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Silver Dragon emblem design by Alli Kappen

THE DARK SIDE Copyright Š 2017 William Schlichter All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher. This book is a work of fiction.The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Published by Indigo an imprint of BHC Press Library of Congress Control Number: 2016962855 ISBN-13: 978-1-946006-42-4 ISBN-10: 1-946006-42-4

Visit the publisher at: www.bhcpress.com


ALSO BY WILLIAM SCHLICHTER

No Room In Hell The Good, The Bad, and The Undead Book 1 400 Miles to Graceland Book 2

The Silver Dragon Chronicles Enter the Sandmen Book 1 The Fifth Planet Book 3


“Who entereth herein, a conqueror hath bin; Who slayeth the dragon, the shield he shall win.” —Edgar Allan Poe


AMYE AMYE DRAGS HER fingers through her hair, removing the short strands matted into her eyes. Dried vomit crumbles as she pulls the crusted bits from her cheek. Her spine crackles as she flips up from hanging halfway upside down off the edge of the bed. As she squirms the rest of her body onto the mattress, more chunks of dried stomach juice flake from her dark hair. Room air chills her exposed neck as she remembers having trimmed what had grown past her shoulders. Her thoughts blur. She spent most of the night drowning in strange green liquor. Before she’s able to search her memory, vertigo sends her slumping back into the sheets. Her swimming head strikes a hard lump. She fondles the blanket. Underneath the sheet she finds rough, bare skin. Blood throbs through her veins,


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reddening her sclera. She sits up, flipping over enough blanket to view the shirtless male underneath. She has no recollection of this man, nor his species. His tattooed arm is caked in dried blood where fresh ink showcases his latest kills. Amye jerks the sheet completely off him. She sighs with relief, realizing the merc’s pants are unbuttoned but still on. She crawls off the bed sleekly enough not to wake him. Her left leg cramps from the way she slept. Her bare feet entangle in the sleeves of her leather jacket. She yanks it off the floor and tosses it into a chair as she scoops up a bottle of wine. The swig of warm liquid leaves a bitter taste. She spits it up, dribbling over her naked chest and the ratty carpet. She tosses the bottle and limp-staggers shirtless into the bathroom. She fumbles for a switch. The flickering light slaps her bloodshot eyes. Closing her eyes helps her to steady the light-headedness swimming over her. Her brain ferments in strange alcohol even after hours of sleep…or at least she thinks it’s been hours. She digs her finger nail into the black paint covering the window. Sunlight penetrates the scratch, giving a clue to the time. All roach-trap motels are the same on every planet. Only the names of the bug species change. Her leg cramp subsides. Closing her eyes did little to cure the redness. They focus better in the light. The mirror displays her naked breasts covered in teeth marks. Amye turns on the water before running her hand down her panties. She grimaces as she inspects herself. She pulls her hand out. “Well, at least it wasn’t a successful mating.” She washes her hands before splashing her face with water. “Come on, girl.” Amye squints at her reflection, disappointed in herself. “You don’t ever go home with nonOsirians. What happened?” Ignoring the snoring mass seems prudent. She rubs water over the top of her breasts. She hasn’t felt rough sex tenderness since before joining the Silver Dragon crew, nor has she had teeth mark bruises. Amye cups her left breast. The mound overflows in her fingers as she raises it to inspect the trail of bite marks running to the crease where it joins with her pectoral muscle. From the purpling dermis he must have thought the bird-shaped birthmark hidden there was attractive.


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the dark side

She remembers—challenging the snoring alien to a drinking contest. She remembers—her captain being stolen by a Sandman. I’ve got…I want William back. If the Sandmen have hurt him—Amye struggles to yank the top half of her jumpsuit over her torso. She blames all the drinking on the tight fit of her uniform. She loses balance. Amye slumps against the dresser to keep from falling. The racket should have awakened the sleeping male, but he continues to snore. She lets her body drop to the floor. “Smerth’n hell.” She closes her eyes, soaking in a breath. She detests her memory returning. It sheds light on her choice to drink. According to the cat-creature advising the crew, Sandmen suck the brains from their victims. William may have escaped those monsters once, but they followed him to Summersun and ended his existence. They removed the one man who gained my respect, someone who saw me as more than flesh to penetrate and thank for the spread. He brought value to my life. Something I lost since the training Academy for gifted youth. Water collects along the bottom of her eyelids. Now I’ll never get to show it to him. Self-loathing forces the tears down her cheeks. All the chances I had to give myself to him. To thank him for saving me. To thank him for giving my life purpose. To thank him for being my friend. She didn’t deserve him. He dies and within hours she’s drunk and in bed with a strange man just like every day of her adult life on Tartarus. “I swear by the gods…” Amye shakes loose her pain. “You wanted me to be a valued member of your crew. If Australia will still have me, I’ll achieve what you saw in me.” Amye slips her arms through the jumpsuit top, adjusting herself in the mirror. The dark paint over the cheap hotel window melts down the wall, dripping into a black sludge puddle on the stained carpet. It pools before flowing like a river toward the bathroom door. As it crosses the tiles, the stream expands and a hand emerges, clasping Amye’s ankle from the slurry.


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Reflected in the mirror, the horrific twisted faces of souls trapped by the Sandman’s mask squeal. Before she has time to think or scream, the creature slips inside her mind, leaving no sign of the black oil or the Sandman. “He’s not dead.” Amye spins on her heels. In the bathroom doorway stands her sister Kymberlynn. “You’re dead.” “Do I look dead, Little Sis?” Kymberlynn asks. “William said you died on Tartarus.” “I wouldn’t be here now telling you our captain’s alive if I were dead. The Sandmen have him. I’ll help you find him, but you’re the only one who’s capable of saving him.”


SUMMERSUN Following the Summersun…

UCP

victory

on

“HAUSER, STATUS.” Hauser ignores the squawking comm in his ear. The second Mokarran raises its weapon, indicating he won’t capitulate with the surrender order either. Hauser obliges—firing center mass. Chunks of Mokarran spray over the refuge-shredding equipment. “Divinity’s teat!” Hauser curses. Fresh DNA covers the composting machines, forbidding him the truth of what the Mokarran were grinding up with the equipment. Hauser kicks the first Mokarran he shot to ensure it’s dead. During his last visit to Summersun, he witnessed humanoids


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being loaded into this craft. None existed. Logically, the Mokarran ground them into organic fertilizer to spread across the food crops. He pops the cylinder containing the ammunition. He pinches at the empty shell until it’s cool enough to remove. Next he needs to design an ejection system to replenish his custom weapon faster. Fully loaded, he sweeps farther into the craft. Hauser’s remaining eye forces him to turn his head unnaturally, compensating for his loss in peripheral vision. The politicians will need months to iron out finite details of the armistice, but any Mokarran present on the surface negates UCP ownership of the planet. One problem with Mokarran is they haven’t a concept of “surrender to fight another day.” Once secure, Hauser needs off this ship. He smells nothing but the dead. Not the Mokarran blood-stink, but the stench of innocent dead. Preventing more deaths doesn’t make up for those humanoids he knowingly allowed to die in the interim while dealing with his missing patron. The native population, blue-hued humanoid, were slaves to the Mokarran regime, but they learned from their masters to not waste resources. With the battle over, the Asym utilize the thousands of mercs to clean up the Mokarran stragglers instead of engaging them with their own military. No one cares about mercenary lives. Especially under-contract mercs—death negates payment. Despite the stomach-curdling smell of rotten flesh, Hauser sweeps through the front compartment a second time. Asym soldiers hand each nude humanoid a blanket. The Mokarran selected undesirable people, stripped them of all possessions and marched them into the next room for execution. One Asym waves a handheld computer over the DNA bar encoded into the back of each person’s left hand. The female Asym’s face saddens after each scan. “Move these people to a refugee center.” “None of them are skilled. Most have little employment talents or education.” Hauser overhears her whisper to a fellow soldier. “They don’t deserve death just because they don’t work,” Hauser snaps. “Under UCP law they must mandatorily vote now as well.” Disgusted, the soldier continues her rant, “Most never exercised such privilege on their home planet. Nor did they pay taxes. Now they get a say in my government?”


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the dark side

“They’re still living humanoids.” Hauser’s stare of death beams from his good eye. “I won’t debate with a merc.” Condescendingly, she offers, “We appreciate your assistance in eliminating the Mokarran.” She holds out two credit chit-sized cards. “Draw your reward.” Hauser snatches them and grinds them in his fist. The soldier completes her tirade, “At least you earned it.” To her, Hauser is one rung above the vermin he just abolished and nearly as bad as the impoverished people just rescued. He activates the commlink, marching away from the organic fertilizing transport. “What, Australia?” “Are you a part of the Silver Dragon crew, or are you returning to your independent contracting?” the female voice inquires. Hauser ignores the question. “I removed two more living Mokarran from the surface. A task the Asym find me well suited for, but bounty payment’s not enough to replace the ship your captain owes me.” “Commander Reynard failed to apprise me of payment arrangements for your services to the crew since your assignments originate from the same source as ours.” Smerth’n Nysaean double speak! “It’s difficult to discuss payment with a dead man,” Hauser says. Her gulp echoes over the commlink. He gives Australia a moment to compose herself before continuing. “I’ve heard a few vague and misinterpreted campfire stories about Sandmen, and none of them speak about them abducting individuals.” Hauser keeps to himself the stories he’s heard about Nysaeans. “The Silver Dragon remains en route to Summersun,” Australia confirms. “Repairs will be attempted without dry-dock until clear evidence of Commander Reynard’s location is determined.” Whether intended or not, her demeanor leaves Hauser cold. “I didn’t sign on to chase wraiths. I’m here to kill Mokarran.” “There are plenty of consignments available if you wish to sell your sword.” “I’m no Lancer. If you desire my assistance, I need credits.” Her flustered breathing draws a smile across Hauser’s face.


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“A merc body has raised questions. I need you to investigate.” “Easy credits. A dead merc rarely amounts to much,” Hauser says. “On the battlefield no one notices, but in a hotel bed it turns a head or two.” “Is it one of your crew?” Hauser asks. “No, but Amye Jones paid for the room.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR William Schlichter has a Bachelor of Science in Education emphasizing English from Southeast Missouri State and a Masters of Arts in Theater from Missouri State University. With fifteen years of teaching English/Speech/Theater, he has returned to making writing his priority. Recent successes with scriptwriting earned him third place in the 2013 Broadcast Education Association National Festival of Media Arts for writing a TV Spec Script episode of The Walking Dead. His full-length feature script, Incinta, was an officially selected finalist in the 2014 New Orleans Horror Film Festival. Incinta received recognition again by being selected as a finalist at the 2015 Beverly Hills Film Festival for a full-length feature. Incinta has advanced in several other script contests, including most recently being an Official Selected finalist in The 2016 Irvine Film Festival. His next life goal would be to see his film transferred from the pages to the screen. Writing has always been his passion even through traveling, raising twin children, and educating teenagers. While he specializes in the phantasmagorical world of the undead and science fiction fantasy stories, William continues to teach acting, composition, and creative writing.


Profile for BHC Press

The Dark Side by William Schlichter (The Silver Dragon Chronicles #2)  

Imprint: BHC Press/Indigo Genre: Science Fiction/Space Opera Publication Date:2/28/2017 Description: The liberation of Summersun brings the...

The Dark Side by William Schlichter (The Silver Dragon Chronicles #2)  

Imprint: BHC Press/Indigo Genre: Science Fiction/Space Opera Publication Date:2/28/2017 Description: The liberation of Summersun brings the...

Profile for bhcpress
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