Posted By: Musashi M.<email@example.com>
Date: 15 November 2000, 1:47 am
I've never really experienced anything like this before. I grew up on Jonesworld, where everything was cramped and crowded, dirty and ugly. The only clean things I ever saw were on the vid. Or the shiny black uniforms of the Shrubb Arcology Police Squad, who we lovingly called SAPS or the Death Squad. Deservedly cute nicknames for a bunch of big cuties. I never knew my parents, but I had family enough. My little brothers, Nacia and Tariq, were twins, and plenty of trouble. They took after me. My name's Dasan by the way; Dasan Trotter. Call me Das. Nas and Tariq were a couple years younger than me, but we did everything together. We ate together, when we had food. We robbed together, fought together, ran together. We probably would have dropped out of school together too, but Governor Shrubb had shut down our schools long before we were born anyway. My uncle Sal taught us though, and taught us well. I knew he wasn't my real uncle, because he was a white-skin, but he was a good uncle. He taught us to read and write, history, and all that shit. Plus he taught us about fighting. He was a revolutionary, or a wannabe anyway. He was always talking about taking out Shrubb, but we knew that was impossible. We were supposed to be his revolutionaries, but we were just a bunch of hoodlums. It's funny to think about, in kind of a sad way. The SAPS came for him when we were nine... he hid us, said they would take us too if they knew we were there. I guess it'd be better to use their other nickname for that episode. So then we had to live in the Condemned, where the structure of the arcology had partially collapsed from an asteroid collision and they'd moved out everyone who survived... which wasn't too big of a job. Of course now anyone had no place to live or needed to hide from the SAPS or whatever went there. It was a dangerous place.
We joined a gang, the Shadows or something. It was the only way we could survive in there. We warred all the time with the other gangs. It was stupid, pointless, and brutal. It got worse and worse as we got older, and we got worse and worse too. First it was knuckles, then knives and chains, then guns. God knows where the guns came from, when we couldn't even get food. I was a good fighter, and a big motherfucker too. When I was about fifteen I became the leader of the gang, when Big Rokka got taken out. Nas was big too, and quick as a rat. Tariq never really got into it, but we kept the rest of the gang off him. As time passed Tariq was getting more and more strange, withdrawn and all that. So after a while I talked to him about it. Do you like it? He asked me... living in a hellhole, killing people for rat-meat and guns? I'd never even thought about it really. He told me we had to get out, get out of SANE5. Shrubb Arcology North East Five. I'd never really even thought about anything outside. Shut up I told him, talking crazy. He told me he knew how we could get out. Kill some cops, take their uniforms, and storm the gate. Steal a transport, get to another sector. Governor Shrubb was a psycho, he said, and the other Governors knew it. They'd let us go. No I said, No way. Impossible. Can't kill Death Squad. I ignored him.
Six weeks later we brawled the Scars. Nas, Tariq, Flow, Jackal, Kid Bricks, Big James, Nasty Sharp and I rolled up on their turf armed and ready. We thought. Five big thugs from their crew stepped out of their squatter, about thirty meters away, and fanned out. I was like an old west vid, sweaty palms on warm guns, each guy waiting for the other to move. They moved first. They dropped right to the ground. Before I could even think bullets were spraying out of the doorway of the squatter, and out walked this huge bastard with some kind of big ass machine gun. I didn't have time to gauge the damage- I dropped to the dusty metal floor and rolled behind a big chunk of fallen ceiling. I could hear guns firing, and someone screaming. I popped up from behind my cover and let a burst go at the big guy. The real big one I mean... by now the other gangers were up and firing too though, and one started shooting at me. I dropped back down behind the metal, trying to figure out what to do. I glanced around; the ceiling couldn't be seen through all the hanging wires and crossbars and shit; the walls were bare metal, scratched up and dented, bent in places by god knows what. The whole place was probably collapsing. The walls were lined with the doorways of abandoned homes, most of which couldn't be reached anymore because the walkways had fallen down. I turned and peeked out toward the fighting again... everyone in my squad must either have been using the same tactic as me, or dead. I ran for another structure a little closer, letting off shots at the enemy as I ran. I saw one catch a bullet... and it looked like someone else had taken out the guy with the big gun. I dropped behind my new cover. I was out of bullets for my rifle, so pulled out the pistol. I always liked handguns better anyway. I ran again, this time for the edge of their squatter. I kept running until I was around the back. The place was some kind of abandoned store, with an unreadable sign out front, the glass letters all shattered or fallen. I kicked in the back door and scared the fuck out of some guy sitting there smoking a cigar. I left his chair on its back, him still on it, two dark circles expanding on his shirt. I ran up the stairs, but there was no one there. I grabbed an old rifle off a table and checked it for ammo. Six bullets. Only four guys left outside, last I checked. I went to knock out the window, but it was already broken. I sighted the rifle and down went one of the other Scars. One of my guys had downed another I guess, and the last two ran back inside. I dropped the rifle, pulled out my other pistol, kicked over the table and ducked behind it. I heard them run up the stairs and I popped up from behind the table- BLAM. I pulled the triggers at the same time, and both of the bastards dropped. Sad for me, one of them shot me too. BLAM, BLAM, BLAM... you get the idea... I emptied my clips as I slowly dropped to my knees, then to my ass. I heard some one else coming up the steps so I tried to get over to the rifle. I'd never been shot before. It hurt a lot. It was somewhere in my gut I figured, chewing away on my liver or some shit. The last thing I saw before I lost my grip was Nas' head popping up at the stairwell.
When I woke up I figured I was in heaven, because everything was white. Then I realized Fuck that, this bad motherfucker's not going to heaven anyway. So I must be alive. I was right... I was in the hospital where Uncle Sal had worked. Nas was there; he told me that him and Kid Bricks had dragged me here after the fight. Sharp was next door with a bullet in his shoulder too. No one else made it. Tariq? No answer. Stupid question. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Dumb ass motherfucker. I decided Tariq was right. The rest of the crew agreed. We had to get out. Two weeks after I was out of the hospital we rolled up to the police station. Shot up the guard out front. Kicked in the door. No one inside even had armor on. I don't think anyone had ever even tried this before. We herded the rest of the SAPS into lockdown, and shut them in with the thieves and burn-heads. Bet they were never more scared in their lives. We raided the armory and suited up. The Death Squad helmets had black opaque faceplates; you saw through eyecup monitors and sensors on the outside. There was no way of knowing who we were. We started over to the gate.
I'd never even been there before. The gate was the exit from our section to the center hub of the entire arcology, which doubled as a space station and means of navigating all the other sections. If you've never been to an arcology I'd highly recommend that you never do. To give you an idea- our section, which was about the size of a medium-class SCS destroyer, held about 20 million people. There were 10 sections on each level of SANE5, and 50 levels. Of course under Governor Shrubb's rule there was no traveling from one section to another, so I'd never had any reason to go to the gate. As we approached the gate I felt lightheaded; my blood ran cold, my breath came short. The excitement of storming the SAPS HQ ran out, and all I felt was fear. There were cops at the gate. Death Squads. They must know. They had to have some way of knowing that we were impostors. We kept going. The gate loomed larger and larger now, a big hanger door painted with a picture of Governor Shrubb and his stupid grin, and the words "Any attempt to violitate the Law will be met with full retalization." The entire area was dead except for the two Police standing by a smaller man-sized door to the right of the hangar doors. We walked toward them. My breath sounded raspy and heavy inside the helmet, but I felt like I wasn't getting any air. The helmet was making me claustrophobic. I was sweating. My heart was pounding, and climbing its frantic way up through my chest to sit inside my throat. I could hear the blood rushing through my ears, but all of it seemed to have left my hands and feet. I heard one of my friends cough, and it startled me out of my downward spiral. I saw one of the others put his hand quickly to his gun. We all stopped walking and looked at each other. We couldn't see each other's faces, and I really had no idea who was who. Reassured, we kept going. We got to the door. I looked at the SAPS, ready to draw my gun at the slightest wrong move. The one on the right nodded his head slightly and hit a pad next to the door with his hand. The doors slid open. We walked through. They slid closed, and the next set slid open before us. As we walked out of the airlock we passed another squad coming in.
Time slowed to a crawl. I saw the last of a line of people boarding a shuttle docked to the right about fifty meters away. I heard someone yell. I started running. I pulled out the gun as I saw a cop turn towards us. I let go a burst and I saw the explosive rounds burst through his armor, spraying pink mist into the thin atmosphere. I heard shots fired behind me. Everything sounded weird, distorted. I didn't turn. I ran into the shuttle, shoving masked civilians out of the way. Then I turned to look behind me. I saw one black suit lying nearby, the one I had shot; another lay further away, one of my friends. Two were running toward me. The squad that we had passed was chasing us. I started firing at them. I took out one, another. One of my friends flew past me. I felt a shot hit my shoulder armor, but it didn't penetrate. I saw one hit the other of my friends in the leg; he fell into flip and landed on his back firing. I ran to help him, dragging him by his helmet backward up the ramp into the shuttle, while he continued to shoot at the SAPS. I saw another bullet hit him in the chest and he stopped firing. I felt one blast a section of my armor off and rip up my flesh. I kept moving. We were inside now, and I prayed that the doors would close. Another shot hit me in the knee and I crashed to the floor, tears filling my eyes. I heard the explosions of bullets against metal and knew that the doors were closed. I looked up, and saw a squad of SC Marines pointing their guns at me. I felt the shuttle lurch underneath me as I heard one of them yelling something at me. Wrong shuttle I thought to myself as I lost consciousness again.
I awoke in a cramped little room with a metal ceiling. They brought me back I thought. Or maybe they killed me, and hell is the same. I sat up, and saw a brace on my knee. I was in a white robe, made of some weird slick material. I saw a Marine walk in, and I lay back down. Shit, I thought to myself, What now? A face popped into view above me, grinning like an idiot. It was Nas. We've been enlisted, he told me. We're aboard the SCS North Star, headed to a Marine base on Reach. We'd be trained. We'd never have to go back to the arcology. We get paid. We get fed. They're not going to punish us for anything we did in SANE5.
If only it could have been that simple. I ended up on the SCS Pillar of Autumn. Nacia was assigned with me. I guess Kid Bricks is dead in some recycler in SANE5. Nasty Sharp, real name Alan Watts, was assigned to the SCS Harvest Moon. I guess he's dead now too. And from arcology to spaceship to space station and back I'd never been outside before in my life. Sure I'd seen in the vids; and it looked damn cool too. But it's weird in real life. I know, man, you say that, but you're from some damn jungle planet. You have to understand where I'm coming from. Look up at the clouds, the sun, and feel the breeze; look around and not a wall in sight... shit, if I didn't know better I'd say this was heaven. Guess it's time to cast out Lucifer.