Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Uplift Protocol Blood Feuds: Issue 10



Issue 10: Twilight Dawning


            I am not strong enough to take on the Banner one-on-one but I can isolate J’ino. I just have to gain a hold on something or someone she cares about. –X’mil

            It is not likely we can take someone close to J’ino hostage. They will be looking for such an opening. X’mil is nothing but predictable. I have files on his training with the All-Mother and her assessment is key: He is a man with one drive. That need to dominate J’ino Ayeer will destroy him. Might as well make use of the chaos around that.—Snake Charmer

            All the parts of the whole were converging upon us. From friends to enemies. Each thread reached out to draw in blood, bone, and body. Our spirits. Our souls would prove stronger. Such is the future.—Sleeping in Starlight: Shield World’s End

Paradise Falls

Seaside City of Kalum

April 30th, 2136


         I circled the city.

The wind was a special treat. Yes, it was artificial but the way it hit my face? It was like drinking in sunlight. I landed next to my ship. My parents descended via mid-lift. Another added feature. No longer a mid-range scout ship but a midline ship of the wall. I walked towards them. A welcoming smile was plastered on my face. Lorain noticed first. She dropped the black case she was holding. Mom was faster.

My mother paled. Her arms reached out. She cradled my face. My HUD went wild.  




Past. Present. Future. It repeated endlessly. I clutched my head.

Phase upon the Endless Shield World. My mouth opened. A silent scream pushed from my chest.

Three sets of hands held me in place. My fingers clamped onto the metal of the lading bay. Warped it. I wanted to yell at them. To tell them to back away but Doc’s power flowed through me. My muscles silenced. I could only hear the dull thud of my heart. A face rose from the mist between life and death. I blinked. Watched as he stalked my mother. I knew that form. Each line. X’mil’s muddy dark eyes glinted yellow along the edges. All at once: The Past beckoned. The Present terrified. The Future filled with promise. I saw all this in a blink of an eye.

Within the halls of the old Area 51, he whined.

//RII\\ burned through my brain.



            X’mil flushed. He waved one fat finger at the holoscreen, “I demand that we recall Ambassador Ayeer back to the homeworld. “ The golden and black eyes of the Coms Officer glazed over. From boredom or loathing? X’mil couldn’t tell. No one respected him. He shoved the traitorous thought away. Paced about the room. A caged ra’tat.

He whirled as the officer replied stiffly, “As noted by the rulers….”

            X’mil cut the holo mid-sentence.

            He shivered as a cold wave hooked into his spine.


            I followed X’mil through the shadowed corridors of Area 51. The past was a pale illumination against the brightness of the present. The future often came to me in wispy threads. I could hear X’mil’s mutters. Not audibly. Not through Typherian means. I realized with a shock that I could hear him by phasing through his corrupted shell.

Eliza Odessen’s remark came to me then, “Whatever we Weave Speakers touch? We get echoes. Impressions. Some, like myself or Anna, are highly sensitive to such things. With you? Once awakened? Only the Highest can tell.”

I slid into X’mil. Watching through his eyes.


            X’mil threw himself at the All-Mother’s remote droids. Tanarkan’s oily air burned his lungs. The holo image on its metallic face changed. He giggled. J’dax Ayeer lay dead at X’mil’s feet. He twirled his knives. Bowed towards the doorway as the All-Mother smirked. Her voice warmed, “You have potential.”

            X’mil’s chest heaved. His face twisted. It was a requirement. He could no longer mind speak. Damn that J’ino. The remembered pain along his spine. As they took all ability from him. He presented his arms. The hot brand marks rose on his wrists as she clamped down on him. Those black whips marked him as one of the Dark Shamans. There were other layers. Just as their side had the Light. The deeper dark would open up to him.

It spoke to him. He would take all that J’ino loved. Burn it to ash! He would become one of the Aspects. Of the Undying Realm. A necromancer. This was the first step. He would be a dark star among pale listless clouds. Greater than the All-Father. Unity would serve him. He embraced the pain as his wrists wept Black Scrawl. His soul was forfeit. J’ino had made it so. His cousin. Those who controlled Typha would pay. All of the matriarchs would pay. Ayeer most of all. He prostrated himself before the rulers of Tanarkan. All of it was lies.

He would burn them all.

Earth (Eternal Empire Universe)

Tower of the Eternal

May 21th, 2120

            X’mil peered into Mordred’s brown eyes. He was emaciated. His chest was hooked to the walls via implants. Tubes. Probes. Medical syringes were forced into his flesh. A mass of scar tissue bisected him from chest to stomach. Those hooded orbs locked onto X’mil, “You will suffer in silence. Death one step behind. That which you hate most will unravel you. That bright spectacle.”

            X’mil snarled. “Seems to me you have it worse. Human.” He spat the last word. All of his spite poured into it like a second skin. Mordred wheezed. X’mil’s face reddened. It was laughing. At him. He reared back. His fist angled to strike Mordred’s jaw. The Typherian howled as bright sparks of pain brought him to his knees. A blonde woman glided in. She gripped his chin. His feet dangled. A hideous strength flowed through that feminine host. X’mil’s necromantic senses revealed the hideous truth. Unity’s madness glittered within. It hurled X’mil from the Tower.

            His eyes rolled to the back of his head.

            The power of a Dark Shaman failed him.

            Instead of a bright white light? A hellish red landscape met his screams.

            Pitch black bones gripped his arms and legs and carried him under.

            Mordred’s faint laughter followed.

            We are all damned.

            You most of all.


            I bolted upright. A wet cloth fell into my lap.

            The lights of the medical wing were darkened.

I expected Lorain. The heartbeat pulsing against my senses said differently. My father took the cloth and placed it on the shelving unit beside the medical pod. We didn’t need to submerge into blue gel anymore. Now? I could be bombarded with healing bursts. He pushed me back onto the medical table. I was still in my Banner uniform. Dad noted, “You’d figure you wouldn’t be the number one patient yet….”

I snorted, “My home away from home. It's like my invincibility isn’t an asset.”

I know I shouldn’t complain but a small part of me needed to vent.

Dad leaned back in the chair by the pod. “Not when it comes to astral projection.” He tapped my arm with a plasma cutter. Not even a mark on my suit. The cutter died with a snap-hiss. The metallic blade retracted into the hilt.I stuck out my tongue, “Just think, it all started with the Cabal! Those were the days!”

Dad shook a finger at me. Admonishment etched across his features.

I got the point and replied, “I know! I wasn’t as immune then either!” Those silver disks of Thoth’s came to mind. We were dealing with demonic forces. Magical-based demis were well aware of such activity. Via the Arcane Order. My future self. I heard Lorain enter. Mom alongside. I pushed myself off the pod. X’mil’s screams were fresh within my mind.

I said, “What does the Order have on Necromancers?”

Dad moved to pull mom into an embrace, “Nothing good.”

I linked into ArcaneNet. Used my clearance level.

Proctor Gansys’ worried tone filled the pickup.

<< It's bad enough Sunset Showdown has a minor dispute with one.>>

Data followed.

///Necromancers: Soul Shards so depleted they are slaves. Where High Clerics may call upon the Highest form of Divinity? Necromancers are the broken coil of Unity’s dominion.///

The next line made the blood drain from my face.

///To the flesh golems of Unity. I’kathan of the Lidless. The soul is bound. To be tormented upon true death. As payment for unnatural long life. A price in flesh is the least of a practitioner's worries.///

My mind flashed to that gangly pulsating ring of flesh around the caged Earth. The construct that Unity had kept me enthralled. Lorain's arms wrapped around me. She set me back down on the pod. If there was anything left of X’mil? They were made to bore into the flesh. Past the body. Down to the soul shard itself. Dad’s voice reached me, “He made his choice. You cannot prevent all Evils.”

I replied, “Choice. I wish this power had not come to me.”

It was a reflexive statement. I knew what I wanted deep down. Dad said, “I know but I am glad you have it.” The honesty and faith of that statement were a balm. After I had awoken within the Crystal Coffin? I had worried. That same thought ran through my head. Why had the Highest given me all this? Besides the baseline demi powers. In every instance, my brother had greater control. Knowledge. Battle prowess.

I shook my head,” Dexter would have been a better choice.”

My brother took a moment to interject along the Family line, >>You are mistaken. We are a pair remember? You have the compassion. I deal in death. You bring about life. Balance. I am a Sword. You are the Shield. Or didn’t all the iconography of the Highest get through?<<

I bit back a laugh. Mom interjected, “He’s right. Can’t have one without the other!”

I blurted out, “All I wanted was to pilot my ship. Explore the cosmos!”

Create a legacy. Add one more light to the world. The Universe.

Mom ruffled my hair, “You are. We just have a few Demonic Beach Heads to cleanse.”

Lorain dragged me from the medical unit, “I am taking her to the mess hall. Call back in about 6 hours.”

Dad raised his hand, “Mind the balloons.”

I pursed my lips. The puzzled expression made Lorain crack a faint smile, “You’ll see!”


            Gwen retreated as Teddy brought his mace down. Both weapons hissed as they bounced off one another. The energy was in the form of an ancient style fail mace. When fully ignited it could eat through metal, flesh, and bone. Anna noted the bout with critical eyes, “Gwen. You overextended.” Teddy was going easy on her. Now that her Weave Speaker abilities were uncorked, they could proceed with the finer points of training. Anna chewed on the inside of her lip.

            Why had the Highest let the girl stew within the shadow of those Apex Owls for so long?

            Eliza Odessen limped forward, her voice quiet, “To sharpen her senses towards that particular pair.” Anna grimaced. “When did you get here?” The older woman cocked her head. “Only within the past hour. Here to help create a proper buffer for our newest allies.” Anna tilted her head back until the bones cracked. Odessen observed, “Might want to get that checked out.”

            Anna noted, “I have quite a few rain checks to cash in.”



            Lorain pounded the table.

Her wheezing laughter brought a goofy grin to my face.


Nothing but cakes on the Mess Hall table. One for each year I had been inside the Crystal infused garden. She held up a fork. The chocolate-covered triple-layered whipped cream monstrosity threatened to encompass all the calories known to mankind. I had globs of cake on my white shirt. My black sweatpants were dotted with white cream. Doc had opened this scenario with one swift throw of confectionery delights. I opened my mouth and she tossed another morsel toward me. She had one slice. I consumed the rest. Her smile widened when she brushed that last bit of cake off my lips.

Hands on my hips I blurted out, “Nothing like having 20 years of birthdays….”

Lorain took my hand and guided me from the Mess Hall.

To our quarters.

She pushed me towards the refresher.

Happy birthday to me.


X’mil drank.

The unnatural concoction burned his throat.

The stimulants kept him from sleeping. Dreams were the mind-killer. That fall from the tower danced behind his eyelids every time he attempted a natural cycle. The tradeoff had been worth it. The soft call of seagulls combined with the tranquil crash of waves made his eyelids heavy.

I’kathan’s bloated flesh flowed over his body.

His soul shard quailed from the trespass. Its oily appendages coiled tighter, “Servant. Find the Urraden. Kill her. For us.” The flesh tightened. Burrowed behind his eyes. Into his lungs. Like a glove. A violation.

He leaned forward. Jerked awake despite the regulated breeze.

This planet was kept at a pleasant 70 degrees. He shivered. The black scrawl clawed about his stomach. Find them. Destroy them. For us.

For Mother.

Desiccated hands coiled about his spine.


He doubled over as the pain took him. Voices melted together. Tar dripped from the callused mouths, “You are forfeit.”


            Pyra observed from the terrace above. Her eyes darted to the entity clamped upon X’mil’s scarred back. It left black marks. In the shape of fingers. No bigger than hers. She covered a hand over her mouth and dashed for the refresher. Some gifts were not worth the trade. Medusa leaned over. Her mouth tightened. Her brother’s plan would work. It had to. She’d hide behind Eliza Murphy if need be. That’s what girl scouts like that were good for. They had mercy. They’d protect.

            Enemies. Friends. Family.

            She counted on it.

            Because Good, with that Capital G, had standards.

            Snake Charmer fiddled with the blaster at his hip.

            Soon this charade would be at an end.

            “One way or another.”

Issue 9: Here

Issue 11: Here

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