Gunmetal Black 3 Chapter 6 - Instruments Of Destruction
Kienan was about to
go in for the kill when Toriares waved the tip of his cane in front of him. The
tip of the cane was glowing. Kienan's eyes narrowed and he knew that one swipe
would take his head clean off.
"Get off him,
Kienan," Toriares said, steadily. "Killing him in front of a child?
Come on, I taught you better than this. Be a professional."
Kienan eased off
Sinclaire, never taking his eyes off him. Sinclaire looked up at Toriares, the
sour expression on his face seeming to regard Toriares as bitterly as he did
angrily at Sinclaire. "Been a long time, Sabre," he said. "The
word was, you were dead."
"Sabre ... is
dead," Sinclaire said, rubbing his throat as he got to his feet. "My
name's Sinclaire, now."
"Your name is
dead," Kienan muttered. "I'm more than happy to make sure your body
catches up to it."
"Who are you
people?" Ariana demanded. "I havent seen you in town before, and you
cant have Sinclaire! You just can't!"
Sinclaire put his
hand on Ariana's shoulder. "I'll be OK Ariana. Run home now."
"But -- "
For me." Toriares may have saved her life just now, he thought. Is
he Kienan's master? Sure would explain why Kienan fights like such a damned
demon. But while I can trust him to keep it between us I cant trust Kienan to.
If there's going
to be a fight -- and we all know there is -- she can't be around.
Ariana looked over
her shoulder at him.
gently. "I'll be back. Whatever happens, I promise I'll see you
Sinclaire said. "Now go home to your father. Tell him I might be a little
late, but I will be there."
Ariana looked nervously
at Kienan and Toriares, then back at Sinclaire, who very calmly nodded. She
walked away, never taking her eyes off Sinclaire. Gradually she started to pick
up speed and ran down the dirty streets. Sinclaire turned back to Kienan and
Toriares as something in the distance began to rumble.
"I should have
known I couldnt outrun my bad luck," Sinclaire sneered. "Kienan I
always expected to meet again. He's here to fulfill an old promise. But you,
Toriares ... Silhouette never told me you were a man who held a grudge."
you know this bastard?" Kienan asked, his hand behind him, closed
around the hilt of his knife.
bitterly and ran his hands under his hair, flipping it off his neck. There was
a long horizontal scar at the base of his skull.
met," he said. "And no, Sinclaire, I'm not here to settle a grudge. I
didnt even know you were here, or alive for that matter."
Kienan said. His green eyes blazing with anger. Toriares and Sinclaire could
both feel the barely restrained tension radiating from him. "I for one am
very glad to see you again, Sinclaire. When I saw you before, I only knew about
you stealing my girl. Now that I know you hurt my best friend, I have twice
the reason to butcher you."
welcome to try it," Sinclaire said, his hands going to his swords. The
rumble in the distance got louder and closer. "But you arent man enough
to get the job done. Come on if you think you can. I'm sick of your constant
He looked over his shoulder, trying to determine the source of that strange
rumbling. Not an earthquake and there's not a cloud in the sky, he
thought. Then what?
girl," Sinclaire sneered. "Listen to yourself, Kienan. You sound like
a punk kid. Maybe I should forget the swords and just slap you around?"
"Your hands or
your swords arent enough to touch me," Kienan said. The rest of
the world had dropped away as far as he was concerned. The simmering anger he
had felt for Sinclaire had burned the rest of existence way, and there was just
Sinclaire and himself. "No Silhouette to save you from me, now."
bitterly. No Silhouette for either of us, he thought.
A shadow passed
over the three of them. Suddenly, the wall surrounding the Peace Hotel erupted
in a shower of dust and rubble. Kienan, Toriares and Sinclaire all shielded
their face and watched as the dust settled.
slightly larger and more massive than an average human walked through the cloud
of dust. As the dust cleared Toriares got a clearer picture of what they were.
He grit his teeth.
advantage of this moment to leap at Sinclaire, drawing his knife and diving
towards him. Sinclaire rolled back and used his legs to throw him into a pile
of rubble. He flipped back to his feet and, keeping one sword pointed in
Kienan's direction, followed Toriares eyes ahead.
"Are those --
"They looked a
little different from the standard, but I'm almost certain theyre
Sekhmet," Toriares said, as one of them blasted a storefront to smithereens.
pretty far from home," Sinclaire said. "What are they doing
exploded. Toriares looked over his shoulder at Sinclaire. "Well, what do
you think? Kienan, we've got to do something -- "
Kienan leapt into
Sinclaire's back, driving his shoulder into his spine. Sinclaire fell forward
and dropped his swords. Kienan looked up, raising his knife. "You take
care of them. Sinclaire and I have business to settle -- UGH!"
Sinclaire cut him
off with an elbow to the jaw, drew his swords and tried to cut him down, Kienan
blocked one blade with his knife, ducked inside the other blade and grabbed
Sinclaire's scarf, slamming his forehead into the bridge of his nose.
Toriares looked at
him then back over his shoulder at the Sekhmet.
he said, sighing and raising his cane. "Do it all myself. Kienan, I wish
I'd taught you the value of priorities."
prisoner?" Mirage asked. "Well, that explains why the three of you
are still here. When your people left the map at the Armillary, they must have
known someone would have to stay behind to watch him."
correct," Ravenna said. "Jaevin was once the best of us, but he
committed a crime so far beyond our ability to understand that we had no form
of punishment to fit it. So it was decided by our people that he be exiled and
imprisoned on a desolate planet."
"And yet, you
left him with a powerful artifact," Vain said. "What's to stop him
from teleporting himself off the planet?"
several binding spells that keep him isolated on the planet," Kayt said.
"They prevent him from using his skills anywhere save on the planet, even
with the Soulcaster. Unfortunately, it prevents us from journeying to the
planet ourselves, lest he be able to use our abilities to amplify his own and
"So if we want
it, we have to get it ourselves," Mirage said. She smirked. "Seems
you painted yourself in a corner by not executing him when you had the
couldn't," Illiel replied. She looked at the deck. "The enormity of
his crime was such that to contemplate his execution made us fear we were no
better than he."
Vain shook her
head. "I thought you were explorers, scientists, looking for
enlightenment," she said. "I dont get what he could have done that
was so terrible."
"We do not
speak of it to outsiders," Kayt said.
better start," Mirage said. "If we have to go get this Soulcaster, I
for one want to know precisely what I'm up against."
"Our order is
predicated on the existence of lines of energy that define our universe,"
Ravenna said. "Through our study of them, we have been able to travel
alongside them, harness them, use them to expand the bounds of our knowledge.
But always we are conscious that these lines are a boundary, beyond which we
may not break or cross. To break one of the lines of force would cause reality
didnt see it that way?" Vain asked.
the lines of force around us as a boundary that can be exceeded by loosening
the lines around us," Ravenna said. "Much as how someone with
sufficient flexibility can slip out of an entangling rope. He believed that
altering the shape of those lines would free the potential of all existence. To
prove his theory, he unleashed a force on the universe so violent it drove us
from this galaxy in shame."
Mirage said. "Shame's more powerful than I thought."
Illiel looked at
Mirage. "Are you familiar with a race called the Ghram?"
Mirage said. "They used to rule the galaxy. The major races now -- the
Khephren, the Sekhmet, the Rigellians, all used to be their subjects. But no
one's seen them in centuries. Something happened to drive them off and no one's
seen them since. Theyre more legendary than anything now."
"At the time
our people departed the known galaxy, the Ghram ruled the entire galaxy. We
functioned autonomously from them -- we were advisors to them from time to
time, counselors, but never subjects.
passed and their hold on their subjects began to slip. Jaevin saw his chance
and presented the leaders of the Ghram with a weapon that he assured them would
intimidate the increasingly fractious subjects and keep them in line.
the Apocalypse Weapon was a means to Jaevin's ends, no more, no less. He knew
the Ghram's wars against their subjects would intensify and elected to use
their animosity to achieve his ends while keeping his hands clean. He had
theorized by eliminating the home worlds of the Ghram and another race, one
line of energy might be substantially altered. His plan was to begin the
freeing of the universe."
absorbed all this. "Let me guess, it didnt work?"
"It worked in
one sense," Kayt said. "The lines of energy were indeed changed, but
not for the better. Part of the reason our people began their journey was to
discover how much damage had been done, as well, as to prevent anyone from
perpetuating the mistake."
"I hate to
burst your bubble, ladies, but we're nowhere near powerful enough to stop
someone who can extinguish whole civilizations," Mirage said. "We're
good, but we're nowhere near able to handle anyone on that scale."
"He is much
less powerful than he was," Ravenna said.
"less powerful," please," Vain said. "What, does that mean
he can only take out a small moon now?"
source of power is from the few artifacts he stole before we sealed him on the
planet," Illiel said. "His access to the lines of force I and my
sisters use is denied him. He can be defeated, if you have the will to vanquish
Vain pondered all
of this and stared at Mirage. Mirage shrugged and cocked an eyebrow at her.
"Would you ladies excuse us, please? We have some details to
The patrons of the
Zona Rosa saloon were already alarmed by the sounds of battle outside. Some of
them even put their drinks down and were about to make their way outside to see
what the commotion was all about.
commotion wouldnt wait, and announced its arrival with the scream of
through one of the large plate-glass windows of the saloon and landed flat on
his back on a table, which immediately collapsed underneath his weight. Kienan
leapt through the broken glass after Sinclaire, knife drawn and ready.
He swiped at
Sinclaire once, twice. Sinclaire, bloodied, torn up and bleeding, parried his
thrusts and tried a few of his own. If the patrons had needed any further
reason to leave, Kienan gave it to them by racing to the bar and hurling full
bottles of whiskey at Sinclaire.
In truth, Kienan's
target wasn't Sinclaire, so much as it was the wall behind him. The bottles
exploded against the wall, sending shards of glass at Sinclaire -- catching in
his hair and clothes and lacerating him even more.
you can think to do is throw bottles at me?" Sinclaire sneered defiantly,
spinning blood in Kienan's direction.
Kienan drew his
pistol and fired a shot into Sinclaire's stomach. The force of the shot threw
Sinclaire against the wall and he slid down into more glass.
asked," he replied. "No. But I want this to last, Sinclaire. Besides,
you heal so fast I figure the best way to keep the advantage is to overtax
take a better man than you ... to do that," Sinclaire said. "Even ...
Silhouette thought so."
advancing on him. He kicked Sinclaire in the head. "You sure about
Sinclaire rose to
his feet, swords drawn, blood soaking his clothes. He grinned "Believe me,
I'm sure. She may never have gotten you out of her system ... but she never
doubted I was the better man."
Kienan said, grabbing a chair and smashing it
against Sinclaire's head. The first strike caused it to buckle, but Kienan's
follow-up strike shattered it completely over Sinclaire's head.
Sinclaire didnt go
down. Blood ran into his face and he had a look in his eyes that Kienan
recognized as disturbingly similar to his own.
"Pick up your
swords," Kienan said, measuring him for another punch. "I'm ready to
kill you now."
Sinclaire said, punching Kienan as hard as he could in the stomach. Kienan
lurched forward, coughing up a font of blood. Sinclaire threw a flurry of
punches at him, sending Kienan to his knees. "I don't need my swords
against you, Kienan."
Sinclaire's belt and jammed his knee into Sinclaire's groin. "You sure
"You stupid ... punk kid," he said. "Dont you understand anything?
No matter who wins, we both lost what we wanted. This... fight... is meaningless!"
He threw a kick at
Kienan, who grabbed his leg and planted a hard kick into Sinclaire's stomach.
Sinclaire went down, but Kienan held on. He used his leverage to get
Sinclaire's leg into position to shatter it.
"What the hell
are you talking about?" Kienan demanded angrily. "What, have I beaten
you stupid already?"
laughing at me Sinclaire," Kienan said. "I'll break your leg. Even if
you heal fast you'll never walk again, I'll make sure."
laughing at you, idiot," Sinclaire said, a trickle of blood running
out of the corner of his mouth. "Just ... laughing because you've been
after me for ... three years now, determined to settle a score long after it
got settled without you. You're so ... stupid."
me for your walking out on Silhouette," Kienan sneered. "That was
your stupid mistake."
his free foot underneath him and kicked loose of Kienan's grasp. His leg felt
twisted and steady, but he got to his feet.
mistake?" Sinclaire said, reaching for his swords. "You simpleton ...
I was always going to lose with Silhouette. She was ... never mine to
begin with, and I so all I could do was lose her, to your memory or another
man! You dont know how sick I was of having to live in your shadow!"
forward, his blades flashing and slicing through tables and chairs as he
advanced on Kienan. Kienan raised his knife to defend himself, his eyes
tracking every single time his blades struck and how many times they just
meant to fool me into blocking the wrong strike while he cuts me multiple
times, Kienan thought. Just have
to wait for the point of weakness to show itself ...
He quickly moved to
block two strikes and rammed his knife into Sinclaire's abdomen, pulling upward
until the blade of his knife met Sinclaire's sternum. Sinclaire looked into
it," he said, through gritted teeth. "Kill me. I've been ... fighting
your memory and ... losing for years, now."
lingered on the hidden trigger of his knife. One press of the button would
electrify every corpuscle in Sinclaire's body. Fast healing or no. the trauma
would kill him instantly. Likewise, one flick of the wrist would puncture his
Which would be a
more satisfying kill?
wrong?" Sinclaire muttered, pushing his body forward onto the knife.
"Neither of us will ever have Silhouette ... ever again. Kill me and claim
your prize ... absolutely nothing. I dont mind dying ... if it means you lose."
Kienan glared at
him. He put his hand over Sinclaire's face and shoved him off his knife.
want me to," Kienan said.
difference does it make to you ... whether I want it or not?" Sinclaire
said. He leaned against the bar oozing blood. "I ... came here for ... a
new life. Seeing you here means that's impossible. So ... if I cant have a
peaceful life ... maybe in death I can find what I'm looking for."
Kienan glared at
same ... when I dont care if you're going to kill me or not, is
up," Kienan said. His attention was drawn by something outside. Sinclaire
saw what looked like a glimmer of recognition cross his face, as though he'd
suddenly remembered he'd left his stove on.
He charged out of
the window, leaving Sinclaire alone and bleeding.
He gasped suddenly
and leaned against the bar. He could feel the healing taking hold. The bones
Kienan had broken were knitting back together. The lacerations were closing. He
his head back, pondering just why he wasn't worth killing.
"What do you
Mirage drummed her
fingertips on the control panel. She sighed.
know," she replied finally. "They're hiding something for sure, and
they really want this Jaevin eliminated. The question I have is "what do
they get out of it?" What happens when we release them from their
Vain eased back in
Kienan's chair, legs crossed, looking almost human in her contemplation.
"You think we should ask more from them?"
"I'm saying we
need to find a way to ensure that we have our eyes on them when we're down
there terminating Jaevin," Mirage said. "Given what they've told us
about their abilities, two bio-mechanoids ought to be easy for him to
manipulate, controls or no controls. Just the nature of their abilities makes
Vain said. "But if that's the case, and they're at full power, why didnt
they make us do what they wanted? Why the negotiation."
sure," Mirage said. She turned to Conscience.
"What do you
"Haxan ... are
enigmatic," Conscience said. "Mistrustful of outsiders but ... not
you say that?" Vain asked.
vital signs," Conscience said. "No variation."
"They could be
masking them," Mirage said. "No telling what they havent told us
about the extend of their abilities."
Vain said. "But we have to trust them. This is what Kienan ordered us to
do -- find the Haxan and get them to resurrect the woman by any means. And we
promised never to fail him in anything he asked. Even if it means we're
doublecrossed, or even destroyed. We are sworn to him unto death."
Vain rose to her
feet and walked to the door of the bridge. "Let's go," was all she
the Sekhmet advance through the town from a rooftop, watching them take their
time about destroying buildings and killing any human being they came across.
He reached into his
jacket and pulled out his golden mask. It was a relic from his days as an
assassin, a special piece of technology that was designed specifically for him.
He attached it to his face, the soft flexible metal affixing to his skin. He
opened his eyes and suddenly his field of vision was enhanced with light blue
sensory details, the blurry, dust-clouded Sekhmet suddenly snapped into full
he thought. The armor details are a little
changed but they're Sekhmet. Never seen any type like this before though. And
no two alike. Very unusual.
There was a high
whining noise in the sky above. He looked upwards in time to see a blue-armored
flying Sekhmet, his transparent pink wings glittering in the midday sun, swoop
past him at incredible speed, the cannons embedded in his legs strafing the
roof. Toriares considered his options for a split-second and leapt off the roof
as the cannon fire tracked him.
So much for
patiently observing and waiting for my shot, style='font-family:
Arial'> Toriares thought, using the magnet beam in his cane to cushion his
descent. He hit the ground and extended it to it maximum length, landing in the
center of a trio of the Sekhmet style='mso-spacerun:yes'> --
style='mso-spacerun:yes'> Uragenax, Zularax, and Toran.
The one that
immediately concerned Toriares was the massive Uragenax, who was leveling a
heavy energy blaster at his face. He ducked underneath the lumbering giant in
time to see Zularax him launch parts of himself towards him. The parts affixed
themselves to nearby walls and even the green-armored Sekhmet. They unrolled
into what Toriares looked to Toriares like mechanical worms and began gnawing
into whatever they were crawling upon as they advanced.
grossest thing I think I've ever seen," Toriares muttered, sliding
underneath Uragenax as he began frantically trying to pull the worms off his
body. Toriares reached behind him and pulled out the small shotgun he carried
and fired a few rounds at the copper-armored Sekhmet.
down, his body seeming to contract as hard metal plates extended from his back,
encasing him in a metal ball. Toriares fired a few more rounds but, whether due
to poor aim from having to dodge Uragenax or because his shotgun wasn't strong
enough, he couldn't punch through its armor.
Another reason, of
course, was because he was trying to dodge the wild attacks of Toran, who had
watched with bemusement as Toriares had eluded Uragenax. Of the three, the most
dangerous was Toran, fast, strong, and aggressive in a way Toriares had never
encountered in a Sekhmet before.
Uragenax said, tearing one of the mechanical grubs off his arm and squishing it
in his free hand. "Keep your weapons to yourself!"
the grub roll to the remains of a tapestry stand and attempt to devour the
cloth. Toriares turned his back just in time to dodge Toran's heat-flail as it
lashed over his head. His hand grazed against Uragenax's warm metal skin,
trying to stick too close to the slow giant and limit Toran's options to attack
him while he reloaded his shotgun.
Toran grunted to his fellow Sekhmet. His orange eyes glowed with rage as he
swung his heat-flail upwards, catching a nearby canopy and swinging off.
"If the two of you cant handle one human, you dont deserve my aid. I'll
finish destroying this village myself!"
Toriares thought, rolling next to the grub futilely
trying to eat the tapestry. It had failed miserably, succeeding only in
tangling its mandibles in the loose threads.
What the hell
for? There's nothing of value here for them. And why the hell am I able to
understand them? Sekhmet soldiers dont use translators -- they dont need them
and dont care if you understand them.
And they sure as
hell don't refer to themselves as "I." There's more here than meets
the tapestry stand apart with a blast from his cannon. Toriares shielded his
body as best his could against the splintering wood and shrapnel from the rocks
beyond and nearly tripped over Zularax, still an iron ball.
Never mind the
internal monologue, Toriares chided
himself. Youre the man with the plan. Put it all together.
He thought back to
when he'd brushed up against Uragenax's skin.
Metal. Not the
usual composite material they use. Actual metal.
Toriares tapped his
cane against Zularax's iron shell and gestured to Uragenax.
Toriares exclaimed. He pointed his cane at Uragenax. "Since I can understand
you, I'm pretty certain you understand me. I surrender. Go on and kill me, I
promise I won't move."
Uragenax raised his
blaster at Toriares and fire. Toriares leapt backwards at the last minute, the
magnet beam in his cane locked on his arm and blowing apart Zularax's iron
Toriares said, jumping back toward the tapestry stand as Zularax rose to his
feet and Uragenax fired again. "I guess I lied."
He reached under
the rubble for the tapestry he had seen the grub stuck on.
Zularax said. "You dare to fire on me?" His mandibles opened
wide and vomited a stream of bright green liquid into Uragenax's faceplate,
eating into the metal with a vile hissing noise.
covering the grub up like it was a fresh piece of fruit in a grocery bag. With
tip of his cane he scraped two more off a nearby wall they were hastily
he thought, knotting the tapestry. Play rough
with each other just a few more seconds ...
sensory systems blinded by the liquid thrashed about and fired wildly until
Zularax snatched the rifle from his hands and turned to face Toriares.
But Toriares was
Zularax said. "Show yourself and die!"
Toriares used the
tip of his cane to tap Zularax on his shoulder. Zularax turned his head
quickly, just in time to be smashed across the faceplate by the tapestry full
of his metal grubs.
backward, his mandibles dented shut, his sensors momentarily damaged. Had he
been aware of his place in space at the moment, he would have noticed he was
stumbling backward closer to Uragenax, who was thrashing his arms in the
direction of Zularax's voice.
Zularax again and again with his improvised mace, breaking one of his mandibles
off and sending his venom leaking down his face and onto his chest. As it did
it began to eat away at his own armor. Zularax began thrashing around in a
blind panic, his head skewed at a thirty-degree angle.
backward and tried to fire Uragenax's gun at Toriares but found that it
wouldnt fire -- apparently it had been coded to fire only for the Sekhmet it
was designed for. Toriares watched Zularax stumble around as if drunk and right
into the patch of Uragenax's mighty hand.
Toriares threw the
sack of grubs at Zularax, bumping him into range. Uragex sliced Zularaxs head
off his shoulders with a wave of his hand, causing the machine to cease
functioning and launch the Sekhmet pilot free.
Or it would have, had
the ejection system not been damaged along with Zularax's armor plating. As it
was, the spinal cockpit of the machine sprang outward like a cassette ejecting,
but didnt clear the damaged machine.
Toriares smiled and
was planning to flee when he began considering two inescapable facts. One was
Uragenax, having found his weapon, moving toward him, crushing Zularax and the
remains of his machine body under his feet, apparently having regained enough
of his sight to continue his attack.
The other thing was
that a fire was beginning to burn through the streets of the town, making the
late afternoon even hotter and choking the air with smoke and most important of
all, cutting off any route of escape except for one:
who was even now charging his weapon for a blast that would reduce Toriares to
an ashen shadow on the dirty street.