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I got a new website all set up.  Http://JayceRan.com
I am doing a reboot of my Jayce Ran accounts.  In 2019 I plan on being far more active as I enjoy this.  So... yeah.  More of whatever.  I am going to redo my gallery and hide all the junk.  So more streamline and good looking stuff.  Enjoy.  Bla bla bla.

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JayceRan
Jayce Ran
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Hello everyone, I am Jayce Ran. I view myself as an entertainer of sorts working through the medium of fiction. Through my work, I hope to not only create compelling stories but a discussion on society in general. No, I am not an activist of any kind but rather a philosopher of nothing in particular.

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Exposed brick line the pealing walls of the dingy apartment.  Three men and a girl spread a pair of floor layouts atop a ratty table. “I am telling you, it’s the perfect time to strike.  There is already an anti-police demonstration going on.  It will be a turkey shoot.”

“I don’t like it.” a younger man says.  “I don’t want some Mr. Johnson knocking on my door some years from now with a score to settle for his corporate masters.” 

“You can just move on like snakes on ice.  Get out of the country, disappear, have a better life.  I bet we won’t even need to dust anyone.” The other three show in the large lenses of his green mechanical eyes.  “You in?”  They nod to each other and shake hands.  “Good.”

~

“I need a great story now.” Apricot moans. The cool black wood bench is chilly against her skirt. “I will get in trouble if I don’t turn in a paper tomorrow.” A soggy double cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and a fried egg, rests between her fingers. “The Bureau of education sent me a letter certified that if my grades did not improve, they will move me to the labor field and I don’t want to work in a factory the rest of my life.” she laments.

Bonni sits next to Apricot cross-legged, she swings her heel off her foot.  The scent of espresso from her cafe uniform battles against the surrounding salty smell of fried foods.  She draws a nugget from a small cardboard pouch then dips the tip into a pair of teriyaki and mayonnaise cartons.

“Why not do one on today’s incident?” says a sharp faced black-haired man who sits across from Apricot.  In his hands is a half-eaten burger. “I got a couple photos of the crime scene, they would be great for your piece.”

A younger girls sits next to him plucking at a bowl of salad.  “She needs a good article Sato.” she remarks.  Apricot had met Sato Takoma through school.  He is a few years her senior but the two are in several classes together.  His little sister, Machi, a first-year engineering student, accompanies him.

Apricot glances towards Bonni who’s grin spread so deep across her face it looks as though it might just slip off. “So, remember that secret I wanted to tell you, like those police were at that robbery this morning, as I was saying they looked worried about something.”

Apricot watches as Machi rolls her ice-green eyes shielded behind heavy black-framed glasses. “I think there is a clear answer for that one,” She takes a bite of her salad bowl. As she chews her bite Apricot and Bonni both wait for her answer. She swings her head back allowing her black twin tails to sway, swallows and proceeds “Most likely the fact she murdered several people.”

Bonni picks up another nugget and gestures towards Machi. “Don’t you think it’s odd that, so many people died. Eerie Truths Monthly reports there has been monster sightings all over the place.  One person could not cause that much death.  Perhaps she was not human at all.  I bet,”

“Monsters!" Machi bursts out cutting Bonni off, “Ha, she was a crazy person jumped up on some pills.” Machi barks back chortling at the thought.

“I find it odd too Bonni but I don’t think I can write an article on it.”  Apricot cuts in.

“But why are they appearing all over the place now? I remember not too long ago when everyone said witches were just fairy tales. Something is going on! Don’t you agree with me, Sato?” Bonni leans over the table stroking Sato’s lap.  A heavy red blush paints his face as he stares into Bonni’s doe eyes.

“He is a photographer, not a reporter.” Machi butts in giving a quick kick on Bonni’s leg forcing her backward into her seat. “Witches are not real either. They are just ill people playing hocus-pokus.”

“I guess this sounds like tabloid stuff but who knows what is creeping in the shadows right. I mean for all we know monsters are under the city.” Sato strokes the back of his head with a stupid grin. Apricot giggles at Machi’s stabbing glare before she issues a slight jab into Sato’s ribs. “Ack!” he yelps “But Machi is right, I am a photojournalist. If I see something and snap it you bet it would be front page news though.” He adds rubbing the jolt of Machi’s playful blow.

“Tabloid, no this is cutting-edge news.” Bonni barks before turning her gazes on Apricot. “This is the breaking journalism that makes people famous.  Imagine Apricot, they would always know you as the woman who brought the monster invasion of Blue Ash to light.”

“Well,” Apricot says placing a finger to her lower lip. She looks up towards her brow pondering a way to avoid offending Bonni. “I need more information and two sources. Thanks for the tip though Bonni. I will keep my ears open and you bet if I get more information I might write an article on it.”

“Ugh Apricot,” Machi growls. “Don’t encourage her to be so absurd.”

“Apricot come on!” Bonni whines, “My idea is perfect.”  The harmony of blaring sirens sends Bonni’s eyes and mouth to widen.  Several police squad cars rush causing the wrappers to tremble on the outside table. Sato immediately grabs his phone from his pocket.

A smirk grows on Apricot’s face, a sense of minor guilt coming over her for the sensation of joy.  “Hey Sato, what’s your police scanner say? Something I might want to write about?”

Apricot leaps from her chair clutching onto Sato’s shoulder to examine the screen. Sato maneuvers his finger through a black and blue looking app. Several alerts are on the board, many minor ones, a few on a protest, and an emergency report. He sails his digit on the alert.  Apricot squints but can't read the meager text. “Yeah,” he says pausing for a moment. “There’s a bank robbery a few blocks from here.”

“A bank robbery would be perfect!” Apricot bursts throwing a fist pump. “Sato!” she shouts.

“You thinking what I am thinking?” He smirks standing up from the table. “Hey Machi here is fifty marks,” Sato says pulling out a few shiny emerald cards. “I’m sorry but you will have to get yourself a ride home.”

Machi blows a whiff of air. “Yeah yeah, you always ditch me like this, I am used to it.”

Apricot waves to the two girls. “Hey sorry to take off like this. I will call you later to tell you how it went!” Bonni waves as Machi sits cross-armed and slumps into her seat.

~

The clamor of the sirens battle against the thunder of Sato’s bike. Apricot clasps onto Sato’s back as he handles the motorcycle with expert technique.  Cars rush by as he careens through two onward lanes with the crimson and white sports bike. The gaps between the white lines of the street turns into a flicker as Sato pulls on the throttle attempting to catch up to the police’s wake. “Sato,” Apricot yelps. “Don’t you think this might be a little fast.” she cries. The swishing of automobiles had progressed from having measured pause to something more like a rapid response.

“These things can go down quick,” Sato says “Don’t want to miss a thing.” Apricot feels her heart race as she stares at a near wall of cars up ahead.  She lets out a shriek as Sato cranks the break, the motorcycle screeching. The harsh stink of scorched rubber fills the air as Sato comes to a complete stop behind a truck. “Ah shit looks like we have traffic, damn.”

Apricot pats Sato on the back and hops off the bike. “Sorry Sato.” she states.  Sato’s head tilts to the side as she saunters away. “Thanks for the ride. I will catch you later.” She giggles holding up his camera.

He smirks. “Yeah, get a good shot for me will ya,” Sato calls out.

“You bet!”

Apricot sprints along the traffic slathered street.  The transportation weaves along a reciprocal dance of inches and steps through the clogged metropolitan corridor. A screech roars, Apricot‘s heel seers in anguish.  In mid-fall she holds Sato’s camera up in the air while she drops onto her side scraping against the asphalt. When she recovers her orientation, she discovers a bumper inches above her head.

Apricot pushes herself off the ground.  “Oh my god!  I am so sorry, I, I,” he stammers. “I didn’t see you, are you ok miss?!” a man asks stepping out of his car.  Her heart drops as her fingers pluck the cover off the camera’s lense.  She picks up the camera to inspect it.  To her comfort the camera is unharmed. She lets out a huge sigh then brushes off the street dust.  A sticky wetness covers her hand. She glances at her fingers to see a delicate smear of red cover them and notes a surface coat of blood blossoming against her pale elbow and knees.  Aside from minor scrapes she senses nothing else amiss.

“Yeah, it’s fine,” Apricot calls out and advances toward the sirens.

~

When she nears the source of the piercing sirens, Apricot observes people push to get by the law enforcement’s barriers. “I hate it when they do this kind of BS. Let the police do their job.” Apricot reaches into her pocket and then for her purse.  Not finding the purse she glances over her person to discover she had left her bag at the restaurant.  She imagines Machi or Bonni had just noticed the purse laying in her seat. “Great,” Apricot says aloud looking at the swarms of protestors.

As she approaches, she is drowned by a flood of people carrying placards and signs.  It reminded her of a packed concert. Battling the tide she forces herself to the police line.  Her meager hand among many waves. “I am media can someone let me through!” she shouts.

An officer glances at her before hollering over the deluge “Sure kid, where is your pass?”

Apricot feels like an idiot.  “I accidently left it behind I was in such a hurry to follow the sirens.” she yells back.

“I’m press too, officer!” says a man in a business suit.

“Sure kid, go get it and I will let you through. Without it, you are not coming on this side of the barricade.”

“I am press.” shouts another woman.

“Officer please!” Apricot begs.

With a stern hand the official gestures. “Listen, you punk, you’re not tricking me. Now scram before I have you arrested for misrepresenting yourself to an officer.”

In a panic Apricot blurts out a question, “What is the official statement from the force about the robbery?”

“The state has chosen not to disclose whether this is a robbery. We will give further information as we understand the situation.” the officer states.

Drawing a scratch pad from her pocket Apricot continues “Is there anyone inside the building?”

The police officer’s face turns red. “Back off and disperse now!”

“Excuse me, officer.” Apricot gives a swift bow before pushing back through the throng of crazed protestors. With a heavy heart, Apricot found it best to retreat.  It was not a healthy idea to negotiate with the police while surrounded by agitators. The angry roar of the crowd drowns out as she heads off the main street.

After her escape, Apricot feels a release from her original adrenalin rush, defeat overtaking her as she glances back at the swarm.  A slight anger seethes deep in her core.  If only there were not these crazy protestors, they may have allowed her entry.

“Well, at least I can get something for Sato.“ she remarks to herself. Apricot lifts the camera. Through the frame of the viewfinder, she watches as people contend against the police.  The black armored officers move through the pack with batons bashing in heads. Apricot squeezes the button, twin shutters spiral with a click and open just as fast capturing the moment onto the negative tape. She grins to herself knowing the shot will please Sato. Though, she could have a wider shot if she walked back a few steps using the building’s alleyway to frame the picture. As she steps back she trips. Falling backward Apricot throws both her palms to the sides and catches her footing.  The camera drops to tug on her neck dangling in mid-air.

At her feet is a metal grate her clumsy footwork has obstructed. Apricot kneels lifting the grate off the ground when a delightful idea crosses her mind. The network of tunnels used for runoff beneath the metropolis connected every road together. With a grunt she tosses the grate aside.  A smile graces her face as she descends the rungs into the subterranean tunnels.

~

“Come out with your hands up,” shouts the captain through a handheld plastic blue and white bullhorn. A squad of officers surround with their cars forming a shield wall blocking the crowd. A bulk of the police hold the blockade as protesters try to gain ground.

“Get back or I will shoot!” yells a younger officer as the barricade snaps in half. He draws his pistol with a shaky hand screaming “Back up I said!” as the rebels get past the barrier. He levels the barrel to a young woman’s head of similar age while she walks over the snapped pieces. She freezes in place eyes wide. The group around the official chant a rallying cry which only caused him even more unease.

“Enough of these rabble-rousers,” declares the chief to a policeman standing next to him. “Gas these sons of bitches.” A group of officers in full riot gear march towards the group holding long pipe cannons in hand. With a holler, the police release a series of canisters into the pack.  The metal projectiles knock a few people to the ground as they descend.  When they land they roll releasing a dense cloud of milky brown smoke. The protesters scream as it soon covers them in a heavy haze of poison. They trample each other to avoid the spreading wall, their clothes reeking of the toxic fumes as they breach the plumes.

The police in front chatter to each other when they see the mirror glass door of the bank slide open.  A man steps from the shadows with a girl coiled in his arm.  He presses a gun against her lower jaw.

The man lowers his lips to the young woman’s ear. “Now darling remember what I said. If you move or say a word, I will spray your face all over the room. You got that?” she nods her head as tears drop off her cheeks. His voice is gruff, the trademark of an excessive smoker.

The captain of the police lifts a radio off his chest “Get me a sniper on him, fast.”

“Put down the gun sir, it will be better for everyone if everyone gets to leave today.” says captain through the bullhorn.

The man laughs. “I will put the gun down and even give you the girl. Back up you shit heads. Back up!” he says pulling the gun from the girl. Pointing towards the crowd. “Get back or else! If I see a boy in blue,” He presses the gun into the lady’s jaw moving her spongy skin. “Well, would not want to turn her pretty face into a scarlet fountain would we!” He points the gun back to the officer. “Move back I said! Go now do it!”

“Take the shot.” The police chief says over the radio.

A bullet thunders from the adjacent building. The charge soars overhead through the man’s face. In an instant, the image of the hostage and the man flickered away leaving only a small softball sized orb at their feet. “Wrong move assholes!” replies the man over the bank’s intercom speakers.

“Shit!” gasps an officer as an explosion rolls out from the front of the bank. Fire bellows over the ground with shards of debris hitting several bystanders in the wave of heat winds. The remaining protesters ran for their lives along with several officers who crack under the pressure.

~

Apricot huddles to her knees and screams as the ground rumbles from the explosion.  The lights and their metal cages swing as the cables they’re hung upon dangles back and forth. Apricot grabs her chest feeling her pounding heart.  Not too far from her are the metal rungs marking the exit. Apricot looks up through the bars of the escape hatch to see blue sky much to her relief. Up the steps she scampers pushing open the grate to the surface.

A smile grows on Apricot’s face as she glances around the dirty backstreet lot to see several trash bins filled with assorted recyclables.  She pulls herself up noting she is definitely behind the bank as a tall brick wall enclosures the small back-lot.  Nasty looking razor wire lines the top of the wall.  Apricot creeps out of the hole, the metal grate slams with a loud clank.  Police are pulling people from a rubble torn street flowing with wavering smoke. “Was that a bomb?  Who would use bombs for a bank robbery?

Her hands fidget as a tense feeling washes over her. “Could this be a terrorist attack?” She bites her lip swallowing hard as this whole ordeal turns dangerous. “Can’t let nerves get to you girl. You want to be a reporter, nows the time to act like one,” she coaches herself.

Apricot lifts the camera to her face to see the viewfinder is black. She removes the camera from her eye to see the cap was dangling off the lens on a tinsel of white string. Returning the camera back to her eye she sees a hazel eye looking back. Instead of having lashes teeth surrounded the orb. “What the?” Apricot says under her breath. The teeth shut turning into a grin saying “Hello,” in a strange cartoon-like voice. She shrieks and throws the camera. Her hands cover her mouth shaking from the sudden fright. The sound of glass shattering directs her gaze to her feet. Sato’s camera lays broken on the ground.

Apricot drops to her knees lifting the camera.  A small sob escapes her nostril.  Pieces of glass drop out of the lense onto the pavement. “No,” Apricot says under her breath, as a tear runs to her cheek.

“Don’t move.” a young man demands. Apricot looks up to see a man in scruffy clothing holding a pistol. She felt pale as he bobs the nozzle. Apricot accepts the gesture as a direction to stand.  She rises to her feet.  The chili yellow eyes of this man with a strong jawline regard her. “Wow, he is handsome,” she says to herself.

“Now, why would a girl be out here?” he asks.

“I, I am a journalist. I am trying to get a few photos for my article.” Apricot says holding the broken camera in hand.

“Looks like you need a new camera.” The handsome man snickers. “You think I am an idiot or something?” he retorts. “You went through the sewers to get back here. Filthy. Are you sent by the cops? Got a wire on you?”

Apricot shakes her head. “No.” She whimpers.

“Sure, like you would tell me, anyway.” He grins. “There is one way you can prove you don’t.” He raises his head pointing his pistol at her chest. “Take em off.” Her face grows flush as the order rung in her head. With a deep breath Apricot places her fingers on her shirt.  She pauses and swallows.  “Go ahead.” he says.  She peals her coat from her stomach and lifts her undershirt from the band of her skirt.

“Wait.” the man says as he lowers the gun. His gaze diverts to the ground. “You don’t have to do that.” Apricot pauses to observe him.  She ponders if it is a trick. Then again even if it’s a trick, he would shoot her, regardless.  Apricot lowers her shirt back to her stomach.  The man pushes against the door with a clank against the brick wall. “After you.” He says directing her inside the back of the bank.

If she goes inside, she was not sure if she would live or die. The idea strikes her funny. She had her robbery article as a first-hand figure.  The coin had flipped, no longer is she reporting on a story, she had become it.  If she lived through this, she may hold the story of a lifetime.  A book deal even.  As she considered the possibilities a smile grows on her face. “What has you so happy?” and in that instant, as she looked at the gun directed at her, the joy is gone. The fear of death snuggly placed in mind.

~

“How the hell do we get out of this?” says a man holding a pistol.  He looks younger than the handsome man, a late teen, twitchy too; this makes him dangerous Apricot notes.

The man who captured her shook his head. “I don’t suppose we can just walk out the front door. The back is open, heh, reporter girl found a way through the tunnels. If we slip out though, I am sure we will get chased.”

A lady rests up against a bank teller‘s desk.  She either has a resting bitch face or is ready to tear someone‘s head off.  Apricot reasons she is in her late twenties or even early thirties judging by her mature yet smooth face.  Unlike the other guy she did not carry a weapon but the belon ruse jacket she wore could conceal an arsenal. “Well, isn’t this great?  We got a swarm of angry police in front, bright eyes is upstairs drooling like a madman, and now we got this kid hostage with us. This was not what we planned at all. What the hell was he thinking?”

“A bomb, Diago is insane.” moaned the young man.  He paces in a circle carefully maintaining cover from the front.

Apricot sat on the floor of the decorated bank. In the lobby, the polished marble floor had a huge crack which she assumes is the remnant of the blast. The glass around the windows is are shattered allowing the smoke to flow into the room.

Apricot listened to the group bicker.  The questions only grew as they complain.  One thing above the rest troubles her.  What did they expect to gain from a bank robbery?  They had done away with paper money since the Emerald Mark became the new standard.  She could not bite her tongue any longer.  She had to know. “What was your plan?” Apricot burst out.

The handsome man glances over at her while the other two look at each other. “Told you she was an interesting one.” He says with a half smile.

The nervous man laughs. “Well, we aimed to get ourselves a hefty retirement plan… but it is looking like we got ourselves a funeral instead.”

“Maybe, you could turn yourselves in,  I mean the bomb was not your idea.  Turn on that... Diago guy.  He does not seem like he cares much about you.” Apricot suggests.

The girl glances at Apricot taking measured steps towards her. From her side, she draws a thin slab. With a click, the slab reveals a spring-loaded blade. She bends next to Apricot placing the flat of the blade against her cheek. “Comedian, keep talking and I will carve a smile over your face from ear to ear.”

The handsome man smiles saying “I kind of like the comedian, someone has to be funny around here. Might as well be her.” She taps the tip of the blade on her cheek leaving a small superficial cut.  Her brown eyes locking with Apricot’s give a sharp warning. She yields the threatening blade to her palm and stands to her feet.

“She might be right.” The nervous man stifles a snicker. “I mean, I ah, I don’t want to die. We had no part in the bomb. That was all Diego’s plan. Heh fuck, I mean, how do you explain that?”

“Diago, what is he doing up there?” the calm man says. “I knew deckjocky was just a plug head.”

“He will still come through for us, right?” the young man laughs. “I mean… he rigged that bomb up… with that holodeck from upstairs. Think he has a way of getting out of here?”

“Only one way to find out.” the girl with the blade looks over at the calm, handsome man.

“Yeah, yeah, I will check on our little decker… see if he’s done.” The man jumps off the desk he sat upon and lowers his hand to Apricot. “I want a body as collateral though.” Her heart flutters leaving her to question her own sensibilities. “Hey reporter girl, mind being my shield?” He grabs her hand and lifts Apricot to her feet.  “Come on it’s this way.”

~

The man had lead Apricot upstairs to the second floor of the bank. Over the mezzanine, the over-watch gave a view of the outside. While uncomfortable with the anxiety of having a barrel pointed to her head. Apricot felt more at ease with him than with that lady downstairs; even still, the gun to her head told her otherwise. “So, just down the hall. I don’t want a sniper to blow my head off so please walk in front of me?”

Huddled next to her the man presses himself into Apricot’s backside.  She blushes feeling his chest against her rear as they inch towards the door.  Outside she can see several police with their guns drawn while others walked around casually holding papers.  The crowd of people had dispersed.

Inside the room, a girl in the corner with tears streaming over her face sobs to herself while a man sat in front of a computer. A pistol rests on his desk along with a camera setup with several cables stretching from his hands and tiny metal pieces spread out of his fingers. They clicked on the keys typing at a fast rate. “Hey, Diego, you almost done? You pissed off the cops with that light show of yours.”

“Did I?” he chuckles.  “I wasn’t aware.”

The man beats his fist on the table “Yeah, now get your ass in gear cause we sure as hell are running out of time and I don’t intend to die here.”

“What? But the party has just started.” He snickers. “They got impressive ICE. I got through the first couple phases. Think they got a real nice buried treasure. The downstairs vaults are unlocked anyway, load up what you can. I will have all the tunnels open for you in a few. Was not expecting this stuff ya know. If you give me some time though… I think I can find something more valuable. They equipped this place with naked body scanners. Bet that is worth something too.”

“Listen, pervo, get us a freaking bank train so we can get the hell out of here.” the handsome man hollers.

“Tanj! You ain’t no fun.” Diago grumbles.

“Just get it done.”

“Are you a runner?” Apricot asks. The black-haired lady in the corner looks up with plain shock.

Diago glances from his screen at Apricot.  “The eyes, they are wrong,” Apricot thought to herself. “Like the dolls in the shop windows of Akubashi street.”

“Who’s the girl?”

“Hostage like your‘s.” The handsome man says patting Apricot on the butt with his hand. A chill ran down her spine. She wanted to slap him but resists the urge. “A reporter.”

“Huh, shit man, if you don’t get that one creased soon, I’ll reconfig her myself. Expert witness, you know joy boy.” She didn’t understand all the words but gathered the jist, he wanted her dead. A threat Apricot wouldn’t take lightly. The other girl’s wide eye’s gave Apricot the impression she thought much the same.

Apricot can feel the handsome man press the tip of the cold barrel through the back of her uniform. “You worry about our getaway.” Apricot is not entirely sure how to take the situation.  The handsome man appears to have morals.  At least he did not seem like he wants her dead.  Then again, she knew her emotions are twisted up into a knot.  He drives her towards the hall “You know the drill girl, don’t let them blow off my head now.”

From the ground floor, a deep voice thunders “On your knees!” followed by a retinue of commands.

“Ta hell is that!” shouts Diago. The handsome man pushes Apricot onto the floor holding out his gun.

Several ghostly figures drop through the marble ceiling onto the floor. The cloaks they wore bend the light to mirror the surroundings. If not for the shimmering the cloaked figures would be invisible Apricot thought. They throw off the cloaks to show themselves as armored police pointing their guns to the criminals. “Got ya.” says, one officer.

“You did.” replies the handsome man. He swivels his body drawing a blade from his spinning torso and stabs the knife against the thick armored collar. The blade scrapes against the black Kevlar. The butt of the officer’s rifle impacts into the man’s head knocking him to the floor.

Diego jumps onto the table, knocking the seat into the wall. He swings his arm sending the computer smashing into an officer. The cables whip back into his left hand, pointing his right arm at the officer meeting the direction of his rifle.

“You son of a bitch!” Diago howls.  His forearm splits open with a mechanical groan revealing a hidden uzi. “Ratatat!” the gun roars. She covers her ears with both hands, Apricot drops onto her knees.  To her horror, she watches a smoking bullet land between her knees letting out a scream of her own.

She kicks away from the smoldering bullet into the wall. “Ah-ahahahaa!” Diago cackles. She screams as her back sank into a pair of arms. She looks up to see the gray and blue hosed mask of an officer covering her within their cloak. Inside the cloak is bright. The fabric became a screen showing bodies around the room and making the walls appear translucent.

Apricot watches as the red silhouette of the handsome man swept his foot knocking the other officer onto the floor. “I got you honey!” says a muffled female voice. The officer leans back lifting her through the bank’s wall. An intense tingling sensation came over Apricot as they pass through.  The officer plummets as a swooping bird with Apricot as her prey clutched in her arms. Landing with a heavy thud on the pavement below she realized she was thrashing and screaming.

Her mind is racing with questions the largest of them is “What just happened?“  Did they jump through a wall? Cradled in the officer’s arms Apricot looks up into the iron blue mask. The eye shields shine a bright red color. Two air hoses run along the sides of the solid neck shields.

“It’s all right mam, you are safe now.” The police officer set Apricot to her feet. She rose to her full stance gripping a clip on the side of her mask. It clicks with an airy hiss as she lifts the helmet off allowing her long black hair to come cascading out. She had bright white eyes. “Are you ok? Hun?” she asks with a rural mainlander accent. Apricot looks on with wide eyed and a slack jaw. “I got to thank you. Your little sneaking escapade allowed me to get inside the backdoor without anyone noticing,”

She watches another officer jump through the wall with the black-haired lady.  He unfurls her asking “Mam, do you need medical attention?” The lady just wails in her arms.

“This is the life police have, so dangerous.” The words came off her tongue without intending to.

“You are lucky to miss. I have not seen many kids walk out of something like that.” The officer says to her.

Apricot broke out of her trance before turning to the armored woman saying “Forgive me.” She bows as low as she could “Thanks for saving me. I am in your debt.”

“All in a day’s work miss.” The officer says with a smile.

A man in uniform walks towards her holding a clipboard. “You’re a student, huh?” He says looking at Apricot’s tattered uniform. “What were you doing inside the bank?”

Apricot’s heart sank knowing full well she is on camera. “That is a funny story…” she says biting her nails. She relayed the events that lead to her becoming a hostage. Much to the officer’s amusement.

“Press huh, well, I will have to report this to your superiors and let them decide what is to be done with you. Understand me.” The man says waving a finger at Apricot. She nods. “Good girl put in a good word. Got it, girl? Now would you come with me? We need to get your account on record so you can be on your way.”

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The black pavement shines wet in red and blue lights. An officer stands outside an antique salon.  The voices of his colleagues are covered by the sound of loud howling sirens. They keep a crowd of onlookers at bay with several shouting officers and a makeshift wall of wooden roadblocks. They’re painted in technicolor by the storefronts neon lights. With his pistol in hand, the policeman walks towards the shop’s advertisement plastered glass doors. The twin slabs partway with a weathered mechanical creek.

“Please, chief, please damage nothing,” a quivering timeworn feeble voice cries.

“Yeah. Sure… as if everything wasn’t damaged already,” the agent thought as he looked into the hollow dark.

“That is not our concern,” He hears the voice of his section captain grumble washed over by the loud crying sirens. “Our only interest is getting whoever is in there out.”

The officer whispers to himself “You tell em, boss.” A flicker from within the storefront causes the officer’s heart to jump. He peers into the shadowed darkness with little more than a deep breath. As the policeman slips inside the building, he is greeted by a yellowed flickering tube bulb. It reminds the deputy of some abyss as he tries to look through the supernatural umbra. Aside from the random sparks of the light, everything else is saturated in black.

A chill crashes over his spine as the halogen light too disappears. Out of his open mouth neon colored ghostly breath floats through the heavy arctic air. He raises his hand to his shoulder and presses the switch on his radio. “Shit, I can’t see a thing.”

“Hey Arikado, you scared of the dark are you?” joked another officer over the line.

“Shut up Vince,” Arikado growled irritated by his remark. His chest pounds as he realizes it scares him. Not the unease he ordinarily felt though. Sure there is always concern while walking into dead end shops with possibly armed suspects but this, this is different. It was a living fear, a gripping dread. It claws upon his throat and steals his air. “No, I mean it’s darker than night, I can’t see anything.” Taking a few steps forward Arikado squints his eyes gazing into the shadows making out an assembly of shelves knocked atop an inky mosaic of assorted objects. “So much keeping the place undamaged, damn what the hell happened here. So it looks like someone messed this shop up.” A rustle from his left side evokes Arikado to turn. He raises his gun pointing to the stretch of unknown. “Come out with your hands where I can see them.” He shouts convinced something occupies the haunting void.

Red glare, a scream of pain, shouting, his eyes grow wide, a sharp agony bursts from his stomach. He did not realize the splash of his own blood slapping against the polished tile floor. Disorientation, his body is flung across the room.  Colliding with the wall his own scream seems to trail behind him.

Outside, the police heard the hollering and Arikado’s crash. The captain hollers “Get your asses in there. Move, move, move.” Without hesitation the other officers rush into the salon with their guns drawn. Arikado screams in misery. In the shadows, the silhouette of a woman stands. Her hair is spread as though static has stretched out the each lock. “On the ground.” Another officer yells as she raises her hand revealing sparks of electricity. The room is lit by strobes of muzzle flash.

After this, the crowd had dispersed, only the braver or foolish individuals stay to watch. The remaining onlookers clutch the boundary to get a better view. The officers stop their push back replacing it instead to watch in horror while the building flickers like a storm.

Between flashes, the twisted smile of the woman spreads. Her fingers splayed open stopping the bullets in mid-air, hovering for a moment as if impacting against something unseen then drop to the floor with a metallic ping. The woman’s milky white eyes flash a blinding light shattering the glass in the room. A supernatural wind turns the shards into an assault of shrapnel tearing through the law officer’s bodies.

It thrusts the agent’s through the paned windows; their remains rolling in fragments across the now bloodied roadside. The outside officers run for cover behind their cars as the razor projectiles berate everything in their path. The men kneel over their hoods.  Their barrels aim into the flare of silhouettes, hearts pounding, gripping their triggers, bodies tight.

Darkness returns to the quiet still storefront.  The shattered glass glistens with the first beams of morning light. Every eye gazes unwavering as the silence goes from unsettling to straining. Splintered shards pepper the metal of the police cruisers embedded deep into their chassis. Several officers scream out in pain as they too fell victim to the shrapnel.

From darkness, the woman steps through the hanging remains of the shop doors. She stands brazen with pride, her eyes wide open and her face bearing a crazed toothy smile. Her skin a bronze gold tone embracing the figure of a gymnast. Each stride she takes leaves sparks behind her. “On your hands and knees.” The captain yells. Blood drips off her body in thick streams forming rivers at her toes.

Instead of complying the woman brings a bloody stride forward. A slight chuckle escapes from her strange feral grin. An officer shakes pulling the trigger releasing a single shot from the chamber with a loud pop. The lead dot flies right at the woman, but it stops mid-air falling to the ground the same as the bullets previously. “It’s a witch!” screams an agent. The patrol opens fire in a frenzy each bullet bouncing along sparks of electricity that floats and fizzles shielding the conjurer. Step by step, she gets closer to the officers shielded behind their cars. She turns her head in a way that would remind you of a broken mechanical doll straining for movement.  She raises her arm and shoots a blast of lightning destroying a cruiser, turning the nearby police into a pulpy mess of tangled parts.

One officer draws his saber from his side. He charges the monster raising both arms to slash her in the back. Mid-swing, the woman turns slicing him in half by an invisible force. He splits open at the shoulder to the hip spraying warm blood.

The roar of screeching tires alerts the strange lady. Her gaze turns towards the dissonance as a pair of trucks come barreling from the end of the street. She steps over the officer’s split body grinning to face the rushing freights. The heavy armored rigs ram through parked cars and knock aside any sidewalk decor shattering everything in their wake. The truck’s driver turns his wheel and slams the brakes causing the massive automotive to spin around with its cargo port pointed in the lady’s direction.

A metallic groan escapes the hanger doors while they roll open revealing a large steel-plated humanoid machine. It stamps out the back splintering the asphalt under its weighty triple toed foot. The gargantuan body is twelve feet tall resembling something of an armored knight. In its mechanical three-fingered grip is a long specialized rifle with cables and cords snapped into the machine’s forearm. The automated servos whine with each movement as it strides forward. A new group of officers run from the barricade of trucks assembling themselves into several small squads. The decals SDP visible on their shoulders and bulletproof vests.

A tall fellow dressed in a black captains trench coat takes off his hosed mask with an airy hiss. His graying black hair sat atop an experienced pitted face. “Let’s finish this.” yells the older man. He points to one officer hiding behind their police cruiser near the rear by the barricades. “Get these assholes out of here.” he motions with his hand to the crowd of onlookers.

Sparks float in the air in long streams running across the road as the lady growls. Discarded litter from around the city floats in the same fashion as leaves in a spiral wind. The armored suit takes a measured tread in front of the group squaring off with the strange girl. Lowering its knee into a sniper position, the pilot points its barrel towards the woman. With a loud shriek, she sends forth a bolt of electricity at the machine leaving a pathway of fire in the blast’s wake. It strikes the armor causing a great spark to turn its white plastic plating cyan in the glow, its red lights dim for a moment. The ground flares several seconds after the blast, the tethers of lightning rolling while fizzling out.

When the goliath moves again the blond monster pales. A single charge from its muzzle blows off her right leg in fleshy red strands, severing her thigh just above the kneecap. She tumbles as her limb flies like a bowling pin away from her body rolling and spinning on the ground. She lands with a rib breaking thud onto her side before sprawling out against the cool pavement.

The older man chuckles “Good shot. Now pack that thing up so we can get out of here.” Several of the armored police rush in toward the girl with plastic ties, syringes and a large yellow body bag. An officer kneels seizing the woman’s wrist.  With a snap he prepares the plastic cuff ties. She turns her head towards him giving a taut pout. With her other arm she pushes herself up clutching his collar. She digs her nails deep into his throat. A powerful blast blows his skull to pieces with the ferocity of a shotgun. “Kill her.” Roars the captain. The officers draw their guns blowing her body full of holes.  They can hear one last laugh in the gunfire’s roar as her mutilated corpse dances side to side.

From above the storefront buildings on a rooftop, a shadowed figure in a cloak stands to watch the bloody mess. “What a pity, the lady hadst shown promise.”

~

Images of a dull burgundy flashing enters Apricot’s mind. She lays asleep deep under the thick cloud of slumber. An annoying buzzing keeps ringing in her ears. As the fog of sleep lifts, she opens her lids from the darkness to see her room transitioning between a red glow and shade. She turns her head over to a blinking alarm clock. Her eyes grow wider as hearing and vision become comprehensible again. Apricot reads in crimson digital lights 8:23 AM. A yelp of shock escapes her mouth reminded of school. With a spark of animation, she thrusts out of bed onto her feet sending her covers cascading to the floor.

Her uniform hung off a polished bronze curtain rod. Not wasting a minute, Apricot snatches her cloths placing an arm through the long sleeve while she moved through her room. While adjusting her green and white, yellow trimmed sailor, she glances over at her makeup before deciding she hadn’t the time for that today, even though this pained her to admit. “Maybe just eyeliner, that only takes a moment.” she reasons.

Rushing into the kitchen, she finds her younger brother, Jasper, already at the table with half-eaten morning toast. His eyes fixated on the television. Typical of Jasper to be attached to the TV in the morning often keeping her from catching something interesting before she herself got ready for school. Apricot expected to see cartoons or a movie, she glances over to emergency broadcast news bars lining the screen. A well dolled up lady in a deep red swing coat is speaking explaining the situation. Her voice a dull mumble the volume being too low to make out the reporter’s words. Apricot imagines the lady in red is jubilant to have the story and someone else is unhappy to be the story. Such resulted from media. A constant search for tragedies to exploit in some form. “Whatcha watching?” She asks Jasper.

“Oh, you’re up.” He snickers. “Your alarm woke me up. You know, it’s annoying how you don’t shut that off. You have been sleeping through it lately. But look at this! The police had another standoff.” Apricot hates how smug her kid brother could be. The least the little brat could have done is wake her up if he knew she was oversleeping.

Apricot opens the fridge.  Inside are several leftovers and a few pre-made dishes still wrapped in plastic. Most likely her father’s meals as he often got home late from work. Over time they built up like a museum of the past weeks’ dinners. She grabbed a half carton of milk, drinking from the cardboard fold out, a few eggs and a stick of butter. “You know you could be a good boy for once and help your big sister Jazz.”

Jasper laughs “You could be responsible for once and get yourself up.” His eyes ever fixed on the screen, letting out a gasp. “Wo, there is blood everywhere.”

Apricot lifts her head from the fridge looking up at the image of bodies and limbs and pools of crimson spread like modern art over the wide pavement. “Jasper Signa! You know you are not supposed to watch this stuff!”

Jasper growls “It’s the news, and Mom is not home anyway so stop lecturing me.”

“But Dad is home.” the color drains from Jasper’s pale face as he turns his head to see his father standing over his shoulder. He places his hand on Jasper’s back. “What is this?” he asks in a raised tone. A sense of satisfaction knowing her Dad caught him being a jerk fills Apricot. She springs up closing the fridge door with her foot. With the stove top burner, she starts an omelet for breakfast.

“It’s the news… some robber attacked a bunch of people. They had to even call in the SDP.” Jasper chirps with a hint of fascination in his voice. “Sachiban model 4s, Dad.”

“Huh, I see. Well, your sister’s right, your mother would be furious if she found out you were looking at this. So turn it off.” He commands before walking over to Apricot. “And Missy you are late for school. Think you have time for making breakfast when you are already late?”

“Ah,” Apricot moans as she senses in the pit of her empty stomach he was right.

~

She races along a crowded thoroughfare deep in worry of her recent string of tardiness. If she does not hurry, she will miss the next train. She weaves a careful trot through the slow-moving morning crowd. Upon reaching the end of the street, she soon discovers that the stretch to the track is barricaded. “Not today!” Apricot moans as she sprints up to the fence.
She places both her palms upon the rail drawing the attention of a man in uniform.  “Hey, girl go around the other way.” He shouts at her. She can see medical crews on the other side shifting bodies zipping their remains into bags. “This must be where the attack happened,” Apricot thought. “Didn’t you hear me?” The man yells at her again. “Go around!” His hands now redirecting her back where she came.
With a sigh, she turns heading through the morning street as if walking through a current in the wrong direction. Apricot slips through the unyielding people but found herself making little headway. Regardless of any manners she once held Apricot pushes through the onlookers as she is sure as hell not going to miss a train to school.

Several blocks away is another railway, but it was not her usual route. Still it may get her to the university on time if she is fast. After a short jog, the station was in sight but her heart dives when she sees the line has boarded passengers and room is becoming scarce. She burst into a full sprint through the cluttered streets bumping into people with sailing apologies. Just before the doors close, a young man held it clear with one arm and reaches out with the other.

The cart moves as Apricot picks up pace running faster, her hand outstretched reaching for the man’s open palm. He lunges forward gripping the side of the train’s door. He clutches her fingers and lifts her off the ground into the threshold of the train‘s closing doors before slamming shut behind her. “Hey there, almost missed your train.” He chuckles.

Apricot blushes before saying “Yeah, thanks to you I didn’t.” He smirks before looking her up and down, stopping at her bust before moving back to her eyes. “Oh great, he is a pervert.” She thought to herself.

“Got caught up in the detour, huh?”

Apricot nods. “Mmmhmmm, so, did you?”

“Nah, but quite a few people were complaining about it. I kind of figured.” He uttered as he leans against a pole and take hold of the headrail. “It’s crowded in here this morning. This route is empty normally, it’s kind of why I like it. I heard they had to shut down the whole subway system in Ginzu for repairs.” Apricot bows. A brisk moment of silent crosses the two.  To Apricot it appeared as if the man was waiting for her to start a conversation, but her mood was not willing after being ogled.  His eyes roll before he lets out a sigh. “So, what brings you out this lovely morning?”

“Ah, I am going to uni. I ah, I’m studying journalism.” A hint of pride welling up inside her as she smiles.

The guy smirks. “Journalism huh?” he shrugs. “You got a camera?” The question struck Apricot as odd provoking her eyebrows to squish together. “O’ I figured a journalist would be into photography. I got this camera I am trying to sell. Thought you might want to buy it.”

“Ah, no. I’m not looking to try photography.” A lie but she assumed the camera is stolen or broken.

The young man nods his head. “Oh yeah, well if you ever change your mind I ride the train almost every morning so ah come see me. The name is Cortez, just letting you know.” At first, Apricot thought he was coming onto her but after a moment Cortez waves.  “Well, see you around ok.” Then blended into the crowd of people losing himself among the timbered bodies.

~

A thin layer of beaded sweat streaks across Apricot’s rosin cheeks. Her clothes soggy from the long jog into and through the university’s entrance corridor. She gazes up at an LCD screen displaying a government broadcast along with the current time boxed in the upper corner, “10:04 AM”. Intense anxiety comes over her as she rushes through the sparsely populated halls that twisted into something like a maze. “The detour, they will keep the door open.” Apricot thought to herself to at least edge off some of the tension. Upon seeing the classroom door of 1403B, she could see they drew down the off-white paper shade. Apricot pauses to catch her breath wishing for the door to open then reaches for the doorknob. She twists the handle only to meet the resistance of locked metal fastens. With a grunt, she tried again in vain as the knob only jiggled with little give.

Taking a few steps away from the door, Apricot lowers her head putting both hands on the sides of her cheeks. A tightness flowing down her face to her fingertips ending its stream at her toes. She drew in a long breath holding it for a moment before letting out an even longer sigh. “Late again.” She thought to herself.

~

Blue Ash on a weekday is not much unlike any other bustling city, a shadow of the population. Apricot passes by people dressed in the various fashions along a narrow lane. The smells of skewered barbecue over a charcoal grill fills the air. The edges of the sidewalks are dotted with food carts and street vendors. The shops that line the road are very diverse selling trinkets, clothing, and consumer goods. Apricot had always liked this avenue which appears more like a hall of commerce to her.

One shop that caught Apricot’s eye is a boutique window selling the latest style spread across mechanical dolls striking an assortment of poses. They look vaguely real Apricot thought to herself, almost. It was in that small gap between the two she found so unsettling and wrong. Something about the eyes, they were dead. The bustle of programmed synths diverts her attention to an arcade. “I have little else to do.” She thinks to herself being drawn in by the blinking neon lights.

Inside smells of a piped scent cover the humid heat generated by a mix of body sweat and cigarette smoke. Spread across the walls various machines flashing each playing an assortment of tunes that blended together to form that iconic arcade sound. It’s a cacophony but has a pleasant ring that Apricot associated with a fun time. One game had been the flavor she was looking for to cheer herself up. A side-scrolling hack and slash by Capnom called Queen Of Dragons.

The machines dim while a slight flicker came over the screens. “Crap, the power is going out.” She thought to herself. A specter of breath faded into the open air from her mouth. She felt fridgid as if she had walked into a freezer. The cold fades as quickly as it appeared but not before causing all the systems to reset. Each one had started their boot sequences which invokes her to let out a whine of boredom. The appeal of battling against pixilated monsters had left and with it herself.

She continues to wander the vitrines until finding herself on a side street unfamiliar to her. The shops around here were of another era; dusty old places that were long forgotten. She passes a hardware store, an electronics boutique, a very shady looking pawn shop, second-hand stores, and a small market called Wiseman’s.

The populace wandering the streets here are unlike the previous. If the one’s before remind Apricot of people without a care, these made her consider she may be in danger. She walks by several men giving her unwelcome glances along with a grin that says everything she needed to know about them. She decides it would be best to get back onto a more populated street but, when she went to turn the corner, she is welcomed by the sight of four guys kicking another man in the ribs. He barks out as each strike slams into him knocking his body from side to side. She stood with wide eyes of horror before shouting out “Stop!” As the guys turn to consider her, she realizes the folly of her reflexive action.

Now she had the audience of four rather hard-looking men. The tallest one delivers a final kick into the guys face. “Yeah, let’s get out of here. Remember to have the rest of it punk. If not, get the hell out of town or else.” All four men walk toward Apricot her throat growing tight. Without so much as a glance, the four just walk past her. She looks down at the man.  He spits a line of blood from his mouth.

As she stares at the guy on the ground, it shocks her to recognize him. It’s the guy she talked to on the train. Apricot narrows her eyes saying “Are you all right? Do I need to call the cops?”

“No.” He groans while getting to his feet. “Don’t do something stupid like that. Stay out. It’s none of your business, reporter.” Without even regarding her, he limps out of the back street. Apricot wanted to go with him to at least make sure he was ok, but she knew it was best if she didn’t. Getting involved with people like that can get you hurt, sometimes worse. Unlike most Apricot appreciated the unseen. Her wish to become a journalist had brought out a pseudo-respect that some things are best left unknown.

After several streets, Apricot sees a familiar sign “Utopian Theaters” and knows where she is. Further down the road is a small cafe called “Hot Shots.” Upon entering a strong scent of brewed espresso greets Apricot. Inside the decor, a pleasant chocolate wood color accented with soft greens and red pastel windows. Light music canvases the senses allowing for privacy but not enough to drain out your thoughts. As she walks to the counter, the smell of fresh baked goods wafts through her nostrils causing an almost Pavlovian salivation to occur. “Hey girl, I thought you had school.” Apricot looks up to see the bright blue eyes of Bonni Willox one of her best friends from high school.

“Bonni!” Apricot chirps with delight reaching over countertop to give a warm hug. “I did not know you worked here?”

“Yeah, well, I needed a part-time job, turns out you can’t be a movie star without having one.” she laughs. “So what brings you here?”

“I was late for class, stupid detour blocked my train,” Apricot shrugs.

Bonni leans over whispering “I got a story for you. I overheard the cops talking about that. They spoke of the boss being upset about not getting the robber alive.”

Apricot gives a funny expression. “How is that a story?”

“The way they were chatting about it was not like the typical upset they had to kill her but… like they wanted her for some reason.” Bonni leans over onto the counter drumming her fingers against the polished wood. “I will tell you more about it later but right now is there anything I can get you?”

Apricot nods her head before placing a finger on her cheek. “Just a coffee with Vanilla and a spot of half-and-half.”
Blue Ash Crisis: Chapter 1
Chapter 1, and so it begins.
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A young black-haired girl named Chino Tokuma sits quietly inside a shadowy control chamber. She imagines the communities above working inside their offices, framed by large paned glass windows. A job she formerly held herself. Now she is below a shopping center, over a mile underground. Images of festive decorations and well-dressed customers making their roulette through carousel doors cloud Chino’s thoughts. Their clicking feet brought to silence as it extended to the depths. A grim shiver cascades across her spine. Her stomach twists into naughts thinking of this place. She taps her fingers across a grey plastic board of keys. Each press leaves a distinct different click. She glances up at a massive screen which covers the entire wall of the darkened room. Her fingers wrap around the neck of a narrow microphone that sticks out of a platinum metallic desk. “Okay looks like we got everything set up. Let’s get working with the Mantra-Tech systems check Falcon One.”

“Rodger that, we have, light. The ion engine appears to be operating nominally. Ready and waiting for instructions, over.” A male voice replies with just a mention of static.

There she was, an expert at her particular task of maintaining the power stages. A careful balance of percentages. While Chino works, she cannot help but think of the crowds walking through the downtown slums surrounded by litter. It is simple, a monochrome brown with torn posters lining the walls of events long expired. Now they are meaningless echos of the past, memories in someone else’s mind. A population of several million oblivious to the project, no, the trial proceeding in the shadows of this man-made cavern.

“Begin with the core check Falcon One.” replied the young woman who sat next to Chino. She tugs on the collar of her uniform loosening its ever-growing choke on her throat. The levels on her monitor jumping from green to orange to red. Her fingers hastily work, gathering up information on the pull from the municipal electric grid.

Billboards line every street. They shine a dull haze of strobe light while cars bustle through heavy traffic. As Chino flipped a switch, they dim marginally and buzz back to life. A group of school children pause midway on a busy street to look up in awe as the city lights flash dead. Their teacher waves her arms chiding the kids through the crosswalk. A lump in Chino’s throat forms as she sees the levels blackout. “Damn it not now!” she thinks to herself. “Come on don’t die on me now.” Flipping switches, she keeps her eyes on the electricity levels gradually lowering back to a stable condition.

“Rodger, let me see here, Core 1, stable. Core 2, stable. Ah, Core 3, is stable. Core 4, stable.” says the technician followed by a heavy crackle of interference over the radio.

“Get that line clear.” her commanding officer’s voice booms with authority. She smalls into herself, continuing her task. The soft hand of her coworker closes over her fingers.

Chino turns to see welcoming eyes. “It will be all right. We got this.” She whispers.

A “click” crosses the line as the technician says “Rodger, I apologize my cable was loose.” there is a slight pause before he continues “Core 6, stable. Everything is working as it should be. I am good on my end. I‘ll broadcast the levels now.” A broken streetlight burns back to life blinking yellow as a group of pedestrians ambles through that same crosswalk. The clap of thunder roars as rain fell from gray skies.

“Everything looks fine on our end Falcon one, let’s begin the Particle Engine Check.” A few blue orbs dot the unnatural darkness as fireflies lighting a warm summer’s night. Chino could not help but admire the colors as she viewed the spectacle through the screens muddled image. The camera adjusts its lens focusing on a few wisps as they ran in front of the optics.

“Rodger, ah, let me see here.” grunts the technician. The snap of a plastic board cracks over the radio. Inside the control room, Chino looks at her co-workers dressed in white, gray suits managing many switchboards to keep the many holographic displays green. “Engines one and two are ok. Ahhhh…. Let me see engine three, is, ok.”

Connected by a meager tether, the technician drifts inside the darkness traveling along the satellite’s channel. The white nylon tricot of his spacesuit painted a dull blue in the light of the wisps. His only point of reference wading in the dark void is the satellite, his sense of direction changing as he climbs the rungs of metal and snowy plastic. While he floats around the machine, the excellence in his trade became unmistakable to Chino.

After ensuring the energy levels are stable Chino begins her final check. She draws open a few more screens taking a deep breath. “Headquarters clears you to engage the Mantra Drive Falcon One,” With a gentle lighting of a thruster on his back, the technician glides himself to the edge of the satellite. His feet hang over the panels. After gathering his footing he reaches for another tether from his side and connects it to a rung on the ladder. He clutches the bar of a round switch. With a metalic groan he turns the white cylinder till the surrounding satellite rods light up one by one with a red glow.

“Object spotted, Commander, it’s east of the gate,” Chino jumps as the man stands up and points at his screen. The girl next to Chino pulls up the image on the large wall panel. Chino’s heart flutters for a moment. This should not be happening she thinks to herself. The computer‘s intelligence at once undertakes a lock onto the object. “Falcon 1, there is an object in the distance on your three, do you have a visual?”

He turns and looks to see a twinkle in the distance. His suit displays a lock onto the object. “Rodger, I copy a visual. It’s approaching very rapidly.”

“Falcon one do you have a read on the object?” the commander’s voice strong but there was a hint of something else, worry. The twinkle becomes a flash, and the flash consumes everything in the darkness. A loud haunting crash blows the speakers. Pieces of plastic and metal rain onto the floor as several members of the crew scream. The light turns the satellite to nothing. In an instant, the man loses his suit in the bright ray. His flesh flying abroad, and his bone turning to dust. “Falcon 1 do you copy.” The commander yells his voice quivering with concern. “Falcon one do you copy. We lost signal Falcon 1. What’s happening out there Falcon 1.”

~

“Today we remember the twenty year anniversary of the explosion that wiped out Blue Ash city. The disaster killed over two point three million people reducing everything in its aftermath to rubble in an instant. The smoke from the explosion blocked out the sun for three days. It was the single most destructive disaster in modern history. A new city has formed in its wake. New Ash City; the world’s technological marvel. We remember…” in a flash, the news anchor disappears into the black.

“Yeah yeah we all heard it before.” a young girl says with a view looking out over a suburban township.
Blue Ash Crisis: Prologue
This is the finished prologue to Blue Ash Crisis.  I have begun the process of type setting the novel and as I finish I will be posting each chapter one by one until all 27 chapters are posted.  Please leave a comment and tell me what you think.
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I got a new website all set up.  Http://JayceRan.com
This is going to sound weird to a lot of people but I want to purchase some custom made or unique looking line breaks from someone. I can design my own but I am feeling lazy and am interested if someone can come up with something cool for me.

I am willing to buy them outright royalty free with ownership of the line break or I am willing to use them on loan and I offer a link to the designers webpage on my webpage.  I can't promise much traffic though because I am only a hobbiest.

Still if I am going to be posting stories I want them to look cool.  Oh my webpage is JayceRan.com if you want to see it.  Anyways I am interested to see the type of response this gets.  Also name your price please because I am not entirely sure how much to pay for a line break as it takes a variable amount of time to make those.  Thanks for reading this in advance.
I am doing a reboot of my Jayce Ran accounts.  In 2019 I plan on being far more active as I enjoy this.  So... yeah.  More of whatever.  I am going to redo my gallery and hide all the junk.  So more streamline and good looking stuff.  Enjoy.  Bla bla bla.
Http://JayceRan.com my site is back up.  I am focusing on that from now on.  So yeah.  I will still post in my other spots but I want to consolidate my audience on my own platform.
If I was ever to get anything tattooed on me it would be this...

"Oderint dum metuant." ~ Let them hate so long as they fear.
everyone I am going to be streaming at 3:00PM Eastern Standard Time (25 minutes from now) over on my www.twitch.tv/jayceran Feel free to join in.
You're not just another piece of history.
At times I wonder exactly why I am doing the things I do.  Then I remember it's ultimate goal is to save lives.  We should all be fighting for such great causes.
One book down working on my second one.
Eating once a day was the best change I have made in my life.  I have lost over 18 pounds in less than two weeks.
I woke up to sparks sliding cross the steel of a pair of blades.  They shined like brilliant stars fading like coughing lighters in the night sky.  Torn skin hanging off muscles like old curtains, their bodies bruised, their bone shattered.  Still the warriors stood against one another in undeath locked eternally in a fight for their souls.
Blue Ash Crisis final cut is 27 chapters.  I know because I am done.  Minor edits are still left.
Rewriting is fun!  Rewriting parts of Blue Ash Crisis, this is awesome.  So close to being done.  The outline for an end to all you know is coming along nicely too although I find myself growing tormented by some of the disturbing imagery I have created.

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:iconpajunen:
Pajunen Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2018
Thanks for the +fav

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:icon29238:
29238 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2018
happy birthday dude!
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:iconluvidicus:
luvidicus Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2017
Hey, haven't heard anything from you in over a month.  Just checking in.
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:iconshrodu:
shrodu Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Please allow me to be the first to say "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"  :)
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:iconjayceran:
JayceRan Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks ^_^  I appreciate it.
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:iconflorapolitis:
florapolitis Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Are you Jayce?
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:iconjayceran:
JayceRan Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Ummmm... yes?
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:iconfascher:
Fascher Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2016   Digital Artist
Thank you for the watch! :dance: It's much appreciated!!
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:iconthejanie:
TheJanie Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2016  Student Digital Artist
Thanks For The Watch by TheJanie
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:iconjayceran:
JayceRan Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
I never been a sparkle before!
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:iconthejanie:
TheJanie Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2016  Student Digital Artist
Well, get ready to shine  and to be the best you, you can become!~
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:iconjayceran:
JayceRan Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
I'll be the brightest Katamari in the universe!
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(1 Reply)
:iconspikelikegwah:
spikelikegwah Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2016  Student General Artist
Thanks for the watch some much!!
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:iconjayceran:
JayceRan Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Yeah no probs.  You do very good art.  Your forum thread made me a new fan.
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:iconspikelikegwah:
spikelikegwah Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2016  Student General Artist
My forum thread? Which one?
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:iconjayceran:
JayceRan Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
The one about drawing and needing some new drive.

forum.deviantart.com/community…
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(1 Reply)
:iconmarchosiasvx:
MarchosiasVX Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2016  Student General Artist
Thanks for the watch, much appreciated :D (Big Grin) 
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:iconjayceran:
JayceRan Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Yeah well you seem pretty cool.
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:iconmarchosiasvx:
MarchosiasVX Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2016  Student General Artist
Thanks, the same to you :) (Smile) 
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:iconaeyerlock:
Aeyerlock Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2016  Student Digital Artist
Happy Birthday!Have your cake and eat it too :cakerun: :ihavecaek: Fun cake cake Cake for Shifteh Cake OMG CAKE Free Avatar - CupTardCake :deliciouscake: 
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:iconjayceran:
JayceRan Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks that means a lot to me.
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:icondanny19000:
danny19000 Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2015
Happy holidays my friend
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:iconjayceran:
JayceRan Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks.  Same to you.
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:icondanny19000:
danny19000 Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2016
Thank you are you okay
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