The Praedian Records

J.G. Phoenix

Related Posts

Begin (2024)

2023 ended weirdly abruptly for me, but I got the shot in the arm I needed in order to hit the ground running in 2024. This year's going to be absolutely crazy, but for me personally, I feel my worst years are finally behind me. I'm ready to stop drowning in a sea of...

read more

Yamato Progress

Oh my goodness ... well, things may have slowed down exponentially compared to the first 24 hours of working on this thing, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been major progress. Check this out. The exterior is nearly finished (minus coloring) The catapults work...

read more

Fleeing Victory #9

by | Nov 18, 2021 | FV, Pinned, Short Stories

The Doctor

We’re coming for you, Doctor.

Doctor Alfred Gil found the note addressed to him in the middle of the Cordoba’s field tests. He hadn’t told anyone about it, figuring others might write it off as a prank, just like he had at first. Later, when Fort Baldi came under attack, the Doctor somehow found himself with that little note in his hand, again. Things always seemed to be going poorly for him. Ever since his combat stimulant research–along with many other programs–had its funding pulled and diverted to Munica’s new colossus, things had been going extremely poorly. Smiling and quietly enjoying the misfortunes of his peers and the spoiled officers of Fort Baldi was all he could do to keep his spirits up these days.

Who was coming, though? Doctor Gil didn’t have a clue. His first thought was someone on the Cordoba project, some group that found out he was still working on his combat stimulant in secret. Maybe they planned to expose him to General Cruz and the others. It wasn’t too long before bigger concerns took over. What if it wasn’t his own people, but Cordaean special forces? They might have spies in the Munican army that knew about his work. That seemed worryingly more likely than some petty researchers trying to shut him down for good. They had all the funding they wanted, and Gil himself had to keep his research going almost entirely out of pocket. Scrounging up materials when he was supposed to be working exclusively on improving the prosthetics of allied soldiers made things even more difficult.

There was just one thing that didn’t add up for Gil, and that was the note itself. Why leave something like that for him to find? The sender had to know there were a number of actions he could take in response, actions that didn’t serve whatever their plan was. That was why Gil had been ready to dismiss the note out of hand when he first found it. Dangerous people with eyes on the doctor wouldn’t sneak into his office only to warn him they would be coming back for him later. Dangerous people would just come inside and have their way with him and his research material. So maybe this was just a petty prank after all?

No, that couldn’t be it.

Doctor Gil had wracked his brain for hours trying to figure it out. He only took a break from mentally running in circles when Captain Fran Sandoval was brought in, unconscious, but otherwise alright. Seeing the mighty brought low and hearing about flaws in the design and battle damage to the Cordoba had been the highlight of an otherwise grim day. Once the captain left, it was back to the mystery, and the longer Gil thought about it, the more he felt he would never find the answer.

There was no time left to think about it once the Cordaeans attacked. All the doctor could do was make a decision. He could either wait for whoever was coming to arrive, or he could take what was left of his research and run.

“No,” Doctor Gil shook his head as he surveyed his own office, “you’re being irrational.” There was no mistaking the danger that the best of a foreign power’s armed forces posed, but even with Fort Baldi under attack and the doctor awaiting some mystery guest, he didn’t need to abandon everything. While it was true Gil was pressing on with his research against the ‘strong suggestion’ of his superiors, he was more than on top of his regular duties. If someone came with the intent of harming him, or shutting down his personal laboratory, his fellow countrymen would protect him. They didn’t need to like him in order to do their duty, just like the doctor didn’t need to like them in order to keep pursuing ways of helping them fight the Cordaeans.

There was no need to run, Gil decided, but he was going to make certain his research, as well as all of his working samples were safe. It would be simple enough to keep his personal endeavors hidden, even in the rising chaos, buried beneath his notes on medicines and prosthetic nerve bridges. Most of it was interrelated to at least some degree, even the combat stimulant. What had once merely been an attempt to reduce a soldier’s need for post-procedural treatments and enhance the integration of their new prosthetics had nearly blossomed into a serum that could push that same soldier’s combat capabilities far beyond the witless mechanical hordes of the Cordaean army. Doctor Gil was so close to a breakthrough, but things were always going poorly for him, and today was no different.

As Gil grabbed his most important notes, he scanned the office again. Something felt off. It was too quiet. The odd rumble from an outdoor explosion was to be expected from time to time, but this was the main HQ building. Why weren’t there men running around out in the halls? It felt like that entire wing of the building had been abandoned, which put him on edge. If no one was around, who was going to protect him?

“Blast,” the doctor hissed, opening his desk’s front drawer and pulling out a small pistol. He would just have to protect himself. He was no fighter, but he had no intention of becoming a victim while everyone else was distracted. With everything he needed from his office, Gil carefully peeked out into the hallway. No one was out there, not even a custodian drone. Once he was sure the coast was clear, the doctor started running. His next stop was the Laboratory Wing.

When Doctor Gil made it to the labs, he quietly slipped into the room set aside specifically for him and his assistants.

“Danger,” one of the assistants warned Gil with its a scratchy, artificial voice. The automaton was dressed like a lab assistant, but little else about it seemed pruden. Its face was little more than an array of cameras. Its arms could somewhat mimic the shape of a pruden hand, but in that moment they were branching out from the elbow, multiple tools and pliers ready to handle whatever Doctor Gil needed. “Please proceed to the shelter.”

“Ah,” Doctor Gil muttered, recalling a minor detail he’d forgotten. There were procedures in place should Fort Baldi come under attack. Under normal conditions, if the Cordaeans or anyone else tried to reach the base, nearby assets would swoop in and handle them. The civilians and noncombat personnel would only need to hunker down where they were and stay out of the garrison’s way. If the fortress walls were being shelled or otherwise compromised, noncombat personnel and the like were to head deep into the underground facilities, assuming they weren’t already there. The explosions Gil heard definitely implied Fort Baldi was being hit directly.

Doctor Gil had two mechanical assistants assigned to him and both were there in the lab. Neither were privy to his combat stimulant research, nor were they allowed to interact with any of the materials. Gil always managed to keep them both busy with the work the higher ups actually wanted done. They were just machines, and far from questioning. With them here, Gil could secure his research materials and then get to safety. Whoever left him that note wasn’t going to get the chance to get to him.

“First, I want you both to scour the lab,” the doctor let slip a faint grin, “Anything referencing-”

A noise that sounded almost like metal clashing hard against concrete made Gil swallow the instructions and make a gesture at his assistants. He wasn’t alone after all. The Doctor quietly made for the door and peaked outside. He looked west, the direction he came from, and the main route out of the laboratory wing. Nothing. When he looked east, down the far end of the Laboratory Wing, he froze in terror. The lights were out, save for the ones at the T junction. Standing there was a dark figure that, even standing under the light, was as black as a shadow. The doctor almost couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Was it the one who wrote that note and left it in his office? No Munican soldier wore all black, nor did they set such a twisted and grim scene to try and intimidate people. Gil gulped hard, finding it nearly impossible to look away. There was no chance the figure was just standing there, oblivious to the lone scientist in the area. He knew the doctor was there and watching him.

With greater effort than he could have imagined, Gil pulled his head back through the door and closed it. “No time left. They’re here.”

The doctor’s knees were shaking uncontrollably. He wished that note had been a prank, but things were undeniably beginning to bear out.

“Doctor, please repeat your instructions,” the assistant chirped.

“They’re here for me. There’s no way out of here.” Gil put together and dismissed half a dozen escape plans in the space of a heartbeat, quickly realizing that his only way out of this situation was to create a diversion. Running was useless without one. Briefly, he eyed both of his assistants. “Your instructions, of course.” The doctor’s grin returned as he thought of a way out. He could make this work, if only because his assistants were good listeners and knew know fear.

While he didn’t know how much time he would have to prepare, Gil wasted none of it. He relayed each assistant’s orders even as he helped them gather his battle stimulant research and a briefcase to put it all in. The plan was quite simple. One assistant would come bursting out of the lab running to the west, and the other would be going east in the direction of that imposing black figure. Even if they had him blocked off at both ends of the hall by the time he made his escape, all the doctor had to do was gauge the situation as the assistants charged and take the better looking route out of the laboratory wing. He still had his pistol, so he was far from harmless. He could and would defend himself if they tried to stop him.

Doctor Gil kept checking his watch, expecting his plan to fall apart at any moment. It was taking far too long to get everything ready, but they were nearly done. His assistants approached him and handed over the final documents they could find, and Gil quickly put them in the briefcase along with four metal cylinders and a small chemical storage unit. “There!” He slammed the briefcase shut and motioned for the door. “We’re leaving. Now. Start running to the shelter ahead of me and tackle anyone you can’t identify. I’ll be right behind you.” One of them, anyway, the doctor shrugged in amusement.

Just as his assistants reached the door and one of them tried to open it, mana tinged a splendid blue rushed up from their feet and overtook them both. Both automata fell to the floor as a tall black figure materialized out of the mana behind them. The only thing the doctor could make out at first was the faint blue light coming from the eyes of the figure’s mask. Blue colored mana was rare among mages, but even more so among soldiers, which made Gil fear the worst. He clung to the briefcase with one hand while the other grasped desperately for the small pistol in his coat.

“Doctor Gil,” the masked figure spoke, his voice deep and almost morbidly inquisitive, as if he’d found exactly the person he was planning to …

“Stay back,” Gil jutted his gun at the man. The doctor knew exactly what he was. He was a Blue Ghost, one of Calig’s most powerful field agents. Trained soldiers were like children throwing rocks to them, and Gil didn’t even want to imagine how helpless he was compared to a soldier. His assistants hadn’t even gotten the chance to attack. All he had left was a gun that probably wouldn’t do much.

Just as the masked man took a step forward, Gil panicked and pulled the trigger. By some miracle, he managed to keep his eyes open, but by another, this one favoring the masked man, the bullet passed harmlessly through his body. The only sign that magic had been involved was the brief but noticeable flicker, as the masked man’s body vanished in a faint blue haze and just as quickly returned.

Blue ghost indeed.

“Stay away from me!” Gil fired another shot, but he only hit the door. He fired again and stumbled backward as yet another bullet phased through the masked intruder. He caught himself on a counter, but just before he could fire another shot, a hand appeared out of the corner of his eye. In the time it took for the second blue ghost’s body to fully appear, the doctor’s pistol, his only means of defending himself, had been ripped out of his hand with practiced ease. He dropped his briefcase as the second ghost twisted his arm around his back and pressed him face first down onto the counter.

“No, stop! Please!”

“It’s him,” the second ghost said, his voice not quite as deep as the first’s. His tone was impatient, irritated, as if the doctor wasn’t worth the trouble. Gil feared that if he was going to be killed in a moment, this second ghost would be the one pulling the trigger.

“Good,” the first said.

“What do you want? Please just tell me,” Gil pleaded, “I’ll answer any questions you have, just please don’t kill me.”

The second ghost suddenly pulled the doctor up and turned him to face the first ghost. He released him, but Gil was paralyzed in shock and fell onto his rear with his back against the counter. He almost didn’t feel the pain from such a hard landing; his own fear had him by the throat as much as either of his attackers.

“Even better.”

Gil could tell this blue ghost was smiling, even behind that mask and the mana that was churning up around him.

“Let’s get right to it then.”




Recent Pinned Posts

Begin (2024)

2023 ended weirdly abruptly for me, but I got the shot in the arm I needed in order to hit the ground running in 2024. This year's going to be absolutely crazy, but for me personally, I feel my worst years are finally behind me. I'm ready to stop drowning in a sea of...

read more

Yamato Progress

Oh my goodness ... well, things may have slowed down exponentially compared to the first 24 hours of working on this thing, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been major progress. Check this out. The exterior is nearly finished (minus coloring) The catapults work...

read more