Good Morning Everyone,  

On my website you will see posts about being a writer.  Whether it be tips, tricks, lessons, or randomness, I talk about everything on writing.  Today, instead of talking about it, I decided to show it.  Below you will see the first three chapters of my novel.  (Rough Draft)  Enjoy!  If you would like to see more, or get behind the scenes, support me on Patreon  COVER ART CREATED BY THE AMAZING MATT FLINT!  Check him out on instagram @theartofmattflint

 

Chapter 1

Location: Planet Hurkik

Date: 08/2167

Red light flashed across the hull. The drop ship rocked and rattled as it plummeted toward the planet below. Red lights again flashed throughout the hull, lighting up the faces of the passengers. Planetary Recon Force Delta sat strapped into the ship, shaking and moving with every atmospheric bump. There was no fear on their faces, simply determination.

“Delta! Ears on me!” the large man who was buckled in the center bellowed to the ship. His voice carried with ease over the groans of the dropship.

“Touchdown in two minutes! Sergeant Burkley what’s our mission?”

A holo-screen blinked to life in front of everyone’s faces.

“As Staff Sergeant said, we have two minutes, so I’ll make this quick.” A young man sitting next to the Staff Sergeant spoke. Instead of competing with the dropship he spoke through the comms.

“Three days ago, the research station located on this planet went dark. After numerous hails were ignored they decided to send us in. Initial station deployment notes show no signs of life on this planet. The research facility was host to twenty-four researchers and scientists. Our job today is to knock on the front door and see why no one is answering the phone.”

“Oorah!” the hull roared in response. The red light flashed again, blinking faster the closer they got to the surface.

“Thank you, Sergeant. Any questions Marines?” the Staff Sergeant again howled over the ship.

“Staff Sergeant, what’s with the red light?” A voice broke through the radio.

“Pilot says it’s atmospheric particles mashing with the entry heat, or some shit like that.” Grins and laughter filled the ship.

“Copy that Staff Sergeant.”

The planet surface soon appeared below the dropship. Dust waved away from the ship as the thrusters activated to level the ship for landing. In a thud, they landed and the loading door dropped. The ship’s outer flood lights broke through the night for the Marines that poured out of the ship. In seconds, a perimeter was set, all eyes down sights and ready for anything.

“All clear, Staff Sergeant,” Sergeant Burkley spoke through the radio.

The Staff Sergeant’s outline shadowed the Marines outside as he walked down the ramp. A flash of anger washed over his face.

“Hey pilot! Where the hell is my research station?”

“Sorry Staff Sergeant, the entry was messing with the navigation. We are three miles away.”

“You hear that men! We get to hump three miles because our pilot couldn’t deal with a little atmospheric bullshit!” Sighs and laughs mixed together among the Marines forming the perimeter.

“Marines, form up, check your gear, we move in three,” Sergeant Burkley barked, clearly unhappy about hoofing it three miles in the dark.

The Marines worked quickly; they knew each other, and they knew their gear. The Marines from Delta were renowned for their fast and efficient work. Delta was a family, each one a brother to the other and at the head was Staff Sergeant Isaac. Most of the men were annoyed with this mission, it was essentially hide and go seek. A radio tower goes down they muster and get ready to kick ass, but end up having to help some scientists set up a new tower. Now add a three-mile march at night on a foreign planet in atmospheric quality gear.

“Johnathan…” a voice whispered on the air. A Marine perked up and stared out into the black.

“Johnathan…Where are you?”

“Dunkin, do you hear that?” The marine spoke, still staring into the night.

“Man, Griffin if you don’t stop messing with me…” Dunkin replied.

“I’m serious, I swear I just heard my name.” Griffin still didn’t break away from the night.

“Whatever. Your gear is good. Check mine.” Annoyance danced on Dunkin’s words.

“Hey Corporal Dunkin, you two lovebirds good over there?” Sergeant Burkley shouted.

“Yes Sergeant, Griffin is hearing shit over here. Heading over now.”

The two Marines fell into formation. Grumbles began as the group started their three-mile hike. The Staff Sergeant informed the pilot to move the dropship to their location once they arrived at the research base.

“Johnathan…Come here, I’m lost, where are you?” The voice twirled around the Marine.

Looking out into the night Griffin noticed a silhouette just on the fringes of his flashlight. Grabbing onto Cpl Dunkin, he gasped, “Do you see that?”

Dunkin did see it.

“Contact left!” As soon as the words left Dunkin’s mouth, the group of Marines were sighted in, barrels facing left, all pointed at the figure in the distance.

“Johnathan, I need you, come here,” the voice urged louder in his ears. Trying to focus his flashlight on the silhouette, Griffin recognized the figure.

“Stand down!” he yelled. “That’s my wife!” Breaking rank, he ran toward the figure.

“Corporal Griffin get back in formation or I will have your ass on shit duty!” The Staff Sergeant foamed at the mouth.

It was too late, Griffin was halfway to the figure with Dunkin on his heels.

“Thank you, Johnathan.”

Before anyone could react, the figure leapt. Completing the distance in a single pounce, it latched onto the Marine. The figure wasn’t his wife; it didn’t move like a human. Blood splattered onto Dunkin and his visor blurred with red. The rifles behind him unloaded where Dunkin guessed the figure was. Dropping to the ground, he mashed the blood off his visor to see nothing but gore on the dirt where Griffin stood. Two hands gripped his arms as they guided him to his feet. He noticed the firing stopped. They must have gotten it, he thought.

“Eyes up! It will be back! Dunkin, you good?”

“Aye Staff Sergeant! What the fuck was that? Did you guys get Griffin?” Dunkin was still getting his bearings.

“Griffin’s gone. You survived. Get your rifle and get some payback,” Sergeant Burkley replied before the Staff Sergeant could.

In a flash, Cpl Dunkin’s life had changed. His brother, his best friend was gone; there was no body to be seen. Just a splatter of blood and delusions of his wife were left. Rifle at the ready, Dunkin couldn’t think of what had happened or what might happen. All he could think about was the voice in his head.

“Marcus, brother, where are you? I need help, I can’t see you.” The voice circled Dunkin’s mind.

He knew it wasn’t real; no one else was reacting to Griffin’s voice. The Marines tightened, their eyes shifting from darkness to darkness. The night felt like it was growing murkier around them. Every few moments a shiver would pulse through the group and each marine would perk to a sound they heard. In fireteams of four, the Marines began to backtrack to the dropship, their Staff Sergeant shouting words of encouragement.

“Pilot, Delta Marines are heading back. Do not come out of the ship until I arrive,” the Staff Sergeant spoke through his comms.

Static hissed back at him. An audible “shit” leapt from his mouth.

“Marines, we’ve dealt with worse. We continue moving to the dropship, assess the situation and kick ass if we have to…” He paused a moment, something tugging on his mind. “Twenty minutes to the ship, one eye on your brothers and one eye down your sights…move out”

“Oorah,” the Marines responded, lacking motivation.

“Owen, come here love.”

“Michael, I missed you.”

“Come here.”

“Please.”

The men were beaten; their minds exhausted. The gloom grew closer around them. The dropship seemed farther and farther with every step. Marines began to stumble toward the figures that stood on the fringes of light and darkness, beckoning them to their loved ones. Dunkin’s eyes felt hollow. His sight was on the marine in front of him. Step after step, whisper after whisper from Griffin. Their sanity broke. A Marine ran.

“Meredith! I am coming! I’m sorry I left!” The Marine ran to hug his death.

“A mist of blood appeared once more to envelop the screaming marine. More followed, more died, insanity spread.

“Marines! Form up on me! Do not break ranks!” Sergeant Burkley tried to take control. Behind him their Staff Sergeant was feeding magazine after magazine into his rifle; firing his pain and agony into the darkness surrounding him.

“Sergeant Burkley, command is yours. Get to the ship and get off this planet! Take the men and go!” Staff Sergeant Isaac bellowed his final order. Running into the darkness he fired his rifle, screaming with every shot.

“Cpl Dunkin! You have point! Get us to that goddamn ship!” Sergeant Burkley screamed.

Dunkin forced himself forward. Marines around him broke rank and disappeared into darkness. The voices in his head clawed and hungered for him. He had to push. His brothers all around him stumbled toward the voices that begged for them. Flashlights went dark, screaming and howling drowned out the gunfire. Some marines simply gave up, dropped to their knees and waited for the night to surround them, mumbling, even praying. Ahead of Dunkin, the lights of the dropship appeared. For Griffin, for Staff Sergeant Isaac, for the countless marines slaughtered in the embrace of their “loved” ones. Reaching the ship, he turned to see four marines behind him. Only four.

“Dunkin, get on the radio. This is a scrub. Get us the fuck out of here.” Sergeant Burkley’s words lacked the determination they once had. Beside him the three marines twitched, fighting the voices and visions they saw in the distance.

“Sergeant, what is happening?” one of the marines asked, staring at his boots, focusing on his laces.

“I don’t know…Dunkin, anything?”

Cpl Dunkin emerged from the ship, his face pale.

“Comms are destroyed, something doesn’t want us to leave.” Cpl Dunkin stared out into the darkness.

“Fuck, fucking fuck fuck. Are you kidding me!” Sergeant Burkley screamed. “This is it? This is how we fucking go? No ammo, no light, some fucking voices in our heads! I see my wife following me on this goddamn planet. I want to go to her, but I know I’ll be dead like every other fucking one of us!”

As Sgt Burkley finished his rant, the marine to his right began walking toward the closest figure.

“Where the hell are you going? You’ll die!” The Sgt reached out, grabbing his marine.

“Screw you! My sister is out there and she needs my help!” The marine reached out with a punch, missing Burkley’s face. The punch was enough to break the grip. The marine ran to his death.

In moments, two marines stood outside the dropship. Figures and voices danced all around them. Dunkin and Burkley stared at each other, focused on every detail of their faces. They both knew that breaking focus meant death.

“Sgt, we need to move,” Dunkin said matter-of-factly.

“No shit cpl, but where do you expect us to go?” The way Burkley spat his words announced his anger plainly.

“The research station. It’s three miles from here. I say we run. Drop our gear and run. Whatever the hell is out there has no interest in coming to us, we have to go to it.” Dunkin paused, momentarily fighting the urge to look out into the darkness. “I’m taking my rifle and whatever ammo is left.”

Burkley matched Dunkin’s gaze and a visible chill washed over him with every voice speaking in his head. “Three miles, at night, death around us, and you want to run three miles.”

“Sergeant, you’re not afraid of losing a race, are you?” Dunkin tried with all his might to make a joke. More often than not, humor eased death.

“Fuck you, I’m not staying here alone. You think you have an 18-minute three mile in you?” Burkley flashed a grin.

Their packs dropped to the ground. As they eschewed this weight, a new one replaced it: Survival.

Staring one last time at each other, they focused on their goal. Breaking eye contact, they burst into the darkness. Figures and voices clung to their footsteps, dust pain and death just behind them. The two marines ran.

End Chapter 1

 

 

Chapter 2

Location: Patrol Frigate Tunton

Date: 08/2167

“Space, a vast empty black nothing. At least, that’s the view when you’re sitting on a Class II patrol frigate defending your home solar system from the terrible enemies that are nothing!” I barked into my communicator.

I spend a lot of time doing that; talking to my data pad. It’s a side effect of boredom, I guess. Obviously, no one is listening on the other end, just my personal log of thoughts. I will admit that the only bright side to being here is that once a month a PH Discovery Ship will thrust by on its next journey to a new planet. I wish I was part of that crew: A crew of explorers ready to visit a brand-new planet never seen by human or alien kind. But nope, I’m a level 0 mechanic stuck on a pointless defender.

“Mechanic Androse report to flight deck 3,” the intercom coughed throughout my quarters.

I figured they could wait. Besides, a level 0 mechanic isn’t exactly a high-priority asset. I sat there and imagined what it would be like to travel from star system to star system, exploring the unknown; stepping onto a brand-new planet, searching for sentient life, new races, and new encounters. I wish I could talk to aliens every day like some of these explorers. Sure, the random alien trader that stops by is cool, but… A bang at the hatch jolts me to reality. I was lost in my thoughts as dreamt of space, but I guess I was wrong; I guess they couldn’t wait.

“Mechanic Androse! Get out here now!”

Damnit. I run to my hatch. Please don’t be…damn. A six-foot man stares intently at me, arms crossed, his muscles tempting to tear his mechanic uniform. This is how I die.

“Let’s go Zero.”

“Right away Chief.” I hate that nickname. Just because my name is Zeke and I’m a level zero, he thinks he’s clever. We all get it, jerk.

“Does your intercom work?” He stared into my soul, probably trying to steal it. Damn demon.

“Yes Chief, I was squaring away my room and did not hear it.”

“Sounds like an excuse, Zero. You’re on deck duty for the night. Give me another excuse and it will be two nights.” I don’t know what was blacker: His hair, his eyes or his soul.

“Roger that. It won’t happen again.” That was a lie.

We walked rather fast through the ship, the chief leading the way. Even though he was the Maintenance Chief, people still moved out of his way as if he was the Captain. I could understand why. A six-foot, no-nonsense, cranky-man will make people scuttle. And it’s not as if he was a thin man.  No, his build let you know that he hit the gym every morning and night. Rumors said he was an injured transfer from a first contact infantry team. The surprising part about Chief Mercer was that he never raised his voice. Trust me, I deserved it a few times, but the man kept his voice calm and fluid.

After a brief daydream that didn’t waste nearly enough time down to the flight deck, I snapped back to reality and noticed that people were moving faster than normal. Everyone had an abnormal sense of urgency in their movements.

“Chief Mercer?”

“What, Zero?” I thought he was going to ignore me. Nope, just back to the crappy nickname.

“Is the Admiral visiting?” That was the only reason that I could imagine the hustle and bustle.

“Negative. If you had come down to the flight deck when ordered, you would know. A PH Discovery Ship will be attaching to us to have maintenance done before it leaves the solar system.”

“Are you serious, Chief? A Discovery Ship hasn’t docked here since before I was stationed!”

Now I’m excited to be on this ship.

“Get the thought out of your head. The mechanics have already been selected to go make the repairs. Three level 6s and myself will be performing the maintenance and returning.”

Of course they wouldn’t need a level 0 mechanic. Well, back to daydreaming as the excitement flew from my body.

As we walked, all I could think about was traveling to a new solar system. Seeing new planets, learning new things and maybe even seeing a few new alien species. Talk about regrets! Had I not gaffed off in the selection tests when I joined, maybe I would be an explorer. I feel like I said this earlier. Sorry, this whole narrating my daily journal is still new.

Clearing the last bulkhead, we entered flight deck 3. Engineers, mechanics and standard security hustled about. There was something different and beautiful on this deck, though. A discovery class landing shuttle sat smack in the middle of the flight deck. It was sleek. Too sleek for humans to create alone. This ship showed the perfection that human and alien engineering was able to accomplish when working in tandem.

“Zero, report to Mechanic Foster. And don’t give me another reason to find you personally, you hear?” Chief Mercer growled as he walked away from me, tapping his wrist pad.

My wrist pad chirped to life as the words, Deck Duty 23:00, flashed across the screen.

“Damnit, really hoped he’d forget,” I breathed to myself.

“Androse! Let’s go! Stop day dreaming over there!”

I snapped my head toward the voice. I take back my previous statement; there were two beautiful things on this flight deck. Somehow Mechanic Foster was able to look stunning while wearing mechanic mop suits. Her blonde hair was tightly wrapped into a bun, her suit was splattered with oil while grease stained her delicate hands. Ugh, she is gorgeous.

“Thanks for showing up, Androse.” Her smile melts everything away.

Wait how the hell did I get over here? Shit, stop daydreaming…

“I assume Chief has already chewed your ass out enough. Sadly, you’re on night duty. Lucky for you, you’re the smartest person on duty tonight,” she spoke while smiling.

“Foster, how exactly is that lucky? I get to stare at a discovery class ship all night…yay.” Again, her smile.

“You done being a smart ass? You get to accompany me on the preliminary reactor repairs before Chief Mercer and his crew head over in the morning.”

“Are you kidding me!” I flip out.

“Get your gear. The shuttle leaves in 20 minutes.”

She didn’t have to tell me twice! My locker never opened for me so fast. Clamps, fusers, scanner, hack tool, and of course my wrist pad. Coming back from my locker I see a that the discovery shuttle is gone. Too bad; I was hoping to fly over in it. Foster meets me at our shuttle, strapped up and ready to kill. She was the kind of girl who looked like she could kick your ass and then strut the runway. Is that even possible?

“I bet you can’t wait to log this in your diary, Androse,” Foster broke the silence on the shuttle.

“I’m sorry, what?” I reply.

“Everyone knows you talk to your data pad almost as much as you daydream. I just figured this would be your next entry. Unless of course you have that thing recording 24/7.”

The discovery ship grew as we drifted closer.

“Funny you mention that. Yes, my diary records 24/7, but I also made some modifications.” I scooted closer to her.

Tapping a couple times on the data pad a hologram danced to life from the screen. The view before her was me hanging out in my room.

Her eyes widen in shock. “How did you do this?”

“Like you said I am the smartest mechanic.”

“I said on night duty.” Her eyes rolled as she cut me off.

Surprise washed over her once more as my voice leapt from the data pad and began narrating the events displayed on the hologram.

“Wait, are you talking to us right now?” She is cute when she’s curious.

“Actually, yes. Most nights I play back the holo-recordings and narrate them. It kills time and gives me an escape.”

Her eyes are glued to the hologram, breaking away she stares up at me.

“Androse, two things. One: You must do this to my data pad. Two: You need more friends.” She laughed as she sat back in her seat.

“Or a girlfriend.” Shit, did I just say that? Luckily, as the words left my mouth our shuttle landed with a thud.

“What did you say?” she asked, getting her tools ready.

“I said, or a life.” Lie.

Throwing my pack over my shoulder I headed toward the exit ramp.

End Chapter 2

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3

Location: Yylden

Date: 08/2167

 

Corrupt data log…

…adjusting parameters…

…foreign substance within data…

…Complete…

Beginning immersive sequence…

 

“Quiet. Silence like the night,” Sera spoke to herself as she crept through the brush.

Ahead, a beast prowled around its kill. His fangs gleamed in the sunlight. The beast smiled and his bodied shivered as he readied to feast. Sera slipped closer and closer, her hand gripping the blade attached to h

er waist. The small dagger unsheathed just slightly as Sera lunged toward her prey. Whistling ripped through the air as four arrows pierced the beasts’ skin. It dropped to the dirt with no movement.

“Got it!”

“You see that shot?”

“Oh, both of you shut it! My arrow killed it!”

Four men dropped from the nearest tree. Leaves and brush concealed their clothes. Sera stood. Anger was cemented on her face, a deep blue glow traced under her skin.

“Hey Sera, we…uh…had no idea you were hunting,” the tallest of the men offered as he stepped toward her.

The wind cut through the group, rustling the blulga tree leaves. Silence stopped the wind dead.

“Besides, we helped you. Maybe a drink can resolve this?” The man flashed Sera a grin.

“You took my kill.” Her words cut like the knife would have.

“I wouldn’t say…”

“I would. I stalked that beast since morning. Then the great and powerful Tunk came to my rescue and killed the big beast.”

“Sera, listen it’s just…”

She gave him no chance to speak, turning around, she jogged off into the brush. She disappeared in the overhanging shade of the trees.

Sera jumped and ducked through the forest. She came to a stop as the device on her wrist pulsed to life. Rolling her eyes, she ignored the lights and pressed on. As she came to a clearing in the forest, a voice rasped from the device.

“Sera, listen, we weren’t trying to steal your hunt,” Tunk’s voice spoke.

“Then what? Trying to impress me? I’ve told you once and I’ll tell you again, I have no interest in performing the ritual with you,” Sera spoke, not breaking her stride.

“Why do you have to be so difficult? You are the best shaman and I am the best hunter!”

“Second best hunter, Tunk.” With that, Sera cut the conversation.

The sun had succumbed to night by the time Sera had returned to her village. Her eyes glowed a feint blue as she sauntered through the town. 20 years ago, when Sera was just a child, no one would have imagined a shamanistic tribe ever exploring the stars. Yet, wooden huts gave way to space metals and trade ships fly through the atmosphere at all hours of the day. Many of the more traditional people of the village still cling to their simple pasts. Handmade rugs, banners and cloths drape homes scattered about the area. Even more devout shamans wear clothing dating back to before Sera took her first steps as a child. Sera has married the two worlds into her own form. Her clothing flashed elegance and tradition, performing the necessities for a hunter. The metallic armor stitched within her clothing allowed for free movement of all her joints. In her early years, she realized magic and armor do not mesh well.  Armor is restrictive, and her people’s magic focuses on body movement and gestures. Over time, with the help of a friend, she was able to infuse the little armor she had with magic to help her movements.

Coming to her home, Sera stopped before the door. A small slit emitted a glow. The light slowly flowed down Sera from the top of her brown hair to stop momentarily at her azure eyes. With a faster speed it finished scanning her, allowing the door to slide open. Walking in, Sera waved her hand. Sapphire light danced from her finger tips, making its way toward cylinders along the walls. In a moment her house came to life as the light filled the cylinders. Sera’s home welcomed her with the warmth of old traditions. Around her household, shamanistic traditions intertwined with space and science. The sconces along the walls directed the inhabitants to a separate room with a large carved rock at the center. Kneeling before the rock, Sera closed her eyes and began to breathe slowly. With purpose, an aura of azure surrounded her as a grin flashed on her face.

The morning did not come slowly enough. Sera’s home rumbled awake as the first star ship flew in for the day.

“Ugh, far too early to be waking up,” she mumbled to no one.

Sliding out of bed, Sera grabbed her metallic bracelet and slipped it on. Its lights blinked to life as it snugged to her wrist.

“Data log conversion: 76%,” the computer voice twittered from the bracelet.

“Damn technology! It’s just magic! Work to-ge-ther,” again, speaking to no one.

Daylight washed into Sera’s home as her front door slid open. Walking into the world, thrusters and engines drowned out nature. In front of her stood a man. His size did not compare to the hunters of the village. Nervousness and uncertainty crossed his face.

“Gryff! You didn’t have to come here this early! I was going to head over later today.” The cobalt under Sera’s skin dulled as she realized who it was.

“I’m sorry Sera. I couldn’t wait. You have to see this.” The urgency and excitement fell flat on his words.

“Oookay, well, come in.”

“No, my shack, it’s…it’s there.” He awkwardly turned and began walking.

Sera smirked and followed. She enjoyed his company; she wouldn’t follow just anyone so unquestioningly. Ever since she began fusing her magic with technology, Gryff had helped in any way he could. What he lacked in athleticism he made up for in knowledge. There were times Sera swore he knew more than the oldest shamans. His lack of “manliness” didn’t go unnoticed though, every hunting group made it a point to let him know his weaknesses.

The walk to Gryff’s house was as quiet as if Sera were walking by herself. In the next few moments they arrived at his home. Gryff was tucked far enough away from village that nature could be heard again. Sera took a moment to take it all in, her skin shimmering blue head to toe. When she opened her eyes, she caught Gryff staring at her.

“Can I help you?” A smile leapt to her lips.

“Uh no…no, inside. You have to see this, Sera.”

Sera had lost count at how many times she had been to Gryff’s house, but one thing stayed constant: She was mesmerized with all the tech in his home. Different colors and sparks, hums and buzzes, trinkets and tinkerings surrounded the house. Her eyes filled with wonder every time. Gryff pushed past all the devices and items as if they weren’t the most amazing toys ever.

“Sera, back here. I found this last night.”

“Last night? Gryff, it’s not safe at night!”

“That’s not the point! I had to finish my star map…but I found this thing.” His nervousness grew.

Leading her into the backroom, Gryff revealed a metal sphere set on top of his shelf. It was pristine, not one scratch or scuff. The only marking was an engraved symbol.

“Where did you find that?”

“I was looking at the stars, completing my star map, and I fell. I fell hard. When I woke up, this was on my chest.”

Sera reached out and grabbed it, holding it in her palm. She concentrated. Blue surged down her arm and jumped up from her hand. Surrounding the sphere, the sapphire color began to glow. After a moment, the magic withdrew into Sera.

“It’s not from these lands, or this planet for that matter,” Sera spoke softly.

“I can’t match the symbol on it to anything in my catalogues.” Gryff went to grab it back.

A bolt of aqua light launched from the sphere and blasted him into the wall.

“Gryff!” Sera screamed as she threw the orb, but it didn’t leave her hand. The sphere began to melt. In seconds it had engulfed itself in light and formed itself to her hand. Reaching the bracelet on her wrist, it stopped and began to tightly form to every wrinkle and curve of her hand.

“Conversion 100%. How may I assist Sera?”

“Did…did that thing just talk to you?” Gryff grunted as he attempted to stand.

Sera ran to him and helped him to his feet. “I think it did.”

“Well, ask it something!” Curiosity blazed in his eyes.

“Um, why did you attack Gryff?”

“I designated ‘Gryff’ as a hostile. He was trying to remove me during the bonding phase.”

“Bonding phase! You mean we are bonded!” Sera glowed an intense indigo.

“Correction. We are not bonded in the way your species uses this word. I have mapped your DNA within my cortex to allow synchronous rendering.”

“WHAT!?!” Sera began to scratch at her metallic hand.

“I understand,” Gryff said solemnly.

“That’s great, help me get it off!” Sera continued to claw at the metal.

“Incorrect. We have bonded at the genome level. There is no removal.”

“What are you?” Gryff asked, inspecting Sera’s hand as she flipped out.

“I am an Artificial Bonded Enhancement. You may call me ABE.”

“That’s great, now get off my hand!”

As the words left Sera’s mouth, ABE leapt from her hand and formed on her bicep. A shimmering silver band was now hugging her arm.

“As requested. I have moved from your hand.”

Gryff laughed and in the storm of emotions, Sera realized she had never seen him laugh, let alone smile.

“Fine! Fine. Gryff, what do we do?”

“Only logical answer would be to go back to where it seems ABE found me.” Gryff continued to inspect the metal on her bicep.

“Designated location has been charted. Proceed when ready, Sera,” ABE chimed from her arm.

“Wait, I know where to go…How do I know where to go?”

“With our bonding, I can transmit information straight into your brain, and…”

“Enough, just enough,” Sera cut ABE short. “Let’s go.”

Sera and Gryff stepped out from the home and, with the sun high in the sky, the three set off toward their destination.

End Chapter 3

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