So a few moths back I decided to sit down and write out my character Terry "TAG" Flint's backstory like a small novel instead of you usual twenty questions deal. He's a graffiti artist, both in the flesh and in the matrix who has become a matrix hacker. Working his way up off the streets he became a runner. This is only the first part, but I've lost motivation for a number of reasons, and though I probably won't ever finish I figure Dumpshock might get a kick out of it. If you have any comments, critiques, or analysis about my writing I'd be more than glad for the feedback. grinbig.gif Excuse any typos or grammatical errors, I'm terrible with typing. (Curse looking at the keys while I type)

The bright neon icons and fluorescent threads of matrix connections sprawled out of my line of sight and into the near infinite chasm that was the matrix. Ads for the latest and greatest commlink barraged me from one side, and a couple of possible female interest profiles exploded in front of my icon. With a thought, the digital me zapped them away and sent up a firewall to keep any others from bothering me. The golden ring of fire surrounded the cartoony figure dressed in baggy jeans and a black hoodie with the hood pulled down to far to see his face. In his hands he held a mallet three times to large with the word “TAG” written on it. The images and icons were made up of billion of trillions of digital bytes, carved and designed to look the way people wanted in our digital world known as the matrix. He was my digital personality, my icon, my persona on the matrix, whatever you want to call it, but when I’m on the ‘trix, that’s me. My name’s TAG, and I’m a hacker. This here’s my tale…

My legs pumped, churning out as much energy as they could to carry my scrawny body down the alley way. I could feel the muscles burning inside them, eating away like battery acid. About twenty paces behind me a garbage can flipped into the air. My wiry body sprang a few more steps passed the back of some old Chinese noodle house that was just gang turf now, no point in jumping from the pot to the flame. I risked a glance back as I heard something crash and a loud snarl.

Freeze frame kids, that’s Tony “Cruzer” Mendoza. Yeah, the big ugly one. I know what you’re thinking, why and the hell would someone piss off a nine foot troll with horns sharp enough to slice deli meat on? And a troll sized knife, which might as well have been a damn claymore, in his right hand indicated he was after my ass for blood. In my defense people… it wasn’t really my fault. Okay, well maybe it was, but the big guy didn’t have to get so emotional about it.
Tony had slammed his massive shoulder into the side of a heavy metal dumpster nearly coated in graffiti of all kinds. Thank God for public sanitation services, though it probably hadn’t been emptied in three years. Most of the art on the dumpster matched the green and white that was covering the alley in most parts. Green and white, this was Griver gang territory. And Tony was a Griver, and a scary one at that.

The troll had made the probably one ton dumpster skid back two feet or so and the mental image of me smeared across the pavement as that wrecking ball of a metahuman pulverized me flash through my mind. My legs suddenly found the urge to run a bit faster. There was no way I could keep a lead on Tony in a straight race, fast I may be, nine feet tall with a legspan to match I am not. I was defeated by sheer physics in a straight race. Damn physics.
I hooked the first right I could, my ratty shoes skidding a bit on the pavement and a nearly toppled. I caught the gleaming sword knife in my peripheral vision and I managed to stay up. I didn’t even want to see a mental of image of what he could do to me with that thing. I tore off down the small alleyway as fast as I could, bounding back and forth around trash cans and the like. Hopefully it’d slow him down enough for me to get a decent lead.

His road pierced the Detroit night sky and I stumbled a bit and stopped running, spinning back around, completely out of breath, my hands on my knees and all. The hulking troll that was Tony Mendoza, better known as Cruzer to most folk, especially down here in the slums lowered his shoulder with the roar. Surprisingly enough his shoulder span was probably four of me, maybe five and he began to barrel forward down that alleyway, picking up momentum and not slowing down for anything. Trashcans bounced off him like bullets off Superman.

I ran. I ran as fast as my body could humanly take me. My lungs felt like they were going to explode as I went. I just didn’t have the body made for this kind of running. Hell I hadn’t actually ran more than a few feet since freshman year of high school in gym class. That had been nearly four years ago and I’m pretty sure I was terrible at it then too. I could see where the alley split off again, right of left… it could actually mean something. If one direction was towards a different gang’s turf, Tony would have to back off. I was neutral in the whole thing, though I was never really in The Grivers’ good graces.

Frag it… the left has treasure. I skidded around the left corner with Cruzer only a foot behind me. One bad thing about being a half tone nine foot tall troll, the brakes aren’t to hot. Horsepower is nice and all, but the ability to stop on a dime, may be far more useful, at least in a ten foot across alley. He tried to skid and slow down but it was too late, he’d had so much momentum I was pretty sure he’d go through that wall.

No such luck, I glanced back to see Tony peeling himself form the brick wall like a self-flipping pancake. There was literally an indentation of his entire body that depressed almost six inches in. Suddenly the image of me between him and that wall coursed through my mind and the mental camera was bathed in blood as I basically exploded. Damn do I have to stop watching horror movies; they make this drek so much worse.

I wheezed and coughed, running down the alley on the left and I could tell my lungs weren’t going to hold out for much longer. Tony was still shaking himself out of the brick wall when I heard gunshots crack in the air around me. My ears rang as a bullet passed only an inch or two from my ear, and I though it had hit me. I blinked once and skidded to a halt, trying to focus on the end of the alley, where someone was shooting at me.

The figure at the end of the alley stood just under a streetlight that flickered, never giving enough light to illuminate his face. He was definitely human, or maybe elf. Though that really didn’t mean shit today, especially with my rep. There’s at least one person of every race, color or creed that wouldn’t mind seeing me get geeked. He was wearing a basketball jersey and some low riding jeans, he held the gun in one hand and began to walk forward.

Now when you’re staring death in the eye there are plenty of things you start to do. You think back to the good times, remembering the things in you life that made you happy. Memories of my mother, my father, and my sister began flowing through my head. But there is always fear, a terrifying icy grasp that if you’re not ready for it, does some unpleasant things to your body.

The figures walk was confident, full of swagger and arrogance. I could tell he had long hair, probably deadlocked, maybe not on purpose. Two more shots whizzed passed me. Holy shit… he wasn’t shooting at me. And if he was, he was a terrible shot because he was only ten feet away and I wasn’t moving. I spun back as another shot ripped passed me and small plumes of dust skipped into the air as bullet ricocheted off of the ground near Tony’s feet.
“Back the frag up Cruzer, before I have to drop some like in you big ass,” said the voice of the figure as he stepped up next to me. I could finally see his face and I nearly exploded with happiness when I saw it.

“Holy shit…” I said, my lungs still straining to get air back into them. I finally collapsed back onto the ground on my ass and took in a deep breath.

Tony stood there, staring at the both of us, debating on whether or not he might be able to actually take a bullet and if it would be worth it to crush my skull under his heel. He must have been having some serious internal debate because almost a minute of silence passed.

“Tick tock, ten seconds to choose big boy,” said my rescuer, waving the gun at him a bit, and smirking a bit.
“Next time you’re little ass won’t be lucky, you hear me Terry?” Tony snarled, staring me down for a long moment. Suddenly he jerked forward a few inches and the gun pointed at him snapped back to attention.
I’ll admit it, I flinched. Call it prey instincts if you must but when something that much bigger than you, that probably wouldn’t mind eating you starts to move towards you, you move. Tony let out a loud chuckle and finally stormed off back down the alleyway and out of sight.

“V-Ray!” I nearly shouted, falling back onto the dirty alley ground. “I thought you were still up in county for another two months?” I finished, pushing myself back up to my elbows.

“Nah, got out on good behavior. How you doin’ Terry?” he asked offering me a hand, which I happily took and he hoisted me up onto my feet.

“You? Good behavior? And same ol’ stuff really. Shit’s just gotten a bit crazier around town.” I said, looking back and forth down the alley and sighed before I spoke again, “And next time you try that shadowy figure hero bull-drek you’re getting’ punched. Scared the livin’ shit out of me man.”

V-Ray laughed hard before he looked at me with a grin and said, “You should have seen the look on your face, it was priceless. Did you piss yourself?”

I felt my face get red and I looked down, and son of a bitch… at some point during the run for my life and thinking I was going to be gunned down in gangland violence my bladder betrayed my mind and released this morning Electric Fizz soda all over my pants.

V-Ray just kept laughing as he moved down the alley. He slid the gun back into a holster on his side. “C’mon T, I’ll give you a ride home. And you can tell me what’s been going on.” He said as I followed him out of the alley.

Now that I wasn’t fleeing for my life, I realized how cold the night really was. Then again it was Detroit in November, if it wasn’t freezing one day and boiling the next something was wrong. V-Ray led me to a small sedan parked just outside the alley and we climbed in. I didn’t know how he had money to buy a car just after getting out of county jail, but I learned a long time ago not to question where V-Ray got his money. Sometimes, there are just things about your friends you don’t want to know.

In the passing streetlights I was able to get a better look at him. He had barely changed in the two years he’d been locked up. His dark skin was near perfect even after years of abuse and his teeth gleamed brightly as well as his emerald green eyes. Before he’d went in he’d had tight corn rolls across his head which had apparently grown out and he was now sporting shoulder length dreadlocks.

“So why the hell are the Grivers out for your blood anyway T?” he asked, breaking the silence that had engulfed the car.

“I may have thrown up a couple of big ass B-E-autiful bombs all over their turf. One of them may have been across the front of Cruzer’s place. But dude you should of-“ I said, getting cut off by a hard punch to my right arm.

“You’re such a fraggin’ idiot T, I swear. Go and fuck with them on their turf, did you expect them to not respond?” he said, scolding me a bit as he spoke, but I could see the wide grin on his face as he drove.

V-Ray, or Raymond Vice as I’d originally met him was like a big brother to me for the last five years or so. He’d taken me under his wing to show me the streets and teach me how to not get killed just for walking down the block. I didn’t grow up in the streets like most people; I chose to come down here. I threw away the life of luxury, the cars, the school and the happy family. And V-Ray had been there to teach me the ways.

“Hey, people will be talkin’ about those pieces for years.” I replied, crossing my arms and smirking a bit.
“Yeah, at your funeral.” He said laughing a little.

On the rest of the drive back to my place I told V-Ray about what was going on the city. Truth is he’d missed quite a bit in the last two years and he was already behind in the times for it. Though I doubted he cared as much about the newest and hottest tech on the streets as much as I did, he listened to me with open ears.

We pulled up to my rat infested apartment complex and I stepped out, and then leaned back in to look at him again. “You got a place to stay homie?” I asked, though I was pretty sure I knew the answer.

“Yeah man, you know me. Got out this morning and got biz to do tonight.” He said, grinning widely.
“Don’t get busted this time.”