|Shiro Chi Venusu (White Blood Venus)
Author: Snow Garland PM
Funk Jaeger, an ordinary citizen by day, and a mark hunter by night. When he fails to kill a mark, he is thrown headlong into a world where dead men walk the streets, and assassin's skulk in the shadows...Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Sci-Fi/Fantasy - Words: 1,970 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 12-10-12 - id: 3081717
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Shiro Chi Venusu
White Blood Venus
At the dawn of time, there was a great, and yet terrible, war.
Many brave souls were lost and many horrifying atrocities were committed in the name of this war on both sides. At last, moved to end the conflict before it consumed the very planet, Lord Wodin gave to his daughters a great secret; a way to return the fallen on the battlefield to the land of the living. Armed with this forbidden knowledge, Lord Wodin led his Valkyries back into battle, commanding legions of the newly arisen dead; the einherjar.
The war was won, and in a final showdown, Lord Wodin sacrificed his life to banish the commander of the enemy forces from this plane of existence. In spite of victory, the damage to the planet was extensive and is still felt, nearly a millennia and a half after the war's end.
And ever since, men have sought for and failed to obtain, the forbidden knowledge of immortality that the Valkyries have kept for all this time.
Scrape. Scrape. Scraaaape.
The dead man who had been born Montana James Briggs found himself gritting his teeth out of irritation. For the past half hour as they had been waiting for their leader to arrive, his companion had taken to dragging his claws along the surface of a nearby boulder, producing the annoying scraping sound of metal on stone. High in the sky, the large cratered pale-blue face of the moon shed light on the broken, rocky wasteland that was spread out for miles in all directions beneath their boots. There were no clouds, and the stars were out in their vast numbers, like diamond dust sprinkled on-
Scrape. Scrape. Scraaaape.
Scrape. Scrape. Scraaaape.
"Grendel, cease that infernal noise!" He commanded, with added venom in his tone of voice.
His companion stopped and stepped away from the boulder. Grendel was the name he went by, in much the same way that Montana now only answered to the appellation 'Gisbourne'. Like the legendary creature he was named after, Grendel was a monster-or so it seemed to most people. Abijah had called him a 'work of art' once, but after having spent time with him on several missions, Gisbourne had realized that 'art' here referred to 'utter savagery and excessive brutality'. Standing at just a little under eight feet and weighing the same as a full-grown man with a child of six years riding on his shoulders, Grendel towered over his comrade; a feature that was sharpened by the fact that he stood with a ramrod-straight stiffness. The only item of clothing on him was a pair of old, worn overalls in dark blue, and his head was completely bald. Bolted in place over the lower half of his face was a grille-like mouthpiece, above which were his nose and his pair of faintly luminescent eyes; one an icy blue and one a blazing red. From the tips of his long fingers sprang forth a set of four-inch long steel claws.
Gisbourne had once witnessed those very claws slice a man to ribbons.
"Good," he said while turning his attention back to the task at hand. "Now stay quiet so that I will not be forced to take action against you. Understood?"
Grendel made a sound that was somewhere between a growl and a snarl. Abijah had tired installing a voice box in him, but with the way his body rejected new parts and the fact that the damage done to his throat had been quite vicious when they had found corpse, it would probably have been a doomed enterprise anyway. It had taken most of the group's resources just to have him reborn as the hunter-killer unit that stood behind him.
"Quiet." Gisbourne said again. Silence fell between them for a moment, then-
Click click click click click click. Click click click-
"Why you-" Gisbourne began, whirling on his companion with a raised fist.
"Fighting already, are we?"
The new voice belonged to a dark-haired, dark-eyed young man who looked like he had just walked out of the night's shadow. He strode up to them with his hands in the pockets of his midnight black greatcoat, a smile playing at the corners of his lips. Gisbourne slowly lowered his fist, fixing the newcomer instead with a glare. "Spectre," he said, in manner of greeting.
Spectre dismissed with pleasantries entirely. "You know that Abijah's not going to be happy that you broke her pet, don't you?"
"One must not be overly attached to lower life forms." Gisbourne replied coolly.
Spectre smiled openly now. "I'll bet a thousand chips that 'lower life form' here can kick your butt all the way to the mainland."
An outraged expression manifested itself on Gisbourne's dark-skinned visage, but before he could speak, Spectre turned to Grendel. "Whatcha say, Grendy? Think you can handle Gizzy's sorry old butt?"
Grendel said nothing, only clicking his claws as he stared down at his comrade the way a bird of prey would size up a mouse.
Without warning, a bright flare of light drew the gaze of all three men to a spot several paces away beyond and to the right of Gisbourne. A glasslike cube had materialized on the wasteland grounds, gyrating like a child's top. As its' spin slowed to a stop, two men came into being in smaller bursts of radiance inside of the cube. One of the strangers was short and old, with a full of head of long grey hair and hawkish hazel eyes hidden behind a pair of erudite-looking glasses. The other was tall, easily pushing six feet or more in height, with shoulder-length raven locks kept in a ponytail. Like Spectre, he also wore a dark overcoat, but with crimson flame designs along the hem and in the mysterious sigil sewn into the back. Unlike Spectre however, he had his coat buttoned all the way to the collar, and he wore a mask over his face with a gas-mask looking protrusion at the place where the mouth should be.
Sometimes it was hard to believe that this masked man was their leader.
As the new arrivals stepped through the glassy membrane of the cube, it shattered without a sound, and each shard shattered into further, smaller shards that disintegrated long before it hit the ground. None of the strangers gave their curious transport any thought as they approached the trio present.
"Hey guys, what took ya so long? Grendy and Gizzy were just about to mix it up." Spectre informed them.
The grey-haired man's severely thin lips quirked up at the corners. "Amusing," he rasped.
Gisbourne nodded respectfully at the old man. "Welcome Zichri." Then turning to the masked man, he bowed, saying, "Master Cythadeath."
"Gisbourne," Cythadeath said, in a voice that sounded flat and mechanical. "Is everyone accounted for?"
"And our host?"
Gisbourne's gaze strayed past to the small building sitting two miles due northeast of where they stood. "She's been in there all this time, master. No one has been within miles of us since we arrived."
"That is…excellent news."
Spectre raised a hand, and spoke before anyone could acknowledge it. "Uh…so she's all alone in the house?"
Zichri shook his head. "Were you even listening, boy?"
"Yeah, I was."
"She is alone." Gisbourne spoke up.
"I believe so, yes."
"Is it just me or doesn't that sound like a trap?"
"It does." Cythadeath turned his gaze to the monster in their midst. "Which is why Grendel will lead the way."
Underneath his half-mask, Grendel smiled.
The door burst open in the middle of the night, nearly flying off its hinges from the force of the blow.
Dana Larson stayed on her knees, eyes shut and prayer-stick still trapped between her palms. She could hear heavy footfalls coming up from behind as they invaded her sanctuary, as well as sense the aura of malicious intent that surrounded the party. She had known that they would return-it had only been a question of when and why.
And thus, the temple is tainted by evil, Lord Wodin, she thought.
"Hello Dana." It was that voice again. The same metallic, machine-like tone from the last visit, with an edge of icy inhumanity buried within. It had been the voice of her nightmares these past winters.
"The answer is no," she said with her eyes still closed.
Then was a pause, then; "What?"
Lord Wodin, grant your daughter strength to resist temptation.
She flipped the rune-engraved stick over in her hands, snapped it in two, then opened her eyes as she slowly got to her feet. She did a quick headcount as she turned around to face her guests. All five of them were present, including the brutish beast that they called 'Grendel', who stood at the side of his master.
All of them were here; just like she predicted the moment she had sensed them.
"The answer is no," she stated once more. "I will no longer be in league with your vile schemes. Betraying my sisters once was punishment enough. Not again."
The small room was silent for a couple of heartbeats, save for the heavy breathing of Grendel. The masked man- Cythadeath, her memory informed her-stared at her something that remotely resembled amusement in his eyes. "Old age breeds foolishness." He said at last.
The dark-haired young man at the rear of the party chuckled as a look glazed over the faces of the bespectacled elder and the uniformed black man standing beside him.
Dana reached up to brush back a loose strand of her grey hair, with a grim smile on her lips. "That is true. And it is also true that…some…wisdom only occur to us mortals in our old age."
Cythadeath said not a word to this, only narrowing his eyes in response.
Strength…to correct her mistakes.
With a sudden burst of speed that belied the age of her lined, creased skin, she brought the two halves of the prayer-stick before her in an X shape. A spectral radiance began to play over the runes on the stick as she chanted, "Grá feros sy nìer-"
There was a flicker of pseudomotion in her peripheral vision, and the next thing Dana knew, she was pinned to the wall at her left shoulder by a set of long steel claws. Grendel stood on the other end of the claws, guttural growls escaping past his grille mouthpiece. It was only then that her mind registered the cold agony and warm blood from her shoulder, and she cried out from the pain. The stick pieces fell from her twitching hands, losing their eldritch glow once they hit the tiled floor.
Cythadeath interposed himself between her and his trained beast. "Such wisdoms, dearest Dana, often come too late to be of any use." He said calmly.
"May…may Lord Wodin's…wrath…cut you down-!" Dana gasped, then shrieked as Grendel slowly twisted his claws in her wound. A gurgling sound escaped the monster's mangled throat.
"Your self-immolation spell was a good attempt, I'll give you that. And I'm sure that you have some other nasty surprise waiting for us."
You don't know the half of it, a part of her psyche crowed savagely even as she screamed some more from the brutal torture.
Cythadeath brought his masked visage closer to hers, and despite the pain, she caught sight of the eyes behind the glass visor of the mask; they were a deep, starless black flecked with pure gold. The eyes of a wolf, she thought numbly. A wolf that I helped create and released upon the world.
"Enough games, Valkyrie." He whispered. "I shall ask this only once, after which I will use more…intrusive methods to divine the truth."
"Where is the Agent of Creation?"