The Ryder Drone - The End of the Old Order - Part 12

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The End of the Old Order

 

Part 12:
The Ryder Drone

We drive along a dusty road heading for Yerusalom. I have allies there, as does the prince. Our friends are on different sides of the wall, but that won’t matter. We need to put an end to this War Show nonsense and we need to make sure our kids are safe.
 
I take Mio’s Nomad, enter in the address of a secure portal, and read the information I desperately need. I’m sure someone is monitoring what I’ve just done. But they can’t understand the importance of what I’ve seen or where it came from. They certainly can’t decipher the coded communications. I turn to Trina and let her know that our children are safe.
 
I pass the Nomad to the princess so that she can check on her children. It’s not long before she is crying. The princess tried calling her son Bramir, their cousin Salen, and even Salen’s partner Ayesha. All of their mobile connections are detached. The princess leans forward and I hear her mumble into the prince’s ear—something about their son Daveem and God’s will.
 
The princess pulls up Bramir and Ayesha’s social media on Mio’s Nomad. Their posts are strangely identical, but for the fact that one of their images is upside down and Ayesha seems to have an answer for Bramir’s question.

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After showing me their posts, the princess asks me if I understand what it means. She’s still crying and I feel for her as a parent. It’s the first time she’s really talked to me since I’ve met her. I genuinely do not know what the posts mean, so I just shake my head. I think about putting my hand on her shoulder to try to comfort her. But I don’t.
 
I know it’s not my place to sit in judgement of her, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. I’m by no means a puritan. I understand that relationships have their difficulties and that mistakes happen. I could possibly understand her infidelity if that’s all it was. I’ve done all sorts of reprehensible things to my wife. Though I’ve always been faithful, I’ve said things I shouldn’t have and behaved in ways that were inappropriate.
 
But the princess crossed a bright line. It’s not necessarily the affair or the sex. It’s what she put the prince through. She is the wife of a proud and noble man. She is the mother of five children, one of whom is severely disabled. Maybe, in her mind, she needed to feel alive. Maybe some man made her forget all her troubles. Maybe she needed a kind of love and comfort that the prince was unable to provide. But it’s besides the point. The prince was utterly shocked by what she did. He became depressed and needed to be institutionalized. She must have known how fragile he was. He was devastated by what she did, which means she never took the time to explain how unhappy she was. She committed a crime, one with intent. She knowingly brought unnecessary grief to an unwitting spouse. She corrupted their commitment, sullied their bond—she degraded him. There are enough enemies in this world to do those kinds of things to you. It shouldn’t come from someone who supposedly loves you.
 
We drive fast. The landscape along the road is bare. What was once shrubs and prickly pears brought in from the Federacy has long disappeared. I doubt there are even any sand vipers left in the rocks alongside the road. In the last few decades we’ve managed to re-green some our cities, but the deserts are beyond repair. So, we gave up.
 
I check in the third row of the transport to see how Equis is doing. I’ve double-latched and knotted the backseat safety restraints so that Equis’ hands and feet are bound. I’ve tried to wake him up a few times without success. I jump into the back of the transport and slap his face. He’s still not coming to. I yank his eyelids and pluck a few lashes out. This eventually causes him to slowly wake. He’s still groggy—the perfect time to interrogate him. I ask him the standard questions I would ask any detainee—chain of command, strategic imperatives, location of forces, mission scope, contingencies, etc. He’s silent. He refuses to answer. I ask about Prescient Labs and he immediately perks up. But still, he refuses to say a thing.
 
I return to the front of the car to rummage through the front compartment. I need to find something to make Equis talk. I don’t want Trina to see blood, so I look for something I can use to give him a series of electric shocks. I find a pressurized hydrocarbon chamber for tainted fuel situations. It has four electrical leads.
 
I start to remove the first lead. I hear an unexpected crack in the air, and suddenly, our transport is rocked by an explosion. Our front left tire bursts. The transport quickly swerves right and Trina and the princess are thrown into the air. The prince pounds on the emergency disc. I look out the window and see a quick flash of light. Another one of our tires blows—then another and another. Four of our eight tires are blown to bits. Four more quick flashes and the transport comes to a complete halt.
 
“Get down,” I say to Trina and the princess. The prince and I jump out of the transport. An Anglican-issued Ryder Drone hovers above. I see its laser turn towards the car. I jump back in and pull Trina and the princess out. The drone fires quickly. Within seconds, the transport is in flames. I run back in to pull Equis out. He shouldn’t die this way. I quickly untie the safety restraints. Burning metal brands my hand. I grab his legs and start to pull him out. But his upper body is on fire and it’s spreading. I pull him out and throw him to the ground. I jump on top of him and try to put the fire out.

But it’s too late. Equis’ charred body shakes … until it doesn’t.  

Part 13 >


 

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