It Went from a Spark to an Open Flame*

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Dumastin
Posts: 374
Joined: 13 May 2010, 14:28

It Went from a Spark to an Open Flame*

Post by Dumastin » 15 Sep 2017, 11:55

The Namekian groaned as he slid down the wall, head rolling backward to rest in the deep impression he’d made as he slammed into the steel. Lights blazed intermittently in his sight as they swung from cables suspended from the ceiling; the impact’s shock had set them to swinging, and now they cast crazed shadows as they moved. The floor shook as heavy footsteps grew closer, and he raised his head just a bit, just enough to see the skeletal form stomping toward him. The lights glittered off of shiny chrome highlights, and a pair of red lights focused on him from within that inhuman face…

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If he had thought New Hope was overwhelming, New Haven was worse by miles. The city-state teemed with people of every shape, size, and color. But the other thing that struck him was that nobody seemed to actually *care* about him; he’d grown used to attracting people’s glances during his time in New Hope, but here, he drew no further attention than did anyone else. A Gigas with some sort of massive custom heavy-duty frame lumbered its way down the sidewalk chatting with a Hydian girl riding on its shoulder, and nobody paid any mind beyond making way. A couple of Saiyans were laughing about something which rapidly sparked into a fistfight, and the crowd parted around them until they’d finished their business and picked themselves off the ground, now walking away, laughing once more.

People walked, floated, flew. Cars moved along both street and sky, threading between towering skyscrapers that would have cast the entire city into a sort of perpetual late-evening gloom for much of the day if it hadn’t been for the sun lamps posted at various locations to augment the natural light during the day. He could even see, from here, the enormous City Center building, towering so far above the others that the entire structure was apparently rumored to incorporate counter-gravity generators just to support itself, its surface a glittering silver.

He’d simply shaken his head and walked aimlessly for some time. He spent a full day just wandering, getting water when he needed it, taking in the sights.

It wasn’t until he sat down to eat an armload of food he’d bought from some streetside stand that he’d noticed, while replacing his sparse change in his bag, an unusual glow emanating from within the survival satchel. He’d dug in it until he’d come up with a small cube, and a moment later he remembered that it had been wrapped with the note that had guided him to this world in the first place. A quizzical look on his face, he turned the cube over in his hands, inspecting it for any kind of detail as he chewed at some sort of mystery meat wrapped in fried dough. One face of it was glowing at all times, but as he turned it over, the face went black, and another lit. He swallowed the last bite, licking his lips as he held up the cube on his palm, then he straightened from the wall he’d been leaning on and turned slowly, watching as the light shifted from side to side. He turned back the other way briefly, just to see, then nodded and started walking.


Unexpectedly, the trip took him not hours but days; he’d drastically underestimated the size of New Haven, and by the time the thought occurred to him that he ought to hire some kind of transport and accelerate his search for whatever beacon he was following, he’d already fallen into a rhythm of moving through the city. He learned where to sleep, bought food when he needed it. With the exception of a single incident involving a pair of muggers and the timely intervention of a Kanassian fishman, he found he was able to move along with little trouble involved, although even with the cash he’d pulled from the muggers, by the evening of the third day he’d started to grow concerned about money, and the relief was plain on his face when his feet finally stopped.

He was standing before some kind of warehouse. The building was squat and wide, a sort of design not entirely uncommon among New Haven. He’d noticed quite a few of them, at any rate, and from what he’d seen, the high floor space of this type of warehouse seemed to have to do with the roof being reinforced and used as a landing platform for repulsor-skid trucks. They were unusual for the way they were designed, but like most of what he’d seen so far, those unusual aspects seemed to have practical purposes.

He pulled out the cube again, noting that the colored facing pointed toward the structure. He walked past it and back again, and the indicator stayed steadily focused, moving as he did to remain fixed on the building.

The building seemed deserted, though. He waited around for about an hour and saw nobody coming or going, though it was daytime; similar buildings he’d seen had been designed to run round-the-clock, as New Haven was a city that never really “slept” the way Earth cities seemed to. No sign of being abandoned, but no traffic… He’d climbed the fence and begun investigating more closely. The entrances were locked, and from the way the door rattled when he shook it, probably barred as well, but he’d climbed onto the roof. His surprise when he’d inspected the service elevator ran deep; a diamond-shaped impression in the elevator’s controls, upon some inspection, fit the cube he was carrying perfectly. He pushed it corner-first into the impression, felt it click, and turned it, and both the cube and the elevator controls started to glow.

“This all feels a bit… contrived. Why all the theatrics?” He spoke only to himself, rubbing his arms slightly at the chill that had crept into the night air. Yet when he weighed the possibility of simply backing off and leaving it be, he found he didn’t care for the idea. He *wanted* to see what this was about, wanted to know what connection it had to him, to understand why someone went to all the trouble of setting up what seemed to be an elaborate scheme aimed at him specifically. What made him so damned *special?* He gave the cube another look, tried to tug it free of the slot, and found it stuck fast. “Fine. Fine, we’ll do it your way.” He stood on the elevator platform and jabbed the ground-level button, and crossed his arms as the elevator descended into darkness.

The warehouse floor was expansive. It looked like shipping containers had once littered it, but they had been moved to the edges of the large warehouse floor. Lights hung down from the ceiling on long chains, their brightness doing little to dispel the overall gloom of the interior’s rather spartan and unadorned surfaces. Piled near the gathered shipping materials were the warehouse’s grav lifters, a vehicle that the Namekian didn’t understand the full function of but which he’d seen active elsewhere in the city; they used linked tractor beams to project a catch field around the full object being lifted, and while they were less energy-efficient than forklifts, didn’t require any reinforcement or fork points to function…

What drew the eye, though, was where someone had sketched, in white paint, a wide circle on the floor. If he’d looked closer, he might have remarked on that circle; it was geometrically perfect, with no signs of brushstrokes or errant paint. But what drew his eye instead was the figure standing in the middle of the circle. “Is that a… training droid?” It held two padded staves of some sort. It had a humanoid silhouette, but bulky, its body covered in heavy padding for unarmed sparring; it looked like a man in heavy sports gear in some respects.

He drew closer, and the droid ignored him. It was only when he came to the edge of the circle that its head moved to lock a trio of amber optics on him, but it did not move otherwise. He sighed, slid his satchel off his shoulder and tucked it safely in a corner, then returned, took a deep breath, and stepped into the circle.

The droid instantly threw him one of the staves. He caught it and balanced it on one hand, testing the weight; quite heavy, mostly a result of the padding. “I don’t know how to use one of these.”

Silence. The droid settled into a stance, hands near the middle of its staff, trailing end pointing downward and behind, leading end toward the Namekian and upward.

The Namekian held his staff higher, so that it was more vertical, and circled slowly, watching the droid’s footwork. He tried a few experimental swings and saw how the droid moved to block, almost stiffly and jerkily but still quickly enough to intercept his untrained flailing. He circled more, yet it didn’t attack him, so experimentally, he rushed forward, planted the sole of his sturdy boot on the robot’s chest, and gave it a heavy shoving kick. Once it was off-balance, its arms moving to counterweight its body, he planted his foot and stepped into a wild swing at the back of its legs, toppling it to the floor.

He chuckled for a moment, bringing his staff around to swing vertically down at the thing, but its staff came up to block his with a sharp crack. He jerked backwards as it flipped off the ground and reassumed its stance, this time moving more quickly and with none of the jerkiness from before. Now it circled him, staff waving slightly from the same guard position as before, and as he tried to draw closer, it warded him off with sharp, quick jerks of the staff’s end, intercepting his swings and keeping him from trying to attack it physically this time.

His amusement faded, replaced by a look of concentration. His inexperience was a disadvantage, but he was learning fast. His breathing, the sound of his boots and the robot’s feet on the cement floor, and the cracks of the staves were the only sounds in the spooky old warehouse. Finally he had enough of a handle on the robot’s movements, and when it went for a jabbing strike, he ducked under it, barged into the thing with his shoulder, and levered it off its feet, throwing the staff between its legs to trip it up. For the second time, the training droid slammed to the floor, leaving the Namekian standing in the middle of the ring, doubled over, hands on his knees, breathing heavily and sweating.

“Is this it? What the hell am I doing here?” He shook his head, letting his breathing slow, and brought his arm up to wipe his forehead on his sleeve. “I come to another solar system, spend most of a week hunting the place down, and all I find is some junky old sparring robot.” He sighed, then turned his back on the robot, throwing his staff to the floor and starting to walk toward where he’d left his belongings. “What a waste of time…” Then he stopped, the hairs on his neck quivering as he heard a slight scraping sound. Slowly, he turned.

The droid had climbed back to its feet once more, and as he watched, it almost seemed to be falling apart. Then he realized that it was the outer casing that was falling apart. The padding fell away, and the thing seemed to straighten, going from about the Namekian’s height to well over a head taller. Its arms weren’t bulky any more; they were almost skeletal, with servomuscle visible beneath an exoskeleton of shining, chromed metal. Even the droid’s faceplate split apart and dropped to the floor, revealing a face that was decidedly inhuman, two red optics blazing in a face that was also almost skeletal, unnecessary features like a nose missing. But its eyes locked on him, and, straightening to its full height, it shook one more time, dislodging the rest of the outer casing.

It had a mouth. It spoke to him. “You came here because something in you chose to come here. You were running from something, or seeking something. Answers.”

“Answers?” The Namekian looked at the android, and frowned. “Yeah. That’s right. I did come here looking for answers. Is that why you’re here?” The android walked toward him. No, ‘walked’ was being unkind; it moved with a serpentine grace that was completely different from the clunkiness of the “sparring droid” form. It didn’t walk, it practically flowed, and so quickly that the Namekian barely had time to react before feeling those spindly fingers shut tight around his upper arm. The android leaned back, hauling the Namekian off his feet and lifting him into a spin that went all around his body; apparently the android’s torso could rotate freely. “No. I’m here to see if you deserve them.” He was released, and the dingy warehouse tumbled in his vision. Stars bloomed as his body found one of the walls, and he heard the groaning of metal…

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His vision snapped back into focus just in time to roll aside, avoiding the android’s clawlike fingers. The reaching hand snapped shut where he’d just been, and he kicked off the wall, sliding across the smooth warehouse floor a short distance. He didn’t have the dexterity or coordination to flip to his feet, but he turned the slide into a roll and from the roll was able to stagger upright. He raised his hands and locked his eyes on the android as it straightened and fixed its gaze on him again. Something was odd… the burning fury that normally screamed at him to attack as aggressively as possible, it wasn’t there, not with the same heat that he’d grown accustomed to. He could feel the embers, but his heart pounded as he looked at the android. What was it? Instinct?

Fear?

He pushed those feelings down and launched himself forward, hands raised. His right swung at the android’s chest, his hand opening into a palm strike so that he didn’t break his knuckles on the metal casing. But his swing grazed harmlessly past the android. Just as quick he threw his left out, and again, the android slipped past it with an ease of movement that was almost laughable.

His gaze met the android’s for a moment before a viper-quick series of blows slammed into his gut, doubling him over. The android’s leg snaked out, hooked his, and dragged him off his feet. The leg he’d used for the sweep went down and planted on the ground, and at the same time his other foot came off the ground and buried itself in the Namekian’s side, clawlike talons digging into his flesh before the leg extended. The force of the kick launched him across the floor and sent him bouncing into one of the shipping containers,

He couldn’t stay down. He wheezed as his fingers clawed at the sides of the shipping container, dragging at the handholds he found there to pull himself up; the body shots had knocked the wind out of him. He coughed as he started to recover, and the android was there again, hand closing over his face, long, skeletal fingers wrapping around his head to lift him off the floor. The android’s knee slammed into his gut, winding him again before he could try to kick at his captor.

He hung limply from the grip, and the android shook him, then flung him away, sending him into a spinning skid across the floor once more.

Yet somehow he still climbed to his feet. Every strike he took seemed hurt less than the last. His heart beat faster.

There was no retreating. No escape. He’d wandered into a trap, trusting that damned note. Even if he could make it to the elevator, the android was so fast, he’d never make it out.

Cornered, he felt it emerge once more. That feeling, the same as before, but different, a different… tone? Like the snarl of a beast; no longer one challenged, as it had been in New Hope and in the alley with the muggers, but one trapped, cornered in its den. The former might be satisfied with proving its dominance, but the latter was like a different animal entirely.

He flung himself forward. Straight at the android, ducking under its swipe at him, taking a swing at it. It shifted to the side, past his blow, and countered with a savage elbow, but he powered through this impact and kept attacking, avoiding what he could, taking what he couldn’t. He could feel the pain, but he pushed through it, because he was alive with fire and fury, it was the one incontrovertible truth in his world. His blood seared with a message from within, his very cells screaming at him to win or die. No doubt, no second guesses.

Steel talons dug into his shoulders, and his fingers dug into a section of chest plating. The android shook him, but he slammed his palm into the plating, his feet coming and wrapping around the android’s leg to keep it from throwing him. Darkness gnawed at the edges of his vision.

“Let go.” Rhevy’s voice in his head. “That inferno of power… bring it out! Don’t push it away!”

His hand tightened into a fist, and it was like he could feel a spark there, burning through his palm. The android finally pried his legs loose and slammed him into the floor. He bounced up, planting his feet, bringing his arm up in an arc. Unimaginable heat poured through him, through every inch of his body, trailing to his hand and away and back, green sparks flying as his fist swung through the air…

The android’s hands snapped out and struck his arm, diverting the blow to the side, just as that gathered heat discharged. A blast wave ripped out from him, shattering concrete and blowing out the side of the warehouse building, and though he’d missed the android square-on, cracks still spread across its outer casing.

Talons closed around his shoulder as the darkness at his vision’s corners swarmed over him. The fire in his soul went out as his injuries caught up to him, and he went limp in the android’s grip. He could hear crashing around him, and then the darkness took him.

Dumastin
Posts: 374
Joined: 13 May 2010, 14:28

Re: It Went from a Spark to an Open Flame

Post by Dumastin » 15 Sep 2017, 12:11

If it helps set how he looks, my mental view of Prime's typical body structure takes a *lot* from how Ultron was depicted in Age of Ultron, but spindlier and more barebones. Limbs and hands and general body structure takes a lot from the slender arms and large hands of General Grievous, and I think he's got some Terminator going on up in there too.

Two evil robots and a cyborg. Uh. That's probably not foreshadowing.

Kuro
Posts: 141
Joined: 16 Mar 2016, 13:12

Re: It Went from a Spark to an Open Flame

Post by Kuro » 15 Sep 2017, 21:50

Was a nice read. Really gave good descriptives with the setting. I like how it started near the end of the fight, then backtracked and then came back round to knowing what the hell happened. Reservoir Dogs or Boondock saints style. Was nice

rpp awarded

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