Excerpt from Aphelion – Ace of the Universe
They lined them up like metal poles in the dirt. Holes already dug for their bodies – the ones who wouldn’t survive the turning. They called them soldiers, cut from the same skin, built from the same bone, and injected with the blood of those that survived the detonations. Hard skeletal armour, like Earth’s un-killable pest, designed to withstand the flames of the planets, bound to their bodies never to be unseen. One by one they stood steady breathing the stale air of the cargo boxes as the gas filled the stations, and the fires burnt out the lines.
Minutes passed, the heat grew stronger, burning through the plastic around the boxes that kept them contained. One fell down, his body slumping, unable to hold his weight up as the toxins moved through his body, and burned through his cells.
Churon listened to the sound of metal falling into a heap, the crack of bones, and the heavy breathing inside his own suit. The small glass hole, dirtied by smoke gave him access only to those who weren’t already being dragged away by the rogues who stood taller than two of them put together, and walked like giant blades cutting through a farmer’s field.
The serum had set in. He could feel it coursing through his body, crawling colder than the water in the underworld. A chill like none he had ever endured before crippled his bones inside the tight armour, and spasms rolled up and down the line of his muscles biting into them, tearing them apart as the deadly concoction went about morphing, and shifting his form.
“Those of you who survive the induction will make it to the ship,” the Captain’s voice resounded in his head, as the thrum of energy and pain collided, and split his veins apart.
Pushing, pulsating, and worming, the serum flowed through each strand of sinew. It ceased the cold, slithering as it began to warm up, filling his flesh out, bulking it up, and expanding it to take on more of the species power.
Stretching his fingers he felt the skin peeling over his bones. It took all of the residue adrenaline circling his heart to focus his attention on the agony as his toes joined the process, and began to merge with the metal as it dug into his flesh and drew back the skin. Still, he was standing. He closed his eyes, not wanting to see the next body being dragged away in defeat. Rising, the pain dulled as his body relaxed and the sensation of throbbing lulled his body into security. Opening his eyes he saw the orange light through the opening of the cargo boxes.
The heavy boom was the first of the bombs to go off in the village. Ashes circled the orange light only for a moment, before he felt his foot moving on its own, stepping towards it. When the next followed, he felt unsteady away from the hole he had been standing in, the birthing chamber as one of the men had called it before the transition. Taking his first steps, his feet wide apart, he felt the rocks beneath his feet, and looked down for a moment to see the carnage beneath him.
“When the last of you remain standing you will become one of the Selinaians”
By the time the second bomb had gone off the front of his glasses were covered in soot. In the distance he heard the violent, body shaking screams of the people, before a hand wrapped around the base of his elbow, and pulled him away from the light.
Aphelion – Ace of the Universe – Coming in Summer 2018