​​​​​Sync City

 

 

Episode 1 Scene 4

The Present


I approach the fuel depot with caution. If you’ve operated a depot through The Blink event and survived, you know what you’re doing. It also means you have contacts, contacts through time and space. If you have these, then you know what I am. And if you know that, it’s you who should be cautious.

A gun turret sways its way across the thick compound wall. Its beady red eye flares, and twin targeting spots appear on my chest. Standard protocol. Good protocol. I’m not overly impressed, but it’s good to see their operational capability. I’m identified.

“What do you want, Keeper?” growls a harsh, metallic voice.

It isn’t a question; it’s a challenge. The individual at the other end of the gun-rig is probably a kid, a teenager most likely. They take their responsibilities seriously.

It was the kids who adapted the fastest to the crap that happened in the aftermath of The Blink. They have the gaming and tech skills to operate this quasi-future-weapons shit. However, their greatest asset to the community is a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later. The adults value this clarity and effortless decision-making. The lack of conscience that goes along with this is of occasional concern. But those problems can be dealt with later. Survival now is the key.

“Fuel. Scan me,” I answer.

I’ve already turned off my motorbike’s overdeveloped survival mechanism. Scanning my ride or me without the primary defenses shut down automatically results in a crater the size of a basketball court appearing at the source of the scan. Everyone knows this. The Keepers make sure of it.

The gun barrel droops like an old man’s erection, and a white light blinks on. The light dances across the bar code embedded in my body armor. There’s a pause—again, protocol—and then the heavy outer gate slides open. Bar code accepted. It’s the smart choice. If the right choice hadn’t been made, I would’ve blown a hole right through the front gate. I have my own form of protocol.

I notch the heavy bike into gear, and it burbles forward. The motorbike’s a beast: a semiautonomous piece of machinery that’s designed to blend in with whatever era we cascade into. At the moment, it’s an over-engineered, black muscle bike. I love it.

In other eras, it takes on different forms; it even turned into a bizarre bio horse when I had to deal with a pack of marauding Mongols down the line. It fooled no one. Everyone knew I was a Keeper, but the bike changed anyway. It’s part of the rules.

The makers of these killing platforms, the Deacons, insist that our level of weaponry be only one or two generations ahead of the time in which we find ourselves. The idea is to preserve parity in terms of weapons capability. If I go down, the Deacons don’t want advanced tech introduced into the wrong time. This works fine when going back in time, but it’s a bitch moving forward. Much beyond the 26th century, and I need to have my partner with me, or I’d  get smoked.

I tweak the throttle, and the bike rolls through the outer gate and into the interior kill zone. Any well-established fuel depot has a primary kill zone between the inner and outer gates. This one’s seen recent use. The shiny scars on the inside walls indicate that one of the trigger-happy teenagers had let loose when confronted with a problem too complex to comprehend. I bet the kid’s parents are proud.

I swing my leg over the bike and stretch. Transtemporal travel, or cascading, as it’s commonly called, not only gives your head a tweak, it also plays hell with the spine. TI approach the fuel depot with caution. If you’ve operated a depot through The Blink event and survived, you know what you’re doing. It also means you have contacts, contacts through time and space. If you have these, then you know what I am. And if you know that, it’s you who should be cautious.

A gun turret sways its way across the thick compound wall. Its beady red eye flares, and twin targeting spots appear on my chest. Standard protocol. Good protocol. I’m not overly impressed, but it’s good to see their operational capability. I’m identified.

“What do you want, Keeper?” growls a harsh, metallic voice.

It isn’t a question; it’s a challenge. The individual at the other end of the gun-rig is probably a kid, a teenager most likely. They take their responsibilities seriously.

It was the kids who adapted the fastest to the crap that happened in the aftermath of The Blink. They have the gaming and tech skills to operate this quasi-future-weapons shit. However, their greatest asset to the community is a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later. The adults value this clarity and effortless decision-making. The lack of conscience that goes along with this is of occasional concern. But those problems can be dealt with later. Survival now is the key.

“Fuel. Scan me,” I answer.

I’ve already turned off my motorbike’s overdeveloped survival mechanism. Scanning my ride or me without the primary defenses shut down automatically results in a crater the size of a basketball court appearing at the source of the scan. Everyone knows this. The Keepers make sure of it.

The gun barrel droops like an old man’s erection, and a white light blinks on. The light dances across the bar code embedded in my body armor. There’s a pause—again, protocol—and then the heavy outer gate slides open. Bar code accepted. It’s the smart choice. If the right choice hadn’t been made, I would’ve blown a hole right through the front gate. I have my own form of protocol.

I notch the heavy bike into gear, and it burbles forward. The motorbike’s a beast: a semiautonomous piece of machinery that’s designed to blend in with whatever era we cascade into. At the moment, it’s an over-engineered black muscle bike. I love it.

In other eras, it takes on different forms; it even turned into a bizarre bio horse when I had to deal with a pack of marauding Mongols down the line. It fooled no one. Everyone knew I was a Keeper, but the bike changed anyway. It’s part of the rules.

The makers of these killing platforms, the Deacons, insist that our level of weaponry be only one or two generations ahead of the time in which we find ourselves. The idea is to preserve parity in terms of weapons capability. If I go down, the Deacons don’t want advanced tech introduced into the wrong time. This works fine when going back in time, but it’s a bitch moving forward. Much beyond the 26th century, and I need to have my partner with me, or I could get smoked.

I tweak the throttle, and the bike rolls through the outer gate and into the interior kill zone. Any well-established fuel depot has a primary kill zone between the inner and outer gates. This one’s seen recent use. The shiny scars on the inside walls indicate that one of the trigger-happy teenagers had let loose when confronted with a problem too complex to comprehend. I bet the kid’s parents are proud.

I swing my leg over the bike and stretch. Transtemporal travel, or cascading, as it’s commonly called, not only gives your head a tweak, it also plays hell with the spine. That, and I really want a drink, like right now. I stride up to the inner door and bang on the outside with my ultra-enamel glove. It rings loud off the steel.

“Hold your damn horses, Keeper,” swears an older voice. “You’re inside. You’ll get a drink soon enough.”

I smile. My reputation precedes me.hat, and I really want a drink, like right now. I stride up to the inner door and bang on the outside with my ultra-enamel glove. It rings loud off the steel.

“Hold your damn horses, Keeper,” swears an older voice. “You’re inside. You’ll get a drink soon enough.”

I smile. My reputation precedes me.


Episode 1 Scene 5 >


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