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Chapter III. Earthbound Skyscrapers

Chapter III. Earthbound Skyscrapers

A Chapter by Writer #00
"

オペレーション。。。 スタート!: Duke- find some food. Iris- kill a predatory Rabotte. Role switch much?

"

Duke and Iris:

 

They found it in an antique car whose peeling yellow paint revealed oxidizing metal, metal not unlike that of the robot’s who was lying, sprinkled in dust, in the leather passenger’s side.  Iris neared it first, her electric shotgun mounted over her shoulder in striking-mode.  Duke followed ruefully, his hand drills at the ready.  He’d had two too many encounters with robots in the past few years and he didn’t want to add to that number.

 

“Look,” Iris whispered, feeling the need to even though the ‘bot looked to timeworn to still be active, “It’s got an outlet on one side of it.”

 

“A what?” Duke asked, unfamiliar with the word (he generally avoided urban settings).

 

“An electrical outlet"to charge electrical applian"“ they heard a crash somewhere to their right.

 

Duke jolted, Iris already had Mortician facing the area from which the sound came.

 

“I’ll go see what that was,” Iris told him, “you go find some food.  We’ll meet back at the hideout, okay?”

 

Duke nodded briefly.  Iris crept stealthily to the remains of a parking structure.  They heard the sound again.  A cloud of light sand floated out of the second level of the lot.  She didn’t hesitate to pursue the source.

 

Iris:

 

The parking place was old, of course, and riddled with wrinkles of time and discolored graffiti.  It wasn’t particularly dark, light came in through the holes earthquakes had created and the fence strengthening the structure’s beaten walls.  She found the ramp leading to Level Two of the parking building and cautiously ascended.  The sound of scuffling met her ears.  Searching.

 

She was familiar with that sound.  A hurried movement created by a bulky body.  She saw the frame of the creature silhouetted against the dusky morning light.  It stood atop a van, one paw reaching into the sunroof as if trying to locate a specific object.  Gold-furred Rabotte, she thought as the sun reflected off its brass-colored pelt.

 

She saw the dented lid of a trashcan at her feet and soundlessly took it in her hold.  She made sure to remain light and undetectable as she lurked in the shadows of crippled vehicles and questionably stable pillars.  The noise of metal rolling in the slight breeze made the Rabotte’s long ears prick straight up like antennas.  It stopped tearing at the van and bounded down from its roof, moving to another one.  What are you looking for? Iris wondered, tiptoeing over to a tire-less truck only a few spots away from the Rabotte. 

 

She used the crunching metal and impatient slamming of its gargantuan foot to mask the tiny sounds she may have accidentally summoned upon nearing it.  She rolled under the truck, closing the distance between hunter and prey, and emerged in an empty parking space on one knee; Mortician skillfully balanced.  The Rabotte’s ruckus had turned into silence.  Iris’s eyes darted about the terrain.  It knew she was present and its shadow was well hid for she couldn’t find it.

 

She shot a warning blindly into the darker quadrants of the lot, taking advantage of the luminous blue the electric bullet emitted.  A flash of the creature’s alert ears on a pillar, then the light cratered into the wall.  Its form scampered elsewhere, but she followed its moves with her eyes and kept Mortician’s sight aimed directly on it.  The Rabotte was aware of this, so it lifted a door-less hybrid and flung it at her from the other side of the parking structure.

 

Iris quickly dashed as far from where she predicted the vehicular missile would land, discarding her improvise shield, and dove behind a van as the hybrid abruptly exploded about five spaces to her left.  She’d dropped to the ground and tried to muffle the noise of self-ignited car with her headphones (to avoid hearing damage).  She did, unfortunately, however, the Rabotte had been waiting not too far away from where she currently took shelter and now loomed hungrily over her, its warm breath commanding each of the white hairs on her neck to stand erect. 

 

She stared up at it, feeling suddenly weak.  Its eyes gleamed a ravenous red. 

 

“Guess you need to eat, too,” she whispered.

 

Duke:

 

He watched her head toward the mysterious disturbance.  He felt a tug of something at this.  What was it?  Why did he feel guilty that his eyes held unshed tears?  Why did he feel the need to tell her that he’d accompany her?  He liked his solitude.  He didn’t need anyone else.  The Iris was a means of protection, right?  He didn’t need to be with her.  How could one day without loneliness have affected him so?

 

He shook his head clean of such thought and followed the Iris’ orders to scout for nourishment.  He walked in the opposite direction of the parking structure, his drills still guarding his hands. 

 

:

 

There was a small building once labeled Station de Gaz: Mange!.  There were four stations with pumps instead of a parking lot.  Each station was labeled with a number on each side.  He wondered what they had been used for before the planet fell into its coma. 

 

He entered the Station de Gaz: Mange!, having to force the double doors open.  The inside showed signs of disorder: wrappers and squashed pastries, broken glass, plastic bottles rolling hollowly on the linoleum...

 

The only untouched items were cash registers and the cigarette boxes that hung pristinely behind solid glass protectors.  No food.  He kicked an empty mineral water container and exited the building with a sigh.

 

:

 

He searched other places about the city"tipped crêpe stands, cafés that stunk of moldy bread, fruit, and pastries"but to no avail.  He’d found a large complex in pristine condition, so pristine that all of its securities were still intact and he couldn’t enter.  He eventually rummaged through waste bins and dumpsters, but most were either empty or filled with decomposing bêtises.  Nothing to eat.

 

:

 

He was surrounded by vacant skyscrapers and cars whose wheels were glued to the cracked asphalt.  He looked around, only now realizing that he had no idea how he would find his way back to the hideout from here.  He wasn’t used to having anywhere to return, so he hadn’t take the liberty of memorizing his steps.  He simply had wandered around the desolate town looking for food, not remembering the reason why he was doing this.  He sighed, turning around in hopes of seeing something familiar to spark his memory.

 

:

 

At around noon, he saw something that both alarmed and excited him: smoke.  And not smoke from a blazing fire or an explosion of some sort, but smoke from a campfire.  It came from the top of a skyscraper that was now only half its original height.  He didn’t want to enter the building (the few he had been in stank of mildewed papers, and cylinders occupied most of the space) but he could think of no other way to arrive at the fire, so he took a breath and stepped carefully into the frame of previously shattered glass doors.

 

Iris:

 

She smirked inwardly as the Gold Rabotte leapt onto the hood of the car to her left and prepared to pounce on her.  She wasn’t suicidal, just glad that the Rabotte hadn’t been able to read her thoughts.  The moment it fell upon her, it would be a mere corpse.

 

The Rabotte bared its frontal fangs, short tail swishing greedily, then reached down with one massive, furry hand and grabbed her by the legs.  It swung her into the air, having fun with what it now saw as no more than meat delaying its death.  She turned one-hundred-eighty-degrees while it opened its mouth to receive its not-yet-dead kill, and shot it six times from above with masterful rapidity. 

 

The Rabotte’s eyes widened, electricity shaking its body, and she fell feet-first on its chest.  She cocked Mortician’s barrel once more and stuck it in the beast’s open mouth, her finger on the trigger.  Her foot felt its heartbeat slow, its limbs occasionally convulsed from the shock Mortician had given them.  She rolled her eyes, saying:

 

“I guess I should end your misery, huh, M. Rabotte,” Iris mused, lifting Mortician’s bayonet and plunging the tip into the Rabotte’s slowing heart.

 

She removed the spear, jumping off the body to avoid being sprayed by its blood. 

 

“Not exactly the best idea of food,” she murmured, poking its body, “but it’ll have to do.”

 

Falip and Culous:

 

The two sat on the floor of a dilapidated cubicle, one of them, Falip, huddled close to the cooking flames, occasionally stirring the pot of soup with a stick.  The other, Culous, sat cross-legged beside him, shining his hook-bladed scythe with the end of his shirt.  He would have been sharpening it, but he didn’t want to irritate his friend’s ears with the screeching of brick-on-metal (they were incredibly sensitive, which is why he wore the metalic earlocks over them so as to dampen his keen hearing).

 

Culous wiped the diamond-shaped amethyst embedded at the end of his scythe and peered at his reflection in it.  He whistled:

 

“So beautiful,” he said, kissing the violet gem.

 

Falip’s head cocked slightly to the side.

 

“Do you hear something, Falip?” Culous asked, tightening his grip on his scythe’s sable handle.

 

“Footsteps,” the boy told his partner in a whisper, “from rain boots.”

 

Duke:

 

He shuttered at the many bodies suspended in the gélatine of the eerily illuminated cylinders. The shadows stretching on the walls and tile of the lobby were ominously unmoving.  He stepped over the tubes connecting the cylindrical containers, quickly finding a flight of emergency stairs.  He closed the door shut behind him, panting from fear.  Something about the cylinders chilled him to the marrow of his bones.

 

He calmed down, ascending the fire escape stairwell.  A wind brushed his hair and cloak, carrying the smell of food, as he came to the last remaining step.

 

There was already someone waiting for him at the top:

 

Ami ou E n’ami pas? the...person...wielding the bladed staff asked.

Duke blinked, unsure of what to do.  The person laughed, throwing his head back jovially.

 

“HA! J’ai supér puns!” the person chuckled, fastening his?...her?...(its voice suggested a male human, but its gestures contradicted this suggestion)scythe to its back and squatting down so that they were eye-level with one another.

 

The person extended a pale hand and tipped its elegant top hat in greeting, “Enchanter, M. Cône-Main.”

 

Cône-Main...?” Duke muttered in confusion, then remembered the cone-shaped drills covering his hands, “Um...” he removed a drill from one hand, taking the person’s hand and shaking it with one firm movement, “Nice to meet you, too.”

 

The person smiled broadly.

 

“So, ami,” it concluded, standing up to its full height, “why don’t I show you to our...camp, I guess is what you’d call it.”

 

Duke stood at the top of the stairs for a little while, debating on whether or not he should follow the flamboyant male (he’d decided that its lack of chest-inflammation and masculine arms made it of the male side of the homo sapiens sapiens’ scale).  The person turned around to look at him, grinning:

 

“Are you coming?”

 

Duke eyed the male suspiciously, trying to deduce his use: black shirt and jeans, tool belt, zipper-shoes, violet shoulder-cloak...shawl...garment, same-colored hat decorated with a black carnation, scythe (interesting weapon), and that peculiar diamond-shape to his right pupil (his left eye was shrouded by hair).  He didn’t know what to make of him.

 

“We’ve got some soup cooking if you want any,” the person informed him, “Tu as faim?

 

:

 

The man’s name was Culous, and the wavy-haired boy with large, metal domes cupping his ears was Falip.  Culous explained that the domes were his earlocks, used to muffle his acute hearing down to the level of the average human being’s. Falip divvied the hot soup between the three of them, and as he did Duke wondered what Falip was if not average, but decided against asking. 

 

The soup had been canned"rice and chicken"so Falip served it to Duke in the can it had come from; he and Culous ate directly out of the pot, blowing on the piping hot spoonfuls of soup they scooped up.  While they ate, Culous asked Duke a few questions, things like: “How old are you?” and “Do you like the soup?” or “Do you have a place to stay?”

 

Duke answered truthfully for the most part, sipping the last of his broth from the aluminum can and placing it on the cubicle’s worn carpet: “Fourteen.” “It’s food.” “Yes.”

 

“Where?  Anywhere near here?”

 

“No,” Duke decided that it was better he kept his and the Iris’ whereabouts hidden, “we’re kilometers away.”

 

The black-garbed man lifted a brow, swallowing his final bit of soup, before saying, “We?”

 

Duke winced.  Idiot boy, he thought to himself.  He nodded slightly, wishing he could hide his entire face behind the collar of his cloak, “Yes.”

 

“Who else is with you?  A relative?”

 

“No.  A girl I met yesterday,” he told the man, wondering if he should have tried to conceal the Iris’ existence.  Well, if I should have, he thought, it’s too late now.  They fed me, and they seem cordial...why betray their trust?

 

“Ah,” Culous leaned back on an old file cabinet, its paint scraped off to the raw, rusty metal, “a girl?”

 

Duke cautiously nodded.  Would they ask to meet her?  Girls were a very unusual sight nowadays (at least he hadn’t seen any other than the Iris).

 

“As in the female gender?”

 

Duke noticed a sort of alert spark light in the other boy’s eyes, making them glint in the dim sun like the luster of his golden hair.

 

“Mmhmm...”

 

Culous sighed, fiddling with the petals of his hat’s carnation, “Falip and I haven’t come across many girls on our travels.”

 

“Neither have I,” Duke replied.

 

An almost undetectable exchange in glances occurred between Culous and Falip, then Culous continued the conversation:

 

“What’s she look like?  Beautiful eyes, I imagine?” he asked casually, producing a ratty dishrag and wiping the pot (Falip had removed it from the fire to cool) clean of scraps.

 

“Um...” Duke thought about the Iris’s face"one that seemed to favor countenances of happiness"and focused on her eyes or, rather, eye given that the other was hidden behind her streaked hair (not unlike Culous’) “I suppose they’re a nice shade of green, but I’ve only seen one of them, so...”

 

Falip visibly perked up, and he and his partner looked hopefully at one another.  Culous turned to Duke.

 

“Would you mind if we met her?  We’ve got a few more canned goods we can share with you two"if you haven’t any food, that is,” Culous offered, handing the pot to Falip who placed it on his head like a hat.

 

Duke considered this.  Currently, he had failed to find any form of nutrients (as the Iris had asked of him) aside from any resources these two, suspiciously hospitable males may have possessed.  This may have been their only chance at food for a while (and not every homo sapiens sapiens would be so kind).  He considered asking them to stay (upon insistence that she was too far away) and have him deliver the food for them, but he soon remembered that he had gotten himself completely lost amid these earthbound skyscrapers and sky-scraping dunes.

 

“Sure,” he told them (which lit yet another spark of joy in Falip’s eyes) “but I’m not sure how to get back to our rendezvous point from here.”

 

Culous let out a chuckle, rising to his feet by his staff.

 

“Don’t worry, mon grand ami,” Culous reassured, pointing the end of his staff-scythe at his partner, “Falip here’s got a nose on him better than any Lun Chat.  D’you have anything of hers?”

 

Duke was bewildered by the feminine man’s words (did he just say that this little boy could sniff the Iris out?), but he managed to reply with a semi-decent shake of his head.  No.

 

“It’s okay,” Falip informed him, his voice soft and pre-pubescent, “I can use the lingering scent she’s left on your cloak.”

 

Duke blinked, astonished, and Culous smiled at his company’s amazement, “Astounding, isn’t he?”

 

Duke could only rigidly affirm his agreement as Falip leaned into him; sniffing his cloak for what Duke assumed to be the Iris’s scent.  The boy stepped back, giving Duke more room; then stood.  He closed his eyes, placing the palms of his hands on his earlocks.

 

“He always does this when he’s concentrating,” Culous whispered eagerly, “it’s really quite adorable, don’t you think?”

 

Duke didn’t have time to reply to the awkward comment, for Falip’s eyes had already opened and he pointed to the other side of the abandoned town.

 

“Over there,” Falip remarked confidently, staring blankly in the direction of the rundown, once residential area of the town.

 

Duke glanced briefly up at Culous, still dubious of the boy’s supposed talent.  Nothing but trust and admiration shone on Culous’ face, though, and Duke found he had no choice but to rely likewise on him.  Culous produced a can of pears from the bottom drawer of the file cabinet and handed it to him.  Duke accepted it, latching his drills to his shorts to free his hands.

 

“Why don’t you start heading down the stairs, Duke,” Culous suggested, “while Falip and I snuff out the campfire.”

 

Duke obeyed warily, not understanding why extinguishing flames would take more than one person.  He could tell that the two wanted to discuss something without his being present, and desperately hoped his trust in them hadn’t been a blind stumble into a trap. 

 

Falip and Culous:

 

“Do you think it’s her, Culous?”  Falip asked his tall companion hopefully.

 

Culous placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder. 

 

“She’s only got one eye showing,” Culous said, “and it’s green, too, like yours.”

 

“Just like what the note had said, right?  So it could be her?!”

 

“It’s possible,” Culous replied, “this girl might be your sister.”

 

--Chapter III. Earthbound Skyscrapers



© 2013 Writer #00


Author's Note

Writer #00
Well, it's the next month and, as promised, here's another chapter of LTGC. I should have at least one more up before the month's over. A few things:
オペレーション。。。 スタート!(Operation Start!)... that's an Angel Beats!! reference... which probably means nothing to the small majority of people who read (or at least view) this.

So... yeah. Thank you to the one person who I am completely sure reads this. I revised this chapter once, but there are probably still some errors (as I have slowly discovered in the other chapters).

Also: I updated Chapter I. to include Iris's headphones in her description (I forgot about them... but they're there).
"Falip" is supposed to be pronounced "Fuh/leep"... that's about it. Thanks for whoever reads LTGC... even if you don't review!

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Reviews

Finally, I've succeeded on reading one chapter! This is getting well with the most vivid descriptions and alien stuff. Good job! (:



Posted 7 Years Ago


Writer #00

7 Years Ago

Thanks...who do you think are aliens?
Rhianne Ney

7 Years Ago

Oh, I don't know, haven't guessed much
I didn't find any errors that were noticeable to my eyes.just a great chapter. Now i off to read the next one.

Posted 7 Years Ago


Writer #00

7 Years Ago

Thanks for reading.
It's difficult to trust Culous and Falip but there are always surprises. I do suppose it is role switch now that the guy gets food and the girl goes into combat. Unlike Duke I wouldnt sat "hey i got a female companion." I would probably keep that secret if there aren't many around. You got a couple of grammatical mistakes but its cool.

I enjoyed this chapter and the new introduction of characters. Great action sequence between the Rabotte and Iris.

Posted 7 Years Ago


Writer #00

7 Years Ago

Yes...surprises *rubs hands together menacingly*. Yeah, most people probably would, but Duke has a .. read more
Xerclipse

7 Years Ago

Yeah I knew something was off in that writing. Wasn't sure what it was. I thought it was all on my h.. read more

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Added on March 2, 2013
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Tags: LTGC


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Writer #00
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I'm participating in the Summer Writing Project through Jukepop.com, an online serial website, those entering had to submit a novella on Jukepop.com. The finalists will be decided by the number of +V.. more..

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