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 #11

by | Nov 24, 2021 | FV, Pinned, Short Stories


Doctor Gil had imagined himself being escorted at gunpoint when he left his lab. One of the ghosts would take point while the other, probably the impatient one, kept a gun muzzle poking him just a little too hard in the back. That was how Gil pictured this extraction operation playing out before they were underway. The way they approached him in the first place was a clue the doctor had overlooked, and so now he was making his own way northwest inside the HQ building. Alone. The two blue ghosts were still around, somewhere, but they were staying out of sight. Gil figured that any time they had to cross through areas with no cover or too much light, they would simply dematerialize their bodies like before, moving from one hiding spot to another completely unnoticed.

Every person Doctor Gil met on his way to the exit tried to turn him back around toward the shelter. Every time the doctor had to try to make up some urgent matter he had to attend to first. The first time he wasn’t convincing enough for an allied soldier, and he was taken by the arm. The soldier had every intention of dragging Gil to safety whether he liked it or not. Instead, the dutiful soldier hit the ground like a log when a faint wisp of blue carved a fine line through the air and across the back of his neck. Witnessing someone die so suddenly, and without the slightest bit of warning, was terrifying. These men were even more dangerous than the doctor could have imagined. Gil made sure to have a convincing story ready after that. He didn’t want to see this again; he didn’t want anyone unfortunate enough to bump into him to die just because they insisted on helping.

The situation only got worse once Gil was outside of the HQ building. It seemed like everything on the far side was on fire, and the gunfire and shouting was becoming even more intense. The ground shook as the HQ building was shelled by the Cordaean armas. No wonder people were eager to get him underground.

“Where to now?” Gil asked the two ghosts escorting him. He almost didn’t notice the trail of blue mana being drawn in front of him on the ground. It raced out and toward the warehouses, marking his way. For a brief moment, Gil contemplated going some other way. Could they catch him? The two ghosts weren’t treating him poorly, per se, but there was still no guarantee he would survive at his destination. The fate of his research was even more uncertain, but Gil doubted the Calmans would want to help him complete it. If he went with them, the Crimson Tide Project might be doomed.

Despite his fears for the project, Gil couldn’t risk running now. He knew only as much about the capabilities of Calig’s Blue Ghosts as they were willing to let him see; no doubt they had even more cruel tricks and methods hidden away for people that wanted to be difficult. In the end, Doctor Gil still valued his own life over the fruits of his research. After all, what was once made could be made again. As long as he was alive, there was hope. He followed the trail toward the warehouses, hoping against hope that none of his allies were waiting there.

Just as he was getting close to the buildings, close to safety, Gil felt a strong warmth in his chest. He felt dizzy. A dark vignette closed in on him, narrowing his vision more and more until he could hardly see anything at all. Gil stopped trying to run and hunched over. For a split second, he thought he remembered feeling like this before. It was well over a month ago, but it hadn’t been nearly this intense. Fearing he was about to pass out, Gil crouched down. Then he heard a shell coming down nearby. All the doctor heard before his hearing left him was a loud pop.

Doctor Gil could feel himself lying on his back. He could hear men talking over him. His limbs ached, but his right arm in particular. If he didn’t know better, Gil could have sworn his arm was fractured. Maybe it was. He didn’t have a clue what was going on, where he was, or how he’d gotten there. Once he opened his eyes, the situation only got worse. The second ghost, the one that was always so impatient with him, the one that had effortlessly taken away his only means of defense, was standing directly over him with a gun drawn. Gil could see straight down the black barrel and up to the blue eyed ghost wielding it.

Was this it?

“Don’t move,” the ghost warned.

Gil could barely move his lips, but he had to ask, even at the risk of dying here and now, “What happened?”

“You tell me,” the ghost spat back.

“Help him up.” The doctor recognized the first ghost’s voice, but that wasn’t the one who came up from above–rather behind–him and hauled him up to his feet.

Gil’s arm was hurting even more, now. He started nursing it with his good arm and looked back to try and see who hauled him up. Whoever it was, there were at least three ghosts accounted for now. The doctor was startled by the site of the third ghost. He was dressed similarly to the first two, but his goggles gave off a haunting red glow. Did Calig also field ‘red ghosts’ or was this blue ghost special somehow? Regardless, the red one made the doctor far more wary than the others, even the one that still had him at gunpoint.

“You said he was the only test subject left,” The red ghost said to the first, the one Gil was almost certain was in charge, now.

“I know what you’re thinking,” the leader said.

“I could sense the mana building up from here. He’s a risk. Need more information before the extraction.”

Doctor Gil could tell a surprising amount about the red one just from the way he spoke. That one was emotionless, focused only on the mission. He wasn’t so much concerned with the process or the methods as with the results. Gil was beginning to suspect that he’d done something ridiculous while he was disoriented, but the red one didn’t really care, so long as they stayed on track. This group of ghosts was starting to make more sense to the doctor. The first ghost he’d encountered was the leader, calm, cool, and reasonably focused. The second ghost was more emotionally driven, but just as capable in a fight, and an invaluable asset to this team. The red ghost was probably the most capable, that or he had some special ability or a set of skills that gave him unique value. The doctor didn’t know if there were any more ghosts, but even if there weren’t, these three seemed capable of taking on just about anything Munica could throw at them. This must have been close to a regular, routine extraction for them.

“First thing’s first,” the leader said, bringing the doctor’s attention to him with a gesture, “Something was wrong with you, Doctor. Shark came to get you out of the open and you went for his gun. After he put you on the ground, you passed out. He carried you the rest of the way. Now it’s your turn to tell us some things.”

“I … did what?” Granted, if Gil thought he had a snowball’s chance on the sun of escaping this situation, he might at least try to think of a plan first, but he wasn’t stupid enough to ever try to disarm a special forces agent, and certainly not one of these three. What in the world had come over him? Why would he do something so embarrassingly, so unfathomably stupid? He had to be making this up.

“Has anything like this happened to you before? Are there any gaps in your memory, or times you felt off since you started testing the stimulant on yourself?”

Good questions, if a bit cutting, Gil admitted. Was he experiencing a side effect of his own combat stimulant? Was it causing him to act differently at times and retain no memory of the event? If that was the case, why hadn’t someone pointed that out to him before now? Why hadn’t his research been exposed yet? Why wasn’t he being closely monitored from inside a cell? No, Gil concluded, this might not be the first time he’d had an ‘episode,’ but it was almost certainly the first time he had ever done something like this. No one would trust him if he went for an allied soldier’s weapon, whatever the reason.

The doctor shook his head. “There were times where I’ve felt off … a few moments that are vague to me, but they would never let me roam or work at all if something like this happened.”

“Not necessarily,” Red cut in, “We’re not your allies. You have every reason to want to protect yourself.”

That had the ring of truth to it. Maybe Doctor Gil wasn’t completely insane during these supposed episodes he was having. Maybe he felt safe, surrounded by security personnel, as well as his automaton assistants. Aside from the shells raining down inside the fortress walls, the blue ghosts were the only threat to his life at Fort Baldi. That had to contribute to what happened.

“We could just knock him out and carry him,” Shark offered.

Not helping the case, Gil bitterly mused.

“I want to know if his change was based internally or externally,” Red said, looking at Gil, “If it’s the latter, then knocking him out is inadvisable.”

“Agreed,” the leader nodded.

“By the way, Red,” Shark made a soft pivot, “what did you find in his notes?”

“The notes?” Gil looked around and quickly spotted his briefcase. Not only was it open, but his research materials were completely out of order. He gasped when he saw that one of the autoinjectors was missing. Red had it right there in his left hand. “What are you doing? Why do you have that?” Surely they could understand the briefcase was better left closed. He wasn’t even surprised they had gotten the thing open in spite of the combination lock, though the doctor did suspect the lock was broken now.

“Never put all your eggs in one basket,” Red said casually. He slid the autoinjector into one of the many pouches on his vest.

Well, at least they weren’t intent on destroying everything. Still, this hardly seemed like the time or place to be rifling through his the doctor’s things. “What are you people trying to do exactly?”

“In a word?” the leader shrugged, “research. We couldn’t wait for you to wake up to find out what happened.”

“The doctor may not be dangerous,” Red explained, “but the compound he came up with is. The physical substance is working fine, but what it does to mana is mostly undocumented. I’m guessing he wasn’t accounting for the communicative properties. It’s a shame there isn’t much he can tell us.”

Gil flinched. That was most certainly not true. “I more than accounted for everything. The hive creatures my materials were taken from were processed correctly and thoroughly. They can’t attune the mana around them beyond the acceptable parameters.”

“That doesn’t fill me with confidence,” Shark said derisively.

“Don’t underestimate crimson psionics,” Red warned the doctor.

The leader of the blue ghosts knelt down over the briefcase and lined up the research pages inside. “I think that’s all Doctor Gil has for us.” He closed the case and stood back up with it. “Next time he does something like that, Shark knows what to do. We’ll figure out the rest once we’re back at base.”

“What happens to me, then?” Gil asked, though a part of him really didn’t want to know. The ghosts had been interested in the test subjects of the Crimson Tide Project before, but now there was strong evidence that something was terribly wrong with them, something terribly wrong with him. The doctor feared for his safety more than ever now, not just because Shark had an excuse to harm him, but because a new threat was lurking within. He didn’t quite understand the implications yet, but he was quickly putting together a grim picture in the back of his mind. Were his days numbered from the moment he began to test the 2XS stimulant on himself?

No one answered him this time. Shark shoved Gil forward as their leader and Red made for the exit.




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