A collab story about a technologically advanced world in chaos, where magic is persecuted and feared. When a teenage boy is caught practising his magic alone, he is arrested and taken to his death. Will he manage to escape?
Lorden was hunkered down, in a dark alley, concealed by a grubby wheelie bin. And he was practising magic.
If his guardian knew where he was, she'd be phoning him up on his PI straight away. But thankfully he'd used a cloaking spell so she couldn't track him. She'd just think he'd turned it off.
He was leaning against the crumbling wall of a tumbledown Accommodation Block, his brown eyes obscured by his shock of raven hair. It was a cold night; ice was crystallising on the old wheelie bin opposite him, but the pungent smell of rotting rubbish still perforated the frigid air. His friends had just left for their own houses - he could hear their voices fading away, insignificant in the bowels of the city.
Lorden had told none of them about his ability. Everyone knew what had happened when the Compliance Teams had caught up with Alo Parkin the other day, when he had been reported controlling fireworks with magic. But Lorden wasn't scared - no-one was bringing him to ground
He shot a small fireball at a crumpled crisp packet on the floor beside him, half filled with mouldy crisps. He watched with mild amusement as the crisps inside crackled angrily as the flames devoured them.
It hadn't been all too long ago that he had discovered his powers. Luckily, no-one had been there. He had been angry with his guardian, who he simply knew as Aunt - he had been yelling at her for searching his PI for incriminating texts - he had gestured violently, and the telescreen behind her had blown up, singeing her vase of fake flowers on the sideboard. She had been annoyed - Lorden knew she still suspected him, but that did not matter - she had no proof.
The crisp packet had congealed into a mangled blob on the floor before him. He raised his hand carefully, his brow furrowed in concentration ... and the blob wobbled ... it rocked ... and it rose into the air.
Concentrating harder now ... he raised his hand and pointed at the nearest plasma lamp. It went out with a pop but the crisp packet fell to the floor ...
... and then he heard footsteps. Getting to his feet, Lorden watched as an Officer of the RedLamp District Compliance Team emerged at the entrance to the alleyway, his silhouette sharp and threatening in the shadow of the brightly-lit main street.
At once, Lorden began to back away, even as the Compliance Team Officer shouted "Stop, magician!"
By now, Lorden knew he would have activated his GPS alarm. The Compliance Team would know exactly where he was and what he was.
Instead of running on to the left or right, Lorden dived out of sight behind another wheelie bin. The CTO came forwards cautiously, his rushlight scanning greedily for any sign of the boy. Lorden could easily hear his gruff breathing over the thrum of the levs in the main street.
As the CTO's rushlight came sweeping behind the wheelie, Lorden dived from cover, tackling the CTO's legs before he could be tased. Caught by surprise, the CTO fell to the ground, his rushlight cutting out in a muddy puddle, even as the sirens announced the arrival of police levs in the street not one hundred yards away.
Lorden turned wildly, desperate for an escape route - more CTOs were tramping down the back alleys from all sides, tasers drawn, ready to fire their red plasma bolts at him - and they would not stun, but kill, for the Compliance Teams of Dartoc-6 never showed mercy with magicians -
- and too right, the red blasts of tasers set to kill mode were soon scything down the alleys, throwing eerie spots onto the damp walls and illuminating the copper pipes on the wall of the warehouse. Lorden ran down the one unmanned alley, the one that ended in a dead end -
- and the CTOs followed him slowly, almost lazily, knowing there was no escape. Lorden's mind was racing - they would string him up, torture him, kill him slowly and painfully, blindfold him and bind his hands so there would be no casting magic to save himself.
And Lorden panicked. And he waved his hand crazily, his thoughts spinning out of control -
- and his mouth fell open as the nearest CTO was blasted off his feet, backwards down the alley, into his fellows, who were knocked flat on their heels. Lorden ran to pick up his dropped taser, and let loose a siphon of plasma bolts which ricocheted around in the narrow space -
- then solid bullets came plinking in his direction. Riot teams were here as well, spraying the corridor with machine-gun fire. Lorden dived away again and sprinted into the next street.
He completely overlooked the CTO hiding in an alcove. Before he could react he was punched full-on in the skull, which then bashed into the wall opposite. Head spinning in pain and confusion, he put his hand out to break his fall and it landed in a pool of oil, which immediately caught fire - his magic was slipping out of his control - the control he had been so carefully honing -
- and then the flames sped across the petroleum, like some sick, giant fuse from the Ancient western movies - straight to its source, a discarded fuel tank from which it had been spilt. Without thinking, Lorden raised his hands in defence - miraculously, a magical shield was flung up in front of him - but the CTO wasn't so lucky. He was thrown off his feet in a punch of hot air, as the tank exploded, blowing a hole into the side of the wheelie bin.
Lorden collapsed to his knees, suddenly drained. HIs unintentional magic had cost him dearly. The vision of a CTO's shiny boots flickered before him before he blacked out.