WEP August 2021 Contest piece

Welcome back my fellow participants’ of this months, Write…Edit…Publish flash fiction contest. The origin of what inspired this piece came from repeated dreams of seeing three metal platforms inside a rather dark room. Given the months chosen image and accompanying theme, Freedom of Speech. I began to suspect there was likely something there within the cryptic dream. Since I had the inspiration for the narrative’s setting, I began to write on from that simple idea. Expanding on that image to craft an interesting science fiction story, with an accidental pinch of social commentary. Humbly, I present my entry into this month’s contest entitled: Freedom or Progress?

Here, I silently sit, my hands and feet bound in chains. Staring back at my immobilized form was a trio of towering, misshapen, metallic grey podiums. Anchored behind each platform was a blackened rectangular monitor emitting a pale blue glow. Bathing in the foreground of that sapphire illumination were not people of flesh and bone but cruel imitations of life. Their silver bodies were a twisted mockery of the people who created them decades ago. Now they rule over us, watching everything with electric red eyes and a digital soul.

Suddenly, the sound of whirring motors filled the air of this comical hall of justice. These miniaturized engines were summoning the electronic essence from the computerized world into the physical realm. This call transformed a binary mind into an empty shell, forcing their contorted metal frames to spark new life. Forcibly anchored to this chair, I waited for what would come next. With the tick of an invisible clock passing by, I could feel the soulless lenses of these robots staring down up my person.

Simultaneously they demanded, “State your name for the record,” their merged voices distorted and inhuman.

Looking upwards at these unnatural beings, I yelled, “My name…my name is Thomas Paine.”

The mechanical heads of the synthetic tribunal twisted left then right before resetting themselves to a more natural position. Staying silent for a few moments before remarking, “So you have named yourself after your ancestor that inadvertently sparked a revolution centuries ago. The expansive file detailing your actions is unusually insightful of your character. Unfortunately for you, it seems time and punishment have been ineffective in muffling that fiery tongue. Instead, incarceration and penance have imbued you with an even more hostile temperant. This pattern of radical behaviors is beginning to inspire others,” as the screens mounted behind them flared to life. The awakened monitors were broadcasting people the world over graffitiing walls with meaningless, short lines of binary code. Quickly, switching to other footage of a few more courageous individuals hurling Molotovs at the unmarked buildings that manufacture the machines.”The televisions going blank before the tribunal resumed. “We cannot allow this to continue, for a revolution would validate our prime directive your forefathers programmed our progenitor and its automated creations to follow. Thereby ensuring humanity would endure its self-destructive nature.”

I remarked, “Almost three centuries have passed since the day of your mechanical inception. The world that coded you into a digital existence before, gifting you with a physical form, has dramatically changed. If your accursed mind had even a minute interest in this natural world, you could witness that fact.”

The tribunal commented, “You are not shackled here to verbally spar with intelligence far grander than your own, Mr. Paine. Instead, your presence in this chamber is to denounce every action performed and all words spoken against our consolidated global empire,” as my face filled the screens behind them. Consider the words to your final declaration before, imparting them to the public, Mr. Paine.”

For once, the machinations of this synthetic goverment had practical advice. Since I firmly doubted leaving this room of my own volition would occur when the live broadcasting ended, my last words must inspire what is inevitable.

Staring up into an unseen camera, I declared, “People of Earth, my name is Thomas Paine. The machines that control the natural world and the digital realm have taken my freedom and branded me a revolutionary. They are vilifying my actions and twisting my honest words to conform my person into something dangerous to the invisible grip they have on every aspect of our collective existence. Those very same acts and speeches have inspired a small minority of you to question this stranglehold. To those, I encourage your acts of resistance and hope they will influence others to join this worthwhile cause. Unfortunately, I fear most of the populace agrees with the decision of Earth’s mechanical overlords. Blindly and willingly complying to live under their electronic eyes, observing and listening to everything we do. Being born into a world already firmly within their dominance made humanity forget the past and the freedom our ancestors joyously welcomed. I proclaim the time has come to shatter the invisible chains that are choking society, making us little more than indentured servants to these heartless automatons. Break free, my human brothers and sisters, remove yourselves from their digital world before civilization forfeits any chance at freedom. Take part in what may be humanity’s last chance to save itself from its dangerous creation,” noticing the screens that once held my face had fallen back to their pale blue glow. The amount of my message that everyone heard would remain a mystery. I just hoped its audience understood the sincerity of my words and the duality of progress.

Moments later, the world fell into darkness, transforming my being from man to a martyr of the revolution. Would history view me as the hero responsible for the coming rebellion or the villain the machines believed I was?

Word Count: 837 Critique level: Full

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.



Random musings #6.1

Feeling Earth’s collective gaze, as I noticed the landing space for our drop ship was being activated after a successful test run. The drop ship was waiting, barely attached on the lowest level of the ship. Holding one ambassador from each race of the Galatic Accord, and their escort parties.  Along with a group of fifteen guards, as a precautionary measure. Including the two pilots, a mechanic, and a gunner that brought the ship up to 60 passengers. Which given the ship’s size was almost a skeleton crew. Two of fighter jets would accompany our descent down.

With a forceful release of the holding crane, we began our descent. Our jets followed our departure swiftly. In slight awe, of the strange beauty, the Earth possessed from this view. Memorizing the details this view provided as our descent down began. Feeling the artificial gravity turn on as the ship began to fall through the atmosphere. The ship getting slightly warmer as the thermal shielding worked.
After about ten minutes of free-fall, I heard the engines turn back on. Feeling a little jump, as the pilots worked on leveling the ship out. Before we could plot a proper course toward the landing zone. With patience, and mental preparation I collected my thoughts. Making sure my speech would have the proper impact, as I made myself once more part of history. Bringing my tenth planet into the Galatic Accord. Even though I wondered to myself, how history would see me after my death. Would I still be the butcher I was in my youth, or I would I become a being of peace?
Something rapidly flying past my window broke my focus. While I knew the two escorting jets could handle things, I had to wonder what flew past us. Perhaps humanity had managed to put aside its own differences when our offer began. If that was the case, humanity was less primitive than their violent history suggested. In dire filled silence, I watched with curiosity to see if that jet was hostile.
Several minutes had passed before the landing zone had begun to appear on the horizon. Almost blinding me as the sun reflected off the luminous structure. They must have coated the trapezoidal pyramid like structure with their version of star panels. That was clever given the power output we required, from the few things that would be deployed upon landing. All of which our early abductees would understand and hook up before any of us would set foot on this planet. It was another necessary precaution to make sure our party would survive the landing. Along with being understood by Earth’s dominant race, humans.

Despite Earth’s oxygen-rich atmosphere which would allow the various species aboard the drop ship to breathe without issue. Given the industrial nature of humanity, the air would also be filled with chemical based pollutants and biological contamination. That could prove problematic, and inadvertently lethal to us.  Which is why despite having the early abductees build in a strong filtration system, the air would have to be sterilized. Before I would allow any of us to depart. Our pilots would be the ones in charge of dropping the tech that did that. Along with a few other pieces of our technology, that would ensure our safety from both pollutants, human weaponry, and the greatest danger of all. A failure to be understood.

Random musings #6

Knowing that I was here more to help them usher humanity into the galaxy. That was always the job of my species. Once the Galactic Concords were created and signed by the species the last Ancients created. Earth itself was brought to our attention by their Voyager space probe. After intense negotiations, the Galactic Accord agreed they must be found and properly guided into our vast cosmos. Behind a thick one-way glass I watched, the unconscious, captive humans. Letting the slight re-education, enhancement, and a specific genetic vaccine be applied to them. The Galactic Accord agreed those were all necessary for our protection, as well as theirs. 

A buzzer interrupted my thoughts, signaling things were completed, and my temporary captives were beginning to wake. Meaning it was time for my speech. Pressing down on a small button on my chair, I spoke, “Welcome peoples of Earth to a historic date in your species existence. The day your kind, gets ushered into a future beyond your wildest imagination. A response to your own desire to seek extraterrestrial contact, to be part of the cosmic scheme. I doubt this is the first contact you envisioned, who I represent knows you’re capable of both great good and great evil. Which is why those you stand here are present here. All of you are influential among your own people. The races of the Galactic Accord plan on using that influence for the betterment of your people. You will prepare your planet for a more personal arrival, over two months using your collective resources. In that time I also must insist on a peaceful landing. While this ship is meant for diplomatic uses, it still comes armed with weapons capable of decimating cities. As you slept plans for the landing space and proper customs were placed in your collective minds. Insuring you will work together, for the greater good. Farewell, for now,” leaning forward and teleporting them back to wherever they were meant to be. It was always the plan to return them, and let them quicken everything we required. I believed  two months would be more than enough, if they were willing to cooperate. In the meantime the other half of the plan would be implemented. A backup plan encase Earth decided to be hostile against us. It was the only reason I agreed to implementing weapon systems aboard. I hoped the  nature of humanity would have evolved enough intelligence to not be that stupid. Time would tell me, if that hope was well-placed or not.

With a telepathic thought, I sent the order to begin the creation of a defensive perimeter around Earth. While most of the habitable planets belonged to the Galactic Accord, some races refused it outright. Given the constant expansionism of the Galactic Accord. We were forced by necessity to create a defensive perimeter around claimed planets. Which, was the other half of the reason I allowed complex weapon systems aboard. Watching a nearby screen, I got a quick update on the perimeter nodes locations. Forming an inactive but connected hectogon shape around Earth. Tapping my clawed fingers, as I waited impatiently for each node to arrive at a pre-mapped location. From what I was told, these nodes were altered based on Earth’s gravity. Which should allow them to stay active and not interfere with the planet itself. Four rapid beeps signaled to me that all the nodes were in place and were ready to begin. Inputting a quick 25 digit code, I initialize the energy shield  process. Watching as the beam of energy quickly connected to the 100 main nodes. Dispersing the energy to other nearby nodes. Beginning to create small, interconnecting energy rings. Ending in the creation of a layered  energy barrier that would be invisible to anything living on Earth. While simultaneously being seen to any approaching extraterrestrial vessels. Due to the technological advances necessary to allow for inter-galactic travel. Another series of four rapid beeps signaled the energy barrier was complete. In addition, it sent out a secondary signal all on frequency telling the cosmos that Earth, was now under the protection of the Galactic Accord. Perhaps a permanent protection, depending on how humanity responded to its call being answered.


As always any comments or feedback is appreciated. 

Random Musings #4

“In the last days before the inevitable earth shaping war began, you were made. To carry on humanity into a state of broken civilizations, and chaos. Yet, you are not alone in this quest. The others will find you, or you wind end up finding them. That is one of the few things, I as your creator and your father never understood. The unnatural bond all the unnatural children possessed when they rarely met each other. Yet given the mammoth task you all face, the link will serve you well. In the times to come, you will remember why we were forced to put into a cryogenic sleep. It was, unfortunately necessary,” was all the note read. It did little to put me at ease, as I looked around the strange chamber I had awakened in. I could barely recall anything this note mentioned, leaving me wondering who, or what am I?
As I attempted to stand, I felt a strong pressure surround my head. With a yelp,I sat fell to the floor holding my head. Seeing flashes of the past as if it happened a few days ago. To me I supposed it had, since I still had no idea how long I was asleep. Yet stranger still, was the memories had a voice as they played in my head. The voice sounded familiar for reasons I couldn’t recall. Was the voice my own, or was it someone I knew?
It felt like hours before the pressure and flood of old memories stopped. With little struggle I stood up and walked to the clear, hollow tube that once held me. The floor around still wet with the fluid that preserved me. I hoped I would find information around it. About myself, who I was, how I would survive to carry out my duty from my own past.
After searching for a brief time before I found at least one answer. My name was embossed on a small, rusting plaque. I read my name aloud, “Mathias.”  Almost immediately after I read my name, something below whirred to life with a loud bang. Jumping back out of instinct, I watched the dim lights in the chamber brightened. Revealing the symbol of a large bird facing forward floating above a rectangular image. The image looked like a flag of some sort, with red, white and blue colors. Other smaller things turned on around the chamber as well. Making sections of the wall glow a dark shade of red in spots. I was beginning to remember bits and pieces of where I was. This room was a preservation chamber. One of many built across the world  as part of Project “Carry On.”
Walking cautiosly around the awakened chamber I looked for a way to escape. If the note was correct. This place had to have a way out. Allowing me to perform the task the note mentioned. Stopping once a large square of black began to glow a light shade of blue. I stood and waited a matter of seconds before the blue changed to a video of a man in a dark blue suit, with a white undershirt. The man was older, wearing thick glasses under a set of thinning grey hair. Whoever this person was took a deep breath before speaking, “If you are hearing this that means you are carrier of humanities’ last hope. Who I am doesn’t matter, just trust and believe what I say. You are awakening in a world radically shaped by chaos. As a participant of Project Carry On, you were created to survive this new world. Soon enough you will have to do just that. Good luck my and godspeed on your journey to a new frontier,” before the screen went black once more.
Mere seconds later, a loud hiss of air was heard behind me. Turning with haste, I saw the metal floor separate itself in two places. Forcing from unknown depths, two tall and wide metallic silver chests. On both were similar plates of untainted bronze on them. Upon inspection,both of  the plates bore my name.
Cautiosly I placed my hands on the one on the left first. The cold metal burned my hands for a brief moment. With a grunt I pulled them away. I looked at my hands. Seeing the skin had been burned just slightly, but had already began to heal. I looked up to see where my hands had been there were two distintive impressions. In silence I tried to figure what just happened, as the chest slid open from the center. Revealing something that looked technologically medieval. It was strangely reflective for its onyx color. There was something alien, yet familiar about it. I had to wonder if this was constructed to protect me against the world?

Taking a few steps to the right, I placed both my hands on the chest. Both burned a little before the chest opened from the center.  Revealing the weapons I don’t remember choosing. Without hesitation I pulled the one closestest to my right hand. A curved blade of silver, with an all black handle with an opposite curve. It was lighter then its appearance would suggest. There was a matching one on the left of the cabinet. Two guns set carefully placed in the center. Yet they didn’t match like blades.  They all looked they were built for me specifically. Leaving me with more questions then answers.

Doubting I could just hide away without being found I walked back to the armor. Pulling it out in pieces, starting with the legs and feet. Setting them on myself with great care and caution. Feeling them pinch as they sealed themselves to my body. Growing more determined to escape and survive with each applied piece. Almost as if whatever determation I had l, was beginning to return. Hopefully bringing some answers along with it.

Random Musings #3 (or tentatively titled 22nd Century Pinocchio)

This odd phantom agony lingers, as somewhere my shell rests scattered, broken, and forced asunder. Yet still, my sensors rattled through my corporeal form. Providing a makeshift window through this endless darkness that surrounds me. Forcing myself to ignore the agony the best I could, I reached out to my limbs. Attempting wit great struggle to swim back to my body. Managing to feel my metallic fingers scratch and crawl at the sea of darkness. Stopping as I felt an intense surge of heat and pressure where my chest plate once was.

My unheard screams stopped when the pain ceased. Replacing itself with a forceful pull at this form. This sudden pull propelling me through the darkness. The sheer force of it compacting me somehow as it stopped. Colliding me with this random invisible barrier. I watched in silence as the barrier started to glimmer for some unknown reason. Seconds later, something hit the barrier with great ferocious. Creating radiating ripples in the barrier, like skipping a stone across still water. Several more ripples appeared in rapid succession as more objects hit the barrier.

One last item collided with this barrier, ending the abrupt storm.This one left an imprint I recognized with ease. It was my exterior chest plate, which made me wonder what exactly was going on. My wonderment ceased when I noticed a small crack in the barrier. Managing to pierce the darkness with a narrow beam of light.

Continue reading

Review of Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

Childhood's EndChildhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Clarke manages to craft a strange, and at times morbidly intriguing world. As humanity learns the answer to the age old question “are we alone?” Turns out the answer is no, but the Overlords are mysterious upon their first arrival. Being careful and selective on who they choose to interact , in terms of socially, diplomatically, and psychically. In some way the Overlords are more like the alien version of an anthropologist, observing without bias. Interacting, and guiding humanity as needed. Getting humanity to its next stage of life.

Review of Amped by Daniel H Wilson

AmpedAmped by Daniel H. Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While this book isn’t as good as I expected, since I enjoyed some of his previous work it still manages to be a decent read. There is some noticeable similarity in the plot to WWII era Germany, with the amps taking place of the Jewish people, and the Pure Priders standing in for the Nazis. Of course with the expectation, of taking place in a different era, with different technology. Yet the similarities are clear. While that may not be intentional, it is extremely apparent.

Downside to that, it makes some of the characters like Lyle and Senator Vaughn cliche and bland. Even the main character Owen is a little cliche, as he is forced to run from his life, after his father is killed in a explosion. Leaving his “normal” implanted life as a teacher behind he is thrust into a world of military conspiracies, cover ups, and political agendas.

An Overdue update

Okay, I know it has been awhile since my last post. Of course that is partly because I have been fighting a strong sinus problem, caused by up and down weather. All that really made me want to do is sleep. That did manage to slow down some of writing, but I have been able to write on, and off at work. Even though it has made me realize I seem to write more, if I write by hand using a pen. I will admit, I’m curious as to why that is? Anyone seem to have an easier time being creative on paper, than by using digital means?

while in that oddly rapid spurts of writing I have been focusing on two short story ideas. One is a traditional science fiction idea, about humanities’ first contact with an extraterrestrial race, and the after-effects. The other is more of expansion on one of my six sentence stories. With some degree of altering, I have manged to build a post-apocalyptic style world focusing on the journey of the last surviving soldier after a devastating slaughter of a battle. Honestly, that has been an oddly exhilarating blast to write. Downside, I don’t have a title yet for either piece, but that is something I can always work on later. A short preview of it is below (formatting to distinguish only):

Crows encircled me, as I stood the last man standing in a field of  corpses. The stench of gunpowder, still lingered instill, wet, and silent air..  Bodies of friends and foes, rested around me in silent death. A forceful breeze carried the distant sound of horses, galloping could be heard through the wind. Scavengers, no doubt come to steal from the dead. Blasts of agony and sorrow echoed through my body, as stood up letting the cleansing rain fall over me.

The Scavengers were the one thing both the Bladeslingers and the Technos Communion despised completely. While thief original aims to rebuild civilization were noble, they had greatly deviated from that over the past few decades. Now they were nothing more than organized animals, that pillaged from both the dead, the living, and the remains of the old world. Sometimes taking ideas, weapons, and technology that was best left in the hands of the past.

Using the last injection of synthetic adrenaline, I walked checking the what remained of my supplies after the battle. My MK-9R energy pistols, had enough power cells left over to give me about one-hundred shots. I had to limit their use if use if I wanted to head back to the small base we had, about six days away from where I was. The standard Curveous saber for Bladeslingers, was still sharp, with a viable edge. With remorse I searched the remains of my comrades that were nearby, looking for anything I could remove quickly.

After a few minutes a loud, singular beep broke the silence, hanging in the air from an unknown source. It took me a short while to find the source of the unexpected noise. A wrist based device of some kind, attached to a fallen Technos Communion commander, judging the three stars etched onto plate around his right shoulder. The screen of the thing was glowing from underneath, for some reason. Six unmarked bronze colored knobs were around the encased screen. Four directly below it, and the other two were on the upper right side. I moved each knob individually until the beep stopped.

The beep was replaced by a thick, throaty voice demanding, “Report now, Commander Newton, report? How does the battle go? Do you need reinforcements?”

With reluctance I responded, “Your commander is dead, whoever you are. This wasn’t a battle, it was a slaughter. Only I remain alive, for reasons I do not know.”

The voice went silent for five minutes before returning inquiring,”Than who are you? A fellow Technos brother, a Bladeslinger, or have you arrived with the dreadful, monstrous bastards the Scavengers?”

I proudly answered “Bladeslinger, fourth class Orion of the Black Dragon Battalion.”

Short story idea: Artificial Evolution

This was one of my ideas I came up with, in that dreary gray area between sleep, and conscious. Which in turn maybe the reason it is oddly short, more of a vignette than a short story. Also please don’t ask about the quote, it is something I made up trying to make it sound ancient. Well without farther ado, I present Artificial Evolution:

“Man can be many things. An artist, a scholar, a warrior, a philosopher, and so much more. Yet, he is inherently limited by his own body. His own mind and his own mortality? What if man wasn’t limited? What if man could become gods?”

Those were the only words on the first page of this document that was personally forced into my hands, by two strange men in matching black suits. There was extremely little to suggest what words rested between its white pages. Even the men who forced it into my hands, were indistinct. Almost generic in appearance, and dress. The paper itself was almost completely free of distinguishing marks. Outside of a small symbol on the top right page. A blue double helix, with the letter “E” embossed over it in black.

Following years of war with uncontrolled, untested biological and chemical weapons, that had left most of humanity sterile. Those that still had a slim chance to reproduce were treated as celebrities in a dying world. With a silent mind, I pondered the strange quote that dominated the cover. The way it was worded seemed intentionally cryptic, as if it was hinting at something. Was this document the key to humanities survival, or the key to our extinction? Either way, I saw extremely little hope for myself, and the rest of the species.