This is part of series that began with Kamikaze: Preface.  For a complete listing of the entire series click here.  All material is the property of the writer and cannot be reproduced without the authors written consent (and all the rest of that “please don’t take my work and make money off of it” stuff).

Chances are you don’t know me.  Chances are you have no idea what kind of world I live in.  Chances are that you’re reading this in some far away time and place that I’ll never know or understand.  All of this means I should give you a little introduction to the messed up world I live in so here it goes.

I guess it all started some two or three hundred years ago.  I’m pretty sure that’s about when folks first saw the damned things.  They just came up out of the ground like zombies in some B rated horror flick.  Or maybe it was more like earthworms after a good rain.  Either way that was the only thing we knew about the: the suckers came up out of the ground.

Some folks called them moles, like giving them a cute name would make them less terrible.  Others went with “monsters,” or “dragons.”  Truth is, everyone was too terrified to call them what they were which was demons.  I don’t care if you believe me or not, the truth’s the truth.  You can call a lion a pussy cat, but the sucker will still act like a lion and rip your head off.  Same thing with the demons.  Call them what you want, all they did was kill.

A whole generation of folks were born, grew up, and died knowing nothing but the war against them.  And make no mistake it was a war.  The stories say that a few times the armies of man held fast, took positions and kept them.  Sometimes for years.  But the stories also say, that we always fell back in the face of the Horde.  Poetic ain’t it?  “The Horde.”  Just made that up myself just now.

Right the story.

So we lose the war for earth.  Every nation that can scrap any semblance of people and technology together got together and formed the Final Coalition of Humanity and launched into space.  Some people colonize the moon.  A whole bunch of folks go out to the asteroid belt and set up mining colonies.  Some others set up ice farms on Mars.  Then you had the fourth group: the floaters.

They were the ones what didn’t care for any land but the green and blue left behind and decided to simply float in the black space.  I didn’t grow up knowing my folks.  Never knew my biological parents, a hazard of our little corner of the black.  My big sister made sure I was fed right and taught what needed knowing to get on in the black.

See me and mine, we float in the space between the moon and the earth.  Some people say we’re crazy, and they may be right.  Some people think we’re heroes and come up with all kinds of names for us like “Valkyire” or “Dragon slayers.”  We call ourselves The Kamikaze.

The Divine Wind.

And God as my witness we’ll take back what’s ours.

My name is Joshua Kemp, and this is how it happened.

Five ships floated in the space between the moon and the earth.  The Wind of the Sea, The Iceflow, The Sentinel, The Gate of Hope, and my home The Fist of Lightening.  I’m what’s called a second generation floater – means my old man was born on the ship the same as me.  My sister Anna’s four years older than me and never let’s me forget that when I was five our parents went down to earth to test the demons, but they never came back.

I suppose it’s a good thing that Kamikaze always took care of their own.  Didn’t matter if your parents were dead or alive, if your Pa was the one steering the boat or if your Ma was just a wreck picked up from a jail pod, when you were six years old (or orphaned, whichever came first) then you started working.  If you were orphaned like me and Anna were, you got to live in a special part of the ship.  We had our own rooms and all, and once a week one of the Officers would come down and check on us.

I’d be lying if I told you I remembered all this.  Truth is that most of it I’ve pieced together from what I’ve seen, and what others have told me about my own past.  My first real memory is the day I turned twelve.

If you had what it took, you were trained and raised up to fight.  It was a choice they made when the boys turned twelve.  Girls got tested when they got their first period so it changed for every girl.

I remember standing in line with four other boys my age. It was a bare room.  There was one way into the room and the wall we were all staring at was one giant sliding door.

We all knew what was behind that door, but we didn’t.  Not really.  A man walked in.  I later learned that it was the Captain himself.  Captain Patrick George, the first man to set foot back on earth after the evacuation.

“Boys,” he said.  “Good luck.”

He placed his hand on the giant door.  There was a hiss and a loud snap as the locks were released and the door rolled up with grinding slowness.

One of the boys passed out before the door completely opened.  Another one ran for the door pounding on it, begging to be let out as soon as he saw the feet.  For my part, I wasn’t scared of what I saw.  I should have been.  Make no mistake I absolutely should have been dropping a load in my pants while I fell on the floor crying for Mamma to come save me.

But I didn’t.

The beast was everything you could imagine.  It stood on two legs like a person, but it had scaly legs and talons instead of feet.  Two horns curled up and around from it’s head.  Eyes were barely slits that just burned.  A Mouthful of teeth.  It was chained around the neck, and its arms were shackled as well.  But it still raged and struggled against its chains.

“It’s not breathing.” I said.  It was all I could think of. Faced with the very epitome of terror, the thing of which all bad dreams are made, and the only thing I could think about was that it wasn’t breathing.”

But the captain just nodded.  He walked into the “cell” where the beast was and waved one hand through it.

“Apparently,” the Captain said.  “The Hologram is not as good as it used to be.”  He turned and looked at me and the other boy square in the eye.  “You two will receive training.”  Then he walked out.  Just like that.

If I had known the insane task that was waiting for me then, I very probably would have just kept my mouth shut.

Actually no, that’s not true.  I’ve never been able to keep my mouth shut.  Even if I had known what I was getting into I probably would have done the same.  Guess I’m just a glutton for punishment.

I’m not going to bore you with all the training involved with becoming a Kamikaze.  If you’re really interested I’m sure you can dig up a manual or something somewhere.  Really it’s just a lot of physical training and practice with the gear we would use in the field.  We knew very little if anything about our enemy so it’s not like we could spend time in the classroom learning about them.

In the middle of this, Anna died.  She committed suicide.  That was a tough point in my life.  I was thirteen.  I still remember he note exactly.

Dear Josh,

I know this is hard for you to understand.  But then again maybe not.  Just please remember it isn’t your fault.  When I was rejected from the program I was crushed.

But not you.  You’re better than I am.  I always knew that.  That’s probably why I failed you so horribly.  So horribly.  I see that now.

And on top of all that, even if I were to stay, I couldn’t stand to watch you succeed where I’ve failed.  Petty, I know.  But it hurts too much.  Everything hurts too much since Mom and Dad died.

Good bye Josh.  I love you so much.

And Remember, it isn’t your fault.

Love,

Anna

They did me the kindness of launching her body into the sun, instead of tossing it into the decomp chamber.

No one could do much for me at that point.  I was the job.  I became the job.  The perfect soldier.  Better than perfect according to some.  I knew when to keep my mouth shut and when to speak up.  Turns out that they were looking for someone who was willing to ask questions.  The day I completed training the Captain called me to his office.

I entered the Captain’s office ready for anything.  The room was bare of most decoration.  The desk was a plain steel desk set facing the door.  The walls of the room were lit up with various displays of the ship and the surrounding space.  The only chair in the room was the one that the captain was sitting in.  When I entered he looked up from his work just long enough to figure out who I was.

“Your instructors tell me you’re good.” He said.

“Thank you sir.”  Alright, I’ll admit.  I wasn’t expecting a compliment.

“Out of curiosity,” he continued, “what manner of name is ‘Kemp?’  It’s an unusual name, maybe on Iceflow, it wouldn’t be so odd, they have all kinds of names there.  But I was just looking over the roster here.  We got Adams, Bakers, Smith, Williams… You get the idea.  Your family is the only Kemp.”

Great.  Because I wasn’t already off balance from a compliment the Captain starts asking me about my name.  “Sir, I’m afraid I don’t understand your question.”

The Captain smiled.  “What do you know about your family history?”

“I’m a third generation Kamikaze on my father’s side sir,” I said.  At last, I thought to myself, something I can handle (even if I didn’t understand why I was answering this question).  “My mother came from a line of hydroponic experts in New London-“

“That’s not what I meant.” The captain said.

I’m reasonably certain my face was stoic, but I was swearing pretty well inside my head.

“What I meant,” the captain continued, “is what do you know about your family history from before Star Launch?”

I shook my head.  “Nothing sir.”

The Captain stood up, came around his desk and leaned against it to talk to me.  “I want you understand something, Son.  The Kamikaze does not fight against the demons now destroying our ancestral home.  The fight against the demons is a side effect of our actual task.  Our actual task is to recover and rebuild a place for the Human Race to live.  It’s important to know why you’re fighting.  Do you understand?”

“No sir.” I said.  “If it’s important, why are you telling me, but not the others?”

The Captain smiled.  “A sharp as they say.  I’ll tell you why on one condition: you will accept every task that I give you.  You will fulfill every mission to the best of your ability.  And you will never hesitate to ask questions.  This is important.  You must never hesitate to follow your instincts and ask questions.  Finally, you will share what passes between us, with no one.  Do you accept my terms?”

“Yes sir.” No hesitation.  I was born for this.

“Good, then one day I’ll tell you why.  But not today.”  The Captain reached behind him and picked up data disc.  “This has two things on it.  The first is your family history, to some degree.  The name is unusual enough that we didn’t have too much difficulty tracking your line back.  We got twelve generations of history pre-launch for you to look at.”

“And the second thing sir?”

“The second thing is your first assignment.  His name is Samuel Voxes.  He’s a rancher on the Martian Ice Fields, a retired K.”

“Sir?” A retired K?  The Kamikaze don’t retire.  I’d never heard of one living long enough to retire.”

“The only one.  He’s one of five men to face, defeat, and survive a demon attack.  Your first assignment is to bring him here.  Find out everything he knows about the demons, convince him to join us as a trainer.  A Dragonfly has been made ready for your use.  Take the day to read the files, gear up, and head out.  I’d like to see you back here in three weeks.”

“Yes sir.”

The Fist of Lightening was a pretty large ship.  At the same time, you’d have better luck keeping a bag of feed from a hungry horse than you’d have keeping a secret on this boat.  I had literally taken three steps out of the captain’s office when Artie and Wilson grabbed me.

Now Artie and Wilson are pretty stupid.  I should know, they were three years older than me and I spent three years tutoring them so they could join the ranks.  For some reason they always remind me of a pair of rabid bears.  I tend to think of myself as a reasonably formidable man, but these two always made me a little nervous.  They were simple men, they knew exactly what they wanted, and they were always eager to get it.  That they were stupid about it never helped.

“Hey there Josh,” Artie said.  “So how’d your chat with the Cap go?”

“Yeah Joshie,” Wilson threw in, “How’s the old Cap doing?”

“He’s the Captain.  That’s enough.”

Predictably this answer threw them a little off.  Also predictable, they ignored it and got to the point.

“So what did he want with you?” Artie asked.

“Yeah, what makes you so special?” Wilson asked.

I decided to ignore Artie’s question because I couldn’t answer it in a way that would leave my bones intact.  I’ve never been a very good liar you see.  So instead I turned to Wilson and said “I can’t answer a question to which I have no answers.  Now, if you gents will excuse me.”

“Hold on a sec there Joshie.”  Artie said.

(For the record – I hate, I mean absolutely HATE being called Joshie, Josh, or Joe.  My names are Joshua and Kemp.  Pick one.)

“What do you want Artie?”  I asked.  “I got stuff to do.”

“We want in.”  Artie said.  “You owe us everything.  If we hadn’t let you help us and look all smart and shit you’d be down in the barracks with the rest and it’d be us up here talking to the Cap.”

“If you got a problem with assignments you can take it up with LT.”

“Doesn’t work like that,” Wilson said.  “You got an assignment; you get to pick your crew.  So you make sure to pick us.”

“Or what?  You going to go ape shit on me or something?  Come on guys, let’s get real.  What can you possibly do to me to convince me that you’re worth the time?”

“We’ll tell everyone all about what really happened to your poor little sister.” Artie said.

“Oh yeah?” I said.  “And what is that?  Everyone knows she killed herself.  Everyone knows she couldn’t cut it.  So what?  What are you going to tell them huh?”

For the first time in my life, I was afraid.  What were they going to say?  What did they know?

Wilson just smiled.  “She told us you see.  She knew she could trust us.  She told us the real reason why she did it.  A nice little note she sent us separate like you see?”  Wilson took out a data disc and tossed it to me.  “There’s a copy.  We’ll be waiting for you.”

When they were out of sight, I ran for a quiet corner where no one could find me.  I slipped the disc Wilson gave me into my data watch and looked at the text that it projected.

They knew.

I’m not proud of what I did next.  I got my gear together.  Prepped for the mission, and then requested that Artie and Wilson join me.  It didn’t matter that thirty more deserving men and women had asked me to pick them.  It didn’t matter that each and every one of them was better qualified, better equipped to do the work that the Captain had set for me.  Artie and Wilson knew.

The three of us stepped on board the Dragonfly.  It was a tough little ship designed to fly fast, fight hard, and keep everyone on board safe.  We settled in, Artie and Wilson were pretty happy thinking they had found my weak spot.  Sure enough they had.  But they were stupid.  And they put the man they blackmailed in the pilot seat.

I set a course for Mars, making sure we flew straight through unclaimed space.  Most folks called that stretch “dead space”  for good reason: Pirates.

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