Author : Bruce Meyer
It could have been the simplest of conquests. One properly-placed shot and the rebel city would be nothing but ocean.
“I’ll sink ‘em all,” Lam said, his red face was projected as an image ahead of Enoch’s cockpit window. “I’ll blast the monsters to the sky. Give the word!”
Two spider-shaped fighters were dispatched to the floating metropolis. Lam’s hovered just off Enoch’s flank, powering low over a remote region of the Thalassinus Ocean. The target’s sleek and slender spires gleamed in the sunlight.
“Denied,” Enoch said. “Hold your fire. Survey the city first. I want to locate all inhabitants.”
“What?” Lam’s red deepened. “What will a survey do? We know right where they are. Those things are diseased! Dark energy has destroyed them. I vote we make them ocean garbage.”
“Prepare the survey,” Enoch said. “They may be diseased, but they’re still human beings.”
Although Lam argued, he eventually complied. After a time, he completed the survey. “Nobody’s down there. The place is deserted.”
“Yes,” Enoch said slowly. Even with Enoch’s years of experience, the readouts were unfamiliar. There were no life forms indicated, but the energy readings were off the scale. “We’ll search the city on foot.”
Lam argued all the while they lowered their vessels to the streets of the city. When Enoch secured the landing and opened the hatch, Lam was already there ahead of him.
“Commander, the towers, do you see them?”
Enoch saw houses and apartments. Then he followed Lam’s gaze to the slender structures rising miles into the air.
“They’re not buildings,” Lam said. “I think they’re particle accelerators, tearing the fabric of spacetime. The buggers are manufacturing dark energy, would ya believe it? Commander, we have to get out of here. We’re at risk-”
“Commander Enoch Frangin,” said a metallic voice from behind.
Enoch whirled around. Behind him stood the most gruesome creature. Its skin was like boiling mud, and its eyes glowed like two red lasers. Despite the terrible disfigurement, Enoch recognized the face of Dr. Carter Frangin, the lead rebel.
The monster reached out with his molten arm and touched his son’s shoulder. Repulsed, Enoch jumped back.
“Father, what have you become?” Enoch realized why their instruments hadn’t picked up anybody. They weren’t human anymore. “What has dark energy done to you?”
“Dark energy?” The monster’s speech resembled machines grinding without any oil. He held out his bubbling hand to his son. “It’s only by dying to your humanity that you can live. Give up your human weakness and be reborn in energy.”
Lam looked around at the multitude of creatures that had joined Dr. Frangin. He grabbed Enoch’s arm and pulled him away. “Commander, to the ships!”
But tears streamed down Enoch’s face. “I will never become like you-”
Dr. Frangin extended his arm to his son once more. “You already are, son, it just doesn’t show yet. You’re already infected.”
Enoch and Lam never made it to their ship. The eyes were the first to change, turning bloodshot and then fluorescent red. Splotches appeared on their faces and arms, spreading like insects burrowing into their bodies. Enoch and Lam joined the rebel ranks of the dark energy beasts.
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