I'm not saying the following text is any good. NaNoWriMo isn't necessarily about writing things that are good, it's about writing a lot, and hopefully some good stuff comes out of it. At least, that's how I've approached it. All this may change, of course, but I'm posting a few excerpts here so you have some idea of the kind of world the game inhabits. Woo! Feedback welcome.
"Well, a new study came out today. From the "Center for Climate Research". It's..."
"Look," John cut in. "You can't believe any of those studies. Things like the 'Center for Climate Research' - what kind of name is that? It's partisan politics, trying to smear companies like ours. Good companies that provide hundreds of thousands of jobs..." He was on autopilot, now. Indignant. Passionate. On the offensive. Who was she to question the integrity of Exxo America? Who provided jobs to working Americans? Who gave hundreds of millions to education programs and charities? Who, "...wait, what did you say?" John stammered.
"It's a positive feedback loop," Sarah said, frustrated that it's taken this long to actually get a word in edgewise. "Incontrovertible. And new. No one understood this before, but in less than twenty years, every coastal city in the world will be underwater. And a summer day in San Francisco in 2015 is going to be, on average, 125 degrees Fahrenheit."
A thousand images flashed through John's mind. Graphs of lines going up and to the right. EXXO's quarterly stock report. Projected global temperature. He knew. He knew they knew. He knew that his boss understood the potential for an event like this, and that his job was to go before Congress and paint a rosy picture or their stock price was screwed and his bonus was screwed and without all that crap he'd have lost his house in Cabo. He didn't want to lose the Cabo house. He loved that place.
"You think evil is being some moustache-twirling villain in some comic book? It's not. No one does that. No one's out to be a supervillain so they can take over the world and crush their enemies and live in some secret mountain lair like some Bond movie. Evil's not wearing a white suit and stroking a cat, John."
"Then what is it, Sarah. You some f-ing saint or something?"
"Your testimony ended the world, John. It's over. For all of us. And there's no going back. In twenty years this place is going to be under water, and your vacation home is going to be uninhabitable because it'll be so hot that you'll die. We had a chance to change things. To turn them around. Fifteen years ago, you could have done something different. But you chose your house in Cabo and you screwed us all. You killed the goddamn world."
"I was just doing my job, Sarah, I..." John said. He was. He was just doing his job.
“You’re what, 50 years old?” Whitman asked.
“Fifty-two,” Gabriel replied.
“So you remember what it was like,” Marshall said, as he pulled a chair up next to the table & gestured for Gabriel to take a seat.
“Yeah. Before. How old are you?”
“Thirty-four,” Whitman replied.
“Do you remember?”
“I don’t know. I think I do. I feel like I remember seeing the sun. I remember the sky being blue. I remember it being really hot. But it’s just flashes of things. Maybe it was a book I read as a kid. Maybe it was reality. What do you really remember, when you’re four?”
“Yeah. I don’t know, son,” Gabriel chuckled. “I remember the way that dirt felt, before it all turned to dust. I don’t know why I remember, or what I was doing. But I remember feeling the dirt squeeze between my toes and looking up at the sky and laughing.”
“How would you like to do that again?” Whitman asked, serious.
Sasha sprinted forward. The Nuke lifted its head, as if quizzically, and watched as Sasha sprinted towards them. It trudged a step back. Pop, pop, pop. Three little plasma balls crackled through the air. The first flew over the Nuke’s left shoulder. The next two landed dead center in its chest. The Nuke’s arm lurched, shocked by the blast. A whirr, a crackle, then THOOM. The stray shot missed Sasha by feet, but the pressure wave from the slug knocked her off balance. She slid on the ground, kneeling on one knee.
The Nuke staggered, not braced for the force of the blast, the gun knocked them off balance. Sasha ran towards them, firing a few shots from the hip. As she closed in on them, she held the rifle in her right arm, and clenched her left fist. Four panels on the back of her armor opened up, the white plastic panels revealing a network of black solar panels underneath. The panels crackled with energy, and a blue blade formed around her left fist - two feet long like a push-dagger. Not something you swing. Something you stab with. She leapt into the air and dove toward the staggering Nuke, and twisting her whole body, lunged, blade-first into the Nuke’s chest.
The blade didn’t ‘sink in’ to the Nuke’s chest. Its armor was too thick for that. But the blade was made of energy - it wasn’t meant to puncture armor. It was meant to deliver a massive overload to the suit’s control systems and shut the whole thing down. The lights on the Nuke’s suit shut off. Its body shuddered, and it collapsed into a rusting heap.
He approached the suit. Stepped into a boot, then the other. One arm in. Fit each finger in the glove. Next arm in. The two men folded the suit around him. Then latched it shut. “THUNK” one latch shut. Then another. It was hot in the suit. He knew he wasn’t the first who’d been in it. The metal of the suit was already suffused with radiation. He felt it warm his skin. The men checked the outside of the suit. Grabbed the hoses & pulled them. Inspected all the fittings and latches.
Solomon began to sweat. “Hot in here,” he said. One of the men looked at him briefly, then went back to their work. A forklift drove in front of him, and pulled up to his back, lowering the massive reactor and cooling tank onto his back. Everything in the suit settled a few inches, as half a ton of gear was latched to it. The two men talked to each other as they ran through the diagnostic procedures. A “whoosh” of water as the system was connected to the suit’s cooling hoses. Immediately, the temperature in the suit dropped to tolerable levels. Solomon was still sweating, and the viewports fogged over.
“System is go,” one of the men said. Solomon heard it as “Shhstm ish ghhh”. A whisper. Being in the suit was like watching the world from a distance. The reactor started. Solomon had expected something dramatic. A bang, or a bright flash of light. But nothing - it started in silence. The only indication anything was happening was the whoosh of water through the suit’s cooling system, and moments later, the first bloom of steam from its vents.
The men were gone. A series of lights lit up green, and a huge doorway on the far side of the room opened. Light bloomed from the opening, with a brightness Solomon had never experienced. He raised his arm, and with a delay, the motors in his suit’s arm brought it to shield his eyes. He took a step forward. THOOM. Then another. It was like walking through waist-deep water. Everything felt slow and deliberate and delayed. He stepped forward into the world and with extraordinary finality, the hatch door closed behind him.
He was Above Ground.