Longevity Chapter 4: 2100
There is Nothing Wrong With Ahsoka
Case in point:
Longevity Chapter 4: 2100
The war raged outside as I stayed indoors and away from windows. I didn't look a day over fifty, but I felt every year of age that I was that day. I sat, eating takeout, the cartons and containers of which were scattered about my darkened one-bedroom apartment. Only the light from the video wall illuminated anything. It reflected in my glasses the devastation that lay outside.
Everything was on fire. Everything smoked and burned and shriveled. Outside, low robot fliers made deliveries to shut-ins on small hoverbikes that whipped in and out of the remains of the buildings. One zipped by my window and waved at me. That was the signal that the coast was clear. It was safe to go outside for a while, but I could still hear them in the distance making their steps forward. Large military walkers towered over the skyline and took steps across the landscape with giant iron feet that swung in the air a good half mile before they landed again, either smashing a car flat or creating a small crater that would fill up with frogs and water after the next rainfall.
I passed a portrait of my family on the wall next to my front door. The glass was cracked as if from a fist punch, and it hung there at a slight angle. I straightened it on its nail and rubbed what was left of the glass with a hand covered in a fingerless glove.
I stepped through the door and looked out across the field and at what was left of the interstate that I could see from my apartment. Out in the hazy distance stood one walker. Five giant legs carried a disk-shaped body aloft. Sitting atop the disk were two heads that craned around, each one crewed by several people. There was a driver seated in a separate command post lower down where they guided the walker around, but the crews in the two heads had slightly different duties. Each head and some walkers had four, would have a captain, a scanner, and a weapons officer. The scanner used piercing equipment to scan the area for offenders, and the weapons officer, well, they were there to destroy those targets.
These days, everyone had their apartments lined with aluminum foil, and whatever else it took to jam the signals. This method continued to change, and every once in a while they'd alter the walkers and target differently, and you'd have to redecorate all over again.
I wrapped a blanket around myself and stood there. The city was on fire, but the weather was still bitter. It had gotten progressively colder over the last twenty years. Before long, I figure they'd all be hiking across the ice every day. It was probably time to go south, to pack up. This old apartment had served for a long time, but it was hardly a house anymore.
The smoke was clearing in the distance, and the hoverbikes were coming out more and more often. Some of them were already zipping through the trees below me. The streets were useless and destroyed. If you wanted to get anywhere, it was hover bikes, cars, and the big walkers. The roads were destroyed through neglect or stomped into a pock-marked wasteland by the walkers, so it was getting up off the ground with a hover bike or hike, and that wasn't safe because of the coyotes. Sick with rabies and various stages of radiation sickness, a bite from one of them, and, well, you wanted to stay off the ground if you wanted to live.
I turned the knob and went back in. The video wall was giving me totals and counts of all the offenders 'rectified' in the area over the last twenty-four hours. It was a series of pictures next to lists of crimes and bomb camera video of their houses and apartment buildings being destroyed in high definition resolution.
A picture appeared on the bottom right of the wall. It was a scrambled channel that only came up when the walkers had gotten far enough away that they couldn't detect it. Merely having a connection to the channel was an immediate death sentence for the walkers.
A woman's face lit up on the screen. She had wind-blown red hair, an eye patch, and a skin-tight leather outfit on. "Calling all freedom fighters, can you hear me?" she said.
I put on a small headset that fits into my ear, the possession of which was also an immediate death sentence, an order for condemnation and destruction of his entire building with me in it. I tapped a small triangular button now at his ear, and a small spherical camera floated up from its accustomed place on the shelf and floated over to me. As if it were a person, I looked at it.
"I'm here," I said.
"Good, Andersen. Nice to have you with us. I thought we'd lost you during that last raid."
"I thought I was dead, too. Thank you. It's good to be alive."
"We need you on the move."
"This place isn't safe anymore?"
"Not just that. Your orders have changed. It's no longer a role of observation. We're moving as many of our forces to Old Mexico as possible, and you're next on the list."
A list of names appeared on the display. Additional people were on the call.
"All of you coming online, that's good to see," she said. "We're moving to Old Mexico. It's time to get everything together before they do another sweep."
"But it looks like the walker is still heading south," I said.
"We've got someone inside, a small team actually, and they report the walker is about to double back."
"But they never..."
"We know. They are changing their tactics again." Pretty soon, they are going to be within range, and we'll have to cut the signal off again. We need you to gather your essential kit and get on a hoverbike as quickly as you can. We're going to meet at the old baseball stadium by the river, and go from there.”
The picture fizzled out, and then she appeared again, but she was looking the wrong way. She turned back again.
"They're on the way. It'll take them half an hour to turn the walker around. At least that's in our favor. Now go. We'll see you there."
She fizzled one last time, and I was left with the compulsory wall of death, facing him again. If only he could turn the channel on it, but it was fixed.
On the table near the kitchen was a birthday cake, with a plastic 100 on top of it. I didn't feel a day over thirty-five or forty, but it was my hundredth birthday today. I passed the leftover cake, which I'd largely eaten by myself without another thought, and went to the bathroom, into my bedroom, and then into the closet. In there, I rummaged through my clothes, pulled down shirt after shirt, looking, then just pulled down the entire bar and let everything fall to the floor. Behind it, was a small alcove cut into the wall, a crack in the sheetrock. I picked at it with my fingers and a crack split down. Another pull and I pulled a fist-sized chunk from the wall and threw it into the clothes. More wall, more mess, and I'd pulled free a large hole. I reached in, pulled out a medium-sized backpack, and put it on. It was already packed. I reached in again, and pulled out a motorcycle helmet, a rifle, already loaded, and a pair of thick boots.
I pulled them on.
I left the apartment with my rifle under one arm, and my helmet in the other, and holding the rifle under my arm, I locked the apartment with a little copper key and looked out the back of the stairwell. There was a sheer drop of about fifty feet off the back of the apartment complex. I reached out with the keys and activated a button on one of the key fobs.
There was a roar of an engine underneath him, and then it calmed down to a small whispering growl, and the hoverbike floated out from underneath the stairwell.