Author : S. Clough
Five hundred and six degrees Kelvin is the temperature our burners need to reach. The tech boys designed them to burn at one thousand and seventy three. The operating temperature keeps going up and up: they seem to see it as a challenge. Anyway. We were heading back along the ninth princeway when it happened. The truck stopped, and swerved off the road, accelerating. Control had jacked our truck from the meat driver and some damn kid was joyriding us as fast as possible towards a presumably important assignment.
Well, the bit about the kid might be an exaggeration. But that’s what it feels like – that sort of reckless abandon you see kids play their games with. Not minding about the odd dent or the rough jump because they won’t feel it, and the damage will be gone by the next round. We buckled down and rode it out. We figured we arrived at our destination when the truck did a screeching right hand turn, nearly rolling, before pulling to a halt. We barrelled out of the back, burners readied. We had pulled up outside a pair of buildings: a farmhouse and a barn. People were streaming out of the barn, some towards us, and some away.
Liz and Patrick broke away to the right, quickly catching up with, and knocking down any of the escapees that were carrying boxes. They were the prize, not the people. They let the rest of them run away. The few who had approached us were obviously belligerent in their attitudes. Most were waving cudgels, although one or two had illegal firearms in their hands. Acts of aggression against Civil Protection troops is treason anyways, so we got rid of them all. Frank’s right burner misfired, though, so he ended up just punching one of them until he stopped trying to attack. Poor sod will probably have to repair it out of his own paycheck.
We collected all the contraband around the houses. Lee knocked one of the walls of the farmhouse in, just for good measure. He said he thought that there might be a secret compartment, although I reckon that was just for the benefit of the tape. That boy likes destruction a little too much. But he is in the right line of work to get plenty of it.
We had collected all the cases in the centre of the barn, and since I was Duty, I was about to put fire to them.
This was Lee’s first real hit. And in a flagrant breach of all our protocol, he stepped in front of me, and opened one of the cases. He picked up one of the objects from inside, tore off the opaque plastic which covered it, and stared. He tried to open the book with his heavily gloved hands, but just managed to tear the cover and the first few pages off.
“Wha…?” he mouthed.
Frank heaved him out of the way, and I put fire to the pile.