053 Those Who Watch the Sky - 53
53 – Children thrust Into the Sky 11
For Link and Melody, the battles that Elliot and the other Dolmen pilots of Foothold fought assured them a clear passage into the Foreigner city. Those battles were far from easy however and Elliot ached all over and could not steady or calm his breathing within the cockpit of his Dolmen. He couldn’t even keep track of how many pilot’s death screams he heard across the communication systems of the Dolmen. Matters only grew worse as radio communication stopped functioning the closer they got to the center of the city and only local communication using the Dolmen’s external speakers became the only way to communicate. Using the external speakers was fairly inconsequential surprisingly though it soon became apparent to the survivors that managed to group up that the Foreigner beasts were being drawn by the Artificial Gate Generators of the Dolmens.
- Blast it all. Even with total radio silence they can still find us. We can’t abandon the Dolmens though due to the tracking system within Silverlance’s. However… -
The general trailed off just before more of the giant beasts that roamed the city crashed through a nearby building. The general didn’t even need to give orders at that point as the Dolmen pilots were so on edge and desperate to survive that they put the lances they were armed with to immediate work skewering the beasts. Engaging at close quarters though was a grave risk as the beasts were substantially denser than the Dolmen and could draw on more Nectar to strengthen themselves allowing them to easily overpower the machines. Despite the danger however close-range combat was a necessity as they had long since exhausted their munition supplies and only Elliot’s Dolmen was equipped with a firearm that drew upon the Artificial Gate Generator. Commanding his Dolmen to rapidly operate the hammer of its revolver with one hand while the other pulled the hammer Elliot fired shot after shot into their latest aggressors. The downside to such a maneuver however was that in exchange for the firing speed the fanning technique offered, the unique munition system could not draw upon the Artificial Gate Generator for long periods of time resulting in much weaker shots. With such a draw back Elliot had to be perfectly accurate lest the loss of a squad mate’s life fall on him. This particular time they were fortunate and no one else fell to the beasts.
- We really can’t keep this up… Silver lance -
- Relax Silverlance. If you get all tense now you’re just going to get us killed. -
“Ah–! Of course sir. What are your orders?”
- That’s better Silverlance. -
Piloting his Dolmen to take in the ever-imposing central column of the Foreigner city the general gnashed his teeth before clicking his tongue in disgust.
- Now, we’ve barely anyone left to keep up this battle and there isn’t a way to get anyone without a Dolmen in here. In other words, we’re out manned and can’t resupply. We also can’t afford to let the target escape. Sycamore is in here and we have to retrieve him or at least kill him before he can escape and begin his next dastardly plan. You’re the only one who can track him Silverlance as only your Dolmen has functioning heat tracking systems intricate enough to. So above all else you have to get to him. That doesn’t mean we’re retreating, instead we’re going to give you some space and make some noise to draw the enemy away from you. Use that time to figure out where Sycamore and his companion went and bring him back in whatever state you can manage. -
Elliot could not be sure if he was grateful for the opportunity to pursue Link’s father on his own or sickened to be abandoning his fellow soldiers. His thoughts didn’t matter to the general however who cut him off before he could argue.
- You may be the Knight Prince and likely outrank me Silverlance, but I’m still the general of Foothold’s militia and this is still my operation. I’ll continue to call the orders as I see fit to complete the operation no matter the cost. Right now that means sending you ahead on your own. Though I doubt you’ll remain alone for long. If the Lord Bishop is right you should have a pair of Sa·B·ers on their way to back you up soon. I’m supposed to cut them off if they show up, but right now I don’t intend to. Capturing Sycamore is more important and that duty falls to you Silverlance. If I do see the other two though I’ll be sure to point them in your direction. Now get going Silverlance. Go! -
Barking out the his compliance Elliot piloted his Dolmen into a sprint and hurried deeper into the Foreigner city. He was an emotional mess as he did though and was torn by his actions at both abandoning the survivors and knowing that Link and Melody were likely on their way. Isolated within his cockpit without even Feast to try and break him he could only scream out his frustrations.
“Damnit! Damnit! Damnit! Why did it have to come to this⁈ Why now⁈ They’re going to die for my betrayal and believing in me to complete the mission! They’re all going to die believing a lie! And yet I still feel relieved that Link is on her way. What type of monster am I⁈ Damnit! Damnit! DA~MN~I~T–‼”
Had the general heard Elliot’s ranting he would have been disappointed in him, and not even for his betrayal. The general above all else took pride in the discipline of his soldiers and seeing Elliot so unhinged would have been unacceptable. The general would not see Elliot again however for Elliot was right in believing that he and the remaining Dolmen pilots would soon be killed, their Dolmen’s becoming their final resting places. The general would not give up so easily however and was still holding on to the last vestiges of life he could when the chest plate of his Dolmen was pulled off some time later.
The atrocity that stared in at the general would have been disappointed to encounter so pitiful a meal if was possessed of human emotions. As it was not, it cared little for the state of the general beyond him still being alive and reached in with tendrils of flesh to extract him from his over glorified coffin. For its efforts it received a rifle bullet to the face which accomplished all of nothing. As most arms makers were well aware, a bullet was too small to hold any significant amount of Nectar to receive the benefits that more traditional weapons like swords could. Useful as a gun was against another human being it was useless against most monsters. The general refused to die doing anything but fighting however and emptied the remaining five rounds from the revolver style cylinder of his rifle. It was a futile struggle but one that held meaning to the general as he was skewered through the center by a tendril that suddenly thrust in like a spear. Pulled violently out of the cockpit as the Foreigner beast reared back to claim it’s prize the rush of blood to his head distracted him from his predicament and he took his rifle by the barrel in both hands and raised it like a club. As he raised his voice in a defiant scream his was joined by one of a young woman from above.
With a flash of steel the tendril that had been holding the general was severed leaving him to fall back into the cockpit of his defeated Dolmen. He had no idea who Link was but he knew it was crazy even for a Sa·B·er to take on so large a foe without a Dolmen. Link however had no intention of worrying about her ability to fight so large a beast on foot and had leapt upon a tendril that had been lunged forward at her. Running up it with her sword dipped into the tendril as she ran, Link crippled a second before she was forced to leap off to dodge the next attack against. Spinning as she leapt Link severed the one that lunged at her as well as several others that followed suit. Leaping, dancing, and spinning her way up the tendrils Link thoroughly disarmed the beast before a final leap allowed her a single clean cut that removed the creatures proportionally small head. So deprive of its skull the creature collapsed dead atop the Dolmen.
The violent shaking of the Dolmen seemed par for the course to the General within its cockpit but the same could not be said for seeing Link and Melody poke their heads in.
“Is he still alive Link? There’s so much blood…”
“He might be.”
Dropping down into the cockpit Link knelt down beside the general who was lying in a fast-growing pool of his own blood. Swimming through the air down after her, Link’s mermaid double was what caught the general’s eye and prompted him to prove he was still alive.
“A glowing fish woman… Then you must be the heretic…”
“He won’t make it ~♪ We lack the knowledge of healing magic to help him… ~♪”
“Ha, ha, ha, ha… I was expecting a pair of Sa·B·ers… and instead the heretic appears in pursuit of the Silverlance… Ha, ha, ha, ha… If only I had the strength to kill you…”
“Wait! You said Elliot is here? Where is here?”
“I won’t let you… interfere… heretic… ……”
Reaching up feebly, the general’s outstretched hand moved towards Link slowly. His fingers twitching with the last of his strength disappearing the drive to see the mission through was still not enough. Long before his hand reached Link it fell limp never to serve Foothold and its people again.
“And now he is gone… ~♪ Such a sad end… ~♪”
Rising to her feet Link pressed her hands together before bowing her head and closing her eyes. After a moment of prayer for the general Link sighed. Opening her eyes, she looked herself over disappointedly.
“Well this didn’t do me any good. He never even acknowledged that I was wearing a Choir uniform. In that case…”
In response to Link’s declaration a flame of darkness washed over her arms and shoulders and the bolero she was wearing disappeared within. With a shake of her hands Link converted the flame into a cape of sheer black that grew from the center of her should blades and clasped in front just above her bust. Relaxed as Link was going through those motions Melody was anything but.
“Ah- ah- ah- ah-! Link, what did you do⁈ That was your Choir uniform! How’s anyone supposed to know you’re a Choir agent know⁈”
“It didn’t seem to get through to him.”
Looking up out of the cockpit Link callously spoke so casually of the dead. Her concern of the bolero marking her identifiable as a Choir agent not seeming to be true meant nothing to Melody who was staring at her incredulously. With a heavy pout Link clutched her left temple and stared at Melody who didn’t seem to be willing to comprehend Link’s stance.
“If it makes you feel better Melody I didn’t feed it to the Beast. I put it inside the Beast.”
“Isn’t that the same thing Link⁈”
“The beast can hold many things if they are put inside of it instead of fed to it ~♪ We hid inside the beast for a while too unable to get out until Mister Sorcerer came and helped us learn how to control our self while so separated ~♪”
“I don’t think that explanation helps at all ~♪”
“Just accept that I can still wear it if I need to Melody. That’s the easiest way to go about. Now, hup!”
Leaping up out of the cockpit Link grabbed the sides of the Dolmen and pulled herself out of it. Her mermaid double swam up after her and made its way back to behind Melody’s ear ready to continue their join. Disorienting Melody though it was Link and not her double that spoke up.
“Now come on Melody, looking at this, Elliot’s Dolmen isn’t going to last either.”
Copyright © 2019 Joshua D Tarwater
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