Night and Dawn
To touch such old technology was like blessing life itself, the roughness and the squareness of it all made him feel like he was touching history. It was like the beauty of the first computers was in their ugliness. It almost made him cry. He had looked for these models for so long and before he travelled to New York he'd like to first find this place. Smiled like a kid in Christmas and that's when he started taking the computers to his floating van. Fuck, he wishes it was like before, he missed wheels. The wheels made everything far more natural and tactile, that's why when he had the chance, he got one of those old Harleys from almost two centuries ago.
He lit a cigarette before putting the last mackintosh and Hp in the van. Expelled the smoke after using the electronic lighter to flame it. At least the cigarettes still connected the human of 2120 to 2020, to 1920, yes, he felt connected. It was like the last portion of humanity.
Today's tech was all touchy and slim, all beautiful and slick, he didn't quite like that, he liked the rectangular, square, angular monsters, with volume and thick edges. Even the laptops were far more sensual than those cold skeleton like tech. Looked back at the warehouse and shrugged, sighed even. An abandoned technology warehouse made in the 1990s, still alive here in the forgotten areas o New Orleans. It was like a cemetery and he, the reanimated that tried to bring these dead babies to life. It as his ultimate goal to tell the truth.
When he got on the van, he checked the box of old cellphones he had taken from another old warehouse and tried all of the old batteries on his own. There was an old cellphone that his older brother had gotten to him, they shared a proclivity for old tech, and they had old photos on it. Keys instead of touch, thick instead of slim. An open and close Motorola with camera. He had plenty of photos there that he wanted to bring back. Old memories, so he stayed some minutes just in the van trying to find an old battery that fit the old phone. He was frustrated and rather annoyed at the situation, someone handsy like him should probably be calmer, but he was known for his short temper.
Decided to give up for now, he'd get home and check better. Turned up the van and left to the closer outskirts of New Orleans instead of the outside abandoned factories.
When he arrived at the old ghettos, he passed by one of the neighbors and gave him one of those old cellphones to communicate with her daughter that was in San Francisco, California.
Thank you, Jay. – Said the old lady with a hoarse raspy voice after years of smoking. – Momma Karina will reward you later. – She tried to act seductive with that black woman smile, she looked like she was extremely attractive some decades ago, now, she wasn't ugly but that big back side was too much for Jason.
It's ok Momma, no need to reward me. – Nonetheless he winked at her with a flirtatious smirk then continued his journey down the ghetto.
The ghetto was filled with white trash, blacks, Latinos and Chinese, and maybe for the first time in centuries they co-existed minimally in peace. There were a lot of poverty and people had to make do with what they found in the abandoned factories and the small malls. The people that didn't get into the gangs' business stayed out, but five years to this time a man took hand on this place and forced peace, putting all the gang wars to an end and making them guardians of the people instead of their destroyers. As such the people in the Noir region didn't had any trouble besides poverty and all that comes with it.
The guy's name was Roland, and there was something knightish about his way of dealing with things. As the leader of a powerful gang and "wolf on wheels" he had an iron fist against injustice and worked almost as a judge outside of justice. Justice didn't help the pariah and outcasts, so he did. He took orphan children in and gave them a chance of protecting others. He didn't allow innocents to die at the hands of others and drug addicts had a very rigid treatment. He sold drugs to the elites of New center elites and that's how he got so much power.
That was Jason's second stop, the layer of the wolves. Bikers, mercenaries, men that would scare anyone but instead women and children felt safe around them, men felt a kinship like they were heroes. They opened way to Jason's van and smiled.
Hey Jay, what do you say? – A voodoo black man said as he gave him a hit on his hand then a bump of fist to fist. He was tall and used dark shades even at night.
How are you Pierre? – Jason said with that smug he always wears since he was a kid. A bratty smug that got most people annoyed.
Ya know how it is. – The black man sucked on his golden tooth. – Been waiting for the nice merchandise you bring, checking some ladies.
Keep some for me, Pierre.
Pierre laughed a loud hoarse laugh.
You with that pretty boy face, you could catch anyone, but maybe only girls, not ladies.
Jason gave him the finger. He got some pretty features, it's true, like the pouty lips and almond eyes, but his tanned skin would make him look more manly, no? While he's fixing some boxes of cables Pierre looks at him.
You know what Jay kiddo? You got one of the weirdest tone of eyes, did you know that?
There was a silence between the two and Jay just shrugged. He gets that a lot, because of his purple like blue eyes. His brother had them too, but his brother had a light blond hair almost white and he got a pitch black hair like their mother did.
Don't you flirt with me Pierre, you're too old for me.
Boy, I'm 35. You kiddin me? – His voice thins a bit pretending offense.
Well I'm 28, so…
Gimme one of those boxes Jay. – The black man said laughing and Jason laughed with him.
They go into the layer carrying the boxes. In the corridors there's highly trained men and women with tattoos covering their bodies, piercings, prostatic robotic parts, weapons of all sorts, from blades to fire weapons. They all exude respect but also, an odd type of honor. Like legendary heroes. Jason says hi to some of them, knowing half od the group, but it's always growing. One of the older fighters make a tattoo on a younger boy, a wolf. There are peoples of all colors, people of all genders and people of all perspectives, maybe that's why it works so well.
Pierre and Jason finally reach the main part of the layer where the great five stand and converse about all sorts of strategies to stop a new growing gang that's constantly terrorizing the outer skirts of the ghetto. The two drop the boxes on the table. The colorful neon lights flesh their colors above them and some of the other fighters are relaxing after a day of fighting while laying around and smoking weed. The leader looks at the boxes and then at Jason.
Thank you, Jay, we really needed these connections done. I'll pay you well for these.
Jason shivers some. The leader was a tall mixed man, he had light blue icy eyes, caramel skin and a blond tiny hair that started to grow from his shaven head. A scar that goes from his left eye to the left jaw and the left corner of the lip. His height and wide back make him scary; those icy blue eyes make him look dangerously intelligent but it's the kind demeanor that breaks all that and makes one follow and believe in him like he was Ghandi himself. His wisdom and patience were what brought everyone together and he thanks that, completely.
Ah don't mention it, I just want the possibility for people here to communicate with the world outside more easily and if we can suck the network of the elites even better. Do you need me or can you do it from here?
It's okay, Jay, we get it from here, you taught us well. But are you going somewhere? – The leader asks actually concerned.
The purple eyed male looks away some.
Could I talk with you Salim?
He called the leader by his first name, which was not normal in public, this was what settled to Salim that Jason had something important to say. The leader nodded and told the other four to wait, TOOK Jason to another room and crossed his arms.
What's happening? Did something wrong happen? – Salim is the same age as Jaosn but acts like a father to everyone. That gets Jason a bit nervous.
You see… I…I should have told you earlier but …I'm leaving. – Jason says avoiding the other's look. – I'm going to New York tomorrow. – That's when he gains courage and tells the last part facing the leader.
Salim gets surprised by that and his demeanor changes, like he becomes slightly more vulnerable.
Oh I…I never expected you to. I mean, why? Someone special?
No, for work. – Jason answers quickly making sure the other does not have the wrong idea. – I got a job in New York.
Yes, if someone could do it to the big apple would be you, you've got a huge brain and you're an awesome hacker.
There's an awkward silence between the two but then Salim breaks it.
It is your destiny, you now this. You need to make it to the stars, Jason, so you can find your brother. As much as you're needed here … you also always told me that you wanted to find him. That's what this is all about isn't it?
Jason does not answer not wanting to give much away. Once more Salim nods, understanding his silence.
Do you remember when you first came here from Arizona? You were like what? 18? Telling me abut your dreams of flying, about bringing down the Alienus, of bringing back the dignity of humans…we were young Jason. I guess we changed, now we just want to keep ourselves alive. But you, you need to make it big so you find him.
Those dreams are lost Salim…- Jason says coldly. – This is just work and i…do not care anymore.
There's bitterness in Jason's voice but mostly there's a lie, hidden in his tongue and Salim can read it but chooses to ignore it.
Will you give me a cigarette starchild?
Jason turns his head quickly, the other hadn't called him that for so long, it came unexpected, but even as such he smiles.
Of course, wolf.
After saying that he offers Salim a cigarette and lights it. They smile at each other and after silently sharing each other's company as the cigarette's die out, they shake hands and Salim leaves from the back door. Gives one last look at Salim and then starts walking to the van.
Salim remembers suddenly and calls Jason, he stops and looks back, the leader walks to him taking something from his jeans.
Here, take this with you.
When Jason looks at his hand, he finds a small round piercing with a small star carved on it.
Salim… this is the first piercing you stole from the city, I can't…
Keep it. It's pale gold, I insist. It's my lucky charm but it'll be yours now.
Jason pulls the other by the fist and hugs him tightly.
Good bye my friend. Keep these people safe.
Salim smiles and hugs him tightly then taps his back.
Don't worry Jay, if t depends on me, I'll go to from Heaven to Hell to keep them safe.
That tight hug is what will make him drive the last minutes to home asking himself if it's the right decision. He never once asked himself, nut right now the idea of parting from this Hell hole where he found warmth when he had nothing, sure makes him…scared. Reminds him of the day he said bye to his big brother, twenty years ago, when he was parting to the stars. It's a feeling he tries to shake off when he arrives at home and opens a cold beer. Shirtless he falls on the sofa and looks at the old school TV, watching a VHS of some old movie he cannot recall the name.
His house is the top of an Arcade he made his little nest. Surrounded by old 90s technology, abandoned with dust. He cleaned it all and made sure it would be back to its old dignity. Somehow, he relates with abandoned places, he talks and associates with people but mostly he's alone at home working around his old tech and goes around on his van or bike, searching, exploring, looking for something to fill his head and getting out of boredom, working out and sometimes simply jumping around.
In the van he found a thousand credits, Salim indeed is generous. Smiles some at that. He is happy that he was able to only say good bye to one person, it's easier. He did not specify the reason and to whom he was going to work, but if he had, he knows Salim would have had a serious conversation with him.
Nineteen years ago, a race of extraterrestrials invaded Earth, humans tried to fight but were quickly overpowered by the numbers and technology of what now they call Alienus. These Alienus quickly took power in most Powers of Earth an became the lords of it all. The person that sent a message to him about a job on New York was one of those. It surprised him but at the same time it did not. Since he got into deep hacking, he started working for people that would pay him well to hack into old systems. He became one of the few and one of the best at fixing old systems and old tech. As such the rebels, a faction fighting against the uprising of the extraterrestrials contacted him to get them some old tech and to hack into its system so they could communicate through it and hide secret messages on old tech. This because the Alienus are not very good at working with the old human tech, their tech is multitudes advanced and they are not as good with the old stuff anymore.
But recently the alienus found out that they needed to learn about this old technology to track the rebels and finish them.
Jason have had more morals and pride, but now he just wanted to survive and as such he decided to accept the offer as a double agent to the tyrants and work for them right from New York. He used to be less slimy, but he sincerely did not care anymore, it was what it was and it would not change anytime soon. So, by night he packed everything he could pack, left the things behind and by the morning he was at the center station of New Orleans, receiving a stink eye from the elites, people that licked the boots of the Alienus and as such received special treatment to stay put, especially monetarily. Jason was wearing the piercing Salim gave him, the bomber his brother left him, that now fit him like a glove, jeans, war boots and just a couple of bags he could very well carry alone.
With the money he made from selling his services he bought a ticket to VIP individual room with bed on the train cabins, good, he did not like crowds, the supersonic floating train was strangely relaxing.
He put music playing on his Walkman, put the earphones on full volume…
And enjoyed the Dawn ride.