Sunday, March 19, 2017

Glitch

She runs desperately down the rain-soaked street; hover cars zooming passed in the dimming light of evening.

The magnetic field beneath each passing car pushes the water that covers the road with its force and causes waves of splashing water to further soak her as she continues running through the chilly autumn rain.

Yet the wet cold of the rain water being dowsed upon her seems not to faze her in her loping search among the rows of identical-looking, compact apartment building units that line the narrow streets; jumbled jigsaw blocks stacked upon each other in order to maximize the ever depleting space in the downtown city core.

All she can think of is the next mind-numbing stab of pain that is undoubtedly coming to pierce her brain like an icy blade in the front of her forehead. The cause of which, she runs in desperation to get to the source of.

As if merely anticipating the coming pain could manifest it, a shooting jolt of white heat sears through her brain and she staggers, almost falling to her knees as she cradles her head in order to balance herself against the wave of dizzying pain that has overcome her.

With a guttural grunt of pain, she steadies herself as the pain subsides again and she looks slowly up at the apartment unit looming in front of her. This must be where it was emanating from, though in her state of mind, she's not quite sure.

Lurching forward, she pushes her way passed an exiting resident of the building through the security entrance and makes her way to the lifts, patting across the concrete floor in her soaking and bare feet.

Reaching the lift door, she slaps the call button as another lightning bolt of pain shocks her mind and this time she does fall to her knees, clutching her head, and moaning in agony.

They were getting more intense, which could only mean she was in the right place. All she needed to do was find the right apartment unit; as long as her brain didn't scramble itself beforehand.

The lift bell dinged its arrival and she got to her feet to stumble in and stab at the fifth floor button. A guess at this point, but it felt like the right one.

Once the lift opened onto the fifth floor, she shambled out into the hallway and used the featureless concrete walls to guide herself along the corridor of numbered doors that no doubt led into tiny, cramped apartment units. In one of which, lived the person she was after.

A high pitched ringing started to grow in her ears as she made her way along the hallway until it was deafening with a pain that filled her entire mind with red, blotching colour.

With a heave, she slammed her shoulder against a door that had a bluish glow emanating from unearth it, and surprisingly, it gave way, even under her slight weight and frame.

Inside the unit, almost hidden amongst the clutter of shelves that lined the walls, filled with knick-knacks and porcelain figurines, a little, old lady sits in front of her computer screen which shows a bright blue screen with a warning pop-up across it.

The woman's glasses magnify her eyes into googly-eyes that fill the entirety of the glass frames, yet she still squints to read the words on the alert message.

The bare-footed girl stumbles haphazardly to where the old woman sits at her tiny wall desk and pushes the surprised senior aside to hit the control-alt-delete buttons and clear the computer screen's message, replacing it with the black reboot screen.

She sighs with relief as the pain in lifted and she stumbles back to lean against on of the trinket-filled shelves.

The elderly woman blinks as she tries to focus her eyes on the young woman in the soaking wet blouse and skirt, her hair dripping and clinging to her damp cheeks.

"Oh, Judy, dear." The old woman greets her with recognition. "I was trying to send you a letter on the computer and that darn message kept coming up again and I forgot what I was supposed to push."

"It's ok, Grandma," Judy replies breathlessly. "But I've told you, you have to reboot the system when it freezes, or it will send out that signal they installed in my Occ-Unit app. I wrote it down for you."

Judy moves over to the wall above the computer and taps the piece of paper that was tacked there, which read: CTRL-ALT-DEL.

"Oh, dear, I forgot." Judy's grandmother said apologetically. "Well, would you like to have a cup of tea? You looked soaked, is it still raining out there?"


Monday, January 2, 2017

Raine

It had been some time since the world moved on; all that remained of the great civilizations that had once been, were are ruins and desolation.

Those that have survived eke out a desperate existence, trying to live in dying world; trying to remain hidden from those that have come after. Half-human nightmares that hunt down the innocent for sport, terrorizing an already horrific wasteland in which there are worse things still, laying in wait; watching out from the darkness.

Yet, there are some who bravely fight against the murderous hordes and the rising darkness that have grown stronger with each passing year, while the remnants of the old world corrode away in the unforgiving winds that whip across the land.

Lone warriors that have found a new life after the catastrophes of the old, helping those in need as they roam the wastes; heroes some call them, though they only think of themselves as fulfilling a duty to protect the precious good left in the world against the evil that now fills it; defending the light against the dark.

Like the master-less knights of old, they are Ronin.

Or at least that's how she pictured herself, but for the most part, Raine just escorted groups of families through the more treacherous areas of old Tokyo as they made their way to the oasis on the other side of the Nagoya ruins. She was little more than a babysitter, making sure they didn't get lost in the maze of vestiges of what was once the great metropolis of Japan.

She knew all the paths to take, but what made her such a good escort through the old city was that she knew all the routes not to take. The best way to stay out of trouble was to avoid it completely.

It was a sound practice, even if it did make the jobs she took tediously dull, she thought as she leaned upon her bow staff, watching the line of travellers clumsily make their way over the rubble pile that blocked the way to the next clear street.

One of the travellers slipped on a cache of loose rocks as they walked passed Raine and without thought, she quickly grabbed them by the arm to keep them from tumbling down into those that were already making their way down the other side of the hill.

The noise of the falling rocks echoed between the hollowed-out buildings, Raine, however, heard a second echo, coming from beside them and to the east. She scanned the open windows above; all seemingly empty, until a slight movement caught her eye.

"Run!" she commanded as she spun around, swinging her bow staff over her head and down to her side, blasting two shots from its pulse-gun tip, both hitting their mark as the limp body of a Cybred sniper fell from their perch in one of the windows overlooking the plaza they had just crossed through.

Murderous shouts came from the neighbouring buildings as she saw more figures move quickly in the shadows of the open windows above; those dreadful voices that were a mixture of enraged humans and screeching mechanics which had come to mean death in the new wastelands.

Not hesitating to think of the horrors she had witnessed at the hands of the Cybreds, Raine spun her staff and shot its grappling hook-shot from the other tip. Catching the frame of one of the windows, she retracted the cable and flew through the air while drawing her blaster with her free hand.

Shooting two more of the gang members out of the building opposite of where she now repelled to, she was able to holster her weapon and tumble through the open window with a somersault into a full run to smash another surprised Cybred sniper in the face with a swing of her bow staff.

Not slowing down, she leapt out of the next window and onto the rubble-litter roof of the connecting building, where two more screaming Cybreds fell victim to her spinning bow attacks.

Another grappling shot to the building across the narrowing plaza and she was leaping away to meet the four gang members who were moving to pounce down upon the still fleeing travellers.

As she landed with another roll, Raine let fly two of her bandoleer knifes to hit the first two charging Cybreds dead center in each of their cybernetic eyes. Small electrical bolts fizzled over their heads as they fell to the ground, their fellow marauders leapt over their dead bodies to get at her.

Raine swung the grappling tip around and shot the pointed hook out and through the flesh and metal chest of the front runner as she ran toward the second and veered to the side with the cable strung between her and the Cybred that now stood looking down at the harpoon in their chest.

The cable caught the still charging Cybred in the neck and Raine pulled the razor sharp wire tight, slicing their grotesquely enhanced head clean off their diseased body.

Retracting the hook with a button click on the side of the staff, the already dead Cybred fell to the ground and she turned to look down to see that a couple of the Cybreds had gotten to ground level and were screaming toward the terrified caravan like rabid wolves.

Quickly judging the distance between the building she now stood on top of and the one beside it, she ran toward the edge of the roof and engaged the thrusters in her boots to give her the extra boost she needed to reach the side of the other building.

Hitting the crumbling wall, Raine quickly rebounded and hit the thrusters again to make the leap back down to the wall of the building she had just left.

Making a few jumps back and forth, she made her way down the sides of the building to land with the last of the thrusters' fuel to soften the impact into a dead run towards her caravan, trying to head off the attackers before they reached them.

The one closest to her she managed to pick off with her blaster, but the other was nearly upon the straggling traveller that had almost fallen down the hill only a few minutes ago.

The Cybred marauder was aiming their rifle as they ran and Raine dove to tackle the stumbling caravanner.

Luckily the Cybred's targeting implants must have been deteriorating because its shot went wide of their heads, but Raine felt the searing pain of the laser blast hitting her hand as she went down, covering the screaming traveller as they both rolled across the gravelly ground.

With blurring speed, Raine was back up on her feet and had drawn her katana as the Cybred fell upon her. With a deft up-sweep she caught the cybernetic monster in the chest, and then decapitated them with the down-stroke.

Both the body and head tumbled forward and careened to the ground as Raine stood still in her stance, sword blade dripping with black, oily blood.

The caravan of travellers had stopped their frantic escape and was now looking at their guide as she caught her breath and checked for anymore threats.

When no more came, Raine bent down to help the fallen traveller up, and as she held out her hand, the traveller recoiled in horror at the blast mark on Raine's out-stretched hand.

For, instead of cauterized flesh and blood that should have been there, the exposed robotics of her cybernetic mandible could be seen through the hole in her glove.

"You're one of them!" The shocked traveller screeched as they rolled away from her and scrambled up to join the others. "She's a Cybred!"

"I am NOT..." Raine started to protest against being called one of those filth, but the rest of the caravan started to scream and run away from her as she stepped toward them, bloody sword still drawn.

"She led us here to be slaughtered and used for parts by those monsters!" The feeling traveller shouted. "Run! Get away from us, you animal!"

Raine started after them, but stopped after a step with a sigh; what's the use, she thought, they've been hunted too long, they wouldn't believe her if she told them her robotics were from before the world had moved on; that they had always been apart of her.

So she let them run, they had paid half up front and since they had only come half of the way, it wasn't a total loss.

Bending down to wipe her sword off on the tattered pants of the dead Cybred on the ground; she looked at its mangled body, a horrific mix of rotting flesh and corroded metal. She then looked at her own hand; the exposed metal wasn't even marked from the blast, it glistened in the noon sun.

Soon the bio-flesh would begin to heal itself over the wound and it would be good as new, not even a scar.

No, Raine was nothing like those creatures that had come after, she thought as she sheathed the sword upon her back, picked her bow staff off the dusty ground and began walking in the direction the travellers had run off in.

They were stupid and afraid, but she had still given her word that she would see them through the city safely, even if she had to do so from the shadows.

In truth, she wasn't like anyone; a prototype from a dead past, a relic in a dying future. A Ronin.