Friday, July 13, 2012

The Pallbearer: War Part 3


The first time I had come through this district, I had had the dead following me. I had put down every one of my companions. At the very least, I put away their bloody memories. This time, I had an army of machines out to help me slaughter a massive raiding party of animal men. Except things were more complicated than that. Weren’t they always?

My Errata pushed forward relentlessly. It was beautiful. St. George sought out the largest mounds of trash and blew them apart with high explosives. The Sleepers that broke from cover died, gunned down by the treaded Errata leading the charge. Hardly any bothered to try and charge us. It was appalling to me.

We were slaughtering them and I was not gaining any satisfaction from this. I had wanted resistance. I had wanted heads to smash. I wanted vengeance. This was cowardice. This was not the way things were supposed to be.

Then I noticed first chunk of greenish flesh. Among the seared fur of the wolf Sleepers was a scaly hunk. I prodded it with the monstrous mouth of St. George. It changed color slightly, blending in with its surroundings.

Chameleons? Why in the hell would they have chameleons? That made no sense. Chameleons made lousy foot soldiers and even worse shock troops. They were assassins and bodyguards.

In my absent-mindedness, I loaded an armor piercing round into St. George, took aim at the nearest garbage mound and fired. The round punched a hole in the side of the mound and blew out the back of it. One its way through, the side of the mound had exploded in grand display of green flesh. Now, the pile was exposed for its true, tender nature.

There were children hiding in the piles.


The Errata ground to a halt. I didn’t. I marched my Brute through their lines and stood at the head of my mechanical army.

The children were all Sleepers. From the look of it, some were wolf, some chameleon, some fox. They were all children though.

“What is the meaning of this? You have entered my domain with an attack force and you bring children? Are the Sleepers even more barbarous than I had imagined, bringing their children along for a day of raiding?”

A female fox pulled herself to the top of the mound the hiding place had been build under.

“You’re the barbarous ones! We gave great amounts of old technology to Mayor Morelli for this space! His representatives had told us we could hide here from our brethren indefinitely. You intend not only to renege on a bargain but to massacre our children as well? We were leading you away from where they are hidden. With luck some may survive to raise them yet, but if every one of us has to die to protect them from you, we shall!”

Landon looked up at me.

“Are you alright?”

I wasn’t.

First, the Blind Children. Then, the hydroponics plant. Now this. I was burning. Too hot. Much too hot. Had to breathe. I opened the rear hatch on my Brute and leapt out, sliding down the left leg’s ladder.

There was a rush of words. I couldn’t hear them. Couldn’t hear well. The Errata were talking. The Sleepers were talking. Shut up. Everyone shut up. I’ll kill you. Break you. Break everyone. Cassie wants children. I could take her some. Maybe that would make her better. Maybe that would make me better. That’s it. I love it. Bring me the prettiest child’s head you can find. He he.

“Neil. Neil. You’re drooling.”

I looked up. Landon was standing over me, looking down at me with a frown. I wiped the drool away from my mouth and forced myself back to my feet again.

“Thank you Landon.”

“You’re welcome.”

I stepped in front of my Brute with my arms folded.

“You claim you have made a deal with Mayor Morelli. Is that correct?”

“We have!”

“You claim his representatives accepted the payment on his behalf. Who were they?”

“They called themselves West Worthington.”


“They are not with the Mayor.”

That caused a bit of a commotion and I could see through my Brute’s eyes that the fox was frowning.

“Nor am I. West Worthington is a group of humans that lies, cheats, and steals to make money. They have performed tests on our own children and dumped them into the sewer. They have then hunted down those children to grind up for food.”

The Sleepers were positively horrified now, their children cowering in the one open pile I could see.

“I destroyed the ones that ran that plant with this machine. I have taken this junkyard from them. If you want a place to stay, you must speak with me. I do not make peace with child-killers and liars.”

“We are neither! We were banished here by the Somnubi. We were deemed as unfit for battle.”


“We refuse to make eternal war. We refuse to eat our dead to survive. We want our children to live outside of battle and to drink something other than blood.”

I was pacing. Children. Cassie. The Sleepers I’d torn apart. So fun. I wanted a head to crush. I wanted blood on my hands. Death. That was why I marched out here. To kill.

I knelt down and picked up a small locket from the ground. I opened it and saw two extremely fuzzy faces smiling out at me. They were almost certainly in little pieces beneath my feet now.

There was already enough blood on my hands for the moment. I would wait for fish and for fanatics.

“I will allow you to stay. We will not harm you or yours any further. However, you paid a price to buy this land from those who would have sold it to you. You have to pay a price to me, as well.”

“What is your price?”

“Half your force will march with us. Judges invade from the south, Disciples invade from the east. Neither will give any quarter, nor will I give any. If you want to stay here, you will provide forces to defend this newly founded district.”

“How can we trust you not to kill those we send with you?”

I shrugged.

“If we refuse?”

“You are all going to die. At worst, this way, you can tend to your children and help them hide should we fail.”

The fox disappeared off the mound of garbage.

“Is this wise Mr. Neil?”

“Wise enough. They want to live. The Judges want to hurt and capture and destroy. The Disciples want to convert or kill. These Sleepers are our only options when it comes to allies. We will need allies.”


It was the fox woman again, followed by a large contingent of wolves, foxes, and coyotes.

“What is your name?”

“I am Neil Anderson. I am the only survivor of the initial attack on The Breach that is not stuck in Gravesite. I am The Pallbearer.”

She bowed.

“I am Alithea. My warriors are yours. We will fight with you.”

I smiled toothily.

Good. There would be blood yet.

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