chapter 2

Society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it

Henry Thomas Buckle

“Impressive” said Matt, as Robert sat down at the table after a lengthy questioning by the police. “I see that your time in the boom-boys hasn’t softened you up, eh Rob?” (Boom-boys is what matt and Robert called the demolitions squad. Rob was the shortened version of Robert. In fact, why don’t we just use that?).
“No, it hasn’t” Rob agreed, shaking his head. “How are you and your toys?” (They referred to ‘tanks and other vehicles with big guns’ as toys)
“Good. We got a new vehicle-it’s bigger than a normal dropship, and has a hell of a lot more guns!”
“How many more?”
“Think ‘orbital weapons platform’” Robs bright blue eyes widened
“Oh. My. God! YOU with a satellite sized weapons system! I’d be scared if you had piece of cotton, for God’s sake!” (You see, while Matt had blonde hair, like most people in the city, he was by no means small. He towered above most people, being about seven feet tall, and, in proportion, had the build of a tank. Or, more accurately, a tank with the top half of a gorilla attached. A gorilla with robotic arms, and a hugely increased torso size. As you can guess, he was useful in a fight, but crap at hiding. They had to create a set of vehicles specially designed for him-he took up three men’s spaces in a dropship!!!).
“Yeah, great isn’t it?” Matt said, grinning broadly, his brown eyes sparkling. “But that’s not why I asked you to meet me.” He said, suddenly becoming more serious. “I have a job for you. Or rather, our superiors have a job.” Rob sensed that this was important. Not many things could make Matt this serious.
“Of course. What’s the job?”
“You know those criminals you just took out?” said Matt, gesturing towards the cleaning squad that were still cleaning the blood up.
“Well, they are-sorry, were-part of a gang called the Ku Klux Klan. They are a group of criminals who believe that only ‘pure humans’-that’s what they call white people-deserve to live. I know” Matt added, as Rob’s face changed into a look of complete horror “It’s a throwback to ancient times. Everyone thought they were wiped out in 2050, but it appears that some believers survived, even through thousands of years of racial equality and inter-breeding.”
“So that bank raid was-”
“Yes. They were attempting to fund their criminal actions.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“We have reason to believe that they’re base of operations is in one of the outlying villages. I can’t tell you anymore now, as it’s classified and will only be divulged if you accept the job.”
“But why me?”
Matt looked at the three bodies in a pile, and then Robs’ unscathed appearance. “Do you really need an explanation?”
Rob nodded his head. “Touché”
“Anyway” Matt continued “we need someone we can trust, and you’ve demonstrated your loyalty a number of times. What d’ ya say?”

               *                               *                              *
On the side of a large green hill, something moved over a rough gravel road. Dust and stones were being kicked up on either side, spraying anything that got too close.
Except, there was nothing there. At least, there was nothing you could see, except a slight shimmer in the air, and the obvious dust.
Rob shifted in his seat as the APC bumped roughly over more dips and stones in the road. You see, no ground vehicle apart from the biggest tanks had hover capabilities, as they were likely to be destroyed if a war broke out, and hover vehicles were expensive. The domestic car and train were hover vehicles, because they weren’t in danger very often, and hopefully wouldn’t be crashed at all.
The APC crunched over more of what Rob sincerely hoped where stones, and not some poor animal who got in the way of the cloaked APC.
“I understand you’re after some gangsters” the driver called from the front.
“Yeah” Rob answered.
“Yep” Rob didn’t feel very talkative.
“I wish I was going with you. I used to be in the anti-terrorist division”
“Really?” the number of words in Rob’s vocabulary was nose-diving.
“Yep. But I got moved to the transport battalion when it became apparent that my driving was a hell of a lot better than my stealth.” Rob didn’t say anything. “This is pretty ironic when you consider that I’m driving stealth APC.”
“Yeah.” Robs lack of enthusiasm was ignored.
“What equipment did you get issued?”
“Um….” Rob rustled around under the seat, moving aside various boxes that had slid beneath his chair. “A belt of 5 grenades,” he rustled around some more “an AI laser pistol,” he moved some more boxes. “And an AIA assault rifle.”
“A bit under-gunned, aren’t you? Only a assault rifle-did you get a silencer for it?”
“Yep, that’s one thing I did get given.”
“I hope you’ve been promised back-up if you need it?”
“No. once I’ve assassinated the leader, they’re going to launch an all-out assault. Until then, I’m on my own.”
The APC bumped over more stones and rocks. The driver made as if to say something, then stopped. A particularly large rock caused Rob to bump his head on the ceiling of the vehicle.
“You OK back there?” called back the driver when Rob let out a particularly loud grunt.
“Yeah” he grunted, rubbing his head.
“Hey, I’ve had a thought.”
“What?” asked Rob, curious.
“I’ve got a little something inside one of the cases back there. In the yellow box. I think you might like it.”
Rob, curious, reached beneath his seat and searched around. His fingers wrapped around the biggest box (he had seen the yellow box earlier, as it had been loaded. It just happened to be the biggest.), and brought it out.
The box was a large yellow rectangle, which took up most of the seat Rob was sitting on. It had large black stripes on the side, and two handles on either side. All in all, it was rather, well……boxish.
Rob undid the clips on the lid, and opened it. He gasped.
Inside was what looked like a suit of armour, albeit one that shimmered under his gaze as if it was a mirage in a desert. Rob picked up the battle suit, turning it this way and that, watching it shimmer.
The driver chuckled.
“The boys gave that. It’s a discontinued model-it’s quite old, but the stealth still works. The newer models are just lighter and less expensive.”
“Are you sure you’re OK with giving me this?”
“Sure. You need it more than I do. Besides-” the APC lurched to the left. “Besides, they gave me a pair of them-I had a less than perfect track record with battle armours.” He chuckled again. “In fact, I’m wearing the other one now-you never know!”
“No” another stomach-churning lurch. “Especially with your driving” Rob muttered.  The driver gave a throaty chuckle. Rob half-smiled and half-grimaced. It seemed that the drivers’ only laugh was a chuckle, but it was kind of irritating. “How long?” Rob asked.
“An hour and a half.” The driver replied “That is, if traffic isn’t bad” he chuckled again, and Rob groaned. It was going to be a long 90 minutes. “Motion sickness, eh? Watch the seats-they’re leather.” He chuckled again. Rob rolled his eyes at the drivers (constant) bad jokes. It was going to be a very long 90 minutes.

              *                                *                              *

“We’re almost there.”
Rob started awake, only just realizing that he had fallen asleep. The driver chuckled. Again. “Get your gear together-ETA is 5 minutes.” Rob hauled his belt on, and slung his machine gun over his shoulder, his pistol in its sling, with the silencers already in place. He was already wearing the battle suit, having put it on previous to his little rest.
“Where are we?”
“Just outside Brigton”
“The terrorists are based here?”
“Yeah. It’s a shame, isn’t it? This used to be a nice town-Now?” he gave a mirthless (you guessed it) chuckle. “Look out the window.”
“There isn’t one.”
“Oh, yeah. Hang on.” There was a grunt from the front as the driver lent down and pumped a handle vigorously, taking one hand off the wheel. The APC lurched from side to side as the driver pumped furiously and again as he attempted to regain control. “There you go. Now look out the window.”
“Why isn’t there a button to wind down the window?” Rob asked as he repositioned himself to look at the newly-opened hatch behind him (a layer of metal had slid down-the actual window behind him couldn’t, as it was what’s responsible for the cloaking mechanism).
“Well, there was, but you know how it is-there’s an accident, no ones hurt, nothing damaged-except some unimportant button that you’ve never needed-until after its broken.”
“When was the accident?”
“Last week”
“But how-”
“Just look out the window!!” Rob looked out the window, and gasped. In the place of a town, there was instead a maze of ruins, with towers around the perimeter. The towers, however, looked just as dilapidated as the other buildings, until you noticed that they looked a little too ruined to be still standing. Unless, of course, they were propped up against something else. And what were the chances of that?
Another bump. “We’re getting closer, so get ready to jump out-they’ve probably seen the dust”
“Doesn’t the dust being kicked up defeat the entire point of a stealth APC?” asked Rob critically.
“Yeah, but I tend not to think about it. Doesn’t do any good, you know?” The APC lurched round another corner, bringing it closer and closer to the ruins. “Get ready-ETA, 1 minute!” Rob nodded, and went to stand by the door of the APC. Rob looked at the driver.
“Hey, I never got your name.”
“It’s Steven.” Rob smiled.
“My brother was called Steven.” His smile vanished. “He was posted at Khein, when it was attacked last month.” Steven glanced back at Rob.
“My Sister was posted at Khein as well. But I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Fair enough.”
“OK, Get ready. 5.” Rob checked his ammo. “4.” He checked his grenades. “3.” He checked the straps on his armour. “2” he secured his guns. “1-see ya!”
The APCs’ side was suddenly torn open, and cold night air roared inwards, while the APC itself was thrown to the side. Rob smashed his head on something, and everything went dark.

The End

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