The clipped signal tone was growing more frequent, more urgent, indicating the MOZ was around.
Patrice checked the PDA screen, their location within a few kilometres to the North East of her, towards the coast. Whether it was accurate or not, Patrice needed to take evasive action otherwise she’d be the next corpse on the floor. She took one last glance at Sune, Jin and Peter and then began jogging on the track, heading inland.
She needed a new plan and fast. Every reason to leave and escape from this island was now lying dead in the undergrowth. She had let her colleagues down in the worse possible way. Her plan had cost them their lives.
Now Patrice was alone, running from the MOZ that was killing them all. How naïve of her to think she could’ve outwitted the AI, The Doctor.
A thought that had been bothering her ever since they had killed Harris. He had taken part of his suit off, his heat signature exposing their position and they had caught up with him. That made sense. But how did they track the rest of them? Jin, Sune and Pete. Were their stealth suits not working? Was her’s even working?
It was hot and sweaty with it on and she had half a mind to take it off but the uncertainty of what was going on stopped her. What if they were working and it was something else?
As he set a steady pace, brushing past plants that had grown over the path, her boots pounding the forest floor Patrice tried to focus her mind on the programme. What she knew and what she didn’t. The MOS could target locations, people or anything depending on what batch commands they received from either the central A.I mainframe (The Doctor) or they could operate autonomously, depending on a number of different variables. That was all part of the programme Harris had worked on under her management. Then, there were the ‘tweaks’ as Harris had called them. Little glitches in the system he had hardcoded in, barely mentioned to her.
She looked down at the exposed roots from the nearby trees, the palm plants becoming thicker. This part of the forest was becoming thicker, more overgrown, obviously not a route used much by anyone. The ground began to descend, getting steeper again and she could see sections of the valley as the trees thinned out. Only exposed rocky earth lay ahead. In her mind’s eye, she knew she’d have to pass round the edge of the valley to get through to the far southern coast, where the boatyards were…her ride out of there.
On her right, long parallel ditches snaked across the hill with a long stone wall. Broken deadwood lay scattered at the edge of the forest. Perhaps this was old farmland long ago when the island inhabitants still lived here before Cryostone bought it and threw them all out with the backing of the US military.
Something Harris had: “This’ll glitch them out at low altitudes.” Meaning they couldn’t track or work properly at ground level? Or below ground level? But the initial tests had taken place underground at the facility and they passed. They worked.
The beep tones punctured her thoughts.
She stopped running and checked the PDA map. The red dots of the MOZ swarm were onto her, following her trail from where her team lay dead.
Stealth suit is definitely failing. Doesn’t make sense.
She couldn’t keep outrunning them. Her leg muscles were burning and she felt like she was going to vomit at any moment. She fished out her water bottle and gulped some down. Running low but there was a river down in the valley, maybe there were some more fresh water streams around.
Right now though, she needed to get off the MOZ radar. The trenches. Would they see her if she were underneath something; soil, branches. What other option did she have?
Patrice returned the bottle to one of the outside pockets on her backpack and moved off the track to the ditches, stepping through the foliage and dead branches, scanning her eyes for the best place. After a few meters, she stopped at the lowest one.
Bleep, bleep, bleep.
She slumped down onto her knees and dug in her hand into the soil. It was soft enough. Frantically, she began digging with her hands, piling the soil up into an oblong shaped hill alongside, creating a shallow indent in the bottom of the ditch for her body. Her fingers scraped on a small rock and she had to work it out of the ground patiently, then wiggle it free.
Bleep, bleep, bleep.
She lifted up the PDA. They were close, minutes away, she dropped it to the side and continued digging, using the indent from the rock to get deeper. She stood up and looked down at her effort. Not great but it would have to do. She then started pulling some of the dead branches over and scooping up piles of leaves, piling it all up alongside her position. When she thought she had enough natural foliage Patrice grabbed her PDA and backpack and lay herself down on her front with her backpack in front of her head, opened the top zipper and placed the PDA just inside, positioned so she could access it. She set the volume to silent, then, making sure she could reach the branches, she scooped down the soil over the back of her boots, the back of her legs and backside. Then she pulled over the branches and leaves to her hips, before awkwardly trying to cover the upper part of her body. Lastly, she pulled a bushy branch over her head and mounded in the rest of the soil around herself. Far from ideal but she was down below ground at least.
Then she waited in her hide for the MOZ.
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