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The Protector

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Title: Protector

Wordcount: 1562


Image: Can Stock Photo / grandfailure


With a sharp click the lock was owned, Briggs slowly entered the dark, damp and vial smelling apartment, closely followed by his spotter now putting his lock picks away in preference of his weapon.

“Awww… It smells like the sewer in here” said Nick, bringing his hand to his face in a futile attempt to mask the stench.

Briggs said nothing and continued to slowly scan the room with his weapon raised in a tactical position, ready for any situation and they had been in many a situation as a team.

Both men were adorned in the standard light range “Vexel Corp” tactical response uniforms. All cover high-grade lightweight plating, service helmet with coms and vision enhancement. The two were well protected for most encounters and situations they could come across. They had opted for the light range option today as they were sure this was to only be a “look and leave” mission.

They had been partnered for nearly five years and had spent all of it working Junket Town, that little haven in the Metropolis where you could get your hands on tech, pills and just about anything that your heart desired.

Nick was a little more relaxed with his weapon lowered but still deadly to the user, “Who called this one, Price?” asked Nick still struggling with the smell “I bet this is payback for me taking all his money at poker on Tuesday, he really can be a…” Nick fell silent as Briggs halted, lowered his stance and raised his left hand in a closed fist, hold position.

Two fingers shot up and then pointed forward, both men were now crouched low and focused on a door leading from their current position into an adjoining room. Nick was now beside his partner and every bit the trained and hardened mercenary that he was, he knew better than to question his partner’s uncanny senses, they had saved the duo many times and this could be another.

Briggs had paused in all motion and this became very unsettling for Nick. Nick looked at his partner and breaking protocol whispered: “Are you ok man?” This seemed to break Briggs from his uncharacteristic trance, “Something is very wrong here, switch to piercers and arm your shock.”

Nick knew better than to question him and did as he was bid; something big was about to go down as they never loaded full tactical on a hunch, ever. This was a system all go moment and both men prepared to breach the door. Nick moved into position and sprayed response foam on the hinges and handle of the door and then stepped aside ready for the manoeuvre. Briggs watched the foam dissolve the doorframe and weaken the entry point ready for breach.

Taking a deep breath Briggs stood directly in front of the door and with his imposing 6 feet 3 inch well muscular frame, planted a well-squared boot in the centre of the door shattering it into the room as both men followed it’s trajectory.

There was no need to scan the room, the object of Briggs’s caution was standing before them, front and centre in all its strange yet mystical glory. The creature was around 7 feet tall with skin like burnt leather, somewhat humanoid in appearance, it was naked but that appeared to be its natural state, it also seemed to have an unnatural glow that encompassed its entire body. Both men were still, there was a beauty and peace in that moment that neither could explain, that was until Nick noticed the body on the floor with its chest cavity torn opened and gaping hole.

“Engage!” yelled Briggs, both men unloaded a serious amount of firepower into the direction of the creature but it appeared to be absorbed by the field that was flowing over its body like a mist.

The creature had one visible item in its presence, a bracelet or watch of some sort on its right wrist, the duo had no idea as to what it was or what it did but they were about to find out.

The creature using its left hand tapped the device once and spoke an inaudible string of words. Time seemed to freeze for both men, they were powerless to move, the bullets were frozen in place, life seemed to stop but at the same time they could sense, feel and contemplate everything that was happening around them. The creature moved towards the men pushing aside the stray shrapnel with its elongated fingers as it approached to studied them both up close.

Briggs looked into the creature’s eyes and could not see his impending doom but that of a life changing moment. The creature reached out and touched the forehead of Nick who passes out in that instant.

The creature held out its arm, all the while Briggs had a full view of what was going on. The bracelet began to move; it was alive, vibrant and opened into something that resembled a large flat metallic centipede with multiple spikes for legs, but no visible head. It crawled around the creature’s wrist and then along its hand, defying gravity to stay attached and then leapt from the creature to land on and grasp the frozen barrel of Briggs’s weapon. Making its way along the weapon it crawled onto his left hand and circled his wrist, locking into position the legs tore deep into his flesh with such force and pain he nearly passed out, if that had been an option I am sure he would have chosen it, but it was not. Briggs at that point seemed to have an existential experience as he left his own body to watch a past scene in time unfolded before him, he and Nick were no longer in the apartment but the original occupant was, still alive and with no gaping hole in his chest. Though the vision was hazy, like watching a movie through smoke it was still very vivid and surreal.  A knock at the victim’s door sees him open it and three Vexel Corp mercenaries enter the apartment.

Briggs recognised them all, Jasper and Paulie from the Secom Division, these were some hardened guys and also good friends with Nick and himself, but it was Price, James Price that caught his attention, their boss and long-time mentor. What was he doing here?

Prices voice was a little muffled but still understandable “I believe you are in possession of a type one medical contagion and the Vexel Corp would like their property back”, The following scenes seemed to change in speed from fast to slow, in sporadic orientation but still Briggs understood what was happening and that the three Vexel Corp employees had murdered the occupant of this apartment and somehow arranged for him and Nick to take the fall.

The vision was over in an instant and Briggs now found himself back in the apartment, he did not like what he had seen, he had lots of questions, was this a true take on the events that took place or a trick, did this creature have the ability to bend his mind or was he being manipulated by the now attached parasite attached to his wrist. The creature gazed into Briggs’s eyes and said the only tangible word that he understood, “PROTECTOR” and with that touched the living bracelet. The pain was so intense that this time he did indeed pass out.

Briggs opened his eyes, dazed and confused to find himself seated at the table of his usual Tuesday boy’s poker night, “Thought we lost you there buddy, you might want to slow down on the bourbon there big guy?” said Price with a now not so genuine smile “Then again I might get some of my money back if you don’t!” he finished. Everyone at the table laughed except Briggs, was he going mad, did he just dream his encounter, what the hell was going on.

“Nice bracelet Briggs, did you have that on when you got here?” asked Jasper holding his cards close to his chest. Briggs looked at all the occupants of the poker night and it was the team from his vision, Jasper, Paulie and Price, plus Nick and himself.

Briggs stared at his wrist for a moment, this was a solid clarification that he was not going mad and that he had not been in a dream. The bracelet firmly attached and with a little smile towards his questioner said, “Like everything in life Jasper, we only see what we want to see!”

“That’s deep man, maybe a little too deep for a friendly poker game, so I raise you 25 credits!” said Price with a self-righteous smirk.

Briggs carefully and secretly reached under the table and down to his right boot where he felt his issue K7 backup pistol, old friend he thought as he sat back up and look around the table.

“You ok mate?” said Nick patting his partner and friend on the back.

“Yes Nick I am, and do I have a story for you but first let me take care of some business!”

Nick closed his hand, placed the cards face down on the table and with a smile said “Gentleman, it’s time to lay your cards on the table”

The End

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