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HYPERION

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El Zilcho
  • El Zilcho

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#1

Posted 28 April 2012 - 07:47 PM

HYPERION

I

The podtrain shuddered slightly as it dropped in speed from 700 MPH to 130. Deceleration was noticeable in the pit of one's stomach, the inertia dissipating only after seconds of distinct awkwardness. Outside, the smog choked, tightly stacked slums and freezing tenements of the Undercity and Industrial had long given way to the sleek, surgical pylons and monoliths of the Upper Strata. Rarely glimpsed by the downtrodden 90%, this panorama was the reserve of the upper middle class, those who cooperated and betrayed. And yet, further the podtrain soared, clearing even the Celestial Dome of smooth artificial blue, its turrets and observation decks crowded with security and Augments - it was now breaching into the fabled opulence and tranquillity of the Conglomerate's private holdings. The heady heights of mythical power and advancement, isolated from the sprawling masses like fire without a Prometheus. It was unmatched in its majesty, thousands of towering skyscrapers, dazzling in their architecture and ostentatiousness. It was Hyperion.

"All personal items are to be surrendered at Securecen. Prepare for Inspection." A chilling, monotone tannoy announced this instruction impersonally and bluntly. Farrow sat in awe of the images that were scrawling outside the podtrain's window - vivid marble statues 50ft high, polished silver store-fronts and even the premium Fresh Air so many had spoken about. The only thing this paradise shared with the lower levels were the transport and traffic signs, as well as the familiar official Conglomerate brands that permeated even the depths of Orbis' underworld. Before he could be overwhelmed any further, the train dropped to a stop at a darkened tunnel. Within seconds the entry had been swamped by 10 members of the Odin Order, their masks separating them from humanity; assault rifles with the skull and fire insignia separating them from the unarmed aboard the train. It was important to stamp out any dissidence immediately, particularly with recent unrest.

"Welcome. Please step into the Inspection booths situated across from the entry points." Farrow was taken aback by the politeness of the terrifying guards, red eyepieces twitching behind the mesh goggles. This feeling was only momentary, as he soon remembered the purpose of his excursion. Manners were to be expected. His inspection was quick and painless, the scanners almost unnoticeable; nothing like the typical gauntlet of Undercity to Midlevel inspections, fraught with physical and psychological humiliations, invasive and haunting probes, usually uncleaned. Farrow's stomach turned at the ease of which these non-invasive methods could be implemented lower down the City, yet weren't. He parted ways with his keys, tracker and tickets before passing through the clinical booth unscathed.

Within minutes Farrow was escorted out of the landing pads and TravelPort, past milling Conglomerate executives, their faces agape with astonishment and outrage that a Serf was in their midst; before being bundled hurriedly into an elevator. His presence risked inciting a riot it seemed. The Odin Guard left him in tense silence as the machine whizzed him onto the efficient track system, tearing him like a newborn away from the blood and crudeness of what he'd left behind. Finally, he arrived at the Sanctum.

His entrance had been prepared for him with special attention to detail. The Conglomerate were harsh masters, but in those whose special abilities they required, they could offer the greatest rewards hedonism could offer. Farrow's path down the platinum and crystal stairway was flanked by white walls, adorned with photographs, labelled "to our loyal customers". Pictures of the Aquilan housing, Aquilan vehicles, Aquilan food. Never before tasted by the Serfs of the Undercity; a distant mystery, reserve of the oppressors. Farrow nearly had to stop completely to fully observe the illustrations of Golden Passes, free Inoculations and the much sought after Zeitach and Orba Accommodations.

After a few moments of slowly soaking in the ambience of aristocracy, Farrow was at last ushered into the office he'd been travelling to by the huge Guards of Oa. Across a gargantuan office of sparkling egg shell white stone, obsidian flooring and wall portraits gilded in gold, sat the Superintendent. Farrow felt under-dressed in his fatigues, stained slightly by the soot of home.

"Sit, please." The Superintendent of 'Byzantine' wore a suit of impeccable tailoring, his age creeping across his face with frightening pace. Rather than the gods they were made out to be, the Superintendent came across to Farrow as an everyday human, just as human as an Undercitier (or even a resident of Qal). No Olympic stature, no chiselled looks or resonance in his voice. Just a man in his mid 50s, a man of great manipulative skill and personal corruption.

"Thank you, your Excellency." Farrow stepped the thin line between respect and grovelling.

"I understand this must all be very daunting for you." Byzantine smiled thinly, his eyes quietly dismantling the soul of the Serf who dared to sit at his 15ft desk. "But there is no need for my title. Not many of your type are allowed to gaze upon such unadulterated magnificence, but I wish to discuss this in a grounded way. With any luck, you'll be one of us soon." He spoke with confidence. He could afford to. "You have a real chance to be a part of our Pantheon." The last word sent a shiver down Farrow's back.

"Yes sir, thank you." Farrow felt unease at the hugeness of his undertaking. Byzantine picked up on his weakness like a vulture, and beak snapping venomously, he pushed home the impetus of the meeting.

"This man's work," Byzantine flicked a switch, darkening the room to reveal the insignia of Pericles sprayed onto a brown brick wall. "I understand, is well known to you." Farrow nodded. "He is well enough known to you, and you are of such good breeding," Byzantine had an inner chuckle at that flattering lie. Always a good idea to bring out every tactic he could on his workers "that we are entrusting you with his demise." The image changed to a video feed of Qal and lower Hajat. Thousands of people were clambering and tearing their way through the riot police and Overwatch. In the darkness of the synthetically lit Lowest Levels, it was apparent to all that the peasants were in revolt. Farrow watched in silence, unsure how to comment. Flames licked the cubical Accommodation Complexes, and APCs laid dormant, smouldering as the mob convulsed with fury. Pouring and diffusing, they spread like a virus. Block after block was that way, air support all that stood between the millions of enraged and total dominance on the foundations of Orbis herself.

"These scum aren't content with what we provide. They are intent to corrupt the beauty of the system we've upheld for millennia, they know only entropy! I care little with their motives, or whether you sympathise with their plight; everyone has their price. As do you. I'm offering you and your family, including any and all of their descendants, permanent places here. Permanent." Farrow shuddered at the possibility. It was becoming a habit.

"If you bring me Pericles, dead or alive, you'll be rewarded with every depravity you can name, any past time you can imagine, every luxury you can dream of. Your brother works with him. You can get inside the inner circle, and help me quell the cancer that is tearing up our Grand World Order from the inside. His little house of cards won't stand once you've plucked out the King." Farrow nodded.

"I will find him." Determination hid Farrow's slight sympathies with Pericles. The prize was too great for him to remain principled. He was only human, after all. Humans aren't Gods.

"Good." Byzantine smiled, a snake in a suit, satisfied that his circus had bought over the peasant from Block 88. "Your home is but 2 levels above the rabble. Who knows what damage they could wreak, unchecked. You aren't oppressing, but maintaining. Maintaining a status quo that will reward you so grandly that no one who shares their name with you will ever go hungry." Farrow nodded again, this time staring Byzantine in the eyes. The Superintendent pushed a single sheet of paper forward to Farrow, almost struggling with the size of the immense desk he sat behind. The Contract.

"In signing this, you waive the right to any mercy. The cost of failure, or betrayal, will be returned upon you tenfold. There shouldn't be any doubt in your mind that serving us, yourself and those you love, is the easiest choice you'll ever have to make."

"My mind was made up long ago, sir." Farrow lifted the black pen to the paper, signing with his signature and tracker number. Laying his utensil down, he sat back, a tide of adrenalin drowning him. He felt like Atlas heaving a world of torment upon his previously light shoulders.

"I'll give you an entire day to enjoy the services we can provide to you. A taster, so to speak. Tomorrow you are going to Qal. You'll be briefed fully then." Byzantine sat back, gesturing to the side door. Farrow thanked him, before standing and leaving. Upon exiting the Sanctum he found himself in the streets of Hyperion. Thinly populated with the genetically engineered elite of society, he found it hard to soak in any sights without again attracting attention as a Serf. As one of them. He retreated to his designated quarters in Zeitach, the most grandiose sight he'd ever laid eyes upon. His room was massive, received all 6,000 channels and was fully integrated into even the exclusive and PPP sections of the Orb. Panel windows looked out upon a huge city veranda. The view was of the monolithic Conglomerate buildings, the swarming air fleets above the Dome. And the stars - the stars Farrow had never seen before.

As he prepared for a night of sleep in the largest and most comfortable bed he'd ever laid upon, the door bell rang. Behind it stood a selection of 25 gorgeous women in the service of the Conglomerate. Scantily clad, of course. It was a most immediate and lasting impression of just how seriously they took their friends, and vested interests. Farrow slept a lot later than he was expecting...

SIKKS66
  • SIKKS66

    The Number of the Beast

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#2

Posted 29 April 2012 - 08:31 PM

Amazing stuff. You've created a very vivid world in your mind and I look forward to reading more about it. A few observations:

1. The city/nation (?) of Hyperion reminds me a lot of Midgar in Final Fantasy 7. Skyscrapers atop this huge domed world, the "peasantry" below in their slums. Doubt you got the idea from there but it reminded me of that nonetheless.

2. Confused for a second there at the end. Farrow boning all the courtesans at the end, while the Superintendent earlier talked of Farrow's "family" being taken care of. I assume this is a hypothetical family in the future? Or is adultery okay in Hyperion's society? Maybe Farrow just doesn't care. Seems like a guy who enjoys danger.

3. The whole frisking and searching business at the start (and how it's now commonplace and accepted in Hyperion society) reminded me of issues we are now facing in contemporary society. If that was intentional, bravo sir. Very impressed.

4. Throwing a whole lot of names and places and things at us (Securecen, Conglomerate, Zeitach and Orba Accommodations etc) was a bit daunting at first. Less would be more here perhaps, slowly introducing things when necessary to a plot point/something Farrow is actually doing etc. For example, I loved the description of the Odin Order, made what could have been a passing reference into something very vivid in my mind. (For the record, I do not trust them f*ckers already).

I'll add more as it comes to me but so far let me say I very much enjoyed it. Keep up the great work El Zilcho smile.gif

El Zilcho
  • El Zilcho

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#3

Posted 29 April 2012 - 08:40 PM

Thanks a lot for the response. I'm glad you liked it, now it's a case of me keeping up the motivation to write more in exam season tounge.gif

2. Farrow's family is referring to his extended family, as well as his parents. Adultery is probably quite common in the morally degraded upper echelons, less so further down I'd say.

3. Thank you! I'm thrilled you picked up on that; anyone attempting to move up is forced into painful decisions and encounters, kept marginalised down below. The powers that be can easily reduce the difficulties but refuse to in order to command the hugely overpopulated lower districts.

4. The Order should crop up a little more. Keep your eyes peeled wink.gif

El Zilcho
  • El Zilcho

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  • Joined: 14 May 2008
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#4

Posted 28 June 2012 - 05:42 PM Edited by El Zilcho, 02 April 2013 - 04:33 PM.

HYPERION

II

The ambient buzz of Hyperion caressed Farrow to consciousness gently, as the warmth of morning light spilled across the suite. His breakfast was (again a first in his life) unsynthesised and varied, with luxurious and excessive quantities being the order of the day. Thoroughly satisfied, Farrow roused himself to action. An appointment was to be kept. In a slight rush, he found the uniform he’d been instructed to wear, draped across the touch panel dresser display; and in finding it, his first doubt was stirred.

Overwatch’s insignia stared back at him mockingly. The castle turret surrounded by black laurels, had for so very long been the very embodiment of plebeian oppression by Hyperion’s upper strata. Beating quotas, gassings and shootings had always been so amply summed up by the minimalistic and inhumane logo of Orbis’ law enforcement – Overwatch’s attitudes of elitist violence matched by their arrogant intransigence. They stared down from above, permeated every aspect of life and crushed every hint of individualism. Farrow was about to wear what he’d grown and learned to hate from birth; subscribing to the system he’d despised. His about face had never been so traitorous, until it was spelt out for him in stark imagery.

For all its symbolism, the uniform was comfortable and well fitting. Byzantine had made certain every detail was assured and customised for Farrow – threat and reward, carrot and stick would be utilised to bring about lowly Farrow’s transformation to tool of the state. Heeled guard dog. Putting these jarring thoughts out of mind, he departed for the Celestial Dome. His trip down was quiet; the podtrain had him there within 5 minutes and in little hassle, once more an antithesis to the horrific and frequently dangerous public transport of Qal and the Undercity. The Dome itself was the imposing roof of Orbis which overlooked those districts; above lay Hyperion, below the masses, suppressed by the Dome’s grinding war machinery and surveillance network. Swarming with soldiers of the state, it was the hub of Hyperion’s defence. And very deliberately, it was as high as the unprivileged could see.

Farrow’s tracker directed him swiftly to the minimalist briefing office, which overlooked the expanse below through a circular observation window. Even the more Patrician Midlevelers were nothing but ants from up here, tagged and watched with obsessive fear by their colleagues. It was ironic, that despite their collaboration to reach the Midlevel from the Undercity, they were persecuted like any other pleb. They were willing consumers of the waste the Conglomerate shovelled them.

“This way sir.” Farrow was directed to his seat by a female officer, who then left briskly, closing the imposingly tall door behind him. In the dimly lit corner, a figure swivelled around to face Farrow. It would be his superior in this operation, Commander Valos . The man cut to the chase with no introduction. It wasn't needed; they'd both been briefed.

“You’re incredibly lucky to be offered this position. I don’t envy you for the cheating ease with which it has been afforded to you, but I don’t respect you for it either. My family worked for 4 generations before I could even think about joining Overwatch; I’m not doing you any favours. The Conglomerate, in their infinite wisdom, is using you,” this last sentence was tinged with undertones of humour “because your brother works with Pericles. In a sense, you’re here because your family are rats. By virtue of being scum, you’re receiving a short cut into something not even I could reach.” Valos paused for a moment, his scolding burning into Farrow mercilessly. There was no response.

"It is my job to help you infiltrate Pericles' inner circle, eliminate him and help you get out. I don’t have to like you, and if I don’t, it is at least your right to know that. I may be wrong about you, but for now, I see a failure of our system before me. You may retort, if you like.” Valos leaned forward, so that his thin but defined face was fully exposed in the light, the first time Farrow had seen him properly throughout his monologue. Feeling stunned by the sharpness of his words, Farrow felt his chance to speak openly should be taken.

“With all due respect sir, you’re here because your family was willing to fight for a cause. So is mine; except that their cause is irreconcilable with ours. I don’t represent the sins of my father, or those of my brother. If I did, I wouldn’t be here. So I’d appreciate it if you didn’t judge me from such a morally superior standpoint, sir.”

“We shall see. For now you should appreciate your objectives and my orders, nothing more.” The tension was high, but both men had (whether or not they’d admit it) some understanding of the other now. Respect, no. But comprehension through honesty, yes.

“We leave for Qal tonight. I understand you have experience as a Civil Watchmen, so training is unnecessary. Once we arrive, we shall, along with a squad of troops, defect to the rebellious bands down below. I will direct you, as we will inevitably have to kill some of the disposable soldiers in our midst to provide a convincing appearance as defectors. If you object with that, leave now.” Valos struck Farrow with another uncompromising look, cold and stern as granite.

“No.”

“Good. Rest assured the virtuous won’t be among them.” Valos’ attempt at reassurance reeked of hypocrisy, as did the whole operation. Farrow swallowed disgust with quiet contempt. “We’ll be taking with us low level communication codes for Securecen so that we don’t surrender empty handed, and we keep our uniforms on. Smuggling ourselves in won’t work. An inside man has prepared our ‘defection’, so we drop in as soldiers, not spies.”

“I see. How will I communicate with my brother? I’m aware you’ve passed on my presence to them, but will they buy it? And I still don’t know how to find him, Pericles is always moving. I doubt we'll surrender to their high command.”

“Ha, that is your job, Farrow. For your sake, make sure they do buy it, and we do find them. Improvisation is what makes us exceptional at our job. I can only plan for our insertion.”

“You aren’t exactly helping. I was a watchmen, not a soldier.” Farrow stared back, holding his own.

“Pass judgement when you’re in Hyperion, whiz kid.” Valos stood suddenly and aggressively, internally startling the uncomfortable Farrow. He didn’t expect total antagonism this early, but that was all he'd received.

“Follow.” Both men then left the office, entering the launch point. Crowds of Odin and Overwatch milled around, several junior officers saluting Valos, who only wearily saluted back. Etiquette was falling beyond his reach after years of uptight service. Finally, after several flights of stairs and traversed hangars, they arrived at Jetty 359 – and their Ironclad transport. Jagged and imposing, it was another aesthetically relevant piece of Conglomerate design. When hovering above, there was never any doubt as to who was boss. It's burning red spool engines and gargling, tearing sound struck pure fear into the hearts of the masses. Quite deliberately rough around the edges. Aboard the beast were 13 of Overwatch’s finest young (and most disposable) officers, joined by the mismatched pair. Latching themselves in, they waited for a final address by Valos.

“Men, today will be a momentous one for all. You have prepared to the your very limits, made me proud in my leadership and in your growth as excellent servants of the Grand Order. All we have left are the fates. Do what you do best and we shall drive the Traitor into the ground, burn his menace from Orbis once and for all. And return to a heroes welcome. One I know you all deserve.” Farrow observed as Valos spoke, inspirational but with his meaning muted by his disregard for their lives. If only they knew.

“ARDOS!” came the booming response from each of them. With that, the engines started in unison and the Ironclad juddered up off the Jetty. Valos fastened in just in time, as the next moment the velocity exploded. As subtle as a hammer blow to the face. Jarred back into their seats, the men waited in discomfort as the Ironclad dived head first from the Dome, flying straight down into the Overwatch Transport Tributary, the spine of transport used exclusively for quick transport and efficient policing. Traffic tore by at terrifying speed, gravity and propulsion combining to plummet the transport at break neck speed through Orbis, descending each level with unnerving speed. Farrow clutched his seat in a futile effort to remain comfortable, casting his view momentarily to the Overwatchers' - all used of this sort of travel, considerably more poised but undoubtedly putting on a front nonetheless. No one could be that calm truthfully. Farrow felt as if his very bones were being shaken to dust.

Just as the Ironclad cleared the middle reaches of the Undercity, shots were heard. They began to shatter against the armoured exterior, sending a wave of shock through the seating area. It was deafening, heard even over the whooshing of air around the bay.

"What the -?" Valos began, cut off by the pilots announcement over the tannoy;

"Hold steady, we're taking fire. It's going to get tough." Not even in Qal yet, and all hell was breaking loose. It had to be a coordinated revolt, with fire-power this concerted and accurate. It was also at least 5 levels higher up than the Superintendent had said - glaringly worrying. With each subsequent shot, the Ironclad was rocked like a ship at sea. Evasive manoeuvres seemed futile as the rebels zeroed in each time. The shock coils did very little to buffer the passengers from the intense Gs; within 30 seconds, Farrow's head was flushed into unconsciousness. Even Valos collapsed into a black out as they dropped into the stomach of Satan, fire and shrapnel clattering like raindrops upon the titanium exterior. The controls were locking up, and steering becoming more and more difficult as the Ironclad dropped into the darkness of the Industrial sectors. Just as a lull in fire began, a hole was shredded through the side of the bay. Pressure dropped, and around 4 men were torn away.

"I can't hold it!" All semblance of control was now gone, the pilots fighting a comedy of errors. The juddering vehicle careened ground ward, falling away from the tributary and toward the rioting masses below. It was now a case of levelling out the transport before they met with the ground at 500 MPH in a mess of twisted metal and blood.

It was going to get worse before it got better.




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