Friday, December 10, 2010

Tales of the Rancid Blade: Part 34: Fragments

Fragments.  Wood shards.  Stone chips. They floated in the air before him.  Slowly.  Light reflected off plaster dust as it splayed through the air.  It had been punched from the wall beside him.  The wall had erupted in a riot of noise and fragments and pain.  But he watched it move in slow motion.  As he must have been moving.  Moving through the air.  What once had been an abandoned room in a derelict building now became like the contents of a snow globe, swirling moving, rearranging.  As his body moved through the air his mind flashed thoughts through his head.  

He saw the recent arrival of two drop pods, Space Marine assault vehicles that plunged from the sky, delivering a monstrous payload.  Maturn remembered watching a mechanical coffin lumber from the pod, gout's of flame issuing from its arms.  He was embarrassed to recall that he was relieved the monster had moved off to focus on a team of Crisis Suits rather than toward his fellow Pathfinders.  His relief hadn’t lasted long.  The stationary Drop Pod’s auto sensors detected his team immediately and began launching shells into his position.  The wall beside him dematerialized, blowing outward and knocking him off his feet.  As his body crescented though the air his mind cast about trying to catch something familiar.  

Analop stood in a field.  It was a long time ago and the red Holhok grasses waved in the slight wind.  Trees and their yellow foliage waved and caught her attention.  She looked up in slow motion.  A long dark pony tail curved as underwater.  Her spring dress frolicked about her long body.  He watched the curve of her neck.  The skin, a slight blue, was dotted with the finest freckles.  It had been one of the first things he had noticed about her.  He had thought that they were like tiny river rocks amongst the stream of her skin.  Her attention was drawn back toward him now.  Her large dark eyes widened to see him approach.  It was Millliltan, the festival of the dry season.  He was meeting her to picnic in the field.  Six years ago.  As he approached her face brightened and her glands blossomed.  A roar swept over them and at first he thought it was a wind in the field...  but the fragments drew together and he was back in that building.  What remained of that building.  

He crashed to the floor and felt fragments in his shoulder snap apart.  Pain seared into him.  He genuinely thought his life had been flashing before him.  The sound roared back and he heard the punching of shell impacts.  He looked around and saw the bodies of several of his team mates.  He saw a pulse carbine, his, some distance off laying on the floor.  Then, he felt a presence nearby.  He looked up and saw the huge form of a Broadside Suit standing above him.  Its massive arms, supporting railguns,  faced away from him out the blown windows of the building.  It's dominant white form hadn't been touched by the impacts from the drop pod at all.  He followed the barrels to where they pointed.  The yellow of the morning light was still on the building across the street.  

Bolts ricocheted from the street below and another explosion threw debris and fragments across the room.  Maturn flinched at the concussion and tasted the thick of blood in his mouth.  His eye glanced back at the Broadside.  It’s relatively small head had turned to look down at him.  He saw the green of the optic lens looking at him from the tower of it's body.  Just as he thought the robot might say something it’s shoulder mounted smart missile pods opened.  Blunt missiles spewed from the pods, screeching and creating clouds of snaking exhaust that curled and twisted, following the missiles as their instinctive programming sought a target.  The suit looked on at him as though it were ignoring the fusillade that it was creating.  The missiles were gone in an instant, the smoke swept after them.  And the raucous detonations could be heard a moment later.  He could imagine what the recipients were going through. 

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