QSFer Rohan O’Duill has a new queer cyberpunk/dystopian book out (non-binary): Cold Rising.
After a job gone wrong, Special Agent Olgo is trapped within the bowels of Mars with no means of escape. The device that imprisons the trauma within them is about to fail, and the past terrors kept hidden by it must be contained for Olgo’s sanity and everyone’s safety.
From the darkness comes a tiny voice, and a tinier hope: “Hello?”
Geneva Mega City, 2324
Olgo’s two operatives were in play. After countless shitty jobs, dozens of dead bodies and who knows how many servers full of paperwork, Olgo was on a case that could make their career.
Olgo strolled in the shadow of a massive tower block. They patted the black and brown dust from their suit’s shoulders. The dust covered everything down on the street.
The detritus from the city scrapers far above floated down to the ancient potholed tarmac. Cars used to drive here before personal drones became the preferred mode of transport. Now it was the city’s discarded things that gathered here.
Olgo could never get used to the smell on the streets. The sewage treatment plants were always at breaking point. Large waste pipes snaked their way through the city, and despite their undamaged appearance they emitted a strange sickly smell, not exactly a shit smell, but something almost worse.
A few people were about, but everyone kept their business to themselves. Masks were standard in the open air. Pollution levels wouldn’t kill you, but they weren’t good for you either.
Olgo watched as the two operatives emerged from the gloom, travelling on foot from Rue de Prince.
Olgo’s assistants were nearly comical in their appearance. Glebe walked like a robot, arms always stretched out as if to embrace someone. At nearly two metres in height, they were tall for an Earther, and after all the body enhancements and steroids, Glebe weighed about 250 kilograms. To have an operative like Glebe was a statement, and despite their lack of social skills, Glebe was loyal to a fault.
Stevie couldn’t be any more different. He strutted up the street like he owned it. Stevie had been brought up rough in a street orphanage—most likely he was a second child, contravening the one-child policy, and abandoned at birth. He had come up hard and bounced around every seedy corner of Geneva. Stevie knew everything there was to know about the underbelly of the city. It seemed impossible to know every lowlife in a metropolis of two hundred million people, but somehow, the operative managed it.
Their first run-in with Stevie was back when Olgo had been an officer in the Geneva police. Stevie had broken into a modder’s shop and was making off with thousands of credits worth of implants when he literally tripped up over Olgo while running out the shop door.
The prisoner had turned informant to get off the hook, giving away a few locations for Olgo to raid. Stevie’s information proved so valuable it fast-tracked Olgo’s police career. Five years later, when Olgo had secured the job as a Micron agent and received a budget for two personal operatives, they knew exactly where to go for their first pick. Stevie brought Glebe on board as muscle for Olgo’s crew, yet Olgo knew Stevie was by far the more dangerous of the two. But in this line of work, dangerous people were the most valuable to have on your side.
The two operatives approached the shithole pub across the street from where Olgo was lurking. The bouncer on the door lost his arrogant demeanour when Stevie grinned up at him through his scruffy goatee. Stevie had plenty of money to mod his face to something pretty and laser his facial hair.
But he’d kept the ugly he had been born with. Olgo secretly admired him for that.
Olgo’s own aesthetics were never foremost on their mind. They had their hair lasered to avoid the hassle of looking after it. A shaved head was a standard look for civil servants, helping them blend in among the multitudes. They kept up a mild fitness regime, precisely enough to keep their body functioning correctly with the least amount of unnecessary effort.
Glancing around the dilapidated streets, it was easy to imagine the carefree peoples of Old Earth tramping along these thoroughfares or driving around in gas-guzzling cars. What would those people think of the polluted carcass the Earth had become? Would they care? It didn’t matter either way; they were long dead and forgotten.
The mega cities that were created after the war weren’t all bad. At the start they were probably even positive. The blending of cultures and ethnicities had broken down racial barriers. But humans have a nasty knack of finding new reasons to keep others down.
Rohan O’Duill (he/him) is a dyslexic Irish writer. Rohan writes Sci-Fi and has published a number of pieces from the Cold verse. While working as a head-chef, Rohan likes to compete at archery in his time off. In writing circles, Rohan is part of the Night Beats collective and enjoys hanging out in the crew’s quarters writing group.