WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP
I could hear the helicopter-like sound long before it came into view, going maybe three hundred feet in the air I stop from my position on the side of the road and keep looking, it followed the highway, once it got close enough I could make out the four rotors on the trapezoid shape. two in the back and one on each side. I see the red and blue cadaucius on the underside and knew it was the medical transport they sent out, took them only five minutes to get here. I shift the duffel bag to a more comfortable position and keep walking. I had seen nothing but grass, and some small hills along with cars going by at about 80 MPH, soon enough the transport zooms overhead again, it was going slower and the rear rotors had spaced themselves out to make a more stable flight, as quick as it came, it was gone.
I keep walking along the road, an occasional car passing by and breaking the sound of crickets. I keep getting flashbacks over what happened in the last few hours, I could still see the smirk on the one EVO's face before he lept off the wall... he seemed different than the others somehow, and it kept making me uneasy, what was he?
Soon enough I look down the highway and see a fence, maybe twelve feet tall, surrounding a field of corn that was maybe several acres worth in size plus a two story, blocky-looking building to the right of the field. I keep walking down and when I get close enough I could hear the fence was electrified too, I pass the gate, a retractable part of the fence with a control box on the other side. I shrug and keep walking... Then I get the feeling of being watched. I hadn't seen anyone when I walked past, it didn't come from the front, I was about to turn around when-
I glance behind me and see someone standing there with a rifle shouldered and aimed at my head "Don't move. What are you doing out here?" He says with underlying hostility. He was in a track jacket and a pair of olive drab cargos... and I was half expecting a soldier to be there.
"I'm passing through."
He snorts "I doubt it, nobody walks around here, unless they want to get picked up by marauders... or break in here." He never let his guard down once, he was expecting me to try something... but still...
"You must be new here, yes marauders, bunch of drunk idiots that are more likely to mug and beat the hell out of you than say hello."
"Sounds cheerfull, but I doubt they could do that to me." Hope they didn't find me in the first place, I wasn't in a kind mood right now.
"You sound like an idiot with that, even if you were a EVO, thirty drunk idiots could still take you down." Oh, thirty drunk idiots now! This just keeps getting better.
"Can I just leave then? I'm not here to break into, whatever the hell is in there." I raise my arm toward the fence.
"Call a cab and leave, that way I know you won't be lying."
I felt like correcting him "I could still tell the driver to stop, and come back anyway you know."
"Smartass, i'll just call the-" I never found out who he was going to call because at that moment a explosion hit somewhere inside the fenced area, the cornstalks kept me from seeing what caused it, but it certainly got the guy's attention, because he curses and runs back inside, the gate/fence sliding up to block off entrance. I keep walking so that he won't come back out and threaten me again.
I keep going until I was far enough away to see the fire coming from the fenced off area, it looked like somone just threw a bit of fire into a field, it was being delt with, but then my head decides to do a recall then. I pinch the bridge of my nose as schematics pop up, that wasn't the only field, in fact there was twelve below it, all growing different crops grown with hydroponics... no wonder he didn't want anyone around there, a tiny bit of smashing and a entire crop's ruined. I watch for a few seconds more and keep moving, the quarter moon lighting the road dimly.
The tallest buildings of Dallas were starting to be seen now, and I could see giant advertisments being displayed on them, aimed at people below, even from here i could hear... that music wasn't coming from the city! I close my eyes and listen, it was coming from my left and getting closer, I remember what that one person had said about marauders... looks like I get to have some fun after all. I note the sole tree I have seen since I started walking and decide to stash my baag up in the branches, better than having some scumbag try and take what's in it, I still hadn't searched the bag in it's entirety so hiding it seemed reasonable.
That feeling of being watched showed up again, at least it was being watched and not that danger prickle on the bac of my neck. I wait by the tree and start to hear yelling, and vehicles... I see a buggy, black with a red skull and an ace of spades painted on the side, whip over a small hill and donut right next to the tree, he failed to kick up any dust, and stops just when another crests the hill and spins out, hits the other side of the road and stops, a punk in a red t-shirt and black jeans climbs out of the first buggy, not a single ounce about I liked, spiked black hair with the tops dyed red and he had a bottle of... vodka in his hand, a tatoo showed above his shirt collar and it glowed a slow pulsating variation of red and yellow, it looked like the top part of a wolf head.
"And what does this mean? A person miles from Dallas leaning against the tree, either he's lost, wanting to join the party, or just stupid." He finishes off the bottle and smashes it against the side of the buggy, letting the shards fall out of his gloved hand he walks up to me... I could smell alot of alchohol on his breath "So which are you?" I can give him credit for not slurring any of his words, but I bet he was close to passing out from how strong the smell was.
I cock my head at him "None, you forgot taking a break in those little options."
He lets out a small laugh "I forgot an option did i? let's see, we'll forget about that one you mentioned, so... last chance, which option are ya?" The guy that was riding with him climbs out "L, just forget about him, Jonas said he'd wait five minutes, we got three left!"
"I do what the hell I want! Jonas'll have to wait seven you little shithead." He turns his head back to me "And now where were we? Oh yes, you can either start running before I run you over with the buggy or we can make this a fun fight, Your choice." I hated this guy... I chuckle and crack my knuckles, thirty to one my ass, it's four on one, completely unfair for them.
"I'll chose option two."
He looks back at his little group "You heard him bo- Aghk!" I deck him with a single punch, he goes skidding across the ground and stays still, completely knocked out... they look at him then back to me, I pop my neck and say "Next?" which pisses the other buggy's driver off.
He leans out "Damn he's a strong one! Cross, get him into the buggy, let's jut kill him and be over with it." He starts his engine... didn't expect them to be aggressive enough to try and run me over... but they didn't even get the chance to do that... because a certain blue dragon with a collar lands between me and them.
"Holy fucking shit!"The one buggy peels out as I watch the dragon snap at the kid while he tried to pull his buddy into the buggy, he makes it and starts the engine and peels out after his friend.
"Punks, one thing hasn't changed." He says.
"Didn't expect to see you again." I say as I drag my bag out of the tree's branches.
"Same here, but when I saw the warbird go down I flew over and saw you leaving the wreckage, I decided to follow you and payback a small part of that debt I owe you." Something had been nagging me since he landed, so I decide to ask.
"Shouldn't you have attacked the punks... with more instinct-rage-ism I mean." He moves a claw up and taps his collar.
"This little thing, the doctors started experimenting into tech methods to solve the instinct problem, this prototype does that, I have no idea how it works though, but at least it does." I had been wondering what it does.
I start walking and he plods beside me, on the outside of the road. "So how did your escape go?"
"The moment those lift doors opened... there was so many shocked faces that it would have been funny, if it hadn't been for the fact more than half of us were instinct crazy right then, you noted the destruction we caused? Almost all of it was from the un-collared dragons, once that was over and most of them got their wits back everbody sort of... divided, some went this way, others completely different, only a few stayed in groups."
"Looks like I did good on that promise then, has anyone been following us?"
"No, once the reinforcements arrived they cornered off the base and started searching close around the base, the last time I looked they had given up on tracking us."
"Well at least one thing went for the better, so what are you going to do now... besides follow me around?"
"I was about to ask you the same, but i might head up to Amarillo, there's someone there i need to see." I remember what caused him to end up at the facility...
"I see... I hope that goes well for you, before I forget to ask, what's you name?'
"Well, Aaron if you ever need to look for me just use the name Shane."
"Found a name for yourself?"
"Actually no, That was the name of someone else... who i happen to be a clone of." He stops in his tracks.
"Clone? You're a clone?"
"I was as suprised as you are, but it explains how I never left the facility until they shipped me out into the war..." And I continue on with the story as we resumed walking... at the end of my story he shakes his head "And i thought it was bad enough for me, you actually had people directly trying to kill you, plus having yourself? I guess, die infront of you... makes me feel sorry for you Shane."
I move my eyes from their downcast position to the sky above "Don't feel sorry for me, what happened, happened, I can't change it. The most I can do is keep it from affecting my future actions, i'm free now... that price has hopefully been paid in full... and I intend to make the most of it."
"I hope for that too, do you want me to fly you towards Dallas and drop you off there before I head of to Amarillo?" I think on it, the city was going to have defences similar to Dublai, or even stronger than that... I remember most of those defences and guess they have a five-mile range, and that's just the bullet operated ones, the long range defences were missle guided and used radar to find targets... so maybe...
"You could, but I'm worried about the city defenses, if you were willing you could take me, but you would have to keep as low to the ground as possible and drop me off about eight miles away from the city."
"That's better than walking from here to there, and dragon's are better fliers than you think, plus we don't crash so dramaticaly when close to the ground." That makes me flashback to when I crash-landed the warbird... he moves his wngs down some and lowers enough for me to jump on if I wanted to... should I really try this?
I pull up a menu on aurora first, taking out the gps display and linking it to my eye, I get a shock and a distance flickers to lifew on my eye, distance to Dallas? a good twenty five miles, I hop up his back and say "Let's go." He takes a running leap and get's into the air, he was REALLY close to the ground, we needed to only be under a hundred feet, but he makes it where his claws could scrape the ground if he wanted to. He veers away from the highway some as traffic started to increase, I watch the distance meter begin to close, twelve miles... ten, nine. I tap him on the side of his neck and he glances back to see me holding my thumb upside down, gesturing for him to land... he makes a little hop when he touches down. I get rid of the little meter with a few quick taps on aurora and slide of of his back.
"Don't mention it, hope to see you again someday Shane." I reply with "Same here." as he takes off, headed out on his way, I really hope things go well for him. I walk back to the highway and keep my head down as I keep walking toward the city, I see a sign pop up, orange on the black steel supports, I look at it and see [Dallas= two miles] written on it. I couldn't hold my gaze any longer and I look at the city, and my jaw almost drops. The city was... well, amazing!
Buildings, all made of black steel glittered in the glare cast by hundreds of neon signs and digital advertisements, cars ran on four-lane streets throughout the entire city and hundreds of people walked the streets, even from here I cold spot people doing things, but that wasn't the only thing, there was airborne... wait these ones were running along magnetic tracks set around buildings and walls to reach the next tiers in the city, making it easier to navigate, and even from here I could smell food... and it made my stomach rumble. Aircraft rumbled through the city at odd intervals, passing between buldings and dropping people off at stations, and I could see that just about everything was spotless, not a single peice of grit to scrutinize.
"I think I just walked into paradise." This was the first city I had seen that wasn't in any state of damage or chaos, and it made a big impression, if all cities were like this...
I continue walking toward the city, ever wary of the increased amount of traffic the zoomed past me on the roads and highway, more than once I had to hop out of the way of a speeding car when I crossed an intersection, the smell of food get's stronger and I pass by a shop called Mcdonald's, people would walk up, order something and seconds later they got it in a bag and walked off, those that didn't ate at a counter off to the side, my stomach rumbled and I couldn't resist... but I needed money... wait. I pop open the canvas bag and root around for something, I find it near the bottom and pull it out, a wallet, a black and white barbed wire design ran down the tri-fold wallet, I open it up and find what I needed, a card, black with a blue line running on the back, it had my name printed on it along with a small button, I press the button and a currency amount pops up... wow, Shane really had built up his cash in the millitary, it read a good 400 million UWC, or United World Currency, also nicknamed creds, which rendered close to a single dollar being 1.25 more than the standard american dollar used by the U.S in the early two-thousands... I chuckle since it's ironic it's called united world currency while we're in the middle of world war four.
I take my thumb off the card and the little projection fades... well since I had money... I walk up and hang back while I look at the menu... quite a lot to choose from actually, I finaly decide and walk up to the machine and type my order in, two double half-pounders with cheese, plus bacon and minus pickles along with a large set of onion rings and a cup of watermelon flavored fruit juice (100% natural too) I press the pay button and the card swipe lights up, I swipe the card and find out I have a armed services discount, taking the 20+ cred order and taking it down to sixteen-ish in payment, my face shows up alongside the payment and somone walks up from the kitchen hidden in back, she checks that I actually am the person displayed, she doesn't notice the different scars and just hands me the bag. I take it and let off a small thank you before heading to a secluded part of the counter where other people were eating, maybe five out of twelve total seats were occupied, I get one closest to the window and farthest from the people and pull out my food.
There was two projections along the wall, one showing the news and the other showing a football game featuring robot players, they looked human, except minus the pads, I saw some crunchy takedowns during that game, whenever one went down for good, another just rushed out onto the field... as I tear into the burger I start to naturally eavesdrop on other peoples conversations...
"...Told you, Mars is a bad idea Jakob." That line peaked my interest and I listen closer to the two guys talking.
"Say's the guy who lost his dad during the red riots, from what i've seen it isn't that bad, sure, they lack some of the advanced tech we've got, but at least they aren't killing each other in a world war."
"That's because they just got out of a war with Earth-"
"Ah no, they didn't get into a war with Earth, they became independant from Earth, there's a difference."
"Have you forgot the history implant? It was a revolution, and besides, America became independant and got into a war with Britain, who's to say that it isn't going to happen in a few years when we have the battleships done?"
"Psssh, you think we want more fighting on our hands? The alterists have been getting ground and the advantists are about to make a move soon, this war has been going on for how long? Ten, eleven years? We won't be wanting to tangle with anyone after this is all over... if it ever is."
"What's that supposed to mean? Of course it will end, it's just that who wins that will be the thing i'm worried about, becoming a damn experiment for the other two sides doesn't exactly rate high on my wishlist."
"Amen to that brother, let's hope America sorts all this shit out like it did back in world war three." They get up and walk out after dumping their trash, they get back to talking about mars as they head down the street and out of earshot... why mars? I still hadn't gotten enough recall about mars to get a good picture, so I was still in the dark on that one. I finish the onion rings off and down half of the drink before starting on the last burger... unfortunately someone decided to interupt my tasty meal with "Damn, are you training for an eating competition or something?" I stop, look, and see a teen sitting at the seat next to me, he couldn't have been more than 15, shock of dirty blonde hair and was thin as a stick, wearing a light blue sleeveless under a worn black track jacket and a pair of tan cargo shorts... who is this kid?
"No, if I was i'd probably not be eating anything then." I could see he was nervous... what was he trying to do? I set the burger down and grab the drink with my left hand to see if he tries anything, I take a drink and he reaches his hand like lightning into my pocket and tried to take my wallet, he gets his hand on the wallet, but before he could even get two steps and escape my free hand wraps around his arm like steel and slams him back into the seat, I set the drink down and give him an icy stare "Just what the hell do you think you're doing?" The look on his face was priceless, he had expected to get away from me without a hitch, he might have too if he had not acted so nervous and talked a bit more... or not tried to do it when I was obviously baiting him.
"I.. ah.. i, ugh shit... sorry?" I think he was about ready to faint.
"Not exactly helping my mood. Why were you trying to take my wallet when it'd be no use to you whatsoever?" I ask in an even tone, seeing if that would get him to tell me why... did I forget to mention that the card is DNA coded? Only the registered user can use it also.
"I can't tell you..." Okay, unexpected response, i thought it would be something stupid like "I need money." or something honest like "Because i want to jack your id to mess with you." not what he said.
"Oh, in that case... I think i'll just hand you over to the cops then and see how that works." He get's a look of absolute fear in his eyes. I had seen some cops patrolling the streets, full, polarized helmets with assault rifles and armor made of black steel, you could almost mistake them for soldiers by their looks... and I saw one dude get smashed in the face when he tried to struggle against being arrested earlier, I don't think they go easy on anyone, so I figured a threat like that would shake the kid a little....looks like paradise has a dark side.
He burst out "It was a dare! My stupid friends wanted me to do it!" before I could move.
"So that's what it was... are they watching right now?" He looks past me and shook his head, I glance and see that he wasn't lying, nobody in sight.
"Alright, then here, you get one chance, one, to make a convincing sorry to me, and then if I like it enough, you can go find your asshole friends, and have them laugh at you for trying this. So let's begin, convince me your sorry."
"Agh, i'm really sorry about this, my friends are assholes, can you please let me go? I won't do it again." The kid was shaking, just barely, but I knew he was scared out his mind that I was going to turn him over to the cops, and whatever the hell they will do to him. His voice may not have had much to convince me, but he wasn't a punk, I could tell that just by the way he acted... Too scared.
"Alright go." I let go of his arm and decide to add to that "You should find new friends while you're at it." He just nods his head, wide-eyed and runs out, I see the only person who payed attention was this one guy who shot me a thumbs-up before getting back to his food.
After finishing my food I toss the trash into a bin, and head back out onto the street. The night was still young apparently, but I needed to check something that occured to me, unfortunately these streets made it hard to bring up aurora's menu without someone looking at me, and I felt that opening up the aurora would be a bad thing out here, so against my better judgement, when there wasn't anyone close enough I hold up aurora and whisper "Aurora, re-engage mental command interface." I watch the menu pop up on the right side of my vision, a couple status things pop up before slowly fading, one showed calorie intake... not important, the other showed the time, 1:02 A.M, taht was actually helpfull.
I take a look at the menu and imagine sliding it to the left, more options flick into view, this would take getting used to, like all things apparently.
-Aurora, search for residence of Shane Smith.- The thought brings up a GPS map on my right side and it zooms in, until it was hovering over a yellow point placed maybe a good mile from where I was, which was represented by a green arrow.
I decide to think another command -Aurora set LPS to marked destination- A shock to my eye and the familiar yellow line appears on the ground, I use another thought and hide the menu, and everything else. I set out, trying to keep an eye out for anything, most people walked around had something occuping them, IAPs mostly, but a few had music going and others just had friends with them... and I started to notice something else. There were others, not as obvious as the others, trying to keep a low profile with their downcast gaze and clothing, hoods pulled over their heads, trench coats and other heavy wear, most tended to look away when I looked at them, then I start noticing other details, some had odd colored eyes... correction, oddly colored or oddly shaped eyes, I passed one person and saw a wolfish tail coming out of the back of his jeans... so EVOs were out here too, but they all seemed a little... depressed, most of the humans were generaly happy, they completely ignored anyone around them, so why were the EVOs acting like they were being stared at and shunned?
I keep looking around as I got closed to the destination, places started turning from buisness and ads to residential areas, apartment blocks mostly dominated this area, and a lot of cargo elevators for some reason. I start noticing less and less people walking and more driving, I find out what those cargo elevators are for when someone drives their red tuner into one and it takes the car underground before reappearing several seconds later... underground parking lots. I see a sign up ahead on a small apartment block that was apparently my destination... Sub-terran flats? Yep, that's what it said, right there in the middle of it, there was three stories, and a large cargo elevator built into the building itself, sitting right next to the main door. The line points into the elevator so I shrug and head in there, a downward pointing arrow pops up, showing level three in the middle of it, I guess that's where I need to go, I look at the panel, twelve? I hit number three and the elevator back closes after a second (maybe scanning my print) and starts going down. Okay, so it's actually the larger of the apartment blocks, but it's going down, not up, should have known when I read the sign.
I pass three floors, noting that each looked like a garage... wait these are garages! The elevator stops, and see what must be "My" garage, the light flickers on and I see something covered by a white sheet and several benches covered with neatly arranged tools, and a few parts. I step out and the elevator returns to the surface, I glance and see a black door on the right, mst be the actual entrance, the line had faded now and I guess that this was my place. I decide to put off taking off the sheet off on whatever that was, I walk up to the door and place my hand against the metal, it takes an unusually long time to scan my hand, but then the red light in the top right corner goes green and the door slides open.
"Place looks more like a studio than a flat." And it did, the only walls were the ones that held the garage and pretty much the four that held the room itself, the walls were a dark glossy black with a azure line through it and the floor was gray carpet and made the room maybe thirty by thirty? Feet, and there was quite a bit of stuff, most of it was brand new looking, not a speck of dust, I could see a couch with a TV sitting over to the right, and a bed over in the top right, and some tables with electronics, some other things held in the room, four pillars held in the room like a square and at the center was a table, I set my bag down on it and look a bit more, open kitchen in the top left with a recessed fridge and oven/microwave combo also recessed next to it and a small bar/counter with a pair of seats and was the only place with steel as the floor... So this is where he lived? I look around and see a door that had to lead to the bathroom sitting on the other side of the garage.
I sit at the only seat at the table and hold my head in my hands, everything came rushing back at me, the pit, the years... the war, everything. The memories wouldn't leave me be, every time I shoved one out another took it's place. I pinch the bridge of my nose, sigh and decide I needed something to take my mind off of all that's happened, I use a thought and aurora display's entry number two of Shane's journal... it was dated a year and a half after the first one.
The military is a bitch, and it doesn't suprise me, training was ruthless, but I passed well enough, got thrown into the officer core afterwards, and THEN some disturbing training began... i still managed to pass it though. I've decided to keep the aurora secret, I made some upgrades during what little time i have, and this thing is starting to resemble the ultimate omni-tool with all that it can do. Why am I even doing this? Why write down what's happening in my life? Maybe it's just because I can, maybe some reason I can't seem to think of, it's just another record people can look at... my entire life could be written down in here, and all someone would have to do was get their hands on this thing and bingo, all my secrets discovered.
I found out the military is starting a new batch of EVO experiments, and suprisingly they approached me with it, at first i thought they were going to throw me onto a lab table and start experimenting, but then they just asked for a blood sample and some skin and hair... said some bullshit about it being "Rejection/acceptance rates" in people close to my genetic makeup... it gets annoying when you can easily tell when someone is lying to you, at least i got a nice bonus out of it... let's just hope this doesn't come back to bite me in the ass... literally and metaphoricaly.
They're about to ship me off to a mission, somewhere in Brazil i think, supposedly a bunch of alterists are camped down there in the jungle, the team i got partnered with is actually excited to go... seems stupid for them to be, i personally expect it to be a guerrilla assault with us being the suckers on the receiving end, let's see if that training pays off.
Journal of Shane Smith, entry two
END OF RECORD
The projection fades as I start to think on it, so that's how I ended up being a clone, they BS him and he gets a bonus, I get created... I shake my head, I wonder what else is written down on here... but that can wait for tomarrow. I get out of the chair and look around I spot a dresser built into the wall sitting next to the bed, I grab the bag and head over there, I pull out all three droors, nothing, all of them were empty, I even caught sight of a little spiderweb on the bottom drawer. I put all the clothe away from the bag, and it gives me a better veiw of what else he had, theres the books, I set them next to the shirts and shut the drawer, the rest of the stuff... a red and black stick, maybe five inches long... don't know what that's for, so I just leave it in there, there was a small glass slide, i'm suprised it wasn't cracked, I hold it up and see a picture slideshow start, first a projection of a middle-aged woman, I could tell it was his mother by the similarities, then it hsifts to a much older looking man, maybe in his sixties crouching next to a younger version of Shane who was also crouching, both of them looked... happy.
That was it, just those two pictures on constant cycle... it wasn't much, but it made me feel hollow. I set it on the counter and look for something else... I find a roughly triangular block, only and inch long and wide, with a small chain that I could hook my thumb through, didn't know what that was for either, I look on the bottom and see a small square plug, I know this wasn't a flash drive, not the right plug type, I set it over by the picture slide and get back to the bag... what's this?
I pull out a pair of sunglasses, black on black, the lenses so tinted I couldn't even see the other side. I turn them around and put them on and I could still see the room, I feel a button on them and when I press it the lens fold and slide back into the frame, giving me a clear view of the room, I press the button again and it slides back, I brush another smaller button on the side and I press it out of curiosity. A little progress bar lights the center of both lenses and when it turns on a diagnostic screen pops up and I see one phrase that catches my eye...
[Link to aurora established, updating...]
The screen lights up and I get a menu view of the aurora, I flip the sunglasses off and when I look at them on he outside I still see nothing, wonder why he made these when the aurora already linked to the eye?
I hit that smaller button and it goes dark, I set it on the counter too. There was nothing else in the bag except the stick, so I take out and zip the bag up before tossing it into the bottom drawer of the built-in dresser. The stick sat oddly in my hand, I flip it up into the air and catch it when it came down, that must be why he had it, just for entertainment. I hit somethingthe second time i catch it and it starts to glow, slowly in the colors of red a blue the faster I flipped it the more it glowed, I stop after a bit and the glow slowly fades, I toss it on the table in the center of the room, it stops close to the edge and stays still.
I was tired, it just deciding to hit now, and my eyes droop some, making me even more tired, At least I had a bed, I kick off my shoes and shirt and then I notice I sitll had the dogtags on, I leave them on, something to remember the past by, and I lay down on the bed... soft, I hadn't slept in a bed this soft in... well, ever. The lights still cast enough glare to annoy me, but then I get an idea -aurora turn the lights off.- And they shut down, leaving me in total darkness, better... i don't realize that I fell asleep in under a minute.