[Fiction] Blunt Instruments

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The_Ren The_Ren's picture
[Fiction] Blunt Instruments

The following is about five or six edits into a first chapter. It's not that great (yet). It might be completely crap for all I know. Suggestions are welcome, please be polite with any criticism. I've never done anything like this outside of a classroom environment so far so i am kinda nervous about this. I also apologize if it comes off like a bad movie script (apparently I've had that problem in the past....) Thanks for reading this. And any help you decide to give me.

the story name is "Blunt Instruments", which i chose over "Delete Key" as being too pretentious. If anybody can suggest a better one I'll take it (but I'll also be the judge). ^_^

Please comment! I want to know how you feel about it!
[Edit] Better yet. PM me. I'm going to be posting more here and it'll make it easier to read if its not all mucked up by random posts between segments. Thanks.
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Date: March/23/8 AF (After Fall)
Location: The Hive

[Good Morning Vietnam,] pounded into my brain at a volume only this particular ancient actor could commit. Although the volume wasn’t what woke me, it was the interruption. A subtle shift in tones turned the voice from Robin Williams to my masculine voice from youth. [It’s now seven in the morning ship time and you’re waking up to the dulcet tones of Mad World from the movie Donnie Darko, circa the nineteen nineties!]

“Oh for the love of god Delta. Snooze,” I moaned into the white silk sheets of my gel pad of my bed as I rolled over onto my stomach and pulled the old fashion pillow over my head. The white silk pillowcase slid smoothly over my skin. “I never should have made a delta fork of a youthful version of myself for my muse… I miss my old muse. Hell if you really were a youthful version of myself you’d be far lazier.”

[I am sorry you lost your previous muse. But not that I was able to come into being in order to replace it.]

“I had a great relationship with my previous muse… I said wake me at seven and she would wake me at ten thirty and have coffee and breakfast already in the maker.”

[Odd to use coffee as the primary of the two items. Are you becoming physically addicted to caffeine, or are you psychologically addicted?]

“Argh! You don’t even have much psychology training and you’re trying to dissect me?”

[Actually I’m attempting to wake you up. It seems to have worked.]

I sighed in agreement and pushed the pillow off of my head and into the white wall at the head of the bed in my mid sized cubicle of a room. The air tasted clean and kind of like a forest in the morning.

After a moment I rolled until I fell off the side of the bed, landing solidly on my boxer covered ass in the middle of the mostly empty floor. Waking up still felt weird even after a week. Even after all the morphs I’ve inhabited I still take a few weeks to get used to a new body.

Dying and being resleeved is just a matter of course for a Firewall Sentinel. Something I should no longer have to worry about as seriously. After all enough work can get you enough reputation and enough clout to get promoted. I finally managed to get myself out of the direct line of fire. And as far as I could tell Proxies didn’t actually end up getting into a whole hell of a lot of trouble.

Sadly my last run had apparently involved the complete destruction of my psyche. Including all publicly known backups and my Muse as well. I was forced to use my most recent backup at a Firewall facility. I still lost six months and the Muse that had been with me since I was awoken from my cryogenic sleep.

Back in the early twenty first century a lot of people got their heads frozen in order that should the technology become available they could be revived. I was one of those people. It was a shot at immortality or at least a better life.

[Has your introspection competed?]

“Shut up Delta.”

[You have a meeting in forty-seven minutes. With your new Router.]

“Blerg…I wish I could get a shower.”

[That is an extremely cumbersome and inefficient method of cleansing yourself. Shall I activate your cleansing routines?]

“Fine.” I sighed and stood up. “Where did I put my clothes?”

[On the floor where you always put them?]

“Smartass.” I chuckled as I stood up and turned in the direction of the door.

My cloths were strewn about where I left them as I staggered to bed the night before. Some people felt I was strange because of my methods. Also, recently, because of the way I dress. Not a lot of people really recognize the significance or references behind my pajamas and bunny slippers, but I needed to make a complete change in order to help hide. By the time I was dressed my personal nanites had cleansed my skin and I smelled at the least passable for a decent person.

For all my issues getting used to my new body I still couldn’t deny how much I loved this one. It was a custom order I had made two years prior and only just recently was able to pay for. Luckily I had made the order through Firewall and not official channels. It cost me nearly a hundred and fifty thousand credits including bribes. If you count the four clone backups it cost me almost half a million and a few extremely big favors within the network.

[Are you really intending on going dressed like that?]

“Is there something wrong with it?”

[What part of bed cloths do you not understand?]

“So I should wear a monkey suit?” I gestured at the tee-shirt I was wearing offhandedly. “People might link me if I were to do that. You know how hard it is for me to change the way I move and act. Cloths are easier.”

[It would be more socially acceptable. Even the antiquated variant you likely have in mind. On the other hand you are correct in that it would allow for some to recognize you easier.]

“And, they promoted me to Proxy regardless of my method of dress. I see no reason to change, again.” Grunting to myself I scooped up the flannel robe and slung it on.

[How long have you been a blunt instrument, thirty years now?]

“Your point?”

[You are more than just an adult now, you’re down right ancient by this point. Shouldn’t you… y’know grow up?] The virtual intelligence based on me was precise, down to the speech patterns I used in my youth. It was beginning to get obnoxious, yet comforting at the same time.

“If you were an organic I’d tell you to eat me.”

[That is currently impossible, regardless of my corporeal nature, being that you are a male right now. Which I profess not to understand.]

“Give me two weeks if its bothering you.”

[No. But is it bothering you? Your last five morphs have been female.]

“This conversation is over.” If you could cut tension with a knife you’d want to step well back at that moment.

[You have fifteen minutes to get to your appointment.]

“Shit!”

I stopped by the door long enough to slide into my slippers before bolting out the door to my tiny one room studio. The door shut and locked itself as soon as I was out of range.

***

Habitats like this one are usually crowded as hell. Full of people and their things, the sorts of places where there are too many people for too little space, hence the reason that new ones are built every now and then. This particular one was new enough that less than a third of the space was taken up. That means lots of open spaces, even in the higher gravity sections of the station. There was also plenty of clean air to go around, the carbon-dioxide scrubbers weren’t being overworked. There was enough room and air for people to spread out a bit.

People take their traditions with them, sometimes they morph to a new shape but they always carry them. You’ll find all sorts of things cropping up, cultural things generally, wherever humanity goes. No matter how much Transhumanity changes it will always retain a core kernel of social madness.

This is perhaps why my meeting had asked to meet in a small, old time 21st century style, bar in which the lights were low and there were only one or two other patrons in the room. He had arrived before me, sitting in the rear of the room with his back to the wall. I, with great difficulty, forced myself to sit across from him with my back to the door. Even with a full array of smart dust in the room I was nervous leaving my back open. I had been a sentinel for too long for that to be comfortable. At the least my contact had decided to use some form of noise cancellation, as evidenced by the slight buzz sound in the air cutting us off from the rest of the rooms sounds.

“Oh kay. I have a question for you,” the man across from me began. The same man I had run across half the station to meet.

“Shoot?” I sipped at my classic soda.

“Do you always talk aloud to your Muse?”

“No. Actually my last muse never spoke. I just had what I needed at my fingertips.”

“But,” He asked sensing the hanging sentence.

I grinned at him as he swished the alcohol in his glass, scotch on the rocks if my nose was telling the truth.

“I guess I kind of have to admit I’m getting a little lonely anymore. All the social networking in the world is nothing for an old timer like me. It’s just not the same as sitting down at a bar and having a talk with somebody over drinks.”

“You’re almost two century’s old, aren’t you?”

“Yeah. Gregorian calendar would put us approaching the twenty third century right? Well that would make me around two hundred then. It’s hard to find people with my sensibilities in today’s day and age. You younglings just don’t have any sense of propriety.” He grinned back at me, showing that he understood the colorful humor imbedded in my comment. “I’d ask how you know that I speak aloud to my muse but I figure you bugged my place.”

“All these years we have been using you as a hammer and you show such wonderful insight. How could we ever have missed that?”

I ignored his sarcasm as I shifted back in my chair, indicating defensiveness. A tense moment settled around us.

“So what’s this meeting about? I thought I would be receiving my Intel through coded communications. I even got assigned a new encryption code. You assigning me a team to oversee?”

“No. I came to ask you if you wanted to take up a slot in something a little more your speed. Of course you’ll still be a full proxy.”

“Crap. So much for not being a blunt instrument anymore.” I had to restrain myself from physical displays of disappointment and anger.

“Ah, but this job comes with better pay and bigger guns?”

I leaned forward briefly before shifting back. Trying to avoid drawing attention, going against my instincts to attempt to lean forward conspiratorially. We took a moment to allow me to compose myself.

“What kind of job,” I finally asked trying to contain my curiosity.

“You have proven yourself to be skilled at the art of chaos and destruction. Subtlety isn’t your strong suit but you can be quite surgical in your violence when you need to be. You will be added to the numbers of those who Delete should you desire to be. Or we could find room for you in another branch of Firewall.”

“Wait you want me to be part of an eraser team? That’s more of a lateral move if you ask me.”

“Actually its downward if you were to be as a typical eraser, if you must use a hierarchy model that is. You, on the other hand, would be a part of a singularly dangerous group. You would be the type only utilized in extreme emergencies and during times where we do not want to authorize complete sterilization and total destruction of the location. This group is what we place between a standard erasure and a nuclear strike.”

I stared at the gentleman across the table from me for a few moments. He met my gaze unwavering. This man who had refused to give me even a handle or nickname when we met, the unknown man. The only thing I knew was that he was most assuredly a proxy who had been in the more influential elements of firewall since it was formed. He reminded me of The Smoking Man but less gaunt.

“You want me to be a part of the elites? They’re legendary among sentinels, some might even say infamous. They’re the type that you only send one of to deal with a problem and that’s usually scary as hell for a sentinel to see. I’ve only met two and…” I couldn’t help but allow hesitance and fear creep into my voice. “Both times I was retrieved from my cortical stack afterwards. I still have nightmares about the first time. And you think I qualify for this group?”

“There are currently twelve of them about the system. You would be the thirteenth.”

“I have one question. Depending on your answer I will make my decision.” As I spoke I stirred the drink I had barely sipped out of so far.

“As you love to say. Shoot.” He folded his hands patiently across his stomach. Waiting.

“Why me?” It was a simple question. The answer wouldn’t be.

“Your record stands for itself. Both times you have met this level of erasers was early in your career, shortly after you had been returned to the mortal realm. But in the last four years you have managed to amass a vast personal wealth and move money about quietly. You have arranged for yourself quite a number of alternate identities. And even after having all of that destroyed you had enough contacts within Firewall to reestablish yourself as a nanofabrication programmer and gain some capabilities back.”

“That’s because that’s what I do,” I corrected as I sat up straighter.

“For fun,” he countered abruptly. “Although you are quite good at it and your skills are actually quite impressive. I am to understand you have a number of blueprints you have as of yet to share with humanity.”

“Yeah.”

“Now the answer to my question?”

“If I really do scare even our own Sentinels then I’ll be happy to join this elite group.”

“You need proof?”

“Well…yeah.”

“Your last mission should be proof enough in that case. Have you been briefed on it?”

“No. I’m missing six months because of that apparently.”

“Actually you’re missing six months because of a completely different reason.

“Your last mission went off without a hitch. You were exposed by one of the people you saved when he reacted badly to running into you in public. Hence the reason you had to be reseleeveed at your own expense.”

“Am I even classified to know the details of it then,” I grumped.

“You are if you accept. I’m prepared to give you an XP of one of the sentinels from your final mission to help you decide.”

This was the clinch point. He knew it and so did I. This was where a choice would be made that I wouldn’t be able to take back. At least not without another massive edit….

***

Smoke filled the air. Thermals were completely obscured. Optics were only valid for about two to three meters. Weapon fire was streaking by down the hallway. Blind fire from the far end mingled with blind fire from our end.

No two ways about it. The fear mixed with adrenaline running through my system was screaming the truth. I was screwed. My team, those still alive, were firing wildly down the hall from where they had managed to find cover with no purpose more than suppressing the enemy for a little longer. Backup was on the way to save us and retrieve the item we had acquired, supposedly our team leader had called for a full area activation to get us out.

I was taking cover, poorly, in a recessed doorway. Frozen in fear, all I could do was listen to the chatter of gunfire. Suppressive fire was pinging off of the walls all around. Hollow points judging from the sound and the smear they left on the walls.

The smoke parted behind our position. Without thought, simply sheer reaction, I brought my weapon up and fired. The reactive armor-piercing round lanced through the air directly at the center of mass. Like liquid the figure shifted to the left before snapping back, dodging the bullet.

Out of the Fog strode a woman in a brown overcoat and a charcoal grey suit.

[That’s you!]

[Shut up Delta you’re ruining the mood.]

[Sorry.]

Ignoring me she tilted her head, dodging a bullet screaming out of the mist. Raising her hand she fired twice and one of the sources of suppressive fire from the far end of the hall ended with a shouted curse.

“Lucky shot you fuckers! Give up now and I’ll guarantee your lives.”

“I think I struck a nerve,” The newcomer quipped cheerfully. The grin on her lips was frightening, not rationally but a deep welling from that animal part of the brain that still exists in modern Transhumanity. That was when it occurred to me, this was the backup Firewall had sent to us. A fucking Elite. A Delete Key.

[So I already accepted….]

[Not necessarily boss.]

[Not at all. You were simply the closest Firewall backup.]

There was a great sucking feeling as I withdrew from the XP. I didn’t want to see any more. I had proof enough for my tastes right there. In clear thoughts from one of the individuals I had saved.

“Satisfied?”

“Very much so. I’m just…surprised. When did I get so good?”

“I particularly like how you dodged the bullet there,” He agreed grinning at me.

“Oh? I just calculated the trajectory based on the muzzle angle and made sure not to be in the way. Just like the rounds coming through the smoke at me where I used the previous shots to triangulate the source. A little math and I knew the source. From there the elbow was easy to figure out. He had stupidly put his whole arm around the corner to fire.”

“This is why you’re an elite eraser now, a Delete Key.”

The_Ren The_Ren's picture
Re: [Fiction] Blunt Instruments

Date: May/22/12 BF (Before Fall)
Location: Cryogenic Facility, Idaho

During the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries a great deal of people arranged to be stored cryogenically in order to be revived at some point in the future, when it became feasible to do so. It took a while but, much to the surprise of some, it became not only feasible but it became practical and quickly widespread. It was at that point when the policies involved kicked in and the companies who took in all those frozen heads and bodies to begin attempting to follow through on their promises.

“How does he look,” asked an older lab tech as he entered the cubicle on the far side of the room from the sole occupant.

“Great Boss. They did a solid job with this one. The scans and thaw are complete but the nanites are still working it out. He’ll be info in 3…2…1. Complete.” The second, much younger, lab tech looked up from his console where a progress bar was reading at one hundred percent.

“Load him into the virtual brain and lets have a chat with him then.” A few deft keystrokes from the young lab tech caused the big screen on the wall to flip to a loading bar backed by statistics and info-graphics. The older tech settled into a cushioned device that looked like a cross between a hospital bed and a recliner.

“Loading complete. You’re on boss.” The younger man turned around to face the couch and gave the older man a thumbs-up sign.

The older man closed his eyes and logged in.

***

The loading room was white, nothingness stretching out in all directions. There was nothing there. I found myself standing in the middle of this expansive plane alone.

It was quite the sudden thing. One second I was laying in a hospital bed dying of old age, the next I found myself there.

“What the holy hell,” I demanded feeling irate enough to ignore that the words coming out of my mouth didn’t sound like they came out of me.

“You were dead. Now you’re alive.”

The voice behind me made me jump as if I had been shocked by a cattle prod. I spun to face an older man in a lab coat and a suit standing rigidly behind me.

“I was dead and now I’m not? Oh shit. That’s right I had my head frozen didn’t I?” I put a hand to my back, which wasn’t hurting surprisingly enough, because the habit I had acquired from many years of back pain kicked in. I began to feel a little odd about the fact my voice didn’t match what I thought it should be.

“Precisely,” the gentleman in the lab coat agreed. “We have discovered a way to reintegrate your personality and do more than simply leave it in storage. We can supply you with a new body.”

“Really? How?” I didn’t even try to hide the excitement in my voice.

“Your policy will allow for you to receive a basic mechanical body. Nothing fancy but they are upgradable.”

“I sense a conjunction coming,” I retorted skeptically.

“Quite,” He agreed. “Instead of accepting a synthetic body you can choose to become a node on the net and work for a while to afford a better body, or go to school to gain the skills to support yourself in this day and age. You would also be able to take the support we offer for a significant amount of time.”

“Support,” I asked. A blindsided, deer in the headlights, kind of look crossed my face.

“Your policy would extend for a month of time while you sought out a job and economically stabilized yourself. Should you choose to default to the alternative you would be supported for a year.”

“Can I take some time to think?”

“Please. I will return in one hour subjective time.”

“Subjective time,” I asked. Before it was out of my mouth he had disappeared. “Damn. I was going to ask him for a chair.”

Sighing I sat down on the floor. I was still expecting to hurt as I moved but it didn’t. There was no arthritis, no crippling pain, no headaches, no anything. This prompted me to explore myself with the senses I had available.

My eyes showed me my hands weren’t gnarled or old looking, the varicose veins were gone and the scars were gone. They looked young and healthy. They looked slender and fit. They looked feminine. That was a little off.

Groping around I discovered that under the white tracksuit I was petite and delicate feeling. Even to my small hands I felt different, feminine.

“What the hell,” I demanded as my hands snapped to my throat. It was then that I realized that the oddness I had sensed in my voice was because it wasn’t my voice.

“Have you decided,” The old mans voice surprised me again making me jump.

“Uh. Why am I a girl?”

“Occasionally people come out of the process different from what they expect due to an artifact of the conversion and or their own psyche. Have you made a decision?”

“It hasn’t been an hour yet,” I complained.

“As a matter of fact you’ve had four hours time. Recall I said subjective. Time doesn’t flow the same way in here as it does out there.”

“So if I took the year then it would be a year in here? Working out to even less time?”

“No a year real time, which can work out to several years in the machine if your careful.”

“So I could go to school and learn in that time enough to get a job and make the money to support myself before my year is up? Where as I would have how long before I would need to have money to support myself in a synthetic shell?”

“Almost immediately. You would have maintenance costs, which if you got a labor job could be deferred to the company through various programs. But they also don’t pay well. Being resurrected tends to be less than lucrative right now considering we have a huge number of people on the job forces but not enough jobs for them.”

“So why do it,” I asked as I stood up and faced him. “Why resurrect people?”

“That’s for the Board to decide. I just do my job.”

“Well… I guess staying as a bit of code on the information superhighway is a good idea right now then?”

“Listen. If I were in your shoes, I’d go that rout. Get a degree in something and work at it for a while. Get some money and buy a real shell. Given a little time and we will have some better biological shells available. As is there are some elements in society that still argue against the idea of body swapping or even clone growing new ones. It’s a real shit storm but you’ll be able to read up on that in your orientation package. Right now I just need to know if you want to go out or stay in.”

“Well…fuck. Fine I’ll go that route.”

“Very good.”

The world blanked out.

The_Ren The_Ren's picture
Re: [Fiction] Blunt Instruments

(This is going to be released in 3-4 parts due to size issues. The writing is markedly different from the previous two entries for a reason. No it’s not because there’s a new writer. I’m still trying to get a feel for the character. The next one may be written in third person, it just depends on how I feel for the piece when I start writing. As is it’s kind of a first person with the protagonist narrating in portions. I’m also trying to get some descriptives of The Hive, a personal project of mine, into the mix so everybody knows where this is going on. I’ll likely do a write up of the Hive soon and release it for people to give suggestions and generally tell me I’m a f*#king idiot. I’ll also be releasing a “catalogue” of Æsir Industries equipment available. Which will also be up for people to comment on and help me balance/streamline. For now… Here’s installment #1 of chapter 3 for “Blunt Instruments.”

PS: Anybody who can PM me any quotes or references here gets +1 Rez and if they want I’ll try and work a character cameo in (your choice if its your character or from somebody else).)

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Date: June-08-8AF
Location: The Hive

A few months ago I was made an elite eraser.

The funny thing is that I got good at blowing shit up and killing things by playing Virtual Reality combat simulations for entertainment. Not because that’s what I wanted to do for a living, but because it’s a good stress relief. It just so happens that I’m naturally adept at things involving hand-eye coordination. This isn’t even about having a good morph or a training thing either. I’ve just always been good with a gun. I guess it comes from being introduced to them early and growing up in an area where going shooting was what the family did on Sunday afternoons for fun. Perhaps this makes it an artifact of nurture in my childhood, or maybe it was an aspect of nature and the way my psyche got wired.

Who cares.

My passion in life is designing things. Making what I dreamt of in my youth come true. From Guns to space ships to fighters and even mecha, anything I think I can make work I try my hardest for. Most of the time it works, even if I need to call in a favor from a friend or colleague.

A little known fact about me is that I always wanted to be an astronaut. And now that I am it was hard, for a while, to find something to keep living for. I’ve grown a little jaded in life, maybe I was jaded before I reached twenty but that’s neither here nor there. I’ve also grown tired of life and may have what some people like to call Immortality Blues.

On the other end of the spectrum I’ve got an overriding desire to live. It’s not even a biological imperative either. There’s something deep inside my very ego… my soul… that demands that I keep putting one foot in front of the other. Even when I’m full of holes. Which brings me to today’s events.

I got shot.

Again.

***

I had only been up for an hour, working in my office, when the call came in. It was not only on station, but it was in the same hemisphere as my offices were located. Plus I was the only Eraser at all on this hemisphere of this strata of the station, let alone this half of that hemisphere.

Sir, there is an urgent communiqué coming in with Firewall encryption. There is apparently a group of Sentinels under attack by a group of Gennan Industries enforcers. They need extraction. Delta had slowly developed a sort of a dry British butler personality over the last few months. This was mostly because I had deleted the delta fork personality overlay, which had been annoying me, and gone with a fresh security Muse.

The station was relatively new, having only been completed six months prior. Firewall had highly placed members in the monarchy, including the King that ran the place. But that wouldn’t protect a sentinel if they got themselves in deep with a corporate branch office. Everybody has to follow certain procedures in public.

“Bloody entropy,” I growled aloud. Sighing I rubbed my eyes before opening them. “Fine. But somebody’s gonna pay for this. I was just getting into the groove.”

Of course sir. Someone always does. Delta didn’t even try to hide the wry nature of the comment.

I promptly closed down the project I was working on, shutting my private ecto down after. The final step involved storing it in the safe before pulling a rather large pistol out of the same safe and heading for the door. The lights went off on their own when the door shut. Darkening the rooms’ lone occupant, a VR couch.

What kind of intelligence do we have on the situation?

Nothing I’m afraid, sir. It was remarkably cryptic, only conveying a location; sector seven, area G, of the northern hemisphere of the city strata.

That didn’t stop me from having stopped at a public fabricator and I inserted a key while Delta filled me in. The key allowed me to use a fake ID to order up some small items without anybody tracing it to me, it did this by exploiting a hack in the system. Otherwise it would have been easier to just fabricate in my office at the cornucopia machine built into the wall there. Besides, this way I didn’t have to pay for anything.

It took an unconscionable amount of time to construct the two smoke grenades. So what if they’re uber complicated with micro chaff nanos to fuck with T-ray scanners, heat and even UV vision or sonic resonance. They weren’t so tough they needed to take two whole minutes.

Cheap consumer crap, I growled at the fabber.

Finally, with the key and grenades in hand, I booked it on foot. Not an easy prospect in two fifths to half a standard gravity depending how close to the pole you are. On the other hand there are trams to get you places anywhere on station. That still doesn’t mean that they’re the best method of transportation.

The overhead displays, five stories up, were running through sunrise. So one more person running in that odd, I’m on the moon sort of bounding jump wasn’t all that unusual. Hundreds of people were traveling the main thoroughfares at this time of the morning. Everybody has someplace to be in a hurry at this time of the day. What’s one more guy flying along at full steam, regardless of the fact that he’s dressed in pajamas, a flannel robe and bunny slippers.

There has to be a better way to do this. Somehow to make it so even in low or microgravity you could move around like it was full standard gravity. Either that or we have to convince the King to up the rotation on the city sphere.

Shall I put that on the itinerary sir?

Sure what the hell… Half the shit I wanna talk to the King about is going to make him flip his stack anyway. What’s one more nail in my coffin.

I still remember what I thought when I saw The Hive from orbit for the first time. “What is that? A Moon?” Then after a suitably long and awed pause, ”…That’s no moon it’s a space station!” I promptly giggled to myself, everybody else on the ship thought I was a little off in the head. Of course even after fifteen or twenty years I still reference things from long, long, before these peoples great grandparents were born. I guess I’m still stuck in the past. Maybe I’m getting too old for this shit.

The funny thing is that The Hive is actually something of a cross between a moon and a space station. It’s the size and shape of a small moon, but in geosynchronous orbit around the sun with a dwarf planet on the other side of the sun. It rests in the L3 point of Ceres, the largest body in the inner asteroid field.

The Hive consists of three layers, each with a different purpose, but each just as important as the previous. It’s kind of like a giant gyroscope, with transfer stations to each layer located at that particular layers poles.

The firefight I finally found, which was still running, was in a side alley on one of the less occupied sections of the station. There were only corporation offices in the area. It was all closed in and cleanly sterile in this office sector. Like an old timey office building from before the fall with extra wide corridors branching into smaller ones. Right down to the faux wood paneling, potted plants and brass signs on or next to the doors.

I decided to hurtle in both of the smoke grenades with stick on impact settings active into the fray. In seconds the entire hall length was full of smoke and micro-chaff. Not even direct line of sight communications like lasers would work in this soup, especially when both grenades have jammers built in along with a micro EMP to fuck with nano devices just to put the icing on the cake.

Most people freeze in situations like this in these modern times, some panic and get a little crazy even. Unless you’re prepared for it it’s almost like being crammed into a sensory deprivation environment. Especially when anything not connected by a hard line is cut off. Most people now days can’t live without their mesh connection, it’s been a part of them since they were young if not since they were born. It’s almost like becoming blind, def and dumb all of the sudden.

It was the perfect time for someone who is smart and prepared to make an opportunity.

Using downloaded blueprints as an AR overlay as well as previously known positions of everyone in the hall I ran into the smoke, grabbing the first agent I came across. The touch caused a mesh connection. My muse simply continued each AV action after I began it so that I could focus my concentration on what I was doing.

[What the hell,] He demanded in a panic across the link, after Firewall encryption codes were authenticated. He could likely only see about as much as I could, a foggy shadowed face connected to an arm touching him.

[Shut up. I’m your backup. Just follow the AR I’m sending and get the fuck out of here.] I sent him the AR overlay I was using, as well as a discreet mesh tag, even as I shifted to grab the next person. As soon as the AR was finished copying I let go of the first man and repeated it with his female partner who was simply frozen in fear.

He had to grab her, using me as guide because she was too terrified to move. Seconds later they were booking it for the nearest populated area.

There was only one member of the team left to evacuate as far as I could tell, and plenty of time before the smoke cloud dissipated. Sadly this one was jumpy as hell because of the sensory deprivation. She didn’t know who did it and had enough time to see me ghost out of the mist. I, on the other hand, didn’t have enough time to calculate anything, not even my danger sense warned me as she pumped two rounds into my abdomen.

I let out a grunt as I lunged forward and touched her. Making the connection I passed the firewall password across and her eyes lit up.

[Oh my! I’m sorry I thought you were Security,] she started.

[Shut up.] I interrupted irritably. It was hard to stay standing for a few seconds. I used her as a point to brace against before continuing. [Just take this AR overlay and get the fuck out. I’ll deal with the guards.]

I ducked as the guards started firing at us again, prompted by her shots to begin attacking in this direction.

The kid scuttled off staying close to the wall. The question was now, should I stay and deal with these guys or bug out myself. My usual operating procedure was to wipe out the opposition, but I had two bullets in my belly and needed to keep my blood off the floor to prevent them linking me to this. So I beat a hasty retreat as well.

***

Sometimes it’s nice to have good active camouflage. I managed to get clean away, even as I bled, without anybody the wiser. Even as I moved my Medichines had already begun to accomplish damage control, they sealed up veins and stopped the bleeding.

I had the bullets pulled out by Veterinarian I knew. Most doctors are required to report bullet trauma to the government, but Vets have always been an exception because technically they’re not allowed to even work on people. Even if Vets also cover uplifts as well as pets anymore. It’s an old trick, but sometimes even old tricks fall out of favor and become unique again. Lucky me I’m older than dirt and know a few ancient tricks.

After my vet friend pulled the slugs out and slapped some synth flesh over it before kicking me out. She liked me but there was only so far she would put up with my shit, regardless of the fact we were both Firewall.

In the end things run down to a few simple truths. Killing people. Causing chaos. Being an eraser. That isn’t what I do, its not who I am. It’s only what I’m good at.

I’m a designer, a programmer. I create weapons of chaos and destruction because its what I have a passion for, and I’m good at it too. Using them just kind of comes naturally to me, and oddly enough I’m better at using them than creating them. Much better. I don’t enjoy it and I certainly don’t perpetuate it when I can help. No that’s a lie. I love to run rampant as much as it scares me to say. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m ruthless, pragmatic and vicious. Meaning that I do what it takes to keep going. Putting one foot in front of the other.

That’s why what happened later wasn’t optimal but I still did it anyway.

(To be cont….)

The_Ren The_Ren's picture
Re: [Fiction] Blunt Instruments

(…inued.)

I put one foot in front of the other until I had gotten back to my office finally. I just barely began to work again, before three individuals entered, without bothering to be stopped by the door security. They blew right through the high level encryptions. A rough poke to my stomach, approximately over the synth flesh, brought me out of VR and back into the real world.

“What the hell,” I had demanded as I sat up in my couch. It took all my willpower not to paw at my stomach in pain.

“I’m to understand you’re the guy to go to if somebody needs a weapon or gadget special made,” the apparent leader of the group demanded. He wore a male Olympian by the build and features. Built like a Greek god with a face to match. Although he had the contrast of an old man’s long white hair and striking slate eyes.

“Says who,” I grumbled as I swung my legs off the couch and turned to face him.

“Says my friend Jemby.”

“Jemby? I’ve worked with him before. That high velocity gig on Mars.”

“She said it was Venus. And it was a stun or shock grenade.”

We both paused and stared at one another for a few moments before relaxing after having apparently passed the proper sign and counter sign. It was good enough for me anyway.

Now that I looked at them it I realized it was the team I pulled out earlier that morning. Although The gig with Jemby had actually been on a secret facility on Titan, but that’s beside the point. Not to mention that Jemby was definitively female, even when in a male morph. Nobody would mistake her for a guy any day of the week.

“Ok. If Jemby say’s your ok. What do you need,” I asked as I rubbed at my stomach absently.

“We need something that will make a hole in an internal station wall without any issue or danger.” The kid was obviously weirded out by my apparently Flat morph.

I wasn’t just unremarkable I was ordinary. In a way it made me stick out more than being an Adonis would. That’s kind of why I like it. From my smaller stature at only six foot even height, to my scruffy chin and miss matched hazel eyes. Yes hazel can be miss matched.

“Purpose,” I demanded grumpily. Being a legend allows for a certain amount of curmudgeonly behavior, even if they don’t know the legend.

“Why do you need to know,” he demanded obviously not amused.

“Because if you’re making a door I would use a different method than if you only need to tap a shielded network. Hell I already have both options available without any work necessary.”

Just some stronger credentials, It was so hard not to quip.

“Neither.... Well maybe both,” He admitted. “We need to make a hole large enough to get a few microbots through.” The Olympian god rubbed the side of his nose and looked away in a gesture as old as time. He was dodging. Stupid kid. Even my poor kinesics abilities saw through him.

“Swarminoid?” The pointed silence told me enough. “All right. It’ll take me a bit to modify my ‘door-in-a-can’ for something more subtle and smaller. Take it down to the market and chill for a bit. I’ll be down in an hour with best estimate or a full piece for you.”

“How will you find us,” one of the females of the group asked. She was the second individual I had rushed out of the firefight. Looking at her now I recognized the well-built frame of a Fury morph. Not that bad looking of a girl either, a little generic beauty in the face but built like a Brazilian Capoeira user. About the same colorations as well, dark all over. Even her crimson hair was darker than it was red, kinda like drying blood.

Yum! Just the way I like ‘em! I barely restrained myself from speaking my mind, even with behavior modification I was still actively trying not to.

“Don’t worry about it. I know the area. Just stay to the promenade and things will work out.” I couldn’t exactly tell them that I tagged them all when I passed them the AR maps. They obviously hadn’t figured out that was me yet. Kids, go figure.

Truthfully it only took me about ten minutes to do the adjustments. The rest of the hour was spent on reviewing everything I could get on the team. I didn’t want to give them something like this if I didn’t think they could handle it. The potential for damage was just a little daunting. I am getting to old for this.

Once I had confirmed them as being slick sentinels, their leader was apparently something of a clever bastard too, I left my office again to meet them. It was easy enough to find them with the mesh tags I hit them with that morning. I only made one quick stop to use my hack key to fabricate the device. Regardless of their skill I wasn’t going to give them the blueprint.

I pointedly ignored the third member of their group, a Futura. Not only had she shot me but the Lost tend to be a little loony. Even for asyncs. This also kept me away from the Fury, whom the Futura was all but clinging too in the crowd.

[So I did what you asked. Even gave it some cloak and dagger stealth stuff to keep anybody from finding the hole unless they know exactly where to look.] I had made a touch link as I crammed into the spot next to him in the stall so we could talk privately. I smiled as I settled next to the group leader as we both looked at a table of hand made items carved out of synthetic wood.

[This is a great shopping area. I had no idea that we had craftsmen like this on station.]

[That’s what happens when you wander into the local districts for service people. It’s out of the tourist limelight so the people cut loose a little. I like where my offices are. I’m just down from a great old world tavern called Last Chance, this place and a couple other nice little hole in the wall areas.]

[You have the item,] He shot back all business.

[Yup. It’s the card in my left rear pocket. A condensed set of disassembler nanos with a few extra bits. Just apply it to a wall near a joint and wait thirty seconds. When the card peals off nobody but you will know where the hole is. It’s big enough for most microbots or a fiber optic cable. It will also allow for encrypted communications. Just make sure you have the card after, to get the encryptions.]

[You want me to lift it from you?]

[Like I can be seen helping you,] The tone of the thought was snarky with a teaching bent.

[Good point,] he replied properly chastised.

Our conversation had lasted all of one second.

He bumped into me, acting as though the guy on the other side shoved him as he shouted, “Hey buddy watch where you’re going!”

“Whoa,” I bit out as I nearly fell over. I felt his hand dip in and grab the card.

“Sorry buddy,” he said as he reached out to steady me even as he palmed it. Then as he rushed away, “This guy… sorry again. Have a nice day.”

“Have a better day,” I agreed cheekily as I straightened my clothes and walked away.

Damn Kids…, I remarked cheerfully to myself.

I went back to my office and attempted to pick up where I had been interrupted, twice. By this point it was nearly eleven hundred hours. I was behind on my legitimate job, so I decided to work through lunch. Sadly, unlike the brink, Rep only gets you so far here just like most everywhere else in the inner system. You still need credits, and I was working on building my own corporation so I needed as much as I could get.

(To be cont…)

The_Ren The_Ren's picture
Re: [Fiction] Blunt Instruments

(…inued)

Most people think of the cool cucumber badass mother-fucker when they think of an Operator. In my experience that’s pure bullshit. Sure if you’ve got plenty of time and or good prep time for the combat you can stay cool and get the job done without shitting yourself. Like I had that morning, all the way up until when I was shot by someone I had been trying to save. Even then, when you get shot enough times it stops being novel. It’s still no less frightening or painful.

Most of the time combat leaves you a gibbering wreck within seconds. If you can keep moving after that you might make it out alive. That’s one of my specialties, keeping from being a gibbering wreck until after the firefight is over. I’m never a cool cucumber badass mother-fucker, but I don’t freeze. Not anymore. Enough Shooters in VR and you stop being easily cowed. Enough real life situations, enough deaths, and you stop being scared. I was broken before this all started, but ever since I became a member of Firewall I can’t claim something so simple. There’s a level beyond the level beyond being broken. I’m pretty sure I’m there somewhere. And somewhere along the line it all becomes a game

I gave up working for the day because I couldn’t get myself to stop shaking, or the pain in my stomach to stop bothering me. I went for lunch. The bullets had passed through the abdominal wall but had not fucked up anything beyond that really, so there was no truly lasting damage and I’d be find by the next day. Thank god for smart vac suits. Although the idiot had been using cheap slugs. Even so, it was almost impossible to put me off a meal.

Still, I couldn’t bring myself to eat. A well prepared meal usually has me on it like a shark on a bucket of chum. Especially now days when getting a real cooked meal like the Muu-shu in front of me, is semi-rare. It’s probably a good thing I was interrupted yet again by the green team. Another call for help on encrypted communications channels.

Sir. Their at it again.

They need backup again? For Entropy’s sake! I’m already hurt… from friendly fire no less. I better roll a bit heavier. Is there a stash nearby Delta?

Yes sir, at the local Tram station.

I stood up from the outside table in front of a little Chinese place and walked away calmly. I didn’t have time to really work up anything in a cornucopia machine but there was a reason that I kept emergency cases stashed in storage lockers all across The Hive. Every transit station on the habitat had a bunch of storage lockers. They also had bathrooms.

I retrieved my case from the locker I had rented for it and ducked into the bathroom. Once there I slipped into a stall and triggered my cloths to change to something black and trenchcoat-ish, sliding on some heavier body armor from the case before the smart cloth finished changing so it integrated with it. From the case I removed a black mask to cover my face, a small hive and a gamut of weaponry. The simple featureless mask went into a pocket inside my coat. The hive got attached to the back of my pants, after I activated it. The weapons slid into various holsters and sheaths or, in the case of the assault rifle, got clipped to a harness under the coat.

Two buttons on the case, pressed simultaneously, caused it to melt into a viscous liquid that was easily disposed down the drain.

Once I was sure everything was secure I did my best not to rush out the door. Lunch hour rush won’t matter. Even being dramatic in black is normal around here. Moving with purpose is a dead draw for attention when going counter or cross traffic, which I was. Hurrying without looking like I was hurrying is something I had never gotten the hang of. Even after two hundred years my ability to read people and avoid being an open book to others was poor at best. Although honestly I’d only been alive for about seventy.

On the up side I know all this. So I didn’t even bother. Instead I moved quickly but as calmly as possible to the source of the call. I wasn’t expecting to be as well off as last time. I wasn’t expecting the team I was supporting to still be alive. This was, after all, the second time in one day they had gotten into trouble.

Damn kids.

“Here we go again Ren. Why do you do this to yourself,” I asked myself

“Because dumbass. You got suckered in, and if you have one flaw its duty and a weakness for a pretty face with a pout. So suck it up or stop being so damn noble and quit this job,” I flippantly replied.

Sighing I pulled the black mask out as I approached where I could still hear some intermittent gunfire from. The whole area had cleared out already so I didn’t worry about people recognizing me at this point. Active camouflage would have been more of an attention draw at this juncture than anything. On the other hand I did spike the area with a quick anti-nanocamera EMP before pulling the mask.

Not that people wouldn’t be able to infer, but there would be no direct proof other than similarity. Which in this day and age means nothing. Anybody can copy anybody else. Hell somebody could take over someone with the proper tools and the morph having a puppet sock.

As soon as the mask was securely adhered to my face I pulled the assault rifle out and racked a round, priming the electronics. I checked the power in the corner display of my AR, it read as full.

For as honorable as I can be I’m also a pragmatic and ruthless person. Which is why I fight dirty. Remember rule number 31 ‘If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck!’ or better know as ‘Only Cheaters prosper.’

My first shot into the combat was a thrown flash-bang grenade. Anybody with proper compensation wouldn’t be fooled but that wasn’t the point. It completely stopped the gunfight as everybody looked around for the new player. A call came in and my muse alerted me to direct attention to it personally.

[Yes who is it,] I asked with a cheeky lilt.

[Ren. There’s a full blown firefight on MY station. Again. What are you doing to deal with it,] King Jonny Fong demanded irritably.

[Calling in the left hand, Your Majesty,] I quipped questioningly back.

[It’s bad enough I have to allow those damn corporations to have offices here without letting them go wild with their security.]

[Do I have permission to deal with it with extreme prejudice?]

[Just clean up the mess. That’s your job after all.]

[Yes my liege,] I replied with a grin spreading across my face. Sometimes being the left hand of god is fun. Quite prophetic, my birth name and my unofficial job being so strongly linked.

Although the conversation with King Jonny Fong took all of half a second, I decided to wait a full minute as the quiet continued. They were obviously confused as all hell. Thank you Musashi, always arrive late to the duel.

“It’s showtime,” I muttered softly.

I took a deep breath and let it out in a slow sigh before moving into the combat theater. To the outside I likely looked like an avenging angel, or a swooping demon. Inside it was all I could do to keep from quipping out crappy one-liners and bad jokes like a certain mercenary from a long dead comic book publisher. Hey it’s how I cope with stress.

Even as I moved I shouldered the rifle and flicked the charge lever for the under-barrel plasma pulse launcher. The first person, who wasn’t one of the three idiots, I could see well was a Fury morph in security armor for Gennam industries. I felt kind of like a Superbeast at this point. At barest feeling, Delta started playing music in the background to ‘soundtrack’ the battle for me.

She took the plasma burst directly to the chest where it exploded as the magnetic containment field that had been holding it together burst, knocking her prone and sliding her across the floor into a wall, a smoking dent the sternum of her armor.

My AR popped a little +100 over her corpse along with a tag in the bottem left corner claming that “The_Ren ambushed Nameless_Mook_#1” and showed a plasma burst icon at the end of the line.

Talk about intimidating. If I weren’t so focused on task I would have crapped myself for how scary I can be. Or maybe it was the gag AR overlay set up like a VR game and music that kept me sane. Or it could be that’s the upside of the emotional compartmentalization that I practice. Maybe the emotional dampers I utilize are just that good.

There was no time for panic, or for style. When combat starts my brain slides into a sort of fugue state in which my ego thinks fine, but my body does its own thing. I do whatever’s necessary to survive the ordeal. Another reason I quip, it gives my brain something to do besides strategize which never really goes anywhere anyway. A battle plan never survives first contact.

That coupled with the tech I utilize and a few other slight advantages I have make me damn dangerous on the battlefield. Add onto it the fact that when I go berserk like this I tend to blow the crap out of everything that pops up in front of me I’ve garnered something of a reputation as a blunt instrument.

I ignored incoming fire as my Muse simply took care of my nano-bubble shield and hardened the framework around each hex that was under fire, either stopping or considerably slowing the incoming round. Occasionally forcing me to stop firing for a micro-second as it blocked fire directly in front of my weapon trajectory. Between that and my own body armor I didn’t have to worry about the incoming fire from anything short of an anti-material rifle.

This made it easy for my combat geared hind brain to wipe the entire security force out to a man, or in this case a woman. All five of them were Fury morphs. It took a surprisingly short amount of time. Each one ticked up my AR meta score for the combat round.

“What was that,” Demanded the leader of the kids behind me slightly shocked.

I turned, still impressively dominating and stared at him from under the mask. As my brain re-engaged I could almost see a cinematic camera as it swooped in a zoom, from a low level up to my mask to focus on the eye-slits, as I did.

There was obviously a long conversation going on behind the scene between the kiddy crew. Probably panicking about me showing up all doom and scary. Also the scorch marks all over the far end of the battlefield.

Note to self. Need a bigger gun. I’m leaving scorch marks. It was difficult not to giggle at my internal monologue at this point.

Noted sir.

It felt almost glacial as my arm swung up to remove the mask.

“Ok kiddies. Playtimes over. I might as well stick around and help. Why don’t we just blast our way in and take whatever you are after so I can go back to work and stop with the distractions.”

“We have what we need. We just need to get our sophont back out of there,” The leader mumbled as he stared at me. Obviously shocked and more than a little cowed.

“He can’t use the door,” I demanded softly. Shock and Awe baby! I barely kept my demeanor calm, rather than bust into a fit of giggles like I felt the urgent need to do.

Sir. Please behave.

Sorry, your right. Serious mode then.

“No. She’s trapped by security,” The Olympian finally got out.

“Right. I can solve that. While I do, you children stay out of the way. Why don’t you clean up here by removing the Cortical Stacks and scrambling their brains. Or better yet haul the bodies off and take them to the clinic. No point in wasting all these good morphs. Just claim you found them after a skirmish, but ditch the cloths.” Dead is dead, parts are parts, dead is parts. It was almost painful to keep from giggling aloud.

“Wait. First who are you,” The group leader barked at me. “Second we’re not kids”

“Didn’t your contact tell you anything?”

“No. We don’t have a permanent one yet, we just got on station.” He sounded nervous, and a little unsure of himself.

I grinned as I slid the mask back into place before I turned in the direction of the downed security personnel. “Damn I look bad ass….”

I got five feet down the hall away from them and the fear set back in. Damn I need a partner…. This is not going to be easy.

I ran a quick mental check of all my equipment as I changed both magazines in my rifle, both ammunition and energy. It left me a little worried. I didn’t have enough firepower to assault a heavily fortified position. But seriously, all I would need to do was distract the security and get away. Right? Wrong. This requires a liquidation of all assets.

(To be cont…)

The_Ren The_Ren's picture
Re: [Fiction] Blunt Instruments

(…inued)

The front door was already bustling with activity as I walked up, settling my weapon to my shoulder. They started shouting and pointing. At this point I was ready for a fight again, so it was easy to pick out the things they were shouting. Not that I cared. At that moment I was more concerned with keeping my mouth shut and focusing on tactics.

Easy job I said. The thought came out more sarcastic than I meant.

Bullshit…. Well, fuck. I guess I’m committed now.

I finished emptying what was left of an entire magazine at the guards stationed at the front door, and stopped moving forward. Instead I shifted to the left, putting the entryway wall between them and myself as I removed the ammo magazine.

I love my own gadgets too much. Liquid ammo is one of my favorites, because if you didn’t use the explosive payload for the ammunition it would work as a number of grenade types thanks to the smart magazine components.

I triggered a three second delay HEAP explosion from the old magazine and hurtled it around the corner into the securities area of denial. It exploded even as I slid a new magazine into position. Just to be sure I pulled my last one out and locked it to the side of the other so I could do a quick flip reload. The battery wouldn’t hold out that long and it was my only one, so I switched off the Rail system and charged another plasma burst.

Suppressing a burst of the giggles I stepped back out into the line of fire. The security goons were all still stunned by the explosion, two were down for the count. A third was staggering from his hidey-hole. I didn’t waste the opportunity. He didn’t survive the plasma burst to his chest. Only two left there at the door. No emplacement weapons. Easy pickings.

[What is this I hear about explosions,] The Kings voice in my ear made me jump. I had completely forgotten I left the communications line open.

[You may want to put Roger on standby,] I agreed. [You know how I work.]

[Maintenance on standby, check. If you’re going to do it you might as well be thorough.] He didn’t sound pleased in the slightest.

[Already planned on it. And that’s “Lovely Angels” damn it,] I exposited with a fair amount of fake sarcasm.

[What was that,] he demanded irritably.

[Nothing Highness,] I replied in a sing song voice of mind.

I moved deeper into the facility after finishing off the two security guys still standing at the door. They must have used all their Furies on the pursuit team. Amateurs. Just in case, I decided that it was better to be safe than sorry. Assume nothing, anticipate everything.

I pulled a ‘Fog of War’ grenade off my belt and chucked it to the left as I went right into the main office of the suite. The grenade didn’t go off immediately, instead it stuck to the wall and sent out a sonic pulse followed by a radio pulse before it finally went off. Filling the space with the fog of war in just two seconds time.

The radio pulse was coded for my eyes only, it told me what my own on board systems already knew from the initial view. I had a rough map of where everyone was in the room. This allowed me to squeeze off three round bursts at every previous location. With the ‘Fog of War’ up even sounds were muffled so it was hard to tell if I hit anything at all.

To fix that I started moving through the room, closing on each individual. As I closed on each one I pumped a round into their heads just to be sure. I’d collect cortical stacks later.

There were two doors from this room, and the official blueprints with the net that I had acquired before entering said that there was one more beyond that linking the two, kiddy corner to this one. The last one was supposed to be high security. All three of the rooms were larger. It would be easier to booby trap one door then move into the other. I picked the labs as a likely booby trap spot and stuck a grenade next to it low on the wall, marking it for the three-second, laser trip mode.

That done I moved to the offices and triggered the manual catch on the door from just to the side. A smart move considering as soon as the door opened and the ‘Fog of War’ began to flow into the room shots came streaking out of the cubicle farm.

I waited for the break in shots to dart across and through the door to take cover behind a cubicle wall. My heads up display indicated that my shield was recharging, or in this case rebuilding the wall. The down side to ‘Fog of War’ is that it disrupts nano fog as badly as anything else. Maybe in the next update I would connect the whole shield array through micro-filaments and not use transmissions for control.

“Come out we have you outnumbered,” called a voice from the far side of the room. From the door I heard the sound of a fan or a vacuum starting up.

Outnumbered, but I have you outnumbered five to one, I wanted to shout back.

Instead I bit down on the words and simply activated my active camouflage. A nano-coating of imaging devices coupled with heat dampening and Radar absorbing fabric kept me invisible from everything but electromagnetic sensors and T-rays. Hell the damn camouflage actually reflected misinformation on Lidar systems.

I went up, onto the cubicle edges, moving quickly enough to keep my balance but slowly enough to keep from disturbing the poorly constructed edifice.

I waited until I was almost on them before I plasma blasted two on the far side of the ambush, igniting both. I immediately turned and opened up full auto on the other three. None of them were wearing armor worth shit and in tight quarters I perforated them to death. As I fired I dropped my cloaking field as an unnecessary waste of power.

Five down, a million to go, I grunted to myself as I turned to the door leading into the secure area. Not much to do about it but brute force.

Do you mean Hack it sir, Delta asked curiously.

Are you kidding? I’m King of Collateral Damage.

Even as I replied to Delta I moved to the door pulling out a ‘door-in-a-can’ from under my coat. I slapped it firmly against the door, bottom side down, and the attachment mechanism activated. The can made a sound like metal being wrenched apart, a terrible crunch-like sound. After about fifteen seconds the door melted into a puddle of goo. I left it for another five seconds, staying out of the door for fear of being shot.

Nothing happened so I chucked a remote sensor drone into the room and checked it. The only thing it detected was equipment and lab gear. I swept forward and moved to the next door, flipping the magazine on my rifle as I moved. The door would be easier to open from this side.

A buzzing noise hit my enhanced ears causing me to whip around priming my under barrel plasma launcher.

A Swarminoid hovered up out of its myriad of hiding places. I raised one black gloved hand to my face, placing a finger over my lips. The Swarminoid stopped and used its amoeba like mass to point at a pair of decloaking individuals approaching from my left, deeper in the room.

Shit!

It would appear sir that their cloak is as good as yours.

It would appear Delta, that I need to actually make probes that can defeat my own countermeasures.

Even as I traded comments with my Muse I unleashed the plasma blast at the one in the lead. The blast completely knocked out their camouflage and knocked the individual hit back a few steps.

This is what I get for being careless. Here I was thinking they were all a bunch of amateur idiots.

Apparently not sir.

Even as the second individual brought a sub machine gun to bear I shifted, targeted his neck and fired. There was a crimson spray as the reactive armor piercing rounds I had selected when I started the campaign of annihilation ripped his head from his shoulders. His own return fire splashed off of four separate hexes of my bubble shield, being deflected into the walls and ceiling.

I didn’t wait for the first guy to regain his balance. Instead I unloaded the rest of the magazine into his chest turning it into Swiss cheese.

The door opened behind me. With a quick mental action I set the rifle to overload, utilizing both magazines for explosive power, even as I commanded the attachment clip to let go of the harness. Spinning I hurtled the rifle at the door and threw myself backwards down an isle between two long counters.

Here. Hold this for a second, I snarked to myself as I slid along the floor.

Even though he didn’t hear my internal monologue he did catch the rifle. A surprised looking security Fury stood there staring at the gun. I didn’t wait for the explosion as I scrambled around cover.

It was a big boom. The doorframe was warped out of place where it wasn’t simply torn away leaving a huge gash in the wall. There wasn’t much left of the wall in general. Or the security Fury for that matter. I could see chunky salsa of her buddy all over the far wall when I poked my head back up.

Damn, should have recorded that for the Darwin awards.

Quite impressive sir.

What’s my Kill Death ratio Delta?

Twenty two kills, zero deaths sir.

How many on the official roster?

Eighteen sir.

Damn cheaters. That’s my job.

It was at this point that the landmine I had forgotten in the main room went off. It wouldn’t have if the ‘Fog of War’ was still active so it must have been cleared out by the fan sound. This prompted investigation.

I drew out my side arm, a heavy looking revolver with the word Mjölnir stamped on one side and a bunch of fine print on the other. Cocking the hammer I moved through the gaping hole and leveled the pistol at the door to the main room. The only Sanitation Engineer on station, perhaps the entire solar system, was standing slightly burnt and smoking in the door with a bemused look on his face.

Dude is creepy.

Noted sir.

“Oh, well high there,” Roger beamed in that slightly stupid autistic manner he had. “I take it there’s some cleaning and fixing to be done?”

“Yeah Roger. All over. I’ll just let myself out while you work. But first I need to do something.”

“Righty-ho,” He agreed cheerfully as he reached behind him for his mop and rolling bucket.

Sighing I turned and began the grizzly work of collecting cortical stacks. Not a pleasant task in the slightest. Even less so was mulching the poor sod’s brains so they couldn’t be resurrected that way either.

Security on station wasn’t so much security as whatever you had on you to defend yourself. It was the law of the jungle. The only thing the King had to enforce his rule was the carefully applied alliances he had made with powerful people to keep him in charge. Maybe I should start my own paramilitary group? I could call them Valkyries and make them buxom Norse women as Fury Morphs.

I’ll add it to the agenda of things to discuss with the King next time you speak to him in person?

Brilliant! I think I already have a morph that could be tweaked to fit the bill. Do we still have access rights to Jemby, or were we cut off?

My data is incomplete but as far as I am able to tell you do have access to Jemby considering you’re both firewall she wouldn’t be blocked logically speaking. Shall I place a call and ask for the modifications to the Morph design in question?

Yeah. That sounds like a great idea. She owes me a favor anyway.

Moving to the first of the special operations morphs I drew out a Karambit, a wickedly forward curved knife, and inserted it just to the left of the fourth cervical vertebra between the fourth and fifth transverse process. Angling it up and into the nook between the second cervical vertebra and the skull where the cortical stack was usually found. A gentle scrape, guided by the T-ray emitter in my mask, severed the microscopic connectors holding the stack in place before withdrawing the blade. A quick jab with my fist to the right of the larynx forced the small egg to literally pop out of the hole I had created with the knife.

I promptly flipped the body onto its stomach adjusting the head for optimal angle, after removing its helmet, and stomped on the skull. The curb-stomp shattered the cranium, driving shards of bone into it and ruining the brain for retrieval.

“What a waste…,” I muttered. That didn’t stop me from moving on.

I repeated the process until there was nothing but the chunky salsa left. It took me twenty minutes to find the two from that debacle.

Stepping outside I found six or seven other individuals, all dressed in similar gear as myself. They were putting up a blockade and providing security. They were volunteer security that responded when necessary, as chartered by the King. As of yet there were no actual security forces for The Hive, we just pitched in as a community.

One broke off and walked up to me.

“Report,” he demanded formally.

“It’s a right mess in there, sir,” I replied crisply. “I found most of the core stacks. I’ll take them up to be processed now.”

“Carry on.” He turned and promptly ignored me.

I finally walked away from the mess. Putting one foot in front of the other.

(End of Chapter.)

The_Ren The_Ren's picture
Re: [Fiction] Blunt Instruments

Due to a lack of responses from anyone I've decided to take it to my Deviantart. If you want to continue reading this, however bad it may be, go to oranu.deviantart.com my deviant art. I duno what updates will happen when. but i know at the time of writing this i have 2 more sections ready to go and will be posting them there instead of here. Thanks for reading.