Gunmetal Chronicles: Omega

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
For the Gunmetal Chronicles fans out there.

Submitted: April 02, 2016

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Submitted: April 02, 2016

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It was the seventh year, third month and eighth day of Rochus’ forty-year intersolar hijacking sentence, served in the interior of the isolated asteroid of Sigma-Phi-862, when a series of explosions threw him off his feet.

Rochus’ cellmate cursed first in a guttural foreign tongue, then asked in broken Standard, “We now space open?”

“I don’t know, Gretch” Rochus replied, picking himself up.

Another set of smaller but closer explosions rocked their prison walls.  The vacuum warnings that were part of monthly safety drills weren’t sounding.

“Was not me,” Gretch claimed.  “Did not steal.  Raid for nothing.”

Outside their cell, in the small general population area, other inmates were retreating into their cells.  All eyes were on the reinforced steel double-doors the guards normally came through, and sometimes an inmate might go out of and never return.  A few inmates didn’t make it back into their cells in time before all the cell doors automatically locked, leaving people inside to look out through the space at the bottom of their cell doors reserved for rolling in tear gas.

More explosions rocked the asteroid.  Still no vacuum warnings.  Their inside environment was still intact against tens of billions empty cubic kilometers between them and the next human habitation.

A burst of gunfire sent all the other inmates diving for the floor and their hands over the back of their heads.

“Swear, was not me,” Gretch said.  “Maybe you steal guard coffee, celly?”

Rochus gave the best shrug he could, laying prone on the floor, waiting for the riot teams to burst in and shake everyone down.  Instead, the double-doors hissed open, and one of the well-known guards, Hendricks, stumbled through.  The unshaven middle-aged man in a dark black uniform stenciled ‘862’ turned around, hands up.  

Someone in heavy black battle armor lined with bits of red, and wearing a gargoyle-like facemask followed Hendricks, holding the guard at gunpoint.  More armored soldiers poured in behind that one, clearing the general population area and cowing the inmates with their weapons.

“You can’t bloody do this!” Hendricks claimed.  “This is a Sovereignty installation.  This is a fucking prison for psychopaths and murderers!”

“Exactly,” said the soldier.  “Now, are you going to be a problem about this?”

“About what?”  Hendricks asked.

“About releasing the prisoners.  All of them.”

Hendricks stammered, “Are--  Are you fucking mental or something?”

The soldier shrugged.  “Maybe.”  He raised his weapon to Hendrick’s face.  “Again I ask: Are you going to be a problem about this?”

“No fucking way I’m releasing these assholes to--”

The soldier fired, blowing Hendrick’s head into little teardrop-sized gibs that sprayed onto the walls and even the ceiling.

“Jesus fucking Christ!”  Rochus swore.

The soldier that killed Hendricks eyed the dead man’s still standing body for a second, then tilted his head and gave the corpse a poke on the chest, sending the corpse flopping down onto the floor.  Blood poured out from the dead man’s neck, quickly turning into a small red pool on the cold cement floors.

“Bring in the next asshole,” the soldier called through the double-doors behind him.  

As the next guard was shoved in (Rochus knew this guard was Pieter), the soldier grabbed Pieter by his shirt and spun him around to take the same place as the dead Hendricks.

“Are you going to be a problem about this?” the soldier asked Pieter.

Pieter raised trembling hands.  “H-Hey,” he told the soldier, “you guys got the guns.  You do whatever you want.”

The soldier lowered his weapon.  “I like you,” he told Pieter.  “We can be reasonable if you’re reasonable with us.”

Pieter nodded quickly.  “Yeah, sure.  Very reasonable.”

The soldier nodded to his comrades, who brought their weapons up and took aim at different parts of the general population, passing their sights over inmates in their cells.

“Release them,” the soldier leader told Pieter.

“Uh…”  Pieter stumbled.  “They’ll kill me if I do.”

The soldier leader said nothing for a long moment.  

Pieter sweated profusely.

“Eh,” the leader finally said.  “Beat feet.”  He pointed behind him, to the double-doors.  “After you let them out.”

Pieter reached down into the dead Hendrick’s pockets, and pulled out the man’s controller.  The guard looked around one frightened time, then hit a sequence of buttons and bolted back through the double doors.

The cell doors all flew open once again, along with the reinforced double-doors.

Rochus and Gretch crawled over to their open door’s edge and looked out.  Rochus looked left, and his cellmate right.  And, for a few silent moments, no one knew what to do.

A young man known in pop as Richton bolted from his cell, and made it as far as a few meters from his cell before the nearest soldier shot him through the chest.  A flood of inmates rushed out of their cells, swarming over or past the soldiers as they made for the double-doors.

“We go!” Gretch said, and went to stand, but Rochus pulled him back down.

“Where?”  Rochus hissed.  

The soldiers had multiple heavy automatic weapons, and were wearing cybernetic assist armor.  Between the thunderous roar of their guns punching through multiple inmates with each shot, they flicked off the ones that tried to bring them down and crushed them under their feet.

“The doors!”  Gretch argued over the din.

“To.  Fucking.  Where?” Rochus argued back.  “We are on a fucking asteroid.”

Inmates were still swarming and dying to the soldiers outside.

“Huh?” Gretch said.

Rochus yanked his cellmate over by his shirt, “Look, you dumb Serb,” Rochus said.  “This is a fucking little rock in the middle of no-fucking-where.  Even if you did get out, there isn’t any roads to take you to any inhabitable fucking planet right next door.”

“What?” Gretch asked.  “Then why let us out?”

“Why do you think, idiot?”  Rochus replied.

The shooting stopped a few seconds later, leaving dozens of mauled and dismembered corpses on the concrete floor, covering the entire floorspace with blood.  The soldiers’ weapons were wafting gray vapor from their barrels as they scanned for more targets.

“Now what?”  Gretch whispered, but Rochus put a finger to his lips for silence.

The soldier leader must have somehow heard, for he yelled in return, “Those of you who weren’t stupid enough to try and run will come out, very slowly, with your hands up, and submit to my soldiers for processing.”

“See?”  Rochus told Gretch.

Gretch blinked a few times.  “Oh.”  He looked at his cellmate.  “What is ‘processing’?”

“Couldn’t be worse than a delousing,” Rochus replied, and did as he was told: standing up very slowly, and approaching his door at a creeping pace with his hands up, with Gretch following.

“You two,” the nearest soldier called to Rochus and Gretch.  “Line up against the wall near the double-doors.  Now.”

“Firing squad,” Gretch panic whispered in Rochus’ ear.  “They shoot us anyways, celly!”

“Gretch,” Rochus said over his shoulder, “I know it’s hard, but quit being such a dumbass.”

“Where I come from,” Gretch said, “firing squad very real thing.”

The near soldier raised his weapon, obviously hearing what they were saying.  “Move or you will be shot,” the soldier warned.

“Let’s go,” Rochus said, and yanked Gretch behind him, going over to the nearest wall.

The two cellmates were eventually joined by over a dozen other inmates.  Some were shaking, including Rochus and Gretch; but a few standouts were unfazed, including a stocky middle-aged man notorious in the pop as Wyrm.

“Shit,” Gretch whispered to Rochus when he saw Wyrm.  “Why he not dead?  He needs dead.”

Rochus glanced at the convicted hitman, Wyrm, out of the corner of his eye, and shivered a little.  “Men like him know how not to die, Gretch.”  He tapped his cellmate lightly on the shoulder.  “Best to follow his lead, right now.  If he lives through this, we can too.”.

The soldier’s leader, the one that had executed Hendricks, walked toward the dozen surviving inmates.  His reinforced boots clanked metal on the concrete as the soldier started on  the left end of the line.  The leader had words with the first few, and just shot the rapist Green dead through the forehead; at least with a pistol, so the dead man’s blood didn’t go everywhere like it had with Hendricks.

The soldier leader came to Rochus.  “What are you in for?” he asked.

Rochus swallowed.  He had Green’s blood on his shoes.  “Intersolar hijacking,” he told the leader who still had a pistol in his hand.  “I jacked a coupla freighters between skips.”

“A few?”

Rochus laughed like men do when coming unhinged in the face of death.  “Okay,” he confessed.  “Five.”

The soldier whistled.  “Not bad,” he said, then asked, “What was onboard, and how did you get caught?”

“Oh, Jesus,” Rochus hung his head.  “We thought they were arms shipments.  We were going to sell them to insurgents on the black market.”  He made a stupid little laugh this time, and even blushed a bit, as well.  “Ended up being full of produce: potatoes, livestock, fucking wheat.  Every one of them.”

“Were you the ringleader of this little operation?”

“No, thank God,” Rochus said.  “I just boarded and cleared.”

“And?” the soldier prompted.

“Yeah…”  Rochus sighed.  “The ringleader flipped on us.  The last freighter was a trap.”

The soldier chuckled.  “Thieves,” he mused.  “I’m assuming the guy is probably free right now?”  

Rochus nodded.  

“More typical than you’d probably believe,” the leader said, and went down the line to Gretch, leaving Rochus to exhale his relief at still being alive.

The leader got Gretch’s name, then chuckled again, waved a dismissive hand at the Serb, and moved on down the line.

Gretch grinned at his cellmate.  “Women, they love me, too,” he claimed.

Rochus rolled his eyes.

The leader came to Wyrm, near the end, and stopped dead in his tracks to face the hitman.  

Wyrm was a statue.

The leader eyed Wyrm up and down before deciding, “I like this one especially.” and moved on down the line.

The last guy in line took off, though.  Traven.

The leader watched the man run back to his cell, then turned around to ask the other inmates, “What’s his deal?”

“Child molestation,” Wyrm finally spoke in a very smooth, cultured voice.  “Multiple offenses.”

“Ah.”  The leader turned back to Wyrm, and waved his hand in invitation, in the direction of Traven’s cell.

The soldiers didn’t stop Wyrm from following Traven into his cell, where he closed the heavy door behind him.  The scream was still audible.

When Wyrm came out a few minutes later, the leader nodded again.  “Well,” he said, after Wyrm had rejoined the line.  “That’s taken care of.”  He pointed to the double-doors.  “Follow all orders and directions, please, and you will likely see a new life.”

 


 

Rochus followed the line of inmates outside the door, Gretch at his back, and Wyrm an uncomfortable distance behind him.  There were more armored soldiers in the control room hallway, and blood covered the control room glass.

The line of inmates were pointed down corridors and hallways Rochus would have likely never seen before.  The surviving eleven inmates passed other small lines of inmates and squads of black-armored soldiers, until they came to an empty conference room by the guidance of the soldier at the door.

The soldier with yet another gargoyle face waved them inside a bare blue-painted wall conference room with carpeting and lean-back black chairs around a falsewood table.

“Pretty,” Gretch observed.  “We sit?”

Wyrm sat first, leaning back in an executive chair and crossing his legs, looking perfectly in his place.  Every inmate took a seat afterwards.  There were no soldiers or guards.  

Gretch leaned over to Rochus and asked in a conspiratorial whisper, “You think we get cigars, maybe?”

“Not before Wyrm,” Rochus replied.

The door opened, much calmer than Rochus had come to expect from the prison guards.  

A tall man entered.  He had shoulder-length brown hair and was wearing light, unmarked combat armor, black but with red trim, with a pistol on each hip.  He was quickly joined by two masked soldiers in ceremonial armor holding what looked like carbines.

“Gentlemen,” the tall man said.  “You have made it this far after numerous tests to weed out the weak, the stupid, and the irredeemable.”

Wyrm interrupted in a polite and formal way Rochus didn’t know a man could in the face of death, “To whom, may I ask, do we owe the pleasure of this intervention?”

The tall man looked across the table at the speaker.  “They call you Wyrm, in here,” he said.  “I know you.  I’ve heard of you.  My regards to the Family.”

Wyrm gave a small bow from his seat.

“I am not a proper man, by far,” the tall man said, “but, you may have heard of me, as well.”  He nodded to Wyrm.  “At least, the Arrington’s most loyal soldier might have.”  He looked over the rest of them.  “Not so sure about the rest of you.

“I am Lord Aramis Trask,” the tall man introduced himself.  “I tell you this only because you will either be entrusted to know many things such as this once you leave this room, or you will not leave this room alive.  Either way,” he shrugged, “you now know.”

“Holy crap,” Rochus hissed, wide-eyed.  “You’re--”

Trask glanced at his wrist, reading from a data source, “Adal Rochus.”  He looked at the man.  “Intersolar hijacking, multiple counts.”  He shrugged.  “Forty years.  Thirty-three to go.”

“It didn’t pay, sir--”

The soldier on Trask’s right cut Rochus off, “He is Lord Trask, meat.  Address him so.”

Trask waved a casual hand at the soldier.  “They’ll soon learn,” he said, and then went through the rest of their files very quickly.

At the reading of Gretch’s offense--nine counts of armed robbery and three of illegal metagen drug trade, sentenced to thirty years--Rochus leaned to whisper conspiratorially in return to his cellmate, “You told me you only did that twice.”

Gretch shrugged.  “I got greedy,” he said.

“You also told me you only robbed other dealers.”

“Well…”  Gretch smiled.  “Seven out of nine was.  Is still enough for ‘only’.”

“That’s not the definition of ‘only’, Gretch.”

Trask cleared his throat, and the sound made both Rochus and Gretch shiver.

“Gentlemen,” Trask said, talking past the interruption.  “You are my new ‘recruits’.”

“We kinda didn’t ask to be recruited,” one of the other inmates said.  He cowered down as Trask’s honor guards raised their carbines.  “Okay, okay!  I get it!”

“This isn’t a choice,” Wyrm observed.

“Technically, it is,” Trask said.  “If you consider a bullet through your brain as your only other choice.”  He glanced at his wristpad again, musing aloud, “More than a few making that choice even now…”

Rochus felt a chill run the length of his spine.

“Good walls,” Gretch idly observed.  “No sound.”

Rochus raised his hand very slowly, and Trask stared at it as if it was the middle finger, prompting Rochus to hurriedly drop it.

“What, meat?” the guard on the right asked.  

“It’s just that…”  Rochus looked around at everyone else before continuing.  “I know you, Lord Trask.  At least, I’ve heard of you.”

“I have a reputation,” Trask said.

When the man said no more, Rochus explained for the rest of his inmates: “He’s Lord Trask.  It was just a rumor going around the galaxy, and especially for spacers, but he supposedly wipes out entire planets and fights the Reevor out past the frontier.”  Rochus turned to Trask.  “They call your army the Omega, don’t they?”

Trask allowed a very small hint of a smile.  “Of course,” he said, “the criminal element has heard of Omega, since we recruit the condemned, exiles and the forsaken for our business.”

“And that business is, m’Lord?”  Wyrm asked.

“You have heard, I’m assured, Donovan,” Trask replied.  “In your line of work and with the Arrington family, you would have crossed path and completed transactions with people related to us and our friends.”

Wyrm nodded.

“Yes,” Trask confirmed.  “And our business is exterminating the darkest threats to the galaxy: Reevor, terrorists, zealots, rebels, rogue government, and, at times, criminal organizations.”  He turned to Rochus.  “Your former ringleader is dead.  Omega didn’t do it, but friends of ours did.  He broke his deal with the authorities, and was plotting to hijack some military ships bound for protected worlds.”

“Oh,” Rochus said, then realized the news made him smile.  “Good.  Fucking bastard…”

“Now.”  Trask pulled his pistol--a custom but still humble device--and laid it on the conference table in front of him.  “You will either be meat for the grinder, for me, or you will be meat zipped in a bag.  So choose.”

Rochus offered his hands up in surrender.  Gretch, beside him, did the same, along with most everyone else, including Wyrm.  

The same guy that had protested earlier about being recruited leaned forward and opened his mouth to speak.  Trask had his pistol off the table in hand and shot the man through the mouth in less than a second.  The pistol was back on the table before its strange ammo casing hit the floor.

“Troublesome,” Trask commented.  He said for all of them to hear, “The tests aren’t over.”

Rochus stared at the dead man, who was still twitching in his chair, and then back over Trask.  The ammo casing was still rolling.  

“F-Fine,” Rochus stammered out.  “What happens next?”

 


 

What happened next took Rochus and Gretch through a period of initiation and training neither knew for how long, but both would later agree it was like dying multiple times.  The two and their fellow recruits spent long periods of time in training Hell on nameless worlds, in between trips through empty voids like Purgatory on darkened ships.

That was their training.

They never saw Wyrm again.  Rochus figured his skill set took the hitman back solo again.  

The two former cellmates became teammates, first known in the beginning of their new lives as Meat--capital M emphasized.  Then, after a dark campaign exterminating pirates preying on transport ships between two Protectorate world, they were merely Privates.

They fought the Reevor on multiple worlds during the Sixth Purging, fighting them behind their own lines, and winning the endless war again for humanity.  As reward for surviving, they were made Corporals.

Gretch was destroyed along with his orbital drop pod over a world in rebellion.

Rochus found out about his friend’s death afterwards, once the smoke cleared, and the rebel leaders were all executed.  He mourned him, along with dozens of Gretch’s other friends and comrades in Omega, but he did not cry.  

Rochus was no longer Rochus.  They knew him as Roach, then.  He’d killed dozens of people and Reevor by then, to the point he was no longer keeping track.  Roach became as hard as Omegas did in service to their murderous Lord, committing the most extreme acts of annihilation, and carrying out the galaxy’s immoral vengeance as the dark executioner’s axe in the long night.

And Roach had made Sergeant when, five years and almost a dozen campaigns later, he led Omega raiders into another prison deep and alone in space.

Sergeant Roach held this prison’s Warden at gunpoint and asked the man, “Are we going to have a problem today?”


 


© Copyright 2017 Jack Motley. All rights reserved.

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