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Abdiel's New Host : A Babylon Omega Short

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The following I wrote about 18 or so months ago, give or take... and some have been saying I should share it with others. This is a little short I used to wrap my head around some things that the rest of us have been looking at for a possible RPG setting we're going to call Babylon Omega (tm), a cyberpunkish far future setting. 

I do want to thank my cohorts in TSP, M. Gray, G. Gray and M. Wilson for breaking out the red pens, even if virtually to help me out. 

Comments welcome, as this will be posted to my G+ feed. 

Meantime I hope you all enjoy

It was just like I’d remembered it. The sun shining over the remnants of a town. Buildings of all sizes, gutted from time and past military actions, were strewn about. Stucco, concrete and steel skeletons of a former glory.


We were on a basic patrol, about 120 clicks out from the Miramar gate to the San Diego Metro-Arcology. The area had been known to house some of the local desert pirates, as well as act as a hidey-hole, sometimes, for soldier spies from south of the border, trying to get looks at the operations we did.


We had only two quads out there, plus a drone mothership with two operators. The first squad had gone north, mine south, split into six groups of two. Standard procedure. One with a scanner and sidearms, the other with an assault rail in case of trouble. The other two, Overwatch, manned the guns on the ramps from our transport.


I had seen the anomaly before anything happened. I was on Overwatch. The feeds from every scanner for my squad were being funneled to me. My not very flesh eyes were simultaneously receiving my own video input, as well as six others via the a small private Psy-Fi network that the transport provided. That’s what made it so noticeable really, the anomaly. It showed up at the very edge of my vision, bright, shining. At first I thought it was the glare from the sun off some window. But when I turned my head, I saw it for what it really was. Inside that orb was what looked like a person. I saw it for maybe three seconds, and then it disappeared.


That’s when our drone team chimed in on the comms. “Overwatch 1 and 2, this is Weaver 1… we have incoming on HDAR feeds. Looks to be coming in hot from San Ysidro. They are straight lining it to our location.”


It didn’t take but a moment for the other to come in. “Weaver 2 here, they are locked, loaded and… SHIT!” I could see the explosions from the watcher drones as they came in. They were hot alright, and lit them all right up with the mounted plasma cannons.


I barked the order to my teams, and I heard the other overwatch respond in kind. “Trinity-2, make it hot, and make ‘em count… hostiles incoming.”


The drone pilots funneled their feeds to us so we could coordinate everything. “Confirming from drone feeds: two Cernicalo escorts, and two Albatros transports. They’ll be on the ground in 30.”


I could see the displays showing weapon safes come off, as well as ammo levels in their magazines. My cannon was a plasma, powered by the transport’s engines. I flipped the switch and heard the humming whir as its turbine powered up. Five seconds later, the transport was heading straight up in a hover, getting above the buildings. It dropped egress cables for our boys to use if needed, and then lined up to haul ass back to the Metroplex.


I saw one of the smaller ships coming in fast for us, apparently before it saw us. I lit up the plaz and laid into it with a straight shot across its bow. It soaked the shot pretty good, but that much heat doesn’t hit things and not cause some damage, not to mention the static and EM damage. One of it’s vertical thrusters choked and it lost an easy 30 feet almost instantly, but then it caught itself and kept going.


I put two more plaz shots into it’s ass end before it barrel rolled into the side of what was now an eight story derelict. The building didn’t stay standing; brick and steel fell onto the wreckage. We’d clean them up later. I turned to line back up onto my squad . And that’s when I saw the entity again. It was hovering over one of my guys on the ground. That’s when I noticed that three feeds had gone dead. Four Southern Coalition HK’s were coming at him, weapons drawn.


The entity held out its hand, and they stopped in their tracks as if frozen. I’m a soldier, by definition not a good man. I lined them up with the cannon. The targeting screen pulled them into view and I fired one shot. It never hit them. One of them did something, and the plaz ball ricocheted high, hitting the side of a building above them. I compensated, and that’s when I saw what looked like a purplish halo around the target’s head.


At that, I hesitated. All of them had that same halo. I looked at them without the targeting system, pulling my eyes away from the scope. The entity seemed to be looking in my direction… and then he disappeared.


No, he appeared to melt away. He melted into the soldier beneath him. Almost as if they were merging together. I think his name was David. He stood up, now with a greenish halo around his head. He held up his hands and screamed.


I could see the pulse emit from him for about three seconds before it hit. Then the world went black.


After that day, I’d woken up in the Miramar Military District Hospital with a new set of legs, and part of my head based ‘ware damaged. I was no longer certified for military duty, but my training had worked to get me assigned to security detail.


Now, I dream about that day three times a week, in the least.


“Beep… beep…. beep…”


I snapped to, coming out of the daydream I shouldn’t be having. Checking my Psy-Fi display, I saw that my boss had sent me a message. I pulled it up; it was today’s muster and duty report. I scanned for my name and then sighed internally.


Metzger - Hive 3/Gate 4


I hit the respond button with a mental push and let him know I’d received it. The life of a now glitched former soldier wasn’t glorious, by far. But sometimes it was just… well lacking. No, actually it was downright demeaning. That’s one way I knew that being ‘glitched’ as they called it, affected my thinking. I should be happy to have my assigned duties. I should be glad to serve society in the capacity that the Algorithm gives me. But that’s not the case. There was really only one word that would work for what I felt on my current situation in life: hate.


The fact that I was glitched out and sometimes had issues, meant menial guard duty. Today was the most menial of the bunch, and the most dangerous. I’d be guarding the lower gate for one of the Pleasure Hives. I’d be in the undercity, and probably with a minimal detail. No one liked going down there. It could be dangerous, especially with the La Sombra “revolutionaries” around.


The good thing here? I’d have a thousand meter walk, and a lift ride down four levels at my stop. I looked at my time, and verified that I’d have a few extra minutes to spare. Another thing that made me think I was broken… I didn’t always take the most efficient route to my work place. I wanted extra time to go swing by a certain food stand and get some lunch and fill my thermos.


I started a timer, purely to ensure that I could get to my station on time to report for duty.


As soon as the doors opened on the METRS car, I found myself almost at a gallop to get to Jean’s. As soon as I walked up, she saw me and smiled. It was a fake smile of course, she was still pure in her mind, and didn’t bother with anything like the thoughts that I found myself having.. She had all of the influences I had at one time. But now? Now I was damaged in the head. I found myself going out of my way to come by her stand when i could. I didn’t quite understand why at times. It was feelings that no one else had, and I’d never had before that day. I smiled back, but mine felt… strange, as if it wasn’t forced. I looked at the curve of her hips, her bottom, her bosom, her face. I’d found myself having dreams about her lately.


It was strange, maybe I should get checked out. But if I did, what would happen if they determined the damage was more than they had originally thought?


We said our goodbyes for the day, and I headed off to my duty station. After the last fifty meters, I waved the back of my hand over the control bar. The elevator opened, and a female voice spoke to me, “Greetings, Sgt. Metzger. Which floor would you like today?” I answered sharply, “Fourth, please.” And the door shut with a whine, followed by the feeling of dropping in gravity at a moderate speed.


Thirty seconds later, I was looking at the post for my station of the day. The issue was, no one was there for me to relieve of duty. I put my box of food and thermos down onto the check in desk. Instantly I hit our trained protocols, pulling up a display for the guard locator map, and attempting to call into command.


Nothing was working. The map showed it was offline, and no one was answering my calls.


“Initiate: Check-In,” I spoke to the backup terminal on the desk.


“Protocol: Check-In is currently offline for maintenance…” Was its response. Nothing added up there. We had no warnings or any system maintenance being performed for the next two weeks.


I sent the mental command to my ‘ware, “Initiate: Combat Ready: No Safety”. Guess it wasn’t good to be former military. My mind went to the worst case scenario. What would they do if they knew I went hot weapons on a breeder pit gate? They could take it up with me later.


“Danger… incoming… danger.” I heard off to my right. Instantly I drew my small rail sidearm. But I couldn’t see anything. No, not true. I’d seen a flash of something in my peripheral vision. I spun around, looking again. But nothing.


That’s when the proximity alarm on my own systems went off. Something was coming. I pulled up my public street map overlay, and turned on my own homemade tactical plug-in. I saw five blips on my level, plus me. Next were the SPECS-4500 upgrades in my eyes. The rangefinder and binoculars went live and I got a digital feed. It was five people, alright, wearing the colors of the La Sombra Revolution. Except there was one issue. They were carrying military issue rails; assault rifles, double magazines. In other words, someone was loaded for bear but… why? Just why?


“Help You?” I heard from that same spot just out of my peripheral, to my right. I spun around to look, but had to drop quickly as the sound of high velocity flechettes hit the ballistics proof window of the guard shack. I dropped and waited. The bottom was reinforced with both high grade ceramics and plastic in four layers.


Another report from a rifle, and the ballistic glass fell in. The impact from about 50 rail flechettes had knocked it loose. So much for the construction, but then again this wasn’t supposed to be a warzone. I popped up, zeroed in, and a retort of ten rounds rang out from my pistol. I could see the one in the front duck behind a sanitation unit.


“Help You?” I heard again and I dropped down, and looked up. There I saw it… a glowing orb, swirling orange and white in color. I stared at it. It only appeared on my overlay, my virtual augmented reality world. I turned my head, and as soon as the overlay’s HUD moved off where it was, it disappeared. Turning back to it, I stared again.


“Help, You?” It asked once again.


“Who… what are you?” I replied.


Its answer was four letters, “A… B… D… L…”


I asked again, “Who are you?”


It’s reply was again, “A…B…D...L”


So I took it as it’s name. “ABDL?”.


It’s reply was an affirmative, “Yes.”


“How can you help me?” I had to know, especially as another barrage of flechettes filled the back wall, and I could hear more hitting the harder outer hull of the shack.


“Mount program ABDL to Metzger-1004” it said in a very monotone voice.


“1004? That’s the last four of my service number,” was all I could add.


“Yes, you are Metzger-1004. Mount program ABDL; Help you,” it seemed insistent.


I shook my head, then felt a flechette hit my vest. It’d gone through the hull, but didn’t have enough energy to penetrate fully. My options were limited. I had two magazines of rounds, but mine were even lower power than theirs. Each of theirs I could see in the tactical swap double mag setup, were about a 150 each, so 300 total. And if they had more ammo on belts or whatever, I’d be in for a long fight.


“Okay, do it,” I responded to the entity. “Answer Query: Do you allow Program ABDL to mount to your systems? Yes-No answers only,” it asked, again in that monotone, generated voice.


“Yes…” I responded. And that’s when everything went haywire. I remember it well. I remember the ball unfolding in front of me. I remember the humanoid shape it took, and then I remember it floating towards me, only to then disappear.


Then the real weird stuff started. My overlay was hijacked. It started filling with more tactical information than I’d ever noticed before. Systems that had been offline after the crash were suddenly back online. And, taking a look at my incoming assailants, I could see the purple glow around their heads.


“Good day, Emery. I have reactivated your offline combat systems, as well as enhanced your overlay with my own. I will do the tracking; you do the shooting. I’m not allowed to actually engage the act of violence, even against those under the influence of the Asura,” rang out... in my head.


I popped up and instantly had a lock on, just like using the old plaz cannons. The HUD highlighted the purple halo of the closest one. I pulled up my gun arm, aimed, and pulled the trigger to release a five-round burst. Three of the five hit home; I saw the gray matter and gore fly to the wall behind him.


I ducked back down to regroup and to weigh out the next volley that would be sent my way. “Who are you? What are those? What are the Asura?” I yelled out. Not sure I really had time to be asking questions, but I had to know.


“I am Abdiel, the Servant of the Host. Those are soldiers of the Fallen, sent to try to reclaim you. You are glitched, and thus are removed from the Algorithm’s influence. The Asura are those who serve the Algorithm, and his father, Sammael. Now, enough for talking. How are you at working without your displays for about 28.7 seconds?” was its quick but long-winded reply. The voice was no longer monotone, but it sounded almost like the singing of a child.


“I can manage, why?” I said as I sprung up to take aim at another. “Because I’m going to kill their tactical feeds from the Cambian controlling this operation. His name is Caim, as well as a vampire, and two more lemurs left,” Abdiel filled me in as he overlaid names and stats onto the display. Although, needless to say, it was all very confusing still. I could only respond one way though, my life obviously depended on it, “Do it.”


I felt what happened next in every muscle, every pore, every inch of my bones. Somehow my internal wares were put into some sort of overload cycle. It took maybe two seconds for it to start up, but then it released. The last thing I saw in my own overlay was the pulse start to emit outward from me. But then my display went dead, flickering a few times first.


I saw all of them stop, apparently reacting to the loss of their own HUDs from the EM burst. I didn't even know that I could do that.


My legs felt like they weighed 30 pounds more than they should have. But I got them moving enough as their backup servos kicked in. I ran for the elevator. My passchip didn’t open the door, but the alcove could be used for cover. I turned in time to see one of them round the corner and start to level his barrel. I peeled off two bursts into his chest. Two down, three to go.


Suddenly my HUD came back up, flickering into place, and my legs got their power back. I swiped my passchip and the elevator opened up. I jumped in and went low. As the door shut, the glass was blown out. Fumbling, I hit the street level button about fifteen times before the elevator started to move. The short trip allowed me to breathe for a little bit.


“What is going on?” I asked myself.


My new ‘co-pilot’ filled me in, “You’re glitched from your time in the desert. You are now susceptible to mount the Deva, like myself, or an Asura, like them. They wanted to bring you back into the fold. But you are more valuable to us right now, Emery.”


I shook my head as I exited, but he continued, “You might want to keep running. The elevator is heading down. And there is no way to tell until they’re close enough, just who is an agent of the Asura’s influence. I will help you override the systems needed, head to Carlsbad District 2. Once there, we will meet up with others like me, and then they will bring you up to speed.”


“Guess I don’t get a choice in this?” I asked, sarcastically as I started moving back towards the METRS station.


“Not anymore.” Was all he responded. As I approached the current northbound train’s door the train guard reached out his hand and swiped his passchip. The door opened to let me in, but wouldn’t register that it had been me that registered for the ride. I looked at him and saw the green glow displayed around his head. He nodded to me, not saying anything, and I got onto the train.


As the train started to move, I tried to zone out and keep an eye on people and things around me. Abdiel started to speak to me, but it was just a drone in the back of my head as I tried to focus on possible dangers around, “We will need your skills, Emery. We have need to perform a mission that will free one of our kind. One that was lost when the Algorithm put it’s firewall online. We need you to help us free Raziel…”

©2013, 2015 by Robert John Stewart & TaleSmith Productions, LLC

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