The Vanishing of Vincent Anderson
rating: +56+x

Vincent Anderson sat motionless in his containment cell at Site-19, his attention focused on the alarm klaxons in the distance. While such sounds were not uncommon, the current alert had been initiated nearly three hours prior. Something was awry.

Anderson sighed, and then his mechanical eyes snapped to the door, which opened with a dull hiss. Three dark figures in battle scarred tactical gear stepped into the cell. Each wore a featureless silver mask. The leader pulled up its mask to reveal white PMMA eyes and a black aramid fiber skin.

"Peregrines 92, 46, and 34." Anderson looked over his guests with vague curiosity. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"We're certainly not here for a social visit, Mr. Anderson." PSHUD #92 voice was sharp and androgynous. "You will come with us, now. Timing is limited."

The old cyborg shook his head.

"Certainly the Hand has more valuable things for you to steal from the Foundation than a broken old man. Save yourselves, and let me die here in peace. I fought, and I lost, and now you're just wasting your time."

"You self-absorbed son of a bitch. We're not here for your sake," PSHUD #34 shot back. Its voice was deep and feminine. It drew its hip-holstered pistol with a fluid motion. Anderson attempted to stand, but was soon plastered with three tiny orbs of blue electricity. The old cyborg went into violent convulsions, a look of surprise frozen on his face. PSHUD #34 gave a nod, and PSHUD #92 picked Anderson up and slung him over its shoulder.

"Get back to the Way," PSHUD #34 said quietly.

As the three droids stepped into the hallway, the sound of yelling coming from down the hall filled their auditory sensors.

"The hostiles are in High Sec!"

Bullets filled the air. The droids lunged into Anderson's open cell, taking cover. PSHUD #46 pulled a machine gun from off its shoulder, and flipped off the safety.

"I estimate I can stall them for maybe 10 minutes." PSHUD's voice was that of a young man, eager and determined. "They will get through though. So be quick, and loop around to the elevator we discussed in planning the operation."

PSHUD #34 nodded.

"WAN be with you."

"And with you as well. See you in the Forest."

PSHUD #46 let out a low hum, and mounted its weapon on its shoulder. Letting out controlled burst after controlled burst, it walked into the oncoming fire, slowly accumulating damage as its two compatriots escaped down the hallway.

When it ran out of ammunition, they shot its legs out from under it. PSHUD #46 hit the ground with a dull thud.

Even for veteran Foundation personnel operating under calm conditions, Site-19's labyrinthine interior proved difficult to navigate. For two androids on the run from multiple task forces, the act was near Herculean.

Stairwells into hallways.

Hallways into elevator shafts.

Elevator shafts into maintenance tunnels.

PSHUD #92 and #34 hauled Vincent Anderson's paralyzed body closer and closer to their awaiting Way, their mechanical joints squeaking as they sprinted at top speed. Occasionally, a loose bullet from their pursuers would embed itself in a nearby wall.

"We're coming in hot!" PSHUD #34 shouted into a walkie talkie. "Get ready to seal the Way behind us!"

"Copy that," a hoarse whisper replied. "You have three minutes. All other teams are pulling out. Can't wait to see your haul."

PSHUD #92 gave a relieved laugh.

"We're going to make it."

"Sure as hell looks like it! Only a little…" PSHUD #34 replied.

As the droids turned the corner, they were greeted by a stream of gunfire. An awaiting security team had cut them off; the cover of a nearby doorway provided the only defense from the incoming bullets.

"WAN damn it!" PSHUD #34 shouted as it peered out of cover. They were pinned.

"Can he hear us, still?" PSHUD #92 gestured to Anderson.

"Well yeah," PSHUD #34 snapped back, "He's paralyzed, not fucking deaf. Is that really important right now?"

PSHUD #92 pressed the cyborg into #34's arms. #92 lifted Anderson's chin and looked him in the eyes.

"Earn this, you prick."

It then took off, sprinting at full speed toward the blockade. The Foundation personnel made short work of the droid; its legs crumpled and shattered, leaving its momentum to carry it to their feet.

The security team surrounded PSHUD #92, disarming it. The droid lifted both its fists and extended its middle fingers.

"Contain this."

The explosion shook the whole facility.

PSHUD #34 looked on in shock.

"Bomber module…" it said lowly. "See you in the Forest, #92…"

A bullet landing in nearby wall shook PSHUD #34 from its stupor. The lone droid shifted Anderson onto its shoulder, and took off down the hall.

Turning the corner, it managed to slip through an out of place cobweb filled tunnel that slowly fizzled out of existence. When the security agents arrived, they found only a blank wall.

PSHUD #46 struggled against its restraints. It had been relocated to an examination table within a containment cell shortly after its capture. Despite the futility of its actions over the last hour, it still continued to strain. What else was there to do?

The sound of the cell door opening gave the droid pause, its head turning to see three agents enter, each wearing a sigil depicting three arrows descending upon a falcon. The lead agent approached the table. She was young, tall, and pale, with long brunette hair that she wore back in a ponytail.

"I take it you know who I am," the agent said.

"The angel of death herself. How many have you sent to the Forest this month?"

"Ideally less than I did the month before," she replied. "Where did you send Anderson?"

PSHUD #46 shifted its eyes to stare at the ceiling.

The agent rolled her eyes.

"We don't have time for this song and dance. You should know by now I can extract the information from your memory directly. All you are doing is dying for your pride."

The droid twisted its hand around and extended a middle finger.

"So be it. Zeke?"

The agent held out her hand, as one of her fellows pressed a pen shaped device into it. Upon pressing a button at its tip, a thick needle extended from its base. She then jabbed the device directly into the droid's forehead.

PSHUD #46 gave a high-pitched squeal, its body convulsing for several moments before it became still. An indicator light on the device began to glow green. The agent gingerly removed it, and clicked the button again. She examined the results carefully.

"Orders, Jessie?"

The agent broke from her thoughts and turned to her colleagues.

"I want this analyzed by the AIAD as soon as possible. Once we know where Anderson is we can get back to Site-64 and assemble the troops. We'll file the AARs on the flight back."

She handed the device over. Her colleagues scrambled to accomplish their new directives.

"And someone notify Director Merlo," the agent called out. Her voice became low as she was left alone with the droid's remains. "Mom's going to want to handle this personally."

Upon the Oregon Coast, a man and a woman sat within the confines of their cottage, curled together upon a coach beneath the warm layers of a large quilt. Both gripped mugs of tea as their eyes looked through their glass patio door towards the distant storms upon the horizon. A silent mist fell, carried along by a gentle breeze.

The woman yawned and rested her head on her husband's shoulder. He gave her a friendly smile, brushing a lock of gray-streaked brunette hair out of her eyes as his hand then ran along the back of her head. She smiled in return, and felt herself begin to drift into a comfortable and warm sleep.


The sound of a cell phone rang out, immediately tearing the peace away from the moment. The woman gave her husband an apologetic smile. In return he gave an understanding nod. With a sigh, she stood and went to answer the call.

"Go for Merlo."

"I see…"

"I'll be there as soon as possible."

Director Sasha Merlo hung up the phone and sighed once more.

"Another call to save the world?" Gabe Merlo asked with a small chuckle.

"He's escaped," Sasha replied. Gabe's smile vanished.

"I understand."

"I'll make it up to you when I get back." Sasha was already grabbing her coat and keys.

"Give him hell." Gabe saw her to the door. When he opened it, a three-man team of security personnel were waiting. He stepped aside.

"I'll be here when you get back."

Sasha gave him a nod and a sad smile.

"I love you." She was soon being escorted back to Site-64, her long-awaited vacation cut short.

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