Archive for October, 2015

A Memory – Out of the Frying Pan

Posted in In-char on October 31, 2015 by DosTuMai

We made it to safety. Of sorts. The drop ship – badly damaged, leaking air – grinds to a shuddering halt. Nose deep in the soft, blasted soil.

The wailing of children brings me to the present. A quick check, they’re fine. I try the rear hatch. Jammed. With several attempts and curses, I give up and try the secondary side hatch. Still no luck. I rig a quick charge, stand back and blow the door off.

The stench overwhelms the children.

Sickly sweet, the smell of charred flesh, vegetation. Fires burning unchecked. Pensive, unsure. I shut down and run on autopilot.

Ignoring their protests, I scoop Elizabeth and Roland out of the transport, running to the nearest transit station. Mentally pulling maps of the local area from my implants, following lesser used routes. The devastation astounds me. Such a short time, but so much annihilation. But I let it bother me not. The children are the priority. I’ll get them to safety and contact Bill when I’ve accomplished that.

Movement comes from behind. Furtive-sounding steps. I duck around a corner, and throw a grenade. Pace picking up just as I hear a man’s scream cut off suddenly by the muted explosion of the anti-personnel charge.

I reach my destination and stop. Blinking in a stupor. The children crushed to me, wailing in pain, fear, or a combination of both. The crowd milling and crying. A cacophony of human misery. I scream. An ethereal sound of my own grief, fear and anger. Strange to my ears, issued from my vocal chords.

“Focus,” comes a voice full of grief, hoarse from screaming. It takes a moment to realise it was mine. I close my eyes, Elizabeth trying to pull away from the over-tight embrace, and center myself. Awareness hits me like a Nyx impacting a station; I know where to go.

Taking a deep, calming breath, I loosen my grip on Elizabeth, and make my way to a transporter I’d seen en route to the station. Checking to see there are no witnesses, I break in, seat the cargo and begin hot wiring the vehicle. The engine roars in to life, the thickening crowds of desperate humanity left behind.

A short while later, I park up at the end of a nondescript industrial district. Some calm restored, fraying slightly at the edges. Odd looks from passers by and stop. A bloodied, soot-covered woman with a wild look in her eyes stares at me. I reach for a weapon, she mirrors my move. We stand, glaring, unwilling to move. Then the realisation dawns. This is my reflection.

I suppress a shudder, filing the data for later review, and carry on my journey. This has been the longest day for a long time, and I just want to get somewhere safe. Or close to until I can formulate a plan.

At the end of the road, a very normal looking warehouse stands. A sense of menace emanating from the high fence with razor wire curling high on the top of it. But I ignore the sense of foreboding and press the call button at the gate. Automated sentries tracking my movements with the loving attention of target matrices everywhere.

The gates swing open, a pallid man in a guard uniform steps out, flanked by more heavily armed drones, “what do you want?” His heavily accented voice coloured by distrust. He looks from me to the children, “well, out with it.”

I hiss, pulling my daughter closer, “I’m here to see your boss. He owes me a favour,” I respond, pulling the struggling child with me as I step around him. The man’s arm lifts suddenly, a compact pistol aimed at my head. Something about my smile – perhaps the glint in my eyes – makes him hesitate. His eyes go distant, then he nods, gesturing for me to enter.

And so, with a glance at the guard, I enter, the man a few steps behind.

“Why have you come here, little rabbit?” The voice issues from nowhere. For a moment I think it’s in my head. A faint whisper of movement, the voice sounds from another direction, “have you bought me pretties, little rabbit?” Another shift, behind and to the left. Quick as a viper, a slither of silver light extends from my hand. He screams.

“I have no time to play with fools, puppet. I need a fast vessel. Right now.” I turn, glaring in the shadows, the glint of metal jutting from the thigh of the greasy, abdominus form slowly revealing itself as my eyes adjust to the darkness. He hisses, the lights flickering on. I step closer, leaning on the dagger embedded in his thigh, twisting a little, “now, do we have an accord, or shall I begin chopping things off? I want a fast ship, nothing more. If that’s too difficult – once I’m done with you – I’ll move on to the next person.” He whimpers and nods, gasping in pain as I yank the heavy blade from his flesh. “You may want to get that seen to, dear. There’s a lot of filth in this warehouse,” I sneer.

Soon, my children and I were safely ensconced in a somewhat rusty Frigate, making our way to what I hope will be a safe place.

A memory – Conflagration

Posted in In-char on October 27, 2015 by DosTuMai

Oddelulf – III, 3 years ago.

Peace, tranquility. Shattered in an instant. A macro shell violently ripping apart my meditation. The ground shakes, quivers, an echo of a partially forgotten dream. The blood rises, the kids.
Household staff quivering, shrieking in fear, a constant reminder that not all people are rational beings. I run, as quick as I can go to the room Roland and Elizabeth are likely to be in. A good thing the insistence children should be educated properly.
The room is empty. A momentary fear shivering through my body. A whimper emits from under the table. Fools.
I rush over, grabbing my infant and adopted daughter from the terrified nurse’s arms, “round up everyone you can find and meet me in the landing bay,” I yell at the terrified woman. With that, I leave the room, babe in arms, toddler running to keep up with my measured stride.
A quick change, strapping my favoured blades and firearms in easy reach, a carrier to keep my arms free and Roland out of harm’s way. This place was supposed to be a haven, safe. The anger welling inside, simmering away to be unleashed. I take Elizabeth’s hand and turn. The world turns inside out.
A shell lands close enough to obliterate the landing field, but not close enough to destroy the farther end of the estate. I hear screaming, crying. Children in terror, adults in fear, pain. Potentially death. I ignore the adults and put all my will in to the children. Those precious little beacons of life.
Soothing Elizabeth, I heft her on to a hip, and start a loping jog. Out of habit, I’ve planned for this. Always have an escape plan, even if you don’t think you’ll ever need it. The wheels set in motion.
A short jog down the beach, there is a cave. In there, a month’s supplies for four people and an emergency short-wheelbase vehicle. Praying to every deity I can think of, I start the engine. The quiet hum of the antique machine giving a momentary relief from the anxiety.
I set the children in the vehicle and step on the accelerator, mind half on finding an exit, half on driving.
The bombardment stops as suddenly as it began. The eerie silence jarring. Then I see them, streaks of fire and smoke in the sky, landing craft. Following its trajectory, I park in a wooded section just shy of the landing zone and wait. Soothing the youngsters, handing Elizabeth a communicator. “Stay here, be quiet. We’ll play a game; if anyone comes near the vehicle, press this button and say as quiet as a mouse, contact.” She nods, the fear slowly draining out of her, colour returning.
I lock the vehicle and leave, taking a circuitous route to the projected landing zone. I wait.
A loud roar heralds the dropship’s arrival. The trees swaying, ground rumbling as the light craft skims over the land. A sharp twist and dust cloud, the craft lands. I count the heartbeats as the ship settles, landing ramp slowly descending, ready to unleash its payload on the stricken planet.
Angels. I spit in the dirt, grinding teeth as I level the assault pattern rifle, take a deep breath, and squeeze. High-velocity death spewing from the muzzle of the rifle, I duck and swing around. There was a rock a few meters away to use for cover. Running low, reloading as I go, then spray again, chuckling quietly to myself as the remaining men fire at my previous position.
Duck, dash, reload, wait a moment. I dive out of the treeline, covering ground as quickly as possible. Rifle in a ready position.
Adrenaline, anger, blood lust carrying me forward, I drop the rifle, drawing the twinned blades that have gone through so much in the past. I stop by the side of the craft and use a dagger as a mirror. Two people at the far end using boxes as cover. I smile, priming a small incendiary and toss it in.
“Grenade!” One man screams, a loud whooshing crump followed by a wash of flame is my cue. Quick as a serpent, I dive through, throwing another incendiary, this time with pinpoint accuracy then use a bench near the entrance as cover. The men scream as they burn, but I ignore their pitiful pleas and head to the cockpit.

I return to the children, and drive the vehicle straight in to the dropship. Leaving the stricken planet behind.