A very old story I wrote that I’m sharing because I was digging through old files and found it.
It started out like any other day. The birds were singing in the trees, the rabbits were gamboling about the meadow, and all seemed peaceful. That’s when I heard the gunshots. My name is Gunthor. I am a member of the Defenders Alliance, protecting the unprotected and all that. This meadow with its idyllic little farm and field is actually one of the Alliance’s outposts, on the border of DreadKnight turf.
“Oy! Oswald!” I shouted into the farmhouse. “We got company!”
Oswald, a stoutly built, very short man, came plodding out of the building. “What’s up?” he asked grumpily. Of course, he probably wasn’t actually grumpy, he just came across that way.
“Gunshots. To the northeast.” I said, looking over the meadow through our field-issue (bureaucratese for the cheapest we could find) binoculars. “Can’t tell if it’s well-equipped poachers or Dread Knights.” The Dread Knights weren’t actually knights, but they were somewhat dreaded by the norms.
Oswald grunted. “Here, lemme look.” Oswald always carried his own equipment, which could be a burden on his partner, who had to carry it, but it could be useful. Like now, with high-tech binoculars that were the polar opposite of the crappy “field-issue” ones I was using.
He grunted again. “It’s Dreads. At least a dozen, on speeders, with… hold on… YK-42 Pulse Pistols.” See what I mean about good equipment? At least two miles away and he can tell me what gun they are using.
“At least those don’t have a long range,” I said. “We can stop them long before they get here.” I hesitated as he gave the approaching plume of smoke a dour look. “Right?”
Another grunt. It seemed to be his favorite sound. “Nope, not these. Unlike most of the Dreads we run into out here, these guys are actually smart. They’ve got Anti-Laser ForceShield Generators attached to the back fenders. Nothing short of an Ion Cannon is gonna punch through that.”
I grinned. Well, it was more of a leer, actually. “So we get to handle them the old-fashioned way?” I asked, barely able to contain my eagerness. I was a by-the-book kind of guy, but I was always happiest when the book said to handle it with brute force.
Oswald grinned. His grin actually was a grin. “You ready?”
I shuddered with anticipation and looked up at the setting sun and rising full moon. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not a werewolf, my powers just happen to wax and wane with the moon. “Ready?” I laughed. “I’ve been waiting for something like this since we got assigned here.”
He whipped out a laser pointer that was powerful enough to etch a plan in the dirt with, which he proceeded to do. As soon as he was done, we dashed off to our positions. Well, I dashed. Oswald just plodded a little faster.
Oswald planted himself in the middle of the road, a clear target to the approaching Dreads. The two in the lead started shooting at him as soon as they came into range, but as always, they earned their reputation for being terrible shots. So, just like we had planned, they tried to run him over. Unfortunately for them, they did not know that he was nearly indestructible and could make himself very, very, dense.
Just before the speeder hit him, I began charging my power, which had the side effect of seeming to cause everything to slow down slightly. As a result, I saw what happened next very clearly. The front of the speeder crumpled under the impact, and the tail end went flying over Oswald’s head, smashing into the ground behind him and then expanding into an enormous fireball. The other eleven Dread Knights came to an abrupt halt, stunned by the sudden loss of one of the raiding party. Now it was my turn.
Have I told you about my power yet? No? Well, it works something like this. I focus all my energy into my palms, then release it, but keep it focused around me. This generates an aura that speeds up my reflexes and perception, hence the clarity with which I saw the collision. I can also channel this energy into focused bursts with which I can send people, vehicles, and small buildings flying. One of my favorites, however, is channeling into my limbs and then beating whatever it is that I am fighting to a pulp.
So I come charging out of the underbrush, totaling two of the speeders with my bursts before they realize I am there. I effortlessly dodge the pulses from the guns, laughing as I send Dread Knights flying. I am in my element. I am unstoppable. So it came as a total surprise when a pulse, far more powerful than a pistol is capable of generating, hit me in the back and sent me tumbling head over heels. I almost blacked out from the pain.
As I leapt to my feet, whirling to face this new opponent, I heard Oswald growling, “I should’ve guessed. No Head Dread would have just sent Dreads in these babies. Too valuable, be like throwing money down a sewer. They sent Elites.”
Elites. The biggest, baddest, and most importantly, smartest of the Dread Knights. Very few Defenders have gone up against an Elite one-on-one and won. One of those few is Oswald. And I have never tried. I charge my aura into borderline danger zone. If I charge it too far, my perception of the world begins to slow, and although things are really clear, I see them after they really happen.
The Elite in front of me charges up his pulse rifle and feints a shot. Exactly how they pull that off, I still don’t know. In any event, I react to the feint and he fires a shot that, had I been anyone else, would have reduced me to dust. However, because my reflexes are so enhanced and my muscles are charged enough to move me as fast as my reflexes want me to, I perform an unlikely contortion and avoid the shot. I then slam the surprised Elite in the face with a fist that has all the energy that is not in the aura behind it. As far as I know, he is still orbiting Mars.
I turn to Oswald and see him sitting on what looked like it used to be the Elite that tried to attack him. He chuckles. “Sure don’t make ‘em like they used to. He looks upward toward the speck that is the Elite I decked. “Not bad,” he remarks. “C’mon, HQ will want to hear about this. If the DreHeads are sending Elites, they must be serious.”
We sent a message to HQ using the “field issue” radio transmitter, and sat around waiting for a response. The response, when it came, was short and to the point.
INITATE LOCKDOWN OF OUTPOST C-16. RETURN TO HQ FOR FULL REPORT. GENERAL BLONSKY.
A lockdown just meant we turned on the Ready Anti-Intruder Mechanism with Fully Integrated Radar Enhancement, or READYAIMFIRE, for short, when we left. Anyone without a Deactivating Ocular NegaTion System with Hardwired OrthOdox Technology (DONTSHOOT for short) would be vaporized. We booted up the system and took a speeder to HQ.