Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Pallbearer: War Part 2


Cassie’s ring had never shone more butter gold than when I had slipped it on her finger on Bellmaker’s operating table. She was not awake. I hadn’t been able to stay that long. The Errata were already on the march. Landon, the little Dr. Steel fan, had been busy. After the initial intrusion, he had rounded up the other scouts and sent them searching for signs of invasion. What they found distressed the Errata.

Everything Arlee had said was accurate. There was a breach in the eastern-most wall where a large force of Sleepers had made their way through the network of tunnels under the city. At roughly ten thousand strong, they outnumbered the forces I had had time to train ten to one. The Sleeper force was mostly composed of Wolves. It made sense. It was an assault force, a raiding party. They knew they were as likely to be wiped out to a man as to survive and escape with anything worthwhile, but they had come anyway. They had few decent ranged weapons to fight with. According to Landon, their officers were brandishing assault shotguns. The rest were left to scavenge pipes and boards and knives from the rubbish they were encamped in. They were counting on speed and the element of surprise to strike at us while we were unsuspecting. The Sleepers might be primitive but they weren’t stupid.

To the south, an expeditionary force of Judges were scaling the low walls and establishing a base camp. Just why the damned fish were bothering to try and force their way in was bothering me, but for now, it was unimportant. They were only five thousand in number, armed with plentiful small arms fire. Harpoon guns seemed to be standard issue but a fifth of the force had been supplied with pistols. Landon estimated them to be .45s. They fifth with the .45s were all Repentants, armed with built-in suicide bombs. The thought of humans giving themselves over to the foul barracuda and piranha foot soldiers of the Judges made me want to heave.

As if having persecuting fish to the south and tribal, vengeance seeking animals to the east wasn’t enough, it turned out The Disciples of Adam were indeed on their way as well. A mere five hundred of them came westward through self-made holes in the Jeng Wall. They were led by one of Adam’s White Guard, a Disciple calling himself John The Revelator. They had all the good toys. Electric cat-o-nine tails, mini-guns, old-style flamethrowers… they were ready for war.

That was good. I was too. I was ready for war with all of them. With more than them. With West Worthington. With Morelli. With East Fredericksburg. With every goddamn one of the fuckers that had kept me from my Cassie.

Their corpses would be burnt to ashes and blown away.
Their corpses would be set afloat in the harbor and burned.
Their corpses would be buried beneath the dirt in a tangle of broken limbs.
Their corpses would be torn to pieces for the carrion birds to feast upon and carry away.

Biggest numbers would come first. My playthings had so kindly made sure to try make up for potency with bodies. That would be all that would remain once I was done with The Sleepers. Bodies. Then, the fish. Then, the fanatics. They’d all be bodies.

Bellmaker was to stay behind and continue working on helping Cassie and Grendel. I needed to know how much of her was recoverable. Her ring was waiting for her whenever she woke up. If she threw it away, I could find it again. But I wanted her to wake up with it if I couldn’t be there.

Bellmaker’s elite that I had spent the most time with stayed behind. They’d make a dug in force of two hundred battle ready soldiers. It was for the best. They’d be needed if we weren’t fast enough. The other eight hundred marched with me. And we marched east. We marched on the Sleepers.

I had my force broken into three lines. The tank-treaded Errata made up the front line and had been retrofit with all the long-range firepower they could bring to bear. Behind them, the bipeds carried small pistols, shotguns, and flamers. Whatever they could lob at the enemy before actually risking being hit. Then, in the full rear, were the flyers. They were to hold back, stay grounded, and hide their talents until the Sleepers had fully engaged before splitting in two and flanking them. I was artillery until the front line would start to withdraw. Then I would become the force driving the second line’s attack. They would all die. I could smell charred hair in my nose already. Yes. It would be a barbeque.

Landon was beside me, creeping forward as we marched towards The Sleeper encampment. He (it) looked up at me and pulled his rubbery flesh face back in a demented grin. We were coming at them from the south, having marched around their position before moving in. Landon had been good enough to find us a clear field of fire to assault them from. Without any real firepower, they’d have to charge from the relative safety of the piles of garbage to attack us. If they hid, St. George would tear them apart regardless.

My Cassie lay on a table in a building made from garbage, ticking and twitching and sparking. My Cassie was a dying watch, her battery winding down. My Cassie… My Cassie… My Cassie…

I slammed a high explosive round into St. George and fired along the horizon. A midden of tires and rusty car doors and ceramic sinks erupted in flames.

“Was it was to give away our position?”

“No, but it was fun. And it worked. See?”

The Sleepers were milling about in the distance. I could hear the howls as orders were relayed among the troops. Death was coming and they would be ready for it.


I hungry for this meat called War. I could barely stand the wait to rip its stringy flesh from the bone.

And I would have a full belly by the end of this.

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