Authors: Stephen B. Pearl
Tags: #9781629290492, #Damnation Books, #military, #science fiction, #Stephen B Pearl, #romance, #erotica, #Genetics, #cyborg, #science fiction, #science, #biotech, #aliens, #war, #spies, #espionage, #slaves, #love, #romance, #duty, #dedication, #life, #death, #battle, #armour, #rifles, #guns, #torture, #salvation, #sacrifice, #biology, #space
“Use to do war gaming back in my student days.”
“Me to. Go on.”
“Guessing from the technology. They are centuries ahead of us in biology. Maybe not quite so advanced in chemistry, and possibly even a few years behind us in physics.”
“Where do you get that?”
“The computer chip is primitive compared to the rest of the system they sent.”
“Why would they develop in such a cockeyed way?”
“To them we might seem cockeyed; way ahead in physics, lagging in chemistry, and woefully lacking in biology. Different cultures might place different emphasis on sciences. You've never had to fight for funding. If you pump resources into a science, it advances more quickly.”
“So we might have an edge in some areas.”
“If we're lucky. Look, Andy. I'm playing what if here. I don't know. You want my advice. Hope to hell they're friendly. Otherwise we're up the duff laddy.”
“Thank you, Richard. Keep me informed about your view of their technology. Admiral MacMillan is, wellâ¦Between you and me. He's an ass-hole!”
“He thinks that you train the big guns on it and fire. He's too used to being the one with the technological edge. He's not able to think like the weak force.”
“Black-ops training. I learned how dangerous the weak force can be.”
“I hope it won't come to that.”
“So do I. In case it does, let's spend some weekends together. I think we can teach each other a great deal.”
* * * *
Upload monitoring/ Richard Green /Index 13:30/ 12/4/2030
* * * *
Richard sat in the small cluttered office the university allowed him and poured over his notes. A knock sounded on his door.
“Enter,” he called absently.
“Hi,” said a soft, slightly nasal voice.
“Ashley.” Richard smiled and stood. He couldn't stop his eyes from tracing over her slender form. Her red hair brushed her shoulders, framing a pretty face.
Gods how can she make a sweater and jeans look so good
Richard behave, she used to baby sit Betty for gods' sake.
“Just wanted to check in and make sure you were all right. I heard about the appendectomy.”
“I'm fine. I'm glad you came. I've reviewed your master's proposal. Take a seat.” Richard shifted a pile of papers off a chair onto the floor.
“Thanks. What did you think?”
“It's a good solid topic. Working on a bio-electric implant to trigger natural lithium absorption in schizophrenics is an excellent idea.”
“Am I hearing a but?” Ashley's face fell.
“In a sense. I need a research assistant for a project I'm starting. What would you say to changing your topic to an examination of how micro-electric charges introduced to the nervous system affects the growth of cancer cells?”
Ashley stared at him blankly.
“I wouldn't know where to start.”
Richard closed his office door before passing her several of the sheets of paper he'd been reviewing. “This is between us, Ash.”
“Richard, what's going on?”
“Read those then we'll talk.” He opened his desk drawer extracting a bottle of scotch. He found a clean mug, perched atop a pile of student papers, poured a shot into it then set the mug by her hand.
“Goddess! Where did you get this? This can't be real. It's like; it's like giving a kid who just learned addition a sheet on calculus.”
“I can't tell you where it came from. I can tell you it is part of a larger picture. I want you to be part of this project.”
Ashley picked up the mug and downed the scotch. She coughed as it burnt its way to her stomach.
A minute later she stared at Richard with tears in her eyes and gasped, “You enjoy drinking that stuff?”
“It's an acquired taste.”
“So's masochism!” She returned her attention to the papers. “This isâ¦Is this for real?”
Ashley stared at the papers again. Only partially understanding what she read. “Funding?”
“Taken care of.”
“Gods, Richard, what are you into?”
“If all goes well, I'll tell you someday. Are you in?”
“You betcha mister!”
“Very good. I'll take you on for your masters.”
Ashley sighed. “That is such a relief.”
“My other choice was Doctor Robinson.”
“Edwin may be a prat, but he is a good scientist.” Richard scanned one of the papers on his desk. He needed to do something to keep his eyes from devouring the woman in front of him.
“He doesn't respect life. I don't know why a man like that became a biologist.” She focused her green eyes on her mentor. A little smile played at the corners of her mouth.
“Ash, he's typical. I've seen too many biologists who don't give a damn about life. Never be like them. Life is what it's about.”
“You're really just an old Druid at heart.”
Richard smiled. “I do my best.”
“Why don't you come to circle anymore?”
”She's stopped attending when she and Angus broke up. Betty drops by once in a while, but not often.”
“Ash, I have to stay in the broom closet. Two more years and I can get tenure. Lest ye forget, the divinity collage is twice the size of the biology department. Gods, we're lucky we get to teach evolution.”
“Oh, all right then. I think you're being silly though. It's a closed coven. I've started writing rituals. I conducted a group meditation last quarter. It went really well.”
“Sorry I missed it. I'll be back soon. I still meditate and do the solitaire thing.”
“Fine, when are we starting the project?”
“That was the other thing. What are your plans for the summer?”
“Wrong. You're my research assistant. I think it will pay a bit better than being a camp counselor.”
“Thank you!” Ashley jumped up and hugged Richard then jerked away and stood by the door looking embarrassed. “Sorry.”
“Quite all right.” Richard swallowed hard.
Zane followed Janis into her bedroom. The sheets were worn but clean and the windows were covered. An eternal calendar sat on the nightstand marking the date as âMarch 4, 2037'. Janis automatically moved to correct it to âMarch 5, 2037'.
Zane chuckled at her pragmatism. “I have missed you!” He pulled her to him and kissed her as he ran the fingers of his human hand through her short hair. It felt like silk to him.
“I love you, Zane. Oh, God, hold me. Just hold me and make it all go away for a little while,” Janis begged when the kiss broke.
Zane held her tight. His right cheek pressed against the side of her head.
She ran her fingers over his back and began undoing the clips that secured his armor.
Zane jerked away and caught her hand. “Better let me, my love. Have a few nasty surprises set up just in case.”
Zane undid the clips in a specific order, often pausing to remove almost invisible wires as he moved along.
Janis watched for a few moments then began peeling off her own clothes. She finished first. Zane paused and smiled at her. She was lean and fit, despite her age and the patches of scar tissue that marred her skin. The lines left from a slaver's whip crisscrossed her back, but a fire in her eyes spoke to the effect that experience had on her. He thought she was beautiful, and in the world he now lived in, she was.
Janis watched Zane remove the armor and smiled.
Zane dropped the top of the outfit. His chest was broad and solidly muscled. The right side was almost perfect, just occasional thin scars. The left was covered from shoulder to waist in artificial scar tissue. His left arm was completely encased in the obscuring cosmetic while his left hand consisted of two fingers and a thumb. He dropped his pants. The scars arced away from his genitals then swallowed his left leg. He removed the last piece of clothing and stood before her.
“Let's wash up. The
s are still running the pumping station. You can't drink it, but it tests out clean enough for bathing,” said Janis.
“As my love commands,” agreed Zane.
She strode up to him and kissed him gently on the lips. His fingers traced down the line of her spine. Then he pulled her close. His penis rubbed against her
as he devoured her mouth.
“Come on, we both stink.” Janis took his hand and led him into the bathroom. They stepped into the tub and she turned on the hot tap. The water warmed by the solar pre-heater on the roof flowed out and they both raced to wet themselves before closing the valve.
“I dream of taking a real bath with you.” Zane picked up a bar of soap and began rubbing it over Janis's body.
“Yes, with hot water and bubbles.”
“God yes. I'd love to see you in a bubble bath. So sexy.” Zane drew the soap over her breasts and gently massaged her nipples. He then trailed his human hand down to her sex and stroked her clitoris.
“Hmm, and champagne and strawberries,” added Janis.
“We'll have room service bring them to the honeymoon suite.”
Janis pressed her buttocks against his penis as his fingers played. “Why, Mister Hinkly, is that a proposal?”
Zane paused in his play and turned her to face him.
Janis looked into his eye and saw something there she didn't recognize. After all the battles and fire fights they'd seen together, this was new.
“If it was, would you say âyes'?” he asked.
“Zane. Weâ¦I mean, if we humans win the warâ¦well, wouldn't you want someone your own age?”
“No! I want you. The only good thing to come out of this damn war has been I've owned up to it. I love you, a few years be damned. Win or lose, I don't want to give you up.”
Janis stared at him; shocked to hear thoughts she'd had herself coming from his mouth.
“Yes,” she said.
“That would be my answer.”
“I love you, Janis. Marry me?”
Janis smiled at him. His eye was so earnest and his voice, despite the roughness his injuries lent it, so gentle.
“I love you too. Yes. Now hurry up before we're too dry and have to use more warm water.
Zane kissed her, pulling her close. He soaped her anal cleft and back then built up lather, and rubbed it into her hair.
“Your turn.” Janis took the soap and played it over his chest, spending extra time where the line of prosthetic attachment and human flesh met. She carefully lifted his penis and scrotum as she soaped them. He grew firm with her touch and when she gripped his penis and gently masturbated him he groaned.
“Let's rinse off,” he suggested.
Janis smiled and turned on the shower.
They removed the soap and the water was beginning to chill by the time they were finished. Taking a tattered towel from the bar on the door, Zane began to pat dry his love. Her body was warm under his touch and Janis sighed and moaned as he used the drying as an excuse to caress her. She took the towel from him and rubbed it gently over his healthy skin then with vigor over his faked scars.
“How is it you can make cold metal and plastic feel?” asked Zane, as she left a trail of bites along his left shoulder.
“The same way you made me feel again.”
Zane pulled her close; kissing her then picked her up and carried her to the bed. He lay her down at the edge of the bed with her legs hanging over then kissed her ankle.
“Zane Hinkly, what do you have in mind, young man?” asked Janis in her best mother voice.
Zane smiled at her, knelt then kissed his way up her leg to her sex. He licked the length of her vaginal slit before taking her clitoris into his mouth and sucking gently.
“Oh, Godâyes, Zane. Just like that,” whispered Janis.
Zane brought the two fingers of his left hand up and inserted them into her vagina as he continued to suckle her clitoris.
“Zaneâ¦oh, zane. Yes, my love.”
Reaching up with his good hand he tweaked her nipples and stroked the flesh of her torso.
“Zane, I want you inside, now. Please!”
Zane enjoyed the tone of her voice, even if it was kept to a whisper. He stood and positioned himself, feet on the floor, and slipped in. She was moist and warm. He bent kissing her as he began a slow pumping action. Straitening he brought his good hand to her clitoris and toyed with it while allowing the roughened coating on his left hand to scrape gently over her legs.
“Zaneâ¦yes; faster, fasterâ¦oww,” moaned Janis.
Zane clamped his lips shut as he came with her.
Minutes later they lay on the bed entwined in each other's arms.
“I meant it you know,” said Zane.
“I want to marry you. Richard's my CO. The war declaration allows him to notarize the documents. He could do it this afternoon.”
“Zane, this isn't make-believe, there are real consequences.”
“I know consequences, Janis. You know my rank. You know I'm not just a scientist. I've been in the field. You know how much time I've spent behind the lines. I've had to send men to their deaths. Believe me, I understand consequences. I'm not the boy who dated your daughter anymore. The one consequence I know I want is you. I want Richard to marry us this afternoon, even if it's only to sign the papers.”
“I have the license and rings in my pack.”
“Oh, Zane.” Janis teared up.
“You said âyes'.”
“I meant it too.” She kissed him, for a moment leaving the war behind.
Hours later Richard sat on a battered lounger. Janis and Zane sat side by side on her decrepit couch. Zane's left arm encircled her shoulder. His mechanical fingers making little patterns against the skin of her upper arm.
Evening light crept past the drawn, tattered curtains and around the boarded over windows.
Richard straightened from signing the document on the coffee table. “Congratulations. I am happy for you.”
“Thank you, Richard. It means a lot that my ex can be happy that I've moved on,” said Janis. “Now why are you here instead of working up ways to kill those God damn
“We're losing,” said Richard.
“The Canadians are holding along the forty ninth, by using hit and run tactics. They have the training and skill, but not the numbers or equipment. If the European coalition hadn't thrown in with them, they would have collapsed months ago. As it is, it's only a matter of time.
“The US forces?” asked Janis hopefully.
“No hope, sweetheart. The line's back to Montana and Wyoming. If it weren't for the Islamic coalition and the Israelis we wouldn't even have them there. Those boys took the Texas and Colorado fronts. The air war is the only place we're really holding our own. The
s have started experimenting with putting a cerebral symbiont in captured pilots. They're trying to download their experiences. Once they figure out how to tailor the upload they can genetically engineer the perfect fighter pilot. They do that; we're toast in the air as well.”
“I heard rumors that the South Americans were making a push to retake Mexico.”
“Done and failed. The good news is the Asians are holding their borders, the bad news is, it's only because they're willing to throw away solders like tissues,” said Richard.
“There may be a way to infect the
bio-mind. Force their core system to crash”
“What good would that do? They have more than one facility?”
“The infection would be endemic. It would halt their ability to create new troops.”
“So? We're already hip deep in the God damn things.”
“Sweetie, the main problem we have on the front is for everyone we kill a hundred show up. Close their production facilities, we cut off their reinforcements. More importantly, we end their ability to engineer new types. If we can do that, we stand a chance.”
“They'll just build new facilities.” Janis pulled away to look her new husband in the eye.
“Maybe not,” explained Richard. “If the program we wish to insert works, it will kill any
that accesses the bio-mind. We'll effectively deprive them of their computer. If we're lucky, it may even be transmitted to the mother ship. The program causes their own bio-manufacturing systems to create a virus that is one hundred percent lethal to them. If we can get it to spread throughout their system, nothing above a field commander should be left alive. We're betting the field commanders aren't smart enough to re-establish the system.”
“Good, do it. Insert the damn virus, or program, or whatever.” Janis's voice sounded strained.
“That's the prob', honey. We need to insert the program directly into the
core system, or their built in computer defenses will stop it before it can spread. And wellâ¦”
“I need, Ashley,” said Richard.
“God! You don't want much. Of course the bio-mind's core is where you'll find her.”
“Have youâ¦” began Richard.
“She emails me info when she can. Richard, Iâ¦She isn't the Ashley we use to know. That Tannal creature has done things to her.” Janis looked at the floor and wrung her hands.
“As I feared. As I knew. Still, she is essential.”
“What's the plan and why do you need Ashley?”
“Sword and shield.” explained Zane.
“I need Ash to keep the
defense programs at bay long enough for me to fully insert the program and to have it spread throughout a large section of the
system,” explained Richard.
“Oh.” Janis nodded in comprehension. “Richard, like, okay. I'm not one to judge, but why are you here? Wouldn't someone less vital to the war effort be a better choice?”
“No. Frankly, and no offence Zane, I am the only person, aside from Ashley, who understands the
systems well enough to pull this off. Also Ashley and I share a bond that will facilitate us working together.”
“You and Ashley share a bond? Hold on. Richard, she baby sat for us!”
“She was twenty-five before we became romantically involved. She hadn't baby sat for us for quite some time, and we were divorced before she was ever anything more than a friend.”
“The age difference.” Janis looked disgusted.
Richard looked meaningfully from Janis to Zane and back again.
Janis glanced at her new husband and sighed. “Oh fudge! What did I expect?” A smile touched her lips. “I'm glad you and she found each other. I always thought there were some sparks there. Why did you keep it quiet?”