Run and Gun

Neo Reno, once a crusty hunk of rock orbiting a blue star, glittered with decadence.

It was everything Las Vegas of Earth endeavoured towards, but could never become. It was the resort center of corrupt politicians seeking to lay down their lying smiles to rest and of the skewed celebrities who could afford to trash hotel rooms day after day. The place bristled with large men wearing immaculate two piece suits who murmured to themselves, their eyes losing focus as they accessed security networks. The bodyguards numbered from two to four for every personality that docked.

This world would burn. He had made sure of that for over two years. Spending the day as the placid banker, passively and dumbly crunching numbers, he moonlighted as a vigilante, surely, patiently outfitting the small planetoid with a network of explosives. Components of his gun came in the spacetransit mail, unobtrusive miscellanies, which he constructed with painstaking detail and patience; grinning through cigar smoke, he had clicked in the last piece and made the final adjustments to the teleportation mechanism last night. He was itching for action. He was sick of the rich sonsabitches. He would go out with a bang.

His legs blurred as he moved inexorably towards the center of the city, leaping over scorched vehicles, grappling the sides of structures, hurtling the chasms between buildings, his gun pouring burning casings which made his biceps sing with delicious pain. The clatter of his gun and the soft jangle of casings falling hotly to the asphalt was the lullaby with which he put his enemies to sleep. A seasoned veteran of war torn tours, Mack Razer sucked on his cigar and did what he did best, killing. His cannon, the model Infinity Series no. 2, housing a miniature teleportation device that fed ammo from a 100 square kilometer warehouse facility several light years away, provided the illusion of limitless firepower. It was a ballet of bullets, a danse macabre, its rapt audience also unwilling participants.

He had to begin ahead of schedule. A routine infrastructure search, which he normally subverted with faulty paperwork, turned up one of his projects and investigations were pending. He didn’t mind. He missed killing. It would not be apparent to the outside observer, but he was prudent, even thrifty, with his bullet count; each shot served a purpose. He dialed the Infinity into scatter-shot and swarmed with pleasure with the maximum destruction he rained down with every satisfying thud! of a trigger pull. They shot at him. He turned them into pink mist. They tried smiling at him through weasel words. His bullets chipped teeth and painted the walls with bone and gristle. They tried to reason with him, waving great briefcases leaking currency. He burned them with napalm from his very special gun. Then they tried harder to shoot him. He drew a swath of pain and destruction through great many blocks, and the blood ran between the burning cars. His objective loomed ahead, an giant erection that stabbed the horizon.

It now towered above him and he found the time to glance at his chronometer. He had to hurry. His carefully engineered act of terrorism was set to go off in minutes. His hands blurred into his vest and whipped behind his back as he plunged into the hatch. Napalm mines. They would buy him some time. Dull concussions rocked the ship. He programmed coordinates that would bring him to a geosynchronous orbit just outside the blast radius. Just a minute before it was ready to go. Fucking standard warm up procedures! Too bad it wasn’t fitted with interstellar drives. He could have taken it out-system.

He looked at the chronometer again and checked the onboard system. Shit. The exterior cameras showed soldiers with rocket launchers. His escape would be cut off. What the hell, he liked dramatic exits. He set the ship to autopilot and burst out of the ship, unsheathing the ceramic samurai sword he had stolen from the corpse of the Japanese Ambassador—who had no bodyguards and put up a hell of a fight—and jammed it hilt deep into the ship’s hull. He strafed the thin lines of vapor that streaked his way into a chain of distant firecracker light, all the while idly admiring the ruin he had visited upon the city. A dull shudder groaned in his bones, and he laughed as he squeezed a final victorious burst, grabbing the sword.

The rocked evicted New Reno with a slow urgency on a trail of blue plasma and he dangled from its hull spitting warm red-orange fires like a baby comet. His skull grinned through his flesh and his gun melted away into ball lightning. He was still laughing, his vocal cords vibrating with the heat of escape velocity. He needed to lose some weight anyways. He was getting fat from pushing cash.

His body was a cocktail of nanomachines: the skin was capable of withstanding great extremes of temperature and was covered with an organism that protected against immersion or vacuum; the bones were nanoceramics, flexible with rigid strength, and if a juggernaut of a force should splinter bone, it self-repaired; its organs self regulated, and although its default was homeostasis, their processes could be consciously controlled; muscles were nanostructures which allowed for extrahuman strength and performance; the respiratory system consisted of standard absorption from the atmosphere, but if sources of oxygen were cut off, the lungs would manufacture oxygen from the water in the body, or the skin from the environment; food sources were standard as well, with an emphasis on protein consumption, and as was the case with the lungs, the body would use remaining tissues to provide nutrition. He regenerated limbs and organs at a rate that was proportional to the supply of raw materials. In effect, he was almost immortal. If worse came to worse, he would just shrivel up like the ancient Pharaohs, only he would wake up after the end. They could just cut out his brain and throw him into a new body if there wasn’t time for regeneration.

With his remaining eye he watched a white hot bloom erupt from the core of New Reno with tranquil grace, then fade into a dusky pink swirl. He felt like Rembrandt. It was not his masterpiece, but it wasn’t too bad. He was rather proud. He had decided not to go into the ship. He felt cooped up these days. Two years in one place was too long, dammit! Besides, although he had a helluva lot of beans and broccoli for dinner the previous night, he hadn’t accumulated enough intestinal gas to break inertia. He shrugged, stretched out in the vacuum and crossed his arms under his head, content to merely drift. His superiors had his signal, and would be along.

He closed his eyes.

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3 responses to “Run and Gun

  1. “ballet of bullets, painted the walls with bone and gristle” somehow i like this even though it is far from what i usually like. very poetic wording for something I don’t necessarily view poetic, at least initially. put off by violence as a gut reaction, but…maybe it is poetic…

  2. There’s a visceral beauty in violence, and a gentle elegance in love. But, all in all, it’s just a mess of words, and words are dangerously magical in that they can turn such an ugly thing beautiful or a magnificent thing repulsive.

    Words sketch the reality because words and the voice that utters always exists after the event… it’s always in the past.

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