Category: The Voice


No Pun Intended

“Taren, launch the anti-spades,” said the voice.

“But my liege, we are not undersea. Why waste the resource?”

“Not a waste at all. John thinks we are undersea. If we don’t respond with countermeasures, they will learn sooner rather than later that we are elsewhere. Now launch the counter attack.

“Yes, my liege.”

“Dr. X, how is our little null doing?”

“Better than anticipated. Let’s just say glowing blue, such an amazing biological adaptation, really quite remarkable, but forgive me for my digression. We are getting a much better response than any of my research indicated would be the case, as, I believe, is evidenced by our opponent’s confusion. She is paying off in spades, no pun intended.”

“Excellent. I have big plans for our little friend. Now what is the update on Calfuray?”

“Fully recovered and, if I might humbly say so, stronger than before. She is itching to redeem herself, as you might imagine.”

“So much good news dear doctor, I hardly know how to contain myself, no pun intended either. Have my dear girl come for a visit. I have an assignment I think will make her very happy. And by the way doctor, please refrain from any itching metaphors, which reminds me, how is our friend Shen?”

“Humble, my lord, humble.”

“Good. Have him come see me with Calfuray. Never hurts to have a little insurance, especially the disposable kind. Now, dear doctor, tell me more about this glowing blue adaptation.”

“Hmm, where to start, where to start . . .”

Categories: Story, Taren, The Voice, Dr. X

Quill This

John stared at the data slate for a micron before giving the order. “Destroy those patrol craft, now! Tom, organize a boarding party to the unknown craft and please let them know we are coming aboard. I want no accidents. Once aboard, I want full cloaking employed with multiple decoys at random vectors.”

__________

“Whatcha got Trev? What’s abnormal?” asked Em, chest heaving and eyes wide.

“Well, I’m not versed on how to interpret this data plane, but it looks like we have multiple craft approaching at rapid velocity from contrary directions. All appear to be on a direct vector—.“ Blinding white light filled the bridge. “Em, are you there? Em, I can’t see! Em?”

__________

“Tom, status report?”

“Five of the six patrol craft destroyed.”

“And the sixth?”

“Returning to base.”

“Jam all channels. Full pursuit. I do not want that vessel returning to the planet.”

__________

“Taren, doesn’t seem to be our day. Notify Dr. X. Change of plans. He’ll know what I mean,” said the voice.

“And the Tearacs?”

“Can’t take them with us. Let them feast. And Taren?”

“Yes?”

“I appreciate your loyalty.”

__________

“Bravo-Four-Zero, this is Kulmyk command. Prepare to be boarded. We mean you no harm. Do not resist.”

“Tom,” said John, shaking his head.

“What? I mean every word,” said Tom. “I do, really.”

“Hellocks,” said Yul. “We’ve heard that before. Em, do you know where Von left the cache?”

“Yep, follow me. Trev, delay that boarding party.”

“What?”

“Trev!

“Alright, alright.”

“And you wonder when they’re gonna drop.” said Yul.

“Come again?”

“The boys. You know. Em, come on,” Yul replied as she grabbed her crotch.

“Oh, yeah, right, the boys.”

__________

“Tom, you ready?”

“Yes sir.”

“At your command. Oh and Tom, we want to make a good impression this time. Weapons on quill. Understood.”

“Absolutely John.”

“Yeah, I mean it this time Tom.”

“Got it. You know me.”

John smiled. “Yes, Tom, I do.”

__________

Foggy condensation filled the bay. A central dark grey blockish shape appeared haloed with bright white light. A high pitch whine wound down punctuated with two loud blasts.

“Don’t hold back Em, unless you want to end up like Mairi.” Yul braced her feet against the cold metal bulkhead, dual las canon firmly seated on her right shoulder. Taking aim on the right portal she squeezed off three more bolts in rapid succession. “That’s for Rog you bastards.”

“T-o-m,” said John, lowering his chin, eyes rolling up.

“Damn it John, we are under fire.”

“Big picture Tom and wipe that grin off your face. Besides, do you really want the blood of two unknown females with minimal weapons on your hands? How would I explain that to command? Weapons to quill. That’s an order. Now open the hatch and put that cannon down. Geessh.”

__________

“Trev, seal off the bay,” commed Yul.

“But—“

“No frailing buts, do it, now! Em, take aim on the left side. Em? Frail, where did you go?

Categories: Story, John Discovery, Yul, Emy, Trev, The Voice, Taren

+It’s okay Mairi, you can keep your eyes closed. The scan works on synaptic discourse. The warmth of your skin conducts the signal and should give you a slight tingle, perfectly harmless+, intoned Dr. X aligning the red laser over the center of her eye.

Mairi gritted her teeth; her eyes closed tight, her chest fully exposed. Telepathic communication gave her the same weird sensation as giving bone marrow, neither pleasant nor painful but rather an odd sense of naked violation. The feeling was neither tickle nor itch as much as an indescribable viscous feeling of vacuum–as if the very essence of her soul was being sucked out against her will. Her hands pulled in vain against the rough scratchy rope as if they could wipe away the sensation like a pregnant bead of sweat on precipice of her brow.

+Relax Mairi. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do.+

_______

“John, incoming message. I think you should take this one.”

Flicking his eyes to the right, the private message appeared on the inside of his dark blue visor:

Dear Johnny,

I love you. Do your job. Do it right. Hurry back.

Love,

Cait.

John flicked his eyes down and left and the message faded away.

“Good news John?”

“Yeah, good news,” said John, pursing his lips into a tight smile causing his crow’s feet to take on shadow and light in exaggerated folds like heavy cloth.

_______

“Trev, what’s the update? asked Yul.

“No change I’m afraid. I will say this, a lesser Hynerian would not have survived the punishment Rog has absorbed. How much longer is a matter between Rog and Janus.”

“And the arm?”

“We’ll wait as long as we can, but if . . .”

Yul looked down. Trev looked away.

_______

“Taren, our visitors didn’t materialize out of thin air. Launch a patrol. I want the survivors alive since our Tearacs won’t give us that pleasure with our two guests. Consider it a little insurance in case our dear doctor runs into resistance,” said the voice.

_______

Von looked at Kyra out of the corner of his weary eyes as if to say I’ll give you what I’ve got but don’t expect a miracle. Kyra caught the look and smiled without smiling. Standing between Von and the rising murmur she closed her eyes and lifted her arms, palms out. From light came darkness and from darkness came light and a warm sensation lifted his spirit.

Commentary: Axon Terminal

Categories: Story, Kyra, Von, The Voice, Trev, Yul, Mairi, Dr. X, John Discovery, Caitlin

A Rising Murmur

+Taren, I consider myself a patient lump of flesh with, perhaps, a fair amount of compassionate understanding, although I suspect Shen would take issue with my presupposition. Let it be said, however, I honor my threats.+ Laughter within anomalous cognition created a strange sensation within the receiver, an intention the voice used with skillful intent to effect disproportionate orientation. +How is our friend doing by the way?+

+Recusant to the last,+ responded Taren, unnerved as always in the presence of the voice, his mind tingling like a tooth ache from the telepathic waves of mirth as if ice water lapped at the very shore of his raw throbbing skull.

+Status update on the girl. Where are we?+

+Dr. X is inside her mind as we speak. First breakthrough was easier than anticipated. We should know more within the hour.+

+Good. And Calfuray? How is my dear sweet child?+

+Convalescing, although we are not sure how long she will remain in shock. The doctors seem to think her catatonic state is a mental reaction to defeat as much as any physical infliction. Prognosis is for full recovery, although her albugineous flesh, especially around the eyes, is causing some concern.+

+First time for everything Taren. Nothing lasts forever. As my father often said, better enjoy the fete now, for the suns of Tyrus rise faster than the backside of golden goblets toasted to marital bliss on a cold winter night. What he knew of that, well . . . , another subject for another urn. Have the Tearacs been released?+

+Yes.+

+Bring the slate over here. Where my violaceous darling has failed my sleek beasties will feast. Been awhile since I’ve allowed them to run free. How are our two friends progressing? I do so admire their ingenuity.+


Von stared into the oscillating beams blocking their path. “Mmm . . .”

“Care to translate that for me? asked Kyra. Before he could answer they both turned in unison to a rising murmur carried on the wind like cool air preceding a storm.

Categories: Story, The Voice, Taren, Von, Kyra

Calfuray

“Shen, it appears we have visitors,” said The Voice. Your little project continues to irritate the hellocks out of my dry skin. Do you know what it is like to have an itch but no means to scratch it?”

“No my lord,” replied Shen.

“Fail me on this mission and I will personally make sure you have the opportunity. Is that clear?”

“Yes my lord.”

“Give the assignment to Calfuray. She has my confidence. And Shen? I expect to hear no more of this. Is that understood?”

“Yes my lord.”

Categories: Story, The Voice, Shen, Calfuray

The Voice

Come in. Sit,” said the voice. “Raise your eyes, both of you and look at me. Tell me what you see.”

Shen and Taren sat in cold silence. Nostrils involuntarily flared with each in breath as if preparing to absorb a blow.

“Give me one good reason I should not have you both summarily executed.”

Shen started to speak.

“Shut the frail up Shen. There are no words to succor your failings. Do you have any idea? Any? Shen?

“All is not lost. We have the girl,” offered Shen.

The voice hovered as if chewing Shen’s words like cud, digesting each syllable in preparation to shat the refuse back forth from whence it came.

“Yes, you have the elusive null. Quite a coup for your research wouldn’t you say?” said the voice in slow even tones making nuance impossible to read.

“Once in a life—“

“Shen,” interrupted the voice, “speak again and I’ll have your head on the floor before the echo of your vapid vision soils one more precious moment of my time. I want you to look close. Look at me Shen. Come closer.”

Shen stood slowly and walked toward the voice. Taren watched as men on death row watch others take the walk. A small drop of perspiration ran down his face. Shen’s footsteps echoed in the small room, sounding louder than usual.

“I want you see Kulmyk handiwork up close. Please, hold out your hand. The eyes alone do not do justice to their craftsmanship with a blade.”

Shen ran his hand over the lump of flesh that spoke. As an experienced interrogator Shen had seen the worst of physical torture; yet, still, it took all of his estimable mental abilities to quell the disturbance in his stomach.

Are you married Shen?”

“Yes.”

“Does your wife love you Shen? Does she make love to you?”

“Yes.”

“What do you think she would think if you looked like this?”

The voice allowed silence to suck the living air from the room. Shen struggled to take a breath. Falling to the floor his hands instinctively moved to his collar. The room seemed to get smaller. The floor felt cold and had a distinctive antiseptic smell. Shen’s eyes narrowed and all he could think was just how clean the floor was.

“Your foolishness has put our entire mission in jeopardy. Within days, the Kulmyks will launch a taskforce toward our small sanctuary. And when they get here, when they get here Shen,” said the voice, hovering just over Shen’s ear, “they will make what they did to me look like child’s play. And all for a null.”

The voice pulled away. Shen gasped for air as if breaking the surface.

“Taren?”

“Yes sir?”

“Get him out of my sight before I change my mind.”

“Yes sir.”

“Oh, and Taren.”

“Yes?”

“You’ve got twenty-four hours with the null. Don’t disappoint me.”

Categories: Story, Shen, Taren, The Voice