Authors: James McEwan
Forging the Hammer
By James S McEwan
Text copyright © 201
3 James S McEwan
All Rights Reserved
This one is for you Dad.
Thanks for sharing your love of great science fiction.
Thank you for all your hard work helping with the massive task of editing this beast.
C. Noel McEwan (Wife)
Mary Jo McEwa
J Milstein (Friend)
I couldn’t have done it without you!
Explosions of colored paper filled the sky
as brightly lit floats glided down the gleaming main street of the capital city of New Dallas. Music from dozens of marching bands reverberated off the steel and glass walls of the towering giants that stood like silent sentinels watching over the people. The smell of cotton candy, popcorn, and ice cream was thick on the wind as children large and small watched with smiles on their sticky little faces. The good people of Nova Texas crowded the streets to see the parade. After all, this was the annual Dairy Day parade. One might wonder why a whole planet would celebrate the cow. It was because of the planet’s massive flat grasslands, which made it the perfect place to run herds in the millions, and made it the number one exporter of cattle and dairy products. Therefore, when the people celebrated their primary industry they held nothing back. The Dairy Day parade was truly a grand affair, one that people from all over Nova Texas flocked to the capital city to see.
There were many great and wonderful sights
to behold. However, the grandest of them were the giant balloons. Each year the balloon makers tried to top one another’s work by attempting to make bigger, brighter, taller, or crazier balloons than the previous year. Among them were famous characters from fiction as well as history, animals of all shapes and colors. When a giant green frog floated by the crowd cheered with marked enthusiasm.
As big and fun as the balloons were by law none could be larger than Betsy the brown and white spotted cow, the official Nova Texas mascot. Betsy stood at least four stories high and when she passed by large groups of people she sprayed white confetti from each of her six foot long teats. Betsy bobbed in the air just behind the Dairy Queen’s float, which was made to look like it was fashioned out of dairy products. It even included a working milk fountain. Walking next to the float a dozen young cow maidens dressed in short skirts, knotted checkered shirts, cowboy boots, and hats passed out baby
-sized round cheeses to the scores of children that rushed from the crowd.
Standing on the top t
ier near the back of the float, surrounded by her own milkmaids and giant blocks of cheese stood the Dairy Day Queen, a truly lovely young woman of about nineteen. Her long tight fitting white sequin dress looked like someone had wrapped her curvy figure in shimmering plastic wrap. At the shoulders her dress puffed out in what could only be described as two giant dollops of whipped topping, shimmering with every wave of her hand. Lacquered in glitter her soft brown hair sparkled as much as the jeweled tiara that sat lightly on her head. She was waving and blowing kisses to the crowd as the float made its way down the street.
High above all the frivolity a tall thin man in his mid-fifties stood on the sixtieth floor of the Red Star Mining Company
building. His once red hair was going white around the sides and his neatly trimmed beard had only a hint of color left. His deeply troubled blue eyes were looking down on the people far below. Meanwhile in the express lift of that same building was another man who was being escorted by force, hands cuffed behind his back, flanked by two colossal armed guards.
The spacious corner office was the only office occupied today. The brass plate on the wall next to the double doors read
, George Thorne - President of Special Operations. The doors were taller than the standard doors and made of real hardwood. As the dark cherry doors swung open, “Mr. Thorne Sir,” said one of the two large armed guards as they escorted the third man into the room by his arms. The escorted man was tall with chiseled features and his dark hair was long and matted with blood. His face sported a few bruises that were newly forming below his three-day-old beard. His steel grey eyes were hauntingly beautiful, yet strangely sad. Tall and defiant, he was a perfect specimen of human genetic engineering. He had been engineered to be a supreme combination of strength, speed, and agility. Some would have even described him as a tough and rugged Ken doll.
One of the guards stuck his
foot out while the other pushed the man from behind tripping him. He landed on his face with his hands still cuffed behind his back with no way to break his fall. Luckily for him, the floor was carpeted and he landed with a ‘woof’ as the wind was knocked out of him.
Thorne’s gaze was still on the parade below. In a very calm but matter of fact tone he said, “Pick him up.”
The guards bent down, grabbed his arms, and pulled him back to his feet. Thorne wheeled on his heels with a polished precision that could only come with years spent in the military. His heavy gaze drank in the man’s features. He could see that the man had been worked over pretty good by the guards. “You don’t look so good,” he said.
“Oh that. Y
our welcoming committee somehow forgot to fasten my seat belt. Then your vehicle had some strange problem. The damn thing kept speeding up all on its own and then the brakes would just lock up for no apparent reason sending me in the metal screen, time and time again. You should see that it gets fixed, I mean someone might get hurt,” the man said.
Out of habit,
Thorne clasped his hands behind his back. “Yes it sounds like it needs looking into.” His eyes flashed to the guards, “Didn’t I say he was to be treated with respect?”
One of the guards spoke, “But
Sir, he killed six of my men and Davison will never walk again.”
Thorne laughed, “I would have expected nothing less from him, but still next time
follow my orders and leave the juvenile crap to the amateurs. My God man, you are supposed to be a professional, start acting like one.”
Sir, it won’t happen again Sir,” the guard said.
Thorne shifted back to the man in hand cuffs, “Why the smug look?” The man said nothing so Thorne spoke again, “Only six guards, you must be getting soft.”
“What can I say they caught me on a bad day,” the man shrugged his shoulders, “If it had been a good day I wouldn’t be standing here between dumb and dumber.”
One of the guards took exception to his statement and let lose a vicious punch, which slammed into the man’s gut.
He doubled over and grunted. While still bent over he said, “What was that, a love tap? Man, you punch like a girl.”
The guard’s face
was getting red, his fist jumped back ready to deliver another punch when Thorne snapped at him, “That is enough Jane!”
Recovered from the blow the man shook his head, “I’m getting smacked around by a guy named
Thorne raised an eyebrow and gestured
, tilting his head as he shrugged his shoulders. “Despite his name Jane is good man, and somehow manages to complete his missions as assigned.”
He knew what Thorne was implying
, but he just couldn’t help himself, “Oh, did you hear that?” He turned to face the other guard, “Boss man here says you don’t complete your missions. Now is that true?”
That earned him another punch from
Jane, this time landing against his kidney. The man grunted as he tried to shake off the pain. Thorne was not amused by his attitude, “You earned that one Marcus.”
Marcus let out a
long slow breath, “Yeah, maybe.” He turned to face Jane, “If you keep doing that, you and I are going to have a serious disagreement.”
face was still red, but this time he held back, “Sir, permission to take this piece of shit and toss him off the roof.”
held up his hand. “Not just yet. I would like to talk to him first.”
That is all fine and good, but I think the real question here is do I want to talk to you?” He paused to wait for another punch that didn’t come. “Now that I think about it, I would rather have Jane here toss me off the roof,” Marcus said.
Thorne was tired of Marcus’s quips, “That is quite enough out of you. Anymore crap comes out of that smartass mouth of yours and I
think I will let Jane toss you off the roof.”
Marcus knew that it didn’t matter what he said, in Thorne’s eyes he was a dead man. It was just a matter of how and when, and since he didn’t want to hasten his demise
, he toned down his attitude. “I can see that you still have not developed a sense of humor.” Marcus was a little confused as to why he was still alive so he asked, “So why am I not dead yet? I mean what do you want with me Thorne?”
Thorne crossed the room and stood beh
ind his oversized leather chair. “Simple, you failed to complete your last mission, and I would like to know why.”
Marcus looked down at the very expensive carpet. It was a deep red and looked like it had golden threads that ran throughout the intricate knotted pattern. He remained silent
ly contemplating his reply. In a flash of anger Thorne barked, “Answer me damn it!”
lifted his gaze and softly spoke, defiance frosting his tone, “I didn’t fail my mission. I chose not to carry it out.”
“Marcus, Marcus, Marcus I can understand failure, I can. Operations go bad, things happen, but what I can’t understand is how the best operative
this program has ever produced just one day out of the blue, refuses to carry out a mission.” He pulled his large leather chair out and sat down.
Marcus stared at Thorne, his steel grey eyes burning with hatred
. “Look you bastard, you wanted me to kill innocent children, and for what political gain?”
back in his chair, “When an operative starts questioning the motives of his command it becomes clear that he has forgotten the food chain.” Thorne paused to lean forward again, “Let me remind you how it goes.” He held up his hand, “See, this is me at the top,” Thorne exaggerated the demonstration as he brought his hand down onto the desk with a resounding slap, then he continued, “And this is you on the bottom, are we clear?”
Marcus was neither impressed nor intimidated by h
is little display. He stood across the desk from Thorne with a blank look on his face. Thorne read his expression, “Apparently not, so let me explain it to you this way. You kill whoever you’re told to kill! You don’t get to choose the targets nor do you get to choose whether the mission’s motives fit with your newfound rules of morality. Jesus, Marcus when did you go and grow conscience?”
Marcus looked at Thrones hard face, “Oh I don’t know, maybe it was when you ordered me to kill children!”
“Damn it Marcus! You are like a son to me and this creates a major problem for me. Your newfound morality interferes with your ability to get your job done, and I can’t have that. I need my number one star out there doing his fucking job!”
Marcus spat out
, “God damn it Thorne! I’m a human being, not a fucking machine you can just program and let lose!”
Thorne leaned forward and looked over the wide mahogany desk
, “Now you get this through your thick skull. You are nothing more, nothing less than the finely tuned weapon that we manufactured to kill. I don’t know where you have been getting these grand ideas that you are like the masses out there. No, you’re no more human than my desk here. You have no parents, no family, no one to love you except me, and more importantly no one out there to miss you. Basically, you don’t exist! You’re merely an asset of this organization, nothing more,” he said returning Marcus’ cold hard gaze.
Marcus shifted his feet, “
You say I’m not human, so what? Okay I was conceived in a test tube and I’ll grant I didn’t have what you would call a normal childhood. But that doesn’t change the fact that I feel, I bleed and I have nightmares just like any other human being.”
His statement made Thorne’s eyebrow rise slightly, “So that’
s what this is all about? You can’t hack it psychologically?”
Marcus shook his head,
“What? No, it has nothing to do with that. I have killed only because I was made to. But you, you kill for fun, money, or for whatever reason sounds good to you that day. Some of the others around here, you know the non-tube babies like Jane here, they have on occasion commented that those of us who uncle Thorne created were somehow made without a soul. It may be true of some of your creations, but not me. You on the other hand seem to have a hole where your soul should be. I think that if you really wanted a sociopathic killing machine you should have just cloned yourself!”
Thorne sat back in his chair, “Ah, I see. You think I’m a monster. One who would kill children to achieve my goals?”
“Well if the monster feet fit.” Marcus was getting bored with the conversation. “Look you told me my whole life that we were doing important work. We were chosen to save the human race from its self. That we were going to bring about a new world, a new government, one that was better, one that would never need people like us. I never had a problem with killing people who needed it, people who stood in the way of that better world, but children Thorne? How do innocent children pose any threat to the grand new plan that I have been killing to bring about?” Marcus was losing his temper. “So all that crap about doing important work, what was it all lies?”
Thorne crossed his legs underneath the desk, “Marcus, what you fail to understand is that I am a professional. I
really don’t care about the politics or beliefs of those who pay me. I do my job and I do it well. It is not up to me to determine who must die or why. Those who pay the bills make those decisions. So if a few children end up on the target list what do I care?”