Sunday, 14 September 2014

Crash and Burn - Innocent Lives

Brother Matthew awoke to the sound of sirens and the violent jarring of the ship. His neophyte was cowering in a corner, snivelling and recieved a just slap around the head. Pulling his cassock on and fastening his heavy belt he opened his copy of the teachings of the True One and picked a line at random. Only with fire is the devil purged, though fire can work both ways, for it is mischievous. He mused for a moment and pulled his bag from the overhead locker.
"Come along Tobias, we should ask the Captain why we have been disturbed."
"Master, it must be pirates! Who else would attack a confederate transport?"
Who indeed, he mused, perhaps it was wrong to take such a ship on the eve of the devil's work. The DEN were planning a hunt, a parody of honour, barbarism pure and simple. Animals, nothing more. And yet these animals might make a hunt of the True Ones servants, and that was not permitted.
"We shall see, come Tobias, and bring your bags. There is Gods work to do this day."

The Captain was calm, though he could see that all was lost. His two escorts were already burning, their hulls spinning, and one of the agressors was also dead. But there were two more. His maneauvers were good, but they were faster, his shields were good, but their weapons were faster than his recharge rate. And out here on the Rim there was no room for errors, and help might not come. So regardless of his orders, he swung his ship towards the planet and tried to run for it. The thought of jettisoning his cargo never crossed his mind. A cargo of pioneers, colonists for one of the outposts. There was no way he would let them be sport for the Dewiek.

Suddenly the ship started to shudder and whine, the engines slowing. He ordered more speed, but none came. Tractor beams? Damn them, they meant to board! He keyed the intercom.
"All hands, this is the Captain. Prepare for boarding, issue weapons to all who can carry them!"
He noticed the ships had stopped shooting him now. The large ship was maneauvering for boarding while the smaller one skittered around. With frantic hands he moved all available power to the engines, but it wasn't working. The ship was stopping and there was little he could do.

The two ships slammed into each other then rebounded slightly. An armoured docking tube from the Dewiek ship slammed into the transport, cutting torches burning into it's hull. Inside the hull portion slammed onto the floor and the civilians inside watched in horror, as the giant wolves walked into the ship, festooned with weapons. With a howl they cut down, their blood spattering the walls. On the bridge the Captain began lowering bulkheads and directing troops.

The civilians ran, along with some troops and ended up in the aft cargo hold. The soldiers held the advancing Dewiek off, bit by bit, but their numbers were thinning. Crying children, weeping mothers, and the stoic men of the Confederacy, proud to the point of death, armed with what weapons they could waited to pay for their lives with Dewiek blood. Outside the door the firing stopped and an intense banging started, a hammering and a howling. Weapons were trained on the corridor, a killing zone that lead to the door and then there was silence. All watched as the doors lock opened and slowly swung in. There were sighs and praises as they looked on the form of Brother Matthew, wreathed in smoke. Behind him his neophyte was making sure the bodies were dead and then they both stepped in and closed the door.
"Brothers and sisters. Fear not for they shall be here soon, and one way or another we shall see who is stronger this day. For I will stand and fight with you, as the True One stands with you. These animals are heathens, and do not know the way of the True One, but we shall give them a gift of the True One this day." With that he pulled a weapon from his bag and checked it. And indeed, etched along the side were the words 'Gift of the True One'.

The door to the aft cargo hold opened again and a wolf stood at the door while his companions looked at the dead around them.
"You cower in the darkness, hiding in the bowels of the ship, hoping we will not notice you. But we can smell your fear, smell the prey. Come out and face our judgement, or we shall come in and slaughter you all."
Brother Matthew stood his ground and gazed at the creature before him.
"Who are you to stand in my way? You, are you worthy? Or are you more cattle like these confederates?"
The great wolf walked a few steps into the corridor and stood astride it, slamming another cartridge into it's weapon.
"Oh I am worthy, O Devil. The question is, are you?"
"I am White Strides of the Dewiek and I come here to hunt our Prey. You, are not prey. But out here, what does that matter, I shall have your skull for my trophy wall."
The other Dewiek behind him turned and backed him up.
"And the Lord shall say unto his shepard, be warned of the wolf, for they shall prey on your flock. And thus the Lord gave his shepard the greatest gift."
White Strides howled with laughter.
"Holy man, you preach to those who do not believe. But you are true, we... WE are the wolves, and we shall prey on your flock."
"Then I have no other choice but to give you the greatest gift that my Lord gave me."
"And what is that, prey?"
There was a click and a hiss as a pilot light was turned on. Brother Matthew brought his gift up and let the Wolf see it for a moment and understand before he pulled the trigger.
"In the name of the True One, I call thee Devil!"
Gouts of liquid fire covered the Wolf and those behind him. Their screams were terrifying and echoed through the ship. Other Dewiek turned and headed towards them. Brother Matthew simply walked over the burning bodies, his Inquisitorial Robes immune to fire, behind him his neophyte singing hymns of the Inquisition.

Inside the Dewiek ship the pack leader checked his weapons and those of the crew with him. Something was going wrong, that fool White Strides had failed to take down a simple transport of colonists. He raised his head and sniffed then turned to the docking tube. At the end a man stood, holding a great flame thrower.
"If you had fought with honour, wolf, I would call you out and fight you one on one. But you slaughter without regard, innocent lives have been taken and that cannot be allowed. By the power of the Inquisition and the True One, I call thee Devil and send you back to the hell from which you were spawned!"
"Wait! You dare use a flame thrower in space? Are you insane?"
Brother Matthew pulled back the hood of his cassock. The eyes of the zealot glared back, daring him to say more.
"Thou shall not suffer a Devil to live. If it cost the lives of a hundred of my brothers I would still follow my heart."
The pack leader through himself aside as the torrent of flame poured into his ship and slammed his paw on the airlock quick close. On the other side he saw his men burning and felt the implosion as the docking tube cracked. Alarms sounded as the glass on the airlock cracked. He had enough time to howl one last time before he was sucked out when the glass gave way.

The Captain of the Transport felt his engines return and slammed them onto full throttle. Alarms were ringing all around the ship, people were screaming on his bridge but he kept heading to the planet. Computer screens were flashing, structural integrity was failing. When he was close enough to the planet he sealed the various holds and one by one ejected them on a safe trajectory, then instructed his crew to get to the life boats. He cursed the Dewiek and settled back into the seat as his ship started skimming the atmosphere. At least, he thought, the crew were safe.

Brother Matthew pulled himself out of the jettisoned hold and looked around. Desert stretched as far as the eye could see. Looking up he saw the remains of the transport as it finally disintigrated, the debris raining down like stars. With a sigh, and with his neophyte salvaging as much water as he could carry, they both started walking.
"Master, where are we going?"
"The True One will guide us, and that is all I need to know."

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