This is the first chapter of a story I’ve started to write, hardly edited and it’s likely a few details will change.
The tall, dark man stepped into the bar, out of the freezing winds. He had a very archaic cloak draped around his shoulders, made out of some sort of dark leather. It covered most of his body, concealing all but his head. He had dark, greying hair, and he clearly hadn’t shaved for days. His dark eyes observed the room around him, searching for something.
The bar was in the south polar region of New Belgrade, a medium sized planet with a temperate climate for a good half of the year, apart from its polar regions, which were, polar.
The other half of the year, New Belgrade moved much closer to it’s sun, making the otherwise temperate regions fiery, barren and uninhabitable. The polar regions became tropical and warm.
The planet’s native flora was adapted to this cycle. Each year the plant cells switched from a green, soft, absorbent material into a dead, white, hardened matter. It was subject to intense research by the scientists of the European Union, which had a research base at the planet’s north. No civilians were allowed up there, meaning that the south was the only place for the small economy, which relied upon the EU citizens looking for a relaxing stay in a quieter part of the galaxy.
The war hadn’t reached so deep into the EU sector. In fact, the EU was probably the least affected by the war. With thousands of robots doing the fighting for them, the EU’s people were far happier compared to the Asian’s or the Antarctic’s.
The man found his the person he was looking for. He walked over, long, confident strides.
He sat next to a fairly young man. Early thirties. Brown hair, grey eyes. Pale face, twitchy. He was drinking a carbonated alcohol, sweetened, a dark lilac.
The tall, dark man put on a pair of electronic glasses. He tapped them once, and a heads up display flipped up, displaying biodata of the people he was looking at. More importantly, it also showed mana levels, as well as checking for elemental powers. The latter was what the tall, dark man was looking for.
The tall dark man sat down heavily on the stool next to the brown haired, grey eyed man. The brown haired, grey eyed man spun around on his stool, and looked at the tall, dark man.
“You could, like, sit a little further away?” The brown haired man said.
“I’m here to talk about your daughter.” The tall, dark man said.
The brown haired man sighed, dropping his glass onto the bar. It buzzed as it settled. He reached for something on the other side of his body.
“My name is Terro. I’m not who you think I am.” The tall, dark man said.
“You know what they said ten years ago?” The brown haired man said.
“No.” Terro replied.
“The exact same f***** thing.” The brown haired man said, pulling a gun out and pointing it at Terro.
“To the letter?” Terro asked. “Moving statue? What this man is having, please.”
The robot behind the counter twisted and scanned Terro. “You are of age.” It made the drink.
“Yes, to the letter.” The brown haired man said sarcastically, wiggling his gun.
“Are you being sarcastic?” Terro asked. “It’s hard to tell. This century has made language difficult.”
“This century? What was your name again?” The brown haired man asked, twisting his head.
“My name is Terro Earthshaker, alternatively Terro Stromtor, Lord of Earth.” Terro scowled. “Or Ex-Lord of Earth now.”
“And now you want to take my daughter away from me? If you really are who you say you are, who the legends say you are, then you have compassion. You have no idea what it feels like, to have a person you love taken away from you.”
The glass in Terro’s hand shattered into a thousand glowing pieces. “A person? Try your entire life. Your domain. Everything you ever worked on, anything you ever helped, and anyone who you helped- all burned in one fiery instant.” Terro said, a fiery anger burning under his voice. “I’m trying to rebuild what I lost- your daughter is the first step for that.”
“How do I know you aren’t just another one of the Queen’s dogs?” The brown haired man asked.
“You’ve heard my name before-” Terro started.
Shouts could be heard down the street.
“I’m wanted by the Queen.” Terro said.
The brown haired man listened to the shouts. “You lead them here.”
Terro paused for a moment. “We’re out of time. Where is your daughter?”
The shouts were getting closer. The brown haired man took a deep breath. “You can come with my daughter and I for now. She can make the decision herself. Do you have a ship?”
“No, I came here by shuttle.” Terro replied.
“You what?!” The brown haired man said.
“I wasn’t counting on trouble.” Terro answered, as heavily armoured soldiers burst through the door.
The soldiers were wearing full body armour, and were covered from their head to their toes. They spotted the brown haired man, holding the gun.
“This is him!” One of them yelled. “Put the gun down.”
“It’s your choice.” Terro said to the brown haired man, standing up.
The brown haired man turned the gun to the soldiers. “Why don’t you?”
“Fire at will.” One of the soldiers said.
A spray of bullets burst from the soldiers’ rifles, and the brown haired man dove behind a table. Terro, on the other hand, held up his right palm. The bullets stopped in the air, glowing slightly.
“He’s an earth elemental!” One of the soldiers yelled. “Switch to energy!”
Terro winced, and flicked his hand outwards. The bullets flew out, back to their owners. The soldier’s armour absorbed them easily.
The brown haired man looked up. He hadn’t seen Terro’s display of power.
“How are you not dead?” He asked, looking over the table and giving fire.
Terro drew his sword and lunged at the nearest soldier, slicing through the soldier’s armour like paper. The armour could take a hit from a high calibre rifle, but high calibre rounds weren’t sharper than a surgeon’s scalpel. Terro grabbed the soldier and used him as a shield from the other soldier’s energy blasts. He threw the soldier towards another soldier, sending them both tumbling.
“Your drink, sir.” The robot barman said.
Terro grabbed the moving statue/robot and smacked the remaining soldiers with it.
“I am calling the police. Stay where you areee….” The robot died.
The brown haired man stood up. “We better go. Follow me.” He reloaded his gun and walked out a back entrance.
“Can you fly a metal boat?” Terro asked, following him into a dark alleyway.
“You mean a ship? You mean you can’t?” The brown haired man asked. “Are you kidding me?”
“I can’t fly a metal boat.” Terro said, frowning. “I don’t kid. I’m a man.”
“Bloody hell.” The brown haired man cursed. “I can fly, luckily enough. In here.”
Soldiers filled the alleyway. “Down here!”
Terro followed the brown haired man into a cheap hostel, and sprinted up three flights of stairs, up the fire escape. They ran through the fire door.
“Seal the door.” The brown haired man said.
Terro twisted around and melted the hinges of the fire door. The brown haired man stopped at room 35. He squatted down and had his eye scanned.
“Welcome.” The soft, smooth voice of a computer permitted entrance.
“Xanthe! We’ve got to go, now.” The brown haired man said. “Close the door.”
Terro closed the door with his mind. He felt it mechanically lock.
“Do you want me to seal it?” Terro asked.
“So we’re trapped in here? Sure, why not?” The brown haired man said sarcastically.
Terro sealed the door.
“Oh my god. Are you kidding me?” The brown haired man said. “Xanthe. Now.”
“Dad! I heard shots! Are you OK?” Xanthe charged into the room. “Who’s that?”
Terro put his glasses on. They started to calibrate Xanthe’s power levels.
“This is Terro. We’re going to have to trust him, for now-Hold the fire door.” The brown haired man said to Terro. Terro smashed open the door.
“Xanthe, you’ve got 20 seconds to get your bag.” The brown haired man, Xanthe’s father rushed around, grabbing necessities. Xanthe did the same.
Terro walked out the door, into the corridor, facing the fire door they came in. He waited a few seconds, and frowned.
“They aren’t-” He started, as energy blasts knocked the door off it’s melted hinges.
Terro sent the door flying back where it came from. It heated up as it flew towards the unfortunate soldiers standing in the doorway. As it hit them, it turned into molten metal, pouring over the two soldiers. Terro froze the metal over their armour, immobilizing them, blocking the door.
Xanthe and her father emerged from the door behind Terro.
“Terro, let’s go.” Xanthe’s father said.
Terro blocked the doorway by levitating the screaming soldiers and fusing their new metal casing to the door. He turned around and followed Xanthe’s father down the main stairs.
“They won’t expect us to come down the main entrance.” Xanthe’s father hoped as he sprang into the lobby. “Xanthe, stay between Terro and me.”
The lobby was glassy and open, with a few couches. Very little cover. Terro heard shouts from upstairs.
“Let’s get out of here.” Xanthe’s father said, getting to the door and gesturing for Terro and Xanthe to go through the door first.
“What are you waiting for? Go!” Xanthe’s father said, running off through the snow towards the starport, up the street. Xanthe and Terro followed him.
Luckily for them, the starport was within running distance, but in the snow and the wind, it would be difficult. They reached an intersection, and Xanthe’s father was knocked over by the wind as a sudden gust caught him off-guard. He flew three meters right, down the other street.
Xanthe got to her father first. The snow around him was covered in blood, too slow, she saw the bullet-hole in his forehead. He would have been dead before he had hit the ground.
“Miss, put your hands up and come quietly!” A small squad of five soldiers had formed a concave around her, pointing their guns at her head. “This is your final warning.”
Xanthe raised her hands. “You did this.”
Terro stretched out a hand locking the soldier’s bullet’s into place- they clearly hadn’t heard he was around.
Suddenly, all of the lights in the street flickered out. The Terro and the Soldier’s heads-up-displays powered down, leaving limited vision.
Xanthe screamed as raw energy poured from her fingertips stretching out as lightning poured from her hands and into the soldier’s chests. They burned inside their armour, which could do nothing as ozone filled the air.
Xanthe turned towards Terro, energy glowing around her. “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t burn you right now!”
“Xanthe, I’m trying to help you!” Terro yelled over the wind.
Xanthe either didn’t care or couldn’t hear, so an arc of lightning sizzled through the air towards Terro.
“Everything was fine until you showed up!” She yelled, as an explosion of energy ran through the area. Terro lifted a lamppost and turned it into a disc of hot metal, blocking it. Xanthe collapsed from the exhaustion. Terro sighed and walked over to her, and picked her up in a fireman’s lift.
An EU dropship warped in overhead, filled with combat robots. They dropped from the sky, surrounding the remaining soldiers.
Terro walked into the starport and found a small, sleek Skyhawk, a tiny two wing, twin capillary engine EU-designed craft for civilian use. No warp drive. This particular model was armed with light blaster, meaning that it’s owner had prepared it for light battle.
Terro used his powers to open the lock manually, entering the small vehicle. It had two pilots seats, and a small bed to one side. It was one room, with about half of it plastaglass cockpit arcing around and under the two pilots seats. There was two sets of manual controls.
“Warning- Ship has been breached. Warning!” The ships computer wailed.
“Shut up.” Terro growled. He put Xanthe’s limp body on the bed, and sat down on the right pilot’s chair. He took his coat off and draped it over Xanthe’s body.
“Identify yourself!” The computer said.
“I am Terro Earthshaker, Lord of Stromtor, Lord of Earth. I require this ship in order to escape from the militia of Asia.”
“You have been identified as: Simon Leighft, MI7. Status: Deceased.” The computer said. “You are not authorised!”
“Authorise me then!” Terro yelled.
“What is the maiden name of your mother?” The computer asked, as smug as a computer can be.
Terro glared back at the computer. He didn’t have a mother. He took a deep breath. He could feel the computer- all the thousands of tiny intricate pieces. Gold, copper, some strange metal somewhere between metal and nonmetal, with tiny impurities. The tiny parts of the computer on their own meant nothing, but together, as a whole, had created something akin to life.
The memory storage in this life, though, wasn’t made out of biological parts. This memory storage was made out of metal, earth substances which Terro could control.
Terro held a hand over the computer. His fingers twitched, and every file on the computer was erased, including the security protocols. The computer had a safety mechanism which rebooted the ai, resetting it.
“Welcome to Skyhawk! Congratulations on your new ship. First you’ll need to login, or make a new account. Or would you prefer to start in offline mode?” The computer ai was back.
“Cease your speaking.” Terro ordered. “Take me away from here.”
The computer said nothing, complying to Terro’s command. Instead, words appeared on the screen.
I’m sorry, I can’t do that for you.
Terro glared hatefully at the screen. He flashed his hand again.
“Welcome to Skyhawk! Congratulations on your new ship. First you’ll need to login, or make a new account. Or would you prefer to start in offline mode?” The computer was reset once more.
Terro considered his options. He could “log-in”. It must mean he needed a log. A ship’s log? A watchman’s log? Terro had none of these things. How about a-count? Thought Terro. That meant numbers, which was something Terro didn’t want to deal with. Off-line. Off, line. Line was a newfangled word in Terro’s time- something traders and old sailors had brought in to the castle. It meant a form of rope. Terro knew what off meant. Offline must meant off the rope. Rope’s hold up ship’s masts, Terro had travelled enough to know that, so going offline wasn’t something he wanted to do.
Though numbers weren’t Terro’s favorite thing, the only option he had was to “make a new a-count.”
“I would like to make a new a-count.” Terro said, scowling.
“What’s your name?” The computer asked.
“Terro Earthshaker, Lord of Stromtor, Lord of Earth.” Terro stated.
“What is your communication identification?” The computer asked.
“What?” Terro asked.
“What is your communication identification?” The computer asked
“I do not have one.” Terro responded.
“You require a communication identification.” The computer said.
“Can you just fly us out of here?” Terro said.
“As soon as you login with an account.” The computer said.
Terro had lost his patience. He felt the computer, and fried the very hot part.
The holo-screen disappeared. Terro sighed. No-one had found them yet. It seemed that the metal men were not after him, and there were enough of them to handle the men who were after him.
Terro leaned back in the chair, and closed his eyes. He sealed the door with his powers- no one would be able to get in without a considerable amount of noise. He took a deep breath, and tried to get some sleep.
By Alex Joshi