The Day the World Faded

“We are doomed.”

“The President of the United States has announced the launch of nuclear weapons into enemy and ally countries, and we are getting reports of the same from all around the globe. Russia was the first to launch theirs as ours went airborne. Targets are unknown, so I urge everyone to please find the nearest fallout point and take shelter.”

“I repeat, nuclear missiles are airborne. Take shelter…” [Transmission cuts here]

Transcript from the last news video aired on Death Day, January 26th, 2052.

With the Nuclear War, all life is at an inevitable loss.
Image source on DeviantArt

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Sail!

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“Come sail away with me” – Styx, “Come Sail Away”

I stand at the docks. The blistering falsetto sunlight glared from the distance upon my back, the fake wind through my hair. I watch as the gilded ship comes near, the glistening golden vessel from a far off world. I breathe deeply, as the majestic creation of ages past glides through the sphere, a wall of pure energy that acts as a proper atmosphere for the station. Golden sails begin to furl, whirling inwards to the single mast in the center of the top deck. The sailors, as they’ve been called, climb out upon the deck, pulling in ropes and other busy works as the shuttle continued to near.

The air grew humid as the atmospheric dampners began to buzz, using the air circulating around the ship to force the ship to stop. As it slowed, the wind bristled, fluttering the last unfurled parcels of canvas. I stood there, waiting for someone as the sailors began to descend upon the pier. I could hear the ship captain calling orders, men moving quickly to moor. Golden ropes encircle the plastic mooring posts, and soon the gangway was lowered and placed.

I held my ticket in hand, lifting one foot after another as I made my way up the transport vessel, mentally preparing myself for the distant shores and ports we may visit along the way. As I hand my ticket over to the first mate, he smiled. “Welcome aboard the Harbinger. Glad you are here. Come, and in a few hours we will sail away.”

Image source: here; closest thing I could find in a quick search! Technically, I believe it is a still from the movie “Treasure Planet”

When I wrote this, and upon reading it afterwards, it reminds me of old science fiction illustrations and literature. Ships to the stars sail the galaxy, men stand freely upon the decks and singing. The quote at the very beginning really brings that feeling home. I hope you’ve enjoyed. See you again next time!

Devil’s Torment

Check out the previous entry in this series here.

The comms were shot, I already knew as the feedback turned to scattered noise. I immediately bring up the rifle, began aiming as the first hostiles came out from behind the wall. I heard the sounds of a fire fight behind me, watched as the first hostiles were downed in front. No good, more were coming.

“Break form!” I yelled, jumping away from the wall and heading to the closest building. “Fall back!”

Flames burst from the air, slamming against the rocky road ahead of me. “Mites stay and play.” The comms were under the devil’s control, no way to call in an air strike. We all turned and started gunning down any hostiles we could. We switched between us, trying to reserve ammo, letting those who need to reload to take a knee as we gunned down more. Felt like an hour before the enemy retreated back behind their wall, and we could breathe for a moment.

Then there was an explosion. The concussive force knocked me leftward, slamming my left shoulder on the rough pavement. Those of us who could began standing and scrambling for cover, searching for the source of the impact. Three guys lay dead, having took the grenade hit head on.

I was now ducked behind a low wall, rifle ready and searching for a target. Three guys down in one blast, and I didnt even see it coming. There was a harsh, cackling laugh over the comms, and all I wanted to do was bust that ugly face in if I ever saw it. I concentrate momentarily, focusing my eyes on the display. ‘Tactical data confirmed.’

“Check display, move!”

I used the silent commands of my implants to relay my orders to the remaining squad members, sending half to one end of the wall on the other side of the street as I and the other half moved towards the other. The goal was to get close enough for the info-link to scan hostiles again. Half way across the street, the center of the wall burst outwards, sending rock and rubble to smash against the houses and squad members.

I barely dodged when I caught sight of a familiar trend. Large, flowing cloak. Right arm exposed, mechanically enhanced. Face hidden with glowing eyes. But this one was definitely different from Charred Rose. Much different.

Destruction

A sequel to the Fire Fights Fire mini-series
You can find them here:
Fire Fights Fire
Blood and Flowers
Charred Rose

War in the bitter east. The deserts have become a breeding ground of hostile activity. Enhanced soldiers rule the battlefield, though few could afford the costly upgrades. My squad was sent in to quell the rebellion against them, but nothing went well.

My name is Kyle, an elite soldier who has also been enhanced combatively, but not near as much as the ones they called “The Six”. They were demons, though I have managed to survive against Charred Rose. Her revolver now remains attached to the side of my leg, in a rough cut holster I made out of some of my uniform that had been cut up in the fighting.

I stand at attention in the command tent, awaiting new orders from the residing general, complete with the hopes of reinforcements from HQ. Our meeting had been short, one with a field promotion quietly added in. I now ranked as a commander of a squad, having been the only survivor from my previous detail.

“You’ll be liberating the south end of Bacarra, recently having been captured by the Six. If we can detain any rebels from this mission, do so but only if you can do so safely. Our main objective is to gain control of the towns main media station.” A map lit up, detailing the station. I quickly memorized the layout, noting key objective markers I would need, as well as other small details.

“One word of caution. There is rumored to be a member of the Six residing in that station, believed to be codenamed “The Devil.” He is very dangerous, and if he is located, do not hesitate to call for an aerial bombing. Understood?”

The small crowd formed up in full formal attention, saluting and shouting in unison “Yes Sir!”

“Dismissed.”

***

Two days later. I stand behind a closed door, my squad mates taking positions around the small house we claimed as our base of operations. The other guys in my crew served themselves a protein bar or water, rationing as best we could. I sipped from my own canteen, one I claimed from a burnt out village a few miles back towards the main base. When we were all set to go, I opened the door slowly, eying what laid beyond.

The fighting in the town had kept the streets cleared, most people having fled into the mountains to the west. There were only two militants ahead, so I signaled the sharp shooters to take them out. Two silenced shots later, both were down. I opened the door fully, my rifle raised as we cleared out, heading into an alleyway across the way.

The media station was supposed to be located a few blocks to our west, according to the tactical map I was handed after the breifing. We cleared the street with relative ease, heading down the alleyway in a single line, with one man keeping rear watch. When the alley broke into another street, I’d glance down both directions, keeping my field-repaired visor locked on hostile movements. Cleared.

When we finally reached the outer walls of the station, we began lining up on the walls, all eyes open for enemy movement. Several hostiles stood guard within the courtyard, my readout confirmed, and I signaled three men on point with me. The rest I signaled to lay low and provide cover fire. We may well need it at this point. My selected team and I began to move forward when my readout started blaring brightly. Something was coming this way, and the confirmed hostiles all turned towards the wall itself.

“Barging in, are we, mites?”

The voice crackled over my radio feed. This was definitely not going to plan.

The Charred Rose (Fire Fights Fire 3)

“Damn it to hell!”

I run down the destroyed hallway, through the guts and charred remains of my partner’s body. I had to.swallow the bile that came up as I took the corner back to where the female murder machine came from before whipping around. She stood at the edge, her revolver held up menacingly in my direction. I fire another short burst, five rounds speeding her way. She rolled and dodged to the right, firing a round herself mid tumble.

My heavy training as a black ops member began to kick in, curving and turning my body to dodge the speeding bullet. It was my turn to bring out the big guns. I pulled a grenade with my left hand, flipping a toggle switch from auto-detonate to magnetic mode and tossed it. I heard the audible click of the electromagnetic tube turning to lethal mode halfway down the hall, and fired two more short bursts at the crazed witch.

She popped off a round herself, but not towards me. As expected, the grenade burst into an intense flame as her round shredded through the hull, knocking us both backwards. I managed to my feet and dove behind cover before another two rounds came speeding past.

“Not bad, little man! But if that’s the last of your tricks I’ll be putting the next six rounds through your skull!” Six. She had already fired all of her first set of rounds!

I pop out from behind the corner, staring down the sights as I aimed at her. Even her reloading the revolver was elegant, even if she was doing it one-handed. As she slipped the shells into their place, I began firing. She jump and spun in the air, landing on the opposite side of the hall as I kept raining bullets in her direction. Then my magazine clipped, chiming in annoyingly mocking tones that it had run dry.

Blood pooled from several tears in her left arm, her good one, and the revolver was left on the ground. The bullets she had so expertly tried to load had strewn themselves on the ground. “Bravo, soldier, you win this round!” I hastily switch out mags but before I could aim again she was gone. All that remained was a charred rose, laying on the ground beside her beloved revolver.

I still have that revolver to this day, seeking an end to the Death Rose.

Blood and Flowers (Fire Fights Fire 2)

(Part One)

The buzzing of a chain gun. Blood piling on the floor. My partner had grabbed me and shoved me into a room just a few feet away, and as I fell inwards, i saw him wink as he fell.

The whirring noise continued, though the bullets stopped pelting. I could hear the sounds of metal boots stomping on broken tiles. Then, as I rose, an explosion knocked me backwards once more. Blood and guts were spraying everywhere, acrid smoke filling my lungs. The whirring died out in the blast, but still it walked. I stood quickly, raising my rifle towards the archway.

The figure first pointed his arm inwards, but the chain gun barrels did not spin. A small piece of metal had impaled it at their base. Then the green slit of eyes peered into the room. I could only feel anger as I loosen a volley of bullets towards that demonic green slit, not caring about my own safety. When the tunnel vision subsided, the clip having run empty, all that was at the doorway was the heavy black cloak.

I shifted position, starting to look around myself to see where the figure had gone. I reloaded as fast as I could with trembling hands. He wasn’t dead! He can’t be dead yet! Then I finally looked up, and the rifle slipped from my hands in fear.

There he was, having shoved his now useless weapon arm through the ceiling and staring me down from above. His left hand held a long barreled revolver, and he dislodged himself to stand before me. He held the gun up to my face, and I was sure that I was about to die. The figure, dressed in a skin tight black stealth suit with a black helmet that showed none of his face, just stood there, waiting.

“Come on, this has been the most fun I’ve had in months… Don’t make me end it now.”

The voice was feminine, and I finally realized that he wasn’t a he at all. Long, flowing black hair flowed behind her thin neck and wide shoulders. I slowly bend down, taking the rifle back in hand.

“Your buddy did mess up the best gun-arm money could buy, so please let me have my fun tormenting you!”

She launches in the air as I fire off a short burst. I dash forwards as her body twists in mid air, firing her revolver. The round barely passes me by as I duck behind the cover of the archway.

“Good, good! It’s time to play!”

Fire Fights Fire, Part 1

A shockwave shudders walls and floors, tiles splitting and rupturing. Walls cave outwards, sending shrapnel across a nearly empty hall. Plumes of smoke flare through the newly created portals of death, flames and murderous heat piping into the corridor at blinding speed.

We dart away, taking shelter behind a rotting half wall of brick and whitewash. What felt like hours passed as heat and smoke surged above our heads, realistically only taking a few seconds for the rain of death to end. I was the first to look up and over the wall. Where destruction brought hell to walls stood a figure cloaked fully in black. His hooded face showed a sickly green slit where eyes would be on normal men. And arm outstretches, pointing in our direction. But it was no arm; no hand was at its end. Barrels started spinning.

I rip my partner from our cover and half run, half mad dashed past a corner as bullets stormed our previous position. I slam my back against the wall, my partner following my example. The whirling sounds of the chain gun  began to subside, and I let out a soft, nigh inaudible sigh. I pull the clip from my assault rifle, checking ammo capacity as Aaron did. Weapons checked, I slip the clip back in and cock the hammer, preparing for the assault to come. Aaron barely finished clipping his in as the whine of the chain gun started up again.

There, turning the corner and facing us, the figure raised his arm once more.

“Crap!”

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Story and illustration:
(C) Richard Piland