Children of Heaven, Chapter 28

Commodore Ryan Young had ordered the alien vessels boarded, but one self-destructed when it detected assault boats moving in and one was little more than a debris field. Of the two remaining, Young had picked the vessel most intact. A few of the alien crew had survived, most of them in isolated pockets. But they’d fought to the death all the same, refusing to be taken. Not that the Marines would have been merciful, not after the boarding teams had discovered what the tentacle-faced monsters had been doing. It was in one of those sealed sections that the Marine boarders had come across the survivors of Expedition 1992. What was left of them. It was a massive, multi-level medical section apparently designed for the express purpose of… ‘examining’ alien captives. There were hundreds of records of dissections performed upon the recovered bodies and far worse things done to those unlucky enough to be taken alive. They’d been stripped and sealed into pens with dozens of other survivors. That was where it had started.

Children of Heaven, Chapter 27

She sang when she killed, flying through fire, and when she made love, gasping and wrihting. Life was nothing without passion and neither was she. Ayrkka never felt more connected then to have her voice and mind mingle with the thousands of her brothers and sisters, to be a part of something greater than herself. Now she was alone and everything was too quiet but for the gestalt static that crackled and babbled at the edges of her senses. Only the Enemy Echo could hear her and that one burned with hatred for her. Not that Arykka could blame her. She’d never been cut off like this before. Entombed. Buried alive in every way that matterd. Arykka’s song rose higher as tears glistened in her eyes and the Evea’shi poured her despair, her loneliness and her pain into the wordless symphony, knowing that the only one who could hear her was an Enemy.

Children of Heaven, Chapter 26

Chapter 26: Jekrin Mooncurve, 19663Stronghold-778Shell WorldsHoly Curatorium of Brei HCVS Servant of Thunder Commandant Asav’ehem tugged at his collar, resisting the urge to cough. It was not easy; his chest and throat burned incessantly “Status changes?” he ordered over the pain. The lights aboard the sentinus deck were dimmed; photosensitivity was but the first symptom… Continue reading Children of Heaven, Chapter 26

Children of Heaven, Chapter 25

Natalya ran her fingers through her hair, trying to sort out her thoughts. At least they were hers this time. The medics expected a full recovery, but they didn’t know if Natalya continued to talk with the prisoner, whether each time would be better or worse. Would whatever was ‘wrong’ with her brain acclimate to the Lefu’s speech, or would the damage keep piling up? None of them knew. The young woman rubbed her temples. She’d have to talk with the pilot again. So far, she was the only one who could communicate with her. Since the Lefu still refused to speak, there was nothing for the translation programs and linguists monitoring her to work with. Some BXA personnel were trying to teach her English – a process to which she was nothing if not disinterested. Accordingly, progress was slow. Other medics were speaking with the other personnel who’d reported migraines, waking dreams and nightmares but so far none of them had shown the kind of sensitivity that she had. Why me? What was so special about her that she, out of tens of thousands of men and women, was the only one that could do it?

Children of Heaven, Chapter 24

The Lefu was standing on one hand, her legs and other arm sticking out to the sides, moving in slow arcs in some exercise ritual. If she had noticed Natalya’s arrival in the cell bay, she gave no sign of it. “Give me a moment,” she asked of the guards. They exchanged a quick look before acquiescing, stepping just outside the door, letting it hiss shut. “So you’re what’s scaring the Concord,” Natalya said aloud as she shifted the window from one-way to two-way, turning on the comm. The Lefu raised her legs together, toes pointing up at the ceiling of her cell. Her muscles rippled in a wave from her calves down to her forearms as she stretched. The tattoos on her exposed flesh glinted under the fluorescent lights. “You’re what’s killing us. Our own damned species,” her voice was rough, her throat tightening with revulsion, aching with each word. “But you’re not, are you? Not really. You might look like us, but there’s nothing inside that makes you human. I wonder if you even bleed.”

Children of Heaven, Chapter 23

The major looked down at his huge gauntlets; they were stained with blood. The freshest blots were from a young ensign who’d been skewered on the end of a bayonet. She’d never even seen what killed her, the alien creeping up behind her, invisible and impaling her on the end of its rifle. There were some sounds that you never thought a human could make until you heard them for yourself, straight from a dying throat. Leibowitz had heard too many of those. He’d killed the ensign’s murderer. Not very forgiving, but he hadn’t joined the Corps to proselytize mercy. Especially not to some tentacle-faced monstrosity that had just gutted a helpless girl like a fish. The Marine leaned back against the scarred bulkhead, listening to the comm channels as more of his people died. I hope this tub is worth it.

Children of Heaven, Chapter 22

“Human,” Admiral Foraker stated, still unable to come to grips with the concept. If Captain Drake Winters, the hive’s senior physician, had had glasses to adjust nervously, he would have done so. Over the past two days, he’d been feeling more than a little like Alice staring down the rabbit hole. Only there was a saying about looking into the darkness too, wasn’t there? He nodded, taking a moment to settle himself. Almost all of BG 97’s senior officers were here, in addition to Special Envoy Diana Pierce and none of them looked entirely happy. A rather attractive redhead, whom he realized was Commodore Archer, appeared the most discomfited out of them all. He’d heard rumours about a disagreement between her and one of her captains during the final moments of the battle for Hyperion Hive and she’d been a consistent voice for more aggressive action against the Lefu. To find out that the ‘alien bastards’ she’d lost friends to over and over again were human themselves… it had to be unsettling.

Children of Heaven, Chapter 21

Clad only in her bodyglove, Denise took a moment to get her bearings. She had her carbine draped over her back and a sidearm in her hands, along with four grenades; two plasma and two flash-bang. Not a lot. She tapped the side of her head, brushing a sweaty black lock of hair back behind her ear. She’d salvaged a portable HUD too, but it lacked the command and communication functions of her Marine helmet. Given that those had been slagged earlier, she wasn’t missing much. Now, if I were the bridge, which direction would I be in? Selecting the most likely passageway, Corporal Denise Rentwell crawled through the bowels of the enemy ship.

Children of Heaven, Chapter 20

“Energy surge from all around us! Defences activating!” Turrets rose smoothly from the floor and descended from the ceiling of the massive hangar, stitching the debarked Marines with heavy fire. Seven soldiers were killed in the opening volley as the survivors scrambled for cover and returned the assault, blasting four of the automatic defences apart. Leibowitz crouched behind Ranger Three’s hull as one of the energy guns fired on his position over and over. “Leibowitz to support – what the hell is taking you so long?” “Debarking now, sir.” The rear ramps of two of the Warhawks lowered as League battle tanks ground out, squat and massive on their treads. Dark Lord – Wraith Two – spun its turret around and stitched the ceiling with railgun fire, ripping the defences there to pieces. Last Hope – Wraith One – took precise aim at the main doors that led out of the hangar and blew them inwards. From the other Warhawks, defence drones, heavy weapons pallets and man-mounted gun pods floated down the ramps, the assault boats lifting off to return to Liberty and load themselves with runts – the second wave of the boarding action. It was not by The Book, but The Book had never imagined this kind of clusterfuck; to take Necromancer, they’d need every man and woman that Liberty could spare.

Children of Heaven, Chapter 19

Dozens of unknown ships were descending upon Cemetery. From the images the recon unit had managed to lift before it was blown to pieces, they were no more friendly explorers than the Lefu were. They were clearly killers, but they lacked the predatory grace of the Lefu warships. There was nothing to the newcomers but ugly steel and sharp edges. Most of them, at any rate. There were a half-dozen ships in the heart of their formation, larger than the rest by half. They lacked the bloated-U profile and the sharp angles of their kin; their ‘core’ was a simple rectangle five kilometers long that bulged with massive protrusions on all facings. Goldstein’s first thought was that they were carriers, but there were no visible hangars on those ovular structures, only windows. Not even troopers, then – colonizers. He was looking at the species that had murdered the world beneath him, come to claim it as their own.