Thunderbird: Chapter Twenty-One

Starting File Sequence…  Thunderbirds
Loading Digital Data…    Chapter Twenty-One
Initializing Play Back…  Synthetic Friendship
Galaxy:   Milky Way Galaxy
Cluster: Galactic Core
System:   Tartarus Debris Field
Location: Avernus Station
Date:     2186 CE

.:Meanwhile:.

Kritt and AVI

The bridge doors opened as AVI stepped into the room. AVI looked around. Tasi, Ip and Vurtak had already left leaving Kritt to pilot the ship. She seemed unaffected as the ship dipped and turned unexpectedly. AVI stood in front of the captain’s chair just behind Kritt. She clasped her hands behind her back and waited.

“Incoming attack from the starboard side,” AVI reported casually.

Kritt quickly pulled several levers before sending the ship into a spiral, avoiding the brunt of the laser attack. He flipped the ship around, facing the orbs shooting lasers at them. AVI’s eyes blinked rapidly. The Thunderbird’s weapons fired up, shooting several beams at the orbs. Kritt amped up the thrusters sending the ship forward while AVI controlled the weapons system.

They flew through the force attacking them and headed toward Avernus station to unleash another volley. As they flew by, a trail of explosions followed after them. A laser blast struck the ships shields.

“Port quarter,” AVI reported.

“On it!” Kritt called.

He turned the ship so suddenly that any smaller ship would have been torn in half. AVI charged the guns and fired upon the attacker. Smaller explosions scattered the space above the station. More orbs appeared on their sensors forcing Kritt to burn the thrusters, shooting the ship through space.

AVI’s eyes opened, “Hacking attempt detected at Cargo Bay doors. Conducting antihacking protocol…protocol failed. Cargo bay doors opening.”

Kritt swore loudly. A security camera image appeared on the screen of the Thunderbird. Kritt shook his head and pushed the image away, “Can you deal with it!”

AVI nodded. She left the bridge and went into the Medical Bay. AVI reached into the desk drawer and pulled out a heavy pistol. As she cocked the weapon, she headed down the hall toward the lift. She walked around the corner and into the Cargo area. The doors were opened. A heavily armored figure stepped into the ship. Paladin slowly stepped further into the ship, without a fear of what might come. AVI aimed her weapon.

“I have been given permission to dispatch you if necessary,” AVI said clearly, “I highly recommend retreating off this ship.”

Paladin activated his shield. AVI fired several shots at the elite Cerberus agent. Paladin raised his shield protecting him from the android’s attack. The bullets struck the shield, not even getting close to hitting their intended target. AVI extended an arm. The shield flickered as AVI drained its power. A stream of energy traveled through the air and stored itself within AVI providing her an energy boost. Paladin attempted to reactivate his omni-tool but to no avail. He gave up and motioned forward.

Behind him, creatures started scrawling into the ship. AVI scanned an analyzed the situation. They resembled vorcha but were heavily altered by Reaper technology. The vorcha seemed to ooze a glowing blue goo as they climbed into the ship and started charging wildly at her.

AVI’s arm opened, exposing a kind of launcher. She used the extra power she acquired to activate the weapon. Two small vials of liquid sat side by side in a kind of launcher with it AVI’s arm. She fired on the creatures. Each creature shot stiffened as they were injected with a neural toxin before collapsing dead. With her other hand, she fired her gun shooting at the creatures with pin point accuracy.

The handgun wasn’t doing enough. AVI’s firing arm opened. mechanical pieces grabbed the gun from her hand, stored it within her arm and replaced it with a submachine gun before retreating into AVI’s arm as it closed. With each pull of the trigger, three bullets left the chamber.

Paladin unleased a deadly biotic blast. It blew AVI off her feet. The creatures scampered up to her as she backed away. AVI fired several shots but was unable to keep them at bay. She prepared to send her consciousness to her blue box located in the AI Core on the ship.

A small orb fell just between her and the creatures. An electrical charge was unleashed, heavily electrocuting and killing the creatures preventing them from getting to close to her and finishing the last of the creatures.

Kritt landed on the floor before her. His red omni-tools took the form of claw-blades. He launched a high-explosive plasma round from his omni-tool at Paladin. As the Cerberus agent struggled to put out the flames, Kritt charged forward. He slashed and stabbed at Paladin with his blades, pushing the Cerberus Agent back.

Paladin took several blows as he struggled to recover. But he did. His shield came back on line. He activated it and slammed it into Kritt as the vorcha attacked. Kritt was pushed back but rolled back into a crouch.

AVI ran passed Kritt. Seeing her approach, Paladin angled his shield. AVI launched off the shield and landed behind him. She aimed her arm at the Agent, unleashing several rounds of neural toxin darts at his back. Paladin managed to block them just in time, but his back was then exposed to Kritt.

The vorcha charged forward and stabbed Paladin in the side with his claws. Paladin grunted in pain as he swung his arm and struck Kritt. He grabbed his assault rifle, turned to AVI and fired several rounds into her body.

The synthetic mech stopped stiffly in her tracks. Her bright glowing purple core in her chest started to dim. She collapsed, the light of her electronics faded.

Kritt stared at her motionless body. He charged at Paladin and slashed wildly at his shield. Paladin defended himself, but the flurry of attacks forced the Cerberus Agent to take steps back.

“No one,” Kritt gritted his teeth, “and I mean no one, gets on my ship, kills off my crew, and expects to get away with it!”

Paladin pushed Kritt off him with his shield. He fired several rounds with his weapon. Kritt was much nimbler on his feet and managed to avoid most of the gun fire. The vorcha rolled out of the way. Kritt threw an orb close to Paladin’s feet. It detonated, unleashing another electrical net like the one that took out the vorcha creatures from earlier. Paladin raised his shield. The net shorted out Paladin’s shield and omni-tool. With Paladin exposed, Kritt ran in for another attack.

The two exchanged blows with Kritt slashing at his attacker and Paladin fired upon the vorcha. As they fought, the drive core in the Engineering room started pulsing slightly. Beneath his feet Kritt could feel the ship increasing in speed. The Cargo Bay doors were still left opened. An alarm went off throughout the ship. Barriers rose cutting off engineering, the armory, and storage. Then the kinetic barriers on either side of the cargo bay doors dropped.

The vacuum pulled both Paladin and Kritt toward the opened entrance. Kritt grabbed ahold of the edge of the shuttle. Paladin grabbed ahold of Kritt’s leg letting go of his weapon. The gun tumbled out into the vastness of space. Kritt looked down at the Cerberus Agent. He kicked at the Agent repeatedly.

“I said—” Kritt shouted between kicks, “—get the ‘ell—off my—ship!”

With the final kick, Kritt managed to break Paladin’s grip. Paladin continued to reach out as he was pulled out if the ship. Kritt gritted through the pain as he held on to the shuttle. Just when he thought he couldn’t hold on much longer, the kinetic barriers came back on.

As soon as the pressure stabilized, Kritt dropped onto the shuttle. He tumbled off and lay on his back, groaning in pain.

“Are you alright, Kritt?”

Kritt shot up. His gaze fell on AVI’s motionless body. The voice wasn’t coming from her. He sighed and nodded slowly, “Right, your AI core thingy.”

“My consciousness is in the ship,” AVI spoke over the intercom system, “The body was a mobile convenience, one easily repaired.”

Kritt chuckled, “That was all you? The ship movin’, the barriers? What the ‘ell do you need me for anyway?”

“It would be rather lonely without you and the rest of the crew. I have grown fond of you and the others and would notice your absence,” AVI said. She continued, “So I make it my highest priority to ensure your safety.”

Kritt slowly got to his feet, “In that case, you wouldn’t mind takin’ the helm…while I…slowly…make my way back…back up there.”

“Affirmative,” AVI said with almost a giggle in her voice, “Take your time.”

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