The story of Frank, Andy, and Kate.

Chapter 20

Andy and Kate froze, but Frank didn’t. On the contrary; he ran and he and Dr. L hugged warmly, the way brothers hug. They seemed emotional even.

KATE: OK, I hate being that person – but what the hell is this?

Andy had already pulled his gun.

FRANK: Put your gun down dude. Just put it down.

ANDY: I’m not taking orders from you Frank. Start talking, and quickly cause my fingers feel itchy and this trigger is really soft.

Dr.L: hasn’t changed, has he?

FRANK: Not one bit.

PRESIDENT: [voice] So happy to see you all here, all together, finally!

KATE: OK, seriously, am I tripping? Frank, what the fuck bro?

FRANK: Alright, alright. I suppose there’s some explaining in order.

ANDY: Lots of it!

FRANK: Have a sit.

KATE: Are you kidding me? Are you guys for real? I’m leaving.

FRANK: Katie – sit the fuck down!

Once more, the huge wall screen lit up. Another representation of the world, another speaker in a white coat.

Dr. L: This is a representation of the world, as of this moment. Brown is land, blue is water, red is magma, yellow is sulfuric deserts, and gray is uncertain – places we haven’t reached by land or water, and that we cannot investigate via satellites because of the sulfur-coal cloud covering them. You can easily tell there’s not much viable land left.

KATE: Hold on, hold on! Are you aware that your father was killed in a bar? And you Sir, are you aware that a man supposedly your double, was also killed? Are you guys aware of the letter declaring War? Am I high? What the fuck is going on?

Dr.L: Can you contain this animal please?

FRANK: Watch it little sis. She doesn’t know who you are yet. She might kill you.

KATE: Damn right.

Kate pulled out her gun and shot towards Dr. L, who lifted her hand calmly and grabbed the plastic bullet.

Dr. L: Plastic Frank? Really?

FRANK: They had to think it was real. Go on – they’re listening.

And they sure were.

Dr.L: The Beasts are your friends – is this simple enough? They are not degenerates, they are nothing we ever thought of them. They had lost the ability to speak, because they needn’t speak – their genes mutated far beyond our expectations or predictions. I am well aware, like you said my little sister, that our father, our adopted father, is dead. But let’s be realistic – none of us in this room has a father. We are all genetic experiments; good news is, our experiment succeeded. So, let me clear the air for all of you. Beasts, and carriers of the New Hope gene, meaning, us five in this room, are nothing but necessary friends. Why? Because it’s either this – or the end of civilization. Yes, that declaration of War you read is real, probably. There is a branch of Beasts who are not our friends at all. And I don’t blame them for hating anyone or anything that even remotely reminds of us. Here we call them by no name. We know who they are. But other than them, the Beasts are our best ally in this war that is about to start. Questions?

ANDY: We are all brothers?

FRANK: All five of us share significant parts of identical DNA. The President here was the platform upon which we were created. We all carry the New Hope gene – the President took it in, and passed it on. No worries – we have no mothers. We are all the product of entirely artificial conception.

KATE: Bullshit.

PRESIDENT: We went through this once. It is really simple – I am the closest thing you have to a father, and a bucket of water is the closest thing you have to a mother. Beasts split almost in half, with some hating your guts, and some, thankfully because of the magnificent intervention of Dr. L here, being on our side. The others will soon unleash their wrath on us. Why? Because we plan to move into their lands. They hold the last resort, the very last area where humans will be able to live.

KATE: But why? What’s wrong with where we live now?

PRESIDENT: Everything you know will be underwater within two months.

Chapter 19

They had walked on the steep side of the old underground railing for more than two hours. They made slow progress as the light was sparse and danger could be hiding in every corner and shadow.

KATE: Dude you need to take it easy – how many packs do you even have?

FRANK: All I’m carrying is smokes and guns.

ANDY: Tan-tan-taaaaan!!

They laughed hard.

ANDY: Shut up!

KATE: Don’t tell me to shu–

Frank put his hand over her mouth. It was two Beasts walking on the other side of the railing, apparently moving towards their location. If they didn’t move fast they’d definitely draw their attention. But that wasn’t the important fact of the scene.

ANDY: Mother of God – they are having a fucking discussion!

FRANK: Quickly! Move!!

Frank pulled them in the shadows; of course there were filthy waters coming down the cracked wall they had to lean against, and of course several roaches walked over Kate (who hated them more than her whore-of-a-mother), but they managed to hold it together until the Beasts had moved past them. Then they stepped into the light again.

ANDY: That was close.

KATE: Fuck you Andy!

FRANK: If they happen to go outside they might find our bikes. We may not have as much time as we thought.

They started walking again, this time faster, and necessarily less cautiously.

KATE: You had said we had four days, what’d you mean by that?

FRANK: It was on the letter.

KATE: No it wasn’t.

FRANK: The recangle at the left bottom corner. Beasts always give a timeframe. Beasts can’t function without a timeframe.

KATE: Yeah, right. They moan and groan and eat their own crap, but they need a fucking timeframe!

FRANK: That is about right.

ANDY: Four days to what?

FRANK: I am not sure. But is does sound ominous, doesn’t it?

They found a passage through a wall, one that wasn’t really on plain sight, and they decided to take it, for that very reason. Their insticts paid off as it led directly (well not entirely directly, but pretty much directly) to a room.

KATE: This seems like a fucking conference room!

ANDY: It sure does.

DR.L: And a nice one too, wouldn’t you agree?

Chapter 18

It took them nearly one hour to shut the thing down. They were filthy and sweaty, but they looked happy and their cheeks were red after a long time. They were catching their breaths on the floor of the main control room.

ANDY: Those were not real bullets man.

KATE: They hurt like shit though! One got me on the boob man, check this out.

She pulled her vest on the side. She had a huge purple mark on her chest.

ANDY: This doesn’t make us ready, does it?

Frank was smoking.

ANDY: Does it?

Frank kept smoking.

KATE: You’ve turned weird within a day dude, that’s not cool. And you don’t seemed bummed about your father’s death at all.

FRANK: It wasn’t my father.

ANDY: President is not your father?

FRANK: The President is my father – the dead man was not. It wasn’t the real president, it was a double. The three dots are a mark, a way to recognize the each other. The dead man had five. The fifth double I suppose.

Then he kept an unnecessary pause. Just like his father.

FRANK: The thing is… I am not convinced we know everything. I mean – where’s the army? Where’s the fuss? Why are we dealing with this so secretly? You know…

ANDY: They don’t want to scare people.

FRANK: People are not scared anymore, you know that. People are just happy the can get drunk with a single shot, that’s all. Half of them are living life like robots, the other half is wasting away at some illegal bar, it’s a mess out there.

ANDY: Are you really going to take us to the underground system here?

FRANK: Yeah. I think we’ll find Dr. L there, or whatever her name is.

KATE: And kill the bitch!

FRANK: No. Just talk to her. You guys don’t remember her I suppose. I do.

KATE: What if the bitch is really breeding with the Beasts? What then?

FRANK: Then I guess we kill her.

They rested for another hour or so, cleaned themselves up, oiled their bikes and covered them with Black juice; a disgusting process, but one that insured they’d go un-smelled through the rest of the forest. They hoped on their rides and playfully crossed nine or ten miles of thick woods. Frank showed them the deserted entrance. There were tracks all around, some fresher than others.

ANDY: Should we… like, split up?

FRANK: Absolutely not. We stick together.

Frank opened the lid. The stunk hit them hard on the face. Kate threw up. Then they went in and down the metallic steps. It was wet and filthy, as expected. Every ten feet or so there was a dim light.

ANDY: Guess the power is on, ha?

FRANK: We’re probably in the right place.

KATE: You call this shit right?

Chapter 17

Andy woke up because of a strong smell of bacon; that was highly unlikely at this part of the world. There was smoke coming out of a pile of slowly burning clothes – his clothes.

ANDY: What the hell is going on?

KATE: Why can’t you just, for once man, just for once… What is this? Where are our clothes?

Frank was not around. Andy and Kate, fully naked pulled their emptied back packs in front of them and stood up. Andy went closer to the fire.

ANDY: They’re burnt, they’re all burnt. What are we going to do?

Frank came out of the woods holding a huge laundry bag. He was dressed in full armor. He looked cool.

KATE: Shit! That’s awesome!

ANDY: Is this… what.. I mean…

FRANK: Sorry about the drama. I managed to get us some decent armor and weaponry so we can move on.

Andy and Kate put on their armors. They consisted of light carbon-fiber parts covering their forearms and shins, as well as bulletproof vests with self-inflatable inside air-bags.

FRANK: That’s in case you have to fall off somewhere high or something.

KATE: Or fall off a bike. You brought us bikes?

FRANK: How the hell would I be able to bring here three bikes?

KATE: I don’t know. Perhaps in this truck you hid half a mile from here?

FRANK: How..?

KATE: Dude, I got the Super Hope gene too.

ANDY: New H… Never mind.

Once they were dressed Frank led them to the truck no more than three hundred feet from there. They unloaded three kick-ass bikes. All terrain, hydrogen-powered bikes. Once they were on them, Frank left, and they followed.

The three of them moved further west, using old paths through the woods. Once they reached a clearing, Frank stopped.

FRANK: Be prepared.

He then span away. Seconds later Andy received a shot on the chest that kicked him off his bike.

KATE: Andy! Are you OK?

ANDY: I’m OK. Stay low!

The two of them found cover behind some bushes.

ANDY: Don’t ask, I don’t know.

KATE: Where the fuck did Frank go man?

There were bullets flying around. Then a pause.

FRANK (voice): Get out of there you pussies. Learn how to shoot. We got four days to get ready.

KATE: What is he talking about?

FRANK: Bang!

Frank was standing on top of Kate, holding a gun right over her head.

FRANK: You guys are awesome Cleaners. But this is serious. We need to practice on how to use these weapons. This is an old military base. Completely abandoned. But the computer training system is functioning well. I turned it to hard – it’s on. Our goal is to survive. Your goal is to find the generator and shut down the program.

ANDY: So this is a game?

FRANK: Bullets are real. You are real. Real bullets open real holes in real heads. Can you live with a hole in your head? Probably not. So, no Andy – this is not a fucking game.

Kate was already gone and blazing her guns against the hidden auto-marks. They could hear her laugh and scream as she playfully jumped from bush to bush, shooting both her guns, throwing smoke grenades, and making a huge mess in the middle of nowhere.

Chapter 16

It was completely dark when they finally got over the initial shock: a dead President, a dead researcher, a dead simple man, a Beast that can work a weapon, a Beast that committed suicide… this was all too much.

ANDY: We have to search the bodies, come on. We are not safe here.

Dr. M and the President were completely unarmed. They carried nothing much in their pockets. Frank took the ring of his father’s finger and put it on its own. It was a simple silver ring.

KATE: Hey guys! Look here.

Kate pulled a piece of paper in a plastic cover out of the Beast’s cape. They all gathered around.

FRANK: Hey, let’s move a little bit, this thing stinks.

They moved, and turned on their flashlights.

ANDY: Maybe we should find cover or something?

FRANK: I don’t sense anything.

ANDY: Sense?

FRANK: Come on buddy, let’s see what this is.

Kate was reading that whole time.

KATE: It’s a declaration of war.

ANDY: War?! We need to go back to the Central Force.

FRANK: I’m sure they know already. The President’s dot must have disappeared from their screens.

Frank started walking.

KATE: What about the letter?

Frank took it out of her hands and put it on the President’s body.

FRANK: Let’s go. We need to find Dr. L.

They walked a couple of miles to the West, getting deeper into the forest.

ANDY: Where are we going Frank?

Frank stopped and looked around as if he was sniffing the air.

FRANK: There are a couple of abandoned entrances to the underground complex of the Rbonx.

ANDY: It’s been locked down for ages man.

FRANK: I know – but where else could they be?

ANDY: What about hiding in plain sight?

FRANK: Yeah… about that… I don’t think so.

Andy was not pleased. They reached a clearing that stood above most ground, and stopped. That gave them some sort of tactical advantage.

FRANK: The entrance I know of is nine miles further that way, but the forest is very dense and it’ll be hard to cross during the night. Let’s settle here and we leave tomorrow.

ANDY: You wanna be chief, is that it?

FRANK: I don’t wanna be anything. I just need to find Dr. L. You wanna leave? Leave. I’m sick of your insecurity.

ANDY: My insecurity? Maybe we’d all feel safer if you weren’t a fucking liar!

The two men went into a physical fight that included punches and kicks, but their soft ones; painful but not deadly. Kate made her bed on the side and fell asleep. Frank passed out after a knee to the head, and Andy slept on the ground, leaning his head against Frank’s abdomen.


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