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Article - 'The Chain Story 2: Chapter One' by Xanqui

An item about Miscellanious posted on Apr 19, 2005

Blurb

The first chapter of the Chain Story 2! This chapter is by Xanqui.

Body

The Chain Story 2 is a sequel to the popular Chain Story started by Woman. This one was started by me, but is a direct sequel to the events that occured in the first one.

Chapter One by Xanqui
A cloud of dust flung from the dirt path that was once a busy street for land vehicles. Above it, a yellow aerocab, rusting from years of service, sped towards the city along the horizon. The lustrous bottom reflected the sun onto the ground, creating a bright light that followed the cab. Aside from a convoy of garbage trucks driving over what was left of the asphalt road, the passengers in the aerocab had not seen a single vehicle since they had arrived on the island.

Samuel Onyx rested his head on the bulletproof window next to him, which was somehow more comfortable than the other passenger's shoulder. Even though the ride was smooth, he couldn't sleep. "Leila," he said, rolling himself to see the woman sitting next to himself. "Could you move your feet?" he asked as he lightly kicked them.

"We're almost there. You've barely shut your eyes since we left."

"It's the anxiety. I haven't been to Naroko in years. Of all the places to be assigned, why there?" He glanced down at the device on his wrist, which was wirelessly connected to the web, so long as he was within range of a WiFi hotspot. "We're already late. Leila, god damn it, we're late."

Leila shifted in her seat to look at the city through the front windshield. "It's still daylight there."

"You don't understand. It's always dark in Naroko. The bridges and buildings block out the sun for the bottom. We're meeting them in the slums of the city. If we're lucky, they stayed late today."

"And if we're not lucky?"

"Then we won't be seeing the sunlight for a long, long time." Gazing at the briefcase behind Leila's shin, Samuel asked, "May I see that again?"

She quickly pulled the briefcase onto her lap and slid it over to Samuel, who gripped it firmly with both hands. He reached for the buttons on either side of the handle and pressed them at the same time. Slowly, the briefcase opened.

"Most likely, they stayed late," he convinced himself as he focused on something shiny and metal inside. "Only an idiot would pass up an opportunity like this." He opened the briefcase completely, revealing a computer chip embedded in a thick foamy, almost rubbery substance. "I wonder how many people were killed for Mario to get his hands on this."

Leila was nearly rubbernecking as she tilted her head to see inside the case. Samuel had asked her to hold onto it while he slept, but his eyes had been focused on the case for a majority of the time. "What is it?"

"Leila, this is the chip that will change the world forever. Or at least, it would have. I'm not sure what these people intend to do with it. When implanted in a certain area of the brain, it allows the user to connect to any electrical device, using an electromagnetic field. The electricity within the electronic device will respond to the user, granting him access to anything it's connected to, including computers. This is the first piece of technology that will grant humans the ability to literally control things other than their bodies with their minds."

"And you're selling it to some bum in the slums of Naroko?"

"Not just any bum, Leila. He's one of the most powerful leaders in the world of hacking. He'll be able to bypass any security system ever created."

Leila shivered. "I just don't get why Mario selected you to sell this. How much of the cut are you getting?"

"Twenty percent. But with that amount of credits, I'll be able to pay of all of my debts and buy my own island. While the world falls under control of the hackers, we'll be drinking margaritas on a private beach. I really couldn't care less what happens."

The city was much closer now, and both of them could see the night lights on the bottom of the city. Skyscrapers towered thousands of feet above the ground with bridges connecting most of them together. Millions of people worked or resided in the city of Naroko, and most of them used hover transports. The only safe way to manage this was to control all transportation with computers.

"Samuel," Leila said as she stared at the wonders of the city above the slums, "doesn't the idea of one man controlling all of these lives even concern you?"

"As I said, with the cut I'm getting, it really won't matter to me. I told you the day we agreed to work together that if something like this ever came up to where I could finally pay off my debt to Mario Cocopelli, then I would take it blindly. I'd rather die now than live forever indebted to that prick."

"It's not just that. It's the circumstances surrounding it. Why would he give up this kind of technology to someone halfway around the globe? Furthermore, why did he tell you what it was, rather than seal the case shut and kill you if you opened it? He even gave you its access codes for chrissakes."

The aerocab, piloted by a computer, lowered and slowed down as it arrived in the city. It flew beneath several bridges and into the darkest area they could see.

"Mario trusts me, Leila. I've never wronged him and he knows that I'd be more than happy to do something like this to pay off the debts. I hated that man, but I at least gave the facade that I got along with him. Hell, I was his drinking buddy on Monday nights."

The lights inside of the cab flickered on and the two could see each other better again. The windows reflected the light inside, preventing them from seeing outside without pressing their faces against the glass. All they could see were the buzzing streetlights along the sides of the road.

Slowing down, the cab lowered even further to the ground. "This seems like the place," Samuel said as he snapped the briefcase shut. He reached into his inside coat pocket and pulled a pistol from it and checked to make sure the clip was still firmly locked inside.

"A gun?" Leila asked. "What happened to you being the delivery boy? Sam, I'm really not liking this."

"Just act normally. No one will suspect a thing so long as we don't act nervous or anything."

The doors on either side of the cab opened and a small set of steps rolled out from beneath the vehicle. Samuel was the first out of the cab, and Leila crawled out carefully a moment later, only to run around to the other side to be close to Samuel.

They walked onto a cracked sidewalk, which had probably been broken for decades. Dark splotches all along it indicated places where people had spat out their gum and left it there for hundreds to step on it.

Even the buildings were dilapidated. Most of the windows were broken or boarded up on the building Samuel and Leila were heading towards. The brick structure seemed to be leaning to the left slightly after at least a century of no repairs. Despite the shoddiness of the building, there was still electricity, as Samuel could see from the bright lights coming out of several of the windows.

He trodded up the few steps towards the front door and rang the doorbell, which just buzzed and shorted out. There was only silence for a moment. "I don't think they're here," Leila said as she moved closer to Samuel. "Are you sure this is the right place-"

"What?" a voice interrupted through the intercom next to the door.

"The seagulls are flying east this winter," Samuel announced loudly. Leila was confused for a moment, but then realized that he was speaking in code.

"Probably has something to do with the hurricanes last spring," the voice replied. This was the confirming reply that both parties knew the right people were there. "The door's unlocked. Come on upstairs."

Samuel twisted the doorknob, but it made no difference as the door swung open before he had even twisted it far enough. "Broken," he said.

"What a surprise."

They moved inside the building onto a rotting wooden floor. They could see people wandering around the basement through the cracks, but couldn't make out what the people were doing.

"Upstairs," Samuel said, looking at the death trap in front of himself. Thirteen steps, each broken in one way or another. It looked as if someone had spent hours each day for years just running up and down the stairs, stomping with each step. He grabbed the railing firmly with the hand that wasn't carrying the briefcase and made sure to keep his feet as close to the solid parts as he could.

Leila followed, feeling more comfortable walking up the stairs than standing outside. It took several minutes for the two of them to reach the top, but when they did, a great sense of relief passed over both of them. Not only that, but the atmosphere of the area had changed as well. Each room upstairs was well-lit and the floor was solid.

"I don't think these people have left this floor for years," Samuel whispered as they moved towards the only open room. The floor still creaked, keeping both of them on edge with the anticipation of the entire hallway collapsing.

Suddenly, a yell from the open room, "I'll be back in just a minute guys!" filled the hallway and Leila stepped back. Someone poked out of the room and saw Samuel and Leila in the darkness. He reached over to the wall and flipped on switch to turn on a small, dim light that flickered every few seconds. "Are you Mario's boy?" he asked.

"Who wants to know?"

"You've arrived at a good time."

"I thought you lived in the upper city. Mario told me I was supposed to meet you here, and then we would be transported upwards."

"That's right," the man said as he stepped towards them. It was an eery sight, seeing him walking in front of the flashing computer lights from the room next to him. "But that won't be for a few weeks. Hey, who's the girl?"

Samuel glanced at Leila, who was gripping his arm by now. "She's with me."

"She can't be here. The deal was that you came."

"She doesn't have anywhere to go right now. Don't worry, she won't be a problem."

The man grinned and shook his head. "No, man, we were told it would only be you. She has to go. Here," he said, reaching into his pocket for a credit stick, "she can find herself a nice hotel. And the gun, give it to her."

There was no way for the man to see the gun, since it was in Samuel's pocket. "I'm not armed."

"Give it to her."

He reached into the pocket and handed her the gun, and a moment later the man stepped forward to hand her the credit stick. "I'm sorry, Leila. Just take the cab to the upper city. I'll meet you there in a few hours. Just let me make this exchange."

Leila was nearly in a state of panic. "I can't go out there alone!"

"Then you shouldn't have come," the man said with a smirk. "Now get out or the deal is off."

Samuel looked into Leila's eyes, which were filled with tears, and nodded as a sign to tell her to go.

"Sam!" she cried. "You can't do this to me!"

"It'll be all right," he repeated. "Now let go of me and get out of here!"

Bawling, Leila rushed towards the stairs and ran down them, cautiously, towards the front door. Samuel only heard a loud slam after that, followed by a sharp crack.

"I go by the name of Spike," the man said. "Mario and I go way back. Did you have any trouble finding this place?"

"None at all."

"Is that it?" he asked, eyeing the briefcase.

"How long is this going to take? I really don't like leaving her out there alone."

Spike turned around and began walking towards the room with the flashing lights. Samuel followed until they were in a very dark room filled with tables with computers on them. People sat in front of each computer, staring silently at the screen. "This is our headquarters. We're stealing power and Internet connectivity from the skyscraper above us. Five years ago we worked for Mario, but our organization spread across the nation like wildfire and Mario placed the control in my hands. He gave us a job here and there, but for the most part, we were completely separated from him. That is, until we discovered that chip in your hands."

"How?"

"Obviously we couldn't get it ourselves, but we discovered a back door to some pretty dark government files. We found out the information regarding that chip, but there was no way we could get our hands on it. I mean, look at us. There's Fatty," he said pointing to a rather obese man sitting uncomfortably on a chair in front of his computer, "who couldn't run a mile without having at least three heart attacks. Then there's Missy," pointing towards the only female, who wore thick round glasses and a trench coat, "who recently quit smoking, but still can't run." He continued to point out the people in the room until he got to himself. "Then there's me, Spike, the leader of this underground. I broke both of my legs on my last mission with Mario Cocopelli. I can't run at all. So you see, none of us are exactly capable of breaking into a secure building."

"So you had Mr. Cocopelli take care of it?"

"Not quite. We asked for his help, but he tricked some female robot named Selvi into getting it for him. She got it, but no one has heard from her since. Apparently it took an entire army of criminals to get their hands on that chip."

"Well, that explains why he wouldn't keep it for himself."

"It's a fair deal. We pay him a hefty sum, then we gain access to all the money we could ever need. You see, Samuel, it's not about the money though. Those bastards on the upper level are getting better and better with their security systems. I could put a stop to some of the worse ones by simply thinking about it. Without being able to access them, the free citizens of the world are left without knowing what the corporations or the government are doing."

Samuel nodded.

"It's about the hacking, Sam. We love the sport of it. But these security systems are preventing hacking from being a sport anymore. They're trying to turn it into war by finding out where we are and killing us. Then all they do is delete our identities and make it look as if we never even existed. We want to give them hell this time and regain the upper hand before they start discovering places like these."

"Well then, shall we make this exchange? Thirty billion credits for the chip, correct?"

"Of course, of course," Spike assured him with a smile. Samuel lifted the briefcase for Spike to hold, but Spike pushed it back down. "Not so fast. I said it would be a week or two before we head to the upper city. Now, the last thing I would want is to screw up a deal with the man himself, Mario. You aren't going anywhere."

Samuel glared at Spike and shook his head, "No, the deal was that I give this to you, you hand over the credits, and we go our separate ways."

"How much time did Cocopelli spend on explaining this to you?"

"He just handed me the briefcase, explained what it did, and told me where to go and how much to ask for."

Spike smirked, and then burst into laughter. "I love that man! Did he explain it to you saying 'you put the chip into your brain'?"

"Yeah, I suppose so. I don't quite remember."

"Sam, Sam, Sam. How long have you been working for Mario?"

"Seven, probably eight years."

Spike placed his hand on Sam's shoulder, trying not to laugh. "Then you of all people should know of his trickery. I bet you were in debt to him too, weren't you? Let me guess, the day you met him, you were in a restaurant and he sat down at your table and offered a little job. You took it, lost the merchandise, and he practically owned you since then, giving menial delivery jobs until you paid it off."

"That's... exactly how it happened."

"His men stole the merchandise, Sam. He didn't lose a tenth of a credit on you. He's doing the same damn thing here. Only this time it is slightly different. You see, you were going to be the test subject for this chip. Now, our surgeons upstairs are pretty good, but they never get things right the first time. We can't risk losing one of ours. But we and Mario are willing to risk someone ready to retire for this. However, if all goes well, you'll survive and get twenty percent, and you'll be done with Mario forever."

Sam gripped the briefcase and began to back away.

"What other choice do you have, Sam? Are you going to run back to Mario and give him the case, only to be stuck working for him for the rest of your life? Are you going to run off, hiding from Mario, only to be tracked down and turned into one of his slaves? Or are you going to risk your life for something that could be great?"


Leila stepped outside and hid the credits in her pocket. She held the gun in her hand as she stepped onto the sidewalk. Suddenly, she noticed that the cab was gone. It was silent, save for the humming sounds of the power generators above the slums. But there was another sound. Footsteps were growing louder every second, and she knew someone was coming her way. But the sound seemed to come from every direction. "Stay away from me!" she yelled, lifting the gun up in the air with both of her hands. "I'm not afraid to use this!" she cried as her hands shook.

To be continued... Next week!