Rex Ratio on the Homefront

Starring:

Rex Ratio, the Transhuman Technomad

The Abominable Doktor Bizarro

Rex Ratio looked at the work being done on his private residence. In the heart of rural Ohio, the young man of brown hair and compact form had placed his personal dwelling. He looked out the window, as the sun rose up over the landscape. He lived in a vintage twentieth century split level home, similar to where he had grown up in. His entire base of operations was a restored twentieth century housing development. He lived in one house, and most of his personal crew, the Extropeons, lived in the others.

There were, however, some modern artifacts and structures mixed in with the rest. The robotic construction equipment operating just down the street were constructing a museum for recovered artifacts of cultural significance. Rex watched a robotic crane hoist an old player piano up delicately, preparing to place it on the third floor of the museum. The structure itself had the sides covered by solar-absorbent materials to ensure it was able to power itself. The museum itself had a quasi-pyramidal shape, with a flat top were construction was still going on. It looked like a crystal palace when the sun hit it at noon. There was a high tech bunker hidden from view and placed underground. It was there that Rex kept most of his high-tech gadgets and supplies.

It was a Monday with little activity reported. The largest clades had nothing going on. There were no sightings of Doktor Bizarro. These days were rare, but Ratio appreciated the quiet time he got. Wanting to have some fun, he headed towards one of the additions he made to his house. He entered a room with a white tiled floor and several monitors on the wall. In the center of the room was a silver bubble, easily the size for a few people to climb in. It was the new Singulartech Dream Shell Virtual Reality Pod. The inside was surrounded by featureless silver walls on all sides. He loaded up one of his favorite VR programs, and entered the pod in the center of the room. He sat down, and interfaced his implants with the systems.

"MATTEH, load up that VR simulation, 'Werewolf Zombies from Planet X,' now," Rex ordered the AI. "Tell me if anyone calls."

The AI's personality was undergoing some changes now, so only a generic personality had remained while the AI put itself in self-imposed exile while upgrading. The AI's mind was effectively "asleep," while only the bare bones systems remained. It would leave the AI more vulnerable to net-war attacks than normal.

"Loading," the Mobile Autonomous Tactical-Technical Engineering Helper replied. "Simulation commencing."

The featureless gray room began to melt away. Lights began to flash, and Rex Ratio found himself in the default setting of the VR simulation. Rex Ratio found himself in a fog-shrouded cemetery. A full moon and stars provided illumination in the black sky. Dark clouds rolled against the moon, blocking out the most prominent object above him. Around the edge of the cemetery was a wrought iron fence about waist height, with a thick forest surrounding it in most directions.

Rex looked up at the sky, and recalled that the simulated sky above him was not reflective of common astronomical phenomena, but instead fine-tuned to create a setting more akin to many old horror movies. The graveyard itself was similar to those that appeared in countless horror movies. The names on the gravestones were too faded to be read. There were mausoleums and gargoyle statues posted around in randomly determined locations. Off in the distance, a wolf howl sound effect played. The fog grew slightly thicker.

Rex checked his virtual gear before commencing the action. He appeared as he normally did in real life, dressed in a World War II style bomber jacket, flight goggles, brown leather pants, and rocket boots. In two holsters on his hips, he had his Singulartech Helios-series laser pistols. He looked around the cemetery to get a feel for his surroundings once more, selected "endurance mode" on the simulation preferences, and then commenced the action. He looked up, and saw a bright light cut across the heavens.

There was a slight droning sound echoing over distant tree tops. A source of bright light appeared in the deep forest, approaching as the droning sound grew louder. Rex Ratio activated his rocket boots, flying into the air. Stabilizing himself in the air, he pulled out both of his laser pistols. The source of the lights emerged from the forest, smashing through the trees. A retro-styled flying saucer illuminated the cemetery, and began emitting beams of light at the ground. First, it fired red beams, then blue, and then green ones. The saucer lifted off and sped away, and Rex knew the fun part was about to begin.

He flew towards the top of the mausoleum and readied himself for the first wave. He saw hands begin to reach through the ground. Rotting, skeletal forms pulled themselves out of the ground. The gray, rotting zombies climbed out of their graves, and headed for the mausoleum he was standing on top of. The decomposing creatures moaned, reaching their hands out and stumbling forwards. Rex fired both of his lasers into the mob of creatures, burning off their limbs with red laser beams. One zombie had a hole burned through its head. Another had a leg blown off. While the real life beams were invisible to the naked eye and silent in their default setting, they could be set to release a special gas that allowed the beam to be made visible and make a sound when firing. When Rex played the simulation, he preferred to know where his shots were going.

The zombies beneath him surrounded the mausoleum on all sides. They reached their cold, dead hands up to the roof, but could not find a solid grip. Rex knew this was the easy part. He jetted himself above the zombies, spinning around as he depressed the triggers on his sidearms. The red beams sliced through the horde of zombies gathering around him on all sides. He saw his score ratchet up with each zombie he shot. Burned limbs and charred zombies began to pile up near the bottom of the mausoleum. Once he reached a certain value, the gameplay would change dramatically.

Rex landed on another mausoleum, and ensured it was away from the edge of the forest. A familiar light appeared from the woods, and the UFO appeared again. The flying saucer blasted silver rays at the remaining zombies, and then sped back off. Rex saw the zombies keel over in agony, moaning as they mutated. Above him, the cloud cover began to disperse away from the moon. With the full moon now in clear view, the zombies completed their transformations. They now had more muscle mass, protruding snouts, pointed ears, and visible sharp teeth and claws. The undead creatures still possessed rotting flesh, but also more recently grown, lupine features. The werewolf zombies were now in play. The game was about to get a lot harder. A few standard zombies clawed their way out of the ground, but they would turn into the werewolf zombies after a certain period of time.

The werewolf zombies dashed up towards the mausoleum on all fours, rushing to claw their way to the top of the structures. They ran up at once, trying to overwhelm him. Unlike the zombies, the werewolf zombies could implement basic tactics. Rex knew he would have to chance his tactics around as well. Rex kicked one in the face with his rocket boot as he fired it, and spun around while in midair. He let the retrorockets on his boot propel his roundhouse kick and keep it going. While doing this, he fired downwards towards the zombies and werewolves. His score increased, and more body parts were blasted off the were-zombies. This was his favorite part of the game.

Suddenly, the game cut out. Rex found himself back in the VR pod. "Simulation disengaged," MATTEH advised. "Intruder alert! Breach in southwestern sector! Unidentified entities moving towards primary house."

A holographic map of the property appeared, indicating several red dots moving towards his current location from the southwest.

"Get defenses up and call Singulartech," Rex ordered. "Let me have a closer look from nearest sensors. Whoever this asshole is, they'll pay for ruining the best part of the game."

A new holographic screen appeared. This one showed a heavily forested area with all too familiar shapes moving through it. They half shambled, half ran. They had rotting flesh, ragged clothing, and jagged looking metal implants protruding from their bodies. They were asymmetric horrors, all backed by things Rex had not seen as often. A few nanoswarms buzzed overhead, and strange cloaked shapes moved alongside the zomborg horde. Small gun drones, and tracked attack drones moved with mounted guns and lasers alongside the zomborgs.

"Hacked transmission inbound," MATTEH warned. "Putting on screen."

A familiar face appeared in front of Rex Ratio. He was clad in a strange plastic mask, and wore an olive green cloak over his body. His skin was completely covered over by gloves, boots, and his green robe. A gladius short sword hung from his belt, and a QBZ-95 rifle was held in his hand. "Well, well, well," the abominable Doktor Bizarro's snarky voice taunted. "Pardon my unannounced visit, but I was in the neighborhood, and decided to drop by."

"I heard you were in New Chicago, Dok," Rex exited the VR pod. "Tried looking for you, but looked like you skipped town. Figures you interrupt my favorite part of the game."

"Yes, because I had some business with my new zomborg virus to attend to," Bizarro replied. "I had to deal with some lazy hired help. You get what you pay for. Your species is so insolent!"

"I heard someone stole your damn zomborg virus. You're getting lazy, Dok," Rex Ratio tried continuing the conversation while deploying some of his defenses and calling for reinforcements. It was a stalling tactic, as he needed time to pin down the mad cyborg's location. He tried deploying some defense drones. "Well, more than normal."

"Oh, don't bother with your automated defenses," Doktor Bizarro laughed. "I see you haven't upgraded to the latest Singulartech firewall yet! Alas, I can't turn them against you, but I can disable them. As for your friends, I noticed while their personal information could not be retrieved, their families' could! A few faked family emergencies, needless software and implant upgrades, or personal crises here and there, and this whole place empties out! This is between you, me, and my Zomborg Legion!"

Rex quickly looked over a holographic map of all the drones and sensors. The sensors and cameras were still transmitting, but the drones and defenses were not responding. Doktor Bizarro had indeed hacked and disabled them. It would be at least a few hours until any reinforcements could arrive. Rex quickly threw on his leather jacket, pants, rocket boots, and holster, and retreated towards the highest building on the compound.

"Oh, while I was hacking, I noticed you were a fan of that crappy VR game "Werewolf Zombies from Planet X." You always had the worst taste in games!" the madman mocked over Rex's neural implant. "I've got a new addition to my Legion you'll be sure to enjoy! My ware-wolves are tracking you down as we speak!"

"You mean you actually bioengineered werewolves even though you knew I had become pretty good at killing them in game?" Rex mocked. "It's going to be fun to kick your ass again, Doktor!"

"Those are "ware-wolves," not "werewolves." "Ware" as in "hardware," you fool!" Bizarro complained. "They're vaguely lupine cyborg predators able to cloak and track you. I'm sure you'll become acquainted soon enough! MWUHAHAHA!"

Rex ignored the mad scientist as he ran out his front door. He activated his rocket boots, and flew up to the top of the half completed museum. It was always good to have the high ground and plenty of cover in an invasion. Rex also had a few surprises of his own here. The new defenses in the museum had not yet been connected to the rest of the property's security network. Several automatic laser and machinegun turrets popped up. The top of the 'crystal pyramid' would be where he made his stand. It was only three stories and had a flat top, but it was better to fight in than any of the houses. He had additional gear and a better position in the bunker, but he felt confident he could take Bizarro's whole army with just an advantage in height. Besides, it would make finding him and Bizarro easier for reinforcements.

Rex drew both of his Helios laser pistols and took cover behind a stack of cinderblocks. After a few tense instants, he heard a strange sound. It was a grating, droning buzz sound, as if a demonic sowing machine had been crossed with a swarm of killer bees. He saw millions of dark specks in the air, and knew what it was. One of the Doktor's nanoswarms had found him. Immediately, the swarm swooped towards him, preparing to consume all the carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen in his body and clothing. Rex lifted off the ground, kicking his left rocket boot up as he ignited the rocket on the bottom. The jet of flame from the rocket burned through the swarm, acting as an improvised flamethrower. Rex had to use the rocket on his right foot to act as a counter-balance.

He flew into the heart of the swarm, delivering his flaming, jet-propelled roundhouse kick to burn the killer nanobots. He felt them biting at him, but failing to do any significant damage. After performing it for a minute, the remnants of the swarm retreated. Rex fired a few shots from his lasers at the nanoswarm, allowing bright red beams to illuminate his position. Since the Doktor knew where he was now, it was pointless to try to hide it. Better to draw the maniac into the open at this phase. It would allow the reinforcements a better view of the battle, at least.

Rex saw the zomborgs and gun drones heading towards the building, but the defensive turrets opened up on them. The zomborgs began to shoot with their laser implants and take cover. The gun drones opened fire back at the turrets, trying to throw up suppressing fire of their own. The two forces had stalemated each other, giving him an instant to think of a counterattack.

Suddenly, sensors registered an increase in weight on the roof. Two transparent, humanoid forms pulled themselves onto the roof. Where their heads should be, two bright red lights appeared instead. A low growling sound was heard as Rex realized what these creatures were. They decloaked, revealing snarling lupine powered armor. The thermoptic camo on the cyborgs disengaged, revealing their true forms. Two red diodes acted as the "eyes" of the ware-wolves. Their bodies resembled an unholy combination of human and canine form, with a long dog-like snout with blades protruding from a mechanical mouth. The bodies themselves were a made of dark green polymer of some sort. They resembled the body of a wolf loosely, with ball and socket joints and sleek body segments interconnecting with each other. The rear legs vaguely resembled crouching human legs, and the forelegs resembled the arms and shoulder of a person crawling. There was a short datajack cable for a tail, and a rifle-sized railgun mounted on the back of the creature. They were obviously cyborgs, but it was hard to tell just how mechanical or organic they were.

The ware-wolves howled and unleashed a volley of projectiles at Rex. The rail guns were silent, save the telltale "hum" of their charging. Rex disabled his jet boots, falling behind the stack of cinderblocks as the railgun projectiles moved at insane speeds just millimeters over his head. He would have swore one buzzed the tips of his hair.

Suddenly, another ware-wolf decloaked, but this one wasn't behind him. It was just a few inches from pinning him to the ground. The ware-wolf held the Transhuman Technomad on the ground, ramming its blade-filled hydraulic mouth at Rex. He tried to avoid the flurry of teeth and push the head away, but it was moving too fast and had too much strength. He definitely could not reach for his pistols now. Instead, he could only wait until he tired and these things devoured him. Thinking fast, Rex activated his rocket boots. Dual jets of fire burned the midsection of the ware-wolf, causing it to yelp in pain and loosen its grip. It gave Rex time to put his dual laser pistols to good use. He put both of them up and shot at the wounded cyborg at point blank range. The creature's head sparked, and it fell dead. One done, and two to go.

Suddenly, the stack of cinderblocks was jolted over by a rail gun shot, causing debris to fall onto the prone transhuman. Rex rolled out of the way, but felt several bits of debris fall onto his back. The footsteps of a charging ware-wolf clattered across the rooftop. One of the remaining ware-wolves was trying to pin him from behind, while the other was using its railgun to eliminate his cover. Quickly estimating the position of the charging ware-wolf from its footfalls, and fired one of his lasers at full power. There was a loud crashing sound, and Rex peeked up. His shot had burned clean through the center of the charging creature.

The final ware-wolf merely stood upright, parts configuring to give it a more erect appearance. Its railgun shifted onto one of its hands, making the cyborg resemble a robotic soldier with a cannon mounted on its arm. It ducked behind cover of its own, an air conditioning unit, and charged up its railgun. Quickly noting the direction the railgun was pointing, Rex Ratio killed his sudden urge to rocket upwards with his boots. Instead, he crawled prone along the ground, and moved towards the side of the large metal box. The railgun blasted a hole right through where he would have been if he had stood up or hovered up. Not giving the last one time to recover, Rex quickly jumped out to the side, and opened fire last ware-wolf while rushing forwards.

The erratic lasers blasts missed the ware-wolf, but hit the railgun. The wolf jumped towards Rex, baring its claws as it pounced. Rex delivered a flying jump kick to the wolf's head using his rocket boot, and then spun around with the other one. As he turned his hips, he shot the ware-wolf in the neck with his laser pistol. He landed, twirled both pistols around, and turned his attentions back towards the battle raging on the ground below.

Bizarro's forces seemed to be taking a beating, having lost most of their covering fire when Rex's turrets shot down their aerial drones and destroyed the more armored ground drones. Bizarro himself was surrounded by his nanoswarms, leading a charge of his remaining zomborgs. He had disabled one of the turrets on the building, and had stepped into a dead zone not covered by any of Rex's remaining turrets.

"Advance, Legion!" the Doktor shouted. "MWUHAHA! This is where we finish Rex Ratio! The ware-wolves have softened him up already!"

Just then, Rex Ratio appeared on the edge of the building, aiming his lasers down at the Doktor. He fired at the zomborgs and Doktor a few times, but the Doktor's defensive nanoswarm absorbed the energy from the lasers. The zomborgs fell, but many continued crawling forwards.

"Ah, Ratio," Bizarro taunted as he returned fire with his QBZ rifle. "Good to see you actually finished what you started for once."

"You started this fight, and I intend to end it!" Rex shouted from behind cover. He raided a few more laser blasts with the Doktor. "Why are you here? Don't you have books to rant about?"

"I've decided to become more proactive as of late. If I exterminate the witless masses who demand such filth, then I can remove the problem at it source! MWUHAHA! It is a pity you think those fools deserve access to the same technologies we possess," Bizarro mused between bursts of fire. He continued advancing forward, keeping his focus on Rex. "It is sad we can't just alter the laws of physics to work for us."

"Oh, I'm pretty glad physics works the same for everyone," Rex saw an opportunity and took it. He saw Bizarro had walked directly under the crane holding the piano up in the air. With a quick laser blast, the carbon-fiber line was cut, and the laws of physics worked in Rex's favor. Bizarro looked up to see a gigantic piano falling, but it was too late.

"You've just been tuned, Dok," Rex grinned. "I'm going to go fix my defenses so you can't crash into my place uninvited."

Bizarro's hand twitched from under the piano. His body began to melt, with the larger organic chunks being lifted away by nanoswarms. The remaining zomborgs moved in front of the wreckage, absorbing Rex's laser blasts. Doktor Bizarro's nanoswarms began to eat the mad scientist's body parts and equipment from the wreckage, and fled in swarm formation to parts unknown.

Rex knew this had happened before, and it would probably happen again. Bizarro could dissolve into a nanoswarm since he upgraded his body. But for now, his attack had been driven off. As much as he tried blasting the fleeing nanoswarm, he knew that this would not be the last of the Doktor. He fired a few laser blasts at the remaining zomborgs to finish them off. He'd have his reinforcements briefed about the new ware-wolves. He ensured the defenses were upgraded and back online. But for now, he had to return to killing some Werewolf Zombies from Planet X in the Dream Shell.