1. Fan7asticMrFox
    Offline

    Fan7asticMrFox Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    910
    Likes Received:
    201
    Location:
    Hampshire, UK

    Neon

    Discussion in 'Role Play' started by Fan7asticMrFox, Mar 25, 2016.


    Story

    [​IMG]

    Nations are no more. The great Corp War tore apart families: fathers fighting against daughters, mothers fighting against sons, national identity versus corporate credits.

    Economy won - the largest corporations taking reign over the world and squeezing it dry for every credit. Corporate influence spread and the citizens of Earth had to pick their side, commit to a brand and be its unyielding advocate. Borders collided and tensions grew, and though it slowly started with corporate espionage, the PMC War was beginning.

    Those citizens willing to serve their Corp would only be limited to roles of their specialist and studied skills. Instead the fighting was left to the highly trained PMC troops who were efficient, ruthless and devoid of all compassion, thanks to their genetic modification and cybernetics augmentation. Clad in heavy armour, helmets and masks, they all looked the same and were terrifying to behold. Innocent lives would be caught in the cross fire as the Corporate PMCs grasped for territory. No one would bat an eyelid. No one dared.

    The PMC War goes on, but the borders have become blurry and the battling is fought once more under cloak and dagger. The corporations' PMC squads patrol the streets in large numbers, keeping the "peace" through brutality and fear, enforcing curfews and punishing the slightest infraction. Anything out of place is suspicious of enemy activity and thus, must be punished.

    The citizens are terrified. And even some of those that stand proudly next to their Corp are starting to waver. The world is different. The Corps are tearing it apart. They are bringing it down into the darkness.

    But we are the light in that dark. We are protectors of the innocent, defenders against the ruthless bloodshed and we will stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

    We are Neon.

    Not to be confused with a resistance, we are simply a small and devoted group of individuals. We cannot easily take on the big corporations. Instead, we act as your modern day superheroes, vigilantes who will protect the people from the corruption, greed and fury that the Corps and their PMCs have spread.

    Our only agenda is to safeguard the citizens of the world... but if Corps get dismantled on the way, we don't mind.

    Location

    Welcome to Towercrest, home to the highest density population under Syther Tech rule. Named famously for its sheer abundance in skyscrapers, Towercrest is the economic marvel of the new world and has the most traffic in terms of trade and services. The skyscrapers lace the side of the streets giving visitors a unique steep valley view up to the skies above, while travel could not be simpler. Roads line the lower regions of the metropolis with metro tubes to help connect the inner city, and above ground there are numerous catwalks and monorail connections to get you to your destination.

    Towercrest spans 125km across and is home to 1.2 billion citizens. Syther Tech works diligently to ensure your protection, collaborating with its partner company, Syther Tech Enforcement. Threats from other corporations are quickly dealt with, leaving us in complete contrdngi£%4*,se£@/... lies... their grip is collapsing, other Corp PMCs have infiltrated deep within Towercrest, all now vying for control...%#=ke92;!je03ol and ensuring complete protection.

    Corporations - Non Playable

    Syther Tech - prior to the Corp War Syther Tech were a prosthetics manufacturer who specialised in electronic prosthetics designed to help users return as closely as they could to their previous functionality. Throughout the course of the last 93 years their focus has progressed to total body enhancement through cybernetic augmentation, creating better limbs than what nature could provide. Subjects were enabled to be faster, stronger, tougher. In some rumoured cases, limbs had been replaced by new and different uses than before.

    Syther Tech are the current holders of Towercrest, the crown jewel of the world and what many recognise as point of leadership across Earth. That has not always been the case, but Syther Tech are current owners of the metropolis and it holds the most influence across the globe.

    [​IMG]

    Gragari Initiative - the Gragari Initiative are a relative newcomer to the Corps but have had a rapid rise to power. Created in the post Corp War fallout, the Gragari Initiative specialised in pharmaceuticals and medicines before combining their efforts on enhancement drugs. These drugs helped increase their soldiers senses, aggression, willpower, strength and their cells regenerative growth. These PMC troops are referred to in slang as 'Zombies' for their ability to soak heavy wounds and even heal back to full health from the clutches of death.

    The Gragari Initiative are still relatively small in regards to the Corps, but that means that their organisation is agile and nimble and can react to market and situation a lot quicker than the others, making them a promising prospect for potential investors. They want to work with independents to try and take Towercrest for themselves.

    [​IMG]

    DraxaVerve - DraxaVerve are in fierce competition with Syther Tech and would consider themselves a close second in power. Their manpower is all but unlimited and unrivalled, due to their cloning technology. In the early Corp war they found a phenomenal specimen of strength, intelligence and composure and so commissioned Kyle Harper to become the blueprint for their army, creating the 1st Wave. Since then they have used only a small number of other people to clone, sticking with their tried and tested soldiers to fight their wars. The most recent soldiers were the 9082nd Wave. They are known as 'Harpies'.

    DraxaVerve wish to see Syther Tech toppled from their high perch in Towercrest and have been trying to smuggle their clones into the metropolis in droves. This has been with the help of Ethereal Operations, who they have a lucrative yet frosty business partnership.

    [​IMG]

    Ethereal Operations - the last corporation vying for control are Ethereal Operations. As one of the oldest businesses they were fairly unsuccessful pre Corp War, running as a sleep assistance company, which was not a very lucrative endeavour. The venture went bankrupt multiple times before switching their focus onto research of the mind. Because of their switch to more brain related applications many universities and research centres gave them capital to continue understanding the mysteries of the mind. Through their work they managed to create devices that would untap and enhance human psionic abilities.

    However throughout the Corp War they were under considerable threat of annihilation due to their weaker investment in "boots on the ground", yet strangely they were always rescued by other corporations. Their existence has been fairly similar throughout the years, fading in and out of power but never quite disappearing for good. Currently they are enjoying a period of prosperity and are a distance third in terms of corporate power.

    [​IMG]

    Neon

    [​IMG]

    There are many so called vigilante groups out there, however Neon are the most persistent, and the most loyal to the people. Most of the others disappear under the boot of Syther Tech Enforcement but Neon are better than the rest. They generally rely on stealth and subterfuge to give aid to the public, and fight PMC groups using their specialised skills and clever tactics. Trying to fight PMCs head on however is a very, very bad idea.

    Neon are spread over the globe, but unsurprisingly the bulk of their small force is found with Towercrest. Most live in plain sight and are able to be perceived as harmless and fearful civilians of the metropolis. They struggle on with their lives and their 'cover' jobs - usually a role which enables them to hone their specialised skills daily. Pretty much all of them are effective spies, but they hold such a diverse range of skills: hacking; combat; medicine; engineering; piloting; stealth and many more.

    There are a few senior ranking commanders within Neon who coordinate the missions carried out by Neon operatives, however these officers all report to the leader of Neon, The Old Maiden. No one knows who she is, where she operates from or what she even looks like; the commanders are only ever contacted by a video displaying a dark room dimly lit by the open view of the Towercrest skyline at night, the holographic adverts and neon lights revealing a single chair in the room facing away from the camera and out into the city.

    [​IMG]

    As previously said, many operatives hide in plain sight during down time so as not to alert suspicion, however they usually will be brought into hideouts when their next mission is soon to begin. Here they can make sure they are fully geared and ready to go to work on the PMCs.

    That's not to say they can't save the day in their own time - they are modern day heroes after all - and some will take the opportunity to help others discreetly using their skills, before trying to evade and disrupt PMC regime.

    Finally, I wasn't kidding when I said that Neon is a small group. Only a select few get chosen to be part of the team. They are chosen because they are skilled; they are the best; they are special.

    --​

    Your character will either be an existing Neon Operative or about to be recruited by Neon for their talent and/or heroism. Note that your character will be skilled and should have a specialisation of your choice (to be approved by the GM in the character PM).

    Please keep in mind however that characters should be balanced, whether that means having a significant weakness or a character flaw. I always implore players to write their best in my RPs, and that means realising a character with struggles and flaws is far, far more interesting than a character who can defeat anything. Also remember your character is not you, but an entity you created - so don't be afraid to let them lose or be one upped by another player's character. It's builds character, adds tension, creates relationships and is just so much better!

    Finally I would urge that your characters do not have attributes that the PMCs have (cybernetics/psionics/drugs) as it would be highly unusual and suspicious for a civilian to have them. However that does not mean you can't, and if you have a good story driven reason for why they have a certain attribute then that is absolutely fine! I don't want to stifle anyone's creativity!

    Character Sheet - One Character per Player

    Name:

    Age:

    Gender:

    Appearance:

    Personality:

    History:

    Skills/Specialisation:

    Equipment/Tools/Weaponry:

    Must be GM approved. Please PM me!

    --​

    Bear in mind that with equipment and weaponry your character would not be expected to carry anything too heavy as it would not be very subtle or easy to hide away. However I'm happy for you to be creative and make unique versions of equipment etc. For example a folding/pull apart sniper rifle!? Err... I'll let you come up with the ideas.

    The Rules

    Keep the flow: Posts can be as long and short as you would like, but making sure it keeps the flow, doesn't repeat another player or recap the same scene from another perspective. Try and progress the scene. If the scene is not progressable (which can happen) feel free to make conversation with someone or write your character's thoughts.

    Minor NPC Battles: minor NPCs won't necessarily require GM input for a player to interact with and beat up etc. You get to write the scene how you feel it would play out realistically and I will moderate.

    No God Moding: This is one of the cardinal sins of role playing. If you find yourself writing a post where your character does, alone, what would/should take an entire group of people, you're probably God modding (i.e activating god mode, granting yourself invincibility, power level 9000+, and utterly ruining everyone else's day). DONT DO IT. Collaborate, team up, and tackle the issue as a group. Keep limits in mind. In short keep it real (FYI, this doesn't only apply to battles. Characters who are good at everything and are just "too cool for the rest of us" are pretty much God Moding and also SUPER BORING. Do you want to be super boring? Nope, didn't think so).

    Realism Rules: I love epic moments of dashing heroism (don't we all), but not when it happens constantly. Realism is key in my games; characters are flawed, characters make mistakes that put things in jeopardy and villains and enemies are hard and scary. Make sure your characters are reacting to the situation as THEY know it, and not the extra information that you may know as the player. That's called meta gaming and it ruins the fun. For example if another character has thought to himself in a post that your character is a "smelly poo poo head", your character should not react! Not even a little bit! He has no idea. And he shouldn't hold a grudge either unless there is reason behind it, because your character has no idea the other character thinks they are a "smelly poo poo head"!

    Read Each Post: Read the whole post folks, people have taken time and effort to write their character's thoughts, actions, wants and desires, as well as how they perceive the world. It is interesting and fun. If something doesn't make sense, ask the poster in discussion chat what they meant. Nothing derails a game faster than confused and muddled posting. If someone is repeatedly posting long winded and waffling posts, politely let them know and give some constructive criticism.

    Work Together: Okay so this isn't exactly a rule, more like "guidelines". Not everything has to be done with multiple characters, but the game is more fun when more are involved. Collaboration is always great! For example don't have your character heal someone if you know there is a medic in the group. Pay attention to other characters strengths and weaknesses and seek opportunities to take advantage of them.

    Please Respect the Tone of the Game: There's nothing wrong with humour or the occasional non-sequitur (and there will be plenty of time for that) but ignoring or laughing off every threat we face destroys tension and makes the plot look like a joke. Please write realistically, and importantly, in character.

    Don't Control Someone Else's Character Without Permission: No one knows a character better than the person writing them. Don't assume someone else's character will laugh at your character's jokes or grimace at your filthy comments; Let the writer write their comments themselves. There are times when the GM may briefly control all characters to help move the story along, but that's because he's the GM and he's awesomer than you.

    Language: I'm all for using language, just make sure it's warranted. No need to swear for swearing sake. Don't fucking abuse it!

    The GMs Word is Law: Period. I will be the decision maker on disagreements, and I will be fair and just when required.
     
    obi-sem kenobi likes this.
  2. Kingtype
    Offline

    Kingtype Always writing or thinking things XD Staff Role Play Moderator Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2012
    Messages:
    8,949
    Likes Received:
    1,031
    Location:
    Right under your nose!
    HOLY CRAP!

    This came out of nowhere and I'm really impressed. This is one of the neatest games I've seen but the pretty pretty pictures don't hurt.

    APPROVED!
     
  3. Fan7asticMrFox
    Offline

    Fan7asticMrFox Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    910
    Likes Received:
    201
    Location:
    Hampshire, UK
    Prologue

    "Tsk-Target is on the move, over-Tsk." The cold blue of the monitors glared through the darkness to reveal two figures at a workstation, one seated while the other stood to at their side, an arm resting on the back of the chair.

    The man in the chair spoke into a mic on the workstation, "Lennox keep track and observe from a distance, over."

    "Tsk-Roger that, over-Tsk."

    "Tsk-Head's up," Another operative came over on the comms, a female voice, sultry and smooth, "The STE scouting group are on the move, headed into target path, over-Tsk."

    Indeed on the monitors it showed there were a group of white armoured Syther Tech Enforcement grunts heading up the street, splitting a wave of people with their natural intimidation. The grainy blue feed on the monitors only managed to enhance their frightening demeanour. There were five of them, all carrying Syther Tech beam rifles, the black weapons a dark contrast with their armour.

    "We see them Harpy, do you have a clear shot, over?" The man asked leaning into the mic, his dark skin revealed from the screen's glow.

    "Tsk-Not yet, but should do at the crossroads, over-Tsk."

    The woman standing by the chair focused in on one screen intensely, revealing her shaved head and burn scars on the right side of her face. Her eyes narrowed on a particular monitor where the crossroads lay, and she pointed harshly at the middle. "Samson, what is tha-"

    "Hey, hey fingers!" He squeaked, taking one of his chubby hands and swatting away her finger. "You're gonna smudge the screen."

    "I'll do worse than that you idiot, pay attention." She pointed again, though this time she observed the 'smudge' ruling. "What is that?" She was pointing to a small flicker on the screen, like a laser pointer looking down towards the middle of the crossroads. Civilians seemed to simply walk past or through it with no fuss.

    "No idea..." Samson responded, before turning to the mic, "Guys are you seeing this, over?"

    "Tsk-Seeing what Samson, over?-Tsk" a third voice came over the radio, harsh and dry.

    "Max we are seeing some interference at the crossroads, similar to a laser or laser pointer. Do you have visual, over?"

    There was a moment's pause. "Tsk-I don't have eyes on anything, perhaps some residual light from all the bright advertisement and neon shop signs, over-Tsk." Max replied.

    "Tsk-We've got incoming, they are moving on target, over-Tsk." Lennox called out over the comms.

    STE group had reached the crossroads and the crowd parted like the sea, for all but one. A girl. Dressed in dark and grimy clothes with a heavy backpack carried high on her shoulders, she stared at the troops with wide eyes and fear on her dirt stained face. The group of five moved round in a semi circle, fingers resting on triggers.

    "Citizen - by STE authority put your hands up." Stated the middle grunt.

    Shaking, the girl did as she was ordered.

    The grunt proceeded to tap on his wrist console and the gaping crowd watched a small silver sphere, no larger than a tennis ball, swim out from his shoulder and into the air. It's green glowing eye zeroed in on the girl, and a scanning beam fired out from it's opening and passed over her. The sphere beeped loudly like an angry fog horn - everybody jumped barring the grunts. Suddenly it flashed green to red. The grunts' weapons were trained on her in a instant. "Citzen - suspicious metals and possible contraband have been found on your person. Explain what you are carrying. You have five seconds to comply."

    The girl began to shiver and hyperventilate, the red laser sights of their weapons passing across her terror filled face. "T-they are just cooking equipment and supplies, f-for my m-mother. P-p-please don't hurt me."

    The main grunt put a finger to his ear and turned away for a moment. He nodded and then turned back to her, "Your answer is deemed...inaccurate. For the safety of Towercrest's citizens, you are to be terminated."

    The beam weapons charged. The girl's face dropped and horror took it place, she mouthed "please" and turned away to not see her fate.

    Another sphere sped out from the crowd. This one was different from the one before and rolled gently to the girl. The grunts squeezed their triggers and as beams fired out, holographic light expanded from the sphere, it's fuzzy white energy enveloping the girl and bouncing their attacks away.

    The grunts quickly realised what had happened and looked towards the crowds for enemy threat. They faced one side to see Lennox just standing there in his grey trench coat and soggy wet black hair, hands up in a half hearted surrender and a smug smile slapped across his face.

    They raised their weapons towards him. Yet from behind came Max who flicked a bright purple slingshot towards the grunts, the whole thing flinging around them like a boomerang, whipping around multiple times. It kept going and going and going until suddenly, it snapped together shut and thrust all of the grunts together hard, their armour cracking and breaking into each other. Their arms were tied to their sides and their weapons had been either dropped or disabled.

    Finally as the grunts attempted clumsily to get back up, Harpy, who was perched high on a rooftop hidden behind a large orange Neon sign, took aim down her scope and fired straight into one of the soldier's chest. The impact thudded into him taking the wind from his sails, and he looked down to see a small spider like device on his chest, which promptly discharged a heavy electrical shock, completely incapacitating the entire group.

    The crowd cheered. Whoops and claps and gasps filled the air, and the girl finally opened her eyes to see that she had survived. Lennox still with his arms in the air, lapped up the praise and signalled like a showmen for more, which the crowd humbly obliged. Max stepped out towards the girl and knelt down, always a man of business. "Are you alright?" He said, his voice rough and gritty. The girl stood whimpering for a moment, before bursting into tears and collapsing into his arms. The pair stayed there for a while motionless, the heavy rain pattering around them.

    Samson watched Max hug the girl on his monitor with a great big smile on his face. It always swelled his heart to see another life saved, another win in their book.

    The woman standing over him was positively grim however. She had been watching the strange laser in the middle of the crossroads while all this has been going on. It had grown larger. Much larger. She reached down to the mic and pushed Samson out of the way, "This is Hellcat - something is not right down there, evacuate the civilians and clear th-"

    There was a flash on the monitors, searing white, and a huge crate crashed from the sky into the crossroads. The second the crate hit the ground the monitors all went blank, leaving them in darkness, and the comms feedback cut instantly and crackled and fuzzed in their ears. The pair winced. Then their eyes went wide. "Lennox, Max, Harpy do you read?" She said over the mic, panic in her voice. "God damn it - Do you read!?"

    "Hold on, let me see if I can get the feed up and running." Samson big form pushed her out of the way and he began to type furiously a number of keyboards, coming up for air only to take quick glances at the screens. All of them still blank.

    "Samson get me back that feed now." Hellcat demanded.

    "I can't." He said, still typing fast. "Syther Tech CCTV statuses are all reading as offline - whatever that thing was, it threw down a heavy EMP charge when it landed."

    "When will it be operational?" She pulled forward slightly and called into the mic, "Lennox, Max...anyone, do you read?"

    Samson turned to her, "could be a minute, could be five... or more. Depends how quick STE can get things back up from their end. We are stealing from their feeds."

    "Do you think it was them? You think that they would disable their own security systems?" She pondered.

    "I don't know. Seems drastic, right?"

    The feed returned. The monitors cut through the darkness with a piercing blue glow. But even in this low light you could see how pale the pair had gone. The crossroads shone on screen, but there was no movement. The crate had gone. The civilians had been left. Limp. Lifeless. Their bodies down to the floor, motionless in the heavy rain. Hundreds of men, women and children all fallen to the ground.

    Lennox's trademark grey trench coat could be seen on the street, soaking in the puddles of the rain, his mouth agap. Max and the girl were slumped into each other, faces cold and eyes completely white.

    "Lennox..." Hellcat whispered into the mic, "...Max..."

    "Oh god..." Samson placed a big hand around his mouth and fought back the tears. "What... Who..."

    He turned away unable to look at the monitors again, slumping heavy in his chair. But Hellcat persevered. Flicking between locations, she stumbled upon Harpy's hiding spot. She wasn't there. Some relief unfurled in Hellcat's sickened stomach and she was about to call into the mic, but she realised that Harpy's headset was there lying on the cold wet ground. Harpy was MIA.

    "What are we gonna do?" Samson whimpered, shaking.

    "We need to find her. Somehow." Hellcat responded softly, but her eyes were bloodshot as she stared into the monitor right where Harpy had been. And then she stared with tears in her eyes at where Lennox and Max still were.

    "We need help."
     
  4. Rethagos
    Offline

    Rethagos Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Somewhere before the screen (or not)
    „What is it that troubles you, my child?” I asked a young woman from behind a wooden cabin, which served as a confession booth.

    “I want to confess my sins.”

    I leaned back, looked up at the ceiling. It always amazed me how many people welcomed my service. My locum had no flair; it was just a place for the poor to live in. Yet people kept coming to listen to me. To confess to me. In a secular society, to boot.

    This was a fifteenth person since my last sermon, trying to set things straight with my God. She barely knew him, and yet she believed he waited for her in the afterlife. Or she just wanted to soothe her nerves?

    Doesn’t matter. I looked back at the woman. I noticed a scar on her arm. Her brown, curly hair almost covered it.

    She waited for my judgment.

    “Well,” I started with a heavy sigh. “The god wishes to preserve as much life as it is possible. Your deeds were not sins. You did them out of necessity.”

    She opened her eyes wide with shock. “Even my robbery on the-“

    “Yes. Survival in these dark times requires of us the greatest of sacrifices. You take what you need, nothing more. Your sins are redeemed. You can go.”

    She stood up and left the room without a word. She might not have thanked me verbally, but her expression was thankful enough for me.

    There was yet another person, kneeling beside the confession booth, waiting for me to speak.

    “What is it that troubles you, my child?”

    He didn’t respond. Instead, he reached out to my confession booth, put something beside me, and trotted out.

    “What the-“

    I grabbed the object and examined it under the light. A small, black disc, almost mistakable for a coin of sorts.

    I sighed with relief. I haven't seen bombs that small, so it wasn't just another attack. Still, I had to figure out the meaning of all this.

    I stood up from the booth, hid the disc in my pocket, and grabbed my walking cane.

    “Forgive me, children,” I said to people in the room. “For I have to depart for now.”

    I entered my office and put the disc on my desk, in an attempt of examining it more closely.

    “What the actual heck is this for? I bet it’s something important. It better be.”
     
    Fan7asticMrFox likes this.
  5. TheWanderingBeast
    Offline

    TheWanderingBeast New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2016
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    2
    - Enter Paul Nishimura -

    Paul rustled in his bed. A distant noise, annoying and pleasant at the same time was echoing inside his head. He opened his eyes, still too asleep to make out what he was hearing. Groggily, he looked at the alarm clock on his nightstand while scratching his forehead and letting out a satisfying yawn. Again, the noise came, this time clearer: It was Andrea.

    "Wuh?" he said rasply while standing up, trying to make out the room in the dim light the blinds to his right let through.

    "It's doing the thing again!" his wife hollered from the other room.

    Paul let out a sigh, his mouth coming to a slight smile. It was doing the thing again. Yup, that helps...

    "Have you tried turning it off an-"

    "YES, god, we've been married how long now?" she cut him off with with a chuckle.

    He let a laugh escape his mouth. Now more awake, he walked over to the bedroom door and out into the living room. He recoiled as he took in the light from the open window. Outside, a clear blue sky presented itself in between the endless skyscrapers of Towercrest. It took a few moments for Paul to adjust to the light shift. When he finally was able to withstand the blinding light of a perfectly normal day (which for Paul is an everyday challenge), he stumbled further into the living room seeing Andrea with one of her cute frowns, a little line forming on her forehead. She was standing in front of the TV, the remote in her hand. On the slim big screener he had put together with surplus inventory from past jobs, the all too well known dance of white, grey and black dots flowed endlessly. Static.

    "I can't get anything on this thing!" Andrea said annoyed, pouting slightly while looking at her husband.

    "Mornin' to you too" Paul said sarcastically while he leaned in for a kiss.

    He took the remote and skipped through a couple of channels. Nothing. Great, they changed the encryption algorithm... again...

    Paul wondered why they even tried anymore. It wasn't even hard to crack the new encryption, it was just... annoying.

    He walked over to the kitchen area of the loft, taking a mug and filling it with the coffee inside the pot that stood on the black marble counter. He took a whiff of the steaming liquid, and wondered if modern science had found a way to replace his blood with the stuff.

    Andrea waited patiently next to the TV, knowing Paul wouldn't be of any good before his morning fix.
    From his pajama pants he produced a slick device, about the size of his open hand. He checked the phone for any notifications, then browsed through his appointments for the day. There was only the meeting at Don Meliante's, and that wasn't for a while.

    Imbued with the energy from the dark holy liquid, he went back to his wife. On the couch in front the TV was his laptop. He grabbed it with one hand, opening it with the other in one fluid motion. While typing in his password, he walked over to the TV and connected a loose cable on its side to one of the many, many ports on the sides of his custom made laptop. With a few keystrokes he was opening up files filled with strange symbols and unreadable text, scrolling through them, taking in the information as he went. Andrea watched him type with a sparkle in her eyes. She'd seen him working many times, but the speed, the way he seemed to instantly become one with the computer, the way he was able to type at a speed that made his fingers but a blur... it never ceased to look awesome. She eyed her husband up and down while he worked: His slightly toned arms and his slick figure hinted at the perfectly honed body that was there years ago. Then the scar on his chest caught her eye, an everlasting reminder of the tragedy Paul went through in the past.

    About five minutes passed and with a couple final keystrokes, the image on the TV waved for a few seconds and was finally replaced with the image of a blonde lady in a suit standing in front of a screen that showed a map of Towercrest with the temperatures for each area overlapped. Paul disconnected from the TV and closed the lid on the laptop, laying it back on the couch where he found it.

    "Try a couple of channels, just to make sure" he said to his wife

    Andrea zapped through some channels, all showing their picture in perfect quality. She smiled and hugged Paul.

    "You're awesome, you know that?" she said with her head buried in his neck.

    "I've been told" he replied with a chuckle.

    They kissed and stood staring at each other for a while. Each could see the affection in the other's eyes, and for the millionth time, they each knew they had found their soulmate.

    Paul was the first to break the stare, heading toward the bathroom.

    "You working today?" he asked from within the shower.

    "Yeah, the STE are at it again. They left hundreds of bodies on the street."

    Paul stopped, his whole body tensed. The water from the shower poured over him as he tried to control himself. He stiffled an insult and took repetitive deep breaths, regaining control.

    "So body detail?" he asked after a while

    "Probably" Andrea answered.

    She knew how hard it was for Paul to talk about anything corporation related, but in this world, it's kind of hard not to. Andrea was one of the lead doctors at an underground refuge for those who weren't qualified for treatment at mainstream, corporation regulated hospitals, which was a LOT of people. Some couldn't afford it, others wanted to remain hidden from corporations for many assorted reasons. For all those people, these refuges were the only source of basic health services.

    Paul left the bathroom and headed to the bedroom, coming back out in his usual work attire: plain jeans, black low-heel sneakers and a dark blue sweater. His blonde hair was still wet from the shower, giving it a particular golden shine in the clear daylight.

    He approached his worktable, behind the couch and picked up his black padded backpack. He searched through its contents, taking out some gadgets and placing them on the table. Then, he picked up five marble sized metallic balls and placed them in his left pocket, the right one holding his phone. Finally he threw the laptop into the backpack and headed for the door.

    "You coming home for dinner?" His wife asked from the kitchen

    "Probably, you?"

    "Dunno, depends on how much cleaning up is left"

    Paul pursed his lips. He approached his wife.

    "Be careful out there." he said, a serious look in his brown eyes.

    "You know I am" Andrea said with smile.

    With a final kiss Paul was out the door and into the elevator. From the see through elevator he could see the classical landscape of seemingly neverending skyscrapers that was typical of Towercrest. He took out his phone again, confirming his appointment, getting a safe route from his modified GPS app.

    Paul stepped out of the elevator and directly into the street. Checking his phone, he immediately headed into a nearby alleyway. It was a dangerous thing to wander around the streets with his kind of equipment, and Paul knew it. Through side streets and alleyways he navigated the city he grew up in almost instinctively. He only needed the GPS app for the mod he programmed in that took STE patrol info and calculated routes that steered clear of potential danger. The mod was illegal of course, but then again very little in Paul's life was by the book. He knew how to keep off the STE's grid.

    Finally coming out of a poorly lit street and into a big avenue, Paul looked at the building in front of him. Yet another skyscraper stood colossal before him. Above the door silver letters read "Towercrest apartment complex 315". He stepped into the building's elevator and pressed the button for the 56th floor. As he climbed, he took the five metal marbles out of his pocket and hid one beside the elevator's door. In his pocket, Paul's phone buzzed quietly.

    A ding announced his arrival to the 56th floor. The whole floor was owned by Don Meliante, and in front of the elevator, behind a polished aluminum desk one of his grunts stood idly. He looked Paul up and down and finally spoke with a deep voice.

    "Yes?"

    Paul looked up. The man was several inches taller than he was, and considerably more muscular.

    "I have an appointment with the Don at 2" Paul said.

    The man raised an eyebrow. He pressed a button on the desk and lifted a hand to his ear.

    "Yeah boss, I have a guy here saying he's got a meeting at 2." he announced.

    "Yeah. No. Alone." the goon continued.

    He motioned for Paul to approach the desk, which he did. While the guy spoke he stealthily placed another marble on the underside of the desk, facing the elevator. Again his phone buzzed.

    "You Nishimura?" the behind the desk asked

    Paul nodded.

    "Yeah he says it's him. Understood" the man spoke into the intercom once more.

    He looked at Paul one last time before motioning to the door behind him on the left.

    "Last door of the corridor. Knock before you go in"

    Paul nodded, already heading to it. The corridor hosted many doors, to the left and right, but the door at the end was visibly special. Paul's suspicions were confirmed as he knocked on it. His knocks echoed throughout the corridor. Reinforced metal. He placed another marble on the door, it held in place at waist height. His phone buzzed again.

    "Come in" a voice from inside said.

    Paul pulled the heavy metal plated door, stepping through. Inside, a burly man sat behind a ridiculously oversized mahogany desk. The white haired man smirked as he saw Paul enter the room.

    "So we finally meet." Don Meliante said, motioning for Paul to sit on the vacant chair in front of him.

    Paul took off his backpack, sitting down and placing it beside him.

    "Don Meliante, a pleasure." Paul replied

    "So how's my... request going?" The white haired man said standing up. He started pacing the room.

    "It's going. It's not really easy to bypass corp regulated channels, especially on phones." Paul said.

    The Don nodded, continuing to pace the room, not even looking at his guest. He finally stopped. From inside a drawer on his desk, he produced an evelope. He slid it across the table to Paul.

    "This came from up the foodchain for you." he said, looking at Paul.

    Paul eyed the envelope quizzically. Then he looked at the man in front of him. His face showed that he was just as confused.

    As he reached for the envelope his phone buzzed. He looked at his phone and his expression changed.

    "Don, are you expecting visitors?" he asked with worry in his voice.

    "What? What are you talking about?" Don Mealiante's confusion was reaching a breaking point.

    "Someone's coming up the elevator." His phone buzzed again. "They're in the lobby"

    Suddenly a plethora of muffled gunshots could be heard. The Don jumped at the sound.

    "Shi- how did you... Fu- nevermind that" he pressed a button underneath his desk. The enormous bookcase on the left wall moved to the side to reveal a hidden passage. The Don was already halfway there.

    "DON'T JUST STAND THERE, COME ON" He screamed desperately.

    Paul jumped at the shout. As soon as he heard the gunshots his mind went back to that place so many years ago. He was angry and scared but the desperate bellow snapped him out of it enough to get him to move.

    He grabbed the envelope throwing it in the backpack as he jogged behind Don Meliante through the passage. In the other room, a staircase seemed to lead to the floor below, and the Don was alredy halfway down it. Paul followed.

    Below, they both ran through a maze of empty hallways. While Paul followed the white haired man, he wondered just how many floors he had bought out. Finally they came to a concealed elevator at the end of a hallway. It was already waiting there.

    They stepped in and started their descent. The Don reched for his legs trying to catch his breath.

    "How did you know... before they came in..." he said gasping for air

    Paul produced the last two marbles from his pocket.

    "Motion sensors. Enhanced, of course. They're connected to my phone. Just in case" he said, still jarred from the events that had transpired.

    The Don stared at the small spheres, mouth agape. With some of his breath back, he was able to stand back up.

    He looked at Paul and laughed quietly.

    "Now I see why they chose you" he said nodding.

    Paul frowned.

    "What? Who're they?"

    Again, the Don laughed quietly.

    "I'm sure you can figure it out" he said while he nodded toward Paul's backpack.

    As soon as he said it, the elevator emitted a ding and opened it's doors. The elevator lead to an out of the way street. In front of the door were two trash containers that they had to move out of the way to get out of the elevator.

    Don Meliante once again nodded to Paul.

    "I still want that comms network done by next month. Good luck with them" he said smiling before heading out into the street and quickly disappearing down an alleyway.

    Paul stood there. So much had just happened, but the only thing he could really think of at the moment was:

    "...What the fuck?"
     
  6. halisme
    Offline

    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2015
    Messages:
    1,084
    Likes Received:
    685
    "How's the coursework going?" Sabina asked, looking over the screen as the pupil continued typing.

    "Working on finding a root that doesn't work with newton raphson." On the girls screen was a mass of text and graphs, neatly lain out as gave a groan.

    "Yeah, finding one that doesn't work is a bitch. When you put your initial formula in, make the X squared value higher than the others, it should help." She answered, before looking down at her phone and giving it a tap. One on the corner, mine there. She carried on her game of minesweeper before glancing up again. "Rearrangement after this as well. If you find this annoying that's even worse."

    "Do I really need to know this? We have had calculators for god knows how long."

    "I agree, but companies don't so keep working."

    There was a slight vibration in her jacket pocket as her phone went off, causing her to draw it in a moment. Not now. She gave a long sigh. She wasn't particularly friendly with the group, outright stating her desire to work alone, or not even with them at all. Yet, there was still a use for the group, and the small, glowing ring on the screen served as a reminder. She glanced at the clock on the screen. The session would be over soon. No excuses.

    "Sorry Jen, session's almost over."

    "Not a problem for me." She answered, saving her work and shutting it down.

    "Same time next week." Sabina finished before leaving quickly, grabbing her bag and leaving. She'd need to head home, grab her gun, and then wait for further instruction.
     
    Fan7asticMrFox likes this.
  7. obi-sem kenobi
    Offline

    obi-sem kenobi Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2015
    Messages:
    253
    Likes Received:
    60
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    17.86 kilometres outside of Towercrest city is the Dead Zone. It’s a shallow crater, 10 kilometres in diameter and completely uninhabited and caused by a crashed military satellite, a failed government prototype weapon platform, way back when there still was a government. The place was abandoned after it became clear that the crash had caused a lasting electro-magnetic field that fried every bit of technology that entered the zone. Hence its name. What most people don’t know is that the field started to collapse after a small decade, from the inside out. The day a young software-engineer realised this, only a thin veil of the original field remained. He bought the land for next to nothing, claiming to use it for shield-testing, and built a small base where he could train for his activities as member of the newly-founded Neon.

    Thirty years later, RAM inherited the hide-out of his old mentor. He’d had a good day’s sleep and was ready to prowl the streets of Towercrest and protect its inhabitants from the ruthless regime of Syther Tech. He put on his gauntlets and grabbed a disk the size of an old record from a shelve and walked outside. With the press of a button, RAM’s exoskeleton unfolded from the gauntlets and immediately cast its neon-red into the dark night of the Dead Zone. He threw the disk in the air and it decompressed into the shape of a blue glowing motorcycle.

    The red of his armour and the blue of his bike trailed across the Zone as he made his way towards Towercrest. He loved the feeling of wind blowing through his hair, moving at high speeds. When he reached the outer city limits, he compressed his bike again, lodged the disc in a socket on the back of his armour and hopped onto the nearest roof ladder he could find.

    He liked heights. Far less patrols on rooftops and balconies. Good chances for surprise attacks as those metal bastards hardly ever look up. But most of all it was because there’s just no feeling like free running the city of skyscrapers.

    He had a specific target tonight. A shipment of upgrade chips was arriving at the docks. These chips would significantly increase the cyborgs’ targeting speed and scanning range. Very very bad. Luckily, the ones responsible for security tried to use their brains again. All the heavy security was used to protect a decoy, while the actual shipment would only be guarded by two or three cyborgs at best.

    It was a decent tactic, but next time they might want to secure their transmissions a little better when talking about such sensitive information. RAM was no hacking wizard, but he knew how to contact people that were.

    When he reached the docks, the shipment was only just arriving. He turned his armour off as he climbed across containers to where the chips would be unloaded. There were two cyborgs, lightly enhanced with targeting processors and the usual behaviour training, and one human. For a moment he was almost disappointed that it wasn’t Jade, but that soon faded as he realised this probably upped his chances of success.

    One of the cyborgs was busy unloading the container while the other and the human were keeping guard. Or rather, the other cyborg was keeping guard and the human was boasting about the importance of his position and how after this he would certainly be recognised by the higher-ups for his amazing talents.

    RAM jumped down from the container and activated his armour mid-air. He hit the ground running and immediately fired to quick shots of his wrist gun into the cyborg’s chest armour. The human fumbled for his side-arm, but was momentarily baffled as his assailant seemed to have disappeared into the night. He only realised that only the neon lights had turned off just before a blow to the head ended his conscience thought.

    The cyborg was not yet out for the count, but the blow had knocked the wind out of him and probably cracked a few ribs. Just as his optics had re-enabled night vision, the lights went on again, blinding him just long enough to register three blows to his direct nervous system, causing a direct reboot stuck in a loop, error messages, blue screen, knock-out.

    RAM used the little bit of extra speed his armour provided to get behind an opposite container as two or three short beams trailed just after him. He wall-jumped twice to get on top of the container he was hiding behind, but with his armour turned off again. He took a quick look at the cyborg, making its way to where it’d last seen its foe, before he dropped down on the other side.

    The moment the cyborg turned around the corner, RAM’s armour lit up again as he sprinted towards the container with the chipsets. He threw his bike-disc in the air again and it decompressed just in front of the container. RAM opened up the compartment under the seat and pulled out a rather large explosive device. The cyborg had already opened it up, so he checked the first box to make sure he got the right one, armed the device and jumped on his bike.

    A few beams shot past as he drove into the empty streets and disappeared into the dark again.

    RAM sat down on the couch as he began patching up the graze on his shoulder. Everything worked out exactly as he had planned this time, and yet he still got shot. Ben would scold at him and tell him exactly what he did wrong right about now, but Ben wasn’t here anymore. RAM would have to find out his own mistakes from now on. A single tear slid down his check.

    But suddenly, something caught his eye. Something lit up. It was Ben’s old disc, neatly displayed among some of his other memories on a shelve in the living room. Why would Neon call on Ben? They knew he was dead. Was this someone’s idea of a sick joke?

    Or could it be…
     
  8. Fan7asticMrFox
    Offline

    Fan7asticMrFox Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    910
    Likes Received:
    201
    Location:
    Hampshire, UK
    Chapter One:
    Meeting with Destiny

    The black coin shaped device waited until evening, before slowly pulsing with a multicoloured glow just around its edges. It wasn't especially bright but it had a fascinating aurora affect on its surroundings, sending all manner of colourful waves across the room, waiting to be pressed.

    The moment the device was triggered, the glowing ceased and swallowed into the black. Suddenly a cold blue holographic image of a woman appeared, standing a full height but scaled to half a metre. She had a shaved head, a large burn mark across her right face and her eyes were focused in front.

    "Hello.

    I am part of a small group of skilled individuals who work towards giving hope to the citizens of the world. We are known as Neon, you may have heard of us, and if so you will know that we fight for justice and protection of everyday civilians from the clutches of all the evil and corrupt corporations.

    Much has been said about our group in the Corp media, terrorists, rebels, resistance fighters. And while our activities have some crossover with these labels, our goal is much simpler. We fight to save the people. We are the modern day heroes of this dark oppressive world."

    She grinned a little, betraying her cool exterior to show the immense amount of pride swelling within her. But then she instantly composed herself.

    "I am contacting you because I believe you have the potential and moral compass to do what is right in the world's time of need. I have never used the term lightly, but we are heroes. And in you, I think we've found another one.

    Let's meet tonight. This communication is on a secure channel - for now. There is a illegal bar in the back alleys of Monument Square, just between the laundromat and a fried chicken place. You'll want the white door; knock three times and then when prompted give the password, "Tropical".

    I look forward to meeting you."
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2016
  9. obi-sem kenobi
    Offline

    obi-sem kenobi Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2015
    Messages:
    253
    Likes Received:
    60
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    *Accidentally posted twice, you can remove this post if you can.*
     
  10. obi-sem kenobi
    Offline

    obi-sem kenobi Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2015
    Messages:
    253
    Likes Received:
    60
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Ben usually gave the instruction to RAM himself, so he did not know many Neon members, but he was pretty sure he’d met this woman before. Hellcat, he believed Ben’d called her.

    This is stupid. Neon is a team of elites. They need Ben, but Ben isn’t here anymore. So they come to me instead. Well, guess what? I’m not him.

    RAM was never a big fan of Neon once he realised they all take orders from a talking chair. Trust was important to him and although he could appreciate a little secrecy and hidden identities, he wanted to know that he could trust the one handing out the orders. He’d trusted Ben. He didn’t trust a chair.

    That said, Neon did do some pretty awesome things. No big wars or power struggles, just standing up for the little guy. Maybe he should give them a chance. After all, the night was still young.

    After ten minutes of moping, complaining and inner debate, RAM found himself on his bike for the second time tonight. He didn’t have a bomb underneath his ass this time, but that did nothing to lessen the tension. Would it just be him? Probably not. Something prompted them to increase their ranks. After all, if they really wanted him specifically, they would have called on him sooner. Would the other’s be awesome heroes like Ben? Or would they be more like him? Questions, questions.

    Once he got to Monument Square he compressed his bike and armour and walked into the mentioned alley. It wasn’t really his part of town, but he knew his way around. He walked up to the inconspicuous white door and knocked three times. Two eyes popped up behind a small rectangular peeping hole. A lo0w and gritty voice came from behind the door.

    “You look like you could use a vacation.”

    “Yeah, I was thinking someplace… tropical.”

    The peeping hole closed and after the clicking and sliding of at least five different kinds of locks, the door opened. A big, muscular man stood at the door beckoning him to come in. “You’re the first. Pick a table in the back.” RAM looked down the small flight of stairs and was about to enter the bar when the man spoke again. “Word of advice kid… Stay away from the BLT.” “I’ll keep that in mind, thank you.”

    RAM didn’t believe his eyes when he walked into the poorly lit room and took a good look around. This place belonged in a bloody museum. The walls, tables and even the bar were all made of wood. The seats were covered in something RAM could only guess was leather, a material so illegal that he could probably get executed just for looking at it.

    There was a very, very large liquor cabinet behind the bar, holding every kind of alcohol-sustaining drink humanity had ever invented. The bartender was young, perhaps slightly older than RAM himself. He wore a black waistcoat over a white shirt and all in all looked far too decent for this kind of place.

    RAM took a place at a table somewhere in the back and ordered a cup of coffee. He couldn’t stand the stuff, but wanted to stay sober and on his feet for the meeting, and figured they’d probably kick him out if he ordered water. "Would you like a BLT with that? They're at a special price today." "I think I'll pass, but thanks."

    Now all he could do was wait until the others arrived.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016
  11. halisme
    Offline

    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2015
    Messages:
    1,084
    Likes Received:
    685
    She'd taken a cab to a nearby cafe, one of the places she usualy frequent, but not one Sabina would ever to go at night. Not because of a refusal to drink coffee at night of course, mostly because it was closed. She'd also set a slight delay to the payment, ensuring that to anyone it'd look like she'd gone out for a drink the coming weekend, some sort of social meeting for anyone doing any investigating.
    She took a deep breath before digging through her pocket and pulling her phone out, opening her contacts and clicking on one called Marvin and sending a quick message.

    Ready for work?

    Accessing proxies now. Beginning analyses of corporation encryptions. Any idea when you'll be home?

    Not a clue. Keep an eye on the front door.

    She shrugged before rolling her shoulders back, regaining her posture after staring down at the screen. She continued walking, giving a nod to a pair of Syther enforcers who were on patrol, rifle in hand and covered head to toe in black armour. She held a certain respect for it. Not those within of course, they were those too stupid to do intellectual or strategic work and instead being related and grunt rolls. Instead she admired the work that had gone into the armour, the hours of design iteration and production. She'd considered getting some herself, before finding she preferred the idea, not the practice, storage or cost.

    She knocked on the door, tapping it with her knuckle three times before the metal slid to the side and she rolled her eyes.

    “You look like you could use a vacation.”

    "Just let me in, you know who I am."

    "You look like you could use a vacation." The man repeated, causing her to raise her middle finger in a reply.

    "No thanks." She hissed through gritted teeth. "It's tropical enough here already."

    With that she let inside and gave an internal sigh. How the hell was there an illegal bar in a world driven by profit. If people knew about it they'd have sent a death squad, and by having a password, it would raise suspicion. She went inside, the bartender giving a gesture to a new figure whom she had not seen before. This sort of thing was always fun. She made a slight grumble to herself, before taking her seat and not taking a word.
     
  12. Rethagos
    Offline

    Rethagos Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Somewhere before the screen (or not)
    I wasn’t disappointed. This stuff was important.

    So… the Neon. Huh. I think I have heard about them from someone. A gang of modern-time heroes. Helping the people in need, keeping the corporations at bay.

    And they want me to help their cause. How funny is that? We both help people, I and the Neon. We just do it in different ways. I strengthen their spirits, and prepare them for the afterlife. The Neon… well…

    Darn it, I’m in. Word of my God can help them only this much. I may give them some boost in morale, but Neon gives them actual hope. If I entered the fray, they would see, and they would believe.

    And, in fact, I could use some serious action.

    I put the disc in my pocket, hid some ammo and my lovely dagger between a Kevlar and the coat. Then I examined my walking cane, to check if everything was still functional.

    I folded it in half. Trigger popped out from the middle piece, and the longer part split into two, to form separate barrels. The front sight was just fine – I thanked both the God and whoever made this beautiful thing. Two clicks on the sides, and a stock emerged. I took a quick aim at the picture on the wall. My finger went on the trigger, ready to pull at any moment.

    “All’s nice. Now I’m ready.”

    I turned the recoil pad 180 degrees, and the shotgun assembled itself back into the walking cane. I grabbed it and left the building.

    “Back of Monument Square, between laundromat and fried chicken, white door,” I reminded myself in my thoughts. “Knock three times, “Tropical” is the password.”

    I marched on, and it took me several minutes to realize that I had the streets all wrong. I ended up in front of some skyscraper, and the surroundings didn’t remind me of the Square at all. How could I possibly forget how to navigate through the city?

    “Not this memory, old man,” a blatant lie popped in my mind. “Not this memory.”

    I turned to the right and kept moving. To my surprise, Monument Square was not that far from there. I went to the back alleys, found the fried chicken place, and then – stepped in front of the white door she was talking about.

    “So, I guess courtesies will be in order,” I thought when slamming at the door three times.

    I heard a shuffle. A tiny peeping hole opened, and a pair of eyes scanned me.

    “You look like you could use a vacation,” a coarse voice exclaimed.

    I mustered a smile. “Well, thanks for the concern. Tropical places are my soft spot.”

    Metal slid back at its place, locks clicked a few times, and the door finally opened.

    I couldn’t help but look around the bar. Its oddity struck me. Like if it didn’t belong here in time.

    The whole place felt like a relic of the past. Everything here was made of wood. Except the seat covers, which were of something a bit more comfy. Leather, I guess.

    The bartender pointed at the back of the bar. There I noticed two figures, sitting by the tables in total silence. I moved towards them, took the chair, and put the cane on my lap.

    I figured it was smarter not to start talking until the woman from the hologram shows up.
     
  13. TheWanderingBeast
    Offline

    TheWanderingBeast New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2016
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    2
    Paul sighed wearily, wiping his forehead with his left hand. As the sun set over the horizon, he sat back home at his workbench, voltage-tester in hand, prying and prodding at the onyx disc he'd received from Don Meliante.

    After the afternoon's events, Paul had managed to pull himself back together and get back home safely. He'd waited until he was back to examine the contents of the envelope, which he later realized was a foolish thing to do, since he didn't know what was in it.

    After the afternoon's events, Paul was still rattled. He'd been in danger today, mortally so, and he didn't like it. All of his precautions were there to ensure that precisely these kinds of things didn't happen. Best case scenario they were there for the Don and didn't even know about Paul. Worst case scenario... he didn't want to think about it.

    Now, however, his focus was the strange device. By now he'd concluded it had circuitry in it, for sure. What it did though, that's was the true mystery. Tracking device? If so he'd just compromised his home and worse, his wife. Bomb? Even worse. The whole ordeal was very stressful to Paul, but he would get to the bottom of it.

    Hours passed and the night had settled in. Andrea still hadn't come home and Paul still sat at his workbench, which now also held a mug half filled with coffee and a bowl with what looked like the remains of instant noodles, poking at the small disc from all perceivable angles. He'd even thought of building an X-ray device, but he didn't even have the all the parts. Opening the device to study it would be the simplest option, but it could trigger some kind of mechanism, so that was out too.

    Paul closed his eyes for a second and all of a sudden the living room was flooded with a myriad of lights. Paul froze, but his mind was racing. Was it a scripted event or did someone trigger it remotely? His old reflexes took over and he slapped the device into his bedroom while diving behind the couch for cover. A few seconds passed before the lights faded and the room was left with its standard lighting. He waited a few more seconds before he started hearing a voice.

    Carefully, Paul walked into his bedroom, adrenaline coarsing through him like it hadn't in ages, only to see a blue holographic projection of a woman with horrible scarring on the right side of her face.

    "... work towards giving hope to the citizens of the world. We are known as Neon, you may have heard of us, and if so you will know that we fight for justice and protection of everyday civilians from the clutches of all the evil and corrupt corporations.

    Much has been said about our group in the Corp media, terrorists, rebels, resistance fighters. And while our activities have some crossover with these labels, our goal is much simpler. We fight to save the people. We are the modern day heroes of this dark oppressive world."

    Paul stood frozen, listening.

    "I am contacting you because I believe you have the potential and moral compass to do what is right in the world's time of need. I have never used the term lightly, but we are heroes. And in you, I think we've found another one.

    Let's meet tonight. This communication is on a secure channel - for now. There is a illegal bar in the back alleys of Monument Square, just between the laundromat and a fried chicken place. You'll want the white door; knock three times and then when prompted give the password, "Tropical".

    I look forward to meeting you."

    Neon. Paul had heard of the group before. Protectors of the people, enemies of the corps, and now apparently they wanted him? He was torn. His skepticism told him this was most likely a trap, maybe even from whoever almost caught him at Don Meliante's. On the other hand though, he wanted to get to the bottom of this. He wasn't particularly interested in joining a group of heroes, that was never how Paul saw himself. However, he didn't mind taking down some corps, and if he could help people while at it, then it'd be all the better.

    He retrieved the disc which lay on the ground next to his bed and slid his closet door aside, taking out an old dusty cardboard box. Opening it, he took out what loked like asilver tube, no larger than his hand. With a trained swipe the staff extended fully to become almost as tall as Paul.

    Testingly, he performed a few swipes. Then some jabs and some fancy rotative deflections. He nodded, smiling slightly. His muscle memory was intact. The technique wasn't perfect and he lacked strength but it'd do in a pinch, and after today, he wasn't going to be going out without it, especially to a shady meeting for what new members of Neon.

    Once again Paul picked up the black padded backpack, throwing the onyx disc into it, along with the laptop and some flash charges, just in case. He pocketed his phone and the last metal marbles, along with the retracted silver staff, and wrote a note to Andrea which read:

    "Headed out for work, don't wait up. Love you. P"

    Once again descending on the elevator, Paul programmed his GPS app for Monument square. He took to the alleyways and sidetreets navigating the backstage of the city. It him took a while to get to the place, but he didn't want to take any vehicles. Too easy too tail.

    Coming from the back of the laundromat into the street with the white door, he stopped a few feet away. He took out his phone and selected the camera app. The screen went as dark as the street was, but Paul tapped through a couple of menus and suddenly a dance of orange, yellow and green began surfacing on the tiny screen. He'd modified the phone's camera with heat sensors. Just in case.

    The screen showed the silhoutte of a person sitting beside the door and a trail that seemed to lead to a staircase headed into the ground. The camera couldn't see underground, obviously, and Paul was getting antsy. Taking a few minutes to collect himself, he took a deep breath and walked toward the door.

    Three knocks. He heard some rustling from inside and suddenly a peeping hole opened up to reveal a pair of eyes.

    "You look like you could use a vacation." the man behind the door said.

    "Tropical" Paul replied dryly.

    The peeping hole closed and he could hear latches being unlocked. Quickly he attached one of his marbles to the middle hinge of the white door. Finally the door opened to reveal an very muscular man. As Paul stepped in, the bouncer pointed at the stairs.

    "Down there, some have already arrived." the bouncer said.

    Paul nodded and went down the stairs. The lower floor looked like it'd been frozen in time, impervious to the corps' violence and greed and... was that leather?!

    The bartender motioned for him to approach, which he did.

    "Can I interest you in a BLT? Real low price today." the man behind the counter said with a smile.

    "Umm... No thank you" Paul said, confused.

    The bartender sighed and nodded toward the back of the bar. Three people were apparently there, all sitting awkwardly without talking at each other. Paul walked to them and sat down as well. He was pretty confident none of them knew what to expect either.
     
  14. Fan7asticMrFox
    Offline

    Fan7asticMrFox Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    910
    Likes Received:
    201
    Location:
    Hampshire, UK
    A wooden door in the back of the bar creaked open, revealing the silhouette of a slender woman in front of a mammoth of a man. The pair strolled in together casually, Hellcat giving a kind nod towards the bartender before stopping at the table where the initiates were. The other man following joined her. He was a tall and meaty black man with thick dreadlocks on his head and a trimmed yet full beard. With arms the size of barrels and a stomach just as round he resembled that of a hefty ElectroBall player. However with such a constant wide smile on his face beaming down at the group, the man seemed as intimidating as a fat tabby cat.

    "Sabina," Hellcat started, "I'm glad you could join us this evening and meet the prospective recruits. Paul, RAM, Claudius; it's a pleasure to finally meet you all in person. My name is Hellcat and this here is Samson."

    At which point Samson gave a deep and chuckling "Hello."

    "Before we get down to the nitty gritty," Hellcat began, "I wanted to share with you the importance of this place and why we brought you here. Monument Square I mean. There's a reason that a bar like this is able to survive in such a Corp controlled world."

    Samson grabbed a pew at the bar while Hellcat took a seat at the booth. "Most of you will know that during the climax of the PMC War a resistance was formed under the name of The Patriots, fighting to take back the identity of the world from the corporations. Oh this was a good fifteen years ago now.

    And as the story goes this group of freedom fighters gained a great deal of traction thanks to the corporations bickering between themselves, so much so that at one point a third of Towercrest belonged under Patriot control, and much more if you counted their underground activity. The Corps fight against each other meant they had taken an eye off the people - and the people had created an army." She paused with a twinkle in her eye, though the expression on her face sat forlorn and somber. Samson bowed his head a little.

    "It might have worked... but the Corps knew the real threat to their control. So they teamed up. They purged the city of Patriot activity as quickly as they could, catching the resistance off guard. Before they could understand what was happening, The Patriots had lost most of their control. Yet they still had outside help flooding in from secret channels and their headquarters was still planning tactics and strategy from a remote location. Things were far from over.

    And that is where Monument Square came into play. As one of the farthest West areas of Towercrest, Monument Square sat on the outskirts of the giant metropolis with many tunnels and secret channels connected to it. Pouring all remaining resource from the city into this location, The Patriots were giving their HQ time to regroup support and push back. They just had to hold the Square for five days."

    At this point, Hellcat leaned in on the table and looked at each of them with an intense gaze, the floral lamp lighting above giving her scar added effect. "Now let me tell you something. When you are at full scale war with a corporation, they come down on you hard. Super soldiers, bombing runs, advanced robotics, artillery - you name it. But when four corporations come barging down the door... know that you are in Hell.

    Skyscrapers were torn asunder, buildings obliterated and good men and woman disintegrated in their wake. The Square became a vision of flame and ash; rubble, debris and glass layering on top of the area each time. Defences were built and pinch points were set up to hold the bastards back, and though they threw everything at us, The Patriots would not budge from Monument Square.

    Twenty three thousand resistance fighters were cut down to six in those five days. And though the losses were great, the damage inflicted on the Corps were tenfold. They were reeling from their wounds, while we were the surviving veterans of this battle. Plus we had HQ support inbound." Hellcat shifted uncomfortably in her chair, "Or so we thought."

    "It turned out that there were delays. The Patriots - though willing - were bruised and battered, yet they had to hold the Square for two more days. Six thousand turned to four, which turned to two. Numbers dwindled, but keeping a foothold on this god damn Square was so vital.

    But they held. On the dawn of the seventh day, The raggedy Patriot flag still stood high on the broken construction spine in the middle of the Square, it's blue and white flapping valiantly in the morning sun."

    "Yet no support arrived." She said bitterly, clenching her fists until her knuckles burned white. "The corps had cut the head from the body, and HQ cowardly radioed their surrender over to us. We had held our ground for an entire week, struggled through fire and soot, watched so many friends die," Hellcat stood bolt upright and slammed a fist into the table, "And they just gave up. Made the decision for us.

    The Corps moved in to clean up. With roughly one thousand eight hundred resistance fighters left, we fought back with all our might. Screw the surrender order, The Patriots - The Real Patriots - were not giving up the Square.

    We caught the Corps by surprise, and we lavished punishment on them and their unsuspecting forces. Ambushes were set and easy targets picked off. The flag still stood proudly in the middle of the Square. And though we knew it didn't matter, though we knew it was over we marched on.

    And the strangest thing happened. The Corps retreated. They will always state that the terrorists had been quelled and the danger no longer loomed, but we know the small truth that no one else knew - we won this battle.

    The Patriots crumpled of course, but Monument Square was barely touched by the corporations in the reconstruction effort and it was the remaining veterans that made it into their own. Even to this day the Corps are afraid to try and stamp their control on the area, understanding what the patriotism of the residents could spark up if they were not careful."

    Hellcat sat back down in her seat and let the silence sooth her anguish. It was not a story she liked to tell, but one that needed telling. If the memory of her comrades lived on then good would always continue to combat evil.

    "I suppose that's where Neon came from, the ashes of the resistance." She said quietly. "We couldn't try and go toe to toe with the corporations again, it was just too much to bear. But we could, at the very least, defend Towercrest against their brutality and save the civilians from the crossfire of the ongoing PMC War."

    "I would hope the story has moved you in some way to realise why we do what we do. If you feel like you want to be part of this, then we do have an initiation." She turned around to Samson, who pointed at six shots on the bar. Hellcat turned back to the group, albeit rather sheepishly, "Unfortunately we don't have the resource for a proper initiation, so it's just a shot of tequila. "

    "Join us and drink a shot, and we will see that as your commitment to Neon." Hellcat got up from the booth and walked over to the bar, taking a shot and clanking it with Samson's, before downing it together. "If not, please leave the disk on the table, walk through the white door and try and forget about us."
     
  15. obi-sem kenobi
    Offline

    obi-sem kenobi Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2015
    Messages:
    253
    Likes Received:
    60
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Ram listened attentively to wildcat’s story. Ben had told bits and pieces here and there, but it was nice to hear the whole thing for once. That said, it wasn’t good enough.

    “Great speech. Nice story, really, I always appreciate a good history lesson, but you don’t seriously expect us to make a decision based on that?” It wasn’t full-blown sarcasm, or at least he hadn’t meant it to be, but his mouth always had a way of running off on him. “I mean, why now? I don’t know about these other guys, but you’ve known about me for years. Ben knew I wasn’t ready for something like this, so what makes you think I am? What is it exactly that you need from us? You call us here in the middle of the night expecting a serious commitment. For a decision like that, we’ll need more than your personal origin story!”

    He got a bit excited towards the end, but overall it shouldn’t have come off as too much of an attack. Subtlety was never his forte, but it helped that his questions were serious. Ben had always criticized what he did. Compliments were scarce. RAM knew he was not even close to being the man he was. It was not so much personal insecurity, he just knew his place. Neon was an organization of titans, he simply lacked the skill and the experience to be part of it.

    The problem was, they knew this. Ben was pretty close with these guys, there is no way he did not tell them about him. They should know how much he still had to learn before he could do any real good on his own. So why did they ask him here?
     
  16. Fan7asticMrFox
    Offline

    Fan7asticMrFox Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    910
    Likes Received:
    201
    Location:
    Hampshire, UK
    "It's not just my personal origin story." Hellcat snapped, feeling the heat of the tequila burn down her throat. "It's Samson's too, and Ben's."

    There was a moment's pause and Hellcat caught a glance at Samson, who in turn gave a solemn nod. She smiled back, but couldn't shake the flickering images of all the fallen that had served with them those seven days. Her eyes held tight together: tired, frustrated.

    "I won't bullshit you." She said opening her eyes back to RAM. "We need your help. We can't save the people on our own, and you are all incredibly skilled at what you do. By no means perfect, but that's what development is for."

    Samson piped up surprisingly, watching her words inspire little confidence in RAM. "You know Ben was pretty dope - but even he was a rookie at one point. That man had scars, but not because he was badass... but because he made mistakes and learnt from them." From the corner of his eye, he saw Hellcat touch the side of her face and then turn away to look down the bar. Samson sighed, "We allowed to do that. That's what makes use different from the Corps. That's what makes us human."
     
  17. obi-sem kenobi
    Offline

    obi-sem kenobi Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2015
    Messages:
    253
    Likes Received:
    60
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    RAM touched the sore spot on his shoulder and nodded. He’d always put Ben on a pedestal. He deserved it, he was the best. But maybe, just maybe, now that he was dead, RAM was starting to forget that he was human too. Just like these two. They were Ben’s friends. That alone should be enough to give this a shot.

    He walked up to the bar and picked up a glass. However, instead of drinking it immediately, he walked up to Hellcat, looked her in the eye and held the glass in between their faces.

    “I still won’t commit myself to the back of a chair… but I’ll commit myself to you. You marched into Hell and came out kicking, you fight for what’s right, but, most importantly, Ben trusted you. So I will too.”

    After he spoke those last words, he gulped down the shot of tequila. As the alcohol scorched his throat, his armour and helmet decompressed, lighting the room with red neon light and covering his face with shiny metal. With his voice now distorted into a low pitched scramble, he said:

    “I’ll follow you like I followed him.”

    Turning around, he now stood side by side with these two titans. Warriors of old. Things would be different from now on, but he welcomed the change. This was his chance to do some serious good. A new beginning.
     
  18. TheWanderingBeast
    Offline

    TheWanderingBeast New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2016
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    2
    Paul watched the events silently. Hellcat's story had struck home with him and his hate for the corporations flared brightly in his chest. It was during those same days that the Nishimura dojo had been raided and razed, and his family wiped out. Without warning, without mercy.

    As the man with the atomic decompression suit downed his shot, joining Neon, Paul also stood up and looked the scarred woman in the eye.

    "I heard your story and I understand where you come from." he gripped his chest feeling his old scar "Nothing would make me happier than to help the common folk and undermine the corporate hierarchy, but I have a wife to think of. Can you guarantee her safety?"
     
  19. AnonyMouse
    Offline

    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,225
    Likes Received:
    337
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    ONE YEAR AGO
    The first time I met Jimmy, I knew he wouldn’t last a day in my world. I suppose I ought to be impressed he lasted, what, a year? Damn, has it really been that long?

    I was in the usual place, at the usual time, waiting for my usual guy to show up and sell me the usual stuff. I’d been doing business with Rocco for years. He gave me a good deal on top quality hardware, heavy shit to keep the corps reeling. Guns, cars, armor, bullets, he had it all, and then some. He wasn’t the top arms dealer in the city, but he was the only one who’d work with me. The rest thought I was outta my damn mind. They were right.

    Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased when Rocco’s car pulls up and out steps this kid who looks like he should be home suckin’ his momma’s titties. Naturally, I gave him something to suck on: stuck a gun in his mouth and said, “where’s Rocco, you son of a bitch.”

    With any other arms dealer, this is the part where ten guys would step out of the shadows and turn me into Swiss cheese. But Jimmy wasn’t like anybody I ever met. I doubt he had ten cents in his pocket, let alone ten goons on the payroll. Instead, he starts shaking like a leaf, and tells me Rocco’s his cousin’s uncle’s brother-in-law’s, mistress’s son or some shit. He pissed off the wrong people and had to skip town. Jimmy inherited his supply lines.

    “Go home, kid,” I said as I pulled the gun from his mouth. But he wouldn’t. That’s the thing about Jimmy. He always seemed scared shitless, like he was gonna break any second, but somehow kept it together, somehow dug up just enough courage to get by, but no so much that you’d see him as a threat. He was always just big enough to face whatever was standing before him.

    Hell, he faced me. That's worth something, right?

    NINE MONTHS AGO

    “What the hell is this?” I said, as I rummaged through the crate. It was full of pineapples. I mean, full of ‘em. I’d never seen so many grenades in my life. I had half a mind to pull the pin and play catch with this dumb kid.

    “I thought you liked grenades?” Jimmy said.

    “I didn’t order no fucking grenades, Jimmy,” I said, slamming the lid shut. “Why the hell would I pay you three grand for a box of this crap when I’ve got enough nitro and fertilizer to level half the city and enough Molotovs to light a lake of fire you can see from space?”

    “Three grand?” he said, confused.

    “That’s the market price, kid. A hundred each, and you’ve got, what, thirty of ‘em in here. Do the math. Damn, you don’t know your own business, yet?”

    “No, no, no,” Jimmy said, slowly shaking his head. “I’m giving these to you. Market price is up to one-fifty now, by the way,” he said with a shrug. “I’m just saying.”

    I think this is the part where I realized Jimmy was even dumber than I ever imagined… but in a good way. War gets a lot more interesting when weapons dealers start picking sides. When they pick my side, things get downright scary.

    “I don’t need grenades, Jimmy. Keep ‘em.”

    “No, you need help. But since you won’t accept that, grenades will do,” he said and took a seat on the crate. “Look, man, I don’t wanna do this for the rest of my life.”

    “Then don’t,” I said. “Walk away.”

    “Can’t,” he shook his head.

    My trigger finger itched. “You in too deep? Who’s stopping you? Gimme a name and I’ll-” Holy shit, I was standing up for this kid. I almost couldn’t believe the words coming out of my mouth. Just thinking about it makes me wanna vomit.

    But it wasn’t that. “No. I’m doing good. Great, actually,” Jimmy said. “Half the weapons in this city come through me. Half. Can you believe that?”

    “No.”

    He chuckled. Crazy world. “Well, believe it. You’re looking at Bricksburg’s top weapons dealer… but I don’t wanna do this for the rest of my life, man. I never wanted to do it at all. I was just… I don’t know… testing the waters.”

    “And then you found out you’re one hell of a swimmer. Yeah, I know what that feels like.”

    He looked me in the eyes, like no one had before. “You’re my way out, man. You’re everyone’s way out. That’s why I want to make sure you’ve got everything you need to-”

    I shoved a slip of paper into his hands to shut him up. “I don’t need grenades and guns. Gimme everything on that list and you’ll get your way out.”

    He gave the list a quick read. “A diesel dump truck and twenty gallons of fuel for it? Half a ton of magnesium. Thirty pounds of C4? Okay, that part I can do, but I don’t even know what half of this stuff is.”

    “You’re a smart kid. Figure it out.”

    FOUR MONTHS AGO
    I don’t like people watchin’ me while I’m working. Never would’ve let the kid into my workshop, but, what can I say, I’ve got a soft spot for him. Besides, I wanted him to see what I was doing with the crap he brought.

    The truck was an absolute rust bucket, but I’ve seen worse. The engine ran. Smoked like a chimney, but it ran. One of the rear differentials was seized with rust, but a big hammer and ten minutes with a blowtorch fixed that… sort of. It didn’t need to be perfect. It just needed to drive ten miles or so, from here to Syther’s Bricksburg factory. Best of all, the registration was legit. Insured and everything. Jimmy bought it from some guy out west who’d given up on it. He didn’t use his real identity, of course. I taught him well.

    Anyway, I got it fixed enough to take it for a limp around the block. Time to see if the brakes work. “Get in.” He hopped in the passenger seat and we rolled out. No first gear, but once we were up to speed, the thing was a beast. Jimmy, on the other hand, hadn’t said a word, and that wasn’t like him.

    “I’m leaving,” he said, finally breaking the silence. Well, it would’ve been silence if the truck’s rear end didn’t sound like gravel in a blender. “I’m going to Towercrest. There’s a group there-”

    “Neon,” I hissed. Didn’t mean to make it sound so spiteful.

    “Yeah. I wanna join up. I think they’re actually making a difference over there.”

    “Bunch of pussies,” I scoffed. “You don’t stop Syther by saving people. Saving ‘em from what? You save a life today and they go home to what? Corporate surveillance, underpaid jobs, overinflated rent, streets patrolled by murder bots…” I was so angry by knuckles turned white on the steering wheel. “Fuck Neon. They’re swallowing up all the talent in the world and for what? To play patty-cake with the corps?”

    “You should go, too,” Jimmy said. It’s like everything went in one ear and out the other with this kid. “You’re wasted on Bricksburg. You’ll never bring them down here. Never.”

    “To topple a giant, you go for the knees,” I grunted. “That’s what Bricksburg is. The knees.”

    “No, you cut off the head,” Jimmy said. “I admit, Neon’s soft. They can’t do it alone.”

    “And what use would a bunch of self-righteous white knights have for a weapons dealer?” I said. “What, you gonna sell guns to these Girl Scouts? Gimme a break.”

    “I’ve got connections. I can help them… the same way I helped you,” he said. “Admit it, you aren’t the same man you were months ago. You actually give a damn now, John.”

    “That ain’t my name.”

    “You were a wild animal when I first met you.”

    “Still am. Freedom means having nothing to lose. Syther set me free a long time ago and I never looked back,” I said. “You think about that when Neon tries to preach that they’re free men. If they got friends and comrades, they ain’t free.”

    He looked me in my eyes and said. “So, you’re not free anymore? Is that why you won’t go?”

    I was so pissed a missed a shift and stalled the damn truck in the middle of an intersection. “Get the fuck out,” I said. When he didn’t budge, I shoved a gun in his face. “Get the fuck out, Jimmy. We don’t do business no more. We’re done.”

    “You got it, boss,” he said as he opened the door and slid out. “Ya know, John, I think I finally get you. You value your own freedom more than anybody else’s. Damn… and I actually thought you were a hero.”

    I drove off and left him there, on the side of the road. I wish that could’ve been the last I saw of Jimmy… but I knew how this would end.

    THIRTY MINUTES AGO
    “Son of a bitch,” I muttered as I duct taped a sheet of quarter inch thick steel plate to my shins. I tore off the tape with my teeth and began strapping another to my other shin. “Goddamned, stupid son of a bitch.”

    I don’t know how he got my number. We hadn’t spoken in… well, we hadn’t spoken since that day. So why call me? Why send a hail Mary to Saint John the Asshole instead of his new Neon pals? He saw the black vans and the drones. He saw a storm coming. Syther was onto him and he called me, of all people. Dammit, Jimmy, you no good son of a bitch.

    Next thing I know, I’m barreling up Interstate 90, headed for Towercrest in a war machine I built to decimate Syther’s Bricksburg office. There’s a tarp flapping over the bed of the dump truck and I’m praying it doesn’t blow off. If the Syther drones see what I’ve got, they’ll light me up like a Christmas tree before I get within a mile of the kid. Worst of all, it’s not done yet. So, here I am, trying to wire up the last couple of C4 bricks and drive a stick at the same time. The fun never ends, eh.

    Jimmy embedded a tracking algorithm in the final message he sent me. I ain’t a caveman. I know how to use tech, I just don’t like it. They’re on the move, but I’m gaining ground. Feels like the longest drive of my life. I’ll never get there in time. He’s dead. I know it. I’m no savior, I’m an avenger. Still, I can’t slow down. I take the exit ramp to Towercrest so fast, I almost flipped the bitch.

    I spotted the drones first, little black discs hovering like flies over a trio of black armored cars. These guys are so formulaic. One van of cybernetic troops in front, one in the rear, and Jimmy in the armored car in the middle. Standard layout. They’ve been transporting perps that way since dinosaurs walked the Earth. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    Well, time to break something.

    I was a block away and gaining fast when the drones opened up on me. Lasers. Cute, I shave with a laser. I downshift and plow through a sports car crossing an intersection. I can see the air bag sucker punch the poor fella inside. Sorry, pal, I’ve got someplace to be. It barely breaks my stride.

    This is gonna hurt. Five miles ago, I duct taped my head to the headrest and my left hand to the steering wheel. These old trucks ain’t as safe as the new stuff, and whiplash and a broken wrist would end this fight before it begins. The convoy tries to turn off, but it’s too late. I rear end the last armored van hard, setting off the C4 tucked inside my front bumper. There’s a bang, a flash, and half the van is gone. I see arms and legs and bits of shrapnel, but I don’t let off the accelerator.The dump truck is unstoppable; It plowed through what’s left of the armored van, rear ended the middle car, and rammed it into the lead van. Hope you’re wearing your seatbelt, Jimmy.

    It’s over in under a second. Just another traffic accident. Nothing to see here, folks. My ears are ringing from the C4 and I’ve got a face full of airbag, but somehow I have enough sense to flip the red switch under the dash. The dump truck’s bed lights up and a dozen rockets come sailing out, heading straight up into the air. They burst ten stories up in a cloud of smoke.

    Gotta move fast. The clock’s ticking. With my pocket knife, I cut away the air bag and the duct tape and spill out of the truck just as the smokescreen descends. It’s raining drones. One crashed ten feet from my head and another hits the wall of a nearby building and skitters down. I fall to my knees and see blood dripping from… somewhere. Broken nose, maybe. Surprise, it’s hard to walk away from a three-car pileup.

    I draw my gun and drag myself to what’s left of the middle car. Gotta go, before the smokescreen and chaff clear. It’s blocking the STE soldiers from linking up with Syther’s network. It’s like they’re drunk, half their senses gone. I see one of them come stumbling out of the mangled armored van in a daze. He points a rifle in my general direction, but shoots like a Stormtrooper. I would put a bullet between his eyes, but this handgun wouldn’t dent that armor. Instead, I make a beeline for the car and snatch the door open.

    There he is. Jimmy’s inside, bloodied and wheezing, but alive. The driver’s dead. I put a bullet in the passenger and grab Jimmy. “C’mon kid, we gotta go,” I said, hauling him out of the wreck as more drunken STE cyborgs open fire. I didn’t see it, but that must’ve been when it happened.

    I dialed a number on my phone and tossed it away. A port on the truck’s fuel tank opened up, dumping diesel fuel everywhere. Ten seconds later, the rest of the charges detonated. Cars don’t explode like they do in the movies. They just burn and burn and burn. I doubt it killed the cyborgs, but they stopped shooting. There was a wall of fire between us and them. I ducked into a manhole and disappeared.

    That’s when I saw it. Jimmy’s face. The hole where a face used to be. Even bad guys get lucky. They couldn’t shoot for shit, but they nailed him. No, if they were lucky, they would’ve got me instead. A laid him down, in a dirty sewer, and tried not to howl at the darkness, like a fucking wolf in the night.

    And that’s when the disc fell from his hand and lit up like a rainbow and the hologram woman spoke. You’ve got some nerve, Neon. You’ve got some fucking nerve.

    THIRTY SECONDS AGO
    “You look like you could use a vacation.”

    “You’ve no idea, asshole.” I shoved the barrel of my handgun through the narrow peephole. “Tropical. Now open this fucking door before I paint the walls with your brain.”

    “Bulletproof glass,” the man said calmly. “Go away. You’re not wanted here.”

    “Open this fucking door or I’ll open it myself,” I said. Funny thing about peepholes; he can’t see my hands. I tore off a strip of duct tape, loud enough for him to hear. “Four ounces of C4 ought to do,” I said. “Nah, I’ll make it eight, maybe ten.” I slapped a wad of tape on the door.

    “Bullshit. You expect me to think-”

    “I suggest you step back, asshole,” I said as I walked away from the 'explosives' I'd taped to the door.

    Moron. The moment I was a few feet away, he opened the door to dispose of the imaginary bomb. I sucker punched him good, before he could realize he’d been had. Don’t know if I knocked him out --he was a big fella-- but I knocked him down, and that’s all I needed. I barreled past him and deeper into Neon’s lair.

    “Don’t get your hopes up,” I shouted at the man who’d been speaking a moment ago, before I crashed the party. “They can’t protect shit. Not your wife, your kid, your dog. Not even your favorite teddy bear.” I was waving the gun around like a madman while I ranted. Now I reached into my coat and threw Jimmy’s black disc at the scarred woman. It sailed past her head and shattered a bottle of booze behind the bar. “You the one in charge around here? Look around, you’re a man down. I wonder how many more didn’t make it to this little party. You people are so fucking useless.”
     
    obi-sem kenobi likes this.
  20. Rethagos
    Offline

    Rethagos Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Somewhere before the screen (or not)
    I didn’t listen to the whole story. Too much attention I devoted towards one information that Hellcat offhandedly mentioned. For a moment, I was deaf to everything that happened around me.

    Did she say… fifteen years ago? That’s when I still was collaborating with the Gragari! Where did they send me back then??

    I put my efforts towards recalling that actual year. As I was collecting the bits and pieces of memory together, I started to sweat. It felt as if my heart was rising up to my chest level.

    Me and my boys… we were there. Were we? That makes no sense! How could I then…

    No. There’s no other possibility. Me and my boys accompanied the Corps. We were paid nicely, and that was a fine cause. We were “disposing of the terrorists”, and with a task of such importance, nobody even thought of backing out.

    I fought the organization, which I now intend to join. Ridiculous, isn’t it?

    It’s a miracle that they didn’t recognize me. But someone has to. It’s just a matter of time. What will I do then?

    God, give me strength.

    One of the other recruits moved. A young lad, the one with a fancy armor, went to a bar. He grabbed the glass and stepped in front of Hellcat.

    “I still won’t commit myself to the back of a chair”, he spoke, “but I’ll commit myself to you. You marched into Hell and came out kicking, you fight for what’s right, but, most importantly, Ben trusted you. So I will too.”

    Then he gulped the alcohol. His armor started glowing, and a helmet popped out of it. In this, as I assume, full combat mode, he repeated his vows to the Neon:

    “I’ll follow you like I followed him.”

    I sighed and went up to the bar, leaning on my cane. Then grabbed my own glass, lifted it a tad bit up, looked at the bottom of it. I was hesitating.

    What will happen if someone from Neon recognizes me from Clouds of Fervor? What if I will be forced to fight my old comrades? In no universe would I dare to break the bonds forged on the battlefield.

    Then I heard a voice from behind my back. It must have been another recruit. The blonde guy with a scar.

    "I heard your story and I understand where you come from. Nothing would make me happier than to help the common folk and undermine the corporate hierarchy, but I have a wife to think of. Can you guarantee her safety?"

    “Don’t get your hopes up,” somebody shouted.

    I turned towards the entrance and quickly realized that the current situation was less than desirable.

    There was a person who shouldn’t be there. He put some effort to get here. And his behavior... was unnerving.

    I was patient. Up to a point. And the point came in literally a second.

    I bent the cane in half, clicked at the top of it, and even before it fully assembled into a shotgun, I pointed at him. Two shells were already in the receiver, ready to fire. Just for occasions like this one.

    “Put the gun down, buy,” I said, looking him in the eye. “Or God will claim your life.”

    My index finger started to twitch at the trigger. As if the God was sending me a sign to shoot him.

    Doesn’t matter he knows the password. He got here by force. He tries to intimidate the servant of God. And for this… he has one chance to redeem himself.

    "Put the gun down and speak,"
    I repeated, trying to take note of any suspicious movement. "What the hell is your problem?"
     
  21. halisme
    Offline

    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2015
    Messages:
    1,084
    Likes Received:
    685
    By god she hated the newcomer. Rubbing her left temple with the same hand was a mechanism she'd developed to stop herself from reaching for her gun, and one she was using now. Criticising Neon, she could understand, she was probably the largest critic of it who wasn't out to kill everyone in the group. Their sense of morality and unwillingness to play the cooperate game ultimately rendered them incapable of changing the system. They merely acted on the symptoms, not the cause.

    It wasn't the arrogance, she was annoyed at either. There was nothing wrong with egotism in small doses, so long as it was tempered via knowledge of what was actually going on. The man was clearly an idiot, and a violent one at that and she drew her phone, taking a quick picture and sending it to Marvin.

    Find out who he is.

    Is this urgent?

    No, it's personal.

    There was a long moment before a reply came.

    I'll get on it right away.

    No, it was the lack of manners. Swearing only had an impact if it served a purpose, to reinforce a certain sentiment that the mere tone of voice couldn't quite exemplify. The way he treated them was the same as a five year old. One who knows the word has a negative impact and seeks to use it to appear different from the crowd. A truly stupid way of making oneself seem unique without requiring either effort, intelligence or even a personality trait.

    With that she turned to story teller. "Cat, I've already heard the story before. Do you have a job for me, or can I go home?"
     
  22. AnonyMouse
    Offline

    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,225
    Likes Received:
    337
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Gun? Oh, right. I had nearly forgotten the thing was in my hand. I grinned at the old geezer as I tucked it back into my coat. No, I wasn't gonna put it down. Putting it away is the best he was gonna get outta me. But I kept my hands where he could see 'em; I'd rather not try my luck any further.

    Hah, luck. As if I had any of that.

    "Your 'God?'" I scoffed. "If you're gonna shoot me, old man, at least have the decency to do it yourself instead of hiding behind some twisted religion. And I already spoke." I glared at the chick in charge. "I'm waiting for an ans- omph"

    Someone hit me from behind and I went down hard. I've tasted the floor of a lot of bars in my lifetime, but none quite like this one. Real wood? Delicious. And not the slightest hint of piss. Anyway, this is about when I realized it was the doorman who'd blindsided me. Had to be him. He knelt on my spine and pinned my hands. Felt like a freight train was using me as a bench.

    I had to give him credit, though. If someone had sucker punched me as hard as I did him, I'd have fed his teeth to him. But all he did was hold me there; I couldn't get a fight outta this guy if I tried. I kicked my feet, trying to wriggle out, which earned me a solid smack to the back of my head. "You're a real stand up guy," I grunted sarcastically, as my broken nose opened up and blood streamed down my face. I laughed and laughed and laughed. "You gonna kill me or what, huh? 'Course not. You ain't got it in you. None of you do."
     
  23. TheWanderingBeast
    Offline

    TheWanderingBeast New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2016
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    2
    Shit had hit the proverbial fan. One moment, Paul was joining a terrorist cell, the next a dude crashes the meeting waving a gun around, shouting and throwing stuff. Then the old guy who'd wandered on over to the bar drew his own piece. He felt like he'd taken a staff to a gun fight. The situation would've been comical if he'd liked bullets. He didn't.

    What did Paul expect, honestly? Mess with the terrorists and you get the gun waving maniac. What he didn't get though was why his motion detector hadn't gone off when the assailant barged in. Carefully he checked his phone. Dead... Because of course it was...

    He sat back down and tried to look as invisible as he could. If push came to shove he'd already reached into hic pack to retrieve a couple flash charges. Not ideal, since Paul'd also be affected even if he knew it was coming, but better than rushing someone with a gun.

    Everyone who didn't have a gun out seemed to be either too shocked to say anything, or they just didn't care. The dark skinned woman was even taking pictures of the dude for some reason...

    Thankfully, as the new arrival put his gun away, all the while arguing with the older man, the bouncer showed up and delivered a colossal blow to the back of his head, pinned him down afterwards. Guess the flash charges won't be necessary then...

    As the guy struggled and screamed, Paul stood back up and walked over to the bar.

    "I think you can put that down now." He said looking at the older guy's shotgun.

    Then he turned to Hellcat.

    "So, care to explain?"
     
  24. Rethagos
    Offline

    Rethagos Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Somewhere before the screen (or not)
    The maniac had it coming. Now he was on the floor, pinned down by the doorman. Yet he still was laughing and talking some nonsense.

    The scarred recruit told me to put the shotgun down. As the maniac stuff was dealt with already, I obliged. I flipped the recoil pad and let the weapon morph back into the cane.

    I really should not flaunt my weapon like that. The disguise makes it so effective. If I start aiming it at anything I’ll deem suspicious, then I could as well get myself a normal shotgun. Faster to use.

    “Whatever.” I leaned on the counter, the glass of tequila standing right behind me, and turned towards the maniac. “I don’t want you to die, boy, even though you want it. In fact, you could put your recklessness to a better use.”

    Enough chit-chat with the lost sheep. I could throw him an adjective or two, but what’s the point? More important is the deal he stormed into the bar with. At least two people in this room are concerned about the explanations.

    I turned my attention towards the head recruiter and waited.
     
  25. Fan7asticMrFox
    Offline

    Fan7asticMrFox Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    910
    Likes Received:
    201
    Location:
    Hampshire, UK
    Hellcat stood there totally flabbergasted. This quiet unassuming meeting had strayed far right of incognito and barrel rolled itself head first into a stand off. A loud one. It pained her greatly to see Neon turned into something it was not: reckless, noisy, erratic. How would she get these individuals to commit if they couldn't even show the slightest bit of composure and finesse?

    Luckily Samson cleared his throat and stood, the giant towering mass of a man shadowing the lights in the bar. "This is just an unexpected interruption, and usually our main man Pav can bounce the door properly." He gave a slight glare to the bouncer sat on the intruder, who responded with a sheepish huff. "Now everyone just needs to chill the fuck out, okay? We're in a bar, so maybe just have a drink and try not spray the walls with bullets, or shout bloody murder so the Corps show up."

    Samson glanced at Pav once more and the bouncer slowly stepped up from John, still eyeing him with caution. Pav went to remove John's gun but Samson insisted, "Leave him be Pav, he may be a wild card but we are still fighting the same war, ain't that right John?" Samson stared straight at the man on the ground with a cool intensity. He knew John's file well, they had initially observed him through hacked CCTV and some word of mouth from the Bricksburg team. They'd tracked John, but found Jimmy. And they'd wanted Jimmy.

    Hellcat finally spoke. "I'm sorry about Jimmy." She lent down on the bar and gazed through the mirror behind the shelving, past the stored bottles and looked right at herself, unable to break her own gaze. "And he's right Paul - we can't guarantee to keep your loved ones protected. This shit is dangerous." She paused, still staring hard into her own ice blue eyes, her mind wandering to the thought of her loved ones. Finally Hellcat turned to face Paul and breathed slow.

    "We don't usually try to recruit those with such ties, but things have changed. The fight with the Corps is evolving and we need every available resource we can get. I can't promise safety, but we do pride ourselves on our anonymity and hidden identity. We are subtle. And as Neon agents we spend the utmost effort on being invisible, untraceable, ghosts. Together we can make sure no one knows who you are, and who's connected to you."
     

Share This Page