Sharoma Frontierverse Why Did The Groigan Dance? Chapter 16

Why Did The Groigan Dance?

Chapter 16

Woe to you, oh Destroyer

"I'm sorry, my lord, but we mustn't let you jeopardize all that we hold so dear."

Bush leaped up, hands grabbing instinctively for the cross on his chest. Pain shot through every core of his being, unbearable agony twisted his torn body, and he fell backwards, gasping, the air feeling like a burning gel.

Cross isn't on my chest. Darkness, everywhere. No light at all, not even the tiny amount that seeps through from under one's eyelids. Teeth clenched, try to open eyes. No good. Eyes register as open, but no light. Why is it so dark in here? Am I in hell? Screaming for Anthony, for Redfield, for Charon, for Sinclair, for anybody. No noise. A wonderful, terrible silence. Jaw hurts. Everything hurts. Has to be hell. Help me, O Lord My God; save me in accordance with your love.

Through the silence and blindness and pain comes a sensation in the left arm. A poking, a feeling of liquid. Dizziness. Swooning. The black gets blacker, the mind slows down. This is Hell. Acceptance. Understanding why. Woe to you, O Destroyer, you who have not been destroyed! The black gets blacker.

"I'm sorry, my lord, but we mustn't let you jeopardize all that we hold so dear."

Bush leaped up, hands grabbing instinctively for the cross on his chest. Pain shot through every core of his being, unbearable agony twisted his torn body, and he fell gasping into the soft jelly of the stasis chamber.

"Finally woke up, I see," a familiar voice commented from Bush's left. Slowly, painfully, the Baron turned his head, and with much effort, found himself looking upon the imposing visage of Duke Lorenzo Charon. "You gave us quite a scare, Jonathan," Charon continued. "Your companions have been out of stasis for over a week."

Bush blinked (hard to do in the sickly green ooze in which he was residing), thinking. "What happened to me, Lorenzo? I was in Hell. How is it that I am alive?"

"You were very, very fortunate, Jonathan," Charon said gravely. "Count Redfield managed to give us an account of the incident. If it wasn't for the fact that the rock wall of the cave you were in made a natural shielding, all that would be left of you three would be a glowing puddle."

Bush's head spun. "Incident?"

Charon frowned, and a sympathetic look filled his eyes. "You don't remember? Lucky bastard. Mark and Red were up for countless nights screaming about it. Thargoids can be a nasty business."

"Thargoids? Thargoids!" The mention of the hated name made it all come back in a terrifying rush. The mission in Enayess. The sound of the launch doors opening as the trio was preparing to leave. The spinning pink and white ship. Firing at it, only to be knocked back by a sound wave. The terrible purple light, scorching his eyes and making them explode.

Making them explode. He recalled the dreadful feeling of his irises sliding down his cheeks in a sea of puss, but he could see fine now. Perplexed, Bush raised his hands to his face, probing the nooks and crannies of his ancient face. It felt... raw almost. As if he was a newborn babe. Hesitantly, almost afraid to, he ran his fingers over his eyes. A whirring sound, and the cold feel of metal greeted his touch, and Bush was dumbstruck.

"What the hell did you do to me?"

"We saved you, Jon," Charon replied. "If we hadn't found you and operated right away, your skin would be decorating some Fed's doormat right now. You were damn lucky that cave shielded the radiation backlash from that ship, and you were damn lucky that Anthony's bulk partly shielded Redfield. If he got even one more isotope in him he wouldn't have been able to drag you and Anthony to the rendezvous area, and we would have had no way to rescue you. So count your blessings."

"I see what you are saying," Bush said a bit hesitantly. He was taken aback by the conviction in Charon's last statement. "Just what did you do to me? Am I still human?"

Charon laughed, a deep rumbling laugh that reminded Bush of the engines of the Thargoid. "You are still human, my dear friend, at least mostly - we did have to make a few 'improvements' here and there. Your eyes and ears were completely and utterly obliterated in the blast, and had to be replaced; no, no, don't poke them too much, Jonathan, those are top of the line cybernetic audio-visual grafts that you are graced with! No replacement for the true thing, I must admit, but truly the best money can buy. The Emperor spared no expense in the rejuvenation of you three though you were by far in the worst state. That is why you are in the stasis chamber." A brief look of distaste crossed the Duke's face, quickly replaced with a gruesome smile. "A ungodly thing, better left unused, but the Emperor insisted that you be immersed. And, I must admit, you benefited from it; if not for the clean, uninfected gel you would have doubtlessly died by now, so severe were your wounds. That is why your skin feels so raw - I see you noticed it - the radiation poisoning twisted its deadly fingers inside you so deep that we had to remove the top six layers of your skin."

"If that's the case, any Fed that did want my skin to grace his doormat would've been sorely disappointed," Bush wisecracked.

"Truly, my friend, truly!" Charon roared. "I'm sorry, Jonathan, but I must take my leave now; duty waits for no one." Then, with a tip of his hat, he left the Baron to contemplate the radical changes in his life.

The next three months were not easy ones for Bush; his were hectic days filled only with pain, exercise, pain, calibration of his new parts, and more pain. Towards the end of his rehabilitation, he began to get regular visits from Redfield and Anthony along with members of Scalpel, though most visits were awkward and short; no one likes to see a squad mate in agony and at a moment of weakness, especially when that squad mate was a leader, one who represents the entire group and can decide their fates on a whim.

The implants were even more impressive than Charon let on - they improved his hearing by more than tenfold, and his eye grafts made it possible for him to count the hairs on a fly fifty feet away. He felt magnificent, superhuman, like the beast of his alias, and even his skin toughened over the weeks, its a hue a sickly white but better than the deep pink of months ago. He lost his need for alcohol as well. The simple mention of a Sohoan Red or a nice cup of Brown caused him to gag (Bush suspected some subconscious suggestions in play here).

And so he spent the lonely months getting stronger and fueling his rage of the Feds. A murderous rage, and genocidal rage, filled the Baron (how could they do this to him??!!) and the nightmare with Sinclair began to phase out, replaced with a new dream of Bush leading Scalpel down on Earth in a gigantic wave of death, of bodies upon bodies piling under his feet, all wearing the hated Federal uniform.

And it was going to happen, oh yes, it would. Anyone who could ally with the damnable aliens deserved an agonizing death. He had been destroyed, and it would soon be time to destroy.

All it was was a matter of time.

Continue the story with Chapter 17