Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tales of the Rancid Blade: Part Eleven: Overdose

Gladiator Usanti looked down at her hands. They were white. Deep green blades of grass pushed up between her fingers. They were greener than anything she had seen before. Her hands were palm down against the grass. She was on her hands and knees in the middle of a field. The green of the grass seemed to be leaching into her fingers. To her she was becoming one with the green of the grass. Not one with the grass but with its color. Faces seemed to be hiding within the tendrils of the grass. A line of deep red blood rolled down her arm from an open gash in her shoulder. The faces in the grass moved to drink it. Red and green and white all mixing together and pulling her down.

Around her the bodies of many. Some moved as she did. Most were dead and still. Her torn robe and armor seemed to hang from her as a poorly dressed actor’s costume. Her black hair was matted with blood and bile. Today she was not a gladiator. Today she was a fool. She arched her back and vomited onto the grass. It was thick and chunky like a poorly digested soup. A long strand of yellowish spittle hung from her, once strong now trembling, lower lip. It hung down to the bile before her. She coughed and the earth rolled up before her. She spat.

Riding into battle with the elixirs brewed in the Pots of Night was a common enough thing. This time the cocktail had been bad. Combat drugs would always stream into her system as she piloted the Drachite's bike. Lady Hosphel herself would sit directly behind Usanti on the bike close enough so Usanti could see her master’s knees on either side of her hips. Usanti was under the influence most of the time. She had known it was a bad mix when her injection pack had first started pumping the liquids into her system. The fire hot concoction had driven her into a wild state of rage and ecstasy filling her eyes with red. She had felt the hot roll of energy through her arms and legs and then deep in her stomach and groin. She had gripped the handle bars of her masters jet bike white knuckle tight as the rage for battle had stormed through her. Images had raced before her as she sped the jet bike toward the Necron automatons. Strange colors seemed to race before her eyes. The front of the bike seemed to curve upward and the world seemed to shimmer with an unnatural light.

The bikes sped toward the well formed Necron line. However as they came closer the streams of color gave way to a bizarre force before her. Usanti peered toward the figures and saw rank upon rank of metal skeletons advancing. However they seemed not walk but instead they were dancing. Their grinning faces were surrounded by petals of mighty flowers. They seemed to dance like jerky puppets toward battle rather than the grim patrol they normally had. She turned, looking at her fellow riders weaving beside her. She could see that they saw the strangeness also. A flock of metallic machines the size of dinner plates flew past them racing away at an odd angle. They were colored with polka dots as strange lady bug beetles might be. In the background were massive Necron towers lowering themselves from the sky. Usually they were bathed in an odd green light. This time they were carried aloft on massive butterfly wings. They were covered with dots themselves, and smiling yellow faces. Now she could feel that the drugs were wrong.

As the wind pulled on her hair she could hear Drachite Hosphel screaming. The Drachite grabbed Usanti's black hair pulling it hard and while this wasn't uncommon, from her riders position Usanti was in close reach, the pilot could feel that the drugs were beyond her master’s control also.

With her head pulled back and the bike tearing toward the Necron line Usanti vomited over her console. Her blood was rushing now and streaming out her nostrel. With the wind over the bike's console bile and mucus sped back against her. One of the other bikes nearby lurched sideways and flew right into the side of their jet bike, shattering the guidance controls. Parts of her bike broke away, pelting her. With a final tug the Lady Hosfel flipped backward off the back of the jet bike her arms and legs spread wide in the air. She tumbled over and over still clutching a handful of Usanti's hair. Both the bikes plowed straight into the ground and the last thing Usanti could recall from that moment was Killiyan, the rider of the other bike, being crushed into the ground under the full weight of his vehicle.

Now, with the sun high in the sky she arched her head up. The Necrons were gone and scattered about were the bodies of her Wych kin. Because the Necrons take the bodies of their dead it appeared that the eldar had been fighting each other. Again she vomited onto the grass. Her head was spinning. The many dots still played in front of her eyes.

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