ANSWERLESS

A man was thrown to the ground. He tried not to breathe too hard, lest he give away his waning strength. He was surrounded by two figures. One was his size, perhaps his age, but his true appearance was blocked off by a tattered robe. But there was nothing else to hide. In the low light of Dawn, energy lines shined beneath the robe. This was a Neo-Soldier. And so was his partner, who was three feet taller and that much larger. Red, piercing eyes glared from under the robes and unto the beaten figure on the ground. The smaller one slowly and soundless-ly stalked around the beaten man, tsk-ing at their prey. He reached down and pulled the broken man to his feet, with very little effort.

"You lied...!" he hissed as he threw the man down. The man struggled to his feet. "I did not," he reasoned. "The sarcophagus' were there! I swear it!" Before he could continue, his enemy drew a staff and struck him to the ground. "They...were..." the Soldier gripped his staff with rage as he finished. "...EMPTY!" The man laughed, and for that he was struck yet again. "WRETCH!" The soldier screeched. "The great one would render you headless for that!" The man only laughed again. "And what makes you so bold as to even say this great one's name?" he asked. "What did you do? Fetch him the post? Let him use you as a stool? What does he owe to you? What do you even owe to him?!" This time the soldier was too frustrated to attack. "What does this great one even promise you, after taking your humanity and freedom? A better world? What could be better than leaving him?!"

The soldier began to snarl like an animal. The hulking one behind him raised its fist, but the other one pulled it down. "He plans on giving us a better world than this rotting carcass of one! Through any means necessary..." the small one replied. The man smiled. "Yeah, as if he already didn't do that! Don't you idiots see it? He plans on rebuilding this world from scratch!" the two remained silent. "This landmass doesn't count as scratch, these cities, don't count as scratch! We don't count as scratch! None of the people in this world, none of the people that help him!"

The man looked up at the hulking one. "Do you think he's gonna use any of you unlike he already did?!" The hulking one was silent. The smaller one remained silent for a long time. Finally, the soldier drew a bladed weapon from his robe. The man had a start, but the blade was un-activated so he was eased. The soldier drew a small container from the hilt of the blade. The container was small, and contained a glowing liquid. "You don't know anything more?" he asked. The man shook his head. "Then do you know what this is?" the soldier asked. The man began to grow frightened. "This is a new element that a friend of mine found, I like to call it 'Azrael'. Does that name sound familiar to you...?" he asked as he drew the vial dangerously close. "This is a disease, and it wiped a whole entire town in a series of days. Do you know how it feels to get hit with this?"

The man began to back away fearfully as the soldier came closer. "First, the body begins to age. Skin pales, eyes cloud, and bones weaken, then the body begins to turn against itself, and those that don't survive to the final stage die from the sheer shock of it! And finally, hours upon hours of pain and mental turmoil. The only end is to live it out, or to end things yourself..."

"Stop!" the man cried. "I-I know something!" the soldier drew the vial away. "The ruins... one of them was left at the ruins of Springfield! We gave him nothing. He should be easy to retrieve..." the soldier's eyes lit up with delight. "Very well," he hissed. "Now you just stay there like a good boy. Don't go anywhere..."

With that the two turned around and walked away. The man let out a sigh of relief and went limp against the ground. But he could not rest long, for the unmistakable sound of Matrix drones marching sounded in the distance.

The hulking one looked down at his partner as he put the vial back into the weapon. "Duskur..." the large one rumbled. "That Vial... wasn't Azrael."

"No, it wasn't, my friend," Duskur replied. "But it might as well have been. If he believed it strong enough, he would've fallen ill if he didn't cooperate." The large one snorted, sending his hood back a little. "Are you going," it asked. "The enemy?" Duskur shook his head. "No. I will let the drones handle it. If he's as unarmed as the prisoner says he is, than I don't need to get my hands dirty."

"If he lies?" the large one asked. Duskur chuckled. "Then we kill him."


Large buildings lay on the baked ground. Asphalt streets lay in between, slowly wearing away. Street lights lay towering above the unused roads. Some flickered on and off, but rarely. The electrical wires dangled off of the useless poles. Buildings towered above the destroyed ground, their windows like mirrors against the soft dawn's light. The chilly winds began to die down as the sun gave way upon the destroyed city.

Murderer... liar... Traitor... deceiver... A barren landscape... thunder crackled... rain swept through the sky... a lone figure stood among a hill of debris... his form was hidden in the rain and lightning... He wielded a sword that crackled with energy... his eyes blazed red in the darkness... He took a step forward and struck one of the piles of debris... the debris... no, bodies... Laughter. Insane, meaningless Laughter...

... time to wake up.

Light... gray light. An empty room... empty seats... where am I...?

A man lay strewn across a couch, inside an old dusty room. The half asleep man observed the room. The room must have been an old office, for there were many seats and couches around the room, and a small desk in the middle. The windows' glass were worn and dusty, and were so filthy that only light filtered in. He moaned and felt his forehead as he slowly arose. The dim light of dawn filtered in through the filthy windows. The Man yawned and looked around once more before standing up.

He noticed that his legs were a bit uncertain, so he quickly reached for support. He apparently hadn't woken in a very long time. His body was sore and his bones ached. The man let out a moan of frustration as he tried to walk on his own, with some success. The man saw a mirror on the far side of the chamber and carefully approached. What he saw shocked him. There in the reflection stood a tall, perhaps 20-year-old man, wearing a black shirt, ripped jeans, steel toed boots, a chain for a belt, a small necklace with an ID tag on it, and finger-less brass knuckled gloves. But what shocked him was his face. His hair had brown sideburns, but what was left was silver in color, and what was stranger, strange lightning-like tear-marks ran down from his eyes. He tried to smudge them away, but they wouldn't disappear. The man took this moment to try to piece together where he was, but realized that he had absolutely no idea who he was, or what he was doing there. A moment of despair fell upon him.

The man took a look at the tag he wore around his neck, and the steel tag had the word 'Storm' imprinted on it. The man paused. Storm? Is that a family name? He certainly didn't think it was his, then again, he didn't know too much about himself anyway. A choke rising in his throat alerted him to the fumes in the room. He coughed and realized that the foam in the couches was decaying, and the room wasn't pure in air at all. He was about to leave, but then he noticed something on the desk. It looked like a sword's sheath, perhaps with a blade in it. The man reached and pulled the sheath up. The sheath looked new, and there was in fact a blade inside it. He carefully pulled it out, and erected a long sword from the sheath. It looked slick, perhaps Asian in origin. Markings adorned the sides of the blade, but in no language he was aware of.

He held the sword, and let it swivel with his wrist. The result, one of the couches was sliced in half. The man put the sword away and strapped it to his back. He apparently already knew how to use it, and from what he judged, he would probably need it.

Upon entering outside the office, he saw that he was at the bottom of a building, with floors and floors above him. Tall advertisement tarps, battered and torn, hung from the ceiling. 'Discount... Free until Feb., 2055...?' The man stared for a bit. 2055? But the place looked so torn up? How long has this place been abandoned? Ten years? More? The man thought hard, but then he was hit with a sudden pang of loneliness as he realised that he was the first person here for a very long time, and things will probably stay that way. But no. He wasn't going to stay here. He had to get moving and figure out where in this world he was.

A start, he decided, would be to get a better shirt, as his black-sleeveless one wasn't doing the job in this cold, abandoned building, which he deducted was a shopping complex.

It didn't take long for him to find a clothing section in the building, but most of the clothes were eaten up by moths and crusty from years of neglection. But he looked hard, and he eventually found a crimson jacket, that looked his size. It had a biker-esque skull with wings on the back, but he decided to take it anyway. For all he knew, he wouldn't be meeting anyone else for a long time, and he needn't worry, even if this was just a bit too macabre for his taste. A pair of eye-shades he found should help hide his odd face, for the time being. On his way out, he noticed a trail of white cloth in the corner. He walked over and picked it up, and found a white sport scarf, but the ends that were in the blackened corner were singed. He took the piece of cloth and tied it around his neck. He found an odd liking to the idea of wearing it like so.

The man found a window and looked outside, hoping to see where he was, but all he found was a ruined city. This disappointed him even more, but he'd rather focus on getting out. A rumbling from his stomach reminded him how hungry he actually was. But where would he find food in a decade old shopping building, even then, food that's any good?

Perhaps he could find some bread somewhere deeper in the building. So he departed, and found a lower level of the building that housed what used to be a super market. But the moment he opened the door to the area, the overwhelming smell of age-old rotting food pushed him back. He slammed the door shut and decided to look elsewhere.

After finding a few bags of crumbly bread and a sack to carry it in, he decided to try to find a transport. This place probably had automobiles before it was abandoned, and there should still be some here. But for some reason he found the idea of working machines in this place disturbing. What disturbed him the most was how he knew so much about this world and so little about himself.

After a few minutes of aimless searching, he decided that what he was looking for was in another building, as this one yielded no results. He eventually found a door that was nearly concealed by rubble and splinters, but he quickly cleared them away. As he reached for the door, an urge to stay inside hit him. Perhaps outside was dangerous, and it would be safer to stay until plain daylight died away. But no. He was going to find what he needed so he could get out of there, and find perhaps safer ground.

The moment he opened the door and went outside, he was hit by a chaotic change in temperature. The sun was blindingly bright and seared down on him, but the wind was so cold it hurt any of his exposed skin to touch. He decided to bear with the estranged weather and make it to another abandoned building. It was not difficult at all to find one. Opening the door was the hard part. The mixture of rocks and dust blown in from the wind was as hard as cement, and opening the door frustrated him so much he tried to tear the door out of its hinges. To his surprise, he was successful, and after a moment of tugging, he held the severed door in his hand. He paused, but dropped the door without a second thought and walked in.

This building was just as empty and dilapidated as the last, but this one looked more like a computer plaza. Useless pieces of electronic gadgets littered the floor and empty tabletops. Carefully stepping over them, he made his way over to a desk and looked at the shattered tools. These gadgets sparked curiosity in him, and he wanted to see, childish thought it was, if any of them still worked. Not surprising at all, none did. Dust and neglection had rendered the electronics useless and fragile. With a bit of disappointment, the man started away from the desk when he hit his foot against something. He knelt and saw that there was a small package on the ground. It was made of now-disintegrated cardboard, but on the inside, Styrofoam and plastic shielded a small smartphone from years of erosion and wear.

The man took the gadget out of its packaging and tried to turn it on, to success. The battery was low, and there was typically no signal, but a working computing device was something he would prefer to keep around. Yet another thing he could understand but couldn't remember. He stuck the phone into his bag and took one last look around the building. There was no signs of transportation, so he decided to look elsewhere. Something rustled.

The man jerked in a direction and grabbed his sword's handle. With such a reflex it was obvious that he used this thing, or at least another sword before. This made him feel slightly better about who he was, but he was too distracted by the outbreak of motion to think for long. More rustling. The man began to breathe harder. He felt adrenaline rush through him. He started to think how he was going to evade whoever was within the building, or face whoever and see if it was passive.

A green spark flew by and struck a wall, crumbling it. The man had no time to look. He immediately ran for the door. More sparks were shot at his feet as he ran, all near misses. As if it wants me to run... The man ran outside into the chaos and drew his sword. The sword glowed bright silver in the harsh sunlight. For a moment, there was only stillness and the blowing of the wind... Another shot was fired, but the man blocked the shot with his sword, sending the shot rocketing into the other building. No time to congratulate himself on the maneuver, the Man ran back into the first building and blocked off the door.

He breathed heavily as he waited for another sign of movement, but there was nothing. Then he heard footsteps. He held his sword in front of him and carefully walked backwards. The thought just struck him on how the sword was able to deflect the shot so easily. The sword wasn't exactly normal looking, at least from what he could tell. Maybe it was special, or something. His thoughts were broken by the footsteps quickening. Still holding his sword in front, he backed away quicker, careful to avoid debris on the floor. He backed into a corridor and carefully took the bag he was using and set it down. Hopefully he would be able to retrieve it once this madness passed.

The footsteps grew fainter, and the man relaxed a little. Perhaps this meant his armed pursuer was looking elsewhere and he could escape. He carefully moved forward from his hiding place, and thankfully, if anyone was there, they had long gone. The man let out a sigh and was about to put his sword away, when he heard another sound; scratching. He reached for his sword and carefully observed the level of the building. He looked in every direction, and there was nothing there. He was about to relax again, when he noticed a green lighting on the floor. And then he realized; he hadn't looked up.

He looked up just in time to see the spindly figure of a matrix drone jump from the ceiling. The metallic creature spat and hissed at the man as it groped for his neck, but with surprising strength, even to him himself, he shoved the beast off and drew his sword. The creature moved in such an lofty and unsure way, it made the man uneasy. Finally, the creature raised its claws and charged forward. The man held out his sword and lashed out, hitting away every attempt of a swipe. The creature reared back and jumped for the man. Terror took him and he fearfully held his sword in front of him. The sound of sword ripping metal sounded throughout the building. The man stared awestruck. The sword had impaled the creature. The Drone's eyes went dark, its limbs went limp.

After hesitating, the man flung his sword, sending the Drone flying from the blade and into a wall. The man stood panting. He looked down on his sword, and stared at a glowing green liquid oozing off of it. For a moment, the man felt disgusted, but then he realized that the creature was synthetic, and this was not gore, but simply a substance for the false being's system.

The man sighed and took a tattered piece of cloth off of the ground and wiped the blade off. He went to retrieve his bag and leave the building. Another shot hit the ground before he could grab the bag. The man turned to see two more Drones stalking down the hallway. His eyes narrowed under his shades as he grabbed the bag and streaked away in the other direction. He exited the corridors and jumped behind a wall just in time as a thousand energy bullets shot out of the corridor.

The man set his bag aside once again and drew his sword. After a moment of waiting, he ran in front of the corridor and started reflecting the blasts with his blade. As planned, many of the shots hit the drones right back, and the man was able to keep this up for a bit, but when one of the bullets grazed his arm, he decided to move on and run.

Outside, he decided. He would do better outdoors with two robotic drones stalking him. Shoulda stayed inside, he thought to himself. They never would have found me. He started climbing, level after level, closer to the top of the building. He would be able to avoid them at that terrain, perhaps.

After climbing crumbling stairs and halls, he found a small chamber with a lift inside. That would take him to the top easily... if it was twenty years ago. The mechanism was rusted and failing, and walking inside would be suicide. Just then, the sound of a drone screeching broke the silence. A Drone broke through the floor and started climbing out. The man darted away, but then another drone climbed out of the floor. These were probably the same two from before. They were better at tracking then he thought, disappointingly.

The two drones approached from both sides, slowly trapping the man. His mind raced. Face the drones and die, or try to evade them and die. The drones weren't going to let him decide. The first one acted first, charging forward with its clawed hand straightened and rigid. The man quickly drew his blade and sliced. The drone, fake and lifeless it may be, let out a shriek of pain as its arm separated from its body. The man stared at the arm. It leaked the very substance he found on his sword. The arm writhed and struggled like an ailing snake. Perhaps... that fluid, makes their mechanisms move.

The first Drone backed off, snarling, letting the second one attack. The man was too lost in thought to evade getting pinned to the ground by the second drone. The drone screeched and struck him with its hard metal fists. The man ignored each blow and slashed his sword on the drone's back, implying it to jump back. The man grabbed a shard of metal debris off the floor and threw it at the drone. The drone didn't even try to evade. The metal struck the drone's chest and shattered like a piece of wood. The drone gurgled what appeared to be laughter and charged forward.

The man decided to use his sword again, and landed a slash on the creature's chest. The drone's armor split, revealing pipes and machinery on the inside. The drone fell to the side in surprise, and the man took this chance to run.

He finally made it to the balcony on the top, and hastily carved a way out with his sword. He got on top of the building and was once again exposed to the chaotic elements outside. But what he saw horrified him. On the land below, swarming like ants towards their prey, were Matrix Drones, by the thousands. It almost sickened him to see so many at once, no matter how far down they were. The drones alerted to his presence, and the silence broke as an outbreak of screeching and metallic clanking erupted from below as they rushed for the building. The drones stiffened their claws and started to claw their way up the building.

He had little time to react, for the two already damaged Drones broke out of the ceiling and closed in on him. The man readied his sword, with much begrudging in mind. He wasn't willing to stand by and let the creatures take him down, but the ugliness he was about to commit made him uneasy, and almost shameful. Live or die...

The Drone he had slashed in the chest jumped for him, but he used his sword and struck the drone, sending it hurtling down to the swarm below. The one-armed drone tried next, but was delivered to the same result. The man let out a sigh. This wouldn't hold them. He would have to incapacitate them, or wound them, if he was to be sure they wouldn't crawl back up. The ones that started to climb were nearing him. He readied his sword, wished forgiveness from whoever was in control, and drove his sword into the drone. The shock was enough to send it hurtling below, but more took its place.

The man fended them off, trying to damage them as little as possible. He was able to send most of them below, until finally there was only one left crawling up. The drone attempted to claw him, and he sliced off one the drones chest armor. The man's thoughts paused as he stared at the exposed machinery. Unlike circuitry and pipes like he was expecting, instead, inside there was a writhing mass of pipes, coiling and squirming like a mass of snakes. His hesitation costed him a crucial second. The coiling ugliness leaped out, and wrapped around his hand!

The man struggled, but the pipes were as hard as iron, but that didn't limit how flexible they were, they would not bend to his struggling. The core let go of the drone and swarmed his hand. The core of pipes stuck and coiled around his hand, and the drone it once controlled hurtled below, an empty husk.

He started to panic. The tentacles began to flatten and harden, forming a sort of armor over his hand, and something told him that if he allowed the core to finish, he would not be in control of his hand anymore, or worse, it may spread. He sliced the core off with his sword, and the core fell to the swarm below, screaming much like the drones. The synthetic armor on his hand turned brittle and crumbled off, giving the man his left hand back. A thought struck him, and he was a bit confused about why he hadn't thought of it before. Are these the reason this place is abandoned?

The drones below were growing impatient, and now were crawling up by the dozens. He wasn't willing to openly attack any more drones, so with the small gap in the wave of attackers, he took the chance to retreat.

Quicker than he could care to remember, the man was already at the bottom floor. He ran for his bag of supplies, right where he left them, and ran off to try and escape the building from the other side. The sound of stone crumbling and wood snapping broke out as another drone broke through one of the walls. This drone was larger than the others outside, and it was much more armored. The man turned to look at his new pursuer, and a shudder of defeat went through him. His mystery of a life was about to end, much too soon.

The drone rumbled and held out its arm like a gun. The man was too confused to run from this odd gesture, but then, the Drone's hand retracted into the arm, and multiple what appeared to be Gun Barrels folded on to its wrist. The man stood puzzled at this odd change in shape, but then the arm began to rotate, and he knew what it was. The arm fired energy blasts like a Vulcan and the man fled for his life. He hid behind a wall and carefully drew his sword, but then the blasts broke through one side, and he was forced to run.

Halfway through another hallway, the drone still in the other room, the man stopped running and started to consider. His chances of escaping were very slim if he let that drone chase him, but his chances of surviving altogether were slim if he went to fight it. He pulled his sword and looked down upon it.

With one last sigh, he carefully retraced his steps to try to find the drone. Unfortunately, it found him. It broke through another wall and grabbed him, holding him up in the air, hissing and spitting. The man groaned and sliced at the drone's arms with his sword. This drone's armor was much more stronger, but his sword still made a big enough fracture to make the drone let go. The man jumped behind the drone, drove his sword into its back, and pulled it out, pulling it up at the same time. The drone snarled and fell to the ground. The man held his sword to the Drone's head, but hesitated. The drone was too shocked to attack. Just when the man made up his mind, the glowing spots on the drone's armor began to blink.


The swarm of Matrix drones outside hissed and spit as they clawed at the building. But they stopped and backed away at the arrival of Duskur, the hooded Soldier from before. He looked up at the building. The sound of Destruction and battle raged inside. He looked at the drones. "You weren't able to kill him." he said coldly. The drones lowered their heads and cowered back. Duskur looked at all the drone pieces that littered the ground. "And he was armed..." Duskur mumbled. "Is the berserker inside?" he asked. The drones quickly nodded. Duskur drew a small console from his robe. "Well, then, let's finish this with a bang," he said as he pressed a button. A timer appeared on the screen. Duskur smiled. "Scatter," he ordered.


The man stared at the flashing drone. The drone looked just as surprised. It let out a frightened shriek and tried to crawl away, but its body went limp. ...Flashing... timer...A bomb! The man took his sword and fled. The drone let out a mournful moan as the flashing neared to a stop. The man ducked behind a wall just in time as a wave of heat hit him from behind.