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> Scapegoat
Dantrag
post Dec 29 2006, 05:04 PM
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This is in no way TES related, but I figured I'd share anyway. It's already finished, but I'm going to post it in small parts so that it's easier to read.

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Scapegoat


“You’ll do it, or you will face a court marshal.” The gruff General McDowell commanded threateningly.

“It’s a civilian ship!” replied a young man of eighteen, sitting in a chair with numerous electrodes attached to his head.

“Damn it, Cedric, the Russians are using it to transport weapons! Fire now!” McDowell shouted angrily.

“Yes, Sir.” Cedric replied reluctantly as he flipped the single switch on the arm of his chair.

Instantly, the image of General McDowell’s angry face was replaced with a view of outer space from the vantage point of a starship’s bridge. He was seeing through the eyes of the ship’s captain, made possible through the use of a chip surgically implanted in the Captain’s brain. Cedric was now accustomed to the feeling of having a passive role in someone else’s body, but at first it had been one of the strangest feelings he had ever experienced.

“Fire.” He commanded, repeating the general’s order through the captain’s earpiece.

“Yes, Sir.” The Captain replied.

Cedric had no sooner seen the explosion than an entire fleet of Russian ships pounced on them, seemingly out of nowhere. The United States had attacked a civilian starship. More than enough cause for war.

“Retreat!” Cedric shouted at the captain.

The captain hesitated, panic obviously setting in.

“Retreat!” he repeated again, this time more forcefully. Cedric’s vision was reduced to static before he flipped the switch to return to his own body.

“Wake up, Cedric,” a thick German accent woke him.


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The Metal Mallet
post Dec 29 2006, 06:02 PM
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Wow, this introduction is quite appealing. Seems as though there's a futuristic Cold War, only that it's obviously just gotten hot. I definitely want to see where this one goes, even if it isn't TES related.


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minque
post Dec 29 2006, 08:06 PM
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Waaay to go Danny! I´m glad to see you writing again! And this one looks promising....keep it coming ya hear!


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jack cloudy
post Dec 29 2006, 08:22 PM
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I'm particularly intrigued by how the ships are commanded from remote. What if the line gets hacked? (Wait, maybe it did. I don't see that ship just blowing up a few civvies and start a war. The German accent at the end was suspicious.) Please go on.


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Dantrag
post Dec 30 2006, 06:30 AM
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here you go, maybe it will answer some questions.

------

Cedric groggily opened his eyes, slowly returning from the nightmare of his past. He became aware of an ache in his back, probably due to his bed of newspapers and sidewalk.

“What do you want, Franz?” he asked his human alarm clock, and only friend.

“Somebody’s been looking for you.” Franz said flatly as he helped Cedric to his feet.

“The feds?” he asked fearfully.

Franz shrugged. “Don’t know. Real shady looking guy. Maybe he just look to do business.”

“Then why did you act like it was so important, Burger?”

“He had a gun.”

Cedric knew it had to be serious when his friend didn’t react angrily to being called ‘Burger’.

“Was he just another street druggie liking for his next fix, or do you think he was looking to off me?”

Franz shrugged again. “Owe someone money?”

“You know how bad business has been. I owe almost everyone money.”

“Maybe your luck change.” Franz said optimistically.

“Hasn’t in two years, why should it now?” he asked, not expecting to be answered. “Anyway, thanks for the tip, Franz.”

Franz Nuremburger was one of the many German refugees that had immigrated to the United States to escape the war with Russia. Europe was becoming the most war-torn country in the world. The United States had only stayed out of the war by blaming the whole incident with the civilian ship on a ‘Rogue Neural Tactician’. Also known as Cedric Byron Black. Perhaps the similarity of being unfairly put in the middle of governmental issues was the common ground that held Cedric and Franz’s friendship together.

Cedric and Franz then waved their farewells, going their separate ways. Cedric walked through the alleys, no longer revolted by the sight of the mounds of trash or the hideous graffiti that marred formerly proud, functional buildings due to two whole years of hiding from the feds on the streets. In his efforts to stay unnoticed by the government, he was forced to avoid all networked technology, lest his unique ID code become a beacon for them to follow. He happened by an information terminal where a careless passerby had left a newsreel playing on the screen. He paused for a second to listen to the story, absorbing every second of the use of such luxuries.

“This morning, the Secretary of State John Cain was found murdered in his home. Investigators have not revealed the cause of death, but foul play is suspected.”

Cedric selected another news story, happy to use someone else’s ID to access such informational gold. This time, the all-too-famous Ahab Cromwell appeared on the screen. Cromwell was the head of an organization called the Soldiers for Communist America, or SCA. They weren’t actual soldiers, but they fought fiercely on the political front. The organization had gained much prestige over the past couple years, even boasting a few congressional seats.

Cedric stopped watching the screen as he suddenly got the feeling of being watched. He looked around discreetly, trying to spot his unwelcome follower. He failed.

Paranoia set in. He walked at a brisk pace away from the terminal. He put his hand in the pocket of his ragged jeans and gripped the butterfly knife that resided there. He kept looking over his shoulder and saw no one, but he could still feel those eyes piercing him. After what seemed like an eternity of suspenseful fear, he realized that his panic had overridden his sense of direction. He had made a wrong turn and found himself in an alley with a dead end. He turned around quickly to go back the way he came, but he was too slow. Two men that looked like they belonged in a club as bouncers blocked his way.

This post has been edited by Dantrag: Dec 30 2006, 06:31 AM


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The Metal Mallet
post Dec 30 2006, 06:41 AM
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Hmm, all this information about Cedric slowly being revealed is a nice and interesting approached, Dantrag. I'm starting to get the feeling why this story is called "Scapegoat". It also seems that this version of the world you created is quite gritty and raw. I like it!

Can't wait for the next update and see what this tuffs are interested in. Or more likely, why their employer is interested in Cedric.


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jack cloudy
post Dec 30 2006, 12:45 PM
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Hmm, that came as a surprise. Sounds like a pretty bleak future to me.


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Dantrag
post Dec 31 2006, 12:57 AM
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“I don’t want any trouble.” Cedric stammered, unsure if these men were feds or simply hired muscle.

Neither man replied. One raised a gun and fired.

Cedric felt an intense pain in his chest and looked down. “A dart? What the-“ he collapsed then, as the tranquilizer clouded his brain and pushed his consciousness down into darkness.

He came to, and found that someone had placed him upright in an office chair. He sat up, and saw that he was face to face with a man he had seen not too long ago. Ahab Cromwell.

“Hello, Mr. Black.” Cromwell greeted as he toyed with Cedric’s knife.

“Hello.” Cedric replied timidly, as if he were answering a question that he wasn’t one hundred percent sure of.

Cromwell put the knife down on the desk in front of him as he pulled up a file on his computer.

“Cedric Byron Black,” he began to read. “Wanted in all fifty-six states for an act of terrorism, former Neural Tactician of high marks…”

Cedric squirmed uncomfortably in his seat, knowing that the file was confidential.

“…Discharged in 2134 for ordering the destruction of a civilian starship.” Cromwell stopped reading and leaned in closer to Cedric. “It’s all bull, isn’t it, Mr. Black?”

“What?”

“The story. It’s bull, right?”

Cedric looked at Cromwell suspiciously. “Why?”

“You were a scapegoat. A convenient person to unjustly lay the blame on.”

“Thanks for the news update.” Cedric said sarcastically, recovering some gall after his initial fear.

“Do you want help or not, Mr. Black?”

“What can you do to help me?” Cedric pressed aggressively. “Hold a respectable job for me? Start me a bank account? Give me a fake ID? Those are all easily traced, so don’t offer me any of this crap.”

“Look,” Cromwell began, obviously beginning to lose his patience. “You’ve survived two years without being caught, which is a miracle in and of itself. You can’t expect this miracle of yours to last forever. You’re going to need your name cleared, and I can help you with that.”

“What are you going to do, hack the Whitehouse database?” Cedric asked, keeping up his cynical attitude.
“Are you a hacker, Mr. Cromwell?”

“No, I’m a revolutionary.” Cromwell answered with a grin. “And I’m willing to work for you if you’ll work for me.”

“What do you want with a washed up Neural Tactician? There are no battles for me to win.”

“Oh, there are plenty of battles, and I’ll need you to utilize both your skills as a Tactician, and your skills as a street thug.” Cromwell handed Cedric the knife.

“I don’t understand.” Cedric admitted, shoving his knife deep into his pocket.

“You have no doubt heard about John Cain’s fate, as well as the Speaker of the House’s untimely death.”

“Yeah…” Cedric said, beginning to see the picture.

“Well the Secretary of Defense is next. I don’t think you will have any objections to his death.”

The Secretary of Defense was a soldier formerly known as General McDowell.


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treydog
post Dec 31 2006, 05:25 PM
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This is some excellent sci-fi work. Intrigue abounds and we can't be sure who are the good guys- or even if there are any....


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minque
post Dec 31 2006, 10:37 PM
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Ahhh.....this is really getting exciting....and as treydog said, who is good and who is bad?? blink.gif


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The Metal Mallet
post Dec 31 2006, 11:29 PM
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The plot thickens or so they say. Things are looking up and down for Cedric right now. I'm sure the things he'll have to do to clear his name will not be the most fun things to do.

I look forward to seeing the further development of this story.


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jack cloudy
post Jan 1 2007, 12:17 AM
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Dang, I don't trust the new guy. Frankly, is there anyone around who can be trusted?


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Dantrag
post Apr 15 2007, 04:04 AM
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Wow. I forgot I waws sharing this one. Here's the next update. (four months later)

-------

“And what will killing him achieve?”

“Mr. Black, this country is ruled by the rich. They control everything. And the get richer by feeding like leeches from the lifeblood of the common man. Cops don’t help; they’re paid by these wealthy ones, the one percent of America that actually has the power. And when one of the members of this wealthy elite makes a potentially revealing or disastrous mistake, there is always a lesser man to take the fall. You know this better than anyone, Mr. Black. McDowell did the same to you, two years ago.”

Cedric fell silent, mulling it over in his head. After a few long moments he finally spoke. “The end justifies the means.”

“Let’s get down to business then.”

Cedric learned then that the SCA was actually made up of real soldiers. Their base of operations held many advanced weapons and other technologies. His hope for the future began to flourish in his mind as he envisioned a United States in which there was true equality and a community that worked together, rather than competing with itself.

Cromwell pushed a button on his desk, causing a three-dimensional hologram to appear on the desk.

“This,” he explained, “Is McDowell’s vacation home. He is supposed to arrive at noon today. You are going to make sure that he doesn’t.”

“How?”

“I thought you’d never ask.” Cromwell said with a smirk as he stood up. “Follow me.”

Cedric followed his new employer out of the office and found that he had no idea where he was. The cityscape outside the large window was an unfamiliar one. He and Cromwell stepped into an elevator.

45, 44, 43,…3, 2, 1. He watched the digital numbers silently as the elevator descended to the lowest floor of the building. Cedric assumed it was underground, since he saw no windows as he exited the elevator and walked down the hall. At the end of the hallway, Cromwell opened a set of double doors.

The first thing that caught Cedric’s eye was the all-too-familiar chair. It had a switch on the arm of it, and a set of electrodes sat neatly on the seat.


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The Metal Mallet
post Apr 15 2007, 04:22 AM
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About time Dantrag!

Hehe, anyways. Nice to see you posting this up once again. I kinda have a bad feeling crawling my back about Cedric's new employeers. Sure they might be saying things that'll get Cedric to work for em, but I got that feeling that Cedric is merely another pawn.

I guess I'll just have to see. Do continue this much sooner will ya?


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Dantrag
post Apr 22 2007, 06:01 AM
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“Sit down, Mr. Black.”

“But-“

“If you’re worried about being traced, don’t be. I have the best hackers in the country concealing your ID code from the government’s AI.”

Cedric gave in and sat down in the chair. It felt good to return to the former glory of his past. A man in a lab coat wearing thick glasses attached the electrodes to his head while Cromwell laid out instructions.

“When you flip the switch, Mr. Black, you will find yourself aboard the U.S.S. Treachery, in the head of Captain Murphy. Act as if there is an emergency, and order Murphy to fire on McDowell’s ship. It will be leaving the International Space Station in three minutes.”

Cedric flipped the switch and as expected, he was seeing through the eyes of Captain Murphy.

“Captain Murphy,” he said in an official tone, “Do you read me?”

“Aye, Sir. Neural communication confirmed.”

“Captain, this is a matter of utmost importance, and national security is at stake. I need to to follow my orders without hesitation and without question.”

“Aye, Sir.”

“In approximately two minutes, a ship will leave the International Space Station. This ship is carrying Russian bombs that will be detonated upon reaching earth. More specifically, Washington, D.C. I want that ship blown to bits before it reaches Earth. Is that understood?”

“Aye, aye, Sir.” the captain replied as he barked orders to his crew, preparing to fire.

The two minutes seemed like an eternity, but finally, McDowell’s ship came into view.

“Don’t hesitate Captain. Do it.”

“Fire!” Captain Murphy ordered, and in answer, the ship in the distance lit up with flames.

His job complete, Cedric flipped the switch to return to his own head. He found the room empty. He stood, ripping the electrodes from his head.

“Cromwell!” he shouted, but nobody answered.

Suddenly, a loud noise surprised him, and Cedric looked over to see that the double doors had just been forced open.

“Cedric Byron Black, you are under arrest for the charges of…”

Cedric stopped listening to the officer as the betrayal became clear to him. He realized then that he would never be anything more than a scapegoat.


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minque
post Apr 22 2007, 04:20 PM
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Uff! Now then? Jeez.....what will become of Cedric now? That was a mean thing to do.......


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The Metal Mallet
post Apr 29 2007, 11:33 PM
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Heh, looks like my suspicions were correct. Scapegoat indeed; looks like Cedric has another murder laid on his hands. It's unfortunate but that is what happens when one jumps into things.

I hope Cedric manages to get out of this somehow. Good update.


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Dire Cheesecake
post May 1 2007, 10:02 AM
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Well, sucks to be Cedric huh? Fell for the same trick twice, shame on him. biggrin.gif
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