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Chapter 3: LE
Deep beneath the city of Alcadon, through winding long forgotten passageways past ancient doors long rusted shut a small light could be seen. The dim light emanated from beneath one of these long forgotten rusty doors. Inside the small cramped room, filled floor to ceiling with books and destroyed machinery, a wizened man sat at a small desk with a tiny lamp pointed to the object of his obsession. A microchip no bigger than a postage stamp carefully soldered into a tiny controller board all nestled into a mess of wiring spilling over the sides of the desk and onto the floor. Peering through his bifocals and through the glass magnifier he added the final microscopic blob of solder, he may have been old but his hands were as steady as the table they rested on. A gentle knock could be heard, somebody was at the door.
The old man, Dr. Banthu, let out a small huff and slowly raised himself from his uncomfortable chair his ancient joints popping and snapping. “Come in!” he called to his visitor.
The door opened slowly, a rotund man in a sharp military outfit squeezed through the narrow doorway. “Ah, doctor, I’ve come to check up on your progress, how are things moving along?”
“You actually arrived at the perfect moment General Sullivan; I have just finished the installation and was about to start the preparations for initial powering and testing” The old doctor smiled showing his toothless gums.
“Will it take you long? I don’t have much time before my next batch of meetings; I’m only here because Schultz cancelled on me again.”
“Oh, it won’t be long, just a few minutes” Banthu turned about and gave a sharp kick to a large grey box which sputtered and coughed to life, a small generator. “I just need to attach the leads and we can see if she will power on, if this works I’ll have to see about a more permanent power source. I assume you will be able to… acquire one for me General?”
“Of course, if ‘she’ works that is.” General Sullivan stood back against the door not wanting to get caught in what might happen.
“There and there, alright, she’s powered, now to turn her on.” Banthu pressed a tiny screwdriver into a nearly invisible button on the controller board. Immediately the bundles of wiring began to move and shift in a decidedly lifelike manner. It was alive! Banthu quickly moved a strip of wires to an object hidden beneath a cloth; they wrapped around the object and stayed there. The wires spasmed for a few seconds and returned to normal. A thin tendril of wiring raised and gently lifted the bifocals off the doctor’s face; it then placed them back on but upside down. “Hey! Don’t be sassy you little miscreant” the doctor said gruffly a little smile playing on his aged features; he turned about while correcting his bifocals and gestured for the General to come forward. “Well General, I think you’ll have to get me a new power source.”
“Yes I think I will, I’ll have it to you by the end of the week, until then keep this quiet, there are spies everywhere.”
“Oh General, you know me, the janitor is always the last to be questioned and besides what would a ‘mute’ say anyway?”
“Right you are Doctor, right you are.” General Sullivan gave the creation one last look before turning and walking out of the tiny room.
“Now then my dear, my little LE, now we’re finally alone” he made his way to a series of small metal cages “I think it’s time we make you a body.”
Laverne T. Schultz was worried, very worried. It had been almost a week since he’d announced his niece as missing and still nobody had found her. How could they have not found her yet? Half the city was on the hunt and none of the idiots had found anything, and nearly everywhere from the highest of buildings to the dingiest squalor had been searched. He was organizing a more thorough search of the red light district with several heads of military and the chief of the police when a small chime emanated from his desk.
“What!?” Laverne snapped.
“They’ve found her, in the industrial district” a sultry voice responded, unfazed by Schultz outburst.
“Sorry sweetie she’s dead.”
Schultz felt his stomach drop, “How?”
The voice described what had happened to his niece, such brutal atrocities even Laverne could barely stomach. The people in the room averted their eyes and cringed deeply as they heard the description.
Tears flowed down his face, Schultz took a shuddering breath, “Who did it?”
“We don’t know for sure, but the Sons are suspected.”
“Call the media,” anger burned in Lavern’s eyes
“That wouldn’t be a good idea,” the chief of police tried to protest.
“Call them dammit!”
The media responded with unusual haste. Representatives from every publication large and small, crowded around Schultz’ desk within half an hour. Cameras and microphones were pointed at him, ready to capture every sound and facial expression he made. Laverne’s eyes were red, puffy, and wet with tears, his tie off kilter and his hair disheveled; this man was clearly suffering, the press and the public waited with bated breath.
“Rolling… You’re live Mr. Schultz”
“Citizens of Alcadon, this is your leader Laverne T. Schultz, I do apologize for interrupting your regularly scheduled programming but I have to share news that is of the utmost importance to us all. You all know that a search has been ongoing for a missing member of my family for the past week, I have just learned that my beloved niece, Shelly, was found dead in the industrial district just an hour ago, she was brutalized and murdered by persons known to the military and to myself. She was kidnapped and tortured and murdered by members of the Sons of Light and Freedom, a group of rebels who fear our technology and way of life, small-minded people who think the only way to exact change is to destroy, pillage and rape. For the past several years there have been sporadic raids on the far reaches of Alcadon and the Shalti farming settlements that supply our food have been under near constant assault. They’ve placed a stranglehold on our food supply, so I will be implementing a rationing system that will take effect later in the week. The Sons of Light and Freedom have never made it this far into the city so I, my closest advisors, and senior military officials believe that they were assisted by spies who have infiltrated our society with the intentions of destroying it. It is unknown who these persons are but they are believed to be many in number and totally ruthless in carrying out their goals, our total destruction. If you observe any suspicious activity do not hesitate to report it to your local authorities, we need strength and unity now more than ever, thank you.”
The reporters were frozen in shock, a member of the Schultz family dead and spies in Alcadon and it could be anyone, friends, family, themselves. Fear permeated the room, the city outside was frozen in stunned silence as the news was digested, this was bad, this was very bad, Beset upon my terrorist forced, Alcadon sat on the edge of destruction. Suspicious glances were thrown around like bullets as the streets cleared.
“Ladies and gentleman of the press, if you would forgive me, I need some time to myself,” Schultz looked to be on the verge of another bout of tears.
The press silently gathered their equipment; Schultz turned his chair so that it was facing the window, silently scheming cruel and brutal ways of crushing those who wronged him.
Chapter 4: Meeting Schultz
After what seemed like ages the elevator finally began to slow and came to a stop. A quiet ding could be heard and the polished silver doors opened. During her trip a mile into the sky LE realized just how ridiculous she looked, it was as Dr. Banthu had said ‘I’m all for self expression my dear, but couldn’t you have picked something a bit less conspicuous?’ Her legs were thicker than tree trunks, and her shoulders were massive, so massive that she could barely fit in the elevator. Her torso was nothing but corded muscle, like steel wire, bulging, she was right on the line between grotesquely muscular and just looking fat. And to top it all off she had been given powder purple skin with pink and green highlights what the hell? But it was as the doctor had said, the biomass formed itself in accordance with her personality, but there was no way that this was who she was!
The elevator doors slid smoothly open revealing a long featureless hallway ending at a set of ornately carved double doors. Flanking the doors were two of the Four Horsemen, LE recognized their weapons, it was Death and Pestilence. She’d only heard descriptions of their weapons but had never seen an image of those who wielded them. Death was tall and lanky, about a foot shorter than LE, and completely jet black with an aura of black smoke rising from his figure. Pestilence was a sickly green with ridges highlighted in a deep umber red that made her look like she was in the process of melting, her skin was oddly luminescent as if it was wet. Upon seeing LE emerge from the elevator both of them stood rigid and alert, hands playing at the handles of their weapons, never taking their gaze off this new threat.
As she made the long walk to the double doors LE could feel something rather odd, as if a presence was trying to claw its way into her mind. She opened her mind, so to speak, and let this presence in. A burst of emotion filled her head; a highly confused and inquisitive sensation rode through her brain like a wild animal, searching for something. LE traced this odd alien sensation back to its source, Death. Death was racing through her brain like a madman, she quickly shut her mind again and the sensation ceased, Death notably flinched and nearly lost his composure. LE could now feel both of them, but in a more subtle way, unlike the wild dash Death made initially these were now quiet sensations, confusion, inquisitiveness, fear, and another LE couldn’t quite place.
As LE finally came upon the door, seriously that hallway was long, both Death and Pestilence barred the way, the subtle feelings became more intense, they now seemed questioning in nature.
“Excuse me, I have an appointment wi-“
Both Death and Pestilence held out their hands, aggressively inviting LE to take them. LE hesitated but took them. A wave of questions flooded her mind, who are you? What are you? How can you speak? Are you like us? Where did you come from? Tell us, please tell us! The wave of questions died down until just one could be heard, who are you?
“Um hello, I’m LE, I suppose technically I’m an Indra like you except I was constructed about a week ago.”
The voice in her head sounded again, she assumed it was death from how deep it was. Well then, let me be the first to welcome you to this world we call home, please forgive my encroachment earlier, I had assumed your brain was the same model as ours and would automatically pair, it seems I was wrong. Your brain must be more complex as you seem to have the capability of human speech, how interesting, is that not interesting sister of mine?
A kind female voice responded, yes brother, this is most interesting, it seems the humans have found a way to construct Indra once again, please don’t be mistaken little one as happy as we are to see a new face it is most troubling to learn that mankind can once again build machines such as ourselves. There was a reason our project was abandoned, even now it haunts me to think what went into our creation. If you’ll pardon us for a moment, we have to put out the Call, I’m sure everyone will be very excited to meet you, while we do that, please go inside.
“I’m curious, how are we communicating right now?”
With that they stood aside and opened the door, allowing LE entry into Mr. Schultz’ office.
The room was lavishly furnished, oil paintings in elaborate frames hung on the walls, the floor was covered in thick wool rugs, and various styles of chair, sofa, and table were scattered about in circles and semicircles throughout the room, a seat for every occasion. Enormous crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling though most of the light was pouring in through a positively giant picture window that spanned from wall to wall. So tall was the Schultz building and so wide was the view LE could see the Mhoroyshi Salt Flats in the distance past Lake Halgue. It was a truly awe inspiring sight, and there seated in front of the window at a desk made of likely extinct woods was Mr. Laverne T. Schultz.
Upon her entrance he snapped shut the book he was reading, and looked up, his mood was as impossible to determine as his age.
“Welcome my dear, I’ve been expecting you.” He stood from his chair and walked around to where LE was standing. “I’ve been hearing vague progress reports from General Sullivan for so long I was beginning to think you were just a figment of his disturbed imagination, and yet here you stand.” He began circling her like a vulture. “According to what Dr. Banthu has told me you have a more advanced chip serving as your brain, the LE Model is that correct?”
“That is correct sir” LE responded.
“Ah,” Schultz’ eyes widened, “Banthu also said you’re capable of human speech but I had assumed he was exaggerating, I see now I was mistaken.” His inspection became more thorough, “what are these small holes on your arms and legs?”
“Air jets sir, they are able to shoot jets of air to improve my agility, they are also able to create a vacuum if properly placed on a wall allowing me to cling to sheer surfaces, I have several hundred interspersed on points across my body”
“Well then that’s very interesting, I think a demonstration is in order. Death! Pestilence! Could you come in please?”
The door to the office swung quietly open and the two stepped silently inside.
“All right you three, we’re going to take a small field trip to the gymnasium! I want to test out LE’s combat capabilities with some light sparring.”
Death and Pestilence nodded in unison, creepy, and smartly turned around and made their way to the elevator. This will be fun; it’s been too long since I’ve had a new sparring partner, come along, our siblings will be eager to make your acquaintance.
“You go along and follow them; I’ll take my private elevator.” LE could see a spark of excitement break through his perfect façade.
It was quite a process fitting the three of them into the one elevator but they somehow managed. I think you could give Wall a run for his money girth-wise, how tall are you anyway? Pestilence asked, her head crammed under LE’s armpit.
“Seven feet eight inches” LE responded a bit defensively. “I’m sorry about that; it’s just how I came out.”
Pestilence responded, It’s all right little one we understand, though I can’t say I’m looking forward to sparring with you, I doubt our weapons are even capable of cutting you with the armor your sporting. Brother, how’s your hand-to-hand?
The door opened on a massive gymnasium, easily five hundred meters from end to end, the perfect place to stretch one’s legs. In the center it seemed a scuffle had broken out, two larger figures were trying and failing to wrangle what appeared to be a child wielding an oversized sword.
Oh dear, Kid came for a visit, how convenient. Death and Pestilence eagerly exited the elevator and began hurrying over to the altercation, LE followed at a slower pace watching the drama unfold. Death joined the small group distracting Kid and the others momentarily while Pestilence slipped behind and put Kid into a Full Nelson completely killing all momentum she had in the process. As LE drew closer the attention of the new three became fixated on her, she began to feel their minds probing hers but they were quickly quashed by Death and Pestilence.
All right, surprise them.
“Hello!” LE raised her arm in greeting, “I’m LE and you’re very confused right now”
“Yeah I get that, here take my hand and we’ll be able to communicate in a less lopsided way.” LE held out her hand to War who took it eagerly, and placed her hand on Famine’s shoulder she began to hear their thoughts in hers. Kid on the other hand decided to complicate things. While still in Pestilence’ Full Nelson Kid whipped her legs up and thrust them back down to smash into her captor’s knees. Pestilence went airborne and as soon as Kid’s feet made contact with the ground she full bore flung Pestilence off of her using her core to dislodge her and launch the unfortunate Indra at least fifty meters across the gym like a ragdoll. Kid cut a snarky little pose putting both arms on her waist and thrusting her head in Pestilence’ direction, if she had a tongue it would no doubt be blowing raspberries. Kid sharply turned towards LE and ran at her full speed, before LE could even fall into a defensive pose Kid launched on her and gripped her in a… Bear Hug? This was unexpected.
In LE’s mind she could hear Kid’s voice; it definitely fit with the image. She’s so cute! Can we keep her?
“Ah, I see you’ve made the acquaintance of the rest of my Horsemen,” Laverne T. Schultz had snuck up on them in the confusion. “And who’s that clinging to you like a limpet?” His tone became much more childlike “why I think that’s Kid, what a nice surprise, it’s an honor to be in the presence of such a celebrity, though I’d ask that next time you don’t throw my bodyguards around quite so much, they have a reputation to maintain.” He gave her a little wink, Kid responded by blowing metaphorical raspberries in his direction. “Erm, Pestilence… you okay over there?” he called over to the still prostrate Indra; she gave a thumbs up as an answer.
“I think she’ll be sitting this one out Mr. Schultz”
“I think so too, humph, well it’s a good thing Kid’s here to take her place.”
“It was kid who did that to her in the first place.”
“Semantics. All right you four I would like for you to do some sparring with LE here, she’s new so go easy on her. Let’s do a little bit of solo work to gauge your abilities. Death, how about you start things off?”
Death nodded his head and moved forward, the other Indra and Schultz retreated to a safe distance.
I will not be taking things ‘easy’ on you little one; these lessons have to be long and difficult for you to reach your full potential. Please forgive me if I hurt you.
“And I you!”
The two of them took their preferred defensive poses and began circling, each looking for an opening to exploit. LE intentionally relaxed one of her arms allowing for a free hit, Death lunged and LE blocked. His fist made contact with her elbow and a resounding crack reverberated throughout the gym. If Death was injured he didn’t let it show, he began circling again, LE advanced and threw a lazy haymaker which Death easily ducked under. As LE’s punch sailed over his head Death grabbed a hold of her hand, keeping it in place so he could land a series of body blows with his right arm, LE had predicted this and with her right hand, which she had kept out of view, she landed an uppercut right square in his sternum.
A small shockwave could be felt by the spectators, Death was ripped away with incredible force; he flew in a lazy arc until hitting the floor halfway across the gym in a tangle of limbs. One punch was all it took to take Death down. Everybody, including Pestilence who had regained her senses, rushed to where he lay. An enormous indent had caved the front of his body in like an aluminum can in the hands of an angry toddler.
Well, I think I blew that one, Death said weakly, raising his head to look at LE, that’s what cockiness gets you. He could sense LE’s concern, don’t worry I’ll be fine, though I think I’ll be laid out for a couple of weeks, could you tell that to Schultz?
“Sure, um, Mr. Schultz he says he’ll be fine but he’s gonna need a few weeks to recover.”
Schultz was still staring in awe at the obscene damage a single punch had wrought on his strongest Indra but he quickly snapped out of it, “Oh, good, excellent, I was getting a bit worried, it seems the matchup wasn’t as unfair as I thought.”
“I’m glad I only used 50% power, if I’d gone full on he’d probably have been vaporized.”
Five heads turned sharply at her.
“Uh yeah, with the air jets I can vastly increase my body’s strength, on top of using them for maneuvering. That was a regular punch enhanced by the jets on my underarms.” LE raised her arm up to show a series of small holes arranged in a line along her triceps muscle, cloudy vapor was still rising from them. “I suppose that’s why I’m so stocky; my body has to be strong enough to cope with the force of the jets.”
“Be that as it may, you still knocked out Death with a single punch. We need to get a stronger sparring partner for you, perhaps Wall or Wulf, I wonder, can any of you make long range communications with your fellow Indra, I’d really hate to have to track them down.”
The four standing Indra nodded in unison. Creepy
What he doesn’t know is that we’ve already put out the Call; they’re all coming, perhaps not to fight but most definitely to talk.
Portraits of the Four Horsemen and LE