An Excerpt from HMS Hunter: Strings on a Shadow Puppet, Thomas L. Evans (©2003)

Well, I needed an image... ignore the by George Laurence bit... that comes from when I considered using a pen name...

 HMS Hunter: Strings on a Shadow Puppet:


Alex’s body slumped in the chair like an exhausted boxer between bouts; eyes closed, a small drip of saliva touching the side of his mouth. His mind, however, was keenly focused on the VR simulation he was jacked into. It was a recording of the kind of recent event that he was a sad expert in. He took in every detail, but did not try to interact with the proceedings.  It wasn’t that kind of sim.

As in the real world, Alex’s virtual avatar was tall and well built with the tell tale prismatic eyes that revealed his genetically modified background: wheels of color that told of his mandellan descent.   He wore the double breasted black uniform of the Sophyan Imperial Navy, and around its high collar were the two golden laurel leaves denoting his rank and status.

His dark hair did not move in the breeze that shuffled scraps of paper across the asphalt, nor did he try to dodge the ball that was thrown through his form. He was too busy taking in the other details.  The red-brick façade of the school, the hand crafted leaf patterns in the iron gates, the way the last of the children ran through the doors as the bell sounded. Once they were all inside, the attendant, a sentient alien with a long central carapace and slowly undulating ambulatory organs made its way across the forecourt, picking up items that the children left behind with its hand-like suckers. 

The explosion ripped throughAndresAcademy, hurling steel, concrete and glass through the elite school; spreading a fiery cloud of smoke into the air.  Alex ducked involuntarily as a block of burning debris flew through his avatar. Had it been real he would have been as dead as the sophant was, crushed by the detritus of the blast.

A grey cloud of dust settled over the street, while torn metal and tiny limbs fell scattered across the once fine court yard.  When the rumbling ended and the last crashes of the collapsing building shook, there was a moment of silence that stretched beyond reason. A brick fell, a glass pane shattered. The first frightened sobs were followed by screams of horror and pain.  Not all the cries were human, nor were all the body parts. 

Fires flickered in the background.  A small child, human, walked out from a gutted classroom, still holding the hand of a playmate who was not so lucky.  The bellows of a Larquianne sounded loudly over that of its surviving classmates.  It crawled out from beneath a pile of rubble, using its three forearms to pull itself free.  Its black fur was matted with blood, and its bottom half was missing.  Its cries soon quieted to a whimper, then faded all together. 

Sirens approached quickly, and wheels screeched to a halt as rescue workers raced from their vehicles.  Had Alex actually been there, he might have been able to stop them. Such a horror had never happened on this world before, and they weren’t ready for the second blast.  It was worse than the first. It contained airborne nanotech devices that worked on the nervous system.  The screams of the rescue workers drowned out those of the children.  The broadcast began immediately after the second detonation.

“The ability to control one’s own future is not a privilege, it’s a right!” The image of the figure who spoke was carried across all the comms channels by a hacker signal.  It was an extreme ectomorph, tall and ultra thin, with slanted eyes, swirling dotted tattoos, an extended cranium and high curling hair. Alex recognized the image was a stylized human.

“The ability to select one’s own government,” it continued, “is not a privilege, it’s a right.  Democracy is the only form of government that ensures these privileges remain rights — inalienable human rights. Rights that cannot be controlled by the privileged few, nor shared with bug-eyes, slimies or others whose alien ways corrupt human society! I am the Dalang, Speaker of the Wayang Liberation Front, and this is not the last you will hear from me!  Long live the Federalist Revolution!”

Alex jacked out, he did not need to see anymore.  Once more in the real world, he wiped the drool from his chin and looked at the two men who stared at him from across the well appointed library. He blinked, taking in the anachronistic leather bound volumes, the fine antique furniture and the elegant fireplace with ornate Billanoban carvings.  He drew himself straight in the chair, and looked at his audience once more.

“The other two attacks included the hijacking of a star liner and a pirate raid,” the first man said.  He was a well built man with golden skin and almond eyes, and clearly held authority in the room. 

“Seem familiar?” the second, older man asked. He had silver hair and a hawkish nose.  His eyes were locked on Alex.   

 “The rhetoric is different,” Alex said in the calm plummy tones of the long entitled and highly educated upper class. His jaw was clenched tightly, the muscles in his cheeks worked beneath the skin.

“The methods are identical,” the first man said. His voice as aristocratic as Alex’s.

Alex stood and walked across the room, his hands behind his back. He looked out the window at the terreformed nature that lay beyond.  He didn’t notice any of it.

“This is your chance, Alex. Your chance to set things right.” the second man leaned forward with a knowing smile. “You can get the people who were behind the Silver Slipper.”

Alex turned and looked at them both, as if considering what they had to say.  Yet they already knew his answer and so did Alex.


About Thomas Evans

I'm a writer of mysteries, espionage, and speculative fiction. In my previous incarnation I was an archaeologist specializing in gender and identity in Iron and Bronze Age Europe. Mostly, however, I was known for my works with the use of geomatics, multiscalular spatial analysis and landscape theory within archaeology.
This entry was posted in Chronicle, Conspiracy, Cycle, Espionage, Identity, Military Science Fiction, Mystery, New Space Opera, Original Fiction, Political Drama, Post Modern, Ripping Yarn, Saga, Science Fiction, Series, Stand Alone Novel, Strong Characters, Thoughtful, Thoughtful Espionage Tale, Uncategorized, Unique or Imaginative World, World and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to An Excerpt from HMS Hunter: Strings on a Shadow Puppet, Thomas L. Evans (©2003)

  1. William says:

    The terrorists present that most intriguing of antagonists: The sympathetic villain. Champions of democracy, yet at the same time, barbaric murderers and avowed racists.

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