Raylorian Dawn
Author: Othello Gooden Jr.

Chapter 8
Lainhardt Alpha

Miles away, Zana saw a small traffic jam before three large tunnels at the edge of lunar-2’s domed city. Each large gray tunnel had lights leading into a large hangar area. There were shuttles leaving to and from the place like airplanes at an airport. Zana and her men entered the tunnel after waiting in line for a half an hour.

 

The control tower, surrounded by shorter buildings, could be seen in the center of the place. Personnel and travelers boarding shuttles populated the area like a colony of ants. A sign reading, “Welcome to the Second Lunar Spaceport” was posted on a side rail next to the front gate attendant. Zana’s stopped her car next to the attendant booth. A dark skinned older man wearing an all blue uniform approached their vehicle. He had a picture of a shuttle overlapping a crescent moon with small cities on his neatly pressed suit.

 

“I need to see your passport.” The man ordered as the woman rolled down her window. He peered into the car and after seeing Ricky and Virgil in the back seat he added, “From—all three of ya!”

 

Zana smiled as she opened up a compartment underneath the dashboard, pulling out three green passport books, and handed them to the man. He looked over each one briefly.

 

“Thank you Ms. Daryl and your two—brothers!” The attendant smiled back at Zana as he handed her the passports back. “And say hi to the Mellis’ if you’re on your way up to Zyra, for me, please?”

 

“I will,” Zana said in her fake polish accent and then looked to his name badge adding, “Mr—Chris.”

 

Zana drove off into the spaceport’s shuttle holding area after the gate rose. Instead of following traffic, Zana drove into an isolated area squared off by a few dozen trailers. She parked their car next to one of them.

 

After getting out the car with Ricky and Virgil, Zana pressed a button on her suit’s arm. A panel flipped open.  She pressed another button on the panel. A HUD visor materialized around her eyes. Zana scanned the area using her visor’s X-ray setting and scanned the area. She looked left of their current location and saw two men scouting the outside perimeter of an enclosed area. Three of them were standing around a large trailer. A massively built android was inside it.

 

“There.” Zana pointed to a small area capped off by a boxed trailer area and started walking toward it. Ricky and Virgil followed closely behind her in silence.

 

When the three operatives neared their destination, Zana pressed a button on her suit’s forearm, deactivating her HUD display.  She stopped walking for a moment and motioned the other two to stop also after drawing her weapon that was clipped to her belt.  The eeriness of someone or something watching them started to overcome her.  At that moment, Zana turned around and pointed her weapon at whatever she had felt had been following them.

 

Two android sentries were standing behind them with weapons drawn in retaliation to Zana’s defensive move. Ricky and Virgil reacted similar, drawing their weapons, and aiming them at two more sentries coming from behind Zana.

 

“Ah, Ms. Elaine, so good to see you!” A male voice spoke from behind the sentries. His tone was sarcastic.

 

“Cut the small lingo, bub.” Zana answered, turning around to a man in dark blue armor. He stepped in front of the sentries to reveal himself.  The man had a wide grin on his face as he greeted Zana and her men.

 

“Where is it, Blaze?” Zana asked with impatience as she lowered her firearm and holstered it. Ricky and Virgil did the same with their weapons.

 

“It’s safe!” Blaze laughed. “But first—my payment?”

 

“Check the amount.” Zana said after taking out her PDA clipped to her belt on the opposite side of her weapon. She tossed it to him. “20 Billion is what we owe you, right?”

 

“40 Billion.” Blaze smirked.

“Why you greedy little—”

 

Blaze’s guards cocked their firearms into charging mode upon hearing Ricky's remark. Ricky and Virgil raised their firearms again at Blaze’s android bodyguards in retaliation.

 

“We agreed on 20 Billion!” Zana growled.

 

“Hey, times are tough!” Blaze sounded sympathetic. “The Black Market is hurting too in this interplanetary recession!”

 

“Recession?” Zana grinned. “You gotta be kidding me! After the trillions you spent smuggling—”

 

“I would watch that tongue if I were you, little girl!” Blaze interrupted as he then aimed a much different weapon at her. It was a long barreled pistol with a white clip sitting in front of the firing mechanism. Zana could hear a small buzzing sound coming from inside of it. “You Elaines got a problem with speaking your minds—that’s why yall don’t live too long!”

 

“And you DeSotos are no different!” Ricky argued.

 

“Oh?” Blaze laughed, almost mockingly. “What about Jeff Elaine, Falkeun’s so called best?”

 

“Big whoop! …You’re all cousins anyway!” Ricky growled, still having his gun pointed at the men facing Zana’s back. “You sicken me with your meaningless family feuds!”

 

“Shut it, Rick!” Blaze twisted his lip upward while angrily glaring at Ricky.

 

A silence between both parties enclosed the air. All that was heard was the noises from the busy section of the spaceport—passengers loading the shuttles, spaceport staff notifying the crowd of different crafts coming to and from Lunar-2. Looking directly into Blaze’s eyes, she could see his impatience. That was how he got his name. If he was angry, you could see the fire sparkling in his pupils. In this mood, anyone who looked into his eyes could crack in an instant—unless they were someone that wasn’t fazed by the mercenary’s ‘evil’ look. Zahra could see that Blaze’s growing impatience made his eyes flicker evermore so.

 

“40 billion it is!” Zana said after a short sigh, trying to hide her nervousness. The hesitation in her speech made it evident.

 

“Zana, don’t!” Ricky said in warning. “Falkeun told us to—”

 

“We don’t have a choice!” Zana yelled, tilting her head sideways at Ricky.

 

“I thought you might have seen things my way!” Blaze smirked, lowering his gun. He changed the amount on Zana’s PDA. After tapping a button on the screen with the stylus, the machine beeped with a computerized voice that notified him of his choice being approved.

 

“Right this way.” Blaze walked past the three after his men confiscated their weapons. He placed the PDA back in Zana’s hand before stepping into the boxed off area hidden by a holographic wall. Zana and her men followed shortly behind them.

 

The wall disappeared just as Blaze passed through it. The group stopped at seeing the 12-foot tall metallic gray square trailer in front of them. Zana’s jaw dropped as the trailer was opened, revealing a 10-foot tall, yellow and red plated robot. Its shoulders were shaped like the segments on a knight’s plate mail. The rest of the body was shrouded in red plating underneath a whitish blue cloak stretching down to its legs. Zana looked the robot deep in the eye. It stared back with its green glowing Cyclops lens in the center of its plate mail helmet.

 

“He’s all yours!” Blaze shouted triumphantly after he shoved a remote control in her right hand, breaking Zana from her gazing. Blaze laughed cynically and said, “Pleasure doing business with ya!”

 

Blaze whistled to his android bodyguards. They started to leave one by one through another holographic wall on the opposite side of the trailer. When the last of Blaze’s men left, the wall turned off, leaving a wide-open space.

 

Zana stood there with the large gizmo in her hand, slowly admiring the artistic design of the remote. Ricky and Virgil looked at it with apathy. There was nothing special about the half dozen arrangements of tiny bulbs and buttons on the control pad except for a medium sized green button in the center of the pad. Zana pressed the button. The lights on the remote flickered like neon lights on a billboard. Her eyes grew wide in amazement to the light show performance before her.

 

“I advise you learn all about Lainhardt elsewhere.” Blaze grinned after popping his head back into the enclosure; breaking Zana from her hypnotized state. Zana looked up at him with a confused look.

 

“You know LIA has this place under heavy surveillance!” Blaze added. He disappeared again—This time for good.

 

At that moment, Zana turned a key inserted at the top of the remote. Lainhardt stepped forward.

 

“Awaiting voice recognition!” Lainhardt said in monotone after stopping in front of Zana.

“Zana Elaine.” Zana finally said after standing there for a couple moments.

“Zana Elaine?” Lainhardt asked in confirmation.

Zana responded with a nod.

“Intruder alert—LIA agents approaching!” Lainhardt answered.

 

Ricky and Virgil drew their weapons upon hearing Lainhardt’s warning. They pointed towards the openings around them.

 

“Zana, didn’t Blaze say we shouldn’t’ve—”

“Shut it, Virg!” Zana yelled.

“Lainhardt,” Zana began. “Take care of the intruders.”

“Acknowledged!” Lainhardt answered as it faded out of existence.

 

Seconds later, Zana and her men heard LIA agents yelling. They were firing at something that suddenly came out of nowhere and attacked them.

 

A low buzzing sound grumbled in the area. The pitch rose louder. Zana and her men closed their ears as the sound began screeching. Zana could briefly hear the LIA agents screaming from the deafening sound. All sounds stopped for a moment in Zana's mind, moving her to believe she'd gone deaf in both ears. All that was left was a ringing sensation. She looked to Ricky and Virgil bending downward, holding their ears in pain. Finally, a low boom broke the silence, followed by the smell of flesh burning. Zana grimaced to the smell, uncovering her ears to close her nose with her fingers. The three of them rushed to their car just to avoid the repulsive stench.

 

“Intruders purged.” Lainhardt informed Zana moments later.

 

Zana gasped, startled by Lainhardt's ghastly entrance before her. She sighed in relief, trying to regain her composure. Yet that stench of burning flesh was still there, causing the young woman to gag again.

 

“Follow us to the hideout.” Zana ordered Lainhardt after quickly getting in the car with Ricky and Virgil. All three of them unanimously sighed in relief after closing their doors. The stench was gone for the time being.

 

“Affirmative.” Lainhardt said with a nod.  He waited until their car began to move.

 

As they drove off, Lainhardt cloaked itself again. Zana sat in the back seat behind him this time while Virgil drove. She smiled while looking at the huge radar screen on the remote. There was a blue dot on it. The dot was Lainhardt’s location relative to her position.

 

“I still say we shouldn’t have paid that much.” Ricky said straightly. He was looking at Zana from his spot sitting on the passenger side.

 

“Lainhardt isn’t worth anything less than 20 billion.” Zana said. “All that tech GUB stole from E.I. years ago—40 billion sounds about right for a standard issue robotic guardian!”

 

“You’re father didn’t abuse company assets.” Ricky looked at her, disappointed.

 

Zana just looked at him with a blank stare. She shifted her attention back to the radar screen, ignoring him. She watched the radar like she was watching TV.

 

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