|Chimera and the Shrubbery
Author: VeraSilver PM
The United Front's army surges forward to claim new land, to aid in their eternal war. But the Guardians of the forest have protected their homeland for centuries, and they will not allow nature to be trampled over. Despise it as they might, soldiers Jeremy and Sasha must work together with the ancient guardians, if they are ever going to be victorious against the dreaded Chimera.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Sci-Fi/Fantasy - Chapters: 10 - Words: 19,546 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 09-07-12 - Published: 08-08-12 - id: 3048737
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chimera and the Shrubbery
Part 1: Parades of Carbon and Intrinsics
Underneath a pale moon, a forest at night was seen, and heard. As the leaves swayed back and forth, black against the blue sky, a strong wind made noise, whistling through the undergrowth, tearing apart nests, toppling precarious mounds of earth. A wash of liquid falling from up high blurred the shapes of trees and some tiny creatures (and some large) scurried to their overgrown homes. The thousands of drops caused an orchestra when they landed; some drumming hard and fast against fallen logs, others playing light, whimsical notes against foliage. Rivers cut through the mud now, where hours ago there had only been hard dirt. Long white worms rejoiced in the downpour. Furred animals hid in cubby holes in their hollowed trees. Nature painted the scene.
Above the treetops, but still underneath the moon, unnatural vehicles flew across the sky. As they lumbered along with their thunderous engines, coughing clouds of poisonous fumes, they cast black shadows on the forest below them, shadows so harsh that they were darker than the insides of all the animals' burrows.
The denizens of the forest mostly cowered from this new, alien threat; giant metal pods zooming through the sky without wings. The young ones clung to their parents, who clung to each other.
But a small few of the forest folk- only two, in fact- stood tall and stared up at the rumblings of trouble, unafraid. Worried, but not afraid. For those two had heard the sounds before, and seen the titans. Not exactly like these ones, but similar enough. Rain and thunder brought peace -loud peace, but peace still- but these new entities brought only deathly war. The duo knew what must be done, and their eyes glowered in the moonlight.
At the edge of the forest, where the dirt and stone first became grass, a foot slid deep into the mud.
"Jelly beans! I'm stuck!" came the shrill utter.
"Don't call me that, please, Denver," came the grumbling reply. "My name is Jeremy. We're soldiers now. No more nicknames." Jeremy hauled over in the darkness and laid a hand on Denver's wrist with a clank. With a buzzing sound, his grip tightened until her wrist was almost crumpling under the pressure. Then he pulled her, and her foot came free of the mud with a loud popping sound.
"Jeremy is just a name they assigned to you," she said, brushing herself off. "I don't see how it's any more valid than Jelly Beans."
"Not now." Jeremy too watched the planes roar overhead. "That'll be Vato's supply drops." The pale blue sky was becoming black. Clouds exhaled a constant downpour. The droplets of rain made a hollow clang against his chest.
"Still nothing from the satellite," Denver informed him, checking her uplink constantly in case of change. "I've never seen it malfunction this badly. We are without map, without topological data, without radio communications, without even a compass, Jelly Beans! What is causing the interference? Do you think its the storm?"
Jeremy watched as the darkness began to envelop them, and truly felt the isolation that came from being disconnected to the satellite network. "It feels funny, doesn't it?" he said, a thought occurring to him.
"What does?" Denver backed up against him, desperate to maintain physical contact as visibility grew less and less.
"Speaking with our voices, and not our radios. Did you even notice when we switched?"
"I noticed. Now I've activated my audio sensors, I can hear a lot more than just your voice. I didn't know rain could be so loud. It's just water, after all!"
Jeremy watched the drops trickle over his fingers and down his breastplate, washing away what could have been months of dirt buildup. "It's a lot of water," he said, half to himself. He shot up suddenly to full height, a wave of determination overcoming him. He flicked on the torch mounted to his head, and a beam of solid white burst out. Tiny animals hiding in the trees couldn't help but gasp in awe at this light that was brighter than the sun. Jeremy pointed it at Denver's face.
Her fur was soggy, causing it to clump and hang from her chin. Her long bunny ears went bent down, drooping over her face. Her shiny pink nose sniffled in the rain and her oval black eyes met his gaze. As the beam shone upon her she blinked and winced. "Jelly Beans! Watch where you're pointing that thing!"
"Just adjust your irises for optimal input. Without the satellite, we'll have to rely on visual data only. And turn your torch on too, Denver."
"Okay." Another bright beam came out to play with the first.
"Good. Now let's go."
"But, without a map, how do we know which way?" she said, panicking again.
Jeremy pointed upwards, to where a trail of green gases hung stationary in the air amongst the rainclouds. "We'll follow the airships. That'll take us to Vato's base."
Denver smiled, and extended her hand with a whir, giving him the thumbs up.
Their legs buzzed fervently as they sprinted through the forest. Twigs and logs were smashed to splinters when their heavy metal boots landed on them, and dens were demolished. They carved a path through the woodland, as the rain increased. Birds and insects fled in fear when they saw the two beams approaching, and they fluttered and skittered to safety. Following their progress closely, but silently, were the two guardians of the forest, adamant to protect their home from any threat that presented itself..
"Stop," said Jeremy, and instantly they both did.
"What's up?" asked Denver, swinging her furry head in all directions, illuminating endless trees and hills in every direction, the shadows dancing dangerously.
"I can't see the trail anymore."
Up above, the branches of the trees had become webbed and interwoven with each other, creating a ceiling so thick that the sky above them could no longer be seen. A puffy feathered ball hooted, and sharp teeth ground together deep in the belly of the forest. Their audio sensors picked up the array of ominous sounds, and Jeremy and Denver took a step closer to each other.
"Have you ever seen trees like that?" whispered Denver. "I mean- ever?"
"Never," admitted Jeremy. They were so tall, creatures unto themselves, great giant monoliths that didn't need to be built by anyone: they built themselves. "But," he added, "this is new territory, after all. For all we know, none of our kind has ever set foot here."
"There's more than just trees here. There are things living in them, and under the ground. Hundreds of them. I can hear them." Her tinny voice became hushed. "And I think I can see them." Her vision darted left and right, trying to confirm that there was something out there that wasn't just a trick of the light.
Jeremy clunked his boots boorishly through a shallow swamp, his torch beam pointing straight upwards, searching for the trail again.
"You never answered my question," said Denver, following him cautiously. "About what's causing the interference."
"I don't think it's the storm."
Denver stopped dead. Her black pupils grew massive in size. "Then could it be-"
"No." Jeremy spun back around to face her, a stern expression on his whiskers. "Don't even say it. Our tribe is the first to come to this new land. We are the ones pushing our front lines forward. They are not here. They aren't causing this."
The rain stopped dead.
Tendrils snaked along the ground, and ancient oak groaned. Bows and branches swayed in the gusting wind, and among them the two guardians stepped in and out of the shadows, carefully, patiently. "Watch them.. youngling.. watch them and learn from them," a deep gruff voice muttered, barely audible, to his companion.
"I'm always watching, Papa.. but what do we have to learn from them? You said we must kill them. Then, why wait?" The younger one brushed through a big bush without making a sound, then shot up some low hanging branches with ease. Her thin brown brow creased, and her mouth formed a creaking smile, dirt spilling out of it. A snaking green tongue leapt out and wormed around her face. She sniggered.
"Daughter.. Hilda, you listen, but your own thoughts always take priority. That is not the way of the Guardians. We learn from our mistakes, and pass our knowledge down through generations." Papa stretched his long limbs forward with a creak, and pulled his old, limp body forward through the brush. "Tell me, did you ever fight against any invaders?"
"No, Papa. You know I didn't. You remember everything." Hilda crossed her leafy arms.
"You were only a seedling when the last invaders came. They stayed here for days. We watched, and we waited. Then we sprung our trap, and we defeated them."
"Well, I hate to burst your bubble, Papa, but these ones are fast. So fast its hard to keep up. And they are running towards the edge of the forest. Maybe they are just passing through?"
Papa shook his head solemnly. "You saw the metal birds in the sky. They have come again, like before. Not exactly the same, but close enough. They are heralds of destruction." He let out a quiet sigh. "We will have to kill them. It has always been the only way. The only way to protect the forest."
"Then let's get going!" hissed Hilda with a cackle.