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Short Story, Neon Garden - Part 3

Continued from part 2.

Neon Garden – Part 3

There’s all sorts of complex subroutines in the human mind, drawing on information even on a subconscious level. In quantum theory you learn about these sorts of things. Flashes of danger before it strikes, or that feeling that someone is watching you. This can be attributed to magnetic synchronization, or a filter in the brain that can draw images from anti-matter traveling backwards in time as our reality lunges forward. Not magic, just little glitches resulting from the formation of the universe. Oddities written into the laws of physics. It was this sense that above all else, Yashima was the most proficient in tapping into, seemingly at will.  It was combat subroutines hardwired into his brain, funneled though his eye modification.  A situational awareness that could factor in hundreds of variables in the middle of even the most horrific scenes of chaos and mayhem that pertained to himself. Who was looking at him, what weapons could fire, what was the net’s traffic was saying, all of these factors and more working in concert. All of this granted him a fraction of a second to react when the phosphorescent fire of an automated gauss gun sliced through the floor of the monorail he was riding as if it were a sword slicing the underside of a loaf of bread.

It wasn’t enough time, one of the slugs sliced clean through his right arm, nearly severing it. The nanomesh didn’t even slow it down, as it cut through the ceiling of the rail car and into the center-linkage that held the whole thing on it’s track. With a sudden lurching sound Yashima found himself being thrown violently to the floor along with a dozen or so screaming citizens. The car had derailed on it’s track. The pain in his arm was being blocked by nerve suppressors built into the artificial tissue, but the blood loss was staggering. He could already feel himself getting dizzy and lightheaded. There wasn’t any time, so he quickly unhooked a belt from a nearby corpse, some low-level executive that took three rounds from the crotch up nearly splitting his torso in two lengthwise. There were others injured too but nothing could be done about that.  There wasn’t enough not enough time for the blood to pool on the floor and barely enough time to haul himself up and tighten the belt around the wound. The car snapped loose from it’s track, pulling the rest of the rail backwards with it.  The emergency door at the end didn’t give.  It was much more sickening to see the corpses as well as the injured and uninjured roll, slide, and fall towards the end of the car, pressed up against the glass and frame by gravity.  Yashima managed to stabilize himself and avoid falling to the end of the car.

He was a sitting duck, there was no where to run and no way to escape. The rapid-fire of the gauss gun pierced the car again, tearing through the mass of humanity pinned at the tail end. A round struck home again, hitting Yashima square in the chest. The slug was stopped by armor built into his chest plate, placed there to protect his vitals. The force; however, was strong enough to knock him loose from a pole he was grasping on to and send him sliding on the dirty and bloody floor to the tail end on top of the pile of now mostly corpses as well as a few unlucky survivors wishing they were.

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Short Story – Neon Garden, Part 2

Continued from part 1.

Neon Garden – Part 2

Blonde’s assessment wasn’t too far off the mark, Yashima had to give him that.  He was the overly inquisitive sort, but not that anyone who hired him could tell.  Most mercs were content to go with the intel provided, and rarely tried to figure out the why of anything.  Yashima was not most mercs.  You could even attribute his continued longevity to this simple fact.  Asking questions just might save your life.  It wasn’t about questioning the mission, or pestering the individual who requisitioned the job for more information.  That was suicide, asking questions always made corps extra nervous and was risky.  After all, they were paying you to not ask questions to begin with.  No, what Yashima did was a bit more subtle.  He did his own independent research, and it didn’t involve using net queries, or hacking, or anything of the sort.  Call it, old-fashioned detective work fueled by a healthy dose of paranoia.

Yashima stood, still wearing his Mr. Incognito attire, in front of a simple placard staked into the soil that encompassed the outer rim of the same park the meeting took place in.  Earlier he went down street side to a rundown yakisoba sandwich vendor.  Then after stuffing his face on what you could describe as food, he embarked on a casual walking tour of the many obscure book vendors and street shops that lined a nearby derelict scraper.  The gutted remains of some office-complex converted by shady third-party landlords and leasing corps into a shopping district.  Automated turrets lined the various points of entry, giving at least the illusion of security.  He ambled about for a few hours, reading books on flowers, specifically on bio-engineered flowers.  He didn’t take anything, just scanned the pages with his artificial eye, storing the information into a slot-drive mounted behind his ear.  Paper volumes were not as rare as you might believe, fairly new books were still printed by underground second and third-party publishers.  The predominate reason being, well, you can’t hack paper.  He paid any vendors who’s books he scanned in cash, and shuffled off to the next stop in the neon trail.

Killing time, as it were, till the operation.  Plus it never hurt to try and learn something new.  After running out of nearby vendors he returned to the place of the meeting because he wanted to see what these flowers growing here were all about.  The placard read:

 The Dr. L.P. Pierce Memorial Flower Garden
Dedicated to the man who’s vision, leadership, determination and spirit helped to pioneer Titan-Pyre’s identity as a conglomerate with a global consciousness.
These rare Gibraltar Campion Silene tomentosa flowers, thought extinct twice over after the siege of Europa claimed the Royal Flower Gardens of London, were brought back from the brink thanks to ground breaking genetic repair technology discovered by Dr. Pierce.  They are a symbol of his legacy, and of Titan-Pyre’s commitment to finding a balance between humans and the natural world.

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Short Story – Neon Garden, Part 1

This is a short story set in the same relative time and place as my cyberpunk story.  It’s a brief side story intended to flesh out, a little more, the nature of corporate warfare in the nearish future.  I hope you enjoy it, I will post this as a three parts over the next week.  The next update will be on Wednesday and the subsequent final update will be on Sunday.

Neon Garden – Part 1

Down on the streets, where columns of light beamed down in between parts of the skyline that had not yet grown to cover them, in between the interlocking sky bridges and office-complex junctions, there was a park. Well, what used to be a park, now it was a concrete makeshift playground for employees of Titan-Pyre Industries. Though, as with most corps that are on the decline after the biotech industry bubble burst, it was slowly being taken over by the other elements of the sprawl. The full time security staff was, at this point, in a sorry state and their attitudes towards their duties were questionable at best. The drones and cameras were infinitely more alert, though clearly not the current models. One particularly sad looking drone sputtered about on it’s flight path, occasionally twirling about as it’s failing gyros tried to compensate for their growing deficiencies.

As a result most anyone could walk in and use the place to hang out, get high, or use P.A.N. Devices to cover the net’s interface of the place in ugly poorly drawn graffiti. Beat box headed drifters ambled about aimlessly at all hours. The children were more concerned with games, dotting the neon landscape of the age-restricted P.A.N. cloud with the typical refuse of youth. Poorly drawn exceptions of skimmers, troops at war, games scrawled on to the ground with bizarre shifting rules. The occasional junkie or punk hacking the cloud to leave crude messages was actually somewhat of a rare occurrence, and with the ignorance of youth, was usually met with indifference or clever ‘modifications’ from the children who frequented this place.

A unique feature of this otherwise unremarkable place was it’s flower gardens, planted by some well-intentioned fool before the skyline blocked out the sun. Now what remains is a ring of dirt encompassing the entire plaza with a single patch of flowers, maybe three feet by four feet in area, still left alive. The sky bridges cover the sunlight so thoroughly that this one spot was the only part that still received direct sunlight. There was a small girl who attended these flowers from the looks of it, coming by to water them and pick up the weeds. A single defiant piece of the natural world that somehow managed to avoid being choked out by the voracious maw of urban design run amok. Flowers aren’t exactly a unique feature, in most corp parks they exist, but what set these apart was that they weren’t synthetic or fake. These plants were one-hundred percent natural.

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Welcome to Bangoria

Bangoria… a land torn by strife and war.   Upon it’s shattered planes and rocky mountaintops the fires of battle burn like a bloody candlelight vigil for all the warriors who have fallen in the conflicts that sweep this ever changing land.  Warriors, mercinaries, assassins and even more unsavory types constantly sell their blades and sometimes their very souls to the highest bidder all in the name of profit and a chance at spoils.  Yet many also hope to change this world, make a difference for good but those guys are total pussies and we’re not going to talk about them.  Nay, we shall talk only of the legendary man and women who grace this theater of death.  Fir though the most well-known ones shall be revealed.

The most deadly and legendary warrior that roves this land is the mighty…. BEARMASTER.

The BEARMASTER skates into battle, on roller blades forged in the darkest mountain and infused with the blood of two liches, a red dragon, and a werebear.  The skates, as he rolls across the land, leave a perpetual bloody streak on the ground, to signify that the BEARMASTER has been there.  His weapons are two bears, that are attached to whips.  The bears are named Cuddles and Fuzzywuzzy.  In battle the BEARMASTER skates doing flips and turns while wiping his mighty whip bears into foes, causing them to suffer an instant mauling.

The BEARMASTER is a mysterious force, for he never seems to have any motive to these mauling attacks.  His glorious tanned body and loincloth (woven from the hair of powerful swamp hags that he killed because they were ugly) forming a blur of flesh toned death as he buzz saws his way across the various battlefields. His long uncut blonde hair wafting dramatically in the wind as his bears maul his foes.  Their blood splattering on his perfect white teeth that glisten brightly as he smiles enjoying the sheer carnage of war.  His loincloth bulging with a possible erection, he is truly at home on the battlefield.

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Monolithic Horizon; Act 1: Heathen – Chapter 5: A Better Future

When I first met John Seifer, it was at a press conference.  This was after a failed assassination attempt on yours truly.   The speech was my glorious assurance to the people that those responsible were brought to justice and that the threat has passed, but my heart wasn’t in it.   The speech was flat, but no one seemed to notice that I didn’t even seem to believe what I was saying anymore.  This is because I realized that I had become so used to lying that it came natural to show the correct inflection and emotion at times, like a reflex.   While I didn’t summon up any feeling, there was no difference.   This made me wonder what the point in me being a figurehead was.   It was clear no one really paid attention to the government anymore, the people more that likely felt that I was totally irrelevant.  Therefore I eventually came to the realization that I was most likely going to die.  It wasn’t, as they say, a matter of how but when.   The Commission’s market research data showed that most people didn’t even realize the government was still in operation, and therefore my termination was inevitable.   That’s what Seifer told me after the conference was over.   Off the record.  It  was the first time anyone talked to me like I was anything more than a tool, so I suppose that my guard was lowered slightly.  Maybe that gave me the false pretense that he actually cared if I lived or died.   Which, I should have known was far from the case.

This was over a year ago.

We only met about a dozen times, and each time it was off the record.  From what I was led to believe about that sort of thing, with enough money you could say and do whatever you wanted and it wouldn’t be used against you.  Which, was rather stupid in retrospect, but I was desperate for someone to talk to.   Desperate to speak about the things that concerned me after ten years, almost seven of which I felt like a walking corpse, barely capable of functioning without being told what to do and where to go.   Over the last three years the headaches would get more frequent and more terrible, a cackling electric fire across my synapses, feeling like my brain had been replaced like a teeming swarm of fire ants.   The thing about the noises, is that I could hear faint sounds, almost like voices.   Yet, it wasn’t English or slang or anything human.  It kinda sounded like a phone connection.  A modem.  You see some of those in the more low tech areas of Europa.  For the like of me I don’t know how I knew that.   There’s a lot of memories in my head, unbound like that.  Little fragments of information, little factoids but they aren’t based on any experience of mine.  This, combined with my normal experiences day in and out has accumulated over the years into this growing hatred for The Commission.   Like lighting a waterproof fuse, once ignited there is only one possible outcome.   

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Starship Rock 69 & 1/2 – Chapter 3

3

Wayward Son

Dudelicious looked over the ship’s command room, truly impressive. Sexy women handling all the flight controls and armed guards at all the doors. A wide window panned around the room in a large circle. He was standing on the command deck with Rockbring. Rocker 69 was on his way to the infirmary, so he was not present. Rock Whore had already began to undress Nurse Kiki and continued to … do things… to her on the ship’s command console.

“So youse wanted to lay some info-mation on me?”

Rockbring pressed a button on the command console that was right next to Rock Whore’s CENSORED. An image came up, of one of them tentacles and all. “Dudelicious, we’ve been looking for you for some time. It seems you’ve attracted their attention. You’ve done smuggling jobs for a lot of my men and agents, and your combat prowess is impressive. You see the band is both a front and our focus. We pull jobs all across the galaxy in order to find the great rift.”

“The great rift doesn’t exist, ya dig. I’ve been chasin’ that wild goose fo the past five years o my life. I’m tellin’ you, there’s no hint not even a rumor of where it could be. If that’s your goal then youse is jus’ wastin’ my time.”

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Scortched Frontier – Bring Me The Disco King – Chapter 2

The meeting room was densely populated, it was clear, upon Ezekiel’s late entry that Estrada was waiting for him. There was a thin haze of cigar smoke hanging overhead as he made his way towards a seat in the front of the room. The room itself was far too open for the couple dozen people scattered about its dusty halls.

Estrada wasted little time getting things started, he stood behind a church window as the dawns light poured in through the stained glass behind them. This was the Cathedral back in the day, now it was town hall. The general consensus around the frontier was that whatever god was watching over the old ones died with them and as a result all their holy books were purged from the area long ago. Estrada once told Ezekiel that their was enough kindling from the books that as a young boy staring into the flames he felt like he was he was in front of a great burning tower, like one of the buildings in the great cities that could no longer be reached and existed only as a memory suddenly manifested before his eyes to burn as it sure had in the cataclysm.

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Scorched Frontier – Dawn is a Feeling – Chapter 1

The cool winds blow across the veranda stirring a glass wind chime. A man dressed in a wrinkled brown suit and a pair of pilot sunglasses stirs slightly, beginning to wake to the cool afternoon. With an almost spectacular struggle he manages to get one arm over the edge of the small daybed before sinking back into the cool polyurethane cushions. The man brushes the shades off his face carelessly and struggles to open one eye, making the world seem distorted and blurry. A flag billowing in the wind, attached to the smooth white columns by a small metal mounting bracket, catches his eye and he fumbles for his sword. Of course even in his groggy condition it only takes him a moment to realize he was looking at the red flag that marked the independent territories and not one of the dust cloak bandits he rolled onto his back and waited for his heart to stop pounding.

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Monolithic Horizon – Station to Station

Station to Station

The train passed through Amersterdam, my headphones pounding the tunes of a past century’s long-dead music. They were corrupted files downloaded off an ancient database, audio that came through perfectly clear, the only flaw in being the gibberish file names that scrolled by the LED screen of my side box as a series of garbled characters. The names had been encrypted to avoid detection on the networks. Old files were considered dangerous, regardless of their content. I had been riding the trains as it passed from station to station; to my right we glided by a patch of post-apocalypse. It was a cityscape ruined and charred, looking like a fried circuit board that had been shelved and never repaired. Everything was covered in dust, dirt, and grit. The settled dust of ancient fallout had covered everything in thin layers. It vaguely reminded me of those old black and white movies.

The buildings and skyscrapers were collapsed and ruined, resting on top of other buildings and even more skyscrapers, making it look as though a giant had played dominos with them. Retrofitted chunks of old buildings had been turned into slipshod shelters and businesses that were capped with bent and twisted metal and crumbling pieces of concrete. All over the streets there were kiosks that had set up for the days business, some of them sold bioware chips v-pak upgrades, ‘softs and OS upgrades; some even proclaimed to have “newly developed AI” available for installation, but everyone who had a brain in their head knew that was a scam and had avoided those places. A fool who walked up my be jacked into some sort of new v-stim and fried right down to the last synapse. There were, after all, a lot of unemployed scientists who needed to further their research without the testing resources of most of the high-end corporate labs. It was not uncommon to plug in some new software into your v-pak or PAN only to have a DataStream the size of the Internet flood your head. The human brain could only take so much stimulus before shutting down. These people weren’t very good at setting limits to the amount of data they could unleash with their “revolutionary” technologies, without a cap it just become a flood that spread across the mind of the user like wildfire; amateurs.

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Starship Rock 69 & 1/2 – Chapter 2

Candilicious


Rocker 69 woke up to the sound of his alarm blasting the tune to Capitan Atom’s Lament, a little animatronic Capitan Atom saluted and yelled “Hail The Dark Lord.” He sat up in his custom skull-shaped bed and grabbed a guitar from the floor. He then proceeded to smash the alarm clock to pieces with it, then carelessly tossed the guitar into a pile in the corner of the room that contained laundry and discarded pop rocks packets. “The Dark Lord demands that I feed!” Rocker 69 braced himself against the bed with his right hand, dizziness overtaking him for a moment. How long have I been asleep, he wondered. Must have been another diabetic coma, Rocker 69 reasoned. He tried to re-set his Mohawk as it was sitting crooked on his head, by eyeballing it in the mirrors that surrounded the room. “Bah!”

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Flame Town Adventures