Read it now below.
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Without further ado . . . here it is, Eager Readers:
“The Cyber Warrior Awakens V.2” By R.J. Huneke
It was a long time to wait. For William Waltz it was torturous purgatory; a limbo without any semblance of time, except for the agonizing screen’s circulating tumblers. His tall frame shook nervously, his long neck erect. It was hell.
The tiny woman was filmed on a chair with a black bag covering her head and upper torso; her legs were bare below the knee and an Egyptian Ankh could be seen on one calve; she held her passport in quivering hands for the cameras. Wangluo denied all affiliation with the radicals who held the member of the Cyber Coalition ambassador’s office, Moreen DeMarco, of course. They had no idea where the secret location was.
But Waltz had found them out. He confirmed the ambassador’s representative was being held in the embassy via the tracking nodules Wangluo had not found in her body, possibly in the cartilage of her upper ear where a thin ring hid the metal beneath.
The “Boston Clam Jam” blasted in his headphones with the drums throbbing, Ba-Da BOOM BUM, Ba-da BOOM DUM. It urged Waltz to action, as if there was not anymore pressure for him. His legs shook feverishly, once his typing stopped. The spike of his short hair bounced to the music in the hotel room that dwarfed him and his screen. He waited impatiently.
The Wangluo Embassy to the United Nations was hallowed ground. He was at a stalemate while the eyes in the sky kept watch over everyone. The world would not allow for any transgression on such neutral territory, and the world would answer swiftly with war to protect “the peace.” It was the one safe haven each country’s diplomats could rely on without question, and it was one of the few things that had been able to stalwart peace or stymy a world war.
“Thank the gods for coffee,” he said to himself as he watched the long lines of worms unzipping the protective grids of the security system code. On one screen, while another one beside it kept focus on the kidnapped Demarco. She probably kicked so much ass and bit and scolded the bastards ‘til they had no choice but to sedate and cover her in case she came out swinging again, thought Waltz.
The draught of black java was steaming, and the silken tendrils found their way over the keyboard, up and up into his nostrils. It would be his third cup of the night, but he needed more of it to stay focused and alert beyond measure of all but the most adept cyber spies.
Though the Colombian bean was incredibly rare and terribly expensive due to the coffee plant blight in Central and South America, Cyber had responded kindly to his need for the working tool and provided him with a supply monthly. Waltz was low maintenance for his trade, or ‘all natural’ as he liked to think of himself.
Many Cyber Warriors relied on tech implants being suffused with their bodies, which meant they were constantly in physical upheaval with their immune systems battling their anti-bodies. A simple scrape alongside an A-block phone bio-implanted in the forearm brought the risk for amplified infection. The interface of the body with the cellular with the electronic tech was not yet perfected.
The indigo clusters pulled apart and disintegrated on the screen, casting eerie bursts of light in the shadows of the hotel room. Flashes and swirling numerals marked the security system’s attempts to raise alarms and push Waltz out. His window was short: twenty minutes and all traces of the invasion would disappear; he would succeed or fail and watch her being beheaded on live Internet channels.
With a slow, sloppy pull from his mug, Waltz left through an open window and dropped to the nearest rooftop. Night and the thick rain had given him the cover needed to evade the restaurant’s meager cameras, and they had no thermal sensors. Unfortunately, the grid Waltz’s virus had just taken offline was wholly separate from the establishment outside.
As Waltz recovered from the jump, a heavy firedoor swung open. The security guards were more than the typical retired cops, they were taller than he was and square blocks of muscle that took advantage of his falling to their roof. They quickly pummeled his head and ribs. All thoughts racing, like streams riding the coffee buzz abandoned him. Fight or flight, he thought.
“Clearly you guys are Russian mafia-” he said.
A fist cracked his jaw and cut him off. His nose was next and the smell of blood filled him. He struggled to get off of his back while the two giants kicked and jabbed with freakish speed.
An elbow connected with his temple.
“That’s a joke, guys. I’m sure you have no fucking idea who the KGB were . . . or James Bond for that matter.”
Waltz entered the fetal position and tried to roll. Heavy boots swarmed his back from one guard and his ribs and gut from the other. The thin layers of polycarbonate and Kevlar beneath his clothes were the only things that saved him from being permanently injured.
His pocket vibrated. There were only fifteen minutes left to save Moreen DeMarco’s life. There were only fifteen minutes left to prevent an all-out cyberwar. Shielding his face as best he could, Waltz put together enough thoughts to form a swift plan.
Fifteen minutes before one hero dies and electronic attacks cripple every country’s infrastructure.
Time slid away, like the rain on the slippery metal roof. In between pummeling blows, he reached back and pulled the laptop from his pack. The guards anticipated his using it as a shield. Instead, he rolled with it to the nearest deep puddle and plunged it home.
God, I hope the super-ion battery’s charged enough, he thought.
As the guards each aimed to break the device in half with their punting of it, Waltz seized their ankles. As he grasped their pasty, almost luminescent skin in the night’s storm, he leaned his own elbows into the sizzling computer, and the three of them were jarred with an agonizing electrocution.
Each of them were thrown in three different directions away from the shorted machine. For William Waltz, the already dark and shadowy world dimmed to black.
* * *
The vibration of his A-block woke Waltz to a start. He had training in the most adverse of circumstances, including short shocks. The digitally electrified world’s infrastructure required that he was resistant to all but the deadliest of high voltage blasts.
He turned and threw up; the coffee boiled his esophagus horribly as it exploded across his black suit and then sputtered onto the rainy rooftop in Eastern Russia. Oh man, he thought, there’s only ten minutes left. I have to get her out, if it kills me.
Being born with a fair share of hard lumps offset by a good amount of luck, Waltz sat up and realized that despite their enormity, the mafia restaurant security guards were still unconscious. Their white dinner jackets were soaked with the roof’s grime; their heads were lying against doused steel, and their sunglasses were cracked.
Waltz was free to go. Then he noticed the miniature ocular computer on the side of their glasses. They had been filming him. And he did not have time to undo the oncoming assault of mob guys protecting their territory that were surely on the way.
“No wonder the Wangluo embassy allowed the restaurant to open right next door,” he said. “No one in their right mind would trespass here.” He laughed at himself and coughed, holding what was surely many a bruised and broken rib.
“Stay focused, genius. Time’s running out on her.”
Despite being barely able to walk, he rummaged along the rooftop until he found an air conditioning unit and the 220-volt lines coming into it. His experienced hands were unbroken and did their work on autopilot: wires were exposed, the ground’s disconnected, and the rest were shorted against the metal casing. Sparks, smoke, and fire erupted.
Waltz shielded his eyes and hurried away to the nearest ladder. He slowly lowered himself down the three-story building, wincing with every movement and every rung of the slimy ladder. Thunder rocked his recovering eardrums.
Since the cameras were down, he walked through the front gate and right on into the embassy. The U.N. representative, his name plaque said he was Sergio, looked curiously at Waltz’s drenched suit and beat up face and started to pick up a phone to call security.
The buzz went off again. There were five minutes left until the system went back online and captured him.
“Oh that won’t be necessary my good man,” said Waltz in perfect Russian. “Can I call you Sergio?”
“You may,” said Sergio answering in Russian. “Are you alright, sir?”
“No, I am not. I was just mugged. They took my laptop, my wallet, and left me to-“
“Oh my god, are you alright?”
“I’m afraid I’m hurt. I need help, Sergio.”
“Let me call you a paramedic-“
“What’s going on here?” said a guard cutting off Sergio.
She was armed with a M6 semi-automatic rifle and approached with her barrel pointed toward the floor. Her head was shaved. She looked ready to go ten rounds in a boxing match with Sugar Ray without showing a bruise.
Cameras lined the desk, the walls’ crown molding, the ceiling and many of the floor tiles. Big Brother’s eyes were everywhere. But Wangluo was blind for another five minutes.
Suddenly, Waltz slumped and feigned shifting woozily. His gangly, suited frame collapsed to the floor. As the guard leaned down to help, Waltz grabbed her M6 and clocked her across the side of the head. She fell to the tile, passed out.
“Come on, Sergio. You’re going to bring me inside to where you’re keeping the Cyber lady, Moreen DeMarco.”
“Move or die, Serg,” said Waltz unlatching the gun’s safety, “it’s up to you. But choose quickly.”
The somewhat round U.N. agent led the Cyber Warrior through a few long hallways in the lush mansion, hurrying as though his fervent waddling was the only thing that would save his life. Sergio gingerly opened the door to the wing’s enormous powder room, where Ms. DeMarco was gagged and tied to a heavy wooden chair. There was a bucket below her, filled with refuse, but not a sign of the guards.
Waltz pointed to the floor in front of Sergio to indicate he stay put. Sergio looked down, and got the M6 butt on the back of the head. Waltz caught Sergio and lowered him to the wooden floor. The weight of him was sheer agony.
Waltz slipped to the bedroom door, which was ajar. Inside the dim room was a thick fog of cigar smoke where half a dozen men sat in a circle cheering with fistfuls of paper as a woman rolled a set of dice. He caught the crimson glow of someone’s bionic eye, but they were focused on the bottle beside them and the rattle of the cubes. Fuck it, he thought.
Waltz stepped back to Moreen DeMarco and untied her. As she took off the black bag, he held his finger over his lips in a sign of silence. She nodded, took out the gag, and pointed to her bruised and battered legs and signed for him to pick her up. She was small, but sexy, even though her taught muscles were covered in black and blue.
What does she want me to do, fall over? I know she’s small but I’m barely walking here. Damn it, why did I have to go and knock out Sergio? He could’ve lifted the bitch.
To his utter horror she opened her mouth to persist:
“Pick me up,” she whispered.
“I will murder you right here and now, and make you watch as I gouge my own eyes out with that fork,” he said pointing to a catering cart nearby. “Don’t speak out loud again.”
He did his best to lean down and let her put a slender arm over his shoulder. As she rose, her feet stumbled and nearly fell out from under her. She grasped hold of his side with her other hand, and he felt something pop; a rib moved in a wholly unnatural way.
Waltz straightened her up and with his free hand bit into his fist as pain threatened to make him scream. His lungs throbbed and swelled and restricted his breathing.
The stars started to fade from his vision when his phone vibrated another warning: he had two minutes to exit unseen.
I’ll never make it, he thought.
They ambled out of the powder room and he looked both ways, moving her long blonde hair out of his face and immediately regretting again knocking out the only guide he had for the building. He had no idea where to go to reach the exits he had mapped out before; there was just the way they had come, the lobby, and it was sure to have people investigating the sloppily disposed of guard that he had foolishly left in the middle of the floor in his hurry.
I’m not thinking clearly, he realized. It’s only the pain. The pain is not going to get the better of me. I can drown it out. His ear buds had long since fallen out, but the sound of guitar soloing filled his head anyway and pushed away the paralyzing agony.
He stopped and turned Moreen around. They headed back to the powder room.
“You can’t take me back,” she protested.
“Shut-the-fuck-up,” he whispered. His eyes glowed threateningly, preternaturally, almost as if they were bionic and red, but they were not – they were just furious. The music came back and he sought peace, found peace.
* * *
The alarms sounded blaringly. Waltz’s song snapped off in his head. He hurt so much. And the clangor made his head heavy with anguish.
From the cramped storage of the catering cart, he sat with his charge on his lap. How they fit in that tiny coffin, he did not know. Every time Moreen shifted her weight needles fired in his broken body in a dozen places. He hated her guts.
* * *
They were wheeled down to the shipping area where the food carts were swapped for ones laden with more sustenance for the guests at the luxurious embassy. Talk of the escape and the lack of any video evidence added mystery to the story; it was thick in the voices of the staff. They were just meagerly paid servants, but Cyber was feared all the same . . . and for good reason.