I have to apologize for the lack of updates lately. Work has been so crazy that I don’t even have time to think and frankly, I need a little time to think if I’m going to write. Mrs. Webgoji has been working extra hard and will be applying for Director in Qualification with Mary Kay and I myself have been putting in quite a bit of overtime at work. But all that said, here is another Tales from Charon!
Her damn hands were shaking too bad to make a decent cut. The wakazashi shook violently in Caprice’s grip as it was poised to enter her stomach. If she could just get her hands to work!
Biocorp had claimed that the reason the Beta units were retired was because they couldn’t adapt. That wasn’t entirely untrue. It hadn’t been long before Biocorp had realized their Beta weapons were exhibiting a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that they called Repeated Traumatic Stress Disorder. Most, if not all, of the remaining Betas suffered from Major Depressive Disorder, hypervigilance and paranoia, suicidal tendencies and hyperadrenalism.
It was the damn hyperadrenalism that was making her hands shake. Her adrenal glands were pumping out hormones constantly at a rate that would kill most normal people. But she couldn’t be lucky enough to have it kill her.
So there she sat. Wearing only her underwear and on her knees in her dingy little room with sweat pouring down her body as she tried to get her blade aimed at her abdomen. She had to get it done before someone came in asking …
The door burst open and Sergeant Jackson leaned in, “Ma’am! We found … what the hell!”
… for help. They always came to her for help.
Grabbing the weapon out of her hands, the sergeant barked, “What are you doing!?”
Trying to steady her jaw, Caprice blew her sweaty bangs out of her eyes, “It’s called harakiri Sergeant. It was an ancient ritual practiced by the Samurai of Japan.”
“Thank the lord,” the young man wiped his brow, “I thought you were trying to kill yourself.” Quickly, her turned away from her, “Sorry about seeing you in your unmentionables Ma’am.”
Spitting on the floor, Caprice grabbed her armor. Another little technique she used when she was upset. By spitting, Caprice had conditioned herself to diffuse her anger when she was mad at someone.
“First, I don’t believe in your god Sergeant. You want to spout that crap take it somewhere else,” Caprice barked, roughly pulling up her ES Poly armor. “Second, what’s the problem?”
“Uh, yes Ma’am. Sorry about that,” the young man’s dark skin turned a slightly blush color. “We found a Biocorp facility out in the forest Ma’am. We don’t have any records of it, it’s like it never existed. We want you’re help securing it Ma’am.”
“Nuke it,” Caprice groaned, sheathing her wakazashi.
“What part of ‘nuke it’ didn’t you get Sergeant?” Caprice barked again. The platinum blond spit on the ground again trying to calm herself. “Unless I miss my guess, that forest you’re talking about is the one near the village. During the Bardo all kinds of nasty shit comes out in that forest. Don’t risk the men. Blow the whole damn thing back to hell.”
The Sergeant looked up as Caprice put her hand on his shoulder, she was as ready as she was going to be.
“I’m sorry Ms. Parker. We’ve got orders,” he shrugged. “We have to find out what they’re doing in there before we can destroy it.”
Shaking her head Caprice sighed, “Fine, let’s do it. It’s a good day to die anyway.”
* * *
The troop transport was getting close to the forest and Sergeant Jackson was chattering like a bird, “… so anyway, can you tell us anything about the Bardo? Where did that name come from?”
Caprice leaned back, looking up at the top of the transport, “You need to read your history Sarge. There’s only one religion left; The Church of Light. It’s based on an old dead religion that came from a prophet who was supposed to be the son of a god. It’s teachings are gone, but some of the basic concepts are in your religion. At that time though, there was another religion that was older and died off sooner. That other religion stated that there was a state between life and death.”
“Bardo,” the soldier nodded, understanding. “And since so many people die during the darkness here, we call it Bardo.”
“Yup,” Caprice nodded.
The truck came to a stop and the soldiers started checking their weapons and armor, “Is that where your harry-carry ritual came from?”
Banging her head against the side of the transport, the woman groaned, “Not remotely,” was all she said as her finger tapped involuntarily on the side of her plasma rifle. Damn hyperadrenalism.
“Well anyway,” the soldier seemed to be wrapping things up, “Can you give me your workout plan?”
The other nineteen soldiers piled out of the back of the transport as they disembarked. Caprice followed suit, taking her rifle off safety.
“Why?” she asked, looking up at the canopy of trees.
“Because I would give anything to have arms and abs like yours,” the young man laughed. “Seriously!”
“Sell yourself to Biocorp, give them all your memories and sanity and you can have a Gamma body,” Caprice snorted. “Who knows? Maybe I would train you.”
Ahead of the troops loomed a two story glass and steel building. It was strangely out of place in the rotten, dark woods. The building was like a gleaming scalpel cutting into the rotten flesh of the forest.
“Stay here,” Caprice ordered. “If they’ve got bioweapons as security, you’ll have to stay back and shoot them from a distance.”
“What about you?” the sergeant asked. Was there a hint of concern? Yearning? In his voice.
“I told you,” Caprice walked toward the building, “It’s a good day to die.”
* * *
Just as she entered the building, Caprice was greeted by a strange receptionist behind a grand, oaken desk. The woman was like nothing she had ever seen. Tall and so thin she might have been anorexic, the woman … the being, had skin that was the color of malachite and long, long pointed ears. Her eyes were black with only green rings around what would be the pupil and her hands were long and ended in vicious talons.
“Hello, can I help you?” the creature asked with a song-bird voice through deadly fangs.
Snapping the rifle to her shoulder, Caprice aimed between the creature’s eyes, “What the hell are you?”
Her eyes widened with shock and the creature raised her hands, “I … I’m Fifteen. Do … don’t sh … sh … shoot okay?”
“You look older than fifteen,” Caprice grunted, looking for security, “Who’s in charge here?”
“I … I’ll j … j … ” tears were starting to roll down the beast’s cheeks as she lowered a trembling hand toward an intercom button.
“Fifteen?” another melodic voice came from the hall behind the desk, “Are you okay?”
Another creature emerged from the hall. This differed from the first only in the color of its satin hair and hellish eyes. That and the second creature appeared to be uncomfortably pregnant.
Caprice snapped her rifle up to the new beast, “Stop right there. Move and you’re dead. Got it!?”
The second creature raised her arms as well, “Don’t! My baby!” she yelled.
“Don’t move Eighteen,” the first creature said, “She wants the doctor.”
“Eighteen?” Caprice looked back at the first creature without lowering her weapon, “What the hell are you?”
Fifteen’s trembling hand poked the intercom button, “D … d … d …”
A voice responded, “Yes Fifteen? Are you okay?”
Caprice stepped forward and shoved the receptionist out of the way, causing her to fall to the ground and whimper like a scared child. Keeping her weapon pointed at the second monster, Caprice poked the intercom button.
“This is the Earth Military. You in charge?” she said.
“Don’t hurt them!” the man’s voice responded, “I’ll be right down. Just don’t hurt them!”
In moments, a well dressed human man with sleazy black hair and thick glasses burst around the corner of the hall. Caprice took her aim off the crying creatures in front of her and motioned for the man to raise his hands.
“We’re unarmed Miss,” the man panted, “Please don’t hurt them. Let me show you.”
“Keep you hands where I can see them,” Caprice nodded. “You so much as twitch and I’ll kill everything in here.”
“Understood,” the man agreed and motioned for Caprice to follow him. “If you’ll just follow me, you’ll see.”
The man lead the bleach-blond woman into the hallway past several open windows. Inside the rooms were more of the creatures with young boys that looked like them. They were playing and laughing with toys like normal humans. In other rooms creatures were nursing their black skinned babies and in yet other rooms, they waddled around like pregnant mothers, happy, glowing and uncomfortable.
“As you can see, we’re raising the next generation of bioweapons,” the man explained. “We lost communications recently, but we’ve continued our work.”
He stopped by a room where several doctors were working on a skrill, “Thanks to the Delta Prototype, we know we can produce Epsilon units by impregnating deltas with skrill genes. The resultant weapons are … amazing.”
Caprice lowered her rifle and put her left hand on her plasma pistol, “You impregnate those … things with skrill to make … monsters?” she asked, holding back the urge to vomit.
It was the most disgusting thing she’d ever seen. The poor creatures seemed so happy to be carrying monster babies in their bellies. Blinking, Caprice remembered reading about Nazi breeding programs during World War II. It was sickening.
“Well, they’re not monsters,” the man corrected her, “But they are so much more advanced than you that they even make the Deltas obsolete …”
Faster than the man could finished his sentence, Caprice drew her pistol and placed the barrel on his temple, pulling the trigger. She didn’t take her eyes off the horrible semen extraction even as the doctor’s brains hit the wall. The place couldn’t be allowed to stand.
Killing every creature she passed, Caprice stormed through the cries of anguish and fear until she was out of the building and stopping in front of Sergeant Jackson, “Nuke it! Now!”
“What’s in there?” the soldier asked, grabbing his com unit, “Epsilon Seven requesting tactical nuclear air strike.”
“They’re making monsters,” Caprice mumbled.
* * *
Watching the mushroom cloud grow over the trees Caprice pressed her cheek against the glass window of the transport. There was one other symptom of Repeated Traumatic Stress Disorder that Caprice had never experienced; an uncaring disassociation.
The blond woman sighed and sat back. Death was a release from suffering on Charon. Why wouldn’t it come for her?