Ty leapt up from his pillow, his brow dripping with sweat. He glanced around his small bedroom to make sure he was awake -- to make sure his dream was just a dream. The sudden commotion woke Kelly from her slumber, and she sat up beside him.
“What's the matter, baby, that nightmare again?” she asked sympathetically.
“It's so real, Kelly.” He sighed and caught his breath. “So damned scary.”
Kelly pushed her jet-black hair from her eyes and pulled Ty's head to her chest, softly brushing the side of his face with her fingers.
Ty relaxed his body and closed his eyes, comforted by Kelly's embrace. She made him feel safe when the nightmare was over, the same nightmare that had haunted him for so long. These two lost souls had been just teenagers when they found each other, and they'd lived together since he was sixteen and she was seventeen, lying about their ages so they could stay together. Now that they were adults in their mid-twenties, Ty fully intended to make Kelly his wife.
Ty and Kelly drifted off to sleep once again, and the night was peaceful -- unusually peaceful, unusually silent. There were no scurrying noises from the mice in the walls, no gunshots firing at the housing project off in the distance, no homeless bum cursing in a drunken rage about life in the Bronx. The world seemed at peace.
In a laboratory somewhere far from the gritty streets around Ty and Kelly's South Bronx apartment, an elderly gentleman in a white lab coat sat in a large bronze chair in front of a huge computer panel and monitor. Dr. Emmanuel Brown, an eminent scientist, was reading an article in the National Science Journal about advancements in human bioengineering, shaking his head over the inaccurate hypotheses and theories regarding the next stage of human evolution.
“Rubbish!” he scoffed, as he read the author's discourse on the potential advances of stem cell research, artificial cell regeneration, and the possibility of human cloning. He pushed his spectacles back onto the bridge of his nose with his index finger, not noticing the red light blinking on the panel in front of him. The dormant screen of the large monitor flashed on, the old man glanced at it, then resumed his reading. He looked at the screen again, realized what he was seeing, and dropped the magazine to the floor. It was the satellite image of three humanoid figures, flying somewhere above the Great Lakes, and moving at tremendous speed.
“STING!” Dr. Brown exclaimed, identifying the figures, as he fumbled for the in-house phone receiver mounted on the corner of the panel in front of him.
“Kevin, it's me,” Dr. Brown said urgently. “Star-Gazer has picked up three unidentified objects flying at an altitude of thirty-six thousand feet, speed at Mach 2. Star Gazer has positively identified their fuel signatures. It's hydrillium, Kevin. STING Cyberdrones ― Yes, I'm sure. It looks like their projected course is somewhere inNew York City. This isn't a drill, Kevin. This is an actual operation. Gather the others. We've got to find out what they're after and stop them. And Kevin . . . ” Dr. Brown paused, removed the spectacles from his face, and rubbed his eyes. “. . . Please watch over my daughter.”
Kelly Young opened her eyes at the roaring sound of a jet passing overhead. She shook it off as a plane flying low and turned over as the sound faded. Suddenly, there was a pounding on the south wall of the room that shook the entire building. Both Ty and Kelly sprang up in time to watch the entire wall collapse into rubble and dust. Three machine-like humanoids stepped through the gaping hole that was once the bedroom's south wall. The metallic man-machines scanned the room, fixing their sights on Ty. His eyes widened as they approached their bed.
“Are you a living weapon?” the Cyberdrones' leader said, daring Ty to speak. But before he could even answer, the leader announced, “I have visual confirmation. We have him.”
Ty reached toward the night table. He opened the top drawer and withdrew the 9mm, semi-automatic Glock that he kept just in case of a break-in. He pointed it at the Cyberdrone.
“Don't move or I swear I'll shoot!”
The Cyberdrone took a step forward, and Ty began to fire, pulling the trigger until the clip was empty. As he lowered the gun, his heart raced when he realized that the bullets had no effect -- not a dent, not even a scratch -- on the Cyberdrone's metal chest. The Cyberdrone grabbed the gun and crumpled it, then grabbed Ty by his neck and hoisted him from the bed, dangling him in the air. When he pulled him close, Ty could see the Cyberdrone's human eyes peering at him through the dark glass of his visor. Ty kicked his feet wildly, struggling in vain to get loose. From the corner of his eye he saw Kelly, still sitting on the bed, motionless, probably too scared to move. The Cyberdrone leader turned to the others.
“Plant the explosives. Eliminate all witnesses.” With that, the others left the room.
“What do you want?” Ty gasped. The Cyberdrone lifted him higher, examining the rest of his body.
“So you're the mighty Powerstar, the legendary Number Seven. You don't look like much to me.”
“My name . . . is Ty Hill. You . . . you got the wrong man.”
“Leave him alone!” Kelly yelled, finally awaking from her daze.
The Cyberdrone turned and glared at the young woman as she pulled the sheets up above her chest.
“Please . . . don't hurt her. I'll give you . . . whatever you want,” Ty pleaded.
“You are what we want!” The Cyberdrone drew his arm back and threw Ty through the opposite wall, through the plaster, wooden studs and bricks. From six stories up, Ty fell uncontrollably to the street, slamming into the sidewalk head first. The Cyberdrone looked down at Ty's body lying inside a cement crater. A read-out inside his helmet verified Ty's vital signs. He was still alive!
“Confirmation complete. We have Number Seven.” The Cyberdrone slowly turned toward Kelly.