Arshavin watched carefully as his two drone ships moved alongside and then gave the override command. Positioning his vessel correctly, he initiated the transformation, feeling the twin clunk as the drones docked, one from above and the other from below.
His evil grin spread wider as his integrated connection expanded his vision and he laughed delightedly as the power surged through his brain. Taking only a moment to enjoy the enhanced sensation he set to work.
All three craft were in themselves singular robotic entities, but when joined and with Arshavin himself acting as their brain, they became something all together different. Their own elementary thinking processes were superceded by that of the Master Craftsman and in turn his sensory perception was magnified immeasurably. He was the newly formed mechanism, and its response time was only limited to the speed of Arshavin’s each and every thought.
Connections split and reformed, metallic structures flowed and joined, the ship’s entire structure being converted in the process. It was, Arshavin knew, driven by his ego, but he had always thrilled in the moment of achieving the final configuration. Once complete, a humanoid shaped construct would remain; its movement a parody of all those things that were recognised as normal and correct. It could operate here in space or down on the planet’s surface, its demeanour titanic, in every significance of that word. The Master Craftsman had never really rid himself of the yearning to walk once more through the hallowed halls of his childhood, and this desire still subtly influenced his actions.
In one supreme moment of exhilaration he sensed his completeness, metallic arms raised in triumph. With a savage delight, Magos ignited his engines and powered towards his enemies.
“What are they doing?” asked Arn of Walters, watching the arrival of the drone ships and their subsequent docking with Arshavin’s craft.
“Something unexpected,” replied Walters uneasily, “and it concerns me that I can feel nothing of it.”
Arn looked at him in surprise, “My Lord, you feel nothing?”
“No, Arn. They are machines, not living breathing things. There is no soul, no thoughts as we know them and no emotions either.” Walters concentrated harder, “However, that which controls them still has a vestige of humanity, however small and perhaps ……. Shields!” he roared, his arms spread outwards as though he was personally holding back an imminent attack.
Instantly Arn responded, increasing the capacity of the defensive shield to full, as an immense beam of energy struck, trying to tear its way through.
“Where did it come from?” asked Arn, calming slightly as he saw their defenses hold.
“Magos!” hissed Walters angrily, his body beginning to glow with its characteristic green energy. Eyes flashing, his voice now thunderous as it screamed its challenge, Walters disappeared from the control room, leaving his astonished crew behind.
Marius lay quietly on the earth, near to where his seat had landed. The retros had kicked in, but his landing had not been pretty. Involuntarily, he groaned as he tried to move slightly, there was obviously something else broken apart from his left arm.
He had seen the Tauran’s craft crash and knew that it was close. It was imperative that he kept still and not attract attention, but it was not easy. Suddenly, he heard the crunch of nearby footsteps and bit his lips as pain washed over him once more. If ever he needed Walters it was now.
Viker felt the contact established with Walters and the towering anger consuming him. His Lord’s touch was not gentle, it held the barely controlled savagery of the beast he fundamentally was. The blessing felt more like a slap than a caress, as though it was perfunctorily given whilst Walters dealt with graver matters.
Stiv was not hurt by this, who was he to chastise Walters? He simply accepted the gift of power, his muscles writhing and changing, becoming thicker and stronger. His face too changed; his features coarsening, broadening, his mouth becoming muzzle-like and the howl that left his throat was more like a bellowed challenge.
Johns watched him and smiled, forming up the squad around him. Now they would see why he treated Viker so differently and they would learn what their Lord’s touch could truly bestow upon them.
With a single bound, Viker cleared their defensive position and raced towards the still firing robots. Lips pulled back in a feral snarl, claws flashing as he ran and with a constant growl deep in his chest, he raced towards the kill.
A graveyard stench was what first alerted Marius to the nature of those approaching, that and the evil cackling echoing around him. His frantic attempts at movement only brought greater cries of pain and made the level of laughter increase. The smell grew stronger, almost insupportable and, as a leering, rotting visage stared down at him, he screamed in terror.
Magos was pleased, his enemies showed fear and that was good. He raised his right arm and the Gauss rifle he bore within it vomited forth silvery steel slugs, their hyper velocity slamming them into and through the fighters opposing him. Shattering cockpits, tearing through metal as though it were paper and sending his foes to a timely and excrutiating death.
A maddened giggle racked his titanic frame as he punched forth laser pulses, missiles roared from his shoulder mountings and plasma spat from his mouth. Nothing could stand against him.
Marius looked up into a face from hell, rotting flesh hung loosely from the facial structure of the creature above him, a green mucus plopping softly onto his forehead.
“Yes-s-s-s,” hissed the zombie contentedly, one clawed hand reaching down to grasp a handful of Marius’ hair, “Shan will be pleas-s-sed.”
Gagging on the smell of putrescent meat, Marius tried not to scream as he was roughly dragged away. He could not turn to see where he was being taken, it in fact took all of his will power to remain conscious, as wave after wave of pain rolled over him.
His left arm hung slackly by his side, each bump or bounce sending razor sharp pain coursing through his nerves. All he wanted to do was die, it seemed as though he had been forgotten about and he knew that he did not have enough strength left to continue.
There was an ear-splitting growl, a sickening bursting sound and he thudded to the ground, blackness folding him in its comforting embrace.
Viker had left his squad far behind, their valiant efforts to keep up with him, were simply not enough. He leapt into the middle of the robots, slashing and biting, metal shearing and crumpling before him. Once through he continued onwards, an inner geas driving him onwards.
Clearing one small ridged area of ground, he saw a group of undead, led by one of the Taurans, toiling onwards, a body being unceremoniously pulled behind them. With no thought for the consequences he jumped straight down into the middle of them, his howl echoing all around.
A slash of his right claw stove in the half decayed head of one of the zombies, that of his left ripped through the Tauran’s chest armour and still he struck. He was a whirlwind of retribution, the stricken human body was forgotten as he revelled in his savage bestiality.
An army could have appeared and Viker would not have cared. This was what he was made for; to fight, to maim, to kill in Walters’ name.
James and his men were not faring as well as the others. Shan’s forces had landed right amongst them, Taurans leaping forth from drop pods and dealing death, and spreading disease that made men only wish for death.
The mere touch of a hand could transmit flesh-rotting illness, a virulent breath could melt armour and bone and still they wielded more conventional weapons. That is weapons that appeared to mirror normal patterned design, but whose muzzles leered as they spat forth explosive rounds, weapons that did not whirr or grind but laughed and chittered.
Helplessly James watched as his men were literally eaten away, to lie dormant for a few heartbreaking moments, before rising to join their undead brothers.
Tanks roared and spat forth the cleansing flames of liquid fire, holding the enemy forces and giving James time to regroup. He heard the welcome snarl of fighters as they raced across the battle field, raining a final death upon the tainted masses below. His troops slowly reformed ranks and volley fire rolled outwards.
They were not winning, but they were halting the followers of the Tauran demon. Their job had been to reinforce Krantu’s thrust for the city, but that was an objective well beyond them at this time.
Augmented eyes studied the battle in space and compared it with the destruction being waged on the ground below, and Magos made his decision. Engines blasting flame, he fired himself down towards the planet’s surface, laughter bubbling through his brain. His speed increased, the heat from his entry into the planet’s upper atmosphere doing nothing more than present a slight nuisance. Multiple targets appeared on his long range scanners and he shook his arms in excited rage.
“Arn!” Berbatov’s voice cut sharply into the ex-Immortal’s private circuit.
“Have you taken the ship?” asked Arn, watching the huge robotic form’s mad dash towards the planet’s surface.
“Of course,” replied the Sargeant matter-of-factly, “Now what?”
“The battle seems to have changed,” replied Arn, studying his data feeds for any sign of Walters.
“Oh?” queried Berbatov, “So now where’s the fighting?”
“Down below,” replied Arn, “and Walters has gone missing!”
Berbatov laughed, “He’ll turn up. Your job is to work out how you get me and my men into the battle.”
“Not my most urgent worry!” snapped Arn, his screens filled with information on the pounding that their forces were taking.
“Fine!” said Berbatov, his voice sounding somewhat petulant, “I guess, as usual I’ll just have to take care of it myself!”
There was a strange sensation filling Magos’ circuits, one which left him feeling anxious. The construct that he was started to shudder, weapons blasting their charges into the air and limbs shaking uncontrollably.
This was intolerable and the man-machine began a rapid self diagnosis, checking routines, confirming processes and all done at an incredible speed. Magos began to feel disconnected, as though he was being torn away from the essence that was he.
At last, with one final tremor, he felt control return and resumed his deadly course. As he approached the battle field, he started to power up his weapons systems, his anticipation rising with each surge of energy, until he felt that he could no longer hold it in. Screaming his own battle cry, he let them have everything, but nothing happened. He tried again and again, yet he was blocked, his ability to reach the all consuming orgasm of raging power forestalled each and every time.
Then he heard a small, yet clear voice ringing through him, “Hello Magos, you forgot about me!”
Guest post with D.P. Prior
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