TURFPTAx First Chapter

First Chapter

“Boom” Tom said with his southern twang.

“The largest explosion sound any human ears ever had heard happening all over the world” Tom did the universal sign of “allover” with his arms. “Ha haa, can you imagine the stock price of Depends that day” Tom chuckled with his iconic slow deep “ha ha”s.

“well if the stock market hadn’t crashed that is.”

Tom had the appearance of a southern cowboy save for his distaste of wide-brimmed hats and pointed shoes. He wore jeans and flannel religiously and had a Texan accent that made him sound less intelligent than he actually was. Tom was stocky and tall giving him an intimidating presence, but it was his booming voice that allowed him to guide an entire room with his sheer will.

As Cecil approached the group he could see Peter and Steve hanging on Toms words while they waited patiently at a shot to say something insightful..

“I wouldn’t have been scared, I’d have been prepared and found… or would have used… my shelter.”   Peter stated.

“Right you would” Tom mocked. “… cause you’re always prepared. No, we would be shitting our collective pants like everyone else besides those poor folks that had those bag things to prevent such an embarrassment back then. They were the ones who were prepared, probably the only ones.”

Peter looked at the floor as he shrugged his shoulders.

“You’re forgetting the GSRE and the global military task force who were scattered abroad waiting for them Tom” Cecil retorted having been ebbing toward the group during their conversation.

“Those goons didn’t know the difference between their buttcheeks and watermelons Cecil and you know it… heck you work for for em now” Tom said staring at Cecil. “You didn’t bring any juicy classified stuff today did you, heck I would settle for some undoctored declassified morsels at this point.”

“No… like I just told… an acquaintance, I can’t make any mistakes at work. We haven’t been very fruitful lately. We haven’t been producing anything to justify the waste of government money. The whole agency is just waiting for someone to mess up, so they can turn their salary, my salary, into field equipment funds.”

“Your other friends are just crazy, I wouldn’t listen to them if I were you.”

“You know if had another place to go I would say the same thing for you Tom, but I have to listen to you, cause you are too loud, and this place is too small.”

Some chuckles could be heard from around the room.

“I’m just a humble entrepreneur” Tom said while smirking. ‘Can’t blame me for trying to get an edge.”

And I’m just trying to live my life peaceably and get enough savings together to retire on while you two squander all your extra income on fantasies. Cecil thought as he took a seat facing the couched group.

“Anyways” Tom said turning to address the others. “As I was saying the proverbial shit hit the real-life Suit-AC fans in those GSRE goons scattered around the world. Sadly, each only had a team of 20 thousand strong per site…”

Tom went on to describe the invasion of 51 making sure to focus on the bits that really mattered to him. Tom would retell the story each time adding information that he had gathered. Cecil wasn’t bored by this monologue of Tom’s because it wasn’t boring it was perplexing. Sometimes he would even recite the gathered facts in chronological order in his own head, wondering if he or everyone missed some giant clue. The invasion as Tom was describing took place in the year 2051. It was on a Tuesday morning at about 10 am in Weslin when 100 or more craft descended upon their world each measuring roughly 2 kilometers cubed and each descended at supersonic speeds. The slap Tom used to mimic the sounds couldn’t have done the incident any justice. Most people who survived it were considered medically deaf afterwards.

As viewed from the ground during the decent the ships, which they would call Ochimas later, resembled river stones covered in cloud plumes descending slowly as if sinking in water but growing in size oddly disperponiate to their apparent speed. Frigid air blasted down within miles of the landing sites creating torrents of air at hurricane speeds. The air pressure rose and altered sounds into lower frequencies as it ripped over the ships. As the vessels broke through the clouds wisps of white water particulates parted in protruding bits off the craft and revealed the burnt-orange/red color of their hulls. Giant shadows appeared on the ground were cloud and ship blocked the sun producing alien looking dark marks stretching for kilometers; these vertically stretched cloud shadows wildy resembled moving tentacles racing over landmass features  as if straight from a nightmare.

As the behemoths neared the ground, most light now being blotted out, 6 giant legs telescoped out  measuring 500 meters in length. Their stubby conical shape with blunt end met the ground with penetrating force immersing the legs a quarter of the way in as they made purchase. The ground rippled like water as the impact points turned molten red when they transferred their kinetic energy into the earth. The wave of raised earth met with the other impact point waves creating a meshed weave that could visibly be seen almost toward the horizon. Like six drops of water upon a still pond. The earth acted like watery clay and settled only seconds after, leaving the traufs of colliding waves permanently etched into the surface. This  gave cartographers much work to do for decades.

The sonic booms were loud but the vibration and undulation of the impact of these ships was earthshaking beyond their localized effects. It was hard to tally the deaths of the incident because of the chaos that ensued with the crumbling of most governments in the aftermath.

Water became scarce, roads were decimated, and there were not enough relief agencies in the solar system to save everyone let alone a tenth of those in need of basic life necessities. The death tally would raise even an entire year later while the earth reeled and would take another 5 years to even resemble the former way of life for those still amongst the living.

Seven of the crafts had landed in heavily populated areas causing catastrophic damage and loss of life. The GSRE had been privy to the crafts approaching but the public was not. They gathered at strategically designed points located in the Americas, Europe, Australia, and one in Antarctica. After the dust settled most accounts would tell that they fired on the ships with artillery and nukes, but the specifics have conflicting time frames. What is generally known or believed to be true is that the GSRE used all the weapons they had available to them. The only slight hint of a successful attack was in the form of 3-meter-deep dimples created by the nuclear blasts fired upon them. and the creators they left on the ground.

The firing and bombardment of human invention ceased sometime by the evening of that day and resulted in many more human casualties. Historians say that just as the firing ceased the world was most likely the quietest it had been for millennia.

“Then nothing…nothing” Tom looked around at each audience member individually. “Not for 1 hour or two hours but for 3 freaking days” Tom exclaimed. “can you imagine the entire world releasing its most powerful weapons on an alien species who invaded, to be met with silence…” Toms voice quieted.

“They did fire back though” Peter said. “It wasn’t right away but they fought back hard.”

“Cecil you want to chime in on any details that I might have gotten wrong?” Tom glanced back at Cecil who was nursing his cup. “or should I go on with what might be erroneous information?” Tom grinned open mouthed just barely showing the tips of his perfect white teeth.

Cecil internally debated on whether to say anything or not. He had told Tom that he himself had little to no information of the event past what the public had known. Some of the best information came from those who were lucky enough to witness the event, survive, and not be shocked enough to give a clear account. He had heard some say that the ships emitted thousands of craft that landed and little green men came out or that the ships themselves opened up like flowers and a giant ray gun fired at the soldiers. Most accounts had been wrong according to the few images that were allowed by the UE through massive censorship, but the truth was obscured as much as the motive of this alien race. Cecil decided to speak up, Tom still looking back at him with an opened mouth.

“You probably know more than me at this point Tom”

Tom stared at him for a few moments waiting for another response then added: “Well, if you uncover anything be sure to share it with the group won’t ya Cec?”

Cecil raised his glass toward Tom before taking a gulp from it.

“Peter, since you did your research, you mind sharing with us your findings on what took place afterwards, and try not to add any commentary alright.”

Peter prepared himself before speaking, he pushed back his hair and sat up straight as he started his oration of the facts. “We all know that the soldiers perished 3 days after they fired on the crafts, almost at the same time at each site save for the handful of craft that had no  humans near them, we don’t know anything about those.” Peter paused momentarily to glance at Tom before proceeding. He hoped he used the word ‘save’ in the right manor. “From the sources of news agencies’ broadcasts we get the audio fragments that describe some sort of light piercing through some of the soldiers and accounts of most coms going dead. These sources though were mostly destroyed or considered top secret afterwards so it is difficult to sift through the doctored records.”

“Peter, i thought i…”

“Right but, these were confirmed when some scavengers found buried suits with the GSRE soldiers still in them all having a whole in the center of their torso. They  filmed a short video showing one of them and posted it on 2 dark web sites with massive encryption before the reestablishment of the global network by the UE.” Peter looked at Tom exasperated from his last sentence and took a deep breath before proceeding. “Do you want me to show one of the videos I have downloaded?” He said while showing some reluctance.

“Nah Peter, no need to show off today with your fancy computers.” Tom said with a fake smile. A little pep in Toms step seemed to fade. He squinted and creases of skin on his forehead and beside his eyes showed a little of the age he had amassed over his years. Toms hair was long enough to be slicked back but not long enough for his ears to hold it in this position so he used grease to make the wavy hair bend to his will as he pampered himself each morning.

Cecil knew this about Tom because he had lived with him for a while before he got his current job and was able to afford a place of his own. Tom took more time getting ready than most of Cecil’s girlfriends and owned an arsenal of cleaning apparati to accomplish his desired look each morning. Though he went to all this effort each day he still somehow looked like he just got done digging up an ancient fossil fuel engine and tearing it apart. Most of this was because of the amount of sun Tom got while driving the SkyRig erecting buildings and pouring liquid rock on new structures.

Tom began again with a little pause. “So… We can agree on those facts. THe GSRE were all but annihilated somehow by an apparent energy blast to the chest or midsection. The craft in the handful of images we have acquired all seem to be in the same position.”

“Yeah so those are the facts, and there isn’t much we unearthed today about figuring out those aliens.” Steve chimed in.

“Except for the exhaust” Tom emphasized leaning forward in his armchair. “Hours after the beam blast or energy whatever, black soot coated everything on the ground and blew into the air leaving a fine dust layer of about a millimeter up to 10 clicks away in some instances. All of which emitted from around the crafts”

“We know Tom, but what is your point?” Cecil said

“My point is that I’ve been going over the facts and something doesn’t add up. I think the exhaust is a big part of revealing the tech we still don’t understand. We know it is some alien platinum that just shouldn’t exist, but I just can’t shake that those things did only four things: Land, fire some kind of weapon, then vented some alien platinum everywhere.”

“I thought you said they did four things, are we missing something?”

“I did,” Tom said. “The final action, the last thing they did was nothing… and that nothing has lasted 95 years now.”

The Void

Inside a small cavernous area relatively close by, Absian was wriggling through a junction just large enough for her to slip through with her backpack as long as it was tied to her foot behind her. It scraped the walls as they both inched forward. Her forehead emitted light in many spectrums but currently was set to sub 235 nm frequencies. Her cheeks were not rigged with bioluminescence, but the light seeped through her skin from her forehead to reveal the lattice structure of her muscles and a few veins. Had she had more coins to spare she could have added adaptive makeup, but she didn’t deem that procedure worth the money and her other augments were still too fresh to let her entertain the idea of another augment.

Absian scavenged artifacts from within the ships and the surrounding area. She sold them on mostly illegal channels within her own personal network elbow. Recently she had sold most of her reserve hoard for body augments she desperately needed to further her career. With no legitimate job other than being a stage performer for music groups which she told everyone was the only front for laundering her scavenging coin and not because she enjoyed dancing at all. She held little belief that people believed her but She needed an edge that her competitors didn’t have. The other scavengers had gotten to stashes within the ship too deep for her solo operations to penetrate to. Most of her time was spent mapping new areas no one had gone to toward the edges of the Ochima.

Absian’s head jutted out of a shear wall facing darkness that soaked in her self-emitting light revealing just the dust between her and the point that the light dissipated to nothing. Her head angled scattering light around trying to make out something from the void before her.

“Well chi… what do you have for me”

“I see two voids within your vicinity, the first matching the volume of space defined within your private map and the other too erroneous to mention as it is not possible to exist.”

“Are you looking at the neutrino scan we have been doing for the last 10 days, you know that took a ton of effort on my part aside from you messing me up with the alignment.” Absian replied.

“Yes, but I am very concerned about the accuracy of these…”

“No butts just luck, now tell me how big this damn void is I’m staring right into before I attempt to repel down and accidentally kill both of us with all this uncertainty you’re happy about expressing.”

“That’s my….”. “…. Approximately 500 meters long two hundred meters deep from your current location and about 100 meters wide. You should also note according to your own records that this void would overlap our own structure scans and some published schematics in the network.”

Absian shifted her weight to each side rotating her 180 degrees shining her light vertically as she lay in a supine position. Her head protruded from the wall almost to her mouth making her voice echo in the lower 500 hertz frequency in the tunnel her body occupied. The sound was deadened that reflected back at her head from the void before her. She toyed with this effect by humming a tune that was stuck in her head and marveled as some of the frequencies resonated within her then quickly abated as the pitch changed.  She could almost make out the reflected sound like an odd bass echo that was coming from the far side of the chamber. As she settled in her new-found alignment some debris could be seen in dust form falling from what lay toward the ceiling resembling glittering snowflakes .

She switched her emitting wavelength to infrared and pressed her thumb to her temple. She toggled through the archaic menu of filters that the single button interface eye mod had offered. One button embedded on the temple of her skull in the tiny form of a fluid sack containing piezo engineered molecules. These were used to amplify the signal past the bone. Her eyes were covered by removable padded glass shields that could theoretically save her eyes from a complete vacuum or amplify certain frequencies within a specific wavelength and assist her vision. It was however her ocular implants and neural lace that could allow her to see in almost any radiation spectrum.

Was it long short pause for next or long long pause for next Absian thought?

While pressing her temple her eyes darted back and forth grazing the text and willing the menu to go to the filter tab but with each temple press leading further away from the tab and into exhaustive submenus. Her head rocked, and their thumb presses became more jabbed as she became increasingly frustrated with her newly acquired tool. She heard her heart racing in her chest and felt the blood pumping into her temple as the tissue began to become swollen from multiple impacts trying to protect the myriad of biological structures within the skin of her skull. The pain started to seep out from its initial source and trigger other pains from newly recovered wounds created by expert medic drones repurposed to embed contraband computers in affluent humans.

Absian slowed her breath and tried to widened her mind to see beyond her current state of frustration and focused on being calm. She calmed and tried to think back to when she had glanced at the Hack Fliesch menu.

“Multi-Spectrum filters easily access by….” her closed eyelids looked as though someone were drawing a fractal image on them from the inside with a dowel rod. “easily accessed… competitive rates…. 50% chance of…. think dammit think…. easily accessed by both…. long presses for immediate!!! YES”

She gave her temple one 3 second press and text appeared stating that it was changing the vision filter to 5-10 nm wavelength.

Preprogrammed Filter applying in 3…2…1

Her vision went blank.

Absian repositioned her head to rest on the most comfortable position between three protruding irregularities in the hole her body rested in and lay her right arm to rest on the wall so as to give her index finger easy access to cycle through the filters. It was a few minutes before she regained her sight and many more before she worked out all the controls quickly enough to be used in a way that didn’t completely incapacitate her from venturing forward.

“Bullocks” she shouted as she finally programmed in her specific occipital relay configuration.

Please enter class III credentials to engage.

She was viewing what looked like a movie trailer in her vision with the watermark of OAI plastered on top with each scene being clips from the past 12 hours of her vision in 2 second increments displaying the infrared scene on and off like a teaser. It almost gave her vertigo as it encompassed her entire field of view. Through the dizzying array of cuts, she made out one such transition that stuck out, lingered in her mental picture long enough to see it was taken while she was scrolling through the menu moments before. The image showed a lit bottom with gradient overlays resembling the tunnel she was currently in and the top was pitch black, but also then was reversed when she saw that when the filter was applied the top half was brighter than the bottom indicating that her body heat paled in comparison to the heat of the structure ahead of her.

Reverting in 3…2…1

The text lingered in sunspot fashion slowly fading while remaining front in center. She was left staring back with her normal vision after enough time had passed to an empty void above and a cramped exit below.

With her feet she tousled the backpack open and used her big toe to rope the camera strap from the mouth of it. She crossed her leg in front of her bringing the camera within reach.

As she pulled the camera up past her chest and chin it scrapped the walls and her skin leaving a mild stinging sensation. She adjusted her other arm to grasp the controls of the camera and brought it to her face while blurting out a triumphant humpf.

Her head still lay rested in an agreeable position while her arms tried to find a new home to dwell in for the many minutes needed to steady the camera. She had an idea to use her own limbs as pieces of a tripod to steady the lens. She roughly calculated that it would require two minutes of unwavering steadiness to get the shot and quickly ascertained that her hands still shook from their thirst for poison.

Absian had traveled with the band the night prior and had imbibed in enough liquid stupidity to make her body thirst for more 8 hours later. This meant that her hands would tremble as her body attempted to make up the proper ratio of sugar, oxygen, water, and blood cells while her body felt the reeling deficiency of H20.

She had planned to use this reserve for a mugging or long talk with the band but decided that it was needed at this moment. 2000 coins worth of liquidupity encased behind her left shoulder blade needed to be ruptured to be entered into her bloodstream.

She slapped her left shoulder hard against the tunnel wall and waited.

A few moments past and she chastised herself for ruining her reserve. She then became rather delighted in the blissfulness that swelled within her. She suddenly wanted to take a nap but realized that her plan was working. She shuffled her weight again still facing what she now called the ceiling of the structure holding the camera while bracing her elbow and arms against the tunnel. She opened the aperture.

She counted in her head to 200 hoping it would do the trick all whilst trying not to subvocalize the numbers or to relax too much to move the camera. When 200 finally came she rotated the aperture with her index finger on the lens. When she relaxed she felt the acid release into her arms as they plopped beside her.

Absian drifted off into sleep. 

The Meeting No One Wanted.

When Cecil was growing up he often stared at the Weslin Ochima through his wall turning the graphinelight emitters embedded in his wallpaper to pass through the 100 layers of concrete and organic material that separated him and the ship. A quarter of his room showed the distant scene of the 1.4 Km tall ship nestled in its resting place. As the sun began to go down each night Cecil watched the ship turn from vaguely deep brown to the contrasted shape of a silhouetted mountain. It stood almost flush with the ground. The hexagonal shaped base met a crystal like upper-section protruding high into the atmosphere. The edges glimmered in dancing dots around the craft and some nights he could see the arching scratch on its leftmost side were the nuclear warhead had stuck. The arc was the edge of a dimple impressed on the craft during its first day on earth. Cecil often fixated on this part of the craft marveling in its sheer strength and slight fragility. A warhead only made a tiny dent, but a dent did it leave, he thought.

Cecil left the mystic chicken shortly after they had gone over the exhaust event in great scrutiny a dozen times or so more.

He stood before a narrow road showered in darkness from the Ochima Above him. The alley was dimly light by the ambient light of the post sunset before him. The skyline was obscured by factory buildings and dangling cables coming from above that were weaved amongst the roofs. Cars traversed the vertical routes their cabins glowed yellow on their journeys. Dozens of cars ascending and descending resembled lightning bugs. It gave his eyes trouble as his irises struggled to find the right size to take all of his surroundings. The sliver of sky that could be seen was auburn and orange.Below the sky and beside the Ochima structures jutted from the ground making making them in this scen akin to dirt and scratches taken on the bottom of a painting as if they were some wear and tear on an otherwise beautiful work of art.  A rounded topped cylinder stood higher than the others by almost double. It, however, had the appearance of an inorganic perfect blemish. With the other buildings looking more organic as time had weathered them.

As Cecil approached the tube terminal his alarm went off in his ear briefly startling him. He turned off his other alarms and entered his destination on the consol that emerged from the ground in front of a lift gate door. It chimed as he entered his credentials and scanned his wrist on the side of it.

He heard the doors whir open and his shuttle approaching. The floor opened its mouth: two rectangular sheets of metal and a glass ship lifted out of the frame before him. Two strangers were seated facing one another looking blankley off in random directions. “Mind the gap” signs on the top of the inner door disappeared as he entered. Once his destination was entered he found a seat in the center row and sat toward the west where the sun’s rays could be seen fading from the sky.

WHen the doors had shut they plummeted rapidly below into a brief darkness before the glass windows turned into bright sun filled scenes in the form of Commercials overlayed on the windows.

His alarm went off in his ear a second time which filled his stomach with a foul sense and caused him to begin perspirating. He had turned off his alarms, he thought. This can’t be good.

The Handshake

Oslow trained his eyes on the screen before him which sat amongst many arching upward all hobbled together. They appeared to be in a perpetual state of falling on top of him with their radial distance from his retinas almost centered had he been 3 feet taller. Cuneiform text scrolled every which way upon the glowing squares, but Olsow’s attention was fixated on a countdown which approached it’s completion. As soon as it did his  haptic feedback keychain went off in unison.

His preparation told him that he had sixty seconds of unsupervised access and before he could carry out his plan he felt the slight choke in his physical movements as the fear and adrenaline went to war with one another.

He ripped the cloth covering his shirt pocket and pulled out his terminal from the shielded pouch he had created. Hurriedly, he grabbed the loop on his shoelaces and gave a tug. He had almost fell when entering the building because his laces were so loose. Another yank on the lases one hand per foot and they were free.

Each shoelace was in fact a shielded wire pair with the ends coated in wax concealing the female and male ends of an old-school TTL cable.

Oslow wiped his forehead with a hand still holding the dangling cables then brought his arm up and connected them to the terminal and his center console. His hands quivered as he navigated the motherboard trying not to short anything out as he connected everything up. With 15 seconds elapsed he finished the wiring and quickly pressed and held the reboot cycle button.

The screens glowed black as they lay blank and motionless in the small room which a couple of meters squared and several high. He had been placed there in almost an afterthought the design would be fitting for a janetor’s closet more than for a security technician.

The computer booted and loaded the custom bios he had been preparing. He was met with a command line interface at the 36 second mark. Seconds passed as each routine was executed in order.

He typed in the first sequence and waited for a connection while his console beeped in recognition of the 45 second mark.

Handshake success

Connection Complete

With 13 seconds to go he typed the upload command and pressed the enter key. The program was 13kb long and the connection speed was adequate but the time it took to process the successful transmission of a signal now had degraded in the presence of no communication restrictions. His packets had to fight their way to the satellite to try to be heard and once there they had to be verified.

55 seconds elapsed and Oslow got the green upload. A screen brazened the message:

Press any key to submit

 He pressed enter at 00:00:58:03:48 to initiate the sequence. at 00:00:59:03:50 the program ended on its own. Oslow had already begun to pull the wires from the console and stuff them into his underwear when the program finished. His face was frozen in time during those moments. He knew that the program needed only fractions of a second to pull of what he needed and knew what little time he had. When he had pressed the submit key for the upload he had a strategic set of muscle groups ready for a quick retrieval of his equipment.

Grab the wires | Yank them hard toward my lap | Shove them down far enough into his trousers so that the wires don’t pop through my waist band | pee myself | press the error button | and exit.

His plan seemed simple enough for him but past iterations before him were not successful. He didn’t know how many people had died trying to do what he hoped he had just pulled off.

The buzzing from his crotch signaled the 60 second lapsed point and only one wire protruded from his pants. He thought he could possibly come up with some excuse to get out of an interrogation if someone reviewed the few frames that the security camera must now hold of his current memory bank now that the system had completed its monthly reboot. This was however just how his mind worked when it was stressed. Hid did however believe that that situation was highly unlikely to ever happen.

It was more likely that he would just be killed as he left and that examiners review the evidence later.

That was when he legitimately pissed himself and not just to give him an excuse to leave early. He got up and walked toward the exit. The door betwixt him and the outside extended, stretched as if space time itself was expanding here only. The amount of adrenaline pumping through his veins must be messing with me he thought.

His heart pounded and felt, to him, like it had taken the shape of a rubber mallet and was beating upon his rib cage signaling it wanted out. With each step he could hear the squishing sound of his urine soaked khakis being crupled with each step.

Chapter 2

Absian was running through hazily low lit corridors painted by her mind in varying levels of detail. Her legs struggled to respond to her cues acting like they were tranquilized by fear. In her dream state she had constructed a recreation of the Ochima’s inner structure that she had gotten lost in trying find artifacts nearer to the core in her earlier attempts to get rich. SHe was being chased by the fabled Parakhzo who ebated her every turn and was closing the gap. She grasped for a handle on a metal door before her trying desperately to open when the Parakh was upon her. –elaborate–

She awoke in a spasm as one does when the brain has pent up signals to send through the spinal column all being held back by a mental dam. Once breached the signals fly to their intended destinations. Her arms were besides her dangling past her head into the void. She felt the strap of the camera around her wrist its weight bending her arm awkwardly down against the joint of her elbow.

She brought the camera to her chest holding it with both hands, cradling it as a most prized possession. Her breathing became more steady as she shook from her nightmare. She fiddled with the camera settings, noticing that the power reserves were next to nil.

She must have forgotten to turn the damn thing off she thought, remembering that she had disabled the auto off feature fearing that the long time exposure would be interrupted by a hibernation trigger. The thing was a relic used during the industrial age to monitor factories and products. It had been refurbished decades later to update its capabilities but even those augments were probably twice as old as she was. She disabled the monitor and engaged the pairing mode with Chi. As she waited for the files to be sent over she rearranged herself into a more comfortable position.

Absian shifted herself toward the opening allowing her arms to move freely, her shoulders exposed to the still black air. She rocked herself inside the shaft moving her muscles in pairs to relieve the cramps caused by their forced immobility.

When the pairing was done she asked Chi to bring up the image into her vision.

“Holy Fuck…” Absian said as she had finally found what she was after.


The wind tousled Peter’s hair across his face as he climbed out of his abode. It was a mound of dirt with two doors encrusted in glue and earth, a quick attempt at camouflage. The mound sat meters from the edge of a vast plateau and a twenty minutes’ walk from the edge of Weslin. The hoary bleak sky showed no signs of clouds but was thick enough to diffract light evenly across all surfaces giving an eerie effect to this morning’s view. The plateau rose behind Peter in a gentle parabolic grade eventually arcing upward producing a sheer edge decimeters high, a fall from which would prove most fatal.  Peter, after fully emerging from his underground nest, let the two double doors slam shut from their own weight knocking up dust in a  frenzy around him. He covered his eyes and moved his head in an attempt to shield them from being scratched. He plopped down backwards letting his elbows catch most of his fall and drew his legs near him as he crossed them..

His head hung low and bobbed for a moment while he slowly took in his surroundings. His hair took on the same color as the dust that flew around him. Long, tattered, and a dreadlock or two his mane masked most of his face. After scavenging his person for a cigarette, he placed it in his lips and lit a match while cupping the flame with his hands. A lock of hair was smoldering when he removed his hand and he used his fingers to pinch the ends of them putting the smoldure out. The wind took tiny embers with it as it flew past the tattered cherry end of his fag which was bent and spackled with resin.

His head jerked as he focused toward the plane betwixt him and the city onto a moving flash of light that produced a dust trail. An echo from behind him sounding like the crumpling of paper with a few dashes of rushing water thrown in could be heard faintly. He followed the line and mentally mapped its trajectory trying to overlay the organic paths people had etched into the earth over time that now had become trails. He knew these trails well. After having enough certainty that this thing was not coming toward him, he relaxed and only glanced at it periodically.

He lifted one knee and rested his chin on it while looking toward the city. The bulbous mass of Ochima towering over everything sat still, like it always did, changing color as it went up. The ocular occlusion making the top more of a brown blue color washing out as if the air had been scrubbing away at its hull for the past hundred years.

The city that skirted the crater next to the ochima was a toroidal band encompassing the Massive Pit. It rested up against the side of the Ochima in a steady array of buildings, scaffolding and cranes. The craft itself had ropes and holes along its side facing the city some of whom contained whole houses jutting out from the arcing surface of the vessel. These were  held on by anchors and many safety lines that spider webbed all over appearing to him as a textured splotches. Some of the elevator cores could be seen descending to the surface creating the appearance of a sheer cloth running down the side of the craft into the city’s edge. At this distance you couldn’t make out individual structures on the hull save for a spec here and there on the edge of the craft where light outlined what must have been a mansion reduced to a single dot.

The smooth sides of the craft’s rounded hexagonal base were almost imperceivably concave as they went up to the two thirds height of it then angled in; the lines of the structure becoming crystalline in nature producing artifacts of fractal geometry. It was a beautiful view, Peter thought, the ochima gave every landing zone a mountainous view whether or not mountains were there before..

Peter had chosen this spot for its view as well as the secludity of it. He didn’t much care for city life with all of the hustle and bustle and chose to spend his nights curled inside his bunker. He found the bunker during his many digging episodes searching for clues and mapping residue trails of the exhaust. Many scientists of the last generation said that the makeup was an inert yet odd molecule containing platinum with extra bits. Those extra bits were what puzzled everyone.

Peter had been taking core samples and digging in spots that looked undisturbed which were hard to find but not impossible. He had mapped the common foot traffic well enough to provide himself with a decent start. 

He glanced back at the object seeing that it was approaching the closest it should ever get to him and feeling confident he needn’t worry he returned to his cigarette. His head cocked to one side while his eyes met the time on his bracelet display.

The bracelets that he wore on each arm were mostly steel blue but covered in hundreds of scratch marks that revealed the silver and discolored red black of the metals surface underneath. These, he thought, were his greatest treasure and biggest curse at the same time. No, just a curse he mentally added.

They were his because of his  grandfather who lived in the time of the arrival and were passed down to him when his father had died. They imbued the wealth or debt to their owners which in his case was 3 generations of debt.

Back in the 2050’s the main currency exchanges became almost completely digital and chips were issued to citizens either in adornment form such as jewelry or in embedded devices in the skin. Because of the religious beliefs of his grandfather his family chose to obtain a nie indestructible card holding the circuitry to monitor debt and wealth and was used as the sole way to make or receive payments.

His grandfather was killed when the Ochima landed and the card was found shortly after and handed over to the next of kin. had his grandfather had an embedded device it would have been destroyed with his body but because of his belief his debt got passed down to his children and their child. There were records of some collection agencies finding the family of the deceased with embedded devices and petitioning the government to put them into indentured servitude but that took more resources than was available in those days. The laws said that if any debt was not assigned to a debtor for 7 years it became released and no longer belonged to anyone.

 Peters father, however was found and was issued a court order to show up to the Weslin UE headquarters just years after his father’s death. They charged him a  fine of his father’s debt plus interest. When his father said he could not pay off the debt they issued a standard OAS bracelet payment method and let him on his way. Peter sometimes cursed his grandfather for believing in a deity that Peter believed to be the world’s biggest placebo, and blamed him for his current state of indentured servitude. Even when he earned coin the bracelets took all but what was deemed necessary for survival.

Peters bracelets weighed a kilo each and generated electricity and piezo-electric potential with each move and soaked up precious heat from his body to fill the backup storage reserves inside.

He could feel the cold bracelets slowly sucking heat from his body.

He paid off the debt with each stride he made turning the motion into computation power for a myriad of currencies with each step shaving seconds off of lifetime’s worth of debt. They did however hold powerful computers inside of them and if you met your quota for the month would allot you a few petas worth of computation power to use as you please. This was, of course, only within reason of the mandates stipulated inside of the OAI handbook that had been discarded by his father.

Peter stroked the dented skin in his wrist that the bracelets had made overtime. He traced the scarred but smooth ring indent that they left with each other hand. They could be moved up his arm by spinning the mechanism allowing its structure to  widen enough to move up his forearm.  If he had tried to pull out his hand during its expanded state  they would clamp down and lock up.

When Peter was 10 shortly after receiving the bracelets and losing his father he tried desperately to remove the bracelets after learning of their hygiene routines allowing them to be moved for cleaning. He pretended to move them up his arm while instead pulling his hand quickly back fast enough for it to glide over his palm. The bracelet clamped down with considerable force and locked into an almost crushing position for a full 24 hours. The second time he tried it locked up for two days. It was after the  8th time that he vowed to himself that he would never try again but succumbed two years later for his final attempt. Each time he tried to remove them they clamped down harder, increased the trigger sensitivity, and doubled the lock time. This meant that the next time he tried it would be almost two years of agony before they released.

That was were the main scar had formed during the 128 days of crushing heat soaking cold agony had created the permanent indents. Peter became very careful every time he needed to wash and made sure to make no ill movements that would trigger another locking event and adjusted only once per day in the morning.

Peter placed the bracelets back into their idle position and looked up again. His pupils shrunk to points as he realized the object had adjusted its course directly to him. The dust trail revealed the change in velocity the trail vereing abruptly.

The craft as it appeared to be was racing toward him with silent precision aimed straight for his humble home. The dust cloud shrouded the aft of the craft revealing only one wheel and a shiny pane of glass. He quickly deduced that it was some sort of land bike. The mystery person must have had enough money to at least recharge the craft which ruled out anyone of his friends and made him tremble at the thought of another slave labor hunter. “Not again” Peter whispered to himself his eyes longing to grasp at something to fend himself off with. “Not another slave labor camp to pay off a debt that is impayable!!!” Peter shouted then quickly covered his mouth.

The slave hunters as they were called were able to rack up money by dropping off debtors at job sites earning a quarter of their earnings. They were regulated by the UE to be a maximum stint of 3 months 6 months or 1 year and mandated a 1 month break in between. Whether it was to give the slave a head start or a show of grace no one quite knew. It had been 3 months since Peter had been released last.

Peter opted to leave his abode shut instead of trying to retrieve a weapon.

Peter did a quick mental inventory of his possessions and said a halfhearted prayer despite his atheistic inclination as he closed his eyes. He wanted to scream but there still was a chance that they were just some rich snobs looking to beat him up or steal from him. He hoped that was the case.

As the vehicle came to a stop before him part of the sky cleared up allowing the sun to be seen while casting a long dark shadow across the ground and rested inches from his seated position. The helmeted figure flicked their leg gracefully over the seat of the bike and kicked the stand open in one swoop making a sound akin to a small piece of metal dropped on a rock.

Peter squinted as he raised his head to meet the figure now striding toward him. The sound of thick plastic squeaking from each of the drivers steps could be heard and the clink sound of their falling footsteps. He thought he was hallucinating when he heard his name being called as if muffled or echoing in the wind. He shook his head freeing some dust from his hair in the process as he mentally tried to shake his current train of thought.

WHAA WHAA” the muffled noise repeated but this time more muffled and closer.

“Peter, it’s me” A voice said from the figure. The rider had removed their helmet revealing short spiky hair and a familiar looking sunglass toting head.

“Peter” she said slapping him on the shoulder “Are you messed up again… Oh my God… Its only 8 in the morning and you’re high as a kite.” She said shaking him.

Peter looked up and recognized her. “Absian!” He started to get up as she stretched out her hand. He returned the gesture and shot up bringing her hand toward him and embracing her. “I’m so glad it’s you..” he said almost in exasperation.

“Ok you are totally fucked up” she rolled her eyes and dropped her hands to her sides while Peter clung to her. “Ok that’s enough buddy, we need to get some food in you.”

“I’m not messed up” he said releasing her and brushing his hair aside. “I just woke up.. kinda thought you were a Slaver.”

She giggled. “Me a slaver, Ha. That’d be the day.” she hooked her helmut to her suit strap and put her hands on her hips. Tapping the ground with one foot and looking him up and down she said “You do looked like your high though, but I guess I’ll believe ya.”

“How on earth did you get a land bike, and why on earth did you come here?”

“I found some things” She said slyly “thought it might cheer you up, and I need a little help actually.”

“Of course” he said lifting his eyebrows. Peter opened one of the doors and began to climb down into his bunker

“Oh, and Pete” She yelled. “make sure to grab a bag!”

Absian was already on the bike shifting its wight to one side readying the controls, as he returned. Peter sat behind her and grabbed the two handles beside thighs on either edge of her seat. “Your gonna love this Pete” he heard her say behind her helmet. She turned around to see him settling in his seat trying to find a comfortable position. SHe retrieved something from the front of the bike and handed it back to him. “Forgot, you might need this since you don’t have a helmet.” It was a dilapidated pair of snow goggles. He put them on and re established his grip on the handles.

When they took off the sheer torque made peter fear that he would fly. They experienced only a few g’s of acceleration darting toward the intersection of the city and the Ochima. The g’s subsided when Absian got out that glee feeling one gets when getting a new toy.

Thank God she must have drove this thing full throttle for a while already, he thought, or else she probably wouldn’t have stopped speeding until the wind almost ripped her from her seat.

“So how on earth were you able to buy a land bike?” peter yelled hoping she could hear him.

“You are gonna love this Pete, just you wait” Aspian replied back.

Chapter 3

Cecil’s head swam when the second alert had been received. His mind felt like a carbinated beverage fizzing inside his skull. Each buble a point of fear racing toward the top. The headache came almost instantly.

All Cecil knew was that today was not going to be as he had expected. The director had sent him an alert directly for an impromptu one-on-one meeting. He mistook the first notification for his work alarm but when he heard the second and checked the source, it flung him into panic mode.

Paxe the axe, as they called him, was only known to talk to one in the event of their firing or something worse. Cecil had heard the rumors often enough; what was said to have been done to those who violated GSRE law. Since the Gregs where technically part of the government, they were able to squeeze out their own laws and bylaws into mandate which would try you internally instead of in an official court if you messed up. They hated their nickname “Gregs” as well, as it stemmed from a time since past where names were duplicated frequently amongst the masses and one could find a bit of anonymity if you were lucky enough to be called John Smith. The term gregs was a reference to the fact that during the creation of th Global Satellite Research E. almost 3% of its workers had the name Greg, and 3 of the 12 board members were named Greg. During their fall, after the invasion of 52, many were tried for war crimes outside of their own jurisdiction by the UE and the world rejoiced and reinstituted public executions and torture in order to punish them adequatelly. Though some of their fangs had been removed in that they couldn’t physically harm you if you were found guilty of breaking one of their mandates. They could however imprison you or force you into a job that might not fare well for you. It was the latter of these that sent shivers down Cecil’s spine.

It was rumored that there was a position inside of GSRE that no one was fit enough to do and that, though it had been disigned well in its birth, it garunteed a fate worse than death to those who took the position.

“I’m being razered, fuck!” Cecil cried out audibly. The 3 other passengers turned about to fix upon the source of their interruption. The two who had ear pieces in were also looking on Cecil.

“Yes, squiggin because you failed our family and frankely I think you deserve it!” Cecil exclaimed again hoping his quick acting would make the others think he were reciting some odd poetry or audio tale from his own earpiece.”

The lady seated across from him giggled at what Cecil thought was him until he realized is was something on her mobile that was making her chuckle, as when a few moments past she giggled at her device again in the same manor.

“Or was it that she recorded me and is replaying it back?! Cecil thought before scolding himself for being so self absorbed in his thoughts.

Fuck am i being razered? Cecil thought again this time not succumbing to the innate desire to sooth himself by forcing the thought through his vocal chords for some sort of relief.

He tried again to gauge his speed in the craft to no avail. He had been messaged not once but twice and his supervisor’s supervisor was awaiting a response. He discerned that it would be better to respond in person and thereby, in his mind, showing that he was ready for action whenever called upon.

“Though would this mean that i’m eagerly expediting my own funeral?” the thoughts came and went as his mind reeled at the task of encompassing his plight. “Why can’t i focus dammit” another thought seeped to the surface, bubbled up, and burst into air; the force of which caused more anxiety to swarm within him.

Another message rang through

I see you have received my message and look forward to speaking with you, meet me after the debriefing at 00:06:35:**

  • Senior Expert Paxe Juliannisy

The rest of the ride was not pleasant for Cecil. He watched a few commercials on the side of the cars screen and tried unexumibly to deffer all his concentration to anything that could take the pressure off. When he met the terminal for his departure he had almost convinced himself that this day would be his last.

The immersion into his workflow was swift once he entered the direct terminal to GSRE headquarters. He placed his badge robotically onto the sensor which granted him and his fellow line dweller access into the compound.

The morning briefing held little information of note which made Cecil drift back into the uneasy reality of his impending meeting. Little words popped out of the speaker’s mouth that caught his attention but it was more of a mental shove of lucidity before moving to another fear of the meeting ahead.

“Cecil” the words broke through the air. “Paxe wants a word with you now”.

The meeting wasn’t even over and they had called him in? he thought.

“He says it’s urgent, I wouldn’t keep him waiting if I were you” said the one who interrupted the briefing.

Cecil got up from his seat and approached the door. Others in the briefing were staring at him. This didn’t help his state of mind.

The corridor was earily quite amplifying the sounds of his footfall. He unconsciously matched his heart rate with his steps as he approached door 101.

Paxe Julianny – Head of Military Operations.

“Come on in.” Cecil heard before even touching the handle of the door.

Cecil opened the door to reveal a drab metallic walled room with rugs and adornment maticulously placed. Cecil stared at a trophy case located next to Paxe’s desk while he stood at attention at the door.

“Ah security technician Cecil, glad of you to come. I hope the debriefing wasn’t of too terrible much importance to you.” Paxe statted with an iron stare of stately posture.

“I didn’t notice your first message i thought it was my alar…”

“No bother no bother, we have more pressing matters at hand.” Paxe interjected not allowing Cecil to finish. “You see, it has come to our attention that there had been a security issue on one of our terminals that came from your sector.” Paxe paused to read Cecils reaction as he lookup him up and down.

Cecil gulped and failed to produce any words.

“You see, we just got done speaking with Bob your supervisor, and he said that you were tasked with patching the system and keeping it up to date.”

“Yes but i had suggested…”

“Bob,” Paxe interjected again. “Had told us that he tasked you with the new software patches and that you didn’t get it done. He wants to fire you for insubordination.” He paused again but this time Cecil refrained from showing any guilty body signals or at least tried. “But, we believe that you are not the one at fault here.”

Thank God Cecil thought, as he felt his perspiration trickle down his temples. One foot also twitching annoyingly as Cecil tried to keep as still as possible in his current posture.

“We have found a work order request from you asking to go ahead with numerous patches but all of them were delayed for a variety of reasons. Would you care to explain?”

Cecil swallowed more saliva in preparation of responding with much talking. “I was trying to get him to let me install the patches but they required a lot of paperwork and clearance as well as some other software modifications from his security code and each time i tried he told me that i had gotten the patches wrong and needed to recode them.” Cecil’s heart was pounding as his mind tried to ascertain how good of an excuse that was and also how believable.

After a few grooling moments Paxe responded. “I had believed that to be the case you see. And, well… were in a rather unfortunate predicament. That security issues has caused an anomaly with our satellites and well… a rather unforgivable one.”

Cecils head swam as his stomach shrunk to the bottom of his torso.

“You see will will have to be letting Bob retire now, actually the news should be just reaching him right about…” Paxe paused and with one hand looked at his watch and with the other hand he oddly cupped the side of his head as if the lights were bothering his eyes.

An immense light showered the room with great force bleaching all colors to an almost perfect white. Cecil shielded his eyes but could still see the room through his hand and eyelids. A moment later an immensely powerful explosion shook the whole building and the cores of each persons torso therein. The chest cavities acting like a bass microphones honed to only pick up certain frequencies. It was that our cecils heart had just played a pounding note on his skeleton like a xylophone.

The light abated fading seemingly slower than what was natural. Cecil uncovered his eyes which were left with a very bright green filter overlay making it difficult to make out any object in the room.

“Now.” Paxe said with a menacing grin. “You know our tracking system isn’t perfect, we can’t catch all of the meteors that penetrate our atmosphere. Although if we are aware of them we can time them quite nicely.” Paxe grin didn’t quite fade but rather turned very slowing into that of a stern hardened military glare. It was aimed directly at Cecil.

Cecil shuddered and tried to keep his stance without further tremors. Paxe was still looking at him and he was fixed back upon him. “I believe..ve. That you are r-r-right.” He let out.

“I am not usually a fan of theatrics you see but the opportunity presented itself quite temptingly today.”

The fucking bastered could have blinded or killed someone by that action CEcil thought. WHy in the fuck would you withold meteor information just to make a… Cecil shuddered again this time not being able to conceal it at all. Not only did you just retire a man you let a meteor explode in the atmosphere at the time when the news would arrive to him. No wonder he was so specific on their encounter this morning. Any though it cecil’s mind that was eased by Paxe believe his story was now erased and left with dred. “This must be what he wanted.” cecil almost said in his breath.

Paxe’s expression showed a little amusement at Cecils apparent disturbance. “So, back to the matters at hand. It has come to my attention that you have had an impeccable attendance record along with a most average employee review track. It is for this reason that i believe you would be the best candidate to replace Bob. You see, I am a good judge of character even if it is just numbers on a page. You, show great promise of exceeding him if only you had a little motivation. So as of this day, this hour you are head of security and will answer directly to me.”

“I’m i’m i’m not sure what..”

“To say? Ha” Paxe let out a great grunt/laugh. “You’ll do well my boy I, no we, have faith in you.”

I was going to say i’m not sure what you want from me or why or what to think. Cecil thought all the whiile his stomach wished verfently to dispel all its contents.

“And now on to the second matter at hand.” Paxe continued. “The matter of the security issue itself: we will need you to help lead a team to the perpetrator. I have assembled a special task force will we have some information on his whereabouts. I need your skills in this team. WE have already reverse engineered the virus and if we are correct that gives you and the team 12 hours.”

“What did the virus do, and why just twelve hours?” Cecil responded.

“Well, now that you have proper security clearance why don’t you take a look yourself. Just remember your contract and what it means to have level III access. Also, i have another appointment in 1 minute so the team will meat and speak with the commander for further instructions.”

This was not a good day indeed. Cecil thought.

Another building tremor occurred this one different from the last. No issuance of light to be seen and this one was more constant. Lights flickered red everywhere and an alarm sounded.

“What the fuck was that!” Paxe exclaimed. After having just said this two military youngsters bursted through the door panting heavily.

“We got an.” The rookie regained his breath “We got an erm situation” He gave on on saying anything else wile the other young man took his place.

“We’ve got movement on ship sir”

“What do you mean movement on the ship private!”

“It’s moving sir” another gulp of air entered his lungs. “Its legs, they’re theyre retracting.”