Graphic novels by Nicholas Romer


A Chairman of steel

Science fiction

It’s up to you to start the animations while reading

I am the chairman of Gargantua Corp. 

Gargantua owns and manages asteroid minerals extraction and shipping. This business is worth about 1,2 trillions Sinwan currency.

I made my first billion in insect food processing. Today, 90% of the world population enjoy my insect manufactured biscuits. Then there were those first tourism bases I opened on several planets. I did amazingly well. Billions of mesmerized eyes gazed at the outlandish show of the blazing acrobat surfing between asteroids of the Centaurus belt.

Eventually I splurged all my profits into asteroid drilling. The outcomes turned out stupendous. Up to a point where my net profits were in excess of 23 trillions Sinwan. The equivalent of the Global State Department budget.

I was untouchable. No one could even think of standing in my way. Cause I would crush any competition.

Anyway, when you have billions of lives in the palm of your hand you face only one fear. Being toppled over.

I secluded myself in my own gigantic tower. I was fascinated by height. Everything had to be high. From Gargantua headquarters that broke through the clouds to my office where the 11 meters high ceiling left visitors baffled.

We received this unknown signal on a crisp monday morning. We tracked it down and sourced it to the dark side of the moon. My second in command, Leozardo, strutted in my office preceded by a whiff of rotten rat. As a lizard human mutant he nurtures some weird habits. Digesting rodents is part of it.

There is much more to it than just a signal…

I received his telepathic hint loud and clear.

It’s some sort of magnetic rock… It pulses red glow muffled sounds… With my staff, we went a step further…

Leozardo and I shared some telepathic retro-motion clips. Instead of sentences I could peer at his own past visions on the moon like this technician on Derrick 9 who moved reluctantly toward the large reddish stone. As soon as he tapped the rock he went wild…

This stuff provides something definitely unique…

I couldn’t agree more with Leozardo’s thought.

A new image whizzed past me showing the technician toying with our own security guards and sending them flying into the dark horizon.

I was excited beyond belief. 

I zoomed off to our moon base the very same day. If that unknown energy was at hand it would be mine.

Oracle 2, my fusion engine space capsule, got me there within 6 minutes. I couldn’t care less of the 126 staff lined up before me and I beelined to the exact spot of this red rock on my plasma motorbike.

Speed… Always being first… Getting first dibs… That’s how I grabbed half of the moon lands… By building up derricks, facilities, spacefields without any authorizations while the Space department on earth was still considering my requests for some kind of ownership… Bozos.

The radiating rock was already entrenched deep in the icy soil as it seemed to conceal itself. I reached the hole within minutes while noticing a strange green trail leaving the place up to the horizon. Some unknown spaceship had dropped its load. It pissed me off.

While keeping my balance on the rim of the pit I could squint at the reddish radiation 60 feet below. The mineral acted like a magnet. I couldn’t get my eyes off it. And I fell off the edge.

The plunge seemed endless. But I managed to ignite my dorsal turbine and decelerate my free fall. I landed smack on a stinking slimy ground. The red rock was pulsing right in front of me. Out of nowhere in this dark pit, a spike pierced my gear right into my buttock. I blew off the pain in a scream that echoed across this rocky abyss.

My memories of this instant of pure dementia are blurred. I presume that my brain, in an attempt to spare me from insanity, kept a close lid on those hellish moments.

But they still keep me up at night.

The red glow worked as a bait. It sent signals as far as the outskirts of Proxima b. Obviously my eagerness to secure a potential source of unknown power was shared by several others in the galaxy.

At the bottom of this cavity laid different galactic entities among whom I barely represented any value.

The sting that pierced through my armor was part of a tentacle that dangled from a jelly squid main squishy body. But the excruciating pain was quickly overcome by multiple aches from a diverse range of opponents.

The rock reddish radiations barely let me glimpse at the foe terror. I wished I could have been left in the dark. I mainly discerned their will to survive and squash any threat.

A hairy ball with ugly furry legs attempted desperately to climb up but to no avail. The slimy surface of the rock would send it down immediately like a dirty laundry bag. Those feeble efforts would enrage the beast and boost its reckless bravado against us.

Some translucent ultra beefy human body type wrapped his inhumanly fit legs around my neck while I struggled to shove back the stinger from the flat squid. As if it was not enough, something else was soaring above our brawling, levitating into some kind of pinkish haze… I could hear it piercing my brain recklessly. That was its defense metabolism.

If hell existed, it was the place. 

And mark my words. Extraterrestrial life does exist. And it’s ugly.

During the roman empire, a torture meets a death sentence was impose on some renegade. They would stuff a large leather bag with the victim along with an unhinged monkey, a starving rat, an eagle and a feral rooster. The bag would be dropped in a river and hell unleashed.

I recalled this tale in a brief moment of relief when all my opponents backed away in their respective corners in order to regain some kind of composure. My armor was ancient history. My naked torso showed several putrescent stings which were already making my breathing difficult. My artificial breathing aid clip showed 3 minutes of supply.

I could glimpse at the hulking mankind type opponent melting under the jelly squid. This vision alone was enough to spark a last impulse of survival to my weakened body. I focused my telepathic signals towards Leozardo.

… Coming right at you…

His raspy voice was like a godsend. A cable dropped loudly from the rim. I jerked my arms sideways to grab it in the darkness. I snatched it feverishly and was pulled up immediately. The jelly squid wrapped my ankle with its tentacle and almost dragged me back to hell. I managed to shake it off my leg.

One hour later I was on my way home.

What goes up must come down.

I suffered multiple injuries and recovered in a medical pod. I remained still and flat for weeks. A brand new experience for me. Nurse droids were looking down on me with pity and sadness.

The awe I could inspire was no more.

This posture changed my perspective. And I had all the time in the world to think about what went wrong in my life.

Now, you see me as I am. Crippled in an outdated wheelchair. Gone are my headquarter’s infinite ceilings and my 7.9’ genetically enhanced personnel guard.

The wheelchair is a reminder of my new me. Humble, modest, fragile. To my surprise it makes things much easier. I don’t feel the need to inspire fear anymore.

Do I suspect Leozardo to have thrown the cable a bit too late ? Yes. He’s also a roman empire freaks. The red rock has mysteriously vanished too. And I have overheard rumors of a plot to topple me over. We’ll see. I’m not impotent either.

See, this old wheelchair had been dug up in the vault of my tower. How did it land there ? Well, my headquarter was built on an antique shop premise. The cellar was sealed when construction started. I sneaked in a month ago and I bumped into a stack of rusty appliances. Behind this heap of waste laid my wheelchair.

This chair also holds some magic. In time I will reveal myself once again.

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