|Taylor Swift rocking the babes, guns, and explosions playground|
Soon the Glorious Biobloom would begin again.
Air siphons jutted out from its blubbery flanks below black, beslimed eyes, sucking in air with a steady roar that could be heard a kilometer away. It was four hundred tons of unstoppable mollusk slowly migrating its way to the West coast, sucking up airborne nanoplanktonites and anything else that got in its way, edible or not. It wasn’t picky.
Magnum Heironymus Thrax of the Klenstaf Clan watched nature’s mutant horror keenly through his viewer sheet for a moment and grimaced.
He toggled the telescopic enhancers and zoomed in on the bloated belly.
“Bingo,” he muttered under his breath, and grinned, revealing perfect teeth like white chicklets.
The behemoth’s sleep gas sacks, tucked in above the Ctenidium, were clear.
That meant empty.
At least temporarily.
With the amount of organic matter the beast had just consumed, they’d refill quickly.
Thrax’s otherworldly, clear blue eyes gazed along the path of destruction behind the beast: it had breached the outer wall of the surface village, and crushed flat as a paper pancake the flying pig’s pen. They were the docile kind of flying pig, of course, not their eat-anything entelodon hell-pig relatives.
Thrax hated those.
He hated their tendency to shit while aloft most of all. He thought back to the cholera epidemic and shuddered. At least they’d been genetically re-engineered to excrete less phosphorous materials.
Thrax could see the distorted outlines of wiggling, winged pigs, still alive, in the Squid’s semi-translucent gullet as they were shunted along by its powerful throat muscles.
Tasty, bacony goodness all gone to waste.
Wouldn’t be long before the great land snail-squid reached the grain silos on the other side of the mutant’s squat diamacrete dwellings.
Time to move.
He dropped the flexible viewer sheet and let it hang by its strap from his neck.
In the sky far above, menacing black silhouettes of circling megalovultures, gigantic black birds with bald, burnt red heads, circled. Black snowflakes swirled about their open beaks, and if one got too close they’d be caught in a high intensity electrical field.
Fry a man into sauceless BBQ in seconds flat.
This lot probably feasted on the snail squid’s excrement trail. Disgusting.
Thrax’s virtual assistant, Darwin, noted his gaze. It superimposed a holographic image over his field of vision of the semi-transparent disembodied head of Charles Darwin, only wearing chic recorder sunglasses and Bril Cream. It was transparent enough not to interfere with his vision, and automatically shifted away from anything he focused on.
Digital Darwin’s brow furrowed. “Teratornis Incredibilis,” commented the virtual assistant. The words flowed directly into Thrax’s brain through a neural tap. “Remarkable creatures. If only my namesake were alive now to appreciate them. Wingspan up to twelve meters. Their nanobot symbiots can generate an electrical field of—”
“Yeah, I know. Not now,” interjected Thrax. He had to think. Take all the variables into consideration, and Darwin never shut up unless you told him to. “Not time for a lecture, baby.”
“Please don’t call me that,” huffed Darwin. “I’ve never even been a baby.”
The prissy, heuristic artificial intelligence was built into Thrax’s micro-thin, transparent second skin suit, a nanite engineered material that covered him from head to foot. It regulated temperature, filtered air, and protected him from the elements, including radiation.
The battlefatigues he wore overtop were purely for the sake of modesty. Not that Thrax had much.
He scanned the horizon for opportunistic raptors.
“Ahhh, yes, the ever present threat of Neo-Deinonychus,” said Darwin, still trying show off his vast database of useless knowledge. “Already conducted a scan. None detected. You know, their resurrection is nothing short of miraculous, a testament to the technological prowess of my creators. To study them--”
“Yeah, yeah. Too much electromag noise to rely on scans. Shut up.”
Neo-Dienonychus were fast moving archosaurs with scythe-like claws. They’d been extinct, or so the story went. Mankind had actually been rid of the damn things. Until they’d been brought back for an entertainment property. Couldn’t be true, though. Nobody was that stupid.
None of the nasty things in sight.
That was good. But they wouldn’t be far away.
“Perhaps behind the the land squid. They are known to be clever,” mused Darwin.
Whatever, thought Thrax.
Buzzing around the colossal cephalopod were thousands of glittering green flies the size of baseballs.
The beast was its own slow-moving ecosystem.
Squiddy—Thrax had taken to nick naming his targets—needed to be killed before any fast moving raptors got through the inner perimeter and ate all the milk silk producing livestock—not to mention the mutant villagers.
The megalovultures were just a nuisance. Same for the buzzball flies. Opportunistic carrion eaters and parasites. They would let the squid do the dirty work and pick over the remains.
Thrax’s remains, unless he was careful.
Raptors were much more pro-active about obtaining their food supply. That made them dangerous.
The massive, slinking squid let out a sloppy gurgle of joy as its flailing tentacles broke into the mut’s meat smoking pit. Thrax watched a couple of the stocky, bright green villagers waddle towards the beast and fling their spears at it—to no effect. It was like trying to take a bull down with toothpicks. Cilia near the squid’s mouth snatched the morsels up and tossed them into the gaping beak. The glistening tongue flipped them down into the throat in one swift, smooth motion. They screamed the whole way.
Pansies, thought Thrax. Just let it try to eat him. He’d curse and kick all the way down the gullet if he got caught. Give it indigestion.
Thrax couldn’t help but grin in spite of it all.
Fubar was a savage world.
Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten.
The ancients had become totally disconnected from nature and reality by eons of living in a cushy, high tech crib. Thrax bet that was why they were gone.
But this snail squid and its groupies would put even Thrax’s considerable termination skills to the test. He hadn’t seen one this big, bloated and bad tempered in ten orbits.
He looked back hungrily at his team.
They lay in a shallow, mud lined ditch behind him, fondling their weapons with nervous anticipation: Andromeda, Jez, Candy, Crystal, Jasmine, Kitty, Blossom, Ginger, Lilac, Amber, Thumper, Fabius, and Don Juan. Stunningly beautiful, voluptuous females with hourglass figures, plus a couple token males, with buff physiques, flowing manes of hair, and chiseled features. They all resembled Olympian Gods.
Not human, of course.
Not in this day and age of genetic defects.
The real humans of the underground Pleasurepit Emporium Five Colony were generally a bizarre array of imperfect proportions and distorted, asymmetrical features.
Perfection in imperfection, his mother had called it.
They had what was known as ‘character,’ and lots of it. Their bodies had been ravaged by sickness, disease, and radiation damage since they were born—just like every other natural, living being on the planet.
Except for Thrax.
He’d been born perfect, or nearly so. Two eyes, one nose, two ears, and five fingers per hand. That was rare enough. He was also blessed with strong cheekbones, a square jaw, and a flowing mane of lustrous hair that hadn’t thinned. His physique was naturally muscular; he hardly needed to exercise at all. When he went by, heads turned.
Sometimes he was mistaken for an android, like his team members. He was a freak anomaly. An exceptional exception.
Of course the nanite repairbots that floated about in his bloodstream were constantly busy, under siege from a wildly unstable environment that overflowed with biological innovation and constantly evolving diseases. Luckily his immune system was compatible with a strain of particularly effective nanite medbots, and he had survived plague outbreaks which had felled half the colony.
Two of his sisters had died in the last one.
The Suicide Plague, they’d called it.
Everything alive had nanobots of one form or another inside.
Nothing on Fubar could survive long without them.
Even androids had them. At least, all the organic ones did.
Thrax’s androids, or more accurately adapted sexbots, were grown in vats in the ceramic encased Pleasurepit factory deep beneath the surface.
Over their transparent second skins they wore provocative plastic nothings and leather straps and bustiers, the only clothing The Pit’s reploboxes were programmed to create.
They eschewed hand made battlefatigues as insufficiently fashionable or flattering. Some of their genetically programmed propensities were too difficult to eliminate.
It made for an eccentric and kinky looking army.
Damn distracting, too, thought Thrax, eyeing heaving breasts barely contained by a glistening bustier.
They belonged to the team’s weapon expert, Jezebel One-Eighty-Eight, a six-foot two- inch tall Amazon of an android. She had a body to die for, a beautiful but cruel face with a blood red blotch for a mouth, permanently stained. Her blond hair was cropped close.
She had been born bad right out of the vat, as The Ancients had intended. She was a dominatrix model, the product of the sex fantasies of the Old Ones, back in the Long Long Ago.
The Ancients were beings of unspeakable power and wisdom who apparently liked to be hog tied, covered in whipped cream, spanked, and forced to clean floors.
Why this should be so no one knew.
Who could understand beings of such godlike power?
Jez herself was a control freak. They’d overlaid control grams on top of her core programming repeatedly. Her core ate them for breakfast. Combat was the only time she followed orders.
But even her tremendous ego was capable of recognizing a true genius of destruction when she saw it, and no one had an aptitude for annihilation like Thrax. Blowing stuff up and snuffing out threats just came naturally.
Sometimes this ability made Thrax vaguely uncomfortable, as if there was something wrong with heavy weaponry, explosions, or annihilating outsiders that he couldn’t quite place his finger on.
At least, some people talked about it like it was a bad thing. Whatever.
He didn’t dwell on it.
Thinking was for pussies, anyway.
There was an endless demand for demolition and destruction. It was good to have a purpose, he thought.
All that shit.
He contemplated Jez. She was alluring in a horrifying sort of way, because she didn’t stop. There were no lines with her to cross.
She could make him feel a warped yearning in his nether regions, but ultimately he preferred the less ornery and more numerous Nexdoor sexbot model that made up the armies’ rank and file.
The squad sarge, Andromeda, was an Amazon Warrior Model Sexbot, an upper end design they had few of. Solid, athletic build and raven black hair. Her magnificent armour, metal miniskirt and armoured breast plates fit for a Greek Goddess. An acquired taste for special clients, she would only lie with men who could defeat her in combat. Tougher than a mutant wereboar, she made Jez look like a pussy.
The two hated each other.
That wasn’t the only problem: using sexbots for combat had other drawbacks. An army wasn’t useful if it was too busy, well, shagging.
Bad for discipline.
Thrax had distinct memories from his childhood, when he had listened at the air vents of the Sexbot dorms and been deluged with heated cries of ‘Yeah, baby, yeah!’ and ‘Higher! Higher! Yes! Yes! Oh! Ooohhh! My God! Oh my God! Aauooo-gaaah!’
It was a crazy down there, in The Pleasurepit. Yet it was also the last bastion of civilization in a sea of madness. Technology was rabidly fucking biology out there, creating hybrid horrors that’d curl your toes.
“How long are we going to wait here while you try and work up your nerve, you sniveling little worm?” hissed a voice in Thrax’s ear.
It could only be Jez. He grimaced.
The motion tattoo of a writhing octopus on her beautiful, prodigious, and barely covered breasts danced at the periphery of his vision.
It was terribly distracting.
What was it about swelling mammary glands that made them so compelling?
But she was right.
He had been procrastinating. And he was all out of Beserkide.
He hated when she was right.
Focus! Remember what you’re doing.
“When I say. Not before,” he said, snapping his mind back to the matter at hand.
Lilac and Crystal slinked up beside him to the edge of the ditch, moving like cats in heat, as they were programmed to do. Lilac gazed up at the Squid through her view sheet.
“It’s got a gut load of goodies,” she cooed. “This beastie has been around! Look! Part of a boat in there!”
Thrax looked at her and blinked, partially blinded.
Lilac was wearing a form-fitting silver cat suit outfit covered with thousands of flashing pin-lights, each powered by an independent, regenerating solar micro-battery. Her every finger sported what would have been, in an earlier age, expensive diamond rings.
In a world drenched with nanites, diamonds were as rare as dirt.
Fems still loved them.
Kudos to an ancient ad campaign.
Lilac’s big eyes were hidden behind even bigger Jacki-Oh sunglasses that made her look like a sexy Sleestak.
“We’re gonna kill it, aren’t we?” said Candy ruefully as she primed the fusion pile of her laser rifle. She wore a latex nurse outfit. She was the squad medic. “I hate seafood. Can’t we let it go? It’s just being itself.”
“No,” said Thrax. “Sides, it’s an amphibian.”
Candy frowned back at him. “Come on, Thraxy. Squid’s all rubbery and gross.”
“Garlic,” said Jasmine, sucking deep on a doobie. “Butter.”
“Rather eat nutrisoy,” muttered Kitty. She blew out a bubble of chewing gum until it burst with a smack.
“Shut up. It’s good for you.” “You’re mean. And I take vitamins.”
“Sorry,” said Thrax. Candy was sensitive for an android. “Look. Just turn off your tastebuds.”
There was a noise above, and they glanced up. Several green mutant villagers sailed overhead, their hapless screams waxing and then quickly fading as they glided into the distance and smacked soundlessly into the hard soil.
“Haw!” exclaimed Thrax. Silly mutants.
Always good for a laugh.
“I’m with Candy,” said Jasmine, the squad’s foxy faux-guerilla. She wore a tight, mini- Mao suit with a white lily set in her raven hair. She sucked loudly on a gleaming white mint.
“It’s doing too much damage.”
“This is bogus, sophonts. We, like, always get the shitty jobs,” remarked Blossom,
wrinkling her pert little nose. Heavy goggles, equipped with short-range x-ray emitters, kept her eyes hidden from view.
“Should have stuck with Milo’s squad,” groused Thumper, beating her wings lightly against the heavy air. She wore a gleaming white plastic nothing and thigh highs, which were, of course, self-cleaning. Had to be. The omnipresence of dirt and mud in war would otherwise have made such a fashion choice for combat gear impractical.
Thumper was a succubi model sexbot, based on the mythical female demons that seduced men during the dead of night. She had dead white eyes, pale skin, fangs, and a curvaceous figure that made men gasp for breath, topped by retractable nano-film bat wings. Couldn’t actually fly. Hop and glide, yes, but it looked undignified. That was about it. She clucked and cast slitted eyes at Thrax: “Something wrong with this boy. He likes--”
“Okay!” snapped Thrax urgently, blushing, “Pay attention—frag! Amber, Blossom, Kitty! Dammit, how many times have I told you? Put out those atomic cigarettes. The radiation attracts it! And Jasmine, get your tongue out of Bambi’s ear. Focus!”
“Oh. What a joy kill,” huffed Jasmine; she gave Thrax a cross look and for good measure ran her tongue provocatively across her lips and felt up her ammo battery bandoliers. “Ready for combat. Sir Big Boy. Command me!”
The other bots tittered, but it was turning him on.
That wouldn’t do, goddamn it. “Stop jazzing my gonads! Civilization is depending on us.” Bunch of perverts, thought Thrax angrily. Hot, hot sultry, sexy perverts, but nevertheless perverts. Created and programmed by... even bigger perverts and profligates.
“You heard the man,” snapped Andromeda. “Prep up. Today we fight for our homes. For honour and glory!”
Kitty sniffed. “You’re our very own Patton in a bustier, Andy.”
“Do it, cat lady,” said Andromeda impatiently. She glared at Kitty, who was always needlessly mouthy. “Today, justice shall prevail. Got it?”
Kitty blew a bubble and popped it. “Juice tits. Yeah. Whateveh.”