- Author: Nick Cole
Book online «Strange Company Nick Cole (best classic novels TXT) 📖». Author Nick Cole
Strange Company Log Keeper’s note.
Copyright © 2021 by Nick Cole
All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher and copyright owner.
Edited by David Gatewood
Cover Art: Pascale Blanche
Formatting: Kevin G. Summers
Wherever in the universe one happens to find them, an old battlefield, a forgotten glade, buried deep in the rubble of a dead and beam-ravaged world, the graves of Strange Company are often marked such:
Strangers to the Universe, Brothers to the End.
Strange Company Log Keeper’s note.
I’m cutting this out of the main log files and setting it for upload in the event of my death. Our story of what happened is long, and of course, very strange. We are mercenaries, private military contractors, formed long ago into a company at the earliest moments of stellar exploration. There have been eighteen log keepers before my current duty shift as the keeper of our collective history. The teller of Strange Company’s deeds. We’ve been there, done that, and left the dead to prove it. We’ve seen terrible things, and incredibly beautiful things. The Rings of Corus burning in the vastness of space at the siege on Zero Station beyond the shattered world of Far Reach. The big G-Ships engaging in beam combat over the Cimarron Desert in the last hours of the Fall of Ae-Phaerax. The living machines of Psionica coming out to do battle like the waves of a cruel ocean that would crush everything. But the company allying with the Seeker, a rogue Monarch, is a critical event in the company’s very strange history. And possibly… the reason for its bad ending. And so, it must be noted as such. If only so someone might know what became of us. The tragedy of Strange Company. And who we once were.
These events began in 2645 MR…
That day, our first op planetside, was his show to run. We didn’t even see the captain and the initial op order. And of course, we got the frago from the old drunk Stinkeye himself when he waddled into our barracks that hot morning and told us to get our lazy carcasses in gear. The war was on whether the other side believed it or not. We had an opportunity to make some trouble and he was “in a mood to.” We’d just finished morning PT and the day was already hot and sweaty, but still you could smell the reek of Stinkeye’s gutter liquor on his rank breath as he came into the bay and squinted at us through his one good eye. Both eyes work. Or at least I think they do. It’s just that he only ever uses the one to glare around at everybody, wishing the galaxy nothing but bad. As is his way. Always weaving slightly as he studies whose soul he might steal today. His voice a hypnotic broken screen door as he promises unholy death and destruction on anyone who dares dispute or mock him.
But these are hard men. They’ve faced worse. Been low on ammo and hip-deep in trouble. They don’t scare easily. Even if Stinkeye is the closest thing to a witch the galaxy has to offer.
I think male witches are called warlocks. For the record. And this is a record.
Stinkeye’s gear and fatigues are old. Old from wars that ended hundreds of years ago and to which some of the older log files give reference. I mean like really old. I don’t recognize the camo pattern from any conflict I’ve ever been in. In fact, there’s no real pattern left in them, they’re so blown out with wear and tear. They’re just olive drab now, and somehow so washed and faded they match his tired old dark skin. Like he’s some kind of walking ghost of all the soldiers that ever humped rucks on foreign worlds. I think he’s what the original Earthers used to call Asian. So either he’s from the Constellations of Pan, or he’s actually Asian from way back on Earth and whatever place exactly constituted Asia on the mysterious home world of mankind’s birth. Except his skin is black like a sunburn that took twenty years to earn and decided to hang on for what remained of the life inside. Like a scar. A badge. Or a memory.
Stinkeye is technically a Strange Company warrant officer. He mutters under his breath and growls ominously when he isn’t insulting everyone right to their face. Never talks. Just mutters oaths and curses, or shouts like the F Class starport drunk on payday night. It’s all part of his “space war wizard” act. He once told me, when I found myself accidentally drinking with him and wondering how fast I could pound and get out, that he likes to cultivate “the mystery of himself.” Which is fine. Origin stories inside the Strange Company are sacred and often linked to crimes and bounties on other worlds best left undiscovered. All of us are wanted somewhere. A few even for reasons that aren’t actually crimes. Best to keep the truth hidden by a body of lies, unless… you feel the grim astronaut of death coming for you on the next op. Then… settle your soul as best you can remember and try to expend as much brass as possible before you go down. Your brothers in the Strange Company appreciate your last efforts on their behalf.
“Up with yer carcasses, we