He's been left to die on an inhospitable world, surrounded by criminals and enemy forces. Enough is enough, and Walters doesn't care who knows it.
martes, 4 de enero de 2011
ALOF - Chapter Three
Asmode's Lair Spindle
The Taurans, as a nation, were feared. They had terrorized their own quadrant of space for millennia, rising to power on the blood and screams of their enemies and servants. Only the Church had stood against them, casting them from one world after another with the power of their Faith. Their belief in the Great One had served as a bulwark against the Demon Pantheon, but lately this faith had been found wanting.
Walters’ discovery of the Artefact had led to an imbalance in the natural order and now the search for the remaining, and thought lost, items of power had become imperative. Of the seven known Artefacts, one remained with the Taurans, their leader wielding its bloodthirsty power viciously in the subjugation of any who tried to usurp his position. His lieutenants now hungrily cast through the vastness of fold space for those remaining. Of them all, Asmode was the only one who had held in his hands the means to challenge his leader. The planned sacrifice, which his priests had assured him was needed to activate the ancient item, had been interrupted with the arrival of Shan and his confederates.
Now he sat in his Throne Room and trembled; not with rage as was customary, but with the beginnings of a fear that Lilith had already noticed. He who now held the Artefact in his hand could eventually become a problem. The one that came though, Asmode could feel his power, was already an equal to Asmode and could well challenge his all powerful Master.
Lilith’s timorous question angered him; she had seen his weakness and that could not go unpunished. She wanted him to destroy Shan? Well, that would be her task. One, in which Asmode was sure she would fail. Whilst she tried, he would find and kill the one who had raised the Artefact’s power, before an even greater threat arrived on the planet.
“Go,” he snarled, “gather my army. Take all of my creatures with you from both above and below and destroy the impertinent servant of my Brother. Spare no-one and nothing.”
Lilith leapt to her feet, her wings snapping to their full extent. Her joy was patently obvious. Whatever had phased her Lord was now forgotten.
“Blood and Death!” she screamed as she took flight, a cry which was taken up all around the groaning citadel *
The Ori had spent much of their existence under the yoke of their Tauran masters. Their mainly agrarian culture was not built to resist their aggressive neighbours and only those steeped in the Way had fought back. They were the Warrior Class and had left their less than war-like cousins behind. Whenever the Taurans attacked, they responded but in most case arriving too late to do much more than extract a minimal retribution.
Cormach had been trained in the Way, but as with many of his generation had yet to be accepted into the strict Brotherhood. There were those, a small faction who followed the Twisted Way, a brutal parody of the Tauran’s demon worship. These were pirates, robbers and murderers who did not place much distinction between the Tauran enemy and their own weak brothers.
The ship which exited silently from fold space, far from the disputed planet belonged to one such as these. Its lines were coldly beautiful, a twisted effigy of hate; an amalgam of all that was Ori, yet with the mark of demon worship. A thin, spear-like craft, it glided towards the dark side of the planet. Rescue was not its goal, rather plunder and a response to the powerful magnet of evil which resonated out into space.
On its bridge stood Sion Ap Marr, his figure clothed in fine black silk. He rested upon the hilt of his sword, made of twisted black metal which seemed to radiate a cold heat. Around him, his men bent to their tasks, oblivious to anything but their undetected insertion into the planet’s atmosphere. Cruel and heartless as their Captain, they lived only for death and pain, the promise of which they could taste.
Lilith was old, yet her nature kept her young. She lived off pain and suffering and the excesses of others. Once she had been normal, human even, but the pull of her Lord had drawn her in. She had been imprisoned by the Church, kept locked in one of their dungeons for centuries. Free now, she took immense pleasure in the particular suffering of humans. When, as in this case, they were not immediately available, she made do with others; Ori, Tauran, it was of no real concern to her.
Her wings snapped closed as she glided the last few feet, using her clawed feet to grasp the adornment atop the tower. To her left she could see the fleeing slaves, and that promised great pleasure in the future. To her right were the diseased followers of Shan and below her, boiling from the tower’s many exits her creations.
They were monsters; tortured effigies of K’ran and Ori. With the powers of her Master she had grown them in the vats and laboratories below and now they answered her call. Mindless, at best, they lived only to kill and today would be a good day for them.
She saw Shan, striding arrogantly in front of his mechanical aides and she smiled. Just a little closer...
Cormach was lost in the beautiful song; he swayed in time to its rhythm, his companion reflexively reaching out a restraining hand. To touch him though would mean death, as the brilliant circle of light shimmered with his tireless movements.
There was no rush of glorious power, it was rather an intoxicating feeling of well-being; nothing could hurt him. His brethren moved away, following K’san from the city and Cormach was pleased. The stench of Shan and his minions offended him and a slow anger began to burn.
He was blind to Lilith, all of his concentration fixed on the obnoxious Tauran. With a roar he leapt from the building, slamming to the ground in a cloud of dust. Righting himself he moved purposefully forward, his gold-armoured companion at his heel.
Before him stretched the twisted and diseased cannon fodder which Shan had brought with him, interspersed with the metallic caricatures of Arshavin. The Artefact span faster as he neared them, glorying in the imminent combat. Cormach swayed away from a bolt of laser fire, but continued on, his weapon now a shimmering oval of light in front of him.
He laughed as he sliced through the first line; rotting arms and legs, spinning away. Cormach grinned as one of the robots was split in two, sparks and cables writhing away, his companion sidestepping the crumbling construct. On he ploughed, leaving a swath of broken bodies and machines behind him. Shan was his target and he would let nothing get in his way.
Lilith held her troops back. This was unexpected. The one her Master was looking for had appeared, and he was clearly doing her job for her. A milling horde of her minions snapped and growled, impatient for the kill, but Lilith had learned much of patience during her incarceration. If she was lucky, her enemies would kill each other and then she could feast over their corpses.
Asmode entered her mind, urging her on, but she ignored him, letting the pain of his anger fill her. There were others she wanted too; the K’ran who had disobeyed her. Surveying the terrain, she saw them amidst the fleeing slaves. One, obviously a warrior led them. He seemed different, but he would do. As she lifted from the roof of the tower, she heard her Master’s wailing cry; perhaps after today, she would no longer have to listen to him.
K’san saw the creature rise from the tower, its leathern wings beating slowly as it took to the air. A stream of creatures followed; crawling, hopping and gibbering they came. Inside he could feel a faint recognition and then he spat. These were abominations! With a growl of his own, he stopped his men; his new pack turning with him.
“Kill!” he roared as he powered back down the hill, “In His name!”
No Ori followed, but his blood hungry companions would be enough. That and K’san could feel Walters’ presence ever closer. He drew on his Lord’s power, transmitting its strength to his followers, and raced on.
Lilith landed amongst the on rushing K’ran, the back draft from her wings bowling over those directly in her way. With a smile, she uncoiled her whip, flicking the trailing edge forward where it caught around the neck of one of her ex-slaves. Another deft movement of her hand caused the serrated edges to tear through the neck of the beast, blood fountaining outwards. She laughed, this indeed was pleasure.
Her free hand buffeted away a snarling maw and she sank her teeth into the exposed neck, drinking deeply. The blood was foul to her taste, but over the centuries she had become less picky of her victims.
A clawed hand hooked into one of her wings, tearing he away from her victim. Snarling she turned and met a fist which smashed into her mouth, breaking one of her fangs in half.
“You are mine!” roared K’san, as he continued punching; he could feel his power growing as Walters drew nearer.
“Master!” pleaded Lilith as she struggled within K’san’s grasp. Dark energy bubbled through her and her wounds began to heal. She thrust K’san away and raised her arm to strike with the butt of her whip. Before she could do so, an explosive round smashed into her arm, vapourising her elbow and part of her ribs.
K’san grinned, showing his teeth and bunched his muscles to leap. The air around him coalesced into a dark orb, the fabric of reality distorting before his eyes. A scaled hand reached through, dragging Lilith away and he screamed in frustrated rage.
It was but for a moment, as the heavy weight of one of Lilith’s beasts crashed into him. With a shake of his enhanced frame he struggled free, twisting to rip into his enemy. There were plenty of other foes here to kill, Lilith could wait.