“He’s building them an ark.”

“An ark? I don’t get it.”

“He’s building an ark to leave this world behind for the stars. He must be stopped before they allow him to lead them into the void. Nothing awaits mankind up there but death as surely as if they stayed here without our hands to guide them and keep them safe. Will you help me save the human race Thorne?”

“How? I’m just one person Victor.”

“Samuel doesn’t know you exist. It’s unlikely he has devised a way to counter your power. You can kill him with a thought Thorne and afterwards your gift will make you the perfect watchman to help keep the norms in check until they see the truth of things. You would have a chance to create a paradise with me unlike any this world has ever known. Eventually I believe we’d even be able to reclaim this entire planet from the rotting grasp which holds it now.”

Victor watched Thorne thinking over his words.

“I’ll do it,” Thorne agreed but even as he spoke the words he reached out subtly trying to touch Victor’s mind. He had to know if Victor was sincere in his desire to start over and rebuild or he if was just a madman bent on gaining power for himself. He felt an unnatural wall around Victor’s mind and knew he had made a mistake.

Victor’s eyes glowed red with anger. He grabbed Thorne by the throat with a single hand lifting him into the air and dangled him above the horde of dead below. Thorne fought against Victor’s hold on him but the man’s grip was like steel and his flesh felt more like metal than skin. Thorne strained to reach into Victor’s mind. His eyes went wide as he realized why he couldn’t. “You… You’re not alive,”

Thorne gasped.

“I am sorry you feel that way,” Victor said calmly. “Things would have been far easier for us all if you did not.” Blood stained Victor’s fingers as they dug into Thorne’s neck. “My father felt the same after he finished me but I am more alive than any of you will ever be. This is my world now Thorne. Goodbye.” Victor whispered sadly and released Thorne.

Thorne screamed looking up at the thing that called itself a man as he fell to the streets below. The dead fought over his splattered remains in a frenzy as Victor wiped off his hands and began planning how to defeat Samuel on his own once more. The battle to come would be bloodier now but it was a small price to pay to make his visions real.

Reapers at the Door

The blaring of alarm klaxons tore Scott from sleep. His worst nightmare had suddenly become very real. The alarm could only mean one thing; the war had reached the Talon VIII station at last. He rolled out of bed, dragging on his uniform, as he clumsily tried to open a com-link to the bridge. No one up there was either able or had time to answer his hail though he guessed as the attempt failed.

Visions of “Reaper” war-pods attaching themselves all over the station’s hull and spilling their cargo of moving, violent, rotting flesh into the corridors filled his head. The “Reapers” didn’t fight space battles.

Their ships dropped out of nether-space already breaking up, spewing thousands upon thousands of boarding pods at the enemy target they engaged. Nor did the “Reapers” believe in combat themselves.

Only one out of a hundred such pods actually contained a “Reaper” shock-troop. The rest were crammed full of dead humans whose bodies the “Reapers” had acquired at the start of the war by using biological weapons without warning against the outer colonies.

They possessed Billions of human corpses that thanks to their bio-manipulation of the dead had become the perfect foot-soldiers for them in the war. The reanimated dead attacked anything alive, which wasn’t a member of the “Reaper” race.

Scott know the Talon’s defensive systems would have thinned out the number of pods before they reached the station but Talon VIII was a “New Earth” era station and was mostly automated. Counting himself there were only twenty-three members on its crew. He knew himself and the others were as good as dead from the second he had heard the alarm. The “Reapers” never sent less than five thousand boarders regardless of their target and its strength. They firmly did believe in overkill rather than taking chances. Besides the dead were expendable and were easy to replace or to reanimate again.

Scott darted from his quarter and headed straight for the armory. Call it a human thing to do, but he didn’t intend to just sit around and wait on death to come to him. As he rounded the corner of the corridor that led to the lifts to the lower level, a section of the corridor wall melted away in front of him opening up into a “Reaper” battle- pod.

Men and women who stunk like spoiled meat came pouring out into his path. Their rotting flesh was a pale grayish color but their eyes glowed orange and locked onto him with a feral rage. He cursed loudly spinning around to head back the way he had came with the shambling dead giving chase behind him.

Scott nearly ran head on into the Talon’s security chief, Heather. Her battle armor was tattered and blood leaked openly from claw and bite marks covering her body.

“Get out of here!” she yelled at him. “Everybody else is either dead or cut off.” She shoved a pulse rifle into his hands as he stared at her amazed that she could even be standing let alone barking orders. She moved past him opening fire with her own at the approaching horde that howled for the taste of his flesh. Scott snapped out his shock as she screamed back at him.

“Blow the damn core!” Then she vanished from sight as the wave of the dead washed over her.

Scott started running again gripping the weapon she’d given him in white knuckled hands, his boots pounding on the metal floor of the passage way. A smile began to creep onto his face. “Of course,” he thought, “The core.” He and his crewmates may be destined to die out here in the void aboard the Talon VIII as it was overrun but at least he could take some of the “Reapers” and all of their drones here with him.

Scott skidded to a halt outside the blast doors that led to the main core. His fingers danced over the keys of the lock entering the access code. The huge doors dilated open and Scott found himself face to face with a real living, breathing “Reaper.”

The thing stood nearly nine feet tall and was all yellow scales and muscles. It hissed spraying venom over his face and eyes. Scott cried out as he felt his eyes melting inside their sockets and his skin smoked where droplets of the saliva had made contact. A huge two fingered hand and thumb closed about his neck lifting him from the floor with the sound of cracking bone. The “Reaper” dropped Scott’s form to the floor and stepped back as the dead approached. It flicked its forked tongue through the air.

Things had gone very well and its pets deserved a treat. It made no move to stop the dead as the converged on Scott, tearing and ripping at his flesh with hungry teeth.

Deadlier Country

Elijah laughed bitterly at the hand fate had dealt him. When the dead had begun to rise, he’d leapt into action. He had always been a loner. There were no loved ones or friends in his life to hold him back and prevent him from fleeing the city as quickly as possible. He was one of the first looters in the streets as the chaos erupted.

He’d systematically sought out the supplies he would need from a .22 rifle with several boxes of shells to a shotgun for stopping power and a sidearm, to a large hiking pack which he filled with canned foods, bottled water, and camping gear. Some of it, he bought from shops that were still open despite the hell around them and the rest he stole. He thanked God he hadn’t had to kill anyone though he had had a brawl with a gun shop owner who was trying to close up and lock down as he’d entered.

Elijah had crammed all his stuff into a SUV he hotwired and sped out of the city without looking back. The interstate had been covered with abandoned and wrecked cars so he couldn’t travel as fast as he’d hoped he could. There had even already been packs of the dead wandering the roadway but none that he hadn’t been able to avoid. He’d thought his logic had been sound. Get away from the city to the far less populated countryside and he would stand a much better chance of surviving to carry on long after the cities had burned and been overrun by the legions

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