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Wednesday, June 22, 2016


  by Brian  Stoneking     

art by Jason Heckenliable

          Lenawk heard the echoing sound of a man’s voice, “What is it?” The prisoner lay semiconscious inside a quarantine lab with a trio of humans wearing hazmat suits, staring back at him. And why shouldn’t they stare? He was merely a machine…half machine anyway. That explained his lack of remorse for all of the victims in the galaxy he had claimed. His disconnection from human emotions made him the perfect killing machine.

“His name on the chart reads Lenawk. It’s also stated that he’s one of the most dangerous criminals in the galaxy and as for the metal canister strapped to his back when we found him…I can only assume it’s a weapon of some kind…perhaps explosive,” Dr. David Weldon said, carefully scraping a tissue sample from the prisoner’s scalp. His hands quivered and beads of sweat trickled down his façade as he breathed heavily through his respirator.

The two other researchers, Dr. Curt Malone and Dr. Ann Jackson watched Weldon’s hand tremble and both felt uneasy with the way he performed his task. He was a good twenty years older than his colleagues. Weldon should have retired five years ago and clearly he no longer had a passion for studying strange life-forms. Or perhaps it was the fact that he had never encountered anything like Lenawk in his entire career.

“You okay?” Malone asked.

“Huh?” Weldon said, looking at Malone with wide eyes. He gulped down the phlegm building up inside his mouth. “Yes, just never seen anything like this before…not sure what to make of this.”

Weldon placed the sample from the prisoner’s head onto a petri-dish, placing the dish onto the lab station. He flinched as the specimen’s body moved.

“We should’ve gotten the security team to do this dangerous work,” Weldon said, quivering.

“Come on, Dave… you know security's just a bunch of Neanderthals. They can’t do this type of work,” Dr. Jackson said.

“Anne…it was sarcasm. God knows they don’t pay me enough for this kind of shit.”

“Not enough? Try living on security wage,” Security Officer, Bruce Ellingsworth stated through an intercom speaker.

The three researchers turned and noticed Chief Ellingsworth, looking through a window on the observation deck. He leaned into the speaker again and said, “Besides…you’re the ones with the big bucks. I sure as hell wouldn’t touch that.”

This perfect killing machine which Ellingsworth referred to was a muscular entity with a six foot-five body frame. The hybrid body contained several lacerations, exposing shards of machinery through crevices of broken skin. But the massive shape of the hybrid’s body was not the most deadly thing about the criminal. It was the unknown infectious disease surrounding the body.

Major General Victor Manning hurried into the quarantine section dressed in a hazmat suit. He looked at the researchers inside the room and then down at the hybrid strapped to the table.

“How many victims has he claimed?” Manning asked.

“Claimed or Infected?” Dr. Jackson said.

“Let’s start with claimed. I think that’s the most important question,” Malone intervened into the conversation.

“He’s murdered twenty victims but as for how many people he’s infected…” Jackson paused. “It’s uncertain. All I know is that his body is surrounded by an unknown strain.”

“How bad?” Malone asked. “I think only Anne would know the answer to this question.”

“I do,” she said, clearing her throat. “Enough to infect a colony or an entire

“Shit,” Manning said, “And to think out of all the medical outposts…they sent him
to this one…just our luck.”

Everyone in the room fell silent looking at the prisoner. Finally Malone pointed to an open wound in the center of his chest which revealed a piece of machinery, surgically implanted into the detainee’s body.

“What the hell is that?” He asked.

“That’s a Transport Defibrillator,” Manning said. “They warned us about those during our briefings. They told us more criminals are using them, allowing them to travel to different worlds in mere seconds to murder inhabitants. Traveling from planet to planet makes it hard to catch these killers.”

“And it probably allows them to dispatch more victims,” Malone said.

“In his case…yes…unfortunately, most of these marauders are from different planets, so it’s hard to tell what kind of disease their bodies are infected with, which is why we have to take extra precaution and place him inside quarantine.”

“I still would’ve preferred if another outpost took him,” Weldon said, quivering.

“Well, just think of it this way,” Manning said. “We get hazard pay out of this.”

“Yeah, but is it worth it? I’m a scientist, not a baby sitter for the galaxy’s most wanted.”

“Stop your whining,” Jackson said, looking at Weldon with agitation.

“We’re all in this together.” She turned to General Manning. “So how do these assassins get these Transport Defibrillators inside their bodies?”

“How else do you think?” He responded. “They have em’ surgically implanted. There are many black markets off-world that will do this shit for a few hundred bucks.”

“Well, now that I collected the samples, I suggest we leave immediately and get out of these damn hazmat suits,” Weldon said.

“Right,” Malone said, looking at the detainee strapped to the bed. “Our guy doesn’t look too happy.”

General Manning felt his stomach rumble. “Well, despite looking at this miserable sack of shit,” he said, “I’m hungry.”

They sat around the table inside the dining area. The food onboard was mostly stale, synthetic food, grown inside a lab; but at least the amount they had to eat would get them through the duration of their stay.

“You think they would have the decency to send us proper food.”

“Good luck,” Malone said. “I don’t think decent food is what the Tranquility Alliance had in mind when they stuffed us in here,” Malone sighed. “This godforsaken place is like a tomb.”

“This food is processed to withstand months of storage. But that just means Tranquility forgot we’re even here. I doubt they even give a shit anyway. Their egos are bigger than their fat paychecks,” Anne said.

They sat around enduring the taste of the food. Security Officer Ellingsworth entered the room. “So what’s good in here,” He groaned, looking around the room.

“Nothing,” Jackson said.

“Hey, now come on,” General Manning said. “This crap is like gourmet food compared to the crap they fed us in the military.”

“I agree on that,” Security Ellingsworth played with his food. “Anything would be better than the crap they fed us in the military.”

The crew sat around and laughed for the first time since stuck onboard.

Meanwhile in the other room, Lenawk awoke, feeling more agitated than ever before. He began to violently tug on the shackles. He produced an unearthly roar loud enough that the noise carried into the dining area, startling the small crew.

“What the hell was that?” Weldon said, quivering.

“Shit,” Ellingsworth said, springing into action. “I think old faithful just erupted.”

“You mean he’s awake?” Weldon said. “I thought he was badly injured. Oh, fuck…this is not good.”

“Just chill out.” Jackson said. “He’s tied up pretty good. He can’t get loose.”

“Yeah, but you gotta wonder how secure those restraints really are,” Malone mused
in a calm voice, sipping his coffee.

In the other room Lenawk fully regained his strength and broke through the shackles. His seven foot body stood fully erect, arms outstretched. It took him a moment to regain his stance. Two tentacles emerged from slit openings on his dorsal.

Lenawk growled as he felt the slits on his back open, allowing the snake-like tentacles to slither out. The tentacles began to spray a luminous blue virus. The glow of the lethal contagion slowly faded, blending into the air.

Security officer Ellingsworth quickly entered the observation area and looked through the window, overlooking the quarantine section. Ellingsworth’s eyes widened in horror as he saw the recidivist fully awake. The computer's PA system sent out an announcement.

Alert. Alert. The quarantine prisoner has fully revived. All personnel must seek assistance immediately.”

Manning and Ellingsworth entered the hallway. “Stay here!” Ellingsworth commanded everyone. Lenawk forced the door to the quarantine section open. Any harder and the door might’ve torn off its hinges.

He stood in the General’s midst, larger than life. Manning couldn’t believe the captive’s hideous transformation. He looked bad enough before the transformation and the fact that he was free from those shackles made the creature even more menacing.

But one thing Lenawk had on his mind was to find his canister, fix his Transport Defibrillator, and teleport off the station to continue spreading epidemics on other worlds.

The two tentacles emerging from his dorsal coiled just before spraying more virus into the air. It took the General and the Security Officer a moment, but suddenly they realized it was the virus.

“Don’t get too close. You’ll become infected,” Manning said.

Lenawk quickly reached forward and with striking speed grabbed the General, lifting him high into the air. The alien criminal pulled Manning closer toward his tentacles allowing the virus to eject into Manning’s nostrils.

“Go on!” Manning shouted. “Get the hell out of here!”

Lenawk released Manning from his grasp but by then it was already too late for the General. He was exposed to the alien virus. Ellingsworth took one last look at Manning. The General was clutching his throat, coughing and going through a series of violent spasms.

This was the first time Ellingsworth saw the virus in action. Manning's veins began to sprout through his skin. He kneeled down on the ground going through a series of spasmodic jerks.

Ellingsworth ran down the hall, attempting to get to the weapon’s room. There he was reunited with the rest of the crew.

“Don’t go that way!” Ellingsworth shouted. “Our prisoner is loose!”

They heard the charging footsteps from Manning, running toward the crew.

“Look out! He’s infected!” Ellingsworth shouted. “Get back to the control room!”

Further down the hall Lenawk stood in their midst, growling like a raging beast. Lenawk smashed his hand through the wall. He produced one last unearthly roar. It was unlike anything they had ever heard and Security Officer Ellingsworth had encountered numerous and many dangerous life forms on countless other worlds.

Lenawk ran down the other end of the corridor.

“Where’s he going?” Jackson said.

“He’s going to fix his Transport Defibrillator. That son-of-a-bitch is trying to teleport off this station,” Malone said.

“Fine, let him,” Weldon said, his façade still drenched with sweat.

“You don’t understand,” Ellingsworth said. “His next target is Earth. If he is able to obtain the metal canisterand if he teleports off this stationhe’s going to cause an epidemic back home.”

“Then what the hell are we going to do about it?” Weldon shouted. “He’s got more strength than the two of us combined!”

“I know!” Ellingsworth yelled, his eyes beginning to reveal bloodshot creases around his corneas.

“Your eyes,” Jackson said. “You’re infected.”

Ellingsworth’s persona began to change. He screamed at the top of his lungs. His two front teeth fell from his mouth and elongated fangs began to tear through his gums. He screamed from the pain and lunged at Weldon’s throat, carving out a massive chunk. Torrents of blood spewed everywhere.

Dr. Malone made an attempt to tackle Ellingsworth, but the Security Officer was too strong. Ellingsworth opened his mouth, expelling the blue glowing virus into the doctor's face.

Malone coughed and screamed as Ellingsworth bit him in the ear just before he ran away, knocking Jackson to her feet.

“Curt are you okay?” She asked, kneeling next to him.

“Don’t touch my blood. I could be infected,” Malone responded, gripping his ear.

“Son-of-a-bitch bit my ear off!”

Malone’s hand was covered with blood and he continued to cough. He staggered to his feet despite his injury. “Shit. Now we got two violent entities loose.”

Jackson attended to Weldon’s aid. He was losing massive amounts of blood but he was still alive even though he was choking on his own body fluid. Weldon was losing oxygen at a rapid pace.

“We have to leave him,” Malone said.

“How can you say that? We can’t just abandon him.”

“But the prisoner will come back.”

“It’s not us that he wants. He wants to infect an entire world.”

With great force Lenawk pushed open the automatic doors, entering the control center. Inside the control center Lenawk’s canister sat dormant near a console. He quickly strapped the canister to his back.

The area was filled with panels and switches that controlled everything from the station’s computers, medical equipment and even the life support system. Lenawk tore open a computer console and ripped out the wires, rubbing them across the exposed portion of the Transport Defibrillator. Sparks ignited and the aroma of smoke filled the air.

Lenawk released a primeval yell, feeling a portion of his skin seared from the burning sparks. His body shook from the electrical energy rushing through the circuitry implanted into his body. Lenawk howled again as the Transport Defibrillator shocked his muscles. The piece of machinery once again became fully operational.

The painful yells from the escaped recidivist echoed through the corridor. They were loud enough to fill the entire outpost.

Doctors Jackson and Malone heard the eerie primeval screams echoing throughout the corridor. They sounded truly unearthly. But the prisoner running loose was not the only problem they were facing. The station’s power was failing.

“Do you think it’s Lenawk?” Jackson asked.

Malone nodded in response.

“Shit,” Jackson said, examining Malone’s ear. “It’s getting infected.” Jackson noticed the change in his eyes. It was the same change Ellingsworth had gone through.

Malone felt his body tingle, feeling a slight chill and his persona was beginning to change. He was more irritable, rage building inside. He gave her an estranged look.

“Are you going to be okay?” She asked.

“Just get the hell away. You’re too close.”

“I need to fix your ear. It’ll get infected.”

“I said get away!” Malone took a swing at her.

The impact of his fist was so quick it caught her off guard. She fell, knocking her head against the wall. Malone was about to attack her unconscious body until he noticed the large beast in his midst. Malone growled, attempting to attack the recidivist. But Lenawk grabbed the enraged Malone by the head smashing his skull like an orange. He shoved Malone’s headless body to the ground like a rag doll as he stormed through the corridor, smashing anything in his wake.

Lenawk grew impatient, waiting for the Transport Defibrillator to warm up. He knew that a distress call had been sent back to headquarters back on Earth and it was only a matter of time when they would get here. He was trapped and it was driving him mad. He felt his rage erupt and needed to teleport off this prison rock. It was his mission to destroy as much life as possible.

Lenawk heard the beeping sound from his Transport Defibrillator. It was at last active and ready to transport him to wherever his dark heart desired. A bright light flared up. He and the metal canister had suddenly vanished.

Jackson felt the heat of the bright light singe her facade. She awoken, clutching at her face which now contained a burn scar. She staggered from the ground, her body still in pain, left leg nearly broken. She coughed before regurgitation.

Smoke filled her vision and the aroma of burning metal lingered in the air. She heard voices through the thick smoke, shouting to her. “Freeze, raise your arms high!"

Jackson could see the silhouettes holding their weapons through the thick smoke. “Don’t shoot! I’m one of the crew members!” She shouted.

A rescue team of three emerged, wearing hazmat suits, pointing their weapons directly into her face, noticing the deformity in her eyes. They knew right away she was infected. Her skin contained a pale complexion.

The leader of the group turned to the other members of the rescue team. “We need to quarantine her.”

Inside quarantine Jackson felt aggression, growing with every second, spreading through her body.

“So just who are you guys?” Jackson finally said, trying to keep her agitation under control.

“I’m Sergeant, Traxler and this is Lieutenant Norris and Staff Sergeant Nelson. We were sent from Tranquility Alliance after receiving your distress call.”

“Distress call? I didn’t send a distress call.”

“Well someone did,” Norris said.

Then suddenly she thought about the captured recidivist. He had escaped. But to where? She couldn’t remember. Suddenly over the com signal a faint voice was heard.

“Anyone there?”

Sergeant, Traxler quickly answered the com-signal. “Traxler here.”

“Earth is under quarantine,” The voice said. “All returning ships abort the trip back.”

“We have a sick patient that needs medical attention immediately,” Traxler said.

“Well there are many sick people down here so we’re asking all ships to turn back until further notice.”

“Shit,” Traxler said, slamming his fist onto the control panel.

The three rescue team members heard Jackson produce shrieks of rage.

“What the hell was that?” Norris asked.

“I think it’s doctor Jackson,” Sergeant Traxler responded.

“But that didn’t sound human.”

“She’s infected with an alien virus. We need to get her to a medical facility. Who knows what it’s doing to her body.”

They looked through the observation window into the quarantine room. They looked in awe as Jackson’s appearance was now completely distorted, looking truly inhuman. Jackson’s skin contained an ashen complexion, her eyes completely bloodshot.

The three men jumped as she lunged at the window, attempting to shatter the glass.

The ship passed through the atmosphere which forced the ship to throttle. The onboard computer said, “Ship is near planetary surface… docking procedure in progress.”

“I think it’s too late for her,” Nelson said. “We need to kill her.”

“What? You mean take a human life?” Norris said.

“But look at her. She’s not human anymore.”

“And how do you expect to kill her? I mean look at her. She’ll over power us. Her strength is not human. Look. We’re almost there. Once we land at the Tranquility Alliance medical center we can let the medics handle her. I believe she can be saved. There is a cure.”

Traxler emerged back into the control center of the ship. He looked out the window and noticed several buildings set ablaze as rioting people flooded the streets.

“What the hell?” He said.

A hole had opened in the sky. It was a portal which could’ve only come from the work of the escaped recidivist. The blue colored virus seeped through the portal, like a cloud of dust.

Standing on top of the building, Lenawk stood with the metal canister strapped to his back. A laser kindling from the canister lit up, igniting the hole in the sky. Lenawk watched as he had fulfilled his mission of a world rid of an old civilization and the start of a new world. This was his moment and this was why he was created so that he could move from world to world, ridding them of their old civilization and to allow a new society to spawn from its domain. This was why he was bred and this was why he was trained to become the ultimate recidivist.


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