Chapter One – The New Addition
Thame Elliot stood rigid, feet planted firm on large black tiles. He breathed slow and relaxed. He wore brown cargo pants and a dark green, short sleeve collared shirt underneath a black leather jacket. Brown eyes simmered behind dark shades with an intense, razor sharp focus.
Stretching from floor to ceiling was ten centimeter thick, fiber filigree bullet proof glass that protected him on either side. He riddled off consecutive shots from the latest toy developed by Valant Corporation, the las-bow. At Thame’s waist hung several cartridges, containing cylindrical shells five millimeters long. When activated by pressing the small circular button located at the back end of the shell and placed against the bow string, the cartridge sprung to life with a long, blue laser in the shape of an arrow. Las-bow technology was the latest invention from the weapons manufacturing division of Valant Corporation; intelligent, heat seeking and laser accurate tracking projectiles that were not available to the international market, yet.
Small, circular bulls eye targets slid back and forth across the range in multiple rows, varying in distance and height. Thame raised the bow and arrow to his cheek, pulling back on the string, feeling the taut pressure in his muscles, breathing in pain. The laser cast a pea-sized dot on the target. Thame followed the moving target until a confirmation beep sounded in his ear signaling that the las-bow had locked onto the target. He let fly the laser arrow which streaked toward the moving bull’s eye. Nano-bots inside the cylindrical shell curved the arrow’s trajectory automatically due to its internal GPS navigation and homing capability toward the metallic bull’s eye, locking on and colliding, detonating with a small explosion on contact. Another blue laser arrow soared in from Thame’s right and caught a bull’s eye in the center and exploded.
“These new weapons from V.C. are incredible,” said Cyrus with a wide smile. He pulled another shell from the spring loaded cartridge strapped to his waist. Wearing the metallic grey exo-suit with helmet concealed in the collar along with gloves that were retracted; each could be deployed in a matter of mili-seconds should danger arise. He had striking, deep blue eyes and brown hair tipped with blue that stood straight into the air like porcupine quills. “They say if you use these in live combat the laser arrow will carve through anything in front of it until it reaches an object that the laser can’t penetrate and then the ordinates in the shell will detonate; can’t wait until we can use these things in combat against the Orcs.”
The exo-suit was also developed by Valant Corporation and distributed to the Eioda Nation States military. Valant Co was unmatched by any other human corporation when it came to weapon manufacturing and although the exo-suit could be considered defensive armor, it was also a weapon. The sleek, skin tight armor was practically indestructible and made with a variety of precious metals and plastics that gave it unmatched maneuverability.
“Lately you’ve seemed a tad bit battle hungry Cy,” said Thame notching another laser shell. “Everything okay? Anything you want to talk about?”
“We’ve been sitting around and doing nothing. It’s been months since the wedding,” replied Cyrus. “We need to get a move on--”
“Get a move on what? Starting the next world war? ” interrupted Charlotte leaning against the door frame of the sound proof shooting gallery. Her blue streaked brown hair loosely hung past her shoulders. Despite being nine months pregnant, she still moved with the stealth of a Felidae jungle cat stalking prey. Wobbling over to stand next to her twin brother and husband with a hand resting on her watermelon sized stomach, Charlotte gave Thame a peck on the lips. She smelled of fresh linen and dressed comfortably in baggy sweatpants and a long white t-shirt.
Glaring at his twin sister through blue eyes narrowed in a slit of frustration, Cyrus shook his mop of spiky brown hair. “There is so much more to accomplish if we’re going to make this world a better place,” replied Cyrus. He could not help but look down at his unborn niece or nephew as he spoke.
“Starting a war is more likely than not the only thing you can hope to accomplish by--” Charlotte tried to say before being interrupted.
“We’re already at war!” said Cyrus through clenched teeth.
“In that case it is all the more reason for you to let me hold that new las-bow,” said Charlotte changing the subject with a sly smile while reaching for the weapon and missing. She stared up at Cyrus with round saucer like eyes, pleading and innocent, identical deep, pools of blue.
“No way. Look at your belly. You’re on the verge of bursting. Remember the doctor said no strenuous activity,” said Thame positioning himself between his brother-in-law and the mother of his unborn child.
“Ha, that’s not strenuous,” said Charlotte. “It’s regular exercise. Now toss it over so I can try. I like to blow up stuff too you know.” She reached for the weapon trying to stretch her arms around Thame playfully. That is until she let out a grunt and bent over, face screwed up into a grimace of pain.
“Are you okay?” asked Thame tossing aside the new bow. He supported the bulk of his wife and unborn child in his arms. He tried to ease his wife out of the gun range.
Cyrus hovered on the other side of his sister, watching carefully with concern etched on his olive complexioned face.
“I think I just burst,” said Charlotte, concern in her deep blue orbs.
The two young men looked down with eyes wide at the spreading pool of clear fluid expanding across the concrete.
“Gross,” said Cyrus with a look of disgust. “Don’t tell me this stuff was just inside you.” His lips twisted in a snarl as he looked at the bottom of his exo-suit boots. “That’s nasty Char.”
He was silenced with a surprisingly powerful punch to the chest by Charlotte. “Don’t just stand there, get me to a hospital!” shouted Charlotte, fist balled up, ready to deliver another blow.
Thame scooped up his wife in both arms and carried her out of the room.
“I can still walk you know,” said Charlotte.
“No, no, no, sweetheart,” said Thame on the verge of being frantic. “I’m not taking any chances. Cyrus! Call the shuttle!” He shouted to his stunned brother-in-law who was in the corner wiping down the souls of his exo-suit covered feet.
Cyrus made no move to respond at first. Ultimately with a huff, he resigned to his role as an administrative assistant to his twin sister’s first birth. He slumped his shoulders and tapped a series of buttons on the exo-suit forearm panel. He spoke nonchalantly into the speaker, contacting the Landry family driver who was on twenty four-seven stand by alert.
Thame and Charlotte exited the indoor range and stepped onto the well-manicured lawn of the Landry estate. The hover-shuttle came to a rest a meter away from the mansion. Scuttling to the awaiting shuttle with Charlotte holding on tightly, Thame tried to keep her head from bobbling too violently while in his arms. The hover shuttle with remote controlled doors slid to the side to offer a wide entrance while floating several dozen centimeters off the grass on blue ion propulsions flames. Thrusting themselves into the hover-craft before it could come to a complete stop. Thame strapped Charlotte into her seat with a seven point harness that required major adjustments due to her large stomach.
Cyrus sprinted from the range and leapt to collide with the bottom step of the hover shuttle as it lifted off. “Little help,” he said straining to pull himself aboard. The automatic sliding doors repeatedly bounced off his elbows, trying to close.
Thame pulled Cyrus aboard the ship. An agony filled shriek ripped through the shuttle cabin that had plush black leather seats. The hover shuttles interior was five meters in height and ten meters in width for ample area to stretch out. Thame was by Charlotte’s side instantly. He took her hand within his and instantly regretted that decision. She squeezed his hand with a monstrous strength never before displayed that could crush a bear, thought Thame. Clenching his teeth to avoid screaming out, he found himself down on one knee from the pain. He tried to pull his hand away before the bones were crushed to dust but his wife held tight.
Cyrus looked at the couple interlocked together, each grimacing in pain. He smiled to himself and let out a slight chuckle that was hidden behind his hand. Pressing a button on the door panel console, a round table rose from the center of the hover shuttle. In a chilled compartment built into the metallic, round center table leg, Cyrus pulled out a glass bottle of brown liquor and poured himself a generous helping while chuckling at the expense of his sister and brother-in-law.