Decima, Aboard the Skylon
Gideon suited up. His nerves were tense at the idea of meeting new strangers.
He equipped the priceless heirloom, his platinum filigree QSD. The gold connectors clicked into place, an electrical jolt went through his spine to alert him of the successful connection. He felt his mind updated to the new instance.
Connecting... Connected! Calibrating... Calibration complete! Connection Rendered Instance 90939090 created OS: Corbenic v.50.00 Name: Gideon McDonough (CEO; Super Administrator; Creator) Status: Pinnacle Health Quantum Charge: 260,000/260,000 QC Galactic Nebula: ERROR NO SIGNAL Location: Skylon
He dove into his inventory to find the gear he needed.
Orange pixelated light surrounded his being, equipping him in the Mark V combat armor with his newly designed adamantite pulse rifle, kitted out with a barrel camera, threaded noise modulated barrel, laser sightings, dynamic scope, bullpup stock, a five pack of shield discharges, and an underslung det launcher with scattergun option. The adamantite was almost hidden under the upgrades but still stood out.
He had a holstered pulse pistol along with several pouches of ammo and det charges, just in case anything happened to his QSD. The armor plating from the combat armor did encapsulate it, but no armor was perfect from his experience. The interlocked plating of his armor jingled softly as his masked helmet clicked shut, leaving four dashes along the flat angled helm for eye cameras. One of the newest upgrades to the armor thanks to Patricia. It left more protection without losing visibility. His vision expanded as the helm lit up, leaving his field of view unimpeded.
He flexed at the interlocked plated gauntlets, impressed by the flexibility that the beryllite plating gave him. Much of the combat armor had beryllite reinforced plating, making it stronger and tougher than its previous iteration. To say it was Mark V was no longer correct. Mark VI was now the confirmed description.
He glanced over at steak who had equipped his own power armor. The bulk and armor plating had increased, with massive interlinked beryllite skirts and leg armor, giving him the look of an immobile turret wielding a pulse cannon and great shield. He opted back for the pulse rifle shoulder mounts and shielding side mount arms once again.
Deborah had her own pulse cannon, which appeared closer to a rifle that fit her. She had several braces of pulse pistols which she personally requested. An odd need that he fulfilled as he more pulse pistols than people.
Baxter was just Baxter as he was garbed in his square padded jumpsuit with QSD attached. The Hind Canis was still out of commission due to Saddiffer, with Patricia stating she had ideas for its eventual rebirth.
Shindow requests QSD and suit access Confirm? Yes/No Yes
Gideon felt another being occupy his head, that of a familiar friend.
“Are you ready?” She asked from inside his own mind.
“Only somewhat,” he replied snidely as he checked sights, ammo, and gear.
“Gideon, this is what I have dreamed of for an eternity. We have your back,” Deborah exhorted as she shouldered her cannon with an alabaster grin.
“Good Gideon, I will guard you with my being. None will stand against you,” Steak encouraged, his single red eye flashing with intensity. Gideon was glad he was on their side.
“Gid we are just OK! Let us go fas- go meet people get back scritches and eat food!” Baxter chuffed with a stammer.
“It’s just like you to break first contact down into getting head pats,” Gideon shot back with a chuckle.
“That is not true. I like bellyrubs. And snacks!” Baxter replied without awareness.
Everyone laughed at that. The high strung nature of their meeting was slightly deflated by Baxter’s simple desires.
Deborah gently gripped Gideon’s shoulder.
“Gideon, remember your training. I will be close by. If I sense demonic activity, we will strike quickly and firmly.”
His stomach fluttered at the idea of dropping the ramp into oncoming fire. Deborah raised her hood, the Watcher robe suddenly shrouded all of her features apart from the torn sleeve.
“You’re not alone,” Shindow added internally.
“Let’s not keep this M.M. Lewis waiting,” Gideon announced.
The Decima’s ramps folded and lowered revealing a new vessel unseen by his eyes. Steak began first, trundling his way forward down the ramp with ease, Gideon and Deborah followed with Baxter tagging behind. The hangar’s expanse opened up to them. Skylon itself was massive in size, and the bridge was no different. He felt it was capable of holding several Decima’s side-by-side. The brushed brass metal was teaming with paisley designs and soft blue glowing lights held aloft by antigrav nodes pulsed gently. It appeared the lights were escorting the large group of semi-friendly looking individuals. While not as well armed as Gideon were large in numbers. The only semblance of humanity comparable to Gideon was that they all walked on two legs. One glared at Gideon, his large eyes narrowed. It was a frog.
Is that a walking frog?
“Whoa… Aliens!” Shindow replied excitedly.
Another figure moved to the front, graceful on its long double-jointed legs. It’s white fur stood out from the brass armor plating knitted into his brown clothing. It wielded a strange looking rifle that appeared as if it had too many attachments on one side. It’s long ears stood tall with a slight flop, it’s nose and whiskers twitched at the new visitors. It eyed them with a mixture of calm curiosity and sligh suspicion.
“It’s a walking rabbit,” Gideon muttered.
He felt suddenly disconnected from himself at seeing the strange creatures. He felt it when he experienced the Watchers. He felt it twice over with Saddiffer and Deborah. The feeling that nothing he just witnessed was real.
The large rabbit being spoke in a dainty voice.
“Welcome visitors! Madame Lewis welcomes you as guests aboard the merchant vessel Skylon,” The rabbit began as it took a few steps forward away from the main group, bowing with a flourish at Gideon. “Strange vessel! My lady is curious about its design. And value,” the rabbit being added letting its glowing monocle drop to its armored chest with a tink.
“Who would our potential saviors call themselves?” The rabbit being added passively.
Gideon snapped to a woman in the midst of the group. Her presence was palpable, which implied this was M. M. Lewis.
“It seems this guy is more of a diplomat,” Shindow began.
“Or their sales representative,” Gideon added snidely.
Gideon stepped forward, crooking his rifle and gently pushing past Steak. He caught the glint of his red eye, anticipating a fight. He broke from the distracting thoughts of how a person would buckle being under a constant state of combat weariness like Excertius was.
“Breathable. Air contaminants null,” Shindow replied thoughtfully.
Gideon decided a display of wealth and power was at hand. While the group did have an impressive ship, their gear was lacking.
He raised his rifle, holding it off to his side by the barrel.
He dropped it, letting the rifle store in orange pixelated light before it touched the ground. The rabbit being was taken aback at the sudden light and the vanishing rifle. It was an old sales trick for Primetech; if you stored an item before it hit the ground, the QSD was of sellable quality. It also appeared they didn’t have such tech, which was surprising to him.
Do they not know what QSD is?
The group began to eye Gideon in a new light.
A light he had no idea on how to read. The walking animal-beings had a psychology he had only a grand total of five minutes of experiencing in reading.
He mentally opened his helmet, the flat angled faceplate opened outwards and slide off to the side of his right ear.
The women stepped forward, a subtle wave of her hand staved off her retinue.
She was dressed peculiarly in a vermillion victorian dress with black paisley designs and a bustle. Her chest was covered in a dark curved ornate paisley designed armored breastplate and armored shoulder plating that ended in what appeared to be armored plated cybernetic arms. Her high collar and flat-brimmed hat forced the view to her face, which was covered in a milky cracked rounded Venetian mask sporting a lone red diamond eye in the center with gold vine designs branching from it. She appeared as an ornately designed anform, gorgeous in all respects. Her long limbs gave her a foot of height over Gideon.
And then she spoke, her voice digitally distorted, but all too familiar.
“Shada mon’la. Ah, lyshia’na. Ke ke ke!”
Gideon cocked his head at the strange language. He didn’t hesitate to respond quickly.
“I am Gideon McDonough, heir and CEO of Primetech, Captain of the Decima, Son of Mikial T. McDonough, former CEO of Primetech, heir to the Mars Technocratic Empire, chosen redeemer by Adonai himself.”
“Going for the overwhelm with detail and strong titles?” Shindow began with banter.
“Hey, nothing I said was a lie. I’m a humble man afterall,” Gideon shot back.
The women’s head twitched once as she tilted her ear to Gideon. A long awkward pause ensued as she stood still, possibly thinking.
Then she spoke his language as she clasped her hands, facing him again.
“My, my, Ancient panslavic,” She began, picking at it like choice wine.
“A well-enunciated darling of an accent, if I do say so myself, implying decades of a formal education.”
Gideon’s eyes went wide for a brief second before he recovered his stone face. Her accent was a borderline lazy droll as if her speech took the shortest route to his ears.
“I betcha I can place you near the infancy of the tenth millenia, with your fancy tech affirming your claims.”
“Unless I stole it,” Gideon added internally.
“You did. Or Baxter did. Some of it,” Shindow replied humorously.
“I did a good boy!” Baxter chuffed over internal comms.
“How? How did Baxter get these comms?”
“He asked nicely. And there were ear scratches.” Steak interjected.
“Wait, what? You traded giving Baxter ear scratches and gave him access to the comms? Do you know how bartering works?”
“No.” Steak added with a tone as dry as a desert. A distorted barking laugh on the line gave it away that he understood exactly what he was doing.
“Everyone has fun without me,” Deborah added.
“How are you even communicating with us? You have no tech!”
“Angel magic,” She replied in jest.
“And a vessel with a mighty fine adamantite shell.”
She stepped forward again, just a foot away. He glanced at her hands, seeing the ornate metalwork and engineering of her omni-jointed fingers. It was near the same quality of Amelia’s craftsmanship. He thought back to her with regret.
He shook from his thoughts as she continued.
“Gideon, I do say I hit the for-tune of the Lord almighty himself in this fateful meeting.”
She gently clasped at her face with her extra long finger and thumb and removed the Venetian mask.
Deep vermillion pixelated light shown as the mask vanished into nothing. Gideon’s stone face cracked at seeing that.
“You’re not the only one with Q-S-D, honey,” She commented, over-pronouncing the acronym as the last vermillion pixel vanished.
And then Gideon saw her face. He blinked as he felt completely disconnected from the situation. He was drawn to the inexplicable transcendent beauty that he beheld. His family was seen as the pinnacle of physical beauty would have been sallow in comparison. She had a longer diamond shaped face with a thin neck garbed in a black lacy collar. Her large almond-shaped eyes practically glowed with an amber aura. Her amber hair was done up in a simple bun. His expectations were flipped at seeing what was an anform actually be the most beautiful being he had witnessed up to this point, with Deborah being a close second only due to her face cover.
“Jesus Christ.” Shindow flatly swore.
She moved in with inches, gently feeling his armor. The built-in sensory made him shiver as he felt the metal fingers.
“Sweety, did ancient humans always use so many titles?” She asked snidely.
“It’s rude to not introduce yourself in a diplomatic meeting,” Gideon quickly shot back, recovering from the beauty shock.
“As it is,” She relented.
“I am Madam Marie “Monday” Lewis, my dear. Pilot and head engineer of the Skylon. My metiers are god tier shipwright, master engineer, master tech, master cybernetics engineer, master tradesman, master arms engineer, master QSD coder and engineer, master techlord, intermediate anform engineer, intermediate translator, intermediate marksman, intermediate astrapomancer, intermediate enchanter, and a novice seamstress.”
“What the hell-” Gideon began and snapped his tongue before making a worse faux pa.
“Metier? You don’t know what that is yet, do you honey? I do say I got you right out of your trip.”
She cocked her head with a wry smile at Gideon.
“You’re not wrong. We just escaped Karmmrak,” Gideon replied. He felt she took great pleasure flustering him.
“Then Adonai has guided you to us. Feels you’re a bit out of your comfort here in the wilds of deep space, outside of known space.” She replied as she turned to the others. She casually meandered to Steak, eying him over. Steak stood stock still, his red eye flashing.
“Oh my. Is that an Excertius?”
“A Mark G.”
“A Mark G?”
Gideon and Monday concluded together. She pointed to Gideon with a cocked eyebrow at that.
She turned back to the military anform.
“Oh my, these are nonstandard upgrades to their power armor. Who is your anform tech?”
“We have another Excertius named Patricia. This is Steak,” Gideon introduced.
He decided to keep Prosine a secret for now. Best use his identity as a wild card.
“And diverged, even! What a scandal,” She replied with a squinting grin.
“That was my fault!” Baxter butted in with a bark.
She snapped her attention to the small dog, She eyed him over, nodding thoughtfully at the ornate QSD pack.
“And ‘aint this the most precious cutie I ever did see!” She replied as she knelt down, holding out her hand.
Baxter tentatively sniffed the air near her as he began to scoot forward.
“Who are you nice lady? I am Baxter I love you.” He began with a chuff.
“Well melt my heart, an actual genetically modified dog. A pembroke corgi no less!”
Baxter scoot within arm’s length. She pet at the back of his head, feeling the soft fur. Baxter sported a dumb doggy grin at the attention.
“Well, looks like Baxter is the diplomatic kill-shot,” Shindow commented wryly.
Monday’s smile broke, squinting to a cold look. Her demeanor flipped from warm to tepid within an instant.
Her right arm held onto his scruff as her left hand changed, her fingers and palm folded back, revealing an energy cannon that glowed and squealed with a lethal charge. Baxter’s nose twitched with vacant self-awareness of the situation.
“Why do you have a demon-possessed pup?” She asked with a bark.
Faster than process, Deborah was suddenly off to Monday’s side, a pulse cannon planted at her temple.
“You will not harm him,” She stated firmly, her hood down and her glory glowing like the sun.
Monday paused at that, her brows knitted at the situation and revelation of what Deborah was.
The strange animal beings all roared in anger at that, arms pointed and ready to fire. Steak instantly reacted, engaging the new targets. Baxter continued wagging his rump, unaware of what was going on.
“Gideon!” Shindow shouted.
“Whoa whoah stop! Jesus Christ whoa! Stand down! God dammit stand down!” Gideon roared, pistol drawn and lowered as he put himself in between the angry hoard and their leader, trying to defuse the nearly fatal standoff.
Everyone paused, with the grumbling of the strange beings and the squealing of Monday’s literal hand cannon as background noise to the Skylon’s quietness.
“Let’s put down the guns and talk it out. Baxter is not demon possessed-”
“Sweety, I sense a demonic presence,” Monday countered.
“We fought a demon on Karmmrak. Baxter beat it and made it sign a contract. Baxter Possessed the demon! And it’s not a demon! I made it sign a covenant with Adonai, changing it to a Eudaemon! If we have demons, why is an angel aboard?” Gideon began logically and calmly.
Monday’s thought process sped at light speed as her charged shot died down and her fingers clicked closed into a fist. She rose, leaving the oblivious dog to himself.
“I misjudged you, my dear,” Monday began as she clasped her hands, turning back to Gideon. The strange beast beings began to cool, lowering their weapons. Steak followed suit as did Deborah, who hefted her pulse cannon over her shoulder.
“Don’t talk too loud. Saddiffer is sleeping!” Baxter warned with a whiny chuff.
“The demon’s name is… Saddiffer?” Monday began with a bark of a laugh.
“Believe me, the demon didn’t choose that name,” Gideon replied with a shake of his head.
“That was my fault too!” Baxter barked.
“Well Lord’s holy name, an angel!” Monday exclaimed as she rose and turned, inspecting Deborah.
Deborah dipped with a slight bow at that.
“I am Deborah, Lesser Angel of Multitudes. I am Gideon’s guide and while not appreciative of the demon, I will protect his friends,” Deborah began.
“Mighty considerate of you, what’s an angel like you wearing robes of the Watchers, deary?”
“I was charged with protecting Karmmrak. I had… Met them briefly during my stay,” Deborah began, turning to a surprised Gideon.
She never said anything about that… But I never asked. Trying to stay alive and all. Gideon concluded.
“I won’t pry anymore, deary. They are the most disquieting bunch- apart from demons of course.”
“By the way did you say he- that Saddiffer, is a Eudaemon?” Monday asked, turning to address Gideon.
Ah. Well, that’s now out in the open.
Orange pixelated light appeared, announcing Shindow’s arrival.
“The cruiser has arrived,” Gideon concluded humorously.
“Please, Monday, he is telling the truth!” Shindow replied, floating a few feet away from a suddenly smiling Monday.
“I have recordings of everything, if you wish to see the evidence-”
“No need, my tiny deary. I believe you.”
“Just like that?” Shindow asked, putting her hand to her mouth.
“Y’all are honest folk; it’s easy to tell.”
Monday moved to Gideon, gesturing with an outstretched finger to Shindow. The AI grinned as she landed upon the finger and sat, admiring the tech that held her aloft.
“An AI… My, my you sure do handle a bundle of rare tech deary!” Monday began, addressing Gideon.
“Rare tech? This should all be common. What happened?” Gideon began, gesturing to the hangar and crew.
“A great end,” Monday began, her tone pained at relaying the dire news.
“Wait a minute,” Gideon began, glancing to Deborah and Monday, “what do you mean a great end?”
“Oh, the end of heaven, deary,” Monday replied cryptically.
Gideon remembered God was absent on some grand journey. But this…
She delivered the news as one would relay the death of a child.
“What the hell type of Armageddon did I miss?” Gideon replied, eyes growing wide with shocked realization.
“Oh honey, it wasn’t one,” Monday began. She shook her head at that and continued, “You missed two.”
Gideon’s stomach dropped upon hearing that. He missed what she said as he shook out of the shock.
“…There ain’t a whole lot of us left,” Monday stated, the sadness on her face told it all.
Shindow’s eyes grew wide with shocked disbelief. Deborah avoided Gideon’s gaze, staring away.
Gideon’s gaze lowered as his eyes twitched left to right, trying to process the news.
The revelation that Heaven was gone.
Here is an illustration I received. This will encourage me to re-write chapter two of the Book of Gideon to make it more enjoyable.
A big thanks to Michael Lynch for the art.