Authors: Edward Punales
Tags: #politics, #space opera, #aliens, #war, #revolution
© 2014, 2015 Edward Punales / All Rights
Cover: Detail from a Computer Simulated
Global View of the Northern Hemisphere of Venus. Image by NASA
This book is protected under the copyright
laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or other
unauthorized use of the material contained herein is prohibited
without the express written permission of the copyright holder.
All characters in this book are fictitious.
Any resemblance to any persons, living or dead is purely
Author’s Notes: First, I just want to set the
record straight to avoid any confusion. This story was originally
published under the pen name “Edward Lange.” It has been
republished here under my real name. Second, this story contains
strong language and graphic violence. Reader discretion is
Henry Patrick lay on the ground, his left
hand clutching the place on his stomach where he’d been hit. The
man who’d shot him lay mere feet away from Henry, the contents of
his head splattered all over the wall behind him. The still smoking
plasma pistol that Henry held in his hand was out of ammo. He’d
used his last shot on the attacker.
He looked around him; he was in the parlor
room of the Martian villa that he and his insurgents had tried to
attack. They’d had intel that President Sallis was here. He wasn’t,
but his armed goons were.
Henry looked around to see if he could spot
anyone from his squad. Isaac lay dead just a few feet behind him
near the staircase, a smoldering hole on his back where the plasma
had hit him. He could hear the gun shots and footfalls of military
boots echoing through the halls of the house. The smell of blood
and plaster was thick in the air.
With a painful shove, Henry pushed himself
off the ground. Blood continued to drip out through the fingers of
his left hand. He finally did get on his feet, and winced as he
tried to stand up straight. He had to walk hunched over to lessen
The rifle of the man who’d tried to kill him
still sat on the ground. Henry walked over to the weapon, and
winced again as he bent down to pick it up. It felt very heavy
holding it with just one arm, and he found himself struggling to
Then he heard an explosion. The villa shook,
and he felt dust and plaster fall on his shoulders. The distant
sound of gunshots ceased. A cold silence set in. Henry froze, his
shaking right hand doing its best to not drop the rifle.
In the distance, he could faintly hear the
sound of people talking. He strained to hear them.
“No, these aren’t him.” A voice he did not
“Okay, I’ll call King.” Then the faint static
hiss of a walkie-talkie. “King did any of your boys see anyone
leave the perimeter?” a small voice drenched in static said
something that Henry couldn’t make out. “Okay. So he’s still
somewhere in the house. We’re going to split up.”
Henry’s breathing became heavy. Dark circles
began to form at the edges of his vision, and he had to shake them
away. He looked down at the ground, and saw the small puddle of
blood forming at his feet.
“This way!” someone in another room shouted.
The sound of footsteps started getting louder. Henry turned, and
began to run up the stairs. Blood from his stomach dripped onto the
steps as he made his way to the second floor. He remembered
something about there being a balcony on the second floor, one that
overlooked the artificial lake. If he could get to the balcony, he
could jump into the water, and escape the house. From there he
Henry slipped halfway up the stairs, on a
small drop of his own blood. He grunted as his body slammed against
the steps. His left side felt sore, and he thought he might have
bruised a rib.
“Did you hear that?” A voice too close for
comfort asked. It was coming through an open door way,
perpendicular to the foot of the stairs.
“It was by the parlor room.” Another
answered. “This way.”
The footsteps were very loud now, very close.
Henry looked up; there were too many steps left. He wouldn’t make
it even if he ran. He looked down at the foot of the stairs. The
government troops would be there soon. He wasn’t sure if their
intention was to kill or capture him, but he’d soon find out.
He’d lost. The rebellion had failed. He
closed his eyes and envisioned the investable chain of events; a
tragedy playing in the cinema of his mind. They’d capture or kill
him. Then they’d track down his few remaining comrades, and they’d
be executed or imprisoned. The President and his cronies would
continue to oppress the solar system. His efforts for the last five
years would’ve meant nothing. He saw the dark clouds again appear
at the edges of his vision. He was ready to let them consume his
vision, allow the sense of complete and utter defeat to take him,
and accept this fate.
He thought about Emily. He worried about what
would happen to her. But she was smart. She’d be okay.
“This way!” said a voice coming from the next
Henry tried to stand up, but his weak arms
wouldn’t move. He looked at his hands and saw how pale they were.
He felt dizzy and lightheaded. The blood from his stomach poured
freely onto his pants, and down the staircase. His dazed mind
watched the small, dark red waterfalls flow down the steps, until
they reached the bottom, where they formed a miniature lake of
More military boots could be heard echoing
through the house. Henry rested his head in bloody hands. He
suddenly felt very tired. The rifle he’d been holding seemed too
heavy to carry. His eyelids felt heavy as well.
With what little strength he had, he pushed
the rifle off his body, and relaxed on the stairwell. Years of
stress, worries, ambitions, hopes, and dreams for the future of the
solar system flashed in his mind. He comforted himself with two
inarguable facts; first, that no revolution could be stopped
because of the death of just one man, even if it was the leader.
Second, he could safely say that when those totalitarian pricks
sent their thugs to kill him, that he’d taken some of them down
with him. That was all he could ask for.
The soldiers came through the entrance and
spotted him on the staircase. He stared out at them with blank,
half-closed eyes. The blood that freely flowed from his stomach
made them relax, and lower their guard. One of troops with sergeant
stripes on his sleeves bought a radio to his lips.
“Command, we have Patrick,” the sergeant
said. “Repeat, we have Patrick.”
“Copy,” The radio responded. “Is the house
clear of tangos?”
“Over there!” one of the troops shouted, as
he pointed to something at the top of the stairs. The others
looked, and immediately began to fire upward. Henry watched as
something quick and agile leaped from above, onto the one of the
soldiers. A sound of cloth and flesh being ripped was drowned out
by a sharp scream. By the time the others turned to see what had
happened, the thing that was quick and agile had vanished.
The attacked soldier’s body’s lay on the
ground, perfectly still. A large vertical gash ran from neck to
navel. Red and pink organs oozed out, and fell onto the floor. They
looked up at his head, and saw that his throat had been slit from
ear to ear.
“What the hell was that?” The sergeant said,
and he turned to look around the room. The other men followed suit,
pointing their rifles in every conceivable direction. They’d
completely forgotten about Henry, who still sat on the stairs,
losing consciousness as he too began to search for this mysterious
“Sergeant what’s going on?” the radio
“We’re under attack.” The sergeant answered,
the barrel of his rifle still desperately searching for a
A flash of something small and black darted
into the room from an unseen location, and pounced on the sergeant.
It’d left as quickly as it had come, leaving in its wake another
From his perch slumped on the staircase,
Henry’s watched through receding consciousness as the soldiers were
taken down. Bullets were sprayed all over the parlor room, machine
gun fire drowned out the screams, and the smell of blood permeated
the air. He couldn’t tell if it was the work of one assassin or a
small team, but whomever or whatever it was, it worked fast. Within
thirty tense seconds, there was but one lone solider left.
He stood among the bodies of his comrades,
his machine gun shaking in his hands. The sound of gun fire had
stopped, leaving only the sound of his heavy breathing. Nervous
eyes under a black military helmet darted about the room, searching
for that which had killed his comrades, and would likely kill him.
Behind him he heard a hissing sound, and spun around. He hadn’t
heard it as it’d touched onto the ground, hadn’t heard as it snuck
up behind him. It stood seven feet tall, and was clad in all black.
Its long arms and legs stuck out from a small torso. It had the
physique of an acrobat; gangly limbs on a skinny body. A thick
carbon-fiber helmet with a black visor covered its head.
The only part of its body that wasn’t covered
was its hands. They were green and scaly, with three long, twelve
inch digits that ended in curved lizard claws that had been stained
The solider looked down at the thing’s hands
in horror. He lifted his rifle as he began to walk backwards.
Before his finger could squeeze the trigger, he slipped on the
spilled intestine of one of his comrades. The world fell out from
under him and he fell onto his back on the blood-soaked ground.
The monster clad in black bent down, moving
faster than anything Henry had ever seen. It grabbed him by his
collar and lifted him in the air. Once the soldier’s feet had left
the ground, the creature slashed the man across the belly. Three
horizontal gashes appeared, and the solider screamed as he watched
his guts tumble to the ground. The beast quickly threw him at the
wall, where he collided headfirst, and broke his neck. His limp
bleeding body fell to the ground, where it lay like a misshapen
The monster then turned to Henry, who’d been
watching this scene from the staircase. It slowly made its way to
the foot of the stairs, and began to ascend to Henry’s position.
The rebel leader was horrified by what he’d seen, but not scared.
He felt he was too close to death for that, and didn’t mind the
strange and deadly apparition that approached him.
The creature reached the step just below
Henry, and the faceless helmet looked down at the wound on his
belly. It pressed its hand to the side of its helmet, and Henry
could hear the static of a radio. He guessed it was coming from
inside the thing’s helmet.
Muffled behind the black visor, Henry could
hear it speaking in a language he’d never heard before. When it
finished, it removed its scaly palm from the helmet, and gently
helped Henry onto his feet. The rebel leader immediately felt
dizzy, and collapsed onto the black-clad figure’s acrobatic body.
His could feel scaly skin under the hard, thick material that made
up the creature’s suit. He slid off the creature’s body, and began
to fall down the stairs, when the creature caught him by his
shoulders. It then picked him up, and held him in his arms, like a
groom carrying his bride across the threshold.
In his dazed state, losing consciousness
quickly, Henry looked up at the veiled face of this mysterious
“Are you death?” he asked, his weak voice
barely audible, even to himself.
“No.” The thing responded, as it descended
the stairs. It spoke English with an accent that Henry couldn’t
place. “I’m something worse.”
Henry couldn’t remember much after that.
For the first few seconds after Henry woke
up, he’d completely forgotten what had happened. It wasn’t until he
noticed the IV drip hooked up to his arm, feeding him blood from a
bag that hung onto a metal pole that sat next to his bed, that he
was able to remember. His shirt had been lifted, and he could see
the stitches that zigzagged through the plasma wound on his
stomach. He looked around, recognized the bluish-green colored rock
that made up the walls and ceiling, and realized he was back in his
rebel base under the surface of the Saturnian moon Titan.
Specifically, he was in the makeshift infirmary; a long hallway,
with yellow neon torches nailed to the wall providing the only
source of light. Of the twenty-two beds in the infirmary, his was
the only one that was occupied.
His head ached, and he tried to remember how
he’d gotten back there. The last thing he remembered was being in
that villa on Mars, lying half dead on the stairwell. He could
recall brief flashes of a skinny figure in black, jumping around
the room, and taking out the government troops. It’d picked him up,
but he blacked out after that.