Futuristic Carnival

Still a work in progress. Enjoy!

Story

My name is Violet. I’m not anyone special really. Just another dirty faced kind tryin to make some kind of life out here on the streets. No…I don’t have parents. Most of us don’t, not after what happened. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. I do have a place to live, food to eat, and even a family of sorts. There’s around 9 of us. People sometimes come and go around here. But the main 9 always stay. We’re a pretty small group, barely big enough to really be called a Family. But that’s ok, because we have Zion. He’s the leader of our group, and the best ghoster there is. He keeps us safe and we always have a pretty nice place to crash. I guess if Zion’s the dad, then Shock is the mom. He’s the one that looks out for the little ones. He’s always there when Zion isn’t. Once, a very long time ago, I remember we lived in a place with real beds. It was only for a few cycles before we got run out by a larger rival Family. On the first night that we slept there, Shock came and told us stories of what life was like Before. They were all fairytales we knew; but that night we floated off to sleep imagining full bellies, soft blankets and parents who loved us just a call away. After Shock is Fix-It, Bug, Kitten, me, Think, then Roz. I always count Teddy but no one else does. He’s Tech, and looks kind of like a little kid crossed with a teddy bear. He’s been with me forever. Fix-It says I was clutching the remains of some type of android machinery when she found me. Of course she fixed Teddy up good as new. Zion later tried ghosting Teddy once he was rebooted, but any information left in him was completely forgotten. The others still think he’s just a piece of outdated Tech, but Teddy is real to me. What’s more important is that he is Family …and that’s gotta mean something. It’s funny the way people view Tech now. Most everyone hates it, but it’s all that surrounds us anymore. I’ve seen vids of the way it used to be, way back, before Before. Tech was still new. There wre normal families, and strangest of all, there was this green stuff that sprouted from the floor. There were also these massive spikes that grew where the green did, and there was often green on the spikes too. We haven’t had stuff like that in ages. All we have now is metal. Metal and broken Tech.

Not everything here is past repair though. People like Zion have the ability to revive dead Tech and people like Fix-It can get almost any piece of machinery to work. And there are hundreds of old buildings still intact. Last cycle, Zion moved us into a new crash space. It isn’t the safest place. The Families here aren’t friendly and we are already fighting over turf. I can tell it is about time to for us to move on. Kitten came back just the other day with a broken jaw and a defeated attitude. She never loses fights and what’s worse is that she’s always optimistic. Not anymore. Just like me, she can tell Zion’s changing. Each day it seems Zion spends more and more time surfing the remains of the Net. It’s what he was meant to do, but each time he draws himself back to reality, he leaves a bit more of himself in virtual space. I worry about him. I worry about us. What will happen to our family if Zion turns ghost on us.

Because our family is so small and unallied, it’s usually pretty easy to run us out of whatever nice place we do happen to find. The last time we tried to stand our ground, we lost a member. It happened right after I was found, so I don’t really remember it. Ever since, we always just pack up and leave if things ever get too tense. The constant fighting among the Families is dumb. It’s the old way. The way that lead to us being here in the first place. No one seems to get that. I try to tell Zion, Shock, anyone…but no one listens. No one changes. We run, they fight. The Families remain divided. I told Kitten once that if things keep up, there won’t be any Families left at all to fight. She just laughed and said that the adults would come back before then and make the world right again. I know better. We’re all that’s left. In the day to day, we manage ok. We survive by scavenging. Fix-It leads weekly scavenges out into dead space to see what useful Tech can be scrounged up, or food supplies, or even new members. Today was particularly successful. We found some useful components Fix-It needed to finish a sort of security device for home. In addition we found about a cycle’s worth of sustenance patches. Nothing to eat, but we would have all necessary nutrients to survive for a good while. We were just on our way home from we out of nowhere, shadows rose up around us. The acrid stench of burning rubber filled the air and stung my eyes. I could see my field of vision narrowing as the smoke infiltrated and bound my lungs. It was Riot Squad. Infamous for their use of noxious gases, their hate of Tech, and lethal mentality. It was one of their sub-Families that had sent Kitten home bloodied just last week. As my sight faded to black, I felt strangely apathetic. Of course it would end this way….

I awoke to Fix-It hold a resuscitation mask to my face. Fix-It was secretly half Tech. She never went into the details, but she had more in her than just the Net link which had become standard bioware for humans to have.  Of course there were cyborg Families, but Fix-It was not proud of her Tech parts, and chose to affiliate with humans. It was a secret that not even Zion knew. She trusted me because of how I treated Teddy. Kitten was waking Roz and Think while darkly cursing the Squad, vowing revenge. It was Think who quickly assessed the situation. Nothing was taken. Strangely the patches we had found were untouched. The anti-Tech group of course hadn’t even looked at the gear Fix-It had found. With a cold realization, I suddenly I realized that Teddy wasn’t with us. Teddy usually can detect when other groups are near. It was an upgrade Fix-It was extremely proud of. It was wrong for us to have been caught unawares in the first place. Riot must have used some sort of dampening device then stolen him. Riot using Tech was unheard of. It didn’t make sense. Why steal Teddy? Fearing the worse, I sprinted back to the compound. No one was inside except for Zion. He was slouched in a chair in the server room. Conscious to everything and nothing at the same time, I left him checking. There was nothing in the compound. Coming back, everyone except Zion was in the common room. Shock looked at me with sad eyes, and I knew I wasn’t going to find an ally there. I turned to Fix-It, but her expression was grim. That was it. No one was going to help me get Teddy back. Kitten tried to pull me into a hug, but I shoved her away. Shock said it wasn’t possible. It was Riot. We couldn’t do anything. Dream of doing anything. That maybe they would drop Teddy back off as suddenly as they took him. I was infuriated by their lack to even try to think of anything. I ran to my room, tears blurring my vision.

What if it were me that was taken. Or Think, or Roz…would they just turn to us and sadly say that there was nothing we could do? Not me. I refused. At that point, alone in the dark, my vision refused to clear. Thinking it was still tears, I rubbed angrily at my eyes, but that seemed to only increase the blurred images. Suddenly, it was as if I was looking through an old pair of nightpeepers. It was a few members of the Squad laughing and running away. The scene was filled with static and replaced with one of a giant warehouse like structure, the words TommorowLAND hung in neon glyphs over the door. The squad entered the pitch black entrance, and the scene faded to black with them. My vision cleared almost immediately. It was Teddy. I knew it. He must have ghosted the image to my Net link, something I never knew anyone but Zion could even do. So…that was where they had taken them. And that was where I would go. Riot Squad or no, Teddy wasn’t just some disposable piece of Tech. He was Family. If there is one thing that everyone knows, it’s that Family is all we have. We protect Family here, at all cost.

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