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Force Echo

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#1 force_echo

force_echo

    Pretentious, Obnoxious, Annoying...humanity's last hope

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Posted 01 August 2013 - 02:03 PM

"Freaking crazies," I muttered to myself. I had seen a lot of time under the gun. And yeah, some of that time was spent on the ideological side of things. But I always told myself it was a gimmick. Something to divert attention, to recruit followers. Power is the only real religion in this worl- erm- galaxy. Stuff's simpler that way. I look around the damp concrete dwelling, illuminated with only two torches at the front. I was part of a crowd, incognito. I hoped. Everyone wearing the same itchy brown robes. At the front, a single man faced the crowd, as oft these gatherings go.

 

"My children! The promise of the Singularity is nigh! The Machines have guided us to this moment-- the uplifting of the human race, to be at one with the true God! Deus Ex Machina!"

 

"DEUS EX MACHINA!" Everyone, including myself responded. I tried to sneak a peek at the guy next to me under the hood. He sharply turned, locked eyes with me. I couldn't look away, his piercing blue eyes, they weren't natural. He quickly turned back to the "prophet", forgetting I even existed, engrossed in the deep booming words. Holy shit. This wasn't about power, these guys are actually nuts. 3 months trying to get this far in the organization, trying to discern the location of a biological weapon. Function unknown. The lead was sketchy in the first place, but too many SPECTREs died just to ignore the validity.

 

The prophet raised his hands, sleek black augmentations. Possibly military grade. "Now, MY BROTHERS! The vehicle for our SALVATION!" Quickly, he turned to the left, pulling off the brown tarp from a vaguely round object. The object was sleek and metallic. Perfectly fit the profile for a missile. A panel opened up, probably controlled through a neural implant. He clearly took something out, but I can't see it well enough to get a read. "NOW BROTHERS! WE TAKE THE FIRST STEP! AND REST ASSURED! THE REMAINDERS OF HUMANITY WILL SOON FOLLOW!" His thumb twitched and the cylindrical object in his hand lit up with lights. "DEUS EX MACHINA!" He screamed as he tossed it.

 

The canister explodes midair, and what looks like smoke poofs out and rapidly defuses, and all of a sudden, everyone around me goes beserk, leaping up into the air with their tongues out and screaming. A huge dude in tight-fitting robes shoves me aside to get to it. Not panicking, I quickly seal my hardsuit and open a subvocal comm to the team of trained agents outside. "We have a breakout in the building, sub basement! Visual on the weapon, I repeat visual on the weapon! Be advised, hotzone in place, seal hardsuits! Go go go!" I quickly draw my pistol, shoving through the insane crowd to the front where the Prophet is just standing there serenely. Something's wrong. The crowd doesn't even notice me as I push through. I'm about 6 feet away from the prophet now, gun drawn, he acts like he doesn't even notice me. "GET ON THE FLOOR, NOW!" He doesn't respond, but something on the HUD on my helmet catches my eye. This guy doesn't have a heartbeat. Shit.

 

BOOM!!!

 

Everything's gray. Dust goddamn everywhere, brown robes, screaming. I faintly recognize dark figures through the debris. Carrying the missile away. I try to push myself off the floor, I think I cracked a rib.



#2 Ivan

Ivan

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 02:18 AM

The bit-scroll resolution is limited to about 8K tripixels per inch, but if you turn off the interferometry you can get a bit more with good content fillers.  You lose the 3D, obviously, so no Academy trained res-modeler would think to do it, but down in The Belly we learn to make do.  While the nix are wringing their hands over density readings don't make a lick of sense, Nell and I have one clear picture, half a name, and a ninety minute lead before the hardsuits think to ask why the floor is sticky.  There's a bloody fine line between futility and art.

 

The gheist they pulled out of there looked like he came out of a warzone, not a basement.  There's a whisper of a chance that we get to him before they wrap him in red tape and seal his file, but I'm feeling Irish and Nell is good at hospitals.  Her current host body was originally a surgeon I think, good organic hands, soft and cruel, with the kind of porcelain features which suggest the quality of the work is on display, somewhere in the "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" tax bracket.  It's hard to tell if this guy was agency or a rover, but between Nell's perfect tits and her savage hands, we'll probably get more out of him than the hardsuits ever do, and in half the time.  

The light finally changes, and the on-ramp hums beneath the wheels of the Jeep.  I have to close my eyes when we're driving, else I process too fast.  I have a stretch of the 91 burned into my memory from when I was six years old; fractal mountains, diminishing Antisin curves, and seventy seven license plate numbers which haunt my dreams, all because I risked sneaking a split-second peak at 200 kph.  Even with my eyes closed, even with headphones on, with the ionic air filters on full, I record things.  My nose tells me the man Nell shook hands with was a smoker.  My vestibular sense records eight lane changes.  My proprioception tries to calculate our precise altitude using cell phone tower triangulation, but I do have SOME self control. 

The hospital is a massive affair, glass and stainless steel facade with a beaded hologram waterfall, sort of Frank Lloyd Wright meets Pale Horse, and we're headed underground.  Nell hates labyrinths and mazes, getting lost scares her I think, but I have no idea what it's like to not know precisely where I am.  Nell talks us past security, I'm never sure if it's her silver tongue or her cleavage doing the work, but I suspect the former, when we were eighteen she tried a male body for about a month, and it didn't slow her down.  I spend a few moments with a pen and crank out a rough copy of the bit-scroll image, detail accurate to about a 4x zoom, which should be enough for this guy.  Just in case, we've got badges too, a nice bit of digital forgery which, when scanned, calls up an obscure error message which suggests, without outright saying, that we're above the paygrade of whoever scanned us.  Like I said, futility and art.



#3 force_echo

force_echo

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 08:16 PM

I turn to Nell. "Get him stable enough to talk. Easy on the painkillers, I want him lucid." She simply nods, and goes to work, handling the stolen hospital equipment with cold efficiency. The nurse aid was tied up on the floor, relatively unharmed. Perfect tits and smooth talking can only get you so far. I grasp my rendition of the scene. "He's up," Nell remarks. The room is a little hot. Good. I hit the switch on the central light, make sure it's in his eyes, and for god sakes, cover up the floor to ceiling windows. After the room looks like it was ripped from a scene from a damn pulp novel and not a hospital for the one percent, I pull up a gray chair, have myself a seat. The man looks nervous, a little, though I suspect he's worried about the bomb, not me. He turns his head to me, coughing a little. "Well?"

 

I don't have a lot of time left in the sim. I show him the image. "Where is it."

 

Nell steps back a little, by the way her adam's apple twitches ever so slightly, it looks like she's taking a call on her subvocal. That's fine, she's not so good at this part anyway. The prisoner looks at me with the same steely glare. I read the field manual. Torture is an ineffective method of gathering intelligence which may compromise further efforts. A man who can willingly cause massive pain to another without repercussion is likely someone you don't want on your team. I'm running out of time on the sim.

 

I pull my pistol from the holster and put a round through the guy's palm. He whimpers, his face contorted in barely repressed agony. Nell glances over and then turns around again. "You're in pretty bad shape. Tell me where it is, and my friend over there can get you medical help."

 

He seethes, blood dribbling down his bottom lip. He must have bitten his tongue. "I don't want your medical help. The same doctors who refused my sister a medical operation because of their fundamentalist STUPID MO-"

 

"I don't have time for this," I muttered, bringing the pistol over his kneecap.

 

His eyes widened quick. "W-wait. Alright. I-i-it's on Cherry boulevard, going to the headquarters of Greene Industries! You have to hurry though, it's on it's way right now, you only got-- 15 minutes!"

 

The HUD suggests he might be lying, I don't need it. Cherry's on the far side of town. Greene Industries seems like a probable target, the CEO is a notable spokesman against augmentation, and it is close to Cherry. But if the vehicle wanted to avoid suspicion, it should be driving relatively close to the speed limit. I close my eyes for a second, and I can feel the movement. Going about 70 miles per hour, an uncanny sense of distance. I'm on I-79, Cherry's still a while away. I don't know the distance, I don't need it. I can feel it. There's no way they reach Cherry in 15 minutes. I open my eyes again.

 

"Funny how you want me to get to the other side of town as fast as possible isn't it." I remarked with half a smile. And then it slammed into me like a semi. We were at Charlotte's first hospital. The news, 2 weeks ago. A single byline, ran for 15 seconds, a million more stories just like it. CHARLOTTE NOW REFUSING ALL AUGMENTATION PROCEDURES.

 

Nell looks at me, intrigued no doubt, by the expression on my face. "We have to go. Now."







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