tagSci-Fi & FantasyThe Naked Weapon

The Naked Weapon


The harsh white light of the interrogator's lamp dug into my eyes. As someone who spent most of his life hunched over a laptop screen -- ergonomics sounded like a problem for future Abby -- it wasn't quite as discomforting as the racist pukes from whatever government salad had decided to boot in the front door of my parent's house, throw around a bunch of official mumbo jumbo, and jam me into the back of a van likely wished that it was.

I figure I should have been a lot more scared...but something was telling me everything was going to be all right. It was my djinn. My gut feeling, the little whisper in the back of my head, which told me when it was the right time to try and slip into a network or crash a server or do any of the other black-hat tricks I'd picked up over the years, the tricks that had gotten me the early build to half a dozen video games, or access to the inner communications of Marvel and Disney and Sony. If I had wanted, I could have ruined a lot of lives.

But that wasn't exactly my scene.

Still, I felt as calm and centered as I did in the dojo, after sweating for a few hours. That little voice in the back of my head whispered: Everything's going to be a-okay. So, when the man sitting across the table -- face invisible thanks to the bright lamp and the dark rest of the room -- coughed and started to talk, I interrupted him.

"Well, Agent K, if you don't mind, I think I'd like to skip all the BS and get right to my phone call."

You're not actually given a phone call when the cops arrested you. But fuck doing this the easy way.

The quiet sigh that came from the other end of the lamp made me smile beatifically.

"You're not getting a phone call, Mr. Hatem. I'm afraid that you might not understand the real severity of the situation you're facing here." A manila envelope slid across the table. At least, I think it was manila. If I could have, I would have shaded my eye from the interrogation lamp. But that was why they had zip ties, huh? "This is your record. Or, more accurately, the record of your hacker persona." The man paused. "SmegmaBreath."

I grinned. "You know I picked that name just to try and see if I could get one of you fuckers to say it."

"Well, Mr. Hatem, you've succeeded." There was a short pause, and the manila envelope was opened up. A finger tapped down on a photograph of a man and the lamp was shifted just enough to let me see it. I frowned. I'd never seen him before in my life. "Do you know this man?"

I shook my head. The dude was some Eastern European looking guy in a really truly hideous yellow tracksuit. Like a Pikachu who might sell you a Kalashnikov that they'd stolen from some Soviet era arms depot.

"Never seen him before in my life," I said. "Listen, if you think he's an accomplice than I'm officially insulted."

The manila envelope closed. The light shut off, then a new one came on, overhead. It was a kind of transition that left me expecting a glowering Batman, but instead, I was just looking at a middle aged white guy pressed out of the standard middle aged white guy who works for some part of the United States federal government mold. He clasped his hands forward and smiled at me. I felt a faint poke against the side of my head. My eyes narrowed and I jerked my head around, trying to see who was poking me.

"Interesting..." the man said.

And now that feeling that everything was going to be okay?

It was gone.

"What's going on?" I asked, actual fear creeping into my voice.

My zip-cuffs unlatched themselves and fell to the ground behind me. I jerked my hands up, rubbing the red lines on my dark wrists. I looked back, to see who had undone the latches. No one was there. I looked back at the man. He was actually in a uniform. It was air force blue, but don't ask me to name what rank he was. I was never much into the whole military side of things.

"I'm Colonel Springly," the man said, his hands clapsing before him. "And I would like to offer you a job, Mr. Hatem."

I blinked slowly. "I...hacked into top secret Pentagon files and you want to offer me a job?" I asked.

Colonel Springly chuckled. "As much as it pains me to admit this, it's less that you hacked into those files, and more how you did it. Our information security is woefully substandard and considering the number of breaches, the files you accessed being accessed isn't what surprised us or what caught my attention."

I frowned. "What did?"

"It was the fact that you hacked in while your entire neighborhood had their internet down." Colonel Springly said, his voice filled with a kind of wry amusement. It was hard to pin down exactly what kind of amusement. It wasn't the 'ha ha, lets push the weirdo down and laugh at him' kind of amusement that I'd gotten all too used to in my four years of hellish high school. It was more like the kind of amusement you got when you were watching a film with a big twist half way through with someone who'd never even heard of it...and you were just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

That feeling in the back of my head had switched to full on 'oh fuck' mode.

"Bullshit," I said. "I'd have noticed."

"And yet, you did not," he said. "And just now..." he focused and another poke slapped against the back of my head. I rubbed my hair and looked back. "You blocked me."

I felt...cold.

"What?" I looked back at him.

"Mr. Hatem, you are a latent psychic," Colonel Springly said. "With some fairly potent electrokinetic sigma and fairly good intuitive defenses." He slid the manila envelope towards me. "Right now, you get to choose. You can either come with me in a car and we can see what your talents can do when put to constructive use. Or I can hand this file over-" I started to rifle through papers. Turns out Sketchy Pikachu Man was a Ukrainian hacker with ties to human trafficking, heroin smuggling, and assassinations in Germany, France and Algeria. Also he was my bestest buddy in the whole wide world. "-to the CIA and you can see how they handle someone named Abadi Hatem."

I frowned, slowly. "You ever hear about getting more flies with honey than vinegar, douchebag?"

On the page, that might have sounded brave. Defiant. But, uh, in real life, my voice squeaked and broke and I swore I started to sweat enough to turn into a puddle of slightly brownish water.

Colonel Springly chuckled.

I tossed the envelope down. "Well, then. Lets go."


So, if I had thought that this job would be fun, that thought was wrecked about ten minutes after the sweat-soaked bag was slung over my head and my hands were ziptied behind my back again. I sat in the back of a van that kept bouncing and jouncing. And as we drove, I tried to do something psychic.

Everyone born after 1997 had, at least once in their lives, whispered the word: Expelliarmus. Or wingardium leviosa. Or something. They had whispered the word and wished, or hoped, or begged, or maybe even prayed that something would happen.

Or maybe that was just me?

But you know that time where you think that something might be possible. You stand there and focus and imagine what life would be like if the book moved, or if you actually started to fly, or if you could see through the locker room wall into the girl's locker room and...and then nothing happens.

Next to that agonizing suspense, the bag and zip cuffs and terror of knowing what the United States government could do to me if it decided that it was done messing with my brain, was nothing. Every time I focused on trying to make my own zip-ties unlock, I felt that tantalizing sense that I might be able to do something, and felt the world hold its breath, and then...


while.stick_in_a_van_waiting_to_die(yes) {run.panic_script}

Finally, the back door of the van opened and I was dragged out. Rough arms dragged me out into heat and sunlight. Even with a bag over my head, I could feel baking hotness smashing against my shoulders and the top of my head. The arms pushed me along, hurrying me as if they expected me to go sprinting away from them if given a moment's pause. By the time I felt my shoes hitting metal and the heat was dropped from intense outside to air conditioned inside, I was almost getting used to being carted along. Then we were taken to an elevator. I coughed, then asked: "So, uh, how about that elevator musak?"

Again, weak jab. Cause that inner voice in my head was screaming alarm bells in my head.

The two people holding me didn't respond.

The elevator went down for, like, several centuries. When the door finally dinged open, I heard a tired sounding female voice: "We've got full synchronization. Central says that they're clear."

"Thanks, Lt. Natasha."

The voice had sounded like, super Russian. They said "we" like "vee." I was about to ask something when I got forced forward again. I stumbled, and felt the voice in my head go on full on stop right now mode. I dug in my heels and knew, knew to the base of my spine, to the tip of my hairs, to the gurgling of my belly that I was walking towards a blender made of evil. If I kept going forward, I absolutely totally would die. I started to hyperventilate as I kicked at the ground, trying to get them to slow me down.

The arms were implacable. They didn't even curse.

Then the horror was pressed to my face.

And then I was being torn to pieces. My skin was peeled off. My bones were crunched. My arms were ripped off.

And my face hit the ground and I groaned. I was sprawled on something broad and flat and metal and the faint humming feeling of the floor suffused my body. It was like being in a car, but several times deeper and slower. And there were no bumps. I groaned again -- and then heard a quiet tchss. The sound you make when you click your tongue and hiss at the same time. A hand grabbed onto the hood and yanked it off my head.

"Well, well, well!" A cheerful, female voice -- British, I think -- rang out above me. An arm slid around my back and I was tugged up onto my feet. My shoes skidded slightly and I looked around with a wild, whipping, jerking motion. I was standing in a room that gave new meaning to the words of paranoid. The place was a sphere of explosives. Like, literally, I could see the C4 and the detonation cables running up to the walls. There were heavy machine guns aimed directly at me, ringing around a doorway that was made of solid steel. The only way you could walk without stepping on C4 was a narrow bridge of metal that went to the door itself. Like Cerebro from the, honestly, pretty crappy X-Men movies.

But then I noticed the girl who was helping me to her feet.

For one thing, she was only a year or so older than me. She had short hair that had been dyed a dark, sea blue. The fringes were tipped white, giving her a surf's up hair style. Her nose was button cute and covered with freckles and she had warm, brown eyes.

Also, she was buck naked.

Like, completely naked.

My eyes widened as I noticed the obvious things first. I mean, I was male. But the other things were just weird enough to draw my eye. She had a pair of chevrons painted onto her shoulder, and a blue line painted around her neck. Her hips had a thin leather strap that severed as a belt, and she had a side-arm that looked like a wooden handle attached to a carved chunk of glass that glittered in the harsh white light of the sphere. Her feet had a pair of bulky slippers on, and her toes had been painted black.

"My eyes are up here, luv," she said, snapping her fingers.

"Where..." I looked back.

A donut shaped hunk of metal, wires, crystal and plastic sat in the center of the sphere. I could see through it to the C4 on the far side. My throat worked and I looked back at the girl. She clucked her tongue, looking me up and down, her hands tucking into her armpits as she crossed her arms over her chest.

"At least you're in shape," she said. "The last two recruits nearly died before we got any use out of them."

"The flying fuck is going on?" I gasped out. "Who are you? Where am I?"

The girl grinned. "Ah, I love new fish..." She licked her lips. "I'm Squaddie Pound -- Amelia Pound. Raptor Squad. As for where you are..." She walked with me to the door. It groaned open, revealing a curving corridor that led past two pillboxes built into the wall. Quad-linked heavy machine guns and claymore mines were aimed outwards. No one manned them, but I had this uncomfortable sense that the guns could still fire if need be. The door they guarded opened and Amelia and I stepped out onto an a circular deck. Four stairs led off in the cardinal directions. But the deck itself was ringed around with a panoramic window that made my eyes bug.

We stood before a star so vast that it dwarfed my comprehension. It consumed the horizon, a vast endless swath of shimmering, ruby red light. The light was dampened by the windows, but it still felt like I was being glared at by a god that was very angry I had never taken him very seriously. The blackness that stretched behind me was as infinite and deep as I had imagined space would be -- with the cold, unwinking stars. But what I hadn't expected was the vast mountain of steel and plastic and glass that stretched out underneath me.

I was on the spire of a ship.

And the flag painted on the side was that of the United Nations.

"Welcome to the Arcturus system, aboard the UNN ExoOp Headquarters Ship," Amelia said, cheerfully as she stepped up to stand beside me gawping out the window. "Home of the PsiCom, the front lines in the biggest war in the galaxy, and your brand new home away from home."

I slowly looked at her.

"So..." I whispered. "I was thinking that this might be a reality show earlier, but...um..."

Amelia giggled. "Now would be the time for that smarmy bugger to jump out from behind a sofa and say that you just got punked." She paused, looking around herself, expectantly. The motions of her head and the craning movement of her body did...interesting things to her perky, delicious breasts. "Said smarmy wanker seems to be absent." She smiled.

"Ah! I see our newest recruit has arrived!" A big, booming, jovial voice rang out. I turned around and yelped. Seeing Amelia naked had been a surprise. But somehow it was even more shocking to see a huge bear of a black man striding up the southern stairs, swinging dick like it ain't no such thing. The blue ring around his neck was almost invisible against his skin, but his chevrons were very white and very easily seen. He held out his hand, grinning broadly. "Sergeant Barry Freeman. Once you get sent through the PC, you'll need to jump when I say boo. But for now, just call me Barry."

I looked at his hand.

Amelia watched.

I got the intense feeling that they were checking to see my reactions.

I gulped, then took Barry's hand. I forced myself to not get weirded out by the fact that he was completely fucking naked. Instead, I smiled and said: "Is this the test to see if I freak out about a big old dick swinging out? Cause, uh, I'll have you know...I own the Watchman director's cut."

Barry laughed a big booming laugh, then slapped my shoulder so hard I almost faceplanted into the glass. "I like you kid!"

I rubbed my shoulder and tried to subtly pop it back into joint as Amelia and Barry led me towards the southern stairs. So, I knew the basics of how the military worked, and I was pretty sure that non-comissioned officers and regular old enlisted folks didn't just rub shoulders. But then again, most armies weren't in deep space and didn't walk around buck ass naked. Speaking of being in deep space, the first thing I asked was: "How the flying fuck did I get here?"

"Stargate, kid," Barry said, nodding as we came out of the stairs and into a curving corridor. It was like one of those two story corridors in a mall. I could see the lower chambers we were walking over and there were actually people wearing clothes down there. They were operating computers and hurrying too and fro, like they had places to be, things to do. But there were also plenty of people naked. Some were going paint free. Others had enough paint to make them more paint than man.

Lots of them were women.

All of them were fucking gorgeous.

I was starting to regret my hormones. And not being asexual. I was already dreading the future enough as it was, did we have to add mortifying embarrassment?

Then what Barry said got through my brain and I did a double take. "What?"

"Technically," Amelia said, smirking. "It's a psy-gate. Taking advantage of the sub-quantum field, it creates a wormhole that bypasses Einstein's fuzzy head by forming connections based on human psyche. You know how you can think about an old flame and feel like they're standing right next to you?" She snapped her finger. "The psy-gate takes that and actualizes it." She sighed. "Which is why I'm counting the days until Natasha gets back..."

I remembered the Russian sounding voice. "You...you're telling me that you have a teleporter that's powered by lesbian angst!?"

Amelia looked less than amused.

We came to a doorway that hissed smoothly open -- I'd say it was Star Trek style, but it actually rushed into the ceiling -- and then started down a corridor that led past a series of doors, each one stenciled with a different designation. I tried to catch what the rooms could be for, but we were going too fast and I was trying too hard to follow Barry's exposition.

"In 1995, there was an incident that almost started World War 3. You may have heard of it: The Norwegian Rocket incident?" Barry glanced at me. Being a stupid millennial, I shook my head. Barry chuckled. "Basically, kid, the Russians detected a missile launch. Turned out it was a simple science launch, but they still scrambled for World War 3 before realizing it was not directed their way." He paused. "That's the official story. What the history books don't have are three Russian Su-27s shot something entering their airspace down. They were tempted to keep a lid on it...but, well, lets just say that NATO couldn't quite miss that sort of action."

I nodded, slowly. "Are...you going to say the Russians shot down an alien spaceship?"

"Nah," Barry said as we rounded a corner and came to a military checkpoint. An officer wearing actual clothes looked us over -- and I could see a faint wrinkling of his nose, like just seeing Barry and Amelia pissed him off. But he hid it rapidly enough that only my expertise in spotting racist pricks sneering at me behind my back let me see it. He signed us through with a respectful: "Sergeant, Squaddie."

We walked through and Amelia grinned -- taking up the slack for the moment. "We shot down an alien, luv."

"An alien?" I blinked. "Like a space whale?"

Barry shook his head, then snapped his fingers. The air before me shimmered and a small, foot high image appeared, like a freaking hologram from the movies. It shimmered and glowed, as if it wanted to make sure I knew it wasn't real. But it was of barely humanoid figure -- two arms, two legs, a head. Past that, everything was utterly alien and utterly beautiful. It was covered in crystalline chunks which caught the light and glowed with a thousand iridescent points, like a living lens flare. Its head swept back and out in a broad crest, which came to seven narrow points, while its fingers ended in hideously long claws.

"This is a Doyen," Barry said. "They've ruled the galaxy since we were knapping obsidian for spear heads and fucking cute Neanderthals. They're a race of inherent psychics, who are able to manipulate dark energy to replicate everything we've managed with hard tech. And more."

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byDragonCobolt© 60 comments/ 83603 views/ 179 favorites

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