Chapter 8:


ASA Genesis

The vibration of ASA’s voice inside my head was so great that it made me dizzy. As I fell to my knees, my hands gripping the sides of my head, I felt a whoosh of air blast past me as ASA leapt forward fifty yards in a display of agility that defied its OMNI construction. Now watching, the vibration in my head subsiding, I witnessed ASA, airborne, take aim at a nearby OMNI police unit squad. As ASA’s fist fell, targeting a single police unit, it landed so forcefully that the police unit was severed in half.

The OMNI police unit’s rifle went skidding through the dirt. ASA snatched the rifle, right as the five remaining OMNI police squad units entered their defensive stances, threatening to fire upon ASA. But before any of them could pull the trigger, ASA deftly shot each to pieces before I had time to blink.

Now picking up a second rifle to hold one in each hand, I heard ASA’s voice speak inside my head. “My sensors have located a transport nearby!” ASA said. “I will get us to Kamikoshi City.”

Hesitating, I stared in awe at the destruction ASA had caused. Sirens had begun to blare, echoing across the expanse of Sector One. “What the hell are you doing, ASA?!” I exclaimed. “How are you doing this?”

“There is no time for questions,” said ASA. “We must hurry if we are to survive.”

Realizing I cared more about escaping the Pits than ASA’s sudden enhanced combat skills, I hurried down to ASA’s side. More OMNI police units now arrived. I counted ten altogether, ten armed robots with only one programmed function: to subdue or eliminate threats. ASA and I were undoubtedly the latter.

“Drop the weapons!” one of the OMNI police unit’s demanded. “You are surrounded!”

I stood as close to ASA as I could, like a shy young child would cling to their parent. As the OMNI police units had surrounded us, I had no idea how ASA would get us out of this alive. How did we even get here in the first place?

“I’m going to apply suppressing fire against both police squads,” ASA explained. “There is a crane nearby, approximately twenty-five yards behind me. I will cause it to fall. That should take out the squad nearest. As for this squad facing us, these weapons will suffice. By my estimation they hold adequate ammunition.”

“This is insane!” I exclaimed. “What the hell were you thinking?”

“Drop the weapons now!” the OMNI police unit repeated. All ten were stepping closer, boxing us in.

In one fluid movement, ASA pointed each rifle at both squads and opened fire. The OMNI police units scattered as they too opened fire. Crouching low to the dusty ground, I covered my head, hoping that somehow I would be spared.

A loud screeching noise joined the sound of gunfire. Looking up, I saw the crane ASA had mentioned tremble and then shoot a shower of white sparks. The crane then fell with a groan and the sound of metal twisting, crushing the nearest police units. A cloud of dust blew past me, and I coughed as I covered my face again.

The continuing sound of gunfire and empty shells bouncing off my back gave me cause to peak through my hands to see what ASA was looking at, only to find that ASA had managed to defeat the last of the remaining police units. Now finding it safe to stand, I gazed at the fragments of the former police units that lay strewn across the ground, dust and smoke still rising around us as it would on a wartime battlefield.

I looked at ASA to see that there were several bullet holes scattered across the android’s OMNI unit body. “Are you okay?” I asked, inspecting a few of the holes. None of them seemed to have penetrated deep, thanks to the Kenji Model-9’s rigid construction, designed for the tough manual labor of the Pits.

“I am,” said ASA. “But my power is low. We must get to the transport before I am forced to power down.”

ASA was right. I had forgotten that when I had brought ASA back to life, ASA had initiated its low power mode. Remembering this left me shocked, for ASA had been in low power mode this entire time and had managed to fight, executing quick maneuvers.

The sirens still blared. “Come on then,” I said. “We can’t just stand here.”

As ASA and I made our way in the direction of the common area, I heard the rumble of a transport approaching from the air above. Looking up, I instantly recognized it as the one thing that could stop us from escaping.

It was an OMNI military transport, manned by an OMNI military squad.

Even after the dissolution of nations in the late 2090s, Japan had maintained its Self-Defense Forces. The Kenji Model military unit was created by Kazama Corporation to assist the Self-Defense Forces, but quickly grew to become separate. This had caused friction between the governing body of Kamikoshi City and Kazama Corporation, but this difference of views was ended suspiciously.

These OMNI military units were programmed in all types of terrestrial combat. For them to show up here in response to what ASA had done, I knew that Kazama Corporation would soon learn that it was I who was behind this. There was also the fact that ASA was in no shape to fight combat-class OMNI units of this caliber.

The military transport hovered overhead, stirring up dust on the ground. Looking up, I saw two of the OMNI military units held sniper rifles aimed.

A military unit leaned out of the transport and looked down at ASA and I. “Drop your weapons and surrender now, or we will kill you!” it shouted, its voice booming.

I looked at ASA for direction. “What now?” I said angrily. “We don’t have a chance.”

“Take this,” said ASA, handing me one of the police rifles.

“What?” I said. “I’ve never held a gun in my life! And shouldn’t we be surrendering right now?”

“No,” said ASA. “When I say, open fire on the transport. I will deal with them.”

“What happened to you?!” I exclaimed. “This is stupid! They’re locked onto us right now, if you didn’t notice. Snipers! If we don’t do what they say we’re dead!”

“You are too excitable,” said ASA. “Just follow my directions and we will live.”

I’m excitable?” I said, exasperated.

The military unit above began to shout again. “Surrender!” it said. “You have ten seconds! We will kill you!”

“Are you ready?” ASA asked.

“Ready to die? No,” I said. “But I guess I have no choice.”

“Open fire now!” said ASA, who now crouched low to the ground.

As fast as I could, I took aim at the transport. As I pulled the trigger, the snipers recoiled from the spray of bullets. ASA now shot up into the air, its fist held straight, to punch through one of the transport engines which now exploded, causing the transport to bank to the left.

ASA was now on top of the transport, which had begun to spin, its damaged engine sputtering and flaming. ASA now leapt into the transport and opened fire upon the OMNI military units inside, one by one each of them falling from the transport and onto the ground, broken. Then, I watched as ASA jumped from the transport, spinning to land like a cat on both feet in front of me as the transport spun down into the ground behind where it erupted in a great plume of red fire and smoke.

I stood unmoving, dazed at what I had just witnessed. I looked at ASA who now stood to face me. “How are you doing all of this?” I asked. “I need to know.”

“You are persistent,” said ASA. “I told you that there is no time. I will explain once we get to Kamikoshi City. I expect another military transport soon.”

As ASA turned to leave, I shouted, “No! ASA! What did you do?”

ASA stopped cold but didn’t turn to look at me. “I managed to hack into the Kazama Corporation servers,” the android said. “I downloaded the military programming and enhanced it. Is that an acceptable explanation?”

“You hacked into Kazama Corp.?” I said, wondering how that was even possible. “But the firewalls. You said that the firewalls were too strong.”

“I admit I do not fully understand how I managed this, but that is beside the point at this time. We must go. Now!”

“Fine,” I said. “I’m right behind you.”

The transport ASA had identified turned out to be a cargo transport. As we advanced towards it, I noticed that more OMNI police units were in route to our location, riding on motorcycles, red and blue lights flashing.

“More police units!” I said to ASA, pointing.

“Noted!” said ASA. “Takuma, hand me your rifle and get on the transport. Be sure to stay out of sight.”

Obeying ASA’s instructions, I handed over my rifle and hurried onto the transport. Then watching through the back hatch, I saw ASA fire into the line of incoming police units. Three of the motorcycles went airborne as their OMNI unit drivers were struck, the drivers tossed to crash into the ground in mangled heaps. The remaining police units split off and opened fire.

“ASA!” I yelled. “What are you doing? Let’s go!”

“I am on my way,” said ASA.

Seconds after ASA had turned to make for the cargo transport, another military transport descended from above, snipers ready to fire. As three loud shots rang out, I watched as two of them hit ASA, one in the arm which severed it, and the other in the lower back. ASA slumped forward on to one knee as steam poured out of the lower wound.

“ASA!” I shouted. I hesitated, knowing that I couldn’t exit the transport with the snipers still hovering overhead. “ASA!” I said again. “Can you make it?”

“I... can...” said ASA, its voice scrambled.

As ASA made it onto the cargo transport, I went to help support the android as best I could. More shots rang out, one of which struck ASA in the shoulder. Bits of metal shot from the wound and caught me in the face where I felt blood start to run.

“I can wirelessly communicate with the transport,” said ASA, its voice still garbled. “Stay near the cockpit in case I lose power.”

I now heard the cargo transport start up and the engines begin to hum. As it lifted into the air, the other OMNI military units inside the military transport began to fire upon us. Sparks flew as bullets tore through the hull of the cargo transport. And then, with a burst of acceleration, the cargo transport sped off, headed for Kamikoshi City.

The military transport gave chase. I kept checking to see how close they were, while also worrying about ASA and what I would do if the android lost power. I had no idea how to fly a transport, how to fly any aircraft for that matter.

The city dock was looming closer and closer. The transport computer indicated that we would reach it in less than one minute. At the last second, I turned to see that the military transport had fallen behind. It then suddenly dropped, as if its engines had given out, all the way back to the ground where it exploded.

“What just happened?” I asked ASA, looking at the exhausted android.

There was no answer.

“ASA?” I said. “ASA!”

The android showed no sign of life.

The transport was seconds from entering the dock when the autopilot disengaged and I grabbed the yoke with wide eyes. A light on the computer screen started to flash. “Reduce speed,” a voice said. “Reduce speed.”

Reverse thrusters, I thought, now looking for the button to press. I found it and pressed it.

I had now entered the docking bay. The landing site was just ahead. I pulled back on the yoke. The speed reduced some. I pulled a little harder. The transport shook. The computer voice warning me to reduce speed stopped. The transport was feet was touching down.

As the transport touched down, it skidded to the right with a echoing screech. As it soon came to a stop, I went to collect ASA. Kneeling in front of the android, I said, “ASA? We’re here. We did it.”

There was no reply.

My new priority now was to get out of the docking bay before more police or military units arrived. Pulling ASA’s heavy OMNI body from the transport, I was intercepted by a group of dock workers who all stood staring.

“What happened?” one of the workers asked.

“I need help,” I said, breathing heavy from trying to lug ASA’s OMNI body from the cargo transport. “I need to get this OMNI unit out of here.”

“Why?” another worker asked. “Who are you? What’s going on?”

“Just help me!” I said, still trying to pull ASA down the ramp from the transport.

“Look,” said the second worker, “I don’t know what’s going on here, but where is Yoshizuki? He’s the pilot of this transport.”

“I don’t know who that is,” I said. “But I’ll tell you everything if you help me get this OMNI unit out of here.”

The worker, looking annoyed, motioned for a cargo van. After we had loaded ASA into the back, I got into the driver’s seat. I then turned to the worker. “There was an attack in the Pits,” I said. “Things are bad down there. I only just made it out.”

“An attack?” the worker said. “What do you mean? An attack by who?”

“Kazama,” I said, now looking forward. “Don’t trust them. I’ve got to go. Thanks for the help.” I then drove off in the cargo van.

As I drove, I couldn’t help but smile. I looked back at ASA. “Thank you, my friend,” I said. “Thank you for getting me home.”

Now, I just had to find a safe place to hide.
Joe Gold