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About Deviant Claudiu OlteanMale/Canada Recent Activity
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Oddfish by Medjoe Oddfish :iconmedjoe:Medjoe 8 0
Rain of Fire (part 3)
“The aircraft is ready,” declared Neel as he packed his tools. He wiped his hands with the cloth. “I’ll take it outside and you can hop in.” Neel climbed inside a small field tractor and towed the airplane outside, the patches of concrete stained by raindrops.
“The rain already started, how long until it gets worse?”
“A few hours at most if we’re lucky. Thankfully not much lightning, but the rain is very heavy, impossible to fly in it.”
The two men embarked the 4-seater. The interior was clean, the black plastic of the instruments absent of dust. Jacz attached his belt and put on a flight helmet, checking the communication.
The two propellers rumbled to life, buzzing with energy. A bit of smoke infiltrated the cabin, giving a foul after-taste in the mouth. The plane crawled to the runway, placing itself on the cracked concrete. Neel placed his hand firmly on the throttles then pushed both in a single motion. Jacz could feel th
:iconmedjoe:Medjoe 1 0
Rain of Fire (part 2)
A light tap on the shoulder woke Jacz up from his dreamless sleep. He opened his eyes, seeing Mina’s hand on his shoulder. He felt a slight pain from the side which had rested on the metallic wall. No way to tell the time. The window filtered all outside light, leaving only small bright streaks inside the dark cabin.
“I couldn’t stay awake much longer either, the flight seemed particularly smooth. The crewmembers,” she added motioning to the cockpit, “didn’t want to tell me where we are. I hope we’re back at the airfield from where we left.”
At this instant, the light filter opened, letting in bright sunlight, as both could now see the details inside. Two simple benches and a number of empty storage spaces composed the cabin. The small door towards the cockpit was closed. Outside, a mechanical rattle was heard rhythmically, the rotor blades spinning ahead. Jacz’s eyes had difficulty adapting to the flood of light at first, but he gr
:iconmedjoe:Medjoe 1 0
Rain of Fire (part 1)
The two turbines of the aerotransporter whirred vigorously as the craft flew over a series of wooded bluffs. The five passengers and the two crew members in the cabin were gently shaken by the vibrations of the turbines, which swallowed gulps of cool night air to spit out hot jets.
The raindrops hammered the metallic skin of the aircraft, which approached its landing zone after a tow-hour flight in the dead of the night. The convoy of three aerotransporters descended and hovered above a group of small hills covered by tall grasses. The sky was dark and through the small windows faint glimmers shone in the distance, lost through the vegetation. The aircraft, which had flown in formation until that point, separated, the multicolored strobes of the two other vehicles vanishing behind the rainy curtain. The interior of the cabin was dark and loud; everyone was quiet. At the beginning of the flight, they had been ordered limit all communications. From time to time, the chatter of the flight
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Pearbat by Medjoe Pearbat :iconmedjoe:Medjoe 8 0 Bubblegum, God Princess of Candykind by Medjoe Bubblegum, God Princess of Candykind :iconmedjoe:Medjoe 17 10 JagdTiger I by Medjoe JagdTiger I :iconmedjoe:Medjoe 23 20 Orbital MiG 21 by Medjoe Orbital MiG 21 :iconmedjoe:Medjoe 14 5 Jagdpanzer Porsche II Wollnashorn by Medjoe Jagdpanzer Porsche II Wollnashorn :iconmedjoe:Medjoe 30 11 Yellow 10 by Medjoe Yellow 10 :iconmedjoe:Medjoe 14 4 IAR 88 Acvila by Medjoe IAR 88 Acvila :iconmedjoe:Medjoe 26 13 T-56 Medium Tank by Medjoe T-56 Medium Tank :iconmedjoe:Medjoe 33 22 Armed Strawberry by Medjoe Armed Strawberry :iconmedjoe:Medjoe 3 2 Cylon Battle Droid by Medjoe Cylon Battle Droid :iconmedjoe:Medjoe 8 2 Chaos AT-ST by Medjoe Chaos AT-ST :iconmedjoe:Medjoe 17 7 Chaos Noise Stormtrooper by Medjoe Chaos Noise Stormtrooper :iconmedjoe:Medjoe 11 3


AT Benders by Deannasun AT Benders :icondeannasun:Deannasun 21 2 //// by Jaasp //// :iconjaasp:Jaasp 80 5 We come from the night by StarWolfEmperial We come from the night :iconstarwolfemperial:StarWolfEmperial 183 10 Landing, Takeoff, Taxi at LAX by DouglasCastleman Landing, Takeoff, Taxi at LAX :icondouglascastleman:DouglasCastleman 9 2 Signals by kriskeleris Signals :iconkriskeleris:kriskeleris 60 5 11.2 km/s by GUWEIZ 11.2 km/s :iconguweiz:GUWEIZ 9,280 200 Winter in magical wood by OlgaWilson Winter in magical wood :iconolgawilson:OlgaWilson 2,352 109 Railroad by zherebinix Railroad :iconzherebinix:zherebinix 193 8 Any Minute Now by Aenami Any Minute Now :iconaenami:Aenami 2,150 77 Aircraft flying overhead by DominikMayer Aircraft flying overhead :icondominikmayer:DominikMayer 261 14 Daily Painting 03/50 by andreasrocha Daily Painting 03/50 :iconandreasrocha:andreasrocha 1,536 45 Flying Fish by MistakeNot Flying Fish :iconmistakenot:MistakeNot 27 25 Route Number Two by alexandreev Route Number Two :iconalexandreev:alexandreev 1,049 28 a raining day by 0BO a raining day :icon0bo:0BO 3,019 121 Under the Rain by Loo1Cool Under the Rain :iconloo1cool:Loo1Cool 1,028 50 Hipster Eds by bloochikin Hipster Eds :iconbloochikin:bloochikin 1,716 68





Oddish/Magikarp fusion, look at this happy little fellow! The silly name really stuck with me and I wanted to give the Pokemon fusion thing a try. No idea for a full-fledged description, probably a shy little fish that hides in seaweeds at shallow depths.
“The aircraft is ready,” declared Neel as he packed his tools. He wiped his hands with the cloth. “I’ll take it outside and you can hop in.” Neel climbed inside a small field tractor and towed the airplane outside, the patches of concrete stained by raindrops.

“The rain already started, how long until it gets worse?”

“A few hours at most if we’re lucky. Thankfully not much lightning, but the rain is very heavy, impossible to fly in it.”

The two men embarked the 4-seater. The interior was clean, the black plastic of the instruments absent of dust. Jacz attached his belt and put on a flight helmet, checking the communication.

The two propellers rumbled to life, buzzing with energy. A bit of smoke infiltrated the cabin, giving a foul after-taste in the mouth. The plane crawled to the runway, placing itself on the cracked concrete. Neel placed his hand firmly on the throttles then pushed both in a single motion. Jacz could feel the vibrations increase as the disk spun through the wet air and the aircraft accelerated on the runway. Then, the landing gears left the ground, pushing the occupants in their seats.

The raindrops streaked sideways across the windows. The airplane veered towards the left towards the crash area. The clouds were low, forcing them to fly below out of precaution. To the right of Jacz, Neel was focused on the instruments and the flight, making small adjustments in response to the scratching noises on the fuselage. Beneath them, the rainforest replaced the aerodrome and the village’s buildings. A thick carpet of green blocked any view of the ground below. Further away, the dark mass of the river reappeared, the colour of earth as sediment and mud were stirred up by the rain.

Neel made another turn, to follow the river. From time to time, he looked outside, before refocusing his attention to the instruments. Despite the rain, there was little turbulence, and the airplane kept flying with no problem, the propeller blades cutting through the wet atmosphere.

Through the walls of rain, the outline of a clearing emerged, revealing uneven rocky terrain. Jacz indicated to the pilot to approach the area, which extended further in the distance. An abrupt cliff divided the clearing in two, as a stream tumbled down the rocks to reach the river further away.

Despite his indication, Neel maintained his distance from the clearing, repeating that they were very close to the no-fly zone. Jacz struggled to spot anything through the rocks and the tall grasses, when suddenly the faint outline of a shallow crater appeared. The spot was covered by darkened earth, rendering the shape barely visible. Beneath a tree at the edge of the clearing, there was a small, angular shape. A vehicle. Its dark colour blended with the shadows. Jacz did not say a word about it to Neel.

“Do you think it’s possible to add this spot to the map?” asked Jacz.

“Yes, I have a newer version of the map on my instruments. The satellite coverage is good, here is the area.” Neel pointed to the screen, several kilometers away from the runway. According to the other map, no major road reached this corner.

Jacz took the tablet and copied the indication. He put the device away and continued to look towards the site. Near the vehicle, the faint silhouette of a dangling fence closed the space between two trees. Reaching it would prove more difficult than predicted. Out of the corner of his eye, a small dark shape slid between two trees, disappearing into the forest. The crash site was real, and the zone was active. But who was so interested in the crashes? As he focused his gaze on the crater, he noticed that beneath the muddy surface darker outlines appeared, indicative of some massive underground building.

The noise of the engine was suddenly interrupted by a voice on the radio, but Neel punched the communication system and shut it down immediately. He looked straight ahead, avoiding Jacz, who did not have time to understand the message.

“We have to land, the storm is getting worse and flying in these conditions is unsafe,” heard Jacz through his headpiece. The aircraft immediately changed direction towards the aerodrome. Neel’s hands trembled as they clutched the controls. Sometime later, the faint landing lights of the runway appeared in front of them, emerging through the masses of water dripping along the wings. They landed smoothly, jolting up and down along the bumpy road as Jacz held on to his seat out of reflex.

The aircraft braked and stopped in front of the hangar. The sky was even darker and the air felt much cooler. Above the engine, mist escaped into the air as they cooled down. Water flowed alongside the large, smooth propellers, now silent.

Jacz thanked Neel and handed him his payment, then went to the hangar’s entry. Ruzan was waiting, leaning against the buggy.

“Thank you for your services Neel,” said Ruzan. “I left the buggy at the front. If we need more help, can we count on you?”

Neel stared at them in silence. “Yeah, I guess.” He turned towards the plane. “The aerodrome is closed during the seasonal storms, you were pretty lucky. Good day.”

Jacz and Ruzan left the hangar, returning to their rental car. The rain was hammering the metal shell with a regular patter.

“So, Ruzan, what did you find on the ground?”

“Well, surprisingly, most roads seem very accessible, looks like they have been fairly traveled recently. At least for now, no telling how the rain will turn them all to mud. We can travel on the main ones with the car, to avoid depending on…” He turned towards the hangar. “The people here. His behaviour was a bit strange.”

“So you didn’t find anything special then?” asked Jacz as he took the tablet from the pocket.

“I’m afraid not. Ground visibility is mediocre at best with all the vegetation, can’t see more than one hundred metres at best, and that was rare enough. I’m hoping you had more success?”

“I think I may have found the site. We have to head there immediately.”

“Really? How come the pilot didn’t mention anything about it when you got back?” Ruzan wrinkled his forehead as he fixed Jacz.

“Let’s get out of here. I’ll explain on the way.”

The engine came to life and the car left behind the silhouette of the hangar, vanishing in the vegetation.

“We flew over some streams and followed the river upstream. Then I spotted a massive clearing. But instead of just grass, the soil was very rocky, and the earth seemed disturbed…”

“A crater,” murmured Ruzan under his breath.

“Quite possible. But that’s not the strangest part. The site is active and monitored. There was a truck hidden away, and the crater was filled.”


“As I told you, there are lots of rocks and overturned soil. But I could’ve sworn I saw doors leading underground.”

The car engaged a muddy path leaving behind the main road. Ruzan parked it so that they could see the road while remaining concealed. The engine was turned off.

On the road, a dark contour passed slowly. The vehicle did not resemble any the two had ever seen before, the shape being closer to a military carrier of some sort. It was moving at a low speed, its headlights turned off. Jacz was staring at the vehicle while Ruzan glanced around.

“Things are getting more complicated and we have to act fast. I took the site coordinates; we have several trails that can lead us there.” Jacz showed the map. “Above all, our plane was spotted, and I heard a voice in the communicators for a very brief moment. I don’t know who they are, but they are highly organized and carefully monitor the area. Don’t seem to regular military either. The image of the fragment that I showed you, that’s the biggest clue…”

“The image… Maybe it’s all some military experiment, but it’s strange at how covert these guys are. Still, I don’t understand why it involves civilians like they did. I’m wondering just how special this site is.”

They waited in silence another 15 minutes, to make sure that the patrolling vehicle was far away. The wheels were stuck in the mud, forcing them to improvise on foot for the rest of the road. They made a careful note of where the car was, concealing it as best as they could with vines and ferns. Putting on their rainproof clothes, they vanished through the somber vegetation.

On each side of the trail, thick walls of ferns pierced the muddy soil. Large droplets gathered on the lush leaves of the canopy before crashing down. The liquid hammering drowned out the other noises, as if the entire forest was asleep, frozen in time, sometimes disturbed by their footsteps crunching some gravel.

They didn’t keep track of the duration, but could see through holes poking in the treetops that the sky was darkening. It would soon be nightfall, and they had to make the most out of twilight to reach the crash site.

Further away, the bubbling of a river made its presence known, somewhere past the shrubs, without them being able to pinpoint the direction. They were getting closer as the sound grew louder. According to the map, they were on the right shore, so they just had to follow the path.

The uneasiness grew as they advanced. After Jacz’s observations, the two remained alert despite their feet hurting, on the lookout for other patrols. A thin speck of light, barely visible, crossed the treetops. In the distance, a luminous halo pierced the ferns, powerful floodlights lighting an area. The crash site.

Seeing the light, the two men regained energy and pressed on. The worry of patrols was less of a concern as their curiosity was getting the best of them. The objective was the large lights. Large lights that gradually transformed into metallic silhouettes upon which the lights originated, their blinding floodlights illuminating the damp soil.

They left the trail and sneaked along a rocky outcropping. The terrain proved to be much more difficult to navigate, and they had to navigate through small overgrown openings, filled with lichens and strange flowers. Water trickled along the wet rocks.

Jacz and Ruzan reached the edge of an escarpment, blocking the passage to the crash site below. This obstacle was not visible during the flight, hidden by dense brush. They were facing two options, observing from their position or trying to get closer. Lacking any climbing equipment, they had to content themselves with the former. The clearing was enormous, extending far, perhaps several hundreds of meters at its widest. Ruzan took out a pair of binoculars and scanned the location.

The lamps’ halos shone on the structure that Jacz had described earlier, camouflaged to blend in with the rocky terrain. Jacz heard Ruzan’s sigh as he was looking around the edges of the clearing.

“So it’s true, there’s something here. But… wait.” He pressed the binoculars closer to his eyes, and murmured lowly. “I’m seeing figures here and there… there are openings in the structures, like large doors, and vehicles beneath the trees. What the hell is this place… What is this…” His gasping breath accelerated, followed by puffs of steam slipping from his mouth.

“What do you mean?”

“There are people walking, they seem to share the same coat designs, something yellow with orange highlights. But I saw two figures completely clad in black, armed. Here, look,” said Ruzan as he handed the binoculars.

Jacz lay flat on the rock, watching carefully. The yellow figures, maybe a dozen or so, carried out various tasks and walked about with equipment of all sizer. One of the openings seemed large enough to fit a car, white light emanating from it.

A distant buzz built up somewhere past the treeline. Slowly, it gained in intensity, but the evening’s twilight obscured everything into a shapeless mass of forest. Columns of light streaked through the foliage as a darkened shape made its apparition on the sky, the violent stutter of blades reverberating across the open ground. A synchromesh, its two angled rotors cutting the sky. The aircraft was entirely covered in a low visibility colour, a matte grey, slipping through the low clouds, barely visible at night.

The synchromesh continued to approach the site, stopping directly above the covered crater. It hovered above as a luminous signal from the ground was sent in its direction. Jacz focused on the ground signal, noticing a silhouette holding a set of navigation lights. A red flash pointed towards the synchromesh, which landed in an empty spot nearby, rotors still spinning and throwing water away. The loud engines quieted, drowned by the rain on the rocks. Jacz did not notice Ruzan approaching the edge of the rock and was trying to film the scene.

“You’re seeing all this? We have to expose this, it’s some kind of ultra-secret research project for sure, and… I think you’ll agree that the hill recovery is linked… but that’s about all we can know for now.”

“The material did not resemble any known substance, natural or synthetic. I don’t think that it’s human to begin with. Or maybe if it is, it’s a technology that these people don’t want to reveal its existence…” Jacz was calm and starting to feel humidity seep through his rainproof coat.

Suddenly, he removed the binoculars, eyes wide open. The red navigation light was turned in the direction, a second green light flashing at the same time. He did not have time to turn towards Ruzan to alert him as the engines rumbled back to life and the rotors began spinning.

The latter had also remarked the strange twinkling and hid behind a rock. He handed his own tablet to Jacz, that almost fell down as he abandoned it in a hurry. Without saying a word, Ruzan started running back towards the trail, whispering just before fleeing.

“Meet me at the car, I think it’s best we head back separately to avoid capture.” He darted into the forest, disappearing in the labyrinth of foliage.

Jacz was trying to understand what had just happened, but he knew that it wasn’t the time to think about it. He had to run. Escape. The buzzing grew louder as the synchromesh approached, its floodlights scouring the landscape like a hand sifting through sand. He stuffed everything in pockets and started to run, hitting ferns and walls of rain at every step, his boots barely holding on to the slippery rocks or squishing the thick muds and puddles.

Above, the sound was ever louder, choking the sound of his breath and the rain as it quickly passed over the treetops. He pressed forward, the hand of lift still searching through the brush, distancing itself. The engines buzzed farther, the echoes bouncing off the vine-covered trees. On the path, he found no trace of Ruzan. The footsteps were being erased by puddles, with no new traces. Where could he be? Jacz had no choice, if he couldn’t find him at the car, he had to leave by himself, assuming the worst possibility.

The trail was deserted, swept by the soaked breeze on the ground, lifting shreds of soil in the air before falling down.

No one was waiting at the car. Jacz screamed Ruzan’s name, but there was no response. Only the hammering of the elements and his gasping, burning breath. The trip had been long and they had had no rest since landing. And now that they were being chased, he had no luxury to wait. A few leaves had stuck themselves to the car, inside which Jacz entered to shelter himself from the rain. He regained his breath, listening to the pouring rain over the windshield, leaving the headlights turned off.

He waited a few more minutes, or an hour for all he knew, time slipping away, but considered it risky to stay any longer and returned to the trail and the main road, driving slowly and carefully through the uncertain terrain. There was not a single soul on the road, and the echo of the synchromesh faded long ago into the rainforest. He had to reach the airport and his apartment as soon as possible. The faster, the better. The aerodrome’s hangar appeared as a specter hidden beneath a transparent veil as he sped past it.

Jacz stopped further away on a side road, hidden from sight, the adrenaline worn off as he crashed into sleep. In the morning. Hoping that Ruzan had found another way. Under the lullaby of the droplets hitting the roof, he fell into an uneasy sleep.


A group of people were exiting the terminal, carrying with them their briefcases and wet luggage, water slipping off their faces and multicolored, neon waterproof clothes. The flights were canceled due to the storm, at least for another day or so. Leaned on the hood of the car, Jacz examined his options. The only viable choice seemed to be to wait out the storm. The group disappeared from sight, and he took his stuff and Ruzan’s, leaving the car at an automatic checkout, in the search for an overnight stay.

As estimated, the precipitation subsided significantly by the evening, but were still too much for safe flight. Sitting on the bed, Jacz took the tablet and opened it. The familiar blue glow illuminated his face as he was watching Ruzan’s footage. It was less clear than what he had seen through the binoculars, but the details were there. The floodlights, the structures, the approaching synchro, a barely visible figure, the helicopter speeding in their direction...    

Shutting the video, he re-examined the pictures, carefully looking at the details. Nothing different from the first observations, and he still couldn’t figure out the language inscribed in the geometric striations. He recalled the anecdote of a very old space probe that had been sent in the hopes of finding intelligent life, carrying encrypted messages. Funnily enough, they managed to catch up to that probe and it was still transmitting, travelling through interstellar space. Out of respect for the past, they left it travelling through the dark void, as a time capsule and a monument to the past.

What if the object was not human? Such a small possibility after so much colonisation with no findings, but an option that could never be removed. A military operation employing civilians in such a manner had no precedent, and made even less sense. Jacz stopped on this thought, crashing to the bed and closing his eyes, the memories of the hill crash returning to his mind’s eye. The faces of the other participants were just as confused as him, and then there was that light in the distance. The memory opened his eyes. A light. A small flash of light that linked both events.

He rose up to check that the door was closed, pulling down the shutters. Installing himself on an armchair, he poured some juice in a small cup as he thought further. Sipping the drink, a somber idea came to his mind. There was no official organisation that operated this way, and considering how much equipment was involved, not many groups had the logistical capabilities. Rumours ran on them, but everyone repeated what they had heard. Without even having an official name, their very presence made people very nervous. Operating from the twilight, unseen, with terrifying efficiency.

Many simply called them the “black cloaks” due to their distinguishing piece of clothing that they always seemed to wear when sighted, however rarely that occurred. A solitary figure on the edge of a building, a living gargoyle observing society below, carrying out roles only known to them, as authorities hesitated mentioning their intervention in some of the toughest cases. Despite that, the group had many liberties overriding planetary authority, under command not belonging to any planet. Despite public fear and mistrust, they were never involved in criminal activities, but rather tackling down hard cases in the deepest underbellies of crime.

The appearance of the black cloaks was a mystery, as few had seen them up close, and those that collaborated with them were not allowed to divulge details. As such, only the cloaks remained, and they were avoided like dangerous predators in the wild. Jacz was feeling alert. What link could there be between those spectres and the two crashes? And again, why resort to civilians?
The geometric shapes standing out against the charred surface had to be the answer. Jacz did not want to have more worries, as he felt that this was the start of something immense, which would shake to the core every planetary system. But he had to be sure, and didn’t know where to start. He had to prove that the fragment was something else. He closed his eyelids, still sitting on the armchair.


The bags beneath his arms, Jacz was waiting to board the plane. The rain had given way to isolated showers floating on a grey background, and air traffic resumed in the afternoon. The aircraft were taken out of the hangars. He was standing in the crowd, ticket in hand. Everyone was anxious to leave, having pressing business, or just happy that the storm was relatively short. Still no trace of Ruzan. The last time Jacz saw him, he was running away from the synchro, as he vanished in the forest. He knew he had to act fast, and didn’t know how much time he had before the dark cloaks would catch up to him. Probably not very long.

Leaving an anonymous call signalling a disappearance and the approximate coordinate, he closed the public phone and blended in the queue. The sky would darken soon once more and he was on the last flight to the city. Passing by the security check, he left his bags and continued outside towards the waiting aircraft, where two small shuttles took turns carrying the passengers on board.

On the roof of the terminal’s terrace, the breeze was sweeping a long coat, gloved hands resting on the wet handrail. Droplets ran alongside the coat, as the figure was scanning the passengers embarking the shuttles. One in particular caught its attention. It found him. A beam of light lit up as the thermal lens on the headpiece engaged. Inside the helmet, a spectral voice announced. “Mister Jaczek has been localized. The mission is ongoing.” The communication system clicked of and the beam vanished. A faint buzzing interrupted the undulating leaves, accompanied by a shadow in the sky, hidden by twilight.
Rain of Fire (part 3)
After convincing a local pilot to help them, the two begin searching a site and find a clearing with what appears to be a crater. But the area is far from being abandoned...

Translated from the original I wrote in French.

Part 1:…
Part 2:…
A light tap on the shoulder woke Jacz up from his dreamless sleep. He opened his eyes, seeing Mina’s hand on his shoulder. He felt a slight pain from the side which had rested on the metallic wall. No way to tell the time. The window filtered all outside light, leaving only small bright streaks inside the dark cabin.

“I couldn’t stay awake much longer either, the flight seemed particularly smooth. The crewmembers,” she added motioning to the cockpit, “didn’t want to tell me where we are. I hope we’re back at the airfield from where we left.”

At this instant, the light filter opened, letting in bright sunlight, as both could now see the details inside. Two simple benches and a number of empty storage spaces composed the cabin. The small door towards the cockpit was closed. Outside, a mechanical rattle was heard rhythmically, the rotor blades spinning ahead. Jacz’s eyes had difficulty adapting to the flood of light at first, but he gradually became accustomed to it and gazed through the window.

The helicopter was flying at low altitude over a field, a belt of trees in the distance breaking the flat surface. A bit further away, a series of electrical poles and the thin silhouettes of black wires stood out from against the sky. The craft made a turn and left the field behind, following a small dirt road before slowing down. Jacz tried looking towards the front to see the destination, but had to be content with the field and its last harvest of the season, twirling under the breeze. The helicopter reached an airfield where it landed some distance away from the grassy runway, yellowing from the autumnal season. A row of discrete hangars was at the other end. The aircraft touched the ground, shivering as the gears took the weight, and the exit door opened. Jacz turned himself towards the cockpit, which was still closed, then grasped his luggage and gave Mina hers. The two exited the craft, the engines now silent, and looked around. A warm breeze brushed their faces as the heat of the pale sun began drying their damp clothes.

The airfield seemed deserted, maybe even long abandoned, from the absence of any ground equipment or markings. The hangars were all the same, and the messy windows of a jutting control tower did not reveal the interior. From the corner of her eye, Mina spotted a pair of black cars between two hangars, prompting Jacz to observe them as well. Same type as the previous time. From each one a dark figure emerged, clad in black and wearing large rounded sunglasses. The heads of both drivers were shaven. The hard, square features of their faces and their almost-mechanical gait hinted discipline. They approached Jacz and Mina, then indicated to follow them, without a word.

“Jacz, I don’t think it ends this way. Have a nice day.” She smiled, then followed the driver into one of the cars.

“Nice… day,” Jacz muttered to himself, pensive. He embarked in the other car, which rumbled its engine back towards the apartment, crunching the gravel of the dirt road.

The car left behind the fields and regained the metropolis. The large green expanse gave way to tan buildings from residential sectors and grey paved streets. The car stopped in front of the apartment, the driver unlocked the door and Jacz got out. He tried peering at the driver, but could not see past his sunglasses. Sighing, he entered the building, walking up the stairs, trying to not look anymore at the parked car. A small alarm beeped on his tablet. A message.

I am a colleague and friend of Mina, I am aware that you have participated in an expedition of sorts, of which I was a part as well. She told me what had happened on your side and told me of your intention of leading an investigation. There’s more.
Meet me this day next week in Delev Park, next to the large pond.
Ruzan Mellard”

Jacz shut down the tablet after reading the message and slid it on his desk. The luggage was standing beside the door, and he let them there, fearing that he might need them again soon. He did a quick sweep through his apartment to check that no one had snooped around, a potential inspection that might have been related to the mysterious group. Nothing out of the ordinary.

He chose to not pursue the lead for the day, despite the desire to contact either Mina or Ruzan for further details. Despite his curiosity, it was more prudent to wait until the park meeting. Closing his eyes, the inscriptions appeared before him, like luminous specters. The name sounded familiar, but he couldn’t place it. The week had passed with no incident, as if nothing had happened, as if it seemed more and more that it was some strange dream. Tomorrow.

The rhythmic chant of a small bird announced morning, as a few golden arrows began piercing the urban cityscape. Small streaks of water were stopped flowing and beaded on the outside walls, signs of an overnight rain. It was still early, but Jacz felt relaxed, yet alert. He prepared a quick breakfast and cleaned himself up before grabbing his tablet and heading towards the park, in the direction of a small financial district.

The morning activities of the neighbours had not yet begun, a few scattered people walking here and there. The cool morning air was accompanied by a flock of grey clouds in the distance, inching towards the city if the winds would not push them away. Jacz reached the park within a half an hour of walking on the empty streets. At one of the park’s entries, he spotted a group of velocipedes speeding away on a nature trail through the woods.

Several small ponds were scattered throughout the park, the crystalline pools reflecting the nature and the distant urban skyline. Although located between two districts, the immensity of the park concentrated itself upon a large pond with irregular shores, named the Delev, fed by a few forest streams. Rocky outcroppings pierced its smooth surface, adorned by tufts of green. At the park entry where Jacz was, it was still possible to see a highway, the constant murmur reverberating across its paved surface, which vanished as soon as he entered the park. The air circulating beneath the trees was cold, a haven of respite in warmer months.

Jacz found a bench beneath a group of trees with spiny leaves, looking around him. In the distance, a man was coming in his direction, a bag suspended beneath the shoulder. The man continued to advance, then stopped several meters from the bench.

“Jacz?” asked the man as he readjusted the bag on his shoulder.

“Yes, that’s me. Ruzan?”

“Indeed. You chose to come. Let’s not stay here, let’s find a more isolated area. I don’t want to run the risk that we’re being… listened. Mina told me I can trust you.” His lips were straight and thin, and his blank gaze betrayed fatigue. Some old memory awoke inside Jacz. Ruzan was a very old classmate. They hadn’t talked much during their studies, and he had lost all trace of him after school.

Jacz rose and followed Ruzan, as the latter accelerated through the park. Their breaths were losing themselves in the breeze shifting through the trees. Further away, the screech of a small bird. They reached a more isolated spot, less discernible from the main paths. On a small earth path, the trail branched off to a tiny wooden roof. In summer there would be more people around the roof, gazing at the starry sky above.

“I think this spot is fine.” Ruzan looked around. He placed his bag on a stone bench, and opened it, revealing a piece of paper. “When I got back from the expedition, there were rumours running around. I didn’t know at first that my friend had also participated.” There was a pause. His fingers clutched tightly the paper scrap. “She told me about it, then told me that when she got back home, something happened. She refused to tell me more, and gave me this very scrap.” He pointed the paper. “I’ll let you read what on it, but I don’t think that it’s a simple coincidence.” Ruzan handed him the piece.

The piece had been briskly torn from a newspaper, titled “Rain of Fire”. According to the article, a few weeks ago, an inhabitant from a small village in the southern portion was the first to describe a loud explosion in the sky, followed by bright fires descending to the ground, somewhere in the rainforest. The explosion had been so loud, that the nearest village, quite a distance away from the suspected crash site, had many shattered windows. The village had tried to organize an expedition through the rainforest to find the crash site, but satellite data was unavailable and there was no smoke to be spotted. Simultaneously, armed forces arrived in the area and cordoned off various roads into the suspected zone. The inhabitant also spoke of sightings of black trucks being spotted on the roads before vanishing in the woods.

Jacz felt his hands tremble ever so slightly, his hairs standing up. Ruzan was right. The article’s date, the facts, suggested a link. And the section was but a small snippet, too tiny and random in the grand scheme. His gaze fixed Ruzan’s. He wasn’t quite sure how to react to the news. It could’ve been a fluke, for all he knew, or maybe even a fake piece? He had to show him the images.

“I’m guessing that Mina told you about what happened at our basecamp, and I am sure that you also saw falling debris,” Jacz began, uncertain.

“Yes, hard to forget the explosion and the rattling of the ground. However, we couldn’t collect any samples, we had troubles with our equipment. Mina did tell me that you had a bit more success.”

“I have some of the images from a fragment recovered that night.” Jacz gave the article back and took out his tablet. The bluish screen gave way to a photograph of the sample. “We ran a check on the composition while there, but the device could not find any known substance, even when contributing for the re-entry conditions. But that’s not even the strangest.”

Ruzan leaned in on the image, furrowing his brows at the charred object. “I’m not seeing anything abnormal, but Mina did say that there was something on its surface. Did you get a chance to properly scan it?”

“We had to evacuate before we had time to do more. We have a pretty good scan, but to extract the raw data into something more useable would require more specialized personnel.”

“Unless one would ask a company, a library or the archives, finding a person to do it no questions asked might be difficult. And probably not cheap. I don’t trust the methods. Hard to predict who could be checking.”

Jacz wanted to mention the figures that were observing them from the hilltops, but preferred not to say anything. He didn’t know Ruzan enough to be entirely sure. “I think we’re the only ones at the moment who can find something about the case. We have to act fast, I have no idea how much time the crash site will be around. Wouldn’t be surprised if they chose to hide everything once it’s over.”

“I knew you would accept; Mina was particularly enthusiastic about your willingness. I have two plane tickets to a small local aerodrome, then we have a good drive to the village. There’s a car waiting, and there’s only one road connecting the aerodrome to that village. Here are the details. Meet me in a week, same time.” Ruzan handed him a small paper map of the general area of the destination. The aerodrome was circled in red, as was the winding road leading to the village.

“Alright, Ruzan. If anything new happens in-between, stay in touch. This mission, if we can call it so, may well turn into something more important than we believe.”

“I don’t know what’s behind all this if it’s connected.” Ruzan saluted him with one hand and took off with the bag, leaving Jacz underneath the wooden roof.

The week had been just as eerily uneventful as the previous one. Jacz had tried to find any anomalies in the satellites he monitored, but despite his best efforts could not find anything out of the ordinary. Whoever did this was particularly skilled at concealing the evidence. Ruzan did not send any new message, as Jacz’s worries grew daily. He prepared some clothes, bought rations and hid them through his luggage. The most important item was the tablet. Just in case.

He was to meet Ruzan the following day. The cool evening air was infiltrating inside his apartment through a half-opened window, embracing the furniture in a shroud of cold autumn wind. His sleep was light, the anticipation randomly waking him up.

The morning was misty, the silhouettes of other buildings lost in the grey expanse of humid air. Jacz left the apartment, locking the door and heading towards the park. A few cars were rolling along the cold streets. Few people were working that day. A few were outside doing their morning stroll with their pets, as Jacz arrived with ease at the park.

He checked the time. Ruzan should have already been there. But no one in sight. From the corner of his eye, a shape emerged from behind a tree. Ruzan. He was breathing heavily, trying to regain his breath. With a small gesture he saluted Jacz and kept advancing toward him, carrying a larger green backpack this time.

“Jacz, sorry for being late. I could’ve sworn I was being followed. A black car was parked on the street, then when I turned several more times, I could see it again, parked far in distance but still in sight. The size of a small van, no identification that I could discern…” His breath calmed a little, but Jacz noticed the trembling hands.

“We have to hurry to catch the flight.”

The road to the aerodrome had been without incident. A different plane was taking off as they entered the terminal building. Although it was still morning, the terminal was busy with people, the majority taking flights towards the western cities for business. Their flight was the only connection to the dispersed settlements in the south-east. At most, there were about a dozen people waiting for this flight, sitting on benches. Jacz and Ruzan did the same, watching the runway through the large tinted windows.

A faint odour of smoke and fuel could be felt coming from the aircraft, which had recently landed. Able to carry at most around twenty passengers and the crew, the small, rugged plane began losing its bland white paint in several areas, revealing undercoats, bare metals and other components. A long yellow dash on the tail contained the airline’s logo.

They embarked inside the plane. The two turbines woke up with their shrieking wails. The aircraft left the terminal behind and headed to the concrete runway. It waited a few instances for proper clearance, the engines roaring with their full might as the concrete slabs accelerated beneath, then left the slabs below. Jacz tried to regain some sleep during the flight in preparation for what was coming. To his side, Ruzan was carefully inspecting a map.


The aircraft touched down heavily on the worn out runway. The cabin shook left and right on the irregular surface, waking up Jacz. He was looking through the window, seeing the main building. Behind the fence, tall trees with large, broad leaves were being choked by vines, creating roofs and bridges between them.

The plane taxied to the terminal and stopped next to it, the engines shutting down. As they exited, the passengers were immediately greeted by a wall of humid heat, in contrast to the dry air of the cabin.

“I rented a car that should be at the exit of the airport. We’ll claim our luggage and we can leave straight for the village,” declared Ruzan.

Behind them, the luggage was being removed from the cargo hold as the crew was outside doing an inspection of the plane.

As planned, a man was waiting beside a car, holding a sign with Ruzan’s name on it. Jacz observed the exchange from the inside of the terminal. Ruzan took the key and did a quick check on the car. The matte paint was cracked and streaks of rust flowed downwards. As the engine purred to life, a puff of blue smoke was spit out as the car distanced itself from the airport.
They had to follow a winding road towards the village, using a more detailed local map of the area instead of relying on satellite tracking. Past the village, there were a number of seasonal routes cutting through the immensity of the rainforest. The sun was shining brightly; the sky was dotted by only a few silvery specks projecting dots of shade.

“This main road will take about an hour, after that I have no idea how the smaller road will take. I have heard that it can sometimes close prior to the seasonal storms.” Ruzan was focused on the road, not turning to his passenger.

Jacz was gazing at the parked cars in front of the airport as they were driving away. In the distance, he thought he noticed a black vehicle, partially hidden by a row of cars.

The road was fairly smooth, and the first portion was completed with no incident, as they reached its edge and the beginning of the trail, the packed earth carved into two trenches by the traffic. They passed by a small barrier that stood on the side of the road.

The trees were shading the entire road, as they lifted dust and mud behind them. Sweat beaded their faces, dripping on their humid clothes. According to the map, the road was running parallel to an important river, the village being located on its shore further upstream.

The car waddled sideways along the bumpy road, threatening to break the suspensions and throw the occupants into one of the trees beside the road. Ruzan was fighting the steering wheel, weaving and dodging the obstacles and avoiding shaking the car too much. Neither could tell how long this lasted, but the shadows began growing ever longer.

Through the dense treeline, the silhouette of a small house appeared. It was connected to the road by a flora-filled path. The paint was chipping off the walls in irregular shapes. The corrugated roof dangled on exposed beams. An overturned rusty barrel completed the decoration of the building.
Jacz turned towards Ruzan. “This is the village you were talking about? Looks like it’s been abandoned for a long time…” He sighed and kept searching around.

“Well, the article referenced this area, there should be something here. I’m not too sure how far along the road we got, but it’s the right road for the village.” Ahead, the road split in two, the left path being clear while the other option was barricaded by overgrown debris. Hidden behind the foliage, a dark silhouette awaited its passengers, the hot air spilling from its engine.

More buildings appeared further ahead, the green canopy cut to make way for construction. Two men, sweaty skin glistening in the light, were loading some crates in a muddy crawler. The buildings seemed to be warehouses, and not a single trace of lodgments.

Behind the buildings, the brown water of the river was flowing lazily, the docked boats bobbing to the rhythm of the currents. A few tiny trails vanished through the dense brush and tall grasses.
A yellow shape caught Jacz’s attention, prompting him to turn in its direction. The vehicle was large, the massive tires slowly sunk in the soft soil. A large bulldozing blade had been attached to its front. The yellow paint was heavily flaking off the metal beast, complemented by oil stains oozing to the ground. The appearance of the vehicle resembled something from the Colonisation epoch, and Jacz wondered if the vehicle was indeed that old.

The car stopped beside a twisted fence, behind which a hangar overlooked an empty aerodrome. The carcasses of two light aircraft lay in a corner, covered by vines and grass, under the shade of some trees.

“I think we reached it,” said Ruzan. “I was hoping for more activity, but it looks like people are only working here when it’s dry. Maybe the heat induces hallucinations,” he snickered bitterly as his eyes scoured the surroundings.

“A few days ago, the possibility of finding something unexplained after a meteor crash seemed silly. There are people who know more than us, and this whole thing goes further.” Jacz was facing the aerodrome. “At the very least we can talk with some of the people here, and maybe explore the area a bit… however vast it is.”

“What area? We’re in the middle of nowhere, in a village that is barely visible on most maps, and maybe isn’t even a village to begin with!” Ruzan sipped some water, calming the impatience that his tone betrayed. “Ok, let’s suppose they told us they saw something, do you think they’ll take us there?”

“Doubtful. I felt observed when we were on the expedition that night, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they knew what happened here…”


Jacz sighed. “I don’t know, I don’t know what to think, but we have to get to the bottom of this.”
They agreed and proceeded to enter the hangar. Inside, a man was working on the landing gear of a small plane. Music came from a small room inside the building, barely audible by Jacz and Ruzan. A lamp was buzzing a pale yellow light, barely visible under the scorching sun outside, and the rays that pierced through the three messy windows at the top. In a corner, several all-terrain buggies were stashed in the shade, partially covered by tarps. The mud appeared dry on their wheels.

A wrench fell on the concrete floor as the man rose up and turned to face them. Hands blackened by oil, he raised his hand to salute them as he approached.

“Hiya, I’m Neel, how can I help you?” His voice was firm and his brown eyes fixed them intensely. He wiped his palms with a small cloth and closed in for handshakes. “I haven’t seen you around before, how can I help you?”

“We’ll cut to the chase. We saw that there was a recent explosion not far from here,” said Ruzan.

Neel gulped loudly, the wrench fumbling in his grasp. He checked behind the two, then said lowly: “I heard of the crash, yeah, but… that’s about all I know.”

“We want a flight over the rainforest to find the crash site. This aerodrome seems to be only one in the region, and I presume you are the only pilot.”

“Flying over the woods is expensive, especially for a leisure flight. There’s fuel, preparations…” Neel hesitated, his eyes avoiding the others’. “You don’t seem like the kind to finance finding what you’re looking for.”

“We insist,” Ruzan declared as he showed a stack of cash to the pilot. The latter waited a moment, still gazing at the money. “I think we may have a deal.” His face was still low, as he huddled to stow the wrench into a red box. He grabbed the money and carefully slid it inside a pocket. “As you can see, I still have to do some repairs on the plane, but it won’t take much longer. I’ll bring you a map of the area to plan your flight.” Neel entered the cabin and returned with a large folded paper, that he placed on a tiny table before them.

“We are here,” pointed Neel on the map. An illegible name was next to the point. Not far from there, the river flowed, snaking through the forest. From what I heard, the crash site is further upstream, probably by the shore,” he explained as his greasy finger slid on the paper. “But that’s as much as I heard, the boaters refused to tell me more, and prefer not to discuss the subject further. I’ve heard that there have been… visits lately, but thankfully I wasn’t here much.”

Ruzan furrowed his eyebrows, thinking. “Besides the river, are there any routes to navigate?”

“Oh, yes, there are several old forestry roads, but most haven’t been used in a long time. After the terraforming was complete, they didn’t deem the sector worthwhile in resources and packed up. Since the crash, some of the more important roads have been more active, lots of tracks appeared. I don’t know what they’re doing there, but the roads have been restricted. And no one’s telling us who’s out there.” Neel sighed. “Listen, we’ll have to do it quickly, with this heat and time of the season a big storm can be expected soon. The humid season is almost here. Here is a no-fly area,” Neel indicated the red rectangle drawn with a pencil. “I could lose everything if I’m found flying there.”

The rectangle was through the river, in the suspected area.

“We’ll have to make the most out of this storm then. I think they’ll be busier by the storm than two people who wandered around in the middle of nowhere. Ruzan, what do you think of splitting up to cover more ground? I noticed the buggies in the corner…”

Well, they’re a bit rusted, but do the job. If one of you two is interested in taking the roads, I’m fine with it, so long as you bring the vehicle back here.”

“I’ll go.” Ruzan headed to the buggies, removing the dusty tarp. “I’d like a map with the forestry roads.”

“That can be arranged.” Neel brought back another map, a bit smaller, but which showed the main roads. “It’s a few years old, but the main roads are much older than that. Some may be overgrown by now, I couldn’t tell you which I’m afraid. Travel at your own risk.”

Outside, the sky was darkening gradually as grey and dark blue clouds began covering the azure canvas. It wouldn’t be long before rain, and Jacz and Ruzan wondered how bad the storm could get.

“By the way, we are Jacz and Ruzan. Apologies for not mentioning it earlier.”

“Pleasure to meet you. A bit late on the delivery. If you will excuse me, I have some reparations to finish. Two hours at most.” Neel pressed a button on a console and came back in a hurry to the plane. The hangar door opened, the metallic creak resonating through the building.

Jacz pulled out his tablet to look at the pictures once more. All seemed to be connected to what the fragment actually was. But no one could say much on their presence, much less their very nature. The call had changed everything and, as he examined the details of the photograph, there was an overall bad feeling surrounding it. They couldn’t show those to Neel. After all, he avoided talking of the subject. Jacz shut down the device and stowed it in a large pocket.

The drive through the forest had been tiring enough, and he needed a small break, if only to listen to the panicked chittering of the animals outside to the incoming storm. Ruzan left the hangar with a buggy, the rumbling of the engine fading away as he disappeared through a barely-visible trail. The smell of wet earth filled his nostrils as a fine blanket of rain began falling.
Rain of Fire (part 2)
The discovery of another crash in a remote area and suspect circumstances bring Jacz to the old terraformed rainforests of the south. But the quest raises more questions than answers once he arrives in a small isolated village.

Translated from the original I wrote in French.

Part 1:…
Part 3:…
The two turbines of the aerotransporter whirred vigorously as the craft flew over a series of wooded bluffs. The five passengers and the two crew members in the cabin were gently shaken by the vibrations of the turbines, which swallowed gulps of cool night air to spit out hot jets.

The raindrops hammered the metallic skin of the aircraft, which approached its landing zone after a tow-hour flight in the dead of the night. The convoy of three aerotransporters descended and hovered above a group of small hills covered by tall grasses. The sky was dark and through the small windows faint glimmers shone in the distance, lost through the vegetation. The aircraft, which had flown in formation until that point, separated, the multicolored strobes of the two other vehicles vanishing behind the rainy curtain. The interior of the cabin was dark and loud; everyone was quiet. At the beginning of the flight, they had been ordered limit all communications. From time to time, the chatter of the flight crew came from the flight deck, muffled by the turbines almost instantaneously.

The craft descended further, hovering in place. Mechanical rattling alerted the passengers as the landing gear was being deployed. At the same time, a pair of very bright searchlights flooded the area beneath. The turbines whirred louder and louder as the outlines of the flattened grasses drew themselves in sharper detail. One of the passengers lifted his head, peering at the black, cloudy sky above, only to notice what seemed like a flash of bright light. He turned towards the others, in search of a reaction, but there was no reply.

Jacz thought that the others would be just as tired as he was. A few hours ago, he was comfortably sleeping in his bed, under the warmth of the blankets. The call woke him up.


‘Who is it?’ asked Jacz with a sleepy whisper, eyes barely open.

‘Mister Jaczek’, sighed a voice. The voice had something inhuman in its tone, appearing very dry and to the point. Formal situations used his full surname, which surprised Jacz. ‘A unique event will occur in a few hours. Meteorological satellites detected an important group of… matter, which shall crash to the surface in a concentrated area several hundred kilometres from your position. We have prepared your method of transportation which will take you to the crash site. They are waiting.’

‘But the MeteoSat data didn’t show for any… debris… in orbit. I think you are mistaken, whoever you are. Actually, who are you? Why am I being called this late?’

‘Mister Jaczek’, the voice continued, ‘there is no mistake. We know of your position in the analysis of the MeteoSat data for weather services. You cannot refuse, because after your awareness of this event, we must be certain that others will not know of this information. We are not asking you to participate in the recovery, we are ordering you.’ The voice was chilling, yet calm and calculating, without the slightest hint of emotion.

‘So you leave me no choice… you know, I should be reporting you to the authorities, but I’ll trust you on this.’ Few people knew his job. And oddly enough, he felt no danger coming from the inhuman voice. What was there to lose for him?

‘A car is waiting outside.’ The call stopped, the communicator blinking silently in idle.

Jacz prepared a small bag as quickly as he could, carefully placing his tablet, and scrounged for some clothing that would keep him warm and dry. He exited his minuscule apartment and reached street level. That time of the year and in the middle of the night, not many people could be found outside, as the metal carcasses of the cars were shedding whatever heat they scrounged during daytime. The trees began shedding the large leaves of the warm season in favour of small needle-shaped leaves during the yearly hibernation.

A black car was parked next to the sidewalk, under the orange streetlights. The engine was purring quietly. A silhouette was visible inside, the face obscured by the dark windows. It seemed to turn towards Jacz as a door opened. Jacz entered and placed his bag next to him. He tried peering more closely at the silent driver, but all he could see was the reflection of a pair of circular glasses.

‘Mister Jaczek, an aircraft awaits at the local airport. We will arrive there within half an hour.’ The voice was not the caller’s, but the clear tone lacked any discernible warmth. ‘I cannot reveal more.’

The car rushed through the small streets of the residential district before entering a main road. They were leaving the metropolis behind, the surroundings darkening as buildings became sparse, leaving all the construction sites and jumbles of cranes in the city’s halo. The black car did not stay long on the road, engaging a smaller path surrounded by trees. A few concrete structures haphazardly lined the path. Jacz tried to close his eyes to get a bit more sleep, but the various questions with no answer kept him awake.


The aerotransporter touched down and the shock absorbers slid along their supports as they took the craft’s weight. The co-pilot entered the cabin. The other passengers were more alert, looking around themselves. Red low-visibility lights illuminated the cabin as Jacz was gazing at the other passengers. Two men and two women were seated alongside him. One of the women was trying to read something from her tablet, her lowered face glowing from the screen. A flight helmet hid most of her features. To her left, the other woman was trying to see something through the window. Upon noticing that Jacz was observing her, she turned towards him.

“Hell of a way to wake up,” she whispered as her eyes scanned the cabin. “Hi, I’m Neda, by the way…”

“Pleased to meet you. Jacz.”

“So do you know why we are here?” inquired the man next to Jacz. He was wearing a pair of thin rectangular glasses. The man’s shirt was crumpled and a few lingering droplets of humidity fell from the raincoat on his knees. “Sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. Zidek.”

“There was a phone call a few hours ago,” said Jacz, hesitant if he should continue. “Something about crash and space debris…”

The other woman took her gaze away from the screen and was observing the others, her eyes brightly lit by the machine in her hands.

“A crash from space? None of the satellites I’m tracking showed anything about debris in orbit. No space traffic is expected in this area either, so what the heck are we doing here?”

“A few minutes ago, I thought I saw a bright flash through the clouds. I have no idea what this is all about, or even what I have to do with some supposed space debris,” declared Jacz.

“We have landed.” rang out the pilot’s voice from the flight deck. “Take your possessions and exit through the rear of the craft. We have five minutes to clear the landing area.”

Before he finished his phrase, hydraulics hissed in the far rear of the cabin. The silhouette of the co-pilot and a series of containers were lit by floodlights. The co-pilot pushed a few switches and the bulky crates slid along rails, crashing softly on the grass outside. The sky was no longer as dark, but the masses of clouds still floated above.

The five passengers took their bags and exited through a side hatch. They could feel the warmth of the hot jets. As they distanced themselves from the aircraft, the cold rain poured on them once more. They ran along the grassy slope to further themselves from the strobes. The last crate thudded on the grass as the rear door shut itself. The aerotransporter lifted off the ground, twirled once before gaining altitude and rumbling westwards. Somewhere further in the distance, the lights of another aerotransporter briefly shone towards them before zooming in the clouds. The rumble of the turbines quieted down as the luminous points in the sky faded. For a few moments, there was silence. Not a sound to be heard. The patter of the rain on the coat returned Jacz to his present location. He started adjusted to the dim light, the silhouettes of his colleagues appearing next to him. He made a brief motion with his hands towards the containers, and the group advanced towards them.

The three metallic crates, of equal size, had been placed in a neat row. On one side, a tiny red emergency indicator cast a red glow on the grass. One of the men turned on a flashlight and inspected the crates, looking for the opening. He circled the object then placed the flashlight on the ground. Jacz approached the man while the three others sought a way to open a second container.

The opening was locked by a group of handles and instructions on the container’s capacity. The shiny metal surface did not have a unified paint scheme or any identifying features, which was odd considering it was standard practice to identify the owner. The handles were set to the open positions as a rattling noise clinked inside. Jacz took the lamp to light the interior.

There were wheels exposed beneath a drab tarp, resting on two traction strips used for stability during transport. On both sides of the small vehicle, smaller crates of assorted sizes were strapped to the walls.

“Looks like some kind of off-road vehicle,” said the man. “Look, there even appear to be additional synthoil drums for refuelling. I have no clue on what we’ll find out in those smaller boxes, but I guess we’ll soon find out.”

“Let’s get those other containers open first,” replied Jacz.

Jacz and the man turned towards the other container just as it was being opened.”

“An industrial suit!” Looks like our task will need some force!”

The suit slid out along the traction strips, on a flat pallet held by metal wires. Rain began falling on the exposed exoskeleton, of human shape, destined for a controller within its robust frame. Small dots of rust coloured the silvery surface, accreting around the joints. The controller harness featured a pair of headlights at the front, while the electronic inputs and a screen formed the instrument interface. Attachment points enabled the controller to be bonded to the exoskeleton, for precise and direct control of each joint. Both arms ended in long, flat pincers, controlled via multifunction gloves, hardwired into the suit.

Jacz moved towards the back of the suit, to glance at the engine powering the contraption. The air intakes, the turbine and the exhausts were all placed above the cylindrical fuel reservoir, attached solidly via a robust frame to the rest of the exoskeleton. The communication antenna, which would be carried folded on the left, was missing. Jacz entered inside the container to see the rest. A few fuel cells for the suit, as well as the materials to install a small outpost, namely power generators and communication and sensors. More boxes were anchored to the walls.

The third container had some construction equipment and add-ons for the buggy and the suit. A few tool boxes opened during the trip, tools spilled all over the floor. In one corner, several bags of rations had been tightly attached. Once the inspection was over, one of the now-empty containers was selected as the base, providing great water-tight cover against the rain pouring outside, and work began on installing the equipment. A secondary tent was constructed at the entry, increasing the dry area and connecting with another container. The metal beams creams and the tarp dripped constantly despite their efforts, but it would have to do. A flash of light caught Jacz’s eye, as he rapidly turned to face the source.

The bright beam of orange light pierced the cloudy cover and began flashing brighter and brighter, so bright that it began lighting the uneven ground over which it travelled. On another slope, Jacz saw a metallic reflection, but didn’t pay much attention. The object raced above their basecamp with a deafening roar, prompting them to duck and cover their ears. An incandescent column followed the object, the heat briefly warming the rain before vanishing in the night. The flash vanished behind a hilltop, and a few instants later a luminous glow engulfed the contour. The explosion rattled the ground beneath them as a loud crackle ripped the sky.

Jacz’s heart was racing from the violent spectacle, as he gazed back at the crash site where a column of smoke was now rising. More lights began appearing from the same direction, rapidly becoming fireballs, though appearing smaller than the chunk which had just crashed. He tried gazing more closely at one of the objects, his eyes unable to adjust to the vibrant brightness, while his legs were begging him to run away. Despite his instinct, he felt nailed to the soil, unable to move a single muscle in his legs, unable to react to the celestial torch. A halo of red surrounded a something smaller within.

The humid air became warm, the fireball seemingly heading straight for them. In a few moments, they could’ve sworn that the raindrops had turned to steam above them, as they felt intense warmth on their clothes and exposed skin. The rumbling noise, threatening to rupture their eardrums, forced them to cover their ears as best as they could, mouths wide open. Even the grass below seemed to feel warm. Jacz managed to win over his instinct and turned towards the fireball which had just passed over them, ending its trajectory on the neighboring slope.

A raucous detonation cracked the air as bright sparks raised off the ground, the shockwave pushing the grass away from the impact. The sphere of humidity crossed the sky, pushing Jacz to the ground with force. Blocks of earth lifted off alongside the sparks, raining in clumps over the white flash. Then, darkness engulfed the scene and smothered it in silence, a few snakes of fire falling to the ground before dying out, drenched by the rain. A few small fires lit the dark crater, tiny stars in a sea of vegetation.

More whistling crossed the sky, a bit further away, as dull thumps reverberated across the damp soil for another half an hour, time during which the group continued unpacking, using the suit and a winch installed on the small buggy. The contents were revealed to be an array of microscopes and composition samplers, along with their analysis units. Among the crates were several old communicators, seemingly forgotten inside the container for an undetermined period, which were distributed. Jacz checked his screen for any satellite coverage, but the indicator remained blank. Odd. The communicators had to do, as none of the tablets registered any connectivity. Two portable lamps were installed at the entry of the container, next to the humming electrical generators.

Jacz was moving a spare wheel when a hand gripped his shoulder.

“Hi, I’m Neken,” said a man behind him as Jacz turned to face him.

“Jacz.” His thoughts drifted elsewhere, still focused on the crashes, as his heart began beating faster, fighting fatigue with adrenaline.

The man was wearing a drenched waterproof cap, wearing long clothes, a style very reminiscent of the old terraformer outfits. He was quivering, rolls of warm breath fading away from his wet face.

“We finished unpacking the stuff in the shelter. But, uhh… we have no instruction on what to do here, in the middle of nowhere. From what we have, I’m guessing that we’re looking at chemical compositions, but that’s not my domain.”

“Nor is it mine. I work in meteorology.” Jacz lowered his voice, reducing it to a hissing whisper. “What just happened wasn’t supposed to be, or else I wold have known.”

“I work on collecting info from expeditions in the west and transmit them to several places. You know, with that recent storm that cost a few lives…”

“Yeah, I heard about it.” Jacz remembered the reports a few months back of severe electric storms that swept a string of faraway mining outposts. “You think we have to recover samples from those meteorites?”

“I hope so; I think they’ll shed some light on what this circus is all about, because I’m starting to lose patience.” Neken’s tone had risen, and he tried to regain some composure by erasing a line of cold sweat that ran along his cheek.

Jacz left Neken and went to start the buggy. The small vehicle came to life with a violent roar as a pair of bright headlights shone ahead on the shifting wet grass. It was decided to use the industrial suit to retrieve the samples, and the bulky suit was loaded onto the vehicle’s platform, strapped as tightly as possible to not fall off. The woman with the tablet chose to stay at basecamp while Jacz, Zidek, Neken and Neda headed towards the crash site.

“So nothing new on what we’re doing here?” asked Neda as she tried to keep her waterproof cap from sliding as she looked at the other members. Seeing the others focused on the difficult walk over the uneven terrain, she no longer expected an answer and merely focused with the task at hand.

Streaks of water ran along her rounded face, while her curious eyes scanned the burning crater ahead. The descent along the slope had been short, but the climb along the next slope began feeling itself in their legs, as the crater grew bigger. The suspensions of the buggy creaked under the weight and undulating terrain, rocks jutting out of soft mud.

As they approached the crater, they walked beside a long trench dug by the meteorite as it buried itself into the ground, trying to keep the buggy from sliding down into the damp soil. Zidek, who was driving the buggy, slammed on the brakes and the steering wheel to control the buggy, fighting the terrain, who threatened to swallow their only motorized transport. Jacz walked behind, scanning the landscape, pale orange glows dancing along the curtains of rain. For a moment, there was a flash of light, farther in the distance. Not a fire.

Jacz rubbed his eyes and peered closer in the same direction. The small beam of light shone again, shifting towards a neighbouring hilltop, where a second light flashed briefly. They were being watched.

The group of four reached the edge of the smoking crater, flames covering a black fragment the size of a small car. The egg-shaped object had fragmented on its left side, as small shards were burning beside it. Through several holes there was a thick smoke billowing away, while the rain dully pattered on the rough, charred texture. Small puddles had already formed around the object. Recovery would be a pain.

Neken was strapped inside the exosuit, placing his legs in the control harness. He buckled a belt across his chest and then slid his left arm into the machine’s arm. The turbine whined as it warmed up, whistling as it spooled and spewed hot air behind it. The floodlights in front of the suit lit up, casting a blinding white aura on the grass. Neken’s fake was cast in a blue glow as the instruments and control displays came to life. Neken began moving the arm, slowly, as the bulky mechanical contraption obeyed his inputs. He awkwardly took a step, then another, before trying out the left pincer. He tapped the keys inside before sliding his other arm.

The rusted joints squeaked as he tried to move them, but the movement remained fluid and the suit responsive to each command, its operator sighing with relief, a sound drowned by the whirr to the powerplant behind him. The suit approached the crater’s edge to examine the terrain below. Equipped with wide footsteps for low ground pressure, the suit slipped inside the crater, the metallic claws gripping the damp, spongy soil.

The three others accompanied Neken to the edge, but felt it was too risky to pursue further below. Jacz had the idea of checking the radiation from his spot, as a simple precaution, but his initiative faded away as he saw the halos of the headlight shine brightly on the meteorite.

There were cuts in the black objects, which seemed to reflect in neon green glows, emerging as bright scars from the charred outer surface. The exoskeleton identified a piece the size of a palm half-buried in the ground and approached to extract it. A small static surge travelled from the fragment to the pincer, which closed by itself in an instant, surprising Neken. He gave it another try, gripping the piece and turning it towards the other so they could see.

Still clutching on the sample, he climbed out of the crater. As he approached the others, they could now see a fine mist emanating from the objet, sizzling with each falling raindrop. Zidek rushed to the vehicle, returning moments later with a sterile container. The smooth metallic container, not larger than a suitcase, opened to reveal a silvery cylinder in its center, sealed by several mechanisms and affixed to two handles on its edges.

“It’s been a while since I’ve seen a container like that. Good hiding spot for candy during field expeditions,” remarked Neda with a grin. “So Jacz, can you carry this to our makeshift lab, and I guess we’ll come back shortly as well, okay?”

Jacz wanted to reply, but felt hesitant and simply nodded. There were too many questions weighing down his mind, and he wished to not raise their stress by mentioning what he had seen earlier. He took the container as Neda headed for the crater.

The all-terrain vehicle was several meters away, and the remaining three seemed busy with installing more equipment, while glancing at the crater from time to time. Jacz approached the vehicle, walking slowly, trying to hide his footsteps and shallow breath in the whine of the turbine. The headlights were on towards the group, concealing his shadow.

He placed the container on the grass and crouched next to the automobile, scanning the others’ actions. His hand slid along the chassis and stopped on a metal box affixed with wires. He carefully opened it, the slight squeak only audible to him. Inside, he found a pair of thick protective gloves. Jacz took the gloves, closed the box, and went back to the container. He slid into the darkness and hurried away, trying to gain distance as fast as possible. As he walked, various thoughts flooded him, as his mind’s eye saw the mysterious lights again. Did they know what he was doing? And who were they to begin with?

Once out of sight, Jacz stopped. He gazed around, trying to pierce the dark patches of sky, in search of the slightest luminous spot. The hillside now hid him from the crater and basecamp. He placed the container on the ground. Rain pattered on the flat metal, hammering away. He lit a small lamp, as low to the ground as possible. The tiny blue light melded with the verdant green of the grass. He shut down his communicator, stuffing it in a pocket.

Jacz opened the container, the locks protesting as the clinked. The black fragment was inside, protected by a yellowish foam. He took a glove and carefully extracted the item. No smoke came out of it this time. He approached it to his face, focusing on the side that had less mud. Most of the outer surface seemed burnt out, completely charred, but Jacz noticed something more curious.
Small indentations ran along a corner, placed in a half-erased rectangle. In the middle, it seemed like an arrangement of lines, vaguely similar to some kind of letter. Without a magnifier or a microscope, there was no way to be certain of what he was seeing. And yet… his eyes abandoned the indentations for a brief moment, as he noticed a row of faded rectangles running along the surface. Taken by surprise, his breath halted, the mist that rolled from his mouth having stopped. The faint forms were cracked, probably due to the re-entry, and without a closer inspection, these shapes could’ve gone unnoticed.

In the distance, towards the camp, he thought he saw a pale glimmer reflect off a lone tree. For now, the inspection would suffice. Before placing it back inside, Jacz smeared the inscriptions in mud. The container was once again closed and the tiny lamp shut off as he headed to basecamp.

As he approached, he could hear the quiet hum of a generator. The woman was busy at a table, inputting a series of commands in a composition analysis unit, which she hooked to the detector part. Water dripped from the cap she had left on the table, barely hitting her personal tablet. As she turned to continue on another task, she noticed Jacz’s wet silhouette.

“Definitely not the best night to do this kind of work,” she remarked with a low tone. Tired.

“Sorry… I do not think we have been introduced. Mina.”

“Jacz. We collected a sample, and placed it in a sterile container, Jacz replied as he presented the metal box. “The others should join us soon.”

“Well, they have just finished installing the lighting and the rest of the stuff. They told me to contact you, because they said that they couldn’t. I may have forgotten to do that…”

A droplet of sweat rolled over Jacz’s cheek, before diluting itself in the raindrops beading his skin. He had no reasons to worry, it was impossible that she knew more than him. But what if that wasn’t the case?

Jacz handed the container to Mina and left the shelter. No one seemed to suspect anything. Maybe it was the fatigue wearing everyone down. Still, he had to be wary. He closed his eyes and listened.
Behind him, Mina unlocked the box and extracted the piece with a pincer. She placed it on a plate, measuring its radioactivity. The device beeped, but chirped steadily, indicating that it was not dangerous. She sighed after discovering a small energy field surrounding the sample. With a thin jet of plasma, she hacked a minuscule fragment and inserted it in the composition analyser.

“Strange, the database doesn’t find an element or alloy resembling this. I just checked, the reference seemed complete before I did this. This doesn’t make any sense.”

Jacz reopened his eyes and returned to Mina. She was looking at him and swiftly made a beckoning motion.

“I’ll let the analysis run longer. In the meantime we can remove some of the mud. Would’ve been helpful if it was already clean,” Mina smiled.

Using alternating microbursts of air and water, the mud was removed with difficulty, clinging to the charred shell that had formed, and Jacz left some faint traces around the markings. From a quick glance, one would only see random scrapes and gashes. Natural-looking. The fragment was dimensionally scanned from all directions. Once synthesized, they would have a highly-detailed virtual model of the piece, allowing further visual analysis without needing the original. A common procedure, as she described it, extensively used in paleontology and biology, likely her field. Jacz wondered if it could have any use to his meteo sats. Neken’s voice crackled.

“We finished scanning the meteo… object. Unremarkable radiation emissions, a strange field around it.” A pause. “Things are a bit more complicated. This meteorite looks more like a capsule. We found what appear to be exhausts for maneuvering thrusters.”

Jacz felt his heartbeat accelerate. The discovery raised more questions than answers. Mina left her workstation and precipitated towards the communicator, which she now clutched vigorously.

“A capsule? I saw the piece you sent back, but calling it artificial?” She lowered the communicator, muttering a quick thought to herself.

“We could look at the piece more closely, while we’re waiting for more details from them,” Jacz intervened. “I thought I saw something abnormal on its surface…” He wanted to say more, but said no more.

“Neken, we’re waiting for you to come back. Leave the material that we can bring back later, it’s not an immediate priority.”

“Acknowledged.” The voice crackled one final time.

The communicator remained silent. Jacz and Mina were both looking at the fragment, one thinking how to reveal the discovery and the other wondering how it was part of a spaceship. Both trains of thought were stopped by a distant crackle. The noise slowly began building up in intensity, then remained constant.

“Is it possible to save all the data?” Jacz asked, hesitant. “I am not really trusting the recorders we have been provided.” He remembered his tablet, which was still in the luggage he had prepared after the call. Retrieving it, he made a wired connection to the data units. He had to copy all of the findings.

Outside the small building, the sky was getting a bit clearer, as the morning’s twilight began dancing towards the direction of the coming sunrise. The precipitations had become finer, transformed into a swirling mist carried by the wind.

“Jacz, I made a copy on my tablet. It would be appreciated if we could communicate the results, I’m sure that you…”

He turned to see Mina, who had just finished cleaning a side and stopped mid-phrase. “These results could degenerate the situation,” she declared with horror, “it’s almost as if we have been sent to collect debris from some secret crash. But why us?”

She took a picture of the indentations, hooking up with Jacz’s tablet. In the glow of the screens, what appeared to be letters did not resemble those of any language they knew of, which they agreed could be an interesting clue for the identity of the crash’s origin.

The distant crackling, constant up until this point, started growing louder. A pair of floodlights pierced the humid morning air and continued advancing towards basecamp. The lights approached head-on in the sky. A dark shape emerged.

The black helicopter was now visible, the blades slicing with fury the inert mist. The shockwaves sent the grass to the ground, lit by the blinding lights. The shrieking whine of the engines pierced the generator’s hum. The aircraft hovered in the air for a few moments, observing the two who were now staring at the sight.

It touched down on the hilltop’s small plateau, as a human figure slid outside the aircraft to approach basecamp. In the camp’s lights, the figure was clad in a pilot suit, similar to the aerotransporter’s crew. The face was hidden by a black flight helmet, completed by a pair of orange lenses on which data trickled. The bulky suit carried a small portable oxygen tank at the waist.

The boots crushed the soft grass as it approached them. He stopped at the edge of the small building.

“Miss Mina, Mister Jacz, your experiment has concluded. Prepare your luggage swiftly and follow me.” His tone was direct, filtering through the helmet’s communication system. Jacz and Mina looked at each other, stupefied, then faced the man:

“Where are the others? What exactly is happening?” Jacz asked.

“The others are also being evacuated. All extracted samples remain here. We cannot provide more information. Now, take your luggage and follow us to the aircraft.” The pilot abruptly turned around and headed back towards the helicopter.

The two followed his instructions. Before leaving, Jacz made sure that his tablet contained the data. Once home, he could start digging for information. As he left, Mina glanced towards the pilot to make sure that he wasn’t watching, then leaned to Jacz and whispered:

“The analysis is complete. No result, the material is not a known compound.”

Jacz furled his eyebrows, but erased the expression quickly, and focused on keeping his heartbeat from racing any further. They had to be on some kind of crash site for a military experiment, and he wasn’t sure what would follow. It was highly improbable that they had been selected at random. If it was so, they wouldn’t have been surveyed so closely by whatever glimmered in the hills. Were they part of the same organisation? Why civilians? The questions raced through his mind, each
barely able to form as a newer one appeared, and yet there were no answers.

They embarked the helicopter through a side hatch, and the crew asked them to secure the luggage in a storage bin beneath the floor. The blades began turning with power as the vehicle lifted off. The interior was basked in darkness, faint reflections off the metallic interior emanated from the cockpit lights. Through small rain-covered windows, Jacz saw the basecamp and all the unpacked equipment they were leaving behind, the dim lights still on. He tried gazing through the heavy clouds in search of other vehicles, but the helicopter quickly reached the cloudline, obscuring everything in an even tone of grey. Unable to stop himself, he felt his eyelids lower, his respiration calming down and plunging him into a much-needed deep sleep.
Rain of Fire (part 1)
A call in the middle of the night plunges Jacz into a mystery with ramifications deeper than he could imagine, or even hoped. The fall of some space debris of unknown origin places him inside a larger conspiracy involving a phantom organization.

Translated from the original that I wrote in French.

Part 2:…
Part 3:…
Bubblegum, God Princess of Candykind
"Peeps will never starve in my eternal empire."

Adventure Time meets WH40k. 

It's been... over two years? My very first submission, and perhaps what even prompted me to use Deviantart to post art, was sharing the idea of likening PB to the God Emperor, caring for her kind in an uncertain universe divided into four elements. It certainly took off afterwards, with tons of various ideas coming from left and right, and continuing to build on what I have established thus far. I found it fitting to revisit the very first piece and how I would see it as an artist nowadays. Behold, in all her glory, the saviour and protector of candykind, ever vigilant from her Gingerbread Throne!

And yes, the first drawing was every bit as crude as I'd consider it, using techniques I was uncertain of (with regards to ink outlines), but I'm happy to say that I've come a long way and do feel a tangible improvement:…
FW190-D13 (old)
First version of my drawing, back in October '16. Tried emulating a lovely cover picture of the FHC's Fw 190 A-5 in flight.
Yellow 10
Usually I don't draw existing stuff, but I made an exception for the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 D-13, currently preserved at the FHC in Everett, an airworthy aircraft, but likely grounded for a long time.

:iconneiot: Here you go, as promised! 

edit: Better. Old one moved to scraps.


Medjoe's Profile Picture
Claudiu Oltean
Aerospace Engineering student, sci-fi enthusiast, grew up reading Jules Verne
Drawing, writing and building stuff (and anything in between?), slowly tackling a long list of projects in no particular order...

For I have become neon...


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Starlight-SterioWing Featured By Owner Edited Mar 21, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
hey! sorry, i had to ask when i saw the name, but do you happen to be Medjoe on WoT as well? and do you play on the NA server?
also, holy snap, this artwork is amazing!
Medjoe Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017
The one and the same. I used to play on NA, but haven't played in a while. Thank you for the watch! :)
Starlight-SterioWing Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
lol good to see you!
im not sure if you remember, but im Dubstep_Dragon. (changed my name now)
but i remember seeing you in training rooms i think with your T54 and the Centurion. lol
Medjoe Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2017
Ah, yes, that username does sound familiar.
Gunnut51 Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2016  Hobbyist Artist
Medjoe Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2016
Thank you very much! :)
Jesse220 Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2016
Happy Birthday
Medjoe Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2016
Thank you for the wish! :)
Jesse220 Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2016
You bet
Dreamerforever2004 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2016
Happy Early Birthday! :)
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