For decades the science fiction market spurned ideas like supplemental kidney function, changing skin color, cancer removal, cellular level regeneration; all from microscopic robots. Working on the cellular level, nanotechnology would be the technological cutting edge that would usher in the next great human renaissance. But the nano-replicator outbreak of ’03 had left quite an impact on the world and King City. Entire blocks of homes and businesses were reduced to iridescent goo blobs. Giant lava lamp blobs seemed to hover above the ground of their own accord. The problem was that the controls and safety measures at that time were not ready for the technology. The closest plan to deal with the technology was equivalent to high level contagious diseases. Burn the city with nukes. From a corporate point of view, there wasn’t any money in stopping nanotechnology research.
Some of the brightest and darkest of King City had combined their talents to create honey pots for the nanobots. Gathering places that provided safety in numbers, their own movements would power the semi-solid containers. Large jelly fish shaped bubbles that would shimmer iridescent when they reached a large enough mass, ready for harvest. The dispersal units had been placed into the hands of all who could volunteer. If you could pickup a full watergun, you could join in the fight. Community spirit picked up, as normal people could actually fight back against a menace that could potentially destroy the entire planet. Once the 30 foot long iridescent blobs were contained, it was a quick local broadcast to tell them to shut down, disperse into water molecules. Occasionally the odd blob of ‘macrobots’ would show up in town, from some forgotten corner of the city. These were dispersed with no efforts or harm done.
Tom remembered the words macrobot paramecium come to mind when he saw the form. But then came a quick realization. Without the constant supervision of the heros and villains of King City, something happened. Evolution.
The straight as laser strands came around the corner, and screamed. Tom felt the multi-tonal howl reach into the deep recesses of his brain, activating paralysis and nausea. This was a primal fear, one programmed over several hundreds of years into human DNA. All of his senses told him predator, told him to either fight or run. This was beyond any adrenaline kick. The dark cloud above shivered and twitched.
He blinked when he saw one of the smaller mutants fly through the air into pitch black tentacle. In a blink, the body collapsed in a scream, blood shot out into the air, only to be caught in precise dark nanotech spikes splintering into crystalline trees.
Tom reached into his pocket, and put his earbuds in. The howling of the mutants stopped, the gunfire and snipers stopped. And the multi-tonal howl of the nanobot-thread storm stopped. Looking over his shoulder, he could see the mutants fighting amongst themselves, smaller ones were beaten and were being thrown at the large dark form. The bodies slicing open, the spikes jumping out grabbing every drop of blood.
Blood. Red. Iron.
Tom looked to his sword and sighed. The dark threaded storm had not sensed him, yet. He watched the pebbled cement crumble and fall to dust as the strands played over it. The cloud was getting larger, and then he noticed something impacting it from above. Small waves along the dark form. Shuddering snaps along its perimeter with each impact. He edged his way up a stairwell finding higher ground.
Humid air and swamp rot invaded his nose. Looking around there was no signs of water damage. The air shifted and instinctively he ducked, swinging upwards.
The forearm severed neatly at the elbow, dropped next to Tom’s feet. He studied it for a moment, watching dark tendrils come from the stump. The glove was disturbingly familiar, the ropes with nautical knots. He slowly moved off to the higher landing, keeping his senses keen and alert. Looking to the top of the stairs, he watched for movement.
There was something large moving around further down the hall. The smell again. Raising the sword, he approached and looked around the corner. In a moment, he realized where all the heros and villains had gone. Or who got them.
-To be continued-
Tales of King City : The Run by Pearce Kilgour is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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But you should really ask him first… send someone to rub his neck, feed him a gin and tonic, that would be the best… in fact he thinks the world would be a better place if everyone got neckrubs.