Delsch Ka'atani

Delsch Ka'atani (The Fire Demon)

By Eugene Wong Kee Onn

What seemed like infinite cries of pain and anguish suddenly disappeared that microinstant . . .

All pain stopped. Nothing - nothing could hurt him anymore. Nothing really mattered anymore. He was non-existent, cleared from the face of this world, totally . . . destroyed.


The virtual trainer switched itself off. Gestar was relieved that his battle was only simulated by the super computer in the training room. Oh, the things modern equipment can do to your adrenaline these days. The soldier was severely soaked in his own sweat.

As his brain slowly accustomed itself to reality, Gestar disconnected the neural simulators and removed his virtual retinal display or VRDs as the cadets were beginning to call them. As the Leader of pack #14 of the Experimental Future Soldiers, Gestar's job was to not only defend his homeland but also to train the unblooded ones. This was the frustrating part.

After serving for twelve years in the army and five years of involvement in the Experimental Future Soldiers project which was launched by the country's central political computer, losing a computer-simulated battle could really get into his nerves. Even though the simulators were programmed by 7 of the best military programmers in the world and had an above-average rating of artificial intelligence (not to mention driven by a super computer in the year 2144), Gestar was sure he could have beaten the software easily, or at least that was what his ultra-macho ego told him.

By just looking at the specific button on the large screen before him, Gestar summoned his students. They arrived a few seconds later, materialising in their assigned squares. Faces were gloomy, some not daring even to look at their leader. They knew they had failed the test by not following instructions and by reacting according to their own inexperienced judgements. Those who disobeyed were punished. But they had no idea what the punishment would be. Some never got out alive. So why choose to sign up for the training in the first place? A super soldier was the most glamorous being one could be, one of the rare humans entitled to know and beta-test the latest developments of the most advanced country on Earth, treasured by the government and living in luxury and peace instead of one of those overcrowded hives.

"Dear students. You have disappointed me. Failed…… All of you. What happened to all the training you received? You shall receive your due punishment. We shall leave for the Cyberjaya Labs. . . now."

"Target terminated."

"Yessss!!! Another point for the sharpest shooter on Earth - me!!!"

Haizar was piloting his mech as if he had gone mad Bizarre piloting, enormous self-confidence and exceptionally accurate blasting, he was all the qualities of the most dangerous supersoldier. . .

(To the uninformed, a 'mech' is a mechanical warrior much like a robot with the pilot seated inside)
"Direwolf to Rifleman, abort . . ."

. . .the kind of person to be recorded in history. . .

". . . form my wing . . ."

. . . a man feared by all.

" . . . step on it, wet nose!! . . ."

Now if he could only get rid of that irritating flying-thingy that kept hovering above him. Missiles . . . lasers . . .plasma . . . fusion charges . . . all guns . . . FIRE!!!!

Everything was thrown at the small reconnaissance robot which had no weapons at all. The robot exploded, delicate engineering vaporised into dust . Haizar checked his score and saw it rise a little. Satisfied, he smiled and thought to himself, 'Excellent!!!'. . and then he saw what really happened. His future, his dreams . . . ruined . . .

He materialised in the main hall with his other comrades, all frustrated and lost in thought . . . then they left for the Cyberjaya Labs. He should have guessed - the punishment was to be a human guinea pig. How nice of them.

"I want all of you to meet Dr. Mastaba, the head scientist of the mech R&D division. He will do something to all of you. I won't spoil all your fun and tell you what. You gutless slugs have fun figuring out for yourselves. I wonder how long that would take," mocked Gestar as he saw the scientist approaching. At last, no more stubborn fools to put up with. No more crazy mech pilots. Little did he know . . .

"Okay, men! Let me take you around on a little tour of my lab. You cadets are excellent subjects for my latest project!"

Haizar and the other would-be supersoldiers were brought to Dr. Mastaba's laboratory which was far from the typical laboratories shown in the media. Foreign looking objects dotted the place. Armour and weapons from different manufacturers were placed on high shelves, ready to be studied.

"Before letting you near my latest project, let me brief you a little about it. What I've developed is a new genre of mech which will change the course of history. Just stand in front of this mech and lock your brain to the helmet and it will molecularly bond with the nerves of the wearer. He would feel everything this exoskeleton touches, as if it was an extension of himself! This suit is also enhanced with the latest weapons and is coated in adamantium fibre. It is, however, unstable. How the brain takes such a change is still unknown. "

Haizar eyed the mech with zeal. Who cares if the mech was unstable. If he was a guinea pig, he might as well be a powerful one. The mech, the war vehicle of the future, was a large, bulky and overloaded machine, usually surrounded with massive weaponry. The mech Haizar was eyeing, however, looked light and flexible. It was nearly three metres tall, only one tenth the size of a normal mech. This is too good to be true! The ultimate mech! Haizar had read about this in story books but never thought it would be reality. He had longed to pilot a mech like this ever since he was a little boy!

Before anyone noticed, Haizar sprinted to the mech and activated it. The sentry droids tried to stop him, but in vain. He had lots of practice. At last, a mech worthy of his skills. At last . . .


The scream was heard loud and clear but Haizar paid no attention. The ultimate weapon…his!! Now he was the most powerful being on earth! It felt so good. No pesky control buttons or goggles. It did not even feel like he was in a mech. No cockpit, no virtual display even. Just the natural him, visual and audio capabilities enhanced! He felt free to move, free to do anything! Trying to wave at his friends, he realised that moving his arms had suddenly become so easy! Then he tried jumping. Big mistake.

"What?!! You fool! Lucky for you this mech will self-destruct in less than an hour or you will be nothing but useless specks of dust when I'm through!" The news shocked the cadets. The most admired person in their batch, wasted just like that?

"This is for Haizar!!" shouted the big, stumpy would-be Future Soldier. He landed a roundhouse kick directly on Dr. Mastaba's nose, expecting to wound him. Surprisingly, the scientist showed no signs of hurt; neither bleeding nor bruises. He did not even scream. Other cadets started to join in, giving the researcher all they had to make him at least bleed. But to no avail.

Dr. Mastaba was not even hurt the slightest bit. But he looked really mad. His pupils turned bright red and a powerful aura like a ring of purplish flame surrounded him. The room was filled with the brightness of the flame. All who stood in it were struck with fear, and shielded their eyes from the foreign ray of energy.

"De'estheba kornoshtik ga'abath!!" said the scientist as he was lifted higher and higher in the air. The people were amazed. They were petrified, unable to move because of the fear instilled in them by the transfiguration of this unknown being.

The transfigured one then took them out one by one. Slowly and painfully.


Haizar was having the time of his life. Driving the mech of his dreams, Haizar flew and spun and did double somersaults to his heart's content. But then he also realised a red gauge constantly appearing in front of him. The meter in the gauge was getting lower and lower through time. He thought for a moment. The red meter in the gauge could be the remaining time before he became insane! Dr. Mastaba did mention about the instability of the tool . . .

Feeling that he should at least be allowed to live to try out more of the many new technologies of the mech, he thought of the creator of the mech. Now that the mech had been put to the test, the information and experience acquired would prove invaluable.

He flew to Dr. Mastaba's laboratory at full speed.

" Pyromorph detected in south wing of Cyberjaya Labs . . heat causing massive destruction!!"

What? A pyromorph? In Cyberjaya Labs? Weren't they destroyed in the Flame War 2112? Gestar felt a tickle down his spine. He remembered the time when he first fought a simulated pyromorph. It was undefeatable. And that was just computer generated.

All the Future Soldiers under him were called upon to respond to the emergency. Gestar briefed them on what they were up against, tactics they should apply and the habits of the species. When they were ready, the army approached Cyberjaya Labs.

As Haizar flew over the laboratory, he was surprised that it was just a pile of synthetic bricks. Someone had reached the place before him. Someone no doubt very powerful. Destructive. . His friends! Where were they? Haizar scanned through the pile of bricks. No trace of the other cadets. He tried the new DNA based scanning feature. Nine matches. Every one of his comrades was in the rubble but none of them alive. According to the physical properties reported by the mech, his friends were nothing but liquid by now.

Using all the scanning capabilities of the mech, the enraged soldier willed to find the murderer. Whoever did this shall pay dearly!! Suddenly, he had a reading - pyromorph within 20 metre radius. . .

Heat! . . . Haizar turned around. He saw a humanoid with a ring of purple fire orbiting it. "That must be the thing that destroyed my friends!" he thought, his anger rising. He tried to attack the creature. Unfortunately, his weapons could not penetrate the ring of fire protecting the beast. The beast retaliated almost immediately, sending a stream of purple flame at the enemy. But with the quick reflexes of the user and the agility of the mech, Haizar evaded the attack with ease.

"Fool! There is no use fighting the most powerful being in the universe! No one can defeat . . . " A blue ray of light struck the creature from nowhere, distracting it temporarily.

"This is pack #14 of the EFS! Give up or die, pyromorph!!" shouted a familiar voice from a mech hovering above the duo. Making the most of the distraction, Haizar flew at the pyromorph, attempting to perforate the ring of fire by flying through it with his shields set to full power. Once inside, he thought, he could use all his weapons and maybe hurt it enough to make it unconscious. If he died, he would at least die a noble death and the whole pack #14 would witness his brave act.

He did die. But not the way he had expected.

As he approached the pyromorph, the indicator fell to zero. Suddenly, Haizar felt sick in his heart. He paid no heed to the warning. He continued his attack on the beast. At the crucial moment of contact, he self-destructed, taking the pyromorph with him.

Copyright 1997 by Eugene Wong Kee Onn

A short Bio of Eugene:

-DOB: 15March1981
-POB: Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia
-Hobbies: writing, reading (fantasy, sci-fi),
 cybersurfing, thinking
(philosophical stuff), 
weightlifting(just started on Jan).
-Ambition: Mechatronics engineer / Medical Speacialist / Nanotechnology
-Fav. animal: wombat
homepage URL:


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