Project: AKRA pt 12

***

The short cycles of the planet had given way to day as they trudged forward with no resistance, back to walking on the razor grass sawing slowly in the sunlight.  They marched forward with four of them still fully ‘armed’ in the limb sense of the word but at this point met no enemies.

Everyone knew what was coming before they actually rolled onto the bare ground, based on the loud roaring starting to filter through the trees.  Though Leio and Ziko were both reduced in combat efficiency, their squad was still in fairly good fighting capacity.  They made it through the surprise of the night, and still had four people capable of shooting larger weapons.  However, this new challenge they were coming up to was going to prove trying.

“There is no way we are making it across that,” Ziko said.  He knelt down to let Leio off of his shoulders as she sat down on the ground so he could better look over the edge of the cliff.  They stood next to some rocks and a tree, using the light cover as they looked over the shear corner of the massive cliff to the rumbling water hardly visible through the mist below.  On both sides of them the deep gorge was cut through the rock with no easy way down, and the height did not get any less extreme anywhere close that they could hike to make the descent easier.

“The two of them could not hope to swim across that water,” Agrest said, keeping his head turned upwards most of the time for any drones that might come flying over the tree tops.

“I have faith they could, but the risk is too great.”  Raist looked up and down the escarpment they were located on.  “It’d be better if the two of you stayed here to cover our escape.”

From where they were, the tip of the peak was barely visible against the tall trees of the other side of the river.  Their goal was close, but in every way seemed farther with every step they took.

“From here you guys should be able to build a pretty good choke point in the rocks over there.  The three of us are going to do a sprint to the target, and come back.  There is a good chance we will need as much cover fire and a clear path as possible on our way back.”

Agrest pointed to the rocks.  “It’s a good plan, since I’d hate trying to descend and climb back up with things shooting at us.  If you two have this locked down, it should help our escape.”

Raist finished, “Ziko, I am going to need you well-rested because as soon as we get here, we are running back to the extraction zone. I do not want to be in the forest again for another night.  The three of us should be able to handle AKRA, and I know you are strong, but we cannot be slowed even if you are carrying Leio.”

The problem was they had to make it back out of anti-air range to call their shuttle down.  Even if it was capable of firing, with how defended their target was, calling it anywhere close was risking being trapped here.

The group worked for a bit, positioning rocks and checking sight patterns so that the two staying behind would have clear cover fire on the three advancing members, both on the descent, the swim, and the climb before they disappeared into the other side.  Natural rock walls covered their backs, and a few shots through the rocks gave them some gun holes to fight anything that did come from the forest.  The three advancing soldiers dropped all but one weapon here so they could move faster now that the mission had become one of a sprint.

“Goodbye, Raist,” Leio told him as they embraced.  Raist was having to hold her up.  “I hope I see you again.  I really do.”  Her foot was realigned, but the large section of meat missing from her calf was something he tried to not look at.

“I’ll be back soon.”  He gave her butt a light squeeze as he turned away from her.  They spiked their rappel systems into the rock and Agrest and Philira already jumped over the edge.  Raist was preparing to do the same when a strange thought came to him.

‘Look at her one more time; it might be your last.’  He turned to face her, and she did a small wave, smiling at him, the normalcy making him think he was over-thinking again.  He turned back towards the cliff and crouched and launched off.

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Proud Infinity pt 24

I am working on my first paperback, and it will probably be out in the next 2 weeks or so.  Here is the cover art

vl-chron-final

Of which Proud Infinity is a part of!

 

Anyway on with the story as Trego is navigating his way through the time loops:

 

I walked over to the space port, spending more time with the android, Mitreah.

I waved when I walked in and she gave a friendly wave back, but did not know me from anyone else at this point.

“Hi, Mitreah.”

“Oh hello!  I don’t remember your name.  Have we met?”

‘A few times…’ I thought to myself.

“Mitreah: Farewell Fallen Sword,” I stated cryptically.  Her face went blank like it always does, before her bright eyes returned.

“Override confirmed.  What are you orders?”

I waved my hand.  “Nothing major, I simple want to talk to you a bit.”

“An odd request, but certainly.”

I spent a long time talking to her.  Unlike the old man, she was much more fun, but I learned less.  There was not as much applicable to me due to her combat android form and background.  She could teach me so much about fighting, but not as much about the world.

Before the end of this loop I wanted to fight her more to train my combat ability.  That was perhaps the biggest boon from her, other than eventually using her to break into ReCorp.

To her, my words were novel, “Mitreah, I want you to train me to fight.  I want to use my pistol, and anything you can teach me.  Execute training protocol number 2.”

She smiled at me.  “This is so much more fun.”

She left to go get some training supplies she had in her personal locker.  I had never figured out why an ex-combat android ended up here, I could never get it out of her.  The best I could figure is that she was injured slightly, or had served long enough she got to retire.

Mitreah came back with a training pistol that would fire visible lasers that did not actually do anything but would respond if I hit her and she could react appropriately.  Combat androids could fight with guns, and melee weapons, but there most signature weapon was their arm would form into a very sharp blade, essentially like a nano blade.  Something like this would kill my obviously, so it was more like a blunt bat I was struck with.

She tossed the training pistol to me like always.  I caught it and started firing at her dashing form.

Probably an old Aelisha combat android based on Solarian form, evidenced by her dashing style was leaning super far forward: the same way Aelishas ran.  She slashed at me with her blade arm, I blocked with the pistol and dodged, firing at her.  I knew her moves well enough at this point I could end it easily.  My main goal at this point was to build up my own reflexes, not to use known paths.

I dove awkwardly a few times just to get off any previous path I would ‘remember’.  I felt blind once again which I liked.  Mitreah could easily take me out given her superior programming and speed but limited it during the training.

I fired a few times at her, impressed by how my own skills were coming along; she had to dodge which slowed her assault down.

She got close, swiping at me hard and connecting.  Her blade arm of course was dull for training, but in real combat I would have lost my arm.  Regardless it gave me a strong shock that made it numb.

I dove to the ground, grabbing the pistol out of my numb arm, turning around rapidly and hitting her in the chest.  A spray of the laser beams struck home, and if it was a strong enough weapon she would have been killed.  My aggressive push of not running and doubling down on the attack was enough to win.

“Uh…”  She moaned in pain from the ground a bit before standing.  We helped each other up.

“Dang, that was fun.”  We with standing there, hugging each other for support.  I was breathing hard.

“How are you so good?  I had to go to the very limits to even catch you.”

I stepped back.  “I’ve done this before.”

“Who was your teacher?”

“You.”  I pulled out my real pistol, aimed and reset.

 

***

Proud Infinity pt 21

Never seeing her proved okay for a while, but then the regret grew, and with no counter to my dark thoughts, they surged endlessly.  My thoughts turned back towards something I had fallen into early in the loops: could I kill myself out of this nightmare?  I tried…oh god, I tried.  But no.  I would die, and then the universe would later in the cycle, the time fracture traveling backwards past the point of my own death to the morning as it always did.  Each cycle, wake up, grab the pistol, pull the trigger.  Instantly wake back up in the same room, but dealing with the emotional fallout of ‘surviving’ a suicide.

I felt my body shaking from the fear of itself from the horror I had inflicted on it in the name of escaping.  Or trying to anyway.  I could not get out.

“I’m so so sorry…” I whimpered to myself, hugging myself to try to believe it.  My eyes were watering.  This was so painful, so confusing.

I was shaking hard at the overwhelming memories.  ‘The positive, just focus on it.  Just focus…’ But all I could do was grit my teeth at yet more regret.  How the hatred I felt at myself for taking advantage of Proud that turned to suicide, then to unrequited rage at the girl who was the singular cause of the nightmare I was in.

I was on this endless rollercoaster of extreme emotions throughout the loops.  Even after all the regret towards Proud, it then turned to anger.  Blaming her for somehow involving me in all this.  I didn’t want any of this, I didn’t want this nightmare.

My teeth hurt from how hard I was biting down, trying to not remember the time I tried killing her.  Despite the slow learner I seemed to be with everything else, I only did this once.

I leveled the Liner pistol right at her.  ‘Die bitch’ I had said to her confused face.  I pulled the trigger, unloading half the clip into her, but…but it went right through her.  I fell to my knees.  ‘You really are just a figment of my imagination,’ crying at how crazy I was.

‘Would it make you feel better to actually let you shoot me?  Try it Trego, if you really want, as dark as this path has become.’  To which my teary face pulled the trigger again at her, and was shocked when he body recoiled away, blood, or something similar, exploding out the backside.  ‘Proud?’  I asked to her dead body, the bloody ribbon covering a massive crater in her head.  The shock was so severe I turned the pistol on myself, and the darkness only crept on.

“No!”  I shouted, trying to forget.  Just remember the good, the times I actually was productive, not lost in despair or hatred.  “It was not always bad!  That was when I started changing!”  I yelled to the world, trying to make it real.

Yes, focus on how during my self-killing spree, Proud came to me one trigger pull away and asked if there was anything she could do.  I had not seen her since the crime of killing her, or perhaps crimes, I committed against her, and her innocent appearance before me nearly caused me to follow through yet again with the trigger.  But I stopped long enough for her to tell me it pained her to see me this way, and ask why I was like this.  She was here to help if I would only ask.

I told her reluctantly a big part of it was how bad I felt for taking advantage of her when so much was at stake, both having sex with her, and later shooting her in another iteration.  When she laughed loudly, I lowered the pistol out of confusion.  ‘How did you take advantage of me, if we both wanted it?’ she asked.  She did not even mention the time when I had shot her because to her it was nothing.  She said she was entirely joyful for the experience, and did not regret anything and wondered why I did.  She said that the physical plane was overwhelming in its feelings, and to have experienced something like that with me, well, she’d remember forever.  She said she loved me and hoped I would have asked earlier, or again.  She lowered my pistol and we held hands, me crying for hours in her simple embrace until the end came again.

Proud Infinity pt 20

The killing sprees honed my abilities.  I learned to fight with my fists, knives, my Liner pistol.  Each cycle was a new challenge.  How many could I kill with just my hands, or could I beat my score using my gun?  It became this dark abyss where others only existed to see how many I could blow through.  It didn’t matter when I was maimed, shot or imprisoned, I was reset every morning.

With women it was another challenge and at this point I no longer cared about ‘knowing them’ as it was pointless.  It was easy at gunpoint but didn’t stimulate me the same way of manipulating their minds with perfect words and actions.  My respect for them tanked down to zero.  I could get any girl to be with me, it didn’t matter how loyal or pure she was.  Enough predictive power or perfect words and they all melted.  Eventually that game grew boring as well.

By the way, Proud?  It was easy.  I only had to ask.  She was more than happy for the overwhelming feelings of the physical realm, and indeed it was quite amazing from my end; but that was the largest regret I had.  Amidst my absolute depravity she represented perhaps the one untainted thing in this fractured world I inhabited, and I proceeded to destroy that as well.

My curiosities turned to sorrow and anguish.  The hedonism left me cold and empty, the shallowness overwhelming that I had given in to.  Soon it became a burden, thinking of all the crimes I had committed, even if they were not longer ‘actually done’.  The pointlessness of everything amplified by a thousand experiences I had now come to hate.  Especially what I did with Proud…or maybe it’d be better to say ‘what I did to Proud’.

We had come to love each other through the circumstance we were now in, a deep friendship from the stories we shared.  Our friendship was not one of two different races of a physical being and a near-energy being creating a physical body, but of two consciousnesses that liked each other from so much time together.

Then I had sex with her simply to satisfy a burning question of if she would.  And she did, and she loved it.  As soon as it was over, I started crying.  I was so stupid, so shallow.  Defiling the last totem of sanity in this world left me broken and under no more delusions of how messed up I had become.

What the fuck was wrong with me?  The universe was counting on my freewill to prevent this time fracture, and I was doing this to its incarnation?  I was murdering people, manipulating every woman I could into sex, and fucking LineGod Proud instead of doing anything productive.  I felt endlessly evil for taking advantage of her which I did many times ‘just to make sure’.  That sent me on an even darker spiral for many, many time fractures.

I swung my arm around, trying to grab something else.  I grabbed something soft, pulling it towards me; it was my white shirt.  On the floor, holding the white shirt and the desk brought forth more grim memories of the even further pits I fell into.

‘But she was the sensual one, she wanted it!’  I would lie to myself, trying to justify the single action I hated myself the most for.  My personal best for kills was over a thousand using just a pistol, most women was over ten, and that was due to my own physical limitation, but none of those compared to the final break in sanity by using Proud.

Her name was ‘Proud’ and that was nowhere near what I felt about my actions, only all-consuming regret and self-hatred.  The shame was overwhelming, and then it was eventually mixed with hopelessness of my position.  I had forsaken seeing Proud again because I felt so bad for what I did for so many times before I finally snapped.

Proud Infinity pt 18

Thanks for liking and commenting!

 

“Uhh…” I woke up, looking at the beam of light on my colored pillow.  I woke up from something that had just killed me, of that I was fairly sure.  The longer I sat there thinking the clearer and more coalescing my thoughts became.  I had recalled variations of the unfolding day, at first thinking it was just dreams within dreams but they were too vivid, too painful.  On some level something really messed up was happening here.

I felt this aura or field around me, as if it was a physical medium.  It was dark and thick, like the feeling at graveyards but a thousand times stronger.  The more I lay there the more I could slowly start feeling experiences of sorts wash over me.  It was strong ones at first: fear, anger, lust.  But it had an instructive element to it, that I was relearning or recalling old knowledge or skills I had.  Like grabbing a bicycle after not riding it, I ‘remembered’ on a vague level of stuff rushing back to me.

What was this, the third?  The fourth?  My head swam, and I had a grim feeling somewhere in my mind it was much higher than that.

Maybe I had finally remembered simply by raw repetition of being unraveled.  It appeared to be true what that girl named ‘Proud’ had claimed: I was stuck in a time fracture.  Something at ReCorp had created a particle that was so destructive to our reality that either it or the universe somehow reverberated that destruction back into time to before it occurs to ensure it never actually occurs.

And according to Proud, I was the one who had to stop this.  My stomach dropped; the universe was probably screwed.

At this point I was seriously trying to decide how many times had I ‘lived’ this day.  I remembered the couple recent ones.  But it seemed like the further back ‘times’ I remember, the vaguer they were.  It was entirely possibly I had been through this a thousand, or a million times.

I got up and splashed some water on my face, helping remind me ‘this’ was real.  I sat down against the wall, trying to think critically.

Last time I actually seemed to gleam a lot of information.  I recalled the last loop in pretty good detail, but looking back on it, I knew things I should not have.  There were a lot of things I remember personally saying I was not sure I might normally understand.   I was accepting of a lot of Proud’s crazy ideas, and jumping to conclusions that did not necessarily follow.  What this meant to me is that somehow I knew things I normally should not have.  Maybe indeed I was many iterations into this fracture, and that knowledge was slowly accruing within my consciousness packets or whatever she said I had.

So, the question then was, when do I remember?  Right now I was piecing a little together, but not to the extent I was talking to her last time.  Wait….‘last time’ certainly isn’t the right word, but what else to call it?

I saw my white shirt on the desk and remembered her changing it to pink.  Today was definitely a new cycle, but her show definitely had something important to it, I just could not grasp it yet.  What did it mean that she could change a shirt, but I could not?  There was something profound I was missing.

Sitting there holding the white shirt I was thinking of the people I ran into this day, and how any of them could possibly help me.  One thing that was clear is that I seemed to only remember the most recent resets clearly.  There was no telling how many I actually endured, I might be really early, or really far in.  I’d have to keep that thought in mind.

There were a few major characters excluding Proud that stuck out and maybe had some clues for me.  There was the bartender, either of the two guys I fought, that old man at the pit, and the android girl.  They likely had some key to this.

Proud Infinity pt2

Hello readers, here is the 2nd part of the story Proud Infinity that is the new story I am putting together.  Enjoy and comment, I like to see your reactions!  Yesterday we read about Trego seeing a strange girl at a bar and how he was attacked and left.  We pick up right where we left off:

Trego and Proud

 

Pt 2:

 

As soon as I was outside I ran.  The only safety I had from anyone in there was raw distance.  At the very least I was no longer angry, just a little shaken.

I ran a couple of blocks until I was sure I was out of there and no one was behind me.  I doubted anyone actually would come after me after such domination, but I was just being safe.  A bit further ahead was a fence that appeared to be next to a pit.

I walked over and realized it overlooked the ReCorp complex.  Only a few steps in front of me was a steep cliff into a pit that surrounded the entire complex except for the single road in.  The small community’s buildings rose ominously from the void of ground all around it.  A few pillars of smoke or steam rose off the power plant that had been built strictly for this.  Even during the day, I could see the black buildings with their endlessly burning lights from here.  I switched my eye filters to pick up thermal, and the heat signatures radiating off of them disgusted me with the environmental damage they were probably doing.

“Some sight huh?”  I blinked and turned towards the sound, my eyes returning to normal.  It was an old man further down the fence looking at the eyesore, that cancer of the city, that tumor on our fair planet, that blight of aesthetics, a veritable citadel of pain on our hopes and dreams…

I waved the comment off.   “Yeah, if you mean totally disrupting to the entire culture and planet that was already here.”

He started walking towards me, but I didn’t really feel like talking.  He lifted a hand up towards me as if to include me. “Yeah, you are young enough that I am sure you were displaced by what occurred here.”

“ ‘Occurred here’ is right.  Like it was some sort of disaster.  Which is what it was.”  Where was a portable nuke launcher when I needed one?  I fantasized about sighting it up, then watching it all get blown away.

He turned back to overlook the pit and the city beyond.  “I retired here.  I was in the Solarian Space Force my whole life, and Center always intrigued me.  I have an off-planet account, completely filled with gems.  This depression has actually made me relatively more well off.”

I went to walk away once more. “Great for you, join the rest of us.  Unless you are going to give me money I don’t want to hear how much you got.”

“Hey, wait, I guess I got carried away.  Sorry about mentioning money.  It’s just… Look at you.  You clearly are not, or at least were not, in the dregs of society.  Tickets off-planet are not the expensive.  Why didn’t you get out?”

I laughed once. “I thought I was going to be hired.”  I looked back at the place I hated now.  Maybe I still wanted to go back.

He lifted his hands, trying to encompass the whole compound in his arms; it seemed he liked using his hands to communicate.  “Ahhhhh.” His hands came back to his side, and he turned back to me, smiling a bit crazily.  “That’s the mystery, isn’t it?  Being near Center, there are a lot of phenomena that is still being researched and even new discoveries happening fairly regularly.  Since this planet is within Center, naturally it makes sense that it was a beacon of research.  Let me guess, you were a researcher?”

At this point, I was a bit cautious of his craziness, but also intrigued as he seemed to know what was going on.  “Of course.  Just about everyone here was.”

He leaned his face in a bit towards me. “See that’s what strange.  What were you researching, if you don’t mind me asking?  If it’s not classified.”

“It was, but I don’t care anymore.  Everyone betrayed me so what’s the point of a misplaced loyalty?  We were studying the fabric of reality, component particles, its intervention with time and all that.”  I added the ‘all that’ because I am sure he had no idea what I was talking about.  “Notably that reality seemed to be potentially constructed differently near Center, and scales away from there based on distance.”

The man nodded. “That’s what adds to the mystery.  You clearly were in the know, but a large corporation comes in, buys out everything, and doesn’t even take any of the staff?”

I froze for a moment.  How’d he know all the staff got whacked?  I never mentioned it, which made me wary.

“Tell me about it,” I agreed, slightly suspicious.

He turned back to me. “Since you told me something, I’ll tell you something.  I am a bit intrigued by this, and looked into it, used some of my old contacts.  Guess what: ReCorp is not that big of a corporation.”

“Really?” I asked, intrigued quite a bit now by this guy I thought seemed crazy.  I had assumed that due to ReCorp’s massive buying power it had to have been huge, near empire status itself.  I couldn’t look up anything on it which was suspicious itself, so it always remained a mystery.  I suspected the void of information was just a payoff somewhere.

“Ha, got you interested?”  The old man’s eyes looked brighter than I gave him credit for; he still had a spark of life in him.  “Well guess what?  ReCorp does not even exist off planet.

“What!?”  My mouth dropped open.

“Yeah, ‘ReCorp’ is nothing more than a puppet organization propped up by probably nothing less than a full-on empire.”

I shook my head. “I could see that now that you mention it.  Pisses me off.”

“It’s completely true.”

“Oh, I have no doubt of that.  It makes perfect sense.”  The info void and firing the old staff being the largest offenders.

I stood there for a few more moments, thinking about what he said before he told me, “Keep an eye out, reality has an…interesting aspect to it,” and left.  Well that sure was a random but interesting encounter.

Maybe I should buy a ticket off this dump like that guy suggested.  I figured I’d walk around the city like I usually do until something came to me for inspiration to get out of my plight or perhaps what to do for credits.  As I passed people again and again out on the streets, not doing anything, and having nothing to do, my thoughts drifted back to that man’s question as to why I just didn’t get out.  I had more than enough credits originally, but the thought had not crossed my mind.  I had no loyalty to this place; it was an odd decision for me to have made now I thought about it.

I continued thinking as I mindlessly walked forward, nearly stepping on a slumped body on the sidewalk. I stepped around the stagnant figure, not even sparing it a second glance as I kept walking. I honestly had no idea if the person was dead or just sleeping, but I didn’t really care either way. I saw this quite often around here, so I suppose I became immune to it in a way. I ignored the still body as I went back to my contemplating.

Part of the problem about me leaving though was that I was not ‘technical’ minded.  I had gotten my job because of a friend who indeed was good with the details and rote memorization of minute facts.  My skills lay in assimilation of facts and creative solutions or ideas.  I was actually lucky I had fallen into the position I had, but it was a very good relationship for both me and the research unit.

My big ‘breakout’ was when we were faced with some proof of time running differently within the same system.  The data was checked, and experiments reran, but it appeared that on one planet in the system, time indeed did ‘run faster’.

My suggestion was simple in my mind, but everyone else found it really profound.  I suggested we take a look at some of the old theories of time non-linearity and let’s assume it might not actually be linear everywhere.  I suggested that the five dimensions of space perhaps exhibited preferential pathing for the three physical dimensions, along with time, and gravity.  If we looked into the gravitational attraction constant we could see if it might be different, or at the very least gravity could be affecting the time dilation effects.

Ha, yeah.  That was back when I was a hero among the researchers, not some chump with a gun cruising the streets.  The fall from grace was pretty rapid, and in my own mind I still felt like I was ‘different’ from the rest of these fools.

‘I’m not just a chump, I’m a cut above.  At least advanced chump,’ I thought wistfully to myself.

I heard a rumbling of a large truck that drew me out of my reverie.  The grav plates must have been loose, because even though the truck was balanced as it floated down the street it was extremely noisy.  No surprise: it was a ReCorp truck.  I kind of just wanted to shoot the driver and drive the truck off the bridge.  Me inside?  I don’t know.

Anyway, my theory was probably about a solar cycle ago, and indeed we did find some data that seemed to correlate with my thoughts.  I was living on high for a while there, but then ReCorp came in, shut down all the research, bought out everything, and made their own compound isolated from anyone who was employed prior.

Maybe it was part of some big government cover up, like they didn’t like what we found out.  Made sense why all of us would be out.  What we had found was still in the early stages, so if that was true it’d be more to shut down the info rather than use it for themselves.

Oh, and my friend, the one good with the details and was actually pretty instrumental in getting our project to be so successful?  Committed suicide.  I found him in his room, took a tie and hung himself off the doorknob.  It was pretty fucked up, I doubt he died quick.  The claw marks at his neck suggested he thought twice about it after it was too late.  All because he ran out of credits…or maybe hope first, I don’t know.  For me, I still had credits, so I guess I still had hope.

In a lot of ways, what was once a vibrant city was rapidly falling apart.  Though not everyone here was involved in the massive research complex as researchers, it was easily the primary employer from logistics to food service and so on.  There were still a fair amount of people around, but I have noticed a decline in the amount still here.  I didn’t know if they left the planet, were murdered, or pulled their own pin.  In evidence of the later I found quite a few bodies just dumped in the streets.  I didn’t really pay that much attention after a while.  Really, you stop counting after about five.

I sat down for a moment, looking at the empty sky.  It was really calm now, and I mean that in a bad way.  There used to be a vibrant trade through here with ships coming and going through the sky; now only a single ship came once a cycle for supplies for ReCorp.  I can’t think of the last time I saw an alien…probably an Aelisha a few planet cycles after ReCorp came in and shut everything down.  I didn’t even see Aelishan patrols anymore; that was pretty odd itself.

I wonder if I could leave here now.  Could I have even left back then?

 

Sample of my next story ‘Proud Infinity’ Stuck in a time loop with only a god to keep him company

Trego and Proud

I am going to be having parts from my next book ‘Proud Infinity’ for the next couple of days.  This story is about a guy who ends up stuck in a time fracture and the only other person who realizes it is a demi-goddess sent to help him end it.

 

This will be sequential and this is the beginning, enjoy!

Story:

 

One of the more interesting theories that have come to gain more credibility is the theory that certain events can be so damaging to the framework of reality that time fractures backwards to prevent this event from occurring.

…‘Time’ as used in the dimensional sense had grown to be an increasingly complex subject as there is mounting evidence of both a preferential flow to it, and in some cases what could only loosely be termed as a ‘reroute’.

– Terran Intradex Ver. 4 Excerpts on ‘Time Theories’

 

See also: ‘Preferential pathing of time’; ‘Time Fractures’

 

I hardly even noticed her the first time I saw her…the woman who would ruin, but also save, my life.  Looking back it seemed obvious, now that I was tuned to how things actually worked.  At the time, she was just another girl that I crossed paths with during my growing desperation.  I sometimes wonder if I knew then what would occur, and how painful it would be, if I would have made the same choice.

 

***

I didn’t usually go to a bar the first thing in the morning, but times had started to become desperate; besides, I felt drawn to it.  I had no doubt I was among the smartest people on this planet who was unemployed since ReCorp came in.  That fact pissed me off.  This had been my situation for a while, but while the credits still lasted I wasn’t that worried or upset.

The cycles marched on as they do, and my reserve funds dwindled as I tried to get hired with the corporation that displaced my old job.  Surely since I was so brilliant, they would have to hire me, right?

But they did not.  They did not hire a single person from the prior team.

I was normally fairly calculating, but today I was spoiling for a fight, an outlet for my anger building.  I really wanted someone, anyone, to question me, why someone of my caliber was not employed or doing something ‘meaningful’.  ‘As if just existing does not have inherent meaning!’ I would answer to them before smashing their face.  I was generally immune to nihilism and the lack of a job might not make me sad, but it certainly made me mad.

I caught my reflection in the dimaglass door of the bar, seeing my confident smirk framed by my shorter hair with the slight ‘fray’ in the middle I could never get to go away.  Yeah, that was someone ready to beat down some evil, and should have a job while he’s at it.

I had not been to this one before, but I guess they were pretty much the same anywhere.  The smoke slowly billowed out from the door I was holding open, wafting out from the dimly lit interior.  Why they never had better lighting, I didn’t know.  Maybe they might catch their pathetic reflection in their drinks; can’t have that!  Nope, not at all.

I stepped inside and quickly surveyed the surroundings.  It appeared to be a long shallow hall.  I was on one side and to my right the bar and tables went further down.  A few of the people lifted their heads, staring at me with a ‘what do you think you are doing here?’ look.  I laughed to myself and continued scanning the bar.  Alright, which one of you suckas wants to go?

I walked up to the empty set of chairs right by the door and waved the barkeep over.

“What will you be having?”

“Well, I’m here to find out if there are any jobs or contracts anyone has posted.”

He laughed dismissively, I looked back at him in surprise.  “I don’t even know you.  You think I’d tell you anything with these many deserving people here?”

There were a few grunts of ‘yeah’ or ‘who do you think you are’; I could feel the hostile aura grow a bit in this room.  I took note of it, but I was here for answers or action.

“Isn’t it your job to simply state the facts—” I began saying before he cut me off.

“Don’t you get it?  Ever since ReCorp came in, there haven’t been any jobs!”

Some people laughed, and a typical chorus of ‘yeahs!’ echoed at me.

I knew ReCorp had whacked all the jobs, but it didn’t mean there might not be new ones.  Didn’t these fucks have any optimism in their life?  My anger at him dissipated as the truth of his statement settled in.  I frowned and I looked away from him.  The room was entirely male, grinning and chuckling at me.

Except for the girl in the corner.  My natural eyes locked onto her, and my nanites in my eyes interpreted correctly to focus on her.  I felt my eyes tighten, and a network of nanites formed a lens over my eye as my vision zoomed in on her face.

Her bright pink bow on her right side of her dark green hair was strange enough for the two facts very few had that hair color naturally, and such a bright pink was deeply out of place in here, this wasteland of talent.  She was clearly looking right at me, but was neither smiling nor frowning; her lips were straight, her light blue eyes locked onto mine.  Other than her intense eyes, the final strange part was her Strive tattoo under her left eye: a single infinity sign.

What the hell was a girl like that doing here?  Though the term ‘girl’ might be demeaning to her: she was clearly a developed woman wearing a tight black body suit.  A prostitute?  Haha, even I might have been tempted.  Set a low enough price and I am sure she would clear house down here.

“What’s up with the girl over there?” I asked the bartender while nodding towards the girl.

“What are you talking about?”

I looked back at him angrily. “The girl over there, do you know her?  Prostitute or what?” I asked so I could justify my curiosity in her.

He looked confused, and his little act was pissing me off.  I shook my head, and looked away from him back at the girl who I think might have smiled slightly.  Heh, so she thought this was funny?

Hmm, well she might be interesting to talk to; damn cryptic-looking though.  I was not normally intimidated by anyone, but she might be the first, or at least real close to it.  I pushed myself away from the bar I was standing at and took a step towards her when I felt a huge force into my shoulder pushing me down to the ground.

“Watch where you are going,” said the large man who had clearly ran into me with the intention of driving me to the ground.  I heard some laughing around the room.

“Walo is going to fuck this guy up!”  I heard someone say, more laughter.

I looked right up at ‘Walo’, smiling deeply. “Bad move, bitch.”  Though this was going to be easy, I did not feel bad for him at all.

His first mistake, other than attacking me, was staying in range.  I braced myself up on my hands and lashed out a straight kick right into his knee cap, driving my foot far past the point his was normally supposed to bend.  I spun around, standing up and drawing my Liner pistol, smashing the handle down onto his head.  His broke patella and concussion shocking his system left him on the floor.

I stepped backwards towards the door, my pistol leveled and cycling between the nearest people, the girl in the back had a wild smile on as my pistol danced over her.  I wanted to fight, but having it actually happen sobered me up, and I did not need the whole bar coming after me.  “I’m leaving,” I stated firmly to those nearest me, and did just that.

Drawing of Fraylash characters

My book Fraylash is recently out and offered for free today on Amazon.

Fan drawing of Frayno and Lashia

Fan drawing of Frayno and Lashia

 

Here is a fanart rendered in a realistic anime-esque style.  The story follows Frayno who is going after Lashia who has led a rebellion on a planet.  She has killed every hunter like Frayno so far.  He is one of the best and it starts to become personal when she taunts him and strings his life along.

Check out the main link on the story here.  Go to amazon and pick it up, today is the last free day!