Sunday, July 23, 2017

Birthday - Part 4

    A short fifty three minutes later, the dropship touched down hard.
    Simultaneously, thirteen flight harnesses disengaged and men and women whose sole purpose in life was dispatch violence exploded from the rear hatch of the ship. Fire in the bellies and rifles in their hands.
    Fireteam Alpha was first.
    They moved with purpose and conviction. Every step was calculated and four sets of eyes scanned their surroundings as efficiently as any radar could hope to achieve. Bullock and Greer, both armed with their pulse rifles, stayed glued to "Brick" and Mikhailov. Mikhailov brandished a heavy, articulated gauss cannon while "Brick" swept the area with a heavy set, grenade launcher; both of them ready to dispense death to anything that threatened them or the dropship.
    But their reign was not challenged.
    Moments later, the next two fireteams, Bravo and Charlie, emerged from the belly of the dropship. They moved to the left and right of Alpha team, with Staff Sergeant Coughlin taking up a position in the middle of all three.
    But still nothing moved.
    And for that, Coughlin let out a small sigh of relief.
    Having the members of her squad around her was comforting. She wouldn't trade any one of them for a million recruits fresh out of boot. They were her armor and her weapons; her very extension of self. She knew they'd give their lives just as soon as she'd give hers to save them all and she could trust any of them to cover her back just as well as she could cover her own.
    Luckily, there didn't seem to be a need.
    The swampy area where they stood was less than appealing, but given the mention of "dangerous organisms" it was hard not to imagine hulking monsters emerging from the darkness as they landed. Instead, they were greeted by a gentle, almost serene night-time landscape.
    The dropship had touched down on a large, dry area in the swamp that may very well have been some form of atoll. Surrounded by thickets of mangrove trees that jutted out of great pools and lagoons of sea water, her mind wandered briefly to the time she'd visited a similar salt-water swamp on Earth to see the sharks and rays that lived among roots of the strange trees.
    Absently, Coughlin wondered if these pools held similar beasts as the lemon sharks back home.
    She quickly perished the thought; focusing instead on the small lifeboat that was settled quietly in waist deep water a hundred meters away. It nearly blended into the background, shrouded by a thick fog and the heavy darkness provided by the mangrove trees, but the hard metal was difficult to miss once she focused on it.
    Without a word, Coughlin pointed at the ship and all three fireteams moved through the murky surroundings with surprising silence given the wet environment. They formed up around the ship in a triangle that encompassed the little ship.
    "Alpha team." she whispered into the mic. "You're on breaching duty. If it's closed, we don't want anything nasty waiting for us inside."
    "Won't be necessary, sir."
    A moment later, she saw why.
    From their initial landing position, the little lifeboat appeared fine. Unpowered and dark, but no worse for wear short of sitting in a shallow pool of salt water.
    The rear end was another matter.
    The entire rear of the little ship where the rear-hatch should have been was demolished. The metal had been pushed and shredded outwards as if there had been some sort of explosion.
    No. Not an explosion. The edges were too ragged. Too uneven and twisted. And there were bits of flesh and gore splattered across the broken edges of the bent metal.
    "Looks like something ripped its way out." Greer commented; reflecting her own thought process.
    The question was: was it still somewhere inside?
    The ship was by no means large and it was obvious that something had come OUT of the ship, but that didn't mean that it didn't find the ship's interior more suitable than the surrounding swamps. Underestimating whatever these things were could get them all killed.
    For all she knew, it had stepped out, changed its mind, and was hiding just inside the darkness of the downed lifeboat waiting for an unsuspecting marine to bumble their way in.
    "Bravo and Charlie, secure the ramp. Alpha, clear the ship."
    Again, the groups moved seamlessly. Bravo and Charlie appeared on either side of Coughlin at the bottom of the ramp as Alpha moved deliberately up towards the shredded hole in the ship's rear. Four chest-lamps ignited the dark interior and the blood streaked walls and seats. However, with the exception of surprising amount of dried blood and some serious structural damage, the lifeboat was empty.
    There weren't even bodies.
    "Empty, Staff Sergeant." Bullock confirmed.
    "Whatever party happened here, we missed it." Brick agreed.
    "B'ylad'..." Mikhailov muttered just loud enough for her mic to pick up.
    Coughlin glanced around, taking in her surroundings once more. The deep, penetrating darkness of the forested night. The thick, winding trunks of the mangrove trees. The heavy fog. The salt water.
    All the hiding places.
    And then, as she stared, she saw a glow. It was hard to see through the fog, but against the dark backdrop, she could make out the faint lights from the nearby town.
    Could whatever this creature have been seen those lights and moved towards it? Would it have been attracted to civilization? Or would it have sensed the light and, like a beast fleeing from fire, turned and gone the other way?
    Coughlin looked over her should in the opposite direction. Another thicket of mangrove trees and probably even deeper salt water marshes lay there.
    She really wished she knew what this organism was.
    "Alright guys, let's find this son of a bitch. Calenburg is just a little over a couple miles from here. Myself and Alpha team will take the dropship and skim the area between here and there to see what we can find. In the meantime, Bravo and Charlie, you're to sweep this area for anything that might point us in the right direction."
    "What exactly are we looking for, Staff Sergeant?" Kuroba asked cautiously.
    "Something big, ugly, and mean enough that the brass don't want to tell us what it is."
    A few brows arched as she and Alpha made their way away from the ruined lifeboat and back towards the dropship.
    "And if we find it?" Dixon chimed in.
    "You do what marines do best, Specialist."
    "Ooo-rah." he mouthed with a smirk.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A List and a Name

Hello, Lovelies!

After posting 'Birthday - Part 3' yesterday and making a comment about creating a list of the soldiers in the squad, I had a friend of mine ask a very direct yet amusing question. To quote: "How many f***ing characters do you have in that story?" This gave me a good laugh but I figured it would also be worth it to provide an accurate answer.

With that said, the squad is just that, a military squad consisting of one squad lead and three fireteams. Each fireteam consists of four people that therein contains a lead, a rifleman, an automatic rifleman, and a specialist. This equates to a grand total of thirteen people who I'm attempting to give snippets of their personality given the short-story medium while still focusing appropriately on the tale.

Without further ado, here's the breakdown:

Squad Lead
 - SSGT Rebecca Coughlin

Fireteam Alpha
 - Lead
     o SGT Alfred Bullock
 - Rifleman
     o PVT Katelin Greer
 - Automatic Rifleman
     o PVT Darya Mikhailov
 - Grenadier
     o SPC Jack "Brick" Warfield

Fireteam Bravo
 - Lead
     o SGT Akihiro Kuroba
 - Rifleman
     o PVT Carter Ludwig
 - Automatic Rifleman
     o PVT Elena Cooper
 - Designated Marksman
     o SPC Adewale Dixon

Fireteam Charlie
 - Lead
     o CPL Jeremy Quinn
 - Rifleman
     o PVT Vicente Nunez
 - Automatic Rifleman
     o PVT Henry Gorman
 - Medic
     o SPC Mei Xi

Hopefully this gives you insight into who is who along with the hows and whats.

Now that we've shared that, I wanted to turn a question around to you. I blasted this out on Twitter a little bit ago, but didn't really get a response so I thought I'd ask again where my real commenters tend to be.

Obviously, we've been referring to the past few short stories as all being part of the 'Lost' universe; so named because of the first story 'Lost'. While that was not what it was meant to be called, that's definitely been the working title for a couple weeks now. I don't really feel like it's a good name overall, particularly given the presence of the 'Lost' TV show, so I've been debating a couple of other options. There are three names I'm debating on for the collection of short stories.


What do you think? Do any of these grab you? Personally, I'm thinking 'Infested' might be my favorite, but figured I'd blast it out for consideration.

As always, I hope you have a wonderful day. Thanks for joining me.

- RB

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Birthday - Part 3

Film/Image Credit goes to 'Roughnecks: Starship Trooper Chronicles'

    Ten minutes later, they were in the air and hurtling at top speed towards that upper atmosphere.
    The sensation of intraplanetary travel always made Coughlin's guts clench.
    Everyone was strapped in to their seats and they were traveling at a hard 40 degree angle as the dropship rocketed upwards. Ignoring the concept of 'the quickest way from point A to point B is a straight line', the path was designed to create a great bell curve that went up and came back down over the small continent known as Han'ei. It cut travel time down by ninety percent and turned what could be a twelve hour flight into a one hour one.
    In exchange, they got to be plastered into their seats in the equivalent of being strapped to an intercontinental missile.
    They got used to it however.
    All around her, Coughlin's squad was busy preparing.
    Most everyone seemed to be doing something. A lot of it was little more than pre-game ritual. Afterall, a lot of the combat gear had been double checked before they even dispatched to the training ground for just such a potentiality. Even then, the team had immediately started field checking the equipment while they'd waited for the dropship.
    Now it was little more than nervous habits.
    "Brick", as everyone referred to Specialist Warfield from Bullocks' team, was counting out boom-tube grenades and muttering to himself. Next to him, Bullock's Rifleman Private Greer was quietly running her combat knife along a whetstone. Across the hall, Specialist Xi was rummaging through her medic's bag.
    Technically all of it was against safety protocol, but Coughlin trusted them enough to not give them shit about it.
    Most of them chattered with each other or went about reading the mission debrief. A few others, namely Specialist Dixon and Private Gorman, had simply laid their heads back against the chairs and passed out due to not having anything to occupy their minds.
    Coughlin, on the other hand, read.
    According to the dossier on the dimly lit screen, they were on their way to the eastern coast of Han'ei where a life pod struck surface a few hours ago. It was one of roughly a dozen ships that came down across the planet. While there was no response to initial hailing, automatic metadata claimed the ship had been dispatched from a science mega-cruiser owned by the Notori Corporation called the 'Icarus'.
    Coughlin couldn't help but scoff at that name. Bad luck to name a ship that.
    She kept reading.
    The metadata also confirmed that some catastrophic event had occurred on board the Icarus of a 'Code 25436'; a proprietary company code that meant nothing to her. This led to an involuntary evacuation of all crew members. After traveling for over a month, it landed on autopilot just outside the coastal town of 'Calenburg'.
    Her squad was to secure the ship, provide aid as necessary, and take any survivors to the closest base for medical care, debriefing, and relocation services.
    In short, it was a cake walk.
    "Yo Staff Sergeant." Private Nunez called. "What's the sitrep?"
    "You didn't hear?" Cooper interjected quickly. "Your mother stopped by. We need full deployment just to move her fat ass."
    A couple of the squad chuckled but Private Greer leaned forward, her features stone in the red light of the dropship.
    "Seriously, Sarge." she said, being one of the only ones that didn't call her by her full title. "What's the deal?"
    Cooper looked like he was about to say something else, but Greer glanced over at Private Mikhailov who promptly placed a hand over his mouth. He didn't fight back; it was all in good fun after all.
    Also, Mikhailov had already proven she had no problem in knocking the wind out of him for being a smart ass.
    "Looks like we're touching down about twenty clicks outside of a little coast town on the small continent. Standard rescue op. Pick up some civvies for a life raft, get em back for cocoa, call it a night."
    Greer shrugged a little, but Bullock, sitting next to the Rifleman, narrowed his eyes a little as if judging Coughlin.
    "You sure about that, Staff Sergeant?"
    "Why wouldn't I be sure?"
    He gave her that same questioning look and it was then that she noticed he had a screen pulled up as well. She reviewed the document before her again but saw nothing to the contrary.
    There was a flashing circular arrow in the very bottom right of the screen.
    She updated the document and, lo and behold, there was more information then when the flight began. Except now, the bottom text was bright red and highlighted.



    Coughlin's eyes widened at that last part.
    She had certainly been on confidential missions before. It was nothing really new for most people in the military and sometimes you were exposed to weird or different shit that wasn't even supposed to exist.
    But she couldn't think of anytime she'd ever seen a document refer to field executions.
    She glanced up wearily at Bullock and could tell he was stonefaced, his focus on the ill-begotten document that he wasn't supposed to be reading. The soldiers all got watered down versions of her own dossier, but Bullock's technical aptitude tended to let him 'look over her shoulder' so to speak in exchange that he got to act as second in command and know that, if he ever shared unnecessary secrets, she'd castrate him with a rusty bayonet.
    She went back to the update.


    Coughlin let out a long sigh.
    "Well this is gonna be fun." she said flatly as she felt the nose of the ship dip forward into descent back towards the planet's surface.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Birthday - Part 2

Film/Image credit to 'Live, Die, Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow'

    "Nice shot." Coughlin complimented Dixon. "Hurts like a fuckin' bitch."
    Dixon chuckled and took her hand, pulling her to her feet.
    "Just lucky, Staff Sergeant."
    "How modest." She said, wiping off her uniform. "But before you let your ego inflate however, care to explain why the fuck you were away from your fireteam?"
    "I wanted to make sure my target was eliminated." he responded calmly.
    Coughlin's eyes narrowed.
    "In exchange for their lives? You understand all three were taken out before you 'eliminated your target' right?"
    Dixon shrugged but she could see a tightening in his expression that suggested she was getting to him. No sane soldier wished his squad dead even if they considered them to be extra baggage.
    His lips curled back into a smirk as he tried to rebuild his armor.
    "It's not a real op. And I think you're just mad I got you this time."
    She grabbed him by the front of the armor and pulled him so close she could smell the S.O.S on his breath from mess.
    "Get this through your thick fucking head, soldier. You are part of a fireteam. You are not team lead. You are part of my squad. You are not squad leader. You're a damn good marksman but if keep up with this horseshit the only thing you'll be in the brig for insubordination."
    "This isn't boot camp, you little shit." she continued, yanking him hard again. "I'm not going to threaten to make you clean the latrine with your tongue or some outlandish crap like that. If your cowboy bullshit gets one of my soldiers killed, I will bust you down myself and you won't see anything but the inside of a hard-work camp til hell freezes over. Get me?"
    His expression hardened and his smirk faded.
    "Sir." he responded sharply.
    "Good. Now I'm going to say it again. Do you get me?"
    "Sir. Yes, sir."
    She smiled at the man's submission and backed off. Looking around, she realized the entire squad was standing nearby, watching the interaction. All eleven other soldiers remained silent but attentive to the ass chewing.
    Sensing the tension, she decided to use it.
    "The same goes for the rest of you." she said loud enough for everyone to hear plainly.
    Several of the men and women grimaced.
    "You're the best goddamn unit the Corps has ever seen. A group of one hundred percent human badasses made with one purpose. To Kick. Ass. But if you're as sloppy as you were today, I'm going to be mailing flags back to your mamas with notes saying 'Dumbass couldn't figure out who her fireteam leader was', Xi or 'Decided to be a cowboy with another deadman', Ludwig."
    The group gave each other a few terse glances and Coughlin could tell be the flush red dominating Xi's cheeks that the comment had hit home.
    "Still...dumbasses that you all are, you're the best. And, as much as I might want to kick Dixon's ass for it..." she said, allowing herself a smile and smacking Dixon's armor playfully. "You did beat me."
    The group chuckled softly and let out a few small whoops.
    "That means you're buying the beer, right?" Kuroba yelled playfully.
    "Man, it's her birthday!" shouted Bullock. "Y'all should be buying her a beer."
    Coughlin laughed again as the group converged together, no longer a competing set of teams but as a single unit. A single body of brothers and sisters acting together in perfect unison.
    Well, almost perfect.
    "Tell you what Kuroba: I'll buy you all a beer but you get to buy my beers."
    "Don't do it Sarge!" Dixon shouted at his fireteam leader. "Don't forget what happened on Christmas."
    "I'm pretty sure that's above your paygrade." Quinn agreed.
    The squad all laughed together and started to make their way through the dingy, abandoned alleyways they had used for training and back towards the APC.
    "How about this:" Kuroba offered. "Can I waive the alcohol-fee in exchange for a cake?"
    "Depends." Coughlin commented. "Where'd you get a cake?"
    "Don't ask. Don't tell." Cooper said with a smirk and a wink.
    The group burst into laughter again as they exited the alley and found themselves in the large open field outside of the training facility. The large, boxy APC was parked right where they left it, encased by a shroud of heavy fog that drifted through the darkness.
    But there was something else.
    Two, heavy duty spotlights shone down from a dropship as it tore across the open field towards the training facility. It was moving at a steady click low to the ground. The beams sliced through the darkness as it sped towards them.
    "The hell is that?" Dixon asked with a suspicious tone.
    "Ain't no other teams out tonight, are there?" Bullock asked.
    Seemingly in response, Coughlin's mic buzzed in her ear. She tapped it and the gravely voice of Lieutenant Freeport growled in her ear.
    "Staff Sergeant Coughlin?"
    "Sir." she confirmed.
    "I know your squad just got done with a training op, but I'm sending a dropship your way to pick you all up. There's an op I need you for on the east coast of the small continent."
    Quinn grimaced, listening in on the conversation, but said nothing.
    "Sir, is there a reason one of the other squads is unavailable?"
    "All squads are in deployment and we needs yours too. We've had a number of lifeboats crash land on the planet and we need immediate response to save as many lives as we can."
    Coughlin let out a long, controlled sigh but quickly said, "I understand, Sir."
    "SitRep will be on the dropship. Over and out."
    Short and sweet. she thought to herself.
    The squad looked at her expectantly, but they all knew what was coming. They didn't know where they were going or why they were going, but they knew based on what they had heard that they weren't getting back to base right away.
    "So, you think dragging us on an Op is going to get you out of your beer duties, Staff Sergeant?" Kuroba asked playfully, trying to lighten the quickly tensing mood.
    "Yea, probably. But you still owe me cake when we get back."

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Birthday - Part 1

    With a scream, Ludwig' legs gave out from beneath him and dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes.
    His arms were locked and his jaw was spasming against the electric current that was arcing through his body, setting his nerves on fire. However, the pain wasn't severe, just restrictive.
    Ludwig's scream was more of defiance than anything else.
    Staff Sergeant Coughlin smirked and gave the downed private a swift kick in the ass. Not hard, but enough to get his attention through the haze of the zapper.
    "What the hell did I tell you about checking your corners?" she said with a disciplinary tone. "That's the third time this month."
    Ludwig growled in response, but given his locked jaw, she doubted he'd be able to say anything intelligible.
    She moved on.
    Coughlin crossed an alley and ducked under an over hang. She could hear the patrol moving slowly and carefully. That was good. But it did annoy her that she could hear them at all. She'd have to chew them out for that.
    Slithering under the low cover of old supply crates, she creeped to the edge and saw an entire fireteam.
    Gorman, Xi, Nunez, and Quinn were all in the alley not twenty meters away. Quinn and Xi were quietly bickering over something...that was hardly new. Corporal Quinn was fireteam leader, but that didn't stop Xi from trying to interject her will and be an all around pain in the ass.
    The flip side was that Gorman and Nunez were waiting quietly, guns trained on the empty alley. Their eyes were scanning the gloomy fog like hungry raptors.
    But the bitching had them distracted.
    She'd have to talk to them about that too.
    Pulling the shock grenade, she yanked the pin hard, but held on to it. Cooking the fuse inside for an extra second or two. And, once she felt the timing was right, she slid the grenade along the wet stone floor right between the four of them.
    She was already disappearing into the darkness when Nunez frantically scream "GRENADE!"
    Of course, they didn't have time to react. The cooked grenade went off before they had so much as twitched.
    All four hit the ground with shouts of anger and shock promptly followed by the clatter of armor on stone.
    Coughlin was tempted to give them all a quick kick like she had with Ludwig, but restrained herself. There was still one man unaccounted for and she'll be damned if he wasn't the biggest threat.
    Sergeant Bullock's fireteam had been dealt with pretty easily, although they at least put up more of a fight than Corporal Quinn's had. They had been ready and focused and had gotten a few pot shots off before she zapped them.
    Kuroba's team on the other hand...
    She had found Kuroba and Cooper stalking the alleys with Cooper bitching about 'just letting them go'. After quickly disabling both of them, she realized that Ludwig and Dixon were unaccounted for.
    It wasn't the first time it had happened. Neither of them played well with others and Ludwig had been taken out just as easily as Kuroba, but Dixon was another story.
    Sliding from the cover, her eyes scanned the foggy rooftops.
    Nothing. Just darkness.
    For the first time in the drill, she felt her heart rate increase. Her squad was good and they all knew the reason she put them through these exercises was to make them even better. No. To make them the best. But there was something about Dixon that always stood out.
    Something predatory.
    Something frightening.
    The Designated Marksman had risen through the ranks faster than any other soldier she had commanded. He'd been put through sniper school immediately after boot due to his aptitude and passed with colors not shortly after. While he'd been on his own sniper team, he'd been busted down and reassigned to Coughlin for 'classified reasons'. She'd raised holy hell about not being told why, but was still quickly satisfied with the results he provided.
    Coughlin glanced down on the readout for her zapper-rifle, confirmed, and started slowly moving through the alleys; keeping to as much cover as she could find.
    The man was a hunter through and through. While he had a bad tendency of breaking off from his fireteam, often with Ludwig going along to act as his unofficial spotter, she couldn't argue with the results. Honestly, they were a little scary sometimes.
    But he got the job done.
    And so, for the sixth time in the last second, her eyes scanned the rooftops and the windows.
    Little did she know that her own knowledge of the DM was working against her. She was so focused above that she failed to think of her own trick being used against her. Down the alley, a good fifty meters out, a single rifle barrel was extended through a large pile of garbage.
    She'd passed by it earlier, literally meters away, when she'd felled Ludwig.
    He just hadn't been ready to strike yet.
    And so, as she stalked, and as she hunted, Dixon held the rifle steady. He had walls on all sides, appropriate camouflage, and, in this environment, only a single target.
    He squeezed the second trigger.
    Coughlin only saw the glint of the barrel a split second before the gunshot.
    She hit the ground screaming in fury as the electricity arced through her body.
    A few moments later, her nerves shot and her body smoking, the dark-skinned sniper appeared over her; his rifle slung over his shoulder, his eyes malicious.
    "Happy Birthday, Staff Sergeant." Dixon said condescendingly with an outstretched hand to help her up.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Survivors - Final Part

    Dr. Patang and Cisneros both jumped back as the mass of darkness split into two chitinous forms. They slammed hard against the triple-state glass and it squeaked as clawed talons raked the slick surface.
    Dr. Connel laughed.
    The two creatures trying with subdued fervor to escape the operating theater were about two meters tall, with the creature on the right being the smaller of the two. They resembled bipedal versions of the huge monster in the front viewing area.
    However, Cisneros thought they were far more disturbing.
    The pair were both covered in hard, insect-like armor in a number of places; particularly along the arms, legs, and torso. Hands, eerily human, were long and gangly; tipped with several inch talons that looked like they could tear through a military hardskin as effectively as a housecat could shred a tissue. Their flesh was thick and leathery, mottled with bleeding sores; oozing holes that didn't appear to be injuries as much as part of some horrific design.
    But the worst were their faces.
    The gaping mouths filled with jagged, needle-like teeth were bad enough. They reminded Cisneros of some demented cross between an Anglerfish and a Great White Shark. However it was the beady, human eyes their stared back at him that chilled his blood.
    The larger creature on the left had soulless, black eyes that looked more like obsidian orbs than eyes. But the smaller one on the right had brilliant blue irises that reminded him of his wife's back home.
    "Well that was unexpected." Cisneros commented as he attempted to regain his composure.
    "They do that." Dr. Connel said off-handedly. "Tried a hell of a lot harder for the first hour or so. I think they're smart enough to realize that they were trying in vain."
    Cisneros chuckled at her cockiness.
    It was comforting.
    "So what am I looking at Doctor?"
    "Assistant Director, allow me to introduce Adam..." she said, motioning to the larger beast on the left. "And Eve."
    Stepping forward, Dr. Connel examined the beasts closer and started to notice more differences than just their eyes.
    'Adam' as Dr. Connel called him, was completely nude though he was reassured to find that the human similarities stopped at genitalia. Additionally the creature seemed heavier set, with more armor and hard edges than its compatriot, and seemed to have some sort of clawed tentacles that were tucked away behind him, sprouting from its back.
    'Eve', on the other hand, seemed to be wearing the shredded remains of a lab coat and pants. The remains hung loosely in random patches of torn fabric. Its form seemed more leathery and less armored and definitely had more of a human appearance than its partner's.
    A name tag hung on its breast but the name had been obscured by a large spray of gore.
    "And here I would have thought biblical names would be in poor taste." Cisneros said with a sideways glance before trying again identify the name beneath the blood.
    "It seemed appropriate, although it was arguably done backwards."
    "Eve was the first, uh, created."
    "One of your peers?" Cisneros asked in a detached tone despite the fact it made his stomach churn.
    "Correct. She was the unfortunate one to discover the effects of blood exposure."
    Dr. Patang made a gagged sound behind them and both turned to look at him.
    "Wait a minute. I-Is that...Sasha?" he asked.
    Dr. Connel gave a curt nod and Cisneros had to admire her cold professionalism. He would have at least reacted but she seemed unfazed.
    "Unfortunately, Dr. Garcia fell ill after you last saw her." she said softly before turning away.
    Dr. Patang stifled a sob and Cisneros could see the tears welling around his eyes. He was clearly biting his lips but said nothing more. Dr. Connel was already focused on the holding cell again.
    Cold and professional. Cisneros thought again.
    "Adam, came later." she said, redirecting the conversation.
    "Another scientist?" he asked, making an edge of annoyance clear in his voice.
    More dead meant more paperwork and he wasn't in the mood for his head researcher to be sloppy.
    "Better. He was grown."
    There was a bang from behind and Cisneros realized that Dr. Patang had left, slamming the door behind him. He was stalking away openly sobbing.
    "Don't mind him." Dr. Connel said shortly. "But yes. Grown."
    "From what?"
    "The larvae. As I mentioned earlier."
    Cisneros stared wearily at the hulking 'Adam' and felt his nerves fraying.
    "I really don't have time and patience for your games, Samantha." he said, putting on his best, managerial tone.
    Dr. Connel's eyes narrowed, but despite their history, she knew it was better not to mouth off when Cisneros pulled rank.
    "In that case, Assistant Director, allow me to show you to the Hatchery."
    Cisneros again glanced at what the doctor had identified as 'The Nest' and then back at Dr. Connel in confusion.
    "After Adam, we realized it would be a bad idea to keep the eggs in the nest."
    "Then lead on, Doctor."
    And Dr. Connel lead them out of the operating theater to a nearby security door; leaving Adam and Eve still softly clawing at the impenetrable glass. The dried blood chipping just enough to reveal "S. Ramirez" on the smaller monster's nametag before it clattered to the floor and was subsequently consumed by the throbbing, pulsing alien matter that covered almost every surface of the room.
    "Do we have a name for these things yet, Dr. Connel?"
    "Well, nothing official yet, but a few of the scientists of taken to calling them furamorphs. Poetic idiots, that they are."
    "It's old Latin. Translates roughly to 'Stolen Form."

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July

Hello Lovelies,

I'm glad you all enjoyed Survivors - Part 3 yesterday. Today, I just want to take a moment and wish everyone a very Happy Fourth of July.

I know not all of my readers are American and this day has more meaning to my side than yours, so I do apologize if this is a whole lot of nothing to you. Still, with everything that's been going on and with the raw turmoil that's boiling within this country, this day and the flag have taken on new meaning in light of the chaos.

So, for all of my fellow countrymen, I do hope you enjoy your day. I hope things improve and I hope that we don't descend into that which our rhetoric is threatening. I don't necessarily know you or know what your beliefs, but I know that you and I are both American and that's enough for me.

I hope you all have a very Happy Fourth of July. I hope it's safe and wonderful and you enjoy it in any way that you desire.

Have a wonderful day.

- RB