Chapter 99: Engulfed

“Breaking news there has been a major separatist terrorist attack during the opening of the new park in sector 12!” said Kommy with a blank expression as he stared into the floating news drone.

“Preliminary reports are coming in and it looks bad. What the hell are the police and Special M1 officers doing allowing such an event to happen? Right now the civilian death count is over 1000.”

“That’s right, they really dropped the ball on this one. But that’s to be expected of the special M1 officers. This situation is so bad that the Office of Reason has decided to step in and take over the investigation.”

The two continued to comment on the matter while not mentioning that the police officers and M1 officers were also caught in the explosions and many had died. Nor was there any mention of the large gathering of Anti-Sep that had caused a commotion at the front gates before the bombs went off.

Arron was jolted out of his focus on the news by a hard slap to the back of his helmet which knocked his head all the way forward.

“What are you doing dazing out like that?” asked the Office of Reason agent that was put in charge of watching over both Kix and himself. “Keep your eyes to the front and on a swivel. You are supposed to be watching for anyone trying to enter the park!”

Chewy angrily snapped her metal jaw shut as she stared at the agent. Her metal teeth still had a blackish-dried substance covering them.

With the warning from Chewy, the gray suit agent quickly pulled his hand back not wanting to get bit.

Arron did not voice his complaint about being smacked or the fact that no one in their right mind would be coming here. There were now over a thousand police and M1 officers patrolling the outer edge of the park. In the air, there was also an equally large presence of flying security drones. The inside of the park was filled with several hundred black-suit Office of Reason field agents that were swarming all over searching for clues.

Unlike what the news was reporting, the person he had encountered was not a separatist type. Arron’s gut feeling told him that the escaped red-clad bomber was far more similar to a recent group that had popped up.

After a long period of silence Arron worked up his courage to say something while being glared at by the red face of the gray-suit agent. “Sir, I have information on this matter that I think your higher-ups would like to know about!”

“Oh, and what could you know that everyone else has no idea about?”

“I encountered one of the troubled suspect bombers. From all that I saw, I have a strong feeling that the people that planted the bombs were not separatists. They were very likely A…”

“Stop!” said the agent, holding his hand up in front of Arron’s face. If his helmet was not there to block the hand the agent may have placed it over his mouth. “You don’t know what you saw.”

“But I have a recording of the person that I can send you!”

“Keep your mouth shut and stop spewing conspiracies like a lowly D-rank non-believer. I will have to dock a few points off of your SCS for such talk. If you keep it up you’ll be taking another ride to the Office of Reasons HQ for a chat.”

With that the agent left Arron and Kix to stand silently at the farthest outskirts of the park, doing nothing for over a half hour while the Office of Reason agents took their time investigating the park.

“You two! I have new orders for you!” shouted the agent sometime later as he walked up to them. With a flick of his hand, he sent a map with several highlighted streets.

“You are to walk down these streets and search for anything suspicious. Do not leave anything unturned in your search. If you see anyone question them as to what they are doing. If I have anything else I need from you, I will contact you via a holo-call. Get going.”

The agent stood there and watched as Arron, Kix, Chewy, and Spike all walked off down the highlighted streets they had been assigned to.

Every other pair of police and M1 officers were given a separate area to search, and so the start of a massive manhunt began.

“What are we supposed to find?” asked Arron. “They had us waiting near the park for nearly 50 minutes!”

“The culprits are probably long gone by now. It will be hard to gather any new information,” said Kix as he scanned the dead-silent street they were walking on. There were 0 vehicles or foot traffic to be seen in the area.

“Ah! But there is something!” said Arron as an idea came to him now that he thought of it.

He took out a digital swab from one of his work-belt pouches.

“Chewy, come over here,” said Arron. Chewy was curious at what Arron held in his hand and walked up to him with her head cocked to the side.

Arron rubbed her head to calm her down before moving the swab toward the dried black substance on her teeth.

“Whoa hold up! Chewy, don’t bite! It’s not a treat!” said Arron as he jerked his hand away to not get bit.

Kix watched in amusement not sure what Arron was trying to do.

“Hold still,” said Arron as he tried a second time. This time he used his left arm to hold her mouth shut while he swabbed her teeth thoroughly. Chewy was unhappy with this and continued to let out robotic whining.

The digital swab immediately digitized the information that it had gathered, allowing Arron to easily create a file that could be sent to anyone through the mailing system.

He started a call which was picked up only a second later, “How can I help you?” asked a tired-looking Lexa.

“I have what I think is a possible blood sample. If I send it to you can you test it and let me know who it belongs to?”

“That’s easy, as long as the person is a citizen of Nippon, we should be able to match it in no time at all.”

Arron sent her the information as he continued to walk down the street with Kix.

As soon as Lexa received the data and put the information into the database and hit the holographic enter key, Arron heard a loud ‘Ping!’ Coming from her side.

“That was fast,” said Arron.

“Too fast,” said a frowning Lexa. She leaned in closer to the floating screen and read the notification that had popped up in front of her.

“How important is it for you to figure out who this blood belongs to?” asked Lexa.

“It’s a sample from one of the bombers at the park that Chewy managed to bite. But she was unable to gather any other information or capture them. Their NerViz was hacked not allowing me to gather any other information.”

“I’ll send this information to the Chief along with your words, It’s up to him on what he wants to do about it,” said Lexa with a grim expression.

***

In a white interrogation room, four people sat at a table. Three white suit agents on one side and a disheveled middle-aged man on the other side.

“Why did you do it?” asked the lead agent.

“I told you! I was nowhere near the park when the bombs went off!”

“That’s not what multiple anonymous informants have told us.”

“They’re lying! I have many enemies that would do that, and I know who reported these lies to you! It’s all because they don’t like that I don’t think the same way as them!”

“They are upstanding citizens… So you’re saying you’re a separatist?”

“No, I never said that!”

“Why are you trying to backtrack? You are acting like you didn’t just say that? This just makes you look even more guilty,” said the lead agent.

The middle-aged man had been dragged here roughly ten minutes after the Office of Reason took over the case at the park. This chat had been going on for over an hour and a half now. The middle-aged man was looking worse and worse as the minutes went by.

After another ten minutes of intense interrogation, the middle-aged man had a mental breakdown and could not handle it anymore.

“Alright, I admit it! You’re right!” he cried with glazed bloodshot eyes and a crazed expression on his face.

The three agents only nodded as if they had known this all along.

“Why did you do it?” asked the lead agent.

“Why? Uh… because I’m a separatist?” asked the man looking for confirmation from the three agents.

They continued to nod at him while the lead agent pushed a secure data-pad to the center of the table and tapped a button turning the projection on which showed a dozen holographic floating heads of both men and women of all ages.

“These are your accomplices in the bombing, correct?”

“No, I have never seen…” the man stopped mid-sentence as he saw the deep scowls of the three agents.

“Uh… if I turn my head to the side they uh… look familiar?”

The agent’s scowl once again turned to a blank expression as they nodded. Like this, the office of reason continued to chat and gather information on the dastardly separatists who had plotted and enacted the park bombing.

***

Sector 10, zone 1, warehouse district.

While the Office of Reason was interrogating their separatist. The M1 officers, by order directly from Chief Chesty, had been mobilized under an emergency code 2 alert.

The entire ERF was currently surrounding a large mega-complex of small rental garage-sized warehouses. There were over a hundred such garages on each of the 300 floors.

They had come here after further investigation of the information that Arron had sent as well as the information that was linked to it. Before Chief Chesty could gather detailed information on the troubled suspect. The information disappeared from the database.

Fortunately, they had the name and location of his local hangouts. From the brief summary of the suspect that Arron and the others had received the troubled suspect was a fanatic news junkie that posted nonstop walls of text bashing the M1 and calling for its abolishment. But even this information was slowly disappearing.

The rest of the M1 officers were now a block or two away from the several mega-warehouse complexes and were blocking each street off to make sure no one interfered with their operation.

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Since it was still early in the morning there was no big commotion yet, as no one had noticed them. This was also partly helped out by the fact that everyone’s attention was on the live broadcast of the park’s bombing situation.

Arron, Kix, the robo-dogs, and several dozen other M1 officers had taken up positions at the rear of the building to stop anyone from escaping this way. Kix had also donned his light exoskeleton to help provide support for the ground officers at the rear.

In the sky, the remaining five one-maned hover-copters continuously flew around the building with their floodlights lighting up the building as they patrolled the area keeping an eye open to see if the target might show up somewhere else and try escaping.

There was a normal hover-copter hovering in the air above the ERF units both at the front and rear of the building. They each had a full unit of M1 officers ready to chase after the target if they tried to escape using a fast vehicle or even a hover-copter.

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At the front of the building, a unit made up entirely of ERF’s exoskeleton force was huddled near a large garage door that was on the first floor.

The closed metal door was currently lit up by several spotlights.

“Yagsdom. We know you’re inside! The M1 has solid evidence that you were part of tonight’s bombing!” shouted Captain Pointer using his helmet’s loudspeaker.

No reply or sound could be heard inside the troubled suspects’ rented warehouse.

Captain Pointer tried to get a response from the troubled suspect for several minutes but failed.

“Do it,” was all Captain Pointer said after giving up on calling the troubled suspect out.

The exoskeletons slowly stomped up to the metal garage door while hiding behind large slabs of metal that they were carrying and had been converted into makeshift shields on last-minute notice.

“It’s locked,” said Knox as he tried to open the garage door.

“Use whatever force is necessary to open it,” said Captain Pointer, now was not the time to worry about a broken door.

An exoskeleton stepped forward and pulled a torch nozzle from its back and switched it on causing a large white stream of fire to shoot out. The nozzle was adjusted so that it was just a small stream of fire that started to cut through the metal locking systems and the handles holding it shut. There was no time to play around with hacking their way in to minimize damage.

Ward reached down and grabbed the still glowing hole in the metal door and shoved it up above his head where he stood holding it in place allowing the others to flood into the small garage.

“It’s empty! The target has escaped!”

“He was here! There is fresh blood on the ground! And the tools needed for manufacturing are here!”

“Scans of all the materials on the counters indicate that they are all materials used for creating bombs!”

“There is no place for them to hide, keep looking! Everyone else be alert, the target has escaped his garage and may pop up anywhere!” said Captain Pointer.

As he was saying that Arron and the rest of the M1 officers at the rear noticed movement from a window at the rear of the building on the second floor.

“Target found at the rear of the building on the second floor!” shouted Arron into the coms as he watched the dark-clad figure fall out of the window and land face-first into a pile of junk that was on the ground underneath the window.

Arron could see a tear and a dark wet area on the man’s rear, Chewy’s favorite place to bite. It really was the person that had gotten away several hours ago.

The red-clothed man struggled to get up but froze when he saw that he was surrounded by M1 officers as well as a hover-copter that was now shining a bright spotlight on him.

“DAMN IT! I KNEW I SHOULDN’T HAVE TRUSTED THOSE DAMN PEOPLE!”

“Troubled suspect, stay where you are! You are to be normalized for your crime of killing thousands of civilians. You will cooperate with us and …”

“Screw you! I may not have destroyed the separatist or the M1 tonight, but I can still kill some of you!”

“Run!” “Spread out!” “Shoot him!”

Several different orders were shouted over the comms confusing some of the officers who followed one of the different orders.

Arron stood his ground and opened fire on the man hitting him several times but he kept moving right at them, even though there were large gaping holes in his body that would drop normal people due to the pain and blood loss.

Two of the one-man hover-copters rounded the corner of the mega-warehouse complex and immediately opened fire with their mini-guns.

The bullets hit the ground sending up a trail of sparks and dust as the aim was adjusted on the move and steadily headed toward the target that was rushing toward the M1 officers on the ground.

Even with their speed and fast firing rate…

BOOOM!

A large explosion, much larger than those from earlier in the night, covered a large portion of the rear of the building melting the outer walls into a cherry-red glow while shooting out fire and shrapnel everywhere in front of the bomber.

Arron was one of the closest to the target when the bomb exploded and was knocked off his feet by the explosion’s shock-wave before he could escape.

As he tried to stand up, a massive fireball expanded outwards and completely engulfed him.

===End of Part One: Arrival in the Mega-city.===

=Part Two starts next week!=

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