Micro Manage Part II

Micro did not keep beer around, but Talon stopped and got a few on Tern’s dime. The first thing that surprised Talon was that Micro had his own house. Sure, it was no mansion and was certainly run down, but Talon had never met anyone who owned their own home before—not one with a roof and four walls anyway.

Micro led him through the high chain link fence that surrounded the debris filled yard. “Not much for yardwork are you?” Talon said, as he kicked a wet box out of his way.

Talon

Talon

“I’m more of an indoor person,” Micro said and, as if to prove his point, he rushed to the front door with keys already in hand. “You might as well come on in. Ah, forgive the mess. I haven’t had visitors for a while.”

Piles of magazines tilted on every flat surface. Talon picked one up while Micro locked the door. It was super-tech babble that might as well have been in another language as far as Talon was concerned. The place had a faint odor of unwashed dishes and unemptied trash. Looking the place over, Talon figured he had seen PR squats that were better maintained than this place. Still, with Tern’s wallet, he was already up for the night and if he could get a free meal out of this, so much the better. Although, with the smells wafting in from the kitchen unit, he was not feeling particularly hopeful.
Micro hurried to lift about a dozen magazines off a chair. He stacked them onto another pile, causing them all to fall to the floor. Cursing, he gave up and brought Talon’s beer into the kitchen.

“You have anything to eat?” Talon called after him as he picked up the top magazine. Netrunning was the title. Most of the other magazines seemed to be along the same lines. “So what do you do for a living?”

Micro

Micro

“I ah, I run my own business.”

“You must be pretty successful.”

“I do ok.”

Micro brought him an opened ale. “I have a few things in my wave. They will be ready soon.”

Talon nodded and then took a long pull. “Well, it must be nice having your cube.”

“It gets a little lonely. I…I don’t like to go out.”

“Why were you out today?”

Streets f New Cluster

Streets f New Cluster

It was an innocent enough question, but it made Micro go pale and he hurried back into the kitchen. He did not rush to return. Before long, Talon grew bored. He tried the magazines again, but there was not much to sink his teeth into. A stray piece of porn had found its way into the stack and he looked over the pictures idly, while he waited. His beer was nearly empty, before Micro finally returned.

“Ah… so Talon, I…I’m not trying to be rude, but it seems like you might be somebody interested in making a few Universals.”

Raising his eyes slowly, he said, “That depends on what you have in mind.”

“Oh, oh, nothing like that. Nothing like that. It’s just, well perhaps I wasn’t completely honest about why the Rips were dashing me before.”

“Oh here we go.” Talon’s statement shut Micro down and it was only with more prompting that he was able to continue.

“ I…well, I have been working on a small project for the X. They are another gang of Bangers.”

“I know who they are.” A pause stretched. “What would freaks like that need from you?”

“I’m not sure why I should be telling you.”

“I suppose that if the Rips had gut you, you would not be telling me anything. And I have a feeling that you were not working on some accounting program.”

Micro showed signs of nervousness. He began to pace and could not take his eyes off the floor. “True, I’m not sure…never mind. The X were working on some sort of raid. I think they were after some chemicals or something. I don’t know. I don’t really want to know. I was to deliver the program to them as soon as I was done. I guess the Rips must have found out about it. Maybe they don’t want the X getting any stronger.”

“Like this triple X porn you got over here?”

Micro blanched and lost his ability to form words, so Talon went on. “You still have not told me what they wanted you to do.”

Finding a spine at last, Micro demanded, “I’m still not sure why I should tell you.”

“Unless you want to invite the X over here, you are going to be needing some help.”

“Why, what do you want for helping me?”

“How about half of the profits.”

“Are you mad?”

A

“Not as mad as those Rips are.”

“I’ll think about…you know the X haven’t even paid me.”

“That is not surprising.”

“So you would help me get there AND get my money?”

“And maybe even get home safely.”

“Yes get home. I don’t like being on the streets. I wish I could just send it through the innervid, but it could be traced. I have to hand it to them.”

“So are we partners?”

Looking at him at last. “Yes, I accept your offer.” There was another long pause. “The program is designed to shut off the security systems at Imotech chem. I finished it. Now all we have to do is get it to them and make sure they pay us.”

Talon Smiled. “Cool, how much are we going to make?”

“Enough to keep you in subs until the world runs out of ale, buds,” He smiled.

 

You can learn more about Talon, Micro, and New Cluster here!

 

Creepy Corridor

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Micro Manage Part I

It was a cold dry day in New Cluster. The evening sun painted the smog a dirty crimson. Talon walked alone, or as alone as anyone could be in a city of twenty million.

 

144

Hardened boots drove a rhythm into the pavement as he dodged trash, dregs, and things more dangerous. Becoming too lost in one’s thoughts was a luxury ill afforded amongst the streets of New Cluster. Like the animals that used to live in the Earth’s savannahs, whether one was predator or prey, they had to remain constantly vigilant. Sometimes Talon wondered where he fit in that spectrum and he needed figure it out.

Talon had an extra reason to be careful. One of the biggest gangs of Bangers in south New Cluster had him at the top of their Shit List. Sure, he had straightened things with their leader, Ax, but that did not keep the droogs that had ended up on the wrong side of Talon’s baseball bat from wanting to flatten him.

 

Talon

Talon

Darkness had already claimed the crumbling streets, when he heard a frantic shout. It came from within a decaying brick shelter that had long since lost its war against the elements. It loomed dark and roofless; the tumbling walls cast long shadows that concealed whoever might lie within.

The shouting continued, clearer this time. “No, please let me keep it. What represents only a few Universals for you,” there was a pained grunt, “represents long months of work for me.”

Another figure moved in the gloom. “That won’t matter when I splatter your blood over these walls?”

 

1444

The figure moved again and he saw the tattooed skull and blood red mohawk. It was a Rip and one he recognized as Strang. Without considering the consequences, Talon lifted up a brick, waited until he could see the man’s skull again, and then whipped the brick against it as hard as he could.

Strang collapsed with a yell, but more shouting quickly followed, and two more Rips raced out of the abandoned building. Another brick filled his hand and Talon was pleased to see it fly true taking a second Rip in the nose. The Banger stumbled and fell. For the moment, he just lay there groaning.

A bright light flashed, its narrow beam lighting up the ruins. It lasted just long enough for Talon to see that this last Rip had drawn a long dagger. Its rusty blade was the size of a man’s forearm. Talon was forced to backpedal as the Banger approached. Soon, he was past his supply of loose bricks

As his eyes combed the ground for more weapons, he said, great, I’m in the only place in New Cluster without mounds of trash covering everything.”

 

1443

“Talon, I should have known. When will you stop poking that stupid PR head of yours where it doesn’t belong?” He suddenly laughed, edging closer. “I guess I know the answer to that question. As of tonight, cause you ain’t gonna be seein’ mornin’.”

“Now listen. Your Tern right. We could-”

“Save it, gutter boy. I’m going to open you like a can of soup.”

Another bright flash occurred. Tern went limp and toppled to the ground with a loud thud. His body began to bounce and quiver in a discomforting manner.

Talon watched it for a moment until a new form emerged. On the surface, this new figure appeared far less intimidating than the last. He was short and thin, even frail. Narrow shoulders huddled over some small device that emitted a slight glow. The dim light bathed the man’s face in an eerie electric radiance.

“Who are you?” the young man asked, stepping closer, Talon saw that he was dressed in a simple outfit, more utilitarian than fashionable. His brown vent was creased and stained along its left side. A clean-shaven boyish face met a tangle of dirty blonde hair.

 

Micro

Micro

Extending his hand, he said, “The name is Talon. If you were the one that just took out the riff, then I guess we’re even.” Only then, when the new man refused to shake his hand, did Talon see that the small device pointed towards him.

Seconds stretched. “And you are?”

“Oh sorry, I’m…. I’m Micro.”

“Micro, huh? Were the Rips after you for any reason? I’ve had run ins with them before?”

“What? No, no, I uh… they were trying to mug me I guess.”

Squatting down next to Tern, Talon began to go through his pockets as he continued. “Yeah, I suppose it’s been known to happen. These guys aren’t choir boys”

“What are you doing?”

“What, this? Times are tough, man. A guy’s gotta eat. I’m not like these Rips who just take, but if a guy comes at me with a knife, he deserves to have his load lightened at the very least.”

Micro looked behind him as the first Rip began to groan. “The stunning won’t last much longer.”

“Then I suppose we should be on our way. Thanks for the fun and I’ll think of you when I’m eating.”

“You look hungry.”

Talon stood up, but looked away from Micro for a moment. “I have a job, I’m not some dreg, but it’s a few days before payday and well…”

“So you were just walking by?”

“Yeah?”

“Why did you help me?”

Tucking Tern’s Universals into his jacket, he answered, “not sure really. I just hate Rips and Strang in particular. Besides, I guess I would hope somebody would help me if I was in trouble.”

 

Micro hesitated. Strang groaned again. “Come to my home with me. I could fix you some dinner at my place. It’s the least I can do.”

“Is there beer?”

 

Learn More About Talon, Micro, and New Cluster here!

 

Cyber-sick

Cyber-sick

The Climax of Cluster F

One trip to the bank-in-the-box later, Talon found himself a hundred universals richer, which almost made up for the ten-mile chase and the slash across his ribs. Marty and Talon parted ways and he had a feeling the extra money Marty would be making could be the only thing saving their friendship.

 

Dark Hair
There were only a few more hours of daylight left and he had to work that morning, but there was still something he had to do.

 
Belter was where he thought he would be and he had a fistful of cash. It would have been tempting to trash the junky and keep the money, but the Rips knew where both he and Marty lived and would be coming back for them.

 
That didn’t keep him from pocketing an extra three-hundred however. How could the Rips really know how much Belter had spent.
Belter wined and protested the whole way to the Rip headquarters, but he had taken enough Cain to kill three normal people, so there wasn’t much that he could do.

 
Ax and most of his Bangers had returned to their dilapidated quarters, which was little more than a windowless building covered with graffiti.

Carnival of Blood
Walking into the dark building, like he owned the place, Talon pushed Belter so hard that he was dashed to the trash littered floor.
The Rips surrounded them at once. Weapons were drawn and Talon was beginning to wonder if he was going to make it through this. “You led us on quite a chase, punk,” Ax said, while glaring down at him. He held his namesake in his right hand and from the looks of its stained blade it had seen quite some use.

 
“If I had known that Belter had planted the tracker in my jacket, I might have let you catch me.”

 
“The tracker,” his voice slowed. “What about my syn?”

 
“I never saw any of that. Belter got away with both that and the money I guess.”

 

Cluster F'ed Talon

Cluster F’ed Talon

“He’s lying,” Belter managed to get out, before Ax kicked him across the jaw.

 
“We’ll deal with your sorry ass later and believe me we are going to take our time.”

 
Stepping forward, Talon handed Ax what was left of his cash. “I could have kept this, but I figured if you got it back it would be good enough to keep you out of my path.”

 
Ax took the money, while never taking his eyes of Talon.

 
“Come on, what about the Cain,” the guy Talon had given the black eye to was complaining. “One of these dregs must have it.”

 

That little Roach, Belter

That little Roach, Belter

“I don’t know what the story is,” Talon said holding up his hands. “All I know is that I don’t have it and I didn’t find it on Belter. Perhaps you can ferret the hiding place out of him?’

 
“Oh, I think we can manage that,” Ax said, grinning enough to show his filed down canines. Beneath them Belter whimpered.

 
“So we are square then?”

Eating Your Buddies

Eating Your Buddies

“It took a lot of balls coming here,” Ax said, and then just stared at him. The lights of the candles made his eyes glow red. The pause wore on, making Talon nervous, until Ax finally said, “yeah we’re square for now, but if I hear about you moving any syn, I’ll make you wish you could trade places with this little shit.” A kick to Belter’s ribs brought out another cry.

 
Favoring them with a wane smile, Talon turned and exited the building. He still didn’t feel safe until he was halfway home. The sun came up before he got there. It was only three more hours until he had to start on the dishes. It was going to be a long rough day, but he had somehow made more money than he usually did in a week. He patted the money where it sat in his jacket and he hummed one of his favorite tunes as he turned down his street.

Ripper

Ripper

 

Cluster F Part V

Having Marty along side him as he continued his mad race across the outskirts of the New Cluster was more hindrance than help. Besides Marty’s constant complaining, he was slower and more awkward than Talon and had already almost gotten them caught twice.
“Talon, if we get through this without being killed,” he panted, “I’m going to kill you.”

Hand of Blood
No matter what they did, the Rips found them and were always on their tail. “Don’t you have an Enforcer plan?” Talon struggled to say as they raced under a vehicle overpass.

 
“Yeah, for two-hundred a month.” Talon knew what that meant. Marty could file a report with a one cop, but that was about it. Such a plan would barely be enough to let them into a cop shop. They were going to have to think of something else.

 

Punker Chick
Looking behind him, Talon saw the bobbing mohawks of the Rips come into view, silhouetted against the endless lights of the city. “We better get moving,” he said, then hugged his jacket closer to him. That was when he felt something in his pocket. Pulling it out, he found that it was a small package wrapped in plastic. It gave a bit under his fingers… like… it… was… filled… with… powder.

 
“Oh damn,” he swore to himself.

 
“Come on Talon they are coming,” Marty said, but Talon barely heard him. He was staring at the small blinking red light trapped in the center of the package. “Talon what is it?” Marty persisted.

 

That little Roach, Belter

That little Roach, Belter

“That little roach,” his said, anger flooding his words. “Come on!”

 
The Rips were almost upon them when Talon took them up the other side of the bridge. They hurried up the sandy incline and hadn’t reached the top, before they heard curses following them from below. Ignoring them, Talon raced to the side of the road.

 

Rooftop
“Keep an eye out for me,” Talon said. “Let me know if they get too close.”

 
“They’re already too close.”

 
Despite his friend’s warning, Talon waited. He knew what he was looking for. Marty squealed in panic, but Talon wouldn’t be moved from his spot on the side of the road. He could hear the Bangers, they were nearly to the pair. He was just thinking he might have to take up the run again, when he saw what he was looking for.

 
A large truck barreled towards them, drawing a flatbed behind it. Without hesitation, Talon tore the blinking light out of the package and then tossed it onto the junk filled bed of the truck. Like a demon’s missing eye, the red device flew through the air, hit the back of the cab, and then landed in the bed of the truck.

 
As soon as that was done, Talon grabbed Marty’s arm and they hid behind a pile of trash. The Rips came up only seconds later and the pair tried to hold their breath as a stream of curses flew from their lips that would have made an inmate on death row blush.

 
“They must have jumped onto a vehicle,” Ax spat.

 
“What are we going to do?”

Mace

Mace

“Don’t worry, he can’t hide,” Ax said, but was already moving away from them. A minute later they were gone from sight.
Looking down, Marty pointed at the packet. “What’s that?”

 
“Oh, I almost forgot. This was what they were looking for. My guess is that it is Cain.”

 
“What are you going to do with it? That must be worth a thousand universals easy.”

 
“My inclination is to toss it into a sewer.”

 
Marty was hesitant. “I might know someone who would pay good money for it.”

 
“I don’t want to deal with it.”

 
“You wouldn’t have to.”

 
“Okay, give me a hundred universals bucks and it is yours.”

 

Check out more New Cluster Action Here!!!

 

leatherface

Cluster F Part IV

It wasn’t that easy.

Cluster F'ed Talon

Cluster F’ed Talon

No matter what he did he couldn’t seem to ditch these freaks. He hid in drainpipes and raced through yards. Once when he tried a dumpster. They almost had him surrounded, when he wisely chose to flee before he became trapped.

 

Rippers

Rippers

He had been moving more or less at random, just trying to stay alive. After over an hour of this, he found himself near Marty’s house. Marty was the coolest of the cooks he worked with. He hated to endanger him, but if he could just make sure he lost these street scum before he got to Marty’s place, then Talon could probably just lay low there for the rest of the night. Hell, if he kept his cool, Marty wouldn’t even have to know.

bloodmouth_460x356
Putting the last of his energy into a frantic sprint, he raced into the complex that housed his friend.
When his banging was finally answered, he rushed into Marty’s room. “Geez Talon, nice to see you too,” the cook said. Marty was about seven years older than Talon’s twenty-five. Ruffled strings of dyed black hair, set off the ghostly pallor of his white face. Marty was a bit of a Goth, but Talon tried not to hold it against him. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

 

The Baron
Forcing a smile, Talon said, “hey there Marty. I was in the neighborhood, so I thought I would drop by and say hello.”

 

Carnival of Blood
“More likely, you ran out of beer. It’s still four days till we get paid. You need to learn how to budget. Take me for instance, I-“
A loud bang rattled Marty’s front door. It was a mighty attack, like someone was trying to kick the door in with one blow.
“What the hell was that?” It only took Marty a few extra seconds to catch on. “Oh crap, you’re in trouble, aren’t you?”

 

Face Biter
“Let us in you wormy little bastard.” The angry shout was only slightly muffled by the door.

Dark Hair
“Is there another way out?” Talon asked.
“Damn Talon. What have you gotten me into? I’m going to kick your ass-“
Another loud bang sounded on the door. “Marty?”
“Arrr,” he growled. “This way, but if those losers trash my cube, I’m taking it out on you.”

 

Learn more about Talon and New Cluster Here!!!

 

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Cluster F Part III

Wincing as he grabbed his beer, Talon cursed the Banger that had cut him. It was his last beer, which meant he was going to have to go out if he wanted to get any more. Despite the pain, he was still debating his options, since he only had four universals to his name.
Something went flying through one of his windows. The scattered glass seemed to freeze in mid air and he already sent himself into motion. His jacket was in his hand, before the shards hit the floor. He was moving to the door when something big slammed into it from the other side. It was a security door, but he knew that it wouldn’t last long.

 

Patchwork man
The bat he had stolen from Mucci leaned against the wall near the door. Fingers closed around it just as the door crashed open. Some God of blind luck and fools was watching over him, for the door slammed back concealing him, as the Bangers raced into his apartment.
He stayed where he was, as one of them called out, “We know who you are Talon and we’re not going to let some dysfunc PR to dice us.”
“Come on Ax, he must be in back.”

Rippers

Rippers

Most of them sounded like they were heading into his little bedroom. It wouldn’t take them long to discover that he wasn’t there. Quickly bracing his boot on the side of the door he kicked it closed as hard as he could. As he had hoped, a loud grunt was heard from the other side. Keeping a tight grip on his bat he flung the door back open. Before him one Banger sat on his ass in the hallway clutching his face while blood spilled out over his fingers. The other was the Banger he had fought earlier; complete with the black eye he had given him.

My brain

For a moment their eyes locked and neither moved, but then the others could be heard moving behind him. The bat lashed out and took the Banger in the temple and he cried in pain. Talon’s elbow smacked him, bowling him over as he moved. The Banger tripped over his stunned ally and went down. Talon hit the stairs. He knew the building better than all of them combined and disappeared like a paycheck.

 

Learn more about New Cluster here!

 

New Cluster

New Cluster

Cluster F

Two skins brushed roughly past him and Talon growled when they spilled three sips of cheap beer on his boots. Worse yet, it was his own. Despite his true desires, he let it go. No need to go down in history as being the first one to start a fight at the Meg-O-Show.
For once, Talon’s seven inch red mohawk didn’t leave him feeling out of place, for the Meg-O-Show was about punks playing for punks. It wasn’t being held in some stuffy auditorium, it was out in a weed filled City Park. Surrounding him were the biggest group of PRs he had ever seen. Tattoos, brandings, and multiple piercing were mainstream here. Compared to the hardcore action going on around him, Talon was feeling tame.

Punk Show
A tall man, with a goatee and full sleeves, strutted his stuff with a smile while leading a young girl on a dog chain behind him. A gang of PR Bangers pushed their way through the crowd violently, and he was just able to move out of their way in time to save his beer.
This encounter left him feeling a little on edge. These events were supposed to be fun, but it was also like entering a war zone. Times in New Cluster were tough. The people were fighting for scraps and living like dregs, when everyone wanted to be a star.
Talon didn’t need to be famous to be happy, but he couldn’t have told you what he really wanted. Living in New Cluster left one’s feelings blunted. Everything was din, dirt, and grime. His life was a maze of square buildings connected by gravel and debris. The only place he could see real plants were inside the Posh stores and government offices. It weighted on him knowing that it was a five hundred mile train ride to the nearest natural tree.
Sometimes he thought that he might be happy and could have settled for a young woman in his bed and a kitchen full of food, but there were times where he felt he didn’t even want that.

Cluster F'ed Talon

Cluster F’ed Taon

Lost in his own thoughts, he kicked a pile of discarded bottles. They clattered loudly over the rocky soil. A few faces turned to look at him and he wondered why he couldn’t find someone he knew. Talon was a loner by nature, but at a show like this it wasn’t safe to be alone. Sure people would keep cooled for a while, the bands were barely starting, but once darkness set… it would be another story. Talon was no poseur. He came for the music. Still, he didn’t kid himself; he had just enough to have something someone would want to steal.
Girls wearing less than face cloths, mixed with geared up Bangers. He watched the freaks, taking them in. So far the rival gangs had ignored each other, but he knew that wouldn’t be lasting much longer.
“Talon, Talon,” turning without recognizing the voice, he saw the face, which he unfortunately did recognize.
Moving through the crowd in an attempt to reach him was Belter. Belter had a head of patchy brown hair and a taunt sunken face with a repetitive tick that jerked the right side of his lips back. He favored darker colored clothes mixed with grays.
Belter was a burner and had been for a long while now. Talon had been avoiding Belter since the drugs took ownership of his soul. The man had once worked as a line cook at the Posh restaurant where Talon still slung dishes. From what Talon had heard, Belter had tried the synth powder called Cain and that was all it took. The poor guy had tried to hold it together and keep his job, but when he was busted stealing top shelf bottles of booze, he was tossed out onto the street. Talon hadn’t seen him much since then and the few times he had, he wished he hadn’t.
“Hey Talon, Hey old buddy.”
“Hey Belter,” he answered, with much less enthusiasm. They shook hands. Belter’s were clammy and slick.

Belter

Belter

“What’s going on?” He was talking quickly. Belter’s mouth jerked and moved while he spoke. It was easy to tell he was really high. Since he didn’t look too good, Talon couldn’t help but wonder where the guy had found enough money to be floating so well. He sighed. Junkies had their ways.
“I’m just here to enjoy the bands.” Looking around at the others present, “Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one.”
“Oh yeah,” his head flew in every direction, but towards Talon as he spoke. “Have you seen any of the Rips around?” Talon knew the Rips well… they were one of the biggest gangs in the area and certainly one of the most dangerous.
“What the hell do you want to talk to them for?”

“Oh just a business deal. You know I’m always out to make a fews smacks.” Facing Talon at last, he asked a in a softer voice, “Speaking of which, are you looking for anything?”
“Not what you’re selling.”
“Have you ever even tried Cain? I could give you-“
“Goodbye Belter,” Talon said, already turning away. Belter called a few words after him, but Talon continued on his way.

 

 

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Ripper

Ripper