Stories

Archives

About Me

 

           Colonel Courageous’ heavy steps echoed in the empty lab.  He expected to find Dr. 253 and Major Tom sweating away before the computer working on their invasion tactic; instead he was greeted by the hum of running computers and the muffled whir of cooling fans.  The motion activated lights sprang to life as he entered the lifeless lab.  The lab was relatively neat, with only a few things out of place.  It was clear that they had been working around the clock to prepare for their counter invasion. 

            The Colonel caught a glimpse of himself in the reflective surface of an upright examination table as he walked through.  For the first time he actually stopped and looked at himself; the outlandish skintight costume with its decorative belt and ridiculous boots.  Why did people take him seriously dressed like that?  It was very surreal to look at himself, not as a hero, but as a man.  No, this was not the place to raise a family. 

            The weakened hero looked around for signs of where the others had gone.  All he could see were remnants of unfinished projects waiting to be fully realized.  A few feet away, a large monitor flashed images on the screen of “corrupted” DNA sequences.  The double helix was separated by their nucleic acids and was then taken apart by the base DNA and RNA.  The “corrupted” sequences were removed creating a cascading failure of the entire structure. 

            He watched the screen as the computer ran five more simulations, trying varying approaches to solving the problem, each one progressing from the prior failure.  Each one resulted in a cascading failure of the base structure. 

            “Hmm.” the Colonel said aloud.  “The alien can’t be removed without killing the host organism.  Once they’ve been implanted, the host has to die, or live as one of them.” 

            From the corner of his eye he saw images displayed on another monitor of a Cycsiks hybrid on the examination table.  Areas of the alien bonded human, partially dissected, were enlarged and examined on a microscopic level.  The data was fed into the DNA simulation. 

            The Colonel studied the images of the body, soon realizing that it wasn’t one of the people he had seen before.  This was someone new.  They had taken over another human. 

            He gritted his teeth in anger.  Colonel Courageous needed answers, and he needed them now.  He hoped that Dr. 253 and Major Tom had some good news for him. 

 

            “Hello?” the Colonel called.  “Doc?  Tom?”

            No answer. 

            “Doc?  I got your call!” 

            Silence. 

            Colonel Courageous put his thumb to his lips and blew a steady stream of air across the nail.  A sharp whistle sounded from his lips and cut through the lab and into the other rooms of the hidden base.  It didn’t take long for the two men to emerge from their seclusion. 

 

            “Gary, do you mind?” Dr. 253 fussed at his friend.  The Colonel stopped the high frequency whistle as soon as he saw them come through the doors.  “Some of this equipment is highly susceptible to high pitch noises.  That whistle of yours could shatter the pryoclastic glass conductors.” 

            “Sorry, Anthony.  I wasn’t sure where you guys were.”  He tossed a thumb at the monitor to his right.  “More possessions?” 

            “Yes, Colonel.” Major Tom answered.  “The Doctor and I contacted Clockworx in your absence.  He’s been rounding them up as they’ve manifested.” 

            “I trust you have a plan ready?”  the Colonel asked. 

            “For what it’s worth, yes.”  Came the cold monotone alien response. 

            “What is it?” 

            “Well, that’s the good news.” The Doctor added.  “We’ve got a plan.  The bad news is, it’s the same as it was when we last saw you.” 

            The Doctor moved between the two men and took a seat at the simulation computer.  The video was minimized while he brought up the plan he and Major Tom had created.  He transferred the visuals to the holographic imager behind the champion hero. 

            Hundreds of thread thick rays of colored light beamed from the top and bottom plates of the imager, reflecting off mirror based prisms and generating a rendered image of the Earth.  The Doctor swiveled in his chair and directed the Colonel to look behind himself. 

            “This is what we’re looking at.”  He pointed to the three dimensional video of the Earth. 

            The video reminded the Colonel of the fifteen year old science films he used to watch in school.  He held back a snicker and tried to focus. 

            The Doctor continued, unaware of the Colonel’s mental distraction.  “The Cycsiks are using this weapon of theirs to transmit themselves via sub-sonic high frequency radio transmissions.” 

            “Hold on, Doc.  I don’t claim to be as smart as you, but I thought outer space was a vacuum, and sound can’t travel through a vacuum.” 

            “Very good, Gary.” Dr. 253 said in a way that was more condescending than commending; like encouraging a child.  “But, ‘outer space’ isn’t a true vacuum, it’s a partial vacuum.  Even still, sound is a manipulation of vibration.  Space is filled with planets, asteroids, and other cosmic debris, with each having its own atmosphere that extends beyond its physical boundaries.  Vibrations, or sound, can exist within that atmosphere.  For the sound to travel through space, it only needs to piggyback off these objects, or bounce from one atmospheric property to another.  In the case of the Cycsiks’ device, the vibration isn’t the carrier, it’s the conductor.” 

            The lost and puzzled expression on the Colonel’s face told the Doctor that he hadn’t dumbed it down enough. 

            “The energy transference device that they’re using is much like a teleporter without a return flight.  The human host serves as the destination point, and the vibration guides it to the target.  Since the human and the carrier signal are on the same wavelength, it merges them into one.  Energy is energy, it doesn’t differentiate.  Once the two are merged, the dominate presence will supersede.  Unfortunately for us, that presence will be the Cycsiks.” 

            Dr. 253 sighed.  He looked over the faces of his friends and saw them waiting for him to answer the original question.  “What?” 

            “Our plan, good doctor.” The alien spoke up. 

            “Huh?  Oh, right!”  The Doctor had become so lost in his explanation that he hadn’t realized that he’d neglected to answer the question.  “Well, knowing all this, regrettably, doesn’t help me to prevent it.”

            He rose from his chair and walked over to the hologram of the Earth.  “I had hoped we could arrange some kind of sub-space particle filter, or isolate the carrier wave; maybe redirect it.  Since it’s keyed to individual harmonic frequencies, we don’t have to worry about it hitting someone or something else.  I’m sorry to admit, it’s just not possible.” 

            “Ok, but what does this have to do with the plan?”  The Colonel questioned.  For all his strength and indomitable will, he was a simple man.  A “point and shoot” hero.  He needed the answer to be simple and direct. 

            “Everything.  If we can’t stop the signal, then that means more people will become… infected, by the Cycsiks.  That poses two problems.  The first, anybody that becomes infected must be eliminated.  There’s no way to separate the two beings once they’ve been merged.  The second, we don’t know how many Cycksiks are already in transport.” 

            “What?” 

            “By our best calculations, the frequency takes about ten days to reach the Earth.  The first couple of inhabitants we’ve determined were test transmissions.  M e included.  Those were spaced out by two or three days each; according to the level of gestation of those subjects.  The most recent ones have been within a couple of hours.” 

            “We’ve deduced that the machine must need time to recharge, or that it takes longer for the transmitee to be converted to energy.” Major Tom included. 

            “Wait!” Colonel Courageous spat.  “You said ‘recent ones’.  How many are we talking?”  

            Major Tom and Dr. 253 looked at each other.  Even the alien’s eyes seemed saddened at the knowledge. 

            “In the past week…  A hundred and forty eight.”  The Doctor said quietly. 

            “A hundred and forty eight?  In six days?” 

            “The Cycsiks homeworld has only fifteen hours in a day, compared to your planet’s twenty four.”  Tom answered.  His cold alien voice masked his concern.  “By our estimates, there could be enough of them on Earth to take over the planet in a month’s time.” 

            “A hundred and forty eight.”  The Colonel repeated.  He covered his face with his hands in disbelief. 

            “We’ve been lucky so far,” Major Tom went on.  “And have been able to identify them shortly after implantation.  While this tactic is effective now, we will lose the advantage soon.”  

            “And,” Dr. 253 picked up, hoping to make Tom’s words easier to take.  “This is just the new ones.  We estimate there could be as many as twenty others that are under the radar – lying in wait and bidding their time.”   

            “Dammit!  This can’t be happening!” Colonel Courageous exclaimed. 

            “Gary…” the Doctor put a hand on his friend’s shoulder.  “I need to know that you’re clear on what’s been going on.  Once a person has been infected, there is no cure.  If the Cycsiks is allowed to fully gestate inside the host…”  The Doctor didn’t finish his sentence.  He couldn’t. 

            “And we have to keep this a secret.  The public can’t know about this.  Any of this.”  He paused.  “Do you understand what I’m saying?” 

            The pain in the Colonel’s heart could be seen in his bloodshot eyes.  “Yes.  The people – the people that have been infected are being killed… by us.” 

            “Clockworx.”  Tom interjected.  “But you are correct.  We cannot allow them to reach full growth.”   

            “I have to stop this.  I have to stop this.”  The Colonel said, as if reciting a mantra.  “I’m supposed to help the people, not kill them.  The fate of the world…  It’s all up to me.” 

            “Seriously, Colonel.” Major Tom snipped.  “Don’t start believing your own press.” 

            “As it is, I’m the world’s only hope.  I take that pretty seriously.” 

            “There you go again.” Major Tom retorted.  “The great Earth savior.” 

            “You may not be human, Tomaskarian, but that doesn’t mean they can’t beam someone into you like they have everyone else.  If I’m not mistaken, you spent several years in their company.  There’s a chance that they still have your DNA stored somewhere.” 

            The alien’s eyes shifted as he considered the champions words.  After running the idea through his head over and again, he realized that the Colonel said was true. 

            “You are correct, Colonel.  I am just as susceptible as everyone.” 

            “Look, Tom.  I’m not so foolish that I think I can do this alone, and frankly I don’t want to.” The Colonel said in a frank tone.  Neither the Doctor nor Tom had ever heard him express modesty in any form.  The two were shocked, and a bit scared.  The one thing they could always count on was Colonel Courageous to be a wall of strength and arrogance. 

            As annoying as it was at times, there was a sense of comfort that came from his cockiness.  Very few people had the strength or power to put him down, and none had the power to keep him down.  He had lost only a handful of battles, and won every war.  To hear him admit that he didn’t feel that he was strong enough to fight this threat alone scared them. 

            “Doc,” the Colonel called to his longtime friend.  “You can hook him up like you did me, right?” 

            “I respectfully decline, if it’s all the same to you.  I have served my time as a lab rat.  It is not an experience I wish to repeat.  Besides, I have no need of becoming another one of the Doctor’s manufactured heroes.”  Major Tom refused the Colonel’s offer in the most polite way possible, for him. 

            “That wasn’t what I meant.”  Colonel Courageous hadn’t meant to offend the alien protector.  “I mean, I’m not…” 

            Tom scrunched up his face as he thought about his next set of words, choosing them very carefully. 

            “Thank you, but no.” the alien answered after nearly half a minute. 

            “Understood.” replied the Colonel. 

 

            The three sat in silence, each gaining new respect and a new understanding for the other.  It was Dr. 253 who finally broke the silence. 

            “If people only knew what it takes to save the world, huh?” 

            “True.” 

            “Agreed.” 

            “Well than,” the Doctor continued.  “Let’s talk about how we’re going to kick the hell out of the Cycsiks.”   He turned from the holographic viewer and headed for the base’s workshop. 

            “This way, gentlemen.”   

 

            Inside the enormous underground room were several large machines powered by a semi-spherical vibrating orb, with flaring spikes of energy.  The orb hovered inside a reverse gravitational field and pulsed with perpetual energy.   The orb changed colors with each pulse and flare. 

            The Colonel recognized one of the machines that were being powered by the pulsating ball of color.  It was smaller and more polished in its appearance than it was years earlier, but the glowing “door” of crackling energy was unmistakable.  The Slingshot, the trans-dimensional jump gate.  Just looking at the rebounding streams of force made his stomach do flips.  He had never forgotten the feeling of being transported halfway across the galaxy at the speed of light.  Ever since then, he always related any feeling of nausea to fighting the Cycsiks. 

           

            “What’s that?”  The Colonel said, inexplicably drawn to the beauty of the glowing power source. 

            “Careful.” Dr. 253 said, grabbing him by his arm and pulling him back.  “The simplest way to explain it is folded antimatter forged inside a black hole.”   

            “Is it dangerous?” 

            The Doctor started laughing so hard that it got stuck in his throat and he choked.  “Extremely.” 

            “Doc, how do you come up with this stuff?” 

            “He didn’t.” interjected Major Tom.” 

            “I borrowed the idea from Tom actually.  It’s what powers his equipment.  The jetpack, raygun, all of it.  This is a synthesized version.  The power core that he uses is about one hundredth this size.  This was my first attempt.  I should be able to get it smaller with future incarnations. 

            “Geez, Doc.  You’re a dangerous man.  I don’t know what we would do if your genius ever fell into the wrong hands, or if you switched sides.” 

            Doctor 253 looked down at his “new hands”, flipping them over to see both the backs and the palms.

            “We almost found out.” 

            He wasn’t used to the new him yet, and did his best to avoid confronting it.  It was also one of the reasons he started putting distance between him and Astronima again.  Being around her forced him to deal with what he had become.  He wasn’t ready for that yet. 

            “Anthony… I’m sorry.  I forgot.” the Colonel said quietly. 

            “It’s okay.  At least now I have a better appreciation for Robert Louis Stevenson.” the Doctor forced a chuckle. 

            “So,”  the Colonel said, changing the subject.  “We’re using the Slingshot again, eh?” 

            “Yes.” the Doctor smiled, given an excuse to avoid dealing with his personal problems.  “Unless there’s a receiver at the destination point, teleportation is impossible.  The Slingshot is all we have to get you there, and back.” 

            “This time, though,” Major Tom butted in.  “We’re setting the return for one hour.” 

            “Thank God.” Colonel Courageous said with relief.  “Last time, those two hours seemed like an eternity.  I was afraid you’d end up yanking back two dead bodies.”    

            “Yes.  We won’t have to worry about trying to stay alive like we did last time.  The only drawback is we will only have an hour to find the energy transference device and destroy it before be pulled back to Earth.” 

            Major Tom turned away from Colonel Courageous and looked at Dr. 253.  “Doctor?” 

            “There’s one more thing.” The Doctor said, picking up from Tom’s cue.  “I’m not sure if you remember, but the trip is going to take about two hours, both ways.  Due to time dilation, a week will have passed here on Earth during those two hours.” 

            “So, you’re saying on Earth, we’ll be gone for a total of two weeks?”  

            “Fourteen days, five hours.” 

            The Colonel let out a deep sigh.  He turned to the machine next to the Slingshot and studied it.  The other machine was unknown to him.  It was impressive, as all of the Doctor’s inventions were, but to need the amount of power that the sphere put out meant that it was equally as powerful.  The Colonel didn’t understand what any of the buttons, knobs, or switches did, but he recognized function monitors and regulators when he saw them.  Whatever the machine did, it had four system regulators, each with its own redundancy backup. 

 

            “Tell me, what’s this other thing?” 

            “I call it a harmonic nullifier.  It generates planetary gravitational wells that realign affected star systems to one another without a shift in the universal harmony.” 

            “What does that mean?” questioned the Colonel.  Any explanation that took so many big words was never a good thing. 

            “What the Doctor means to say, is that it’s a planet killer.  The weapon will cause the planet to implode, but maintain the orbital balance of the remaining planets and stars to keep the neighboring planets from being destroyed.” Tom explained bluntly. 

            “You said ‘the planet’.  You’re planning on using this on the Cycsiks homeworld?”    

            “Only as a last resort.” the Doctor added.  “If your attack fails, we’ll have no choice but to use it.” 

            “This is getting pretty intense.”  Colonel Courageous looked around the workstation for a place to sit.  He saw a chair against the wall and walked over to it.    He fell back into the chair, bending the lightweight metal frame with his weight.  Suddenly, his face became hot and his hands started to tingle. 

            “You look flush.” His friend said, focusing a small red light into his eyes.  “You feeling ok?” 

            “Huh?  I’m fine, all things considered.  It’s been a helluva day.” 

            “Hey, this was your idea, remember?  Take ‘em out by any means necessary.” 

            “Not just that, all of it.” 

            “All of what?” 

            “You don’t know?”  The Colonel had to laugh at the two men, living under both a proverbial and literal rock.  “I just found out I fathered a child with Jonni Cordalis sixteen years ago.  And about three hours ago she tried to kill me.” 

            The mixture of expressions on Dr. 253’s face made him look like a living Picasso.  He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  He chose the former, and erupted in a torturous fit of laughter. 

            “You find this funny?”  the Colonel asked.  Even Major Tom had the start of a smirk cross his face. 

            “More like karma?”  laughed the Doctor. 

            “Bastards.”

            “Enough of this frivolity!  We need to discuss our strategy for attack, or have you forgotten that we have a planet to save?” 

            “You’re right.” answered the Colonel.  He found the strength to lift from the chair and steadied himself on his feet.  “I’m ready.” 

            “It’s simple enough.” Tom began.  “Once we arrive on the Cycsiks’ homeworld, we’ll make our way to the device, destroying everything in sight.” 

            “How will we find the energy whatsits?” the Colonel questioned. 

            “The Doctor is putting the finishing touches on an energy tracer to pinpoint the location of the energy transference device.  That’s where he’ll send us.” 

            “And with that said, I need to get back to work.” said the Doctor.  “If you’ll excuse me.” 

 

            Dr. 253 went back to work, leaving the other two men to alone. 

            The Colonel looked at the alien and gave him a polite nod.  He extended his hand and wait for the alien to accept.            

            “Thank you for your help.  We may have our differences, but that never stops you from being there when I need you.” 

            Major Tom stared at the hero.  He kept his hands to his side, refusing to acknowledge the courteous gesture.

            “I’m not human, Colonel.  Why do you insist on treating me like I am?” 

            “I don’t.  I treat you like a man.  Regardless of what you may think of yourself, the people of this world see you as a hero.  From where I stand, I see no reason to disagree.” 

            Colonel Courageous clapped a hand down on Major Tom’s shoulder as he walked around him.  He moved slow, as if every muscle screamed fire and death. 

            “You’re a good man, Tomaskarian.  Now if you’ll excuse me.  I need to lay down for a bit.” 

            The alien didn’t move.  His body stood still, as if cast in plaster, but his mind raced.  His thoughts raged like rogue comets, careening out of control and crashing into one another.  A hero?  A good man?  The Colonel certainly thought so, but was he really?  Major Tom thought about the champion hero’s words. 

            No.  No, he wasn’t a hero, or a good man.  He was a murderer on a mission of vengeance.  He had helped others in his quest for revenge, but that was based on a mutual need to achieve the same goal.  There was nothing selfless in his actions.  Everything was based on his own needs.  His arrival on Earth and the agreement he made with the United States government and their military was based solely on his wants. 

            The alien wondered:  Had he done some good things during that time?  Had he in some way redeemed himself for his past indiscretions?  Colonel Courageous thought so, but didn’t know the truth about who he was; Tomaskarian, wanted murder.  All he knew was Tomaskarian tortured prisoner turned extraterrestrial guinea pig, turned escaped slave.  Maybe there was a part of him that was a good man.  A part of him that could be a hero. 

            Maybe.

            Maybe.    

 

 

 

Tags:

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment