RAYGUN GOTHIC : Parts 1 to 5
Raygun Gothic is science-fantasy tale of the far future and the distant past that plots the course of humanity through the soul of one man who cannot die. Written and Illustrated by award-winning graphic novelist GMB Chomichuk
RAYGUN GOTHIC GMB.Chomichuk presents Time was strange for me. I looked at the stone and listened to the birdâ€™s call and breathed deeply under my mask to take in the heavy air of the seaside morning. It could have been five thousand years before. There might have been a ship made of timber and pulled by rope-harnessed wind just about to crest the horizon. The pace of the world does not change, only the things in it become different. 1. Very different indeed. The vessel that did arrive harnessed the atom rather than the wind. Its crew sailed very different seas. Yet a warship was a warship in any era. The arrival of The Cassius bespoke of a world I had long since stepped out of. One may leave the dance floor. The music will play on. Humanity itself existed like a proxy state in the celestial conflict of two great stellar nations. Humanity was the shore, while the land and the sea made war as a tide. The Regent had experience to prop confidence on her shoulders and the weight of ambition to hold it there. Her uniform told me one story. Her scars told me another. The great golems on each side of her told me how much I was no longer in favor of the Parliament. I warned her. She insisted. Favor is like the weather. Sometimes a storm is welcome, sometimes it is not. I still bore my crown. It lingered there above me and reminded her that regardless of her authority in the territories, I was still a King. She reminded me of a Kingâ€™s responsibilities. She dared remind me of my Oath. My daughter was quite like me in that regard. I was proud of her for that. RAYGUN GOTHIC GMB.Chomichuk presents 2. Ships of the Ninth Fleet closed on the city of Illium and found that she was ready. The flotilla moved like tiny schools of fish around a bloated mother. Inside the orbital city I was to rescue a woman the Parliment considered paramount to their war effort. She had come in peace to offer an alliance. Illium had already swtiched sides. I assured them I was not the man for it. The Parliment had insisted. My daugther had insisted. Long ago I weighed the meanings and the reasons and the righteousness of conflict. In a short life such things matter greatly. In a short life such things are paramount to crafting a impetus for oneâ€™s actions and a reason to take the risk. In a long life it is much different. Now I care little for the politics of knives and instead follow a single simple value. My Oath. Arimestes was with me. The Automatic has been a dear friend through the ages. Arimestes understands how it feels to stand outside of human time. Like me, he will not age. He may wear down, he may be killed, but he will not die. “The 9th is waiting for the command,” Arimestes said. “Send them,” I said. The hoplites were well-suited to this, they had trained since nine-years-old to move about without gravity. They are anxious to engage in battle. Their paradigm had been one of servittude, honor and grace. Careful social development crafted a group willing to care passionately for a cause but not feel grief at the loss of a comrade. Humans are social animals and as such, easy to manipulate. There was a time that people believed robots would make the best soldiers. History has proven that to be incorrect. Robots are expensive to produce and repair, robots find it difficult to adapt beyond their enviroment. Intelligent machines can easily calculate the waste of conflict. People, by contrast, are cheap to produce and easy to program. Social engineering and population managment can establish a nearly limitless weath of warriors with almost no oversight required. Arimestes is an Automatic: a robot with self-awareness. His intellect and unlimited knowledge, as well as his immortality and perspective, made him worth a million men and women on the battlefield. My hoplites swam across void. The Gravity Well of Illium pulling them slowly toward an arbitrary “down”. Within my sensorium I could hear the warriors laughing. To be joined by their King. A young man, Fellion by name, exploded and dissipated in a flash of superheated plasma. The hoplites cheered. Only one thing gave them more pleasure then dropping through a gravity field into battle. I entered the fray astride my warwing. A genetically engineered beast of my own design, its ferrous skeleton rode a magnetic current as sure as any creature ever took to the air. The Drones came. Nothing about me made sense to their remote pilots. Nothing about me fit their paradigm of conventional war. I sliced through their ballistic-ceramic shells and swatted aside their raybeams. I pressed deeper into the gravity field and took ancient war and magic with me. Somewhere in the Illium Cortex a cadre of drone pilots roll and flail biofeedback through their sensoriums ripping their nervous systems to shreds. Their commanders scream at the technicians at how impossible this is, how the purpose of the drone is to save lives. I am impossible. To face me in combat is to risk death. The warwing boiled inside then erupted in a splash of fire that blossomed and swelled in the low gravity. Below me on the surface of Illium the fighting was thick and mechanized. My landed hoplites where overmatched and overexposed to the heat-rays and microwaves of the Illium remote defenders. Crashed starcraft goudged the surface and pockets of the invaders fought to gain entry below the industrial strata of Illiumâ€™s surface. The defenders resisted with verve and the hoplites died a hundred at a time. A terrible waste of warriors and ships, if one saw time only in the moment. Perspective told me otherwise. The hoplites were the feint. I was the weapon that would win this war. I was not here to lead their charge, they were my delivery system. Thousands of years of experimentation and improvisation and innovation have not yeilded the peaceful resolution of conflict that the philosophers had prediced. The human drive to feel exhileration and the social status that conflict gave had never been rooted out. Perhaps that is why the citystates of Sol were so easily drawn into this conflict. War is natural to us. As social animals we allow rank and status to direct us easily. We allow conformity to shape our drives. We value those with self-actualization but do not seek it in ourselves if we find a cause to follow. Illium is a drone state. Long ago they gave up the weakness of flesh and its terrestrial bonds and build a stratafied society protected from outside. The Illium Wall it is called. A robotic skin on their interaction with other city-states. None have seen a citizen of Illium on centuries. A hemetically sealed society. Illium technology cannot protect them from me. Arimnestes proposes a theory that my biogenic field interacts psionically with any whose attention is directed at me. His theory is that my altered aura has a autonomic defensive system that telepathically locates and attacks those who seek to harm me. To me Arimnestesâ€™ theory is no more correct or likely as the original charm told to me by the Crossroad Witches of Dunsinane. Magic. Those that would do you harm must risk the same. The shattered fragments of machine proxies seemingly without end are meant to break the hope of a human attacker. The illusion is that these defenders are tireless, that there is no way to harm those you seek. The Illium Wall has a weakness. The Remote Pilots are human. I began to see their patterns. I began to see their training. I could see in the tapestry of their violence the entire shape of their philosophy. I could read in that philosophy the form of their paradigm behind their Wall. They were accustomed to superiority. My attacks were reaching beyond their defenses for the first time. They had casualties, actually soldiers Killed In Action. Men and women would be screaming in pain and agony then falling from their sensoriums never to move agian. I could feel hesitation in the entire force. I needed chaos more than death. I shifted my assault. I split limbs and joints, I pierced bodies but left them wounded. There beyond the Wall I imagined the people writhing in new agony. I imagine the horror of sudden pain, of bones splitting and blood pulsing across consoles. The horror of war suddenly thrust into the sterile womb of remote technology. The ripple effect was immediate. I could see another weakness in the Wall. Each operator was clearly a puppeteer with hold of hundreds of strings. The remote operators were a fraction of the population of the drones. RAYGUN GOTHIC GMB.Chomichuk presents 3. I was over the brink and descending. A free fall through the rays and calls of two opposing armies down the cityshaft into the living levels of Illium. Suddenly my hoplites surged forward closing in on flanks and breaking cover to bring the fight in close. I rode the momentum as openings in the remote defenders opened like gates in the Wall. Once more unto the breach. I was prepared for the battalion of proxy men and women that awaited me in the promenades of Illium. I was ready to meet them with steel and blood and magic. “Peace,” said a robotic figure that marched forward through the mist of a hundred coolant systems. At once I could tell he was not a proxy. Not a robot puppet. He was a man. A cyborg chassis with a human brain. Perhaps more of a man than I am. “Peace,” he said again. “You are Sir Walter the Grim. The Anomaly Man of Tsar. I am Adrestus, a Champion of Illium. I come not for threats or violence. I come to you with flesh inside to offer terms. You come to rescue a women for the Parliament.“ “She is not our captive Sir Walter, we are hers.” He told me the women had come under the flag of peace, deceived his masters and taken hostage the population of Illium. The pace of the world does not change, only the things in it become different. I cared nothing for such politics. My Oath drove me onward. “Stop fighting and I will take her away,” I said. “If we stop fighting we die,” Adrestus said. “Lady Astrel and her lover have the flesh of Illium in their control.” “Only a few of us with flesh inside are able to rebel. Yet we have nothing to tip the balance in our favor.” “You do,” I said. RAYGUN GOTHIC GMB.Chomichuk presents 3. Here, in this time, the Impossible rule all. They take what they want. These two had come on behalf of the Parliament and instead of peace talks they took the impregnable Illium by force. I saw how they had done as the renegades of Illium broke themselves against her. She was a rarity among the Impossible, so effortlessly human. I suspected a cyborg chassis of incredible sophistication. There was so much power in that slim body. I wondered if she had designed her own body. I wondered what miniaturized horrors of violence were hidden under her rubberized skin. The drones were overmatched in their rebellion. Their pilots knew it too. Somewhere in a hidden bunker they marshaled what remotes they could. She spun about and their rays sliced one another as if she could orchestrate the whole group dynamic with her very presence. With the grace was also titanic power. The Lady Astrel struck the bodies apart like a dreadnaught in the body of a dancer. As the numbers of Illium rebels fell there were no more secret bodies to replace them with. Their hope was to contain the her until my arrival with the Illium Champion. I was surprised to see Astrel so easily struck down. Her consort moved instantly to her aide. I believe he sensed I was watching. Astrel fell and remained down, breathing hard. She had a limit after all. Though he was clad in heavy armor I recognized Astrelâ€™s consort at once by his movements. The Baron Proxius. I had fought along with him at the Dorado Incursion. He was a dangerous man, but also a romantic. Proxius paused on principle too often. Another Champion of Illium took the field. Adrestus was gone. The Illium Champion Ajax exposed his brain case to prove he was flesh. Proxius stated his intention to claim all of Illium for his consort. In such declaration was the Law of Contest. These two alone would take the field with their weapons and drones. None would interfere. I watched. Proxius used shield and lance with great effect. He was sure and quick. Ajax flew the flank and closed quickly, letting his drones tangle Proxiusâ€™s defences. In my own sensorium I saw Ajax bring power up suddenly to a raybeam armature. Proxius saw it too. A massive charge, enough to carve through any single shield. Proxius pulled his shields in tightly to overlap each other and drove his lances hard to catch Ajax while the power was drawn from the giantâ€™s electric armor plates. There was no charge. The raybeam arm, wasnâ€™t one. It was designed to seem to be a dangerous weapon, to trick a sensorium. Proxius saw the ruse too late. The power flooded back to Ajaxâ€™s armatures and the molecular blades as the bulk of the huge cyborg slammed and splintered Proxiusâ€™ shields with mass rather than energy. A single thrust through the body cavity and it was over. Ajax was a direct and terrible foe. I admired him at once. In every contest there is a victor. In every conflict a Champion. In every time a point to take advantage.... ...or make an advantage. Whatever else I might have accomplished there, I could also conquer Illium if I rid it of itâ€™s Champions. Ajax knew at once. To know and understand takes an instant. In that time I was beneath his guard. One blade or a thousand, every swordsman knows they have a measure. I had taken the measure of Ajax and with it the ability to prevail. He had evolved to overcome the science of war. What I did was art. I could see the pulse of his nervous system, I could see the pulse of his power relays. A moment faster than he and I struck his limbs from him one at a time before he could shift energy to such point defence. Ajax staggered and drifted in a loss of power and a sudden drop in hydraulic pressure. I was up through his armature in an instant. The tip of my sword sung its way into his brain, quivering as it sheared through his electric armor. I wasted no time on tradition or circumstance. Proxius had a lesson there. I leapt straight at The Lady Astrel, carried forward by the momentum of victory. I would sweep away her limbs as well. I would capture her for the Parliament and its politics and capture Illium for myself. I had begun to believe I was unique. I had begun to see myself the way others did. I had begun to believe my own myth. Sir Water the Grim. The Immortal King. The Forever Man. The Peerless Warrior. It was too late that I realized she was not a product of human augmentation. She was not an enhancile, science has given her nothing that might match me blow for blow . Her hands danced through my assault with careful and calm precision. She was holding back just as she had done when the ray had struck her. That had been for my benefit. In that one â€œfailureâ€? she had set the Ajax against The Baron, and myself against Ajax. She moved people in her landscape as easily as she moved aside my blade. She had secret knowledge. I was a product of that secret thing but I had never been its master. Magic. RAYGUN GOTHIC GMB.Chomichuk presents Sunrunner: This is Advanced Reconnaissance Vessel Sunrunner to Mission Central. Mission Central: We read you Sunrunner. What is your status? 4. Sunrunner: I have dropped from trans-solar speed and followed the mission vector. As we suspected it was the an incursion of a foreign object into the planetary threshold that triggered our sensorium. The radiation readings and potential energy projections are near the edges of my scales. Object is now in visual range but it isnâ€™t an asteroid or a comet Mission Central. Mission Central: What do you see Sunrunner? Sunrunner: Well, sir it’s small, under twenty lengths, small enough to grapple, with no debris trail or frozen water trail. It reads hot sir and the motion calibration is shows tiny tremors. I’m sending through the data now Mission Central. Mission Central: Affirmative Sunrunner. Please adjust to a parallel vector and wait for instructions. Sunrunner: Sunrunner confirms, adjust and hold. Mission Central: Okay Sunrunner deliver this missive to your grapple and retrieval system. We’re going to run some tests on the exterior of the object then have you tow it to Gillroy Garrison in ninth sector. We want it out of the path of the next passenger liner due your way in a few days.. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, moving to intercept and retrieve. Sunrunner: Roger that Central, RAYGUN GOTHIC GMB.Chomichuk presents 5. I was visited by a warlock when I was still a boy. He told me that if I grew up to be a good man, I would be visited by three witches. The warlock told me that the Witches of Dunsinain would use their magic to make me a Champion. The warlock told me that the Witches of Dunsinain would make me a king. Everything he told me came true. Everything has a cost. I was to rid my world of unearthly evil. To be powerful, the magic had to be simple: Those that would do you harm must risk the same. I was a mirror held up to my own death. As with all weapons I had been crafted in opposition to another. The Dragon had been sent to rule us. The armies of humankind were simple amusments to the Dragon. The first of the worms I contested could smell the power in me. It offered to make me its Errant. â€œLeave this world in peace, or stay as my enemy.â€? I said. Rage at my insolance drove its true power outward. I felt as if a well filled within me. I was the Champion of humankind. I was Impossible. The more poserful my enemy the more able I became. I hewed the monsterâ€™s limb from itâ€™s body. A current boiled inside me. I was a stormcloud, each motion was wind and thunder and lightning. The Dragon spit his magic words at me. That is all they were to me : words. What are words to a king? The game we played had the world as itâ€™s prize. I was a weapon. I was a deterrent.