Tetrarch’s Dilemma 36

Amazingly, at least to Gina Wilcox, they did not have to chase the bots very far. The machines cleared the property owned by the Church, but stayed in the Abandoned Warehouse District. Other entities evidently set up shop in the area, including somebody with access to police bots.

She waited outside a large structure the bots entered with their human cargo, feeling frustrated and irritated that she did not have a camo unit like Julia. Instead she spied through Julia’s neural implant, listening and watching everything the other woman heard and saw. It felt less than satisfactory to Wilcox, but at least it was something.

“There does not appear to be much in the way of security,” Julia whispered over her neural net while looking around on the inside. “Just the armed police bots. That’s enough out here, I guess. I mean, after all it’s the AbandonedWarehouse District. Are you sensing any monitors?”

“No. The place has no external electronics, except for the bots. They can transfer data back to HQ if they need to. I am sensing three people inside with neural implants, though. Be careful.”

“Okay.”

Begrudgingly, the Sergeant thought, their toolsets did compliment one another. Maybe it was a better idea that she stayed outside after all. She returned her attention to Julia’s feed, watching through her eyes.

Julia crept down a hall to a doorway where she heard voices. Somebody was talking while the elderly couple returned to consciousness and started making loud noises.

She found a closed door. The voices came from behind it.

In her head, Gina whispered, “The bots are in there. The people with implants are in another room.”

Julia looked and spied an open door further down the hall. She walked to it and peeked her head around the corner. She stared into a control booth, with a thick window showing an open area with doors on either side. The elderly couple and the police bots could be seen through the window.

Three men stood in the booth staring at occupants of the larger room.

One of the men said, “We’ve made all the final calculations and considerations. This should work.”

“I’m a little nervous about being here, Baron. Are you sure about this?”

“Yes, we’ve experimented. We can stand here and not be affected, the barrier will protect us. However, you’ll want to wear sunglasses. These are welder-level dark and should do the trick. Or you can look away when it happens, but that would kind of defeat the point, wouldn’t it?”

Baron smiled while handing out thick, dark sunglasses.

The elderly couple stood up. The man shook his fist at them down on the floor of the large room. His voice came into the control booth through a speaker.

“You’ve got no right, waking up good people like that and dragging them away!”

The three men smiled as the old woman grabbed her husband’s arm and tried to hide behind him. She tried to cower from both the police bots and the men behind the window.

“You’re free to go, old timer,” the man called Baron said, activating a floating holo switch that looked like a microphone. “Just walk over to the other side of the room, to that door over there on the far wall, and you can head back home.”

The couple turned and spied the door several meters away. Then they noticed that between them and the exit, a large black apparatus lay sprawled out on the floor.

“What is that thing?” the old man said.

“Nothing, don’t worry about that. Just . . . step right over it. Now, go on. Get going.”

Still the couple hesitated.

Baron flicked the mic switch again and said, “Police bots, herd these people toward the door.”

The bots advanced forward a step, with a metallic thunk! They raised their stun guns in a threatening gesture.

The older couple dutifully retreated from them, and began heading for the far door.

A few steps later they came to the thick, black flat metal beams stretching across the floor. The men at the door tensed in expectation.

Wilcox felt a premonition. She said, “Don’t look, Julia! Turn your face! Your eyelids are transparent.”

Julia turned just as the couple stepped across the contraption. A blinding flash of light lit up the room.

She turned back and . . . the man and woman were gone.

“You were right, Baron,” one of the control booth men said, a tone of wonder in his voice as he removed his sunglasses. “This barrier did the trick. We were within a few meters and suffered no ill effects! My face feels sunburned, though.”

Baron said, “The teleportation occurs instantaneously. If you are shielded enough, you are not effected. The wall and window are made from special materials.”

“How did the bots do?” the other man said.

Julia stretched her neck for a better look into the room. The bots were a smoldering pile of ruins on the floor.

Baron said, “Oh well. Rostin PD will have to get us a couple more bots. Better them than us, am I right boys?”

The sound of the men laughing faded as Julia quietly made her way back down the hall, heading for the exit.

Gina’s voice felt small in her ear.

The Sergeant said, “What in the world happened to those people, Julia?”

Julia shook her head, partly in frustration and partly in anger.

She said, “I think they walked into the sun.”

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