The Kitty: From Wives To Wormholes!
The busted lights of the corridor flickered like a fading consciousness. It was the kind of corridor you’d typically expect when heading toward a sort of secret underground bunker, and I tried my hardest not to sneeze at the dust and dirt of this old, decrepit path, particles shining and dimming, shining and dimming, phasing in and out of existence every time the lightbulbs sprung to life then died. This soft strobe-light effect was giving me eye-strain as I walked past the soot, the echo of the sewers a distant memory now; just me and my footsteps resonating among this winding space that was leading me to lord-knows-where. The smell of rust from the metal pipes was strong here, and I was glad that I didn’t get ill easily.
At some point I pulled out one of my revolvers, holding one in my right hand like it was my safety blanket or plush toy companion. Never knew what could spring from this labyrinth, like one of those Hathgora or something just as worse and unexpected, tear me to pieces. Nothing would surprise me at this point, or so I thought.
After a few more minutes of traversing the space, something both refreshing and daunting appeared; a large, rusted steel pressure door with a valve handle got in my way, along with the rumblings echoing from within. Doubt it was gonna reveal a grand prize, like a new hovercar I’d sell away or maybe a fancy designer kitchen set for a kitchen I didn’t have. Danger was behind that door, that was a given, the resolution to this job too. But as I grabbed hold of the door’s valve and spun it, me in my lack of the truth should’ve known everything was about to flip on its side, flinging me into something well above what I was prepared for.
The pressure door fizzed like opening a bottle of pop and I pulled it inwards to finally reveal the lair — their lair beneath the denizens of this world, so down below I figured this to be a grave to a giant. Sounds blew toward me, the sounds of unintelligible speech, metallic clanging, pounding footsteps, and of a river rushing, echoed in this swirl of sound that almost made my ears want to bleed. Caution would be my only ally here, so I couched and slowly entered what would be revealed to me as a grand smuggling chamber.
The chamber was a dominion of shadows, something I’d take advantage of as I slowly maneuvered at the edge of the catwalk ahead, looking down upon the sight. It caped much of surrounding area, giving the view the inky black veneer, all except a grand canal of light-blue liquid… and them — all 16 Hathgora troopers.
Down below, among the numerous pillars that held this place like Atlas, near the rushing canal, were large, lumbering golems of living gray stone carrying their cargo, metal containers wrapped in laser-chain. Their big 8-foot golem bodies made even the toughest astroball player look wimpy, contrasted by the smooth curvature of their heads that stuck out with the unsettling, glowing beady balls of white energy for eyes under the broadness of their brows.
They wore black armor of refined Tulfur carbonate, the same material as the underarmor beneath of outfit. High-end, but almost tribalistic in design, legs exposed. They didn’t need more, nor did they need helmets. With shoulder plating extending out, chest pieces that accentuated their bulbous chests, their heads and legs were armored enough through sheer nature. But the worst of it was the arms they wielded: Q.A.R. Mk.4s — Quantic Automatic Rifles.
Angular, stout, the soulless dull gray weapons gave me shivers through experience. Utilizing Cryptinium as ammo, their robust positron inverters turns every drop into high-velocity, explosive fireballs, each round an armor-piercing nightmare that once tore through the Rocketfeller long ago, leaving a nasty repair bill in their wake.
To the Hathgora, these power-hungry toys were no doubt just an extension of their rage, or so they’d be in a battle. It was curious to see them hauling cargo as casually as they did. They stomped loudly, but with normalcy, and settled containers near a tunnel with unfitting gentleness. The caution served to increase my curiosity just a tad, though soon I’d learn of something even worse.
It was then that the sound of a hover engine shrieked softly then loudly from out of the tunnel the containers laid near, the Hathgora looking into the dark abyss that gradually filled with lights; the headlights of a transport.
The carrier vessel, a large yellow behemoth with three triangular astro-boosters on its rear, no doubt to give it extra heft in space flight, whirred its way into view and parked itself next to the numerous containers, particularly the largest contrainer, 10-feet tall, 14-feet long, 9-feet wide. The Hathgora troopers were expectant, and I looked on in confusion thinking: Where were the excavation equipment? Where was the fusion drill made to tear through metal and Earth toward the big score? Why is there only containers and a mere carrier vessel? Quite a light set-up for a grand fuel heist, way too light. Whatever was in the containers —if it was a heist at all— must be quite the firepower.
My expectations somewhat betrayed, I witnessed the side door of the vessel begin to release its hold, and downward it collapsed and revealed something— no, someone who shouldn’t be here.
“No way…” I murmured, shocked.
From the vessel walked a man, but not an ordinary man, but a man made of bright yellow energy; a Kalsanian man. The black attire —his overcoat that cloaked a somewhat overweight build, fedora, dress pants pressed and wrinkle-free and loafers remarkable in its shine within the muck— made him unmistakable. You’d have to be a good enough tactician to stage a smuggling operation so well hidden and orchestrated, and now it was obvious to me who it was.
Kordo of Kalsan; arms dealer, terrorist, swindler. One of the galaxy’s notorious criminals, but that was nearly a decade a ago. I killed him, at least that’s what it seemed. The only thing scarier to me than Hathgora were ghosts, especially if they’re nefarious memories from your past. Kordo should’ve been dead years before, yet here he is, the glowing man who looks no older than he did when I blew up his ship into antimatter. A foe is a discomfort; a foe you can’t kill is a nightmare.
Kordo walked out, serious, focused expression, though his face wasn’t exactly a face, but rather orange shapes that resembled facial features. No hair, no skin, no muscle, the circular shapes conveyed a sternness, a line where a mouth should be in a slant that looked like a frown. Every Hathgora merely stared on except for one, a trooper with distinctive shoulder plating of gold instead of the usual black. He walked toward Kordo, meeting eyes.
“How are we doing, Captain?” asked Kordo.
“Our trail is confirmed to be cold,“ replied the Hathgora Captain. “Authorities on this planet are blinded snakes for our benefit. The gangs were feeble as you said, smitten by the iron hot touch of our armaments and fury! After an assault like that, no one dared to follow.”
“As far as you know.”
“You doubt our abilities?”
Kordo shook his head. “No, boyo, just your judgement. If it were so simple, I’d have accomplished this long ago. Unforeseen… setbacks have happened before.”
The captain let out a soft growl. “Who on this world would dare get in our way? Freelancers? Amateurs! Police? Weak joke! I doubt even the local mob would want to poke at us with a one-million-foot pole unless they want to burn like the others!”
“I wish I had that optimism, but we’re behind schedule as it is. May I see it?”
“You may.” The Hathgora Captain turned to his troopers, then nodded. The troopers nodded back. “Observe it much as you wish.”
Three troopers began to unlatch the largest container. I thought my curiosity couldn’t get any higher, now I felt an urge to stop the unveiling like a ghost whispering in my ears. I held back that feeling, if only because I wanted to maintain my vantage point and formulate a plan, to maybe see if Mr. Movak was still alive even.
Upon opening the final latch, they wasted no time unraveling the container… and my gut imploded in on itself in terror. From its jail was a mass of titanium, large circuitry, wires of varying sizes, long and bulky, crudely designed, but nonetheless a work of the most evil engineering the galaxy knows. The tubular shaft led to large dome array with an almost diamond-like antenna and mechanical apparatuses that curved into itself, the stabilization mechanisms of what was now recognized: They were in possession of a wormhole cannon!
This was a worst case scenario and I never thought about it being a possibility. A wormhole cannon is banned military hardware installed on command vessels for interplanetary warfare. I’ve seen enough to make a fan-fiction about them, and they somehow managed to smuggle one of these past planetary guard. Even Chromon-controlled police wouldn’t approve of planet-annihilating weaponry, paid or not.
A single fully charged shot from one of these can cost a planet billions of souls, sucking everything down to the atom, and last I checked, that’s bad for business. It didn’t make sense, but then again, when it came to Kordo, not everything did. Seems I caught them in the preparation stages and, if my guess is correct, this place wasn’t far from where the federal Cryptinium reserve was positioned on the surface.
Kordo had been checking out the wares, though it seems he had his fill. He looked at the captain, and nodded with a grin, or at least the closest one could describe it as.
“Well done. Seems like things are looking up. Have your men search the area.”
“Do you still not believe in us?”
“It’s a precaution, my stone-faced chum. After that, load the goods. Sooner you do, the sooner you’re paid.”
“As agreed with the blood pact, we shall not fail.” The captain turned back to his men. “Search around with haste! With the will of the mighty Hathgora!”
“With the strength of the fury goddess, we stand strong!” the troopers shouted.
Still no sign of Mr. Movak. He had to be captive inside the transport, if he was still alive at all; where else could he be if this chamber was the start of all this? Kordo wasn’t one to waste valuable assets for anything when it came to smuggling. I had to get there before they finished their parameter sweep, before they take off with the wares they fought through The Underground to secure.
Frontal assault would be suicide, not without any ace in the hole, which was precisely what I needed, but didn’t have… except… maybe there was something I could try. An extraction, in the face of these odds, required a little backup, and I had an idea.
I reached into one of the inner-waist pockets of my coat, wondering if that very backup was still there. Feeling around, I felt it; my ace. Out from the pocket was yet another of The Professor’s wonder items: A mini explosive drone that could be piloted remotely.
Nearly featureless, oblong-shaped, light-blue, but had hover capabilities up to 70-feet. I remember him explaining that it was a prototype and inquired whether or not I could test it in the field. Never did before, but it might come in handy if my idea wasn’t too far-fetched. Assuming it’s powerful enough, it could serve as a distraction, arming it and setting it loose somewhere and keeping Kordo’s Hathgora militia away long enough to get Mr, Movak out of here.
Risky, but I had to try. The troopers were split into groups in different areas of the chamber. With the pillars that surrounded the space, combined with the darkness, I could sneak to the transport to and from if I was quick enough, though this meant I had to be lighter. The coat had to go.
Picking my phone and carton of cigarettes from it, I placed the carton into a side pocket of my combat uniform, my under-attire, then began to take off my coat. Crumpling to the floor of the catwalk, it slung there lifelessly as I stood.
If you were to ask me why I wear this thing, this uniform that looks like something a schoolgirl would wear or, rather, why I keep wearing it, I can’t give an answer that would satisfy even myself. I don’t know why I kept this old flame-resistant, tear-resistant, laser-resistant black and navy-blue polymerized titanium composite thing that looks like a sailor school uniform.
I wear armor underneath, as I mentioned; Tulfur carbonate unitard just tough enough to take a plasma round or two, metal-reinforced boots, arm-blade gauntlets at the ready, but the uniform? Compared to the rest of my attire, it serves less of a function than even my holsters in the grand scheme of it all. Thought about getting new digs before, but the sentimentality lingers, never ready to explain how.
Whatever, I never wanted to ponder about the whys of the purpose this thing served. My plan was decided. To my left was the stairwell leading down to ground level. Slowly I creeped across the catwalk, activating the noise-dampeners of my boots with my big toe. They deafened sound in a short radius, courtesy of some self-made upgrades that would turn my steps on metal or other surfaces into whispers, float to the dirty wind of this underground dwelling.
Careful to avoid the visual attention of wandering Hathgora, I pressed on the drone with my thumb and it silently came alive with only a blue indicator light beaming and I threw it into the air. It caught itself automatically and began to float. Using my phone, it synchronized to the drone and provided virtual controls.
Stopping short of the stairs, I scanned the area below for an opportunity; a place to detonate the drone. I was located to the North of the chamber, there were 16 Hathgora, 5 squads. The captain and one other trooper covered Kordo, the carrier, and the wormhole cannon to the South; 4 to the Southeast covering a perimeter of pillars; 4 near the canal to the Southwest; 4 to the West; 2 were approaching an emergency exit. Figuring to cause some damage to their forces and create a distraction, I concentrated on the last couple of troopers.
I piloted the drone overhead to the West. Its flight was effortless, if somehow unnerving by how non-turbulent and silent its hovering capabilities were, like a gravity-defying bird in the air with no mass, or as if space moved for the drone, not the drone moving through space.
So it flew, approaching the Hathgora couple like the specter it was, tiny and nearly impossible to see in the darkness or hear. Slowing the pace, it descended upon them. As they continued their march, I commanded the drone to stay between them, shoulder level, ready for the detonation.
With a tap on the phone, like an angry spectral spirit, it blew next to them in a concussive blast. Particles, shrapnel, and fire boomed out between the Hathgora, sending them and little bits of their stone skin flying to the sides of the blast, left and right!
I— wanted to laugh and— well, I didn’t to continue the element of surprise, holding back all this excitement I felt.
“EXPLOSION!” roared the captain, “TO THE WEST!”
It served its purpose, not that it would keep the troopers down for long. Take more than a small explosive boom to bring Hathgora to their doom. At the very least it’d knock them down for a spell, but a mere hindrance to them mattered. The plan seemed to be working so far.
“ALL UNITS, MOVE TO THE EXPLOSION SITE! WE’VE GOT HOSTILES!”
Kordo was visibly angry. “Yet more setbacks!” He angry shouted.
“We’ll handle it!
“You better! For our blood pact!”
The captain growled at Kordo. “Get inside the transport, Kalsanian!” He then dashed off with the rest of his men heading to where the explosion took place. Kordo entered the transport vessel with haste, which is exactly where I wanted him; a place to finish him off for good while his lackeys fight a battle that didn’t exist.
As soon as the Hathgora troopers were far enough away from the transport, I began my decent down the stairwell, slowly climbing down, step-by-step, until, at last, I reached the cold concrete of the ground, to which I started to dash into the jungle of pillars.
Zig-and-zag, pillar to pillar, in the dark, out of sight, steps deafened to nothing, the transport was upon me. I pulled out the revolver in my left holster, activating it, ready to pull the trigger at a moment’s notice. It was nearly time, to get Kordo, to rescue Mr. Movak, to get this job over with, or die trying.
Nearing the transport vessel, I wondered about all those years ago, when I thought I killed Kordo in spaceflight, in my old days when the broader galaxy knew who I was. Was working with The Supremos, inter-galactic police force for systems that had none, keeping the peace where peace was never an option.
Kordo had been a thorn for too long, nearly wiping out a Supremo colony on the outer-regions of Oulima III, smuggling Earth nukes from a decommission depot on Uranus in his long vendetta.
We had thwarted his firework party of death and gave chase, me and a small convoy of fighter crafts against his speeding Rocketeer Balima freighter when I then fired the antimatter charge. Directly at where his fuel-tank should be, it hit the bullseye that blew his freighter to nothingness. He should have been nothing after that, and was for so long.
His newly discovered existence made me want to blow him up again, but a gun should suffice too. Entering the transport gave me the shot of adrenaline I haven’t felt in a long while, gun aimed, ready to pull the trigger… at a target that wasn’t there.
My eyes grew, mouth agape, the adrenaline turned to fear. In the transport,in my view, was a cockpit with no one in it, dials and gauges for no one to read, seats for no one to sit in — not even Mr. Movak was there.
I turned around, walked into the cargo-hold, each step filled with more intent than the last, bloodlust growing to end the man of energy so vile I kicked the door down. Alas, empty metal space of dim, lackadaisical lighting. There was nothing and no one; it took my breath away. Kordo escaped… or did he?
Suddenly, I felt something cold touch the back of my head; a cold ring, a void surrounded by the icy feeling of a gun not yet fired, but ready to fire and knock my life away. A familiar feeling, too familiar to mistake it as anything else.
He did it; he got me.
“Well well,” said Kordo with confidence, “if it isn’t my least favorite cat.”
Then, just as my heart skipped a beat, a sudden pain wracked the back of my head and my vision, nay, the ability to think and function or feel that pain at all, faded away.