Long Fall — Chapter 50

…and then came Chapter 50: Earthbound Piston.

If you’re just joining Biotech Legacy: Long Fall, you can find all of the preceding chapters right here at the Oktopod Blog.

The previous novel, Biotech Legacy: Stars Rain Down, is currently available exclusively through Amazon.

Going down…


Chapter 50
Earthbound Piston

Jack shot out of the heavens like a divine spear. His target was only a few kilometers down… and he couldn’t believe he was thinking in those kinds of terms already.

The peculiar new addition to his vision caught glimpses of things thrusting, spinning, and exploding in the snow that churned all around him. The rings of Nefrem craft stuck out in particular, forming patterns in the sky like a murderous and constantly changing mandala. They clashed mainly with the Legacy gunships, whose burning lances were actually powerful enough to do them harm.

One of the thrusting, spinning things in the air took an interest in Jack and charged toward him, and the only option he had at his speed was to take the hit. Black armor knocked him sideways, something held aloft on dark wings that spat out blue flames.

Jack caught a look and realized it was Smokey, complete with a replacement arm and a variety of other new components. There was no escaping the robo-bear’s grip, and together they streaked through the thrashing storm toward a wide and undulating Nefrem vehicle.

The enemy’s shoulder crushed Jack down and they broke through the vessel’s hull, both pummeled by the same bones and dense organs as they went. Next, they exploded into an open chamber and shot down at the floor, chased by the biotechnological gore they shredded on their way in.

The room was filled with Nefrem infantry waiting to do battle below. The smaller ones were men with bodies twisted into hateful weapons, and towering above them were mechanized monsters standing fifteen-meters high, shaped as if by some gruesome glandular disorder. With no regard for their own safety, the Nefrem troops turned on the two invaders and opened fire.

Explosions sounded everywhere, a fast drum that burst living bodies apart with its morbid beat.

Jack narrowly avoided the brunt of it by lurching into motion at the last instant, and he continued out running along the walls. Fire chased him all the way, snapping at his heels like firecrackers, until he dove back into the crowd and engaged them as one.

The next part came naturally even though his memories were several million years old and tattered like old cloth. The Nefrem hadn’t changed that much, and the billion Eireki recollections of fighting the horde resonated inside him, guiding his body as he slid between them, wrenched them apart, crushed their brain cases.

One after another, the Nefrem fell and fell while Jack danced among them, striking and fading, leaping from danger only to dive back into the hairball. He launched backward off one creature’s face, gripped the next one’s neck as he landed and snapped it in half, flung the remains through another on the charge, and finally launched himself like a javelin through a giant’s chest.

As he landed, he snapped back around to survey the room. He found only the mass of the fallen and his black opponent standing in a pile of them. It looked as if the Nefrem/Union alliance might be suffering a few technical glitches.

Smokey stood still and regarded him, and Jack capitalized on the opportunity. He drove his fist through the floor and dove out through the gaping wound.

Judging by scream of jet thrusters that erupted behind him, Smokey was still hot on his trail.

Jack needed to make himself harder to follow. He spun and angled to the side, flexing himself like a wing against the wind to change direction. Her zeroed in on a New Union fighter, punched through its wing and caught hold of the other side, sending the craft into an uncontrolled spin that left a spiral of black smoke behind it.

He put his feet under him and launched off in a new direction while Smokey kicked hard and blasted his jets hotter to keep up.

Jack’s flat trajectory took him over one of the Legacy gunships and he slid to a stop on its smooth hull, turning at the same time to watch his enemy approach. He slapped both hands down and the link sparked immediately to life, allowing his spirit to grasp hold of the gunship’s forward turret. He brought its cluster of barrels around and energy surged out from his hollow-drive at the same time, flowing through the gunship’s pseudo-living body, and finally spitting out beams of accelerated particles so bright they seemed to darken the air all around.

Smokey wheeled in the air but couldn’t avoid the blast. Chunks of mechanized man flew off, melting and disintegrating in the debris-choked air, and he twisted inside the blinding flames. In another instant, he tore his airframe free and threw the mangled mess straight through the gunship’s cockpit.

Jack couldn’t react in time. He felt the machine wail and die through the link, then it listed to the side and began to drop toward the still distant ground.

Smokey’s smaller jets blasted and he latched onto a cuttlefish zooming by. His black hands tore chunks of flesh free as he clambered across its surface, and the Yuon Kwon tried in vain to shake him loose. Jack simultaneously rounded on him. From their respective airborn perches, they each sprinted forward and leapt out into the storm.

Jack and Smokey struck with a thunderclap so fierce it caused fighters in the nearby air to wobble and tumble. Together, the two newtypes dropped toward the Earth like a cannonball.

They scrabbled for dominance while trading vicious blows to the head, joints, ribs. The air around them filled with shards of black ceramic and multi-colored Eireki tile. Arm-bars turned to reversals, followed by a mutual lock that wouldn’t be undone.

Smokey’s droning mechanical voice growled, causing his entire metal frame to shake. Jack simply concentrated. He felt the Earth’s gravitation like an overwhelming force, a tide that never rested, never faltered. His hollow-drive sang out and the two wells resonated with each other. His acceleration increased.

“How?” Smokey howled as his thrusters impotently whined against the crushing weight.

Light twisted in a bubble around them like decorative blown glass. It swirled with ethereal light in a hundred shades of white, while the ground quickly approached.

Jack readied his red hand, aimed at the bright source of energy in Smokey’s torso, and then he thrust. His entire body projected out and through the strike as the Earth rushed up to meet them.

Impact.

A hollow bubble of air popped with a sound like a giant rubber band being strummed.

Jack stood up, stumbled to the side a few steps, and looked down at the impaled machine at his feet… at the spray of broken components that littered the otherwise pristine white snow… at the hundred-meter crater that surrounded them.

And still Smokey wasn’t dead.

Parts of its face hung limply to the side, revealing wires and shorn circuit boards behind. Its arms and legs were gone, crumbled and torn to bits. The skeletal stub of one leg moved in mindless circles.

It croaked, “Finish it, alien.”

Jack opened his facemask.

There was a pregnant second before Smokey said, “Human! Human? Howwww… how can you… fucking… hate your own kind… this much?”

Jack felt his hackles rise, but he didn’t answer. He didn’t say a word. Nor did he reach inside and crush the small mass of living tissue inside of Smokey’s shell, kept alive by a set of backup batteries and emergency systems. Instead, he simply turned and walked off toward the shadow of Donovan waiting a kilometer in the distance.


Next on deck is Chapter 51: An Imperfect Heart. Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow… who can tell anymore?

~Chris

Copyright 2013. All rights (currently) reserved.

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