The grass and torn branches made wet sounds against the worn military boots as the gray man slowly and methodically made his way down the narrow path.
Animal smells hung in the early twilight mist around him pulling at memories of earlier, happier times. Memories so dulled down from years of neglect that their empty husks, as dry and withered as the broken branches under his feet, hardly registered as he focused on the rusted wire fence slowly coming into focus ahead.
His Bahco pliers made small sounds in the still air as he carefully cut the fence across the bottom, squeezed under it, and pulled leaves and branches back to cover his work.
The location was as deserted as could be found from three hours of painstakingly going over illegal print-outs of border patrol reports, but there was no reason to challenge fate. He was too old, and too experienced with the havoc momentary lapses could wreck on the best of plans, to challenge fate more than necessary.
As he got up on the other side and started pulling his way up the hill through the dense brush on the other side, he picked up speed. It had taken six long months to get here, but he was so close now he could almost smell it in the air.
Somewhere ahead, in the sleepy innocence of the kingdom ahead of him, he felt it. Felt the scent of his prey. The grey man pulled at the heavy backpack and carefully made his way down the trail.
The Minotaur smiled as the cold comfortable feeling of steel entered his mind. The momentary confusion as adapted neurons switched to hypermode and took control of the ships networks was nauseus to most, but to him the nausea had long since worn off and he welcomed the rare familiarity.
The panicked voices coming over the local media box disappeared and was replaced with a steady hum as his artificial senses disassembled the noise in the RF bands filtering out unnecessary gibberish and leaving him with an amalgamation of information that told him the natives had seen what was starting to happen above their heads.
Like a shot fired from a bullet the heavy Asterius fighter tore out through the eight floors of the building as smoothly as a dog shaking off water, and rose into the cold winter air trailing debris and a slowly spreading dustcloud over the rising panic below.
In the quiet red hum of the rising ship, the Minotaur’s mind had left them behind as definitively as the ship leaving the ground. He had more important things to consider. The visitors were three level 2 scouts and a heavily armored brig whose active scanners was quickly deep-frying all the primitive electronicss on the exposed hemisphere below, but the ships didn’t worry him.
What worried him was how quickly they had found him here and the fact that they had had two minutes to set up some sort of surprise for him to keep him here until reinforcements could arrive.
The fireball of superheated air pushed before him dissipated as he catapulted out of the atmosphere. The ship shivered as it produced and shook off the first batch of 2500 drones that spread around him at four clicks per second and assembled into packs awaiting his commands.
The Mintotaur looked at the ships converging on him like a pack of hungry dogs feeling a fierce battlecry rising out of him and through the communication bands to the oncomming ships. The wait was over. He felt himself smile again.
Walking through desolate streets dragging the ragged shirt through the melted snow behind him, the Minotaur didn’t think too much about the last few weeks. Things had started nasty and turned steadily worse, but what the hell was he to do? That’s how things always went. No reason to reminisce.
His hand was dripping blood down the pantsleg of his torn but expensive suit, and he absentmindedly wiped it on the naked skin of his back as he passed an expensive window overflowing with bright colors and computer-enhanced bodies.
From behind bullet-proof glass lobotomized plastic smiles mocked him with their serenity, and he couldn’t help smile himself at the irony of it all. Maybe if he’d seen it earlier or approached it differently. Or maybe he’d just read the whole situation wrong from the beginning and there wasn’t actually anything he could have done.
Damn. There went his mind again. Not thinking was a firm belief dithering quickly into a shaky promise, and from there a dark road lay ahead that would have him muttering to himself in the gutter before daybreak if he didn’t shut it down.
He stopped at the harbor edge watching his ragged breath hang in the air before him. The sweat that had rolled from his chest in a steady stream as he had let himself loose, had long since steamed off him in the freezing air and he could suddenly feel the freezing cold shutting down his nerves, making him drowsy as he came off his adrenaline high.
He floundered and sat down on the dirty bench that had seen so clean in the bright sunshine of a few weeks before. Nothing was ever what it seemed. All he could do now was wait.
As mindships hurtling through space on the tailwind of reality with only the dim haze of our five senses to guide us. As spirits forever changing with the twists and turns of the flummoxing shadows on metaphorical cavewalls. As creatures bound by semi-fixed views of the world, living in a state of near-constant surprise at the things thrown our way. As all of this we still somehow manage to get together on a friday night, drink some beers, shoot off some semi-deep observations about the world, and have fun… ain’t that grand.
My first writing project went a little off track when I started spending time on producing music, and forgot how to keep track of my characters:
After three years of Dramaturgy, Screen-writing, and Script Editing you’d think I’d know better, but it was fun to let loose a bit