C.A.I.N. - Chapters 1 - 4 by Jesse Lawson

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There was only one person who could fix his ship and he was somewhere in Tennessee. He had heard that Los Angeles was the only starport left intact, so he put on everything he owned and took the magnerail east through the Underwater Pacific Tracks. For the last three years he had been trying to save the land he grew up on, but in the end the war reaped it all. The small island in Hawaii he lived on was destroyed and there was no reason to stay, so he told himself one day he would leave that horribly war-torn world and travel the galaxy with the girl he loved. Enough of the fighting, enough of the robots, enough of the death.

In Honolulu he had met Jamie, a computer programmer who used to work for Intelli Corp, one of the contractor companies who built bionic motherboards for the walking computers. She was the secondary lead developer for a subsystem of the C.A.I.N. project, but ever since the army of robots attacked and nearly wiped out all of humanity, he tried to stay as far away from C.A.I.N. and anything (and anyone) that had to do with it. He was semi-savvy with computers, but had no idea how the ones that walked worked, just that they have no emotions and when they kill they don't do it with remorse or even in cold blood - they just kill. Jamie giggled and smiled a lot, and Duke would feel like a little boy sometimes around her, but he didn't know the first thing about terminal links or retinal resonance conditioning, so he had a hard time trying to start a conversation.

She was a brunette, with dark brown eyes and eyebrows that shaded her expression into a dark, sexy stare. He never thought he was much for the slender brown-hair type, but when he shot that scooter droid that was chasing her with a plasma rifle he got off of a dead soldier, he saw the sweat dripping down her forehead and onto her blouse, soaked with adrenaline, and liked it. She knew a lot about different things, and during their few months they spent seeing each other he learned that since the war broke out she had devoted her life to charting the deep space. And not only was she good with computers, she also had a hand at engineering. She once had a stick of tridalium and reprogrammed a soldering machine to patch up a hole in a soldier's biosuit. Tridalium in a biosuit! Could you imagine how invincible you would be? Well, in that one spot, anyway. When Duke picked up that rifle from him he had no head. A horribly wet mess.

The two of them talked about their passions and their past, and about how they both wanted to get away from Earth and all the horrible things gone wrong in it. Jamie wanted to chart the galaxy with a system of satellites she had developed, and Duke had nothing to go back to. They had similar interests and similar goals, and forsaw a great future together. In a warm summer month after their two year anniversary, they decided to get their lives started, but separately for the time being. Jamie had a galaxy to map, and Duke had to get his ship back. When he did, he would go back to her and together they would travel all over the galaxy and plot the space that no one has traveled before.

The inside of the train was starting to smell like a septic tank.

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