A tremor shakes the pavement below my feet, almost making me drop my food. Most pedestrians taller than me (which is many of them) struggle to maintain their footing.
Attack sirens fire off in the distance, echoing off of the mountains around the city. With that the peace of Steel Valley, WA is broken. I look around assessing whether or not I should call things here and go home. Given that the sirens are far away and seem to be coming from the direction of my house, I figure that continuing to wander Argon Av is the better move. Although as I do so, I begin to slowly head for Main St.
After some window shopping and some more tremors, I eventually reach Main. As soon as I do though, I notice something big and noticeably on fire out of the corner of my eye, I pause and turn find the burning hulk of a huge mechanical spider “Huh, that’s… new…”
*Must’ve been what was causing those tremors.*
Fascinated, I lift my aviators for a moment to get a better look, moving some of my long, silvery-white hair in the process. Seeing it more clearly, I am quickly entranced by the flaming pile of metal and start to take mental notes. The external body is bracketed with heavy kinetic and blast damage, most likely hit by stationary electro-propulsive weapons. Looking deeper, the internal chassis is not only crumpled, bent, and broken, but also showing signs of rust, suggesting that this unit has been in service for over three decades, dating back to the war and making it notably older than me. I start to draw out the schematics in my head, when my phone buzzing angrily in my pocket startles me out of it. Breathing for a second, I reach into my pocket and pull out my phone. An emergency news article pops up in my notifications flashing a large headline.
8/12/2065: Destroyer-class catastrophe!
Seeing something big and noticeably on fire out of the corner of my eye, I pause and turn find the burning hulk of a huge mechanical spider “Huh, that’s… new…”
Fascinated, I lift my aviators for a moment to get a better look, moving some of my long, silvery-white hair in the process. Seeing it more clearly, I am quickly entranced by the flaming pile of metal, that is until my phone buzzing angrily in my pocket causes me to jump. Breathing for a second, I reach into my pocket and pull out my phone. An emergency news article pops up in my notifications flashing a large headline.
Glancing at the flaming mess next to me, I open it and start reading.
Destroyer-class mecha-arachnid breaches military defenses, multiple blocks severely damaged. See damage path and severity below.
Beginning to feel a creep of worry, I hurry to scroll past the next mountain of text and down to a damage map of my section of the city. The path of ruined street carves back through Main street. I follow it both on the map and on the actual street itself. My eyes widen in horror as I see a large red dot on one of the intersections.
I quickly close and pocket the phone, legging it towards what used to be-
The exhaustion of running the short distance to the T intersection between Main St and Silicon Av completely vanishes once I see the carnage. Both the building and street are, well-
“TRASHED!!” a random bystander yells.
-yeah, that. The asphalt of the street itself was torn up; large chunks pulled out of the ground and overturned, pipes sticking out, and random material from the surrounding buildings thrown into rather interesting and distant places. As for my apartment building, it was a beautiful, but common structure that consisted of triangle geometry on one side, rounded geometry on the other. I say “was”, because now large parts of the lower floors have been carved out of the front of the building and are nowhere to be found. I can even see the super structure beginning to fail as I run closer.
My (rather slow) brain having yet to catch up with the situation in front of me, raw determination drives me through the crowd of my neighbors and all the way over to the crumbling apartment building, the sound of brown combat boots pounding against pavement drowning out everything else. As I race up the stairs, I hear the sound of breaking glass and twisting metal behind me, as a large section of the staircase finally gives out.
The sight is enough to give me pause and think for a second.
*Ah. On second thought, maybe running into a building that’s actively collapsing wasn’t the best idea* I mentally comment, the gravity and extent of my poor choices beginning to weigh on me a bit.
Ignoring my growing regret and bringing my focus back onto the task at hand, I continue up the staircase to my fifth-floor apartment. Slamming opening the door, I quickly scan around my room. I have a corner apartment, so usually the curved panoramic window provides a great view of the city. Now though, thanks to the tremors and stresses placed on the building, it is completely shattered. Most of the main room is, with scattered twisted rebar and metal plating creating a hazardous debris field. A chilling wind blows through the half-destroyed flat as I dash around the rooms branching off of the main one, grabbing anything important or valuable (along with a few plushies) and putting them all in a bag.
“Alright, fully packed, now to-!”
The entire building begins to shake violently, and I can feel it slowly start to lean forward. Screams and shouts erupt from below as I grab my escape plan and hurriedly fasten the harness.
“Yep, time to go!!”
A jolt of panic urges me forward as I take a running start and leap directly out the broken window. Hearing a few people scream as I begin to fall. As I feel myself go weightless, I hit the ignition and throttle up. The liquid-fuel rockets on my back thunder to life and slow my free-fall into a rough landing.
The touch down sends me to the gound and pushes the air from my lungs, but is less than lethal.
Popping up from the landing triggers a wave of relief and excitement.
*Holy- this prototype actually worked!*
My excitement is suddenly cut off when I hear more twisting and snapping metal behind me.
“Huh? AHHHHH!” I turn and scream as the entire building looms toward me.
I turn and see everyone trying to gain some distance from the structure. The adrenaline from the jump pulses again, overclocking my body and pushing me to sprint faster than I ever have in my life away from the impending touchdown.
*go go GO!*
A huge crash rips through my ears, quickly followed by a gust of wind. Dust blows over my body, getting into my hair and clothes. Once the wind stops, I open my eyes to see that a wall of dust has obscured everything behind me.
Looking around for any more surprises, I let out a shaky breath and start patting dust out of my hair.
I remove my aviators to clean them, breathing one last of relief “The second close call today, what an eventful afternoon…”
Hello, and thank you for reading the first chapter of The Nebula Project! I am excited and ecstatic to finally publish my first chapter to the internet after over a year and a half of work. It has been a bumpy, yet fun road of inspiration, ideas, and writer's block. As of publishing this, I have completed 6 full chapters, am putting the finishing touches on a 7th, and an 8th is in the works.
With that said, I hope you continue to read and support The Nebula Project as I do my best to write a fun and engaging story for all of you.
A Few Words from T.N.P's Cute and Amazing Co-Author:
Hey everyone, Co-Author here! I'd like to start off by saying I'm so happy that we've made The Nebula Project happen and we couldn't do it without your views, feedback and overwhelming support! As the author said, it has been bumpy and fun ride, and we also have a busy life ahead of all parties involved. Personally I'm involved in college and work, so writing can be hard for me at times, but I'll do my best to make sure our chapters get released at a decent time and rate. We will do our best to make this story a smile inducing and unforgettable. Once again, thank you for all of your support!