This is a continuation of: http://www.writersbeat.com/showthread.php?t=28631
Once again, thoughts and opinions are appreciated, even if you don't have much to say. Thanks a lot, guys.
I had decided on a few rules for myself after Graduation. Leave the apartment only to get food. Get as much food as possible when going out for food. Every other rule tended to follow that system. Stay safe, stay out of sight, don't attract attention.
You see, the world changed a lot when Tech showed up. Pretty much everyone has a little Tech and, if they don't, they learn how to tinker with things or how to shoot things real good. But some people have more than a little Tech. The guys who make statistical analyses these days claim that between five and ten percent of the total population are “Arch Techs.”
An Arch Tech is someone who can rip you to shreds without even trying. You know they're badasses by how they get the title of Arch Tech. To become an Arch Tech you have to put your name in the paper as “(name here): going through the Arch Tech trial.” Seems pretty simple, you just do that every day for a year. You don't even have to pay the paper, they'll do it free.
Except it's known to everyone that the Arch Techs themselves will pay pretty handsomely for the head of anyone who tried to become an Arch Tech. So, you get to endure a year of daily - if not hourly - interruption by gunfire, explosives, Tech, killer robots, anything and everything someone is willing to throw at you to get that money.
I had no plans to become an Arch Tech. It was unnecessary. Even if I was powerful, clever, cautious and gutsy enough to pull it off, I could live happily on what I already had. So, Will - apparently that was the bot's name - and I studied and trained together in relative secrecy for weeks.
“Ok, Willie, you've powered through all of the early lessons. Time to try some tougher stuff.” I grinned at him and looked to the bedroom which I kept pretty clear for this purpose.
I lifted one hand and five flames came from my fingertips. They hovered in the air at the center of the bedroom. I twiddled my fingers and the flames danced appropriately, weaving through the air and leaving glowing trails.
“It's easier to do when you connect the energy flow to your digits like this. But - ” He had just created twelve of the flames. Admittedly the flames were bright pink for some reason, but they were flames. There was also no clear flow of power to them.
“Will...They don't even look like they are being fed by you. How are you doing that?” I could normally see even the tiniest flows and there just wasn't
“Zak, you're leaning on the rules. There must be some source of power
. That is true, but your mentor made it seem like that meant that you had to be able to see it, too. Unnecessary.” He nodded his new head. We had made him look like an average human-ish male-ish bot, he wouldn't stand out in a crowd with his bland everything.
“But how do you make the flow disappear like that?”
“Just stop thinking it must be there. You just assume it is, so you are actually expending extra energy to make the flow visible.”
“And I was going to tell you the flows didn't have to connect to your fingers.”
The training went on like that for weeks. Everything I taught him changed to something new. Soon we were both finding out new things about Tech every day.
Suddenly, after three weeks, my whole apartment shook. Considering the grid of defenses I had around the whole thing, even blocking entrance through the electrical lines or the internet, that was quite impressive.
Both Will and I went to the window and saw a middle-aged man and Frank standing outside.
“Zak! Frank here says you have been locked up for three weeks, going nowhere!” The man yelling in at us was Charles, my mentor. He was actually an Arch Tech, as many mentors were. He wore the ridiculous gold robes of the Arch Tech. The robes, though silly, had also caused the street to completely clear out.
Charles whirled his hands in the air and the apartment shook again. If I didn't go out and fight him he'd just bring the place down on me. Though it looked like he was having trouble.
“I am waiting, Zak. Those are just warning shots. Come outside or that place will collapse on you.” The vein popping in his forehead told me that was all a lie. That meant maybe I could take him. But I didn't like the idea of going at him head-on.
“Hey, Will, throw a little something in there when the shit starts flying. That sound good to you?”
“Why should I?” The rebellion in his voice was something I had gotten used to, but it was so wrong
hearing it from a bot.
“Because if I die, you get to be a normal bot again until you find some other 'trustworthy' schmuck who will put up with you.” I walked to the door, put my hand against it and took a very deep breath.
“You know, Zak...Thanks for helping me.” Even though he was a bot, that still felt good to hear. Obviously I wasn't gonna tell him that, though.
“Yeah. Your turn to help me.” With that, I lowered the spells on my door and opened it.
“Frank says you are holed up with some bot. Is it a sex bot? I never thought you would fall into that
trap, my student.” The derision in that voice was nothing I had ever heard before. Charles hadn't been a nice, sweet mentor, but he had always been helpful.
I stayed silent, took my sunglasses off, and stared. He had masked his power to anyone looking through a HUD or anything like that. Without the sunglasses his robes glowed with the power he must've stored in them for this battle. His hands were full of green fire.
I immediately had a spell in mind. But with Will's help I had changed it quite significantly. As Charles' hands came up and the green fire hurtled at me, I used the spell. A simple shield, but we gave it some elasticity. I threw the shield up at the bottom of the stairs, about five feet ahead of me. It bent inwards as the fireballs hit it and then popped
back to its original form.
The fire nearly took Charles in the chest and face. He seemed impressed as he retook control of his spell, tossing it aside, then began to focus on something else. Unfortunately for him I had already cast my second spell. He began to take a step forward as electricity jumped from the lines above him towards his hand. The cement at his feet was all wet. He stumbled with a surprised look on his face.
The bolt of electricity slammed into Frank. Frank's glasses shot off of him and he sizzled. I winced at that. He wasn't a bad guy. I could feel bad about it later, Charles was standing back up. I grinned grimly and released the last part of the second spell and the cement around his feet solidified.
“I just want you to know, Charlie, that I'm not even trying. I bet you were planning to Release into Frank, too, just in case?”
“Well, Zak, looks like my training gave you just a little too much to work with. When did you think up the reflective shield?”
“It's not really reflective. Maybe one day you'll figure it out. Assuming I don't kill you.”
“You will not kill me, my student. You know that. But I obviously cannot kill you as easily as I had previously thought. You will have an interesting year ahead of you.” With that he disappeared. Well, he jumped into the electrical lines above him. Same difference.
I nearly jumped as Will walked past me to Frank and asked, “Is your mentor always so obnoxious?” I sighed and nodded while he checked Frank's pockets.
“I think we should go see what we can salvage from his lab, Zak.” He was already walking towards Frank's lab as he said it.
I locked down the apartment before following him. The walk to Frank's lab wasn't too long and the place was clearly shut down for the day. Will and I went around the side, into the shade between Frank's lab and the Chinese place next door. We both cloaked ourselves. We still hadn't quite perfected our new cloak spell so we used the original. The original couldn't block the sight of someone with Tech, but we didn't think that'd be an issue.
We walked back around the building and Will unlocked the door. An alarm buzzed quietly, but I silenced it fairly quickly with a little grid of energy. It would delay the response from the police by a few minutes, maybe.
There wasn't too terribly much we could take. Lots of little gadgets that could probably be used to power some Tech summoning or something, but not much else. We took all of the solid cash he had, but it was only a few hundred bucks. He probably had most of his money in electronic savings. The few things we got that were worthwhile were all of his little computers. Each one was the size of a small plate and nearly paper thin.
Could possibly find some information worth selling on there, or just worth knowing. Information sold damn well, especially if it was attached to a corporation. And I knew Frank did a little business with some bigwigs in one of them.
The computer desk I was at had a trash can beside it. I poured it out on the desk and mixed up all of the shredded paper. Maybe that'd make someone stop and think. We put all of the gadgets and mini-computers in the trash bag and got the hell out of there. Releasing our cloaks in an alley about a block down.
Looking back on it, Will and I have no idea why we didn't do anything about the dead body before going off on our merry way. You live and you learn, you know? New rule: hide dead bodies that you're responsible for, or seem responsible for, immediately. There was an ambulance and two cop cars in front of my house. Hell, I was so completely idiotic that I even walked up and asked an officer what was going on.
He grinned at me and called for 'Sarge.' Great, now I got to deal with 'Sarge.' Why was the guy called 'Sarge' always a fat asshole?
True to his name, his belly bulged out over his belt and he literally had a donut in his hand. No joke. I mean, you'd think you might try to avoid the stereotype just a little.
“So, you're the only Tech on the block and we find a body electrocuted right in front of your place of residence. Oh, and some cement that looks like it hardened around someone's feet who then somehow got out without breaking it. Does that sum it up?”
“You missed the melted trash cans over there. Those're from the fight, too.” Now, you might think I'm crazy, but why lie now? I was already screwed.
“Zak, is it? We'd charge you for this and maybe for whatever is in that trash bag there, but it's not worth our time. Just tell us who this guy was so we can go file the report.” He was grinning at me with such sadistic glee that I was suddenly a little scared. Not worth their time? What the hell was going on?
“Will there has the guy's ID card. Name was Frank. Worked on bots at a lab a few blocks down.” I waved in the general direction of Frank's lab. “Oh, and the trash bag is from his place.” I wanted to see the reaction.
“Don't worry, we'll pick it all up in a week or so.” That grin was not wavering.
“Fuck.” I pushed past him and all the other grinning cops, moved through the little taped-off area and opened my door. I let Will get in then I slammed it shut.
I put my sunglasses on and pulled up a few sites that had local news. One followed the happenings in Tech, the other in normal crimes or discoveries. I logged into the Tech site automatically and was given a little notification. “Thank you for choosing us to publish your ad!”
My name was on the list for the Arch Tech trials. I was probably dead in a week. We had to move, and damn quick. “Will, get your shit and I'll get mine. Just whatever you need. We're getting the fuck out.”
“Zak, I don't own anything.” He was forming a bad habit of making good points. I hurried around, grabbing up the book I wrote all of our studies and experiments down in and picking up a few enchanted gadgets or other things for working a bit of Tech.
Off into the wilderness with us.