Benjamin Wray: Acid Reign: Genesis

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  • Название:
    Acid Reign: Genesis
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Leather Bound
  • Жанр:
    sf_postapocalyptic / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2018
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    978-1-983-76139-3
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    3 / 5
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Acid Reign: Genesis: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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In a mutated and desolate future, where a corrupt government, commerce barons, and renegades fight for control, a group of scavengers has to choose self-preservation or save what’s left of humanity.

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Benjamin Wray

ACID REIGN

GENESIS

For Lucy, Capri, and Breylon.

Your future is truly yours to create.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This one requires more than one round of thanks, so please allow me a small list.

I owe thanks first to Emily, for the incalculable value of her constructive criticism, encouragement, understanding, love and perfect partnership.

Thank you Nathan, for the seed of Acid Reign and all the late nights of world building we spend delving into countless possibilities.

A special thanks to D.L, Jared, Mikaylee, Nathan, Dave, Jason, Elwon, Cathy, Tyson, and Carolyn for bringing their characters to life, and to everyone who has, in all of their glorious capacities, come to one of our test shoots.

Thanks to Robert Wright for his amazing and insightful art.

Finally yet importantly, a very grateful thanks to Angela, who graciously edited most likely the roughest first draft ever.

One

“You never really get used to the Fringe. It tests you. It beats on you, and just when you think you might have actually figured out how to subdue its ferocity, it burns what’s left. It doesn’t burn like fire or like the sun on a blistering day, it burns like small flames of electricity that dance across your nerves, doing just enough damage to drive you mad.”

-Journal of the Unknown-

Rust stains seemed to make the walls bleed as Lilly made her way through the cluttered hallway. The subtle click and hiss of her radiation breather combined with the sway of her helmet light eerily gave life to the otherwise silent structure. Shadows danced in every direction.

She took a deep breath and scanned the floor with her helmet light. She knew better than to let her imagination unsettle her, but she was still relieved that there were no other footprints in the dust.

The office doors had rotted long ago, leaving the hardware hanging oddly in some of the frames. Lilly scanned the rooms on both sides of the hall, finding only a few pieces of worthless furniture blanketed in dust. Like everything else outside of Nucrea, the Androdyne Transport Factory had also become a corpse, mummified in the unforgiving way of the Fringe.

When Nun gave Lilly the contact, he had explained that Androdyne was a transport manufacturer for Theonicorp’s shipping fleet. It wasn’t a military company, but he was willing to pay just as much for anything here as he would for weapons or materials from the old army bases. He also told her that he would pay double for any type of data file she could find, even if it seemed like it might not work. If it had “Theonicorp” on it, he wanted it.

Her leg caught on the edge of a chair, knocking it off balance. She held her breath and closed her eyes waiting for the sound of Fringers to come rushing towards the noise.

Nothing.

Her lungs started to burn, reminding her to breathe. This was her first scavenging contract without Ripp or Gus, and thinking about fighting a group of Fringers alone made her miss the security of their company more than ever. It didn’t matter how experienced you were, or how well you prepared, the Fringe was unpredictable.

This was going to be Lilly’s chance to prove she could hold her own, and if she could pull this contract off herself, Ripp would finally have to stop treating her like a child.

Through the sea of dust particles suspended in the air, she saw broken chairs and rusted metal containers piled in front of an unexpected dead end.

“Seriously?”

Nun had given her the grid location and the blueprint of the building himself, so she knew it had to be accurate, but according to the blueprint there should have been a room right in front of her, not a stupid wall.

She didn’t have time for walls. Nun had made a big deal about giving her information for the contract before it actually posted, promising her that she would have a whole day ahead of everyone else. She knew better, and as much as she wanted to feel special, someone would be coming soon.

One thing was for sure, the man who controlled Nucrea’s black market couldn’t be trusted, and it wouldn’t be a contract with Nun, if there wasn’t any competition.

She had to get through the wall, but she knew she couldn’t risk the noise of an explosion. Irritated, she pulled back her sleeve and activated the display on her Pigeon that she secretly borrowed from Ripp. The blue and white screen displayed a hologram of the factory. With two fingers, Lilly turned the hologram to align with the hallway she was in, and then zoomed out so she could see the whole area. After pushing a series of buttons, a miniature yellow version of herself appeared on the hologram and began replicating her movements.

The digital clone slid down a hillside, jogged through a crater, climbed up steep broken stairs and stopped at a group of concrete walls. It looked down at its arm, hurried over to a mound of dirt then disappeared into a hole. The hologram’s point of view followed Lilly’s digital double through the hole, pivoted, and then followed her through the hallway. The replay froze and disappeared as it matched Lilly’s current location. She looked at the blueprint again and verified that there was supposed to be a room in front of her.

“Supposed to be right… there,” she yelled to herself. “Right there!”

She yanked her sleeve back over the Pigeon, and started to make her way through the piles of rusted metal and fallen ceiling tiles. She stopped and looked around as if some magical veil fell from her eyes and realized what must have happened. She moved forward and quickly shoved the empty containers and rotten debris to the side. The scratches and gouges on the wall only meant one thing, people had wanted in. She saw a line in the middle of the wall that ran from the ceiling to the floor. She realized that it wasn’t a wall, it was a door.

Lilly never thought she would be so grateful that Ripp had forced her to spend all of those hours, learning how to rewire control panels, bypass security measures, and reroute power.

Kneeling, she pulled out a portable battery from the bottom of her pack and set it next to a broken human ribcage. Lilly was used to human remains. Any building, somewhat intact, was bound to have a few bodies. Gus would say that “a dead body was always better than a Fringer, because dead bodies didn’t do anything except sit there looking dead. Fringers, on the other hand, wanted to kill you then eat you, or eat you and let that kill you”. Lilly loved the way Gus always explained things to her.

The panel on the wall was easy to pry open. She was relieved that the wiring was simple enough. After quickly cutting the wires and connecting them to a hacking device, she hooked everything up to the portable battery and turned it on.

Everything was easy to open in the Fringe. Lock boxes fell apart when you moved them. Hidden doors and secret rooms were easy to see. Even safes were easy to pry open with a little force. Mechanical metal doors were easy enough if you knew what to do-and thanks to long afternoons with Ripp, Lilly knew what to do. The door mechanics looked intact, but she hoped that the internal wiring hadn’t been too damaged. After a short hesitation, she turned the portable battery on. The battery hummed and the keypad blinked, illuminating the dark corner in green and white.

Runners spent most of their time in the Fringe sorting through garbage and useless junk hoping to find something they might be able to sell. She could do that, too, but she wanted to be like Ripp, and Gus, and Red, and Tooth and the others that actually went to the Fringe for high-paying missions. That’s where the glory was: being a top contract runner for Nucrea.


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