Welcome to the first chapter of Lightwaves! Co-written by Digitaldreamer (aka Digi-Writes-Fanfics) and myself (EmptyHeart aka HosekiDragon) this is a dystopian Alternate Universe based on the webcomic Hanna is Not a Boy's Name by Tessa Stone. It was originally posted on deviantArt and it (along with some flippen' sweet artwork) can be found at www . hinabn – lightwaves . deviantart . com, just remove the spaces.
What's this? You require further knowledge? Well then, here you go.
The year is 20XX. After a variety of terrible plagues and wars, mankind has finally united into several city-states. One of these is the City of Varuna. Sprawling thousands of miles and surrounded by unmovable walls, the City of Varuna lives in isolation from the outside world, tught only what the government wants them to hear. People are under constant surveillance under the name of protection. Technology has advanced beyond our wildest dreams. The only issue now is Undersirables. Paranormal creatures, vampires and werewolves, remnants of an ancient and dying world. There creatures are expected ro register with the government and are seen as second class citizens, living in oppression so as to avoid tainting the other citizens and ruining their quality of life. There creatures are hunted down by a special section of the police force, the Ahimsa.
And then comes in Eli. For ten years, he's worked for the Ahimsa and he's begun to realize that every day has become the copy of a copy of a copy. The more dissatisfied with life he becomes, the more he begins to question, is there something more?
Welcome to Project Lightwaves.
He was pretty sure it was Tuesday.
He supposed it would be accurate. The holoscreen on his desk said so, and his boss was wearing his cornflower blue tie, so he was pretty sure it must be Tuesday. Then again, he wasn't sure when the last time he slept was, and insomnia tended to make everything into a gray sort of haze after awhile.
"Eli? Are you in there?"
Light hazel eyes flicked from the pile of papers on his desk to the coworker he was supposed to be speaking to. The man in question, Renton, was rather portly, not exactly overweight but not thin. Some was muscle, some was fat, but it all bulged either way under the white collared shirt of a man who believed he was five pounds lighter than he actually was. He also had a tendency to be direct in an indirect sort of manner, which meant he sounded rather friendly and had the ability to make his words all too easy to tune out when they tended to be of the utmost importance.
"Ah, I'm sorry. I zoned out," he muttered, flashing a small smile. The chalk-like taste of strong coffee was still clinging stubbornly to his tongue, and he found himself absently wondering if it was just as attached to his breath.
The other man chuckled and patted him roughly on the shoulder. "Rough night, eh Tiger? You know, it's technically illegal to bring anyone in after curfew, no matter how hot she is," he drawled, his raised eyebrow giving an appropriately doggish air to his wide grin.
Who actually used 'tiger' as a serious term for anyone anymore? He decided to not question, however, and simply shrugged. "No, nothing like that. I have trouble sleeping sometimes, that's all," He said as he adjusted the pile of papers. Aside from these, a mound of case files, and the standard gleaming holoscreen, his desk was relatively bare. The only sense of personalization came from the photo he had placed on his desk, one of his cousin who lived in sector 3C of the center circle.
It was good to keep photos of family. People wouldn't think you were too weird if you had photos of other people, normal people. It meant you were a part of something, were well adjusted, were safe. He'd considered one of those miniature bonsai trees, but Joe had bought one weeks ago and no one had seen him for a while.
His coworker rolled his eyes. "Of course. that'd be your problem. Can't have an agent of Ahimsa doing anything off book, now can we, Eli?" Again came the heavy pat, and he had to wonder if this was intentional or not. He knows his name isn't Eli, everyone knows his name isn't Eli, yet they all called him Eli. He supposed he shouldn't question it, it makes about as much sense as the name of their branch of the police force. He'd looked up that name, Ahimsa, once on one of his many sleepness nights. He now knew it meant "peace to all living things", which was irony if he'd ever heard it.
If anyone could mistake what they did for "peace", he'd be worried.
He realized his mind was wandering again and he blinked and jerked slightly, trying to focus on what Renton was saying. His coworkers were the closest thing he had to friends, and he had to appear interested. This was a rule of thumb when it came to dealing with city people, you shared small talk and feigned interest, paid lip service to words like "buddy". But no one was your friend in that city, not really. You had to keep people close but not too close for fear that if you said the wrong thing, someone would sell you out.
Not that he would say the wrong thing, because he wouldn't. He was well aware he owed the government, they were the ones who kept the City of Varuna safe from Undesirables. They were the ones who made all those scientific advancements and pushed mankind into an age of prosperity. They were in an age of prosperity and peace, protected by thick walls that kept all the monsters locked in the slums and trapped under the bed where they belonged.
They were in an age of peace and lately all he could do was lay wide awake at night, feeling as if something was wrong.
He realized he was fading out again and he shook his head slightly, trying to get focus again through light hazel eyes lined with dark bags. He wasn't entirely sure why he was bothering. He was well aware he was weird enough that most people didn't really want to talk to him, but not weird enough to draw attention to himself. He supposed it came down to that rule of thumb, keep up appearances.
The fake conversation was interrupted by laughter from a few desks down. The dark-haired man almost let out a sigh of relief as Renton glanced away, that doggish grin flashing into place. "What is it, Nick?"
Nick, a man who was just as heavy set as Renton but with considerably scruffier blond hair, let out another laugh as he pointed to the holoscreen on his desk. "Man, you've gotta check this out. We found some graffiti in Sector 34D last night, probably a Undesirable-friendly hippie or something whining for justice."
Renton immediately rushed over to the desk, sending bits of paper scattering from multiple desks in his wake. No one scolded him, as they were all too busy crowding around the holoscreens themselves, a sea of white shirts and black ties, their gun holsters all melding together in a line around their different sized torsos.
He watched them congregate for a moment, eyes flicking to the now empty rows of desks, the telescreens on the walls that showed everything from wanted posters to the reports to the news to speeches. In the back he could see the clear glass walls that separated the main floor from the offices of the higher ups, the Ahimsa logo glittering in the morning sunlight that shown from the open windows. The blinds to the main offices were closed, as always. He had to wonder what exactly went on in there, then decided there was little point in wondering and glanced back to the desks.
They were all identical to his, shining black tops with multiple fancy drawers and a holoscreen built in, a keyboard and a thin pad of numbers serving as controls for the screen. His eyes fell upon an open folder, then drifted to the papers that littered the floor. Why did they have so much paperwork? Couldn't this all be done on holoscreens now, and weren't trees scarce? That was why they had the ration on the synthetic ones, right? It didn't make any sense.
"Eli, come check this out!"
He let out a sigh as he made his way over, stepping carefully over the papers, boots brushing against the rough, plain gray carpet. He was tall enough that he didn't really need to squeeze past anyone, he simply towered over everyone's shoulders and squinted at the image on the screen.
Clear and crisp before him was the image of bright red words that had been spray painted across a billboard of Prime Minister Freeman. The bright red letters were cast carelessly over the Prime Minister's tanned face and perfect grin, blotting out his normally dark eyes with large, harsh words.
Our City is Dead.
The dark-haired man blinked at the image, brow furrowing in confusion. "Strange..."
"Not really," Nick snorted as he leaned back in his office chair. "Like I said, it's probably another stupidly overdramatic stunt by those damn hippies."
"No kidding," Renton snickered. "Next they'll be preaching more gayass shit about 'tolerance' and start whining about how much they miss having real flowers!"
The whole room laughed at that, the cacophony of cackles and "haws" echoing through the whole office. The dark-haired man was the only one left there squinting at the picture of the graffiti, hating the way he felt something twist. He knew very well that this made no sense. After all, there had been many reports that had pointed out that real flowers were dangerous to one's health, it was a known fact that one couldn't tolerate creatures that spent their days killing regular citizens and of course the city was teeming with life.
In spite of all this, he just didn't see what was funny.
It was when the laughter had died down that the dark-haired man realized everyone had been filtering away to their desks for awhile now and he was the only one standing there watching the screen, unhindered by Nick waving a hand in his face.
"Eli? You okay?" The blond asked, raising a brow.
Renton let out a snort as he elbowed the dark-haired man lightly in the side. "Aw, you know Eli. He's always a bit zoned out."
Nick shook his head, brow furrowing. "Nah, he seems more tired than usual. Have you been sleeping, man?"
He had to resist letting out another sigh. He really had to make sure he found a way to sleep tonight, he was drawing more questions and that was never good. "It's been a bit rough lately, yeah."
The blond let out a sigh as he put his hands behind his head. "I hear ya, man. Rough times lately. That case you were on last week with the troll was pretty brutal too, from what I remember. Fantastic job on that, by the way!" He added with a grin. After another moment of silence, his grin dropped and he let out a sigh. "You know what you need, man? You need a break."
He shook his head. "I can't, I was just given a new case. Something about a group of kids, they think the kids might be trying to get into magic." His brow furrowed and he looked to the floor. He didn't understand why they kept giving him cases with kids. He supposed it was because he was supposedly decent at talking with them and was generally able to fix things without causing a fuss, but he still hated it.
Nick and Renton stared at him for a moment, both frowning. Then Nick snapped his fingers. "Hey man, I've got an idea! One second!" With those words he turned and began to dig through his files, his pink tongue poking out of his mouth as he shuffled past tan file after tan file. After a moment he seemed to find what he was looking for, as he grinned again and spun around with a file in hand. "Aha! Here we go. One easy case for Eli, comin' up!"
The dark-haired man blinked as the case was pressed into his hands, raising an eyebrow at the name. "Achenleck?" He read aloud, the name sounding foreign and strange on his tongue. He hoped he was pronouncing it right.
Nick nodded. "Yeah, some yuppie artfag called us last night. He was whining about a vampire in his condo or whatever. It's probably not even the real thing, he's probably just trying to make a statement or whatever."
He must have looked very confused, since Renton chuckled and leaned on the desk. "It's a break, man. You do the paperwork, visit the guy, and then once you're done you just coast for a few days with this pointless case. It's great."
Light hazel eyes glanced from his two coworkers to the case file in his hands. Then the dark-haired man nodded. "Alright, thanks. I guess I'll see you guys around." With those words he turned and made his way toward his desk, flipping through the file as he did so.
Achenleck, huh? Well, what was the worst that could happen?
The building that Mr. Achenleck lived in was typical enough for Sector 4B. That was where they put all the artsy yuppie types, shoved into condos with floor to ceiling windows, modern furniture that was generic enough while still being considered vaguely original, and no ventilation to speak of. This particular condo was a tall, sloping pillar of white and black. It was appropriately angular, as if the building itself were trying to be modern art.
He glanced up at the building in question with a raised eyebrow, then looked around the neighborhood. He absently noted the standard alloted number of synthetic trees, the usual metal, plain benches that lined the sidewalks, the glowing walkways that threaded between buildings, the fountains, the usual holoscreens. It looked fairly ordinary, but he supposed that was part of the job. After all, Undesirables were fairly good ay making things appear ordinary.
Light hazel eyes flicked back to the man he was supposed to be talking to. "Can you tell me again what the creature looked like, Mr. Achenleck?" He asked, raising a brow as he absently tapped his stylus against the glowing, semi-transparent clipboard in his hands. He really hated running through these questions, he honestly felt like he must have repeated himself twelve times now, but it was procedure.
"I told you, it's a fucking vampire!" Conrad Achenleck retorted hotly, fists clenched, "It flew in and I can't get it out! What don't you understand about that!" The man appeared fairly frantic; there were numerous cuts and bruises across his face and arms and his shirt was torn and hanging off of one shoulder. A little blood was leaking out the corner of his mouth.
"It was this big, okay?" Conrad held his hands apart to demonstrate, "Kinda furry, fangs. It fucking attacked me! Where the hell were you! I called in, like, yesterday! I slept in fucking hotel!"
He let out a sigh as he scribbled down the description on the clipboard. From the young man's word, it honestly sounded more like he'd been attacked by an angry kitten, but he wasn't the type to say such things aloud. He certainly hoped it wasn't just an angry kitten, that would make all the work he'd spent the day doing seem all the more pointless. "My apologies, Mr. Achenleck, we've been very busy," He said.
Well, it wasn't a lie. They were busy. With paperwork.
"Gah, I don't care!" Behind the glowing edges of his glasses, Conrad's eye twitched angrily, "That thing tried to fucking eat me alive and I want it the hell out of my condo!" He paused momentarily, eyeing the officer with a raised eyebrow, "Are you even from Ahisma? I don't want to waste my time with some damn traffic cop...!"
One eyebrow arched at this comment. Wordlessly he hit on a button on the clipboard, sending the holographic screen vanishing into the single metal strip that made up the top of the tool. He then tucked the clipboard into his long, black trenchcoat, flashing the inside for Conrad as he did so.
Tucked inside was a glowing blue badge. The most prominent feature was the symbol for the Council of Mitra, one of the two branches of government and the one in charge of the justice system and most other things. The single horizontal streak set below a gleaming blue diamond would have been recognizable to anyone instantly, as it glowed constantly from every holoscreen in the city of Varuna. Below this shown the government name, followed by the Ahisma logo and then his sector, rank and the latest fake name they'd slapped him with.
Once he was sure the artist had gotten a good look, he spoke again, his low voice rumbling softly. "I'll need to see the inside of your condo, Mr. Achenleck."
Conrad ground his teeth together for a second and then spun on his heel, stomping through the front doors, across the polished, metallic floor, and slammed a finger into the call button for the elevator. He grumbled under his breath the whole time, eyes narrowed.
When the doors slid open with light hiss, Conrad waved the man inside and followed him. The doors closed again and there was the barest sensation of rising. The white walls dropped away and the entire city was spread out before them through the clear glass of the elevator.
The center ring of Varuna at night was truly a sight to behold. The glittering lines of light that marked the streets, the gleam of the headlights of cars as they flew along them, the glow of the foot pathways that spread between shining skyscrapers, the flicker of the various telescreens. It was truly a sight of beauty against the sky, a kaleidoscopic criss-crossing of gridlike patterns that stood in stark contrast to the dark of night. The whole city seemed to pulsate with a strange sort of rhythm in these lights, as if it were alive and the glittering lines were a heartbeat.
The graffiti from earlier had been wrong. The city wasn't dead. In fact, it seemed more alive than the people that inhabited it.
The dark-haired man shook his head, clearing it of these thoughts. Now was not the time for musing, he had a job to do.
Gleaming metal doors slid open with a standard 'ding' and he stepped out onto the patterned, tasteful carpet, trenchcoat swishing behind him. He glanced about for a moment, taking in the many identical, plain dark doors and glowing, unbroken lines of light from the upper corners of the hallway. They would probably be dimmed in an hour or so thanks to curfew. Light hazel eyes then glanced back to Conrad. "Which apartment is yours?" He inquired.
"Number 2236." The man muttered, gesturing down the hall as they set off, "I'm not gonna set foot in there until you get that fucking thing out." He stopped in front of the appropriate door and he pressed his index finger against the silver pad next to the handle. This should have read the chip embedded in the tip of his finger, recognized his as the owner of the condo, and unlocked the door.
But all that happened was the light that was supposed to be glowing green faded into a dangerous red color and Conrad jumped backwards before the security system decided to shock him.
"What the hell!" He looked at his finger and then at the door, "What the hell is going on!"
"Look, if I do this for you will you promise to get out of here? You could get a lot of people in trouble!" Conrad froze, staring at the door. A slightly muffled and yet somehow still loud voice was coming from inside the locked condo.
There was a soft giggle from within, a throaty sort of laugh that was somewhat hair-raising. "Of course, of course. No sense in sticking around waiting for some Ahisma dog to come knocking, right? You just finish up your work, sweetie."
The Ahisma agent blinked in confusion and surprise as he looked from the graphic designer to the door of the condo. It was then that he heard crackling static come from the small earpiece he always wore. Frowning, he reached up to press lightly at his earlobe, a soft glow coming from the machinery as he tried to focus it.
"...I'm telling you, this is a bad idea!" A second female voice crackled over the earpiece, nearly imperceptible over the static. "You'll..."
It faded out again as his eyes narrowed and he looked to Conrad. He casually reached beneath his coat, the movement so practiced it would have been nearly invisible. "I don't suppose you have a roommate?" He asked, raising a brow.
"What? No!" Conrad sputtered in reply, nervously shifting from one foot to the other. He looked like he was going to say something else but whatever it was become moot by what happend next.
Brilliant blue light, neon and crackling with energy, shot out from underneath the door, lighting up the hallway with a flash. For a split second, it bathed everything in a delicate haze of cerulean and then it was gone, leaving the colors muted and almost bland compared the light.
The Ahisma agent's eyes widened in surprise and he took a step back on reflex, jaw dropping. There were dots of light in front of his eyes from the flash and he could feel every hair on his body bristling, as if reacting to whatever it was that had caused the brilliant glow.
Meanwhile, there was a shuffling noise from behind the door. "Well, what do you know. You really know your stuff, Mr. Cross."
The reply was soft, broken, and pained, almost incoherent through the door, "Y-yeah, thanks." There was a series of hacking coughs, silence for a second, and then, "Okay, I did what you asked, now can you please leave?"
"Of course." There was a dark smile in the voice, "But you understand that I don't really like to leave witnesses..." There were thudding footsteps and someone shouted incoherently. Something crashed to the floor and then there was the sound of someone slamming into a wall. It sounded like a fight had started.
"...anna, what's going on! What happened! What did you do! Han..." The female voice crackled over the Ahisma agent's earpiece again, sounded panicked. The dark-haired man had to admit he felt a similar feeling, as he had absolutely not idea what was going on.
He pushed that feeling aside, his training kicking in as he focused. He may not have understood the situation entirely, but he knew something was going on here, and it was his job to stop it. The Ahisma's eyes narrowed and a fist shot out to pound on the door. "This is the Ahisma!" He called out, his voice taking on a tone of command. "Whoever is in there, come out with your hands up!"
There a loud 'crash', followed by the sound of someone swearing under their breath. "Cross, you brought the Ahisma here!" The first female voice hissed a bit too loudly.
"N-no!" There was a yelp and more running footsteps, "I told you we should have done this somewhere else!"
Conrad was staring at his door with a mixture of confusion, fear, and a twinge of anger on his face. It looked like he didn't know whether to run or to start ranting in anger.
There was a growl. "Damnit, Cross!" Then came a loud bang, followed by several more shouts, and a loud humming noise, like the starting hiss of a jet engine.
The Ahisma agent's eyes narrowed and he moved his fingers toward the scan pad. As a member of the agency, he should have been able to override any locks and get inside to stop whatever was going on. Unfortunately, he never got the chance to touch the pad.
There was a bang like a gun being fired and a blue explosion of light came smashing through the door hard enough to rip it off its hinges and slamming into the opposite wall. Conrad screamed in fear and surprise, tripping backwards in panic. Bits of polished metal fell to the carpeted floor, sparks sputtered out from the ruined scan pad, and the very air seemed to be charged with the remnants of some kind of power. The condo was definitely going to need so serious repairs.
There was a groan that was almost a laugh from somewhere down on the floor and a piece of the door was shoved aside so that it clattered against the wall,
"Haha, ow... not my best exit..."
The boy laying amongst the rubble looked no older than fourteen. Bits of rubble fell from the torn cape that hung from his belt. His clothes were tight, covered with a multitude of buckles and looked as if they'd been brightly colored at one point, though time, tears and dust had done a bit of a number on them. A set of metal bracers were clamped around his upper arms and lower legs, extending nearly to his elbows and knees and seemingly bolted in place. Lines of glowing blue pulsed along them, ending in sparks of energy coming from the redhead's gloved palms and booted feet. What was most shocking about him, however, was his face. Even with his glasses somewhat crackled and splattered with blood, they did little to obscure his electric blue eyes, and that bright shock of curly red hair would have been recognizable from anywhere.
After all, he'd seen it on more than enough wanted posters throughout the city.
The sudden appearance of the redhead left the dark-haired man in shock. He'd snatched up his gun the instant the door exploded outward, his training allowing him to jump back on reflex, but the instant he saw that bright red hair he'd nearly dropped the weapon. "You..." He gasped out.
"Me?" The boy pushed himself into a sitting position, shaking bits of metal from his messy hair, and locked eyes with the Ahisma agent. He grinned suddenly, "Oh, uh, hi there! Nice to meet you!" He thrust out a hand, still on the floor, ignoring the blood trickling down the side of his face from a cut on his forehead.
"I'm Hanna! Hanna Falk Cross!"