Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Twenty-Six

The musty stench of immeasurably expensive tomes arranged sometimes delicately and here and there helter-skelter, as if in terrible hurry, pervaded the round-house abode overlooking the wide, wide harbor from the strangely comforting shadow of a marriage bed, cast in the god-like fire-eyes of little lavender-scented candles imported from the far-off semi-tropical, potent enough to sting the eyes, potent enough to cast dribbles of unwanted tears upon steaming cheeks still throbbing with the rage of a violence unrealized.  She pushed aside the now-familiar sandalwood divider, clutching his hand painfully with the unreasoning demand of a woe-besotted child as his armor jingled holiday about him.  Alone now, she rested him, against his failing will, upon her hitherto lonely bed, and towered high above him, her knotted hands upon her cheeks and a coy expression playing across the corners of her lips while he continued to pretend he was elsewhere.

“I appreciate it,” she began, meandering about the several lifetime’s of esotera at fingertip’s length.  “Everything you’ve done.  I understand it’s been hard on you.  Murder from beginning to end and no end in sight.”

“Trust me, my lady,” he replied enthusiastically despite the evident exhaustion of his eyes, “I did only as any true knight would or should.”

“I know everything my mother told you.  I know everything she expects of me.”

But he smiled the queer grin of a gambler and replied only, “Matron Barsica is a fine woman, and I certainly wouldn’t expect her daughter to learn such distrust towards her living ancestor.”

“Oh come now!  Come off of it!  Like I don’t have eyes and ears within the house—and without.  She wants a baby,” she announced with a certain disquiet, rubbing the flat of her stomach thoughtfully, “and she wants it out of me.  You were only to be the stud—but goodness me how you have proved so much more.  I always wanted a knight, you see.  Always wanted my first to be magical, that is before he was taken out back and his head chopped off before the children developed an attachment.”

“I had a feeling,” he replied, sweating his brow into his hands, “that I was never intended to survive the ordeal.”

“But whether you realize it or not, what you’ve done is immeasurably more meaningful.  A husband!  Unheard of!  But it’s going to happen.”  She strode up casually, the side-slit velvet robe revealing the gossamer nightgown swaddling her youthful features beneath.  With a single motion tearing at the seams of her bodice she revealed the entirety of her chest, leaving nothing to the imagination.  “Isn’t this what you want?” she quizzed with the cruelty of the widow spider, running her fingers carefully across her nipples while her elongated tongue slowly traveled the distance to her own supple breasts.”

He snapped to attention, rising with the long-practiced novelty of salute before she again slammed him on the bed with boom that resided throughout the monstrous domicile and straddled him, continuing, “You know, you don’t give me the impression of a virgin, and neither do you seem particularly fearful of us—so just what is it?”

Without meeting her gaze, with his eyes fixated upon the meaningless treasures accorded in every direction, he responded with a whisper, “I don’t like being told what to do.”

“I’ll have to remember that,” she giggled, “husband; after all I have very high hopes for you.”

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 14

Midshipman’s Log Part 104

Gregory Samuels

October 29, 1252 CNS

I bet you’re thinking it’s all sunshine lollypops and rainbows everything.  I admit, I really didn’t expect to see what I did; makes me terrified about what might have been on the other side of the door that horrifying night when I was plaything for whatever remained of my half-score of comrades smiling wickedly between the shudders of absolute darkness.  So you might remember, I managed to monkey-rig a sort of vault-cracking device that got the bulkhead open—just enough to get me access to the armory, the mess, even the command module.  I believe I was voraciously consuming the stale and time-besotted contents of a chicken sandwich of questionable mayonnaise whilst I was recording my long day’s triumph.  But we’ve got a few hiccups, not the least of which is my repeated need to shatter the porcelain goddess with the barely-digested contents of my last few days.  post-it_18Admit I hadn’t eaten much for days, but this just isn’t fair.  I’m trying to keep down a lot of water; there’s a real danger of dehydration, but there’s some sort of rust content or something in the pipes.  Sometimes they run clean, but at other times they put out H2O stained with this sort of greasy substance.  Besides someone literally scumming the water recycling system with tubs and tubs of hydraulic grease, I literally have no sane conclusion.

Anyways, you’re probably sick of my rambling, would prefer I get to the point.  Well, I can assure you I safely made it to the command module; got the doors locked behind me.  I traveled unmolested to the starboard armory, but—well—she won’t be doing anyone much good.  You couldn’t force a lock like that.  The door was ripped open—I think from the inside—and the arms were completely torn to shreds.  addendum_02 armoryI was able salvage a few mags for my pistol, but I think that’s the most I’m gonna manage.  Broken to fucking pieces.  Whatever’d done it even discharged a good portion of their contents; chamber was all scored beyond recognition.  Would have killed a normal man, and I don’t think a normal man could manage that kind of assault against inanimate objects.

Anyways, I have a tendency to wander.  My father used to make fun of me; I was never really able to communicate with other people.  There was always this disconnect.  I’d bend over backwards to make whatever rose into my noggin comprehensible to normal people, but it was difficult, and I frequently failed, and I often came across as cruelly callous and otherwise evil.  It’s not like I intended to ostracize myself.

So, back to my points.  My bowels are on fire.  Anyways, I made it unopposed to the command module.  Shit was locked down tight, same as I left it.  Who the fuck was sealing the bulkheads?  Worry it might be a question left to the generations and the academics after they haul my rotten corpse out of the waste disposal system.

So anyways, I made it back to the command module, checked out navigational data; the navigational AI was on the verge of tears.  Told her to grow the fuck up.  She complained that she received some communications from passing vessels.  This caught my attention; someone heard our emergency message.  But that was it.  They heard it, but someone from the command module relayed a response, saying that our hardware was malfunctioning and to ignore further communications of this nature.  Didn’t even follow protocol.  Passing transports might take it as a dead give away that something’s wrong, or they might not.  I don’t know.

Anyways, I go on duty in a few minutes; the lieutenant will have my guts for garters if I don’t take stock, and it’s been too long since anyone’s cared about routine maintenance.  Apparently, some shit-head ripped out a bulkhead with stock stolen from the holds.  I really have to complain about the quality of the food here.  Think I’ve gotta make another trip to the head.

Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Twenty-Five

“You may remember, Sir Arius, that this is and remains my house, and while within you shall be obligated to my rules, inasmuch as is possible.  The Matron Tyletus has arrived here at my beckoning to partake of our familial custom and ideally to smooth over any feathers ruffled during the day.  In a way,” she continued, making direct and unblinking eye contact, “I am overwhelmed at your outpouring of the most obvious affection for myself and my own, but please allow me from here on in to make such decisions as to the status of houses and the breaking of strong men upon the battlefields.”

He grasped his chin, pausing thoughtfully at length before giving answer, while a room filled with strangely glistening eyes fixated upon his deep set features shadowed in the chandelier light.  “Then allow me to apologize to the Lady of Tyletus,” he rejoined, standing at a torso-length bow, “whom I so clearly abused thanks to the exhilaration of the day’s bloodletting.”

She clearly hadn’t been contented, and the strain on her face was most obvious, curling ever further into some terrible eldritch thing far beyond the sullen nature of a mere frown, but ignoring the candor of the kinsmen’s slayer she resumed the whispering, hissing colloquium with the Matron Barsica while once again eating utensils scratched upon wondrously lacquered plateware.  His continuing stand went unacknowledged, and the room resented his presence thoroughly and once again.

He collapsed again upon his marked station and stared across at his grinning betrothed as if his only respite remaining in this life, his strongly-marked chin resting upon the table’s well-planed timbers stained in the carmine of wild cherries.

“I don’t even know what I’m doing here,” he intoned below the general din, while the Lady Rina drew close to hear, letting clatter unpleasantly her dining implements upon the sealed table.  “What am I doing here?  I’m only following the script, doing what I’d been expected to do, doing what I would do, considering—what have I done wrong?” he continued somberly.

“The other women will resent you generally,” she replied with unforeseen insight, “and what passes for males will assume the intent of their mothers, generally speaking the various Ga Zakazi of the house.  You will not be loved; you will not be adored; you probably won’t be provided any approximation of decent behavior, lest you carve it from their skulls still screaming.”

“You’ve been reading epic literature.”

“You know me.  It’s difficult not to, all things considered.  And besides, why don’t you away with me and allow the guards a few fair moments of respite?  Heaven knows they’ve been worked to the bone keeping all different manner of murderous intruder from penetrating the house and letting open the new flood-gates of immeasurable bloodbath.”

“But I still haven’t eaten.”

“And you won’t.  Even valid men are prohibited in this regard.”

“Fine.  Let us away.”

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 13

Midshipman’s Log Part 103

Gregory Samuels

October 23, 1252 CNS

I’ll freely confess that I rarely come across as collected, but this day was a glory, absolute glory, if only it weren’t so strange.  Aside from that, getting more than a little cramped in these conditions, getting sleep when I blessedly can.  Cabin fever, pure and simple, but what do you expect in the starliner life, even if the ship is massive enough for an internal rail network?

So I’m sure you’re waiting at the edge of your seat, eager to hear about my success or failure.  At least someone.  Back on Pilar Secundus, I never knew anyone that did.  Guess I’m lucky this’ll be your job.  Fuck you.

So, some shithead made off with anything resembling breaching gear.  No thermite, certainly no thermal lance, and even the fucking plasma cutters were stolen.  Puts me in a shitty position, as I mentioned, starving to death down here.  At least I haven’t had any unexpected pokes in the night.  Of course, it’s always night down here.  Anyways, they hadn’t seen fit to rob me of the various acetylene torches placed in appropriate positions along the hallways.  A fair sight less efficient than a plasma torch, but there was enough fuel, once I cannibalized the lot of them—just enough, bet those shitheads didn’t think of that.

post-it_16 torchFound a few valves, adhesive membranes, whatever I could, and there was a large supply of liquid helium bound for some research station someplace unpronounceable.  I’m writing this as I’m downing a stale chicken sandwich I stole from the mess.  I’m not complaining.  Anyways, took me several hours work, the bulkhead doors are like exterior armor, a foot thick on each side with an internal atmosphere to permit the movement of armored bolts to keep the whole arrangement in check.  Took me forever—five hours, hot bloody work with bits of burnished metal shooting past my face.  Couldn’t find a welding mask, had to do with O’Leary’s spectacles.  She was usually a miserable bitch—Irish, whatever that is—but she gave me a hand, passing back and forth what remained of my hand-tools until the whole arrangement was ready.  I applied the adhesive membrane and connected via tubing the helium to the aperture, all of this attached to a novelty water-pump.  Prayed to all the gods I don’t believe in that the pump wouldn’t break.  O’Leary didn’t have much to say.  Anyways, turned on the pump and ran down the hall, didn’t want to be surprised with a hail of shards.

post-it_17 olearyGods above what a mess—composite armor, not the simple rolled steel of a bygone age—would have lacerated to ribbons a whole score of men.  Way was open, O’Leary said she had somewhere to be.  And here I am.  Delicious.  I’ll be to the command cabin before you know it.

Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Twenty-Four

“They weren’t kidding,” Arius muttered, hissing between the fence of his teeth, as he passed through the onion-shaped doorway and past a pair of blue-and-black attired halberdiers, armored head to toe in scales of several varieties, whose gaze never seemed to sway even as they surveyed gravely the contents within.  The chamber was monstrous, a feasting hall fit for a military legion, lined upon its mortared stone cobbles with the natural chaff refuse that would pick up the detritus and be discarded therewith within the course of not even a week.  The guardians, stone-faced, bore without the scars of convection wonderfully-constructed oil lamps etched predominantly in glowing brass, though the chamber was largely lit with the fires of a wrought-iron chandelier announced with painted candles detailing the passing of hours, invisible now to the occupants thereunder.  A single great bench—in reality several oaken benches tied in a great long team lined the entirety of the eerily silent chamber, otherwise vacuous and absent the rollicking spirit of wholehearted revelry.

The women were already present, seated and occupied broadly in idle conversation that barely raised above a murmur, dressed as they were in immaculate satins and luxurious silks decorated with gaudy and variegated golds, silvers, and gems that would give pirates and bandits fits alike, but for all this, besides the standing guards, there was not a single man present, not a single man to be seen, none at all but for the armored foreigner presenting himself, according to the direction of his bodyguard, in the fashion of a just recently restive soldier arriving triumphant from the field, pauldrons cast away but cuirass still gleaming.

He didn’t have quite the effect of his expectation—that he would hush the crowd and that all eyes would wander to his bulging biceps and throbbing thighs evident nevertheless under so much white linens; no, only a single woman had eyes for him, whose retinas tracked his progress while she commenced to speak buffoonery and nonsense to her conversation companion who seemed utterly unconcerned and glad more potential to speak on her own behalf.

“Matron Barsica,” he boomed with the practiced hyperbole of an oppositional herald, permitting himself the ablution of the salute, “Sir Arius son of Amellitus has arrived within your dining hall at your request.”

She acknowledged him merely, drawn with some irritation from a conversation with a scaled woman he did not recognize, and beckoned him with open palm seat himself opposite her beaming daughter.  In a several step motion, he did precisely that, clinking profusely as he sat himself upon this meager throne while he began to wonder the purpose of his presence in some detail.  Rina, eyes glowing like the imagination of a child, never blinked, nearly heaving to be in the presence of her fond hero.

Remembering his role, recalling his responsibilities, he asked her simply, “How was your day, my dear—enjoyable?  I must apologize for the profusion of sanguine cast before your sight.  It was never my intention.”

“Oh?” she replied, leaning back and adjoining the soles of her scaly feet with the site of his quivering genitalia, which involuntarily perked up at the sudden and unwanted physical attention, which brought an unexpected grin to the curl of her lips.  “If I had to say so, Sir Arius, I’d say you enjoyed it, something like the glee of an exhibitionist.”

“Heh,” he muffled, squirming about in vain to avoid the tracking of her taloned toes which became increasingly obvious to her neighbors.  “Anyways, where’s the rest of the men?  I was told the men and women eat opposite, not that the man and the women eat opposite.”

“Gul Ladal must have been playing with you,” she replied with a coy smile.  “I can count on both my hands the men that have eaten at this table.  You’ve been selected as something special, precisely what I’d expect from the man to be my husband.”

But this was too much to bear from the Ga Zakazra Barsica’s companion who, without introducing herself interrupted rudely, “You!  You there!  You’re the creature that killed my men this afternoon, slew them in broad daylight in a matter of moments and left there bodies there to rot.”

“Ahh, so you must be—.”

“Ga Zakazra of House Tyletus, and you couldn’t even wait long enough for us to retrieve the corpses.  As it were, they were picked clean by beggars and degenerates, and we could retrieve virtually nothing.  Do you have any idea how expensive was their equipment?”

“As dear as their lives?” he replied with a lash to his tongue.

“Heavens no.  You have no idea.”

“So have you come seeking recompense from the Matron Barsica or,” he licked his lips, “have you come seeking satisfaction from my hide?”

“He sits at the women’s table; he speaks his mind; he’s a murderer; and soon he’s to be a father in your house!  Can you even imagine it, a father?  Perish the thought.  No-one else will tolerate it, Barsica; I guarantee you!”

“And you speak with the forked tongue of a cruel old woman,” he replied with a sneer.  “You have insulted me as thoroughly as you have insulted my bride to be and the house that warms me!  Send me your best, and I shall send him down to hell, and then you can spend the next years chewing on your own miserable contempt as the product of my loins stains your city red with the blood of cowards and the impious!”

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 12

Midshipman’s Log Part 102

Gregory Samuels

October 22, 1252 CNS

post-it_14 conveyanceIt’s just one bad thing after another.  If I didn’t know better, I could swear someone was working against me, someone who knew me better than I did—could see what I’d do before I did it, before I even conceived it.  You’d be a fool not to wonder.  Anyways and thankfully, I still have access to a handful of cargo modules, as most of the ship’s been locked down; I can’t even get to the mess, can’t even make it to the internal transportation network.  Of course I’ve still got the cargo manifest.  I was even able to identify several objects I might find useful in prying open the doors—rather permanently I’m afraid; the bulkheads are as much an internal security network as a provision against explosive decompression; they’re as strong as starship armor, and there’s no way under the sun you’d ever peel through them with a hand-held torch alone.  I was able to discern wreathes of cording, pressure lifts, even a supply of thermite; it was all written there on the manifest.  Problem is, I went down the line looking for the thirty-seven digit designation and—well—it’s not there, none of it, like someone beat me to the punch and somehow absconded away with all of it.  Manifest’s now functionally useless.

I—I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know if I’m being punished or if I’m just out of my mind.  Am I responsible?  I just can’t accept that.  All that I’ve done, all that I’ve suffered—I refuse to believe that was all a creation of my imagination.  I’m not that clever.  I was never a creative man, never talented—never important.  No-one would come to weep at my funeral.

I’ve still got one bullet left.  I can pass it between my fingers, the factory imprint along the rear of the rim.  This can all be over, become someone else’s problem, a problem I can’t even conceive.  Or do I imagine myself a hero?  And what about Sally?  Don’t I have a responsibility, at least for her sake?

There’s got to be some solution, some amalgam of parts I can strip from the available cargo.  I know the doors are vacuum sealed and magnetically locked.  Is there any way I can use that?

I don’t know if anyone’s responded to our distress signal.

post-it_15 doctorI’m sorry.  This might be my last communication.  I just couldn’t stay.  I had to get out.  There’s just something so utterly wrong about other people.  If this is the last they’ve ever heard of me, check my medical records at the now-defunct offices of Dr.  Suppiliulimus.  Somehow, this is probably my fault.

Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Twenty-Three

“You probably think you were very clever,” began Gul Ladal, arms crossed in a father’s disapproval while leaning gently against the standing sandalwood cabinet.  “The Lady Rina is undoubtedly defiling her own person as we speak.  I could smell it on her in the streets, and I doubt passing strangers went utterly oblivious either.  You still have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into, the danger this presents, both to your person and House Barsica at large.  I’m not trying to threaten you when I say this.  But you have to understand that this is a dangerous place and that I’m the only friendly face you’re going to see, Rina included.”

“Why would I be precious to you?”

“I could say that it’s because ‘It’s my job.’”

“But?”

“Frankly, I don’t want to explain.”

“You know, I could begin,” Arius turned, slow and shivering drawing the dusty garments from his spasmodic form, “by pointing out that this is no business of mine, that I never asked to be stolen, never asked to be a slave, that only by the fear of foreign death do I consign myself to utterly sleepless nights with a woman I could never love.  I’m just trying to survive.”

“I don’t think even you believe that.”

Arius smiled in return, at last exposing the heavily scarred fore and rear of his upper torso as he gently slipped into the acrid bath abounding in little bubbles.

“Heavens above,” Gul Ladal exclaimed in disgust, drawing his lips wide as if evidencing the precise handiwork of an experienced serial killer, “where in the hells did you get that?”

Dragging the dull excretion of lye and tallow across his suddenly fragile frame, he mostly smiled, saying only, “The punishment for failure is generally simple.”

“And you call us ‘animals.’”

“It’s often that the difference between life in death lies not in the mind but rather in the muscle.  You don’t think.  You react.  Pain is a more glorious teacher than a chalk-board, and god knows there’s no shortage of sinners to be dispatched at the end of a shining point.”  He paused, moving the bubbles about playfully in his hands.  “My family’s been in the legion since the very beginning.  We all were once, but eventually the demands proved too much for many, and they fell to the mundane.”

“Says a liar, a gambler, and a cheat, who’s had more women—I have no doubt—than I’ve had warm meals.”

“True, true,” he replied, yawning his tired frame to rest the nape of his neck on the lip of the washing basin.  “Began when I was young; had my first prostitute when I was thirteen.  My first sexual experience was somewhat earlier than that.  Didn’t know enough to say ‘no,’ and she seemed so pretty, at least that’s what she told me.”

“And I thought my life was unusual.  Mysterious how such as you can remain so sacred, at least in someone’s reckoning.”

“Moral caliber has nothing to do with it, moral caliber as at least people understand it.  As long as I do the legion’s work, I could despoil whole cities of their women and still linger in the unlikely running of a saint.  Those things don’t matter.  I’m not a hero, I’m a jailer, and that’s something the rest of the world has never understood.”

“I don’t know what to make of you.”

“Well what do you make of dinner?”

“You’re going to ruffle a lot of feathers.  You’ll be the only human there, in fact.  The males and females eat segregated, but they sit opposite each other.  Of course you’ll sit opposite the Lady Rina, who will undoubtedly chew your ear off, anything to prevent herself from raping you on the spot and ruining her good family name.  She’ll want to sing your praises and discuss the little victories of the day.  She’ll want to show off her prize.  Meanwhile, her mother’s going to be sweating bullets at the implications of all of it.  Better to leave her to her ruminations with the Ag Zakazi, who probably won’t stand to even look at you.”

“No no, I meant what are we having for dinner?”

“I’m glad it was you that killed the slaver that took you.  I would have done it more slowly.”

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 11

Midshipman’s Log Part 101

Gregory Samuels

October 17, 1252 CNS

I just wish that something would happen.  After all that madness just a few days ago—I admit I haven’t slept much in the mean-time—to just fall into this steady pace of zero progress.  I think I’ve begun to miss the noise; all that’s left me is the dull rumbling of the lonely engines and the occasional hissing switch of the hydraulics to keep you on your feet.  But there’s nothing else—no whisper of whatever monstrosity nearly tore out the bulkhead, no hint of my erstwhile comrades looming like grinning shades at my bedside.  I could believe that it’s all in my imagination—but how to explain the annihilated bulkhead?  High out of my mind or lost in the throes or psychosis, I don’t think even I would prove so capable.  Perhaps I especially would prove insufficient.  I should stop rambling on.  This isn’t going to prove of any use to you.  If in the future I should have gone silent, assuming I’m still alive, I will leave leaflets in sealed cargo containers detailing my progress, detailing my frame of mind.  Anyways, let me get to the meat of it.

post-it_13 cargo manifestSomeone’s been real busy the last few days.  I’d be convinced there’s someone else alive on the ship the way this is going if just fucking anything would show up on the closed-circuit surveillance system.  Someone’s always just a few steps ahead of me, closing off bulkheads and deactivating the lights—in one particularly brutal case I was nearly asphyxiated when in a closed section someone shut off the life support on me.  Luckily, it’s actually somewhat harder to kill a man; even bad air can support a reasonably healthy young man for a good period of time, long enough to fumble about with the half-rusted plasma torch long affixed upon the wall.

For all my hard work, I haven’t been able to make it to the armory, which has me really worried.  If they can manipulate the ship to this extent, can they break the armory’s encryption?  Of course, I know where they’d likely be, holed in the command module, but that just shouldn’t be possible.  It was well locked behind me.

I can’t risk seeing Sally.  Whatever they are, I don’t want them being curious about her.

I’ve gotta get some sort of trump card, something that allow me to side-step all this additional and unnecessary security.  Might be something I could use in the cargo.  I think the situation is sufficiently fucked to justify this sort of theft.

Sword of the Saints: Sinner Chapter Twenty-Two

“How may I help you gentle…men, I said gentlemen, gentlemen—gentlemen, this morning—this afternoon?  Basking in the luxurious spray of the warden quay?  Out for an afternoon stroll to the pier?” quizzed Arius, gazing upon the severe and unblinking countenance of a snaggle-toothed lizard bearing an unfamiliar livery and closely attended by a bored-looking scaly spearman resting the broad rim of his ponderous shield across the bulge of his upper shoulder.

A head shorter and far too lackadaisical, Arius was virtually beneath their contempt, but they nevertheless barred the way with broad-chested bravado and school-yard bullishness.  Before they found form to masticate the words of their hissing tongue they were preceded by the officious candor of the bodyguard Gul Ladal.  “I recognize you, Sfernor and Slafnr, scions of House Tyletus.  Know yourselves to stand in the presence of the wards of a superior house.  Retire immediately and make way for the property of the primary house or doom yourselves to the clear-sky consequences, gurgling your inbred ichor from between your shattered teeth as you sputter your last in the desert dust.”

The incipients, callous with inculcated apathy, locked their gaze with sneering brutishness upon their golden opponent and replied, “The man-thing is ours to take, as right as any other.  You know the law.  He isn’t of the people, and if you cannot prevent him than we shall do as we please.”

They had answered badly.  Gul Ladal grasped his furious glaive tight, prepared ever since the day of his seniority to carry his obligations to the very last, seething now to thrash beneath their embroidered shields the whole of them into a fine paste no more fit than to be the chum of fishermen, but the friendly palm of his recent charge slipped comfortably up his shoulder, and the cavalier declared in a whisper, “You know, I have absolutely no doubt your prowess, but leave these to me.  It will be pedagogical to match my might against theirs, especially should there ever be need again.”

Gul Ladal, burning with the ire of their disrespect would have none of it, though the cavalier proceeded regardless.  Grunting with emasculation the bodyguard snapped his vision to his remaining responsibility in earnest, but the sight of so-far silent Rina, bounding in place upon her supple feet and eyes wide and moist with the apperception of raw potential, ameliorated his public shame, and he traced his steps backwards and ceded him the field.

“You both have such cute faces,” began the paladin, slowly drawing the unrelentingly pale blade from its sun-stained scabbard as they adopted a defensive stance, virtually invisible behind the heavy bulwark of the broad-rimmed shields punctuated by the broad spear-points meandering just close by.  “Let us not rest on ceremony.  I have not the time or the energy to waste my afternoon on you.  Fools you must be to contend so openly with your betters, the facsimile of soldiers that have never seen more campaign than abusing crooked slaves and your immediate inferiors.”  Grinning mischievously, he lowered himself into a fool’s stance, blade pointed earthward and remaining arm cast wide, mocking with the winking eyes of open contempt.

“A bit of old soldier’s magickry,” he decried within, dipping the point of his sword into the dusty turf, before casting the blinding spray into the unsightly visage of one, who coughed and spat and screamed and clutched meaninglessly at his temporarily blinded eyes, while his companion spattering the devil-speak of the subhuman confidently lunged with his ashen spear forward and forward and forward—and ever more criminally—until he over-extended himself, and his skewering implement lodged firmly and uselessly under the grasp of Arius’s left shoulder.  In desperate recrimination, the slithering lizard drove his broad-rimmed shield forward like a star eschewing the sky, but was himself yanked forwards and forwards and forwards and found himself falling helplessly upon the presented point of the sparkling blade that penetrated within and through the spine and left him there dead and done in mere moment.

His companion had by now barely cleared the obstruction from his gaze.  Having clattered the monstrous shield from his hands, he was careful not to scratch the gleaming blaze of his own spear point within the undesirable features of his own broad countenance.  Only through tears and hazy view could he witness the wide swing of that pale edge that beheaded spear and bearer alike, tossing what few seconds remained of his vision dizzily into the air to come familiar with a squirrel’s perspective, spewing blood from shattered vertebrae upon the ground.

“Filthy creatures,” Arius remarked, prodding the slowly stiffening bodies with his boot.  “Filthy creatures.”

The Recovered Logs of Midshipman Gregory Samuels Part 10

Midshipman’s Log Part 100

Gregory Samuels

October 12, 1252 CNS

First, I’d like to apologize, extend my apologies, get on my hands and knees in thorough prostration.  Last night was just a very bad night, like none I’ve ever had before, even before I joined this little merchant marine.  I would have begun this log earlier, but my morning and much of my mid-day had been utterly wiped clean.  I didn’t get a lick of sleep, you see; the pounding had continued throughout the evening, and I’d been worried through the lot of it that the bulkhead was going to become undone from its very hinges; how the door remained firm is utterly beyond me.  Whatever it was on the other side of that door was monstrously strong, many times removed from even the most athletic of strongmen.  The door, as I had said, had indeed held firm, but with the cessation of the endless pounding, thorough racket skittering like a cockroach across the wrinkles of my mind, I eventually found the courage to test the door, see what was on the other side.  I didn’t much fancy the idea of remaining you see, for reasons I’ve yet to mention.  In any case, the door was completely and utterly jammed, and I didn’t have a lot of tools or materials to work with.  If I ever wanted to get another bite, if I wanted to resupply my military arms, if I wanted to make sure the ship was to continue to run, I had to make a break for it.  As it was, I made creative use of a crowbar, a bare thimble of thermite gel stolen from Donnelly’s locker, and a spare cooking torch to free the lock, by which I eventually was permitted just the bare necessary narrowness to strain to the exterior hallways.  What a fucking mess.  Place was covered in shit, scorch marks everywhere.  I can only imagine what cyclopean horror had battered down the hallways.

post-it_12 hallucinationsI tried to get some sleep earlier—that night—despite the incessant pounding obliterating what remaining senses I still possessed, any facsimile of my mental wherewithal.  I’m not sure I still did.  Still do.  I saw them between the flashes of the overhead looming lights activated between the echoing blasts of monstrous potential.  My crew-mates.  Casting devilish aspersions from across the room, closing the distance in the red-light, green-light of the sudden and intermittent dark—they were only dispelled with the discharge of my firearm, but they somehow always returned bearing the grim countenance of some fattened feline for a wounded and struggling mouse leaking out the crimson profusions of the very end of life.  I hid under my bed.  But they found me.  I only had one bullet left.  I closed my eyes, sobbing, and poised the muzzle against the crook of my chin, waiting for them lay their hands upon me.

My eyes are red and worn and bruised.

I’m going to the command module to check our progress, see if any vessel’s picked up our emergency, but first I’ve got to access the armory.  Wish me luck.