Short Story – Clean Up

Surreal was the best word to describe what Brandon felt as he stood on the parapet overlooking the city below. Thunderstorm raged overhead in the late afternoon sky while massive amount of raindrops fell from the black colossal clouds, pulled and tugged by the strings of Earth gravity. The thunderous clapping of raindrops against the windows and concrete made him believe he was in a concert hall, right after the end of a show.

Like an eagle targeting its prey, he watched a particular group of people as they cross the road towards the opposite building—a church. He was on mission and planned it for months. If he fail to complete this mission, the repercussions would be disastrous.

The group of people looked like any other civilians on the street. In the heavy rain, visibility was low but it didn’t affect him as he was not a human being. He was something more. With his genetically enhanced eyes, he could still see his targets and make out the smallest detail that humans would require a telescope to see.

These people were armed to the teeth with automatic plasma-based weapons and were not of Earth either. They had been hiding amongst the humans, waiting for the opportunity to strike. Their main goal was the destruction of all religions and had been roaming around the galaxy, seeking out religious group to mount attacks against them.

It was not the first time Brandon had crossed path with them and this time, he hoped to put a stop to this menace.

As soon as the group arrived at the church gate, he leapt off the parapet. His feet touched ground seconds later and was not injured despite the height of at least six stories. His landing was softened by his use of telekinesis. Even without that ability, his bones were dense and tough enough to withstand the impact energy from a fall at this height with ease. His rapid healing could also fix any organic damages incurred without any issue.

On the surface, he looked like any other fifteen-year-old but his actual age was at least three times that amount. He stood no taller than sixty-seven inches and was of average build at best. His blemishless, boyish face allowed him to sneak through most places with ease and could get near to his target with without raising an alarm. Everyone believed, on first sight, he was just another child until he attacked at the least expected moment.

Brandon wore a simple black cargo pants, a hooded black jacket with white tees and a pair of canvas shoes. It was his favorite dress code and he never goes anywhere without his hooded jacket.

Though drenched, he never felt cold as his body automatically produced more heat to compensate. Brandon stuffed his hands into the side pockets of his pants with the hood over his head. He walked briskly towards the church while ignoring the stares people gave as they carried umbrellas and hurried across the street. They thought he was one of those spoilt children walking in the rain.

His targeted group entered the church. Brisk walk broke into a sprint as he knew he had only minutes before everyone in the church ended up dead. And It was Sunday. The amount of causalities would be unthinkable.

When Brandon reached the church gates, he rolled up the sleeves of his jacket, revealing two unique armlet-like devices on both of his forearms. They were of different sizes and the one on the left had some blinking lights along the edge.

“Eva, fabricate sword and pistol and switch to battle order 3,” Brandon spoke without specifically looking at anything. Eva was the Artificial Intelligence residing in the devices on Brandon’s left arm.

“Acknowledged. Beginning fabrication. Battle order 3 initiated.”

He yanked the door open. As he stepped through the entrance, a twenty-two inches sword materialized in his left hand. The edges of the sword’s blade glowed with baleful yellow. The sword was made of materials alien to Earth and was extremely durable, able to withstand a direct nuclear blast and light to carry.

Brandon walked in and shouted, “Your attacks on religions end today!”

The group turned around simultaneously. Their faces were hideously disfigured but they had hoods on, preventing the public from having any actual glimpses.

One of them said with a low booming voice, “Ah, a Perfect Child. Even with all your powers, weapons and technology, we will succeed today. Earth will understand that religion is illegal.”

Brandon was never given the chance to response when suddenly; he felt the air behind him changed in pressure. As a Perfect Child, Brandon’s reaction time and senses were at least six times faster than a human being. He knew danger was coming and he sidestepped to see a large battleaxe landed on the floor near his foot. The impact cracked the concrete floor.

He glanced to the side to see a large burly man holding on to the axe. The man had been hiding in the small landing above the main door all the while, and Brandon’s mind immediately sounded alarm. The group had known all along that he would come. So they set up the ambush to kill him first.

A large pistol operating on the principles of electro-magnetism appeared in Brandon’s right hand. Brandon spun, bring his pistol up to shoulder level and he squeezed the trigger. A loud crack echoed as a heavy slug burst out of the barrel at speeds exceeding four times that of sound. The slug slammed into the man’s chest, punching through and exited through the back, severing the spinal column in the process. Blood spewed out of the holes on both side and the man dropped to the ground dead.

However, before the man hit the ground, Brandon had thrown out his sword at the group like it was a shuriken. By then, the congregation had broken up, screaming and cowering in fear from the gunshot. The first two men dodged out of the way but the sword struck and severe two other men’s head. Their neck stump spurted blood as the body dropped to the ground. The sword continued spinning until it was brought down by gravity. It impaled itself against the concrete floor.

Four more men remaining and they pulled out their plasma-based weapons. They aimed their weapons at Brandon and squeezed the triggers. Hot bluish plasma balls flew out of the barrels at high speed but Brandon dodged the shots. The balls struck the door and burned through it, starting a fire.

Brandon jumped onto the benches and gestured with his left hand. Brandon telekinetically pulled the sword out and threw it at the next available target while aiming his pistol at a target on the corridor above him. He fired the pistol just as the sword penetrated through the enemy’s torso and cutting the heart into half. The bullet found the target in the head and splattered brain matter all over. The target was dead before he dropped to the ground with a thud.

All the while, the enemy plasma shots continued to miss Brandon as he leapt from bench to bench, performing his self-created style of gun-sword play. Within minutes, the battle ended and all his target were terminated.

Brandon lingered around for a few minutes when he heard the police sirens. Even against the heavy rain, the sirens were distinct and clear. Someone had called the police. Brandon, not wanting any trouble, disappeared in a blue flash of light, leaving behind the frighten congregation and dead alien bodies.

P.S.: I wrote the initial draft of the story back in 2009 and only found it yesterday. I decided to edit parts of the story to make it read better but I made sure I keep the core of the story.

The Struggle

Warning: This short story is rated R21. It features highly controversial sexual content. Please do not proceed any further if you find such content offensive.

Quinton grabbed the gun underneath his pillow and shove it into the holster hanging by his bed the moment the earpiece in his ear crackled to life with a voice saying, “You got company.”

He had only slept a couple of hours and been relying on his adrenaline to get through his day. He didn’t even change out of his t-shirt and jogger pants from yesterday. He sprung away from his bed, put on the holster around his waist and tumbled towards the safe opposite his bed as though someone gave him a hard push. He knew his enemies had found him and had to get out fast. He punched in the codes to the safe and got the package out. It contained everything he needed to survive until he could get out of the city.

“Quinton, the enemy is two minutes away. They are coming up the stairs,” the slightly high-pitched voice on the earpiece spoke.

“I’m going,” he huffed as he went out to the living room to get his getaway bag. It was a large black backpack leaning against the couch in the living room he prepared several nights before. He chugged the package into a secure compartment of his bag and slung the bag over his shoulders, put on his favorite pair of black trainers, and made his way to the kitchen on his right where he could get out via the fire escape.

He opened the backdoor and made his way down the stairs to the seventh floor when he heard shouting and loud footsteps from below him. He looked over the railing to see four men in black suits coming up with their weapons out.

‘Shit!’ he thought. He did a quick study of his surroundings and decided to go through his neighbor’s apartment. He went over to the backdoor to his neighbor’s and shot off the locks. Plasma bolt leaving the barrel of the gun emitted only whistling sound but upon impact with something solid, it exploded with a loud boom as the air around the target expanded at speed of sound caused by intense heating. That boom caught the attention of both his neighbor and those men in suits below.

Quinton went through the door and beelined for living room. His neighbor, a man in his fifties, came rushing out from his bedroom still dressed in his pajamas armed with a shotgun. He almost fired his gun when he recognized Quinton and took his finger off the trigger.

“What the hell are you doing, Quinton?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Hansel. The fire escape is blocked by government agents who want me dead.”

“Go! I will hold them off.”

“Thanks for the offer but please don’t risk your life for me. Find yourself a place to hide.”

“Blah! Go now. I got this!”

Quinton felt guilty for getting Mr. Hansel into trouble, possibly killed. He was like a father he never had during the short time he stayed at this apartment block. But he knew he had to get to the safe house his boyfriend had setup outside of the city before the local government locked down the city. He also knew he won’t survive in a drawn out fight with those government agents as he just didn’t have the necessary equipments and weapons with him.

He ran towards the main door, unlocked it and went out to the long poorly lit corridor. He ran as fast as he could to the stairwell.

***

Mr. Hansel went over to the cabinet near the kitchen entrance with a limp due to a knee injury he suffered when he was working in the police force. He took out a box of gunpowder-based shotgun shells from one of the drawers. He brought the box of shells and his shotgun to kitchen. He took up position behind the kitchen island, which had a reinforced concrete core, tough enough to withstand blasts from plasma guns. From here, he had a direct line of sight to the backdoor. He poured the shells out on the marble top of the island and loaded up his shotgun. The shotgun could hold twelve rounds, six in the chamber and six in the holder along the barrel. The rest of the shells remained scattered on the top.

He waited until he heard footsteps outside his kitchen and took aim at the door, which was now shut. The moment the door swung open and an agent in black suit appeared, he fired. The buckshot round blew a hole in the man’s torso and sending him tumbling backwards. Mr. Hansel fired again when he saw the edge of plasma gun by the door frame. This time he aimed his shot at the wall near the frame. The armor piercing slug went through the wall like it wasn’t there and struck whoever was standing behind it. The agent dropped to the ground grimacing from the bloody hole in his torso. Another shot from the shotgun shredded the head, killing the man.

The third agent poked his gun around the doorframe while Mr. Hansel was pumping another round into the chamber and started firing blindly. He dropped to the ground as fast as he could and that was when he heard the window in his living room shattered followed by heavy footsteps. He was also aware that the enemy was through the backdoor. While hiding behind the island, he poked his shotgun around the corner and fired. The round blew out the target’s legs, causing him to fall. A quick follow up shot blew out the head, sending brain matter flying everywhere.

Mr. Hansel was fast despite his age and old injury that didn’t quite heal. He was up and loading his shotgun as he moved into the living room to find two agents in tactical suits in the living room. He caught one of them off guard. A quick aim and a squeeze of the trigger sent the target falling to the ground with a yelp. The other agent spun around while another round was being loaded into the chamber and fired off a burst of plasma bolts that struck Mr. Hansel in the left arm and shoulder. But that didn’t stop him from firing off another round from his shotgun at the enemy. The high-velocity slug tore a hole through the body armor and shredded the internal organs. The target went down but not before firing another burst of plasma bolts. Those bolts struck Mr. Hansel on the right side of his chest and created a gaping hole one could see through. Despite the hole, there was no bleeding as the wound site was cauterized by hot plasma.

Mr. Hansel crumpled to the ground in pain, landing on his side. He could barely breathe and his body was in deep shock from the traumatic wound. Several more agents came storming in through the backdoor and began fanning out to sweep the apartment for more threats. One of the agent dressed in tactical suit stood beside him and flipped him over onto his back. Seeing he was still alive, the agent called out, “Sir, we got a live one.”

One of the agent in black suit came over. He had a scar that ran down the left side of his aging face. The eyes looked as though they had seen enough death and suffering.

The agent stood over Mr. Hansel and looked at him with a straight face.

“Where’s Quinton?”

“Screw you,” Mr. Hansel cursed with all his might.

The agent pressed his feet against the arm wound causing Mr. Hansel to yelp in pain, “I’m not going to ask again.”

“I’m not going to tell you anything.”

Without hesitation, the agent pulled out his gun and shot Mr. Hansel in the face.

***

Just as Quinton ran down the stairs, he could hear the sound of gunfire. He knew Mr. Hansel won’t survive that encounter and tears did roll down his face. Mr. Hansel served as a fatherly figure to him since he was seventeen and had gotten him out of trouble so many times that he lost count. They lost touch with each other when Quinton was twenty-six, having gone away on a two-year mission to hunt down his mother’s killer.

During those two years, Quinton discovered his mother, Shirley, was working on serum that could potentially extend a person’s life indefinitely and vastly expand their immune system to handle all kinds of diseases and illnesses. Soon, she found out the government wanted to use it to extend the lives of selected few while weaponizing it to kill anyone whom they deemed unworthy to live. Not wanting to be part of a genocide, his mother hid the formula to the serum and one working sample away, before destroying all records of it. She managed to stay in hiding for three years while building up a network of spies and safe houses. She also recruited people to sabotage any attempts by the government to reverse engineer that serum. But it didn’t take long before the government found her and had her killed by an assassin.

Quinton came back just a day before he turned twenty-nine and have been staying at this apartment building ever since. He managed to find and kill the person responsible. He also hunted down Lance, the assassin sent after Shirley. It turned out Lance wasn’t the one who killed her. On the contrary, he protected Shirley till the end after he realized the truth. Shirley was killed during a shootout when government agents caught up with them. After that, the assassin took over the organization Shirley created and militarized it to resist the government, which had grown increasingly authoritarian.

Four government agents were coming up the stairs when they saw Quinton on the stair landing between fourth and fifth floor. But before they could fire their weapons, he shot and killed two of them forcing the rest to retreat. He used the chance to run back up to the fifth floor and made his way to the other set of stairwell on the other side of the building.

As he was running through the decrepit and poorly lit corridor, his earpiece crackled to life once again, “Where are you? I’m on my way to your apartment to get you.”

He recognized that voice all too well and became exasperated with hints of worry, “What? I told you not to come. It’s too dangerous.”

“I know you are worried. So am I. Tell me where you are now.”

“I’m making my way to the east side of the building and I got a bunch of government agents on my tail.”

“Got it. Just hurry up.”

Quinton ran as fast as his slim legs could take him and was almost at the stairwell entrance when the walls around him started exploding from plasma bolts striking them. He pulled open the door and burst through to see two agents coming up the stairs. He had a faster reflex and shot them in the heads, leaving behind two semi-circle holes above their mouths. They were already dead before their bodies hit the floor.

He sprang down the stairs and killed two more agents who were coming up. As soon as he reached the ground floor, he opened the door leading to the alleyway and stepped out. The sound of tyres screeching to his right caught his attention. It was a large black SUV and the bright headlights prevented him from seeing who was the driver.

Quinton stepped back as the SUV came to a halt in front of him, just inches away from knocking him down. A head popped out from the side window and a familiar voice called out, “Get in!”

He got up, scrambled for the passenger side of the SUV and got in. Before he could fasten the seat belt, the SUV sped off. Two agents tried to stop them but the vehicle had been modified to withstand plasma blast. It steamrolled over the two agents and sped away on the highway.

“Thanks love,” Quinton smiled as he looked at Lance.

“You’re welcome.”

“How are we getting out of the city?”

“Highway 15. The mayor just declared martial law and locked down the exits but we got some of the guards on our payroll. We should be able to go through without much problem.”

Throughout the twenty minutes drive through the city, the SUV rotated its license plate and changed its color a few times to evade the authorities. Going through the checkpoint on Highway 15 proved to be a breeze. They had each put on a holographic projector around their neck that artificially changed their appearance. The guards waved them through after doing a brief verification of their identities.

They were out of the city and driving along the highway for the next one hour before coming upon an unpaved road leading into the forest. Lance turned the SUV in, continued to drive for another fifteen minutes and stopped just in front of a tree. Both of them got out of the vehicle and made their way to the entrance of their underground bunker on foot.

The entrance to the bunker was protected by a blast door capable of surviving a direct nuclear strike and was well hidden by a series of holographic projectors that gave the illusion of a thick undergrowth. If one wasn’t looking close enough, they could easily missed it. As soon as Lance and Quinton stepped through the projections, they could see the blast door.

Lance entered his passcode on the keypad and they both waited. After hearing a beep, the wheel crank began turning until a thud. The blast door gently swung open. They stepped through the entrance and went down the stairs into the bunker proper.

They made their way through the winding corridor until they reached the primary living quarters where most of the bunker’s personnel had gathered, pending a briefing by senior leadership.

Quinton decided to retreat to Lance’s room as he was exhausted from all the running and fighting to survive while Lance got down to business and briefed everyone on the situation and what’s next.

Highly controversial content below. This is your last warning. If you proceed to read, it means you have accepted the following content.

Continue reading “The Struggle”

The Victorious

Author’s Note: This story was submitted previously for Golden Point Award 2011 but never manage to win anything.

Every hour, turquoise-green inverted funnel-like pseudo-structures would appear in space, fifty thousand kilometers from Earth. It was the tearing of space during the opening of a hyperspace window. In the third millennium, such was a common sight. If anyone were to peer in closely through the hole at the center of the structure, past the fury display of ultra-hot multi-colored plasma streaks, they would see a massive tunnel enclosed within a cylindrical pure opalescent blue wall with sliver of white streaks running along the surface. A dark speck could be seen in the middle within seconds of the opening of such window. As soon as one would open his mouth and say ‘A’, the dark speck within would be thrown out at high-hypersonic speeds before the window closed in a dwindling display of whitish-blue light before dissipating into nothingness. Upon materialization in real-space in fractions of a second, this dark speck would grow into spaceships. They came in a variety, ranging from ovoid shapes of fifty meters long to the mammoth oblong rectangles of a kilometer long, five hundred meters tall and forty deep.

One such window opened one-point-four-five million kilometers from Earth, just a short distance from Lagrangian point 1. This window was slightly larger than the average and was of a slightly darker turquoise-emerald color. A short time later, a massive oblong rectangular, almost trapezoid, object shot through the window. The object was a massive ship of nearly one-point-five kilometers long with dark, radar-absorbing paint on its hull. Along the lower section of the hull, almost at the mid-point of the ship’s length, were words painted in white: Victorious, Behemoth-class. White ionized flames shot out of the hundreds of maneuvering thrusters situated along Victorious’s hull while the sixteen rear cone-shaped thrusters reduced their output of ionized flames. A short time later, Victorious came to a complete halt.

The Victorious was the Terran Federation’s premier battleship. As its christened name suggested, it always emerged victorious in any battle it was engaged in. Its tens of missile pods, zero-point energy cannons and MacroLaser turrets would ensure of that. Its Cyclonic-Slapper shield and point-defense systems would ensure no enemy weapons even get close enough to damage the ultra-thick superstructure. Powered by six zero-point engines with four more in reserve, the Victorious’s sublight speed could hit point-six that of light speed and was the fastest battleship known in this sector of space. Its six oversized hyperspace drive cores provided the Victorious the ability to travel hundreds of light years in a single opening of the hyperspace window; most ships would have to drop out of hyperspace after every one hundred light years to ensure their hyperspace drive cores don’t overheat and suffered irreparable damage. Most enemy commanders who encountered the Victorious in the field would initiate a full retreat. Stubborn enough commanders who chose to fight usually never saw the light of the next day again. The ships belonging to these commanders would be obliterated till there weren’t any parts left to salvage or return home.
Due to its legendary status, even with Terran Federation’s military, everyone thought that the captain was some old man with a massive wealth of combat experience. Adding to the mystery was that no one ever saw the true face of the captain, except for Victorious’s seven hundred crewmembers and some of the top officials in the government who kept the Victorious captain’s identity a state secret. Little did they know that at the helm was in fact an eighteen-year-old named Brandon Barrowsky, the Terran Federation President’s second son.

Brandon was standing by the window of the recreational deck when Victorious dropped out of hyperspace, staring out at the vast space. Space around was mostly black with the exception of the light from the Sun and the trade ships that shuttled hundreds of tons of goods between the thousands of colonized worlds of the Terran Federation. If Brandon was looking out for any ship around Victorious, he would find none. There were no other ships within two hundred kilometers of Victorious as many feared it. But that doesn’t mean that it was all alone in this universe. There were many other military ships of similar sizes and equally powerful but none were within range. Most of them were docked at the military outpost. The outpost was a two hundred kilometer wide at its center, a hundred kilometers tall and fifty kilometers structure in a geosynchronous orbit around Earth, servicing countless number of military ships, ranging from resupplies to repairs.

He turned his head gently when he heard footsteps approaching from behind. Once Brandon’s eyes registered who the person was, he recognized the person immediately. The person was a teenager about his age, about the same height as he was at five-foot-seven, with skinny long arms and a handsome, boyish face and dirty blond hair. Every facial feature on the face was placed apart at an optimal distance. He was in fact Brandon’s older twin brother, Jayden.

“Hey, lil’ bro!” Jayden greeted as he raised his hand.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” Brandon asked with a slight irritation in his voice before he turned his attention to the vast black space again.

“Just checking on you. You seemed a little off the whole week.” Jayden said as he approached closer, standing beside Brandon. “Do you want to tell me what’s wrong or do I have to pry it out your head?”

“I’m alright. I just miss home that’s all. I miss the meals that we have together as a family with mom and dad. I’m tired too.”
“Oh, I know how you feel. I’m feeling exactly the same way but—“

Brandon interrupted before Jayden could finish his sentence, “I know we are twins but there’s this difference. I don’t handle such situation with such coolness.”

Jayden bit his lips together and his eyes went shifty. He was suddenly embarrassed by the fact he had to be reminded that his twin brother had this slight difference. He went closer and hugged his brother as he always did whenever his brother was feeling down. And it usually cheered Brandon up. So this time wasn’t any different.

Then the communication devices which hung by their ears began beeping. The communication device was a two centimeter oblong black rectangle a hook at one end, which was used to hook securely to the ear. The two brothers tapped the small button on their respective devices and blue translucent holographic strips appeared in front of their eyes. A turquoise sine wave appeared in each of the strip, signaling that this was a voice-only communication.

“What is it?” the brothers asked in unison.

“Captain Barrowskies, the Chief Admiral is ready to receive,” a husky voice said on the other end. The twins recognized the voice immediately for it belonged to the Chief Communication Officer of the Victorious, a thirty-five-year-old man, Lieutenant John Caviar, who served on the Victorious for the whole of his military life.

“Roger that,” the brothers replied in unison. “Transport us down.”

“Activating Transportation Beam,” John replied.

A few seconds later, the fabric of space-time around each of the twins began to loop onto itself, slowing down time drastically. Objects began to blueshift as photons’ wavelength began to decrease. A small fraction of a second later, they soon found themselves encased in an opalescent ovoid, almost diamond-like exotic energy lattice. It resembled a bird cage made out of pure blue energy. Occasionally, milky-white streaks of energy surged through the empty spaces between the skinny poles of the lattice. Then each pole rapidly widen, merging with its neighbors. And when it was over, each of the twins found himself in a solid and opaque ovoid, almost diamond-like case with opalescent surfaces, which soon rapidly took on darker shades of blue until they became black. It all happened within a second. At quantum level, the wave function which represented the physical location of each of the twins’ quantum lattice—which itself represented all the molecules and their quantum states that defined each person—was transposed. The transposition of the wave function resulted in the swapping of the object’s physical location in real space. When the location swap completed, the process reversed. That was when the twins found themselves in a brown octagonal, tubular room.

The twins didn’t need to study the room as they knew where they were: The Federation Central Fleet Command Transport/Receiver Room. It was where all the transportation of personnel and receiving incoming transportation took place if one was to meet the Chief Admiral of the Federal Space Navy. They were standing on a raised white hexagon platform with three-step stairs protruding out from the middle of each side. Overhead, the polylight strips gave the room a warm white glow and with the white walls, the room took on an ultra modern look. Two Federal military soldiers, dressed in their dark and dull combat exosuits, stood guard by the side of the arch doorway with their gauss automatic carbines pointed at the ceiling and their facial expressions didn’t seemed to reveal anything. They were all straight faced however at the sight of any threat appearing on the transportation platform, they would spring into action without hesitation. The soldiers posted to this facility were of the best from wherever they came from. These soldiers were also further given the Federation’s best genetic modifications therapy to further boost their already superior reaction time, combat abilities, healing and regeneration, and strength prior to their postings. Unlike conventional soldiers, these soldiers were trained to deflect any attempts at telepathic influence or attack. Even the most powerful telepaths on this side of the galaxy could only maintain up to four telepathic influential connections to these soldiers. And that was with extremely intense mental concentration. After thirty minutes, the telepath would either burn out or die from excessive brain hemorrhage.

The twins stepped down from the platform and that was when a man dressed in the Federal Navy’s standard blue uniform came in and greeted them. Genetic modification allowed the man to stay in his late thirties and maintain a slim profile, hiding the actual age of late sixties. His hair had no trace of any whites or grays and was cut to the standard military length. There too weren’t any wrinkles and he was still as suave as the twins remembered during their childhood. He was Rear Admiral Joseph Adam, the Personal Assistant to the Chief Admiral. Despite the title, Personal Assistant, sounded like some secretary of a company, it was in fact a high-ranking military position that deserved respect due to the office he was in. And not just anyone could simply be the Chief Admiral’s Personal Assistant as it would require someone with years of experience and a colonel-equivalent rank or higher. The trio exchanged hugs which were uncommon within the Federal Navy. But because of the twins’ age, the adults always treated them as little kids. In Joseph’s case, he had always been a fatherly figure to the twins especially now that their biological father was always so busy with politics. So in this case, the hugs were more on the personal level. However that didn’t mean there was no mutual respect when it came to official business. Of course, the twins didn’t blame their father for not being around most of the time. They understood completely what his job entailed.

“Admiral Adam, what are you doing here?” Jayden asked, mildly surprised at Admiral Adam’s presence.

“I’ve got some free time and would like to enjoy a conversation as we walk through the corridors,” Joseph replied with a big smile on his face. He gestured to the doorway he just came through earlier with his hand, and the twins went through first with Joseph trailing behind. Upon exiting the doorway, they were walking along the long L-shaped corridor which led to several rooms with arch doors. A large oblong rectangle window took up much of the wall at the far end of the corridor—just before the bend—offering a grand view of the vast metropolitan below. At the end of the bend was the Chief Admiral’s office. As the trio walked, there was total silence and the twins’ walking pace ensured that they were a couple of inches ahead of Joseph. Sensing something was wrong, Joseph picked up his pace and placed his arms on the twins’ shoulders as he walked in between them, “So how have you boys been?”

“We are fine,” Brandon replied quickly, hoping to prevent his brother from divulging what he had been feeling for the past few days. Jayden glared at his brother before looking up at Joseph, who was at least four inches taller than them, “I’m fine but Brandon is not. He’s been feeling down for the past few days onboard the Victorious.”

“No, that’s a lie,” Brandon protested.

“Now, now, boys, be honest.”

“It’s nothing. I’m just exhausted from everything. I just wanna take a break,” Brandon replied. There were tones of sadness and tiredness.

Joseph ruffled the hair on the back of the twins’ heads, “Well, after this, the both of you can go on a long holiday. I believe the crew of the Victorious does deserve some shore leaves, especially after the past few successful missions against the Valsek Empire.”

The twins simply eased into a smile, “Really?”

“Yes, my personal promise. I’ll let the Chief Admiral know.”

For the next five minutes as they went winded through the corridor, they chatted about what had happened so far, sharing some of their experiences. They even had talks on what they thought about the Valsek Empire which brought up a well of emotions that were bottled up within the twins. Their mother was killed during a battle with the Valsek Empire’s legendary Fourth Fleet over two H-congruous planets in the Forhorn System. That was three years ago but the pain was still there. It was also the time when their father decided to leave the military as he was particularly angry at the bureaucrats for requesting the Victorious to focus on small time pirates instead of the actual threat. So their father went on to bid for the president.

The Valsek Empire was a thousand star system wide civilization consisted of mostly silicon-based life form, known as Valsekies, and had been fighting against the Terran Federation since their first contact four hundred years ago. It wasn’t a war over resources but rather because they were simply different life forms. Both sides simply fought out of fear of each other. Countless billions suffered bodyloss, even more suffered crippling wounds and there were millions actual deaths. The bodylosses and the wounds were nothing. Those that suffered bodylosses could easily have their consciousness and memories transferred to re-cloned bodies. Those who suffered missing limps or organs could have parts replaced with lab-grown versions which were derived from the person’s stem cells. But for the twins’ mother, she didn’t want to have anything to do with cloning. She believed that a person should only have one original body. So she didn’t have any consciousness and memory backup. But sometimes, the twins wished that their mother weren’t so stubborn and went for the backup procedure. Now nothing could bring her back. The only satisfying thing that brought some form of comfort to the twins’ emotional roller-coasters was their father’s policy on the Valsek Empire. With their father at the helm, the Terran Federation had been extremely successful in their battles. There were also times when the Terran Federation military brought the fight to the Valsekies, colonizing some of their planets in the process.

Before they knew it, they were standing just outside the large rectangular metal sliding door leading to the Chief Admiral’s office. Joseph stepped forward and slide his hand over the biometric scanner located to the right of the door. The door slid open with a hissing sound as hydraulics did their work and beyond the door was a massive oblong rectangle office that was partitioned into two sections. The first section contains the main office area for administrative staffs and the cubicles housing these staffs were arranged in a grid manner. Behind all that was a medium size room which was the Chief Admiral’s office. There were no windows of any sort in the room. Overhead, polylight strips arranged in a grid manner provided the warm and lighting needed.
Joseph led the twins through the main office area. Some of the staffs greeted them warmly while some ignored their presence and were engrossed in their work. Translucent and large blue holographic screens continuously changed their display contents as fingers danced away at the holographic keyboards of various colors. Before long, they were standing at the Chief Admiral’s oak door and Joseph gave it a light knock. The Chief Admiral answered almost immediately, “Come on in.”

Joseph opened the door and went in first with the twins following behind. The office was yet another oblong rectangle with sparse furniture scattered around. It was much spacious than they initially thought when they saw the way the walls partitioned. There were some natural plants and even a few cacti at the corners of the room. A large brown oak-analogue desk was in the middle with a large holographic screen and keyboard. The Chief Admiral was seated behind the desk, busy typing away at the keyboard when they walked in. There was a sense of trepidation as they were after all in one of the Federation’s most respected office. They walked towards the desk slowly as if they were kids about to be reprimanded. They stopped just a couple of inches behind the three chairs which were placed in a row, in front of the desk. The trio straightened up, saluting and greeted, “Sir.”

The Chief Admiral looked up and his fingers stopped typing. He was in his late nineties but had the appearance of someone in his mid-fifties without the wrinkles and fats. He was a handsome man with brown eyes, an average-sized nose and curly brown hair that was cut to military standard. If he had stood up, he would be at least two inches taller than Joseph and was of a muscular build. The Chief Admiral was also a person who followed strict exercise regime and only eat just enough to fulfill his daily calorie needs. His exercise regime allowed him to be the fittest in this whole office. Unlike most terrans who received gene therapy only after their tenth birthday, the Chief Admiral was a designer child. His genes were tuned towards perfection while he was just an embryo, making him vastly more intelligent than most. He was also much tougher and had rapid regeneration ability. He was also one of the most powerful telepath, almost rivaling the twins. The twins, being fellow designer children, were officially recognized as the Federation’s most powerful human beings alive at the age of fifteen.
The Chief Admiral returned the salute before gesturing with his hand at the chairs.

“Gentleman, please take a seat.”

The trio took their seats and stared intently at the Chief Admiral, waiting with anticipation. Four days ago, Brandon and Jayden with the help of the Victorious and the Federal Intelligence Services located the Valsek Empire’s Fourth Fleet and their next destination. The twins had always wanted revenge on the Fourth Fleet and had in fact spent considerable resources tracking their target’s movements. It was determined that the Fourth Fleet would make a stop at the Caridous System where the enemy had a small refueling outpost. Little did the enemy know the Federation had a small fleet of frigates in the system for a scouting mission; so the frigates were notified of the incoming enemy fleet and they went into hiding within the atmosphere of a gas giant known as GB-X9042 and using the gas giant’s powerful magnetosphere to scramble enemy scanners. That group of frigates had since been reporting back any findings they made. Two days ago, they reported that the Fourth Fleet had arrived and begun their resupply mission. As of two hours ago, the Fourth Fleet was still there. So Brandon and Jayden submitted a mission plan and a request to go after the Fourth Fleet an hour ago. It was a golden opportunity. Not only would the destruction of the Fourth fleet help bring on a sense of payback, it would also help the Federation Navy in general. Without the Fourth Fleet, the Valsek Empire’s Navy would be vastly crippled. For some reason, instead of letting the twins know of his stance on the mission over the Navy TransCOMNET, the Chief Admiral had requested the twins meet him in person. So now, here they are sitting in his office.

“Well, I’ve read through the mission plan and all. The amount of resources devoted to this operation is tremendous even by our standard. And what if the operation fail? We would lose a lot of men and ships—”

“But Sir, it’s the Fourth Fleet. If we don’t deal with them now, they would still be threatening all our future operations—” Jayden said, interrupting the Chief Admiral only to be interrupted himself when the Chief Admiral raised his hand, palm facing them.

“Let me finish, Captain. I didn’t say no to the operation. I asked you to come here personally because of two things. First, I want you two to be able to look me in the eyes and tell me you can do it,” the Chief Admiral said, his voice was still calm. If it was any other senior officers, they would have raised their voice in respond to Jayden’s interruption.
The twins simply looked straight, their faces devoid of any emotions. The air around them began to fill with their confidence, “Yes sir. We can do this.”

“Good. Second, I had made some changes to the battle plan to make it better and stored it in this data disk. I don’t want to pass it to you over the communication network for there might be spies,” the Chief Admiral said as he waved a yellowish, oblong rectangle disk in the air. “Next, I want you to take the Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Armada for this mission. They are currently the most combat ready with their full complement of three hundred ships each and all crew positions filled. They are already in position alongside the Victorious. Wipe out the enemy. I want nothing of them left. That’s all.”

Smiles began to form on the twins’ faces but Joseph was still frowning at the idea. He knew about the mission but due to the nature of the Fourth Fleet for they had not lost a single battle even against overwhelming odds, Joseph feared for the safety of the two kids and Victorious. Till now, the Victorious had been their trump card against any enemy forces and if they lose the ship, it might just spell the end of the Federation Navy. But if they won, it would seriously put a major dent in Valsek Empire’s ability to conduct future operations.
“Thank you, Sir. We shall now get ready,” Jayden replied as he grabbed the data disk.
The Chief Admiral nodded, “Good hunting and good luck.”

The trio stood up and saluted which was returned. Then the trio spun around and went out of the office, heading back to the transportation room. On the way there, they didn’t speak much. The twins were still feeling elated and Joseph didn’t feel there was a need to spoil the mood despite how much he was against the mission. Unable to control his emotions, he started pouring out his dread into the surrounding and the twins’ telepathies picked it up. The twins stopped dead in their tracks, forcing Joseph to stop too.

“Admiral Adam, what’s the matter?” Brandon asked as he turned around to face Joseph. Jayden had also turned to face Joseph which made him blushed.

“Er . . . I’m just worried about you boys going out on this mission. It’s extremely dangerous. What if you boys don’t make it back? How the hell am I going to answer to your father?”

“Admiral Adam, don’t worry about us. We will make sure we come back alive. Don’t forget that we still need that break of ours and you promised us,” Brandon said with a smile.
“And the best thing you could do for us is to pray for us though we know there’s no such thing as God. Three thousand years of science had proven that much. Well, whatever it is, let’s just hope that the enemy has no reinforcement. Maybe you could help us along that line,” Jayden added and his facial expression had turned serious.

“I’ll do what I can. Just be careful. When you boys come back, the break will be waiting for you. Just make sure you boys are still alive to use it. Death is definitely not my idea of a holiday break.”

“Ha, we agree. And for insurance sake, we went for a consciousness backup procedure just before we came down here. Those memories of ours are currently en route to the re-cloning facility as we speak. There are of course multiple copies.”

Joseph nodded his head and smile. He gave them a hug each before they proceeded on to the transportation room. The twins got up to the platform and bid their goodbyes. Then Jayden opened a channel to the Victorious with his communication device, “Victorious, we are ready to transport.”

The next thing the twins saw was the familiar sight of the Victorious’s arrow-shaped bridge. At the front of the bridge was the one piece window that offered a view out. Scattered around the bridge in a petal-pattern were computer consoles which the six bridge crewmembers would use for communication, weapon control, shields and many other things critical to the operation of the ship. Hanging overhead was the large central holographic screen which the bridge crew would use to display any important information.
John was standing beside the twins when they appeared on the bridge. Jayden turned to look at him and handed the data disk to him, “it contains the newly updated battle plan. Communicate it to Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Armada. They are joining us in this mission.”
John grabbed the data disk, “Yes sir.” John immediately ran over to this console, plugged in the data disk and started transferring the information to the three armadas via the secure Navy ExoCOMNET. Once all the armada commanders acknowledged they received the battle plan, Brandon opened a secure communication channel to the three armadas from his command post. Jayden meanwhile had the crew ready as soon as the go code was given.

“Attention all commanders! I believe you had received the latest battle plan. So we will operate in accordance to the plan but if the situation calls for it, we will adapt to any changes. We shall not fail in this mission. The operation will commence on my mark,” Brandon said before he paused to scan across the bridge. Every one of them was looking at him full of anticipation. “Mark!”

At that instant, hyperspace windows opened in space in front of the six hundred and one ships. Seconds later, they were all pulled in by the vast gravitation field generated by the windows.

*

Several hours later, the six hundred and one ships dropped out from hyperspace just two hundred and ten kilometers from the system’s third gas giant. It was twice the size of Jupiter with thick, various blue and white bands of methane gas swirling around the planet at hundreds of kilometers an hour. The same gas giant was home to the Valsek outpost and the three hundred strong Fourth Fleet was in an elliptical orbit around it.

Even as they travelled through hyperspace, the federation ships received constant updates from the hidden frigates. As a result, the six hundred and one ships were able to exit from hyperspace at the precise moment and distance with their weapons already powered up. The ships’ automated target acquisition systems immediately locked on to their targets.

Then the six hundred and one ships fired their weapons. The Valsekies didn’t even have time to react.

Blue laser and gamma beams shot towards their target at near light speeds. Enemy shields shimmered violently in the red and purple spectrum as they tried to deflect the ultra high-energy blasts, releasing ultra-hard radiation in the process. Following closely were quantum missiles with anti-hydrogen warheads. They streaked out of their pods towards their targets at hundreds of gees of acceleration as their ion thrusters shot sizzling hot iridescent ions which resembled miniature shooting stars when viewed from far. The enemy ships’ point defense systems shot out red lasers as their auto-defense system tried their best to take out the incoming missiles. Missiles that got through bypassed the enemy shields in an act similar to quantum tunneling. The missiles exploded within the space between the ships’ superstructures and the shields, blanketing the ships in series of massive scarlet explosions. The ships’ superstructures buckled under the intense explosions. When the explosions died down, spots of charred metal could be seen. The already battered enemy shields began to falter in a display of red and orange flickers. The final nail into the Fourth Fleet’s coffins came in the form of kinetic projectiles shot by the Federation’s zero-point cannons. These silent, relativistic projectiles destroyed their target through sheer kinetic energy and needed no explosives. As projectiles struck their target, energies on the order of several times that of the impact which killed the dinosaur were released. For that brief moment, local space lit up brighter than the parent star.

By the time the explosions died down, only space dust remained. With the mission over, all six hundred and one Federation ships jumped back to hyperspace and went home.

Short Story #1 – New Rising (Part 3)

The reflective drones flew back to wherever they came from. Now it was just Tar’Kari, and the flying machines in the chamber. There was no response of any kind from the machines. The only sound in the chamber was the buzzing generated by the machines as they flew around maintaining the humanoid shape, and footsteps from the people in the expedition group, now walking towards into the chamber.

Tar’Kari did what he knew, treating it like an animal in the wild, he took a step back in a bid to present himself as friendly. Most animals took kindly to that kind of behavior and would be more at ease.

“What are you?” he asked again, straining to maintain his composure.

The tiny machines that formed the mouth area started moving in a female voice, “Your behavior indicated that you think I’m an animal. I’m not. And I’m not a what. I’m a who. Semantics are important. I’m Narka, charge with protecting this place from all threats. So… you are Tar’Kari?” The tiny machines move forward in such a manner that made the humanoid looked like it was taking a step forward, studying him. “Are you sure you are not a threat?”

Swallowing a lump of saliva, Tar’Kari mumbled, “No.”

“Good. Scans indicate that you are a descendant of from someone before the Black Plague. I think you will be happy to be able to meet your great-great-great-great-grandfather after we start cloning him a body. For now, let’s wait for your friends to get down here and we will talk more.”

It didn’t take the members of the expedition to reach the chamber. While waiting, hundreds of drones were deployed and they went out across the planet surface and began their scanning process for lifeforms and potential threats. The results were sent back, correlated and studied extensively. The six expedition members showed visible signs of fear as soon as they reached the chamber when they saw the black humanoid. They wanted to run away. Tar’Kari did his best to assure them that it was safe and they stand their ground.

“Well, it does look like there are thriving communities of people around the planet and the threat is gone. People are still fighting amongst themselves over trivial things,” Narka said nonchalantly. “Anyway, you say you are here to find out more. What would you like to know?”

“You mentioned Black Plague. What do you mean?” Tar’Kari asked.

“Long story short, we were a space-faring civilization and lived on multiple worlds out in the seas of stars. During our exploration expeditions amongst the stars, we encountered what we call Black Plague. We brought some down to this world to study it. An accident happened. It got out and began to take over people’s mind, manipulate their behaviors, and changed them. Soon, we were fighting against these virtually indestructible humans and we lost. All data indicated there were no survivors.”

“What is this place then?”

“While those who could fight fought, the rest of us worked in complete secrecy to build these chambers. They are known as Recovery Vaults where our individual genetic information and minds, and all our combined knowledge are stored. We had hope to restart our civilization and contact our other worlds, assuming they are still out there.”

Tar’Kari couldn’t help but felt extremely excited at the prospect of having more knowledge from this ancient vault. It could benefit his tribe immensely. “Could you share with us more information so that we can bring it back to our tribe?”

“I could but I don’t want to. I want to meet your tribe leaders first.”

He wasn’t sure how his tribe leaders would feel about that. Even though he felt at ease with this thing, he still couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad might happen to his tribe. The others in the chamber were just looking at each other, unsure of what to do next.

Sensing his hesitation, “If I wanted to destroy your tribe, I would have already done that minutes ago. Either I meet with your tribe leaders or you can leave now and don’t come back. If I like what I see or feel about your tribe, I will share more information that would benefit them greatly.”

“Please allow us to discuss this amongst ourselves.”

“Go ahead. I’m not going anywhere.”

Tar’kari and the six expedition members moved away to discuss what to do next. But it didn’t matter that they were whispering. Narka could hear every thing they said. When they finally decided and came back, Narka pretended that she didn’t know anything.

“We will bring you to meet our tribe leaders.”

“Great. Give me a moment to get ready.” During the time they spent walking back with the answer, Narka already had the replicators within the vault clone a body for her stored mind. She also greatly augmented her body with nanites that would allow her to handle any threats, including the Black Plague, with ease. The last several centuries, the artificial intelligences of the vaults across the planet studied and understood everything there was to know about the black plague and that knowledge translated into knowing how to fight them effectively.

When the clone was ready, a circular hole appear in the structure. The humanoid retreated back into the structure and out came an actual female human, clothed in some kind of tight-fitting polymer-based material. In Tar’Kari’s eyes, she was the definition of a goddess with her slim physique, standing at least a head taller, with a completely smooth face and olive skin. Her hair was straight, soft, copper-brown, and ending just an inch below the shoulder.

“I’m good to go,” Narka said as she tried to bundle her hair into a ponytail.

Tar’Kari nodded, turned, and started walking. The rest followed. When they finally reached the main hall, he introduced Narka to the rest, casually omitting the fact that she was originally a machine. He wasn’t sure how the rest would react to that information. The fact that she was there, dressed so differently, taller than anyone already got people both awestruck and concerned.

During the trek back to the village, the cold didn’t affect Narka at all. She just kept going, stopping only when the whole group decided to take a break. She didn’t even eat or drink anything and when offered, she declined. There were moments when she’s alone, she would be in a daze. Unknown to the rest, she was spending most of her time accessing the network that connects the Recovery Vaults and conversing away with the various AIs with her Neural Link Clusters.

As soon as the group reached the village, at Narka’s behest, Tar’Kari led her straight to the tent where the leaders had gathered and they spent the next few hours talking. After the talks, she stepped out of the tent feeling strangely happy. She was able to achieve result. The leaders were very open-minded throughout the talks and more than willing to accept new information as presented. In exchange for sharing their knowledge about the world, the sciences, and everything, all Narka asked on behalf of the awoken stored minds and AIs was that the village provide them an area to setup homes for the cloned bodies hosting these stored minds.

As she was standing there, few meters away from the entrance of tribe leaders’ tent enjoying the snow with her eyes closed, one of the male tribe member approached her. As soon as the person was within five meters, she was alerted to the detection of Black Plague by the passive scanners built into her body.

“What?” she uttered as she swiftly turned to look at the approaching tribe member. “Stay wherever you are!”

“I…I just want…want to give you something,” the tribe member stammered, shocked at Narka’s sudden call.

“Just don’t come any closer. It’s your last warning.”

The tribe member didn’t heed the warning and took a step forward. Narka raised her left hand and fired off a blast of concussive energy, sending the tribe member flying backwards several meters and landed on his back. The blast caught the attention of the whole village and the tribe leaders all came rushing out.

The tribe member got up, seemingly unaffected by the blast, and grinned, “How did you know?”

Narka gritted her teeth and sent a general alert to the Recovery Vault network about the detection of Black Plague. She knew that people infected by Black Plague do not suffer from aging but didn’t expect them to be around anymore. Especially not after the AIs defeated the Black Plague and cleansed the planet eighty years after the last of the non-infected humans died out.

“I just do,” she responded and threw out a sphere-like device, which went into hover position above the Black Plague-infected tribe member, firing an invisible energy field that prevented him from moving a muscle. “We have learned a lot about your kind since our last encounter.” Simultaneously, Narka initiated a wide area scan and found comfort that this was the only Black Plague-infected person in the village.

More information started surfacing from the scans conducted by countless drones flying around the planet indicated that there were many more Black Plague-infected humans, mingling around unsuspecting humans. It became clear that the non-infected had to be protected and informed of the threat. Combat drones were deployed while the stored minds of those who could fight were given cloned but augmented bodies and sent out.

“What’s going on?” Tar’Kari asked as he approached Narka.

“You are looking at a Black Plague-infected person,” she replied still with her arm raised, pointing at the tribe member.

“He can’t be. He has been with us for nearly ten years. We found adopted him into our tribe after we found him wandering in the forest.

“Where did you find him?” Narka asked.

“In the forest further south of our village.”

That information was relayed to Recovery Vaults where the stored minds and AIs would make decision accordingly.

“I will show all of you what a Black Plague look like,” she said and fired highly-focused but powerful concussive energy blast at the host’s legs, destroying both and send a command to the drone hovering above to shutdown the energy field. The now legless host dropped to the snow-covered ground, landing on his stomach. There was no blood of any sort and before long, the stumps started regenerating. It didn’t take long for the legs to be fully regrown and he stood up, grinning evilly at Narka. The rest saw the whole thing and started gasping. They were truly afraid.

Without hesitation, Narka send a command to the drone and encasing the host in some kind of energy field. Not only does the energy field prevented the host body from moving, it also started melting the person by splitting molecular chains and stripping the atoms into their constituent parts, at a rate faster than the Black Plague could repair the body. It only took mere seconds for the whole process to complete and there was nothing left.

***

Over the next few days, Black Plague hosts were hunted down and destroyed. More resources were expended to look at every nook and cranny of the planet for traces of the Black Plague and there were none. All the stored minds were downloaded and put in respective cloned bodies. The cloned individuals contributed whatever they could to the various villages but largely stayed together in their own gated communities setup across the planet.

Century-old traditions were almost overturned overnight by new information and knowledge, causing bloody revolutions when the tribal leaders refused to accept. Messages were sent to previously known communication channels used via hyperspace, hoping to catch the attention of the ancient ones’ civilization, which was subsequently known to be Salakic Confederation, a collection of worlds that had their own governments with relatively large amount of autonomy.

It didn’t take long for the messages to reach their intended audience and a fleet of spaceships arriving in orbit over the planet.

The world of Waylyka was finally back in the Salakic Confederation.

Short Story #1 – New Rising (Part 2)

He came upon a large passage way that had a fork leading to two separate tunnels. The walls and ceiling of the passage way was unlike the entrance of the cave with their shiny and smooth surfaces. It was as though they had been thoroughly polished by some mechanical means.

Not knowing what lies ahead in either of the tunnels, Tar’Kari randomly chose one after putting down a red marker on the ground to indicate to the rest of the group that someone had been through here and was ahead.

The second tunnel progressively became rounder as he went deeper, placing red markers at roughly equal distance from each other. Before he knew it, he was in some kind of large chamber that showed size of large scale human activity. There were large columns, many wide as four men put together that went all the way to the top of the chamber. Instinct told Tar’Kari that these are support structure. Section of the chamber were carved by some kind of tools with some corners at a right angles — Nature don’t do right angles.

At the center of the chamber was a massive metallic, roughly spherical structure that took up three-quarter of the available space with half of it seemingly buried in the ground. It was connected to another elongate structure stretches as deep as the eyes can see in this strangely well-lit chamber. There were no visible sources of light. That alone fascinated him. He wondered how it could be done.

Tar’Kari followed a curved, yet rather slippery path, down to the structure below. As he got closer, he felt a deep sense of trepidation and at the same time, he was exhilarated. The moment he got close to the structure, it emitted a low rumbling noise before a red beam swept across him several times.

Then the structure asked, in Tar’Kari’s language, “Who are you? You are not authorized to be here.”

“I’m Tar’Kari, the wiseman for Huntsman Tribe. I’m here to find out more about the cave.”

“Interesting. So there are humans on the surface?”

“Yes, there are countless tribes like ours.”

The structure mumbled loudly, as though Tar’Kari wasn’t there, “That means the Black Plague has been defeated. We can begin the rebuilding process.”

Tar’Kari was puzzled, “Black Plague? Rebuilding?”

The structure ignored him and there were more rumbling noise coming from the rear of the structure.

“Multiple threats detected.”

Multiple tiny yet extremely reflective spheres shot across the air and went straight for the only entrance into the chamber and hovered there.

Tar’Kari saw the sphere, knew immediately what it meant and yelled, “Stop! Those are my people and meant you no harm. We are just here on a research expedition.”

A massive circle open up in the middle of the circle to reveal a massive sliver blob of matter that was human shaped moving towards Tar’Kari. He could make out the individual parts that made up this blob of matter. They were like extremely tiny machines. At the center of the blob was a shiny sphere that was emitting blue light in all direction.

Tar’Kari was both dumbstruck and awestruck by the sight. No words could ever describe what he was feeling or saw.

All he could muster was, “What are you?”

[To be Continued in Part 3]

Short Story #1 – New Rising (Part 1)

The air dried and cold with constant heavy snow that went on the four days. Everything is covered under a thick layer of snow. The negative thirty temperatures forced everyone to stay in their home, surrounded by family members and whatever heating apparatus they could get their hands on. No one could go anywhere unless they want to risk freezing to death or face something worse.

No one knew how long such weather would last, just like no one knew anything about the previous weathers. It had been that way for as far as anyone knew. The last weather report was nearly two hundred years ago. Attempts at predicting the weather by the shamans, the wiseman, or whoever wise enough and trusted by the tribes, were partially a success. They helped the rest of their respective tribes to prepare for weather extremes. Correct predictions were recorded for future references.

The Huntsman Tribe was a tribe that took pride of their conscientious record keeping and used that to prepare well for the winter.

Tar’Kari was the wiseman for the Huntsman Tribe. The tribe had approximately three hundred members including women and children. Their homes, in the form of animal skin-based tents mixed with ancient technology and materials, dotted the land in a rough circle. Surrounding the village was a mix of nature and metal skeleton of what was formerly Banso City, a once bustling city with nearly two million people before a major cataclysmic event wiped it out.

Compared to wisemen from other tribes, Tar’Kari knew a lot more about the old world, their technology, and way of life. His tribe wasn’t crippled by superstitions rampant in other tribes and his tribal leaders were adamant about knowing more about the old world. They all could agree that knowing more about the world was important to their survival; so he was always out exploring, collecting, and studying.

A week ago, he came across an unexplored cave ten kilometers east of his tribe’s home during one of his hiking trip. Knowing it could take him several weeks to map the whole cave by himself, he went back to his tribal leaders and asked for help. He presented his case and after half a week long deliberation, the leaders finally agreed to an expedition with Tar’Kari leading it. Joining him were fifteen specialists drawn from his tribe.

Over the next few days, the tribal communal areas saw an increased amount of activities as the selected specialists packed their bags with supplies. Their families and friends had joined in to help.

The expedition team left the village and came upon the vast forest separating the village and cave. The winter had made sure the trees no longer had any leaves left and the ground thick with snow. As the team trekked across the forest, they left behind a trail of footprints, each several centimeter deep.

On the second day of their journey, the weather became harsher. Winds were blaring through the barren forest accompanied by eerie howls. The wind brought heavy snow, slowing the team progress down and reducing their visions to just an half an arm length. They had to setup camp and wait out the snow.

The winds reduced in intensity the next day. The team set off again reaching the cave by late afternoon.

The entrance of the cave was a rough hexagon, stretching to five meters at its widest and tallest. There was a light breeze and it carried a slight hint of berry. Compared to the air outside the cave, the breeze was warm.

The team made their way in, taking notes of what they came across and were careful not to destroy anything. Several meters in, they came upon a large, mostly empty hall. Voices echoed easily in this place. By now, the excitement amongst the team members were nearly uncontainable but Tar’Kari knew that it was best the team settle down and rest up. They would continue with the rest of the exploration They setup their respective tents and prepared dinner.

After dinner, most of the expedition team members went to bed. Tar’Kari on the hand was excited and anxious to discover what lies beyond the great hall. He couldn’t sleep. With some gears and basic supplies in tow, he set off deeper into the cave by himself.

[To be Continued in Part 2]