Bryan Beal


It was always serene. An air-conditioned room in the quiet distance meant Damien Zhao could focus on the task. He could guide the eyes of the world wherever he wanted. He was surprised he did not get drunker on that power, until he remembered Casey was the one who called the shots. Friggin' director.

The drone drifted closer to the street below. Waves of people surged along the street. The dark blue line sank backwards, a retreat from the much larger tsunami ramming them towards the vehicles that had brought them. Streamers of smoke streaked through the space between the drone and the people, now distinguishable from each other. Gas erupted from canisters like puffs of pollen. The large hoard of people hesitated under the onslaught of teargas.

The entire group shivered, almost like a single living entity shaking itself awake. Damien was transfixed. His eyes drawn to a small group just behind the front line of the civilian crowd. The front of the crowd simply collapsed to the ground. Those still standing rose to aim along stubby weapons that looked as ugly as they did homemade. The entire front of the rabble exploded with smoke, a riot of different colours.

The dark blue of the riot police buckled. They had just started regaining their positions when a second salvo careened into them. A third pummeled them into those behind. Shields twisted and some of the rounds penetrated.

Damien realised he was seeing history. Protestors had homemade rubber bullets to use against their perceived foe.

Then it all went black. The camera feed. The signals from the drone. Damien fell from his perch in surprise. He jammed his elbow into the floor, and hard. His squeal of pain drew glances from his fellow-pilots.

He was not so isolated from it. The tendrils of chaos reached him even here.