This is part 2 of the exciting “Crazy Compassion” episode. Please note that the following contains adult language and violence.
Sometimes, we find that we regret doing the right thing. That’s where wisdom comes in. Wisdom isn’t common sense or the sound application of knowledge, wisdom is actually a virtuous form of intelligence. It is positive intentions tempered with the knowledge of actions and their consequences. As I’ve said though, I was lacking that knowledge.
And as they say, The road to Hell is paved in good intentions.
The lights of our truck pierced the blackness of the Bardo and fell onto the wreckage of several armored vehicles. There were bodies scattered around the twisted skeletons of the trucks. Blood was splattered on the shells of the transports and severed organs were draped over the site of the attack like holiday garland.
Asheya put her hand over Fernando’s should and leaned over his back, staring into the darkness. I saw Fernando withdraw slightly, the sight of her long hand, easily two feet long, unnerved the big man.
“Hackers,” she mumbled, “Stop here.”
Fernando slowed and then stopped, letting the lights fall over the site of the attack. It was silent and there was no movement outside our truck.
“What’s your plan?” the dark woman asked.
“We have to check for survivors …” I started to say, but she held up one of her long hands.
Her skin, the color of malachite, made her nearly invisible in the dark truck save for the glossy sheen, “No, I mean for me.”
Kelly looked at me quizzically, “For her?”
“I need identifications Private,” I ordered Kelly, “We’ll have at least one survivor.” I looked at Ascheya and nodded, “Time to be born again.”
Staring at me apprehensively, she grabbed the blades off her hip, the dark woman opened the back door, “I’ll check for survivors,” she said, pulling on her helmet.
Eric grabbed his KS-16, “I’m going too.”
I watched the Delta woman glide to the wreckage like a wraith. Behind her, Eric seemed clumsy and ungainly. Her movement was alien, animalist. She paused, turning her head to listen. When she stopped, not a muscle moved, not even her chest when she would breathe. When people stopped, they would lean back and forth, constantly adjusting their balance and that movement always gave people away. But like a deadly predator, when Ascheya stopped, not a single muscle flexed.
While typing on the mobile monitor, Kelly looked up at me, “What’s the deal with her L-T?”
Watching them both closely, I responded, “Church of Light was able to get her declared a clone. She’s supposed to report for destruction so we’ll just have her die here and pick up one of those victim’s life.”
“Not like people won’t know she’s back,” Kelly mumbled. “Sticks out like a sore thumb.”
“Yeah, but nobody on the base is going to say anything,” I chuckled, “We watch out for our own. Sure, she won’t be able to go to Earth, but this is home for her anyway.”
“What the hell!” Fernando yelled, interrupting our conversation.
A reptilian beast appeared from behind one of the shattered vehicles. At about seven feet tall, its head was saurian, like that of a tyrannosaurus. Its armored hide was covered in scales and its arms were human-like. In its human hands, it held a bloody cleaver.
The beast rushed towards Ascheya who pushed Fernando back. The beast swung down at her and she sidestepped it easily. Driving her blade into its gut, she disemboweled the monster, dumped its guts unceremoniously on the ground.
The first creature dropped to its knees as three more appeared from behind one of the trucks. Catching the lead beast in stride, the dark woman slashed its throat as it rushed past. A gout of blood spurted out of its severed aorta, showering the demonic woman with a pumping geyser of veinal fluid.
Punching a dagger into the side of the next creature’s head, Ascheya rushed toward the final beast. Turning, it tried to flee, but the woman jumped on its back. Punching both daggers into its back, Ascheya severed its spine, dropping it limply to the ground.
While the first creature bled to death on the ground, trying to pull its intestines back into its body, I saw the dark fury grab the last beast by its nose. She leaned over it and seemed to be saying something to it.
“She’s … talking to it,” I heard Eric mumble.
I could hear her speaking through the communicators in our helmets, “Unde venistis ex?” she asked. “Diabolus ego ostendam vobis putatis dolor.”
“What the hell?” I wondered.
“It’s Latin,” Kelly said. “How about … oh shit … shit, shit, shit!”
“What?” I turned to Kelly, trying to see what she had found on the monitor.
“Samantha Schmidtweiler,” she mumbled, “She was on one of those trucks.”
I had to agree, shit! But now wasn’t the time for mysteries, “Stay focused Private,” I ordered, “Give me a name.”
“Uh, sorry sir,” Kelly responded, “Hanna Thompson. Her family was killed here on Charon. No family on Earth.”
“Perfect,” I said and then winced as Ascheya beheaded the creature she had been interrogating.
After completing a sweep of the wreckage, Fernando and Ascheya found no survivors. They returned to our truck just as the Bardo was dissipating. Like fog being burned off by the sun, the darkness faded and the arid, rocky world reappeared around us.
After she had closed the back door, I looked up at Ascheya and pushed the button the vehicle’s communication system, “Base?”
The pleasant woman at dispatch, I think her name was Jill, responded, “Alpha 3 go.”
“Alpha 3 returning to base,” I winked at Ascheya, “One survivor, Hanna Thompson. One team member down, Sergeant Ascheya Schmidtweiler. Unable to retrieve corpse. Copy that?”
“Understood,” Jill … Jennifer? … responded. “Have a safe trip back Lieutenant.”
Looking up at Ascheya, her hair was slick with perspiration and hanging to her shoulders, I winked again, “Happy birthday Miss Hanna Thompson.”
For the few that have read my novel “The Seraphim Protocol”, you read that right. Foreshadowing is fun. For those who haven’t had the opportunity to read “The Seraphim Protocol”, it should be available for download in a couple of months.
Stay tuned for the shocking conclusion of Tales from Charon – Crazy Compassion!