Artwork by Joey Hi-Fi

Drone Commander Tidek

Chapter 8

Drone Commander Tidek is a novelette by Eduard F. Vinyamata. Check out previous chapters here.

As soon as the thought occurred to her, the police fired a round over the back barricade. It left a trail of white smoke behind. Fajita managed to bounce it back, but it was of little use: the breeze carried the smoke over the barricade anyways. It seemed odorless to Tidek, but she could hear angry Anons coughing and swearing behind the barricade. I can’t let any more tear gas inside.

The policeman who shot the round was reloading, and two more joined him. Tidek clenched her right open hand into a fist. Vasu moved half a meter towards the police while Étienne and Fajita remained in formation at Vasu’s sides, making a triangle. Étienne and Fajita rotated in place until their naked graphene blades were facing outwards and their rear bumpers were facing the center of the triangle. In one single swift move, the three drones flew backwards and into each other. Tidek heard the ‘clack’ of their rear-side bumper magnets snapping together. Her hexagon-shaped drones were now flying in a joint honeycomb formation.

Not for long. Tidek opened her right hand again and made a grabbing motion. The three drones detached, unrolling a thin black net in between them. Three drones, one skynet.

Tidek detected movement in Kanda’s feed. The police at the front barricade started a slow advance, shields up. She ordered Vasu, Étienne and Fajita to use the skynet to grab as many tear gas canisters as they could and turned to face at her left open hand, holding the main wall formation. The back barricade faded a bit and her awareness of the front became sharper. With both arms still extended, her shoulders were straining already, a trickle of sweat running down her spine.

At her command, the nine drones at the front barricade advanced against the police shield. The drones’ naked graphene blades glared red and shrieked as they pierced the air.

No reaction. The police kept gaining ground, despite the rain of glass and stones they were under, despite her drones. The banging of pots and pans redoubled from the windows around the barricade.

Tidek wished for a whisper — a private voice channel with Eluard. It was granted. “How much time still?” she demanded.

“About fifteen more minutes. You’re doing good.” And he closed the whisper, taking them both back to the broadcast channel.

Was he being condescending? How dare he? She felt her right hand becoming heavy. Vasu. Her drones at the back barricade were surrounded in tear gas fog. Flying in triangle formation with the skynet in between them, they had caught most of the canisters as they flew through the air. The police, their strategy having failed, were retreating into their vans.

Kanda, maintain formation. Vasu, return to the front with the canisters. Fly high. Haf, reinforce the back. Line formation. She ran out of limbs to act as anchors to her drone groups. Still, Haf and his two companion drones headed out to the rear barricade. Her vision showed a blur of images and sounds that fought for focus, one over the other, as she struggled to keep herself aware of Kanda, Vasu and Haf at the same time.

As Haf left, the drone formation at the front barricade became sparser, leaving only Kanda, Omega and their four sibling drones. The police seemed to gain confidence, the shield wall coming closer and agents joining in behind them.

Tidek moved her body to face forward and took a deep, slow breath.

And then another.

The blend of images, sounds, smells and sensations coming from her three drone feeds at the same time seemed to emulsify, gaining some sort of consistency, she imagined, as she relaxed her shoulders and lowered her hands down to her hips, palms facing forward.

This might sting. Tidek stepped forward and moved her right hand to her left hip, as if about to unsheathe a sword. In a brisk move, she sliced her hand through the air, from left to right, then raised it, clenched her fist, and slammed it down.

The six drones facing the approaching police forces retreated, broke left, and then immediately darted right and against the police shield wall. Their graphene blades shrieked as they met reinforced polycarbonate, ballistic armor and metal. Plastic and metal sparks flew off and shot in all directions. The drone’s blades automatically avoided cutting flesh, as they were able to sense the low-intensity electric field living flesh radiates, but everything else was pierced and sliced.

At the same time, Vasu, Étienne and Fajita, responding to Tidek’s slamming fist, had stopped in mid-air near the front barricade. They drew so close together they almost touched and then sprang in opposite directions, tearing open the skynet and sending dozens of canisters over the heads of the police, each can still spewing tear gas. The gas fog quickly obscured the police and their vans, and drifted well beyond their rear lines.

Far enough, I hope, Tidek thought as the police shield wall crumbled to pieces.

Tidek made a ‘raise up’ motion with both hands, and the drones at the front barricade gained altitude. With her index fingers she made a circling motion, and the drones started to circle like vultures over their prey.

Without their shields, the Riot Police were suddenly vulnerable to the stone-throwing coming from the barricade. Most policemen broke formation and tried to gain distance, stepping on the agents behind them. Two obstinate agents tried to keep on advancing, despite their fleeing comrades — until Tidek sent Mandé and Foie screaming down towards them. The policemen broke and ran away too.

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Eduard F. Vinyamata is a Catalan writer in development. He was made in Barcelona and educated in the US. He lives with his dog Trutx, who is a big time foodie like him. Eduard is a traveler, a bon vivant, a geek and taller than you.

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