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The Five Brothers Part 1/Chapter 4

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Old 06-23-2009, 02:15 PM
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Default The Five Brothers Part 1/Chapter 4


sorry for this one being so long

The wound in Derek’s side was much worse than he had first thought. The laser bolt had not simply grazed his side, but penetrated it, tearing through his internal organs before emerging on the other side. The medical team was amazed he was even alive after he had galloped through the forest with his life leaking out of a hole in his side. They had to secure a special transport for him to get him to a real hospital in time. After a frantic operation the doctors had stuck him in a specialized healing chamber as soon as he was stabilized. Derek had never liked the chambers much. He felt like something at the aquarium and half expected people to walk up and tap on the glass. Cris would have, just to annoy him.


Derek had a lot of time to think as he lay there. He thought a lot about Cris initially. He had never lost a friend in this war and now that he had, it was hard to recover from it. Eventually he decided to stop thinking about it. Cris had known the risks of joining the military just like he had. They had risked their lives on a regular basis; it was only a matter of time before one of them finally lost. Nathan had almost been killed as well. That was something Derek could never allow to happen again. He was willing to accept losses, just like every other officer was, but Derek would not tolerate his friends dying again. Derek’s soldiers relied on him to get them home again alive, not in coffins. And that was what he was going to do.

Inevitably his thoughts turned to Sera. He couldn’t help but thinking that all of it had been a lie. All the things they had done and said, just a lie to get her a story. But then, he had lied too. Nothing but lies between them. What did that leave him with then, if their entire relationship was based on falsehoods? He had hoped that if she actually met him in person she would be convinced to just leave him alone instead of following him around everywhere like the other reporters did. But then she had shown up at that battle on Canopus. Afterward the story and the footage had been spread all over the kingdom. Naturally Sera and her cameraman had become very famous because of it as well. Derek almost wanted to hate her for it, for using him like that, just to get her little bit of fame. But every time he thought about her he found that he simply liked her too much to hate her. Despite everything she had done, he simply could not bring himself to do it; there was just something about her.

Prime Minister Racelle Acrux smiled with satisfaction as another session of Parliament came to an end. They had voted additional funds for the Ministry of Intelligence and Special Forces, which was under her supervision. She needed more funding to support the advanced training program they were instituting and Parliament had been more than happy to supply it. Thus far the Special Forces had been performing admirably, scoring numerous crucial victories against the Imperial forces. With a nearly flawless performance record it had been easy to convince Parliament to part with more funds for the department. As Acrux walked down a spacious hallway to her office she saw General Anyon coming toward her and frowned with impatience. The General cared more about his self-image and political career than he did about actually accomplishing anything important. Thanks to officers like him it was becoming increasingly difficult to find trustworthy and effective military leadership. General Anyon had already spotted her though, so it was too late to turn around and escape him. She had no choice but to tolerate the idiot for now. Sometimes she wished her family had never lost the throne five centuries earlier to the current monarchy. As it was, her family was now just another noble family under the rule of the king. So, she had no choice but to forget that she was descended from Imperial royalty and play politics like everyone else in Parliament.

General Anyon saluted then instantly launched into his tirade, which Acrux listened patiently to while wishing to be anywhere in the galaxy but there.

“He stole a tank, Prime Minister, a tank!” The General ranted. “Colonel Ursus is the face of this military, we can’t let him tarnish our image just because he wants to go joyriding! The military can’t tolerate this, this, reckless behavior any more! Ursus needs to get back in line and do as he’s told before he wrecks our public relations! He can’t get away with whatever he wants just because he’s famous.”

“Our recruiting numbers doubled after that footage of him on Canopus was released, don’t forget that General.”

“Which brings me to my second point Prime Minister,” Anyon continued, and Prime Minister Acrux had to fight not to roll her eyes. “We need to pull Colonel Ursus off the front lines as quickly as possible.”

“Off the front lines?” Acrux said, “Why would we take one of our best officers away from the front lines?”

“Colonel Ursus’s purpose is to be the image of the military; if he gets killed we can only use him as a martyr for so long before the public tires of it. We make more money and recruit more soldiers while that man is alive. So, Prime Minister, it would be best if we kept Ursus as far away from danger as possible and under control.”

Acrux’s eyes narrowed. “Ursus is under control General, what are you implying?”

“That your officer was able to steal a tank and got nothing worse than a reprimand for it! Get your dog back on his leash and off the front lines! If you can’t get that dog under control then we’ll have no choice but to demote him and throw him into the army with the rest of the rank and rile and keep him stationed where we want.”

“Colonel Ursus will be taken care of General, don’t worry,” Prime Minister Acrux assured him. General Anyon looked skeptical, but didn’t rant any further. He saluted and left the Prime Minister in peace. She stood in the hallway for a while, thinking over the situation, then went to her office and sent a message for Colonel Ursus to be summoned.

Derek responded to the Prime Minister’s summons quickly like the almost ever obedient marine that he was. The Prime Minister’s tone of preparing to lecture him had practically oozed out of the summons sent to him, and he didn’t like that. Acrux was so good at lecturing, him in particular. Though, granted, he had definitely earned this one. Barely a week out of the hospital and he had taken a state-of-the-art tank joyriding around the base. He tried to console them with the information that their huge metal monster of doom handled beautifully and the cannons were top-notch, but he still got in trouble. The poor technicians almost had heart attacks on the spot. Rambling on and on about “unauthorized access” and “target practice is only to be conducted under supervision in designated areas.” So, he had probably stepped on too many toes this time around. Colonel Ursus straightened his uniform and smartly presented himself in the Prime Minister’s office to receive his usual slap on the wrist for misbehavior.

“Colonel Ursus, do you have any idea how much trouble you caused with this?”

“I do, and I apologize Prime Minister, I meant no harm.”

“Meant no harm?” Acrux scoffed at the teenager. “You stole a tank! A brand new tank that just came out of testing and you went joyriding in it like some drunken teenager!”

“I did apologize Prime Minister, my behavior was inexcusable.” Derek did his best to remain calm. He hated being called a teenager, it always had a negative connotation, and it irritated him. Acrux, meanwhile, had resumed her usual manner of calm patience. Whether he tried to or not the poor woman seemed to have a great deal of difficulty maintaining that manner whenever she talked to him about his misdeeds. Or when she talked to him in general. Somehow Derek was always a source of frustration for the poor Prime Minister.

“Now, Colonel Ursus, due to the recent events on Canopus I think it would be best if you were re-stationed here on Antares for a while. We had a very close call with you being wounded and the military doesn’t want its “perfect soldier” getting killed.”

“I won’t go,” Derek replied, “I am a marine and marines belong on the front lines Prime Minister. I enlisted to fight the Imperials, not be some worthless desk jockey! My place is with my men out there on the battlefield, not in a press conference.”

“Colonel Ursus,” Acrux said as though she were trying to be as patient as possible, “You are a vital part of the war effort and an excellent officer. However, you also seem to find it entertaining to break the rules in as many ways as possible while relying on your influence to keep you out of trouble. Your devotion to your soldiers, while admirable, has gotten you into a great deal of trouble this time Colonel.”

Derek raised an eyebrow. “I’m not sure I quite understand you, madam.”

“Of course you do,” Acrux smiled, “You have no idea how to drive a tank, and you never have. Just because they found you in the tank doesn’t mean you were the one who stole it in the first place.” A smile twitched at the corner of Derek’s mouth and Acrux went on, “I appreciate that you were protecting your subordinate Colonel, but the brass’ tolerance of your behavior has worn thin. They want you back on your leash and off the lines Colonel and I’m not able to argue with them.”

“I want to fight, Prime Minister, not sit on the sidelines. I won’t have it.”

“Colonel, I understand, but you can’t fight the brass on this and if you make them angry enough they will discharge you whether you like it or not and you won’t be able to fight at all.”

“Yes, I will.”


Acrux stared at Derek over her desk at the determination in his face. He really meant it, just let them push him and see how much. The Prime Minister sat back in her chair in defeat, rubbing her temples.

“Alright Colonel, I have a proposition for you.”

“I’m listening.”

“The ministry is putting together an elite team of commandos to act as intelligence operatives. Infiltration, information retrieval, sabotage, assassination. Would you be interested?”

Derek smiled. “I would, yes.”

“Good. So, you will join this team, you will be off the front lines since technically you will be behind them instead, and everyone gets what they want.”

“And how do you benefit from all this Prime Minister?”


Acrux straightened from her chair and walked around the desk to stand in front of him. “I get a competent general and the brass gets off my back about you behaving yourself. Good enough, General?”

Derek smiled, he loved the title already. “Good enough, madam.”

“You enjoy having authority, don’t you?”

Derek shook his head. “No, I love having authority.”

“I thought that was it,” Acrux mumbled. Derek thought the older woman really looked her age sometimes, especially when Derek was giving her undue frustration. She swept a hand over her neatly arranged gray hair to make sure it was still in place, then sat on the corner of her desk.

“I’ll handle the politicians and the paperwork for this; you just need to learn how to behave yourself for a few days until your rank and transfer go into effect. Can you handle that?”

“I will manage, I think.”

“I’m glad to hear it. I did my best to get that footage of the Canopus engagement edited before the press released it. It took a lot of effort, but I managed to convince them to restrict themselves to just writing about the casualties instead of showing it over and over.”

“I appreciate that,” Derek said, and he meant every word of it. The last thing he wanted was the entire kingdom watching his friend die and left to lie in the mud.

“It was no trouble, you deserved at least that,” Acrux said, “That is all then, you’re dismissed.

Derek snapped a salute and turned to leave the office, then stopped short at the door as a thought occurred to him.
“Prime Minister, about that team, would you mind if I brought some friends?”

“Friends?” The Prime Minister thought about it for a moment. “That should be fine, so long as they understand what they’re getting into and I approve the list.”

A beep came from the Prime Minister’s desk and she walked around to her computer. Pushing a button the voice of Acrux’s secretary came into the room.

“Major Gara from intelligence is here to see you.”

“Alright, send her in.”

Acrux sighed. “You know, sometimes I wish I had a different job.” Derek smiled sympathetically, but her next question threw him off guard. “What do you wish?”

“What?”

“What do you wish, Colonel? Young people always have a million wishes.”

“I suppose-” Derek paused for a moment, “I wish I wasn’t an orphan.”

The Prime Minister stared at him for a long while and Derek suddenly realized what he had said. Behind him he heard the door open and Major Gara stepped in.

“I’m sorry, I should be going.” Derek said quickly, saluted both the major and the Prime Minister, and left.


Derek decided that before he ran off to be a secret agent or whatever it was the government was turning him into, he needed to see Sera. It was the only way to find out what her true intentions had been. If it had all just been an act to get what she wanted. But still, he couldn’t really hold it against her for lying to him. After all, he had lied to her too. But it was still hard to forgive her for it, especially since she had done it to use him. Derek only lied to protect his own privacy. Being in the spotlight all the time made it hard to have any privacy at all.

Mostly he just wanted to see Sera to set things right between them. And he wished to get away from the base for a while. The promotion Derek had gotten was nice, but that combined with Sera’s “interview” and footage of him had the military brass adoring him more than ever despite his recent misdeeds. It was rather annoying really, even if there were even fewer actual brass that outranked him now. The press was just as irritating too and they insisted on trying to follow him everywhere. He had to spend most of his time just trying to hide from people. The whole thing got on his nerves, wholly interfering with his intentions of enjoying his higher rank as much as possible. So, after a great deal of trouble and creativity Derek escaped all parties trying to pester him and set off to talk to Sera.

He found the building where she worked easily and after scanning the directory, found what floor she was on. After sending word to Sera he wanted to see her, he sat and waited outside her office, trying to figure out what to say.

Sera looked at the note her secretary had given her, her blue eyes quickly scanning it.

“What’s his name?”

The secretary shrugged. “He didn’t say. Just said he needed to speak to you and that it’s urgent.”

“All right, send him in then.” Sera said, and leaned back into her chair. She wondered who this random man calling at her office was. She really didn’t get visits from people very often before that last story she had done on the battle on Canopus. Maybe this one was just another businessman wanting her to endorse something again. Whatever she had been expecting, it wasn’t what walked through her door.

“General!” She jumped up in surprise, nearly knocking her desk over and a few wavy strands of light brown hair flying in her face. General Ursus? Here? What could he want? He must be mad at her because of the piece she had done, he certainly didn’t look very happy when he saw her on Canopus. She started edging around the desk towards him, trying to avoid another embarrassing collision. He, meanwhile, was simply standing there, looking absolutely wonderful in his uniform, and not saying a word.

“Did I come at a bad time?” He finally asked, the sound of his voice nearly making Sera melt on the spot. “I could come back.”

“Oh no, it’s fine,” Sera insisted. “Is something wrong? You said this was urgent.”

General Ursus’s fingers fidgeted a little, but otherwise he stood calmly looking at her.

“Not wrong, exactly, I just wanted to talk to you. About what happened on Canopus and Kapteyn.”

Sera’s stomach dropped with a sickening thud. He was angry with her after all. Just as the General opened his mouth, Sera burst out: “I’m sorry!”
Ursus froze, his mouth still open, and looked at her in surprise.

“What I did, I’m sorry.” She continued. “When I started talking to you, I really was just pretending to be nice to get that interview out of you. I lied to you to get you to talk to me. I knew you wouldn’t have told me anything if I didn’t.”

Ursus’s mouth slowly closed, but he didn’t try to say anything. He just stood there. Sera felt guilt twisting in her gut and she wished he would just say something. She swallowed and began again.

“But after that, I genuinely wanted to know you, to be with you.”
Ursus remained silent, watching her.
“In all that time I spent with you, all the things we did, everything I said to you--I meant it. I may have had bad intentions at first, but there at the end, I promise I wanted to be your—your friend. I’m so sorry for what I did, I shouldn’t have deceived you like I did.”

Sera stared at her hands, unable to meet his eyes anymore. He still had not said a word and she felt like a fool, telling him all of this.
She felt a hand on her chin, gently lifting her face up to look into his eyes, and as she did she wanted to apologize for every wrong the universe had ever done to him.

“We both lied and we both meant every word of it.”
Sera started to object, but Ursus held a finger to her lips and she fell silent.
“But,” he continued, “I’m willing to give this a second chance if you are.”

Sera nodded, lost in those eyes. Did he have any idea what those green eyes could do to people? “Yes.”

Ursus smiled and Sera’s heart stopped completely. “Thank you,” he said, kissing her on the cheek. “And I’m sorry I lied to you.”

In the months that followed his visit to Sera’s office Derek spent his time being on his best behavior, waiting to be sent for his specialized training, and spending the rest of his time with Sera. He did not particularly care if everyone knew he was dating her. Though, it was somewhat of a shock, given his previous attitude towards reporters. Being with her had made him happier than he had been in a very long time. However, there was still a war to be fought, and the reports that the Imperials had put a bounty on the prominent members of the mercenary clans were very worrisome. A particularly hefty sum was on the head of every one of the Seren brothers as well. There was still no sign of them, and without them, Derek suspected that the war would be difficult, if not impossible for the Monarchy to win. There was also rumblings of unrest in the Parliament because of this and the military’s apparent lack of progress. The rumor of a spy in the navy did not help either. In all, things were not going well, and Derek was feeling the pressure to improve them.

Having gotten the Prime Minister’s approval to let some of his friends tag along with him, Derek went to go find some who were crazy enough to actually do it. He went to the naval base first, looking for a particular pair of pilots. Derek walked across the hanger, the voices of various teams of mechanics and engineers echoing through the cavernous building. He headed for a battle-scarred fighter on the far side that was undergoing repairs. One of the large engines had been opened and half gutted, a large toolbox and pile of parts sitting underneath it. From within the engine came various noises of the repairs being made peppered with human exclamations and a few sparks shot out from the top. Derek watched the sparks fly up, waited for the ensuing stream of angry ranting that followed it to cease, then reached up and knocked on the side of the engine.

“Lieutenant Aquila, are you in there?”

A grease-smeared and slightly singed face popped up from inside the engine with hazel eyes and dark blonde hair attached to it. The Lieutenant smiled broadly down at Derek and waved some sort of tool at him in greeting.

“Hello, General Ursus, what can I do for you?”

“Did you say General Ursus?” An almost identical voice from the other side of the fighter said, “His girlfriend is hot! Have you seen her?”
The owner of the voice appeared from the depths of the engine on the other side of the fighter beaming identically to the teenager in the first engine. He looked around to see who his brother was talking to and spotted Derek. His grin slipped and he looked very embarrassed.
“Sorry, General, I didn’t see you there.”

“It’s alright,” Derek said with a smile, “I couldn’t agree with you more.”

The second Lieutenant Aquila identical to the first cleared his throat and tried futilely to wipe some of the grease off his face. The two of them, Kraig and Kyle, were two of the most promising and talented pilots in the Navy. The only problem was that only one of them was actually a pilot. They were identical twins who found it enormously funny to switch places with one another on a regular basis. Kraig was supposed to be a mechanic while his brother was supposed to be the pilot. But since each twin was so good at doing what the other one did, no one could tell which one was really the pilot and which one was actually supposed to be the mechanic when they switched. After trying without any success to stop their antics or figure out which one was which the Navy gave up and left them to their own devices. So long as which ever one was the pilot and whichever one was the mechanic got things done the Navy wasn’t going to complain.

“So, what brings the famous General Ursus here?” Kraig asked. It would have been difficult to tell which one he was if it weren’t for Kyle very loudly talking about Derek’s girlfriend. Leave it to Kyle to shout across a hangar about things like that. Once he did that it wasn’t hard to tell who was who.

“The Prime Minister is starting up an advanced training program for commandos; I thought you two might be interested.”

“Commandos?” Kyle said from across the fighter. “You mean we’d get to jump behind enemy lines and wreak havoc and jump back out again?”

“Something along those lines,” Derek replied.

“Kraig, we should go!” Kyle said excitedly, waving a wrench at his brother. Kraig eyed the wrench warily as if concerned his brother might accidentally throw it.

“You think so?”

“General Ursus is going, I want to go too.”

“We’ll get to have guns.” Kraig said thoughtfully.

“Big guns, the best guns!” Kyle agreed. “And fun commando toys.”

“I love commando toys. They get all the best toys.”

“Toys?” Derek interrupted, “You call those toys?”
The twins ignored him, continuing their conversation over the length of the fighter.

“Do commandos get masks?” Kyle asked, his eyes searching the inside of the engine for the wrench, which he had dropped.
“All the best commandos wear masks.” Kraig said, as if he knew all about it.

“Who else is coming, it better not be boring people.”

“Who else have you talked into this?” Kraig asked Derek.

“Captain Arctursus so far.”

Kraig’s eyebrows raised a fraction and he peered over the edge of the engine down at Derek. “Really? Captain Arctursus is coming too?”

“I wouldn’t go without him.”

“We’re coming too then,” Kraig replied with a smile, his brother nodding his agreement.

The military scientists in their never-ending quest to create some elusive super soldier had, under the previous king, initiated a program called the Hellhound Project. The goal was simple: using genetic manipulation and advanced training the military would create soldiers able to perform far beyond the limits of normal humans. However, the scientists were never able to reach their goal. Human testing was disastrous and the government ordered the program terminated. Now, fifty years later, the program had been revitalized. Derek doubted Parliament knew a thing about what they were really up to though. Had the Prime Minister bothered to give them accurate information about the new training program for intelligence operatives they would have shut the whole thing down. Genetic manipulation was strictly regulated and the training Derek was undergoing to heighten his pain tolerance was rather unorthodox most of the time. Nathan Arctursus was in the program too, thanks to Derek half inviting half dragging him along for the ride.


Derek spotted him in the research building one day, wearing the same dull grey shirt with a number stenciled on it just like all the other soldiers in the program. Nathan’s number was 92, while Derek’s was 87, neither of which Derek found any significance in. They both entered the program at the same time. The numbers only had meaning to the scientists. Much to Derek’s disgust, he had discovered Captain Enif as well, a number 84 stenciled on the Captain’s chest. He found that endlessly irritating, as Enif insisted on implying he had seniority over Derek. Derek wanted nothing more than to test whatever his newly adjusted abilities would be on the Captain, but it did not seem likely.

“What are you doing here Captain?” Derek snapped at him as they moved through the line in the cafeteria.

“I’m with Navy Intelligence, remember? They sent me.”

“Shouldn’t you be back on your ship pretending to be a captain?”

A muscle twitched in Enif’s jaw and he grabbed a tray with undue ferocity. “Just because my cover is a ship captain doesn’t mean I do not know how to be one!”

Derek laughed, the Aquila twins behind him sniggering in unison, and Enif moved farther away from them down the line.

“So, how is Navy Intelligence doing these days?” Derek called down the line to him, ignoring Enif’s efforts to avoid him. “Isn’t there some spy running around you’re supposed to be catching?”

“Shut up.” Enif snarled, throwing a piece of fruit at Derek and moving off to find a table.

Derek was shown into a large lab room one day where a scientist and his assistants were waiting to begin the General’s genetic manipulation. The room’s centerpiece was a large medical table with extensions for his arms on either side. Derek relinquished his shirt to an assistant and lay on the table with his arms outstretched. The assistant put leather straps around his wrists attached to a short length of chain but left his legs unbound.

“The straps are to give you something to pull on,” The scientist explained, “This is the most painful of the procedures and you will want to hold on to something.”

“What will this be doing to me exactly?”

“First, it will adjust your height.”

Derek raised an eyebrow. “I’m too tall?”

The scientist shook his head. “No, not tall enough.”

“How tall are you trying to make me?” Derek asked incredulously. He was already taller than most people; he didn’t see why that needed improvement.

“We’ll see what we can get,” The scientist replied, picking up a file and looking down the list on it. “Besides the height, heat and cold tolerance will be heightened as well as stamina and adrenaline reserves. Increased strength, agility, and healing as well. If we’re lucky we should be able to reach the optimal level of cellular regeneration and tissue repair too. If all goes well, you should heal faster and better and you should be less prone to injury.”

Derek tugged experimentally on the straps, wondering just how painful all this was going to be. The scientist meanwhile produced a tray with a handful of syringes on it and put it on a table next to Derek.
“Are you ready?”

Derek nodded and the man picked up the first syringe, carefully pushing it into Derek’s neck. The General gritted his teeth as the syringe emptied its contents and the scientist retracted it. A second injection followed the first, this time in Derek’s arm, and it hurt twice as much. Finally, one of Derek’s arms was untied and he was rolled onto his side. The scientist took a third syringe and took a firm grip on Derek’s shoulder.

“This last one is the worst, brace yourself.”

No amount of bracing could have prepared Derek for the third injection. The needle went straight into his spine and the serum it injected into him felt like thousands of pins being shoved into his nerves. The assistants quickly turned him back onto his back and tied his wrist again as the three concoctions started to work. Derek’s arms strained against the restraints as pain coursed through his body. He could feel strange things happening, felt his legs growing longer, his very organs changing. The sensors on his chest and forehead frantically sent data to the computers the assistants were watching. Then, something went wrong. The computers started beeping warnings that could barely be heard over Derek’s screams of pain. The scientist yelled at the assistants, who yelled back, and the man grabbed another syringe from the tray. Derek was writhing in pain, his legs thrashing against the table. The assistants piled on his legs and torso to hold him down long enough for the scientist to get the syringe ready. He put a hand on Derek’s chest, holding him as best he could, then plunged the syringe down into Derek’s heart. A few seconds passed, then the warnings stopped and Derek calmed enough for the assistants to let him go.

In all, the agonizing procedure lasted a full half hour, and at the end of it Derek was completely exhausted. His only consolation was that the scientist said the serums had done exactly what they were supposed to and the procedure was a success. All that was left was a second procedure to heighten Derek’s senses and implant a few microchips into his brain that would give him all the targeting and sensor abilities his helmet normally would. Fortunately, the doctors were kind enough to put him under anesthesia for that one.

By the time they finished with him, Derek was as perfect a soldier the military had ever hoped for. Nathan and the other soldiers had undergone the same adjustments as Derek, but they never could get them as tall. That was an endless mystery to the scientists. No matter how hard they tried, none of the soldiers could be made as tall as Derek. At that point, Derek’s genetic and physical structure had been adjusted so much that had his parents known him it would be difficult for them to recognize him. He couldn’t help but wonder what effect all this would have. One can only mess with nature so much before it rebels, often in violent ways. There were already rumors of what had happened to the test subjects who had received unsuccessful genetic manipulation.

After months of tests and training, the scientists decided it was time to see how well their new soldiers did in a real combat situation. Thus far they had been restricted to holographic simulations, and they wanted to see how they fared against reality. When Derek heard the news he grinned in such a way as to make Nathan edge a safe distance away from him.

The soldiers were put in pairs, and then placed in a large empty room with a number of referees to ensure that things did not get out of hand. A group of scientists sat above them where they could observe unhindered. The two men below them stood in the center of the room, waiting for the signal to begin. Sparring partners were selected based on stats and performance reviews, but were listed only by number to prevent bias. One of the scientists pulled up the information on the two men below them pulling on their gloves. They looked fairly evenly matched, so the test should prove interesting.

“Who do we have for this round?” The woman next to him asked.

“Number 84 and 87 it looks like. Two of the best ones we have.”
Below them the referees were getting into place and the men were squaring off. Both were barefoot and wore padded boxing gloves to minimize the damage they could do to each other. Another scientist peered over the data, then down at the two men below them in alarm.

“Who put those two together?”

“I don’t know, it was just-”

“That’s Captain Enif and General Ursus; you can’t put them in the same room! They’ll rip each other apart, someone get down there and put a stop to this!”

“Too late,” the woman said. The referees had already signaled the men to begin and there was no stopping them.

Marc looked at Derek with a look of mild distaste while Derek cracked his knuckles. He glanced at the booth where the supervising scientists were sitting, then at the referees before leaning forward slightly to whisper to Marc.
“You know I can’t hold back this time.”

Marc nodded, watching the referees out of the corner of his eye. “I know.”

The referee walked over to tell them the rules, and the two quickly resumed their expressions of dislike. Once the ref finished, they shook hands briefly, then stepped back and waited for the ref to run to a safer position. He barely had time to get out of the way before it began. Marc leapt at Derek, slamming a punch into his face. Derek threw a kick at his side, but Marc jumped away and threw a kick of his own at Derek, hitting him in the head. As the fight wore on Derek performed well, but not nearly as well as Marc. He moved, it seemed, far too fast for Derek, scoring numerous blows. Marc swung at Derek, who caught his arm and slammed him into the floor. Marc had the wind knocked out of him long enough for Derek to land a few punches to his head. But Marc quickly recovered, kicking Derek in the stomach and leaping to his feet again. Marc punched Derek again; catching him in the side of the head, then threw another. Derek barely blocked it in time by grabbing Marc’s fist, but didn’t follow through.

“You said you wouldn’t hold back!” Marc hissed. “What are you afraid of?

Derek didn’t answer, throwing a punch at Marc’s midsection, which Marc easily blocked. The General reached up, grabbing Marc’s wrist and twisting his arm around behind his back while Derek grabbed hold of Marc’s neck with his other hand. But still, Derek did nothing more. He just held onto Marc, who was only half trying to escape.
“Come on Derek. Do it!” Marc whispered.
Derek hesitated for a moment, a frown twitching at the corners of his mouth.
“I’ll be fine,” Marc insisted, “Show them what you can really do.”

Finally Derek nodded and the tiniest of smiles crossed Marc’s face. He threw his elbow up into Derek’s jaw, forcing him to release his grip. Marc spun around so they were face to face again and Derek cut loose and just like Marc asked. In a blur of motion the General’s fist shot out and slammed into Marc’s face, sending him flying back. The two of them became a whirlwind of motion, blocking, punching, and kicking like never before. This time, Derek gave it everything he had, using his talents and newly acquired abilities to their full extent. He pummeled Marc without mercy and before long the Captain had a bloody and bruised face even worse than what Derek had received from Marc and Derek was gathering his strength for the finishing blow. He cocked his fist back, then, waited a moment, as if waiting for some signal from Marc. Then with a loud crack his fist swung up into Marc’s jaw, flinging him into the air, then before Marc had time to even fall, Derek spun and his leg connected with Marc’s midsection. Marc flew into the wall then fell to the floor and didn’t get up. The scientists in the booth sat dumbfounded in the booth as a referee and a medical team ran over to Marc. He was loaded onto a stretcher and carried out having just received enough damage to stay in the hospital for a week if not more. Derek merely watched him go then spat the blood from his mouth and left. Training was over.

__________________
"You give up a few things, chasing a dream."

Last edited by PopRocks; 06-23-2009 at 02:21 PM..
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Old 06-23-2009, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by PopRocks View Post
sorry for this one being so long

The wound in Derek’s side was much worse than he had first thought. The laser bolt had not simply grazed his side, but penetrated it, tearing through his internal organs before emerging on the other side. The medical team was amazed he was even alive after he had galloped through the forest with his life leaking out of a hole in his side. They had to secure a special transport for him to get him to a real hospital in time. After a frantic operation the doctors had stuck him in a specialized healing chamber as soon as he was stabilized. Derek had never liked the chambers much. He felt like something at the aquarium and half expected people to walk up and tap on the glass. Cris would have, just to annoy him.

Derek had a lot of time to think as he lay there. He thought a lot about Cris initially. He had never lost a friend in this war and now that he had, it was hard to recover from it. Eventually he decided to stop thinking about it. Cris had known the risks of joining the military just like he had. They had risked their lives on a regular basis; it was only a matter of time before one of them finally lost. Nathan had almost been killed as well. That was something Derek could never allow to happen again. He was willing to accept losses, just like every other officer was, but Derek would not tolerate his friends dying again. Derek’s soldiers relied on him to get them home again alive, not in coffins. And that was what he was going to do. There's a lot of telling in these fist two paragraphs. You will hear everyone say show don't tell. But telling isn't always bad. I just wanted to point it out.

Inevitably his thoughts turned to Sera. He couldn’t help but thinking that all of it had been a lie. All the things they had done and said, just a lie to get her a story. But then, he had lied too. Nothing but lies between them. What did that leave him with then, if their entire relationship was based on falsehoods? He had hoped that if she actually met him in person she would be convinced to just leave him alone instead of following him around everywhere like the other reporters did. But then she had shown up at that battle on Canopus. Afterward the story and the footage had been spread all over the kingdom. Naturally Sera and her cameraman had become very famous because of it as well. Derek almost wanted to hate her for it, for using him like that, just to get her little bit of fame. But every time he thought about her he found that he simply liked her too much to hate her. Despite everything she had done, he simply could not bring himself to do it; there was just something about her.

Prime Minister Racelle Acrux smiled with satisfaction as another session of Parliament came to an end. They had voted additional funds for the Ministry of Intelligence and Special Forces, which was under her supervision. She needed more funding to support the advanced training program they were instituting and Parliament had been more than happy to supply it. Thus far the Special Forces had been performing admirably, scoring numerous crucial victories against the Imperial forces. With a nearly flawless performance record it had been easy to convince Parliament to part with more funds for the department. As Acrux walked down a spacious hallway to her office she saw General Anyon coming toward her and frowned with impatience. The General cared more about his self-image and political career than he did about actually accomplishing anything important. Thanks to officers like him it was becoming increasingly difficult to find trustworthy and effective military leadership. General Anyon had already spotted her though, so it was too late to turn around and escape him. She had no choice but to tolerate the idiot for now. Sometimes she wished her family had never lost the throne five centuries earlier to the current monarchy. As it was, her family was now just another noble family under the rule of the king. So, she had no choice but to forget that she was descended from Imperial royalty and play politics like everyone else in Parliament. Again, there's a lot of telling here. I know that it gives background to the story but when you have this much telling, you should throw in a little more showing to make up for it.

General Anyon saluted then instantly launched into his tirade, which Acrux listened patiently to while wishing to be anywhere in the galaxy but there.

“He stole a tank, Prime Minister, a tank!” The General ranted. “Colonel Ursus is the face of this military, we can’t let him tarnish our image just because he wants to go joyriding! The military can’t tolerate this, this, reckless behavior any more! Ursus needs to get back in line and do as he’s told before he wrecks our public relations! He can’t get away with whatever he wants just because he’s famous.”

“Our recruiting numbers doubled after that footage of him on Canopus was released, don’t forget that General.”

“Which brings me to my second point Prime Minister,” Anyon continued, and Prime Minister Acrux had to fight not to roll her eyes. “We need to pull Colonel Ursus off the front lines as quickly as possible.”

“Off the front lines?” Acrux said, “Why would we take one of our best officers away from the front lines?”

“Colonel Ursus’s purpose is to be the image of the military; if he gets killed we can only use him as a martyr for so long before the public tires of it. We make more money and recruit more soldiers while that man is alive. So, Prime Minister, it would be best if we kept Ursus as far away from danger as possible and under control.”

Acrux’s eyes narrowed. “Ursus is under control General, what are you implying?”

“That your officer was able to steal a tank and got nothing worse than a reprimand for it! Get your dog back on his leash and off the front lines! If you can’t get that dog under control then we’ll have no choice but to demote him and throw him into the army with the rest of the rank and rile and keep him stationed where we want.”

“Colonel Ursus will be taken care of General, don’t worry,” Prime Minister Acrux assured him. General Anyon looked skeptical, but didn’t rant any further. He saluted and left the Prime Minister in peace. She stood in the hallway for a while, thinking over the situation, then went to her office and sent a message for Colonel Ursus to be summoned.

Derek responded to the Prime Minister’s summons quickly like the almost ever obedient marine that he was. The Prime Minister’s tone of preparing to lecture him had practically oozed out of the summons sent to him, and he didn’t like that. Acrux was so good at lecturing, him in particular. Though, granted, he had definitely earned this one. Barely a week out of the hospital and he had taken a state-of-the-art tank joyriding around the base. He tried to console them with the information that their huge metal monster of doom handled beautifully and the cannons were top-notch, but he still got in trouble. The poor technicians almost had heart attacks on the spot. Rambling on and on about “unauthorized access” and “target practice is only to be conducted under supervision in designated areas.” So, he had probably stepped on too many toes this time around. Colonel Ursus straightened his uniform and smartly presented himself in the Prime Minister’s office to receive his usual slap on the wrist for misbehavior.

“Colonel Ursus, do you have any idea how much trouble you caused with this?”

“I do, and I apologize Prime Minister, I meant no harm.”

“Meant no harm?” Acrux scoffed at the teenager. “You stole a tank! A brand new tank that just came out of testing and you went joyriding in it like some drunken teenager!”

“I did apologize Prime Minister, my behavior was inexcusable.” Derek did his best to remain calm. He hated being called a teenager, it always had a negative connotation, and it irritated him. Acrux, meanwhile, had resumed her usual manner of calm patience. Whether he tried to or not the poor woman seemed to have a great deal of difficulty maintaining that manner whenever she talked to him about his misdeeds. Or when she talked to him in general. Somehow Derek was always a source of frustration for the poor Prime Minister.

This last sentence is an example of telling. Somehow Derek was always a source of frustration for the poor Prime Minister. To turn this into showing you need to make it into someone's thoughts or into dialoge or into action by a character. Let me give you a few examples:

Acrux sighed loudly, maybe a little too loudly. She paused and ran her fingers through her hair as she pondered her next move.

or..

Derek tensed, a small trickle of sweat formed on his left brow. Why is it that everything I do seems to frustrate her, he wondered. Afterall its all for the cause right?

or...

Acrux paused for a moment before asking, "Why is it that my best soilder is the sourse of my greatest frustration?" She stared straight into his eyes waiting for an answer.

I'm not trying to put words into your story or tell you how to write it. I just wanted to give you a few examples. I can see that this is a good story, now you just need to add some showing and take away some telling.

“Now, Colonel Ursus, due to the recent events on Canopus I think it would be best if you were re-stationed here on Antares for a while. We had a very close call with you being wounded and the military doesn’t want its “perfect soldier” getting killed.”

“I won’t go,” Derek replied, “I am a marine and marines belong on the front lines Prime Minister. I enlisted to fight the Imperials, not be some worthless desk jockey! My place is with my men out there on the battlefield, not in a press conference.”

“Colonel Ursus,” Acrux said as though she were trying to be as patient as possible, “You are a vital part of the war effort and an excellent officer. However, you also seem to find it entertaining to break the rules in as many ways as possible while relying on your influence to keep you out of trouble. Your devotion to your soldiers, while admirable, has gotten you into a great deal of trouble this time Colonel.”

Derek raised an eyebrow. “I’m not sure I quite understand you, madam.”

“Of course you do,” Acrux smiled, “You have no idea how to drive a tank, and you never have. Just because they found you in the tank doesn’t mean you were the one who stole it in the first place.” A smile twitched at the corner of Derek’s mouth and Acrux went on, “I appreciate that you were protecting your subordinate Colonel, but the brass’ tolerance of your behavior has worn thin. They want you back on your leash and off the lines Colonel and I’m not able to argue with them.”

“I want to fight, Prime Minister, not sit on the sidelines. I won’t have it.”

“Colonel, I understand, but you can’t fight the brass on this and if you make them angry enough they will discharge you whether you like it or not and you won’t be able to fight at all.”

“Yes, I will.”


Acrux stared at Derek over her desk at the determination in his face. He really meant it, just let them push him and see how much. The Prime Minister sat back in her chair in defeat, rubbing her temples.

“Alright Colonel, I have a proposition for you.”

“I’m listening.”

“The ministry is putting together an elite team of commandos to act as intelligence operatives. Infiltration, information retrieval, sabotage, assassination. Would you be interested?”

Derek smiled. “I would, yes.”

“Good. So, you will join this team, you will be off the front lines since technically you will be behind them instead, and everyone gets what they want.”

“And how do you benefit from all this Prime Minister?”


Acrux straightened from her chair and walked around the desk to stand in front of him. “I get a competent general and the brass gets off my back about you behaving yourself. Good enough, General?”

This dialogue here is good. You have changed and are now in showing mode.

Derek smiled, he loved the title already. “Good enough, madam.”

“You enjoy having authority, don’t you?”

Derek shook his head. “No, I love having authority.”

“I thought that was it,” Acrux mumbled. Derek thought the older woman really looked her age sometimes, especially when Derek was giving her undue frustration. This last sentence is telling, even though you said "Derek thought". She swept a hand over her neatly arranged gray hair to make sure it was still in place, then sat on the corner of her desk. This last sentence was showing and it was similar to one of the examples I listed above. This is good.

“I’ll handle the politicians and the paperwork for this; you just need to learn how to behave yourself for a few days until your rank and transfer go into effect. Can you handle that?”

“I will manage, I think.”

“I’m glad to hear it. I did my best to get that footage of the Canopus engagement edited before the press released it. It took a lot of effort, but I managed to convince them to restrict themselves to just writing about the casualties instead of showing it over and over.”

“I appreciate that,” Derek said, and he meant every word of it. The last thing he wanted was the entire kingdom watching his friend die and left to lie in the mud.

“It was no trouble, you deserved at least that,” Acrux said, “That is all then, you’re dismissed.

Derek snapped a salute and turned to leave the office, then stopped short at the door as a thought occurred to him.
“Prime Minister, about that team, would you mind if I brought some friends?”

“Friends?” The Prime Minister thought about it for a moment. “That should be fine, so long as they understand what they’re getting into and I approve the list.”

A beep came from the Prime Minister’s desk and she walked around to her computer. Pushing a button the voice of Acrux’s secretary came into the room.

“Major Gara from intelligence is here to see you.”

“Alright, send her in.”

Acrux sighed. “You know, sometimes I wish I had a different job.” Derek smiled sympathetically, but her next question threw him off guard. “What do you wish?” I had to reread this a few times to get your meaning here. Maybe you could change this sentece to "What is your greatest wish?". I think it would make more sense. I thought she was asking him why he was still in her office. Like "What do you want? I'm busy." kind-of thing.

“What?”

“What do you wish, Colonel? Young people always have a million wishes.”

“I suppose-” Derek paused for a moment, “I wish I wasn’t an orphan.”

The Prime Minister stared at him for a long while and Derek suddenly realized what he had said. Behind him he heard the door open and Major Gara stepped in.

“I’m sorry, I should be going.” Derek said quickly, saluted both the major and the Prime Minister, and left.


Derek decided that before he ran off to be a secret agent or whatever it was the government was turning him into, he needed to see Sera. It was the only way to find out what her true intentions had been. If it had all just been an act to get what she wanted. But still, he couldn’t really hold it against her for lying to him. After all, he had lied to her too. But it was still hard to forgive her for it, especially since she had done it to use him. Derek only lied to protect his own privacy. Being in the spotlight all the time made it hard to have any privacy at all. I know that you are giving us important information here and maybe it seems that I am just harping on this but the entire last paragraph was telling. This is me rewriting your last paragraph with a little showing...

Derek pulled out his communicator to call Sera. No, he thought I have to see her in person before I run off to be a secret agent or whatever it is that the goverment wants me to be. Finally he allowed himself to relax in the back of the transport. His muscles released their tension. He thought about Sera. He almost changed his mind about seeing her. Slamming his fist down on the side panel he realized that it was the only way to find out her true intentions. The tension returned as his muscles tightened. Had it all been just an act, he wondered....

This takes more effort, words and time to show but in the end it is entertaining. Reading a bunch of telling gets tiring to the reader and that's why they always reccomend against it. I'm going to highlight in orange all the telling I see.

Mostly he just wanted to see Sera to set things right between them. And he wished to get away from the base for a while. The promotion Derek had gotten was nice, but that combined with Sera’s “interview” and footage of him had the military brass adoring him more than ever despite his recent misdeeds. It was rather annoying really, even if there were even fewer actual brass that outranked him now. The press was just as irritating too and they insisted on trying to follow him everywhere. He had to spend most of his time just trying to hide from people. The whole thing got on his nerves, wholly interfering with his intentions of enjoying his higher rank as much as possible. So, after a great deal of trouble and creativity Derek escaped all parties trying to pester him and set off to talk to Sera.

He found the building where she worked easily and after scanning the directory, found what floor she was on. After sending word to Sera he wanted to see her, he sat and waited outside her office, trying to figure out what to say.

Sera looked at the note her secretary had given her, her blue eyes quickly scanning it.

“What’s his name?”

The secretary shrugged. “He didn’t say. Just said he needed to speak to you and that it’s urgent.”

“All right, send him in then.” Sera said, and leaned back into her chair. She wondered who this random man calling at her office was. She really didn’t get visits from people very often before that last story she had done on the battle on Canopus. Maybe this one was just another businessman wanting her to endorse something again. Whatever she had been expecting, it wasn’t what walked through her door.

“General!” She jumped up in surprise, nearly knocking her desk over and a few wavy strands of light brown hair flying in her face. This sentence needs to be split or changed the hair part doesn't sound right. General Ursus? Here? What could he want? He must be mad at her because of the piece she had done, he certainly didn’t look very happy when he saw her on Canopus. Is this her thoughts? If so than italicize it or put it in quotes to show us where her thoughts start and stop. She started edging around the desk towards him, trying to avoid another embarrassing collision. He, meanwhile, was simply standing there, looking absolutely wonderful in his uniform, and not saying a word.

“Did I come at a bad time?” He finally asked, the sound of his voice nearly making Sera melt on the spot. “I could come back.”

“Oh no, it’s fine,” Sera insisted. “Is something wrong? You said this was urgent.”

General Ursus’s fingers fidgeted a little, but otherwise he stood calmly looking at her.

“Not wrong, exactly, I just wanted to talk to you. About what happened on Canopus and Kapteyn.”

Sera’s stomach dropped with a sickening thud. He was angry with her after all. Just as the General opened his mouth, Sera burst out: “I’m sorry!”
Ursus froze, his mouth still open, and looked at her in surprise.

“What I did, I’m sorry.” She continued. “When I started talking to you, I really was just pretending to be nice to get that interview out of you. I lied to you to get you to talk to me. I knew you wouldn’t have told me anything if I didn’t.”

Ursus’s mouth slowly closed, but he didn’t try to say anything. He just stood there. Sera felt guilt twisting in her gut and she wished he would just say something. She swallowed and began again.

“But after that, I genuinely wanted to know you, to be with you.”
Ursus remained silent, watching her.
“In all that time I spent with you, all the things we did, everything I said to you--I meant it. I may have had bad intentions at first, but there at the end, I promise I wanted to be your—your friend. I’m so sorry for what I did, I shouldn’t have deceived you like I did.”

Sera stared at her hands, unable to meet his eyes anymore. He still had not said a word and she felt like a fool, telling him all of this.
She felt a hand on her chin, gently lifting her face up to look into his eyes, and as she did she wanted to apologize for every wrong the universe had ever done to him.

“We both lied and we both meant every word of it.”
Sera started to object, but Ursus held a finger to her lips and she fell silent.
“But,” he continued, “I’m willing to give this a second chance if you are.”

Sera nodded, lost in those eyes. Did he have any idea what those green eyes could do to people? “Yes.”

Ursus smiled and Sera’s heart stopped completely. “Thank you,” he said, kissing her on the cheek. “And I’m sorry I lied to you.”

In the months that followed his visit to Sera’s office Derek spent his time being on his best behavior, waiting to be sent for his specialized training, and spending the rest of his time with Sera. He did not particularly care if everyone knew he was dating her. Though, it was somewhat of a shock, given his previous attitude towards reporters. Being with her had made him happier than he had been in a very long time. However, there was still a war to be fought, and the reports that the Imperials had put a bounty on the prominent members of the mercenary clans were very worrisome. A particularly hefty sum was on the head of every one of the Seren brothers as well. There was still no sign of them, and without them, Derek suspected that the war would be difficult, if not impossible for the Monarchy to win. There was also rumblings of unrest in the Parliament because of this and the military’s apparent lack of progress. The rumor of a spy in the navy did not help either. In all, things were not going well, and Derek was feeling the pressure to improve them.

Having gotten the Prime Minister’s approval to let some of his friends tag along with him, Derek went to go find some who were crazy enough to actually do it. He went to the naval base first, looking for a particular pair of pilots. Derek walked across the hanger, the voices of various teams of mechanics and engineers echoing through the cavernous building. He headed for a battle-scarred fighter on the far side that was undergoing repairs. One of the large engines had been opened and half gutted, a large toolbox and pile of parts sitting underneath it. From within the engine came various noises of the repairs being made peppered with human exclamations and a few sparks shot out from the top. Derek watched the sparks fly up, waited for the ensuing stream of angry ranting that followed it to cease, then reached up and knocked on the side of the engine.

“Lieutenant Aquila, are you in there?”

A grease-smeared and slightly singed face popped up from inside the engine with hazel eyes and dark blonde hair attached to it. The Lieutenant smiled broadly down at Derek and waved some sort of tool at him in greeting.

“Hello, General Ursus, what can I do for you?”

“Did you say General Ursus?” An almost identical voice from the other side of the fighter said, “His girlfriend is hot! Have you seen her?”
The owner of the voice appeared from the depths of the engine on the other side of the fighter beaming identically to the teenager in the first engine. He looked around to see who his brother was talking to and spotted Derek. His grin slipped and he looked very embarrassed.
“Sorry, General, I didn’t see you there.”

“It’s alright,” Derek said with a smile, “I couldn’t agree with you more.”

The second Lieutenant Aquila identical to the first cleared his throat and tried futilely to wipe some of the grease off his face. The two of them, Kraig and Kyle, were two of the most promising and talented pilots in the Navy. The only problem was that only one of them was actually a pilot. They were identical twins who found it enormously funny to switch places with one another on a regular basis. Kraig was supposed to be a mechanic while his brother was supposed to be the pilot. But since each twin was so good at doing what the other one did, no one could tell which one was really the pilot and which one was actually supposed to be the mechanic when they switched. After trying without any success to stop their antics or figure out which one was which the Navy gave up and left them to their own devices. So long as which ever one was the pilot and whichever one was the mechanic got things done the Navy wasn’t going to complain. This was very amusing. How funny is that that they switch all the time. good one.

“So, what brings the famous General Ursus here?” Kraig asked. It would have been difficult to tell which one he was if it weren’t for Kyle very loudly talking about Derek’s girlfriend. Leave it to Kyle to shout across a hangar about things like that. Once he did that it wasn’t hard to tell who was who.

“The Prime Minister is starting up an advanced training program for commandos; I thought you two might be interested.”

“Commandos?” Kyle said from across the fighter. “You mean we’d get to jump behind enemy lines and wreak havoc and jump back out again?”

“Something along those lines,” Derek replied.

“Kraig, we should go!” Kyle said excitedly, waving a wrench at his brother. Kraig eyed the wrench warily as if concerned his brother might accidentally throw it.

“You think so?”

“General Ursus is going, I want to go too.”

“We’ll get to have guns.” Kraig said thoughtfully.

“Big guns, the best guns!” Kyle agreed. “And fun commando toys.”

“I love commando toys. They get all the best toys.”

“Toys?” Derek interrupted, “You call those toys?”
The twins ignored him, continuing their conversation over the length of the fighter.

“Do commandos get masks?” Kyle asked, his eyes searching the inside of the engine for the wrench, which he had dropped.
“All the best commandos wear masks.” Kraig said, as if he knew all about it.

“Who else is coming, it better not be boring people.”

“Who else have you talked into this?” Kraig asked Derek.

“Captain Arctursus so far.”

Kraig’s eyebrows raised a fraction and he peered over the edge of the engine down at Derek. “Really? Captain Arctursus is coming too?”

“I wouldn’t go without him.”

“We’re coming too then,” Kraig replied with a smile, his brother nodding his agreement.

The military scientists in their never-ending quest to create some elusive super soldier had, under the previous king, initiated a program called the Hellhound Project. The goal was simple: using genetic manipulation and advanced training the military would create soldiers able to perform far beyond the limits of normal humans. However, the scientists were never able to reach their goal. Human testing was disastrous and the government ordered the program terminated. Now, fifty years later, the program had been revitalized. Derek doubted Parliament knew a thing about what they were really up to though. Had the Prime Minister bothered to give them accurate information about the new training program for intelligence operatives they would have shut the whole thing down. Genetic manipulation was strictly regulated and the training Derek was undergoing to heighten his pain tolerance was rather unorthodox most of the time. Nathan Arctursus was in the program too, thanks to Derek half inviting half dragging him along for the ride.


Derek spotted him in the research building one day, wearing the same dull grey shirt with a number stenciled on it just like all the other soldiers in the program. Nathan’s number was 92, while Derek’s was 87, neither of which Derek found any significance in. They both entered the program at the same time. The numbers only had meaning to the scientists. Much to Derek’s disgust, he had discovered Captain Enif as well, a number 84 stenciled on the Captain’s chest. He found that endlessly irritating, as Enif insisted on implying he had seniority over Derek. Derek wanted nothing more than to test whatever his newly adjusted abilities would be on the Captain, but it did not seem likely.

“What are you doing here Captain?” Derek snapped at him as they moved through the line in the cafeteria.

“I’m with Navy Intelligence, remember? They sent me.”

“Shouldn’t you be back on your ship pretending to be a captain?”

A muscle twitched in Enif’s jaw and he grabbed a tray with undue ferocity. “Just because my cover is a ship captain doesn’t mean I do not know how to be one!”

Derek laughed, the Aquila twins behind him sniggering in unison, and Enif moved farther away from them down the line.

“So, how is Navy Intelligence doing these days?” Derek called down the line to him, ignoring Enif’s efforts to avoid him. “Isn’t there some spy running around you’re supposed to be catching?”

“Shut up.” Enif snarled, throwing a piece of fruit at Derek and moving off to find a table.

Derek was shown into a large lab room one day where a scientist and his assistants were waiting to begin the General’s genetic manipulation. The room’s centerpiece was a large medical table with extensions for his arms on either side. Derek relinquished his shirt to an assistant and lay on the table with his arms outstretched. The assistant put leather straps around his wrists attached to a short length of chain but left his legs unbound.

“The straps are to give you something to pull on,” The scientist explained, “This is the most painful of the procedures and you will want to hold on to something.”

“What will this be doing to me exactly?”

“First, it will adjust your height.”

Derek raised an eyebrow. “I’m too tall?”

The scientist shook his head. “No, not tall enough.”

“How tall are you trying to make me?” Derek asked incredulously. He was already taller than most people; he didn’t see why that needed improvement.

“We’ll see what we can get,” The scientist replied, picking up a file and looking down the list on it. “Besides the height, heat and cold tolerance will be heightened increased as well as stamina and adrenaline reserves. Increased strength, agility, and healing as well. If we’re lucky we should be able to reach the optimal level of cellular regeneration and tissue repair too. If all goes well, you should heal faster and better and you should be less prone to injury.”

Derek tugged experimentally on the straps, wondering just how painful all this was going to be. The scientist meanwhile produced a tray with a handful of syringes on it and put it on a table next to Derek.
“Are you ready?”

Derek nodded and the man picked up the first syringe, carefully pushing it into Derek’s neck. The General gritted his teeth as the syringe emptied its contents and the scientist retracted it. A second injection followed the first, this time in Derek’s arm, and it hurt twice as much. Finally, one of Derek’s arms was untied and he was rolled onto his side. The scientist took a third syringe and took a firm grip on Derek’s shoulder.

“This last one is the worst, brace yourself.”

No amount of bracing could have prepared Derek for the third injection. The needle went straight into his spine and the serum it injected into him felt like thousands of pins being shoved into his nerves. The assistants quickly turned him back onto his back and tied his wrist again as the three concoctions started to work. Derek’s arms strained against the restraints as pain coursed through his body. He could feel strange things happening, felt his legs growing longer, his very organs changing. The sensors on his chest and forehead frantically sent data to the computers the assistants were watching. Then, something went wrong. The computers started beeping warnings that could barely be heard over Derek’s screams of pain. The scientist yelled at the assistants, who yelled back, and the man grabbed another syringe from the tray. Derek was writhing in pain, his legs thrashing against the table. The assistants piled on his legs and torso to hold him down long enough for the scientist to get the syringe ready. He put a hand on Derek’s chest, holding him as best he could, then plunged the syringe down into Derek’s heart. A few seconds passed, then the warnings stopped and Derek calmed enough for the assistants to let him go.

In all, the agonizing procedure lasted a full half hour, and at the end of it Derek was completely exhausted. His only consolation was that the scientist said the serums had done exactly what they were supposed to and the procedure was a success. All that was left was a second procedure to heighten Derek’s senses and implant a few microchips into his brain that would give him all the targeting and sensor abilities his helmet normally would. Fortunately, the doctors were kind enough to put him under anesthesia for that one.

By the time they finished with him, Derek was as perfect a soldier the military had ever hoped for. Nathan and the other soldiers had undergone the same adjustments as Derek, but they never could not get them as tall. That was an endless mystery to the scientists. No matter how hard they tried, none of the soldiers could be made as tall as Derek. At that point, Derek’s genetic and physical structure had been adjusted so much that had his parents known him it would be difficult for them to recognize him. He couldn’t help but wonder what effect all this would have. One can only mess with nature so much before it rebels, often in violent ways. There were already rumors of what had happened to the test subjects who had received unsuccessful genetic manipulation.

After months of tests and training, the scientists decided it was time to see how well their new soldiers did in a real combat situation. Thus far they had been restricted to holographic simulations, and they wanted to see how they fared against reality. When Derek heard the news he grinned in such a way as to make Nathan edge a safe distance away from him.

The soldiers were put in pairs, and then placed in a large empty room with a number of referees to ensure that things did not get out of hand. A group of scientists sat above them where they could observe unhindered. The two men below them stood in the center of the room, waiting for the signal to begin. Sparring partners were selected based on stats and performance reviews, but were listed only by number to prevent bias. One of the scientists pulled up the information on the two men below them pulling on their gloves. They looked fairly evenly matched, so the test should prove interesting.

“Who do we have for this round?” The woman next to him asked.

“Number 84 and 87 it looks like. Two of the best ones we have.”
Below them the referees were getting into place and the men were squaring off. Both were barefoot and wore padded boxing gloves to minimize the damage they could do to each other. Another scientist peered over the data, then down at the two men below them in alarm.

“Who put those two together?”

“I don’t know, it was just-”

“That’s Captain Enif and General Ursus; you can’t put them in the same room! They’ll rip each other apart, someone get down there and put a stop to this!”

“Too late,” the woman said. The referees had already signaled the men to begin and there was no stopping them.

Marc looked at Derek with a look of mild distaste while Derek cracked his knuckles. He glanced at the booth where the supervising scientists were sitting, then at the referees before leaning forward slightly to whisper to Marc.
“You know I can’t hold back this time.”

Marc nodded, watching the referees out of the corner of his eye. “I know.”

The referee walked over to tell them the rules, and the two quickly resumed their expressions of dislike. Once the ref finished, they shook hands briefly, then stepped back and waited for the ref to run to a safer position. He barely had time to get out of the way before it began. Marc leapt at Derek, slamming a punch into his face. Derek threw a kick at his side, but Marc jumped away and threw a kick of his own at Derek, hitting him in the head. As the fight wore on Derek performed well, but not nearly as well as Marc. He moved, it seemed, far too fast for Derek, scoring numerous blows. Marc swung at Derek, who caught his arm and slammed him into the floor. Marc had the wind knocked out of him long enough for Derek to land a few punches to his head. But Marc quickly recovered, kicking Derek in the stomach and leaping to his feet again. Marc punched Derek again; catching him in the side of the head, then threw another. Derek barely blocked it in time by grabbing Marc’s fist, but didn’t follow through.

“You said you wouldn’t hold back!” Marc hissed. “What are you afraid of?

Derek didn’t answer, throwing a punch at Marc’s midsection, which Marc easily blocked. The General reached up, grabbing Marc’s wrist and twisting his arm around behind his back while Derek grabbed hold of Marc’s neck with his other hand. But still, Derek did nothing more. He just held onto Marc, who was only half trying to escape.
“Come on Derek. Do it!” Marc whispered.
Derek hesitated for a moment, a frown twitching at the corners of his mouth.
“I’ll be fine,” Marc insisted, “Show them what you can really do.”

Finally Derek nodded and the tiniest of smiles crossed Marc’s face. He threw his elbow up into Derek’s jaw, forcing him to release his grip. Marc spun around so they were face to face again and Derek cut loose and just like Marc asked. In a blur of motion the General’s fist shot out and slammed into Marc’s face, sending him flying back. The two of them became a whirlwind of motion, blocking, punching, and kicking like never before. This time, Derek gave it everything he had, using his talents and newly acquired abilities to their full extent. He pummeled Marc without mercy and before long the Captain had a bloody and bruised face even worse than what Derek had received from Marc and Derek was gathering his strength for the finishing blow. He cocked his fist back, then, waited a moment, as if waiting for some signal from Marc. Then with a loud crack his fist swung up into Marc’s jaw, flinging him into the air, then before Marc had time to even fall, Derek spun and his leg connected with Marc’s midsection. Marc flew into the wall then fell to the floor and didn’t get up. The scientists in the booth sat dumbfounded in the booth as a referee and a medical team ran over to Marc. He was loaded onto a stretcher and carried out having just received enough damage to stay in the hospital for a week if not more. Derek merely watched him go then spat the blood from his mouth and left. Training was over.

Pop rocks,
You have a great story here. I especially liked the ending with the fight scene. I pointed out a few things here and there. This is some good stuff. This was a long one and I kinda got involved reading it toward the end and not editing it too much. Hey, it held my attention.
Keep it up.

Teancor
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:13 PM
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lol hey, if it held your attention that well, I'm not about to complain. I'm glad you liked it ^_^
I think with some of the things you pointed out, they were the result of me trying to keep the chapter from getting too long, so I sacrificed some things. Still, I will see if I can fix it up a little.
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