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A tragic short story regarding the sins of a Doctor and his choice of redemption.

Scifi / Drama
The Devil's Warhead
Age Rating:

Short Story

Planet Earth. A blast from the past. 50 years ago it would have meant something, back in the days when the planet was actually hospitable for human life. Sadly, nowadays, it was only used for either massive mining operations or to house gigantic platforms used to build the trademark human habitation units. The most expensive ones were placed right in orbit of the planet itself, while the more price-friendly modules were clustered on the moon’s surface, forming small cities. A bleak existence for humans, but the alternative always was more gruesome, due to human desperation. The Doctor knew first-hand what survival of the richest entailed.

A knock on his door tugged him back to reality.

“Come in, the door is unlocked.” He said monotonically. It was his assistant that stepped in, clad in the typical white robes of the medical practitioner.

“Doctor. The report concerning the finishing touches on Project Golem has been uploaded to your personal computer. Also, the General is requesting your presence as soon as possible down inside the Project monitoring chamber.” As the Doctor’s assistant, Judith, finished addressing him, it was clear she caught on that something was bothering the Doctor.

“I shall just… leave this here and go, then."

“No. Stay. And please lock the door and blind the windows. Tell me something…” He turned to face his assistant, away from the outside view that had the panorama of Earth at its centre.

“Yes Doctor? Is it about the Project?” Judith asked, being rewarded with a nod from the Doctor.

“Quite. As you may have known, this Project has been ongoing for two years now. What is your take on it? Ethically speaking, that is.” He was regarding the dark haired woman with his usual hawk-like gaze, piercing eyes that reminisced of one that looks right through another’s soul. Judith instinctively looked away from the man’s eyes, pondering. What if it was a test? She decided the best way would be to answer truthfully, yet diplomatically.

“In truth, sir, you have contributed to advancing humanity’s interests, sacrificing one for the better of many. Yet I do admit that there were numerous occasions when I had my doubts…” It took a while before she could turn her gaze back to the Doctor’s, clearly fearing any kind of backlash, or negative reply. He however kept watching, until finally, a reply was given.

“You have a good heart, Judith.” The assistant was shocked. This was the first time her surname was ever used. The Doctor continued, although he spoke with his back turned on her, eyes gazing down at the shattered planet that was Terra.

“Effective immediately, you are placed on paid holidays until further notice. You are to leave this station at once, before the ceremonies regarding Project Golem start.” Turning again to face her, his expression was grave. He placed both his hands on her shoulders, looking her right in the eyes, while continuing. Judith was speechless.

“Something terrible will happen and there is no helping it, girl. Save yourself. That is all I will tell you.” And with that, he left the office, leaving his assistant gawking in surprise.

“Y-yes Doctor…” she managed, timidly.

Down below, inside the maintenance levels of the space station, the General and his staff congregated together with the Doctor, all of them surrounding what looked to be a cylindrical vat filled to the brim in translucent liquid that was slowly draining.

“So, you are sure this thing’s safe, Doctor? Just look at it, it’s a freak.” The General was short and stubby, face riddled with various scars and his voice a dull bass. He regarded the Doctor with impatient scepticism, trying to decipher his hawk-eyed gaze at Project Golem.

“As I told you two years ago, General, and many times after that, this thing is never safe and never will be, for multiple reasons. If you choose to unveil it at tonight’s ceremony, you do so at your own risk, and the risk of countless others.” Said the Doctor, in a “matter of fact” kind of way. The General, however, was fuming, yet did not say a word, instead looking at the now drained vat, which housed Project Golem.

The Project looked like an abomination. A giant of metal and flesh, with heavy armour fused directly on the body of a man, was what greeted the congregation’s eyes. It was obvious who were regarding the construct for the first time, and who weren’t, for there were plenty disturbed reactions that emerged from the crowd of representatives and officials. One or two even had to keep themselves from vomiting. The construct’s half-artificial heart was in plain sight, beating rapidly and shielded only by reinforced glass, fuelling the currently sleeping mechanisms and weapons of the abominable behemoth.

“Now then, Doctor. We have a few new… investors. They would be pleased to hear about this Project of the Terran Military Coalition.” The Doctor arched an eyebrow in the General’s direction, before speaking.

“Hm. Very well.” The man looked the crowd over. It was the same every time. Curiosity mixed with awe-inspired fear, common in those with low morals and fortunes comfortably positioned in the ten figure range or higher. He spoke again, breaking the settled silence.

“As you are all aware, war has been completely abolished for 10 years now, in part due to the forming of the Terran Military Coalition some 20 years ago. The combined efforts and resources of all world forces had succeeded in eliminating the alien force that had plagued us for decades. Project Golem, officially started 2 years ago and named in mock honour after the butchered alien leader, has been an effort to stave off civil war, poverty and as a solution to produce military grade weapons out of prison facilities, of any security level, world-wide, while using acquired alien technology.” The Doctor pauses only momentarily to wave a hand in the direction of the humanoid inside the empty vat.

“…that is our result. A state of the art war-machine produced from a hand-picked prisoner, Edgar Harvodis. Nothing human remains of the man Mr. Harvodis once was. The goal of this project has been reached, just as the Terran Military Coalition has instructed. General, I do believe it is time for the festivities to begin. If you’ll excuse me, I shall be on my way.” And with a wave of his hand he dismissed the gathering. The general harrumphed and issued instructions to his own men in order to move the Project. It had begun.

Inside the upper reaches of the luxurious space station, the ballroom was alight in commotion. Exquisite drinks and appetizers being passed back and forth while both men and women mingled with one another in a cocktail of aristocracy. Suddenly, the lights dimmed together with the noise, until everything was nothing more than a hush. A computerized voice held a brief speech to describe what the people saw on the stage, the behemoth inside the glass vat was wide awake now and stirring as blood red lights illuminated the stage and the people. The crowd’s reaction to the sight and the description was mixed; some were awe-stricken, some utterly horrified, others applauded in glee. Suffice to say the presentation was a resounding success. The Doctor merely shook his head at the reactions of the crowd. He placed a small device to his ear and spoke in a low tone.

“Judith, it’s me. Where are you?” The reply came near immediately, albeit somewhat filled with static.

“En route to lunar city D6, Doctor. I take it that the festivities have already started?” Her curiosity could be read cleanly and something else… concern. The Doctor had been acting strangely, after all.

“Good. Now I can die in peace. Goodbye, Judith.” The Doctor shut the device off and breathed in before exhaling slowly.

I guess it is time. He thought to himself. Pressing another button on the device, the ballroom seemed to change instantly. Locks disengaged on the safety modules from the vat up on the stage. When that happened, all hell broke loose. The Golem unleashed itself on the bewildered crowd like a rabid beast, letting loose a firestorm of chain-gun bullets, rending flesh from bone. The Doctor did nothing else, having ensured that everyone, including himself, be trapped inside the ballroom. Screams of agony, panic and terror rang out against sound-proofed walls. Unfortunate souls were being trampled to death by individuals who had formerly called them 'dear friend'. For every ten spent bullet casings another party-goer donated their blood to the gore-soaked marble floors.

“Golem, we will all burn for what we did to you.” And with that said, the man closed his eyes and let the inevitable take its toll. The only tranquil figure in the entire flock was reaped in the most merciful of ways. His neck was snapped before he could feel any pain, his carcass now but another projectile flying towards the masses.

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