Tag Archives: Post-Apocalyptic

NaNoWriMo Excerpt

Woohoo!  NaNoWriMo 2012!  I have a new idea for this year, and by golly, I’m going to finish it.  For your edification, here is the synopsis and an excerpt from my novel, Deadly (working title).

Society failed. The downward slide continued, growing exponentially worse, until no government could restrain human desire. Settlements are no longer formed around resources or strategic locations, but are merely large groups of people with the same desire.

Envy. Gluttony. Greed. Lust. Pride. Sloth. Wrath. Seven sins, in six American cities. But it is not as simple as it seems.

For when society descended into madness, our world became a much more suitable home for demons. They manifest themselves fully, in physical forms, wearing a human disguise like a second skin. Seven demons, each spreading the deadly sin they embody.

But all is not lost. A small band of holy warriors, cryogenically frozen at a time before debauchery became the norm, has now been woken, a single light in a world of darkness. Can this small troupe defeat the seven deadly sins and bring America out of the dark? Or will they succumb to the evil that the masses have so willingly embraced?

A little context for the excerpt:  the first city they travel to seems to be the city of Wrath, and is centered around a giant metal/punk concert.  They find the person in town who can help them (Charlie Daniels III) and then this:

Mark watched as the older man climbed the stairs up to the stage, fiddle in hand. He tapped one of the guitarists on the shoulder, ignoring the laughing and jeering of the crowd. With a flourish, he pulled the bow out of his belt and pulled it across the strings. He gave the drummer a questioning look, and recieved a nod in return, before the drummer kicked off the song.

The crowd’s jeers faded as they listened to an old, old song, one most of them knew, one that the true music fan in them all could appreciate.

“The Devil went down to Georgia, he was looking for a soul to steal. He was in a bind, ‘cause he was way behind, he was willing to make a deal. So when he came across a young man, sawin’ on a fiddle and playin’ it hot, the Devil jumped up on a hickory stump and said ‘Boy, let me tell you what!’”

Mark smirked beneath his mask as he listened, feeling the song was highly appropriate. He carefully watched the others on stage, looking for reactions that would indicate which of them was the demon in charge. The bassist and backup guitarist played when the time came for them. Nothing suspicious there. But the vocalist darted backstage to retrieve an electric fiddle and play the Devil’s part of the song. His smirk widened. Gotcha.

He pushed his way through the crowd, signalling for Kukri to get ready. As she slipped around the edges of the stadium, heading for the same stairs Charlie had used, Mark reached over his shoulder and pulled his grenade launcher out of its holster. He readied the large weapon, bracing it against his shoulder, waiting for Charlie to finish his last verse.

“Well the Devil bowed his head, because he knew that he’d been beat, and he laid that golden fiddle down on the ground at Johnny’s feet. Johnny said, ‘Devil just come on back, if you ever wanna try again. I done told you once, you son of a bitch, I’m the best there’s ever been!’”

As the last word faded, Mark fired. The shell slammed into the vocalist’s chest, exploding into an intense, yet compact ball of white fire, the shockwave knocking everyone on stage to the ground. The microphone picked up the explosion, amplifying it into a shockwave that shattered the speakers and slammed into the audience, sending the first few rows flying away from the stage. Mark leapt up as soon as the shockwave passed, flying over the dazed fans and landing squarely on the scorch mark in the middle of the stage. His gaze fell on the scorched, blasted body of the vocalist, his chest split open, revealing deep red beneath it.

The body twitched, and then lurched to its feet. “You… insolent… MORTAL!” The vocalist dug his blackened fingers into the edges of the gaping wound, tearing away the skin. He roared, bloody red light sparking out like lightning as the demon swelled to his full size, tossing the mortal coil away easily. He stood eight feet at the shoulder, his red scales rippling with the mighty muscles beneath them, his fearsome visage composed of four gleaming yellow eyes and a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth, all topped by a pair of deadly-looking horns. His spiked tail lashed behind him, shattering the wooden boards of the stage. “I shall devour you for all eternity!”

Mark fired his grenade launcher again, directly into the demon’s face. It staggered back, wiping the shrapnel away and bellowing in rage.

The crowd had long since begun to flee, and by now the stadium was mostly empty. Mark whirled when he heard running footsteps coming up the stairs onstage.

A man in a black and grey pinstriped suit and fedora stood there, scowling. “Dammit, Wrath! What the heaven did you do here?”

Wrath snarled. “This MORTAL attacked me! Wrecked my human suit!”

“The boss isn’t going to like this.” The man removed his fedora and tossed it aside, revealing small devil horns jutting out of his short black hair. “Well, mortal, since it seems like you know all about us, there’s no point in hiding.” He grinned wickedly, pulling a pair of katana out of thin air. “You’ve already met Wrath. I’m Greed. And you’re dead.” He leapt forward, blades whipping through the air.

Mark leapt into a backflip, avoiding the slashes by mere inches, only to land right in the path of Wrath’s powerful punch. He rolled with it as best he could and skidded to a stop at the edge of the stage, clutching his side. Greed moved in, thinking he could finish him off easily, his katana glinting as he struck.

Sparks flew as a pair of wickedly curved daggers blocked his swords, and then a leather boot slammed into his face. He staggered back, shaking his head to clear it, glaring at the newcomer. Kukri smirked at him. “That all you got?” she taunted him as she twirled the daggers that were her namesake.

Greed chuckled and lunged forward, his twin blades matching hers in a dazzling dance of steel. Wrath meanwhile bull-rushed Mark, his horns hooking under his arms and lifting him into the air as Wrath dove off the stage, slamming him into the stadium seating. Mark groaned and forced himself to roll away as Wrath smashed his fists into the chairs.

This one’s huge, but still fast. I’ve got to get some distance. He drew his twin pistols, firing at Wrath’s four eyes as he backed away, the fifty-caliber slugs hammering the demon’s thick hide. Two of the bullets struck home, piercing his unguarded eyes. He reeled back and covered his eyes as he bellowed in pain.

Mark took the opportunity to pull the minigun from its harness on his back, and to glance over to see how Kukri fared against Greed. She had several nicks on her arms, but she fought on, and Greed looked far more battered than she. But demons could take far more punishment than humans. He shifted back to Wrath, pulling the trigger on his minigun and waiting for the spinning barrels to reach the required speed. He needed to finish off Wrath and help Kukri fight Greed.

The big demon had recovered faster than he’d anticipated, and stood, beginning to charge him. Before Wrath reached him, the minigun opened up, a torrent of hot lead pouring into him, staggering him. He growled, holding up one large, clawed hand to shield his face, slowly fighting forward against the onslaught.

Mark let go of the minigun with his left hand, still holding down the trigger, and pulled out one his powerful pistols again, reloading it with one of the clips on his belt. As Wrath drew closer, he took careful aim at the demon’s vulnerable spots, which it was guarding from the minigun. Mark fired again and again, emptying the five shots of his revolver. Two to the eyes, three to the point on the demon’s underbelly where his scales left a small point unguarded.

Wrath bellowed in rage and fury, now completely blinded and bleeding from the wound in his belly. He thrashed about blindly, his spiked tail creating a large circle of destruction around him. Mark leapt away, landing on the stage behind Greed.

The smaller demon whirled, swinging his katanas at his head and chest. Mark held up his minigun, blocking both blades, and kicked the demon hard in the chest, sending him staggering onto Kukri’s knives. He coughed up blood, but twisted away, taking her knives with him. He lunged for her, expecting her to be unarmed, but she pulled two more knives and blocked his strikes, pushing his swords down and kicking him in the chest, where her knives had already left wounds.

Greed hissed in pain, staggering away, but he strayed into range of Mark’s metal knuckles. Mark took advantage of this, striking hard at his kidney with one hand and his temple with the other. Both connected. Greed stumbled, falling to one knee. Kukri straddled him from behind and pulled both knives across his throat, nearly decapitating him. He fell, blood pooling under him.

Wrath leapt onto the stage, his eyes leaking blood, but partially regenerated. He looked down at Greed’s body and roared, clenching his fists. “You killed him. YOU KILLED HIM!” He charged forward, claws reaching for them.

Mark rolled across the stage, grabbing the katanas and coming up in a crouch, under the beast’s hands, and braced the katanas against the stage. Wrath stopped short, impaled on the demon-metal katanas. He slowly fell to the ground, trapping Mark under his huge weight. Mark wiggled and shoved his way out from under it, slowly standing.

“Two down. Five to go.”

Please comment with encouragements, thoughts, critiques, questions, suggestions, or anything else you might want to say.

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Snow White and the Seven ‘Droids

So.  This is the first Grim Fairy Tale I’ve written.  Here’s your teaser, ladies and gents.  If you want to know what happens next, you’ll have to remember to buy my book when I publish it.

The sun wasn’t shining.  It hadn’t shone for years, not really.  Not since the nuclear fire had filled the skies with ash and smoke and dust nearly twenty years ago. 

Snow White shivered as she stepped out of her warm shelter.  A biting wind swept down from the nearby mountains, cutting through her ragged dress.  Lamia, the consort of the chief, had ordered her to fetch wood and stoke the fire, and Lamia could not be disobeyed.

Sharp stones pricked her feet as she went to the tribe’s woodpile.  She gathered as much as she could, her slender arms surprisingly strong; this was far from the first time she had been ordered to do this.  As she returned to the tent, she saw Lamia and the chief still sound asleep.  That was a relief.  If Lamia awoke before the fire was ready, she would have beaten Snow White for sure.

Her silvery hair cascaded down around her shoulders as she stacked the wood over the glowing embers.  The color of her hair was part of her namesake.  In addition, her skin was pale white, flawless as alabaster, and her eyes were such a light blue as to be almost white themselves. 

The fire popped, and Snow White hissed softly as a flurry of sparks landed on her hand, and she pulled it back quickly.  She looked at the burns on her hand.  Far from the first she had received; mercifully, they had never scarred.  For some reason, that lack of scarring had infuriated Lamia, and she had pressed Snow White ever harder.

As though she had felt Snow White’s thoughts, Lamia stirred in her bed, her eyes opening as Snow White scurried into the shadows of the tent.  She sat up and slipped out from under her furs, careful not to disturb the chief, and beckoned for Snow White to follow her outside. 

Snow White obeyed, a little dubious.  Lamia usually didn’t hide her beatings, so if she wanted to be alone, this was doubtless something worse. 

“You’re sixteen today, Snow White.”

The young girl blinked in surprise.  She had forgotten.  “Yes, I suppose I am.”

“You’re growing up.”  Lamia walked around her, running her gaze over the girl critically, yet not finding anything to criticize.  Her countenance darkened.  “It won’t be long before the chief notices you.”

“Me?”  Snow White shook her head, her hair rippling in silver waves.  “I’m not that lovely.  Not like you.”

Her modesty and meekness only made Lamia angrier.  “I won’t let anyone take my place as consort.”  She snapped her fingers, and two of the biggest, dumbest men in the tribe came out of the tent next to the chief’s.

Snow White took a step back.  “What’s going on?”

“I can kill two birds with one stone.  The only girl who can steal my place will disappear, and we’ll have fresh meat for the festival tomorrow.”  Lamia’s dark eyes glittered as she watched Snow White’s mouth fall open in horror.  “Take her.”

The men advanced, and Snow White turned and ran into the wastes.  She heard the men chasing her, but they quickly gave up.  Snow White was small and strong and fleet.  Besides, what point would there be in spending all day hunting her down?  Radioactivity and chill would finish her just as well.

As soon as she was sure she was alone, Snow White fell to her knees and wept.  She could never go back to the village.  Whatever Lamia’s reason for hatred, she always hated with a passion.  By now, lies would be circulating through the village.  They would all follow Lamia’s orders and attack and either capture or kill Snow White if she tried to return.  It had happened before… and Snow White was now ashamed that she had believed the lies.

No time for pity and self-recrimination now, though.  She had to keep moving.  Ahead of her, to the north, lay the unexplored mountains.  To the south, the village.  To the east and west, slightly less barren forests.  Her fellow tribesmen hunted those forests; she couldn’t go there.  North, then.  The only direction that didn’t guarantee death.

She started off, aiming directly for the highest peak in the mountains.  The dust of the plains blew into her face, blinding and choking her.  The wind that carried it was cold, biting.  Already she was beginning to feel queasy; the first sign that she had taken in too much radiation.  Whatever was giving it off had to be ahead of her, in her path.  Just one more thing conspiring to kill her.

For hours, nothing changed.  The landscape was flat, the weather was hostile, and every step she took seemed harder.  Suddenly she grabbed onto a nearby rock, as her guts roiled, nausea welling up violently.  She somehow had the presence of mind to grab her hair and hold it back as her stomach emptied itself of its meager contents.  Shaking, she pushed off the rock and tried to move on.  She hadn’t made it far before she realized she was climbing a slight hill.  The crest was only a few feet away.

Snow White pulled herself up over it, standing and looking down.  Beneath her, she saw a huge pit, perfectly round, stretching out across the plain.  She could practically see the radiation emanating off it.  Her dizziness and nausea struck her hard, and she collapsed, lifeless, at the edge of ground zero.

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Grim Fairy Tales

Get it?  Because most of them were Grimm’s fairy tales, and I’m making them post-apocalyptic, so they’re grim?  Not that they weren’t grim to begin with…

Anyway.  I’ve decided what I’m going to do.  I’m going to make money off of these stories. Hopefully.  I’m going to rewrite a handful of fairy tales and publish them as a collection of short stories.  I’ll put up a teaser of each story on my blog as I write them, to make y’all want to read them.

I only got two suggestions, so I’m gonna have to start picking stories at random if I don’t get more comments.  Don’t be shy, peoples!  Comment!

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Something I’m Considering

I saw a game today that was version of Little Red Riding Hood, set post-apocalyptic.  I thought it was really, really cool.  So much so that I wanted to write some stories like that. Retell the old fairy tales with a post-apocalyptic twist.  However, I don’t want to write them if y’all aren’t interested, so I need comments on this!

Opinions?  Do you want to see these stories?  Which ones should I remake first?

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L&A: On the Road Again

I like Lezvie and Angela and they seem to be popular and I find that their stories are easy to write, so here’s another short story of them.  In case you’ve forgotten, since it has been a while, here’s the last thing of theirs I wrote: Lezvie’s Tale.

“You’re sure you won’t stay?”

Lezvie tightened one of the straps on his harness as he shook his head.  “If the Crimson Dragon is real, then stopping it will end a great deal of the organized terrorism.  Going after the source will be much more effective then just trying to handle the individual incidents.”

Jack nodded and stepped forward to clasp his hand.  “Keep in touch, aye?  It makes us nervous when we don’t hear from you for months on end, and especially now, since you have a much better idea of where to find the most dangerous enemies possible.”

“Don’t worry about me, Jack,” Lezvie replied with a chuckle as he returned the handclasp.  “Angela won’t let anything happen to me.”

“‘Course I won’t.”  Angela tossed her hair out of her eyes.  “If I even considered letting him get himself injured, he’d jump headfirst into whatever it was that wanted to injure him.”

Rodrigo laughed.  “She’s got your number for sure, Lezvie.”

Lezvie rolled his eyes.  “Come on, Angela.  We’re burning daylight.”

The two of them walked out across the plains, and the heavy doors of the Bunker slid shut behind them, the locks hissing as they sealed.  Angela flashed Lezvie a grin.  “On the road again. To tell you the truth, I didn’t much care for them.  They were nice enough, but it’s just… weird, being around people after being alone for so long.”

“I understand completely.  That’s why I never stay long with them. That, and I can’t exactly rid the world of the scum that populates it if I’m safely holed up in a bunker.”

Angela laughed.  “Of course.  Though isn’t it almost as hard to kill scum if you’re just wandering the wasteland aimlessly?”

“Who ever said we’re wandering aimlessly?  I know exactly where we’re going.”

“Oh?”  Angela arched one eyebrow.  “And where is that?”

Lezvie put one arm around her shoulders and pointed towards the horizon.  “You see that big mountain over there?”

She nodded.

“That’s where we’re going.  I know a guy who lives there.”

“Who lives out in the desert on a random mountain?”

“A paranoid hermit who also happens to have some of the most advanced tech on the planet.  He was a hermit before the aliens ever touched down, but he had the biggest net of contacts I ever knew of.  During the invasion, he was constantly getting pieces of alien tech and integrating it into his own systems.  He survived the Glassing and now watches the entire continent, and probably the entire world.  If there’s an organized criminal group out there, he knows about it.”

Angela’s eyes were wide.  “Wow.  Why haven’t you gone to him before?”

Lezvie shrugged.  “I didn’t think I needed to.  I had no real reason to think the rumors about the Crimson Dragon could be true.”

“Hmm.”  They walked in silence for several minutes.  Then Angela asked, “What’s his name?”

“I don’t know, actually.”  Lezvie shrugged again.  “He goes by the psuedonym ‘The Master’.”

Angela snorted.  “Arrogant much?”

“He’s earned it, though.  There’s no system in the world better than his, and there wasn’t one before the Glassing, either.  And machinery aside, he’s the most talented hacker in the world.”

Angela ‘hmm’ed again, and they walked in silence.

As the sun began to set, and after several quick breaks, consisting of a brief sit-down and a protein bar, they stopped under the overhang of what had been an old truck stop.  Lezvie set up the windscreens and the artificial campfire while Angela prepared their food.

After a quiet meal, Angela settled down in her sleeping bag while Lezvie took first watch.  They easily fell into the old routines; no discussion was necessary.  It felt good to be on the road again.

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Filed under Characters, My Stories, Sci-Fi, Serials, Short Stories

Lezvie’s Tale

Angela awoke to a gentle touch on her hair.  Her eyes fluttered open, and she found herself looking into Lezvie’s eyes, only inches from hers.

She jumped back, heat rising in her cheeks.  “How’re you feeling?”

“I’ve been better.”  He grinned.  “I’ve been worse, too.”

“Good.  Good.”  She let her hair fall in her face to hide her blush.  “I’ll just, uh…  Go get some breakfast.”

Angela slipped out and ducked around a corner, leaning against a wall and letting out a long, shaky breath.  “Why does he keep doing that to me?”

Footsteps drew her attention, and she looked down the hall to see Ruth, carrying a tray.  “He’s awake, I take it?”

“Yeah, he is.  Listen, Ruth…”

The redhead paused.  “Yes?”

“Who is Lezvie?  I mean, where did he come from?  What’s his goal?”

Ruth chuckled.  “That is such a long story, and I don’t even know all of it.  He doesn’t talk much about his past.”

“What about his present?  What can you tell me about him?”  Angela chuckled, half to herself.  “I’ve traveled with him for months, but he’s almost as much a mystery as when I first met him.”

“As with all of us.”  Ruth chuckled as well.  “He’s a good man, though, so none of us pry too deeply.”

“That makes sense, I suppose.”  Angela nodded.  She followed Ruth back into Lezvie’s room, where he lay in his bed.

“I see you two have met.  Been swapping stories?”

Angela took the tray from Ruth and set it on Lezvie’s beside table.  “You’re impossible, you know that?”

He grinned.  “You keep telling me that.”

Ruth quietly withdrew, leaving Angela and Lezvie alone.

As he ate, Angela sat quietly, thinking.  When he finished, she asked, “Lezvie…  Will you tell me about yourself?  Where you came from?”

Lezvie looked at her, setting his tray aside.  “What brought this on?”

“No one knows anything about you.”  She shrugged.  “I just want to know.”

“All right.”  He shifted on the bed, patting it.  “It’s a long story, so you should sit down.”

She sat down on the bed, then leaned back, laying against him.

He put an arm around her, and then he began to spin his tale.

“I was born in California.  My hair was white even then.”  He twirled a lock of his hair between his fingers.  “As you can imagine, it set me apart from the other kids.  I tried to emulate characters in Japanese anime; they were the only people I knew that had white hair.

“I studied martial arts of several kinds, including weaponized.  That’s why I can do what I do with my blades.  It also somewhat isolated me, so I studied.  The only real company I had was my family and a few people I had met online that stopped by from time to time.”

Angela looked up at him.  “Tell me about your family.”

“There were five of us: my father, my mother, my big sister Katie, my little brother Matt, and myself.  My dad was a mechanic, and Matt was following in his footsteps.  Literally.  He’d stick to my dad like a shadow whenever he worked on a car.  Mom was a mythology teacher.  Japanese mythology.  That’s another reason I got so into the way of the ninja and things like that.

“And Katie…”  He smiled fondly, remembering.  “Katie was the all-around perfect one.  Principal’s honor roll, captain of the women’s volleyball team, black belt in martial arts, the works.  It’s mostly thanks to her that I succeeded as well as I did.”

He chuckled faintly.  “I won so many awards in martial arts and academic achievements, that between me and Katie, they covered every wall of my house.  None of that matters anymore, of course…

“When the invasion came, I was hand-picked by the United Resistance to be part of a crack team to resist the aliens.  I got my knives on our first mission.  After that, we were much more capable of resisting them.  Only the aliens’ own weapons could penetrate their armor.”

He let out a heavy sigh.  “And then came the operation that destroyed our world.  We carried out a strike on one of the alien ground bases.  It was the first time we managed to fully destroy one of their bases.  And it provoked them.

“They decided Earth wasn’t worth the cost they were paying for it.  But neither could they just give up.  We’d eventually develop space flight and become a threat.  So they Glassed the planet.”  His head fell back on the pillow, and a tear ran down his cheek.  “We caused the Glassing.  We killed seven billion people, and reduced the few millions that remained to savages.”

Angela wiped the tear away, resting her head on his chest.  “It wasn’t your fault, Lezvie.  You only did what you had to.  The aliens killed those people.  If you hadn’t fought them, they would have just taken over.”

He exhaled slowly.  “My family survived the invasion, and the glassing.  But not a month after the glassing, they were attacked by raiders.  My father and brother were the lucky ones.  They died quickly.”

She rested her head on his chest, putting her arms around him.  “I’m sorry.”

Lezvie rested one hand on the back of her head.  “That’s why I fight so hard against the raiders.  As though I can make up for losing my family by making sure no one else loses theirs.”

“So that’s why I felt like I could trust you, back when we first met.  I could feel that conviction.”

“You’re the first person I’ve ever told.”  He grinned faintly.  “Feel special.”

“I do.  Believe me, I do.”

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Recovery, Part 2

They’ve escaped the slavers, but Lezvie’s badly hurt. Will his mysterious friends in the Bunker be able to save him?

Jack and Rodrigo were already in the entrance hall when they arrived.  Rodrigo had a minigun strapped on him, the large barrel currently folded up beside the ammunition box on his back as he checked a computer on a wall.  “They’re coming.  Four Humvees, complete with fifty-cal turrets.”

“Any markings?”  Jack checked the safety on his rifle.

“Yes, but not one I’m familiar with.  Look.”

Lezvie followed Jack over to the screen, looking at the insignia on the side of the approaching vehicles.  “It almost looks like Crimson Talon,” Lezvie said, “it isn’t, as you can see.  There are four markings here, where the Talon only has three.  But it’s almost like they’re from the same family or something…”

The vehicles stopped about a hundred feet from the outer doors, and men in combat armor poured out, forming a semi-circle around it.  Two of them set up a heavy cannon in front of the door, aiming it dead center at it.

A man whose armor bore more color than the others stepped up to the door.  His voice was distorted by the helmet he wore, making him sound robotic.  Alien.  “You harbor fugitives.  You will surrender them to the Crimson Fang immediately.”

Lezvie turned to Jack.  “You ever hear of a ‘Crimson Fang’?”

“Rumors.”  Jack shrugged.  “A more organized, better equipped branch of the Crimson Talon.”

“While we’re swapping rumors,” Rodrigo interjected, “I heard that they’re both arms of a parent organization, Crimson Dragon.  Hence the names.  There’s also, supposedly, a Crimson Wing and Crimson Eye.”

“Unimaginative lot.”  Lezvie fingered his knives.  “But well-equipped, undeniably well-equipped.”

The men outside grew impatient.  “We grow tired of your disobedience.  Give us the fugitives or we will blow the door in.  You have thirty seconds.”

“Fugitives.  That would be the girls and I, yes?”  Lezvie chuckled.  “Well, Jack?  You gonna throw us to the dragon?”

Rodrigo pulled down the barrel of his minigun and gave the barrel an experimental spin.  “C’mon, Lez.  You should know better than that.”

“Good then.  Should we let them shoot first?  Give ourselves the moral high ground?”

Jack grinned.  “Always.”

“You have chosen to defy the Crimson Fang.  On your own heads be it.  The Crimson Fang shall destroy your feeble installation and kill all of you.”  The man stepped back behind the semicircle of soldiers, gesturing to the men behind the cannon.

The first shot splashed harmlessly against the powerful doors of the Bunker.  So did the second.  And the third.  Right after the fourth, Jack gestured to Rodrigo, and the security officer flipped a switch in the wall, causing the massive door to slide open.

Jack threw a grenade as the door opened.  By the time the massive gates had stopped moving, the grenade latched on magnetically to the cannon.  It exploded violently, tearing the cannon apart and sending shrapnel into the Crimson Fang soldiers nearest it.

Rodrigo and Jack followed the grenade with a volley of lead.  Jack’s rifle sounded rhythmically, each shot bringing down one of the soldiers manning the guns of the Humvees.  Rodrigo’s tactics were simpler; spray and pray.  The Crimson Fang soldiers went down like flies.

Despite the heavy losses they were taking, the red-armored soldiers came charging forward, those that had guns firing them, those with melee weapons trying to close the distance as fast as possible.  While outgunned, their numbers allowed them to endure the brutal damage the Remnants’ guns inflicted while still getting closer to the Bunker.

Lezvie stepped forward, drawing his knives.  He still looked agile, but Angela could tell that every movement pained him, and his usual grace came with much more effort than usual.  She stepped up beside him and kept the invaders from reaching him, putting each one down with a single shot to the head.

Even her sharpshooting could only slow the tide, and Lezvie had to fight.  His dance of death flowed as smoothly as it always did, and the soldiers’ blood stained the ground at his feet.  Eventually the ranks of the Crimson Fang were depleted, and the few survivors piled back into their trucks and fled.

“We can’t let them escape.”  Jack’s voice sounded tired.

Rodrigo nodded and stepped back across the threshold, tapping a command into the console.  The barrel of a large gun extended out of the mountain above the bunker door.  It fired, one shot for every truck.  Every shot hit its mark.  Every truck became a pile of scorched metal.

“That’s the problem with this wasteland.  You can’t trust anyone.  If you get in a fight, you have to wipe them out, or they’ll come back with friends and wipe you out.”  Jack set his rifle down and closed the doors.

Lezvie cleaned his daggers and sheathed them.  “Yeah.  Terrible.”

Then he collapsed.

“Lezvie!”  Angela rushed to him, catching him before his head hit the ground.  “Stupid, stupid man…”

She stripped off his bandage, which had been soaked to the point of uselessness.  His wound had been reopened during the fight, and now his blood ran down his chest.  “Stupid, stubborn, stupid man…”  She turned to Jack and Rodrigo.  “Help me get him back to the medical bay.”

They carried him in, laying him in one of the beds.  Angela shooed the men out of the ward and began taking care of Lezvie’s wound.

“Stubborn, thick-headed, arrogant, prideful, stupid…”  She finished binding his wound and rested a hand on his cheek.  “Stupid, amazing man…”  With a sigh, she sank into the chair beside his bed, resting her head on his chest, her blonde hair tumbling across his pale skin, suddenly exhausted.

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