Well, everyone, we did it! My Facebook page was able to make the 25 like goal before the end of Friday! Awesome! So, as promised, I am releasing a chapter from the first book in the Nicerian Chronicles series “Katsukami!” I hope you all enjoy it! This chapter follows one of the protagonists of the story, Steen, as he comes face to face with Katsukami. For some reason, the psychotic superhuman Katsukami has requested a meeting with one man from the elite Royal Guard of Vastar in order to discuss a way to “save the galaxy.” Enjoy!
Langrin, third moon of Vastar, was not necessarily a place that most people wanted to live. Visiting, however, was a different story. Children and adults alike would come to Langrin for vacation, to get away from life, or just for fun and relaxation. The attractions of Langrin were famous throughout the entire galaxy. In one short moment, however, their reputation changed. An estimated 18% of the population of Langrin, including tourists, was slaughtered for no reason. This was enough to drive even the most devout customers away. No one wanted to be there – except Steen.
Ironic, Steen thought.
The evening before he was scheduled to head into the site of the last massacre, Steen stayed in a small town on the other side of the moon. To his surprise, many of the people did not even know much about the recent tragedy. There was no hiding in fear, no worrying about a possible strike. In fact, there were more people who had not even heard about the travesty than those that had.
It is amazing how little people care about the world around them, Steen thought sadly. So many people caught up in their own little worlds, completely oblivious to the events going on around them.
The major had told him it would be best to accomplish the mission at night, so Steen decided to leave for the meeting site early in the day – when the sun was nearing its highest. He timed it so that, when he arrived on the other side, he would still have several hours of darkness. By air transport, Steen could make it to the other side of the planet in two standard hours.
When Steen woke up early the day of the meeting, he began his preparations. All during that time, he could not stop kicking himself for the way he stood up to the major. He knew he was lucky that the king came in when he did; but that did not take away the displeasure he knew the major felt toward him.
I know I would not be pleased if one of my subordinates questioned me so blatantly in front of the king, he thought. Oh well. Nothing I can do about it now save to make the best of the situation.
After a couple of hours preparing mentally for what he was about to do, he called the major. “Sir, Lieutenant Steen reports as ordered,” Steen said once Starg answered his transmission.
“Are you set to go, Steen?” the major asked.
“Yes, sir,” he answered, pouring as much confidence into his voice as he could muster.
“Good. Now, don’t do anything stupid. If the situation changes for the worst, at the very least, do your best to escape with your life. Understand?”
“Yes, sir,” Steen answered.
“Report to me as soon as the mission is accomplished.”
“I will, sir,” Steen said, then ended the call.
Major Starg seemed to be in a better mood, Steen observed. It’s good to see that he’s come around. I really didn’t like the idea of being alone in this.
Steen looked at the time and stood to his feet. Time to go.
As soon as the transmission with Steen had ended, Major Starg turned to Captain Griffon. “Activate imaging.”
Griffon pressed a few buttons on his computer. An image of the meeting site came up on the display. “Images are now online.”
Starg nodded. “Good. You are sure these recorders can’t be seen.”
Griffon nodded. “Yes, sir. They are too small to be seen with the naked eye and can be completely controlled from here. You just tell me a place, and I’ll give you any view you want.”
“Very good. Let me know the second Steen’s ship arrives in the area,” Starg commanded.
“Absolutely. If you don’t mind me asking, though, why? What are we watching for?”
The major smiled. “There is no way I’m going to let an opportunity to kill that bastard slip out of my hands. I have men waiting just miles from the city. I will be ordering them to converge on the meeting point as soon as Steen arrives.”
The captain frowned. “Are you saying that you are still sticking with your original plan? You’re using Steen as bait.”
“Yes,” Starg confirmed. “Steen will go in thinking he’s completely alone. Who knows? Maybe he’ll get some information before my men pump that Katsukami full of metal.”
“With all due respect,” Griffon began, “this is not a good idea.”
Starg looked Griffon in the eye. “Your opinion has been noted.”
As the major turned to leave, Griffon stood and followed. “Sir, you are going against the king’s orders. You should call your men off completely.”
Starg turned around. “Captain, if this works, the galaxy will be rid of that demon and you will have helped to accomplish that task. I’m sure you may be looking at a promotion.”
Griffon could not mask the look of disgust on his face. “Bribery does not become you, sir. As for the promotion, I will be more than happy to take your job when I inform the king of your disobedience.”
As Griffon turned to leave, the major pulled out a small stun baton and buried it into Griffon’s back. The captain let out a small yelp and then fell to the ground – out cold.
“I’m sorry, Griffon, I can’t let you do that. You don’t understand my position. That beast killed my wife and child. For that, he will pay.”
The general sat down at Griffon’s desk and looked over the controls. “Now, how do you work this thing?”
“This is Steen of the Royal Guard. I am requesting access into the Restricted Zone by order of the king. Pass code is 77-bravo-68-golf-0-niner. Over,” Steen said as he flew his transport ever closer to the city. Due to the severity of the situation, the entire area around the city had been put under restriction. Electrical fences had been erected and an all day – all night guard had been put in place. As far as Steen knew, everything had been left exactly the way it was when it was found.
“Permission granted, Lieutenant Steen. Advise you proceed with caution.”
“Will do,” Steen said back. “Over and out.”
After a few passes above the city, Steen set the craft down in the center of town. Leaving the ship on standby, he exited the craft and stepped out into the night. All the city lights had been turned off and it was quite a bit darker than he had imagined it would be. Good thing I brought a light. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a small flashlight, and turned it on.
What he saw nearly dropped him to his knees.
The sight was horrific to say the very least. Bodies, some intact – some in pieces, were strewn all over the ground for as far as Steen could see. Looks of terror covered the faces of the dead. He saw mothers holding their dead babies, husbands reaching for their wives. It was reminiscent of a horrid nightmare.
“Not exactly a pretty sight is it?” a voice said from behind him.
Steen quickly turned, hand on his sidearm. “Who’s there?” Steen saw a silhouette of a man standing not five meters in front of him. Due to the darkness, Steen could not make out his face, and he decided it was best not to shine his light at him either.
“That is really a stupid question seeing as you know exactly who I am. Why do people always ask so many questions of which they know the answers?” Katsukami said.
Steen took a deep breath. “You’re right. I do know who you are and no, this is not a ‘pretty sight’.”
Katsukami stepped closer so Steen was able to see with whom he was speaking. He was more than two meters tall, had long dark hair, and had a strength that was not so much shown physically but was like an aura of power that seeped out of his being. His eyes carried a crimson look that Steen had never seen before. A small, out of place smile lingered on his lips. “Imagine having to wake up every morning and see this knowing you are the one who did it. It kind of makes a man wish he were dead.”
Steen was slightly confused. “I’m assuming you are talking about yourself.”
Katsukami nodded. “Very perceptive of you. I don’t expect you to believe me but, yes, I am referring to myself.”
Steen gave him a sideways look. “So what you’re telling me is that you black out?”
The man chuckled. “To put it crudely, yes. I am assuming you want to know why I asked you to come.”
Steen nodded. “Very perceptive of you.”
“I want to die,” Katsukami said plainly. This, of course, took Steen of guard.
“It is the only way to save the galaxy,” Katsukami said matter-of-factly. “As long as I am alive, Kyosora is in grave danger.
“Why don’t you just…um…?” Steen was not sure if he should ask.
“Kill myself?” Steen nodded and Katsukami shrugged. “Do not think I have not tried. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to accomplish that one small task. Every time I’ve tried to commit suicide, I ‘black out’ as you say. If I was to ask you to kill me now, I would slip into a completely instinctive mode. Most likely, you would wind up dead.”
Steen shuddered. “I would really like us to avoid that if at all possible. I don’t exactly share your thoughts on the whole death thing.”
A smile crossed Katsukami’s face. “I would not expect you to share my suicidal sentiments. The reason I have requested your presence here is because I believe there may be a way to outsmart me.”
Steen thought for a moment. “You mean make it so that every possible situation that you find yourself in would end in death.”
Katsukami nodded. “Exactly. I want to tell you all of my abilities and thought processes. With all the information I give you, along with as much firepower this galaxy can muster, there is a chance you could bring me down. Even when I am no longer myself, I know that is my goal – to end it all.”
If this guy’s telling the truth, Steen thought, he could go off at any moment. Steen decided to try to gather some information. “Why the Kondors? What is your reason for killing Markus, his son and grandson?”
Katsukami paused for a moment and then nodded. “That almost requires a history lesson. Seeing as we have some time, though, I do not see the harm in telling you.”
Finally, Steen thought. This might be exactly what the galaxy needs to know. “Please, tell me. I’m sure this will add light to our situation.”
Katsukami opened his mouth to speak and then stopped as if something distracted him. He shook his head and began to laugh. His laughter grew and Steen’s confusion began to grow along with it. Katsukami bowed his head as he continued to chuckle to himself.
“What’s wrong?” Steen asked.
Sharply, Katsukami raised his head and looked into Steen’s eyes. Steen was surprised when he saw that, now, Katsukami’s eyes were completely black. The red color his eyes previously shown was no more. When he spoke, his voice carried a much darker, more eerie tone. “It appears you are not alone.” Then he was gone. He just vanished.
Not a few seconds later, Steen heard what sounded like screams of pain coming from all directions. Sounds of rifle fire sounded for a few seconds and then silence. What the heck is going on? Steen wondered.
Just as suddenly as he had vanished, Katsukami reappeared with his sword drawn, pointing it at Steen’s face. Steen was completely dumbfounded.
“Katsukami, what happened?” he asked, mustering all the calmness he could find within himself.
“As I said earlier, you were not alone,” the man said through clenched teeth.
Steen caught Katsukami’s past tense verbiage. That was when Steen noticed the blood dripping off the man’s sword. Steen closed his eyes and shook his head. Starg. “I swear to you,” Steen told the swordsman. “I knew nothing about treachery.”
Katsukami nodded. “I am fully aware of this fact, human. You are quite lucky that you still live. Tell me your name.”
Steen swallowed hard. “My name is Steen, soldier of the Royal Guard of Vastar.”
A sinister smile crossed Katsukami’s face. “We are still going to want to die, Steen, soldier of the Royal Guard of Vastar. We will meet again.” Katsukami sheathed his sword and Steen began to breathe again. “When we do, you had best kill us. Else wise, you will suffer the consequences.”
“I will,” Steen promised. Katsukami was gone before Steen finished speaking, leaving the Vasteen guard standing in the city square alone.
Steen closed his eyes, and tried to process what had just happened. What did he mean by ‘we’ and ‘us’? When he changed, it was almost as if he became a totally different person. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a small, metal cylinder, and ended the recording. Everything that had occurred was now on audio record. I must get this information to the king immediately.
Making sure not to step on any of the numerous dead bodies, Steen made his way back to his ship and on toward Vastar.
Major Starg stared at the monitor in utter disbelief. He had never even considered the possibility of failure. Under pretence of peace, the monster that had killed his family was set up for the same fate. It was a flawless plan. “How?” was all he could keep asking out loud. Now, he knew he stood to lose everything.
Twenty-one men he had sent in to kill Katsukami. Not one of them would come home ever again. It was too much of a burden to bear. “How did he…?”
The major turned around in his chair to see that Captain Griffon no longer lay where he had stunned him. He has probably already made it to the king’s chambers by now. It will only be a matter of time, he thought in dismay.
Starg reached down at his belt and pulled out his sidearm. In less than ten seconds, that thing made it to every one of my men’s positions, which were hundreds of meters apart. How? What are we dealing with? He smiled as he put the gun to the side of his head. No. I’m not dealing with this anymore.
Good luck, Vastar. Good luck, Kyosora. He pulled the trigger.