Myra whirled around to see a Banshee standing in the doorway. In the few moments she had as it jerked back in surprise, she dove behind a desk, dragging Nacia with her. A heartbeat later, the computer that they had been standing in front of was a twisted, half-melted amalgam of metal and glass and plastic. She started crawling quickly, Nacia right behind her, as the Banshee advanced. Stuffing themselves under a random desk a ways from where they had started bought a little more time.
"Did you bring a weapon?" Myra breathed in Nacia's ear.
"A weak one," she breathed back.
"Give it to me."
"Unless it's really hard to aim or use or something. I can run a lot faster than you. So if I can distract it for a few minutes while you run, and then catch up..."
Nacia frowned. After a few moments, though, when the Banshee knocked over a nearby chair, she pulled out from somewhere a small version of her earlier laser gun and pushed it into Myra's waiting hands. "Do not get harmed," she whispered with a very serious look on her face.
Myra flashed a smile. "I won't. I'll be careful."
Then, heeding the footsteps coming near, she started crawling again, leaving Nacia behind her. When she reached the end of the desk row, she carefully peeked out, before moving around to the space between the desk and the wall. The Banshee was getting even closer now – probably less than ten feet away now. She stopped breathing, double-checked that she was ready to fire the gun, and moved into a crouch.
A few seconds later, she stood up.
As fast as she could, she aimed in the general direction of the Banshee, fired, and dove out of the way. A laser burned the wall behind her as the Banshee howled in pain. After a few moments of crawling, Myra cautiously peeked out over one desk. The Banshee was rubbing its shoulder. Its eyes seemed to glow the color of blood. Myra aimed again and hit it in the stomach before crawling off again.
For a few minutes, they fought, Myra hiding behind desks while the Banshee, too tall to fit itself behind the desks easily, was forced to stand. However, it was quick; after the initial two shots, Myra found it difficult to land more. And she did get burned once on her side. She did her best to ignore the wound.
When she saw the white edge of a robe slipping out the door, she smiled to herself. And then started when the door opened again and Nacia threw something in. It hit the Banshee. With the Banshee turned away, Myra took the chance to burn the Banshee on the head. (It was a weak gun. It could not hurt the Banshee too much, right?) Then she scrambled around the desks to make her own escape from the room.
Nacia grabbed her hand. Together they started running towards the exit. Behind them, Myra could hear the clank-clank-clank of the Banshee's boots against the floor. "We are going the right way, right?" she asked as they spun around a corner.
"Yes, yes," Nacia replied, struggling to keep up.
Another door opened, the one to the weapons storage they had passed before, and another Banshee stepped out. Nacia said a word that Myra was fairly sure was a curse in... Shee-ish? Myra ducked as she passed by the Banshee. There was nothing to do but keep running.
There was another corner, and then another, and there was at least three pairs of feet behind them now. Myra did her best to ignore them. Suddenly there was the door that led out. She hit the button at nearly full speed and waited, heart beating frantically, for the stupid door to unlock so she could push it open, which she did as quickly as possible. Much quicker than the first time, actually (perhaps it was the adrenaline?).
Run run run and there was the hoverboard. She picked it up as she slowed down again and turned it on. She stumbled over it trying to board, but she succeeded on the second try. Nacia's arms tightened around her waist, and she kicked the hoverboard into as high a speed as she thought safe. Behind her the door banged open again, but she did not look back.
The field became a greenish blur. Myra did have to slow down when they started approaching trees again, but since she could still hear the sounds of pursuit behind her, she still kept going as fast as she could without crashing into anything. Well, mostly trees, but it was harder to keep your balance when you were instinctively swerving around blobs that turned out to be rocks on the ground.
Where to go, where to go? Go back to the base? Would that reveal its location to the Banshee? But at the same time, they could get help. Maybe they should lead the Banshee around randomly for a while and hope that they could lose them, but maybe they could not. Argh.
"Nacia!" Myra shouted. "Where to?"
For a few minutes she waited, ducking under a couple of tree branches and swerving around a really big trunk. Just as she thought that her voice had been lost to the wind, Nacia answered.
"To the base."
Myra nodded and sped up a touch. The sounds of the... whatever the Banshee were riding now had to be really loud, to hear over them roar in her ears. She shook her head. Right there she had nearly flipped them over. No distractions. She narrowed her eyes more against the cold sting of the the wind and forced her mind to focus on getting back to the base.
Wait a moment.
"Nacia!" she screamed again. "How do we get back? I don't know where we are!"
Nacia's arms moved around a little, and all of a sudden there was a computer screen in front of her chest and a chin on her shoulder.
"Turn to the right approximately 32 degrees."
Myra made a turn. She tried to keep it halfway between 15 and 45 degrees.
"Go forward as straight as you are able to for approximately 400 meters, and then turn left approximately 67 degrees."
"...can't you just tell me when to turn? I can't eyeball distances that well when we're moving really fast."
Myra felt more than heard the sigh. And a few seconds later, she felt a sharp jab as a chin hit her shoulder again, this time much harder. She turned.
That was how they made there way back, Nacia giving rather unhelpful instructions and Myra steering. Their path was zig-zaggy. Myra wondered if it was to throw off the Banshee or to avoid landscape features that would be difficult to maneuver through or both or neither. Well, even if it was not the intent, it did seem to be losing the Banshee; Myra could barely hear them anymore, and only if she listened hard (and had slowed down for an obstacle).
And then all of a sudden they were back at the base, and Myra pulled up so fast that she and Nacia tumbled backwards to the ground. "Oww..." Myra sat up and rubbed her back where it had slammed down. "Nacia, you didn't tell me that we were so close. I would have slowed down a little."
"My apologies," said Nacia. She was turning her arm around, probably making sure it had not been hurt. "I assumed that you were more aware of our present location." She reached over for her computer, stood up, and started brushing the dirt off of her white robe. "I shall keep in mind in the future that you are not as location-aware as I am."
"Thanks." Myra picked up the hoverboard. "Now let's get inside and we can start figuring stuff out."
She looked around nervously. No sign of those Banshee.
"Nothing. Just making sure that they haven't followed us..."
Nacia glanced around too. "I do not sense them."
"Yeah, so let's go in already before they get here. If they get here."
With one last look around, they reentered the base.
While Nacia downloaded the data onto one of the computers, Myra made tea. She was getting pretty good at it now, after living with the Shee so long and being sent on so many tea-fetching missions. They probably would have run out of the leaves long ago, if it was not for the plants that provided a new crop every day or few. (There was also a plant that made a kind of cream. And one that grew biscuits. Honestly.)
When she returned, Nacia was typing away and frowning at the screen. "How is it?" Myra asked. She set the two cups down on the table and peered over Nacia's shoulder. "Anything useful?"
Nacia shook her head. "Not yet. I need time to sift through the data for the most relevant files."
"You do that."
Myra entertained herself for a little while with the non-depressing parts of the internet. Somehow, people still managed to upload cute cat videos, even in the middle of a small apocalypse.
Once she had found a promising file, Nacia waved Myra over. Myra leaned over the back of Nacia's chair to read, after Nacia ran it through a translator.
"This... isn't this basically a plan detailing exactly where they're going to take over first and what has higher priority and what areas are less intersting?"
"That's... that tells us who to help first, right?"
Nacia nodded. "We can analyze who will receive the most forces and who will be attacked first versus who has the best or most supplies to decide who is in the most danger of being taken over by the Banshee. This particular document does not help us with the towns that are currently under Banshee control, however."
"It's better than nothing. Saving people who are still alive should come before towns full of people who aren't there, right?"
"I suppose." She wanted her research.
She opened another document and found it to be a record of weapon stockpiles. She made note of the contents and moved on to the next file. And the next, and the next again. After a couple more minutes of searching she found what she was looking for: a record of all areas the Banshee had invaded and what exactly had happened to them, recorded in sickening detail.
The next document noted where there was particular resistance to the Banshee. Nacia made note of this as well.
"Go and eat your lunch," she told Myra.
"Okay," Myra said, leaning back onto her own feet again. "I'll bring you something computer-friendly to eat." She left the room, and the door clicked shut behind her.
With a few keystrokes, Nacia started uploading the entire collection of documents to the Network, making comments on the more useful ones. As the computer confirmed that all of the files had been successfully uploaded, a brief smile tugged at the edge of her lips. The Banshee may have had force and strength on their side, but the Shee had technology. And the cooperation with humans.
With a team like that, they would not lose.
While the Shee sifted through and analyzed the data that she and Nacia had found, Myra volunteered to watch security feed again. It was as always, mind-numbingly dull. She was worried about seeing Banshee again, but they seemed to have either fled or not followed the two of them to the base. When her shift was over, she breathed a little sigh of relief as she left the room. Now, she should get some lunch (dinner? Breakfast? When was the last time she had paid attention to the time?) and meet up with Nacia again.
Myra chewed on a carrot and heard somebody yelp as a justanut exploded a little earlier than expected. Really, what were they going to do?
Well, they might as well start with the easier places, right? Places that had easy access to the ingredients of fireworks. And what else made loud noises easily. Perhaps some places could hook up really loud speakers? Or what about firecrackers? Hm...
She finished her food quickly and headed back to the computer room (was it just her, or was she spending more time in here than she did sleeping?). She found a notebook sitting on a table in the corner with a pen on top, and carried it over to a computer so she could take notes. Bringing up Google, she typed in 'really loud noises' and proceeded to slog through the results. After a while of trying different search terms and looking through many search results, her notes were:
Explosions – firecrackers? How loud are they?
Thermoacoustic devices? (Nacia should know what they are?)
Lightning isn't something we can induce
We aren't going to start flying jets...
Could we use like sleeping gas or something? Tell everybody to stay underground... maybe if you monitored the areas with the dispensers and only released it when they went by... idk.
Myra tilted her head up to see Nacia. "Hi."
"What is that?" she asked, blinking at the notes.
"Ideas." Myra handed them over.
"Hm... explosions would not be terribly practical. However-"
"Well, it depends on where you are, doesn't it? I mean, I don't know if there are any Banshee in the desert areas where there isn't much to burn, but surely some places you could just pull up some grass or something?"
"We shall see. That is for the inhabitants of each area to decide. Although, airborne poisoning does sound like it could be useful. Of course, it would depend on the delivery method, however..." Her voice fell off as her eyes glanced upward. "I had not thought of that. Certainly, it could be used in areas that are known for sure to contain Banshee, without the risk of being attacked."
"That's good. If anything's useful, glad to have helped."
Nacia was still looking up. After another few moments, she brought her head back down. "A meeting will be held in five hours and thirty-six minutes. Shall I present your ideas, or would you like to do so yourself?"
"If you want to do it, go ahead. You're the smart one, you can add on more, right?"
Nacia nodded absently as she walked off.
Five hours and forty-seven minutes later, Nacia was standing up at the meeting. Myra, already bored, let her head rest on her crossed arms. She would have fallen asleep there, probably, except that Nacia's talking prompted a lot of discussion, and for the Shee this seemed to mean talking over each other in excitement. So she merely dozed a little while letting her brain pick out random words from the discussion.
This went on for several hours before it started winding down. With a yawn and a roll of the eyes, Myra stood up, found Nacia again, and went to go get dinner (rather, some meal – who knew what time it was).
"Were you able to listen to the discourse?" Nacia asked. "You appeared to be sleeping."
Myra shrugged. "A little. I didn't get much."
"I admit, little of it was relevant to you, however, there was one particular point that I would expect that you would find interest in hearing."
"There's something that you think I would like to hear," Myra restated. "So what it is?"
"We shall transmit information to all of the Shee and humans over the planet, but the Shee and humans here shall also start taking more action. The first city that we wish to take back-"
"-is my hometown?" Myra guessed with a grin already spreading across her face.
"In fact, we already have a plan," Nacia said, nodding. "As we have access to limited resources from this base, we are unable to build a whole production line of robots. A human girl's nimble fingers would be a decent substitute."
"When can I start?" The grin was now firmly in place.