In an upstairs office, the mood was not much better. She had been forcibly brought in under heavy guard back into a madman’s company. She’d taken the zeds now please.
She managed a bitter, if not somewhat hoarse, query “What now Charles? Another project gone wrong?”
The dark robed figure in front of her paced restlessly, and the two guards that hand remained behind kept a hand on either of her shoulders. They were under orders not to harm her unduly, but it hardly meant they were being gentle in pressing her into the seat.
“Decidedly not Chyram,” Charles Wagner finally offered up at length, “It seems that ramble you call a community is out there knocking at our door. They even managed to free your fellow foxes that you cling to so dearly. The method is presently unknown.”
Chyram’s mouth ever so slightly hung open. Was that actually true? She had sat through many a longwinded session about his grand world to come — with never any concrete new information she could glean that this frank admission was surreal.
“But I wouldn’t get your hopes up. The Golems have broken free. You do know how they so hate those who aren’t among the Chosen…”
Chyram recoiled, as did the guards holding her, “You…you let those things out!? Nothing controls them!”
Charles turned to her, his eyes seeming as if somewhere distant, as if looking through her more than at her, “They need not be controlled. They serve their purpose. Those who came to stand against us will simply be crushed. Even now, you can see the battle turn in our favor.”
And with a gesture out the window by Charles, Chyram was escorted to the glass and watched as the sky flashed in the distance — the flashes of repeated and sustained gunfire…
“WHAT! IS! THIS! THING!” Rai unloaded another mag into the hulking faceless horror, and was awarded little more than attempted annoyed smashes by the monstrosity, which having trouble focusing on targets.
It howled internally again, the cry shaking the still standing survivor’s bones thoroughly.
While thankfully the survivors had suffered no casualties yet due to reflexes only seasoned slayers could develop, injuries and fatigue were mounting, and this beast was easily aggravating the situation into a dire crisis. Momentum and morale gained in the first skirmish was eroded away after the first truck was hurled like dodge ball.
“Very hard…to say…Raikua.” Stone rasped, his usual unflappable demeanor fading as the attempts to not become crushed paste became more difficult to manage. The beast threw another wild haymaker, sending stinging splinters into the air that used to be full grown hardwood trees. Stone’s attempts to land a saber strike were met with little success, as the monster seemed to have an unreal ability to sense oncoming assault, and any successful blow of a conventional nature seemed to do no lasting harm, healing over near instantaneously.
Puggamoo attempted a charge with a yell for a battle cry, deftly dropping out of the way of a punch that sailed over her head and attempting to slice the arm above her cleanly. But as fast as her blade entered the arm, the path it cut seemed to seal behind it — and against logic, her blade began to drag in the creature’s arm. She extracted it straight back hurriedly an back flipped away from a downward fisted smash from the other arm, being sprayed in shale and gravel for her trouble. A glance at the power circuit showed it was still in fighting condition…was the thing healing faster than the blade could cut?
She breathed heavily, “Nothing’s working…nothing hurts it long enough…whew…to matter.”
Behind them, Pae and Haze kept the remaining straggling zeds away from the trio so they could focus on the monstrous menace alone.
Rai quipped as they regrouped into positions again, “Don’t think energy drinks are going to cut it for this one…”
Meanwhile, the extraction team and Foxes fared little better. They at best were managing to not become paper cut-outs of there former selves by being caught between the ground and a fist.
Malkoris bellowed, “How do we stop this thing!? It responds to pain by punching, it responds to not pain by punching — in fact, I’m fairly sure it’s response to anything is to punch!”
AJ rolled under a vicious swipe, that almost had a shockwave following behind it, “Nothing in the briefing about it! News to us!”
Beebles yelled over the din of gunfire and panic as more of the survivors scrambled out pas the blasted fencing, “Well, if this stuff isn’t working how about what you used to get in in the first place?!”
AJ back peddled again as another strike arced past, “We’re too close for that!”
Malkoris, taking a momentary queue from the admission, began emptying his magazine in his stolen assault rifle into the horror’s empty face, it focused on him and he ran to draw it further off — it followed.
AJ, wanting to admonish the mad Malkoris, instead seized the opportunity to feed the strike team just beyond the woods edge a series of coordinates.
“Their plight is hopeless. The Golems are impervious to weapons and means available to the common survivor. They are ants against monsters.”
Chyram winched as in the distance more trees rose above the forest canopy briefly, “And then what? You scatter them and they’ll all be back, they’ll regroup and challenge you again. As if this would be enough break anyone that’s lived this long.”
“You still miss the point. But I suppose it can’t be helped.”
A sudden shuddering of the building, and shockwaves buffeted the windows.
Charles shifted uneasily, “Again? What nonsense is this?”
Malkoris’ ears rang painfully. He reflexively beat the embers of scorched blacktop and rumble off of himself before his clothes caught fire. He rolled to his back sorely, and took a deep breath, eliciting a fit of coughing as dust hit the back of his throat. Rollin to his side, he spat onto the ground. White and brown, no bleeding. He became faintly aware of getting hit on the shoulder as his hearing began to function again, AJ was over him.
“Can you hear me?,” he held up a blurry three fingers to Malkoris, “How many do you see?”
Malkoris choked out a bit of a mush mouthed, “Three.”, before suddenly finding his senses all at once, “Whu, ah — where’s that giant?”
AJ motioned over to a half molten flaming foot deep crater, and foxes and rangers with flares burning every piece of twitching flesh they could find, “Our artillery team that the coalition put together is scary accurate, gotta give them that. They emptied every last shell they had onto the thing though. Turns out fire isn’t it’s friend. It tried to pull itself back together and anywhere it was burned it couldn’t seem to manage it, so we’re finishing the job then we’re going to split.”
At that point AJ turned a bit of ire onto Malkoris as he helped him up and helped him along as they moved out of the area, “That stunt of yours was dumb though, you saw what thing can do to a person man-to-monster.”
Malkoris moved unsteadily leaning on AJ heavily as he discovered he most certainly sprained something in his back. He had done worse however.
“Well, it worked though didn’t it? Had no idea about the mortars though…glad that was a thing.” Malkoris offered at length, while checking over his shoulder every so often, “I suppose, that Agent fella would have done similar if he had known that was an option.”
AJ couldn’t help but nod, “Yeah, that’s very much like him. We hit him upside the head for those stunts too ya know — even if he does have ‘more practice’ as he puts it.”
Back at the stronghold leaders fray, the situation was far more tense. Exhaustion was nearly setting in, and only the three were still trying to be in the fight and cover their allies retreat from the area lead by Pae and Haze.
They had found cover in a think grove of pines, the three breathing heavily as they took a much needed moment to collect themselves.
Pugga gasped in a few cool lungful’s of air and spat out some grit that had accumulated over the course of the fighting, “What do we do? We’re losing ground and we haven’t found a single way to down this thing with what we have. The little artillery we brought we assigned to the extraction group.”
Rai stretched to ease a few bruises she had accumulated, “I don’t know…I really don’t. Nothing conventional is working.”
Stone, having caught most of his wind back, stood collectedly and lit a cigarette.
Rai raised an eyebrow at him, “Really?”
Stone chuckled, “Of course. We keep going with this kind of thinking and it might well be the last if it helps. Anything we haven’t tried?”
The three tried to reconsider their options as the mountain of muscle hefted a convoy car over it’s head and launched it with ease over the trees. It landed somewhere with the resounding cacophony of breaking limbs, rushing leaves, and an earth shaking crash.
Their radios crackled, “Extraction Artillery, confirmed target down. Repeat, Target down. Fire provides moderate effect. Recommended dismemberment and cauterization of downed target, to prevent regenerative abilities.”
Suddenly, the creatures unearthly aversion to Stone’s ‘light saber’ made all the more sense…but given it’s penchant to dodge it so deftly, it still rendered the weapon an ineffective means of assault.
Stone took a short draw on the freshly lit cigarette, “Okay. So we have established the method of attack, but not the means…we need to come up with something outside the box.”
Pugga nodded as her breath came back, “Yeah…unfortunately it’s likely going to have to be something downright mental. Something like…”
There was a momentary pause as they arrived on the same thought, and Rai from the silence, “like Agent.”
Stone emulating the ranger’s thinking, “What do we have around us?”
Rai survived the area quickly, “Lots of trees, obviously, debris, abandoned weapons, vehicles. Drat, not much else though.”
Pugga took the thinking a step deeper, “We need fire. We have firewood, and gasoline.”
The monster picked up another car. And they all three, at that moment, had a plan.
Acting quickly they rushed back out into the opening, half surrounding the creature from behind and keeping it aggravated with gunfire.
As it raised the car it still held over it’s head and lumbered to turn toward them, Rai focused fire on the gas tank. Enough shots hit home that the tank sprayed gasoline down and across the creature’s head and shoulders and began trickling down the torso, prompting Puggamoo to then start firing rounds to draw the thing’s attention more over to her and Stone.
As it completed a turn and hefted the car up for a throw, Stone held up his light saber as if it was a beer mug, and offered up, “Cheers!” before switching the blade on, and hurling it like a plasma buzz saw, up to the area between the car and the creature’s head.
The was a satisfying roar of flame instantly as the plasma super heated the liquid gasoline midair, and the that had accumulated vapors, creating a brilliant fireball.
The creature gave a shattering internal howl, as Pugga seized the chance, and drug her blade through a puddle of un-ignited gasoline, and went to work cutting the beast down as he blade burst into flame upon the first cut through the flaming mass as it flailed helplessly against the seaming fire. In moments, it crumpled into a burning heap, unable to recover or resist further.
The three regrouped to their morbid bonfire, with Stone taking the last draw of the still lit cigarette before flicking it into the flames, “Good riddance.”
“Agreed.” Puggamoo added tiredly.
“Well… that worked. But I’m going to leave the insano Rambo stuff to Agent moving forward…” Rai tagged to the end half brightly half exasperatedly.
The three nodded in agreement before Pugga offered up quizzically, “Stone, what about that light saber like blade of yours? Did it survive the blast?”
He looked at her brightly, “Oh most certainly not. If it survived it most assuredly melted it’s internal components on it’s own from overheating.”
Rai tilted her head apologetically, “That’s a heck of a thing to sacrifice, Zeke…I can call you that right?”
Stone chuckled, “Yes, you can. And it was worth putting that thing down. However…” he produced another cylinder from his coat, featuring more black components and some bluing work done on the metal. He adjusted a few things on it before turning it on, a grayish blade of light spring forth with a familiar ‘thrum’, “…Rage had been working on this one for me. Better heat sinks. Parts are rare, so I’d not been using it until I had a reason. I’d say now I do.”
The three, appreciating the moment of calm, then hurried to regroup those who had fallen back.
The commotion had since died down outside, leaving a very uncertain Charles Wagner standing contemplatively at the window. Chyram was escorted back to her chair on the other side of the long table, and was tied there so the guards to take up more ready positions on either side of her, they waited for instructions intently.
A troubled quiet seemed to pervade the room, as Chyram was uncertain as to why. It wasn’t usual for Charles to be so quiet.
Chyram looked to the floor, slowly losing herself in her own thoughts. What could have happened out there? Was everyone alright? Did Malkoris hold up to questioning? Was the guard who was lying…on the…floor…oka….WHAT?!”
Before she could make any sort of motion of surprise, the second guard fell into view and was set on the ground by a stranger in olive drag– who with his free hand was signaling for her to stay quiet.
Charles started talking, “Regardless of the outcome of those battles, that is all they are. Battles. The War…”
She’d heard this speech in a variation before, and mouthed wordlessly as he set to working on her rope tie with a knife, “Who are you?”
Agent mouthed back his eyebrow starting to twitch, “Rescue.”
She mouthed back incredulously, “Alone?”
Agent shrugged the side of his face fighting back a snarl, “No, but alone in here.”
“Are you insane?! …and what is wrong with your face?”
The rope came free and Agent unslung the assault rifle and gave it to her, while producing his usual combo of 1911 and knife, “He’s. Monologuing. At. Us.”
Agent leveled his aim, and Chyram lowered his gun down still mouthing words, even if they were against her snap judgements “No! This is the chance for information! He’s one of many and we need to know more!”
Agent’s twitch grew worse as Charles grew more dramatic, “Seriously? He’s had you captive how long and had speeches like this how many times and there isn’t enough intel? I hate talkative hostages.”
Chryam mouthed back darkly, “Who said anything about hostage?”
Agent nodded in an ‘ah-ha’ moment of understanding, his twitch subsiding suddenly.
The two suddenly became aware of the quiet, broken only by an impatient tapping of a shoe.
The two very slowly turned their heads from each other to the annoyed Charles Wagner, “Oh no please don’t let me interrupt. I have the sense this is a private conversation and I’d so hate to ruin the sudden sense of hope…too soon. I’d suspected I’d endure some manner of ill conceived attempt at rescue but this is laugh–”
Suspecting he was about to monologue again–Agent acted on reflex, and tossed an object into the air at an arc and moved forward to slam his heel into the table edge, flipping it up and into the way — shielding himself and Chyram from the blast of the flash bang.
What was odd is that there was a loud crash and splinted glass just before the grenade went off.
As their ears recovered, Agent switched his eyepatch over to his unaffected eye, and found himself routed in place as he had trouble processing the sight in front of him.
“Man of action it seems, fair enough.” Charles could be heard saying, as one of the monstrosities arms retracted from the window, revealing a highly annoyed Charles standing unfazed as the monster clung to the outside of the building.
Chyram finished rubbing her eyes to be transfixed momentarily the same as Agent.
Charles coughed once at the dust and debris that still hung airborne and then stared the duo down coldly, and spoke at length addressing not them, but the monster outside behind him, “Very well done my friend. Would you now be so kind as to kill the spare? Leave the chosen well enough though please, despite my attempts she refuses to realize her importance.”
Agent unfroze, reconsidering his options, and hit Chryam on the arm backhanded to snap her out of it, “We need to go, MOVE!”
She barely had time to manage a nod as the creature bellowed a howl, and threw a full room sweeping punch that Agent narrowly avoided. The two barreled out the door and down the hall at top speed.
Charles spoke as if it was an afterthought, “Please do be quick about it. I’d hate to have to go through the trouble of collecting her again.”