Author Topic: The Freedom War  (Read 268 times)

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guest121

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Re: The Freedom War
« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2018, 12:03:51 pm »
Henry stared daggers into Xander, as if to skewer him. ”Are you kidding me?  Fine! Stay with the ragging ****!” Henry began walking up the earthen embankment of the ridge, his feet sinking into the loose topsoil.

”Com’mon laddie, at least ye have more sense than the dumbarse sootie. Let’s go sit in the van, eh?” Atvulf spoke to Xander, as he stood up, and began to walk backwards to the relative safety of the tree line. As Xander stood up, carefully brushing a loose, dry leaf from his shoulder, Tsubaki followed suit with him, looking wildly between the two opposing men, uncertain, her eyes wide open, a light tremble shaking through her body. 

A slight, continuous rumble vibrated the air, erupting from center of the depression, growing exponentially. All turned to look onwards.

The transport was leaving. Rapidly.

”Dumb idiots,” Atvulf mumbled to himself, before raising his voice, It’s f*cking leaving, you’re too late! Just get back here!”

A pause.

A still moment.

Quiet. Too quiet. As if the wind had stopped. No, not just the wind. Sound, any movement, everything paused for a moment.

No.

Not everything.

A metal machine, no, a behemoth, had appeared suddenly, as if formed from light itself in an instant by some otherworldly god. Towering, not quite over the mountains beyond, but far above the slowly rising dinky transport as it attempted to ascend to the heavens above, it raised its enormous hand skyward, pointing to some far off distant star. Word caught deep inside Xanders throat, a scream, a cry, deadened. And then the massive, metallic hand fell back, downwards towards the terrain.

Another moment passed, nothing changing, frozen. As if the world had nothing better but to savor the moment. 

A gust of wind, no, a shockwave of pure invisible energy, erupted at Xander and the others from a skyward point. Trees buckled, stripped of leaves, grasses strained to not be uprooted. Xander was knocked off his feet as if gravity held no sway upon him, tumbling backward, landing painfully into the ground, agony erupting through his body. Tsubaki fell back into him, a high pitched yelp forced from her lungs. Through the corner of his eye, he watched as a somewhat distant figure disappeared under a massive sheet of metal hull, a fine red mist sprinkling outward, painting the dull white lettering of some word on the debris a crimson red. Grabbing the fallen Tsubaki above him with one arm, Xander threw himself violently sideward, another piece of loose metal debris occupying the location where they had been milliseconds prior. Xander’s version dimmed for a moment, as soil, stone, and unidentifiable material assaulted his face. Something rough scraped him above his eye, a searing fluid left in its wake.

Xander rose to his feet pulling Tsubaki upwards with him, unsteadily, a buzzing in his head louder than a thousand irate hornets bellowing into his ears and into his soul. He looked around, the dizziness invading him hindering his observations.

”COME ON! BACK TO THE VAN! NOW!” Someone shouted mutedly behind him. Atvulf, pehaps.

”BUT THE PEOPLE… SURVIVORS!” This, ahead of Xander. Henry?

”THERE’S NO TIME!”

”DAVID?!”

”HE’S DEAD, SOOTIE. DO YOU WANT TO F*CKING JOIN HIM YOU GOD DAMN IDIOT?!”

Xander limped backwards-his leg felt a bit warm, numb-, Tsubaki helping to hold him up. The pair reached the van quickly, Tsubaki helping to lift him into the passenger’s seat. The opposing door opened, and then closed with a distant click. A rumbling, the engine lit, and Xander felt the vehicle move, turning, and quickly gaining speed, to where, he could not discern.

”Oh f*ck, you think?”

”Think what?”

”Ye think the bastard saw us?”

A pause.

”I don’t see anything in the mirror.”

”F*ck. That good.”

”Oh no, Xander! You’re bleeding! Stay awake man! “ Someone shook Xander by the shoulder. ”Atvulf, get the med kit in the back! It’s under the drivers seat!”

”Dude, da f*ck do I know about fixing head wounds! I can stick a bandage on him, thats about it.”

”I took a few courses at the academy. I think I can repair it when we’ve gotten enough distance from...  from that thing. Xander, stay awake, come on!”

A coldness spread across Xander however, beckoning to him, like a warm home on a cool winter’s night. Quiet. Still. Xander closed his eyes, the blackness consuming him.

F*ck.

End of Chapter 1

guest121

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Re: The Freedom War
« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2018, 12:04:49 pm »
Chapter 2: For Those Without Hope Wander Aimlessly

A sound. A loud one. Engines?

Xander awoke wearily from his unintentional slumber, a throbbing pain upon his brow. Groggily, he touched his forehead, a dry, rough cloth wrapped tightly around his skull. A reminder, an unkind reminder.

”Aye, looks like Prince Charming is ‘wake.” A man grouchily grumbled from beside him.

”Xander? You back with us? Brilliant, you were really out of it. You took a rock to the head, but luckily it was just a glancing blow. I think. I wish I could tell you more and that I was better at first aid, but-“

”Sh*t, he don’t need no full rundown. He got hit, he’s going to be fine. Nutin’ more to it.”

Xander dragged himself upwards with one hand, pain erupting through him. He had been lain atop one of the padded benches in the back of the armored van, surrounded by the various other survivors. Most payed him no heed, except for the odd glance, and mumbled amongst themselves.

”Now you there, dips*hit, ya got just one oar in the water. I told you to cool your jets, but nah, you gots to be just charging right up in there like King-“

”Look, I know I screwed up. You don’t need to keep reminding me. You don’t think this is eating me up?!”

Atvulf looked down towards his legs, before continuing. ”Nah, I don’t mean it like. Sh*t’s goin’ to happen, but you still gots to be smart about it. This ain’t no easy parade like you high cotton folks got it up in the city. This the real world, and you best be ready for peep’s trying to kill you.”

The front half of the armored van grew silent, as if a smog cloud of depression smothered all sound amongst them, excepting an odd cough here and there. Henry’s voice rose again, breaking through the oppressive mood.

”We’re still going to the evacuation point. We’ll find help there.”

”Uh-huh.”

”Things are still going to turn out alright.”

”Well we best poop or get off the pot I suppose…”

-------------------------------------------------

The mud here was thick, slimy, of the same consistency of excrement as some pointed out as they passed. It pasted and painted the exterior of their vehicle as if some modern art piece had been commissioned upon it. A light drizzle had begun to fall, as the windshield whippers moved back and forth across the front of the vehicle to clear the mist as it fell, obscuring the road ahead for the occupants. The darkening sky shortened their vision, but every so often they would spot and abandoned car as they passed by, many still filled with precious belongings that had been saved from the encroaching invaders. As they passed a newer model van, its chrome finish still shining as if it had just been rolled of the factory line, Henry began to speak.

”Do you all think that these people made it to the evacuation site alright? There’s just been quite a few…”

”Sh*t, like we should know. Or give a f*ck. Ain’t our problem, ain’t it?” Mikey had since moved up to the front of the van and joined them. In the passenger’s seat ,Tsubaki looked noticeably more uncomfortable, averting her eyes from looking at them.

”These were-are still people. I just worry, you know?”

”Maybe we should go raid them cars then? Ain’t no reason not to.” Atvulf turned back from watching out a nearby window to speak to the others.

”We can’t do that!”

”Why can’t we?”

”Because… because it’s still a crime! I’m an officer of the law. I would need to arrest you.”

”Sh*t, ye think that shiny little nugget mean much now? This is the goddamn apocalypse you dumb sootie. It’s kill or be killed and all that sh*t, and we need supplies. If I had my druthers, we’d raid each and every one of these cars.”

”They’ll have rations at the evacuation point. The federal government mandated that DERA camps should have enough rations set aside for at least a year, if not more. We just need to get there.”

”Sh*t, if they gots the resources, we should grab some and just hightail it out of there. They’re goin’ press us into service or some sh*t.” Mikey spoke up once more.

This time, Atvulf berated his cousin, slapping him upside the head. ”Gol durn it, Mikey, they gots the guns you idiot. You think we gonna just waltz in there and rob the military? We’d get are arses shoot right of our backsides!  Geez man, I knew you was stupid, but come on, put some thought power into it.”

Henry, for his part, just exhaled violently.

”Fork in the road coming up.” Henry pointed ahead of the vehicle with one hand.

Indeed, the road did fork. One road, the road in which they currently drove on, continued further into the deep wooded growth that they had been driving on since leaving that picturesque little farm. The other slipped quietly into the hills before disappearing into the deep mountains beyond. The junction however, was not unoccupied. A single police squad car, a soft brown in color-not rusted, but not a clean white either, sad idle to one side of the divide, two uniformed men watching them approach. As they entered the clearing, Henry slowed the van.

”Xander, Atvulf, get out to, okay?” Henry spoke softly ”Don’t know what these guys want, but they’ll probably have some information you both should hear.” He exited the vehicle, and the other men followed shortly after.

Xander’s boots squelched nosily in the mud. Ruined, more than they had already been. Undoubtedly a loss at this point. He made his way around the van to stand beside Henry.

The two uniformed men, clearly local law enforcement of some kind what with their tan uniform with a plethora of pockets, high, black polished riding boots, and wide rimmed hat adorned with gold tassels of some kind, had begun to walk towards them, meeting Xander’s party halfway.

Hey there, yall. Where you be heading?” the taller of the two men inquired, the drizzle continuing to saturate them all as they spoke.

Henry spoke up, staring directly at them. ”Survivors,.. er, refugees. We made it out of Saruleah Bay City before those invaders tore up the city. There’s an evacuation zone that we were directed to make it to up in the mountians,-“

”Yup, Lattimer Valley. Just up the right pass.” the shorter of the two spoke.

”Lattimer Valley, right. Thanks.”
”How many you gots in there?” the taller one continued, nodding towards the vehicle.

”Just a few other, couple injured, nothing serious.”

”All civies right? No military shucks ducking out from service?”

”No?”

”Alright then.”

”Why does it matter?”

”Military folks need to make their way to Aienclad Aviation Base, just up the road. All civies need goin’ to Lattimer Valley, as instructed. We’ve had a few who wanted to hide in with the civies.”

Atvulf spoke for the first time. ”Aienclad? Sounds a hella of a lot safer than some sorry arse valley? Why can’t we go there?”

”Military personal only. No exception.”

”But-“

”Atvulf.” Henry glared at him, his message evident. ”Well, thanks for the help then officers. Appreciate it.” Henry nodded to them, preparing to leave, until the shorter one barked at them.

”Oh, you lot can’t leave just yet. You gots to pay the toll.”

”Toll?”

”Hey, this ain’t no picnic, ya here? Mind lending us some supplies?” the taller of two continued. ”I see a pretty, young face yonder, little company tonight would-“

”She’s not … No.”

”Aww, hell Dwight, I was looking forward to some fun for me tonight,” The taller spoke to the other. Turning back to Henry, he continued ”you sure? Last I heard there was ration shortages up at the camp. Pretty girls and food are worth their weight in gold. I can give you some from my stockpile-“

”No. Not an option.”

”Well, anything else you got?”

Henry turned to Xander and Atvulf. ”Well, we got the six pack from the farmhouse…”

The shorter of the officers ahead of them perked up. ”Beer? That’d do it. Tonight might not be a loss after all Hoffman!”

Atuvlf shouted as a solitary, thick drop of rain water rolled down his brow, visibly angry ”Are you f*cking kidding me? We needs all that sh*t, ain’t no way we partin’ with any of it! You ain’t got no right!”

The taller of the two reached backwards, and put his hand upon the thick black handle of some device upon his belt. ”You sure bout’ that?”

”Atvulf, please…” Henry worriedly looked towards the agitated hulk.

Choice 5 (Strength: Mild)

A: Supplies are ours, and this toll is unfair. This is just robbery in disguise. We’re not handing over any of our supplies.

B: Better to let them have the supplies than cause more conflict. We can afford to part with some goods. Things will end up better this way.

guest121

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Re: The Freedom War
« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2018, 12:05:16 pm »
Xander looks at the men and then back at their supplies. He realizes that he could just give up a few of the sweet beers, and they could have the rest. With that, he reaches back, grabs two beers, and hands them to the officers saying "Enjoy your drinks"

guest121

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Re: The Freedom War
« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2018, 12:05:45 pm »
”Oye, I think you saps can do better than that,” replied the shorter of the two, roughly shoving aside Xander and pushing his way to the back of the van, grabbing the remaining beverages. ”Sh*t’s gonna needs to last us a few days, amright?”

A growl sounded from deep inside Atvulf’s chest, as he raised a fist to smash the taller of the two men across the jaw, only to be abruptly cut off as his would-be victim slammed the butt end of his pistol deep into Atvulf’s gut. He doubled over, hot air and pain violently expelled from his chest.

”Learn some fo*cking manner, you hillbilly sh*t!” the officer shouted down at Atvulf, as he raised his weapon to smash him again, this time across Atvulf’s thick skull.

”STOP! Listen, sorry Officer, we’ll be leaving now, I’m sorry,” Henry shouted, ”won’t happen again.”

The taller officer sneered at Henry, shifting his eyes from the double-over Atvulf to the beverages tightly grasped in his compatriots hands. ”Git out, and get a f*cking muzzle on your attack dog.” He snorted, before absconding with his partner back to their vehicle. Henry followed likewise, helping Atvulf back into the van, and returning to the driver’s seat, pausing only for Xander to reenter as well, before speeding off down the rough dirt path towards the mountains.

Silence dulled the atmosphere of the interior, only to be broken by Henry after the party had put several minutes between themselves and the intersection guarded by the extortionists. ”What were you thinking?! We could have left peacefully, but no, you had to go and do your macho man thing to the officer with a loaded gun!” he shouted angrily, ” YOU ABSOLUTE…. ABSOLUTE…. ARGHHH!!!”

A moment passed, Atvulf gingerly massaging his scalp, a light welt already clearly evident atop his skull. He looked down, as if examining his extremities, before his eyes hardened to their typical laser gaze. ”ME?! WHAT THE F*CKIN’ ELL’ WERE YOU THINKING?! YOU JUST F*CKIN’ GIVE AWAY OUR SH*T YOU SON OF A MOTHERLESS GOAT!” he roared. He turned abruptly to gaze at Xander, his blazing eyes piercing through the hapless passenger. ”AND YOU! GOING ALONG WITH THIS SH*T FOR BRAINS SOOTY?! HAVE YOU NOT GODDAMN BACKBONE?!”

”DON’T YOU YELL AT HIM, THIS IS ALL YOU, THIS YOUR FAULT, THE BLAME LIES WITH-“ Henry may have continued, if Tsubaki had not appeared between them, pointing forward and upwards towards the road ahead.

”Tsubaki, now is not the best-what is-….. oh.” Henry murmured.

Their eyes all turned forward, following her tremoring finger to the road ahead, alighting upon the graveyard of abandoned and decaying vehicles that dotted the road and fields up the steep cliffs along the mountain ridge, a sea of dead and rusting monsters never again to perform their purpose. Some of the closer ones looked relatively fresh, only peppered with a light dust from a dirty gale though carcasses nonetheless, but others remained in more advanced states of decay, scavenged for parts such that their various fragments had been strew around their frame, or torched into a nearly unrecognizable slag in some primeval frenzy.

”Oh, sh*t, f*ck me, this ain’t our cup of tea, ain’t it Atvulf? Let bugger out of here, swift.” Mikey called from behind Xander, a light tone of panic underpinning his voice.

”I… I… we need to keep going,” Henry replied, twisting in his drivers chair to look directly at everyone in turn, ”I’m sure they just need extra supplies, once we get there it’s going to be alright.”

”But.., them roads impassable,” Atvulf replied, ”No way in hell we gettin’ this van up them roads, not unless you’ve got sum rocket boosters you’ve told no one about…”

”THEN WE WALK!,” Henry shouted, sweat upon his brow like a miniature volcanic waterfall, ”Everyone, pick some of the gear up. If you can’t or you’re injured, get someone to take your load. We’ll get there before nightfall, I’m sure of it. We’ve got this people!” And with the spring of a rabbit pricked with a thimble, Henry leapt out of the van and onto the dusty, dirt road, pack in tow, and started up the road at a brisk pace none amongst them could hope to match.

Atvulf shrugged at Mikey. ”What they say? When in Arcadia?”

-------------------------------------------

The hot afternoon sun beat down upon Xander, as if some immortal being held a magnifying glass above his neck in an attempt to snuff out his existence. Sweat stained his crevices, a never ending flood of salty lubricant on this torturous climb. With each step up the steep road, Xander could feel the large rocks and pebbles through the soles of his boots more and more, the rough terrain etched in pain to his throbbing feet.

Atvulf had only just managed to keep up with Xander, with both men nearly side by side, though Xander suspected Atvulf fell slightly behind him with each passing step. He to, like Xander, lay in nearly identical condition, though the grimace upon his face was more pronounced. Henry, however, whilst etched in the same configuration, somehow remained a dozen paces ahead, never faltering. Atvulf called up to him.

”Hey sooty, you friggin’ moron, we can’t keep this pace! Can’t you frackin’ see? We need a break! Turn your f*ckin’ head around!”

Henry turned back toward them, though continuing his brisk pace. ”Nonsense, we can do it, it’s only a few more miles-….”

Xander turned back to, observing the remained of their party as they straggled behind in a loose, disorderly configuration, a gaggle of intoxicated wanders on some unknown path after a night of heavy drinking.

Henry sighted deeply, ”Okay, we can rest for a couple of minutes I suppose… but we need to make it to the camp by nightfall. Only a few minutes.”

Atvulf collapsed where he stood, panting as he lay comatose, unintentionally examining the burning sun in painful detail. One by one, the survivors crawled up to them, each collapsing in turn. Tsubaki nearly took the same tumble to the roughly hewn road, but Xander caught her, and let her down gently. She nodded back gratefully.

Atvulf turned his head towards Henry, small particulates of dust, dirt, and gravel clinging to his coarse hair. ”Look ‘ere, why don’t we loot dem vehicles on the way up? We’d get sum supplies, easy, and peeps gonna get some rest to.”

Henry didn’t bother looking at Atvulf as he replied. ”Don’t worry about it, there’s going to be supplies at the camp. We aren’t going to need to scavenge as long as we make it there. Everything is going to be alright.”

”Ye’ sure them camps only a little ways away? We’ve been at this for bout’ 6 hours” Mikey called wearily from where he lay.

Henry remained standing, staring outward, carefully observing the distant landscape, picturesque snowy mountains, lush, grass-laden hills, and dense pine forests. It would all be so tranquil, if not for the pervasive reminder of the coming storm that had become ever so embedded in the back of all their minds.

 ”Yes, it’s only a little further,” he replied, before mumbling to himself, ”It’s going to be alright. Everything is going to be alright”

He suddenly turned back to the incapacitated survivors, pointing upwards along the road. ”Onwards!”

------------------

Some several hours later, and Xander could no longer feel his feet, the pain and ache that had permeated them long since migrated to a sharp agony upon his shoulders, as if he carried four times the load that he had begun this hike with. His throat was dry, parched and caked with a fine dust that guaranteed respiratory problems for all those who inhaled this infernal toxin. But, the camp base was near; having passed some empty guard posts several paces back. Someone among them had asked where the guards were, but for all Xander understood it might as well have been an auditory hallucination. Just over that slight ridge-
 
Henry collapsed. He had continued his mighty pace since their last break, and was several lengths ahead of the rest of them and had already crested the light ridge. He remained unmoving, grounded to the rocky path, driven to his knees, sharp stones driven painfully into his flesh, though such suffering seemed lost upon the frozen officer.

The rest of them sped up to assess the evolving  situation. ”HENRY?,” Xander inquired loudly, though the voice that he produced was not his own, or at least not familiar to him, ”WHAT’S GOING-…. on….. “

They had all crested the ridge, and were now alongside Henry, standing frozen like, as if paralyzed down to their eternal soul by some invisible, infernal source. At least more than one among them exhaled loudly, violently sucker punched by the atrocity that now scarred their vison.

A pungent, filly smell wafted through the thick, sweltering air, the scent of burning Hiroi flesh and metal. Smoke burned and clogged their lungs, forcing a cough from each of them as easily as one could inhale. The massive DERA refugee camp, perhaps once a neat grid of survivor chaos, was no more. Scarred and scattered debris coated the rocky terrain, such that no single obvious path between the piles of burning wreckage remained, as if some entropic being had taken care to ensure not even the luckiest of survivors could escape this impromptu, lethal tomb. Odd bits of metal, tall rods from long seared tents, the ribs of shredded vehicles, and spines of unrecognizable steel stood out amongst the rubble, tall barbs ready to impale those who dared traverse the carnage in the valley. That which could still be recognized as once constructed rubbish all lay blemished, burned with infernos or punctured with numerous, petite holes. The loosest of debris, unrecognizable sheet of paper of untold number, occasionally flew through the air, carried aloft by the thermals of the burning cinders, but motion beyond remained nonexistent, or at least hidden from their vantage. Exempting the odd bloody limb or bleeding, amputated torso, though through squinted eyes Xander swore he could see a decapitated head on a spike some ways off, whole bodies were nowhere to be seen. But what unsettled them all the most, though the carnage should have been enough to force even the most stalwart of men to the ground, upheaving their earlier meals, was the shear lack of noise. Barring the flutter of the loosest of debris, and the light howl of harsh, mountain wind as it traveled down the valley from the snowy peaks, no cries for help, no screams of agony, not even the faintest moan permeated the air. All was effectively quite.

”I…. I… no… no… NO!,” Henry stammered between each staggered breath, ”It wasn’t supposed to be like this….. I,…. I,…. I’ve f-“

Henry likely would have collapsed further, had Tsubaki no placed her hand upon his shoulder. He looked up, their eye’s meeting. Henry stood up abruptly, brushing the gravel from his uniform, where it had clung after his kneeling.

”You’re right. Everyone, we’re searching the camp for survivors and supplies. Anything useful, water, food, bring it back here and pile it up. I don’t expect we’ll find any hostiles, but nonetheless, stay in groups of at least three to four. If you have an issue, shout and I’ll come over. Got it?” Henry commanded the group. A few loose nods, though the muting effect of the carnage ahead still held the survivors in its throes.

”We’ve got about three hours until the sun sets, let’s get this going then.”

--------------------------------------------------

Henry, Mikey, Atvulf, and Xander had grouped up, Atvulf and Mikey leading the charge, clearing the debris to forge a path, while Henry and Xander foraged. The cinders, while dying, were still blistering enough to give them all an unwanted tan, though it was hard to recognize any such blemish through the grime and soot that coated their exposed skin. Henry grabbed a disposable water bottle, half empty, and whipped his forehead with his arm before depositing the find into his uniform’s pockets.

”I don’t understand,” Henry started, the sting of poisonous smoke welling tears in his eyes, ”How could this have happened? Why did it happen?”

A moment passed, before Atvulf replied, ”I told ye, dem metal heads are able to hear all our sh*t. Ain’t nothing we can hide, tech’ all compromised and such. They gonna keep hitting us hard and fast, and sh*t like this ain’t just gonna be isolated here.”

Henry paused from his scavenging to look at Atvulf, ”You don’t think…”

”If we compromised to all hell, all dem evac camps gonna be blown to heck, just like this one.”

”DERA camps are designed to have a maximum capacity of about a million people, and there 7 designated camps along the coast here,” Henry turned to Xander, ”There was a cool documentary about federal disaster relief infrastructure I watched with my family a couple of months ago. Dad said we should have watched the documentary on our intercontinental communication infrastructure, but-.“ Henry sighed deeply, accidently choking on a cough as he inhaled.

”Oh, yea, part of that twelve part series about hidden infrastructure, right?” Atvulf replied.

Henry looked puzzled. ”Yeah,… uh,.. you watched that documentary series to?”

Atvulf turned away, deflecting. ”Nah,… er,… just saw some advert about that sh*t. Man, these morons though this sh*t was what they needed?” He held up a portable television, screen tarnished with spider web cracks. ”If all dem other sods be bringing this kind of sh*t, then they nuttier than a squirrel turd.”

Mikey guffawed loudly. ”Hell no dawg, they bringing only the best essentials!” he cried, holding a burned smutty magazine at arm’s length. Though the magazine as a whole was thoroughly burned, Xander could still make out the **** outline of a woman posed suggestively.

”Sh*t man, dat there the finessed sh*t! See if you can find us any more, eh!” Atvulf cried right alongside him.

Henry sighed, ”Leave it, we’re only taking what we need and what we can carry. Besides, all this was someone’s stuff. Show some respect, alright?”

Mikey shrugged, but out of the corner of his eye, Xander watched him stuff the magazine into his pocket as Henry turned his back away from them. Mikey and Atvulf fist bumped, and continued to search for more salacious material.

Henry stood up, stretching, before looking at the rest of them. ”This is going nowhere, and we need more. Look, er, Atvulf and Xander, try and make your way right a bit. I think that’s a road there, right? Mikey and I will go left, towards those cars? Trucks? Whatever. We’ve got about an hour before we’ve got to start heading back, okay?” Mikey and Henry peeled off, heading left, soon hidden, consumed by the mounds of debris. 

Atvulf shrugged. ”Just ye and me, buddy, eh?”

Xander followed him right, carefully navigating the debris so as to avoid the densest piles of refuse. If one were to have watched them from above, Xander surmised they might have looked like roaming, headless chickens. The two didn’t speak for some time, until Atvulf broke the silence.

”You think that sooty bloke is alright? White man to white man” he started.

Atvulf shrugged nonchalantly, ”I ain’t never trusted a sooty. Pa never would have let that sh*t fly. But that idiot got his heart in the right place, I suppose. Though dumber than a sack of nails. No spine or sh*t.  Might get us killed, might not. Anyway, he gots himself a promotion to our defacto leader, I suppose. No changing that sh*t. “

He turned to Xander. ”But’s you got to get a spine in you, boy. Like a good white fella. Stick up for yourself. Sooty might be our leader now, but if he’s gonna get us killed, you needs to put a stop to it. Two to the eyes or something.” He laughed, mutely.

”But say, you said you’s from the navy and sh*t, right? Sailing our space ships eh? Hows that all—“

A moan broke the conversation, emerging from somewhere behind the mounds of smoldering rubble. Atvulf put a finger to his lips, and pointed to the left of the pair, before moving off in the direction he pointed. Xander followed closely behind.

Behind a mound of rubble, a wrecked helicopter lay, cleaved in two as if some massive blade had sliced through it like butter. This was not some military vehicle no, painted white with blue stripes, a black “Channel 9” was emblazed on the grimy side. The front end was royally smashed, glass shards littering the already choked ground, but the rear looked in slightly better condition. Atvulf pointed to a row of seats in the back.

”There”

The pair hopped into the downed helicopter, careful to avoid the jagged edges of shredded metal between the two halves. Strapped into one of the rear seats, a woman remained strapped into one of the padded rear seats, dangling helplessly like a lifeless doll.

”’s alright miss, we can get you out of there in a giff. Xander, help me.” Atvulf called.  The pair unhooked the unmoving woman’s harness from around her, and gingerly lowered her to the metal floor.

She was a well-groomed, attractive woman, her dirt blond hair well cut to be exactly shoulders length. Xander could tell her makeup had been applied expertly, though much of it was now smeared. Her nails were cut to the perfect length, and each lacquered in a smooth blue polish. Her green suit, now crinkled and torn, was clearly expensive, woven finely such that not a single loose thread could be spotted. But through her chest, a few centimeters beneath her breasts, a jagged rod of sharp metal stuck out at an odd angle.

”Miss, can you hear me? Can ye’ tell me ye’ name?” Atvulf spoke softly to her.

”…G….Grace… Grace... Evans” she moaned softly.

”’Right Grace, every thin’ gonna be okay,” Atvulf shook his head widely at Xander, ”Sh*t dude, it’s gone through her lung. She’s got a f*ckin’ deflated lung. And-” He looked back at the woman who lay before them, laying a finger across her neck. ”Oh, good, she’s passed out again. She won’t hear this.” He turned back to Xander, ”It’s right up against her heart. If we move the metal sh*t, we could shred her heart. Only thin’ that’s keeping her from bleeding out is that sh*t.”

Atvulf looked panicked, eyes fully widened. ”I,… I ain’t able to do this sh*t. Imma go get Henry. You keep her company, ‘right?” He took off and quickly disappeared amongst the debris.   

Xander looked at the woman’s shut eyes. If he had not known about the metal objected, protruding from her chest, he could have assumed she was sleeping, peacefully so, dreaming of far off wonderlands, sunny, windy grasslands, each blade of grass independently swinging in the breeze, and the light dew of nights passed clinging to the tip of each blade, jeweled ornaments born of nature’s beauty. If only escape were all so easy.

He grasped her hand with his, ignoring their mixing sweat, just one moment, one mere moment of tenderness. Her hand unconsciously tightened around his, though Xander imagined her lips curled upward with each passing moment.

”Back” Atvulf breathed, gasping for air, red in the face.

”They’re on their way here. But…” Atvulf turned away.

”Sh*t dude, we can’t move her. We don’t have the tools to remove that… that thing from her chest. At least safely. Maybe if this wasn’t the goddamn apocalypse,….”

Atvulf looked Xander, their eyes meeting. ”She won’t last the night. I,… I,…” He held out Henry’s service pistol, a black foreboding tool of death. ”I grabbed it from him. She’s got a quicker option.” He pressed the pistol into Xander’s hands. ”I,…. I can’t. It’s your choice now.”

He looked away, staring at the debris. "I'll try and find something useful. I'll be right back." He turned and ran back into the debris.
Choice 6 (Strength: Mild)

A: End Gwen’s suffering. She’ll be in pain for the next several hours until she dies. A painful, certain  death no one wants.

B: Leave the metal shard in Gwen’s chest. We might find something in a few hours to help her in the debris of the camp, something that wasn’t destroyed. You never know.

C: Yank the metal shard out of Gwen’s chest. There’s always a chance it might not shred her heart, and she might live once we re-inflate her lung. And stop the bleeding. Maybe.

guest100

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Re: The Freedom War
« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2018, 02:55:48 pm »
Xander stood next to the women, holding her hand. He figured that they should try and take it out. If they didn't, she'd die, if they shot her, she'd die, if they took it out, she could live, and she was a pretty lady. He looks up at them "We should try to take it out. It's the only chance she has to live."

guest121

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Re: The Freedom War
« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2018, 02:43:17 pm »
Though the atmosphere was humid with the ashes of the once expansive camp, the cool mountain air chilled everything sufficiently. Yet, sweat poured down Xander’s neck and from his bodily cavities, drenching him in a solution of salty fluids. He attempted to firmly grasped the metal protrusion that erupted from Gwen’s chest, the jagged edges digging waves of pain into his palms, his profuse sweating hindering his efforts. He tried yanking once, his hands slipping on the now slick object, unable to find purchase despite its roughness. He tried again, this time placing his hands closer to the base of the object, yanking upward with his full, though exhausted, might. His neck bulged with the strain, his hands sliding upwards still, until something gave with a wet, disgusting squelch that unsettled his stomach. With a final pop, the metal object escaped from Gwen’s chest, Xander’s expelled force causing him to fall upon his rear onto the rough, metal chassis of the burned wreck of a helicopter, indubitably bruising his tailbone for the next few, sore days. For a moment, a brief, calming moment, nothing occurred. Had he succeeded? Had he saved her life? Thank the gods, she might- and then it began. A jetstream of coagulated bloody erupted from her chest, a fresh spring geyser newly uncorked by thawing grounds, staining the surrounding landscape. Xander leapt upwards, thrusting his hands into her chest, attempting to stem an unstoppable tide with sheer willpower. ”No, no, no!”, he cried to himself, as he began to taste iron in every last one of his pores, his chest and arms near instantly painted crimson red, hot fluids seeping underneath his grasping fingernails. But there was nothing to be done. As the tide ebbed, Xander fell backward once more, squelching as he sat upon his posterior, droplets of salty water trickling down his face, mixing indiscriminately with the solution of bodily fluids that now formed a small lake upon the ground, lost, gone, forgotten.

”XANDER! Is everything alright?!” Henry shouted as he rounded the corner of the debris field, ”Atvulf came and got-“. He stopped abruptly, the words caught in his throat. One hand rose to cup his mouth.

”They just around that there corner, keep movin’ you f*ckin’ oaf,” Atvulf pushed his way past the immobile Henry, needlessly shoving an elbow into his gut. ”Ye two still a‘right, Xander? Look, we were talking-,“ Atvulf nearly copied Henry in his movements as he observed the burned mechanical husk in which the gruesome scene had unfolded.

”The f*ck?!,” Atvulf whispered hoarsely, something caught in his throat. ”But.. it was only-“ he turned and wretched upon the ground nearby, an assorted blob of various half-digested chunks adding to the mosaic of debris in an almost impressionistic pattern.

For several unnerving moments, no one moved or spoke, save for the odd cough erupting from Atvulf as he attempted to clear the acidity from his throat. Then Henry moved forward, pulling off his police uniform jacket, painted in mud and odd scratches, the golden shield embroidered upon the upper right breast pocket still clearly visible, and laid it upon the bloody corpse of the women he had never known.

”You…. You two go back. Make sure the others are setting up a proper camp. Tell the others …. Tell the others I’ll be late,” Henry spoke softly, his lips barely moving.

Neither Atvulf nor Xander spoke as they maneuvered their way back towards the front entrance of the graveyard of misery.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The clearing was set. Though the debris field-the former DERA camp-still largely surrounded them on all sides in spite of their attempt to extricate themselves from its permeating field of death, the survivors had done a fair job in clearing out much of the wreckage, save a few scraps of loose paper goods that lay strewn atop the rock and dirt ground. They had managed to salvage a few odd tents for their overnight use, including a larger trademarked DERA command tent, its overly larger sigil along one side blatantly insulting the huddled survivors in all its worthless glory. Someone-Xander knew not who-had started a bonfire, burning whatever dry flammable scraps that had been nearby. 

“Henry’s not back yet, eh?” Atvulf murmured, the chilly air leaving his breath vapor visible.

Tsubaki shook her head lightly. She had been staring into the darkness that now obscured the majority of the wreckage for several hours now, sitting atop an abandoned milk carton, searching aimlessly.

”You reckon we need go back, Xander?” Atvulf replied. His head dropped as he looked back into the red, roaring flames of the bonfire. ”I…”

He looked upwards towards the rest of the survivors. ”Sure ain’ gonna do no one no good sittin’ here doing squat. Most of you get sleepin’ ASAP, we gots us another hike-downwards, but still a hike-on the marrow. Ain’ no use wasting ye energy. Night yall.”

Most of the survivors obeyed the commandment, pairing up and retreating to the various salvaged tents. Save for a handful of dim murmurs, conversations beyond Xander’s caring, only the roar and crackling of the flames, the odd heavy breath, and the unseen settling of the distant debris around the valley like rustling of tree branches in a heavy wind permeated the night silence. Atvulf, Tsubaki, Xander, Mikey, and some random man whom Xander swore was pissing, remained the only individuals awake-if just barely.

”Mikey, you to. Get sum sleep.” Atvulf hoarsely whispered.

”Man, no way. You up, I’m up. Bros for life. ‘sides, I… nah. Imma stay up.”

”Look, be needin’ someone to keep watch later. Don’t trust no one but you to watch my back Mikey, so git some proper sleep. I’ll git you up in a few hours.”

Mikey sighed, and nodded his head. ”Sure man, ye know best eh. You take care. Nigh’

”Nigh’ Mikey.”

Atvulf exhaled deeply, staring intensely into the fire as if he could expunge some deeper meaning from it. He turned to Xander.

”Mind if I play sum sh*t? I ain’ gonna stare out into who knows what waitin’ for Henry like sweet t*ts there all night. Here, look.” Henry walked over and grabbed something from a pile of supplies that had accumulated from the survivors foraging, rummaged for a bit, before walking back to the bonfire.

”Mikey found this sh*t in sumbodies tent, damn fine this beut is,” Atvulf conversed with Xander whistling gently, ”Mikey might only got one oar in the water, but his hearts in the right place. He knows I like a good guitar just like I like my women, eh?” He lazily strummed the strings as if caressing a soft kitten. The wooden, lacquered guitar had been carefully polished with care, no dents or scratches to be seen anywhere amongst its body, a stark contrast to the survivors. ”She strung nice and properly to eh? Let me give you a little jig.” Atvulf began to play and sing softly, his deep, guttural voice softened:

”Little bird, little bird fly through my window,”
Little bird, little bird fly through my window,
Little bird, little bird fly through my window,
And buy molasses candy.”


Atvulf exhaled triumphantly. ”Ain’ done that one in a while. Sh*t, lemme think, next verse goes – ‘Fly through my window, my sugar lump, Fly through-“. He stopped as he observed Tsubaki stand up off her milk-carton pedestal sharply. He gently place down the guitar onto the ground, and pulled from his waistline a shining metal handgun.

”Sh*t, who out there? Come out into the light!” Atvulf shouted authoritatively.

A dark figure emerged from the infinite wall of blackness, slowly becoming more defined like a siren emerging from the abyssal depths of the ocean. Sprawled across its arms a wrapped package laid draped. Tsubaki moved forward as if to embrace the unknown figure, but stopped abruptly, air trapped in her throat.

”Just me Atvulf, don’t shoot. I’d rather not have to pull a bullet from my chest tonight,” Henry replied.

Atvulf sighed deeply, his hands falling back to his sides, relieved. ”Took ye long enough eh? What took ye so frackin’ long?”

Henry stepped into the illuminating bonfire life, its flickering flames etching the disturbing package he carried. ”It took me a while to find something to wrap Gwen in, and then I got somewhat lost as night fell. Sorry. But I’m here now, everything alright with everyone?”

”Who the hell is Gwen?”

”Seriously?”

”Ye, seriously, who- oh…”

”Yeah.”

Atvulf stared directly at the bundle draped across Henry’s arms, as if his piercing eyes could examine the prone figure through the mismatched wrappings. ”Ye didn’t need do that. Waste of time,” he muttered to him.

Henry looked downward towards his burden, ”No, it needed to be done. No one should be-“ he looked around towards the enduring blackness of the night”- left to rest in all this. It’s not right.”

”Sure. Whatever you say, man.”

Henry sighed deeply, his breath visible and billowing in the night air. He shivered slightly, before moving to the far side of the camp to lay down his package, his boots crunching on the loose paper debris underfoot. He returned to the bonfire with his arms crossed, drawing a discarded crate to sit upon.

”So,” Henry began, ”how was everyone’s haul? Did we get anything useful?”

Atvulf shrugged nonchalantly. ”Alright I reckon, few knives and such. And them tents everyone’s in. This here gun’s not bad, only one round though.”

”Any food, water, or medicine?”

Again, Atvulf shrugged. ”Not a lot out there eh, lota dry goods from them gov folks but varmits got into most of it. I’d reckon most of these peeps be high cotton arses, ain’ bring sh*t they’d need. We salvaged what we could, but it was piddly squat. Maybe nuf to last us another two days?”

Henry sighed deeply. ”That’ll have to do I suppose. Guess we’re going to have to head back down the mountain tomorrow.”

”I reckon. But where the f*ck we gonna go? Some hood with ye homies eh?” Atvulf chortled to himself.

”Hrmm… you remember what those officers said at the crossing?” Henry spoke slowly, attempting to draw the memory from the recesses of his memory. ”Didn’t they say there was a military base nearby? Er, Aienclad Aviation Base right?”

”Aye, not a bad idea sooty! Maybe you’ve got sum brains up there after all!”

Henry rolled his eyes. ”Sure. We can warn those officers to. Maybe they can come with us. There’s a possibility that those creatures that attacked us might sweep through here looking for survivors later on.”

Atvulf snorted at this option. ”Man, f*ck them. If I had my druthers I’d punt their skinny arses straight into the moon. Let the metalheads have their way with em’.”

”The moon….”

”What? You loosin’ it?”

”The moon. Look up.” Henry’s jaw gaped open as he looked skyward. The rest of the quad around the roaring bonfire looked towards the heavens in turn.

”Oh… sh*t.”

Though the sky was not particularly clear, as smoke from the blistering bonfire and the smoldering debris around them lightly obscured their vison of the stars, the moon shone brightly on the night sky, a clean round circle of light amongst the oblivion. Or rather now two uneven half-circles, if not more debris. The moon have been shattered into, as if some immortal beast had cleaved the heavenly body with one mighty swipe of their indomitable sword, shattering the once beautiful angelic child of the stars.

”Why didn’t we see it until now?” Henry whispered.

”Never did have no good reason to look directly at it till now. Musta happened sometime today though.”

Henry looked back downwards at the other compatriots. ”Do we even have a chance of surviving this?”

Tears welled in the corners of Tsubaki’s brown, slanted eyes, vanishing nearly as quickly as they formed as the sweltering bonfire scorched the last vestiges of dreams from the corners of their souls.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pain.

Sharp pain.

Xander had rolled upon his side in his sleep, and now some irritating pebble underneath awoke him from his slumber, a rough thorn prodding him to action. He steadily rose from whence he lain, one hand out alongside the tent wall balancing him, the rough canvas frigid to the touch. Though he had slept upon the rough crag terrain atop but a few layers of salvaged cloth, he had slept well that night, the buzzing in his head from yesterdays strain of activates absolved for a time. Perhaps. In any case, the morning was afoot, and Xander could hear activity outside.

”Git ur **** up Xander, ain’t this ruckus wake ye from ye sack yet?” someone called from beyond.

Xander groaned, opening the tend flap, and stepped out back onto the mountain valley, stretching towards the heavens as he stood fully vertical, a strained grimace etched upon his face. With the morning sun arisen, Xander could once more see the graveyard sea and the chaos of which it embodied. However, the musk of death that had permeated the frozen wasteland a day prior was gone, swept away by the rapid tidal strength of billowing mountain gusts.

”Most of the supplies have already been packed Xander, just a few more things to go. We let you sleep in a bit, but do you mind grabbing my pack for the trip downward once you’re ready? Thanks.” Henry called from the other side of the clearing.

Xander started towards the somewhat distant voice, his boots crunching upon the coarse, gravel ground, each step tender and uncomfortably raw from the previous days exercise upwards. As he arrived by Henry, he grabbed his heavy load, nearly buckling under the excess weight, hefting it upon his sore shoulders, straps digging fresh trenches of misery upon him.

”Another day of misery” he thought to himself.

Henry turned towards the rest of the group, having located and lifted his morbid hall from the night prior. ”Alright, everyone ready? Let’s get moving!”

----------------------------------------------------------------

The trek back down the winding mountain trail, in spite of the countless abandoned vehicles continuing to litter and obscure their path ahead, was considerably less strenuous than the previous days climb, though a few of the survivors took liberty with their newly acquired gravity and collided with those ahead on occasion, much to their irritation. Henry to, continued to forge a path downward ahead of the pack, a slightly bent metal spade caked in dried, brown mud continuously bouncing of the back of his legs as he walked though he payed little mind to the discomfort or the future rash he invited, the package he bore shaking with each successive step forward occupying his attention fully.

As they nearly cleared the last of the cemetery of forgotten assorted vehicles, Henry paused, looking outward from an outcrop towards the valley just below.

”Here is good” he called to the others.

”Eh? For what?” Atvulf replied, his arms crossed.

Wordlessly, Henry ignored him as he placed his bundle upon the earthen ground, and shouldered the spade from his back, placing the tip into the soil, and began to excavate the outcrop, neatly piling the shifted soil into a pile alongside.

Atvulf snorted. ”This really necessary? She dead, she don’ give a f*ck where you put her skinny ass. Just dump her in a car or something.”

Henry refused to look him directly in the face, barely tilting his head towards him. ”This is the spot.”

Atvulf shook his head in disbelief. ”I ain’t waiting for ye, Imma finish walking and take a rest. Any of ye who want to come with better. Van’s got air conditioning eh?” He started down the mountain path once more. Mikey was the first to move after his cousin a moment later, sparking most of the other survivors to follow closely behind, until only Xander and Tsubaki remained watching Henry burry his burden.

Tsubaki moved to help, graving an abandoned ice scrapper from the dashboard of one of the deserted vehicles, but before she could move her first mound of earth, Henry placed a firm hand upon her shoulder. ”It’s alright,” he spoke softly to her, ”I’ve got this.”

Tsubaki place down her makeshift trowel, and took her place silently alongside Xander, her eyes downcast, examining in needless detail a smooth stone that lay just beyond her sneakers.
Henry sighed in exhaustion. ”Eh, I think that’s good enough right?” He hoisted the cloth wrapped package from the ground, before gingerly placing it into the newly formed ditch. He wiped his sweat and dirt caked hands alongside his pants, doing little to cleanse them.

”Anyone want to say a few words or something? I… I  don’t really know what to say. Is there anything right to say?” Henry mummed.

Tsubaki bent down and grasped the pebble she had been examining, and placed it into the folds of her jacket, straightening upright once more.

Choice 7 (Strength: Mild)

A: Speak a few words for her. No one deserves silence, in spite of how little you know about her.

B: Say nothing. You have nothing to say, is it not enough that you’re here?

guest100

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Re: The Freedom War
« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2018, 07:08:57 pm »
Xander stood next to Henry looking at Gwen's grave, thinking of the right words to be said. He put his hand on Henry's shoulder before speaking, "Your life shouldn't have ended this way, no one's should have. We just hope that you and the others don't die in vain, and that the pain is over." In his thoughts he told her he was sorry that she died like that. He then gave the other two a moment of silence before helping fill it in.

guest121

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Re: The Freedom War
« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2018, 07:42:18 pm »
His eyes downcast, Henry grabbed a pebble from the rocky road, examining it, before flicking it into the grave as Xander concluded with his brief eulogy.

”I,…“ Henry begins, words caught deep within his throat.

Henry turned his eyes downward, ashamed, returning to covering his grisly self-afflicted task. One last, final flick of his spade, and one final layer of musty mountain soil was lain upon the now hidden bundle, forever lost except to the few who remained to remember.

”I think we’re done here.“ Henry murmured near inaudibly.

--------------------------------------

The remaining trio of Xander, Henry, and Tsubaki finished the remaining climb down the mountain face along the winding dirt road. As the rusting, abandoned cars thinned and ceased upon their trek, they could make out the sight of their familiar armored van, waiting idly by for their arrival. Outside however, a lone figure waited.

”Ye’ took ye’ blasted time. Daylights wasting you idiots, unless you wanna be out roasting our bums whilst the Metalheads find us in the night eh? What took ye so long anyhow? Just drop the body in a pit and be done with the sodding thing.” Atvulf called impatiently as they approached.

”It’s not as simple as that,… you just can’t… nevermind, you wouldn’t understand.” Henry looked away.

”No, I understand ye kind perfectly, you suicidal sentimental f*cks,” Atvulf reached down and grabbed a large, smooth rock from the road, hefted it in his hand to test its weight, and flung it into the surrounding forest. ”BOOYAH SCORE! I think I hits me a polecat!” Atvulf shouted excitedly, ”Night’s meal on me how bout-wait, I think I just stunned it. Sh*t.” Atvulf reached down to grab another stone.

”Stop,” Henry put his hand on Atvulf’s arm, ”That’s enough. Like you said, we need to get going.” Atvulf simply shrugged and returned his hand to his pocket.

-------------------------------------

The survivors pilled back into their armored van once more, reluctant to return to the road and the perils it thrust upon them. Unconsciously, they nearly identically resumed their previous seating arrangement: Henry at the wheel, tired but determined, Atvulf the obnoxious backseat driver with an ever silent Tsubaki aside, and Xander watchful and tense in the front passenger seat.

They drove relatively silently, an awkward air of terse gloom as the boredom of the drive and the painful memories of the past foray up the mountain let their minds wander internally, only broken by the odd crack as the heavy armored van snapped fallen twigs beneath its tires as it moved onward underneath the forest canopy.

”Wait,… isn’t this that intersection,” Henry broke the silence amongst the survivors, ”That one with the police checkpoint?”

”Er,… sure looks like it. Speed up, git us out of ‘ere swift.”

”But the officers might still be here. We need to warn them that the camp is gone.”

”Don’t be drugin up dat sh*t again, just keep goin’.”

Henry put his foot down on the break, slowing the armored van down to a stop just outside of the intersection ahead. ”We’re not like that, you should know that. Come on.” Atvulf snorted and stayed seated.

Henry turned to Xander. ”Okay, us then.”

The pair stepped out from the armored van. Ahead, the clearing was much as it was the day earlier, an intersection between dirt roads in dire need of repair. The leaves in the canopy above rustled in the light breeze, an incoherent jingle of nature.

Henry pointed ahead. ”Xander, was their car in that ditch yesterday?”

Xander looked ahead towards the car. Indeed, the police squad car that the rangers had been using yesterday lay rear up a distance ahead, hood down in an earthen ditch, dented and scratched by the impact, abandond. The driver side door lay ajar, standing skyward like some metal totem. Deep ruts had been cut into the dirt road, as if someone had attempted to quickly and forcefully drive the car away only to crash unintentionally into the ditch along the road.

”Xander, come here, check this out.” Henry called nervously.

Xander apprehensively approached a kneeling Henry, leaning to examine what he pointed to. A thick, viscous puddle, a crimson fluid, filled a shallow depression in the earthen road. A few drops of the liquid lay splattered outside of the puddle, giving the dirt road an artistic flavor.

Henry turned to Xander, eyes filled with knowing, and shook his head.

”Let’s get going.”

The two turned back towards the van and made a speedy egress. Slamming the doors shut, Atvulf called disinterestly from the back.

”Yeh find the f*ckers?”

”Not quite.” Henry responded, clearly shaken, a slight tremor to his voice.

”Wat,” Atvulf pushed, his voice raising, ”sumtin’ happen? ‘Cause I’m good to give those arseholes a good lickin’”

”No, nothing. We’re leaving.”

”Seriously, don’t be lyin’ to me now, ‘cause-“

”We’re leaving. End of discussion.”

Henry floored the armored van forward, speeding away from the dirt intersection, following the road towards the military base that had been indicated to them by the rangers yesterday, leaving behind the mysterious puddle and crashed patrol car and the horrors they foretold. 

----------------------------------------------------

As Henry sped onward, the van moving increasingly faster so that the terrain blurred and smeared around them, an impressionistic canvas of forest greens, woody browns, and harsh mid-afternoon light, Xander felt something digging into his foot. A dull pain, more uncomfortable than anything, Xander undid the laces of the mud-caked black boot upon his right foot. Lifting upwards, Xander shook the boot slightly with his hand outstretched underneath, a small, gray, dusty pebble fell out of his boot and into his open palm. Placing his boot once more back upon the armored vans carpeted floor, he examined the extraordinarily ordinary little rock. Smooth, nondescript, and covered in dusty grime, the pebble must have fallen into his boot when he last exited the vehicle with Henry. Xander contemplated holding onto the obnoxious little stone, even going so far as to almost place it into his stolen coats pocket for no other reason but that he could but stopped before he could let it slide into the coat’s abyss. Rolling down the armored vans window, he pulled back his arm, and flung the nuisance into the heavily wooded forest.

*Ping*

An odd sound reached Xander’s ears. A ping, the sound of something hard hitting metal? In a forest?

Xander looked upward as Henry slowed the armored van to a sudden, dusty stop. A rusted metal sign, battered and dented, hanging by one loose bolt, lay flat across a long, chain-link fence, bent and broken in numerous links, that stretched into the depths of the forest beyond. Xander tilted his head, squinting through the sudden dust cloud the van has arose from the dirt path beneath.

“Aienclad Aviation Base” the weathered sign read as Xander deciphered the heavily eroded letters. The survivors had arrived.

Xander looked forward along the road. Ahead, the road was barricaded by a military style checkpoint, a gray wooded guardhouse, paint peeling and flaking, several sets of sandbags arranged in semicircles facing the dirt road with small tears blemishing their canvas so that their sandy innards mixed with the earthen ground below, and a flimsy red and white boom gate across the expanse of the road. Or rather, was formally barricaded. Several neat holes permeated the glass panes of the guardhouse, whilst the boom gate failed in its intended purpose and lay smashed to splinters, strewn haphazardly upon the ground. Two corpses added a finishing touch to the chaotic battlefield remnants: one flung atop the sandbags off to right side of the gate so that his coagulated blood stained the loose sand, giving it an earthen, artistic vibe, another nearly hidden by the guardhouse walls, his brown military boots sprouting from the posts’ doorway, the only visible indicator of its grisly contents.

”Look like sum tin’ done f*cked sh*t up ‘ere” Atvulf began from the back as he to observed the carnage. ”How ‘bouts we skedaddle then? Not our problem.”

”Shh, listen,” Henry responded. The survivors quickly quieted themselves. In the distance, loud shouts and rapid gunfire echoed mutedly to them.

”They need help. We’re going.” Henry stated firmly.

”Not over that there rubble, unless yeh aimin’ to blow out yeh tires,” Atuvlf quickly countered, ”Look.”

Henry and Xander followed his finger to where he pointed. There, lying underneath the remains of the splintered boom gate, road spikes protruded from the ground, a menace to both the barefooted and unsuspecting vehicle tires. 

Henry shrugged loosely, ”Then we walk. Get out, and grab anything useful.”

------------------------------------------------------------

Xander, Henry, Atvulf, Tsubaku, and, after some cajoling from Atvulf, Mikey, trudged onwards on to the airbase grounds in a loose, disorderly fashion, following the dirt road to its conclusion. As they drew closer to the central base area, the roaring, rapid-fire rattle of automatic weapons and the metallic pinging as they found their marks grew louder and more defined.

”Git down!” Atvulf hissed at the group as he flopped prone upon the ground behind a gentle rise in the dirt. The others quickly followed suit, viscous mud clinging disgustingly to their chests. Xander brushed a muddy drop from his cheek with one hand, before slowly crawling to where Atvulf lay.

”Peek yeh head over, but be quiet abouts it unless yeh aimin’ to git ur head knocked off.” Atvulf murmured over his shoulder, his eyes still fixed upon the scene ahead.

Xander carefully moved up the rise, warry of every sound he made, a crunch of dried, fallen leaves, the heavy sound of his panting. Slowly, he observed the scene ahead.
Ahead, their backs turned to Xander and the other survivors, five mechanical monstrosities stood tall, stretched out in a uniform, equidistant line, firing indiscriminately into the airfield beyond. Humanoid in shape, metallic implants coated their machines bodies, tough metal armor and other unknown apparatus whose purpose could only be diabolic. Several defenders sprinted in the distance, attempting to use utilize abandoned vehicles and crates strewn haphazardly as impromptu cover, returning fire at the monsters when they could spare, to little effect. Still more lay prone, unmoving upon the ground. 

The group, finished observing and daring not a second more, slid back down the incline and conferred.

”What are those things?” Henry asked puzzled.

”They the goddamn Metalheads, yeh sootie idiot. Didn’ ye see them when ye were fleeing?” Atvulf answered

”Er, no, just the flying drone thingies. Those are the ‘Metalheads’?”

”Honestly, you a hankerin’ for a hitten’ with how many goddamn times I need repeat myself. Yes. Mikey and I,” Atvulf paused to fist-bump Mikey who dutifully complied, ”Killed us a good half-dozen of those suckers for ourselves a while back. Told ye already ain’ I?”

Mikey nodded. ”Hell yeah brother, but dem Metalheads tougher than Uncle Ron’s stomach full of bacon. I shots them like 20 times straight in the noggin’ and day don’ go down. Gots to hit them in a sweet spot.”

Atvulf nodded in agreement. ”Buggers tough as nails. So fightn’ their behinds super chancy. Hell, we don’ even have proper guns anymore, ‘cept yeh little popper.” Atvulf pointed to Henry’s holstered sidearm. ”So we best git our collective arses out of ‘ere as direckly as possible. We ain’ gonna win dis one.”

Henry shook his head in disagreement. ”We stay and fight. They need our help and we’re in the best position to do it with them not trying to kill us at the moment. Empty your pockets everyone, lets see what we have in the way of weapons.”

Xander turned away as he examined the contents of his thick-coat pockets, withdrawing the battered flashlight he had taken from the van earlier. It would have to do.

Xander looked up to observe the findings of his compatriots. Henry had unholstered his service weapon, whilst Atvulf pulled the three knives that had been scavenged from the derelict evacuation camp. A paltry sum of weapons.

”This it?” Henry murmured to himself, checking how many rounds remained in his gun.

”Well we stab them right, we might git sum tin out of this crap,” Atvulf sighed, ”Still, we ain’ got the power ‘ere, would be easier if we up and left.”

Henry shook his head in determination. ”We’re doing this whether you like it or not.”

”At leas’ hold off on yeh goddamn gun before we git in there first.” Atvulf countered.

”Sure, alright.” Henry stated.

Atvulf handed one of the salvaged knives to Mikey, who examined it, testing its weight with a few taps and jabs. Tsubaki, eyes downcast, pointed towards the remaining knife Atvulf clutched. Observing her pointing, Atvulf looked between her and the knife, deciphering her intent, before scoffing quietly.

Sweet t*ts want’s herself a knife eh? But it ain’ pink or gots a bow on it!” Atvulf again chuckled lightly at his own joke.

”But seriously,” he added, ”Ain’ no way in hell imma give you this. This ain’ no place for women. You just stay put an’ be a good little girl ‘right?”

Tsubaki shook her head, and pointed once more at the knife he clutched, her eyes fierce with determination.

”Atvulf,” Henry started, ”there are five of.. of those things out there. We’ll need every able hand we have.”

”Wut, you two?” Atvulf gave one final hoot, ”Wars’ a man’s duty, everybody know dat. We’ll be fine, no needs to have some panzy arse women prancing ‘bout gettin’ us killed and makin’ sh*t difficult.”

Choice 8 (Strength: Mild)

A: Atvulf is right,  agree with him and deny Tsubaki the knife/her reject her help.

B: Tsubaki can help, and she wants to. Tell Atvulf to hand her the knife.

guest100

  • Guest
Re: The Freedom War
« Reply #23 on: July 21, 2018, 05:31:29 pm »
Xander looked from Tsubaki to Atvulf weighing in the possibilities that she may die, or that they may die without her. Finally making his decision he gave Atvulf a stern look, "Give her the knife, Henry's right we need all the help we can get, and even if she does mess up I'd prefer we all died together than just leaving her alive, to fend for herself."

guest121

  • Guest
Re: The Freedom War
« Reply #24 on: July 21, 2018, 05:41:05 pm »
Henry grabbed the knife out of Atvulf’s hand, flipping it so that he held the flat of the blade. He offered the handle to a nervous Tsubaki, who graciously, if cautiously, accepted the sharp, dangerous weapon, testing out its weight with a few imprecise flicks.

Atvulf threw his hands, abandoning the argument. ”Fine, yeh’ frackin’ dumber than a sac of mule sh*t, lettin’ a f*ckin’ girly fake bein’ a man. Gonna git us killed, but won’ git me killed! Yeh problem, not mine.”

The attack party spread out along the earthen rise, each carefully moving behind their respective targets with Atvulf careful to position himself as far away from a anxious Tsubaki as he could. Xander nervously rolled his flashlight club in his hands, sticky sweat beginning to stain his various bodily pits and unintentionally lubricate his weapon. His breathing, heavy and labored, began to speed up rapidly until he became mindful of it, ending the increase with several long, deep breaths. He looked up, barely peering up above the earthen rise at his quarry, his prey or his killer.

The metallic chrome of the murderous monster shone brightly in the afternoon sun, a glint of superheated light reflected directly back into Xanders eyes, blinding him. He turned away, blinking the salty tears of pain from his eyes, endeavoring to wipe the sweat from his brow. A motion to the left of him.

Xander turned his head leftward. Henry, tightly wound, singled to the rest off them, a quick striking motion with his free hand. It was time.

Xander followed suit with his friends, slowly creeping forward, mindful of each step upon the loose, muddy forest ground. Up, over the rise, senses tightened as loose dirt was shook loose by their scaling. Had they heard their approach? No, the metal monsters continued their murderous assault upon the base defenders unabated, oblivious to the slowly ensnaring trap.

One step forward. Look up. Another step forward. Look up again. No change. One final snap, a twig **** beneath Xander’s boot. He froze, sweat now pouring profusely all over his body form a thick, sticky coat, an unending river of salty seepage, his eyes twitching, blinking unendingly.

No change.

Still good.

Xander, breathed in, a deep, silent inhale of crisp, forest smells, mixing, churning with the noxious fumes of the base airfield, with burning ash and lost hopes. Xander shouted, a mighty, ferocious, blood-curdling roar as the war drums of adrenaline rushed into his mind, his soul, invoking his inner warrior as he raised and brought down his flashlight club with his full strength upon the monstrosities back.

*CLANG!*

The club bounced off near-harmlessly, leaving little but a deep dent into the Metalhead’s armor plating. Ineffective. The beast turned violently back towards Xander, clearly aware of the threat it now faced. For a brief moment, the beast paused, analyzing the situation with impossible speed and accuracy.

A metal spike shot out from a hidden sheath in its right appendage, razor sharp, a weapon which could slice through Xander’s grimy skin with ease. Xander looked wildly between it and the Metalhead, who would move first.

Xander feinted right, then leaned in madly flailing his makeshift club in a desperate attempt to fell his foe, up and down, missing the beast as it avoided his strikes with mechanical precision.

The Metalhead raised its weaponized appendage skyward, a strike imminent. No time to dodge, Xander instinctively, desperately raised his left arm to shield himself from the coming blow.

”ARGH!” Xander roared in pain as the metal weapon sliced first through Xander’s pilfered jacket, next through skin and sinew, finally stopped by his forearm’s bone. Fresh, hot waves of pain seared through his arm, excruciating, disabling pain. Xander jerked back his arm, removing it from the blade of his deadly foe.

As he removed the blade, blood spewed forth from his arm, un-dammed by the weapon’s removal, staining his jacket and the ground beneath, a fresh pool of crimson fluids flooding the underlying ground. His arm went numb suddenly, all sensation gone. Useless, but no longer a hindrance.

Xander shouted once more, a roaring battle cry as he screamed for himself, for his life, for his will to live. He would live. He wanted to live.

He dived downward as the beast swiped through the air above which he had recently occupied, whipping, cutting the wind itself and a few of his loose hairs along with it. Wielding his club in his one functional hand, Xander hooked the rim of the flashlights head behind one of the Metalheads legs and yanked. Hard.

Unbalanced, the Metalhead toppled, unable to regain its footing upon the blood-stained ground, raising a small cloud of dirt into the atmosphere, choking Xander’s lungs.

Its head. It was open.

Screaming, roaring, Xander drew back his good arm and slammed it upon the Metalheads head. A crack upon its armored faceplate erupted like dendritic web. Not enough. Not nearly enough.

Once more Xander drew back his arm and smashed it downward with his full weight and might upon the beast. Again. Once more. Again. Again. Again. Soon Xander lost track, lost sense of reality, lost in the bloodlust as the organic pulp he crushed with each successive blow into an even less recognizable mess continued to paint black droplets of viscus fluid upon his face, dripping downward, streaking, with each mighty strike.

Stop.

Stop.

Stop!

Xander halted his brutal assault upon the featureless corpse. It was dead. He could stop. He exhaled sharply, exhuming stale breath from his lungs and reabsorbing fresh air. He had stopped breathing, held his breath unintentionally. Now he panted heavily, attempting, unsuccessfully, to restore his resting homeostasis. He had won.

Xander stumbled backwards, raising his good arm to wipe the alien fluids from his eyes, clearing his vison as he panted continuously. How were the others? Xander looked around wildly, watching his allies grabble their targets to varying degrees of success.

”Help!” A desperate, forced cry.

Xander turned sharply to the sound. Mikey lay, back in the mud, upon the ground with a Metalhead perched above him, one armored boot placed firmly upon his chest, crushing and pinning him. Xander watched as the monster raised its bladed appendage to strike at the downed man.

A flash of movement out of the corner of Xander’s eye.

Xander turned instinctively, watching in horror as Tsubaki and her quarry toppled in a jumbled mass, the Metalhead atop her. Her knife had been ripped from her hands and lay imbedded into the creature’s side, painful, but clearly doing little to slow the beast’s assault. He observed in horror as the Metalhead drew back its blade, aiming for Tsubaki’s throat as she thrashed in a desperate attempt to evade.

Two in need of help, but only Xander remained available to support.

Choice 9 (Strength: Strong)

A: Help Mikey.

B: Help Tsubaki.