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Author Topic: [September 2013] Battles - Submission Thread  (Read 4255 times)

Offline Idlewilder

[September 2013] Battles - Submission Thread
« on: September 01, 2013, 06:11:43 PM »

Image by donovanvaldes.

This month we're going to explore the backbone of every good epic fantasy novel and space opera:

Battles.

This month we want you to set a story (or poem) in and around a battle. This could be a skirmish at the edge of the map, a grand space battle or the deciding fight in a century-long war. It can be a fight in the midst of clashing swords between personal enemies, a discussion of tactics in the general's tent or that moment when the gate falls and the siege ends in blood and death.

So your challenge this month is to write a story, in whatever combination of fantasy or SF subgenre you like - but it must include BATTLE(S) as a core element. (Fan fiction is not allowed) Once again, I'm going to open the contest to both prose and poetry as I'm excited to see what you guys can do!


Rules:
1. This can be prose or a poem. Be creative.
2. "Battle(s)" must be a core element in your piece.
4. Prose must be 500-2000 words long.
    Poetry must be 100-500 words long.
    You will be disqualified if you exceed the limits by any more than 10%.


Entry will close at Noon (GMT) on the 1st October 2013, barring any extraneous circumstances and voting will be open for the month thereafter.

The winner will have their piece displayed on the main Fantasy Faction website in November 2013.

Good luck and Happy Writing!
« Last Edit: November 04, 2013, 05:54:21 PM by Autumn2May »
Make Another World.

Offline Ryan Stonepeak

Re: [September 2013] Battles - Submission Thread
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2013, 05:31:34 PM »
!!! Warning !!!
I attempted to capture the emotions and thoughts of battle without describing all of the horrors. However, it was still necessary to use graphic imagery to achieve this goal. If you continue reading, please be prepared for such imagery.
!!! Warning !!!

The Crows

People always told me that your life flashes before your eyes when you were about to die, and I had always believed them. But as I watched the blade fall, it seemed like time was dragging to a halt, and trapping me in this one endless moment of excruciating clarity. I could see everything in perfect detail, and hear the cries of my comrades as if they were standing next to me. I could taste the blood in the air, and I knew that the crows circling above did as well.

It was then that the questions began to appear in my mind. Who was this man that would take my life? Would anyone find my body amidst the others? Would it be worth it? Would we be victorious?

The blade had almost pierced my chest now, and I was determined to look into my vanquisher’s eyes, to make him watch the life leave me. I didn't know what I was expecting to see there. Maybe a look of triumph, hatred perhaps, even uncaring eyes that didn't even recognize me would have been better than what I saw. When I looked into my vanquisher’s eyes though, I didn't see any of that. I saw fear, the same fear that I was feeling right in that very instant, the same fear that I knew every man on the battlefield was feeling. My vanquisher wasn't some monster, no one here was. He was simply a man fighting to protect those he loved. He was simply a man like me, a comrade.

Even as I had that realization, I felt agony like I had never felt it before screaming through my stomach. I looked down to see a perfectly polished sword going through me, and then being withdrawn, and I knew that I had been killed. But, even through the screaming of my wound, I could still hear the cries of battle, the clashing of swords, the whistling of arrows, and the impatient call of the crows. It was both the cacophony and symphony of battle, and every soldier knew it by heart, though they often tried to forget it’s horrible beauty.

Time seemed to warp as the battle went on. It seemed to drag on and on forever, forcing me to continue living through the agony of death, of war. But then suddenly, it was dusk, and the cries began to subside. I knew that the leaders had called for a retreat. The survivors would be stitched up as best they could, preparing for the next day’s battle. But would they send anyone to the fallen? I knew there was nothing that could save me now, but I still wondered. Would they simply accept my sacrifice, or would they try to save me?

Time continued to bend and warp. It would move slowly, and then suddenly hours would have passed. The crows had descended among the fallen during the night, and I had been forced to watch them. They were everywhere I looked, but I couldn't seem to close my eyes. The held my gaze with a sick fascination. I was a soldier, and I had seen horrible injuries before, but watching the crows pick at my fallen comrades seemed different. I had always thought that there was honor in battle, that we were fighting for a something greater than ourselves. But where was that honor, that purpose now?

After what seemed like an eternity, I heard the flutter of wings, and saw a crow land not a foot away from me. It was at that very moment that I realized who the true victors of this battle were.
"We're all nerds here, no need to be socially awkward"

Offline TOMunro

Re: [September 2013] Battles - Submission Thread
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2013, 12:42:49 AM »
A nice opportunity to write a prequel scene from my fantasy book.  This is a battle often spoken of, but never written 'til now

The Battle of Bledrag Field

“Hold fast men, set your spears,” the old general cried in a voice as deep as the thunder of the approaching horsemen.  He scanned the length of his battle line, thinned by a long bloody day from five ranks to little more than two.  He saw a wavering spear in the front line.  Its bloodied tip told of warm work already done, but the militiaman at its other end was trembling – unmanned at the theft of hope by this last great charge of the enemy. 

“We’re lost – all lost,” the boy was whimpering.

“Come,” the general slapped a great hand on the fearful soldier’s shoulder.  “What’s your name lad?”

“Hargan, Hod Hargan, your highness,” the boy replied struck between fear of the enemy and fear of his general.

“Well Hod Hargan, the harpers will sing of this day for years come – of how Hod Hargan and Prince Matteus stood side by side and repelled the invaders.”

“Yes, your highness.” Hod murmured without conviction.

Matteus exchanged a look with the guardsman at Hod’s side, one of the general’s own household guards sprinkled throughout the line to stiffen the resolve of the amateur soldiers.  They understood each other, the old general and the veteran man at arms, a glance and a nod and Matteus knew the guard would watch out for Hod Hargan.

Then Matteus was away down the line.  “Hold, men of Undersalve.  Hold.  You know what you fight for, this is our land, our families’ land – they will not take it from us.  Make your wives and children proud, make your wives and children safe.”

There was no time for more exhortation, the nomad charge was nearly upon them.  With the dispassionate eye of a former cavalryman, Matteus had to admire the controlled power of the desert horsemen.  A wicked curved scimitar in each hand, the nomads galloped forward, mouths wide in a fearsome battle scream as they steered their steeds with the lightest touch of their knees.  These were men who knew their horses better than their wives.

“Aim low,” Matteus shouted.  “This is no time for chivalry.”

And then the storm of cavalry was upon them.  A culture built on speed and skill put no honour or value in armour.  The points of Undersalve spears struck hard and deep into the charging horses unprotected chests, momentum carrying the weapons in.  Fearsome neighs as mortally injured animals tripped and toppled thrashing friend and foe alike in the broken line of Undersalve spearmen.  Some riders were trapped beneath their flailing mounts, or cast off into untidy broken piles by the ferocity of their fall. But as many again of the nomad riders leapt nimbly from their felled animals.  Their scimitars flashed at the scattered militia, even as the foootsoldiers tried to drag their spears free of the writhing horses.

“Draw your swords,” Matteus cried.  “Cut the bastards down.  Think what the scum want to do to your wives.”

His own sabre swung lightly in his hand, the old familiar rhythm, hack, slash, thrust.  A heavily jewelled nomad charged at him, twin swords dazzling as they whirled high and low.  Matteus caught one blade on his shield, parried the other, thrust his knee into the nomad’s stomach so hard the man spewed out his last meal of liquid courage.  Matteus drove the pommel of his sword down on his opponent’s head.  He heard the crack of splitting skull and the nomad collapsed in his own vomit.

“Father, behind you!”

He whirled in annoyance, untroubled by this fresh opponent. A shield slam and a sharp eviscerating slice of his sabre and another nomad got to meet his intestines en route to meeting his maker.   She wasn’t supposed to be here, but there she was.  Her pale cloak was stained - splattered with gore a deeper red than her auburn hair.  Green eyes flashed as she swung her bloodied mace at a nomad who had unwisely taken her for a soft opponent.  She swayed beyond his sweeping scimitars and then leant in with a vicious side swipe that crushed his knee. As his buckling leg brought him toppling down, she swung the mace upwards crushing his jaw into his face.

Matteus fought his way to her side.

“By the Goddess this is warm work, father.” Her face was a mask of grim determination – killing was a necessary business not a personal triumph.

“Too warm to last long,” he agreed.  “I told you to stay back with the baggage.”

“I’m your daughter, not your baggage.” They turned back to back as a fresh pair of attackers burst through the melee.  “You promised my mother you would never leave me – I mean to hold you to that.”

“By the Goddess you are indeed your mother's child,” he exclaimed.  A third nomad ended on the point of Matteus’s blade.  He turned to his daughter’s assistance but her enemy was already stretching his length on the ground, the side of his head hollowed by the imprint of a mace.

It was quieter now.  There were fewer enemies, no battle shouts, just the braying of wounded horses and the groans and rattles of dying men.  Matteus surveyed his line such as it was. A ragged zig-zagging gaggle of survivors – and survival made them victors. 

“We did it,” she declared.  “We won, father.”

“No Niarmit, not yet – all we have done is not lost yet.” 

He strode towards the front of their line.  A few horsemen were galloping away in a broken retreat across the broad plain of Bledrag Field to the low rise at its western edge.  There was still the clash of steel and the clamour of battle away to their right, where the elves of Hershwood were holding their position against three or four times their number of nomads.   

“By the Goddess, the Lord Feyril fights well!” Matteus declared as plumes of lilac fire erupted in the midst of the enemy.  “Gather yourselves, men,” he called.  “We go to the aid of Hershwood – just as he came to our aid.”

They tried, it was true.  They rallied and stirred themselves into some semblance of order, but his poor soldiers were spent.  Matteus walked amongst them, clapping a meaty hand on backs covered in the grime and dust of battle.  “Come on.  Come on.”

He stopped.  On the ground amongst the dead lay a thin militiaman and by his side a houseguard.  Matteus slipped to his knees.  “How goes it Hod Hargan?” he asked.  The boy was deathly pale – a broad deep cut across his chest leaking blood so slowly only because he had so little left to lose.

“Well enough, your highness,” Hod coughed, his words flecked with blood. 

“You are hurt,” Niarmit was kneeling in the dirt on the other side of the fallen soldier.  “Here, take my hand, feel the Goddess’s grace.”  She fumbled around her neck, pulling out the golden crescent symbol of the goddess.

“Too kind, my Lady,” Hod spluttered.  “Honestly I feel no pain.  Did we …”

“Sanaret servum tuum carus dea,” Niarmit intoned the prayer of healing.  When it wrought no response she made to start again, but Matteus put his hand over hers.

“He’s gone, Niarmit,” he said softly. “The Goddess has him in her care now.”

She looked at him across the dead militiaman.  The fierce determination that had carried her through the battle cracked.  Her lip trembled and in that moment she was his daughter, his little girl, seeing sights too dreadful for one who had lived but eighteen summers.  Not princess, not priestess, but a young woman in the midst of blood and death,

“This is awful father.”

“Victory is awful, Niarmit.  The only thing worse is defeat.”

“If Rugan had come – if he had brought the force of Medyrsalve our losses would not have been so bad.  Why didn’t the bastard come?”  Her eyes were wet as she shivered with rage or grief – he couldn’t tell which.

“What’s not done, is not done, Niarmit.  We can have words with the half-breed Prince when this day is over, but there is a battle still to be won here.”

He straightened up, old joints creaking to serve notice that adrenaline could only borrow present vigour from future discomfort.  “Come, form up.  Feyril holds his own and now we may take his opponents in the flank and rear and drive these scum from our land.”

There was a ragged cheer as his much diminished troops formed into a battered but triumphant line.  But the cheer tailed off into a groan and then cries of alarm.  Matteus swung back from his survey of the distant enemy, abandoning his search for their weaknesses as his soldiers shouts told of peril near at hand.

“What’s that?”

“By the Goddess!”

“Mercy.”

Matteus had fought many battles in long years of service to the Salved, but now he felt the leaden despair in the pit of his stomach at the end of all hope.  They were running and howling, great wolves loping across the field of Bledrag, ugly green skinned creatures on their backs.

“Them’s orcs,” a soldier shouted.  “Bloody wolf riding orcs!”

“What’re orcs doing in the desert?”

“They’re not in the desert, they’re here – coming for us and there’s more.”

All across the Beldrag field, five? ten times his numbers.  Faster than horses, hardier than nomads, fresh and numerous opponents.  And behind that tall lumbering shapes, ogres of the mountains. It didn’t matter how they came to be there, answering that question wouldn’t save them.  Nothing would save them.

“Form up, eyes front, spears ready,” Matteus commanded with uncracked authority.  The militia and the guardsmen complied with unthinking obedience, there was no point in thinking – just to do and to die.

“What do we do father?” Niarmit said at his shoulder.

He looked at her, his daughter, mouth set, faith firm – either her father or the Goddess would guide her and she trusted them both.  She trusted them with her life.

“You are my daughter, Niarmit – and I love you,” he said with a sudden regret that he had not said it often enough or hard enough in the eighteen motherless years of her life. 

She looked at him oddly, as though unaware of what tide of destruction was about to overwhelm them.  He wrenched at the ring on his finger, cursing at his gnarled and swollen knuckles, ripping skin as he pulled it free.
“Put this on,” he ordered.

“Mother’s ring?” she was puzzled.  “Why? It’s yours, you always wear it.”

“Put it on!” It was his barrack room voice, the one he never used with her, the one when something was to be done now – no questions.  Yet still she hesitated.  “Niarmit!”

At last she slipped it over her finger, looking at him with unaccustomed suspicion.  He held her hands made her cover the ring on her right hand with her left and looked into her eyes.  “Now say effugere.”

“What?”

“Effugere, say it, hold the ring and say it.”

“Why?”

“Niarmit,” he was angry now, cursing that her mother’s stubborn streak should surface in her daughter at this time in this place.  “Just say it – if you love me, say it.”

Eyes hooded with doubt she gazed at him and slowly softly mouthed “effugere.”

It wasn’t as he had expected, she didn’t suddenly disappear.  She faded over a second or two, long enough for him to see the surprise register in her face.  He could imagine her puzzlement as her surroundings changed from the carnage of Bledrag field to the safe security of the temple at Woldtag.  And then she was gone, entirely gone, entirely safe.

He turned to the thin battle line, short and thin.  Men who would not run, who could not run, were resolved to die where they stood for whatever cost they could wreak from the howling new enemy.

He looked down at the pale militiaman’s still body.  “I will see you in the arms of the Goddess, Hod Hargan!” he said.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2013, 07:28:59 PM by TOMunro »

Offline ladygreen

Re: [September 2013] Battles - Submission Thread
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2013, 01:55:28 AM »
For a Few Coins

Asita slid down the thick vine, pressing her leather soles hard against the growth, slowing her descent.  With a light hop, she landed on the hard, root-covered ground.  Falling into a crouch, she strained to listen, her eyes not able to see what her ears discerned in the midnight darkness.  The far off harsh clash of metal on metal could still be heard.  Cursing, she slipped the short blade from her boot as a precaution, and took off running in the opposite direction.  This had been a bad decision.  Coming here had only proven that Sangrash was an idiot.  But, she admonished herself as she ran, that made her an idiot as well.

Growling with irritation, she kept running.

“Ho!” came a call a several paces before her.  “Round up!”

Sliding to an abrupt stop, she leapt up into the nearest tree, thankful for the reach of her long arms.  Wrapping her legs around the trunk, she scuttled up like a beetle and peered down, praying that no one had seen her.  She had managed to keep hold of her blade during the climb, and now held it tight in her sweating hand.  With careful balance, she tucked it back into her boot so as to better grasp the tree limbs.  Those long afternoons of stealing apples from orchard trees with Sangrash were certainly paying off in unexpected ways.

Getting caught by a Madre or a Farshi warrior was not part of her plan.  All she had wanted was a little pocket change, a little money to tide her over until she and Sangrash reached the next town.  The camps, he had said, were a good place to pick.  Soldiers left belongings in tents whilst talking or eating with their comrades.  Left coin even.  Never mind that the punishment for stealing from a soldier was likely harsher and more quickly dealt than if they were caught stealing from a market vendor.  As a woman, it was an even riskier venture.  For a few coins though, Sangrash said it was worth it.

“First and second linemen only, archers fall around.”

Asita saw movement on the ground ahead and cursed softly when she saw the blue uniforms and flash of silver move below her tree.  Farshi men.  She had thought that she had cleared the battleground.  The Madre men had fallen back further than she and Sangrash had expected, causing the two of them to split up and run.  Unfortunately, it seemed that she had run right into the second reserve of Farshi men.

The branch she was lightly resting her boot on snapped without warning, the crack echoing in the darkness.

“Shit.”

“Ho!  Up there!”

There was a creaking of bows and the air was suddenly thick with whistling arrows.  Asita screamed and tried to cover her head, losing her balance and falling to the ground.  She fell with a heavy thud on her back, knocking the wind out of herself.  Wheezing, she rolled over and curled into a ball.

“What’s this?  A woman spy?”

Footsteps and she was dragged upright.  The sword was against her neck before she could think.  She felt the burning sting and thought of Sangrash.  Damn idiot had gotten her killed.

The roar of men was unexpected.  Tossed aside, Asita found herself crawling among fighting men, trying to find her way out.  Red tunics and blue tunics, silver metal against bronze flashed and dipped and ducked and hacked as she stumbled her way through, bent over.  Tripping, she fell and landed sprawling, her chin scraping open against stone.  A hand grabbed her tunic and lifted her, tossing her into the air as if she were no more than an empty sack.  She felt her arm snap when she landed and cried out, the pain blinding and deep.

The roar grew to a fever pitch, ringing in her skull.  She forced herself to look up and gasped.  The forest floor was covered with men.  This was no planned battle in an open field.  The Farshi reserve in hiding had been found and the Madre men were slowly, surely driving a massacre.
 
Blood splattered across her face and a limb landed with appalling heaviness in her lap.  Screaming, she tossed it off and scrambled back, astounded that she had found herself once again in the center of the clash.  Sudden fire ripped across the bramble, throwing hot light across the frenzied men, heating the forest floor until it felt as if she were cowering in the bowels of hell.

“Asita!”

Turning, she searched greedily for the familiar voice. 

“Asita!”

“Sangrash!” she called.  He was running towards her at a breakneck pace, his pumping limbs illuminated by the forest fire.  “Sangrash!” she screamed.  “Don’t!”  He was going to get himself killed.  “Get down!”

A flash of blinding light illuminated the forest, freezing the flaming branches and fighting men in a silver frame.  Again, another flash, again, again.  Sword, axe, sword, axe.  Sangrash was gone.  The first few drops that fell from the sky hissed as they hit the burning brush.  Feet came near, a man backing up, swinging, slashing, feigning, losing.  He fell to his knees, toppled over before Asita and was still.  The man who killed him let lose a wild scream.  Another flash and Asita saw the twisted gold on the victor’s head, saw the red tunic beneath the blood splattered armor.

The Madre king. 

The rain fell harder and the forest hissed like a great snake, the flames refusing to be put out.  The king turned away, panting like a lion after a kill, and Asita pushed herself up to her feet again, ignoring the pain in her arm.  She jumped over the fallen body of the Farshi warrior and ran to the right, in the hopes of getting out from the center of the battle.  Something - someone grasped her injured arm, and with a howl, she blindly slashed with her dagger and ducked away.  Spots dancing in her vision, she darted between two moving bodies.  Duck, dart, slash, duck, dart, slash.  She was like a silent wasp, stinging all in her way without a thought in her head except to get away.

Flash of light, brilliant forest, silver men.
 
A blow struck her down and she landed on her back, the spots returning to her vision.  Damn idiot had gotten her killed.  If there was an afterlife, she was going to find him and hit him so hard he’d be flying backwards with the angels for all of eternity.  Long buried instinct flooded her body and she rolled away as a thick blade was thrust into the ground where her heart had been seconds before.  She quickly crawled into the throng where her assailant couldn’t reach her.  Damn, she couldn’t get out, she couldn’t stay in.

The Madre king glowed silver in the next flash.  His crown was gone; the emblem on his breast plate was his only remaining identifying mark.  His sword was up, flashing like deadly fire, the Farshi men falling like harvest wheat before him.  A great man, a powerful man - a man who was, tonight, claiming the world as his own.  Asita watched as the sword swung in great, heavy arcs.  As the king cried out with mad glee.  She watched and saw the world crumble before him.  He took one step back, another step to the side, one step back, another step to the side.

With a detached fixation, Asita watched the swinging king, lying on her side.  Her fascination grew with each sure stroke, each strong strike taking in the harvest.  Flash of light, silver king.  The forest hissed.

Madre soldiers had raided her village two months ago.

Flash of light, silver king, one step to the side, another step back.  Hissssssss.

They had taken her sister, killed her mother.

Flash of light, silver king, one step to the side, another step back.  The flames grew higher and burned on.

Asita and Sangrash were the only ones left.  Now, Asita was the only one left.
 
Flash of light, silver king, one step to the side, another step back.  The smell of burning flesh reached her nostrils.  Wide arc of the heavy sword and another body fell.  The world was crumbling and he was winning.  Red tunics all around, red blood everywhere.
 
The Madre king stood before her, slamming his sword against another and roaring as the other man stumbled and fell back.  The sound was strange and muted, the step of his foot dreamlike and slow.  The dagger was heavy in her hand as she lifted her broken arm.  It was heavy in her hand as she drove it sharply between the plates of his armor behind his knee and cried out as her bone separated with the effort.  It was heavy in her hand as she twisted and ripped it sideways and he howled and fell.
 
It must have only taken one moment, but it seemed like many.
 
Flash of light, silver king, flash of light, heavy sword.  Hisssssssss.

She felt a warm spray of blood and stared at the rolling head of the Madre king.  The Farshi warrior grasped it and howled his victory, holding it up for all to see.  The roar was deafening.  Thunder rang from the hills and blue tunics poured in, beating their armored chests while the red tunics, realizing what had happened, fled.
 
The world came rushing back with deafening fury and Asita crawled away on one arm, crying out in agony.  There was something wrong with her feet, why couldn’t she move her feet?  She crawled until the noise grew less, until the beating of metal faded, until the victory screams of men were distant shouts.  She crawled until she couldn’t hear it anymore and the sky began to change from black to purple morning.  She crawled until the rain stopped and steam began to rise from the forest floor.  Burying herself in a pile of leaves, she cursed and felt the tears streaming down her face even as she fell asleep.  Damn idiot had gotten himself killed.


« Last Edit: September 16, 2013, 03:51:12 PM by ladygreen »

Offline rooker

Re: [September 2013] Battles - Submission Thread
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2013, 03:46:08 AM »


on the go, from my mobile

Live and Let Live. Really.

The Lazy Engine: http://www.thelazyengine.com

Trust your imagination. It knows what it's doing. - Karin Tidbeck

Offline DragonScale

Re: [September 2013] Battles - Submission Thread
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2013, 04:33:14 AM »
The Drifter

“Release the girl!” he yelled into the decrepit warehouse. 

No Answer.

An old crack-laden wood door stood as the only obstacle to entry.  A swift kick sent it crashing inward.  His silhouette filled the frame of the entryway, his shadow stretching inward.  A silver blur of metal caught the light as it entered the periphery of his vision.  He ducked, drawing his katana as he did and rose driving it diagonally upward into the lung of the attacker to his right.  Sensing movement to his left he spun, using the still impaled attacker’s body to absorb and overhead chop from a second ambusher.  The block allowed him to withdraw his own sword, side-step, and drive his blade into the second attacker just under the armpit. 

Withdrawing his sword, eyes adjusting to the dim lighting in the room, he turned to take in his surroundings.  Ten men were visible amidst random stacks of crates.  Surely more lurked unseen.  At the back of the room stood his reason for entering this rat infested nest.  A dirty man with hollow eyes stood clutching a young girl in front of him, a large bowie knife to her throat.

“Take a step further Drifter, and I kill the girl,” yelled the man, obviously the leader of this rabble.  “Turn around and tell that old couple who hired you that if they want her back to pay the ransom.”

Hmmm…Drifter…that is what the towns folk have come to call me since my arrival.  Just passing through, a job like all the rest.  Get the girl, any means necessary.

“I think not.”  The look on the gang leader’s face was incredulous as he tried to comprehend the disagreement.  “She’s the only thing keeping you alive right now.  Kill her and there is nothing on this earth that will keep me from you.”  The leader’s eyes widened with fury.  And fear.

“Bring me his head!”

Huh.  I guess I could use the exercise.
 
The first two came at him swords held high overhead.

He blurred forward taking the first one with a thrust to the chest, withdrawing in the blink of an eye to kneel down and sweep his katana sideways disemboweling the other. 

Two more charged.  He met the one on the right’s sword first before swinging to parry a slash from the other.  He opened the left attacker’s inner thigh with a downward slice before whipping his sword back up toward the man on his right, spraying blood into his eyes.  The distraction allowed him to bat aside the man’s sword and slice his throat.  To his left, the other thug was grasping his thigh, a futile attempt to stem the spurting blood.  The Drifter took his head off quickly and kicked the body to the floor.

His eyes darted to the back of the room where he locked gazes with the gang leader.  A smile found his lips.

For god’s sake, he’s smiling.  This can’t be happening.  Four men down and he doesn’t have a scratch.  Fortunately numbers always tell and I have the numbers here.  One will get through. 

“Briggs, Whist!”  Dolt screamed.  Dolt Dodder, Captain for the Big Boss.  An out of favor captain on his last chance.  It was a simple task.  Take the girl of the wealthiest merchant in town.  Make some quick cash while rebuilding his reputation and standing within the gang.  Simple.

His two best men, Whist and Briggs advanced. 

His two best men were unfortunately his two biggest competitors.  A smart Captain would have realized that but no one ever accused Dolt Dodder of being a smart man.

With ambitions and thoughts of becoming the new Captain, Whist Wick, First Lieutenant of the Regal Wolves, the gang that ran the west side of the city, a city that belonged to the Big Boss, charged forward.

Also with ambitions and thoughts of becoming the new Captain, Briggs Bray, Second Lieutenant of the Regal Wolves, sprang forward.  His opening overhead chop was blocked, but he ferociously pressed his attack.  Whist shadowed him but did not engage.

The Drifter met them head on.  These two are uncoordinated.  They are paying more attention to outdoing each other than to me. I don’t have time for petty inter-gang power struggles.

The Drifter arced his sword down upon the one who had charged him anxiously and sloppily.  Mid swing, he dropped his left hand from his blade while simultaneously letting a concealed stiletto drop from his sleeve into his now free hand.  He whipped the stiletto left toward attacker who had been hanging back from engaging.  The stiletto sunk to its full length through his left eye.  The price of hanging back and waiting to seize victory through sacrificing a would be comrade.

One opponent down, the Drifter let his right arm continue to bring his katana down, if weakly, to complete his follow through on the man in front of him. 

Briggs, on the verge if his oh-so-deserved glory, batted aside the katana, sending it flying into the top of a crate across the room.  His eyes lit up at what appeared to be the Drifter defenseless before him.  He almost didn’t notice the fire searing across his stomach.  He looked down to see his life’s blood pouring out onto the floorboards.  When he looked back up, the point of a shorter sword, a wakizashi, was being driven through his throat up into his skull.

Fools.  If they had been coordinated instead of looking to betray each other, I might have broken a sweat. Thankfully his attention on my katana allowed me to bring my other blade to bear. 

So passed the first and second lieutenants of the Regal Wolves, each thinking to betray the other in their ascension to replacing their good old Captain Dolt. 

A stunned silence pervaded the room.  Tension mounted as no one moved.  Seconds ticked away.

“Kill him!!!!!!!!!!!” screamed Dolt.  The command released a tidal wave of action.  A war cry rose up as his men saw this man, this Drifter, down to only a small sword held in one hand.  Their odds were still good.  Some even thought improved.

Taro Tokan, who had a slight hand with cards and a slighter hand with knives, attacked first.  He often entertained the gang in their down time with his card tricks.  He flung a knife at the Drifter only to see it batted aside and receive a return throw from a second concealed stiletto into his right eye.  Of course the Drifter would have more than one hidden knife on him.  Taro Tokan fell dead in his tracks.

Pall Twofor was a man who always believed two was better than one.  Two stacks of cash, two apartments, two whores.  He pulled his two short swords from their sheaths as he sprang forward.  Seeing the Drifter’s attention on poor Taro, Pall meant to burry one of his short swords in the man’s hip while he buried the other one in his head.  Instead he saw the Drifter’s wakizashi flying end over end through the air to catch him full on in the chest.  The Drifter sprinted after his throw to catch Pall before he hit the floor, withdraw his wakizashi and claim one of Pall’s shortswords.

The Drifter rose from his crouch to block a blow from Goren Gallo.  Goren always thought it better to fight a man when he seemed to be disarmed.  He had charged right in on the Drifter once he saw him throw his only remaining sword at good old Pall.  Goren was also known for being overweight, and if he had thought for a second, he would have realized he had no chance of catching his prey unarmed before retrieving that thrown sword.  His blow repelled by the shortsword, his entrails spilled from his bulging gut as the Drifter split him wide across his girth. 

Cut Grinner died with his throat split, spraying blood everywhere - including the remaining good eye of “Patch” Pout.  Blind in both eyes, “Patch” missed the blow that lifted his head from his shoulders.  Glide Glast, who was known for always hanging out in high places, died leaping from the top of a crate pile, impaling himself on the Drifter’s upraised swords.  Pale and Frail Pallid, twins, died on eachother’s swords when they attacked from opposite sides of the Drifter only to have him sidestep out of the way.  Everyone always said those two were born with half a brain and that’s why they needed to do everything together.

The Drifter’s whirlwind of death continued, moving steadily toward the rear of the warehouse.  Thugs emptied from every concealed place the stacked crates afforded them.  Lyle Grice tried to shoot the Drifter with a crossbow only to hit Gris Mant in the back when he stepped into his shot.  Gris was always thought to have the worst luck in the gang.  Lyle reloaded only to then shoot “Lucky” Plat in the neck when he was used by the Drifter as a shield.  “Lucky” was considered, well, the luckiest man in the gang.  Lyle had always been the one to tell him his luck would run out some day.  Lyle was stabbed in the neck with his own arrow when he couldn’t reload fast enough after getting no shots through the “Lucky” human shield used by the Drifter.  Mock Marvel died with an arrow between his eyes from Lyle’s crossbow as the Drifter was apparently much better at using it than poor Lyle ever was.

The Drifter had worked his way around the room and finally arrived at his katana still buried in the crate from his earlier encounter with the two lieutenants.   He turned at the sound of footsteps back by the door and flung the shortsword he had been using across the room to bury, hilt deep, in the back of a fleeing thug.  “Mouse” Meek had just joined the gang that morning.  He had started crying and pissed himself while hiding behind a crate the moment the Drifter had entered and killed the first two men.  He thought he had picked the perfect moment to run.

The Drifter reclaimed his katana and turned to face Dolt Dodder.

Impossible!  He is not human…not a man…a devil.  “Stay back monster!  One more step and I kill the girl.  Put the swords down.”

“Monster?”  the Drifter asked as he slowly knelt laying his swords at his sides, hands still on the hilts.  “I have been called many things, but this very instance I am only two things.  I am hope.  Not hope for you, you chose your fate when I first walked in here.  But hope for that child you clutch like a shield. “ 

He met the eyes of the child.  “What is your name?”  Large brown eyes stared back at him.  Shaken, but not lifeless.  “Silene, mister.”  Clear, strong.  Worth every life I have  taken today.  The thug holding her is unwinding.  This needs to end quickly.  “Close your eyes Silene, and do not open them until I say.”  She closed her eyes.

“Don’t you fucking talk to her!   I am in control here, monster.”

“I am not a monster.  Monsters are made up stories to scare children.  I have already told you one of the things I am, but I am something more, something far more real and immediate.  For you, right now…I am certain death.”

The Drifter whipped his wakizashi forward straight as a spear.  It impaled the hand holding the knife, pinning it to the thug’s gut.  Springing forward he thrust his katana into a heart of blackness.  He pressed his face forward locking eyes with the thug as his life left him.   Incomprehension, madness, terror all radiated from the man’s eyes.  He pulled back quickly and swept his sword sideways, barely disturbing the air. 

With her eyes closed, the rest of her senses were acute.  Especially, the horrible stench of the man holding her.  She was almost certain he had urinated by the wetness that pressed up against her back.  She put all that aside though.  The eyes of the man sent to rescue her had spoken truth.  When she opened her eyes this nightmare would be over.  She felt a thud not an inch from her head and a wet splatter on her face.  The knife was no longer at her throat.  A second later she felt more wetness spray from overhead.  Something dropped and fell at her feet. “I hope it’s his head.”  She didn’t know where that thought came from.  It would have seemed horrible a day ago.  It now seemed…right.  A strong hand reached down and took hers, silently leading her forward. 

 “You may open your eyes, Silene,”  the Drifter said as they stepped out into the light and he released her hand.  She did and turned to look back at the massacre wrought to save her life.

“No.”  Her head snapped back around at the man’s voice.  “Don’t ever look back. “  She met his eyes, nodded, and reached back up to take his hand.  A sure grip, a grip that would lead her home.   

Offline Carter

Re: [September 2013] Battles - Submission Thread
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2013, 12:33:42 PM »
Too High a Price

His arm ached.  Every swing of his blade was like battering against a hurricane.  Every parry sent tremors through his shoulder and down his legs.  He stepped forward.  Parry.  Thrust.  Another nameless soldier spilt his blood on the stained, reeking stones. 
 
Beside him, Calenteus smiled as he sent corpses tumbling from the walls.  Menestus struggled to force a grin to his lips. 

It will be over tonight. 

The promise, the curse, echoed around his skull as he dispatched another attacker.  The day’s assault had been sudden and ferocious, warriors throwing themselves against the defenders on the walls.  Time and again they beat them back.  Only now as the sun began its plummet towards the horizon did the attack slacken.  Few Pallenes remained on the wall, now only fighting for their lives.  He and Calenteus stepped forward into the fray.  His own economical efficiency and Calenteus’ mighty swings made the struggle short and brutal.

Finally it was over.  Ladders lay scattered and broken outside the walls, corpses littering the soil, their stench already filling the air.  Beneath his leathers, his tunic was plastered to his back, the sweat sticky and uncomfortable.  His lungs seemed made of iron as he struggled to draw breath.  Beside him Calenteus looked unaffected by the day’s slaughter; relaxed, smiling and eternally optimistic. 

“They won’t want to try that again,” Calenteus said.
 
Menestus did not have the heart to argue.  He did not have the heart to point out the obvious.  The Pallenes had brought myriad soldiers.  Against them the city’s few defenders stood no chance.  They never had and never would.  If the city states of Declea, Atana and Gris had fallen, what hope did little Ilea have?

Only fortune had kept them alive.  Only a reluctance to send the full force against them, to conserve Pallenic lives, had ensured Ilea had lasted more than a day.

It will be over tonight.

“I just wish it were all over now,” he said, veering dangerously close to the truth. 

“You worry too much,” said Calenteus, mistaking the cause of his depression.  “Another few days like this and they’ll be running back to the hills.”

The statement encouraged a ragged chorus of cheers from the defenders around them.  Soldiers dead on their feet, slumped against the stones, injured and bleeding, roused at Calenteus’ words.  Any hope, however slim, nourished them, made them stand, made them ready to fight on.  Fight on and die. 

Menestus knew the truth.  He understood the only end that awaited them.  For all the Ilean Elders’ posturing, for all their proclamations that they should resist to the end, only one fate beckoned. 

It will be over tonight.

The rest of the day passed in dull monotony.  The Pallenes stayed away from the walls, preferring to watch and wait, letting the defenders dare to dream of victory.  Calenteus stayed close even after his stint on the walls ended.  Jokes, abuse thrown at the enemy, slapping backs and encouraging smiles; he tried everything to raise spirits.

Another day, another time and he might have been swayed.  Another day, another time, and he might have joined in.  Not today.  Not now. 

It will be over tonight. 

The knowledge consumed him, a cancer, a parasite sucking everything out of him, leaving behind only a numb husk. 

Ulena.  Think of Ulena. 

Before, it had been enough to expiate the shame, the guilt.  Now, with the time approaching all too quickly, even thoughts of his wife failed to revitalise him.  Even thinking of others who would be saved did nothing. 

Without such justification he was only a traitor. 

The moon hung low and heavy when he finally left the walls.  Every step dragged, his heels refusing to take him home. 

They were waiting outside.  Twelve in total.  Shrouded in shadows they stood silent and still.  His heart sank.  Any lingering vestiges of resistance, of changing his decision, died within him.   

A single figure stepped forward to meet him.  Aristes.  His neighbour.  A kaffee merchant, the aroma clinging to him even now.  The man who had convinced him of the futility of resisting the Pallenes.  To do something that would save lives.  In his customary diaphanous robes, he did not look dressed for the night’s work but Menestus was not fooled.  Aristes was prepared and more than capable. 

“And here he is,” said the merchant, stepping forward, his arms wide to embrace him. 

Menetus shrank from the contact, stiff and cold.  For tonight he had to become a stone.  If he felt anything it would unman him.  If he thought for a moment about what he planned to do then he might break. 

“I want to see her before we start,” he said.

Behind Aristes, one of the other men spat, his disgust evident.  At least he did not utter a word.  A single word and he might just have snapped. 

“Of course, of course,” said Aristes, ever jovial, ever accommodating.  “But you must know, she’s been drugged.”

Even though Aristes had warned him of the necessity, it still shocked him.  Better for her not to know.  Better for her to sleep through the night.  Better for everyone.  Even so he longed to speak to her, to hold her, to convince himself once again he was doing the right thing. 

“Then I’ll be quick,” he said. 

The door squealed open.  Within no candle-flames flickered, the interior dark and silent.  No one moved.  No one stirred. 

His house was not large and it took him moments to walk through the atrium into one of the two bedrooms.  One they shared.  The other lay empty, awaiting a child. 

If you don’t do it, it will wait forever.

The thought gave him the smidgeon of resolution to press on.  Collapsed onto the bed lay Ulena.  Sprawled, dishevelled and comatose, it looked as if she had been thrown there.  If he had not seen her steady breathing, he would have believed her dead. 

“ . . . with it, not waiting for him to . . . ”

He did not recognise the voice.  He did not expect to.  A Pallene?  Another fellow traitor swayed by gold?  It did not matter. 

“A few more minutes will do us no harm,” said Aristes, ever the negotiator, ever the diplomat. 

He wanted to go to Ulena, to hold her, to have her comfort him.  The weight of his decision weighed heavily across his shoulders.  With a deep breath he turned his back and headed outside.

It will be over tonight.

They did not speak.  No one exchanged pleasantries.  Instead he was left with just his thoughts for company. 

Was he doing the right thing?  Was this the only option?  Were the Elders wrong by refusing to surrender to the Pallenes?  Who was he to decide?

Think of Declea.  Think of Atana.  Think of Gris.

All had resisted.  All had been reduced to rubble, the citizenry slain or sold into slavery. 

Think of Eretin, of Thanos, of Stor.

All had surrendered.  All remained intact, only a portion of their citizens killed, only a fraction of their male citizens enslaved.  A better choice.  The only choice. 

For all his rationalisations, for all his attempts to convince himself, the guilt and shame dogged him as they strode the dark streets and darker alleys.  Aristes’ route avoided any patrols, any sign of life, his planning meticulous.  Everything he had come to expect. 

All too soon the Penitent’s Gate came into view.  The smallest and least guarded of Ilea’s gates, it opened only for pilgrims and penitents seeking the absolution of Ilea’s Elders. 

Even settled deep within a stone, Menestus felt the irony. 

“You ready?”

A hushed whisper. 

Never.

Menestus nodded, not trusting his voice. 

He walked into the flickering torchlight while the others dispersed to their own tasks.  Immediately he regretted it.  The figure on guard was too recognisable.  Broad-shouldered, a head taller than anyone else, it could only be one man.  The chance of encountering him had been so slim Menestus had not even considered it, had not wanted to.

A grin lit up Calenteus’ face.  His arm waved, telling the handful of archers on the walls to stand down. 

“Didn’t think to see you here,” said the big man.  “You come to keep me company?”

Menestus forced a smile. 

“I thought you’d just get bored without me.”

To his ear the joke sounded false, the camaraderie strained.  Calenteus showed no sign of noticing. 

Tell him!  Warn him!

Almost.  The words lay heavy in his mouth, desperate to escape.  He swallowed them and almost choked.  Calenteus clapped an arm around his shoulders and started leading him back towards the gate. 

“It’s been so quiet I reckon they’ve given up and gone home.  It’ll all be over in the morning,” he said.

Menestus kept his mind still, his thoughts buried deep as he wrapped his fingers around the hilt of his dagger.  If he dared to think, he would falter.  If he dared to think, Ulena would die, everyone would die.

“I’m sure you’re right,” he said, his mouth dry. 

A scuff of a boot against stone was the only warning.  Calenteus’ forehead creased in a frown as he looked to the walls.  Before the big man could react, before the archer’s body toppled from the wall, before Menestus could think, he brought the knife out. 

Calenteus’ mouth formed a word, his hand going to the hilt of his sword.  Menestus’ knife slashed.  Quick, too quick, blood welled beneath the blade as it traced a lethal path.  The word died with the big man. 

He heard it nonetheless. 

Traitor. 

Ages passed in heartbeats.  Aristes’ men worked fast, killing the few guards atop the walls in deathly silence.  Menestus’ hands were ice as they fumbled for Calenteus’ key.  His body became an automaton, unthinking, uncaring. 

Find key.  Approach gate.  Insert key.  Open gate.  Watch as soldiers pour in.  Crumple to the floor.  Sob with guilt, with shame.

It will be over tonight.

The thought mocked him.  It cascaded through his mind even when Aristes passed him a gold-laden purse.  It continued even when the sun rose.  It harried him when he saw the corpses, saw lines of male slaves led off into the distance.  It haunted every moment he spent with Ulena.

It will be over tonight.

One day it might be true. 

Offline Evazorek

Re: [September 2013] Battles - Submission Thread
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2013, 10:31:07 PM »
Blind Zone

 “Keep the formation tight boys; we don’t know what to expect from these pirates,” Wing Commander Franklin Deckard commanded over the squad comm. channel.

   His squadron of X-87 interceptor’s, ‘The Raptors’, as they were affectionately known in the United Earth Colonies Military, had been deployed to deal with yet another band of pirates. They hit the supply ship as it left Zeta Geminorum, pulling it out of its slip stream using some very advanced, very illegal technology. The captain of the ship had been quick to act and managed to send out a distress signal, and also attach a tracking device to part of his cargo. The pirates had stolen the cargo, killed the crew and scuttled the ship in a vain effort to make it look like a malfunction. The tracker was not found and the pirates were traced to the nearby Theta Atheni System.

The nearest warship for a tactical response had been the U.C.F Terminus Est. A destroyer class vessel, she was a fully outfitted ship of the line, ready to wage war on the Federation’s enemies at any given moment. It’s most deadly weapon, however, was the X-87 squadrons it carried.

“I am picking up nothing on my long range sensors sir; perhaps the asteroid belt is interfering?”
Deckard checked his own sensor display for what must have been the hundredth time since leaving the hangar of the U.C.F Terminus Est.

“I am getting nothing as well, just stay frosty, this could be an ambush,” Deckard replied, making sure to broadcast the conversation to his entire squad. They all needed to have their wits about them. Fighting in and around an asteroid belt was never easy, even for experienced pilot’s like him.

 “Commander Deckard, our instruments are showing no signals within the belt, however, we are picking up a large energy reading on the nearby moon,” Captain Barick’s said over his command frequency.

“It must be their base of operations. It would make sense for it to be all the way out here, reduces the chance of detection by passing patrols,” Deckard responded, knowing the captain had likely reached the same conclusion.

“Agreed; take your squadron through the belt, identify the targets and eliminate all resistance,” The captain ordered clearly and crisply.

“Yes sir.” The comm. went dead once again.

 “Ok gents, we’re going through this belt, adjust flight paths accordingly but be prepared to form back up the second we get through,” Deckard relayed the instructions to his wing men, “And no smart arse flying, we have a job to do and people to avenge. That goes for you as well Sharpey!” The squadron comm. came alive with comradely laughter, but they all knew what was at stake.

“You got it sir, I’ll save the smart ass flying for beating your pilot score on the simulator when I get back,” retorted Cole Sharpey in an amused tone.

   Although flying through an Asteroid belt was always dangerous, the X-87 was perfectly suited to the role. The fighter packed an impressive arsenal and a range of electronic gadgets that would make any gear head quiver with delight. With dual layer kinetic shielding, quad ionic engines and a nose mounted Mac assault canon; the X-87 was a deadly opponent. In the hands of a skilled pilot it was as dangerous as a full squadron of any lesser fighter craft.

“All eyes report in. What do you see out there pilots?” Deckard queried his wing men.

“Nothing here sir,” Replied Sharpey quickly.

“That’s negative contact here Commander,” Rhyne uttered over the comm. in his usual baritone voice.

All six pilots responded to their commanders’ request with trained precision. Only pilots who showed exceptional skill and cunning were invited to join The Raptors. They were the best the Terminus Est. had to offer.

The squadron made good pace through the asteroid belt. Going slow and methodically, the nimble fighter craft were able to gracefully dodge and weave between the floating masses of rock that made up the asteroid belt. They were half way through the belt when the first sensors started to chime furiously.

“Contacts detected; three, no seven, no fifteen!” The voice of Sharpey came screaming over the comm. as the realisation dawned on all of them at precisely the same moment.

“It’s a trap,” Deckard muttered to himself. His sensor was now beeping incessantly, the display filling up quickly with red target markers.

“Redirect power to your engines and shields. Don’t try to fight them in the belt, get your asses to the other side and we’ll engage them there,” Deckard commanded with a sense of urgency.

“Where did they come from? Why did we not see them?” The frantic voice of McKinley, the squadron’s newest member, came through the comm.

Deckard already knew the answer and cursed himself for not realising the potential ambush sooner, “They were parked on the asteroids powered down so they were blind to our sensors,” Deckard replied in a reassuring tone. They must have found the trackers after all, Deckard thought to himself as he adjusted his power outage to increase his speed and defences. Trying to outrun and out manoeuvre their opponents was risky, but Deckard saw no other choice in the matter. The numbers were too great to engage here.

The swarm of pirate fighters appeared from across the surface of dozens of the large asteroids in the belt. Within moments they were pursuing the fighter squadron, weapons blazing away. Canon fire ripped through the belt, tearing at asteroids and impacting off shielding. The concentration of fire was immense. Entire asteroids were blasted to pieces, the resulting detonations sending shockwaves and debris through the rest of the belt.

“We need to break away from this kill zone, split up and switch to evasive manoeuvres. Let’s try to lose a few of them on the way out,” Deckard relayed to his squad. His pilots were good, but flying at high speed through an asteroid belt with a tail was not exactly covered in the military training BFM classes.

As the squadron began to split up, their pursuers followed the same pattern, breaking off into groups of two or three. The pirates’ older craft had no trouble keeping up with the X-87’s but they were no match when it came to skirting asteroids at high speed.

Deckard flew his fighter down towards the nearest large asteroid. He drove the craft into a steep dive towards the asteroids surface. Projectiles began to rain down around him, impacting with his rear shields, and the ever approaching asteroid surface. At the last moment, Deckard pulled up hard on the flight stick and slammed his forward thrusters on to help quickly pull the craft out of its dive. The move took his pursuers by surprise. The pirates slammed their craft straight into the surface of the asteroid in a fiery ball of expelled oxygen and fuel.
Over the comm. he listened to the calls of his squadron in similar cat and mouse engagements. Most of his squad had managed to fly circles round the pilots, resulting in several pirates colliding with parts of their chosen ambush location. One pilot was not having as much success.

“I still have two hostiles on my tail, I can’t shake them,” McKinley’s panicked voice came over Deckard’s comm.
The pirates were keeping up with the rookie member of the squadron, all the while laying down a constant blanket of fire on the X-87’s rear shielding. Deckard could tell the pilot didn’t have long until his rear shield would collapse under the onslaught. He decided to act.

“McKinley, keep heading for the belt exit, I’ll deal with your tail,” Deckard shouted in reply as he slipped his craft round in the direction of his squad mate.

He readjusted his ships power output and brought his Mac canon back up to full charge. The gun hummed with deadly purpose below the cockpit. With the weapon systems online, Deckard decided to draw power from his shields and push it to the engines. He needed to get in range of McKinley’s attackers soon or the rookie might not make it. None of his squad was dying today.

The X-87 blasted across the asteroid belt like a bright blue star of retribution. Deckard had double backed on himself and was heading across the belt, bringing many of the enemy craft into his sights as he headed towards the far right of the formation.

“Rhyne, push up and bring your tail higher. I am going to pass your way in a few seconds,” Deckard said as he brought down the targeting relay and green lit his weapon systems for live fire.

Within a few seconds of issuing his request, he saw a familiar X-87 begin streaking its way towards the top of the belt with its rear shields flaring every few moments. Behind the ship came two pirate craft, both were firing their twin canons at Rhyne.

It took Deckard but a moment to realign his ship and bare down on the first pursuer. The target reticule lit a positive green colour and the veteran pilot pressed lightly on his trigger. The X-87’s Mac canon roared to life, firing a seemingly endless stream of magnetically accelerated shells towards the pirate vessels.

In a few short moments, the two pirate ships were torn to pieces. Nothing but molten slag remained of the two pursuing craft as the X-87 shot past them and headed for more prey.

“Nice shootin’ boss,” Rhyne uttered over the comm. gratefully.

“Don’t mention it, get out of this belt with the others and prepare to mop this rabble up,” replied Deckard.
He had almost reached McKinley and now had the craft and its pursuers in visual range. The chase continued, with the young pilot trying all sorts of moves to try and obscure the pirates’ line of sight to the rear of his craft.
Kid is pretty smart after all, Deckard thought to himself with a smirk as he recalled himself being in a similar situation many years ago.

“McKinley, bring your ship about and fly right at me,” barked Deckard as he began to adjust his ships course moment to moment.

McKinley didn’t reply, but Deckard saw him begin to alter his course. After spiralling round another two asteroids, the two X-87’s were aligned and flying directly towards one another across a relatively open part of the asteroid belt.

Canon fire began to impact Deckard’s front shields which thankfully were holding out even with the lower power levels fuelling them. The two pirate craft came into sight behind the fast approaching X-87.
Deckard began to put his craft into a fast roll. As soon as McKinley’s craft was out of his front arc, Deckard ignited the Mac canon once again. The torrent of fire tore through the first pirate craft, almost cutting it clean in half before the engine ignited and blew the craft out into the cold darkness. Within a few moments of the first pirate’s demise, the second pirate craft came under the same horrific onslaught of accelerated projectiles.
Deckard finished his roll just as McKinley flew through the space where just a brief moment before, his ship had occupied. The two fighters banked hard towards the nearby exit of the asteroid field and regrouped with the rest of the squadron. By the time the two pilots had left the belt, the remaining pirates had already been dealt with by the other Raptors.

“Thanks for the assist Commander,” McKinley uttered through a private comm.

“No worries kid. I saw you trying to lose them, some impressive moves you got there. I am amazed they could keep up,” Deckard replied reassuringly.

“Well I did learn from one of the best.”

“That you did. Now let’s head back to the ship where you can buy that teacher a well earned drink.”
Writing Blog: www.rhodestonowhere.com
Online Portfolio: www.sterhodes.com

Offline turtle078

Re: [September 2013] Battles - Submission Thread
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2013, 06:10:23 AM »
First timer friends so suggestions and criticism welcome.

"Rebel"

Dawn saw Order troops beginning the barrage on the rebel line. The report of ten and twelve pound guns in the distance signaled the start. At first, each discharge was distinct from the other. What few large guns the volunteers and militia possessed began to answer, revealing their positions along the line to the Orders’ waiting scouts. The artillery duel quickly spiraled into a continuous roar on both sides. Gun crews feverishly kept the pace. The practiced order of loading and firing turned into a blur.  Both sides angrily exchanged fire and shot, but the Orders’ attack was relentless.  One by one the rebel batteries were systematically driven off or fell silent. The long claws in the arsenal were gone. The elves could attack with impunity now.

Her half elven ears began to burn. Panic. Baxter could feel it before she hear the rapid percussion of musketry to the north. It has begun, she thought. Her fists tightened around the rifle, the uniform she wore felt constricting. She worked the lever, opening the breach on the Sharps carbine. The shell was still there, just like the last four times she had checked. 

Deep breaths, calm yourself. The nervousness and fear of the surrounding troops was washing over her. Focus, take the fear away from them, give them hope. Her jaw relaxed as she receded from the despair and darkness. The empath began the delicate work to steel her troops to what was coming.

“Major”

Baxter hadn’t realized her eyes were shut as her concentration was broken. Something had growled the word “Major.”She opened to find a half-orc crouching, but fidgeting next to her.

“Ma’am, the light guns are placed as you requested. Two in our center, four at the end of the line on the right, “ barked the dark-skinned soldier. His face and body language was stone, his eyes betrayed him though.

“Good, your crews ready Urak?” Her questioning his preparedness made the larger halfbreed flinch. His eyes narrowed and the storm of fear calmed, slightly. His chest puffed, “if needs be ma’am, they’ll fight with their hands when the ammunition runs out.”

“Get down the line with your crews, load double canister and save that fire in your eyes for the Order.” Baxter half hissed at him. Urak grunted but hurriedly scurried back down the lines, barking at those in his way. An angry half-orc is better than a calm half orc, she smiled as this thought bounced in her head. God help any soldier who wavers in his crew.

Major Baxter scanned down the line of her position. Her volunteers were the extreme right of the rebel line anchoring themselves just below the crest of a hill. Wheat fields up a gentle grade to their direct front, a small grove of trees behind them, the sunken road they had dug in curved sharply, winding down the back of the hill. Rocks and a small ravine made the route around the right flank not completely impassable, but time consuming. No, she thought, if the Order wants to break this army they’ll have to come right through me and mine to do it.

The rattle of muskets picked up to the north. Cannons began their thunder as well.  Her mouth went dry. Damn it. Baxter began moving down the line, willing their fear silent. “Sounds like those bastard pointy ears are giving the parlor soldiers up north hell,” came from within earshot. Nervous laughter came from a few, harsh replies from the sergeants to be quiet and focus followed.

A war horn cut through the tension. “Damn fanatics and their damn tradition,” the words escaping her mouth a little louder than intended. Drummers started their cadences, starting a hulking shadow forwards. Pale faces in black uniforms spread across the fields before them. Golden dragons taunting them from black flags pressed towards them.

No more time for subtle tricks. Her face turned to stone, “They’re coming boys…” she screamed.
All eyes were on the enemy to the front but all ears on her. “Time to show those pointy ears how tough a bunch of bastards and half breeds are! Let’s get to work!”