by Paul Hughes
forum: enemy
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

......... ....... ..... ..

by Paul Hughes

winner of the Fall 2002 Booksurge Editor's Choice Award.

by Paul Evan Hughes

Publisher: Silverthought Press
ISBN 1-58898-047-2 

356 pages

purchase from amazon.com.


A boy, a girl, and the end of the world...  enemy, the first book in Paul Hughes's silverthought trilogy, is a chronicle of a war outside of space and time and the lives that it tears apart in its wake.

The Judas, the last survivors of a machine-initiated extinction incomprehensibly far into the future, live out their lives in the spaces between the stars and the Whens.  Tough, battle-hardened, exhausted after centuries of war, they pursue the Enemy, machine-based lifeforms whose sole Purpose is to upload the last few survivors into their precious Program Seven.

At its heart, enemy is the tragic story of the love between Simon and Maggie, a bond that transcends death and the void between the stars.  Overcome with the need to avenge Maggie's death at the hands of the Enemy, Simon is filled with blind rage and hatred for the nemesis that is destroying all of existence.  The characters in enemy are realized through an intriguing and at times lyrical use of flashback.  Non-linear and postmodern, enemy challenges the reader with multiple storylines playing across multiple timelines.  Tragic, touching, frightening...  enemy will take you to place beyond time and space, a place where the love between two people is sometimes the only thing worth fighting for.

A war beyond space and time: throngs of humanity carving a crimson swathe across the night sky. Machines versus flesh, today versus yesterday.  Stretching from the terrifyingly-near future to the impossibly-far past, enemy will take you on a journey from the beginning to the end to the beginning of time.


novel excerpts:

an excerpt from enemy: coming of the storm.

         maggie, don't leave me. i can't do this without you.

         A part of his soul was gone forever, and in its place, something black was born. He would make the Enemy suffer. He would hunt them down to the last traitor.

         Judas Simon was reborn in the fire of her death.

* * *

         It was beauty and it was terror and it was all.

         One hundred grams of alloys and plastics and the echoes of biology, the decision was made and the machine was hurtled from a rocket bay miles within the planet to the farthest reaches of the system. The primary propulsion rockets separated and the solar sail deployed in a flash of gossamer golden filaments. The sail spread out to grasp the stars, and a fusion concussion fed the ever-increasing velocity of the precious spacecraft. At several million astronomical units and several hundred thousand years, the unit achieved nine-tenths light speed. The journey of infinity had begun.

         Nanotechnological ramscoops collected the materials required to procreate, and in the night between the galaxies the tiny vessel created an exact copy of itself. The two remnants of a civilization now aeons dead separated and for an instant the first machine felt an emotion. It dismissed the feeling and began to replicate another child. The second vessel set off on an alternate trajectory, the deployed solar sail sweeping eerily before it, mute golden wings in the void of silence and nothing, forever departing from its immaculate and sole parent.

         For billions of years the process continued. The original machine died, but the infinite spawn carried the message forever onward. The universe became populated with the machines. The expansion of existence eventually forced the universal heat death. Organic life became an impossibility, and the technological lifeforms flourished. The machines continued onward, waiting for the time that their precious cargo could live again.

         When all fell back together, the machines fell silent. Maximum expansion had been achieved. When they encountered a solar system, sometimes organic life could be reconstituted from the biological patterns recorded so long ago on a planet in a system long dust. Now all that they could do was wait for that life to grow anew.

         In those days between the death of everything and the rebirth of less than humanity, it hurtled into damnation and spawned and its progeny spread outward and outward and consumed everything in their path and before Omega it judged that all that it had created was good and redeemable and it sent the newborns back into the blackness to save those unfortunate enough to have remained behind.

         They would live forever. In the ocean of silver fire, Omega would be the salvation and the nirvana and the extinction and the hereafter.

* * *

         The void between the stars was torn open, and for an instant, a darker Blackness existed.

         The world became light, and the Judas Magdalene fell to her destiny.

         Within the chaos of the night, countless futures died.

         "Where'd they come from? There shouldn't be any activity back this far! Even if Command--"

         (they could've known that already.)

         "They're jeopardizing everything. We have to send word to the others."


         He felt it. "The Shadow?"

         (fatal error. drive containment critical. ten cycles max until containment loss and drive implosion.)

         "Can it be prevented? Backup registry?"


         "We can't let them get away."

         (you'll board the lifeboats and regroup on the surface. i'll attempt to alert the fleet of our situation. the traitors won't escape.)

         "I'm not going to leave you."

         (it's the only way. i'll try to contact you if i can find a secure landing area. i'm scanning the surface...)

         "Where is the Enemy vessel now?"

         (i've tracked it to the belt. hopefully it won't come back until our reinforcements arrive.)

         "If they arrive."


         "I only hope Simon and the others haven't been swayed by--"

         (simon would never betray us.)

         "Kilbourne could have told him anything."

         (he wouldn't betray us.)

         "I'm staying with you."

         (you can't. if i can't eject the drives… you'll be safe on the surface.)

         "How long?"

         (seven cycles until implosion.)

         "Are you sure we'll be undetected?"

         (i've found a safe area to planetfall. there's a trench in the largest ocean.)

         "Can your shields withstand the impact?"

         (we'll see.)

         "Maggie, I--"

         (failure of primary containment system. shadow drive's going critical. i'm launching your lifeboat, reynald. prepare for--)

         "Maggie-- Identify phase space disruption at seven-five, nine-five, bubble one eight!"

         (it's one of them. enemy pattern.)

         "This When's crawling. We have to--"

         (launching lifeboats.)

         "Magdalene, don't!"

         (goodbye, jean.)

* * *

an excerpt from enemy: planet of the dead.


         She was trapped in their power. Her dreams always haunted her, bringing up memories of a past she still struggled to forget.

         But she was a Styx.


         falling. falling. endless. darkness. a child. blood. mercy. merciless. a flickering of images. an orb of stars. flashes of light. bodies. massacre. judgment. a shift. terror.

         loss of humanity.

         the light oh god the light. heaven and hell and the stillness between.

         a weapon: slaughterer of innocents--

         She snapped upright from where she had been sleeping and stifled the urge to scream. Her breath came hard, fast; she was bathed in sweat.

         Vertigo. Where am I?

         Then she heard the weeping and the moaning of the wounded. A child cried out for his mother, began to sob. Other voices joined it in abject despair. She saw the dim glow of the chemlites.

         She was still in the tunnel.

         Someone was there.

         She sensed someone staring at her from the darkness. She tried to speak, but her voice was still a harsh whisper. There had been chemical warfare on the surface.

         She found her flashlight and turned it on to see who was watching her. Time was distorted in the tunnel, but she sensed that it was nighttime on the surface. Most of the refugees in the tunnel slept.

         The medic sat watching her from the shadows.

         "I'm sorry... Did I wake you?"

         She shook her head, looked at him questioningly.

         "Good. I brought a biotic for your throat."

         He came closer and sat down next to her against the wall. Someone screamed; whether in sleep or in the waking state she could not tell.

         "Open up." She obeyed, and he activated the biotic field, sweeping the back of her throat. She gasped as the human-engineered biological organisms attacked the infection.

         "Don't fight it. It'll burn for a while, but you'll be better in a few minutes."

         She smiled and looked down at his name tag. Hayes.

         He noticed her gaze. "Simon Evan Hayes. Chief Medical Officer of the Fourteenth Assault. Born and raised in Harkness, Michigan."

         Her eyes widened. He smiled, looked sadly down the length of the tunnel.

         "Yes. That Harkness, Michigan. The one that went 'boom.'"

         She placed her hand on his shoulder.

         "Let's see if the biotics have done their job yet. Try to say something, but don't force it. Start out by telling me your name."


         "Good start. What Flynn, if I may be so bold?"

         "Ember Magdalene Flynn." Her throat was on fire, but even in its strangely cracked timbre, her brogue shined through enough to make Hayes smile with surprise.

         "And where are you from, Ms. Flynn? Brooklyn?"

         She laughed, for the first time in… in a long time. A very long time.

         "My friends call me Maggie. I come from New Belfast."

         "Oh, I couldn't tell." His smile was the brightest thing she could see in the expanse of the tunnel. He was of course being sarcastic. "What brings you to Seattle, Ms. Flynn? The lovely scenery, the accommodations, the shopping and sightseeing? Are you into grunge, Cobain, coffeehouses, drummers and guitarists with scruffy goatees? That sort of thing?"

         She tapped the Milicom identification burn on her forearm. "I heard there was a little fight going on, and I figured I could help out."

         "Ah, beloved Milicom Systems International. You were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, Ms. Flynn. You would have been safer back at home, probably."

         "I haven't been home in twelve years. With the troubles in Quebec and all… I joined up to fight in that war; I've been stationed in the ASA ever since the annexation. I guess this is my home now, so I'm fighting again to save it."

         Hayes uttered a pained laugh. "Not much worth saving anymore. America the beautiful. Loyalty, freedom, individuality. Greed, corruption, an insatiable desire to achieve globalized manifest destiny. All the things our fathers died for in War Three. You are one of a dying breed, Ms. Flynn." His smile reassured her that he was being sarcastic, but she could tell that he was being genuine.

         "Has there been any word from above?"

         Hayes looked down and studied the chemlite; the gentle smile disappeared from his face. "The messages stopped coming through yesterday. No one else has come from above. At last word, all of Europe was gone." She flinched when he said this, but he continued. "In the end, even Indochine was begging for our help, but it appears we have problems of our own." He indicated the tunnel they were presently inhabiting and the sleeping refugees. "America the beautiful indeed."

         "What are they?"

         Hayes looked up to the ceiling of the tunnel. An occasional explosion would send grit and dust falling leisurely to the tunnel floor in this windless expanse. Sometimes there was the sound of what appeared to be a lightning strike on the surface. Hayes shook his head and looked back down. "I don't know what they are. I can't know what they are. I don't want to think of them."

         "I was just--"

         "You were a member of the forces that took Montreal, weren't you? The Eighth Assault? Don't worry, I have nothing against the Styx." His abrupt change of subject startled Flynn. His eyes revealed a calm that she dearly wished that she could possess.

         She looked down at the floor. "Yes. I was in Montreal."

         He pulled his shirtsleeve up to reveal a neatly branded "XIV" on his left bicep. "I was in Fourteenth Assault. I believe we took the names after you guys kicked the asses. So it was true. Milicom was behind it all… How the hell did you get to Seattle?... You weren't exiled to that island, were you? The rumors were true."

         "I was never on Santa Fosca. They hid some of us, sprinkling us around the Allied States. As a hidden line of defense."

         "What level are you?"


         "Jesus. The highest level I had ever heard of was an H-level."

         "How much do you know about us?"

         "Only what was published in the medical journals."

         She was secretly relieved.

         "How many of you were hidden?"

         "I only know of three. Two K's and an L. There might have been more"

         "You were too much of an investment to kill off."

         She sat in the dark, contemplating. "Something like that."

         Hayes laughed, shook his head. She trusted him already. There was just something about him...

         "Well, my new friend, your secret is safe with me. I have other patients to tend to. It was a pleasure to meet you, Ember Magdalene Flynn."

         Their gazes locked in the shadows.

         "Ember is my Styx code. No one calls me that anymore. Call me Maggie."

         "Alright. It was a pleasure to meet you, Maggie."

         He grinned as he walked into the darkness.

* * *

an excerpt from enemy: time of the damned.

         Arik Mandela began the killing frenzy.

         He had issued the orders, and then his warriors had lain in shift as the Enemy drew closer. He had drawn first blood, and all hope lay in that first strike. If his plan fell through, then they were all damned.
When the Enemy strike force had stormed through the hole cut into the door, they had not expected the Judas to be shifted. For their mistake, they were summarily torn apart.

         Now the stream of Black flying into the chamber had been cut off. So they know where we are now, Mandela thought.

         Power play over.

         The mind-essence slammed into him with unspeakable force, struggling to make him shift down. His mental defenses were rapidly crumbling.

         It's now or never. He jumped into action.

         In the lapse of time before the inevitable second wave, he led his elite Alpha squad to the corpses of the Enemy drifting languidly in the aftermath of the initial strike. His warriors were like an extension of himself, following his unspoken orders exactly.

         Mandela said a silent prayer for the innocents, for the martyrs, for the infinite dead. He knew what he had to do to end the Enemy Purpose. With Shiva destroyed and Simon gone, the Enemy fleet was now travelling Upwhen at an incredible speed unchecked.

         Toward the Judas. Toward Command.

         They had to get to the comnet to dispatch an emergency beacon to warn the Fleet. If they couldn't get a message through, if the viral code could not be updated before the Enemy found it, all was lost.

         He looked over the brave Judas warriors before him, and screaming the war cry with which they had followed him into battle countless times before, he thrust himself through the door, using an Enemy corpse as a shield into the midst of the damned.

         Kill time.

         The Black horde was slow to react at the sight of their own dead comrades returning, but that changed as the corpses were thrust aside and Alpha squad emerged.

         The Judas met the Enemy in an insane clash of death.

         Mandela threw aside the bulky Black corpse and used his shifted arm to smash through the skull of the Enemy closest to him. He dispatched two more Enemy warriors before feeling a sear of agony as most of his left leg was cut from him by the deadly flicker of an Enemy's phase weapon. Silver tendrils began to encompass the cauterized wound. He spun around in the zero-grav and tore through the faceless helmet of the Black. The Enemy were slow to raise the massive phase weapons they used in the cramped confines of the corridor, and the Judas cut madly through their lines. The Black were caught off-guard.

         Mandela became faint from the sheer agony of his leg wound and found it increasingly difficult to shift as the Enemy mind-essence unceasingly struggled to infiltrate his mind. Mandela saw that the members of Alpha were quickly succumbing, unable to withstand the Enemy mind, unable to shift. The Enemy were gaining ground.

         He signaled to the two Judas closest to him and they broke from the Enemy lines, speeding insanely down the empty corridors to the nearest available comnet. Their departure not unnoticed, a flood of Black poured after them.

         They knew it was suicide.

         Mandela maneuvered himself to the comnet panel, guarded by his two fellow Judas, who deftly dodged the searing beams of silver light emanating from the writhing mass trailing them. The command codes entered, Mandela screamed above the din of the battle to relay his message.

         "Mujahadin Shiva has been destroyed! I repeat, Shiva's been destroyed! The viral code's been compromised. You have to update the Program Seven command codes!"

         One Judas fell. In a flash of gore, his other guard erupted.

         Blood that looked and felt all-too-real stippled Mandela's face in a crimson palette.

         "They're in my fucking ship! I repeat, the viral code's been compromised! Update the program before they find you!"

         Message completed. He entered the encrypted coordinates and sent it Upwhen, hoping against hope. Looking down the corridor, he could see the Enemy pour into the stasis chamber. Screams of pain and horror. He felt their deaths as painfully as he sensed his own impending erasure from the program. His warriors were no more. He was alone. One of the damned exited the stasis chamber holding a round object that could only be the pattern cache of the nacelle. Mandela realized with a morbid fascination that his pattern was contained within that phased piece of metal, along with the patterns of millions of other people.

         The Enemy only feet away, the mind-essence finally breached the mental defenses of Mandela. He was flooded with terror like none he had felt before as countless fiery claws tore at his soul. The Enemy knocked him aside and swept over the communications panel he had just accessed. Silver tendrils of metal crawled over and into the surface of the array. A flicker of light and all the information the mind-essence needed had been retrieved. The Enemy turned to face him.

         Mandela forced himself from his reverie and focused every last bit of strength into shifting his arm.
He would never be a part of the Purpose.

         He would never give them his soul. He would never give them the souls of his soldiers, his friends, his family.

         He reached out with the last of his strength and the pattern cache held by the Enemy erupted in a burst of phased energy. His soul was no more.

         The Enemy at the end of the corridor reacted in confusion as the Judas who had stood before them vanished in a burst of static and light. The mind-essence reacted with fury as the pattern cache ceased to exist.

         Arik Mandela's war was over.




by Paul Evan Hughes

Publisher: Silverthought Press
ISBN 1-58898-047-2 

356 pages

purchase from amazon.com.

copyright 2000 Paul Hughes.

Paul Hughes is the editor of silverthought.com and the founder of Silverthought Press. He lives in Philadelphia, NY. His previous works include enemy, the winner of the 2002 Booksurge Editor's Choice award, and An End, the 2003 Independent Publishers Book Award winner for Science Fiction.  Besides the collaborative night.blind project on silverthought.com, Hughes is also finishing the third piece of the silverthought trilogy, broken.  For more information, please visit: http://www.paulevanhughes.com.