The Target

Submitted into Contest #203 in response to: Start your story in the middle of the action.... view prompt

4 comments

Science Fiction Drama Sad

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

The glare of the sun hit his opaque visor. The cyber cycle shot across the metallic highway, kicking up loose bits of steel here and there. The rider looked ahead, seeing the holosign that read "Exit 38A". Sweating profusely in his Scarab Combat Armor, he flipped up the cycle's rear view display. Nobody was behind him; just the empty stretch of freeway he had come down. Twisting on the cycle's handles, he careened down the exit, his tires going from the smooth silver of the speedway to the rough asphalt of the road.

Sleepiness tugged at his eyes; he had been awake for nearly 36 hours now. He moved his hand over his chest, finding the plunger on his suit. His armor held nearly a week's supply of combat stim, but he'd gone through it all in these last three days. His gloved hand pushed hard on the plunger, injecting the last of the blue liquid into his cardiovascular system. Immediately, the fog of fatigue lessened, and his veins popped. His HUD enlarged his vitals monitor, the heart icon flashing red. He ignored the alert; he'd come too far, and the completion of his mission was so close.

He checked his rear view again nervously, still not spotting anything. He then began to look for his next turn. He passed County Road 17, County Road 18, and County Road 19. As he approached County Road 20 he prepared to turn, but at the last second pulled away from it. It was County Road 21; he admonished himself from his stupidity. Of course it was County Road 21. It always has been, and he'd gone over that so many times. Things were too tight for any slip ups, and he swore he wouldn't make another mistake.

He swerved onto County Road 21, his cycle spraying tangerine dust behind it. The scorched desert looked surprisingly brilliant in the sunset. If he wasn't so focused on his task, he would've stopped to admire its beauty.

The dirt road curved between two mesas. These hulking rock formations were his cue that he had almost reached his target. He pressed hard on the acceleration, the wide wheels spinning harder. The armored hull of the cycle was riddled with pistol and rifle rounds, and he mindlessly rubbed the pockmarks with his left hand.

As he turned the corner, he saw the target's location. An old, beat down shanty house, made of grafted tin and iron. A shoddy wind turbine was connected by tubes to the house's exterior, and the walls were covered in various doodads and pieces of equipment. This was definitely the right place. He couldn't be more sure.

He slammed on the brakes, sliding in front of the building. He saw through the metal blinds flashes of blue from a holotable. The shadow of a figure moved. The trooper now reached up to his back, detaching his sawed-off from its magclip. He pointed the shotgun at the door, arm fully extended in the direction of the house.

The rusty door slid open, revealing a man. His belly bulged through his grease-stained shirt. The man's teeth were rotten, and his hair thin and wispy. His orange work pants sagged, hanging over his torn socks.

The blast of the shotgun rang through the valley. The man went flying to the ground in a spray of crimson mist, dead almost instantly. The trooper still held his arm out, not moving the weapon. He slowly reached for the cycle's magkey, withdrawing it. The motor of the cycle fell silent and its automatic kickstand shot out into the dirt. He swung his left leg over the cycle, planting his feet onto the ground. His arm lowered, the shotgun hanging limply at his side. He walked to the threshold, peering down at the man. The man's eyes were wide open, his jaw slacked. The trooper looked into the man's gaze for a moment, before stepping over the corpse. His boot scraped over the man's nametag, which read "R. Kazenski".

The trooper walked into the darkened abode, looking about. He slowly walked down the hall, stopping at a door. He slipped his oversized fingers into the door's handle, sliding it ajar slightly. He peered in, seeing the empty, dirty bedroom, posters torn and ragged and sheets long gone. He then walked into the living room, before sitting himself on the couch.

The couch was mostly metal, with thin red padding spaced out along the crescent. He let himself collapse onto the sofa, laying limp. He tilted his head forward, glancing at what the holotable was projecting. It was some frivolous, vapid consumerist slop. Of course it was; what else would it be? He half-heartedly raised his shotgun, pointing it at the flashing figures, and pulled the trigger. The click was barely audible, and the trooper cracked a smile before letting his arm fall again. Lazily, he moved his boot to turn the holotable's channel. The entirety of the table had a silver, gear-like wheel spanning the circumference, and his boot pushed haphazardly at it. The projected figures flicked and flickered, spinning rapidly from reality shows to comedies to pornography to horror. The trooper despised it, all of it. At last it passed the news, and he firmly stopped the wheel with his boot.

A lady stood, well-dressed, microphone held by her bosom. Behind her, a video feed of a military base played. A cybercar, marked with the initials "MP", and with spinning sirens on its roof, was parked in front of the base. In the background, combat engineers hauled body bags. The trooper tuned into the audio, catching the anchor mid-sentence.

"-evening, I'm Joyce Lane, bringing you folks an update on the hottest story of the summer. A day and a half ago, chaos struck the New Alamo Ordinance Facility when a Supercommando went rogue. The Supercommando Program was classified until last year, and-"

He rolled his eyes at the newscaster, and let out a small chuckle. How little the media knew. The practice of journalism was a rotting corpse, and he knew that better than anyone.

"-NAOF security forces took heavy casualties in his escape, and responding local police and state troopers were also decimated as they tried to block his route at Jetty's Crossing. Marshal Law is still in place, with the Head of Military Police requesting everyone in the Folsom Desert area remain indoors and report any suspicious sights or sounds to the authorities. However, they maintain with confidence that he is somewhere in Roach County, off of Speedway 35. Even now, armed forces converge on the area from all directions, with authorities assuring us that this rogue will be apprehended, and if needed, put down."

He shrugged his shoulders, shaking his head at their ineptitude. They were so incompetent that they had managed to lose track of a multi-billion dollar investment for nearly two days, in the heartland of the military's strongest bases and home of its top research facilities. He almost wished he could help them.

"-however, authorities have remained puzzled on what caused the Supercommando to snap. They are unwilling to divulge most of his personal information, though they have released his name and a photograph of him, which is now behind me."

Sitting forward a little, he made eye contact with the man in the broadcast. Perfectly cut blonde hair, broad-shouldered, a scar down his left cheekbone and into his lip, a stare that could kill; he felt cold, but could not break his gaze with the apparition.

"His name is John Kazenski. Authorities request no attempts to talk him down or otherwise halt him should be made. They are also willing to disclose that he is a local of Roach County, and if anyone has personal information on him, to immediately contact them. They also-"

He let his head roll, breaking his view of the hologram. With great calm, he reached into a pouch on his right hip, taking out a container filled with green liquid. He grasped his chestplate, flipping open the left panel. He took out the empty combat stim container, throwing it across the room, and put in the new container. He flipped the panel down again, and pressed hard on the plunger.

Almost immediately, a neurotoxin warning appeared on his HUD, but he gave it no attention. He glanced upward, at the wall behind the holotable. A torn picture hung crookedly. A child, scared and miserable, scar running down his left cheek, clung to a meek woman, who's face had been scratched out. He gazed into the child's eyes, and whispered, "Sorry it took so long, buddy."

A warm feeling washed over his body, and it became hard to move his body. His vision became fuzzy, but he could barely make out approaching red and blue lights. Sirens, though faint, accompanied them. He took one last breath, smiled, and closed his eyes. 

June 16, 2023 16:25

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4 comments

J. D. Lair
00:53 Jun 28, 2023

This was dope! Hope to see more about this character and the world you created in the future.

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L J
16:23 Jun 24, 2023

LOVED!! I would like to read more about this character Best sentence:" projected figures flicked and flittered". Great use of alliteration!. Fine work of Sci-fi! Well done.

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Dane MillerHass
03:16 Jun 27, 2023

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed :)

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Helen A Smith
19:52 Jun 29, 2023

Impressive piece of sci fi. Well done.

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