This story is by Chris Murphy and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The explosion occurred at precisely 1:25 am. The hovercraft arrived thirteen seconds later and deposited two figures onto the ruined 23rd floor of the Bisyn Technologies building before ascending into the clouds.
“Clock’s ticking, gentlemen.” A lithe, ebony-wrapped form moved toward the remains of a cherry wood executive desk, her companion following her lead. “Your plastique placement did the trick, SAM.” She nodded at the interior of the damaged office, “Power’s down. Find that safe.”
“Acknowledged.” Her robotic companion moved into the ruined interior.
Naomi Tyme watched the Synthetic Autonomous Mercenary navigate through the spacious office. “Normal view.” Her stealth suit’s goggles instantly complied, the green hued night vision shifting to colorless darkness. She turned to the ruined exterior wall. The peaceful cityscape indicated their entrance had gone unnoticed.
Her experience indicated otherwise, “We’re in, Justin. I need a systems check and SITREP.”
Her mood lightened when the familiar voice sounded in her suit’s comlink, “Comin’ through loud and clear, Nae. Everything’s green on my end.”
“Copy that. What’s playing on the local channels?”
“Well, your grand entrance definitely got their attention. Local law enforcement is in full mobilization mode. First responders are headed your way now. ETA, ten minutes.”
“Acknowledged. Did you copy that, Lawson?”
The second voice had the opposite effect on her, “Yeah, mate. I got it. Just make it quick, will ya? Gonna need a bloody dunny soon.”
“Save it for the debrief, Mitch, and stay sharp. Our window’s closing fast.” She turned toward the darkened office, “You heard the man, SAM. We’ve got legals en route.”
The faint sound of sirens snapped her attention back to the city. “Surveillance mode, magnification six.” Her goggles instantly obeyed and her vision was filled with speeding emergency vehicles, red and blue lights announcing their alert status. “Normal view.” The vehicles transformed into an illuminated snake streaming towards them. “Looks like you’re going to earn your exorbitant fees tonight, SAM. What’s the news on that safe?”
The android’s sudden appearance at her side startled her. It stuck a thumb over its right shoulder, “Northwest wall. Usual place. Your target isn’t very original.”
Naomi glanced toward the office interior, “Right.” She gave the android a quick nod, “You set up here. Defensive protocols only. I want regular recon and asset reports. Lawson, we’ll need immediate evac on my signal.”
“Bloody well knew I shoulda chucked a sickie today.”
“Yeah, I copy, mate. No worries.”
She watched a scoped rifle materialize out of thin air into the merc-bot’s waiting hands before turning towards her target. “Night vision.” Her goggles complied and the darkness melted into the familiar green tint. She moved through the ruined office toward a ragged portrait of a grim looking corporate executive. The painting offered no resistance when she swung it on its hidden hinges to reveal a recessed wall safe.
Naomi smiled, “Looks like your intel was dead on, Justin. A Zeldyne 2500.” She pulled a small keypad from her belt and magnetically attached it to the steel surface of the safe. Her nimble fingers danced across the keys, “How much time?”
She was surprised by the tone of his response, “They’re right on top of you, Nae. It looks like they’ve called in everyone but the National Guard.”
The android’s metallic voice rang out from across the room, “Our guests have arrived. I count 35 hostiles in full riot gear with more on the way. M-80s, canister launchers, and a dozen snipers visible. Perimeter is being formed to cordon off the southeast corner of the building.”
Naomi’s fingers were a blur as she punched override codes into her keypad. “Copy that.” She entered the last digits and waited for the keypad’s green indicator light to signal her success. It flashed red instead. She swore under her breath and re-entered the codes with renewed focus.
“Reinforcements are arriving.” The android’s calm tone belied their circumstances. “Infiltration team preparing to breach the lower levels.”
The flashing red indicator light was greeted with more vulgarity, “Justin, this code isn’t working. Did your informant give you anything else on this safe?”
“That’s all she had. You need to get out of there. I’m sending in Lawson!”
“NO! Do not, under any circumstances, deviate from the plan unless I give the order. Understood?”
There was the slightest intrusion of background static accompanying his response, “Yeah, I copy that. But I’m telling you, these guys aren’t playing around. Haven’t seen this kind of asset response since…” The static grew louder. “Hold on..econd. Something is wro… kind of interfer… to isolate… sig…” Static overtook the transmission before the comlink went silent.
Naomi pointed in the merc-bot’s direction, “SAM, scan for a MEC. Confirm they’re jamming our comms.”
“Affirmative. I see one Mobile Electronic Communication unit approximately 200 yards to the south. I can remove it from the premises if you wish.”
“No time.” She punched a button on the keypad, “Switching to plan B.” She moved to the ruined desk, “We’re going to need your demolition expertise again.”
The scoped rifle disappeared as the android headed for the safe. In less than a minute, a liberal amount of plastic explosive was placed around its exposed edges.
The merc-bot rejoined Naomi near the remains of the desk, “The safe distance for this detonation cannot be achieved in this room. Recommend exiting to the adjoining hallway.”
Naomi nodded and made her way toward the office door. She was three steps from safety when the merc-bot’s metallic voice echoed off the office walls, “Bio scanners indicate insertion team has breached the lower levels of the building and are making their way here. ETA, three minutes.”
Her mind flew through her options before settling on the only viable one, “Okay, we’re going to have to improvise.” Without waiting for a response, she sprinted for the exterior wall’s jagged cavity. Her blood froze when she saw the massive army of law enforcement officials sprawled out beneath her.
The merc-bot’s voice seemed to fill the room, “Infiltration team is four floors away. Recommend aborting mission.”
Naomi removed a weapon from her belt and pointed it at the sky, “Negative. Stand by for extraction. I’m going to get Lawson’s attention.” She fired and watched the flare ascend into the clouds before exploding in a glorious flash of red.
She yelled over her shoulder, “Get over here, SAM! He’ll be here in 15 seconds!”
The sound of the transport’s engines rattled the ruined office as the merc-bot joined Naomi at the exfiltration point. Spotlights from below illuminated the entire office building giving a clear view of the shuttle hovering near the exit. She entered the transport first, “Lawson, we’re going to need the mag-grapple. Is it ready?”
“Gimme a tick to tee it up.”
Gunfire from below could barely be heard over the hovercraft’s engines. “Target my keypad’s signal! Northwest wall!”
Bullets chipped away at the shuttle’s hull, the sounds of their ricochets popping all around them. A metallic object suddenly flew from the shuttle’s exterior into the office, its steel cable slicing through the air before coming to a sudden stop.
“Stand by for detonation!”
Before the merc-bot could respond, the illuminated office was suddenly filled with armed police officers, weapons trained at the hovercraft’s open hatch. Their commander’s voice filled the shuttle’s cabin, “FIRE!”
Naomi’s chest tightened, “BLOW IT, SAM!”
“I hate to interrupt, Mr. Tyme, but I’m afraid visiting hours are over.” The nurse’s expression revealed her distaste for her current duty.
I nodded and turned back to my daughter, “Time’s up, princess. Afraid we’ll have to continue the story tomorrow.”
Her face beamed with anticipation, “But, does the team get away with the safe?”
I smiled, “We’ll find out tomorrow, sweetheart. Time for you to rest now.” I lightly touched her nose and winked, “Doctor’s orders.”
She nodded and slid beneath the covers on her hospital bed. I gently kissed her forehead and tucked her worn-out Kermit the Frog stuffed doll under her arm. She smiled up at me, “I’ll bet they got away, daddy, ‘cause all your stories have happy endings.”
“That’s a really good bet, baby girl.” Another kiss on the head, “All stories should have happy endings.”
Her only response was a knowing smile. She hugged her Kermit and whispered, “Goodnight, daddy.”
I wiped a tear sneaking down my cheek and whispered back, “Goodnight, Nae.”
The nurse walked with me to the elevators, “I’m sorry Pediatric ICU visitation rules are so strict, Mr. Tyme. But don’t worry. Your daughter is doing very well after her surgery and Dr. Monroe believes they got it all.”
I nodded, “God, I hope so. My wife and I haven’t stopped crying since he told us.”
The nurse smiled, “She’s a real fighter. She’s going to beat this.”
I thanked her for her kindness as the elevator arrived. My daughter’s voice was echoing in my mind when the doors opened, “…all your stories have happy endings.”
I was smiling when they closed behind me, “Yeah, they do.”