Sunday, 15 September 2013

Aesthar: A Head Of The City (Part 1 of 2)

         Aesthar fell into the roof of the city. With defence protocols initiated, her history fell after her: splintering down into multi-reflective, self-perpetuating memshards that flashed back flashbacks of happier times; less broken-up times.

The spires of the astral world reached up. Snaking down ahead of her, the memshards scanned the roofs of the approaching buildings for sniper guards. With dire efficacy, they excised the DMT infrastructure of the already cocked gunshapes, causing them to lose their broadly humanoid makeup and break up into free-floating jelly mould which would be freely absorbed and reconceptualized by the circling memshards. Gunshapes werent real people anyway, so Aesthar felt no guilt about the recontextualization. Death was one thing to worry about - but when falling into cities on-mission, gunshapes were acceptable losses on the way down. It was what might be coming up next that niggled away at her.

The memshards spun archly off and arced further down like dolphins, in anticipation of the next meal. Speeding the liminality receptors in her brain to maximum efficiency, Aesthar mind-managed her descent in order to make every possible ghoul, goblin or guttersniper around glow bright enough to be hit. Perhaps by intelligent response, the spires of the passing towers pulsed and lit up with dazzling hyperluminescence: fractally reflecting out the lives of the millions of potential citizens in rapidly-cycling lifedreams. The seething iridescence of the greater city.

Aesthar, the crackling voice in her head said. Dont get sucked in by the lifedreams. The memshards cant always catch them before they leech on to your sublimated desires.

Aesthar began firing up the deep-level apparition scanner as McPuck began to rant on about the dangers of looking too long into the lifedreams.

I thought those sublimated desires couldn’t be got to. she replied.

This almost sarcastic aside didnt seem to register with McPuck. He might have been her supervisor, but Aesthar found the missions went by a whole lot more smoothly if she continued to regard him only as her perpetually-exasperated sidekick.

You got that?’ McPuck carried on. ‘If one of them enters you, then itll swallow your chakras one at a time. Then youll be completely soul-adrift. Aesthar.  For fuck's sake! Do you want that to happen to you?'

Pfft, Aesthar exhaled, taking out a current-scuttler mid-air with a deft kick of her heel.

 Just for the record, how many NoLongers are you getting?

Buffering her form against the astral winds and slowing even harder, Aesthar primed the scanner and began rotating it around the glowing rooftops. ‘They’ll be low-level. Wait... Gimmie a chance. You know how antiquated this thing is.

Now she was surrounded by more scuttlers: primitive trilobite-like ghost-creatures with rotating sleep-cannons for eyes. The memshards were spinning around down below, picking more of the critters off - but what looked like the better part of a school had managed to surround Aesthar before the scanner made them visible. The beasts locked into a pincer formation and began attempting to close their approach.

Oh. Im Miss Popular, as usual. Releasing a sequence of glyphs into the air and mentally arranging them into the correct formation in pre-Atlantean runespeak, Aesthar successfully deployed a bug-bomb spell which catapulted all the errant beasts completely out of the city and back into the timeline from whence they had came.

She shut the scanner down and ran a basic digicleansing ritual. It was always best to be protected.

She took off, to plunge faster down - accelerating past porticos and esoteric cathedrals. All the architecture of fractured minds. 

Further serpentine spirits drew her ire on the descent - but Aesthar managed easily to extricate the ones the memshards didnt pick off. She was almost enjoying this mission: it had been a breeze thus far. Her thoughts were clean and pure; uncorrupted. She was working again - functioning. Acquisition of the target was the only priority. If the city and its magical buffoons got in the way, they got sent elsewhere.

Looks like we could be closing on the target in 10. McPuck announced.

Do you want me to prepare for branewash?

That would be ultrafab, but I cant guarantee you support on my end. Skullhack systems are fritzed again. You cant handle it on your own.

I can handle it.

Negative. Pick up your descent, you need to interface with the city.

She took a deep breath. The speeding buildings started to blur around her in a streamer-trail of colours unknown to the normal spectrum.

I thought you warned me against such rash activity. Chakra-sucking and all that?

         Not the lifedreams. I need you to switch tack. We need an operator inside.

Underneath the dry drone of McPucks words, Aesthar heard the memshards cheerfully chattering the machine code of a billion splintered lives at the fringes of her consciousness.

Interface in 5.

McPuck was closing his eyes.

Aesthar didn't know this for sure, but felt it. She felt him: giving up on her. 

This wasn't upsetting. He had done it before. She had always fallen before - and survived. And he had always been surprised. She'd never understood why.

Aesthar closed her eyes and fell headlong. Into the endless, coruscating, circling dream of the city. 

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