Thursday, January 31, 2013

Elfin Warfare - Chapter Two

“You know I hate fixing these things.” Levi said as he peeled Freya’s skin back with a pair of tweezers and looked through a magnifying glass into the tiny cut on her arm, “And this one’s gonna be some real trouble. I’ll have to cut your hand to get in there and fix the damn thing.”

“I know.” Freya answered. She was lying down on a medical table. The walls of the room were once white, now they were stained with blood and dirt from the various times Freya needed repair. Scorch marks covered a portion of one of the walls. They caught Freya’s attention, “What happened there?”

Levi glanced up and followed her gaze to the wall. “Oh.” he said. A childish smile spread across his face, “I was just playing with a new toy. Alright, hold still.”

Levi grabbed a small surgical knife from the table next to him, and with steady precision he made a slice down Freya’s left arm. She flinched a bit; she didn’t like pain. That was part of the reason she destroyed her enemies so quickly, so they wouldn’t be able to inflict pain on her. But she also wanted them to feel as little pain as possible as well.

“Alright, I see the hole. Damn little thing, I don’t have a patch that small. What’re you doing getting splinters in your ellicit veins? Of all the things to poke with a piece of wood.”

Freya gave a cold glance to her doctor. This didn’t go unnoticed and he said amusedly; “Why do you always have to find the worst possible meanings in my statements, Freya? Does Alcuin know your mind is in the gutter?”

“What would it matter to Alcuin? And my mind is not ‘in the gutter.’”

“What would it matter to Alcuin? It might matter a little bit more then he’d let on. Oh damn.” Levi added, quick to change his own subject, “Frey, I’m going to have to replace the section of vein here, there’s no way I’ll be able to get a patch there without cutting off circulation to your thumb.”

“That makes no sense.”

“I’m the doctor here, just roll with it.”

The black door to Freya’s right swung open just then. Alcuin walked into the room, he now wore his military clothes, the armor he wore on the field. Bulletproof but not ellicitproof. An orange cape hung from his shoulders, showing his rank as Lt. Commander. It was a position he took lightly. He hadn’t asked for it, but Geov had chosen him as his successor.

“Is she okay?” Alcuin asked anxiously.

Levi looked up from his work to answer; “Dude, she got pricked by a splinter. She’s perfectly fine.”

“Well, you’ve got her arm all open and-”

“The puncture was too small to patch, I have to replace the vein. It really is a pain, I wish her ellicit veins would just heal themselves. It’s the one foil about her being part robot, I have to fix her every time she scrapes one of these things.”

“I’m sorry to be such a pain.” Freya added dryly.

“It’s not your fault.” Levi said as he pushed her skin back down and wrapped a bandage around her arm, “Alright, you’re set. Alcuin, I see you’re ready.”

“Yeah. Commander Geov and Dora will be accompanying us.”

Freya sat up and silently slid off the edge of the medical table. Her armored feet hit the black tiled floor with a light click.

“Thank you, Levi. May I have my arm back now?” the elfin girl asked, nodding towards the portion of blue armor on a nearby countertop.

Levi turned to look at the armor, as if he’d forgotten it, before answering her question; “Not unless there’s an emergency. It would irritate the slice I just had to put in your arm. And that would be bad.”

Freya seemed irritated by the answer she received. Despite this she did not persist in the matter any further, she knew Levi was right. And she also didn’t feel up to arguing with him and his so-called logic. She looked over to Alcuin. Dressed in his armor and cape she thought he looked a bit like a carrot with glasses and a fuzzy mound of dirt on top. A small smile forced itself onto her face from this thought.

“Hey, why are we headin’ to the capitol anyways?” Levi asked.

“We were summoned by the King himself. He says he may have found a way to turn the tides of this war in our favor.” Alcuin responded in a more serious tone than he had used before.

“I thought Freya was already doing that.” Levi said, gathering some tools and the piece of Freya’s armor into a small bag.

“You don’t seriously expect her to win this war for us, do you? Even she has limits.” Alcuin argued.

“Yeah, but we don’t know what those limits are. Has she even broken a sweat in the battles we’ve encountered so far? Does she even sweat?”

“I’m standing right here. I can hear everything you’re saying.” Freya growled irritably. She didn’t appreciate being discussed as a weapon of war.

“Alright, enough of this. We have to report to the Commander. Now. So finish packing your things Levi.” Alcuin said, wary of Freya’s unseen wrath.

“Fine, fine. I’m packin‘. Although I’ve got something’ for you, Alcuin.” Levi answered, pointing to a closet in the corner of the room.

Alcuin approached the closet. It was larger then himself and built of a flimsy metal. Slowly he opened one of the dull gray doors. The last time he had carelessly opened one of Levi’s closets, he had nearly lost his head to an automatic ellicit blaster. Nothing happened, the shelves were empty except for a red cylinder about the length of a finger. Alcuin grabbed the cylinder from the shelf.

“What is this?” he asked, turning to face Levi.

“That is the bottom of this.” Levi answered as he grabbed at something beneath his desk.

From beneath the white laboratory desk Levi revealed a human length red stick. At one end of the stick was a jagged yellow object that slightly resembled a lightning bolt.

“And what would that be?” Freya asked, her patience with Levi’s games lost.

“This is the new toy I was telling you about. It’s a spear I designed. That top piece is an ellicit chamber. That bottom piece in Alcuin’s hand is actually a trigger. Twisting it while it’s attached to the spear will heat the ellicit in the chamber.”

“What does heating ellicit do? I’ve never heard of that doing anything special.” Alcuin questioned.

“Then you, my friend, are poorly educated. Heated ellicit is what makes her blades so deadly.” Levi answered, glancing over to Freya.

“So this spear is as powerful as my swords?” Freya asked curiously.

“No. Your swords were funded completely by the government, I had to pay for the materials in his spear myself. But the spear is more powerful then the ellicit guns used by the Elfin Empire.”

“That’s pretty powerful.” Alcuin said, very impressed, then he remembered that they had somewhere to be, “Thanks for the weapon Levi. I’m afraid we don’t have time for a demonstration though. We really have to get going.”

“Right, I better get dressed.” Levi added. And without hesitation he had zipped up his vest.


--------------------


Commander Geov paced impatiently before the gates of the military fortress. Alcuin was late, too late. The sun had risen to its highest and beat on Geov remorselessly. Dora was also growing impatient, though she hid her impatience with an emotionless face. Strapped to the girls back were two very large guns of unique design. They were modified from bullet guns, now they fired powerful blasts of ellicit. Unlike Geov, Dora wasn’t heavily armored. She wore an upper torso piece, but that was all she had for armor. She was dressed just as she was in the mess hall; a green jacket and skirt piece with knee-high field boots.

“I’m losing my patience with Alcuin. If he doesn’t arrive in the next thirty seconds you’re the new Lieutenant Commander.” Geov grumbled.

“It’s possible that Freya’s injury was more serious then we thought.” Dora suggested.

“Serious? Injury? Dora, she got a splinter! I understand that she punctured one of her cyborg things, an ellicit vein was it? But a splinter is a splinter! This wait is ridiculous!”

“Yes. I suppose it is.” Dora said quietly, turning her gaze downwards.

“Wow Commander, you sure do like to hang around with the ladies, don’t ya?” a familiar voice asked.

Geov turned to see who it was, but he already knew before he had done so. Lace approached from the road near Dora‘s right. The skinny man was still atop his horse. His gaze fell to the quiet girl, his eyes sparkled with temptation.

“She’s a short one, isn’t she? Sure is cute though.” Lace commented as he ordered his horse to circle around Dora, “Can I take her home tonight, since I don’t think you need both her and the blue haired one.”

Dora backed towards her Commander nervously. She didn’t like Lace and this was only their first meeting. Her gaze remained downwards, watching the shadows of the people around her and the horse’s brown hooves.

“Listen you dirty little sell sword, the women here are not objects for your amusement. They are to be treated as equals, or in your case, superiors.” Geov sternly replied as he stepped between Dora and Lace.

“Ah, you’re so cheap, Commander. How are we supposed to keep our morale up if we don’t have anything to look forward to at night?” Lace asked while he looked for a way around Geov. Lace commanded his horse to step to the right, but Geov again blocked the man’s path.

The Commander placed one hand on the hilt of his sword and said; “Lace, your insubordination may cost you your life, think carefully or I will kill you.”

“I doubt you’d ever do that!” laughed the mercenary, “You barely have the heart to kill the enemy elves! You’d never have it in you to strike one of your men!”

“Do not test me, Lace. Leave.” Geov demanded.

“Well, come on then!” Lace said as he drew his own thin blade, “Kill me!”

Geov didn’t reply this time, he only tightened the grip of his large fist on the silver handle of his sheathed blade. He grit his teeth together and prepared himself mentally for what was inevitably to come. For a moment he and Lace stared at each other waiting for the other to move. Lace still smiled sickly and Geov glared disgustedly. The mercenary was first to move, slashing at his commander. Geov easily stepped to the side, avoiding the attack. In one quick motion Geov had drawn his mighty blade from its sheath and sliced Lace down from the shoulder. The mercenary’s smile slowly faded as he limply slid from his horse’s back.

Geov turned away from Lace’s corpse and sheathed his mighty blade. Dora stared up at her commander from behind her thin glasses. The Commander’s mouth was flipped to a long frown and his eyes seemed to sparkle with tears. She didn’t understand; he had won, why did he look so sad?

“Co-Commander?” she stuttered quietly.

He slowly turned to face her. When he spoke, his voice was filled with sadness; “Have you ever taken somebody’s life, Dora?”

“No, Commander. The only things I have struck down are the dummies used in our training exercises.”

“Taking a life, no matter how twisted, is never a happy moment. This is something you may someday learn. Though I hope that you never have to.”

Lace’s horse whinnied and shook it’s head impatiently. Geov had spared the beast the fate of its rider, and now the large man turned to face the animal. He placed his large hand on the back of the creature’s neck and apologized to the now orphaned animal. Geov had just decided to bring the horse on their journey to the capitol city when Alcuin, Freya and Levi called to him from not too far down the central road.

“What happened here?” Levi asked as he peered down at Lace’s body.

“Lace forced my hand. I finished him quickly, there was little pain.” Geov answered before looking towards the horse. He then spoke again, “This was Lace’s horse. He no longer has an owner, so we will be bringing him with us to Belyur.”

“Does he have a name?” Levi asked anxiously approaching the brown horse.

“No, you may name him if you like.” Geov replied, then he turned to Alcuin and spoke with a frustrated voice; “You are late.”

“I’m sorry, Commander Geov. Levi had wanted to show me a new weapon he invented. It harnesses ellicit in the same manner as Freya’s swords, though not as powerful,” Alcuin explained as he bowed in respect for the Commander.

“If that was the case I suppose you are excused. Any ounce of new strength found will do our efforts good,” Geov replied in a much softer tone. He looked back to Levi who was listing off names to the horse and asking Dora which was best.

Freya stepped forward, a question was on her mind and she needed to ask it; “Commander, why am I to go to Belyur? Wouldn’t this fort fall into the control of the Elfin Empire without the protection of you or myself?”

“Indeed, it is likely that we will lose control of this fort. But it does not give much more of an advantage to the elves since we’re on the border of our country and in the middle of the Setten Desert. It is not a great loss.” Geov explained.

“I see. But what of the lives of the soldiers staying in the fort now?”

“If it were up to me they would all be accompanying us, but,” Geov turned away from Freya and looked towards the gate that stood between them and miles of desert, then continued to speak, “King Raulsh orders that we leave them here. He says bringing them with us would only lure the elves further into Altoa.”

“In other words, the King believes the lives of these soldiers are expandable? And what of Medley? Is she expandable as well?” Freya asked Geov though she wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answer.

Geov suddenly looked much older; his face seemed to sag as he frowned. It took him a moment, but at last he turned and sadly uttered a single word; “Yes.”

At this point Dora approached the Commander, leaving Levi to list names and ask the opinion of the horse, who didn’t seem to like any of the suggested titles. She tapped Geov on the shoulder and pointed to the hundred foot double doors behind them. The doors had slowly begun to creep open, signifying that the time for departure had come. Geov checked over everyone a last time, making sure they had packed enough food and water for the three-day march. He tied everyone’s packs onto the back of the horse, whom Levi had decided was “Chester” then turned to face the doors which now were half open, revealing a view of the desert before them.

“Remember, there is no turning back. Once we step out of this fort the gate will close, and it will not open. If any of you wishes to remain here, speak now.” Geov offered.

Nobody said a word; nobody wanted to turn away. They were all too happy to get away from the uncivilized soldiers of the Setten Fort. They were all too excited to finally be adventuring out into the world again. They were all too blind to what lay before them. And so, one by one, they all stepped out into the scorching sun and the dry sand.

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