And Now, Something Completely Different

Well, I’ve had a spectacularly shitty couple of weeks. How about you guys?

Alright, so here’s the deal. I forgot I had an extra Wednesday this month. Since Wednesday is when I post fiction, I ended up with a spare day, and nothing to put in it. Because among my many incredible talents, reading a calendar is not one of them.

I like ending the month on Warsong, because it’s all kinds of anime, and this blog is big on anime. So, I pushed that back to the last day of the month, which also gave me a bit more time to finish it. Then I felt like the month was uneven, because my first week Fiction Fun randomness, and my second week Bill & Kris installments made my third week Petalwynd give the month a top heavy feel, and yes, I know.

Look, it isn’t easy returning balance to the world, okay? I try, and I try, but nobody appreciates the Avatar these days.

Anyway, I decided to do something a little different mid month this time around. Petalwynd will return next week, and Warsong the week after, so for the folks who have been enjoying those, my apologies, and don’t worry. I’m just feeling a need to do something a little different.

Mostly, I write fantasy, but I do dabble in science fiction, as well. Not the hard core kind, though. I like my sci fi like I like my porn. Soft core, all the way. Since I had a spare week, and wanted to space the month out in a way that was aesthetically pleasing to just me alone, cause I’m weird, I decided to throw in what was originally going to be the first installment of of a sci fi series I was gonna do for this blog.

Then life happened.

Also, it turns out that writing a novel, plus three ongoing series, while working a full time job, and caring for a dying loved one was a lot harder than I had thought. Cause I hadn’t thought about it all. I’d just done things without thinking, actually.. Kinda bit me in the ass.

Still, I thought you guys might get a kick out of it, so here it is, the only finished installment of the sci fi series you never knew I was going to do. Enjoy!

Korra 05
Time to kick balance in the balls!

TRX-38976861

Part One: Waking Up Sucks To Do

Booting Main Systems…

Please Wait…

Checking Biometric Drivers…

Please Wait…

Loading Primary Software…

Please Wait…

Loading Peripherals…

Please Wait…

Activating Implants…

Activating Organics…

Activating Weapons Platform…

Activating Cerebral Drivers…

Loading Interfaces…

Please Stand By…

Welcome To Life…

~*~

The beautiful dream ended with the grace and ease of a stage curtain being drawn. When the lights came up, she hit the floor, gasping for air with lungs that had not known it for a very long time. In those first moments, she could do nothing, only lay there, wheezing, eyes unfocused.

The floor was cold tile, dark and rotten in appearance. It was the first thing she could really see. Fluorescent lights flickered and hummed over head, casting the world in a weary green gray light.

Slowly, her lungs eased their burning as she heaved herself up and vomited. Wet splatters on the tile, a viscous, clear gel she expelled from her body violently. Sucking air more freely, she tried to gain her knees, but only ended up coughing roughly, doubled over by the force.

She tried to move, but found she was restricted. Something at her back pulled against her, forcing her to strain. It let go with a hiss, and she fell to the floor again, her body weak and unresponsive. This time, she stayed there for a while, just breathing steadily, trying to regain some sense of herself.

Her vision settled as she did, and though it was a bit hazy, it was good enough for her to take in the ruined hallway that stretched out before her. Only the lights over her worked, and barely at that. Beyond them was nothing but darkness.

She reached out a hand, planning to lever herself up again. What she saw made her gasp in horror. This could not be her hand! It was awful, a monstrosity! She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, then reopened them, but that thing remained.

She moved her fingers, and the obscenity responded. Tears welled in her eyes as she accepted that the thing before her was her hand. How, she did not know, only that it was.

Massive, easily five times the size of what she should have, and made of black, skeletal metal. She traced it back, following her arm to her shoulder, where flesh was fused with machine and screamed.

It was not a light scream, or one that should be reserved for seeing a rodent. It was the scream that emerges from people when they realize they have been mutilated. The kind saved for those special occasions when yelling is just not enough.

It lasted for some time.

“What is this?” she murmured, then blinked, astonished by her own voice. It sounded different than it use to. Didn’t it? She couldn’t remember for certain.

Pushing herself up with that alien appendage, she saw her other arm had met the same fate. Holding her hands before her, she studied them for a moment in fear. The fingers, far longer than they should be even for a hand that size, were tipped with claws that looked terrible and sharp.

“What is this?” she said again, looking around the hallway, but seeing no one.

Looking over her shoulder, she studied the pod she had emerged from. It was dark now, but some part of her knew it hadn’t always been so. Cables and tubing dangling in it, and that same gel she had vomited dripped from the edges.

“Hello?” she called, her voice echoing in the emptiness.

Other pods lined the wall as well, some empty, others still glowing from with in. Part of her wanted to look, but she remained where she was instead, in case some one came. No one did.

Reaching back, she grasped the edge of the pod and pulled herself up. Her legs were wobbly, but by holding on to the pod, she stood, looking back and forth in the dark corridor for some sight of anyone.

“Hello?” she called again, but only her own voice replied.

“This isn’t right,” she told herself softly. “Where are the doctors? The technicians? Someone should be here.”

She took an unsteady step forward, hearing a soft tic as she did. Looking down, she repressed the urge to scream again. Her legs had been traded out as well. Suddenly dizzy, she eased herself down on the lip of the pod and stared at them in disgust.

Long, sleek and black, like her arms, they didn’t even end in feet. Hooves, or something like them, were there instead. Worse, she was naked, her slender body still damp with goo from the pod.

She wept for a while, crying into her horrible hands. Still, no one came.

When her tears were spent, she forced herself to stand again. Moving on her mechanical legs wasn’t easy. Though she felt everything with them, as if they were flesh and blood, they were strange, and she had to hold onto the wall for support as she moved to the next lit pod.

Inside floated a woman, not unlike herself. Her arms, awful as hers, were folded over her chest, and she seemed to be sleeping. In that slumber, she seemed to be having good dreams, as she was smiling faintly. On the lid, technical information was displayed, but none of it meant anything.

Easing her way farther down the hall, she left the sleeping woman behind. Something was wrong, she knew. This wasn’t how it was suppose to be. It wasn’t anything like what she’d been promised.

She paused, grasping the memory, faint as a whisper in her mind, and held on to it desperately. They had put her to sleep, because of her illness. The cancer spreading through her body, that couldn’t be cured. She remembered that much.

When the cure was found, they would wake her. That had been the promise. She had been how old? She couldn’t remember. She couldn’t recall her own name, either, which alarmed her more than a little.

She couldn’t remember anything! Only that faint piece that was hazy and unclear. Everything else was blank, a chalkboard wiped clean. She felt like crying again, but pushed it down. Someone had to know what had happened to her.

“Hello!” she yelled, as loud as she could. “Is anybody there?”

Nothing but the erratic hum of the lights. She glanced back behind her, but only blackness greeted her eyes. She was alone, save those still sleeping.

Searching for satellite link…

She gasped, staggering as the words drifted across her field of vision. They hovered there, blinking at her in a comforting green text, but when she reached out, she realized they were in her eyes only. No, she thought, not in, but on. It was on her eyes!

“What is this?” she whimpered.

Unable to locate satellite…

Searching for wireless network…

“Stop it,” she cried. “Stop it!”

Her enormous, deadly fingers clutched at the wall between the pods, ripping away concrete as they did. She staggered back from it and fell to her knees, staring at the gouges she’d left. Deep and jagged, they told her the story of the strength her hands now possessed.

“What did you do to me?” she screamed. “Why did you do this to me? Somebody, answer me!”

Unable to locate wireless network…

Loading Heads Up Display…

“Stop it!” she wailed in agony.

Information flowed across her field of vision. A compass, as well as a clock that simply blinked all eights, then a schematic of her power system and other information that flew past to fast for her to grasp. What did it all mean?

“Somebody help me!” she cried. “Please! Somebody!”

A floor plan appeared before her, turning softly for a moment before retreating to the lower left corner of her vision. An arrow blinked slowly, and when she turned her head, the display rotated as well, until the arrow pointed up, down the hallway.

“Is there someone there?” she asked the emptiness. “Please, I don’t know what to do! Help me!”

She stayed kneeling on the floor for a while longer, but no one came. The lights went out, plunging her into darkness. Her eyes adjusted, shifting to a low light view that made her cringe.

Was she even human anymore? If not, what was she? Why had this been done? Where was everybody? Why was she awake now, while other slept?

Steadying herself, she rose and moved slowly, growing accustomed to her new legs. The arrow still blinked slowly. Where ever it was pointing, maybe she could find answers. Maybe there were people who could answer her questions.

Afraid, cold, and alone, she plunged into the darkness ahead, searching for anything that would make sense.

~*~

She stared at the shattered glass in front of her with horror. A decayed body hung halfway through it, or at least, what was left of one. Much of it was simply missing, and of what remained, there was little holding it together. Whoever they had been, they had died a very long time ago.

Easing around the corpse, she pushed open the door beside the broken window and glanced around the room. It was large, filled with monitors that sat dark, and more partial corpses. At the far side, a massive rend in the wall lead into a tunnel that had collapsed at some point.

Moving into the room, she looked for something that would tell her what had happened, but the chamber was a graveyard and nothing more. Whatever had happened here, the answers she sought had died with these people.

The arrow in her map had stopped blinking however, so this was the destination she was meant to find. Why, she couldn’t guess. There was nothing here.

She walked through the room, careful not to disturb the dead. A light flickered before her, and she turned to it instantly. One of the monitors was trying to activate, she thought, but she was wrong. The light must have been a defect in her eyes.

She tried not to think about that too much. The light flickered again and she paused, being very still, hoping her eyes didn’t stop working. To be lost and blind, at a time like this, she was certain it would drive her mad.

Sound fluttered through the room for a moment, and she turned towards it. Something was here! Not what she was looking for, but something, and that was better than nothing any day.

Accessing remote files…

She cocked her head, trying to figure out what that meant. The computer equipment that remained was beyond usable, she was sure. She wasn’t familiar with it, she knew, and it certainly looked more advanced than anything she’d ever seen, but considering how long the dead had been here, nothing could possibly work.

An image flickered before her, with a hiccup of sound. She stared at the air, waiting, her breath hanging in her throat. It came again, with the word loading blinking in front of her. A small bar filled up quickly.

“If you’re seeing this, then it means we have failed,” a man said suddenly, his face appearing in the air in front of her. She reached a hand out and it passed through the image. A hologram.

“I am Doctor Wilford Haymen, chief researcher for the Omni Institute. We tried our best, but in the end, our efforts were too little, and far too late. We underestimated the rate at which the Antilives would grow and mutate, and how quickly we could build soldiers to fight them.”

He paused, looking very tired. She stood and waited patiently.

“Some here feel that we violated the rights of those we have recovered, but we had no choice. Since Starfall, we’ve lost so much. We did what we had to do. I am only sorry that it wasn’t enough. That will be my legacy, if anyone survives to hear it. That I failed, and doomed the human race to extinction.”

She gasped at that, recoiling from the hologram. What was happening? What was he talking about? Had the world… ended?

Before her, the image shook for a moment as people screamed in the background. Dr. Haymen looked over his shoulder, then back forward again, suddenly anxious.

“They’ve found us, it seems. We’re out of time. With us, the last hope for saving humanity fades. Forgive us, and if anyone survives the war, look for what we have made. Perhaps, in them, salvation can still be found. God be with you.”

The wall behind him exploded inward. Things she couldn’t describe poured forth and attacked everyone in sight. What they did to them, she turned her eyes from it, unable to watch. Their screams were terrible.

The image faded, leaving her in the dark again. She looked at the collapsed tunnel, then searched the room for a moment, finding a body that she felt certain was Dr. Haymen. Walking over to it, she knelt.

“You did this to me, didn’t you?” she asked the corpse. “Turned me into this, to fight whatever those things were. Why did you do that? What were they?”

He gave no answer, of course, and none was ever coming, she suspected. With a heavy sigh, she stood and looked around, wondering what she should do next.

“It would help if I could find some clothes,” she muttered.

The map twisted as she turned, the arrow reappearing. She pondered that for a moment. Could it be that her whatever it was understood her?

Nodding, she set off to follow the arrow, leaving the grave behind. There was nothing she could do for them, and nothing they could do for her.

~*~

She had found clothes in a sealed cabinet, protected from the ravages of time. They weren’t much, just pants, a tank top, and a jacket, but they would do. They made her feel normal, more or less. Shoes, however, were simply out of the question. She couldn’t even figure out how to put them on, and ended up leaving them behind.

She had also found a mirror, and though she vaguely recognized the face she saw there, it had changed. It didn’t show her herself as she remembered. Her eyes were red, where they had once been blue. Her hair was purple, where it had once been blonde.

Saddened by this, she had simply stood and stared at her reflection for a long time. Was she even the person she remembered? Perhaps the memories were as false as the rest of her. Someone else’s life, put in her head, for some reason she couldn’t understand.

Finally, she had walked away. Whatever she was now, she was alive, and planned to stay that way. The things that had killed the scientists, the monsters she had seen in the holographic video, were out there and she had no doubt, would try to kill her.

She didn’t want to die. Not like that. Not in any way. She wanted to live! To stay alive, no matter what. What else was there now, but that?

She spent some time playing with the map feature that always hovered in her sight, learning how to manipulate it with a thought. Whatever else they had done, the Omni Institute had prepared her to survive. Her onboard system responded to her mental commands quickly and deftly. All she had to do was figure out how to work it.

Soon after, she found rations, stored in the same fashion the clothes had been. They were still good, or so her system told her. She ate whatever it was, and though the taste left a lot to be desired, she felt better after she had. Water proved more difficult to locate however, and she ended up giving up on that.

Beyond the ruins she wandered, keeping company with the ghosts, she knew the world remained, or at least, whatever was left of it. It was possible that there were others out there, survivors such as herself.

She thought of the empty pods she had seen. Perhaps many more, exactly like her, just as lost and afraid in a world they didn’t know. Somewhere, out there, she knew, she could find answers. To what, she was no longer certain.

Following the map, she made her way up through the complex, finally reaching a massive door, several feet thick. It hung in tatters now, and whatever had ripped through it, had been insanely strong. She decided not to ponder on that overly much.

Slipping through the cracks, she traveled through a long tunnel, the sound of wind howling reaching her ears. Light as well, beckoned her on, with the hopes of emerging into a world that made sense once again.

What she found was desolation. A cruel wind whipping across a barren landscape. The few things that grew there were twisted and harsh looking, unlike any plants she’d ever seen. Beyond that, there was nothing, just the wind and a dead world.

She hesitated at the mouth of the tunnel, staring at the dismal expanse for some time. She would have to try and cross it. The map quickly proved useless, as it could not update, and had no idea of the terrain beyond. She would have to rely on herself, and herself alone.

“Who am I?” she asked against the wind, doubting that any answer would be given, or if it was, it wouldn’t be one she could grasp.

TRX-389768613…

“That’s a crappy name,” she sighed at the text floating before her. “Still, it’s better than nothing, I guess. At least, until I can remember my real name. If I ever do.”

Snugging the jacket around her shoulders, her hands unable to fit through the sleeves, she pressed out into the world. She didn’t know what she was going to find, only that she couldn’t remain where she was.

Looking down at her hands, she dared any monster to stand in her way.

©-2017 Cain S. Latrani

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