Gunmetal Black 2 Chapter 10 - Love Without Anger
crouched behind the wreckage of a fallen hover transport, and watched the sight
before him. He had managed to get most his people to safety, not because of
their ability to run from the Rigellians, but because the Rigellians had a new
Three of them, actually. They walked slowly through
the war zone, blasting anything and anyone in their way. The one in the lead
was a being the likes of which Skanda had never seen before, but one he
recognized all the same.
His thoughts drifted back to growing up on the rocks
of this planet, in the deep caves that housed his people from the sandstorms.
He remembered being taught about the gods of the desert, and the devils as
And when the shadows and the smoke passed over the
face of the man in the lead, Skanda could recognize him for the devil he was.
Who else could
wade in to the Rigellians without fear of being killed?
Skanda wondered, ducking
intermittently behind the hover transport when a ricochet or a stray shot got
too close. No. This is one of the
shaitan, the devils of the desert. He comes in the storm, and leaves in the
And the devil
has saved the souls of my people. I must speak to my priest about this.
Skanda raised a hand to the group of his people
clustered behind her and gestured for them to make their way back into the
desert. Devil or angel, savior or damnation, they had their freedom. Skanda quickly
made his way to the crumbling, burning perimeter of the fortress, not much
liking the taste of his salvation.
sprayed another trio of Rigellian soldiers with a blast from his automatic
rifle. He hated to use energy weapons, but the Drazga was good at clearing a
path for him, and that was what he needed at the moment. 500 plasma rounds a
second would give him a clear path to his objective.
Behind him, Vain was doing even more damage,
spraying round after round of chaingun fire at troopers, transports, gun
emplacements, anything. Mirage had taken the opportunity to shroud and scout
ahead for Silhouette. Although Kienan suspected he knew where she was already.
The source of the explosion I saw, he
thought. She's got to be there. She
always did go right she'd get in the most trouble.
Kienan heard two shots strike a tree behind him and
looked over his shoulder. In front of him, two troopers were setting up a
tripod for a heavy plasma gun. Behind him, a wounded trooper was crawling on
his stomach, oozing blood and haphazardly firing in his direction.
Kienan unclipped a small metal cylinder from his
belt, pressed a recessed button on it and tossed it toward the wounded trooper,
bracing himself as he fired his rifle at the gunners. The trooper bust into
flame when the canister hit and the troopers dove for cover as plasma rounds
ripped into trees. Vain followed up by blasting the plasma gun's power cell,
which exploded in a ball of fire, incinerating the troopers and setting the
trees of the Ghost Forest aflame. The dry bark nurtured by the ship below, but
still weathered in the dry desert was perfect kindling, and before long, a wall
of flame was burning the Ghost Forest to the ground.
Kienan walked through the heat impassively, spraying
anyone who crossed his path with a hail of bullets and dodging falling burning
branches and embers. For the most part, most of the people he crossed were
troopers, caught by surprise by the sudden forest fire and running haphazardly
through the burning wood, most burning themselves because the fire set off the
explosives they carried.
The heat from the desert and the fire was
incredible, but Kienan didn't feel it. Only his body's perspiration reacted to
the conflagration around him. He was focused on one thing, and one thing only.
"This is Mirage," a voice whispered into
Kienan's ear. "I've found her. She's in some kind of underground lab. I
can barely see her, and she's roughly 500 feet down."
Kienan stepped through the path into a clearing. The
main complex loomed before them, eerily lit by the setting sun and the fire. He
pointed to Vain, and they turned in unison, and begin blasting the stumps the
trees, causing a flaming barricade to fall over the path. It wouldnt last
-- most of the trees were burnt out
already, but it would last long enough.
Kienan followed Mirage's voice until they were at
the lip of a smoking black crater, probably a mile across all told.
Yes, Kienan thought, recognizing the
area around it. The explosion site.
At sight of he and Vain, Mirage de-shrouded.
"Did you see her?" Kienan asked.
"Barely," Mirage said. "There's
someone down there with her. They're fighting."
"But she's alive?" Kienan asked,
unspooling a length of small but strong cable from a pouch on his belt. He tied
the cable to a spike and drove the spike into the soft earth with his foot. He
tugged on it a few times to make sure it was secure.
"I think so, but they're both torn up,"
"Command your Angelfish fighters to come in and
pick us up," Kienan said, clipping the spool to his belt and slinging the
rifle onto his back. "You'll have to prove cover for me while I'm down
here and cover for us while we ride on your wings."
"There shouldn't be any resistance," Vain
said. She caught site of another squad of troopers making their way towards the
fire and cut them down with a quick burst from the chaingun. "Well, not
much. We'll drop flame tracks on our way out and light up the rest of the
compound. That should give us enough time to get to our landing site."
"I hope she's in shape to fly," Mirage
said. "We're going to have two capital ships and who knows how many
fighters waiting for us once we get out into orbit. I don't know if we can
evade them if we have to grapple her ship back to the
"Understood," Kienan said. "Dont
worry, I'll take care of it." He drew his Midare-Giri and held the cord in
his hands as he got into position to rappel down the crater. "Keep us
"Always," Vain said, blasting another
squad, making them run even faster in the opposite direction. "Go."
Kienan did as he was bid. He jumped down, knife in
hand, going down into the crater like a spider spinning a web.
looks to me like you're . . .getting tired," Straeger said. He leered at
Silhouette, blue blood and dirt smeared over his face. His right arm was
holding his ribs, which felt very brittle after Silhouette had kicked them
about twenty times. Worse still, the pain in his leg was cutting a burning
swath up his body, made even worse every second he was standing.
But he had to win, he reminded himself.
Silhouette struck a ready pose. The feeling was
starting to come back in her arm a bit, but she was still conscious of the pain
of Straeger's blade in her stomach. She moved closer to him, but she was just
as unsteady as he was on her legs, and stumbled forward, allowing Straeger to
kick her in her stomach again.
Silhouette felt the breath forced from her and the
shock of pain explode through her but steeled herself and grabbed Straeger's
leg as he pulled it back. It was slick from bleeding --
it was the leg she had stabbed him in, but
she got hold of the heel and spun her body around, twisting his leg and forcing
him to the ground.
Straeger cried out in pain as Silhouette continued
to twist his leg. He kicked her in the face, trying to get her off, feeling the
muscle tear grow as she continued to twist his ankle. Straeger groaned with
pain as he tried to kick her again but found his leg wasn't responding. Maybe
it was fatigue, maybe it was the pain of what she was doing to his other leg,
but he couldn't move. He thrashed at her with his arms, but she was too quick.
She rolled away, over and over again. Straeger looked into her eyes, now mad
with an almost insane rage and determination. She looked like she wouldn't stop
until he was dead.
Or she was. Straeger felt an idea form in his mind.
He cleared his mind, forced the pain from his mind and concentrated, summoning
the power of the lens. A long straight
blade, he thought. Just enough to
shove into her brain and kill her before she kills me.
The blade formed out of the darkest shadows, and
Straeger brought into position, his eyes meeting her as he reared back with his
hand. Silhouette stared at him, no fear in her eyes, even the face of death.
She pulled back, snapping his ankle with a scream that curdled his blood.
Before Straeger could push the blade through a
sound, worse than the scream split the silence. The sound of metal against
rock. Above the two of them, someone descended like an avenging angel. He was
human, Straeger could tell, but that was the least of his concerns. The gun in
the human's other hand was of more concern.
Kienan fired four times, striking the rocks Straeger
was braced against three times and putting the fourth shot into Straeger's good
leg. He cried out and curled into a ball. The blade from the lens dissipated
and he slumped backwards.
Kienan landed catlike, next to Silhouette.
Silhouette let go of Straeger's leg, then drew herself to her feet. She
suddenly felt very disconnected from everything, like she was waking up from a
dream and she wasn't yet sure what was real.
"Sil," Kienan said, picking her up off the
floor. He turned her face to look at him. "Sil. It's me. I've come to get
you out of here. Snap out of it. We've got to go."
"Kienan?" She said, sounding like she was
a million miles away. She patted herself down, surprised because she wasn't in
pain anymore "I . . .I . . .what's wrong with me?"
Kienan checked her over. There was blood, but the
wounds were closing or had closed totally. Even the bruises on her face were
slowly receding. "There's no time for that," he said. "Pay
attention. I need you to hang on, Sil. I'm getting you out of here."
"No, Kienan. I can't I, I have to--"
"There's no more time, Sil," Kienan said,
pulling her close. "Let it go."
Silhouette sad, shoving him
away. "I've got to destroy it! I've got to."
Straeger sat up, bracing the arm holding the lens
and pointing the weapon at both of them. "No," he said. "All the
two of you have to do . . .is hold still . . .and . . .die."
Kienan frowned, pulled out his pistol and shot
Straeger through the hand. The hand with the lens. The glass holding the lens
and the specimen shattered and Straeger felt the same rush he has felt in the
lab, only a thousand times worse. He screamed as he felt the alien organism
invade his body, ripping through him in a handful of second. Shadows engulfed
his mind and screamed within himself. Then he fell backwards, unconscious.
Kienan holstered his pistol. "You cant destroy
it, Sil," he said. His voice was losing the gentle veneer he had used to
bring her around. "We have to go now."
"Go with you?" Silhouette said, suddenly
Kienan said, suddenly
impatient. "They'll come for him, and for you. I can get us out of here,
but you've to trust me."
He opened his arms. Silhouette walked toward him,
trembling. "Trust you," she whispered, holding tight to him as Kienan
activated the spool and they begin to rise. She buried her head against his
chest as he held her tightly, muttering quietly so close only Kienan could
"Do you know what you did to me?"
"Do you know my secrets are as deep as
"Do you know where all of this is going?"
"Do you know how all this is going to
"Do you know who I am?"
transports were landing as the Angelfish were making their way out of the
compound. Kienan held Silhouette close, balanced on the wing of Vain's
Angelfish, shielding Silhouette from the windshear and the recoil from the
Angel fish's laser cannons as they strafed the troop transports and dropped the
flame tracks. The air seemed to be sucked out of Kienan's lungs as the flame
tracks ignited the runway, blowing up the two transports that had made it past
the wall of laser fire the Angelfish had thrown up.
Under cover of the flame they made their way to the
landing site. Kienan slid off the wing, cradling Silhouette close as he
activated the cockpit hatch for the Umbra.
"Silhouette," he said, staring into her blue-green eyes as she began
to blink, her mind seeming to get itself together.
"Kienan," she said. They said nothing for
a moment, and more than anything Kienan wanted to kiss her, because the
Silhouette he remembered had, for a second showed herself to him. But there was
he thought bitterly.
"Can you fly your ship out of here?"
Kienan said. The winds started to howl from the east.
Sandstorm, Kienan thought. If
we can dust-off now it'll cover our escape from the ground. And that'll just
leave the ships above us. "I'll cover you until we get to the
Silhouette, then we'll dock and get out
of here. Can you?"
Silhouette nodded, her thoughts finally snapping
into sharp focus. It felt easier to think now that she was away from the ship.
And the pain's gone as well, she
thought. My adrenaline must have kicked
in. She clambered into the cockpit and readied the
Umbra for launch as Kienan strapped himself into the
Reiven. The two ships lifted off as the
sandstorm brushed any trace of their landing from the sands below.
Kienan saw the Angelfish in front of him, he and the
Marionettes were in a triangular formation around the
Umbra which was in the center. He forced his mind not to dwell on
what he had seen or heard when he went to get her, but found it hard.
They broke out of orbit in a matter of seconds.
Kienan's scanners immediately sounded an alarm. The
Silhouette was almost in range, but the two ships were between them
and worse yet, they had seen the fighters come out of orbit. They hard already
"Looks like we'll have to fight our way out,
ladies," Kienan sad, readying his weapons and launching a volley of
blaster fire and missiles at the swarm of fighters in front of him. He kept one
eye on the scanner readout for the capital ships, since he knew the fighters
were just a distraction until the ships could bring their main guns and missile
launchers to bear on them.
"Get close to the capital ships," Kienan
said. "Make sure they cant bring their fire against you. The four
fighters banked and turned towards the bigger ship, as the damaged small
destroyer tries to come about and fire on them.
Kienan unloaded every weapon he had onto the hull of
the cruiser, not seeking to damage it, only keep it guessing long enough to
slip out while it was dealing with a petty emergency. He banked past the
battery of anti-fighter cannons so swiftly the guns destroyed one of their own
An alert sounded and Kienan opened his eyes wide.
Missile lock, Kienan thought.
They've got me. It must have been the damage
I took from the fight on the way in. It's left a trace they can lock onto.
He held his breath and accelerated between two sensor masts on the cruiser,
trying to shake the lock. Not good.
The tone changed. Missile armed, and
Just then, a brilliant white beam of light erupted
behind the destroyer, slicing the already damaged ship in two. It exploded,
flinging debris every which way.
"Thank you, Conscience," he said.
"Your timing is impeccable. Vain, Mirage, Sil --
"I'm OK," Silhouette said. "My
manoeuvring jets are blown, but I can make it to dock."
"I'm fine," Mirage said. "My laser
generators are fried. Again."
"I'm 100%" Vain said. "Out of
"Good. Conscience," Kienan said.
"Move into position under the cruiser. The rest of you, run lick hell and
get aboard. I'll follow you in. We've only got about twenty seconds before
their sensors kick back in and they move into position and destroy the
"But Kienan--" Vain began.
"Go! Now! I'll be along!"
the hell was that?" Warmaster Voelker shouted to his crewmen. "Did
they have a base ship?"
was destroyed by a high-yield energy weapons," one of his crewmen said,
frantically tapping buttons on her console to bring her sensors back online.
"The radiation from the blast and the explosion have saturated our sensor
receptors with radiation. We're as good as blind for another few seconds."
"I want sensors now," Voelker said.
"Not in a few seconds, crewman --
"Attempting to clear," she said.
"There -- I've got proximity
"Where are they?" Voelker said.
"Beneath us," the crewman sad. "Our
sensor masts took some debris from the explosion of the
Fenris, but they've rendezvoused with another ship. All but one
have docked with the larger vessel."
"Do I have any gun batteries online in that
sector?" Voelker said.
"You have fire control, but zero on
targeting," his weapons officer said. "I can put out general fire,
but I can't guarantee you'll hit anything."
"Do it," Voelker said. "Bridge to
Engineering: Prepare the ship for a 90-degree turn on our Z-axis, but keep up
steady in this position. And charge our main gun, and standby for target
began to lurch very slowly, inertial systems slowly compensated for the ships
sudden downward turn. The ship began to rumble as energy was channelled from
the Malios' reactor to the main gun.
"I have sensors again, Warmaster," the
"Put our target onscreen," Voelker said.
"Engineering, time to fire?"
"Sir, I'm reading only one target," the
weapons officer said. "None of our gunnery officers on the lower decks
reported a kill, so I must assume it has docked with the main ship."
"Do we have targeting again?" Voelker
said, his entire body tense, all his will focused on the small ship the
Malios was turning towards.
"Yes," the weapons officer said.
"Main gun will be ready to fire in 15 seconds, target lock in 10
"Then we'll destroy them all in one shot,"
Voelker said. "All stations: standby to fire."
rushed to the bridge, his chest heaving. They had it made it difficult, but he
had done what he set out to do -- keep
the gun turrets busy while the Marionettes and Silhouette docked. Now they only
had to get out of here before the cruiser blew them to stardust.
"Situation?" He said, still panting as he
strapped himself into his command chair.
"Bad," Vain said. "There's twenty
ships coming on long-range sensors. We'll have to plot out a new course while
in Space Drive to escape them."
bad," Kienan said. "And while we're picking a direction, the cruiser
can take us out. Do we have Space Drive available?"
"Power's available at your command,"
"Route it through the launch catapult,"
Kienan said. "Get a travel pod ready. When I launch it, take the crew
safeties off of Space Drive and get us out of here."
"What are you--" Silhouette began.
"Shut up, Sil or we're all dead," Kienan
said, bringing up the course plotter for the travel pod. "Ready?"
"Ready," Vain said.
turned as fast as it was able, toward the Malios,
which was now moving into final firing position. The Silhouette launched
one of its travel pods at the Malios.
It launched it at full Space Drive into the firing chamber of the cruiser.
"It's away," Mirage said
"Go now, then," Kienan said, reaching
across for Silhouette's hands. Holding them gently in his.
As the Malios
bulged with internal explosions caused by the travel pod's lancing, the
Silhouette blasted away in the opposite
direction at full Space Drive. Kienan held on for as long as he could, then
felt his hands slip free from Silhouette's as both blacked out. Without the crew
safeties only the Marionettes could pilot the ship through the spatial shear
without blacking out, and even they wouldn't be operating at full efficiency.
Kienan felt darkness engulf his mind as he finally
blacked out. If he ever woke up again, he knew they would be safe.