S.E. Soldwedel's latest update for Disintegration

Sep 15, 2016

Here’s a little excerpt of what I’m editing, with its not to Arthur C. Clarke.

***

 Rene sat himself at another console and ran his hands blindly over the controls with accuracy borne of countless repetition.  “So, I hear you’re an engineer.”

Daedalus shrugged.

“We definitely need someone like you.”

“It seems like you need a lot of things, here.”

Alors.” Rene screwed up his mouth. “I don’t even know what I’m looking for here. And I wouldn’t trust this shit to find it for me, anyway.”

He punched up the surveillance from the corridor where Sargas escaped his cell.

“Look at this,” he called to Daedalus, who brought his attention to the scene of Sargas stepping out of the cell only to be bombarded by weapons fire.

“Wow,” Daedalus remarked as he watched the energy blasts fail to cause any damage. “What do you suppose that is?”

“Looks like he’s got some kind of force field … some kind of disparate energy that negates our weapons. But he’s got no tech on him … I mean, he’s naked. Unless it’s up his ass or something.”

Rene was not far off, although the technology wasn’t located in only one place within Sargas’ body. The Von Neumann nanomachines in his blood self-replicated and could be secreted through his pores, coating his skin, then activated via nervous response to act as fractal camouflage that effectively rendered him invisible.

“Some kind of massive kinetic discharge is all I can guess,” Rene continued. “EM interference. I don’t know. That … or magic.”

“Psh… Magic,” Daedalus scoffed.

“What’s the difference, really?" asked Rene. "Like telepathy is easier to get your head around? It’s all magic; it’s all incomprehensible shit that defies explanation. The word is just the catch-all for ‘I don’t know how the fuck he did it—’ Holy shit! Look!” Rene pointed at the screen as Sargas metamorphosed into the fierce, naked alien creature.

“How do you suppose he did that?” asked Daedalus.

Rene shrugged. “Je ne sais pas. Maybe some kind of camouflage that let’s him project different appearances.” Again, his inference was correct; the nanomachines could also transmit a holographic image of whatever the host desired to project.

“Do you know who that is?” Daedalus asked.

“It’s the same guy as before, just … different.”

“No. That ... whatever it is … looks just like Darek Marseh.”

“The red Emperor …” Rene said, unconvinced. “You think he’s masquerading as a, uh, well-hung human male?”

“All I know is that thing looks like every representation of Marseh I’ve ever seen or heard of. The drawings, the word-of-mouth accounts.”

Rene sighed and got up from the console. “So, what now?” 

Daedalus asked. “Let’s go find His Royal Highness.”