#InTransitMonsters is a #firstdraft #novel about Technology as Messiah. Humanity is about to fall, and is forced to create monsters to save itself. Can these giant monsters succeed, or will humanity's old ambitions damn the species to extinction?
Previous | Start | Next | Index
Foxtrot (H +1 Day)
Mars is nothing like Nubia. The sand, the rocks, they all feel older somehow. I felt so much lighter. So much faster.
@Foxtrot: I finally get to run.
@Uniform: Yeah. She let you loose. You look so much happier than you've been.
We both were scouting around the city Charlie had assigned us. The last Dream-Meeting she'd spoken to each of us about our assignments. One at a time, with no one else to experience the same dream she'd given us orders through. Again, I felt frustrated by her. Everytime I try to explain my feelings to her, all she would do was turn on me. Why did I keep trying?
Uniform and I crested a ridge that overlooked the remnants of Fontana. We couldn't reach the signal that connected to the Net. The Enemy jammed our signals outside of the microtransits Charlie received. Each microtransit connected back to Earth. But scouts like Uniform and I couldn't rely on them for data.
What we both knew about Fontana came from the data Charlie's Dreams had given us. The city looked like these hideous scars in the red skin of Mars. Both of our BrainSys started to click as they picked up the Radiation readings.
@Foxtrot: Some radiation here. But... IDK. What's your take on it? Your the one with Gnosis.
@Uniform: It isn't lethal levels, but I can generate some RAD protection.
@Foxtrot: Kewl. @Uniform, why doesn't she get it? What do I have to do?
@Uniform: IDK on that Foxy.
Uniform put both of her hands on my helmet. I felt something flow into my body. Blue-glowing nanobots outlined my skin. I looked at my hands outside the suit. It always felt weird when she did that.
@Foxtrot: It wouldn't be so hard if they hadn't put her in charge too.
@Uniform: She was Nasr's favorite. Anyway, I thought you'd given up after that scrap in Nubia. She screamed at you.
@Foxtrot: Charlie didn't understand, U. I mean... I just thought I could show her something beautiful. How was I supposed to know that those buildings were going to do that?
We continued to walk down into Fontana proper. Zeus Protocol had shattered the enclosed structures of the city. The domes looked more like broken eggs than human habitation. Sand and dust had found their way all over internal streets. Each looked tiny. Given our larger size, that made sense.
Mars lacked the right pressure for normal humans to survive in. So they had made their cities inside larger buildings. They'd exploited AI and transit tech to bring entire parts of cities over.
@Uniform: Everything looks so small. Nothing like the vids.
@Foxtrot: Like a village of tiny people living in walls, you know?
Then my BrainSys gave me an alert. I tilted my head in a particular direction. I checked it against a map. The Fontana City Mall. Less than a klick away.
@Uniform: You pick that up too?
@Foxtrot: Yeah. We should report it in. @Charlie, do you read?
Even though there were jammers all over Mars, Charlie's oneiros had a remarkable range. The EM blocks didn't seem able to stop her ability to connect to the dreams of others, even klicks away. She'd been staying with the rest, acting as a mobile comm array for the rest of us.
@Charlie: I read you Foxtrot.
@Foxtrot: @Charlie, we're picking up a BrainSys signal here. What do you make of it?
@Charlie: I... There is something. One signal that doesn't make any... Okay. Stay there. We'll gather up at your location.
@Foxtrot: I could go and look. It might be someone who needs our help.
@Charlie: I think it might be an AI or something, Foxtrot. Wait for help. That's an... order.
I gritted my teeth. I turned to Uniform. Instead of texting, I spoke aloud to her.
"I'm going to look inside that place." I started to walk in the direction of the Mall.
"Foxy, can't you just wait for Charlie?"
"She's on her way." I spun back around to face her. "You wait for her. I'll just look and pop back."
"You know, for claiming to like her, you really don't like to listen to her." Uniform grumbled.
I gave my friend a thumbsup. Then I ran toward the mall. Then I popped.
Charlie can use Oneiros to connect with everyone's minds. Whiskey can make anything she wants. Uniform can fix us or shield us from radiation. But me? My big tech did one thing. That bit of awesome always felt great to use.
I disappeared as my body transited on its own. I popped only a few hundred feet away. I could only go where I could see. But I kept popping. It would be faster than just running on my own. I ran, each step yards away from my previous step.
Then I came to the mall. I stopped. At my eye level I could see a window that opened into the inside of the building. It had big open spaces, big enough I could fit into. I scanned around, trying to see a good place to pop into.
My eyes froze when I saw the tiny figure run away from the glass. A girl with dirty hair and a dog. I blinked at that. Fontana had been nuked, I didn't expect to see anyone alive. I popped into the building, right behind them.
"Hey!" I called at the tinier human. "Don't be afraid! I'm here to help!"
The girl kept running. Great. She couldn't outrun me. I'm fast.
"Leave me alone!" The girl turned a corner. One of hands clung tight to the dog's neck. It seemed to help guide her.
"C'mon. I know what I look like-"
"I'm not listening to another one of you die." She reached out to a nearby wall. Her hands tried to grab at a door.
"Are you okay?" I moved up to the girl, easy and fast. I had to crouch to fit under the ceiling of the space, though. "Look, I could help you. We were sent over to fight-"
"I don't care." The girl fumbled the door open. "I don't want to know. I don't want to hear the tentacles grab you in the night-"
I pulled the door closed. The tinier girl tried to resist against my strength. It didn't budge.
"The Enemy is all over this place. We didn't know people were still here."
"Zeus Protocol is sloppy." The girl responded. "And you can find tentacles all over this town. My BrainSys is busted, so they don't come after me, ok?"
"We could fix that for you, and get you a transit off this rock." I explained.
"No thanks." The girl grumbled. She didn't look at me, instead gesturing as if to someone behind her. "Just leave me alone. I don't care who you are. Even if you have a transit, I don't want to go back, ok?"
"Are you..." I tilted her head. "Oh. You are. I'd thought you'd have... noticed."
"Yes, I'm blind." The girl sighed. "You sound like a drafted kid too. Just leave. Go home. They don't have the people to keep you from deserting, ok? Maybe if your lucky, you can find a hole like mine and the tentacles would go after you. Maybe you can turn off your BrainSys or whatever it is that makes them come out at night."
"I'm not a normal soldier. My name is Foxtrot. Maybe I could help you out? We aren't what you think."
The girl sighed. "Foxtrot, leave me alone. I don't care who you are just that-"
The girl moved her head around.
"What is it?"
"Whatever you did, they're coming." The girl said. "I can hear one of the tentacles."
I looked around. "I don't hear anything."
Something small and bulbous slammed into my chest. It hurled me away from the door and the blind girl. The tentacled thing must've been a meter long.
"-leave." The girl finished.
"Ick." I exclaimed. My chest throbbed as the meter long thing tried to wrap itself around me. Metal-bonded bones didn't creak against it. Instead, I popped away from it.
The meter long thing flopped onto the floor. It looked like a centipede, except it had tentacles and no legs. A single maw licked the air around it in a repeated fashion. My mind searched files for whatever these were called. Some sort of drone, I just couldn't recall what kind.
"You two okay to travel?" I asked the girl.
"What do you mean?"
"You and the dog, you look geared for the pressure outside."
She shrugged. "You can't outrun that thing."
"It's confused at the moment." I popped again. The drone flew toward where I had been standing. "C'mon."
"What are you doing?" The girl screamed, as I grabbed her and the dog. I picked them up in my arms. I concentrated hard, opening my personal transit bubble a bit. We popped away from the lone drone, back to the window where I'd first found the girl.
"Getting us away." I told her. She shook in fear, struggling in my arms. "Hold still."
"What are you?" The blind girl exclaimed.
"Saving your life, atm." I told her.
I looked out the window.
"You can't outrun them." She said. "There's more coming."
I winced. Outside the window, I could see she was right. Thirty or so more centipede-shaped, tentacled drones emerged from under the dirt.
It looked like we had more to deal with. I hate it when Uniform is right.
And another POV character I hadn't planned of initially. Lhyst's attempt to hide fails. And we get to meet our first, actually pieces of the Enemy.
The centipedal drones are meant to be a form of geological scout, borrowing about. IDK anything more than that. I find it easier to worldbuild threats as I run into them. Immediate threats anyway.
I think it's a habit I picked up from running tabletop games. I tend to like to feel that sort of thing out, although sometimes I get ideas I hold onto until I get the chance to.
Foxtrot and her relationship with Charlie has had its bumps. As always, all working as intended I think.
If you enjoyed this, any feedback is appreciated. Maybe I need to expand out to more and more alternate POVs. Who knows. The plot is still staying to its outline, albeit slowly. I can make it I think. (Fingers crossed).