Blade Runner Movie Home Page

Blade Runner Interactive Stories

Running Scared

This Page written by: Man Machine and Netrunner

Back to Contents Page

Under a Distant Sun


Star System: Beta Hydri
Location: Second orbit
Status: International colony
Population: Classified

Description: Brunner's World is the only planet in charted space that has been found suitable for progression straight to the third stage of terraforming. The Earth-like conditions (gravity: 0.88 G, atmospheric pressure: 0.76 atm, oxygen pressure: 0.16 atm) have made the planet by far the most popular location for new settlements. The rotation period of the planet is 26 hours and orbital period is 902 days. There are no moons. Climatic variance is much less than Earth and this results in a greater differential in temperatures between Equatorial and Polar Regions, making colonisation suitable only between 25 and 65 degrees latitude North and South of the Equator. Earth flora and fauna have been transplanted into the planet's primitive ecological system with varying success and mutations are common. Due to the sensitivity of the system, ABC weapons are prohibited and heavy industries restricted until year 2035. Furthermore, utilisation of replicant labour (specifications and quantities classified) has been encouraged to avoid unnecessary pollution.

In accordance with the multilateral agreements of the Colonisation Program Treaty of 2011 and the New Earth Amendment of 2012, Brunner's World has been declared international territory. By these treaties, the planet has been divided into 6 major settlement zones relating to Earth blocs (under the auspices of the UNOWO), and 15 minor corporate zones (including Van Effen Industries, Tyrell Corporation, Prosser & Ankopitch, Arasaka Security, Miller-Matsudaira Corporation, Petrochem and SubZero Consolidated). Each settlement zone is governed and operated by conglomerates of national and corporate organisations and provided with fusion power plants, monorail nets, orbit-ground interface systems and orbital transfer stations. The living standards in the most developed settlement zones will probably reach Earth's North American levels within 5-10 years, and European levels within 10-15 years.

It has been estimated by UNOWO that once the terraforming has been successfully completed, Brunner's World will be able to house 18-23 % of Earth's current population. As a comparison, it has been estimated that the total amount of people that all the other Off-World colonies could house together is less than 15 % of Earth's current population even under optimal circumstances.

Encyclopaedia Britannica. Copyright © 2021.

Henry Eckhart lit a cigarette as he gazed over his dreary kingdom through the panoramic windows. SubZero East was labelled "Corporate City" on the maps, but in reality it wasn't much more than an industrial complex: a confused heap of irregular architecture and sprawling piping, crowned with a forest of CleanBurn smoke-stacks. The complex had the colour of red iron and despite the heat, there seemed to be a thin film of moisture on everything.

He watched workers marching down the main street in column and it was not without pity he did so. The daytime temperature in this region varied little from a very steamy 33 centigrade, and somehow not even the sensitive air conditioning in his office could make him feel comfortable. His angular face glistened with a sheen of perspiration and his thin hair stuck to his scalp. Then he realized it had to be replicant workers down there, as not one of them was wearing respiratory apparatus. The devices were not really necessary, but traces of poisonous gases had been detected in the atmospheric composition and the corporate legal advisers had immediately become paranoid. All employees had been offered free nasal filter implants, but very few had agreed to go through with the simple surgical procedure. There had been no obvious negative effects over the years and the air seemed much cleaner than in many of the cities on Earth, so quite a few workers refused to wear any respiratory apparatus on the outside at all. With the fractionally higher lithium level in the atmosphere, some even claimed breathing the air was good for you. Of course this was all irrelevant to the replicants.

Replicants had been declared illegal on Earth several years ago. On-World, but not Off-world - were they supposed to be less dangerous in the colonies? The bloody mutiny of that combat unit at Tannhauser Gate had been on everyone's lips for months, but these days no one seemed to bother anymore; no one but Eckhart. A fragment of The Waste Land always came to his mind when thinking of replicants:

Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

Never did they think about their replicant servants, but took their presence and pliancy for granted as if they were shadows. You had better try to be your shadow's best friend, because you couldn't flee him.

Actually, SubZero East was more than just his kingdom: it was his life. If he was honest with himself, he had nothing left but his work. By Christmas it would be five years since the whirlwind of his life had swept away from him and taken their children with her; away from the overcrowded, sprawling metropolis of London, England, Europe, Earth. He had followed her example and gone Off-World, ending up in this American corporate zone under a distant sun. "A golden land of opportunity and adventure." Or simply a way to escape from his problems rather than solving them? He was still fairly young, in his mid-thirties, but felt old and lonely without his children.

An electronic voice suddenly cut through the silence in his office, "Operations on line 6, Mister Eckhart."

"Got it," Eckhart answered, sounding just like he was talking to a human being, as he adjusted his black tie. The vidscreen came to life and a rough face shining with exudation appeared.

"Mister Eckhart?"

"Renko." Eckhart didn't like the Operational Controller of SubProbe One. When he wasn't working in the mines, he regularly frequented the corporate bars and brothels. Furthermore, he treated the replicant labour force as cattle, which caused some consternation among the managers. He was one of the best troubleshooters they had, but also one of the worst troublemakers. "What is it?"

"We've got a problem: Section D-7 has collapsed. The whole shit went down in ten seconds."

Eckhart killed his cigarette. "Any humans in there?"

"Nope. Just skin jobs."

"How many dead?"

"A few."

"How many?"

"I dunno. A few."

Eckhart sighed. "Organ harvest teams?"

"On the scene."

"Okay. Give me a minute, will you. Got to check the esper."

"Sure thing, Mister Eckhart."

Eckhart gave a few quick, verbal commands to his machine, which in response displayed an intricate pattern of maps and schemes within a couple of seconds.

"Well, the situation isn't disastrous. Most of the equipment can be replaced, except for the strontium batteries in D-7:85. They must be recovered as soon as possible."

Renko grinned. "Or no systems go."

"Exactly," Eckhart said, not sharing Renko's joyful mood. "You make sure they're out of there before the night-shift starts."

Renko rubbed his ill-shaven chin, "Suppose there's a bonus..."

Eckhart held back a deep sigh. "Three per cent."

"Ten," Renko bargained.




"Three then, damn it!"

"Deal. Now get started, will you."

Eckhart terminated the connection.

"Security on line 3, Mr Eckhart," the electronic voice said the same moment his finger separated from the OFF-button.

"Right," Eckhart mumbled.

Commander Saunders appeared on the screen, and as always she looked like a Third Reich propaganda poster with her strictly sculptured features, cold Zeiss crystal eyes and black Arasaka uniform. There was never a single trace of transpiration on her face. Not today, not ever.

"Sir, we have just received an updated report about the Midway relay station. It's not just malfunctioning as the first reports suggested. It has most likely been seriously damaged or destroyed."

"What?" Eckhart froze as the reality of the statement sank in. "Are you saying that we are cut off from Earth, Saunders?" Of course she was. Stupid question. Saunders was not prone to exaggeration.

If she thought it was a banal question, it didn't show on her face. "That's correct, sir. UNOWO estimates that it will take at least 120 hours before a temporary reserve unit is fully operational."

"B-but… This is madness. Who would destroy the Midway relay station?"

"We don't know if it was deliberate sabotage, sir. Our intelligence units are creating probability scenarios this very moment."

Eckhart frowned. In potential crises like these, his paranoia was accentuated by the fact that they relied on bought-in security. There was a corporate saying on Brunner's World: "There are two ways to get into trouble with Arasaka: by hiring them, and by not hiring them." It was no comfort that Planetary Security was also run by Arasaka.

He tried to remain on top of the conversation, "Have you checked for any suspicious interstellar traffic?"

"Yes, sir. My PS contact confirms several ships currently under investigation. I have been asked to look into one of those now in our jurisdiction - the Nebular Rose - for which we have not received full registration and manifest. It arrived at Orbiter VII at 03:00 hours with a new Nexus-6 batch. With Midway down we have not been able to confirm identification with Earth. However, as it does not deviate from our normal logistic patterns, the transfer of the cargo was allowed to proceed and is now almost finished. We estimate that the ground shuttle will arrive at 15:00 hours. But there may be a small security problem."

"What problem?"

"The DeCryo unit in Orbiter VII has detected possible EEG anomalies in a few of the replicants. We have notified Tyrell Corporation and they wish to send over a service team for a routine scanning. Should we grant them access to the facilities, sir?"

"Yes, I suppose we should. Do we have the batch on file yet? I mean the specifications from Nebular Rose?"

"Yes sir, we do. The files arrived from Orbiter VII just a few minutes ago."

Eckhart accessed the files on the new replicants: 20 muscle miners, 2 tech boys, 2 top brass serfs, 1 security thug, 1 military toy; pretty much a standard batch. He scrolled through them. Blank face after blank face after… Eckhart almost jumped out of his seat and he quickly scrolled back; then felt like he'd been stabbed in the heart with a nail. The military club model, designation "Dolores", looked exactly like his wife. Or, more correctly, there was a striking resemblance, striking enough to torment him with memories.

"I…" He hesitated. "I would like to examine the replicants before we let the Tyro team loose on them. Meet me at the shuttle hangars a quarter to three."

"Understood, sir. Should I deploy a riot team?" As always, she seemed eager for action; not that he could detect any noticeable change in her voice…

"No, I don't think that will be necessary, Saunders. Anything else?"

"No, sir." There never was. Commander Saunders' cold face faded into black, and was replaced by the logotype of SubZero Consolidated.



Option 1 - Eckhart

Option 2 - Renko

Option 3 - Something else

Pages in white continue the story. Pages in yellow are yet to be written. Note that the unwritten options are just suggestions for how the story might continue - you can add something completely different if you like.

Each page in the story ends in a five letter code. If you want to return to this page in the future, make a note of the page code and you will then be able to change your URL to take you straight back to that page.

Back to Contents Page

Date: 2002-07-16 22:30