Your mind is filled with images of lightning as you try your best to think high-voltage thoughts. You shut your eyes tight and there's suddenly loud crunching noise- the buster's hammer-coated underside is eating away at the inside of the bunker.\nThe horrible sound leaves your mind momentarily blank. You open your eyes, and it's as if the metal monster's body is eating into the concrete dome. In minutes, it could be eating into everybody inside.\nShutting your eyes, you try again. You beg the bracers to fire- but it's to no avail. You're suddenly crying. You feel helpless, something you wished you'd [[never feel again]].
Ignoring the drones, you decide to help the rebels struggling with their energy cannon. You heft the metallic tube up from its rear, noting the long red wire that runs from the back of the cylinder deep into the roof. The man at the front of the cannon is now able to aim more easily, and the black-haired woman holding the cannon in the middle grunts her thanks as she pulls a lever on the underside. There's a whirring noise, and a bright orange flash that illuminates the smoky atmosphere.\n\n"Got one!" he shouts. "Keep it up, the ground troops are almo-" A flash of white light catches everybody's attention , and there's whirring noise that seems to be getting closer. Looking up, you realize that one of the helicopter drones is falling towards the roof.\n\nThe three of you drop the energy cannon- you feel like it might be a good idea to run back [[downstairs with the two rebels]].\nOn the other hand, you think that your [[bracers might come in handy]].
"Excellent work" comes a voice from the smoke. You're a bit dazed as the tall figure approaches, and your vision's a little fuzzy. You're almost sure that the acrid stink of burning machinery is slowly killing you as the figure grabs you by the hand and leads you down the stairs.\nThe two of you are soon sitting down at the bottom of the narrow staircase.\n"Miss Powton, we're very proud of you- do you know what you've done?"\nYour mind is a little clearer, and this tall stranger has handsome, chiseled features and dark hair that falls neatly; you try not to get distracted as you attempt to reply to him.\n"I ran to the roof and I... I'm not sure what."\n"I'll tell you what" he replies. "You saved lives. The drone that was about to fall on the roof, somehow you annihilated it with these" he says, tapping on the bracer around my left arm.\n"Well that's... Good." You suddenly feel incredibly lame- was that the best reply you could come up with?\n"You also raised morale. Somebody captured footage of you in action. What's going to happen tonight when everybody sees it?"\n"I'm not sure."\n"You'll be a hero, that's what. You look like you need some rest. Go get it."\nYou stand up and walk through the corridor back to the heart of the bunker. It's almost empty- almost everybody's out fighting.\nYour father is lying in a bed among the injured, apparently asleep.\nYou lie down on the bed beside him and think yourself to [[sleep]].
That word.. That word no... it's [[not right]]? That can't be it. It's a...\nYou're [[struggling to]] think straight.
You barely manage, but you manage to do it. [[You turn your head]], and there's a tall man, a slender man in dark clothes standing near you. He seems kind of familiar...
A small child is shaking your leg with one of his tiny hands. He shoves a plate into your hands and runs away. You soon realize that you're actually holding a shallow bowl with some sort of stew in it. A small piece of meat sticks out of brown liquid- it doesn't look all that pretty, but it smells delicious.\nYou stand up and walk to the group of wheeled hospital beds on the other side of the room to visit your father.\n\n"Hey dad" you say to the man sitting up in bed. Your father grins at you. "My Katie" he says, his voice a bit slurred, "Mr. Seer told me some things about you. You mastered these" he says waving one of the black bracers in front of you.\n\n"I guess you could say I got a handle on them."\n"Well I'm proud of you, you proved yourself again. They've got big plans for you, you know."\n"I know."\n"So... You feeling alright? I'm guessing you took some bumps and bruises."\nYou rub your back and realize that you have indeed taken on quite a few new pains.\n"Sit on the bed and a doctor will see you soon. Now they're going to ask you to do some... Things. You're a young woman now, Katie. I can't tell you what to do or what not to do." Your dad turns away from you and stares at the ceiling of the dome.\n"What I can tell you is to be careful. Don't take any unnecessary risks. They might ask you to take the lead on a mission. Just remember that when you risk your life, you risk the lives of those depending on you. And I haven't had you long enough to lose you." He turns back to look at you.\n"I love you."\nYou stare at the crowd of rebels milling about the bunker. There's adventure in the air- you can smell it mixed in with the stew on your plate which is quickly growing cold. You're going to chase that adventure one day. Tonight, though, is the night for stew.\n"I love you too, Dad."
“Ladies and gentlemen” Casey Seer announces over the bunker speaker system “I have good news. The government of Marconis has been defeated.”\n\nA deafening roar goes up from the crowd as people begin weeping, laughing, and jumping for joy- you feel a wave of pride sweep over you- along with a bit of dread. You watched as a new government swept away your filthy old one- but it doesn't seem particularly friendly.\n\n“There is a second announcement” he says solemnly.\n“Those who have overthrown the government are not our friends. They are extremely hostile, and our new enemy is the country of-” Casey's voice is drowned out by an explosion.\nYou're in a massive concrete dome-shaped bunker; it'll survive being besieged for a good long while.\n\nYour dad is here: he's been injured and is lying on an old-fashioned hospital bed with wheels.\n\nHe was in battle earlier and his wrist-mounted electrical weapons, a pair of simple black plastic cylinders that are worn on one's arms are now on yours.\n\nYou want to stay with your dad, but you're needed outside; a battle is raging. You can [[look around]], or you can head [[straight to the battle]].\n--------
When you get back to the shelter, there's a small group of rebels standing around a pile of deactivated ground troops near the entrance- some in better condition than others.\nYou explain that you found these people as the captives of ground troops.\nOne of the rebels thought something seemed wrong. "That's odd, why weren't they killed?"\n"We're valuable to the old government" says the old man. "This is my family, and we were wealthy. We've got a cache of materials in an undergound bunker much like the one ahead of us" he says, pointing at the shelter.\n"Can't they just break in?"\n"Only if they want to destroy the contents" replied the elderly woman.\nYou feel exhausted, but fulfilled- you saved lives, and you're now curious as to what exactly the old couple and their family own such great stores of as the lot of you re-enter the bunker.\nYour father is still lying in bed; you're going to see how he's doing when a tall, handsome stranger steps in front of you.\n"Miss Powton, a word?" His dark hair frames his smile perfectly- his eyes lock onto yours as he proceeds to question you.\n"...And that's when I destroyed the ground troops." You finish explaining how you rescued the family, and the handsome stranger grins.\n"You've got a good grip on those bracers. I didn't think they'd come in handy so soon after I made them." You're a bit surprised to meet the creator of such a formidable weapon.\n"Between you and me," he says, "I'm proud to see my invention came in handy so soon. I'll be seeing you someday, somewhere soon." With that, he walks away through one of the dome's numerous doors at the other end of the room.\nYou walk over to the odd cluster of beds and explain what happened to your father.\n"I'm glad you're alright, Katy." Your dad's smiling proudly.\n"I wish your mother could see you now."\nYou can't help but sigh; you wish she could be there to yell at you for taking a stupid risk as she probably would.\n"Just remember that she lives on" says your dad. "She lives on in your heart and in mine for as long as we remember her. When you give out and can't take another step, her memory will carry you."\nA din is slowly filling the room as more rebels make their way inside- you stare at the crowd. Some are injured, some are shaken, and some others seem scared.\nYou look back down at your father- he's fast asleep. You sit down on the bed next to his; a doctor will soon see to you.\nYou feel a momentary twinge of guilt- you could've easily killed the family of five with your bracers, and yet somehow, you managed not to electrocute them. Your mad efforts brought them to safety.\nIt's something you're grateful for as you lay back and stare at the dome's ceiling, wondering what tomorrow will bring.
You wake up and there's a crowd in the shelter once again- they're oddly quiet.\nDanvid's sitting at the end of your bed.\n"Well, good morning- or should I say evening." Your friend's sense of humor has never been lamer.\n"Now that you're up, I guess it's time." He waved his arms in the air, and the lights in the dome faded quickly.\nAn eerie silence hangs in the darkness for a few seconds. Then, the ceiling flickers with pure white light for a moment and suddenly, you're watching yourself. There you are- dirty blonde hair, arms in the air, eyes shut tight. The footage is a bit shaky, but stays trained on you as what appears to be a stream of pure white light emerges from your arms.\nThe crowd gasps as chunks of metal begin falling from the sky- most of the major ones seem to dodge you somehow.\nThe ceiling goes black as light slowly floods the room once more- everybody is staring at you lying in bed.\nYou turn your head and your father is lying in the bed next to you.\n"I'm proud of you, Katie."
The massive room is a lot emptier than when you left it- everybody's outside or on the roof.
You spend the rest of the afternoon resting in one of the chairs in the makeshift kitchen. The battles are, for the moment, over, and chefs are hard at work stirring fragrant fluids into grand silvery pots.\n\nYou doze off for a [[little while]].
Shutting your eyes tight, you aim your hands at the sky and try to think electrical thoughts. Nothing happens. You can hear the drone whirling closer. You could try [[one more time]], but it might be a better idea to go [[running back downstairs]].
[[About the Author]]\n[[Last Days of Marconis: Part 1|http://thestuffiread.blogspot.com/2011/05/last-days-of-marconis.html]]\n[[Start]]
"Excuse me, but you need to be more careful" you say to the stout redheaded rebel. You hate yourself for being so friendly.\n"Yeah, tell that to the guys who built this place. Anywhy, I'm-"\n"I think we have a situation on the ground, perhaps we should get moving." The man who was aiming the cannon interrupts- he the closeness of the corridor you can see his features a bit better: he's tall, and has a chiseled face, dark hair and a pair of eyes that seem to look right through you... Of course, you can't be distracted by his handsome features right now- this is war.\nYou manage to nod as he dashes down the corridor. You and the others follow him back to the [[heart of the bunker.]]
Deciding not to face down the beast, you make your way into the forest. After running for a good few minutes, you're greeted by a sight that curdles the contents of your stomach: a group of people with old-fashioned metal chains around their ankles are being dragged through the forest by ground troops, machines that look something like people, except that they're ten feet tall and heartless.\nSickened by the spectacle, you reflexively aim your arms at one of the machines and a bright white bolt of lightning rips through the forest.\nEnraged, you fire off a volley of bolts and soon, the ground troops all lie twitching on the forest floor. Each troop was shackled to a prisoner, and some of them are struggling to their feet.\nYou [[run over to help.]]
You bravely- foolishly- stand your ground as the drone falls from the sky. You hear a few panicked shouts all around as the thing lands directly behind you.\nYou feel a sudden warm sensation on your back and you're soon flying forwards, and after a moment, downwards. You're staring up into the sky as you hurtle towards the ground. The force of the explosion hurled you off the dome and now you fear death that is near.\nSuddenly, the wind is knocked [[out of you.]]
Last Days of Marconis Part II
The huge gray room is full of rebels running to and fro- plenty of them are heading through the door that leads to the stairs that go to the bunker's roof. The round walls have several bright red metal balconies protruding from them at various heights. The dome-shaped building's ceiling was covered in a glowing white paintlike substance that was powered by something in the air- you learned about during your days in the terrible Markoni Educational System, but you didn't remember quite how it worked...\n\nYour dad's bed is in the same area as a few other wounded rebels. One of them seems to be staring at you, and you nod at him. Then you realize that he's not staring at anything in particular; he's gone into shock.\n\nOn one end of the room, there's a group of tables covered in assorted mechanical scraps harvested from destroyed war machines. A team of rebels was usually hard at work hacking them into new devices and weapons.\n\nOn the other end of the room is a makeshift kitchen full of old-fashioned stoves. Piles of pots lie on the floor.\n\nIn the middle of the room is a miniature nuclear fusion reactor that's being used to power the heavy weaponry at the roof right now. It's a bulky gray cylinder that's about as tall as a man with a single control panel on its front.\n\nYou've seen enough of the room now and you're heading [[straight to the battle]].
Wearing your black electrical bracers, you run through a door at one end of the bunker. It leads to a narrow hallway and up a set of stairs; when you reach the top, you're standing atop the dome, and the curve seems a bit steeper than you remember... \n\nYou realize that the rebels are winning the battle against the flying drones. Through the din, you can make out bits of conversation and you soon understand that although the government of Marconis (or Markonis, depending on how you prefer to spell it) has for the most part been defeated, members of the mechanical military continue to march, and they're heading straight for the bunker.\nIt also seemed that the government of Paxcatia was part of the battle- you think that's who Mr. Seer was talking about before he was cut off by an explosion.\n\nThe sun will soon be setting, but it's still bright enough for you to see through the smoke; the scent of ozone hangs heavy in the air, and you can see the figures of rebels firing their heavy energy cannons at the ground.\nThere's a battle in the air between the Paxcatian helicopter-drones and the strange flying discs created by the Marconi government- you've only ever seen them at a distance, but now you have a chance to [[see how they work]].\n\nTwo rebels are struggling to use their cannon- you think you might be able to [[help them fight]].
"What happened? We don't have much time to talk" says a notably tall, handsome man in the hallway- this is no time to get distracted by his chiseled jaw and dark hair that's falling neatly across his- no time to get distracted, as this is war.\n"In short, while we were fighting our old government, Paxcatia decided to invade from across the great sea. Right now, we need to get back to the battle."\nYou follow him as he dashes down the corridor- he seems to be a nice guy. You and the others are now in the [[heart of the bunker.]]
The huge gray room is full of rebels running to and fro- plenty of them are heading through the door that leads to the stairs that go to the bunker's roof. The round walls have several bright red metal balconies protruding from them at various heights. The dome-shaped building's ceiling was covered in a glowing white paintlike substance that was powered by something in the air- you learned about during your days in the terrible Markoni Educational System, but you didn't remember quite how it worked...\n\nYour dad's bed is in the same area as a few other wounded rebels. One of them seems to be staring at you, and you nod at him. Then you realize that he's not staring at anything in particular; he's gone into shock.\n\nOn one end of the room, there's a group of tables covered in assorted mechanical scraps harvested from destroyed war machines. A team of rebels was usually hard at work hacking them into new devices and weapons.\n\nOn the other end of the room is a makeshift kitchen full of old-fashioned stoves. Piles of pots lie on the floor.\n\nIn the middle of the room is a miniature nuclear fusion reactor that's being used to power the heavy weaponry at the roof right now. It's a bulky gray cylinder that's about as tall as a man with a single control panel on its front.\n\nYou've seen enough of the room now and you're heading to the battle.
You take another little gasp, and you can feel the sharpness coming back. Your legs twitch a little. You struggle a little- and it's your hands. [[No, that's]] not what you want to move.
A moment suddenly overtakes your memory; it's of your early childhood. You're running across a beach when suddenly, there's a sharp pain in your right foot. You stumble onto your face and realize that there's a tiny spiny plant that's stuck in your foot. Your parents are in the water a good thirty feet ahead of you. You call out to them but your voice is small and the beach is huge.\nThey can't hear you.\nYou're completely helpless.\nFor a minute, you sit on the sand crying. They're not coming to help you.\nYou take a good look at your foot. Through your tear-clouded vision, you can see a small brown protrusion stick out of the sole of your foot.\nYou look back at the ocean. Your parents are still out there, not coming to help you.\nTiny spikes stab your finger as you clench your teeth and pull the nasty little plant out.\n\nYou remember how you never wanted to feel helpless again after that day.\nYou decide that you don't want to feel helpless [[now]].
You take a deep breath and put your hands up- and nothing happens. The helicopter drone is still falling.\n\nYou're desperate now and keep your hands in the air- the bracers aren't working. You close your eyes and prepare for the end. You think about things- about your old home and family... You miss your mom. It felt like it was only yesterday that you lost her... And yet, somehow, it feels distant.\nWelling up deep inside you, you feel your warm love and your loss being supplanted by something hotter, something angrier- something like raw hatred.\nYou're so angry you could scream, and when you open your eyes, you realize that you can't hear the helicopter drone falling out of the sky anymore- or much of anything else, for that matter. You're about to look up when you feel something smack your head and you're [[knocked unconscious]].\n
You turn your head to the left and you see your dad's bed- you try calling to him but your voice barely comes out- it's just a whisper. He's staring up at the ceiling. A teardrop is running down his cheek.\nYou try calling to him again, but you still only manage to whisper.\n"Good job, soldier" comes a voice at from your right. What you want is to... [[You turn your head]]... It feels so heavy, and you're [[struggling to lift]] it.
You take a deep breath and realize that you're sitting on top of a giant war machine.\nStaring at your arms, you notice your nearly forgotten bracers sitting pretty. Though it hurts, you manage to jump off the mechanical monstrosity with a little bit of your dignity and at least a few of your bones intact to the forest floor.\nYou run backwards a bit, aim your arms at the monster and think electrical thoughts. Nothing happens. You could [[try again]], or you could [[run back into the forest.]]
You feel the urge to fight... You try taking a deep breath, but it doesn't work.\n\nYou want to relax and be [[knocked unconscious]] by the anesthetic... Just a few more minutes of.. You're drifting... You want to take another [[deep breath]]... but to let yourself be [[knocked unconscious]] would be so much easier...
Everything is bed.. [[No]], that's [[not right]], everything is white, right?
You're a bit shocked, still, and after you gain your footing, you try asking who the guy who fell on you just who he is.\n"Wh- who are-" You barely stutter the words out when you're rudely interrupted.\n"We don't have much time- we need to get back to the fight. anybody who feels alright, should follow me back to the battle."\nYou were interrupted by the rebel who was aiming the cannon- in the closeness of the corridor you can see his features a bit better: he's tall, and has a chiseled face, dark hair and a pair of eyes that seem to look right through you... Of course, you can't be distracted by his handsome features right now- this is war.\nYou manage to nod as he dashes down the corridor. You and the others follow him back to the [[heart of the bunker.]]
You wake up in a bed- the whole world seems kind of fuzzy and soft around the edges. Your entire body is numb, and you soon realize that it's the fault of whatever cheap anesthetics are running through your system... [[It's all so soft...]]
Jourdan Cameron is a writer, pianist, Redditor, Wikipedian, aquarist, and a critic of various sorts who often refers to himself in the 3rd person in hopes of coming across as more official.\nHe runs a [[blog|http://thestuffiread.blogspot.com]] where he publishes chapters of a story about Paxcatia and Marconis, as well as the occasional book review.\n\nHis sister, Kassidy Cameron, has created [[an art blog of her own|http://skiddishart.blogspot.com]] in order to help her quadriplegic aunt- he proudly supports her.
You follow the two rebels, and a few other people follow you to the stairs. As you head down the stairs, you see somebody run down the stairs from the wrong direction- since there's no guard rail around what is essentially a hole in the domed roof that leads directly to the stairwell, this person lands on top of you and your group. Whoever it is feels pretty heavy- you think you might have broken a few bones. As you're falling down the stairs, you hear a massive crash above you and realize that the helicopter drone has fallen on the entrance.\nAfter a few moments lying at the bottom of the stairs, you feel everybody start moving again. It's kind of awkward, but the knot of people eventually untangles itself in the narrow hallway.\n\n"Everybody alright?" The stout rebel who fell on everybody asks. "Man, we've got to put a guard rail up there."\n\nYou have so many questions to ask- [[who are you?]] [[What happened?]] Some part of you just wants to shout something along the lines of [[pay attention idiot, you nearly got me killed!]]
You open your eyes and realize that you're staring at a stream of lightning coming from your arms. The bracers are working, and they're firing a stream of electricity into the buster.\nThe stream stops suddenly, and the tremendous body of the buster is lying still, draped across the dome like a metallic streamer.\n\nYou're exhausted as you limp around the dome seeking the entrance. You find the door ajar, and lying before it on the forest floor is a small pile of broken down ground troops, ready to be dissected for scraps.\nThe ten-foot tall robots look pitiful lying on top of one another.\n\nLeaning against the massive metal door is a tall, handsome rebel dressed in black. His dark messy hair framed his chiseled features- he's distractingly handsome.\n\n"Those bracers you're wearing" he says, "Did you use them just now? to stop the buster?"\nYou nod excitedly.\n"The name's Peak" says the stranger. "You could say I'm a higher-up here among the rebels. I've got my eye on you."\n\nBefore you can ask him what he means, he vanishes into the bunker.\nYou hear a rustling noise behind you; you stare into the woods and realize that somebody's dragging a ground troop towards the pile.\nYou decide not to stick [[around]].
You take a deep breath and think carefully about what's a stake- you can hear somebody screaming in pain and suddenly, you can't think of anything at all.\nYou just hear screaming that grows louder and louder as an explosion nearly defeans you.\nYou soon feel tiny prickles on your skin.\nOpening your eyes, you see tiny bits of debris raining down. You want to look up, but quickly decide against it- metal scraps don't mix well with corneas.\nYou hear shouts of joy and you're not exactly sure what happened. Through the smoke, you can just make out a tall figure walking [[towards you.]]
You've landed on your back atop a hard surface, but you somehow managed to avoid smacking the back of your head.\nWishing you'd knocked yourself out, you soon realize that a buster broke your fall. The massive grey machine is built like a millipede; its underside is a mess of hammers and legs used for swift demolition. The long machine is trying to climb up the side of the dome.\nYou could try to [[destroy it]], or you could always just [[run back into the forest.]]\n
It takes you a moment to shake off the shock, but you manage to run for the stairs and barely make it- you and another rebel, a stout man with red hair, nearly fall down the stairs together as the burning wreck of a helicopter drone intrudes upon the entrance- a few sparks and chunks of metal chase after you.\nYou're both gasping for breath- then, suddenly, he starts laughing.\n"Well, this is awkward" he giggles. You're almost sure that you've broken something.\nYou help each other up and he introduces himself as Jonathan.\n"Pleasure to meet you" you reply stoutly. Something about him annoys you.\n"Nothing personal, Jonathan, but I'm afraid I'll need to forgo the formalities for now since we're in the middle of a battle."
You can't believe how everything seems so far away, and you barely remember what color the sky is. [[It's all so soft...]] You can feel yourself drifting slowly across a sea of feathers, and soon the cheap drugs have left you [[knocked unconscious]].
"You destroyed the helicopter drone. Nice work."\nYou manage to stutter out some odd, incomprehensible noises- the slurred mess that comes out sounds a bit like a cross between "your face is handsome" and "my body's so numb", you're not sure which you meant to say, though you know you meant them both.\nYou think he smiles- it looks like he's smiling.\n"Get some sleep, soldier."
You take a deep breath and it finally feels like... Everything is suddenly too sharp, too focused too loud too fast too much you just want to scream "This is [[not right]] I want to go home!" but your heart is beating way too fast and you take another and another and another, another. Yet another.\nYou're breathing slowly through your mouth now.\n[[The world is coming into focus again]].
You run over and help an elderly woman to her feet, appalled that she was treated so terribly by the headless camoflauged machine that lies twitching inches from your feet.\nAside from some dead leaves adding odd splotches of color to her white hair, she looked to be in pretty good shape for somebody dragged through a forest.\n\nYou look around at the group at the four other people- there's a pair of young boys, an elderly man and a middle aged woman. "Is everybody alright?" Everybody nods at you, still a little shocked. You frown and stare down at the elderly woman's feet- the manacle that was linked to the chain that was attached to the ground troop was made of some strange black material that seems to have broken after you electrocuted the ground troops. Grateful you didn't accidentally kill these people, you lead them [[back to the dome]].
Through the smoke, you see that the metallic flying discs don't seeem to be armed- you can't make out any weapons sticking out anywhere. As one disc approaches a helicpoter drone, it seems to be making an attempt to fly as close as it can to the drone's old-fashioned helicopter blades.\n\nSuddenly, you're stunned by a flash of light, and you soon realize that the disc exploded, and the descending whining noise you hear is the helicopter drone falling towards you.\n\nYou could try [[running back downstairs]], or you could [[stand your ground]]. You also have the feeling that your [[bracers could come in handy]], though you're not completely sure of it.