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Aberrant: 200X - [Gods of War] Intro: Reign of Blood [Mature] [Fin]

z-The Morrigan

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May 11, 2011, 5:51 p.m., remote village in the Central Congo

The place had no name. Roughly seven hundred people called it home but beyond that, it wasn’t even worthy of a dot on the map. It had garnered interest not for its amenities, but for the men hiding in it. Even as Einherjar was destroying an army with his weather phenomenon, this village was marked for death. Unlike Einherjar’s people, they had no warning of their demise.

The Congolese Freedom Front had set up a cell in the village. Had Anasi’s men never become aware of this fact, they likely would have been left alone indefinitely. There was no strategic value to the village’s location, nor were there minerals that would enhance Anasi’s coffers. All it had was that cell but that was enough.

Vyse casually rotated his neck, wishing Kayembe would sit down and relax. “What is taking so long?” the general huffed, his rural roots showing in his French.

The Dutchman shrugged slightly and answered in the same language. “The pilot has to come in right. If she makes a mistake, the package will land in the wrong spot. There will be a fee to pick it up and make another run. It will delay the strike by at least a day, and that will be another fee.” While it wouldn’t bother Vyse to charge and collect those fees, it would be a pain to collect them. He’d rather the client shut the hell up and let him do his job right.

“Sir, he’s on radar,” Helms reported. The technician was Australian, a quiet, hard-working man. He also knew how to keep his mouth shut, a trait that Vyse appreciated. As if to confirm Helms’s report, a second later the radio hissed with static.

“Home Base, this is Iron Butterfly, over,” the confident feminine voice announced. “Beginning run, over.” In the background, Vyse heard the plane’s engines roar louder.

“Iron Butterfly, we read, over,” Helms replied. “We show the skies are clear.”

“Home Base, thanks for the weather update. Dropping to four hundred feet and increasing speed.” Vyse had possessed many doubts about hiring a woman for such a nerve-wracking job, but he had never regretted it. Brittany Miner was an exceptional pilot, trained by DeVries as support staff. She’d still be with DeVries, had she not had the misfortune to catch the eye of one of the Elites. Not only had she had the insolence to turn him down, she’d also pissed off the female Elite who wanted him. Miner hadn’t lasted another year before being drummed out. She was bitter about it, a bitterness that Vyse had capitalized upon eagerly.

A moment later, Helms said, “And now she’s on the drone.” The large screen at the front of the room went from blue to a grainy grayscale image from overhead. At the right side of the screen, a tiny airplane nosed onto the image, traveling across the shot.

“Home Base, beginning drop,” Miner reported. Vyse tensed; on the screen, the plane only appeared to slow and shorten, distorted by their overhead view. Bursts of light blossomed on the screen as the members of the CFF responded to the plane buzzing them. Sweat rose on Vyse’s face as he watched the dangerous descent. Part of him was mentally calculating the cost of replacing Miner and the plane; the rest of him was simply praying just because he could never replace the contents of the plane.

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Four days ago, May 7, 2011, Private game reserve in Zambia

“You nervous?” Miner was staring at Ford. The pilot’s gaze was like a weight on the side of his head as Ford waited for confirmation from the ground team.

“I wasn’t, until you started to distract me with inane questions,” he told the cute brunette irritably.

Miner smirked. “Come on, Ford, surely someone with a medical degree can multitask a little.”

“Look, what are you doing here?” he asked, waving his hand at a fly that had found a way through the netting of the canopy-tent. “Do you see a cockpit or airplane joystick here?”

“Well, there’s a joystick here in theory,” she purred.

Ford didn’t fall for it for a moment. “Go hit up Carl. I hear he’ll fuck anything.”

“Funny,” Miner sneered, getting truly angry at him. Instead of leaving, however, she said, “I prefer not to bed rapists.”

Ford looked at her for the first time since she walked into the tent. “Most people don’t care about that,” he told her. “Not here, in this place. It makes you forget how to be human, I think.”

“Why, because you have?” Miner asked. “Because you’ve drugged a little girl into the Stone Age so she’ll fight for Vyse?”

Ford felt that old wash of guilt, the one that drove him into the bottle every night. “You fly for him. You’ll be dropping her into the war zone. What does that say about you?”

“The difference between you and me, Ford, is that I don’t care about what you’ve done to the girl,” Miner said. “I think more highly of my body than to sully it with someone who has to force a woman to give it to him.” She smirked at him. “You thought it was a moral issue. It’s not. I mean, not for me.”

“So I understand,” Ford said, his voice tight. “Now, get the hell out of here. I have work to do.” He listened to her leave, the layers of netting hissing as they fell shut. It was only when he heard that sound that he relaxed, returning his focus to the program in front of him.

Fate rewarded him a moment later when Vyse radioed to demand, “Ford, what are the results?”

Ford sighed and grabbed the radio. Keying the mic, he said, “So far the tracking program has kept track of her. The ground team should release her now, see if we can recover her after the sedative takes effect.”

“Are you sure you’re tracking her?”

“Yes, the readings from her implant matches the GPS upload from the truck,” Ford assured his boss. “We’re getting two separate readings, clear as bells. I say release her.” Part of him hoped she’d escape; part of him didn’t.

A second later, Vyse gave the order. “Here we go,” Ford muttered softly, licking his lips. The dot that was his patient shot across the screen with such speed that only a computer could have kept track. Ford’s stomach dropped. She was so fast. She was like some kind of force of nature, something awesome and fearful. She was free, she deserved to be free-

The dot swerved ninety degrees at the black line. She’d found the fence. Ford watched, wide-eyed, captivated by her speed. God, how did she get so fast? She’d never been given her head like this; she must have always had it. The dot swerved again as she came to a corner. “Ford?” Vyse’s voice finally penetrated his amazement. He snatched up the radio and reported, “She’s following the fence.”

“Put her down. I can’t risk her getting lose,” Vyse ordered.

Ford hesitated. If he didn’t, would she get out? Would she truly be free?

Someone cleared their throat behind him. Turning, Ford stared at Carl. The man was waiting with one hand holding the wrist of his other arm. Carl smiled, his eyes knowing. Ford turned back to the system and triggered the sedative. The dot stilled abruptly. “She’s stopped,” he told Vyse.

“Good, take the chopper and pick her up,” Vyse replied.

“We’re warmed up,” Carl told him. He was still smiling, the bastard, and Ford wondered how long he’d been there.

“Let’s go then,” Ford snapped, snatching up the tracker and heading for the door. Get this the fuck over with.

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Present day

Vyse watched tensely as the plane made its dive. He could see little of its progress, but Helms was murmuring updates. After three minutes, Helms spoke louder, “Vyse, she’s making the drop… now.” A flick of the joystick brought the dropping box into focus on the drone’s camera.

Vyse ground his teeth. “The plane,” he asked without asking.

“She’s on the rise and should be safe soon,” Helms reported. “The package… it’s on target! She dropped it right in the middle of the village.”

“Make sure that our outer troops are prepared,” Vyse ordered, feeling better now that everyone was in place. “People will be trying to run soon.”

Kayembe smiled. “Your men will save one or two, yes?” He looked much more relaxed as well.

“Of course,” Vyse assured him. “That is the deal.” Kayembe wanted word of what had happened here to spread. Vyse wasn’t entirely opposed to that but he’d never leave an enemy behind. Of course, one couldn’t really consider these peasants to be worthy opponents.

“I only wish that I could be there to see the carnage myself,” the general said, grinning. There was a hard, thirsty gleam in his dark eyes. “It will be beautiful, yes?”

“It will be brutal and violent, just as you asked,” Vyse said, nodding. “My Morrigan will tear your enemies apart. She will leave them dead and bleeding. It will be as cruel and complete as you have requested.” Vyse gave him a wry smile. “Perhaps someday you will see this first-hand.”

Kayembe’s smile disappeared.


The box slammed into the ground, the parachute barely sufficient to arrest its fall after being riddled with bullets. The CFF soldiers didn’t know what was coming down, but they were sure it wasn’t good for them. The metal box repelled the bullets being fired at it and the soldiers stopped before a ricochet caught them.

The men stood in a loose horseshoe in the front of the box, rifles at the ready. “Go open it,” one said to the one next to her.

“You do it,” the man replied.

“Someone has to do it,” a third said, his tone adding, And it isn’t me.

The door popped open. The men tensed. The box was a shadowed interior, utterly dark. Unconsciously, the nearest three leaned forward, eyes narrowing against the contrast in lighting. They were still leaning dangerously forward when two pinpricks of glowing red appeared. They were followed by a low, feral growl.

The goddess of death had arrived on the battlefield.

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One week ago, May 4, 2011, Vyse Elites Complex, Republic of Cameroon

Ford wasn’t sure what was worse: when she watched him or when she didn’t. When she didn’t, she was staring into a corner, her red eyes narrowed to half-moons. Her face would be sad and drawn, or blank. She was almost lifeless, lost in a dreamworld where she was a normal girl and not locked naked in a cage. But when she watched him, she was begging him silently to help. It was clear on her face; she was reaching out to him. She needed him.

She didn’t understand that he was trapped. If he went against Vyse, he’d be dead, simple as that. She didn’t see the cage that surrounded him, locking him in this place just as she was imprisoned. She just stared at him, as if she sensed he was the only person here who felt guilty for what had been done to her.

He was glad she didn’t speak. He wasn’t sure why but she’d never said anything; there was nothing physically wrong with her. He assumed the trauma of the ordeal had rendered her mute. He wished sometimes it had just left nothing behind, because then she wouldn’t stare at him.

“Ford.” Carl’s voice was unwelcome. Ford wasn’t sure why, but he didn’t like the pilot. There was something about him that wasn’t right. “How’s it going?”

“Same shit, different day,” Ford said curtly. A rattle from the Morrigan’s cage pulled his eyes to her. He expected to see her staring at him now but she was watching Carl. Her gaze was intense, her eyes fastened on the big man. The expression on her face was distressing; she seemed afraid of Carl. “Get out.”

“I’m just here to visit little Morgan here,” Carl said, crouching before her cage. The Morrigan bared her teeth at him, making the odd grumbling sounds she sometimes made. “I heard you perfected the berserker formula.”

“Mostly,” Ford replied absently, turning back to his computer. “She still comes out of it a bit too early sometimes.”

“You need her for the next hour?”Carl asked.

Ford turned, blinking and scowling. “What? Why?”

“I was just going to take care of something,” Carl said, rising and pulling the tranq rifle off the desk. As he spoke, he loaded the gun expertly, still talking. “I’ll have her back in time, no worries.”

“No, you can’t just come in here and take my nova away for an hour for something, especially something you have to tranquilize her for,” Ford snapped. He had a bad feeling about this.

“It’s just a bit of fun,” Carl said. “She came from a whorehouse, right?”

Ford saw red. He’d never had that happen before in his life, but for a second, his vision filled with a haze of crimson. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do, but he stalked toward Carl. The pilot had been watching the Morrigan, but the girl saw Ford coming. Her eyes flicked to him and Carl turned, already in motion. The rifle struck Ford in the face; the last thing he saw as he hit the floor was blood running down the Morrigan’s body.


“You wanted to see me?” Vyse stood just inside the door to Ford’s room, the Dutchman’s pale eyes revealing nothing.

“You owe me,” Ford said. His swollen jaw made talking hurt and the strain showed in his voice. “A blow like that can kill.” Ford knew what he was talking about; he did have a medical degree as well as two years of residency. That was part of the reason for his annoyance; he’d had to treat himself after getting clobbered by the butt of a rifle and he was going to use it to his advantage.

Vyse sighed. He looked annoyed but entered the room and took a seat. “You want him fired.”

“Yeah, I do. He could have killed me,” Ford snapped, then winced at the pain radiating up his face.

“I will keep him until I have a replacement,” Vyse agreed. He could get another helicopter pilot with loose morals; Ford knew that he’d be harder to replace which gave him leverage. Ford had developed most of the drug cocktails that made Morri berserk or tractable as needed.

“And the rapes stop now,” Ford growled.

“It does her no harm,” Vyse replied coolly. “She’s a beast, little more.”

Ford had to wait for the rage to subside before he said, “This is for her safety, Vyse. I keep exact records on when and how she’s drugged. If he’s going in and sedating her for rape, then I can’t be sure of doses or times. Medically, I have to demand that he stop dosing her on his own.”

Vyse frowned. “I hadn’t considered that when I gave him permission,” Ford’s boss mused. Ford choked back an angry response. He’d gotten his way; Carl wouldn’t be raping the Morrigan anymore. “Very well, I’ll forbid him from using her for sexual purposes.”

“Any purpose,” Ford insisted. “He doesn’t need to be doing anything to her.”

“Very well,” Vyse sighed. “I will instruct him to leave her alone.”

“Thank you, Vyse, I appreciate your… concessions,” Ford said darkly. I hate this job so much. I have got to get her out of here. But how?

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Present day

“What is she waiting for?” Kayembe growled.

Vyse was wondering the same thing. Should I have Carl drop Ford in the village? She’d tried to attack Carl when he’d struck Ford; she seemed to be emotionally attached to the man. Perhaps putting him in danger-

A blur on the screen allayed his fears. Smirking, Vyse turned to watch Kayembe. The portly general was staring at the image, a mixture of satisfaction and dismay on his features. “I can’t really see,” he grumbled softly.

Vyse closed his eyes before he rolled them in exasperation. “From this angle, I’m afraid that all we’ll see is the effects. She’s very fast,” he added. “The village should be cleared in just an hour or so.”

“We have runners,” Helms reported and Vyse glanced at one of the side screens, where a second drone was tracing those people fleeing the village. These wise ones had empty arms and were just running; the dumb ones would be grabbing things.

Vyse triggered the radio. “Perimeter guards, only let one or two through; gun down the rest.” That should let a few innocents out to spread the word, but prevent any CFF from escaping the slaughter. Everything was going according to plan.


The three were too close. As the echoes of that growl faded, a red spear struck from the darkness. It caught the middle man in his mouth, parting teeth, brain and bone to exit out the back of his head. “Totentanz!” someone screamed and people started to run.

The man on the left turned to flee, only to stop when he saw the slim naked girl. She had mocha skin with dirty, tangled hair. She was still beautiful and he found himself staring at her. Her face curled into a terrifying snarl and blood began to run down her face. His awe turned to horror, but he was so caught by her horrified expression that he failed to see the red sword that came around and slammed into his gut. Such was the force of her blow that her arm sunk in to the elbow.

The other soldiers were torn between running to shooting her. Three of them were shot by comrades as said comrades opened fire on her. The monster just wasn’t there anymore when they fired and instead the bullets found the other men. In seconds, it was all chaos – running, screaming people and that terrible form moving through them like a blood-stained hurricane.

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Two months ago, March 13, 2011, 10:16 p.m., Moundou, Chad

Vyse paused in the doorway of the clinic. It stank of antiseptic, but under all of that was the smell of blood and death. The women in the clinic waiting room shrank away from him, trying not to be seen. He made a point of looking at all of them before stepping through the room and into the back.

He heard them talking before he got there; a man’s voice, American accent clear in the French and easily heard. The woman’s voice was so soft Vyse couldn’t understand her replies. The curtain stirred just before he pulled it back; the woman gasped and cringed while the man turned on him. She was bare from the waist up, her torso covered in unsightly lesions. “You cannot be here,” he snapped, glaring at Vyse with red eyes.

The Dutchman didn’t immediately answer; he took a moment to study the man before him. The man was white; always the first thing noticed in Chad. An American, he was taller than Vyse with dark hair and eyes. There was something about him that would be handsome, but the glaze of intoxication ruined much of that impression. “I have a job offer for you,” Vyse said evenly. “My doctor has recently left us, so I am in need of a new one.”

“I’m not a doctor,” the man said, helping his patient tug her shirt back into place. When she was dressed, she slipped out, leaving the two men alone.

“You lack a piece of paper,” Vyse corrected, “and you are practicing here. Unless I’m mistaken, you were treating her for infected burns.”

The man paused and leaned on the bed, looking annoyed. “So you’ve done some homework,” the man said grudgingly.

“Your name is Harrison Ford Forsheim, you were born in the Philadelphia, you got your undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania and your medical degree at Washington University. Your father is dead, your mother is not and remarried. Your brother is your only sibling and he is serving time in Alabama for-”

“Jesus, alright already,” Ford growled. “I get it. You did some checking on me. So what is this job?”


March 14, 2011, 8:10 a.m., Vyse Elites Complex, Republic of Cameroon

Vyse smirked as Ford stared at the facility. Compared to the shitty clinic that Ford had been working in just yesterday, this place was splendid. The clinic Vyse had built for his elites was top of the line, full of shiny, new equipment. “Alright,” Ford said, attempting to not sound impressed, “I’ve seen the joint, now what do you want me to do here?”

“I want you to help me with a feral nova,” Vyse said bluntly. “She doesn’t speak and acts like an animal. I need her to fight for me.”

“All of this sounds very illegal,” Ford said, working his jaw.

Vyse’s only reply was to tell him how much money Ford would be making; he’d done quite a bit of research to determine a price that would bend the man’s morals. The Dutchman smiled when he saw the look in Ford’s eyes, for Vyse knew when he’d seduced someone.

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Present day

Rage. Roaring red. Mindless fury.

The Morrigan screamed as she killed, her blood-weapons awash in real blood, not her quantum creation. She moved faster than the baselines could follow, but the effects of her passing rose behind her in a crimson spray of pain and suffering.

And as she raged, she wept.

To one who could have seen something as fast as her, they would have only seen the blood that seeped from her pores like a satanic sweat. They wouldn’t have seen the crying girl, who saw what she did and was helpless to stop it. Sobbing, she sank ever further into herself, dying a little more with each slice of her own blades. She would have chosen to scream then, but there were no words, only an unholy screech of agony.

She cut, sliced and tore. Men fell like trees; children like reaped wheat. But this harvest bled and screamed, cried and begged. Mothers shielded their children; brothers tried to buy time for their sisters to flee. Their deaths sometimes bought the little girls as many as five steps but usually the balance of a life was measure in less than two little footfalls.

She wasn’t deaf to it but she was caught in her own maelstrom of wrath. The drugs melded with her nova physiology to create a siren song of bloodlust, unavoidable and undeniable. The Morrigan ran down another man, her spear sinking into his shoulder blades, pinning him to the ground. She yanked the spear free with as much effort as swatting away a malignant butterfly, leaving his body on the ground like so many others. His death was different in one way; he was the last person she could see.

For a moment, it seemed as if the rage might subside. From far away, she heard strange metallic clattering. Baring her teeth, she followed the sound.


“Smart!” Carl shouted over the radio of the chopper.

“What?” Ford shouted. He had only eyes for the blood-smeared red shape that sliced open the battlefield, leaving a path of bloody mud behind her.

Carl removed a hand from the yolk to point at the men huddled behind a fortification, firing on the ring of men holding them in the kill box. “They’re trying to escape. Might’ve worked, if she wasn’t so fast.” He pointed again at the streak of red blazing toward their position.

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Six months ago, November 25, 2010, Vyse Elites Complex, Republic of Cameroon

Thanksgiving Day in the United States

“What do you have for me today?” Vyse asked, eyeing Elijah. He’d prefer that the man not come to his complex – it raises questions. Those questions, about the women that enter the compound and don’t exit, are costly, both in favors and bribes to key people in the Cameroon government. Still, Elijah had insisted: “Something special” he’d said for what must have been fifty repetitions.

“Something special,” Elijah assured him again, whipping back the cover on the cage.

The girl, when revealed, flinched away from them. Vyse’s eyebrows rose; she was pretty from what he could see. Given that she was naked, he could see much, even with her huddled in on herself like that. Though she was short, her limbs were proportionally lovely. Her skin was smooth and dusky with a mix of some African heritage. There was symmetry to her features that certainly appealed. Were he into the native women, he’d consider her for himself. As he wasn’t, he was sure she’d be great motivation for his men. “What’s her name?”

“Dunno,” Elijah shrugged. “She won’t talk.” He slapped the whip against the bars and she finally looked up, snarling wordlessly.

Vyse suddenly understood her appeal. Those glowing red eyes were indicative of one thing. “How much?” he asked, his voice a touch hoarse with desire. It didn’t matter what she could do. He’d find a way to use her.

Elijah smiled. “Before I name my price, watch this.” He held a camcorder out to Vyse, who took it and turned it on. Some people would have been excited by what came first; others horrified. Vyse doesn’t care, one way or another. What interested him was what happened halfway through the video, when the girl’s eyes went red and she cut through her bonds. She killed the man assaulting her and vomited, mixing blood and guts and vomit and tears in a gory scene. She had no style, no finesse; she was so American in her accent and manner that Vyse expected to see her don a pair of Gap jeans after.

“How much?” Vyse asked again. He would have her. She would be the first nova in his company – the first of many. No price would be too high.

In the coming months, the prices would mount, but never would Vyse doubt the wisdom of possessing her. Even when she gutted the first doctor he’d hired and set his project back weeks, he didn’t falter in his conviction that she was the best thing to ever happen to him – so long as no one found out that she was his prisoner.

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Present day

“I know you’re trying to get me fired.” Ford froze and turned to Carl, slowly. The doctor’s hyper-intelligent mind began running through all the ways in which Carl could kill him, right here and now. “I mean, I get you cock-blocking me to the quim. I wouldn’t want to share that sweet pussy either. But taking away a man’s livelihood? That’s just cold, Ford. If you weren’t needed so much, you would have never have gotten away with it. But I get it. Vyse has to think of his business and between you and me, you’re the greater necessity. You made all those fancy drugs.

“But keep this in mind, doc. Vyse is going to have a hard time replacing me – I’ll see to that. And until he does, I have a chance to find all your notes and secrets, and then we’ll see who Vyse replaces,” Carl finished. The man hadn’t stopped smiling, which made the conversation all the more harrowing for Ford.

“Then I’ll have to stop you,” Ford heard himself retort, even as the part of him that actually possessed a desire to live past this moment tried to get him to shut up. He locked eyes with Carl for a long moment, feeling terror creep up his spine even as he tried to hide it-

The helicopter’s sudden lurch to the side caused Ford to lash out, his hands desperately sought a grip on something. But the seat belt caught him just as the plane leveled out. “You know, Ford, I’m glad to find you have some balls. It’ll make ripping them off more fun.”


The sound of the metallic booms led her to a half-moon of men, hiding in a rock enclosure. Words like ‘buildings’ and ‘cement blocks’ escaped her outright as she blazed her bloody path into the structure. The members of the CFF turned to face the death that was coming for them, but they never had a chance. The first died before he knew she was there; her speed made it impossible for him to die without a spear in his back.

The second was turning when she cut off his head with a sword, the blood-blade slicing through his chin and neck as if through air. The third man only had time to void his bladder before the spear came around and sliced through his arm and ribs. The fourth died as the sword came up underhand, between his legs.

This was all in the first second.

It was a lost cause. She couldn’t be stopped by anyone here with any of the weapons they had. There was nowhere to go; no way to hide. She could tell if they were living and she stabbed ‘dead’ bodies. There was no mercy.

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Seven months ago, October 18, 2010, Narita International Airport

Kouichi was in a bad mood. He was supposed to pick up three Korean girls on work visas from the airport. They were coming to Japan, thinking they were getting jobs working as hostesses and bartenders. They’d be working bars, on a pole, in truth.

This was not his fault, Kouichi reflected gloomily. He’d paid all the bribes so that the girl’s entries wouldn’t be formally recorded by Immigration. He’d passed around cash to all the guards to look the other way. He’d done everything right – and then fucking Shuu had fucked up the departure. He was cooling his ass in Korean jail, the three girls were having it explained to them what trap they’d almost fallen into, and Kouichi was out almost two million yen. How was he supposed to explain this to the boss.

The girl caught his eye. He stared at her for a moment, covertly watching her like a lion watches deer. She was not Japanese; her dusky skin told him that. She looked American, but what was more interesting to him was that she was wondering the concourse, looking for something. She was about fifteen or sixteen, he’d guess – the age to put her in a school girl’s uniform and watch the old men line up. Even if she was black – or part black – she’d still have the old men dishing out to see her up-close.

The girl saw him staring and smiled at him. Pretty smile, he thought, watching her approach him. “Hi,” she said softly, “are you the driver my father sent?” Her voice was soft and shy, her English very American.

“Sure,” Kouichi said, straightening up from his slouch. “I’ve got the car parked over here.”

Perhaps this wasn’t such a write-off after all. One girl for the brothels was better than none.


Kouichi stared at the blood-soaked room, too shocked to even feel horror. He should have; the Boss had that tight, brittle expression that said someone was going to pay. Kouichi had the terrible feeling it would be him.

The client was decapitated, his head resting on his rounded belly. The once-proud member of the Diet was now a pile of flesh. Naked and drained of blood, he looked almost silly, save for all the grisly reminders that the prostitute was responsible. Kouichi glanced at her body; she lay slumped against the far wall, multiple bullet holes decorating her small, mostly naked form. The guards had shot her far too late to help the client.

Her fingers twitched and everyone in the room looked at her. A choked rasp of air scattered them of them for the door. Kouichi pulled out his gun and started to aim. “No,” the Boss growled. Everyone looked at him. “Cage her, sell her. We need to recoup some profit. Not in Japan. Somewhere far away.” He looked at Kouichi, his face hard. “Clean up this mess.”

Kouichi swallowed hard, cursing the day he’d seen the black bitch in the airport. Bowing deeply, he waited for the Boss to leave before straightening. Stalking to the girl, he kicked her in the head, throwing her to the floor in a motionless lump. “Get a cage,” he snarled, giving her another kick for good measure. “And get the two new guys up here. Time they learned how to clean up a body.”

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Present day

“Looks like she’s about done,” Carl said conversationally.

“Vyse,” Ford said into the radio, “we’re about to the mop up point. Shut her down before we have to use the collar again? Our baseline troops can easily clean up what’s left.” Don’t think of them as human. You want to be able to sleep without crawling into the bottle completely tonight.

There was a pause. “Very well. When you see her in the open, shut her down.” Vyse sounded like he was talking about turning off a machine, not releasing a complex series of chemicals, their long-term effects unknown, into a teenage girl to knock her out. Ford understood the dangers far better than Vyse did; he’d tried to explain, but Vyse treated her like an asset, a commodity. Maybe that’s the way he keeps from realizing he’s a monster. That’s his rationalization. She isn’t human or even nova; she’s a machine.

Swallowing nervously, Ford triggered the shut down.


The Morrigan emerged from the fortification, covered in more blood. Even the silver collar fitted around her neck was now red, its controls hidden under the welter of gore. She paused for a moment, sensing the air. She turned toward the soldiers waiting further out-

The pain arced down her body, starting with the collar. She tried to grab it, but her fingers didn’t really respond anymore. She regained control of her body and awareness of the world at the same time. There was a burnt smell; she was sure it was coming from her. Her neck hurt quite a bit but she’d gotten the idea – stay away from those men.

Staggering, she turned and raced back into the village. The drugs still thundered in her veins, leaving her one recourse: action. She could smell more people around; they hid from her, but couldn’t hide from her nose. Kicking in one door, she found a family huddled in the basement. Screaming, she speared them, both horrified and relieved. Once they were all dead, she would be safe. Her instincts, twisted by the chemicals in her system, told her this. Even as she knew it was a lie, she was compelled to act.

Another house and another: all the same: hiding women and children who screamed and cried. She shut them up, as rapidly as she could, begging for the noise and sound and fury to end.

A door opened under her kicking foot, revealing two people huddled together. One was a girl no older than her. The other was her mother, wrapped protectively around her. The Morrigan stopped. Something in the image was reaching past her fury-song into the parts of her that were still the child she used to be. What the mother was wearing and the act of holding her daughter all triggered something in the drug-riddled mind of the nova.

That lull lasted only a second. The chemicals demanded and the Morrigan answered. Her spear shot through both mother and daughter, fatally injuring them with one stroke. As they died together, the Morrigan walked outside, shaking with drugs and emotions. Then the chemical soup changed, thanks to the control collar and she collapsed.

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Seven months ago, October 17, 2010, San Francisco International Airport

“Mom!” She looked over to see her teenage girl pointing at a baby stroller. “Oh, Mom… they’re so cute!”

Delayha glanced over at her only child. “No, no, no. Get that look out of your eyes, young lady,” the black woman ordered with a laugh. Even though she was laughing, her daughter could see that she wasn’t really joking. “I am not ready to be a grandmother.” She hugged her girl and murmured, “I have my hands full with you.”

“Not for two weeks,” the teen said with a grin, her white teeth standing out against her mocha skin. “It’s a vacation, from me!”

That did not make Delayha smile. She wasn’t sure she wanted her baby to meet her father. After all, Harry had never had the courage to be a father until now. It was only because their child had begged to go for her fifteenth birthday that Harry had relented. “I’d rather be vacationing with you,” she told her child, glancing down at her uniform. The Air Force hadn’t given Delayha leave at her request; her translation skills were too necessary right now. She’d learned Chinese on a lark, never imagining that it would become her career.

“C’mom, Mom, I’m fifteen already,” her daughter cried, rolling brown eyes up at her. “I’m old enough to fly to Tokyo, and Father said he’ll have a car waiting for me.”

“You’re always my baby,” Delayha said with a smile, running a hand over her daughter’s straightened hair. Her child had opted to forego her usual braids for this visit, deciding for a more ‘mature’ look. The mother in her grieved their loss; before Delayha had taken her current job with the Air Force, she’d had those tiny braids too. It had been a mother and daughter look for a long time; for her baby to not have them made Delayha feel like she was losing her.

“I know.” Delayha got a hug, which she returned fiercely. “I’m going to check in,” the teen said, pointing at the counter. Delayha nodded, letting her have this freedom, then watched with her heart in her throat as her baby walked up there alone.

“Hi,” the counter agent said, smiling at the teen girl. Millie had seen this before; the awkwardly hovering parent, clearly trying not to hover. Still, she preferred this to the business men – always tired and haggard and grouchy, the wonder of flying long dead for them. “And where are you going today?”

“Tokyo,” the girl announced proudly, putting her suitcase on the scale to be checked. “I’m going to see my dad.”

“Wonderful!” Millie said with a grin. “How long since you’ve seen him?”

“Oh, I’m going to meet him for the first time,” the dark-skinned girl said, her smile fading a little.

Millie covered her awkwardness in lifting the luggage from the scale, tagging it and setting it on the appropriate belt. “I hope you have fun,” she told the girl. “I just need your ticket. Ah, thank you.” She read it and started to input the information. “And your passport… Olivia, that’s a pretty name.”

“Thanks,” the girl smiled, “but I prefer Livy.”

“That’s pretty too,” Millie assured her, then handed everything back. “Do you know where your gate is, Livy?”

“Yep,” Livy said, “we looked it up already.” She looked so proud of herself, smiling up at Millie.

“Have a good flight!” Millie grinned as she walked away and rejoined her mother. Lucky kid. Wish I’d had an adventure like that when I was her age. Maybe I can swing a trip for the kids this summer. Somewhere fun and new. Get their horizons broadened. She was still musing as she finished typing in Livy Jenings’s information, the girl herself already forgotten.

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