Chaser

A small, vulpine Chaser skitters among hundreds of unaware feet, nose pressed firmly to the clouded glassy ground, as it follows a trail only it can sense, long, shining tails swishing delightedly behind it as it goes. It pauses at and turns down a shadowy alleyway the base of two gigantic, crystalline towers rising endlessly to an infinitely clear mass of swirling silver and azure and gold, suddenly excited. They are nearly identical to every shimmering tower around it, impossibly tall and amazingly ominous despite their glowing exterior. Builders, nothing more than bright, blurry balls of indefinite color, race wildly up and down the edges of the buildings, continually adding and improving to what already appeared to be perfection. From all points on the towers, impossibly long and curving bridges reach out to link hundreds of others, twisting and winding their way through the millions of towers all around, forming an infinite and confusing network of sites. Millions upon millions of feet pass across the bridges each day, blissfully unaware of the events playing out like far below them, while, on the ground, a whole other world thrives. Searchers, bizarrely flickering animal-like auras, fly along the opaque ground or blast along the bridges and towers, seeking out the targets of their users without thought or reason. Occasionally a Searcher will come too close to a closed off area of one of the towers and will be flung harshly backwards by a sudden explosive wall of sapphire, emerald, or ruby fire around the area. The Searcher will tumble end over end to the ground below and hit with a sickening crack, then suddenly dart upwards again as though it had never happened. Loose ribbons of silver-white light weave in and out of the towers and passersby, occasionally blasting right through an unsuspecting body, and dive into its targeted tower. AIs, not quite human and not quite not in appearance, watch all this play out indefinitely, while others follow rapidly moving Chasers and Searchers through the crowds and towers. They move about, indifferent to the world, but also aware of the final world, dark and disturbing, right below their feet. This is where the Chaser's trail leads it, below the very ground at its feet. It slips through a hidden gateway at the base of a smaller, less well-kept tower, and enters a much darker world .Below the clouded ground, barely hidden from the shining world above, the Lowers are as infinitely dark as the world above is bright. Crumbling ruins of less tall and extravagant towers reach weakly for the lighted world above, never quite reaching, having long since been abandoned by Builders. Few rare towers still reach, barely penetrating the surface above and offering those who pass dark and secret pleasures while terrifying traps lay waiting for the foolish and naïve. Shadowy, twisted creatures dart from the crumbling ruins to the basement of a huge tower above that is not supposed to be there. Each Virus looks a little less human than the AIs above them, but still retain enough of their original design to blend in above, should they find a way to get past the barrier. At the sight of the Chaser, the Viruses scatter. The Chaser once again follows a trail only it can sense, stopping outside a weak, crumbling tower that is almost lying in its side, and raises its head to let out a long, mournfully piercing howl to summon its master. Above it, in the brightly lit network of towers and sites that humans called the Internet, a young female AI looks up from her spot atop a huge crystal tower and jumps from her towering perch in an act of inhuman strength, falling right through a hidden gateway into the Lowers, and lands easily on her feet, more than ready to finally catch the Virus that has cause so much trouble for her company.