Well, I believe it's time I dumped a lot of posts here that I've been meaning to for quite a while. I tend to write longer posts quite often, but there are a few with special meaning to me and since I'm going to be leaving Giant soon, I want them to be easily found.
This one is Non-Canon currently, but when I initially wrote it, I had planned for it to actually be true. Circumstances changed IC though, so while this got posted in my absence like I requested, it simply couldn't be canon any more. Even so, it was probably my first real attempt at writing such a post.
Even now, I admit I've always had a fond spot in my heart for death scenes. I seem to have a special knack for writing them if what I've been told is correct.
Edijar felt another twinge in his already broken heart as he hears the final cry of one of the last men under his command. Vasquez and Hicks had died hours ago, the former being gutted by a bayonet while Hick's luck had finally run out, his gun jamming as his section of the trenches had been overrun by the enemy troops. Even so, the Commander couldn't stop fighting, the troops inside the wall needed every second they could to organize, to defend people who deserved their livelihood.
Just as him and his wife had deserved.
He could remember their last moment together, her warm smile as he brought her breakfast. Bacon, omelet, hashbrowns, and some coffee, 3 sugar and 2 cream, just as she had loved it. At least, so he had thought at the time. He remembered her lightly scolding him for the onion in her omelet. She later kissed him, apologizing because she normally loved onion in it, but her stomach couldn't handle it that morning as the effects of being pregnant started showing. Even so, he had tossed it out and remade it to her new tastes just because he loved her.
He hadn't regretted being late to work that morning.
He stabs another one of the enemy soldiers through the chest with his shock blade, it's length broken from deflecting a shotgun blast earlier. Neither it nor his shield crackle any more, their charge drained from extensive use.
A soldier further down the trench stabs one of his wounded subordinates through her chest, making her lay still. Aliza was her name he remembered idly, his thoughts wandering. College graduate, 21 years old, and a Literary Works major. Joined to help pay off her loans. Smart kid, she used to love dogs.
Edijar roars in anger and smashes the man into the wall with his shield, bashing him over and over and over until the man couldn't move any longer before bringing a the jagged edge of his shattered shield down on the fallen enemies neck, stilling his limbs forever. He pants and looks around for another foe before his animal instincts realize something.
The shooting had almost stopped. His men were dead.
All of them.
He bows his head in shame, long past due tears finally falling down his face. He had failed. He had failed his men, having sworn to guide and to protect them in times of battle. He had failed his wife and his unborn child, having been unable to save them.
But perhaps the worst, was that he had failed the Empire which he had sworn to defend against all attacks, from without and within.
There's the sound of several dozen sets of boots coming closer before they stop, and he looks up, only to see the barrels of dozens of rifles pointing down at him.
"Sir, you will come with us. Deactivate your weaponry and surrender."
He stares at them for a moment, then smiles. He hadn't failed yet, there was still one last thing he could do. He remembers the final bullet loaded into his pistol. A special bullet. Hollowpoint, semi-explosive. He knew there were ways to force prisoners to talk against their will. Magic spells designed to dominate minds or advanced life support machines which they hooked your brain up to so you couldn't resist answering their questions.
He wasn't going to let them do that to him. He wasn't going to let them force him to betray the only thing he had left.
His smile grows a bit more as he considers what he's about to do...
"For the Empire."
Before any of the soldiers can react, he draws his sidearm and tucks it under his chin.
Anyone nearby will here a loud BANG, followed shortly by a thud as Commander Edijar's headless body slumps into the bloodsoaked trenches.
Tale of The Beginning and Dark Step
Even though this story is recent and I posted it in GLoG in two parts, it is likely the longest piece that I've written for ffrp as I consider it a single story. As such, here it is in it's entirety. It is...quite extensive, so as a warning, it's a long read compared to most stories. It details the beginnings of the homeworld of my Wolfen race and their spirit worship.
As the crowd watches, Pathfinder's spirit steps into the fire and seems to vanish. After a moment, a paw of Wolfen paws appears in the smoke, seemingly turning it solid in front of their eyes. "To understand this story, I must first tell you about my world. But fear not as the story will begin soon" Pathfinder explains with a small sweeping gesture towards the crowd. The gesture fades back into the smoke and other misty figures slip into the bonfire to aide the storyteller. Natalie will feel a touch of cold on her shoulder as a skeletal looking hand sets itself on it. If she looks up, she'll see the misty shape of a cat-person skeleton. It looks down to give her a silent "mew" before taking a seat next to her.
One by one, other spirits creep into the audience. More cat-people, humans, large insects, small animals, and even an odd tree or two gather around. Each one is silent and appears fully dead, either a skeleton or an empty husk enshrouded by the grave-mist. These are the spirit-guardians that Pathfinder has called forth to protect this ground. Even the sacrificed yak has come forth, settling down behind Reelshka with a silent snort.
"In the beginning of my world, there was utter chaos. Three primordial forces fought for control." He explains as images begin to resolve themselves in the smoke. "Life, Spirit, and The Darkness fought a seemingly eternal battle. No side could gather more strength than the other two, and the thought of alliance only made them retch in disgust." As he speaks, three figures form in the smoke. First, a great and powerful beast, followed by a tall and thin figure of a man, and the third is that of a large fanged mouth. The three begin to fight all at once, struggling against each other, tearing themselves apart even as they grow whole once more at the same time. As the audience watches, bits and pieces that are torn apart begin to collect in the middle of the three, forming a sphere. "Out of the struggle, shards of the three Primal Forces began to collect, forming the Natural World. At first, the barren world was ignored, unnoticed by the three rivals, but slowly, the forces were pulled apart by the fledgling domain. Only then did they take their eyes off of each other to examine it."
The three forces in the smoke pull back from one another as they slowly begin to examine the world that their war had made. "Slowly, they began to poke and prod at the Natural World, judging it for what it was worth. At first, the world had been a barren rock, but slowly, the proximity of the Great Forces began to change it. Where Life touched, trees and animal life grew. For Spirit, the stars, moon, and fledgling souls and spirits appeared into being..." He explains. Before their eyes, the world expands, showing mountains, rivers and forests growing and appearing as the Sun and Moon began revolving around the Natural World. Off to the side however, The Darkness grows a pair of angular eyes and drifts around, looking at the world and prodding at it to no effect.
"But The Darkness wasn't so blessed it seemed. Whatever it touched never changed. Be it living or not, It couldn't seem to grant life of any sort or even change the shape of the world...and because of it, it grew angry. Life and Spirit found their creations interacting with one another, forming bonds that they could never have conceived of. The Darkness saw this and became scared, but try as it might, it couldn't do anything as the other Powers grew in size in strength." The image of The Darkness seemed to shrink, seemingly pleading as Life and Spirit grew stronger and larger, until Darkness was merely the size of a man, left to roam the Natural World.
"Eons of peace passed by. Races simply grew and flourished, but eventually a problem emerged. People and Spirits thrived, but they never stopped. Because the battle of The Powers ceased, the Natural World could no longer grow and the world soon became too crowded. Misery and sadness started spreading amongst the Natural World, the creatures looking up at Life and Spirit, begging for aide. Seeing the despair they hadn't meant to cause, Life and Spirit turned to one another, searching for an answer."
"I cannot stop this. You must." Life pleaded of Spirit. "I cannot take from them the breath I previously bestowed. It is against my very nature!"
Spirit shook It's head. "But alas, I cannot either. I am the one that gave them the drive and desire to do what they have done. To take it from them would be anathema." Spirit said. "
Slowly, the view in the smoke lowered to the surface of the world, back to a small human like figure made of black. It looked up to the sky, towards Life and Spirit before speaking in a small voice. ""Then let me." cried out a tiny voice that somehow reached to the very core of the Spirit and Life. Searching the world they thought their own, they came upon what little remained of The Darkness. "But what can you do?" Asked Spirit. "You would only seek to destroy us if you gained power once more."
The Darkness growled up at the pair. "I am like this because of my fear and jealousy, but you'll be many times the worse due to your pride and ignorance." It tells the pair, gesturing a small staff at them in fury. Despite It's size and diminished power, the others shrink back. Could it have been true? "Look at your precious creations now. Look upon them long and well. Can you claim them to be happy? This world is out of balance and you need me to set it straight. I have the strength to do what you could not, but you must stand aside to allow me to do so."
Spirit and Life looked at one another, but without needing to speak, they bowed their heads and granted their once hated foe a bit of their power. Before their eyes, Darkness grew quickly spreading across the world and covering it in It's black cloak. The event lasted for just a moment, but it was long enough to change the fates of everyone and everything on it. Snow began to fall, many people and spirits vanished, and others finally felt their years take their toll on their bodies. Others began to fight one another as new found emotions began to flood their souls. At the sight of this, Life and Spirit roared up in anger, feeling betrayed, but Darkness simply held up It's hand, having none of it. "Watch." It told them, gesturing at the inhabitants before slowly dissolving from the view, the temporary power it had spent. Darkness' form fell to the world in the form of black mist, burrowing deep into it to slumber, hoping to some day emerge once more...
"Doing what was bid of them, the other two watched and kept watching for years until they finally understood. Even though the creatures mourned the loss of their brethren and conflict erupted, it made those living happier for what they had. See, Darkness provided something to them that Life and Spirit never could." Pathfinder says as his paws form back in the smoke, sweeping away the images. After a moment, his face appears as well, and he turns to each of them in turn. "It gave them happiness. You see, despite the tragic losses, their new found Mortality, and conflict, it is these experiences that give us the contrast and comparison we need to truly be happy with what we have instead of merely content and living for the sake of living."
Pathfinder, with his body of smoke and flames seems to kneel down in front of his audience. "The worlds that most of us live in likely share similar stories in one way or another, but they all mean one thing. There must always be a Balance. Life cannot live meaningfully without Spirit, and Spirit cannot grow more mature without Life, but neither of them can renew themselves without an End, or Darkness to come, for without it, there is no reason for us to strive or grow away from what we are now." The Wolfen looks at them all with a slight smile to his eyes and ears. "And I hope you take this to heart, for without it, my next story is meaningless."
Pathfinder lets the audience talk amongst themselves for a moment to speak to a few of his spirit companions, telling them which story they were going to be telling next. As they wait, his brother Waterstrider holds Tito close. "It'll be okay. I'm sure his next story will be happier." He promises the little halfling boy.
During the brief interlude, the spirits remain still, watching the storyteller in the smoke. Finally, Pathfinder finishes his quiet talk and reaches for some powder from one of his pouches. His misty paw grabs a handful before he tosses it into the smoke, giving off a bright flash of green light and turning the flame into a similar color. It should be easier on the audience's eyes, and Pathfinder's form reappears in the smoke. "Some of you may know that my race was created by two of the greatest Spirits that ever blessed our realm with their paw-steps. Dawn Wolf, The Great Mother of Sky and Fenrir, The Lord of The Earth." As the Wolfen speaks, the image of part of a world comes into detail amidst the smoke. The scene is of a starry night above a forested mountain range. Slowly, according to his words, the star and earth slowly begin to twist, forming two wolf shaped beings who begin to chase each other around the smoke cloud, playing in joy as they travel throughout the world. In their footsteps, Wolfen sprang up from the ground, forming little villages.
"As the years passed and their creations grew, a great hole started growing in their hearts. It took several generations for them to realized why, but eventually they took true Wolfen forms, allowing them to bear an actual child of their own. Not only would the child be strong of flesh and blood, but would inherit part of their spirits." Dawn Wolf and Fenrir circle each other quicker and quicker before blurring together and forming a small Wolfen cub in the arms of his mother. "Their son's Child's Name was Dark Step. His fur was of bright red, but all his paws were of black. He grew quickly with the other cubs of his generation." Before their eyes, Dark Step played and wrestled and hunted alongside his friends. He was always taller and stronger, but there was no animosity amongst them. "He was destined to be a great leader and warlord. But unfortunately, Dark Step grew dreadfully ill the year before his Naming Ceremony." Pathfinder fades into the smoke as a scene begins to unfold...
Dark Step arrives at a cave, smiling and wagging his tail as the thirst for adventure fills him. He waves behind him at the other Wolfen who were barely able to keep up, but they join him momentarily. With a spear in his paw, Dark Step gets on his belly to crawl through the entrance. He knew exploring a place like this was dangerous, but with his soon-to-be mate Silverstreak behind him and her brother Tanhide with them, he couldn't but feel safe. There was no one else he trusted more aside from his parents. His thought's stop when he thinks he hears a small crackling sound, but when nothing new comes, he feels Silverstreak's staff poking his rear. "Get moving. We still need to hunt on the way back and we don't want to stay out too late. I don't wish to spend another night on Watch." Her brother chuckles, but even so, Dark Step understood the need to hurry. "Alright, lets get going."
It seemed like eons, but once they finished crawling through all the passages, the three of them entered a large natural cavern. Struck speechless, it took a small crackling noise to cause their ears to twitch. Following the sound, Dark Step's eyes found a small shard of glittering blackness resting in a little pool of standing water. As he moved closer, the presence it gave off made his fur raise. It was definitely unsettling, but nothing bad came from picking up a crystal, right? With his curiosity deepening, he reaches into the water to pick up the shard against the wishes of Silverstreak and Tanhide.
As soon as his paw made contact, the shard vanished and a terrible itching sensation crawled over Dark Step's body, quickly turning to fire and making him howl out in agony. It only lasted a moment before sweet blackness washed over him. The last thought to occur to him was questioning why his left paw was now white...
The images of the two smaller Wolfen pick up Dark Step's collapsed body and make their way back to the village, giving him to Dawn Wolf and Fenrir. For nine days and nights the pair watch over their son, but eventually he passes and his soul joins their spirits. "What Dark Step had found would have instantly slain any Wolfen of lesser blood and spirit, but because of his heritage, he lasted for a while. What he found had been the very anti-part to everything he had known. Dark Step, who had died without Name, had found an undissolved shard of The Darkness." Pathfinder explains as an image of Darkness' jaws drift in the smoke behind him. "In mourning, his parents gave up their existence of flesh and returned to their Spirithood to spend time with him. When they saw his spirit however, it had been changed. It wasn't the one they had made when Dawn Wolf had given birth." Dark Step's body grows larger in the smoke, and in the center of his heart lies the shard he had picked up. "To their knowledge, it was the first time Darkness had merged with anything of Spirit. As much as they loved their son, they grew afraid until he looked up at them and smiled, saying the two words that would ease them.
He simply told them..."Thank you."
With that, their reunion was complete, but it wasn't long until Fenrir asked why. Looking up at them, Dark Step explained. "Father, mother...no one could have asked for prouder parents. No one could have made him happier in life than they." He told them before cracking a smile. "Except for maybe Silverstreak, but that time had passed." Dark Step admitted. Amidst their chuckles though, the son started to look sad and distressed. They asked if it was because he missed his friends, and though he said yes, it was more than that. "What of the rest of them?" Puzzled, Dawn Wolf asked who he meant. "The other Wolfen. Those that pass on. They don't ascend like myself, so what happens?"
His parents couldn't answer as they didn't know themselves, so Dark Step continued. "I can see their lights of Life winking out one by one. Can't I do something?" He asked, crying out in dismay. He didn't know that the Darkness within him allowed him to see such things when his parents couldn't. Taking a chance in the dark, and in an attempt to sooth his son's turmoil, Fenrir nudges Dark Step gently. "You can. You are more than us now. You're the one who can go out and make sure they have a life beyond the mortal." With his parents' encouragement, Dark Step began his new path as the guide for the souls of the fallen..."
Pathfinder sweeps his paws to wipe the images out of the cloud before addressing the audience. "It was shortly after that a new group of Wolfen appeared. Shamans. Each one of us have a link to Dark Step, a tiny sliver of Darkness that rests within our soul to intermix with Life and Spirit. It is because of Dark Step that we're able to transcend into Spirit to aide our tribes from beyond death. When each of our times come, the current Dark Step comes to us and reaches out with his or her white paw. In payment though, it is also necessary for Dark Step to take our Earned Names from us, to grant them to others worthy of them." Pathfinder informs everyone as the smoke begins to die down. "As for those without Earned Names? It is these souls that Dark Step holds a special affinity to. For those who have passed on young, they are offered his or her black paw and given a name. For those especially young though...cubs not even yet old enough to speak, Dark Step, with the help of Dawn Wolf, places them within expecting mothers to grant them a new life."
"That said, the path of Dark Step is one that is merely temporary. It is a long and trying duty to one's race, but it is a necessary one. Because of this, it is tradition for Dark Step to choose a predecessor every hundredth year to take his or her place. It is a great honor for the one chosen, but the burdens are heavy." Pathfinder explains. "And as for the second life of the first Dark Step, you ask? Well my friends, that is a story for another time..."
Slowly, the flames turn back to their normal color and die down. The smoke lessens and it isn't long before the surrounding spirits dissolve back into the grave mist and seep into the ground...
The Fall of the Firebrand
This was written on a whim, I admit. I wanted to try my hand at writing some "Space Opera" style space combat. It's a bit rough in my opinion, but I'm happy with it.
"Can't anyone tell me anything about where we're at?"
"Negative sir. It doesn't appear on any of the star charts. We're in a completely new system."
Listening to what his First Mate said, Captain Ika of the Dominion's Firebrand(Destroyer, Hellfire Pattern) looked out the viewing port to see the shifting colors and twisting starscape that existed in this place. It was like nothing he'd seen before. "And you're sure we're not in Side-Space still?"
"Positive, Sir." First Mate Jutax told him with a nod. "Not only is it not on the star charts, but we've lost contact with the rest of the floati-"
"Captain! This is Radar! We've reported a Peacekeeper Ship inbound. 7k Kilometers and closing! ETA 3 minutes and 15 seconds!" The crew member's voice snaps Captain Ika out of his sluggishness and he strides to his Command Throne. "Identify the Class and Pattern. Communications, alert all personnel to stations and all engines Ahead Full." His voice is steady, but his mind is in chaos. Lost in a foreign system, enemies inbound and it'd take at least three days for their Side-Space drive to cool off enough for another jump. Firebrand was the heaviest pattern for a Destroyer the Dominion had, but it still wasn't capable of taking on most ships alone. He looks up at the speakers when his commands are issued, but Radar's voice reaches out to him once more.
"Peacekeeper Battleship, Tranquility Pattern, sir." Radar tells him. "We've also picked up another pair of Side-Space signatures. Definitely Peacekeeper."
Captain Ika curses their luck. As fast as his ship was, the Tranquility Pattern was faster. It was something that would defy logic if not for the sheer stupidity of it's design and entire disregard of safeguards. The fanatical Peacekeepers were known to do such things and it resulted in better ships, even if 2 out of 3 blew up on their first mission out from the reroutes done to the drives.
Their stupidity and fanaticism was the reason they were winning The War for Sol.
"Navigation, reroute our vector to the nearest planet. We're making a break for it. Power, put all our power through to Engines. A hundred and thirty percent."
"A hundred and thirty?!?! Sir, it'll melt the en-""THEN LET THE DAMN THINGS MELT, MAN!" Ika snaps at his subordinate When the command rings through the speakers and the ship suddenly jolts, he relaxes just a bit to look at the holo-charts in front of him. The first of the Peacekeeper ships had already closed half the distance and as the new data came in, it was followed by two more Tranquility Patterns. After a moment's thought, he shook his head. They weren't going to make it in time. The Captain flips command of the speaker system to his throne before giving more orders. "All gunner crews, damage control, and engineers are to be on standby. Prepare for hull damage." "-FOR HULL DAMAGE. He commands, the speakers echoing his voice.
Sitting back, there was nothing to do but exhaust themselves for their hunter...
When Ika woke, he knew he couldn't have been out for more than a few seconds at most. His head was ringing, klaxons wailed, and he could smell fried electronics. He couldn't hear it himself speak at first, but he figured someone else might. He shouted to Damage Control, to see what the situation was. He got his answer, but with his eyes watered, he had to ask for it again and again until finally he heard himself. "-at?!?" Ika shouted, shaking his head while gripping his throne to steady himself. "I said that we've lost all Prime engines, sir! As well as Starboard plasma turrets 1 and 4, Port plasma turrets 1 and 2. Hull breaches in sections J through M and the infirmary is gone!"
That left the dorsal missile bays untouched, but half the defensive turrets gone. As for the engines...only 4 were left of the nine. It wouldn't be enough to let them try and land on the planet's surface. Closest they could get now was within a few hundred kilometers and then launch life-pods. Taking one last look around the bridge, he retakes his seat, brushing the blood from his eyes. The initial salvo of missiles had punched through their thick hull, crippling them, but they were still alive. While it was fortunate that a Tranquility Pattern only had the one salvo, it just meant Firebrand was in for a slow death.
"Patch me through the comm."
"ALL UNNECESSARY CREW ARE TO GET TO THE LIFE PODS AND PREPARE FOR EVAC." At this, Gunner's Mate Jess snorted. "Well, there goes my last hope." She said, taking a deep breath of her cigar. Sure, it was against rules to do so on the ship, but using up a bit of extra oxygen in these final moments didn't amount to anything. Hearing a ping to station, she pulled up her holo-chart and started locking missiles onto the inclosing battleship. "Eat this you rotten bastards."
All around her, a hiss from hydraulics could be heard as missile pods opened up. They were solid warheads, non-explosive and while that sounded silly, adding any sort of explosive, fissionable or otherwise, would be utterly redundant at the speeds these missiles would travel.
Back on the bridge, Captain Ika smiled as the first of the three Tranquilities was hit and started tumbling. It was out for now. The damage wasn't too severe, but it gave them time to limp along. "Communications, page all hands to the escape pods before going yourself. I'll be along shortly." He says as he begins plotting an Auto-pilot course. His crew leaves quickly after doing as ordered and he stands once the computer accepts the command. He takes a moment to straighten and brush off his green tunic and hat before turning down to hallway and running towards the escape pods.
Halfway there, the ship suddenly rocks to the side, suffering another heavy impact, knocking Ika against the bulkhead with a curse. The Peacekeeper ship must have saved a missile or two. It wasn't long before another one hit, followed shortly by another. Steadying his heart, the Captain began to run to the nearest escape bay, but had to jump back when blast deals began to seal off the damaged area. The pods must have been hit as it was too soon for the computer to launch them.
"Computer! Are there any pods still accessible from my location?!?" He shouts into his comm piece as he steps over a badly burned body, stumbling through the hallway.
"TWO. PODS 9 AND 1-." For a moment, there's a burst of static. "ONE. POD 13. POD 9 HAS SUFFERED INTEGRITY LOSS."
Ika rushes towards his salvation and time seems to slow. Every step turns leaden under the stress. His ship and crew would likely be lost and marked MIA. Thousands of people would mourn their loss even as they hoped for their return. No one would ever know that they died in this god-forsaken system. Lost in thought, he didn't see a young ensign turn the corner in front of him. The two hit hard and sprawled to the floor even as the ship began turning onto it's side. A stabilizer must have been hit, but their course is still true with any luck. It's not like they could risk it now.
The Ensign under him crawls out, cursing before grabbing his arm and pulling him along. "C'mon, Cap'n!" She says, dragging him towards the life pod. Ika grumbles and gets on his two feet. It was in sight and empty, so he couldn't help but smile at her. Ensign Vencigad grins back, but it falls quickly when a new message comes over the system. "AUTO-PILOT FAILURE. MANUAL DRIVE NEEDED TO COMPLETE COURSE." Ensign Vencigad doesn't waste any time and begins drawing her sidearm. "Sorry Cap'n, but you're going on tha life boo-" The redhead's body collapses like a wet rag when Captain Ika slugs her jaw. "Apologies Edda..." he begs as he drags her onto the boat and straps her down. "But it's my ship."
Straightening his hat once more, he walks out of the life boat with his powerful stride and makes his way to the bridge as the boat's door seals shut behind him. There's a dull clank as it's locked, leaving the Captain no other choice.
A short while later, the Captain stands in front of his Throne on the Bridge, a glass of wine in one hand while the other's fingers play over the holo-charts, driving the ship and tweaking the thrusters to keep her from tumbling too badly. With a slight smile to himself, he takes a sip of his wine. "Know what we're missing, computer?"
Hitting enter on yet another command, the Captain begins steering Firebrand in an arc away from the planet. Only one life pod had launched, but one was enough. "Music. That's what we're missing. Turn on some Tchaikovsky for me."
The computer does so, and shortly after one final course adjustment, Captain Ika retakes his seat and raises his glass at the Peacekeeper vessel getting larger in the reinforced view port.