Written & Drawn By
The Last Days of the TWILIGHT FORCE Mission, November 26, Day 330:
Kraxzys: “Your battle is over, Earthling.”
The Coral Ostman: “I am the Coral Ostman, commander supreme of the Red Vikings – and since it appears I am still alive, how can the battle be over?”
Kraxzys: “You stand alone. Your people are dead and your machines rendered harmless. Would you prefer to remain alive in order to represent your tangent in the Hywon preservation archives?”
The Coral Ostman: “I would prefer to grasp your throat and strangle the smug right out of you.”
Kraxzys: “I will preserve you. A most tenacious specimen. But now I must get on with my experiments on your environment.”
The Coral Ostman: “Fight me, you bastard! What – ? What experiments? On what environment?”
Kraxzys: “This planet may be special to you, but it’s only one of billions like it across the cosmos. Every so often we’re allowed to set one of them aside for tampering, to discover new things.”
The Coral Ostman: “And what do you hope to find out about my world?”
Kraxzys: “How long will it take all life on Earth to end with the elimination of death?”
The Coral Ostman: “That – doesn’t make sense. And you can’t eliminate death – can you?”
Kraxzys: “Only the side-effects. But the side-effects are what define death. Lack of movement. No reactions. We can eliminate those with sonic stimulation vibrated across and throughout the planet.”
The Coral Ostman: “You mean you keep dead bodies moving? You’re talking about making zombies?”
Kraxzys: “Yes, the dead will keep moving and infecting more living until all are dead.”
The Coral Ostman: “Zombies? They can handle zombies!”
Kraxzys: “This will apply to every species on your world; every plant, fungus, insect and animal. Yours will become a zombie planet.”
November 27, Day 331: Adapting To Resonant Solar System
Deva Ichnida barely eluded Stonemaster after Manplanet destroyed Subtropolis. But neither of the oddly powerful predators was able to track her once she submerged into a forest of seaweed.
She longed for peace. Her life since this mission started was one challenge after another. It was only supposed to be for a week. How could she have guessed that her past would be wiped out forever? That she’d never go home again?
How could this place ever become home? It reeked with primitive hostility. The sea near the shore had a peculiar flavor. It was almost as if these people were using the ocean as a garbage dump. They didn’t even compress their waste into useful insulation!
A disturbance on the surface! A bullet spun by Ichnida’s face rippling the water.
A man rode the surface on a device Ichnida had seen used by the oceanic Vikings. It was a board the size of a ski with a central pole supporting a maneuverable bow. Somehow the material of the bow was able to catch enough wind to propel the ski at fantastic speeds. They called the ride a “sail bow”.
A motorized drone was in pursuit.
Deva reasoned that the rider must be a survivor of Subtropolis, a Red Viking.
When she rose above the sea diving up for a better look, the rider recognized her and cried out:
“Wait! I’ve followed you! Wait!”
“It’s the only reason I’m still alive!”
The next bullet nearly corrected that statement. With the drone ship fixed obsessively on her stalker, Ichnida turned and approached it from below, raising it high and flipping it over, sending it to the bottom.
She caught up to her stalker.
“Thank Odin,” he said. “I love you.”
November 28, Day 332: Adapting To Resonant Solar System
Sadness paralyzed her. Loss drained her.
Deva had wanted to die, so scared. The Ichnida family and home were gone. She had nothing to go back to.
Her home was Nautilus, the 176th state. She grew up in the capital, Atcifia. She wanted to end the savage cycle of interplanetary adversity and inter-species prejudice and grow into a new way, not die in a strange place with strangers while her family and friends faced devastation without her.
So many times on this journey she thought her death had come.
Even though her survival pod had contained dozens of polymarbles with enough supplies to last a hundred years, all gifts brought to her symbolically for her voyage from every nook of Atcifia and Nautilus, she had abandoned all of it. Why exist forever in the middle of nothingness?
But then forever ended.
Now she was alone in an unknown ocean. To Deva Ichnida, water is sacred. Living within it is an intimate experience. Her school’s motto was, “Through water we touch all others and they us.” But in these currents she sensed no others like herself. Was there any hope at all that she might find some form of Atcifia on this world? It didn’t taste like it so far.
Then she remembered what the Scale Man told her back when she encountered that intergalactic council.
“We have encountered aliens who travel from world to world through dimensional crossroads that exist only deep in water,” said the Scale Man. “Water has all the uncanny properties, as you may well be aware.”
Funny she should remember him at such a lonely moment. But why should she smell him? He’d have to be within a mile. He seemed even closer…
And there he was!
November 29, Day 333: Adapting To Resonant Solar System
Pretyman was drawn to this house in a Texas nowhere.
Along the way she met others heading the same direction. That’s when she heard the rumors: Dozens of women had been missing in this area. So many women had disappeared that law enforcement assumed there must be at least three to six perpetrators. They didn’t know if the women were dead or alive.
They were alive, here and serving one very weird man.
Among Pretyman’s polymarble of tricks was a device for analyzing cultural composition that identified this man with the recently encountered aliens called the Hywon Precinctorate.
Pretyman’s tool surmised that this was a bio-synthesized agent designed after intimate study of several human species under various laboratory conditions. He had been dropped on Earth to infest humanity with modified DNA. Within seven generations there will be no stopping mankind’s transformation into Homo Hywon, compatible cousins to the Precinctorate Principal.
Brewed in an extraterrestrial lab, this humanoid male’s endocrine system was a thousand times more potent than a human’s. He released pheromones permeating a growing radius until he appeared as the most attractive male any female had ever encountered. Thus he looked, smelled, tasted, felt and sounded different to every woman. The same pheromones also pacified local males by deploying dominant hormonal emissions.
Women who came first said he impregnated on first intercourse regardless of the period. These alien sperm remained alive and powerful for five weeks once injected.
The Hywon Man had attracted all kinds of women from the surrounding vicinity including elderly, children and lesbians. Once a woman had been with Hywon Man, no human –or appliance- could completely satisfy her again. Hywon Man’s powers increased every time he had intercourse with a new woman.
And Pretyman was next.
November 30, Day 334: Adapting To Resonant Solar System
Yesterday Pretyman murdered the Hywon Man.
He was about to rape her. She was compelled to let him. But that wasn’t true compliance and she still knew it. So she let herself draw her guns and fire. But six rounds of Buddha bullets failed to stop him. He should have dropped all aggression by the third, maximum!
Aggression? Was that it? Pretyman realized that Hywon Man wasn’t aggressive at all. He was passively compelling, drawing women irresistibly with super-efficient pheromones.
The Hywon Man mounted Pretyman.
She used her guns to crack his skull. Shortly after, the hundreds of women who’d descended on this ghost town to serve the alien procreation experiment were gone, the spell broken. Pretyman had readouts that showed a few of them to be pregnant. Who knew how many actually were?
Today Pretyman woke up to regret spending the night. At dawn a Hywon shuttle landed in the dusty street.
“Your arrival has been noted,” announced an odd, crackly voice in a weird accent, just outside the window of the abandoned store where Pretyman spent the night. “Welcome to our experiment.”
Pretyman peered through a crack in the curtain to see a huge wolf walking on its hind legs toward her, snarling and growling angrily.
A Buddha bullet turned it into a whimpering puppy, at least in behavior if not appearance.
But coming down the street from behind him were three naked women, running as fast as they could, carrying some kind of jewels in each fist. They fast approached Pretyman. Did they need help? Were they victims?
She waited too long. The “jewels” were handles of daggers! The first to reach Pretyman swung to slice her!
Pretyman brought her hidden Buddha grenade into view and – surrounded by hostiles – slammed it to the ground!
The smoke blast cloud that engulfed them stopped all hostility. Even Pretyman’s.
December 1, Day 335: Adapting To Resonant Solar System
Kraxzys: “They tell me his transformation is settling, possibly near completion. I’m being encouraged by my peers to destroy him.”
Yorgle: “By all of them?”
Kraxzys: “By many. They fear the unknown.”
Yorgle: “How is that possible?”
Kraxzys: “They’re afraid of what they don’t understand.”
Yorgle: “They don’t understand that this alien is undergoing artificial evolution induced by a different alien’s program? And that the process is further influenced by an earlier intrusion into the alien’s system by artificial intelligence? I can explain it to them.”
Kraxzys: “They don’t understand what might happen once the process completes. Could this infection spread to other species? What is the purpose of the transformation? Those things and many more, all unknown.”
Yorgle: “Kraxzys, my staff has determined that the only way to contract this condition is from within the environment where Flamear contracted it.”
Kraxzys: “Ah! Well then -“
Yorgle: “As to the purpose? The program appears to perpetuate and maintain the system it inhabits. Flamear has been redesigned to keep on going almost no matter what. He’s been given a kind of super immune system that will actually upgrade his responses to external threats even as it counters present threats.”
Kraxzys: “Is he vulnerable now?”
Yorgle: “Apparently. But who knows? And if the process is to reach fruition, we cannot test his vulnerability – can we?”
Kraxzys: “I will test it if I suspect you aren’t confident in your staff. We don’t take chances with the Hywon Precinctorate, Yorgle. Satisfying curiosity is not enough.”
Yorgle: “It is enough to make me stun you if you interfere.”
Kraxzys: “You – what?”
Yorgle: “This is a unique opportunity to learn. Isn’t that what Hywons are all about, Kraxzys?”
Kraxzys: “Learning is only useful if it serves the greater good, Yorgle…So…”
Yorgle: “He’s awake!”
December 2, Day 336: Adapting To Resonant Solar System
Flamear destroyed the Hywon compound where, despite their intense observations, his genetic makeup was still mysterious.
Transformed thoughts whirlpooled as Flamear realized his new form.
He was unreal. A thing. And yet… there was a snake in him… a hawk… a dolphin, a tiger, a ram… and a spider. So real. And now, each one enhanced.
He once swore to himself, “I will never stop trying to get home”.
Flamear fled the compound by leaping, rolling, flipping, falling faster, farther and longer than any efforts to stop him. He was a machine of the highest performance levels, plagued by intrusive memories…
…DOD doesn’t know what happened to me. Can’t say goodbye to loved ones in Lagrange.
Once we’re out of the Entropy Zone, Nopoin chemically alters my brain.
Mrs Ichnida and I go to the genhum and the humangen to ask if they will join in our mutiny.
Mrs Ichnida wants to have sex…
Ichnida: “I’m horny!”
Flamear: “You would not survive.”
I’m navigator. Top astrophysiologist, M.I.T. Class of ’71. And I have no idea…
We are accelerating at an unknown speed. We cannot stop. We cannot slow down. We can only steer. I wish I had Mister Cresp to help. Strange he was, but we worked well together.
I wish I didn’t have to die. I wish no one had to die.
Except Pretyman? I linger over her nakedness, she’s defiant, but a telltale odor tells me to attack…
Attack? Or… no. I… Flamear… loved her? Love her?
Flamear had one more animal in his make-up. He still felt it crawling through him. His brain tingled and itched from the tracks of those mechanical worms, and what they made him do -!
That was the human part of him.
END week 48