Hey guys its been a very long time coming, but my book is out tomorrow. You can preorder it here now:
I am leaving it at 99 cents for the opening price, its a very long scifi story so check it out and leave any comments if you actually pick it up!
Hey guys its been a very long time coming, but my book is out tomorrow. You can preorder it here now:
I am leaving it at 99 cents for the opening price, its a very long scifi story so check it out and leave any comments if you actually pick it up!
Raist took a prone position in the clearing Ziko had cut through the forest with his CSW, while the two close range fighters fought back-to-back against the horde, standing right above Raist.
He was taking careful burst shots, squeezing a few rounds, gauging whether the creature needed more rounds to die, then either delivering, or moving on to a new target. The counter on the side of the rifle shot down rapidly.
He squeezed the final 30 into some creature hopping between the trees and as he rolled to his side to put a new magazine of 1,000 in. The magazine was in, and his hand was going to the ‘accept’ toggle when he saw a huge bird diving out of the sky right at their group.
“Up…!” he started, but it was too slow. Its mouth peeled open to reveal a tri-maw opening ready to consume one of them. The creature was closing on them when its large neck was separated from its body, liquid exploding out the backside as its head crashed to the ground not far from them, its body gliding into another dead creature.
Raist toggled the rifle back on, and saw a line of white tracers clearing the sides of part of the trees. He knew that weapon anywhere: it was Leio’s Sweep Rifle, but she was aiming horizontally. What killed the bird?
“It’s Agrest and Leio!” Philira shouted, another of her clips dumping out of her Plaz-Shot and hitting Raist in the head as she reloaded with robotic speed.
He didn’t need to tell the two he was with to not hit them, and he hoped the other two knew they were here.
Beasts continued advancing on them until all of them mysteriously stopped, turning and running as fast as they could. Death had not scared them before, so it was definitely something different.
“Phi?” Raist asked.
“Something’s coming…top of the trees.”
The strange silence had returned to the forest, though a few wounded screams still pierced the night. Raist hated killing animals, and hearing their moans as they were sawed apart by the grass hurt his soul.
“Drone!” Philira shouted, grabbing Ziko and diving to the shot-up ground. Above them a large floating disk hovered over the scene of their battle.
“Shoot it! Shoot it!” she yelled.
Raist was the only one of the three with the longer-range weapon and brought it to bear, and though he was giving it rapid bursts of ten sonic rounds that were undoubtedly flying straight through its hull, its size would not easily be brought down. The two he was with were each rapidly reaching for their longer-range weapons as a firing arm extended above the disk.
A loud whoosh reached them long after the rocket did, rending the ground apart as they were flung through the air. Raist crashed into one of the trees between two of the razor edges and escaped serious damage. He switched his weapon to packet mode, morphing the small rounds into larger slugs designed to pierce before blowing apart inside their target.
He aimed at the disk that was readying another rocket and started shooting, catching the white tracers of the Sweep Rifle also on target of the drone. The thin, fast spray of the Sweep rounds, and Raist’s exploding slugs were pounding away at the machine. It tilted to one side for a moment, but righted itself. Raist was sure it was going to fire again until its core exploded and it crashed somewhere into the trees above them.
He was breathing hard, his mind in combat mode, looking around everywhere for the next thing to kill, and with nothing moving for a long time he gradually began to come off his combat high.
Something was hurting his core and looking down, he saw a mat of the spiky grass imbedded into his chest after being propelled by the rocket. He pulled each out; feeling the distant pain of sucking out the semi-vacuum each projectile had created in his body.
He pushed himself out of the slight cove of his tree and staggered to the clearing. “Who is alive?”
“We are, but Ziko is hurt,” Philira’s voice had an edge he never heard before in it.
Raist ran over and saw Ziko slumped next to a tree almost exactly like where Raist had been blasted. The difference was he was moved slightly to one side, right into its sharp edge.
“Zi…ko?” Raist asked nervously.
“Yo, I’m alive, but shit…these plants are even worse than the creatures.”
Ziko’s words made it seem like he was okay, but Raist realized Ziko’s left arm had been cut cleanly off right by the shoulder. His nanites and suit sealed what was left of the arm to prevent any bleed off; it actually looked like he had a stub arm his entire life with how clean it was. The fact he could talk clearly was a result of their advanced training, and very tailored drugs to block pain and maintain combat efficiency.
“Your ar—” Philira started, Raist grabbed her and shook his head no.
(The team has landed but due to a malfunction were all separated and trying to find each other)
“How the hell can they see us!?” Raist shouted over the burst of gunfire. Another Plaz-Shot shell from Philira’s weapon exploded the creature apart as the remnants of the super heated bolts tore through parts of the forest.
The silence of the forest during the day was a complete juxtaposition of the chaos of night with its endless howls, shadows, and attacks.
One beast that had finished goring another swung its huge tusked head towards the two of them and started charging. Raist lifted the Limiter rifle to it, and the soft ‘zzzt’ sound hid the fact that hundreds of sonic rounds were electro-magnetically being discharged out of the rifle. The spray tore into the creature, rendering its millions of generations of evolution for naught as the rounds blasted through it and the trees beyond. It skidded to a stop not far from the two of them, and was rapidly being cut down by the strange ground under it.
“They have to be sensing us some other way…thermally possibly,” Philira suggested as she rapidly rotated her head around every side of them, pumping a round into things Raist didn’t even know was there, only occasionally seeing the burning creature falling out of a tree or fall over from behind an alcove. She danced in front of him always making sure to stay between him and any danger.
‘DADADA!’ A loud, fast retort of a Close-Support-Weapon came from somewhere fairly close to them; they knew they were closing in on the other member of their group. But every step was a battle. Even the ‘grass’ had become even more alive, slicing back and forth greedily for something to fall onto the cleaving surface.
“How close?!” he shouted to Philira.
“Not far.” She quickly bent down, her hands rapidly flying over the Scatter gun as she threw the empty energy clip to the ground, reaching to her hip for another, slapping it in and triggering the toggle. The green neon lights on the transductor rails came back on as she jumped backwards shooting a creature that had closed on her quickly in that short time.
“It has to be thermally!” Raist shouted. It made sense why everything was out at night: heat would show up better. Unfortunately, their advanced weaponry probably was a beacon in the night with the hot barrels and explosive plasma blasts.
“Get down.” Philira dashed backwards, tackling Raist to the ground. In front of them the huge tree was sawed through by a barrage of rounds as it swayed in one direction, its structure cracking. Its mass swayed the other direction as its crystal structure started breaking, falling towards them as the base exploded apart. The razor branches came crashing down around them. They scrambled to their feet, pausing for only a moment as the tree grew closer and closer. They escaped being crushed, but not all damage as the sharp crystals shot-gunning around them as the branches of the tree fell everywhere.
“Gaaaa…!” Raist let out a groan as he felt something slip right through his right side, passing through the armor like nothing. The tree had come to a crashing end and Philira jumped up. Raist was slower and she grabbed his wrist and hauled him up.
He put a glove on his right side and it came back red; he had been sliced through by one of the branches of the tree that had crashed around them.
“Shit, I’m hit.” Philira looked at him with her cold eyes, trying to decide what she was going to do.
“I’m going for whoever that is. We need to unify our force immediately,” she started leaving.
Raist grabbed her wrist, pulling her back. “No, I am going with you. This is nothing.” A warning in the corner of his eye warned that the expected healing would reduce his total combat healing potential down to 73%.
The first few steps were painful until the chemicals were sufficiently pumping through him and he forgot about the pain completely, focused on gunning down the further away creatures while Philira focused on those close ones.
‘Dadada!’ Shots boomed across the forest, drowning out anything else.
“Ziko!” Philira tried yelling between the fire. “Ziko!”
“Holy shit, Philira!? Raist!?” The three of them ran closer to each other, but the reunion was short-lived as the battle was far from over. Ziko had racked up a large amount of kills as the forest had been cut through here. Even the razor grass had been blown away, leaving much safer soft rock under them.
Keep a ping going so we can find the range of the ICS here – he sent to her, but when she didn’t respond he felt alone again. He backed up a bit as small bits of the plant fell out of the sky from her ascent, turning his own cloaking field back on. He picked one of the branches up, from where it had broken off was a liquid leaking out from the middle. Though the branch was colored purple, he thought the similarity to obsidian was strong. Was this really a plant, or maybe a symbiotic amalgamation of plant and geologic processes? They looked a lot like Daijin Star plants, if they had plants. Hmm…did they have plants?
‘Thinking too much…’
He shook his head and pulled the Gauss-Limiter up to his shoulder and looked around at the silent forest around him. Really the forest was rather beautiful with its soft reflections of the light far above. There appeared to only be two major life forms: the huge trees and the sharp ‘grass’ underneath.
The terrain wasn’t that hard to cross; compared to some the going would have been fairly fast. But the problem was the extreme diligence required of being aware where every hand and every foot was going to ensure no slipping into a razor tree happened. Strengthening just the feet or hands as Philira suggested was a good way to save suit material, but at the risk of injury in an accident.
The visibility was fairly good. Sight lines were about average, blocked only by the big pyramidal trunks or the eventual even dispersion of the trees filling in every sight line.
“Haaaauuuuuuu!” a strange call from somewhere up in the air came, making Raist realize how close to dusk it was now becoming. The call also indicated there was something here other than the two plants types. In the setting sun the purple color of the plants was even more obvious, and that made him remember the fact that from space the landscape looked green. But from here, there was definitely nothing green around.
The branches falling off the tree then took on a different touch from their completely purple obsidian nature beforehand. They were the crystal branches, but with leaves on them. Green leaves.
“What?” He picked up one from the pile forming and sure enough the leaves looked similar enough to Terrestrial leaves, barring the strange branch. Something else caught his eye even more though, and it was that this pile was softly moving. He backed up out of caution and slowly watched it vibrate.
‘This grass is alive…’ He looked down at his boots, grateful the advanced alloy was protecting him from this alien world. He dropped the leafed branch to the grass, in which the razor grass slowly swayed back and forth. It cleaved the glass-like branch apart and leaving a strange liquid inside the crystal branch similar to sap that was dripping out, as well as the valuable, soft leaves. Raist knelt down to see that between the blades of grass was a small pool of liquid, which the remnants of the sliced branch fell into and were systematically dissolved in what appeared to be an acid.
This was a hostile planet, and with each step he took he could imagine the alien grass trying to cleave bits of his boot off to get to his own ‘juices’ inside. It disgusted him imagining the grass as millions of worms swaying back and forth to eat him. He wanted to shoot them for a moment if it would have at all mattered.
“Raist?” a soft female voice called to him.
“Yeah.” She jumped out of the tree and turned off her cloak. Her cold eyes and bright hair still affected Raist every time; Scouts were a very enigmatic class of soldier. Given his past with Laiun, the previous Scout he had fallen for, added to the forced distance in his heart he had to maintain with Philira.
“Four things,” she started. “One, there appears to be creatures that live here and only come out at night, and they put this plant life to shame in terms of danger. Two, that way,” she pointed, “is the way towards our goal. Three, there are robot sentries in the air, possibly of Daijin Star origin, but heavily armed. Lastly, there is at least one person alive, and they are that way.”
“Well, then we are going that way,” pointing towards the unknown team member.
“Of course, Leader.”
“Raist is fine, don’t talk differently just because we are on a mission now.”
“Of course, Raist.” He liked the way she said his name.
Part 2 of the story, make sure you check it out, its going to be big!
The five members of the squad were sitting on the bench in the sterilization room of their ship, naked while a battery of electromagnetic waves, chemicals, and machines poured over their toned bodies. Since the nanites within their systems protected them from any likely xeno-disease of the planet, this was for the exact opposite reason: so their own bacteria would not wipe out the entire planet’s ecosystem. That kind of xenocide tended to be bad for business.
“What the hell!? We are taking another recovery mission without getting any of the details?” Ziko’s fist slammed into the bulkhead.
“Do you want to bitch your whole life?” Raist pointedly asked him.
“Come on Raist, we need to start getting way more info before we get into these things!”
“Leave him alone Ziko, it’s not like you are smart enough to ever care about details anyway,” Leio’s voice stated calmly as she lay back against the wall of the room, arching her back with her hands locked behind her head. Her perfect breasts and thinner, toned waist would distract even the hardiest of males, but it was only a matter of course: she was Aelisha Genetically Engineered that way.
“How nice,” he replied as he gave her a sideways glance. “Your girl is playing secretary for you as well. What do I have to do to talk to the man in charge? Kill her?” he joked.
“She could kick your ass. If you can make it past her then you can talk to me,” Raist responded quickly, his brain coming up with a retort more out of habit than anything.
“Jeez, team effort here.” He wore a huge smile, closing his eyes and flexing his huge arms he had behind his own head. “Sorry for trying to show caution when our Leader is failing to do so.”
Leio giggled for a bit, opening her eyes and winking at Ziko while giving him a slight smile.
“So she is your battle-secretary? Damn that sounds hot,” Agrest, the fourth member of their team, suggested. Raist and Leio laughed at his typical joking demeanor, belying the fact he was the group’s Sniper capable of blowing any creature’s head off at amazing distances, or surviving alone for long periods of time “What type of other ‘uniforms’ do you get her to wear when we aren’t rolling out? Old school maid perhaps?”
“Why would her uniform be different?” Philira, the second girl of the group, naively asked. Through her hair was a bright pink when it wasn’t nano-camouflaged, her eyes left a cold sensation, amplified by her obvious young age compared to the older soldiers. She was a girl AGEd to be the best soldier you could have on point, with extremely heightened visual and aural acuity, rapid peripheral vision processing, and, above all, reflexes to keep her alive in the extremely dangerous position of Scout.
Agrest frowned exaggeratedly, “Uh, never mind…”
“Yeah, stow that shit Agrest, what is your problem?” Ziko’s joking demeanor changed to one that was stern. Though Agrest and Ziko were both the group’s source of laughs, Ziko had a sensitive spot in that he couldn’t stand jokes about Philira, or anything sexual that might ‘taint’ her mind. Ziko considered himself the father figure, or more like the big brother, of the younger Philira, unsurprising given the general close proximity of the two with his role as Assault and hers as Scout. It was probably a mistake for Ziko to ever have made an issue about it at all. Even cool-headed Raist got in on the jokes just to make him mad.
The five of them were a close family, but there were still a lot of secrets between them such as where they came from, action they’d bene in before getting into super deep groups like this, and what horrors they had lived through; all somewhat natural given their line of work. Very rarely would someone get rotated out to a new team, such as Raist’s few other friends. Mostly people died in the team they start in or get maimed too bad to continue or they make it through a deadly grinder and live an all-expense retirement after a short but brutal tour.
Even so Ziko still felt a duty to protect the girl, even though she was just as good of a killer as him and her young eyes had that dark coldness to them. This was despite her naivety of some aspects of the world, namely those that didn’t involve killing such as relationships, love, or sex. None of them knew the past all of them came with, and a girl like Philira likely didn’t have much since Scouts tended to get grinded worse than most other Classes. At this point of their lives they still trusted each other deeply, as it took tremendous service and sacrifice to the Solarian or Aelisha empires to get here.
“Anyway, Leio’s sexy maid costume and Philira’s overall hotness aside,” Agrest began, grinning boyishly, “anything else about this mission you haven’t brought up yet?” he ended seriously.
Getting close to the end, what is going to happen!?
I woke back up, eventually, and was still in chains. Okay, so this was definitely ‘reality’ as much as I had flirted with different states of that word. My mind went through a few scenarios on what exactly this meant. There appeared to be no doubt I did indeed bomb the ReCorp building. Sounds like I am probably slated to be executed here, maybe after I’m tortured awhile to see what I can produce as far as my contacts or whom I was working for. It was all for a girl, man, all for some crazy girl.
Proud. Hmm, did she really exist? Evidently Mitreah did, as the info screen referenced her. Yet, I could have sworn that Proud absorbed some bullets that would have laid me out.
Did I really live all those cycles over? Of course. I had to have, because how else could I have gotten that bomb, or found Mitreah’s secret phrase, or figure out the perfect paths for everything? Or…what if I always had that bomb and Mitreah was given to me from a shadowy contact? Was I an agent programmed to forget what exactly I was doing, and come up with some massively delusional story to hide the simple truth that I was just a terrorist against the Solarian Federation?
Damn, was that the truth? It was true I could not remember even two cycles ago. Ha, holy shit, I literally could not remember what had happened two cycles ago.
Had my secret neural trigger activated and blanked everything out? “Uhh…” I tried moving my arms, and groaned from the pain of the wrist locks and my arms not being able to move.
“Proud…were you just a lie? Was everything just a lie?” Was I just an agent with his combat android sent to eliminate whatever advantage the Federation was developing here?
Another thought came to me. What if indeed the cycle reset over and over, and that was simply Proud’s goal from the beginning: not so much saving the universe, but simply preventing the time fracture after which I no longer mattered? I prevented it, so her goal was accomplished. Why would she care about one stupid little Solarian locked up for his crimes? This was especially true if it was for the whole universe’s sake. As long as I did my duty, I was completely expendable. Wow…that was fucked up. I got played hard. Maybe I would have cried, but the emotion felt foreign to me. Distant.
Sometime later – ha what an ironic word, ‘sometime’ – I had thought I had lost my arms. I could no longer feel them, and it had been at least a few cycles as my hunger had disappeared, replaced by the slow consumption of myself. In the pain and dark despair I eventually decided that I probably did indeed experience a time fracture, and Proud was real, but I had done what she wanted all along and there was no reason to ‘save’ me or ever even say anything to me again. Hell, I fucked her and shot her to make it even worse.
Do we cry over a white blood cell that kills itself in our service? Hardly. All we do is expect them to make that decision again and again. And I was probably worth infinitely less.
I was just a single white blood cell. It was the metaphor I had settled on. I did my part to help pull the universe out of the problem it was in. Proud was some director, and I did my sacrifice, everything else moved on. Wow…I hadn’t felt so abandoned in a while. Yet I sympathized in a way. I did not care about the individual blood cells dying to save me. Why would the universe?
Hey guys wanted to give a quick thanks to those of you supporting my blog and to my readers out there, check it out, this is my new record I just got today!
As you can see it was pretty dead for a while, but it is finally taking off. These do NOT include the free books, so this is actual kindle select. Exciting!
Yes I know its modest at this point but to be going ANYWHERE is really exciting, thanks again everyone.
How many annihilations ago was that? A thousand? A million!?
In the absolute darkness of my being and existence Proud had saved me from the darkness of myself, showing me my own light by simply exposing hers. Taking a few deep breaths, trying to wipe the tears away I recalled some of the positive things I had figured out during the focus of every time after that, since I decided to actually get serious.
Right, remember the things I had figured out even during the darkness. Like how my repetition of a hundred different phrases and conversation branches allowed me to sleep with numerous girls, showing me I could find out almost anything from anyone with exactly the right prompts. What was initially fueled by dark sexual desire proved to be very useful in the fact I could use perfect conversation choices positively, and not having anything to do with sex.
The old guy at the fence? Indeed he was in the Space Forces as he claimed, but he also was a special operator. What did I learn? I rubbed my eyes, trying to recall. Definitely some stuff about infiltration and explosives. What exactly had he taught me?
What was hard was that I could no longer separate ‘my’ knowledge with what I had learned from others simply teaching me. A thousand repetitions with the same person, each ‘cycle’ simply advancing the conversation as far as I had learned from the prior cycle, allowing me to eventually learn everything a person was capable of teaching.
I got up and left, slightly energized by the memory I was actually making progress. Normally later in the day the old man would be over-looking the pit, but long ago figured out where he lived.
I went to his house, knocked on the door and he was much more suspicious and cold compared to his more jovial act at the overlook.
“What do you want?” he asked through a chained door.
“Coding Alpha Delta,” I let it sink in a little. “We need to talk.”
From my view, I saw the one eye looking at me through the chain blink once, then he unchained the door. He put the pistol under the slot on the table like he always did, not knowing I had been killed by it quite a few times.
By playing the role of an agent from the highest reaches of Solarian intel, I was able to learn a lot from him. At this point I was sure I had exhausted everything he had to tell me, but it was a good reminder.
Had I always known that an innocent nano block used to repair stuff could be overrode to create controlled directional explosions? Had I always known my Liner pistol could be turbo charged simply by taking over the cover and turning the limiter off?
I doubted it, but there was no way to know. Knowledge was a strange thing to me that often hung at the edge of my understanding. Given all the loops I had been through, what was ‘my’ knowledge melted away into this strange mixture of things I now knew from others.
The old man had just finished showing me how to take the limiter off my Liner pistol; I could probably do it better than him at this point.
“You still have the explosives you were tasked with, right?”
“Are you requesting transference, Operator?” he asked back.
At this point everything was growing dark.
“Negative, just need to make sure. But I always knew you still did.” I lifted my Liner pistol up.
“What…are you doing?” he asked, concerned.
“Resetting,” I said. I pulled the trigger as I ended my life in a far less painful way.
The killing sprees honed my abilities. I learned to fight with my fists, knives, my Liner pistol. Each cycle was a new challenge. How many could I kill with just my hands, or could I beat my score using my gun? It became this dark abyss where others only existed to see how many I could blow through. It didn’t matter when I was maimed, shot or imprisoned, I was reset every morning.
With women it was another challenge and at this point I no longer cared about ‘knowing them’ as it was pointless. It was easy at gunpoint but didn’t stimulate me the same way of manipulating their minds with perfect words and actions. My respect for them tanked down to zero. I could get any girl to be with me, it didn’t matter how loyal or pure she was. Enough predictive power or perfect words and they all melted. Eventually that game grew boring as well.
By the way, Proud? It was easy. I only had to ask. She was more than happy for the overwhelming feelings of the physical realm, and indeed it was quite amazing from my end; but that was the largest regret I had. Amidst my absolute depravity she represented perhaps the one untainted thing in this fractured world I inhabited, and I proceeded to destroy that as well.
My curiosities turned to sorrow and anguish. The hedonism left me cold and empty, the shallowness overwhelming that I had given in to. Soon it became a burden, thinking of all the crimes I had committed, even if they were not longer ‘actually done’. The pointlessness of everything amplified by a thousand experiences I had now come to hate. Especially what I did with Proud…or maybe it’d be better to say ‘what I did to Proud’.
We had come to love each other through the circumstance we were now in, a deep friendship from the stories we shared. Our friendship was not one of two different races of a physical being and a near-energy being creating a physical body, but of two consciousnesses that liked each other from so much time together.
Then I had sex with her simply to satisfy a burning question of if she would. And she did, and she loved it. As soon as it was over, I started crying. I was so stupid, so shallow. Defiling the last totem of sanity in this world left me broken and under no more delusions of how messed up I had become.
What the fuck was wrong with me? The universe was counting on my freewill to prevent this time fracture, and I was doing this to its incarnation? I was murdering people, manipulating every woman I could into sex, and fucking LineGod Proud instead of doing anything productive. I felt endlessly evil for taking advantage of her which I did many times ‘just to make sure’. That sent me on an even darker spiral for many, many time fractures.
I swung my arm around, trying to grab something else. I grabbed something soft, pulling it towards me; it was my white shirt. On the floor, holding the white shirt and the desk brought forth more grim memories of the even further pits I fell into.
‘But she was the sensual one, she wanted it!’ I would lie to myself, trying to justify the single action I hated myself the most for. My personal best for kills was over a thousand using just a pistol, most women was over ten, and that was due to my own physical limitation, but none of those compared to the final break in sanity by using Proud.
Her name was ‘Proud’ and that was nowhere near what I felt about my actions, only all-consuming regret and self-hatred. The shame was overwhelming, and then it was eventually mixed with hopelessness of my position. I had forsaken seeing Proud again because I felt so bad for what I did for so many times before I finally snapped.