Flash Fic Challenge – Past Prologue

.The latest writing challenge I used Pavowski’s opening line, for my sci-fi/cyberpunk throwback.

Past Prologue

I had hoped that my past had forgotten me… right up until the moment they kicked the door in.

I rolled out of bed, blaster in my hand, and fired even as I dropped to the floor and hid behind the frame. Green bolts lit up the room like a disco, dissolving furniture and leaving huge holes in the wall. “I’m wanted alive, you stupid fucks,” I yelled, shooting back. Well, assuming the original wanted call was still ongoing. Maybe something had changed in the interim.

My assailants wore the concealing black armor of the UPF, meaning they were kind of out of their jurisdiction … maybe. The laws were pretty loose on Gaora, which was why I’d been hiding out here, hoping my new identity would stick this time.

I shot a couple of them. Didn’t kill ‘em – not in that body armor –but I at least got them out of the shooting game for a couple minutes. Enough time for me to roll across the floor to the window, which was now just a gaping hole, and jump out.

It was a three story drop, but I landed easily on my cybernetic legs, while the small HUD in my right eye reported stress on the shocks in my knees. No damage, though, which was a good thing, especially considering the money I shelled out for them. There was some poor son of a bitch covering the back, but before he could even draw down on me I nearly punched his head off his shoulders. He was unconscious long before he hit the street, and I would have been surprised if he woke up before next week.

I was glad I slept in my clothes. Despite the fact that it was edging on morning, the streets of Neotokyo were surprisingly busy, and I was the center of attention. Scans of frequencies across my HUD told me some of them were attempting to connect to the grid, so I broadcast a jamming frequency and started to run.

The longer I could keep myself off the grid the better. If the UPF were after me, I’d be painted all over it in a few minutes, but I figured I could use those few minutes. I activated my distortion device, which I could only run for seventy five seconds before the energy drain became too much, but it would give me time to get lost.

The great thing about being in the Neotokyo sector was the maze like, inexplicable streets. The buildings were towering and squeezed together, like space was a premium, and many of the streets were narrow and twisted back into one another, or abruptly became dead ends. Without using the complimentary nav maps you’d get messed up in no time, and since I was jamming the signals, they were fucked. I’d been here long enough to know my way around without them.

My distortion field ended when I passed the squid noodle shop, which was just as well, as I was sure I’d already shaken my initial pursuers. In my head I was going over everything that could have gone wrong with my cover identity as I turned down a narrow side alley, and passed the reconditioned electronics shop. You could smell ozone and fried wires for yards around it.

From here, you could see the border of Neonaples, the sector that mimicked Renaissance Italy. The zones were all nostalgic, representative of the wished for pasts with people who had more money than sense. There was also Neoquebec, which represented post-plague Canada; Neonewyork, which represented post-war America; Neolondon, which represented pre-colonization England; Neobangalore, which represented pre-invasion India; and Neorio, which represented pre-flood South America. There were history displays that told you about these places, and Old Earth, but I got so bored two minutes in I never finished a single one of them. But the owners of Gaora clearly gave a shit. I heard they were designing a Neoaqaba and Neonairobi, and I hoped they were hot places, as the only places left to develop on the planet was the vast desert wastes that ate up half of the globe.

My latest identity had been as Subai Tenore, a pirate with no alignment. I wasn’t even flashy. I stuck to the shadows, and generally hijacked automated long haul transports. I wasn’t out to hurt anyone. Also, I didn’t want anyone to see my face. I could wear a morph mask all I wanted, but somehow I couldn’t hide my true self. That should have been a good thing, but it wasn’t.

That was part of the deal. I distant myself from the group and no one got hurt. In theory. But the way things had been going, I had been a fool to think the Imperator would ever leave us alone. That wasn’t how he operated, and I was an idiot to think he’d ever keep his word. But he’d forgotten I had more than one way to guarantee mutually assured destruction if he pressed me to the wall. Maybe it was time to kick it off.

I didn’t stop running until I came to the back of Javi’s Body Mod Shop, and then I easily forced the door and dropped inside, glad of the buzz of silence. Javi had built her shop like a Faraday cage, so no electronic signals were getting in here. I don’t want to call her paranoid, but yeah, she totally is. That’s why she was such a valuable ally. I had to shut down all my fields before I got wicked feedback.

“Javi,” I shouted, walking through the purification ray and into the front room. She lived over her shop, as she liked living in the cage. I knew she, like me, was hiding from something, but I never asked. On Gaora, it was considered tacky. If you were on this planet, either everything had gone right in your life, or everything had gone horribly wrong.

“Goddamn, woman, you can’t send a warning message before you bust down my door?” Javi said, appearing out of a side room. She looked tired, and was wearing her sleeping clothes, which were a pair of baggy shorts and an even baggier t-shirt that read Stop Staring At My Dick. Her head was shaved clean, save for a fountain of hair that sprung out of the back of her head, which she liked to call her centaur’s tail. The natural hair was currently colored neon purple, shot through with electric blue techno-fibres that glowed brighter when exposed to certain radio frequencies. It was her way of making sure she always knew what was in the air.

“Not with the UPF on my ass.” I finally put away my blaster, holstering it inside my right thigh. Cybernetic legs were handy in more than one way.

“Since when do those fucks have jurisdiction here?” Javi asked, making hand signals that turned on her own internal electronics. She had old fashioned physical connections, because it was the only way to get a signal inside the cage, and it made tracking her grid wanderings almost impossible. She gasped. “Holy shit!”

I knew what had happened. She’d tuned into the grid, and I was all over it. “I need a fast and scheduled ship to get me off this rock ASAP. Make it happen and I’ll pay you whatever you want.”

“Crace, holy fuck nuggets, why didn’t you tell me you were a celebrity?” She gave me a smile that showed off her circuit etched teeth, silver against white. “You know, half the universe thinks you died two years ago.”

“They were supposed to. That was the deal. I drop out and let the Imperator look like he won, and he’d leave me and my people alone.”

She made a negative noise. “You didn’t have people hiding on R’Qalish Five, did you?”

The fact that she asked that question told me all I needed to know. Bastard. Once he made his move, he was going to make it on as many of us possible at the same time. So why make the agreement in the first place? Was this another one of his stupid whims?

I rubbed my forehead. It wasn’t so much a headache building there as pure, incandescent rage. It would build until it was, weirdly, nothing. When I felt absolutely nothing, I was homicidally mad, and capable of unbelievable destruction. Was it some sort of defect coded into my DNA, or just a thing that happened? I was light years away from normal, so I had no way of knowing. “Javi, are you going to help me or not?”

Her red-green eyes focused on me, not the loose data floating between us. “How can I say no to rebel leader Frey Noor? So what’s the move, fair Captain?”

She was being somewhat jovial, still giddy over my “celebrity”, but I knew she meant it. Javi was a down for whatever sort of girl; that’s what I loved about her. “We’re gonna take the fight back to my brother, the motherfucking Imperator, and burn him to the fucking ground.”

It was true what they said about being unable to pick your family, but you could damn well tear it apart.

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