Edie stares, guts clenching at the sight of her X-rays. Her ribs glow a phosphorescent blue against the black of the background. She tries to distract herself from the shadow, tries to look away, to look her bones over: there’s the sternum, there’s the pelvis, the clavicles, all in perfect clarity. The edges of the bones are rendered in a detail so hard-edged as to be undeniable. Around them, like translucent clouds are the altogether more indistinct shapes of her organs, the same hazy blue of old cigar smoke.
Her heart, though. The thing around it’s as clear as bone, clenched like a fist with eight fingers. Even with the suggestion from her memory-dream, she hadn’t been expecting this.
The body of the thing is flat; looking at it side on, it can’t be more than maybe a couple of centimetres across. From the front, though, the hard abdomen and smooth thorax nearly cover her heart. Its eight hard limbs, each nearly as thick as a fingerbone, encircle the organ completely, holding it in a choke. She looks at where the head of the thing should be, but the X-ray becomes vague and indistinct. It becomes impossible to tell where the organ ends and where the…
“What is that?” asks Veronica, her hard voice grown harder.
“Get it out of me,” says Edie.
“That is hybrot countermeasure number twenty-three seven omega, designation ‘Serdtsepauka’,” replies the Friendly Robot to Veronica. “Developed by Project Kraken in nineteen-eighty-nine, the Serdtsepauka is a hybrot countermeasure, genetically engineered from the genus Atrax Robustus. It ensures complicity of prisoners, subjects of extraordinary rendition, and captured enemy combatants. Standard practise involves surgical implantation of the Serdtsepauka into the recipient over the course of a three hour operation. Grafted directly into the cardiac muscle, the Serdtsepauka is then sustained for the rest of its life by the bloodstream of the host organism.
“In the event of prisoner non-compliance, operators may then deploy the Serdtsepauka through the use of electronic signals sent wirelessly to proprietary systems embedded in the countermeasure’s nervous system. These induces a variety of effects on the host, ranging from simple palpitations, to cardiac events, to – should the operator desire – death.”
“Get it out of me,” says Edie, her voice rising.
“I’m working on it, mate,” says Veronica with mild desperation. “How do we get it out of her?”
“Post-implantation extraction is not advised.”
“Get it out of me,” says Edie, her voice becoming shrill.
“Edie, calm down,” says Jacintha, who’s not sounding too calm herself.
“Get it out of me!” screams Edie, finally dropping all pretence at control. “Get it out of me, get it out of me, get it out of me!”
Then Jacintha’s fist crashes into her face and the world rolls over into blackness.
The second part of YorkNecromancer’s debut novel series a qlippothic engine will be available for download and in paperback from April 2nd, 2017. Beta Sequence: OSTROV picks up where the first novel left off, moving the series into altogether darker, more horrifying waters. For those readers who haven’t yet encountered this landmark series, the opening chapters of the first novel Alpha Sequence: DEREVNYA can be enjoyed by clicking here. If you like that, why not follow these link to purchase it in either Kindle download or paperback? America readers should click here while British readers should click this link instead.