First Lieutenant Caldera from “Brigade: The Tears of a Monster”, Illustrated and Created by Claude-Robert Policart

In eight minutes, you’ll regret loving that blonde whore more than me.

Oval tubes inside the eye-shaped warships discharged a thick slime down the webs. A glue in the slime bonded with the webbing. The secreted glue transformed the biopolymer grid into slides. The warship then jettisoned plasma. The gluey slides allowed the blobs to flow down to any point of the biopolymer grid at lightning speed. As the blobs raced down the glue-laced webbing with impossible precision, Ethioschrist scanned the life patterns within them. The life sources registered as being more mechanoid than human. They had no bioelectrical pulses. All living things generated bioelectrical pulses—all humanoids except for Bio-Kludges. They registered more like the dead.

A splatter cemented across the base of the pillar a few feet from Ethioschrist. From the gooey mass rose the Bio-Kludge paratrooper. The Nether symbiote was plastered across the Bio-Kludge’s face. Ethioschrist’s suspicions had come true. He lunged to attack. From a concealed aperture, the Nether sprayed a foul-smelling glandular secretion, which not only nauseated Ethioschrist but burned his skin as well. In the instant it took him to flinch, the Bio-Kludge had vanished beneath the Nether’s camouflaging vapors. The technique was magnificent. Never before had Ethioschrist been counterattacked so strategically. This was an adversary that demanded respect.

By my count you have seven more minutes until the rapture.

“What do you want from me?”

Nothing. I don’t want you anymore.

“Caldera, do this and you’ll ruin your plan,” Ethioschrist supplicated.

This is me fixing the plan. We’ll arrest you. You’ll go to Xino-Korea.

“What if I die in Xino-Korea?”

You’ll die if you don’t go.

“All this talk about you loving me was a lie.”

I can control what happens here. I can control what happens in Xino-Korea.

“The only person you care about is yourself.”

I’m so scared for you. Caldera’s tone had softened. You won’t make it. Just come to me.

“Scabs won’t be the death of me.”

You pig-headed braggart. Think you can make it without me?

“The Nether are using the Bio-Kludges as hosts. They’ll be invisible until seconds before they attack. Pectines for chemical messaging. Cloned tissue and cybernetic parts. Yeah. I figured that out all by myself well enough.”

Caldera sneered. In two minutes the rapture will mince you to pieces. And only I can call it off.

“You just want to bring me in yourself so you look good to the Apprehension Team. Like a typical boss, you’re hurting an officer to advance your career.”

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