It was supposedly safe to breathe aboard the alien vessel, but a lot of the soldiers weren’t taking the risk. David didn’t blame them; he kept his helmet on as well.
After men rounded up the surviving aliens in the bridge, the alien commander, Elendil, made it clear he wanted to take David somewhere. He wouldn’t shut up, so eventually David agreed to go, leaving Tanner in charge and taking a few men along just in case. Tanner told him to watch his back, and continued to oversee the disarming of the alien defenders. The floor of the bridge was covered in a red and white lake of blood. He noticed that he was bleeding. His blood dripped down and splashed into a tributary of white alien blood. He looked at it; the drops didn’t mix.
His thoughts turned over the battle he’d just fought. He’d been fighting all his life; he’d killed plenty of people, seen a lot of things he wished he hadn’t, but nothing unhinged him like the alien he’d decapitated. It wasn’t the violence of it. He was raised on violence. It was what the alien did to his mind, how it took control of his emotions. It violated him. That made Tanner angrier than anything else that happened that day. Tanner looked at the ground again, and saw the islands of red floating amongst the white ocean. If he didn’t know where those islands came from, he could almost call the scene striking.
After a short walk, David’s group came to a door guarded by two aliens. The commander knocked and the door opened, allowing him to pass through. The group moved to enter, but after David was let inside, the guards suddenly growled, dropping their staffs in between him and his entourage.
His men raised their rifles, but David quickly halted them with a raised hand. “Stand down! I’ll be fine,” he promised, patting his Hellblazer for emphasis. He turned and entered the chamber, the door closing behind him. The room was poorly lit; most of it was shrouded in impenetrable shadow, but David could sense he was being watched from all sides. In the middle of the room, the only illuminated area, sat the alien commander. David finally took the time to examine his counterpart.
Its pale ivory armour was heavily decorated with swirling gold patterns, and the helmet it now wore was extravagant in its size and adornment. Both the armour and the helmet looked to be at least partially constructed out of plated bone. Its thick arms were bare, exposing its rippling muscles and elaborate tattoos mimicking the patterns on its armour. It sat cross-legged, holding a bowl of burning plants to its nose. When David approached, it removed its helmet and fixed its dark purple eyes on him. Two long pointed ears poked out from behind its long, dirty blonde dreadlocks. Space elves, David thought to himself and had to suppress a smile.
It gestured for David to sit on a mat, and then offered him the bowl. David reluctantly removed his helmet and an overwhelming odour assailed him. It wasn’t unpleasant; it was just so pungent that for a moment, David reeled. He realized it was the herb being burnt that was giving off this smell, and the alien commander was telling him to inhale it.
David examined the bowl. “This better not end up like that time I tried Lumex in high school...” The creature in front of him didn't react. With a sigh, David squeezed his eyes shut and sucked in a lungful of the spicy smoke. When he was done coughing, he heard a slight huffing and to his surprise, saw the commander chuckling at his discomfort. An almost familiar sensation came over David as whatever chemicals in the smoke entered his system, and took their effect on his body.
“Did... Did I just get high?” he asked.
“By ‘high’ you mean intoxicated,” a voice said. “I suppose this is the closest word you have to describe what you feel. However, I know what you feel without your words.”
David looked closely at the creature in front of him. The creature stared back. His face, not unlike a human face, remained utterly static even as David clearly heard him speak. “Now I know I’m high,” David remarked.
YOU ARE READING
The Road to HellScience Fiction
When David Stern has to hunt down humanity's most dangerous terrorist, he finds out the hard way that sometimes saving the day means destroying everything else.