Impact: A Cyberpunk Short (And others)

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Impact: A Cyberpunk Short (And others)

Postby mgb519 » Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:23 pm

As the gravcar hurtled through the streets of the Andromeda City, Ral struggled to keep his grip on the seat—a task made much more difficult by the fact that the vehicle was turning so sharply that it was riding sideways along the wall. Of course, as tall and cluttered as the city was with bridges and stairways, it was a wonder people still knew what a street technically was. The normally vivid lights that covered practically every facet of the city passed him by so quickly that they blended into what he could only describe as a vomit-like blur of color. But he merely grinned, perhaps a side effect of the adrenaline that pumped through his veins or perhaps just because he was half-mad. His driver was a lot more focused, and that was just as well since she was guiding vehicle at shy of 200 kilometers an hour.
Then there was the accompanying party behind them. Ral wasn't sure what they were supposed to be celebrating, but whatever the case they seemed to think that the best way to do so was to fire off a three-gun salute.
Aimed at him.
With automatic weapons.
But that was no biggie: he was a master level controller, and this was nothing but a warm-up for him.
"Aym, think you can level us out? It'll make my job a little easier!" He was shouting because anything less was garbled by the rush of the cold night air.
He knew she hated or him to abbreviate her name like that, and her agitation showed. "Easy for you to say! You're not the one dodging bullets!"
"Well, my friend, That's the thing I'm telling you!" Stop dodging bullets and let me deal with the seat of the problem!"
"Screw you, Ral! The last time I nearly got a bullet in my shoulder!"
He snapped in reply, "Well you didn't, and you won't now!"
"We've been teamed on various occasions over the past three years and I trust you less now than I did then! No, I know damned well that you don't need my help to use your skills, so stop bitching and get these guys off of me!"
"Us," he corrected.
"I'll die before I compare myself to you! NOW DO SOMETHING, DAMMIT!"
He held his hands up, although "up" no longer was itself, and then waved at the pursuers as if parting a curtain. Tiny metallic objects began to appear in front of him, although the truth of the matter was that they were just moving too fast to be seen until he stopped them. Three seconds was his limit, but that was a monumental feat already and more than enough to do what he needed to do.
He clenched his fists, and the wall of bullets which hovered in front of him suddenly vanished again. Sparks glittered from the underside of the following cars as lead slammed into their engines. One exploded, and another carried its dead driver and less fortunate passenger into a nearby wall. That left one, who wisely backed off. Amy was probably responsible for another car or two, well before. But that made five, which meant that Lehoux was ramping up his efforts.
"Good enough?"
"Yes, and it only took you ten minutes to expend five seconds of effort!"

Amy was his favorite other controller to work with because she was so uptight and was so easy to drive mad. When they'd first met, he'd learned that she was a little upset when people called her Aym instead of Amy, because she was very fond of her name and found it a little offensive that people would go out of their way to shorten it as was custom in Andromeda City. They'd clashed from day one (really, more of her clashing against him than the other way around). Since he always got the job done, it was all just a game to him. So with a short laugh, he went on, "Please, don't flatter me so much. You know that even I can't do it for that long. I'm glad you think the world of me, though."
She slammed on the accelerator and hit what was practically a ninety-degree turn, again nearly flinging him from his seat. He was used to it by now…somewhat. But despite himself, he silently acknowledged that while no one was as good a controller as him, she was a damned good driver. And now that Lehoux's men were dead or gone, they could slow down and relax, at least to where they didn't have to shout at each other.
"So, Ral. Did you at least get the drive?"
"What do you take me for? I always get the job done."
"Of course you do. So let me see the blasted thing."
"Impatient, aren't you? I wasn't aware you wanted me that badly."
Disgusted, she sputtered, "Wh-what are you talking about?"
He grinned and unzipped his jacket, pulling out a small metal object which constituted a hard drive. The data contained within was what they wanted, of course. "Where else would I have hidden it?"
She groaned and turned to the navigation system which, in her eyes, was far more sufferable a companion. Ral decided to give it a rest and plopped into the passenger seat. He started to think on about the job, to satisfy a faint nagging at the back of his mind that something was wrong. He'd taken a job to get data from one businessman and into the hands of another. Nothing out of the ordinary. Naturally, it was a lot more difficult what with Nelson Lehoux cracking down on the city's population of controllers who weren't under his thumb or otherwise harmless and powerless, but that was just a new addition to the job. So what was different this time?
Just a harmless metal box full of electronic data, right?
It had been far too easy. And something told him that it was all a trap.
Immediately, he started ripping at the drive, trying to look inside. Amy seemed oblivious to his panic, as all she saw was a strange, twenty-eight year old man trying to destroy what she'd worked hard to safely recover and transport. That also constituted ripping up her paycheck.
"What are you doing?" she screamed at him.
He paid her no mind. If his gut was right (and it often was), the whole thing had been a setup from the start. But it was no use, because the screws were not only smaller than his fingernails would fit, but also because they had been welded in place. That was also a sign that something was wrong, as far as he was concerned. But there was no communicating that in a fast moving car with an irate and now thoroughly flabbergasted driver while holding a stolen portable hard drive, when he didn't even know had been done to it.
He should have just copied the data. But that wasn't quick enough for him though, was it? Why take the safe route when he could take the easy route?
Amy was now trying to get the data, sensing an immediate loss in pay. She already hated working with him (which was partially his fault, he admitted in retrospect), and when he was taking away the only reason she ever still bothered…well, what would anyone do, really? And as she reached for him, she accidentally tilted the car, which was very hard for her to do. In that moment of utter confusion, Ral's past choices compounded on his present panic, and he stopped drawing himself to the car with his "all-powerful" psychic energy. This caused him to slip from it altogether and hurtle through the air away from his now ex-partner's grasping hands and through the city, hard drive still clutched in one of his hands. It looked like he was about to die. Was that so bad? He wondered.
Then he wondered what the hell he had just been thinking, as he put his hands in front of him and focused on slowing his descent. He was about to crash into the rooftop of a restaurant, littered with outdoor tables. Controller or not, this was going to hurt. The only thing he could change was how much. If he forced himself to put out a hundred and ten percent, it'd be like falling six meters and scraping up his body. If he did nothing, he'd be dead. He concentrated with all his might, and braced himself for impact.
Boy, he was going to be bruised later. But mostly, he regretted breaking his arm. At the same time, although he wouldn't know until much later, his pain caused him to let out an electrical impulse which disabled the hard drive altogether. And likewise, it would not be until much later that he would find out the hard drive was actually not a data storage unit at all, but rather a bomb.
But that was all a moot point at the moment, as he took one look at the thing, and passed out in pain, unaware of a solitary table of stunned onlookers who eventually called for an ambulance.
Last edited by mgb519 on Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Impact: A Cyberpunk Short

Postby alphafalcon541 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:54 pm

Keep writing pleeeeeaaasse
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Re: Impact: A Cyberpunk Short

Postby Silverdream » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:59 pm

I like the think of it, and I enjoyed most of it. I think instead of calling it a harddrive or a bomb you should let it stay mysterious.
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Re: Impact: A Cyberpunk Short

Postby Keldoclock » Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:18 am

:|

It's disjointed. It feels like you had this incredible picture in your head and than only about a third of it splashed out onto the page. Read it over, edit it, moderate it some, and try to make it flow better.

Then there was the accompanying party behind them. Ral wasn't sure what they were supposed to be celebrating, but whatever the case they seemed to think that the best way to do so was to fire off a three-gun salute.
Aimed at him.
With automatic weapons.


This probably highlights the problem best. Try to avoid stuff like this.
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Postby mgb519 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:15 am

Eleanor Waters looked her son in the eyes as sternly as she could, while refusing to budge an inch to let him through. Raleigh, having just turned nineteen and being officially old enough to attend the many clubs of Andromeda City without restraint, had been keen on going to Club Technica. It was his favorite club to spend time at, and the club owner had for whatever reason taken a liking to him. But for whatever reason, his mother still saw fit to try and keep him from living the kind of life he wanted to live.
“Raleigh Waters, let me make this abundantly clear to you: you are not, I repeat, not going out tonight. There is nothing good that can come of that place, and you just haven’t seen the bad that goes on down there.”
The boy was not impressed by his mother’s declaration. He countered, “I go down there and I have fun. Jack shows me around, treats me like the younger brother he always wanted. All you ever do is chew me out for doing something that offends your outdated sensibilities!”
“Outdated-Gah! I’m so sick of your self-centered naivety. He’s not who you think he is, and he doesn’t deserve to be looked up to like some kind of mentor! I raised you better than that, son!”
He laughed spitefully and shook his head. “As if. You raised me to be a vindictive prude. I’ve simply grown up better than you raised me, and that scares you. You don’t want to admit that he’s a better parent than you, and he’s not even trying to be. He teaches me about the things that you want to keep hidden from me. That’s enough”
“I’ve been teaching you,” she spat, “that there’s a hidden side to it all that they don’t want you to see! It’s not all electric splendor and dancing and drinking and having a good time. There’s foul doings that go on in those clubs, and in the shadows of the city after dark.
“That’s the thing! How can you possibly expect me to be so afraid of some evil that you can’t even describe to me? You want me to grow into the same sheltered lifestyle that’s befallen you. How can you even know what this ‘dark side’ is? Do you? Because I’m really starting to doubt it.”
“How dare you? “ Something about that statement obviously got to her. Damned if he knew what it was. “I…Keys. Now.”
“What? You can’t-“
“I can, and I am. Give me the keys to the car. I bought it, and I never signed it over to you. Hand ‘em over.”
He stood there, shaking, hands balled into fists. She was in no mood to wait, and reached into his pocket with the swiftness of a hawk. “You are not going out tonight. That’s that.”

Ral went out anyway, of course. He was young, determined, and stubborn as a mule; he was going to celebrate adulthood if it killed him. That was to be no mean feat, of course: his mother was a paranoid, watchful, and controlling. Plus, there was the fact that she had the keys to his car. But Jack had taught him how to hotwire a car, and while he hadn’t ever practiced it, this seemed as good a time as any to try.
He exercised the utmost caution as he slipped out of his bedroom window, knowing that anything more than the slightest of sounds would have his mother on him like an attack dog (He’d never seen a dog, but the stuff he learned in school on the subject had been a little less than pleasant). Satisfied that he was in the clear once his feet touched the walkway on the floor below, he immediately jumped to the car and started messing with wires. He worked quickly but quietly, knowing that his overbearing single mother might well check up on him for no good reason, and if the car wasn’t running by then he might well have a serious problem on his hands.
Because they lived in a high-rent district and there was no fear of criminals, the roof of the car was often collapsed. His mother was nothing if not rich and egocentric, which was why she was so stuck on him acting proper.
How’s this for proper, he thought with a smirk as the car’s engine started purring. He heard shouting inside, but he knew better than to wait. The Triton 8 Convertible picked itself off of the parking spot just as the door flew open, and he barely got a glimpse at his mother’s dumbstruck face before the vehicle soared off into the heart of the city.

Ral left the car in a secure parking garage. There were accommodations for various income levels everywhere because once it came to having a good time, there were no social classes in Andromeda city and they had to give the rich some way to participate, right? There were exclusive nightclubs too, but those were for the old. The young people were far more accepting of others, and that was how they liked it.
The parking was pricy, but that was fine. While Ral despised his mother, he wanted to treat the car right. Besides, he had plenty of his own personal funds; no matter how much she hated it his mother couldn’t touch them. A few hundred credits was nothing when he had more than a few billion at his disposal. But he didn’t want to blow half his savings on a new car.
He clung to the sidewalk as much as possible, but eventually he knew he was going to have to cross the “street,” a concept which had so evolved since the invention of gravcars that solid pathways were no longer even involved in the definition. He knew that the entire city was practically made of building on top of buildings connected by walkways and skybridges, but that didn’t make him any less nervous around heights.
After making his way to the club with some difficulty, Ral stepped through jet black doors with silvery striped patterns. He saw the reflection of his face on a nearby glass table, illuminated by sky and royal blues from elegant light displays that cast everything in a brilliant hue. The colors shifted slowly as the lines danced across the walls. It was like neon from the days of old, but the light blended into the walls in a fashion that was far more artsy.
The balcony and the space below featured box chairs and sofas, with a woven pattern that looked like it was carbon fiber. They were somewhat minimalistic, or compared to the rest of the club’s furnishings, but they still were very nice chairs. Ral knew from personal experience that they were incredibly comfortable, and he loved to sit down with a drink in one hand and a lovely lady in the other.
The roof was suspended a full eight meters off of the ground, and featured a skylight which doubled as another dance floor. There was also a pool up there, and Ral himself often enjoyed the beautiful…view, as he often explained it. He could already see the people dancing on the glass, and he wondered just what could compare to just chilling out up top. He’d find out today, of course.
Ral was then greeted by the owner himself: Jack Sullivan. Brown haired and hazel eyes and a favorable figure made him quite the ladies’ man. He tended to wear long sleeved button down shirts which he claimed accentuated his classiness. He went by Jack, since it rolled off the tongue more easily than “Mr. Sullivan”.
“Why if it isn’t the prince of party himself! Tell me, how you feeling? Are you ready to have a good time? Because you’ve haven’t seen anything yet.”
They’d gotten along since Ral’s first visit to Club Technica. Ral had been feeling bored, so he had picked up the tab for a night. It was great to see the life it brought to the club, but he had never in his wildest dreams expected that he would earn Jack’s respect. Jack had always talked about how when Ral got old enough, “he was going to show him what the club really had to offer.” Women were implied. It seemed that day had come, and Ral could hardly wait.
“Tonight being special, guests are welcome. But, I’m assuming you’re ready for the real deal, right?”
“Of course I am. You don’t think I’m gonna skim you? I’m not broke.”
Jack smiled. “Of course not.” Turning to his aide who was watching over the club floor from the balcony, he shouted, “Jane! Prep my office—this man’s gonna get the VIP package.”
Jane, a young blonde with short hair and a businesslike demeanor which betrayed no emotion, nodded and stepped through the tall and slender double doors behind her.
“C’mon, let’s have a little chat. It’s mostly just paperwork and stuff like that, you know, but it shouldn’t take too long.”

They sat down red leather chairs that matched the floor, surrounded by glossy black granite walls. A large glass window that made up most of the back wall gave them a good view of the light-crazed city, and of all the sleek-looking cars that shot by. Cocktails rested on the low circular table between them. Jane stood with her back to the wall, neither smiling nor frowning.
Ral held a metal strip in his hand and looked at the text which it projected over the air. The terms and conditions were several pages worth, but he wasn’t really paying close attention. The one at the bottom caught his eye, though, and while he wasn’t really worried about it he did decide to ask. “Only question I have, Jack, is this bit about ‘Non-disclosure.’ What’s that about?”
Jack seemed a little surprised that Ral had noticed this, when they were both clearly unconcerned with the paperwork. “Oh,that? Uh…let me see how I can explain this…Ah! This club costs a lot of money, right? So then, how do you think I stay in business, when there’s plenty of clubs out there like this one?”
“I…don’t have a clue.”
“It’s a trick question. There are no clubs like this one, that’s how. What goes in in the VIP wing is what makes us so special, and what draws people here. And because of that, we keep it a secret so that other clubs can’t compete. Your friends may ask you, what makes ‘Technica’ so special? And you’ll tell them, ‘I guess you’ll have to find out, won’t you?’ And the mystery of it draws people in. Once you start coming here, the rest of the places just can’t compare. Make sense?”
“I suppose,” Ral replied as he took the stylus in hand and wrote his signature in the air. The projection blinked and vanished, the deal now struck.
“Welcome to Technica, Ral. For real this time.” Jack patted him on the shoulder the way an older sibling might, and they shook hands. Ral was practically drooling with anticipation.
As they passed by Jane, for an instant Ral thought he saw her mouth move, almost like she was flashing a nasty look. But he wasn’t sure if he was just imagining things, and soon enough he’d forgotten all about it.

The VIP lounge didn’t disappoint. Light danced across the black walls in brilliant colors and fluid patterns, like neon water. It was incredibly relaxing…but something felt a little off. Whatever it was, it was quickly pushed beneath the surface of his consciousness, and he was just fine with that. Dancers came in and danced for them, and Ral enjoyed their less-than-subtle curves. Drinks came periodically.
“Hey, man. You ready for some pretty girls?”
“Prettier than these?” Ral pointed lazily at the dancers.
“Ah ha ha, you’ll see…”
Again with the bad vibes. Why was his mind doing that to him? He just wanted to relax and have a good time. He was feeling a little out of it, but that was no excuse.
Jack snapped his fingers and the dancers left. It took about five minutes for some other men brought in some girls, all of whom were attractive. There was something off about them too, Ral thought. Almost like…they were tired? Ral’s head hurt just thinking about it. What was going on? There was a haze clouding his mind, and he felt like he was dreaming. Was this all a dream, then?
One of the girls came up and began to tug at him suggestively, and he realized that not only was her heart not into it, but she was somewhat absent minded. It was almost like she was…
No. No, no, no! They couldn’t be drugged! But they were, and Jack was not only aware of it but seemed to be responsible. And somehow, Ral knew that it wasn’t right. Forget the fact that it was outright illegal, and he still couldn’t live with it. It was wrong, and every part of him was realizing that not all was well at the club.
“Jack, this is wrong. This wasn’t what I signed up for.”
There was a look of utter shock on Jack’s face, like he’d just seen a ghost. Shock soon turned to anger, and his lip started quivering while his face turned red.
“Jane! She said it was good for at least two hours, not a mere thirty minutes!”
“What…” and Ral stumbled, because his head throbbed with a monster of a hangover, “is going on?”
Though he had regained his composure, Jack was no longer smiling. “You’ve had too much to drink, man.”
“No. I did not sign up for this. And I won’t sit by, either. This stops, or I go to the police.”
Two hired thugs grabbed Ral by the arms and Jack faced him, dangerously calm. “I’d hoped I could get through to you the easy way.” Jack threw his hands up and shrugged. “But I guess not everything works the way we planned. That’s life.” Turning to his hired goons, he shouted, “Bring Jane down here too! She’s got a lot to answer for.”
Ral turned his head slowly and looked at the men who were standing behind him. They were muscular, somewhat brutish figures, with long grey pants and button-down shirts like Jack’s. The sleeves were shorter so as to show off their arms, which in one case sported black tribal tattoos. The other one had a pair of shades, which likely featured some sort of heads up display. All in all, these men were a living display of force, one that Ral doubtless couldn’t compare to. It would be incredibly stupid to try.
The young blonde assistant was dragged in with similar disrespect, fighting every step of the way. A fifth lackey led the girls out, who were all still too tipsy to be very much aware of anything.
“Well, Ms. Jane. I know for a fact that you did something wrong when you drugged his drink, and I don’t like it when people intentionally try to screw up my plans. Don’t you even try to say it was an accident; that’s a terrible lie if I ever heard one.”
Jane spat at his feet. “I’m not as predictable or stupid as you, you prick.”
Jack flashed a smile, and struck her on the side of her face with enough force to leave a mark and draw tears of pain, though she tried and to some extent succeeded at keeping sound from escaping her lips.
“Let me make this crystal clear for you both: you’re going to die. The question is which one of you dies first. But I don’t know how to decide, since you’ve both gone and pissed me off. So, make your arguments. We’ll start with you, Jane.”
“Go to hell, scum.”
“Well, that makes things a lot simpler. No last words?”
“You’re a bastard, Jack. I hope this club closes down.”
Jack Bent down to Jane’s level. “Not much chance of that, is there? Actually, he’ll be along not far behind. Maybe you can keep each other company in hell?” Then he drew a handgun from his pocket, swishing his finger along some sort of bioreader that must have been the safety. It lit up and turned bright red.
Ral was lost in fear. I’m going to die, he thought. I’m going to die, and all because I didn’t just listen to my stupid mother. She’s a horrible person in her own way, but she was right.
But could he be content with just giving up like that? Did he really want to die if Jack was going to get the last laugh? All that time at the club wasted buying into a lie, and it ended with a bullet in his head? He didn’t know if he could do anything, but he wasn’t sure if it was alright not to try. He tensed his muscles and moved his arms back, with some difficulty. He wasn’t sure what that accomplished, if anything, but he felt the need to try.
Then, with everything he could muster, he ripped free of the two men holding his arms and lunged at Jack in one motion.
“What-” was the only word that came out as the two men collided. Ral proceeded to wail on his victim with his fists. Jack raised his gun and tried to fire, but because they were locked in combat he missed and hit the ceiling. Ral knocked the gun aside, and Jack responded by punching him in the face and pushing him back. This did not mark the end of their scuffle. The guards, who had been so startled that they didn’t know what to do, now started trying to get to the fight. One of the guards holding Jane nodded to the other and let go to help Jack as well.
This would prove to be a grave mistake. With her now free arm, she hit her captor in the neck and shoulder with trained speed and precision. These hits were not particularly hard, but a little force applied to the proper points could go a long way and so it was with this man. He released the girl and stroked his left shoulder in pain. She brought her left leg behind his head and forced it into an impact with her right knee. As he collapsed to the ground, she put one hand in front of the other as she faced the mass of guards on the other side of the room.
Controllers were a curious phenomenon in the world. No one was sure why they had first started appearing, what gave them their powers, or what dictated who became a controller. Some people theorized that everyone had abilities that were dormant, and the only thing that was special about controllers was that they had awakened something inside that allowed them to use abilities. But while they were widely unexplained, it was universally understood what they were capable of. For the term “controller” referred to those who could manipulate physics in various ways, for effects that ranged from useless to practical to downright deadly. And it was what gave Jane the power to lift one of the guards like she was using an invisible fishing hook, and hurl him against the wall with enough force to render him unconscious.
Ral had never seen anything like it, so he was distracted long enough for Jack to punch him in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him. The club owner now looking ahead shouted to his guards, “Controller! Get her now!” And they all opened fire on the young woman who had taken out half of them single-handedly. She stood there with her hands spread wide as bullets stopped in front of her, shimmering and reflecting the lighting on the walls of the room. Mildly shocking but relatively unimportant was the fact that her wavy blonde locks had fallen from her head, revealing short black hair which was incredibly glossy and straight. Three seconds, and she threw the bullets forward into her foes. The two guards hit the ground immediately, but Jack had only been grazed. They were both gasping, Jane from exhaustion and Jack from the pain, but he had the gun and she didn’t. She wouldn’t be able to put her hands up in time to stop him this time.
“Mighty fine work, Jane…if that’s your real name. It’s like you’ve grown even younger right before my very eyes, yet you’ve managed to take down all of my men who were easily twice your size.” This was true, Ral realized as he lay on the ground coughing. She’d always looked to be in her mid-twenties, but now she seemed no older than he, if not a little younger.
“Amy. Thanks for the flattery, but I don’t want to hear it from you.”
“Well then, Amy. It’s almost a shame I have to kill you. You’ve been a good assistant manager for the past half-year that you were here. But, I guess…“
But his voice dropped off and was overtaken by the sound of an approaching vehicle. As loud as it was—loud enough to cause friend and foe alike in the room to freeze—it was clearly rather large.
As loud as it was, it didn’t compare to the sound of the machineguns that started ripping through the walls and into the room.
“Oh my-” was all that Jack managed to say before he was struck dead, interrupted for the third and final time in the last five minutes. He limply released his grip on his pistol. In the instant that it clattered to the floor, Amy saw the bullets and dove out of the way.
The stream of bullets stopped, the room fell quiet, and Ral lay there for a moment. His ears were ringing, and he was still discombobulated. What exactly had just happened? He might never know.
Once he regained his senses, he was pleasantly surprised to find that he was relatively uninjured. Nothing beyond bruises, he expected. Yet just looking at the holes in the walls, he had trouble believing that not one had hit him.
The young woman coughed, and he could tell in her voice that she had been shot. Despite her best efforts, she had not totally escaped the hailstorm that had torn through the VIP lounge.
“Jane? No…Amy. Are you alright?”
“I’m bleeding, but…it doesn’t look…too serious.”
She was clearly lying to him. Well, he wasn’t going to just let her be. She had, after all, been the one who’d taken care of all of Jack’s henchmen. He knew he couldn’t have done that.
“You’re hurt, aren’t you?”
“I’ve been shot. Of course I’m fine.”
“I’ll call an ambulance. They ought to be able to fix you up at the hospital.”
“NO!” She breathed deeply, as shouting suddenly had been more than her body could handle. “No, don’t call one. I don’t…I can’t…I’m a controller. They’ll treat me and throw me…in jail…”
“I’ll take care of that. But I don’t know how to treat your wounds myself, and I don’t want to let you die.”
“Just slap a bandage on…it’ll be….fine…” But Ral could tell by the widening pool of blood around her that it indeed wasn’t going to be fine. So he flipped a switch on his wrist-digi and called the nearest hospital’s emergency line.
“Hello?”
“What seems to be the emergency, sir?”
“Yes, My name is Ral…Raleigh Waters, and there are several people here who have been shot and need immediate medical attention.”
“Shot, you say? How many?”
“Six, at least. I’m not sure how many are alive, but if you don’t send help right away, none of them will be.”
“Okay, Mr. Waters. We’ll send an ambulance right over.”
Apparently, back in the days when people didn’t have uplink technologies where they could interface with their communications devices mentally, people had to tell the dispatchers their location when they called for an ambulance. Ral wondered how people ever coped when they had to have the state of mind to call paramedics and tell them where to go, rather than simply giving the dispatcher a location by the signal from their wrist-digitals. But of course, that was a long time ago. One of those little tidbits from his education that he somehow had picked up, he supposed.
“That was quite a show.”
Ral was startled by the man who seemed to have materialized behind him. “Who-where did-where on earth did you come from?”
It was a man with a long black jacket, and similarly long hair. His mustache was impressive, yet neat and well-trimmed.
“I watched the whole thing. And I saw what you did personally, and I find it interesting. I’m curious, do you know what happened?”
“She-“ gesturing to Amy, “wiped the floor with these guys. What’d I do?”
“You gave her an opening. But what’s worth noting is how you did so. For you see…you are a controller.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Don’t have time. It’ll be problematic if I’m still around when the ambulance arrives. But, I’ll give you my contact information if you want to know more. What you do with it is entirely up to you. But thanks for looking out for my partner here.” A ping went out from Ral’s wrist-digital, signifying that he had just received a message. The mysterious stranger turned and walked through the black metal door out of the VIP lounge, so riddled with holes that the shattered windows outside were visible. Swinging open was too much for it; it fell off the hinges and clanged on the floor, and Ral flinched. Then the man did the unthinkable: he leapt through the window and into the city below.
Somehow. Ral knew he hadn’t seen the last of this man.
That was when the sirens blared into existence, a few minutes after the call had been made.
Amy mustered the strength to put in one last word. As quiet and subdued as her voice was, it was very clear.
“Idiot.” This one word would be indicative of all their interactions to come in future years.
Last edited by mgb519 on Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Impact: A Cyberpunk Short (And others)

Postby Silverdream » Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:29 am

It looks like the philistines don't appreciate science fiction.
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Changing Pace, Changing Paths

Postby mgb519 » Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:48 pm

It was a very tense moment when Eleanor stepped into the room. As she was one to keep up appearances, she wore neither scowl nor frown, and did she did not snap or yell at Ral when she entered the room. But she radiated such a negative energy that not only did it convey to Ral, but also to the police officers in the room.
Ral wasn’t a suspect in the case, though the officers had of course made no such assumptions before questioning. He had done as much right as could have been done in that situation, it was determined, and he had neither been responsible for the illegal goings on in the club or for failing to report it, and so on and so forth. The cops had a very roundabout way of telling him he hadn’t done anything wrong.
His mother didn’t care about any of that. She had told the boy to stay home, and he had not listened, and now he was at a police station because of it. He had taken a car that had been hers not only without her permission but specifically against her instructions. And because he was still listed as her dependent when all this had happened, he had done nothing wrong in the eyes of the law unless she so decided. But she couldn’t do that, because of the media attention it would generate. No, for her own purposes, she could not so openly admit to the world that her only son was a black sheep.
While it was all but inevitable that this conversation would involve her legally removing him from her guardianship and forcing him to live on his own—he was of age, so she could do that, Ral still felt that he had been the one who got the last laugh. It didn’t help that he had roughly three billion credits to his name, which would last him for a while.
“Raleigh. For the past nineteen years, you’ve constantly been a thorn in my side. You’ve pushed against me, you’ve shouted at me, you’ve defied almost every single command I’ve given you.”
Ral crossed his arms and rolled his eyes as he quipped, “Maybe you should have given me fewer commands.”
“You’ve lived frivolously, irresponsibly, against everything I’ve tried to raise you to be-”
Ral snapped back with more anger than he knew he could muster, “You’re not supposed to raise your children to be anything! They’re supposed to grow up to be themselves!”
“You don’t even know what conversation we’re having right now, do you? Do you have the slightest clue?”
Bringing his voice under control, he replied coldly, “Because I crossed the line, stole your car, went to a club, and nearly got shot. That about right?”
“Because no mother should ever have to worry about burying their only son. You didn’t listen to me, and it almost got you killed.”
“Yeah, well I’m nothing but a liability to you anyway, so what’s the big deal? I’m part of the city life that you’ve spent so long campaigning against.”
Eleanor stated, “No mother ever wants her son’s death, no matter how much he fails her.” Her attempt to affirm his worth—which she all too often underplayed—was lost in her own unappeased frustrations.
“Well I’m sorry I haven’t been much of a son then, Mrs. Clean. Perhaps it would have been simpler if you didn’t have a son in the first place?”
Eleanor slapped her son across the face. “Don’t you dare...don’t ever say that.”
He looked at her, dumbstruck. She had never hit him like that before.
She continued, “I may not be perfect, and I may not agree with you, and I may not like you. But Ral…as your mother, I will always love you.” It was the first time she had ever called him by his nickname, and tears rolled from her eyes as she said it. It was in fact hard for her, as she had named him after her late and beloved grandfather. She was now forced to acknowledge that her son was not and would never be the kind, white haired man she had adored as a young girl.
And with that, they embraced, as mother and child once had before. When they released each other, Eleanor wordlessly put something in his hands: the keys to the car, as she had promised him long ago. And with that, she walked out of her son’s life, leaving him to either prove to the world that he was a man or fall into oblivion.

The inspector, a grizzled man with a khaki jacket and a short cut named Detective Welsh, stopped Ral at the door. “Mr. Waters, I just wanted to let you know that we’ll be in touch if we need you to answer more questions. We don’t exactly have a lot of leads, is all.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“And one more thing. That controller at the scene…we may need to ask you questions about her at a later date as well.”
“Can I leave now?”
The detective reached into his pocket and retrieved a pseudocigarette. “Sure. Thanks for your cooperation.”
Walking out of the police station, Ral felt a little empty inside, like the energy had just drained right out of him. He started thinking of how he was going to live now, as if seeing his mother had given him a new outlook on life. But he couldn’t tell how he had changed, just that he had.
He decided that the first step of getting on with his life would be to find somewhere to spend the night, or whatever was left of it. He tapped at his wrist digi, and after pressing his way through a few screens, he was looking at a list of nearby places where he could stay. There were all sorts of hotels, but with his finances he wasn’t about to skimp on comfort if he didn’t have to. That narrowed down the list a lot. His options were looking like either Hotel Casanova or Terminus. He’d been to Terminus before, so he wondered about trying something different. But he decided that with the sudden change, it was probably best to go with what he knew.
His car was still way off at the garage, where it would remain perfectly safe until morning. Instead he paged a taxi, which descended on the parking space after a short, five minute wait. It was autopiloted, and Ral was glad because he didn’t want to deal with some short-tempered driver. And because he had used the wrist digi to call it, the destination had already been set when he stepped through the scissor door and sat on the black and grey vinyl seat.
He watched the city pass him by, though it was very difficult because the windows were tinted and the computerized driving mechanism didn’t drive slowly enough for sight-seeing. He did manage to make out Riquezas, a famous café which featured white marble columns, stucco walls, wavy trim made of wrought iron, and a red tile roof. Its Spanish architecture was an anachronism, but made it one of the most renowned and expensive restaurants in the city. He had personally never been, for whatever reason, though the idea definitely intrigued him. “Maybe I can go there now that I own my own car.” he thought aloud.
A little tired, he half fell asleep; he leaned against the door as the lights of the city blended into a single image. He shut one eye and squinted the other, every so often snapping both open as the vehicle turned a corner. Autotaxis could give a much smoother ride than people, he noted. He’d only ridden in one once before, because autopilot was a new feature for cars which had barely gotten out of the concept stage and into public prototype testing.

When the taxi finally pulled over to the side of the road Ral found out why it was still in the prototyping stage. The sight that greeted him was not the hotel he was looking for. Rather, it was slick and stylized office building with windows that were darkened to the point of being opaque. The building footprint appeared to be a figure eight pattern, although it was just a guess since he couldn’t see the other side from where he stood. Two-thirds of the way up the massive forty story building, circular towers rose and were joined at each floor by skybridges. The concrete pillars were like charcoal, both smoky and reflective. And the sign at the top read, in massive, bold letters, “Aldus,” printed on an infinity sign—the company’s logo, hence the shape of the building itself. It was the name of a well-known financial group. His mother, in fact, was the CEO of its primary business rival, the intuitively named “Waters Financial Group.”
Aloud but to no one in particular, he asked, “Where…am I?” This was not to say he couldn’t tell from the sign, but because he was having trouble believing what happened.
There was a ping as a message appeared from his wrist digi: Go inside the building. It’ll be worth your while.
“Go inside…who’s this guy?” Don’t know you, he typed in reply.
Well then I guess we’d better fix that.
An electronic tone sounded from his wrist. Someone was trying to call him. He got an image of the sound waves, meaning that the stranger had opted not to show his face for whatever reason.
Ral spoke into the device, saying “Hello? Who are you, exactly?”
The bright blue line jumped and bristled with energy “Is that how you normally greet someone?”
“Normally I know the person I’m greeting.”
“What a novel idea. Well maybe if you do what I say, you’ll get my name as a reward.”
The nerve. Exasperatedly, Ral exclaimed, “I’m hanging up.”
“If you don’t do what I say, you’ll be faced with the harsh reality that you don’t have any money left.”
“…What?”
“The world is a cruel place, Mr.…Raleigh Waters, is it? Well, while I’m not responsible for hacking your account, the taxi was my doing. The money is an unfortunate loss. I’m giving you the chance to compensate.”
Standing on the cold concrete in shock, Ral asked, “…I’m…broke?” He scrambled to access his bank account, and he discovered the truth for himself.
Echoing circumstance, the strange man told Ral what he had just seen on the screen of his wrist digi. “Mr. Raleigh, you are broke.”
Ral was thinking aloud more than he was actually talking to this mysterious man. “This is a nightmare. What am I supposed to do?”
“Follow my instructions to the letter, and you can earn some proper money. But of course, there’s more to life than money, isn’t there?”
Ral wasn’t listening. “How can I live on my own without a single credit?”
“What are you going on about? Just go inside the building already. What do you think you have to lose? Well I can’t wait indefinitely; you have sixty seconds to enter reception.”
This caught his attention, for some reason. “Sixty seconds…what happens then?”
“Oh, I don’t know….do you want to be there to find out?”
Somewhat alarmed by this vague statement and struggling with his already massive level of stress, Ral started walking towards the building. After all, what else was he going to do?
Stepping into the lobby, Ral was amazed by the sights which befell him. The palette inside was the antithesis of the dark concrete and one-way tinted windows outside. The greater portion of the first floor was a wide, open space which stretched several floors up and was dotted with gleaming columns. It tapered inward as it went up, and walkways lined each floor creating what were essentially contour lines as he gazed at the ceiling. Ral found his eyes drawn to the display of palm trees on a circular, granite pedestal in the middle of the room. He was also aware of the secretary who didn’t notice as his shoes clacked against the smooth granite floor. Ral waved at her, but she was too oblivious or disinterested to return the gesture or greet him. He began to start, but there was a slight tingling on the back of his neck and he turned around. Propped against the wall with his arms crossed behind his head was the mysterious man from the club. He even wore the same long, black jacket. Ral realized that it had been that man’s voice in the call, so it seemed plausible that he had been sending the messages.
“You? What are you doing here?”
“Yo. I don’t have a lot of time right now, so I’ll jump to the point. Do you know about controllers?”
Ral scratched at his chin. He did this not because he was struggling to recall facts, but because he was puzzled why someone would ask such a simple question. “They’re like psychics or something, right? They do mercenary and espionage work, a lot of the time.”
“Smart boy.”
“It’s common knowledge, isn’t it?”
The man “Well, you certainly have a knack for keeping up with useless facts, hmm? Meanwhile, ten seconds.”
“Ten seconds…what?”
“Seven…six…”
Ral felt panicked and uneasy as the hairs on his neck started to stand up. His heart rate slowly started to rise. He didn’t know what was about to happen, but his body did. “What are you counting down for?”
The man stepped away from the wall and grinned, his eyes fixed on a door near the top of the building. “Three…two” He gripped Ral by the shoulder with a grip firm enough to cause physical pain as he pronounced the last number with an anticipative smile. “…one.”
Something thundered and boomed outside, and orange light flooded through the heavily tinted windows before they all shattered. This was enough to make the lethargic woman by the desk let loose a piercing scream, slap her hands on the top of her head to shield herself, and drop into a curled up position under the desk.
That was when Ral’s feet left the ground and the two men suddenly hurtled through the room towards the highest floor. There was no other way to describe what was happening; it was almost like gravity itself had changed direction. Aside from the horrifying vertigo which aggravated Ral’s moderate fear of heights, it felt strangely familiar. Then as the walkway at the top floor was within reach, they started to slow down. The stranger released his grip. Ral cringed as he hit the floor sharply and rolled into the wall with a dull thud. The other man landed as gracefully as a feather in the wind.
The controller frowned as he stared Ral up and down, and it seemed to the young man that he was disappointed somehow. It might just have been contemplative rather than condescending, but it was hard to tell. He spoke, “Do you know why I brought you along?” Ral was still in shock and was in no condition to answer, so the stranger answered his own question, “It’s a test, Mr. Raleigh. You showed me that you have the knowledge and ability, and this is about how well you can apply them.”
“I don’t have any idea what’s-”
The man cusped Ral on the shoulder “You are a controller. I’m gauging your potential.”
“What do you…Look I’m not cut out for this! You didn’t even ask my opinion!”
The controller turned to him and replied, “It was the same,” and he suddenly drew a pistol from inside his long black coat and fired over Ral’s shoulder as someone yelped in pain, before continuing, “…for me when I first found out. What no one taught me that I am going to the trouble to teach you, my friend, is that with powers like that, there’s really no other options left for you. You want to hear the story?”
“Yeah, I—oh, right. Let me guess: you-”
Peering around a corner, the man interrupted, “I don’t have time right now, you’re exactly right. Follow me closely if you want to survive this.”
“Aren’t you going through people that want to stop you and kill you? How does this help keep me safe?”
“You want to take on a bunch of trigger happy guards without my protection under the assumption that they won’t shoot first and ask questions later?”
Ral swallowed, realizing that there was only one way out: this man, who was the very reason they were in such a sticky situation in the first place. He could also tell somehow that he would be wise to not cross this man, the way an animal might recognize something more dangerous than itself. This man might be insane or psychotic, for all Ral knew. But if so, it appeared there was a method to the man’s madness, and Ral’s sense of self-preservation kicked in.
“What are you even supposed to be doing, Mr.…?”
The man exhaled deeply and stroked his goatee as he thought for a moment on how to best answer, after which he said, “Well, first answer in short is that we’re here because the CEO is not a very nice person, and the second is that until I have a reason to trust you, you don’t get to know my name. I told you already, didn’t I?”
Ral was less than amused. “I’m supposed to trust you, and you can’t return the favor?”
“I apologize, that’s not what I meant. I don’t believe for a second that you’re capable of stabbing me in the back even if you wanted. But that’s actually sort of the thing, you see: what I don’t trust is your ability to do anything. The way I see it right now, you’re useless until you do something useful. And I don’t get personally involved with walking luggage, oh no—that’s an honor I reserve for friends, family, and lovers. That is why you don’t get my name.”
Ral groaned in frustration, “So I’m on par with a suitcase, am I?”
“If I had a suitcase that carried itself? Yes. So make sure you don’t go and get injured so that I have to lug you around. It’ll keep my opinion of you from dropping.” He sighed. “But if you really need something to call me, I’m your sensei. Or teacher, if you want to be insensitive to my ancestors. I don’t really care.”
“What if I don’t want to call you either of those?”
“Stubborn, aren’t you? Well I guess you can call me Joe, as in Joe Doe.” This satisfied Ral, at least temporarily.
They approached the end of a corridor, where Ral’s self-proclaimed sensei shut his eyes and placed his hand on the elevator’s call panel. Ral didn’t see the point when the elevators were obviously locked down. Because of this assumption, he jumped when the polished steel doors slid open. Joe could tell, and he explained, “With luck and effort, you’ll be able to do the same someday. But in the meanwhile,” pausing as he tossed Ral his handgun, who juggled it about awkwardly before grasping it by the handle, “You’ll have to make do with that.”
Shouting from around the corner told of an incoming security team, and in the case of a company like Aldus, it was bound to be well equipped. As the bullets started flying, the controller clapped his hands together. There was a burst of air that swept his long hair back and the thudding of several bodies against the walls. He swept up a machinegun from the ground with his foot and blasted the one enemy who was stupid enough to try to raise their weapon.
Without a second glance, he told Ral, “Come, we’re almost at our destination.”
“Which is? I’m still not sure what we’re doing. Are you…assassinating this guy?”
“No, no, no. I don’t do murder. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Shooting a man with a gun who is keeping me from doing my job and poses a threat to my wellbeing is different from shooting a man who’s relaxing in his office and doing his job. Make sense?”
“It does, I guess.”
“Well take notes then, kid, because this will be the world you work in soon enough.”
Ral nodded half-heartedly, but he had no expectation to be part of this other part of Andromeda City which he’d never seen before. “So you really think that this is something I can do?”
Joe shook his head, “It’s very simple, really. You learn this now, because no matter how hard you try to fight it, this is where you’ll end up.”
“How can you possible know that for a fact?”
“No time.” Joe looked rather sad as he said this, but he quickly distracted both Ral’s and his own attention by putting his open palm up to the steel door in front of them. It shattered and fell inward like plate glass instead of metal. The room inside was white walled and featured two lines of server computers, for a total of six. “Keep watch for me, Raleigh,” he replied to his reluctant companion.
“Ral, please. I prefer to be called Ral. Rolls off the tongue more easily.”
“Well thank goodness! Your name is exhausting. Who thought of it, again?”
Ral was glad that there was something they agreed on like Bonn-o-Tron. It helped to build that trust that Joe so wanted. He thought for a minute before replying, “I believe it was a tall blonde woman with a name like Eleanor.”
Joe started placing his hand on each server computer as he had the elevator panel before. It was as if he was looking for something in the wiring, but Ral wasn’t sure how it was possible to do so with one’s eyes closed.
“Let’s see…this one is for email…this one is for financial records…ah, here we are!” It wasn’t clear what he was actually doing. Ral wasn’t paying him much attention at that point, because he had just noticed the camera with the tiny red LED that had been placed over the doorway. “Uh…they know where we are.”
Joe paused for a moment before shrugging and replying, “Of course they do. Not for long, though.” He threw his hands out and visible tendrils of electricity coursed through the room. Ral flinched instinctively and crossed his arms in a “t” in front of himself while turning his head away, shielding himself from the bright orange sparks that flew from the servers. Then the room went black and his ears started ringing.
Was he dead? No, he was fairly certain that death hurt a lot less, provided that one was dead and not dying. His body suddenly ached, his heart was pounding, and his nerves were constantly reminding him he was alive. Was he dreaming? It wasn’t that either, as far as he could tell. What was different?
“Well done. As per the deal I made earlier…the name’s Vintor Masaru.”
“Huh? But I didn’t do anything, did I?” He started trying to follow the sound of Vintor’s voice.
“I’ll tell you later. But for now, put your hands up to either side of your head like blinders and try to widen your eyes.”
“What do you-”
“Just do it. And try to imagine for second, what the room would look like if everything was glowing.”
Ral did a he was told, unsure what would come. There was a feeling of warmth and he was so startled that he almost let loose a scream. The room before him was so well lit that it was like daylight. But there were no windows…where had the light come from? It was a very strange light, sort of like everything in the room was glowing. He was fairly certain that it was not normal for objects to glow like that.
“What do you see?”
Ral whirled around and Vintor was already at the door, waiting to leave. “I…I don’t know. I can see the hallway, and…wait, why can I see?”
Vintor explained, “You can see, Ral, because you are a controller. And what I was looking for was for your abilities to surface.” There was something in his voice which sounded speculative, almost awestruck. “The light you see isn’t real. It’s imagined. Controlling is founded on figuring out how to stimulate certain parts of your brain to trigger your innate psychic ability, for effects ranging from physical to mental. Now then, we’re done here. Let’s go, shall we?”
“What…what did we even do here?”
“That’s not important anymore. The job is done, and we need to leave.”
Ral sighed and they started walking through the unlit hallways as their footsteps echoed through the darkness. Vintor walked confidently, acting like he owned the place. The hallways were empty and devoid of life, and there was nothing keeping them from getting to…A window on the same floor?
Vintor shot it to pieces with the machinegun he had commandeered before tossing the empty weapon aside. He pulled back his left sleeve and tapped at his wrist. A moment later, he began talking into it, “Hey, Lux? Yeah, hurry up. I got the data and wiped the servers, but things are too quiet here. It’s unnerving. Hmm? Sure, that’s fine. Bye.”
Ral raised his eyebrow quizzically.
“Well, we’re going to wait around for just a minute. Our ride is coming, and you can bet that he’s one of the best.” This statement was followed by a series of loud pops in the distance, like fireworks that were louder than they were supposed to be. Vintora approached the window to look. “Oh dear, it looks like he’s got his hands full.”
Ral noticed that things were no longer illuminated. He did, however, hear the sound of footsteps from around the corner that Vintor didn’t notice. He didn’t know if it was a guard or just some employee—or his imagination for that matter, as he was extremely tired—but he was loath to assume either. He tried to remember how Vintor had said to generate light, but he couldn’t seem to replicate it.
Think, Ral. Think!
That was when it hit Ral that there was a faster solution. He pulled the trigger twice and watched as the gun’s flash illuminated a man with a tight black jacket. The stranger wore what appeared to be a set of sports shades, and wielded a menacingly large weapon. The sudden gunshots made him jump, whirl around to face Ral, and let loose a shot that missed by mere inches. Ral fired again and hit him in the shoulder, causing him to grunt in pain, while Vintor shouted, “C’mon! Jump!” Ral approached the window but found himself frozen with fear He wasn’t good with heights, and he was being told to bet his life on jumping off of one.
“JUMP!” Vintor shoved Ral forwards over the edge, and Ral instinctively kicked at the ground, lifting himself from the smoky white tile floors. A grav car sped under him and he landed perfectly in the back row. There was a thud on the trunk and Ral glanced behind to see Vintor’s hand. The Japanese man pulled himself into the car and smiled.
“Heights aren’t so bad when you know how to trick gravity. I’ll teach you later, when I have time.” Ral simply eased into the seat, exhausted, and fell asleep.
Tzan wrote:
Semaj Nagirrac wrote:Well, I took some land without checking if it was owned by a faction or not. I'm not going to be banned, am I? I can destroy everything if need be.


That's what Hitler said,
in 1938.
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