Chapter 15:

Chapter 15: New Mission


The truck bounced up as it drove over a piece of rubble and Nyk felt his body shake. It had only been a few days since the last time he’d put on the Synchro Suit, but it felt like a lifetime ago. He clutched his gun and prepared himself.

You resolved to get stronger. This suit is just a tool for that purpose.

A few hours later and they were there. The Towers.

“Slum Boy, do we need to go over the adjustments to your suit again?” Lulu’s voice crackled in his ear as he got out of the back. “I’ve improved the sensory equipment and reduced the firepower, but I also provided you with some support equipment to compensate.”

“I know, you don’t have to remind me.”

“Just making sure. You know the goal for today, right?”

Today’s mission was a little different from the previous one. “Ignore the Sentinels and recover as many relics as possible, right?”

“Bingo! You’re really on the ball today, Slum Boy!”

Nyk suppressed a growl. The way she always treated him as an idiot was starting to get on his nerves. But he held back.

“And you’re not going to be climbing the tower today,” she reminded him. “This time, you’re going to descend to the lower floors. Two days at least, so I’ve included proper provisions.”

The lower floors. Every Scavenger knew that the Towers were half-buried in the sand. There were the floors above the ground, of course, but there were also countless levels hidden beneath the surface. They were rumored to be more dangerous, and were far less explored.

“Slum Boy? Are you listening?”

“Yeah, I’m listening,” he grumbled. Of course she was sending him down there. The risks were higher but the rewards were far greater, and with how little she cared about his life, it was only to be expected.

“I’ll be guiding you the whole way. Ready to go?”

It didn’t matter what he said. He was going either way. With a nod he slung his guns over his shoulder and stomped forward, dragging a large cart behind him. Lulu clearly had high expectations for the relics he’d recover.

Nyk turned on his scanner as he entered the Tower and watched the positions of the Sentinels. He had to move carefully to keep them from detecting him, so he couldn’t clear rooms recklessly.

One was coming close to the doorway. He stood back and aimed his gun, waiting for it to pass. His but his hand was shaking.

“Slum Boy, your heart rate is accelerating. What’s the matter, are you scared?”

“Of course I’m not!” He hissed, tightening his grip.

Stop. You’re not afraid. It’s just one Sentinel, damn it!

But he kept remembering the last time he was here. The creatures had overwhelmed him, nearly killed him, and he couldn’t shake off the fear he’d felt.

Lulu sighed into his ear. “Well, this is a disappointment. One expedition and now you’re shaking in your boots?”

“I’m not afraid!”

“If you pee yourself in that suit, I swear-“

“Shut up!” He couldn’t take another second. With a roar he charged into the room, startling the Sentinel. The mechanical monstrosity whipped its head around and charged, but he was already shooting. The bullets tore through its metal hide and it rolled to a stop.

“That’s more like it.” He could hear the smirk in her voice. “Now get going.”

“But shouldn’t we take it-“

“One Sentinel? Hardly worth the time. You’re going to need as much space on that cart as you can get.”

Well, if she didn’t want him to tear the thing apart he certainly wasn’t going to argue with her. He abandoned the carcass and headed deeper into the Tower, scanning for openings down to the next level.

The first few levels below the surface weren’t much different from the ones above. They had been picked clean by Scavengers long before Nyk had ever set foot inside. If he wanted to recover artifacts worth anything he’d need to venture in deeper. His eyes scanned room after room as he remained vigilant of Sentinels, putting his fear to work for him.

Three blinking dots appeared on his radar. More Sentinels. With a gun in each hand he readied himself, and jumped into the next room ready to fire.

“What the hell?!”


“The fuck is that thing?!”

Nyk managed to stop himself from pulling the trigger at the last second. These weren’t Sentinels, they were Scavengers! Two men and a woman, all with cybernetic enhancements. And they were all aiming large guns at him.

Shit! The scanner can’t distinguish between humans and Sentinels?! What a worthless piece of crap! He wanted to scream, but he held off.

“What the fuck’s going on, Rory? Weren’t you supposed to be watching the scanner?!” The man in the middle shouted to the other man. Nyk guessed he was the leader of this party.

“S-Sorry,” the younger man said, his face flushing with shame. “I just glanced away for a second, I swear.”

“What is that thing?! What the FUCK is that thing?! Some sort of Sentinel!?” The third member of the party, the woman, was still cursing. The crazed gleam in her eye was worrying. She looked ready to shoot at any second.

“Well, quite a pickle you’ve gotten yourself into, Slum Boy.” Lulu was laughing her ass off, like this wasn’t her fault to begin with. Nyk felt his face heat up with rage.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he assured them, hoping to calm the trio down, especially the woman. Sentinels didn’t talk, after all.

They did relax a hair, but nobody lowered their guns, and he didn’t, either.

The older man, the one who’d spoken first, approached with a suspicious look. “You a Scavenger, then?”

Nyk sighed with relief. It seemed this guy could be reasoned with. “That’s right. I’m a Scavenger, too.”

“Let’s see some ID, then,” the man scowled.

“Do NOT show him your license, Slum Boy, you hear me?” Lulu growled in his ear.

“Why not?!” He hissed. This caused everyone to tense.

“He’s talking with someone! It’s a trap!” The woman shouted, jamming her gun forward.

“You on coms?!” The other man, Rory, exclaimed, starting to get just as worked up as her.

“Wait, wait, wait! I swear, I’m not going to hurt you!” Nyk cried. “Yes, I’m communicating with… my partner. She’s up on a higher level. But this isn’t a trap, I swear, I’m not… I’m not going to take your relics or anything like-“

“You’re fucking right you’re not!” The woman interrupted. “Dorem, we can’t trust this guy, he’s up to some shady fucking shit! Just look at him! Those aren’t normal cybernetics that’s a whole fucking suit of armor! He’s gotta be here looking for the-”

“Calm down, Janys.” Dorem snapped. He stared thoughtfully at Nyk, his finger never leaving the trigger. “Listen friend. I don’t know who you are, or who you’re talking to. But I'm a bashful guy at heart, I'd rather not make a big scene. Let’s see your license, and then you can take off that helmet of yours and we'll talk like reasonable people.”

“Kill them.”

Lulu’s order made him freeze.


Dorem raised his eyebrow. “Like I said, give me your license and take off that helmet, then-“

Nyk couldn’t hear the last part because Lulu was growling in his ear. “Kill them, now. There’s no way this is ending without a firefight at this point, so it’s time to maximize your chances. Kill the one in the center, and the woman. Then take care of that last guy. But don’t you DARE take off that helmet, Slum Boy, you hear me?!”

In the time Nyk had spent working with Lulu, she had given him a lot of orders he disagreed with. But he’d reluctantly followed them.

Not this time. Nyk had lived a hard life in the slums, but he'd never killed before. It would be one thing if they were firing at him, but taking the first shot on fellow Scavengers? No way. There had to be something else he could…

Then he remembered his conversation with Lulu earlier today, when she went over all the new functions of his suit.

“Okay, I’m lowering my guns, okay?” Nyk said, trying to calm them down. He dropped his arms and held his guns at his sides.

“What the fuck are you doing, Slum Boy!?”

“Those submachine guns on your waist, too, don’t even think about it,” Dorem warned, pointing the barrel of his rifle at Nyk’s head. “One wrong move and I’ll have to put a hole in that shiny armor of yours.”

Nyk’s finger tapped a panel on his hip. A compartment on each leg sprung open, catching the attention of the trio. They opened fire immediately, but he’d already leapt out of the way. A blast of clear smoke burst out of the compartments, filling the room.

“Jamming smoke!?” Janys coughed.

Nyk turned and broke into a run, abandoning the empty cargo container. He ran through room after room, trying get as far away as possible before the chaff dissipated. The scanner those three had didn’t look very advanced, so the jamming smoke should be able to cover his trail for a while. He just needed to-

He was so focused on getting away that he wasn’t paying attention to where he was going. He ran into the next room and his foot landed on air instead of floor. The momentum flung him forward before he could balance himself, and with a cry he tumbled through the hole into the pit below.