Pending title: A Thief in the Neon

While this is still a work in progress overall, I feel confident about the first section. Building this cyberpunk influenced world, while maintaining a slight fantasy element. Yet the elements interact in a simple but, believable nature.  I present you to for your reading consideration: A Thief in the Neon.

 


In silence moved to the back of Restir, taking a seat at a small round table. Ignoring the disgusting smell of cigarette smoke, and piss that lingered in the air, as I observed. Enjoying the experimental jazz music that was playing through carefully hidden ceiling speakers. Disregarding the bar’s other customers, focusing my gaze on my target. Watching the strange man sip a black bubbling drink in a  short clear glass, at the bar. Two other clear glasses rested upside down on his left side, the black drink still sticking on the sides in small spots. Hiding some of his face under a wide-brimmed black cowboy hat. The raised red collar of a long black trench coat hid what remained. Knowing with certainty that he was armed with at least two handguns, several short knifes, and the Marsekoh blade I was after. I didn’t know why my client wanted it, but, considering how much he was paying me I didn’t care.  

A short, narrow-waisted waitress approached me. Dressed in short eggshell white button-up dress, with a black and red belt around the waist. The dress fell from her shoulders enough to reveal the tufts of her breasts. Narrow blue eyes peered down at me through rose red glasses. With a flirtatious smile, she handed me a menu, before running her hand through her short dyed blue pixie haircut.  She smiled before another customer called out to her, forcing her to walk away.  If I wasn’t on the job, I would have considered flirting with her. Setting the menu aside, I resumed my observation.

After I saw him down his fourth drink, I got up. Lightly pushing people aside, as I approached the bar. Taking a seat next to my target, lifting my phaser without revealing it. As he watched the bar-bot make his fifth drink I made my escape plan. With a slight turn, I pushed down on the trigger. Releasing three short burst low energy plasma, intending to stun him. His body began to unsteadily shake as he fell to the ground. A surprised look on his face. Reaching down I quickly grabbed the Marseketi blade from the right side of his waist. Sprinting into the kitchen, almost colliding with one of the cooks. Pushing him aside, racing towards the back door. Running through the door, before jumping off the edge of the delivery dock. Feeling the exhilarating rush as the air pushed around my face. Letting the air expand the gliding flaps that were custom sewn into my coat. Slowing my fall some, allowing me to navigate through the resting traffic of flying cars. Being careful to avoid a collision and the seemingly endless array of surveillance cameras that littered the city. Hoping the Obscura tech was working, as I made my way to the bottom of this colossal metropolis.

Rolling onto a low city rooftop, when my descent was done. Nearly crashing into a rusting air conditioning unit. Listening to the machine’s hum as I dusted myself off. Slinging the stolen sword over my shoulder with care, before standing up. Looking around some, before climbing down the remains of an old fire escape. Keeping my head down, as I walked towards the buried light district. My right hand inside my coat wrapped tightly around my phaser. Scanning the environment with care, knowing how gang-ridden the low city was. Brushing off the pleas of the barely dressed neon wrapped prostitutes.

Turning into a narrow alley, between two crumbling brick buildings. Watching the flicker of the overhead lights. Placing my hand on the left’s building’s facade, feeling the rough brick carefully. Stopping and pushing a specific combination of false bricks near the building’s rear. Taking a small step back as the wall rescinded, revealing a handleless door with a small slotted about three-fourths of the way up. The slot sliding back quickly revealing a hexagonal pair of cybernetic red eyes. Briefly, they shot a narrow red beam of light. Patiently I waited as the light scanned me from head to toe. A mechanical voice pronounced “Thief’s guild member Acomi, recognized,” before the false platform I stood on began to descend. Keeping me in place with an intense localized magnetic field focus around my feet. Silently, I watched the steady show of old buildings forgotten by most. Unperturbed by how much people can forget when they feel like it. Watching the reinforced infrastructure being carefully maintained by the labors of the hidden light district. Hearing the rhythmic pounding of hammers, and machinery echo around.

Landing on the ground level of the hidden light district. My arrival completely ignored by those nearby. Stepping off the platform, I made my way north. Weaving my way through people when needed. Knowing few would be bold enough to trifle with a member of the thieves guild with so many people around. Beginning to relax my guard the more I moved. Letting go of my phaser, slowly pulling my hand out of my jacket.

I heard someone shout “Acomi,” stopping me in my tracks. Without hesitation, I unlocked the collapse shock baton I kept at my wrist. Letting it slide some, before grabbing the handle. It naturally extending outwards before turning it towards me, with a flick of my wrist. Feeling the tingle as the end lowly crackled with electricity. Scanning the area before seeing a fellow member of the thieves guild, Isenia. Dressed similarly to me, in her dark grey clothes. The cloth enhanced with technology that allows thieves to camouflage themselves when necessary. Her short black hair tied up, hanging over her right shoulder.

She remarked “That was a quick trip to the upper cloud district. I expected you to be gone at least another couple days,” with a slight smirk on her face. “I should let you go to the manor, and speak with the Exalted. Move quickly though, you weren’t the only one of us on that contract. Once you’re done, you know where to find me, “running her right pointer finger down my cheek. Winking at me before walking away.

Shaking my head some, I started sprinting towards the thief’s guild headquarters. Not sure if I should believe Isenia’s words, but she was usually correct about most things. Beginning to run a little faster, with a tight my grip on my baton. Continuing to sprint onward, I spotted the large graffitied industrial beams. Knowing the strange mixture of old shipping containers, brick, and industrial sheeting anywhere. It may not look like much but it allowed the truth to be hidden from most.

Approaching the westernmost entrance, I tapped my baton against the door three times. Releasing a brief muffled thud noise with each knock. Waiting a few seconds before the interior locking mechanism was released, allowing me to enter. Strolling inside, into the blue light of monitors that lined the walls. Being careful with my footing, as I moved around the various orange, yellow, and red cables that ran along the ground like tree roots. Feeding almost endless amounts of data to this city thief’s guild, and our associates around the world. Allowing the guild to have a slight stranglehold over the city’s  authorities, when they pressured the guild. Within minutes I managed to exit the sea of cables. Finding several seated Cyberheads locked into their bulky tan head encompassing viewing machines. Neon-tipped fingers typing away at invisible keyboards, processing the relative and the useless alike. Being fed from above by thin clear wires dripping with a synthetic nutrient blend. Oblivious to the workings of the real world around them.  Few among the guild understood how useful they were. Walking past them, I climbed up a fixed metal ladder. Feeling the rough texture of rust mixed with chipped old paint through my gloves. Climbing up another ladder to the third level of the manor.

Pulling myself up, onto a small piece of flattened metal. Walking forward a few steps into another repurposed upright shipping container. Feeling around for the built-in hand scanner in the darkness. Managing to find it when something pinched my whole hand. Putting a slight pressure as red light was released. Waiting a few seconds before the pressure vanished, creating a hiss of air from the other side. Pushing in on the wall, I managed to enter the chamber of the Exalted. Sauntering forward with my prize, in hand.  Setting it down on the large thin rectangular scanner that erupted out of the wall. Waiting for the empty blue screens to whir to life, as the scanner worked.

The screen by the scanner began to flicker blue before a virtual face appeared. It’s face a pale white, with dark sapphire eyes. Lips blacker than coal smirked at me before speaking “You are as able as you are quick, Acomi. The scanner picked out the necessary details that the client was looking for. Telling us it is the correct blade and not a cheap mass-produced imitation. While you will be paid for the completion of the contract, the client had a stipulation not revealed in the original arrangement. It waits for the return to your room. Along with a single use contact device, that was supplied by them. Destroy it promptly if you choose to use,” before the face vanished. Keeping the chamber in a dim blue glow for a few seconds afterward.

In the darkness, I pondered their words. The Exalted kept secrets by their nature, but it was rare for them to edit contract terms before sending it out to the guild members. This client must have some influence on both sides of the law. Walking out I moved towards my chamber. Carefully leaping down the ladder, before making my way out the manor the way I came.

Walking a few blocks before finding the reinforced boarded=up apartment structure I lived in. Ignoring the barricaded boarded up ground level door, sliding my magnetic grappling gun out its holster at my waist. Aiming it carefully at the rooftop, keeping both hands on it. Squeezing the trigger carefully, releasing the compressed titanium alloy hook. Watching it rocket upwards, followed by strengthened cable line. Seconds later the gun kicked back against my hand hard. Pressing the small button just under the trigger, I began my vertical ascent.  Keeping still to keep the hook in its place, since the slightest movement could twist the cable releasing the hook early.

It took a little over a minute before I landed on the roof. Placing the grappling gun back in its holster, before approaching the locked rust-covered metal plate. Bending down some, I quickly unlocked it with the custom-made octagonal key. Lifting the hatch before heading inside. Making sure to lock the hatch behind me, with the same quickness I unlocked it. Automatically turning on the lights inside. Rapidly blinking, I walked forward carefully descending the rotted warped wooden stairs. Doubting the strengthening gel I bombed the building with before I left had kicked in fully. Still hearing the subtle creek of the wood every few stairs, I walked. Testing each stair down as I enter the third floor.  Walking on the ancient cracked stained linoleum floor, to the second door on the left wall. Pressing a small button in the center of my built, to activate the PhasTek in my clothes. Letting it create a tickle like vibration throughout my body, walking forward through the unyielding steel door.

Quickly turning off the PhasTek, the motion activated light turned on. Keeping my back to the room as removed my coat setting on a nearby hook. Removing the wrist-wrapped multi-purpose gadget bands, that held my stun batons, Obscura tech, and various non-lethal pellet grenades. Setting them down on a wide side table by my coat, before removing my belt keeping them together. Turning around, seeing a small faded tan box had been placed on my medium sized bed. With a slight suspicion, I inspected the box slowly. Turning it in my hand, feeling around for traps. After several minutes of finding nothing, I opened the box. Finding something unexpected, a thick handwritten paper contract. This client must have money to burn, given the high cost of making paper.  Pulling it out, I read it slowly. Surprised by the soft slightly rough texture of the paper. By the time I finished reading it, I had some answers and a lot of questions for this particular client. Reaching into the bottom of the box, finding a rectangular piece of plastic about the length of my thumb. Pulling it out, I saw it was narrow then I expected barely wider than my pinkie finger. Somehow it rotated open, splitting it almost in half as it doubling its length. The entire thing was oddly smooth, not giving much indication of how to use it. Bringing it closer to my face I wondered which end I was supposed to talk into.

Without much warning, the pipe began to emit a rhythmic hum before a garbled voice came through. “To which thief who successfully completed the first contract, by reading the unedited paper contract you have unwittingly agreed to the terms. You will meet with a contact outside of the cryo-polis in the third layer of the abandoned Dead District,” pausing a brief second and releasing a bright but brief flash. “We have seen your face now, thief. Our contact will know your face. The meet will take place in the next twelve hours, there will be no extensions on time. Come alone thief,” was all it said before it fell silent.

Tossing it on the floor, I stomped on it. Hearing a snap as the thing was being crushed underfoot. Looking at the shattered remains I found little indication of who manufactured this highly illegal device. The circuits could be easily found on the various black markets of the city if you knew where to look and who to ask. Along with a small but sophisticated tracking chip that still had a slight glow to the dim red light attached at its top. Something about that made me suspicious about meeting anyone this client was associated with, but I doubted there was much choice. They had seen my face, and know where I lived, which means I could be found if I didn’t show. It seemed the contract was a written version of an ultimatum, with the recording being the enforcer.

With little choice, I gathered my things. Doing a quick check of their stock and charge before placing them back on my body. Bending down and pulling two medium-sized flat lock box out. Putting in the combination, along with my handprint opened it. While the thieves guild wasn’t a particular fan of lethal weapons. A trip into the Dead District required them given its reputation for taking in broken, barely legal cyborgs, mods, and androids. Taking out my silver short barreled stunning phaser, placing on the unopened lock box. Replacing it with a grey and silver Omni assault pistol, with an easy adjusting system and multi-use chipped ammo. Setting two full ammo clips under the holster, securing all of them with small leather straps. Looking at the other two guns I had in the box, having sincere doubt I would need their power. Grabbing the extension and amplifier rod for my batons instead. {impact amplifier brass knuckle/}Attaching it to my belt before shutting the box. Quickly opening the second one with a different combination, and handprint. Placing the phaser into its foam fitting before shutting it. Sliding both boxes under the bed before standing. Doing a quick check to make sure everything was secured, before grabbing my coat. Slinging it on over my shoulder to hide my weapons. Tightening the waist and shoulder level straps, buckling them to keep the unarmed illusion believable. Adjusting some before sliding on my boots.Feeling them tighten automatically around my ankles within seconds. Tapping the center of my belt once more, I walked back through the door. Deactivating the PhasTek once I was in the hallway. Sprinting up the stairs, knowing I would have to make a few stops before heading into the Dead District.

Jumping off the roof onto the building next door. Standing quickly before jumping onto the lid of the dumpster below. Grunting as I landed on the hardened plastic, making a considerable dent in the process. Swinging my legs over, I stepped on the trash littered ground.Noticing some of the larger clumps of trash move some when I got close. Assuming they were bums, I ignored the movement as I walked.  Being careful where I stepped as I made my way out of the alley. Stepping onto the cracked, rough sidewalk. Noticing the number of abandoned antique cars had grown some, in the time I was in the upper city. The rich still using the lower levels of their city as a private dump for things that had lost their recyclability. Even the most talented Breakers wouldn’t attempt to salvage the cars, almost as if they were art from a past. Running my fingers over the cold, polished metal of the nearest one, I tried to understand the sentiment behind keeping these things intact. Finding nothing in the feeling of the metal against my fingers. Turning the corner into a wave of people going the other direction. Pushing my way through the throng, like rolling stone.

After twenty minutes of walking, I turned left into an alley wedged between two storefronts. Keeping to the right side of the alley, with one store in particular in mind for my stop. Pushing the second door open gently, releasing a slight bell tone upon my entrance.Finding the wall covered with various types of rifles, and shotguns. Some were obvious in their design about what ammo they could fire, others not so. Walking past long metal shelves stocked with ammo, I approached the glass counter. Seeing handguns, knives, and batons on lighted displays through the glass. Tapping the bell on the counter, I waited for the clerk to come out from the back. The wait was brief as a short, stocky man walked out from the back of the store. Bringing with him the distinctive smell of cigar smoke, and gunpowder. A dark blue cybernetic lens, in a pewter frame, was attached to his face. Covering up his eye, ears and some of the man’s nose. Wispy and thin hair made up a pathetic attempt at a greying beard. Stained clothes barely covered his frame, allowing his gut to stick out some. With a nasal shallow, he asked “What can I do for you,” looking at my clothes carefully, “ or the thieves guild?”

I responded “For the guild, nothing at the moment. To my knowledge, things have been paid up on both sides. However, for me, I need a powerful gun designed to disable cyborgs, mods and other partially mechanical things I may encounter in the Dead District. Preferably with a variable discharge setting, as a precaution. Keeping my All Assault pistol as a heavier back-up if it needed.”

 

The man twirled a few hairs in his beard, humming some in thought. “I may have some guns that may interest you, but since your destination is the Dead District transportation is a challenge to consider. That rules out anything too heavy or requires assistance in order to use it. Given the thieves guild’s preference for avoiding taking lives, several weapons I think may interest you. Including three traditional shocker round capable weapons, two laser rifles with rechargeable cells, and one plasma-based compact semi-auto. All of which have a variable setting system built into them. Keep in mind, the legality of possessing some of them is a jailable offense,” he commented. Reaching over with his left hand, placing his fingers under the counter hitting something I couldn’t see. “Follow me to the back, my friend,” walking back some as he talked.

Leaping over the counter carefully, I followed him. Seizing the release button on my baton, as a precaution. Watching him open the back door, waiting for me to enter it first. In silence I walked into the back of the store, turning quickly as I entered. Waiting for the shopkeeper to show me the merchandise that he suggested. Still slightly suspicious this could be a trap, despite the store’s experience with the guild. The door slammed before being locked from this side. Watching closely as the merchant walked to a set of stacked black crates set off to the left of the door.Pulling out three crates in silence, waiting mere seconds in between to make a decision as if something was scanning the crates; contents. Setting them on the ground a few steps behind him, waving me over with a finger. Releasing the lids from behind, forcing them to slide back before lifting the merchandise from the inside. 

The merchant commented “The semi-auto is inside the crate at your left. While the shocker round capable pistols are in the crate to your right. Leaving the rechargeable laser rifles in the center. Feel free to lift any of, get the feel of the weapon. Just don’t try to fire any of them, I’m not stupid enough to keep them loaded,” chuckling to himself.

Grabbing the plasma SMG first, thinking the extra ammo could be useful. Pulling the back end out to release the extendable stock. Bracing it against my right shoulder, before placing my hand on the secondary handle. Peering down the sight, to get some idea of how accurate my aiming would be in a firefight. Noticing the sites were slightly off each other, but otherwise, the gun was good condition. I asked, “Where does the charge cell get placed since it feels like the modulation system is where the secondary handle is?”

The merchant answered “Both standard and overcharged cells go in under the sliding stock, at an angle. Locked in place by a small part built into the stock. Given how many shots you can get out of one cell, it is efficient if not crude design. There is cell storage built into the right side of the gun for quick loading.”

I nodded, before setting the gun back inside its crate. Grabbing a shocker capable pistol, with a textured plastic grip. Noticing a small laser sight under the barrel, hiding in a small plastic tube. It had a secondary sight on the top, as a backup. A small gray knob set near the bottom of the grip, I assumed controlled the charge built inside the bullets. Easy to change with a finger as the situation changes. It weighed a little more than the phaser I usually carried. Given their similar designs, I wasn’t particularly shocked by that. Gripping it with both hands, I aimed it at the wall. “I will take one of these, along with at least four magazines of shocker ammo prefilled and a waist holster,” lowering the gun as I commented.  

The merchant smirked some, “That is an excellent if not the slightly expected choice. Keep in mind this gun can be lethal to those who are more flesh than a machine. Take your shots carefully, thief or the law will be on your tail. Now follow me back to the more public storefront and wait. I will gill the ammunition and holster,” walking back to the door.

I followed, keeping the gun in one hand. Letting it sway some as I walked around to the front counter. Setting it on the scratched up glass, waiting for him to gather the shocker rounds. Tapping the tips of fingernails upon it, I checked the time carefully. Doubting I had spent much time here, but given the high levels of paranoia, the client displayed I would prefer not to take my chances being late.

The merchant had sweat on his brow by the time he returned with two boxes of ammo, two magazines, and the holster I requested. While the holster wasn’t what I expected, the cloth pouch attached to the underside of the holster would be useful and convenient. It should be easy to hide under my coat, and easy to pull the gun if needed. I watched the merchant load both magazines by hand, with quick fingers. His cybernetic lense keeping contact with me in the process. Removing the magazine in the guns handle and loading it as he completed loading the other two magazines. Sliding it back into place before lifting it into the air, shaking it a few times before setting back onto the counter.

“That should be enough ammo for your trip, given the magazines eighteen round capacity apiece. Given the reputation and controversy of the All-Assualt pistol, you should survive your journey into the dead district,” pushing most of the items I requested over to me. “Your total for today’s transaction is two-thousand crypto-bits.  Are you paying on the books, or of them today thief,” he asked with a degree of bluntness.

I responded “Off them. This is a private contract of sorts, that came from a first time client of the guild,” pulling an unmarked thin transparent card from my pocket. Handing it to the merchant, to scan. “There is more than enough in this account to cover the cost., and buy the proper discretion.”

The merchant smirked some, before scanning the card. Not saying much more as the transaction was completed. Handing me the card back before I placed the holster on my belt, holding the one side of my coat aside for the moment. Feeling it lock into place letting go of my coat to cover it.With a slight nod, I began to walk out of the store. Heading towards my secondary destination, a large vehicle warehouse the guild owned.

Fortunately, it was a quick walk there, as I saw the wire fence appear on the horizon. Guarding the old brick building inside with its silent presence. A few low ranking members of the guild walked around the building in groups of two. Armed with low wattage shock staffs, and phasers, if my memory of my time as one of them was accurate.They dressed in gray clothing, that offered little in the way of protection but did give them anonymity. Holding my head high, I approached through the only hole in the fence. The two closest by sprinted towards me a tight grip on their staffs. Stopping I waited for them to get within earshot, before saying anything. Observing a few nervous finger taps of both guards as they stopped. Small beads of sweat dripped down their faces, leaving a slight trail of moisture I could see despite their hoods.

The one on the right asked “Things are fine here, which is why I don’t understand your presence. There has been no memo about a contract needing a vehicle from here. Why are you Acolyte Acomi,” bowing their head slightly as they finished speaking. 

“It is obvious why I am here. The contract I’m currently on was expanded after I fulfilled the completion of the original. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to berate both of you for your impeding my job. Now, tell the one who hides inside to expect company, and to begin readying motorcycles for me to choose from,” I responded.

Slightly awestruck they stared at me before I around them. Allowing them to resume their patrols, as I walked. Pushing the door open with some annoyance as I entered. Seeing rows of cars, motorcycles both in various colors, and styles. Sorted by the qualities that made them different. Walking over to the motorcycle area, I scanned each one with a quick glance. Looking for one with high maneuvering capabilities, speed, and an auto-piloting system. Turning around when I heard footsteps approaching me. Seeing the footsteps belonged to women who dressed in grease-stained coveralls. The top of which was tied off at the waist, revealing a tight white tank top that covered petite breasts. Her head was almost fully shaved, as she looked at me with cybernetic green eyes. A grease-stained ratchet swinging freely in her left hand. While a flexible cuff mini-computer rested in a black plastic shell.

 

“Keep your hands where they are thief, these vehicles are like my children. Break them, and I will break you,”her voice more childlike than her appearance would suggest. “Now what are you looking for?”

“Preferably a motorcycle with high maneuverability, that is fast and has an auto guidance system capable of extended use. Nonlethal weapon attachments would be useful as well,” I remarked.

“That I can do, but it will be something military based. Based on your needs, I would suggest the XR-3VUmach8 or the HD-NR86. Both are quick as a rocket and are able to go through weaker structures with enough momentum. Complete with lightweight armor plating, and an incredibly low profile. I believe both are equipped with a short-range gel gun as well, but that I’m not sure how operational it is, or if it has ammunition preloaded. Give me a few minutes to do a quick diagnostic before you leave,” she said.

I nodded, trusting her knowledge given my guess as to what her job was here. Noticing her begin walking backward, keeping her gaze focused on me. Seeming to know every vehicle’s location with barely a glance at the ones she passed. Making a slight assumption she was leading me towards the two vehicles she mentioned, I began to follow her. Hearing someone groan before shouting “Finally,” followed quickly by the sound of a motor coming to life. She chuckled some continuing to walk. Resisting the urge to roll my eyes I continued to follow her.

It took about ten minutes of walking before stopping between two bikes. The one on the right had two curved carbon fiber rods extending from the painted blue arches above the two thin front wheels. Connecting to an arched plate above a larger back wheel. Reinforced smart tech was clearly built the protective glass above the carbon fiber rods. Layered angler plating ran along the front wheels and sides, giving it almost a battering ram look. A short but wide barrel erupted near the top of the platting. I assumed it belonged to the weapon system built into this specific bike.  While the other was a little more spread out, with a singular large wheel at both ends. Giving the body a slight angle as it met in the middle. Both wheels were shelled by a bent metal plate with small spikes protruding out of them. Layered plates formed a protective shell where the driver would sit. Sharing a steeper angle than the middle as they met more towards the back. Attached to the right side was a pipe that extended past the front wheel. I assumed it was part of the gel cannon system that was built into it. Both seemed well equipped and durable enough to survive a journey into the dead district without incident. I watched as the mechanic girl bent down near the motorcycle on the right, pulling a thin cord from her minicomputer and plugging it in. Lighting up the small screen on her wrist as she worked. The computer doing most of the work as she waited, tapping at the screen every once in awhile. With patience and silence, I waited, hoping this wouldn’t take long.

 

Another ten minutes passed before she said “Both bikes are in optimum working condition, yet they are low on ammo. Unfortunately, I don’t believe we have any on hand. I’m not even sure they even manufacture it much anymore since the technology was never cost effective. In theory, they could be replaced with immobilization foam rounds but they aren’t common on the black market. The HD-NR86 is the one on the left, while the XR-3VUmach8 is one the right. Which one would prefer to borrow since both are fully charged?”

Glancing at both bikes, before I answered “ I believe the XR should get me to my destination within the time frame I was given. Along with surviving any encounter I have to deal with on the way,” choosing to keep my destination private. Knowing I had about eleven hours to get there and meet with this mysterious client.

The mechanic nodded before pulling a small fragile looking plastic thing from her pocket that was barely larger than my thumb.Tossing it to me without much effort. Catching it with an open palm, with quick reflexes not sure how fragile this thing was. Running a finger over it as I approached the XR. Bending down slightly to peek at the controls inside.Seeing a blank screen rested over in between the supporting pipes. The screen looked like it was recently cleaned, as a slight filmy residue remained on it. A compact simple metallic silver steering system came up at a steep angle. The steering system was slimmed down, only having inward curving pieces resembling a crescent. A small vibrant red button contrasted with the silver on the top of the right crescent. I assumed that was how to trigger the gel gun system that was built into the bike. Two unlabeled buttons were built into the upper part of the left crescent. Matching two unlabeled buttons that were installed just under the red button on the right crescent. An open-faced silver helmet rested cracked open, revealing a thin black patch circuit board. Two silver circles were placed near the bottom of the circuit board connected by a silver line. Placed about where the neck would rest against while on the driver seat. Another set of silver lines ran upward to another set of silver circles. My guess was a basic neural piloting interface that was built into the helmet afterward at some point. Given the steering system and the autopilot system, I had to wonder why they wasted the tech.

The mechanic said “You can engage autopilot and brakes from the left. The XR has two cycles based engine, which is what is the buttons on the right side turn on in stages. Standard ignition activation is on the top, while the hyper charger activation is on the bottom. Try to limit the hyper charger use, it runs hot and will shut down the engine entirely if it is used in excess. While the helmet is your choice, I would only advise its full use if the autopilot is active.The built-in neural interface is functional but, works best to induce a brief REM sleep cycle which it looks like you could use. I have been trying to upgrade it. However, the work is tedious and time-consuming since the idiots who put in the helmet locked the bolts with a strong adhesive.”

I didn’t feel tired but if it was noticeable to her, then the client I was meeting would notice it too. Assuming she right, I brief respite would be practical to me. Giving me a more professional appearance before meeting my client. Carefully getting into the XR, I leaned back into the seat. Feeling the contour and cushion of the seat, surprised it was firm and soft simultaneously.  Providing some lumbar support as I leaned my head into the helmet. Turning on the autopilot and the touch screen once I got comfortable. The touchscreen illuminated itself once my finger touched it, causing the black to change to blue. Bringing a simple labeled menu onto the screen, that was embodied in thin white trim. In descending order the tabs read, maps, radio, information, and settings. Tapping the maps button, it quickly brought up a search system and a virtual keyboard. Typing cryo-polis and Dead District into the search bar, and then waiting a few minutes for it to load directions. A small box popped onto the screen with two options. The first being autopilot, while the one below read manual.  Tapping the first option, a small white loading circle appeared on the screen. Waiting silently as the directions were uploaded to the autopilot system.  Placing the small plastic thing the mechanic girl tossed me, into the small opening under the left side of the steering system. Forcing a weak purr to erupt out of the electric engine as it was brought to life. Bringing the rest of the motorcycle’s online in the process. Seizing the sides of the steering system, lightly tapping to the top button the right side once. Turning the electric engine onto its lower capacity, before carefully maneuvering the bike out of its spot. Continuing to navigate carefully around the various other vehicles nearby before leaving the building and the surrounding area.

Tapping the autopilot button after I believed I was far enough away, to not be followed. Letting the helmet seal around my head tightly. Surprised when a tinted dark yellow glass dropped down over my eyes. Feeling a slight shock on the back of my neck as I began to slowly drift off. Letting the autopilot operate as I slept. On the beginning of my journey into the Dead District.


As always, thanks for reading. Any comments or thoughts on the story please post below, are greatly appreciated.

 

 

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Genres, or just concepts?

While this is clearly opinion, there are times that seem that way.  Maybe it is because the more I write, the more I like a challenge when it comes to building worlds and stories. Taking two ideas that have little to nothing in common, and combining them to see what I can come up. I doubt I’m the first to arrive at this conclusion either, as traditional literature and graphic novels reflect that. Whether it be traditional novels like The Shannara Chronicles, Her Majesty’s Dragon, 11/22/63, and others. Even in graphic novels, this is more apparent as series like Saga, The Surrogates, Cancertown, Monsteress, and more. Both sides taking elements of fantasy, science fiction, horror, detective stories, and other genres, combining them and building spectacular stories in the process.

Does anyone else agree, with this trend? Do you disagree? Let me know what you think, in the comments below.

Can Magic be Genetic but Commonplace?

As I was working on one my  Steampunk/magic concept story, I began to realize this would be something I would have to consider as I build the world. While the question may seem like a paradox in the making, there are ways to work around it. Making everyone have innate magic capabilities, but their natural potential for it differs. Allowing me to do two things that contrast and complement each other.

The first being a symbolic/rune-based magic with everyday machines. Creating objects with an internal charge, that can be activated with a specific phrase.Forcing the notion that magic is a common idea, that a world can be built around both it as the technology of the world changes.

Yet at the same time allowing the creation of extremely personalized weapons, and other items that work on the principal of a genetic/magical signature. That can be used with or without a phrase. Which complements and contrasts vastly with the notion of magic being commonplace.

Given how oddly well those two ideas seem to work together, the issue now becomes about potency.  However, that seems to be the reason these two ideas work together. Those that have a higher potency for magic will get more training and tutoring in learning how to use their magical capabilities. While those that have lower potentials, get the basic knowledge they can use in their everyday lives. Creating a system that forces both to cooperate with each other to keep their civilization working.

Does anyone else agree with me, on this notion? Should it work despite the contrasts? Please comment if you have anything to say.

WEP Oct 2017 “Dark places” challenge

 


I awoke surrounded by darkness. The sound of slowly dripping water echoed around the darkness. With a great struggle, I failed to move anything but, my aching head on a cold, wet stone. Trying to recall how I got here, only to find a sea of drinks before the darkness appeared in my memories.

The sound of deep, drumbeats began to echo from somewhere off in the distance. Turning my head, I tried to locate the source. Beginning to see a ghastly green light entering from the left side of the area. Suddenly, the chamber began to illuminate from around me. Forcing shades of orange, blue, and green to reveal a large ancient looking cavern. It appeared as if something was carved onto the walls, but the details were difficult for me to see. Keeping my gaze locked on the approaching light, I began to see its source. A swarm of strange, humanoid figures carrying tall staff like torches walked towards me. Patchwork, tan hooded robes covered them from head to toe.

They all stopped a few footsteps from me. Beginning to move around until they formed a circle. In a language, I couldn’t understand they started to whisper in a strange dialect. Starting to slowly rotate the circle, as the whisper got louder. Rotating faster the louder they got, quickly becoming a blur. I shouted at them to no avail.

After a few minutes the chamber once again fell dark for. Moments later a ghastly, transparent giant eldritch figure stood at my feet. Noticing small concentrated orbs of white light where the joints would be a human, giving it the appearance of a living constellation. Its features giving it a hideous visage, and a twisted demonic multi-toothed grin. Soulless, black eyes looked down at me. Watching me struggle against my bindings in a fear-drenched sweat.

Strange worm-like appendages began to erupt from the things body. The tips of each one consumed by rows of teeth.Screaming in agony as the tentacles latched onto my entire body. Somehow flooding me with images of a dark, strange ancient looking world. Slender humanoid looking creatures seemed to populate the world’s cities. Their faces an ugly blend of a worm, squid, and fish features. Narrow interconnected tentacles made up their feet and arms. Living in monolithic cities of stone, and wood under cloudless dark grey skies. Effigies of alien-like beings watched over the edges of each city. Standing on tall walls of pale stone. Peering inside and outside the city with connected faces.

The images faded into black, as a sense of empty bliss began to fill my body. A hypnotizing rhythmic tone blowing through my mind, repeating itself every few seconds. Lulling me into a state somewhere between sleep and consciousness. Flashing vivid images of humanity’s ancestors arriving at the stone city. Taking over the city by the spear point, slaughtering the city’s original inhabitants. Bathing the city in a river of green blood, as screams of agony and battle echoed in my head. I looked up at the strange eldritch being, in disgust at the barbaric nature of my ancestors. Beginning to wonder if I was here as an act of penance on behalf of humanity. It seemed oblivious to my gaze, force-feeding more images into my head.

Beginning to feel disoriented and weak as three of the robbed beings approached me.Standing on either side of the stone platform, twisted curving blood-stained daggers in tentacle-like hands. One standing above my head, only their outreached hands visible. Their gazes locked onto the eldritch being. Almost as if they were waiting for something to happen.

I watched helplessly as three more worm things shot from the things body. These ones were incredibly narrow compared to the others. Even possessing the strange light that was in the things body, that ended in a sharp needle-like protrusion. Managing to penetrate the heads of this thing’s summoners.Forcing a brief full-body spasm, before they started emitting a low-pitched cry. The cavern filling once again with the strange chant.

Mere moments later in unison movements, the daggers were plunged into my body. I screamed out in a mixture of surprise and pain. Feeling the bliss shoot out of my body, as blood began to crawl out of my wounds. Screaming again as the daggers plunging was repeated. Creating new wounds, and more pain.

Beginning to see a strange almost blinding white light appear on the cave’s ceiling. For reasons beyond my understanding, it was drawing me towards it. Emptying my body of all feeling, as it extracted my essence.Holding it within itself as I looked down at my dead body. Seeing that I wasn’t the first victim of this strange cult, nor did I believe I would be the last. Finally giving myself fully to the light, as the last flicker of my existence gave way.


Critique level: Full

Word Count: 807

Comments?

I keep asking for comments and don’t seem to be getting any. Which I don’t grasp why? Is my comment section not easy to use, or is it something else? How can I improve it, so it works on both ends of the site?

Any help in this matter is much appreciated. Thanks.