As some of you may know, I wrote in NaNoWriMo last year. I got a chance to clean up the manuscript and I’ve posted it in full at Authonomy.com. I plan to write again this year and I’ll be doing an entire novel following Russel Belkin, A.K.A. Micron, this November. So in order to get people excited for Macro Corp: A MATTER OF TIME, here’s chapter 1 of RISE OF CHAOS.
I’ll look into releasing a FREE Amazon version soon,but for those that can’t wait take a look at it on Authonomy.
Chapter 1 — The Interview.
4:57 PM, 09-25-20XX
“I always wanted to be interviewed on Channel Five, but I never imagined I’d be wearing tights.” Raymond Teller adjusted his gloves as he walked, ducking to avoid the Television studio hall’s ceiling. High for most people, cramped for him.
Russell Belkin, his business partner, smirked. “It’s not all bad. We’re heroes after all.”
“Yeah.” Ray took a deep breath, pausing before the door. The word ‘LIVE’ blinked on to the neon sign, inches from his face.
“Remember. Stand up straight, hands on your hips, chest out,” Russell said, giving him a slap in the middle of his back. “You’re not nervous are you?”
“No, I guess not.” Ray pushed open the door and stepped onto the stage. The studio lights caught the lenses of the simple fabric mask framing his eyes. It filtered the glare in real time, and a digital read out of sixty percent appeared in his heads up display. Dave really thought of everything.
The audience burst into cheers. Claps and whoops filled the studio. Ray raised a hand. A green frame appeared in his vision, indicating his systems identification of Julie Tattle. He didn’t need a machine to recognize her brunette hair pulled into a bun and her powder blue dress-suit.
Ray had no business criticizing fashion. He had just stepped onto a local television broadcast wearing dark blue tights, and an ensemble of dark green gloves, boots, a chest plate, and his underwear on the outside of his pants. He insisted on leaving his mouth and hair uncovered though, he wanted the world to know their new hero was a man of color.
Russ, Ray’s partner, sported a more practical black and red motif. He insisted the ridiculous getups were a staple for any respectable super hero. Other than the color, Russ’ uniform mimicked Ray’s but dialed back the flare of his chest piece and only had a single ‘M’ on it. His mask was more of a cowl, exposing only his mouth and chin. A hero has to be recognizable at a glance, huh? He trusted Russ’ advice. A leader has to stand out most of all. His long-standing friend and advisor stayed back, willingly accepting his role as his sidekick, Micron.
Russ strode next to Ray and aimed a sideways glare at him.
Oh, right. Ray placed his hands on his hips, straightened to his full height, nine feet in all. Russ had always been shorter, but his five-foot-something frame looked tiny next to him now. Most people did, standing next to Macro Man.
Camera lights filled the studio and Ray flashed his brightest smile. That part came naturally. Before becoming a hero, he had posed for many pictures for minor magazines and this would not faze him. Back then, he had a less flamboyant fashion sense, though.
“Ladies and Gentleman,” the stage came to life with the voice of their host. “We’re proud to bring you our local superheroes, Macro Man and Micron.”
The cheers erupted once more, leaving Ray with a nervous knot in his stomach. He took the cue and approached the interview chairs. On his third step, the floor moved under his boot. He caught the misstep, turning towards the far wall of the studio.
Russ noticed it too. He narrowed his eyes to slits, stepped away and approached the audience. Ms. Tattle gave a quizzical look; it hadn’t been in the script. Ray raised a hand of apology and leaned close to Russ. “Something up?”
Russ activated his scanning system with a tap at his temple. “Yeah, I got a bad feeling. That wasn’t seismic activity. Quakes aren’t common here in the Big Easy. I’m getting some sort of heat signature right over–”
A framed exclamation point flashed red warning in his heads up display. A blast of light poured into the studio, slamming into the stylized double M motif on his chest plate. He toppled backwards, hit with the force of a speeding car, and slid along the studio floor. He crashed through the interview chairs, slamming against the far wall. Julie Tattle fled for her life. The cheers turned to screams of terror.
Russ dodged the second blast and ran to toss open an exit door, then another. Micron had used his super speed to start evacuating civilians; Macro Man would take care of the heavy lifting. Ray stood from the rubble, pushing it aside like snow from a mound, and a red square settled amongst the smoke.
Unidentified. No vitals. It’s a machine. Ray clapped a fist into his palm. “No need to hold back, then.” He charged forward into the rolling dust and debris. The heads-up display warning flashed again, and a quick lateral step dodged the next laser shot. The second shot also pushed away the remaining smoke, revealing his foe, a humanoid robot. Ray tensed, hesitating long enough to take a heavy punch to the chest. It did little, urging him backwards a few inches, but the attacker moved like a person.
Ray seized its arm and let out a roar, twisting the attack into an arm-bar. Particles of debris and a puff of compressed air gushed from a release mechanism, like a hydraulic pump, twisting enough to make the act useless. It raised its pistol, readied, and fired. The warning flashed as the beam of energy slammed into his shoulder.
Braced as he was, and with a good grip on the arm, they both slid backwards. His shoulder throbbed like his chest. The lasers tested the limits of his supposed invulnerability. So I’m just really sturdy, huh?
“Let’s take this outside.” Ray crouched and leapt, taking the killer machine with him. He smashed through the studio ceiling and into the blue New Orleans sky. Bits of concrete fell around him, clattering against the news center’s roof. The machine fired an impulse shot, missing narrowly and launching into the sky. He landed next to his improvised skylight, boots crunching into the concrete, got a good hold of its legs and wrenched his foe into a wild swing.
The robot struggled against his grip, but the centrifugal force of the spin and Ray’s iron grip left it utterly helpless. He inched towards the roof, with the control of a hammer throw Olympian. The machine fired but the beam deflected harmlessly off of Ray’s shoulder plate, doing nothing to stop his momentum. He hopped and the momentum wrenched them from the four story roof.
They tumbled through the air on a collision course with the ground below. Ray yanked the machine close in a belly-to-belly suplex towards the parking lot below, crushing the machine between his weight and a parked car. The roof crumpled into a twisted ruin and the machine took the brunt of the impact. Ray stood and dusted flecks of paint and rubble from his uniform, keeping a wary eye on the pinned machine. The audience poured out of the building, funneling around his point of impact. Julie Tattle followed close by Russ and a cameraman.
“Mac, I thought you’d take the fight out back,” Russ said, approaching. “Less cars parked there.”
“You think I can steer that well?” Ray glanced down at the machine; it struggled to free itself from the car’s roof. “You’re the one who can fly.”
“Oh, m-my Car.” Julie Tattle’s shoulders sagged. “You couldn’t have— no, doesn’t matter. Barry, Make sure you get all this.”
Her camera man nodded and the recording light popped on.
“Hey,” Ray said, turning to her. “It’s still not safe here.”
The car shifted under his feet and a voice filled his thoughts, one not his own. Get away. Ray hopped off the car, raising his guard. The warning hadn’t been from his HUD; no incoming signals, or increasing power signatures.
“This is Julie Tattle on location. A strange creature has attacked the—”
“Are you blind, lady?” Russ stepped in front of the camera. “Or deaf too? It’s a robot and it’s dangerous. This isn’t the time to be recording footage.”
“This is exactly the time to record footage,” she said through clenched teeth. “We have this slot filled for an interview with you, so I’ve turned it into a special feature.”
“I think something’s wrong.” Ray raised a hand to his throbbing head. “Someone just warned me to get away.”
“It’s probably just the vocal prompt on your mask,” Russ said, shrugging. “I always shut mine off. It’s annoying.”
“No, not that. It was a human voice.”
The car exploded in a plume of flame and the machine wrenched free. Thruster flames pushed the machine away, putting distance between the heroes and their assailant. Ray’s mask scanners warned of an increasing power signature.
Russ tapped his temple to manipulate his own. “That’s not good.”
The warnings flew by too fast to read, and the machine typed on a panel on its arm. Ray noticed then, for the first time, the machine took the form of a humanoid female. It stood at average height with long silver hair and skin the color of steel.
Ray lowered his weight, getting ready to charge.
Russ raised a hand, stopping him. “That’s a magnetic field. We go into that and our equipment will stop working.”
“I’m glad you know your stuff,” Ray said. “What do we do about it?”
“Not sure, but I don’t get it.” Russ narrowed his eyes. “If it’s a machine, that field should shut it down too.”
The cars in the parking lot shook, and inched towards their foe. The killer machine raised a palm towards them, ejecting a small metal orb. It rolled towards them, crackling with energy. A red warning frame highlighted, a chorus of beeps filled his ears, and a sea of red frames filled his field of vision. “The cars?”
“Not good at all. It’s magnetizing them.” Russ waved away Julie and her camera man. “Stop filming. You need to get away.”
“Not a chance. We—” The cameraman let out a yelp as his camera wrenched from his hands. Julie’s belt snapped away from her, spiraling towards the small hovering orb. Bits of metal from Ms. Tattle’s car sailed through the air, fallen screws, coins, anything the field could grab hold of, slamming together in one point of space. The cars inched closer, until one upended and swirled about, taken in by an invisible cyclone.
Ray and Russ watched in silence. Car after car fused into a gathering mass. Their mechanical assailant vanished from sight behind the twisted clump of steel, glass and plastic.
“I think now would be a good time to run.” Ms. Tattle doubled back into the building, her cameraman close on her heels.
“Finally.” Russ rolled his eyes. “So what are we gonna do to stop this?”
“How big of a giant would we need to stop a mass of three dozen cars?” Ray said, cracking his knuckles.
“A car’s ten feet long average,” Russ said, crossing his arms to consider the math. “About three dozen of them, including three SUV’s. Factor in your strength scaling. Considering the square inches, About forty feet tall. Give or take.”
Ray focused his mind. Fifty feet, then, just to be safe. He crouched, letting power rush into him, and the world around him grew smaller. He got bigger.
The ball of steel hurdled towards him, tossed into a wild roll across the lot. Concrete tore as the ball of jagged steel grew closer. Ray squared his shoulders, waiting with palms up. The ball crashed into him and with a grunt, he grabbed hold. The blades of jagged steel pricked through his gloves like needles but failed to pierce through his hardened skin. He slid back until the back of his head pressed against the roof, providing the leverage he needed. Ray focused, forming green energy formed at his hands and hefted the steel ball over him like the statue of Atlas. He let out a mighty roar and launched the steel mass skyward like a shot put, a faint green glow propelled into the sky until it vanished into the field of blue.
“Micron, track it,” Ray said, wiping his chin.
“On it.” Russ tapped his temple. “Trajectory and acceleration says– oh yeah, that one’s outta here. You might get a littering fine from Mars, though.”
Ray scanned the parking lot, finding no trace of the killer machine. He focused again, letting the power flee from his body, and the world returned to normal. Bits of stone crumbled from the news building; the impact had done quite a number on it. He stumbled forward, wincing.
“You alright, Mac? Nice catch, by the way,” Russ said, offering a thumbs up. “You might have missed your calling as a goalkeeper.”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Ray said. “I should make sure I’m current on my tetanus shots when we get back, though. I think that drew blood.”
The scanners showed nothing around the area where the machine had once stood. A headache formed from the beeps and warnings of the physical assessment scans. “I heard someone. They warned me to jump back, said something to me.’”
“Rogue communication, maybe? Sound like radio?”
“Too clear and too relevant,” Ray said. “I guess we’ll worry about it later. Right now we have some collateral damage to address.”
“Oh. Right.” Russ sheltered his eyes and looked skyward, frowning. “Might be quite the price tag. I think I saw a few Mercedes in there. Say, you think that counts as theft? I don’t think there’s a claim status for a car launched into space.”