Re: Ascension – A Community Development

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So, to recap, my life has become majorly weird since I arrived in Hong Kong for what was meant to be a nice relaxing holiday. First there is a mini earthquake and then there is an invasion of evil cyborgs. Right now I’m stuck around the back of a coffee shop with a complete stranger surrounded by gun wielding cyborgs and I think I’m going to be sick.
My entire body is shaking. My hands feel really weird, as if the bones are being rearranged very slowly, but it doesn’t hurt. My stomach feels awful and there is a ringing in my ears so bad I can’t hear the cyborgs guns being set to kill or whatever (if they even have settings).
Then it hits me, my stomach spasms, causing me to fall to my knees. Even over the ringing in my ears I hear the lasers shooting above my head, where my chest would have been a few seconds ago. My hands have started to hurt, my nails pulling at the skin of my fingers. I open my eyes and stare at them. To my horror, my nails are elongating and curving, becoming much thicker, almost claw like. My stomach spasms again and out of the corner of my eye I see the body of the barista slump to the ground beside me. My entire body starts to go numb and my mind becomes foggy. I can feel something else bubbling up from my subconscious.
The cyborgs are advancing on me; I can see their shadows and their feet as the draw closer. Then my mind changes, as if some primal animal instinct takes over. It happens so swiftly I’m not really sure I know what is going on. I remember leaping up, slashing out at the nearest cyborgs with the claws on my hands. It all seems blurry, but I know that none of the cyborgs survived, because when I regained my mind they were all lying on the floor in various different pieces, with long claw marks covering what’s left of their armor. I look down at my hands. They have returned to normal. My t-shirt is covered in a mixture of blood, oil and coffee. I’ll definitely need to replace it after I get out of this mess, although I doubt many of the shops are open at the moment.
Oh God, that guy, the barista. I rush over to him, but he is dead. His body is covered in scorch marks and dried blood from the lasers, but he looks so peaceful. Then I notice something, a piece of paper folded up in his hand. I carefully remove it and am taken aback when I see it has my name written on it. I open it up and begin to read.

To Kate Quinn
You do not know me but I know you, my name is Wong Li An and our meeting today was not a chance meeting. You have been dosed with an experimental drug known as Empty Vessel. If my plan has gone wrong and you are reading this note, then I am dead and you will know what the effects of Empty Vessel are. You are needed.
In my right trouser pocket you will find a small earpiece. If you put this in your ear it will translate speech from Mandarin to English for you, and your speech to Mandarin. We were aware of your problems in learning the language so this precaution was a necessary one.
You must find Ge Hong, the creator of Empty Vessel. He will help you. You must be brave. And you must run.

I screw up the note and shove it in my pocket. I then look over the dead body in front of me. I didn’t really want to go into the pockets of a dead man, it felt wrong, but I guess I had to. If the guy I was meant to be finding didn’t speak English, it would be much easier using the earpiece than my rubbish Chinese. I quickly slipped my hand into his pocket and grabbed this small metallic earpiece. It looked kind of like a futuristic in-ear headphone. Luckily it wasn’t damaged (or dirty, that would have been nasty), so I stuck it into my right ear.
As I got to my feet and waded my way through the bodies of the cyborgs my mind switched back to the note. What exactly this guy going to help me with exactly? Was he going to get rid of this Empty Vessel stuff from my body, or was it something to do with these cyborgs. I prayed that it wasn’t the later as I stepped out onto the street.
The street was deserted, bar the corpses of the unfortunate people who weren’t quick enough to escape the cyborgs. Luckily there didn’t seem to be any of them around, so I ran across the street and down an alleyway and out of sight. Those triangle ships were still hovering above the streets, so I didn’t want to take the chance of being seen and attacked, especially as I’m not entirely sure how to get back those claws.
I started to walk, starting my search for this Ge Hong, where ever and who-ever he is. As I walked I noticed a large mall off at the end of one of the streets. I smiled to myself. It would be nice to get a new t-shirt, but I have more important things to do at the moment. Anyway, those cyborgs are more likely to search for survivors in places where lots of people congregate. So I kept walking.

A Number Of Hours Later

I’m most definitely lost now. I’ve been walking for I don’t know how many hours and all I’ve managed to do is realize a map would have been a good idea. At least I’ve had something to eat. Luckily the shops are all abandoned. I grabbed myself some food and left the money by the till (it’s not like I’m a thief). The sun set as I sat down for my makeshift meal. I had reached the harbor by now and I had found myself a nice little spot to sit. It’s funny, but here you wouldn’t think there was anything going on at all, it just seems normal. I haven’t seen a single cyborg in hours.
‘Katherine Quinn. You are wanted by Ascension. You will come with us.’
Just my luck. I looked over my shoulder to where the voice had come from and, of course, a whole squad of them, at least a dozen. Me and my big mouth.
‘You will comply or you will be eliminated.’
I could feel the effects of that Empty Vessel stuff starting to happen again. My stomach tightened and my body felt numb, as if I was going to be sick. I looked down at my hands and I was surprised that they still looked normal.
The cyborgs advanced on me, raising their guns. The leader spoke again.
‘You have three seconds to comply or you will be eliminated. This is your final warning.’
As he spoke, sparks started to flicker between my fingers. I smiled to myself. Not exactly what I was expecting, but it’ll do. I stood up and smiled at the cyborgs.
‘Not this time boys.’
I raise my hands and huge arcs of electricity shot from my hands, wrapping themselves around the cyborgs. Grating, metallic shrieks filled the air as the cyborgs twitched and spasmed, their flesh burning and their robotic parts short-circuiting and flashing. Soon they all dropped to the ground, dead, and the electricity faded away.
I breathed a sigh of relief as the effects of Empty Vessel released their grip on my body and I turned back to the sunset.
Then a sharp pain shot across the back of my head and I fell forwards, unconscious.

Some Time Later

When I woke up my head was pounding. I could feel a welt starting to rise on the back of my head. Someone must have hit me with something.
I suddenly realized that I wasn’t in the same place anymore. I was in a building of some kind, possibly on of the warehouses on the harbor, judging by the large crates pilled up the walls. Then I noticed I wasn’t alone. I was surrounded by people, Chinese men, all dressed in black with red gloves on. One, I’d assume the leader, approached me. I shuffled backwards across the floor until my back was pressed against one of the crates. The man kneeled down until he was at eye level with me and he seemed to study me for a minute before he spoke.
I was slightly taken aback. The translator thing worked. I cast around in my mind for an answer, but none presented its self, so I decided to go for the obvious question.
‘[Who are you?]’ I asked, hoping the translator would mean he could understand me.
The man stood up and his compatriots moved forward until I was totally surrounded.
‘[My name is Yi Quantou,]’ he said proudly as he gestured to the other men, ‘[and we are the Crimson Hand.]’