Welcome to the 8th installment to The Nothing’s Child. The world is nothing like we know anymore. Or something…
If you are new to how the links work, each section shows all the links for the specific section. Otherwise there is a link for the start of each section. It is easy to catch up to where we are now.
The tunnels, I heard of them but never found them. I used to think they were an urban legend. Of course, when you spend much of your time in the Net, you don’t have as much time to explore the crazy stories that are part of your city.
The city burned back in ’15. Ugly corp wars took out quite a bit of the city. The city we see now, that isn’t the first face of the city anymore. They rebuilt over the ashes. Much of the subway network remained intact. But there was a sub level besides just that. Legend had it that the underground claimed it for their own. Made it into a network of activity, a world within a world. Of course if you didn’t know how to get in, you would never find it. Secrets and legends are like that.
I followed Cutter down the rabbit hole. I know that sounds trite. But that best describes it. The path down as a hole in the basement floor of the club. There was a ladder down but it didn’t leave room for much more than that. The corp’s in their riot gear wouldn’t fit even on a good day.
It was dark at the bottom of the ladder. I’m not sure I can impress on you just how dark it was but I will try. Imagine being locked in the closet of a house with no power, in the middle of the night. Yeah, it was darker than that.
“You have eyes?” Cutter asked.
“The ones I was born with.”
“No enhancements? Damn, how do you survive?” She pressed something into my hand. “Put ‘em on, only way you gonna see down here.”
The world around me changed. I went from night blind to soft hues of red and blue. Cutter glowed bright red in front of me while the area around me took rough shapes from different temperatures.
“You can see?”
“Such as it is. Where the goggles from?”
“Don’t ask.” she said. “We need to get out of here. Let’s roll.”
Cutter lost patience with me as we traveled. It was easy to become lost in the new world of sight and sound. The goggles worked with cold and heat showing shapes in red and blue. Deeper blue to black was cold and coldest While pink and then red was hot and hottest. Colors in the under-caverns were irrelevant. Other than shades of blue and red.
She led me through the dark corridors into a building built down into the earth. The dwellers dug deeper tunnels from the originals. The caves were crude but they also had a warm quality to them like stepping into a family’s home.
A small group met us at the doorway, two men and a woman. “Back already,” one of the men said. “Who’s this?”
“There’s coppers looking for us,” Cutter said. “Something to do with the job we just did.”
“How they know it’s us?”
“Someone sold us out,” I said. “They already took out Kim Su. Greybunny and me, we been dodging them for the past couple days.”
“So they looking for you, or you sent ‘em to us,” he said. “Your surface problems have nothing to do with us.”
“They was in our bar,” Cutter said. Bright light filled the tunnel behind us. “They come now.”
“Take him inside. We take care of this.” He whistled three different notes. A group of five joined us from a tunnel off to the side. “Topsiders, show ‘em who we are.” The group raced down a side tunnel.
Cutter jabbed me in the ribs with her elbow then motioned for me to follow her. She took me through an archway into a smaller room. The dwellers avoided the use of light in their caves. Instead they relied on the goggles or cybernetically enhanced vision. Other than that the caves of their homes were similar to what you find topside.
The rooms that Cutter took me through were part of her and Volts home. Together they shared a space with three different rooms, sleeping quarters, living room, and kitchen. Waste removal was recycled, used for growing special moss that became part of their main diet, well that and cave rats. Simple existence but one that worked for them.
The dwellers formed their own military, each working to defend the community. Members of the community spent time topside to learn new battle techniques and earn money that they used to fund the items they did not produce themselves.
“How we know you aren’t the problem?” Cutter asked.
“You were on that team. They have been hunting down everyone involved,” I said. “Drake hasn’t resurfaced since the night of the run.”
“He hasn’t paid us yet,” she said. “He always pays.”
“Does the word bleuthor mean anything to you?”
“No, should it?”
“A message I picked up from Drake today that was all it said.”
“Volt might know,” she said. “Him and Drake were pretty tight.”
It was about an hour before the attack group returned. Volt stepped into the living room and dropped a riot helmet at our feet. “That should give them pause,” he said.
“Have much problem with topsiders here?” I asked.
“Only when we foolishly allow one into our homes.”
“They would find you eventually,” I said. “Took me less than a few hours.”
“Why are you here?”
“I am looking for answers. Drake disappeared, Kim Su is dead, and the rest of us are being hunted,” I said. “The news is saying that the run didn’t succeed.”
“I was there. We took it and got out. The whole thing was smooth.”
“I saw your every move through the cameras,” I said. “I even watched you leave. You were gone before I left the site.”
He paced the room. “Retaliation is expected. Part of the price of the run.”
“But why would they cover it up and claim that the runners were caught?” I asked. “You ever heard the term bleuthor?”
“You were new to working with Drake weren’t you?”
“He used that for coded messages through his teams. At least for long time runners.”
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