050 Those Who Watch the Sky - 50
50 – Children thrust Into the Sky 8
The sun had not even risen yet Elliot was boarding his Dolmen. The massive supply train had come to a stop at an impressive train depot that was seemingly in the middle of nowhere. As far as Elliot was concerned however that wasn’t the case. The Third wave of Scouts had been waiting for them when the train arrived and had already redeployed for the city of Ibrand. It was finally time for his unit to head out and the train depot was a sight of organized chaos.
“And after that great sunset.”
“This isn’t the time to be whining Feast.”
Focusing on the boot up process of his Dolmen making sure all of its loadout were in the clear from the Dolmen’s systems, Elliot did not bother looking in the direction of the cutout that held Feast’s face. Anything else Feast commented on in that morning chaos was further lost on him as he joined the general’s Dolmen at the lead of a group of some twenty Dolmen.
- All troops, move out! -
The order came from the external speakers of the general’s Dolmen and crackled across the train depot. Immediately the Dolmen unit as well as all of the infantry, mounted soldiers, and centaurs proceeded to step out into the predawn light. The sky was clear but the tension in the air was overwhelming and the nervousness rose up off of the troops in palpable waves. Uncertain as they were however, they were already out there and the only place to go was Ibrand.
Following the only road, more a dirt path than a road, from the train depot to Ibrand the sun soon rose and by midmorning a swath of Dolmen’s appeared on the horizon. They were the last wave of scout units and as the final wave reached them they fell in with it and reported on the situation ahead. There were no signs of any further survivors beyond those who had come into the care of the Foothold Militia, but there were signs that Sycamore and one other had entered the Foreigner city. That information further challenged the morale of the militia yet they still pressed on through the arid land that would take them to Ibrand.
“I don’t like this terrain…”
It did not benefit Elliot to speak aloud his thoughts, yet he did regardless as he scanned their surroundings. There was almost no vegetation save for wiry shrubs and grasses in the nooks and overhangs of the towering rock formations that jutted up out of the dusty earth. They were prime positions to hide a Dolmen or large collection of troops, but no one would have been so foolish to attack an army the size of the one marching for Ibrand and they continued unchallenged. Only military discipline kept them in step however as they reached the edge of a plateau overlooking where the city of Ibrand had once stood.
“My word… It’s…”
- Do not falter men. We proceed to the rendezvous point as planned. -
Elliot couldn’t find the words to describe what he felt looking out past the edge of the plateau. The general’s voice crackling out from his Dolmen though provided the only words that were necessary however and the Dolmens from the prior wave led the final wave down a slope to reach the valley floor below. As they descended though, not one soldier in the wave could take their eyes off of the crater they would soon descend into and the massive towering city of ancient technology that was half buried at its center. Massive ravines split the earth and spiderwebbed out from where they were formed from the descent of the Foreigner city. So close to it, it’s true city like details were clear to see though it still held its elongated ovoid shape. It was almost like a stack of saucers with layer after layer each holding a city that dwarfed even Foothold. That it towered into the sky taller than any mountain with impossible sized pylons connecting the separate layers and decaying external plating large enough to destroy small towns alone should any single plate fall left it hard to believe they could ever spot Sycamore within. Elliot felt the same looking at it and again verbalized his thoughts.
“Even if Mister Sycamore is in there, how can we possibly find him? And if he should find an airship what’s stopping him from just leaving above all of our heads?”
The general had little time for doubts and as soon as they were in short range radio distance began sharing information about the current situation and updating the primary plan. Before Elliot realized it he was standing at the meeting point of two ravines looking into the decrepit and overgrown city beyond. Staring into that impossible space his Dolmen automatically adjusted for the difference in light and he could see clearly within where unquestionably Foreigner beasts wandering within. Of greater interest to Elliot though was a flashing indicator on one of the screens above him and he pulled it down to look at it.
“I never even realized when they prepared you for the operation that they set your senses to detect heat trails.”
Impressed by the foresight of Foothold’s militia, Elliot carefully studied the decaying heat signature that entered the Foreigner city amongst many even weaker ones. It was obviously the most recent, but it did not seem to belong to two icarans.
“That can’t be right…”
Fiddling with the control pad next to the screen Elliot tried to get a better picture of what he was looking for and the Dolmen found it for him. The screen changing from a real time display of the existing heat signature trail to an analytical one it divided the most prominent of the external entry trails revealing that it was overlapping a second older one.
“What is it Silverlance.”
A cutout appeared before Elliot on the cockpit view of the Dolmen’s exterior holding the face of the lizardman general. Pulling down the screen on it’s attached arm Elliot spun it about to show the general.
“We’re not the first ones here or in pursuit of Sycamore.”
- All troops, be on the alert. We are not alone. Prepare to engage the enemy at any time! -
Elliot stopped paying attention to the rest of the general’s orders as he continued to stare into the city. It was bothering him on many levels from where he stood as he could not see all the way across it. It wasn’t just the support pylons either, but a massive central support that took up most of the center of the city that blocked his view all the way across. That center pillar itself was blocked out by the city itself with its towering buildings with some reaching the underside of the layer above and though built with and employing a technology far above what could be produced in any age of the history of Icarus they seemed human sized and accessable. Elliot’s view would be interrupted however as the general’s face returned in a cutout before him.
“Alright Silverlance, I hope that Dolmen of yours can make the jump. Its systems may be more advanced than the ones in the other models, but–”
The general did not finish his statement as he suddenly ordered his Dolmen to sprint to the edge of the ravine and leapt across. It was not a fully successful leap however and he had to grab hold of the edge of the peeled back plating that was his entry point. The general was not alone in attempting the maneuver and all around the Foreigner city groups of Dolmen’s were attempting similar leaps into similar gaps in the external armor of the city. Not everyone was as fortunate as the general however and they easily lost about ten percent of their forces on that maneuver alone. That percentage quickly grew however as some groups were ambushed by Foreigner abominations of flesh, fang, and claw that ranged from the size of a dog to larger than their Dolmens. As quickly as the Dolmen’s had entered the Foreigner city did waves of the monster making parasites born from the horrible laboratories within flood out like a dark cloud.
Panic fell onto the exposed soldiers who were not protected by a Dolmen’s armor and a desperate battle for survival began outside of the Foreigner city against the horde of Foreigner parasites and beasts. Elliot wore a face of horror as he defended himself, drawing his Dolmen’s sword and revolver, and saw the Foreigner army only continue to grow using the unprepared soldiers to bolster its number, the weak willed transformed instantly upon infection.
“No, how can this be happening?”
“Don’t get distracted now Silverlance. Our objective is Sycamore.”
“Silverlance, you are to enter the Foreigner city and pursue Sycamore! That is an order!”
Elliot was not pleased and he barked back the affirmative to the general. Glaring at him the general waited for proof of Elliot’s intention and only disappeared along with his cutout as Elliot had his Dolmen sheath its sword. Gritting his teeth against the massacre Elliot further ordered it to build up the necessary speed to make the leap under the rifle sights of the general’s Dolmen. He hated himself for abandoning the militia men to face such an overwhelming force and in that moment Feast’s voice had never been so powerful.
“You can still save them and follow orders Elliot. These beasts are just instincts and their construction. They would never be a match for someone like me who has a sense of self so powerful even within her light. You don’t have a reason to hesitate either, you can kill two birds with one stone”
Shouting out his frustration Elliot proceeded to bite down hard into his lip, a spray of blood spurting into the air before him as he had his Dolmen leap from the edge of the ravine. Gritting his teeth against the pain and his decision Elliot glared as he watched his spilled blood leave the Dolmen of its own power.”
“You better save them Feast”
~ Don’t worry Elliot, I’ll only kill the infected and every single Foreigner. ~
“That’s exactly what I’m afraid of.”
There was no further response from Feast and Elliot was left to focus on completing the jump before him. He was not left in peace however as his senses were assaulted by a presence that felt as though it would crush him with a weight beyond comprehension.
~ Child of the Light, what is it that you seek within this tomb, this necropolis, this tool of mankind’s demise? ~
Elliot had no idea what it was he was sensing but it’s presence nearly caused him to black out and he could have sworn he coughed up blood into his lap against the weight. The only thing that pulled him back was being suddenly jolted around wildly within the cockpit of his Dolmen. Looking around desperately with wild eyes he spotted the general’s face appear before him.
“Silverlance, what’s wrong?”
Regaining his bearings Elliot realized he was only kept from falling into the ravine by the grip of the General’s Dolmen upon the arm of his own. Instinct kicking in Elliot piloted his Dolmen to holster its revolver in its left thigh and reach up for the ledge the general’s Dolmen was leaning over. With the general’s help his Dolmen was soon standing within the age opened entrance into the Foreigner city. The interior beyond would have held him awestruck as well had the general not called out to him again and reminded him of the presence he felt.
“I repeat Silverlance, what happened?”
“General… Something… something in there is waking up… and it knows we’re here…”
Coming to a stop in a long hallway with no end in sight in either direction, Hazel Sycamore grunted curiously. He himself seemed healthy enough, still being the tall and lanky man from Link’s memories with the dark messy hair held in a short, high ponytail garbed in a white button up shirt over black trousers and grey boots. Beyond his hazel eyes which were hidden behind a pair of unnecessarily large, frameless, circular eyeglasses he could be said to be more than healthy as he easily carried a massive sledgehammer on his shoulders that he rested his arms on. Healthy as Hazel appeared though his companion who he looked back to see seemed anything but.
Supporting himself on a sword with a blade larger than himself, the tall muscular man in the suit of mechanized red armor gritted his teeth. His dark eyes looked out from his pale skin and under black hair just long enough to be messy. The black cape he wore spread out on the ground around him and helped to tie him back into the same age that Hazel was from, though he appeared to have a few years on Hazel physically.
“Something the matter? You’re not looking too good.”
“Do not… mock me Hazel… Surely you feel this presence.”
“Yeah, I do, and I’m suddenly realizing how lucky we were to be with Mote back then looking at you. I never knew a Poltergeist could cripple a Sa·B·er just with its presence. And here you thought to challenge one without her. I know I’ve already asked more than once since you pulled me out of Cross, but now seems as good as time as any to ask again. What exactly are we really doing here?”
“Exactly as you said; killing our second Poltergeist.”
“You’re being an idiot on purpose, aren’t you?”
“Hazel, it has been my sole focus in life since the fall of Lucir to rid the world of the Foreigner threat once and for all. When I heard from your brother that he had encountered you on Mergaol–”
“So this is Lewis’ fault? That idiot brother of mine. Just what is he trying to accomplish and why did he even come to Mergaol if he was just going to go back to Athecia?”
“What else Hazel, he desires to save mankind after seeing the horrors that befell Lucir.”
“You two should have just gone to war with the church if you felt that way. Lucir was perfectly peaceful until they started a generations long war for that stupid light that Mote had.”
“Don’t be a fool Hazel. You know full well that only the Cardinal Church can wield the Light of Hope to vanquish the resurrected Lucifalz.”
“We don’t even know if the Foreigner’s dark god has been revived. It was just superstitious nonsense everyone bought into when Mote killed that Poltergeist. But it’s been twenty years. Twenty years you hear me? And nothing has happened. Not one damned thing.”
“Your wrong Hazel. Back on Athecia the Cardinal Church is losing influence and cities are waging war against each other to prepare for the worst. Mankind killing each other is what drives Lucifalz’s resurrection and stories of black garbed worshippers of the Foreigner’s black god offering salvation to those who offer themselves to it have spread across the continent. That those stories have not reached you…”
“I chose exile after what happened in Lucir. I’ve sought nothing but peace and quite for my days trying to make the world a better place one mended item after the other. Yours and Lewis’ grand machinations for saving the world by challenging the Foreigners or taking mankind to the stars are just madness. Just look at yourself. You came to face a Poltergeist and it turns out without the Light of Hope they can simply stop you where you stand. Not surprising since they run these blasted cities behind the ancient seals that hold them and send out the beasts that give birth to Sa·B·ers and most monsters. Honestly, I’m thinking these cultists are right.”
Turning his back on the Sa·B·er in red, Hazel continued down the foreboding corridor. Reaching a hand out towards his back the Sa·b·er in red called out to him.
“Where are you going Hazel? What are you going to do⁈”
“Since it seems like this stupid Poltergeist has woke up I figure I’ll go beg it for forgiveness and tell it why it’s city is stuck in the ground. It’s not like there’s much more I can do with you like that. Later.”
“Hazel! Hazel wait! You know that you’ll never stand a chance against the Guardian even if you make it that far! HA~ZE~L~‼”
Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater