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4/5 (1 rating)
313 pages
4 hours
Jul 7, 2016


Decades ago, Greysuit technology was banned across the Hundred Worlds.

Now, as a dangerous terrorist organization attempts to develop an army of Greysuit super soldiers, the fragile peace of those same worlds hangs in the balance.

Singled out because of her genetic heritage, Aera joins a handful of other misfits on a dead end world under the supervision of a crusty veteran and his odd colleagues.

Together they'll have to survive training and Greysuit fusion, become outlaws, and risk everything they love for one chance to fight back before it’s too late.

Jul 7, 2016

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Greysuits - Nathan Lee Green



She walked to the reception area, still in her scrubs.

‘Someone here to see me?’ she asked.

‘Yeah,’ the receptionist said, pointing to the waiting room. ‘In front of the green wall, last row.’

Aera nodded and walked out to the waiting area. An older man, maybe in his sixties, looked up in her direction and smiled. He stood and walked toward her.

‘Aerabel,’ he said. ‘I haven’t seen you since you were a baby, just a little thing.’ He held his hands apart, showing her how small.

Had Aera come across this man alone in a dark alley, she would have turned and walked the other direction. He looked like he had just been released from prison. Or escaped. Hair and beard shaved to a short grey stubble, hard leather overcoat, and old clunky boots.

He reminded her of the old miners she so often treated in the hospital, worse for wear and past their prime, but with a look in their eye that let any healer caring for them know they were not about to take it easy in their old age, so do not bother suggesting it.

‘Hello,’ she said. ‘How do you do?’

‘I do better and better,’ he answered. ‘My name is Ruck Kedder.’ He held out his hand. ‘I knew your parents.’

Reaching out her hand to shake his, Aera froze. ‘Really? You did?’

He nodded. ‘I did.’

Aera realized he still had his hand out. She shook it.

‘I know this is unseemly,’ he said, ‘A strange old man asking a beautiful young lady, but I would very much like to take you to lunch. If you are free, of course.’

Aera hesitated. She knew nothing about this man, where he was from, why he was here, or how he had found her. And she had intended to go home and study for second class healer exams. But she did need to eat, and if he had really known her parents—

‘Okay,’ she said.

‘Great, do you have a favorite restaurant nearby?’

‘Um, yeah, there’s a—’ Aera paused to sneeze. ‘Sorry. Allergies. There’s a pub two levels up that most of the staff go after their shifts. We can take a can. I’ll just go and change real quick if that’s alright.’

‘Sounds perfect, Miss Sevens. I’ll be right here.’

The blood rushed to Aera’s face. She swept her eyes around the room to see if anyone had heard.

Other than Aera’s aunt, no one in the entire Coz knew her connection to the name Sevens. And certainly not crazy old men from off the street claiming to have known her as a baby. Maybe she should just forget the whole thing and call it a day.

‘Everything okay?’ the man asked, eyes earnest with concern. He did have a certain grandfatherly quality she found hard to resist, despite his ex con appearance.

‘Yeah,’ she said. ‘It’s just,’ she lowered her voice to a whisper, ‘Maccarin is my last name, not— the other name.’

He nodded. ‘My mistake.’

‘It’s okay. I’ll be right back.’ She left the waiting room and walked to the healers’ quarters. She hopped in the shower, rinsed, and dried in the warmth of the vents and heat lamps, then dressed and checked herself in the mirror.

Jeez, she thought. Hopefully no one sees me out like this.

Her hair fell to her shoulders in a tangled dark brown mess. Brown watery eyes peeked out past heavy lids. And her skin looked no better for the shower, still pale and clammy from lack of sleep and sunlight.

Beautiful young lady, he had said. Not today, Aera thought.

Stop delaying. She stuffed her scrubs into her backpack and walked back to the waiting area.

Tunnels led to and from every part of the underground colony. Some for walking, others for high speed public transit trains, which the residents of Oksari called cans.

Aera led Ruck Kedder out of the hospital and they caught the next available upbound can.

Two levels up from the hospital, they decanned and walked toward the Atrium, the hollow core at the center of the colony and its primary source of natural light.

The Atrium had been gouged out of the planet by the early miners, long before the old mines had become a colony to support the new ones. Now it stretched from the surface straight down one hundred and eighty levels to the bottom of Oksari Colony.

Atwood’s Tavern sat at the corner of Sixth and Copper, on the fifty ninth level. Light from the Atrium beamed down the broad, high tunneled streets, bouncing off well placed mirrors. The mid day temps were warm and the after lunch crowd nearly non existent, so they sat out front at a metal table under a big decorative umbrella.

‘It’s been a while since I’ve eaten at a restaurant with menus,’ Kedder said, looking down at his menu like a puzzle he did not want to solve. ‘What’s good here?’

Aera blew her nose. ‘Can’t go wrong with a bean burger,’ she said.

‘Local beans or imported?’

‘All local. There are farms and gardens all over the sunny side of the Atrium.’

‘Good, I’ll have one of those, with the works.’

Aera spoke their orders to the table. ‘Anything to drink?’ she asked him.

‘They have sasparilla here?’ he asked.

She touched the surface of the table, causing the metal to shift and swirl, then said, ‘Yep, they do.’ She ordered it, then looked up at him with a raised eyebrow and a hint of smile. ‘You seem a little tough to be drinking a child’s soda. I would have pegged you for whiskey or rum. A light beer at the very least.’

‘No,’ he looked up at the underside of the umbrella. ‘My whiskey and rum days, even my light beer days, are far behind me. And it just so happens sasparilla is good for you.’ He looked at her and winked. ‘Lots of nutrients.’

She smirked.

A silent moment passed.

‘Aera,’ Kedder said, ‘How do you like your life?’

‘Wow, that’s quite an opener.’ She gave him a second to specify, but he only sat and waited. ‘I’ve got a good life,’ she said. ‘Oksari’s not a bad place. My aunt raised me here from a baby. Sometimes she thinks she’s still raising me.’ She smiled. ‘I’m the only family she’s got. And vice versa. I’ve got a good career that gives me the chance to help people everyday. I’ve got a lot to be happy about.’

‘What led you into the healing profession?’ he asked.

She hesitated. ‘My mother. She was a healer, and I’ve always wanted to follow in her footsteps. I never knew her, so I feel like it gives me a kind of connection to her. Besides, I like knowing I’m making a difference. All the miners here on Oksari would be dead if we weren’t around to keep them alive.’

‘I assume your aunt told you your mother was a healer?’

She cocked her chin to one side and narrowed her eyes. ‘Yes,’ she answered, dragging the syllable out and making it a question.

He took a deep breath and sighed. ‘Your aunt is not telling you everything.’

She stared at him. ‘How well did you know my—’ She sneezed. ‘Sorry. My parents?’

‘Very well,’ he said. ‘I trained them. They met in my program. I attended their wedding. I went to the hospital when you were born. They were probably my favorite students, more like a son and daughter than my own kids.’

‘Then how come I never heard about you? And what program? My dad was an engineer. My mom was a healer. When would they have been in the same training program?’

‘Aera, your parents were not the people you think they were. I don’t know what else your aunt told you about them, but I can tell you for certain your dad was not an engineer, not professionally, and your mom was not a healer.’

‘The things you don’t know about them,’ he continued, ‘They’re not bad things. But over the years, perspectives have shifted and these days people like your parents and myself aren’t seen in such a good light, but that’s just because history has been rewritten so many times people don’t care to know the truth anymore.’

Their food and drinks slid onto the table, delivered by a rolling server bot. ‘Need anything else?’ the bot asked in dulcet tones.

Aera did not look at the food or respond to the bot, just continued staring at Kedder.

Kedder waved the bot off. ‘We’re fine,’ he told it. He watched the machine roll back inside the restaurant. ‘The truth is,’ he whispered to Aera, ‘Your parents were senshi.’

Aera shrugged. She had no idea what that meant.

‘Greysuits,’ Kedder whispered.

Aera erupted in laughter. ‘You really had me going,’ she said. She wiped her eyes with a napkin, then blew her nose into it. ‘Ahhh, I needed that. It’s been a long day.’

He smiled. ‘I know it sounds crazy, but it’s not a joke. It’s true. They were two of the best.’

Mentally unwell, she thought, I should’ve picked up on it sooner. ‘So you’re trying to tell me my parents were criminal terrorists,’ she said. He gestured for Aera to lower her voice. ‘Who used illegal super suits to make themselves into indestructible killing machines?’

‘No,’ he replied. ‘I’m trying to tell you your parents were part of a peace keeping mission, from which the ‘super suit’ technology was eventually appropriated and misused by criminal terrorists, which led to the Greysuit Treaty, which ended all Greysuit use and development everywhere,’ he turned his head to look out along the street, ‘Until now.’

‘How— What— Wait. Until now? Why now?’

‘Aera,’ he turned to face her, ‘I came here because someone out there is developing Greysuits again, and not with good intentions.’ He picked up his burger. ‘Ever heard of Sela Karana?’

Aera nodded. ‘He’s on the Six Nations’ most wanted lists. Leader of Kwainai Nation, right?’ The notorious terrorist organization had been filling all the headlines lately. ‘Isn’t there a rumor he can’t be killed, that he’s died and come back to life several times?’

‘Right,’ Kedder said, swallowing a bite. ‘That’s him. Kwainai Nation was just a ragtag bunch of malcontents until Karana showed up from who knows where. Now they’re the single greatest threat to peace and order in the Coz.’

He took a drink, then leaned closer.

‘Once Karana has active suits,’ he said, ‘Which won’t be long, the only hope in the free universe of stopping him will be other Greysuits. You are the child of two great senshi. Chances are you’d be exceptional yourself.’

Kedder took an envelope from the inside pocket of his coat, slid it across the table.

‘I know you’ll need time to think it over,’ he said, ‘So here’s where I’ll be in three weeks. Tickets are inside and paid for. If you don’t show, I’ll know you weren’t interested.’

‘You said you became a healer,’ he continued, ‘To learn about your mother and to honor her, and to make a difference in the universe. If you come train with me to be a Greysuit senshi for Freedom Guard, you’ll go through exactly the same process they went through, learn everything they learned, even train with some of the same people they worked with. And I can give you the opportunity to make a far greater difference in the world than any healer.’

Aera opened the envelope and pulled the tickets out. They looked real. The final destination was a planet called Koraal. According to the Six Nations Yen value stamped on each ticket, they had cost a lot of money. She did not know what to believe now.

‘What else do you know about my parents that I don’t?’ she asked. ‘Did their deaths have anything to do with this— with— with being Greysuits?’

‘They died because you were more important to them than anything else in the universe. When the treaty was signed, I went on the run. But they didn’t want that kind of life for you, so they did what they were supposed to do and underwent Greysuit diffusion.’ He sighed. ‘Your dad died a year later. Your mom, six months after that. It wasn’t supposed to happen. They were told they could live normal, healthy lives. They never would have done it if they had known they’d be orphaning you. I can promise you that.’

Aera stared at the table, speechless.

After a moment of silence, he said, ‘I’m sorry to drop all this on you and go, but I have a flight to catch. Time is short and there are others like you all over the Coz who I need to talk to.’

He laid some cash on the table for their meal and stood.

‘Use the tickets,’ he said. ‘No commitment, just a chance to find out more. If nothing else, you get a free trip to a place you’d probably never see otherwise.’ He smiled.

Aera remained seated. She nodded.

Kedder walked to Aera’s side of the table and laid a weathered hand on her shoulder.

‘It was a pleasure meeting you,’ he said. ‘Your parents would be very proud of who you’ve become.’

She heard his footsteps echo across the restaurant patio, then down the street.


Aera’s aunt worked at a farm on the sunny side and would not be home for another three or four hours.

Aera could not wait. She had to talk to her right away.

After a quick trip around the Atrium to the other side, then another ride up sixteen levels to the level her aunt usually worked on, she decanned and found a service bot.

‘Can you tell Me’lia Maccarin her niece is here?’ Aera asked the bot.

‘Yes, Miss Maccarin,’ it said and hovered off toward the greenhouses.

Aera leaned against a window sill and looked out at the rotating stands of crops. The afternoon light outlined every leaf and bud in a golden halo. Off to her left, bees buzzed over the flower gardens, collecting pollen they would take back to hives a few levels up, the only insects to escape protein harvesting. If ancient Earth contained more beauty than scenes like these, she could not imagine it.

She sneezed.

‘Aera,’ her aunt called, marching toward her from the greenhouses. ‘Come, the bot will open the gate.’

The little service bot flew ahead of Aera’s aunt and unlocked the security gate when it came near. Aera pushed the gate open and heard it lock behind her. She made her way to Aunt Me’lia.

‘What are you doing here?’ her aunt asked. ‘Shouldn’t you be asleep at home after your shift?’ She stretched out her arms for a loose hug, trying not to dirty Aera’s clothes with soil and fertilizer.

‘I know. I should be. But I need to talk to you.’

Aunt Me’lia nodded. ‘Come then, I’ll show you how the tomato trees are doing. I may even have a defective pineapple that needs disposing of, if you know what I mean.’

Aera smiled. Just seeing her aunt and hearing her voice made everything better, made everything Kedder had said fade, drifting from disturbing possibility to unreasonable nonsense.

They entered the greenhouses and Aunt Me’lia pointed out recent changes since Aera had last been there. Aera half listened to her aunt, inhaling the pungent aromas of tropical and warm weather plants, scents she had grown up with. She had spent much of her young life at the farms.

‘So what is so important you had to come all the way over to talk about it right now?’ her aunt asked.

‘Well,’ Aera hesitated, trying to find the right words, ‘A man came to see me at the hospital today. I don’t even know how he knew where to find me. He was maybe in his sixties, kind of rough looking, but nice.’ She paused. ‘He said he knew mom and dad.’

Aera’s aunt stopped walking, but did not turn around.

‘He said— It sounds ridiculous now, but he said—’ Aera lowered her voice, ‘He said they were Greysuits, that they met in some special program, that mom wasn’t a healer and dad wasn’t an engineer, and that the reason—’ she took a deep breath, ‘The reason they died was because they tried to, I don’t know, to be normal again—diffusion, I think he called it—and it killed them.’

Aera’s aunt still did not turn to face her, but asked, ‘What did he want?’ There was an edge to her voice.

‘He said he wanted to recruit me. He said,’ Aera dropped to a whisper, ‘Kwainai Nation is trying to create their own Greysuits and the only way to stop them is for Freedom Guard to have Greysuits, and that I’m a good candidate for it because of my parents. He even gave me tickets, expensive tickets, to meet him in a few weeks if I’m interested—’

‘Are you?’

‘What? Interested? Well, no, I mean, he’s gotta be lying right? I mean that stuff can’t be true about mom and dad. You would have told me. Right?’

Aera’s aunt finally turned to face her, crossed her arms, and looked up at the greenhouse roof. She stared up for a moment, then looked at Aera. ‘I wanted to tell you,’ she said, ‘But the older you got, the harder it became. I know that a person’s heritage can affect them very deeply, especially for an—’ she hesitated.

‘Orphan,’ Aera said, the edge now in her voice.

‘Yes,’ Aunt Me’lia sighed. ‘You have had to live with your grandfather’s legacy already. You found out about that and there was nothing I could do. But I didn’t want you to feel the same shame about your parents, too. That would be too much to bear. For anyone.’

Aera was stunned. Her aunt turned and continued walking.

‘What? That’s it?’ Aera asked.

‘There is nothing more to say. You know the truth now. You know enough to know you cannot go chasing that man. We will not discuss this again.’

Aera felt her face go hot. Not discuss this again! She almost yelled at her aunt, but restrained herself. It would not be proper. Instead she kicked over a planter and stomped out of the greenhouse.

I can’t believe it, she thought, blowing her nose as she marched back to the farm entrance. What else don’t I know?

The service bot unlocked the main gate. Aera marched out of the farm, then paced back and forth in front of the can stop while she waited for the next one to arrive.

Bad enough growing up in the shadow of the Sevens name, always hoping no one would find out. Now this on top of that? It’s not fair.

Kedder made it sound like her parents were heroes, though. Not people to be ashamed of. He spoke so highly of them. And, as it turned out, he had told her the truth.

In the days that followed, Aera’s aunt acted as if nothing had happened. Aera was happy to play along. That was what they did with tension in their tiny family. They pretended it did not exist.

Then the bomb went off.

Almost a week had passed since her conversation with Kedder. Aera was at home asleep in the middle of the day when the phone rang. And rang. And rang. She tried to sleep through but it would not stop.

Tired and annoyed, she finally picked it up. ‘Hello.’

‘Oh thank God,’ her aunt said on the other side. ‘I was so worried.’

‘Why?’ Aera sniffled. ‘What’s going on?’

‘There’s been some kind of explosion in the upper third. It killed a lot of people. Thank God you’re safe.’

Aera heard sirens outside, which meant emergency zipflies in the Atrium. ‘I’ve gotta get to the hospital. They may need extra hands.’

‘Do you have to go? I’d feel much better knowing you’re home.’

‘It’s my job, Auntie. If it’s serious, they’ll need all the help they can get.’

‘Okay. Please be safe. Let me know when you get there.’

‘I will. I’ll talk to you later. You be safe too.’

By the time Aera arrived at the hospital, it was at full alert. Early reports indicated a bomb planted in the heart of the shopping district. At least twenty people dead and many more injured.

Aera worked six hours before her first break. She called her aunt at home and let her know she was fine but would not be back anytime soon. She hung up and ate a quick meal in the cafeteria before heading back into the fray.

The next time Aera crawled into her warm bed at home, she had been awake for twenty hours. She tried to clear her mind of the images she had seen. Missing limbs. Faces embedded with shrapnel. Hospital corridors marked by trails of blood.

Aera and her fellow healers witnessed the results of tragic accidents all the time. Accidents. But this had been on purpose. Someone out there had made it their goal to destroy other people’s lives. People they did not even know.

She flicked on the holo over her bed. A projection of ancient Earth appeared, spinning slowly in the air above her.

If only we could find a way back to you, she thought.

Maybe if humanity could return to its homeworld, they would not do these kinds of things to each other.

Don’t be stupid, she thought. They did the same things to each other on Earth.

Aera took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.

She focused on the oceans first, spouting off the names of each as they had been called in the last inhabited era of Earth’s history, thousands of years ago.

Then she named the continents. Then the countries.

She fell asleep somewhere in Africa.


When Aera next emerged from her room to interact with the world, her aunt was home watching the news.

‘Morning,’ Aera said, trudging into the kitchen.

Aunt Me’lia clicked off the holo and joined Aera in the tiny kitchen. ‘You sit down,’ her aunt said. ‘I’ll make you some eggs and porridge. You want some tea?’

Aera sat on a barstool across from her aunt, blew her nose, and laid her head on the bar. ‘Yes, please.’

‘Was it bad?’ her aunt asked, sliding the water kettle into its hotnotch.

‘Yeah,’ Aera sighed. ‘Worst I’ve ever seen.

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