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 Thursday, 07 July 2005
Thursday, 07 July 2005 21:59:04 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) ( )

The old man had been waiting for this for days now. He could feel them coming, his tacticomp fed him sensations, making him aware of how many there were and how fast they were coming. They wouldn’t stand a chance he reflected with a hint of bitterness. It had been far too long since he’d had a real opportunity to get any real exercise.

 

They were close now, five of them in all. Armored, armed and augged, they were confident and came straight in on him. He took out the first with a mazer blast between the eyes. There was no challenge there, his augs locked the target and the nearby turret did the rest. They might have armor, but they were too cool for head protection.

 

The vaporization of the punk’s head had the desired result though. The remaining four split apart, spreading in on him from two sides. They were mad now, but scared. Maybe, he thought, they’d be interesting now.

 

His tacticomp was feeding him analysis of each thug. Now that they were closer he was getting detailed specs on their armor and augs. Top of the line stuff, for a street punk, but unfortunately nothing compared to his military gear. That’s why they were here he reflected, to get some of the most serious upgrades available.

 

And he’d baited them with the tech. The only thing left worth living for was blood, and he’d had too little lately. For a time right after the war there was plenty of chance to do what he was built for, but now most of the military auggies were dead and there was no real challenge left for an old man. So he’d gone into town and swaggered a bit, leaving subtle but clear telltales where he was holed up.

 

The two that split left were in the next room now. They had razor augs and muscle boosters, so they’d climbed right up the wall and through a window. They were being quiet, moving carefully into position to come at him. Their augs told them where to find him, but it didn’t matter. His tacticomp placed an overlay on his vision so he could see them through the wall as though it were glass.

 

As they rushed, one through the door, the other right through the plaster wall, he triggered a program. His muscle boosters kicked in, throwing him through the air directly into the chest of the thug on the left. This was the one coming through the plaster wall, and the dust and debris distracted the punk just enough. He slammed into the punk’s chest with his left shoulder, before the kid even knew that the old man had moved. There was the satisfying sound of cracking ribs, followed by the gurgling sound of punctured organs. Their punk armor was soft, made to stop projectiles and ablate energy, but it was virtually useless against three hundred pounds of auggie soldier.

 

The other punk had come through the door, slow and careful. Obviously they’d expected the old man to be distracted by the one in the door, but that plan was long since disrupted. The second kid started laying down fire. He was shooting AP rounds which ripped through the walls and into neighboring rooms and buildings. The sound of ripped plaster and steel and the gun filled the room.

 

But the old man never stopped moving. The program he’d triggered carried him through the first punk and through the wall into the next room. As the smashed body of the punk fell back under his weight, the program executed an elegant roll and jump. With the muscle augs, the jump threw him entirely across the room, spinning gracefully in midair. His legs absorbed the full impact with the far wall and launched him back across the room toward the punk in the door, who was still shooting the AP rounds at the space where the old man used to be. The kid’s augs simply couldn’t keep up with the speeds of military programming.

 

The muscle augs executed a forward roll, bringing the old man upright in a fighting crouch just a half meter from the gunman. The panic was evident in the kid’s eyes as he vainly brought the weapon to bear. The old man snapped the kid’s wrist with a knife hand. The crack of steel on bone echoed in the room, and the gun went flying, leaving the kid’s hand dangling from the shattered remnants of his arm.

 

Challenge or not, the old man was nothing if not humane. The kid had turned white and looked to faint from the pain so he snapped the kid’s neck, bringing instant relief.

 

All the while the tacticomp had been tracking the fourth. Thankfully, thought the old man, the last kid had some sense and was high tailing it back toward town. Now it was time for a good old fashioned hunt.

 

He’d chosen this location for more than one reason. Sure it was abandoned so non-combatants were unlikely to get hurt, but more importantly it was one of the few areas still covered by functioning satellites. During the war the heavily cloaked satellites had provided global coverage, allowing the augged soldiers to literally have global visibility. After many years most of the satellites had failed, leaving only a few regions of the planet fully covered.

 

Maybe it wasn’t fair to use such an advantage, but being tapped into the satcom network reminded the old man of better days, days with purpose.

 

He shook his head to clear out the plaster dust and jumped casually out the window to the ground three stories below. It hunting punks was all that was left, best just finish it.

 

The old man had almost reached the edge of the abandoned complex when the alarms started going off in his head. The satcom network had detected something entering the system. No ship had been here since the evac at war’s end. No one was expected, but here they were.

 

The last punk would live today. Soldier training kicked in immediately, and the old man slipped behind nearby cover to analyze the sitcom data. Based on the ship’s trajectory he’d have to cover a lot of ground to be ready when it landed in 14 hours.