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, 8 de marzo de 2011
A Leap Of Faith - Chapter Six
Planet Goldburn 3rd Eclisiarch Protectorate
Chary was unconcerned at the losses. They remained within manageable parameters. It was to be expected that the Churchmen would finally learn how to fight back. None of her seasoned troops had been lost, however the Harvest was risky and not all of the new troops would be recovered. This was planned for and she sighed, staring at the screen in front of her, as data scrolled rapidly upwards.
This Seeding was a first, the culmination of intense experiments which would generate many others. The principle was easy, her ships had sneaked into high orbit unnoticed and delivered the virus. Its effectiveness was proven and the humans had reacted as expected. Depending on their physiology they had mutated or had accepted the viral string. These mutations were needed in order to provide the final catalyst. The atmosphere was saturated with the virus and the arrival of the Church troops had finished the reaction.
Assimilation of the genetic code which came from the mutated stock opened the new population to a higher possibility. Once battle was joined, the adrenalin-driven survival instinct was enhanced; battle-madness was the conduit to her Master. Then the Harvest was begun.
Her troops needed honing, yet they would be joined by more and more of their fellows as they gave in to the disease’s attack. Eventually her ranks would swell and the delightful part was the possibility that the CHurch fools would send in more troops, unwittingly adding to her burgeoning army.
The Master would be pleased. He had fed on the souls of those few who had resisted the mutation. These unknowns could not be left alive and using them to open the rift was a delicious irony. Even they had served.
Another glance at the screen showed her the first transports’ arrival was imminent. Her cape whirled out as she span, her little dance of anticipation witnessed by none but herself. Grinning, she picked up a wicked spiked baton and strode towards the field prepared to welcome her new recruits.
“What’s going on!”
The General was incandescent in anger. Reports spoke of the decimation of his Regiment to an unknown enemy. Someone had not done their job and he had walked unknowingly into an enormous trap.
“Sir?” his Exec asked.
“Never mind. Contact the ships. We need to bring down the second regiment and I want fighter cover.”
His subordinate nodded and spoke to the communications operator. Orders were relayed to the ships in orbit above the planet and more soldiers were prepared to quash the threat. The General was playing directly into Chary’s hands.
The General turned, impatient in his anger, even his Exec was losing it. He gasped at the sight of the blood puddling the floor around the communications station and tried to pull his pistol free as his Exec inched forwards, arms extended and blood covering his face. And the eyes …the eyes!
The small transport settled to earth, the door slapping the ground as it crashed downwards. Chary waited, flanked by a squad of her personal guard, tapping the baton impatiently against her thigh. These were the first to arrive and she knew the primary contact would be important.
They shuffled down the ramp, brows beetled and eyes aflame. There was little in the way of recognition and she knew that a firm hand would be needed.
The group started, but when the command was repeated their training kicked in. They formed a ragged line, growling and snapping at each other. Their clothes were torn and bloodied and their minds regressed to the most primeval of urges.
Bodies straightened and Chary smiled. Rage permeated their very existence and she needed to pierce the veil clouding their minds. She reached the front rank and her aides pushed and shouted the troops into a semblance of parade ground decorum.
The man looked at her, struggling with his identity and responded.
“Alcaraz, Ma’am. Trooper First Class. Where am I?”
The baton whistled viciously and struck him across the face. She saw the answering fire and struck again. His hand flashed upwards, blocking the flight of the thin stick and he growled, taking one step forwards, his hand raised in response. Instantly her guards attacked, rifle butts slamming into the unfortunate man. It took many blows to render him unconscious and Chary began to fear. This one’s reaction was elemental, powerful and not what she had expected.
“Take him away!”
She was instantly obeyed, the flaccid body was dragged from the field and she turned to face the others.
There was no reply and she nodded in satisfaction. Trooper Alcaraz would be dealt with separately, she needed to understand what had happened, but for now she had other concerns.
“Welcome to your worst nightmare,” she began, “we have a job for you …”
This time when he woke, he was alone. Power surged through his veins and he reveled in the feeling. Something had happened to him and he spat, clearing his mouth. Slowly he remembered his name, who he was and what had happened. Toni Alcaraz promised that there would be a reckoning and mentally began his list. First the evil-looking women, then his Officers and ultimately the Prelate himself. They would all pay.
He knew he had been changed, was puzzled as to why he had been attacked but certain of his ability in overcoming his enemies. Alcaraz squatted in one corner of his cell and began to plan. Animal cunning joined with his higher faculties and once convinced, he waited.
Troops were shuttled to the planet, fighters roared over head and little by little the men changed. It started with one fighter opening fire on his Wingman, then became a pitched battle, shuttles falling to earth in flames. Soldiers battled free and took up positions to find themselves under attack from the already entrenched first regiment.
Soon they were killing each other, the weak weeded out by the strong. The call came and entire platoons formed up and marched away, leaving their fellows suffering behind them. Within one day the second regiment was decimated and the survivors marching to a different tune. In her Command Centre Chary giggled and in his cell, Toni Alcaraz made plans.
A black nail scratched at the tenuous fabric of the rift, the shimmering window drawing him forward. Sparks arced between the portal and the Master, tickling his extended digit. He chuckled, half in anticipation and half frustration. The Harvest was underway, successful to all intents and purposes. One world stolen from beneath the shriveled nose of the Prelate and his minions. It was a good beginning and yet he was dissatisfied – the barrier still held.
Sacrifices meant to free him had brought him close, one small step from dominion but it was still too far. He growled, his wings flexing automatically. The head of his giant axe trailed along the floor, screeching as it scraped behind him. With his free hand he tugged at his horns, staring once more at his way out.
In a wave of fury he smashed his weapon down on the remains of his altar, kicking stone shards in his petulance. Chary needed to bring him one more, a human resistant to the virulent strain of his creation. She had said there were no more, yet he could feel them. Not many, though more than enough.
Buildings crumbled beneath the battling soldiers as round after explosive round tore the stone and metalwork apart. A wave of howling red-eyed maniacs assaulted Sargeant Grimm’s position, but they held. He was a veteran, steeped in the rules and forms of war. When the others began to change, to fall as they exited the troop carrier, Grimm had ordered his platoon to don their breathers. They had borrowed an abandoned APC and raced towards the co-ordinates he had been given. In the Command tent he expected a General and orders but they had found nothing but carnage. Now they were on their own.
Grimm was not overly worried, he had faith that there would be others, he just had to find them. In the meantime he had to keep his men alive.
“Try it again.”
“But Sarge. There’s nothing.”
“Don’t argue with me, son. Someone will be listening. If not locally, on the ship. If nothing else we need to get some intel upstairs. They’ll know what to do.”
The comms-operator relaxed and bent to his task. If the Grimm said he’d be heard, then that was what would happen. He was never wrong.
Unfortunately for the ground troops, returning shuttle pilots had brought the virus back on board every ship. Each of the vessels was mirroring the awful scenario dirt-side. At least there were air-tight doors and the vacuum of space, if all else failed. Deep within the bowels of the main Assault Carrier a last stand was being made and a lone operator transmitted a desperate plea for help. Yet another mistake