With prose and illustrations, visual fiction is my idle imagination at work. Try one!
175 pounds of composite armor and dense electronics surrounding his body felt rather weightless, Luke Veronus often thought. Volunteering himself with his father’s assurance to openly test the most advanced flight-capable powered armor ever created by the VerTaK Corporation, the Intelligent Modular Combat Exoskeleton set new performance records above all existing powered armor systems to date. Luke mastered natural reaction times that made local cyberathletes envious and his test pilot colleagues quiver, but his upbringing never let that job interfere with the most important things in his life: art, friends, family, and God. A part-time student who hoped to exercise his creative side, he envisioned creating elaborate steel works like his father did as easily as he executed Immelmans around the massive Philadelphia facility.
But a genetic neural inclination and intimacy with his equipment became an impassable test when his father James, a veteran sculptor and heralded VerTaK employee, died from a testing accident one year ago. Struck with incredible grief that not even Gilles Malone could console, Luke clung to his Christian faith to overcome the loss. This was not without additional troubles looming, though: the once-prolific VerTaK soon broke into two independent branches, East and West, conflicted over seemingly-trivial matters on their research methods. Of course, Luke knew which division he’d continue working with: the one James sided with ever since the IMCE’s conception. Relations worsened when a West-built combat robot, URWST-105-2, was allegedly sent to abduct him on more than one occasion – only to absentmindedly fall into his possession, letting him retrain the sentient machine as his own. And why were these excessively-powerful experimental weapons laying around the test bays unsecured, alongside printed e-mails from VerTaK East containing directions on how to use them? His father’s administration still has competent, responsible individuals, right? He began doubting that…
On traveling, discovery, and unlikely bonds, this short story bands together Luke, Gilles, and URWST-105-2 for a road trip to Silicon Valley in order to pin a message on the Vertical Tactical Kinetics Corporation’s West Division. But as common sense failed them just once more, it’s not only the destination that counts, but the journey itself.