20 Minutes into the Future, or Some Corporia Fiction

Here’s a quick little piece of fiction I just jotted off, intended for the Corporia RPG. This is the first draft, so any comments are appreciated.

Imagine this. One day, some time in the future, you’re going about your daily routine when your world turns inside out. The world starts to swim around you, your eyes open wide at a blaze of colors, and your ears tremble with the rushing sound of a great wind. Blackness overtakes you, and all is dark.

You awake to find yourself lying in a hospital bed, staring up through a holographic overlay of your form, into the eyes of a man in a white coat. You attempt to speak, but your mouth and throat are so parched, and your brain still in a whirl, that your responses are vague and immaterial.

He talks briefly of strange readings, inquires whether you have a history of epileptic fits, murmurs some reassuring words, and leaves. You spend the rest of the day lying in bed. When not slipping in and out of consciousness, you spend the time bored by the ultra-definition television, its small bedside screen mounted just out of arm’s reach. Using your weary arm to stroke your throat, and delve with a finger into your ear, you feel the invisible throat patch and earbud of your latest EyePhone purchase, but activation fails. A blurry sign on the far wall reads: “Shielded Room. Please turn off your personal data augments to avoid feedback.” No communication with the outside world, unable to raise yourself from the bio-bed, you wait. And sleep.

It’s the middle of the night when they appear - three shadowy strangers (or is it four?) backlit by your open door, in a combination of clothing that can only be described as eclectic. A silent, efficient woman dressed all in black, who rapidly unhooks the machinery surrounding you, tapping one-handed at the air as she no doubt accesses her own augmented reality apps. A bulky, dark-skinned man in a hooded athletic jacket and what surely can’t be a sword handle appearing over one shoulder.  And (yes, there are four) a man in a tailored suit arguing quietly with the doctor you encountered earlier.

You struggle briefly as the large man bundles you over his shoulder, but it’s no use. What is indeed a large scabbard hangs on his back, the handle almost beckoning you to grab it and cut down these intruders, but a glimmer of instinct inside you tells you not to resist. The doctor catches your eye as you’re hauled past, walking quickly away with a guilty face and a shaking hand that slips a shiny black card into one lab coat pocket.

You see no one else, until you’re stuffed into the backseat of a small, bright pink economy car – a mode of transport that seems a source of contention with the driver, a sullen youth perhaps not even out of his secondary education. “Enough,” the woman speaks, in a tone that brooks no opposition, and indeed gets none. “If you don’t want to be conspicuous, you have to be conspicuous.” It’s a statement that fogs your head even more than your condition. “Drive,” she says.

“Hold on to your panties,” the driver shoots back, waving a small plastic rod at the dashboard like a conjurer at a party before pressing the accelerator to the floor. Traffic and pedestrians blur past the windows as your stomach heaves and the car hurtles through the streets at top speed, yet brushing past obstacles with a surprising tenderness and not a single collision. Even in your befuddled state, you wonder what the traffic cameras make of your progress. “It’s my own spell!” he calls proudly back over the seat, turning the wheel to send the vehicle diving down an underground ramp and swinging into an empty parking spot with the grace of a hummingbird. “Everybody out.”

You feel your strength returning during the trip up (or down?) the elevator and through the corridors with their multiple biometric scanners and other security features, but it’s too late to resist now. Whoever these people are, they’re obviously the ones in control.

A question forms on your lips just as your companions turn you to face a particular door. The only difference between this one and the many others you passed is a silver-edged plaque, its digital label transitioning seamlessly between the phrases: “Lake Enterprises” and “Briefing Room 1” and “In Use”.

Inside, the room seems much like every other corporate meeting room – an elegant, minimalist space with a central table (no doubt integrated with augmented reality layers tied into the company servers), comfortable chairs, and rich energy-scavenging fiber carpet. In fact, the only unusual object is the old man rising from the largest chair at the far end of the table.

“Hello,” he says simply, a cherubic smile beaming from his grandfatherly face. “My name is Lance. I’m glad you could join us. You’re one of us, you see? You…” he falters, seeing no comprehension in your face. Your escorts shrug. “I said nought,” the dark-skinned man growls. “That’s your job.”

“Very well,” the elder grimaces, then turns his smile upon you. “As we don’t have much time, I must be brief.” A short pause, then he continues. “You’ve been unconscious for weeks. Your condition was – is – neither medical nor permanent, only a temporary weakness while your body acclimates to its new abilities. And they are abilities you will need, if you hope to survive.”

“Oh no,” he says, in a reassuring tone, seeing the caution on your face, “the threat lies not with us, but with those who would capture, control, and dissect you merely to increase their power, or to improve their knowledge of the ancient magics now returned to this world. No, I am not insane. The old magics are back – and with such magics arise creatures and monsters infused with arcane power. They are out there now, in the streets and in the boardroom empires, and only we can stop them.”

“We are your allies. We are the Knightwatch. And you are one of us now.”

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