First Chapter: https://steemit.com/steemit/@tsudohnimh/red-doll-old-school-cyberpunk
Previous Chapter: https://steemit.com/steemit/@tsudohnimh/red-doll-zlata-and-enemies-in-the-shadows
More has arrived for you all to read, please enjoy and read the full story. Use the previous chapter links to get through the whole sotry or visit my blog page as unfortunately I can't edit in the next chapter links if the next one is not in the 24 hrs that follow. Please leave comments I thrive off some kind of participation of any kind.
The damage to the East Coast, is comparable to the destruction wrought on central Europe. From the blast patterns, its clear the majority of the targets were not military installations; the second wave targeted population centres.”
-Colonel Lionel Mattock, Report 88-988: Damage Assessment, U.S. East Coast, September 1988
The dream was always the same.
He was driving, fast, speeding. The I70 was mostly empty; everyone was going the other way.
I'm not going to make it.
When he had heard about the bombings in Europe, he knew it was only a matter of time.
I have to get to them, have to be with them.
He was just outside of Lisbon; even speeding, he was still a good hour from home.
The missiles could launch at any minute; they could already be in the air.
Please, please let me make it this time.
He knew he should have already been with them; if only he had been a stronger man. If only he had been deserving of their love.
He's driving, fast. The countryside screams by him in a blur.
And then everything's bright, brighter than the sun, brighter than anything. And even though he knows he shouldn’t look, he does.
Time passes, he doesn’t know how long. Its dark; no, its not that. He can't see; he's blind.
Theirs something warm running down his check; he tries to touch it, but his arm doesn’t move. All around him, he can hear moans, shouts, people screaming, people crying.
Something tugs at him. He feels a hand reach into his pocket.
“Help” he croaks, his energy gone.
The hand ignores him; it takes his wallets and is gone.
More time passes. He's been falling in and out of consciousness. He doesn’t know where he is; he was in his car, driving fast, he had to get back to Susan, to Michael.....
The moans are gone. The screaming gone. Theirs no sound, not even birds; everything is silent, save the distant crackle of fire.
He's going to die here. Die alone, forgotten. He deserves much worse.
Footsteps, heavy on the ground. Something is approaching him.
“Sir, we have a live one,” he hears a voice say. Metallic, synthesised; a cyborg.
“Finally,” he hears another voice, muffled. More footsteps. “How much damage?”
“His arm and leg appear to be pinned,” the cyborg answers. “Must have been blinded by the flash, ran of the road.”
“help,” he says, despite himself.
“Holy shit!” the muffled voice exclaims. “Get him out of there now!”
“He may lose the limbs,” the cyborg replies.
“Better than losing all of him!” the muffled voice snaps back. “we've only found five survivors; we need all the victories we can get.”
silence for a moment. “I understand,” says the cyborg. He hears the sound of tearing metal, then an awesome pain runs through his body. The world goes quiet again....
Time passes. They take him west, far west ; he doesn’t know where. He's in some kind of hospital; he hears the moans of pain and agony. Every so often, he hears the noise of a zipper; another body bag for disposal.
He can't remember how long he was there. His eyes were gone, burned from his skull. The world is darkness to him.
The room is quiet now; so many people have gone. So many body bags.
He hears footsteps. He can sense the presence of someone standing over him.
His head snaps up at his name.
“Detective Jack Hogue, of the Baltimore Police department?” The voice is official sounding, commanding.
“Yes,” he replies.
“Finally got one right,” the voice says. 'You have no idea how hard it's been finding information on people since the bombs went up.” the voice chuckles. “Detective Hogue, you are a very hard man to kill.”
He doesn’t respond.
The voice waits a moment. “It appears you lost your eyes to the flash,” the voice continues. 'Didn't your mother ever tell you not to stare at the sun?” the sound of shuffling paper. “Then, you crash your car, which result in you losing you left arm and leg. Then, your left trapped in your car, for three days, without food or water, in one of the most irradiated places on the face of the planet.”
He doesn’t respond.
“And yet...” the voice continues. “You are the last one here. Everyone else in this hospital, every single survivor, is dead. Except you.” the voice chuckles again. “I guess that means they aren't really survivors.”
He responds. “Why are you telling me all this?”
Shuffling papers. “Mr. Hogue, you had family yes? A wife and son? I can only hope they weren't in Baltimore when the bombs dropped.”
He doesn’t respond.
“I see. I'm sorry for your loss, Mr. Hogue. But what if I could offer you, a chance to avenge them?”
Avenge them? “What do you mean?”
“Your a survivor, Mr. Hogue, and you just made it through one of the greatest culls in the history of mankind.” He feels the presence grow closer. “But the wars not over; not by a long shot. We may be battered but we aren't down; unfortunately, neither are the reds. We need people like you, Mr. Hogue. Survivors, Fighters; everything you know may be gone, Mr. Hogue, but that doesn’t mean we can't fight for their memories.”
Their still fighting, he thinks. They burned the world but their still fighting.
But maybe this is my chance.
Maybe I can redeem myself.
Or at least, die.
“How,” he asks. “How can I fight?”
“We can rebuild you,” the voice says. “We have the technology.”
He's in Turkey; the last line between the Reds and what’s left of the world. They want what lies beyond, the relatively untouched lands of Africa. But for the free world, the First Reconstructed Infantry Division would hold them here.
The first battles were simple; against the forth line conscripts the reds had sent ahead, he was almost invincible. But the Russians had their own cyborgs: nightmarish creatures, a marching wave of red golems, emotionless, expressionless, deadly.
Battle after battle, skirmish after skirmish, he fought. And with each battle, more of his brothers and sisters fell. And yet, he would not die.
It is the final battle.
On the slopes of Mount Ararat, an advance force of the RID has smashed through the Russian lines. He remembers the battle well; it was the Russians last line. If they broke through, it was a straight shot at the Russians headquarters in Armenia.
But something is different. From the hordes of red golems, one stands out. Shell bursts and bullets fall all round her, but nothing seems to touch her.
She's walking toward him; he raises his rifle, but cannot fire. Time seems to slow down.
She stands before him, a living statue, a red doll. She reaches out and touches his face.
“Jack,” she says. “Its all right to hate me.”
Hogue stared out the window at the sea of grey buildings that was Novvy Dom. Compared to the chaos that was NewPee, the soviet camp was almost surreal in its order; everything seemed so peaceful.
Deep down, he wondered how much of that was fear, and how much was it desperation to appear non threatening to the Australians; which in a way, was still fear.
I wonder how Zlata feels about this place? The thought of her made him reach for the pills he had in his pocket; the dream he'd awoken from this morning had him on edge, and he'd been dipping into the supply he'd built up.
Zlata. The red doll. What was it about her that made him so..... well, he didn't really know how he felt. Was it just that she was another veteran, just like him? Was it that she had lost her body, like he had lost much of his?
Was it that she was another chance at redemption?
He shook his head. Ever since the attack at the hospital he'd been having those odd thoughts. It might be Zlata; then again, it might be....
He felt the weight of the broken knife in his pocket.
Jesus, I’m a wreck.
From his rear cameras, he saw someone walking toward him: A Soviet Militia captain. The man came to a stop just a few feet behind him.
“I would clear my throat,” he said in accented English, “But my guess is that you already saw me coming.”
Hogue turned to face the man. “One of the benefits of literally having eyes in the back of your head.”
The man chuckled. “Indeed. Although I wonder, is it disorientating being able to see all around you all the time?”
“You get used to it,” Hogue answered. 'You just have to remember which way is forward, and the rest falls in place.”
The man nodded his head. “Yes yes. My apologies, allow me to introduce myself: Captain Azarov, of the 67th Refugee Militia Battalion.” he held out his hand.
Hogue took it. “Detective Hogue, Department of abnormal crimes.” although something told Hogue Azarov already knew that.
Azarov nodded. “From your modifications, I figure you for a veteran. Turkey?”
If hogue still had natural eyes, he would have narrowed them at that moment. “Yes. You?”
Azarov shook his head. “I was in siberia when the bombs fell; I spent my time trying to keep the survivors from killing each other.” He stood at the window. “Have you been to Novvy Dom before?”
“What do you think of it?”
Ok, this guys probing. “Its....neat?” Hogue replied, grasping for an answer. “I have great deal of respect and sympathy for the people who live here; Like my own countrymen, they were dealt a dud hand.”
“Yes, they were,” Azarov replied. “It is so often in history that those lower on the social scale suffer the most for the actions of those higher up.” He coughed. “Then again, perhaps it was fitting that this time, many of those responsible died in the first strike.”
“That's a matter of opinion,” Said Hogue. He wondered where this was going. Does he want to recruit me?
Azarov was silent for a moment, then reached into his pocket. “these crimes are most unfortunate,” he said, pulling out an envelope. “Once again, those at the bottom of society, are set to suffer.” he offered the envelope to Hogue. “Unless we stop him.”
Hogue took the envelope. “What's this?” he asked, only to find Azarov already walking away.
Hogue looked over the envelope. Damn spooks; they just couldn't talk to people normally, could they.
He's back in the hospital. The room is alight, the flames casting flickering shadows across the walls.
Before him stands himself. In his hand is a knife. A very special knife.
His doppelganger steps forward, swiping at him with the very same knife. Hogue responds, parrying with his own knife.
“Traitor,” the doppelganger growls.
He delivers a kick to Hogues midsection; even with his armour, the impact winds him, sending him to the ground. The doppelganger advances; Hogue sweeps his legs, rolling up and swiping down with his blade.
The doppelganger parries and responds, leaping to his feet.
“You betrayed them both.”
Hogue lets out a left hook, catching the doppelganger in the cheek, before thrusting forward with the knife. The doppelganger dodges, barely; the sharpened ceramic edge slices through cloth and tissue like butter.
The doppelganger doesn’t notice; instead he counter attacks, a flurry of swipes Hogue only barely manges to deflect.
“And for what?”
The doppelganger is close now, his face leering at him. Hogue responds by head-butting him, just below the ring.
His own ring catches the doppelganger in the nose; the sound of breaking bone and snapping cartilage. The doppelganger staggers back.
“Why do you think you deserve to live?”
He rushes forward, haphazard; the doppelganger gets a hit in. But he goes for the wrong arm; the knife cuts into his cybernetic limb with ease, but extraction is more difficult.
He reacts, pulling his arm in, pulling the blade back with it, pulling the doppelganger closer. The doppelganger comes forward, still struggling with the knife.
“You should have died with them.”
His blade enters the doppelganger chest, just below the ribs. The blade, ceramic edged, sharper than anything, punches straight though the flesh; it slips between the gaps of the sub-dermal armour. It finds its mark.
The doppelganger stops.
The doppelganger falls away, lifeless. Hogue looks down at him, but he's no longer a doppelganger. He's just another survivor, another member of the SD, someone who made it through the horrors of '87, made it through turkey, only to have to come up against him.
His heart has stopped, and somewhere in his body, a mechanism hooked to that beat registers his demise. With a bright flash, internal thermite charges burst into life.
And reduce him to ash.
“So what was in the envelope?”
The question brings Hogue back to reality. He's sitting in the passenger seat for once, Eun insiting on having a drive.
He looked over the envelope again. “Wire transfers, account details,uh...” he flipped through a few pages. “Some immigration requests, American; for a cyborg called;” he read the name again, wondering if it was a mistake; “Motey Smith”
“Motey Smith?” Wyatt asked. “What kind of name is that?”
“And more importantly,” Eun injected, “Why is the KGB giving us information about him?”
Hogue shook his head. “We don't know for certain the guy was KGB,” he said. “Although theirs a good chance he was.”
“What about the wire transfers?”
Hogue flipped back. “Their all from Hong Kong based banks,Money shifted back and forth, nothing big, only about ten grand,” he scratched under the ring. “God knows what their about.” He looked over at Eun. “Did you come up with anything more on our new victim.”
Eun shook her head. “Some of the staff present at the time have been cycled to other camps. The soviets promised they'd be interviewed, but that's useless to me.” Eun seemed to think for a moment. “Why would they give us his migration record?”
“Well, its not his migration record, its a migration request,” Hogue replied. 'Its a U.S. Government document. They probably lifted it from NewPee.”
“But why give it to us? Surely we have documents pertaining to this guy on our end?”
“Maybe this is their way to tell us to look into him?”
Eun shook her head. "Then why not just say it up front?”
Hogue shrugged. “Their spooks, Eun; every spook I ever met was a little antisocial, specially Russian ones. Their all so wrapped up in that cloak and dagger bullshit they can't do things normally.” He looked down at the papers again. “Whomever this Motey Smith guy is, he's obviously caught their attention, so maybe he should have ours.”
Was she always walking in his dreams? Or was that just some sort of retroactive memory?
Either way, she was there now. She always said the same thing.
“Its alright to hate me.”
But he didn't hate her. He had no reason to hate her. She was just a soldier, just like him. A pawn in the grand game of those higher up, someone who lost just as much as him. Maybe even more.
So why was it alright to hate her?
The shakes. Their coming back. He'd have to get more pills.
Hogue smiled. "Yeah I know, stupid name. But its one that's come up. Can you search the database?”
The Duty officer shrugged. “Sure. With a name like that, he'll probably stick out.” The officer started tapping something into the computer.
Eun tapped her feet. Do you think anything will come out of this?”
Hogue nodded. “If their one thing I know about the KGB, it's that they don't tell anyone anything unless it gives them an advantage.” he smiled. “it's probably what messed everything up in the end.”
“What, the KGB?”
“No,” he replied solemnly. “The world.”
Eun considered that for a moment. “Ok, but if they're only telling us this to give them an advantage, doesn’t that mean their trying to use us?”
Hogue shrugged. “Yeah, probably.” he tapped his fingers on the counter. “But what’s beneficial to them is not necessarily bad for us. And besides, they might have left themselves open with this; we could get a handle on their interests in the case.”
Their was a beeping noise behind them; the duty officer tapped at his keyboard. 'thats was quick,” he said. “Hmmm, third level priority, public nuisance. Interesting...”
“Public nuisance?” Hogue asked.
“Yeah. Say's here Mr. Smith is wanted on several charges of speeding, dangerous driving, at least one grievous bodily harm with a vehicle. ”
Eun whistled. “Guys a bad driver.”
“We'll, no ma'am,” the officer replied. “Says here the guys a bad vehicle.”
Eun raised an eyebrow. “Pardon.”
“Yeah.” he tapped at the computer. “According to his migration records, guys a rebuild, and get this, apparently his body can transform into a, and I quote, “two wheeled road travelling vehicle.”
Hogue scoffed. “Guy can turn into a motor bike.” he shook his head. “Sounds like he's been doing this for a while. Why have I never heard of this? Something this novel would be talk of the town.”
“well, it says here sir, that all his offences were committed in Sydney and Brisbane.”
Hogue looked and Eun; she nodded back to him; She was thinking the same thing.
“Do the records say when he arrived in country?” she asked.
The officer nodded. “Says here, March 26, 1992.”
Hogue frowned. “Do we have an imagie of the guy?”
“Sure; hang on i'll print it out.” The printer nearby buzzed quickly, the officer pulling a sheet of paper from it and handing it to Hogue.
Hogue tooka a look at the image. “Wyatt!”
Wyatt wandered in from the hall. “Yeah? What's up?”
Hogue held up the sheet of paper. “Look familiar?”
The elevator couldn't go any slower. It seemed to crawl, while the appear in his hands seemed to burn.
Your eager to work on this, aren’t you?
The floor number slowly ticked upwards.
Your so desperate to impress her, aren't you?
Hogue looked down at his watch, trying to will time to go faster.
In the end, your just looking for someone to fill the gap.
He willed the little voice in his head to shut up.
In the end, you just want to replace them. Just like you did back then.
The door pinged, and Hogue almost sprinted out.
Straight into her.
Zlata stood before him, a red doll in a suit. Her blank featureless eyes looked at him with curiosity.
“Jack!” she said happily. “:It's good to see your ok!” She cocked her head slightly, a sudden, mechanical motion. “What's that?”
Hogue held up the sheet of paper. On it, was the photo of Motey Smith: an eight foot tall cyborg with a body of steel in the shape of muscle. And a head that was featureless, save for four glowing eyes.
“This,” Hogue responded. “Is our suspect.”