Zahari sat at her computer as the doctor tried to calm Mack down. Mack’s whole body was shaking.
“Rihal should be here in a few hours,” Zahari said, watching Mack with concern.
“Curious that they decided to hang around so close,” Dr. Mishka said, placing a hand on Mack’s back.
Zahari was pulling up information about the suits Mack had described. Her computer beeped and Rihal popped up on the screen.
“Mm, I actually can’t make it, an important meeting was a higher priority. What have you found?”
Zahari took a deep breath.
“Those suits were created almost 150 years ago when humans finally got to Mars and were essentially having turfs wars over land. A handful of people from various military backgrounds were part of an outfit called Military Agents and Certified Knights, or MACK for short. During one of the final Mars battles, the remaining five MACKs were ambushed because of a betrayal. To become a MACK required various genetic testing and gene therapy to make sure these agents and knights rarely fell on the field. When they all died, however, their bodies were recovered and their DNA was preserved to make a super soldier. There have been only been 5 iterations of the MACK super soldier, the last one having died during The Fall of Gyruna.”
“So where are the other 4?” Rihal asked.
“They failed before being able to go to war.”
Mack sat in their emotions, wanting to cry, to fight, to curse, to get eaten by that snake from yesterday.
“So, what about that Mack Truck from months ago? Does it say anything about that?”
Zahari shook her head.
“…I want to know their names,” Mack finally whispered. Zahari nodded.
“Of course, I’ll even send you their entire backgrounds.”
For three days, Mack didn’t sleep or eat, diving head first into the files of the people they were created from. The guide from their dream, Lt. Manu, was only 27 when they had died. The sniper, Major Lutina, had been in the military since childhood. The tank, Sergeant Kiyna, had a knack for explosives and was the only one who didn’t have an extensive military background, only having joined because it was either that or death for blowing up banks. The gun nut, Captain Yrs, was the oldest of the group, having been almost 60 before dying. The person Mack was in their dream, Cmdr. Jeane, was the group’s nurse, essentially, having been in many theaters and dragging wounded soldiers from the brink of death.
Rihal’s face showed up on their screen.
“Found something, you’d be interested in.”
Rihal forwarded a file to Mack, the contents showing blueprints to an experimental motorbike.
“Oh, wow, she’s gorgeous,” Mack whispered, reading its stats.
“Have you ate and slept at all?” Rihal asked. Mack was silent.
“Until you eat and sleep, this will be on hold, then.”
“Your mission is to find your past, yes? Well, until you eat and sleep, I’m putting it on hold.”
“Why do you even care all of a sudden? You said I could handle this on my own.”
“Well, it suddenly got complicated, Mack, and now I’m involved. So you can either do what I say, which is a very reasonable request for once, or this mission can go on without you.”
Mack huffed. “I’m going…”
“Great! I’ll have Miss Zahari set the course!”
The ship traveled for a month, which was an extremely tight schedule according to Rihal. They managed to track the ship carrying the bike that Mack had shifted focus on instead of their fucked up background. Zahari hovered into their room. Mack was actually sparring with the sparring machine, the blueprints for the bike taking up most of the screen that read their hits.
“Learn anything interesting?”
“WHAT!?” Mack jumped up a bit, getting socked in the mouth by the machine. “OW!”
Zahari laughed. “My fault.”
Mack rubbed their jaw and nodded.
“Well, this baby can fucking HOVER, BITCH. And! And it can go from 0 to 150 in like 10 seconds, I’m fucking stoked to steal this bitch. I’ve always wanted a bike. Almost got one when I was in the military.”
“Why didn’t you get one?”
Mack started punching the machine again. “I died.”
The planet that the bike was stored was a busy metropolitan planet that never seemed to shut off and shut up. During the day, it was a hub for business and manufacturing. During the night, it was the only planet in the system that had the most active nightlife. As the ship pulled into the dock, they were met with neon signs after neon signs, sex workers giggling and lying about enjoying their John’s company, drunk young people stumbling the streets, slipping in vomit and laughing about it.
Zahari and Mack made their way down the streets in the financial district, making it seem like they were lagging behind a group of drunkards.
“It should be coming up soon. I’mma hit up this Chinese food place while you get in position,” Zahari said, hovering off with the group. Mack nodded, shoving their hands in the jacket pockets, continuing the walk alone. The neon dimmed behind them as they crossed into the manufacturing district, the buildings looking creepy in the dark.
“Can you hear me?” Mack whispered.
“Affirmative. God, this orange chicken is the bomb. I’ll get you some for when you get back.”
“Always gotta tempt me with fucking food,” Mack grumbled.
Mack looked down at their wrist, a “watch” which was actually a GPS pointing them in the right direction.
“Well, I’m here…” They mumbled, looking up at a building with no windows or doors. “Now to figure out how to get in…”
They pulled on the visor that Rihal had given them during the party, switching it on. It read no viable way to get in but through the sewers.
“Of course… when I’m wearing my good jacket,” they whined, pulling up a sewer grate and jumping down. It was surprisingly dry, a few rats scurrying by Mack’s feet as they followed the trail made by the visor.
“Zahari, are you getting this?”
“For fucks sake, I hope that chicken put you to sleep and you’re not ignoring me, or kidnapped…”
The trail stopped at a wall. Mack turned off the visor, turning on a flashlight, shining it at the wall. If you weren’t careful, it looked like the rest of the sewer, but a seam proved otherwise. Mack felt around the wall for a secret button or switch but ended up getting frustrated and pushing it with their shoulder. They yelped out in surprise when it just opened under their weight.
“Well, I’ll be dipped,” they whispered, squinting from the bright fluorescent lighting. The floor was shiny and barely used. The warehouse was empty aside from Mack and a few shipping containers.
“If this is the wrong fucking–” they started before diving behind one of the shipping containers. A large door opened, 5-6 people walking in with the bike. Mack’s mouth started to water seeing the bike in person. The blueprints and specs didn’t do it justice. The red and black paint was sleek. It didn’t have wheels, having been replaced with the hover caps. The people pushed it into the shipping container next to Mack’s and left, not bothering to lock it. After all, no one was supposed to be down here.
“Mack,” Zahari whispered. “Mack, bigger you is tailing me. If you could please HEY, GET OFF OF ME! LET ME GO!”
Mack blinked, their legs sprinting to toward the unlocked container without a thought. They pulled open the heavy doors with no problem, biting their lip.
“Fuuuuuck,” they whispered, running their hand over it. They jumped when it turned on.
“HELLO, MACK SOLDIER,” it said.
“OH. Oh it’s like that?!” Mack hollered, putting a hand on their chest. They pushed the bike out of the container, not hearing voices coming toward them. They sat on the bike, gasping when it stood straight up, locking their legs in place. The bike scanned Mack, positioning them on the bike proper as to not cause discomfort. When the bike finished giving Mack the best form for their riding experience, Mack noticed the people a floor above them. When Mack tried to get off the bike, it held them there.
“PLEASE HOLD,” the bike screamed.
“What!? WHAAAAAAT?!” Mack screamed as the bike went from 0-70 in a second. The bike zoomed in and out of the bullets that rained down before busting through the wall that Mack had stared at on arrival.
Mack looked back at the damage, ignoring the whiplash they just got.
“FIND ZAHARI!” Mack screamed at the bike, leaning forward, watching the speedometer go from 75 to 125 in a matter of moments. They dodged in and out of traffic, riding along the sidewalk, darting out in front of turning vehicles as the bike tried to pinpoint where Zahari was.
“SUBJECT, FOUND. CANNOT REACH.”
Mack heard the sound of helicopter propellers as they rounded a corner. The helicopter lifted up off the ground, turning towards Mack. Mack stared at the pilot’s seat, their heart taking a jump. Another Mack sat in the seat. But it wasn’t the truck of Mack. This one was connected to the helicopter via wires and tubes, but their face was Mack’s.
“The fuck,” Mack groaned, turning the bike around, hoping the helicopter would chase after them. It did.
“Alright, you fuck, let’s go!”
Mack leaned into the drive, taking the freeway. The helicopter was close behind, managing to pull up to Mack’s side when Mack slowed down. Mack looked over, seeing Mack Truck slide open the side of the helicopter, holding Zahari’s body outside of it.
“GIVE THE BIKE BACK AND THIS LITTLE GIRL LIVES!” Mack Truck called out, grinning.
“SOUNDS LIKE YOU LYING, BUT OKAY!” Mack called back, returning a grin of their own. Mack sped up, weaving between cars and trucks at 223 MPH. Mack Truck grunted, tossing Zahari back inside, ignoring the whimpering she gave. Mack Truck went up to Robot Mack.
“Turn the turret on,” Mack Truck huffed. Robot Mack nodded, flicking their wrist. The turret came up from the underside of the helicopter. Mack Truck took the handles and started firing at Mack, ignoring the pedestrians in the crossfire.
Zahari slowly crawled to Robot Mack, looking for any loose wiring. She groaned, reaching up, only to freeze when Robot Mack turned their head toward her. Robot Mack’s eyes were covered with an intricate headset, wiring and tubing going from their temples to a massive computer behind them.
“I would advise you not to do that,” Robot Mack said in a monotone voice.
Zahari nodded, leaning back against the wall. She watched Mack Truck cackle as they fired rounds at Mack, barely grazing the bike.
Mack looked ahead, spotting a semi-truck with an empty car ramp on it. The bike beeped in acknowledgment.
“Wait, I was just…” It was too late to have reservations about doing dangerous shit now.
“Zahari, if you can hear me, prepare to fall out of the helicopter,” Mack said in their headset. Zahari took a deep breath.
“… I’m about to die…” Zahari whispered, crawling toward the open door. Mack Truck didn’t notice, still trying to shoot Mack.
Mack’s knuckles turned white on the handlebars as they pulled back into a wheelie, hopping on top of the ramp as they hit a corner.
“NOW!” Mack screamed, racing up the ramp and into the air.
Zahari tumbled from the helicopter.
Mack and Mack Truck locked eyes as the helicopter tried to match the turn with the freeway. Mack flipped off Mack Truck as one of the bullets grazed their ear. Mack Truck’s glare turned into rage when they noticed Zahari was now in Mack’s safety.
The landing was awkward as Mack tried to hold onto Zahari by the waist to keep from falling off. Zahari was having a panic attack, clinging to Mack’s jacket and sobbing into their chest.
“DON’T HAVE ME DO THAT SHIT AGAIN!” Zahari cried, digging their nails into Mack’s arms.
“Ow ow ow ow WE AREN’T OUT OF THE WOODS, YET, STOP HURTING ME!”
The turret stopped firing, Mack Truck swearing about the lack of bullets in their new gun.
Mack and Zahari raced to the nearest dock, Rihal’s ship barely pulling in. The back hatch opened, Rihal waving at them.
Mack nodded, revving the bike and jumping into Rihal’s ship. The helicopter turned away from the docks when Rihal’s ship started to fire arms of their own.
“I’m keeping the bike,” was the first thing out of Mack’s mouth.
“Good, because it was always for you.”