It is very seldom that I see an author make their book available for free, let alone a graphic novel but here it is.
In short I think it’s a good story and well worth checking out and why not it’s free.
It is very seldom that I see an author make their book available for free, let alone a graphic novel but here it is.
In short I think it’s a good story and well worth checking out and why not it’s free.
When I first saw this I thought what a great image to post. Then I found it lead to one of the best stories I ever read. Check it out HERE
To quote Royalroadl.com
The story of Kyle Durlow and how he goes from Joe Nobody, to anything but. All because of a chance encounter on the streets of San Diego. From simply trying to convince himself that it was all some elaborate prank; to being convinced that this world he finds himself in was as real as the bank account his ex-girlfriend emptied for him. Kyle finds himself a fugitive from intergalactic justice, first running, and then turning the fight back on them. The Chaos Fountain is written from his perspective as he tries to get a handled on all he has been through, and what he has become after accepting the seemingly innocuous offer of a beer.
There has been an update check out D. C. Ballard’s official site for availability
To be fair the original story by Jay Naylor, he really only hints at what is really going on. In fact the only points it makes clear is Little Red and her boyfriend Pablo was taken by a wolf, and Little Red was then made via mystic ointments and herbs able to breed with the wolves, eventually able to give birth to wolf cubs. We also know that there is a war going on between the wolves of this one kingdom and human beings. Although some have said it is a war to conquer all, the story really never says that. We learn later that the Queen of this same Kingdom supports the wolves which includes a breeding center in a lower area of the castle.
But since there has been no new chapters in 5 years, and we know from the very 1st page of the very 1st chapter humans are in control. This is my explanation for how this came so.
5 years have past since we lasted looked at this unnamed Kingdom. Due to treason and what some feel who were protecting the kingdom. Vast areas are now devoid of life. The human population which numbered around a 1,000 at the start of the war has dwindle down to just over 200. The King has since been murdered by the Queen, who disappeared with the help of the wolves after the dirty deed was done. Meanwhile the wolves despite a massive breeding, with their human female captives there numbers too have fallen because of the war. From over 500 to just under 75, more than half are under the age of 10. Which despite their leaders hope, is far too young at fight.
Meanwhile their breeding stock are too doped up on what they used upon them to care either way. All they ever seem to want is food, and sex.
Even the leader of the wolves as he now walked through what remains of his pack, realize that his hopes and dreams of conquest are now shattered. For he sadly knows their numbers are far too small to continue to wage war, and that the only reason they were able to make as much ground as they had in recent years. That essentially no one was running this country, and what leaders that there were, are fighting other groups of humans in this former kingdom for the basic supplies.
To go after the other kingdoms was in short impossible, it seems they have gathered forces in the 1000s, which includes knights, archers and lancers all more than ready to take them on. Either way the news is not good.
Maybe not, for when a messenger came telling of another wolf pack. The leaders of this wolf pack soon hoped that the others would join them in their conquest.
For what they saw when the saw a line of red wolves nearly 200 strong, fully decked out in armour. With sword and shield at the ready, their leader shouted, “We will not take another step until their leader arrives”.
When he finally had, he was smiling, “My fellow wolves, this is more than I have hoped for. The battles we faced have cost more lives than we feared. I fear us defeated, and I know you join us in our conquest of this world”. That was when the leader of the red wolves removed his helmet after planting his sword into the ground, “Like anyone seeking world conquest, you are totally mad. For we have not come all this way from our homeland to join you. But to stop you instead. This war despite any reason you might of had, has been nothing but madness, you spoil your kind by mating with altered human females. You have taken slaves and degraded yourselves to such a degree I can barely stand to look at any of you”.
“Then why are you here?” the leader of the wolves wonders.
The red wolf leader folded his arms, “We who only seek privacy, was approached by the humans…your enemy to stop you. Which we are more than ready to do. End this stupid war, release your slaves and join us so these people and this land can heal”.
“Then what if we refuse”
That was the leader of the red wolves put on his helmet and as he took his sword, “I guess then we have to kill everyone”
Suddenly 2 naked human women get into a fight nearby 1 was a former queen and the other was a woman named Red, all that red wolf leader did was point, “Look at what you have become. Please have some dignity join us, not fight us. He brought healers they can return every human hopefully back to normal”.
Suddenly that former queen hit Red so hard it knocked her off of her feet. After grabbing a knife she charged after the leader of the red wolves. That was then another red wolf, took his sword and struck her down.
“Does this need to continue” the red wolf leader begged.
“No, I have shamed not only myself, but my pack, and I should apologize to you”.
“The only apology I need is your pack helps gather up everyone, you need to leave this land so it can heal”.
We return to the bedroom of the young women who started this story long, long ago.
“The wolves then joined the red wolves and departed the kingdom. The humans that were helped returned to what others hoped would be normal lives in other kingdoms. But sadly that never happened. Many were like Red and Pablo.
Pablo who despite best efforts of the healers never lost his breasts, even as he tried to live a normal life as a man. You see Pablo was deeply depressed. It seems his time with the wolves left him confused sexually. He tried moving to another village where he would dress as a woman. But once it got out he still had a penis. Everyone wanted him dead, as this was against their laws and customs. Eventually in desperation he joined a monastery, the monks there accepted him. Slowly with the help of the other monks. He was able to live a life with purpose.
Lastly Red’s life almost ended by her own hand, suffering from what some would call PTSD. She attempted suicide more than once. As to her relationships with men, she could not even be stand to be touched by one. In pure desperation she joined an order of Nuns, and was able to find a purpose to keep on living. But nightmares, self doubts, and even the looks from other Nuns was too much for her. After 10 years she disappeared on evening never to be seen again.
Speaking of which the wolves both the ones who took Red from the start and the red wolves that ended the war. Where never seen again, and no sign of them have ever been found since”.
I so wish Traveller had something like this! ( I made this cover) They do have several ‘furry’ races – aslan, vargr, droyne, K’kree, hiver, newts and several others and a couple alien generators especially Traveller 5’s Sophont system. Furry since at least the early 1980’s.
I think this was apart of an RPG, I think
2054 Fashion Guide, dateline Seattle
Those who are fashion conscious have, for ages, been looking for the ‘look’ which will bring them the attention that they know they deserve. In the past, one might have gone to a plastic surgeon to make you more attractive and younger looking. But this is a new, awakened world. And people of all races and creeds are looking to a new direction.
The direction of genetics
As we move full-steam into the second half of the twenty-first century, we must keep in mind that the tremendous breakthoroughs in genetic engineering…
[Relax, you’ve seen it all before. Look back into the ‘Shadowtech’ stuff and it explains all the gene-tech and grafting. I figured it would save space that you all need to add your own comments. Share and enjoy.[You expected differently?]
[Ok, keep your pants on. If you really want to see this background stuff, download a copy of ‘Snazzy’ magazine. It’s all in there. But keep in mind that ‘Snazzy’ is also a subsid of Aztech. So you can expect a lot of flag waiving and general grandstanding.
The gist is talking to the scientists and letting them rave on about the process. All it is grafting animal DNA to human ( metahuman) genes through a process that they really don’t explain, and I could really care less. All I know is it works.
I figured that I could cut to the chase and let you folks cruise over the actual meat & potato(e)s of this article. If you want to read useless junk, go right on ahead…] (Any time / Any when)
“The actual process is broken down into individual parts.” explains Dr. J Hamilton of AntrhroCo. “For each individual case, we sit down with the prospective patient and ask them what they want done, we work over the details, and work out a plan. Within a week of the first incision, the patient can walk out the door.” He says.
[Don’t even think of walking in the door unless you have a LOT of Nuyen to spare. It aint cheap, and the permit can be murder. More on that later. I’ll let the boys talk about that.]
[We interrupt this bit of flag waiving to bring you…. the TRUTH! What they don’t tell you ANYWHERE in the article is how much it costs. So me and a few of the boys went into Aztech to bring you what it costs THEM to give all you people the ‘look’ you always wanted and never needed.] Tyger (Any time / Any when)
Process B.I. Cost
Min. Facial Alterations .1 1,500
Maj. Facial Alterations .5 3,000
This covers moving ears around, modifying cheekbones, rounding out the head, and the like. Minor alteration still leaves you looking vaguely like who you started as. Major is a real trip to the wildside.
Muzzle (Short) .3 6,000
Muzzle (Long) .7 8,000
A bit more drastic than the facial alterations, but a must for the full fuzz features. Mind you, this cost is on top of the facials! Ouch!
Natural Fangs .3 1,500
Natural Claws .4 3,500
Retractable Claws .5 4,500
Horns (Small) .1 3,500
Horns (Large) .4 6,000
Hooves .5 6,000
What animal would be complete without claws? These are self explanatory. The claws do the same damage as a set of hand razors. They remove your old nails to put in the claws. And they do grow back.
The horns do (Str)L1 for small, and (Str)S4 for large. (For the Shadowrun 2 people out there, this roughly translates into (Str)L for the small, and (Str+2)S for large, These are BIG HORNS!!!) The small horns are like devil horns, the large ones are like bulls and big- horn rams.
NOTE: This is all dependent on the animal type! If you get rams horns, the large horn damage is “STUN” only seeing the it’s only impact. If you get a bull type of large horns, it is ‘physical’ slash / puncture damage. It’s a GM’s discretion and final call
Hooves is a weird one, they reconstruct your hands to be something like a club, leaving you with two fingers and an opposable thumb. This can screw your life over a bit (-4 on all skills dependent on finger manipulation, like all B/R skills, firearms, any instrument skill (Except, arguably, drumming…), bike, car, throwing, and so on). So why bother? Well, it acts as a natural club, but it hurts a lot more! And, wow. Oh yah, there’s rumors of a weaponsmith who’ll custom fit a gun for your ‘hands’, if you got the cash.
Extended Mandibles .9 10,000
Very insect like. See the ‘Mantis’ package notes for more info.
Tail .3 3,000
Combat Tail .6 4,500
A normal tail is just that, a tail. The normal model (if you can call it that) is decorative, and only enhances the look. It can, however, be made to act like a real tail in all aspects of the term, mainly that of balance. This costs the surgical team an extra thousand Nuyen . But it screws your posture but good. Don’t worry chummers, they make sure it all works fine in the end product (Pardon the pun), and there isn’t any fatigue. (But it’s funnier than drek watchin’ a ‘morph walking with their butts sticking out…)
The combat tail is weighted, and can have a poison injector inside it (And that’s not only illegal, but it costs ESSENCE to install the ‘stinger’ injector But since when did that ever stop us?) The injector holds four doses of anything you put into it. (4 human doses. You adjust accordingly per race.) Either way, either tail is sturdy enough to use as a hand (at about 1/2 Quickness) and it can be used to hold onto large objects. But believe you/me. It can’t hold a troll…
Digitigrade Legs 1.75 10,000
Quadruped System 2.9* 50,000
Fur / Scales .75 20,000
Skinchange .2 5,000
Heavy Scales 1.0 25,000
Full Exo-Skeleton 2.0 50,000
Frame Alterations 1.5 20,000
*The Quadroped system takes 2.9 Essence
Digitigrade legs move your feet so you walk on the tips, a lot like a dog. Trust me, this really screws you up for a week or so. (+7 to all action-oriented target numbers. This number goes down one per day, as you get used to it.) But the advantage is it can make you move like a banshee in heat once you get into it. (+2 to reaction, and it adds +3 to quickness for movement purposes only.)
The ‘quadroped system’ is a fun one. They rip out your skeleton, and replace it with a plasteel one. Now, it’s not like the OTHER ‘steel skeleton’ the sammies know and love. It’s not armored. But, once you activate it, it runs through pistons and wires and makes you a 4 legged version of the animal you’re sculpted to be.
The bad part. You have to have the digitigrade legs, starter. You get the most realistic sculpt you can (read, the most expensive), and then you go under the knife. Once you get it, it takes about five minutes for the full change over. When it’s done, you look like either a really small bear, a really big doggie, or an average size lion.
What’s so bad? From what we hear, the process is painful the first few times you use it, and you have to get used to walking on all 4’s, and all your cyberware may not fit you anymore, and your armor won’t fit, and so on and so forth. You can get ‘customised’ armor made up, if you’d like, if you can find someone to make it for you.
There is a brighter side, tho’. Because your using all 4 limbs for movement only, it tends to make you faster and more agile. **** It also tends to make a Johnson a bit more lucrative in the cash department, soka?
A skinchange just pigments the dermis to a color pattern of your choice. This can simulate anything from a white rabbit to a orange and black striped tiger to a black & white zebra. Once you choose it, it doesn’t change, it’s permanent, kids. That is, until you go in for a different style. It’s like a tattoo with an attitude, really.
The fur and scales are pretty much self explanatory. There is a chance of getting cancer from this process. ****
Heavy scales give the person actual armor! (1 ballistic, 2 impact) The full Exo-skeleton is even more so! (4 Ballistic, 4 Impact) but it munches your speed ****. All in the quest to be a walking panzer, I guess.
Frame alterations basically make you smaller or bigger. Our figures guess somewhere around the 15-35% mark each way. This is covered in the other posting of ‘biosculpting’, but it’s included in here so you can look more like a beast of your choice. I mean, who’d be intimidated by a scrawny little bear? (I know some guys who’d hug you instead a shooting you!)
Keep in mind that all those prices was the factory cost! The cost at the Seattle AnthroCo. Clinic is about x1.5 that cost, and a ripperdoc’s cost can be higher still.
And, before you forget, remember you need permits for implanted weapons! AnthroCo. is generous enough to register you as an armed ‘anthropomorph’ in Lone-Star files. But, a ripperdoc doesn’t ask questions (usually). The cost of the permit is equal to a weapon of like. (For example, a small blade weapon will cover fangs and claws. And a large bladed weapon will cover the larger horns.)
“Because of the high demand on certain types of changeovers,” Dr. Kass says “We have package deals that cover all the basics of a certain animal type. In the past, we have gotten some rather obscure requests, but we can do virtually anything that a customer can think up.”
[Sorry to interrupt again, but I feel I have to apologize. See, the rest of this is all color adverts.
And, seeing the medium I’m using, I can’t show the photos. Now, granted, they look real nice. But the words are as effective. Oh yeah, remember that this is the cost to the consumer if you go to AnthroCo. Buyer beware? Neh? So, again, Sorry about the no-photos.];[Sure, he can blot out a time-date stamp, but he can’t zap a simple picture. Ha.];[Expensive, yes.. But worth every nuYen.];Tyger (Any Time / Any When)
[Says you, you mangy furball.]– Rascal (17:38:46/04:10:54)
Again, this comes in stages. Dependent on your needs. For example, the pit-bull, a popular option for the back-alley types, is easily done. (Major facial, muzzle (short), natural fangs, (tail is negligible), digitigrade legs, fur.
This package also covers many other types of species such as wolves, foxes, and the like.
[Mix and match the price list above, I know an elf who had a fox conversion. Neat guy, too bad about the choice, however…] (Any Time / Any When)
[Yah, right.]Kit (14:14:14/03-21-54)
We offer this mainly because we have had several requests for it in the Seattle area. It consists of replacing the body with the full exoskeleton and adding the mandibles. The effect is disturbing, if the user wants it to be. (Frame alteration, mandibles, and the exoskeleton).
We have also done one conversion to a scorpion-type humanoid for an up and coming urbanbrawler. Be watching the vids for him!
[I wouldn’t go for this one, chummers.];[Why not?];[I don’t know the details, but it seems there was this guy who likened himself to an insect, something about the perfect predator and his connections. Well, he saved up the money and got himself a conversion. On the way out of the ripperdoc, he was geeked by about thirty ‘runners
all yelling it was a bug and it should be killed. Personally, I was on the other end of the sprawl when it happened…];[Obviously, not for the carnivore in your life…];Jander (23:30:43/03-29-54)
This style had long been popular. The fact that the Tri-vid show “Dinosaurs” has done so well is a tribute to this. So we offer this for the true beasts that roam the streets. (Minor facial, Short muzzle (or long, but this one is for short), natch fangs, retract claws, combat tail, digitigrade legs and scales).
[Keep in mind they will add whatever you want to add. A chummer of mine had this done, and he got the heavy scales and got an injector on the tail. WOW! This guy can rock with the best of them! Oh yeah, this is a fun convert if you like to slam in the local mosh pit![Dunkelzahn won’t be abused.];Really?];[HUH?!?;[There’s a troll out there somewhere with this. I had the honor to work with him once. Awesome doesn’t even begin to describe this guy. Honest to ghost, this guy picked up three Lone Star’s and threw them across the street! Simultaneously! One mean bear. I’d like to work with this guy again sometime…];[Thanks.];[I’ve heard a rumor that there’s a ripperdoc
somewhere in Chicago that’s willing to do one of these with a twist. Seems he’s found a way to
make ‘Joe Public’ into a Pegasus furry or a unicorn! Again, I dunno the validity of this, but I can tell
you that a chummer To mine said one of the ‘houses of pleasurable delights’ over there has a uni- morph as a “paid employee”. Then again, he’s one to over-use a BTL, ya know…]<<<<>>>>[NO RUMOR!!! It’s fact! He also knows a way to make a Pegasus furry FLY! An eagle shaman friend of mine said it was some
quickened thing, but it was spooky. Whoever he was got shot down by UCAS as a UFO and was taken in for questioning… ‘just hope they don’t ask ’bout me.]
— Tyger (Any Time / Any When)
Believe it or not my fellow furries, this has to be the World’s Most Ignored Furry Story. And why do I say this, One Animal’s Treasure first appeared in Midwest Furfest con book back in 2013. My guess even if you have an old con book you keep, my guess is most never read any story printed there.
So with all do respect to all the copyright holders on this story. I post it for your enjoyment.
“Land ho! Spot’s Island ahead” A yellow husky with a blue headfur wearing pantaloons yelled from the crow’s nest of the Scaly Wench. He looked down at the ship’s deck and saw a lizardless wearing a white blouse and red skirt looking up and waving at him to come down. Mallo waved back, exited the crow’s nest, and began climbing down a rope ladder.
Mallo hopped off the ladder and walked to the ship’s wheel to meet the lizardess and was a nearly a foot taller than him. “So, the island’s there, as you said. This treasure had better be as valuable as you say it is or we may regret having spared your life, dog”, she said.
“It is Brittany, I swear it! I want to profit from this as much as you do.” He replied. Brittany hissed in response.
“Or, I’ll just be happy to be alive”, He quickly remarked.
The ship’s Captain, a male lizard sporting a dark coat with matching pantaloons, joined them. He withdrew a telescope from his coat pocket and used it to take a quick look at the approaching island. “So, our new cabin boy came through after all, eh?” I guess that means no dinner tonight”, he said while flicking his tongue at Mallo.
Mallo looked up at the captain with sad eyes and whined.
“Har har har!” Bellowed the captain. He slapped Mallo on the back; the husky nearly fell down from the force of the blow. “I’m pulling yer tail, cabin boy! I Swear yer insides are as soft as yer outside! But don’t worry; we’ll make ya tough and scaly like us yet! Right, Brittany?”
“Well, not to tough, Captain. I might like to have a little softie like him to help keep me warm at night”, she said seductively before extending a hand to Mallo’s face and playfully pinched his cheek.
“Is it too late to cancel dinner?” Mallo nervously asked.
“We’re fast approaching the island, mateys. Brittany! I want you, four handy crewmembers, and shortly here to take the rowboat to the island and get that treasure”, he ordered. “If’n he tries anything funny, then leave him there”.
“You’re pulling my tail again, right”, the husky asked.
“Do ya really want to find out, sonny?”, the captain ominously replied.
Just over an hour later, Mallo was leading Brittany and her group of pirates to where the crew of the former ship, the Salty Dog, had buried their treasure. The husky counted his steps on the sandy beach while the pirates followed close behind.
“Ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine…one hundred! And this is where we dig”, Mallo confidently said, pointing to the ground.
“You mean this is where YOU dig, dog!”, Brittany said. Mallo looked up at her and whined.
“Oh, for the love of Davy Jones!” Brittany growled before motioning to two other lizards that were holding shovels. “You two, help him!”
Mallo was offered a shovel, but refused it. Instead, he dropped on all fours and began digging with his handpaws. The two pirate lizards looked at each other, shrugged and began digging with shovels.
Another hour and a half passed before the three animals reached the treasure chest and raised it to the surface. Brittany reached with her hands and pulled a chain over her head with a key at the end.
“A souvenir from your former Captain…I think it might still have some of his blood on it”, she said before playfully licking the key with her forked tongue. Mallo was too tired to respond. He satin the sand nearby, panting.
Brittany leaned over, inserted the key into the large lock that held the chest shut and unlocked it. She tossed the lock and key into the sand and opened up the chest. She saw what was inside, she gasped. A smile started to form on Mallo’s face which quickly disappeared as Brittany began to hiss.
The lizard glared at him menacingly and flicked her tongue. “THIS is your treasure?” She yelled, motioning at the contents of the treasure chest. “Just what in the seven seas are we suppose to do with these things? They are worthless!!”
Mallo calmly stood up and walked to the treasure chest. “You are right. They are worthless to you and your crew, but others will pay handsomely for these,” he said. He reached into the chest, pulled out an ornate brush with a brass handle from within, and brushed his headfur with it. A confused Brittany looked on while Mallo started to brush his left arm.
“A quality brush or comb is worth it’s weight in gold to my people, madam. You have no idea how hard it is to get dirt, sand, and salt water crystals out of your fur!”
The chopper wasn’t very big, but then again, it wasn’t designed entirely as a transport. The purpose of this chopper, from what I was told, was to simply blast your way through, drop in a squad of troops, and blast your way out. I have to give it to the designers, they did a good job. It had enough room for six men plus equipment, it was sleek, looking like the old style Comanche choppers, the gauss cannon on it can punch through damn near anything and it had a nice compliment of air to ground missiles.
My weapon ready, gear packed up, I headed out with my comrades. Ivanovich told me to call him Drake for short; no one calls him by his full name except his mother, and no one uses his last name except for his employers. Dojin somehow managed to fall asleep the moment we lifted off while Drake was piloting up front with one of his buddies in the gunner’s seat.
From the radio chatter we were picking up it didn’t seem like we had much to worry about. Most of the Chattan forces were pushing further east of us while Drake was taking us in a more westward route; why pick a fight when you don’t have to (don’t answer that). From the way the ride was going, things seemed to be following plan; steady pace, no jinking or quick turns, no turbulence. It was an easy ride to the hospital over the city. That is until I found myself pressed into the left wall of the chopper with Dojin grumbling about how if we were meant to fly we’d have wings.
I tightened the belts holding me into my seat and grumbled to myself about how this was supposed to be the safe route. Dojin didn’t say much, but he looked fairly annoyed. The chopper shook as the gauss cannon fired; a high pitched whine and then a sharp crack as a round is accelerated and then fired at hypersonic speeds. When the depleted uranium round hits its mark it doesn’t matter what type of shielding or armor it has it’s going to take some heavy damage or be destroyed. Oddly, there isn’t much recoil to the weapon…
A few more quick turns, explosions, and an excessive amount of swearing and we finally neared the hospital. I picked up Drake radioing the hospital telling them that we were ten minutes out and to prepare Gen for treatment. I don’t remember much of anything for the next few moments except hearing, “We’re sorry, but she just died a few minutes ago.”
There aren’t many words to describe how I felt that moment. Empty would probably fit best though; yeah, empty. Shieta died, now Gen. And some other friends along the way, but at the moment Shieta and Gen were the two who I was thinking of at the moment. I was tuning back into reality and found Dojin gripping my shoulders, yelling something. And then he was gone, and all I could think about was the numbness that was starting to grow. And then it was gone. One instant I was empty and then the next it was a simple numbness.
“Chattan forces are pushing hard and are breaking through!” Dojin yelled.
Ok, back to reality now.
“Shaul!” He used my first name, that’s new.
“Look, I now you’re probably not in the best of moods, but we’re being called to provide support.” Drake said through the intercom. “I’m being told to drop you off behind their lines so that you can take out a couple of their satellite arrays.”
Now I was really back to reality. “Hold on, I don’t even know where I’m going or what I’m looking for.” I said to Drake via headset.
“Check your backpack, you’ll find a handy little PDA. It should have all your intel there.” Drake said back to me.
Sure enough, there was a nice small, sturdy PDA. I checked through and found a detailed map showing me the target area. Tapping the corner of the screen it flipped from the map to satellite photos of where exactly the arrays were on the map. One of the perks of being a civilian; you get to have your own toys instead of whatever the government can afford…
The area was completely urban from the looks of it. There were two arrays set up on rooftops on the tallest buildings in the area. From the looks of it there was heavy AA in the area along with a large Chattan troop concentration. There were enough tanks and mechs to give ground forces major issues and it didn’t seem feasible to set up air strikes.
“So why exactly are we doing this?” I asked
“Knock out communications and cause general mayhem.” Drake said.
“Shouldn’t this be something that the SEALs should be doing?”
“Yeah, but they’re tied up elsewhere at the moment. That and we’re mobile, you have a rifle that’s designated as ant material and antipersonnel, and you’re dependable. There should be a laser designator in the seabag back there. You’re going to have to paint the target for a cruise missile strike.”
“I got a question; was this planned from the beginning?”
“Actually, no. This was supposed to be my job, but they’re calling me to take out another high profile target and you’re filling in for me.”
“Has this been cleared by command or are we improvising this?”
“A little of both.”
“You’re going to get me court-martialed.
We flew in low and fast. AA fire was getting heavier as we moved in and it wasn’t looking to get any better. The bay door opened and I fast roped down onto a rooftop a good distance away from the arrays; any closer and we’d be pressing our luck. Dojin was with me, thankfully; I wouldn’t have anyone else covering my back and spotting for me.
We started moving towards the first array due west of my drop off point, about fifteen kilometers off. The way through the building was interesting to say the least. There were a few civilians who were staying and going on as though nothing were happening outside; though the fact that they had weapons within easy reach said otherwise. We avoided them and ignored them for the most part; they did the same for us. The rest of the building was empty though; everything people had left behind. Some didn’t bother closing their doors, leaving the abandoned apartments wide open with everything they couldn’t take left behind and in the open.
Ground level now and slowly making our way outside while trying to avoid being caught. We were in luck, no patrols nearby or sentries around either. We started making our way west while trying to find some quick transport at the same time. There were random cars parked on the sides of the streets but nothing that we could use; most were busted up pretty well from gunfire or vandalism. Every few kilometers we had to duck into a building and hide while a patrol drove past us. From the looks of the soldiers in the vehicles they weren’t on too high alert; the tired, bored look prevalent on the last three patrols that went by. That’s not to say that there weren’t any patrols that weren’t actually doing their job though. Four times we were nearly caught by someone with sharp eyes and a keen nose. Lucky for us we’re in an urban area that was populated by a good number of people; their scents were still pretty strong and masked ours well enough.
Target is now in sight. It’s a tall tower, a three sided skeleton of metal rods, studded with satellite dishes. It’s one of the two hubs for communications of the Chattan forces for this side of the city. The other array was the secondary site acting as a backup in the event that something were to happen to this site. I took position in one of the windows on the upper two floors of a tall apartment complex approximately six or seven blocks from the array, just high enough over the surrounding buildings to clearly see the target.
Target is painted, and Command says that the missile is inbound. I wait quietly while I keep an eye on the target, sitting patiently for the missile to streak in and light up the sky. Minutes pass, painfully slowly; each moment I’m here is another moment that I can be discovered. I can hear the low whine of a rocket engine coming in now, AA cannons and missiles firing to take out our missile. Too bad for the Chattans, the cruise missile was right on target; taking out the top dozen floors. The secondary explosions inside the building along with the intense fires should finish off the building and collapse it. I don’t wait to find out, though, and start making my way down with Dojin.
The entire area is crawling with troops now. Everyone wants to know what the hell happened and to find out if anyone had gotten behind their lines. I decided it’d be best to stay off the streets and found an empty alleyway with sewer access. Dojin and I lift the manhole cover and slide down the ladder. I make sure to cover the manhole before making my descent. The sewer tunnel was fairly dark, with little or no light. My eyes couldn’t see much, and the smell was overpowering. I grab an NVM (night vision monocular) and slip it on, the small reflex sight in front of my right eye with everything in front of me projected onto the thin polymer screen in a dim blue.
I can hear the troops moving above us along with the drip of pipes and the sewage water running its course in a quick current. Occasionally I spot a massive rat, the size of a decent sized housecat, and have the urge to blast it to pieces. Fortunately they wizen up and scurry away before I get the chance to raise my weapon. Disgusting creatures, ugh…
The hair on the back of neck raises, a familiar tingling feeling creeps along my spine. In a flash I see troops heading down the tunnel, armed to the teeth and alert. Dojin must have sensed it too; he was dead still, ears lifted, listening for something. We quietly duck into a dark alcove, shimmying our way up it until we’re forced to press ourselves up against the ceiling. It isn’t very comfortable, needless to say, and doing this with the gear and weapons with us while keeping silent doesn’t help much either. I notice a large pipe within reach and grab it, digging my claws in to keep from sliding and manage to crawl onto it. Slowly I work myself further along it, giving Dojin enough room to get onto it as well. Thankfully the pipe has space cleared out around it in the ceiling, giving just enough room for us to squeeze into and letting us see everything under us as well. We wait quietly, feeling the troops getting closer and closer. I switch to thermal vision and carefully wrap my legs around the pipe to swing down to look around. I spot a dozen signatures in the distance coming this way; enough to give trouble down here alone. Personally, I thing we could take them, but not without someone calling for help; that wouldn’t be a very good thing for us.
They’re under us now. We keep waiting for them to pass, and they oblige us, thankfully. The last Chattan finally passes by, but we still wait a few minutes to make sure they’re gone before I swing down and double check. Coast is clear and we make our way down from the pipe to the ground and head out. We got another hundred yards before another vision flashed in front of me: two soldiers, probably scouting ahead with flashlights, not too far off in front of us. There wasn’t anyplace to hide this time, so we had to press ourselves against the walls and move slowly, hoping we could avoid them. Sure enough, fifty yards ahead of us the tunnel turned to the right and the two were around the corner. The first one came around and just missed spotting us; the second must have caught a glimpse of one of us because he started tracing his steps back trying to find us. We didn’t stop to let him, though, and kept moving along, speeding up as fast as we could without getting too loud.
We were nearing our target now, and decided to try to find a building that we could use to paint the array with. I climb up a ladder and carefully lift a manhole cover, peeking out from under it. We’re in an alley, lucky for us, with no one watching. We get out quickly, grumbling to ourselves about the stench that we managed to drag along with us. Breaking a nearby window we slip into a department store and make our way to one of the stairwells. So far it seems like this building hasn’t been occupied; good so far. We make our way for one of the upper floors, working slowly, until we’re at the second to last floor, forty stories off the ground. Slowly we make our way to the west side of the building to face the target and find a part of the building that seems to have taken some rocket fire; a few of the walls were blown out with debris from the upper floor around the area from where the ceiling collapsed as well as some blast marks.
I found a spot that had a good amount of cover and took position from it. Looking outside I could see troops everywhere on high alert; more than likely looking for us. I set up the designator and painted my target; moments later Command telling me that the missile was inbound. And now the wait; silence, except for the activity outside. Dojin was dead quiet, kneeling behind some cover where he wouldn’t be seen from outside or if someone were to glance inside the room from the hallway. AA batteries started to go off, then the low hum of the cruise missile streaking for the target. No doubt they knew what it was going for and were lighting the sky up with everything they had trying to stop it. Too bad; the missile hit the target building and collapsed the top half of it. I packed up the designator and started for the door, Dojin in tow behind me. We sprinted down the stairs, pausing every few floors to listen before continuing down.
In the department store in the bottom level troops had taken up positions. It looked like they were expecting a full out assault from the streets and only a few sentries covering the rear. Dojin and I doubled back up the stairs, keeping quiet as we could to avoid being seen. Fourth floor now and no clear way of getting down and out. I was tempted to call for help over the radio but they’d be sure to pick it up and trace our signal. I looked at Dojin; he looked back, giving a slight grin, white teeth showing a mischievous intent. He winked at me as he reached for his katana. I rolled my eyes and did the same as we slinked down the stairs to the third floor. We carefully looked about and saw only a few guards posted. Quietly we crept up, though our scents gave us away. Not that it mattered much; you can’t call for help if your vocal cords are cut. The immediate area was clear for us to make our way out one of the windows facing the alley. We had to make quick work of it all; the smell of blood was getting strong and the others would be sure to pick it up.
I grabbed the rope from my pack and made a makeshift harness from it. Dojin did the same as we anchored ourselves to a concrete support and rappelled down the side. We had to be careful about it; there were windows that we had to rappel down from and we’d be easy to spot and even easier targets. Wait until the guard is distracted, then drop down to the other floor. Wait again, then drop, quickly, until we reach the ground. Ground level now, a little closer to home. We cut the ropes and slip into the sewers again, quietly making our way towards a safe extraction point. We had the usual patrols looking for us, though our blades made short work of some of them. The larger groups we avoided completely, not wanting to cause too much trouble, though it seemed some of the Chattans we killed down here caused something of a stir. It wasn’t even halfway in the tunnels before we had to make our way on the streets on foot, but not without leaving a nice little gift for our friends below: a nice chunk of C4 set to detonate in fifteen minutes.
The streets were easier to navigate and a little less restricting. The tradeoff was that we were more exposed to more Chattans and could be easy targets if we didn’t tread lightly; then again, the same is true anywhere, even behind your own lines. A low rumble in the near distance marked the explosives going off, hopefully drawing away attention from this area. Fortunately it worked for the most part, though the ones that didn’t go to investigate were only more alert. That’s ok; we had more than enough space to go around them. Finally, we were far enough out to call for an evac, and waited patiently, hidden away under the remains of the first and second story of an apartment complex. Soon enough we were airlifted out by Drake, heading back to base.
The ride back was uneventful, thankfully. From what Drake had told me the loss of the two arrays had taken out a good portion of the communications for that part of the city and was wreaking havoc with the Chattans. While we were being flown back a good portion of our troops had taken the opportunity to launch an offensive while the Chattans were still hurting. I could hear radio chatter through my headset, hearing battalions marching on the Chattan lines, overrunning half the city; some areas faster than others. For a moment I found myself wishing I was down there with the rest of the men. When I was down there in the thick of things I didn’t think of Gen.
It was starting to fully sink in that she wasn’t there anymore. It sucked. There was a growing void; a hollow that screamed at me. It was building, making things hard to see, making my vision shake and blur, making things grow dim. It was starting to overwhelm me. I couldn’t breathe for a moment; my chest felt tight, something pressing my chest in. Heart rate rising… it hurts…
Then it stopped. I sat there, Dojin’s hand on my forehead, murmuring to himself. I looked at him, expressionless. The pain was gone, that hollow filled. She was dead, and that’s all there was to it. Nothing I could do about it, and she died fighting as a soldier. She was a soldier as much as she was my lover. And she died as a soldier. It’s not like she was specifically targeted; soldiers die in combat. It’s that simple; they train us to kill and to die if necessary. And suddenly all the grief I had felt was so much less. It still hurt, of course, but it was no where near as it had been before. I accepted it.
Dojin didn’t say anything the rest of the ride. We sat there, listening to the rotors turning, in a comfortable silence with each other. Right there I finally realized why I was fighting. It wasn’t about revenge anymore. It wasn’t about being lost and not having anywhere to turn to. It was about the men next to me. I fight for the men next to me. They are my family now. They are my brothers. Now I finally understand why I was cheered back in the village, and why the other Loupines would be worried about me if I were hurt, or try to cheer me up if I were down. They are my family.
And that’s what I had been doing wrong this whole time. I kept only a few friends. I kept away from my unit. That’s why I was a sniper, wasn’t it? I didn’t mesh well with the others, and this was something I could do well without needing others. I had my spotter, and that’s it. That’s why I still felt empty, even as a soldier. I had no sense of family; only a few friends. Friends can carry you only so far though, and when they’re gone, then you have no one.
I got to the Command Center quickly when we landed. Jed greeted me with a quick nod as his staff pored over papers. Jed didn’t look overly pleased about things at the moment.
“Shaul, I want your honest opinion on a few things.” Jed said to me, setting aside a few documents. “What do you think of the way we run the military right now?”
Well that was a loaded question. “Beg your pardon, sir?” I replied, unsure.
“The way we structure things, the equipment we issue out, the tactics we use. What’s your opinion?”
I pause a moment. “I think it’s alright for-“
Jed cut me off before I could continue, “Shaul, I know you’re bullshitting me.”
He was right. “Sir, honestly, I do think we need to revamp a few things. We’re structured fine, but we do need to rethink of some of the equipment we have and the tactics we use. I don’t know about you, but it would be nice to have something more reliable than the shields we have since they seem to be getting more and more defective lately. At first they were a godsend, but they’re a hassle now. I like the standard pulse rifles we have, but they could be more powerful and a little more efficient. Though, I do like the freedom that the uniform gives us.” I mention the last part with a grin, having on a tactical vest and a loincloth.
Jed sighs, nodding. “I have the same opinion, as does the Chiefs of Staff. House Chairman Guerra approved of putting together a special detachment force to implement new tactics and equipment. If things go well we’re going to adopt the new methods.”
“So what does that have to do with me?”
“You’re in it.”
That was a bit of a shock. “I don’t have a choice, do I?”
“Actually, you do. I was just hoping you’d agree without having to be asked.”
I give a smirk. “Well, since you asked so nicely sure.”
“You’ll be part of a small platoon, eighteen men total: four fireteams, one platoon leader, one platoon sergeant. You’ll the designated marksman for the platoon.”
“What about Dojin?”
“All he has to do is sign his reenlistment papers and he’ll be a fireteam leader.”
I figured Dojin was already enlisted. “What division is Dojin in, anyway?”
“PsyOps mainly, and some SpecOps.”
“I should’ve figured.”
Dojin snickered at me. “I would’ve thought you’d have figured that out sooner.”
“Gear will be issued tomorrow after you link up with your platoon at 0700.” He pulled out two manila envelopes and handed one to Dojin and I. “I suggest you get washed up, get some chow, and get some rest. Dismissed.”