GM: amberley, who also played Jim Preston, the last adult awake and leader of the resistance group. His son, Josh, wasn't picked up by anyone, so died before the first scene.
|space_parasite||Mei Smith||Sharon||Laura Porter|
|diony||Anna Lin||Amy||Derek Smith|
|liralen||Keenan Caine||Brian||Archer Lin (2-year-old)|
Authors: diony reworked Anna's lines to her language. Thank you. I wrote the rest.
Warning: Since all adults are pretty much in comas, the kids are trying to perpetuate the human race, so there are lots of implications of underage sex. Nothing explicit.
Word Count: 3932
It is seven years into a future where everyone over eighteen has been sucked in by the Bliss. They sleep and smile and never waste away but we cannot bring them back. Last year, the aliens that brought the Bliss started to destroy even what little that was left, and we kids couldn't touch them.
Then Anna and Laura were part of a gang that took out one of the aliens. Jim Preston, the last adult left awake, and Derek Smith, a technical teen, were able to derive a dream weapon from the downed alien where we could actually strike back. Each pilot has a pod built from alien goo that enables them to dream; but each pilot has to have an anchor to help bring them back, keep them connected to being human. A pilot's weapons and armor are their relationships with their anchor and the people they know and love, and when they fight, those relationships can take damage. If they lose it can bring active harm on those that they use.
It's a fight for the future of the world and we're the players in that fight.
I was lying on my bed when the klaxons sounded. My hidey hole was filled with my stuff, and some of it Josh had hijacked for me because he knew what I liked.
I was mourning Josh because no one else seemed to be. I missed him. I missed his sly smile, his lean form, his fierce desire to fight for all that was right. Sometimes I wondered if Jim, in his drug-induced state was even aware his own son had turned to glop in the experimental pod he and Derek were cooking up. I was in his dream with him when Josh lost it and Blissed out, and I couldn't forget.
Of course, in the middle of the moment when I could finally cry, the klaxons blared again.
I got up, flung on a t-shirt, jeans and a belt. Slung my black leather jacket over my shoulders, and ran for the big balloon hanger on Moffitt Field.
We'd all stuffed the big hanger full of equipment and people. Everyone was there but Archer, Anna two-year-old son, and I was glad the little tyke wasn't there. He didn't need to see all this and, perhaps, see his own mom turning terrified, twisted by the work she now had to do.
Jim was up on the stand and yelling, like usual. "Listen up, these bastards are attacking right when we're least prepared for them and most need to hold on. Derek and I figured out something that's going to end the war and we were upgrading everyone's pods to be able to do that last strike; but those alien bastards may have figured it out. So they're attacking now, when we're least capable of taking them out. Derek only left Mei's pod online, and you're going to have to go serially into it and go after the three aliens that are attacking us now. But if we can beat them off this one time, we'll go for their heart, finish them off once and for all."
Mei was Derek's younger sister, she's perky and cute and really optimistic. She'd just gotten her pilot's training.
"Ick!!" Mei cried, "You mean they're all going to have to use my pod?"
Keenan laughed. He's the handsome one, the one that the girls all fall for first, as he's the most experienced pilot we have. I've actually heard him use the line, "I might get killed saving the world tomorrow, wanna go to bed with me?" And it always works...
Mei blushed and then made a face at him and said, "Well, then I'm going first."
Derek looked thunderous, but he held his peace.
"Who do you want as your anchor?" asked Jim.
And she surprised the heck out of me by pointing at me. "I want Brian." Mei's usual anchor was Amy. I wasn't quite sure what the girl was up to and when she looked up at me I was even more confused, as she was wide-eyed and looked like she expected me to refuse.
I am usually Anna's anchor. Sometimes Josh used me as well, especially after he and I started sleeping together. Anna was how shacking up with Jim. She said it was because Archer, her two-year-old son, needed a father; but every once in a while, when she'd had enough of Jim's high strung, stressed-out adult attitude, she'd come back to me and just relax with me. I liked that. I liked being able to provide a safe haven for her. But now Mei wanted me?
I hesitated, but a pilot does what a pilot has to do, and as an anchor my job was to support them in anything they needed to do. They were the ones putting their sanity and lives on the line. I had to do what I could to help.
So I nodded. "Oh. Okay, Mei, I'll... I'll do what I can do."
She smiled a smile so sweet I had to close my eyes for just a moment. Then we went to the prep room and we got her skin suit on. I plugged in all the sensors, each into various plugs all over the suit. When we were done, and before I opened the pod, I gave her one very careful, but thorough hug.
I looked down at her after the hug and she looked up at me. Suddenly she pulled my head down and she went up on her tiptoes. Then she kissed me. It was fast, nearly just a bump of the lips as if... well... as if she'd never kissed before. She blushed bright red, and then opened her tank and hopped in. Before the goo closed over her head, I said, "Happy hunting, pilot."
And then she was gone.
I settled into my control pod. I connected myself up to the dream chamber, and got the mike settled against my throat. I put on the eye cups and the machine put me into her dream. Front and center.
I started by painting the sky blue, the trees pink and green. Spring had come to Mountain View and the cherry and wild plum trees were in bloom. The spring breeze picked up the petals and sent them, like a warm snow to fill the air. I didn't know that much about Mei, only that she was the youngest of out group, gentle and shy. So I tried to just make it beautiful, peaceful, maybe a little fun.
So I pulled in a playground, like the ones around us. The playground was filled with rusted bars and swings with chains, teeter-totters and twisted slides, and an old merry-go-round with bars and a deck of corrugated steel. She stood there and smiled.
"Okay, Mei, armor up and get your weapons. They're coming fast, sweetie." I said quietly into the mike.
She ducked her head, "Right, Bri."
She suited up. She made her relationship with me into a pink carapace formed over her body, hiding the young curves and angular joints. The legs formed over her legs and backward knees and hooves sprouted under her own feet. A unicorn's mask went over her golden hair and over it a horn of luminous rainbows. She used the newly formed mecha to grab the swing set and from that she formed a big gun for her right arm, and I felt the laughter of Keenan behind the gleaming deadliness of it. She then tugged and pulled a sharp shard of love from her brother, Derek and shaped a visor from it. Derek was nothing if not transparent. The targeting visor snapped into the front of her mask.
"Ready to go. I'm heading north, now, Brian." She stalked north and I built a mountain for her to the East and a plain to the West. Clouds and storm brewed to the West, with thunder and lightening a warning of what was to come. She went up the mountain, as it allowed her a greater width of view.
Then the mountain fell part into people. Lots and lots of fractal people, each fitting into the next, and Mei took that gun of hers and fired it at them. They attacked her, her armor, and her weapons. Her love of Keenan frayed, crackling back along the lines of dreams and emotions that I held for her to use. I felt the hit as the aliens swung into her armor and the visor cracked as small bodies hurtled themselves at her. But she fought on. Another bolt from that gun made from a playground, and the group of creatures shattered into rainbows and light.
But the gun shattered, and the emotional ripple ran back and snapped hard back at Keenan. He was already so close to the Bliss that I winced a little. My desire to protect Mei cracked as I saw all the lights on her equipment go red or yellow.
"Mei, come back. Now. Everything you have has been damaged. You've managed to stop them from hitting the base. The other pilots can clean up after you."
"No. I just have to get the alien. Then I'll come back." Her voice was high and defiant.
"Mei..." I broke off, not quite knowing what to say.
I felt her pull on another relationship. It tasted so young, so sweet. Oh, gods, she was pulling in Archer. She was pulling in the two-year-old when everything else she held was already damaged.
I hit the button. It sent a shock through her system. Alarms rang, the pod popped, and I heard a strangled yell come out of it. I pulled out the eye cups and my eyes ached. A dripping, angry Mei popped out.
I half hoped she'd just hit me.
Worse, much worse than that, she stripped off her gear and ran away, crying.
"Brian. Let's get those bastards. They hurt Archer." It was Anna, looking angrier than I'd seen her in a long time. And she was picking me, her usual anchor, which made a lot of sense, but... I looked after the crying Mei.
"Leave her, Brian. We gotta clean up the mess. Musta done something stupid for you to pop her like that... and, shit, she hurt Archer." Anna had her suit already on and was waiting for me to connect her up.
"It... it wasn't..." I stuttered, tense and upset. Was it because Mei had tried to use her relationship with Archer, or was it my fault for hitting the button too early? Should I have let her go?
Anna grasped my shoulder and shook me. "Brian. You wouldn't do anything stupid. Let's do this."
I let her shake me looser. My pilot needed me. "All right, Anna. Let's go." She kissed me, a solid, aggressive kiss. She always was a fighter, and I wrapped her tight and carefully in a hug as solid as I could make it. I then fitted her, quickly, with the connections and plugs and her hands were in my hair as I knelt for the lower ones.
Then, as always, she hopped into the goo and it closed over her head and she was gone.
Shaking, I settled again at the anchor's panel. I connected up eyecups and plug. I hovered by her shoulder in Anna's dream. I knew what Anna liked, even though I'd never actually been there. We'd done this enough times that I knew what she wanted. I set up that cityscape she loved and hated and knew the best from where she and Laura had fought together. It was a jumble of broken concrete, torn blacktop, twisted lights, and dying buildings. She knew it as she knew her own body and understood it like her own mind.
"Armor up, girl. They're heading in."
She nodded and wasted no words. She wrapped me around herself, matte black as a black leather biker's jacket, closefitting and protective, sleek and solid. Her mecha was slender, quick. Her friendship with Mei was her backpack, her flight to the future. A net gun of her relationship with Jim spat and hissed with electricity. She used the jetpack to jump up onto the Theater, the highest point still in town, so she could see the landscape, spot the enemy.
They came in a swarm, from all directions, like ants from an upset anthill.
She fired the net. Sweeping them all within its strands and then triggering the charge. They fried, screaming.
Some of them struggled within the net, tearing it even as they died. She pulled it back in grimly and using her sense of things, she found the pilot that was running their little simulation on their side, and she fired again. The net caught the one she aimed at and the jolt was as bright as the sun.
"Got him. I'm coming back in." Anna's voice was satisfied.
"Good work, Anna. Good hunting." I said. And when she came out, I got a hug and a peck on the cheek, and then I knew she was off to see Jim. Primary relationships, first, then, if there's time, something for the rest of us... but that's okay. As an anchor I wanted her to be sharp... but as a boy... I went back to my room, exhausted, and I finally got myself a good cry into my pillows.
Heya. I'm Keenan. I'm here to save the world, a pilot and fighter in the Mountain View resistance cell.
I'm here to save the world, but I don't know how much longer I'm for it. The mission today was straightforward, and I pulled Sharon as my anchor. I felt good about my part of it, but then I'd felt the kick when Mei burned her bridges with me. I hadn't known that she'd cared so damned much when all I'd done was kiss her; but the kickback when she burned me was harsh enough to leave me crouched on the floor, panting.
I was close. I knew it.
Big, strong, dark-haired Laura found me that way, and the look in her eyes was priceless. She picked me up, hugged me, and then kissed my breath away.
"Thanks," I said, trying to be the man I was supposed to be.
She looked so sad for a moment.
"What?" I asked.
"Love you, Keenan. I wish you didn't have to do this anymore."
I shrugged, "Hey, I'm a pilot, it's what I do."
"Yeah... well... just so you know, Archer took a hit a little while back. If you can do anything about it..." She trailed off, shaking her head. "I hate all of this."
"Yeah, I know," I said. "Maybe this will be the last of it."
Laura's mouth twisted, but she went with me to the pod area.
Brian looked like death warmed over when he finished his second shift, and Sharon gave him a pat on his way out.
"Heya," I said to Sharon, "save a bit of that for me?" We both laughed, and she came up and I kissed her, solid, copping a good feel of firm flesh and she gasped a bit and giggled. "Yeah, that's it. Thanks for helping me save the world."
"Any time, Keenan," she said, grinning and copped her own feel. Might as well enjoy it while I'm awake.
I slipped into the goo suit, and she slapped my connections on. She was practiced at it and the placements. I slipped in another kiss before I slid into the goo. I hate what the stuff does to my hair, but well, you do whatcha gotta do.
Sharon shaped forest out of my head. A deep, dark forest with a twilight sky with old trees as high as buildings. There was a peace here I had never known. I wondered if that was why she always gave me these remote places away from all those people that I was supposed to be protecting.
"Suit up," she said softly.
"Hai." I said and wrapped my love for her around me, shining and curved and bright and beautiful. She was always sharp, smart, and gorgeous to me, and the armor showed all that I felt for her. It was beautiful and sweet and fun and protection for me while I fought and always fast enough to keep up.
I then pulled in my love for Laura, her lithe strength, her hatred of the whole war, the longing she had to get the hell out of dodge and built a rail gun from our sex together. Hot and heavy and fast as thought. Derek, the wonder tech, and the guy who made it possible for me to do what I do and who maintained and ripped and built the pods and the attendant anchor station was my targeting visor.
Not that I needed the visor. Yeesh. The moment I walked into the woods they were on me. Tessellating out of the woodwork and thousands of them swarmed out of the shadows. They built a big figure in seconds, and as they gathered together and built a heart, I blew it out from under them. Big, honking guns are great at that. They exploded in a fountain of night.
I laughed and looked for the pilot. One of the hundreds of piece started running for the shadows. The visor picked that up. I aimed, fired, and blew that away, too. Simple.
I danced my victory dance, and Sharon laughed in my ear, all sexy-like and I felt good.
"Hey, Sharon. I'm going to hotshot and get the one that got away from Mei."
"You sure, Keenan?" Static hissed in Sharon's voice, but it wasn't too bad, yet. Nightmares were creeping in from the edges in forms of shadows and tentacles. But if I got the damned thing, Archer would be just fine.
"Yeah. I heard Archer was hurtin'... can't leave the little guy like that." Or there would be no future for the human race. The little kids were going to get it, not me.
I knew each shot I took carried risks. Each time I gain just a bit more of that euphoria that will take me from this job, this world. But it was worth it. I had been given piloting. I could do it, and I could save those that couldn't save themselves. Why else exist?
So I jumped the Mecha high up in the air, and the visor showed me where that last bastard lay. I powered up the rail gun and took out that patch of existence. All vaporized to kingdom come. I laughed and danced.
Sharon's voice was worried. "Keenan. We're done; you're coming back in, right?"
For a moment, I thought about just going now, not waiting, not wondering, just running off into the peaceful shadows of this forest world. But then I shook my head. Just one more battle. "Right," I said and went back to Sharon, my anchor, one of my many loves, the last to not burn out like a falling star.
When Sharon pulled me out of the tank, I had a look on her face that I really didn't like. Anchors, like us pilots, can be really stressed by the dreams and how they play. I hugged her gently as she rubbed the goo out of my hair. "Hey, beautiful, wanna take a bath with me?"
Her eyes didn't lighten. "Maybe later... but... I gotta talk with you about something."
"Yeah?" I watched her warily.
"When... when you did the hot shot... I realized I had to tell you." She looked down and put her hands over her belly. "Keenan. You have to come back now. There's a reason, now, that you have to come back."
I looked at her. At her hands over her belly, at the fact that it was starting to stick out a bit more than I'd realized.
"You're sure it... it's from me?" I asked.
She nodded, and this time, I got the whole whammy of her blue eyes on mine. "It's your baby, Keenan."
"Oh... wow." I sat on the ground. Maybe I had a reason, now, a reason to come back, someone that actually needed me. I smiled up at Sharon. "Wow."
She grinned back, knelt down beside me and gave me a kiss like I'd never had before. And when she pulled back, I whispered, against her lips, "Just one more mission and I will come back."
I was lying back on the stupid bed. I was crying again and I hated it. I hated being left alone, but not knowing where to go. I hated myself for being so tired after doing so much. I hated not knowing if I'd done the right thing or, so totally, the wrong thing.
There was a knock on the door, tentative and gentle. It had to be Mei. For just a moment, I contemplated not answering, not saying a damned thing. Then I sighed, "Come on in, Mei."
For a moment, I just lay there, with my arm over my eyes. I didn't want her to see the tears, so I wiped them all away with my arm as I glanced over at her. She looked so lost, so tentative, I gulped back more tears, and sat up.
"Hey, Brian," she said, softly.
"Hey. I... I wanted to say I'm sorry." I started with that. Other boys might never say they're sorry, but I always thought it was a stupid rule, especially when I hadn't known what to do. "I... I just lost Josh, and I couldn't just stand there and lose you, too... so I... I guess I panicked. I'm... just sorry..."
I was watching the floor, now. I almost didn't want to see her eyes. She walked up to me, and I watched her feet in those cute little pink shoes, and then she was nearly close enough for me to lean my head against.
I looked up into blue eyes that were just a little sad. She said, directly, softly, "You could try having a little faith in me, Brian."
My eyes widened. I hadn't thought of it that way. The pilots had to trust their anchors, not... not the other way around? I blinked and thought hard. Trust her? Oh. Trust her to make the right decisions, to figure out how much she could and should fight. I trusted Anna, but Anna was older, was more experienced, and had fought in reality as well as on that dream plane. Have faith in cute little Mei to fight the good fight?
I looked back up, and ducked my head in a nod. Her eyes lightened a little. "All right, Mei. You're right. I should have trusted your judgment further. I'll... I'll do my best to trust you for the last mission, not just help you."
She nodded back. "Good."
Sadly, there was not enough real world time for the last mission. Keenan was just four points from Blissing out, so I suspect he'd likely have been the first. Luckily, though, hitting the number doesn't mean dissolving. He just would have had to stop being a pilot, and answer one of the big questions for the game. The two questions for the game were:
1. Will we defeat the aliens?
2. Will there be a next generation to go on?
And I suspect I'd have chosen the latter question and answered it yes, as he went off to take care of his kid.