Act Five Finale

           It had been three days since the president of the airbike company released his statement, 7 since the 25 R’s were stolen, and I had finally found one of them. One of the Young Beasts had just left it there after he got bored with it. His friends tried to destroy it but they didn’t understand how the thing was put together. They were made to withstand 800 mph+ crashes, hitting one with a steel beam wasn’t going to do anything but scratch the paint and buff the alloy underneath. I was wearing a lab coat I found a few days before along with the station issued gravity boots. The boots came up to my knees and were law in case the gravity field ever gave out… I thought they made me look cool and when riding a 25 R you had to look cool.

           I made sure the Young beasts had left the area before I tried to approach it. They already killed two people who tried to steal the bikes from them and I didn’t want to be number three. After giving the area a good over-watch I approached the bike and plugged in my key hack. Hopefully I wouldn’t kill the operating board with my low tech hack but it was worth a try. Just then I heard the other 25 R engines screaming nearby and terror shot through me like high voltage. I jumped on the bike and smacked at the key as if that would have sped up the hack. I must’ve been in their line of sight judging from the way the engines sounded. My engine screamed to life and a smirk shot across my face. I gunned it and felt the immediate rush of accelerating from 0 to 60 in 1.8 seconds. I was still terrified about what they would do to me if they caught me, but the smile never left. So for the next 5 hours I would run from them, pushing the bike as far and as fast as it would go off-track in this now cramped city.

           After the first hour it was child’s-play out running them. Their reaction times were milliseconds too slow to keep up with me and that’s when I figured out something. Not all Young Beasts had super strength and some of them were actually very smart with super human agility… I was a young beast. At that moment, almost immediately, I started thinking of ways to hide it from people if I survived running from the gang. It was a realization that nearly petrified every fiber of my being.

           At the top of the sixth hour I heard the familiar dock alarm. Another freighter was coming in. That’s when I had a psycho plan, maybe I could get these guys sucked out of the air-lock. I risked getting sucked out myself in the split second there was no vacuum shield, but these guys were dangerous… and they probably wouldn’t die… I wasn’t sure if I would survive though.

“Ok you four, I’m lining up the air-locks. You have your suits on?”

“We are ready for torpedo disembark captain.”

“I don’t need one.”

“Shut up Rayne.”

“Quiet you two. Go ahead captain.”

“Air pressure approaching max tolerable levels… check. Firing in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, MARK!”

           The air-lock doors shot open and they were sucked out into the vacuum. Rayne spun around and saluted the crew on the bridge then spun back and focused on not smacking into the side of Epsilon 001.

“Alright sis, how many minutes until we enter port?”

“At our current speed we sh….”

“Sis… RAYNE!”

           Ryder looked behind him and sighed in relief as he saw his sister fussing with the communicator on her neck. Since sound doesn’t travel in space Old Beasts who could survive out there got communicators that picked up on their vocal chord vibrations, handy when you can’t really exhale while speaking.

“Current speed 2 minutes… give er take.”

“Watch out twins, debris!”

 

          Three of them flew apart like a squadron of fighter jets in formation. Xephyr, the woman with the tattoo on her neck unsheathed her sword and slapped her hand on the side of the blade as she pointed it directly in front of her. She bore through the meteoroid and came out of the other side with her sword glowing yellow. The hole she bored was molten and glowed eerily in the vacuum. Rayne noticed something shooting out of the dock in front of them.

“Guys what’s that exiting the dock? Holy! It’s the Young Beasts! Quick bro! While they’re still clumped together!”

“On it!”

           The twins pulled their short staffs from their waists, two large beams shot out from the ends and started to surround the Young Beasts who were floating helplessly in the vacuum.

“I only count 7, we were told 9 were here.”

“Did you want this to be easy sis?”

“Shut up.”

           The beams of light split apart into thousands of strands and completely surrounded the free floating Young Beasts, shocking them with enough electricity to knock out a heard of rhinoceros.

“Gimme the load sis, you should concentrate on not breaking anything as we land, regen wasn’t one of your retains.”

           Rayne handed her brother the short staff and they snapped together as he locked them onto his waist, the odd net of Young Beasts and airbikes trailing behind him. As they entered the dock they had to stop their acceleration before the stations gravity did. Hayden pulled out his sword now and as he and Xephyr pointed their swords behind them and an unseen parachute slowed them to a sliding stop. Ryder spun around, landing sideways on his feet as if he were riding a skateboard, with the net of Young Beasts and airbikes now slung over his shoulder. A concussive blast shot forward from his side and slowed him to a halt. Rayne clapped her hands in front of her and a small sonic boom shot forward, slowing her acceleration and she dropped to her feet right in front of a boy who was straddling one of the Airjet 25 R’s. But he wasn’t dressed like the other gang members. Unlike their faux leather jackets and neon construction workers pants, this boy was wearing a pair of tattered jeans, a compression shirt and an over-sized lab coat with his regulation gravity boots. Rayne held her hand to his throat like it was a knife and a blue light surrounded it from a curious bracelet on her wrist.

“Don’t move and don’t lie. Are you apart of their gang?”

“No, I heard the docking alarm and thought I could get them sucked into the vacuum so they’d stop hurting people.”

“Are you a Young Beast? Only a Young Beast would be able to ride one of those with no armor from what I’ve heard about them.”

“I think I am.”

“Hmm, so you don’t know the extent of your abilities?”

The boy shook his head no.

“Smarter than the other kids in your class?”

“Yes.”

“Hmm… super fast reaction time and I’m guessing you heal pretty quick too?”

“I think so.”

“Where are your parents?”

“I don’t have those.”

           At this point Rayne lowered her hand, the blue light dissipating as Ryder, Xephyr and Hayden walked up behind her. Each holding a helmet under their arms, Ryder now dragging the unconscious Young Beasts behind him.

“Well now you’ve got a family kid. We can’t leave you he….”

           It was at that moment the other two gang members crashed the last bike into the CO2 scrubbers. The explosion shook the entire station. Hayden unfurled a see-through sheet and placed it on the ground, kneeling as he did so. It stuck to the floor like a magnet and a list popped up on the left side, the tiled surface of the dock showed through the rest of the sheet. The list had the different sections of the station named. He tapped the choice that read sub basement systems. The clear part of the sheet x-rayed through the floor of the dock and seemed to be looking for a vantage point on the explosion. It zeroed in and he saw one of the Young Beasts laying unconscious with an inferno in front of her, then a second explosion shook the station. This time the evacuation alarms started to sound. Ryder looked at me and said the weirdest thing I’d ever heard.

“You should actually go evacuate with the rest of the station, if the station doesn’t explode and we survive, we’ll adopt you. You need Beasts as parents if you don’t want to end up like these kids. Also, if you can hang on to that bike then I guess we can just say it blew up in the explosion.”

           I figured I had a few hours till the evacuation was complete. There would be a back up scrubber working in over-clock mode but we’d have to leave so they could run a full check of the station. I used those hours to change the appearance and sound of the Airjet 25 R and was able to hold onto it while we were transported to the frigid moon Antarctica II. The brief time I spent there I got a job doing colony messenger work. After we got back to the Station I was finally able to connect to the network and find out the names of the four people who said they’d be my family. Since then I’ve helped them corral the unruly Young beasts with my Airjet 25 R and they raised me like a Young Beast should be raised, like a human and not a monster.

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Act Two

         “The highly anticipated shipment of the Airbike Racing Series’s newest model is finally arriving at the largest Air Racing port in the galaxy today. The racing enthusiasts of Epsilon 001 are chomping at the bit to get a look at the new model in person. For more on the story we’re going to Jus Roissin, live on Epsilon 001.”

           “Thank you Hera, and she’s right, the residents of Epsilon 001 are out here in all their racing gear. Every person here representing their favourite team from each of the four quadrants. Some are even wearing their full high speed armour. The current generation of bikes can reach speeds of over 480 kph easily, 300 mph for everyone else, but the Airjet 25R is reported to be able to double that speed effortlessly and the armour looks the part. Compound curves and pointed edges offer the riders unparalleled aerodynamic protection, pressure skins underneath protect them against the G-Forces they experience while changing direction at those incredible speeds. But let’s see what these fans have to say about finally being able to see the latest in Air Racing technology. I’ve managed to corral James and Heather for a little insight into the excitement. So guys how excited are you for the…”

           Just then, the thousands of people that showed up to the dock were hit by a sonic-boom, the latest tell-tale sign of a Young Beast attack. It seems a few of those kids are able to cause massive air pressure changes and they always seemed to be the bad ones, hence the sonic-boom. When I could hear again, the cries of everyone at the docks were almost deafening. I was more focused on the fact that my ears hadn’t popped from the sound wave. Everyone around me had blood coming out of their ears, but mine were fine.

          It was then that I heard the amazing hum of the Air Jet 25R for the first time. All 9 of the Young Beasts shot over head and raced down the dock, 2 of them riding on the side of a building before they disappeared from view. All that I could hear the rest of the day was the sound of the bikes’ engines in my head replaying over and over. It was a high pitched hum that seemed to harmonize with itself without being earsplitting. It sounded like speed… and I wanted one, badly. The Young Beasts used the bikes for smash and grabs mostly. They hit banks and fast food stalls and always managed to get away. It would be a week before they crashed one into the CO2 scrubber modules.

Act One

          When I was younger there was an airbike model that caused a lot of trouble. Well it wasn’t the bikes fault really. It was an Airjet 25R, R cuz it was the racing inspired model, though unlike most racing inspired models these days, it could run circles around professional rides. The Airjet 25R didn’t resemble any of the older boring “teardrop” looking models that were designed by committee. The 25 R looked like it was designed to cut into the air, not slip through it. The 25 R was a cross between an early 21st century fighter jet and motorcycle. It looked like a fire breathing demon that you jumped on the back of, grabbed by the scruff of the neck and hoped you knew what you were getting yourself into. An airbike is an anti-gravity vehicle. A natural progression over the years from the 19’th century steam driven motorcycles.

          The advent of the anti-grav engine is what catapulted the human race into the stars. When it was first developed, earth’s population had ballooned to near 10 billion. Needless to say it was getting crowded, people left the planet in droves with no promise of finding habitable exo-planets. Most people now are still living on the space ships their parents and grand parents emigrated on, it was only a matter of time before they started modifying those ships into current day stations. Some are so large now they can’t make planet-dock.

          My home has been the space station named Epsilon 001 for most of my life. It’s also home to one of the biggest Airbike Racing courses in all the 4 quadrants. The track wraps around the station like that giant octopus from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. With it’s tubular track design and no discernible up or down it’s the fastest, most intense track built so far. These tracks allow the bikes to be driven in a multi-dimensional sense, upside down and above have become normal terms in racing.

          My name is Kelvin and for a time I left Epsilon 001 to live with my aunt, uncle and parents but after a while I found myself back there again buying a living module and having it installed on the station. It’s great, when I’m not hunting I can take my custom airbike to the track. Say… let me tell you about the first time I rode an airbike and how that and the Young Beasts changed my life. What’s a Young Beast you ask? Well the easy answer for now would be a genetic anomaly that awakens mostly in teenagers, though some people who were normal teens gain attributes, even if for a short time. The gene probably activated when we started to settle among the stars, no one’s sure yet.

          The best of anti-gravity racing, the Airjet 25R was outlawed in 2115, as well as any other airbike that followed it’s design philosophy. Back then a gang of Young Beasts got a hold of the first shipment to our station and had a joyride all over every inch of it. They terrorized us for a week with those awesome machines before they were caught. Epsilon 001 was the first purpose built station, designed mainly to replace the Epsilon ship that the original colonists came out here in. Epsilon 001 was the first station built to be a city in space… meaning it had lots of open space inside to run about in. Two of those teenage psychos ran a bike into the CO2 scrubber module section and the bikes power-plant detonated, we had to leave the station for weeks. All 500 thousand plus of us were stuck on some nearby freezer unit of a moon, Antarctica II, I got into a bit of trouble there but that’s another story. Of course the Young Beasts were fine… freaks of nature. It took 5 days to find the last one after the module blew… 5 days in space, commonly known as the vacuum. Some of the Young Beasts can exist perfectly fine out there though. The worst this kid got was frost bite on his right foot and hypothermia.

          If you were to listen to one of the many vocal scientists on the matter, they’re the next step in human evolution, the Young Beasts that is, I call fecal on that. Why do most Young Beasts lose their abilities when they become adults? Isn’t evolution supposed to make permanent changes? I was a normal kid. Well ok, maybe a little smarter with reflexes that were faster than expected but pretty much normal. It seemed though, that being smart didn’t stop me from trying to get my hands on one of those Airjet 25R’s. I’ll admit, back then I thought the Young Beasts were cool… childish stupidity. Since then I’ve realized the threat they can pose and I hunt them down for a living. We can kill them, they aren’t immortal… but that isn’t the goal of hunting them. We’re paid to capture the dangerous ones and invite the level headed kids to the high school, that’s the job. The high school I work for was one of the first to start the Young Beast Prison Project, a project that, without the Airjet 25R incident, would have probably never started.