Author’s note: Lancer is a short-story set in and inspired by the Splitgate universe. It is not official Splitgate lore. It is set during a time period before the disclosure of the discovery of portal technology to the public.
I was starting to earn the respect of my peers in the world of journalism. I had worked tirelessly to gain a reputation for exposing the truth and I had been dispatched to cover one of the largest walk outs of organized labor in the country’s history. Economic conditions were spinning wildly out of control with supply chain issues, labor shortage and workers vying for better wages. It was going to be my biggest story ever. I had managed to score an interview Jack Krafton, the labor leader who had organized a wealth of walk out efforts. With the economy in free fall and workers marching, some believed that revolution was in the air. Many of those same people were eyeing Krafton as the man to lead us into the future. My interview would grant new insight into Krafton, his motivation’s, plans for the future and would likely propel my career as a journalist to new levels. At least, that’s how it was supposed to happen.
Energy was in the air when I arrived at the demonstration where Krafton would be speaking. Workers were crowded together and chanting in unity as far as the eye could see. I spent the first couple of hours on the ground interviewing members of the crowd as we all waited for the man of the hour to take the stage and speak. I interviewed factory workers, miners, pilots, engineers, programmers and more who all had the same message; Things couldn’t continue on like this. The economy had failed us with demand for products and services far surpassing the supply. This had caused prices to soar and many people found themselves unable to meet the new costs of living.
The response was as simple and as old as time; If workers stood together with demands and refused to work until those demands were met, big business and corporations would be forced to give in or fall further behind, hurting their profits. Should that fail, workers far outnumbered the corporations. If labor had to seize the control by force, they could do it. It sounded crazy, but Krafton was relentless in his messaging. This wasn’t a man or movement looking for a simple compromise, this was a tide of change. The people on the ground that I spoke with, actually believed it, too. This was to be unlike anything the world had ever seen before. It was hard not to become intoxicated by their vigor, standing on the ground with them.
After mingling with the crowd, I took my designated place at the rally. I had been given a special area, where I would be interviewing Krafton after the event. Krafton’s team had set me up with a perfect view of the podium from which Krafton would be speaking. Some believed that he would announce his intentions to challenge the current regime and call for an election. Others speculated that Krafton would call for labor to begin forcefully seizing control of manufacturing facilities and the supply chain. His decision today would shape history. In light of this, my interview became even more relevant.
The time for Krafton to take the stage came and all eyes were on him. He was in his early forties and spoke with an accent that originated from Boston back on Earth. His hair was slick and parted to the left. Like most leaders, he was clean shaven. He looked like a leader from Earth’s golden age.
When Krafton first emerged to take the podium, the crowd roared like they had just witnessed the most exciting gladiator match. Krafton flashed his charming smile and let the crowd continue, basking in the glory of the moment. It was obvious that the man had harnessed something powerful. After several minutes went by, Krafton finally stepped to the microphone.
Krafton began the speech by offering a re-cap of what organized labor had accomplished throughout the history of humanity. You could tell that this speech and movement was not only about the present, but the future. Once the history lesson concluded, Krafton described his organization’s history. He launched into an epic list of failures of the economy and government and the perceived lack of effort by the powers at be to course correct. Finally, he began to tell his own personal story.
The crowd listened with intent as their idol, leader and golden child told the tale of how his family worked their way out of poverty. He garnished the tale with deep cutting insults aimed at big business and the wealthy. He explained that his personal story and trials were no where near complete, just like those of organized labor and that soon, the tides would change. Krafton boldly promised that generations to come would look back at this day in history as a catalyst that would change the world as they knew it. He was right.
As I sat alone in the designated interview area, waiting for the conclusion of Krafton’s speech, listening intently to his words, I heard a sound that I can only describe as artificial. I almost thought it was a sound effect. I broke my gaze from the rally and looked in the direction of the sound to find a strange red oval on the wall that hadn’t been there before. I stood up and walked over to examine it. Maybe Krafton’s team was starting to turn lighting and production for the interview once the speech had concluded?
I gazed at the lone red shape on the wall, which was making a dull sound. Whatever this effect was, I couldn’t have it making that noise during the interview. I started to look around the room to take note of the rest of the set up. This red thing seemed out of place and I wanted to make sure that the setup was perfect. I took a few steps away when all of the sudden, a loud sound startled me, making my knees go weak as I raised my arms toward my head in reaction. Three more loud booms followed in rapid succession. I spun around, ears ringing and saw that the crowd had begun to move in chaos and disarray. The workers who boldly stood with such passion before, now moved in confusion and panic, knocking each other down and screaming.
Confused, I looked toward the podium in horror as I saw Krafton laying on the ground, with a large pool of blood beneath him. I sprinted a short distance in the room to get a better view of what was happening, out of instinct. Then, it hit me. Was I, in danger? I turned around to make my own escape when I saw it. The red glowing shape that I had seen before had changed. It wasn’t just a solid red shape anymore. It looked like a mirror, but it wasn’t. I didn’t see my reflection. What I saw, looked like something that you would see in a movie. A figure adjourned with colorful armor and holding a high powered rifle stared back at me from inside the shape. The armored figure made a motion with his hand and suddenly, I was looking at a red oval once again. After a few seconds passed, the glowing red shape disappeared altogether. It took a few moments to process the unbelievable truth; I had just witnessed a political assassination and looked the killer straight in the face.
Still trying to process what I had seen, I immediately sought out the local authorities to share my story. As a journalist, I was sure that I would be believed. I knew that the story sounded crazy, but I knew what I saw. Someone had opened some type of portal, fired four shots, assassinated Krafton and did so without leaving a trace. The police asked all of the same questions that I had asked myself. If this unknown assassin possessed some kind of technology to open “portals,” where was the assassin him or herself? They hadn’t entered the room, they simply shot through this so-called worm hole. It was like they were able to assassinate Krafton remotely. The possibility of such a thing existing was horrific as it would be a matter of “if” and not “when,” such a thing happened again. Once you work through all of the bizarre, technology and physics-based logistical questions, the biggest question of all remains; Who was responsible? It seemed unlikely that the figure that pulled the trigger managed to do all of this on his or her own. If someone really possessed technology to open some kind of rift in reality, surely others knew about it.
I shared my story with virtually every authority that I could but it mostly fell of deaf ears. The assassination of Krafton had acted as a powder keg, sparking riots and armed clashes between working class civilians and the government. Countless theories were spun about who carried out the assassination. Some believed that it was the government seeking to stop the revolution in its tracks. Others pushed back with rumors that someone within Krafton’s own circle had carried out the murder, driven by jealousy and the desire to surpass Krafton himself. Did some rogue mad man just cut down a rising star of the people? Society couldn’t even agree on how many shooters there were. Despite my reports to the authorities, they remained focused on the riots that ensued. When the chaos finally calmed several weeks later, I never received even a word of follow up from police, intelligence or government authorities. Did they not believe me or were they collaborating to cover something up? Did the government and corporations know about this “portal” technology before or were they now trying to find answers?
Witnessing the failure of “the system,” at large I decided to take measures into my own hands. I used my platform as a journalist to share the truth with the world. While I couldn’t answer how anyone could have opened a portal or who had assassinated Krafton, I knew what I saw that day and I put it in print. As history has repeatedly shown however, sometimes the truth is too much. Within days, I had been let go by my employer, who caved to pressure from the powers at be to let me go or face lawsuits and and an elimination of advertising. I quickly found myself shunned by the collective journalistic world. No one would hire me as my reputation had been ruined. While my story was read by millions, the narrative that followed painted me as a chain smoking, coffee addicted nut job, drawing webs of conspiracy alone in my mother’s basement. Others mocked me as an overly ambitious rookie who was just desperate for attention on the big stage. Others theorized that my story was a mad attempt to cover up the truth and keep the actual assassin(s) in the clear. For months, I twisted in agony, disgraced and confused about where to take my life. I had told the truth and now I was being punished for it. I had my dream job, the respect of my colleagues and a bright future and it was all gone.
Exactly six months after Krafton was assassinated, I received an phone call from an anonymous party using a voice modulator. They believed my story and requested a meeting. I considered the possibility that it could be a trap to rid of me given that I knew the truth. Maybe I was the one loose end in the successful assassination of a rising political leader? Given that my life had lost meaning and purpose since I told the world what I saw that day, I went to the meet up. While it was Jack Krafton who had been assassinated, much of my life had ended that day as well. I didn’t have much left to lose.
While my story served as the end of the life that I knew, my encounter also served as the beginning of a new one. An underground group known as Lancer was making preparations to embark on guerilla warfare against the corporations of the planet, whom they believed had Krafton killed. If the richest and most powerful players of the world were going to play dirty, then they would fight fire with fire. With no where left to go, I joined Lancer who sought me out for sharing the story of what happened with the world. They actually believed me. Not only did they believe me, but they also believed that they knew exactly where the portal technology that I had witnessed had come from and why it was being kept secret. As a natural seeker of the truth, I joined their ranks without hesitation.
Tomorrow, we make our first strike. While our identities must remain a secret, Lancer will not. Soon, the world will know the truth. The corruption of the corporations suffocating our society will know what is coming for them. We are coming for them. I will be on the front line, continuing to expose the truth every step of the way. We will get to the bottom of this. We will find out who ordered the assassination of Jack Krafton, we will find out about this seemingly impossible portal technology and we will wrestle control of this planet away from the elite. We are Lancer and history will remember us.