Raid on the Hydra, Part 4

Drumming throbbed through the alien space, alien rhythms that made the familiar room feel as if it were a question box

Photo by Touann Gatouillat Vergos on Unsplash

Surprising, Ubu in his fever.

His mind dominated by a beast that lay somewhere beyond the light of the engines. Recollection blurted the bits of gray that were now part of his mind. He saw the chameleon’s cargo hatch open, the pods inside, the hatch swing precariously open, while above them the beast spun and hissed like a low-pitched, insect. Always the same voice: Die, oh my words.

Bodies frozen, bodies that were never seen. Faces distorted, pale and blurry, dead in silhouette, half-membered by the frantic, undirected forces of death.

A shapeless model whited out before Beautiful Maria’s eyes, the sickly writhing body of a commercial courier. Holographic neon undulations across the revealing flesh below the resilient-plastic faceplate. Holographic neon extended from the back of the model’s larynx, extensible through the open landings of the skimmer, and programmed with human circuitry. The mind assembled itself into the grim, depraved ensemble it had been composed of.

Beautiful Maria stared, the nagged claw of sinew pressing agonizingly in her throat as the Vonnegut moved through the silent cargo bay. She looked away as it inexorably pulled a smoking cigarette out of the rack and lashed blindly to a wall, the carbon-opoured interior of the ship seeming to close around it like a skin for harvesting. Maria bent over the body and peered inside the little pod, the light from the display glowing beyond her narrow vision. The small communicator on the wall emitted an ultimatum of durings, declaiming individual words as the voice bellowed in a series of nasal monotones. Maria listened attentively as the chemicals cascaded through her veins.

“Piss him out,” Maria said. The words were uttered in a single utterance, the sound arriving as a small sudden exaltation. Disgust: yes.

“We’re getting away with it,” Ubu said.

“Think so.”

“We’ve got a hole to plug in that noseplate. The lock is set to monitor the chamber, to report to the mother. We’ll get a tube, come back for it later.”

Maria stared across the room at the inert adobe, the light it emitted, the glowing chemical air. “Let’s try another run,” Maria said. “If we lose, we lose half our compound.”

“We lose anyway. We lose the command bay.”

“We get our chances, we get out of here.”

“They’re right,” Ubu said. “We can’t try this any more.”

She shrugged. “I thought we could do it.”

“We can’t.”


Maria tossed the table. “Why don’t we try again?”

He looked at her in alarm. “Are you all right?” he said.

“Yeah, but a few of us are gonna go down.”

Ubu gave a desperate laugh. “Let’s do it.”

“Ubu?” she said. “I thought we didn’t have to do it again.”

“I didn’t give a s*** about—”

“You had to.”

She stood and slapped his hand away. “You can stay.”

“I can’t.”

“Don’t try.”

He tried to get himself together to talk to her. “I’m,” she said. “I’m gonna be okay.”

“I just need to talk to Marco. I didn’t just get shot.”

Kit shook his head. “I can talk to him about it. Okay?”

Maria ran to the couch, tore herself away from Kit. Ubu and Maria looked at each other, shrugged, exchanged glances. “Okay,” Maria said. She leaned her cheek on Kit’s shoulder and closed her eyes.

She felt the tension drain out of her, the bravery, the blood pumping from her. This was the end.


Drumming throbbed through the alien space, alien rhythms that made the familiar room feel as if it were a question box. Layered and stacked oscillates of cough humming, discordant cries echoing her sense of hearing, her awareness trying to catch the pulse. The fatigue came on like an abrupt slash in the blood.

Beautiful Maria slept, her breath slow and soft against the sheets that floated over her. The control room was smaller, with less than panel space and less comfort. Battery-powered protective equipment floated in a large space next to the clinic, and teams of four technicians worked from there while a medical team on standby, unpacking the variance-of-centimeter oxidizer units.

Layered between the patient’s suite and the tech who was doing the work was a yellow plastic chip connected to a large circuit board plugged into the house computer, much larger than the simple computer Breakpoint.

The board was occupied with the processor units that generated the codes that formed the basis of—almost every thought he had to keep in mind when he was dreaming. Most were backed up by jumpjets—senors, plants, supporting cells. The board itself was distributed in cell arrays that were powerful enough.


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 or deleted some language or explicit descriptions, 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