Part II Sojourn

Four Years Later.

A single figure cloaked in the long shadows of dying light watched from the bow of the Dragon Ship as twilight settled over the water. The Marmara Sea ushered Gloria and the ship’s captain passed the Maiden’s Tower islet and into the maw of the Bosphorus Strait. Their fate waited across the Black Sea thirty-two kilometers ahead. 

The region was well known to her captain; Raul, a Romanian man whose love she had never relinquished. She thought of him now up there in the blacked out bridge of the ship. The constant pain of self doubt vanished in his arms. Shivers raced across her chest and arms as she recalled his wild passion played out on her body like a virtuoso in his grand finale.

They set sail from A illa de Arousa located on the northwest coast of Spain. The distant port of embarkation was necessary to ensure their security and throw off anyone on their tail. The ship made way through the straits of Gibraltar; a giant sentinel of stone, and navigated the Alboran Sea passed Malta into Gloria’s beloved Mediterranean. They sailed north through the isles of Greece and the narrow Gallipoli channel and headed straight for the Bosphorus. Gloria couldn’t remember a mission that started off so romantic as this one. 

She hoped it was her last mission in the Cybrid War. She wanted to sail in her captain’s arms until her life’s energy was spent.

* * *

A faint glow hovered above the water. The ancient structures of Constantinople blended with more modern buildings of Istanbul in the distance. A growl drifted across the channel and echoed off the boats tugging at their anchors in the wake of a black ship with red trim snaking its way through the night. 

The moon and stars were hidden from view and failed to illuminate the sleek shape of the ship as it cut through the water throwing off a bioluminescent glow at the bow from the agitated plankton. The ink-black clouds above provided the shield of darkness the ship needed for its nefarious mission.

Up ahead, the Bosphorus bridge was all aglow with blue lighted towers and a roadway that glittered with gold from the streetlights. The captain held one hand on the joystick and the other on the control panel. The instrument panel lit up a bearded face with deep-set black eyes, a broad nose and lips scarred by countless fights. He looked out at the figure on the deck. The muted light shining out from the bridge above reflected off Gloria’s pale skin.

Gloria held on to the rail and looked out at the darkness, motioning to change speed or course to the captain, guiding him through the dark. His surface radar danced with noise reflections from the bluffs of the narrow strait and other vessels. The clutter on the display made his radar and sonar almost worthless. Years of experience kept him from turning them off even though he trusted the Praetorian on his bow.

Strict discipline ruled his life, but he’d be damned if he could keep the ghosts of memories from entering his mind. The captain thought about how Gloria looked and felt when they were young. Now, his hair was more grey than black. She didn’t look like she aged much since he made love to her years ago. How he missed those days. Now, here she was again. Getting reacquainted on the way reminded the captain how much he still loved her. Raul calculated in his mind how he could rekindle their affair as he watched for signals to go left or right, slow down, speed up. Damn, she was good on the bow of his ship and in the captain’s bed.

The breeze created by the ship’s progress toward the Black Sea chilled Gloria’s synthesized skin. She ignored the nip of night air and sought to gain a steady footing in the well of the bow instead. Gloria, sensing nothing to lose, had submitted herself to every genetic slice and endoskeleton improvement that came from the Dragon’s biomedical lab. She had created a body that kept her looking young. It wasn’t enough. It didn’t give back all she’d lost. It was an illusion that served her well.

The senior Dragon Sentinel watched the shipping lane and fumed at the thought she was more Cybrid than the ones she hunted. She had become one of them, an advanced copy. The irony of her fate wasn’t lost on her. If not for the technology that created the Cybrids, she would be dead, which she thought was a kinder fate than the one she lived.

The binoculars held to her eyes cast a white hue to everything she surveyed. The red laser dot from the lens floated in her vision as time and distance readings counted down in the viewer. The boat weaved its way through the channel passing military vessels, container ships, and fishing boats. Gloria continued to point and call for course corrections. Raul executed his orders without question. The same way he always had.

The rush of air across Gloria’s skin registered in her mind. It was freedom from the strange feel of heavy clothes and armor she frequently wore on such missions. She preferred the freedom of her bikini so feminine and sensual. Her synthetic skin flooded her with tactile feedback. She needed to feel that, she thought. Besides, she had to know her endo, as she called it, was working at optimum levels, and this was the best way to test it. Too bad she couldn’t go like this all the time, she mused with a sultry smile.

Gloria held her position through the night as they made their way across the Black Sea to Georgia looking for a stretch of wooded shore north of Poti. The sun came up illuminating the stern of the boat in a band of crimson like a splash of blood from the flailing wrist of the Titaness Eos, Goddess of the Dawn.

Raul watched with tired eyes as Gloria lifted a cushion and took out one of his old t-shirts from the storage bin and slipped it over her head. The tail hung just below the curve of her bottom filling his mind with an unforgotten hunger. The sunlight wafting through the clouds gave her skin a dark red hue with yellow-brown highlights like wheat reflecting the sun on a wind-blown field. He watched as she made her way to him with cat-like agility.

Raul opened the door to the pilot house and let her in. Gloria wrapped her arms around him and pressed her body against his. She nestled her face against his chest feeling his warmth after a long night in the chill air. The Sentinel inhaled a deep breath and purred like someone enjoying a long awaited meal. For a moment, he hesitated before he allowed the door to close. Raul ran his hands under the cotton t-shirt feeling the smooth skin of her back.

“Thank you, Raul. You did an excellent job.”

“It was your expert navigation that got us here so quick, my love. Normally it isn’t a good idea to navigate these waters at night.”

“That is why I wanted us to do it at night. The world sleeps, and we sneak past them.”

“Well, I think we are a great pair of sneakers.”

Gloria laughed at Raul’s play on words. He pulled her closer and kissed the top of her head.

“Why don’t you put the boat on autopilot and let’s grab a few hours of sleep. We’ll need to be fresh when we hit the coast tonight.” Gloria spoke in her smoky alto voice that made Raul forget his age.

“I’m going below to freshen up and go to bed. You should do the same; you smell like diesel oil, cigarettes, and day old sex.”

“Yes, my love. I guess too much time has passed. I’d forgotten what we smelled like together.”

“Gloria glanced over her shoulder and retorted, “hurry up and we can make some fresh memories.”

Raul programmed in the course and speed settings. He turned on the anti-collision system and made his way down the steps to the captain’s suite. He could hear the shower running and a faint melody as he undressed. She still sings in the shower like before; he chuckled. I must be doing something right.

33 thoughts on “March of the Cybrids-15

  1. Just finished reading all the posts up to this one and re-read this also. If this is the same Gloria, as I recall she was a human Dragon so in love with Peter she violated her orders and did her best to kill Mariah. She was shot in the throat, nearly died and was rebuilt with an exoskeleton but now she seems to remember always having been in love with Raul, in fact, having lived with him or travelled with him as his lover. Did they alter her memories when they made her into a Cybrid? Does she remember being human, or did I miss something again?

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    1. Wow! You really put yourself through a Dragon binge here, Sha’Tara. I do appreciate it. In the first part Peter and Gloria part ways and Gloria is sent to an island off the southern tip of Korea where she lives with other Dragon Praetorians. Peter promises her she’ll be taken care of. After a couple of years Peter finally goes to a Mariah and they eventually wed which was the Dragon Masters’ big plan to breed Cybrids with Dragons thus carrying forward an Uber human. Valeriya is born to Peter and Mariah and we skip ahead to Val being 21 years old and joining the Praetorian Guard, the same elite unit Gloria belongs to. Next we jump ahead again to Gloria meeting Val in a secret mission to end the Cybrid war. So basically more than two decades have passed since Gloria and Mariah fought each other. I allude to Gloria and Raul’s previous missions together where they became lovers and now after many years, they both want to finish this mission and retire to a life together. Of course, Gloria has undergone many changes physically using gene enhancement and biomechanical upgrades. Spoiler alert! All of Gloria’s enhancements were provided by the research done by Mariah and Jon. Irony at it’s best, no? Gloria is as much a Cybrid as the ones she fights and to think she was bred and trained to protect the Dragon aristocracy as a Dragon Sister/warrior against the rebel Cybrids, even engaging in combat with them is also an irony to her. The conflict within Gloria is what must be overcome for her to finally accept herself and chose a gentle life with the only other man she has loved after she was discarded by those she swore her life to. This story will show that both sides are neither totally evil or totally good. There is no sin too grave in the name of war and love when it comes to human nature. My themes and writing methods often stray from conventional good story telling. I suck basically, but for some reason I feel compelled to do this and I think it has a lot to do with atonement for my past. It’s difficult to awaken after many decades to realize one possibly wasted an entire life on an ideology and personal philosophy that is meaningless and even outdated. By showing how this happens to millions of young men and women and what they endure to finally come to a reckoning that is a crossroad to obliteration or redemption with no road signs to help with the proper choice is what this and many of my stories address. At some point my subconscious will slap my consciousness in the face and tell me to move on and I will.

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      1. This helps a great deal to clarify the threads in the story, as in, creating one story out of a patchwork of short stories, IMO.
        Quote: “The conflict within Gloria is what must be overcome for her to finally accept herself and chose a gentle life with the only other man she has loved after she was discarded by those she swore her life to.” She had loved another man, Peter, and she wasn’t actually discarded. She could have been executed and probably should have been for insubordination and attempted murder. She had been warned not to bother Mariah and in fact her duty was, as of that order, to protect the Cybrid. Her personal jealousy got her to violate her Dragon oath. If she wasn’t so closed minded, able only to think in selfish terms of black and white, she should be reminiscing on the fact that it was thanks to her “rejectors” and her imagined Cybrid enemy that she is not only alive but in great shape, both as a human and a Cybrid. I guess she lacks the ability to indulge in honest introspection and give credit where it is due. Perhaps after the mission, if she survives it and she interacts with Valeriya, she may have to admit that to herself. It’s the only way she can free herself and have a good life with Raul, if that’s in the cards.
        Well, over all, it’s a good story. I apologize if you notice my “reluctance” to engage the romantic stuff. Romance is in the same boat as religion to me: binder dundat, don’t work! 🙃

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        1. Yes indeed! You pretty much have it exactly as it has to be. Many lack the ability to see their own guilt in something and when punishment comes, they transfer that guilt to others. This is even more prevalent in people with regimented minds due to training and the requirement to conform. Part of Gloria’s overcoming her feelings is to see the situation from that other perspective. This often takes time but it is the first step in healing. Ah, that romance stuff. This story has a lot of it but you can skip it. Nothing happens new under the sun in that department. Maybe I should have the Cybrids interpretation of love and romance based on exchanging mathematical formulas for complex problems. Teenagers can only do algebra but adults have the full spectrum of math skills based on loving impulses like statistics or geometry. For the kinky ones, there is always discrete polynomials. I think that’s just something else the editors can beat me up with.

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            1. I actually do have a couple of editors that rip me to shreds but they agree that I have to actually write a story before they can edit it. So, here I am in the raw with butt warts and belly button lint that needs some professional intervention. With regard to the romance scenes, I should caution not to try these things at home.

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      2. Quote: “At some point my subconscious will slap my consciousness in the face and tell me to move on and I will.” Keep filing away at those jail bars and eventually they will weaken enough to make an escape!

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        1. I am hard headed and persistent. I just have to focus on filing the bars not adding more. I do get turned around on occasion. Filing the time away on the bars sounds more relaxing tho.

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  2. Hey Mister! The colors you paint are spectacular during their voyage, and the inner thoughts of Gloria and Raul are yummy. Love their playfulness. The pair of sneakers joke made me snort – you haven’t lost your touch! 😉 It’s also interesting reading how Gloria actually feels (physically) being part human, part Cybrid now. The sensations.

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    1. I’m so glad you are enjoying this rewritten story Lauren! This is a twisted tale of redemption for our characters, earned with great difficulty. I’m glad you have zeroed in on the key parts of Gloria’s inner conflict, which Raul seems to help her overcome. Those two are made for each other. I do believe they have a thing for each other that may just save them both.

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  3. I’ve read this piece and have to admit, the story part makes no sense. I have to “make time” (maybe this weekend???) to read up on what this Cybrid war is all about; for that matter what these Cybrids are all about… then we’ll see. The descriptive part of the writing is right up there though. Please be careful not to get carried away with that: some is good, too much and you lose your readers as they drown in the details. Watch out for purple prose, Daniel.

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    1. Hi Sha’Tara! Yes this chapter is a big swing away from the first part which is actually a prelude to the bigger picture in part II. Definitely not a stand alone piece. Thanks for the warning on the purple prose. I am chastised often by my editors but then, it’s far easier to cut out bad parts than add in good parts for me. Thankfully, I can write in a lean way but my head elves get bored. It’s a struggle to find that good spot and roll with it.

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  4. The hero’s journey begins. Your talent at descriptive settings and romance is second to none, and, in fact, reminds me of the prose of G.R.R. Martin, who you know from the wildly successful Game of Thrones. Your tale has all the classic elements of a hit series…romance, travel, war… I can feel that salty sea breeze slapping across my own skin as I sit on the bow of this boat with you. Raul is still walking down memory lane as he sails this ship, but snap to it sailor! That Gloria still has the fresh skin–thanks to Cyrbid technology–that your remember from years ago. Your hair may be more gray than black, but Gloria still hungers for you….get to it, man…get to it. An ageless love is what all our hearts desire as we watch our own bodies fade. Hype, you make the hair on the back of my neck tingle…

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    1. Thank you my friend, this is what I hope for in these chapters. Youngsters think once we get past 39 that we just wither and die or contribute to the multi-billion dollar adult diaper industry but no, passion and desire with experience and knowledge can make for some real lovin’ and not that jack rabbit hammer trick over in three minutes. No, drawing from the wells of pleasure in slow and steady measures results in a far better elixir of love. Add some mystery and danger and you have a recipe for bonds that nothing can break.

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      1. 30…once we get past thirty…that’s what youngster’s think. Don’t you recall? “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” When did it get bumped up to 39? Did I miss that memo? Keep drawing on that elixir of love Hype, and show these kids what it’s really all about. Great writing.

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        1. LOL 😂. 30 is the new 20 so 39 is now 29 biologically and mentally. One year short of falling off the cliff of doom. Of course another strange demographic is the age group with the highest percentage of erectile dysfunction is the 20 to 30 range and the age group with the most copious amounts of erectile functioning is mine and your age group. We own the Emperor’s golden lance now. Thus, Gloria has nothing to worry about. We got her backside covered.

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  5. Gloria seems to be none worse for wear having recovered, yet four years later the Cybrid war continues. An exciting chapter Dan, adventure on the high seas and romance, passion, and intrigue. What awaits them at their destination, will they safely reach it? wonderful wonderful sage Dan. Love every word of it.

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    1. Alrighty! Thank you Rene. So glad this new twist is holding on. It gets more complex now in the intrigue and emotional twists and turns. Isn’t it odd that Gloria was taking all of Mariah’s discoveries in bioscience to replace her damaged neuro-system as a result of her attack on Mariah. What a strange twists of fate that Gloria is a better Cybrid than the Cybrids. Well, at least she is supporting the combining of human and Cybrid now and it’s the remote population of Cybrids resisting. It’s hard to keep up with all this chaos born out of a simple breeding program. 😱

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            1. We certainly skipped some reflections to the past and some build up but that didn’t move us forward fast enough to keep the readers from giving up and going out for pizza. So we skipped the slow parts and got back into the action.

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          1. I remember this from the original draft.

            Gloria and Raul sailing to the Black Sea.

            The same area of the world where Jason and the Argonauts ventured.

            Your references to Eos Goddess of The Dawn hearken back to that ancient age.

            As if the war between Cybrid and Dragon is a cosmic replay of that earlier war between Titan and Olympian.

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            1. Thank you Chris. I did make some minor tweaks to this scene but I always liked it. I’m glad you got the reference to the ancient Greeks. I used to slip them in whenever possible. You’ll recognize a lot of the following chapters and I do hope you find them improved over the last edition.

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