Heart's desire (completed)

Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim, dark future there is only war.

Heart's desire (completed)

Postby Bod the inquisitor » Wed May 02, 2012 10:40 pm

Some around these hallowed halls of greatness may remember that last year I was fortunate to win a chain blade made by our very own Ballistichimp. It is a beautiful piece and totally beyond my own abilities to make such things. However, it did inspire me to write the following; Heart’s desire I hope people find it an interesting and fun read as I certainly had fun writing it.

It’s in three pieces but I should apologies the last section is a little longer than normal, but according to my beta reader it’s a kicker of an ending.

Heart’s Desire

*1*

Enginseer Viscor Mecrite tried again, every servo in his mechanical limbs straining against the weight pinning him to the cold, unyielding metal grate. A perplexing thought flashed across the enginseer's mind, as multiple warning messages were pumped directly into his brain; the whining wail being emitted by the servo motors, could be likened to a scream of fear. It was a discomforting thought to one such as Mecrite, who prided himself on holding true to the emotionless purity, of the machine. Perhaps, they had come to the same conclusion as he had; there was nothing any of them could do to prevent their demise. It was hopeless; the weight of warped, heretic flesh and bone was just too great. Limbs that had the capacity to lift tonnes had been rendered powerless by the hulking mutants lying across them. Each mutant was larger than an Ogryn abhuman and he had two on every limb. Another lay across his waist, with a final, massive mutant astride his back.

The constant stream of information fed into Mecrite's mind by a multitude of sensors clearly identified the mutant straddling his back, as the real danger. Even now it was swinging the massive, javelin like pole of Adamantium for another strike at the enginseer's exposed back. The sensors easily kept a perfect track of each lumbering, yet powerful strike; they were also giving him detailed information on the effects of each hefty impact. It was not encouraging information; the armour sheath protecting his back was cracking. Soon, it would part, exposing his vital innards, machine and those few organic organs left to him, to the mutant's ferocious assault.

Figures and calculations flashed through one of the many cognitor's hooked up to the enginseer's brain. It would only take one more strike to open up his armoured shell. Then the enginseer's life would be measured in seconds. Two blows, if the mutant struck with carefully aimed attacks, five if blind fury drove its strikes.

A small part of Mecrite's biological mind laughed at the cognitor's efforts. It represented the last vestige of humanity that had stubbornly refused to die, a lasting fragment of his pre Mechanicus self that would not yield to the cold machine logic of the Omnissiah. Surprisingly, that last residue of humanness, led the charge for the one course of action left to the enginseer. He had one last hurrah, one last defiant gasp left to him now. If it was his Omnissiah ordained fate to die in the roots of hive Munifane Primus, then he would send the very scum that killed him to stand before the machine god, for their final judgement.

As he turned all of his cognitor's inwards to enact his revenge, the mutant struck another blow, as predicted, it cracked open his armour. The monster bellowed in triumph as it swung the Adamantium bar upwards, before driving it into the enginseer's innards. The blow struck Mecrite's mechanical spine, an enhancement he had won many years ago for services to the Omnissiah, snapping it in two, causing the enginseer to lose the use of his legs. It was catastrophic damage even for one like Mecrite, but it was not enough to stop him. He gave the last command line, overriding the layered safety protocols, sealing his attacker's fate. Now, like him, they only had mere seconds to live. Though unlike the enginseer, they did not know they were about to die.

Mecrite decided to spend his last seconds of life attempting to complete one last task, to reach out and grasp his chain sword. It was not just that he wanted to die holding the ornate, precious weapon, or any mistaken believe that with it once more in his grasp he could yet survive this fight. It was more that he felt it was his religious duty to the machine god, to ensure the sword did not fall into the hands of foul chaos worshipers. For that would be a crime against the Omnissiah and count against his final judgement. It was better that the weapon died with him, it would be his last act of homage to the machine god.

Flexing one of his mechadendrites, he began sending pulses down its length causing the round metallic arm to buck and jink about the floor like some possessed snake. With one last tremendous heave it threw one of the giant beasts from its perch and the mechadendrite instantly shot out to its full length, its tip rapidly opening and closing in anticipation of once more grasping the ornate chain sword, a gift to Mecrite from his superior. Yet, at the last the three fingered claw betrayed the enginseer, clipping the brass cog on the weapons hilt, it sent the sword spinning across the gangway. The myriad sounds kicked up by the sword painted a picture in the enginseer's mind as clearly as if he could see it with his augmented eyes. In moments the precious, near perfectly engineered sword came to rest teetering on the edge of the gangway, rocking back and forth; hanging above the black hungry depths of the underhive. It hung there for a second, tantalising the enginseer, before it lost its battle with gravity and fell spinning end over end into the yearning darkness. Several metallic thuds rang out filling Mecrite’s audio senses with sound as the weapon bounced off unseen metallic objects, pipes by the sounds they made.

The enginseer knew the impacts were not enough to damage the Adamantium guard or the weapons saw toothed cutting edge. Though, that was no consolation as his power core, the very thing that had kept his mechanical body functioning for the past few decades, overloaded. It filled the space around him with searing heat and bone crushing force, accompanied by a blinding light and deafening roar. Combined they wiped any trace of the enginseer's physical existence from the galaxy, along with a considerable portion of the hive structure around him.


*2*

Brun Mydrain weaved his way through the crowd, easily avoiding any unwanted collisions or contacts with the other patrons of the market. Unlike those around him he was unarmed, even here in the seedier underhive markets of Muni Secdus, it was forbidden for slaves to carry weapons. Not that it presented a problem for Mydrain. The owner brand filling his shaved skull clearly identified his mistress. Even the unruly scum that frequented this particular weapons market knew better than to cross the slave's mistress. The rotting corpses of those foolish enough to try were hung above each of the markets entrances: a constant reminder of the fate of those that did. Mydrain stubbornly refused to look at the grizzly trophies of vengeance. They turned his stomach and he preferred to keep his lunch were it was, not decorating the market entrances. Besides it would make his mistress look bad if he were to show such weakness in public.

As he effortlessly slipped between his fellow market goers, he noticed a particularly tight knit group, conducting what looked like a rather animated discussion. The slave did not have to actually hear their words to know what they were talking about, he might not have much of a formal education, but he was not stupid. There was only one topic on the lips of the people of hive Muni Secdus these days, the rumoured war in neighbouring Munifane Primus.

Mydrain did not believe the rumours. He had heard many different rumours float about the underhive markets, like so much flotsam on a gentle breeze. None of them had ever seemed to come true, as far as he, a mere slave, could tell. Besides everyday life seemed to be progressing as usual; well at least it was for him. So he saw no particular reason to believe the rumours of a deadly destructive war heading to Muni Secdus.

Spying the contents of one particular stall through the throng of humanity crowding the market place, the slave realised that it was not quite true, that all things were as normal. The black market trade with hive Munifane Primus was livelier than ever. An increasingly diverse, more numerous, supply of weapons had begun to appear at the market of late. The number and variety of slaves had also increased, particularly the more interesting, underhive creatures that his mistress seemed to like so much. Though, the slave reminded himself that their numbers had been steadily increasing for the past few years. They were truly strange ones, which was what he liked to call them, strange ones, it wasn't particularly imaginative but it worked. It seemed to sum them up adeptly enough, with their extra limbs and other body parts. Mydrain's mistress called them mutants, but the slave was not sure what the word mutant meant, or how they came about. All he did know was that his mistress seemed to count the increasing number of strange ones, as a blessing from the Emperor himself and was making a tidy profit from them, which seemed to make his mistress happy and anything that made his mistress happy was a good thing, in Mydrain's view of the world.

Passing yet another weapons stall, something caught his eye and he stopped. Turning, he slipped between two gangers then stepped up to the stall, ignoring the angry curses from the two under hive warriors, even scum like them were not stupid enough to try anything in this market.

Mydrain bowed to the stall owner. Not so much out of respect, but more to confirm with the man who he was dealing with. The slave found things generally ran more smoothly if the people he was dealing with knew who his mistress was right from the start. Plus, the look of pleased astonishment on the stall holder's faces when he offered them a reasonable price for their wares was one of his few pleasures in life.

Straightening up he wasted no time and picked up the item that had caught his attention. Even before he made a closer inspection the slave realised he was dealing with a truly magnificent piece. It was surprisingly light and from its feel perfectly balanced, which Mydrain knew were attributes highly prized by swordsmen and not normally associated with chain swords. Though the slave knew next to nothing about weapons manufacture, he did know that this weapon had been made by an exceptionally gifted weapons smith. The guard that ran the upper length of the chain blade was clearly made of a highly durable metal, polished to perfection, with not a mark other than the inscriptions that covered each flat side. Mydrian could not read, but he knew what written high imperial Gothic looked like when he saw it. For the first time in his life, he actually wished that he could read, he would give almost anything to know what the artisan who had made this beautiful sword, had felt was so important that it needed to be inscribed upon the surface of so magnificent a weapon. Two cog wheels formed the hand guard and the hilt was finished with a third cog, that had a gem stone topping each tooth which glinted and sparkled as they fractured the light into its component colours. However, despite the amount of ornate craftsmanship that had gone into the weapons construction, it was clear to the slave, that not only was, this a weapon for show, it was also a weapon made for war. It was perfect and exactly the thing his mistress liked. He could almost see the smile that would light up his mistress's face when she saw it and he could not help but wonder how the mistress would honour him for finding this particular item. Perhaps it would even be a night with Cluzanna, he liked Cluzanna; she always treated him nicely. But first he had to settle things with the stall owner. It may take a bit of time, if the man knew what he had, but Mydrain was certain he could get a reasonable price. With only half his mind on the job the slave began the negotiations. The rest of his mind was full of thoughts of a night with Cluzanna, his greatest heart’s desire.


*3*

Despite the muffling effects of the thick metal door, the sounds of fighting were unmistakable. They were sounds Suha Braydas knew well. She was an experienced fighter and despite her slight womanly frame, was as tough as they came. But the sounds of war and death drifting through the metal door in front of her, conjured up the impression of some of the most horrific fighting she had ever encountered. Concentrating, she could just make out the screams of the dying and the rattle of weapons fire. Then, another sound, one half hidden amongst the general turmoil of violence, caught her ear; a more sinister sound, the sound of bestial roars, full of a primordial anger and hatred that could mean only one thing; mutants and large ones.

It was a sign of the times. Ever since the war had come, the fighting had been getting harder and harder, more demanding, more bloody, harder to survive. Though, Braydas was as determined as ever to survive, she had promised her little girl that she would return to her, that she would see her grow to adulthood. However, listening to the harsh guttural roars of rage and the screams of the dying, she had to wonder if she would be able to fulfil that promise, surviving this damned war and its consequences. It was all made worse by the fact the fighter knew she had no choice, if she was to see her little girl again her only option was to fight: fight and win.

Slowly she lifted the chain sword held in her right hand, once again marvelling at how light it was; unlike most chain swords, which she found cumbersome and tiring to use. However, with this weapon she could use the more deadly fencing skills she was renowned for. Just like when she used her favoured weapon, the power sword. It was a chain sword designed and built for a master fencer, not a mindless brute whose only real skill was to hack their way through an enemy.

Reverently, she kissed the weapon, before whispering a quick prayer to appease its machine spirit. As she did so her gaze fell upon the name, Viscor Mecrite, written in high imperial Gothic along the Adamantium guard, followed by a string of incomprehensible symbols. Not for the first time, Braydas wondered what sort of person this Mecrite had been. For some reason she had a feeling that whoever it was, they had been a tech priest, which would make that odd string of symbols, machine code; the tech priest language of choice. Coming to this realisation made the fighter make another vow to the Emperor, if she survived the coming fight she would find someone who could read that language. Though, she knew it would not answer the one question she really wanted answered; how had this Mecrite lost the chain sword? Which of the scores of fates that war could hold for a warrior, had befallen this person. Braydas thought it was a shame that the answer to that mystery was one she would never discover.

A heavy thudding impact that shook the door in its frame, as if a thunder storm was pounding on the door, broke her reverie, reminding the fighter of her own plight. Lifting the weapon to her lips she kissed it again, before whispering words of revenge, telling the swords machine spirit, she would seek to avenge the death of its previous owner. Braydas was certain this Viscor Mecrite was dead; she just could not see how or why someone would willingly surrender possession of such a weapon. She also hoped the vow would help placate the machine spirit, making it more co-operative in the fight to come.

Without lowering the weapon the fighter punched the activation key on the door. Unwilling to wait, she ducked under the door before it had fully opened, stepping straight into a scene from most people's nightmares. Though, it was a common one to her, one she had often helped to create on many an occasion.

She entered a near perfect square, around twenty metres in width and height, with patches of rust and discolouration dotting the walls, though oddly not the floor. Another oddity was a two metre band of dark tinted plexi-glass that ran the entire perimeter half way up the walls. This was an aging space, an old, forgotten corner of the hive. Opposite the door Braydas had used, were five massive double doors that could easily have emitted a cargo 8 or bigger mass transport vehicle, making this a venue of commerce.

Now, this place was a venue of death, a place of violent bloody fighting. No, the fighter corrected herself, slaughter, fighting suggested a more even fight. That was not the impression she got from the scene before her. Bodies, almost entirely human ones, though it was difficult to tell, considering their shattered, hacked up state, littered the floor, some in groups, others alone. All lay in thick pools of bright red, fresh blood. None of the bodies looked like they had ever been in a state that was conducive to life. An observation that told a tale of bloody, uncontrolled, rage induced violence, inhuman and brutal in its ferocity.

The perpetrators of that savage violence were the only living creatures left standing. Braydas had seen their like before, though it did not stop a cold shiver of fear running down her spine. Several of the monsters had claws that were more like short stabbing swords, one had crab like claws that opened and snapped shut randomly, each claw tip covered in a thick, oozing layer of blood. They were all mutants, warp twisted abomination's that had once been human.

Two of the largest mutants, were bent over the mutilated, partially eaten corpses of their last victims. Bright red blood ran from their mouths, dripping off spike encrusted chins to fall upon hard chitinous chest plates. Both only spared the fighter the merest cursory glance, before returning their attention to their grizzly feasts. Three of the mutants were engaged in a roaring, air slicing, three way standoff. A fourth, the smallest mutant, circled the triad of enraged monsters, watching, waiting for its moment to strike.

Seeing no immediate threat, Braydas glanced around the room, looking for anything that might prove useful in the coming fight, a fight she now knew she would have to undertake on her own. It was hard to distinguish anything amongst the shattered corpses, but she did notice that several had been wearing the uniforms of hive defence troopers. The rest were civilians, desperate people looking for a sanctuary from the war. Instead they had found a brutal, messy death.

An angry bellow drew the fighter's attention; the smallest mutant was starring at her intently, while poring at the ground like an enraged bull grox. The beast was challenging her, working up the courage to attack what it saw as the weakest target; its best chance of gaining the fresh meat it so craved. It had no hands, instead in their place were two scythe like bone claws that it slashed at the empty air with and it had a mouth full of razor sharp teeth more like needles than actual teeth. Eventually, the mutant charged, bellowing, its scythe's held high, ready to plunge down into Braydas's flesh.

The fighter stood her ground, dropping into a combat stance she raised her sword, determined not to fall to such a twisted thing. It would be an affront to all she held dear, besides she had that promise to her child to keep.

Just as the beast reached her, Braydas side stepped and the monsters scythe like claws sliced through empty air.

Her own blade was not so ineffective. She struck, lightening fast, using the chain swords superb balance and surprising lightness to maximum effect. The motors voice changed pitch slightly, the barest hint of a whine edging into its throaty growl, as she dragged the Adamantium teeth across the beast's belly. The weapons efforts were not in vain. An agonised bellow filled Braydas's ears as the monster stumbled past her.

Coming to a stop, the mutant lifted its bone scythes as it rounded on the fighter, but the effort made its injury worse, pulling on the frayed torn muscles, opening the wound up further and letting its guts pour out. They flopped onto the floor, forming a steaming, ropy pile of organic matter at the mutant's feet. The beast bellowed again, its arms flailing in the air, despite the mortal wound, it still wanted to fight. Either it did not realise it had been dealt a killing blow, or it did not care.

Braydas dived to one side rolling under the slashing bone blades and was on her feet again in a split second. Spinning she swung her blade, aiming for the back of the knee. It was a perfect blow that easily sliced through the joint, the amputated lower leg falling one way, while the beast's body fell in the other. Flicking the sword out again the tip of the churning blade opened up the mutant’s throat causing blood to cascade out of the ragged edge wound. As the crimson fluid flowed, the beast thrashed about, finally realising its end was nigh.

Braydas was not allowed any time to admire her kill; the brief bloody fight had drawn the attention of two of the mutants that had been fighting amongst themselves, they charged roaring, thunderous incoherent sounds of pure fury. The third, ceasing its chance, fell upon the dead all around it, hacking and tearing at the bodies in its excitement, unable to decide what to eat first. Braydas marked the mutant for special attention, if she had the chance; vowing to make that particular monster suffer for its desecration of imperial dead.

Stepping away from the mutant she had just killed, the fighter readied herself. It was time to display her acrobatic skills, to demonstrate the superiority of un-mutated flesh and bone.

She leapt into the air, striking out as she spun, slicing one of the mutant's heads cleanly from its body. The second, showing remarkable speed for such a twisted ungainly creature rounded on the fighter as she landed. It swung a meaty pore at her head, hard and fast, a blow designed to shatter her small skull.

Braydas dropped to one knee, thrusting the chain sword at the monsters belly. The attack was smashed of course by the mutants other arm. A powerful blow, it would have stripped the weapon from the hands of most fighters. Braydas simply rolled with it and was up on her feet again in moments. Spinning she leapt into the air once again, somersaulting over the monsters head, landing behind it. She spun, before raking the tip of her blade down the mutants back, ripping its flesh in a long ragged tear, exposing bone.

The monster bellowed, more in rage than pain, but it proved to be a fatal action. Braydas stepped back before launching a flying kick; both her booted feet connecting with the monsters spine. The blow shattered one of the beast's vertebrae, snapping the spinal cord and it lost all control over its legs, collapsing onto the floor. This time its roar was one more of fear than rage and had an all too human edge to it. Braydas showed the mutant no pity. Reversing her blade she stepped up behind it and drove the weapon with all her might into the monsters body, between its neck and shoulder blade, deep into its chest cavity where it chewed up various organs, killing the beast.

She had rammed the blade so deep she had to give the weapon two mighty tugs to free it from the monsters corpse. Looking up from the kill she saw that the two largest mutants had finally taken notice of her. They had even stopped eating and stood stock still watching her intently.

That alone marked these two out as different, the two most dangerous mutants, for they had retained some of their human intelligence. It was probably why they had grown so large, allowing them to dominate their more animalistic mutant comrades. As one, the two beasts charged: eerily, they charged in silence, conserving their energy for the fight to come.

Braydas, her own blood lust boiling in her veins, charged too, sword raised over her head, screaming for the Emperor's grace.

One of the mutants proved to be faster on its feet than the other. Braydas leapt, landing one foot upon the monsters shoulder she pushed off higher into the air. The mutant, hampered by its size and speed, was unable to stop and lumbered past the fighter, roaring in frustration as it hopelessly tried to slow its head long charge.

The acrobatic fighter had timed her vault perfectly; she landed behind the second monster, its clawed hands still flailing above its head. However, this one proved more agile than its comrade and turned just a couple of metres away from Braydas, a hungry look in its eye. Wasting no time it charged, swinging both of its muscular arms wide as it came for the fighter. Braydas was forced back, unable to strike at either arm for fear the other would strike her in return. The monster pressed its attack roaring in triumph; it was a mistake that cost the beast one arm. Leaping back the fighter opened some space between her and her attacker, before launching herself forward again; angling the move to one side. She struck fast, the chain swords motor screamed in protest as it was forced through the thick bone in the beasts arm; but it did its job and with a triumphant sounding cough, burst through the mutants arm. The beast stumbled away from the fighter, whimpering in pain, fear filling its ravaged mutated features.

Braydas did not give the mutant chance to recover. Darting forward she battered a half hearted strike aside, before reversing the direction of her chain blade and stroking its tip across the monsters lower jaw, shattering the bone and sending teeth flying in all directions. The beast rolled backwards its life's blood pouring from the massive wound. It would be dead in a matter of moments. The fighter stepped back, turning away from the dying mutant, it was no longer a threat to her and she knew it, years of fighting told her that.

The first mutant had finally halted its head long charge and had turned to face the fighter. It stood for a moment its gaze alternating between Braydas and its fallen comrade behind her, a single tear rolled down its twisted mutated skin. As the tear fell from the monsters face it erupted into action, bellowing, a riotous roar unmistakably filled with the purest hatred Braydas had ever heard. It sounded almost human and rocked her resolve for a moment, though only for a moment, after all these were mutants, creatures of the infernal powers of Chaos, man kind's sworn enemies.

Despite the anger that clearly burned in its soul, the monsters charge was not a headlong race for revenge. Instead it was a more measured, deliberate affair. The creatures gaze locked on Braydas's eyes. This mutant was no fool and though it meant to do bloody murder upon her flesh, it clearly knew this fighter was a dangerous opponent.

Braydas stood her ground, facing the monster head on. Instinctively she knew no amount of acrobatics would fool this beast, she would have to face it saw blade to claw.

The mutant struck first, a single hand, with claws more like daggers, aimed at the fighter's chest. She leapt back and brought her sword up just in time to block the blow. Turning, the fighter side stepped a punch that would have smashed her skull to bits if it had connected. Yet the monster recovered from the missed blow remarkably fast, forcing Braydas back further as it tried to press for an advantage. A flurry of blows flew at the lithe fighter, yet none managed to breach her defences.

Then, with an expert twist of her wrist Braydas turned defence into attack. Blocking a massive swinging blow while stepping back, she turned the chain sword and managed to catch the monsters claws on the teeth of her chain blade, slicing them and the tips of the mutant’s fingers off in a spray of blood and mangled claws. Roaring in frustration and a little pain, the monster pulled away, trying to protect its injured limb.

Braydas struck again, it was almost instinctive, taking little conscious effort from the fighter. Her sword flicked out, slicing a long wide tear in the monsters thigh. Too late she realised her mistake, it had all been a faint to draw her in. Cursing her own impatience, she rolled back on her heels, turning slightly, a lightning fast, instinctive reaction, but not quite fast enough. The monsters undamaged hand snaked out; its claws extended, they raked her left hip, the sharp tips digging thin tracks of flesh from her body. Pain exploded from the wound as the fighter felt her own blood seep between her skin and the tight syth skin suit.

Spinning backwards, the fighter lashed out with her sword, more to ensure the monster did not press its attack. As she moved, Braydas focused on the wound, years of experience told her all she really needed to know about it. It was trivial, as wounds go; a mere scratch and most importantly it would have little impact upon her fighting skills. Though, she knew it could have been much worse. The beast's intent had been to crush and tear out her hip, to cripple her. It was not a killing blow and left a cold feeling in the pit of the fighter's stomach. This monster had plans for her beyond the obvious killing, what those plans were she could only guess at, but she was certain she would not like them. The beast had to die and quickly.

With that in mind, the fighter lunged forward, launching a series of attacks. They were blocked by the mutant, but at a cost for the beast. Blood and strands of torn skin and muscle leaked from a number of gashes gouged into its flesh by glancing blows from the edge of the chain swords teeth. In themselves they were not serious wounds. It was the number of them that was the telling factor. Slowly they were draining the strength from the mutant's limbs, making its movements increasingly clumsy and slow.

Braydas paused for a second, to catch her breath, before launching another attack, which her opponent only just managed to avoid. Stepping through the attack, she spun around the monster. Finishing up behind the beast, the fighter rammed her weapon into its back, tip first. She pushed hard and the sword chewed its way into the monsters body, shredding flesh and bone, then organs. Until it eventually burst from the beast's chest flinging shredded chunks of the mutant’s heart out in a welter of gore.

Yanking the blade free in one smooth movement, Braydas gave it two flicks, attempting to dislodge the blood and gore stuck in the teeth and around the guard. Chain weapons, even this wonderful example, were such messy killers.

Turning, she locked her gaze upon the last mutant, still bent over its grizzly meal; a disarticulated thigh. The fighter took a step towards it; the only sound in her ears was the gentle rumbling of the chain swords motor, purring like some contented animal.

At first there was no reaction from the mutant and Braydas continued her slow steady walk, swinging her hips in great exaggerated arcs, emphasising her womanly figure, a walk more common in the seedier clubs and bars of the hive; the walk of women whose skills were in a completely different arena of life to Braydas's. Though, it was one that at times, could prove just as violent and deadly. The fighter was determined to make this a kill to remember. After all for her, this work was not just about how many you killed, but how you killed, the show of the kill.

Eventually the monster noticed her, or at least decided it could no longer ignore the warrior that seductively walked towards it, swinging a purring chain sword like it was some strange mechanical baton. Dropping the leg it had been chewing on, it straightened, all the time its eyes locked upon Braydas. A flash of what Braydas thought was fear, flickered across its features. No doubt it saw death coming to claim it, recognised that the Emperor's retribution had finally caught up with it.

She stopped some five meters away from the mutant. Raising her free hand the fighter beckoned to the monster, inviting it to approach, a predatory smile etched upon her face. When the monster did not react she slowly lowered her hand and the smile fell away, to be replaced by a frown as she shook her head. Inside, she just wanted to kill the beast and be on her way back to her little girl; but she knew there were forms, that she had certain responsibilities to for fill before she could return home.

When the mutant still did not respond Braydas took a slow, theatrical step towards it, bringing the chain sword up on guard, shaking her head as she moved, that frown still plastered across her face. The beast then did something the fighter was not expecting, it turned and ran. Shrugging off her surprise Braydas set off after the monster, determined to kill this beast with a flourish and make it suffer in the process.

The monster showed a surprising turn of speed, for something with such short stumpy legs, though it ran hunched over, using its arms as a further set of legs to help propel it along. Zigzagging about in random directions, the beast did not seem to have any particular destination in mind. Occasionally it glanced over its hunched shoulder, with what looked like a panicked look upon its face.

Eventually, the monster realised this was a race it could not win, Braydas was catching up with every step she took, it turned and crouched down, arms raised ready for the fight it could not avoid.

Braydas ran head long at the beast before leaping into the air and somersaulting over its head. Her sword flicked out, a perfectly timed manoeuvre that ended with the mutant's mangled oversized left ear falling to the ground. Landing she spun in place to find the creature had turned to face her. It struck next. The fighter blocked the blow turning the action into a strike that cut through the beast's arm in one swift move, though the wound left behind was anything but neat and tidy. The beast roared, but not in pain. Its thunderous yell was one of rage, one of an insane unthinking desire to kill. It surprised Braydas, coming from a creature who had acted so cowardly. She stepped back bringing her weapon on guard, cautious of the beast's next act.

It proved to be the right action, trailing blood from its severed arm the mutant launched itself at the fighter teeth bared, its good arm out stretched, unnaturally fast.

The attack nearly worked, the monsters grasping claw tipped hand brushed the top of Braydas's head, tussling her hair. Just in time she had dropped, falling to the floor landing heavily on her rump, before flattening out and rolling off to the left. She was on her feet again in moments. The monsters flying leap, ended with a heavy thud upon the blood streaked floor; it slid away from the fighter, carried by its momentum and the lubricating effect of all the blood.

Braydas shot forward, jumping onto the mutants back, knocking it to the floor. She knew her weight alone was not enough to pin the monster on the floor, but then that was not her plan. Reversing her grip on the chain sword she swung it up over her head then with all her might, down, driving the blade through the mutants unnaturally thick muscles. A second later there was a jarring impact as the churning tip struck the monsters vertebra. The weapons motor took on a distinct protesting whine, as chips of bone began flying in all directions, chewed out of the bone by the powerful sword. One small slither hit Braydas's ankle and fought its own battle to get past her synth skin, it lost and fell harmlessly to the floor.

The monster withered and bucked against the attack, though its efforts were hampered by the missing arm and blood loss, it still fought ferociously; but Braydas, ever the acrobatic professional, rode each heaving thrust and bounce. For long seconds the battle continued, until with a mighty roar of success, Braydas's chain blade broke free of the hard bone and dug its self into the monsters chest cavity, severing major blood vessels and shredding vital organs. With one last pitiful bellow, the monster fell still, its fight for life finally ended.

Braydas's knees began to tremble as she hauled her chain sword from the lifeless corpse beneath her feet. Dizziness sweeping out of nowhere threatened to drop her to the floor, as the adrenaline that had kept her actions sharp and quick, evaporated; its life preserving effects no longer needed. It was the same after every fight, but she knew she could not yet surrender to the physical and mental exhaustion that clawed at her, not yet. That would be a display of weakness that could doom her to death as certainly as the mutants she had just fought. Threatening her ability to fulfil that promise to her daughter, a promise she was now so close to keeping.

A thunderous applause suddenly erupted, filling the warehouse as the black band of material on the walls disappeared. Incomprehensible cheering followed the clapping, as the crowd got to its feet, heaping praise on Braydas for her abilities, for demonstrating the Emperor's will so effectively, so bloodily.

Slowly, deliberately, her stomach churning with disgust, Braydas turned to each side of the arena and bowed deeply. Playing her part perfectly, despite her mounting hatred for the games, she was forced to fight in.

Finally, the fighter turned to the large box that dominated one wall, a separate seating area reserved for the games organiser, Braydas's mistress and owner. She lifted the chain sword, its motor purring away, as if the machine spirit was signalling its pleasure, its contentment with the fight, and kissed the Adamantium guard. The cold, slightly vibrating metal was almost pleasurable against her hot lips. Braydas whispered a pray of thanks to the weapon, hoping she had pleased the machine spirit, that she had suitably avenged its previous owner.

Her duty of thanks to the chain swords machine spirit completed, she deactivated the weapon, lowering it to her side as she looked up. Standing next to Braydas’s mistress, in his customary position was the slave Brun Mydrain, an unmistakable self satisfied smile plastered across his face. It was a good sign. The only time the slave tended to display such emotion openly, was when the mistress gave him his most treasured heart’s desire, a night with Cluzanna. The mistress must be pleased with Braydas's performance in the arena. Hope blossomed in the fighter's heart, perhaps she could finally convince the mistress that she was of more value in the training pits; preparing the next generation of gladiators for the games. That was Braydas's heart's desire; it meant she would never have to leave her daughter again, never have to make a promise she knew she might not be able to keep.
Ordos: Lectorformator

Enter my children,
Enter and join the betrayed,
Enter and leave the light,
Enter and forever join the ranks of the damned.

My latest effort: Useful Adversaries and Heart’s desire

Stories from my past
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