Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
UndertheWeather

Casualties of War

Recommended Posts

UndertheWeather

In a darkened single room of a run-down motel, a portable computer, carefully positioned on an old wooden table, glared back at a matching set of hazel brown irises; vigilantly watching over a narrow pair of dark-framed glasses, propped just slightly below the nasal bridge and eye-line of the bearer, the lightly-pigmented organic eyes flitted left-and-right, up-and-down in an imperceptibly organised manner following the fast pace of the information input and output on the screen. A logo with the word ‘Hudson’ was delicately carved on the case of the computer, the other side of which was shared with the bright screen. Nimble fingers swiped across the flat screen with impressive dexterity, the fast-changing visual display reflected on the unutilised glass of the spectacles.

 

Youri touched a corner of the screen. Instantly, a three-dimensional hologram appeared, projected from the flat screen. He nudged the glasses onto the bridge of his nose, and carefully examined the diagram, his eyes straining through the clear glass to read the tiny prints, and miniature details. It was one of the disadvantages of doing work from a second-rate computer; but he had no other choice – it was practically impossible to carry his desktop around, not when he had to travel to another city. Perhaps he could fasten himself up to his portable computer using the Encephelon Machine, and let the EM spew digital information from the computer right to his brain. It was all too good an idea, except for the fact that the EM overloads the mind after merely five minutes, and the horrendous after-effects last for hours – something that he could not afford to have, not when he had that splitting headache and the convocation the next morning.

 

He sighed, leaning back in his seat. For the first time after five hours, he took off the spectacles, and, squeezing his eyes shut tight, pinched the bridge of his nose as if to take the pain away from the back of his head. He could feel the throb as by sudden fever stirred. Must be the new implant in his angular gyrus, he guessed. No, probably not. There are no receptor cells in the brain. He was no specialist, and could not be bothered to find out at that moment; the pain was killing him. Youri stood up unsteadily from his seat, and precariously approached the small bedside cabinet where his medication pouch was safely kept. As he sat himself down on the tawdry bed, he silently cursed at the quality of the bed, and the room, and the Corporate’s generosity in providing him with such hospitable travel arrangements. He could practically feel the springs and the intricate structures of the cheap bed poking at his ribs when he slept on his side the previous night – that is, if waking up every hour throughout the night is regarded as sleep.

 

The sensation of the needle piercing through the epidermis in his arm brought about an emotional expectation of relief. With the syringe in between his fore and middle fingers, he slowly pushed the plunger with his thumb, discharging colourless liquid into his blood vessel. In just a moment the pain will be gone.

 

Seated on the edge of the shabby bed, his well-formed figure, still as a statue, bent forward, back arched, elbows reclined on sturdy thighs, and face buried in scrawny hands. The empty syringe was back in its compartment, next to an assortment of miniature bottles filled with mostly colourless liquids. His hazel brown eyes peered through the tangle web of his fingers, watching the pygmy bottles purred and leisurely danced in the medication pouch, occasionally bumping into one another setting off a romance spark. The corner of his lips quivered in amusement as he unwittingly began to hum to the melody that had by now made its presence in the room apparent – a melody that played to the rhythm of the soft chattering in the medication pouch. Suddenly, Youri broke out laughing, and fell backwards onto the squeaky bed. The hallucinations from the medications had never failed to amuse him, though the uncharacteristic light-natured laugh and quick-to-charm reactions were themselves the by-product of the medications.

 

Minutes passed before the elation subsided, and the hallucinations vanished taking away with them the throb at the back of his head. For a moment he laid there on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. It was dark, but the distant light of his portable computer, with the hologram still hovering in front of the screen, made visible the intricate structure of the peeling paint. Youri let out a sigh, breaking the still silence of the room. He sat himself up – the bed creaking like floor-boards of an old house as he did so – and peered into the distant darkness of the room, straining his eyes to see the red digits displayed on the digital clock. It said 21:24. He was suddenly reminded that his last meal was breakfast at eight in the morning, and all at once, his hunger was perceivable.

 

For a moment he played with the idea of leaving his confined room to venture the night streets of Berlin for something to fill up his empty stomach, but soon decided against it; he could not be bothered. He searched the bottom cabinet for a packet of cereal bar, found it, and all at once devoured it. It was not much, but it was something.

 

He sat on the bed with his legs stretched out in front of him, and his back against the head board. His personal computer sat on his lap, its intricate machine silently whirred in a soft but soothing rhythm. Once again, his fingers skilfully navigated through the complex displays on the screen, and after a moment, the screen turned dark and the words “Please attach Cyberdeck,” appeared. He placed over his head an elaborate head piece, covering half his face. Youri had booted the Cybergnostic.

 

It was the most popular virtual entertainment at the moment. Cybergnostic is a cyberspace where individual players have to project their disembodied consciousness into the consensual hallucination by attaching themselves to a cyberspace deck. The attractiveness of Cybergnostic lie in the fact that it is an open system where rules and worlds are constantly changing based on the players. And in Cybergnostic, anyone could be anyone.

 

Youri was not Youri in Cybergnostic. His true identity was masked behind an elaborate picture of Edsger Dijkstra to protect his identity as one of Hudson Corportaion’s dogs. It was not something personal against Hudson; it was something necessary to do if he wanted to be part of the Cybergnostic craze. If word got out that he was on Cybergnostic, many would begin to hijack the system to get to him. After all, the corporate war between the two megacorporations was not known for fair battles. So, even though Youri knew that most citizens of Cybergnostic were incapable of penetrating the system’s security and shatter his anonymity, it did not stop him from putting up a strong cyber security on his portable computer access. After all that was what he does for a living. Well, at least he was the head of the Digital Faction of Hudson Corporation, not the Cyber Security Faction, but it was good enough. He hoped so.

 

A rush of adrenalin rang through his ears as he was transported to the alternate space in reality. The sun was shining, and the sky bright blue. His presence in the world he felt to be very real. Edsger mentally retrieved the virtual phonebook, displayed on a see-through screen, suspended in the air in front of him. He swiped his left hand over the display, and looked through the phonebook to see which of his Cybergnostic friends were available to go round killing cyborgs for just a couple of hours. Now, let’s see…

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sVerrine

" To Agent Ralph Patrick,

 

The Berlin branch of the Stewart-Dawson Jr. Affiliation requests your immediate attention in concern with their latest system upgrade as the problem is substantial and of complex nature, thus not secure to be mentioned through virtual types of communications. Your presence is an inherently necessity in the conference hold on the 2nd of April, in Berlin, Germany.

After your arrival in the megalopolis, you will receive further information."

 

A short sigh broke the prolonged silence and two azure chunks shifted left and right to read the message again. The smoke followed an evidently marked path in the air, impregnating the poorly illuminated room with the presence of expensive cigarettes.

 

"Something the matter? You keep sighing."

 

After the natural flow of German words, Ralph's fugitive glare followed up the barman's assertive stance.

 

"No, nothing at all." Ralph responded dismissively, showing no interest in a further discussion. The barman understood the man's subtlety and directed his attention on the man that stood at the other side of the bar.

 

'Further information my ass.' The unnerving thought was hardly kept silent, as Ralph read the message again, realizing how incredible bored he actually was after waiting for more than six hours to receive so-called 'further information'.

Another sigh escaped his thin pale lips, as wide spread fingers were driven through his obsidian hair. He glanced again at the white empty screen of his smart phone before finally turning it off. An aimless thought crossed Ralph's mind - he could have been in his high-tech home now, surrounded by the technologically advanced devices; spend his precious time and effort on solving the problem of the Corporation's branch from here, from Berlin. He chuckled bemusedly, remembering that in his pocket was found a smart phone, 'smart' just being a consensual name, as the phone, on the global scale, was outmoded and inflexible.

If he had known the tiniest idea of the complete boredom throughout his stay, Ralph would have definitely agreed to be granted the possibility of transferring the information directly to his brain - the repercussion were a pester, though, even for himself who was immune to the contemporary technology's side-effects.

 

Ralph threw a fugitive glance at the customers enjoying their drinks and none seem to particularly catch his attention. Finishing his last cigarette and his third drink that night, he stood up from the comfortable chair, put on his leather jacket and exited the darkened room, only to end up in a street dominated by light and vivacity. The illumination was powerful, more strident and reflecting than during the day time - a sudden rush of adrenaline enlivened Ralph's lackadaisical stance, nurturing inside him the ardent desire of body movement. For the first time since arriving, a revelation from the inert atmosphere seemed to arose - a golden opportunity, Ralph considered.

 

With quick paces, he tread through the congested streets where people's casual banter brooked no moment of silence. Not much time have passed when he arrived at the hotel, grabbing the cold metallic knob and finally slamming the door powerfully, disturbing the calm pace in which the hotel was sunk.

 

Placing his hand on his personal computer, a hologram popped in the air and the robotic voice of a woman engulfed the room: " Please attach Cyberdeck." Ralph placed over his face a metallic piece that hid half of the man's young features. A few messages of approval appeared and shortly, he successfully entered the Cybergnostic.

 

But before any plan had the chance to form inside his head, a coral hologram came into view of the emerald eyes of a tall lithe woman - Yvana Kirchner, the identity that Ralph displayed in the virtual universe. This type of entertainment was first introduced to Ralph when the tasks that the Chief of DS ( Data Security) had to carry off were presented to him. Before the merging, half of the Dawson Corporation's affiliation were game developing companies, Cybergnostic being the most popular and best rated of their creations. When Stewart and Dawson signed the merging contract, the security system of the game became one of the prime responsibilities of DS. As the Chief, Ralph had the obligation of guaranteeing a flawless system in order to maximize the performance of the game as the hacking became common sense among the players, as most desired to have the statuses reserved to others.

Normally, you couldn't change your gender in game as it would interfere with the Cyberdeck, but being completely aware of how the game system works, it was an easy task for Ralph to create a large spectrum of identities from which he shifted occasionally.

 

The coral hologram was imparted into three others at the light touch of the woman embodied by Ralph. A name and some statuses were displayed:

 

"Edsger Dijkstra." Yvana read loudly. The woman skimmed the information, but found no irregularity; his stats were neither good or bad, he seemed a normal player who was simply enjoying his time. But previous experience taught Ralph that first impressions were always amiss. As a ferocious wolf could have been a clueless dog, a scaredy cat could have had the form of a terrifying lion.

 

Yvana accessed mentally the world's map and searched for the man in case. Although the distance wasn't too great, the woman decided to teleport, as her owner was more enthusiastically than ever to meet the person that had no apparent flaws in the game.

 

The raucous sound of slithering metal echoed in the deserted space. Yvana glanced at the man drawing the antique sword, surrealistically equipped with the latest technology, in order to kill cyborgs. Although the peculiarity rose some inquiries in Yvana's mind, the perfect wielding of two outmoded firearms drew her attention immediately, as Ralph was himself a weapon enthusiast. The woman scrutinized the man's perfectly executed performance in killing a dozen of cyborgs; it was natural, flawless, like a splendid dance.

 

When the show ended and the cyborgs refrained themselves from appearing before the two, Yvana stepped forward, placing herself between them and the metallic smithereens. Bored, Ralph decided to join the men to see what triggered the system's software when alarming him about Edsger Dijkstra.

 

"Mind if I join?" To satisfy both the erotic desire and the instinctual fascination for carnage, Yvanna spoke sensually, while leaving to the open eye a complete display of her set of guns.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
UndertheWeather

It was as if he had expected her, and knew all along that she was there; the taller of the two with the sword in his grip flashed Yvana a meaningful grin, and greeted, “Good day, young lady. Certainly you may share our company.” Only a split second later did Edsger’s augmented pair of amber eyes flitted and focused on the novel presence. He flashed her an artificial smile as he returned the handgun to its holster by his left thigh. Both the man, at that point, shared the same thought, almost telepathically; the sensual tone of the lady had a quirky tone to it. There are many of them in Cybergnostic; they try to get into your pants and suck you dry like leeches, leaving you behind with nothing but your underpants, not even the bolt in your prosthetic arm. Edsger shifted slightly. Once he was caught in such a situation, never again.

 

Eaam Whitham,” said the swordsman, politely extending his right hand, “Delighted to make your acquaintance, miss…?

 

Edsger stood there biting his lips, uncertain of the situation that they had found themselves in, more so of Eaam’s casual gesture. His surgically grafted goggles reflected the sunlight, masking the hesitancy in his eyes, and the developing fear in him. If this lady was one of those women looking to rob you clean, he knew how to avoid her. But if she was one of Cybergnostic moderators, he would be in trouble if she found the stolen pendant on him. By reflex, his hand darted up to his chest, and reassuringly felt its contoured shape under his shirt. Realising what he had done, he quickly withdrew his hand and plastered it to his side, hoping against hope that she had not seen it.

 

Stolen goods have occasionally raised the alarm, but only those that were significant. Edsger knew that at some point the pendant would trigger the alarm, and the system would alert the moderators to him, accusing him of suspicious behaviours. He was going to move it along a chain of hands sooner or later and get his share of money, but if this lady was a moderator, she had reacted quicker than he had expected.

 

He had found the pendant in a back alley, tossed in the bin like it meant nothing. But of course he knew of the pendant and its value, and the journey it had to end up in that bin; he knew it was not tossed. Blood was shed for the pendant, backs stabbed, arms ripped apart. But if she was a moderator, and if he was caught, he was going to play ignorant; he had found the pendant in a back alley, period.

 

It irritated him that the system would sooner or later, if not now, alert the moderators of suspicious behaviours. There was nothing suspicious of his behaviours. The system obviously would not have been able to pick up anything at all about his real life, or sense a hole in Edsger’s story. It was flawless. There was nothing a system like that could detect in him. Besides, there was nothing about his real life or Edsger’s that would trigger the alarm, except for the pendant. He hoped, fingers crossed, that she was not a moderator. It was just a bloody pendant, for heaven’s sake.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sVerrine

Yvanna scrutinized the extended hand of the sword wielder to sense any sort of dangerous intent, but none came through. She shortened the distance between them with a few lascivious steps and grabbed the man's hand.

 

"Yvanna Kirchner." Her fingers' touch was light and electrifying, Ralph struggling not to grip too tight to rise suspicion in Eaam's mind. "The delight is shared. Your fighting skills are something else."

 

Confessing this, Yvanna's azure chunks shifted at Edsger, the man who was of more interest to her. The male's composure didn't waver in intensity and his stoic countenance didn't suffer changes ever since the fighting scene. Yvanna's eyes narrowed for a fleeting instant, trying to decipher the eyes hidden behind the goggles, but the sun's beams reflecting directly into it made it impossible.

 

Another seconds passed in which Yvanna's eyes returned to Eaam, who didn't betray impatience in growing distant with her, in shaking the grip off. Yvanna's lips turned into a lopsidedly smile and she hadn't had chance to say anything as her pupils swished as rapidly as Edsger hand moved, probably involuntarily, to his chest. The smirk prevailed on Yvanna's lips and Ralph fight not to make its victorious feature obvious to the others.

 

'He is indeed hiding something.'

 

But at first sight, Yvanna couldn't tell what. She could have simply accessed the system history and analyze the past few days of the man, but that would have been incredibly boring and tiring. Yvanna's glare wavered back at the handsome man, whose obsidian eyes were cold and analytic when observing the woman's visage. The grip loosened and Yvanna wondered if the man figured out that she was a moderator. But as the silence was prominent from their side, the woman concluded that was not the case, only meaning that she could have extended fun with them while killing some cyborgs and trying to decipher Edsger's mysterious stance.

 

"And you, young man, has the cat eaten your tongue? What could be the name of someone who has such a beautiful weapon wield?"

 

At the back of his mind, Ralph could hear the constant vibration of his 'smart-phone' on the coffee table, thinking relieved that the message regarding the conference's details finally came through. But the meeting shouldn't be until eight in the evening, so he had another hour to spend with these guys, which was refreshing and exciting in his vision. He couldn't wait to discover more of the peculiar Edsger.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
UndertheWeather

“Edsger,” Youri blurted, shifting his weight onto the other leg, “Edsger Dijkstra.” He nervously eyed the tall lady ahead of him, and just for a moment, the clouds glided past the sun, obstructing the refuge that it had given him. His goggled had turned crystal clear, and his eyes open for the world to see. Immediately, he turned his face to one side and muttered, “Well, I’ve got to run now.” The transparent screen was summoned back, floating in the space ahead of him; his hands swiftly navigated the display, changing the settings of his existence, preparing to leave Cybergnostic.

 

What do you mean you’ve got to go?” grunted Eaam, “You’ve only been here for half a second.

 

Something urgent came up, Eaam,” replied Edsger, without looking up from the screen, “I’m sorry to have to leave so quickly.

 

Focusing all his strength onto hiding his sudden anxiety, he looked up from the blinking monitor and locked gaze with Yvanna for the first time since their encounter.

 

Pleasure to meet you, my lady, but I will have to excuse myself. I hope to meet you again in the time to come.” The words slipped between his pinks lips like an automatic android reading off a prepared script for a formal speech. He swallowed hard, hoping against hope that he did not look suspicious in any way possible, and held up a hand to say goodbye before hastily signing off the world.

 

Eaam sighed as he watched Edsger disappear.

 


 

The head piece slid off his head, and for the first time since he joined Cybergnostic three years ago, Youri got off the world feeling worse than when he got on it. Sweat was dribbling down his forehead, and his heart was pounding against his chest, threatening to shatter his ribcage into a million pieces. Why was he so nervous? He could not tell. For some reason the encounter was blood-curdling – for reasons that he could not possibly comprehend at the moment.

 

Hurriedly he grabbed his jacket, and left the dilapidated motel room. He needed some fresh air. And a smoke. Out in the night street, Youri lit a cigarette, and leisurely sauntered down the abandoned street. There was a posh hotel just down the second street, which was congested with people. Maybe he could get a drink from the bar there, and perhaps see if he could get into contact with some of the locals, who might or might not have any crucial information about SD, which was almost often important to him. Non-locals were as good. Whatever. He did not want to think about Cybergnostic at the moment. All he wanted to do was think about something else. Just. Something. Else.

 

He took quick small steps, and in just a second he found himself standing in front of the grand hotel. For a moment he wondered if he might possibly meet an SD personnel in there, and perhaps he could acquaint himself to them, and be a possible mole. No. Shit. He probably should not try to do someone else’s job. Anyhow, he would stay quite a while into the night at the bar to get his mind off Cybergnostic…

 

In the bar, Youri sat himself in a corner, away from the busy chattering of older men. Time crept on with it the slow disappearance of the patron of the bar. Still, he sat in his corner, now with two empty glasses on the table, and one half-drank. He stared out of the window at the busy street, neon signs glaring from atop a building, and the red tail lights of cars dotted the cramped streets. Youri sighed. It must have been half past ten at night. But he wanted to sit around a little longer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sVerrine

As she listened silently to Edsger, Yvanna was absolutely sure from his robotic speech and dubious body language that the man was the perpetrator of a crime. To her misfortune, though, the man disappeared before she could make a better acquaintance with him and the only one open for discussion was his partner, Eaam.

 

As soon as the man exited Cybergnostic, the blonde woman sighed in order to hide the disappointment from her eyes. She glanced at Eaam, who seemed eager to fight for another couple of hours and smiled wanly; although he didn't seem to be the talkative type, the woman hoped to extract any sort of information out of him.

 

"Well, it's just the two of us now. Better start going."

 

And they proceed in searching for larger and difficult to defeat cyborgs, which didn't take much of their time to find. Half an hour passed, and the more inquisitive Yvanna was, the more elusive Eaam responded to her questions. To not rise suspicion, she stopped talking at all about Edsger and focused on the fights, which prove to be a great distraction and mean of entertainment for Ralph. But his enthusiasm ebbed away as the killings were easily achieved, so along with the lose of interest grew Ralph's desire to exit the Cyber Universe.

 

"I thinks I will also go." As she blow up a cyborg's head, Yvanna's velvety voice engulfed the sound of the slithering metal when making her unexpected announcement. She didn't bother to cast a glance at Eaam, as she wasn't really interested in the man's reaction, probably negative judging his anterior behavior. A bluish hologram materialized in front of her and with a few shifts of her index finger, she exited Cybergnostic.

 

The metallic piece was grabbed with disappointment marked by a long sigh. Ralph didn't find anything about Edsger while being in Cybergnostic. The man glanced at the coffee table where his so-called smart phone was placed and it didn't pass long before grasping it and checking his earlier message. As suspected, it was valuable information regarding the conference Ralph was forced to attend. Scrolling down the full length of the message, the man learned that at 8.00 P.M. he will have to be in front of the International Grand Hotel, where he will be escorted to the meeting place.

 

"Seriously?" Ralph spoke loudly. "International Grand Hotel? No, let's not use virtual communication because it is too dangerous, but let's hold the meeting in a hotel where anyone could hear our conversation. Awesome decision. What the hell is wrong with them?"

 

After an exasperated growl, Ralph threw the phone on his bed, not before glancing at the clock. It was just a little after seven. Judging the mental map that Ralph had of the town, it should take him around 15 minutes to reach the hotel, added with 15 minutes he need to prepare before leaving, that will leave him with 30 minutes of free time. He glanced at his personal computer, mainly used for playing the Cybergnostic, and thought that he might have time to glance at Edsger's system profile, which was a bit different from the game profile that anyone could see. Mainly, the system profile revealed aspects like the place where he was the last time he logged in, his e-mail address and if he used or not cheating codes, which was a violation of the game's rules. Curious of the last, Ralph accessed the game's system and after a few clicks he found Edsger's special designed folder that stocked a large space of data information.

A strong chill glided down his spine and his heartbeat seemed to quicken in pace. The man tried to shook off the feeling, labeling it as ridiculous and clicked the folder. His eyes first fell on the log in details, and the man was stunned to see that the information was accessed from here, from Berlin. He squinted his eyes and scrolled down, but the location differed, changing names occasionally.

 

"A traveler?" Ralph wondered as he started tasting lines of numbers and letters which to a common onlooker would have made no sense. He was searching for cheating codes, but the alarm didn't seem to be triggered from this reason. This meant that Ralph should now look into Edsger's last activity folder, but that would have taken time that he didn't have at hand.

 

With the disappointment still lingering around, he shut down his PC and with a luring thought in his mind that he might run in this man on the street, Ralph approached the arm chair where a black suit was carefully placed. As he suspected, after 15 minutes he was ready to leave the shabby hotel which once again drifted in silence. With the thought continuously pestering him, he started strolling down the congested street.

 


 

The conference dragged on until the tenth struck of the vintage clock which accompanied the loud banter of the women and men present in the main hall of the hotel. Ralph's sigh was hardly audible.

 

For the first time in his life, Ralph thought that he worked for a company that had idiots as employees. The update that he developed took indeed seven days to be completed, time when the system was entirely vulnerable to attacks from the exterior; but his update could have still been considered flawless as he designed a software to protect the system from any harmful attacks. Even so, the Berlin Branch still considered the level of protection to be insufficient, reason why they summoned its creator, Ralph, to maintain the system till the update was done. Not to mention, that the update was created in such a way that it could be achieved through five steps, each step taking a period of time too short for the hackers to achieve anything.

 

"But no! They wanted a full update! Greedy bastards."

 

Exhausted from the stupidity he had to put up with, he directed his steps towards the hotel's bar, which was itself filled with all types of customers. Ralph liked the bar's music and the sense of intimacy it offered despite the number of men and women chatting loudly. He grabbed a glass of gin and tonic and locked his eyes on a table for four persons where a single man was standing desolated.

A victorious smirk washed over his tired expression as we approached the man with quick steps.

 

"Mind if I join?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
UndertheWeather

The blinking neon lights, glaring from atop a building just a distance away, was reflected on Youri’s eyes, making them look uncharacteristically prosthetic; his pair of hazel brown eyes was as real as the glass of whisky sitting on the table in front of him. There was surprisingly not much of him that was not organic. As an employee of Hudson, especially one who was the child of the company, he had very minor altercations and implants – but no doubt his augmentations were the most risky ones of all unnatural invasion of the human body, the brain implants. With such changes, the risk of him dying young from all kinds of problems was so much higher than one who had an arm augmentation, or even eyes augmentations, for the brain is the central processing unit of the entire human body; the side-effects were major, shunning in its shadows those of the bodily augmentations as mere whines of a baby, the medications were not any better. Undoubtedly, the price he had to pay for such augmentations definitely did not outweigh the benefits, values, and supremacy of the inhumane changes. He would die young, in a few years time, and Hudson would lose a very valuable asset. But by then they would already have developed another “Youri” who would take the place of Youri, and when that Youri died, another Youri would take his place. The cycle is continuous, its equilibrium maintained. The thought was petrifying, and it made him feel less of a human being, not the Hudson had ever seen he or any of the other employees as anything more than the bolts and tools that kept the company going. Hudson could easily remove any of them, yet none of them could remove Hudson, not even if they were the building blocks of the company. It was impossible. They were always watched. No one knew who was aligned to Hudson, and who was independent; and some were frighteningly “Hudson” themselves. It was a tough life. Youri had no alignment at the moment, at least not one that he was aware of.

 

He sighed, and just then he heard, “Mind if I join?

 

Averting his gaze from the darkness beyond the posh building, he was met with a pair of emerald eyes – ones that he knew at once were prosthetic. It was not easy to tell the differences given the technology, but over the years he had learned to tell apart organic eyes from synthetic ones; he had stared at his eyes, a long stretch of period at once, and stared at those of his best friend’s – his partner in crime since they were toddlers. It was easy to gain access to augmented eyes these days, but it was hard to get good ones, and ones that looked almost real. And the man who was standing next to him with a glass of gin and tonic in his hand, Youri was certain to have money or a significant position in either Hudson or Stewart-Dawson – the pair of eyes was perfect.

 

Youri did not know everyone in the Information Technology Sector, let alone the entire Hudson Megacorporation – for that matter, out of the various factions in the IT sector, he only managed to know the few hundred in the Digital Faction for he was the head of the faction, and even then he knew for certain only a handful of them; even with his boosted memory capacity, it was almost impossible to know everyone. The Megacorporation was indeed mega.

 

So, if this handsome, tall man said that he was from Hudson, he would not be surprised. Not that he cared at the moment…

 

Not at all,” he replied with a smile, his hand gesturing to the seat across him, “Have a seat.” The accent in his voice immediately revealed that he was not a local, and neither was he a German from any cities around the country, even that of the tiniest village. Or at least, there was no indication of a vocal contamination from the German language.

 

Youri took a sip from his glass, and placing it down gently on the table he enquired his new company, “Spending the night here?” He tilted his head to one side with a cynical smile carved across his face, indicating that he meant the grand hotel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sVerrine

Seeing the handsome man's gesturing the seat, Ralph smiled nonchalantly and sat down, gliding some gin down his throat. Hearing more words from the man across him, he immediately concluded that he was, just like him, a foreigner sent in Berlin, most probably with business matters.

 

Facing him directly, Ralph took his chance and scrutinize the man intently, his cold implanted eyes reflecting in two distant amber chunks. Features such as the lack of facial hair and wrinkles betrayed a youthful countenance, so Ralph guessed that the man was younger than him, but probably working in the tertiary sector of the economy as the darkened circles around his eyes betrayed a demanding and stressful job.

Ralph's last technology eye-augmentation could have easily revealed him even more information about this man, but Ralph decided that his fun in finding more on his own would have been spoiled.

 

Spending the night here?"

 

Ralph couldn't help but chuckle at the man's inquire. "That would make me a masochist. I just finished a two hour meeting half composed of completely idiotically impractical and overly stupid men that booked rooms in this hotel. To see their faces everyday? No thank you."

 

Chain-smoking being one of Ralph's addiction in life, he grabbed his pack of cigarettes and a metallic lighter that had a*intricate design craved on. It was something he received on his 25 years anniversary from an Asian co-worker, and he grew so attached to it that it rapidly became mandatory to his everyday smoking life.

 

"Do you mind if I smoke?" Ralph's eyes hardly ever betrayed any feeling, but in that instant moment, he pleaded for the man's answer to be negative as the urge to unleash nicotine in his blood was as compulsory as Ralph's wish to not leave the man's side.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
UndertheWeather

Youri raised an eyebrow at the look of the male sitting across the table from himself. What could he say? He did not smoke, but unlike many non-smokers he did not mind the smell of cigarette; in fact, he would not mind smoking if he was offered one. Supposedly he did not smoke because he did not see a reason to do so, plus he was not way too keen on reducing his already short lifespan.

 

"Not at all," said he with a tilt of his head, "Only that I hope the hotel management doesn't mind either." And he let out a charming laughter. With a shrug of his shoulders and a broad grin, Youri said, "Go ahead. This place is so smoky I can't see my own eyes, anyway."

 

Over the rim of the whisky glass, his hazel brown eyes inspected the stunning features of the tall man sat comfortably in his chair with the cigarette packet and lighter in his hands. In this age of cheap beauty, he was surprised to see that the man across him was likely to not have had any surgical alterations to his facial features and well-built form. And he felt a pang in his chest - what was that? Attraction? Jealousy? Yes, he must admit that the handsome male was undoubtedly attractive physically, but is he attracted to him...in that way? Brushing the thought aside, he chose the latter. Must be the case, he insisted, denying any ideas pertaining the attraction his bottom half had towards the unquestionably attractive young man. Well, certainly jealousy was apparent within him; he had a few alterations himself - not many, but enough for him to regard himself unnatural; he supposed he was lucky enough to not look disastrously horrendous. His new acquaintance, however, seemed unearthly; even if he had had surgical alterations to his organic body, Youri was almost certain that it was a minor one - at least to Youri's eyes the specimen sitting in front of him looked perfect and natural, but then again he had priceless eyes; natural-looking alterations should not be too much of a problem for his pockets. Youri could not tell anymore at that point. Doesn't matter, he is still attractive any how, he thought. And at once he shook the thoughts out of his messed up head.

 

"I assume you're working for a posh company having a meeting here," Youri asked with a cynical smile. If only Hudson would provide him with such luxuries, especially for his accommodation. Lucky guy. But if he was from Hudson, Youri might silently protest against the unfair treatment. At that point, however, he did not quite care which megacorporation either of them was affiliated to; he just felt like communicating like a human being.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sVerrine

Ralph masked his relief when he was given permission to smoke and drove with a victorious smirk a cigarette out of his packet. He placed it between his thin pale lips and in a short time, nicotine started mixing with his own blood, giving him a great sense of calmness. The smoke interlaced with the fume engulfing the luxurious bar filled with chatter.

 

"I assume you're working for a posh company having a meeting here."

 

Ralph scrutinize pensively the other's complexion and for the first time accorded attention to the details. Apart from the natural features that betrayed the man's youth, with his prosthetic eyes, Ralph could discern a few augmentations in his eyes and some artificial touches on his skin; but none was a bother to the eye as Ralph was used to. Having a complete eye implant had its own downs - Ralph had such a good vision that most human beings, desperate to be more younger and attractive, looked hideously artificial. He almost never found himself attracted to someone's appearance.

But this man, standing only a few inches apart from him, had such an attractive allure that Ralph couldn't help but stare intensively. The brunet admitted being attracted, but that didn't cloud his mind; he understood that having expensive augmentations implied the man having an important job at one of the mega-corporations. He could have been a Stewart-Dawson employee, but he could as well work for Hudson. Ralph felt like walking on mines, so in order to not make a wrong step, he replied accordingly:

 

"Not just one. You could say I work for any company that founds itself in need of my abilities, be it posh or not."

 

Technically speaking, it was not a lie because Ralph had to commute occasionally to maintain the systems of various companies that were on S-D's jurisdiction. There were times, though, when firms that weren't yet branches of S-D sought his help and the mega-corporation sent him if it had interests there. But that didn't imply that Ralph traveled a lot, most of times he could solve the problem from home, using his last generation desktop, which was sometime a relief. Basically, Ralph spoke the truth, but didn't mention that he received direct orders from S-D.

 

"Anyway, I am here just for another week, but judging by your accent, you are no German yourself. Perhaps you are here on business just like me." Ralph averted his eyes, glancing at the red tail that the fast moving cars displayed when rushing down the street. The night just began and he was just dealing out business with one of the few persons that he met and wasn't repugnant in matters of appearance.

 

"Let' talk about something else; business is for the day; night is the best for more... private matters." And Ralph glanced nonchalantly at the other; eyeing his youthful features. For a fleeting instant, he wondered how would the man look while smoking and didn't let another second pass without knowing the answer. "By the way, do you want one?" and he indicated with his eyes the packet of cigarette. "I guess you know about Cuba closing its borders. When it first happened three months ago, it was a complete catastrophe for smokers, I'm telling you. But fortunately, I have some friends there who supply me. These are the best, trust me."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
UndertheWeather

Leaning back in his seat, Youri let his gaze break away from the handsome features of his company. The ice in his glass was slowly melting, its new form fusing with the darkness of the whisky that surrounded the transparent rock. Johnny Walker Black. It was his favourite. He tilted the cup in his direction to get a closer look of the steady transformation that was beginning to dilute the beautiful colour of his drink, gradually turning it into the colour off his own irises - hazel brown irises. He jiggled the glass and took a sip. The sensation of the alcohol, as it burned the back of his throat, made him feel a little better, a little less tired. The day had been long. And tiring.

 

"Not just one. You could say I work for any company that founds itself in need of my abilities, be it posh or not."

 

His gaze was still fixed on the process of nature that was happening within the small confinement of the circular glass, mesmerised by this accidental discovery, like a child who had just stumbled upon a colony of ants in his backyard. The topic of work did not interest him at the moment, despite being the one who brought up the topic.

 

"Anyway, I am here just for another week, but judging by your accent, you are no German yourself. Perhaps you are here on business just like me."

 

Still no motion.

 

"Let' talk about something else; business is for the day; night is the best for more... private matters."

 

At that, Youri looked up from his glass. He was almost thankful that his company shared the same sentiment as him. And he felt a sense of gladness when he was offered the cigarette. Not because he needed one, but because he needed a change. He smiled wanly at Ralph, the fatigue beginning to show around his organic eyes, "I wouldn't mind having one." To himself, he wondered if it was the right time to be adventurous with the world. He supposed it would not kill him. "As you can tell, I don't smoke," he chuckled, "But, I suppose, as you can tell too, it might do me some good." His gaze was fixed on Ralph's smooth features. "I'm spent," he murmured, slouching in his seat.

 

Silently he listened to his company spoke of Cuba, his brain registering every word that was said, but only half of them sank into his dull mind. A laugh broke from his pink lips, "Yes, I know Cuba closed borders, but I'm pretty sure I don't comprehend your loss." He sat up, and leaned forward, placing the glass with the natural deterioration still going on within it on the low table in front of him. His back was hunched, his right elbow digging into his knees and his chin resting on his hand; with his left hand, he reached out towards Ralph and accepted the cigarette.

 

"Been smoking all your life?" enquired Youri. A pause. "You know, your lungs would soon collapse from so much of this poison," he teased, waving the cigarette between his fingers, "Give me a light, eh?" Placing the cigarette between his lips, he motioned forward, closer to the taller male. Youri winked.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sVerrine

While speaking, Ralph found himself being attracted by the man's glance, which betrayed a fascination of his own while staring at his half-empty glass of whisky. It was a glitter of emotion that most persons that Ralph spoke to lacked considerably, reason why he considered his companion's character rather intriguing and worth exploring that night.

 

With a low velvety voice, the man spoke of his own experience with cigarettes and also brought up inquires about Ralph, but not before having the chance to tease him regarding the poison he spread on his own accord inside his body. Ralph couldn't help but feel happy that the person before him was comfortable enough with smoking for the first time while being in his, Ralph's, company.

 

"Well, as soon you light it, " And he give a quick glance at the cigarette between the man's lips, at the same time grabbing his beautifully craved lighter. He pressed rapidly the metallic button, and the flame popped out, lighting the cigarette. "I will easily be able to tell all that." Ralph's words and actions might have seem mischievous, but his stance betrayed no evil intent.

 

Being questioned about his life as a smoker, Ralph tried to remember some memories regarding his first attempts lighting cigarettes. "I've been a smoker for as long as I can remember. It's probably genetic anyway. I remember smelling the constant, poignant odor of cigarette when I was little; my parents were probably heavy smokers." And he drove the cigarette forward, in the ashtray's direction, letting the already smoked substances fall down.

 

Remembering the teasing, Ralph couldn't help but chuckle. "Well, I don't expect to live that long anyway." A glitter of surreal loneliness invaded for an instant Ralph's demeanor, but dissipated as quickly as another shot of nicotine pulsed through the brunet's veins. "Well, I have no death wish, please don't misunderstood. In the past I was a chain-smoker, enjoyed every last bit of the cigarettes. But now I seldom let the smoke pass my throat, down to my lungs. It's just this habit" And Ralph gestured with a quick up and down movement of his right hand, where his cigarette was placed. "that I can't leave them entirely."

 

Ralph tried to find through that veil of smoke the man's face before continuing speaking. "You said smoking would do you good. Why is that? Something amiss in your life?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
UndertheWeather

"Genetics," chuckled Youri.

 

As soon as the cigarette was lit, Youri took a long drag, letting the novel sensation slowly wash over his body. In actuality, it was not quite as novel as he would like to believe; it was not his first cigarette as a person, but it was one since ages ago. He had tried smoking - for a brief period of time - but he did not quite fancy it, never got the hang of it, so never stuck to it.

 

Tobacco and alcohol. Such good combination. He was sure he would drown himself in more alcohol as the night dragged on, and possibly shamelessly ask for more cigarettes. It was hard to see how he would not do that. All the foreign chemicals that he had induced had taken away the tiredness that had hung over his shoulders like dead weights; his muscles were now relaxed as he slouched forward in his seat, and his mind clear, and he did feel better, a light sensation stirring within him, one that resembled goodness, peace, and serenity. And he was sure he would suffer the consequences the next morning. During the conference. But he could not be bothered about that at the moment.

 

"Every smoker's best friend - an excuse that would never get old," he teased the chain-smoker, and took a puff off the cigarette. The length of the cigarette was shrinking very quickly as he indulged himself in the poison, burning the surfaces of his lungs, and suffocating the cells in his body.

 

"Well, I have no death wish, please don't misunderstood. In the past I was a chain-smoker, enjoyed every last bit of the cigarettes. But now I seldom let the smoke pass my throat, down to my lungs. It's just this habit."

 

Youri laughed, "Oh, you smokers crack me up."

 

Searching his mind, Youri could not find a trace of memory of the last time he felt quite so much at ease with someone. A spark of optimism lit within him. His company was handsome, charming, and they seem to be getting on quite well. Well, even if they did not get on quite too well, he would still take him to bed - that is, if he swings that way. Who would not? At least, he would not.

 

"You said smoking would do you good. Why is that? Something amiss in your life?"

 

"Ah..." But before he could speak of the fatigue, the nanochips in his brain seemed to fire off in the other direction and compelled him to blurt out his conscious thoughts.

 

"Loneliness," murmured Youri, his mind perceiving an image of the bed in his motel room. His elbow dug deeper into his thigh as he adjusted his weight in his seat; his chin was cupped in his hand where the cigarette was burning between his fingers, and his gaze was upon the handsome face of his company.

 

For a moment, silence veiled his existence. What? The hell was I saying... And inwardly he laughed at how weak his body was, succumbing to these substances.

 

"Been quite a while away from home. Rather miss it," said he, attempting to make up a reason other than one that brought about the vocalisation of the word. It was a shallow statement. Not quite a lie, but not quite the truth either. Partially both, and the falsity of part of the statement was in fact true, and yet false.

 

The smile that followed the words a split second later, he hoped to be convincing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sVerrine

Ralph listened mesmerized how the low velvety voice of his companion filled the space which was almost harshly parting them. Seeing the man's ardent eyes, overwhelmed by hidden and timid desire gradually growing into lust, he started to consider various possibilities of their night together.

 

When the passion that the man's stance naturally displayed wore off, a tinge of loneliness quickly taking over; the answer materialized as rapidly as sodomitic fantasies were born, engulfing his mind entirely. The brunet's body heat grew in intensity and his fantasies were so prominent that he couldn't help but fidget restlessly in his seat. How long has it been since he had been so excited? He couldn't tell, as sexual fantasies mostly remained only fantasies for him.

 

Ralph imagined how his long pale fingers would ravish the man's light colored hair, then his youthful face where he would place wet kisses over the pale thin lips that would move hectically, panting; as Ralph's hands would move forward, touching the man's more private, intimate parts, stirring his body with feelings of passionate thrills.

 

"Been quite a while away from home. Rather miss it,"

 

Ralph's fantasy broke into small pieces and he looked bewildered at the man's complexion which emphasized only feelings of alienation.

 

"I... didn't mean to sadden you like this." Ralph stumbled with his words. He glanced pensively at the man and only one thought penetrated his mind. He started thinking how to proceed; to be direct or to drop some hints instead?

 

"Well, loneliness is no feeling of being ashamed of; with the advanced technology nowadays, it has become common. People are more keen to seek the machines rather than human relationships." And Ralph put his cigarette out, sipping some gin before continuing. "So individualistic." And the brunet seemed to have lost himself in thought for some time, thinking of the last relationship of romantic nature that he had; he wondered if it existed at all or it has been a simple situation in which he could have sex whenever he wanted.

 

'Sex...' When was the last time he had done it? Ralph could barely remember it and only then realized how frustrated he had actually been the whole time. He glanced at the other male with impatience he attempt to hide. "Do you want to go somewhere else? It's sort of noisy here."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
UndertheWeather

Youri chuckled. Taking another sip of whisky from his glass, his mind began to wonder around in the memories of the past. Home? Loneliness? Sadness? Nothing seemed to stir within him at the ideas that which one would expect would stir within a regular human being. A smug smile crept up his face as the thought of being different and special was implied by the idea. Who was he kidding? He was no one in this huge world. A sigh escaped his pink lips.

 

It did not matter anyway; he had played the card, and it had given him something to stretch their brief relationship with. At the moment, he had the choice to reveal to his handsome company that he was not feeling lonely or he could have the man take him to bed and comfort his lecherous desire. With a life where lies roll from his tongue every minute, the choice was as easy as falling off a log...

 

"Sex...Do you want to go somewhere else? It's sort of noisy here."

 

Was that an invitation? Surprise took hold of his being - not because he was a saint, but because he did not quite expect that; he had thought from the beginning that his company did not swing that way - he was too handsome for that. Well, what more could he ask for? And doubt was no use now, and neither was rejection.

 

"That was straight," he tittered.

 

Youri placed the glass down on the table, and killed the cigarette.

 

"We could head to my place, just around the corner," he suggested, "But given the miser I am working for, it is not the most comfortable place."

 

Mentally, he tried to recall what he had left lying around in his room that he would not want his companion to see. Nothing came to mind. The company's computer was already packed in a safety box before he left - a habit that was developed over years of living a life treading on fire; his personal computer, however, was still on his bed, the Cybergnostic hologram swivelling, projected from its screen. That matters not, though.

 

Putting on his jacket, he motioned from his seat, ready to leave the posh hotel for his dilapidated motel room.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sVerrine

"That was straight."

 

Ralph chuckled in silence. "I prefer it that way. What point is in playing games if the other party is not interested in the first place?" A lopsidedly smile appeared on his face but disappeared before it could be observed to its full extent.

 

"We could head to my place, just around the corner, but given the miser I am working for, it is not the most comfortable place."

 

Ralph's place was in no better state and he didn't have enough money on him to pay for a hotel room, so the young man's idea had a good sound to his ears. As the other got up from his seat and was ready to exit the room, Ralph followed his example, grabbing his jacket, but not before leaving money for their drinks. He glanced at the other's quick, impatient steps and he himself got excited quickly, wild thoughts roaming inside his mind.

 

The wind gusted coldly through their cloths, as if trying to cool down the heat that was forming inside Ralph's body. He tried to ignore his increasing heartbeat as he walked in the immediate proximity of the man. The heat was spreading alarmingly fast and he seemed to get overly excited, making his thoughts and expression harder to conceal; being focused became difficult. Was it because he hadn't engaged in 'pleasurable' activities in such a long time or was the fact that he found the man beside him incredibly attractive?

 

The time seemed to stretch infinitely; stopping at red lights and waiting for 60 seconds was a moment that Ralph quickly labelled as interminable. For fleeting instants, he only thought about shoving the man in a dark corner and ravage him entirely. But he didn't want to risk the possible feelings that he might have stirred inside the young man who so easily accepted his blunt offer for the sole reason that he was impatient. At times while waiting for the green light, he actually wondered if this could be more that an one-night stand, but realized that probably, as it usually happened, he would easily lose these thoughts after the act was done and the night passed.

 

The cars stopped, they thread through the crowd and another 5 minutes were spent walking. Ralph felt like a volcano who was ready any moment to explode. It was so unlike him to act like that, it frightened him to some extent, but refused to give a full thought to this in that right moment.

 

"How much more till we arrive?" As he spoke, he tried to hide his excitement, impatience and apprehension.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
UndertheWeather

Even though night had long fallen like a black curtain over the city of Berlin, the overhanging bypass was still disturbed by the occasional silent speeding of expensive cars, and the streets were dotted with dark faces hidden behind psychotropic masks. Youri kept his gaze straight ahead, avoiding eye contact with the people whose existence might as well not be in the one physical reality that anyone can exist in. Drugs were never his thing; he had tried it, and like tobacco, never got the hang of it. Relieve and pleasure he derived from the medication he took to combat the side-effects of the brain implants - not that it was a better alternative since he was beginning to develop tolerance towards the medication for being rather careless with the intake; occasionally he took more than he was supposed to, and at other times, he took it out of schedule or when he did not need them. A cynical smile crept up to his face. There was no difference between him and the sea of people around him - except for his company...

 

And he realised that he had not asked for his name. Should he? That would be the first step towards commitment, and all his life, his one-night stands had never gone any further than being just a one lustful night together. And would he be willing to bet on this man? A man that he came to know over cigarettes and alcohol. He knew practically nothing about him - what he did for a living, where he was from, who he was. Nothing. And it made him wonder why in the world he was even considering pursuing a stable relationship with the man. And what made him think that this man was inter-

 

"How much more till we arrive?"

 

Immediately he turned to face the man; he had been so immersed in his thoughts that he had forgotten that the actual specimen was next to him.

 

"Just around the corner," said he, cheeks turning red out of embarrassment for his rudeness.

 

Down the street, a weather-torn motel sat in a darken corner, a neon sign hanged above its entrance, its glaring bright blue light reflected in the organic and prosthetic eyes of the two males. Only then when they stepped through the door that he noticed a certain fidgety characteristic of his companion. Was he nervous? Something stirred within him. Surely it was not his first night with another man, and if it was, he might feel quite restless himself for he would not know how to go about with it.

 

Unlocking the door to his small motel room, Youri showed Ralph in.

 

"I hope you don't mind the mess," he said as he began to push whatever belongings he had left straying around on the floor into a pile.

 

Turning around he said, "I've not asked for your name..." and at that moment, quick thoughts flashed - should he offer his real name to this unknown man? There was an infinite possibilities of the danger of doing that, and he could never be too cautious. Yet, on the other hand, if he managed to commit himself to his handsome company, it might be a huge mess when he revealed the fact that he was not who he claimed to be...And that was why he was never committed...

 

Youri blinked.

 

"George," he offered an English variant form of his own name. "I'm George."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...