Excerpt from "Vigilance Squared"
by: Tyrone Vincent Banks
The End of an Era
Tariq docked the VAN against the side of his house and engaged the magnetic brake. The side of the house shifted open and the corridor was established. The three of them marched down the corridor. Justin stomped loudly; thoroughly entertained by the metallic thunder he created as the corridor swayed under the weight of his stomping boots. They reached the door and underwent their DNA scan before being allowed access.
As they entered the living room, Sali relaxed on the couch, pretending to be asleep. Tariq motioned for the kids to quiet down and head for the backyard. After they left the room, Tariq tiptoed off to the kitchen. Just as he thought about how "smooth" he was, he felt a vice like arm close around his neck and pull him backwards. Just as he planned some type of evasive maneuver, he felt a soft kiss on his cheek.
"Sali! I almost flipped you over my shoulder and did some karate type stuff to you!"
She replied; "Yeah right!" as she lowered him to the floor and swung around to sit on his full - and big - stomach. Tariq noticed that she was wearing that Lycra jumpsuit. It did things to him and made him want to do things to her. He found himself wanting her now, in spite of the fact that the kids were not that far away. Just as he planned the next step in this encounter, she stopped abruptly, stood up and walked away.
Tariq called out: “Where are you going? I thought that we were…you know…"
He watched her walk away, transfixed by the shape of her perfect body enveloped by the outfit that always made him weak in his knees. He stared at her as she walked to the Video Chip collection and just had to bend over to retrieve a Chip on the lowest shelf. Like a raging bull charging at a red muleta focusing on its objective, Tariq could not help himself. As he was inches away from his objective, Sali stood and outstretched her right hand and questioned: "Excuse me?"
Tariq knew that nothing was going to happen and tried to divert his thoughts elsewhere.
Sali announced: "That was for lying to me."
She grabbed Tariq and pulled him close and kissed him softly. He looked deeply into her eyes and her lips moved slowly towards his. Just as Tariq was certain that he had seduced her…the kids bounded in and ran over to hug their beautiful mom. Tariq excused himself so that he could make some “adjustments".
He called from the kitchen; “Did you have dinner yet?" as he retrieved a hot cup of Decaf from the NUREP. Tariq exited the kitchen slowly, trying to sip the coffee from the soft, spongy cup without spilling it. As he approached the couch, he called out: "I don't know, but this coffee doesn’t taste right. I may have to call…"
Sali interrupted, "Tariq, you are not going to call the NUREP tech line again and file a false complaint. You know that the coffee is fine!"
“Five thousand bucks…"
Sali and the children joined Tariq at the couch. Every night at 6:00 they watched the news together. The four lenses flickered to life as the holographic news reporter began his broadcast.
"Good evening and welcome to the six o'clock news. I'm Bob. Tonight we have startling new evidence that the S.C.A.R. group has planned a series of global attacks in unison as a show of force. Ann is here to elaborate on this breaking news story"
The cyber anchor was joined by his co-anchor as she giggled briefly off screen before beginning her broadcast. The camera closed in and a small screen appeared over Ann's right shoulder. They were playing the recording of SCAR's failed hijack attempt that took place last week.
"Good evening! The Global Assault Team has obtained a low-quality DVD from SCAR announcing their newest scheme."
The small screen over her shoulder went black and when it came back on, a SCAR operative in paramilitary gear began to read from what was obviously a prepared statement. He wore an old Earth style stocking over his face to hide his identity; the stocking made it very difficult for him to open his eyes. He had to hold the paper about an arm's length away and tilt his head up at a bizarre angle to read the prepared statement.
“Um…at six o'clock on September 11, 2014, SCAR will…um...be unleashing our new weapon…all over the world! Thank you! Ahh, is the camera off now? This thing is hurting my eyes."
He proceeded to pull off his mask before the transmission had ended, revealing his face to the world for about 30 seconds as he tried to put the stocking over his face again. Only to have it rip down the middle and become useless. The image went black but the audio was still on as the mystery man shouted out "Oh man! Whose idea was it to wear this stupid thing?"
The audio stopped and Ann laughed almost uncontrollably. It was hard to believe that she was a computer-generated image controlled by a computer, just like her co-anchor.
Bob continued the broadcast after looking first at his cell.
"Well, its six o'clock and I'm still here! Boy those guys are a riot!
This just in, we have footage from an actual SCAR event. Bruce?"
The camera flickered and the image of the third cyber anchor appeared.
"Good evening folks…"
Tariq liked this reporter. He was the only one with a "personality". Even if it was replicated on a computer.
"…This is Bruce. You've probably viewed the footage sent in by SCAR moments ago and I can assure you that the Global Assault Team has it under control. The military utilized the image of the company logo that appeared on the mystery man's written statement. The logo belongs to a company called Cybet Corporation. This company has locations throughout the world and many holdings in the United States. Let's watch the GAT in action!"
A squad of GAT Rangers converged on several Cybet locations in unison as the screen split into seven smaller screens. Tear gas canisters and magfield units were launched into each building, in unison. The magfield devices jammed all weapons and scrambled all electronics into useless particles. The ensuing tear gas canisters caused the occupants of each building to pour out into to parking lots with their hands raised above their heads in surrender.
The GAT Rangers stormed in with their weapons set to stun and searched for any remaining hostile occupants. The buildings were evacuated and destroyed in moments.
The GAT Rangers toasted their success with bottles of water and laughed at the defeated SCAR operatives.
Out of the groups of SCAR POWs a group of 20 enemy soldiers materialized and began to fire their weapons at the group. The GAT fired their UV Scatter Cannons at the enemy in unison, adjusting the light spectrum after each discharge dissolved into their opponents' bodies with no effect. The return fire was that of typical lead projectile weapons, which were obsolete since the previous decade.
The bullets penetrated the UV resistant flak jackets and equipment worn by GAT and they were forced to retreat briefly before readjusting their vests to withstand traditional gunfire. Once this was done, the Scatter Cannons were reconfigured as lead projectile weapons and they charged at their opponents. The GAT cut through the attackers with ease and they were soon engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Watching the SCAR Operatives being beaten by the GAT had become a nightly routine lately. It was like watching a cartoon or television series where the heroes always prevailed. No one knew that the battle was about to shift in the favor of SCAR.
The scenes on the small picture-in-picture screens erupted into chaos as skirmishes took place on each of the seven continents at the smoldering scenes that were once the sites for the Cybet Corporation's international presence.
Large canisters were dropped from the sky as a thick grayish gas was emitted from each of the broken capsules. The gray cloud covered the scene and each camera displayed a steel gray appearance. When the smoke cleared, the GAT Rangers cowered in fear with their weapons and various pieces of clothing discarded in piles. The remaining resistance collected the discarded weapons and even walked up to the GAT Rangers and began taking their gear. The Rangers did not even try to fight back. Their opponents had grown so confident that they even laid their own weapons down. Some were even seen trying to give the half-naked Rangers their weapons and laughing at their apparent lack of interest. The most crushing scene was that of an enemy soldier giving a GAT Ranger a Scatter Cannon and even showing him how to use it. The soldier tried to fire the weapon himself but was afraid of the loud sound that came out. He dropped the Scatter Cannon and curled up next to his VAN in the fetal position.
The enemy soldiers gathered up all of the remaining weapons and began to dematerialize.
The last of the conquering warriors looked into the camera, extended his pinky – a popular gesture since the middle finger salute was banned in 2010 - and shouted out:
"Don't mess with SCAR!" and disappeared.
The image of Bruce filled one single screen.
He was not laughing.
He stated; "Back to you Bob."
At that very moment Tariq's cell began to beep. He did not recognize this beep but he felt that he had to answer it right away. The normal holographic image did not appear; he had to place the cell to his ear, just like he had to do over a decade ago.
A familiar voice replied, in almost a whisper; "T, this is Steele, vigilance squared."
With that, the call ended abruptly.
Sali asked, "Tariq, who was that?"
Tariq replied, "It was work, I have to go in early tonight."
His voice was to the point but somewhat mechanical and unsure. Sali did not pick up on this deception at first and dismissed this response as a product of the apparent shock the disturbing news footage had created. Tariq walked over to the transport platform and was elevated into his bedroom. He took off his shirt and hurled it towards the hamper. He unbuttoned his pants and removed them. He walked slowly to the bathroom mirror wearing nothing but his boxers and concentrated on his reflection for a moment. Tariq wasn't feeling like himself and that meant that he felt better than he usually was. He grabbed his light razor and began to shear away the stubble on his face and head. He stood there for a moment with the device pressed against the left side of his face. It slowly began to eat away at his skin, but he felt nothing.
"Do you want me to help you with that?"
Sali's voice startled him and he turned quickly to see her standing at the transport platform. In doing so, he gashed his face causing a 3-inch long laceration. He watched the blood pour from the wound for a moment. It went from a bright red to a shiny mercury color. Sali was by his side, tugging on his boxers. Tariq looked at his wound again, but it was gone. He would have pondered this further but when Sali began to push him towards and then onto the bed. He had forgotten this strange occurrence and he did not notice that his light razor dematerialized as he was distracted.
He slid up to his pillow as Sali pulled off his boxers and continued to kiss Tariq aggressively. At that moment he realized that nothing else mattered except for this experience. The pleasure that he felt created pure bliss, but memories were awakening at this very moment.
Memories that would have to save the World…