Short Story: Testament

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SquireNed SquireNed's picture
Short Story: Testament

Alright, boys and girls. This short story actually *is* set in Eclipse Phase's universe, so I'm going to share it in the homebrew section. Might get a chance to whip up Savage's morph too, eventually.

Testament

He flicked a switch and the music came on.

“Let this be a monument—a testament—to the horrors of war.”

The synthesized droning and assailing beats pushed their way into his eardrums. Heck, it’s like they asked him to play the song while taking people out. Hyperconvict had been his favorite band for a while now; it’s like they knew how to turn violence into music.

His talons scuttled against the hull, each step magnetically adhering just before he would be launched off into the microgravity. He kept the railgun tucked in under his shoulder, moving to the pace of the music as the world slowed down around him.

Despite what the trid showed, you couldn’t actually dodge bullets with neurachem. You could, however, move very quickly, and you could make people shoot where you weren’t going to be. The first guard noticed him while the railgun was in transit, and he pulled the trigger, watching the flash of radiation as the electromagnetic coils pulled the slug to speeds nearly unrivaled by anything humanity sent out of its orbit.

The second guard took a shot, but before it left the barrel he had already changed directions, letting himself swing down to the ground with the force of his momentum and the magnetic tether. His second shot punched through the guard’s armor and through the door behind him. A look of confusion crossed the guard’s face as a second shot took him down for good.

The door was forced open under the fury of his assault. It was intended to keep gas from coming out if the hab started leaking, provide containment between the chambers. It couldn’t stop a deterred attacker.

A hail of gunfire met him, but he had already pushed off the decking and floated through the air, spinning in a lateral motion that brought his feet to the firing line.

The smartlink gave a happy chirp as it identified targets, and he pulled the trigger, spraying a burst of slugs across the atrium. The first pod he hit sprayed sparks from its cyberbrain, but the second was only grazed in the barrage. He passed it before the ego inside could respond, reaching out his arm.

In microgravity, it was harder to take an opponent down. If they had magnetic boots, you couldn’t necessarily count on overcoming them with inertia. It didn’t help that the carbon fiber and synthetic alloys were light, so he spun around the hapless morph like a flag bends around a flagpole in the wind.

The cyberclaws deployed without a hitch, cutting through the morph’s neck. He felt a bit of tension as the cortical stack was torn from its place and buried in gore, but was satisfied enough to push off the corpse toward his objective.

Horizon Biotech security was alerted, of course, but that wasn’t too surprising. He drifted toward the data center, pulling himself along handholds. Nobody had ever bothered to spin this module, and there was a wrench floating over one of the air vents as he passed. He checked his mask, making sure that it was on tight.

The security drones had intuited his movements, gathering around the server room. He let an EMP grenade float around the corner. His HUD confirmed detonation, and he launched the microseeker into the room. Thermobaric wouldn’t do a whole ton of damage, but it would overload the drones’ sensors. If he was lucky, it would give him a few moments to fire before they could react.

His ears felt like they were going to burst under the pressure wave, but it passed without causing him harm. The ringing overrode the beats resounding in his ear, but he could still feel the lightest pulses of the sound down his neck. He grinned, licking his lips underneath the mask in a carnal reflex.

The drones went down to the railgun shots as easily as the guards had. This wasn’t a military installation. The server room doors were spider-webbed with fractures, but hadn’t let the blast through. They opened for the stolen keycard, and he plugged the ecto into the mainframe.

“I’m in. Good work Savage.”

Now he waited. It took time to do work over the mesh, and the files they needed were massive. The whole project was in the database.

He saw movement in the shadows of the corridor. He raised his rifle to shoot, willing himself to keep the finger off the trigger. The smartlink gave an estimate, and he could hit them through the wall. They had stopped, waiting for more of their team to arrive, he assumed.

He took the shot, sending a slug through the panels of an executive office and into a security officer. The yelling filled the space, almost inhuman in its echoing quality. Or maybe it was the reverberations of the song.

“We’ve got the data. You’re good to disengage.”

He wasn’t.

Augustus Savage had been working with the mercurials for almost a year now. He didn’t disagree with what they said, or else he wouldn’t have taken the placement, but he worked for a higher master.

The antimatter grenade had passed past Jovian territory to get here. It bore almost no identifying markers, but he had been told that it had been brought out of a Consortium laboratory at great cost. Now he would use it to purify this place.

He pulled himself past the desk and toward the R&D facility. He wondered who would resleeve him: maybe Firewall, maybe the mercurials. Maybe both. Would be interesting. Perhaps, if the bomb didn’t go off, he’d wake up with a Horizon operative trying to pull secrets from his mind in a simulspace.

He doubted that. A drone poked its ugly mug around the corner and ate a trio of slugs that cut through it and poked holes in the habitat that only the emergency sealant kept from venting air.
The security presence had been reduced. They were planning to catch him on his way out, perhaps. Or maybe he’d already killed them all. The magazine still read half-full, an optimist’s half-empty.

The laboratories were locked more tightly than the server room, but the worst of the mechanisms were on the outside. The magnetic locks failed open, which he took as a safety flaw. Not that it would matter. A guard hit him from behind, sending a jolt of energy through his body as the stun gun’s dart penetrated his armor.

A wrist-mounted seeker responded before he could even swivel his arms around, the missile detaching from the system and accelerating to a screech and a bang.

The door pried open easily enough and he peered inside.

An octopus was ugly enough on a good day, but these things the Horizon people were messing with weren’t normal specimens. They glowed with lights and fractal patterns recurving on themselves reflected them in mesmerizing patterns. They moved aimlessly in the pressure tanks, transparent panels showing diagnostic overlays.

He was paralyzed by the sight for a moment. The Horizon people must have been suicidal, to keep such things in a tank like this.

“Savage, the data’s garbage. Try resending?”

“Data’s always been garbage. You don’t want what they’ve got here.”

“What are you on about? Savage, this isn’t a joke. We need those GRM packages.”

“They ain’t got GRM data here. No mistakes made, flicka. Not getting this is for the best.”

“What—“

He cut the transmission. Naomi only had more questions. He stood for a moment, holding the antimatter in its magnetic casing in his hands. He felt small against the backdrop of the universe, against the powers that he saw in front of him.

Powers that a corporation would try to use for a profit. One of the cephalopods split in two before his eyes, split off tentacles remaking themselves in the original’s image. The music slowly began to fade out as he sped up everything, willing his finger to come off the switch. One last sorrowful line pushed its way into his ears.

“We’ll all deserve what we have coming.”

ikkaan ikkaan's picture
Great work. Though i have no

Great work. Though i have no idea how bioluminescence could be dangerous. But i accept that i may stay a mystery.

SquireNed SquireNed's picture
ikkaan wrote:Great work.

ikkaan wrote:
Great work. Though i have no idea how bioluminescence could be dangerous. But i accept that i may stay a mystery.

It's supposed to be an indication of exsurgency. I may have just finished catching up on The Expanse.

CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture
You made me read it on my

You made me read it on my cracked mobile screen. That's a positive review ;-)

Exurgents wanna eat your ass and you are low on ammo? Register to mobile gear catalogue at eldrich.host.mesh! ORDER NOW! FOR FREE PLASMA MINIMISSILE PACK! *explosive delivery options included

SquireNed SquireNed's picture
CordialUltimate2 wrote:You

CordialUltimate2 wrote:
You made me read it on my cracked mobile screen. That's a positive review ;-)

Thank you!

I was a little worried, because I haven't written an action scene in a long time, and because the action was pretty thick throughout.

Unrelatedly, Hyperconvict is a great band name, and if I ever start a band I'm using the heck out of it.

CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture
Here. Have a logo.

Exurgents wanna eat your ass and you are low on ammo? Register to mobile gear catalogue at eldrich.host.mesh! ORDER NOW! FOR FREE PLASMA MINIMISSILE PACK! *explosive delivery options included

Talarohk Talarohk's picture
Beautiful work

That was a very engaging read. Lovely description, great momentum.

Kojak Kojak's picture
Yeah, this one was probably

Yeah, this one was probably my favorite of your shorts thus far. Also, the name Augustus Savage is fucking amazing, I may have to recycle that as an NPC in my campaign.

"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head."
- Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop

SquireNed SquireNed's picture
Crap, I didn't even really

Crap, I didn't even really think twice about it. It is a good name.