Chapter 15

Dropping to her knees in front of the headless corpse, Terna grabbed ahold of the ribbons bedazzling the man’s chest and tore them from his uniform. They felt like a badge, a tick mark that told her that she had finally begun her journey to avenge her tribe. 

There was nowhere to put them, though, and she stared at her hip, puzzled. A small porch formed and she shoved the ribbons inside. The pouch disappeared and she turned away from it, lost in the moment.

Thinking about the young men she’d run off, and the few she’d killed, she frowned. For every worthy enemy like this one, there were going to be so many unworthy ones in between

Sighing, she checked through his gear and found one that looked somewhat like the comms devices that the affiliate used. This one was a bit wonky in that the screen was green and black, and the graphics on said screen were very blocky. But it was recognizable enough that she was able to figure out how to open the contacts list.

Now the question was who to contact. She rolled through, looking for a name that might strike her as commanding.

Medical.

Supply.

HQ.

Kitchen.

Nothing at all that sounded like leader, or chieftain. This list rolled on, so many different groups marked into the device. 

She finally decided to just choose one at random.

FireSupport.

It sounded like a service for battling the many blazes fanning out through the ruins. But maybe they would know where to direct her to. She looked out over the ruins and the people fighting there and thought through what she might say. Then she went ahead and pressed confirm on the device.

It beeped merrily, and the call was patched through.

“Coordinates and position of enemy? Composition and type?” a voice responded from the other end. 

Terna paused. This was not the sort of answer she had at all expected. 

“I’m the NoMort and I would like to speak with the chieftain,” she said.

There was a gasp on the other line.

“Bullshit,” the voice said. “There’s no way.”

There was doubt in his voice, and she thought through what might be happening, and in what ways the voice might think her affiliate was trying to trap them.

“I am not a prisoner. I am using this device, a scavenged comms from some other world it looks like. You, um, you can’t scan me? He said something like that before I blew his head off.”

There was a sharp intake of breath from the other end.

“He’s dead?” the voice asked.

“Yep,” Terna answered. “I killed some others too. But most of them really don’t want to be here, do they? Who are you?”

She heard excited speaking in the background.

“We’ve triangulated your comms. According to our system you are not here!”

She sighed. They hadn’t answered her question. “Who are you? All of you? And why did you kill my people?”

The man on the other line sighed. “Stay where you are. I’ll get our leader for you.”

Terna heard the man’s comms device clatter, and she put hers onto the ground. She had a sudden bad feeling about all of this. People who ordered the round up of her people and who sent clueless poor youth into war with little equipment and no training were surely cowards, bullies and cheats.

And she’d just told them where to find her.

Terna rose up and moved her selector to dose her with a Speed Battle Brew. She felt it hiss into her veins and she took off at a run, heading for the nearest edge of the city.

From outside the ruins, perhaps, she’d be able to figure out a better way to deal with everything that was going on.

Terna stood up, and an immediate hail of bullets blasted out in her direction. She sprinted then dove, noticing that every fifth round would flare red through the sky. They were using a similar strategy to that of ol’ Hord, their gunner. He would also tag the fifth round with a red incendiary marker when possible.

Either that, or it came that way.

They used it for tracking where they fired. She, in her sped up state, also saw the world as a bit slowed down. And she’d use that to track the location of the gunner. Allowing a few more of the red streaks to blaze over into her general direction, she pinpointed movement in the dim orange glow of the city battle. A couple of shadows, bereft of the white uniform.

Something more than goofy conscripts, she figured.

The suits targeting reticle rolled over them and a number of various critical points were pointed out to her, but a new number popped up as well. One that bothered her.

54% chance to hit

Seemed like too close a chance to risk it. If they were professionals, it might well give away her new position in the dirt and snow. It might allow them to get her.

And kill her? Didn’t seem like something they’d want to do. But given that this group was firing powder rounds on repeat, she had a feeling they hadn’t gotten the message. 

Terna high-crawled, slowly making her way down the slope, all the while eyeing the position. They’d stopped firing, that much she knew, but the figures were silent and scanning. Evidently they didn’t have the sort of smart tech she did. No AI to help guide them.

Reaching a small line of rubble, she bumped herself up to her knees and placed her hand, palm up, on the rocks and concrete. Her XMS-7 went atop it, her shoulder against its stock. She noticed that this time there was no indicator, and she concluded that it only gave such warnings when AI confidence in the shot was middling.

Good. It was time to Kaput the bastards.

The XMS flamed out in slow-motion once, then twice. The energy blasts light up her target, a large and hairy humanoid she saw now, something covered in thick and coarse black fur that quickly lit up under the power of the weapon’s round. 

Her second target was one of the same, a beastman whose shaggy coat was perfect for night camouflage — and for setting aflame. The light of the two bodies revealed a third, a hobb by the looks of things. He was screaming and looking around in panic. 

A third round fired before Terna even had a chance to think about it. The man looked a lot like her brother had, at least from this distance. The same sort of haircut, the same slender build as she. 

She briefly wondered if they’d died in a similar fashion as well. 

But the sound of thrusters burned overhead and she saw a group of five saucers heading for her hill, burning slowly through the sky. A thick white ball of energy streaked up from the ground and impacted against the bottom of one, knocking it sideways and covering its surface in lightning. 

Seconds later it exploded.

Kaput. She smiled.

Tribe Wizneber was outgunned, but they were giving worse than they were getting.

Still, others were coming. She had to get out of there. She rose up from her place at the rubble and began to sprint. The closest edge of the city was still far away. She couldn’t afford to keep a low silhouette the entire length she had to traverse. She sprinted, her battle brew streamlining her movements, making her bound quickly as if she had been training to run this race for the entirety of her life.

She bounded through a side road and into something that looked to be a straight-away. The road was wide and pitted, ice gleaming from where the snow had been kicked aside. A line of white-uniformed men lay in a line upon it and she fired a round just short of them, letting the melting blaze do the talking.

They got up and scattered. She let them.

Running further, she was beginning to lose her breath. The brew was fading, her speed was dropping. Her muscles ached and begged for her to stop. 

An explosion sounded from the sky, and two more of the saucer ships were hit and exploded. She shuffled out of the street to what looked to be the remains of a large store, and she lay on her back, catching her breath, watching the drama of the sky.

More white balls of energy were firing into the mess. But not only that, there were small aircraft flitting to and fro through the ships, blasting little holes into their hulls. 

The enemy had come in force.

But they hadn’t come prepared. She hooted and hollered, watching affiliate Wizneber rout the enemy opposition in the sky. She gasped and laughed, and gasped again. So much so that she didn’t even notice the large tank crackling ice through the streets until it was just about at her doorstep.

Eyes wide, breath restored, she got to her feet and walked to the doorway, hope heavy in her heart.

Yes. There it was. 

The affiliate’s Aeramo tank sat still a moment, as if deciding on its next move. Then the back slid open, and Crawley popped out, his command suit on but his helmet off and his cybernetics very visible.

Never did she think that piece of BuyMort would be so pleasing to look at as it was now.

“What are you doing out here?” he asking, his face both shocked yet somehow proud.

Terna laughed and ran to him, snagging him in a big hug. “How did you know it was me?” she asked. 

He laughed with her. “You’re the only AC5 out here as far as I know. Come on in. Zell’s running the show and it looks like we’re winning. But damn if this wasn’t a close thing.”

The two of them walked into the interior of the tank, and the door slid closed and clamped behind them.

Published by Damien Lee Hanson

I am the founder of Damien Hanson Books. Come check out awesome authors right here at my website!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: