FIRE ESCAPE FIrst Draft Update for 7/6/18: More About the Mysterious Tattoo

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“Wise gave you a tattoo like that?” Julio said, grabbing the napkin drawing I’d made from me.

“Yeah, I saw it on his hand and as I was dying, asphyxiating on that asteroid with the wrong atmosphere for my biology.  He took my hand and said something and the tattoo was on my hand after that and not on his.  Well, actually, he took my hand kissed me and then it was on my palm and then I–“

“Wait–what did you say?”

“He kissed me.”

“What? No–before that.”

“Wait, you know I’m gay?”

“Of course, Jacob, I knew you were gay when you were 14.  What did you say before the kiss part–no, it was Wise who said something.  What was it?”

“I don’t remember,” I said.  “That moment was honestly pretty intense for me.”

“He gave that to you–it was the same thing that Grona thug gave you back when you were trying to save us.”

“Yeah, wait–what?”

“So, if Wise gave you that tattoo tech Wise is from space, too,” Julio said.

“Yeah, well, he’s also from the future.” Julio smiled and shook his head.

“You know, Little Jake, I’ve been part of this world, or this universe, I guess, for a couple of decades now and things still surprise me.”

“So, after I got back from the asteroid, we did a full scan of me and Jill and Jim figured out that I had been changed somehow. Later, when I was being held by the Galak-Ga, Dr. Green told me I had become half Conva.  That tattoo gave me the ability to change myself.”

“No, no, you got the tattoo after you had been programmed by the Firarian tech, remember?  The tattoo switched it off somehow.”

“Then it, it turned it back on, when Wise gave it to me again,” I said, standing up.

“Wait–where are you going?” Julio asked.

“I need to find Dot.  She’s tight with Wise.  I want to find out if she knows what happened.”
Minutes later, Julio and I had found Dot in the hangar working on her space car.

“The thing that looks like a play button on an old VCR?  Yeah, I know what it is.  Lots of people have them where I come from.  It’s called a Conveniencer.”  She held up her left hand and we could see she had the same tattoo. “I have one myself.”

“What is it?  What does it do?” I asked.

“It’s sort of like what folks in this time period call a biohack.  The particles of ink that make up the tattoo are actually made of tiny computers that can interface with your biological systems and do all kinds of things if you know how to code for them. Why do you ask?”

“No reason, really,” Julio said. “I just remember seeing one once many years ago–like almost fifteen years ago… on a Grona.”

“A Grona? Wow, I wonder why a Grona would be interested in a Conveniencer.  That’d be like a professional wrestler using a laser scalpel.  Grona just aren’t into subtle body mods, like that.”

“So how would he have had one?” Julio asked.

“Beats me, man.  It’s a mystery.”

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Update for 7/5/18: Finally: Jacob’s Massacre

Just a quick reminder: pretty much everything you’re going to read on this blog or its PDFs is an absolute first draft.  In most cases, you’re reading these pages before even I do as I write them and post them without even checking for typos.  The whole point is to write every day and worry about editing later.  If you want to read something from me that has been proofread and edited (WOW!), please check out manfromzero.com and buy my most recent novel.  It’s good and takes place in the same story universe as Fire Escape–just way in the futrure.  In the meantime, if you want to make it easier for me to write, why not support me on Patreon? Just go here: patreon.com/petenicholls. Don’t want to commit to Patreon?  Then buy me a cup of coffee!  Or hay, just let me know that you like my stuff.  That means so much, too. Find me on TwitterIG, or FB.
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“Jill and I both insisted that you not have access to certain exo-tech. Mainly because we didn’t know what it would do to a human brain,” Julio said. 

“Yet, I assume you found out,” I said.

“Yes.  See, because you just would not let it go.”

“Oh, it’s my fault?”

“No!  Not in the least!  You were 16.  It was my responsibility to keep you safe. I was the adult.  It was the promise I made your parents and I failed them and more importantly, you.”

“Specifics please!” I was understandably impatient.

“Yes.  There was this tech we had from Firania that we were trying to find a buyer for.  Firania is a planet who’s chief export is educational material.  They’re known for being the best gatherers of knowledge and information and they’re pretty good at distributing it, too.  It was a hard piece to trade because Earth isn’t exactly known for it’s intelligence.”

“That doesn’t surprise me too much, I suppose.”

“Stellar folks came to me for weapons, for starship system parts, for defensive gear, stuff you use in war.”

“So, this Firainian thing was what then?”

“Well, it was an educational device at its core.  It could be loaded with any number of lessons.  You loved the idea of it because from what we understood, it would teach you whatever you needed to know without you having to take the effort to learn it.”

“That does sound pretty cool.”

“That’s just what you said when you first heard about it.  You were so interested in it, you wouldn’t let it go.  You hounded me and then Jill to let you use the thing.  Thing was, we didn’t know how to use most of the tech that we came into contact with thanks to The Trade.  After a while I realized it was like a gorilla coming across a smartphone.  Yeah, the gorilla isn’t a complete idiot–they can learn sign language–but can they really understand what they are holding in their hand?”

“Yeah, probably not.”

“That’s what we were like.  We knew enough to keep The Trade going, but beyond that, we were gorillas.  And speaking of gorillas, the Grona, brutes that they are, were the catalyst to all of this.  They didn’t like the trade we’d worked out for them and they decided to come back to, uh, renegotiate.”

“In other words, they were going to kill us if we didn’t make a better deal?”

“Exactly.  And you knew that was going to happen the moment they showed up at the store. I told you and Jill to hide but instead, you broke into the garage and hooked yourself up to the Firarian Educator and, I don’t know what lesson you selected, but it filled your head with something that tought you how to change yourself.  To be something stronger, faster, more brutal.  Or maybe it just tought you how to adapt?  I’ve never been sure.”

My feelings were welling up inside of me.  It felt like a combination of excitement and terror.  Like when you’re on a roller coaster only you have no idea what it looks like.  I felt a tear roll from my right eye and immediately wondered where it had come from–I wasn’t sad or scared.  Or, maybe I was.

“So, you raced back here, and I gotta say, Little Jacob, your timing was perfect.  Your sister and I were surrounded by eight Grona beasts in our alley, just outside the store.  They were all armed and armored and as I stood there, I could tell the negotiation they’d promised was not going to happen.  Then, they turned to see you racing down the alley from the street–I looked and could see you looked bigger somehow.  The same you, but bigger.  I remember feeling horror that you seemed to think you could do something to save us.  Then I noticed your claws and your skin had turned gray and it looked like your clothes were all too small.  Then you took your first swing–do you really want me to tell you this?”

“YES!  DAMN IT, JULIO!!  JUST TELL ME!”

“Well… you tore into the first Grona thug, sending his organs across the wall. Then you picked up the next one and tore the  armor from his body and then you…”. Julio paused and glanced to me.  My eyes were full of tears but I nodded to keep him going.

“…you tore him to pieces right in front of us.  You made bits of him, Jacob.  You made bits of all of them.  You were not our Little Jacob.  You were something… else.  You killed them all, Jacob.  All of them.  You saved our lives but you were terror personified.  I lifted the concentrated energy rifle I had in my hands to deal with the Grona and found myself aiming it at you.  I was worried–no–I was sure you weren’t going to stop with the eighth Grona.  I was sure you were going to turn your horrible might against us.  Oh, Jesus, Jacob, I’m so sorry, I wanted to kill you.  I was going to kill you.  You saved our lives but there you were about to take them, I… oh, Jesus…”

He paused again, wiping his eyes with a napkin from the table.  Then he stared at the floor for a while.  I finally was able to croak out the words “please go on.”

“But right when I was going to pull the trigger–RIGHT when I had my finger on it and was starting to pull it back, one of the Grona stood up and despite his torso missing a large chunk of it and its entire right arm, he approached you from behind and pulled you back to the ground.  He got on top of you and as you threw your right claw upward he caught it with his left and held onto it.  I heard him yelling something but my brain was too scared to make any sense of it.  Then I realized he was leaning on your hand like it was a crutch.  Then, he fell off of it, to the ground next to you.  I could see your palm beneath your claw.  There was a strange black triangle on it, with a ring around it. All of the sudden you grunted and passed out.  Your arm fell over the Grona next to you.”

“You saw a black triangle? Inside a ring?”

“Yes.  The only reason I mentioned it was because it was gone a few minutes later.  I ran to your side as you slowly changed back to your normal self.  I looked up at Jill who had backed up against the door jam and slid to the ground.  She was crying her eyes out.”
“But the triangle!”

“Do you know what that was?  Does it mean something?  It obviously turned you back to normal, but, what was it?”

I found a pen and drew a triangle inside a ring on a napkin and showed it to him.  “Does this look like the thing on mutant-me’s hand?”

He nodded, “What is that?”

“Wise saved my life with it back on that asteroid.”

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Update for 7/4/18: How Jacob became… Different…

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 It was decided pretty quickly that there were two ways to go about gathering more intelligence on the War Conva and their plans. The first option was to find actual Conva on this side, either War or Peace Conva, but preferably War, for obvious reasons. The second option would be to start doing reconnaissance on our own in the Fire Escape Dimension. That was my preference, just because I like to cut throught he crap and get straight to the point. We want to find out what they’re planning? Let’s go look at what they are up to.
Of course, regular humans creeping around over there might have a hard time not being spotted. But then, I am part Conva, logically, I should have an easy time over there—or so I thought.

“That’s the thing, Little Jacob, you’re not Conva.”

“What do you mean?” I was getting pretty tired of having my concept of reality challenged every other day. I think this conversation was over dinner that night. I don’t remember why but it was just Julio and I. And yep, Julio was now pretty much a member of Team J at that point.

“Jill never told you the whole story, clearly.”

“Clearly,” I said. “So, what am I missing?”

“You were really into working for me all those years ago.”

I smiled. “I remember, Hu. Those two summers were the best of my life to this day.”

“No, you don’t remember.  That is by design.”

“What do you mean?” 

“So, you were really psyched to learn more about the exo-tech we were trading in. It wasn’t enough for you to be around it. You wanted to know as much as you could about it.”

“Yeah, Jill and I both were really into it.”

“Well, think about it. She stayed into and you didn’t—why?”

“I don’t know,” I said, thinking for a moment and then adding: “It just stopped being a priority for me. I lost interest.”

“If only it was that simple, Little Jacob. If only it weren’t the absolute opposite.”

“I’m getting tired of asking ‘what do you mean?’ Hu.  Please stop giving me a reason to ask it,” I said.

“You were so much like your sister.  Either you wanted to follow in her footsteps or you may have just been really into tech on your own.  Regardless, you got into it.  And you got into it, too much.  So much, it changed who you are on a biological level.

A preManhattanhenge #Manhattanhenge photo I took on #42ndStreet the night before last. Yep, Manhattanhenge for July 2018 is next Thursday and Friday, 7/12&13. Get your #cameras read fellow #NYers! #NYC #NYCLIfe #photography #phonography #iphoneography #iPhone7Plus

A preManhattanhenge #Manhattanhenge photo I took on #42ndStreet the night before last. Yep, Manhattanhenge for July 2018 is next Thursday and Friday, 7/12&13. Get your #cameras read fellow #NYers! #NYC #NYCLIfe #photography #phonography #iphoneography #iPhone7Plus

from my Instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/Bk2nPhBDcLm/

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Update for 7/3/18: Now We Know… What’s Next

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“Really, Little Jacob?  How do you know it’s true?” Julio asked.

“When we spoke with Mary Manchester one of the members of the UN’s Human Negotiating 
Team, tasked with working out a peace deal with the Conva, she said that very thing to us.”

“Did she say anything about the ecological disaster, itself?” Julio asked.

“Nothing specific.  I don’t think she knew anything specific.”

“She didn’t seem to me to care about the specifics,” KJ said.  “It was like she was willing to work with them or to trust them.  At least, that was the vibe I got.”

“Fair enough,” Julio said. “But we’re going to need some of those specifics if we want to make the best decisions moving forward.”

“Do the Conva have a news media?” KJ asked. 

“Yes, but their media is a bit like hours in that they can’t report on things they don’t know about. If they did, we could just ask anyone on the street of the Fire Escape Dimension and they would tell us.”

“This is just like how Exxon knew about global warming in the 1970s but never told anyone. Reporters couldn’t report on that either.”

“It sounds like our job just got more complicated,” KJ said. “Now we got to tell the whole Conva people the truth some how.”

“Let’s stay on t-topic here, KJ. We need to find out what their plans are with our dimension.”

“Yeah, but if everyone knew they could be a good tool against what ever cover up they must be doing to keep this disaster secret.”

“True, b-b-but—“

“Priorities!” Green yelled suddenly. We all looked over at her, each of us very startled. She saw how surprised we were and smiled. “I was looking for right word and… found it.”

Jill smiled.  “Exactly.  First things, first.  We start with finding out what their specific plans are and if we can learn more about this coming disaster, we do it.  If not, that’s n-next.”