.
I woke up still feeling half dead, except now I was starving. The IVs were out, and I could smell meat. My stomach dragged me up and pushed my sight towards a very generous hunk of meat on a hospital tray right next to my bed. I didn’t think until it was gone. Had I even used silverware? My hands were slightly bloody and I didn’t see any silverware around, so I guess not. I looked at myself. I was entirely naked, except for my new coat of hair all over my body, covering even my bits between my legs. I’ll need a wax job when I get out. Then I spotted the tail. “HOLIE FAP I HAVE A TAIL!” Then I remembered my face. I tried speaking again: “what the hail is going on?” once it got out it sounded more like “whurf fa rail hir grring ron?” then I felt my ears on top of my head adjusting themselves. They were not the ears I remember. They sat near the top of my head and pointed up as a dog’s. This is going to be a long day.
I smiled. The new subjects have now woken. Working through three days without sleep, I can now rest easy. The slow-acting drugs in their foods are making my two creations fall steadily sleep. Tomorrow I’ll call in the speech therapist. Military man, mainly worked with the injured, highly recommended. “These two have a purpose. They may no longer be human, but they are key to saving our race in time.” I down wrote in my journal, and tucked it away.
--------one day later, Cobalt’s POV--------
I dug my head out from under the blankets. There weren’t any mirrors in here, just a hospital style bed and the table with a water bottle in it. I didn’t dare touch it because the meat was drugged and made me fall asleep for who-knows-how-long, forming suspicions that the water may contain more of the same. No drawers or anything to explore. Heck, there didn’t even seem to be a door.
I wasn’t just freaking out over being part dog, if I’m correctly remembering what a dog is, but also being trapped in a perfectly white square room without an apparent entrance or exit. I suppressed the panic and tried to relax. ‘Keep cool. Find out as much as yourself as you can’ I told myself. Slowly, I had calmed myself and went back to exploring myself and anything I could remember. I took the metal tray off the table and used the shiny underside as a mirror.
I remembered lots of stuff, but some of its missing. I know stuff, but I don’t remember the actual memories. The tray revealed my silver and white fur on my face and all over my body, with longer white ‘hair’ on top of my head. And I had blue eyes, which were striking even in the dull reflection.
I remembered vaguely a face, a human face. Was it mine? If the face I remember was mine, then I should be furless, with dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. My eye shape and cheeks sort of did match up to what I remembered, but the muzzle made everything look weird and different. White streaks created ‘eyebrows’ where my old dark brown ones used to be.
I looked down my body and saw lots of white fur up front on my chest, and lots of gray fur on my back. My arms were gray, as well as my legs, but from my shins down to my paw-like feet, as well as my forearms and hands, dipped back into white. Also, I had a black spiral on my shoulder, a bit like a tattoo, but the fur itself was black. My tail was half gray and half white, as if the gray on my back poured down onto it. It was creepy, but fascinating to me.
I looked down at my legs and feet. I had an odd-looking…thing covering what I knew was my manhood. It was completely furred over and sheathed away. Onto my legs, from the knees up they looked normal, but the white shins were crooked back oddly like dog’s legs, and my feet had become like giant paws. I remembered what they should look like but these were vastly different. They didn’t feel broken, and I tried standing on them I almost greeted the floor with my face, but I had caught myself with time to spare,'standing' on all fours.
I was fast, both my reaction time and my movement seemed to be on hyper-alert compared to what I was used to. I tried walking on all fours. It was weird, but not impossible. I stood up carefully. Incredible. I felt powerful like this, not confined to the bed any longer. I stomped the ground. My legs absorbed lots of shock and sprang back upwards a little bit. I tried walking. In seconds, I was moving forward with grace and ease. I figured out how to adjust my tail and use it to balance myself when I stretch out. I don’t know how much time had passed, but it felt like I had relearned how to move, and I was soon running as fast as the small space allowed.
A hidden door opened suddenly as I ran, and I felt something prick my furry butt. I looked down and felt woozy, and looked back at the door. I saw a man standing with a…stick? No, it was a gun. I looked down at the dart-like object embedded into my butt. I remembered something about tranquilizers as my body slowly gave out on me. The man moved me into my bed as my vision grew slowly out of focus and my strength started leaving me.
“Glad to see that you are healthy, but rest now. I want to talk to you for a bit.” His voice. It was straightforward and business-like, but somewhat friendly. It was nice to hear another voice and see a human again. “Who arrrr ou?” I flinched at my own voice, ears dropping, as I massacred my own language. “Don’t worry,” he said as he put the blanket over me, “I will help you speak, in time. Do you know what your name is?” Name? I tried remembering, but I couldn’t. The drugs weren’t helping me, either, so I shook my head ‘no’. “You are Charlie Lima. That is you.” My mind was getting woozy, and I shook my head yes before blacking out again.
‘Both subjects are doing incredibly well. They are healthy and strong, as I can tell both by the data and face-to-face.’ I wrote into my computer. I looked toward my astrologic readings on a separate computer. I was not just an incredible biologist but also an outstanding astrologist.
He passed the readings on his new equipment, showing a knot of tightly held mass in space steadily moving towards their solar system. They seemed like they would be black holes, but that couldn’t explain their energy and gravity signatures. ‘It would be years at this pace, but they will come, and their impact would be devastating. ‘And the human race’…the scientist looked at the two sleeping wolf men through his monitor from a hidden camera…‘all the races, will finally know that life does truly exist out there.’
--------the next day, Cobalt’s POV--------
Once I woke up again, there was a new person there, and he scared the living daylights out of me when I saw him sitting quietly in a chair near my bed. He smelled like warm foods, probably something to do with his slightly pudgy build, and hair gel. I settled down and sat up, using my blanket to conceal my lower half, and I suddenly realized this wasn’t even my room anymore. There was a sink and counter and mirror, just like in a hospital room. It was still white and about the same size as the old one though. There was also an open door leading to a solitary toilet.
He had a duffel bag filled with cards, a dictionary and other things that I sorta knew what they were but couldn’t remember their names. “Hello Charlie. How are you feeling?” He smiled at me and I tried copying it, showing my teeth. His eyes grew wide with surprise and a little scent of fear came over him. I stopped smiling and whimpered, my ears falling instinctively, as if I had done something wrong. Then he laughed. “Oh, don’t worry. I was just surprised by your smile.” I relaxed but I made sure I didn’t smile again.
“Srry…huhrm, whurt’s your nahme?” I stared at the top of my muzzle disapprovingly, going cross-eyed, hating how it didn’t talk how I wanted it to. The man said nothing for a bit, trying not to laugh at me. He pulled out a few cards from the duffel bag and looked at me in the eye with his smiling dark brown eyes. “My name is Jon. I want to help you speak better. More importantly I want to become your friend.” Friend? I remembered what that was, but I had just met him. I could trust him, right? He seemed nice, and there wasn’t anything really dangerous about him. By looking, hearing, and even smelling him, I could tell he was being honest. “Furends.” Jon laughed. “Friends. Try rolling your tongue less.”
In a few hours, he helped me speak better by letting me talk about myself and making corrections with my pronunciations. I made him smirk a
few times by making some jokes about random things.
I had to go to the bathroom, and I pulled off the blanket with my tail wrapped around my waist, and Jon looked quite surprised at my oddly shaped legs. “Whoa.” I wrapped the blanket around them and tried to hide them in shame. “Oh, you aren’t comfortable with yourself. You are unusual physically, but that means nothing. Inside, I know that you’re as normal as I am.” He pet me on the nose with a warm smile. I enjoyed his casual and relaxed attitude. After I went to the bathroom, I was soon less self-conscious as he told me of his past working with other people who had damaged faces and broken bodies and assured me that I was far from the worst he’s dealt with.
I eventually copied his smirk and he chuckled. “Heh. Oddly enough, you don’t look like a Charlie.” I looked in the mirror at the wolfdog-ish creature. I have no clue what a Charlie should look like but I guessed so. “I’m sure the boss wouldn’t mind if I gave you a nickname.” He pondered slightly and looked into my eyes. I looked at him, feeling a little shy. “Hmm…Cobalt. Your eyes are as blue as Cobalt.” I smiled and nodded, liking it much better than Charlie. “Sounds nice.”
He looked at his watch and then petted behind my ears with a smile. I couldn’t help but to wag my tail, smiling wide with my eyes closed “I need to go for now. It was nice meeting you. You’re a good person and I will see you later.” He left me and I felt happy that I met him, but a little sad that he was gone.
Then it hit me. I was acting like a dog. “…poop.”
The door opened again. Had it been a day already? Nope. Whoever came in doesn’t smell like Jon’s food-like smell, but rather like sweat and stress. I got to my hands and knees on my bed, my thin white blanket still draped over my head “whodat?”
The voice that answered was female. “Charlie Lima. I would like you to stand up please.” I flipped the blanket off my head and saw a female human, shorter than Jon, but very muscular for her size. “My name is Ms. Rigaldo and I shall be your training coach. You may either call me Ms. Rigaldo or Coach and only those two.” I stood up carefully, draping my blanket around me. “Yes Ms. Rigaldo.” She seemed to command respect and obedience with every move and sound she made. Even after she tore my blanket away from my body. “I need to analyze you before I can put you through any physical training.”
“Oh…so you’re my P.E. coach?” Ms. Rigaldo glared at me momentarily as she brought out the measuring tape and measured me, my arms, my legs, my waist, my torso, my head, my tail, and everything else she seemed to think of and write everything down in a yellow notepad. “Do not talk out of turn. Only speak when I ask you a question. I will be your personal trainer and I will be monitoring you to make sure you stay alive.” Well, that’s nice to know. She pocketed her measuring tape again and opened the door, a man in military armor and holding a large gun, an assault rifle, stood by. “If you would please follow me, I am going to take you to get a more thorough examination.”
I cautiously stepped out of the room. The man with the assault rifle stood next to me and I tried giving him a friendly smile to cheer him up but he stayed perfectly serious. I shrugged and kept going once Ms. Rigaldo passed me and led me to a large room, an x-ray, CAT scan, and MRI took up nearly the whole room. Everything looked new and smelled like it was brought in from somewhere else.
“Since you are among the first of a new breed, you are being tested as a base model for a new living specimen.” She spoke as I was being x-rayed “And what is my species then?” she shook her head. “That’s…still being discussed scientifically. And you’re talking out of turn again.”
We walked to another room, there were simulators off all kinds mostly flying or shooting or both. Then I got to a driving simulator. First I was in a classic military Humvee, then into a Foxhound, and then into a HEMTT A4, and in each vehicle, in each mission, I drove the trucks to their limit, and though I jeopardized the mission sometimes, the way I drove the trucks was incredible, and Ms. Rigaldo was shocked at how quickly and efficiently I finished each mission. I liked the simulator a lot, and I played it until they practically dragged me out.
A few hours had passed, no doubt to my ‘video game addiction’ Ms. Rigaldo chastised me for, but that was good, as now I can move on without being affected by the radiation I had received in the scans. Now I had to do a physical evaluation. I wasn’t too strong, but she assured me that my body would get stronger eventually.
I tipped the scales at 164 pounds, which was pathetic for being 5’10”, 6’ even at the ears, broad-shouldered, and covered in fur and with the added weight of a tail. She said that according to her calculations, that I would be about 151 pounds as a human- an anorexic weight for my size. I was given lunch to eat, which was another steak, but this time, with a number of fruits and vegetables on the side. I didn’t care, because as soon as I smelled that food I wiped the plate clean.
After letting the food digest, Ms. Rigaldo gave me a ‘full physical examination.’ They hooked all sorts of wires between me and a few machines monitoring my heart rate, blood pressure, and other things. I ran the mile in 5 minutes and 54 seconds, which was fast enough on my under developed muscles. Then I headed over to the weights. I could bench press 130 with about 12 reps, and leg press 160 at about the same. The benchmark was set, and I was wiped out, covered in sweaty fur. I was sent to another room and was greeted by a pleasant sight: a shower.
The water was colder than I would’ve liked it, but it was cool and refreshing enough to make me relax and once I was done, I was led to my room and I flopped onto the bed and fell asleep, no questions asked.
--------3 months later--------
I can speak English, Spanish, German, French, and Russian fluently, and a number of others almost fluently, and I know proper etiquette when speaking and communicating to others. I knew human history in more detail than anyone else I met, and had a natural obsession with mechanics, cars and the car industry especially, which polished off my incredible driving talent of any vehicle. My fighting skills had been drilled into me until I was pretty good. I also had a slight rock and roll addiction. What this said about the world outside here I can only guess.
I made friends with Jon, who I look up to as a father, I tried making friends with Mr. Coat, who is the person who designed me, but he seemed a little distant, though I still act friendly all the time I meet him. Ms. Rigaldo was a little less distant but still very professional. She still does constant tests on me to make sure that I am perfectly healthy and can defend myself in any situation.
Now I’m going to meet someone new. They told me that he would be a lot like me and that we would get along well, just like how I made friends with Jon. They opened the door and I was let inside a white room with two chairs and another door on the other side of the room. It opened the same time as mine did, and I saw someone that I’ll never forget.
A black wolf, almost just like me, stood at the other end of the room, and I immediately forgot every bit of etiquette I was ever taught. I ran over to him, tail wagging and smiling as large as physically possible. “Hi! Who are you? What’s your name? I like you, you’re incredible! You look a lot like me! I never thought I’d never see someone who isn’t a human, can we be friends?”
I caught myself when I saw his surprised gaze at me, as if I was the strangest creature in the world. I straightened up and stuck my hand out. “I’m Charlie Lima, but you can call me Cobalt, and it’s a pleasure to meet you!” we stared at each other for a moment. He was a few inches taller but not as broad, and had weird red streaks in his fur, mostly on his tail and tips of his hair.
He cautiously took my hand and said “Yankee Sierra. Yurei. Pleased to meet you as well.” he said coldly, eyes staring at me cynically, so I tried staying as calm and professional as possible. “So…” I desperately scrabbled in my mind for something to start a conversation with. “How are you?” I could feel my fur grow hot with embarrassment as the question suddenly sounded stupid in my ears. Yurei just shrugged “I guess I’ve been alright…” I sighed. This guy didn’t like talking very much. Then I got another idea for conversation. “So…you like The Styx?”
Well, that became the longest and most awkward conversation of my life. Almost as distant as Mr. Coat himself, Yurei did not like talking. And he probably hated me. Even though I really liked him. I’m a dork.
--------‘Mr. Coat,’ 1 week later--------
“You may have occasionally wondered why you have been training, and what you are going to do once you are done.” Mr. Coat was giving us a speech in his work area, a circular room filled top to bottom with massive supercomputers, all calculating formulas and margins of error multiple times with slightly different numbers in a never-ending stream of information. At least that’s what it looked like before my attention was caught back to Mr. Coat’s rough face and stern glare. This was only the second time he’s ever called me up and I wanted to get a better look at every awe-inspiring thing in the room.
“You two are going to work together as a special unit, and once more of you have been initiated, we will have an army that will save this planet.” I stifled a laugh. This sounded like something from an old sci-fi movie. Yes, I watched movies, thanks to Jon. I stayed stiff and silent however, Yurei standing beside me, obviously ignoring me. Then he showed me a few pictures. I was taught quite a bit about astrology, but I didn’t get the data he was showing me. They didn’t make any sense until he started explaining it. “This is a ‘black hole,’ as labeled by other scientists, that’s on the move, but it moves through the universe on a path that no one can explain. Course corrections, pieces of it falling and coming back together, it is something being controlled intelligently. And it’s searching for something.”
“Other scientists have ignored this from other areas of the globe, but I strongly push that there is an alien race coming and searching for something. If it’s us, then we are in deep shi-” “Excuse me, sir, but I have a question.” I said, raising my paw. The man sighed. “Yes Charlie?” “You’re saying that there’s life on other planets due to a high density, small size structure that’s been racing through space for years, which is probably just a big, dense asteroid, but what does that have to do with us?” the man sighed “If you hadn’t stopped me I would have explained that. So far, you two are the only experiments based off Project AnTHRROS in 12 years.”
I raised my paw again, but just kept my mouth shut. The scientist looked at me again. “Yes Charlie?” I let out a tiny sigh of relief before asking. “What’s anthros?” the scientist sighed and leaned against the corner of a supercomputer. “AnTHRROS stands for Anthropomorphic Trained Human Rescue & Reserve Operation Soldiers. Which is what you are, and you are the first successful creations of that project. You don’t need to know anything more about it. Now, save the questions for the end.”
He continued talking about the suspected ‘alien ship’ and how we were meant to protect humans with greater speed and more efficiency than the humans could protect themselves. It’s then that I realized what’s happening. We’re going to go off and fight aliens and probably die. Hooray.
Chapter 3 “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”
--------2 days later, Cobalt’s POV--------
There was banging on the door. I knew the concept of knocking, but this was a little much. I sat up groggily from my sleep as the lights automatically lit up, just enough to light the room without blinding me. “I’m coming, I’m coming. Jeez…” I stepped closer to the door, and then it suddenly burst open, smacking my arm with enough force to send me back a foot. “OW! I was going to get the door for you-!” the person who kindly broke down my door tackled me and I felt a prick in my arm and felt more tired than I already was. Adrenaline was beginning to course through my veins and I did my best to stay conscious. Things blurred and I heard shouting accompanied by a decent amount of swearing, though it all felt underwater.
I was being dragged through the hallway by my arm now, and I tried blinking to see things clearly, but I couldn’t move anything. And I was getting quite a case of road rash the base of my tail, thank you person. I saw all the rooms, and everything I knew was broken into and torn apart. I saw bodies lying on the floor. Three familiar humans. I couldn’t tell if they were dead or unconscious, and I tried to hope for the best…
…but in my heart, I could only feel the worst. I blacked out.
I woke up in a way different room. This one was bright, but not because of the perpetual light gray paint, but because of thousands of giant monitors lined up against a single wall lighting up the massive blue-gray room. There was a coat of arms on each of the three other walls, and people milling about in the distance, separated by aisles of huge computers controlling and monitoring what seemed to be the entire world.
“Welcome to the Special Weapons And Tactics team, AKA S.W.A.T.” A man stood up a few feet away and stood at attention, addressing me. I then saw that I was in a very large and clean glass box, with a few holes on the side and on the top. I got up, feeling sore, and walked over to him “The S.W.A.T. team? What is that?” the man stiffened a little, probably shocked both that I spoke English as well as I did and that I’ve never heard of what is apparently a huge operation…thing.
“The S.W.A.T. are specialized soldiers that aid the wimpier police forces in whatever ways are necessary. We protect the world from anyone abusing their rights or breaking the laws in ways the normal police are not prepared for and in places the military cannot get to in time.”
I looked down at me in the reflection of the glass. My fur was messed up and there were a few bandages on my arm and tail, and once again, I was in my birthday suit. “What did you do with me? And where are my friends?” the man looked at me with a smile and pointed to a box about 40 feet away, towards the other end of the room, where a familiar black figure sat in similar condition to me. “Right there. He woke up a few hours ago and has been on edge ever since.” I shook my head. “That’s Yurei…where is Jon? And Coach Rigaldo?” the man took a step back and looked down. “Jon Everett and Sarah Rigaldo both tried to use force to stop us from taking over the facility. You do know what the situation was?”
I sat down and bit my lip. My eyes watered up and the world stopped for me. I cried, with little bits sounding like a howl. The man just stood there. He didn’t try to comfort me or tell me anything more. These guys shot the only friends I had… “Why? What did they do that was so wrong? Why did you have to take over and kill everyone?” my voice sounded broken and didn’t work right. The man stood there. “The lead scientist, Dr. Rothguard, had violated several human rights with a number of projects, including yours.”
A flash memory appeared right before my eyes. I was driving a small truck of some sort in a suburban area, going very fast around a corner, and there was a giant military truck, a Lenco BearCat, and I crashed into it…was this my life? Was that what Mr. Lab Coat said about possibly having shared memories with…the human I was based on… “I was dead…and he brought me back to life.” The man stood there. “I am sorry to hear that you had the…unfortunate experience of losing someone who saved your life, but he was a criminal. He had lied to and tortured many volunteers in past experiments. He tried to kill us as well.”
“You attacked him…but…” I stood up, and looked at him square in the eye. “Swear to me that this is the truth. That he did those things.” The man looked at me flatly. “He has. We have numerous records of his experiments, now updated and backed up by his own journal logs. He was an inhumane and possibly demented person, though he never allowed anyone to test him.”
I looked away from him. I didn’t want to believe it…but he was like that. He was a distant person…and science was he only thing he pursued. He didn’t really care about us personally. Only what we could accomplish. I sat down, and stayed there for a while. “What’s your name?” “Jack. I am your “handler”, as you can call it. I will take responsibility for your actions while helping you try to fit in with the military and society. ” I didn’t look up at him. “Thank you.” I stayed there for a while, just trying to accept it, mourning my loss. It must’ve been an hour until I finally spoke again. “Can you move me over by Yurei?”
--------An Hour Later--------
We were moved next to each other. I sat at the wall closest to his box. He was sitting as far away as possible, with his back turned on me. I tried saying hi, but I could hardly speak loud enough to hear myself. We sat forever. Then my stomach spoke up for me. I punched it to try to make it stop gurgling, but it had its mind made up and kept gurgling for another 20 seconds straight. I don’t even know how long it’s been since I’ve eaten…
I heard a soft chuckle. “Yurei?” the black wolf didn’t move. I could tell he was hungry, too. “…wanna see if we’ll get some food?” I asked quietly. His body heaved slightly with a silent sigh. “Yeah...” I got up quietly and went to a hole in the glass “Hello? Can we get some food please?” a man in a white lab coat stopped while walking past us. “What was the name of the person that is supposed to take care of you?” I gulped as memories of the man in the lab coat spun. “Jack. That was his name.” he stepped away in though and then nodded “I will pass it on and see if you can get fed.” He went along his way and soon enough we were served food that I didn’t even take the time to look at. It tasted funny, but it was good enough and helped fill me up.
Yurei’s food was gone almost as soon as mine was. I tried talking to him again. “Yurei?” he didn’t answer me. “Are we the good guys or the bad guys?” his ear twitched, but he didn’t respond. I whimpered and curled into a ball on the glass floor of the box. I wish we could be friends.
“Well, what are we going to do with these two?” Jack sat at a table with a range of varied heads of the S.W.A.T. and other military branches and trusted scientists, with the Supreme Director of the S.W.A.T. standing at the head of the table. A monitor behind him showed video feed of the two AnTHRROS. “These beings are fully conscious and have intelligent thought, and are quite possibly neurologically the same as us humans. I know full well that our science intelligence group wants to experiment on them and they will be allowed to do so. But before they do that, we have to figure out what are the limits. I don’t want Humanities coming and firing everyone because we did a test that the Geneva Convention didn’t like. So I decided to open it up to you. What do you decide for these men?”
Jack stood up first, with a commanding stare over the others. “I have spoken to both. It appears that they were humans before the madman turned them into their present state, so I stand firmly on the act that we should treat them that way. They seem to hold emotional attachment to the doctor, and as one put it, ‘he brought him back to life.’ Now what the clear meaning of that is in the data we’ve recovered from the lab, which we are decoding right now. But we must consider that these beings are definitely people, and likely as human as any of us, despite their outward appearance. What I say we need to do is to follow the standard procedure for human testing and play it safe until we find out more about these men.”
He looked around the board. Some muttered agreement. Others were thoughtful, and some were shaking their head no. Jack sat down and settled in for another longer-than-necessary debate. This decision, however, has two irreplaceable lives at stake. If done correctly, these two could change the world.
We sat there for hours. I have no idea what’s going on, except that I needed to pee badly. As in leg shaking bad. A guard had been posted at our glass boxes and I carefully got up to go to him “Excuse me, sir, but can I please use the bathroom? My bladder is going to explode if I don’t.” he stiffened at the word ‘explode’ and called a few guards over and they unlocked a very large lock on the corner of the glass box, and the entire glass wall slid to make an opening wide enough for me to walk through. The two men had their hands on their guns as they commanded me out. I got a very stringent escort to the bathrooms, which seemed to last an eternity as my bladder nearly popped. I thought they were going to shoot me if I bounced around too much, which led to me nearly turning the hallway into a yellow river.
When I got back, I tried to make Yurei feel a little better with a joke about the escort to the bathroom, but he didn’t budge. Typical Yurei… it kinda ticked me off that he didn’t like me. I just let it pass as usual, even as boredom set in. in an hour, we were called out of the boxes and ordered to follow the dozen or so guards that were our escort. We followed them down a different hallway into a large room with about two dozen people sitting at a giant table in a giant, official looking room. I saw Jack in one of the chairs and he stood up.
“I present to you the men in question. I cannot exaggerate how much these two think and act like every other human, and there is a very good reason for that. I have been notified that our computer team has found the encryption codes to the scientific data and have found out that these men were designed around not just a human brain, but an entire human body. These men look different because of the scientific enhancements but make no mistake that these MEN are as human as you and me.”
Jack sat down and another man I have never seen before stood up. “Let us see how human these men are. Black wolf, can you speak?” “Yes, sir.” Yurei spoke quickly and lowly, and I got the sense that most people didn’t hear him well. “Silver wolf, can you speak?” I smirked and spoke loudly with a touch of sarcasm. “I can speak fluent English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Hebrew, and Norwegian. Take your pick.” The men around the table were slightly shocked at my voice and my tone. The man standing cleared his throat “and do you have a name?” “I do indeed. My friend named me Cobalt Lukather. My…colleague’s name is Yurei Sakoor. Our friend was Jon.” Yurei shot me a look, but I ignored him. Let’s see how he likes being ignored too. The man was slightly shaken by my casual, snippy tone, but he continued his questions.
“And do you consider yourself a human?” I stood quietly for a second, piercing the men with a stare and smirk that Jon called ‘soul-threatening.’ “Well, let’s see. I remember dying in a rather bad motorcycle crash, a human making a human mistake, and waking up in a lab covered in fur and wagging a tail. Would you consider yourself to be a human had you been me?” the man stood back and looked down, biting his lip. “You are, as we see, a completely different species. Not applicable to human rights.”
“Can I get a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ please?” I stared at him until he looked at me again. “I am the negro child from the 1940s begging for equal rights, aren’t I? I consider myself look a bit different, but under the surface, I am as human as the guy holding the gun at my tail.” I said, jerking a thumb at my escort behind me.
The man stood down. I saw that he was thinking of ways to twist my words, but I know that my tone spoke for itself. I was quite human in that presentation, and I knew it by the tension in the air as half of the guards escorted me back to the glass box. Yurei was told to stay put, and the other half dozen of guards stayed with him. I guess they wanted a model that wasn’t as snappy as I was. I sat in my box, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw three man walk up with a large carrying cart walk to Yurei’s box, and they loaded it onto it and carried it away. “Where’s Yurei going to..?” I asked silently.
Yurei came back half an hour later but his box hadn’t. I was partially shocked when they opened my box and ordered Yurei to go in. He hesitated for quite a bit, and I just sat wondering if he’d enter or rather be shot than to be in the same box as me. A gun to the back shoved him in and the door slid shut behind him and was locked. He just stood there, making sure he was in the opposite corner of me. He eventually sat on the glass floor and I tried being friendly again. “Well… Hi?” Yurei’s ears twitched and he growled out a reply. “Hi.”
I scooted closer to him, head low. “Yurei? Why do you hate me?” his ears twitched again and he turned his entire body away from me, showing me only his backside. All the frustration from every time he ignored me were creeping up in me “Yurei, please tell me why you ignore me all the time? Why can’t we be friends?” I scooted close enough to him to almost touch him. He glared at me from the corner of his eye, daring me to come closer. “Yurei..?” the hate coming off him was crushing.
I leaned in closer. And Yurei finally moved. Very fast. I was blown back before I even felt the pain of his fist in my forehead. I brought up my arms quickly, only just blocking a follow up attack to my chest, and then rolled sideways and up to my feet, and he was on my back before I even saw him move. I jumped forward, dragging him with me as he put me in a hold, and I rolled forward with him on my back, hitting his head on the floor and slamming his legs into the wall.
I was stronger than him, but he was much faster and moved with a coordination that seemed physically impossible, even for me. The pain from his first hit dulled quickly as he clawed me, and the pain and the frustration mixed into an adrenaline that made me fight harder. He clawed at my stomach as I pried my body weight against his legs, pinning him to the wall, and then I spun, shoving an elbow into his sides as he twisted around and pounced onto me again.
Guards were yelling at us throughout the whole fight, but we didn’t stop until an AK was fired, and the bullet embedded itself in the bulletproof glass inside the box, inches away from us. I saw Jack pointing the assault rifle through a hole in the box, his expression stony and demanding respect. I gulped hard and tried to escape Yurei’s grip, but he didn’t let go of me.
Jack was the first to speak. “Alright, what is going on here?” I tried speaking, but Yurei growled and tossed me to the ground as I loosened up. “I am made to fight. I cannot be contained with others.” I huffed. “Such pride. All I wanted was a half decent conversation if any talking at all.” Jack stared at us. “You boys need to learn to get along with each other.” He stepped into the glass box confidently, and sat down, the AK-74 locked and loaded across his lap.
The conversation that followed is noted personally as my second most awkward conversation yet.
I stood up, dressed in very plain white clothes that didn’t quite fit my anatomy, but I stood stiffly still as the poorly shaped pant legs cramped up and made me get yet another wedgie. Yurei was placed at the opposite end of the quarter mile oval track, and we got ready for yet another race. For two hours, we’ve been at this, and we were both dripping with sweat as the starter gun fired off again. 5 minute miles, with 40 pound weighted backpacks strapped to us, as a sit in for standard military packs and five pound weights on our arms and legs, also strapped to us were heart rate and mental activity monitors that were omnipresent in every test. And they itched.
We were off again. Each time Yurei beat me, but by a little less each time. Five minutes of hard pounding racing later, and another mile had passed. Yurei had a 5:09, I had a 5:12. I grabbed a bottle of glucose-tainted water and drank it and ate an energy-rich bar of unknown substances as Yurei did the same on the other side of the track. 5 minutes of walking and 5 minutes of sitting, and we were both ready to go again.
That went on for 5 hours total, and only then because we were beginning to drag behind into 6 minute miles.
After that we were allowed the rest of the day to rest. It had been a week since these guys had brought us in, and they wanted to know our limits better than we ever did ourselves. We were both getting bigger, muscle-wise, but also very sore, both in body and personality. Yurei still never said a kind word to me, and I stopped caring about it. He was my competition now.
The next day was something of a surprise to us. We weren’t given monitors like last time, but instead we were put into an empty glass-walled room about the size of a boxing ring. Cameras were placed behind very thick glass with scientists with electronic notepads next to their machines. A hidden speaker yelled at us once we were locked into the room “Yurei Sakoor, please go to the red corner! Cobalt Lukather, please go to the blue corner! Again, Yurei to the red, Cobalt to the blue!”
We went into our corners and two lab-coated scientists came out and gave us gloves and socks with blunt, hard plastic that covered our claws on our fingers and toes. It became obvious what they wanted us to do.
The scientists exited and locked the room. The speaker blared at us again “Fight begins in 5…4…3…2…1…GO!”
Yurei charged at me. I charged at him. We both lowered ourselves and ran straight at each other. I knew I could out-power Yurei. But I also knew that he wouldn’t let me get into that position. We got inches from each other and Yurei launched his feet forward and slid under me, grabbing my leg and attempting to pull it out from under me. I expected this, however, and leaned away from him and used his momentum to bring me back in an attack with a hard, high punch to the stomach. Except he saw that coming as well; he blocked it by making an x with his arms and rolled away with the momentum of my punch, backing away and getting into a crouched position. I got low as well, as I knew that standing straight up exposes my stomach and neck, which means death.
Yurei snaked his way to me like a crab. I backed away in the same style, and we studied each other for quite some time. I knew that if I could keep the same amount of distance between us, he would charge eventually. And he did with lightning speed. I readied myself, knowing I couldn’t dodge it, and got a lucky block in and strong-armed him to the side, grabbing him by the shoulder as he then punched my ribs. It hurt, but I still delivered a hard elbow to the gut, and he lost strength and the air from his lungs, and I twisted, putting my legs on his side and kicked off against him, spinning us into different directions.
As I flipped backwards to my feet, Yurei was on me again with almost as much speed as before, and attacked with a kick to my shin, rocking my leg. I instantly put my weight on the other and shot up at him, but he dodged and put an elbow to my back, and I hit the ground and rolled away, knowing I needed to be more efficient as he came at me and attacked me again. I curled into a ball and he kicked me again and again, and then began laughing as he did so. That infuriated me more than the pain. I jumped up at him again, this time taking him by surprise and I delivered a blow to his head before he could move out of the way.
He stood dazed for a second, and I swept his legs out from him and lunged at him, but he grabbed and locked my arms with his, trying to throw me away from him. I grasped his arms and picked him up with my own momentum and we both smashed into the glass hard, a crack appearing where our shoulders hit it, but we continued on without regard. The red mist had descended, and we were both taking more hits, each one harder and bloodier than the last. Our noses were both bleeding and other points where hard hits were taken to and where scrapes had torn skin. We were beating each other to death.
The speaker was blaring at us, but neither cared at what it said. Out of the corner of my eye, as Yurei attempted to strangle me, I saw two people walk in, and they pointed Tasers at us, but before I could show Yurei, both of us were being tased. We hit the ground. The medical team came to us and began injecting painkillers and tranquilizers into us as we were moved onto stretchers, and hauled out of the room.
I hoped to never see that room again.
--------5 hours later, Jack’s POV--------
Yurei and Cobalt had been placed on white beds next to each other in the infirmary. Their noses and scratches were being bandaged and they were being analyzed for any broken bones. Thankfully, neither had achieved to do that, most likely thanks to their tougher-than-normal bodies than anything, especially Cobalt’s reinforced bone structure. The doctors told me that if their bodies had been as tough as a normal human’s, they would have been paralyzed rather than bruised.
The doctors left them as night fell and they caught a little sleep. I watched the two from behind a glass wall, watching my iPad as information from Dr’ Rothguard’s lab was continually decoded. He put many different encriptions on everything he had “Hey Yurei?” I heard one ask, the drugs making him talk funny. I looked up as Yurei grunted and shifted slightly away from Cobalt, laying on his side with his back to him. “Good fight.” I saw Yurei relax a little with a small sigh. I stared at the two, swollen where they had hit each other. Yurei did nothing for a while, but he eventually said “Good fight, yourself,” back to him. I grinned. And then I heard a chuckle came out from Cobalt, becoming small laughs.
Yurei turned over to Cobalt and stared at him as if he had gone crazy. “They gave you too many painkillers.” Cobalt burst into laughter and nodded, Yurei beginning to laugh as well. As they laughed, I chuckled as well. I hope this will put them on friendlier terms now.
--------one day later, Cobalt’s POV--------
Next day, another maze, more bad lab clothes and monitors. Now we really were oversized lab rats in a maze. Yurei started at one end, I started at the other, and we had to race to the finish. A small scent trail had been placed for each of us, and we had to follow it through. It was going well at first, and we were being placed against each other, our wins almost equal. After an hour, they got really crazy with the maze, and as I ran around a corner, I ran straight into Yurei, who was crouched down, making me trip and fly into the wall as well as knocking him off his feet.
Yurei yelled at me “What’s your problem?!” I was upside down with my butt plugging a hole in the wall was the big one, but I decided to shut up. “Hey, I’m just trying to get out faster than you. Now, if you could be a sport and help me out of this wall…” Yurei held up a handpaw. “The scent trails intersect here. I was trying to find out which one is fresher.” I stuck my tongue out at him, and tried wiggling out of the wall, but I was stuck too deep in it. “Thanks for the tip. Now if I could actually move, that would be a BIG help.” Yurei laughed. “Yeah, right. Later, Cobalt.” He ran off and I sighed. I was quite sick of being stuck before all my blood had rushed to my head, but it looked like no one was coming. “HELP?! ASSISSTANCE NEEDED! STUCK IN A WALL HERE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!”
I yelled like that for a few minutes, but no one came. Until suddenly, I felt a hard punch to my butt. After three punches, I was out. I stared through the hole to see Yurei with a small smirk on his face. “You’re lucky the path led here. Now stop whining and move it.” I got up, and stuck my tongue out at him and mocked him “Yeah thanks, you just ruined my sexy butt.” Yurei laughed “You’re an idiot. I guess that’s why I take a little pity on you.” I dove through the wall and picked up the scent trail almost immediately “Last one to the finish massages the winner’s butt!” Yurei darted after me “As if!”
As we ran, he tried passing me, but I blocked him, laying on all the speed I could as I ducked to check the scent trail at speed. Yurei took his opportunity by jumping onto my back and vaulting himself in front of me. He tried to get away, but I grabbed his tail and pulled him backwards and shoved him into the wall, putting him behind me once again. “Hey!” he yelled! “All is fair!” I tucked my tail between my legs so he couldn’t get a grip on it and pull the same move I did, and we rounded the last corner, the exit straight ahead. Yurei scrabbled for the lead, and eventually found a space to pry himself between me and the wall, shoving each other as he made ground and we came out at nearly the same time.
The scientists were talking among themselves, in deep argument about violations. I laid on my back on the floor, and Yurei sat next to me. “Wimp.” He stared at me as I splayed myself out on the floor. “Slowpoke.” I shot back, eyes closed as I relaxed. We laughed a little bit as the names flew until a scientist came back to us. “There were multiple violations in that race…Cobalt Lukather, you are disqualified for becoming stuck, moving illegally through a wall, and blocking and slowing down your opponent. Yurei Sakoor, you are disqualified for assisting your rival and blocking and slowing your opponent as well.”
“So we both lost? Get real, I totally won that race.” I laughed at him and Yurei kicked me lightly in the leg “You must be blind, I beat you hands-down.” The scientist sighed and went away. I got onto my feet and smiled at Yurei. He gave the tiniest of smiles back.
--------an hour later, Jack’s POV--------
Jack came by and sat with us. “We have some information from Dr. Rothguard’s laboratory and I decided to take it upon myself to tell you it.” I scooted closer to Jack as my ears perked up at what he had to say. “There was a purpose for the doctor’s creation for you two, though it was one that is never going to happen. He saw a high mass, low volume meteor moving very quickly through space but thought it to be aliens, as he’s had obsessions with aliens as far back as our record of him goes. That’s why he became a brilliant scientist in both biology and aerospace.” Yurei dipped his head. “Sir, we already know this.” Jack nodded and moved on.
“Something I found particularly interesting was your competitiveness and your relationship to each other. Any guesses why?” Cobalt shrugged “We were raised in a lab, so I don’t think we exactly had the ideal homegrown American family going on.” I rolled my eyes. The ‘ideal homegrown American family’ seemed to have vanished over 60 years ago. “You two were combined from two individuals and two pups. The first were human bodies from a fatal accident that had gone unclaimed and unidentified, and you were then passed through for scientific experimentation. So you knew each other before this time. You also had life given to you through cells with mixed DNA. You were part human and part wolf from conception. The most interesting thing about it, though, is that you had the same mother wolf. DNA shows a fair amount of similarity. Not much but it’s there.”
They looked stunned. “Wait, so… we’re half-brothers?” Yurei stared at me and Jack continued “I’m not so sure. You were in the same crash together, and about the same age and you both took the experiment nearly the same way. I believe that may hint that you were brothers there, too.” They were silent. They stared at each other, and then they stared at me.
“Here is your first mission, good luck. Code word is Court.” We sat in the helicopter, checking our harnesses while in helmets custom fit for our heads, sitting on motorcycles, Yurei’s a classic cop bike and mine a smaller, sportier red bike. We had been over the routine, and were now going into a SWAT secured perimeter to engage target. Our tails were tucked inside our baggy pants that also disguised our legs. Yurei’s outfit looked very cop-like, with black leather jacket and jeans all around, while I was dressed far more like a civilian, with a yellow jacket and black jeans.
The helicopter landed on a remote part of the beach on Lake Michigan, close to a firmly packed dirt path that would take us to the road, and from there we would intercept the target on his way to dinner. It was the season of fall, where the wind was cold and ice and snow was on its way.
We rode the bikes onto the firm sand, and drove carefully onto the dirt path. I headed off towards the target, while the copter flew away again. Yurei took the north fork in the road, I headed southwest. The radio in my helmet came to life crystal clear, Jack speaking “Target is mobile, heading north. Stay on current course.” I smiled. Not just because of my first mission, but because of the superbike I was on.
I was swung low over the red and white striped superbike. Although I didn’t get my favorite bike, the Aprilia RS3, the little Kawasaki Ninja 500R fit my need and our project’s budget as well. It was not as powerful as I would like, but it still had a bit of spunk.
I waited around a bend, listening for an engine. I heard it coming. Jack buzzed to life again. “Move in now. Enact stall.”
I surged the bike forward and came around a bend towards a poorly placed intersection, with only one dim street light in the distance, walls lining either side of the narrow road with both roads turning at sharp curves, creating a very large blind corner. I stopped momentarily, and then moved out into the road at the right time- right in front of the underboss’s Mercedes Benz. The driver of the large black German sedan slammed on the brakes, and the car pitched to slow down, but still hit me at a low speed- only just enough to knock the bike onto its side.
I got off the bike and yelled at the driver, standing up and walking my bike as a crutch, pretending that my ankles were shot, and hitting the car until the driver, an older Caucasian male in a black tux, came out. I had the biggest tantrum about injuries and insurance, and pulled out a prop phone to call the cops. As I yelled into the phone, I knew I was not calling the real cops. I was calling Yurei.
Yurei came over, flashing fake police lights and looking over the vehicles as I shouted and grumbled miserably. Yurei pretended to begin writing a ticket and asked for the person in the back of the Benz to come out, and he did, shorter and wider than the first but also sharply dressed. It seems that if they had any evidence on them, it was well hidden or not even in the car.
Yurei wrote them up and said that there will be a court hearing, and at this I pulled out my gun to the driver, and Yurei pulled his out at the passenger, moving forward at them and beginning to handcuff them. Yurei began reading the Miranda Rights to the two hostages, and I smiled confidently. Our first mission had gone as smooth as silk, I thought. And that’s when I jinxed it. A sniper shot bounced off my helmet, ricocheting off my muzzle and sending me sprawling to the side. The driver of the Benz sprang into action, taking out a knife, grabbing my Uzi and cutting it off the strap in an almost simultaneous fashion, firing wildly at me and Yurei, forcing us to back off as the two got into the car and tore away.
Yurei saw the muzzle flash of the sniper and took his rifle out of the bike’s saddlebag, cocking and shooting within seconds of the sniper’s fire. The sound of a body tumbling down the steep hillside, tearing through the bushes let us know his aim was perfect. He fired three more rounds at the Benz as it turned around the corner, and I hopped onto my bike, Yurei following behind.
The car hadn’t gone far. I let Yurei get ahead of me and he fired off rounds at the tires with his pistol, but they were run-flats and didn’t pop, and then he aimed at the glass and body panels. Bulletproof. This did not look good for us. I sped up and smashed into the side of the big heavy car. It was fruitless as I scratched my bike and was nearly thrown off. Jack was yelling at us through the radio to guide him to the southern SWAT perimeter, but I wasn’t going to let my prey away. My prey.
I signaled for Yurei to give me his gun and he tossed it to me. I sped in front of the car on the inside of a sharp corner, and hopped off my bike onto the hood of the car, using my claws to stay glued to the car’s smooth sheetmetal. The bike spun off and smashed into a wall, riderless. I punched the grill of the car, and shot several bullets into the engine bay of the Mercedes. The car’s engine shuddered and the man hit his brakes.
I flew off, rolling sideways and then running after the car. I must’ve hit something important, because the car shuddered and soon ground to a halt, the engine smoking and alarm blaring. Yurei loaded in an explosive round on his rifle, and fired it at the driver’s door handle, blowing it up and making the door swing open.
The driver and passenger began firing at us, and unloaded their clips as we ducked for cover. We moved in at full speed as soon as shots stopped firing, disarming the two simultaneously and cuffing them. They made the mistake of running out of ammo at the same time and we took full advantage of it. They were resistant for a few seconds but as they were entirely disarmed, they gave in.
We called in the helicopter, and Jack gave us the scolding of our lives. A smooth and quiet arrest was turned to disaster on our first go. I wanted to say that the sniper was a surprise, but we were given no remorse and weren’t allowed to speak for ourselves. I was also punished for smashing my 6,000 dollar bike beyond repair on a suicide maneuver that the SWAT blockade down the road would’ve done for us.
The mission was a technical success, but we had failed to meet the standards they had wanted to see in us.
Needless to say, it was a long helicopter ride home.
--------1 year later, Cobalt’s POV--------
“We’ve had your equipment upgraded for this and future missions. Believe me when I say you will need them.”
“Alright, so show us the gold already!” I was itching to see the upgrades- we rarely ever had our equipment upgraded, so this was like Christmas for us. Jack led us to the armaments bay, and straight to a table filled with guns and blades of all kinds. “Choose all the guns you want.”
That set me off like a child saying he could have everything he could grab in a candy store. I grabbed two Berretta 92F pistols straightaway, and then two KAC PDW submachine guns, and four of the ten bowie knives, 2 Ka-Bar 16 inch long blades and 2 Death Adder 6 inch blades. As I scrambled to get a SCAR-L sniper rifle to add to my collection, I saw a sawed-off M134 Gatling gun with a strap similar to what you’d find on a satchel. I wanted it so bad, but I knew I couldn’t carry it, and I had no vehicle to mount it to.
At least, not yet.
The 92Fs went into two gun holsters on either side of my pockets, and then the PDWs were put on the upper inside pockets of my jacket, and the bowie knives were placed in sheaths built into my pants’ shins. The SCAR-L was placed in the holster on the inside of my jacket, right behind my head and before I knew it, I had all the guns I could carry.
Jack tapped me on the shoulder “You have so many guns, you don’t have space for any ammo.” I pondered for a second, but I refused to give up. I took a black Jansport hiking backpack and then I slipped a smoke bomb, a flash bomb, a Kolokov-7 grenade and a CL-20 grenade onto the smaller side pocket. I then began filling the insides with all the ammo I could fit: 10 60-round boxes of ammo for the PDWs, 10 32-round boxes for the 92Fs, 5 boxes of 30 armor piercing rounds, as well as one incendiary, for the SCAR-L, and I quickly ran out of places. I must’ve put on a 45 pounds of equipment, but I had never felt stronger than this, fully loaded.
Yurei saw me and smirked “Are you figuring on replacing half the army?” I stuck my tongue right back out at him “Do this enough and we’ll be the first line of defense.” Yurei shook his head “These will be enough.” He showed me his Uzi and his Desert Eagle, then swapped the Uzi for a Glock 17 with a silencer. Then he holstered both and pulled out a precision-sharp Mukansa-stylekatana, a deep black carbon fiber finish. “But this is all I need.”
I laughed. “Don’t come whining to me when you run out of ammo!”
We had new bikes as well. I had worked on them myself, a V8 Harley Davidson and a turbocharged Ducati 1199. The Harley Superlow, brought in 2 years ago as a retired police bike, and still looked like an average black cop bike, but with a much wider rear tire and a longer swing arm, and a custom-made 3.0 liter V8 (a heavily modified small block Chevy cut down to less than half the height and stroke) pushing 500 horses at the rear wheel on the dyno.
Then there’s my little red Ducati 1199 Superleggera, an expensive bike intercepted in a past mission only a few months ago, with the two-stroke engine turbocharged to shove 400 horsepower at the crank while keeping the weight down, a little over 200 pounds shy of the Harley’s weight. Top speed goes to the Harley, but the Ducati’s power to weight and cornering ability is supersonic.
Both our bikes were machines of insane speed and performance, above and beyond most cars and motorcycles in the world. Our guns were the best the world had to offer. It seemed like there was no one in the world to match us.
The two AnTHRROS were more than happy with their new weapons and rides. Cobalt had never looked as ecstatic when he had when he was finally given the go-ahead to tune and use the bikes, as well when he was got his new weapons.
Jack smiled, sitting on his desk. He knew that other upgrades were coming soon…just not ones they would carry in the same way. Dr. Rothguard was insanely clever. Or cleverly insane. Or both. The DNA design in their two new operatives had almost no possible ways to improve their design. Not to mention the added power that they had. Cobalt’s was easier to do…relatively. Yurei’s required incredible consistency and biological programming verging on the very limits of science itself. They had spent all these years double and triple checking the formulas, completing them, and rechecking and retesting them.
They were complete.
But they had one last mission in their schedule.
--------The next day, Cobalt’s POV--------
“Hey, Yurei?” I was walking my bike to the cargo copter as it warmed up, where we would be briefed with all the details. Yurei flicked an ear, though he continued looking dead ahead. “You think we’re ever going to die?” Yurei’s ear twitched, dropping slightly. He was focused on only one thing, and that was the mission and apparently, I had touched a soft spot. “I thought so.”
The bikes were strapped to the center of the cargo bay, and we sat in the bay’s seats, suited up, helmet on for me, sunglasses on for Yurei, and radios linked. My outfit had been unchanged since my first mission, apart from advanced armor in the jacket and pants, and stitching a small bee on the back, dashing from my left shoulder blade to my right one. Yurei, however, had been decked out in the latest military armor shoulders down. He refused to wear a helmet, but the sunglasses had all the functions my helmet did. He had a black leather jacket over a bulletproof vest, and black pants similar to my own. But unlike my clothes, his would become invisible on a small electric charge.
The TV in the cargo bay remotely flicked on and Jack’s enlarged face showed on the screen. He skipped all formalities “You’re going to be infiltrating a major drug ring known for smuggling cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines from a multitude of countries and selling them predominantly in the states. We have the evidence we need to justify a raid, but we need a large-scale raid to capture all involved, which we intend to do. We are sending you because we are fully confident in your ability to wipe them clean off the face of the earth.”
“We spotted a large shipment of drugs as they were received and we know it’s more than enough to justify even the most brutal raids. Your target is a large factory in the abandoned downtown area of Detroit, formerly a Nike shoe plant, the address is already programmed into your helmets’ GPS systems. You have no casualty limit, but use common sense around civilians. There may be a few slaves…people buy drugs with anything these days. Try not to kill any more than you need to but keep a lookout for Terrell. We…highly prefer to have him alive than dead.”
A scarred, familiar face appeared next to Jack’s. Black, muscular, rough, with some scars on his cheek, and a haircut that perfected his ghetto look. He looked familiar…like the face I had thought was mine. Maybe, just maybe…he knew our past.
Jack continued. “Make sure no one leaves. We want each and every one either in custody or deceased. That’s why you have your vehicles with you. Let anyone a half mile out and we take over the operation ourselves. Commander Jack, signing off. Don’t screw up.” The TV screen shut off and the room went dim, the running lights low.
Chapter 6: you can run on for a long time, run on for a long time, run on for a long time, but sooner or later God’ll cut you down. ()
The helicopter landed 10 miles away from the warehouse. Yurei went on ahead, and I followed suit. The bikes massive power ached for more speed than the dirty, night-laden suburban roads could allow us. The suburbs soon began giving way to sparser land, wildlife growing on either side of the poorly paved and aged old concrete as houses soon became larger and more spread apart.
In no time at all, we had rode right up to the driveway of the mansion. We drove past it without stopping, and went around the corner. We saw the perfect guise for out motorcycles, an old tightly packed dirt path leading past the thick trees lining road and into an automotive graveyard of an abandoned house’s yard. A rickety shed surrounded by several rusted old hulls and shells of cars and trucks, all from the 50’s onto the 70’s. The bikes were laid up against the shed, hidden from all angles and easy to retreat to if need be.
Yurei walked up to the house, a shadow in the nighttime trees. His black bulletproof outfit was modified from those of the riot police, entirely black. His red bangs and yellow eyes were covered his black sunglasses and his red tailtip was covered in equally black cloth. The moon, covered by clouds, could not shed enough light to portray him at all as he snuck around in only the darkest shadows. I had to switch on my heat sensors in my contrasting white helmet to see him as I hid in the distance, my SCAR-L sniper rifle at the ready.
Yurei looked at every possible way to enter the mansion. Intel counted 74 points of possible entry, and of them, 32 were approachable, and 12 of those were likely to not get us killed. Then Yurei counted a 75th way to enter, and quite arguably the best. He slipped inside a broken wooden panel as if he were a snake, silent and undetected and leaving no trace he was even there.
I adjusted my heat sensors to pick up more sensitive heat signatures, burning through the walls like x-ray vision. Outside, the air was a chill 54 degrees out. Inside, the climate control held the large mansion at a steady 71 degrees. Heat vision worked well, but it had its limits. The human shapes were very blurred, but I could tell that there were a lot of them.
“Heat vision is screwy, Red Ghost. All I can say is that there’s a LOT of red shapes.” Yurei whispered back, his voice barely audible for the microphone to pick up. “Copy, Yellow Jacket. Going to ask for a distraction so I can get out of the wall.” I smiled “Raccoons always were one of my favorite creatures…”
Yeah, I tipped the garbage cans and ran. The guards that were near Yurei’s position walked over to investigate the noise and I was long gone by the time they opened the door. Yurei shuffled visibly in my heat vision, and appeared to exit through a loose panel in the wall, and placed it back quickly, unsheathing his razor-sharp katana…looking at it wrong can cut you.
He was inside.
The first to go were the two guards. Yurei snuck behind them as they stood close together, and with a single quick slash, he cut both their necks cleanly, and caught the bloody thugs before they hit the ground, lowering them gently to keep them from making a sound. They were dead before they even felt the pain. Yurei moved on. He counted 4 kills before he ran out of targets that he could eliminate without blowing his cover. Then someone shrieked.
Someone upstairs saw the bodies.
I tossed my rifle aside and ran to the house, a 200 yard sprint, as Yurei pulled out his gun from behind his corner and plugged the man between his eyes with his pistol. I tossed a grenade at the door and it exploded in a barrage of splinters and metal as the CL-20, an even more advanced and powerful explosive than C4, blew a 25-foot diameter shockwave of mass destruction. Splinters bounced off my helmet and yellow bulletproof jacket as I pulled out my KAC PDW submachine guns. Ambidextrous, eagle-eyed, and outstanding hand-eye coordination made using two guns nearly as effective as movies made them out to be.
58 dead. Tons of bullets embedded in the walls and in the floor. Yurei had snuck away, taking down all the ones I wasn’t able to reach in time. Men were coming downstairs as I let the ammo fly, making their charge a very short-lived one. Overkill is the best kind of kill. Heat vision showed nearly as many thugs were still alive upstairs. He walked up behind me. I smiled and reloaded one PDW as I holstered the other.
Heat vision revealed 9 men waiting at the top of the stairs, surrounding them from all angles, ready to shoot at any rival gang members coming upstairs to steal their loot. Unfortunately for them, we weren’t any of their pitiful rival gangs. We were the freaking S.W.A.T.
I took the smoke grenade from my backpack, pulled the pin, counted two seconds and threw it near the top of the stairs. It blew up in midair and tear gas bellowed out, the smoky gas causing the men upstairs to yell and scream as their lungs and eyes were tortured. I casually screwed on the gas filter to my helmet as Yurei pulled on a muzzle that was akin to a gas mask. He and I walked silently upstairs, guns drawn.
One began shooting wildly as he saw the gas blow, but I plugged him before he fired his third bullet from the barely controlled pistol. I quickly did the same with four others, Yurei getting the other four with his Desert Eagle.
The other men began running to the stairs, firing into the thinning smoke. Yurei and I retreated down the stairs as they held the position at the stairs. By the time we kill everyone like this, someone is bound to escape. I shot what was left of my clips, three bullets, at an air vent. The vent was torn to shreds from the high-powered bullets as three simultaneous metallic clangs sounded out.
Yurei reloaded his pistol and I motioned for him to follow me as I tore away bits of the vents. “Betchya this goes upstairs. I say we get around these thugs and pop them from behind.” I whispered into my mic, cautious as to keep others from hearing during our cease fire. “I’ll stay here in case anyone tries to escape and I’ll come up the stairs once they’ve turned at you.” Yurei responded. “Agreed.” I nodded and crawled into the vent.
It was a bit of a squeeze, but I was able to make my way up almost immediately in the very dark vents. I needed no night vision, I already had that built into me. I saw the thugs lined up alongside the stairwell through my heat-seeking helmet visor. I crawled as silently as I could, trying not to give up my position, and looked at the vent. There was only one easy and silent way to remove it. I reached down, pulling out the smaller of my four Bowie knives and slicing through the cheap metal like a lightsaber. I still caused a little noise, but no one noticed as I made a hole just big enough to fit my arms through.
I put the knife away and took both KAC PDWs out. With my heat vision helmet, I could see them through the wall. I fired into the backs of the crowd. The PDWs were on full auto, spewing out bullets like a lead storm as the thugs went down, most without even seeing where the bullets came from. 120 bullets were gone in 12 seconds.
And all 40 targets were dead.
Yurei climbed the stairs and looked up at me. “Nice work.”
I smiled, even though he couldn’t see it through the helmet. The few remaining survivors cowered in fear, kneeling, hands on their heads and weapons cast down. As the door opened behind me, and more thugs came out. They had higher-grade weapons and spewed out a wall of lead.
Yurei ducked back down the stairs and shot from behind it as he laid on his back, nailing two of them. I retreated back into the air vent, unable to reload my PDWs in the tight space, so I pulled out my two Berettas and popped my head back out, the firefight still going on as the rest of the thugs hid behind the door, Yurei unable to get a clear shot as they fired wildly. I did have a clear shot though, and I quickly lined up the shots and hit two of the three thugs in the head, and fired once more for the third.
“They had a lot of people in here!” Yurei shrugged and got up “Still just a bunch of idiots that played too much Call of Duty and given real man guns.” I dropped out of the vent and got to my feet, reloading my PDWs before walking on. “Now where’s that sonofagun Barrel? Haven’t seen ‘im anywhere…” “Terrell.” Yurei corrected. “Search the whole place. Keep an ear out, HQ’s on satellite to see if anyone escapes.” “Copy that.” I responded.
I walked into the room the thugs were and tore the place apart. Diamonds, money, gold, tons of it. Also other works of jewelry and things that were probably used to barter with. There were cages as well, but no one inside. I presume any slaves that were here had been sold elsewhere. No ways to escape from this room. Then I heard Yurei yell: “On the roof! Target is on the roof!”
I smashed the window and hopped out onto the thin ledge on the windowsill. I jumped upwards, clinging onto the house’s rain gutter as I pulled myself onto the roof.
Two figures stood in the night, the moon shining from a temporary break in the clouds. One was Yurei’s familiar shadowed figure. The other was that of our target. Black, muscular, underdressed, unmistakable. They stood face to face, Yurei holding a gun mere feet away from him. I snuck behind Terrell and grabbed his wrists as he stood in shock, completely frozen as I forced him to kneel to the ground. “Terrell, you are under arrest for murder, organized crime, fraud, extortion, black marketing, and so many other things that would keep us here all night.”
The man struggled a little bit, trying to wrench himself away, but Yurei fired his gun, plugging the roof under Terrell, an inch away from his crotch. Scared stiff, he stopped struggling and stood with his mouth gaping open. I cuffed him and stripped him of his weapons, two guns, a knife, some keys and a cigarette lighter. Yurei led me the way he came up, from a ladder on the balcony. We walked inside and handcuffed him to an exposed water pipe running vertically on the wall.
“Lucky for you, we can’t kill you in some creative leisurely fashion. But we can still have fun nonetheless.” I told him in a slight sadistic manner, and for the first time our tails were clear to our target, along with my oddly shaped helmet. Yurei stayed in the shadows, hiding clear view of his face. I wagged my tail slightly and grinned. This guy barely knows what he’s dealing with…but when I saw him…I knew.
“Yurei, this particular person…looks familiar…doesn’t he?” Yurei looked at me with a quizzical look. “He…actually does.” I smiled. “It’s because we know him.” Yurei twitched an ear ever so slightly and I could tell it hit him. My memories weren’t perfectly clear, but clear enough. “We’re back from the dead…boss.” The man stared at us with eyes open as though we were crazy.
“Remember the street urchins that you could never separate? Remember the brothers that would always do your jobs with the as quick and clean as possible? You killed us off. And we came back…like this.” I pulled off my helmet, something we had never done outside the base…and I revealed my snarl of a smile, the wolf-ish face clear to him.
Terrell looked like he was going to pass out. Definitely starting to hyperventilate. “That…that’s fake…that has to be a mask.” I twitched my ears and put on a fake look of being insulted “Oh, that’s hurtful… after you went through so much planning in getting rid of us you don’t recognize us. Oh well.” I placed my claw at his throat and grinned again. “Have fun in hell. We’re going to escort you there.”
Yurei had radioed in our status, confirming no escapees and mission success as I tortured our old boss with nothing but cutting remarks and a creepy smile. Memories flooded into my head as I threatened him creatively, turning his own words against him in pure irony, though I had a hard time recalling them later. The helicopter’s thumping became clear in our sharp animal ears and we turned and left.
Yurei looked at me with an odd glance. I looked back at him casually. “Something you wanna say, big bro?” I asked as I pulled on my helmet and walked with him to retrieve our bikes. Yurei blinked and shook his head. “Well…all these years…I never knew that side of you.”
I cocked an ear in confusion “What side of me?” Yurei shrugged. “Well…you did threaten that guy in about 50 different horrifying ways…” I waved my paw in the air and kicked up my SCAR-L that I had left in my hiding spot. “That guy used to own us. I wanted him to feel what it was like to be owned.” Yurei nodded. “I…kinda remember... but you just became a totally different person.”
I waved him off. “I got caught up in the moment. Felt like an actor in an action film or something. You know that monologuing stuff.” Yurei sighed. “I guess.”
We got to our bikes and walked them to the waiting heli.
Edited by Cobalt-Lukather, 29 October 2015 - 01:03 PM.
The following days followed up as normal. A little testing, a good exercise session, the same old weird food they feed us every day…just normal life. The other branches of the military have cried out for our assistance more than once, even though we are politically “pulling out of the war” rather than going into it.
Yurei broke the silence as we walked back into our rooms. Some days ago, Yurei and I agreed to live in the same quarters, but with separate bedrooms. It was a lot more fun this way, and even grumpypants enjoyed it. “Hey Cobalt.” "Yeah?" I replied, picking some specialized food from between my teeth. It was the color of a marshmallow, the texture of lumpy sauce, but had no taste at all "Making me split my pants in hand-to-hand combat training does not count as a tactical move." He flopped onto the couch, still moaning about his one defeat in hand-to-hand combat. I chuckled and sat down on the floor next to him. "Alright. But Yurei?" "Ya?" I grabbed his tail with my mouth and grinned widely while holding it in there, trying to look as cute as possible. "ihf cnf stihl dfo thifs, righf?" "Ugh...really? I swear you’re acting like a puppy." I let it go and put up my mock shameful face and then stuck my tongue out at him.
He was dang right about me acting like a puppy. "Hey, is Top Gear on tonight?" the question suddenly flashed in my mind as I glanced at the TV set. "I’m not sure cuz I dont watch it." he said, and then he decided to tackle me just as I reached out for the remote. I shoved back playfully, trying to launch him off me "Hey, you had your turn with the news this morning, I want to watch my show!"
We roughhoused and played around, laughing and pushing each other like kids. It was good to loosen up and play like this. Even if I miss the first 3 minutes of my favorite show. The Top Gear crew put on an alright show. Not one of their funniest, but not their driest, either. The car challenge was quite good though, even though I think they missed a few puns.
Yurei sat down on the plush beige couch, tapping away at his laptop, and I laid down on the same couch, my head resting on his thigh as I watched the TV. “You wanna do something fun, Yurei?” Yurei tapped for a bit before answering. “What’s going on in your twisted head of yours?”
I smiled with a mischief in my heart that I had not had in a while. “What ‘dya say to a race…on the lunch carts down the main hallway?” Yurei shook his head “oh no, not this time. We’ve been in enough trouble already recently.” I smirked and put on my puppy eyes, and then I gave up and laughed as Yurei shook his head. “I think you’d rather get into a little more trouble with me than if I told Jack a little something you did one night on the computer…” Yurei glared at me, “You wouldn’t…”
I laughed and then went to a dead serious face. “You play with me, big brother, or everyone finds out about who posted those ‘selfies’ on the big screen in the geek room.”
“What is the ETA on our project here?” a voice said, gruff and angered. Jack remained calm as he spoke through the receiver “Unfortunately, that is hard to say. This ‘project’ as you call it, is far more elaborate than our last ten projects put together. We are not dealing with guns and armor anymore. We are working with creating an entire subspecies.”
“I do not care about that. I want to see results and I want to know when I can expect them.” Jack sighed silently “Two years at best. One year for proper development and adaptation of the equipment, and one, possibly two years for properly training and conditioning a battle-ready soldier.” The man seemed to just barely growl into the phone.
“You have 4 months to make at least one working piece of equipment with a developing product inside it. If I do not see results by then, this entire project will be terminated. Including the people involved.” Jack nodded “Yes, Sergeant Major. You have made that very clear. Good day, sir.”
Jack hung up on the general and ran his hands through his short, course hair. The top brass of the Army, Marines, and Navy are watching. They are wanting. After a year of trial runs within the S.W.A.T program, the entire U.S. military wants to replace their troops with copies of the two AnTHRROS that were in their room not 500 yards away.
The Geneva Convention had also given us a helluva time with these soldiers, but thankfully they haven’t blown off their mouths. A little money thankfully made the majority of them agree that ‘copying’ two perfectly functioning products would not be violating any rights, even though they are illegitimate and ‘copying’ was a very loose term. But they gave the ok. That’s all that matters. Jack stood up and began walking out the door, heading downstairs to discuss a certain time crunch with a few scientists.
I heard commotion coming from the lunchroom, with the yells of several co-workers and the cheers of two unmistakable canines. I walked into the open doorway, and something immediately hit me in the gut, and I fell onto the speeding wheeled object, quickly realizing I was on an empty food cart, a white and gray tail sticking out from the back of it, and a second cart passing it, Yurei visible, crouched on the bottom tray of the cart. They were racing the lunch carts again. “COBAAAAAAAAAALT!!!!”
“Right here, Jack!” a familiar laugh echoed from under me as the cart sped down the hallway, occasional slopes in the hallway making the carts speed up even faster. “Stop the cart, or else your hide is my rug!” I threatened as I got onto a slightly-more-dignified position on the cart than splayed out like a mannequin. Cobalt laughed “I would love to stop it but we don’t have brakes!” I glanced at the end of the hallway, a solid, metal-reinforced wall coming up fast. “Cobalt! Stop the cart now!” I yelled, but Cobalt only went faster, rocking the cart and pushing it until he caught up to Yurei, going faster with every passing yard. The sloped hallway was always an area of danger thanks to these two.
I held onto the cart tightly, and then jumped off the back, rolling onto the floor and turning around to see the two carts crash into the wall hard, falling over and spinning off in a horrible crash, the metal carts mangled and crushed in ways that would be fatal to any living thing on them. I walked over to the carts, half-expecting to see the two AnTHRROS in a broken heap, but they were not there.
Then a fuzzy body tackled me to the ground. I tried to squirm free, but the grip was too strong: I was being held with both the arms and legs of my attacker. I looked up and saw Cobalt’s smiling furball of a face. “Hai Jack!” he said excitedly. “Get off me, or I will dock your tail and shave you bald right here and right now.” I said gruffly.
Cobalt got off, his tail still wagging happily. Yurei dropped from the ceiling, and I saw the missing panel in the ceiling that they had hopped into at the last moment. Cobalt laughed, claiming a victory in front of Yurei, who only rolled his eyes, still smiling from the rush. They were as active as kids that had inhaled a crate of pure sugar. “Sakoor, Lukather, you’re lucky I don’t have the time to whip your backsides bare, so pick this mess up and get back to your rooms. I’ll work on a creative punishment later.”
--------30 minutes later, Jack’s POV--------
“4 months?!” “What does he think we are designing? Children’s toys?” “Does he even have the jurisdiction to do that?!”
I sighed, sitting down in the experimental wing’s meeting room with my fingers massaging my forehead. This was going to be a long 4 months. Time to get working.
-----Cobalt’s POV, two months later-----
“Hey, Yurei, you noticed how we’ve kinda been…demoted?”
We haven’t gone out on a mission for 2 months. Yurei spent all day coding and training hand-to-hand combat while I spent all day in the garages, fixing and maintaining what felt like half the entire S.W.A.T fleet and running through simulators, everything from driving to flying to shooting.
Yurei shrugged. “We were being tested in the real world, I think. Now they’re seeing if we can be plumbers and tech support when the war is over.” I rolled my eyes, “That’s a cheery way of looking at it. And I’m a mechanic, chips-for-brains. Mario is a plumber.”
It was then that the television turned itself on, and Jack’s expressionless business face showed up. “Cobalt, Yurei, get your tails over here.” I smirked, walking over to the TV, the two-way feed on, no doubt. I got in front of the camera, on my hands and knees, and wagged my tail in front of the lens. “Cobalt, you know what he meant, you idiot.” Yurei shoved me aside and stood at attention, and I stood next to him, also at attention and doing my best to not look like my usual mockery.
“Something has come up in three of the five military branches. We want to test your skills in ways we haven’t done before. You’re going to the Navy SEALs. Then the Air Force’s Fighter Weapons School, a.k.a Top Gun, and the Marine Special Operations Regiment. You’re going against the hardest and toughest training camps and tests known to man to test the absolute limits of your species. If you fail to succeed in becoming qualified for any of these three branches, we will test and experiment on you so hard you’ll fall apart. Is that understood?”
“Yes, SIR!” we both said. “Yurei, you are ready for this in every single way I know of. I would have money on you becoming the benchmark of all AnTHRROS projects in the future if it was allowed. Cobalt, you are physically capable of overcoming any and every challenge that comes your way, but if you don’t wise up, I’m going to shave you bald and drop you off at the northernmost military base to see how long it takes you to freeze into a nice popsicle.” “Understood, sir!”
I felt like a soldier already, shouting out sir with a spray of spit on purpose, fighting a smirk. Jack stared at me and shook his head “I would also have money that you’re going to get tied to a flagpole by your tail with your attitude.” “Very likely, SIR!” Jack sighed and reached over to disconnect the videocall “Signing off. You are dismissed. Try not to blow it.”
Yurei saluted and made sure to smack me in the head while doing it. I laughed, humming ‘Highway to the Danger Zone’ while going off to play on another simulator.
-----Jack’s POV, one month later-----
“Prototype womb 1 and 2 are up and running.” No points for style, but we hope we have a working model of what we can use for creating more AnTHRROS. Both ‘wombs’ were designed off the exact principles that brought life back into Sakoor and Lukather. The few differences were that they were in a zero-g stasis in the wombs, suspended in a scientific cocktail to keep their bodies preserved and their muscles stimulated. Once the subject is complete and breathing, they would fall out of the womb, onto a cushioned floor. In theory, the end result would work exactly like Sakoor and Lukather.
We brought in two body bags. One had a muscled, strong white man with dark, short hair on top of many layers of muscle, and the other held a woman, also white, a long haired redhead who was beautiful even in death, both causes of death were labeled under asphyxiation, being the most prime and undamaged bodies we could find. They were placed in the tanks and hooked up to the machinery.
A separate group of scientists had taken cells of the two bodies and had mixed it with other animals. It was rather easy when the instructions for doing so were already completed for us. The tall man would become a Doberman, something we had found to not only fit him but also make him a very efficient and obedient soldier. The woman would become a fox, the natural characteristics of one making for an efficient spy.
The mutated cells were injected into the bodies, and they were soon at work, radiation markers showing the growth of the cells as different organ cells were spread to their appropriate places, creating new organs on top of the dead ones, beginning the process of the inner mutation. The exterior effects won’t show for another day, according to the best guesses the eggheads could make, and they would be entirely finished in another month, leaving a month to see perform tests and make adjustments to see if the results were a repeatable success. But for now, we have to wait.
We haven’t had a single break this whole training cycle. We’ve been put on the most stringent cycles of training, not just advanced but accelerated. Our two and a half year long SEAL training was completed in 14 months. We had no rest but we were able to push through. Our nine week TOPGUN class came at a normal pace…a little bit of a mental rest and a big physical rest. Then our seven month training in Marine Special Operations is now drawing to a close…and I will be the happiest ‘furson,’ as the term has come, alive when it finally finishes.
We’re only a week away from finishing Phase 4, Asymmetric Warfare, where we have to think like the enemy in order to disrupt enemy insurgencies, acts of terror, or guerilla warfare…we have the knowledge, we have the skill, but we need the experience. And someone thought it would be nice to have all that crammed in less than two years. This is like puberty for soldiers.
I walk out of the tin metal barrack. It looked and felt and was almost exactly what jungle-based guerrilla warfare rebels would have. Limited clean water, very little food, no place to shower, and no insect repellant, the likes of whom were eating me alive. I knew I was in South America, not exactly sure what country, as that was classified. All I had to do was survive two weeks. And capture an enemy base within that time period.
I was far less armed than when I was before. An Uzi, with 7 20 round cartridges, and an AK-47, with 5 15 round cartridges. I had a tally of 10 men with me. And they had even less ammo than I did.
And I had scouted the base. They had more than 60 highly trained SEALS and freaking 50 caliber guns.
Noooooooooo problem. Not at all.
Yurei was being trained separately, with his own squad and a similar scenario. I was the only AnTHRROS there. It takes a bit to unsettle some decent army men…but a walking, talking wolf in a white mullet did the trick with my men. I could see it and smell it. And their skills were nowhere near as good as the SEALS. A brute-force takedown would be a guaranteed failure. But they obeyed. It may have been my intimidating looks and commanding speech, but my men did as they were told, no questions asked.
So now it comes down to the plan. I had observed these guys for a full day. They were far more limited at night. The number of active men went from 60 to 40. They had an 8-hour sleep rotation. One was at 0800 in the morning. The next at 1600. The last at 0000. Each person was active for 16 hours and slept the other 8, meaning that there were always at least 40 men out there. Except for those 5 minutes men are switching posts. The most vulnerable was 0000, in pitch blackness. The rough terrain and many trees made for a LOT of shadows.
That’s our time to strike.
--------the next morning, Cobalt’s POV--------
It’s go time, mutha truckers.
Everyone had been in position for 5 minutes now. We barely rustled a single leaf as we made our way to the encampment, our camo triple checked and our moves rehearsed. I scoped out each spot personally and knew exactly where each man was.
And the clock hit 00:00. The sentries turned and walked about and we all moved forward silently at the precise timings I knew would be carried out within seconds. We all got to the edge of the fenced compound and I took out my tiny rotator saw and sliced the wire fence at the bottom of the fence, making an arc just barely big enough for ourselves to squeeze through. Thankfully, the soft jungle ground dipped as we trudged through, and then we split up. The stronger of the ten men went to the left, with my second in command leading, and I went to the right with the others.
I ran to the side of the small tower on the side of the compound. I tried the door. Locked. Resisting the urge to blow it off, I slung my gun over my shoulder and began climbing up to the tower’s roof, where a sniper would soon come to take his midnight shift. The hastily built concrete slabs had plenty of foot and armholds, and my claws made going up the wall quick and easy. I made it over the lip as silently as I could and sat in the sniper nest. I took out my rifle and quickly strapped my homemade silencer on it.
I glanced over to my second in command, who also had to climb up. The human took a little longer but I flashed my flashlight at him, signaling ‘I’m ready’. I heard the door begin to open and turned and aimed the silenced rifle at the man as he stepped out the door, and a dart shot out, giving a knockout-inducing shock.
He fell silently. My gun wasn’t quite as silent as a properly machined silencer would have made it, but it was obviously silent enough. The second sniper fell to the floor and not a single alarm was raised.
I turned and saw my second in command flash his light back. I planted myself against my stomach and aimed my sniper rifle at the third tower, and my second did the same in his tower at the fourth. I saw the head of my target and fired a single calculated shot through the scope. The man fell down, the dart in his upper chest. I looked over and saw the man in the other tower fall as well. The reports of our silenced rifles were only audible for the bat-eared below. They may or may not know our position.
One man from each of our groups ran over to the tower and climbed their way up.
From the sniper nest, I could see the entire complex. There were tents as well as semi-fortified buildings. Our remaining 7 men went their planned route. 4 of them split away and covered the moderately-sized camp, and two went for the arms storage barrack while the other went to the communications tower.
There were two men quickly dispatched inside the comm tower and the communications were disabled without a problem.
The two men in the weapons barracks locked away all the weapons and loaded them silently into a Humvee M1097A2, a Humvee with a large open cargo carrying bed. They went inside the car and flashed their flashlights three times. The keys were in the Humvee. The guys hopped inside, weapons secured, and started up the diesel truck, and drove it straight through the compound’s wire fence.
Now THIS set off the alarm. Soldiers, most half-dressed, came out of their barracks and drew their weapons, mostly small arms pistols, only just before being shot down by the snipers. Weaponless and surrounded, our men took the soldiers with ease, and a quick surrender was at hand.
I succeeded. 23 of the 55 soldiers had been shot with the non-fatal bullets. The remaining 32 soldiers were taken hostage by only 10 men. No fatalities on either side.
Chapter 8: “I'm soaring now somewhere in the sky, the rush of air: never wanting to come down, there's nothing that I've ever felt like learning how to fly, I'm learning how to fly”
--------One week later, Cobalt’s POV--------
We were returned quickly after our success. Yurei finished his test a full day before I completed mine. This display of ability and successful training wasn’t just a show however. It was a distraction from something we soon found out after our nearly 2 year “vacation.” New AnTHRROS were being “produced” at base.
I counted at least 40 as we passed them doing outdoor training. Most of them were canine, but there was an equal mix of what seemed like foxes, assorted felines, and some I couldn’t identify from the distance.
Inside, there were a few more groups and my eyes widened as I saw some up close “Yurei…there’s more of us…” He shrugged “yeah. And?” He didn’t seem to care much. I guess I had to do the same. We went on with our daily routine with some light training for our sore bodies, but we were told to report to the lab.
Dressed in only smocks, we were led to what was an operating room, laid down, diagnosed and knocked out cold.
--------two days later, Cobalt’s POV--------
I woke up groggy and yawning. I shifted uncomfortably and rolled onto my side. I had an IV in my arm and a nurse urged me to stay calm and move slowly. I had no intention of moving fast, as tired and weary as I was from such a long sleep. I nestled into the cozy bed and fell asleep again for a few more minutes.
When I woke up, this time, my senses were on alert. I sat up and then began stretching my arms, legs, and back all stretched out into the biggest star I could make as I let out a yawn. Stretching more, I felt something odd. I touched something but my hand wasn’t near a wall or anything. It felt a bit like an arm, and I soon felt my new set of limbs.
I turned my head and saw a massive pair of white wings stretched out above my head, feathers large and brushing against the wall over 5 feet away, at a point over 10 feet away. “HOLY…mother…of…”
I tried not to panic. I knew that would be bad for me and everyone else. So I just stood there in shock and amazement. I soon figured out how to control them roughly, drawing them in and spreading them back out.
“This was a built-in feature for you, but Dr. Rothguard never got to do it himself. He knew how to though. We took the liberty of…finishing his work.” Jack’s voice was over the intercom. He was watching through the cameras. I tilted my wings and warped them, adjusting them in all ways my muscles could.
“You have pouches in your back to hide your wings. They’re a bit like a kangaroo’s. You’ll find out how to fold them up and hide them away.” I tried doing so. It took a long time but it finally did go inside. My back was sore and aching as my new muscles were worked over this structure, and my old muscles adapted to working with the new ones. I laid back down and groaned softly “This sucks…but it’s kinda awesome…”
I rested as my back’s muscles rested and then got up to go get food. I was starving.
--------One day later, Cobalt’s POV--------
After more training after our experiments, Yurei and I decided to hit the showers at the same time. In separate stalls mind you.
I undressed within the stall and shook out my fur before turning on the cool water, letting it cool myself down before getting moderately warm. My wings were tucked inside their pouches, aching far less now and hidden very well. There was barely a difference.
I looked over at Yurei’s stall, as the walls separating each stall were only shoulder-high. I saw him getting doused by the water and begin to wash himself, all business. I decided to have some fun with him.
“Hey, Yurei, why the long face?” he looked at me confusedly, and then I tapped my muzzle, and he facepawed and shook his head. “You are a horrible mutt.” “Ooooh, you broke my heart big brother. Meanie.” He chuckled and continued washing and I followed suit.
After the wash, we grabbed towels and began drying ourselves up. I noticed something odd about Yurei’s fur as he dried it. It seemed to glimmer as he dried it. No, I wasn’t falling for him, it was one of those things that you catch and see as weird. “Hey, Yurei… there’s something weird with your fur.” I stepped close to him and he backed off “Back off, brother.”
He shoved me lightly, and I saw for a moment what it was. He was becoming invisible where the towel brushed his fur the wrong way. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, don’t you see that?” I began ruffling his fur on his shin on his outstretched leg, and it disappeared in spots where the fur was ruffled up right. Like, you could see through his entire leg. And the shadow below him had light spots where the leg disappeared. “Holy…damn.”
Yurei stared at me incredulously and pushed me away, matting his fur down and it reappeared “Wow man, you got a superpower now, that’s awesome!” Yurei growled at me “Stop it. I’m not going to tell you again.” I backed off “That’s awesome man, how do you do that? Can you become entirely invisible?”
He sighed, seeing that I wasn’t going to let it go. “Yes, Cobalt, I can.” “Well, why haven’t you ever used it before?” he stared at me “I have. No one has ever caught me.” I nodded and grinned giddily “Hehe, don’t worry, your secret is safe with me!” I dived at him and snatched the towel off his waist and ran out the door “Hey!” he turned to chase me but didn’t do it, using his tail to cover himself “Give it back, Cobalt!” I shook my head “Show me how good you are and try to catch me!”
I ran off and heard growling behind me, and I could feel myself being chased, but neither saw nor heard a thing as I looked back, turning the corner and heading to my room. I dashed inside, my own towel flopping around my speeding legs and I slammed the door shut behind me. I beat him.
At least, I thought I did. The towel was snatched out of my hand and wrapped around an invisible waist and the reappearing figure of Yurei stood a few feet away “Convinced?” I smiled and nodded “Totally. Awesome.”
Yurei and I got dressed soon, and I decided to play with him. I spread out a wing and began rubbing him behind the ears
“Cobalt…I’m going to kill you…” he smiled and his tail wagged, but he hated it when I pet his ears. I didn’t listen to him, but when he lashed out, to his surprise, I wasn’t as close as he thought.
I was well over 10 feet away with my wings out.
Yurei looked at me and his smile went away to mild surprise “Oh…so that’s what they did to you?” I nodded. “Yup! Soon as my muscles set in, I’m cleared for flight!”
He charged and tackled me to the ground and gave me the biggest noogie in my life.
--------Cobalt’s POV, one month later--------
Donning a white helmet and white pressure suit, I took my dogfighting skills to the ultimate test.
At 10,000 feet, and two F16 Fighting Falcons on my tail, I’m pushing my limits of taking down aircraft. My speed was nothing compared to jets, but I was smaller and far more maneuverable than just about any winged aircraft made yet.
They had missiles and .50 caliber guns. I only had my SCAR-L. However, of course, we were using tracers. No party involved would enjoy having to pay the bill of a trashed multi-million dollar jet. Or a guinea pig of questionable worth either.
I was dropped from a cargo jet and sent soaring into the jet stream at a ground speed of 300mph. A heads up display in my helmet gave me all the information I needed to know about my flight. Except I lacked a radar. But I did have a radio.
I set it for close range and automatically made it dig through channels, trying to pick up any radio chatter. I got a Mexican pop radio station and a news weather report, but I discarded them from the feed quickly, and then I got some chatter worth hearing.
“Alpha Lynx, on approach to target. Radar signal is barely worth scat on him.” “Acknowledged Beta Fox, but I don’t see him. Flank right, he’s around the cloud on your 2 o’ clock.”
That was all I needed to hear. Turning left hard, I did an aileron roll back towards the F16 Falcons and readied my SCAR. Once I broke through the cloud, I saw the two jets and emptied a clip on them. They moved quick though, and I only got a few bullets into the closer jet, which I presumed was Beta Fox. The tracer’s beams were non-vital and I turned to try and pick them off from the rear, but I was seen and they were doing the same
“Whoa! Target is on your 7, Alpha! Watch out!” Just before they flew out of range, I got a vital hit on one of the jet’s engine, and he was called in. “Alpha Lynx, you’re out! He got a hit right in your propulsion system.” “Beta, you have mild damage, but watch out, one came close to the tanks.”
I smiled and spoke as I slowed down to nearly hover in place “Don’t bring a cat to a dogfight!” the fox growled and retorted back “Yeah? We’ll see about your witty comebacks when I blow your arse outta the sky!” “I can’t let you do that, StarFox!” I heard someone giggling from HQ and smiled as the fox came back
“I’ll ride your tail and smack it out of the sky!” “Hey, you’re going to have to buy me a few drinks to make me forget I’m straight first.” The giggles turned to laughter and a flustered growl was uttered. I banked around a few clouds, using the white to disguise my position as I listened for the jet. I found its position and got ready for a head on battle.
The plane broke through a cloud and charged right at me, knowing my position. At first, he tried getting a missile lock, but my heat signature wasn’t enough to get a trace. He then switched to the guns and fired his tracers. Diving and rolling, I dodged them as he dove after me. I took a steep climb back up with my momentum and got ready to fire. He barrel rolled and blasted out of range at full throttle as yet another bullet glimpsed at him
After 15 minutes of this war of attrition, I was nearing the end of my tracer rounds.
I went and dive-bombed straight down, the fox’s plane staying with me. We had to stay above 5,000 feet to keep the dogfight legitimate.
Going well over 400mph through the air, I pulled up at 5,100 and began climbing back up a little. The plane, going nearly twice that speed, did the same but a little lower. Then I opened up my wings and slowed down like a parachute.
The plane flew mere feet above my head and I fired all the tracers I had left. The tracers indicated I had shot half the fuselage and hit several key machines and instruments. Had this been real, there would have been no more plane right now.
“DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT!” the fox raged as I smiled and began my descent to earth, freefalling and enjoying my success and the descent to earth very much.
When I got down, I saw Yurei’s test go on. He was in a large room, testing how effective the invisibility was.
Standing perfectly still, almost no noticeable effects were made. However, as he moved, a light ring of distortion appeared around him. The faster he moved, the more visible it was. It worsened with wind, generated from a large fan, as it brushed his fur out of place for movement. He began fading in and out of visibility. Different speeds and levels of movements were used, and then smoke was poured through the fan. The smoke wrapped around him, making a ghost-like figure in the middle of the room.
He was then asked to get dirty, and a scientist walked to him with a pail of dirt and sand. Rubbing it on himself, he turned invisible, but the effects were far less spectacular as the grains of dirt and sand stayed visible.
The test was stopped, and the bare-furred Yurei was brushed clean and made to wear a black jumpsuit, looking similar to ones made for skydiving, but form-fitting. On the inside of his left wrist was a tiny button. It turned on a very mild electric current through the suit and it was rendered invisible. Everything that covered Yurei was invisible, but his head was still visible.
Doing the same tests over again, the suit improved invisibility in wind and while dirty, but it was about the same with movement. The testing session was over, and though it wasn’t perfect, it was really cool.
--------Jack’s POV, one week later--------
We utilized Cobalt and Yurei’s newest abilities in taking down a potential terrorist ring. Invisible, Yurei walked in right behind the members of the meeting and planted a videocamera and mic while right next to the men. They noticed nothing odd and Yurei snuck into a corner he could observe things from. Tracking both heat vision and normal video, the penny-sized camera transmitted the video to Yurei’s larger, more powerful transmitter, and to the Intel vehicle I sat in a few blocks away.
It went perfectly fine until they opened a window. Deciding that it was too hot in their cut-price LA flat and that the air conditioning wasn’t up to par, the wind blew through Yurei’s fur and rendered his head visible for the briefest of moments. Jumping up to hide himself in the corner of the room up by the ceiling, he maintained position, but two of the men claimed they saw something move.
The camera had moved though, the wind blowing it onto the floor. It was still transmitting, and thankfully, the camera could still see most of what was going on.
“What, you afraid o’ ghosts?” “Nah, I just coulda sworn I saw something move.” One of the men, an underling to the high boss of this ring, swatted at the air where Yurei had been. Some began feeling uneasy but Yurei maintained position. They continued with their meeting and closed out and they began making their way to the door.
Then someone stepped on the camera. The video feed cut out but the audio still recorded. The man pulled his shoe up and saw the strange piece of equipment. It only took him a second to find out what it was “We were bug-nf!”
Yurei reported he was still invisible as he made a mixed martial arts movement to hit the neck and render him unconscious. I patched into the hotel security video feed and saw the door opened with men inside the room. I could see about halfway into the room with this video camera, lucky break.
The men had split up, some going down the hallway and others going down the fire escape. I turned on my radio “Yellow Jacket, west fire escape now.”
The ones in the hallway hadn’t made it to the stairs before they were all knocked out in precisely timed pressure points.
I drove over to the alleyway in the building, a local plumbing vehicle with a fake name and unregistered phone number. That’s when I saw the massive eagle-like creature swoop towards the fire escape
Except that was Cobalt. Not an eagle. He swooped to the one that had gone the lowest on the stairs and used his Taser on him (something I urged him to use in this mission as we wanted all members alive) and held up the rest on gunpoint as his wings folded behind his back. In a quick, flowing movement, he cuffed one man to the stair railing and stole his weapon.
The rest stared in disbelief at the creature they were looking at. Robbing them of their weapons, some were cuffed easily, others were too busy crying and praying in rapid fire Spanish as I heard over the radio. He pulled off his helmet, just enough to expose his face to the two men, growling at them. I could hear them whimpering and praying over Cobalt’s radio. ‘Madre de Dios.’ seemed to be a popular phrase. “God told me you’ve been bad guys. Enjoy prison, courtesy of the Yellow Jacket.”
With that he jumped over them, pulling his helmet down, spread out his wings and flew around the corner of the building.
Gathering both AnTHRROS in the alleyway, unseen, I congratulated Yurei on his tactics and chastised Cobalt for his. An official S.W.A.T. vehicle pulled up and teams went over to collect the dozen men.
--------Cobalt’s POV, one month later--------
I began collecting trophies from our missions.
First was a Hellcat Challenger that was used in a chase for evidence of a drug cartel. With a blown-out rear end and bullets in the doors and trunk, I began stripping it down to only what it needed. Two seats, a steering wheel and gauges, and nothing but bare metal. I made a trick latch for the trunk, where it would lock into a place at only a few degrees of height, leaving an 8 inch gap.
I mounted the minigun back there, as well as the batteries and ammo. Onto armor, I pulled some teeth to get some bulletproof glass, as well as armor in the door locks and hinges. Then I finally went under the car, adjusting the suspension and putting a stronger subframe on the front end, as well as putting in a Dana 80 limited slip rear axle to replace the standard one. More weight and strength where needed. The fenders were mini-tubbed and the suspension moved inwards as the tires grew wide: Nitto Invo 345/25-20s on the rear with wheels as wide as they are tall. Much milder 295/35/20s went on the front.
The second was a semi-truck, a Peterbilt 389 that I had commandeered while on the move from a drug ring. This rebuild was extensive and took nearly a full year of building, but when I was done, I had a diesel-electric hybrid truck making 3000hp and twice that in torque to all 6 wheels with true torque vectoring and a lightweight interior to offset the weight of the batteries, mounted down low to make the truck have an outstandingly low center of gravity. With dual-rotor carbon ceramic brakes with 6 piston calipers all around, it stopped VERY well for a massive truck. The addition of bullbars polished off the truck’s blacked out look with severe toughness.
During that time, I also completed few mild builds: a ‘63 VW Bug turned into a street and dune machine, a 1970 Roadrunner with a modern big block HEMI, and a 1989 Camaro Z-28 with some handling and engine upgrades. I was also repairing many military jeeps, large trucks, tanks.
As missions came and went, I spent much of my time building my fleet.