Galataea #02 – “Child of Earth” (Part 2)

Galataea2

BANG!

The air was flush with panic. The sound as sharp as lightning turned heads and sent feet shuffling. All of the wasteland animals understood the shape of the danger, and almost forgot about Galataea.

“Get out of the way, freak!” The little person rejoined the human torrent that passed around Galataea like a stone in a stream.

Peering over them, the giant spotted a figure in a hood sprinting from a glass cave. They did not run like the others; their urgency carried no consideration for those around. While the nuances might have been alien to Galataea they knew a predator when they saw one.

Bounding over the crowd, the nude person stepped over the heads of the metal carriers, often enticing honking roars as their feet landed. Some stopped to gawk at them, this person who was like them but not like them, as they closed the stretch between them the hunter.

“What the hell is that?”

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Lethal #2

Lethal

You know that moment in your life, where everything has been turned upside down and you realize that you never saw the forest for the trees? That’s what I’m currently experiencing. But much to my surprise, I’m not afraid. Shocked and angry, but not afraid. My hands are steady, and for some reason there’s a calm over me even as I hit the ground. And to be honest, if I was them I’d be worried about that.

A silver, bullet shaped pod lays upside down, deep in the sand of a remote beach. A clear pod door opens, and out steps Jason Hawkins. A grey t-shirt, army fatigue pants and combat boots is the attire he adorns.

By the time the pod hit the ground, I’ve had more than enough time to get over the shock. Now all that’s left is anger. I unlock the cache at the bottom of the pod. And to say the least just when I think there can’t be (hopefully) anymore surprises, Nicole manages to prove me wrong. A katanna, still in it’s sheathe is her weapon of choice for me. I’m decent with a sword, nothing spectacular, but it’s better than wading through this competition with my bare hands. First order of business is a source of fresh water, there’s got to be a stream or river somewhere towards the middle of the island.

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Shimmer #46 – “Broken Toys” (Part 5)

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My eyelids pried like old tape. Kicking from inside my skull pushed me through the haze. Every muscle whined as I rolled and planted my palm into the rug. The room was more dust than air and smelled like an attic.

I coughed and pressed against the ache until I was on my knees. From there I could barely make out the shapes against the dark. I reached out, ran my hand along fabric and pulled back the cobwebs.

“Ugh. Eww. What the hell?”

A sliver of amber spiked from the corner of the room, leading to the crack under a door. I pulled myself to my feet, nursed the thumping in my head, and hesitated when the floorboards creaked.

Where was I?

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True Blue #01 – “Back in the Saddle” (Part 1)

True Blue

The Indian Ocean
27.9 Nautical Miles off the coast of Port Hedland

Waves crashed against the hull, but could barely shift the weight of the HMAS Byron. The vessel, an Armidale class patrol ship commissioned by the Australian Naval Forces, thrust three hundred tons of steel through the tide, and cut through the water at a cruising speed of eighteen knots.

Officer Stanley Simpson lingered on the front deck and stared into the wilderness. Through his salt-coated gaze he could see only blue, but there was more out there; reports had come in of a raft, small as it was ambitious, casting life into the current and praying to whatever god that better fortune would wash back.

It wasn’t his first mission, far from it. Every few weeks there was another boat, and every time they would intercept and board only to find the traces of former humans, covered in filth, stinking and begging for clean water. Men, women, and often children, fleeing from homes torn by war and persecution, only to land in their hands.

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Ape-Man #3

Ape Man

 

“The Ape-Man’s Secret!”

by Scott Casper, thanks to Lieber and Kirby for Tales to Astonish #37

Poe Park, South Bronx

November 3, 1962

Polka music wafted from the gazebo in the park. The children dancing were warm, but for everyone else it was chilly and they needed their sweaters or jackets.

Detective Martin Webster was not there for the music (he did not care for polka) and he did not have a child at the free concert (though he and his wife had tried to have one); Martin Webster was there to talk to Jacob Stern. Stern, a Jewish man of about 30 years of age, had been standing a short distance away from the festivities, smoking a cigarette, which had made it easy to approach him. Martin had in fact already identified himself and started asking some casual questions, to put Stern at ease.

“No, I don’t have any kids,” Jacob said. “But that girl over there? She’s my niece.”

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Galataea #01 – “Child of Earth” (Part 1)

Galataea2

Galataea had not opened their eyes.

Below their feet rolled the tremors of earthworms as soil passed through them, decay entering one end and nutrients bursting from the other. Ants scuttled by the millions, negotiating the labyrinth in single file, back and forth, with hunters carrying supplies and workers carving new paths on their behalf.

The figure raked their toes through the grass and pulled it into bunches, then shivered at the sensation. Between the blades plants did battle in slow time, inching through days while birds, beetles and insects collected their due. The green drew strength from the sun, moisture from below, and reached up to bow for the breeze running them by.

Galataea smiled and arched their shoulders. The midday warmth baked their skin while the flesh cast in shade pimpled at the cool tickle of the elements. What ozone that lingered under the canopy of smog jutted into their nostrils, while birds close by and the distant roaring of artificial beasts clashed in concert.

Every tooth shone from their smile as Galataea opened their eyes for the first time.

Words spilled from their mouth, though most would not understand. In a language unique to them Galataea remarked “this life is beautiful.”

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Lethal #0

Lethal

Jason Hawkins stares out into the London sky, his shirt opened, a grave expression on his face. He closes his eyes for just a moment and when he does he’s taken back to the previous night:

In an underground pub, Jason paces back and forth as a beautiful red haired girl walks into the middle of the room, a crowd surrounding them both. “I’m sure all you brave and rugged London gents are more than ready to put your money where your mouth is. The pot’s swelled to over eight hundred pounds. And it goes to the first man who can take the champion off his feet.”

The crowd looks warily at the girl and her prized fighter, as two men drag the previous challenger out of harms way, his face swelling and his shirt blood soaked.

“I’ll take on the wanker, Envy!” A man yells from the crowd, waving his money and stepping forward. He takes off his jacket and hands it to his wife along with his beer. He hands his money to Envy, and steps towards Jason, who isn’t even facing him. The man towers over Jason, with at least six inches on him, yet Jason refuses to acknowledge his presence.

“You little bastard, show me some respect before I rip your head off in front of your lady there.” The man reaches out and grabs Jason by the shoulder, wrenching him around to face him. As soon as Jason turns the man throws a punch that is easily smacked away. Before he can follow up, Jason cracks the man with a vicious kick to his knee. The man drops to one knee on impact, clutching his injured leg. Jason circles the man, taunting him as he does so.

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Ape-Man #2

Ape-Man

“Ape-Man, I know your secret! Meet me at the Wallace Ave. Warehouse tonight! –W.” was all the sign read.  Why did it strike such fear in the heart of Ape-Man? Find out in —

“The Challenge of W!”

by Scott Casper, thanks to Lieber and Kirby for Tales to Astonish #36

Mattie was a small female gibbon, an “escapee” from the Bronx Zoo’s collection, as the other apes were. Mattie chattered a little, then sped to the wall, leapt up, and found the bars on the warehouse windows more than adequate for scaling up the side of the building. In moments, Mattie was inside; tense minutes after that, Mattie was hanging off the door handle of the back door as it swung open.

“Nice work, Mattie!” Ape-Man said. “Mattie, you stay here. Faben, you’re with me!” he said to the chimpanzee with him. He had some more instructions for Faben which he gave the excited chimp before heading inside.

Ape-Man could not even see the third floor windows when he entered; there was a partial roof over him and partition walls blocking his view of the whole floor of the warehouse. The partition walls extended out from the side walls to support columns that rose through the second floor. It was a little scary how good a burglar Mattie was, having found her way down here so fast.  

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Slips #2

Slips

“Any law enforcement here?” Amina asked as they started to walk through the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve.  She looked down at a mini-tablet in her hands.  It displayed a topographic map.  “Looks like The Tear is a mile ahead.”

“No police presence to speak of,” Azura said, his Iranian accent thick in each word.  “A relief for us all.”

Cyrus could only agree.  A black man, black trans woman, Puetro Rican and Persian walking around armed might as well be a neon sign for police saying “Please shoot me at your earliest convenience”.  The one white guy they had in Rowen wouldn’t be enough to stop that.  They’d need about two more to have any impact.  Cyrus felt a deep cynicism in saying those words, but leading the Dimensional Expedition Unit taught him far harsher realities required acceptance.

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A Darker Light #2

ADL

Selkina Spaceport Six

Planet: Sarabi

(20 years after The Maghandi Royal Displacement)

Kedis stepped through the spaceport scanner.  She hated the clunky machine, three models too old and making too much noise.  Everything in this spaceport needed upgrading and they had the money flowing through here to do it.  Careful eyes looked at other beings going through the scanners, handing the Nemtura guards bronze colored discs symbolizing the galactic currency.  Pay up enough and you could get anything through this security.

As red lights moved vertically and horizontally across her, she knew what they were checking for.  Unauthorized weapons, biological agents, outlawed surveillance equipment, stolen goods and most importantly a genetic’s check.  They wanted to make sure they weren’t opening a door wide open to a bunch of Imbued.  She held her hands above her head and tolerated the scan, knowing she carried none of those things.  And even if she did, a Maghandi got passes in this part of space.

The long-necked, reptilian customs agent waved her through with a twenty-digit hand.  It lived as one of the many genetically altered creatures employed by the Nemtura to do their menial work.  Kedis felt for the creatures made only to serve.  This particular spaceport, being as large, had thousands of them at work.  Some skittered up metal pillars chasing away flying pests while others kept to corners and along walls looking for the pests that burrowed.  They were the janitors for the Nemtura, created solely to maintain an old spaceport.  Kedis wondered how much it bothered them to know the meaning of the existence and to realize just how small it was.  What did it do to a sentient being to actually know the reason they existed?

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