Tag Archives: The Seraphim Protocol

Tales from Charon – Bitter Reunion

Jenny Barrister could barely contain herself.  She was going down in history.  They were already talking about a Nobel for her work exposing the Biocorp hunter/killer program and their work on the Delta Units.

But every image could always use a little bit of tweaking and she had a perfect human interest story that would cement her image.  Caprice Parker, reunited with the son she couldn’t remember.  And a son, reunited with the mother he never met.

It was perfect.

As if on cue, the gate came to life in front of Jenny.  The polished steel supports began humming and the green swirling gases under the glass floor froze.  Inside the gravitational field contained by the gate, reality began to bend.  It was folding, breaking down.  The gateway functioned by folding space-time, putting one location directly on top of another that was millions of light years away.  The visual appearance of two locations sharing the same space was something to behold.

A young man came into focus.  He was tall with gently curling blond hair and square glasses.  He was thin and gangly, a consequence of teenage hormones run amok.

“Ian Parker?” Jenny asked.

The young man staggered and stumbled out of the gate, “Yeah … I … whoa!”

Jenny caught him and laughed, “Your first time through is a little wild huh?”

“Yeah,”  the boy laughed with her, “Hey, so where’s my mom?”

Jenny nodded.  Perfect.

“Now keep in mind,” she took him by the hand, “You’re mom is what they call a Beta Unit.  Even though she generally looks like she did on Earth, her body has changed quite a bit.”

Ian patted her on the back, “I don’t remember my mom so I guess I won’t be surprised,” he smiled.

“Then let’s go find her,” Jenny offered.

 

*  *  *

 

“Shoot him!” Caprice yelled from the back of the warpig.  “Just shoot!”

It was her worst fear, instead of adapting and finding a way to kill the warpig, the soldiers were just relying on her to do it all.  Just because their plasma weapons didn’t work didn’t mean they didn’t have other options!

But there she was, gored twice by the monsters huge tusks, bleeding out of her mouth and stuck riding on the back of the giant boar.  At least it was outside the  city.

Hearing the baying of the gorehounds on the hill behind her, Caprice was able to grab her wakazashi.  She had to stop the damn thing from crashing back through the gates of the city.  It would kill too many civilians if it got back in.

Holding onto the back of the boar with her legs, she grabbed one tusk.  Her breathing was coming in short, excruciating gasps and more blood poured out of her mouth.  At the very least her ribs were broken, more likely she had a punctured and collapsed lung.

As the creature charged the gates, Caprice actually thanked the Bardo.  When it had come, the skin had peeled off the monster and she could see its vertebrae underneath the muscle tissue.  All she needed to do … was …

The blade bounced off the bone of the beast’s spine.  Her damn hands were still shaking!  Just one more time!  One time dammit!

Kicking the creature, Caprice dug her heels into its sides.  The warpig kicked its front legs out, skidding to a stop and throwing the platinum blond over its head.

“She’s clear!” she heard the soldiers start yelling.

Just one more …

The wakazashi struck true!  She slipped the blade between the armored boar’s vertebrae and felt the satisfying tug as the edge sliced through its spinal cord.  The monster’s head instantly collapsed to the dirt and Caprice tumbled through the air.

Slamming back-first into the gates, Caprice heard a sickening crunch issue from her spine and any remaining breath left her body.  Crumpling to the ground, her head hit the dirt and more blood poured out of her mouth.  Only yards away, the warpig tried to gasp for breath, it stared at her in confusion.  It didn’t understand how she had beat it, it didn’t understand what she had done to it.  It didn’t understand why she wasn’t dead.

That was it!  A wave a relief rolled through Caprice.  The moment of clarity draped a blanket of understanding over her, warming and calming her.

Death had been there for her the whole time!  Charon was death, it wasn’t denying her.  She was denying it!  All those years, all that time, she thought she’d been lucky (or unlucky) enough to stay alive.  She had fought and fought and fought.

For what?

Once the soldiers’ plasma rifles didn’t work, they gave up.  The civilians wouldn’t fight.  Like always, it was up to her.

Why?  Because Charon wanted her!  It had always wanted her and even though she wanted the fight to end, she wouldn’t stop fighting.

Pushing herself to her feet, she started staggering toward the paralyzed boar.  She couldn’t hear the shouts of the soldiers, didn’t want to.  Gorehounds loved to follow warpigs, feeding on the scraps left by the bulldozer-like monsters and they were singing to her on the hill.

Their baying was her requiem.

Stopping by the warpig, she drove her sword into its skull, extinguishing the remaining  life in the beast.  Continuing her practice of following the ancient rituals, she punched her hand into the pommel of the katana, breaking the blade.  The sword had been made for her and she would be the only person to ever use it.

Her weapons were all used up and her armor was destroyed.

 

*  *  *

 

“Come on!” Jenny yelled.

Caprice was just on the other side of the gates.  The floodlights were shining down and Jenny would have her human-interest piece.

Ian followed after her, panting, “She, she’s okay?  Right?”

“Your mom’s as tough as anyone I’ve ever seen!” Jenny yelled as the gates opened, but the light wasn’t going to be on her this time.

Caprice held her hands out to the sides, blood dripping from her fingertips.  She couldn’t breathe, but it didn’t matter.  She wouldn’t have to for long.  They could see she was unarmed.  The gorehounds wouldn’t hesitate.

Her hands didn’t shake.  Her muscles weren’t tense.  The platinum woman who had trained so many killers, slaughtered so many monsters, was completely at ease.  She wasn’t afraid.

“M … Mom?” Ian stammered.

Caprice smiled as the creatures fell on her.  It wasn’t pain that she was feeling, it was contentment.  She was getting to meet an old friend for the first time.  The animals tore and ripped at her and her body gave out.  She fell to the ground, smiling as skinless hounds the size of cougars tore the flesh from her bones.

“MOM!” Ian tried to rush forward, but Jenny grabbed him.

“No Ian!  No!  They’ll kill you too!” Jenny yelled.  She was losing it!  Losing everything.  This was supposed to be her big moment!

Caprice closed her eyes and sighed one last time.  Darkness embraced her, her body faded away, feeling faded away, sound was gone.  Then there were colors, red and then smoke.  But then the smoke was driven away by a brilliant white light.

The light was peaceful.  The light was understanding.  Caprice was happy.  No, she was joyful.  No, that wasn’t it either.

Bliss.  Caprice reached out without hands and touched bliss.

It was over.

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Tales from Charon – One of Their Own

No rest for the wicked.

Or at least that’s what they say.  Looking at her half-empty bottle Caprice wondered, was she one of the wicked?

Her ribs still ached and because of her unnatural constitution, the alcohol was only slightly dulling the pain.  Blowing her platinum bangs out of her eyes, she took another swig from her bottle when she heard the door to the bar open and then close behind her.

“Alright, give me a pan of all of the hunter-killers and then … hang on,” she heard a woman’s voice say.

Sitting the bottle down, the veteran bioweapon rolled her neck, causing it to pop.  Damn reporters had been showing up like an infestation of blood sucking fleas recently.  Whatever had happened, it had been big and Biocorp must have been in trouble.

“Excuse me, you’re a Beta right?” the woman’s voice asked.

Taking another quick drink, Caprice sat the bottle down and nodded, “Yeah,” she sighed.  “Why?”

Talking made her ribs hurt worse.

“The Betas I’ve talked to have more of their memories back than the Gammas, do you have a little time to talk to the National News Network about what’s happened to you here on Charon and how you got here?” the voice asked.

Caprice didn’t look through her bleach-blond hair to see who was talking to her, “Whatever,” she groaned, taking another drink.

“I’m joined with another Beta Unit …” the woman’s voice started, but Caprice interjected.

“Racist,” she barked, motioning for the bartender.

“What?” the woman’s voice responded.

The bartender, a burly man named Harvey, handed Caprice another bottle as she turned to face the reporter.  Caprice looked her over quickly; a skinny little blond that was showing a little too much cleavage and a maliciously ambitious gleam in her eyes.

“My name is Caprice Parker, not Beta Unit,” Caprice said flatly.  “You wouldn’t call your cameraman Black Guy would you?  We have names, we’re people.”

The woman paused for a moment, considering what Caprice had said.  She wasn’t confused.  No, that woman wasn’t dumb.  She was just mulling over some new information.

“I remember that I used to work for Biocorp until I got a divorce,” Caprice took another quick drink.  “Can’t say as I know what or who I was married to, but I signed up for the hunter-killer program.  I got here, stayed alive for a while and when they came out with the Gamma Units I was promoted to trainer.  That’s about it.”

The woman had recovered quickly, “Are you excited to be going home?”

“Ms. Parker!” a soldier yelled from the other side of the room.  “We need help!”

Groaning, the platinum warrior stood up slowly, “I guess you’ll have to ask someone else,” she chuckled.

She met the soldier in the middle of the room with the reporter and her cameraman in tow, “What’s up Sergeant?” she asked.

“It’s …” he panted, evidently winded from running to the bar, “One of yours Ma’am.  He’s killed five men already and has a hostage.”

“So shoot him in the head,” Caprice shrugged over the whispers of the woman behind her.

“Snipers can’t get a shot Ma’am, he knows what’s going on,” the man was catching his breath.  “And we can’t take him up close.  We need you.”

This is only the third recorded time this has happened,” the woman whispered to the camera behind Caprice.

“Dead or alive?” Caprice asked, starting toward the door.

“Alive if possible,” the soldier responded.

A short drive in the transport took Caprice to a closed warehouse surrounded by soldiers.  Looking at their formations, Caprice chuckled.  The sergeant had been right, they weren’t ready to try to take on a bioweapon.  They were all too close.

Hopping out of the transport with the reporter and camera behind her, Caprice patted one of the soldiers on the shoulder, “Get your people back, if this comes out of the warehouse you’re all too close.”

Shoving the camera back, Caprice approached the closed rolling door and grabbed it by the handle.  With a grunt, she broke the lock and, entering the warehouse, closed the door behind her.

“Caprice!” the bioweapon in the center of the room gasped.

It was a tall man, a Gamma, with long brown hair and striking eyes.  He held a woman next to him on her knees, his sword on the back of her neck.

“Okay Ron, drop the sword and let’s go,” Caprice said, holding her hands up so he could see she didn’t have a weapon in her hands.

Ron had been one of Caprice’s success stories.  She had trained him from the day he arrived on Charon and he had gone on to save hundreds of people.  She had been so proud of him, felt so great to have taught him.  He might have actually been the closest thing she ever had to a real son.  But now he was shaking and sweating next to a terrified dark skinned woman.

“I … I can’t Caprice,” he stammered, blinking back tears.

“You’re going home, now drop the sword,” Caprice said flatly.

He was broken.  Not physically, but mentally.  It wasn’t the first time she’d seen it either.  The stress of the constant nightmarish fighting on Charon was more than anyone should have to endure.  Only the people that eventually hardened their heart so much they didn’t care about life or death were the ones that lasted.

“I can’t go home Caprice … I’m …” Ron was nearly panting while trying to keep from crying.  “I’m a murder back there.”

“So?” Caprice shrugged, “Stay here then.”

“I can’t take it any more,” Ron began crying, “No more death, no more …”

“Ron,” Caprice approached him, her voice as deadly serious as it could be, “There’s only two ways this can end Ron.”

Ron nodded his head.  He dropped his eyes, not wanting to look at Caprice.

“So which is it Ron?” Caprice asked, lowering her hand to her own katana.

“Do you know what Seppuku is Caprice?” he asked.

Caprice’s heart sunk into the pit of her stomach.  She wanted to vomit and cry.  She wanted to run away, but both the woman and Ron needed her.

Drawing her wakazashi, Caprice nodded.  Handing him the small sword, handle first, she bumped the woman with her foot.

“Don’t watch this,” she told the woman.

Obligingly, the woman scooted out of the way and covered her ears while scrunching her eyes tightly shut.  Caprice was glad she obeyed.  People didn’t need to witness death to understand it happened, especially violent and upsetting deaths.

Drawing her katana, Caprice stepped behind Ron as he dropped to his knees.  Holding the wakazashi in both hands, he turned the blade toward himself.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered

Ron drove the blade into his gut without so much as a grunt.  Gritting his teeth against the pain, the warrior ritualistically sliced through his abdomen, disemboweling himself.  Before he could grunt or cry out, Caprice decapitated him with a single smooth stroke of her blade.

Pushing her sorrow into her gut, the blond veteran approached the former hostage.  Taking one of her hands, she helped the woman up.

“Come on,” Caprice grunted.  “On your feet.”

As she lead the woman out of the warehouse Caprice was greeted to cheers and clapping.  Several cameras were trained on her, recording her every move.

She was a hero … again.  And heroes always cried alone.


Tales from Charon – Old School

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!


Tales from Charon – Shadows of the Past – Part 1

We had ditched the truck and our armor almost immediately.  No use running if the military could track us through our equipment.

It seemed like we had been running for weeks, but since there was no day or night I couldn’t be sure.  The only thing resembling a nocturnal cycle was the Bardo and it was totally random.  Sometimes one Bardo would clear only to be followed by another immediately.  At other times I would have to stop and sleep three times before seeing another.

That was another odd thing; Ascheya didn’t sleep.  She would just laugh at me and explain how sleeping was just another chance to die.  And she was right.  I lost track of how many times we got attacked while I was asleep.

We didn’t talk much during our cross country trek, but she seemed to know where we were going.  Which was fine, I had to do some soul-searching.  Should I just turn her in?  Could I take my court martial and then go back to a normal life?

“Well, here we are.  Oasis,” declared Ascheya as we rounded a corner in one of the many gorges we had gone through.

Ahead of us were the burned out husks of several buildings.  Based on the scarred ground, I would have to assume that …

“Biocorp hit this place with an air strike,” she explained, stopping by a pile of rubble.  Bending over, she dusted off what looked like the remnants of a neon sign.

“It doesn’t look like much of an Oasis,” I said, looking at the skeleton of a larger building at the end of the gorge.

Tossing a piece of broken glass to the side, Ascheya stood up and dusted her clawed hands off on her legs, “It’s not the kind you’re thinking of,” she said, smiling.

I waited for an explanation, but she seemed fine with leaving me hanging.  Stepping gingerly over some more rubble, she tip-toed toward the main building.

“You gonna explain why you call this Oasis then?” I asked, stumbling after her.

“Huh?” she stopped and turned her head slightly toward me, “Oh, yeah.  You know how you can’t read written text here on Charon?  How things seem to move around?”

“Yeah,” I grunted, stopping next to the dark woman.

“They don’t here.  It’s like a little oasis in the middle of the insanity of this world.  Plus the monsters didn’t ever come in here,” she said distractedly.  Something had caught her attention, something I couldn’t see or hear yet.

“And we’re here why?” I asked.  I looked up at the rolling, infected sky.  Like so much rotten meat, it twisted and rolled as if filled with massive maggots.

She turned her head as if she was trying to catch a subtle sound, “This is where the news report happened.  The Biocorp hunter/killers used this place as a safe haven when they knew Biocorp was coming after them.”

Ascheya held her hand up, “Something’s … not right.”

“Tell me about it,” I groaned, rolling my eyes.  There was plenty that wasn’t right.  “So about that weapon?”

“Smell that?” she sniffed at the air like a dog.

Why did she always do that?  I didn’t have her senses.  I wasn’t as fast as she was.  I wasn’t as strong as she was.  Why did she feel the need to include me?

“You don’t?” she turned around and looked at me.

I rolled my eyes and shook my head.  Of course I didn’t.

Turning to me she sighed, “Look, I appreciate you getting me off base and trying to get me a new identity and everything, but you’re dead weight out here.  If you’re going to get all butthurt because you aren’t me, we can part ways now.”

Ascheya stepped close to me, looking me in the eye.  I watched the violet sclera of her eyes grow thinner … her eyes were dilating as she studied me.  The scalpel of her perception was slicing off a little piece of my soul.

“You’ll be dead before you get out of this gorge Jack … or worse,” she said flatly.  I didn’t think it was possible for her subtle, seductive voice to sound so uncaring.

“Take your pick Jack,” she said and continued her walk to the main structure.

Dead.  Was that what I wanted?

Not sure about the answer, I followed her into the devastated building.  Picking through the rubble, I was able to tell it had once been a hotel.  The front desk was still there and the walls collapsed, but most of the first floor seemed basically safe.

“You know where we’re going?” I asked.

Tapping her nose with a long, ivory claw, my guide sneered, “Just following my nose.”

Pushing through some collapsed woodwork, she found an opening to what appeared to be a basement.  Skipping down the concrete steps, she found a door.

Following her I pointed to the bottom of the door, “Light,” I whispered.

Nodding her acknowledgement, Ascheya pushed open the door slowly and peeked inside.  Seemingly convinced it was safe, she entered and I followed her.

Someone was living in the basement!  There was a bedroll on the floor and a glowing lamp next to it.  There were cans of food and other supplies in one corner and a collection of bladed weaponry and exotic armor piled up in the other corner.

I knelt next the bedroll and lifted up a corner, “Who would live in this place …?”

Ascheya’s blades flew off her belt and she snapped around to the door, ready for a fight.  In the doorway was the shadow of big man, a very big man.  Probably two inches taller than Ascheya with long hair and a broad build, the man was dragging a sword with him and appeared to be wearing military armor.

“Draghixa?” I heard him whisper in a raspy voice.

“Well,” Ascheya lowered her weapons, “If it isn’t the legendary Jacob.”

For those unfamiliar with Jacob, he appears in “The Seraphim Protocol” and I’ve mentioned him in several posts.  Here’s one example  http://wp.me/p2yGIy-1b


Tales from Charon – Crazy Compassion – Fin

A man is nothing without his honor.  When I enlisted, when I received my commission, I made a public oath that I would defend the Earth Constitution and honor the ideals it represented against all enemies foreign and domestic.

After the deaths of over forty soldiers, I regret that oath.  I regret doing what I had to do.  I regret that I wasn’t smart enough to find a better way.

*  *  *

We pulled back into the base with our new “survivor” ready to start a new life.  Ascheya … er … Hanna Thompson would be hired on as a native consultant.  She would have all the rights and privileges of an Earth citizen.  I was already trying to figure out how to start an underground railroad for clones when Fernando stopped the truck.

Where was everyone?

Asch … Hanna stepped out of the truck and I followed her with the rest of the team dragging behind us.  But she froze after only a few steps.

“What?” I asked, “Is the Bardo coming again?”

“Uh,” she mumbled, “Yeah, but that’s not it.”

“Wha ..?” I started, but the MP’s came out of the barracks.

They were followed by what seemed like the entire base.  Everyone was armed and in full armor.  General Vishay emerged from the crowd with an older civilian man next to him.

Grabbing Ascheya by the shoulder, I stepped in front of her, “General Sir.”

“Step away from the clone Lieutenant,” General Vishay ordered.  “Orders are that its supposed to report for disposal.”

“What’s going on sir?” I asked.  Why was the whole base waiting for us?  I reported that Ascheya had been killed.  They would have had to have known she didn’t actually die …

I turned around and looked back at Kelly.  It was her.  She had let them know through the mobile terminal.

“Look at it,” Kelly said.  “It’s a monster Lieutenant.  Fangs, claws.”

“She’s one of our own!” I barked.  “She’s a soldier just like us!”

The general motioned to the MP’s, “Disarm it.”

Ascheya grabbed the blades off her belt, “You think you’re man enough guys?” she hissed.

“No!” I yelled.  “You took an oath Kelly!  To protect all citizens regardless of the circumstances of their birth!”

“She wasn’t born!” Kelly yelled, “Look at it!  It was grown in a lab!”

I looked over at Ascheya who was eyeing me closely.  She was thin as I said before.  Almost anorexic thin, much like a French model.  Her hands were monstrous and her ears were almost cat-like, but over a foot long and extremely pointed.  I had always focused on her voice, her scent.  I never thought about how she looked like so much like demon.  But even now, I didn’t care.

The civilian stepped forward, “Son, I’m Doctor Cashen.  That thing behind you, it doesn’t have a soul.  It’s an animal that doesn’t even know its an animal.”

Asheya watched me.  She just stared at me.  It was like she couldn’t decide whose side I was on.

“Step back Lieutenant,” the general ordered, “That’s an order!”

I looked back at Eric and Fernando.

“Look at her skin,” Eric said.  “Look at how it shines.  It’s like metal.”

“Eric,” I groaned, “Really?”  Eric’s family had descended from Africa.  They had been taken as slaves and a civil war had been fought over them.  And here he was talking about the color of her skin?

I looked back at the general, “No sir.  You know this isn’t right.”

“We have our orders Lieutenant,” the general sighed, “Kill it,” he nodded to the MP’s.

One of them placed his plasma launcher against Ascheya’s temple as she slowly lowered her weapons.  She was giving up!  I could see her holding her breath.

In the distance I could hear the rumbled of a thousand thunderstorms on the horizon.  Ascheya closed her eyes tight, preparing herself for the coming plasma round.  One pull of the trigger and she would fall into darkness.

Darkness.

The blanket of the Bardo rolled over us like a tidal wave of pitch.  Just as the world went black she opened her left eye … and smiled at me!

The compound was alight with the blue glow of plasma rounds and I felt the splash of warm life hit my face.  It was like watching her move through a strobe light.  Each instant that my eyes could catch her, she was slicing another soldier.  They fell one by one, their blood spraying into the air and their intestines dumping onto the ground.

Kelly moved and pulled my rifle off my shoulder, “Don’t even think about it.  Don’t make me do this,” I told her.

The sounds of battle surrounded us.  Ascheya was wading through the soldiers, killing everyone in her path while I held my squad back.

“It’s gonna kill them all!” Kelly yelled.

What the hell was I doing!?  This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen!  We were supposed to work together.  We were supposed to be a team!  This was right, it was the right thing.  How come everyone was dying?  Why?

“Ascheya!” I yelled, “In the truck!”

Holding my team back at gunpoint, I waved Ascheya into the truck.  We both bailed into the front and I gunned the throttle.  Crashing through the gate, I finally remembered to breathed out.

“Well Lieutenant,” the blood covered woman next to me started, “I’m used to this, but you’re a criminal  now.”

“I know,” I groaned, “I … I guess it’s just Jack now, no more Lieutenant.”  Plasma rounds slammed into the truck and careened past us into the blackness of the Bardo.

“You were always Mr. Orders, by the book,” she giggled, “What made you change your mind?”

Driving through the curtain of the Bardo I shrugged, “I’m still by the books.  I took an oath of service and I’m following it through to the end.”

“So now what?” she asked, leaning the seat back a little.

I stared into the palpable blackness around us.  I had just wanted to do what was right.

Smiling, I snorted, “Remember why they made you?”

“To protect people,” Ascheya groaned.

“Yep,” I nodded, “to protect people.  We’ll just have to do it our way.”  I was out of ideas at the moment, ” Well, this is your planet.  Point the way.”

“Ever had a holiday on Charon?” Ascheya giggled.

A holiday on Charon?  What had I gotten myself into?


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 – Crazy Compassion – Part 1

I know I promised the next chapter of “Jessica Redux” today, but the story between Ascheya and Lieutenant Jake Carlson is heating up.  Jessica will take a short hiatus while I dismiss the plot bunny that’s making me write more about Charon.

This next episode will take a couple of installments to get through so please enjoy “Crazy Compassion – Part 1”.

Why is it that the most distracting things always happen during the Bardo?  The entire base was pitch black and covered in the pale glow of the flood lights when we got our call, a group of refugees had been attacked on their way to the base.  We were the clean-up crew, but I couldn’t find my squad.

After running all over the base, I thought to check the barracks.  There I found Fernando leaning on the wall outside the barracks with Eric and Kelly waiting in the truck.  It sounded like a war was waging inside.

“What’s going on?” I asked just as something heavy hit the door, denting and slightly tearing the steel.

“You’re girl is throwing a fit,” Fernando chuckled, “She’s super-mega-pissed at something.”

A bunk struck the wall and busted through the corrugated steel, tearing the metal like flesh and sending the bunk into the next barrack.  Fernando looked over at the fallen bed and chuckled.

“Good luck there L-T,” he snorted.

I pushed on the door, changed my mind and then kicked the dented door open, I saw Ascheya smash a locker with her hand and then grab it.  Picking it up she threw it across the room while screaming at the top of her lungs.  It was a piercing sound, like the wail of a banshee.

“What’s the matter soldier?” I asked, but quickly regretted the soldier part.

Stopping, she huffed to me and pointed a vicious talon in my face, “The fucking Church of Light is what’s the matter!”

The Church of Light was the dominate religion on Earth.  I’m no theologian, but my understanding is that they’re based off a long dead religion that was supposed to have been founded by the son of a god or something.

Before I could even ask, she answered my next question, “They fucking blocked my citizenship!”

“They’ve got no authority …” I started to say, but she grabbed a footlocker and through it through the window.

“A damn clone!  They convinced the Senate I’m a clone!” she yelled, smashing a bunk with her hands.  The metal collapsed as if the bed was made from taffy.

There are three very dark eras in Earth’s history.  The first was slavery that ended in the late twenty-second century.  The second were the Jewish, African and Hispanic Holocausts.  Finally, came the Clone Trials.

During the Clone Trials, the cloned people had managed to get enough support to take their case to the Earth Supreme Court saying they were legitimate humans and should be afforded all rights of normal people.  The Church of Light had convinced enough lobbyists and judges though that the clones didn’t have souls, they weren’t conceived by The Lord, so they weren’t human and therefore, animals.  They used those people since then as slave labor.

“We’ll just …” I started to say, but Ascheya was beyond raging and wasn’t going to let me say a word.

“Destruction!” she yelled, throwing a rifle into the wall.  “I’m supposed to report for destruction!”

I’ve never claimed that I was a smart man.  As a matter of fact, I tested a little low.  My IQ was listed as “dull normal” and borderline “mildly deficient”.    But this time my brain was working overtime.  This problem was so easy to solve, even I knew what to do.

“Well?” I blurted, “So you’ll report.  It’s an or …”

A humming blue blade stopped by throat, “Oh really,” Ascheya hissed, “And you think you’re man enough to take me there?”

Even though I had nearly pissed myself, I never saw her grab her blades, I grinned maliciously, “After we’re done with this mission, we’ll turn you in.  I can’t control if you … die … out in the field.”  I winked.  Wink, wink.

I’ve never been more afraid in my life.  Please know what I’m thinking, please get what I’m thinking, I pleaded inside my mind.

Her eyes were horrifying.  Black pits except for the gleaming violet rings of violent fury.  Lacking the white that most of us have in our eyes, Asheya’s glare was demonic and coupled with her fangs … terrifying.

Her long, pointed left ear … twitched.

“You’re … serious?” she mumbled, slowly lowering the tonfa-like weapon.

Oh yeah, I was supposed to breathe to stay alive.  Pushing out the air in my lungs I winked again, “Serious as a heart attack.  People die in field all the time.”

Hooking one dagger on her belt, she turned away, deep in thought.  She was deciding if she trusted me.  I could see her eyes darting back and forth as she studied each thought in her brain.

The blade snapped up so that it was just millimeters from my right eye, “You know what I can do to this base right?” she asked.  Her normally whispery voice was dripping with venom.

“I can’t say I do,” I responded, “I get the feeling I haven’t really seen everything you’re capable of.”

Looking down her arm at me, she lowered the blade again, “Remember what I said?” she asked.

“You ready soldier?” I responded.  She had said plenty of things, I had no idea what she was talking about.

Stepping past me, she stopped with her shoulder touching mine, “The fastest way to die on Charon is to fuck with me.”

To be continued …


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.


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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