Lonely Divide

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Chapter 25

Chapter 10.1

Solitary Adventure

You are Clayton, having just stepped through a wobbly portal that morning, ready to *ugh* write the report for what happened in Syria.

You knock on Sargent Draughon's door and hear "come in" from inside, and step through. He's there typing away at his computer, because one third of the military is waiting around, one quarter is terrifying violence, and the rest is paperwork.

"Ah, Clayton, yes, come in. Just getting back?"

"Yes sir," you answer. "I'll be writing my report and submitting it shortly but I just wanted to let you know my other team members have stayed behind briefly to take care of some personal business. Of course if there's another mission right away I'll call them immediately."

He waves it off. "They can raise skills anywhere, let them have their fun, if it's fun they're having?"

"No sir, something about some marine life problem our fairy found out about. It's underwater, anyway, which makes me more then a little nervous." You lift a metal arm and point to your metal skull.

"Yes, I appreciate that. So much the better then, getting some extra XP in on a side quest, nothing wrong with that. Nice work, by the way, those thugs you brought in have been processed." He shakes head head. "Imagine hiring hit-men to kill you, and then us to protect you, all for a plot to become president. Devious."

"Yes sir."

"Thank you for coming to inform me, you're dismissed."

"Thank you sir."

You smartly turn and walk out of the room, wondering what to do now. You didn't think about that, they'll be getting some extra XP most likely, while you'll cool your heels back here. Lucky jerks. Oh well. No XP to be gained here, and you don't even have enough to raise your pistol skill again so there's no point in going to the range. It's early anyway. Guess you might as well hook into your personal terminal in your room, and write that report. Sometimes being a cyborg is quite convenient, you can just plug in and think the words into a word processor, forget all this typing nonsense lesser people had to struggle with. You can even attach video clips of key moments, your eyes being cameras, after all. Guess that's why the group picked you to do the reports. You suppose Jake could have done it, but you wouldn't trust Jaden to do it, and Rose? You chuckle. It would take her an hour to write a paragraph. Still, you don't mind it, and head down to your room to get it done so you can at least have the afternoon off. You pull your badge out of your inventory and touch it to the panel next to the door then glance to make sure no one is watching. With your other hand you punch in your code, what was it again? Oh yeah: Full4utt0Mags4L1f3. Of course most people use the badge and a handprint, or badge and eye scan, but that's not really possible for you, so you need to use a ridiculous password to open your door. You're all on the same team here, so why that's even necessary is beyond you, but orders are orders. Of course, getting inside the building requires much more stringent measures, plus physical guards, so this "lesser" secured area requires only two things, rather then the three for the gate or four at really secure points. The lock opens and you twist the knob to open the door, giving it a shove to move it.

Usually this sort of minutia is pointless, but from outside your body the Observer is noticing it because at that instant, a spell goes off, and both you (as Clayton) and the spell roll initiative, to see if you can do something before the spell fully takes effect. Luckily for you, enough of your body is still human that you can spend energy on REFlexes to boost your initiative, which you do, getting a 20. The spell rolls a 15, its maximum, so you have just enough time to send your ID badge whirling gracefully through the air and down the hall with a toss, before you-

What?

Oh, you're wondering how this magic is going to work on you? With you being all beefy and cyborged up as you are? You thought you were basically immune to magical effects, did you? Well we can just pause the action for a moment, don't worry, you'll be fine, just stand there and I'll explain it to you.

The spell you are about to be engulfed in is Teleportation Sphere and I quote: "If possible, unwilling targets may dodge out of the area, but otherwise receive no resistance." The area is ten meters around you, much more then the 1/4 speed dodge you might otherwise attempt, so your dodge would be useless.

"But wait", you cry, cracking open a conveniently located rulebook of your own: "A cyborg imposes a penalty to all ESP and MAG skill rolls" see it says ALL right there!

Ah, but in this case, the wizard who created this cunning little trap rolled a 20 by taking extra time and using an enhancer, because whoever it is doesn't mess around and knows full well you're a cyborg, so there. So even if it were the case you got a resistance against this particular spell, it wouldn't help you in any case.

"Oh," you say, defeated. "I guess that's it then."

Obviously, none of that actually happened, so we'll just pick up where we left off, shall we? Ahem- down the hall with a toss, before you are whisked away to parts unknown, and find yourself standing in darkness.

You are Clayton. You are not forgetful. You have no problem killing scumbags that deserve it, unlike cute little fairies who are detached from the way the real world works. You remember your arms being ruined by gangers, after they held you down and watched what they did to your mother. You remember finding yourself in the hospital, near death, ready to give up. You remember your father, all the more terrible in his fury because it was contained, ready to lance out like a laser beam to burn those responsible. You remember the surgeries that replaced your arms with these mechanical ones, and having to learn how to do everything again with them. You remember every moment, and you have trained long and hard to never be helpless again. You remember Belquis, the little girl frozen in ice, and the story she told you about finding herself in a dark room, where ice crept up upon her and took away her light. You remember, and you do what any PC would do in your situation- spend a split second checking for cards, yup, a very nice assortment, thank you very much Narrator, and quick draw your guns to start tearing this place apart with the majestic song of your soul- violence.

Sadly, even in your controlled rage, you must obey the laws of the world, and what you don't know is that a wizard is in this darkened space with you, and has been for some time, awaiting someone to come. You both roll initiative, and unluckily, the wizard wins, but to your advantage, your opponent does not know that it's you. The wizard begins casting the ice spell that will lock you away, taking the full time just in case. Perhaps this person is a little over confident in the preparations they have made? In any case, the spell will go off on delay 7, and a magical circle surrounds you.

You quick draw your weapons, getting a seventeen and cutting your delay by 6, enough to get them in your hands instantly and still start shooting 'em up, pow-pow, in this action. You do so.

"I declare," you begin. "Card 7." A card with Glasses Guy appears, in the "nice guy" pose, and you declare a called shot to your opponent's body, a two round burst. You want to hurt them, but not enough to kill, because you want some answers. In this timeless space you think you see the figure's lush, red lips twist into a slight smile, but of course that's impossible because they are invisible. The card overrides that, of course, and right now you, Clayton, can do anything. But of course you're not done yet: "I declare card 10," and now you imagine a look of horror take the place of the sneer as you have played your cards right and are about to bypass the Invulnerability your invisible opponent has no doubt worked so hard to cultivate.

You orient on the invisible figure thanks to card 7, and two bullets bark out of your right gun, striking the figure in the chest.

The two bullets do 6 and 8 damage, respectively, causing enough damage to incapacitate the wizard instantly. This of course makes them lose the spell they were casting, the same ice magic that trapped poor Belquis. This causes the figure to be encased in ice instead, and you can't help but think how odd that is, given it wasn't completely cast yet, so how could the magical energies know what to do? However the thought has barely crossed your mind when the figure is lit by another circle of magic, and vanishes.

"Yeah, you better run!" you shout, wondering how the wizard triggered any magic encased in ice like that, but then you don't know about Spell Trigger, do you? No you don't. What you do know is you have to get out of this dark room, and somehow let NPC-PS know you're in trouble.

What you don't know is that already, a timer has begun counting down in a computer back at the NPC-PS base that, when it reaches a certain number of seconds, will trigger a level 5 alarm that a door has been left open, and flag it for investigation by a surveillance agent installed in the complex's computers. Some seconds after that, the alarm will be upgraded to level 3 and a human will be dispatched, ultimately finding your Ident card dejectedly abandoned and calling in a possible level 2 alert. You don't know this, because you are a PC and such procedures are beneath you. I mean, right?

You do know you're not getting a GPS signal, so you're not sure where you are, and you have no special eye modifications so you can't see in the dark. You wish now that you had spent some of that extra $4,000 a month you have coming on some more cybernetics. Oh well. You try your cell phone, but it's jammed or something, you've got no signal. You play it around the room and the glow shows a door in one wall, so you move off to one side and try the handle. Locked. You can see it's just a regular wooden door, so you stand out of the way of it and put a couple of shots through it into the space beyond. You have, you estimate, at least a hundred bullets in your "bullet crate" back at the base, and mentally count down to 93. It would be quite embarrassing to run out, you think. Oh sure, going through all 100 bullets in this situation might take some doing, but by the Narrator if that's what it requires, that's what you'll do, darn it!

Rather then waste bullets shooting wood that won't care one way or the other, you punch the door down, letting your armored hands do the talking. You then bust through it, rolling to the side and expecting to be shot at. You raise your hands to chest height and casually dispense a couple of bullets down the hallway by means of your guns, in case more invisible fiends lie in wait. (You count down to 90). No other shots ring out, in fact looking around the place seems deserted, making you wonder where they are and to get on with it already.

Looking around, you see some diffuse, grey light coming in through a busted out window, the right side of which is boarded up. Graffiti covers the walls and cobwebs and dust greet you as an old friend. Looking back it seems you were in some sort of closet, and have now busted into the main hallway for wherever it is you currently are. This is a more open area, leading to narrower hallways to your right and left with a series of doors on either side. Most of the doors have been broken down and you cautiously make you way down the hallway to the left and peer inside one. It seems to be an abandoned apartment complex of some kind, given the layout of the room you're peering into. You check several others, carefully inching your way down the hall, and it's the same basic layout for all the rooms you look into. Empty, dirty, and stinky. Apart from the disturbed dust leading to the closet you were in, this other hallway doesn't seem to have been used recently, so you wonder if it's better to make your way out this way, but decide against it. Your tracks are clearly visible on the floor, where going the other way they would be more confused, as the wizard you shot has clearly gone that way, and scuffed things up. You carefully walk backwards to try and minimize your footprints on your return journey, just in case. After walking up to a broken window, of course, making it seem like you got out that way, in case someone comes up after you.

Why you don't just go out that window is obvious, for one the rusty old fire escape which is half missing would never hold your weight, and if there are others here, you want to question them, and that means finding them. You head back the other way, staying low and keeping your guns ready. Heading over to the window you see there's a light drizzle going on here, and you're on the third floor of some kind of brick building. This appears to be the back, there's a one lane access road between the building and the telephone pole (whatever that is, certainly a relic of an earlier time that was never torn down) but no vehicles. Below you there's a similar three paned window, at least it would be if it wasn't boarded up on either side with a glass missing from the middle. You don't see anything to shoot at, so you move back into the building and down the right hallway, following the footprints to... an old bathroom. Super. Most of this room is smashed up, but one sink and toilet are intact, probably made so with magic, you guess even evil wizards needs to use the restroom. You shrug as you look at the paint splattered symbol, it was a woman's bathroom, long ago in history. Just the nearest one, you think, it probably doesn't mean anything.

With no tracks to further lead you, the story of this place becomes plain to you now: evil wizard teleports in, goes between room and bathroom, and waits for cunningly placed trap to go off, whisking unsuspecting person (you) into an icy doom. Either evil wizard looked into window to find the place, or used a fly spell to not disturb the dust, so that they could teleport in whenever they wanted. But how would Ice Clayton be carted out of here, you ask yourself. The little girl was put into a compartment, but you're a little big for that sort of thing. Could there be a vehicle somewhere with some clues in it? You notice a staircase going up, and see a door on the ceiling you could use to get to the roof, which you carefully take advantage of. Pushing it open a crack you feel the cool rain coming in, and wiggle your way out to stay as low as possible. You grab a loose brick and prop it open, not wanting to leave yourself totally exposed from that quarter but not wanting it to close behind you, either. You recheck your GPS, which is not working any better now then before, which you find to be rather odd, considering. Still no cell signal either, which begins to worry you a little. Now on the roof you see the structure has three sections, a small area with a peaked roof in front, this larger central area, and a smaller area which looks built out the back, possibly an addition. You head toward the back, and sure enough, there's a large truck there that looks like it might be refrigerated. It's probably rented, but if you can get the license number you could probably tell who rented it, at least a description, maybe. Your super zoom eyes are useless at this angle, you'll have to go down there in person, which is just fine with you.

You make your way back down to the third floor and find a staircase down to the second, moving as quietly as possible, for someone with a sneak skill. Then you remember your overconfidence weakness and forget about sneaking altogether. You can take anything they throw at you! Still, there's overconfidence and there's stupidity, so you glance around every corner in case there's someone else here.

There is.

You catch a glimpse of movement as you pass by an apartment door before you go flying, head first, into the wall. Luckily your head is armored, so you smash through the drywall easily and twist around, firing.

You get a pathetic 2 on your luck check to hit him, while he gets an 8, and scampers back away from the door as you wrench your head out of the wall. Your opponent must be an ESPer, you think, you didn't see any magic circle, you just went flying. You see the door has a crack in it, probably how he saw you, so you put one of your guns away and smash it down with a metal fist, rolling initiative as you step into the room.

You go first, scanning the room for the individual. Oddly he's just standing there, and seems shocked when you turn your head and look at him, rolling a 9 on your perception check to notice him through his Masking attempt. You take a deferred delay to aim at his body, and say "Don't move."

"Put that gun down and come with me, there's no reason for violence," he says, making your brain tingle a little with Compulsion, but being totally ineffective.

"Sure," you say, dropping the gun and making him smile. You take a few steps towards him, making him think he's in control. When you're close enough you punch him in the head, holding back by -3 to make sure you don't kill him by accident. Naturally he tries to dodge, and you get a 12, which misses him as he rolls a 15.

"Crap!" he shouts, and concentrates. You roll opposed Close/ESPer Combat checks, he gets a 9 and you get a 14, so you know you're going to act on the same segment. You hold, wondering what he's going to do, and now that he sees you clearly and realizes how much cybernetics you have, he launches part of the door at your leg, hoping to trip you up. Sadly, he gets a 9, meaning he can lift 100g, and the Narrator spends card 25, but he then gets a 7, which is even worse. The piece of door stays where is it. As you see nothing happen, you assume he tried something which failed because of your implants, and go ahead with trying to clock him in the kisser again.

Aarg, you think, as he dodges with a 19. He's using energy, must be! You use an off hand action to pistol whip him, thanking the Narrator for giving you ambidexterity so you're not at a further penalty. You don't hold back this time, your Bad Tempered is starting to show, this guy is annoying you!

Again, he rolls higher then you, not being able to spend energy on your arms is really hampering you right now, but you can clearly see he's on the defensive now, and won't act again until after you do, so you swing again. You just barely miss him, and declare card 2, getting a plus 2 bonus, but the Narrator uses his card 24 to re-roll the dodge, getting even higher this time.

"Not very good at this, are you?" asks the thug, moving away from you and enraging you a little more. You can see he's breathing heavily, so he can't have much energy left, you hope.

He doesn't need much for his next maneuver, which is to use Electrokinesis to stun you, hitting your left arm with a bolt of conjured lightning, and sprawling you to the ground in shock. You're basically helpless, but you have one more ace up your sleeve.

"I declare," you announce mentally, "Card 42." As your head clears you realize the man has run away, probably that was the last of his energy, and the card surely made something good happen for you, so you stagger to your feet. You retrieve your gun and check yourself over, you'll have to have some work done on your arm, but not that much, thank the Narrator. The rest of you is a bit sore, but you're alive, which is what counts. You doubt there's any more goons around, but you keep your gun out just in case.

Making your way down to the first floor, you sincerely hope there's just some kind of inscribed spell on this place that's messing up your GPS and cell phone, and once away from it you can call NPC-PS, tell them where you are, and get picked up again. Probably something technological though, as your GPS is integrated into your head, meaning your bonus to resist magical stuff should work for it. You cock your head curiously as you look out the hole where the window glass would be in the front door. Are there flashing lights out there? You stick your head out, and six uniformed officers grab guns and point them in your general direction.

"Come out with your hands up!" one shouts. "Drop all weapons!"

It seems the Narrator wishes to make your life more interesting, and has played his final card, number 29, as a Disaster Strikes, so you can get some more XP. Wasn't that nice of him?

"I'm Clayton Garlington, NPC-PS," you shout out to them. "I'll throw you my badge, or you can call NPC-PS yourself."

Naturally, acting under the influence of the card, they do not believe you.

"We have the place surrounded," the officer continues. "Come out with your hands up or we will open fire!"

You might as well do it, you think, they'll see who you are soon enough. You put your gun into your inventory, doubting any of these jokers are PCs, and only a PC can see through to another PCs inventory.

"I'm coming out!" you shout.

You get thrown on the ground and handcuffed, then roughly pushed up against the wall and frisked. Naturally they don't find anything.

"I'm NPC-PS," you repeat again. "I can show you my badge if you'd like."

"Where's your uniform then?" asks the officer close to you.

"I just came back from a mission and got teleported here," you try to explain.

"I'm sure you won't mind coming down to the station with us then and sorting this all out," says the man. "There was a report of gunfire in this area, so we have to follow procedure."

"Fine," you say, defeated. "Let's just get it over with."

They stuff you in the back of a police car and disappear inside the building, probably looking for other people to needlessly inconvenience. Finally they come out and start driving, which is when your fellow NPC-PS members cast a certain Venus spell, Telesummon, to get you back. As you are now outside the sphere of protection put on the building you go from cruising at 35 miles an hour comfortably strapped into a car back onto the base, where you instantly find yourself being flung through the air at 35 miles an hour without benefit of said car. Needless to say, you crash into someone quite violently and keep going, smashing into a wall as well, where you are utterly knocked out.

It just wasn't your day, was it?

You do get 7 XP for being alone through that adventure, plus the 3 for the Disaster Strikes, which is something, right? Right?

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