Writer’s Note: Sid & Cyrus: Part Three was published originally in Jump Point 5.7. Here’s where you can read previous installments Sid & Cyrus: Part One and Sid & Cyrus: Part Two.
Sid felt like she was wading through quicksand as she rushed toward her daughter. Slowed by her heavy armor, she reached Immanuelle as Cyrus released her from his embrace. Sid drew her daughter close and finally exhaled, relieved she was alive.
As the two separated, Sid looked at Immanuelle and shook her head. Nothing quite made sense. During the longest and most excruciating day of Sid’s life, she thought Tomyris, the notorious leader of the Cadejos, had killed or captured her daughter, only now to discover that her little girl was Tomyris.
“What have you gotten yourself into?”
“I should be asking you the same thing,” Immanuelle said, looking her mother up and down. “You scared the hell outta me. Coming up in the elevator in heavy armor like that. Good thing I recognized Dad, otherwise . . .”
Immanuelle decided not to finish the sentence. She studied Sid and Cyrus, perhaps more stunned by this turn of events than them. These people weren’t the mother and father she left behind in Reis. She’d never seen them like this before. Together, all geared up, they cut an imposing image.
“What are you doing here?” she began. “Hell, when’s the last time either of you left Reis?”
“We thought you’d been kidnapped.”
“Or killed,” Cyrus added.
“Why would you think that?”
Sid took off her helmet and nodded toward Devin. His eyes went wide with recognition.
“Devin, here, wandered into the Falling Sky while I was tending bar and passed along some cryptic message from Tomyris.”
Immanuelle’s eyes narrowed, “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“That’s what I thought. So, I poured him a few drinks until he let something slip about the attack on the convoy to Behistun.”
“We had to know if you were still alive,” Cyrus said as he gently squeezed Immanuelle’s hand.
Immanuelle still couldn’t believe they were here. She’d taken precautions to keep her parents in the dark about what she was doing. The last thing she wanted was for them to worry . . . then, a realization hit her and she turned to Devin.
“Wait, why’d you go to the Falling Sky?”
“Because that’s where you told me to go.” Devin responded nervously.
“I told you that’s where I grew up going,” Immanuelle kept pressing him. “You didn’t go to the Cliff’s Edge, did you?” Devin hesitated for a moment then shook his head.
Immanuelle’s heart sank. No wonder their reinforcements hadn’t arrived. They were still at the Cliff’s Edge waiting for word that the mission was a “Go.”
This changed everything. Without reinforcements, the spoil bank side of the mine would be unguarded, except for that turret. She turned to Devin.
“Did you at least fix the turret by the spoil banks?”
Devin shook his head.
“Damn it —”
“That’s not my fault. He shot it.”
Cyrus nodded his head with a shrug. Immanuelle turned and hurried toward the outpost. Sid and Cyrus looked at each other, then hustled after. Devin trailed behind, still dazed by everything going on.
As the outpost doors slid open, Sid scanned the operation. It had been converted into a command center. Four more Cadejos were inside, geared up for a fight.
Margo and Red didn’t even glance up from their terminals. Dee gripped a shotgun and eyeballed Sid and Cyrus. She stood near Arch, a Tevarin who took its eyes off the hologlobe and tried to get Immanuelle’s attention.
“Listen up,” Immanuelle paused until everyone was looking at her. “Cavalry isn’t coming. It’s just us.”
A nervous look rippled through the room. Even the two on the terminals looked away from their screens.
“So, let’s focus on putting up as much of a fight as we can here, but be prepared to fall back for phase two the second I make the call. That clear?”
“Crystal,” her crew answered in unison.
“Hold on a minute,” Cyrus raised his voice for Immanuelle. He got everyone’s attention though, so he seized the opportunity. “We need to get out of here. The Vucari are coming.”
“We know,” answered Immanuelle. “We lured them here.”
Cyrus stood there, dumbfounded, then turned to Sid, who looked as if she was about to erupt.
“What in the hell is going on here?” Sid finally burst out.
“It’s a long story . . .”
“Then start talking. We came a long damn way.”
“Mom, I know. I’m sorry. I never meant —”
“Sorry?” Sid steamrolled. “I don’t even know where to begin. Ten minutes ago, I was worried you might be dead. Now, you’re not only alive but Tomyris, a damn outlaw mastermind.”
“It’s not that simple.”
“Let’s make it simple. Are you responsible for the attacks on those convoys?”
“Well . . . yes and no. But they weren’t attacks —”
“Don’t bullshit your mother. We saw what happened to that convoy to Behistun.”
“I’m not denying it. I’m trying to tell you that we staged it.”
“What? How?” Cyrus asked in quick succession.
“Every attack credited to the Cadejos was staged, actually,” she stated matter-of-factly. “Devin’s been using the crane to grab old vehicles out of the mine. Then we shoot at ’em, maybe even blow ’em up a bit, so they look the part and then dump what’s left into Vucari territory.”
Cyrus pressed on, still pulling the pieces together, “But it wasn’t just attacks. What about all those rumors? The ones about the Cadejos and their weird ritualistic stuff?”
“Just rumors to make the Cadejos memorable. Some people believe anything after a few drinks. Lots of rumors start with a few folks talking in dark bars, right, Mom?”
Sid was quiet. Immanuelle smirked. She knew her mom couldn’t refute that. It was her quote, after all.
“Plus,” she continued, “there had to be a reason there weren’t bodies at the sites, only wreckage and body armor.”
Sid shook her head. Secretly, she was impressed but dared not let her daughter know. At least, not until she answered the most obvious question.
“Why are you doing all this?” Sid asked.
“Because someone had to before Master Kraujas and the Vucari take over the city. The UEE obviously don’t care about us, otherwise they’d be doing something about it. He knows that. He’s more worried about other outlaw packs than anything else.”
“But, why’d it have to be you?”
“When my convoy was ambushed last year . . .” Immanuelle’s voice broke with emotion. “I laid there, half-dead and watching the Vucari just execute my friends. After it was over, I waited for somebody, anybody, to step up and take them down, but nothing happened. Told Head Office, they just cut cheap compensation checks to the families and back to business as usual. ”
“Hey,” cried Margo from the comm station. “Rua’s on the line. The Vucari are about to enter the valley.”
Immanuelle quickly composed herself, and then called out confidently, “Make sure he doesn’t do anything too risky. Looks like we’re gonna need that truck.”
“Mom, Dad you gotta get outta here, now. Devin will take you back —”
“Wait, what?” Devin stammered. Everyone ignored him.
“We all go or no one goes,” stated Cyrus. Sid nodded in solidarity. A concerned look crossed their daughter’s face.
“This isn’t a joke, Dad. With our reinforcements waiting back in the Cliff’s Edge, we’re outnumbered and outgunned. This is gonna be a real fight.”
“Oh, don’t worry dear,” replied Sid. “This is far from our first.”
Rua sent the final scan then pressed the accelerator to the floor. The truck sped into the valley and turned to the outpost. A massive dust cloud churned behind him, proclaiming the arrival of the Vucari cavalry. They attached special brushes to their wheels that scraped the ground as they drove to kick up even more dust to feed the storm. It was a tactic they used to intimidate, and right now it was working.
The scout’s jobs were to snag a few good scans, transmit them to the outpost and then lead the Vucari into the valley. He’d succeeded on the first two accounts and was in the midst of the third when the ground exploded not far from his truck.
Suddenly, sensors wailed, warning that the truck’s rear shield was soaking up gunfire. Rua jerked the wheel sharply right and hit a button on the console. The truck’s turret burst to life and ripped a volley of return fire at the horde.
“Margo,” Rua called over comms. “They’re hot on my tail coming into the valley. You guys ready?”
“Good to go.”
The truck’s turret, which had been firing non-stop, sputtered to a stop. The acrid smell of burnt electronics hit Rua’s nostrils.
Before Rua, the valley’s steep shoulders narrowed to create a natural bottleneck that would force the Vucari vehicles to collapse into a column. Rua stopped weaving and accelerated, putting as much distance between him and the Vucari as possible.
He finally passed the first set of turrets, carefully hidden in crevices on opposite sides of the valley.
“Position one cleared!”
At the outpost, Margo gave Red the signal. He activated the first set of turrets. Back in the valley, they snapped to attention and turned toward the approaching Vucari cavalry. In anticipation, Rua started counting, attempting to see exactly how far ahead he was.
When the first wave of Vucari pursuers were finally within range of the turrets, a torrent of bullets ripped through them. Some of the vehicles slammed into each other and rolled. The second wave of vehicles crashed into the unexpected roadblock, only making the mayhem worse.
A few Vucari vehicles slipped through unscathed and continued their pursuit. Rua glanced at the scanner and constantly adjusted his course, so none of them could get a clear shot at him.
“That’s right, you bastards, keep coming,” Rua muttered then hit his comms. “Cleared position two!”
Moments later, a second set of hidden turrets activated and unloaded on the Vucari vehicles still following. The few who survived the second assault halted their pursuit. Rua unleashed a celebratory roar and continued towards the outpost.
Through the outpost windows, Sid and Cyrus watched Rua’s truck flee the mayhem behind him. A sense of uneasiness hung over both of them. Armed conflict was nothing new for these two, but they’d never felt more unprepared. They’d spent Immanuelle’s whole life shielding her from this kind of world. Now they were deep in it with her, facing a fight that would’ve given them pause even at the height of their merc days.
“Damn it! Where is he?”
Immanuelle’s outburst drew their attention to the hologlobe, which projected Rua’s scans of the advancing Vucari cavalry. Arch has been studying them intently, but still hadn’t found what they needed to know — exactly where in this churning cloud of dust and machinery was Master Kraujas and his tachyon cannon?
The turrets flanking the outpost were set to fire at any hostiles within range, but they had hoped to locate Master Kraujas’ vehicle in the Vucari formation so they could focus the firepower of both turrets on him. Cutting off the head of the snake would make this entire endeavor much easier.
“Rua’s almost back,” called Margo, “but the truck’s turret is busted.”
Immanuelle glanced out the window and clocked his location.
“Hey, Dad . . .” she turned to see Cyrus already walking out the door. She hurried after him when Rua’s truck came to a hard stop between the outpost and the edge of the mine.
“Who the hell’s this?” Rua asked when he saw Cyrus.
“Your dad . . .” He shot Cyrus a wary glare. “Fine. I don’t suppose you can fix a turret, old man.”
“Can even do it while giving you some cover,” Cyrus replied while climbing in back by the turret.
Once in, he looked up to see Sid crossing to them from the outpost. She stopped next to Immanuelle and double-tapped the armor over her heart. Cyrus responded with the same gesture, smiled and went to work.
“Did you see him?” Immanuelle asked Rua.
“Kraujas,” she persisted. “We can’t ID him on any of your scans.”
One of the autonomous ground turrets flanking the outpost burst to life. Moments later, the second turret fired too. From the volume of shots, clearly, they had a lot of targets to choose from. Immanuelle knew the turrets couldn’t hold back the Vucari for long.
“Devin, what’s your twenty?”
“Hurry, we don’t have a lot of time.”
Suddenly, one of the turrets flanking the outpost exploded. Sid and Immanuelle ducked down against the truck.
“How the hell?”
Then the second turret exploded as a bright flash came from the spoil banks across the mine, accompanied by the unmistakable sound of a tachyon cannon. Immanuelle and Sid looked towards it.
No wonder they couldn’t find Master Kraujas on the scans. He’d sent most of his forces into the maw of their defenses, while his vehicle and a few others snuck around to the other side of the mine. Without reinforcements guarding the far side, Master Kraujas and his tachyon cannon had walked right in and taken out their defenses. With the turrets down, all they could hear were the sounds of engines approaching.
“Get outta here. Go give Devin some help!” Immanuelle yelled into the truck. Sid stepped away, as Rua spun the truck towards the hauling road that led down into the mine.
Immanuelle turned to see Sid raise her rifle. A Dragonfly careened around an outpost corner with two Vucari raising guns. Sid popped off a series of shots that punched through the pilot’s chestplate. He slumped forward, nosediving the bike into the ground. It hit hard, then fell over on its left side; eventually skidding to a stop not far from Immanuelle, who stood there stunned.
“Mom . . . you can shoot.”
“See, I’ve got my surprises too.”
Sid suddenly snapped up her rifle and fired two more shots at the bike’s passenger. Immanuelle spun around to see he had pulled a pistol off his left hip, which was trapped under the Dragonfly.
“You didn’t even hesitate. You just —”
“Honey, later. Right now, it might be time for phase two.”
Immanuelle hit her comms, “Outpost team, fall back.”
She then started toward the lift. Sid called after her while studying her scans.
“Hold on, help me with this.”
Sid beckoned Immanuelle back to the Dragonfly. The thing still purred. They might be able to use it.
Meanwhile, the outpost door opened and Dee emerged with her shotgun at the ready. She held the doorway open as the others rushed to it.
A sudden flash blinded Sid and Immanuelle. Both were blown back from the bike. When they looked up, the outpost entrance had been obliterated by a direct hit from Master Kraujas’ tachyon cannon.
Sid stayed low and crawled to the other side of the bike. Immanuelle pointed to the lift. Phase two better work, she thought, because they’d just lost half their forces in one shot.
Immanuelle started to push herself up but Sid grabbed her, urging her to hold still. Moments later, another tachyon cannon strike lit up the outpost again, reducing a good chunk of it to rubble. A low rumble could be heard. Flashes of approaching Dragonflies and Rovers appeared through the settling dirt and debris.
“Help me get this bike up,” cried Sid.
“We need to —”
“Trust me!” Sid slid her armor’s massive arms under the front of the bike and waited. “Gotta do this now.”
Immanuelle pushed herself up, grabbed the handlebar, and pulled.
Deep within the mine, Devin jumped in the cab of an old truck half-hidden amidst the wreckage. The truck’s cab had been ripped out and replaced with a custom console he’d designed, ship-grade diamond laminate for the cab’s glass and a reinforced frame that met the standards of tanks.
He flipped a switch and the dashboard lit up. Two massive turrets slowly emerged from concealed locations on opposite sides of the mine. They were phase two, and positioned perfectly to strike vehicles weaving their way down the hauling road under the outpost.
Devin took control of one turret and set the other to automatic. He spun his turret away from the outpost and towards the spoil bank side of the mine. Devin consulted the scans and located three blips in a cluster near where the hauling road descended into the mine. The blips turned and headed his way.
The turret didn’t have an ideal angle, but it’d do. Devin squeezed off a burst of shots. A torrent of bullets ripped through one of the Vucari vehicles. The other two scrambled, reversing away from the mine’s edge and back into the protection of the spoil banks.
Devin couldn’t tell if the vehicle he’d hit was Master Kraujas’ or not, so he focused on the scans, waiting until either vehicle dared creep closer. He hit his comms.
“Got a turret on the spoil banks and took out one of the vehicles. That leaves two to go on the far side . . . anybody else out there?”
He prayed someone would respond.
On the hauling road below the outpost, Rua slid aggressively into a switchback. The momentum slammed Cyrus against the side of the truck, dropping his multi-tool. The truck drifted right up to the edge of the hauling road before finding its traction.
“We can’t help if we don’t survive the drive down!” Cyrus called while grabbing the dropped multi-tool. Rua eased off the accelerator and accessed group comms.
“Rua reporting in. I’m with the old guy. We’re about a third of the way down, heading to your position.”
Rua exhaled, relieved that Devin’s turret had distracted Master Kraujas. Rua glanced in the rearview mirror to see Cyrus digging through a supply crate.
“How’s it going?”
“Looking good,” Cyrus used his multi-tool to cut a corner off a tarp that partially covered the back of the truck, and then laid it before him. He placed grenades from the supply crate in the middle of it and then folded all four corners around them.
“How much longer?”
“Gotta wait for the diagnostic to finish,” Cyrus tied a tight knot to secure the bag of grenades, then placed it at his feet.
Cyrus’ mobi pinged and he popped open the hatch to access the turret’s inner workings. Rua glanced at the truck’s scanner to see blips about to swarm the outpost. Two separated from the main force to follow them down the hauling road.
“Tangos coming our way,” reported Rua. Cyrus glanced at his scan then went to work on the turret, hoping he could fix it before it was too late.
The Dragonfly had bent its front left skid and scraped its side, but it still worked. It just now naturally drifted left. Immanuelle grasped a handlebar to steady it as Sid climbed aboard.
“I’ve got it from here,” called Sid. “Have the lift ready to go the second I get there.”
Immanuelle hurried off. Sid rotated the bike toward a pair of approaching Rovers, taking into consideration its new drift. Sid carefully climbed off the bike, but kept hold of a handlebar. Once on the ground, her free hand popped opened the saddlebag, then pulled a grenade off her armor.
Sid double checked the bike’s aim. Satisfied, she cooked the grenade and dropped it in the saddlebag. Then she gave the Dragonfly a little juice and let go.
The bike bucked hard, causing it to slice further left than expected. It drifted over the outpost rubble as the Rovers sped between the wreckage and the edge of the mine. Though the aim wasn’t true, the timing was impeccable. The grenade exploded just as the Rovers passed it, sending enough Dragonfly shrapnel into the lead vehicle to blast it onto its side. The trailing vehicle hit the brakes hard and oversteered in an attempt to avoid the wreck. It rolled over and finally came to rest upside down.
Smoke and dust swirled around the crash site. Sid couldn’t spot any survivors but didn’t have time to confirm. Instead, she tracked flashes of movement beyond the half-destroyed outpost, heading to the other outpost corner. She drew her rifle and backed toward the elevator shaft, barrel at the ready and aimed at the area between the outpost and edge of the mine.
Moments later, a swarm of Dragonflies spilled around it. Sid sprayed them with bullets. She pulled the pin on her last grenade and rolled it before her as they charged. She’d tossed enough of them in her merc days to know the blast radius, but she’d never had to run away from one in heavy armor before.
Sid sprinted towards the elevator but was soon drawing deep breaths that slowed her down. Suddenly, she wasn’t sure if she could make it out of the danger zone in time. Instinctively counting down the seconds until the blast, she threw herself to the ground when she reached one.
The grenade exploded. It kicked up dirt and sent the lead Dragonfly spinning wildly enough to toss its passenger into the open expanse of the mine. A large jagged piece of shrapnel pinged harmlessly off her armor and she was suddenly very glad she had chosen to wear the heavier suit.
Sid pulled herself up and scrambled the final few meters into the elevator. The second she was in the lift, Immanuelle started their descent. The lift dropped out of sight as the dust from the blast settled. Sid tried to catch her breath, hoping she’d done enough to keep the Vucari at bay until they reached the pit floor.
Immanuelle hit the group comms, “Immanuelle checking in. My mom and I —”
An explosion echoed through the mine outside and rocked the elevator. The turret controlled by Devin went up in a flash. Immanuelle glanced nervously at Sid. Their defenses were dwindling.
Still, Immanuelle hit group comms again, “We’re coming down in the elevator. Let’s get that second turret on Master Kraujas to keep him occupied. We’re sitting ducks in this thing.”
Devin grabbed the controls of the remaining turret and deactivated autonomous mode. He swung it towards the spoil bank side of the mine and glanced at the scanner. The two blips had separated. One remained topside, near the spoil banks. The other blip darted across the screen, a sure sign they were moving down the hauling road and into the mine.
Devin wasn’t sure which blip was Master Kraujas, so he took a guess. He panned the turret to the top of the mine by the spoil banks, figuring it was a perfect perch for Master Kraujas’ tachyon cannon. The turret scanned for Master Kraujas’ vehicle, until a flash of light betrayed its position. Devin turned the turret toward it and fired.
Master Kraujas’ tachyon blast missed the elevator car but struck the shaft higher up. Debris rained down on the elevator car, denting the reinforced roof above their heads. Sid pulled Immanuelle close and then forced them to the floor in a corner of the elevator, using her heavy armor to shield her daughter from falling debris.
Suddenly, Sid’s stomach spun and for a second it felt like she was floating. A chunk of debris had knocked the elevator’s counterweight free, sending the elevator car into freefall. Even though it wasn’t far from the ground, when the elevator car hit the bottom of the shaft, a shockwave of pain jolted through both Sid and Immanuelle.
For a split second, Sid thought the worst was over. Then a large chunk of debris slammed into the reinforced elevator roof and brought it down upon them. Everything went black.
Devin scanned the top side of the mine, as Master Kraujas’ vehicle had again retreated into the spoil banks where it was out of the turret’s range and line of fire. His intense focus on taking out Kraujas’ vehicle made him forget about the other Vucari vehicle. That is, until it attacked his turret.
The turret soaked up a few more bullets as Devin arced its barrel from the top of the mine to the pit floor. The Vucari Rover raced away from its position and squeezed off another burst of shots that missed the turret.
Devin returned fire and landed a few hits, but it didn’t matter. Seconds later the turret exploded from a tachyon pulse. Master Kraujas had taken advantage of the distraction to line up a perfect shot.
Devin slammed his fist into the console. He sat in the cab, completely defanged as Master Kraujas’ vehicle sped down the hauling road into the mine. He drew his pistol and rested it on his lap, unsure of what to do next.
Two Vucari buggies expertly slid through the switchback behind Rua’s truck. They were getting a little too close for comfort without that turret working.
“Let’s go, let’s go!” Rua pleaded.
Cyrus completed an adjustment to the turret, rebooted the system and mentally crossed his fingers. While waiting, he raised his sniper rifle and sighted in the closest pursuer. The truck bucked as he took the shot, sending it high.
He made a few quick adjustments then grabbed the makeshift bag of grenades by his feet. Rua slowed the truck and spun it into the final switchback before the pit floor. The truck careened around the corner, then began its final descent.
Cyrus dropped the bag of grenades just after the turn, and then raised his sniper rifle. He sighted the bag and breathed deep. Dirt soon swirled into the turn as the pursuing buggies slid through it. Cyrus exhaled and took the shot.
The bag exploded and blew away the first buggy, while blinding the second with dust and debris. The blast also shaved off a section of the road, narrowing it significantly. The second buggy fell victim to this new trap and tumbled headfirst to the floor of the mine.
Cyrus checked his mobi and was relieved to see his repairs worked.
“Turret is up and running on auto. I’ll provide support with my rifle.”
“Copy that,” Rua said while spinning the truck onto the pit floor. He then hit the group comms, “Reinforcements have arrived!”
Only then did Rua realize that with both turrets down, they might be the only force left. He steered the truck behind a pile of wreckage. Then he noticed a blip on the scanner weaving its way towards them from across the pit floor. The Vucari vehicle that had distracted Devin was now searching for them.
“Rua, come in,” Immanuelle hoarsely whispered over comms.
“Where are you?”
“Not far from the elevator,” she answered, out of breath. She had just pulled Sid out of the wreckage and dragged her behind the nearest pile of scrap. Once safe, Immanuelle had stuck her mom with a medpen, bringing her back from the brink.
“Where are you?”
“Between you and the crane.” Rua replied.
“Can you double back to us?”
Sid tapped Immanuelle and motioned to the hauling road coming from the outpost. The remaining Vucari forces streamed down the road and toward the pit floor.
“. . . and we need you here fast. There’s a lotta company coming from the outpost side.”
Cyrus hopped out of the truck and circled to the driver’s side door.
“Tell ’em we’ll be there soon. Just hold this position for a second. Wanna use you as bait to get a good angle on that Vucari stalking us.”
Cyrus hustled away before Rua could respond. As Cyrus edged around a pile of wreckage, Rua hit the group comm.
“We’ll be there soon.”
“Copy that. Head toward the elevator when you can. We’ll be on your right.”
Cyrus spotted the Vucari vehicle cautiously crossing the pit floor and toward their location, its windshield already badly damaged from the earlier exchange with the turret. Cyrus hustled behind the next scrap pile and checked the angle. This was it.
He made a final few adjustments on his sniper rifle and then fired two patient shots. Before the vehicle even reacted, Cyrus changed positions and moved toward the truck. At his next cover point, he stopped to see the buggy drift until it slammed into a pile of scrap. Once it came to a rest, he sighted in on the vehicle to see the driver slumped over the wheel.
“Got him,” Cyrus commed to Rua. “Let’s go get my girls.”
Rua moved the truck past the edge of the scrap pile in the direction Cyrus had disappeared. Master Kraujas spotted the movement as his truck reached the pit floor. He fired and struck the pile of wreckage before Rua’s truck. The explosion sent the scrap flying and flipped the truck.
The shockwave blew Cyrus off his feet into a pile of wreckage. Around him the world faded in and out of focus.
Immanuelle heard the impact of the tachyon pulse. She glanced around the corner to see Rua’s truck roll to a stop. She looked away and shook her head, despondent.
“Cyrus!” cried Sid over group comms. The two waited for a response, but got none.
“What now?” Asked Immanuelle, unsure how they could ever escape.
“We make Kraujas pay.”
Immanuelle took a second and then nodded in agreement.
“You have a plan?”
Sid’s eyes drifted up. Immanuelle followed them to see the massive magnet dangling from the jib. “You head there and I’ll try to flush him to it.”
Immanuelle hesitated, suddenly worried that this might be the last time they saw each other. Sid had no time for sentimentality.
Immanuelle nodded and then took off towards the crane. Sid turned towards Kraujas, wishing she hadn’t used all her grenades.
Master Kraujas swept his tachyon cannon from left to right. Everything seemed still on the pit floor except for a figure slowly pulling itself from the wreckage. Master Kraujas ordered his truck forward slowly.
The truck crept toward the crash site until Master Kraujas stopped it. He released his magnetic boots and hopped out of the vehicle, intent on finding out if the wounded figured was alive enough to give him any information on the Cadejo. He wanted to ensure this was the end of them.
As Master Kraujas strode to the crash site, Sid stepped from the shadows with her rifle raised. She fired off several shots at him. They plinked off his Titan armor. Master Kraujas stopped and turned toward his attacker.
Sid released the trigger. A smile spread across Master Kraujas’ face, but fell when he saw Sid wink at him and point to something high above his head.
It was only now that Master Kraujas heard the mechanical noise. He looked up to see the crane’s jib moving a massive metal plate above his head.
Inside the crane’s cab, Immanuelle flipped the switch that activated the electromagnet. It ripped Master Kraujas off the ground. His Titan armor slammed into the magnet with incredible force.
Immanuelle turned the jib and raised the magnet as high as it could go. Then she cut the power. Master Kraujas plummeted to the ground from the great height. Not even his Titan armor could save him now.
The twisted pile of metal and flesh didn’t move.
The Vucari outlaw behind the wheel of Master Kraujas’ vehicle was too stunned by the turn of events to notice Devin sneak up on him. A headshot from his pistol took the driver out. Devin pulled him out of the truck, slid behind the wheel and raced to Rua’s truck.
Sid was already there by Rua’s side. He’d dragged himself from the wreckage, then collapsed. She checked his vitals, but it was too late.
Devin climbed out of the truck and joined her. Sid ordered him to help her check the wreckage, but neither of them could find Cyrus.
Immanuelle jogged up, euphoric from their unlikely victory. She slowed when she saw the worry on Sid’s face.
“What . . .” she said slowly, then realized. “Where’s Dad?”
Sid shook her head, “I don’t know.”
“We gotta keep looking for him.”
“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea,” interjected Devin.
“He’s right. It’s too dangerous. There are still some Vucari coming. Go while you can.” Sid checked the rounds on her rifle. Engines thundered from the hauling road by the outpost as they approached the pit floor.
“I’m not going anywhere.” Immanuelle shot back defiantly.
“Don’t argue with your mother,” Cyrus’ voice crackled over comms. “It doesn’t end well.”
They all turned to see Cyrus stumble forward from where he had landed, clutching his side. Sid and Immanuelle rushed to him. Sid fished a medpen out and treated his wounds.
The world sharpened into focus around Cyrus. The two stood over him, looking relieved.
“I’m so happy to see you . . .” started Immanuelle.
“Me too. Now, let’s go,” said Cyrus as he tried to stand.
Sid and Immanuelle pulled him to his feet and helped him into the truck cab. Then Sid pulled up into the cab herself and fired it up. Immanuelle knocked on the side once she and Devin were in the back. Sid stepped on the accelerator.
Under the outpost, the lead Vucari vehicle raced around the last switchback before the pit floor, not realizing the road suddenly narrowed because of the previous blast. Its right front wheel slipped into the crater, dragging the rest of the vehicle with it. The trailing vehicles came around the corner more cautiously and finally poured onto the pit floor. They fanned out across it, surveying the destruction. They soon discovered Master Kraujas’ crushed Titan Armor and gathered around it. Leaderless, they were unsure of what they should do next.
The remaining Vucari were too stunned by the loss of their leader to notice his old truck escaping up the hauling road. Sid sped it out of the mine, past the spoil banks and onto the Platean Plain.
Immanuelle brought up her mobi and keyed in a sequence.
“What are you doing?” Asked Devin.
“Phase three,” she said as she pressed the final trigger.
In response, a massive series of explosions triggered from the pit floor, collapsing the mine.
Cyrus watched the massive plume of dust rise behind them for a moment, then turned to his daughter. “Okay, starting now, no more secrets.”