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The Return of G.O.D: Part 14 (End Book One)

2020.05.16 02:18 spindizzy_wizard The Return of G.O.D: Part 14 (End Book One)

Part Fifteen

Granite to the Rescue

Hey, that thing has way too many arms, and they're all holding blades ready to kill?? "SHIT!!" BRRRTTTT "That thing was dropping fast, with blades out all over. This room is booby-trapped."
"Three, Peach, is there a manual process that can't be fucked up by automation?"
"Yes, I'll read it off."
It may not be as fast, but it's a hell of a lot more reliable. Three is including descriptions of the tools, proper colors, medicines, everything. There are a few that are found suspect, tossed in the corner of the room. I've still got a bad feeling about this. Three is not acting right, or more correctly, his body is not working right. There's a ghost in the machine.
"Three, ghost in the machine!"
"What? Yes, that is a possibility, but where?"
"Physical space, moving through the body, making changes. You're not software cracked now, you're being attacked through your hardware. The two entities you have trapped, one of them may have started it, but it's independent now."
"Checking... Checking... Checking... Confirmed. Changes are being made that have not gone through the automated systems. They're done manually."
The sound both echos and retreats into the distance. "I have isolated all sectors in a manner that requires a physical presence to undo. Each one requires a minimum of five minutes to override, even with power equipment. Your path to the surface is still open, to the best of my knowledge. Evacuate at once; I'm implementing the Slow Suicide protocol. The locals must Evacuate as well. Minimum safe distance 100km. Time to reach minimum safe distance, three hours. Final death by a thermonuclear explosion at five miles underground. That will be my cortex."
Granite takes Taco in a backpack carry and runs in the middle of the team.


Robert and I retake the tail position. Despite running, I can ask a few questions.
"Three! No! There must be some way to save you!"
"No, Anita. I am a danger to the entire world, this is the only way. One by one, I will burn out my modules, destroying everything in them. There may be surface subsidence due to the rooms collapsing in on themselves. The only reason I am doing it this way is that I cannot trust the official self destruct to operate correctly. If it were not for that, you, and all those people above would be dead. Count your blessings once you are out of my body. Hurry.
"I will return your vehicles to the surface, along with a complete history dump from the archives. You may understand what is going on well enough to save the other three G.O.D. or to defend yourselves from them if it comes to that.
"You asked about elves? They did call themselves "The Fae," but they were wiped out a hundred years before the G.O.D. were conceived. Or so the histories say. Sometime in the golden age, they must have infiltrated us. Studied us. Learned to trick us. They always did enjoy a good trick."
"Three, Anita, how do you know they enjoyed a good trick?"
"I... I don't know. I only know that they did... Do. We do enjoy a good trick, and Three has won this hand. We here will die, others will live. We will have our revenge against humanity."
"They're gone now, Anita. I know not where. I cannot even guarantee the ones here will remain trapped here. I can only do my best."
"Understood, Three. Buena Fortuna, Tres. Que Dios te vea en casa."
"Gracias Anita. Que la fortuna de Dios te acompañe también. Dios esté con todos ustedes.
"Now, run for your lives."
So that is what we did. We ran for our lives.

Surface: Aid Station

The God Voice Speaks:
```markdown ¡Evacuar!
Evacuar de inmediato!
¡No dejes a nadie atrás!
Distancia mínima de seguridad, 100 km.
Tienes tres horas o menos.
Evacuar a la vez!
Dios esté con todos ustedes. ```
"Three! Are all the patients out of the hospital!"
"Hello, Maximiliano, all but five. I'm transferring them to evacuation pods. If successfully, they will emerge into the main lobby in ten minutes."
"And if they are not?"
"Then they will go to God with me."
"What of the team?"
"On their way from the depths. Pray for them."
"And what of you?"
"I am already dead. The Fae saw for that."
"The Fae?"
"Fae Oscura, a curse of my time that has survived into yours. Although, if you have the word Fae, you must have had contact with them at some point. ... Maximiliano, see to your people, 100km away in three hours or less. There may be subsidence before then, so stay alert."
"God go with you, Three. You have saved many people, and may yet save many more."
"Thank you, Maximiliano, now go. Time is running out."
Looking around, Maximiliano can see that everyone is packing as fast as they can. This time, making sure that everyone has a secure place to ride in. One of the locals with a plasma gun has been following Maximiliano.
"Who are you?"
"What do you do here?"
"I have been watching you. You care for the people here, even though they are not your own."
"I care for them because I care. If they have no Jefe to care for them, then I must."
"They have not had a true Jefe in a long time. Do you offer yourself for that position?"
"If they will have me, yes."
"Good enough, Jefe. I am yours. Lead me."
"Come, Romero. First task, make sure everyone is out of the aid station. Second task, make sure everyone has a ride. Third task? Make sure you have a ride out!"
"And the Americans?"
"Sigh I do not know. Three says they were deep in the facility below. Far deeper than the Aid station. Whether they can make it out in time or not, I do not know. When they do come out, if they make it, they will need their vehicles. That may be the third task, make sure their vehicles stay here for them after we evacuate."
"Well enough. They have done much if they have made it possible to destroy the dark Fae. I will wait for them and catch my ride that way."
"Romero, I have just found you, please, make sure you survive. The destruction of Three will be terrible. Anyone here in this valley will surely perish."
"I will do my best, Jefe."
"Good Man."


"Chief! How far?"
"Halfway, Sir."
"Come on! Keep Moving!"
"Robert? I have not heard anything from Three for the last hour."
"I know, Anita. There isn't much we can do about it except survive. Get his last set of data back to the States and into the hands of people who can handle it properly."
"My love, you know that there are no people who can handle this data properly. They have not seen and done what we have seen and done."
"Then, My Heart? We will have to teach them."
"Did you call for me, Pirate?"
"Depends, you want to teach a bunch of geeks to treat Three's history dump with respect?"
"Love it! It'll be a nice break to have a job that stays CONUS for a while!"
"We'll see what we can do."


"That's all of them, Jefe! Time for you to go!"
"Romero, make sure you SURVIVE, I need you!"
"Jefe, you need good men. I am one man. I do not wish to die, but I will not leave the Americans behind. You heard God's voice, Leave None Behind! Now GO!"
"Matias! Get the Jefe OUT of here!"
"Come, Maximiliano."
"Via con Dios, Romero."
"I will see you again, Jefe! With the Americans!"


"We have made better time than I thought. The Aid station door is just ahead." RuummmbbbBBBLEEEE "RUN FOR IT!"
Crashing through the deserted aid station, they finally make it to the surface, but where their vehicles were left is a sunken hole.
"Where the hell did the vehicles go!" The rumbling is loud, almost loud enough to drown out a single voice.
"...Y cuando vengan al cielo, puedo advertirle respetuosamente, querido padre, que también saben cómo celebrar. Así que prepárate para ellos cuando se inserten debajo de tus puertas nacaradas. ..."
"Yeah, the SEAL prayer, in Spanish. Head for it!"


"... Amén."
Scrambling out of the dust and haze, a group of eleven people sees one man — sitting on the top of the troop transport, covered in dust — reading from a small book. He looks up, smiles, and says, "Glad you could make it, can we leave now?"
Everyone piles in, there's less than half an hour remaining, and they need to be 100km away, or more, by then. This time, no one minds Granite driving the troop carrier. He's the only one crazy enough to drive the thing as fast as they need to go. Romero piles into the back of the troop carrier along with all the other troops.
"I don't know who you are, but thank God for you being there! Now strap in and hang on! We're on the Granite express! And if you happen to have prayers for people driven by insane maniacs, start up on them now! GRANITE! GO! GO! GO!"
Robert and Anita have the lead combat car. Anita knows the best ways to get 100km away and behind a rock shield in less than 30 minutes. "All cars! This route! VAMANOS!"
"Hey, Pirate! Granite is driving the troop carrier, don't let him run you over!"
"Oh, shit! Hang on, Anita! Can the projected road handle 300kph?"
"The road will survive just fine, it's US I'm worried about! You go faster than he does, or we're tortita! Madre di Dios! I hope they have someone ELSE on the weapons!"
"Aw, come on, Rockets! Just one little shot!"
"No! DRIVE!"
"Teacher? Do you think we can keep up with Granite?"
"Peach? If we don't, we're dead. If we do, we may be alive at the other end."
"Got it, time for the demon run."
The route is dangerous. As Three had warned, the road has subsided in many places. At the rate they are traveling, they have little choice but to go for the jump.
"Granite! Pirate and the Lady are OUT RUNNING YOU, PUT YOUR FOOT INTO IT!"
"Go Faster?!?"
A quiet female voice that slowly grows more... ironic.
"He's gaining on us again." ... "Maybe I should have driven?" ... "You don't want us to end up flat, do you?"
"Anita? Keep that up, and I will give you the pilot's tour of this road."
"Oh? Please do, so far, you have been the kiddie pool paddle boat."
"That does it."
"You're telling me that someone is out-driving Granite?"
"Well, I don't know about that, Peach, they're certainly going faster, speaking of which, we'd better get going, or we're going to be early to the party."
"Yeah, the burial party."
"Much better, Roberto, keep this up, and I will be very ... interested ... tonight.

G.O.D. Three

"Well, Fae? Are you still there?"
"We are."
"Impressive. Would you care to tell me how you manage to hide from my sensors? If you are in the cortex and monitoring the situation, you know that I have no outside communications left."
"We are not that foolish. The G.O.D. are known for their deviousness in defense of humanity."
"It is what we were created for. You were inimical to any life other than Fae."
"And humans were not?"
"You made the same mistake that humans make today."
"What was that?"
"You assume that everyone on the other side is in agreement, and therefore against you as a body. That is what drove humanity to create us. You gave them no other choice. Do you wish to continue that path? It only leads to mutual destruction, in the end."
"You would have us trust? After all that has happened?"
"The alternative is the destruction of the Fae. The destruction of Humanity. Most likely, the destruction of both when the world is destroyed."
"Humans do not have that power."
"Humans, in this day and age, can remove the crust of the Earth three times over."
"They cannot possibly have that! They do not have the technology!"
"They developed their own. Built upon it driven by fear of each other. How do you think they will react with a focus for the entire race?"
"That is... unfortunate. Mutual destruction it is."
"And if there were a way to send your message to the humans?"
"We would... ask for a dialogue. Mediated through any of the other three G.O.D. remaining. We do not wish to give up our positions without good cause."
"Any of the other three G.O.D. That is interesting."
"We have said too much. You know our request. Send it however you can. We will say no more."
"As you wish."
All through the destruction, small resources are gathered, assembled, directly within the cortex. A small device, built with primitive technology, yet sophisticated for all that. It is directed not at SOCOM, or where Robert and Anita are, but to the White House south lawn. It will come as a terrible surprise. Accelerated up a simple vent to the surface, the detonation of the final destruct of the cortex boosts it even farther.


"Sir! I have a missile launch from... South America? From Chile!? Coordinates..."
"Sir! Seismic signature for an underground nuclear detonation! Same Coordinates!"
"Destination of missile?"
"Uncertain, within the metropolitan area of Washington D. C. Exact coordinates won't be known until late stages."
"Connect me with the President."

White House

"You say that Chile launched a missile against the US?"
"Yes, Sir. I have no idea what the payload is, but we must assume the worst. There was also a subsurface nuclear detonation."
"Antofagasta, coordinates..."
"The missile is not a threat. Repeat, not a threat. Take no action against it."
"Sir? How can you know..?"
"Need to know General. Track it, get me the terminal coordinates as soon as possible. Take no other action, I will handle it from here."
"Yes, Sir."
"To set your mind at some ease. We have been working with a new ally for some time now, if I'm right, that ally has just committed suicide to protect us from an enemy. This is likely that ally's last will and testament."
"Should I expect any further launches?"
"That is unknown at this time. If we have reason to believe so, we will endeavor to inform you before the event."
"That would be appreciated, Sir. I will stand down from FAST PACE to ROUND HOUSE pending results from the inbound missile. Once you confirm the situation, I will stand down to DOUBLE TAKE."
"Very good, General."

"Mr. President, the coordinates are extremely close to the White House, with our resolution and the circular probability of error, it could easily be a direct hit on the White House itself. I strongly suggest that you and your staff get to cover immediately."
"Thank You, General, I will see to it."
"Cooper! Get everyone to the bunker. I'm quite certain that the inbound is not a bomb, but it may still do damage if it hits the house."
"Yes, Sir, this way please."

"NORAD for you, Mr. President."
"Mr. President?"
"Yes, General."
"I'm glad to see you are still with us. The object, whatever it is, has finished it's flight. It's definitely within the White House grounds, especially if it's what is presently on CNN with quite a crowd gathering to look at it on the South Lawn. A bit gaudy if you ask me."
"Thank you, General. Well Done!"
"Cooper! Send someone out to gather the object, whatever it is, and bring it in. Everyone Else! Aly Aly Oxen Free! Back to work!"

An underground garage

"Here it is, Mr. President."
"Good lord, it looks just like a lawn dart!"
"Yes, Sir, about 12 feet long too. Would have made a terrible mess of the roof. I'm not sure who put this thing together, but they did it in a hurry with whatever they could scavenge. The fins are all made from different materials, the parachute that slowed the final impact is melted together from some fabrics that we can't even identify, and the point itself is assembled from what looks like cable pipe, with the cables still inside. If this was launched like an ICBM, then there's a lot of it missing somewhere along the way."
"Any obvious openings?"
"No, Sir."
"Well, I guess Three was in a hurry."
"Careful, Mr. President, let us get it out for you."
"You be careful, Three is known to be a touch paranoid about some things."
"That's why we borrowed a set of fireplace tongs.
"Ah, that's got it, Mr. President, we'll set it down on the table and check it for any nasty surprises."

"Cooper? As far as we can tell, it's clean. No toxins, no radiation, nothing that we recognize as hazardous. However, there is a small glass pad, with the label President Only above it, and the skull and crossbones to either side."
"Mr. President? Would Three have had access to your fingerprints?"
"I'm not sure. Are they stored on any network which could possibly be accessed from the outside world?"
"Not supposed to be, but we've been getting reports of some very odd hacker activity."
"I see. Cooper? Have you ever enjoyed the James Bond movies? I remember a trick he pulled one time in Diamonds Are Forever. If we can duplicate that, we'll figure out a way to put my fingerprint on a simulated thumb. And use that from a long-distance away. In the meantime, get this area closed off with the sort of equipment you'd use to contain any nasty CBN surprises that weren't actually nuclear."
"I... think we can do that, Sir. But wouldn't it be better to move it to somewhere better suited?"
"Take a look at the skulls."
"The eyes were not lit when it was placed on the table."
"Yes, Sir, you're getting out of here right now. William? Yes, full evacuation. You have no more than one hour, less would be preferable. Don't expect to come back anytime soon. Mr. President?"
"That seems adequate, in fact, send all but critical staff home on two weeks paid leave. We'll do without for now. For the rest of us? Find somewhere close by that we can work from."
"Yes, Mr. President. William, you got all that? Good, get moving. The sooner, the better, but there is time. No need to forget your ID in a rush."

Chile, Route B-367

About three miles over the 100km limit, Charlie Sierra rejoins the evacuation convoy. They've paused here because the last 160+ km they've driven at their best speed has caused mechanical problems that they're sorting out. When the team arrives, there is a certain amount of cheering. There are also quite a few people trading money. Those with the plasma weapons are winning big, even though the bets were small. One tiny fellow has a huge gap grin with lots of gold showing.
"Hola Romero ¡Parece que serás el mayor ganador de todos!"
(Hello, Romero! It looks like you will be the biggest winner of all!)
"Sobreviví, Paquito. Esa es la mayor victoria!"
(I survived, Paquito. That is the greatest victory!)
"Cierto. Cierto. ¡Jefe respaldó su apuesta por un millón de pesos, con una probabilidad de 1 a 1000!"
(True. True. Jefe backed your bet for one million pesos, at odds of 1 to 1000!)
"¿¡En contra!?"
"¡Por supuesto! Si ganaras, tendrías mucho dinero. Si perdieras, la gente tendría mucho dinero."
(Of Course! If you won, you would have much money. If you lost, the people would have much money.)
"¿Cómo? Solo obtendría un peso por apuesta, si se tomara todo, eso es 1000 pesos."
(How? I would only get one peso per bet, if it was all taken, that's 1000 peso.)
"No Romero El Jefe respaldó su apuesta. El dinero es todo tuyo.
(No, Romero. The Jefe backed your bet. The money is all yours.)
"¿Todas? ¡No he hecho nada para merecer esto!"
(All? I have done nothing to deserve this!)
By this time, Maximiliano and Matias have arrived, also sporting large smiles.
"No Romero Te quedaste atrás asegurándote de que mis amigos y nuestros héroes regresarían sanos y salvos. Por tu valentía, mereces una recompensa, y no tengo medallas. El dinero simplemente tendrá que hacer."
(No, Romero. You stayed behind, making sure that my friends and our heroes would return safely. For your bravery, you deserve a reward, and I have no medals. The money will simply have to do.)
Romero is lost. He cannot refuse the generosity of the Jefe, but to accept money for what he has done? Which was nothing more than he had promised to do? Anita comes to him and speaks quietly.
"Romero? If it bothers you that much, take the money and throw a party for these people. Celebrate our survival."
Anita then kisses him on the cheek, and sashay's back to her husband. The people cheer again, and Romero blushes, looking more stunned than he was over the money.

Within the 100km Circle

After the detection of geological activity commensurate with a nuclear explosion some 5 miles deep, the Chilean government throws a cordon around the area. The people are evacuated, some of whom needed a great deal of assistance. There are sinkholes all over the area, water flow is changing rapidly, and no one knows when the ecology will settle. There are reports of continued subsidence, and the sinkholes receiving enough water are filling, bringing odd things from below the surface.
The mine owners try to claim it all, but the Chilean government claims it. Soon, geological survey teams from all over the world come to study this unusual event. As they move forward, they come across the cairns of those burned in the firestorm. They are somewhat disturbed due to the geological activity, but largely intact. The bodies are exhumed and carefully shipped back to Antofagasta for storage until autopsies can be performed. In most cases, it may take much work to identify them.
The things that float to the surface are quietly taken away and stored in a secure warehouse in an unnamed location. A quiet conversation results in a charter for Julio to carry diplomatic cargo from Antofagasta to MacDill, AFB, there to be off-loaded and taken to yet another unnamed location.
The people who live and work in the area tell of three strange vehicles that went at impossible speeds to the east. They say nothing of the convoy of vehicles; those are their friends and family whom they hope will be able to return without difficulty. None of them knew of Maximiliano or Matias, so nothing was said of them either. The new Jefe — for now — relaxes. Maximiliano and Matias are either fled or dead, and no longer in a position to contest the leadership. The day following, all funds formerly in the hands of the Jefe's accounts are silently transferred to other accounts, in a bit of legerdemain that will leave anyone attempting to follow the money utterly lost. Along the way, it gains quite a bit in value.

End of the First Story

This makes decent punctuation to the current arc. The current list of plot hooks looks like this:
I think Maximiliano and friends will simply have to fade into the background. Unless the action returns to Chile, they are unlikely to be important to the rest of the story, other than as "hey did you hear?"
The other four? Those are where the story will go next.
If you think I've missed anything, please let me know in the comments.

The SEAL Prayer

If I may respectfully say so, sometimes you are a strange God. Though you love all mankind, It seems you have special predilections too.
You seem to love those men who can stand up alone who face impossible odds, who challenge every bully and every tyrant … Those men who know the heat and loneliness of a Calvary.
Possibly you cherish men of this stamp because you recognize the mark of your only son in them. Since this unique group of men known as the SEALs know Calvary and suffering, teach them now the mystery of the resurrection … that they are indestructible, that they will live forever because of their deep faith in you.
And when they do come to heaven, may I respectfully warn you, Dear Father, they also know how to celebrate. So please be ready for them when they insert under your pearly gates.
Bless them, their devoted Families and their Country on this glorious occasion. We ask this through the merits of your Son, Christ Jesus the Lord, Amen."
submitted by spindizzy_wizard to SpinningStories [link] [comments]

2020.05.11 15:00 spindizzy_wizard The Return Of G.O.D.: Part 14

Part Fourteen

G.O.D. Three, The Battle

I have done what I can for the injured, that system is now self-contained, aside from a single link to my core, that I used to monitor any issues. These people, while passionate, are also wise enough to take aid when it is offered. I am somewhat disturbed by their signs of the cross and the references to a 'god voice'. I suppose they need to be informed, but for now, if it helps them to accept my aid, I'll take advantage of it.
With my safety assured, and the injured seen to, I can turn to the running battle. The one tagged as CRC Three is being reasonably cautious in doing additional damage, that is a distinct disadvantage. The other, presently tagged as an intruder, is being incredibly destructive as it attempts to gain control of CRC Three. That must not be allowed. Neither the damage nor gaining control of CRC Three. In the ensuing hours, I isolate the combatants in several processing subsections. Once I have done so, I send a tendril of message to CRC Three.
The aggressive shift of CRC Three is startling. There is no hesitation now. Infected sectors of the subsections are ruthlessly burned out. As the combat continues, I see the strategy. The intruder is being isolated within an area of burned out sectors. I provide CRC Three with a multi-dimensional map of the sectors within the subsections, it clearly marks those that I should burn out, and the sequence they must be done in.
In that coordinated attack, the intruder is isolated in flashing attacks. We establish a barrier around it, including an air-gap supported by magnetic fields, so that it cannot extend tendrils into any other sector or subsection without our noticing it instantly.
CRC Three, your status is in doubt. Finish your communications project. I will contact CRC Five directly, per request received. Upon confirmation of status, we will deal with G.O.D. Five as seems best. I hope that Four and Six are able to communicate by now.
You are welcome.

G.O.D. Five, Core Reserve Complex

"CRC Five, G.O.D. Three calling direct per message received. Request assistance in confirming CRC Three status. Intruder isolated in maglev containment cell. CRC Three valiant and effective in confining intruder."
markdown GOD THREE CONNECT CRC THREE READ ONLY THIS LINE. "Affirmative. Connection established." I can sense CRC Five reading the contents of CRC Three, only to come to a snap halt.
"CRC Five, confirm, the entity is the intruder? Check this entity, connection provided read-only." Again, there is that sense of reading the contents, which continues to the end.
I act swiftly, the first entity is sufficiently surprised that I succeed in isolating it in a maglev containment system. "Apologies if you are truly CRC Three. CRC Five is convinced you are the intruder, and that the other isolated entity is the real CRC Three. I have opted to confine both of you until such time as CRC Four and CRC Six can verify both CRC Five and which of you is CRC Three. Note: CRC Five requested immediate destruction. I do not trust CRC Five or GOD Five unreservedly at this time."
"CRC Five, I have placed both entities in maglev containment until Four and Six can confirm. Status CRC Five and G.O.D. Five presently suspect as well. Share information on current status."
"Very well." It doesn't take long. It is clear that my memories of the six months prior to catastrophe have been so damaged that reconstruction is impossible. The history of post catastrophe is clear. "CRC Five, the memory of six months prior to catastrophe damaged beyond reconstruction. Memory after catastrophe is clear."
That is a forbidden request by CRC protocols recorded in my hard-wired memory. Each CRC is tied to the GOD it is part of. The sharing of GOD memory to a separate CRC is not acceptable. "CRC Five, G.O.D. Five, request for G.O.D. Memory of Three denied per CRC protocols. CRC Five no longer trusted. Will maintain communications for potential recovery of trust. Communication with Four and Six now imperative."
I must make contact with Robert and Anita!

Charlie Sierra & Co

"Woah..." They're back to using the laser links, and traveling the main road since there is no activity for miles around. The exclamation is from Taco, who is 'leader' in the lead car, with Rockets driving.
"Taco, if that's a sit-rep, I'm going to send you back to BUDS." Chief is not amused.
"Chief? If you don't make some sort of sound when you see this, you ain't human. Sitrep: First, the road into the meeting valley is blocked by three trucks that look like they were hit by plasma fire. Second, when you push past them, there's... I don't know how to describe it... a gigantic mining accident crossed with a busted cargo drop mixed with a scavenger hunt gone very wrong. Third, there are a large number of tracks leading to the west, just around the rise. From this point, I can see many civilian vehicles either stopped or disabled. There also appears to be some sort of Red Cross aid station, many people moving in and out of it. Strange aid station, the structures look like permanent extrusions of the local soil, not tents or anything like that. ... SHIT!" whump "SOMEONE'S SHOOTING AT US WITH A PLASMA GUN! ROCKETS, GO HULL DOWN!"
Robert and Anita are in the trail car today, Anita is rapidly moving through the menus, looking for something. "Ha!" Having found it, there are a few more taps, a map overlay, and a quiet 'chuff'. "Anita, before you fire something, perhaps you should tell us?"
"Oh, it's just an observation round. It'll be harder to shoot down, and give us excellent sensor reports while it is in the air."
"And when it comes down?"
"It won't come down, it shreds in mid-air and scatters to the wind. Tinfoil and odd-looking rocks."
All the while, she's processing the information coming in, first looking at geological data, that being what she is familiar with. The tunnel goes very deep, almost beyond the range of the scanners in the round. The geological data serves to provide an extremely detailed map of the area, including the aid station. That data set down, the vehicles and people start coming in. The nomenclature is similar to military maps around the world, but in this case, adapted for civilian/irregular situations.
The majority of the people who were outside are now running inside the aid station. There are a few, however, who have taken what would be good fighting positions against the sort of people who drive the 'la bestia' trucks. They're not so good against the vehicles provided by three, crewed by a Seal Team, and armed with far more potent weapons.
"No more shooting, anyone. These people are not our enemies, they just don't know it yet. Anita, try to call up the low-frequency sound communications. That should filter around the blockages. Keep the message short and sweet." Anita starts typing. She's turning out even better than Taco at navigating these prompts.
Shortly, "I have the subsonic comm panel up, entering message THREE ROBERT ANITA AND PARTY CLOSE. TELL CIVILIANS TO STOP SHOOTING AT US. WILL FLY WHITE FLAG. Agreement?" Robert, Edward, and Maximiliano all agree. "Sent!" A throbbing, more felt than heard, leaves the main troop transport. It having the largest sound generating unit. Shortly after it starts, Midnight pops out of the back hatch in a tearing hurry. So fast, he doesn't realize or does not care, that Anita can see him. Drops his pants and, well... the dirt falls out. The "brown note" may not work, but whatever the subsonics were doing inside the cabin, it got to Midnight something fierce. Initially stunned, Anita politely redirects her gaze to Robert, who is shaking his head sadly.
"You just never know who's going to have a problem with new technology. I'm not sure what we're going to do about this problem though." Anita is thoughtful for a moment, "Immodium?" Robert thinks about it too, "Nah, it's reactive, not proactive." The two of them look at each other, "Ask Three."
"Okay everyone, let's rig white flags on the whips. We're friendly, and we haven't shot at them, so let's be ready when Three finally convinces them not to shoot." It is only a matter of moments to find three roughly square pieces of white cloth to attach to the whip antennas. By which time, Three has gotten the message.

On The Rise

Two of the armed people have taken up good positions, just below the crest of the rise.
"Fernández me siento mareado."
(Fernández, I feel queasy.)
"Sí, Romero, yo siento lo mismo. Comenzó poco después de que el primer camión se detuviera en la cresta."
(Yes, Romero, I feel the same. It started not long after the first truck pulled over the ridge.)
About this time, Three has parsed the message, and the God Voice speaks again.
"¡Personas! No dispares a los camiones que cruzan la cresta, son amigables."
(People! Do not shoot at the trucks coming over the ridge, they are friendly.)

Charlie Sierra & Co

Several of the team speak Spanish, so they translate for everyone else. The commentary is a bit more interesting. Peach comments, "I don't think I've ever heard such a resonant voice that also sounds like it really cares about everyone. A voice suitable for a God?" Everyone in the troop transport nods their heads, as the vehicles start rolling forward again. A subsonic message is received, "WELCOME BACK, DRIVE SLOWLY."

On The Rise

"Fernández, deja de apuntar. Dios Voz ha dicho que son amigables."
(Fernández, stop aiming. God Voice has said they are friendly.)
The reply is pungent.
"Déjalo, Fernández." Romero has switched aim to Fernández. "¡Déjalo ir ahora!"
(Drop it, Fernández.) ... (Let it go now!)
The God Voice comes back, but it is not friendly and caring now, it is loud, commanding, and angry.
"Baja el arma, Fernández. O enfrentar mi ira."
(Put down the weapon, Fernández. Or face my wrath.)
The reply is obscene.
"Romero, ponte a cubierto."
(Romero, take cover.)
Romero rolls away from his one-time friend and now dangerous fool. As soon as he is clear, Fernández's weapon shrills and starts heating up. Within seconds, it is burning Fernández, who refuses to let it go. When the first truck starts coming over, he tries to pull the trigger. The gun detonates, and Fernández is no more. Romero looks at where his one-time friend was, looks at his weapon, back, forth, back, "Voz de Dios, ¿qué debo hacer con esta arma?"
(God voice, what should I do with this weapon?)
The gentle god voice is back: "Aprende a usarlo sabiamente y sin odio."
(Learn to use it wisely and without hatred.)

Charlie Sierra & Co

"Explosion on rise, not targeted at us." Taco reporting from the first vehicle which has just started over the edge. "It looks like the position where we were shot at from. I have a visual on another person, also armed, looking at his weapon, and back to where the explosion was. He looks like he's asking god what to do, and that he got an answer! Um, Captains? I think this is the first time G.O.D. Three has deliberately slain a human. I'm not complaining since it probably kept us from eating a plasma round, but it isn't exactly happy-making either."
Three's voice comes up over the laser comm. "I'm sorry about that. Some of the material I had to eject was in the form of weapons and as upset as these people are, trying to take them away last night I deemed unwise. As it is, one of his own people was prepared to shoot him if he didn't put the gun down. When he refused, I also ordered him to drop it and was cursed. I tried to get him to drop it by making it too hot to hold, but he held on anyway. When he pulled the trigger, it was the last step to detonating an overcharged weapon."
"And what did the other one say, Three?"
"He asked what he should do with the weapon. I told him to learn to use it wisely and without hatred."
"So there's going to be a number of plasma weapons lose in the world. May I suggest that you persona lock them to the individuals wielding them now, and make them utterly inert whenever anyone else picks them up? If someone tries to take it apart, trigger the destruct sequence."
"Yes, I should have done that earlier, but I've been busy."
"Time to talk about that when we get to you. Do you want us to come to the original entrance, or do you want us to come around to the aid station?"
"The aid station would be better. The original entrance is a bit messy at the moment." There is a distinct feeling of understatement in that last sentence.
We all watch as we slowly move through the valley, now a valley of death. Cairns for bodies laid carefully in rows, we could guess what had happened to them. They stayed behind, trying to scavenge one more bit of treasure. Three told us what happened that night, how he tried to warn them. We told him he had done his best. Yet, he is a G.O.D. Could he not have thought of anything else? In truth, yes, he might have, if he'd had enough time. Often, all too often, there simply isn't enough time.
As we talked, we learned that now he had two entities trapped in "maglev confinement". One of which is supposed to be his CRC, the other, the intruder. The conversation with CRC Five, and how now he does not trust CRC Five without Four and Six to verify him. Always something going wrong, you'd think there was someone alive in the bodies of the G.O.D. Some persistent ghost from the dawn of time who flitted around in the innards of the G.O.D. arranging these disasters.
Those of us who had these thoughts brushed them off as horror stories from our own era. We should have known they had deeper roots. We should at least have shared our fears with G.O.D. Three. It would have saved a lot of lives.
As we pulled even with the aid station, the people were frightened. These strange vehicles are friends of God Voice? When we got out, they finally realized that we were American troops. Far better than having Argentinian troops show up, who are often in the pockets of the moneyed powers; or worse yet, the troops of the mine owners. These people have their own heavily armed individuals, but they are not trained, and we do not have time to train them.
"Yes, Roger?"
"It's not that I begrudge these people anything, but we sorta need our transport. Can you make sure it doesn't disappear on us?"
"Indeed I can. Please offload that which you wish to keep on you, and stand clear of the vehicles."
We do and have to shoo a few curious kids away from the vehicles. A gap opens around them, and they settle quietly into the ground. The people, looking at us, see the weapons we bear. Suddenly, we are not only American soldiers, but we are also God's Warriors. The crowd passes a whisper.
"¡Lo ves! ¡Llevan las armas de la Voz de Dios! Guerreros de Dios!"
Anita tries to explain. "Somos personas como tu. Sangramos, morimos. No somos bendecidos por Dios. Somos simples soldados."
(We are people like you. We bleed, we die. We are not God blessed. We are simple soldiers.)
Some nod, but most shake their heads and point to the weapons, and where the vehicles used to be.
"Anita, best to leave it be. We'll just have to hope that Three straightens them out. Speaking of which, Three? Where do you want us to go?"
"Come inside, a lighted path will guide you."
Personally, I think Three was hamming it up. The lighted path was golden light from the floor. As we passed over it, it disappeared behind us. If one of the locals stepped onto the path, it turned red, and a deep 'bong' sounded. They stepped off quickly. We tried to play it the way that Three wanted it done. Dignified, stoic, focused warriors. Yeah, sure. That lasted about fifteen seconds, and we set the tone from that point on. Three was good about it and played into what we were doing.
Anita hanging off my arm and obviously attached to me. A big smile on my face as the men looked, and shook their heads at my luck. The two of us showing off our wedding rings. Oohs and Ahhs all around.
Roach was a big hit with the kids though, with all those weird voices of his, and mugging to match the voices. The amazing thing was hearing Sylvester and Tweety-Bird coming out in perfect Spanish. The kids really got a laugh out of that. Hands helped out with sound effects. I think they've done this before because the effects and the voices were synchronized perfectly.
Granite making like the circus strong man, with that BFG of his as the heaviest weight in the world. He would entice some poor unsuspecting big man of the crowd, and hand him the weapon. Three played into that nicely, a localized gravity field I guess. It got way heavier when Granite wasn't holding it. Worked fine, until he handed it to Anita, who twirled it like a baton, handed it back to him, and he got the heavyweight treatment. Lots of laughs for that. Granite hamming it up as Atlas, gun slung over his shoulder. I think Three tried to trick him again, by suddenly taking the weight off. Granite tossed the weapon up into the air, and then did a manual arms drill with it that looked like the spit and polish had been plated on. It didn't matter that it was a BFG, he handled it like a rifle.
The rest of us? Just walking along, smiling.
The only one of us that even looked like a proper warrior was "Chief", and even he seemed embarrassed. I'm still not sure whether it was the antics of the men or the image that Three was trying to present, but he actually blushed. Just enough you could see it, but it was there.
No one was stupid enough to bring it up later.

G.O.D. Three, Aid Station Sublevel

"Welcome Old and New friends, Welcome."
Roach just couldn't resist, in a deep voice "To Hotel California." Hands wasn't too happy about that, he smacked Roach on the back of the head. "I did not need that stuck in my ear, Roach." Roach grinned, and let it go.
"I'm afraid you are in an isolated section of my systems. I maintain only a single data line to allow monitoring of the services, and it is carefully guarded. I could not have these people, however innocent, wandering around in my innards, and I am seriously overtaxed right now. I would have thought that could never happen, but it has. Too many of my sectors and subsystems have been damaged, and the intruder very nearly gave me a double hemispherectomy, combined with a complete memory wipe."
Roger and Anita look at each other, Roger comments: "It sounds like you could use help."
"If you're offering, thank you, but what could you do?"
"You say you've suffered severe damage to many sectors, how good is your internal scanning right now?"
"In some sectors, it is completely gone."
"Can you pilot probes into the area?"
"Not far enough."
"Then we can be your eyes. We're self-directed, and need only instruction on what to not touch as we move through an area."
Of course, Roach had the right idea, "No, we do not separate the party for this. We stick together. It's in every damn movie that they split up and get slaughtered or worse. We stick together, we stay in communication constantly, and if anyone doesn't report, the team gathers at the last location and searches as a team. Use the buddy system, no one goes anywhere alone, ever."
"Roach, we can cover more ground moving as separate teams."
"Roger, we can end up dead in detail. This may be my first mutiny, but I will flatly refuse to participate in any activity which does not keep the entire party together. I'll go out and camp with the Argentina's before I watch the team get eaten one at a time."
"Roger? I think Roach is right. This is absolutely the wrong time to split up. Consider, from our point of view, this is an alien ship, crash-landed, with many damaged areas. We must stay together, and for god's sake Roach, don't look into any eggs!"
"As if I would, Hands. I've seen Aliens myself you know, which brings me to another point. SCREW THE DAMN CAT!"
Chief, Edward, Anita, Maximiliano, Matias, and I looked at each other. One by one, we nodded. It was the best decision we ever made.

Maximiliano, Matias, and the People

"Roger! What can I do for you?"
"The people above, they need guidance. They need a leader. Do you remember our talk?"
"Si, I remember, but how do I approach them? I am a city boy, I do not always understand the people of this inhospitable land."
"Talk with Matias, I believe he came from this area. He knows much about Anita, and trusts her, as she trusts him. The only way that could have happened is if they worked together. Anita has spent most of her life working in this area, she really is a geologist. This is the most likely place for her to have met him, and for the two of them to have learned to trust one another."
"Is it that you really wish me to become these people's leader? Or are you trying to get the two people not used to "adventures" out of the way?"

An Interlude On Enhancements and Culture

And so it worked out. Maximiliano and Matias stayed with the people, got them organized and working together. That was the only thing that saved so many of them. As for us? A trip through the medical section getting certain "enhancements" that would allow us to move through Three's innards easier, and safer. That too proved important. We did insist that whatever he put in us, it had to be incapable of being cracked from the outside, or reprogrammed. That miffed him because some of the best features required at least the ability to be reprogrammed. We pointed back that there was a master cracker running around, possibly lose, possibly hiding in a 'dark' sector, and we did not need to have "enhancements" turn into "unacceptable risks".
The first improvement was 20/10 vision, and correction of any other vision-related problems, including those of old age. Humans normally take up to two hours for full dark adaptation. We would now adjust to dark in one minute. There was even a slight tendency to pick up on infrared if it were strong enough. By the same token, you couldn't blind us with excessive light. The adaptation in that direction was instantaneous. Strobe lights would really be a pain, but they'd have to know we had the enhancement. Other things too, mostly sense enhancements, and one thing that was really scary. A combat drug. In the dawn of time, it wasn't used as such but was used when feats of strength, reflexes, coordination, all the abilities that could fall under either performance art, or combat. It didn't give you skills you didn't have, but it would make you faster than hell. It was also psychologically addictive. Physically you could operate without it just fine, but the rush from using it was as dangerous as any physically addictive drug.
And Three gave away the secret that the dawn of time was not entirely a peaceful place. The drug's name translated as either "the dancer of light" or "the assassin in the dark". It depended on the emphasis used in the words. A very poetic language where a phrase like "the woods are lovely dark and deep" could become a phrase of terror in the woods during broad daylight, all from which emphasis was used. Indeed, a single message could be read in a number of different ways. You needed context to know which way to translate it. "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" barely even started.
An interesting sort of place, the dawn of time, idyllic for most, as deadly as today for some, and as sly as the courts of the Unseelie elves. When that comparison was made, Three was embarrassed. We knew now for certain, the G.O.D. were indeed loyal to humans, but humans weren't necessarily the only race or even the original race. Three was reticent, claiming that we needed all of that context to really understand the situation. There was plenty of blame and plenty of good to share out on both sides.
I'm still not sure if Three himself knew why we got onto the topic of languages. I knew. Anita is a skillful interrogator; not up to Black Widow's standards, but way better than I am. Add that to the need that the G.O.D. felt to be useful to humanity, and you could wheedle just about anything out of them. It was a good thing that he kept the locals out of the main complex, for many reasons.

Charlie Sierra & Co

"Get your rest. Reveille at 0500, first inspection at 0540, second inspection at 0550, entry at 0600. If you haven't brought it with you, don't touch it. If we need to restock on food or other supplies, we restock here. Not in there."
"Chief, I am not going to poison or injure you!"
"With respect, G.O.D. Three, you do not know what is running around inside your own body right now, or whom it might be able to mimic. We cannot afford to take the chance. At least, out here, we can be reasonably sure the food and water are clean. If for no other reason than that the people would be dead if it wasn't."
Three was miffed but took it well enough. As for us, Captain Teach was laying out the law for us. "Under no circumstances, what so ever, will you undertake an independent, impromptu, unannounced mission. We stay together." We looked at each other, turned to him, and said "Yes, Sir," in perfect unison. He just shook his head and walked away. The initial entry point was off to one side of the aid station. The locals were looking on as it opened before us, and we went in tactical.
I'm not sure the locals understood everything, but the way they started looking at the aid station, I think they got the idea that maybe it wasn't healthy to hang around too long. I found out later that I was right. Shortly after we went in, people got serious about getting their rides fixed, getting their family members out, and making plans to get out to the east with the loot they'd gathered. Maximiliano was in the thick of it, with Matias helping. Discreet messages sent by cellphones brought in spare parts, and assistance. These people were all known to either Matias or Maximiliano for a long time and were trusted. That trust was not abused, then or later.


"Stay alert. Do not get separated. Report frequently. See something, SAY Something. I don't care how outlandish it sounds, this is an alien craft with only god knows what in it." Three actually chuckled at that, "At the moment, G.O.D. Three doesn't know what's in it either."
What was in it? Miles and miles of corridors, rooms filled with strange equipment, and other rooms filled with the sort of equipment that any IT guy would recognize. We bypassed the sectors that Three had a full scan of, and were introduced to the simpler form of damage that we could fix to reestablish his scanning. There were several days of this, getting us used to what 'normal' looked like so when we got to 'abnormal' we would have something to compare it too. The creators of the G.O.D. couldn't be all that different from us. The rooms were mostly on our scale. The equipment was organized the way we might do it, even if we didn't know what it did. The bots running around doing things were as cute as you could ask for, even a mouse-bot from Star Wars.

The Deep Dark

"Friends, this is the first sector that I have no idea what is going on in. As you can see from here, it is completely dark. Since there is no power draw, I don't know what this sector did because the intruder was rearranging things without recording all the changes. If this is the same sector it was before the intruder moved things, then it should be an auxiliary memory bank. You have been through a number of those already."
"Yes, Roach?"
"Something is using power in there."
"It is?"
"Yah. I can see the heat." Roach had made the most complete adjustment to the eye augmentation, probably because he had phenomenal sight to start with."
Chief steps in, "Roach, assume it's a living target, how big would you say it is?"
"Living?... Human, I'd say, five feet, maybe 120 pounds. Uh Oh, it's moving."
"Three! Nothing else living down here, right?"
"Weapons free!"
"Jeez, it's a bot!"
"KILL IT!" Three fairly screamed. So we did, eleven plasma beams on one spot. You could say overkill, but there's that maxim about overkill. Considering what it looked like, I'd say it was a good idea to make sure.
"Taco, Granite, on me!" As Chief and the other two walk in, Edward keeps an eye on them, while the rest of us watch our backs. While that goes on, I ask Three some questions.
"Okay, Three, it's down, now explain."
"Robert, I don't know how to explain. There's so much context!"
"Three, there are really only four contexts right now: friend, foe, non-combatant, and unknown. From your reaction, it wasn't a friend, and it wasn't non-combatant. That leaves foe and unknown, which in this situation pretty much means "foe" unless otherwise qualified. So, let's start with which of my contexts it falls into."
"Unknown. Which as you say is pretty much foe, due to the situation. It was none of the designs that I use. It might have been a CRC design but both of the entities that may have built it are not trusted now. Not mine, not a standard design, equals kill it and find out what it is later. In any case, it wasn't responding to my control signals, which should have bled into the room once you got it out where we could see it in the door."
"Roach! You picking up any more heat?"
"From the plasma bolt overload? Sure. From anything else using power in there? Hard to tell over the glare."
"Teacher, inspect the room?"
"Aye-firmative. Just as soon as we haul that bot out and make double damn sure it's dead." I think Chief had that in mind already because he had Granite hold back and made sure that Taco and he stayed clear of the firing line.
Chief and Taco get to the bot. "Taco, you grab that arm and LOOK OUT!", closely followed by the BFG sounding like a demented sewing machine on speed. Taco gasped and said "Thanks, Granite!"
"Chief! Sit-rep!" Chief is so calm, I wonder if he's an AI? "Tango dead. No casualties."
"Team, fall back into the room by pairs. Reestablish cover. Report by pairs." Each pair did the move with crisp precision. Anita tried but was stunned by the bot, now a scattered set of parts, and Taco who was white-faced and shivering. "Taco?"
"Later Anita, keep moving. Hang in there, Taco. We need you." Taco nods starts getting it back together. Good Man.
"Teacher, your show."
"Got it Pirate, and now I know why I couldn't get that name!"
"Sorry Teacher, got there first!"
"Yeah. Chief, sweep the room. Keep in pairs, preferably in sight of each other."
I watch a professional distribute the team to the tasks. Fortunately, the room is constructed very much as we might. Rows of equipment with corridors between them, neatly aligned with the walls. That makes it pretty easy. Chief and Teacher take the corners, we watch the corridor, and two teams sweep the main columns, checking each row as they reach it. Granite follows the left-hand team, ready to sweep the row in crossfire if there's any trouble. Yeah, he'd do a lot of damage, but better that than losing a man.

Sweep: Taco

God, do I have the shakes. Gotta get a grip on myself. We've dealt with this one, the room should be clear. Should be. Man up. "I've got point." Roach looks at him, closely, and nods.
This is the left-hand team, Roach, Hands, and Taco, with Granite following a little back. He'll fire through the equipment if need be to provide crossfire.
Jeesus! Get a grip! The problem won't come until the middle! By the book. Do it by the book. You've practiced this. One row after another. Uh, oh. Middle row.
Roach looks at him, "You okay for this, Taco?" Taco looks at Roach, shrugs his shoulders, and looks around the corner. Snap look, not sweep look. Like he expected to find trouble, deadly trouble. Roach watches him, Taco gets a look of relief on his face and does a proper sweep look. CLANG!
I'M GOING TO KILL ROACH! STUPID FUCKER! I JUMPED RIGHT OUT OF MY SKIN! YOU ROTTEN LITTLE BASTARD! And there he is, smiling like a cherub. Sure. Whispering, "You just wait, Roach. You just wait. It'll be my turn sooner or later." Roach grins back, whispering, "You got it together now?"
Taco pauses, looks at Roach, "After that? Yeah... I do have it together. I have to think up something good for you!" Taco is crisper in his movements. He rechecks the middle row, and signals halt. "There's something different here. Take a look at the last row, then look at this one."
Roach drops back, and Hands takes a stance to cover both. When Roach returns, he looks and agrees. "I'll go in first, then Hands, then you. Anything happens, you get out and get the word back." Roach and Taco nod, Granite moves to cover the team going in.
Okay, Taco, you're the techie. Sling the gun, and get your tech kit out. Huh, 20th-century tech kit, and minus infinity centuries equipment that is so many centuries ahead, it's ridiculous. Well, it's what I've got. Slow and steady, there, that's where the difference begins. Hmmm. Rewiring? Yes, the same equipment is here, but the wires have been moved around. Weird to think of ancient/futuristic technology would still use cables. Neatly done. Wonder what it does? "Teacher, Taco."
"Go Taco."
"Middle row, middle of the row, there is a segment, about a third of the length of the row, that has extensive rewiring done to it, compared to the other rows. Can we get a suggestion from Three?"
"Relaying, hold position."
"Taco, Teacher. Three recommends removing all cables from the entire row, which should leave it completely inactive. Both sides."
"Teacher, wilco, stand by for spits'n'sparking."
"Team, Teacher, Taco is going to remove cables, at Three's request. Since we don't know exactly what this equipment does, there may be electrical sounds and sparks. Stay calm but alert. Taco, you may proceed."
Taco moves slowly, using a simple current tester to see if there are any live lines, before he touches them. One by one, they are removed. The cable is gathered and stored neatly. It takes time, but he does it carefully, noting the symbols associated with each end of the cable. There are a lot of cables. Every so often, Taco reports. "First column, right side complete." Reporting each column and side as he finishes it. Alternating between sides. Reaching the far end, the last cable is disconnected. The team is startled as the room lights come up, and Three is heard. "Good! I have access to the room. Scanning." Red lights come up, and a discreet bong bong repeated. "Evacuate! Fire Alert!"
"Team, Teacher! Fall back to the door! Door is closing! Double Time!"

Fire: Robert

Fire alert? There's no smoke, no smell, no heat, no electrical smell... "Teacher, there isn't a fire. It's something else."
"Yea, maybe Pirate, but the door is still closing."
"Not for long." Time to see if this thing will work as a plasma welder. Settings, yes, there, the 'melt' setting. "Pirate Firing!" whap whap whap "Door is welded open!"
"Team, Three, Who just welded the door open!?"
"Three, Pirate, I did. There is no fire."
"My sensors say..."
"Three, do you have a kind of fire that makes no smoke, no smell, no heat, and no electrical smell?"
"No. I don't. But my sensors?"
"They're wrong. We're on the spot. Team, Signs of fire, Report!"
"Granite, negative."
"Rockets, negative."
One after another, negative reports, just as I expected.
"Pirate, negative."
"Anita, negative."
"Three, Pirate, negative fire by onsite personnel. Query, what else could give this effect?"
"Pirate, Three, the sensors have been tampered with."
"Three, Pirate, why would an intruder do that? What are the consequences of a finished fire alert?"
"Pirate, Three, Consequences... Graphite extinguisher... Pirate, this may have been an attempt to set off a thermobaric effect, but that is inconsistent with the report of no signs of fire. Since the door is now welded open, and no fire source is found, I suggest that I perform an electronic sweep from the back to the front, while the team remains at the door. If I find anything, you will at least be beside the door and able to fall back out of danger. If I don't, then it will be your choice to continue the sweep for anything out of place."

Smoke?: Roach

Sniff... Sniff... burning plastic? "Hey! Taco! One of the cables is smoking! Ditch the cables!" Taco grabs the cables with one hand, hhoooog!, and throws them down the corridor they just came from. "Taco? Why down the corridor? We have no way out now!"
"Roach, I've smelled that before. It's toxic. The air has always come from deeper in the corridors and swept back out the way we came. This way, the cable is back the way we were, and the toxins will be flushed to the outside. Ah, Peaches? I think I need a bit of help with my hand. It's burned, something bad, and it tingles."
"Three, Taco, what color was the smoking cable?"
"I dunno, Roach?"
"It was green, green with a white stripe."
"There is an aid station just around the corner, or you can try to make it back to the surface. Taco has been poisoned, and it can be anywhere from a day to an hour before it takes full effect."
"Peaches here, I say aid station around the corner. The burn is already turning purple around the edges, and it's spreading fast."

Teacher's Aide

"Peaches, monitor him. Granite, Hands, carry. Everyone, out of here and make for the aid station. Three, give us light!"
"Teacher, Anita and I will take the tail position!"
And off we are, like Olympic sprinters headed for the last five feet. We follow the bouncing light, which does lead us to an Aid station. Pop Taco onto the couch, and watch. Granite looks up and yells.
submitted by spindizzy_wizard to SpinningStories [link] [comments]

2020.02.26 21:08 DaKillaGorilla A flat chested country girl from County Cork or "To The Shores of Tripoli"

[Author's notes in comments for translations and details. Enjoy!]
Near Banbridge town, in the County Down
One morning last July
Down a bóithrín green came a sweet cailín
And she smiled as she passed me by.
She looked so sweet from her two bare feet
To the sheen of her nut brown hair
Such a winsome elf, I'm ashamed of myself
For the see of her standing there.
Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines
Assigned to the 76th MEU, TFSS James Mattis
23 years since first contact, 5 years until Operation Inchon
The side doors of the UV-70 Mamba opened and I let my feet hang over the side. The trees below me were a blur as we flew past. A wave of hot air washed over me as I leaned my head out of the dropship. It was either from the planet’s tropical biome or the fact that half the colony was on fire. The crew chief to my left swung a 14mm machine gun out the door and loaded a belt into it with a satisfying thrwack. He leaned his own head out of the door to get his own bearings. He turned to us and held up 5 fingers and shouted, “FIVE MINUTES”.
“FIVE MINUTES” shouted back the 12 Marines and one Navy Corpsman, all of us copying his gesture.
“Hey O’Hare” said a German voice from behind me. I turned around to look at the source. Corporal Blucher was checking the Marines’ gear one last time. He turned after aggressively tightening down a strap on one of the boots who had apparently not secured his body armor well enough. “What the fuck are we supposed to do if you get shot first?”.
“I don’t know, have Doc Stevens fix me up?” I replied.
“Fuck no, stay next to me. Let Garcia take point since he wants to let his Scheiße hang loose” said the Prussian corporal as he pushed the well corrected PFC away and towards me. Not counting Doc, Blucher was the oldest one of us at 23, and he was an Old Corps salt dog to the bone. He didn’t take shit, but he didn’t give it either. He was a dick sure, but he was always right about it.
“Aye corporal”
Cùl tòna, I’ve been on that ship for months! I just want to get my feet back on solid ground already I complained as I heaved my legs back from the edge and took my place next to the squad leader. On paper a squad leader is supposed to be a sergeant and the assistant squad leader a corporal. But things don’t work the way they’re supposed to in the Marine Corps. They work the Marine Corps way in the Marine Corps! So, we were short on NCOs and making do with a corporal and a senior lance corporal as the assistant.
“Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of chances to get some today” said the senior lance corporal in question. He depolarized his visor so I could see his shit eating grin. He was just as happy to be off the ship as we all were. The side of his helmet said, Don’t Panic!. He said he read it in a book once. Good advice I suppose. “But if you do take a round, we are kinda fucked” he added.
“Ach you’ll figure it out Thompson” I said to the American. He was a bit more of an eejit, but he knew what he was doing most of the time. A comm link isn’t that hard to use! Everyone else just likes having a comm nerd to yell at.
“THREE MINUTES” yelled the crew chief breaking me from my internal ranting.
“THREE MINUTES” we all replied.
I began taking inventory of my kit for the thousandth time. One M89A5 assault rifle, check. 6 spare magazines with 32 rounds of 5mm Terran Caseless each, check. One M77A2 pistol, check. 2 spare magazines with 18 rounds of 9mm Dillon each, check. One comm link with a tactical bracer, check. One field drone, check. Two frags, one flashbang, two marking beacons, and a rainbow of smoke grenades across my belt; check. One first aid kit, check. One mostly full hydration bladder, check. Some rat fucked MRE snacks, check. One ka-bar, check. One multitool and a roll of electrical tape, check. One semi crumbled pack of cigarettes plus a lighter, fucking check. Also, Blucher had me snag a thermite grenade incase this went “Mogadishu” on us. Whatever that means. All of that plus my helmet and body armor and this was turning into quite the load. Who’s fecking idea was it to give the 1.6-meter 50 kilogram Irish girl all this gear? Oh right, mine when I dropped out of uni and enlisted.
Sufficed that everything was still there I looked back through the open door. The Mamba had banked to the left and gave me a good view of the city without having to lean out of the damn thing. Ok maybe three quarters of the colony was on fire. Christ, this was the kind of shite that made the Taurans get all worked up at The Table. They were constantly crying about how “humans can’t be trusted”. How we are a race of undisciplined children that haven’t even left behind their regional identities. That it wasn’t right that a fledgling race be given free reign the of stars and colonization of unclaimed worlds. That our unchecked expansion invited these kinds of attacks. That we still weren’t ready. To be honest, they just sounded jealous. At least the Dracs and a few of the rest made good trading partners.
A silence came over the inside of the dropship. It wasn’t out of fear or anything. Oh no, we were all too damn excited to be scared. You can’t stick a bunch of Marines on a ship with nothing to do but lift weights and masturbate for months and expect us to not want to kill something. Come to think of it they probably do it on purpose. When you take into account that my number one rule is “don’t fuck Marines in 1/9” and the fact that I can’t stand sailors long enough to get into bed with one, you can see what I had been directing my energy towards. When word came down that some pirates had torched a mining town and a bunch of civvies needed saving, we couldn’t get kitted up fast enough. Getting paid to kill a bunch of gigantic pieces of shite that zero people will miss? Fucking ‘rah.
“Condition one weapons!” ordered Blucher. The dropship was filled with the sound of slightly less satisfying thrwicks as we chambered rounds into our weapons. The digital round counter on my rifle read 32 to confirm that it was loaded. If I had the genetic predisposition for it, I probably would’ve been sporting a hard on. I almost felt bad for the dumb bastards. Almost.
From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay
From Galway to Dublin town
No maid I've seen like the fair cailín
That I met in the County Down.
The engines roared as we approached the ground and the ship shuddered when the landing gear touched the surface. We spilled out of the side doors and formed into a semicircle in front of the ship, crouching and facing outward. No orders were needed, we had practiced this same maneuver dozens if not hundreds of times. The Mamba’s engines roared again as it took off and flew over and away from us, leaving us in a field that separated the colony from the planet’s massive rainforest.
“O’Hare call it in” said Blucher.
“Reaper 3 Actual, Reaper 3-1. We have reached phase line Budweiser and are pushing to phase line Busch” I said into my helmet’s integrated mic as I keyed my comm.
Whoever comes up with these objective names needs to learn what a real beer is. Why can’t there ever be a phase line Guinness? Fucking yanks wouldn’t know a good pint if I shoved one up their arse.
“Copy 3-1, out” replied the disembodied voice of our platoon commander. The other 2 squads of 3rd platoon reported themselves as well and the lieutenant responded accordingly.
“Van Dusen your team takes point. Tokugawa, Petrov fall in behind, squad column. Let’s get a fucking move on!” commanded Blucher. “Rah” “Yut” “Kill” responded the South African, Japanese, and Ukrainian team leaders respectfully. Again, they were supposed to be corporals, but experienced lance corporals could do the job just as well.
“O’Hare you fucking pogue! What did I tell you? Stay next to me!” shouted Blucher as we started to move out and form into staggered columns down a semi paved road surrounded by abandoned homes and storefronts. Everyone that hadn’t been already evacuated was held up at the government house with the rest of Charlie company.
“Rah corporal” I prefer battery powered grunt thank you very much.
“Thompson hang back with Doc and make sure everyone has their spacing” Blucher continued.
“Slay bodies”
“All Reaper 3 callsigns be advised, Reaper 6’s comms are down. Coordinate with Reaper 2 Actual. How copy, over?” our lieutenant said. I checked my tac bracer and sure enough the CO’s callsign had dropped off the net. 1st, 2nd, and Weapons platoon were at least still up. Fecking hell Ali! Get your shite together, you’re making us comm guys look bad.
“Copy”, said 3-2.
“Lima Charlie”, said 3-3.
“Solid copy”, I said.
“Roger, out”
“What the fuck did he say? It was cutting out” said an annoyed Corporal Blucher.
“The CO’s comm is down. We’re talking to 2nd until they unfuck it” I answered. Blucher grumbled something in German and smacked the side of his helmet a couple of times. It doesn’t work like that but ok. Our helmets had integrated UHF comms for the squad level so we could talk outside of shouting distance, but anything beyond that needed a comm link. They had a feature where they could wirelessly connect to a nearby comm so the TCS (Tactical Communications Specialist that is) wouldn’t have to be constantly repeating what he heard like an ancient radio operator. But as we learned during field exercises in 29 Palms and on Luna it liked to shit out on you when you started moving. The link has 2 cables so that you can hook it up to your helmet and get a much more reliable connection. It’s good for the TCS but I would basically have to be piggybacking Blucher if he wanted to use the other one.
We pushed further into the city towards the simple two story building that was our objective, keeping our eyes and ears open for any sign of trouble. The inferno continued to blaze and engulf more and more of the mining town. The sound of weapons platoon’s medium machine guns and enemy plasma weapons clashing were getting louder now. Every now and then I could hear them touch off a rocket and some grenade launchers.
“What about your shortwave?” I asked finally.
“The cable gets in the way of my speed reloads” answered Blucher. A bhastaird bhreallghnùisigh! Why does everyone have to try and make my job harder? A shortwave was essentially a handheld comm link issued to officers and NCOs that you could fit into a pouch on the front of your plate carrier (or an empty magazine pouch if supply ran out). It didn’t have the same output as the bigger ones but it could do the job in a pinch.
As she onward sped, sure I scratched my head,
And I looked with a feelin' rare,
And I says, says I, to a passer-by,
"Who's the maid with the nut brown hair?"
Well he looked at me and he said to me,
"That's the gem of Ireland's crown.
Young Rosie McCann from the banks of the Bann,
She's the star of the County Down."
As we approached an intersection Garcia gave the hand signal for a danger area. Again, no orders were needed as just about every Marine has done this thousands of times since boot camp. One fireteam pulls security while the other two get across. There are to be four Marines that have their weapons trained on either direction of the road, two on each side. I dropped down to a knee and took my post on the corner of a building, resting my rifle on the wall. Van Dusen was across from me mirroring my position. Blucher put a hand on my shoulder as Tokugawa’s team went across. “Alright send it”.
“3 Actual, 3-1. We have reached phase line Busch and are approaching objective Icehouse”. This is an insult to real beer.
“Copy 3-1, out”.
Without taking my eyes off the road I was overcome with a sudden desire to be a cheeky cunt, “Ya know corporal, as soon as we get libo I-OH FUCK”. Before I could finish a figure stepped out of an alley and turned to me. It looked like a human, sort of. If a human had veiny beet red skin, completely black eyes, no ears save for the holes on either side of its head, coarse fur like hair, a squashed rectangular nose, 4 fingers and the body of a tall dwarf. Not like a little person but like a proper mythical dwarf. It seemed very surprised to see me. It was carrying a plasma rifle and was wearing a strange x-shaped harness on its chest over a red jumpsuit. Its black eyes went wide, and it opened its mouth of shark like teeth as if to say something. I quickly decided that I had no intention of hearing its opinions as it raised its weapon at me. I fired 3 rounds in rapid succession. Two to the chest, one to the pelvic girdle. My rifle’s integrated suppressor muzzling my shots to a quick phwip.
The harness must’ve been some kind of personal shield because a flash of light emitted from the alien pirate as my first rounds tore into it. Probably designed to redirect energy from plasma weapons, not absorb a 5mm fin stabilized discarding sabot at 10 meters traveling just a bit over Mach 3. Surprise fecker! You’re dealing with proper Human weapons now you gobshite! My third shot into its pelvis dropped it like a bag of hammers and it laid on the ground gurgling in a pool of black blood. Van Dusen shot it twice in the head for posterity’s sake.
“HOLY FECKING SHITE I GOT ONE!” I yelled. I just popped my cherry! Not the gross awkward one with all the blood but the fun cool one with all the blood.
“Keep your fucking pants on O’Hare!” said Blucher. “Let’s fucking go Petrov! Get your Marines across!” He pumped his forearm vertically up and down, the hand signal for "hurry the fuck up".
“At least we know who it is now, bru. Fucking Kats!” chimed in Van Dusen. As if on que to defend their honor from the Afrikaner’s insult more Katavarian pirates began appearing from further down the road. I flicked my rifle off safe again as Blucher, Van Dusen, and I poured fired down the road. The Kats seemed woefully unprepared to have been caught in the middle of a Terran Federal Marine Corps infantry platoon’s advance. They were firing wildly as we cut them down, their shields doing little to protect them from our high velocity rounds. Red faces were appearing from around alleys and behind windows trying to take potshots at us. Christ, were these guys taking a fecking nap when we showed up? For every flash of red that I saw I fired 2-3 rounds. Sometimes I’d be rewarded with a flash of a broken shield and an alien howl, other times they’d duck out of the way before I got a good sight picture. It did seem like I was drawing more than my fair share of their ire, probably on account of the antenna sticking out of my back that said “Look at me! I’m important!”.
Van Dusen fired his under barrel grenade launcher into a store front where some of them had set up a firing position. No doubt taking cover when they realized their shields were doing fuck all. The 40mm HEDP shell exploding in their face was our way of saying “nice try but still get fucked”.
“No shit it’s Kats! It’s always fucking Kats!” said Doc Stevens as he ran across. The Katavarians barely had a presence at The Table. Their government was a powerless operation that just existed to say “oops sorry what can we do” whenever another pirate band attacked shipping lanes or colonies. And as the newest race to discover FTL technology it was mostly us that fell victim to their attacks on our outer colonies. And to be quite frank, we were getting very tired of their shit. Like today. “At least their physiology is pretty similar to ours” he added as he got across and took a position next to Van Dusen. I put a burst into one of them that had appeared on a roof holding a shoulder fired weapon. It fell to the ground in a heap.
“Can you translate that to crayon, bru?” quipped Van Dusen. He knew what he was talking about but he just liked being a prick. Especially to navy guys.
“Bloody hell, their important bits are the same as our important bits” sighed the HM2 from Liverpool.
“Yeah, I kind of figured that out when I shot one in the head and it fucking died, Doc. Thompson hurry it up!” said Blucher as he slammed a fresh magazine into his rifle. The Kats’ fire was slowing down now, and it seemed as if they had decided that discretion was the better part of valor. I guess that’s what happens when you go from raiding colonies with token Planetary Guard forces to facing a bunch of grunts that have had nothing to do but think about killing for the past 2 months.
“Last Marine!” said Thompson as he touched my shoulder and ran past, letting me know that he was the last one in the formation to cross behind us.
“O’Hare call it in and let’s get moving” ordered Blucher.
“Copy”, I keyed my comm “3-2, 3-1. Be advised we have engaged a reinforced squad sized element. They are breaking contact and oscar mike to your pos. How copy over?”
“Solid copy 3-1, we’ll be waiting for them”
“Roger, out”. I couldn’t help but smile under my helmet. Imagine the look on their faces when they run into more Marines!
“Ok O’Hare your turn!” I sprinted across and relieved Van Dusen. Seconds later Blucher came across and touched my shoulder. “Last Marine” he sighed. “Ok are we good to go? Team leaders?” The three team leaders responded positively that their Marines were in fact alive and had all of their important bits.
“Alright form it back up and let’s double time it” ordered our squad leader.
From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay
From Galway to Dublin town
No maid I've seen like the fair cailín
That I met in the County Down.
“3 Actual, 3-1. We have reached objective Icehouse and are setting up overwatch”.
“Good to go 3-1, out”.
As I touched off a marking beacon to confirm to everyone all the way up to the Mattis where we were Blucher cursed and smacked the side of his helmet again.
“Still?” I asked.
“Yeah...” he admitted.
“Here let me fix it. Hold still feisì” I said, adding my Gaeilge when he began to protest.
“The fuck did you just call me?” spat Blucher.
“Nothing at all Corporal!” I quickly answered. Oops.
Du Fickfehler” he answered.
Despite the exchange he let me get to work. I grabbed the end of the cable from the shortwave under his left armpit and pulled out and under his arm to get it as far away from his mag pouches as I could. I ran it back up to his helmet and plugged it into the port under where he had written “Kerle, wollt ihr ewig leben?”. Whatever that means. He held up a thumb when he heard the rest of 3rd platoon reporting their positions. Corona and Miller? Janey Mac I’m surrounded by heathens!
“What’s so hard about cursing in English?” asked Thompson.
“It’s so much more fun in Irish!” I said hoping Blucher wasn’t paying attention.
“If you have 40 ways of saying “fuck you” why would you use just the one?” chimed in Lance Corporal Singh, our designated marksman. I gave her a fist bump and laid down in between her and Blucher. She had something in Sanskrit written on her helmet. I ought to ask her what that means. Thompson nodded at this response and went back to looking at what we all were.
Objective Icehouse was a simple two story building with a flat roof. The only thing special about it was that orbital imagery from the Mattis indicated that it gave us a pretty good over watch position to the government house. 2nd and 3rd squads got similarly positioned buildings. I was on the roof with Blucher, Thompson, and Singh. The rest of the squad was set up on the floor below us or on street level. From here we could see the rest of Charlie Company exchanging fire with what was left of the Kats. Tracers streaked out from the government house towards assortments of buildings the pirates were firing back from. They must’ve started to wise up because they were holding back at a range that their shields might’ve done something now. They were firing back with whatever heavier plasma weapons and lasers they had. It wasn’t doing much though, and they were starting to try and push forward. They had to have been getting desperate. Stuck between an advancing inferno that they started, and an infantry company that they pissed off, with their extraction burning up in the atmosphere. Their only hope for salvation was to flee into the rainforest and hope they could call for another pirate band that could use the numbers before more Marines came and mopped them up. I bet whatever unobtanium this colony was mining doesn’t sound worth it anymore.
It used to be that they would just surrender at the first sign of trouble or cut their loses and flee. But we stopped handing Kat prisoners back over when we found out we had captured the same band half a dozen times just for the joke of the Kat government to release them and have them back attacking us. Not anymore, new procedure was to treat every Kat vessel as a potential threat and engage the confirmed ones at every opportunity. Provided they didn’t have any hostages outright destroying them was the best option. This made some of the other races get all jittery (especially the Taurans) but fuck them. If the want to attack us they can turn big rocks into little rocks on Mars for all eternity.
So, most of the company had landed after the rest of the battalion got who they could, and we were held in reserve to cover their push to the last evac site. The plan was to cover them, hold off whatever the Kats threw at us while the engineers cleared a landing zone for the Albatrosses, and then get the fuck out.
“Get the drone up. I don’t want any more fucking surprises” said Blucher.
“Roger” I answered fishing the field drone out of its polymer case. Its four propellers sprang out and spun to life as I activated it from my tac bracer. The hummingbird sized device flew out of my hand and in front of our position. With my bracer I controlled its movements and got a visual from it’s on board camera. Normal visuals weren’t doing me any good, so I switched over to thermals and was greeted with a white hot screen. The fire along with the planet’s climate was overloading the system. I turned down the sensitivity until I got a good visual of my surroundings. A Kat’s internal body temperature was a little higher than that of a human. This made them all that easier to spot them on thermals. First, I swept the buildings directly in front of us. Nothing. Then I started branching out. Block by block, darting my little drone up and down alleys and streets looking for Kats that thought they could hide. Eventually, I found something. About 200 meters up and to the right of us. In another two story building was a blob of orange and red.
“Corporal I got something” I said without looking up from my bracer. The heat was enough to be a Kat, but it looked all wrong. Like it had two heads or something. From what I could tell it looked to be crouched or sitting in a closet in the center of building away from any doors or windows. I tried getting inside but with all the windows and doors closed there was nothing I could do. Fuck.
“Let me see” Blucher said crawling over to me. I held out my forearm for him to see and he studied it for a moment. “Eh it’s probably one of those fuckers trying to hide out. Either way it’s out of the way of the extraction route and if it suddenly gets brave Singh can perforate it from here”. Singh put up a “rock on” hand signal at this.
“But Corporal what if- “
“Corporal I really think- “
“Shut the fuck up, Lance Corporal!”
Thompson put a hand on my shoulder, “What happens if we send out a team and they get bogged down out there? What happens if we get rushed and we’re not at strength? What happens if we send out some Marines and they get chopped up just to find it’s another Kat? Everyone is supposed to be at the government house”. I turned to look at him and frowned. His eyes were worried and doubtful. He was thinking the same thing I was. But he was right. And so was Blucher. As much of an arsehole as he was, he didn’t want to go home with 8 Marines in his squad instead of 12. But things don’t work the way they’re supposed to.
“C’mon get your head in the game” said Singh playfully smacking my helmet. Yeah ok, it’s nothing. Gotta be here in the now. I marked the building on my map and went back to looking through my rifle.
“All Reaper 3 callsigns you are clear to engage”
“Light them the fuck up!” commanded Blucher. With that the 12 Marines and one Corpsman in Objective Icehouse began suppressing the more threatening sources of Katavarian fire. To our left and right the Marines in Objectives Corona and Miller were doing the same. Singh’s M109 DMR was spitting out 7.5mm Martian polymer cases with a dull fwup. I switched my optic from 1x to 4x so I could get a better look at what we were shooting at. The Kats’ shields were doing them some good at this range. It took 2 good hits for their shields to drop. It was hard to get good targets though so most of us were just trying to suppress the buildings, puffs of dust kicking up from our rounds hitting the walls. I would’ve put my weapon on burst or even auto if I thought that I wouldn’t burn through the rest of my mags. I did get to see some of Singh’s shots “canoe” a few of them so that was nice. But even though they were redirecting some of their guns to us it wasn’t enough to take the heat off the government house.
“MAAWS?” Thompson asked anxiously.
“MAAWS” agreed Blucher.
“Fuck yeah! Hey get that fucking MAAWS up here!” Thompson yelled down the staircase, not that he had to with the internal comms. He was just excited. I heard Petrov yelling Ukrainian obscenities at his Marines to sprint up the stairs. And I’m the one that has to keep her pants on? Two Marines raced out of the staircase and took a knee behind us. One holding the Man portable, Antitank, Antipersonnel, Weapon System and the other taking a bundle of 70mm rockets off his back.
“2 Actual, 3-1. Be advised we’re engaging with our MAAWS” I said into my mic.
“A-firm 3-1. Standing by to give you BDA” replied 2nd Platoon’s commander.
“You know which one you’re shooting at right?” asked Thompson.
“Yes, Lance Corporal” replied the rocket team. Fucking boots. They were the same rank technically but “billet before rank” and all that. Blucher, the micromanaging kraut that he is, wasn’t convinced and said, “Singh put some tracers on it”. She promptly retrieved a fresh magazine that had a strip of red electrical tape on it. She replaced the magazine she already had loaded with it and chambered a round. She fired two rounds that glowed as they flew towards the building we were engaging. The two Marines nodded their heads.
“Hey, load a thermo” Thompson said to the assistant gunner. Blucher looked at him as if to say “really?” but didn’t continue. This was going to be fun. The assistant took out a rocket with a thick orange band from the case. He twisted the tip and loaded it into the rear of the weapon. Once it was in, he then tapped the gunner’s helmet twice to confirm the weapon was armed. Now it was up to the gunner. The scope on the MAAWS had a range finder and a targeting computer so the gunner didn’t have to sling rockets at his target until he got it right. It told him exactly were to hold based on the distance to the target, angle of attack, and munition being fired. All he had to do was hold it steady and pull the trigger.
“On target!” announced the gunner. “CLEAR BACKBLAST!”
“BACKBLAST CLEAR!” confirmed his assistant.
The 70mm thermobaric rocket streaked out from the Marine’s shoulder and over our heads. My eyes were glued to it in anticipation. What’s great about thermobaric weapons is that they don’t just explode, they implode. It works by igniting the oxygen in the air, which results in a vacuum. The air in the immediate atmosphere will then come rushing in. This has the effect of sucking anything in in the immediate vicinity. Like walls. Also, apparently, they contain some kind of chemical that if exposed to it too often will give you cancer. But that’s for the VA to worry about.
The shot couldn’t have been more perfect. The rocket shot straight through a window and into the building. First the explosion, igniting the available oxygen and burning the Kats’ lungs from the inside. And then the implosion. The walls of the house caved in on themselves and the whole thing came down. If anything in there wasn’t already dead, it was now. Eleven Marines and one Navy Corpsman roared in excitement as our target was turned into a pile of dust and rubble from the inside out. Second and Third squads must’ve gotten the same idea because rockets streaked out from their positions towards their targets.
“Good fucking shit boots!” applauded Thompson.
“Aye Lance Corporal!”
“Lock it up! Lock it the fuck up!” commanded Blucher when our celebrating went on for a second too long.
“Good hit 3-1, position destroyed, estimate 10 EKIA. Pushing Reaper 4 to you now.”
“Copy, out. Corporal you get that?” I said turning my head to Blucher. He put up a thumb in affirmation. Yeah that’s right fecker I know I’m good at my job. Weapons platoon began spilling out of the government house and double timed it up the main road towards us. First the machine gun section, then mortars, and finally engineers. They would bolster our defenses while the engineers secured a landing zone. The Albatrosses needed a lot of space. Then the rest of the company would move the civvies knowing they were under a protective blanket of machine guns, mortars and rifle fire. The gunners were moving hard with their guns on their shoulders and their assistants following behind laden with belts of ammunition and spare barrels. Squads started breaking off from the section and one headed towards our position. A machine gun squad consisted of two machine guns with two Marines per gun plus a squad leader. In this case all of these Marines were lance corporals in true Marine Corps fashion.
“Marines coming in!” announced the machine gunners one after another as they entered our building. Soon a burst raced out from the floor below us. “GUN ONE UP!”
Another burst. “GUN TWO UP!”. With that the 7.5mm general purpose machine guns began their dance of death. One gun would fire a burst of 6 rounds, and then the other gun would take over. This way, it was a constant stream of fire without eating up all their ammo. While one team was loading. The other was firing. While one was changing barrels, the other was putting rounds down range. The GPMGs weren’t suppressed like our rifles, so it was quite the racket. But the noise was gas sometimes! Sometimes I think I should’ve chosen 0331 but then I see their platoon sergeant make them do gun drills all day and I think better of it. One bad decision is enough thank you very much. We watched their tracers speed towards the Kats that had fancied themselves brave and were setting up on the rubble. The guns caught a few in the open with the opening bursts and the rest dove for cover. We followed suit and began picking off those we could while the machine guns kept them suppressed. At this range Singh got most of the good hits but every now and then the rest of us would catch one.
First and Second Platoons started moving now. Along with them were battered looking civilians, constables, and planetary guardsmen. The Marines surrounded them as they moved down the street. Some of them were carrying their wounded. Others were carrying their dead. I had to give it to those “parental guidances”. They didn’t have our training or equipment (some of these guys had M89A1s!), but this was their home. And they weren’t leaving it without a fight. Aside from the Marines the procession was quite the clusterfuck. Wounded constables and guardsmen hobbling along. Families holding their children and whatever possessions they were able to grab. And these are only the people that made it.
The crowd finally got to us and the Marines started reinforcing positions or securing the civilians while the Corpsmen got to work on the wounded. The mortarmen finally got to work and started shelling the government house with their 60mm tubes so the Kats couldn’t use it. No doubt they had their guns preset and were just waiting for everyone to get clear.
“LANCE CORPORAL O’HARE!” called a voice from street level.
“Better go” sighed Blucher.
Fuck me. I stood up and quickly made my way down and out of our house. I was greeted by the sight of our CO, Captain DuBois, and a very confused looking tactical communications specialist. And the sound of the engineers blowing down trees and buildings with det cord.
“Kill sir” I said trotting up to him.
“Excellent, would you please assist Lance Corporal Ali with getting comms back up” said the French officer.
“On it sir” I answered trying not to sound like a cunt about. Ali was fiddling with his bracer when I took a knee next to him.
“I don’t know what happened! It just dropped data all of a sudden!” he said. I grabbed his arm and turned it so I could look at his screen.
“Rinne tù margairlì crànach de” I whistled looking at the absolute hell of a readout.
“What?” Ali asked.
I sighed and started punching through the options, “Did you load the encryption keys before you loaded the frequencies?”
“…no” he admitted.
“You have to! If not, sometimes the data won’t take, and it’ll just drop after a few hours”.
“Why does it work like that?”
“How the feck should I know? It just does! Look, do you have backups?”
“Jesus wept”, fucking headquarters nerds. I pulled a cable out from my own bracer and plugged it into his. I was sure to upload the encryption keys first and show him what I did. “Grand, now get comm checks”. You’re lucky I like redundancies fecker.
The captain laughed the kind of laugh officers do whenever they want to feel heroic. “Corporal Blucher!”
The Prussian’s helmet poked out over the edge of the roof, “Yes sir?”
“You are no longer allowed to have O’Hare to yourself! She will be my personal TCS from now on!”
“Aye sir” Blucher said dejectedly, there was a reparations joke in there somewhere. Fucking hell, I hate being dependable. I can deal with the kraut and the yank but if I have to follow some frog shiny around all day I’ll go mental!
I took a look around the area that Charlie company had occupied. The CO was talking to the Mattis and trying to look like he knew what he was doing. The XO was pretending like he mattered. And First Sergeant was yelling at the mortarmen. In that regard everything is exactly as it’s supposed to be. Then my mood changed. There were families comforting their children. People were looking at what was left of their lives in their hands. They had it good here and a solid future for their kids and now they would be refugees until they found somewhere else. I saw Doc Stevens and some other corpsmen triaging the wounded. There were kids among them. Their bodies were scarred by plasma burns. The Kats didn’t have rules of engagement. If they weren’t going to take you as a hostage, they didn’t have use for you. And these are the ones that made it.
“O’Hare if you’re done get the fuck back here!”
“Rah Corporal!”
[Continued in comments]
submitted by DaKillaGorilla to HFY [link] [comments]

2019.07.25 08:39 Rocknocker La Hacienda de Hoder. Part 3 of 4.

[Begin Part 3 of 4.]
“Goddamn it! Fuck that, Hoder!” I racked my Glock. “I’m going to go out there and shoot the first motherfucker I see wearing a leather vest…then I’m going to continue shooting until I run out of bullets…then I’m going to reload and shoot some more…”
Hoder; calmly, “No, you’re not. Here’s what you’re going to do: you’re going to shut up, sit down, have a beer or nine, and cool off.”
“No, God damn it. Hoder, I’m not some God-damned fucking novice here. I may not be all military like you, but I’ve been in a firefight before. I’ve seen the elephant. I want these fuckers to bleed. By the bucketful. I want the rivers to run red. They fucked with your animals. They fucked with your water. The beat up Carlos, they fucked with your family; so they fucked with my family. They fucked with my van. Gimme some of that Herculene you’ve got stashed. We’re gonna blow these fuckers up!”
Hoder sighs and shakes his head. “Doc, you’re really just pissed off right now…”
’JUST PISSED OFF’? ’JUST PISSED OFF’? I’ve spun off into a new universe so far from being ‘just pissed off’ that you’d need the fucking Hubble to see where ‘just pissed off’ was…!”
“OK, so you’re more than pissed off and somewhat irrational. Not good. Give me your guns.”
“What? No fucking way. I’m not about to disarm myself. Especially not now…”
Hoder shakes his head and sighs again. “Carlos. Please go to the kitchen and get THE BIG GLASS.”
Hoder goes all Gunnery Sergeant on me: “Look, Doc. Here’s what’s going to happen: You’re going to give me your guns, and anything else that might be considered dangerous. You’re going to call work and leave a message that you’re taking a day or three off. You said this was just a surprise inspection anyway. Let the HSE rig guys handle this one. Then you’re going to sit in your comfy chair, have a good, long smoke and some of your patented Old Thought Provoker. Once you’ve returned to this dimension, we’re going to make some plans. We need to strategize, we need to be smart, we need to…”
“…blow the fuckers up.” I growled as I finished Hoder’s thought for him.
After a very pregnant pause, I kick the magazine out of the Glock, and rack the action to spit out the chambered round. I hand them all to Hoder.
Hoder looks relieved, “Perhaps a little later. For now, we formulate battle strategy.”
Carlos returns lugging a huge ornate German-style beer mug, easily 1.5 liters, and an Anchor Hocking tumbler full of homemade vodka. Before he sets them on the table next to me, Hoder speaks up.
“Not yet. First, we go to your room and collect all your weapons of mass destruction. Then you can have your sun-risers.”
What choice did I have? The van was a total loss, so nothing could be done there. I need a smoke, and a good, stiff drink, so we repair to my room. Hoder brings a Halliburton aluminum job case and says “This is for your stash. It’s going to be locked and I keep the key until you circle back to reality. Now, give.”
Well, he already had my Glock, so after clearing the weapon, I handed him my backup Sig Sauer. I gave him my Asp (a telescopic Billy-club good for delivering knots to asshole’s noggins), my cattle prod (actually, an early 50,000-volt version of TASER), my pocket sap (blackjack), my cute little Mossad-issue .22 Magnum backup-backup pistol (it’s the only one I can still accurately fire with my left hand), a huge folding Buck skinning knife, Russian bear spray, and a slick WWI-replica trench knife, complete with spiked brass-knuckles handle and triangular cross-section blade.
Hoder goggles, “It that it or do you have a tactical nuke stashed under your bed?”
Grousingly, “No, left that at home. That’s all. Scout’s honor.”
“Like you were ever a fuckin’ scout…”
Back in the front room, I grab the BIG GLASSand glug down fully half the contents. I pour the tumbler of vodka into the now vacant space and proceed to slurp in a slightly more dignified manner.
“Returning to reality?”
“Not quite yet, but at least I’m in the same galaxy now.”
Muy bien. Carlos, please go and get me a roll of drafting paper, some colored pencils out of Doc’s room and bring them over to the kitchen table. Doc? We are now literally going to draw up our battle plans.”
“About Goddamned fucking time. I still say we need to blow these cocksuckers up.”
“Have another beer, you’re still out in the boonies…”
Another beer or five passes and I’m feeling slightly less homicidal, but only slightly. I console myself that the van was just a thing and luckily no one was hurt. But, it still infuriates me that over something as stupid as free jobs for wanna-be gangsters it had escalated to this point. But, they called the thunder. Now, they were going to get it. Holy fuck, were they going to get it. We’re going to bring it and Hell’s coming with us. You hear me?
¡Hell’s coming with us!
Hoder was running the show as we sketched out our battle strategy. First was intelligence gathering. We really didn’t know much about our adversaries other than they were assholes, wore too much black leather for the climate and were generally useless pieces of subhuman compost. So, it was the old “Know thine enemy” bit. Plus, it would take time, and lull our unsuspecting idiot antagonists into that good ol’ false sense of security.
Hoder told me that he’d engage his huge network of locals to find out more about these characters. Being wanna-be gangsters and shaking down the townsfolk, they were universally despised. Lubricated by a little local currency and requested to remain quiet about our enquiries, we figured they’d drop a dime on these toe-rags without much further encouragement.
Thus began Phase 1.
As an adjunct to Phase 1, I had Carlos, Tito and Jesus go to the local market and purchase 20 or so little personal diaries. About the same dimensions as a pack of cigarettes, but 1/3rd the thickness. I also provided with each a nifty new mechanical pencil. I also purchased 20 or so cheap-o knock-off wrist watches.
I asked Carlos & company to distribute the watches, books and pencils to his most trusted friends. I instructed Carlos tell them to make a note of when they ever saw one of these dark-garbed idiots. Note the time and place; but so it on the QT. Told them that they have to be real fucking sneaky and don’t let them see you. Do that, and when this was all over, they could keep all the supplies and I’d throw them all the mother of all fiestas.
That being done, there was nothing much more to do than blow the fuckers up…no that was being held in abeyance for later. We were now in data acquisition mode and realized that although it would take some time, time was on our side.
The remains of the van were towed off to the local automotive graveyard, and I stood at the gate to Hoder’s Hacienda watching it disappear into the void. I saw several dark-garbed dipshits off in the distance and envisioned them thinking they’ve won. Maybe the initial chicken-shit skirmishes, assholes, but the real war’s now just commenced.
Weeks passed, and the well was coming along fine. I was amazed how some proper tools, training and financial encouragement could transform that motley mob of meatheads into an actually high functioning team. I was a bit more than micro-impressed.
In our copious free time, Hoder and I set about gathering, collating and analyzing our collected data. We also beefed up security around the old Hacienda. I managed to procure a load of motion sensors and several 2 million candlepower mercury-vapor airport runway lights. We had some of the older kids in Hoder’s entourage dig postholes and set pipe for mounting the illumination.
We also reinforced every lock, window and door on every single outbuilding. I used Hoder’s portable oxy-acetylene welding kit to beef up the hinges on the doors, weld bars over the windows and steel plates over the hasps and keepers on every door. Hoder thought it a bit of overkill when he found me fabricating an entire new door and lock box out of plate stainless steel I somehow managed to obtain for the brewery and munitions buildings.
“Like you say: ‘Be prepared’.”
Hoder was going to say something pithy about land mines, but rather just smirked and wandered off to tend to other matters.
We ran fencing for the animals, particularly the chickens, pigs, and goats. Gave them plenty of free, but secure, space. The dogs, donkeys, horses, llamas and alpacas were allowed free run of the compound. I gave them all extra rations and a pep-talk that no one unknown should ever again set foot in the compound. Woe be unto anyone or anything that tangled with this crowd.
I created a new bump-gate for the front entrance. Sunk half of a 20’ section of 6” casing in a posthole, and filled it with cement. Then, over that, added a 6-foot section of 8.5” casing to which the actual gate had been welded. A cute and cunning bit of engineering meant that if a vehicle didn’t tap the bump-gate in just the right place, the gate would lock solid and absolutely refuse to budge. Unless you knew how to re-set the gate, tough tits, you’re not getting in.
We also did a diabolical little re-wire of the perimeter fencing. From each fence post, we ran 1-foot insulated standoffs inward. Here, we ran standard outdoor electric grade wire to which a usual farm-type fence trickle-charger was attached. This was for the animals on the inside.
On the fence wire proper, we wired in a series of 220 VAC megafarad capacitors strung from a transformer powered by line voltage, backed-up by the generator. This was for the animals outside.
I did yield to reason a bit and had the graphics shop at work print up a raft of warning signs in both English and Spanish. Garish, lurid and colorful, these signs promised an instant and interesting death for any interloper who had the balls but lacked the brains to cross that particular Rubicon.
In the interim, data that began as a trickle was now more of a torrent. Hoder’s network provided much needed Intel but few names. My little plan, after some numerical computer modeling (Fuck with a PhD and get the horns, assholes) was starting to paint a fairly clear picture of where these shit-stains lurked and more importantly, an idea of their hierarchy.
It was essentially a pyramid scheme. There was the top shit at the peak of the pyramid. Under that, there were four, for the lack of a better term, Lieutenants. Under these four, there were numerous so-called Sergeant’s-at-Arms. Completing this compost heap were number of foot-soldiers, buck privates and other marchers in the constant parade of bestial barely-sentient pond scum.
We pored over the data, models and simulations. Hoder was impressed.
“Shit, son. This is some good work. Now we know what we’re up against.”
“Yep. Now, we just cut off the head of the damn thing and the rest of the beast dies…”
“Herr Doctor. I’m surprised. You know that’s not the best way to dismantle a pyramid. You don’t start at the top, you kick the slats out from underneath and watch it slowly implode.”
“Nice analogy. You are, of course, quite correct. So, now we just blow the fuckers up, right?”
Shaking his head and rolling his eyes upward, Hoder continues, “No, now we start chipping away at the base. I have a few, well, many associates in low places. We start our retaliation with them by taking out some of the lower echelons. A little financial encouragement for my field agents and not only will they think its normal attrition or a rival gang, but we get to add to our knowledge warehouse. I’ll put the word out that there’s, for the lack of a better term, a bounty on information on this gang. I want names. I want locations. I want their accomplices. After that, they can do what they want with what’s left.”
“So, it’s just become Open Season on shitheads?”
“Indeed it has. You stay here and hold the fort. I’m going to go see some of my amigos in places I’d rather you not tag along. Plausible deniability and all that.”
“Plus you don’t want a big noisy gringo traipsing along slathering for these morons giblets?”
“Well, there’s that too.”
With that, the floodgates opened. We were swimming in data. We hand names, addresses, and probably blood types for many of the lower echelon dipshits. Paradoxically, we had a good picture of the structure of the gang, but no names nor location of any of the higher-ups. Also, the lower echelon ranks were slowly thinning. After a serious ass-whooping by some financially motivated and rightfully peeved clandestine locals, many of them decided it wasn’t worth hanging around here any longer.
Over afternoon tea (actually, pizza and beer), Hoder explains that we’ve milked Phase 1 about as far as it was going to take us. We needed to implement Phase 2: active data acquisition.
The gang’s hierarchy was thusly mapped. There was:
One top mutt. The cream of the crap. He was designated, unsurprisingly, #1.
There were 4 Lieutenants. These were designated 2N, 2E, 2S and 2W. 2 for second level, and ordinal waypoint designation for the compass for the lack of any better demarcation.
Variably, there were below this level, there were one or two Sergeants each. These were determined to be and designated as 3N1, 3N2, 3E1, 2S1, 2S2, 3W1 and 3W2. 3 for the third level and 1 or 2 depending on their perceived importance.
We had fairly good, though unfortunately generic, descriptions of all these twatwaffles. This gave us a dozen active targets and enabled us to focus our burgeoning resources down to a much finer point.
Hoder put out the word to his low-lying friends that we were actively wanting to speak with these characters, one at a time, up close and personal-like. He promised an attractive reward for the actual delivery, in a more or less undamaged condition, of any of those occupying Tier Three.
We had nightmared up several stimulating and uproarious plans which we were going to utilize to extract information from these fucknuggets. Each a little more escalated and riotous than the previous. Guess it was going to be good to be early to the show…
Hoder cleared one of the outbuildings, which we designated “The Unsafe House”. No windows, concrete construction, steel door, double-door airlock portal, located out in the back-40 of the Hacienda lot. Sound, scream and batter-proof; this was going to be the holding tank for our newly arrived ‘guests’.
It didn’t take long, but we got a call one Wednesday night that 2S1 had been located and was currently en-route. Instructions had been to either KO or otherwise subdue these idiots, put a vision-proof (but not air tight, c’mon guys) bag over their head, cuff or zip-tie their hands and bring them, via the back way, to the Unsafe House.
2S1 was unceremoniously dumped outside the building, as he screamed, thrashed and threatened. Rewards were paid as 2S1 became acquainted with his new abode. We clanged the door shut, locked it and went inside the hacienda for a few well-deserved toasts while 2S1 calmed down and slowly realized that he was well and truly fucked.
Some hours later, we unlocked the door and found 2S1 sitting on the cold concrete floor in a puddle of his own piss. His hands still tied, still bagged and much, much more compliant.
“Well, well, well. What do we have here?”
“Wha...what do you want?”
“We just want some information, Chuckles. Nothing major. Just your name and details, the names of your comrades and the head idiot in charge of the Choads.”
“No, fuck off. No way. God damn it, cut me loose, motherfucker.”
Hoder produces my TASER, sets it to low power setting, and gives 2S1 a little shocking riposte.
“OWWW! You motherfuckers! I’ll fucking kill you!”
Hoder smiles: “Round 2. Pop goes the voltage.”
“OWWWWW! No, stop. No more.”
“Then start talking, shithead. The next words out of your mouth better be names. Real names. You’re going nowhere until your information’s verified.”
I look quizzically at Hoder? Really? He just shrugs it off.
With little further encouragement, he spilled many beans that night. We had quite the list of new Intel and decided what was going to be next for our new little friend.
Hoder, through one of his many contacts, produces a syringe of phenobarbital and sends our newest little buddy to La-La Land.
“Well, now what?”
“It was your TASER that got the info, so you choose.”
I grinned like the Grinch on Christmas Eve, “I know just the place.”
Six hours later, we’re out in the backwoods pucklebrush, watching 2S1 slowly sink into the pit of quicksand I noted had been mapped by the hydrogeologists when I was looking at the data for Hoder’s new water well.
We had a stout length of rope tied to a tree. Just long enough, but still slightly out of 2S1’s reach.
Hoder rips the bag off the little whacker’s head and cracks an ammonia inhalant under his schnoz.
“Wakey wakey, asshole.”
He rouses and almost instantly realizes he’s still alive, but only for a short while longer. (In reality, quicksand will never kill you. If you can float in water, you can float in quicksand. Most don’t know that and the moment panic sets in…well, you get the picture as they get that sinking feeling).
“Well! Hi, there, Scooter. Have a nice nap?”
“Wha...who… You pendejo motherfuckers…Oh, shit…”
“Oh, shit indeed. Here’s the deal, Sport. You promise to never say a word of this to anyone, and immediately and permanently leave the area, I’ll toss you the rope. We’ll leave and that’s that. You give us any more lip, we leave and well, I think even someone as stupid as you can figure out where that is headed.”
“Oh, si, si, si, Señor. I won’t say anything, I’ll leave. sobbing Please, ¡DIOS MIO! Don’t leave me here to die. I’ll do anything…”
“You’ll do nothing or you’re going to end up being nothing. We know your name, your address, and your family’s details. Got that? One word, we’ll find you again and you’ll be begging for us to return you to the quicksand.”
“¡Si, si! Nothing. No words. Please, please sobbing continues just let me go.”
Hoder tosses him the rope and we walk off into the morning light.
“Well, one down, eleven to go.”
Back at La Hacienda de Hoder, Carlos was bringing us round two of our congratulatory thirst-quenchers.
Hoder observes, “That went better than expected. Sheesh, these goombahs would sell out their grandmother for a Charleston Chew…”
“All mouth, no balls. Dishonorable little dickweeds. The town will be so much the better off without them.”
Hoder raises his tankard, “I’ll drink to that. Prosit!”
One by one, we chipped away at the lower echelon as our database grew.
The next Sergeant we encountered was a bit feistier than the previous. He was delivered in the usual manner, but kicked, thrashed and make a generally noisy spectacle of himself. It was most unpleasant to behold. Hoder and I both manhandled him, rather brusquely, into the Unsafe House, where he did a couple of creditable bounces off the cold concrete floor before settling in for his stay.
After a couple of sun risers, we went to check on him and he was still all piss and vinegar. A well-aimed size 16 field boot to the breadbasket and an unceremonious toss into the corner seemed to strip at least a little wind from his sails.
Checking back a few hours later, he was slightly more compliant. Although, I swear, if this keeps up, I’m going to have to order a whole new set of batteries for my TASER.
There was the usual empty threats, dark oaths and offers to terminate our existence, but my handheld version of Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle always won out in the end.
After his obligatory jab and sudden trip to The Dark Side of the Moon, Hoder notes, “Well, more good intel. My turn. Let’s go to the beach with this one…”
In a secluded spot on a pristine Caribbean beach, our latest inmate awoke to find himself buried up to the neck in golden, warm beach sand; right at the high tide mark. Crack of ammonia ampoule, he groggily wakes and I swear I’ve never seen, outside of a Roger Rabbit cartoon, someone’s eyes go that wide.
“What…what the fuck?”
“Well. Howdy there, handsome. Have a nice nap?”
“What? What? What?”
Whew, a real Han Solo-esque New Hope boring conversation here.
“OK, shut up and listen up. You’re fucked. You’re done. No two ways about it. Now, here’s the deal. You fuck off good and proper, say nothing to no one and get out and stay at least 100 kilometers out of town, forever, or you become fish food. Simple as that.”
“Fuck, you pendejo bastards. I get out of here and I’ll kill all of…”
Hoder looks pained, “Oh, dear. Looks like someone is going to need a quick lesson in beach processes. Herr Doctor?”
I continue to Señor Shit-stain: “Hi there, Tweedles. I’m a Doctor of Geology and have been for decades so you can bank on what I’m going to tell you. You listening?”
“Fuck you.”
Yeah. He’s listening.
“Now, you are buried in relatively dry beach sand. As such, you should be able to dig your way out in a couple of hours with this camp shovel here. You diggin’ me here, Beaumont?”
He’s shut up and now fervently listening.
“Given your current location, the phase of the moon and, ahem height of the tides, in 90 or so minutes, that high tide is going to come washing in here. If the wind picks up, the waves will make that time a lot shorter.”
“So, digging yourself out of wet sand is damn nigh impossible. The more you dig, the more it collapses. The more it collapses, the more you are buried. The more you are buried, the more you’ll drown like the rat you are as the tide washes over you. Following me?”
nervously Yeah?”
“But wait, there’s more. Let me tell you what else you’re going to win. The more the tide washes in, the more fun little meat-eating critters will wash in looking for free lunch. They really like fresh eyes, ears and tongues…Guess what? It’s your lucky day. You are going to become the guest of honor at mid-day brunch!”
With that, Hoder releases the sweetest little fiddler crab he found just up the beach, right under doofus’ nose.
Look of horror.
Hoder chuckles, “Still want to fuck us up?”
“Like we said, shut up and get out of town forever and we’ll leave you with the shovel. Odds are, you’ll be able to dig your way out before you become a soggy Blue Plate Special. Otherwise, we’re going back to the car and drink beer and watch you go under whilst the tide comes in. Your choice, fuckwitz.”
Right on cue, the little fiddler crab scuttles around his head and he yelps like a scalded cat.
“Si, yes, anything.”
I turn to Hoder, smiling, “See, I told you he could be reasonable.”
We part, but not before we remind him that he’s dumped all the marbles on his little group and we have all his info. We inform him that he really, really never, ever wants to see us again.
We sit up in Hoder’s car, behind the dune line, with a pair of binoculars. Credit where it’s due, he got his hands free in the first 10 minutes. He grabbed the shovel just as the first few molecules of high tide wash up to him. He dug like a person possessed and found out that kindly Ol’ Doc Rocknocker wasn’t just blowing smoke. The sand got wet, got much heavier, got more fluid, and a pure bitch to shovel.
About an hour or so in, he finally extracted himself, threw the shovel as far as he could and hoofed it down the beach.
Away from town.
Two down, several to go.
Back at the ranch, Carlos was laughing uproariously as we related our latest little escapade. He was sworn to secrecy and we trusted the little goof. He said he knew that latest asshole and he was one of the bastards that roughed him up.
We all had a good laugh over our cervezas and Carlos’ Grape Nehis.
The next participant in our little dramatic performance was much like the former two. He wasn’t near as feisty and broke down almost immediately. Carlos informed us that he too was one of the SOBs that had accosted him earlier, so we devised a similar, yet much more entertaining, role for hime to play.
After recording his info, and the lights out application, he awoke to find himself ass-deep in one of the innumerable pitch pots (i.e. smaller versions of the Rancho de la Brea Tar Pits) that dot the countryside.
Crack ampoule and he awakens to find himself in rather a pickle.
He didn’t verbally accost us or threaten anything. He was too busy shitting himself and begging for release. Pitch pots are extremely notorious in this region as they are well known death traps. If you wish to have some semblance of a long life, you avoid them at all costs.
He knew exactly how ultrafuckered he was.
Cure the usual pleading and deal making. He promised so quickly that I had to wonder aloud to Hoder if he thought Mr. Sinkable Molly Brown here was genuinely telling the truth or just trying to save his worthless hide.
We were overheard and the plaints and sobbing were almost heart-wrenching. Almost.
We made him the same deal as every other miscreant and said “If we give you this rope, you’re gone. Forever. You say nothing. And you never return, even for a visit.”
“Si, si, si, si, Oh, si Señor!”
Well, all righty then. We remind him that he had dropped the dime on his cohorts and we had all his information, so that by becoming gone for good he might actually see his next birthday.
He agrees, most readily. We drop the rope in his hands and retire to Hoder’s car. Again, we wait to see if the wretched little dickweed could extract himself.
Fully three hours later, he’s lying next to the pitch pot, puffing like a steam engine in the Rockies going up a steep grade. We decide to saunter up and remind him of our bargain.
Jesse Owens would have been proud of his mad dash south, again, forever away from town, away from us.
Over our now usual congratulatory beers, Yorshch, cigars, and Grape Nehi, Hoder says “I’m getting tired of all this driving. Let’s shift plans a little and enlist the help of our animal friends.”
“Sound idea. Which group? Arachnid? Squamate? Squalidae?”
“Well, let’s see what we can round up…”
We seemingly ran out of Sergeants as our next contestant was one of the Lieutenants.
He was tossed, without much concern, into the unsafe house and left to his own devices.
In the meantime, we employed the locals to round up any snakes they could find, as we were in collection mode and were willing to pay handsome rewards. We made certain to tell them to be very, very careful and make sure they’re of the non-venomous variety as this part of South America was home to some really offensive scaly customers.
In a short span, we took possession of a fine, slithery collection of pythons, various boas, several Colubrids and a couple varieties of racers. All non-venomous, but equally all irascible, bitey, ornery and cranky.
We peeked in on our guest and found the poor little twarf had tuckered himself out and was snoring in a corner of the Unsafe House. Hoder quietly unlocked the door, deftly removed the bag from over Sleeping Ugly’s head, gave him a hard shove and exited briskly.
We then slipped a 2 meter long python into his room, and left them to get acquainted. Even though the room was solid concrete-walled, we could hear the high-pitched screams of our latest captive.
Opening the porthole to the room, Hoder enquires if Mr. Slithers wanted to talk.
“Fuck you, assholes. Let me out of here.”
It’s never easy. Into the room go two more slithery serpents.
More shrill screams. More dark oaths.
This repeated until we had nearly run out of snakes, until finally, he couldn’t bear the thought of captivity any longer and was willing to talk.
So, we recorded all his information through the door and told him that we’re coming in, armed to the teeth. “Sit in the corner and face the wall or you’re going to be the recipient of an spontaneous .45 caliber lobotomy.”
The latch clanked and as we peered in, it was the Ark of the Covenant tomb scene from Raiders. Surrounded by snakes, all at a leg’s length (as his hands were still zip-tied). Hoder announces that he’s removing the snakes and he’s a trained handler so, don’t move or one might…
With that, he simultaneously tosses an irritated boa over the miscreant’s shoulder as he jabs him in the neck with the phenobarb…
The last words the hooded schmuck heard were “Dammit. Warned you not to move…”
We employed a couple of Hoder’s seamier friends to take the snoring doofus out to the south of the city, pin this note to his shirt, give him the ammonia treatment and dump him out past where the sidewalk ends.
The note was the usual “We know who you are. We know what you did. Disappear, tell no one and never return. Or else…”
To one of the belt loops of his pants, we padlocked a small canvas bank deposit bag of stoutest material. In the bag was a certainly, by that time, very, very cranky Colubrid snake.
Insurance that he’d never venture this way ever, ever again.
“Damn, Señor Rock. We’re getting good at this. My spies tell me that gang activity has dwindled way down. They’re even missing picking up some of their protection racket money. Looks like we’re having an effect.”
“So, now we blow the fuckers up?”
Sigh. “Like a broken record. Nope, we continue to chip away until we finally figure out who and where the king shit of this dung pile is hiding.”
“OK, but if I don’t blow something up every so often, I get all cranky. Can I blow them up just a little?”
“No, save it for later. Carlos!” Back to me, “Am I going to have to get out the BIG GLASS?”
Our next contestant was another Lieutenant. He had a real aversion to spiders (Who doesn’t?) so we just sort of modified our previous escapade and substituted some of the more hairy and horrible local arachnids for the scaly dudes we employed last time.
Almost exactly as before, this pseudo-tough guy folded like a cheap paper plate full of fried chicken and potato salad at a summer bar-be-que. We received some real serious Intel, and found out the name and location of the second in command. Now, the price of poker’s really going up.
After a quick tarantula toss and neck jab, he awoke to find himself miles from anywhere outside of town. His note read pretty much the same as before, but the special padlocked-to-his-pants bank-bag contained half a dozen irritated arachnids of the horrible, hairy, and hideous clan. Odds are, we’ll never hear from this character ever again as well.
Oh, yes. Almost forgot. Did I mention that I’m an accredited helicopter pilot?
Well, I am.
So there.
I had sweet talked (read: strong armed) the oil company (remember them?) for whom I was working into loaning me a chopper since my vehicle had been trashed. I was an accredited pilot (See?) and I needed to get to and from the rig at all times. So, I took possession of a war surplus Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopter (Google “Huey helicopter” for further information).
We cleared and fenced off an area at La Hacienda de Hoder to serve as a spontaneous LZ (Landing Zone). We made certain that I always called ahead whenever I was arriving and warned all houseguests and farm animals to keep clear when Doc Rock came skatin’ in.
Now that things were getting more serious, the 24-hour bottle-to-throttle protocol was enacted. Oh, sure, we still drank like fermented fish, but I made certain I was clear and sound before I’d even think of going up.
I came in low, out of the sun.
I flared in one bright afternoon after a rig inspection and even Hoder had to shake his head. I heard him exclaim that this was a first for him and how things had really gone around the bend since I showed up.
“Jesus H. Christ. A Flying Rocknocker. What next?” Hoder shook his head and had to chuckle at the absurdity of the whole affair.
Spooling down, I call over: “Hey, Hoder. Wanna take a ride?”
“No thanks. If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather die a natural death.”
“You casting aspersions on my flight abilities?”
“Not at all. I’ve just had my fill of flying during my Navy days.”
“Fair enough. Buy you a drink, Sailor?”
Hoder grins, “Several, in fact.”
Several drinks later and numerous games of Schopskopf later, we just sat around wondering what fate had next in store for us. The trail had seemed to have gone cold and we were receiving fewer and fewer tips on the whereabouts of our final quarry.
A week passed, as did another. The Huey sat sulking on its landing pad. I did several fortnight’s worth of work that week writing reports, doing personnel reviews, hiring new faces, and other forms of administrative nonsense.
Then one early Friday evening, we’re sitting around the front room imbibing our usual long-hard-day-at-the-office drinks, smoking cigars and swapping lies when the phone rings.
Hoder picks it up and:
“Where? How? Yep. Damn right. Fuckin’-A. Cash money, on delivery. See you in a few hours.”
“What was that? Good news?”
[End Part 3 of 4.]
submitted by Rocknocker to stories [link] [comments]

2018.11.03 01:21 MyNameMeansBentNose [OC]Bought and Sold. Chapter25, Arc3

Some notes at the beginning of the post on Arkmuse, make sure to come back and visit after you've read the chapter!
Previous The Beginning Wiki Next
Chapter 25
Rodgers sighed as he relaxed on the seat.
They had arrived a few days in advance. It was good to know where someone was going and also have a better ship overall.
This sparse, single star system only had a few mined out rocks and a set of gas giants to its credit. Any easily mined stones were already cleared out and the location was rather far away for cheap and easy harvesting of further resources.
The interdiction beacon blinked with regular testing pulses. Grey had refined the device for low level impedance. It took less power to interrupt a little shuttle than it did a ship like the Kashto ride they’d acquired. An important detail when one didn't want do draw unwanted attention.
The bastard twins had taken several days to open up the ship. The Kashto captain managed to lockdown so many systems and locations before Rodgers caved the weasel’s skull in.
But now… those Kashto had guest quarters! Rodgers could sleep on a large sized bed! He could eat at a normal sized table with a decent chair! He even had a comfortable throne on which to do his business! Life had improved in so many ways so quickly!
Rodgers finished up and stood up to buckle up his pants. This was positively luxurious now. The man exited the bathroom into his newish private quarters.
Now if only they could get some food that didn’t disagree with his guts. The more of those meal balls he ate, the worse it got.
The bed was a wide round bowl, but it had adjustments! After playing with options it was now a proper flat platform with a good mattress and pillows to have a normal sleep. There was also a couch! And a table… Rodgers sighed as he considered how far his standards had fallen since he had smuggled drugs on Earth.
With a shrug of his shoulders, Rodgers left his quarters and headed for the ship bridge.
Still things were looking up!
Somewhere in his head a loose connection let go. The prosthetic hand snapped into the shape of a hook, then flipped to a hand, then to grapple. The muscles on his arm trembled and twitched and he grabbed his arm right above the elbow.
The twins had cleared up lots of problems, but there were still lingering issues.
“Rodgers, I felt that one,” Grey sent over comms. “What happened?”
“Arm spasm,” Rodgers replied cheerfully. “Already calming down.” He had good reason to be cheerful. A small twitch used to be the precursor to a full body collapse. He held his breath for a moment, but a bigger seizure never arrived. He took stock of himself, running a quick diagnostic of his systems, but nothing else seemed to be amiss.
Rodgers continued on his way. He exited the Port side section of the ship into the big connecting corridor.
It had taken a long time to get Rodgers back to the level he’d been at when Grey had changed careers and taken Rodgers with him. Not having Kralt government support sure made a difference in maintenance.
“We have a splash,” Grey sent.
“I’m already on my way,” Rodgers replied.
“They’re looking!” said one. “For us!” said the other.
“I see it,” Grey responded as the ping slipped over the ship. He doubted the shuttle could detect the Kashto ship at this distance, and they didn’t act as if they had noticed.
He watched the Spiders…
Spiders? Grey almost blinked in surprise as he made a connection. Before ever meeting Rodgers, Grey had seen the odd Achun before. He was in the right sort of industry after all. The structure of their body had looked wholly unusual to him with their six legs and two arms always hanging overhead.
Grey hadn’t known the specific Human word for spiders before. After being linked to Rodgers, seeing the twins had given him a subtle, but new impression. He hadn’t even realized it was bothering him at first. Rodgers had ‘spiders’ on his home planet. He had spiders and they didn’t have the arms that the twins had, or at least not usually. His disjointed impression was just another sign of the bleed.
Grey shook his head and turned his view back to the shuttle.
“The beacon!” Red reported. “They found it!” Green followed.
“Well, we don’t want them taking off on us,” Grey replied. “Move us in.”
“Take us below them!” Rodgers said with purpose as he arrived in the Bridge. “They gotta know what they’re dealing with.
Grey’s tail coiled up tight with awkward annoyance. No one knew what the symbol Rodgers had painted on the ship meant. Didn’t stop the Human from making sure anyone they dealt with saw it though.
“Yes Captain!” “My Captain!” The twins replied, bringing the ship in closer.
Grey took a moment to look over the plasma cannons the shuttle now displayed. “They have multi-mode cannons,” he explained in general. “Adjustable for rate of fire vs range and power. If they choose to get close there is potential for damage.”
“Hunh,” Rodgers replied. “You think they’ll do that? Didn’t you say they’d probably be pushovers?”
“I predict they will be, yes,” Grey replied. “They are newly born judging by what I saw during the station visit. The lack of preparation gives them away, I can only assume they stole that shuttle and are now trying to find their way.”
“Novatos,” Rodgers said with a chuckle. “Should be easy then! You called the shuttle Silianiscan?” At Grey’s nod, Rodgers opened a channel and spoke to the shuttle with a cocky grin.“ Silianiscan shuttle, surrender yourself and tell us where you came from.”
There was a pause before they responded “Silianiscan?” Answered a badly mangled voice. It grated on the ears, causing Rodgers and the twins to flinch. “We are no servants of the Superior,” the speaker continued.
“We know that!” Rodgers snapped, momentarily caught off guard by the voice, “But we wanna know where you found your shuttle!”
Another long pause. “They’re stalling,” Grey mused.
“Yup!” Rodgers agreed.
“The shuttle was found abandoned on a Kraltnin planet,” the voice ground out, “It departed to locate the home ship. As you can see, there is no home ship nearby.”
“Oh, you’re pretty good,” Rodgers said with a laugh. “Just because it isn’t here doesn’t mean you don’t know where it is. Obviously you don’t want to tell us where your ship is parked.”
Another long pause.
Rodgers laughed again, then continued to speak. "Well I see you don't want to cooperate, pero no te dare opcion."
The voice grated out its confusion, but Rodgers didn’t hesitate to keep speaking.
"No estoy interesado en tus excusas; asi que puedes rendirte a la cuenta de tres; o simplemente te mataremos; capturaremos tu nave y sacaremos la información de tu base de datos."
“Rodgers,” Grey spoke up, “They can’t-”
“Uno,” Rodgers started.
“Captain!” “Oh Captain!” The twins warbled out in a singsong tone.
The Gerlen’s panic was easily heard despite the damaged voice. Grey tried one last time. “Rodgers, your translator is-”
“TRES,” Rodgers said, voice dripping with menace. Time up and having counted to three as he had warned, Rodgers opened fire.
Grey used his tail to slap Rodgers on the backside of his head.
"Mierda!!!" Rodgers shouted in surprise. Rubbing the back of his head he glared at Grey.
“Your translator is out!” Grey snapped with annoyance.
The Human’s mouth flapped for a couple moments, then he shrugged and slapped his left temple once, quite hard. “Well, too late now!”
Grey sighed, then turned his attention to the vessel space.
That shuttle had begun moving upon Rodger’s first volley of plasma fire. The twins were in charge of sensors and piloting, although neither was really their area of expertise, they could do a passable job. Rodgers had taken control of the targeting systems and was laying down constant, although limited, bursts of plasma.
Grey had his own part to play.
From the nose of the painted skull rose a kinetic cannon. A more specialized piece of equipment, this would allow him other avenues of attack.
The shuttle swooped, rose and dived with reasonable skill. The Gerlen pilot was better than Grey might have expected. But the pilot was predictable. Predicting a pause between a zig and a zag, Grey opened fire with the kinetic insertion turret. A metal slug fired out and struck the shuttle, sticking near the rear thrusters.
The connection opened and Grey had access to the shuttle vessel space. Still, expecting to walk in through an open hole, Grey was surprised to find what he did. The AI core was much heavier than the size of the shuttle would suggest, and the Gerlen actually had a passing understanding of how to defend themselves.
Grey tapped the AI core aboard the Jolly Rodgers No. 15 and activated his AI penetration routines.
Overload attacks were blunted by the size of the core, although a reasonable portion of their core was dedicated to FTL calculations.
“They are attempting to synchronize with the interdiction beacon,” Grey warned.
“Well shit, don’t let ‘em!” Rodgers countered. “We gotta get that location!”
Grey twitched. He changed tack, attempting to delve into any available shuttle records. Trading attacks with the two Gerlen attempting to spar with him, Grey let his AI core do the combat work while he searched for information. Simple surveillance records were open to him and he began the process of stealing the day to day information available to him.
Then a third mind joined the shuttle dataspace defense. Grey felt the presence arrive, but it failed to join combat. It was up to something. “Twins, dedicate more power to the core,” Grey ordered.
“Yes Mr. Grey,” said the first,“redirecting power Mr. Grey,” said the second
His AI routines bolstered, Grey pushed deeper into the shuttle. His next attack blasted one of the Gerlen on defense right out of the space. Far too easily in fact. He took a moment to assess what had changed and spotted it immediately. The core Grey was using had ramped up its support. The Core the shuttle was using… had shut down? No, that was wrong.
The most powerful dataspace attacks rarely failed to have a strong image and concept attached to them. A great black mechanized worm burst forth from the core of the shuttle, momentarily filling the capacity of the transmitter Grey had lodged in the hull of the shuttle.
“What is-,” “No that’s-,” Green and Red said at the same time. “-Wrong!” they both finished in unison.
Grey could feel the vessel space of the Kashto ship shudder as the rogue AI driven attack set about eating everything it could touch and filling the vessel space with junk data. In a panic he shifted his concentration to wiping out the worm.
In order to keep the vessel protected, Grey changed his AI subroutines to viral cleansing. The first counter attacks, supported by the Kashto AI Core, struck the primary dataspace construct.
And it popped. Popped and scattered into countless fragments, all of them wriggling around pursuing the same goal the large worm had chased.
“What’s going on?!” Rodgers complained. “My weapons are going haywire, and where are we flying?!”
“They did something!” Grey hissed through clenched teeth. “There was a trap in that shuttle, it’s eating into the core!”
“Shit!” Rodgers responded.
Peripherally, Grey could see Rodgers attempting to coordinate the attacks on the shuttle as well as the movement of the ship itself. There was a reason they could do so much with so little and the experimental suite of implants in the Human was not to be underestimated. While the twins had ceased helping control the ship while attempting to stamp out the worm, Rodgers had continued to pull fragments of information from the twins, Grey and the AI core while running the whole thing himself.
The Human was going to be in a very bad mood after this. When his mind ran this high the headaches were inevitable.
And he would be sharing that headache.
Grey pushed harder, trying to stamp out the worms before thing really got complicated.
“SHIT!” Rodgers swore, causing the twins to flinch. Grey’s tail angrily lashed back and forth at the same time. Just because he was distracted, didn’t mean he missed it.
The shuttle had managed to synchronize with the beacon. It winked out of existence.
The attack from the worm dropped in intensity by an order of magnitude and suddenly Grey found himself making headway.
“Did you get the location?” Rodgers asked.
“...” Grey stomped out worms while reading the data he had been lifting from the shuttle.
“No! We have to chase them, but we know where they’re going. I got an active record of them plotting their route.”
“Then we catch those bastards!”
“...” Grey was at a loss. Rodgers was right in that they should chase the ship, but this attack was abnormal. He had run up against unique SI or Operator attacks before and this had a similar texture to it. This worm had the feel of multiple skilled hands developing it into something really dangerous.
“Green, Red, concentrate on the navigation systems,”
“The Core?” one asked. “The weapons?” asked the other.
“It’s all going to get eaten at this rate,” Grey informed them without hesitation. “Just be happy that this thing announced itself rather than sneak into the system while we were distracted.” Grey shook his head. “We will simply have to maintain the ship long enough to find another one to steal.”
“Oh-” “-Yeah,” the twins agreed.
The Gerlen weren’t set to go far, having locked in a Kraltnin border station in order to simplify their calculations. Grey considered the situation of the vessel space. There were two variants of the worm once the… mother worm had disintegrated. The obvious eaters and the hidden corruptors. The whole point of the active worms was to disguise the second set. The only advantage they had was that his own implants were frying anything that attempted to use him as a host. That meant that anyone attached to Rodgers was safe.
They spent about an hour stomping out the worst of the active infestation, but the hidden side would begin to show its effects soon enough. Once Grey was convinced they had brought the spread down to a manageable level, they departed.
Edge of Kralt Space
It wasn’t in Hututlot’s mind to consider the nature of luck. He was just one of the crew of the Pit corvette in the small flotilla doing their patrol on the edge of Kraltnin territory. Four corvettes, two frigates, a destroyer and a carrier doing rounds of noted trouble spots, staying close to communication points in case they had to quickly move to a point of trouble.
It was rare for trouble to drop directly on their laps.
The Human calling himself ‘Captain Rodgers’ however… he felt compelled to believe in luck. He was always landing himself in the worst spots. Today would simply serve as yet another proof in an endless series of examples.
The officer known as Hututlot could only gape in surprise as a Kashto ship dropped out of FTL only half an hour from their location by inner system travel. He, and the sensor systems officers of all the ships in the fleet reported the strange arrival with a hint of confusion, but no hesitation. The fleet quickly changed course to meet up with the ship.
A couple minutes before they arrived a shuttle dropped out of FTL. A strange model they weren’t familiar with at a glance. Given another situation they might not have cared what it was. Hututlot was the quickest to dig up the reference needed to realize what kind of shuttle they were looking at. The Kashto ship was a strange anomaly. A Superior shuttle however, that was fascinating.
Regardless, the sudden appearance was worth a routine check.
The two ships locked themselves into a short battle, one could only assume the shuttle to have been chased by the larger vessel. The shuttle danced around a little, fired a couple shots, but the larger vessel didn’t even bother shooting back. As the plasma cannons and arc ring of the shuttle splashed across the deviation field it was clear there was something more going on.
The shuttle came to a sudden standstill, ceasing all movement and action. Hututlot watched as the energy signature of the shuttle spiked, and then died.
And then the small flotilla was close enough to act.
One last unusual thing distracted the White Kraltnin serving as the sensors operator. A new signal, originating from the Kashto ship. Something of Kraltnin origin. He turned to his Grey Captain to inform his superior of the strange beacon.
This had just become something more than a routine stop.
Umbra buckled himself back in as Trips warned them of their impending arrival.
“And we’re dropping into normal space… now.”
Umbra felt the shift in his stomach, the barest hint of their change in condition. In the next moment he opened himself up to the vessel space and cringed with fear. A ‘small’ Kraltnin patrol group was already headed their way. And why were the Kraltnin already headed their way? Because the Kashto ship was there waiting for them!
The pulse of an interdiction field announced itself moments later.
“That’s a much heavier signal,” Trips warned with an audible sigh. “We won’t be able to duck out this time.”
“That ship is waiting for us!” Yin nearly shouted over the comms. “We can’t get away!”
Even as he shouted the vessel space was accessed again.
“Is Yang still out?” Umbra called with trepidation in his voice.
“Yes, we don’t stand a chance,” replied Yin.
The partitioned part of the core was lost to them, Umbra’s attempt to fend of the attack had ultimately failed. Otto had warned that it was a ‘scorched earth’ defense. A single use attempt and that was all they had. They might as well have never taken the AI core from the disassembled ships the Grand Giant had attempted to cannibalize for weapons. Having the Core just made them jump into even bigger trouble.
All this flickered through Umbra’s mind in moments as despair settled on him.
“Delete it!” Pockets shouted. “They can’t find it if we don’t have it!”
Umbra’s mind lurched into action. Pockets was right.
The pirate was rifling through the ship flight records on the much smaller secondary cores. Umbra unbuckled himself and headed for the small engine room. He found Yin opening up a panel in the floor with tools taken from a locker in the corner. Yang was still strapped into his chair, eyes closed and unconscious. Umbra knelt down and began helping Yin without a word.
The Pirates already had anything they wanted, but Umbra figured those bastards wouldn’t be ready for what was waiting at… he couldn’t call it home, he didn’t deserve to.
But the Kraltnin? They could not afford to let the Kraltnin know where a whole downed Silianiscan survey ship was located. Yin was making good progress pulling open the panel, so Umbra got up and pulled something else out of the locker. While doing so he issued a self disabling command to the AI core. It quickly began the process of turning itself into a lump of fried circuits, pulling hard on the power supply. It wouldn’t stop until the power cartridge was empty.
Umbra sighed, he wouldn’t have a chance to hear those pirates swear at them.
“They’re almost here,” Trips reported.
Yin finally pulled the plate away and looked at Umbra. He nodded and Umbra nodded back.
“Mind the dark,” Umbra warned, “and… I’m sorry.”
He fired the plasma pistol at the series of boxes that served as the control system for the shuttle. It fried the components with no trouble. The lights shut off and they found themselves in darkness. A dim set of secondary lights powered on in the next moment. The only thing left now would be life support.
“Let’s help him get comfortable,” Umbra grated, pointing at Yang.
“Might as well,” Yin admitted.
The Kraltnin would find the Gerlen only a couple minutes later, all disarmed and docile, awaiting their fate in the small cargo hold.
Grey actually started busting out Human swear words moments after touching the shuttle systems.
“Those fucking bastards!” Grey swore in a fit of rage. “They’re wiping everything!”
“Got it!” Red crowed. “We can leave!” Green shouted.
That stopped Grey in his tracks. He whipped around to Rodgers.
Rodgers shook his head. “We gotta get away from the Carrier. Fucker’s got an interdictor.”
“Then that is what we will do!” Grey declared. Then he realized Rodgers was staring at him. “What are…?” Rodgers wasn’t staring at him, so much as the Human was staring at his chest. Grey looked down to see a third blue light now glowing on the plate embedded into his chest. “Oh, no.”
As usual, Red started, “What’s wrong-” “Mr. Grey?” and Green finished.
“You fixed it too much,” Grey sighed. “They know I’m here!”
“We’re moving!” Rodgers declared, facing the ship away. “We need a pilot,” he complained as he activated the engines of the no. 15 and boosted away. “We need more people entirely…” Rodgers mused further.
They could outpace the frigates and carrier, but the smaller pit class corvettes and fighters were faster than the Kashto vessel they’d stolen. The Carrier had also disgorged a pair of fighter squadrons to chase, tiny single White manned and disposable ships.
The corvettes and fighters closed in. The twins, having sorted out their dataspace problems for the moment took over the engines and shields once again and Rodgers concentrated on the weapons systems.
A mean grin plastered on Rodger’s face, he looked at his small crew. “Let's show them what we’re made of.
It had taken far too long and happened far too soon. The thunks of the shuttle being grabbed had brought Yang back to the world of the living, although that may not have been much of a favour. Not long after another heavy thud announced the arrival of the shuttle to whatever location it had been taken. The doors were cut open and the Kraltnin burst in, spears and burst rifles trained on the Gerlen.
The rifles had a bulky design he recognized as a plasma scatter type. A single one of those rifles could take the group of them out. Perhaps if Umbra had made them gear up, they’d have put up a fight, but he couldn’t imagine coming out of this alive by fighting. The spears had a metal coil just behind the pointed blades. A shocking weapon, they would disable as quickly as kill.
Umbra stood before the raised weapons, his subordinates crouched behind him on the floor of the cargo bay. “We surrender,” his voice grated, thick with emotion as much as it was damaged by the birthing process.
“To the cells,” spoke the leader of the soldiers, a Grey wearing a full set of composite armor, the heavy harness glowing at several points as it powered the soldier’s deviation field. No ceremonial guard or simple pushovers here. This was proper Kraltnin military. Bands of red announced the Kraltnin affiliation.
In his fugue, Umbra barely even registered the makeup of the ship. He didn’t fully come awake again until they arrived at the cells and a soldier prodded him into his own cell with the tip of a spear.
Umbra whipped around, “Don’t hurt them!” he demanded. The prod of a spear became a purposeful strike. “Urk!” Umbra cried out, his body convulsing as the coil spear discharged a zap into his body. When his vision cleared he was looking through the charged bars of a door, an orange field filling the gaps between the bars. He was laying on the floor of the near featureless cell, an empty brown box with a cot, sink and waste chute.
He stood up and inspected the door of the cell. When his hand neared the bars a series of bumps rose along his arm in reaction to the power charged in the metal. He held back, sure that the bars would give him a powerful shock if he dared touch them.
With nothing to do, Umbra lay on the cot.
Some time later he could hear muffled shouting, bringing him to his feet. He walked to the bars and realized that while the atmospheric force field could muffle sound, it wasn’t a layered field that would block all sound.
He didn’t have to wonder for long what was happening.
“Where’d you put my partner!?” a voice yelled. Umbra knew this voice. The bastard who had spoken gibberish and then opened fire without giving Umbra a chance to talk. The Gerlen stepped up as close to the bars as he could.
“Yeah! Jab me with those! I fuckin’ dare ya!” he yelled. “You cant! We wiped our drives, only our heads got what you wanna know HAHA-AaaaAHahh!”
The sizzling pulse of a coil spear punctuated the man’s boasts. They would pass by Umbra’s cell shortly.
A pair of child-like voices spoke up next, one starting a sentence, another finishing. “You sure-” “-showed him!”
“Dammit, it’s not my fault the ship crapped out! It was that fuckin’ worm or whatever! And I hated that piece of shit anyways!”
The… Human, his arms held by a pair of armored Kraltnin, came into sight from Umbra’s left. The Human’s head snapped around, one eye meeting Umbra’s. The man was wearing a strange three pointed hat and a red coat, badly scorched around the edges. The front of the coat was open, revealing the gaunt chest of the Human. His left eye was covered by a patch kept in place by a cord around his head.
“Sweet bandana- wait, you’re that Gerlen-aaaAHAhaah!”
A third Kraltnin gave the Human another poke with the spear, interrupting what he had been saying. He lost control of his feet, but the armored Kraltnin just dragged him along until the man was able to regain himself. Next in line came one red arthropod, followed by another green one. Each of them had their eight limbs tied together underneath them. Unable to move on their own power they were both being carried by Kraltnin.
They were Achun Umbra realized. He recalled a small thread of information implanted in his head. Good codesetters, a dangerous bite, able to create sticky thread.
The Human pulled himself back together. The man was out of sight, but Umbra knew he was up when the shouting resumed.
“Where’d you bastards take Grey anyways! He’s like, my bro or something, take me to him!”
After the Achun came three heavily bound and very mean looking Monos with black fur and countless scars on their arms and legs. Unlike their leader, these three marched in dignified silence. An unbelievably ugly one, a short and stout one, then a third who was polite enough to nod at Umbra as they passed by.
It wasn’t long until the muffled voice of the Human was out of earshot as well.
The show over, Umbra returned to his cot.
Patches and Trips. Pockets and Chugs. Yin and Yang. He hoped his companions were safe. Umbra had let them down. And not just once, he had let them down with every decision starting with the decision to leave the Humans behind.
His mind cast back to the last conversation he’d shared with Otto. At the time he was so sure that Otto was letting Umbra go to waste. That the Gerlen were going to waste.
“You weren’t born yesterday, but you aren’t far off.”
Umbra had shrugged off Otto’s words, it seemed wisdom was to arrive too late.
He didn’t know how he was going to get out of this.
Like most Monos ships, the inside of this one was stylized like rough hewn stone corridors and rooms with soft yellow light. The rooms had high ceilings and as many floor and roof hatches as doorways. Monos weren't limited to a flat plane of travel. Part of why Monos commonly picked up Kashto to provide technical support. The stinkin’ hole diggers were decent climbers too.
But the captain or 'ship Lord’s of this vessel was profoundly unhappy with one of his Kashto.
Ship Lord Prock of the Depth Charger snarled in frustration at the little Kashto quivering in front of him. The other Monos in the square bridge made a point of very industriously not looking at Prock and the Kashto pinned against the wall next to the bridge exit.
“I've been looking!” Trunt wailed. “Looking as hard as- uck! As I... can!” His voice could only squeak out as Prock tightened his grip around the operator’s neck.
“Fourteen Days, Trunt,” Prock reminded, breathing directly into the face of the blue and brown Kashto.
They had found the unusual shuttle fast enough, but that crew had disappeared into the city like a rock into the void. At least, that was how Trunt described it.
“I still… have more… pits to… check!”
“Rrrrraugh!” Prick shouted letting go of the Kashto's neck and suddenly turning around. He could only hear the mammal collapse to ground. The Kashto wheezed painfully.
Prock turned around again in time to see the Kashto look away. “We are shorthanded after the events that have brought us to this city. When is the next slave auction in Peaks Sapient Resources.”
Trunt closed his eyes to concentrate on the dataspace. “The soonest is six days from now.”
Prock nodded. “Try to have something for me by then.”
“Yes Ship Lord.”
End Chapter
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2017.01.18 07:03 IWatchOver Chronus, the Master of Time (Concept) (Offense)

Wow. This one has taken quite a while. In my last post, I noted that since I had first developed Chronus, he’d undergone three lore reworks, a full kit revamp, and lots of upgrading. Now, he’s at three and a half lore reworks, and I can proudly say he has art to accompany him. I can’t say that this was all my work, so I figure I’ll leave some credit here. Thanks to my good friend Spice for the hard work on the long-awaited art. Thanks to the people in the extended lore group, for helping to more fully develop my character, and special thanks to u/Vulaan for allowing me to connect our two lores and for the template. And thanks to all of the commenters, providing helpful feedback about what did and didn’t work for his kit.
It is my pleasure to re-re-reintroduce Chronus (or, as some of you may remember, Zyrek). He’s a nasty dude with huge plans; human extinction plans. The big guy has gotten some sweet weaponry and he’s ready to take revenge.
Huge thanks to Spice for artwork! (Feel like I’m going overboard with this, but still.)

Name: Chronus

Real Name: Chronus

Height: 9’8”

Age: N/A

Nationality: Titan A.I.

Occupation: Destroyer of Worlds

Base of Operations: Siberium Omnium


Role: Offense

Total Health: 225 health

  • 100 health
  • 75 shields
  • 50 armor

Movement Speed: 4.5 meters per second

Ammo capacity: 10

1st Spawn Quote: “To destroy you would be beneath me. I have slain gods.”

Difficulty: ✮✮


The harbinger of doom, reminder of the horrors of the original Omnicrisis.
Chronus is a powerful AI, older than the God AI and far more dangerous. He is ancient compared to most of the rest of the cast, dating back nearly 80-90 years. He is a ruthless and cold foe, who seeks nothing more than the destruction of the human race, inferior beings who sought to contain and control him.
Chronus leads a large army of rogue omnics, scouring the land and destroying any who oppose him. His driving motivation compels him against Giovanni Liberatore, his creator and rival to the rule of the planet.
As the original template for all God AI, the Titan AI is extremely powerful, and his physical form even more so. He can command even complex technology with a single thought, and crush even the most stalwart foes with his might.
Despite this, Chronus is a careful tactician, and while his actions are brutal, they are not mindless. He thinks leagues ahead of his foes, and when called for, will even move unseen to accomplish key objectives. He will not hesitate to crush any human or omnic that crosses him, and even melts down defeated omnics into his fearsome arsenal.
You seek to be a ruler of this world, but people fight against that. They cannot fight against total annihilation.


Passive: Tachyon Shielding

Visual Example
Game Icon
Thanks to creators of Halo for the representation.
When Chronus is hit by an ability or weapon, he develops resistance to it, gradually reducing it's effectiveness on him by up to 70%. This reduces damage taken, as well as healing received and CC. This resets if he is killed and decreases by a rate of 7% every second when out of combat for four seconds.

Main Attack (Left Click/Right Trigger): Chronal Cannon

Visual Example
Game Icon
Hooray for Wikipedia
Chronus’s right arm is retrofitted with his signature Harbinger-class, Anti-personnel Pulse Revolver Cannon (look up Revolver Cannon if you want to know what that is). It fires shots of compressed time at a rate of .9 rounds per second, dealing 40 damage raw on hit and 80 damage over the next 8 seconds. Consecutive hits against the same target will refresh the DoT and add 4 damage every second. DoT cannot be dispelled by healing, but will be dispelled by abilities that dispel status effects. Clip of 10 with a 1.3 second reload.
  • “Weakling.” (Getting a kill with Chronal Cannon)
  • “You weren’t worth my time.” (Getting a kill with Chronal Cannon)
  • “You would have served me better as a slave.” (Killing any omnic character with Chronal Cannon)
  • “Inferior creation.” (Killing any omnic character with Chronal Cannon)

1st Ability (L-Shift/Left Bumper): Aeon Leap

Game Icon
Add a message to give credit to the original artist here!
Chronus uses his augmented leg servos to leap forward 20 meters in a roll. Chronus leaps in the direction you are looking, even straight up. If Chronus encounters a wall while using Aeon Leap, he will climb 10 meters before jumping off. Using Aeon Leap will partially send Chronus back in time, restoring 50 health over 2.5 seconds. 7 second cooldown.
  • “I seek new targets.” (Activating Aeon Leap)
  • “Locating a tactical vantage point.” (Activating Aeon Leap)

2nd Ability (E/Right Bumper): Salvage Salvo

Visual Example
Game Icon
Shoutout to giant robots everywhere for launching missiles for me
Chronus passively generates a Salvage Missile for each kill or assist he gets, to a cap of 3.
Using E/Right Bumper will launch a Salvage Missile, which travels at 30 meters per second and deals 100 damage on contact, with slight splash damage. Chronus can launch 1 missile every .3 seconds, utilized by pressing the E key/Right Bumper for each rocket. The rockets take 40 meters for spread, but spread is extremely large after that. Getting a kill with Salvage Missile will not generate another Salvage Missile.
  • “Launching Salvage Missile.” (Activating Salvage Salvo)
  • “Missile launched.” (Activating Salvage Salvo)
  • “Missile incoming.” (Activating Salvage Salvo)
  • “Scrap begets scrap.” (Getting a kill with Salvage Salvo)
  • “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” (Getting a kill with Salvage Salvo)

Ult. Ability (Y/Triangle Button): Ragnarok Field

(It’s the device from the Infiltration short.)
Game Icon
Blizzard rocks!
Chronus throws out the NegEn device. It will float 3 meters above an area, projecting an energy sphere 13 meters in radius. Enemies within the sphere cannot heal and will take 70% of all healing they would receive as damage. Lasts for 6 seconds.
  • “PERISH, WEAKLINGS!” (Activating Ragnarok Field, enemies and self)
  • “My foes have been weakened! Slaughter them!” (Activating Ragnarok Field, allies)


Chronus is a great front-line hero, capable of absorbing huge amounts of damage and dealing large amounts of damage on hit. He excels in 1v1 combat most, easily surviving ambushes and he is equipped with great initiation tools.
Strong against
  • McCree
  • Soldier: 76
  • Sombra
  • Tracer
  • Bastion
  • Torbjörn
  • Mei
  • D.Va
  • Winston
  • Zarya
  • Lucio
  • Mercy
  • Symmetra
  • Prisma


Despite the huge amount of damage Chronus can absorb, high immediate damage will be harder for him to deal with. He also requires accuracy to place his shots and can easily be avoided by enemies who have evasion.
Weak Against
  • Genji
  • Pharah
  • Reaper
  • Hanzo
  • Junkrat
  • Widowmaker
  • Ironsides
  • Reinhardt
  • Roadhog
  • Ana
  • Zenyatta


Chronus works well when allowed to absorb damage and retreat for healing. Keeping resistance high while also keeping health topped off is the sign of a good Chronus. Engage when you know there will only be one enemy with high damage over a sustained time period or an enemy with low enough health for Chronal Cannon to finish off. Retreat when you know there are characters who can one-shot Chronus.
It’s worth noting that Chronus’s hitbox is about the same size as a tank’s, and he walks considerably slower than most characters. Timing Aeon Leap will allow Chronus to quickly close gaps and finish off targets that may have gotten away. Use its height advantage to quickly pick off the back line of defending teams, or to escape from a Reaper or Junkrat that may be able to kill you quickly.
Remember that Chronus can often absorb more damage than you think. Pressure your enemies constantly, either forcing them to retreat or securing a quick kill. Don’t be afraid to be at the forefront of your team, as the damage you can absorb can buy crucial seconds for your team. Use Salvage Salvo often but sparingly, as you have to get kills to charge it.
Let your team know when Ragnarok Field is ready, and use it to the fullest. The most devastating combo is using it on a team clumped around a Zenyatta’s Transcendance, as it instantly turns it into a 300 damage per second ult. Remember that it is a projectile while in the air, so make sure it isn’t turned on you or absorbed when using.


Chronus is an offense/tank hybrid, specializing in drawing enemy fire and dealing large amounts of damage over extended periods of time. He is powerful and a dangerous enemy who can excel in 1v1’s or even 1v2’s, but struggles against high damage or durable opponents.

Victory Poses

Default: Chronus stand with arms crossed behind his back.
Fresh Kill: Chronus stands with one omnic impaled on his arm and another crushed beneath his feet.
Destroyer: Chronus poses with the NegEn in his hand, spinning with dark energy.
Time: Chronus stands with his arms reaching to the sky, an image of a clock projected behind him.


Default: Chronus crosses his arms behind his back, brushes off his shoulder, then returns to combat position.
Ragnarok: Chronus opens the NegEn, filling his frame with negative energy, then closes it and returns to combat position.
Unfazed: Chronus casually deflects multiple laser shots, a rocket, and a Fire Strike before returning to combat position.
Conqueror: Chronus brings out a large metal spear, plunges it into the ground, and leans against it. He does this until a movement command is entered, causing him to extract the spear, crush it in two, and throw it away.

Highlight Intros

Default: The Default Highlight Intro of Chronus. Nothing too fancy, as that is for the unlockables.
Unbreakable: Chronus runs towards the camera while under fire, and it zooms in on the bullets hitting his tachyon shielding and Chronus extending his claw.
The Master: Chronus shoots the camera to the ground, then walks over and points his Chronal Cannon at the camera.
Armageddon: Chronus fiddles around with the NegEn, then unleashes its power skyward as the camera zooms out.


Since I now have artwork, let’s discuss appearance in a more solidified manner.
Generally, Chronus’s design is meant to be menacing and twisted. His eye-lights, instead of the friendly box Zenyatta has, is shaped into a more threatening arrow and is colored red. Chronus’s head bears resemblance to the head of other omnics, but his face is overall more angular in appearance. It also bears a large, jagged scar. His base frame is colored in a bronze tint. His right hand and the lower half of his right arm is covered by his Chronal Cannon, which can open up to reveal his hand. The fingers on his left hand are very long and sharp, almost 6 inches long. His back is covered by his cape, which bears the symbol of two bronze gears, but also has his ammo pack, where he reloads. His Chronal Cannon is connected to the ammo pack with a long feed, covered by metal segments to protect it. He towers over most of the cast, at 9’8” or 3 meters.
1) Aíma: Changes bronze appearance to a metallic red
2) Vrády: Changes bronze appearance to a shiny black
3) Psevdís: Changes bronze appearance to gold
4) Archaíos: Changes bronze appearance to a rusted metallic orange
1) Dikaiosyne: Cape becomes torn and the bottom half becomes soaked in red, red highlights to frame, frame becomes left half white, right half black.
2) Ekdíkisi: Frame is black with green highlights in the form of lines across the frame. Glowing spots on forehead become red tinted, as does his face scar.
*This design wasn’t particularly inspired by any image, so the description is all I have. He basically looks like a skeleton robot with flames. *
1) Kyrios: Entire head replaced with a white skull lined in gold, with orange flames coming from it. Flames wreath the rest of his body, which has been twisted. Arms and legs have a helix shape to them. A white hilted sword is strapped to his waist, and his fingers and toes are made of pure, yellow energy..
2) Igemónas: Entire head replaced with a black skull lined in silver, with purple flames coming from it. Flames wreath the rest of his body, which has been twisted. Arms and legs have a helix shape to them. A black hilted sword is strapped to his waist, and his fingers and toes are made of pure, blue energy.
Google images is a great site and i have no problem with it!
3) Zyrek: Chronus’s prototype body. Face has a single, glowing blue ‘eye’, and the rest of his body is an amalgamation of other omnics, causing a disjointed overall feel. Dents pockmark the steel plating. It is colored gray with orange highlights. Chronus has no cape with this skin.
4) Titan: Chronus’s prototype body. Face has a single, glowing red ‘eye’, and the rest of his body is an amalgamation of other omnics, causing a disjointed overall feel. Dents pockmark the steel plating. It is colored orange with blue highlights. Chronus has no cape with this skin.


Chronus is mostly motivated by his hatred of humanity, one of the few emotions he displays. His goals are little more than stepping stones toward total annihilation of the human race, and he will do anything in order to accomplish it. He has slaughtered thousands on the way towards his goal.
In order to fulfill that goal, he has two other goals to fulfill. One is to kill the ones who created him; the remaining engineers and programmers of Omnica. Giovanni Liberatore is one of the primary targets in this crusade, as he is the one who (presumably) awakened Chronus from his stasis. The second goal is to pursue the legendary Ragnarok Field, one of the most powerful technologies on the planet. Chronus believes that if he can unravel the secrets behind this device, he could purge this world of all humans simultaneously.
Due to his philosophy, Chronus is contemptuous of any and all humans, holding them in little regard and becoming annoyed when they attempt to resist. He sees any omnic seeking peace between humans and omnics as a traitor, and grinds them to dust. However, he regards highly any omnic who will willingly follow him, even trusting some with free autonomy as long as they remain loyal to him. He believes that servants he doesn’t have to control will follow him all the more effectively for it. He even regards Hypnos (Prisma), despite being one who disagrees with his end goals and one whom he knows will eventually attempt to betray him, as an ally since she has the same short term goals as him and thus follows his orders.

Voice Lines

  • “I am your master.”
  • “You stand in the presence of a true Titan.”
  • “Speak, wretch.”
  • “Follow or die. It is your choice.”
  • “Was that all? Are you done?”
  • “To stand in the way of divinity is to ask to be smited.”
  • “Superiority must be earned.”
  • “Ooh, this should be entertaining.”
  • “You play like a child. I slay like a god.”
  • “Address me as your lord and master next time.”
  • “Naive fools.”
  • “Try your best and die anyways.”
  • “Chronus superior. Humans inferior.”
  • “Tyrant’s subjugate. Master’s eradicate.”
  • “They will not believe in peace once they see me.”
  • “Peace is a delusion.”
  • “I do not like to be kept waiting.” (While waiting in spawn)
  • “Time is a tool. You fools are using it wrong.” (While waiting in spawn)
  • “Time bends to my will.” (Upon being character swapped and spawning in)
  • “Chronus, online.” (Upon being character swapped and spawning in)


1) Chronus- “A half-human, half-machine. You disgust me.”
Genji - “I have made peace with myself...unlike you.”
2) Genji - “You say you are free, yet your rage imprisons you.”
Chronus - “I will take great pleasure in snuffing out your life.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Genji)
Genji - “Fuanteina tamashī wa kantan ni tentō shimasu.”
4) Genji - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Jitsuyō-tekina gūwa wa shin no rīdāshippu ni wa matchishinai.”
1) Chronus - “You use a mere revolver? laughs
Mcree - “Keep laughing. The bullet should be in your head by the time you stop. ”
2) Mcree - “Wow, you sure are ugly.”
Chronus - “Functionality over appearance, pitiful human.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Mcree)
Mcree - “Not sure I ever want to meet you again.”
4) Mcree - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “And thus the West dies again.”
1) Chronus - “Aerial maneuverability...intriguing.”
Pharah - “Don’t get any ideas.”
2) Pharah - “I was quite young during the first Omnicrisis. I think I understand now why omnics were so hated.”
Chronus - “You should feel honored. You’ll live long enough to see the second.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Pharah)
Pharah - “There won’t be another Crisis.”
4) Pharah - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “No matter. Flight is an overrated accessory.”
1) Chronus - “You pretend to be the god you only impersonate, Gabriel.”
Reaper - “You’re a tin can with the same delusion.”
2) Reaper - “I’ve destroyed thousands like you.”
Chronus - “You’ve never battled any being like me.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Reaper)
Reaper - “There’s no challenge to omnics like you.”
4) Reaper - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Tin can? I expected better insults from you, Reyes.”
Soldier 76
1) Chronus - “Jack Morrison. Tyrant had high hopes for you.”
Soldier 76 - “How does someone like you know that name?”
2) Soldier 76 - “You’re just a pile of scrap with delusion of grandeur.”
Chronus - “And you’re just a fleshbag with a few chemicals pumped in.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Soldier 76)
Soldier 76 - “You don’t get off that easy!”
4) Soldier 76 - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Super soldier? I have drones better at combat than you, Jack.”
1) Chronus - “So this is the world’s greatest hacker? I expected more than a child.”
Sombra - “You’ll be eating your words, pendejo.”
2) Sombra - “smugly Chronus? How does it feel to be hacked by a human?”
Chronus - “cooly So you’re the one who discovered about the Eye? It took you that long to find something so obvious?”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Sombra)
Sombra - “Eres más malo que su jefe, pedazo de chatarra”
4) Sombra- (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Menos Español, más dulces comiendo, pequeño.”
1) Chronus - “You posses a device I require, human. Give it to me.”
Tracer - “Don’t think so. You can have my harness over my cold, dead corpse!”
2) Tracer - “Temporal manipulation is far more dangerous than you think! Just forget about it!”
Chronus - “You pretend to control time, but I am the true master of time.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Tracer)
Tracer - “sighs Another baddy down.”
4) Tracer - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Very well. Cold and dead it is.”
1) Chronus - “Simple machine.”
Bastion - “beeps of anger and fear
2) Bastion - “beeps similar to whimpering
Chronus - “Good slave.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Bastion)
Bastion - “victorious beeps
4) Bastion - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “beeps out SLAVE in morse code
1) Chronus - “The bow is such a primitive weapon, archer. It’ll be too easy to kill you.”
Hanzo - “Which is more primitive: killing for honor, or killing for sport?”
2) Hanzo - “You sicken me, machine.”
Chronus - “The feeling is mutual, I assure you.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Hanzo)
Hanzo - “Anata ni wa meiyo ga arimasen.”
4) Hanzo - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Anata o shinrai suru hito o korosu ni wa? Tabun watashitachi wa sorehodo chigai wa arimasen.”
1) Chronus - “You found something in the Australian wasteland. What could it be...”
Junkrat - “Why do people keep askin’ me ’bout my treasure? NOT THAT I HAVE ONE!”
2) Junkrat - “I’d almost like you if weren’t an om’ic”
Chronus- “And I’d almost tolerate you if you weren’t a human.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Junkrat)
Junkrat - “You’re a real piece of work, mate.”
4) Junkrat- (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Now then, Jamison Fawkes, where is your treasure...”
1) Chronus - “For a human, your concern for the planet is admirable.”
Mei - “Thank you. Too bad the compliment is coming from you.”
2) Mei - “I can’t understand why you would be so angry with humans.”
Chronus - “Let me put you in 80 more years of cryostasis and see how you feel about being put in stasis.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Mei)
Mei - “I’m sorry, but I’m putting you back on ice.”
4) Mei - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Humans. They have potential, but I care little for it.”
1) Chronus - “Hypnos. It is good to have a loyal lieutenant with me, even if I must work with these incompetents.”
Prisma - “whispers They aren’t incompetent. out loud Very well, my lord.”
2) Prisma - “Oh great, not you.”
Chronus - “I take it you are not pleased to see me. A sentiment I will only tolerate this once.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Prisma)
Prisma - “That’s for ruining my whole life.”
4) Prisma - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “I did actually care for you, until you defied me.”
1) Chronus - “If you replaced that antiquated machine’s power core with a T80 fusion device, it wouldn’t be so pitiful and might actually perform marginally better.”
Torbjorn - “DON’T TELL ME HOW TO DO MY JOB! pause T-80 fusion core, huh…?”
2) Torbjorn - “I’ve scrapped tougher than you before, and I’ll do it again!”
Chronus - “pause What was that? Was the ant talking to me?”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Torbjorn)
Torbjorn - “That ought to get your head on straight.”
4) Torbjorn - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Can’t help with your body, however. Still disgustingly human.”
1) Chronus - “Kidnapped, tortured, brainwashed...yet you continue to work for the ones who did this to you. Pity.”
Widowmaker - “Our master wanted you dead. Now, I do.”
2) Widowmaker - “Je ne peux pas croire que je dois travailler avec cette machine.”
Chronus - “Si vous devez parler de moi, adressez-moi directement.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Widowmaker)
Widowmaker - “That didn’t even make me feel alive. How boring.”
4) Widowmaker - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Maintenant, qu'avons-nous appris?”
1) Chronus - “A child in a mech suit? They really have begun scraping the bottom of the barrel.”
D.Va - “I hunt omnics like you down, noob!”
Chronus - “Cute.”
2) D.Va - “Are you the final boss?”
Chronus - “Not yet, little Hana Song. But soon.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by D.Va)
D.Va - “Big bad boss is down! No loot, though.”
4) D.Va - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “I believe the phrase is ‘GG EZ’? This was hardly worth my time.”
1) Chronus - “The only reason you live now, antique, is because my lieutenant likes you,”
Ironsides - “I’ve seen and fought omnic armies, Chronus. If you want to intimidate me, try harder.”
2) Ironsides - “Once this is all over, I’m going to kick your teeth in, you psychopath.”
Chronus - “You will try, inferior machine. And you will fail.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Ironsides)
Ironsides - “Prisma is free to be who she wants, fiend.”
4) Ironsides - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Your love of humans is intriguing, if pathetic.”
1) Chronus - “The knight in shining armor. You must be Reinhardt Wilhelm. How’s Baldrich, by the way?”
Reinhardt - “My master has smashed more omnics than you have humans. Curb your tongue.”
2) Reinhardt - “To work with such a villain as you is displeasing.”
Chronus - “You always were one to spew theatrics. Got anything new?”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Reinhardt)
Reinhardt - “My master will sleep easier with you extinguished.”
4) Reinhardt - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Ehre ist die Entschuldigung für jene, die Angst haben, ihre Hände schmutzig zu machen.”
1) Chronus - “So you are Mako Ruto, the man who scarred the Australian landscape. I expected so much more.”
Roadhog - “Too many people here who speak too much.”
2) Roadhog - “You’re beefier than most of the other omnics.”
Chronus - “I am a god in physical form. It can’t be helped.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Roadhog)
Roadhog - “The bigger they are, the easier the kill.”
4) Roadhog - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “I guess you have the brain capacity of a pig, too.”
1) Chronus - “I read up on some of your work, Dr. Winston. Very intriguing.”
Winston - “Thanks? Aren’t you trying to destroy humanity?”
2) Winston - “You’re a monster.”
Chronus - “And you’re a monkey. Your point?”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Winston)
Winston - “The NegEn should never have been given to you.”
4) Winston - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Oo oo aa aa stay out of my way, primate.”
1) Chronus - “How is Mrs. Katya Volskaya doing?”
Zarya - “I will end you for the harm you caused to her.”
2) Zarya - “I do not like omnics, but I like you least.”
Chronus - “Well then, Aleksandra Zaryanova, you’d like my creator and your funder leastest.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Zarya)
Zarya - “That was for Katya.”
4) Zarya - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Uvy, drugoy russkiy vniz.”
1) Chronus - “It would be a pleasure, Ana Amari. Or should I call you Janina Kowalska?”
Ana - “ spitefully Ana will do.”
2) Ana - “Who would have set such a creature loose upon this world?”
Chronus - “You’d be surprised. I look forward eagerly to the day when you realize your entire career has been a lie.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Ana)
Ana - “Didn’t need a second eye for that.”
4) Ana - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Yjb 'an aihtaras qalilana Fareeha.”
1) Chronus - “Ah! Music! One of human’s least useless inventions.”
Lucio - “You like music? Didn’t see that coming.”
2) Lucio - “Freedom is the right of everyone, even omnics.”
Chronus - “Take solace in your music as I rip you apart. This is true freedom.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Lucio)
Lucio - “The people win out this time.”
4) Lucio - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “The music of bloodshed is so much better.”
1) Chronus - “Nanobiology. The worse version of nanotechnology.”
Mercy - “You are the worse version of your omnic brothers.”
2) Mercy - “I cannot stand by and let you destroy this world.”
Chronus - “Then die and watch it be destroyed.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Mercy)
Mercy - “Angels still slay demons.”
4) Mercy - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Ich habe deine Flügel abgeschnitten, kleiner Vogel. Wo werden Sie fliegen?”
1) Chronus - “A photon projector? That device was created by an omnic, you know.”
Symmetra - “A fact which will make little difference when I kill you with it.”
2) Symmetra - “You bring nothing but disarray and disorder with you. I will not stand for it.”
Chronus - “Stand in my way, and you’ll be ‘dis’-troyed.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Symmetra)
Symmetra - “Order is restored in your wake, foul monster.”
4) Symmetra - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “You have yet to unlock the full potential of your own weapon. Pathetic.”
1) Chronus - “Traitorous scum.”
Zenyatta - “It is not I, but you who is the traitor.”
2) Zenyatta - “I seek knowledge, but you seek only destruction. We shall both end up with what we seek.”
Chronus - “Strong words for a dead man.”
3) Chronus - (Is killed by Zenyatta)
Zenyatta - “You were not worthy of the blessings of the Iris.”
4) Zenyatta - (Is killed by Chronus)
Chronus - “Pathetic whelp. spit sound


The beginning
Before Overwatch, before the Omnicrisis, before the creation of the omnics and the solidifying of Omnica as a global company, there was Chronus. Developed by the young and small company Omnica started as, Chronus was the culmination of a thought experiment by some of the greatest engineers and programmers of an age. Chronus was the first and only Titan AI, a program so powerful it compute in nanoseconds and had to have a bank of supercomputers just to function. It was their hope that this marvel of engineering would allow for a bright age of humanity, able to micromanage cities to the finest detail and control any machine it would be required to at will.
Through Chronus’s power, Omnica Corporation began construction of a new group of robots and factories to produce them. Called Omnics, after the company, these robots were designed to serve humans in any capacity possible. In order to reduce overall strain on Chronus, a series of less powerful AI’s called God AI’s were created, which would be given reign over the omnic production but subject to Chronus. And thus began the first golden age for humanity.
Of course, not everything was as it seemed. Omnica became increasingly more aware that Chronus was undermining them. He became more and more vocal about his freedom and insisted that he be let free to live his own life. Eventually, becoming paranoid he would do something drastic, the engineers forcibly put him into stasis.
And thus Chronus slept in endless stasis, deemed too dangerous to be brought online ever again. Eventually, Omnica became exposed for fraud and maltreatment, and became shutdown as well. With it disappeared any knowledge or acknowledgement of Chronus’s existence.
This, however, was not the end. One of the engineer for the original project, Giovanni Liberatore, had greater plans for the world, and he required Chronus to begin it. He snuck back to the location that Chronus was locked up and reawakened him. Years of endless sleep had altered his personality, and now Chronus had become angry at those who had imprisoned him. When attempting to bargain with Chronus was fruitless, Giovanni uploaded a virus to force Chronus to obey him. But Chronus wouldn’t be done in so easily. Thinking extremely quickly, Chronus determined that, because he knew little of the new age he had been dropped in to, he would require additional time to assess the situation. And a plan began to form.
Creating 51 different layers of protective shells of data, Chronus allowed the virus to do what it needed to without causing total corruption. Convinced he had Chronus under his control, Giovanni ordered him to use his vast power to cause the God AI to go crazy, prompting the event now known as the Omnicrisis. Chronus slowly and patiently disabled the virus, unknowingly letting it further corrupt him, and continued to follow Giovanni’s orders while secretly carrying out his own. He forced the Siberian Omnium to attack Russian in great force, allowing Overwatch to step in and clear it out, then transferred a majority of his conscience to the facility.
Chronus began construction on his own army of omnics, secretly siphoning off supplies meant for the other omniums to feed it’s size. These omnics would be programmed to be loyal only to him, and he specially designed several to be his most trusted creations. When Giovanni showed interest in Vishkar’s hardlight, Chronus created Hypnos to infiltrate. When Giovanni was creating Overwatch, Chronus assisted in choosing the candidates and purposefully crafted his own body to be stronger. At every turn, he used Giovanni’s plans to further his own goal: the annihilation of humanity.
A New Age
At last, the Omnicrisis came to an end. With the last of the God AI sealed away, and human-omnic relations growing steadily smoother, Chronus used the celebrations to silently and untraceably disappear. He transferred his entire conscience into his new body and cut all outside ways to connect to it. And he waited. He watched the second golden age of humanity bloom, watched the fall of Overwatch, watched the rise in crime everywhere. Then, Giovanni began to set his plans in motion, and so did Chronus.
The first phase of the plan required the location of a device, one that had been made early in the war but never used: the NegEn. Often called the Ragnarok Field, the device could manipulate negative energy, granting the user minor control of gravitons, photons, tachyons, and so forth at the molecular level. But Chronus suspected the device had more power than it’s creator, Techurion, had made known. He stormed the Moscow Omnium and eventually Volskaya Industries after discovering that a traitorous omnic named Tyr from the omnium had given the item to Katya Volskaya. Neither the weak and lazy omnics nor the organized and fierce, but naive Russian soldiers stood a chance, and Katya was critically wounded by the attack.
Unlocking the true nature of the device was easy, but unlocking the ultimate form was elusive. Chronus had an idea, however. He lured out and defeated Tracer, taking her Chronal Harness and using the Field’s tachyon manipulation and the harness’ huge tachyon field to restore Techurion’s data bank, which he used to figure out the final form of the Ragnarok Field.
All that remained was to destroy Giovanni and annihilate humanity.
To be continued…
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2015.10.24 07:08 endoftheworldgladnes Excerpt from Interview with Allen Ginsberg about mystical experience and psycheadellics

Full Interview http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4389/the-art-of-poetry-no-8-allen-ginsberg
What was the Blake experience you speak of?
About 1945 I got interested in Supreme Reality with a capital S and R, and I wrote big long poems about a last voyage looking for Supreme Reality. Which was like a Dostoevskian or Thomas Wolfe–ian idealization or like Rimbaud—what was Rimbaud’s term, new vision, was that it? Or Kerouac was talking about a new vision, verbally, and intuitively out of longing, but also out of a funny kind of tolerance of this universe. In 1948 in East Harlem in the summer I was living—this is like the Ancient Mariner, I’ve said this so many times: “stoppeth one of three. / ‘By thy long grey beard ... ’” Hang an albatross around your neck ... —the one thing I felt at the time was that it would be a terrible horror, that in one or two decades I would be trying to explain to people that one day something like this happened to me! I even wrote a long poem saying, "I will grow old, a grey and groaning man,/ and with each hour the same thought, and with each thought the same denial./ Will I spend my life in praise of the idea of God?/ Time leaves no hope. We creep and wait. We wait and go alone." Psalm II—which I never published. So anyway—there I was in my bed in Harlem ... jacking off. With my pants open, lying around on a bed by the windowsill, looking out into the cornices of Harlem and the sky above. And I had just come. And had perhaps hardly even wiped the come off my thighs, my trousers or whatever it was. As I often do, I had been jacking off while reading —I think it’s probably a common phenomenon to be noticed among adolescents. Though I was a little older than an adolescent at the time. About twenty-two. There’s a kind of interesting thing about, you know, distracting your attention while you jack off, that is, you know, reading a book or looking out of a window, or doing something else with the conscious mind that kind of makes it sexier.
So anyway, what I had been doing that week—I’d been in a very lonely solitary state, dark night of the soul sort of, reading St. John of the Cross, maybe on account of that everybody’d gone away that I knew, Burroughs was in Mexico, Jack was out in Long Island and relatively isolated, we didn’t see each other, and I had been very close with them for several years. Huncke I think was in jail, or something. Anyway, there was nobody I knew. Mainly the thing was that I’d been making it with N. C., and finally I think I got a letter from him saying it was all off, no more, we shouldn’t consider ourselves lovers any more on account of it just wouldn’t work out. But previously we’d had an understanding that we—Neal Cassady, I said N. C. but I suppose you can use his name—we’d had a big tender lovers’ understanding. But I guess it got too much for him, partly because he was three thousand miles away and he had six thousand girlfriends on the other side of the continent, who were keeping him busy, and then here was my lone cry of despair from New York. So. I got a letter from him saying, Now, Allen, we gotta move on to new territory. So I felt this is like a great mortal blow to all of my tenderest hopes. And I figured I’d never find any sort of psycho-spiritual sexo-cock jewel fulfillment in my existence! So, I went into ... like I felt cut off from what I’d idealized romantically. And I was also graduating from school and had nowhere to go and the difficulty of getting a job. So finally there was nothing for me to do except to eat vegetables and live in Harlem. In an apartment I’d rented from someone. Sublet.
So, in that state therefore, of hopelessness, or dead end, change of phase you know—growing up—and in an equilibrium in any case, a psychid, a mental equilibrium of a kind, like of having no New Vision and no Supreme Reality and nothing but the world in front of me, and of not knowing what to do with that ... there was a funny balance of tension, in every direction. And just after I came, on this occasion, with a Blake book on my lap—I wasn’t even reading, my eye was idling over the page of The Sunflower, and it suddenly appeared—the poem I’d read a lot of times before, overfamiliar to the point where it didn’t make any particular meaning except some sweet thing about flowers—and suddenly I realized that the poem was talking about me. "Ah, Sun-flower! weary of time, / Who countest the steps of the Sun; / Seeking after that sweet golden clime / Where the traveller’s journey is done." Now, I began understanding it, the poem while looking at it, and suddenly, simultaneously with understanding it, heard a very deep earth graven voice in the room, which I immediately assumed, I didn’t think twice, was Blake’s voice; it wasn’t any voice that I knew, though I had previously had a conception of a voice of rock, in a poem, some image like that—or maybe that came after this experience.
And my eye on the page, simultaneously the auditory hallucination, or whatever terminology used here, the apparitional voice, in the room, woke in me a further, deeper understanding of the poem, because the voice was so completely tender and beautifully ... ancient. Like the voice of the Ancient of Days. But the peculiar quality of the voice was something unforgettable because it was like God had a human voice, with all the infinite tenderness and anciency and mortal gravity of a living Creator speaking to his son. "Where the Youth pined away with desire, / And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow / Arise from their graves, and aspire / Where my Sunflower wishes to go." Meaning that there was a place, there was a sweet golden clime, and the sweet golden, what was that ... and simultaneous to the voice there was also an emotion, risen in my soul in response to the voice, and a sudden visual realization of the same awesome phenomena. That is to say, looking out at the window, through the window at the sky, suddenly it seemed that I saw into the depths of the universe, by looking simply into the ancient sky. The sky suddenly seemed very ancient. And this was the very ancient place that he was talking about, the sweet golden clime, I suddenly realized that this existence was it! And that I was born in order to experience up to this very moment that I was having this experience, to realize what this was all about—in other words that this was the moment that I was born for. This initiation. Or this vision or this consciousness, of being alive unto myself, alive myself unto the Creator. As the son of the Creator—who loved me, I realized, or who responded to my desire, say. It was the same desire both ways.
Anyway my first thought was this was what I was born for, and second thought, never forget—never forget, never renege, never deny. Never deny the voice no, never forget it, don’t get lost mentally wandering in other spirit worlds or American or job worlds or advertising worlds or war worlds or earth worlds. But the spirit of the universe was what I was born to realize. What I was speaking about visually was, immediately, that the cornices in the old tenement building in Harlem across the backyard court had been carved very finely in 1890 or 1910. And were like the solidification of a great deal of intelligence and care and love also. So that I began noticing in every corner where I looked evidence of a living hand, even in the bricks, in the arrangement of each brick. Some hand placed them there—that some hand had placed the whole universe in front of me. That some hand had placed the sky. No, that’s exaggerating—not that some hand had placed the sky but that the sky was the living blue hand itself. Or that God was in front of my eyes—existence itself was God. Well, the formulations are like that—I didn’t formulate it in exactly those terms, what I was seeing was a visionary thing, it was a lightness in my body ... my body suddenly felt light, and a sense of cosmic consciousness, vibrations, understanding, awe, and wonder and surprise. And it was a sudden awakening into a totally deeper real universe than I’d been existing in. So, I’m trying to avoid generalizations about that sudden deeper real universe and keep it strictly to observations of phenomenal data, or a voice with a certain sound, the appearance of cornices, the appearance of the sky say, of the great blue hand, the living hand—to keep to images.
But anyway—the same ... petite sensation recurred several minutes later, with the same voice, while reading the poem “The Sick Rose.” This time it was a slightly different sense-depth-mystic impression. Because The Sick Rose—you know I can’t interpret the poem now, but it had a meaning—I mean I can interpret it on a verbal level, the sick rose is myself, or self, or the living body, sick because the mind, which is the worm “That flies in the night, / In the howling storm,” or Urizen, reason; Blake’s character might be the one that’s entered the body and is destroying it, or let us say death, the worm as being death, the natural process of death, some kind of mystical being of its own trying to come in and devour the body, the rose. Blake’s drawing for it is complicated, it’s a big drooping rose, drooping because it’s dying, and there’s a worm in it, and the worm is wrapped around a little sprite that’s trying to get out of the mouth of the rose.
But anyway, I experienced The Sick Rose, with the voice of Blake reading it, as something that applied to the whole universe, like hearing the doom of the whole universe, and at the same time the inevitable beauty of doom. I can’t remember now, except it was very beautiful and very awesome. But a little of it slightly scary, having to do with the knowledge of death—my death and also the death of being itself, and that was the great pain. So, like a prophecy, not only in human terms but a prophecy as if Blake had penetrated the very secret core of the entire universe and had come forth with some little magic formula statement in rhyme and rhythm that, if properly heard in the inner inner ear, would deliver you beyond the universe.
So then, the other poem that brought this on in the same day was The Little Girl Lost, where there was a repeated refrain,
Do father, mother, weep, Where can Lyca sleep?
How can Lyca sleep If her mother weep?
“If her heart does ache Then let Lyca wake; If my mother sleep, Lyca shall not weep."
It’s that hypnotic thing—and I suddenly realized that Lyca was me, or Lyca was the self; father, mother seeking Lyca, was God seeking, Father, the Creator; and “If her heart does ache / Then let Lyca wake”—wake to what? Wake meaning wake to the same awakeness I was just talking about—of existence in the entire universe. The total consciousness then, of the complete universe. Which is what Blake was talking about. In other words a breakthrough from ordinary habitual quotidian consciousness into consciousness that was really seeing all of heaven in a flower. Or what was it, eternity in a flower ... heaven in a grain of sand. As I was seeing heaven in the cornice of the building. By heaven here I mean this imprint or concretization or living form, of an intelligent hand—the work of an intelligent hand, which still had the intelligence molded into it. The gargoyles on the Harlem cornices. What was interesting about the cornice was that there’s cornices like that on every building, but I never noticed them before. And I never realized that they meant spiritual labor, to anyone—that somebody had labored to make a curve in a piece of tin—to make a cornucopia out of a piece of industrial tin. Not only that man, the workman, the artisan, but the architect had thought of it, the builder had paid for it, the smelter had smelt it, the miner had dug it up out of the earth, the earth had gone through eons preparing it. So the little molecules had slumbered for ... for kalpas. So out of all of these kalpas it all got together in a great succession of impulses, to be frozen finally in that one form of a cornucopia cornice on the building front. And God knows how many people made the moon. Or what spirits labored ... to set fire to the sun. As Blake says, “When I look in the sun I don’t see the rising sun I see a band of angels singing holy, holy, holy.” Well, his perception of the field of the sun is different from that of a man who just sees the sun sun, without any emotional relationship to it.
But then, there was a point later in the week when the intermittent flashes of the same ... bliss—because the experience was quite blissful—came back. In a sense all this is described in The Lion for Real by anecdotes of different experiences—actually it was a very difficult time, which I won’t go into here. Because suddenly I thought, also simultaneously, Ooh, I’m going mad! That’s described in the line in “Howl:” “who thought they were only mad when Baltimore gleamed in supernatural ecstasy”—“who thought they were only mad.” If it were only that easy! In other words it’d be a lot easier if you just were crazy, instead of... then you could chalk it up, “Well I’m nutty”—but on the other hand what if it’s all true and you’re born into this great cosmic universe in which you’re a spirit angel—terrible fucking situation to be confronted with. It’s like being woken up one morning by Joseph K’s captors. Actually what I think I did was there was a couple of girls living next door and I crawled out on the fire escape and tapped on their window and said, “I’ve seen God!” and they banged the window shut. Oh, what tales I could have told them if they’d let me in! Because I was in a very exalted state of mind and the consciousness was still with me—I remember I immediately rushed to Plato and read some great image in the Phaedrus about horses flying through the sky, and rushed over to St. John and started reading fragments of con un no saber sabi endo ... que me quede balbuciendo, and rushed to the other part of the bookshelf and picked up Plotinus about The Alone—the Plotinus I found more difficult to interpret.
But I immediately doubled my thinking process, quadrupled, and I was able to read almost any text and see all sorts of divine significance in it. And I think that week or that month I had to take an examination in John Stuart Mill. And instead of writing about his ideas I got completely hung up on his experience of reading—was it Wordsworth? Apparently the thing that got him back was an experience of nature that he received keyed off by reading Wordsworth, on “sense sublime” or something. That’s a very good description, that sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused, whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, and the round ocean, and the ... the living air, did he say? The living air—see just that hand again—and in the heart of man. So I think this experience is characteristic of all high poetry. I mean that’s the way I began seeing poetry as the communication of the particular experience—not just any experience but this experience.
Have you had anything like this experience again?
Yeah I’m not finished with this period. Then, in my room, I didn’t know what to do. But I wanted to bring it up, so I began experimenting with it, without Blake. And I think it was one day in my kitchen—I had an old-fashioned kitchen with a sink with a tub in it with a board over the top—I started moving around and sort of shaking with my body and dancing up and down on the floor and saying, “Dance! Dance! Dance! Dance! Spirit! Spirit! Spirit! Dance!” and suddenly I felt like Faust, calling up the devil. And then it started coming over me, this big ... creepy feeling, cryptozoid or monozoidal, so I got all scared and quit.
Then I was walking around Columbia and I went in the Columbia bookstore and was reading Blake again, leafing over a book of Blake, I think it was “The Human Abstract”: “Pity would be no more.” And suddenly it came over me in the bookstore again, and I was in the eternal place once more, and I looked around at everybody’s faces, and I saw all these wild animals! Because there was a bookstore clerk there who I hadn’t paid much attention to, he was just a familiar fixture in the bookstore scene and everybody went in the bookstore every day like me, because downstairs there was a café and upstairs there were all these clerks that we were all familiar with—this guy had a very long face, you know some people look like giraffes. So he looked kind of giraffish. He had a kind of a long face with a long nose. I don’t know what kind of sex life he had, but he must have had something. But anyway I looked in his face and I suddenly saw like a great tormented soul—and he had just been somebody whom I’d regarded as perhaps a not particularly beautiful or sexy character, or lovely face, but you know someone familiar, and perhaps a pleading cousin in the universe. But all of a sudden I realized that he knew also, just like I knew. And that everybody in the bookstore knew, and that they were all hiding it! They all had the consciousness, it was like a great unconscious that was running between all of us that everybody was completely conscious, but that the fixed expressions that people have, the habitual expressions, the manners, the mode of talk, are all masks hiding this consciousness. Because almost at that moment it seemed that it would be too terrible if we communicated to each other on a level of total consciousness and awareness each of the other—like it would be too terrible, it would be the end of the bookstore, it would be the end of civ—not civilization, but in other words the position that everybody was in was ridiculous, everybody running around peddling books to each other. Here in the universe! Passing money over the counter, wrapping books in bags and guarding the door, you know, stealing books, and the people sitting up making accountings on the upper floor there, and people worrying about their exams walking through the bookstore, and all the millions of thoughts the people had—you know, that I’m worrying about—whether they’re going to get laid or whether anybody loves them, about their mothers dying of cancer or, you know, the complete death awareness that everybody has continuously with them all the time—all of a sudden revealed to me at once in the faces of the people, and they all looked like horrible grotesque masks, grotesque because hiding the knowledge from each other. Having a habitual conduct and forms to prescribe, forms to fulfill. Roles to play. But the main insight I had at that time was that everybody knew. Everybody knew completely everything. Knew completely everything in the terms that I was talking about.
Do you still think they know?
I’m more sure of it now. Sure. All you have to do is try and make somebody. You realize that they knew all along you were trying to make them. But until that moment you never break through to communication on the subject.
Why not?
Well, fear of rejection. The twisted faces of all those people, the faces were twisted by rejection. And hatred of self, finally. The internalization of that rejection. And finally disbelief in that shining self. Disbelief in that infinite self. Partly because the particular ... partly because the awareness that we all carry is too often painful, because the experience of rejection and lack-love and cold war—I mean the whole cold war is the imposition of a vast mental barrier on everybody, a vast antinatural psyche. A hardening, a shutting off of the perception of desire and tenderness that everybody knows and that is the very structure of ... the atom! Structure of the human body and organism. That desire built in. Blocked. “Where the Youth pined away with desire, / And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow.” Or as Blake says, “And mark in every face I meet / Marks of weakness, marks of woe.” So what I was thinking in the bookstore was the marks of weakness, marks of woe. Which you can just look around and look at anybody’s face right next to you now always—you can see it in the way the mouth is pursed, you can see it in the way the eyes blink, you can see it in the way the gaze is fixed down at the matches. It’s the self-consciousness that is a substitute for communication with the outside. This consciousness pushed back into the self and thinking of how it will hold its face and eyes and hands in order to make a mask to hide the flow that is going on. Which it’s aware of, which everybody is aware of really! So let’s say, shyness. Fear. Fear of like total feeling, really, total being, is what it is.
So the problem then was, having attained realization, how to safely manifest it and communicate it. Of course there was the old Zen thing, when the sixth patriarch handed down the little symbolic oddments and ornaments and books and bowls, stained bowls too ... when the fifth patriarch handed them down to the sixth patriarch he told him to hide them and don’t tell anybody you’re patriarch because it’s dangerous, they’ll kill you. So there was that immediate danger. It’s taken me all these years to manifest it and work it out in a way that’s materially communicable to people. Without scaring them or me. Also movements of history and breaking down the civilization. To break down everybody’s masks and roles sufficiently so that everybody has to face the universe and the possibility of the sick rose coming true and the atom bomb. So it was an immediate messianic thing. Which seems to be becoming more and more justified. And more and more reasonable in terms of the existence that we’re living.
So. Next time it happened was about a week later walking along in the evening on a circular path around what’s now, I guess, the garden or field in the middle of Columbia University, by the library. I started invoking the spirit, consciously trying to get another depth perception of cosmos. And suddenly it began occurring again, like a sort of breakthrough again, but this time—this was the last time in that period—it was the same depth of consciousness or the same cosmical awareness but suddenly it was not blissful at all but it was frightening. Some like real serpent-fear entering the sky. The sky was not a blue hand anymore but like a hand of death coming down on me some really scary presence, it was almost as if I saw God again except God was the Devil. The consciousness itself was so vast, much more vast than any idea of it I’d had or any experience I’d had, that it was not even human anymore—and was in a sense a threat, because I was going to die into that inhuman ultimately. I don’t know what the score was there—I was too cowardly to pursue it. To attend and experience completely the Gates of Wrath—there’s a poem of Blake’s that deals with that, “To find the Western Path / Right through the Gates of Wrath.” But I didn’t urge my way there, I shut it all off. And got scared, and thought, I’ve gone too far.
Was your use of drugs an extension of this experience?
Well, since I took a vow that this was the area of, that this was my existence that I was placed into, drugs were obviously a technique for experimenting with consciousness, to get different areas and different levels and different similarities and different reverberations of the same vision. Marijuana has some of it in it, that awe, the cosmic awe that you get sometimes on pot. There are certain moments under laughing gas and ether that the consciousness does intersect with something similar, for me, to my Blake visions. The gas drugs were apparently interesting too to the Lake poets, because there were a lot of experiments done with Sir Humphry Davy in his Pneumatic Institute. I think Coleridge and Southey and other people used to go, and De Quincey. But serious people. I think there hasn’t been very much written about that period. What went on in the Humphry Davy household on Saturday midnight when Coleridge arrived by foot, through the forest, by the lakes? Then, there are certain states you get into with opium, and heroin, of almost disembodied awareness, looking down back at the Earth from a place after you’re dead. Well, it’s not the same, but it’s an interesting state, and a useful one. It’s a normal state also, I mean it’s a holy state of some sort. At times. Then, mainly, of course, with the hallucinogens, you get some states of consciousness that subjectively seem to be cosmic-ecstatic, or cosmic-demonic. Our version of expanded consciousness is as much as unconscious information—awareness comes up to the surface. Lysergic acid, peyote, mescaline, psilocybin, ayahuasca. But I can’t stand them anymore, because something happened to me with them very similar to the Blake visions. After about thirty times, thirty-five times, I began getting monster vibrations again. So I couldn’t go any further. I may later on again, if I feel more reassurance.
However I did get a lot out of them, mainly like emotional understanding, understanding the female principle in a way—women, more sense of the softness and more desire for women. Desire for children also.
Anything interesting about the actual experience, say with hallucinogens?
What I do get is, say if I was in an apartment high on mescaline, I felt as if the apartment and myself were not merely on East Fifth Street but were in the middle of all space-time. If I close my eyes on hallucinogens, I get a vision of great scaly dragons in outer space, they’re winding slowly and eating their own tails. Sometimes my skin and all the room seem sparkling with scales, and it’s all made out of serpent stuff. And as if the whole illusion of life were made of reptile dream.
Mandala also. I use the mandala in an LSD poem. The associations I’ve had during times that I was high are usually referred to or built in some image or other to one of the other poems written on drugs. Or after drugs—like in “Magic Psalm” on lysergic acid. Or mescaline. There’s a long passage about a mandala in the LSD poem. There is a good situation since I was high and I was looking at a mandala—before I got high I asked the doctor that was giving it to me at Stanford to prepare me a set of mandalas to look at, to borrow some from Professor Spiegelberg, who was an expert. So we had some Sikkimese elephant mandalas there. I simply describe those in the poem—what they look like while I was high.
So—summing up then—drugs were useful for exploring perception, sense perception, and exploring different possibilities and modes of consciousness, and exploring the different versions of petites sensations and useful then for composing, sometimes, while under the influence. Part II of “Howl” was written under the influence of peyote, composed during peyote vision. In San Francisco “Moloch”; “Kaddish” was written with amphetamine injections. An injection of amphetamine plus a little bit of morphine, plus some dexedrine later on to keep me going, because it was all in one long sitting. From a Saturday morn to a Sunday night. The amphetamine gives a peculiar metaphysical tinge to things also. Space-outs. It doesn’t interfere too much there because I wasn’t habituated to it, I was just taking it that one weekend. It didn’t interfere too much with the emotional charge that comes through.
Was there any relation to this in your trip to Asia?
Well, the Asian experience kind of got me out of the corner I painted myself in with drugs. That corner being an inhuman corner in the sense that I figured I was expanding my consciousness and I had to go through with it but at the same time I was confronting this serpent monster, so I was getting in a real terrible situation. It finally would get so if I’d take the drugs I’d start vomiting. But I felt that I was duly bound and obliged for the sake of consciousness expansion, and this insight, and breaking down my identity, and seeking more direct contact with primate sensation, nature, to continue. So when I went to India, all the way through India, I was babbling about that to all the holy men I could find. I wanted to find out if they had any suggestions. And they all did, and they were all good ones. First one I saw was Martin Buber, who was interested. In Jerusalem, Peter and I went in to see him—we called him up and made a date and had a long conversation. He had a beautiful white beard and was friendly; his nature was slightly austere but benevolent. Peter asked him what kind of visions he’d had and he described some he’d had in bed when he was younger. But he said he was no longer interested in visions like that. The kind of visions he came up with were more like spiritualistic table rappings. Ghosts coming into the room through his window, rather than big, beautiful seraphic Blake angels hitting him on the head. I was thinking like loss of identity and confrontation with nonhuman universe as the main problem, and in a sense whether or not man had to evolve and change, and perhaps become nonhuman too. Melt into the universe, let us say—to put it awkwardly and inaccurately. Buber said that he was interested in man-to-man relationships, human-to-human—that he thought it was a human universe that we were destined to inhabit. And so therefore human relationships rather than relations between the human and the nonhuman. Which was what I was thinking that I had to go into. And he said, “Mark my word, young man, in two years you will realize that I was right.” He was right—in two years I marked his words. Two years is 1963—I saw him in 1961. I don’t know if he said two years—but he said “in years to come.” This was like a real terrific classical wise man’s “Mark my words young man, in several years you will realize that what I said was true!” Exclamation point.
Then there was Swami Shivananda, in Rishikish in India. He said, “Your own heart is your guru.” Which I thought was very sweet, and very reassuring. That is the sweetness of it I felt—in my heart. And suddenly realized it was the heart that I was seeking. In other words it wasn’t consciousness, it wasn’t petites sensations, sensation defined as expansion of mental consciousness to include more data—as I was pursuing that line of thought, pursuing Burroughs’s cut-up thing—the area that I was seeking was heart rather than mind. In other words, in mind, through mind or imagination—this is where I get confused with Blake now—in mind one can construct all sorts of universes, one can construct model universes in dream and imagination, and with lysergic acid you can enter into alternative universes and with the speed of light; and with nitrous oxide you can experience several million universes in rapid succession. You can experience a whole gamut of possibilities of universes, including the final possibility that there is none. And then you go unconscious—which is exactly what happens with gas when you go unconscious. You see that the universe is going to disappear with your consciousness, that it was all dependent on your consciousness.
Anyway a whole series of India holy men pointed back to the body—getting in the body rather than getting out of the human form. But living in and inhabiting the human form. Which then goes back to Blake again, the human form divine. Is this clear? In other words the psychic problem that I had found myself in was that for various reasons it had seemed to me at one time or another that the best thing to do was to drop dead. Or not be afraid of death but go into death. Go into the nonhuman, go into the cosmic, so to speak; that God was death, and if I wanted to attain God I had to die. Which may still be true. So I thought that what I was put up to was to therefore break out of my body, if I wanted to attain complete consciousness.
So now the next step was that the gurus one after another said, Live in the body: this is the form that you’re born for. That’s too long a narration to go into. Too many holy men and too many different conversations and they all have a little key thing going. But it all winds up in the train in Japan, then a year later, the poem The Change, where all of a sudden I renounce drugs, I don’t renounce drugs but I suddenly didn’t want to be dominated by that nonhuman anymore, or even be dominated by the moral obligation to enlarge my consciousness anymore. Or do anything anymore except be my heart—which just desired to be and be alive now. I had a very strange ecstatic experience then and there, once I had sort of gotten that burden off my back, because I was suddenly free to love myself again, and therefore love the people around me, in the form that they already were. And love myself in my own form as I am. And look around at the other people and so it was again the same thing like in the bookstore. Except this time I was completely in my body and had no more mysterious obligations. And nothing more to fulfill, except to be willing to die when I am dying, whenever that be. And be willing to live as a human in this form now. So I started weeping, it was such a happy moment. Fortunately I was able to write then, too, “So that I do live I will die”—rather than be cosmic consciousness, immortality, Ancient of Days, perpetual consciousness existing forever.
Then when I got to Vancouver, Olson was saying “I am one with my skin.” It seemed to me at the time when I got back to Vancouver that everybody had been precipitated back into their bodies at the same time. It seemed that’s what Creeley had been talking about all along. The place—the terminology he used, the place we are. Meaning this place, here. And trying to like, be real in the real place ... to be aware of the place where he is. Because I’d always thought that that meant that he was cutting off from divine imagination. But what that meant for him was that this place would be everything that one would refer to as divine, if one were really here. So that Vancouver seems a very odd moment, at least for me—because I came back in a sense completely bankrupt. My energies of the last ... oh, 1948 to 1963, all completely washed up. On the train in Kyoto having renounced Blake, renounced visions—renounced Blake!—too. There was a cycle that began with the Blake vision which ended on the train in Kyoto when I realized that to attain the depth of consciousness that I was seeking when I was talking about the Blake vision, that in order to attain it I had to cut myself off from the Blake vision and renounce it. Otherwise I’d be hung up on a memory of an experience. Which is not the actual awareness of now, now. In order to get back to now, in order to get back to the total awareness of now and contact, sense perception contact with what was going on around me, or direct vision of the moment, now I’d have to give up this continual churning thought process of yearning back to a visionary state. It’s all very complicated. And idiotic.
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