Author Topic: "Target Practice" - introductory fiction for an upcoming fan adventure series  (Read 890 times)

StarManta

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In the cloudy Seattle sky, something flickered. A flying drone grew larger and closer, its custom blue-green grenade launcher barrel bared. The barrel swung left, then right, aiming at the empty air, receiving uncertain commands from its master.

“There’s no time to second guess yourself, bud,” said a voice. The voice’s owner was frail, yet confident; he was a technomancer, and one who’d been running for quite some time. For all his time in the shadows, Lee kept a low profile; the few people who remembered him, did so by necessity – usually his necessity. The contact for which he was doing this favor was an exception to that rule.

“It’s not listening to where I tell it to go,” his student replied.

“Oh, it’s listening. You’re just not speaking its language.”

The drone began an uncontrolled leftward spin. “Bring it back, Gemini,” Lee instructed, resting a hand on Gemini’s temple, a calming technique he had learned from his own tutor. “Speak its language.” Gemini closed his eyes, trying to focus on keeping the drone stable. It calmed. Keeping the drone steady in the air wasn’t hard; even aiming and firing the weapon was easily done. But Gemini’s mind had to be in another world when he performed this particular task, and the commands of that world were rarely relayed to this one intact. Again, the drone shuddered and spun.

“Let’s see you do it,” Gemini rebuked, frustrated.  He threw Lee’s hand off his temple and shoved him back.

“I can’t do it, you know that,” Lee replied calmly. “You’re the only one. Try it again.”

Again Gemini took control of the drone, and again it yawed. Lee started to share Gemini’s frustrations. Perhaps it was time for a different tack. A harsher tone might yield results that patience could not.

“How fragging worthless are you?” Lee exclaimed, to Gemini’s shock. Lee was normally a calm, almost meek teacher. “You can’t even aim a gun, can you?”
Almost as if in answer, the drone’s launcher immediately pointed towards Lee and fired. The grenade struck Lee in the chest and detonated with a spark. A red-orange cloud engulfed the technomancer almost immediately.

Lee fell backwards out of the smoke cloud, coughing, his breath knocked out of him. Had that been a grenade full of anything but gas, he’d be strewn across the parking garage. These grenades had a particular purpose, however, and luckily, it had nothing to do with killing him. Alright, maybe making him angry wasn’t the right way for this. Lee was always a technomancer first, and a teacher fourth or fifth.

“Shit!” Gemini exclaimed. “I didn’t mean to actually shoot! Are you okay?”

“Look,” Lee choked out from the ground, hoarse, “I know the astral plane and this one don’t always get along, but you’re the only one that can touch both. Literally, the only person on the planet.”

“So I’ve heard,” Gemini said. Every day since you people found me, he added silently.

“So where’d the spirit go?” Lee said.

Gemini pointed. He could see it, clear as day, a beautiful flaming tiger visible only in the magical half of his mind, fleeing faster than anything living could. The spirit, a being of magic, could barely even see the nonliving drone that was meant to attack it. But when the grenade exploded, the blast – a dull cloud on the material plane – was bright as the sun on the astral, and a terrifying sight for the spirit. It had fled to the corner of the parking lot. When the two looked at the spirit, it decided this was not far enough, and the tiger bounded over the edge of the cement barrier.

“It’s gone,” Gemini reported.

“Well, what are we going to do about it? Where is it?” He grabbed Gemini and started pulling him, running in the direction Gemini had been pointing. When they got to the edge, the tiger spirit was standing there, looking up at them, wearily. Again, it started fleeing. Before Gemini even realized what he was doing, the second shot of the drone’s grenade launcher flew past their heads, directly towards the spirit. It exploded, drowning the tiger in its astral poison. The spirit seized, shook, and then shriveled, and disrupted back to the metaplane from which it came.

“I think you’ve become a linguist,” Lee said.

Deepeyes

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Interesting concept… More?