Dystopia Chapter 31

From the Story Arc: Dystopia

Previous Story in the Arc: Dystopia Chapter 27 by Krasnaya Zarya (Thursday, August 31, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Dystopia Chapter 32 by Krasniy Zakat (Monday, September 04, 2006)

(posted Saturday, September 02, 2006)

Consciousness came rushing upon Alex, his mind awake and alert without the usual grogginess that came with rising. He felt a strange warmth flowing through his body, and a glance to the IV jutting out of his arm – and the soldier withdrawing a syringe from the injection point in the tube – keyed him in to the reason for his sudden wakefulness. It was the same soldier, and possibly the same syringe, that had put him under some unknown period of time earlier.

Sudden sleep, sudden waking, no sense of time or rhythm; these were all tactics he'd heard of being used by the old KGB. In this world, it seemed that the KGB still practiced these methods, if they were still called the KGB. Aleksander had mentioned to him something about a new world government being instituted after the demise of America and the collapse of the global economy; the Internationale had finally come into existence, just like Stalin would have wanted it.

Fully alert, he started examining the two soldiers in the cell with him, and the strange equipment they were packing up onto an aluminium cart. They never spoke to each other, but they were coordinated in their efforts; Alex combined that bit of knowledge with the sight of two strange looking helmets, complete with needles and diodes, to deduce that he had been under the care of a pair of telepaths.

What did they get from me? He tried to think back to his period of unconsciousness, but could only envision vague glimpses of dreams, like a hidden memory on the edge of recollection. Nothing definite, nothing distinct enough for him to place it in his mind. They could have been looking for an any number of things – history of his world, defenses for a possible invasion, scientific breakthroughs – especially those.

The Portal! He took a deep breath, realization of the danger flooding him. He had been expecting to resist their interrogations long enough to make his escape – or to be rescued – and thus prevent his captors from taking advantage of his devices to enter his home dimension. With mind probes, this was an apparent impossibility; if they didn't know yet, they would soon enough. He would have to make his escape as soon as possible.

The two soldiers quickly yet neatly put the last of their equipment on the cart, but left him strapped down in the metal chair. Apparently they'd seen enough of his past to know that he could be dangerous, especially his hands. But he would not do anything until they left, he was no match for a strong telepath, this he knew from experience. Instead, he gave them a look of annoyance and sat quietly as they pushed the cart out the large door, which slammed shut behind them, but not before he caught a glimpse of another soldier outside, standing guard with a large automatic rifle.

He closed his eyes, envisioning his escape. From the look of the construction of the walls, he was probably below ground – steel-reinforced concrete structures were rarely built up. A military bunker, perhaps? Like Aleksander's laboratory had been, built into a hill? Either way, he would need to be looking for a way out, which meant either a staircase or an elevator. This place could be a maze; he was as likely to choose the wrong path and face down a room full of soldiers as he was to make it out without harm.

He focused less on the thoughts of the escape, and more on the present, on the build up of energy that had begun since he had been left alone. His cells were always over-producing, burning up resources faster than his body could create them and faster than his body could get rid of the excess product or store it as far. Even while he had been unconscious, his mitochondria were working overtime. Now he had a considerable pool to draw off of, to aid in his escape.

Normally, once he had coaxed his body into starting to release the energy, he would mentally focus it into small balls and point-charges, before releasing them on an unsuspecting target. This time, though, he was directing the energy into bands along the surface of his skin, below the leather straps and metal braces that held him in the chair. He did let one ball form, his reserve for when the guards would come to check on the sound of him destroying the bindings.

Once he was satisfied that he was ready, he relaxed his control on the energy, which immediately snapped away from him at near light speeds. Horrible crashing sounds rent the air as the crests flew across the room, destroying the restraints and impacting on the concrete walls, causing massive gouges and cracks along the structure. The overhead light flared as it was destroyed, leaving him in darkness.

A small beam of light appeared as the guard outside pulled open the view port and stared into the room. Alex calmly rose from the chair and gathered the remaining ball of energy in one hand, which he then drew back and across his chest, like he had as a young boy, skipping rocks across the lakes and rivers of Siberia. When the door opened, he snapped his hand forward, the ball of energy changing shape into an arc, which expanded sideways as it flew forwards.

The arc, which thinned as it grew in length, cut through the guard at the door at just above waist height, his torso falling forwards in front of his legs, mangled rifle landing beside him. There was a yelp of pain from outside the room, where the crest had continued until it hit the wall on the far side of the hallway. Another soldier outside was cradling the cauterized stump of his right arm, a short bloody trail on the side of his body marking how close he had been to meeting the fight of his fellow.

The soldier stared into Alex's eyes with shock and alarm for a short second before recovering, his left hand reaching for the pistol at his hip. A small beam shot from Alex's fingertips in response, melting a hole through the barrel of the gun and the leather holster. The soldier raised his arms in surrender before the gun even hit the ground.

“Get in,” Alex commanded coolly, gesturing to the inside of the cell. After the guard complied and stood safely in the far corner of the room, Alex made for the exit. He froze in the middle of the doorway and turned back to the guard. “Give me your keys and your pass card. Which way to the exit of this base?”

The soldier gulped back his fear and tossed Alex a large key chain and a thick ID card. He pointed to the right and mumbled, “The elevator is that way.”

Alex gave him a curt nod as if in thanks, and reached to the panel at the side of the door. A standard locking mechanism, with a keypad and card slot, and two large buttons at the bottom. He pressed the one marked “Close” and smirked as the door slammed shut, the clang of it automatically locking filling the hallway. A moment later he darted off down the hallway, one of the laser rifles hanging from a strap on his shoulder.

The young Russian soldier gulped as he stared at the bank of monitors before him. He had seen two of his comrades incapacitated – one through death, the other through imprisonment – and the red haired man exit the cell. Like the rest of his group, he had not been told what they were guarding in that room (or any room, for that matter); no soldier was ever told what he guarded in the ISB. More accurately, they were told what they were guarding, but they guarded doors and hallways, not objects or people.

And now Anatoly saw a breach in the floor that was his jurisdiction, an unauthorized person running around armed and dangerous. Luckily, the pass key he had taken would only give him access to a very limited number of rooms. Unfortunately, that included the way out.

His fingers fumbled for the comm panel and hovered over the general alert button. He changed his mind and instead contacted the guards at the elevator. If he could get this resolved without waking the base commander, he might get a promotion.

“Escaped prisoner approaching. Armed with rifle. Shoot on sight.”

Alex had not expected this to be easy, not by any stretch of the imagination, but he had not expected to find long unidentifiable corridors with nameless doors on all sides. He silently wished that the maze of corridors were blank and empty, and thus impossible to follow, but it was quite the opposite. In classic Soviet style, the hallways were covered in paintings, portraits and murals. It bombarded the mind with its gaudiness, prevented him from finding a distinctive feature besides “only two pictures of a general and one extra picture of a party leader”.

No aspect of the corridor ever gave directions or hinted as to whether or not the soldier he had imprisoned gave the right direction. He had grown too used to American institutions, where signs directing to exits and bathrooms littered every intersection. The corridor itself was very wide, so he made a series of quick assumptions to direct his path.

Mainly, that the small doors would not lead to the exit. A large corridor would have been built to support traffic – either due to a large number moving at once, or due to heavy machinery passing through. Forcing such traffic to go through a bottleneck would be contrary to design, so there must be a path along the corridor that would take it to the elevator.

This had been further supported by a test of his pass card on one of the doors: it refused to open, the little screen giving an access denied due to insufficient clearance message. Just like in the old Soviet Union, the government was too paranoid to give the soldiers access to anything except the rooms that they absolutely had to be in – barracks, bathrooms, mess hall – and whatever rooms they were assigned to for their job.

The corridor made a sharp turn to the left, and he came to a quick stop just before the corner. He leaned forward and twisted his head to peek around into the next corner, where a trio of soldiers were marching up and down the hallway, crossing a T-intersection further down the line.

He looked down at the rifle and sighed. He was certain the gun would have no problems hitting targets at 50 meters, but he could not give the same assurance of his own accuracy; a marksman he was not. He had tinkered with several pistols and rifles and giant cannons, but not enough to gain anything but a passing skill. Nothing compared to the accuracy he had developed with his natural weaponry.

He stepped back and held his hands parallel to each other. Small arcs of light shot across the gap between his palms, eventually merging into a large ball of energy. He brought one arm out to the side, the ball following along, then swung it around the corner. His head remained peeking around the wall, watching as the ball flew down the corridor towards the three soldiers.

The furthest soldier saw the ball approaching, bringing up his rifle to aim at it suspiciously. It traveled slowly towards them, Alex having focused most of the energy in the core as potential energy, instead of as kinetic energy. He shouted something to the other soldiers, who both raised their guns at the orb, each taking a step back away from it. They watched nervously as it passed the first of them harmlessly, then the second.

Alex stepped out from around the corner, took aim with a fingertip, and shot a small, quick beam of energy at the sphere. The pair collided spectacularly, a massive explosion filling the intersection, flinging the two closer soldiers towards him. The other was obscured by the smoke from the burnt air momentarily, then was also revealed as unconscious on the ground. He approached them slowly, tentatively, looking for even the smallest sign of action. When he reached the first, he stared carefully at his own rifle, analyzing its structure, then at the rifle on the floor. A quick burst from his hand rendered the weapon useless, and he moved on, doing the same to the pistol at the soldier's hip. The last thing he needed was for one to wake up and shoot him in the back.

At the intersection, he bobbed his head quickly around the corner and back, glad to have been so fast when a series of laser blasts passed by and seared the opposite wall. Can't really expect to blow things up and not draw attention to myself, Alex mused, sighing to himself. He had gained a glimpse of the opposition, and it wasn't anything serious – two soldiers along the hallway and four at the end in front of a set of massive doors - the elevator!

But he'd lost the element of surprise, the only thing that'd let him get this far without danger. He'd have to be smarter... But, what worked once, would work again. So long as he doesn't exhaust his energy reserves.

A few seconds later, another sphere of energy was sent careening down the hallway. A hail of lasers shot around it and through it, scarring the paint on the wall. The sphere was followed by the small tracer beam, causing it to ignite and devastate the hallway. Another pair of shots took down the two disoriented remaining soldiers, giving him full access to the elevator.

He grinned and ran down the hallway.

Anatoly sighed, watching on the cameras as the ex-prisoner dispatched soldier after soldier in magnificent explosions. He had never seen anything like it – a man shooting with his fingers! - and now he'd have to shut down the elevators and alert the entire base. The commander would not be pleased. He once more reached for the general alert button, bracing himself for the loud klaxon that would sound soon afterwards.

Nothing came.

He paused, then pressed the button repeatedly. No flashing lights or blaring sirens. The alarm seemed to have failed. He turned on the comm set and reached over to flip the switch to the base commander's line, when a voice interrupted him over his headset.

“Lieutenant, this is out of your hands.” He recognized the voice. Everybody in the base knew ISB Agent Viy in one capacity or another, more often for the worse. “I have the situation under control.”