Monday, 03 October 2011 04:24

"The Unsinkable Ship" excerpt from "Imperial Odyssey - The War of Twelve"

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            Crota landed against a button filled wall, spiting up blood. She dropped to her knees coughing furiously, choking on trickles of vomit sliding up her throat. A deep black boot rushed up from the ground and landed in her cheekbone, dislocating her jaw as it cracked her head back.

            Crota dropped to her back and immediately rolled to the side, barely dodging a swing from a sword. She pushed herself to her feet and quickly backpedaled from the Shadowy Figure. The Eloth'Naka turned his body and approached with a menacing stride, moving like a shadow across the ground. His gleaming sword shimmered brilliantly in the hundreds of the lights of main engineering, sparkling with an eerie glow.

            To Crota's immediate right was a thick transparent wall with a perfect view of the C.O.I.L. engines. Ringing the room were dozens of computers dedicated to the function of propulsion and energy distribution throughout the ship, focalizing on one giant mainframe. Without these computers the ship would literally be dead in the water, disabled like a wounded soldier.

            In order to stop the ship in its tracks, Crota had come to main engineering to separate the C.O.I.L. thrusters from the rest of the ship. Essentially, this action would blow away the aft portion of the vessel, leaving it with no propulsion to guide it through the void space. She had successfully completed nine of the ten steps necessary to execute the separation. Just as she was about to initialize the detachment, she fell under attack from the Shadowy Figure, succumbing like a city under siege. Now she found herself standing face to face with her enemy, fighting desperately against his overwhelming strength and hurricane speeds.

            The Shadowy Figure lunged at Crota, moving as quick as lightning. She lifted her assault rifle and aimed at the Figure, sternly forcing back the trigger. The automatic gunfire blasted with the power of a dragon's roar, spraying lead through the entire deck. The Shadowy Figure darted left and right, dodging the bullets as they whizzed past. The rounds sparked off the deck plating and bounced around randomly as they ricocheted off the metal walls and floor, shooting off in every direction. The brass casings fell in a shining heap at Crota’s feet, glistening like golden rain. Each gunshot kicked the weapon into her shoulder, throwing her frail body off balance and she fought against its rumbling power.

            The Eloth'Naka closed the distance and evaded every round. Just as he was in range the Shadow Warrior lifted his leg and snapped it forward, carving the weapon in two.

The  Figure spun in a full circle and planted his foot in the middle of the Queensmen's chest, hitting her like a jackhammer. She flew back, slamming her head into bulkhead, nearly knocking her unconscious. Immediately a concussion took hold of Crota’s head, blurring her vision and throwing off her senses.

            The Shadowy Figure reached down and snatched her off the floor, tossing her into the computer stations lining the wall. Crota gazed through her blurry eyes, trying to focus on the control panels in front of her. She only had one more step to complete...one more phase in her final mission.

            As she formed her last plan Xeno tore around the corner, skidding to a halt in the doorway. He locked eyes with Crota, knowing it was already too late. Crota gleamed at him with a wicked smile and gently collapsed her eyelids, concluding her mind. With a scraped and bloodied hand, the Queensmen reached across the keyboard of the computer until her finger slid over a small button. With a tiny effort she pushed down, clicking the button and sending an electrical signal down an unseen wire.

            An emergency bulkhead closed in front of Xeno, sealing him from main engineering. He slammed his claws on the thick metal frame and pushed his face against a tiny porthole embedded in the door. The Helmecute screamed at the top of his lungs, shouting Croat’s name. Unable to hear his desperate calls she re-opened her eyes and smiled again, gracing him with an unspoken goodbye.

            In the flash of a thought the entire section of the ship vanished, replaced by the lifeless black void of space. The Guide of Demise violently jolted as the engines disconnected and disintegrated across the vast universe. In a microsecond Crota, a Queensmen for more than three years, vanished without a trace. Her instantaneous death was hardly the glorious end she had always wished for.

            Xeno slammed his talons against the metal door and pulled viciously, scraping enormous gashes into its surface. He took one more look out the porthole, wishing for his friend to come back. Seeing only the black blanket of space dotted with shimmering stars, the Helmecute took in a long, deep breath. He buried the shock to his heart under a mask of confidence and a complexion of sincerely, forcing his emotions behind a cold mental barrier.

            The Queensmen turned with a heavy heart and low hung shoulders, moving like a funeral march. As he looked down the hallway he felt his soul vanish, obscured by a silhouetted figure.

            Standing at the very end of the passage was the Eloth'Naka Crota had just fought. He stood with his sword hanging at his side, rocking gently as the deck moved under his feet. With a slight, respectful, bow he disappeared into thin air, leaving only a scarred memory of his image behind.

            It was a needle. A needle into the heart of a giant. A needle into Xeno's sanity.

 

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