By Atk. Butterfly

Daryl knew the man was a bastard the moment he first heard the man's name. As well, there was no doubt in his mind that they'd eventually cross paths. He planned on doing the crossing, leaving the other man facing a dead end. Otherwise . . . Well, Daryl didn't want to think about anything negative concerning himself.

Still, he had a daunting task facing him as he'd have to face the man's gang first before he could get to the man himself. Daryl rechecked his gear knowing that he couldn't turn back once he began his penetration of the gang's turf. The quake of '09 left the city on a vertical cliff on one side that formed part of the gang's boundary. No one had penetrated it that way before. Not in the way Daryl planned to do. Others tried scaling it with pitons and such, a sure giveaway to the few guards stationed at the top. They'd proved more than once that they weren't deaf. Daryl had a better idea.

The rock that dropped below sea level while demolishing a quarter of the old city had exposed some of the old water and sewer mains. The water was diverted. A few of the sewer mains were still in use. However, they couldn't be entered from the city because electrified bars blocked the passageway near the other boundary of the gang's turf. A few people had tried and fried.

His pack felt heavy. However, it was necessary as it contained his ammunition. He was, after all, going in to face a small army of thugs. There wasn't any other way to reach his enemy and avenge himself for his loss. Either he'd succeed or it wouldn't matter to Daryl. He just hoped that the glow marker he put in place earlier was still active. If it wasn't, his attempt would get off to an early ending as he'd find himself slamming into the rocky cliff first and the ocean second.

The sun dropped below the horizon. Barely any light remained in the sky. Daryl cinched up his pack a bit tighter, grabbed the bar of his hang glider, and ran for the edge.

The glider dipped slightly, then caught what was left of the warm breeze that came in off the ocean. The glider sluggishly lifted up as he soared out over the water. Quickly, he shifted his body so he could turn in the direction of the city.


Daryl spotted the weak glow of the marker. He hoped that the glider wasn't visible to any of the guards. If it was, they'd likely empty a few bursts of automatic fire in his direction. He wouldn't have to worry about hitting the cliff.

Silently, he sped through the darkening sky toward the cliff and the marker. He hoped that he hadn't forgotten where he placed it with his arrow. It hadn't been easy earlier to put the arrow into position while shooting from the water without attracting any of the guards. In fact, it took eight shots before he got the arrow to stick instead of bouncing off the rocks.

Down a bit more, he thought. Down, down . . . Try to slow down a bit. Remember to swing the nose of the glider up at the last moment and swing his feet into the sewer main. If he could slam himself into the main, he'd be within feet of the top surface and that much nearer his goal of revenge.

Daryl felt the cliff hit him as he lost too much altitude at the last moment. Instead of him being in the sewer main, his glider went in it. He was thankful that he had a safety strap on as he lost his grip on the guidance bar on impact. For a moment he swung loosely below the open sewer main. Then the glider angled up as his weight pulled on it, threatening to shift it enough to slide out and drop him a hundred feet into the ocean where sharp jagged rocks would probably be sufficient to finish him anyway. If those didn't, then his blood would probably draw sharks. The sharks would reach him before he could possibly be found or crawl out. Daryl clawed at the rock facing to secure some sort of hold. Anything to relieve the stress his weight placed on the glider. It was angling upward more and more until . . .

Daryl felt like his head would never stop ringing. The explosion was much closer than he preferred. It was fortunate though. He realized as the ringing stopped that had his body entered the sewer main he'd be dead. Instead, his glider was . . .

Daryl suddenly realized that his glider was no longer slipping. Incredibly, the explosion somehow fused or embedded part of the glider framework into the sewer main. The rest of the glider was shredded, but he was alive and still attached by his safety harness to the frame. Plus the unforeseen booby trap was removed from his way.

He placed his hands and feet out to the cliff to steady himself so he wouldn't bounce about. Daryl remained quiet and listened. He wondered if anyone was above him looking down for him. If they saw any of the metal glinting off their flashlights, he was certain that bullets would rain down on him quickly thereafter, even if they couldn't see him because of his camouflage clothing and face paint.

Daryl felt like several minutes went by before he dared make any movement. Then he pulled himself up his safety harness and grabbed hold of the framework. Hand over hand, he pulled himself closer to the open sewer and scrabbled with his legs to slide himself in. Only when he felt himself in with secure footing for his feet did he finally know that he was going to make it. He pulled himself in the rest of the way until his safety harness held him from progressing any farther. Deftly, he removed the harness from his waist and eased it away so as not to make any noise.

Carefully he removed a pen light from his shoulder strap and twisted it on. Its feeble rays were more than enough to light up the dark interior of the sewer. There was still some smoke and dust hanging in the air. He peered ahead to make out what other traps might be waiting for him as it dawned on him that he'd been lucky he missed the opening like he had. Otherwise he'd be little more than shark bait now after being blown out of the sewer main like a clogged-up, regurgitating sink.

Slowly, Daryl moved forward. He pressed against one wall to give himself additional support against slipping in the muck that the blast hadn't shot out. His hand felt an opening in the sewer. Quickly he aimed his light and glanced at the opening before trusting himself to move inward anymore. It appeared to be a natural cavern that was inches away from the sewer wall and now open. Dust disturbed for the first time in ages hung in the air inside it. The musky odor told him that much. He reached forward to the other side of the broken sewer wall when he heard the metal objects drop down into the sewer main from somewhere above. Then he realized the objects were grenades. With nowhere else to go, he quickly ducked into the musky, ancient cavern and moved away from the sewer until he came up against an object that blocked him from going any farther.

Wham! Wham!

The two grenades went off. Then he heard voices.

"Okay, now go down there and make sure no one's alive! The boss don't want anyone coming in uninvited! Move it!"

"We're going!"

"No need to shove!"

Daryl knew then that they'd find him. There was too little an area to search. They might not spot him immediately, but they'd spot the break in the wall and surely check it out. Then they'd spot him. He drew his weapons from his holster, determined to make them pay handsomely for his life.

"Hey! What's that?"

"I'm not sure. I don't see anyone down here except us."

"Well, we better check that out at the edge. Move forward while I cover you with the light and my gun."

"Why me? Why not you?"

"It was my idea and you don't want to mess with me. Now just get the hell over there!"

"Okay! You didn't have to shove! Damn it! It's slippery down here!"

"Quit your bitchin'!"

The man up above hollered, "Anything yet?"

"Not yet, man! There's something at the opening that we're checking out! We'll let you know in a moment!" the man with the light replied.

Daryl saw the thug come into sight. The thug glanced at the break in the wall and angled his own flashlight to peer inside. Daryl fired before the thug could spot and shoot first. The thug grimaced and twisted about as he fell into a heap while his gun and flashlight clattered into the muck. The slight flow of waste water carried the flashlight past to fall into the ocean.

"Jesus! He's still alive!" the other man inside the sewer shouted.

The man up top hollered, "Well, don't just stand there! Get him! Kill the bastard!"

Daryl didn't worry about the men referring to him in the same way as he felt about their boss. Instead, he crouched down to present less of a target and remained alert. The man with the flashlight moved closer and closer to the opening. Just before Daryl was certain that the man was next to it, he spotted the man's hand holding a gun as it snaked around the edge to shoot into his refuge. There was no option left but to fire at what Daryl could see. He fired both his weapons at the hand outlined by the light in the sewer main. At least he could see what he was aiming at. Two bullets screamed past him while his own shots peppered the opening. About the fourth shot, Daryl saw the gun drop from the hoodlum's hand as he heard the hoodlum scream in pain. Stupidly, the hoodlum danced about and presented a better target to Daryl. He fell on top of his dead partner from Daryl's next shot.

Daryl expected more of the gang to enter. Instead, he heard more metal objects dropping inside the sewer. He knew they were using more grenades. Desperately, he looked around with his pen light and made his way to the side of the cavern where he felt he'd be most protected from the blast. That was provided the cavern didn't cave in and bury him.

Four grenades went off one by one before Daryl spotted lights moving in the sewer again. His ears rang so much, he couldn't hear them enter or move down the sewer main. He crouched by the cavern side with his guns at the ready. Daryl held his fire until he saw one of the enemy outlined in the opening to the sewer. Then he cut loose. The man staggered away from the opening with at least three hits to his body. A moment later, the man was out of sight. Another man was shouting something that Daryl couldn't make out. Then he saw the metal object enter the opening. There was nowhere to run! Nowhere left to hide!

Daryl did his best to shield himself from the blast before it went off.

The shrapnel tore at his flesh. Pain seared his brain. Dazed and confused, Daryl tried to steady himself to ward off his attackers if they rushed him. He didn't know that something else was inside the cavern with him. Its glow was hidden by the flashlight beams in the sewer main that Daryl concentrated on. Nor was Daryl conscious of a new opening almost beside him. He aimed his guns at the jagged sewer opening, desperate to make the gang pay before they finished him.

Another gang member came into the craggy opening. Before the gang member or Daryl could fire at each other, a beam pulsed out from behind Daryl. The next moment, the gang member was gone. Vaporized where he had stood.

Twice more, the beam pulsed before Daryl realized that he wasn't alone in the cavern. He turned slowly to see that an object glowed eerily beside him. He wasn't at all sure why he hadn't noticed it before. Its smooth body wasn't at all like the rest of the cavern. For a moment he stood there beside it in stunned amazement. Then thoughts reached out to him.

Get in now, it sang in his head.

Somehow, Daryl realized he'd found an ally. At least, whatever it was inside the ship he now recognized the object to be wasn't against him. Now did he stand dumbly to ponder on how the being within could speak to his thoughts. Daryl staggered into the opening nearly beside him. He wasn't sure where to go once he was inside. Somehow, though, the being within knew that he needed direction.

Yes, keep going that way, the voice in his mind sang.

Moments later Daryl sank onto a seat that almost begged to support his weight. Diffuse light permeated the interior. An interior that appeared to have been created for someone such as himself to live in. However, there was no one else inside. Not that Daryl could see as his eyes roved about the interior. He was only dimly aware that the hatch was now closed.

Are there more?, the voice sang to his mind.

Daryl thought of the countless gang members but his thoughts didn't reach the other being.

Are there more?, the voice sang again.

Daryl answered, "Yes, there are more enemies."

A screen appeared in front of him. Point them out, the voice sang into his mind.

Only then did Daryl realize that the ship was no longer within the cavern. It wasn't a screen. It was a view port. He was looking out upon the city. At least, that part which constituted the gang's home turf. He and the ship he was in was were hovering just above the surface.

"How'd we get here?" Daryl asked.

The voice sang in his mind, I vaporized the rock that held me. I am free now. Who threatens you? Are those creatures your enemy?

Daryl looked at the men outside the ship. Their faces were contorted in fear even though they were firing their guns futilely at the ship. The slugs were glancing off the sides without effect.

"Yes, they are my enemies. They are men who work for Synoman," Daryl answered.

A split moment later, five men were no longer standing before the ship. Only vapor remained that diffused into the night air in the glare of the succeeding pulses that wiped them out one by one in quick succession. Daryl would have missed seeing them hit had he blinked.

Where is Synoman?, the voice sang.

Daryl answered, "In the large building there. In the penthouse. That's at the top."

The being Daryl couldn't see effortlessly appeared to know where Daryl meant. The ship moved like ball lightning through the night to the building and up into the night air until it was almost at the very top.

"This is the floor Synoman lives on!" Daryl said before the ship went too high.

Before his very eyes, Daryl saw Synoman staring out the penthouse window at him. Two scantily clad women stood beside him. One was in his arms. Several gunmen turned quickly to the window from their positions behind furniture where they were covering the elevator entrance. A few raised their weapons to fire.

Pulses of energy tore through the windows to strike the gun men dead, vaporizing them no less efficiently than the men killed moments earlier.

Daryl exclaimed, "That's Synoman with his arms around that woman!" The ship rocked slightly. "What was that?"

Small flying objects with explosive charges that sought me out, the voice sang to Daryl.

Daryl asked, "Are we safe in here? Can Synoman harm us?"

You are quite safe. You will be in charge as soon as I destroy Synoman. Then the world is yours, the voice sang inside Daryl.

"The world? Mine? I don't understand. Are you sure Synoman can't harm you?"

Synoman cannot harm me from outside. Unless you let him in, he can do nothing. Only from within can I be harmed, the voice sang liltingly.

"But who are you? I haven't seen you yet," Daryl stated as he watched Synoman quiver helplessly in front of the open penthouse.

I am all around you. I do your bidding.

"I don't understand. All I've seen so far is a ship. Where's whoever's piloting this thing and talking to my mind?" Daryl replied.

Ah! I understand you now. To you, I am the ship. The ship is my body. You are fortunate you found me. It has been a long time since I was called upon to conquer as is my purpose, sang the voice inside the gray corporeal matter.

"You're a war machine?" asked Daryl. The two women in the penthouse managed to gather their wits about them. One had to break free of Synoman's grasp before she escaped minus part of her wardrobe.

Yes, you understand me now. This world is yours now. I shall make it so, the ship sang within Daryl's conscience.

Daryl asked, "Then nothing can touch us from outside? Someone would have to be inside here to harm you or me?"

Correct. From now on, what you desire is yours or no one's. There is no in between. My orders are to give you what you want. Anyone who opposes you, conspires against you, even thinks ill of you, is my enemy. You are now the Alpha. No one may oppose the Alpha. Even when you are outside, I shall obey, sang deeply into Daryl's mind.

"The Alpha?" asked Daryl.

Correction, the master, sang the subconscious voice.

Daryl asked, "How do you know English?"

Though I have lain here all these ages, I have not been fully dormant. I have monitored what takes place around me. Are you satisfied?, sang the ship.

"Well, that answers that, I guess. What if I don't want to rule the world?"

You will rule because I say you rule. Anyone who does not surrender to you what you want is mine to deal with from now on, sang the voice in deep sub-woofer tones that threw chills down Daryl's body and made the hairs on his skin stand upright.

"And you'll never fail me? This isn't some sort of a trick?"

My creation was expressly made for obedience to my master. You are now my master until you are replaced by an heir at the natural end of your life. Anyone who opposes you, threatens you, thinks ill of you will become nothing. What you desire is yours. This world is yours when Synoman is gone, sang the voice.

Daryl removed the backpack from his shoulders so he could sit a bit more comfortably in spite of his wounds. He was unsure if the ship could see what he was doing as he fished around inside it with his good hand.

Do the women mean anything to you?, the voice sang to Daryl's mind.

"No, they mean nothing to me. They're not a threat, either. They're not my enemies," Daryl answered.

Daryl was relieved to see the two women escape into the elevator a moment later just as another pulse went through the open window of the penthouse to vaporize Synoman. Daryl twisted the knob on the timer just enough to activate it without knowing how long it was set for. In a way, Daryl was relieved that he didn't know how soon it would go off. He only knew that in destroying one terror, he had released another far worse. What he had done so far was for revenge. With his mind released from his longing for revenge, he was now operating on a higher plane.

The world is now yours. I shall seek out anyone whose mind opposes you, sang the ship in tones that should have given Daryl an overdose of good feeling as it stimulated endorphines deep within his cortex.

Daryl replied, "I don't really want the . . ."

His mind picked up the ship's last words as the explosion ripped the ship apart. There was only enough time for the ship to sing, I gave you the world. Why did you refuse it?

There wasn't enough time for Daryl to answer since the ship couldn't read Daryl's mind as it was torn apart. It's doubtful that the ship would have understood, even had Daryl possessed enough time to answer.

}|{ the end }|{

Atk. Butterfly works as a Computer Programmer/Systems Analyst, most often as a contractor. An avid science fiction reader, Atk. has written a number of science fiction stories. Some have actually been published in Dragon Dreaming, Dream Forge, Eternity Online, Exodus, Fusion, Just Because, Keen Science Fiction!, The Rock, The Tales' Realm, TimeWinder, and Veils Magazine. As well, he wrote a few technical computer articles which were published in computer magazines. His novel, Washout, is available online from HyperBooks at URL

Atk. is an Event Host on Prodigy in the Books and Writing Area where he moderates a writing workshop for science fiction, fantasy, horror, and humor. He is presently the editor of Preditors & Editors, a web resource for writers, composers, and artists located at URL He also has a personal web site located at URL which he hopes people will visit and enjoy.

Copyright 1997 by Atk. Butterfly

Sign My Guestbook

Return to the Aphelion main page.