Author: Morrow Brady

“What do you see?” She whispered into the darkness.

He widened his eyes and held his breath.

“Nothing. Just pitch black”

Her next lesson would be her last.

“Not black. Eigengrau. A dark, dark grey. Perfect for….”

And then it all kicked off.

It was over in minutes.

In the stillness, when the blood rush and panting subsided, he lay in agony, staring wide-eyed into eigengrau. Waiting for the final stroke to be delivered.

With trembling fingers, he reluctantly thumbed an orb air-ward and a soft patina green illuminated a decaying Tuscan colonnade and a grisly scene.

His burdened, limp arm was riddled with pulsating grey ribbons, like an overgrown Buddhist temple. The violent tech had infiltrated his boosted biology. Unrecoverable.

Glittery sauce spilt from the severed end of a thick ribbon that serpentined through murky puddles to splay into a ham sized seeder, gasping in the rubble like a dying fish.

“Bag o’ bits” He grittily mumbled.

A horrid squeezing sensation informed him his arm’s tattoo armour had failed. What remaining nerves tingled, their fellows hollow. Dead. His thrashing, moments earlier, while in the throes of a shower of pain, now a shocking core memory. The other hand, uncorrupted, clamped at the wrenched tricep where the other severed end of the ribbon protruded, still squirming, longing for its seeder host. A ghastly mix of glitter and blood seeped from its hollow centre, pooling on the ground.

He started to yank it out and her voice in his head mocked him.

“Not backward compatible buddy”

He rubbed his bruised, aching neck, where moments ago his corrupted hand had tried to strangle him unconscious. The seeder’s desperate bid at buying time to fully overthrow its host.

In the soft green light, he hesitated, then forced himself to roll his head to look towards her last position. Small muddy boots, legs akimbo and smoke rising from her seared skull. His mentor’s sacrifice her true final lesson. Her tortured femininity convulsing under a seething mass of eigengrau straps lit up by the white laser flash-band to the temple. Her final deep wail through vocal cords engulfed with blackened snakes and then the foul stench of burnt hair and strange cooked pork filled the dark, dark grey.

He edged on defeat, but rose to his feet anyway, reliant on his sole working arm.

“Still standing, so the mission still stands” he mockingly muttered her mantra, as shrill bucks sounded in the distance, heralding the approach of the scrapers to recover the victim.

Of course their presence had been sounded. He kicked the deflated seeder into a stone column. It crackled in jest.

Stumbling forward, he picked up his still steaming weapon, reinserted it into its chest slot. He withdrew a thick silvery band and clamped it high on his infected arm. He breathed deep, braced and hit activate. Red rings glowed and everything fell. A metallic ping followed a meaty thunk and he tottered for a new centre of gravity. As the sharp pain dulled, he craned his sore neck and examined the beefy cauterised site at his shoulder, recoiling instantly at that sweet porcine odour.

“Oh lovely” He muttered sarcastically.

He restarted along the seeder filled colonnade. Their eigengrau ribbon stems wafting, waiting, willing an unknowing host.

As he entered his target sector, a mighty explosion in the distance made him grin.

“Felt that one”

Deep now into the sector, he extinguished the orbs and crept forward once more in eigengrau. A patient stem waited to end his mission, the explosives implanted throughout his body waited to end theirs.