THIS IS THE ONE WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR!
Kansas, USA, 2015…
It’s not yet the post apocalypse but it sure as fuck looks like it. As far as the eye can see; cracked roads, dilapidated homes, farms drying up, and churches with plywood for windows. But there wasn’t a single technomancing Witch to blame for this sorry fucking state. No, that would be the local government that couldn’t find money in the budget to put shit back together after tornadoes ripped neighborhoods a whole set of new assholes.
See, that shit costs money, money you get from municipal taxes. The sitting governor ran on a campaign to reduce taxes and thus, attract big business to the great state of Kansas. It was an enormous success as natural gas and oil companies expanded operations across the state. They were given carp launch to frak wherever they damn well pleased. In the Earth beneath the Southern Midwest there was an ever growing network of natural gas tunnels and fiber optic cables coexisting. Time Warner Cable and Comcast were set to merge into one mega Cable Corporation; they were the ones responsible for the ever growing network of fiber optics throughout the state and the whole fucking country for that matter. They were set to unveil what they had the giant balls to call, the Central Mega Server. In the heart of Wichita, where there used to be a stadium named after one of the many banks that robbed people blind. ComWarner bought the whole goddamn plot and made the one server to rule them all. From here, in the country’s heartland, enough nerd horse power to provide everyone in America with lightning fast internet access…If they could afford it.
So there ya go, the stage is fucking set. This is where our hero comes from, a world that’s been bought and sold twice over. Her parents were pretty much victims of the nonsense a government ran by corporations get up to. Pa died like most people did in Kansas, working his ass off for shit pay. Ma did her best but cancer took her out of the game before she could really make a lasting impact on her youngest daughter. Thank fuck then for Darlene, the oldest daughter of the aforementioned dead parents. Darlene was United States Marine Lance Corporal serving in Afghanistan when she got the call. Honorary discharge, not bad all things considered. It wasn’t like she wanted to go career. But her mom dying was a shitty fucking price. She was home six weeks before ma went to the grave, leaving nothing but a car on cinder blocks and a trailer that smelled like cat pee despite the fact that a cat had never stepped a paw inside. And of course, Darlene’s little sister, a three year old girl named…
Well here’s the thing, she HATES her name. She’s just never liked it. That could have been because Darlene of course.
“Uhhhhg, fucking really? They had a thing for D names and I get that…but shit…It’s like they wanted you to grow up to be a dumb ass.”
So Darlene called her D. Just D. And D took to it, in that she inevitably grew up to share several of Darlene’s points of view. This was not at all a bad thing mind you; Darlene was in every sense of the words, a legitimate bad ass. She never talked about what she did when she was in the service but in the real world Darlene beat the shit out of people for money. MMA, bail bonds, collections, repo, where ever there was money to be made for showing up and throwing down. She wasn’t proud of it, she did teach D the basic self-defense stuff but she sure as fuck didn’t want her kid sister to grow up and become a bruiser for hire. As it was, Darlene had a particular set of skills and this was her doing the best she could to provide for her family. But it wasn’t like Darlene didn’t have a brain in her head, quite the contrary; she was consistently top in her class. If she hadn’t been booted out of school for breaking that jock shit bird’s clavicle she could have gone to any Ivy League institution.
So in 2015, with D turning thirteen and the unveiling of the Mega Server imminent, Darlene could tell that something was rotten as fuck in Denmark, so to speak.
D was walking home from school when Richie came up behind her and tugged on her back pack. Oh Richie, you really should have thought better of that. D spun around and planted her fist quite firmly between Richie’s eyes. Richie was a little ginger fuck who had been following D around since kindergarten, like I said; he really should have seen that coming.
“OW! I’m sorry! I don’t even know why I do the things that I do!” Richie said, bowing with both hands on his face.
“Yeah, I knew it was you. Goddamn Richie! You really are dumb as shit. This is the third time this year.”
“I know, I know, I was just really excited! I downloaded all the seasons of Legend Of Kora! I thought maybe you would want to come over and watch it?”
“I don’t have time for your little kid bull shit Richie Rich.” At this, Richie bowed his head and began to walk away. D had always been hard edged but she was never that mean. Richie hated being called Richie Rich, the name was designed by the cruelest grade school minds years ago and unfortunately, it had stuck. If Richie wasn’t the poorest kid in school, hell D might have actually been the one with the least money. Darlene always made sure there was enough to eat though, even if she had to kill the meat herself. But Richie’s family did not make sure their boy was fed. He was caught eating out of the trash one day and that’s when everyone learned he was crazy poor. Even though most of them were, this is Kansas after all, but no one was as OBVIOUSLY poor as ol’ Richie Rich.
D Immediately regretted the insult, lately she had been cutting as deep as she could. Darlene said it was part of growing up as a woman in country lead by men, every kid had hormones going but girls were the only ones who were taught to be ashamed. How could that not make you pissed all the time?
“Richie, hey, I’m sorry. Look, I’ll come over later okay? I got training with my sister but it’s not like I didn’t enjoy the shit out of Avatar the Last Air Bender so…I guess I can…”
“GREAT! Oh man, you are going to love it! Kora is such a badass, not a little wimp like Ang was in the beginning and she bends fire and water so well and there’s metal benders….”
“OKAY! I already said I would come over, chill your nerd boner. How do you even get this stuff?”
“Oh, I have my ways…” Richie said, rubbing his hands together like a cartoon villain, “I put together a PC and a tablet from junk parts. They work real good for being franken-puters. I showed em to my dad but…” Richie trailed off and D knew why. Richie was a smart kid, like really smart. That wasn’t something that endured him to his stupid ass drunk of a dad.
“Anyway, we gotta get to this stuff now before they fire up that super server or whatever, it’s already hard enough to get ahold of anything ever since they sold the internet to ComWarner.”
D clapped both of her hands together in front of her, signaling the close of what was becoming a tiring fucking covo.
“Alright Richie, I’ll see you later. Please learn from the bruise, do NOT sneak up behind me again.”
“Okay”, was what Richie said but he knew that he would and so did she. A punch in the face was the closet D ever came to hugging.
D came home to find her older sister packing up the pickup with cans of gasoline and several high powered guns. The gasoline was what was unusual, the guns…not so much. She called to her little sister, “D, get your ‘fuck off’ bag. We are hitting the road.” Darlene said flatly.
“Da’fuck! Why?” was D’s only response.
“Girl, what did I tell you bout that kinda language?”
“Only after I’ve cleaned my buddy’s brains off my uniform can I cuss whenever I want,” D recited. “But why are you packing a bunch of cans of gas? How long are we going to be gone? Not that I care but I do have school sh- stuff to worry about”.
Darlene walked over to D, she got uncomfortably close. D could make out all the details of the various tattoos on her well defined arms and shoulders. She could see the sun gleaming off her sister’s stubbly shaved head. When Darlene spoke it was in a soft tone. That’s how D knew she was all kinds of serious.
“Look down, look at the ground you are standing on. Beneath those beat to shit Chuck Taylor’s there’s a world of fire waiting to happen. Maybe it escaped your notice that everybody has been buying their water from the fucking Wal-Mart. That’s because what’s comin’ out of the faucets is more flammable than the shit I just loaded up under the canopy. Tomorrow they are going to flip the shit on that stupid as Mega Server and they are going to light up fiber optic cables runnin’ right next to those fart smelling gas lines. The dumb fuck governor of our once great state has sold the land to even dumber fuck companies that paid no goddamn mind to what they were doing when they put in those fiber optics. If there is a single fucking spark, this whole state is going up in flames.”
D tried to follow along but she had a hard time wrapping her head around what her big sis was telling her. How could anyone in charge let that happen? Surely this was a paranoid theory. D decided not to argue with Darlene, showing that she did in fact have a brain in her head and not a collection of rocks as her sis so often suggested.
“Ooooookay. Well, if the state doesn’t blow up can we come back?”
“No. We’re never coming back. I’ve been hearing other shit too. I got people in the know and from what they are telling me…this world is going to get hard to live in real soon. They got us all hooked on the fucking internet which means when shit happens we are all going to be affected. Kansas’s Armageddon is just the beginning”.
D thought of Richie, she didn’t really believe her sister’s paranoid rant but she could go along with it. Richie would still be here in Kansas though, with no one to keep the shit heels who tortured him daily off his back. It’s not like she LIKE-liked Richie or any dumb shit like that. But he was a good guy and he needed her help. D never expected to feel tears welling up, what the fuck was going on with her?
“Fuck you! You can’t take me away! I’m tired of doing whatever you say just cuz you got brains on you in the war!” And with that K beat feet as fast as she could to get away from her big sister.
“Alright then, be back by twenty one hundred hours or it’ll be your ass!” Darlene shouted after her fleeing kid sister. She chuckled to herself a little, “fuckin’ puberty.”
Sure as shit, D reported in at exactly twenty one hundred hours. Darlene was there to greet her in their trailer, now damn near empty as she had sold or junked everything that wasn’t useful on their trip.
“So, where are we goin?” D asked.
“Mountains. Far away from any tech. I know people who got a decent set up out in the North West. It’s gonna be a long haul and if shit goes down like I think it will, it’s not going to be easy.”
D sighed, Jesus…Darlene could be melo-fucking-dramatic. But, what could she do? Darlene was family AND her commanding officer. Whatever, it would probably just be a fun trip and then she would come back a few weeks later and everything would be normal again. She slept like shit that night, her mattress having had all the springs ripped out of it and sold for their metal value. Darlene said she should get used to it. They got up that morning, had some dried MRIs for breakfast and hit the road heading west.
Meanwhile, in Wichita KS…
The INTRUST bank stadium was one of many sporting venues bought and sold by corporations. Tax payers pay for em’, billionaires own em. Once ComWarner started its plans for total interweb domination if went ahead and bought the whole goddamn place, tore it town in a week, and made it the site of the Central Mega Server. Being as close to smack-dab in the middle of the country as a place could be, it was the perfect location. All the country’s highest earners were there to watch the ribbon cutting ceremony on what would be the monument to celebrate their complete victory over normal folk. Once the switch was flipped, all access to information would come through them. And they weren’t about to give that shit away for nothing. They all bought into the ComWarner merger, they all pitched in to make sure Congress didn’t get in the way of their machinations and today…America was theirs and soon the world would follow.
Back in the cab of Darlene’s pick up…
“But John McClain didn’t change at all! Terrorists attacked, he saved the day being his bad ass self and at the end of the day, he just learned he was a little more bad ass than he thought he was,” D stated.
Darlene gripped the steering wheel, Fuck it’s annoying when your younger sibling is a smart ass.
“Balls, I guess you’re right kid. I was really talking about the traditional hero’s journey though. Like Luke Skywalker.”
“Luke was a whiney little cu-” Darlene shot her a look that cut her right the fuck off. “Pansy,” D corrected. “Are we out of Kansas yet?”
Darlene looked at her watch, they hadn’t been on the road more than a couple hours and the kid was already pulling a variation of are we there yet? “We just past Wichita an hour ago, we got a ways to go. But what about Han? He’s a bad ass and he learned some shit after three movies.”
Back in Wichita…
The governor was giving a speech. He says the word freedom a bunch and everybody who isn’t stupid-fucking-rich is thinking, “I don’t think that word means what you think it means.” Anyway, that asshole gets done flapping his jaw and some billionaire from a family of billionaires flips THE switch.
The Central Mega Server is active, fuckin yay!
On the plus side, every home and wireless device just got a huge bandwidth boost. The Mega Server shot signals into space and ran through fiber optics underground all throughout America. Every router was now spitting out three times what it used to. And if you were a subscriber to one of the sites owned by the collection of rich fucks, you were going to be getting your dirty videos real fucking quick.
On the down side…
An image was created in that moment, designed for maximum viral impact. Attached to the image was a virus. The virus was supposed to simply shut down the Mega Server. But somewhere along the way it mutated, changed, into something no one could have imagined. There’s no real explanation for why everything went shit-house-crazy, some think the changes to the virus were designed by one of the aforementioned rich dicks, to make them even more powerful. At any rate, five minutes after they switched on the Central Mega Server, the meme that broke the world launched… and all hell followed it. As Darlene had predicted, all of the failings of Kansas’ infrastructure resulted in the quick and fiery demise of the entire city surrounding the server. The rich asshats burning like so many BBQ woodchips was a small bit of justice. Unfortunately, flames traveled along the natural gas tunnels and explosions raged throughout the state in all directions. At least the people of Kansas would never have to know the secondary effects of the virus, what happened to the one percent of people who simply looked upon the image that carried the virus…
Back in the cab of Darlene’s pick up…
Heading Westward, and temporarily unaware of the danger traveling in their direction, D and Darlene moved on, to comics and cartoons, because driving through the Midwest is boring as fuck. Although, it was about to get very exciting.
“No, no, no, you’re thinking of She-Ra Princess of Power, I’m talking about Red Sonya. She rolls with Conan the Barbarian,” D corrected.
Darlene had just about had enough of her teenage sister when she caught a glimpse of something in her rear view mirror. D noticed her sister’s eyes being drawn away from the road and looked back to see what was what.
And just what the hell was that? A fucking inferno heading their way, that’s what.
Darlene floored it, “SHIT! WHAT DID I FUCKING TELL YOU!?”
D slammed back into her seat and grabbed ahold of the “oh shit” handle with both hands. The fire moved as if it was driven by a meth-head trucker with a vendetta. Darlene clenched her teeth, keeping one eye on the road and the other on the rear view mirror. She could see asphalt turning to lava behind her. They were not going to be able to outrun the heat from the fire, even if they could escape the flames themselves. Not unless she pulled out all the stops. Darlene’s hand went to a switch on her dash board… the hyper speed switch. Given the heat, nitrous might seem like a bad idea. But, then again, they had a shit ton of gas in the back, so now really wasn’t the time to give a fuck. Before she could commit to the hail Mary, D screamed, “FUUUUUCK!” pointing directly in front of them. A mother fucking tornado of fire and molten asphalt shot up 20 feet in front of them.
Darlene pulled the e-break and swerved off road, switching to four wheel drive. They drove over rough terrain, dodging pillars of red and orange death, for what seemed like hours. Darlene was forced to get back on the main road, she sent a silent message to her dead parents telling them that their girls might be coming to visit real soon. The wheels of the pickup screeched on the road and Darlene hit the hyper drive. The sisters both slammed back into their seats at the sudden increase in speed, behind them the world was crumbling into a giant pit straight out of that shit Dante wrote.
The nitrous ran down and the truck began to slow. There was no escaping the smell, but it looked like they made it. Darlene brought her pickup to a halt and took a deep breath of shitty, shitty air.
“Are…are we…did we make it?” D asked.
They both got out of the cab and looked at the devastation behind them. In front of them was a sign reading, Welcome to Colorado. Behind them, the sign that would have welcomed people to Kansas; fell into the hell pit.
Darlene spoke, “Yeah we made it. We’re not in Kansas anymore.”
“Fuckin’ really?” D replied.
“Yeah…Watch your mouth, shit-head.”
D stood on the edge of oblivion while Darlene futzed about with her pickup. There was bound to be some damage done during their escape from Kansas and she wanted to be sure they were good to go before they headed out on their journey west. D probably should have helped but, if the twerp needed time to process, Darlene would allow for that. After all, putting her rig back together on her own was pretty much her own way of dealing with the utter destruction of her home state.
D slid her backpack around to her front, unzipping it and pulling out a slightly cracked, but still operational tablet. She thought back to just before she and her big sister made their getaway, to the afternoon she ran off in a huff.
“She’s gone COMPLETELY insane! I mean, I knew this day was coming but I was hoping I would be discharged or um, moved out, by then.” D said as she sat in a Richie’s hideout, a broken down old creeper van, not far from his dad’s trailer. This is where Richie went, when his dad was too many drinks in him. D unloaded everything Darlene had said to her upon arriving home from school. Richie for his part listened and did not bring up the cartoons he wanted to show her. “I am tired of being treated like her property, she can’t just do whatever she wants with me, I have…”
“Autonomy?” Richie interjected.
“Shut up! And yeah… that.” D sighed; she knew damn well she would be reporting back at exactly twenty one hours as instructed. Thing is, it wasn’t like Darlene was a shitty commanding officer. D had more freedom than most kids her age. Her sister/parent extended a good deal of trust, she wasn’t happy with the decision to bail on everything here, but she had to pay Darlene the same respect she was given. D slumped down into the old theater chair Richie had re-purposed and looked blankly toward the ceiling. Richie looked at her waiting for her to say something else and then he finally said, “You can take this tablet with you.”
“Richie that’s…thanks, but no I can’t take it. If Darlene saw me with it she would chuck it out the window. I already told you how she feels about screens and shit.”
“I know it’s no big if she does. But if you can keep it secret you could watch the shows I loaded on it. And you know if you get a good WiFi connection somewhere maybe we could…um…like, Skype or something.”
That is when D knew she was going just as insane as her sister because again, she felt tears welling up in her eyes. She realized that she didn’t want to say goodbye to Richie. He was a weak ass ginger nerd but… but he was a good kid. Kind, helpful and pretty fucking clever when he wanted to be. It broke her heart to have to leave him here for his dad to use as a punching bag. She very quickly wiped a tear away before Richie could spot it and gave him a not so soft punch on the arm. Then she hugged him, and took the tablet, putting it in her school bag.
“I gotta go Richie. Um, thank you, for the tablet. Maybe I’ll see you around or something.”
D bolted out of the van before things could get any weirder. As she crossed the plots toward her own trailer she went by Richie’s dad’s home. He was just getting out of his Ford POS, smelling of cheap beer and staggering with violent purpose.
“Hey! Hey you! Where’s that fucking son of mine? You been with him…I know it! I’m not a fucking retard. Yeah I said it! I’m not afraid of you or your dyke of a sister! Where’s my boy you little bitch?”
Well this was quite fortuitous, here was an ass D had hoped to kick many times, but so far the worst he had ever done to her was give her a nasty look. And tonight, D really needed to get some aggression out. She walked up to the big, drunk asshole slowly, like a frightened Girl Scout, trying to sell cookies to a psychopath.
“What? What do you want, ya little cu-” Before he could finish that exceptionally disgusting sentence, D performed a front sweep and took his legs out from under him. Then she leapt up and landed on him hard with both of her Chucks planted on his left knee. The moron cried out in pain but before he could disturb the neighborhood, D got low for a classic ground and pound. Richie’s dad flailed his arms uselessly, his beer soaked brain creating eight fists in his vision and, even though there were, in fact just the two, it sure as shit felt like eight. He finally got a hand on D’s shoulder but she was already up and off him, swinging her foot on the way, kicking him across the jaw with her heel. Richie’s dad was pounded into a deep sleep and D went home, making sure to get all of her tears out before she met back up with her big sis.
Annnnnd we’re back…
D looked at the tablet and it flashed to life, showing the bald dude from Star Trek riding a unicorn. Tears fell freely onto the cracked screen and it sizzled, the image turning to static. Kansas was never much of a home but there were people there who made it that way. They were all gone now, gone because selfish morons acted out of greed with no thought for others. And Darlene was right about this piece of tech. It was a tool designed to keep people nice and stupid while the rich fucks got away with murder. Poor Richie, he couldn’t help but fall for it. But she wouldn’t, not now and not ever. She chucked the broken tablet into the fire pit and didn’t look back.
“D! BACK IN THE TRUCK! We are officially “Oscar Mike“. According to the radio there is a lot more horrible shit happening.”
D turned from the flames and got back in the truck. They headed for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.
The drive was long and hard, Kansas may have been the only state that went all fire-ball but the virus carried by the Mega Server affected everything everywhere. World leaders were being zombified; monuments were being remade into terrifying and often perverted images. They sky itself looked different, streaks of green and purple lighting up the otherwise dark view. The sun barely shown through the mass of jet black clouds, and night and day became interchangeable.
Darlene and D got bits and pieces of information from the radio, there were no active stations, but somewhere along their route through the Rockies they started to get strange transmissions.
“If you can hear this, you are in danger. You MUST-”
The transmission cut out before they could figure out what they had to do. Of course, Darlene and D damn well knew they were in danger. The very roads they were driving on were littered with death; bodies and rubble in equal proportion. D wondered how her war vet sister was holding up but didn’t say anything about it, she knew better than to ask those questions.
“Well this shit looks familiar,” Darlene said as if she were hearing her sister’s thoughts.
D took that as an invitation and finally asked the question she had wanted to ask for years, “What was it like?”
Darlene kept her eyes on the road the entire time but she didn’t stop talking for nearly two hours. As they wound their pickup through a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Darlene unloaded the entire war experience to her little sister. D sat silently and listened, eyes shifting from her sister to the perils ahead. Darlene never missed a beat, dodging sudden outcroppings of spiked steel, random lightning, heaps of sewage, she circumvented obstacle after obstacle but never stopped talking. She wanted D to know, she wanted her to have all of the information. Because there was a feeling she couldn’t shake, a feeling that this might be her last chance to tell her. When she finished there was a long silence, only the sound of the windshield wipers working to keep the incoming snow from obscuring their view.
“I hope you know…I love you. You’re a good kid, when you’re not running around acting like a legendary badass. But I mean…you’re decent. Not like me… I don’t ever want you to do the things that I did, that I thought I had to do.”
D looked at Darlene and…the words just couldn’t come out. She knew she wanted to say something, she wanted her to know that she loved her too, even though she thought she was a total psycho. She didn’t want her to feel bad for the shit she did in the service, everybody did bad shit in times of war. She paid just enough attention in history class to know that.
Before D could find her words, Darlene saw something they hadn’t seen for quite some time; a traveler on the side of the road. He wore a large, hooded green coat to protect him from the elements. He had a single duffle bag slung over his shoulder. Darlene could tell that no matter how high his boots were, his feet had to be freezing given that he was walking through three feet of snow. As they approached the man in their pickup he turned around and waved with both of his hands, clearly very desperate for them to stop.
“What are you doing?” D asked as Darlene began to slow down.
“Under your seat, it’s your birthday present. Happy fucking Birthday, D.”
D did as she was told and came back up with a big ass knife, like Rambo big. Naturally, she was utterly delighted. Darlene stopped and told D, “Stay in the truck.” before opening her own door and jumping down. Thankfully the trucks high life didn’t only allow for driving in snow, it kept creepers from knocking on your window.
D looked down from her window, clutching her B.A.K. She could see her sister running the traveler through the paces, making sure he didn’t have any weapons, asking him questions about where he was going. A few moments later she signaled for D to open her door. D did so, making sure that this stranger saw her knife, and knew how big it was.
“How well do you remember the driving lessons I gave you?” Darlene asked.
“Um, I think I got this.” That was all Darlene needed to hear and she tossed her kid sister the keys.
They all got in the truck, D in the driver’s seat for the first time, on their adventure, and Darlene in the middle. Darlene didn’t need a weapon if shit went down with the hitchhiker. D put the truck in gear and started back on the ever disappearing road west.
The traveler said his name was Danielson and he had seen some serious shit. The big, scruffy looking dude gushed information, clearly it had been a while since he had talked to anyone. He told them everything that had been happening since the meme broke the world.
“Technomancers, aka, Witches,” were terrorizing the globe apparently. Everything technological seemed to be something they could use to kill masses of people. Not just that but they could do crazy, unbelievable things you only heard about in science fiction or fantasy shit. But some people were already starting to fight back. The trick was to get in close with something less fancy than a gun. Take the head, the Witch goes down, no magic could bring one back from that. Unfortunately they seemed to recover from all other manner of wounds. He said he once saw a Witch absorb bullets she took in the chest and spit them out toward the shooter at the same speed the gun fired them. Fucking cartoon shit!
“So I’m heading west because I heard there are people there who are banding together, they got some kind of protection from the Witches and… and… is that a fucking radio? Do you have a… radio in your car?” Danielson spat.
D took her eyes off the road just for a second to see why this dude was so amazed that their truck had a radio. When she put her eyes back on the road she immediately slammed on the break and the clutch pedals with both feet, which sent the car skidding in the snow in a three hundred and sixty degree turn. The creature, with which D avoided colliding, calmly stepped out of the way, twirling like a paper ghost. The pickup hit something hidden beneath the snow in just the right way to tip the truck over on to the driver’s side. Darlene was gravity smashed against her sister with the Danielson’s squirming weight on them both.
“Last time I let you drive!” Darlene said to D.
“FUUUUCK! WE GOTTA GO! IT’S COMING OVER HERE!” Danielson was going crazy trying to kick his door open, with each try he pushed harder against Darlene and D.
“DANIELSON!” Darlene yelled, “Knock it OFF! What the fuck?! Are you pissing yourself?!”
Danielson turned his head to look at her and said in a whisper; “She’s here!”
The passenger door flew off its hinges and Danielson went along with it, screaming the entire way.
Outside the truck; the Witch held the poor schmuck, formally known as Danielson, in the air by the throat. The Witch itself was floating above the snow drift and not showing any strain whatsoever. She spoke in a German accent saying, “You vill tell me zee location of zee rebel base or you vill DIE!” she gave Danielson’s corpse a little shake. Suddenly dropping the Nazi antics she continued, “C’mon, I heard you talking about it on the radio. Dumb move by the way, I thought you guys figured that out already! Awwww shit. I already snapped your neck, didn’t I?!” The technomancer floated over to get a better look inside the flipped truck. “Oh I see, you found yourself some new recruits huh? Maybe they will be of better help, not being dead and all…” and with that she tossed the dead body into a drift.
D felt the world shift and move around her as the pickup began to right itself, or rather, the Witch put it back on four wheels.
“Hey there ladies! You don’t happen to know where this guy was heading do you? Oh, don’t bother, I’ll just use your brains for bandwidth!”
Green energy snaked from the Witch’s finger tips and abruptly died as an axe cleaved its skull open. The creature’s eyes rolled back into its head and it fell back onto the red snow. Darlene followed with it, hatchet in hand; she continued to slam the sharp end into the remainder of the technomancer’s face.
Breathing heavily, Darlene straightened up and turned around to meet her little sister’s wide eyed stare and said, “Ain’t nothin’ coming back from that.” D nodded in agreement.
A figure appeared behind Darlene; D screamed to her sister, but before Darlene could turn fully a jagged tendril made of corded steel cables exploded from her torso. The other Witch threw D’s big sister, her only parent, aside and peered in through the passenger door. The metallic tentacle, that was the Witch’s arm, shot out toward D and she swatted uselessly at it with her, now not as big as she thought it was, knife. The creature caught D by the throat and pulled her out into the cold.
“Man, that bald chick was some kind of badass huh? Too bad I can’t thank her for taking out that other Witch and leaving me with a nice little brain boost.”
D hocked a lougee right in the witches face. The phlegm enhanced spit sizzled on the thing’s cheek causing the Witch to lower itself and D down to ground level.
“Well, just for that, I’m going to make you my little slave. I’m going to keep you around for quite some time, using you as a Guinea-pig to figure out new ways of hurting insects like yourself. Oh yes my dearie, you and I are going to have so much–”
A reddish-black line appeared across the witch’s neck, and the technomancer released its prize. D fell into the slush and gasped for air, watching as her sister’s killer’s head slid from its body. Behind it, someone wearing all white, his outfit cloaking all but his katana appeared before her. He flicked the blade peppering the snow with murky plasma, and placed in its scabbard before removing his hood and mask, so that D could see him clearly in the light reflecting off the snow.
“Who, are…what are…you… Wait, what’s going on?! Why the fu-“
“Later,” said the man in white. “First, say your final goodbyes.” He pointed toward Darlene’s motionless body.
D got up and ran to her sister, she grabbed at her body and shook her as if to wake her but she needn’t have bothered, Darlene was conscious. As evidenced by the fact that her hand shot up and grabbed D by the scruff of her neck.
“D! Don’t…forget. Please, promise me. Don’t forget why this happened, where you come from, who you are. Don’t forget…Kansas.”
D cried and pleaded to no avail. Darlene passed quietly with the snow covering her body in serenity. The man in white stood patiently, waiting for the teenage girl to come to terms with what just happened. Finally, D stood and approached the man who saved her life.
“They call me the Master. If you wish, I can take you to safety. But if you wish to stay with me, you will be required to learn my ways. It won’t be easy, training for a war never is. But if you join me, I will teach you to kill the things that took her from you. Is that something you’re interested in?”
D wiped any trace of tears from her cheeks and steeled herself. There was only one thing she could think to say.
To be continued…ON STAGE!
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