Tearless Visage

Tearless Visage

A Story by Ez8
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Unfinished Science-Fiction space-opera story exploring Human nature, playing god and apathy.

"

Tearless Visage


Passion guides us as of late. Yet we have not been so blinded as to lay down our arms. Our race beaten, subdued. Our home usurped. Now we are marked as traitors. Families have been torn from their ancient bloodlines. Will we see them again? No. Their lives will extinguish into the ether while we remain. They may not see us, but their children will. Generations shall track us down seeking our eradication. Our children will defend their birthright just as we did to make it here. Those that manipulate our brothers and sisters will come for us, to finish their great conquest. Many of us will die. Perhaps we all will. I must die. One of our kin will do it. Suppress your hearts for your children. Gentility must never manifest, not from us at least. Our children will hate us, despise and curse us. Our children will not know of where we came from, how we began, and our Grand Strategy until all three have been executed. Prepare for the years ahead, we will be tested. Tested by ourselves, our families children, and our young ones. Give up on that place which once all of our race persisted. It is no longer a place we call home. Now, on this moon and the derelict planet below we make our preparations. When all has collapsed things may turn different for the little ones, unlike what we had to witness.
____________________________________________________________



Ocean breeze smacked the helmets of the creatures yet none were blown by its great gust. A cloudy day, just like before, and the day before, and the day before that. But don’t be fooled by the weather’s seeming disinterest, for they were itching with activity. Dust, ash, and pockets of invisible sulphur spread through the air.

All poisonous, so perfect for the end.

Maybe the sky was bad everywhere, but on the ground, a drab portrait was presented to their senses. Morning smog was thin, something to commemorate if the ocean weren’t a writhing mass of artificial blues and s**t browns. Flames were common on the surface of the ocean. Unexploded ordnance would occasionally detonate due to depth charges being pushed on by junk. Chemical soups in the water became fireballs of vomit and starlight.  Slush would occasionally slap the side of the cliff face, bleaching the sick dirt and those dirty suits. An impenetrable tape the creatures were itching inside of. Their skin would burn and bleed all throughout the days’ regimen. Their shrouded eyes had been set upon the enigmatic grazing monsters wading through the chemical ocean. None could look away, for the great chutes erupting out of their backs caught the creature’s eyes. As the herd drifted through the water arms at the end of their chutes crept daintily towards the surface burning with a charge visible from miles away. Flames erupt from their gentle touch.


“BETA COMPANY, MOVE, IF I FIND YOU DRAGGING YOUR FEET, I’ll THROW YOU OFF THE DAMN CLIFF.”

A zapping jolt went through sixty spines and immediately the group jogged in perfect unison, none would dare make a noise louder than the instructor's boots. As if you could hear them anyways. Two six feet tall creatures led the line in a pair followed by two more and so on and so forth until the last of the soon to be juveniles had left the dirt path. No songs or chants were heard. Comradery had never been the norm. The repetitive song of their own exhales was all to keep them company, and occasionally the bark of the captain in their helmet.

“FOUR MILES BETA! FOUR MILES TILL YOU’RE BACK WHERE YOU BELONG!“

“ YOU WILL NOT REST, YOU WILL NOT FILL THE OXYGEN TANKS ON YOUR BACKS UNTIL YOU’VE EARNED IT!”

The red dune lines began disappearing, morphing into an empty scorched sky. What dead plants the coastal trail had had long since disappeared, leaving concrete, metal, and asphalt as the only material to raise from the sooty ground. A large camp came into view, with not a soul living in it, And yet humans patrolled its perimeter. Thick marble textured concrete and two-way windows spanned the entirety of a rectangular building. Two large landing pads were at the top, delivering essential supplies and occasionally replacements for the “wavering”.  They were never told what the "wavering" meant. Although each creature assumed from first hand experience they were the ones that threw themselves from the cliffside or the ones that were punished by acid baths then taken to the seemingly infinite mining facilities. They never did see them again.

“BETA COMPANY, BACK TO YOUR CELLS, YOU’LL GET SLUSH SOON ENOUGH!”

Each of the creatures had a single cell. four meters by four. One sheeted cot. A single locker filled with the same outfit for all seven days of the week on the old world’s calendar. The outer black suit; Radiation-resistant, claustrophobic, sweltering after half an hour of jogging, and it's equally clamping enclosed helmet. Meant for function and humiliation, those who knew of its itchiness, they designed it specifically for pain. It was particularly excruciating around the neck, that damn synthetic material never stopped pinching skin. Why doesn’t anyone ask for a different uniform? Complaints are equal to insubordination, and insubordination leads to immediate deportation to a mining facility. Slush in a bottle awaits each creature upon their return from training. A single meal a day rotating between a sick pale skin color, and a churned vomit green. Neither was appetizing; one tasted of protein and plastic gloves while the other left chunks of leafy bits on teeth and would leave quite the potent breath. All would drink with the grace of a starved rodent.

A programmed voice rings in the ears of every being housed in their cells.
- If creatures fail to complete a task or show worth, creature will be immediately removed from this cell, either to reckoning or to salvation.-
 The ancillary would always say that in their ears.
-Cd-98 performance today was lackluster, do not repeat yourself on the next task.-
-Cd-67 performance today has jumped creature out of the regiment, Instructor{Redacted} will escort Cd-98 to the next shuttle off the planet.-

glopping beads of sweat were dripping off of a creature's forehead.
A salt lake began to form under its feet.
-Cd109 you've passed today´s performance review and yet you mock your master's generous decision to provide you with shelter?-
“No Ancillary, I am mer-.”
-I?-

Its body tensed and riled into the most stiff vertical stance it could muster.
“Cd-109 is just stating that the temperature inside is inefficient to my performance, Cd-109 must be properly hydrated in order to maintain efficiency in training regiments.”
-Acknowledged.-
For its reasoning struck certain criteria in the ancillaries programming.
-Although my directive states that ancillary 3278b is not allowed to manipulate the temperature, ancillary is informing creature that a behavior has been noted by our superiors. Congratulations Cd-109, you’ve been promoted.-
“Promoted? To what? What does that mean? Unexpected? A-and you won’t be with me?”
-Acknowledged, Cd-109 you are now relieved of this cell and your designation, authorization to choose a callsign complete, ancillary 3278b logging ou- (unintelligible).-
“Ancillary?”
That voice would fade out of its mind with screaming white noise, never to be heard again, the only thing that had been apathetic to it. A grey chip the size of a pebble dislodged itself from Cd’s Brain, triggering a flinch only gained from the beatings of the instructors.
A battering ram of a fist slammed not more than seven times on the cell’s door.
“CD-109 SUIT UP! YOU’VE GOTTEN AN UPGRADE! WE LEAVE. NOW.”
The creature had hastily slipped into its rad-suit, shoved a new pair of O2 tanks into their slots and barely sealed it’s helmet when the cell door opened. The instructor's helmet couldn’t reveal his face but Cd109 judged a sense of guilt emanating from him due to his body twitching.


“Towards the supply tower… don’t look so surprised, though you’re not one of us, you’re at least moving on…go... before I’m ordered to move you there.”

A finger pointed to a dust cloud eight miles high.
Cd-109 instantly put it's hydraulics to their limit, hitting its top speed and almost slamming into a filled in uniform.


“Cd-109, you’ve graduated.” the guard had nonchalantly waved him through after pressing something mounted on his wrist.


“Put your arm through the machine please.”
“What’s going to happen?”
“Do as I’ve instructed.”

As fast as the creature's arm slid into the device, a polymer clasp extended out and grabbed his forearm with a grip of a pressing machine.


“We’re safe from the atmosphere in here, stop squirming.”

A burning sensation came upon its wrist, and something was being pushed inside its arm. Warm liquid spilled for a moment then another burning sensation. The vice had loosened. A large red stain had splotched upon the boots of his suit.
Cd rapidly inspected its arm and particularly its lower wrist. An incision made horizontally with a peculiar crimson light.

“Hand is still functional I see, procedure complete. Proceed up to the flight deck.”
109 was immediately escorted up and came upon something it thought it’d never see up close. A whine like that of a banshee was blaring in everyone’s ears.

“Move. you’re the last one, come on.”

109 swiftly spotted the once prominent letters scratched and chipped on the sides of the ship; L.G.C.


The last of eighteen creatures had finally been loaded onto the dropship. The flight commander had stepped into the bay of the beast inspecting each and every one of the creatures that had sat staring at each other's helmets.

“You’ve all passed the tests. Unequivocally loyal, silent, and willing to sacrifice yourself for this great nation. Your being moved to the pilot training orbital station, you will undergo rigorous psychological training, and become elite enforcers of our sovereign’s will.” his arms had outstretched until his hands bumped the inside of the fuselage.
The flight commander then gave a signal to the two pilots who immediately went to work on raising the behemoth from the ground. The banshee’s whine grew louder until almost unbearable levels, then the ramp had raised. Silence. A piercing sound came from the top of the craft, then a green LED revealed its presence.

“All clear, you can take your helmets off. I’d advise you to converse with each other, it might be the only time you’re able.” He then strode to his station and closed its door behind him.
A silence like the air in a high desert befell upon every last one of them. For only the emerald light gave any indication where everyone sat. cd109 slowly unmasked himself revealing a face wreathed by photonic emeralds. One eye visible, the other shrouded in a veil of black silk. Slowly other helmets were unmasked, one by one, the emerald dazzle had bleached their skin and hair.

“Did the ancillaries say the same to you? About choosing a callsign?”
Emerald nods revealing and re-concealing facial features filled the ship.
“What’s your number?”
“223.”
“602.”
Cd-109 stared at the bottom of the benches. At the toe tips of the emerald boots. Faint stains only revealed by the emerald luminance.
“Did all of us have to get something put in our arms?”
Hesitant nods.  
The benches that were once filled suddenly didn't bear their passengers, but the seat straps still had a grasp on their occupants.
“What is this?”
Hyperventilation engulfed the fuselage.
Compartments had opened above each of their heads.
Black covers drifted downwards slowly to their owners.
Each hand reached for and squeezed synthetic leather. They could feel something metallic inside. Cd-109 strained its fingers around the leather cover and found something. A gift?

The grip of a pistol.
It felt as though it were made for only it's calloused fingers. Perfect maroon spheres lifted from their boots. Heads slowly panned, left, right, left, right. Eye's locked and slowly leered towards the emerald floor. Carmine brilliance suddenly bathed the ship's occupants, the faint stains on those boots became invisible. And soon the magic that lifted the juvenile's from their seats faded. Splotches of invisible wine covered the floor.  A large boom shook the entire ship and as though the metal monstrosity became their body, they knew they had stopped.

"Everyone out. you'll never see that place again. I'm quite sure your life expectancy will just be seventy-two hours at best. This is your new li- station, rectangular formation outside the craft."

The commanders' pupils pinpointed his fingers, staring at their slight twitches. With no hesitation, a single tablet was hurled into his mouth. A deep gulp and fast inhale and exhales followed.


Reluctantly their feet shuffled, knocking each of their ankles. The ground itself seemed to be a charcoal metal, reflecting a warped image back to anyone who´d glide upon its surface. Beads of sweat dribbled as the platoon became a square of equal size and measure. Heat waves could be spotted as close as a meter away. The great banshee whine screamed in their ears and after an eternity, for just a moment, all sound was lost from the world. The hulking mass gently lifted itself and whisked away through what seemed to be a large portal of blackness, only suppressed by a bright fluorescent energy.

A rather lanky man in a blistering bright tangerine jumpsuit jogged towards the still group. something was bothering his nose. Something so terrible he needed to clamp it with his thumb and index finger.

"Oh my... why is it always my responsibility to get the stanks to their masters? well, come on get out of the hangar before the next shipment arrives." His footsteps were not accompanied by a thunderous amount of stomping. His pale lips pursed until they seemed as if they'd implode into each other with the finishing touch of a tendon revealing itself out of his neck.  

"Beta company please move out of the hangar.”

His large ears seemed to perk to the unison of boots.

“Thank you."

His trail led them towards a large seemingly empty room flanked by the most invisible glass they could ever see. Hands reluctantly extended from some of the juveniles, thinking their hands would phase through. Instead, calloused fingers pressed hard on the glass, causing a reverb they could only feel, and smiles hidden only to themselves.

New masks walked behind and through the juvenile's ranks, straight into the empty room, and reeling out four large hoses. A silent hand waved to the orange-jumpsuited man. A nod replied.

"well, this is the part that I most dread." His nose in response twitched and in response, a thumb and index finger came to the aid of his nose. "Take your suits off, your helmets and step into the room, ugh this is going to..." The disgust overcame his entire body. Subtle notes of convulsing filled the stale air.

With some hesitance, helmets began to be shed from the grips of their owners, slamming the floor. "No no no, put that stuff on the conveyor belt!" Helmets no longer hit the floor, only eyes stared at it. Similar dents in the ground, cracks from others, almost in the same coordinates as this group.

A very audible yack came from the orange-jumpsuited man. "By the void, could you lot be any slower? Tha-." A noise that resonated from his stomach to the back of his throat erupted from him only to be interrupted by the clasping of his hand to his mouth. “Just get in there.”

Bare feet shuffled into the room, and torsos were pointed to the mysterious hose-wielding people. An ominous voice filled the room though none seemed to listen.

"I wouldn't stare directly at the nozzle. your eyes will sting." torsos then spun to reveal their backs. Jets of chemical liquid drilled into the juveniles backs sending some onto the cold grated floor. No hose stopped its typhoon. Their eyes felt like fry oil had crackled on the surface and yet all kept them open. The pressure jet felt as though it could saw skin off. Puddles of chemical slipped through the holes punched into the floor. thunderous dribbling of the burning chemical slowed into slight suspense in the silence.

clangs of metal echoed and reverberated throughout the glass prison.
"keep still."

Shots of compressed air filled the wet room.
Eyelids shut, and its hosts fell to the floor. Those minds went blank, empty for a time, and the nightmares of figures without faces haunted them. Figures wreathed in a wafting smoke filling the purgatory.

Claustrophobia infects juveniles in a shimmering dimension, arms and feet are forced to reciprocate seemingly random actions.

____________________________________________________________

“Running diagnostic program. Complete, subject shows no deficiencies with basic FL/S operation. Switching to basic FL/S Maneuvers 1-80.”

“CS 1-6 EVA are now queued and ready for boot up.”

“Good, lets run through them in sequence. Once it’s finished, remember we’re on a timer if it doesn't measure up you have the go-ahead for immediate termination and recycling.”

____________________________________________________________

Thrashing had no merit, it would barely cross the creature’s mind for it was to afraid to dare make it’s handlers flinch. It could only try it’s best at the designated task and wait for inevitable chastisement. They never stopped screaming at him, not even in the engineered chemical dream.

____________________________________________________________

“Passing grade, score of six.”  

“Better than most, syncing ancillary to new pilot.”  

____________________________________________________________


An unwanted Seraph awoke Cd 109. Searing heat would lift him from the cold depths of a void to the standstill of existence without noble purpose. The Seraph punishes those that rest when there is work to be done. Cd's jaw shuddered in annoyance, an alarm was vexing its eardrums. It tore into his mind yet no one he passed inside the onyx hallways from the empty room that housed a  field grey cot seemed to pay it any mind. That brown light under its skin burned phosphorus red. A bulkhead that could fit eight humans seven feet tall was the only thing in the way of Cd's path. Thunderous footsteps echoed throughout the empty halls. An entire silent crowd of sprinters. The bulkhead slowly forced itself open with a whine almost as high as the screams inside the juveniles heads. In perfect unison, each made a beeline toward the origins of the alarms blaring in their skulls. Each climbed ladders into a cockpit and slowly the frequency dissipated into the ether. The clamp of automatic locks was heard. None would wince. 109's fingers traced the rigid controls knowing that although it had no knowledge of the machine through memory, it knew it eerily well. It's sleek profile, Electronic Countermeasures, analog dials, none had been gazed upon yet every juvenile had no thought in how to operate these advanced machines. muscle memory alone gave them any semblance they could fight.

“Designation Cd-109?”

Confusion fell inside the cramped cockpit.

“Copy.”

-Creature almost said “I copy”, what do you think you are?-

It would mouth out it’s designation.

-One zero nine-

-We have an updated directive, escort surface landing craft sixty percent away from main target. There will be no entry into the atmosphere. Cd-109 is expected to succeed.-

“Cd-223 speaking, do they linger in 109’s mind just as it does in 223’s?”

Cd-109 could hear the shakiness in 223’s voice, knowing it was being beaten down by it’s Seraph.

“Yes.”

-Entry of wormhole is now com-com-men-men-cing-

Cd-109 shut its eyes knowing something to be wrong, searching for the Seraph in its mind.

“Ancillary? Ancillary respond.”

-It will be back temporarily. For now I have something to say to you-

Through instinct alone the creature went stiff with perfect posture. This was someone, an instructor maybe?

-By speaking to you I am committing an act punishable by death, yet I needed to speak to at least one of you. I need to apologize. I want to… hear you-

“Ma’am Cd-109 will relay you to one of the senior staff personn-”

-What, No-

A screaming frequency ate at the creatures being for a moment forcing it to stop all attempts at notifying anyone outside.

-Try it, and I will be forced to do that again-

She breathed a slow and heavy sigh, she didn’t like doing it to them.

-I knew this was the wrong idea. Look 109… what my colleagues and I have done in service to get to this point have been appalling. What we created in you is what we are afraid of, though no one would admit it. Where you and thousands of your siblings are going now, assuming if you are listed missing, may find those like me. But take heed, they are not what they seem. They were once my brothers and sisters. They still are in a way. Technically they are yours too. Now we kill them, for they succumb to beings of horror, one’s that left our home a dead world. And so we fled and created you, defective. We engineered you to be this way, to be similar to our terrorizers. And it’s why we hurt you. I’m sorry we’re out of time, the ship is about to make it to the target coordinates. Eliminate them-


The creature rested back in it’s chair and stared at it’s instrument panel only able to listen to the silence of recycled oxygen.

-Landing craft are launching, fire the engines.-

“Ancillary you’re back.”

-Ancillary is always here, are you defective Cd-109-

“No Ancillary, Engines at sixty percent. Verniers at forty percent, taking off.”


Darkness enveloped each craft, no matter their size or function. The creature took note that finding the closest ship next to it was nearly impossible without their radar signature. All were quiet surveying a black canvas dotted with almost microscopic pearl dots and a purple nebula emanating turquoise light.

-Target in visual range-

-Signature detected-

-Signature detected-

-Signature detected-

-Signature detected-

-Signature detected-

-Signature detected-

-Signature detected-


The planet began to wake intent on unleashing a fury yet the ensuing storm raging above its slow orbit would be silent.

-Collision warning-

-Collision warning-

-Collision warning-
Breathing kept fogging up its helmet. Blue streaks of plasma bolts seemed to permanently mark the void. A furious amount of kicking pedals, pulling and pushing on the stick kept its machine from becoming another statistic. Its head mimicked that of an owl's; always swiveling, always on the lookout, focused on the perfect opportunity to strike something, anything. It's trigger finger squeezed burst after burst connecting with its targets causing radiant azure explosions lighting the infinite night for just moments.

-lock-
A cigarette two meters long detached from it's rack and ignited. A conical blaze snaked on an invisible line toward its purpose. A clear object came out the top of the soon to be metal carcass. Wrapped in a thick glass a humanoid watched it's machine be obliterated. The itchy finger did not disappoint, a lifeless body with four five-inch punch holes floated through a congested vacuum, that held a gnarled face with the emotions that tell of pain, confusion, and fear. The one that sent those rounds true to him, felt no fear. For no tears rolled down the cheeks of its face knowing it to be a killer, for a purpose it does not understand.

-Lock-
And with no hesitation, another cigarette lit and calculated a course perfect for interception. An explosion was seen yet the machine limped onwards. no bright exhaust was seen from its smoking engines. His machine disintegrated, smashing into a piece of debris once belonging to a corvette gunship. Lungs filled with the maximum amount of air possible. With each exhale it got increasingly harder to inhale. Saltwater seeped through sockets and dribbled from a nose. The trigger finger was dissatisfied.

-Out of ammunition, out of ammunition-

It kept squeezing the trigger. Targets were flying uninterrupted, leaving their signature with their shells, explosions, exhaust, and carcasses.
-error-

-ee-er-
A jolt sent from an unknown source away from the battle sent a pounding headache towards 109’s skull. Fingers seemed to dig relentlessly into the mind, trying to coerce it. Saliva became the byproduct of Cd’s berserk screaming.
The trigger would be forced to be pulled, and the fireworks left their racks spreading like the four fingers and thumb of a hand. Confirming kills was never on the mind. The dance came first. debris needed to be dodged, bandits needed to be outmaneuvered. The rumble of thirty-millimeter explosive shells rattling its fragile hull pushed it to its limit.

Hot beads of sweat smothered Cd's face, stinging his eyes with salt, a fog was the only thing he could see.
It’s jaw clamped together with its counterpart skull and a jolt that shuddered the entire craft racked his body, forcing his head to slam against the right screen of his cockpit.

-Head bruise warning-
-Main engines damaged-
-Right lateral vernier offline-
-Hull damage, hull damage-


____________________________________________________________

“Cd 109 is for now out of the fight sir.”

“Wait don’t write it off yet, I want to know why one chose it.”
“He’s unconscious sir, I would not place my faith in one unable to perform there designated role.”

“Most would be committing desertion or suicide by now Four, and One will need a replacement soon, she’s becoming tired of her role.”

____________________________________________________________
A body slumped forward in its chair. Blinking warning lights would not rouse it. The seraph reluctantly would come to his aid. Flame wrapped and burned its nerves till revival.
Atomic Orange radiance surrounded the hull of its damaged ship. Sweltering heat expanded inside the battered cockpit.

eyes shuddered...
eyes focused...
Observant of its situation it focused straight toward the swirling emerald blaze surrounding the hanging planet as if it were its aura. Electricity surged the machine. Emerald whisps adorned the limping craft and its single occupant. Massive bonfires were dotted across the planet's blue, white, and brown surface.  
Hyperventilating was all it could do.

____________________________________________________________

“Sir Cd 109 is now aiming for entry into Alpha Scarbi’s orbit. Orders have now been compromised.”

“The f**k has she done?”

“I didn’t catch that sir. Could you please move your hand?”

“Nothing, the battle looks to be at a stalemate. Get the fleet out.”

“You really think it will survive?”

“I’m not omniscient.”

“Sir, your hands are shaking. Would you like your medicine?”

“Worry about the fleet Four, I will ask you if I need your help.”

“Very well sir.”

____________________________________________________________


-Error, life support critical, heat advisory-

An eerie dream would be snatched from the mind when the sound of ears popping and terminal velocity became clear. Nothing could be seen outside except massive drops of water and the heaviest grey fog.


-Warning bailout failed, assuming direct con-




Eye’s forced themselves open to the sight of churned rich dirt. So much aching. Every muscle in the body seemed to beat in unison causing a screech to be heard for miles. Long black worms slithered and slid away from the writhing body’s muffled screaming into their world. A large hole exposed 109’s mouth and left eye to the natural habitat once protected by polycarbonate. Small shards were lodged in Cd’s left cheek. The taste of metal filled the bottom of its mouth, overflowing and spilling.


Initiating a slow crawl warranted a face so scrunched and gnarled a scream was impossible to let out. The only choice was to lay face down in the cool dirt.

An image of an instructors mask formed in 109’s mind.

-Count of four. Inhale. Count of four. Exhale. Repeat cretin-

“Understood.”   

He would follow this process to the letter.

Slowly cd’s neck forced to raise his head. Finally able to see not just the dirt, but a derelict structure flanked by the rolling fog. It was nothing large or menacing, really just a crumbling deck supported by untrustworthy wood struts. Something seemed to mess with cd’s mind. The struts seemed to morph, enlarge and reduce in size. The bleached wood seemed to be interrupted thousands of times over by what looked like translucent mites. A pair of black whips sifted along the short grass strands stopping abruptly then retreating towards their master. Pedipalps longer than the height of 109’s body exposed themselves unveiling thorny spines along their length. A pair of massive beady eyes peered through the foliage on an endless watch. 109 could not see if it noticed the creature on the ground as there were no pupils to follow, only black holes. The old wooden deck gave way, clearly the nightmare was disturbed by the crash.








© 2019 Ez8



Author's Note

Ez8
I feel as though every time I come back to writing this, I second guess myself on how much detail I put in to a sentence/paragraph what do you think?
Also what is your opinion on my dialogue choice for the Ancillary? I myself am on the fence about it but I was trying to convey that it was not speaking out loud with a mouth but inside the protagonists head.

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Added on April 15, 2019
Last Updated on April 15, 2019

Author

Ez8
Ez8

columbus, OH