23 October 2006

Macrobia 4

More Macrobia stuff added here. You can ignore everything in brackets. Comments welcome. I should note that these Macrobia posts should be read in the order starting from 1 going to 4.

Again, I'm copying and pasting from Word, so the formatting won't be the same.

Duncan MacKenzie and Michael Perez saw no more Rhino-riders the rest of the day. For two hours they rode the dusty road in silence. Michael, like most people in Macrobia, had never been outside the city’s gates. There was never a need to, and besides, it was nothing but a vast trackless wasteland decimated from the War of All Nations.
Since the Rhino encounter, the land was mostly flat. Thousands upon thousands of craters pock-marked the land, and great crevices as if giants had dragged their fingers through the earth, decorated the landscape. On top of it all, boulders lay strewn, with no definite shape or form. Huge and gnarled, as if blasted from the bowels of the planet.
MacKenzie abruptly veered off the road and parked in the shadow of an enormous slab of rock.
“Now you’ll see something worth seeing,” he said. There was a sound like a small explosion or gas seeping from a pipe and Michael saw a crack appear in the desert floor-perfectly straight. The crack widened until it was the width of a door. A ramp led into the ground and he saw reflective tags on either side. Duncan wheeled the bike down the ramp until his form became hazy.
“Are you coming?” Mac asked.
“Is it safe?”
“It’s saf-er.”
Michael, who still didn’t completely trust this stranger, hesitated.
“I think we’ll be safe here. There’s nobody else around here for miles. No sign of sweep patrols.”
“Have you forgotten satellites. . . and the drones?”
“We’re in the desert. They work by detecting heat.”
“And when the sun goes down. . .”
“They’ll still work by heat.”
“Right. But the desert loses a lot of heat at night. Animals don’t. We would be sitting ducks out here.”
A thumping sound appeared in the distance. Helicopter? Rhino? This wasn’t a helicopter and it didn’t sound like a Rhino.
“Quick! Michael. A Plower’s coming.”
“Plower? Like a Rhino-car?”
“More like a three-story Rhino with snowblades. Come on!”
The thumping intensified. Michael saw a large swirling pillar of dust, like a small tornado, approaching. Through the haze, he could make out bits and pieces of yellow and tan-coloured metal. The thing was enormous and dwarfed the Rhino. He turned, and with a great deal of hesitancy, followed Mac into the hole in the desert. Mac pulled a lever by the opening. There was a creaking and groaning of old chains as the door slowly creaked shut. It was pitch black. Mac flicked on the BMW’s headlight. “Welcome to the Underground,” he said. The Plower could just be heard.
* * *
Julia Tanya Fairchild was tired. She had planned on a quiet lunch with a fellow co-worker yesterday when the PM’s call sounded. She was waiting on Michael at the Blue Moose CafĂ©. . .
Julia was tall, athletic, blue-eyed, and sported shoulder length wavy red hair. She worked as a chemist in the QA/QC department at Z-Tec. Although she spent 8 years in college studying genetics, she never actually did any laboratory work. Originally, she did, but after her manager discovered she was the best chemist in the lab, they made her a supervisor and hadn’t pressed so much as a button on any lab equipment since. That was three years ago. Most of her time was spent in her office reviewing test results of the various new products Z-Tec analysed.
Z-Tec spent millions of dollars on field research looking for novel drugs. One chemical, called resveratrol, seemed to suppress cancer and increase telomerase production. Nobody knew exactly how it worked, but in all Z-Tec’s experiments, it increased life-span remarkably.
[make more interesting and add field exped/Malaysia/llama/Tibet and old men stuff here]
Julia Fairchild and Michael Perez were close friends. On Tuesday, as she walked into her office, she was surprised to see an official of the NSA waiting for her.
“Dr. Fairchild?” the man stood and stretched his hand towards her. “Lt. Jones from the NSA. How do you do?”
”Fine, thank you.” She didn’t offer to shake his hand. “Can I help you?”
“I’m looking for one of your co-workers. Perez. A Michael Perez. We are having some difficulty locating him and thought you might shed some light on his location.”
“Yes. Mr. Perez works here. He’s not in my department, but I know him. Is he in any trouble?”
“Ohh, no. Nothing of the sort,” he said. “It’s just that yesterday he didn’t come to the castle when the call went out. Perhaps he is ill?”
“Not that I know of,” Julia replied. She thought the little man from the NSA a little square and just a little cute. “Did you check his apartment?”
“He’s not there and wasn’t seen last night returning. Does Mr. Perez have a girlfriend?”
“Not to my immediate knowledge. I’m sure he’d tell me if he did.”
“You are sure?”
“Quite sure.” Julia felt it quite silly that her heart skipped a beat at this last question.
“Mr. Perez and you are quite close, are you not?”
“We’re a bit more than casual acquaintances. Nothing more, nothing less.”
“Is he supposed to be in today?”
“Should be. You’re asking the wrong person.” And a lot of them, she thought to herself. “Why don’t you just stick around and wait for him yourself,” she smiled.
The little man from the NSA stared at her blankly.
“Why does the NSA want to see Mr. Perez?”
“Mr. Perez is very important right now. The Velkladdeur himself desires to see him, and I have reasons of my own.”
“Ohh, in that case. . .”
* * *
Richard Jones inserted the mini-tele-com device into his ear canal. Instantly, the sounds of Macrobia ceased. He wouldn’t hear a thing (unless Candy called) until he took them out.
With a population of 45 million (exactly 45,347,653 according to that morning’s Macro-news-comcast ), Macrobia was one of the largest cities on the planet-and very loud. Most people wore the mini-tele-com devices, or comtels, for this very reason. They blocked all sound except incoming tele-calls and voice messages.
He took the 0920 train back to the NSA’s headquarters and arrived exactly twenty minutes later. He knew his chances of Michael Perez ever returning to Z-Tec were slim at best. Fortunately, the hidden microphone he stuck under Julia’s desk might reveal otherwise.

[how does he know MP if he doesn’t have chip???]
‘Where would I go if I were this guy?’ he asked himself. ‘Into the desert. Where else?’ The desert was where all the unchippers lived. How they managed to survive out there in the wild, craggy, rocks oozing radiation, was beyond his imagination. Somehow they survived. Occasionally, he saw an unchipper, an outsider-one of ‘those people.’ They always had weather-beaten skin like tanned leather. Not the smooth features of a city-dweller.
[all Macrobites are 1984 dumb]
Jones figured they got food by smuggling it out of the city since no drone ever detected any significant vegetation in the Scarred Lands. True, the drones wee very unstable due to radioactivity in the SL, and were notorious for breaking down. But it seemed miraculous how people survived out there.
At 9:42, Jones was back in his office. He made plans to scour the desert himself. By 10:00 AM, he reserved a helicopter and planned to leave the next day before dawn.
* * *

[insert later]
‘They’re searching. Looking. They know I’m here. They can’t find me. I’m hidden.’
Michael clawed at the metal band around his ankle. It would not come off, not without the security code-which he didn’t have. Only the NSA knew the code.
The clouds, unnaturally close in the night sky, looked like great puffy goblins streaking across the full moon. Earlier, a thunderstorm washed the land, giving the forest a rich, earthy smell. Up the hill and through the trees, he scrambled scurrying from tree to tree. Rarely looking up, but sensing his presence.
‘Velkladdeur’s near,’ he thought. And Velkladdeur knew this. Above him. In the clouds. He was coming. One cloud in particular floated slower than the others. One end pointy, the other a vague amorphous blob of white and grey. Sky-Hoverer. Velkladdeur is in the Sky-Hoverer. This Michael knew beyond all doubt. The dirigible was sending low frequency signals in all directions, like probing tentacles, lurking in the night sky. Silent. Creeping. Like some phantom creature of the deep seas.
[mention how the voice reverberates in his belly]
The Sky-Hoverer wafted soundlessly nearer. Mac promised him that even with the ankle bracelet, Velkladdeur could not find him. He was elusive on the details, but kept insisting that he would be ‘hidden.’
“Hidden in what?” he asked. He had to trust his red-headed friend.
The Sky-Hoverer was now so close its engines could be heard. A thrumming sound meant to resemble a flock of birds. A search light turned on. It traced a large circle around Michael.
Michael dropped to the ground and covered himself with leaves. Despite what Mac told him about the bracelet, he knew Velkladdeur had a link to it.
‘Curse that traitor Julia! Why did I allow her to give me that bracelet as a parting gift? I should have known better. Now I’m trapped!’
The light beam described an ever decreasing circle and Michael was in the middle.
“We know you’re here!” boomed a mechanical voice from above. “Show yourself!”
Michael ignored the command and remained motionless. If Mac said he was hidden, he was hidden. Something told him to be as quiet as possible though every fiber of his being shouted ‘run.’
For one full second, the beam lit up Michael. He didn’t blink. Couldn’t have because his eyes were shut. The light moved on.
‘How could the Sky-Hoverer not detect the bracelet? It was common knowledge that once the aircraft sensors passed over, they automatically triggered the bracelets and gave away ones coordinates. Apparently, this didn’t happen for the voice said, “Surrender! Yield to us!” in the same overpowering bass.
‘Perhaps,’ he grinned, ‘I just need an update.’
The Sky-Hoverer and Velkladdeur drifted North.
* * *
“Okay. Let me get this straight,” said Michael. “You are telling me that simply being underground and spending time with the Undergrounders, I acquire some magical ‘essence’ that shields me from the Velk, satellites, Sky-Hoverers, hunter probes, Prowlers, etc, etc, etc. . .and renders any Macrobian machine useless when one using it to find me has evil intentions?”
“That’s not how I would describe it,” said Mac, “but for the time-yes, that’s essentially what happens.”
Michael was back in the Underground at a de-radiation room. Earlier, he had found a safe house, (or safe cave in this instance), and spent the last half-hour listening, bewildered, at Mac’s explanation.
“And what precisely is this ‘essence’ composed of? Six years of college, and I’ve never heard of such a thing.”
“I’m not surprised. You’re educators, by their very worldview, cannot believe in such phenomenon. Underworlders have the ability to bond to nature in a way Macrobites do not. It’s more natural (an easier). [explain much better] Everything about Macrobia is artificial. It, this artificiality, doesn’t allow them to change their nature to conform with matter like us. It’s rather like a surgeon implanting a new organ into a patient. The new organ may work, but requires prodigious quantities of drugs to do so, lest the body reject it. Macrobia is a foreign particle. An invader. And as such, their machines cannot truly detect us-unless we so desire, or use their system-which we reject.
[explain. . . ]
* * *


jen staab said...

Hey puddleglum: a couple of comments on Macrobia... (you asked for it!) intruiging idea, you at least have me wanting to read more. you should leave out some of the description and back story. maybe have the charaters do that for you... you know the old writing adage..."show don't tell" i think it just messes with your flow... the action is going, things are happening and then all of a sudden you are telling me things about a person that i dont want to know right now. true, i need to know this eventually, but what i really want to know is the main character going to get caught or not... anyway. that's my 2 cents.

Jason said...

Thanks for the comment!

Hmm, I think I knew this already. I'll work on it some more.