This is the first part of a short story that I decided to write. It has no relevance to the world of my main story, it is just a new story with some familiar faces to those who know them.
The Angel in the Smoke:
Rain poured from the heavens, umbrellas moved this way and that while those without ran for cover. The sharp hills of the city turned to rivers, reflecting the street lights and police search vehicles overhead.
Kross ducked into a doorway as a police vehicle hovered over, instinctively pulling his hood further over his face as he tried to look inconspicuous.
For Kross, inconspicuous was almost impossible.
Water sprayed lightly in a large circle on the floor below the police cruiser as it lowered closer to the ground, the murky street pulsed red and blue as the cruiser's lights lit up the nearby area.
As he watched the cruiser's descent, the door behind Kross opened suddenly and, before he had time to react, he was dragged inside by the collar of his overcoat.
“Incoming!” his fellow marine was yelling, the whistle of shells being fired resounding in the distance.
The entire squad running for cover, the first blast wave knocked them off balance, causing some to charge shoulder-first into the wall as they missed doorways or were pushed forward by the force of the explosion behind.
The second shell hit closer to home. The blast sheered a nearby building in half, the walls shattering and raining down on the marine unit as they were trying to regain balance.
Kross was looking back over his shoulder when the third blast hit. Three of his men were vaporised before his eyes and then his head filled with light.
A nearby voice shouted something he could not hear, he was struggling to blink away the pain and put his hand to the top of his head to feel a moist patch there. Bringing his now crimson hand down, his blurry vision struggling to make sense of the moving shapes before him, he heard more muffled shouting above the ringing in his ears.
Even with the ringing sounds, his ears could not mistake the sound of the fourth explosion but he had no time to react as he was thrown backwards like a rag doll toward the building he was heading into for cover.
Everything turned to black.
Most people stared at Kross these days, there was no getting around the horror of his new appearance. The two girls before him were no different.
The one stood closest to him had dark, blue-tinted hair. She was small but her athletic physique spoke volumes of her combat ability, on display in a purple vest top that showed off a slender-yet-toned midriff. Even the basic pair of dark jeans could not hide the toned shape of her legs.
“Even I could tell you're the one they're looking for and I only took a quick look out the window,” the young Japanese woman stated, with a faint look of disappointment in her sharp eyes.
“It isn't as simple as you think.” Kross' pride stung at this stranger's scolding.
“Lose the sunglasses, they're a dead give-away when it's dark out.”
“Listen, I appreciate you concern but you don't understand what's going on here.”
“Does it look like we're going anywhere?” the second girl chimed in, lounging on a sofa by the back wall, her tousled pink locks draped over her face. Kross could not help but stare momentarily, since she was wearing only a neon t-shirt and a pair of simple grey panties.
The dark-haired woman turned. “Angel, don't you think you should cover up for our guest?”
“He's waking up,” an unfamiliar voice was echoing through his head.
Sitting up, Kross groaned his disapproval before throwing up over the side of the bed he was on.
“Where the fuck-”
“Are you?” the voice echoed again, cutting him off. “That's need to know, marine,” a slight pause hung in the air, “and you don't.”
“Name's Kross.” His voice sounded hoarse even to him.
“Angel,” the pink-haired girl offered as she returned to the room, a pair of regular track bottoms now covering her lower half, “though I'm sure you guessed that already.”
Kross smiled, something he had not done for quite some time. He wondered if even that looked alien now.
“Domino,” said the dark haired, Japanese girl. Her voice seemed far softer than he expected, not fitting the almost businesslike demeanour his marine senses had picked up previously.
“So... you ever gonna take off those glasses?” Angel grinned.
“I'm not sure I should.”
“I can see the augmentation. The glasses can't really hide glowing eyes, no matter how dark the lenses.” Domino's honesty threw Kross off.
He slowly drew back his hood and pulled off his glasses, sliding them into his breast pocket. Angel gasped, but not in horror, it almost seemed like she was impressed.
His pale white pate held scars from too many surgeries to count, a faint blue line ran from the top of each eye all the way to the base of his skull. His eyes had been replaced with a sophisticated bio-optic augmentation: two glowing blue spheres that connected directly to his now part-synthetic brain, directly feeding unfathomable amounts of data in order for the rest of his augmentations to perform at capacities way beyond the normal human level.
“When you said you weren't going anywhere,” Kross began, “I hope you meant it.”
Opening his eyes, Kross realised he was in a laboratory of some kind. He sat on a hospital style bed in the middle of a bare room of chrome and glass, small video screens displaying vitals and other indecipherable medical information were set into the wall near the door.
Through the large glass screen overlooking the room on one wall, he made out vague silhouettes moving this way and that. One stood in the centre of the window and although there were no eyes visible through the dark glass, Kross knew the figure was staring at him.
Straining to make out more detail in the figure above, Kross' head responded with an immediate pulsing headache behind his eyes. Instinctively, he put his hand to his head in a futile attempt to dull the pain.
His hand froze before his eyes.
“What the fuck?”
“It hurt. Every moment of it.” Kross continued telling his story to these young women, somehow forming a trust in them without knowing a thing about them.
It made less sense than what had happened to him.
“How long were you out there?” Angel asked with more than a little excitement in her eyes.
Kross hesitated, as if answering would make the whole thing real. He caught sight of his cybernetic arm, its inner workings pumping away as he lifted it in front of his face, examining it and almost losing himself in a memory.
“Six years,” he finally admitted, looking at his arm the entire time as he realised the futility of denying what was blindingly obvious.
“Shit,” Domino knew something of how the man felt, though she would never speak of that again. Angel's reassuring hand rested on her shoulder, as if she knew exactly what Domino was remembering.
“They did more than augment your eyes in that time.” Angel's inquisitive gaze roamed over Kross' body, returning his earlier favour.
“A lot more.” Domino voiced her realisation.
Angel shifted on the sofa next to Domino, an eagerness in her expression gave away her next words.
“Can I see?”
His arm was completely cybernetic. Looking like something from a science fiction movie, the muscles simulated by armoured shells, thick wiring replacing tendons and there was a faint blue glow coming from between the layers of dark metal.
Raising his other arm, Kross noticed the exact same thing had been done. Both arms had been replaced with cybernetics.
A flash of memory showed him a blood-stained hand.
Another flash and he saw a bright light, felt a flying sensation and his body jolted at the memory of slamming into something.
That was the last memory he had.
He pushed himself from the bed and stumbled forward, putting a palm to the floor to steady himself and stop his fall.
After a moment, Kross stood and wandered to the glass wall ahead. There were countless machines of varying size and shape, some resembling medical equipment such as CT and full-body scanners and others looking more like torture devices.
He blocked out the machinery and let his eyes focus on his reflection, the sight causing a ripple of shock through his body as he recoiled in horror.
Blue-lit “veins” ran from each arm, disappearing deeper into the body close to his heart. A vicious looking scar ran down the centre of his chest and, just beneath the surface of his pale, almost blue skin, traces of metal could be seen coating his ribs.
An inconsolable anger bubbled within him.
Who were these people?
What had they done to him?
He gritted his teeth and let out a seething breath, an anger unlike any he had ever experienced seized him.
He turned and took hold of the bed, a heavy metal thing bolted to the floor. In his anger he wanted to just flip it over and release the tension before it consumed him.
The bed flipped over, bolts and metal shards flying everywhere.
“Whoa,” Angel responded at the sight before her, a look of wonderment filling her eyes.
“That was my reaction too,” Kross paused for a second, “though there was considerably more swearing on my part.”
“May I?” Angel's hand was already on Kross' chest before he could answer, rendering the question redundant.
“I think you already are,” he laughed.
Angel pulled away as she realised her faux pas, her face growing redder by the second.
“Don't worry,” Kross reacted quickly to help the girl avoid further embarrassment, “it's not as invasive as what's already happened to me.”
His attempt at humour only darkened the mood, forgetting that the sight of his body and the tale of his past hardly leaned toward a humorous outlook.
Luckily, Domino sensed the levity present in Kross' tone and offered a token snort of amusement.
“First you lounge about half naked, then you start touching the guy,” Domino could not hide a mischievous smirk when she added, “he's gonna get ideas.”
“Yuki-chan!” The pink-haired girl let out an embarrassed squeal and playfully slapped her friend, having caught sight of her smile.
The tables had turned in favour of Kross now, the realisation of his new strength giving him a power he never knew existed as he wheeled around to face the glass wall of his cell.
He looked up and thought he could see the look of terror on the faces of the silhouettes now gathering at the window above.
They knew his next move.
He knew his next move.
The six-inch-thick glass erupted into the laboratory beyond, chunks of the heavy material leaving trails of devastation in their wake as they hurtled through various vials, beakers and other instruments that had adorned the tables and shelves.
Red lights blazed and piercing shrieks filled the air as alarms screamed into life as Kross took one last look at the mayhem ensuing in the window above before taking the first steps toward his freedom.
Kross watched the faint splash as the coffee hit the bottom of the cup, swilling around wildly as it quickly filled to the top. Domino lifted the coffee pot away and quickly poured another cup each for herself and Angel.
“No guards at all?” Angel was astounded.
“They were either too arrogant in thinking their own creation would never turn on them,” Domino cut in, “or they were intelligent enough to realise that no guards could actually stop you if you escaped.”
The blinding light seemed to scorch his eyes as he emerged from the underground laboratory, the entrance a ruin of mangled steel after Kross brushed it aside with ease.
Shielding his eyes with his cybernetic arm, he managed to make out some kind of desert surrounding him. Through the haze emanating from the burning sands, he could just make out a city of some kind only a few miles away.
Copyright © G. Bailey 2010