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A thousand years of wint.., p.1
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       A Thousand Years of Winter, p.1

           Sekou Gaidi
 
A Thousand Years of Winter
nd Years of Winter:

  Sekou Gaidi Copyright 2012 by Sekou Gaidi

  A Thousand Years of Winter:

  Blood Renaissance (3000 A.D.)

  “The little robots stole my ship.”

  Khandecia Cavalier, last of her line, peered into the south from the top of her Obsidian Tower and watched the skies warily. Her light brown face was calm as a saint’s, and her hazel eyes were banked flames. Yet what was happening now, to her world, was enough to drive anyone into madness. It was the long-prophecied Winter of a Thousand Years, though it had come as a thief in the night and no man knew when it would end. This was just one of many problems that the Empress had to deal with.

  “Are you sure, Captain Rose?” the Empress of the Night asked.

  Rose, shorter than the Empress by several inches with ripe hips and round face, rolled her green eyes.

  “I don’t say things like that to be funny,” the commander of the Behemoth ship said, baring her canines. She paced in black armor, light and soft but made of a tight metallic weave able to deflect all energy, and ran her hand through short-cropped reddish curls. “In fact, saying things like that make me wanna kill people.”

  Khandecia was only five foot three, but loomed over Rosa as she gave her cousin a glance.

  “I suggest you control your impulse until we find somebody to use it on. Who would this somebody be, by the way?”

  “The Horde,” Rosa said. “The tin men tricked me. One of their spores got into the Windchaser and now they reprogram her to serve their needs. My crew is trapped on there…”

  Khandecia’s blood chilled. Once upon a time, a good man made a terrible mistake, and in the distant universe of the Ma'atiu, he made an army to defend his world against reptilian invaders. Kedrick Black was his name, and he and his race had risen from a tiny colony to become linked to their mechanical city. Practically demigods despite their vulnerable flesh bodies, they were still few in number.

  The Horde changed all of that.

  The Breeders infested the lizard-creatures, converting them into Drones. Reapers shot the reptiles from the sky, and the Burrowers devoured the dead to reprocess them into the huge machine-world that gave power unto the colonists. The Ura’ei Empire, thought invincible, was driven back even into the Underworld, but like a swarm, the Horde began moving from world to world, devouring everything it couldn’t convert into use. The Lords of Beyond, the Ma'atiu, were invincible in their realm, so the Horde couldn’t touch them and were programmed not to attack one, even to defend a Lord of Beyond if they had to. The Lords didn’t care that the universe was now paying for their mistake.

  Khandecia Cavalier, death-speaker, was the only thing standing in their way, and she had defended the Earth from threats like the Horde for a thousand years, keeping Earth from sliding into the throes of the Apocalypse. Even though Khandecia was the thing humans feared most, a blood-drinking demoness with powers over the dead and over other demons, a Messenger of Sekhmet, she had been one of their greatest defenders.

  Now Khandecia’s cousin was in trouble. They were all in trouble, for the Windchaser was the spawn of pre-human technology and ancient Egyptian science, and could appear anywhere in Earth’s skies, raining death upon the wilderness that once was man’s world.

  Only one thing occurred to Khandecia, and the thought of it made her blood run cold again. The idea of going that deep inside any other thing, shedding her immortal skin and bone, it terrified her because she could lose her identity entirely.

  “I’m gonna try to talk to the Horde,” Khandecia said.

  Rosa blinked, narrowed her eyes to slits and scanned her cousin’s face.

  “Are you serious?” Rosa said. “It sounds like one of my dad’s plans.”

  “Oh, Jackson could only hope to come up with a plan this foolish,” Khandecia said. “What would you suggest?”

  “Let me go back up to the Windchaser,” Rosa said. “If your plan don’t work, I know how to blow things up.”

  “You’re Lady Sekhmet’s daughter,” Khandecia said. “All you know how to do is blow things up.”

  The good Captain shrugged. “You’re supposed to stick with your strengths.”

 

  Khandecia sat down in the Chamber of Vapors, a room curtained with purple silks and shut off from the outside world entirely, no windows and only one door that sealed her off like a jar of preserves. A couch was her only company, and on this couch she laid, casting off the trench-coat that she traditionally wore. Wearing only a purple gown and her double-edged sword called Hellforge, Khandecia laid down and put her hands on the hilt, laying the deadly tool on her chest point down towards her toes.

  Hellforge was a conduit which Khandecia had used well in the past.

  The question was whose past did she mean? Since the age of sixteen, Khandecia Cavalier had been two people. One of those people had been born in 1766, the child of a god and a witch, who had been haunted by specters and demons since the day she was born. The other had been an ordinary girl, ignorant of spells and curses, demons and gods.

  Then Angelique Cavalier and Khandecia Beaudreaux had become one, even as shape-shifting frogs had begun raining from the skies, and before she came out of the battle rage, the gentle Khandecia who had shied at crushing vermin in the house had beheaded a man whose body melted into the shape of a frog-fish monstrosity. As the conspiracy got deeper, Khandecia found that she had become stronger, harder to scar, invulnerable to the fires of Hell and mistress of its flames.

  This was a good thing, for the Nammo and their god were determined to colonize the Earth and rule where they once ruled in the steamy primordial bogs of time.

  Khandecia could also speak to demons and the dead.

  This was no demon that Khandecia attempted to speak to, no god unless a machine could be a god. This was a freak of alien science gone mad, and Khandecia feared that the Horde would turn her attempted control back upon her, raping her brain and using her body as a fleshly sock-puppet.

  Teleplasty…this was Khandecia’s skill, projecting her spirit into machines and making them move at her will.

  Khandecia closed her eyes, and allowed Angelique to speak to her, let the centuries of esoteric knowledge flow through her as the vents in the room released colorful fumes. The burning herb came up from below, surrounding Khandecia, soaking into her skin, tainting her nose. The darkness came up from below as well, sheathing Khandecia and her sword into a world of silence.

  Hey, you, Angelique said with a chuckle. Anybody home?

  Help me drive off these machines, and make yourself useful.

  Wow, Angelique’s voice came, huskier and harder than Khandecia’s, though she had come to notice them sounding more and more alike. What happened to the flower-picking hippie I used to know?

  She died a thousand years ago when a bitter, vengeful old witch decided to take a joyride in my body, Khandecia said flatly. Now I’m possessed of someone that won’t go away and she made me into a vampire. I’m a little tried.

  You think I like this?

  I’m your only chance at life and feeling things again. I think you love it.

  Angelique sighed. Do you really think of me as a bitter, vengeful old witch?

  I KNOW you’re a bitter, vengeful old witch, Khandecia said. You helped me defeat the Nammo invasion because you hated their creator, not to save planet Earth. If your family didn’t live here and feed on humans, you wouldn’t care if we got wiped out by flood or fire.

  Angelique laughed; the little girl innocence of it still threw Khandecia off-guard. One would think an evil vampire warlord would sound like a comic-book villain.

  You
are one hundred percent right, Angelique said. I ain’t no liar, though.

  So are you gonna help me or what?

  But of course, Angelique said. I have twenty thousand years of sorceries trapped in my damn head. Glad to share it with you to save my granddaughter.

  Khandecia gasped as the information downloaded itself into her head, and then, without further ado, she willed her mind to reach far beyond the Obsidian Tower, far away above the chill bitter atmosphere, far above the cloth of clouds that the darkness wove and weather satellites kept in rein, and into the Windchaser.

  It was shaped like a teardrop with wings that swept backwards and down. In the front was a window, where the two sides of the teardrop met; Rosa’s crew was still there. Khandecia felt their demonic souls, but they were distant, as if someone were blocking her from seeing inside of them. Out of curiosity, Khandecia touched one’s soul, the pilot who was a burly Messenger named Bear.

  Then the entire ship shuddered as a shove pushed her away from Bear’s mind and static tingled along his dreadlocks.

  Virus! Enemy! Be gone!

  Those thoughts ripped across Khandecia’s mind like an assault, but Angelique’s cold fury and Khandecia’s native stubbornness held her psyche together.

  I am the Chairwoman of DamonCorp, Khandecia said, each word pushing up against a wall of razors. The Horde’s group mind buzzed and hummed, considering Khandecia’s words with a robotic intensity. The Windchaser is my property, and the crew serves me. Remove yourself immediately.

  The Horde growled and ground against itself.

  off and pin wheeled through the endless gulf of space.

  We are familiar with you, Khandecia Cavalier. Your designation is irrelevant. Your crew is irrelevant. You will join us, and we will add your distinctiveness to our own.

  Khandecia laughed despite the pain of communicating with this scraping, sharp group mind.

  Have you ever watched Star Trek? Khandecia said.

  The Horde did not laugh.

  Do yourself or yourselves a favor and assimilate some humor.

  Emotions are irrelevant. You will be…assimilated.

  Least I taught y’all a new word, Khandecia said, but then the Horde mind pressed upon hers, smothering her. Khandecia shrieked as the violation surrounded her on all sides, pressed into her skin, shot down her nerve endings.

  Khandecia had just a millisecond to hope Rosa was doing better than she was, and then the lava was around her, piercing her with a million blades.

  Rosa was on the Windchaser now, headed towards the engine room through tight hallways that were veins and capillaries, headed towards the beating heart of her beloved ship.

  A thousand years or more had passed since Rosa was born in the fires of the Underworld. Unknown to Jack or anyone else but Sekhmet and Rosa’s big brothers, she had grown and become an explorer of worlds.

  But it was on Earth, buried beneath the sands of Ancient Kemet, that Rosa had discovered the Behemoth.

  It had haunted Rosa’s dreams all her life, this living vessel who chose its own captain. Not made, but bred, the Behemoth had been designed to join with another being, human, god, or demigod. Without a captain, the Behemoth had no direction. Without a Behemoth, the captain couldn’t fly. A thought could send the Behemoth to the other side of the universe and back.

  The Behemoth, Rosa was glad to see, was fighting the black wires that crept along its’ hallways and hung from it’s ceiling, but the struggle was in vain. The Horde fed on the struggle and consumed it, as it consumed all things.

  Khandecia didn’t want the Behemoth destroyed, but Rosa could feel the violation, the creeping tentacles of the Horde as they stripped the Behemoth and its crew of individuality, of life, of health. Rosa would rather die herself than see the Behemoth suffer any longer.

  Then, through the ship’s guts, Rosa saw, though a partially opened door, the pulsing engine core, a column of green energy contained within two cylinders, floor and ceiling. Rosa held her EMP device in her right hand, and in her left was the wood-handled pistol that her big brother had made for her.

  Rosa slid through the door and willed it to close.

  Khandecia muttered in her sleep in a thousand voices, trapped in visions of the Horde’s group memory, swallowed; the will of the Horde was pressing in her brain.

  Then the Horde shuddered, its monumental will power shattered as Rosa’s EMP device went off; the metallic egg burst open, severing the ship’s power, interfering with its electronics. Most importantly, the Horde’s meal was cut off. The tiny robots crawling along the Windchaser’s hull peeled.

  Angelique shrieked, and the darkness welled up within Khandecia. Command them to leave and go back to their world.

  No, Khandecia said, still open and bleeding from the Horde’s violation. These monsters will never return. Activate self-destruct sequence.

  The Windchaser caught fire, that peculiar creeping space fire which crept along the hull and took out whatever robot it saw; the Behemoth cried out, whether in joy or agony no man knew. Khandecia felt resistance, but it was scattered, maddened; Khandecia shoved her brain into the Horde and her commands were obeyed.

  Khandecia pushed, and the last of her energy drained. As Khandecia fell through the darkness of her own mind, Angelique’s voice was gentle as the older soul buffered out the Horde’s dying cries.

  Impressive, Angelique said. We kick alien ass.

  That we do, old witch, that we do.

 
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