a tale of the Twilight Continuum
Hanging from the side of a building, cloaked in shadow, I could see the lights from the police roachsters sweeping the warehouse district and knew that we could not stay here long. I tried to visualize a route that would take me back to the city core but from here, every route was the longest route. Cyridian was not made for ease of driving but for optimal grazing for our bugs to maintain their bulk and their health.
Cyridian was designed by the city’s founders to be as ecologically friendly as possible with the industrial complexes as far from the city’s living quarters as possible. Closer to the inner rings were the commercial and educational service areas and then within the center of the city were the living quarters for bugs and people in the direct center.
I patted the internal dash of my Bug and she warmed the internal energy centers of her power plant. She did not activate her bright-lights, she was a nocturnal species capable of seeing easily in the dark. I put on my sensor band, so I could see what she was seeing. Her vision spanned the infrared and ultraviolet spectrums, she was an omnivore, so she hunted and foraged on plants when other prey was not available.
“Far to run. Must run soon.”
“Stay still. We have to wait until the time is right.”
She was never the most patient vehicle. Her parent insects were adapted because they were strong and amazingly intelligent. She was one of the few breeds capable of true interaction. For most people Bugs were just an analog for machines. So much so, they used the default activation codes designed by the breeders. “Bug On,” was the code phrase used to activate the systems of the Bug control interface. Most never created or updated the control system or password. It was not for security, because no one stole here, it would have been to personalize or empathize with the vehicle.
Cyr-Bugs were never truly embraced by most of the humans of Cyridian. Our subtle racial dislike of insects followed us from Earth. Despite the fact that the Cyridian insects have allowed us to have a lifestyle that embraced nature, remain peaceful and have a life completely dedicated to living in harmony with the world, many Cyridians were never in love with our symbiotic partners.
“Okay Ona, go fast to quadrant seven. Stay off the road.”
“Bump, bump, okay Penrose?”
“Yes, Ona, bump, bump. I am strapped in.”
Ona stretched her legs and tumbled into the underbrush. It was a very bumpy and rough ride. But the advantage was hers because the police roaches simply had to go around. Around on Cyridian meant many miles of alternative pathways like an old maze puzzle. Ona rarely got to travel this way because my job simply did not give me the time to let her roam like I would have wanted. As a matter of fact, it’s my job that put me in this position in the first place. I am a gene-engineer. I change bugs into conveniences for the people of the Empire. I’m not used to people shooting at me, or trying to kill me. Perhaps a bit of explanation is in order. I went to work this morning…
“Penrose, I’m seeing some organic components missing from your warehouse stockpiles,” shouted my boss from his desk pit. He didn’t even wait for me to slide into my desk before making demands. I saw that Barry, my co-engineer, hadn’t even shown up for work yet. Brown-nosing the boss does have its perks.
“I’m right on it. It has to do with the last alterations I made to the Series 19 upgrades. I will check the data right after I grab some crabs.”
“Bring me a couple back,” he mumbled and went back to whatever he was doing on his multiple terminals. Passing his pit, I looked down and saw some new recombinations he was working on, ugly designs to my sense of aesthetics but he had customers who loved his carapace work.
I tapped into my desk system as I walked by and looked at the reports he flagged in my heads up display. I didn’t recognize any of these requests. I got to the kitchen and picked up five or six crabs, a local insect delicacy, flash fried and coated in a dusting of sugar.
“Run a trace on these requisitions, please.” My computer would put a marker out on them and inform me where the organic components went. It was a bit of a concern because of the quantities being rerouted. Enough for fifteen or twenty Bugs. The components were the organic interfaces used to control or interact with a Bug’s system.
Since many of the systems in our buildings were created with or by or supported by the local insects, any that require our interaction had to be fitted with a control interface. The control interface technology was one of the things we created here.
The flag came up indicating the resources ended up in a facility at the very edge of the city, about fifty klicks from here, as the dragon flies. Driving will take about one hundred klicks. “Boss, I’m going to have to go out there. The system that authorized it requires a personal code to access. I am going to have go during working hours, because they barely have any comm systems out there at all. It’s one of the newer installations.”
“Do what you need to Penrose. I have seven new carapaces I need you to look at before you go, though. Can you do it at lunch?”
I had left Ona out to graze and found her sitting in a field, eating into a nest of what we called su-mona. They resembled Terran termites in that they burrowed underground and fed on woody materials. But each was the length of a man’s arm and had complexes that could spread for dozens of miles. They were a primary source of food for Ona’s species and one of her personal favorites.
The park center was a common grazing area and without the constant effort of Bugs, it would grow out of control in a matter of days.
“Penrose, I found su-mona, want to share?”
“No thank you, Ona. Will you be done soon? We have a trip to go on.”
“A long one, yes?”
“Very. Over two hours.”
“Can Ona run?
“As fast as you like.” She hurriedly chomped down the rest of her termites. There was goo all over her face. Using her pelipaps, she wiped it away as quickly as she can she said, “Ona is finished.”
I climbed into the carapace chamber organically crafted out of her mighty exoskeleton. I slid in and she formed a ridge to support my back. I put on my sensor band and could see the road through her eyes. She took off down the road at over 95 kilometers per hour.
When we arrived at the warehouse, it was mid afternoon, there had not been much traffic, so Ona really could move as fast as she wanted. It had been great to allow her to show off her speed. She was not nearly as fast as roaches who could reach speeds of 150 kph, but only for short bursts. Ona could do what she did all day long. Beyond the edge of the city, her ancestors still roamed free and could be quite dangerous to visitors of our world.
If you came to live on Cyridian you were given genetic modifiers which made you emit an odor considered unpleasant to most of the more aggressive animals of the planet, and armed with Bospor stingers, you were safe from the rest that might still eat you.
The warehouse was closed up and no staff was available to accept my query for entry. I slid out of Ona and walked up to the wall of the warehouse. The building was created out of the traditional silkstone but it seemed to have other properties. I licked the building and my chemical mods indicated there were traces of other toxins on the outside of the building. I was immune to anything the planet had to offer. I had to be to work with the number of toxic insects we handled to do our jobs. I found the toxin to be a strange one because it was not found in most of the insects local to the area.
Ona normally settled into grazing once we arrived at an area, but she seemed reluctant to move from where she stopped. She waved her palps around and put them into her mouth to taste the air.
“Ona? What’s wrong?”
“Bad genes here.”
“Whose work is it. Is it mine or Barry?”
Each engineer has a signature to their work. There are only five or six of us in Cyridian and we have marked our work to ensure stability and accountability in design.
“Trouble. Danger.” That made me nervous. Ona is one of the larger and more dangerous predators on this planet. If she was worried, we might be in trouble.
I walk back to Ona when two roachsters pull up behind her and two law enforcement agents got out of the vehicles. Ona turned around and eyed them. The roaches were calm and did not respond to her veiled threat. “Can we help you Gene-engineer?”
“What seems to be the problem, officer? I came out here to investigate a technical requisition supply issue.”
“This warehouse is restricted.” The officer seemed strange to me. He kept his hand on his Bospor pistol. The second officer stayed next to his roachster.
“Perhaps I have been misinformed.” Ona, bristled when I walked back to her.
“Penrose. Not good. Something wrong.”
“I know, but we have to go.”
Then there was a booming from the warehouse behind us. The roachsters backed up with the amazing speed they are capable of. Ona leapt away from the warehouse and landed facing it.
“Okay, that doesn’t sound normal.”
“We are going to have to ask you to leave, sir.”
The booming happened again but this time the wall exploded open and the law enforcement officer is crushed instantly by the falling wall debris. The speed at which it happened shocked me, but Ona was already in motion. She grabbed me and wrapped me in the energy dampening material inside her chassis and backed away from the hole. The other officer got out of his roachster with his Bospor pistol drawn.
The creature that came out appeared to be a variant on Ona’s design but much bigger. The modifications included increased chassis armor, stronger leg designs and several other surface mods I did not recognize. But I knew weapon work when I saw it. This was an illegal mod.
“Run, run, Penrose?”
“No Sweetie, not yet.”
The second officer jumped out of his roachster. He directed the first roachster to try and remove the debris from his downed partner. The roachster tried to lift the debris, but it was designed for speed not strength. The illegally modified creature looked out of the hole at the roachster and roared.
The officer fired on the creature. The Bospor pistol launched a round from the gun with a huff of highly compressed air. The Bospor stinger flew at over eight hundred feet per second. The tiny blob landed on the creature. Nothing happened.
The Bospor was the most toxic animal on the planet. Quiet scavengers, nothing ate them and they were non-aggressive. Their only defense is their deadly neurotoxin launched with series of gas-launched spines. The powerful neurotoxin kills everything with a nervous system on Cyridian. It is why they we modified them as weapons.
“Now we run, Ona.”
The gene-mod opened one of its ports on the side of its massive body and a coughing ejection of phlegm struck the officer. He began to smoke and scream immediately and ran backward until he fell down. Then he turned into a pile of smoking organic mess. The creature coughed again and one roachster was struck in the side, the other backed up and turned its turret on to the gene-mod. It fired two chemical backed Penranol projectiles. Both organic projectiles struck the gene-mod. One bounced off of the dense carapace, the other stuck and burst into flame. I had seen enough.
We ran as fast as we could. When we reached the next civilized part of the industrial area we tried to call back to my office with no success. Barry might have already left. I tried to reach his comm badge but he didn’t answer. I heard the alarms of roachsters as they approached our position. Ona began to fidget and I touched her to calm her down. As the roachsters surrounded us, I began to get the impression something was terribly wrong.
Barry gets out of one of the roachsters. “Hello, Penrose. I see you found out about my project.”
“That monstrosity is yours? What happened to do as little harm as possible?”
“That was before Venris Tel Corp offered me 50 million credits to build them an organic tank. Then it became “Do less harm to your planet and more to others for the proper funding.” Barry sneered at me. “You think you’re better than me.”
“You realize you just confessed?”
Barry looked around at the cops and laughed. “These guys? They work for me. They help me keep things under control and they get a nice piece of the action.”
“Penrose…” began Ona
“Not now, Ona.”
“You and your talking car. You talk about me, but making a car that talks is the real crime.”
“It’s because they are not cars, they are living things. That’s what happened on Earth, we began to treat the world as a commodity.”
“So you make your freak car?”
“Yes, I wanted something that I didn’t have to say ‘Bug On’ to get it to activate to.”
“Not now, Ona.”
“No matter, what I’ve done will make me fantastically rich, but only if you don’t survive to tell people. Gentlemen, if you please.”
I began to hear a rumbling sound, rhythmic and growing stronger, fast. The roachsters turned to face down the road and put their bright-lights onto the road.
“Penny, we should go.”
“Yes, Ona, I think you’re right.”
The Gene-mod barreled into the center of the roachsters, shooting its acidic phlegm with abandon. Ona had backed up away from the road, until she was out of line of sight. The acid bombs landed on several of the roachsters and their agonized shrieks filled the air. The gene-mod had a burn all over its top carapace but was otherwise undamaged. It barreled into the other roachsters and there was the brittle sound of carapace against carapace contact.
The roachsters chosen for their speed and savage temperament slashed into the gene-mod and the battle was joined. Ona and I used the distraction of them fighting for their lives to run for ours.
We managed to make it to the working ring and I tried to reach the Central Administrator. I left Ona to graze while I made my way into the building complex. Barry, being my boss had rescinded my access to the office. I would have to make a run to the center of the city.
I could see the headlights of the roachsters searching for me. I guessed that meant Barry was still alive. We turned into the park and made good time. We stayed off the roads where the roachsters had a speed advantage and crept the city’s overgrown grazing areas. I had to put a visit into the Sector Chief, personally. She lived in the central region, on the west side.
It took us fifty minutes and four close calls before I had to leave Ona at the edge of the center region. The roads were pedestrian friendly but less so for Bugs.
“You wait here, Ona. Stay under cover. I’ll be back for you soon.”
“Okay, Penrose. I wait here.”
I started toward Lanris Corli’s place and realized I didn’t know what I was going to tell her. I didn’t have any evidence. Using the scent glands of the Pinaris beetles we created organic street lights by attracting and feeding the bioluminescent insects over certain areas of the street. We used other kinds of glow-paint for areas that needed to stay lit but relatively insect free. It took me about five minutes to reach her domicile, a lovely spincast place made from the silk of a Wayran moth, one of the projects I headed years ago. I knocked on the door. It took about a minute for her to answer.
“Gene-engineer Penrose at your service, ma’am.”
“Cut the crap, Penrose, why are you at my door this late?”
“Well, I have evidence of a plan to weaponize our technology and sell it off-planet.”
The sleepy look vanished from her face. In retrospect, I think I should have paid closer attention.
“Come in Gene-engineer. Let me get dressed. Tell me the rest.”
She invited me in and vanished into her bedroom. I explained about the gene-mod and it’s rampage. When she came back out she was dressed in her Civil servant uniform of blue and gold. She was also carrying a stylish chemical pistol of Old Earth manufacture.
“I didn’t want this, Penrose. We were trying to get them off planet, before anyone noticed. If we could’ve had one breeding pair and the gene-mods no one would have been the wiser.”
“There is more than one of those things? I guess this means you have to kill me, now.”
“It doesn’t have to be, there are potentially several clients who would pay for our genetic technology, which has no equal in the Empire. Killing you would be a waste of a very important irreplaceable resource.”
“So why the gun?”
“I can’t have you running out of here before you hear my offer. There are always other administrators you could have confessed to who would been appalled to know what you just suggested to me.”
“You could have gone the seduction route? Made me believe we were going to be friends. After befriending me you could have killed me. It’s what the Nornian spider does with its multiple mates over the course of its lifetime.”
“You need to get out more.” Her phone rang. “I see. I will take care of it.” She hung up. “Barry’s dead. It looks like your value just shot up. But we have a problem.”
Pointing at the gun, “I’d say we have two. If you plan on having my help, you need to put that away. Its making me nervous. You won’t like me nervous.”
“It’s my insurance, don’t get any ideas. The gene-mod is out of control and heading toward the center complex. If anyone gets a clear look at it, we might be in trouble. The police will open a breach in the shield and attract some native fauna in. We’ll claim this creature is one of them and cover it up before anyone can investigate.”
“I want Barry’s share.”
“Getting bold, are we?”
“No, I am thinking I won’t have much of a career on Cyridian before this is over, so I’m just thinking ahead. Especially if I help you with this.”
“Alright, let’s go.” As we stepped out of the doorway into the courtyard, the streetlights flickered. The streetlights were comprised of clouds of the local fireflies, genetically inclined to stay near pheremone emitting sites scattered throughout the city. Working with nature, we don’t imprision the insects. They were free to come and go but between the pheremone and the nectar, they provide light sufficient for our modified vision. Then the lights went out. But that only happened when a predator approached. Lanris had only a split second of warning. She looked up right before the gene-mod landed its massive bulk right on top of her head, killing her instantly. She managed to get off a single shot.
In that split second, when the lights fled, before it arrived, I realized what was happening and leaped into the brush, running for my life. They made the damn thing able to fly? What were they thinking? And with a stealth mode, no less? That was insane!
The gene-mod was right on my tail. It knocked down trees and steel-like bamboos as if they weren’t even there, fibrous splinters raining down all around me. I could smell its power plant, it was overheating, flying was probably not the ideal movement for it. If I ran fast enough, maybe it would run out of energy and have to stop and rest.
I could hear it getting closer and closer, I looked back only once and could see it’s crazed look as its bright-lights locked onto my position, I ran into the brush to obscure its vision, even for second. If I could just make it back to the park, I could hide from it. It had no major sensory mods I could see, so I could escape while the police, the real police handled it.
But I wasn’t going to make it. I could smell it just seconds from me. There was a crashing sound coming from my left and a tree dropped right behind me. It caused the gene-mod a moment of hesitation, but it bit right through the tree. Then another tree landed behind me and a third.
Who is throwing trees behind me?
When I came to the clearing where Bugs awaited their owners, there were no Bugs there, including my own? Where was she? It was not like her to move too far once I told her I was coming back. She would have stayed near a feeding station. I was going to die here. On level ground there was no way I could outrun it.
I turned and ran anyway. I heard the buzz of two approaching roachsters. I did not know whose side they were on, so I just ran away from them too as the gene-mod burst out of the underbrush. These weren’t just roachsters, these were Hunter-seekers, killers designed to destroy bugs that breached the shield. They were big, strong and fast, some of the deadliest things we ever engineered. So dangerous, they were only released into areas that had been overrun because they killed everything they came in contact with. Once they had neutralized all threats, they were destroyed with internal toxin bombs. One-use creatures unable to be bred, except under the most ideal conditions. There were never more than four or five available any more since we perfected the shield and pheromone technologies.
With lightning speed, they turned their attention to the gene-mod with their bright-lights flashing all over the area as they battled the monster. Their flashing blade mouths, tried to cut into the carapace of the gene-mod but most of their blows were scratches in comparison to the injuries it dealt. But these were no ordinary roachsters. Their nervous systems amped to the highest degree, most of the gene-mod’s attacks missed their mark fully.
But the battle was far from equal. I looked on in horror as the full extent of the gene-modifications began to show. It began to regenerate its injuries. Regeneration was rarely added to any genestruct because there were too many potentials we wanted to avoid. Unnecessary cancers and ‘regrettable immortality’. Cells that divide too often sometimes became cancerous. And immortality can be inconvenient if you were seeking to kill a creature to prevent it from passing on its immortal genes. The potential to destabilize an ecosystem was too great, hence its name ‘regrettable immortality’.
I hoped the police were trying to get something bigger to fight with because with the venom, acid, armor, speed, flight and regeneration mods this thing was boasting, it would kill us all before the next day was done. One Hunter-killer went down under the super-strong legs of the gene-mod, speared through in four places and pinned into the spin-crete beneath.
I couldn’t think of anything I could do to stop this. While the last Hunter-killer got a few more wounds in, the brush behind it began to move. I saw several Beetles, the most common of the auto-bugs used here. Each is carrying a tree in its front leg set. They surround and set upon the gene-mod with the trees, each swinging the tree limb as if it were a willow wand. The concussive booms stagger the gene-mod with each blow, but it continues its relentless assault on the Hunter-Killer.
Then I saw Ona. She came out of the forest and she was singing. Rubbing her pelipaps together she makes a series of strange but beautiful sounds, and when she does the other auto-bugs increase their assault. The gene-mod turns and grabs one of the auto-bugs, a female, and sprays it’s toxic venom. She screamed horribly, convulsing while she died.
The others hesitated and the Hunter-Killer got in a final strike before it was cut in half by the slashing jaws of the gene-mod. It struck the genestruct in the eye with its sword-like forearms. The strike is deep, a few inches to the left and it could have been mortal. The Hunter-Killer’s arm broke off and the sword-like claw remained embedded in the eye socket of the gene-mod. The other auto-bugs renewed their attacks but not nearly as durable as the Hunter-Killer, each was cut down, one after the other.
Once it’s done, it turned toward me and advanced slowly. There were only a few times I had regretted my occupation. Once, before I was completely gene-modified to live on Cyridian, I was working with a spasm-fly and was bitten. No one knew I hadn’t completed my modification so I spent a half a year in a spasm chamber, immobilized in a stasis field so my muscles didn’t pull the flesh from my bones. That was the lowest point in my technical career. I had few other regrets. The occasional lack of family bit deep, but with my gene-mods, I would live to be a nice two hundred or so, (or would have until today) so I always thought I would have time.
The gene-mod approached and I knew I was seconds from death. The only question was how. Venom? Acid? Stomped to death? I hoped it would be quick. I was not looking forward to be stomped to death. Then I heard that whistle again and the gene-mod turned again.
Ona. What was she thinking?
It turned away and I could feel my bowels growing weak. Being close to dying really made bodily control a challenge.
Ona stepped away from the brush and approached the gene-mod. But she was bigger, redder, and her eyes had a particular gleam I had never seen before. Then I remembered. This was her maternal combat mode. Mothers, when their young are in trouble, change and become dangerous killing machines. On this world, multiply that by five.
I mean, I knew she could do it, I had just never seen it. She flew fast. She slammed into its side and knocked it off its feet. Ona is big, much bigger than the roachsters, and she used her bulk to her advantage. She landed on its underside and stabbed her sword-like pedipalps into it undercarriage, near the base of the legs, and severed its ability to control two of those legs. She bounded away as it uses its outer carapace wings to flip itself over.
It landed with a grunt and fluids sprayed out from underneath its legs, the two damaged ones are barely able to hold up the carapace in the back of the creature. Its carapace was dragging the ground. It’s down but not out.
The genestruct turned to face Ona with its good eye and I am on its blind side with the sword hanging out its eye. As long as the claw remained in its eye, it could not regenerate the tissue. The creature sprayed both venom and acid from its weaponized glands. Ona leaps forward dodging the venom but getting hit with the acid. Using her strong back legs, she sliced forward and cut off the wing casing covered with acid. She howled, a sound I have never heard her make before.
She and the genestruct circled each other and tentatively attacked each other but neither has an advantage. Ona was slowing Her injuries were taking a toll on her. The genestruct was slowly regenerating and soon able to raise itself on its hind legs. Ona scurried around onto its blind side and rushed it, slashing along the region between the carapace and the legs. She is able to get a good and solid wound. The beast roars and explodes into action. It cut deeply into her side armor, pushed her back before it moved away from her. She had damaged it seriously. The genestruct stopped moving and fell over with one set of legs unable to move. Ona was badly hurt as well. She bled from a dozen injuries all over her carapace and undercarriage. I ran over to her and tried to stop the bleeding.
“Penrose, run, run.”
“I can’t Ona. I can’t leave you. Now get up. We have to go.”
“Penny, I can’t run. Go now. Ona loves you. Ona dies for you.”
The silence was oppressive. It was never quiet on Cyridian. Insects were always talking here. Anything near this battle realized they were in the presence of something terrible and hoped to avoid drawing attention to itself. Even scavengers, normally bold, made no attempt to approach. Ona’s quiet and ragged breathing was the only thing I could hear. Her internal plant was already offline.
Then the sound of a powerplant restarting echoed across the forest. The brightlights of the genestruct came back on. Weak and flickering, but they slowly got stronger. I hear the coughing of the acid cannon being prepared to fire. I couldn’t let that happen. Ona couldn’t move yet.
I jumped up and tried to draw its fire. Confused and with only one good eye, it chose me and fired. The acid blob, hit the ground near me and part of the splash landed onto my uniform. Designed with genetic constructs in mind, the uniform neutralizes most of it, but the quantity overwhelms it and my flesh bore the rest. The pain was excruiating. I fell forward as my legs gave out, face down into the underbrush.
But for the first time since it happened, I was glad of the spasm-fly attack. I was in stasis for six months. During that entire time, my nervous system was under assault, being constantly stimulated without relief, everyday until it was brought under control. I learned my threshold for pain. And while this certainly was terrible, it was nothing compared to that six months.
I screamed. I cursed, I raged. And I got up.
“I’ve had about enough of you.” The gene-mod coughed, and sputtered as it tried to repair itself. I could hear its power plant as it struggled to stay online.
It was dying.
I limped up to its blind side, and I could hear its inquiry sounds as it tried to figure out where I was. I knew these sounds. It was looking for someone to help it. Designed to have someone support it, its injuries led it to believe someone should be helping to repair it and those chirps of query meant it was expecting someone.
I saw the Hunter-Killer leg hanging out of its ocular cavity. I reached up, grabbed the end of the leg, and reorienting it, pointed it directly into its brain. The thrust is brief and the green ichor of the construct’s blood covered me in one final surge.
It did not resist. There was a sound like a sigh of relief and the creature eased itself into a resting position. I looked at the creature and saw it was covered with pain mods, all over its armored carapace, used to control it. They were inflamed. Something drove this creature to rage. But what?
“Hello Gene-Engineer Penrose.” The voice was familiar and despised. I turned around and in the early morning light I could see his well-dressed and diplomat’s outfit with a tiny remote in his hand. He also had two burly Junantra guards, genetically modified supermen at his beck and call.
“Ambassador Cohen.” I spat blood out of my mouth. “So all that interest in my work a year ago was not as harmless as I thought.”
“You wound me, Penrose. You should be happy I took an interest in your work and had such avid supporters amongst the populace.”
“So you could make this poor thing?”
“That poor thing has killed sixteen roachsters, all six of the hunter-killers left in the city, and two dozen other assorted vehicles. It was one of the finest killing machines ever made, even on this world. And it’s mine.”
“I know. It’s worth millions.”
“Billions, my good man. We made them in breed-capable pairs.”
“You are the final link in the chain aren’t you. You made the off-world connections.”
“Yes, and once we collect our genetic material from this one, for breeding, we will be on our way. So sorry about your car.” One of the Junantra guards walked over to the creature’s mouth and began extracting vital genetic chambers that could be used to breed the creature. The ambassador and the other guard walked over to me and helped me to my feet.
“And what about me.”
“That depends on you. The Human Race is still out there conquering the Universe and needs minds like yours to help it. I know you are a pacifist like all of your people here, but think of the potential value you could bring to our kind with your organic war machines.”
“I know. I would be paid handsomely to destroy life all over the galaxy for fun and profit. No thanks.” My blood was flowing down my leg, off of my arm and head.
“I am afraid I cannot allow you to leave knowing what you do.”
“I am afraid I am not asking to leave.” With blood on my hands, I reached out and slashed both the ambassador and the Junantra on the neck with my razor sharp nails. Working with gene-constructs, you occasionally have to have the ability to defend yourself. I had been weaponized during the time I was in the healing chambers. Such work was not common knowledge. It was necessary to save my life. Living here, being stronger and faster is a survival technique. On Earth, I would have been superhuman, here, I was just a faster, more agile snack.
Since being infected with spasm-fly venom, my survival altered my body as the potent virus has remained part of me. Living as an SP-V, I lived a life suffused in constant agony as my nervous system is antagonized by the virus, but I can control the spasms and constrictions with the help of the anti-viral gene mods inside my body.
The ambassador and his guard were not so fortunate. It tool only a few seconds for them to double over in pain and for their muscles to begin to pull back on their bones until they start to snap. An agony so great, they were rendered speechless as their vocal cords tore themselves in their throats. Every beat of their hearts, passed the weaponized virus into every cell of their bodies. Only being in a medical facility allowed me to survive the spasm-fly virus. Without immediate medical attention, their bodies will be turned inside out in a matter of minutes and I realized I left my comm badge with my car; in my dying car.
The Junantra died first, his superhuman strength is no asset here. His grunts are terrible, but brief. The ambassador dies only minutes later. The second guard hearing something, rushed to their aid, and with a quick slash he died a few minutes later.
I went over to Ona and saw she is already dead; my beautiful Ona, my first best friend. I will make you again, my dear. You have been far better to me than most humans I know.
I sat down with her and watched the sunrise. Looking over at the ambassador, I felt no regrets. Since he was the last of them, it should make it easy to clean up and ensure creatures like this one are never made again. With any luck, the Council will be able to investigate fully and hunt down the other one and see that it’s destroyed.
I came here to Cyridia to get away from the violence of the Empire. Here, everything is trying to live, eat or be eaten, kill or be killed. I can live with that. That’s nature. But to kill each other for money. That’s an obscenity any way you look at it.
Just because I live on a planet full of peaceful people does not make me a pacifist.
Pax Cyridian © Thaddeus Howze 2011. All Rights Reserved
Artwork: Flesh Raiders © Elderscroller/Markus of Austria; an artist on DeviantART