Jordahk and his parents are racing away from the city which has erupted into chaos from the enemy's operatives and assassinations. They too are being targeted, have been wounded, and are attempting to evade small, long-range homing drones..
Kord stared at Jordahk with piercing eyes. He became uncharacteristically solemn. “From where we are in space, son, the egress can only take you backwards.”
Jordahk sensed something in his father's tone and rare use of “son.” At thirty-four standard years, he was still in the tail end of long adolescence. And yet, an element was apparent in how his father spoke to him, something that made him feel like a man.
Jordahk reached across his body and drew a pistol from his sling bag. For a long time he'd been in subtle competition with his father. Now he greatly desired his father to show him up.
“Did you bring what you need for that thing?” Kord asked.
“Yeah, all the original stuff,” Jordahk answered, patting the bag.
As far as pistols went, theirs could hardly be more different. Jordahk held a long, heavy, metal piece. Its gray luster shone under the growing light of the egress moon. The mystic autobuss didn't just look like an anachronism next to Kord's latest in scientum technology, it was one. The weapon dated back to the Sojourners' Crusade. More than any other, it symbolized the Sojourners, the masters of mystic technology, inasmuch as anyone ever was. Those familiar with mystic knew it a technology as likely to master its user, as be tamed.
The esoteric methods Sojourners used to create their mystic creations were impossible to duplicate. With them gone, scientum was the only conventional alternative. It could not perform unexplainable feats, but it could be mass-produced. Of course, scientum had the added benefit of not potentially destroying the user's brain.
The Sojourners were long gone, and out of their hands the autobuss wasn't the most practical weapon. Modern makers of mystic technology, imprimaturs, saved their brainpower for more profitable endeavors than making the signature pistol. That was assuming they even could, which was unlikely. The province now for the strange weapon resided with collectors, enthusiasts, niche scientists, and those who believed that they were, or would become, Sojourners.
Jordahk liked to categorize himself as a collector, but if that was the case, what was he doing right now?
“I'm such a faux,” he mumbled to himself.
“Break out your fastest ammo,” Kord said. He reached behind to the stor-all on his belt. “I need the hot stuff, Highearn.”
The stor-all bulged, presenting a magazine by the time Kord's bloody hand arrived. He placed it gingerly into the auxiliary magazine well in front of the trigger studs. It auto-seated with a hum.
A modern grister's magazine capacity was significant, and that was in addition to the magazine in its grip. From what Jordahk saw, his father was going to war.
A pouch within Jordahk's sling bag held all the ammunition available. Through his mystic link, Jordahk could sense much about mystic technology by touch alone. He ran his fingers along the presented cartridges and lifted the one that felt the fastest. With a mental command and a subtle ping, the autobuss hinged open near the center, revealing seven chambers.
Six loaded cartridge chambers surrounded a larger, empty octagonal shell chamber. A cartridge lifted, and Jordahk swapped it out. With a flick of his hand the autobuss clicked shut like a piece of fine jewelry. Two thirds of its metal body extended in front of the grip. The rest protruded back over the hand. Its styling was a unique blend of Combustion Age revolver, formfitting target pistol, and a “retro-future space gun” one might see in an old science fiction cineVAD.
“Lead your target; use your ret vectors,” Kord said, “and for God's sake, get it early.” He scrutinized behind them. The road was a blur receding into darkness.
“Just get me close, kid, and I'll take care of the rest,” a gruff voice intoned.
“Max, nice of you to join us,” Jordahk said sarcastically. “I hope we haven't taken you from some important ancient battle simulation.”
Maximilian v4 wasn't a popular AI. In fact, 4 was the last rev ever made. Kord searched long and hard to find the most modern compy that could even run it. The one he found was 50 years old; a tarnished metal ring Jordahk wore on his right hand.
Modern combat pistols had smart barrels, which performed a fractional adjustment when a shot was fired. The calculations of a fast compy combined with the judgment of a good AI could turn a near miss into a hit. Jordahk's mystic autobuss was one of the first to implement such a feature.
“Don't argue with your AI,” Kord said. An urgent triple tone sounded from the retrofitted box. “Split them up. You know the drill. Here they come!”
They extended their pistols, scrutinizing everything in their wake. Flex metal autostocks unfolded from pistol to shoulder to brace their aim.
“Watch for an eight o'clock final approach,” Max said privately into Jordahk's link. “If I know this type, it'll be eight o'clock high.”
Jordahk could sense the inner workings of the autobuss. He focused his thoughts into it.
Ready the fast ammo.
The weapon hummed, lining that cartridge up to fire. Two fist-sized objects hovered around the bend 100 meters behind them. The devices visually acquired their targets and abruptly switched from fans to rockets.
The AIs coordinated, circling designated targets in different shades of red on Jordahk and Kord's rets. It was a task well suited to the eyeball lenses, the strength of which was displaying simple lines and text. The circles rocketed upward. Seeker drones were wily little killing machines, not likely to dive straight in and let themselves be intercepted. The pair etched three-dimensional exhaust trails at crazy angles suspended in the darkening air.
Seeker drones often settled for getting close and detonating a directed cone of deadly shrapnel. Closer than that risked being fried by the lightning arc of a bracer. Soldiers and security personnel always wore bracers, the bane of a seeker drone's existence. No one in the fanicle was wearing a bracer though, and the seeker drones' tiny crystal brains knew it. Tonight, going all the way in was their preferred objective.
Jordahk's racing mind stretched the seconds. His chest vibrated from the pulsed throb of his father's grister. He was surprised his father had a shot so quickly. Five ammo nuts, super accelerated out of Kord's pistol, burned the air. The line of pointy pellets passed harmlessly underneath the first seeker drone, leaving a wispy black trail.
Kord rarely missed. “Drak!”
Jordahk followed the wildly dancing red circle in his vision. He kept his aim on the averaged vector line Max drew as well as the possibility cone sprouting off it. He mentally unlocked the old pistol and fired it with slight, intuitive pressure on the trigger studs. The autobuss emitted its unique hollow thunk. A triangle of three perfectly round ammo nuts cut a blurry distortion through the air. The fading effect completely missed. Jordahk fired twice more. The blurs were closer but didn't hit.
His chest vibrated wildly. Jordahk didn't know whether his heart was going to burst or Kord was firing full auto. He heard a staccato tinkling sound followed by a blossom of light. The high-pitched hiss of mini rockets halved.
The other seeker drone closed on the fanicle. It veered to the side, angling in at eight o'clock. Jordahk knew this was it. Final approach. Time for only one more shot. When a strange spike of resonance between his mystic link and autobuss peaked, he fired. One corner of his triangular shot nicked the drone, knocking it sideways. It sprayed propellant wildly, trying to reorient for detonation. It was suddenly a much easier target for his father. A tinny sound accompanied a line of sparks that stitched across the seeker drone before it exploded.
Jordahk shielded his face from the blast with a trembling hand. The fanicle jolted as the explosion illuminated two receding, zigzagged exhaust trails. Debris clinked around them.
Kord's concerned expression was covered with a smile. “Thanks for leaving the coup de grace for me.” Their autostocks folded back into the pistols.
Vittora glanced back, pleased the men she loved were still in one piece. “You made that dramatic.” Her tone made it sound like they shot seeker drones every day, and now it was time to head home for dinner. Just then, the whine of the fanicle turned to a warble. Vittora wrestled with the controls as their speed stuttered and slowed. “Something hit us.”
Vittora's driving the fanicle way past specs was strain enough. Now a new grinding sound joined the mix. On cue a few more parts scattered on the earthpack behind them. Jordahk's heart sank with the same feeling he suspected generations of drivers felt when their vehicles threatened to strand them.
“Now that they're onto us,” Kord said, “things are going to get serious.”
“Going to get?” Jordahk exclaimed.
You might think part-time mystery man Gregory Faccone has lived ten lifetimes. He's experienced the ocean's cool dawn, and baked in 130° deserts. He's worked amidst the concrete canyons of major cities, and on a dark, rainy night, driven a remote road carpeted with frogs (true story, really).
Classically trained in creative arts, he performed a long tenure developing electronic entertainment with both independent companies and the biggest names like Electronic Arts and Sony. He collaborated with Universal Studios, Warner Bros., and Paramount, adding content to popular franchises from science fiction, with Star Trek, to comics, to even medical dramas like ER.
However, Gregory desired to share his creations beyond fleeting game system technology. The written word has stood for centuries, and although reading mediums evolve, novels continue unimpeded. A reader's bond with a quality literary work is unlike any other. When Gregory starting creating a unique science fiction universe, he knew the medium for which it was destined. The fantastic framework for his science fiction series, "Tethered Worlds," took two years to create before he jumped into writing the first entry.
Gregory is influenced by Arthur C. Clarke's axiom: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." So jump into Tethered Worlds and go on an adventure based in the centuries to come. While the technology is advanced, the nature of mankind is unchanged. It continues to wrestle with flaws, and is preserved through selflessness and nobility.
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