Art and words of Josh Burns.

Character and Stories

The Emissary

“The history of advanced races meeting more primitive people on this planet is not very happy, and they were the same species. I think we should keep our heads low” ~Stephen Hawking

Eloise Sharpe stared blankly at a fly slowly circling the dull green fluorescent bulbs of the convenience store she was lucky enough to be night shift manager of. The hum of the lights was deafening. Her co-worker, Paresh was dividing his time between mopping up fountain drink syrup and staring at Eloise’s cleavage. The Friday night bar rush had passed and the slow crawl from three AM to seven had begun. (more…)


Dead or Alive lifestyle

Two centuries ago the Taa’Rukc race were on the verge of venturing off of their planet of Vallen and out into the wilds of space. Their cunning and strength would have garnered them a powerful position in the galactic melting pot.

The Klamat, an alien race whose home planet shared the same system as Vallen, had monitored the Taa’Rukc since their first sub-orbital space flights. The progress was moving rapidly, but withou warning the great “Descent” occurred. The Klamat were master strategists and scientists, they worshiped logic and would even strategize centuries in advance. They would even “Adjust” events to better future generations of the Klamat based on their projections. The impending progress of the Taa’Rukc showed an unfavorable outcome for the Klamat in their projections. (more…)


Soldier of Will – Part 3: The Man from Below

Bischof’s project the “Chisel of the Reich” utilized a strange black metal found inside a temple in the Harz mountains of Germany. A small amount of the metal was implanted into the frontal lobe of eight test subjects. These test subjects were hand-picked by Bischof for their ability to resist the negative effects of the metal. Bischof had personally experienced one of these effects when he became unfixed in time and traveled over a month into the future. The trip seemed to be instantaneous, but when he reachieved sync with this temporal plane he was close to death from starvation. It was at that moment when he realized the true power of the metal. The black metal allowed Bischof to subconsciously manifest a bowl of stew and a glass of milk to sustain him until he could get help.

By means of chemical sedation and hypnotic suggestion the eight test subjects were directed and controlled. In under a year they transformed the temple into a massive fortress and laboratory. But the Ahnenerbe scientist’s crowning achievement was coordinating the eight to manifest the mythical substance known as Vril. Despite the Chisel of the Reich’s resounding success, Bischof and the Ahnenerbe were ordered to focus their resources on the Vril. Hitler and members of the inner circle thought that harnessing the Vril could win them the war. The eight test subjects were kept in a chemically induced coma and periodically revived to produce more Vril. Bischof wished to continue experimenting and pushing the limits of the eight. But he was told again and again to focus on the Vril. (more…)


Soldier of Will – Part 2: The Gypsy’s Daughter

Vandlo Hearn was respected among his people, the Romani, German Gypsies. He was known as a leader, a scholar and a source of hope. Unfortunately those qualities were not revered by those who looked to persecute his people. His powerful words often found him a beating within the work camp at Marzahn. Before the police crack-down Vandlo and his daughter made a decent living around Berlin trading goods and doing odd jobs. But in the camp he was forced to work in an armament plant. Aishe, his daughter would help tend to their tribe’s needs when she wasn’t pickpocketing the guards, or breaking into the supply shed. A girl of only eight years, she had a knack of understanding how things worked. She could pick almost any lock, Vandlo secretly admired his skill, but always scolded her for taking such risks. He would point to the scar above his eye, one he had gotten after they were first moved to Marzahn, and ask if she wanted to end up like him. Aishe was his world and he would do anything to keep her from harm. (more…)


Soldier of Will – Part 1: The Harz Expedition

Strange things were happening long before Müller arrived at the secret mountain fortress in the Harz mountains. The massive subterranean stronghold started out as a small excavation site, supervised by members of the Ahnenerbe. In charge of the original excavation was Wolfram Bischof, a talented archaeologist who joined the Ahnenerbe to further his research into a legendary artifact that foretold of immeasurable power. Naturally Hitler was interested in such an artifact and allowed Bischof to assemble a team to track down its whereabouts. Their research eventually led them to a small temple carved deep into the Harz mountains. (more…)


What Happened to the Robots?

To mankind, the fall of earth’s robot society was a mystery. The island they inhabited, a giant waste processing facility in the middle of the pacific, continued to function. It was tended to by a force of giant lumbering robotic custodians.

Mankind had prospered much from their alliance with the robots. The planet was less polluted and the robot’s scientific progress had garnered numerous technological advancements. The robot society was born of man’s intellect but had surpassed it in under a hundred years, and then vanished two centuries later with no known explanation.

(more…)


Exoskeletal Excellence

Science… never solves a problem without creating ten more. – George Bernard Shaw

In the midst of the deadly human cordyceps outbreak, scientists scrambled to find a cure, a vaccine or some way to contain the spores. It was not before half the world’s population was overtaken that they finally discovered a way to stop the spread. The poor souls who were already infected would be lost. but at least the human race would live on. The discovery was a vaccine, the compound was produced en mass in the few CDC facilities that were still operational. Soon after clinics were set up across the entire world. United under the common goal of saving what was left of the human race, countries and governments cooperated without indecent. The vaccine was hailed as the savior of the human race, and the men and women who had created it were regarded geniuses. But our accomplishments are viewed through the eyes of those who come after us. Years after the cordyceps threat had ended, women who would have been children when they received the vaccine started having children of their own. In about fifteen percent of cases the infants were born with a new and aggressive bone disease. (more…)


The Headless Clone Fighting League

Born from military applications the Headless Clone Fighting League, or HCFL, dominated sports in the years following the war of 2099.

The war had seen rise of many technological advancements, but only one was credited with turning the tide. The headless clone battalions were elite trained troops who linked into cloned versions of themselves. The clones were genetically altered to be stronger, faster and tougher. They also were grown with a small protrusion where the head would normally be. This was known as the “cortical bulb”. The cortical bulb was a simple organ responsible for involuntary actions such as breathing and sweating. After maturation of the clone the cortical bulb would be mapped and then merged with a computer equipped with a myriad of sensory inputs that would be attached to the spinal column. The DNA used to make each clone would be specific to one unique operator. The soldiers chosen for these elite battalions underwent numerous genetic, psychological and intelligence tests before being cleared. Controlled remotely, the clones were perfect for ground warfare. With the added benefit of learning from mistakes on the battlefield. The clones would die if the battle was lost, but the operator would learn. Clones couldn’t be interrogated for information, and if they were captured they could lead troops straight to enemy hideouts. Additionally the neck mounted CPU was also equipped with a small self destruct charge for emergency use. The clone battalions ended the war swiftly and with less human casualties. (more…)


The Cyborg Canary of Garbage Island

By the mid 2100′s the amount of garbage carelessly deposited into the earth’s oceans had reached unbearable proportions. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch had grown into a floating island twice the size of Texas, it was held together by floating debris and chemical sludge. The island had been a hot-button issue with environmental activists and scientists alike. One attempt to bring attention to the growing problem saw a group of activists docking to the writhing mass and attempting to chart the vast garbage landscape. The group planned to produce a documentary featuring their expedition to “Garbage Atlantis” the name they had bestowed on the island. Tragically the expedition was cut short when a section of the mass gave way and swallowed all but two of the intrepid film makers. All footage was lost and the surviving members never attempted to return. While the environmentalists were bringing attention to the issue, members of the scientific community were attempting to find a solution. In small-scale tests, scientists had observed promising results from very simple robots called  nano robotic separators and nano robotic sorters, or NRSs as they had been dubbed. The simple robot pairs were able to break-down even the most complex compounds and then sort and compile the components into simple forms. The nano robots had originally been developed as a method of cleaning up oil spills and radioactive materials from the ocean. The tough robots were even able to self-replicate as long as the correct resources were present. As a safety measure the devices were unable to break-down living tissue. After the findings were presented to various governments and agencies the project was given the green light. Environmental agencies were split on the proposed deployment. It called for a payload of two tons of NRSs and an additional three tons of support and storage equipment be sunk into the center of the mass. Some thought it was just adding more garbage to the patch. Others were hopeful that project “Sinking Atlantis” would work. (more…)


The Unknown Ones

In the Autumn of 1972 a group of physicists, biologist, mathematicians and artists came together to do the impossible. They had plans to manifest matter by sheer will alone. After three years the men and women participating in the project declared it an utter failure. They abandoned their research and all parties went back to their respective disciplines, with strict directives never to disclose the nature of the secret project they had been a part of. The facility, a century old theater house, was abandoned and Anomalous Research Department of the U.S. government sealed the facility until use of it was needed. The property sat on the books as a government facility for over twenty-five years until, during the Bush administration, an internal auditor discovered the abandoned theater. The building was put up for auction and purchased by a property developer with plans to convert the theater to condos.

(more…)


Last Shot

After seeing a number of the great works that Ralph McQuarrie did in his career as a concept artist I thought of doing a little science fiction homage to the man.

In true human fashion, mankind continues to fight each other, even in the far reaches of space. With hundreds of other alien species to start trouble with, most of the time it’s still with each other. (more…)


Wendigo

In the frigid north where the wind can cut and the night can kill, a thing exists. The forests offer little respite from winter’s grip. Many men have fallen prey to its cold embrace. A sad few have resorted to unspeakable acts to survive in dire times. It is said that a man who consumes his fellow man will be haunted. The hunger that preceded the cannibalism would not be sated. No amount of gorging would stop it, and a chill that would cause your bones to ache would nearly always reside. The story-tellers who live in the far north call it the spirit of the wendigo.

Whether the condition is some form of virus, mutation or some malevolent spirit is unknown. What is known is that the wendigo is a dangerous and crafty creature. With the keen instincts of man and an unnatural strength and speed, the wendigo has remained a thing of myth to most. Reports very, but most put the creatures at around eight to ten feet tall with razor-sharp claws. their gray skin hangs off the limbs, and the skin around the face and forearms is dyed red from feasting. The abdomen is concave revealing the bump of the spine below, and the ribcage is expanded outward. The skin of the neck hangs loose all the way down to the clavicle. The eyes are pale and wide, and the jaw is massive, with teeth that continue up the side of the face making a sinister smile. Human meat is the wendigo’s main choice but in times where humans are scarce any wildlife will do. The site where the creatures have fed are easily identified. The snow is melted around where the feeding took place, and only the least edible parts of the prey remain. It is believed that the near instant metabolizing of the meal creates a massive amount of heat, and that is what melts the snow. When kill sites start to appear near populated areas, missing persons reports are soon to follow. (more…)


The Instrument: The Brass Jawed Golem

Toward the end or the 1690′s the creations known as golem were not longer being used by their masters. The High Rabbis, who once utilized the hulks of dirt and sand for numerous tasks, had heard the wide-spread accounts of the golems turning on their creators. Or had themselves been punished for their misuse. Regardless of the reason the golem was in decline in Europe. A maddeningly brilliant alchemist, Fogdan Demoldov, also used a golem for menial tasks in his work. Demoldov always found the golem to be simple and unpredictable. Before meeting a most unfortunate end, Demoldov went to work on what would become his legacy. He set out to create a golem that was sentient. To achieve his goal, he created a computer of sorts. The device would rapidly cycle through commands in the interior of the golem’s mouth. Traditionally a golem was controlled by placing parchment in the mouth of the creature. This computer bypassed the process. The alchemist fashioned each command to be what he saw as being sentient “Live” “Think” “Intuit” “Learn”. He used the lower half of decorative brass mask to house the unpious piece of mechanical genius. The inner workings of the device were staggering. It appeared not to follow rules that applied in this world. A cylindrical gear appeared to make a figure-eight when placed in the device. Acute angles appeared obtuse and the whole interior of the thing seemed to be vastly larger than the housing would allow. When the device was completed it was placed on the deactivated golem. The brass jaw whirred softly when it made contact with the still earth of the creation. Demoldov was enraged by the apparent lack of life. The golem sat with its half crumbled face, still as the soil it was made from. The mad alchemist went feverishly back to his notes and books, leaving the unmoving thing to sit. After some time the discourage creator entered the laboratory with plans to salvage what he could from the failed experiment.

To his astonishment, he found the seven-foot behemoth reading one of the many books in the lab. It’s face had completely reformed and in the black holes that represented the eyes a dim amber glow emanated. The golem worked for about a year for his creator. Demoldov had set his sights on a new goal. To cheat death. This new aim prompted the mad alchemist to delve deeper into the darker side of his craft. He set his sights on the Necronomicon, and all of it’s evil. (more…)


Zombosapien: What happened after man?

When the first reports of zombies started to filter in the masses panicked. Enormous groups of people rioted, looted and unfortunately added to the dead that would return. Centers with large tightly grouped populations bloomed with zombies. Those who could, fled the cities looking for secluded refuges. In a matter of months the earth’s population had dropped to under 100,000. All of the technology and progress that mankind had created couldn’t stop the mass of mankind from reverting back into scared animals when the hoards came. No bombs were dropped. No cure was developed. The last of the human race slowly died out over the following six months. Mankind did not go out with a bang, but a quiet whimper. in the months that followed the zombies began to congregate and feast on the freshest of their kind. The zombies were decomposing, and earth was about to witness its second extinction event in the same year. Their bodies continued to break down and the congregated groups become indistinguishable as individuals. Just a mass of rot of millions. Whatever force had brought the zombies back to life continued to keep them animated until the last strands of muscle fiber had broken down. Then something miraculous happened. In the immortal words of Dr. Ian Malcolm(Jurassic Park) “I’m simply saying that life, uh… finds a way”.

Somehow the mixing of the zombie fluids combined with the number of different bacteria, fungi and viruses, incubated and maintained a new form of life from the rot. The first crawled from the and shortly after hundreds more came. Fully grown. These creatures had not been grown from an embryo they had been constructed using the human framework. these first appeared very human-like in appearance, but they were still almost brain dead, mostly functioning on a base instinct. Like baby deer they struggled to stand up but eventually did. This wouldn’t be evolution. it would be revolution, the physiology of the newly birthed species allowed for massive leaps in genetic change from one generation to the next. (more…)


Müller’s Secret SS

During the fall of Berlin, Hitler’s inner circle was collapsing. Himmler lost faith in a German victory and to that end he had betrayed Hitler. In the final hours of Hitler’s life he ordered that directive Auferstehung(rebirth) be carried out. Heinrich Müller, Chief of the Gestapo, was ordered to escape Berlin and travel west to the Harz mountains. In a subterranean fortress and laboratory Müller carried out the task of preparing for Hitler’s arrival. In Berlin the Red army was closing in. Berlin had fallen. the Soviets were blocks from the bunker. Eva Braun bit a cyanide capsule and Hitler shot himself. Their bodies were carried to the bombed-out garden behind the Reich Chancellery where they were placed in a shell crater. A strange liquid was poured on the bodies and set ablaze. The chemical burned hot and fast, it produced a thick black smoke that consumed the garden as the city shook as the shelling continued. Directive Auferstehung had begun. when the smoke finally cleared and the crater was investigated, it was found to have two skeletons. One black and charred, crumbling as the heat died. And the second that appeared to be fully intact and made entirely of glass crystal.

The status of Berlin did not concern Müller. His task in the Auferstehung was to prepare a clone body to receive the fuhrer’s consciousness. Ten such clone had been grown in the Harz lab. All brain-dead, waiting for a host. (more…)


Spring Heeled Jack

In the Mid 1800′s Great Britain’s population was exploding. Villages turned into towns, and towns to cities. The demand for resources was great. As the Cities grew the spirits of the forest stopped talking to man. Seeing only his greed and shortsightedness. Most of the fairy folk, content with their thousands of years of dominion over the forests and the fields, chose to step away into nothing. The world was changing, the new magic was called science. Most of the creatures of nature understood it was now the time of man. The goblins would no longer make deals with drunkards. The fairies would no longer light the way home, for those lost in the woods. The queen witches would no longer gather any covens of young women and teach their secrets. Some Fairy Folk, before fading away into the earth, entered the cities and towns, curious of these strangers inheriting the earth. They peered in windows and watched from the shadows. Reports of ghosts walking the streets of London were common in the 1800′s. One such ghost was not a ghost at all. He was a Faun, still young, only three hundred or so. The faun had watched man take and take from the earth, without giving any back. His forest bordered London and he had seen the city spread like spilled lamp oil, spoiling the soil it sat upon. As his kin left this plane and entered back to the womb of the earth, he wanted to stay a bit longer before he going. The faun told them he longed to see the good in man before he took his leave. His brethren believed the lie, and left him to it. In 1837 the faun entered London by cover of night. the first of many victims were the destitute on the fringe of the city. Soon greed drove him to venture deeper into London. The Faun found a sinister joy in the extinguishing of human life. Soon reports of a strange man who could leap as high as a house began to come in. The man was described as a devilish figure with black clawed fingers and eyes that glowed like lit pipe tobacco.

A popular publication dubbed this ghoul “Spring Heeled Jack”. He terrorized the citizens of London and surrounding area from 1837 – 1904. In early 1904 Jack was stalking a group of soldiers just outside the city. As he waited he started to hear a voice from behind him. Jack was taken aback by the voice. It was speaking his native language, words he had not heard or spoken in over 50 years. He turned to see a robin sitting on a branch. As the robin continued to speak, jack squinted to hear, straining to make out the words. He was certain he knew the words but he could no longer understand. The robin stopped briefly as though surprised by Jack’s confusion. Angered by the bird’s taunting Jack grabbed for the small bird. Like a kick in the chest he fell back, astonished by the sight of his own hand. A soft pink five-fingered hand. Jack lived out the rest of his days as a human, in an insane asylum in London.

It would appear, as Jack discovered, that not all magic had left the world.

Spring Heeled Jack is an actual Folklore Character. For more information click here.


Alien Gypsy

This character seems firmly rooted in a Universe where aliens of all kinds have set forth into vastness of space. In such a Universe paths must have crossed, colonies formed, alliances made and broken. She would be comfortable in the bustling corridors and alleyways of the markets on a planetary Transportation hub. A meeting place for aliens of all kinds, some to find work. legitimate or otherwise. Some to set up shop a peddle their wares to unsuspecting humans (at an impressive mark-up.) A chaotic, claustrophobic village of sorts, and often very dangerous. A transient place always moving and changing, but oddly familiar at times.

You push through a tight corridor through crowds so dense all you can smell is hot breath… or at least you hope it’s breath. Some alien races smell like vomit at the best of times. The eight armed octopus-looking guy’s shop to the right is full of… lets say “Meat” that is also contributing to the bouquet of the marketplace. But as you exit the mass into an open area, what’s this? A shop run by a human couple…and they even speak English. They are selling cinnamon and nutmeg, and a myriad of other spices. Your olfactory center sends you right back to earth…Starbucks. Sadly this moment is short-lived as you feel something brush up against you. As you turn to look all you see is a slender purple-skinned female walking casually into the crowd. nice legs on her… but your wallet is gone.

This character is the type that thrives in a crowd. she is always getting herself into trouble of one form or another. A gypsy traveling from planet to planet, living to experience as much of the universe as she can.

When I was drawing this one the right arm was a bit bulky so turned it into a Tool…Weapon…Thing. It looks a bit like a taser on crack, But it’s actually a Kinetic Arc, an energy field that enhances the wearers physical hits, basically giving them a super punch, while absorbing the equal and opposite reaction of such a punch. The Arc can also be used in a similar fashion to a zip line by hooking to overhead cables and cords. A valuable tool for an alien pick-pocket in a place that encourages you leave your guns in you spacecraft.

J.


Island of Robots

I’ve been playing around the idea of a facility on an island. Now, abandoned by man, the island’s many factories are maintained by a number of giant robots. Some of the robots have fallen due to lack of maintenance or the islands inhospitable terrain. I turn the remaining active robots have begun to cannibalize their fallen brethren.

The shape and design of the robots would indicate that they were created in the 1950′s… But who made them? And where did they Go?


The Inspectors

A strange group of individuals, possibly a secret organization, who always seem to show up just after a catastrophe. First recorded accounts of the Inspectors was during the black plague. Through the ages these reclusive men have been sighted around the world, usually in pairs. The Tunguska Event, Hiroshima Nagasaki, Nazi Germany, Roswell, 9/11. Easily identified with their ornate masks and prim and proper attire, the Inspectors have been spotted during world wars, natural disasters & anomalous events.

It is unknown if they have anything to do with causing the events. However some conspiracy theorists believe they are anthropologists who cause the events in order to study how people react. These same conspiracy theorists often say they are aliens, but that’s pretty much par for the course as far as conspiracy nuts are concerned.


100 percent

In the latter half of the 21st century Dynamic Global, a major weapons manufacturer, started a new division offering health insurance at rates staggeringly lower than all competitors. The plans were comprehensive and included many additional features at no extra charge. The plans were just what the, still comparatively, under-covered American Population needed. Under the vale of giving back to the people, the insurance policies were cleverly worded as half insurance policy, half consent for human testing. The infamous “100 percent ” policy was a Damage & Dismemberment plan did not give the patient a choice in procedures. The only mandate of this policy was to restore the patient to “100 percent” of human capacity. Dynamic Global was effectively using the American population as a basis for research and testing. Individuals hurt in accidents would be cared for, but often the patients that survived felt that the procedures completed to restore their capabilities were too invasive. Most patients surveyed stated that they would have rather been left slightly disabled, rather than have to have their bodies modified to such an extent. Just fewer than one-hundred-thousand “100 percent” policies were sold before the division stopped offering it.

6521 policy holders required use of the “100 Percent” policy. They received new limbs, eyes, legs and even organs. 6385 of those were brought back to what Dynamic Global deemed “100 Percent”. The remaining 136 either died or were left without sufficient mental capacity to be restored. After treatment, all but one of the 6385 enlisted in the armed forces. Each stated that they felt they should give something back after being given a second chance.


Dimensional

“Your Better Life” a game show where contestants choose from twelve variant realities in an attempt to find a better version of their life. Based solely on material wealth and physical appearance. The contestants have a chance to pick four of the twelve, if they find a “Better Life” they win a million dollars. The show is a means of funding the Variant Reality Viewing Facilities for Scientific Progress. A worldwide success, the show is the most watched program in the world. Halfway through the 2100s a team of scientists viewed the first variant reality, technically different dimensions, the team looked at a version of themselves that had not successfully tested the same technology as they had just succeeded in. They viewed a dimension where the correct process had not been discovered. That viewing would be dubbed the world’s first “single deviation viewing”. As the science was perfected the spectrum of deviations was extended all the way to an eleventh deviation viewing. The higher the deviation the more principal differences the viewed world would have. In a single “D” viewing the viewer would see a would almost exactly the same as their own. A world were different decisions and events happened within the last year and thus dictate a new outcome, this is known as “one year of difference”. Single “D” viewings yield small scientific discoveries. Double Triple and Quadruple “D” viewings are ten, forty and 100 years of difference respectively. These yield the best results because they show the viewer a worlds vastly different from their own. and are considered viable for “Scientific Surfing” a term for the practice of scouring a variant reality for new discoveries. Anything beyond a fifth “D” viewing is considered not scientifically viable, for the simple fact that the worlds are so different from our own, that any research would be nearly impossible or too time consuming to comprehend. The Sixth to Eleventh “D” Viewings are reserved for Vario Anthropologists Scientists who study worlds where, perhaps, homosapiens are not the dominant creatures on the planet or life on earth was purely plant-based. All these areas of research don’t come cheap, and so the show “Your Better Life” was created. (more…)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.