Chapter 1: The Killers Retire
In the beginning life had been good for the couple. Bruce had seemed to adjust to a more normal lifestyle that did not revolve around killing and maiming, yet something had always seemed wrong to Angela. It was Angela who had first noticed that her cyborg lover was malfunctioning. He seemed to take just a little too much glee in killing household pests. She had tried to resolve the issue through a series of dramatic programming changes, but that only seemed to make matters worse for Bruce. His mind was slowly degrading and soon would be at best homicidal; Angela realized too late that her actions did not come soon enough to save the cyborg.
Bruce and Angela had been living on the deserted planet for over two years. It was just after their encounter on Earth, and the subsequent failure of the time drive that the two had decided to settle down on a planet on the outer fringes of the Earth Union’s domain. It had been a difficult escape from Earth's primary sector, had they not been able to create a slight fold in time they never would have succeeded in escaping the Earth's defenses and the pursuing fleet of military craft that had managed to detect their small golf ball shaped craft.
The two assassins had been able to travel roughly ten years forward in time; it wasn't much, but it was more than enough to get them out of immediate danger. After traveling for six more months in normal space they had come upon a planet with very good conditions. There were no colonies or expeditions on the planet and the environment was habitable, although by far not very comfortable for extended periods of time. The planet seemed perfect for them, since it should have been the last choice for anyone else.
The winters on this planet seemed just a little too long, the summer too short and as for fall and spring, they were nonexistent. In hindsight Angela now wished that they had discovered a different world, but was willing to accept that this was by far the safest place for them at the time they decided to make camp. Hindsight being far superior to anything else in the universe for being able to foretell the outcomes of actions taken the woman was eager to accept the fact that they had no way of knowing that colonists would show up and try to make a life on the miserable little grey planet. It was just undesirable enough to make it an unlikely choice, but unfortunately it was just desirable enough to attract the colonist’s attention.
Angela and Bruce had immediately upon landing on the planet, scuttled their craft. It was this fact more than any that Angela had regretted when she first noticed that Bruce was gone that cold day in July, but even scuttling the craft had seemed like a good idea at the time. It had taken her nearly a month to rebuild the ship by herself, and by that time Bruce had begun to leave a trail of dead bodies for her to follow like some decaying bread crumbs left to mark the trail through the woods.
Bruce had been acting up months before the colonists arrived, but Angela thought that she had worked out any conflicts in his programming that could cause him to revert to his former ways. She had thought nothing of the fifty Earthlings that showed up one sunny day in the middle of summer, they had seemed harmless enough and the people had paid her and Bruce no initial interest outside of general politeness that one pays seemingly shipwrecked folks who have now been discovered. The colonists had worked fast to build their shelters and Angela and Bruce had even helped them; the two had never questioned the colonists and in return were never questioned about their story. The two assassins told the earthlings that they had landed on the planet years before for repairs, but had never managed to complete the repairs to their ship. Angela found it difficult to believe that the colonists had so readily accepted this story, but they had never doubted the story of the young couple. The colonists were a simple folk who were only interested in starting a new life on this distant planet.
Angela and Bruce lived in peace for the first three months of the new colony's existence, and then the cyborg started to regress and become more hostile toward the new human neighbors. He kept to himself most of the time and he tried not to deal with the colonists or Angela at all. The cyborg was intentionally keeping himself from harming the humans, which Angela had mistaken at first for a positive sign. He never seemed to leave their dwelling except for the occasional hunting trips and the colonists had though that he was a bit of a recluse. Angela first noted the dangerous signs of psychotic behavior when his hunting trips started harvesting more unusual animals that bore more humanoid features then the woman had remembered. Despite all of her efforts to resolve whatever software conflict Bruce was having, Angela only seemed to make matters worse for the man.
When she awoke that fateful day and noticed fifty colonists, men and women alike slain in their beds, she knew what had happened. She had thought privately to herself for several weeks that the man might snap, but had refused to believe that it would happen. The former assassin had secretly hoped that she could overcome the problems her creation was facing; he was after all her creation and everything that he was … was because of her. Thinking about it the woman had come to believe that it had been a hardware conflict and not a software issue; she cursed her inadequacy at troubleshooting the cyborg's problems more effectively. She cursed the fact that such mechanical things had always been her brothers forte and not of much interest to her while growing up. Terrace could build a fully functional cyborg in a matter of hours, whereas she struggled with basic concepts of robotic engineering.
She had spent much of that first day searching the encampment for the cyborg, but he was nowhere to be found. She had known this, but had someone convinced herself that he could be contained to their planet. At about five o'clock in the afternoon she noticed that the colonist's only spacecraft was missing. She had cursed herself for not checking on its status earlier, but she had forgotten about it for the most part. After all the colonists had seemed to pay it no attention so she never really had either. When she noticed the large puddle of reactor coolant where the ship had been parked she realized why the colonists had never bothered with the ship.
After the grand disappointment that came with finding the colonizer missing Angela returned to her home and picked up some gear. Walking out of her dwelling the assassin picked out a suitable site on the outskirts of the encampment and began to dig graves. "These were good people," the assassin had thought to herself while preparing the graves, "they did not deserve this fate." She had given thanks to the almighty Thornaq for the fact the colonists had not had any children with them. They had been a peace loving and quiet group who had come to the edge of the known universe in search of a more simple way of life, but they were all without child. Angela had thought that maybe they came to this place to try to raise a family outside of the technological nightmare that was life inside the Earth Union but alas that was not to have been the case.
After burying all the colonists Angela returned to her house and gathered the parts of her craft she would need to make it operational, although not entirely space worthy. The most difficult item was the power generator, which they had stripped out of the engine room. The item weighed nearly two tons and the cyborg had barely been able to move it with the assister rings. Angela slowly heaved the generator the mile and a half distance by herself. Angela wondered if it would have been easier to haul the ship to the generator as she stared at the massive power unit. The task of moving the power generator one week to complete, but finally the generator sat again in the engine room, quietly churning and pulsing with the craft’s life blood.
Once the generator was in place Angela powered up the craft and made the few minor repairs that still needed to be done before the craft was capable of traveling through the void of space. After gathering her supplies and burning her home she was space born again. The woman continued to work on her craft during her journeys and now the ship was in immaculate condition.
In all of her travels and missions she had never been subjected to such scenes of devastation that Bruce now laid out before her. This current one was no better or worse than any of the other places she had followed Bruce before. To be precise she had seen similar scenes on the last three planets and this trend was beginning to concern her.
Wading through hip deep sewage Angela knew that the only way to beat her creation was to surprise him. Since he was not one easily surprised she knew she had her work laid out for her. The smell of human excrement wafted up and saturated her nostrils with the smell of bile and refuse. The female assassin choked back a gag and tried not to throw up as a human limb floated down the river of raw sewage. Angela had seen it all before, this time it was different. She recognized what her former lover was doing. His tactics were impeccable, knowing that the sewer system was a weakness in his defenses he was trying to make the sewers as unpleasant an environment as possible for Angela. He obviously hoped to make the underground catacombs so unpleasant that no one would traverse them; he forgot that Angela had a strong mind and even stronger stomach.
Angela questioned her tactics, if this was the cyborg's quest he was clearly aware of the danger and could not be surprised by her entrance through the sewer, but he would expect her to think this way so her tactic was sound after all. Spinning the ideas around in her head she became dizzy from the circular logic that she had trapped herself in. It was bad enough that she was trying to filter out the outrageous stench of the human excrement, but now she was confusing herself with circular logic. She decided that her logic was sound and that she best not think about it anymore, but the damage was already done. Angela wanted to sit down to take a minute and relax, but she decided that the consequence of sitting in hip deep fecal matter was worse than dealing with the dizziness her head was currently swimming with.
The assassin continued to make her way down the underground sewage passage until she came upon a small manhole in the ceiling of the tunnel. Lifting herself carefully up to the cover she poked a finger through the center of the manhole cover. Shifting the position of one eye to the end of the finger protruding through the center hole allowed the shape shifter to look into the dank and darkened hallway above the sewer without revealing her presence.
Angela cringed as she observed the carnage up above. Bodies lay strewn about the hallway, some missing arms and legs, while others were sans head. She wondered what Bruce was up to; it was almost as if he was putting together a collection of body parts. The assassin contemplated where she had gone wrong with the cyborg. She had attempted to recreate what God or the gods had created, and in doing so showed why creation was left to major deities and not a young warrior Princess from the future. Angela wasn't sure what she believed in anymore. She had seen so many bizarre creatures and divine acts as she traveled across the galaxy anything seemed possible to her.
Assuring herself that the long corridor was deserted of anything living the female flowed through the small hole in the sewage cover and reshaped herself in the hallway on the main level. Rats scampered through the darkness, fleeing from the newcomer, but they didn't retreat very far. They could smell fresh meat coming, they had seen it all before and had learned to wait, and the rats knew that patience was a virtue. This patience in the rats had not escaped Angela; she understood that they were waiting for her death; by the looks of many of the bodies in the hallway the rats had been feeding extremely well lately.
The assassin tried to choke back a gag as she thought of the rats dining on the bodies of Bruce's victims. Not even in her darkest days had she ever left the bodies of the innocent for the rats to feed upon. Then again she had never taken out entire colonies before either, this was new to her and she found it morally disgusting. She understood that she had no one else to blame except herself. It was her creation that performed these actions, it was up to her to clean up after Bruce and it was her duty to take care of him as well. There had been many sleepless nights since Angela began chasing him, whenever she closed her eyes she could see the slain innocents that the cyborg left in his wake wherever he went. It was as if he were intentionally leaving a trail, defying her to follow him, defying her to catch-up.
The new trend of taking body parts disturbed her. Bruce was not known for his mental stability, but this could point to an all-new level of insanity. The shape shifter wondered if the cyborg were taking trophies as she had once done, but what kind of trophy are an eighty year old man’s genitals.
Angela moved stealthily down the hall, creeping from shadow to shadow. Angela's face and clothing changed to match the background as she moved, rendering her nearly invisible to the naked eye. She knew that she had to be getting close to the mad man's quarters. The bodies in the hallway were dwindling in numbers. Not even the cyborg could stand the smell of rotting flesh near his living quarters so he had pilled the bodies up at a convenient distance.
Excerpted from "Earth Union: Necromancer" by Collin Buechler. Copyright © 0 by Collin Buechler. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.