The “Tales from Charon” series isn’t just about Ascheya and Lieutenant Jack. There are so many stories to be told on Charon that I’m going to introduce you to someone new this time.
The sign would have said Processing Center 8, but like most government ideas, they didn’t think it all the way through. So the glowing neon lights over Caprice’s head were nothing but a jumbled mess of red lines that swirled and changed constantly.
Caprice blew her platinum bangs out of her eyes while twisting the ace of spades in her hand. It was torn in one corner from a plasma blast. That card had stayed on her helmet until the day an Alpha Unit nearly took her head off. Now it stayed by her heart.
“I didn’t catch your number last night,” she heard a voice say behind her.
What was his name? Bob, Berry? Who cared? The night before some Gamma Unit had been hitting on her.
Bill, his name was Bill.
“No, you didn’t,” Caprice groaned, tucking her card into her armor.
Bill stepped out of the door and put his arm over her, leaning on the wall. To be fair, he was gorgeous; tall, long blond hair and a body that could grace the cover of a romance novel. But all Gamma Units looked like that.
“So Jennifer gave me her room number, what d’ya say?” Bill smiled down at her.
Caprice was a Beta Unit, obsolete. She had been designed with function in mind, not to look pretty. She was broad and strong, built like an elite athlete. Small chested and barely six-feet tall, she didn’t compare to the model-esque gamma units with their long hair, lean legs and big breasts. Why was he bothering her?
“I say back off,” Caprice grunted, pushing Bill away with her free hand. Even the bioweapons had their douche-bags and one was in front of her.
There were three production generations of Hunter/Killers made by Biocorp. The Alpha Units were cyborgs made from cybernetic parts and dead bodies. They hadn’t adapted to Charon so they were mothballed and replaced by the Beta Units.
Betas like Caprice had been designed from living people and their strength, speed and healing were increased through a genetic and physical protocol called The Archangel Protocol. When the Beta Units weren’t enough, Biocorp had released the Gamma Units.
Gamma Units like Bill were upgraded to be able to charge their weapons into laser cutters and power their armor through an internal battery. They were given a better protocol called The Seraphim Protocol and were actually given an appearance that Biocorp thought would endear them with the Earth public.
But they were just annoying to the veteran trainer Caprice.
“Come on,” Bill cooed, “Let’s get you out of that armor. You can’t be comfortable in that.”
Caprice was wearing a black, obsolete armor called ES Poly; Extreme Service Polymer. Not as strong as the current Hyper-Alloy armor used by the Gamma Units, it was lighter and allowed her to move better. It was complete with interlocking panels covering her entire body and a electronic helmet that helped her target enemies and see during the Bardo.
The tall blond man put his hand on her waist, “I love those abs you Betas have. Let’s see ’em.”
“Take. Your hand off me,” Caprice growled, “NOW!”
She might have been alone outside Processing Center 8. She might have been outclassed and obsolete compared to the bigger, stronger and faster Gamma Unit in front of her.
But she was far from defenseless.
“Come on baby, Jennifer is waiting for us,” Bill cooed as Caprice adjusted her grip on her helmet.
Twisting, she slammed the helmet into the side of Bill’s head with a satisfying crunch, staggering the big bioweapon. He stumbled to the side and the smaller woman spun, kicking his feet out from under him.
But he was ready. Just as Bill hit the ground, he kicked himself back up to his feet and elbowed Carprice in the side of the head. The blow was worse than being kicked by a bull. He was so strong that his strike caused her vision to go black and her ears to ring.
Stumbling back, the platinum blond felt Bill grab her from behind and slam her into the wall of the Center. Her vision was already clearing, but her ears were still ringing.
“Now,” Bill groaned, pressing into her and sniffing at her hair, “Let’s just see if we can’t get that old armor off …”
Jerking her head back, Caprice smashed her skull into her attacker’s nose. Feeling the satisfying crunch of bone breaking bone, she donkey kicked backward, driving her heel into Bill’s groin.
The Gamma Unit collapsed and Caprice jumped onto him, punching him in his broken nose, “NOBODY!” she yelled punching him again.
“NOBODY DOES THAT TO ME!!! YOU TRIED TO RAPE … A GODDESS!!” Caprice bellowed, elbowing the man in the face.
As she reared back to hit him again, she was caught and pulled off of the man, “Whoa there little lady!” a voice said from behind.
Struggling and kicking at the bleeding man on the ground, the woman tried to get back to him. How dare he try to rape her! She wasn’t just some little whore in a cantina! She was Caprice Parker, the best Hunter/Killer trainer on the planet!
“Get him out of here,” the soldier holding her said, nodding at three others who were gathering around the fallen fighter.
Calming, Caprice pulled away from the Earth soldier behind her and snatched up her helmet, “I was fine!” she huffed.
Her heart was still racing and she was so mad that she was seeing red. Nobody touched her without permission dammit! Nobody!
“Listen Miss,” the soldier Caprice noticed was a sergeant said. “We’re trying to find your records. You’ll be headed home soon okay?”
Shaking her head, her short platinum hair waving in front of her face, Caprice groaned, “How far back have you gone?”
Motioning into the Processing Center, the sergeant shook his head, “Ten years so far. We haven’t matched your DNA yet though.”
Caprice and the soldier walked into the dark Processing Center. It was actually a bar in New Boston that the military had converted into a processing center, but the good part was it still had ice and alcohol.
“Lemme buy you drink,” the soldier chuckled.
Groaning, Caprice rolled her big green eyes, “You’re so cute,” she said sarcastically.
He actually was kind of cute. Even though everything on Charon was free of charge to everyone but the HK’s.
Grabbing a bottle of black-label whiskey and a towel full of ice, the soldier … his twisting and swirling tag might have said his name, gave her the bottle.
“How long have you been here?” he asked, pressing the cold rag against her head. “Maybe we can start farther back in the records.”
Taking a long drink from the bottle, Caprice sloshed the alcohol around her bloodied gums and spit some blood and alcohol out of her mouth onto the floor, “Before the Gamma’s. Time doesn’t make sense here though.”
Handing her the ice pack, the soldier offered her a chair, “How much do you remember? The other HK’s have said they have some memories left.”
Looking around and taking another drink, Caprice watched the other biological weapons giving information to a collection of soldiers. They were all trying to get their identities back so they could go home. Something had happened, she wasn’t sure what, but something had happened to Biocorp and the Earth military was trying to bring them all home.
But she didn’t have a home to go back to. She remembered.
“My name is Caprice Parker,” she offered, “I worked for Biocorp on the Alpha Unit project.”
Shaking her head and taking another long drink, she groaned, “I’ve already told you guys this three times. I remember getting a divorce, I remember volunteering when the Betas went active. I told you my identity. I know who I am.”
“You’ve been here that long?” the Sergeant asked, scratching his flat-top.
Her memories were still sketchy, but more complete than anyone she had yet met. According to Biocorp, the process of becoming a bioweapon was so traumatic it destroyed their memories.
Caprice nodded. Caprice was the Betas “Ace of Spades”. She had been on the planet long enough that she knew the ins and outs of pretty much every place they had explored. She knew how to handle all of the monsters, how to work their technology and even how to speak their language … Latin.
“Yeah,” she nodded.
When the Gammas had gone into production, she had been promoted to a trainer’s position. She had taught more Gamma Units than she could count how to survive on Charon and more than a few of them were still alive.
“Man, we sure could use someone like you,” the soldier said, standing up and pushing his chair in. “We’re lost all the time, can’t handle the local animals, speak the language, nothing.”
Caprice dropped her rag and grabbed him before he could go back to the information terminals. That was it!
She didn’t have a family to go back to. She didn’t have a job waiting for her. There was nothing for her back on Earth … but they still needed her help on Charon.
“So what’s your offer?” she grinned.
“Ma’am?” the confused soldier twisted up his face.
“You need a Sacagawea?” Caprice thumped her chest, “I’m your girl.”
“A sack-of-what?” the man turned back to her.
Caprice rolled her eyes, “You guys give me room and board, I’ll train your soldiers and be your guide. Deal?” she asked, spitting into her hand and then holding it out.
“That’s unsanitary,” chuckled the soldier.
“Yes,” Caprice was laughing inside, “Yes it is,” she smiled.
She hoped he didn’t notice her missing tooth. Getting kicked in the head by a bloodmare can easily loosen an incisor.
Shaking her hand, the soldier laughed, “You just stay here miss. My C-O will be out to talk to you shortly.”
So that was it. Caprice had her calling again. She remembered how excited she had been receiving her PhD and never thought it would lead to training soldiers on an alien hell-hole. But there she was, nursing a sore head and watching the sergeant hurry to his commanding officer … and his butt looked nice in his fatigues.
I’ve quoted some song lyrics somewhere in this story. Like before, if anyone can find them, point them out and give me the name of the band you’ll be the star of an upcoming story that appears on my blog!