Horizon stood up straight and concentrated on her enhanced senses, her augmented brain took in sounds, smells, vibrations, and magnetic signatures and compiled them into a three-dimensional map updated continually in real time. She couldn’t perceive any sign of more SWAT mechs anywhere near the warehouse, there were plenty of people walking about outside, heading back to work after the end of the long night. But they were alone in the warehouse, not one thing breathed in the entire building save for Horizon and Shawn.
Once the vole had healed enough to walk he staggered over to the container full of computers that Qali had shown them. “Oh good, it’s intact,” Shawn bent down to inspect the gold quantum core, right where Horizon had left it. The other machines had not fared so well, shards of plastic and silicon littered the floor and evaporating coolant billowed out of bullet holes.
Horizon fought back the urge to punch Shawn and smash the core, Jenny was gone thanks to this little venture, was that little ball and the data inside really worth everything that had just happened? But there wouldn’t be any point to smashing their prize after all they’d done to get it. She sighed and addressed Shawn, “let’s just go find the power lifters and get that thing out of here.”
“There are two security exo-suits lying unused just a few aisles down,” Samantha whispered to Horizon.
Continue reading “Horizon: Rebuilt Ch. 11” →
Horizon followed Mr. Qali into the strange building, she kept her eyes peeled for any signs of treachery ahead of her friends. The fox led them into a warehouse filled with assorted crates on shelves seven stories high. The augmented raccoon listened for threats hidden behind shelves, sniffed for the scents of other parahumans. She heard the rumbling of ventilation systems and the creaking of overloaded shelves, smelled machine oils, fox and bear and other species, but only the scents of Qali and his goons were still fresh. She stole a glance back at Jenny and Shawn, the squirrel keeping a hand on her dart gun while the vole cradled his rapidly healing fist.
She suspected that she should be more concerned about his recovery, but for the time being she was more concerned with making sure they weren’t ambushed again. For now Mr. Qali led them through a winding maze of shelves. Horizon made a map in her head of the warehouse as she went along, cataloging the different crates and shelves that they passed. At one point her mental map indicated that they had walked in an elaborate circle and they were going down the aisle they’d entered through. She poked the fox in the shoulder, “no more games.”
Continue reading “Horizon: Rebuilt ch.10” →
Snow was a regular occurrence on Surtr, once a month the frigid moon would slip behind the gas giant Surt and the whole moon would be hidden from the sun for a full day before its orbit would take it back towards the light. When the long night came around, most people spent as little time as possible outdoors, some even slept through the whole rotation, if their jobs allowed. On this particular long night Horizon stalked the streets of Surtr City in her disguise as an arctic fox, wearing a long orange coat over her FedTech jumpsuit. Between the suit and her augmentations the cold was practically meaningless to her, but the coat made her look like any other late-shift worker staggering home through the snow.
As she passed by buildings and alleyways her augmented eyes snapped from side to side, seeing both visible and infrared light and saving images of anything that seemed strange. As she strode on, Sam whispered analyses of the images into her ear. “Oddly shaped trash bag, vagrant in sleeping bag, hopefully hibernating, an after-market heating unit bolted awkwardly to the wall, a garbage fire with two people huddled next to it, another weird garbage bag, wait…” One of the images flashed in Horizon’s vision, a shadowy outline in the rough shape of a parahuman. The view switched to thermal and Horizon paused mid-step, the outline shown as even colder than its surroundings.
Continue reading “Horizon: Rebuilt, Ch. 9” →
Horizon held her hands under a faucet streaming frigid water over the bizarre object that had both caused her immense trouble and saved her life multiple times. She stopped the stream for a moment to examine it again. It was a perfectly smooth metallic sphere with no ports, no indicator lights, nothing to indicate what was inside, even the warning “tell no one!” that had been written on it when she first found it in her pocket had washed away. She held it between thumb and forefinger up to her eyeline and gazed over it again. Are you sure about this?
Samantha appeared in the mirror next to the raccoon’s reflection, she nodded at the sphere she held. “Based on all the data I’ve gathered; I’d say there’s at least an 86% chance that is a custom-built containment unit for a gravitational micro-singularity.”
The raccoon tried to recall the last time she’d seen a container for a microscopic black hole, that time it had been a small disc. She had felt a weight to it then, a literal gravity pulling her towards the device. Horizon imagined she could feel that now, a pit in her stomach and a burn in her throat. She tried to find a seam where the sphere could have been placed around such a disc but found nothing. How did it do those things at the factory? She asked.
Continue reading “Horizon: Rebuilt, Ch. 8” →
Horizon ducked just in time for the claw aimed at her visor to graze the top of her helmet instead. The drone tried to pull back the claw for another strike, but it stuck in the helmet’s gel layer and pulled her head with it. Aggravated the raccoon grabbed the clasps holding her helmet on and released them, freeing her head as the drone tried to shake the helmet off. She quickly assessed her situation; her legs were straightened out but still in agonizing pain. Horizon decided that she could ignore the pain if it meant greater mobility and started to rise, only for the drone to raise another spiked leg to strike at her stomach.
Time slowed again as the spike descended, inching closer and closer while her body sluggishly tried to dodge. Horizon felt her stomach sink in terror as the drone’s attack… swerved to her left?
Continue reading “Horizon: Rebuilt Ch. 7” →
Three days after the rig explosions Horizon raced through a burning factory complex. One of Surtr’s regular moonquakes had finally overwhelmed the under-maintained safety systems of a fifty-year old chemical plant along the equator. Even with her FedTech environment suit and helmet the fumes from the open chemical vats, heat from the flames, and falling girders would tax her regenerative abilities, the rest of the Friendly Society didn’t dare to come within half a kilometer of the facility. One hoped that was far enough that whatever might be attempting to kill her wouldn’t splash over onto them.
Horizon leapt over a fallen beam blocking her path, glowing red with heat from the fires, and landed on a still-intact wall. Her metallic claws dug into the concrete of the wall as she scrambled up to a catwalk that had thus far escaped the quake and flame. So far, she had found no survivors, just corpses, most of them partially dissolved in spilled chemicals or incinerated by the flames. However, she couldn’t take the chance that there might still be someone still alive and trapped in the building.
Continue reading “Horizon: Rebuilt Ch. 6” →
“So,” Jenny thought out loud as she and Horizon left the canteen. “In order to figure out what all is going on in your head, you need to kill an asshole oligarch?”
“No,” Horizon replied. “If he’s still alive I won’t be able to kill him because my implants would recognize him as my commanding officer and stop me.”
The squirrel paused to consider her statement. “Wait, if they won’t allow you to harm your commanding officer than how did you manage to set off that bomb?”
Before Horizon could answer an angry male ermine in a hospital gown rounded a corner and spotted them. “Hey, you!” he shouted and held up a plastic-covered hand towards Horizon. “Look at what you did to me!”
Continue reading “Horizon: Rebuilt Ch. 5” →
After two and a half more hours the leukosynths had sufficiently patched up Horizon’s digestive system that her medical systems gave her the all clear to ingest something. It was well after most of the people at the Friendly Society had taken their meals, but that suited her. She usually preferred to eat alone anyways, too many people gave odd looks at the large plates she tended to pile up, especially if they were aware of her augmentations.
Jenny accompanied her to the canteen and started ordering several hot meat pies and cold teas from the vending machines, as well as a mineral shake that Horizon grudgingly accepted after mixing in a large dose of sugar and smokeweed powder. When they sat down Horizon immediately grabbed a pie before the squirrel tried to start a conversation, “so, has Sam said anything else?”
Horizon finished the pie in three large bites before answering her, “not really. I tasked her with analyzing my systems before I went to talk with the coordinators.” It was only a small lie, she told herself. That thing had been inside her long enough that she barely thought of it as anything but another FedTech implant.
Continue reading “Horizon: Rebuilt Ch. 4” →
The flight back to the base was subdued, slowed by the damaged aircraft. By the time they arrived Bill, and three of the survivors they’d rescued, had expired. Jenny, one of the few members of the Friendly Society who was privy to Horizon’s identity and had medical qualifications, came to extract her from the cockpit of the drone carrier.
The arctic squirrel tugged at the shrapnel in Horizon’s stomach with a pneumatic clasp while the raccoon gritted her teeth and tried to ignore the pain. Blood leaked out with each centimeter of metal that came out, only to flow back up the spar into the constantly re-opening wound. “I can’t believe I’m saying this hon, but your microbots are doing too good of a job.”
Horizon’s breath wheezed through her teeth, “just pull it out. They can handle the rest.”
Continue reading “Horizon: Rebuilt Chapter 3” →
Time slowed almost to a standstill, the drops of blood streaming out of Horizon’s stomach floated idly in the air. The raccoon’s mind raced as she frantically queried every status sensor she could find on the drone carrier, hearing naught for a painful eternity.
Slowly, the queries returned. The carrier’s autopilot had kicked in when the cockpit was breached, holding the aircraft in a holding pattern over the rig and locking the manual controls until the pilot switched them back on. In the cockpit camera’s view Bill’s head leaned to the side, the same spar that punctured Horizon’s abdomen jutted from the tern’s chest. Mercifully his suit’s biofeedback sensors indicated that he still had a heartbeat, but he was fading fast, likely in shock. “Bill!” Horizon shouted, to her own ears it sounded oddly low and elongated.
The carrier’s bodily integrity sensors fed information directly into her augmented brain, showing a diagram of the craft with orange areas where shrapnel and debris had struck and red where they’d broken through the skin. There was a leak in one of the fuel cells, she isolated it before the other cells could drain out through it, and there was a large hole in the cockpit and the pilot’s seat, with a smaller hole in the copilot’s seat behind it of course, but otherwise the craft was still flight worthy.
Continue reading “Horizon: Rebuilt Chapter 2” →