Apex Universe

Chronicles - Chapter 9


by Fernando Kornijezuk

He knew not much time was left to see the blue of the sky and the birds flying on the horizon. The scene, framed by the skeletons of the skyscrapers of a once-mighty megalopolis, looked like a painting of Dalí. Did anyone still remember the surrealist Catalan painter? The reality was that a high price was on his head. Everyone knew that. Living in the shadows became the only way to keep his dream alive. Oh, but he missed life outdoors.

- We should get back down, boss.


Despite his age, Hugo was an excellent assistant. Smart, attentive. A quick learner. Cedric liked keeping him around, teaching him one thing or another. Maybe one day he could be the one to carry on Cedric’s work.


- Go ahead, pal. I'll be here for only another five minutes – he replied.


The boy departed, deftly descending the pile of rubble they had climbed to get a better view. Then everything was silent.


His moment of peace was interrupted by the sound of short, steady steps moving up the little pile of garbage. Cedric turned and grinned when he saw his chubby childhood friend approaching. They exchanged a long hug and then stood gazing at the skyline again, together.

- You've got to stop this habit of arriving unnoticed, Simon.


- Cedric, you know this is the only way to be here.


- That’s true, old friend, that’s true. How are things over there?


- The same. Except you’re starting to bother them.


- Really?


- Well... not really, no. For now, you’re still in the “tolerable losses” column. But the bosses are starting to wonder where the loose pulleys are.


- Hmmm ... – Cedric kicked a rock down the mountain and watched it bounce around for a few seconds until it stopped near the carcass of an old Chevrolet Camaro. He continued. -... Our next job will be more daring. I need some new components to test an idea. I’m guessing your bosses won’t be happy about what my people are going to take.

Simon looked up and pondered for a while before answering his old friend. - You know... did you know that these truckers ... you know this plan won’t work, don’t you?


- ...Yes. I know. I think deep down, they know it too.


- I've always wondered why you decided not to use your damn technology on tractors, to plow a hell of a farm, to plant something, to build a new world outside those cursed walls.

Cedric could not hold back the laughter.


- You know me too well, Simon. That was indeed my first attempt! I spent half the Cubes I was able to smuggle on a group of farmers. They were amazed! We started to harvest and, with a bit of energy, hope began to emerge from the ground. But that was only until Hallstat realized what we were doing and the Corp took for themselves everything we had done. Everyone died but me. That was the second time I managed to escape from them. I think my elite squad of guardian angels must be tired.

- ... I didn’t know that.


- I know. It's not something I like to remember. K-TruckRacers, as they like to call themselves, are a plan that will not work for the long run. But they are a symbol. A spark. Someone who acts against the Corporations. Someone who shows us that there is life outside the Conglomerates ...

- ... and someone who will eventually be blown up by a Vigilante shot!


- Eventually. But what matters is what they’re able to do until then.


- They shoot each other, you know that, don’t you? They throw their trucks against their own comrades to get to the smuggling drop spot first!

- Yes, I know that. But they consider it even more valuable to rescue another fallen driver. Beneath those hard carcasses, they have a bizarre loyalty among themselves.

- And you expect them to be the heroes of the people?

- No. They'll never be heroes. They are too insane, too erratic. Too crazy. They will be the gun that will fire the starting shot of the true revolution.

Simon was silent. Cedric knew his friend might not agree with him, but he chose not to argue any longer.

- The girl, the reptile, is she still with you?


- Yeah. She's fantastic. Without her, it would have taken years to get to where we are now.


- Great. It was hard to get her out of that Conglomerate alive. I'm still afraid I might have left a trace.


- You did a good job, old friend. As always.


- ... I have to go. I've been away from the office too long. Some asshole will start asking questions.


-... Good to see you, Juarez. Drop by for a cup of coffee, sometime.


-... Good to see you, Mirt. When you can get the Nespresso machine working again, call me on my cell phone.

And he was gone. Cedric took one last look at the blue sky. It was time to return to his lab. That new idea had not left his mind and somehow the conversation with his old friend had aroused in Cedric a new sense of urgency.


Indeed, it really was a race against the clock.

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