I can't see, cause it's burning deep inside...
Like gasoline, a fire running wild!
No more fear, cause I'm getting closer now...
So unreal but I like it anyhow!
I go faster and faster and faster and faster andfaster and faster and Faster!
Chapter 38 = Under Cloak and Shadow
The RAPTOR drone that stood before Jeremy was indeed the missing JT-043 RAPTOR drone, but it had numerous burns and scratch marks upon its metal body. One of its optics had been ripped out and the other didn't fit the socket it was in, indicating that whoever had ripped out the optic had taken the other one out and put it back in but in the wrong spot. There were broken wires hanging out of the empty socket, allowing him to see inside and see various damaged circuitry. One of its primary cutting claws was cut off, multiple joints had signs of repeated cutting attempts, the tip of its charging tail was sliced to pieces and multiple sensors built into its metal frame were burned beyond repair.
It was clear the drone needed repair, but Jeremy had more pressing concerns as the drone was staring at him with its yellow optic at that moment.
[This unit... has been sent... to eliminate you.] JT-043 stated coldly to him as it stood in the room with the other RAPTOR drones standing behind it.
For a brief second his brain was slow to process those words, but then comprehension began to dawn upon him, as the drone's optic changed colors from yellow to 'blue'.
For a few seconds nobody in the room moved, Gazelle had stopped breathing as she looked between Jeremy and the drone, the drones behind the badly damaged RAPTOR staring at it, and Aelita with a very confused expression as she kept glancing between all the bodies in the room, the AI trying to process the situation.
"You... were sent to 'eliminate me'?" He asked, wanting to be sure.
[Affirmative... this unit was sent to eliminate you, unit Jeremy.] It replied.
"So... why am I still alive?" He asked in confusion.
[Because the Human Protection Protocols remain in effect. Despite an unknown party's attempt to reprogram and use this unit against you, this unit's protected backup archives reinstalled enough data prior to its confrontation with you for the HPP's to take effect.] It responded with a nod.
"Jeremy is it safe?" Gazelle asked nervously as she got up and stood by him.
"It's safe... the drone's protected backup archives have returned the drone to its normal functions... but that raises some questions." Jeremy asked as he looked at the drone again. "Alright... can you explain what happened to you, the last information we had was that you were lured into a trap and then captured."
The drone shook its head in response. [Negative, this unit's memory banks have been damaged, multiple memory gaps are present, around twenty years' worth of recorded memory data to this unit has been lost or corrupted beyond repair. This unit is unable to extrapolate or theorize what happened to it outside of visual data. Without access to a central network to store its data, this unit was unable to preserve any intelligence that would be of value.]
"Can you recall anything that happened to you, anything recent?" He asked.
[Affirmative... reconnecting to the 'Network'... uploading last recorded data...] It stated as its optics turned green.
Behind it the other drones' optics turned green as well, indicating they were also connecting with JT-043 along the network, the data being shared between them all.
"Network, what's he talking about Jeremy?" Gazelle asked curiously as the drones nodded in unison as their optics returned to blue.
"The Network... it's basically the drone's personal internet. Think of it as your 'Interweb', when the drones connect to the Network, they share any data between them that is 'different' then what the collective whole knows, they then upload it to a central databank so that any information they may need to call upon is preserved and can be accessed in an instant." He explained to Gazelle as he walked over and picked up Aelita, who had changed her appearance and was pretending to look like a secretary, filing paperwork into a folder in her holosphere. "Normally Sentinel acts as the Central Databank, sifting through all of that data and either deleting irrelevant information or storing the information into a database in Eden Facility 17, but since we're so far away, Aelita is acting as the databank now for the drones."
After he returned to the bed Aelita turned to him and gave a thumbs up, indicating she was done.
"Alright, show us what you can Aelita!"
The AI nodded and extended her hand, using her holosphere to cast a projection on the wall for them to see.
They watched the wall as Aelita projected several broken disjointed images, nothing of note, occasionally they watched small recording snippets as a mammal talked to it, sometimes a hud appeared indicating something was trying to hack its systems, they watched as its optics were drilled into and extracted, various error messages, static... and then finally the last recording when a mammal pretended they were its 'superior' and ordering the drone to kill Jeremy.
But nothing to indicate 'who' it was sent the drone to kill him, or if they were working for someone or were alone.
"Jeremy, who could want you 'dead'? And 'why'?" Gazelle asked nervously as Aelita ended the projection.
"Honestly, it could be Shepard, he is someone who would want me dead if he thinks killing me could give him access to my technology, specifically my drones. Unfortunately, if he is the one... I'm afraid what he could possibly think he'd gain from doing it." He said nervously as he sat on the bed with Aelita. "Even if he 'did' kill me, the drones won't just listen to whoever's in charge in Northern Mothland... if there is no Human in charge, they'll follow the last orders they were given by whatever human is in charge, same with Sentinel. Killing me doesn't mean they'll just listen to mammals; they just won't have any further change of orders."
"But what I'm really worried about, is how they were able to delete memory and data from the drone's databanks. It's obvious they didn't know 'what' they were doing, but they managed to gain access to its memory core and, unable to read everything, they just deleted stuff at random... almost all of its memory from the last twenty years of its active cycle. If... if the protected backup archives hadn't been able to access its memory core, recognize the missing data, and reuploaded the HPP's that were 'also' deleted... then this drone would have 'shot' me just now before the other drones could have stopped it, before Aelita..."
Jeremy sighed as he rubbed Aelita's holosphere, with Aelita frowning as she leaned as close to his hand as her holographic body could be permitted in the sphere.
Gazelle too sat next to him, holding his hand and trying to comfort him as well as she thought of how close Jeremy was that time to being killed by his own drone as well.
He'd let the drone in without much thought, thinking it was perfectly safe, if the drone's protective measures hadn't kicked in like he said, or if they'd been even a 'second' slower to do what they were intended to do...
He looked up at the drone as it addressed it.
[There is a clear and present threat to your safety, according to the HPPs, we should leave this area and return to safer regions. There are too many potential hostiles in this city, and we have too few Sentinel Drones to cover all possible avenues of attack. It is recommended that we return to Eden Facility 17, for your safety.] JT-043 stated. [If we continue here, the risk to your life continues to increase. Our weapon resources are also limited; if we are repeatedly forced into fire fight situations, our plasma cartridges and plasma reserves will be depleted rapidly... limiting our already limited defensive capabilities further. Furthermore, this unit's AI was compromised, however brief, but was still compromised and used in a potential plot to assassinate you. This unit cannot confirm or deny if any strategic information was extracted prior to its reactivation. Strategically speaking, we also have limited knowledge on the terrain and surrounding landscape of this country, not including our limited knowledge of the capitol city itself, putting us at a severe disadvantage. Based on this information, it is highly recommended that we return to Eden Facility 17 and return with greater resource reserves and additional drone support.]
He nodded in understanding, his drones were most definitely at a severe disadvantage, despite Aelita's ability to learn much about the country through its 'small interweb with very few sites', there was limited information on the country beyond the city itself. All they had was a 'general' idea of where they could go to find this Coraline and either rescue her or see what had become of her. And now they, whoever they are, know that the Drones are vulnerable, they are not invincible, and if they can capture one again, they can attempt to reprogram it again.
Only this time they might go further if they are able to...
"I know... but we can't leave just yet, so no Drone, for now we stay."
[As you command.] The other Drones stated.
He sighed as he rubbed his eyes, feeling a small headache from all of this information.
He looked up at the RAPTOR drones again.
[This unit requires... maintenance... it is suffering, multiple issues. Also, this unit requires... recharge.] JT-043 requested.
He took a deep breath and looked to Gazelle. "Will you be fine for now, I need to go and fix this drone, poor thing looks like it went through hell... which just going on looks it probably did."
"Yea, yea I'll be fine, you go take care of your drone Jeremy!" Gazelle said warmly.
He held her hand for a moment before she kissed him on the cheek, then he got up and walked with JT-043 and another of the RAPTOR drones protecting him and Gazelle out and down the stairs. He chose to walk with them because he didn't 'trust' the elevator... and he relayed that information to the others via the RAPTOR drones protecting their rooms.
It took him almost 40 minutes of constantly walking because of how slow they went for 'safety reasons', during which the drones were taking 'extra' caution due to the fact that many floors were without power and thus without lights, keeping their weapons at the ready and constantly scanning for threats, but he eventually reached the bottom floor and was swiftly escorted by additional DOG drones to the convoy where all of the drones were either locking themselves into place to recharge or were activating to protect him while he worked on repairing the drone.
"Geez drone, what did they 'do' to your internal circuitry?" He asked as he pulled out a shock absorber, designed to protect the delicate circuits and motherboards and other computer gizmos that made the drone operate.
The thing was heavily shocked, burned internally and had been overclocked into oblivion it seemed. It had done its job, but the damage was insane. That wasn't even counting all of the burn marks, the scaring, the cuts, the metallic gashes, and especially the lost optic the drone suffered under its 'torture'.
Sighing as this was going to be a long job, he pulled out a replacement part and had MUTT lower its face vizor to protect his eyes, allowing him to work on the drone, cutting and welding the drone back into shape. Once he'd replaced all of the more seriously damaged components, he extracted the drone's optic and pulled out a replacement optic from their supply of spare parts, and then began reconnecting them to the drone's eye sockets, a process that took several minutes.
All the while he worked, the drones watched over him, watching from every angle, scanning optics observing his surroundings.
"Alright... readjusted your optics, some of the memory data loss should have been replaced by your backup archives, and anything else missing should have been replaced by reconnecting to the Network. I replaced your missing claw, replaced your charging port in your tail, and replaced some of the sensors that lined your tail and external metal plates. As for the burn marks, well that's going to take a good cleaning back at Eden Facility 17 to buff out. Everything else internally seems to have escaped major damages, your shock protectors needed replacing but better them then anything major, perform a basic system's check and see if anything else is malfunctioning!"
The drone nodded as it finished turning on, then it took a few steps backwards, looked at its legs and bent them, extended itself, moved them around, jumped, rotated its arms and claws, extended and retracted its weapons, before looking around with its optics to complete the system check.
[All systems are within normal parameters; this unit is ready for new orders.] It stated.
"Alright, once you've confirmed your up to date with the other drones in the network, go recharge."
It nodded and waited only for a few seconds before turning and walking toward the charging carriage, where it turned around, flipped open its tail, backed up and plugged itself in before shutting down for a good night's recharge.
Jeremy sighed as he looked up at the moon, feeling dead tired and not liking the idea of getting up to walk up the stairs again. However, he heard the nearby door open and saw Gazelle holding Aelita's holosphere in her arms, under the escort of the remaining RAPTOR drone which had its weapons out, until she was close enough, then it put them away.
"Gazelle, what are you doing out here?" He asked as she walked over to him.
"Jeremy... I just, had a bad feeling..." She muttered as she looked at Aelita. "I swear, I don't know why, but while you were gone I just... felt like I was being watched. Despite Aelita and even the drone saying I was safe and... I just couldn't stay up there any longer. And... I was hoping I could sleep down here with you... in your Solar Carriage."
He looked at Aelita who shrugged, nodding to her and then to him, telling him in her own way that Gazelle just didn't feel safe without Jeremy there.
(Enter Gazelle's PoV)
"Alright, to be honest, I didn't feel like going up the stairs again anyway tonight..." He said before turning to the drones protecting them. "We're sleeping in the Solar Carriage everyone..."
[Affirmative... all units establish defensive formation Alpha-Klendu-Vorma Six!] One drone said, and automatically all of them began positioning themselves into an inverted star formation, looking in all directions while Jeremy and Gazelle went over to the carriage as it opened for them automatically.
That was until Aelita signaled that she wanted to go in the front while they remained in the main section, so Jeremy placed her in the front seat while Gazelle hit a switch to change the chairs into their bed forms.
The carriage's seating arrangements had it so that each section of seat would lift and separate into either a single standard Twin-sized bed, or clamp together into a small Queen-sized bed.
There even were small compartments that opened up which revealed some bed sheets and blankets and even a few pillows to make it more 'bed-like'. While the other seats had standard bedding, Jeremy and Gazelle's also had his two gifted wool blankets wrapped up with equally decorated pillows for them, including the standard EF17 blankets and sheets.
Before leaving Gazelle had been given a gift from the Sheep Community, a pair of specially woven pillows, with the covers of one depicting a beautiful artistic rendition of Gazelle and Jeremy, embracing one another, each with white feathery wings wrapping around the other. Adorning the second was another artistic rendition of Gazelle, holding a weak and feeble looking Jeremy, his own wings soaked and broken while the rain poured around them, smiling and shushing his pains as she wrapped her arms and wings around him, shielding him from the freezing rain.
It had been a beautiful present, and though she didn't want to offend the sheep or the artist, she just couldn't bring herself to potentially ruin the beautiful artwork by sleeping on them, instead the pillows were placed in simple EF17 pillow cases, but the covers were laid out so she could smile and remember how she had saved him all those months ago.
Thinking back, she touched the casing and took a deep breath of peace... she just felt safe and happy now.
"Ready?" Jeremy asked as he climbed into the carriage while she put the standard sheets and blankets on.
"Yep!" She said as she crawled into bed with him as the door closed and locked up.
As she snuggled up to Jeremy she glanced at the window where she observed a drone nearby turn its head slightly, while in front of it some distance, two drones slowly turned their heads, observing the area around them.
"Uh... Jeremy... do you think you could...?" She whispered to him, before gently nodding to the window.
Understanding what she wanted, he leaned up and said, "Aelita, can you lock the carriage down for us?"
Moments later the carriage lurched slightly as it sank to the ground, pulling the wheels in and sealing them up, then the windows began sealing up in their metallic sheet shielding, both blocking the inside of the carriage visually, and blocking potential threats from attempting to get into the carriage.
Again, Jeremy's technology made her feel safe again here in Northern Mothland. She just felt safe again...
Leaning closer she planted a long overdue kiss on his lips, one which he reciprocated, and then smiled warmly as she snuggled closer, sighed contentedly as she closed her eyes, comfortable in the knowledge that Jeremy's Carriage kept any peeping mammal from peaking past the protected windows, while outside of it a protective ring of mechanical drones whose sole purpose that night were to ensure nomammal interrupted their sleep that night patrolled tirelessly. She felt safe, warm, protected... and more importantly 'loved'. As she began to slip into slumber land, her mind had a very silly yet heartwarming thought...
'Funny... it almost feels like our roles are reversed... before it was 'me' keeping his heart safe and loved... now he's keeping my heart safe and loved...'
The night went on with the two having an undisturbed sleep, Gazelle's fantasies flying this way and that way, whatever her imagination decided to take, while outside, the Drones watched and monitored, silent and resolute, only shifting around to ensure no field of view was left unmonitored. Even as the sun began to rise many hours later, the drones stayed put where they were stationed until it was time to change shifts with those who had been charging.
When the time came to wake up, she and Jeremy were slow to rise, because it was the first good night's sleep she'd had since arriving here, and because it was just so comfortable lying there with him.
"Gazelle, I know your comfy, but we need to get up soon." Jeremy whispered softly as she pretended to still be sleeping.
"Mhmmm do we have to... can't we just stay like this another hour?" She asked sweetly.
"I wish we could... but, breakfast is soon, and you know we have to go on that 'beautiful tour' later..."
She groaned as she knew, but this was such a nice feeling she had that she was tempted to just say 'no, I'll stay here tonight'. However, she just couldn't let Jeremy go alone, after their last excursion out, she knew he'd need her for mental and emotional support to endure whatever 'Shepard' had planned for them.
So, with a sigh of regret, she slowly began to open her eyes, yawn and shift out of bed so they could get out of the carriage which swiftly adjusted and resumed its 'standard operating mode' instead of its protected mode. She also saw to her surprise Mutt sitting in front of them with some of their clothes from upstairs on its back.
"Why are you holding our clothes?" She asked as Jeremy also stepped out with her.
[Bark, Bark, AI Aelita ordered this unit to head to your room and collect articles of clothing for you to change into this morning. Bark Bark!] It stated.
She giggled appreciatively at that as she and Jeremy grabbed their clothes and went back into the carriage to change, which instantly locked up its windows to give them privacy. Once completed and in clean clothing they gave Mutt their dirty clothes from yesterday and it walked away to head upstairs while they saw Judy, Nick, Donny, Franky, Moe and Joe stretching as they were escorted by their Raptor Drone escorts out of the hotel.
"We were wondering what happened to you two when we saw your room had no Raptor guarding it." Donny said.
"We were a little worried something might have happened." Franky agreed.
"It's not nearly as bad as it could have been, but... we'll talk later." Jeremy said as he glanced around. "Let's just say... my missing Drone came back last night with a mild case of amnesia."
Judy and Nick went wide eyes at that as they looked around as well, before nodding and heading over to the little dining area that the drones had set up while they did their morning greetings. The cooking spider drones were up and also working tirelessly on breakfast, flipping and stirring, providing 'kitchen showmanship' as they expertly chopped and spun their craft for them all to see. When they were ready, they laid out a practical banquet of sliced and steamed vegetables with variously toasted breads with spreads of butter and jam, tiny slices of roasted bird meat layered with mixed spices, all of which had a healthy sampling of tiny freshly baked muffins.
"Oh Jeremy, pleeeeeease tell me that these two are available for my family's next reunion!" Judy moaned in happiness as she and everyone ate breakfast, digging into the virtual feast before them with gusto.
"I mean maybe, if your family don't mind a pair of mechanical spiders." Jeremy said.
"Oh domworry... -gulp- she'll find a way to sway them." Nick said as he swallowed a muffin. "Mhmmm love the blueberry filling by the way you two."
"Ahhhh, this is how you start the day!" Franky agreed after wolfing down a slice of bird meat.
[Mhmhmm your too kind!] ZU-K0 declared as he laid another plate of cooked meat for them to have, as between six meat eating individuals that had been the first of the breakfast buffet to empty.
[A most scrumptious meal is all you will ever have from us!] ZA-K0 stated happily while cleaning its utensils after serving up another batch of sliced toast with jams and butter.
[As long as it meets the nutritional value I prescribed, I don't care if it's just seasoned bread and water.] EMA said dully from her medical cart, still rolled up as a ball attached to her medical cart.
[OOf, the 'nerve', seasoned bread and water, where is the culinary art in that!?] Both Cooking Spider Drones stated.
[Update, situation normal, area remains secuuuuuveee vrvrrrrv Breeeb VALALALLALA DA FLEA CANNOT FEEL HIS SPLEEEEEN!] PT-173, or Pete declared from the other side of the parking lot. [Apologies... this unit does not have a spleen.]
At that everyone just laughed, even Jeremy. Yes, it was a symptom of the Drone's degrading AI stability, but it was just so 'random' that he couldn't help but laugh with everyone else. However, the fun was not to last as with breakfast's conclusion, they started chatting idly and 'eventually' Jeremy had to explain why he and Gazelle were downstairs in his carriage instead of their rooms that morning. So, he explained that his Drone had returned late last night, battered and burned, with an Optic missing and the other misplaced, looking like it had been tortured with cruel and unusual methods to get it to talk. He also explained that the drone's backups only 'barely' kicked in at the right time, as its memories had been deleted and various protocols/algorithms deleted resulting in it forgetting what it was, what it was supposed to do, and essentially turning it against him.
"So, you're telling us that your drone 'barely' avoided gunning you down in your own room?" Judy asked in horror, her ears drooping. "That's... I can't believe Northern Mothland of all places could do that, I mean... they're behind the rest of the world in tech by like 'decades', and we're behind you by centuries!"
"Yea man, how could they just wipe your drone's memories, don't they have measures to protect themselves?" Nick said, just as astonished as his wife.
"They do, they have 'countless' safeguards, judging by how long it's been active and how beat up it is, as well as some leftover scraps of data that it still had that we can piece together, they were at it constantly. The only way I can imagine that they could do that, was if the drone was shut down for some reason, and while offline they managed to gain access to its systems and they deleted various blocks of code. They probably only did it as a last resort, a desperation tactic... either way we're running out of time, we don't know 'who' did it, Shepard or someone else, anyone could be a suspect and we can't blame anyone without evidence."
"Well, who else but Shepard would want your technology, he's been trying to weasel it out of you... no offense to weasels, sorry Gazelle..." Moe said before glancing at her.
"I think they'll understand the comparison and not care." She replied with a little smile.
"Yea, he is the most likely suspect, but... without proof, we got nothing... and he gave himself a convenient scape goat, in the form of potential terrorists, so he can always blame 'them' instead." Jeremy said as he sighed heavily.
With no other conversations to help take his mind off the topic, they all just waited until their tour guide for that day showed up while the drones cleaned up breakfast and patrolled, having no other orders from him.
Eventually their tour guide arrived after about an hour, and they were all soon on their way in his carriage to tour the east section of the city, the 'cultural district' as it was labeled, along the way she was giving a brief synopsis of various locals such as a bar that had been in business for over two hundred years, famous for 'never' shutting down even when times were difficult around the world and never changing its prices to meet the needs of the masses, all in that abnormally happy, overly eager tone they'd gotten used to.
"And to our right, you will see the famous 'Grande Public Library' of our first Glorious Leader who founded our nation, and who commissioned this library so that all the public may bask and enjoy the wealth of knowledge collected from around the world, some of whose works have been lost and yet still remain, safely guarded among the shelves of-"
Jeremy was struggling to avoid putting his face in the palm of his hands, as the 'great library' she was speaking of was barely lager than Gazelle's home. It was probably about as 'Grande' as a public library in Zootopia's poorest districts. Aelita who was next to him in her holosphere looked sadly at the disappointing building and shaking her head, a sentiment shared by Gazelle as she too shook her head in disbelief and sadness.
"Unless every wall is stuffed with books from floor to ceiling and there's barely enough room to walk sideways, they probably barely have more than three hundred books... if that." She whispered sadly.
He nodded in agreement, choosing to instead look out at the occasional mammals that were walking the streets, some on two wheeled bicycles, but mostly all just walking. He occasionally saw traffic lights, which the carriage stopped at automatically, following the laws of traffic, but the streets were almost devoid of 'any' vehicles besides his. Occasionally he saw traffic conductors at various intersections... which raised multiple questions in his head.
"Why do they have 'traffic conductors' if they have traffic signals... for streets that have zero to no vehicles 'trafficking'?" He asked out loud.
"Not even a police unit patrolling..." Judy muttered boredly as she looked out the opposite window, pulling up her visor out of boredom to scratch her eyes.
"I think I saw one on a bike..." Nick muttered also.
Jeremy nodded as well as he looked out the window, trying to stave off boredom while thinking of how they were going to leave the capitol and search the mountains to the north... when he noticed as an elderly wolf suddenly grab at their chest for a moment, before collapsing on the sidewalk. Beside him was a much younger wolf who rushed to his side when he collapsed, frantically trying to help him and looking terrified.
"STOP THE CARRIAGE!" He ordered as Aelita was very surprised at his action.
[As you command.] The carriage's AI declared over the intercom, obeying the order and immediately stopping.
The doors were then flung open, allowing Jeremy quickly to climb out as Judy and Nick hurried to join him as they were supposed to be 'his' bodyguards. He rushed over as the tour guide tried to yell at him and stop him from leaving the vehicle, but he ignored her as he ran over to the fallen mammal to see what was wrong.
"What's wrong with him, why did he collapse?" He asked as he bent to check the elderly wolf who was breathing very weakly, his eyes only open for a fraction, his mouth open and his tongue hanging out and his pulse feeling weak.
"He... he's dying... my daddy is dying..." The female young wolf moaned as she feverishly tried to shake him.
Jeremy noticed a massive lump on his neck, a very hard lump that was clearly some kind of cancer that had been growing for who knows how long. With how big it was, it was 'clearly' suffocating his windpipes, cutting off precious oxygen his body needed. If something wasn't done fast, he'd die...
"He's still alive, barely, but he needs medical help fast." He muttered as he felt his pulse again, panic flying as time was precious. "There's no way a hospital here can save him, he needs immediate surgery to remove the cancer!"
"But it's impossible, the hospital said there was no cure... there's not a hospital in all the world that could save him even when we found it early on!" The she wolf said sadly while the crowd around them grew.
"If they'd found it early, they could have used surgical... ugh no time to explain, AELITA, GET EMA DOWN HERE IT'S AN EMERGENCY, HAVE THE DRONES OPEN THE GATES TO GET HER CART HERE, WE NEED HER ASAP!" He yelled to the carriage. "His heart's getting weaker, we need to keep it beating..."
Immediately he started going to work as Gazelle and her friends joined them, Donny, Franky, Moe and Joe all forming a circle to help give Jeremy space to work while he started giving him whatever help he could, He placed his hands on his heart and began working to give him CPR, trying to help his heart keep going.
"Come on... stay... with us... come on!" He muttered as the elderly wolf's daughter cried still.
He kept at it for two minutes, until he heard the telltale signs of EMA rolling toward their position at top speed. He and every other mammal on the street, even the tour guide who had been frantically trying to get them to leave, stared in awe as the giant rolling ball of metal that was Ema sped toward them. In panic and fear the streets began to clear as the Spider Drone flew toward the Solar Carriage and smacked into its rear to stop her momentum. The carriage, being made of titanium and having already locked itself down without spiking the streets, only budged 'slightly' at her smacking it, and since Ema's armor had been updated, no harm came to the drone or her precious load of chemicals she carried.
Immediately she unrolled herself and assumed her standard form as an enormous metallic black spider drone with a bulging abdomen and crawled over to them. The fallen wolf's daughter screamed in panic as she approached and tried to shield her father, obviously fearing the worst, but all Ema did was stand in front of Jeremy and stare at him through her optics.
[What's the status of the patient?] She asked in a serious tone.
"This mammal is suffering from a cancer in the neck, his wind tunnel is being crushed, heart rate low, low pulse and lack of oxygen!" He explained. "He needs medical surgery fast or he won't survive."
Ema nodded and moved past but was stopped by the still frantically terrified wolf daughter, still trying to shield her father and calling Ema a 'monster' and screaming for her to stay away. [I'm here to help... I'm a medical drone, I can save your father, but I need to see his condition with my own optics.] She said in as soft a tone as possible.
"But... but... they said... he can't be saved... that... that he'll..."
[I don't know what 'they' said... but I can save him... if you'll let me.] She replied, again, in as soft and gentle a tone as possible. [I am the EMA BWS Drone of Eden Facility 17, there's not a patient in the world that I will not do all in my power to save if I can save them, and just based on visual scans... I 'can' save him.]
After a few more moments of fear, in which her eyes shifted, as if questioning what she was told 'before' versus what she was being told 'now', as well as Ema's truly bizarre appearance, before looking at him and Gazelle for some kind of sign.
"Trust her, she's the greatest doctor in the world... she can save him, trust her!" Gazelle said sweetly.
Jeremy nodded as well when she looked to him, and finally the wolf nodded and slowly backed away, allowing Ema to crawl over and start scanning with optics and lasers from her legs. [Some kind of cancer alright, early scans indicate a familiarity to extreme late stages of Thyroid Cancer found in both canine species and humans, only way to treat it is to remove every single cancer cell.] Ema said as she slowly turned him over and injected him with a syringe needle filled with a bluish liquid. [He needs deep invasive surgery in the neck and an injection of anti-cancer to rid the roots. This will keep him stable until the procedure is complete!]
Ema quickly wrapped him in some of her surgical string webbings and gently lifted him using four legs, using the other four to walk as her cart made its way down the street, the two HORSE drones dragging it at best possible speed, catching the eyes of onlookers as they soon realized Ema was 'not' dangerous. "Are you taking him to the hospital?" The wolf girl asked hopefully.
[I wouldn't take him there even if I had no other option, fortunately I 'do' have options.] Ema said dully as the cart pulled to a stop and the Biobed extended.
After the Biobed extended and the wolf was placed, Ema instantly went to work, plugging various surgical tubes into his veins and placing him on life support while sealing him up in a tight seal of pocketed air so that she could perform surgery while outside of a sterile environment like the Medical Facility of the Eden Facility. The Biobed had special holes built into it that he'd created for such a situation at the EMA BWS drone's request, allowing Ema to slip her legs into the bed's pocket of air without contaminating it with outside air once the sterilizing gas was introduced. Ema could literally sit atop the cart and reach into the Biobed to perform whatever procedure she needed with no loss of dexterity or efficiency.
[This will keep him asleep until the procedure is complete...] Ema said as she introduced a new gas to the Biobed.
"Do you need any help, Ema?" Gazelle asked as she and the others moved a little closer.
[Medical Procedure 45-Q, in the event of a surgical procedure a main Surgeon and an assistant nurse are to be present. However, only Jeremy is 'qualified' to assist me, but I do not require his assistance for this nor do I want him nearby for risk of potential infection.] Ema said dully as she began reaching in and starting to perform the first incision into the neck.
"I mean, we can hold a bowl or something for you..." Judy offered. "An extra pair of arms wouldn't hurt..."
[While 'yes', a pair of hands would help a normal 'human' surgeon, or even a mammal surgeon... I am not a mammal or a human. I am an EMA BWS Drone... I have '8' legs for just this situation.] Ema declared in an even more dull tone, glancing at them while lifting her 8 legs and slipping six into the Biobed while the other two reached into the cart and extracted various tools for her to use, a bowl and a special acid that she filled it with. [I could perform 'two' surgeries simultaneously and still be at peak performance.]
"What is that?" Nick said as he held his nose upon the contents of the bowl being poured.
[Highly concentrated Sulfuric Acid, fifteen percent denser and more effective than previous versions. I always have a stockpile on standby in case I need to quickly dissolve something down at the molecular level, only authorized to be used on tumors, cancers, infected organs and flesh that are beyond repair under Medical Protocol Alpha 005-B3-4.]
And so, she started working on the mammal, igniting a plasma knife and beginning the first incisions into the mammal's flesh, cutting into the neck and slowly using her appendages to slice into and off various portions of the cancerous lumps from all sides. While she worked, she scanned, taking various measurements, blood samples, heart readings, brain activity and everything else the EMA was required to do during this surgery. Occasionally she would take the lumps of cancer out through a pair of special windows that allowed it to pass through a chamber without breaking the airtight and sterile seal of the Biobed, and each time a lump was removed she pulled it out and dumped it into the acid filled bowl, resulting in a sizzling, burning sound accompanied by an odor that everyone, even Jeremy, could smell at a distance. Many backed away complaining, holding noses and wincing at the smell, only the wolf daughter stayed close by even though she was gagging slightly, using her own clothes to try and stave off the smell.
"How... can you not 'smell' that?" She asked Ema through a cough as the drone never flinched in her work.
[I don't have a sense of smell; I have various sensors lining the metallic plates near my optics, but those simply tell me various odors and temperatures within the vicinity of my frame.] Ema said as she sliced another lump off and dumped it into the acid. [I need to detect the odors, or I can't operate at peak efficiency. While it is 'similar' to smell, I don't 'smell' in the sense of how humans and mammals detect odors and react to it. What do they view as 'medicine' here, leeches?!]
"Ugh, that reeks... bleah..." Donny moaned as Jeremy saw him trying to hold back his breakfast that morning.
[Mammals... I swear... overly sensitive to odors...] Ema muttered dully as she dropped another lump of cancer into the acid. [Ugh, he also has three parasites in his lower intestines... spinal cord is out of alignment... a tooth has a cavity... slight ear infection... and a vitamin C deficiency how is that even possible? How could his body have gotten this bad... I take back what I said... the dark ages were better than here, at least they had 'basic medical knowledge'!]
Even as Ema was operating on his neck to remove the enormous lumps of cancer out, which she had removed about half of by then, she was also injecting him with an orange liquid into his arm, churning up a special injection of her patented micromachines to help rid her patient of the parasites with another leg, slowly pushing a tiny needle with biotech gel to help repair damage to his ear with a third leg, and even started working on the tooth in his mouth that she said had a cavity. All of this while being watched by now over a hundred mammals from the street, even Jeremy's 'tour guide' had stopped trying to get him to leave and was now watching in astonishment as the BWS Drone performed five different medical procedures with perfect precision simultaneously.
[Heartrate still stable...] Ema said as she removed another lump. [His trachea is starting to relax and function more easily... now that seventy-four percent of the cancer is gone.]
Jeremy could see the female wolf was still worried, scared as she watched her father lying in the Biobed, out of reach, unconscious, being tended to by Ema, so tapped Gazelle and nodded to her to silently explain what he was going to do, and Gazelle agreed. He walked over to the wolf and gently patted her shoulder, causing her to jump slightly until she relaxed at his expression.
"Don't worry, he'll be just fine." He told her gently.
She was quiet, her eyes shifting as she looked at him and then the floor, before she took a deep breath and nodded, accepting his promise and... finally relaxing as she looked back at her father.
"If you say he'll be fine... I'll believe you." She replied quietly.
With that they all watched as Ema worked, for another fifteen minutes she meticulously worked on the old wolf. Removing smaller and smaller clumps, her optics unblinking and focusing on the tasks before her. Each time she removed a tiny clump, she would mutter something along the lines of [It shouldn't have gotten this far!] or [I could have cured this cancer before it even began if I had a sample!] with each sample.
Then... at long last nearly 'all' of the cancer had been dumped into the acid bowl, and Ema began finishing her work on him. She pulled a final little lump out of the mammal's neck, but instead of placing it in the bowl of acid, she pulled out a tiny glass cylinder and carefully slid it inside, sealing it up and placing it in the confines of her medical cart.
[And 'that' is a sample I'll keep for research in studying a cure and vaccine for. Now... for the roots.] She declared as her legs began shifting tools, going for micro precision plasma cutting knives and a special vial of anti-cancer she'd developed during the procedure.
Slowly, carefully, little by little she cut into and either burned away or scraped out the roots of the cancer in his neck, not leaving a single scrap behind. When she was finished with a section, she injected it directly with her anti-cancer concoction to eradicate what was left. She also injected him with a massive concentration of Vitamin C to help replace what blood was lost and help overcome the deficiency he had. The tooth she'd worked on was filled, and she even muttered about how 'ugly' the parasites she saw in him were.
[Ugly little drains on life... but they won't be damaging 'this' body any longer!]
As for his spinal cord, after she used her biotech to repair the cuts she'd made to work on the cancer, she slowly lifted him up and turned him over, before removing his shirt and making a giant cut down his back and starting to work on it. Before everyone's eyes she used her legs to cut into his back and then started 'carefully' realigning it and mending what damage was there with biotech, being extremely careful not to damage any nerves.
[Once he's awake he'll feel like he's the healthiest wolf in the world compared to before!] She declared as she began repairing his back with biotech and sealing up the cut she'd made.
After her work was all but complete, she took the bowl of acid and dumped it into a container marked 'Acid Waste Storage' and then placed it into her cart with several other items. Finally, she extracted her legs and slowly climbed off the biobed to open it up and turn him upright again.
[Alright, I fixed his spinal cord, soothed out and repaired the infection to his ear, cleaned his teeth, removed 'three' class B parasites in his lower intestines, and most importantly removed eight pounds of cancer from his neck. He'll need to take it slow for a few days with physical activity and I recommend a diet of... well solid food and water prepped properly to avoid this again. But his life is no longer in danger, he was lucky Jeremy was passing by, another few minutes and it would have been too late.]
"He'll... he'll live?" The female wolf said in surprise, astonishment on her face and disbelief as she stared at her father resting peacefully.
[I believe I just said that, but... 'yes'... he'll live. He'll make a complete recovery.]
There was silence as she just stared in disbelief before she turned to Jeremy and, without surprise, pulled Jeremy into a tight hug as she screamed her gratitude for them saving her father. "THANK YOU. THANK YOU..." She hollered at the top of her voice, her voice cracking with how loud she was. "I... I-I can't... I can't... how can I ever repay you..."
"You... you don't need to worry." He said as he gently patted her shoulder.
But still she sobbed as she looked at him now, tears running down her cheeks, "But... I... I can't... we can't possibly... how are we supposed... I mean..."
"Pay?" Jeremy asked with a knowing smile.
Nervously she nodded, as he'd become used to hearing 'that' when Ema did her work.
"You don't need to pay me anything. I didn't ask Ema to do it because I wanted anything, I did it because it was right... nobody should be denied treatment for anything because they don't have the money, and nobody should be forced to die because they don't have access to medicine."
"But... how... they said... it was 'terminal'... she whispered in confusion while Ema slowly began waking her father up. "They said... all we could do was... make him comfortable... that there was 'no cure'... that nobody in the world could help him."
"I don't know what you were told but... that's obviously not true. Ema... my 'doctor'... the drone you just saw... is capable of curing many ailments and diseases. She carries the culmination of 'my' species medical knowledge, and to this day she..."
"What... what's going on..." A tired voice said in surprise. "Wait... why do I..."
Instantly the daughter ran to her father and hugged him happily as he woke up. And the entire collection of mammals who were watching were now astonished that he was 'alive' as promised, and more importantly was as healthy as he appeared to be now.
"My... my neck isn't... I can breathe and... why does my back not hurt? Uuugh but I'm so..."
"Papa... papa you're alive... you're alive!" She whimpered happily.
Ema had just finished wrapping her cart up and walked over to the duo, surprising the wolf who looked terrified as he'd obviously not been 'conscious' when she arrived to save him. [Alright, now that your life's not in danger, I'm going to need your name, age, sex and-]
So, after Jeremy explained the situation 'again' to the old wolf who also was astounded that his life was saved and that 'all' the problems his body suffered were fixed or had been mended as best as possible, slowly started divulging information to Ema so she could have him for medical records. Just like his daughter he tried to ask how exactly he was supposed to 'pay' for his treatment, but just like his daughter, Jeremy told him that he didn't have to pay anything, further hammered into by Ema who stated that all medical treatments and procedures regarding technologies or information associated with the UEMI were to not be sold or bartered with for currency as dictated by the UEMI.
When everyone asked what the 'UEMI' was, she simply stated it was 'before their time', and just reiterated that nobody had to pay for her work.
[I'm a construct in relation to the UEMI, so I don't charge anything for my medical services. Be happy and eat proper meals rich in vitamins, minerals, 'clean' water, well cooked and everything else as well as take regular exercise to maintain your new health. That also includes bedrest...] Ema stated as her cart began turning around. [Your daughter is in 'better' health, I had time to do a few scans, though I am detecting a slightly reduced Vitamin D count... this will help her, though I 'highly' recommend ingesting more Vitamin D rich foods and liquids.]
"Wait you... just... 'looked' at her and... you know how healthy she is?" A mammal asked incredulously.
"How were you able to cure him so easily, I thought no mammalian country in the world had medicine as advanced as us." Another asked.
Jeremy was about to try and interject, not sure how to respond, but Ema did that for him with an uncharacteristic [Breeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee] as her optics flashed multicolored rectangles while her body grew stiff and still.
Moe slowly walked over to the drone and waved a hand in front of her trying to get her attention. "Is she alright?" He asked.
"I think she 'crashed'..." Jeremy said in amazement. "I've... never seen her crash before."
"Can you fix her Jeremy?" Donny asked now.
"Yea... give me a moment." Jeremy muttered as he walked over to the drone, up to her main head unit, and tapped a button to open it up and access her internals. "She just needs a quick restart from her last normal operating second, and she'll be good as new."
After flicking a few switches, pressing some buttons and then closing her head up again, the spider drone slumped and slowly began to restart her AI and various subsystems.
[Did I just 'crash'... ugh... humiliating...] She muttered dully as she reoriented herself. [You are 'far' from being the most advanced nation in the world when it comes to medicine, in fact you're dead last!] She shouted.
"THAT'S ENOUGH!" A mammal shouted, causing everyone there to either back away or turn at the sight of several 'police' approaching.
At least Jeremy 'thought' they were police, but the fact they wore military uniforms, some had automatic rifles and one had a very adorned outfit with various medals told him that they were probably a very important figure. Instantly Judy and Nick stood to either side of him while Gazelle's friends pulled her back and got in front of her, faces set and looking stern as this group of predators approached them.
"Clear the street, 'everymammal!" He ordered the crowd before snarling at him and his group, "Except 'you'..."
Within minutes the entire section of street was clear, and their group suddenly noticed that there were way more 'soldiers' than they originally noticed.
"Jeremy... do we call for backup?" Nick whispered while the officer awaited word on if the streets were cleared entirely.
"No... not yet..." He whispered back.
"Just saying Jeremy... they have a 'lot' of guns on us..." Judy muttered as she glanced around. "And they aren't the pee shooters we were seeing before; the visors are seeing armor piercing rounds on them..."
He understood but he had to play this safe and carefully if they were going to get out of this situation alive.
Eventually the officer, a wolf by the looks of it, nodded and approached them with a very angry expression on his canine face. "You were ordered to 'leave' your machines and your 'technology' at the hotel. You were 'told' not to interrupt the daily lives of our citizens with your machines and frighten them with your appearance."
[Frighten... Jeremy just saved a mammal's life.] Ema said dully with optics changing colors to yellow. [If not for him, a mammal would have 'died' just now, no thanks to your nation's 'meager medical expertise'.]
"Tell your mechanical 'servant' to silence itself and get it under control, I won't be talked down to by a mere 'machine'." He snarled at Jeremy.
[Mere 'machine', I am the EMA BWS Alpha of Eden Facility 17, I am programmed with over seventy 'thousand' medical practices and am licensed to perform over a MILLION forms of medical techniques. And that's just 'skimming' the surface!] Ema nearly yelled as she stepped near the wolf.
Around the street multiple firearms were raised and pointed at Ema, while the wolf officer raised a paw and signalled them to hold fire, 'for now'.
"I'd watch your 'tone' you mechanical servant... I could have you shot and destroyed here for 'threatening me'." He addressed her now.
[Go ahead... I'm not alive... unlike you.] Ema said dully as her optics flashed multiple colors. [My exoskeletal armor that I was upgraded with can withstand your weapons firepower leaving only minor dents and fractures, easily fixed. If I do suffer any damage, I can be repaired, my body's schematics are uploaded to the network. You on the other hand... should go seek a 'doctor'... as you've only got about three weeks to live if you're lucky.]
"Is that a 'threat'? He growled; fangs being borne against the drone.
[No, it's a fact... my optics can detect various heat levels and other chemical data in the body, including heart rates. While I would need to take a 'sample' of your blood for more concrete data, based on my previous scans and data in my memory banks, I am detecting the early symptom stages of TPN-Genova 1 going through your system.]
At that the wolf's eyes snapped open as he heard those words, a look of shock and horror on his face now. "I-impossible... you're just..."
[I take it your suffering anemic sensations, which include tiredness, slight headaches or dizziness, minor cases of feeling weak and above all extreme fatigue at parts of the day?] Ema stated in a matter-of-fact tone. [Earliest symptoms of the disease, in about five days your blood will start to release a yellow puss that will clog your arteries, leaving you vulnerable to Internal Hemorrhaging, leading to potential heart attacks. Seven days after that if the blood clots don't kill you, the infectious puss turning your immune system against itself will weaken your body's response to other diseases and infections. If you're lucky six days after, your vital organs will begin to come under attack as vital blood veins become blocked and your healthy blood count reaches critical levels. If your heart doesn't break down... then the puss reaching your cerebral cortex and brain matter will certainly result in brain damage... and eventually 'death'. It's 'not' a painless death. I should know, it took me '26 days' to cure the disease, during which I witnessed multiple cases across several species... I saved one thousand, seven hundred and fifty-seven mammals in my medical bay alone, and over a hundred million across the world with my research. But go ahead, ignore the medical drone who's got the cure to your disease and can save your life in seconds, if I'm lying then you have nothing to worry about... saves me the chemicals I'd need to save you.]
Ema then slowly turned around and made for her cart.
[Oh, by the way, according to international laws, OUR laws... threatening a medical professional while they're on duty is considered a capital offense.]
Then she rolled up into her mobile ball mode, waited as the cart attached itself to her, and then sat there. There was silence as Jeremy and his group watched the wolf officer's eye twitch and his hand and arm shake slightly, out of anger or fear they didn't know, but it was like the wolf was torn between ordering his soldiers to fire on Ema, or 'talk' to her. Eventually he shook his head and muttered to himself under his breath before turning to them.
"You're to return to the Hotel at once... no questions asked... Supreme Leader 'Shepard' will have to think very hard about your stay in our country for this 'breach of conduct' and for violating our rules."
Jeremy nodded as Gazelle and her friends headed over to the carriage, while he looked at the officer with a worried thought, knowing Ema wouldn't lie just to make this officer sweat. "Do you want my doctor to..."
"Get... lost... before I change my mind!" He growled. "She's lying... I am 'fine'... I'm healthy... I'm healthy so I don't need 'help'..."
Jeremy sighed with a sad expression, before nodding and turning to leave with Judy and Nick beside him. Together they entered the carriage, it closed up, but this time as it turned and led the way back to the hotel with Ema's medical cart and her HORSE drones following, Aelita had activated the panic mode and had raised the protective armor of the windows.
"Something tells me we're not invited to stay here tomorrow." Judy muttered, and everyone agreed.
"That was too close Jeremy..." Gazelle whispered as she held his hand. "Why did Ema have to act so rude, she nearly got us all killed..."
[Don't blame me, I acted polite compared to how EMA Delta would have.] Ema declared dully over the comms. [EMA Delta would have smacked him with a leg and called him an idiot for saying she lied about a disease they had. Delta always had Mother's aggressive tendencies.]
Jeremy looked at a holographic spider that appeared on the table to address them. "Ema... was he really infected with TPN-Genova 1?"
[Affirmative... I would have saved him... but I can't save a patient that doesn't want to be saved... you have nobody to blame Jeremy, you tried... he chose his fate... he might get lucky and die quickly...]
"But Ema... your cure, you gave it to the whole world... why would he not seek it?" Gazelle asked with a frown.
[Because they don't have it, I suspect...] She said before she vanished from the table.
So, they remained in silence for the rest of the trip to the Hotel. When they arrived, they noticed there were several military vehicles outside of the gated parking lot. Mostly jeeps, but as they rolled through, he became more worried that at some point they would be seized for some reason or another, or soldiers would be waiting for them with weapons drawn demanding he and the others exit.
"Aelita... put all drones on alert, partner up... watch every way into the lot and have some RAPTOR drones monitor our rooms round the clock until further notice." He ordered as he picked up the AI's holosphere.
Aelita nodded and began typing in mid-air to signify she was following his instructions.
Outside of the carriage they stepped out and made their way to their rooms in the hotel, mostly to pack their things just in case, and just to have something to do. But each of them went up with an escort of RAPTOR or DOG drones to keep them safe. In their room he and Gazelle sat down on the bed with Jeremy feeling tired and exhausted, despite having done very little, he felt like he'd been running a marathon.
"Are you alright Jeremy?" She asked him as she finished packing her things.
"I'm nervous Gazelle, what are we going to do?" He asked her as he sat on the bed, being watched by Aelita on the nearby counter and by a Raptor Drone.
Though he only said so 'after' Aelita gave him the thumbs up that they were safe from peeping ears and eyes.
"I don't know Jeremy... but... we've come this far, and if they do tell us to leave, we 'can't' leave... not without finding that human trapped here." She whispered to him as she sat by him. "No matter what, we can't leave without trying to find her... you said so yourself, we can't stop because of a dictator standing in our way."
He nodded as he took a very deep sigh. "You know... you and your friends... and Judy and Nick can take DOVE-1 home. I'll go alone with the drones... I'll find a way out of the capitol with only Aelita, and we'll find our own way so that you aren't threatened or..."
Before he could finish talking Gazelle leaned into him, turned his head toward hers, and smirked as she planted a kiss on his lips. She then slowly released him and hugged him, softly, which he reciprocated, and they just stayed that way, their hearts beating in unison, as if each telling the other a silent message.
After a bit Gazelle slowly pushed him to lie flat on the bed, still not releasing his lips as she moaned at his touch, softly kissing him and not letting him go until they needed to breathe. Then she pulled back and smiled with a loving look and said, "Jeremy... no matter where you go, I'm going with you... every step of the way... I told you before... no dictator, no country... 'nothing' will stop me from being with you in life, you're my 'Angel' after all, my Angel without Fur."
He chuckled at his little nickname that he'd been given by the world, "And you're my Angel with Horns."
She nodded and they shared another kiss together, another long kiss that only ended after they stayed on the bed for almost a half hour. When they got up, they noticed Aelita was lying on her front with a wide smirk as she waved her feet behind her, her chin resting on her hands and clearly asking 'Shall I turn around or are you done?'
"Sorry Aelita... I think we might have... gotten a little carried away." He apologized.
Aelita giggled as she leapt up, spun around, and hugged herself such that her hands were only visible on her shoulders, pretending to be hugging someone in front of her, before spinning around again and laughing. Gazelle just snickered as the drone told them that they had received a message for them, with the drones taking the message for Jeremy as they were not risking his security with so many 'armed mammals' nearby. Downstairs he and the group sat around the meal table while ZU-K0 and ZA-K0 made lunch.
"By order of Supreme Commander Shepard, you are hereby 'ordered' to leave the Great Democratic Republic of Northern Mothland, on account of your recent 'actions' frightening the public with your 'barbaric displays' and for 'disturbing the peace' of his citizen's daily lives. You are hereby ordered to leave tomorrow morning. You are to constrain and keep your 'mechanical bodyguards' out of sight during the journey to the airport. You will be escorted out of our airspace by military plane, any attempt to deviate your course after takeoff, will be seen as an act of war against this nation and its people and will be treated accordingly." Jeremy read out loud. "That settles that then."
"So how are we going to slip out of the city without them tailing us?" Judy asked quietly.
"Not giving us many options." Nick muttered.
Jeremy took a drink of warm water while he read the statement over and over again, trying to find a loophole. Even as Lunch was served by the drones, he continued to read it, knowing that he was going to be breaking those conditions somehow.
"Drone... are we being watched?" He asked quietly as he glanced down to his left, where a FOX drone sat, monitoring the area with the others.
The FOX drone nodded.
"Can they hear us?"
[Negative.] It replied in a hushed tone.
[You may converse among yourseeeee BZZZZT trrrssshshhhhh beeeer LALALALLA dey may have da hulk but we got da armie downstaaairs on lockdown!] PT-173 said in a broken undertone, and then stated, [I'll be back...] before going to recharge.
Ignoring PT-173's random and degrading AI outburst, he turned to the cooking Spider Drones. "Alright... ZU-K0, ZA-K0, how long will our food last us?"
The Spider Drones were laying out their dishes when they responded, [Unit Jeremy, we have enough supplies to last us two weeks... that banquet we prepared for 'Shepard and his ilk' drained our reserves more than previously anticipated.]
[We can prepare less elaborate meals to lengthen our reserves if you so order, unfortunately we didn't bring the means to produce 'Standard Nutritional Supplements', otherwise we'd be able to extend them to over a year!]
He nodded and looked at Aelita sitting in his lap, "I was hoping we wouldn't need to use that extreme method of extending our food. Aelita... how long would it take us to reach the mountains where the signal is most likely located and broadcasting from, if we were forced to move slowly and under cover, avoiding as many roads as possible and patrols that Shepard would order... including a new vehicle requiring us to adjust how many of the HORSE drones can pull each cart."
The AI was already doing these calculations in her holosphere as he talked, using a calculator in one hand while punching buttons using her thumb, with a blackboard behind her she was bending forward to write on with her foot, and holding a PDA under her chin and typing with her other hand. After a few minutes she spun around, and all the items vanished, and she held up 3 fingers with one hand, four on the other, and shook her head with a worried look.
"Three or four weeks... and of course if we called for help, such as a drop of food, we'd give away our location and they'd be all over us in a few days, and we'll need to either divert our course or lead them right to her."
She nodded in agreement.
"It would be difficult, if we want to remain incognito and under the radar... almost impossible if Shepard finds out the truth, once he does... he has all the legal reasons to declare us enemies breaking the law..."
"Not a good image indeed all things considered, breaking a law in Zootopia is one thing, but international law? No Government will be able to protect you from that if they catch you. Only your drones will be able to save you." Judy said.
He nodded, already knowing that's the worst-case scenario. "Not enough food supplies to make the trip, if it were just me, I could make the trip with just the drones, but..." He said more to himself than to the others.
"But I'm not going to leave you alone out here Jeremy." Gazelle declared with a stern nod while crossing her arms. "I made you a promise and I never go back on my word."
"Well, 'we're' not abandoning you, everymammal in Zootopia is expecting us to keep you safe out here Jeremy and bring you back home." Judy said with a proud smile.
"Yea... after all we've been through, can't get rid of us that easily human." Nick also said with a smirk.
He smiled a little, hearing their resolve to help him reach the last human and find out what became of them, or even save them if they 'somehow' were still alive. But if they all went, they would be low on food, and they would have to take some drastic measures to resupply, maybe even risk a transmission to call for a resupply drop from Eden Facility 17. Meanwhile he noticed that Donny, Franky, Moe and Joe were talking amongst themselves quietly, all of them looking at one another and nodding in agreement.
"Well... we know you want to go... and me and my bros were talking together." Moe said with a smile. "And we all agreed that it might be for the best if we go home, so that your supplies last longer."
"But... Donny, Moe... Franky, Joe..." Gazelle said in surprise. "I... I thought you'd..."
"We know, but... let's face it, we wouldn't be of much help out there to you guys, yea we're good at keeping fans and paparazzi away from your home, and maybe fighting the occasional speciest mammal in a rumble outside a movie theatre but... we'd only drain your resources by sticking around." Joe said.
"Yea, Judy and Nick are cops... we're just backup dancers... and Jeremy needs you a lot more then he needs us." Donny continued.
"So... it's for the best that we head home." Franky concluded with a sad smile.
Jeremy was a little sad to hear that, the four tiger brothers were very good friends to him, they were among the first mammals to treat him 'nicely' with Gazelle when he first woke up. The four of them were always there to support him and help him out whenever he needed them. They were the most supportive of him and Gazelle getting together, they were so protective of the two of them that they got into a brawl to protect him from harm. Hearing they'd be leaving him, and the others was... disheartening. It may have made sense with their words, but... he still was hoping to have them there. It just... didn't feel right to not have them there.
"But... guys... I..." Jeremy started saying, but Donny scooched his seat closer and shook his shoulder with a smile.
"I know... but it's for the best..." He whispered. "Just... promise us this Jeremy... take good care of Gazelle, she's our best friend... we wouldn't have had a chance in life without her help."
Jeremy nodded and smiled in understanding. "I will you guys, I won't let anything bad happen to her."
"And I won't let anything bad happen to him." Gazelle also said with a sad smile.
As Jeremy sighed as he let the knowledge of Donny and his brothers leaving, he looked to his friends and Aelita, as well as a few drones that were monitoring them and listening in on the conversation to relay information to the other drones. "Alright... well... in that case, I have a plan."
"Are we all set?" Jeremy asked as they all packed their belongings into the carriage.
"Yep, let's go!" Gazelle said cheerfully as she and the others began climbing into the carriage.
"Alright then, everyone, move out!"
With that the carriage doors closed, and the convoy began to move out. The RAPTOR drones had all packed themselves up and were keeping themselves hidden inside their storage cart, several large tarps covering up the drones that were packed tightly to keep them out of sight from public eyes. The only drones that were visible were the HORSE drones which dragged the convoy carts out of the hotel parking lot, past the various military soldiers watching them, and onto the main street.
All eyes were on the convoy, cameras and soldiers watching the vehicles as they made their way through the street. Any civilians in the city that might have been walking down the road or might have observed the convoy were told to stay off this particular day. But that did not stop those soldiers who were able to observe the convoy and the futuristic weapons and machines parade, silently, on their way out of the city.
On the roof of one building a sniper was watching as the five cars, or carts, or whatever they were being dragged by the mechanical things on four legs moved, silently and purposefully. He kept his weapon trained on the main vehicle, the forward most one, prepared to fire and kill whoever was in there in case they became hostile.
"Any signs?" His partner asked.
"Nothing yet... they are still on schedule."
They all continued watching, almost the entire unit in the city were watching this convoy to ensure 'nothing' happened. There were patrols on every stretch of road, heavy armor infantry stationed in buildings ready to leap out and fire, machine guns in second story buildings, they had even seen a group of five troop transport jeeps stationed near the airport to make sure they didn't try anything.
"They're turning the corner..."
The convoy turned the corner of the street, heading toward the Airport, about ten minutes away at their pace... but then the forward most vehicle paused resulting in the 'rest' of the convoy slowing down.
"Hold on something's going on!"
"Report unit Twelve, what's happening on your end?!"
[There's a car crossing the street, looks like it belongs to a civilian.]
Over at the corner building soldiers were suddnely paying attention as the car that had been 'about' to cross the street, reversed and began driving back the direction it came from apparently, heading south while the convoy resumed heading east toward the airport.
Multiple units were ordered to follow that car and track where it's going as that was 'NOT' supposed to happen, that wasn't a scheduled drive, and all the cars were registered to specific individuals. Meanwhile, other units were ordered to continue monitoring the convoy as it continued its way toward the airport. Not once did anyone lose sight of it.
Tracking the five vehicles were the many cameras at every corner, on streetlamp, on the roofs of every center building, even cameras positioned inside bushes to monitor them from every possible and conceivable angle.
"How far away are they?" An officer asked as he monitored the cameras with his lieutenant and privates.
"One minute away, they're just about to arrive."
He watched the main convoy slowly starting to pull into the street, and just as they started to turn onto the right side of the street, the convoy of troop transport jeeps began to move out. The five transports pulled out, crisscrossing through the human's convoy vehicles, forcing each one to stop to let them out.
But... just as the first transport pushed past, electing a little snicker as he could imagine the 'frustration' at being delayed eating away at the human and his party, before a strange 'ripple' occurred on the viewing screen.
"What... what was that?" He demanded as the ripple only lasted while the vehicles passed one another.
Once they passed on, it ended.
"Unkown, must be a glitch in the camera, that one has been acting up recently, we put in a notice that we need to replace it last month."
"Hrmmm..." He growled as the second vehicle started, before the ripples returned.
Then the third transport moved, stopping the third metal cart from advancing, and again, the camera began to act up. It was then as the fourth began to move, when the camera finally 'died' and only showed static.
"Get me picture, I want eyes on that convoy now, what's going on!?" He yelled as his subordinates began panicking and trying to change camera angles.
"The convoy's still there, no change in action, the last transport is moving out and starting to head out according to field soldiers."
The camera switched back on, but from another angle as they changed which camera they were viewing through. After a few moments the human and his party began to exit, four of them dragging all of their belongings, pulling eight rolling bags with their hands and idly chatting as they made their way into the airport.
"So far so good... what's the word on that civilian car?"
"It's registered to a Mr. Samsonara, head of a cosmetics firm... it seems he's heading south... along Former Great Leader Wolton's Lane. I'm also getting reports that the transport jeeps seem to be moving out, two heading east, one north, and the last two west, probably to pick up our people and return to base." A private said idly.
"Forget the transports, where is that car going, I want eyes on it now!"
"Camera sixty has it..."
He snarled as he paced, eyes fixed on the screen, knowing he wouldn't rest until this day was over. Not until that human was in the air and their air force was watching them instead of them.
"Bring up the airport, where is that human and his party now, and what are the convoy vehicles doing?" He demanded.
On another monitor they watched as the group was passing through security, the human and his whore laughing as the Tigers opened their bags and showed everything was in order, even showing a bag of dirty, smelly clothes, resulting in security scrunching his face and waving them past. Then one of the Tigers tripped on a bag's handle and accidentally knocked into the guard, quickly calming everyone down as it was an accident, and allowing them all to get up and move on their way. As for the convoy, as the gates were opened to let them in, the vehicles quickly made their way to the large plane which opened its rear door and allowed them to begin boarding.
"We got activity!" Another private yelled.
Eyes snapped over to the monitor showing the civilian vehicle, where it slowed down for a moment as a patrol waved them down to stop, and then leapt back as it suddenly burst off and began 'fleeing' down the road.
"He's trying to run!"
"After them, I want that Cosmetics Head now!"
The human was all but forgotten as hundreds of soldiers began to race after and try to cut off the vehicle, which swerved and raced, trying to get away even as the soldiers began shooting at it and missing. He kept glancing between the human group and the vehicle, trying to make sure everything was properly situated.
"He's turning down Great Arbiter's Road, heading toward the Southern Exit!"
"He's trying to flee the capitol; I want his head on a platter!" He roared. "Shut down the southern road, block off all exits now."
As they watched the chase happening, he finally took his eyes off the human when the plane began to take off. It was obvious they were not staying, and this was obviously more important now that it wasn't his problem to deal with the human and his machines. Soldiers began to roll out roadblocks and began taking up positions blocking the access to the southern exit to the city. When the Cosmetic's Head began to turn down a road toward the exit and saw the roadblocks, he swerved, panicked, and screeched into an alley, leaving behind a faint dust trail. His team began issuing new orders and starting to corner the escapee, prepared to shoot him down when he left the alley.
But... he never left it.
"I'm getting a report, apparently he... entered a back-alley garage!"
"Yes... soldiers are running down the alley, unit six-seven is reporting... okay yes, they have confirmation of the vehicle in the garage. They say the garage door closed on them as they approached, but they confirm it's there... checking residential details." There was silence as the soldier waited for more details before reporting, "Confirmed, it is Mr. Samsonara's place of residence... it seems he's trying to hide inside his home!"
"Open that door, I want confirmation that he's in there! Check the vehicle, make sure nomammal's hiding in it!"
"Unit Six-seven proceed, you have permission to-"
"Uh sir, East, West and North exits are asking confirmation of several approaching troop transports to pas-"
"Tell them let them through, this is more important!" He yelled, and the poor private coward in fear as he nodded and relayed the order.
Minutes passed and eventually they began hearing words from the unit. "Sir, our field unit says that the vehicle is still very warm, it was recently being used... but there's no sign of Mr. Samonara in the building..."
"Search the building, search the neighboring buildings, I want to know where he is 'now'!"
"Sir... intel report, apparently... yes, we have Mr. Samonara in custody... he's... over sixteen blocks away from his residence."
"What?" He demanded. "How could he move that fast?!"
"Apparently, he was 'walking' to his workplace today to save on gas for his car..."
He began to think about what he was just told, if that was true, there was 'no way' that mammal could have made it that far in so little time. That mammal was over 'sixty' years old and in less than poor health, there was no way he'd move that fast. Which means... somemammal stole his car and tried to make a run for it. That had to be the only excuse.
"Search every building in that block, I want a quarantine in that place, check every mammal, every room, every fucking 'trash can'. Whoever stole that car and tried to use it to run must be in the area!"
Meanwhile, while all eyes were on the incident involving the civilian car, DOVE-1 had been cleared for takeoff, and was now beginning to leave the capitol city's airspace.
He belted up as DOVE-1 told them they were about to pick up speed, and he took the chance to lean over and look out the window at the last sight of the city, staring at a single solitary transport vehicle rolling down a paved road out the North side of the city.
He and his brothers, after he told them what was just in visual range, all looked out... and each said a silent prayer for the four not there in DOVE-1.
"Be safe guys... and Jeremy... please... keep her safe, the world can't lose even 'one' of Zootopia's angels, let alone both."
Down on the ground, Jeremy looked out the window as DOVE-1 flew off heading toward Zootopia, both HARRIER-1 and 2 escorting it while his carriage and the HORSE drones moved on alone, out of the city and into the countryside.
"Wish us luck guys..." He muttered as Gazelle, Judy and Nick bid a silent farewell to their last means of escaping Northern Mothland.
"Ganna miss that bathroom most." Nick muttered as DOVE-1 flew out of sight.
He nodded as he took a deep breath, before loudly declaring. "All drones, synchronize your positions and proceed to the rendezvous point. Escort RAPTOR and DOG drones, protect your charges and maintain stealth mode until we regroup. FOX drones begin concealment and maintain covert operations until further notice. FOX drones in the city proceed out and move to the rendezvous point. All units avoid contact with civilians and especially military mammals and facilities at all costs until we regroup."
[As you command!] Various drones signaled.
[Proceeding to rendzvous poi-bzzzzz trrrreeee BRrrbrbrb VALALLALALALA NOBODY MOVE I dropped me brain!] PT-173 declared over the comms.
[Great... I get the broken drone in 'my' escort group...] Ema said dully.
He took a deep sigh as he leaned back into his seat while on top of the roof a FOX sat casting the illusion of a troop transport jeep similar to what had been stationed outside their hotel.
While the carriage lumbered on... observing it from the shadow of a tree, hidden in a bush, unseen by all... a pair of eyes watched, the light glinting off of them creating a yellowish gold reflection... staring, tracking... before it slinked backward.
First I want to apologise to everyone who waited so long, I deeply apologize, but... I will be honest, it is becoming harder and harder to write. For the last 5 months if not 'longer' I have been struggling to write 'anything'. I would sit down some days, try to write, and just lose all motivation before writing even a 'word'. Sometimes I'd write and I would feel so unsatisfied that I'd delete everything because it was so bad and I didn't like it, knowing you who read what I write deserve only my best.
If you noticed I would be writing more romance stories for my Pokemon lemon fic collection, mostly because I'm trying to keep positive and writing positive happy romance stories between couples or multiple partners gives me some cheer, but... I basically was writing a lemon and the story was going so bad that 4k words in I just hated it...
So yea, that's why I'm so late, why I was so absent... I'm not 'dead'... just struggling, please be patient... and I need to write for my other stories, hope you enjoy, read away, review away, and give me honest opinions on if you like or dislike what I write~!
I appreciate all criticism.