24 June 2013

Night Terrors: 17C “Moonlight Sonata”

Night Terrors: 17C “Moonlight Sonata”
by mjbanks

Act 3/3  |Moonlight Sonata|

The heavy metal band plays a muzak version of a heavy metal song from a millennium ago as they enter the gala. Ivalien walks determinately straight across the gala, a headache persistently toying with his focus, while trying to seem inconspicuous by walking slower and spending his conscious effort to watch for danger and keep a pollyannaish smile on his face. His state-issued acrylic windbreaker jacket closed and collar upward covers scars except the one peaking by an inch above his collar. Lara walk with more haste than he and gets to tell a friend of his that he’s sick from a food allergy, after his friend mentions that the infirmary is behind them, and her minimalizing reply. A fight breaks out near one of the bars, nothing more than a drunken scuffle over athletic fandom, but it is enough to get them across the dance floor unobstructed.

It is too perfect for escape and dutifully he spots guards ahead of him and not long thereafter, Cmdr. Ryu himself, following them. The bacchanalia, like all other beer brawls patrons allow to continue, for it is down to only two men trading blows that soon to end in one victim and one victory stopped by Ryu. In disgust, the Commander punches the prevailing fighter with a single blow that sets him unconscious, the prey of the pugilism on bended knee with bloody face takes a kick from the commander to lie broken but awake and breathing on the floor. The bandleader and secondary proctor of the event sees the dispute end as it has and jumps to the center stage and initiates his earpiece communicator that transmits to the audio entertainment broadcast system, urging the band to stop during the guitar stretching strings, and leading the entire event in a round of applause. As the people begin to clap their hands, Ivalien tries to hide among his peers, watching Ryu take the stage after the speaker lauds then announces him, his wounds show and drying blood slowly runs like primordial secretion and his face sullied black from the ash of charred molecules in the air during his hunt.

Ryu: “A prisoner has escaped. There is a traitor on this rock, who is one of us. He is wounded and in this hall.”

Ivalien coughs slightly, trying not to look around himself at the many people and soldiers, his lungs and innards scarred from the symbiote causes him to cough again, this time the patrons begin to distance themselves from him.

Ryu: “There, seize him!”

Before the Ivalien can reach for a pistol Lara’s allies open fire from the edge of the ceremony, the exit that he and she had hoped to use it taken by her friends with bloodshed and decisive action. Soon the lasers fly across the room as shooters with heat vision visors fire onto any being with a symbiote in their bodies, Lara already practically dragging Ivalien to the guarded line. Most patrons of the event are not carrying weapons, but the law allows all persons to carry pistols and all officers on duty it is a requirement, so the shooting continues even more intense. With the majority of weapons fire directed at the insurgents there are patrons firing at each other and others to the symbiotes who are unabashed in killing everything in their path regardless of station, people hiding and people fighting it is not a firefight for long.

An explosion at the main exit disrupts the gunplay shortly, allowing them to escape, those of their allies trapped within the barrier fight with the armed attendees in unison firing on the bloodthirsty symbiotes. The lesser paths and terminals around the blockage, clogged by fleeing patrons some merely visiting the planet, become new course to chase after Ivalien, from instance of shootout to now that the blast has blocked the vehicle hallway.

Ryu is furious and he hunts with the type of trepidation exuded from pure hatred, his eyes are bleeding black tears that in his rage he notices not, his lips dark his skin white. With the rifle butt to his shoulder, he grasps at the handle and barrel with his hands, so tightly that they could be bleeding if not the sweat and the debris. Departure clearance is technically revoked, security records he can erase, if Ivalien escapes his agenda is imperiled, and despite this circumstance, he still kills every person in sight, as if by vengeance desiring to destroy all humans.

His steps track through chaos and blood, his pace quickens until his is nearly running and firing, few bystanders, catching sight of Ivalien he shoots Lara in her shin, as they leave a door to the outside world a fervor spills into green self-regulating grassland meadow, short blades that come to point. Lara’s comrades usher them into a vehicle, dragging her into the car as her friends fire on Ryu, two uniformed guards on alert from nearby collect into this firefight against those Ivalien has left behind their escape, Cmdr. Ryu kills everyone not in a vehicle and takes the security bike into hungered pursuit. Three cars in Ivalien’s caravan and Ryu, leaning starkly forward on the motorbike, his aptitude much greater than that of the host human body, the rifle over the steering bar he follows in a speed dangerous to any human. He reaches the velocity in which the acceleration rate lessens, but it continues to gain as he takes aim while closing the distance, forced to weave thru traffic of suburbia during regulation sleep hours in the first straight chase he gets chance, he takes a shot and kills the driver of the third car and it crashes into a house. In the first car Ivalien and Lara’s driver calls for help.

Driver: “Serious bug problem, major fucking mayday, can’t go home, need some help.”
Radio Voice: “This is swatter base, we’re going to cast a net, but you’ll have to stay on the road you’re using.”
Shotgun: “Can we do that?”
Radio Voice: “Already in place, just like we rehearsed.”

Shouting thru the telecom for support from further allies, one of them takes a can of medical foam spray and fills the wound in her calf, it quickly it quickly begins to heal soon to be natural flesh again.

Ivalien: “Give me that shit.”

Ivalien sprays some into his hand and spreads it on the gash on his neck across his collarbone, sighing about the medication relief. Ryu still follows, after each shot his rifle powers-up for larger longer distance shots, in the second vehicle one-passenger hit then a rear tire. As the second vehicle spins Ryu shoots the car at its side, killing the driver and flipping the vehicle, as it tumbles it jumps and he drives his motorcycle under the wreck and smoke, confident and malign. When his rifle recharges for firing he shoots their trunk, the car fishtails then regains course, closer still he shoots for Ivalien blowing a hole in the roof like a knife tear in fabric, yet even closer still thru the rear window and shooting the front seat passenger who fired at Ryu in a fit of glory. Blood everywhere Ivalien takes the dead man’s rifle and fires at Ryu, hitting him in the back the bike slows because his body has received the laser blast impact, but the acceleration continues, again he shoots at Ryu and misses, black blood leaks and sprays from his back wound. Ryu takes another shot and blasts an even larger opening in the car roof, burning the driver bad in the arm that in fear puts the accelerator pedal on the floor.

Radio Voice: “Okay, you’re almost there.”

The driver begins to scream pure adrenaline, Ryu behind them sees to mechanical units on each side of the road, he aims for one of the units and places his sight to assure the sight, but the rifle insufficiently charged enough to re-fire, and short wave laser blast would not make the shot in distance or accuracy. Ryu hopes the rifles charges and accelerates as fast as he can possibly hope to make his bike travel. The mechanical units begin to show signs of glowing and initiation, faster still to travel, harder yet to aim, periled ever farther, in glory of battle too little too late. Just as the car passes the line the laser grid initiates across a subtle road outside suburbia, Ryu is at the speed to collide with their car just ahead of the laser barrier. Just before impact, he tries to push himself from the cycle and crosses his arms before his face and body, the damage and fire pours slightly onto their car as they escape.  The laser defense is disengaged and its operators quickly abandon them after placing detonation charges to ruin the evidence.

The upper half of Ryu lives, halved by the laser lines, he laughs with black bile in his lungs and throat, he attempts crawling with ravaged with broken and burned hands. Two soldiers of the rebellion approach him and his humor in reluctance, he turns onto his back with his entrails trailing from his midsection, and he presses a button on a device wrapped around his wrist and rests while dying.

Ryu: “Father they escape, I have not.”

In a room elsewhere on a throne of melted sheet metal a creature from within a human abstract speaks, the symbiosis has been for long, enough that its joints protrude and skin with calcified growth as mutated armor. The knuckles and shoulders stretched with raised points, a face with fangs and dead eyes rotten and gone still gifted with sight it answers.

Chouko: “We see, we are prepared, die with dignity.”

The soldiers standing aside Ryu watch him reach for a pistol and shoot rapid fire until he is no more than offal and carrion. Ivalien looks back at what has happened, but it is too far to see clearly, the shots fired shine flashes of light with some certainty, ahead of the vehicle a medium shuttle flies to ground level and their battered car enters its cargo bay and the door closes.

Ivalien: “Why did you help me?”
Lara: “You are the chosen one.”

Chouko watches a live-feed video of the shuttle rescue, the trajectory of it from the surface is only by 1°, but the straight line it takes elevating into the atmosphere will soon depart the planet, the bony malformed creature moves to a computer screen and touches holographic controls to mark the shuttle as a target. The computer display shows vessels moving toward it and weaponry targeting it for destruction, John enters the creature’s room wearing the uniform of a soldier that is converted and insomuch loyal to the alien conquest, and scars around his collarbones that had hidden beneath the collar of his flak jacket, revealing that he is one of them, in rebellion.

Chou’ko: “We have survived detection, we have won.”
John: “We have.”

John slides the weapon strap and holds his laser rifle to his side, other guards enter the poorly lit room, in the hall, dead soldiers lay on the floor and more bodies are falling to stealth and revenged murder.

Chou’ko: “[What is happening here?]”
John: “[This is a raid.]”

John and his so-called men kill Chou’ko, when he seems to be without breath he moves to the computer and cancels the kill order, when ships call to confirm he reaffirms the order, and sets new target for the military ships in flight and the artillery stations at their current location.

John: “This is Captain Chou’ko, there is a Code 5 outbreak from a failed experiment in Research Facility 11, doors are sealed and most are evacuated, level that structure now! [Everybody out, right fucking now! Let’s go, let’s go!]”

John and his allies run to the hall and down its length to an emergency exit where one of them has already bypassed the lock, they escape on state-issued motorcycles straight over the cement and thru the grass, watching the munitions fly toward Area 11, Chou’ko sees artillery coming at him while his life enters eternal darkness.

| Moonlight Sonata | 3/3
17A “Integument"  
17B “Subcutaneous”
17C “Extraction”  

Night Terrors: 17B “Moonlight Sonata”

Night Terrors: 17B “Moonlight Sonata”
by mjbanks

Act 2/3  | Subcutaneous | 

Ivalien awakens in a room while strapped thoroughly into an examination chair, his ally bound the same across the room, a doctor prepped from surgery notices him wake and walks to a table in the room with a giant scarab. The sight of the massive insect fills all forms of his ethic with an utmost fear of the unknown, the surgeon takes his middle finger and strokes the center of the bug’s back shell, a trickling squeal voices from the insect and fear becomes the element.

Ivalien: “Ah, fuck me running, why couldn’t it be an undisclosed location?”

He writhes and violently jostles while strapped to the device, unsuccessfully escaping and retracing his journey in his mind when he takes a breath and pauses, exhaling and gyrating furiously to no luck. Another surgeon awaits orders next to the other captive.

Malek: “Calm down. Would you like to be unconscious for this?”
Ivalien: “Is it going to hurt?”
Malek: “Oh yes, you might not even survive.”

The words drive them to attempt shaking from their bonds.

Ivalien: “What the hell are you doing?”
Malek: “Well, my name is Malek, and I am your harvester of sorrow.”
Mark: “Like hell you are, get us the fuck out of here!”
Malek: “I’m going cut you open, and put the head of that live creature into your chest so it can eat your heart and take over your body.”
Ivalien: “Wait, what, no, I’m on your side, let me help you.”
Mark: “Yeah, fuck yeah, we’re the good guys!”
Malek: “You wouldn’t be helping me, I am one of them.”

Malek points to the insect with one hand and pulls down his collar with the other to reveal his scar. Ivalien hears only adrenaline and sees the silence of his futility.

Malek: “Your friend you know as Timothy, is one of our highest leaders, he suggested your death, for your successful advances in improving infantry biology. These facilities have been using our biology to enhance and repair injuries, that technology that helps ‘people’ who have lost limbs, via their nerve endings communicate much better with far more advance, because you have helped us bring your demise.”
Ivalien: “You’re going to feed me to that thing?”
Malek: “I am, so say goodbye to your soul.”

Malek places his hand on Ivalien’s shoulder and begins to make an incision in his chest, the other surgeon the same with his friend. They begin to scream in agony, still writhing in pain it walks from him to the scarab and with some effort rips the head from the insect, entrails and poisonous veins hang from cephalic carnage, the victims scream again as the mandibles gnaw into casualties, as Malek injects him with an antibiotic. In moments, they faint from terror and trauma, the doctors walk to the dead carapaces and flip them on their backs to cut them open and casually cut then eat small pieces of entrails and smile in merriment.

In minutes, they attach devices to monitor host health, in an hour Ivalien’s friend rejects symbiosis then dies, killing the parasite with him. Ivalien has dreams of falling through a volcano of blood, imagining what the creature must think as he passes from prevalence, assimilating a language both similar and different.

Syngenta: “His conditions are stabilizing, he will be strong enough.”
Malek: “Yes, I cannot hear his thoughts, give him another sedative, we won’t know certainly until he wakes.”

More dreams of illusion and thoughts of reality another hour passes unto Ivalien wakes to silence the echoes of his thoughts. Malek feeds alone with Ivalien on pieces of his dead ally’s body.

Ivalien: “Where am I?”
Malek: “You are in your nest, new born, in new light.”
Ivalien: “I cannot move, release me.”
Malek: “[Please, speak to me with your thoughts.]”
Ivalien: “I can barely speak at all. I could use a whiskey. [I will now escape.]”
Malek: “[Wait, stop untying him! Poison him! Do it now!]”

Syngenta has already untied one arm and several straps that crossed his body, but too late for restraint, Ivalien breaks free stronger than he has ever been, he reaches for Syngenta’s throat and tears it open, while grabbing Malek by the arm and holding him against the wall by his throat.

Ivalien: “Why can I hear your thoughts and you mine?”
Malek: “Why are you still alive?”
Ivalien: “Minds, why!”
Malek: “We are the hive; the modifications of man gave us this mind… [Guards come in here.].”

Ivalien snaps Malek’s neck whose head falls lifelessly, as he throws the surgeon’s body to the floor the limbs crawl with head hanging, the body still with life although pitiful and acephalous, he checks his clothes for blood before closing his shirt, grabbing his jacket, and leaving the room. In the hallway, two guards confront him.

Migo: “[Here comes a breather, say something.]”
Ghroth: “Stop, show us your hands, how did you get down here?”
Migo: “What is your name?”
Ivalien: “Ivalien, I am going to the surface. Is there a problem?”
Ghroth: “[What kind of stupid name is that?]”
Migo: “You don’t have clearance, stand still.”
Ivalien: “Look at my scar, I have arrived.”
Ghroth: “[O, relax Migo, more we are hive.]”
Migo: “[Welcome newborn, but you mustn’t speak, thinking is safer. Where is your surgeon?]”

Ivalien strikes one guard in the face and twists the rifle from the other. He kicks a knee to lower the second and tries to break the neck of the first. When this does not work he struggles to obtain the other’s rifle, he wraps the strap of it around the first’s neck and strangles him over his shoulder while firing the rifle at the second, burning him with from head to toe. Ivalien turns with choking cord ahold and fires into the first, burning across the spine to the base of the skull. It is not an end for the surgeon Malek whose broken neck is healing by cellular regeneration.

Ivalien runs swift thru the white hallway by spirited step, the electric rifle in his hands readily, to the foyer where he had arrived, wares and fares of special treatment for the clandestine elite now conquering his all but conquered humanity. His thoughts quick of consciousness, agility and empathic ability empowered to his advantage, he aims and thinks of distraction, the closest drones to him sense him close and hear him as he comes round the corner with only an open hall for defilade. This thought of peril makes his own ears hear a slightly high-pitched note, as many look to the wrong direction imparted by his falsely messaged telepathic integration. He begins to fire on them all, the closest guards open laser fire on him but die by his siege, which the beam burns across one face of two, surging deep into crowding others maiming few, and powerfully burning with a surge of shortened beam length into the other.

Ivalien disregards the perils of firing the weapon at full power risking overload, for he slides feet first as the rifle continues blasting and nearing failure or reset, to catch a rifle of the falling dead opponents, lifting himself upward with reflexive shin and firing again, steady to hide behind a counter normally used for mingling dilettantes. Unable to stay behind the small wall soon razed by several concentrated fire, he lasers the bar and sets a fire while running to a vehicle, his head turns and runs blindly while shooting at his pursuers whom include Cmdr. Ryu with an angry face and a hole burnt thru his arm. He fires over his shoulder as the ATV speeds from conflagration, careful to watch the sensor on his weapon in the corner of his eye so that it does not explode aside his head, speeding into the long tunnel that leads toward the surface of the night jungle. He shifts his fire from them in pursuit to the fuel cells of the sidelined vehicles he passes, causing explosions to slow or halt his chasers, midst a blast of fire and smoke he locks his rifle in ignition aimed behind him and backflips from the shuttle into the catwalks overhead, escaping into the maintenance ductwork.

Back at the commons of echelon ranks Malek has looked over his digital terminal and watched chaos, frustrated he punches the view screen of his Air Deck terminal and rejoins Cmdr. Ryu. The bodies not burned thru their cortex are slowly crawling to consciousness like the unholy undead, the commander surveys the fire and destruction upon it climbs and lifts his hand to view chaos thru the hole in it.

Malek: “How bad is it?”
Ryu: “If you don’t find him, you will soon know!”
Guard: “His tracker isn’t showing in the system.”
Malek: “We took out his tracker!”

Malek rips the guard’s throat open and throws him to the floor.

Ryu: “Clean this mess and dismember this fool before he heals! [Malek, what did you say that upset the newborn into heterodoxy?]”
Malek: “[Commander he is not one of us, he is immune.]”
Ryu: “…he is an anomaly?”
Malek: “[He is, sir.]”
Ryu: “To my quarters, generals, we’re going hunting!”

Ryu walks with determination and the posture of a young gladiator, his minions slowly allow him to lead trace and follow, Malek strong and stoic to his shadow trying to see how badly is the wound. It indeed has a scorched hole, but the commander flexes his arm, opening and closing his hand, the burnt flesh recoils.

They enter into an elevator, large for cargo it almost silently flies to the top of the building and opens to a room with a fireplace, and mounted picture of card-playing felines. The cold inactive fire faces a wall of glass windows that overlook paradise, in the room’s center rests a shiny black desk three cubic length. He plummets into his chair, with his wounded arm bent at the elbow holding his burnt hand to his chest. He slaps his other hand to the security scanner built within it. Pressing a digital button on the computer desk and a drawer opens with a thick red alcoholic blood. He ignores the glasses in the opened drawer, drinks from the bottle, and even slushes some on his wound, a cleansing painful rinse. With the bottle in his hand, he ushers Malek to take a glass from the drawer then drinks pours for him and drinks again.

Ivalien runs thru a service tunnel, an occasional worker sees him but goes generally unalarmed, he changes his clothes and looks to his phone for the girl secretary’s information, committing the useful information to memory he drops his comlink into a fuel processing vacuum chute to destroy it. He takes a pen, writes down what he needs, and moves again, this time at any of the numbering security stations. His troop gathers weapons and tactical armor as it awaits orders from the commander, he watches his desk computer as a medic applies drops of a liquid to his wound. The attendant wraps a sleeve around the wound as Ryu notices an indicator in the factory 12 zone indicating where Ivalien had opened the furnace chute, he slams his good arm on the table jostling his bandaging.

Ryu: “There – he is on level 3 of factory 12, first to capture him gets their own island, let’s move!”
Malek: “Huzzah, let’s do this!”
Ryu: “[Not you Malek, you stay here, make sure nothing leaves atmo, keep me informed.]”
Malek: “[Yes, lord.]”

Malek bows closing his eyes, opening them to rise and sit at Ryu’s desk.

Ivalien approaches the nearest security station, listening with his mind for evidence that they are the insects or if they have any thought, when he cannot discern of such things he calls into their office door as if menially routine, as they acknowledge he turns into their room, grabbing the first rifle he can he aims at them. They halt movement with hands in air, Ivalien orders out their comlinks and destroys the devices, takes weapons and grenades, then welds the door shut sealing within the sounds of lasers He slips into the obscurity provided by the maze of underground energy facilities manufacturing, passing rooms with engineers making lead into gold for further purposes.

Small shuttle pods carry the commander through tunnels, slowing unto slowly for the turns in the corridors, looking for any signs of irregularity, the transporter screen displaying what is behind him, the mapping program showing where they are and plan to go, and thru Ryu’s eyes forms of vision ungifted to nascent humanity.

Ivalien carries his bag of bombs and a rifle soon partially hidden beneath a taken lab coat, thru the factory to the shopping mall, thru there to the commons, thru there to the tunnel avenues with old restaurants beneath the young park, thru there to the dormitories for facilities 1100-1150. Calm he is trying to be with mental trauma and an affliction of fear that causes him to clench the collar of his stolen construction lab coat to hide the scars on his heart. The color of the halls in theme scrawled with a symbol thruout the building for residents to avoid disorientation between buildings by keeping mental note of it, a wave-like logo periodically on the black wall line that all dorms have. He inconspicuously slips into the stairwell and descends as Ryu attends the alarm triggered by the sabotaged door of the sublevel security office, unpleased he kills both officers and raids the last of their weapons then continues his hunt for Ivalien.

The refugee descends to the level he desires and enters the general social area filled with children and matrons, movies and card games by off duty scientists.

He approaches a domicile as intended, wary and weary of any surveillance, he knocks on the smoked glass door of the apartment. The secretary Lara he had met earlier answers the glass by pressing her finger to it, so that only a narrow portion of it becomes clear. Inside her quarters, she is readying for shower and puts on a robe before saying hello.

Lara: “Hey stranger, welcome, I have to get ready, but you can wait in here if you want? [Finally, some company.]”
Ivalien: “Yeah, that’d be good idea, great even.”

The sound of his voice is clear when the glass is, it muffles again as the glass digital door becomes smoky once more, yet it slides open silently allowing him to enter as she goes to her shower room.

Ivalien: “Nice digs.”
Lara: “I try. [I hope he is not too eager about the dance, what is in the bag.]
Ivalien: “[No…]…I’m really eager to see the band at the gala.”

An awkward deafening silence the sort of performance and slumber when dreams become reality, had he heard her thoughts, had she heard his, had she become one of him, thoughts of haste indistinguishable to dangerous context.

Lara: “[Did he just…nah….] hey, have a beer, drop the bag, I’ll be a few minutes.”

Peeking her head around the water closet door and smiling she ducks back and begins beautifully bathing, a scar on her chest. The stasis-fridge doors slide open to a contents of a meticulous supply for a vegetarian, taking the brown beer bottle he notices the common network interface in her lounge room.

Ivalien: “Hey, can I use your program terminal?”
Lara: “As sure is certain.”
Ivalien: “How do you say your last name?”
Lara: “Like reddish!”
Ivalien: “You’re kidding …a red head named radish.”
Lara: “It’s reddish.”

He snaps his fingers once in surprise of the name he had forgotten until now, his sentence mumbles closed as he uses her terminal to look for her car in the parking compound, the map opens to its location then swallows the radiant blinking beacon of it to show the pathway to it. He examines the route carefully looking for what dangers await between it and him. He begins to sense that she is trying to screen his thoughts now filled with worry of capture, he goes to the shower room where the water still runs and steam still fills, she awaits him with a charger pistol pointed at his head.

Ivalien: “Show me your chest.”
Lara: “That’s no way to start a date.”
Ivalien: “Are you one of them?”
Lara: “Did you say, one of them…?”

His thoughts become invaded and divided, his vision becomes split like two mirrors back to back between his eyesight shifting and slicing the world, her robe falls, and she puts down the pistol to begin seducing him.

Ivalien: “This is great, but I need your help.”
Lara: “With anything you need.”
Ivalien: “I need to use your car.”

With her hand in his, they walk thru the dormitory, his fear an ocean of thought that floats a vessel of escape motive.

Ivalien: “[Are you in control of your actions?]”
Lara: “You mustn’t think, speak to me with your voice.”
Ivalien: “Why are you helping me?”
Lara: “The, thing, in you is angry, that will help you hide among us, but not until you can control your thoughts better.”

She pulls her comlink from her pocket, it causes him some worry, her first emotive is to give him solace.

Lara: “[You must trust me, you are salvation.] – John, the liberty bells rings, it’s time for the turnaround, I have the one we’ve been awaiting.”
John: “What, how, where are you, what do I do?”
Lara: “We’re heading to the Section V Gala now; we need to get thru atmo.”
John: “Get into the gala, we’ll get you out.”

Ivalien: “Who was that?”
Lara: “Let’s try to meet him safely first.”

| Moonlight Sonata | 3/3
17A “Integument"  
17B “Subcutaneous”
17C “Extraction”  

Night Terrors: 17A “Moonlight Sonata”

Night Terrors: 17A “Moonlight Sonata”
by mjbanks

Act 1/3 | Integument |

A shuttle lifts from the ground and hovers shortly before aligning over the concrete departure area, it slowly lifts with effortless ease and begins ascent, leaving the Nevadan desert in the summer months en route to the moon, and in twenty minutes, it reaches a new orbit with a wide view of the pristine lunar atmosphere. In moments of nearing the endless green pastures and faint blue sky, security forces attend to verify the shuttle for security. A check of schedule, a check of shuttle, a check of cargo radio tags, and a visual comlink checking of the supplies transport pilot who has to remove his head-covering helmet to say hello.

On the surface without mountains, an endless nature preserve with scattered installation bases of operation where only the most esteemed of the scientific community can research. Each country after the wars decided that their meritless endeavors must subside to a more purposeful endeavor, this gave way to a new world order extraterrestrial, the allowance of capitalist technique isolated from political sanctions became a salvation for the humanity of Earth, giving rise to solutions without sanctimonious debate. As the prosperity became common influx to society, the moon’s military charter continues extrinsically intact and reciprocal to operations. Prior to terraforming and inhabitancy, the moon’s gravity was one-sixth to that of Earth’s, after an atmosphere was formed that was closer to one-fifth, and for a time combat operations had fun and games using ATV’s with roll cages and bouncy tires. Less than a decade later, in the middle of the dark side a particle accelerator built increased the overall gravity, and soon afterward three more accelerators beneath the surface that stretch around the entire surface, this brought the gravity up to two-thirds that of earth.

In one moon, a scientist can research in any of the many climates the earth has, but with more consistency. The jungles near the shadow horizon, the temperate zones where the dorms are, the savannah, and the desert commonly called the sun circle. The dark side has more restricted operations and belongs mostly to tactical researchers studying migration patterns of deadly nighttime predators, mostly how to war with the frightful creatures of the night. With the vegetation that grows in near darkness under close examination it looks most like another world, the camouflaged elevators rise to the dark side surface for the tanks and the hunters of hunters.

In the light, white complexes dot the landscape, each with different projects under research, in center 1138 a strapping young man named Ivalien Idonea sits, among the white walls, floor, and furniture, drinking a chocolate coffee and eating a simple sandwich. He watches the shuttle land through the slanted window wall that graces the entire north side of the building segment where he sits, the second and third floors have a runway that adjoins the glass panes and open around the cafeteria. As the shuttle lands on a parking lot just outside he stands and carries his cup and sandwich, and walks to the recycle unit. A section of the wall recedes where a conveyor belt waits, he drinks the last drop and puts the polystyrene cup on the counter, a red light glows and the cup compresses rushed to the recycling facilities.

He looks to his short sleeve at his last name, rank, and a third line with his research team and his current dorm location, for easy fraternization among the genders. He is new and in awe of acceptance to the lunar academy, he pulls his sleeve to admire and scratch the newish tattoo identical to the insignia on his shirtsleeve. Ivalien sees a friend of his and runs to meet him.

His feet stretch far in hurry and patters as he begins to stop still adjusting to the gravity.

Ivalien: “Hey Mark, I’m still getting used to the grav.”
Mark: “It’s like a dream about playing hockey while wearing your shoes on the ice, if they introduced bungee cords and piƱatas, but it’ll be so worth it this weekend, look at this.”

He and Mark continue walking as Mark hands him a phone, with the press of a button Ivalien initiates a small three-dimensional projection of his private quarters, including a four-post bed with draping fabrics and a trapeze.

Mark: “I even have plastic cuffs so I can tell the lucky lady I’m the fuck police.”
Ivalien: “You’re one classy asshole, anybody ever tell you that?”
Mark: “What’s new with your application for Mars?”
Ivalien: “I don’t want to talk about it.”

They continue along the walkway against the glass, giving them a view of the serene pastures of the moon, the sun forever off-center the zenith, endless afternoon and immortal spring, the birds and the rivers and the childish forest of a young satellite planet. They arrive at a downward ramp, walking to a lower level a nearby escalator, over the railing near them and all elsewhere several beds levitating, the occupants in recovery from illnesses once considered terminal, but mostly soldiers and aristocrats, each wearing silver visors with neurological reprogramming disguised beneath major network television. Near the end of the ramp Mark and Ivalien, jump the banister where there is not a patient bed, an exploit in adventure and diminished gravity.

Mark: “Look, Ivalien, it’s a long list, and she’s smarter than you, when terraforming completes, you’ll have your chance.”

He laughs at Ivalien and waits emotionally reposed.

Ivalien: “By then anyone here will look like second class rejects.”
Mark: “Allow me to take umbrage, dude, look man, fish, and sea, be captain hook, and get over it.”

Mark spoke with his hands weighing his presented options and curving his finger then bending it precociously. They approach an elevator and stop for computer commands.

Mark: “Open elevator.”

The doors open for them and they peacefully enter. Each wall of the elevator has two doors.

Ivalien: “This place, is, effin awesome.”
Mark: “That’s the spirit, look out there; did you have that view at home? Sublevel 76 A.”

Mark puts his hand to the palm-reader-verification-panel (PRVP) to the right of the doors. Ivalien is lost in a thought about his past while the golden light over green glades shines through the window wall. He has forgotten to put his hand as well on the palm reader to the left conditional regarding security for all personnel use. He escapes his memory and places his hand for the quick scan and the doors close, the white elevator doors glow with the words ‘Hold the Bar’ as they do awhile the elevator descends into the depths of the planet.

Ivalien: “Sublevel 62 C.”
Mark: “What are you doing?”
Ivalien: “I nearly forgot – you know Tim in Artificial Cartilage?”
Mark: “Wears the glasses.”
Ivalien: “He messaged me this morning about a breakthrough that might help us on hand shielding.”
Mark: “First news is good news, is even more good news!”
Ivalien: “Isn’t it?”

The elevator stops and the doors behind them open with a wisp, having missed predicting the doors to open they adjust and exit. A healthy young female receptionist with red hair welcomes them, her gun clear to her side, another beneath her chair, and another beneath the large desk, and the alarm at the ready. Surrounded by laboratories with windows electronically silvered to hide the contents, the two men sign a digital screen as a red laser scans and maps their entire face, particularly their eyes with second green laser. As both pass security clearance, the windows of each laboratory room turn clear as the occupants are mostly unawares, the blocking complete transitionally to only the outer side of the glass.

Mark makes an added effort to show his bicep as he waits for Ivalien to lead the search.

Ivalien: “What lab is agent McLaren using?”
Lara: “23, behind me left, right, left.”
Ivalien: “Thank you.”
Lara (Redosc): “Are you going to the gala?”
Mark: “Only if you are.”
Lara: “I’ll see you there.”
Ivalien: “I won’t credit you in my research.”
Mark: “Gotta go.”

Mark winks at her and runs to Ivalien, she bites her stylus as he leaves. He runs passed several labs, mostly biological prosthetic engineering.

Their faces turn into the first hallway.

Mark: “You’re messing with my magical charisma.”
Ivalien: “She was way more into me.”

Their faces turn into the second hallway.

Ivalien: “I bet you 20 credits she gives me her com address when we leave.”
Mark: “Ye have little faith, why not make it 200?”
Ivalien: “Sounds like you’ll lose.”

Their faces turn into the third hallway.

Mark: “So what’s the breakthrough, and why share it with you if you’ll lose the bet?”
Ivalien: “Let’s ask him.”

Timothy McLaren, second lead of molecular regenerative research, Artificial Cartilage division, waves to them thru a window, a smoky glass door open slides.

Tim: “Hello friend, welcome to my own private madness. What I have for you is a new particle solution set for regenerative growth that offers complete displacement of flawed substrate.”

On the table resides a slimy chemical bath where a steel bone clasped rests submerged and clamped, pressing a button on the table, a porous femur bone made of metal rises from the substance. One ends of the bone severed and tubes joining a soft core.

Ivalien: “So where’s the sample?”
Tim: “This is the sample, regenerative metallic substrate, complete with reproductive humanoid marrow.”
Mark: “My god in heaven, you’ve found the terminator god.”
Tim: “I’ll accept minor deity.”
Ivalien: “A wizard among men, but won’t the marrow die with atmosphere exposure.”
Tim: “In extended time, but I’ve got plenty more, this is merely the showroom toy.”

Tim pushes the button again, submerging the bone into the fluid.

Tim: “If you’re wondering why share, it’s because we’ll be working together after the gala, with, a rise in clearance and pay, I thought I just be the one to tell you first.”
Mark: “Is that everyone from biomechanics?”
Tim: “Put your hand on that screen, Mark.”

Mark puts his palm to the screen; Tim’s monitor turns green to signal clearance, Marks face shows excitement. A short tone sounds in the room, the nearest communication panel turns red and Ivalien’s full name and credentials show on the screen.

Tim: “It’s for you.”

Tim turns on his heel and begins to show Mark some of the specification to the equipment used. Ivalien moves to the panel, entering his passcode a middle-aged man of around 90-years-old appears on the screen, black hair and a grey eye aside one brown.

Ivalien: “Hello, can I help you?”
Cdr. Ryu: “So you are Ivalien Idonea. Your accommodation is in high regard by Timothy, has he told you about the project?”
Ivalien: “He has commander and I am very glad to be considered an asset in your project.”
Ryu: “That is most excellent, glad to hear you in good spirit on the matter. Let Tim relay anything he has not and later I will meet you in your lab. Sound good to you?”
Ivalien: “It absolutely does, sir.”
Ryu: “Excellent, see you this afternoon, close link.”

The comlink ends and the screen returns to displaying general planetary information.

Ivalien: “What the hell is, close link?”
Tim: “The com gets more impressive downstairs.”
Ivalien: “Holy Mary, mother of God, we’ve struck oil!”

Ivalien and Mark rejoice in their success award, screams of celebration, and soon revel with reluctant Tim who smiles until they calm. They laud themselves as they part, they humble brag to each other as they walk thru the halls to the receptionist desk.

Ivalien: “Have you heard, we’re special people now, working with commander Ryu, and I would love for you to be seen with me at the gala, if you give me your com addy we can talk it over.”
Lara: “Well, since you asked so nicely.”
Ivalien: “I’m as nice as a gen-cat.”

Her last name showing on her sleeve, after pausing she holds her phone and sends her credentials to his, it beeps making him smile.

Ivalien: “Big day, but I’ll call tonight.”
Lara: “I’ll see you soon.”

Her pleasing voice warms both of their emotions as they depart, the elevator doors open allowing them to enter, they put their hands on the security panels, as the door closes Ivalien looks upon his com-device.

Ivalien: “Sublevel 76 A, oh my fucking god, look at this.”
Mark: “Let’s see, she lives on the other side of the circle and she has regular shit cats.”
Ivalien: “No, you missed by a long shot; she sent me a picture with her number.”
Mark: “Sharing is caring.”

Holding the bar Ivalien leans and shows his phone to Mark, the picture is of Lara holding, not wearing, her dress in front of herself. As they enjoy the many forms of good news the reach level 76, but the elevator’s white walls turn red. With confusion they wait silently as the walls return to being white, a message on the doors reads what they have never seen, ‘Secure Transport: Destination Sublevel 110’.

Mark: “I always thought each hive only went to 100?”
Ivalien: “New security clearance, new secrets, we’ll probably have to get new vacx.”
Mark: “If we meet anyone named Dante, I will shit my Sunday best.”

A pleasant tone sounds and the doors open, beyond the elevator is a larger hall of white several floors tall, filled with all the recreations a VIP would demand, trays of delicious algae that regrow to fill their containers minutes after servings, juice trees, fungal cell meats, all common in officer quarters but lavish nonetheless. Physical entertainment, virtual reality pads and visors, robotic arms that play tennis or racket ball or handball, recreational hover bikes and hover trikes, military defense vehicles and weaponry and firearms typically outlawed to even the wealthiest of enthusiasts. It marks Ivalien’s mind as a retreat for the military elite, how a place like this would help his social stature.

Ryu: “Gentleman, welcome to the nest, come, come, we shall discuss what I shall put to you!”

Among the people, two seemingly irrelevant guards thought to be passing them, approach Ivalien and Mark.

Guard: “Hold up your hands for your markers.”

They hold up their hands and the guards use a demarcation device to pull their tracker nodes from beneath the skin of their hands. A beep sounds and three seconds pass, then a pass of air while clasping his marked hand, the device painfully removes the beacon from their hands. The guards give the devices to assistants and take jet injectors, immediately inoculating them.

Ivalien: “What was that, a new vacx?”
Ryu: “No, we’re not in the habit of saving the lives of our new test subjects.”

Feeling woozy, the two freshman scientists begins to fight, Ivalien pulls his arm from the guard’s grasp, he elbows the sentinel in the stomach, but in doing so barely and without effect he succumbs to darkness and sleep, the floor the last he sees.

| Moonlight Sonata | 3/3
17A “Integument"  
17B “Subcutaneous”
17C “Extraction”