martes, 26 de marzo de 2013

SDIV El Juego Chapter 26 Part 2

Unknown Location

The Tower’s destruction surprised Shan for just a moment, before he too remembered the pain of Diadem. Why had he not seen it? Perhaps the lack of the Guardian, the surrounding city or the creature’s young had confused him. He thought not. Now the spire was shorn away and the shape beneath revealed he shuddered. His Master sent him to Diadem to retrieve the artefact hidden there, he had failed spawning another enemy, one pure of heart and of clean lines and majestic beauty. His screen lit with an incoming message he could no more refuse than follow a clean and healthy lifestyle.

It was his new Lord, whose face he gazed upon for the first time. What a glorious shade of black were his eyes, the torn and bloodied feathers added just the right amount of menace and the stained wings were priceless…

Shan blinked and stared again at Viker. Was it possible? Had corruption gone its own pretty way, infecting the pure and blessed with such filthy depravity. His Master had been such an insinuous one, maybe Shan’s prayers had been answered after all.

“I know you,” said Viker, staring back at Shan from the screen, “we have met before.”

“Oh, that we have Lord,” said Shan depreciatingly, “but you were somewhat different then. We weren’t exactly on speaking terms and I had to leave rather quickly.”

Viker’s eyes widened and then he began to cackle, “Oh, this is rich. You who infected me, who helped to create me are now mine.”

Shan bit back the comment he wished to say and merely bowed his head.

“No, false modesty Shan,” said Viker, his laughter mutating into viciousness, “we know each other too well for that. Bring yourself and what remains of your rotting henchmen down to me on this planet. We have work to do.”

“Lord,” pleaded Shan, “if we do that they could take the ship.”
“Stop your pretence,” barked Viker, “he who you fear is now half the man he was and no threat to you or my ship.”

Shan recognised the command for what it was and the possession of his ship. It would be better he obey, for now.

“And Shan,” crooned Viker, “remember how well I know you. Any thoughts of desertion, treachery, coercion or murder will only be tolerated when done in my name. Are we clear?”

“Yes, my Lord,” replied Shan, now laughing himself, “however, you cannot expect me to promise you to avoid all idle speculation.”

Viker’s cold smile was burned onto Shan’s brain, long after the image faded from his screen. The familiarity was not just that of a similar place, nor of old acquaintances, the scent of failure hung heavy in the air. Not something he relished experiencing again.

“You,” he snapped at his nearest remaining follower, “bring me a Portal Key.”

There was no question as to why, just blind obedience. That was preferable to more sentient servants. He needed to make a sacrifice or two, commune with his Master to beg forgiveness and do so all in secret if he was to stand a chance of surviving this. And all of this before he joined Viker. One quick side trip was easily arranged and the rest he would just have to improvise.

lunes, 25 de marzo de 2013

Link to SDII A Guiding Light

Just a quick comment on the latest post, either in case some of you readers are new or because it has been such a long time since you read A Guiding Light.

With Cornelius' return to common sense, or at least his own peculiar version of the notion, you also find the appearence of the tie-in between Viker's creation and the Tower on Diadem in Book II.

If you want to refresh your memories you can download a FREE copy of A Guiding Light from Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Amazon in the US. For some reason Amazon UK do not offer it free anymore, but not to worry, most other sites do. If in doubt though, go to Smashwords and download from there.

There will be further tie-ins to come in Book V which I have already begun mapping out.

That though, is for later, Book IV still has a few more chapters yet.

Watch this space...



SDIV El Juego Chapter 26 Part 1

Chapter Twenty-Six

Cemetary Plain
Zone III

Viker studied the Tower from distance and shuddered in remembrance. It was an exact copy of that on Diadem, where he had saved Marius, been reborn and pledged his undying friendship to Walters. He wondered whether deep beneath the Tower remained a waiting power source. There had been no sign of the winged guardian or her followers left to protect the Tower’s treasure on Diadem. He giggled insanely to himself; it had not worked there either.

What allegiance he had once owed or sworn to Walters and his kind were long gone. If there were any need for reminders, his reaction to Johns and Alana would surely underline them. There was something different about the spire though,  its top was open with petals of metal stretched wide. Anger flared briefly at the profanation of others to such a sacred place and then he laughed once more. After all, he meant to dismantle it stone by stone and rob that which was hopefully still inside.

Another stared long and hard at the Tower. Deep within his mind hung a small voice which called out the need to protect the structure. A pressure built within Cornelius’ fevered brain, pushing its way to the fore with love and urgency.

“…and then there will come to pass the birth of a mighty hero, steel-thewed and pure of heart, he will hearken to the call of the righteous. Tall, clean-limbed, of the greatest line of Taartun heroes, will he be. When the Egg, the Hero and the Blade are united, will our foes tremble.

Shattered earth and broken bones will litter the Tower. The Beast will be called forth at last, to do battle with the Taartun Hero and the …….”

Cornelius’ Vision blurred and Ngulu screamed in pain as a pureness of thought overtook his Master. Clari returned, pushing all apathy aside and severing the link between man and demon. It was wrong, unhealthy and unworthy of a true Taartun.

Thrashing in an uncontrolled dive they struck the ground, man and demon enmeshed in different  types of pain. Ngulu the Broken wrenched free of his chains, turning to snarl at the small man before him. Now he saw the thing for what it was; puny body, strange hair and burnt visage. This was not its Master. Ngulu felt the tug, the promise from the thing by the Tower but he refused to fall under its spell either. He was free now and would remain so. First things first, he would feed on this pitiful thing which had tricked him into believing it worthy.

Clawed hands reached forward and then recoiled in pain. Ngulu hissed and tried again. Cornelius now stood fully upright, staring into the demon’s face.

“Bad choice, baby,” he muttered, pulling Dunch and Bingle free from his belt, their wicked blades now glinting with bright red flame.

“For a while there we were a little lost, but not anymore.” Butt grinned his feral grin, something that was lost on the demon.

“I fear you not,” rumbled Ngulu, “you are small and weak without your little pet.”

The demon’s true nature showed and he hunched his shoulders ready to strike at the impudent creature before him.

“Us, lost?” replied Cornelius. “I think not.”

The dragon tattoo on his face began to writhe, growing to cover his shoulders and back.  A resounding crack! was heard from the Tower and the main spiral broke in two, just below where the Ori had placed their missiles, littering the earth below.

Ngulu snatched a glance towards the Tower then leapt to the air with two beats of his mighty wings.

“You have not heard the last of this,” he screamed as he arrowed towards the battle in the hills nearby, “I will be back…”

“Do bring some friends next time,” shouted Butt, “it just won’t be the same party without them.”

His smile faded as he turned to face the Tower, the stink of Viker’s presence pervading the atmosphere.

“Well Luv,” he crooned to himself as he began his march, “it seems the Old Hag was right after all.”

No-one answered him. How could she, Clari was dead. To Cornelius though, that did not really matter, she was the Egg, he once more the Hero and he held not one, but two Blades in his own hands.

“Cornelius,” a voice wailed and he looked back to see a strange figure rise from the grass. The checked cloth was faded, the trousers torn and face bloodied, but perhaps he, Cornelius Butt, was not the Taartun Hero after all.

“I couldn’t leave,” gasped the man as he staggered to a halt by his friend.

“Kam, thank’s for coming,” said Cornelius, “I always needed someone along to make me look good.”

The smile on his face took the sting out of his words, and together they turned and walked towards the Tower.

jueves, 21 de marzo de 2013

SDIV El Juego Chapter 25 Part 2

Cursed Hills
Zone IV

Shin followed Alana in her rush towards the enemy. They had landed amidst the blasted earth, dismissive of the smashed landscape. Some had been lost as they searched for a clear landing site to the firing of Alana and her men, but they were many. The creatures who emerged from the craft were a mixture of soldiers, winged creatures and screaming civilians. It did not seem to matter how many they gunned down, they just kept coming.

That, however, did not phase Alana. She had recovered the animalistic rage which characterized the followers of her Lord. Gauntlets were tossed aside, as were helmets, as she raced to battle. She ignored the lesser cannon-fodder, angling towards the main threat, as she perceived it, of the winged creatures. They looked like Viker, but he was nowhere to be found, and like him directed others to do their bidding. Once companions, their armour splashed with broken-winged symbol vied to reach Alana and her people, but they were too slow and inexperienced. They had no Johns to guide and teach them, no Alana to hold them in check, only their new leaders who appeared to glory more in their deaths than in the outcome of this battle.

A growl began deep in Alana’s throat as she smashed into the front armoured rank, a sound which was taken up by all her people. Well-remembered claws snicked into place as she slashed left and right, cutting her way through armour, flesh and bone as if it was not there.

The haughty Angels watched on dispassionately, waiting for their own chance. Their Lord had been clear, these traitors were to die and whatever expenditure of personnel required was warranted. They were, however, not defenceless, but imbued with the blessing of their own Master. As if on signal, they opened their wings and rose together above the throng. Wings beating, they looked down upon Alana and her people, and opened their mouths. The high-pitched screech which they emitted slammed into all below them, bursting blood vessels and ear-drums. None were spared, friend or foe, and as they watched disorientation take over they truly launched themselves into the fight for the first time.

Power fed into them with the blessing of their Master and they swelled with the knowledge of their victory. Wings folded, and claws outstretched they plummeted towards Alana and her men. There was no doubt of victory, the only delicious unknown was how long they could make their prey suffer for.

Suddenly a blast of blue fire smashed into them, halting their dive and allowing Alana and her people a brief respite. Their leader hovered in place and scanned the horizon for the source of the unexpected intervention. In the distance, he saw what appeared  to be another winged creature, one he did not recognise.

“Now, now,” came a voice filled with laughter, clear to his enhanced hearing, “play fair…”

A clawed hand hooked into his flesh and he looked down to see Alana’s bloody face below him, lips pulled back in a ferocious snarl and eyes blazing. This at least he understood. Screeching his own defiance he joined the fight.

Cornelius watched the rending of claws and teeth for a short while, before turning back towards the Tower. It was not the injustice of the battle which had drawn him into the conflict, rather Viker’s attempts to distract him from his purpose. The attempted violation of Cornelius’ thoughts warranted some form of punishment and he had never been one to forgive a slight. At least Viker now knew not to mess with him. If he chose to interfere further, then Cornelius would have to teach him a real lesson.

Onward they flew and behind them the skies darkened with winged figures, circling above the battle. Ngulu’s call had been heard and his brethren came to join the feasting.

miércoles, 20 de marzo de 2013

SDIV El Juego Chapter 25 Part 1

Chapter Twenty-Five

Emerald Forest
Zone I

Cornelius felt the disturbance of Viker’s arrival yet dismissed it as unimportant. He was still concentrating on his mission of vengeance which included both Amryn and the fighter’s pilot. Even the insistence of his companions paled into insignificance next to Clari’s loss. Ngulu the Broken was nothing more than a means of conveyance to him, and the demon was himself lost in introspection. His base hunger had returned with his renewed strength and he eyed the humans around him with the gaze of a predator choosing between a number of choice snacks.

“I do not like this monster,” said Sir Frederic to Burns, swinging the sword in his hand with feeling.

“Me neither,” muttered Burns, torn between the nearby threat of Ngulu and the burning forest, “however, I think we need to concentrate our efforts on getting out of the way of the fire first. If needs be we can deal with the demon afterwards.”

“What about Cornelius?” asked Kam.

“What about him?” responded Burns, checking his rifle and swinging his pack to his shoulder.

“Will he come with us?” insisted Kam, his old loyalty pushing him to ask the question.

“Don’t know, and don’t really care,” replied Burns, “he seems a little preoccupied and I for one have others things on my mind.”

“We should at least ask him,” said Kam, moving to face the now dismounted Cornelius. Ngulu hissed in warning and Kam took a pace backwards.

“I would move we warn my people,” said Sir Frederic, “there is a real threat from both the flames and any of those Ambryn who remain.”

“Agreed,” said Burns, “saddle up LLorente.”

Llorente said nothing, gathering his meagre possessions and ensuring the portal key was safe within his jacket.


Kam tried again but the dragon-tattooed man ignored him, staring past the flames at the distant hills. At last he spoke.

“I go to the mountains and the Tower beyond,” he said in a monotone, “come with me or not, it’s your choice.”

“Not, then,” said Burns, “LLorente and I will go with Sir Frederic where we can at least do some good.”

Cornelius smiled, or at least that Burns hoped was what the expression was intended to be.

“Very well,” he said, “we will part company here. Be warned though, once you leave I cannot protect you.”

Burns laughed, “Up until now, I think we have been protecting you from yourself. It’s time we started protecting others, as our duty dictates.”

Cornelius bowed his head, then moved to climb on Ngulu’s shoulders.

“It would be better,” he said to Kam, “that you go with them. Ngulu and I have work to do.”

He ignored the look of hurt on Kam’s face and without another word, the demon leapt into the sky, unfolding its leathern wings.

“I think,” said Burns to Kam, “that your choice has been made for you.”

Kam waited for a moment, watching the demon and he who had once been his friend disappear into the distance, before turning and following Burns. Whatever he now was, the Cornelius of old seemed to have disappeared for good.


Cornelius felt no pang of regret. Indeed, with the parting of ways came a freedom of both responsibility and deviation from purpose. Ngulu did not need to speak, his baser instincts were served well by Cornelius’ single-minded purpose. There would be battle, death and feeding wherever his new Master went. His strength grew with each moment and soon he would be greater than any of his rivals. Then he could think of his relationship with Cornelius further.

They flew above the flames, noting the struggle of the few remaining Ambryn in their passing. Neither stopped to ponder what fate might hold for Burns and his companions. What would be, would be. Their way led towards the mountains and the Tower beyond.

As they rose higher, Cornelius detected the presence of others, and he raised his eyes to the horizon to follow the flares of the descending ships. Some moved towards the hills to his left, but the main body continued on towards the Tower. He felt Viker’s probe and contemptuously slapped it away. They would meet soon enough.

Ngulu the Broken also felt the attempted intrusion and in his burgeoning return to power experienced some disquiet. He sent out a call of his own, his cunning and need for self-preservation reawakened.

Above him Cornelius too felt Ngulu’s summons and smiled to himself. Treachery appeared a way of life to Ngulu and his kind. It was but to be expected. Although she was dead, Clari still remained a part of him. Who else had he ever needed?

Onward they flew, skirting the hills where now they could see the flash of weapons fire and reaching the plains once more. Cornelius’ vision wavered as Prophecy meshed with reality. He shrugged it away. He needed no sword, nor Taartun followers for what he wished to do. All he knew was that the Tower would provide him with the key to the destruction of his enemies. Beyond that, he cared not.

martes, 19 de marzo de 2013

SDIV El Juego Chapter 24 Part 2

Unknown Location

The sound and taste of the voice on the communicator caused Shan to smile. It was one of his own at last. Now he could truly remake this world into a more fitting vessel filled with pain, lust, disease and depravation. He reached for the transmit button, intending to hail his new friends when Fold Space shuddered once more.

One vessel had entered the system first, a quite prepossessing ship with raked wings attached to a sleek body, giving it an almost ethereal beauty. If not for the dark power emanating from within it, Shan could have been confused as to its purpose. Now others came, burping from Fold Space, ungainly parodies of their obvious leader. Some braked to surround their Master whilst others continued on towards the planet itself. They had obviously not detected him.

“I know you are there,” a voice whispered in his head, its sickly touch a welcome relief from the monotony of solitude, “and you would be wise to show yourself.”

Shan struggled against the compulsion, shivering with pleasure at the corruption he felt there. This, however, was not the first time he had felt such a touch and he resisted.

“Ah,” said the voice again, “one more suited to my tastes, and with at least a modicum of will. This I like, yet it would not do for you to test my patience any further.”

“I resist, my Lord,” replied Shan, “your command only to preserve the integrity of my vessel. If I drop the shields now, I leave myself open to attack from the planet below and would then be of no use to you.”

“Attack from Alana and her pitiful few…?” The question was cold and direct, disdainful in tone and promising pain for such cowardice.

“I know of no such Alana,” replied Shan, “I speak of the dwarf and his demonic steed. They have already caused me trouble and need to be eliminated.”

“You dare tell me what I should do?” the voice roared in his mind, driving Shan to his knees.

“No, my Lord,” gasped Shan in pain, “I only meant to advise you of their threat…”

“Show me…” hissed the voice, “and we can talk of your presumption later…”

To open his mind fully was to admit defeat, and perhaps even servitude, but Shan saw no other option. Gingerly he ceased his struggle and allowed his new Master to enter his thoughts.


On his own ship, Viker cackled with glee, causing his minions to scurry out of his way. Here, perhaps, he had found one of like mind who could be bound to his service. As he trawled through the sewer that was Shan’s existence he pursed his lips in anticipation. There was the touch of another here, one similar to him yet of lesser power. He easily snapped the tenuous bond linking Shan to his old Master, and continued his search.

Ah, there it was, indeed a foe which might entertain him for a while. Alana and her defiance could wait, his troops could deal with her and in her destruction he would weed out the reckless and incompetent. This miniscule man in his ridiculous costume would provide him with the means of flexing his own muscles. Who knew, he might even prove worthy to serve as a minion.

Disconnecting from Shan, Viker ordered his craft to the planet. It was time to see exactly what this creature could do. Afterwards he had others to deal with, and find, if Shan’s cesspool of a mind was anything to go by.

By his side stood two of his Angels, their wings now black as night. It was difficult to say whether they had become more like Viker or he them. His once pristine feathers were now black and mottled with reddish stains. The proud visage had become hooded, his eyes pools of blackness which reflected no light. He wore no boots, as none would fit the clawed appendages he once called feet. These too were mottled and stained with red.

“Food,” he roared, “bring me sustenance!”

There was a scuffle, the sound of a blow and then a whimpering cry as one of his Angels brought his repast. Viker grinned evilly as the young woman was dragged before him. He would satiate his hunger and use her as an aperitif for the main meal to come. One hand lashed out, claws hooking into flesh as he drew her towards him. There was no time for toying with his meal, so he ended her life with a quick slash of his free hand, opening her throat to his eager fangs. 

lunes, 18 de marzo de 2013

SDIV El Juego Chapter 24 Part 1

Chapter Twenty-Four

Cursed Hills
Zone IV


The voice reverberated through Johns’ helmet, transmitting both disbelief and panic. On his HUD he could see the demons retreating, and Alana’s new allies following. The sparkle of their rifle fire was visible through the magnification of his visor, yet they were also receding as his and Alana’s men regrouped. What did she mean…shit!

Now he saw the pinpoints of approaching light, and their designation scrolled down the right-hand side of his screen.

“Cover!” he roared, scanning the area for any handy defile. There was nothing.

“Here!” The voice was Alana’s. He saw her and the main body of his men move under jet flares towards a nearby hill. The dark circle in the lower part of the stoned valley ahead should be a cave. Grinning in triumph he punched his jets and received nothing in reply. He tried again. Nothing.

“Alana?” his voice was calm, gentle in resignation and only on the Command channel.

“Johns?” she replied, a tremor in her voice.

“Get our people under cover,” he said quietly, “It’s up to you now.”

“What the…?”

“Listen to me, Alana,” he continued, his words steady and sure, “my jets are screwed and there is no way I’m going to make it in time.”

“”Two of us will come back for you,” she tried, but there was resignation in her voice.

“You and I both know that would only make two more deaths,” he said, “your job is to get our people into the cave and save them. Find whoever caused this and give them a little message from me.”

Her laugh was brittle and forced.

“Sure, Old Man,” she quipped, “something short and pointed, I think.”

“Get going,” his voice began to waver and he cleared his throat with a mock cough, “let me have some time to find peace with myself, and the man I wronged.”

She understood. They had chosen Viker over their true Lord, and now Johns wanted to right at least that wrong.

“See you on the other side,” she whispered as she closed on the canyon, “I’ll say one for you too.”

Johns watched until the jet flares disappeared before turning to gaze up at the oncoming missiles. They were close now, their engines flaring brightly. None would hit close enough to kill him directly, but they did not need to. His armour was good, just not good enough. He knelt, bowing his head and opening his arms wide as he prayed to his Master.

In the cave, Alana prayed in silent communion with her small band of followers. They asked for forgiveness, hope and strength. The darkness of their eyes changed, a green spark fanning to a flame as they felt the return of their faith. Out on his own, Johns felt more, his lips snarling in recognition of that which he had lost. He shed his gauntlets and flexed fingers that had for too long been encased by loss and disappointment.

As the first missile struck the hillside he thought he felt a response, a touch from far away which returned his unconditional love. With this caress, his shoulders hunched, nails curling into claws and his eyes blazed with lambent flame.

The air near him shimmered as an errant portal opened and he ripped free his helmet sniffing the air from within. He quailed as the stench of rot pervaded his nostrils, then snarled his defiance as the second missile struck. The resulting blast wave picked him up and hurled him forward, straight through the portal and into unconsciousness.


The missiles struck the hill in quick succession, pounding the area last inhabited by Alana and her men. Rock was blasted into dust and the earth shook from the tremendous impacts. When all was quiet again, there remained a single huge crater gouged laterally from the neighbouring hillside and sole stand of rock untouched by the firey destruction. From within its safety walked Alana and her men, dropping to their knees in thanksgiving. It had been a miracle and they knew to who they owed their thanks. Never would they again forget.

As she rose to her feet, Alana initiated her communicator, fruitlessly scanning for Johns amidst the chaotic landscape below. She expected and received no sign of his presence.

Just as she turned to order her men to their feet, her communicator crackled to life and a familiar voice boomed in her ears.

“Alana, my pet, did you miss me…?”

Hers eyes blazed her defiance as she looked skyward, searching the heavens for her enemy. She felt the touch of his mind, but he recoiled as if burnt.

“How?” he asked, caution and fear seasoning his overconfidence.

“Johns showed us the way,” she replied, her armoured wings flicked out from her suit, mirroring the call to battle she felt surging in her blood, “and we stand in the stead of our true Lord. Come look for us at your peril…”

domingo, 17 de marzo de 2013

SDIV El Juego Chapter 23 Part 2

Unknown Location

Shan looked over his shoulder as his men filed into the control room. They were in effect a sorry excuse for followers; flesh peeled, where suppurating pores did not cover exposed skin. He sighed and the grinned to himself. He had after all chosen his path and his Master. There could have been prettier followers if his choice had been different, but the disease of debauchery was something he revelled in.

Satisfied that the more sentient of his people were aware of what they needed to do, he once again studied the game board. The shield around the Flagship was still holding, although weaker than he would have liked, and therefore he had a little time left. Panic over his situation and caused him to make rash moved before and he was determined not to do so this time. The signature from Fold Space was uncertain; neither a proclamation of intent or a bungled game of deception. Whoever was coming feared little what might await them, and that in itself caused Shan concern.

All of the fields separating the game zones were down, however in some cases portals joined unexpected areas and he felt a delicious thrill of the potential interactions occurring below. It was a shame that he could not take the time to really enjoy the chaos and destruction being unleashed below.

The dwarf and his beast were an enigma; neither their arrival or survival had been expected. Perhaps it was all part of a bigger game? Whatever the reasoning behind their involvement, he could still use them in his escape. To action, then.

Cracking his fingers in anticipation he entered a string of commands into the console before him. These Ori were great at contingency plans. It obviously came from being hunted and feared throughout all of their long-lived existence. With a flourish he activated the final symbol and keyed his screen to show the isolated tower standing in the midst of the Cemetery Plains.

Cemetary Plain
Zone III

Wind ruffled the tall grass close to the Tower. In the further distance a twisting mass of Ambyn fought and feasted. Their mindless hunger drove them on even when they had devoured all others. Field collapse had opened a new vista to them, yet it seemed that they were unsure of their direction. There were just too many interesting possibilities. One amongst them would soon lead and then their destructive path would continue. That is, if they were allowed enough time. Fortunately their choice would soon be made for them. The collateral damage caused by this choice would trouble Shan for less than a heartbeat and for others much longer.

At the top of the Tower’s spiralled structure light began to blink. It was at first red, then blue, followed by green. This cycle soon became a chaos of colours as more and more panels flicked to life, mingling in the now heavy air. With a groan, the Tower split open, shooting small spheres skyward. These whizzed around in apparent discord just for a moment, before arcing out in a rainbow of light. At the highest point of their trajectory they hovered over the Ambryn whose mindless rage left them oblivious to their impending danger.

Spheres spilt, showering the grasslands with liquid fire, a rain of chemicals which burned where they struck, refusing to be extinguished. Ambryn ran, hissing in pain and terror, and where they passed they carried flame. Tall grasses burst into flame, the wind fanning the blaze towards the Tower. Bushes and trees also caught alight as the first mindless creature crossed into the neighbouring zone. It no longer felt hunger, just the unavoidable urge to flee. With it, it carried its own death and perhaps that of others.

Not all of the spheres split at once, others continuing on to drop and explode deeper into the surrounding forest. More missiles left the Tower, this time travelling in the opposite direction to the spheres. These were larger and shone no light, except the lambent flame of the motors which drove them onwards and ever upwards towards the distant hills.

sábado, 16 de marzo de 2013

SDIV El Juego Chapter 23 Part 1

Chapter Twenty-Three

Cursed Hills
Zone IV

Johns loved a good fight and this, although strange, had all the makings of an enjoyable confrontation. The demons were a welcome relief, although Alana’s new allies disturbed him. They reminded him of a previous battle and one which had not ended well. It was confusing as they looked as though they should be on the side of the demons, not helping Alana.

He swerved, using his armour to soak up punishment, and returned the demon’s blows with gusto. His HUD wavered and then refocused causing a momentary disorientation; hills became plains, then forest and finally a city scape. Magic? What was it?

“Alana, are you seeing this?” he asked on his helmet communicator.

“Yes,” she replied, “is it trickery?”

“I think not,” said Johns, “the plains we flew over on our way here, yet the city is unfamiliar. It reeks of Tauran sorcery.”

“Something else, I think,” commented Alana, “the control of this world belongs to those on the ship we saw on entering the system.”

“Probably,” agreed Johns, “but there is something else here. It reminds me of Viker. It smells wrong.”

Alana tried not to laugh. Johns was reverting to type, his time with Walters overpowering Viker’s influence. Smelling wrong may well be a euphemism in this case, but overall she could not doubt the veteran’s instincts.

“In that case,” she said, on open channel, “it’s time to beat feet…or wings if necessary.”

“Agreed,” said Johns, activating his own general communication, “strategic withdrawal, ladies and gentlemen. Things are about to get even more interesting.”

Unknown Location

Shan shook the Ori but received only the blank look of one of his mindless followers in return. Haste had always been his downfall, and in this case it could be taken literally. Whatever the idiot had done, none only collapsed the containment fields, but was causing portals to open and close in random succession. The control module itself danced with light and data, which Shan supposed could not be good. At least the game console showed that the Flagship’s shield was holding, even though everything else was strange.

He moved to a secondary console and tried to achieve an inventory of his remaining resources. If nothing else, he could perhaps confuse the dwarf with more foes. What he saw caused him to turn, pulling a pistol from his belt, and shoot the slack-jawed Ori in the face.

“Idiot!” he screamed, “how could you let him leave?”

There was of course no reply. The data banks showed the missing ship and inventory clearly. There were a few miscellaneous pods remaining which he launched more in a fit of pique, than in the hope of anything positive coming from his action. All he could hope for now, was that the mayhem below took care of his enemy. Anything else would mean that his was time for a strategic withdrawal or a plea for help from his Master. That was the last thing he wanted to do. Perhaps, things would resolve themselves. He could but hope.

The lights in the bridge began to oscillate in tempo with an ever increasing whine and Shan scurried back to the main board. The shield was failing and someone was coming. Not from the planet itself, but from Fold Space. It was time to go. 

viernes, 15 de marzo de 2013

SDIV El Juego Chapter 22 Part 2

Unknown Location

Shan’s landing was less than textbook, his fighter bouncing twice on its landing skids before skidding to a halt inside the hanger deck. His anger did not help. Everything appeared to have changed with the intervention of the dwarf in the game. Pieces played and deployed should not have had the ability to effect the various zones in the manner they had done so.

His robes tangled in his feet, almost causing him to fall face down onto the metal floor. Curses were not enough and he stalked through the ship, looking for someone to kill. It could only be an Ori, as his men were already dead. Reanimated and diseased corpses gave little in the way of satisfactory enjoyment.

Arriving on the bridge his anger increased; only one of the Ori remained, shivering in fear and hunched over the table. Well, he would have to do…

“Lord!” cried the Ori in relief.

It was this happy circumstance which stayed Shan’s hand. There should have been cowering terror, not eagerness.

“What?” snapped Shan, back-handing one of his own men just to release a little pressure.

“Others have entered the game:”

“Others? More?” asked Shan, his anger warring with his disbelief.

“Yes, Lord,” replied the Ori, now shrinking in dutiful fear, “unknown soldiers in powered armour, and someone with a portal key…”

“A portal key?” asked Shan, “How could anyone have a portal key?”

“I do not know, Lord,” said the Ori, “but there were two unscheduled activations.”

“Which Zone?” growled Shan, hoping against hope that he would not hear the words he was dreading, yet somehow knowing it would be so.

“Zone One,” said the Ori and Shan began to relax, “and Zone Three…”

Now Shan’s anger was replaced by fear. The dwarf and his beast were there, if they managed to find the right combination then they could be here at any time.

“Guards,” roared Shan, “prepare to move out.”

His men shuffled forward, confused by his command.

“You!” he said pointing at the Ori, “Collapse all of the portals now except this one, and strengthen our shields. I want no-one getting here by mistake.”

“There is nothing to worry about, my Lord,” began the Ori, shutting his mouth as a flailing fist grazed the top of his head.

“Do it!” roared Shan and the Ori rushed to the command console, shutting down the zonal barriers as quickly as he could. They would lose all of their stock, but survival was worth it.

“Thank you,” said Shan, “but I should have done this earlier.”

He nodded at the nearest of his men who grabbed the Ori, tilting his head backwards. Yellowed teeth snapped at pale flesh and Shan turned away. Mindless automatons were better than fools. He would just have to make do.

jueves, 14 de marzo de 2013

SDIV El Juego Chapter 22 Part 1

Chapter Twenty-Two

Emerald Forest
Zone I

Mammon dragged Llorente mercilessly through the thin woodland, the soldier had long since lost the will to struggle, his absolute terror unmanning him.

Mammon said nothing; his blood smeared face resolutely pointed forward towards the nearest portal. His hand flexed around the transmitter in his pocket; the sooner he got away from this godforsaken zone the better. Pulling the mechanism out, he saw that the light was now shining a steady blue. Dragging Llorente to his feet, he pushed the activation button once and smiled thinly as the portal opened.

As it shimmered to life, Mammon began again to drag a now screaming Llorente through; the soldier having recently recovered his voice.

The sudden arrival of Ngulu the Broken changed everything. Limbs smashed Mammon to the ground, stomping and tearing in the Demon’s haste to save his new Master. Cornelius for his own part was unconcerned, and showed it as he casually turned and threw bolts of power into the mass of creatures behind him. Someone was repeating themselves and he did not like it.

The Ambryn were a threat, but he saw them now more as a nuisance. They were in his way. He wanted the creature from the fighter. Somehow Cornelius knew that he was to blame for this, and above all Clari’s death. He had long ago forgotten about his sacred quest, the mystical Blade and the Taartun prophecy. Butt wanted blood, death and revenge. Not necessarily in that order.

Llorente opened his eyes and tried to understand why he could see stars, or rather a star. Its incessant blue blinking helped to clear his vision and it all came rushing back. He could see Mammon crawling towards him, dragging his useless limbs behind. The sound of weapons fire, and lots of it, forced his attention away momentarily, and he felt an enormous relief at the sight Burns, although the rampaging demon did make him wonder about his companion’s choice of allies.

Then he swore, as even viler creatures pushed their way through the portal, and grabbed at the transmitter, scrabbling at the ground nearby where it had fallen. Frantically he stabbed his finger against the buttons on its surface; one of them had to do something!

A clawed hand stabbed into his thigh and Llorente mewled in pain and exasperation. He bunched his fist and hit down, mashing a series of buttons randomly in his haste. Various scenes flickered before his eyes; demons, screaming soldiers, knights in shining armour and even a fair-skinned blue-eyed angel, before the portal began to shrink. Burns’ hand grabbed his collar and the hot gases from his rifle curled past Lllorente’s head as he was pulled away from the oncoming monsters.
Mammon saw the portal shrinking and also tried to crawl to safety. A clawed hand snagged into his flesh and he was inexorably pulled into the diminishing dimensional doorway.

“Help me!” he screamed, his eyes pleading.

Llorente pulled away from Burns and scrambled to his feet, running towards the struggling Mammon.

“What are you doing, idiot,” shouted Burns, stalking forward, his rifle snarling death.

“I can’t leave him like this…” said Lllorente, swinging his foot forward and stamping down on Mammon’s hand which scrabbled in the nearby soil, “I need to give him all the help he deserves.”

Burns shook his head, as Lllorente laughed in manic glee. Two more clawed hands snatched a wailing Mammon away and the portal closed with a final snap of air.