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Dark Horizons

Dark Horizons

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Published by Joé McKen
Dark Horizons | Parts 1, 2 & 3

Some hundred years into the future, New York City is a sprawling ghost city, devoid of all life and movement. Suddenly, a visitor arrives for the first time in many, many years ...
Dark Horizons | Parts 1, 2 & 3

Some hundred years into the future, New York City is a sprawling ghost city, devoid of all life and movement. Suddenly, a visitor arrives for the first time in many, many years ...

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Published by: Joé McKen on Jul 31, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/06/2010

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D
 ARK 
H
ORIZONS
 Written by Joé McKen
 
J
M
C
EN
— PART ONE —
The Dead City
It was a calm and tepid May night. The moon was shining bright in the starry sky, casting itseerie pearly glow upon the parched clouds and giving the waters and buildings below asurreal, almost phantomlike aura. A low, plaintive breeze made the few trees sway slightly,their leaves tentatively bristling before settling back down to a deathly still.The massive towers of dark glass, steel and stone that populated the island stuck up likea forest of needles towards the sky. Their windows were blackened, mostly broken, andlooked as though light hadn’t shone through them in decades. The buildings’ facades wereprominently cracked and crumbling, the rubble from which formed mounds of debris in thecity streets hundreds of feet below. Once bustling with life and action, these asphaltpathways were now silent and still, covered in a chaotic mess of rusted-through cars, fallenstreetlamps, and other random garbage and debris that would’ve made walking amongstthem a true navigational nightmare.However, no-one was walking around. There hadn’t been a sign of human life in New  York City for what had obviously been a very long time. Only insects and the rare animalmanaged to eke out a living in what was now a sprawling, towering ghost city.Suddenly, the first hint of anything out of the ordinary appeared high in the sky, farabove the skyscrapers. The clouds seemed to glow brighter and brighter, some yellow flooding in with the moon’s silver, until a hole was formed and brilliant rays of light shonethrough, dissipating the clouds around them as though being shooed away. The bright beams heralded the arrival of a large metallic craft that slowly descended towards theground, its dazzling searchlights probing the dark expanse below. A low, resonating hummixed with the sounds of hissing air were heard as the ship carefully aimed and fired itsthrusters, guiding it towards the ground with surgical precision. Wing-like structures on each side of the craft suddenly deployed and pivoted, revealinglanding gears that positioned themselves as the vessel neared the ground. The thrusterssuddenly hissed sharply, slowing the spacecraft to near-halt just feet above the ground as itssearchlights probed all around it, giving the ship the appearance of a gigantic and positively surreal-looking disco ball. With one last shudder, the landing gears finally pressed againstthe ground, compressing slightly under the ship’s weight. Small jets of steam hissed andspluttered here and there as the spacecraft finalized its landing procedure.
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D
 ARK 
H
ORIZONS
Cast in its own light, a slightly rusty plaque at the front of the ship read in large letters:USAF PROELIATOR The house-sized craft rested on the ground for a few moments, its engines slowly whirringdown and the streams of steam dissipating in the lukewarm night air. A sudden sharphissing was heard as a hatch at the back of the ship lowered until it met the ground, forminga ramp into the ship’s brightly-lit interior. The light was broken by a silhouette in the formof a human, silent and unmoving, surveying the area from the top of the ramp. An unknownarrival on an unknown mission.The figure slowly started down the ramp, and as it stepped onto terra firma the lightsinside the ship automatically dimmed, extinguishing the blinding effect and throwing theperson into view. It was a woman, and her appearance was one quite akin to the ship she’d just left. She wore an advanced, hi-tech suit and was decked out in a variety of gadgets andequipment, most noticeable of which was the intimidating and futuristic-looking rifle sheheld at her side. Something about her strict appearance and demeanor indicated she wouldn’t hesitate to use it. A small patch on the chest of her suit identified her read “CAPT.E. AMANTI”.She paused, reached up to her temple where a sort of device was mounted to a smallheadset, and activated a little switch; at once, a powerful beam of light materialized from adeceptively small lens that was affixed there. She slowly looked around, scanning the dark surroundings, the headlight illuminating the ground for dozens of feet before her. Her lefteye was hidden behind a flickering screen mounted to the headset, casting a pale green glow over her face which gave her a slightly sickly look. Even with this however, she was stillremarkably pretty. Her shoulder-length, reddish-blonde hair was tied back in a tight bun,and her deep green eyes, glittering in the ship’s lights, were sharp and calculating as they focused on the Vision Enhancement Display Scanner (VEDS) screen deployed over her face.The enhanced display allowed her to see with superhuman acuity even in the lowest-lit of environments. A slight breeze blew by, rustling her hair. Captain Amanti looked slightly uneasy as shesurveyed the area through her VEDS screen, taking in every detail of the land. She and the
 Proeliator 
had landed in some sort of vast clearing, where the gentle slopes were covered ina patchwork of grass that struggled to take hold upon the barren soil, the relatively flatterrain broken only by myriads of what turned out to be old, carbonized tree stumps. They  were haunting reminders of just how lush with beautiful greenery Central Park used to be,now so very long ago.
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