About Me

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Writer, soldier, thinker, and science fiction lover. I just can't seem to find a way to divide my adventurous self of constant outdoor activity and exercise from my nerdy self playing games and going to conventions. So why not just be both?

 I am a young professional living out of Tallahassee, Florida for the past five years. I have been on a deployment with the United States Army and continue to work outside of my other occupations to better myself mentally and physically. My passion for writing is driven by my passion for everything I find entertaining in life, and of course by my friends and family.

Monday, May 30, 2016

A New Kind of War (Forefathers)

Forty-three years earlier, 1945. 
"Wolf-6 approaching target bow." A voice in the dark spoke, a red light gave the only light inside the cramped submarine. The air stale, even in the dark, the sensation of steel walls within inches all around tightened the breath. Top side, the stars were blurred by a dissipating cloud. No light pierced the oil slick of the night. The breeze brought in a freezing cold sprinkle, only interrupted by the warm breath of two men standing near the hatch leading to the belly of the beast bellow. The stationary cylinder obstruction materialized through the inky darkness, foamy water crashed against its hollow hulls as their own beast came along side.
 Three Americans slid off the slippery sides of the submarine into a raft. Not in naval uniforms, American green field jackets took in the moisture, turning them darker. The wood and steel of Thompson sub-machineguns became painfully cold in the hands of two men who let out white puffs of breaths. The third sat at the front of the bow, no warm clouds rose from him. A slender hand gripped a 1911 pistol as the small craft drifted ever closer to the opposing vessel.
 The flapping was heard first over the foamy crashes of the waves. In the dark, the blood colored cloth was still visible with the dark stripes creating a 't' intersection with the ominous wink of the swastika in the center.
 The accumulation of efforts was taking place. A final cat and mouse game between the OSS and an elusive scientist under the German SS. Three submarines had been dispatched from parts of the crumbling Reich. The OSS knew from their efforts hence that two of the submarines carried vital materials and the third carried Dr. Voigh himself. With the war closing in, Dr. Voigh intended to continue his work under the Soviets. The Americans couldn't allow his work to slip into Soviet hands knowing if it did, they'd be in another World War within a decade and one they likely wouldn't win. But Dr. Voigh's research into them was so classified even many who oversaw the operation were left unaware of the actual contents of the submarines, instead being told that the submarines were carrying enriched uranium to hand over to the Soviets for their own atom bomb.
 All in all, it was plausible, the Germans were close enough to the bomb. Of the three submarines, one was destroyed several days earlier when the submarine refused to surrender. One was still missing, and no information on which submarine carried the materials, and which carried the professor could be indicated.
 The raft came up upon the submarine. Carden stood up from the bow and climbed onto the deck of the submarine, the first non-German on board. The two Americans with their machineguns. The only crew member who had come up was the Captain who held his chilled hands up in a limp attempt to surrender. Carden pointed the 45. caliber pistol at the captain. The cold air caused the captain to shiver despite his good composure and discipline.

"Where's the others?" Carden growled in German so low it was almost washed out by the lapping of the ocean.


"How many?"

"Three." Carden paused a moment as he stared at the captain's blank face under the grimy white tainted peaked cap.

"Watch him." Carden said motioning one soldier towards the captain with the muzzle of his pistol.

 Carden started down the into the belly of the submarine with only one soldier following behind him. Carden could see well in the dark, for many reasons, and in the chamber he now stood there was no light.   He could see he was in the crew quarters. To his right he could see the torpedo bays and the empty racks where torpedoes no long awaited prey. The next two chambers were open, the next room was dark, but not light-less. A red light show it was the radio and navigational room. The equipment had been thoroughly destroyed by the crew. The next chamber was the engine room that sat dark and silent.
 The last chamber, the aft torpedo room, had the glow of a bright yellow light. Three dark figures stood centered, creating a wall. Carden stepped past the bulkhead, stopping by the hatch leading in with his pistol up by his waist leveled on the center of the three. To Carden's right, the man wore a sleeveless shirt that was heavily coated in grease, clearly a man who knew little of the situation he had come into. The other two wore black uniforms, immaculate despite the harsh conditions of the submarine. Waffen SS officers. The three Germans stood blocking a cage which held several medical bottles filled with a dark blue liquid.
 Carden's simmering blue eyes were drawn down to the front SS officer's hands. A Colonel, his right hand gripped a Walther pistol that stayed down by his side. The other officer stood strong, his weapon still holstered, a Major. Carden looked back at the Colonel, the Colonel's face was half sunk from poor nutrition, but still tight and formidable.

"Where is the Doctor?" Carden asked in German. For a tense moment, no one responded.

"So this, is what the Captain looks like." The Colonel said glancing quickly over Carden's body. Their eyes locked.
 He knows who what I am. Carden thought. How intricate of knowledge does he have?

"Answer the question Colonel."

"Captain, knowing what I know, and surely what you know, I do not have that information. Do you see this ending well for whatever information I do have?"

"If you have information to hand over, you know the Americans will treat you better than the Russians."

"I didn't know your kind could have compassion, Captain. However, I believe you and I both know if the intent was for us to live, they would not have sent you."

 The Colonel raised his pistol. Carden fired two quick shots. The Major went for his pistol. A shattering burst cut him down before he could. The hulls of the submarine rang. Their ears throbbed. A smoke filled the air. The three Germans laid dead. Carden had forgot the other American had been with him during the conversation. He looked at the other American who still swept the room with the Thompson.

 "Stay here." Carden stepped past the bulkhead into the small chamber. No, not dead, the Colonel was still alive. Fetal on the ground, the Colonel gripped two death wounds in his belly. A deliciously slow way to go.  The Colonel sputtered air out, and looked up at Carden with icy eyes.

"A-are you, going to..."

"No." Carden shot the Colonel in the face.

 Less than a month later Carden was in the United States. The operation ended in failure, one submarine destroyed, one captured with all contents, and one missing, with Dr. Voigh missing. Carden stood in a semi-lit room, more dark than lit from the subdued yellow light. The night was dark once more, a snow flurry pounded at the window which he stood watching out at.

 A courtesy knock came from the door behind him, he turned as it opened and Colonel Pate entered. Carden set down the short glass of water on a table. Wearing his dress greens, he nodded to the Colonel with a short hello.

"Do you mind if I turn on more lights? Your eyes bother me."

"By all means, Sir." The Colonel was already beginning to switch on lights before Carden's words had left his mouth.

 "So tell me again Captain, the Colonel on the German submarine is dead?" Colonel Pate began pouring himself a drink from the wet bar off to the side.

 "That is correct, Sir."

 "And the captain of the vessel?"

 "He jumped overboard when he heard the shots. We never saw him in the waters again, Sir."

 "Well Captain," Colonel Pate came over to stand directly in front of Carden, "The United States owes you a great debt for what you captured."

 "We never captured Dr. Voigh, he's likely in Russian hands by now."

 "We doubt it. Our intelligence can't find anything on him since his departure. Likely sunk, either by the British, us, or by their own scuttling."

 "But we aren't sure?"

 "Damn near sure, and we would have noticed a shift in Russian efforts. But the materials you captured, you have thrown us greatly ahead of the Russians Captain, in a single move you put the Russians in checkmate."

 "I appreciate that Sir, but I believe I should continue to hunt Dr. Voigh and his work."

 "Of course, and you will, to ensure his work is either captured by us, or eliminated from falling into Russian control. But I take it you are wondering why you were called to Washington?"

 "I had taken it for trouble for not capturing the Doctor, but the boarding has been too accommodating for such reasons."

 "The President, Captain," he paused for emphasis which Carden had no liking for, "wishes to meet with you personally. He's busy due to obligations, but for the next two days you'll stay here, meet some future commanders of organizations you'll become familiar with."

 "I take if they all know of me."

 "To some degree." Carden disliked the sudden pause. "Captain, on the submarine, you didn't... you know..."

 "No." Carden snapped, cutting him off. "I did not."

 "I'm glad to hear you control yourself so well. There is a dinner party tonight, here in the hotel. Only ranking officers and certain permissive people will be present. You'll be there as well."

 "Yes, Sir, I do not have my pink and greens for such an occasion."

 "Then greens it will only be, I'll take care of that."

 Carden has spent the next several hours in the dark of the room. He emerged into a blaring bright hall some thirty minutes before he was expected to arrive. The hotel was completely under military control, under the guise of some function, the halls were desolate. He could hear the clatter of glass, drink and ice as he approached the dining room.
 He entered through the shut large redwood double doors. The noise picked up with the people right before him. The lights here were even brighter, and he knew for his benefit. He was the lowest ranking person in the room, and he was also surprised by the number of women present. There lingered an intoxicating mixture of pheromone aromas. He had picked them up earlier, but now they washed over him in heavy blasts. The mixture of sexual hormones, and endorphins, and the slight savory taste of fear caused him to smirk.
 He saw Colonel Pate making his was towards him. Carden's smirk dissipated. He wondered how Colonel Pate would use the previous events to advance his on career. Colonel Pate had been good in getting things done, but as with his involvement in the initial destabilization of the Reich, he was working an angle. Escorting him was a woman, shorter, with full dark locks of hair and soft pliable green eyes. She wore a very dark green, almost black velvet off shoulder dress accompanied by white gloves that stopped shy of her elbows and a thin string of pearls around her neck.

 "Captain, I was wondering when you'd arrive. I'd like to introduce you to my wife, Dominika." Carden shook hand lightly, once. His eyes were on her exposed shoulders, he could see the soft vibration of the life force that flowed through her.

 "I was unaware you were married Colonel."

 "I was married while you continued on operations. Dominika had been a vital asset to our operations around the German and Polish borders. Of course that changed as the Russians advanced up on the East. She was every bit as vital to the OSS as any other agent."

 "Captain may I ask," Dominika's voice stopped Carden from responding, which was fine as it was going to be generic, "I've never seen anyone with some of the ribbons you're wearing. Particularly this yellow and red one."

 "That's the Pacific Campaign ribbon, and the one next to it is Burma, Ma'am."

 "The Pacific? I was under the impression you only were in the West."

 "The Captain's unique abilities required him to travel the globe to defeat a united enemy. I'm sure you'll hear more of his exploits in the coming days."

 "Oh I am sure I will. Now tell me, is this the same Captain that spearheaded Operation Obelisk?" Carden peeled his eyes off Dominika and to Colonel Pate. That was a poor move on Colonel Pate, it meant that he couldn't keep his mouth shut during pillow talk with the his woman as she knew about a classified operation. Even worse, that was a jab into Pate's side, Operation Obelisk wasn't under his command, and was against it from the beginning. As the the success grew, he attempted to weasel his way in, to have that under his belt too. It had been, without Pate's knowledge, Carden who ensured that the results did not go to Pate. Uncharacteristic of Carden who didn't care for the social politics of those above him.

 "Well, yes, this is the Captain. If you don't mind I'm going to go top off my drink. Captain, Dominika will lead you to our seats." The Colonel went to the bar, and Carden followed Dominika using her exposed upper back as a target. The soft skin and fragile bones underneath an enticing guide.

 Carden pulled out Mrs. Pate's seat for her and sat next to her. Her position and the Colonel's to her right had name cards. His own position was bare. Here knee brushed his. That was innocent.

 "How long have you known my husband, Captain?" Carden had been trying to look at the crowd through the smoke, but it would have been rude to ignore a Colonel's wife given the unusual situation he was in.

 "Somewhere in the realm of six years now."

 "Oh, and was he always the way he was?"

 "I don't think I understand." Her hand slid onto his knee. Maybe it wasn't innocent.

 "A bastard." Carden locked eyes with her and he could see the mischievous intent.

 "I don't think this appropriate behavior of a Colonel's wife, Ma'am."

 "And is it appropriate for the Colonel to sleep with the enemy?"

 "I don't know what you're talking about."

 "Darling, there's no mystery to me that the good Colonel has been sleeping with German girls for awhile." Carden did not say anything in retort. There had been a rumor that he had been promiscuous with several French girls while in France, and several Italians before that.

Her hand moved up his thigh and found what she was looking for.

 "Doesn't seem you are against it."

 "Do you really think it's right to be groping a younger officer, here and now, Mrs. Pate?" He had hoped the inclusion of her last name would have added doubt to her. Her hand slid down his thigh.

 "I had thought about getting even for awhile. There have been several good looking young officers, some who had even had the tenacity to approach me first. But I suppose I couldn't find the courage." She stopped to down her scotch in a single gulp. Women didn't generally drink scotch that way, and the smell of liquor on her was the only unappealing thing on her.

"So you chose now, me, here with everyone, including your husband near by?" She sat her empty glass down.

 "No darling. I know that Operation Obelisk and my husband's contributions were swept aside because of you, and he knows it too." Carden looked up and tried to see where the Colonel was, he didn't see him, or sense him anywhere in near in the room. "And I find that to be so much more right to have my fun."

 "And you'll tell him this to destroy him? Assuming of course I go along with it."

 "Oh no, I expect to just enjoy my time, as my husband has. As for you, I know you'll go along with it." Her hand slid back up along his thigh and wrapped around him. "Your body has betrayed you."

 "I don't think you know me very well."

 "Oh I know you Captain." She could see he didn't believe she understood. "You're eyes are so, full of light."

 She knew. The Colonel came back, along with the other occupants of the table. Two lieutenant colonels, and a Navy captain which for the Army was a full bird Colonel.

 "Gentlemen this is the good Captain himself." Carden raised and shook the men's hands. "Now Captain, this is Captain Virant with the United States Navy." They took thier seats. "In the coming months you'll hear about the OSS being dissolved; however, the Captain will be an Admiral by then, and a new department will be taking the place of the OSS. They are still working on the title, but if you hear something like the Central Intelligence Department, that'll be it. The then Admiral will be appointing me his chief assistant over the new department which you'll conduct your future operations through." And that was the angle Carden had been waiting for. Pate had found his niche.

 "I look forward to the work gentlemen." Mrs. Pate had let go of him, but her heeled foot rubbed his ankle.

 "Captain, tell me are you familiar with a computer technology?" Captain Virant tried to speak in a hushed voice, but his massive chest made him bellow.

 "Limited, I know it's a relatively new technology." Dominika, no Mrs. Pate's hand was back at his inner thigh again.

 "Then it would be necessary I arrange for you to be caught on the future of computers." The waiters began to deliver the night's dinner. Mrs. Pate's hand left his thigh, thankfully before anyone noticed.

 Later in the evening, Carden headed for his room. He was worried Mrs. Pate would attempt to follow him. No one followed. He began taking off his jacket and laid it over top a chair. He was about to begin unbuttoning his shirt when a knock came at the door.
 Paranoia gripped him. He was unarmed, but that wasn't such a concern for a close end encounter. He approached the door silently. He jerked the door open, but only allowed it to go far enough to allow him to see who it was. It was Dominika.

 "Are you going to let me in?"

 "I don't believe that would be a good idea."

 "The longer I stand here, the better chance we get caught." She was right, he let her in.

 "It's not a good idea for your husband to catch you leaving another officer's room late at night."

 "Oh he's not here. He's out on a social call, so I assume another mistress." He locked the door behind her. She touched his chest. They locked eyes. A grin grew across her red lips. Unlike the hall or dining room, his room was dark. He knew she could see his eyes.

 "I don't have a way to prevent...."

 "Shush. It's not a concern."

 "But it is."

 "No, I'm barren." He lowered his head examining her. "I've tried before. Several times before."

 "And how much about me do you know?"

 "I know what you are, well, not what but the concept of it, and..." Her finger went between the buttons of his shirt. "I find it, so enthralling." The cocktail of scents going through the air from her was enough, she wasn't lying. He lifted her up, she giggled, and the night was on.



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A New Kind of War

A beam pierced through the cheap blinds. And that's exactly what Gregory Florian Joseph felt as the light hit his closed eye lids.The light was piercing, painful, a reminder he wasn't done. Gregory sat up. The thin mattress ruffled the plastic in a painful response to his weight. He had fallen asleep in his clothes. The white button up was wrinkled, and still moist under his armpits from perspiration. His khaki pants were as well wrinkled, like aged skin.
 Gregory sat up. He disliked the wrinkles in his pants, they reminded me too much of himself. His room was small, if you could call it a room. He lived what was so affectionately known in the military world as "Containerized Living Unit" which was really just a shipping container made to house a single person. They provided enough, more than Gregory actually needed, he only came here to sleep anyhow. Inside was air conditioned and heated, a single fluorescent bulb provided light, there was a desk with two outlets next to it, and bed which was atop a stand of three drawers. A lone footlocker sat by the bed which is where Gregory really kept his few possessions. A segment was sectioned off, and a single toilet and shower existed with a sink and mirror.
 Gregory moved to the sink, splashing water over his face he caught his reflection in the mirror. The left half of his face was smooth along the scalp, his face had some stubble which he could wait until later to shave. His nostril flared and strained to pull along its dead counterpart on the right side. The right side of his face was a bed of dried lakes, ancient and deep. The calloused tissue ran into a muddy like smear to a hole where a right ear should have been.
 He turned away. The thought of removing the mirror seemed pleasing, but impractical since he needed to shave his hair as to avoid appearing even more freakish.
 He went to the small desk. Papers lined with scatter plot graphs compiled next to his laptop. His laptop continued to work as he had left it. Attempting to breakdown multiple strands of DNA and amino acids. He should have two computers working on each separately, but this was done away from the lab. His real work would be done there. Speaking of, he needed to get back to his routine.
 He stepped out of his CLU into fringed air, locking his door behind him.
 He would spend the next 12 hours in his laboratory, where he would then return to his CLU and work more from his laptop for another 8 hours. He would then fall asleep, and repeat the process. He would have to eat today, yes have to, he forgot to yesterday and his stomach growled in protest. Work would subside the feeling, but he could not allow it to hinder work. If it wasn't for the nature of his work, he'd eat as he worked, but the risk of contamination was astronomical. He couldn't allow such hindrance, wouldn't allow it.
 The air bit at his cheeks, at his cheek. An exhale blew clouds out. More chilling than the weather was them. Walking erect, in single man patrols, husky masked men in winter camouflage secured the compound. But it wasn't their size, it wasn't all the gear, the masks, the thick goggles that concealed their eyes, or their big guns that made them chilling. It was what was inside.
 The patrolling guard stopped, turning his neck to watch as Gregory walked. Gregory lowered his head. He could feel the eyes on him, the eyes probing in, knowing that his own essence was showing. The predatory stare did not relent.
 The first flakes of snow began to fall.
 Gregory reached the door to the lab. Looking back the guard still stood in place, the snow building up around his uniform. The goggles made it impossible to tell where he was looking, but he was positive the guard stared right at him.
 Gregory fumbled for his ID in his pocket. He waved it over a panel next to the door, and was relieved to hear it click unlocked. He expected it to some how deny him, leaving him trapped in the stare of the lone guard. He sped inside, the door slammed shut with its weight behind him.
 The heat immediately pounded against him. A feeling of claustrophobia began to form. He stood at the intersection of a landing between two flights of stairs. The short flight down leads to a door which he did not have access to, which would lead to the weapons development department. Though, it could be argued his work was every bit a piece of weapon development as well. Well, no, it was, without a doubt.
 Gregory started the flight up the stairs. It was two flights to the landing with his door. Using his card once more, the door clicked unlocked for him.
 The hall was a long modular hall. Steel panels and grating allow for segments of the walls, floor, and ceiling to be expanded with new devices as needed. This wing of the facility being only three years old, required no new additions at the moment. The following main room took up the entire floor length of the building. Consoles line two separate walls. Empty desks and work stations line another, the desk set to monitor fragile petri dishes in self contained environments mounted into the wall. The far end wall had both his own workstation and monitoring console. Two tall lockers were in the nearby corner, and only a single lab coat, his hung in one of the lockers.
 The prize of the room however was the center. A large, square, transparent vat was the centerpiece. The vat was filled with a blue tinted gelatin, tubes ran from compressors and monitors into the vat to the central subject. A man in appearance, body completely void of hair, his pale skin never touched by real light. His body almost look malformed, the tubes leading into his mouth and veins supply nutrients but did not allow fat, and his body looked like the muscles under the skin were sucking in the flesh outside. The hairless body remained suspended, more by the mass of supportive tubes leading into every orifice of his body than by the blue gelatin.
 The man floating there represented many things. To the Soviets, and those past, a phantom. Someone only sought after from failed attempts of espionage. To the United States, the greatest leap in genetic research. A national interest and icon to perpetuate the image of American presence everywhere. To Gregory, a terror, pain, and a lost cause to someone who slipped away from everyone in another lifetime. There was contempt too, acceptance that bigger, greater advancements elsewhere would make everything he worked for obsolete in one simple broad sweep of the pen.
 Gregory moved the back of his left hand to his forehead. He hadn't even noticed he had done so until he felt the rubbery feeling of scar tissue. Repulsed he yanked his hand away from his forehead. It had been a nervous tick of his for years. He fought to overcome it, but it came back. His colleagues would mock him in college as he struggled with formulas, counting digits with his raised hand against his forehead in frustration. There was nothing to fear about his position. He told himself it all to focus his mind. His experience and education in biology was just as vital as his expertise in robotics and biological engineering. Even if this program was shut down tomorrow, which hopefully it would, he would just be moved downstairs to finish his efforts there.
 A click from behind him indicated the other researchers had arrived. Gregory put on his one lab coat as the others filed into the room. The servers whispered in the air with their hums of activation as men as diligent as he went to work to progress science.
 Lost in work, their day began to disappear. Their eyes on molecules, DNA, enzymes, whiteboards littered with equations, and computer screens attempting to map out code while men worked the beginning to find errors or anomalies. Lunch was lost, and slowly, the weaker minds allowed their stomachs to call their attention away, and slowly, one by one the other researchers left to take their late lunch. Gregory, left alone, at a computer screen, they knew better than to interrupt his thoughts, watched as the newest lines of genetic code were laid out across a dark screen.
 Gregory felt his fingers running across his palm as he found comfort in digits, the screen before his eyes fading as he saw things elsewhere in his mind. Each sequence coming closer the end state and unlocking the next great leap.
 He became aware of a click at the door, and then suddenly tossing his hand down realizing he had done it again. Looking up he expected to see the researchers coming in again, but instead a solid  bearded man stood examining the center vat.
  Gregory shot up, startled but realized suddenly the awkwardness of it. The piercing blue eyes of the man shifted over to him. Zane Lumbard stood half a foot taller than Gregory, the bushy beard and bulging muscles made him a visual opposite of Gregory. Zane was the commander for the newly organized special forces unit assigned to the installation. Because his soldiers were directly involved from the project, he also oversaw Gregory's work at times. When Gregory first heard about Lumbard, the hushed whispers told many fantastic stories, and of course called him Insane Lumbard. Be that for him actually being insane, or his name just sounding like insane, he could never really tell, both could be true, and probably were.
 "Dr. Florian, working alone again I see." Gregory only rubbed his nose in response, he was cut off before he could speak. "How long before your work can be integrated into the robotics department?" Gregory knew what he was asking. It has been a long term goal to develop a biomechanical machine to run. The idea was to create more maneuverable, flexible, and self healing machines.
 "Umm, it-it's still ugh, m-months away." Zane's eyes narrowed on him. "It-it hasn't been the f-focus! I-I c-can't even g-get the enzymes right in him!" He said pointing to the vat and growing frustrated with his own stutter coming out before Zane.
 "It's alright Doctor. I am sure under the right work conditions we can get you the time and equipment to finish your work. Imagine a state where your work would be cherished." Zane turned and began to walk away, continuing his monologue. "A state where soldiers are the essence of being. It all existed once Doctor." Zane was down the hall now. "And it will all exist again." There was the click of the door shutting, and he was gone.
 The next hours seemed to drag out. The researchers came back, went to work. Zane's words stayed with Gregory in every minute. Distracting and confusing. Zane has many, unusual, mannerisms, but random monologues had never occurred. He knew Zane had extensive combat experience, he wondered if long stretches of being stuck in the installation had taken a toll on what he could only guess was extensive PTSD from covert operations. Or maybe he really was insane, he didn't know, the US military may not be all it appears to be, maybe they take a certain level of insanity.
 The hours passed and he had not completed any real work. Any other day it would be unacceptable for him to consider leaving with so little accomplished, but as the others began to set their computers and severs into standby he felt exhausted. He had racked his brain over Zane's words to no avail. The more time he had sank into, the more ominous it became. As if he had met a rattlesnake for the first time, and didn't know what to think of the rattle, but something deep inside demanded extreme caution.
 There came a click at the door of someone entering, several people entering. Gregory was at the locker, he had just hung up his coat. He peered around the corner and saw three of the soldiers approaching. His blood ran cold. With no reason or indication why, he slinked back and stepped into the locker. The locker shut and he watched from the slits as his peers stopped at the sudden site before them, they came in. Gregory could not make out what the soldier said, some form of command, and one of the researchers declining to follow suit.
 Like a howitzer going off the room was filled with piercing noise and blinding white light as the soldier gunned down the researcher. The others quickly filed out, docile to their captures having seen the result of resistance. Two followed the researchers out, the shooter remained. Blood had splattered the wall.
 Gregory stayed, frozen inside of the tiny cubical watching the scene that couldn't happen, that absolutely couldn't happen, yet was. The lone shooter removed his mask from his face. The hairless head moved closer to the wall, as one would lean in for a tender kiss to a dearly beloved. Gregory watched as the shooter took a long, slow, dragging lick of the blood off the wall.
 Gregory let out a cold breath. The shooter's head snapped back, the cold blue piercing eyes on the locker.