Another One of My Many Projects…



“Ehhh…I’ll raise ya ten.” Said Johnson, throwing in another bill. The other men around him clapped and banged him on the back with enthusiasm. 

Chauvez, who had already lost seventy-two dollars this evening and was determined not to lose another twenty, folded with a dry laugh. Johnson confidently eyed Wheckner from across the table.

The crew of the Challenger had set out twenty-four hours before. They were making good progress. Luke was at the helm, steering through the terrain, while the other three crewmates had broken out a deck of cards and were playing poker. 

Wheckner’s expression was unreadable. He looked at his cards with a straight face and stopped now and then to stare at the cards laid down on the board. He cursed, and then threw his cards down on the table. He stood up and left the room. Johnson chuckled. 

“Looks like today’s my lucky day…” He grinned, leering at the two remaining losers. “Either of you up for another match?” Not waiting for an answer, he gathered the pot and scooped it into a bag on his waist. He strode out of the room.

Chauvez laughed a dry, grim chuckle. Although there were more than a few chores to do as maintenance throughout the day, they still found time to entertain themselves. They’d reach their destination in a few days, and then they would take a longer, alternate route back.

Luke had been in the helm of the vehicle this entire time, steering throughout the terrain. He had had a slight debrief at the hangar, so he possessed only the rudimentary skills of piloting the Challenger. However, they had made the controls jet-style, which made the controls more intuitive to his trained fingers.

The land was barren and empty. Overgrown foliage and broken-down buildings adorned the once-great streets, now decimated by nature. The roads were carved and torn up. Asphalt littered the ground like decaying cookie crumbs. The vines added a primal look to the scene. They had been lucky enough to evade Cryoxes thus far, but no one could predict how long that would last. 

Luke let his mind wander. He let his thoughts drift out, and presently he found himself staring into the face of Olivia Idelis. She looked at him confidingly. 

“You shouldn’t have to do this, Luke.” Said the phantom. Luke knew that she meant it. “I wish you were home with me. We hardly get to see each other.”

“I know,” he said to the phantom. “I wish I were with you, too.” The phantom image of Olivia smiled again. 

“I love you.” It said. Luke wished he could reach out, take her hand in his. He wished more than anything that he could be with her.

“I love you.” He repeated to the phantom. The phantom of Olivia smiled once again, and then disappeared. Luke shook himself and focused on the road. No, he hadn’t fallen asleep, but he was certainly daydreaming. 

Suddenly, he felt tired. He had a feeling that he would fall asleep if he stayed up any longer. He smashed down the button labeled “autopilot” on the control panel and left the cockpit. Skirting the hallway and advancing to the right, he walked into his temporary quarters. It wasn’t very extravagant or large, but contained a dresser with two Purifier Exosuits and a cot on the far side of the wall. He flopped onto the open bed and closed his eyes. He pulled the covers over his head and eventually fell asleep. 


The Hunter followed the beasts. They moved fast, but he moved faster. Darting from branch to branch, he kept the speed of the loping Cryoxes for the better part of an hour. 

After some time, however, the Cryoxes abruptly stopped. The Hunter stopped as well in the jungle treetops above, breathing heavily. They had apparently stopped before an open, barren plain. It has seemed that war or famine had transpired here, for the grass was brown and withered and there were no animals about. He sat down on the branch, catching his breath. At length, the Cryoxes, who had all this time been silent, shuffled about as one taller and more majestic than the others made its way through the huddled mass.

This particular Cryox had blended crystal-blue and blood-red armor, and it had six eyes instead of the usual four. However, it was half as large in size as the rest of them.

The Hunter glowered in disgust. An abomination. Not like they all weren’t, but this one especially was. An amalgamation of blood and water, and less life-giving than either. The Hunter watched as it strode to the front of the pack. Its afrmoree ears perked up, as if listening to an inaudible song. There was complete and total silence in the next thirty seconds that followed. The Hunter found himself holding his breath. 

Suddenly, the song seemed to come to an abrupt end. The once-silent Cryoxes erupted into a loud roar, loud and terrible. It sounded terrible yet resonant, harmonic yet chaotic. Immediately after, the beasts broke into a loping run back from where they came, crashing through the forest.

The Hunter cursed. There was something afoot here, more sinister and evil than just the Cryoxes themselves. He’d seen Cryoxes formed from many liquid substances, mostly water, many blood, some even oil. But a hybrid? That was unheard of. 

Could it have something to do with the New Liberators?


Deep underground, the New Liberators worked. They snuck and schemed, they laid traps, they plotted their revenge. They were not many: some hundreds, nothing more. But they were the few, the chosen. They had been elected to free humanity from their binding ignorance. They would elevate the Cryoxes, the ascended ones, to their rightful place in society. Man and beast would live harmoniously together. 

Or so Dr. Makken was told.

“A load of hokey, if you ask me.” He had said. “A well-concocted lie. I’ve never heard a more disgusting untruth in my entire career.”

However, it wouldn’t matter if he proclaimed these truths to his captors now, so he said them to himself in his underground lab-prison. 

“Poppycock.” He was saying to himself. “The bloody idiots are deluded. Those monsters are obviously dangerous.” Since his abduction some time ago, it was his privately held belief that he was going slightly insane. He was hopelessly waiting for some foolish rescue party to stumble into the New Liberator headquarters, drop by for tea and summarily break him out. He didn’t exactly care, but he didn’t have peace of mind knowing that his inventions were being contributed to the cause of the new world order, in which “man and beast lived harmoniously together”. To Dr. Makken, it was all eggs in moonshine, and he proceeded to curse them again under his breath. He always acted like there was someone in the room.

However, none of this stopped him from working with them, if against his will. He’d been abducted and brought here some years ago. They had him use his scientific expertise to create antidotes and medical remedies. Dr. Makken had done so all these years, fearful of his life. However, he took great pride in the fact that he knew more about the Cryoxes than any other man living, even the New Liberators. He never missed a chance to remind them of this. However, in secret, he hoped that one day he’d be rescued, or allowed to escape, and he’d share his findings with his colleagues in the city. 

Instead, at least for the time being, he was stuck. So much of the time he was unoccupied and bored, left without a scientific project to complete. The New Liberators were utterly callused, and they never spoke to him. To them, he was just a tool, a means to an end. 

“I’ll prove them otherwise.” Mumbled Dr. Makken, rubbing his hands together. To bide the time, he had taken to talking to himself. His ego was great, and so was his social hunger: he found himself a smart, understanding, agreeable companion.

Suddenly, the door opened. In walked a man dressed in a light black cloak and cowl. He said nothing, but handed the doctor an envelope. Makken sneered at him and took it.

“What’s this?” he mocked. “Christmas cards? Fan mail? Pay?”

The acolyte, seeming not to notice, spun on his heel and went out, not before Makken had thrown another curse in his direction. After the man had left, the doctor assumed a sitting position, holding the letter with both hands. He smiled spitefully and wondered what they might be up to this time. 


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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