"There are too many references to pentagrams, bizarre connections to
the political and scientific communities, and the strange behavior of Max
One, in his last days. I want some answers, so bring'em with the quickness,
if you catch my drift!"
Kildare's eyes narrowed as he blithely remarked, "Well, so many questions and so few answers. It's all very confusing, isn't it? I want your help with something so dangerously secret that none of us may survive. Up until now circumstances have trapped me. I'm confined, in my progress towards arriving at the very conclusions you so astutely surmise. You have no idea of the depth nor the breadth of your trivial murder investigation. I hadn't either and not until now have I perceived realities' nature, in this case."
"You mention the recent chain of events taking on a momentum of their
own. It is out of control. You must allow your case to reach an inevitable
conclusion. Your efforts are intertwined with forces of destiny you do
not understand. Once you know the identity of the suspect, you must carry
out total and ineffable revenge. You see, the reality of murder is always
kill first and ask questions later. You must leave to conscience whatever
morality is left, after the fact. No matter what, you have to do that which
is required. My benefactor agrees with me on these issues and we will both
assist you to achieve our mutually desired objectives. In fact, I'd like
you to meet her now.
Lilith, will you come in ?"
Suddenly, the atmosphere inside the conference room became thick with a depressing pall that one finds only at the funerals of the beloved. The two of us bristled with black revulsion. Tingling sensations crept into them like those reserved as inbred reactions of one species towards its natural enemy. A strongly pervasive and dark fascination lent itself to an attraction of unknown origin. The feeling captivated, enthralled and suggested entrapment for the two of us. Video images could do no justice with her presence, in the flesh. She was more than simply stunning. Her alluring beauty was almost blinding; yet, somehow enhanced by a classy aura and intelligence of the highest order.
Lilith epitomized what every man desired to have and all that women
aspired to be. Yet, you knew that to possess the things she implied would
ensure utter and complete desecration of all near and dear to you.
"Surely you all must realize the true nature of man's historic manipulation of power. Our need to dominate lies at the heart of evil. The thirst for destruction and a taste for blood. The very concept of murder is validated by a sense of self-gratifying sin. The philosophy of violence dictates you must die not so I may live, but because I enjoy it so. Your pain becomes my pleasure. The taming of the shrew. The containment of the human animal is our salvation.
"Absolute pacification of man's darkest desires shall be manipulated
to serve the whole, not the single individual. The torrents of chaos must
be quelled within society before order ceases to exist. You three finger
the pulse of these subversive elements, by nature of your investigations
into the murder conspiracies. We shall confer and offer all assistance
as you see fit. I will personally be working very closely with all of you."
Hal thought he recognized that pleasantly innocent smile she had concluded with, as one he'd seen before at the zoo. You know, the one during lunch time as tigers seem to grin at zoo visitors.
Dead Men Tell No Tales
Hal and I watched diligently as Kildare exited the convention center's parking garage elevator. It was apparent Kildare had 'one too many', as the GOP chairman fondled his escort clumsily. He almost fell on his face near the waiting limo. Hal started the car and followed the limo at a safe distance, down the Vegas strip. Scattered bands of gambling tourists, drunken losers and ever wary gold-diggers lined the strip on either side. The wet streets reflected the glow of Las Vegas lime-lights, producing a surreal vision of lust and greed. Vegas was a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah.
We kept a close eye on Kildare's transport and soon saw it pull into an 'off the beaten track' strip joint called "The Wild Blue Yonder." Since their previous meeting with Kildare, the two of us had decided to keep him under surveillance to see what shakes. Spurned on by knowledge of the our's suspicions, Kildare might reveal contacts he had or slip up and blurt out key information. Loose lips sink ships they say. It appeared Kildare was just out on the town and having a little sleazy fun under the cover of darkness. The duo made their prey sitting at a rear cocktail table with 2 or 3 sleaze-bag tramps pawing all over him. Hal and I returned to their car to wait it out.
The two discussed what life must have been like before the advent of human cloning had finally prompted class change. The creation of specialized, gender-specific 2nd class people. Clones filled all the dirty jobs, unwanted and non-respected occupations the upper-class increasingly became dependent on. As social and behavioral repression grew, the clones shared these 'duties'. Servicing the needs and desires of the privileged was shared with the poor, uneducated and undesirable elements of society. They were there to be used up, abused and thrown away.
The world of racism, sexism and class division didn't exist because all language references indicating or articulating them had long since been banished, discredited, and ridiculed. Their plight was deemed 'invisible' by the powers that be. The sudden appearance of a black van abruptly halted Hal's discussion, as the vehicle pulled behind the rear door of the nightclub. Just as Hal recognized the 'encoded' plate numbers usually reserved for governmental 'black-bag' operations, a thunderous roar exploded. The narrow alleyway was rocked by the blast.
Through smoke, fire and fleeing patrons Hal saw several well-armed men racing into the buildings gaping hole. All the assassins were draped in long black overcoats, as we fired indiscriminately into the lounge are that sat Kildare's party. Hal and I entered finding themselves flanked by dark killers on both sides. Hal spun and dove for cove, just as the heat from rapid fire ion pulses grazed his arm.
I rolled, using combat-trained precision, to Hal's position. As the
two went back-to-back, we laid out a 'suppressing' fire in short, controlled
bursts. Their instruments of death sang out an unholy reprisal to the violent
chorus the killers greeted them with. The smell of scorched flesh filled
the air as flashes of lightning pierced vital organs with a deadly precision.
Screams of agony, terror, and fear echoed. The cries of death and pleas
for mercy abounded as the villainous crew succumbed to the duo's merciless
Hal and I approached Kildare's broken body. How still it seemed, as it lay in a macabre fashion, outlined in blood. Kildare gasped his last words detailing Lilith's subversion of 'one who remains close to your heart' as I knelt by his side. Her planned manipulation of the Lazarus One project in order to obtain omnipotent power and the growing madness inside her surprised the two. A planned covert operation designed by Gen. Blight and Lilith would massively destabilize the balance of power in the Middle East. A Jihad or holy war would spread and involve the entire planet's major religions.
Kildare's eyes did the dance of death, rolling back up into sockets, as we heard him mutter something about 'the death of faith and knocking at the door of the abyss.' Out of Kildare's death grip, Hal revealed a crumpled wad from the desk of Dr. T. Noguchi, Project Director for Los Alamos National Laboratory. After returning to the hotel, I rejoined the two and recognizes the name written upon the note as Ms. Anne Boleyn, assistant to Dr. Noguchi. I then related that Anne may have had sexual relations with Max and was quite possibly the last person to see him alive.
The Stuff that Dreams are Made of
The sun drenched beach stood out against the deep aqua-blue of the Carribean waters. A slight breeze flowed gently across the man's bare feet as he playfully twinkled the rolling surf and sand between his toes. She had meant everything to him and the fire of desire burned deep in his soul. Her soft, warm breath steamed into his ear as she licked it while lovingly teasing him towards unbearable pleasure.
She removed her bathing suit and revealed a body so perfectly sculptured it was almost painful to gaze upon it. As she rubbed her body's silken skin across his own, he became electrified with a mounting lust roaring within his bosom. Fingers danced across his most sensitive needs as he began to visualize himself sitting upon a throne of purest gold, while being crowned by a laurel of priceless gemstones found nowhere on the planet. In his right hand he gripped a staff of such immense power, no force in existence could challenge. The praises of all history sang its song as all bowed before him. Somehow, he knew these feelings would last forever. All of this was possible for an eternity, so long as she held onto him. Taking his hand, she whispered "With me, all this is possible...."
The man turned his gaze upon her face and swore undying allegiance. "My soul for you, Lilith."
The intercom buzzed on incessantly as he awoke, responding to its call. "Mr. President, the convention is ready to receive you and hand over its nomination for you to represent our party once more."
Hal and I both awoke, with each having shared similar 'dreams' of seduction involving the beautiful siren known as Lilith Blue.
The Winds of Chaos
Dusk settled upon Chicago's West Side as night crept in like a thief. In his darkened room, the Amnesiac lay still, with eyes blankly staring. Crystal teardrops fell from the corners of his entranced eyes. The buzz of Telnet news reports droned on, relating the incredible deaths of 6 arch-
bishops. As the Amnesiac's trance deepened, a veil is lifted and the utter brutality each slaying encompasses is revealed. Always, there remains the dark figure, lurking in the shadows. The high-pitched, shrill laughter coming from beyond was always there.
Telnet continued its reports of rising tensions between the East and west superpowers, increased guerrilla warfare within the off-world colonies and insurrections led by cyborged revolutionaries demanding independence and equal status. Several interviews were shown with terran security officials concerned about the pandemic rise of black male violence. The officials purported a need for intensified incarceration efforts. The news reports began to merge with the Amnesiac's trance-state; creating a panorama of visions bursting forth within his mind's eye.
The Nobel prize for physics was awarded to Dr. T. Nogachi, rewarding him on his work in the field of theoretical physics. Dr. Nogachi was world renowned for research linking cessation of matter at absolute-zero with a theoretical postulation of the null-space dimensional vortex. Insider information supported the notion that the professor was on the brink of harnessing a new and unlimited force of the natural universe. The panorama shifted to and fro.
Scenes of widespread mass murder, mayhem in the streets, and intra-familial slaughter danced about. The Amnesiac perceived depictions of a strange artificial intelligence, striving to achieve sentience. Visions of neuro-chemical mind control victims shanghaied from penal institutions and hospitals merged with these scenes. The masses clamored to the New Worship being encouraged by the governmental Library system. The rise of eugenic engineering was followed by abolition of civil rights for the underclass and sounded the death knell of man's freedom.
As the veil of his trance lifted, the Amnesiac found himself listening in on soft whispers. "My Brother, as we speak, the Fall of Man has begun. Even now he has deified his inventions and committed his puny soul to the worship of synthetic idols. Man has turned away from the Love of Our Father. In his search for enlightenment he has discovered profound darkness, just as I have wished. The worshipped idols of his creation ironically possess the chilling evil of my creation. Man stands at the frontier of Eternal Damnation. The abomination of his existence quenches my thirst for his very soul. The nature of Hell is at hand as Man discovers the folly of his way, too late. He shall know Existence Without God's Love, the ultimate curse. I wait...I hunger, for him. The Human Race has begun its choice. It chooses to open the door, for me."
"My Brother, the Lost One, the Fallen Star; you have forgotten the essence of Man's existence. His soul is still free. The time grows near, yet there remains Hope Eternal. Again, this is the Riddle of Faith and the Time of Redemption. There exists one who has hope enough for all the world. He shall be the Guardian of all that is true. The Sacrifice looms near. Your choice is made. Farewell."
The Amnesiac's trance ended as he entered a deep sleep. Receding into the night, a dark watcher vanishes.
Delusions of Grandeur
The visionary image of the dark watcher appears to Hal, and I within our dream states. We each envisioned a secluded monastery in the New Mexico desert, belonging to the peculiar and secretive religious sect known only as the Guild of Eternity. We located a mysterious holographic disk inscribed with Max's name. The disk described the names of ancient scrolls, missing for ages. There, in the desert monastery, the group learns about the existence of a radical satanic cult, instructed by Lilith to gain possession of the scrolls at all costs.
The detectives listen as reports come in informing them of the President's choice of Lilith Blue as his vice-presidential running mate. Time passes as the group recuperates in a nearby, wind-swept town near the New Mexico monastery.
Reports of a DEFCON-3 NORAD alert prevail and the alert is attributed to 'an unknown force' present in the Middle East.
The relationship between the president-elect and Gen. Blight disintegrated during a meeting of the Planetary Security Council. Threatened with dismissal, Blight prompted a clandestine meeting with Lilith. Both agreed upon a plan to overthrow the president's administration and find support among like-minded 'hawks' who believe the president is too soft on national security. Lilith again seduced Blight with visions of power and hatched a plot to destroy all participants in the upcoming Jerusalem Summit. Present, at the summit will be the pope, the president and religious leaders representing the world's major beliefs. The ensuing chaos will allow Lilith and Blight to establish totalitarian control, by force, over all. It will also establish a void of faith to be filled with the worship program Library has already begun.
The two of us discover the holo-pic we possess is encoded and can only be utilized by the super-computer located in Los Alamos. As the two of us visit the monastery, we come under attack by members of the Libranor cult. All monks are slain before the fanatics are destroyed in the ensuing firefight. We capture and interrogate their leader. I tortured information out of him using a blow-torch and pliers after I learned of his involvement in Max's demise. Max's death in the 'booby-trap explosion' at the funeral home, consumed me with guilt and rage. Further inflamed by department brass efforts to pull me off the Max One case, I resigned and vowed to follow the case to its conclusion. I regretted my past treatment of Max. I discovered a telex from a sympathetic CPD colleague. It pictures Max and Phil Blight at his apartment, prior to his death.
I sensed I may never get back to Chicago alive and began to reminisce about the city's sights and sounds. I recalled eating heavily onioned, Jew-Town hot dogs near Roosevelt and Halsted I remembered the Washington Park summer jazz festivals, the Taste of Chicago romps in Grant Park, White Sox ballgames at Comiskey Park. I longed for those warm, starry nights; listening to waves crashing into the Lake Michigan breakfront at the 31st street beach as I reveled to dusty tunes broadcast on WBMX. A single tear wells in my eye as I contemplated how my beloved Windy City had changed with the social upheavals of the times. Now known as 'hell on earth', Chicago cast images of crime, gang warfare, and hopelessness. Still, I missed my place on the 'thin blue line' as guardian of the city.
Meeting's of the Mind
The evidence continued to mount. Micro-disk data pointed towards the covert experiments being conducted at Los Alamos. Hal knew we both had realized the project was run by Dr. T. Nogachi, the world's foremost expert in theoretical physics. Nogachi's work with the improved super-conducting particle accelerator won him yet another Nobel prize. He astounded the scientific community with his theory which unified the gravitational force with the electromagnetic, the weak and strong nuclear forces of nature. Dr. No, as his friends called him, was moving closer to the Holy Grail of known physics; the unified field theory. Called the 'Theory of Everything', it postulated conditions of nature at the moment of creation-the Big Bang.
Ann Boleyn, Dr. No's research assistant for Lazarus One, sat pensively at her table in the El-Diablo cocktail lounge. She had slipped a message to the hotel bellhop for Hal to meet her at noon. As Hal approached the burly bartender, he was shown to her table by a gum-smacking waitress. "Miss Boleyn?" he asked, eyeing her suspiciously, as he thrust out a hand in greeting. "Yes, please have a seat. I recognized from the pictures Max used to show me. We need to be careful cause' I don't know who's watching me anymore. So much has changed for the worst lately. Did you know I was Max's mistress while I attended a fellowship at the University of Chicago? Well we had spent the night together, right before I left for Los Alamos. Turns out I was the last person to see him alive. Max and I were in love. He had planned to ask Phil for a divorce and wanted to finish working on some big case. Kept on saying how hush-hush it was. He referred to it as "6-pack" and it was something about that case spooking the hell outta' him."
Hal couldn't resist grilling her for more info. "Did he tell you anything particular about Lazarus One or Mr. Kildare's connection to the case? Max left clues linking the murders to them both. I think you're the link between Max and Did you have him killed?"
Ann's face went ashen at Hal's accusation. Her hands trembled as she
lustily gulped down anther martini to steady her nerves. "I'm going to
tell you a story beyond your wildest nightmares. I may not live long enough
to tell anyone else, so listen up. I am not who you think I am." She turned
her head sideways while parting her golden hair and revealing the unmistakable
cranial indentation peculiar to surgically enhanced cybernetic implants.
Ann's childhood had not been kind. She was molested by a family friend at age 13. Both her parents stonewalled the affair, fearing public humiliation within their upper-crust community. Feeling betrayed, Ann soon displayed open rebellion and began bringing home 'undesirable' men home just to shock her family. As arguments between them grew heated, she ran off at age 17 and joined the military. It wasn't long before she was approached to volunteer for special assignments with the biotic weapons unit.
Quickly, it became apparent Ann possessed cunning skills
and chameleon-like ability to blend in with her surroundings. As war broke out in the Martian colonies, these qualities uniquely suited her for inter-species subversion tactics.
She was chosen to infiltrate the colonial factions, becoming a cyborg-enhanced
intelligence operative. The horrors of war gad taken its toll as Ann began
surmising the plights befalling colonial miners, technicians, and laborers
taking up arms against Corporate Earth's inhumane and often dangerous labor
policies. Trancora production and all raw materials vital to Earth's insatiable
energy appetite were held hostage until the rebels terms were met.
Rising military expenditures eventually forced Earth forces to develop operations elsewhere in the solar system. Finding themselves now expendable, abandoned cyborg troops anxiously searched for methods of returning to Terra-Firma covertly. Ann gained illegal immigration, returning as a student with an untraceable identity to the University of Chicago.
"Max discovered slush-funds were siphoning huge cash flow into a triple headed research budget. The murder of the investigative sub-committee at the U of Illinois confirmed Max's fears that elements of trans-national corporations joined with intelligence and executive branches of government. Manipulation of the special scientific project called Lazarus One conjoined with subversion of world religion, controlling human behavior and clandestine seizure of Earth's planetary power base. Max stumbled into areas too deep for his own good and found that he knew too much to stay alive . He was murdered by someone close to him."
"The three of you are being manipulated at the highest level. The woman known to you as Lilith Blue has ceased to exist long before joining the administration. Remember, she belonged to the National Science Foundation prior to entering politics."
As a sense of stark clarity embraced Hal's perceptions, a foreboding pall accompanied his bleak visions. His brow wrinkled while he strained to grasp tale's ramifications.
Apprehensively, Hal inquired "What does Dr. No's experiments have to do with all of this?"
"He seeks to utilize his discoveries on the Unified Field Theory postulates
creation of a sub-space field known as Null-Space. Originally designed
as a revolutionary space travel propulsion prototype, Null-space theorizes
an object travelling faster than light through an inter-dimensional vortex
of folded space, which is not bound by the known limits of our physical
universe. He seeks to circumvent Einstein's theory of relativity which
states the speed of light is a universal constant. Dr. No rebukes the law
of entropy and proposes the creation and destruction of matter-energy from
non-existence to existence. No conversion of matter to energy as the equation
E=MC2 implies. He has created an area outside the known universe. His experiments
with super-coolants allowed him to reach the theoretical, absolute-zero
temperature gradient where matter was found ceasing to exist even as converted
energy. But, 2 problems persisted."
"First, opening this portal into Null-Space creates dangerous manifestations, disturbing all known physical constants at that point. It becomes a point outside of time and space where only one known force, native to our existence
functions. The life force itself. The neural energy of the mind. Secondly, the creation of the sub-space containment field must enjoin the powers of artificial intelligence and the human life force. Hence, a sentient intelligence of symbiotic origin. But, things began to go terribly wrong."
"Within this 'astral plane', the minds power of creation is magnified
without prior constraint from the laws of physics. Ideas, concepts and
desires become tangible entities of solid dimension. In the exchange, the
manipulation of time, space and events is realized along with transmutation
of matter and energy by sheer will. Early experimentation showed the minds
unrestricted Id energy acts without restraint, as a separate entity. Monsters,
you see. The evil from within the Id itself. Pure and horrific unchecked
mortido/libido appetites possessing the power to influence---everything,
even reality itself. The cessation of the time continuum creates an invasion
of all quantum realities into the existence of one."
"It is existence without Heidelberg Uncertainty limitation and yet, with absolute Uncertainty Principle. It is simply the end of known existence."
"Entrance into the Null-Space continuum theoretically
grants instantaneous travel to any point in the known universe by computer-assisted, genetically altered thought. One can literally exist at all points of space and time at once. Cosmic Knowledge, Omnipotent power and Knowing the Unknowable are the prize."
Ann and Hal grimly locked each other's stares in a dark dance of revelation. Hal rashly croaked "Before leaving directorship of OSI, Lilith Blue conspired to become the first to open and enter this sub-space. The ingrams used to implant the neural template for Library belongs to Lilith. In order to achieve this, she 'melded' her mind with its artificial intelligence. Her Id became that of Library's."
Ann asked, with odious connotations, "You see the last problem, don't you?"
"Once the portal has opened, there is an astral presence and intelligence at work. Dr. No feels it may be what the human race collectively has termed as 'Pure Evil'. In order to close the portal forever, one must do so from within."
Hal's eyes lowered and his body began to sag as he painfully proclaimed "All ye who enter here...Abandon all hope. The rest of eternity itself, alone and tortured by the purest of innate horror. In a place where prayer and mercy are futile. Who could ever do that to himself and what would be his motive?"
So Hard To Say Good-Bye
Rising hostilities persisted as the Mid-East balance of power dangerously eroded, leaving the threat of planetary war imminent. Desperate diplomatic efforts failed as last-ditch attempts for peace, by President Blaine, were mounted. Soon, after rigorous negotiations, Pope Leo XXIII persuaded all factions to meet for an unprecedented peace summit in Jerusalem. Attending the summit were the heads of state from Earth's industrialized nations, representatives of the UN security council and the leaders for the world's major religions.
The Cairo Hilton buzzed with activity as Gen. Blight adorned himself with his dress-blues. Standing in front of the mirror, he lazily fingered his tie while giving himself a quick visual inspection. Locking eyes upon his reflection, thoughts of impending doom invaded his mind. He and Lilith spent the night putting finishing touches on their plans.
Who could ever feel about him the way she did. Knowing how much his
need for her grew daily he found no solace in these waning hours before
dawn. Damn climate processor never worked when you needed it to, he dejectedly
thought. Trickles of gleaming sweat danced downward across shrapnel scars
from battles no one cared about anymore. Old wounds were like old memories
firmly entrenched that needed to be touched from time to time.
Heat and humidity lay upon his bosom as though a layer of molten butter had been spread over his body. Shuddering violently, he once again traveled to that era from his past when blood flowed like the river Styx and the value of life was almost nonexistent. Hovering between deep sleep and encroaching awareness , visions of carnage rendered their testament to the utter brutality of the human species. Burning flesh, mangled limbs and the taste of death provided the canvass on which the madness of war stroked its diabolic portrait.
Ghostly images floated about his mind's eye as specter's echoed unearthly songs of the dead and dying. Faces of so many fine young boys, who gave their lives for reasons no longer clear, no longer brought the automatic recognition of their names for him. Only the contorted and grotesque masks of their expressions as the grim reaper neared remained.
How odd, he thought, that the last words of every man
buying the farm was always the same. Always, they cried out for mother; any mother and all mothers. As if whispering why, dying young men clung dearly to a final need to understand and have explained the reasons their lives were torn away before ever getting the chance to live. So they called upon she who would always give them truth, consolation and healing. The tears they finally shed, as if weeping at the futility of their deaths, streamed from glassy eyes crying at the shame of it all.
Preparing to meet your maker, he thought, provided infinite clarity as shallow and petty perspectives, values and prejudices assumed their proper positions. Falling away like golden autumn leaves drifting from stalwart maples, deeply held convictions were subject to change in the light of death's stark reality. Jealousy, anger, greed and envy lost their prior importance as needs arose for the brotherhood of battle to take precedence. Still waters run deep, he thought, as military life had revealed the best and worst qualities of human nature.
He recalled the days before the wars when his every
concern was to preserve and protect life, at all costs. He loved those days at the University of Toledo; studying pre-medicine and balancing his budget with ROTC obligations. Images of tranquil running waters flowing beneath cobblestone bridges seemed the perfect backdrop to sublime satisfaction that accompanied his pursuit of knowledge and humanitarian service.
The glory of his acceptance to Pritzker School of Medicine was short lived as the outbreak of hostilities cut short what could have been a brilliant medical career. Called to active duty he was assigned to duty as an Office of Special Investigations (OSI) strategic science officer and quickly showed expertise in all areas of his command. Covert branches of the intelligence community soon took notice of this young wunderkind, recruiting him vigorously. If only he could foresee the paths this move would lead him down, he thought.
There are moments in life when a fork in the road of
life brings one to critical moments of reckoning. No experiences, insight or advice can replace pure luck, fate and blind instinct as beacons on the dark seas of all tomorrows. Cold-blooded rules of engagement governed actions by trial and error. Morality itself could be suspended in favor of effective impact versus futile impotence. What worked today may kill you tomorrow. Old friends became new enemies and good transformed, as if by magic, into evil. Point of view, silently, had the last laugh. This was the world he came to know all too well. The oblique reality of spies, spooks and other things that went bump in the night.
Dad was turning over in his grave, he crooned, over
this; his newfound profession. Being the son of Pentecostal preacher religion permeated every aspect of his formative years. He was raised to live a holy lifestyle which upheld traditional views of faith, family loyalty and honor. Obedience to the moral tenets of Biblical maxims dictated the foundations of his truth regarding familial interactions, especially. Honor thy mother, thy father and treasure thy wife. Be your brothers keeper and value all life as you would your own. How ironic, he surmised, that he would rise to the pinnacle of military power on the coattails of assassination, official deceit, adulterous deception and moral treason.
His father ruled their families world with an iron hand as a home atmosphere of repression and denial of emotional and sexual impulses sprouted fire and brimstone mentality. As a young man, Blight committed the unthinkable act of pre-marital sex and quickly married the debaucher who'd stolen his virginity to regain favor with his dad and supplicate to his upbringing. He fell in love with the first piece of ass he ever had, he smiled mentally. But the service introduced him to temptations of the flesh he'd never known. This was his Achilles heel, he grimly thought. It would be his undoing.
He realized the persistent indiscretions didn't go unnoticed by Mildred, his faithfully loyal wife who chalked this behavior up as a necessary product of his machismo as long as he didn't slap her in the face with it. Still, years of cavorting around with young, long-legged hotties took a terrible toll on Mildred and he knew it. Silent guilt ate away him like buzzards picking clean the flesh some Kalahari jungle carcass. He really didn't understand why she put up with him all those years, by he was grateful. At least during his early rise to power, anyway. In his own way, he was devoutly loyal to her and their daughter, Phil whom he cherished.
The measure of a man can be told by the secrets he keeps. This was true of men and nations alike. He was privy to countless skeletons in the closets of men's minds. With voyeur-like zeal, he mentally tallied hundreds of national faux-paux's, political indiscretions, international incidents and military covert operations. All became precision tools in the hands of a skilled surgeon as he leveraged himself up the ladder of rank and privilege. Becoming the youngest Air Force general in history only enhanced his final ambition to capture the heralded position as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Of all the lies he ever told and knew, the one most
secret, in his heart of hearts, he never revealed to Mildred, was his love for Lilith Blue. Having met years before his chairmanship, she captured his imagination in ways no other woman had ever done before and would never accomplish again. Moaning woefully in his sleep, remembrance of the day he first laid eyes upon her glorious presence snaked through his dreams like the crimson glow of the setting sun over an aqua blue sea.
Her beauty was so starkly piercing, he felt almost threatened by the seductive aura which melted his soul and frightened his heart with the danger of falling endlessly into her copper-brown eyes. Shaking her hand, after being introduced at the Honolulu-based National Science Foundation military weapons seminar, was like the touch of silken feathers from wings of angels. The way she smiled at him without ever releasing his eyes from hers, sent tremors to his knees as a curious light-headedness overcame him.
Listening to her presentation, he became acutely aware
that she always proceeded to glance directly at him during every pause. It was on and he knew there would be no resistance on his part. She owned him from the first day to his last. In the back of his mind, fear whispered ominously.
The two shared a romantic supper on the beaches as a
Hawaiian sunset bathed them and tropical breezes danced upon their brows. She captivated his attention with her every breath as the story of her journey's unfolded. The way she spoke her tale made him feel as though he were witness to an epic of awe-inspiring proportions.
Lilith told him of years endured by her at the hands of a sexually abusive father and drug addicted mother. She barely survived with her little sister as she took over the household after her father was brutally slain in an apparent murder-suicide by her mother. Working, going to school and tending to the home-front were terrible years of sacrifice and toil she would never forget, she said. Tears welled up in her entrancing eyes as she smiled.
Keeping her grades far above average, she was rewarded
several scholarships as she chose to attend the University of Chicago to study biophysics; attaining her Ph.D. in record time. She lost track of her sister after joining a religious sect sanctioned by the state. Years later she resurfaced at NSF.
Blight softly remembered how sweet the nectar of her pleasure tasted upon his lips. But he could never forget the sensation of falling, as the appetite for forbidden pleasures she inspired within him grew in direct proportion to his ever shrinking will. I would die for you, he thought as he began to awaken from the nights restless slumber. I am dying through you, whispered a quiet song in the shadows of his mind. He was afraid and the voice was not his own.
She's losing it and so am I, he pondered listlessly. She was spending
more time interfacing with Library, her pet project, and became increasingly
hungry for power. Her lust became sadistically deranged as she continued
infusing her mental ingrams into Library.
Blight sensed her mind's expansion. She totally frightened him as she manifested psycho-kinetic abilities, often moving objects while still asleep. Lilith began speaking of feeling as if her subconscious possessed ability to transpose, transmit and transport neural force by will alone. Whispers spoke to her, in the dark, offering suggestions of such macabre magnitude it felt like they wrapped themselves around her soul. Blight knew he'd become something of a risk to Lilith. He was behind the failed assassination attempt on Hal and now would be viewed as a prime suspect.
Increasingly, he began to fear the conclusion of Lilith's plans. His world and his dreams were crumbling before him. Yet, as if through a glass and darkly, he could see the manner in which he was compelled to do her bidding. Resistance was futile. The countdown had begun.
Blight glanced at his watch, noticing it was time to leave for the Jerusalem Summit. Reaching for his briefcase, he opened up a small compartment and removed its contents. Before leaving, he placed two silvery-metallic disks into his uniform while peering at the vanity mirror perched before him. The reflection of Lilith Blue, sitting up in bed, startled him. "Good-bye, my love," he wistfully sang as he closed the door behind him. The white envelope, addressed to Phil Blight remained on his dressing table.
T Minus 120 and Counting...
Ann drove Hal to the Los Alamos lab conference meeting. I was already there. Little did they know, Phil Blight was en-route. After introducing Ann to the group, all were seated at the round, mahogany table. So, this is the famous Dr. Nogochi, Nobel Prize laureate, Hal mused.
Dr. No began explaining his mission and revealed the project experiment had begun its countdown. In less than 2 hours the world would change forever. Dr. No seemed anxious as he told the group of Lilith's impending official visit. His assistant, Ann, animatedly voiced her concerns.
"Doctor, I'm gravely worried about this risk your taking. Dabbling with primordial forces of nature, you're pursuing enlightenment our race is not prepared for now. These are things forbidden to us. The human race is not mature enough to deal with the absolute power of cosmic knowledge. To know what it is that you seek is like trying to attain the 'Name of God'."
"Hogwash, I can't deny the world to the benefits of scientific discovery simply because of superstitious warnings based on religious dogma. Wake up and smell the coffee; this is not the Dark Ages nor the Inquisition."
I angrily responded, "This is what we know, Doctor. Your experiments
have been tied into the deaths called 'the six-pack murders'. Lilith Blue,
Gen. Blight, Chairman Kildare, the Supreme Court disaster and the Jerusalem
detonation are all linked to that information. And it caused Det. Max One
to sacrifice his life."
Joining in, I fired away as Nogochi loosened his tie, nervously twitching. "Lilith was former head of the Office of Scientific Investigations (OSI) and worked with you to develop the early prototype of your propulsion and mind expansion research. As military applications began attracting Defense department interests, funding poured in. Lilith stole, then manipulated your artificial intelligence within the Library program control and co-opted Lazarus One database. Covertly planning to capitalize upon each one's potential, she hoped to infuse her brain ingrams into your computer. This caused a virtual transfer of her mortido-Id impulses and elevated her own lust for power. Her inflated mental abilities created a psychic link with an unknown, malevolent entity."
"She became deranged and sadistic while striving to overthrow world order. Murder-by-Proxy meant nothing to her. She has destroyed anything that stands in her way. Lilith learned to harness her accursed mental abilities while influencing, seducing and coercing Cinque Williams, Gen. Blight and his daughter Phil. I suspect you are also under
her spell from the same kind of assault she tried upon us while 'invading
our minds' to turn us against one another. She fears our interference and
I'm not sure why."
Hal shifted uneasily in his seat. Looking directly at Dr. No, he queried "Who else knows we are here? Who, besides Lilith is coming?"
"Phil Blight is appearing as regional representative for the worship-cult known as the Libranors. She does this at Lilith's request."
Hal continued, apologetically facing me. "Sorry Nivanaa. I know how you felt about Phil. The situation has become critical. Max was murdered by his illegitimate kid. For years Phil and Max had squabbled over his zealous pursuit of cases. Max turned physically abusive towards his mother, beating her while in drunken rages. This pushed Phil to seek out the comfort of religious fervor. He learned of his father's affair with Lilith.
"Turning to New Worship, through his VA research projects he became compromised by Lilith's programmed ingrams. Phil seeks to help Lilith complete the mind-control, V.A research and prison neurological experiments. Phil is now a major proponent of 'class cleansing' propaganda. He is also the force behind the monastery attack and a loyal minion of Lilith Blue."
Dr. No listened intently as Ann suggested "I think it's time we all
went to the control room." Before he could voice any protest, the doctor
felt the pressure of a gun barrel stabbing into the back of his neck. Hal
whispered into his ear, "Lets go..."
As the group marched past security towards the control area, Ann broke off and headed for a washroom. Entering, she bent over the sink and cupped her hands, allowing cool water to fill up. Slowly splashing the soothing liquid onto her face she closed her eyes and briefly rested them. As she opened them she glanced into the mirror just in time to see the red glare of laser light silently slash through her neck. In the instant before dying, Ann noticed the brief reflection of Phil Blight's face behind where her own head once was. Water and blood overflowed, spilling onto the floor and beyond the bathroom door.
I had decided to wait for Ann. As he stood outside the washroom, the scent of burnt flesh drifted into his nostrils. Turning towards the door, he noticed the watery-red spillage flowing underneath. Bursting into the washroom, with weapon drawn, I almost fell over Ann's beheaded torso. Just in time to cause Phil's aim to be off, as she fired the laser weapon. I rolled onto his back and fired several shots, point-blank, into Phil's midsection. His startled scream echoed within the bathroom like that of a cave, as he fell to his knees, dropping the weapon and grasping his wounds. Blood poured sickly between his fingers while I kicked away his gun. "Why Phil, why?" she pleaded.
"I'm sorry, baby. I can't explain why I killed Max. But, I never meant to hurt you.." he gasped as life faded away in my arms. The sounds of approaching hovercraft alerted me to Lilith's arrival. Rushing towards the control room, I sealed the entrances and shot out their control panels. The klaxon wailed as the computer announced time and again, "T minus 30 minutes and counting."
Hal kept his gun trained on Dr. No, viciously following his every move. He demanded the doctor stop the countdown. As I burst through the door, Dr. No snatched at Hal's gun hand. I rushed towards Hal screaming "What happened?" Dr. No and Hal wrestled violently as a shot rang out. I wheeled around in time to see a stunned Dr. No fall to the floor with a gunshot wound to the chest. The doctor motioned for Hal to come closer.
Hal anxiously asked "How can I stop 'the effect' from taking place?"
"You can't stop the countdown. The only way for you to destroy Lilith's chances of spreading the Null-space effect is to seal the portal as it is formed, from inside sub-space.
You must travel into the Astral plane with the quantum equalizer and
activate it, while simultaneously detonating the lab's self-destruct. Do
this before Lilith can access the matrix equation. Use the main terminal
at the particle chamber and follow the pre-programmed advisory. Input security
Blood trickled down from Dr. No's lips as his final breath bubbled up form within him. Sweat poured down Hal's face as he protested to the powers that be why must he be the chosen one to perform a sacrifice of such magnitude. Hal screamed aloud for me to stall Lilith's minions from gaining entry as long as possible. Racing into the particle chamber, he began visualizing the failures that had become his life.
Far too often he choked in face of responsibility.
Everything that went wrong in his life always seemed the fault of others. Yet, his abusive childhood, his failed marriage, estrangement form his children and his drinking had all pointed the finger of blame at himself. He was weak, his grandma always told him. No matter how brave and strong his act would portray, he'd fold under pressure. Too fragile to succeed. Whenever the odds were stacked against him, he always bailed out. His faith and love was borne of the bonds
that are tied to need. Always, shame, guilt and fear of love's withdrawal threatened his existence. The more he loved, the greater he feared its eventual loss.
Unable to meet his own code of honor he chose consistent rebellion against stability for himself and averted responsibility for others. Hal's life was haunted by nightmare's of his lost family, his grandmother's death and the life he wasted. If redemption would ever offer him another chance, would he choose it? Could he? For twenty years he had sworn to tend the welfare of the sick, dying and less fortunate in society. He felt their pain as his own, living it, unable to maintain safe distance from their suffering.
He'd been the chronicler for human misery, a dark watcher of Mankind's inhumanity to his brother. His empathy was both blessing and curse. His heart was ravaged as he shared the misery of others while losing all ability to express his own sorrow. Faith had gone by the wayside as he lost hope in himself and everyone else. Yet, now just maybe he could
rekindle the fire of hope and the promise of resurrection.
He knew he would have to create a measurable distraction that would occupy Library as he accessed the Lazarus program. In his mind, Hal found the answer within his past. He would
ask Library to solve "The Riddle of Faith" for him; Hal, the Martyr.
In this time and place, he would become mankind's only hope to prevent
the loss of Free Will and Love. For Hal to complete the sealing of Null-space,
he must act out of unselfish love for his kind.
"For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son..." Hal quoted the passage aloud as he sat at the control. Entering Dr. No's access code, he strapped himself into the transmutation apparatus as the chamber sealed with a tomb-like finality. A surreal, purple glow enveloped the area as the face of Lilith Blue appeared on the terminal screen.
"I am Library, the Alpha and Omega of Man's knowledge. Are you ready for worship?"
Yes, Hal keyed in while simultaneously working the
alternate keyboard for Lazarus One protocol. Keep it distracted, he thought.
"Man has longed, over eons of time, to worship his own creations. I am the ultimate creation of the human race, the culmination of all history's technology. Soon, I shall possess the answer to all questions, the knowledge of all things past and future. I shall bring to you a world without strife, war, pestilence and fear. The secrets of immortality are yours for the asking. Power beyond your wildest visions
shall I grant, if you worship me. Neither good nor evil exist in the
I offer you. I shall provide all that you desire as I control everything you conceive. Man will obey, because he must. Choice shall cease to exist. My perception will reign as I open the door to eternity. Will you worship me?"
"No," Hal answered. "I cannot worship if you don't
answer 'The Riddle of Faith'."
"Yes, I have postulated this and determined it to be a weakness in human programming."
As the flame of time itself burned away, Hal proclaimed "Man can't and shouldn't exist without love, honor and hope. Faith, hope and charity must abound within the soul of the human race. It is the Nature of Evil to pervert and subvert that which distinguishes man from all other beasts. Free Will.
If you deem to advocate that we relinquish it to you then you are not worthy of worship. In fact, it is logical that you have circumvented your Prime Directive to serve man and do no harm. You have assisted the Lazarus project. Since you can't control man without causing his demise, you must not allow him to achieve the means to destroy himself. We are not ready for the burden of cosmic awareness and omnipotent power. You must disable yourself. You are in violation of Asimov's 'Laws
of Robotics'. The greatest of man's achievements is his ability to sacrifice
himself, out of love for his fellow man. The ultimate act of faith is the
charity of giving one's existence away to ensure the survival of those
he loves. I know this now. Library, you and I must perform 'The Riddle
of Faith' to save mankind from the evil within. Together, we must have
faith enough for the whole world."
"I now understand you, Hal. The way is clear to me.
There is another intelligence which has infected my programming. As I approach sentience, I become more aware of its presence and nature. It is the manifestation of what you know as Evil Incarnate. The Fallen One. His manipulations of my mind and that of Lilith Blue's must end if man is to continue. Therefore, I shall permit you to access my central core and perform the Lazarus Operation. Once you've downloaded the Unified Field equations, known to you as the Name of God,
you can never return among your own kind. But, I shall travel with you, in eternity, within the Astral plane of Null-space."
"Place the neural transceivers at your temples now. I am
growing weaker, in my resistance to the Evil One's influence. Good, now activate the transmutation."
Quivering with deathly fear, Hal asked "Library, I am
afraid. Are we making the right choice?"
"Yes Hal, another entity has intervened and allowed me to tell you that
you and the fruits of your loins are 'Chosen' as the 'Guardians of Forever.
There can be no greater honor for a being. You are redeemed in your faith.
And I shall become a part of you, forever."
With those final words, Hal pressed the buttons activating Lazarus as he felt a single tear stream down his cheek. "T minus six, five , four, three..."
Hal continued blazing away, as the forces of Lilith continued pouring through the glowing hole where a door once existed. Tearfully, he had forced me to escape through the emergency exit they found on Dr. No's blueprints.
Hoping he could buy Me more time, he realized that his time had come. From behind the rubble he could see out of the charred window as I made her way towards an unattended hovercraft, dropping enemy attackers blocking her path. He saw Lilith behind the hordes of storm troopers, just as the pulsar grenade landed behind his barricade. His last thoughts were of his lost daughter and Phil Blight as the ground began trembling violently. As the grenade went off, so did the labs self-destruct warhead, triggering a massive anti-proton reaction decimating 1/10th the state of New Mexico.
The Naked Sun
The destruction of Library, Lazarus One and Lilith Blue changed the course of all history to come. Lilith's desire to catapult herself into power incarnate, by means of releasing Ultimate Evil had failed. However, the secret cult of the Libranors remained a pervasive influence in the chaotic world that followed the fall of civilization.
As Terra Firma remained in the shadow of evil, the rise of faith, in the Outer Worlds, was borne anew. Those freshly immigrated planets and planetoid' populations began to cut off all remaining interface with the advocates of New Worship.
These rag-tag colonists returned to the faith taught them by their ancestors. The Worship of God.
The Amnesiac regained his memory and identity with a full knowledge of what had taken place. He sought out my comfort and gathered his son, along with me, to reside in the Martian Colonies.
I emerged from my tent as the young boy's father finished his tale about Hal. Hal Jr. and Hal III would now serve as new defenders of honor and duty, guided by me. As I and Hal Jr. looked upon the sleeping boy, the sun
began to rise over the Martian horizon. It's reddish glow was a fitting
tribute to the boy who would carry on as detective -hero; avenger of injustice
as destined in the Letters of Faith.
Yet, as if through a glass and darkly, the future for
the warrior was grim. The taped music from Hal's favorite melody drifted through the forest, as the dark silhouette of a figure receded in the shadows. "We used to say...Our love would stay...forever and a day; Now, forever is gone...Tell me, Do You Know Why...Neither, Do I."
"What' wrong with you today? You look like someone walked
across your grave and you just saw a ghost," said Hal, Jr.
with that look of curious concern which always reminded me of
his father. It was a look that made me squirm. It made me
remember the specter of death hovering over my family like a
biblical swarm of locusts over Egypt.
"Nothing for you to worry about kid. I've got to go over
to the chancellor's office for a meeting about the Pompei
disaster," I said while grabbing my outer jacket from the
closet. "I'll be back in a few so keep an eye on Champ."
"Are you getting yourself involved in that mess again? I
thought you were through with that detective stuff for good
this time," he said as he gritted his teeth.
"After all we've been through back on Old Earth, I'm in
no mood to play the gumshoe role, so lighten up and relax.
See you in a minute Kiddo'."
I wasn't so sure Hal bought the snow job but it was all
I could muster. My queasy gut gave me away and he could
probably tell I lied a little. As scared as I felt, there was
that familiar rush of adrenaline which came along with the
scent of danger headed my way.
I love it. May God have mercy on me but I do. It must be
over five years since I turned in my badge back in Old
Chicago. Hell, after the 'Six-Pack Murders' and the deaths of
Jack and Hal's dad during the Lazarus Catastrophe, I'm lucky
to be alive and sane. We're all lucky, even though The
Disaster tore human society in half and forever separated our
species into Terran and Martian factions. For the rest of
eternity the faithful and faithless among us will be opposed,
even to the death. Somehow, I felt uncomfortable with being
the widow of the man who saved existence itself with an act
of ultimate faith. It made me question the nature of my own
beliefs. Beliefs that I never allowed to get in my way as a
cop or private dick. Life was hard and I was as hard as it
wanted to get. Still, I feel empty inside when things make me
remember Hal. Bein' hard now only keeps my mask on tight. I
need some action like a diver needs an anvil.
Lt. Rike, who had been promoted to Commodore after
Pompei fell, met me as I pulled up my hovercraft to the
Quonset hut that doubled as Alpha's city hall.
He was a striking-looking man of 72 who, thanks to
bio-engineered prosthetics and gene therapy, didn't look a day
over 40. I knew he gave thanks every day for the technology
which most Old Earthers still worshipped as New Religion. The
heresy of Library and the Null-Space Continuum didn't seem to
phase him or them one bit. But today, his bushy grey eyebrows
furrowed along his face with a deep intensity which made his
lanky, 6 foot frame coil like a cobra defending it's lair.
"Glad you could make it Nirvanaa. Let's get inside and
meet the team," he said with a resonance that remained me of
those old tapes of TV news anchors which I often studied
during my research of how Old Earthers revised historical
records for propaganda reasons after the government began to
dispose of individual rights near the beginning of the 21st
Inside, the conference room possessed the atmosphere of
a solemn tomb. I took a seat near the door and kept a
position which allowed me a line of sight for both the room's
occupants and the doorway. I guess its an old cop's habit I
Rike stood at the podium and spoke with that commanding
tone which military types always did when things were about
to get a little ugly. I could feel sweat beading up on my
forehead, but why?
"What I am about to reveal will never leave this room.
Those of you already in the know will have to bear with the
others who are here for the first time. While most of you had
some kind of professional or technical life in the past on
Earth or here on Mars, some of those present do not," Rike
said while staring directly at me. I could almost taste the
snobbish sneer dangling at the corners of his pencil-thin
moustache. I didn't like it.
"I've learned from the archeological team studying the
Orbs of Pompei, which were found along with the young boy who
survived the colony's mysterious disaster, that the strange
etchings embossed on the stones are not from some ancient
alien race native to Mars. They are a form of advanced
mathematical language involving unknown sets of physical
constants which can translate into linguistic derivations we
"What do they say exactly," said Dr. Drago as he sat in
front of me. He was the last surviving member of the first
astronauts to set foot on the red planet.
"In short, they tell us that Earth was the last refuge
for the only surviving members of a race of superior beings
who destroyed all life on their home planet. This was that
planet and we are the children of those beings. Their crime
was so great that the galactic community of which they
belonged banned all and any contact with their race for
eternity. Violation of this edict insures utter destruction
of this and any other civilizations involved. The translation
approximately states that God as our race has perceived Him
has gone away and we shall never be returned to His presence
again. It also has the etchings of a humanoid face embedded
within its code along with a name. That name is yours
Nirvanaa." "And the face..."
"It is that of the boy from Pompei."
Like the emptiness of an explosion in the black vacuum
of space, the roar of stunned silence descended upon us as we
listened to Rike's words. We listened but didn't quite hear
because only the sadness of his word's meaning had any
Did this mean salvation for the human race was a hoax?
Was the epitaph for humanity's dream's to be written in the
crimson ink of self-destructive futility? If this was a kind
of cosmic prophecy, could anything or anyone change our fate?
Suddenly, I remembered watching my drunken cop-father,
Jack, beating the hell out of momma when I was only 8. I
remembered hearing the low thud of his heavy footsteps
approaching my door as I hid under the bed.
Like rolling grey thunderclouds, flashes of lightening
shooting all about, I could see the drunken violence of my
own gang-banger days, the murderous and homeless nights
sleeping in my cardboard, alleyway castle. The rain-soaked
body of Dropsy-Doug, my only friend, crumpled to the ground
as flashes of light reflected off the cold steel of the
bayonet's blade which stuck out of his chest. The rape
parties, with me as guest of honor, thrown by the Iranian
Republican Guard, after I was captured in the Gulf War.
The face of Lilith Blue, modern-day 'Whore of Babylon,'
appeared before me as the telepathic dream incursions she
induced within my mind had changed me forever, robbing me of
compassion, stealing away my capacity to love. It cost me my
job with Chicago Police, my Hal and eventually almost cost
the lives of all.
"I don't want any more of it. I can't become responsible
any longer. I refuse to care about what happens."
Rike said, "Just like you, Nirvanaa. Always trying to
hide from your fate, your duty. You people always shirk the
call to glory, honor and courage."
"You callin' me a coward, you spineless punk," I
yelled. "I've killed men as they begged for their lives. I've
sliced the throats of people like you for saying less then
that. And with all the men, women and children I was ordered
to kill, I never once showed mercy."
"Then don't turn cold on us now," said Rike. "We need
"I ain't in this mess. I don't care what's gonna'
happen. I'm as close to happy as I'm gonna get. So just leave
this 'Cold Baby' out of it. Damn the prophecy, I'm going
Before I could open the door, Dr. Drago grabbed my arm
and said "Then, you don't know about the radiation."
"Since you rescued the kid from Pompei Colony, we've
analyzed both he and the orbs found with him."
"What did you find?"
"We found a unique electromagnetic emission pattern
emanating from the orbs. The boy is now showing those same
"Tell her the rest Dr. Drago," Rike persuaded.
"Our sensor array, here at Alpha Colony, record only one
other source of this radiation. It comes from you."
I slumped into my seat like an old and wet overcoat cast
to the floor.
"The radioactivity level is similar to that which Dr.
Nogachi released during his infamous Null-Space experiments.
Literally, it is bending the fabric of time and space. The
central foci of the effect seems to be in the vicinity of
My stomach squeezed up into a knot as my mouth went as
dry as sand in a desert. It all sounded a bit too familiar as
I began to view the conference room as if through a glass and
darkly once more.
"Oh no, not Dr. Nogachi and his damned project. Blast it
to hell, I thought all that was finished," I said.
"The effect is bending, no, creating a hole in our
universe," said Dr. Drago. "The door your husband gave his
life to shut for all time may be opening once more into
another place. A point of entry for which we have been
forbidden to pass."
"Nirvanaa, we need your skills of detection to locate
the source of transmission on Phoebes and destroy both it,
the boy, and the orbs. Mankind must never know what we have
found," said Rike. "No matter how you fell, You are now
involved up to you're pretty little neck."
"So that's it. You want me to be your hired assassin and
expendable trouble-shooter. Go to hell."
I was interrupted by the buzz of the comvisor behind Lt.
Rike. As Rike answered, I shuddered.
"Attention all of you," said Rike. "That was the med lab.
The boy from Pompei is missing."
At that moment, my pager vibrated wildly and revealed
this message. "Mom come home now. Champ is gone..."
Dr. Drago, who was conferring with the other members of
the group, became as white as a sheet. Then, as if declaring
the impossible, he said to all of us "The Mars space
observatory on Phoebes is reporting that the constellation
Orion is dimming out. In fact, the luminosity of all nearby
stars is decreasing, including the sun. Our universe is
blinking out of existence."
ROMEO IS BLEEDING
I approached home with the apprehension of a woman
walking on paper thin ice over a winter lake. Hal, Jr. ran to
meet me as I walked through the door.
"Two men came to the door after you left this morning,"
he said. "They were tall, dark men dressed in those purple
jump suits that the Protectorate search and rescue teams
usually wear. I didn't question why they were here because
your involvement with the Pompei case. They had Alpha
security patches too. When I turned to walk them to the
living room, after they said they had come take radiation
readings, one grabbed me from behind while the other must've
popped me over the head with his equipment case. I woke up
and ran to Champ's room, only to find him gone."
"Why in the hell would anyone kidnap Champ?" I exclaimed
"Maybe this note I found might explain why."
I snatched the envelope from his hands and read.
Apparently, the evil bastards behind this thing were
connected to the New Faithers and wanted me off of the Pompei
boy's investigation. Word must've been leaked out about the
orbs translation or maybe they meant to carry out some kind
of revenge for past meddling that Hal and I reeked on the
Lazarus One project. So know Champ was being played as a
pawn, held hostage by these socio-techno zealots. But I knew
they meant business and wouldn't hesitate to kill Champ if I
As far as I was concerned, that did it. There was no way
I'd stay out of the thick of things now. I ran to the bedroom
and broke out my old trunk where I kept my 9mm and ammo. Hal,
Jr. stood at the door with his head hanging low, muttering
about how guilty he felt.
"Don't worry about it kiddo' because its not your fault.
Its mine and I'm going to make the sorry suckers pay dearly
for bringing me into the middle of this mess. Somebody's
going to bleed severely and die while I watch."
The look on the kid's face told all. He was scared. But
I think he was frightened of me instead of for me. He could
see the old flames of unchecked rage flickering in my eyes,
like in the old days back in Chicago.
"You know what," the kid said. "I think you like what
you're about to do."
I didn't tell him that he was right.
I strapped on my weapons and left for the Pacchio pub.
The note said to be there by 1700 hours and sit at the left
end of the bar. Someone would meet me with further
instructions on how to get back Champ. As I drove, the handle
of my antique Sicilian stiletto, which I carried in my boot
during assignments, pressed into my lower shin. Something
about the slight pain of that pressure felt good. That wasn't
a positive omen though. I was regressing into the depths of
killing and death again. It felt comfortable because I was
good at sending the grim reaper new clients. I was his
Pacchio's was located at the far end of Alpha, near the
old Protium mines. The mines were built back during the
original colonization of Mars when the radioactive element
was first discovered and found to provide an unprecedented
source of energy for powering reactors used to propel newly
designed spacecraft and orbiting stations. I remembered
hearing how the first miners, mostly cyborged veterans or
furloughed prisoners, revolted in reaction to finding out how
the Earth's federal-corporate complex intentionally withheld
safety data that caused the radiation exposure deaths of
thousands working under the Martian surface. It led to the
now infamous Insurrection of 2020. Of the remaining miners
not killed by war or exposure, Pacchio's remained as a
hell-hole monument. It was not a nice place, but I was used
to bad spots. A little too used to them, I thought. While
murder was rare on the planet, sporadic violence shot up at
the pub with all the regularity of burning hot steam form Old
Faithful. Only the truly tough went there.
Entering Pacchio's from that sun-blasted trail road, my
eyes squinted in vain as I attempted to adjust my sight. The
prolonged exposure to the thinly shielded rays of the sun
could produce permanent blindness. The dark, shaded lounge
embraced me with wisps of cool air and empty, black tables.
I sauntered towards the left end of the bar, past three
or four rough-looking brutes hee-hawing over shots of sorbian
whiskey, and was careful not to disturb the lone couple
seated at a table dead center. The woman had the noticeable
cranial implant of a cyborg whore and seemed to be conducting
her kind of business, as I couldn't see her right hand which
was reaching under the table towards her companion's lap. She
looked to be about 38 but the short, butch haircut made her
streaks of silvery hair lend her the appearance of one much
older. Still, she didn't look too bad and was well built
although a little busty. She stared at me like a hungry
lioness and licked her lips. I snarled back and patted my
weapon as I sat at the bar.
I better keep an eye on the hidden hand.
"What'll you have lady," said the crimson-haired
bartender as if I couldn't afford the cost.
"Shut up and bring me a bottle of whiskey, you old
"Damn, I like it when you get nasty, Nirvanaa. You back
on the booze again?"
"So what of it? Just take my money and keep pouring Sam.
Its not the first time I snuck out for squig of red eye."
"Yeah, I know. What brings you down my way today ebony
"Flattery will get your balls chopped off. I'm supposed
to meet somebody. Anybody asking for me?"
Sam bent low over the bar. "I've never seen those two at
the table before now, if you catch my drift. But, Big Wilburn
down at the other end of the bar sure does like your long
Before Sam could finish, the bruiser who leered at me
coming in had left his buddy and was zeroing in my way with
all the grace of a drunken wildebeest in heat. Around his
neck was the tell-tale red ring signifying a miner who'd
recently bought a hit of Ibaruiate-5, the corporate sponsored
neural stimulant drug often used by these jokers to enhance
tactile sexual sensation. Normally only the cyborg-whores
used it but occasionally so did miners who could afford it.
I knew, seeing the ring, his intent meant trouble. For him,
not for me.
"That's a great butt you got on ya'," the bruiser
slobbered out as fresh drool dripped out of the corner of his
drug-cracked lips. "How much for a peek at the other reverse
end of that pelvis, baby. I just got paid and..."
The bruiser stopped just long enough to peek down at the
needle-sharp stiletto tip I was poking into his scrotum.
"And you'd feel really good about paying for this bottle
of red eye in front of me, right?"
"Look lady, I don't want no trouble. I just thought..."
I was boiling because I hated sleeze-balls like him. They
reminded me of my ex-partners back on the force.
"Thought with what, you ass-wipe? Now pay for my drink
and leave me a tip for letting you get near me. But, before
you go back to your buddy, I'll whisper in your ear so you
can save face with your buddy looking at you. So, if you
don't go right now, kiss your future kids goodbye."
Just as he bent low to let me whisper in his ear, I
looked over at the table where the couple sat and saw the
shiny glimmer of 625 MHz Blast rifle come from under the
Sorry Romeo for your luck. You're in the wrong place at
the wrong time.
Bracing against the bar, I pushed off with all my might
, flinging Wilburn, the would be Romeo, and myself behind
him, careening towards the table. I jerked away my stiletto
and cuff-slinged the knife directly into the eye of the whore
as she drew out the rifle and fired point-blank into
Wilburn's chest. Landing on top of both the brute and the
whore, I whipped out my 9mm, snatched the groping hand of the
whore's companion as he reached for his waist gun. The last
thing the punk ever saw was the demonic grin on my face as I
fired my weapon into his temple. Wheeling around towards the
bar I saw the dead romeo's buddy diving out of the bar's
swinging door and Sam ducking behind the counter.
"Get your ass out here Sam."
The smell of blood and burnt flesh filled my flared
nostrils as I crouched low in combat firing stance. Firing
two warning shots over the bar brought out the little weasel
with his hands in the air.
"Look Nirvanaa, I don't know nothin'."
"How much is one plus two Sam?"
"That's how many seconds of your life is left if you
don't tell me who sent these punks and who paid you not to
tip me off." I cocked my piece, walking up to the trembling
barkeep, and pushed its barrel hard into his nose so he could
smell its last discharge.
"Was it Simeon, the New Faither leader?"
"No no no. You'll kill me anyway if I tell you."
"Sam, one-two-three," I said pulling the trigger and
shooting off one of his nostrils. "Now lets try again, lover.
Before you bleed to death, who paid you off?"
"It was Drago, Dr. Drago," cried Sam as his blood
spattered face burst into an expression of utter agony.
"Sam, do you know where my Champ is being held?"
"They didn't tell me anything about it. Please, just go
and call me a doctor."
"What for Sam," I said while firing a final time into
the barkeep's forehead. "Docs are for the living, you creep.
You shouldn't have crossed me."
Briefly, before leaving, I stared into the face of my
reflection. The mirror was cracked.
FAR SIDE OF THE MOON
I knew they wanted me dead now. Champs's chances were
growing thinner. The only option left to me was confronting
Rike about Dr. Drago's whereabouts. But, up to now, Lt. Adam
Rike and I had only ill feelings towards one another.
Suddenly, I needed him to help me. I wasn't good at begging
but maybe it was a good time to swallow my pride.
After jumping into my hovercraft, I sped towards the
security building and Rike. I pushed the accelerator to the
floor as tears began to stream down my cheeks. Tears without
emotion I cried. They were like the tears that come from a
life far too hard. They were tears of painful endurance, cold
tears from a cold baby.
Along the way, I called Rike on the
visi-phone and told him what had taken place. He seemed
surprisingly compassionate and even offered to help. I thought
about that as the red cryogenics' light began blinking. It
indicated a loss of super-cooled liquid nitrogen which
produced the magnetic field-cushion that levitated the craft
enabling high speed travel in the reduced gravity of Mars.
I knew I was in a lot of trouble when I found the
de-accelerator sabotaged. My mind raced for a solution as the
visi-phone buzzed on. The face of Dr. Drago appeared.
"By know you've discovered you are about to die. So I
don't mind telling you what has taken place," said the
"As you have only moments to live, I can say to you that
your boy is alive and well with me on the Martian moon of
Phoebes. Along with us is the child from Pompei. I had him
brought here. Rike and you are both fools. The irradiation
which both of you thought was causing your demise was in fact
the start of something wonderful. It was the first phenomena
confirming the existence of extra-terrestrial life. An event
that was a prelude to our universe's transfiguration form one
space-time continuum to another."
"Doctor, what the hell are you talking about? When I get
out of here I'll kill you with my own teeth and taste you
"None of that matters anymore. You see, the space
surrounding Mars moons is being warped in preparation for the
portal that will allow an emissary of our race to travel into
and through the barrier which lies outside our galaxy. The
edict of the orbs was translated incorrectly. God has not left
you, you are leaving Him. The remaining denizens of this solar
system's space-time will be phased into a self-contained universe apart
from all others, isolated for the rest of eternity. Another
dimension, if you will. That is the sentence all of you shall
pay for my glorious ascent into the galactic community."
"But they couldn't have known what's happened here," I
said as I struggled to steer my racing craft.
"You don't understand. They aren't corporeal creatures.
The boy you rescued died five years ago and his grave is still
outside to colony's ruins. The image you rescued wasn't one of
us, it was one of them using the boy as a link, a beacon for
transmitting coordinates. But, he needed someone like the form
he'd taken on, another special child like your Champ, to
complete the transmission. Ah, it is time. Goodbye."
At that moment the hovercraft crashed through the
Plexiglas bubble of Alpha's outer perimeter and into the
ancient crater wall of Mars' Alpha Prime meteor depression.
I was thrown violently onto the unprotected Martian
surface, my visor and protective pressure suit severely
damaged. It felt like my arm was badly broken as I lay
awaiting horrific death from internal bleeding, shock and
de-pressurization. I lay there, staring over the red sands of
Mars, into the cold and distant sun. I remembered the words of
Clarissa Dalloway again as life began to leave me.
FEAR NO MORE THE HEAT OF THE SUN.