Chapters: 5 Pages: 19 Word Count: 5,122 Genre: Science Fiction/Action
A free Nephilim, Katy Adams has fought against the evil Cabal all her life. She knows nothing else, even though she desires to have a family of her own. When she discovers that a clone of hers has been sent to murder the crew of the UESS Horizon, she decides an intervention is in order. Can Katy convince her “sister” to abandon her mission, or will she be forced to kill her instead? Find out in the prequel to the short story: Rendezvous with Oblivion.
Chapter 1: The Chase
July 2nd, 2045
Katy Adams raced her motorcycle through the downtown area of Charlotte, North Carolina with two dozen motorcyclists hot on her tail. Bullets zipped over or around her head, producing a popping sound that bit at the ears. Not exactly how she imagined this outing, Katy thought as she cranked the accelerator, leaned forward, and weaved between incoming traffic.
Glass cracked, and horns honked, forcing her to glance back. Twisted metal littered the street, thrown there when one of her pursuers collided with an SUV.
“Okay, I need to take this somewhere else before some pedestrian becomes roadkill.”
Katy angled left and turned at the next intersection, her bike leaving skid marks. She headed straight for the concrete wall that partitioned the affluent areas of the city from the poorer districts, districts that had been left in disrepair since the days of America’s collapse. As she neared, she raised her grenade launcher and fired several rounds.
Bang. Boom. Bang. A hole materialized when the dust cleared. Katy throttled the accelerator, then switched to EMP rounds and discharged them, taking out the laser defense turrets.
She sped through the opening, road down cracked streets and bordered up buildings. Bent streetlights lined the sidewalks. Abandoned cars and trucks littered the street, which Katy maneuvered between for cover. Bullets peppered them as her pursuers struggled to score a hit.
“Why can’t guys take a hint? I’m not interested.” She stood up on her bike, did a backflip, and landed on the shoulders of one of her attackers. “Honey, I’m sorry to say, but I’m already taken,” she said, twisting her ankles and snapping his neck.
Katy jumped off the bike and removed her sword. With her eyes closed, she sensed her attackers with her telepathy and monitored their thoughts. Human brains were so slow; feeble sacks of meat capable of only concentrating on one or two things at a time. It was amazing that they could get anything done. Katy, on the other hand, was aware of everything in her vicinity, from the flutter of a dragonfly’s wings to a blade of grass sprouting out of a crack in the road.
A gun chamber cocked in the distance, and Katy brought up her sword to intercept the bullet. She twisted her wrist and caught another. On she went, deflecting a hailstorm of projectiles with her sword as she weaved it around her body with inhuman speed.
A motorcycle got too close, and she beheaded its rider. Others fell when their bullets ricocheted off her sword and hit them squarely in their visors.
The last rider stopped his chopper and revved its engine.
“Come on, sugar. Let’s dance,” she said with a southern accent.
He bolted forward on his cycle’s back wheel. Katy sidestepped, performed a reverse jumping roundhouse kick, and sent his head flying.
“Well, I’ll call that a touchdown,” said Katy.
Another motorcycle appeared down the street. Katy raised her sword, ready to dispatch the newcomer, then lowered it when she realized who it was.
The motorcyclist extended a hand, and Katy took it, swinging herself onto the seat behind her rescuer and grabbing the woman’s shoulders. “What gives? I swore I told you I was going to hit the data depository this afternoon. What took you so long?”
“I didn’t think you were crazy enough to do the job alone,” Chantel Hildebrand said.
“Sugar, we’re talking about me here. Of course, I am. You should’ve known better.”
“You know if Mellissa was here what she'd say.”
A scowl formed on Katy’s lips. “Yeah, well, she’s in Canada with her husband and her kids.”
“Maybe, but a financial enclave is no place for a Nephilim to travel alone.”
“Please. Humans guarded the depository. When are they going to learn? We Nephilims are superior to them in every measurable way.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be too hard on them. The smartest human ever had an I.Q of 210.”
“Which translates to what? A Nephilim I.Q of 0.000014?”
Chantel shot her a glance. “Brent only has an I.Q of 170.”
“True, but my husband makes up with charm and devilishly good looks.”
Two hours later, Katy and Chantel reached a Second Underground safe house, located in an abandoned neighborhood in the city of Concord. They descended into its basement and turned on the gasoline generator that powered the place. Lights flickered, and holographic monitors materialized to life, their databanks humming as they too came online.
Katy took the data crystal she pilfered and plugged it into a reader. “The thing’s encrypted. Lucky for us, the person who did it wasn’t a Nephilim. It shouldn’t take long.”
Katy typed on the keyboard. She stopped and waited for the computer’s buffer to catch up. “Humans need to design faster computers.”
“The problem isn’t with the computer’s CPU,” Chantel said. “They were just never built to be used by people who can type as fast as we do. If you want, I could fix the problem by adding a new subroutine to the buffer’s algorithm.”
“By all means. I’m a little rusty when it comes to my encoding skills.”
Chantel snorted. “That excuse might fly if you were human,” and she coded the new subroutine. “There. You should notice a dramatic improvement.”
“Thanks,” Katy said and resumed typing. “Yeah, that’s a lot better. Again, thanks.”
A new window popped up on the monitor.
“Ah, we’re in.” Katy quickly scanned through thousands of pages. Most of the information was junk: inventory manifests, financial reports, patents and other insider secrets belonging to the various corporations that ruled the United States alongside the Cabal.
Katy’s eyebrows rose when she opened a news article. “Chantel, come and look at this.”
“Catherine Hemmingway joins the crew of the United Earth Starship Horizon for a voyage to the stars.”
Katy pointed to the picture beside the headline. “Does that remind you of anyone?”
“Of course. It’s you, well, a clone of the same woman you were cloned from. A Three Seven.”
“Catherine Hemmingway. I hated being called Inquisitor Catherina. Catherine isn’t much better. Why did you keep your model name?”
“Chantel?” Her friend shrugged. “Better than being called Two Four Nine B Two.”
“Yeah, I also hated being called by my Inquisitor designation.”
Katy eyed Catherine Hemmingway, her exact lookalike if not for the shorter hair.
“Why would the Cabal send a Three Seven on an interstellar voyage?” Katy leaned back. “They have no interest in scientific discovery or peaceful exploration.” She bit her lip. “Hum. Do you think they mean to sabotage the Horizon and kill its crew?”
“Again, why?” Chantel asked. “The Cabal has never cared about outer space. That’s why they didn’t act when the other nations started colonizing Mars and Venus.”
“Well, we need to find out.” Katy logged onto the darknet, the only way a citizen within the United States and its territories could communicate with someone beyond its borders. She accessed the top international news sites and read every article she could find about the Horizon.
According to them, the Horizon was the first interstellar vessel ever built by man, a truly massive ship that would ferry eight hundred people to Sol’s nearest star system, Proxima Centauri, in search for a new world to inhabit. Ninety nations had contributed a trillion dollars to its construction, and the United States was the latest member.
Katy twirled her hair. The Cabal played nice with no one. What were they after?
Katy hacked into the United Earth Space Agency’s database, the group responsible for building and running the Horizon. She found a manifest of the crew, as well as their itineraries, which noted precisely where they would be up to the day of the launch.
“We need to stop the Cabal, not to mention liberate my sister,” Katy said.
“I’m all for stopping the Cabal,” Chantel said. “As for liberating Miss Hemmingway... for her to be embedded with the Horizon’s crew means she’s been socialized. We’ve never convinced a socialized Inquisitor to join our side. You know that.”
“Yeah, well, there’s a first time for everything, darling.” Katy got out of her chair.
Chantel shook her head. “She’s not worth the—”
“Sugar, she’s my clone. That makes her worth it. I’m going. Are you coming?”
“You know I’ve always got your back. Are you going to tell your husband?”
Katy walked over to a gun rack. She removed two pistols from it, as well as ammunition for them. Two Colt 15s. Not exactly the flashiest of firearms, but they would do the job. Satisfied, she strapped on a gun belt, then headed for her jacket, expensive brown leather, and put it on. “Brent’s living his public life right now. I can’t be seen with him. Besides, he’s the son of a billionaire, and I’m a runaway slave. Our marriage will always remain a secret.”
“The United States had slavery once before and abolished it,” Chantel said.
Katy snorted. “Your ancestors were human. We Nephilims are… something else.”
“Yes, but blacks alone didn’t abolish slavery. Brent and Billy created the Second Underground to free we Nephilims and put an end to the Cabal’s tyranny.”
“Maybe, or maybe the United States is beyond saving this time.”
“You can’t let yourself think like that. You have to believe that things can get better.”
“Chantel, we’re atheists. We don’t believe in anything unless hard facts are backing it up. I’ll leave wishful thinking to my husband, the Catholic.” Katy looked down at her feet. “Do you think Brent’s family will ever accept me, an atheist?”
Chantel approached her. “His sister might, but the rest? No.”
“Fine,” Katy said. “Than our marriage must remain a secret.”
Chapter 2: Clone Versus Clone
Two months had passed. Katy and Chantel made their way to the Canadian border and crossed it via one of the many refugee tunnels the Second Underground had burrowed over the years, dug several hundred yards below the land mines the Americans had set up to prevent people from escaping. Katy wasn't afraid of landmines, but why take the risk?
They took a flight from Toronto to London, England, a hypersonic jetliner that used antimatter to achieve suborbital flight. The journey lasted thirty minutes.
After landing, they rented a hotel and spent the next two days sightseeing. Then on the third night, they attended a gala that’d been organized for the space adventurers, one of the many they were required to go to before blasting off to the great unknown. Katy and Chantel agreed that it would be the best place to confront Miss Hemmingway. Her mission likely required her to remain incognito, so she would be reluctant to do battle among so many witnesses.
Katy strolled into the lobby of London’s most luxurious hotel, the Archon, in a sparkling red dress that left little to the imagination. Men turned their heads as she walked by. One waiter spilled water all over the lady he was serving.
“Why don’t you wear a giant neon sign on your head as well?” Chantel asked telepathically.
“What? Brent bought this for me on my birthday.”
“Yeah, I can see him buying you that… for himself.”
“You’re just jealous because you don’t have a man in your life. Which reminds me, we need to find you a date, a big burly guy who will—”
“I have sex once every five years. That’s good enough for me.”
“That’s just your mating cycle. Come on, sugar, there are plenty of—”
“Don’t even think about it, Katy. Oh, and let’s split up. We can cover more ground.”
“Agreed. I’ll take ballroom a. You take ballroom b.”
Katy opened her mind to the crowd’s thoughts. “If he shoves one more bruschetta in his mouth, I swear I’m leaving… Does he think I’m fat? He thinks I’m fat… Oh, Gloria, that outfit is simply atrocious… Gigi-gigi. I would like to undress her and pour hot fudge all over—"
Katy walked up to the man thinking of pouring hot fudge on her and slapped him. He rubbed his cheekbone and asked, “Hey, why did you do that?”
“For being a pig, you Neanderthal,” Katy said and carried on. She scanned the crowd, then stopped. A familiar laugh, her laugh, echoed in the distance. She turned her head. Dressed in blue, her doppelganger conversed with a group of diplomats.
Katy smiled and said, “Well, Miss Hemmingway, it’s time for us to get acquainted.”
Catherine Hemmingway socialized with the guests, just as the Cabal had taught her. It was so easy gaining the trust of these heretics and non-believers. They thought they were clever, but in truth, they were fools, fools to not suspect that a serpent walked among them.
Catherine laughed at their jokes, particularly those made by the fat oaf who led this wretched island nation, the Prime Minister of Britain, Edward J. Blair.
“Miss Hemmingway, let me get this straight?” he asked. “You specialize in biology, but you also have master’s degrees in quantum physics, archeology and computer sciences, as well as speak seven different languages. How did you become so versed?”
“My sister has always been a hard studier, Prime Minister. Haven’t you, sis?”
Catherine twirled. A Three Seven in a red dress stood a few feet away. What was going on? Why would the Cabal send another Inquisitor?
Was she about to be recalled? Terminated?
“Miss Hemmingway, I didn’t know you had an identical twin,” the Prime Minister said.
Her clone extended a hand. “Katy Hemmingway, Prime Minister. A pleasure to meet you.”
The Prime Minister took her hand and kissed it. “Likewise, madam. You must be very proud of your sister. Catherine is a remarkable young woman.”
“Oh, I am, as are mom and dad,” Katy said. “We’re all very proud of her.”
“And what about your brother Abbot?” The Prime Minister asked.
“Abbot?” Katy giggled. “Oh, of course. I always forget about my poor baby brother.”
“Baby brother?” The Prime Minister frowned. “I thought he was your older brother?”
Catherine grabbed Katy by the arm. "Forgive me, Prime Minister, but I have to depart. There is something I need to discuss with my sister in private.”
The two made their way to a balcony overlooking London. London had only grown more awe-inspiring in the last few decades. Glass skyscrapers dotted the landscape and were illuminated by spotlights. The sound of aircars filled the air, produced by the roar of antimatter thrusters. And hundreds of feet below them, electric cars drove beneath streetlights. The glint of a full moon reflected off their hulls, as well as the glass that made up the neighboring buildings.
Normally, such a view could calm Catherine’s nerves, but not this night. She twirled to confront her clone and jabbed a finger in her chest. “What the Hell are you doing? Are you trying to blow my cover? And, why did the Cabal send you? Are they displeased with me?”
The woman lifted a hand. “First off, do you seriously know only seven different languages?”
“Of course, I know more. I’m not an idiot. But if I told the Prime Minister I’m fluent in fifty-seven, do you honestly think he would believe me?”
“Fifty-seven? Really? Sugar, I take it back. You haven’t studied at all.”
Catherine fumed. “You still haven’t answered my question. Why did the Cabal send you?”
“Oh, that’s because they didn’t. We’re not exactly on speaking terms.”
“They didn’t?” Catherine took a step back. “Then you’re Three Seven B Two.”
The clone moved to prevent her escape. “The name’s Katy. We Nephilims don’t use our Inquisitor designations, and now, neither do you. Understand?”
“Why should I call you by anything else, Three Seven B Two? You’re a rogue. A traitor.”
“It’s hard to be loyal to an organization that tried to kill you on your fourth birthday.”
“I passed my fourth birthday seven months ago.”
“I’ve heard you socialized Inquisitors get to live longer. Necessary for the socialization process, but only for a little while longer. They’ll never let you reach your fifth birthday.”
Catherine’s telepathic senses detected a psionic ripple. She cocked her head.
“You’re not alone.”
Katy smiled. “I’ve got a Two Four Nine with me. Her name’s Chantel. She’s also a B Two.”
Catherine’s brow dripped with sweat. Another Batch Two? Katy was bad enough, but she had no hope of besting two ex-Inquisitors with decades’ worth of experience under their belts. The best outcome she could expect was a quick death.
“Why are you here?” Catherine asked, her mind racing to formulate an escape plan.
“Well, first, we’re going to ruin whatever scheme your masters have cooked up. Then we’re going to take you home and get you some help.”
“I’ve got a mission to complete. I don’t have time to go anywhere with you.”
Katy clutched Catherine’s arm. “Oh, yes, you are. You’re coming with me.”
“And why should I?” Catherine said as she tried to pull away.
“Because I’m your older sister and I’m telling you to. That’s why.”
Her telepathy screamed, informing Catherine that the other Nephilim was drawing closer. Her eyes darted left and right. She needed to get away and fast.
Closer and closer the psionic wave drew, like a shark circling its prey. She examined the ledge, then Katy. It was now or never. Kicking Katy aside, Catherine jumped over the balcony and dropped seven hundred feet. Cement cracked beneath her heels.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” someone screamed. “How can you be alive?” another asked.
Catherine turned to the couple and said, “Sleep and forget.”
The couple fainted, and Catherine wasted no time checking if they were alright. She dashed over the lawn, crossed a street, and dodged oncoming traffic. Katy’s heart beat in the distance, a constant drumming that reminded Catherine that she needed to pick up the pace. She reached the other end unscathed, then jumped over a bench and headed into an alleyway.
She came to a stop a few miles away, between two apartment buildings. Her own heart racing, she scanned the dark passageway. She was alone. Good.
Smack! A foot slammed into her head and knocked her against a wall.
“Damn, you’re fast,” Catherine said after regaining her senses. “How did you—”
“Slow my heart rate,” Katy said. “A trick Mellissa taught me. As for speed, well, unlike humans, we Nephilims get faster the older we become.”
“That explains Supreme Inquisitor Abbot,” Catherine said. She thrust her hand like a spear and tried to poke out her older clone’s eyes. Katy intercepted it, twirled her and threw her over her back, forcing Catherine into a roll, getting to her feet and removing a small knife. With a grin, she slashed at Katy multiple times before landing a hit, a cut across her dress.
Katy snarled. “My husband bought me this dress for my last birthday.”
“That? Are you sure the sodomite didn’t pick it for himself? The pervert.”
Katy balled her fists. “Okay, honey, now I’ve got to beat you up. I wasn’t planning to, but you’ve crossed a line. Never insult another woman’s man.”
Catherine lunged. Katy caught her assassin’s blade and snapped it in two. Then she performed a backflip kick, catapulting Catherine high into the air.
She smashed through a window and into someone’s bathroom. Damn, that hurt, Catherine thought. Maybe it was a mistake to call her husband a sodomite. Oh shit, here she comes!
Katy hopped onto the window’s ledge and said, “We could have done this the easy way.”
“But I like it hard,” Catherine replied as she grabbed a toilet and swung it at Katy’s face. The toilet shattered. Okay, that didn’t work as expected. Why did Nephilim bones have to be harder than steel, Catherine thought as she took several steps back.
Katy cracked her neck, then preceded by pushing Catherine through a wall. She flew over a sofa and landed on the apartment’s stereo system. Sparks shot out.
“This could have gone easy,” Katy said before bringing her fist down.
Chapter 3: Hard Truths