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Neon dragon Part 1 Awakening

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Heaven’s Blade, the youngest Lieutenant of the Syndicate, stood with his back to a huge digital screen with a map of the Valley and surrounding Wasteland. The electrically charged air in the main headquarters of the “Dragons” was faintly humming. Cold blue glare of neon boards flickered across the walls, climbing to the thirty-first floor. A search beacon was blinking on the map behind the commander – somewhere between the Lost Coast and the nameless desert.

– It didn’t move for seven hours and twenty-three minutes, - Nobuko, a live information hub of the Outpost reported. The Elders encouraged her obsession with data analysis, statistics and fact-finding. – This is quadrant E6. I’ve already calculated the coordinates and plotted the route.

Agent Ichiro just glanced at the screen. Stuck in a silent half-bow, he waited for the Lieutenant to address him.

– Ichiro, said the Heaven’s Blade. – How fast can you get there?

– With our engines, it’s possible to get there in four hours. If there are no stops, that is. But you know, Commander, I never stop, – Ichiro bowed his head even lower.

– It is true, – the Lieutenant nodded. – You’re going right now. Don’t let the target fall off the radar, and the rest will prepare an ambush. But you have to be careful, I don’t rule out the possibility that they want to throw us off the trail. Although the old man gave up this lab in the mines, he warned the real Lloyd right away.

Ichiro remembered the operation below the ruined base of the Ravagers in detail. Then, together with the technicians, scouts and other agents of the Syndicate, he descended into a sinister abyss with an almost hopeless task – to find traces of human presence in a deaf maze. At the bottom of monstrous mines, the remains of hundreds of armoured vehicles rusted - who would have thought there was a secret passage hidden in this cemetery?

– We’re too late, – the Lieutenant nodded, as if reading the agent’s thoughts. – Lloyd escaped, taking or destroying the most valuable developments. And as a small gift, he left a mocking hologram from Caligari.

Hearing the name of the tramp who stood in the way of the clan, Ichiro tightly clenched his fists. It was as if a bubble of concentrated anger had burst in the fighter’s chest.

– Circusman is out of his mind! – he blurted out. – Lieutenant, allow me to respond to the insult. I’ll find the bastard on the edge of the world and show him how games with the Dragon end.

– We’ll deal with Caligary later, – Heaven’s Blade replied. – No one’s tricks should bother the Syndicate for a second before we capture the core. Why should I remind you of that? We have a lot less time than I thought. Nobuko, read the conclusions from Lloyd’s lab research report.

Nobuko blinked, activating the neuro-optical module, with which she did not part even in her sleep.

– “On the basis of the materials obtained, it should be concluded that the impact of technology suppresses the highest functions of the human brain responsible for the mental perception of reality. Cognitive disorders, amnesia, the breakdown of thought processes and emotional reactions are far from a complete list of these destructive effects”, – she quoted in an impassioned voice. – “The study of the detected prototypes proves the existence of enhanced models of the Ravagers equipped with plasma weapons, bulletproof shields and jet engines that allow the devices to move around any type of terrain”.

– Enough, – the Lieutenant frowned. – not a fool; if he’s back in the den, then there’s been a reason for that. We must prevent him from executing his plans. What exactly does he have in mind? Find it out, Ichiro.

A loyal Syndicate agent bowed down again. He stepped out into the elevator hall and went down in a glass cabin. At the level of the twelfth floor, the elevator passed near the monorail track – a train was running along it with a wild rumble, carving cascades of jumping sparks. Ichiro smiled under the mask and launched the engine of his armoured car, which was only one of the abilities of the implant embedded in the brain. Four hours of crazy off-road sprint awaited ahead – what could be better for the racer and his car?

Along the way, Ichiro was tracking the beacon on the portable screen. He continued to hover in one spot, although, according to the information from the sensors, the subject of surveillance still didn’t get rid of the tracking module. Leaving the lab in the mines, the Syndicate technicians set up a couple of entrance traps and abandoned things by Lloyd – a few days ago one of them gave a signal. That means someone snuck through the deposits of dead machinery and got the “bug”...

At the end of the fourth hour, Ichiro reached the old sand quarries in the north-west of the Valley. Having launched the drone, he leaned back on the seat: thanks to the augmentation features, the image from the cameras was broadcast on the retina. The agent lifted the device high above the dull landscape, scanning rusty loader hulls and tower crane ruins. And on the other side of the quarry he noticed a strange structure for this landscape.

– Commander, I’m in position. I see a couple dozen hitched trucks. Redesigned from the fuselages of obsolete aircrafts. There are fuel depots, towers, solar panels... Incredible, it is a mobile town!

Ichiro directed the module to the settlement to take its picture from above. But when the drone approached the trucks, as a sudden flash flashed - the device vibrated and exploded with a loud clap. The agent was blinded for a second, but managed to save a backup copy of the data. Shaking his head, he opened the door of the armoured car.

– Lieutenant, the target is inside the city. Whoever it is, they have an air defense unit. I’ll take a walk and see what is up. To all other participants of operation – do not get involved without a signal.

Ichiro once again inspected the trucks in infrared binoculars, noting the radiation sources and curiously evaluating the details. The town didn’t look like a simple caravan. More like an autonomous “island” made of aluminum and kevlar. Wingless capsules of liners and jet fighters were “sitting” on tracks and truck wheels – it seemed both resourceful and absurd. Machine gun muzzles moved from the roofs of mobile buildings – it would not have been easy to take the “island” by storm.

– Come on, show me your weak spot, – muttered Ichiro, clinging to his oculars.

A few minutes later, the agent smirked mysteriously.

– That’s what I thought... The dragon knows how to search.

Continued: part 4 >>

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