Interlude: Archangel, part 2

Raine made her way through the dim streets of the ground plate. A hot, stinking breeze oozed its way past her, the discarded refuse of three cities skittering around her ankles like insects. She wrinkled her nose in disgust. Suspicious eyes glinted through shuttered windows.

Raine could hear one of the markets from here- that roiling cacophony of people. Raine had avoided the markets, which flourished around the rare beams of sunlight that pierced through the cities above. The markets were where people from the Mezzanine layer came to spend their cash buying cheap toys, desperate art, and handmade furniture. They bustled, full of heat and noise and thieves both rich and poor. The crowds were oppressive, claustrophobic.

Raine turned her head at an echo behind her. A pair of men had appeared, armed with illegal weapons.

“I’m looking for Rokuro,” she called out to them. They didn’t reply, but continued advancing. She turned to face them now.

She knew she looked out of place, but she hadn’t realized quite how much. These people were clearly unmodded, at least visibly. They were… hideous, by the standards of the upper plates. A too-square jaw partially hidden by patchy stubble, and a flat nose protruding from a scarred face in one man marked him as a baseliner, and though the other was less extreme, possibly even handsome by some standards, his wide-set eyes had gone out of fashion years ago. Probably, they were his original eyes.

“Take me to Rokuro,” she directed, and again they ignored her.

One of the men shouldered a heavy-looking black weapon. Square and blocky, it was nothing like the sleek weapons carried by the police in the upper plates, but Raine had no doubt it packed as much punch.

“Now, now, boys, we have protocol,” came a tinny voice, seemingly from the air. “Someone asks for Rokuro, we ask the boss if it’s okay. We don’t want to go scaring away potential business.”

“She’s obviously one of them,” said the man with the wide-set eyes.

“My name is Raine Hope,” said Raine. “I’m an agent from the Common Man Coalition. HQ just got massacred, and I need help,” she let some of her desperation slip into her voice. “Please, I need to see Rokuro.”

There was a pause and some static before a new voice voice spoke.

“Raine! I’d wondered when you would come to cash in that favor.”

<<Target identified>>

Raine jerked back into consciousness and tried to sit up. Failing to do so, she groaned. Her eyes flicked around frantically, confused. She was strapped down to a slab with thick metal bands, bent around the ends. The air was dry and cool, a sharp contrast to the streets.

“Are you going to try to kill me again?” came a voice she recognized from out of her field of view. Deep, and accented.

<<Possible target>>

<<Checking database>>


“No,” said Raine, her tongue thick and awkward. “Actually, probably, yes,” she confessed.

“That’s a pity. I’d really hoped we could get along better.” She recognized the voice now. It was the voice that had spoken just before she woke up here.

<<No response>>

<<Running diagnostic>>


“I need help,” said Raine.

“You just tried to kill my men, lady.”

<<Diagnostic returns positive>>

<<Memory inconsistency found>>

<<Current location: unknown>>

<<Checking location>>


“I’ve been compromised,” Raine said.

“No shit. Tell me, what are the messages you keep sending out?” The voice had circled around her now, and she could hear fans whirring quietly. Servers?

“I don’t know. They put something in my C-Stack. I can’t control it.”

<<No response>>

<<Running diagnostic>>


“And what do you want from me?” asked the voice.

“I want you to disable it,” said Raine.

“Impossible,” Said the voice with finality. “Isolating a virus like that? It would destroy your mind.”

“No,” insisted Raine. “I want you to disable the entire cortical stack.”

<<Diagnostic returns positive>>

<<Memory inconsistency found>>

<<Current location: unknown>>

<<Estimated duration of incapacitation: 15-30 minutes>>

<<Estimating distance traveled from last known location>>


There was a sharp intake of breath. “Why would I want to do that? You would die anyway.”

“I’ll just have to be careful then. Call it a favor. You still owe me.”

Raine laid tensely, waiting for a response, and then,

<<Approximate location:- tion:- tion:- tion:—->>

<<Critical error. Shutting down>>

Raine sighed in relief. Rokuro rose into her vision, his thick beard quivering with a smile.

“Any homicidal urges? No? Good! That’s a start.” He turned serious. “Now, what was it you said about CMC HQ?”

“I killed everyone there. Kokoro, Aiko, Hibiki… Vaun…” She paused. “Almost the entire leadership.”

Rokuro was stunned. “Sumiko?” he asked, his voice tight.

“She wasn’t there. Neither was Brahms.” Raine heard a creak as Rokuro sat down heavily in a chair nearby. “I had to find the three of you. I came to you first because I knew you would have the greatest chance of stopping me.”

Rokuro choked out a laugh. “Thank you, I suppose.” His voice turned serious. “This will set us back severely. We need to find their backups and get them restored before Metatron finds them.”

“It might be too late,” said Raine, real emotion coloring her voice.

“Don’t say that. Don’t ever say that,” Rokuro came back into her view, a sympathetic expression on his face. “They may not have remote backups or automated restoration, but my system is secure. We just need to find where they put the backups.”

“Rokuro, you can’t trust me,” Raine insisted. “You’ll have to do this yourself.”

Rokuro paused. “I understand,” he accepted, with resignation. “This I can do, me and my men. What will you do?”

“I’m going to kill Metatron.”

“Best of luck to you, then. I will do for you what I can, but I can’t promise I’ll protect you.” Rokuro started to bend the metal strips off of Raine with gauntleted fists, servos whining. “Much as I wish I could.”

“What help you’ve given me already is all I need. You have my thanks.”

Raine sat up and rolled her shoulders. She had no stiffness or popping joints, thanks to her optimized skeletal structure, but she still sighed with relief. She glanced around at Rokuro’s cavernous inner sanctum. Banks of old-fashioned server racks hummed away around them, drenched in coolants stolen from one of Metatron’s chemical plants.

“Rokuro, you have to bring them back.”

Rokuro himself was massive. Not fat, but rather was bulky and broad-shouldered. He loomed over Raine, even standing. His massive, alabaster-white hands clinked as he rested them on the table. They were stolen from one of the Cherubim that had guarded the chemical plant.

“I will.”

They parted ways with a regretful farewell and Raine returned to the surface. She looked back at the hatch she’d climbed through into a vintage electronics repair shop and raised an eyebrow in surprise. The underground bunker was invisible even to her radar.

She stood and looked up, scanning through the roofs above her with her monochrome T-Ray sight. Up, high above, filtering through the streets above, she could see the clouds. She looked towards the center of the city, to the towering obelisk that pierced all three plates. The administration tower. She could feel the eyes of the Ophanim on her as she readied herself, running self-diagnostics and powering up implants. She ducked low into a sprinter’s stance.

Let the race begin.

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8 Responses to Interlude: Archangel, part 2

  1. Really sorry this one was late, (though I do say the time is random, it’s really determined by real life.) In this case, it was due to an unexpected lack of hotel WiFi.

    Anyway, this is part 2 out of 3 of Archangel, which I’ll tie into the main story later (I’ll leave you guessing as to how.) I was going to put up Trials and Tribulations, but I’ve bumped that down to the end of the interlude for plot-related reasons. Next up, I have a treat for you, fair readers!

  2. sasamel says:

    THIS IS SOOO AWESOME. Really, you could have easily made an entire web serial out of this story only, the whole concept reeks of Cyberpunk so much I can help but love it! (Reek? Is it the right word? Not a native english speaker so I have some doubts with that expression, though Im sure I have seen that word used in a similar way before). I can only say I CANT WAIT FOR ARCHANGEL PART 3.

  3. mbwakalione says:

    At first i was sad cause, no shadow, but then i was omg more cyberpunk/angel thingy , #nods wisely#, u are so lern-ed to space clifhangers with interludes , makes me squiem for moare.

  4. farmerbob1 says:

    I enjoyed this, thank you 🙂 Brings back Shadowrun nostalgia from the early 1990’s!

    gauntlented fists – got an extra letter in there

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