Chapter Ninety-Five: Broadside

The shoreline was hurtling upon them, the burned track of the cannon a dark scar upon the sand.  The ship was piloting itself, all nonessential crew had gone with Namid, and those who fought were arrayed on the deck, ready for the impact.  Irian was fully armed for combat-a mirror image of his teacher, though his left arm was exposed, not his right.  The wings he had inherited from the Prince were folded behind him, ready for action, and he wore a pair of thin swords thrust through his obi, though nobody knew where they came from.  Hariel was stripped to the waist, his rapidly greening features taking in sunlight to power his body.  His greatsword was slung over his right shoulder, and his hair bloomed white in response to the sunlight.  In contrast, though Thor was clad from tip to toe in mail, its flashing links making a soft tinkle as he stretched his arms.  His mercury-filled aether hammer was in his hands, waiting.

“I think we left Hariel back there.  All I see is this tree.”

The warriors laughed, a joke to try to calm prefight nerves.  Irian, who had been so busy working on the preparations for when they would have to fight again that he hadn’t properly called on Hariel and Elanor, turned to him and asked, “so what did you name your new daughter?  Beautiful as her mother, she is.  Be proud of her, Hariel, she looks nothing like you!”  Once again, the deck roared with laughter. 

“We named her Olwen.”

“Ah, she of the White-Track, then!  Quite a lofty name for a child.  May she grow in power even as her namesake.”

“And may my daughter grow up in a world without this war.”  Hariel turned his churning face to the task at hand.  “We grew up with it.  None of us is unaffected.  I’m tired of nipping at their heels, taking this chunk of land for ourselves and trying to raise a family before they decide they want it too.  I’m tired of seeing our cities destroyed.  I’m sick for all the loved ones we’ve lost.  And I’ve had it.  No more will we give ground.  Today we fight-and so shall we until this is all over.  Today we take back our world.”

As if on cue, the sound of sand under the keel and a jarring vibration ran through the ship.  The ship reversed thrust so as not to throw them from the bow of the ship.  Fighters poured from the ship, appearing many times their size-each of the members of Iscariot carried a generator to make it appear as if there were more of them than were really there.  They were the first ones off the ship, a smokescreen so that all the others could make land.  As each mounted the side, they called to the others “run, run!”  As soon as the last man had scrambled over the side, smoke began to pour from the hull.

“She’s going to buy us some time!  Clear, afore you’re killed by the blast!”

Within moments, a curious fwoomph echoes across the beach, and the ship is obliterated, the sand beneath it fused into glass.  For the men and women who fight today, there is only one option.  Forward.

Forward they go, their blades shining free, their guns firing.  The shock troops of the Harvest, a genetically engineered feline known as the cait sith to those of this time, are mowed down in the hail of fire and the forest of blades.  In an hour, none are left, and the assembled troop begins looking for the ones who dropped the pillar.  Cheers go up from some of the fighters, but the experienced caution them.  They know how these things happen-in an instant, a victory becomes a rout.

And so it does-the Harvest themselves burst from behind walls, topple trees, and tear up cobblestones leaving the places of their hiding.  The first to come out grab two men and swinging them like pillows dash them against each other.  Their severed limbs fly in all directions.  Some are unmanned by this display, and they seek to flee.  Those die first, at the bare hands of the enemy.  The members of Iscariot appear then, their like speed to the aggressors keeping them at a mostly level playing field.  Those struck by their daggers sprout fanciful crystal growths from their bodies, the poison on their blades assuring that the Harvest that fall to them will not rise again.  Even so, they break the ranks of Iscariot, numbers doing what speed cannot.  Blue blood pools everywhere, mixing with the red of the city.  Everywhere it does, it hisses and foams.

As the ranks break on each other like the wake of a boat, the Harvest push to the sea, to drown their foe.  Just as it seems that Iscariot will fall, a tree crosses the battlefield at speed, bowling over many of the aggressors.  Hariel follows it, and where he passes, none can withstand him.  Even the men who came with him shrink from him, and many run screaming, claiming the Green Man has come to end them.  It may as well be for the Harvest-he is a force of nature, each strengthening ray of sunlight giving him more power.  At first he uses his giant sword, but as the fighting gets ever closer, he slings it over his back on favor of his hands and stings.  Even bare-handed, he is more than a match for them.  Just as they make to overwhelm them, a keening cry is heard across the battlefield.  Thor, his hammer held above his head, is already in the air traveling toward him.  He bears down three, his hammer felling one as he falls.  The hammer makes contact with the cold cobbles beneath his enemy.  Each swing is a crushed face, a collapsed chest, a broken back.  He fights as an animal-a wolf of the icy north, come to despoil what he will.

Across the battlefield, a pair cleave a path through the throng, a silent duo that none can touch.  Ouray leads the charge, firing arrow after arrow, each one drawn unerringly to its target.  If he’s ever missed, none would know it now.  Any that stands after his barrage is summarily cut down by the ghost of a figure in white.  No sound does he make as he cuts down everything in his path.  His blades splinter and chip, but the steel holds strong.  Sheer will forces the blunt metal through the bodies of his enemies again and again.  Ouray’s quiver runs dry, and even his gleaned arrows break.  The two men stand back to back, striking down whoever comes near.  Ouray nods at Musashi.  A pillar of light erupts from their position, incinerating their adversaries.  No trace of the two men survives the blast, though.  There’s no way to tell if they survived or not.  But they didn’t get old being slow.

A quick burst of blue beams draws the eye.  From the rear of the battle, James levels a pair of guns at the advancing Harvest.  Blue fire arcs from the barrel, burning the Harvest, leaving friend untouched.  His men clear his path-they know that the aether in their blood is enough to catalyze as well, and they would fall as surely as the Harvest.  A thin figure leaps out of his shadow, a short spear in hand.  Its reach is small, but its blade is wicked sharp.  She defends the gunner, her blade dispatching any who avoid the beams.  James fires and fires again, the jacket he wears burning away at the arms to reveal a new set of arms purpose made for fighting.  After the pillar of light, there is significantly less of the foe, but they’re not defeated.  Not yet.

The Harvest surges forward.  Almost all of the crew that was of this timeline have fallen.  While the beasts were no match, none were prepared for the strength of their masters.  Each one is a nightmare of flesh and steel, their bodies bearing silent testimony to their efforts to win at any cost.  Their faces are grim with determination-they will take this planet from its owners, no matter how many must fall to do it. 

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Published in: on October 20, 2012 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

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