THE TECHNORUNNER: A Songs of the Ancients Short Story

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The last "maverick" roams a lifeless desert, filled with monsters of all kinds. (First Tale in Songs of the Ancients)

Scifi / Fantasy
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The Outlands

Impenetrable mist prolonged in the black and white world for what eyes could not have seen or reached, beyond the horizons of the clouded mountains far in the distance.

The sky, fogged by a myriad of clouds, obscured the hour of which the day had lied in, one would dawn on them it was an hour between civil and nautical twilight, as the environment was deprived of almost any color.

The absolute absence of sound, silence, loomed in the area as if the world had deafened entirely.

Natural selection had died down three centuries ago leaving demise and empty so-called forests in place, trees of nature no longer existed. Remains of water resided in sandless deserts, leaving only traces of muddy grounds. The wind, which passed by around every hour and would then disintegrate along the air, blew coils of dust, the only remaining one, beneath the ground.

This was the Outlands, the colorless lands that stood as the outskirts of many closed cities, they were the lands decimated in desolation after the Great War, the war that spanned decades and continued to imbue suffering, despite its closure, for two and a half centuries. Those who prevailed formed their own societies within closed walls and preserved cities, filling ignorance about this outside world to the people within, but only those who were rejected by said societies were ostracized to the Outlands, never to be seen or remembered again by those within the walls.

The gravel resonated in the dead environment that was the Outlands, emerging as the only sound of mortality left.

*patter* *rustle* *patter*

The sound of the rustling gravel echoed once again, and again, and again; it continued endlessly until the density of the mist was cleared and the silence was completely obliterated, vacating the ambience of the despairing world to the only surviving resonance, the continuous rustle were footsteps; footsteps that had clearly belonged to a living being, more precisely, a human. Hope was not lost, it roamed in the form of the technorunner, one of the few nomads who dare wander the rest of these white deserts.

Nowadays, lepers in the Outlands would form their own communities along with others like them, to stay sharp for one another and increase their chances of survival. But nomads... they weren’t groups that constantly moved around, they were individuals; individuals that were also exiled from the rejected communities. The technorunner, however, was neither of those, he was a man of many mysteries, capable enough to fight off the horrors that stood vaguely in these lands. Some viewed him as a mercenary, others as a part of city gang members who would often gain access to the Outlands. However, the most common belief about him was simply that he was a technorunner, technorunners were scrap collectors first and foremost, and they weren’t talked about that much until he came to the world.

Nothing about him was true; yet nothing was a lie.

The technorunner was wrapped entirely in a colorless form of fabric, closer to that of a coat, underneath was a dark jacket contrived of waxed cotton vaguely shielding his plain grey tee-shirt, along with his light armor vest and a revolver gun — a far cry from the highly advanced energy weapons of the new age — counting only as an emergency weapon, for he had a golden magnum revolver and a special shotgun strapped to both his belt and back. A black half-mask laid on his face, concealing everything about his identity but his eyes, his blue eyes; rugged boots muffled up at his feet, the same boots that resurfaced the sound of hope, false hope, he would think.

Tied to his belt, was an absolutely out of place device, a tape recorder, a device which ceased existence centuries ago, yet, underneath the rumble and specks of dust were where it was found.

A few minutes ago, the technorunner danced with the chants that echoed in the small set of plugs strapped to each of his ears, he was in complete disconnect from the dead world, forgetting about the environment he laid in. It was the first time the technorunner had heard such music, yet it felt natural to dance with, the technorunner couldn’t have thought he would make such an interesting discovery in this lost world. The technorunner did not care for anything then. The music device he had carried brought him so much joy, he never thought he could have had in such circumstances, than any of his gadgets could have done, after all, all his gadgets were for pure survival, not entertainment — even modern entertainment had become dull.

But those few minutes of joy were gone now, the old recorder was over three millennia and a century-old — just as old as every ruin in the world — and probably still stood in these times as only a lost antique, for the music had died down not shortly after the first song, turning into almost demonic chanting. The technorunner was ignorant on how to fix it, so all he did was forget about it like everything else and marched on forward with his path for what seemed like hours.

Querying what lied in the sky, beyond the clouds, the technorunner had pulled an Astreithx Vizor from their bag, a two-palm size device capable of celestial deciphering, in short, it can determine whether the sun or moon was up in the concealed sky — determining day and night. The technorunner held the vizor in his hands against the sky, the screen was packed entirely in a grid form, pixelated droplets started forming, geometrical shapes emerged in loops, as the device scanned the stratosphere. A triangular shape shifted in the center, revealing a pixelated image of the sun, which seemed to have been shining brightly, the day was still far from over, or perhaps it had begun, and dawn was just a few hours ago, who knows?

A droplet of water slid across the technorunner’s face, he wondered where it had come from, but another followed, and like a whirlwind, a series of droplets sank the environment, and the mist was cleared evidently. Rain dropped down, as the technorunner dropped their vizor back at full tilt, and continued onward, he needed to find harbour soon, the hood from his coat wasn’t a permanent cover from the rain.

A small cave-like bolthole lied a few feet away, after an hour of endless wandering, the technorunner had felt his legs trembling, he was beyond exhausted.

The technorunner reached the shelter, and collapsed on the dirt with all speed. He righted himself, as he was situated in an almost comfortable position, he stretched his leg, and a sharp pain began to levitate from within his knees.

Finally… rest.

The technorunner wished for the removal of the attire he had been stuck in for countless hours, it was hard enough to stand still in, let alone sleep in, the junky attire was all he had.

As the technorunner sat in an almost upright position, he gazed at the white desert afar, behind the mountains, laid large structural monuments — almost resembling towers. The technorunner raised both his hands against the view, as he fixed his fingers to a portrait shape, this would make a stunning picture, he had thought, but not for himself, the technorunner had no interest in art whatsoever, the thought was for someone he had known a long time ago. The technorunner was filled with apathy, he sat silently, as the rain covered his secret bolthole.

The technorunner, who was still wearing the set of plugs attached to the tape recorder, felt a sharp pain crossing through his head, precisely, the sound of a signal jam stung his ears. He was quick to remove it, throwing it away on the side. That’s when he heard it, the sound of turbine rumbling a short distance away, a sound simulating a light jet rumble. Those were pods, search pods, roaming the inclement atmosphere, scanning it with care. The technorunner could do nothing but only hear the pods’ grumbling drone movement and watch their colorful scanners. He immediately pulled out a large synthetic bag; large enough to fit a body inside, and so he did, the technorunner placed himself inside the bag, and zipped it closed.

Once inside, he dragged a circular device out of his pocket, and placed his fingers on it, as he began rotating it by degrees, the temperature inside the bag steadily decreased, and the coldness swept through the entire bag. The technorunner lied inside the temperature lowered bag, allowing him to blend in with the already cold environment he had laid in, fooling the search pods of his non-existence.

The technorunner waited, he could not see the outside, he only relied on his hearing, so he listened closely for the rumbling sounds as they moved back and forth. A few minutes had passed, with the sounds still continuing, the technorunner started getting even colder than before, any more and he might have frozen to death, the pods began drifting away along with the wind until their movement was no longer perceptible.

The technorunner dashed his head straight away out of the bag and rotated his device backward, increasing the temperature of the bag he was wrapped in. He felt comfort and a sense of relief seeping back into his body.

The technorunner sat inside the bag, crossed legs, and wondered if it was safe for him to sleep and rest since the time of day made no difference anymore. After placing back the circular device, he took off his mask, laid his head on the ground, and tried his best to drift off to slumber, as the curtains of his eyelids rolled down, clouding over the screen perfectly.

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