Author Topic: Fiction: The Journalist  (Read 205 times)

Deridus

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Fiction: The Journalist
on: March 31, 2019, 10:34:44 PM
As the sandstorm began to fade away and the wardog ambush party became just a memory accompanied by dust, I examined the ammunition left in my rifle’s magazine and began to load it, ensuring that I would be ready for the next battle that could appear, although I would prefer that this would be the last confrontation I saw on my travel. When I finished the task, I began to examine the members of the native caravan I joined in search of anyone injured, aiming to do my part of work, but my help in that department would only be an annoyance for the locals, who healed their wounded with the impressive properties of the aleph and their mastery over the substance. Another of the reasons that my aid wouldn’t be needed reside in the fact that this group of locals had willingly abandoned their peaceful ways when it came to defending themselves, using their natural capabilities in conjunction with scavenged human weaponry and coordination to survive attacks from human raiders, just as the leader of the rebellious Raiders preached to his compatriots. The thought saddened me, feeling guilty that our arrival and actions had altered their lifestyle and made every one of us forced soldiers, turning the Broken Planet into a hostile planet in which three main forces struggled to gain its control. As soon as I banished these thoughts and returned to the present, every part of my body was screaming that this was an ideal moment to practice my labor as a journalist, so I decided to use my time to document the scene, ordering my loyal mechanical dog, Rusty, to take pictures with the camera incorporated to the side of his body as I annotated the events in my trusty notepad.

 “Good boy, Rusty”, I said to my dog while caressing him and offering one of his favorite treats as a reward, a murkul flavored cookie.

Once we finished, I began to search the area trying to find Dorren, the group’s guide and the person thanks to whom I was allowed to join them on this trip. Amongst the busy coming and going of people I eventually found his daughter and partner, with the first one visibly scared from the attack and still trembling. Obviously, the presence of an armed human, this planet’s invaders, with an artificial dog by his side didn’t help feel the white-haired girl more secure. In hopes of fixing that problem, I crouched to her size and began to play with Rusty in front of her and offered the dog a treat afterward, later prompting my companion to sit in front of her. Using gestures, I told the girl to get her hand close to Rusty’s nose, making her look to her mother for guidance, who nodded in approval and even let the dog smell her so that her daughter wouldn’t be scared. Rusty began to lick the mother’s hand after smelling her, moving the kid to try the same, visibly afflicted by curiosity and fear, but the latter was substituted by joy as the dog proved that he was harmless and asked to be pet, ending with both of them playing around. Seeing gratitude in the mother’s eye, I asked her for her partner’s whereabouts and followed the directions she gave me, leaving my companion behind to play with the young local.

While navigating through the swarm of people, I took note of everything I could, their white attires, the alien letters that marked their belongings, the curious gestures they had with each other and any other characteristic from their culture, aiming to learn as much as I could from them and understand their traditions and history. When I finally reached the guide and seized a moment when he wasn’t occupied, I saluted him in the usual manner of his people and received the appropriate response before we began to talk.

“How far are we?” I asked him as I deployed a holographic map in front of us, with a glowing red point indicating the human settlement I wanted to reach.

“Not much”, Dorren answered me after deducing our approximate position in the map and signaling it, “We should be close soon, once we continue.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Thank you”, I said before bowing to him as a sign of gratitude in his custom, but he interrupted me and prompted me to rise again.

“There’s no need for that, you’ve already done enough to pay for your place”, The guide argued, “Besides, this a favor I’m doing you”.

“Still, if it wasn’t for you I would have had my fair share of problems to get there, including discussing the terms of passage with the factions, especially now that the Raiders destroyed their leaders”, I answered him, “Also, they already dislike me enough already, investigating their dirty secrets, asking uncomfortable questions and just being a pain in the ass”.

“Can you explain me your task again?”, The native asked, confused by my recent answer, “I think I don’t fully understand it”.

“Sure”, I answered him, finding no inconvenient in explaining my local companion what I do for a living, or at least I did back home, “I’m a journalist, a person that follows and investigates events in order to inform the rest of the world about them, and from time to time it requires uncovering things that some people would do anything to keep hidden. As a teacher of mine told me, ‘You know you’re doing your job right when someone important wants you to shut the fuck up”.

“So, you’re then like a combination of storyteller and a troublemaker”, Dorren said while a mischievous smile adorned his face.

“When I’m doing my job right”, I answered him with a proud smile before I wasn’t able to hold a chuckle at the native’s conception of my profession.
“My people and I, we appreciate that you’ve told us stories about our compatriots in the rest of the world and listened to us, so that what we’ve gone through will also be known to others”, The man commented me as he looked back to his busy tribe, deciding that everything should be ready to continue our travel.

“I enjoy listening to people’s stories”, I answered the guide as the pack animals retook the journey with regained strength.

After my conversation with Dorren ended and the caravan continued on its way, I recorded our march and wrote down my thoughts on my notepad. I also talked with the natives, who had grown somewhat accustomed to me and, in most cases, didn’t look at me with a certain disgust born from the actions of the human factions. For part of the travel, I began to think about the consequences of my presence on the planet and how it might have affected the lives of all its inhabitants, both old and new. This line of thought brought me back to the time before the expedition departed, when I used my agency’s connections and a series of favors to gain a seat in one of the ships, being amongst those that would document the incredible story of our journey and the knowledge we would uncover. I was assigned to one of the Hades Division’s transports, indisputably better than the mercenary Umbra Wardog’s ships or the cold and disturbingly efficient Fifth Council’s. It was there where I saw again General Krausher and her right hand, the feared Aneska, since I covered the war on Mars. Krausher seemed to recognize me and saluted me, inviting me to dinner with him and the woman, where we talked about the coverage I did of the past events, especially when it came to the part where I explained the chaos and destruction that Aneska brought down to the enemy troops without sparing any details, bringing hell down from the skies like an archangel sent by a hate-filled god, flaming sword in hand. The General praised me for the way I transferred my emotions from that day into the paper, but the images I saw that day from a secure location at the side of the man still come back to terrify me.

When we reached the Broken Planet and our engines died, everything went south, and the more we knew of the almost magical aleph the more then tensions between the factions grew, until it exploded into an all-out war fuelled by greed to gain dominance over the substance and find a way back to our home system. Of course, when those fuckers began fighting each other they didn’t give a damn about the civilians aboard their ships unless they represented companies like Elite Corp. or increased their ranks. Needless to say, the natives were ran over.

And then, amongst all the chaos, the bullets, and the blood-soaked aleph, Harec’s ragtag group of rebels rose, consisting of a merry band of psychopaths, disgraced soldiers, misfits and more; all of them with top combat skills and exceptional abilities, working under the common goal of liberating the planet from the human oppressors. As their successful missions increased and new members came, their fame spread like wildfire, and the need for interviewing them grew inside of me, their leader in particular. But contacting them wasn’t an easy task, quite the opposite in fact, unless you were either on Harec’s list of potential recruits or one of their targets. Searching them wasn't a possibility, since reliable sources told me that even the Fifth Council, with all their advanced technology, had failed that task, and my limited resources couldn't even be compared to theirs. Instead, the best option was to make them come to me, and I recently came in possession of something that would allow that, Lycus Dion’s music collection. I had to call old favors with my contacts in the Hades Division to obtain it, which they gladly did since the seemingly immortal soldier was extraordinarily vicious with their forces. Many things could be said about Lycus Dion, few of them nice, but I had to admit the bastard had a good taste in music.

Once Dorren announces that they’re already as close as possible, I abandoned my thoughts and call Rusty back to my side, saying goodbye to my latest travel companions as I walk towards the settlement to search for the last piece I need for my interview. When I entered the town, I was greeted by a thousand different sounds coming from every direction, with all of the narrow streets that plagued the place filled with all manner of businesses and bars, where if I wanted I could find anything from electronic devices to drugs, most of which had entered in contact with aleph in one form or another. The more I explored the settlement the more I had the image of it as a colorful pseudo-bazaar, swarming with all manner of people, including deserting soldiers and a good amount of locals that had adopted the earthly ways of capitalism and sold exotic clothes and objects from all over the planet. Suddenly, I saw an unmistakable aleph signature across the walls the size of an adult bear, glowing like orange Christmas lights. When I turned the corner I saw a huge elite wardog deserter, more than 100 kilos of steel and deformed flesh accompanied by a brain almost deprived of neurons, menacing a fellow human under the scared view of some of the settlement’s inhabitants and screaming about a debt and pain with his limited vocabulary. Rusty began to get agitated and I laid my finger over my rifle’s trigger, considering for a moment to intervene and help the poor guy out, but I reasoned that attracting that kind of attention would be counterproductive, as well as conflicting with my role as a journalist, something I had to break more than enough these days. I left the conflict and kept on with my search.

After some more walking and questioning around, I managed to find the shop, a gunsmith’s business with a sign that says “Gunpowder!” atop of its door and a series of handcrafted firearms on display behind the windows, as well as information about the elaboration of custom weapons. The moment I enter, a bell rings and I’m immediately greeted by a small flying drone that shows me a holographic list of products and today’s offers in handguns and grenades, as well as a policy of no refunds.

“I’m searching for the owner”, I said to the machine, which ran into the depths of the shop and returned shortly afterward alongside a tanned man with a heavy beard and a prosthetic arm, wearing dirty clothes and a belt from which all manner of tools are hanging.

“Hello there mate”, The man greeted me with a deep voice tortured by too many cigars and alcohol, sounding similar to one of the singers in Dion’s music collection. “I’m Omar, the owner. Do you want something in particular or you’re just one of those guys that don’t stand robots?”
He talked abruptly, wasting no time in formalities and desiring to get to the point as fast as he could so he could go back to his personal troubles. I decided to indulge him and spit out my motives.

“I know you’re Lycus Dion’s favorite gunsmith and drinking buddy, and I want to meet the Raiders”.

“Well, that’s certainly something I didn’t expect to hear today when I got up from bed”, the deadly craftsman said, humored at my words, something I found somewhat annoying, “Why the bloody hell do you want that? Do you think yourself as a daring a brave soldier searching for a cause to defend?”

“Nothing that interesting, just a former journalist that wants an interview”
“You see Mr. Journalist, I’m just that pale son of a bitch’s favorite craftsman, like you so eloquently put it”, Omar says with a defying smile on his face as he takes a pack of cigarettes from his trousers and picks one out, “Besides, that bastard comes and goes whenever he wants and either asks for a gun or a drink”.

“I’ve done my bit of research and know that you and Dion like to meet and gamble, and, since you like it so much, I’m betting my arm that you have a way to contact that pale son of a bitch, like you so eloquently put it”.

The gunsmith put the now lighten up cigar in his mouth and began to smoke, releasing a yellowy smoke out of his mouth, revealing that this planet’s most coveted substance was used as part of the object’s ingredients. He stayed silent for a few seconds, enjoying the tobacco’s effect on his senses before the tone of his eyes drastically changed and put a knife over the counter.

“Are you sure about that bet, boy?”, Omar said as a light fired in his pupils and his rasp voice turned into a menacing growl.

“Yes”, I answered him without taking my gaze from him and ordered Rusty to stay put, creating a tension that could be cut with a swift movement of the very same knife that the gunsmith had just pulled out. I wasn’t afraid of failing, since I had checked the information several times with different sources, yet the sight of all the weapons surrounding me made stay alert, ready to face whatever surprise that would come.

The gunsmith took the cigar out of his mouth and began to laugh uncontrollably, to the point were he began to hit the counter with one arm and hold onto his knees with the other. After he managed to calm himself to a reasonable level, he picked up his knife and shook my hand while both of us smiled. In my case, the reason for this was the sweet satisfaction of being right.

“I like you mate, you’re either smart or fucking crazy”, The man claimed as he discarded his cigar and picked another one from the pack, offering me one, “Take a fag”.

I recognized the brand as one made after our arrival on the planet and distributed by Elite Corp., made from local components and a small and controlled dose of aleph in the recipe. The product stood above all others due to this last fact, since drugs imbued with the substance could destroy a person’s nervous system or cause mutations if prepared improperly, something that was fairly common. This one, however, guaranteed the safety of the mind, as well as a temporary increase in one’s constitution without the need of an aleph infusion to the body. I accepted the gift and let the gunsmith light it, feeling how all tensions abandoned my body and my senses heightened in a pleasurable way, as well as my muscles strengthening.

“Now, let’s talk business”, I said after expelling a yellowy smoke out of my mouth, “I’m willing to pay you in gold for calling Lycus Dion and setting up a meeting”.

“Fine by me, but how are you going to make them allow your demands?”, The gunsmith asked as a devilish smile adorned his face, “Come on, surprise me”.

Excited by his challenge, I grabbed my backpack and opened, searching amongst the chaos inside for Dion’s cassette and player, kept inside a case and wrapped in several layers of cloth to ensure its conservation is perfect state. When I took it out and showed it to Omar, the man became speechless for a moment after witnessing my ticket to a meeting with the Raiders.

“Holy shit”, The gunsmith said, “Is that a fake?”

“No, it’s the real one”, I proudly answered him, “Lycus Dion’s music mixtape”.

“That motherfucker might just kiss you”, Omar said before taking another puff, “How did you get your hands on it?”.

“Sorry, that’s off the record”, I said to him, respecting one of my profession’s obligations “Can’t reveal my sources or what they said”

“So, you’re paying right now or in installments?”

Deridus

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Re: Fiction: The Journalist
Reply #1 on: March 31, 2019, 10:35:10 PM


Hours after Omar made his call and we spent some time together to pass time, having the privilege of tasting some of his personal reserve of beer, the Raider’s ship appeared on the skies in the direction of a previously accorded meeting place at the city’s outskirts. The vehicle hovered over my position and, without landing, transported three of the rebels to the ground, the violent Lycus Dion, the cyborg Konstantin and Harec, their leader. The white-haired man walked towards me, but the Eternal Soldier pushed him aside as he came to me with an extremely volatile temper.

“If this is a fucking joke you’re dead”, Dion said, showing me his sharp teeth and gifting me with a dose of his breath. I wondered if the man was in some manner related to an unknown species of land shark and what the fuck he had taken into his mouth to have a breath that rivaled with his reputation. Much to my surprise, he was able to scare my dog, who cowered behind my legs as the soldier stood in front of me.

I showed Lycus the case where I kept the cassette and opened it, showing him his precious possession. The redhead took the mixtape and the player and quickly connected it to a pair of headphones he had brought along to check the object’s veracity. I could see the mix of impatience and hope emanating from Dion as he waited for the music to start after he pressed the play button, eventually turning into an ever-increasing smile as he followed the rhythm with his head and began to play an invisible air guitar.

“Fuck yes, finally!”, The soldier said in an incredible joy before taking his shotgun from the holster and firing it in the air, laughing and shouting like a possessed maniac and singing along with the song, making quite the memorable scene, “Yeah!”

Then, suddenly, Dion turned to me and gave me a hug with his mechanical arms, lifting me in the air, as he thanked me repeatedly, “If you ever want to kill or beat the fuck outta someone, just give me a call man”, He offered me in exchange for the favor I had just made him.

When I was finally free from Lycus’ iron grasp the leader of the Raiders walked towards me, leaving the Eternal Soldier to enjoy his music. As I finally faced Harec, I was hypnotized by his glowing eye and the black substance around it, different from the one that composed his clothes. I knew a bit about it, but seeing it in person was different than I had imagined.

“I guess you haven’t done this out of charity”, the man said to me, taking me away from his eye.

“No”, I answered after I collected my thoughts back into order, “I wanted to interview you and your Raiders”.

“An interview?”, The native asked me, reminding me that journalism was a foreign concept on the Broken Planet.

“A long chat with a lot of questions which I would like to spread around the planet”, I explained to him as I tried to control my excitement, finally having reached my objective. “Not a bad deal if you ask me”.

The man contemplated my demand in silence for a few seconds before finally giving me the awaited answer.

“Fine”.

“Rusty, start recording”.