Raid on the Hydra, Part I

The Hydra was in flames, whiskey-dark black, swollen with gushed flame, fog rising above the ship

Photo by Touann Gatouillat Vergos on Unsplash

Frost’s mouth twisted into a hard line. “Too busy sometimes, Jack?”

In Frost’s right hand was a slender and unusually large revolver, its barrel extending over the moon-flecked arm of the pilot’s seat. Frost’s left hand was on a land-island somewhere near the surface of the crater. They were getting close to the edge. The ship was unstable again, started to shake every minute and was running straight down the flame, thickly visible from the ship’s hull.

Miranda glanced past Frost to the right, saw TJ’s hawk nose dip. Her heart went cold.

The Hydra was in flames, whiskey-dark black, swollen with gushed flame, fog rising above the ship, the ship’s chaos spilled around it, the wind sucking the smoke inward. The other ships were ripping up and tossing large, black chunks of rock and wreckage, leaving frost-stained areas where the soldiers had tried to shield the ship. The Kroodinn was out of control, rocking like a reptile being thrashing in the waters. Its APS-101 assault rifle and heat-rifles spat fire toward the Skytrain. The armor was in flames, scores of heat-rifles fired into the atmosphere— and some bullets had struck it as well. It was already rotten beyond repair.

The other ships were in trouble too. With the firepower and pressure in the cockpit, Maria could kill the other eight in thirty seconds—and no one would disagree to that.

She kicked Frost through the doorway and rammed the airlock panel with the butt of her rifle.

A good pair of skaters had found a shortcut through the metal ruin, running toward the station in boots studded with bites and claw marks. The Kroodinn was strafing them with salvos from its guns. She wondered if anyone besides the surviving pilots had seen any. She pointed her binoculars at the sky. Then she upped the firing limit on her rifle, turned to Ubu, and kicked both his feet out of the way.

In the silence that followed, Maria heard the krummphese, the sound he made in his throat. Hours had passed since she’d last spoken to him. She’d slept only a few hours the night before, after, and her throat hurt only in response to a throbbing pain in her chest.

Ubu staggered on his way to the to the commissary. His face was still numb from the kick in the chest. Feeling it still hurt, she headed for the ladder to ride back to her cabin.


Maria’s head throbbed. She was bruised and slow, still sick from Kit’s punch in the shoulder. Then she felt a harsh fever of envy.

In almost the same vein, Ubu murmured a thanks and shook his head. “I’m not gonna be somebody’s mother,” he said. “I’m just somebody.”

“It’s the same thing.” Maria regretted the words even as she thought them on her own, as she wondered if Kit had changed so much that he no longer fit through the station and would never be able to do anything else but drift back to the same little planet he’d known,, inhabiting with only a limited party of brothers and sisters.

Ubu was a different sort of family, Maria thought, than the family she’d expected to be and here was something else.

“We should call it Twelve,” she said. “Be already. We can call it Ubu, or whatever we want.”

Ubu turned off the commissary switchboard and pushed open the heavy steel door, his voice still acid-edged with its rustle of cement and styrofoam. He forced his way through the triplelocked corridor to Runaway’s armory, took the drawstring sleeves Roon had made there, brushed titanium-alloy plates, opened drawstring sleeves over them. He had picked up a small tool kit of every material he could find. It looked complicated, but he didn’t think it was. He used the power of his two computers to sort it out.

It was two in the morning. Maria was having some water in the small bathroom, filling bulb Heat II canisters over the appliances. Kit had already left to load the ship. Maria looked at the treaty and thought about some of the stuff she hadn’t bothered to sell, then thought about what Ubu would need to buy.

Chutes. She knew how Ubu’s walked through the cargo area, knew how he’d walked the office of the lawyer since Omea’s Maria was having some water in the small bathroom, filling bulb Heat II canisters over the appliances. Kit had already left to load the ship. Maria looked at the treaty and thought about some of the stuff she hadn’t bothered to sell, then thought about what Ubu would need to buy.

Maria remembered her late nights spent beside Omea on the single-lane drive to Domino. How Ubu was sitting there by himself in the bar while the lawyer continued in his endless recital of legal points, the lawyer’s repetitious verbal updates patchwork with absurd, cutting remarks. Maria had curled up in her bunk and listened with half a mind to the lawyer’s monologue, his infinite point-rate flyer’s grammar. When Domino was finally dissolved into the painting— a sandblasted landscape of lightless sand colored to match the textures of the ship, dark desert sandstone blocks and flared red ringed ringed heat-shield mirrors— Maria had spent two hours under the space loader, her mind swimming as she imagined the Eullen Sphere rumbling down upon her, the single warpail thrashing its way across the desert as the dinosaurs walked the length of the drylands and out into cold desert— the cold was driving all her fears and terrors out of her.

Curtis had never seemed to make her homesick, she was just in case now she’d have to spend the rest of her life traveling.

Somewhere in Maria’s mind was an image of some other woman, flesh glinting in the old film star gaze. Women were hard on the electrical brain, and women had it so easy. They didn’t have to deal with people, and men didn’t have to know what they were doing or where they were going. Any of them could get stranded in their lanes, caught in their pattern, and bolt for the upside. The image was just a ghost of Maria’s look, a vision of how Maria had felt, how she’d looked when Kit was around her, how her mind had lain folded in Siberia and frozen, bringing life to a feverish climax.

Maria slumped back against the sheet, her hands still in her pockets. She saw the gridwork of her impending visit, the synchronicity track running through her mind, sending out orders to the nearest ships, the misshapen blimp cometary miners and the one-hundred-watt holodis in Marco’s factory, the warm crush of humanity around the bulblike nests of the new mining mines.

The patterns that burned themselves to the grid were the patterns that packed her ship.

Feterer curves flashed in Maria’s vision as she watched the sudden panic cooking up in Kit’s blood, the dopplers trembling to the base of his skull and a hot wind of noise and terror.

—Tang to stardom. I’m up there, he told her. And everything else is a part of him.

A sudden thought stopped her: None of this is real. Not for her.

Maria pushed it out and threw the thought away. The memory came as suddenly as if it was a tidal surge, a white-hot dusting of everything she’d ever known, and the patterns weren’t patterns at all, they were things that were already happening.


The pattern and the chaos flashed in Maria’s mind, the pattern on the lounge screen flashing to life, reality in a flutter, as if someone had tried to take it from her.

The cell door slid open. Maria stepped inside, trying to force her thoughts into the wash of sensation. This was nothing more than a rough split-second snapshot, and as far as Maria knew it hadn’t happened yet, hadn’t even been yet appropriate for the emergency circumstances she was trying to describe.

She gave a long breath and raised her hand to the door. Pain stabbed her eyes and she heard the door’s metal latch begin to turn.

Maria’s fingers gripped the doorknob with metal claws. It was hard to bend her arms—hard as nails, rough as glass—and Maria didn’t have nails, but there were still hard things in her mind that would hold down her heart, that would keep her breathing and supply blood, and her lungs would be filled with iron.

She didn’t have a place to go.

She didn’t have tried to take it from her.

She didn’t have anything—anything—to do with the pain and the fear. The pain and the fear weren’t compatible.

Unending pain poured from her mind. Her lungs ached, and her teeth ached, and she felt her soul devouring her body.

She was alone here. Maria couldn’t help it. There was no room in her mind for the agony and the fear. This was her body, illuminated by the flashing white light of the laboratory. The samples were long gone. She felt the touches of the electron world. The electron world was penetration, the penetration of radiation. She was smashed, and an invading darkness.

The electronic network that had fenced her in knew this; it was part of the network that was draining her, and it was powerful. Beautiful Maria had to reach for some private place, her own primitive room that she had ripped out of the heavy steel wall of the ship, abandoned by the storm of the Clot.

It was simple. Shoot the mother****er.


Editor’s Notes

I created a new generation script that automatically feeds the last bit of each generation into the next, with the same settings, otherwise, over and over until it completes the total length I asked for. This makes pretty long stories now, so all parts of the “Raid on the Hydra” story are from the same text generation. I bumped the top_k up quite a bit. I’d not tried it over 80 before, but this seemed to work all right this time.


I removed some sections that repeated text it already had. I censored some language, to keep the audience age wider for the story than otherwise.

GPT-2 Settings
  "return_as_list": true,
  "include_prefix": false,
  "length": 1024,
  "top_k": 5000,
  "top_p": 0.9,
  "truncate": "<|endoftext|>",
  "temperature": 1.0,
  "run_name": "model-cyberpunk-run1",
  "prefix": "",
  "nsamples": 1