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Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Cypher's Tale 23 Alt 1


Bathed in fading pink light, in a concrete and glass commercial corridor, under the haze that the city breathed, behind a misleading plate glass window, two fake plants and a grey counter, an old gynoid clicked at intruders.

It had fine blond polypropylene hair and unnaturally big, blue eyes. It wore a dusty grey tunic. Its head tilted sidewise at an unnatural angle, due to a burnt-out accelerometer.

"Welcome to Tom's Travel Agency. How may I help you."

A khaki uniform raised a glove and fried the thing. Speakers popped, and a black mark appeared on its breast.

Another black glove pointed the way forward.

Tyson raised his head from a map. He sat in a tiny office amidst stacks of discs. A crowbar leaned in one corner. A straight bush sword hung on the wall behind him, above a stained butternut harness. A small red LED flashed and the PDA on his wrist buzzed twice.

Tyson slipped on the harness and lifted a rifle from the second corner. He stood by his door and felt the other employees scurrying toward the stairs. Something scratched on the back of his skull

and he stepped to the right, blasting the entry team while the front door was still swinging. #1 fell right, # 2 fell left almost as planned, but the third uniform fell forward, clutching its collar. Tyson dropped to a knee, halfway behind his door jam. A series of harsh grinding sounds came from the annex and ball shot shattered the water cooler, but the center of the office was deserted.

The essence of entry is speed and recklessness, and the opfor was well trained. They rushed in over the bodies of their comrades, crouching, jumping. One even rolled. Tyson rocked back, cutting off his view of the door and all but one attacker. He fired. He shifted forward and to the right until he saw another and fired. He saw two and shredded them with a three second burst.

The remainder were scrambling to their right and shooting the office furniture. A drizzle of bullets pattered on his office wall. Next should be

a grenade bounced against his door and into the office. He scooped it out and dove to the left. It was only an urban fragmenter, but shrapnel still bounced and peppered his legs. He sat up and lobbed a piece of military antique around the corner.

The blast shattered the first floor's windows and collapsed a wall. Tyson leapt out of his office and let his weapon go on full auto while he sprinted for the steel desk that held the printer.

A second team came through the doors. These were not, strictly speaking, an entry team, but a cleanup crew. They had heavier weapons including two flame throwers and rifles bulkier than Tyson's.

He would have been happy to meet them outdoors, but flame throwers in an office building is bad news. Part of his mind guided a stream of lead. Part of it analyzed the situation strategically. Part of it cried What The Fuck as he touched off a gas explosion.

The first team had acted correctly, rushing into unknown resistance. The second team had rushed into a constricted area under a heavy enfilade. None would weep at their graves. They were cremated.

Tyson's cover was blown back as well. The blast knocked him into a water cooler, cut his scalp, and shattered his ear drums. He cried out silently, clutching his head. Flames rolled across the floor on a wave of oil.


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