The noise started off quiet, unheard over the din of the shoppers as they milled in and out of individual stores, down the wide open halls and marveled at the displays. In moments the sound became a low guttural grumble as the massive V8 engines cranked out of idle. Several people noticed, but didn’t pay much attention. As the engines thundered to life, the rumbling pitched itself into a furious wail that held steady for a full 30 seconds before the engines dropped back down idle. Thirty seconds later, the engines began their crescendo once again. Now, the sirens placed strategically around MacSweeny’s Maniacal Material Market had everyone’s attention. Emergency bunker doors appeared between store walls as shoppers now ran for cover in mass panic.
“Avera! Wake up!” Vicky shouted above the sound of dying agony as it blasted its way through hallways. She might as well have been whispering.
Avera rolled over on the tires and pulled one up over her face. “No. Nap time.” With her other arm, she fumbled around as though trying to hit the snooze on an alarm clock. The siren wound up for another deafening run. She sat up.“What is that infernal racket.” She demanded.
“Air raid sirens. How are you not deaf?” Vicky sported a pair of ear muffs and had another pair in her hand that she held out towards Avera.
Avera looked about Tires and Wings. It was empty save for them. The dying wail of the siren clung to the air for an eternity as the engine rotors spun freely before coming to a rest.
Kyle appeared in the entrance way armed to the teeth, a wild look in his eyes until he spotted Avera standing in the room “Oh, you are awake!”
“No, I had to wake her. My point.” Vicky said.
Kyle shook a mock fist at Vicky.
“What’s happening?” Avera interjected.
“You are not deaf.”
A 1048 INCOMING. A voice boomed through out the room. YOU HAVE EIGHT MINUTES.
“Is this a jo…” Avera was cut off.
IT IS NOT A JOKE.
“It is wise that you have only woken me in such an emergency.” Avera crossed her arms and nodded with approval at her two companions. Her too wide toothy smile put them on edge. Vicky hit her upside the head with a rolled up newspaper of yesterdays sales. Both unconsciously took two steps backwards.
The three stared at different points about the room.
“Thank you!” Vicky said.
Avera rummaged through the tire pile and pulled out a 52mm Springer Blast-lock that was slightly taller then she was. She handed it to Vicky. Vicky stared up at the top of the weapon. “Seriously?”
“You might want to butt it up against a wall.” Avera said with another smile. “Lets go!” She jumped behind the wheel of a nearby golf cart.
“I’m driving.” Kyle shoved Avera over to to the passenger seat. “You can’t drive….”
“Yes I can.” Avera said hotly.
“…without killing us.”
“That’s less fun.” Avera grumped.
YOU SHOULD LET HER DRIVE.
“NO,” Vicky and Kyle shouted in unison.
“New clones aren’t available again until next week and we had to use them last week in Gravestones and Chinaware!” Kyle shouted.
“That was fun.” Avera said.
Kyle gunned the engine. Soon they were racing through the shops at nearly 75 miles an hour. It was not often that the entire store was empty. Yellow lights embedded in the floor flashed out paths to the nearest emergency bunker. As they passed though Jackets and Armor, Vicky snatched a men’s suit jacket off a passing rack and slide into it.
“It’s rated for high velocity impacts and doesn’t wrinkle,” she answered Avera’s curious gaze. Then went back to loading the sniper rifle in the back seat.
They sailed through Doors and Sabers and drove up the down escalator to the fourth floor. They stopped at Desks and Grenades and piled out. Avera ran towards the wall and punched a large red button that said ‘Do Not Push.’ The ceiling rumbled and split down the middle. Slowly it revealed sky full of low heavy clouds.
Vicky set up the rifle, blocking it with a sack of grenades on one of the living oak desks. Small twigs grew up and around the sack and gun stock, anchoring it in place.
“Hand me the glass.”
Kyle picked up a champagne glass and began pouring out the drinks.
“No, no, no. The other glass.” Avera pointed at the small spyglass that decorated a glass desk in the corner of the room.
“Oh.” Kyle retrieved it.
Avera extended the telescope to its full length and scowled.
“Right. Two degrees up. Five degrees port. Angle down and adjust for curvature. Wind is 97 miles per hour straight down and climbing.
“Vicky, clear the sky.” Avera announced.
Vicky fired. The shock wave shattered nearby desks and her desk was thrown backwards several feet. Branches shot out of the sides as it attempted to keep itself in place. The force slammed into Kyle, causing him to stumble. Avera stood there watching the destruction of the clouds. The shell left a trail of smoke, easy to see through the air until the winds pushed it away about as fast as it had formed. It was lost into the cloud cover and as a drop of soap in a dish of water, the clouds vanished in a silent explosion. In moments the entire sky had cleared.
A massive hulking shape, no longer hidden by dense clouds appeared. Almost immediately clouds began to reform around the titantic machine.
“Who even owns a storm walker anymore?” Avera asked. “Why would you own a storm walker?”
Small dots of light pin pricked the machine. The sound of staccato explosions followed several seconds later.
“My turn!” Kyle shouted as he sat down in a gunners chair. Several GAU-8 Avengers appeared around the roof of the Market. They swiveled to onto targets and all let out a loud BRRRAAAAPP, as Kyle pulled the triggers. The building shook under the collective recoils of the guns.
Explosions filled the sky above MacSweeny’s.
The ground shook as the storm walker trundled forward. Another volley of missiles headed towards them.
“Who did you piss off this time?” Avera said.
CERTAINLY NO ONE WITH A STORM WALKER.
“Well, obviously that no one owns a storm walker.” Kyle said
“Attention unknown person and or persons that are bringing a class S storm walker into the property of MacSweeny’s Inc. You are forbidden to bring such a device within 100 miles of this location. Retreat or we will be forced to destroy your machine.” Avera’s voice boomed out across the ground, amplified by the Market’s external speaker system.
In reply, they watched as a another wave of projectiles head their way. Kyle targeted and fired, causing another sky filled spectacular of explosions and lightening.
“You really made someone mad.”
I MAKE A LOT OF PEOPLE MAD.
“That’s an understatement.” Vicky chimed in.
“Vicky, load a number five and aim for the core.” Avera jumped up onto another desk to get a better view of the targeting fields.
“We’ve only got two fives left, are you sure?”
“This calls for a number five.”
Vicky hefted the number five shell and loaded it.
“Wind is 106 straight down. Core angle up 4 degrees, starboard 2.”
“It would help if you actually made sense.” Vicky shouted while aiming.
“Fire.” Avera shouted with a flair of her arms.
A black sphere appeared instantly at the center of the storm walker. It grew until the entire torso of the machine was engulfed by the swirling ink light. The three felt themselves tugged towards the explosion. Then it shrank, leaving a gaping hole through the center of the storm walker. The massive machine came to a shuttering halt as clouds stopped billowing from its massive stacks. It continued to settle down under its own weight until it was hunched over, smoke and steam wafting from the huge hole through its middle.
Avera smiled and clapped her hands. “Lets send out the salvage crews and get everyone back out of bunkers.”