Sunday, 26 June 2011

Fall Out

Four people sat on top of the broad hill and looked over the estate. It swept far across to the horizon on all sides, and beyond the grand chasm. Two of the four were children, Kamilo always quiet and curious, and Ithiria, a wilder child with eyes of fire and the restraint of angels. A nurse sat with them, looking after them, fussing over them and making sure they were safe. Behind her one of the eternal guards, one of Ithiria Deritan's paladin elite. To the children, the guard was a part of their natural life. To his embarrasment sometimes they called him daddy.

This day he sat with them. In truth since he was given the position he had felt like family to the children, he spent nine out of every ten days with them, more than he spent with his own. The nurse as wel he considered family, and indeed they were close, closer than they should have been. But when you spend such time with someone and you hold their life in your hands, and theirs in yours, people do come together. If anything, it made me him wary of everyone and everything.

In his ear a communicator was relaying to him the security information of interest. Number of ships approaching and departing the planet, nothing out of the ordinary, all scheduled. Presence of ships from flagged corporations or alliances in the system and the eyes that watched them as they passed through. The list went on, but always his eyes were looking around. He frowned however when static burst through the comms channel and was on his feet in a second, weapon charged and at the ready.

"Station 1, report. Station 1."
Nothing. He looked up, several dim flashes in the sky, bright enough to be seen through the azure blue of the sky.
"Station 3, report."
Nothing. Looking up he saw the trails incoming, dropships. He swept Ithiria into his arm and watched as the concerned nurse picked up Kamilo.
"Ayesha, we got company. We're falling back to the secondary landing strip."
"Who is it?"
"I dont know, but if they were friendly they would come in the front door and not through the ceiling."
Tripple A fire from the main estate fort began arcing into the sky, the grey trails of missiles lauching from hidden batteries, the yellow black explosions as dropships were plucked from the sky, a rain of their cargo, dead and dying troops and equipment. Bringing his binoculars up he watched the troops dispersing from the dropships that had landed. A near perfect deployment in some areas as troops and tanks began to set up a perimeter, in others they were cut down by the defenders. But even from here he could see the estate was going to fall, more dropships were coming down.

Something caught his eye on the far side caught his eye. Four fast transports were leaving the estate and heading to the backup airstrip. Damn, he'd have to change his destination, tanks from one of the platoons were chasing them, the rear two transports suffering hits and rolling, the third stopping in the middle of the road and three people disembarking. He couldn't make them out, but something familiar struck his mind, about the movements of them.

The survivors of the two transports staggered out of the wreckage only to be gunned down by the troops supporting the tanks after they had been scanned. So, they were looking for someone. The first tank exploded, taking a good cluster of infantry with it and he noticed two of the figures were in amongst the troops, watching them fire wildly as the two sword equipped women ripped through them.
"Ayesha, we have to go now. Is everything ready?"
He turned and looked at the nurse and stopped. A woman was standing beside the nurse in a black commando combat suit. Behind her, two black clad paladins. He recognised the woman, the uniforms and the markings on the paladins. It was the same markings as the dropships and the tanks. Little Ithiria turned and smiled
Ja'li smiled and waved with her free hand.
"You have been a good guard to my children, and you a good nurse. But I am here to take them back. Give me my children and you stand a better chance of surviving what is coming."
"I have my orders. Only Ithiria Deritan is to order the movement of these children, regardless of who their mother is!"
The two paladins slung their plasma rifles and advanced. One taking Kamilo from the nurse, the other standing before the guard.
"Too bad."
There was a whispering sound and a cry from the nurse as she slipped to the ground, the side of her white uniform turning red as blood issued forth from the stab wound. The guard snarled and pulled his weapon up, a scream on his lips as he depressed the firing stud.

The last two transports barrelled into the airfield and stopped beside one of the large cargo planes that were on the side of the runway. Brute and his companion leapt out of one of them and Carmilla and Relana leapt out of the other. From the back of the transports people fled towards the plane as directed by Brute. Carmilla looked up at the hill and saw the exchanges of gunfire then nothing.
"I have to get up there. Get aboard the plane I'll meet you at the starport.
A hand lashed out and slapped Carmilla in the face. She looked up at Relana.
"You do not dare give me orders slave."
Carmilla's clenched fist lashed out connecting with her Mistresses jaw sending her sprawling unconscious in the dirt. She picked her up and handed her to Brute.
"She'll flay you alive for that Carm."
"It's no worse than what Ithiria will do if I don't rescue those kids."
"Carm. Slave only has one Master. You know that, and it's not Ithiria."
"I know Brute. But are you going to leave those two kids up there? And Ayesha and Kameron?"
Brute paused and shook his head and held out his hand.
"If I don't see you, it's been an honour Carmilla."
"Likewise Brute. Get my Mistress to safety."
She grabbed a rifle from the cabin of the truck and started to run up the hill. Halfway up a landing craft hovered near the top and landed clumsily. As she reached the top she saw several paladins disembark and run over to the woman in black. Carmilla recognised her almost immediately and her scream was heard above the whining of the engines. Ja'li turned around as the children were picked up and taken crying to craft. Carm stood before her, panting, anger in her eyes.

"Is this all your doing?"
"Yes. I'm surprised to see you here Carm. I thought you'd be chained to your Mistress like the dog you are."
"You are killing hundreds of people. Innocent people!"
"Dont' act so noble to me Carmilla. I know your past, what you've done. You've done worse than this so don't give me that crap!"
"I never kidnapped children!"
"They are my children!"
"They are Ithiria's!"
They both raised their weapons and looked at each other over the sights. There was no love lost here, but for the sake of old times neither fired. There was a scream as the young Ithiria leapt out of the guards clutches and ran to the two women, wrapping her arms around Carm's legs. Ja'li's eyes flared.
"Come to me child, I am your mother."
"No you're not. You killed Kam.... you're a monster!"
Carm turned her head to look at her friend and saw him lying flat, it was a fatal mistake as Ja'li fired, at her before leaping at her. The shot grazed her neck and disorientated her and Ja'li's boot slammed into her chest knocking her back. Ja'li picked up the screaming child and pointed her weapon at Carm then laughed, anger and madness in her glaring eyes.
"You'll pay for that. You turned them against me. If you believe in any gods, call on them now. My god is in orbit and this place will cease to exist."
She lashed out with her boot and caught Carm a glancing blow then ran to the dropship. Carm got up and fired at it as it turned and flew away, the shots just glancing off of it's armour. She screamed and looked around. The other dropships were pulling back and departing, Brute had taken off in the plane. She was alone. Turning she started running back to the airstrip towards the nearest plane, a sporty twin engined passenger carrier. Long range, good speed. It had to be enough.

The dropsships landed in the forward bay of the Agressor, Ja'li's Leviathan class titan. She carried both the children over to the nurses she had on standby.
"Take them to the nursery, and as soon as we reach our destination make sure they are safe. Commander, give orders to the fleet, nothing is to leave that planet. If it takes off, destroy it. I'll be on the bridge."
Even with the fastest turbo lifts it still took five minutes to get to the bridge. Walking over to the doomsday controls she sat down and started to input the target location, the estate in the centre to take the first shot, then the other six shots around the centre. A large area of the estate would be sterilised by the nuclear missiles that were about to be launched. She waited as the targets were all locked and then pressed the button to fire.

Carmilla landed her plane and ran across the starport pad to the transport. Brut had loaded everyone inside and was standing in the forward hatch, waving her over.
"For the love of it all Carm hurry the hell up!"
She dived in and ran to the bridge, Brute running beside her.
"Your Mistress is in her cabin, one of the girls is with her. But we got trouble.. something big in orbit....
"Mothership or Titan. Ja'li always did like to push the envelope. Strap in, this is going to get bumpy."

The transport cleared the starport and headed away, its' engines coming online when the first missile hit. Luckily they were facing away from the flash, when she looked out the window she saw the great mushroom cloud in the distance and saw the approaching shock wave. Once it hit they were finished, they'd never make orbit before it hit. Then she saw something and smiled and dove downwards, into the grand chasm. As she flew into the unknown of the chasm and started going deeper other missiles hit. The chasm shook as the ground and air above them burned. Brute looked on ashen faced as large fragments of the chasm wall detached and fell down, Carmilla flying the golden transport with an uncanny skill. Several times there was jarring thuds as the ship was hit, but still she flew on until she deemed it safe.

Relana awoke and left the cabin angry, her sword sheath in her hand and fury in her eyes as she rubbed her chin. The anger faded as she walked out the ship and stood next to Carm and Brute and several of the rescued passengers. She looked over and noticed the other slave girl, the new one cowering behind Brute and Carmilla, holding on to them both.
"Oh my god."
"I'm sorry Mistress that I laid a hand on you. But if I didn't.... you might still be over there."
The small group looked over at the horizon, the tops of the seven mushroom clouds were visible, just through the smoke. It seemed like the entire horizon was on fire. Shooting stars were ever present in the sky, ships that were leaving trying to escape the inferno, shot down by the ships in orbit.
"Carmilla.... somehow I think Ithiria should have told me that where you walk death walks behind you."
"Behind me? Hell... with the people I know who want me dead or worse... I am death."
Brute laid his hand on her shoulder and squeezed.
"This wasn't your fault."
Rel leaned in and whispered into her ear.
"If you think nuclear holocaust is going to get you away from your punishment for striking me, think again. It has just postponed it."
She kissed her slaves cheek and returned to the ship. Carmilla stood still and watched as yet another the places she called home burned. Pretty soon she mused, I'll have no where left to go.
"Come on Brute. There isn't a blockade that I can't outrun in one of these."

In orbit Ja'li watched as the fires spread, the estate burned in the nuclear fire. She might get some fall out for destroying the estate, and a good many people died, included her mothers favorite. Well, old favorite. She'll probably be more angry for that, she mused, than loosing the estate. Not that she's too happy with me at the moment. But it'll pass. It always does.
"Set course for home. Disperse the fleet. If anyone needs me...."
She paused and smiled.
"I'll be with my children."

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