At least it's getting later, not that the Feds are going to be able to sleep...
The rest of this series can be found here
Mark Black took a deep breath and walked into his wife’s room.
Shelly was a bloated, twisted monstrosity, her body ravaged by the same illness that had left him entirely untouched… for now...
The disease that he gave her...
She looked over at him and smiled weakly.
“Hello, princess,” Mark said with a little smile. “How are you today?”
“It hurts…” she managed to whisper.
“I’m so sorry,” he said with tears in his eyes as he took her withered hand. The skin split at his touch and what oozed out wasn’t blood. “I-”
“When are you going to… (cough) stop with all the apologizing,” she whispered. “I agreed to it and I don’t do anything I don’t wanna do. Stop being such a little bitch about it.”
Mark let out a little laugh.
“It just happened,” he said with a smile. “We knocked the shit out of them.”
“(cough cough) I know. I could hear people losing their minds outside. I couldn’t (cough)… couldn’t hear exactly what was going on but I figured...”
Mark stroked her hair and tried not to wince as a chunk of it remained in his hand.
“Sorry I couldn’t stay pretty for you...”
“What the fuck are you talking about,” Mark scoffed. “You are still the most beautiful woman I have ever met.”
“I mean it,” Mark said with tears in his eyes. “I fucking mean it, babe.”
He pulled out an auto-injector.
“Is that it?” Shelly asked looking at the device.
“Yeah...” he said choking up. “You don’t have to hurt anymore.”
“Hey… Don’t be a bitch,” Shelly whispered as she smiled, her lips cracking. She coughed up a wad of green-black phlegm. “P… Promise me...”
“Anything!” Mark replied.
“Don’t… Don’t let this change you… Don’t let this break… break you… Don’t turn into a little bitch...”
“I won’t,” Mark smiled. “No bitches in this house.”
“And… Remind them… Remind them all… What (cough) what we are...”
“Oh I fucking will,” Mark said with tears in his eyes. “I’m gonna carve your name in the fucking stars…”
“I like that...” she whispered in a weak voice. “Now… Let your beautiful eyes be the last thing I ever see...”
“You got it, my princess,” Mark said as he looked deep into her eyes and pressed the injector into her chest.
It made a quiet “pssht”.
“I… love...” Shelly started to say and then her pupils dilated completely open and she let out one final sigh.
Mark collapsed over her body.
“Hnnng…. Hnngh...” he moaned as tears filled his eyes… “RRRAAAARARRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!”
he roared, his voice echoing through the ward. “AAAARAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!”
he bellowed as he strode towards the door splitting it open with a kick.
He drew a length of roughly ground steel, a long-shank…
Mark Black, once again a Ripper of the Long-Shanks, stepped into the hall…
“Jesus fucking Christ,” a man, carrying a gauss carbine and wearing a long-shank on his hip, said as he walked into the ward. He figured that the boss would be upset but… shit…
This was bad, even by his very relaxed standards.
“You here, boss?” he called out.
A long low growl was the only reply.
Mark, covered head to toe in fluids of a half a dozen colors, stepped out.
“Boss?...” the man asked cautiously.
Mark just stood there breathing heavily.
“You ok, boss?” the man asked backing away.
Terrified whimpering came from around the corner. Josh was surprised. There were people left alive. That was good sign.
“Some of the nurses... good people...” Mark said in a distant voice, “Took care of us… They live...”
Mark shook his head as his eyes fully cleared.
“You ain’t wearing any gear.” he said calmly.
“Yeah,” Joshua replied. “Popped positive. So has everyone else here.”
“You split up the people like I said?”
“Yeah,” Joshua replied. “the good and the bad.”
“And the bad?”
Joshua just smiled.
Mark smiled back.
“Got a ship?”
“Yeah, parked out front.”
“Let’s go,” Mark growled. “We got a name to carve.”
One of the monitors on the wall opposite Jessica Morgan flashed the words “Mark Black” as a ring tone sounded.
“Hello?” Jessica said with a smile and then looked at the monitor in confusion. “What are you doing?”
“Getting hosed off,” Mark replied as a stream of water washed over him. “You wouldn’t know about shit like that,” he scoffed. “You like to keep your hands all nice and tidy, don’t you, bitch?”
Jessica just smiled and sipped her tea.
“I see old Mark is back,” she replied. “So… are you… are you ready to begin?”
“Yeah, I killed her if that’s what you are askin’” Mark snarled.
“… Please accept my deepest condolences over your loss,” Jessica said carefully. “I know how much-”
“Save it for people who don’t know you like I do,” Mark growled. “You don’t give a fuck.”
Jessica’s expression softened.
“Actually, I held Shelly in high regard. She was-”
“Raaargh!” Mark yelled, tears starting to well up in his eyes.
“I was going to send flowers,” Jessica said in a much colder tone, “But instead I’ll give you something else. We passed around the hat and between myself, the other confederates, the independents, the unaffiliated, and other parties we have gathered quite the bounty for our friend Patricia. Twenty billion for her head and thirty-five for her alive. If she is breathing when we get our hands on her, I will give her to you.”
Mark let out a long low growl and grinned.
“Thought you’d like that,” Jessica smiled. “We can celebrate Shelly’s memory properly. As I recall some of your methods were quite… inventive...”
“What about the doc?” Mark snarled. “I want the doc!”
“And you shall have him,” Jessica said in a soothing voice. “We’ve located the good doctor and will be gathering him up shortly. After we’ve finished extracting the information we desire we shall send him to you. It’s the least I can do, for Shelly.”
“And his family!”
“We hadn’t planned on it but, sure, whatever you want. Do you want them alive or-”
“You have to ask?”
“Alive. Certainly,” Jessica smiled. “Will the immediate family suffice?”
“His wife! I want his wife!”
“Consider it done,” Jessica replied with a cold smile. “A fitting memorial if I do say so myself. Now, on to business...”
“If you agreed to relocation from the start you wouldn’t be in this situation, Doctor Avaral,” Marrow said to the terrified looking individual on his holo-monitor.
“Well I’m agreeing now!” Doctor Avaral exclaimed. “The porkies have gone insane!”
“Well, it’s hardly insane considering the situation,” Marrow chuckled. “I would be quite annoyed were I in their position… And if I were one of several very powerful and very dangerous individuals I would be quite annoyed with you as well.”
“This isn’t funny!”
“Well I find the situation quite humorous,” Marrow replied. “You were offered the honor of serving her Ladyship and you refused. You refused her, to her face no less! You didn’t want, now what was it again… ‘to be caged up like an animal’? And now, you come crawling, scratching on the very bars you scorned.”
“I’m valuable! I can be useful! I-”
“And that is why I returned your call instead of simply dispatching an execution squad,” Marrow replied. “You are
valuable and the research you are undertaking on our behalf at your university is of sufficient value for her Ladyship to graciously extend to you once again her offer of patronage.”
“Thank you! Thank you so-”
“Don’t thank me, doctor.” Marrow sneered. “If I had my say in the matter you would be dead. A vessel has already been dispatched to Terra. You are allowed one shipping container worth of cargo and your immediate family. Once you board that ship you will disappear forever. You and your family will be quite comfortable and well provided for as long as you serve but you will never
walk the streets a free man again. Do you understand?”
“I… I understand...”
“You will be contacted by an individual who will identify themselves as ‘Mr. Purple’. Follow their instructions to the letter. We are only going to exert ourselves once, Doctor Avaral. Until then, gather your family, activate your security system, and do not leave your residence for any reason
. Do you understand.”
“Mr. Purple! Don’t leave! Got it!”
Marrow sneered and terminated the call. What waste of time. The good doctor had already submitted the data from the initial experiments in the Federation and had clearly outlived his usefulness. His latest proposal was sketchy at best. He was of the firm opinion that it was a scam but her Ladyship kept throwing fistfuls of credits at him regardless. She is getting desperate.
He scowled at his disloyal thought. Her Ladyship must see something that I do not.
Floating unnoticed among the icy debris of Sol’s oort cloud there was a derelict ship, a dead floating hulk. Completely dead, no gravitic signature, no power, nothing. It was just one more bit of lifeless debris among billions of others...
Or so it appeared…
Inside, Jan Zhuk smiled.
“Mr. Purple...” he muttered his breath condensing to vapor instantly in the frigid air. He liked it cold, as cold as possible. It made him feel closer to the void. He knew the void had no temperature but he couldn’t pull that one off just yet.
He smiled. He was finally able to repay Jessica for her kindness all those years ago. He owed her so much! The hazard and monotony of this assignment were a small price to pay for all the gifts she bestowed.
Besides, it was nice seeing home again.
He unbuckled himself and floated down the corridor to the communications station. He didn’t need to. He could do everything from the cockpit but he just loved to ‘fly’, even after all these years.
Once he arrived he hovered over the keyboard and started to type a message.
Tak Nakamura was sitting in his living room watching the drama play out on his holo-wall.
Jessica Morgan once again was again leading an army, a much larger and better equipped one than before.
There was no way this would turn out well. No way at all. Where did she get the compliance tubes? Those were new, very new. It was impossible to tell for certain but those were at least Generation-7 Star Harpies.
He reached for his communicator to start calling defense contractors to see if a production lot had gone missing but it started ringing just as he touched it.
It was an unlisted number. It was more than unlisted since even his software couldn’t determine the identity of the caller.
Muttering to himself he answered the call and cursed as Jessica Morgan’s face appeared on his screen.
“Hello, Tak. Long time no see,” Jessica said with an ugly smile.
“Jessica,” Tak replied calmly, his eyes burning with hate.
“I see you haven’t taken your girlfriend’s poison,” Jessica said as she glanced at something off screen. “I would have thought that you would have lapped it up the second it she poured it into your bowl.”
“Patricia Hu is NOT my girlfriend!”
“Oh? She dump you?”
“What do you want, Jessica?” Tak replied with a scowl.
“I want your help.”
“And what makes you think I would ever
assist you with anything
“Because you are a good man, Tak,” Jessica chuckled. “It’s your one biggest flaw… Well that and a rather embarrassing fetish but I don’t judge.”
“Are you trying to blackmail me?” Tak snorted. “Because that won’t-”
“I’m not blackmailing you, Tak,” Jessica smiled. “Besides, all simulations strongly indicate that the backlash I would receive from sullying the ‘Savior of Sol’ would outweigh the satisfaction I would get from releasing the photos that I do
Tak glared at her silently.
“What the fuck do you want?” he asked after a few seconds.
“Your girl has done a number on us, Tak,” Jessica said calmly. “It’s bad. The latest estimates has the number of infected at over five million and the number is growing exponentially. Our most optimistic simulations have it killing well over fifty percent of us. That’s a lot of dead innocent
people, Tak. You can hate me all you want but those are innocent men, women, and children. Most of them were born after
the wars. They are guilty only of having assholes for parents, or grandparents, or whatever, and your girl is killing them. I want to give you the opportunity to make it right.”
“Patricia Hu is NOT ‘my girl’ and I am in no way responsible for-”
spared her, Tak. You spared her because she fucked you,” Jessica replied.
“That was NOT the reason-”
“Please,” Jessica said, cutting him off. “You can talk numbers all you want but we both know the real
reason why she wound up on the tribunal instead of out there in the cold dark with us.”
“And you are the real
reason Patricia released the virus in the first place! What happened to her would have never happened if you weren’t arming and training the raiders. Those raiders were packing American military
energy weapons. You want to assign blame? Patricia wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for you
. Do you have any
idea what they did
to her?” he yelled.
“Yes, well boys will be boys,” Jessica said dismissively. “While I would love to reminisce about the good old days some more I have shit to do. I’m giving you the opportunity to help. I’m willing to accommodate as many researchers and medical personnel as the Republic wants to send.”
“And exactly why would we do that?” Tak replied.
“Let me rephrase this,” Jessica said with a cold gleam in her eyes. “I am willing to accommodate as many researchers and medical personnel as the Republic wants to send so that a cure, vaccine, or treatment can be found before
there is a major outbreak of the virus in the Republic.”
“I see,” Tak replied. “Not blackmail, a threat.”
“I’m just giving you the opportunity to help save innocent people and making the observation that virulent diseases are notoriously hard to contain,” Jessica said with a smile. “Besides, from what I hear it won’t be a hard sell...”
Kestra-3 (Late Afternoon)
Human Population: 2515
Primary Occupation: Mining
Primary Product: Rare earth minerals
Secondary Product (Covert): Uranium
Colony Ownership: Hass-Reek Mining Corp
Actual Owner: Morgan Enterprises
Major jK-Beel cursed as he walked through the compound. He had expected it to be bad…
He had no idea. He had sent his men into a flour mill!
He glanced over at the field hospital and scowled. There were people laying on the ground outside the doors, people huddled under a hastily erected pavilion…
And they were the lucky ones… Too many of his men were still laying where they fell. They couldn’t even retrieve the bodies…
Or many of the wounded.
It was a slaughter. All of his plans, all of his adjustments, all of his warnings were for naught.
He stamped his hoof in frustration. Fuck! He was still trying to figure out exactly what happened. Everything was going as planned, the troops were closing in on the mines…
Then all hell broke loose… The engagement only lasted minutes and half of his APCs were lost along with over a third of his men… Gone!
He shrieked a retreat order almost immediately but it wasn’t enough… All he could do was stamp and scream as he heard squad after squad after squad…
His chief medical officer, Major Joo, walked up. She was solid black from head to toe and shaking slightly.
As she got closer he could see rivulets of “tears” running down her sides.
“(sob) There’s nothing I can do!” she gasped. “Nothing!”
“What’s going on, doc?” Major jK-Beel asked dreading the answer.
“The wounds… Oh creators!… The wounds!
” she gasped shaking uncontrollably. “There’s nothing I can do!”
“What about the wounds?”
… They used uranium
… somehow… Fragments… dust… vapors… All through them… All of them!… It’s in their respiratory systems, their circulatory systems, impregnated in their skin… It’s… It’s dangerous to even treat them!… our medics are going to get sick!… I’m going to get sick!… Those monsters!
… Why would they do this? Why?...why...”
The major, not knowing what else to do, reached out to console her. She pulled away sharply.
“Aren’t you listening, you moron?” she yelled. “I’m contaminated
She broke down into tears and fell to her knees holding her top in her hands.
“Why?… Creators, why!…”
The major reached down and pulled her to her feet. “I’m contam-”
“You are also in front of the men
!” the major hissed urgently. “If you need to have a moment do it in my office,” he said as he drug her into the headquarters building.
Once they were alone the doctor fell to her knees once again.
“Every casualty we have here is going to die
, Major,” the doctor said miserably. “Maybe if we had a full hospital we could save some of them but we… we aren’t equipped for this! “
“I’ll get us help,” the major said calmly. “At the very least I’m going to get us out of here. We’re… finished… Look, do what you can as best as you can.”
“We’ve already burned through anything that could remotely be used to decontaminate or detoxify...” the doctor moaned. “The only thing left is...”
“Is what?” the major asked. “They are going to die anyway.”
The doctor closed her eyes and shuddered.
“We… Creators!… we try to excise
the worst of it, amputate when possible, hollow out the wound channels where we can’t…” she looked like she was going to be sick. “We might be able to remove the worst of it, buy some time until help arrives, but we could kill as many as we save...”
“As opposed to losing all of them?” the major said grimly.
“Creators forgive me...” The doctor said in a tiny voice. “I’m going to lose my license for this.”
“Not if I give you a direct order
,” the major replied. “which I am now doing. Save as many of my men as you can, doctor.”
“Yes, sir… Give me a minute...” the doctor said as she slumped into a chair and drew a shuddering breath.
Back on Terra, Doctor Araval’s phone rang. He grabbed at it with shaking hands.
“Doctor, this is Mr. Purple,” a pleasant female voice said. “There has been a change of plans. We have reason to believe that the porkies have your location.”
“Relax, Doctor,” the soothing voice said. “Her Ladyship takes care of her own. We are sending a vehicle to your location. It should be there in an hour. Is your family with you?”
“Y-yes! We are all here!”
“I’m sorry but for now just bring what you can carry with you. We will send movers to collect your property later.”
“Excellent!” the reassuring voice said. “Everything’s going to be ok, Doctor. You are in good hands.”
“I promised her Ladyship that I would deliver you and your family safe and sound,” the woman said, “I will not fail her… or you. Be ready. You won’t have much time once the vehicle arrives.”
“We will be ready!”
“Good. See you soon,” the woman said in a confident soothing tone as she terminated the call.
Forty-five minutes later the doctor’s phone rang once more.
“This is Mr. Purple,” the woman’s voice announced. “Outside, black limo. Now.”
Moments later Doctor Araval, his wife, and his two children rushed into the vehicle.
“This is nice
daddy!” his daughter exclaimed as she settled into one of the plush leather seats.
“Thank you so much!” his wife said towards the driver, obscured behind a mirrored interior partition.
“Just serving her Ladyship, ma’am,” the woman said as she smiled, two golden fangs gleaming in the darkness.
The limo slowly drove off into the night…
Author’s note: The good major isn’t facing Raylesh SDF. That poor bastard went up against Morgan Enterprises private security. As bad as the Raylesh SDF is, Morgan’s personal troops are worse. They are recruited from the elite of the Raylesh and Zaran SDF as well as other talented individuals and then are put through a special regimen designed by special ops officers of several pre-yellowstone nationalities. They are bad news
The weapon they are using is an improved version of the US “Sabergun” Assualt rifle. It uses Earth-tech supercapacitor technology (The Federation can’t make them.) to propel a needle of either tungsten alloy or jacketed uranium at beyond hypersonic speeds. The projectile starts to ablate due to atmospheric friction and is jacketed in plasma shortly after it leaves the barrel. The uranium needles are jacketed to reduce contamination from handling and the thin jacket lasts long enough for the needle to travel far enough downrange that the worst of the uranium plasma doesn’t affect the firer.
The needles used by Morgan’s troops are specifically designed (recently) to ablate well and what hits the target is an eroding uranium needle jacketed by a sheath of uranium plasma. They cut through most shields and armor with little issue and even if they don’t, a burst of them will basically create “uranium gas” around the targets. (vapor) “Suppressive fire” from those needles is more than just suppressive fire. It’s a chemical attack.
The weapon has variable power so the same weapon can deliver devastating high power long range shots, medium power shots for better recoil management, and a low power subsonic setting. The power setting is truly variable so the weapon can be tuned to the individual operator’s preferences or the specific needs of a situation.
Note: You don’t really get good plasma generation at medium and none at low power so when using the uranium needles the weapons are usually set at as high a power as possible. (And it’s fun watching targets explode.)
These same needles are also used on the light and heavy machine gun variants of the same concept, both of which are present in those mines.
They have other weapons in there as well just as nasty.