My name is Madison Walker and my father went missing after trespassing in the Isolation. With personnel and resources scarce, the automated police force refuse to look into his disappearance. I am the only person searching for the truth. I work at a data reconstruction center to put myself through school. Having to submit and defend my thesis before graduation, I decided to continue my father’s work and reconstruct the events leading to the Isolation. It wasn’t long after I declared my thesis, I received a virtual construct in the Phatasm, an expertly rendered bar located within the Isolation. I assumed it was malware until it revealed an encrypted journal with my father’s handwriting on the cover. I believe my father was near explaining what caused the eastern coast of the Free Republic to become a quarantine zone and perhaps the source of the Technological Corruption. I also suspect, my father was not alone

Men, Machinery & Mechs

Men, Machinery & Mechs

Alarms traveled through the upgrades in Chicago's underworld. Alerts appeared in the eyes of the patrons and sirens must have sounded in the auditory enhancements. Lilith grabbed me by the hand, her grip far stronger than I anticipated. Pill-R gave her a nod and pointed to a metal hatch near the back of his vendor space. Later, Lilith explained he paid extra to be close to an escape. As we cleared tables filled with junk, he pulled a wire from one of his servers and slid it into a port just...

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Compassion is a Warrior’s Trait

Compassion is a Warrior’s Trait

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ Haven has a set of rules unlike anything in the surface world. There are guns on the hip of every patron, and while hands hover close by, sometimes even on the stock, they are never drawn. I would assume that money would reign supreme, but more often than not, I can hear the patrons discussing trade. Food serves as a currency in the city beneath Chicago. The rocket launcher from early is nearly a month worth of rations. I have to wonder if Haven exists to fill a need by...

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The Veil is Lifted: The Underbelly of Society

The Veil is Lifted: The Underbelly of Society

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ Lillith is not an ideal travel companion. She leads and expects me to follow. I ask questions and she rolls her eyes. She is not entertained with my resistance. The woman isn’t hostile, but she is aggressive. She warned me the first night on the street, trust nobody. It seems as if she lives by this creed. Currently I am a nobody. There are areas of Chicago I’ve never set foot in, I expected to head there, perhaps to the west side. Between the gangs and the obscene crime,...

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Trust No One, Except Her

Trust No One, Except Her

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ By midday the church is busy. I spent the better part of an hour lurking across the plaza, watching the needy go in and out of the doors. It has one of the strongest community programs in the state. From a food kitchen to rehab, to spiritual guidance, they mend bodies and souls. There are moments when I feel in utter awe of how a religion barely two centuries old has managed to root itself in Chicago.  My shirt smells of damp and the hoodie I found in the basement has...

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Hiding Amongst the Damned

Hiding Amongst the Damned

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ I can't stop thinking I should go home.  The sense of adventure vanished quickly. The first night I attempted to stay at a homeless shelter. Despite my clothes being freshly washed and looking well fed, I thought a shelter would be the fastest way to acclimate to my life on the run. In line with nearly a hundred folks much more in need than myself, I noted the woman admitting people had a device in her hand. Hand print scans are required to enter the shelter.  I slept on...

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A Fugitive on the Fringes

A Fugitive on the Fringes

/*/Entry Encrypted/*/ I have never broken the law. More than that, I have never been in trouble for anything other than childish mischief. My entire life has operated within societal expectations. I'm not sure if I should be proud of this, or disappointed I didn't push more boundaries as a teenager.  Today I broke the law. I planned on asking my Edward, my boss, for additional work that would by default grant me higher security clearance. When he called me to his corner office, I had almost...

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Chicago’s Chronicle of Blood

Chicago’s Chronicle of Blood

I once asked my father where babies come from. It's a question every kid asks, and for some reason, every parent lies. He responded with, "The stork of course." Most kids would have accepted the answer and moved along, but I had more questions. How much weight could a stork carry? What if the child was large? Where was the magical land of pre-diapered babies that these birds stole? And how did the storks know which people wanted babies from? The response didn't make sense, and I've never been...

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In the Presence of Nostradamus

In the Presence of Nostradamus

“Be seen, Madison Walker.” I froze at the boom of his voice, afraid of what awaited me on the other side of the massive wooden door. The preacher kindly opened it, gesturing for me to step inside. At first, I wasn’t sure if the darkness was my eyes adjusting from the light pouring through the hallway windows. But as the preacher shut the door, I could hardly tell if my eyes were open or close. I could hear him breathing, a steady in and out. I could only assume it was minutes before I started...

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Digesting A Broken & Uncaring System

Digesting A Broken & Uncaring System

Starvation is only avoided by graciousness of the government. Long ago, the east coast fell victim to radiation, leaving large chunks of land incapable of producing crops. As displaced citizens relocated to the midwest, food distribution became problematic. For those like me, government jobs provide a steady stream of rations when they were available. However, many Americans are not nearly as lucky. Even when they have credit for rations, many distribution centers run dry from the demand. I am...

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The Embrace of Nostradamus

The Embrace of Nostradamus

I often feel invisible. I'm sure I'm not the only one. In the bigger picture of the universe, I'm a nobody. Average at best. Hopefully I'll leave the world a better place than when I entered it. But overall, there are more important people, things, and events than me. I'm not even unique in having this point of view. I'm sure many people feel their significance is barely noticeable. "I see you." The Church of Nostradamus offers people the opportunity to define themselves, but more so, be seen....

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