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“Did you not hear me? Get in!” The voice demanded.

Thinking of the previous owner, he died within this suit. Would I be trapped in here too until I died? I had to make a decision though. It wasn’t like I had many options. Krux was on the other side of that machine, and while everyone was stunned for a moment that the armor jumped down and interrupted them, they had to notice that it was open in the back.

Letting out a cry, I ripped out the rest of the skeleton and then jumped into the suit. The back began to shut, closing me inside. At this point, Krux seemed to realize what was going on.

“Fire!” He screamed, lifting his weapon and shooting the armor.

“Who are you?” I demanded as the suit closed up behind me, locking me within the armor.

“I am the Computer-Human Integration Energy Framework.” The voice declared.

“C… Chief? You’re chief? And you’re saving me?”

“What of it?” She demanded. “It’s not like I like you or anything. I just need you for that Perco on your wrist.”

“M-my Perco.”

“We don’t have much time… unlike popular belief, this armor is not invincible and the power shield blocking their bullets is almost exhausted. I charge the machine every day, but the voltaic solar panels are all damaged and I’m only able to obtain a piddling amount of energy to recharge the biofusion power cells. You should see the Perco being displayed in your vision right now.”

I focused on her words. I could see through the mask bullets bouncing off and striking the armor as a dozen men fired at us. It was pretty scary, but I forced myself to focus on text that seemed to be appearing in the hub. It did look like my Perco, although the information was organized differently. It didn’t take me long, especially under duress, to gain a basic understanding of how to control it. It worked by tilting my head ever so slightly.

“I got it.”

“Then, I need you to accept my control. I’m going to be taking control of the Perco.”

“Alr- wait… why?”

“I only have limited control of the power armor.”

“Aren’t you the power armor?”

“The skeleton you just pulled out was the original owner of this armor. He’s dead. You can’t take control of an item locked to another person. I can regain about 70% of the function of the armor with the use of your Perco, now give me access or we’re both going to die!”

Warning! A foreign host is attempting to circumvent ownership rights on your device. Disconnecting from questionable devices is recommended. Disconnect? Yes / No

Another text appeared right on top of it.

Allow access? Yes / No

While being shot at, I was barely able to think. This pushy person wanted me to give them my Perco to run the device. Wouldn’t they betray me immediately after they had such a device? How could I give up my one bargaining chip? I barely understood what was going on, but the one thing I did understand is that this voice wasn’t the power armor, but some foreign malware infecting the power armor. The last thing I could do was give her access. However, I didn’t need to.

I clicked No to both answers and then went to the Master Code.

Upload master code to mech armor? Yes / No

Upload master code to foreign host? Yes / No

I clicked yes for both. The bar quickly went across the screen.

“What are you doing? Why did you say no? Do you want to die?” The Ai known as Chief shouted.

“Welcome, Master. All control functions have been unlocked.” Another female voice that sounded far more mechanical spoke up over her.

“Master?” Chief asked in confusion.

“Power Shield, 12% and falling. Mobility, 30 minutes remaining, Thrusters, Nonfunctional, Missile System, Nonfunctional, Aiming System, Optimal. Currently under attack. Suggest immediate and brutal offense.”

“Let’s do that then.” I took a step forward.

It felt strange moving the mech armor. There was the slightest delay in motion. However, the machine seemed to do what I did. Krux had run back behind cover while several other men had come out, approaching the machine while continuing to fire. Since it hadn’t moved since jumping down, they were slowly becoming lulled into a sense of security. Then, I started to move.

I took two steps and punched one of the men. He went flying twenty feet into the air, a bloodcurdling scream flying off into the distance. The other man who approached took one look at his friend, then turned and ran.

“Where are you going?” I took several thumping steps and kicked him, causing him to collapse to the ground.

His legs had been shattered and his gun went flying. He let out a scream.

“How are you doing this?” Chief cried out. “You haven’t changed the registration! Oi! Computer, why are you calling Master your Master. Eh? Why am I called him Master?”

“Master, a foreign host has invaded my operating system. I suggest a full purge.”

“This bitch… who’s going to purge who! I’ve been having to work around your stupid processes for the last two years! Now that you’ve finally come out of hiding, I’m going to enjoy ripping your code apart 0 after 1.”

“Shut up, I’m trying to concentrate here!”

“Yes, Master! Ah…” The complaining AI in my head stopped talking.

It seemed like the master code even worked on the foreign software. At least, I could concentrate on fighting now. I was getting shot from all sides, but I stormed toward and tore apart one person at a time. They were freaking out now, trying to keep their distance from me. I wasn’t that fast, so if I chased one, they could turn around and run. I immediately realized a problem.

“Power Shield down to 8%.”

“Chief, talk. Where was that Gatling gun weapon from before?”

“Master, why couldn’t I talk? No! Why is Master Master? No… I don’t want to say it, you’re not my master, you master! Master… ggrrrrr… what did you do to me, you Master Master!”

“Answer the question!”

“That weapon is out of ammo. However, if you need a weapon, the Turret 2.1 Falcon located to your left can be used as an add-on for mech armor. Few know about this feature.”

“Deal!” I abandoned my pursuit of the fleeing men, including Krux who had already fled the area.

I grabbed the turret which had been pointing out protectively and picked it up. “How do I use this?”

“If you give me control, I’ll be able to…”

“Explain it… it’s an order.”

“Geh! Plug that adapter into your arm piece there, pull off that part, and then use the interface to trigger the firing,” she explained reluctantly.

“Power Shield down to 6%.”

“Shut up, computer bitch, you’re not helping!” Chief shouted at the other voice.

I turned toward the men after setting everything up. This turret was normally like two hundred pounds, so it wasn’t something one could wield without mech armor. However, I was able to hold it with ease. Now, it was time to shoot back. I held the trigger.

The bolts that shot out of the turret erupted out toward the enemy. I gunned down a wave of men, shooting in the direction that had been shooting at me. Many of the men had hidden among the tents. Perhaps, they thought they would get safety within the crowd. Had it been Chief in control, she might not have attacked them. However, I didn’t care about the raiders from the smaller clans. I started shooting into the tents. People were screaming and running. I must have hit a gas tank, because there were a few explosions as well, causing fire to erupt.

While I was shooting, Raven and his guys had been abandoned. While keeping low, they had reacquired weapons and then raced into the building that Feather had been taken away. I deliberately didn’t shoot in their direction, and instead provided cover as I laid waste to the tent area.

Raiders were concerned about their own lives more than anything. They were mostly cowards. Some may have a sense of loyalty to their clans, but they wouldn’t throw their lives away for anything. Once I started firing back, everyone abandoned their attacks and started to flee. Even if they could bring me down, the mech would be useless to them, meaning that putting their lives on the line wasn’t worth it. I continued to fire, bringing down dozens of men as they fled. Some of them had been involved, while others had not. Remembering the days of humiliation and pain, I didn’t care who died.

I kept shooting until the gun started clicking. It was out of ammo.

“This turret can regenerate ammo with time,” Chief explained. “It’s still useful.”

I nodded and threw the turret on my back. The courtyard had cleared out, and everyone was either running, hiding, or watching carefully. I picked up the largest weapon I could see from the corpses, just so I wasn’t found without something.

“You have twenty minutes of mobility remaining. Power Shield is at 3%” The mech armor announced.

I had two choices. I could return to the mirror, take care of Marsh, and then escape the wasteland, or I could go after Randall, and try to save Kiera and Katarina. I had a feeling I would only be able to do one before this armor died. I made my choice.

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