“After” – Chapter 3

Prologue
Chapter 1
Chapter 2

Chapter 3

I cringed. I didn’t mind dissecting anything, from an insect to a human, but the cracking of the bones still gave me the creeps. We had done scans of all five of their brains, so now it was time to get up close and personal while we were waiting for the results. I wasn’t much help in the neurology area, so I started in on the organs. We hadn’t ever found anything odd about their organs before, but we also haven’t had very many to study before either. It’s really hard to gather any Recreants to study, because any that fall usually get dusted by the Evarian before we can reach them. Of course, most of us have had our suspicions about it, but we don’t know the culture of these thing either, so nobody could be certain.

The two of us worked quietly on the body. I started at the top and went down. Lungs, normal, but singed from being shot. What was left of the heart looked normal. Liver, kidneys, intestines, stomach, everything, all normal. Just like the others, no physiological changes. I wasn’t surprised by that, and I wasn’t happy about it either.

“Alright Monty, I’m out of here.” I finally said. “There’s nothing to find down under. How’re you doing way up there?”

“Okay. Yeah. Good.” She muttered distractedly, never taking her eyes off her work.

“Alright, well Cruz just blew up half of sector 3, and I think the buildings are alive.” I said giving her a hard time.

“Okay, good.” She muttered again. Obviously she was paying zero attention to what I was saying.

I left to find Salem to update him on what we hadn’t found yet.

***

I knocked on Salem’s door. There was no answer for so long that I started to walk away, just as I did, the door opened.

“Sorry.” Salem said. “I was pouring over battle notes I’ve written.” He looked like he hadn’t slept in days. The oddity of the skirmish obviously wore on him. “Tell me we have something.”

“Nothing Salem, sorry. We got all the scans done, but they aren’t back yet. I went through all the organs, and nothing was out of the ordinary. Monty is still working on the first brain, but I don’t know what, if anything is going on there. She’s doing her thing. I told her Cruz blew up half of sector three, and she just said, ‘Okay, good.'”

Salem chuckled. “Alright, well, keep me updated when you hear anything. If you want to knock off you can, just don’t sleep too heavy, or too late.” He said, emphasizing the last word.

“Alright Salem. You knock off at some point too.” I said, walking away.

“I give the orders.” He called after me.

“I know.” I replied off-handedly. “Good night Salem.” I heard the door shut behind me.

Instead of heading straight to my quarters, I went over to the weapons lab, where I’d left Cruz piled with shiny new toys.

Knocking on the door, I stepped into the lab lightly.

“Hey 47.” He said, looking up quickly.

“At least I got my nickname back.” I said relieved.

“I thought you hated it? I still want to kick your ass.”

“I do hate it, and I know. How’s it going?”

“It’s… confusing. I’ve looked through all of them, and I thought the trigger mechanism had a biology sensor or something, maybe on a cellular or genetic level since we can’t seem to fire them. I keep coming back to the fact that there are Recreants that use them though, and they’re human… sort of.” He sneered. “They can fire them, so why can’t we?”

“You have a good point, but I don’t think it’s biological. The few Recreants we have been able to study aren’t any different biologically than any other human.”

“Well, are you sure you’ve studied one that’s held one of these?” He said. “Did you keep track of who was holding the guns? Only a few of them get to. Maybe there’s something different about them.”

“I… never even thought of that… Shit. I’m going to have to look back through what we do know, and see if anyone else has done that. You would think we’d have something with nearly 20 years of study. Are there any other possibilities so far?”

“I don’t know, the whole thing is so weird. The internal mechanics aren’t anything like I’ve seen before. There’s parts and pieces that don’t connect in any logical way, and following the moving parts, it almost seems like they are there for no reason. They’ve got technology I’ve never seen before, but then they’ve also got old school gears in them. The kind you would see before the 2500s, but all the gears are mirrors. I split one down the middle, preserving the whole trigger system, to see what happens when I pull the trigger, but nothing moves. There definitely are moving parts in here, but they aren’t doing their only job. I wish I had half the information you do. It’s so damn hard to get ahold of these though.”

“If you had have the information I did, you would have next to nothing.” I said.

“I know, but that’s better than what I have now.” He laughed.

“So… What’s the deal, what do you think on the fact that they dust all the Recreants and their own dead, they grab all their weapons when they flee, they clean the place out, and we’re left clueless. I can’t believe how little we’ve gotten in the past 20 years. They’re too good at cleaning up, and ridiculously consistent.”

“My scientific opinion? They suck, and they’re hiding something.” He said.

“Very scientific.” I said laughing. “What are they hiding though? Can I check one of the guns out?” He handed me the one he had opened up. It was smooth, and rather unwieldy for human hands. The trigger system was on top. It was rounded, you held it much like you would a basket with a handle, and there was a handle on bottom for stability. The trigger itself was a long button across the inside of the upper handle that you squeezed. The general shape looked kind of like a really small cannon. It was about half an arms length with a wide opening at the barrel end. It was this solid silvery/white color all the way around and pristine, which was weird itself considering that it had probably seen a lot of battles. The insides were just like he described, a strange mix of solid state parts and ancient gears. The inside walls were just as smooth as the outside.

I brought it over to the safety chamber and fired. I didn’t expect it to fire, but none of the mobile parts moved either.

“I don’t know.” I said. “Not the slightest clue.” As if I would have known in the first place.

“Well, thanks for the help, I gotta get back to work.” He said quickly, seizing the opportunity to shoo me out.

“Still mad?”

“Yep.”

“Okay.” I mussed his already messy mop of thick black hair and turned around to leave.

“Don’t do that.” He complained.

“Your whining again Cruz.”

“Shut up.” He said as I walked out the door. I smiled.

[Ivy’s note: Hey sunshines, I really want constructive criticism and feedback. I hope to make this into a full sized, printed book one day, so please let me know what you think, and thank you ahead of time for those who do.]

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