Berbatov was truly in his element for the first time in his life; he was wading through a river of blood, chopping and hacking as he moved upstream. His halberd felt lighter than air, imbued with a divine power. He stroked the blade through opponents; kissed them with its edge and caressed them with its staff. No longer did he need brute force to cleave, slice or smash, but the power remained.
Time seemed to slow and he wondered at the stream of light that seemed to follow the blade’s trajectory, marvelled at the speed of its movement and gloried in the simplicity of its result.
The violent noise of the conflict dragged him back to the present; the screams of pain, pleas for mercy, the meaty contact of metal against flesh, and the concussion of exploding munitions. His sections stood by him, revelling in their work and screaming their battle cry in time with each blow, each cut and thrust; ‘W-aaal-ters! W-aal-ters!’
The Sargeant smiled, even when the Major wasn’t trying, he was winning. The men loved him, they swore by his name, and before much longer they would be no doubt praying to him. Not bad for a scam to get off planet. That, however, was an eternity ago. There was no more need to lie, no more need to run or hide.
He had seen the Major begin to die, had cried over his broken body and rejoiced at his unexpected return. Now he would do what he did best, he would kill for him, no questions, no remorse. Where Walters walked he too would follow.
Walters was close, he could smell the stench of emptied bowels mixed with fresh blood. He could hear the chants and barbaric rituals, and the screech of turning wheels. His body reacted to the presence of that whose possession had burnt him, had scarred him, and ultimately birthed him.
Then he was clear the press of the surrounding bodies and stood face to face with The Lord. The mutated K’ran strained to reach him, snarling and slavering. He jumped up, punching downwards onto the top of the lead beast’s skull, shattering the bone and driving it into the earth. Moving quickly he snapped the reins holding it to the chariot and looped them around the second beast’s neck. Still holding the leather in his hands he vaulted over its head, forcing its neck backwards at an impossible angle, literally shredding its throat with the rapid tightening of the hastily formed noose. There was a crack, then it too slumped to the floor. The other beasts cowered away from him as he stalked towards them, the K’ran within them recognising the dominance exhibited.
The Major stopped beside the now gently swaying body of the vehicle and stared unblinkingly at the thing within.
“And who or what exactly are you?” asked the Lord as he unwound the ends of the reins from his waist. “You have caused me a great deal of trouble in organising this meeting.”
“Well, I’m here now,” returned Walters, smiling, “Sorry to have kept you waiting.”
“Ah, humour. Not really the most appropriate of times,” he said as he climbed down to stand in front of Walters.
And for the first time Walters truly saw the monster he faced. It stood a head and a half taller than him, and half again as wide. Its lower half was dressed in what seemed to be a parody of a Church Guardsman, regulation boots and all. That was where the resemblance ended.
Its upper torso was covered in long thin strips of flesh, each wound bandage-fashion one on top of another. Only the head was uncovered. Its bald pate was criss-crossed in strange patterns of scarring, its mouth wide and filled with dagger like teeth. The eyes were reptilian, a sick yellow colour.
In one hand it held a serrated double-bladed sword, and in the other a long whip, whose end trailed idly on the floor.
Arrogantly the Lord waited and then laughingly taunted Walters, “I can taste the corruption within you, why do you fight me? You should bow down before me, join me in the purging of this unimportant world.”
“My apologies,” replied Walters, “but I must disappoint you. You see, I have an authority problem, bowing down before anyone, just isn’t me. As to corruption, well I guess that ‘s relative.”
“It is my opinion that …” began The Lord, but was cut short by Walters who waved his hand in dismissal.
“When I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it. But thanks anyway,” the last comment ended abruptly as the whip hissed towards the Major’s head. He didn’t move quite quickly enough and the tip caught the side of his face, splitting the skin of his cheek.
“You really shouldn’t have done that, “he growled menacingly, “You really shouldn’t…”
Walters bounded forward, spinning in the air to avoid the returning whip and kicked out, his boot smacking firmly into the beast’s head and staggering it. He landed, quickly turning to face The Lord and struck again. He was inside the Lord’s defences and he pitilessly maintained his offensive. His blows struck one after another, in a frightening tattoo of sound. Chest, head and torso were pummelled, bones cracked and vile blood fountained.
With a superhuman effort, the Lord responded, the pommel of his sword punching into Walters face and gaining him some respite. He dropped the whip and gripped the weapon firmly in two hands.
Spitting blood to one side, he spoke, “If that was all that you have W’ratr, it is not enough.”
His eyes gleamed and the air around his blade shuddered, the edges beginning to smoke darkly.
“Did I upset you?” asked Walters and then when there was no reply, “Ooh, the silent treatment …scary.”
The blade whistled towards Walters’ head, the intention obvious. If it had achieved his purpose, he would no doubt have been split in too. However, he hadn’t waited for the impact of the blow, he had moved. And with such speed, his hand blocking the downward stroke in mid-flight and turning it, so the blade crashed into the floor. He used the momentum of the block, to continue his turn and hammered his elbow into the back of the Lord’s neck.
Pivoting slightly he curled his forearm across the beast’s throat and looped his other arm underneath, locking its sword arm in place. Flexing his muscles he heaved it upright. The opposing pressure he exerted held the Lord in place, and slowly, inexorably he increased it.
The Lord struggled, but there was no escape. He was pinioned across Walters’ back, his elbow joint rigid, his throat being slowly crushed. As a last resort he called for his Master and felt the response.
Walters was conscious of the moment of change, of the power flowing through The Lord’s body and was unconcerned. Deep within him there was a reserve of untapped power on which he now began to draw. He heard, as if from afar, his name being chanted as his men killed and he swelled in response. The K’ran ripped through their enemies for him, their teeth and claws drinking deeply the essence of their foes, and he grew with each strike, each death.
Ligaments tore free from The Lord’s shoulder joint, but there was no relief. Walters whipped round, releasing his hold, his hands held spear-like, pierced muscle and burrowed deep into his enemy’s chest. He held The Lord close, almost like a lover, his arms wrapped around him and whispered caressingly in his ear.
“Your first mistake was in sending another to do your bidding, his death made me stronger. The second mistake was arrogance, to think that your master made you invulnerable, untouchable. Finally the third and last mistake was ignorance, you do not know of that against which you have pitted yourself … and you never will.”
Walters’ hands, still buried in The Lord’s flesh closed around bone and he pulled. Not with an almighty force, but beginning gently and increasing without haste. Muscles ripped, cartilage parted, flesh yielded and smiling he tore his enemy’s chest in two.
Walters dropped the still quivering body to the floor; its vile blood could no longer hurt him. He saw the sword on the ground, close to where it had fallen and stooped to retrieve it. As he grasped the hilt, the smoke still clinging to it died and instead the blade glowed dully in his grasp.
He did not look back as he walked towards The Fortress, the weapon rising and falling as he cleared the way before him.
With the end of The Lord, the Tauran Forces began to fold before Walters advance. On one side, led by K’san, the K’ran had collapsed one wing of the attack upon itself. Berbatov and his men butchered their way after Walters, their advance more terrifying because of the laughter and joy with which they did their job.
Sargeant James was in trouble, one of the Tauran’s war machines had him pinned down and his men were being slowly annihilated. He heard the tortured screeching of metal against metal, a triumphant shout and a resounding crash. Breathing deeply and his pistol clasped closely in his hand he peered out from his hiding place.
The war machine lay on its side, its telescopic metal legs sheared clean through. Berbatov’s men were busy with the dragging out its occupants and their extinction.
A gentle cough to his right, brought him spinning round, ready to fire. There stood a grinning Walters, Berbatov by his side.
“Do please keep up, Sargeant. We really would hate to leave you behind.”
“But, you’re not who I was expecting …” said General Wolfe, as the man slowly walked down the ramp. “Where are….”
“Yes, yes, General,” responded the casually dressed individual, “I know who you were expecting. Don’t worry, they’ll be along shortly.”
“Who are you?” the General demanded.
“Inspector Artix,” relied the man jovially, putting his arm around the General’s shoulder in a brotherly fashion and squeezing gently. “I thought you and I could have a little chat first.”
“What about...? What are you doing here?” asked the General uneasily.
“All in good time, my dear General, all in good time,” responded the Inspector, steering the General away from the landing ramp, “Let’s go to your office, where it’s just a little bit quieter, shall we?”
Guest post with D.P. Prior
Hace 2 años