aSG: Chalandra Harkness: The Bloodchip Matrix #10
Gary W. Olson
swede at novitious.com
Tue Jul 6 10:03:14 PDT 2010
THE BLOODCHIP MATRIX
(a tale from altiverse 998SUPERGUY)
Gary W. Olson
The wind whistled through her ears and her mind as she leapt from
the window. The cold spires of the Red Fortress were barely visible
in the dim starlight, but Chalandra could feel the formations in her
head, and knew precisely where she was leaping. There was a
projection, an external sensor array designed to detect incoming air
She missed by a fraction of an inch, striking the side of the
tower. Her right hand grasped a cable that snaked from the
projection, slowing her descent as she ripped the cable from its
moorings. There would be a catwalk twenty feet below, she realized,
and let herself fall.
As she landed, with the grace of a cat, color began to assault
her eyes. Red and blue alternating, a kaleidoscopic nightmare in her
head. Escape. She had to escape. Had to get to the primal red of
the nucleonic engines that kept this nightmare mountain aloft.
They were approaching. Chalandra withdrew, finding an alcove to
melt into. Three kyuuketsuki ninja darted past, each one looking
straight at her without seeing her. If she were to survive this, she
realized, she would have to use every trick Symon had ever taught her.
Chalandra moved again, propelled by the singular impulse that
Symon's last program, inlaid into the Bloodchip without Vedrik
Temekhan's knowledge, had instilled in her. There should have been
more, she knew. Kyuuketsuki should have been swarming over her.
Were Akane and Alexei keeping them busy? It was possible - they
had been holding their own when she had leapt from the window of the
imbedding chamber. They had been taking silent notes as Temekhan had
taken them on a tour of the Red Fortress, for reasons that Chalandra
couldn't fathom, at the time. But now, it was clear. A precise, hit
and run strategy of creating overloads in the systems might buy them
just enough distraction and time to reach a hovercar.
As if to echo her thoughts, an explosion blew out a section of
the wall farther down the spire, shooting hot, metallic debris into
the air. Chalandra watched it impact against the thin radiation
bubble that protected the vampires who ran the Fortress from the
nucleonic energy its engines produced, with a solid crash.
Her head whipped around to see Temekhan, advancing rapidly
towards her, his massive, hirsute body tense with anger. Four
kyuuketsuki ninja accompanied him, but they kept their distance.
"Are you *quite* done?" he asked, reaching for her.
"Hardly," Chalandra spat, backing away. She could see the thin
walkway that lead across the scarlet-hued nucleonic light. If she
could reach it...
Temekhan's hand fastened over hers. She responded by cracking
him across the temple with the steel restraint that was still fastened
to her wrist. The ninjas closed in. Chalandra pushed Temekhan into
two of them, as the other two made their attack. One struck her
across the face, while the other moved to bind her arms.
They had to be under orders not to harm her. Else they wouldn't
be so tentative. Good, Chalandra thought, as the maddening impulse
rose in her again. She had no compunctions about hurting them.
With a single fluid motion, she evaded the grasp of the second
kyuuketsuki, leaping to the catwalk's railing and leaping without a
moments hesitation. The thin metal strip that overlooked the engines
was almost below, just a few meters to the left. She landed on an
outcropping of equipment and leapt again, reaching the walkway easily.
Now, they only had one way to follow her, on the walkway. It
would take too long for them to go around the immense engines, and
surely their contingency planning hadn't extended this far...
She saw Percy McFae, waiting for her, at the halfway point. He
was quietly returning her gaze, his face not straying from his
practiced blandness, despite the fact that sparks were leaping from
the section of his neck that she had ripped away, exposing the steel,
plastic, and circuitry underneath.
No chance for retreat. Chalandra ran forward, knowing Percy
could stop her, that his strength was the power of the machine, the
immortal, ever-living, ever-consuming machine. She knew the exact
move he would make, the precise counter he would apply to her best
At the last moment, she stopped, halting in front of him. His
hand flew up, as if anticipating another move, and he stopped.
Chalandra could have sworn that McFae looked a bit confused, for the
first time since she had met him, an age ago, in San Francisco.
Taking advantage, she swung the restraint chained to her wrist,
catching him in the eye. Despite the damage, he caught the restraint,
and snapped the chain between his fingers.
"Really, Ms. Harkness, this is rather unseemly," he said, in an
unperturbed tone. "You really don't have any choice in this matter."
She swung at him, but he caught her arm and pulled her brutally
closer. He was leaving his neck open, she realized. The sparks from
the small chunk she had ripped away were still evident, though they
didn't seem to be causing him any discomfort.
Letting out a low, savage hiss, she bared her fangs at him. He
"My blood is entirely synthetic, now," he told her. "I doubt
you'd get much nourishment from it, though you're welcome to try."
Still, he made no move to protect his neck.
"Ah, but I'm not just a vampire any more, am I?" Chalandra asked.
"No more than you're just an arrogant, tin plated bastard." She
lunged forward, burying her fangs into the surging energy of his
exposed circuitry. Neuroelectric energy slammed into her mind and
body, voltage flashing through her system like bad acid.
A second later, she pushed him away, as electric blue dots
bubbled in front of her eyes. There was a look of pain in his eyes
now, and perhaps even a bit of fear. He sank to his knees, seemingly
unable to move.
She felt sick. For the first time in centuries, she could feel
the nausea trying to force its way out. But it wasn't real. It was
the chemicals they stuffed in her body, the wiring they laid in, the
crackling of her nervous system as the last of the raw energy
dissipated. Everything looked blue now. Like a goddamn electric
Temekhan's hand grabbed her shoulder, and she spun around,
hammering his side with an elbow. Something was screaming in the air,
rising above the howl of the night and the hiss of static across her
frontal lobes. Temekhan felt it too, and looked up.
Something was descending from the stars, roaring, screaming, out
of control. Chalandra recognized it - a hovercar, in a direct dive.
There was no pilot inside that she could see, as it bore down on them.
He pushed her out of the way as the hovercar hit, shearing
through the walkway like paper. Seconds later, it hit the protective
radiation shield, shattering it, exploding before impacting the
engines themselves. Hot red light rose from the primal pit, bathing
Chalandra in radiation as she struggled to hang onto what remained of
the walkway, as it bent and started to crumple, down towards the
"No," she heard Temekhan say. His hand grabbed her ankle, and
she looked back, to see him hanging half on, half off the jagged metal
edge of the walkway, his body almost obscured by the red light. "You
need me...need me to guide the future of our kind..."
"I don't want your future, damn it," Chalandra growled back at
him, as the support she was clinging to gave way. She cried out as
she slid down, finally catching a twisted section of ripped steel
before going over the edge. The metal cut into her hand, though she
felt no pain. "The rule of the chip now is the same as the rule of
law was then. It kills, Vedrik. Kills everything that's worth living
"Foolish child," he replied, as his other hand gripped her leg.
Brutal determination was etched across his face, a determination to
climb up and begin again, with another subject, if necessary. After
all, what was time to a vampire? "Before this century, the government
of law was the government of lawyers. Today, we have the rule of the
chip. But that's nothing more than the rule of the chip's
programmers. You and I, Chalandra. We can guide the future evolution
of our kind, ensure that we remain forever above mortal reach. We ARE
the future, Chalandra!"
"I may be the future, you pompous bastard..." Chalandra hissed,
as her boot slammed into the hand clutching at her leg. It fell away,
too weak to resist. He held on by one hand, around her ankle, a look
of desperation appearing in his eyes.
KRAK! Her boot heel slammed into his fingers, breaking bone,
from the sound of it. The screaming rose in her mind again.
KRAK! Her last blow snapped his wrist, forcing him to let go.
He didn't scream as he fell. He just watched her, his face sad and
pained. Then the red light swallowed him up, as he fell into the
primal nucleonic reactionstorm below.
Chalandra felt weak, drained. She had no strength left inside.
Already, she could feel her hand letting go, as the metal cut into her
tendons. Six centuries of unlife, about to end...
The screaming in her head became a gust of wind, and she opened
her eyes to see a second hovercar hovering next to her. The hatch was
open, and Alexei was reaching out to her, as far as the safety tether
around his waist would let him. Chalandra saw Akane in the pilot's
chair, watching her controls. The radiation had to be making piloting
Alexei grabbed her free hand. Chalandra let go with her other
hand, and fell, only to be pulled back up by the beautiful blond
Russian vampire, into the hovercar. The roar of wind stopped as the
hatch closed behind them.
"I have her!" Alexei shouted to Akane. "Go!"
Akane nodded, and lifted away from the nucleonic pit. Chalandra
could see explosions burning in three of the spires, explosions she
had not seen before.
"What the...fuck did you do...?" she asked.
"Tell you about it once we're out of here," Akane said to her.
They were lifting above the spires of the Red Fortress. The guns of
the Fortress were silent, and no hovercars rushed out to challenge
their departure. Then they were falling, falling away from the dark,
burning mountain and towards the night-shrouded Earth below.
Chalandra closed her eyes, falling into delirium again. The
image of the electric blue rose came to her, a final time, before
(to be concluded...)
Copyright (c) 1994-2010 by Gary W. Olson. All Rights Reserved.
Gary W. Olson
swede at novitious dot com
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