The Asylum of the Devitory presents...

He was getting sick of it. The smell, the rocking, and the bitter taste in the air, he watched eagerly from the deck as the ship came drifting towards the beach. The sight of solid ground before him was like finally waking from a terrible nightmare. How long have I been on the sea, he wondered as the huge, rusty tanker came to a stop, it's long-idle anchor cracking and squealing as it was let loose from the hull, plunging into the waves below. His hand drifted up to his face, running his fingertips over his smooth, freshly-shaved skin before dragging them along the bandage stuck to his left cheek. With a quick flick of his wrist, he tore the patch off, flinging it into the water. The criss-crossed scar that greeted him as he peered into the rippling tide below sent a small shiver up his spine. Cutting this mark into his face was one thing, but sending him far, far away from all he ever knew across the ocean was another. Nobody to blame but myself, he thought, I knew what I was getting into when I signed up. His shoulder still ached, his body still getting used to the lump of Steetanium implanted in his back.

"Renova!" A cry from the bow suddenly pierced the air, "Cadet Renova!"

BLOODY SWORD: The Lost World

PRECIPICE

Episode I- The Creeping Tide

He hustled to the front of the tanker, assembling inside the line of other soldiers. "Cadet Murkis Renova, present, sir!" He blurted out.

A large, burly man was suddenly in front of him. "You're late. Again."

"Seasick, sir," said Murkis, hoping his lie would go unnoticed. "Again, sir."

"You can puke on your own free time, cadet," said his commander, towering head and shoulders above him, making the difference clear when he poked the top of Murkis' head back. "Until then, you keep that head up."

"Yes sir," said Murkis, quickly straightening his short dark hair when his commander's back was turned.

A minute in the small raft ferrying him and a handful of other soldiers to the beach was as torturous as the week in the old tanker, each passing second a greater trial than the last, watching the beach come within mere meters of his soil-starved feet. And when he finally planted his foot onto the soft sand, it was a moment he wanted to savour. The savouring lasted just a moment itself, when something pushed him from behind, Murkis waving his arms behind him, barely managing to keep his balance with his duffel bag swinging around. "Go on, Murkis, give the ground you love so much a big hug!" A hearty laugh came from behind him, "Make sweet, sweet love to your precious ground!"

The other soldiers behind him laughed as Murkis turned around. The big, goofy grin of a soldier his age met his eyes. "Yeah, Relluct, I'll give it what I gave your mother before we left," said Murkis, to an even greater collective laugh from the group.

The blonde trooper chuckled as he patted Murkis on the shoulder. "So what do you think, Murkis?" He asked, "Land across the ocean just as good as Ranadiam?"

Murkis paused, looking at the forest in the distance. "So far," he shrugged. His eyes then drifted to the settlement on the rocky plains in between the forest and the beach. Already, several large tents had been erected, and the beginnings of a log fence were being set up around the perimeter. "Man, these guys work fast," said Murkis as he, Relluct, and his company marched towards the framework of the gate. "They've only been here, what is it, two weeks?"

"Yeah," said Relluct, a little incredulous. "You'd think His Majesty Himself is gonna' sleep in a tent?"

"The king?" Murkis struggled a muted gasp. "He's coming here?"

"Yeeeeeeeeeah, you missed that? Or were you too busy puking to listen?"

Murkis groaned.

"Word is, he's just finishing up some big plans back home, then he's leaving Ryle in charge of our ol' motherland."

"The prince, huh," Murkis muttered. "Let's hope he knows what he's doing."

"You kidding? That guy killed a bear with his bare hands! Of course he knows what's he's doing."

Murkis rolled his eyes. "So what else did I miss?"

Relluct shrugged. "All we know about this place is that it used to be called Ireland, or somethin' like that."

"Ireland," Murkis repeated. Taking one last look at the new world around him before entering the camp, he said, "looks like it wasn't safe from the nukes either."

Entering the largest, longest tent, Murkis saw a familiar sight lined up in two rows before him. "Great," he muttered, "They've even brought the beds with them." The small beds, nothing but cloth and a wire mesh for mattresses, seemed to hate Murkis as much as he hated them. Tossing his duffel bag down beside the first one he came across that did not have someone else's bags occupying it, he sat down on the mesh, stretched his legs, and muttered, "The only things I hoped I wouldn't find here."

"Ah, suck it up, Your Highness," Relluct snickered. "You've been in the army longer than me, and you don't see me complaining about the barracks beds."

"Only by a week," Murkis muttered, "And it's only been three months for me."

Just as Relluct sat down on an empty bed beside him, another soldier approached them. "Cadets Renova and Versey, you've been summoned to the marshal's tent."

Murkis winced. The biting pain in his left shoulder was subsiding faster than before, but it was still enough to make him stop and grit his teeth. "Its getting a little better," he said as he and Relluct headed beyond the gates of the camp, their black-armored EXOs mirroring the last orange rays of sunlight.

"You're not supposed to feel it activating after the first one hundred deploys," said Relluct, rolling his shoulder around, "Or so they say."

Murkis only had to think of lowering his hemet's visor, and the EXO took care of the rest, dropping a dark shaded lens across his eyes. "So we're still splitting up?" He asked as they approached the first tree of the forest ahead of them.

"Sure," said Relluct, "Get this lame-ass patrol over with, and get to bed. I'm exhausted already."

Murkis groaned, and tapped his foot on the tree. "Tell me about it. Twenty hours awake on the taker, and now we're out here doing this? I know we're short on manpower, but this is ridiculous."

Just before Murkis was about to cross below the canopy of the dead trees above, Relluct tapped on his shoulder. "First sign of trouble, fire a beam up. Right?"

"Right," said Murkis with a nod. "See you in an hour."

Murkis held the branch before him, and concentrated. A thin burst of energy came through the module mounted just above his visor on his hemlet, blasting the branch in two. "I could get used to this armor," Murkis said to himself, tossing the remains of the branch behind him, down the steep hill at his side. Trudging through the forest trail, Murkis took the hilt of his sword, and examined the panel attached just above the handle. "And all it takes is a press of this." Murkis stretched his arms, and yawed. "Won't have any trouble getting to sleep tonight," he muttered, squeezing his eyes shut for a moment.

A sudden rushing sound filled the air. Murkis froze, looking all around for the source. Louder and louder it grew, and only then did he glance down to notice the ground beginning to crumble beneath him. A short, sharp yelp was all Murkis could manage to cry as he was suddenly enveloped in dirt and rocks, seeing a rush of trees before everything went black.