Tag Archives: Charon

Tales from Charon – Birthing Center

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.

“Ma’am?”

“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.”

Deltas?  Epsilons?

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?

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Tales from Charon – Crazy Compassion – Part 2

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!


Tales from Charon – Ladies of the Night

“Watch it!” was all I heard.

A bizarre caterpillar the size of a dachshund scrambled onto my tray in the mess hall.  Instead of legs though, it had about twenty sets of tentacles it used for locomotion.  Instead of an insect face, the head was that of a baby human, but complete with wicked mandibles.

The horrible creature looked at me … and exploded!

Even as the electronic sound of a plasma launcher reverberated in my ears, I could hear Ascheya laughing.  Orange goop and stringy entrails dripped off of my face and fell into the puddle on my tray.  Sure, the salisbury steak was dry and the potatoes were instant, but they definitely wouldn’t go good with giant caterpillar goop.

Around me I heard my team yelling, “Clear!”

“Lieutenant Carlson …” Asheya laughed, “you … gonna eat that?”  Her laugh was like the song of angels.  How could someone so foul have a voice so beautiful?

But I had to pause for short moment.  She called me Lieutenant!  I guess I earned some modicum of respect by getting my ass kicked by the woman.

“What the hell was that!?” I laughed with her, wiping my face.

“I got three more in the hall!” Fernando yelled, looking out the door.

Handing me her rifle, Asheya helped me up, “Space herpe?” she shrugged.  “This is Charon, you never know what’s gonna run across your plate.”

“Literally,” I chuckled.  “So what’s the deal?”

“Hey Sarge!” Fernando yelled, “We’ve got about five more in here!” he said looking into the hall.

“Some idiot let a prostitute on base,” Ascheya responded, looking over her shoulder.

We both approached the hall door and looked through the window.  They were swarming.  Since Fernando had yelled, they had been joined by twenty or thirty more of the caterpillar things.

“Space herpes?” I asked.

“Pretty much,” Ascheya nodded.  “They’re the Charon version of VD.”

I bumped Eric, “Can you clear that hall for us?”

Laughing, the big man kicked the door open, “Oh hell yeah.”

Lowering his KS-16, a multi-barrelled plasma cannon, he pulled the trigger.  Streaks of bluish light shot through the hall, exploding into the caterpillar creatures and blasting holes in the walls.  The smoke grew as he sprayed plasma rounds all over the hallway like a gardener watering a garden.  The walls exploded and orange goop fell like rain.

“Whoa hoss!” yelled Ascheya shortly after none of us could see through the falling plaster and smoke.

Her long claws wrapped around the wicked knives at her hips.  They were shaped like the ancient tonfa with one blade extending along her forearm and the other curving out from the bottom of her hand.  Her internal battery lit up the blades with a blue-black hue and they hummed happily in her hands.  Two children excited to be let out of the house.

“Lieutenant Jake,” Ascheya whispered in her bedroom voice, “You hear that?”

Her long ears wiggled slightly as I strained to listen above the crumbling plaster of the walls.  There was a strange hissing sound that I thought was the sound of plasma burning the walls, there was the dropping sound of caterpillar blood falling from the ceiling; nope, nothing.

I shook my head.

“What hell? she sneered, “Do they even give you guys a bio-fusion battery or just pump you up and send you out?”

“You’re out of line Sar,” I started to say, but caught myself.  She obviously had a problem with authority so I tried a new tactic.

“We weren’t all born with those big ole’ Dumbo ears Sarge,” I laughed, punching her in the arm.

Ascheya must have been stunned.  She just stared down at the spot I had punched, her lip curled slightly.

“You know … Dumbo ..?” I chuckled uncomfortably.

I was dead.

But then I heard a funny little giggle find its way out of her fangs, “What the hell is a Dumbo?”

“The little elephant you know?”  I laughed, “Disney?  You know, they lock it in their vault all the time?”

Eric pushed past, “How many times do we have to tell you two to get a room?”

“Not a clue Lieutenant,” Ascheya smiled, elbowing me in the ribs.

Pushing our way through the smoke and rubble, we paused outside doors to the rec room.  Now I could hear what Ascheya was talking about.  Someone was crying.

“There’s someone in there L-T,” Kelly whispered.

“Think we found our hooker,” Ascheya barked, kicking open the doors.

We all took our positions instantly.  Eric and Fernando secured the corners and Kelly and I fell in behind the malachite-skinned woman.

In front of us was a woman, but not like anyone we had ever seen.  Her skin was immensely bloated as if she was stretched and filled with fluid.  The poor thing was nearly eight feel tall from all the swelling and her gut had spread nearly ten feet.  She was sobbing and her hands wiggled from inside the folds of flesh around her arms.

“H … help … m-me,” she gasped, but then heaved as if she was going to vomit.  A few more heaves and she vomited one of the big gross caterpillars.

The instant the caterpillar was out of the way, Kelly shot it, splattering its goop on the wall.

I should have been paying more attention, but I was too focused on the woman, “Alright!  Kelly.  Emergency medi …”

I heard the echoing electronic sound of a KS-16.  As fast at the plasma cannon would fire, I watched round after round slam into the woman.  Stunned, I turned to see that Ascheya had taken Eric’s weapon and was unloading it into the prostitute.

“No!” I yelled, but Ascheya’s mind was made up.

After blowing the poor woman to kibbles, the dark woman handed the weapon back to Eric, “Well that’s that,” she commented, smiling to herself.

Stepping in front of her I thumped the woman on her chest with my finger, “I’ll have you court-martialed for that.  That woman …”

“Was dead!” she yelled back at me.  “There was nothing we could do!  But instead you wanted to let her suffer.”

“I wanted to save her!” I barked back.

“For who!?  Her or you?”

“I …” I couldn’t respond.  “Wha ..?”

Leaning close to me, Ascheya thumped me in the chest as I had done to her, “You want to be the hero.  It’s about you!”

“How could it be about me?  My duty is to protect people.”

“By making them suffer?” she groaned and pushed past me.

“Don’t worry about it,” Kelly said, patting me on the shoulder as she passed.

But … she was right.  The woman’s internal organs had been destroyed, her body devastated.  Compassion is great, but compassion without wisdom, without understanding can be the cause for more suffering.  A lesson I would have to learn the hard way.


Tales from Charon – From Brutal Origins

The following contains adult language and violence.

I slapped the syringe of viscous green fluid on the lunch table.  Looking up at me, her black and violet eyes blazing, Ascheya swallowed the meat she was eating.

“What?” she barked at me in her bedroom voice.

Since joining us, she had been disrespectful, antagonistic and insubordinate .  The woman was frighteningly enraging.  She could push my buttons better than anyone I had ever met.  After our second mission together, I had gone to my CO and demanded she be court-martialed.  Calmly, he had explained that I needed to learn to work with difficult soldiers.

“You know damn well what!” I yelled.

I quickly looked down at the metal tray in front of her.  The meat she was eating hadn’t been cooked!

Lowering her eyes to the syringe, she licked her pouty lips, “Are we playing twenty questions again Sarge?”

I could hear Kelly grumble from down the table, “I wish they would just get a room and get it over with.”

“That’s Lieutenant or Sir to you!  Contraband like regen injects are illegal here!” I yelled.  I couldn’t even address her properly, I was still waiting on her paperwork to be sent so I knew her rank.

“I’ll call you whatever I want,” the Delta Unit snickered, “And that contraband has kept me alive in the field more than once.”

“They’re addictive and can kill normal ..!

She stood up and glared into my eyes.  I could smell the strange scent of desert flowers emanating from her and could see the muscles flexing below her thin, high cheeks.

“Do I look normal!?” she yelled, “None of us is normal!  You’re all Betas!”

“The law is the ..!”

Dismissing me, she put her hand up in front of my face and turned away.  Her hands were long and thin with vicious talons and barbed bony protrusions jutting out of her joints.  My blood-pressure skyrocketed and my hands shook with rage.

How dare she!

Grabbing her thin shoulder, I turned her around to face me, “That’s it,” I growled.

Taking a step back I ripped the stripes of my uniform, “No ranks, no orders.  You and me bitch.”

Her eyes watched the stripes fall to the floor and a wicked smile spread across her dark face, “That’s more like it,” she cooed while pushing the table out of the way.

She was tall, but thin; built like a French model she lacked the bulk that the Delta Prototype carried.  I knew she was fast, but I was confident I would grossly overpower her.

Fernando groaned, “Can’t you take this to the bedroom?”

I snapped a jab toward one of those annoying fangs.  My fist brushed the end of her nose as she turned and watched my fist harmlessly strike air.

“Nice,” she commented, “Good snap.”

I followed with a cross.  As she stepped back I felt my fist brush her flirty bangs.  She took the opportunity to tap my wrist, keeping me from throwing a backfist.

“Good,” she laughed, “Try harder!”

I kicked out at her, driving a powerful front kick toward her gut, but she tip-toed to the side of my leg.  She was toying with me!  She was too fast and she knew it.

“Look, are you just fiddling around with me or what?” I asked as she deftly ducked under a roundhouse kick.

“I just want you to feel you’re doing well,” she snickered.

I snapped out a backfist, but she moved in and jammed my shoulder with her hands, “Would you stop that!?” I yelled.

I can’t be entirely certain what happened next.  I have to fill in the gaps with what I think happened based on my injuries.

My nose shattered as she kicked me in the face, but before my head could snap backward another kick landed in my stomach, folding me over like a taco.  I was lifted into the air by the kick and then grabbed around the throat.  Asheya flipped me over and slammed me though the table, my lungs emptying of air as my back hit the tile, the impact cracking the floor.

Gasping for air and bleeding all over the floor, I could barely see the dark woman through the tears in my eyes, “Here, have some contraband,” she smiled.

I felt the sudden rush of the drugs flowing through my system.  My eyes cleared and I could breath like normal.  My nose was repaired and I felt revitalized and calm.

Walking away from me, Asheya giggled, “Better than a trip to the infirmary aren’t they?”

*  *  *

Nothing was static on Charon; not directions, not text, not life.  We had to use miniature black holes to see monitors back on Earth.  Words printed on paper would blur and change, becoming impossible to read almost immediately.  Luckily, my information had been posted to the monitor back on Earth.

Classified, the reports explained that the Earth military had infiltrated a secret Biocorp facility on Charon.  They had started production on the Delta units just as the Epsilon unit had been born.  I read that when the news reporter had broken open the atrocities committed on Charon, Biocorp had quickly moved to terminate the Delta Production Units.

But there had been one snag …

“They had already administered the Divinity Protocol,” I heard Asheya’s soft, gentle voice behind me.  “The military had cut power to the facility so they tried to throw me in the incinerator.”

“How did you survive?” I asked without turning, “Divinity?”  But then I saw it in the report.

“Fifty two dead,” I heard her laugh, “No survivors.”

“I saw the reports, your sister wouldn’t have killed those people,” I flipped through the report on the monitor.  “She tried to protect people.”

It sounded like there was a little growl in her voice, “I’m not my sister,” she replied, draping her long hand over my shoulder.

“The fastest way to die on Charon,” she whispered in my ear, “is to fuck with me.”

I have quoted “The Princess Bride” somewhere in the text.  The first person to find the quote and comment will be in one of my upcoming stories.


Tales from Charon – The Delta Production Unit

For those wondering what became of Jessica, we’re just going to give her a little break with her family while we follow a few of the (mis)adventures of Harold the Cat and I take a moment to introduce you to a few characters from Charon.

Please note that the following contains adult language and violence.

 

I like to think I joined the military to help people.  You know, defend them.  But never in my wildest nightmares did I think I would be defending them against the shit that lives on Charon.  Hell, the Earth government abandoned that planet almost immediately.  But you can always count on corporate greed to get everyone in trouble.

Biocorp Inc.  decided they could make insane money off the natural resources on Charon by giving people places to live there, free land, everything.  The problem was the indigenous lifeforms … if you want to call them that.  Since the government wouldn’t help them out, Biocorp started making cyborg soldiers, but machines made out of dead people were nothing but food for the monsters on Charon.  So they started paying for volunteers, slaves really, indentured servants to go through genetic and physical protocols so they were faster and stronger than any living person.

Still not good enough.  Honestly, the stuff on Charon is tough.  They went through two generations, the Beta and Gamma units, before they rolled out their better than everything; the Delta Prototype.

Grown in a lab through genetic recombination of two different species and then going through their genetic and physical protocols, it was supposed to be a killing machine without equal.  Turns out they made a pretty girl that the world fell in love with.  One nosy reporter made it to Charon and all hell broke loose.

And I mean literally.

Nobody is completely sure what happened, but she died and killed the sky with her.  You heard right, killed the sky.  Told you Charon was messed up.  The Earth government moved in and started dismantling Biocorp, taking them through trials … all the legal stuff.  They also stated sending military squads to Charon to help the people living there.

My squad, Earth Special Forces Squad 4, was the first to go.  We had all signed up for the military version of Biocorp’s hunter/killer program … which meant we got to keep our memories, families and everything that made us human.  It also made us the perfect choices to go to Charon.  We were the best there was.

Until we met … her.

It was a simple extraction mission.  A convoy of supplies had been attacked and we were to go in, rescue the drivers and get out.  Simple right?  One little snag was that our explosives expert had been killed by a skrill and we had a new squadmate on the way.

As our transport rumbled across the barren, cracked ground my sniper, Kelly Spafford, tapped me on the shoulder, “Hey Lieutenant, what do you know about this noob we got coming?”

I looked up a the sky, it looked almost like it was made out of rotten flesh and on the skyline I could see the gangrenous tear in the sky, parts of it hanging just like a vicious wound.  There was always something moving above it, like the sky was alive, like worms were digging though its rotten flesh and threatening to tear through and fall to the earth at any moment.

“Dunno,” I shrugged, “You know the whole drill …”

“Do and die,” she chuckled and sat back, “Yeah, yeah.  He screws up I’ll frag him you know.”

“He screws up, you won’t have to,” I tapped Fernando on the shoulder and pointed to a gap in the weathered stones we could drive through, “He’ll be dead before you get him in your sites …”

As we entered the pass in the stones, something landed on top of our armored vehicle.  It was light so it wouldn’t be able to tear through the armoring, but oddly enough it wasn’t scratching around.

“Road hog?” asked Eric.  Eric was our heavy weapons expert.  A frighteningly large black man with an equally frightening love of killing.

“Doubt it,” Fernando responded, “I would have hit his buddy by now.”

There was a knocking on the roof.  Shave and a haircut … seriously!?

“… And road hogs don’t knock,” added Fernando with a grin.

There was a second, heavy thump and then the sounds of a struggle.  We could all hear claws digging into the metal of the roof of our vehicle and we all quietly watched the roof like a bunch of idiot turkeys staring at the sky while it rains.  The thumps quickly ended with three massive bangs that left dents in the roof and then everything went silent.

Someone keyed their communicator and a gentle, sultry feminine voice filled the body of the vehicle, “You fuck-sticks wanna let me in or do I have rip this damn hatch open?”

Eric started twisting open the mechanism and smiling, “Welcome aboard noob,” he replied into the microphone of his own communicator.

The hatch swung open and was quickly replaced by the bloody head of a terrordeer, it’s dead, multi-faceted eyes staring in at us, “Noob my ass,” the gentle voice responded, “I kill these things for fun.”

The head withdrew and a woman in full military hazardous operations armor dropped into our vehicle.  The armor was cutting edge and composed of black heavy high polymer plates over the spine and vital organs with gray light polymer over the rest of the body.  All of it used a person force field making the wearer nearly invulnerable … except on Charon.

I never thought I would be surprised by anything, but when the woman pulled off her helmet I have to admit that I was stunned.  Kelly even gasped a little.  She was a Delta!

She had black hair that gleamed a violet-blue and cascaded to her shoulders.  Her skin was the color of malachite and her ears were at least a foot long and pointed, dropping playfully on the ends.  Her eyes were black where the white should have been and her irises were a frightening shade of bright purple.  She evidently had fangs because one had gotten caught on her upper lip.

“Yeah, yeah,” she sighed.  “Delta Unit, only production model.  My sister was the one you all heard about.”

I quickly composed myself, “Name, rank and serial number soldier,” I ordered.

“Oh, aren’t you cute,” she cooed, petting my flat-top like I was a puppy, “Got your military haircut and orders and all.”

The woman then dropped her head ever so slightly so she was looking directly into my eyes from under her bangs and brow.  Her mouth was slightly open so I could see she had four fangs; two upper and two lower.

“Name, Ascheya.  Rank, Badass.  Serial Number, Foxtrot-Uniform-Charlie-Kilo-Uniform,” she sneered.

It was weird, she smelled like desert flowers.  Even though she had been sweating under her armor and should have smelled like sweat, instead of the stank, she smelled lovely.  Of course her attitude pissed me off.

“You listen up soldier ..!” I started to bark, but she cut me off by poking me in the chest.

“OR WHAT!!  HUH!?” she bellowed in her strange bedroom voice.  ‘YOU GONNA SEND ME TO CHARON!?  I FUCKING GREW UP HERE!!!”

“If you two love birds wouldn’t mind breaking it up, we’re here,” Fernando chuckled.

Nobody gave me lip.  Nobody.

“Perfect timing,” Ascheya smiled a wickedly. “The Bardo is coming.”

The Bardo.  In an ancient and dead religion, the Bardo was what they called the period between life, death and rebirth.  On Charon it was just the period between life and death.

Everyone grabbed their helmets and Kelly kicked open the back door.  On the horizon, we could hear the sounds of thousands of thunderstorms, a menacing rumble that was the harbinger of things to come.  It wasn’t just the darkness that the Bardo would bring.  No, it was something worse.  Terrordeer, gorehounds, road hogs, all of them were just pests.  No, the real shit came out during the Bardo.

“Let’s move people!” I yelled, but was immediately halted by Ascheya who stopped in her tracks.

“Seriously?” I could hear her ask through the communicator in her helmet.  “No, I thought we were all just going to stay in the truck and hope it all worked out.”  Shaking her head, she unstrapped her MR-7 plasma launcher from her back, “Dumbass …” she mumbled.

Ignoring her insubordination, I lead the group to the trashed trucks of the convoy.  One man was sitting by the wheel of his rig with wounds covering his body.  The darkness was coming, we had to get them into the transport.

“Are you all right sir?” I asked.  “Can you …”

Ascheya swooped in like an eagle and grabbed the man up, “Of course he’s not all right idiot, those are gorehound scratches.  We’ve got infected people here.”

Gorehounds were born by biting victims but letting them live.  In a few days, a newly formed monster would rip its way out of the host and if she was right, the drivers only had a few hours.

In moments, the whole area grew as dark as pitch.  Without our helmets, we wouldn’t have been able to see our hands in front of our faces, much less whatever would be chewing on our legs.  Fernando stood over us as we moved the injured, with his KS-16, he was an imposing figure; a big man with a multi-barrelled automatic plasma launcher.  But he was nothing but lunch to what was coming next.

With the last truck driver over her shoulder and the rest of the team in the transport, Ascheya stopped suddenly next to me and cocked her slightly.  She resembled an Earth dog hearing something outside.  Handing the man over to me, she knelt and put her hand on the ground.

“You got something?” I asked.  Secretly I prayed she wouldn’t just lip off again.

She turned her head again, “Get him in the truck,” she said sweetly.  Even under duress, her voice was like the song of an angel.

“What ..?” I started to ask, but she cut me off.

“Goddamn thunder worm!” she yelled, “Get in the truck!”

I bolted for the transport as she pulled a grenade off of her belt.  Pulling it and tossing it over one of the convoy trucks she dove behind a boulder as I tossed the man to Kelly inside our truck.  Looking back, I saw the plasma grenade detonate and then the ground erupt around it.

“Go!” I yelled to Fernando, “We’ll catch up.”

It was huge, massive.  Like a gigantic centipede, the thunder worm blasted out of the soil, throwing trucks like they were a child’s toys.  Its carapace was rotten and oozed fluids and its mandibles were as large as our transport and wickedly sharp.  But most disturbing was its face; a human nose and eyes looked down on us before a snake-like head came out of its mouth.

While I stood there gawking like a teen girl at a boy-band concert, Ascheya emptied her first clip into the monster.  I’d never seen anything that big in my life and the second head emerging from the mouth of the first was horrifying.  The rapid electronic pulse of the automatic plasma launcher jarred me out of my stupor.

“Fuck this,” Ascheya barked, throwing her rifle to the ground and grabbing the hooked blades she kept strapped to her sides.

Wicked weapons, they were like long, hooked knives made from hyper-alloy metal.  The second her hands touched them, they lit up happily, glowing with a blue-black hue.  She was pumping power into them, charging them and turning them into plasma blades.

“Eat me!” she yelled, running into the open.

What!?  She couldn’t be serious.

The beast obliged, dropping down and swallowing the woman whole.  That was it, she was gone.  One damn mission and we already lost our new team member.  But why would she ..?

The beast shook once.  Then again.  Then its gut exploded in a torrent of blood, torn flesh and stomach fluid.  As the beast collapsed, I saw the armored woman step out of its gut and could hear her panting into the communicator.

“Only … soft spot …” she sputtered, “It’s gut.”

Patting her on the shoulder I started to lead her toward the road.  We had a long walk back.

“So you knew Draghixa?” I asked.

The woman nodded, “Yeah.  She was my sister … so to speak.”

“Well welcome aboard soldier,” I smiled inside my helmet.

*  *  *

Remember how I said we were the best there was?  Now we’re a jumbled up dysfunctional bunch of misfits trying to save the world, but we’ve got the deadliest weapon on Charon with us.  A Delta Unit.


Horror and “The Seraphim Protocol” – Where Da Scary At?

Time for me to put up or shut up.  Wanna know where the horror comes from in my book The Seraphim Protocol?  Well read on if you dare.

Remember a while back that I mentioned horror is an emotion?  Remember how I said scary monsters aren’t so scary anymore?  Well, knowing this and that my grand argument was trying to consider how much suffering was too much, I knew I had to create a different world.  This world would have to be so unsafe that nobody could ever feel comfortable.

Why?

I started by naming the planet Charon after the Greek ferryman of the dead.  Charon took it’s inhabitants to their death.  So the name of the planet was the first step.  It had to invoke a less than subtle feeling of dread.

In addition, nothing on Charon could be static.  The reader, as well as the inhabitants, could have nothing they could “count on” including the positions of objects, the ability to communicate through writing.  Their minds would have to deal with a constant, shifting and dangerous chaos.

Next, if the inhabitants had a refuge, a safe place to go, then the suffering would stop momentarily.  Ergo, I created the bestiary of the planet.  It’s one thing to have bugs that lived out in the wilds, it’s entirely different to have monstrous gorehounds tearing their way out of the local banker.  It was important that these creatures be more than normal animals, they had to be so insanely violent and dangerous that they couldn’t be dealt with by normal people.  Frankly, if you met a gorehound, you wouldn’t stand a chance.

Speaking of refuge, another place many people find solace is in religion.  And, as you can guess, I got rid of that as well.  Not entirely though.  No, I twisted it up.  Buddhism is gone and only a few words remain of it.  Christianity is gone, but in it’s place is a bigoted ideal.  Everything else … gone.

But in a hopeless world, we have to find hope don’t we?  Maybe?  Enter our “heroes”, the bioweapons.

But Darin, if you’re trying to get rid of any hope, why include the bioweapons to save people?

They were introduced to demonstrate that people with extraordinary abilities couldn’t even be safe on Charon.  To top it off, they had no memories of their past, no loved ones; they had sold themselves for money they would never see and no matter how strong they got, there was always something out there that could kill them.

Big deal Darin.  You managed to reinvent Splatterpunk.

Not entirely.  You see, all of that is just environment.  I had to get rid of any amount of comfort zone before I could really start ripping things apart.

Horror comes from showing the reader the things they themselves are capable of doing.  The revulsion people feel when they see the things that happen every day is where I got the horror from for The Seraphim Protocol.  What are these things?

  1. Slavery – the concept that someone is entitled to “own” someone else
  2. Bigotry – I especially enjoy religious bigotry because it justifies itself
  3. Retaliation – the first two were too easy for people to divorce themselves from, but this one … we all want to hurt someone that has hurt us.  We want to “hurt them back” and this comes out in a rather shocking way.
  4. Powerlessness – specifically, “I’m going to hurt this person you care about and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”

Now let’s take a little walk through some of these concepts in The Seraphim Protocol.  Don’t worry, I won’t post any spoilers.

 

Slavery

In today’s world, especially in America, why would this affect anyone?  Well, because of the nature of my Impact Character, Draghixa.  We, as a people, are pushing for faster, smarter computers and my thoughts where, When computers become sentient, when does it become slavery?  So I took that to the next step.  Draghixa was created in a laboratory with the intentions of making her into a monster strong enough to kill the other monsters of Charon.  Why would an “animal” grown in a laboratory not be considered anything but livestock.

And so the story pursues that question; is she anything other than livestock.  What separates us from an animal?  Is it the ability to speak?  Is it our creativity?  I think it’s important that we consider it and how better than with someone that seems just like us?

 

Bigotry

This one is actually pretty easy.  All over the world we see people separating themselves from other with unfounded basis; especially religion.  In the case of The Seraphim Protocol, this is expressed in the aspect of religious bigotry because it is believed that Draghixa doesn’t possess a soul and is therefore nothing but an animal.

 

The horror of these two aspects lies in the revolting way that a fractured young woman is treated; as an animal with no worth beyond her ability to kill.

 

Retaliation

How is retaliating against someone horror you might ask?  Watching CNN during various legal battles lately has made me question just how far most people would go to get what they think is “justice”.  A particular CNN opinion personality doesn’t seem to be happy unless someone is in jail … or worse.  And how often are we, as a people, not satisfied until a person we believe committed a crime is dead?  Pretty often I would argue.

On Charon, there aren’t any police to stop people from acting out this retaliation.  Only the security that Biocorp keeps for themselves.  A Bioweapon designed to fight insanely vicious monsters hell-bent on exacting revenge for any slight is capable of committing some truly awful acts of retribution.

 

Powerlessness

In talking about the monsters on Charon, one would think that they would be where the feeling of powerlessness comes from, but that’s not entirely true.  Powerlessness does not come from being overwhelmed.  Heck, there’s all kinds of epic poetry about heroes facing certain death.  Power comes from within.  And powerlessness as well, especially when the suffering is inflicted on others.

We can take on suffering ourselves, martyring ourselves in our own minds, but the suffering of our loved ones, that’s another story.  Many times throughout The Seraphim Protocol, Jacob is faced with feelings of powerlessness.  He can kill gorehounds with his bare hands and while unarmed, destroy a pack of hackers.  But he can’t do anything to help Draghixa endure the pain she feels, both physical and mental.  That is powerless.  It’s one thing to be able to fight and lose.  It’s an entirely different thing to not even be able to fight.

 

By the definition of horror, an overwhelming and painful feeling caused by something frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting; The Seraphim Protocol is a futurist ride through Hell.  It is violent, unapologetic and sometimes offensive … a thrill-ride into our own worst fear.  Us.


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