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Chapter Eight:AndThenThere...Chapter Eight: And then There were Five
Looking over the edge of that God forsaken cliff was a dismal sight, a few meters of natural wonder, shelved, colored sediment, descending into darkness. Jamie screamed until her throat screamed louder with pain. Marcus carried Roy in his arms for a second time, and Jamie wondered if the iron man still knew how to weep.
She was coming to know a new meaning of sorrow.
They took Roy to the Shooting Star's resident surgeon, Jamie both unable to leave Roy's side and also powerless to stop the fusillade of tears. Her true brother in-law Sam Burkely retired to his own closet room to wrestle with his own, personal conflicts. Vlad, grim-faced, offered to help Paul Striker rig the research facility with demolitions explosives. The marine's face had turned statue-like, stone cold, and even more lifeless than Marcus' helmet. The iron man himself couldn't stand to be in the room with his wounded brother; he instead took the job of carrying the heavy boxes of
Tethers: Peace on EarthDays turn into weeks fast around here. The trenches were dug hours after we were dropped. It was too hot. The reports were wrong, and we weren't dealing with a minor insurgence on Zar 5. It was an all out revolution, the threat of our most precious Outer Base was months from falling to Bedlam at the hands of our own race. We were under heavy fire when we flew in, and we were under relentless barrage when we landed. We dug in deep and fought hard, but no ground was gained, and "stalemate" was the word on everyone's lips. The fighting was brutal, soldiers killed while eating rations at noontime, soldiers killed while standing to stretch their legs. But it all stopped late in the morning. We have been in a hole for three weeks.
It is Christmas Eve.
My gun was strewn across my lap like a sleeping dog, and Storm has been staring across the battlefield at our enemy entrenchments for hours now. The field was a bowl between two hills where our troops and the enemy's troops staked their claims,
Chapter Seven:Cheating DestinyChapter Seven: Cheating Destiny
The Zeppelin landed 300 meters away from the Burkely Biological Research facility – that is, 300 yards below it in the canyon that ran through the facility's backyard. Phineas and Roy got a spectacular view of the sediments that made up the canyon's walls as the Zeppelin putted dangerously close to them at a teeth-grindingly slow pace. Finally, it touched down below the facility, steam power shut off, and completely encased in the darkness of the night enhanced by the chasm's shadow.
Vlad, Paul, Phineas, and Roy bid the crew of the Zeppelin good-bye and left its coach. They circled to the cargo hold and lifted the giant metal door, which curved into the hold much like the door of the Valentine garage-workshop. Inside was a gargantuan drill the height of two large men and about as round as the coach (Roy could only wonder how much of a hassle it was to initially load the machine, having not been around to see it). Together, they detached and dragged the d
Chapter Six: Into the Bowels..Chapter Six: Into the Bowels of the Enemy
The son of Riechenbauch III paced a small length of floor in the viewing room above the warehouse, where meters below, two older gentlemen slaved away at a giant machine. The work was weeks behind schedule, the prolific men strained by the recovery from their illness which was already hampered by their age. Riechenbauch IV saw it differently from the doctors, however: he knew that the engineers were working slowly on purpose, trying to undermine Düren's advancement in the Faraway War.
He had ways of making them work.
"We've brought the girl, sir," one of his assistants reported. They stood at the door with a small, blonde-haired girl between them. She looked drawn but not scared, and Riechenbauch IV had to give her the smallest bit of credit for not crying every time she was in his presence. For he was not the most attractive man in the world – he had premature Grey hair that he kept shorn short, numerous scars from numerous battles and other m
Chapter Five: The Angel-Eyed..Chapter Five: The Angel-Eyed Iron Man
My name is not Phineas Grey, for my mother was not a cruel child-hater. She is a kind woman of soft features and a generous pocket, and she is also dead. She was one of the last who knew my true name, the one that left me the day I enlisted.
Naturally, my mother objected when I told her I had enlisted, for the military was the murderer of my father when I was only a toddler. I did him a dishonor when I dropped my real name for a fake one, finding myself undeserving of his notoriety and fame. Foolishly, I left my mother nonetheless, and she died while I was away in service. I do not regret this decision, for what I learned was that it was not a plague of fever that killed her and the small town that I had lived in, but the enemy.
I almost deserted the military with grief, but my desire for vengeance was greater. I resigned my position as colonel of the 23rd Devonshire Regiment and became a part of the Canan Military Intelligence to find more answers
Chapter Four: Enemy TerritoryChapter Four: Enemy Territory
Roy woke to the smell of freshly fried bacon, and for a brief moment, he mistook the bouncing passenger car as heaven. Delivered to their room was a tiny breakfast buffet of biscuits, tea, coffee, bacon, eggs, pancakes, toast, and melon. Jamie had already helped herself to one-fourth of each item and was going back for more bacon, and Roy couldn't help but smile at her ravenous consumption.
"Jamie, you've never had any self-control when it comes to food," he said with a chuckle.
"Shut up and eat," she snapped.
And eat he did. Roy was no better at self-control than Jamie, inhaling biscuits and eggs and bacon as if he had a giant mouth that an entire plate could dump food into without spilling. In minutes, their combined efforts had finished off the small buffet, and all that was left were two, sulking brown eyes on the other end of the cart. Luath hadn't gotten one morsel of food.
"Sorry, boy," Roy said with a grin. "I'm sure they'll bring more."
Chapter Three: AssimilationChapter Three: Assimilation
The trio was comfortably seated, Roy across from Jamie with Luath stretched luxuriously out between their seats on the floor. They were served a belated dinner of reheated meat, potatoes, and rolls, which the humans had to sacrifice parts of to feed the hound (later, however, a kind server brought Luath scraps from the kitchen, which he ate fervently).
Roy foolishly tried to make small talk with Jamie, which she wouldn't have – she was too tired and too worried to talk about anything, and she was much more interested in trying to see out of the window, despite the darkness. Roy soon gave up and opted to subtly watch the other passengers in their car, a small habit that Jamie had expressed to him as being "freakish."
About an hour into the trip, there was a loud bang on the door leading to the outside of the car. There were several more pounds, then it swung open and a man was shoved through with enough force to put him on the floor of the aisle. The passenge
Chapter Two: The Metal ManChapter Two: The Metal Man
It was unimaginably hot. The afternoon sun was beating unbearably down in thick, heavy rays that dried the moisture right off of the skin. Jamie slowly opened her eyes, and her blurry vision showed her Luath laying perpendicularly to her with his nose breathing in her face.
"It's about time you woke up, girly," a gruff voice said.
Jamie sat up, rigid, and saw that a middle-aged man in a long coat was sitting on top of a wooden barrel, staring her down, one of his eyes covered with an eye patch that wasn't a patch, but a seeing glass. Jamie wanted desperately to cover herself, but couldn't find her jacket. Flushing, she asked as politely as she could: "Who are you? And where's Roy?"
"Oh, Jamie!" Roy quickly tied off the rope he had been pulling by a tall, wooden mast and ran over to her side. "Are you all right?"
"Now that you asked, my head's killing me," Jamie groaned.
"That was quite a crash you survived," the older man grunted. "You kids and that dog of yo
Abandoned ChapelThe parish waits now,
the loneliness of corners
crawling outward on walls--
chipped away by the wind,
and held together
by silk spindles;
cobwebs align them like the membranes of memories,
the cut of a jewel in an broken window
against the sun
where beads of rain
gather in a mesh of strands
a new Mosaic
against the backdrop of a cemetery;
My eyes seek out the sermon
in close proximity,
paint no distance
between headstone and cloud;
elegies topple each other
in their climb to heaven
as light trickles
over the shade,
breathes a new glow over snuffed candles.
I feel the weight in these empty rows,
how a breath couldn't cease to be breath
in the midst of prayer.
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