Voyages of the Cerberus 228

“Yuri, you can take a break,” Ophelia said. “Me and Lucy can man the bridge for a while.”

“I do not require rest,” Yuri pointed out. “And if my brother has set some kind of trap on our course, I will be the most likely to notice it.”

“Yuri, we’ve been over this,” Ophelia said. “Everyone on this crew takes breaks for R&R, including you.”

“I promise that I will take it easy once this mission is completed,” Yuri stated.

“She may have a point,” Lucy said. “You don’t have to give me that look. I’m just saying, we have a member of our crew who’s willing and able to operate at peak efficiency without rest. We can let her do it just this once and then give her extra time off.”

“Fine,” Ophelia agreed. “But only because it’s such a personal mission for her.” She turned to Yuri. “Understood?”

“I understand,” Yuri said. “Thank you, Captain.” She looked at Lucy. “I am curious. How did you know what expression she was making with your eyes closed? Is it akumillian empathy?”

“Partly,” Lucy answered. “It’s also that I know my Honey so well.”

*****

Grace sat back and looked at the pile of parts she’d strewn around her workbench. She didn’t have all the standard parts to make a standard EMP grenade much less the specialised one she’d had on the old Cerberus.

There was an even bigger problem.

A normal EMP grenade wouldn’t work on an android like Yuri or Y3. The only reason her other one had been viable was that it had been specifically attuned to Yuri’s brain frequency. She didn’t know Y3’s.

She had to think of something else. Something she could, realistically, do during the trip. If she could create a large enough EMP pulse, she could blast right through his shielding and bring him down.

Technically, it was possible but she’d require something as big as the fighters’ canons. And if they could hit Y3 with a blast from the fighters, they wouldn’t need it to be an EMP pulse.

Maybe she could modify some targeting missiles to specifically go after androids. If they kept Yuri out of the way, they’d go directly to Y3. Trouble was it had never been done before and they didn’t exactly have a bunch of targeted missiles on board. And they’d have no way of testing them.

No, she needed something better. Something they could control and carry around easily. That was when she had an epiphany and went straight to work.

*****

The Cerberus was still a day away from its destination when Grace called everyone together.

Grace carefully spread a towel over the conference room table.

“Ladies, Gentleman and Leon I have come up with the perfect weapon for you to use against Y3,” Grace announced.

She placed a metal case on the table and took a metallic disc from it and placed it on the towel.

“Some kind of land mine?” Kat asked.

“Oh, I get it,” Leon said “We detonate it remotely and it destroys everything within fifty kilometres.”

“It’s not a mine,” Grace said. “I call her the ultimate mini saboteur or Meredith, if you prefer. What Meredith does is if you attach her to anything mechanical, she sets off a reaction that turns its systems against themselves casing it to overload. If we can attach her to Y3, his systems will be fried. Or, at the very least, he’ll be writhing in agony long enough for you to dismantle him.”

“In other words, you’re saying one of us has to get close enough to him to attach it,” Lucy stated.

“I may be able to get close to him,” Yuri stated. “If I engage him in conversation.”

“I’m afraid that won’t work,” Grace said. “In order to get Meredith to stay attached even if someone attempts to remove her, like an android she’s been attached to, she’s designed to latch onto any machine she touches and then activate. If Yuri tries to hold her, she’ll activate.”

“I can not wear heavy gloves to block her activation?” Yuri queried.

Grace shook her head. “I thought Y3 would probably wear, you know, clothes, so I designed her to activate regardless of garments. Even if you were wearing a heavy duty spacesuit, she’d go off. It would weaken her effect, but she could still do some damage.”

“That’ll make things more difficult,” Lucy noted.

“He will not willingly allow any of you to approach him,” Yuri stated.

“But we do have strength in numbers,” Kat added. “If he’s trying to challenge you all as a group, someone may be able to sneak up on him and use Meredith.”

“I’ll take it,” Leon said. “And jam it right down his stupid throat.”

“Honey, someone with better stealth skills might be better suited for it,” Paul said.

“I can be stealthy,” Leon muttered.

“Me or Farah,” Lucy said. “Filorya and Leon are too… large and Yuri can’t touch it. It’s going to be a tough mission, but it’s our best chance.”

“I don’t mind taking Meredith,” Farah said.

“Well, I’ll take her for now,” Lucy said. “You’ll be our backup if I’m not in a good position to take her in.”

“Then we have a plan,” Ophelia said. “Leon, Yuri and Filorya will draw his attention. Lucy and Farah will find a way to touch him with Meredith. Lucy, Yuri, I’ll be counting on you two to come up with a strong contingency plan if that fails.”

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

True Chivalry Part Forty

First Chapter

Previous Chapter

Ida could feel her wound burning. It wasn’t that deep, but it seemed like the blade had been coated in something. A couple of her people helped her gallop back to the Amazons’ medical tent.

“We’ll inform your Lady of your injury,” one stated.

Ida could tell from her tone what she was thinking. She didn’t like the idea of Ida being involved with an Amazon. Especially one older than her and not even considered one of the better Amazonian warriors.

Ida let it go. She’d been prepared for that reaction when she’d pulled Caroline onto her back. And she wasn’t about to regret that decision. The way she saw it, she’d saved the life of a witty, honourable ally.

Susan began working on her wounds immediately. Examining the kunai cut and checking the weapon itself.

Caroline hurried in while the wound was still being dressed.

“How bad is it?” Caroline asked.

“The poison is designed for us, not centaurs. So, she’ll live. She’ll be feverish and feel sick to her stomach. But she’ll recover in a day or two.”

“Thank the Gods,” Caroline muttered. “We’ll have to come up with a way to protect our warriors from the poison, should any of them be hit by the Pyre Clan.”

“I’ll try to find a combination of herbs that will counter-act it,” Susan said. “But I suspect we’ll see some casualties before that happens.”

Ida listened to their whole exchange. Caroline looked and sounded genuinely concerned. She was acting her part very well. Unless, maybe, she actually did care for Ida as more than an ally.

Ida felt her cheeks flush at the thought. She had a lot to think about.

*****

“They appear to be retreating,” Elkroot pointed out. “Do we pursue?”

“Only long enough to take their little encampment,” Cassandra answered. “Once we have it, they won’t have anywhere to go besides back to their own kingdom.”

“Razing Torla won’t be easy,” Elkroot said. “They’ll be well protected.”

“We don’t absolutely need to raze it,” Cassandra pointed out. “Of course, we’ll have the chance to discuss that once we have them contained. For now, let’s force them back!

“Very well,” Elkroot agreed. “Discussion after.”

*****

Miranda held back, retreating very slowly and carefully. She had to hold out just long enough for the others to escape but not wait so long that she couldn’t join them.

It was a delicate balancing act, and she was well aware that it could easily mean her end or the deaths of some of her comrades if she failed.

Rachel and Petunia kept their forces moving forward. Amazons and centaurs alike.

“Their numbers seem to have dwindled,” Petunia observed.

“We’ll have their base camp soon, that’s for sure,” Rachel agreed. “And, I think, we have the opportunity for more.”

“You’re going after Dame Pienta?” Petunia asked.

Rachel smirked. “Right now, she doesn’t have the soldiers to stand up against us very well. If I can delay her retreat, she won’t stand a chance at getting away.” She pat Petunia’s shoulder. “You direct our warriors by yourself for a while. I’m going to see if we can’t put an end to one of Torla’s best.”

“Fine, but don’t you dare make me come to your rescue,” Petunia said.

“You worry too much,” Rachel stated. “I don’t even have to beat her one on one, just equal her long enough to leave her without hope of reinforcements or any strong allies around.”

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Voyages of the Cerberus 227

“Yuri, you find anything?” Kat asked.

“I have examined the laboratory for any signs of disturbance,” Yuri reported. “As far as I can ascertain, my brother went directly to the storage area, took Q9’s head and departed. He does not appear to have gone anywhere else nor to have left any traces.”

“Strange that he would be so careful not to leave any clues, but he also sent us so direct a challenge,” Lucy observed. “I suppose he’s just that confident that he can beat us.”

“It is a psychological tactic to cause the organic members of the crew undue duress,” Yuri stated. “There is also a high probability that he has set a trap of some kind.”

“But Grace didn’t find anything dangerous in that head,” Kat pointed out. “And neither did the Turing researchers.”

“She doesn’t mean like that,” Lucy said. “She means that he’s going to try and lure us into something. Which wouldn’t be nearly as easy if we didn’t know he’d been reactivated.”

“It is also possible that he has sent coordinates of some kind already,” Yuri stated. “But if he has, they will be hidden in that head. There is no other possible location at this juncture.”

“Everyone, return to the Cerberus,” Ophelia’s voice came in over the communicator. “Grace found a message in the head.”

*****

The entire Cerberus crew gathered to hear Grace’s announcement.

“So, when I powered on the head it gave me a message in ASCII,” Grace stated. “I had to look up the code and slow the message down to understand it, but I finally managed to translate it.”

“You could just tell us what it said without the explanation,” Leon pointed out.

“Brother in law, you’re a philistine,” Grace said. “Besides, I was getting to that. The message read simply: ‘Traitor, come to the place where it all began for us. I suggest solitude.”

“How is Yuri a traitor?” Filorya wondered.

“Because she sided with us,” Ophelia stated. “But what I don’t know is where he could be talking about. Weren’t you two built in this lab?”

“We were,” Yuri confirmed. “However, the early prototypes that eventually led to our construction were built elsewhere. That is likely where he is attempting to lure me.”

“And where was that?” Lucy asked.

“Perhaps it would be prudent of me to go alone,” Yuri stated. “It is certainly a trap.”

“Isn’t that all the more reason for us to go?” Farah asked. “There should be strength in numbers.”

“Besides, our big advantage is that he shouldn’t know about Filorya,” Ophelia pointed out.

“It will be highly perilous,” Yuri stated.

“We’re used to peril,” Kat said. “Maybe even more than you know, in spite of your time with us.”

“And I don’t abandon my friends under any circumstances!” Leon declared. “If this piece of shit wants to take on any member of this crew, I’ll kick his ass five galaxies over.” He glanced at Filorya. “Except maybe you, Newbie.”

“Leon that wasn’t necessary,” Paul chided.

“It doesn’t really bother me,” Filorya said. “I can’t expect that degree of loyalty when I’ve been here for such a short time.”

“Well, that’s enough of that,” Lucy said. “I think we’ve all made the point. We’re all going. So, Yuri, tell us where we’re going.”

“Our father’s initial laboratory after leaving Earth was in a swamp on Gamges Delta,” Yuri answered. “It is not an easy location to reach.”

“If memory serves, there are about seven creatures on Gamges Delta that are really deadly to humans,” Ophelia said.

“Nine,” Lucy corrected her. “But only five that you’d find in a swamp. Two reptiles, one amphibian, an insect and a mammal. Oh, and that’s not including plants. The Gamges system has some of the deadliest carnivorous plants in the galaxy.”

“Well, looks like the away team’s going to have to wear the heavy duty protective suits,” Ophelia said. “I also want every single one of you to read up on the deadly creatures and plants on Gamges Delta while we’re on the way. Paul, come up with treatment plans for injuries caused by any of them. Grace, try to finish that project to give them a weapon against Y3. Farah, Lucy, Filorya and Leon will all accompany Yuri on her trip to the lab. Grace will maintain the ship. Kat and I will stay behind both to monitor your progress and guard the Cerberus.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Leon said. “I guess I’ve got some reading to do.”

“Don’t forget to take time to rest,” Ophelia added. “It’ll take three days to reach our destination from here. I want you all prepared.”

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

True Chivalry Part Thirty Nine

First Chapter

Previous Chapter

Izuki made her move. She was nearly past the guards before they even noticed her.

That part, at least, went according to plan. What Izuki hadn’t accounted for was just how swiftly they moved to the defence of their leader.

Two centaurs positioned themselves between her and Ida, with no regard for their own lives.

She cut through the first, and into the second only to have him hold her blade fast, sinking it even more deeply into his flank so that she couldn’t easily extract it to strike at his leader.

Izuki moved back swiftly, but still took multiple arrows in the process.

She managed to make her retreat in spite of her injuries and the pain. All she had to do was start hurling kunai towards the centaur leader and watch as the guards rushed to shield her and treat her injuries from a few that found the mark.

They weren’t deep, fatal or crippling wounds, Izuki could tell but it gave her something to show for her own injuries. Shauna was definitely going to be angry when she returned. She was not looking forward to it.

*****

Maximilian was having a rough time. Every single moment he seemed to have gained a slight edge, Cassandra found some way to halt his advantage and put him back on the defensive.

As a younger man, he’d believed himself the strongest in the world. But he’d been humbled, swallowed his pride and learned from those who were better than him. Right now, he wished he was in a position where he could reasonably ask Cassandra for some pointers.

It wasn’t that he’d given up on their battle or even that he couldn’t beat her. If he could somehow divert her attention or just endure long enough to create an opening, he could win.

He simply had to acknowledge that she was the more skilled warrior in their battle. Maybe only by a small margin, but it was a clear fact.

“Captain!”

He and Cassandra both glanced.

Maximilian knew right away that something had gone wrong with the plan. Otherwise, Roderick wouldn’t have abandoned his post.

The Amazons immediately responded, firing arrows at both him and Roderick. He couldn’t blame them. If he was fighting an opponent he had a small edge over, he would hope that his people wouldn’t allow interference.

Maximilian retreated, grabbing Roderick and heading back to the safety of their line. “Tell me,” he demanded.

“They used magic to disperse the smokescreen close to immediately,” Roderick answered. “Captain, we’re at a huge disadvantage right now.”

“And you think it’s insurmountable?” Maximilian asked.

“No, but I believe the cost of turning things around would be far too great,” Roderick answered. “And it would very likely leave us in an even worse tactical position later on.”

“Very well,” Maximilian stated. “I’ll order the retreat. You start the evacuation and I’ll keep the line held as long as I can and join you.”

“All right, be careful out there,” Roderick said. He hurried to carry out his orders.

“I’ll get my people out as well,” Shauna stated.

Maximilian hadn’t seen her around but managed to keep the surprise from his face. He nodded. “Of course. We wouldn’t want our most worthy allies to be targeted during our retreat.”

He didn’t bother watching her leave. He had to focus on getting as many of his people out as he could.

*****

One by one, they saw the retreat signal. When Miranda and Frederick saw it, Izuki had just returned, injured, from her failed attempt to assassinate Ida.

“Help her get out of here,” Miranda ordered. “I’ll bring up the rear with some of my best people.”

“Shouldn’t I stay with you and we can get someone else to help her?” Frederick asked.

Miranda shook her head. “She’s an important part of the Pyre Clan’s forces. You’re the only one I can trust to make sure she gets out of here and gets her wounds treated.”

Frederick glanced from Miranda to the injured Izuki. “Very well. Just stay safe, okay?”

“I will, don’t worry,” Miranda stated.

*****

Judith, Aiko and Alicia were facing a full on charge when they saw the signal.

Aiko made her way over to Judith first. “So, what’s the plan?” she asked.

“Dreadful time for the retreat signal,” Judith stated, not actually answering Aiko’s question. “Really wish we’d gotten it earlier when we could have acted on it a lot more easily.”

“Yeah, it’s a pain,” Aiko said. “So, what are we doing?”

“Well, I guess I’ll bring up the rear since I’m in charge of this flank. You and Alicia can back me up with some of your best people. We’ll send the wounded and inexperienced back first and slowly make our way home. Hopefully, the Amazons will be satisfied with taking the encampment and won’t chase us all the way to Torla.”

“I’ll let Alicia know and we’ll meet you back here,” Aiko said.

The Torlan retreat had begun.

Next Chapter

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Voyages of the Cerberus 226

“What is this Y3-Q0?” Filorya asked.

“He’s an android like Yuri,” Ophelia answered. “When we first found the laboratory they were being kept in, he tried to kill us. If she hadn’t intervened on our behalf, he may well have succeeded.”

“Don’t remind me,” Farah said. “I really thought we’d destroyed him forever.”

“Wishful thinking on our part, it seems,” Ophelia said. “We really should have anticipated this possibility. If someone could have built him from a bunch of scrap parts, someone else could take his heavily damaged parts and repair them. Right now, we just have to figure out who, why and preferably where they are. I’d really rather find them before they come after us.”

“If they come, we will defeat them,” Filorya stated.

“I like the optimism, but I’d also like to be as prepared as possible,” Ophelia said. “Why don’t you two go into the armoury and see what we have that could work against a mechanical life forme like Yuri?”

“Didn’t we take something from the lab that was tailor made to use against her?” Farah asked. “I seem to remember Lucy insisting on it at the time.”

“We did,” Ophelia said. “We lost it when the last Cerberus was destroyed. Grace may still have the data somewhere, but we all fully trusted that Yuri wasn’t going to go berserk or otherwise turn against us at that point and we didn’t really think to build a new one. But I will have her look through her things to see if she can find it once she’s done examining the head.”

*****

Lucy examined the ground carefully. She was concentrating so hard her eyes were firmly opened.

“See anything useful?” Kat inquired.

Lucy shook her head. “The last people to land here before us used a very cheap, standard shuttle. No defining markers and far too many identical ones out there for it to be a real lead. And the only footprints I can see, besides ours, are Y3’s. When he came for that head, he either came alone or left his companions on the shuttle.”

“You sure they’re his?” Kat asked.

“Yes,” Lucy answered. Both Y3 and Yuri have feet designed to look human, but they’re much heavier so the prints sink deeper than they should for their size.”

“Well, let’s hope Grace finds something in that head, or Yuri finds something inside that we didn’t notice earlier,” Kat said.

“We should catch up to Yuri,” Lucy stated. “If Y3 got left behind, he could try to deal with us one at a time.”

*****

Ophelia’s scan didn’t turn up anything. If there were any ships, they were using really good stealth technology. She wasn’t prepared to relax. Y3 could be anywhere and they wouldn’t know.

On one hand, it seemed unlikely that he’d try to challenge them by himself. Especially after last time. But she wasn’t going to discount the prospect that he had something up his sleeve. She certainly wasn’t prepared to risk the people she cared about by doing something so foolish as getting careless.

Vigilance would be the key.

*****

Leon watched Paul prepare the medical bay for potential injuries. He tried not to stare at his ass too much, but during times like this he was always proud of himself for landing a man like him. Paul wasn’t a fighter, but he kept himself in damn good shape.

“Leon, shouldn’t you be on the Bridge with the others?” Paul asked.

“Probably,” Leon said. “But I’m a little nervous that that android is gonna sneak aboard. And if I were him, I’d start by making sure the enemy would have a much harder time treating their injuries.”

Paul gave Leon a gentle smile. “Leon, he wants you all to be nervous and on edge. He’s hoping to wind you up and then have it interfere with you when things are actually crucial. You need to try and relax and just perform your duties. Okay?”

“You sound so certain of that,” Leon noted.

“Well, it makes the most sense,” Paul said. “He could have easily found a way to ambush us before we even knew he was reactivated. But, instead, he sent us a very deliberate message that he must have known Yuri would recognise. The most likely reason is that he thinks it’s more tactically valuable to get the crew on edge than to have the element of surprise.”

Leon whistled. “You would have made a pretty solid soldier, if you could bring yourself to hurt people.”

“Well,” Paul said. The Universe seems to have an over-abundance of people who can readily and deliberately cause harm to others. I guess I’m just an anomaly.” He nodded towards the door. “Go on. Even an android couldn’t sneak on board without tripping our alarms. And do try to relax a little bit.”

“Fine, for you,” Leon said. He gave Paul a quick hug. “If this is a prolonged thing, you’re going to have to help me relax a little later.”

“I will light the candles and wear that cologne you like,” Paul promised. “But you have to try and keep a cool head.”

“Deal,” Leon agreed.

*****

Grace started by examining the head thoroughly. Then she tried connecting it to a small, isolated and easily disconnected power source.

She wasn’t willing to hook it up to her ship and risk triggering some kind of trap.

The head immediately let out a series of beeps and stopped.

Grace disconnected it and watched the video. There was a pattern to the beeps. Something oddly familiar.

She listened again.

Morse code? No, that wasn’t it. She snapped her fingers. ASCII! It was heavily sped up, but that was definitely it. She quickly slowed down the video and went to work with the translation.

 

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

True Chivalry Part Thirty Eight

First Chapter

Previous Chapter

Cassandra heard the people around her cry out. She recognised the warrior approaching her. Maximilian Jhunta, Captain of Torla’s forces and, by all accounts, their greatest warrior.

It was a move that made sense. They’d tried defeating her with numbers. Now, they’d try with the best they had to offer. She briefly considered sending the strongest soldiers she had nearby against him to see what he could do, but if the rumours were true, they wouldn’t survive. Besides, she was confident that he couldn’t beat her one on one.

Cassandra went out to meet Maximilian. The pair didn’t bother with formalities. Maximilian rushed at her with his blades slicing and thrusting. She quickly blocked his strikes and countered with her own. He blocked with one blade and moved to slash with his other. She evaded the blow with frustrating ease and the pair continued their deadly dance.

*****

Aiko approached Judith and Alicia while the pair were working desperately to get their forces into place.

“I’ve got a strong group ready to join the battle,” she reported. She noticed the looks on their faces. “Something wrong?”

“It’s really terrible,” Judith said. “We lost Sir Napon! Can you believe it? I always saw him as a strong, unbeatable knight while growing up. I may not have trained myself if not for him and Hector Pienta were such a powerful duo. And now he’s…” She was openly crying at that point.

Alicia pat her shoulders. “Well, that’s how it is. The old man lost a duel against one of the Amazon leaders.  We could definitely use your help since they’re going to attack soon.”

“I’ve got it,” Aiko stated. “I’ll do whatever you need me to. Let’s take the Amazons down for ourselves and for him.”

“I like the sound of that,” Alicia said.

“As do I,” Judith agreed. “I can think of no more fitting memorial for a great man like George than to go out and do our utmost for Torla in his memory. After all, he fought hard for the kingdom his entire life. We can’t very well let it down now, can we?”

“You could have just agreed, you know?” Alicia stated. “Well, I guess I don’t dislike your wordiness.”

“Here they come!” Aiko cried out. The three women rallied their troops and moved to meet the Amazon attack.

*****

Moving around the Amazons and Centaurs wasn’t too difficult. They very clearly weren’t expecting a single person to try and get behind them.

Careless.

It should have been common knowledge for anyone facing the Pyre clan that any methods necessary would be used for victory. Even if it meant sacrificing or greatly risking one of their own elites on a risky solo mission.

Although Izuki knew that if Shauna found out she’d gone behind enemy lines on her own to try and strike down one of their leaders, she’d be furious.

Shauna only approved of risky operations when they had a strong chance of success or when the situation was truly dire.

Still, she was confident that she could do it, or at the very least survive the attempt. At the very least, she had to try.

If things kept going the way they were, Torla would be forced back and the Amazons would gain a significant upper hand. That was the way the battle was flowing.

If she could assassinate the centaur leader, it could very well be the ripple that turned into a wave to extinguish their momentum. And she was willing to risk her own life to that end.

The centaur leader had about a half dozen guards very close to her. And many more between her and the rear. To stand a chance, Izuki would have to rush through before anyone knew what was happening, land a lethal blow and quickly escape while she was being pursued.

It wouldn’t be easy, but it was doable and she had every intention of making it happen.

*****

Roderick watched the smokescreen rise. Soon, the Pyre clan would move into position and then they could collapse the Amazon front. All they had to do was proceed according to plan.

That was when several strong wind spells struck, dissipating the smoke and forcing the front line soldiers into bracing themselves. A few who were on less stable footing even fell over.

The Amazons wasted no time in taking advantage of the distraction. The Torlan front line was quickly diminished. By the time they’d regained a measure of stability, they were at a grave disadvantage.

It didn’t take long before Shauna found him. “The plan’s failed,” she reported. “Unless you can find some way to stop their magic users, we won’t be getting near those trees.”

Roderick thought for a moment. “Please, help reinforce the front. I’m going to the Captain’s side.”

“Think you two can take their queen?” Shauna asked. She sounded almost amused at the prospect.

“No, not under these circumstances,” Roderick answered. “But I fear we’re going to have to retreat and only Captain Jhunta is permitted to make that call in the heat of battle. Which means I have to go retrieve him.”

“I’ll see if my people can’t turn the tides at the front,” Shauna stated. “After all, I do greatly dislike the idea of running away.”

Roderick nodded. “Fortune to both of us then.”

Next Chapter

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Voyages of the Cerberus 225

The Cerberus docked at Turing station.

“So, why exactly did you call us here?” Ophelia queried.

“I’ll allow Meiling to explain,” Femi stated. “Just follow me, please.”

Ophelia glanced at Lucy who simply shrugged.

Femi seemed oddly tense. Something clearly bothered her and Ophelia was certain it was related to the reason they’d called them over.

She and Lucy followed Femi to Meiling’s laboratory. Ophelia saw it right away. On the table was a broken up head that looked exactly like Yuri’s.

“I found it during an expedition on Endurion Delta,” Meiling explained. “All dating methods have proven unreliable since the material is treated with substances to prevent degradation. But we thought we’d call you guys since… well…”

“We’ll go get Yuri and have her look at it,” Ophelia stated.

*****

Yuri turned the head over with some interest.

“Is it yours?” Ophelia asked.

“Negative. It is one of the Professor’s failed attempts at constructing my head,” Yuri answered. “This is the head designated Y4-Q9. It is close to my specifications but it is distinct and does not function.”

“Well, looks like no time travel shenanigans for us,” Lucy joked.

“Truthfully, I’m relieved,” Ophelia stated. “But why was it on one of Meiling’s digs? And no where near the laboratory where we found you?”

“This head was in the Laboratory when we left,” Yuri stated. “Which means either someone looted the laboratory, took it and discarded it or…”

“Or it was deliberately left as a message,” Lucy finished. “Someone knew about our connection to Turing and used them to deliver a message to us.”

“It would adequately explain the crude damage,” Yuri stated. “I would recommend that we return to the laboratory. There is a theory I would like to test.”

*****

On board the Cerberus, Yuri met with Grace. She held Baron Wolfgang. The small dog kept excitedly jumping to lick her face.

“It’s like something out of an old mafia film,” Grace stated. “Except they’d always use the heads of livestock in their threats.” She glanced at Yuri, “So, what are you expecting to find?”

“I am going to examine the spot where I buried Y3-Q0,” Yuri stated. “I believe it probable that he was located and re-activated.”

“But he hated organics, wouldn’t he pose a threat to the people who de-activated him?” Grace asked.

“It depends,” Yuri stated. “My Brother is not a fool. He attacked your crew because there were very few of you and he believed that he could emerge victorious. He would not risk a direct confrontation with a sizeable group. However, if he was repaired by a small group, we can assume they are already dead and he is in possession of their ship. Of course, that is only if my hypothesis is correct. We will find out for certain when we arrive.”

*****

Lucy and Kat accompanied Yuri on her trip to the surface.

The laboratory was in the same condition they’d left it. Damage from their battle with Y3 and all. Yuri found the markers easily enough.

The Professor’s grave showed signs of having been disturbed. Y3’s was outright opened.

“Looks like they checked both graves and reburied the Professor,” Kat observed.

“I’ll look around, maybe I can find traces of the ship that was used,” Lucy said. “There can’t have been too many landing here since the lab was undisturbed aside from the prototype Yuri head being taken.”

“It is probable that the only visitors were the ones who dug up my brother and the ship he used to retrieve the Q9 head,” Yuri stated.

“Cerberus, come in,” Kat reported.

“What do you need, Kat?” Ophelia asked.

“We’ve confirmed that Y3 has been taken and very likely reactivated,” Kat answered. “We’re going to check the area for clues.”

“It would be beneficial if Grace could check the prototype head,” Yuri stated. “There may be a hidden message of some kind on it.”

“I’ll have her look into it,” Ophelia said. “Be careful. I don’t fancy the idea of a killer android with a grudge coming after you on the surface. Just in case, we’ll do a detailed scan for any ships or life forms in the area, but we won’t pick up Y3 if he is there.”

“We know.  We’ll be careful,” Kat said.

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

True Chivalry Part Thirty Seven

First Chapter

Previous Chapter

Patricia watched the rear carefully. There didn’t appear to be any Amazons or their allies giving chase, but she wasn’t about to relax her guard.

“I should go,” Janice stated. “I was about to be released any way.”

Patricia shook her head. “If you’re well, you can help me guard the rear.”

Janice didn’t argue. She glanced towards Reo, Francis and Alexander. “Hard to believe they couldn’t beat the queen.”

“She’s a strong woman,” Patricia stated. “Has to be. If an Amazon queen weakens, she gets challenged and replaced. I just hope that the treatment we can give Alex while we’re on the road will be enough. Probably the only ones who would stand a real chance against her are the captain and maybe Miss Shauna.”

“Are his wounds that bad?” Janice wondered.

“Honestly, I don’t know how he’s still alive,” Patricia said. “Her strike was close to instantly fatal and having the treatment delayed really doesn’t help.”

“He’ll pull through,” Janice stated. “He may need time to recover, but he’s resilient.”

“I hope so,” Patricia stated. “We’ll need all the strength we can get.”

*****

“Her people should be ready in twenty minutes,” Roderick gave the reminder more for himself and his own ease at mind than for his captain.

Maximilian nodded. He glanced warily at the front. It looks like they’re going to start an all out attack pretty soon. They’re in position for it. How will that impact our plan?”

“We should still be able to pull it off,” Roderick stated. “We’ll just have to act like the smokescreen is a tool to strike at their flank, rather than a cover for our own offensive.”

Maximilian nodded. He looked out at the battlefield and put a hand on Roderick’s shoulder. “Stay here and guide our gambit. I have to get out there.”

“Sir?” Roderick asked.

“Their queen has taken to the field,” Maximilian stated. “She’s already cut down a dozen good soldiers. If I don’t get out there and halt her, we’ll lose both soldiers and morale.”

“Shouldn’t I come with you?” Roderick asked.

Maximilian shook his head. “We need someone to make the plan work. That’s you.”

He drew his blades and moved purposefully towards Cassandra.

*****

“So, they’ve got the body. Do we move in now?” Lynn queried. She already had her scythe readied.

“Give them a moment,” Rose stated. “At least long enough to get it secured where it won’t be trodden upon or otherwise damaged.”

“Maybe I should ask the one you thought was leading them for a duel,” Lynn suggested. Or is it bad form to challenge a second commander in the enemies’ army?”

“Only if your side’s already won a major duel in that battle,” Rose stated. “Which means it’s on them to challenge us now.”

“Seems a silly rule to me,” Lynn muttered. “I mean, war is war.”

“But after the war ends, the survivors must be able to co-exist,” Ivy said. “Hence why it’s poor form.”

“Well, it’s academic any way,” Rose said. “Get the Ladies ready. We’re pushing forward with all our might in eight minutes.”

*****

“Dame Pienta, I would request a moment of your time,” Izuki said.

“There’s no need for formalities,” Miranda said. “Your people are our valued allies and I am not your superior.”

“No, you are,” Izuki stated. “Mistress Shauna has made it clear that we are to treat yourself and Sir Jhunta as though you had the same authority as her.”

Miranda nodded. “All right. You have my permission to speak freely.”

Izuki bowed. “I believe I have located the centaur leader. I would request your leave to try and take her head.”

“Isn’t it better if we keep to the defensive for the time being?” Frederick chimed in.

“He may be correct,” Miranda mused. “Going after the centaur’s leader seems an unnecessary risk.”

“If I may plead my case,” Izuki began “the best defence is a strong offence, trite though that saying is. Right now the centaurs are a strong, ordered force. Should their leader fall, they will be enraged. They will become fiercer, but so much less controlled and weaker. By the time they have reigned themselves in, their numbers will likely be significantly dwindled. Is the chance to cripple the enemy not worth risking myself?” She stared directly into Miranda’s eyes. “Besides, I am confident that I can, at the very least, escape if I fail.”

“All right,” Miranda agreed. “Permission granted. Just try and return, okay?”

Izuki nodded and was swiftly out of sight.

*****

Aiko took a moment to scout the various fronts. She’d gathered her soldiers and wanted to go wherever she could make the most difference. There was an obvious problem of some kind on the right flank.

In a sense, she was relieved. She definitely didn’t want to face Cassandra again. But she’d also really wanted to fight alongside Miranda. Oh well, it was time for them to go into action.

Next Chapter

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Borrowed Boat Part Fourteen

Hilde had one important question on her mind. How would they test all the villagers that looked like her using a single plant? Getting them to consume it would be the obvious method. But she was fairly certain wolfsbane was deadly to humans when ingested.

They couldn’t just touch it against every single person’s forehead. Not without some way of marking everyone they’d done it to. Although that could work given that everyone was acting under some kind of magical influence.

The problem would be finding some way to mark people that the werewolf wouldn’t notice and be able to replicate.

The other problem was the vampire. They hadn’t found any of her weaknesses. Finding her feeding seemed like a long shot. Unless they could find some way to make one of them seem attractive prey for her.

Conveying her musings to Bianca took more time and effort than she would have liked. Hilde already felt like she’d spent weeks on the trials. Though, in reality, she’d only been in Susanoo’s pocket dimensions for a day.

Ultimately, Bianca agreed to deal with the vampire, writing that she had a foolproof plan to draw her out. Hilde had the beginnings of a plan to get the werewolf.

She wasn’t a hundred percent confident that it would work, but it was their best shot at finishing it quickly.

*****

Bianca’s plan was simple. She cut herself. It wasn’t something she enjoyed or particularly wanted to do, but the scent of fresh blood, especially a witch’s, would pose a tempting target for a vampire. From there, she journeyed up to the castle and slumped over at the nearest convenient spot.

It didn’t take long for her to get a response. It would have been difficult, if not impossible, for an ordinary human to avoid being bitten while deprived of their hearing. But Bianca was a witch and her defensive spells were more than adequate to protect her.

It was odd, seeing someone who looked just like her drooling and hesitating over whether to escape or try to feed.

Bianca didn’t hesitate. A quick freezing spell was enough to halt the vampire’s movements. The vampire was trying very hard to free herself. Bianca didn’t let her. A strong fire pillar spell finished it.

Unfair? Perhaps. It was true that your average vampire didn’t stand much chance against a completely prepared witch. Not that it mattered. Bianca just wanted to end the trial and wrap up the case. She wanted to cuddle up with Hilde and watch one of those cartoons Hilde liked that she never paid much attention to. Just because Hilde was adorable when she was completely engrossed in something.

*****

While Bianca was finishing the vampire, a building was burning in the village square.

Even with whatever trance was on the townspeople, they still gathered around.

The werewolf watched from a rooftop. She knew Hilde’s plan. She’d been watching her and Bianca.

She’d gather the people together, then sprinkle the wolfsbane. The werewolf was certain that’s why Hilde had set the fire. Wouldn’t she be surprised when no one reacted and she used up her trump card for nothing? She’d have to act at random, almost certainly slaying an innocent and failing her little trial.

Now, where would she sprinkle the plant from?

The werewolf was watching when she smelled something foul in the air. She couldn’t react fast enough to avoid a face full of wolfsbane. She gagged and sputtered, realising that Hilde had used the smoke and fire as a distraction to find the town person who kept a distance and that she’d also used it to cover her own scent so she could get close.

Unfortunately for her, it was too late to do anything about it. She was weakened by the wolfsbane and Hilde had plenty of time to aim her Luger and fire.

*****

In a swirl of mist, both Hilde and Bianca were returned to Susanoo, Sakura and Taura.

So, you passed my little test. As promised, I shall return the Kappa to their home. 

“Thank you,” Hilde said. “May I ask a question?”

One more, and only one. 

“Why did you bring the kappa here?” Hilde asked.

There is a war brewing in these streets. One which may not involve, but does interest me. I suspect that you, your witch and your faerie will find it very concerning, though. Consider that a fair warning. 

Susanoo vanished. Taking Taura, the other kappa and his entire set up with him.

“Will we be okay?” Sakura queried.

“We’ll survive,” Hilde said. “And if it’s a big thing, we’ll find out. Being in the position we are.”

Bianca draped herself across Hilde’s back. “We’ll worry about it later. Let’s go home.”

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

True Chivalry part Thirty Six

First Chapter

Previous Chapter

“I am Sir George Napon, eldest and most experienced of Torla’s Elite!” George called out. “And you are?”

“Rose Gardess, War Leader of Preklam.” Rose answered. She dismounted her horse and pointed her lance at him. “I won’t take it easy on you.”

George drew his broad sword. “I wouldn’t request it of you. All I ask is that you keep your word.”

“My Ladies have their orders and they won’t see me disgraced,” Rose stated. “Does that satisfy you?”

“Then, we can begin,” George said. “Torlan style duel or Preklam style?”

“Torlan style is to walk away from each other and then rush at one another isn’t it?” Rose asked. “I would say our style wastes less time.”

“Agreed,” George stated.

The two combatants stepped towards each other, touched the tips of their weapons and immediately went into their battle. Rose was the faster of the two, thrusting several times with her lance immediately.

George barely managed to parry the blows. He knew he couldn’t afford to stay on the defensive. She was younger, more vigorous and stronger than him. He’d have to use his greater experience and all of his skills to end the duel quickly.

He used a feint, taking a stance like he was going to strike at the heart and switched targets mid-swing, going for the head. Her lance pushed his blade aside and she headbutted him.

George countered by slamming the hilt of his sword into her gut. He didn’t have a good angle to hit her with the actual blade, but he knew that would hurt, even with the armour.

Unfortunately for him, it didn’t hurt Rose enough to stagger her. She slammed the side of her lance against his face. He rolled back, managing to save himself from her follow up thrust.

Rose didn’t let up. She continued to strike at him as he went back on the defensive. He needed to somehow create an opening. He knew that much definitively. If he couldn’t finish her quickly, he would most definitely lose both the duel and his life and if any Torlan soldier stood a chance of speaking with the king and persuading him to take a diplomatic route, it was him.

The first step was beating the opponent in front of him. Which wasn’t going to be easy. She was strong, highly aggressive and would have been a match for him at his peak more than forty years ago. He only had one chance. It was risky, but it was also the only trump card he had.

When Rose made her next thrust, George did the unexpected and moved forward. He took a lance wound in the side, but he was able to control the angle and aim a slash directly for Rose’s head.

She responded more quickly than he’d anticipated, kicking him back, regaining full control of her lance. While he was staggered, she impaled him.

George’s final thoughts were squarely on his oldest friend. “I’m sorry, Hector,” he thought. “I couldn’t protect your grand daughter, or the treaty you worked so hard for.” He was vaguely aware of his body being pushed off of Rose’s lance and slumping to the ground. The next thing he knew, a pale, androgynous figure with snow white hair was reaching out to him.

Rose stepped away from George’s body. “Let the Torlans take their dead,” she ordered. “We’ll go after them in force after they’ve had their chance to deal with that.”

Lynn looked at Rose’s forehead. “Looks like he scratched you pretty hard.”

Rose nodded. “Thankfully, he didn’t manage to cut too deep. If he’d been a little faster, it would be my body on the ground back there.”

“Well, good thing he wasn’t,” Lynn said. “We’ll just have to be grateful that another of their elites is down.”

Ivy stepped forward with a clean cloth to wrap around Rose’s forehead. “Make sure you let Susan look at that later,” she said. “Wouldn’t want it to get infected.”

“I understand,” Rose said. “We’ll just finish the battle first.”

*****

“I thought the old guy had her for a second there,” Alicia muttered. “We’ll have to watch out for that one.”

“We can’t talk bout that right now!” Judith declared. “We have to get his body, have it taken back to Torla and buried. Oh, we’ll have to let the Captain and Vice Captain know. We’ll also need to figure out how to hold them back. They won’t stay away for very long especially when they’ve got the advantage. We should also…”

“Hush,” Alicia said. “For now, we’ll retrieve his body and figure out how to stop their advance. The rest of that stuff can come later, okay?”

“Well, I suppose that makes sense,” Judith said.

Next Chapter

 

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments