Author Topic: The Freedom War  (Read 268 times)

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Re: The Freedom War
« Reply #15 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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.”

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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.