Helium.com ripped me again…

Helium.com ripped this story down, after it reached a number one ranking in its category. They said they removed it because of profanity. It’s not profane though. It’s a cop story a la Blade Runner.

Here it is. Enjoy: Void’s Light…

Void’s Light







     I don’t know why I do it. Some say I’m an adrenaline junkie. My ex-wife says that. Probably true. None of that philosophic shit means anything to me now. Only revenge. That’s it.  

     That night, one year ago, I watched the street lights stream by, dreamlike and ethereal. Steve Handley, my partner was driving. The engine of the Daralyne Thunderstar armored patrol car revved, its hydrogen cells providing energy to the electric engine. A signature whistling emitted from the turbine. I’d been partners with Steve for two years and we clicked well. He was respected within the department and possessed a keen mind and calming demeanor. Good for the times I’d lost my temper. Kept my dark side in check.

     I checked my PDA and reviewed the incidents that we’d responded to that night. Assault, burglary and two thefts. I swung the car’s mobile data pad over to me and began typing short narratives for the actions taken on the calls. I’d then upload the info to headquarters and to my PDA for court proceedings. I checked my thigh holster out of habit and found my mag-gun in place.  

     “Anything you have to finish back at the station?” Steve asked.

     “Nope. Just tired. This is my third double in a row.” “Why don’t we slide over to Joe’s so I can grab a cup of coffee?” Steve made a left onto Easily Street and sped toward the store.

     “Hey Andy, what’s up?” I strode into the store, out of place in my Zarlon weave body armor, carrying my helmet under my right arm. Steve walked in behind me and headed straight to the snack rack. He selected a can of cheese nibbles and then grabbed a soda from the cooler. Andy, the cashier, stood behind a transparent wall of inch thick carbon filament glass. He was reading some porno with a modded girl on the cover. Mods made her look more woman than a woman can be.

     I placed a coffee on the counter, along with a bag of salted nuts. Andy rung it up and I slid my credit stick under the window. He ran it through. “Busy out there tonight?” Andy asked.

     “Not really. Just lots of paper work earlier. Night’s winding down though.” I slugged down some coffee and leaned against the counter. 23:24 hrs. A couple of hours left until shift ended. Then, a couple of beers in my belly to help me sleep.

     “Base dispatch to Unit 174.”

     You could never tell how urgent a call was from the initial dispatcher’s voice tone. The call may be a dog in the road or a nuclear bomb may have just gone off.

     “Unit 174 to base, go ahead.”

     “Unit 174 and unit 180, respond to Perry and Grantstrom for a possible armed robbery. Kennison Security has called stating that one of its armed security units has been attacked during a money drop at the Western Zone Bank. Additional units are being dispatched.”

     Steve and I were already running out the door. I left everything I’d bought on the counter. I put my helmet on and slammed the visor down. My body was barely in the car when Steve stomped the accelerator and headed north on Pontus toward the highway onramp. A magnetic belt held me in place. I checked my pistol again to make sure it was ready to roll.

     “Base, dispatch a surveillance drone with direct feed to this cruiser and other responding cruisers. See if you can get us a good shot of the security company vehicle,” I said.

     “We copy 174.” The digital radio crackled as more units were being dispatched. We were the closest unit and I knew that things would probably be decided by the time anyone else got there. I watched the mobile data unit, waiting for a live view from the Shutterbug recon drone. The controllers back at headquarters zoomed the lens so that I could easily see human sized shapes. The car’s turbines were really roaring now, they were almost deafening, and when Steve turned West onto I-83 we were nearing 260 kilometers per hour.

     The Shaibatsu Arcology loomed before us as we approached our destination, it dominated the skyline, monolithic, its blinking lights shimmering like a titanic Christmas tree.

     “Unit 245 to 174” It was my shift commander. “Go to a secure channel.”

     I flicked the scrambler on the comm. “Go ahead command, we’re secure now.”

     “We’ve received information that Kennison Security Company is not involved here. The vehicle that’s been hijacked was an undercover NewGen Corp. car; it was supposed to surreptitiously move a piece of highly classified equipment to Shaibatsu Arcology. As of now, lethal force is authorized to prevent the material from being removed.” A bead of sweat dripped down my nose and I turned my helmet’s fan on. My body slammed from side to side as the Thunderstar’s anti-crash program was activated, the car slowed, then Steve spun the wheel hard right and stomped on the accelerator again to pass a slow moving car that refused to pull to the side. We were moving so fast that most people could not react to our lights and siren as we approached. But Steve was the best and the car was designed for those situations.

     The commander continued, “The vehicle in question has been described as a black utility vehicle, blacked out windows. There was a three man NewGen Security team inside, but we don’t know their status at this time, over.”

     The screen on the mobile data terminal zoomed in and I could see a black utility van. It was stopped in the middle of an intersection and the driver’s side door was open. I did not see the security personnel at first, and then I saw a man wearing a black soft-weave ballistic jacket. He held an assault rifle and was crouched behind a cement structure that housed decorative flowers. He fired the caseless rifle at something in the distance.

     The drone orbited the scene and the camera swung right and zoomed again, in the direction that the man fired at. A human figure moved behind a building approximately one hundred meters away from the security officer. Hi-Vel rounds struck the cement near the figure and sprayed dust and chunks into the air.

            “Command, do you have a fix on that unknown unit? It’s about one hundred meters due north behind the water district building.” I watched the drone swing again, almost instantly, and head over the top of the building.

            “Tell them we’re almost there. I’m gonna get us within two hundred meters, but near cover,” Steve said. He was a veteran of the Merc Wars too and had a good grasp of small unit tactics. The dash lights reflected off from his helmet, with it’s dark visor down. He looked alien, like some deathly droid.

     “174 to command, we are approaching the scene. We will have a visual in approximately one minute.”

     The streets were well lit; it was at times difficult to tell if it were night or day. Huge neon advertisement signs lined the walls of the corporate buildings. They told me that I should drink Zoom or drive a Mitsubishi.

     The drone hovered behind the water district building. Crouched down, like a cat was a black figure. My pulse raced, and I knew people would die when I saw the outline. It was sleek, black and gray, murderous. The figure’s body was encased in armor, but no armor that I had seen before. The plating was part of its body, tightly fitted and reaching up around its neck and head. A human visage stared from its metal confines, emotionless, transcendent. It carried a military laser rifle with a grenade launcher hanging from the barrel.

     “We’ve got a fucking problem, Steve. When you stop, pop the trunk so I can get the EPG. And get behind hard cover.” EPG—that’s short for Explosively Pumped Flux Compression Generator. It uses a controlled explosion to generate a huge electrical field and it’ll weld circuitry in virtually anything electronic.

     Steve pulled the car onto the off-ramp and turned a hard right. I shut the car’s emergency strobes down and swung the computer screen toward Steve. He looked and nodded.

     “That’s from the Weinhammer hack,” Steve said.

     I knew a little about the Weinhammer hack. Four years ago a group of German uber-hackers attacked the Los Alomos node. They made off with ultra-classified material, but I didn’t know what kind. The hackers were arrested, but not before they sold the info to an unknown entity. Probably some Corp.

     “That thing’s gonna be stacked. Adrenal boosters, strength augments, and virtually immune to small arms fire,” said Steve.

     I keyed my communication unit, “Command, we have a Cyben here. Not any kind I’ve seen before, though. We need a gunship here now. Send everyone we have to block off access roads within one mile. This thing is gonna move around.”

     “174 copy,” the shift commander said. “Do not allow the suspect to remove the material from the escort van and do not, repeat, do not allow it to enter the Shaibatsu Arcology.

     The patrol car screeched to a halt behind a large building. I jumped out and went to the trunk and removed the heavy, shoulder mounted weapon inside. I strapped the capacitor unit to my belt and strung the power cable through loops on my armor. A metal antennae-like element jutted from the end of the EPG and I flipped open the holographic sight which sat on top of the cylindrical weapon.

     “Steve, can you get a visual on the thing?” I knelt behind the police car’s ceramic engine block, hoping it could absorb a direct hit from a heavy laser rifle. Steve moved to the corner of the building and peeked around.

     “I see it; it’s walking toward the van, aiming its rifle at the area where the security officer was.”

     “I’m only going to get one shot with the EPG, so I’ve got to make it count.” I moved to the corner and knelt beside Steve. “Get back behind the car, this thing may rock your world.” He moved back behind the engine block.

     I lifted the weapon to my shoulder and brought the sight to eye level. I magnified the digital hologram several times until a clear picture of the cyborg filled it. The thing stood behind the van, still looking in the direction of the security officer, sweeping its rifle back and forth. I kept the site on the thing’s center mass and flipped open the security cover for the capacitor trigger. I pressed the little red button and the capacitor let out an escalating whine. Five seconds to charge the capacitor and I’d drop the Cyben in its tracks.

     A small red light flashed in the sight, indicating the weapon was ready to fire. I pulled the trigger. The cylinder of high explosive at the front of the weapon exploded, driving a coil down the body of the weapon. Two million amperes pulsed through the tube and the antennae dumped a bolt of electromagnetic energy, a blue bolt hissing past super-heated air. I lowered the weapon to look at the smoldering heap. That amount of energy would fuse every circuit and fiber optic in the Cyben, rendering it impotent.

     “Shit! Get in the car, now!” I yelled to Steve. “174 to command, the Cyben has a reinforced Faraday shield. Where’s the gunship? EMP is useless.” I was yelling now.

     “174 go direct with the gunship.”

     I heard the calm voice of the pilot break over the airwaves.

     “501 to 174, what is your exact location?”

     “Lock onto the GPS signal from our cruiser. We’re next to it. You’ve got to get here now. Our weapons are useless.”

     “Copy that. ETA 20 seconds.”

     The cyborg had turned now and there was no question it knew we were here. It walked toward us slowly at first, then with longer, quicker strides. Its rifle moved up, fixing us in its sights.   Steve stood to move to the driver’s door. I remember a shockwave, as if in slow motion, ripples in the air from a central void.

     The patrol car rocked and the rear axle ripped away. Steve was blown back almost ten meters, lifted from his feet, landing on his back. He skidded along like a toy soldier thrown by an angry child. I was flattened against the wall in front of me and stunned, the world spinning, I stumbled backward.

     When I came to my senses, I pulled the capacitor off from my belt and dropped the flux compressor. Steve pushed himself up onto one knee. His helmet disguised any expression of pain.

     Then, a small, green spark flickered on his tinted visor, and a hole appeared. The visor’s aluminum oxynitride matrix liquefied and dripped down his helmet and armor like candle wax. His body collapsed like a marionette; its puppet master had left the stage.

     “Steve….Steve!” My jaw quivered and nausea grasped me. I ran toward him. Thoughts of my own safety vanished and I could only see his limp form. I dove onto the pavement next to him, grabbed the drag handle attached to his Zarlon vest, and pulled him behind the smoldering cruiser.

     “Air unit, we need smoke now. We are taking laser fire. There is an officer down. Repeat, officer down. Command, dispatch medical units and have them post at the perimeter.”

     “I copy the smoke request, 174.”

     I looked and saw the gunship, wasp-like, flying in the distance. Small puffs of propellant erupted from its nose. Metal canisters skidded and bounced along the pavement not more that fifty feet from me. Plumes of smoke burst from the cans. The air was filled with a thick, black veil and it was difficult to see Steve even as he lay at my feet.

     I knelt beside my fallen partner. I slowly removed the dark blue helmet from his head. I did not breathe. His face, once revealed, dug into my psyche. The graves of fallen comrades, long ago buried in the Merc Wars were opened. I fell backward, dropping the helmet. There was nothing that could be done for him. The laser had burned a hole through his braincase. His face was peaceful.

     The whisper of the gunship snatched the memories away. I could hear the pilot speaking to his weapons officer on the open channel.

     “Do you have a lock?”

     “Not yet. He’s moving very fast…. There he is. Swing around that building to the right, the bigger one. “

     The smoke clouded my view and only the gunship’s reverberations indicated its locations. I ran again, headed for the edge of the smoke cloud, which was moving with the wind. I finally reached clear air and looked skyward for the hovering death machine.

     There it was. Pods hung from its belly, ready to deliver their deadly consignment. It was flying toward the Shaibatsu Arcology. I saw the black figure now. It was climbing the side of the Arcology like a spider.

     “Air unit to command, the target is scaling the Arcology wall. Railguns are not an option. Too great a threat to the structure and its inhabitants.”

     “Command copies. We have contacted Arcology security teams. They are responding.”

     And suddenly the figure was gone. I kept running toward the spot that I last saw it. When I was close enough, I could see that the thing had somehow blasted a hole through a thick window and escaped inside. I hoped that it would simply try to flee. It could do untold damage inside the mammoth structure.

     I keyed my mic again. “Command we’ve lost the subject inside the Arcology. I’m going to secure the transport van. Contact NewGen and have them respond here to take their property. Also, send an evidence team.”

     I walked to the van with the gunship still circling overhead. The tires had been blown and there was a dead security team member inside. He slumped over a large, black suitcase. The case was reinforced and had electronic security locks. I stood there and waited for the evidence team.

     About fifteen minutes later, two men arrived in a blacked-out sedan. They were both dressed in Italian suits and wore mirror shades. They stepped into the van with me. My shift commander stood outside and said, “ Michael, these are the NewGen representatives. They’ll be taking they’re material.”

     An evidence tech recorded the scene on a micro-digital recorder. When he was finished, one of the corporate guys walked by me and nodded in my direction. He didn’t say anything. He simply picked up the case, checked the locks and stepped out onto the pavement. Then he and the other man got into the black sedan and drove away.

     My friend had sacrificed his life for those assholes. He sacrificed for some piece of supertech in a black box. I’m sure it will make someone a lot of money or something. I needed to find out why this happened. I knew now that I still had a soul, I could still feel pain and regret despite the thresher I’d been run through in the war and on the streets.

     Medics picked Steve from the ground and placed him on a stretcher. It was all a formality. They drove away and I never saw him again. I couldn’t just sit on this. I knew what could happen. If this involved big money, someone could come up with the credits to make this all go away. I couldn’t let that happen.

     Two day’s after, I walked into the chief’s office and placed my badge and gun on his desk. I told him that I’d taken another job and thanked him for the opportunities he’d given me. He said that he understood given everything I’d been through. I shook his hand and walked out of the command building.

     That day, I received a response to the resume I’d submitted for another job. It came in the form of a knock on the door. I looked at the security monitor. A man in a black suit stood outside. There was a plastic photo identification on his lapel. I was corporate now and I was glad NewGen paid they’re security teams well. There was no other way to find out why Steve forfeited his life and now lay on a cold slab waiting for the cities central incinerator.

     We shook hands. He smiled. We spoke of the honor of the job and all that garbage. I was part of a force that would defend the sovereign rights of NewGen at home and abroad. The corporation had already waived my physical tests and so forth, given my record in the war and working for the government. I took the badge that the man gave me. He walked out the door saying that I would be contacted.

     The badge was shiny and gold. Looking at it closely, I saw that the eagle from my old badge had been replaced by the image of a bank vault. I would no longer protect people, I would protect money.


The End


8 Responses to “Helium.com ripped me again…”

  1. 1 How You Doin Blondie
    April 15, 2008 at 2:12 am

    Very powerful. The newest member of the dudes club is very impressed.

  2. April 15, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    You hadn’t read this before? Clearly not a hardcore Magus fan!

  3. 3 How You Doin Blondie
    April 15, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Easy there killer, I’m also a new magus fan

  4. April 15, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    I’ll post some others later. I’ll be gone for a while after this week, so I’ll throw out some reading material.

  5. 5 How You Doin Blondie
    April 15, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Gasp, gone for a while? That might actually be a blessing in disguise, I might actually get away from my computer for more then a few hours at a time. Good luck with that basic training thing, I shudder at the mere thought of a drill sargeant.

  6. April 15, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    My ex-wife made me immune to anything a drill sargeant can throw at me…

  7. April 16, 2008 at 2:39 am

    Oops. I saw this before it was posted. Unfair cut on Suzie. +1 point for Suzie, to be used later against me.

  8. 8 How You Doin Blondie
    April 16, 2008 at 3:02 am

    Rim shot, Doug ;-). And thanks for the retraction Mike, you saved me from having to open up a can.

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