Category Archives: Adventure

Assault on Anomgen Base, Pt. 13

Grr. There’s a little bit more here before I can wrap things up, but I will not be deterred from writing poetry. A month long cliffhanger is too long, so expect to see this story wrap up sometime within the next week. In the meantime, there will be poetry every day for the month of April!

You deserved to find a better end,” Grigor said. “I wish I didn’t have to do this.” He paused for a moment, the sadness that defined his every thought seeming to deepen somehow. “It’s tragic that it had to come to this.”
Max’s world was pain. The scent of burning meat filled his nostrils, and though he could hear Grigor’s words clearly enough, everything else seemed to be coming from far away. He though he could hear Genni screaming, Trass’khar hissing and spitting curses. And Filip looked for all the world like he was dead, his body hanging limp in Grigor’s hands now. Sorry, kid. Sorry.

The world was getting dark. Say something cool. If you’re going to die, do it right. Tell him, “You couldn’t beat me. You had to use a gun.” Tell him, “You can kill us, but the People’s Army will fight on.” Tell him, “Look at the monster you’ve become.”

He looked up into Grigor’s eyes. Behind the unflinching expression and the cold metallic parts, there was a man that’d once been his friend. “No one made you do this Grigor. That’s the real tragedy. No one’s ever made you do anything.”

Before the world went completely black, it started to glow a bright, furious red.

* * *

Genni was sobbing when Max died. She was speechless when the kid exploded back into life moments later. She’d seen Grigor pull him through the air and watched as he’d gone limp in her brother’s hands. She figured that he’d killed him, but as the life left Max’s body the kid had started twitching, had let out a low feral growl. And then he opened his eyes and his mouth, and bright red psionic energy had started pouring out of him.

She’d seen Grigor’s awakening. Strong and overwhelming emotions tended to cause it. When their dog had died when they were children, Grigor’s eyes had glowed with the sadness he carried. He’d wept tears of purple.

Whatever the kid was feeling, it oozed out of him. Some kind of red energy poured from his eyes and his mouth like blood, sizzling as it fell through the air and lingering on the floor of the base for a few seconds before dissipating.

“You killed him!” he screamed at Grigor, breaking free from the older and stronger man’s grip. “You killed him!”

Genni saw something she’d never once seen on Grigor’s face before. For the first time in his life, he looked scared.

* * *

The little human was nothing, and then the little human was K’torrh, God of Anger. These creatures were warm-blooded, their emotions products of chemistry within their bodies. One of the first things Trass’khar had learned in his dealings with them was how to taste their emotions, how to pull the scents from the air, and he’d never witnessed a human so angry before. It spoke to some primal part of his brain, and he unconsciously pushed Genni behind himself to shield her from this new potential threat.

Filip roared like a serpentii fighting for a mate. The noise caused physical pain somehow in Trass’khar’s mind, filled him with thoughts of violence and revenge. The little human was a psyker now, it seemed. The psi-focusers on Grigor and Max’s bodies exploding from the backlash moments later confirmed the theory.

Grigor raised his plasma pistol to shoot Filip, but the little human moved impossibly fast, and he had the barrel of the weapon in his hands before Grigor could get the shot off. He tore it from Grigor’s hands, his own fists glowing with the red energy that still bled from his eyes and his mouth.

“I’ll kill you!” he screamed. “I’ll kill you!”

K’torrh himself would have been proud of the fury the little human brought to bear against Grigor. The base itself seemed to shake from the blows that he rained upon the villain. The traitorous scum did not look so proud now.

It only took a moment for Trass’khar to realize that the ground beneath his feet actually was shaking. He cast a glance around the room, and panic coursed through his body when his eyes fell upon the terminal that Genni had been trying so desperately to hack before Grigor had appeared.

Psi-focusers were not the only equipment that had been vulnerable to psionic backlash, it seemed.


Assault on Anomgen Base, Pt. 12

April is right around the corner, and that means National Poetry Writing Month! That also means that this story needs to wrap up ASAP, because I’ll be damned if I let it sit on the backburner for a month when it’s so close to the end. Expect another post sometime within the next 24 or so hours, and then thirty days of poetry after that.

Genni’s vision blurred, the world seeming to shudder and melt before her eyes. Concussed. Got to get up. Got to help. She felt a grip like an iron claw close around her arm and pull her to her feet. When she looked up, Trass’khar’s scaly face and unblinking eyes were looking down at her. She tried to raise her plasma carbine, but the serpentii wrapped its claw around the barrel and pushed it down. She didn’t speak the alien’s language, but she understood his meaning well enough: That will hurt more than it will help.

Her gaze drifted towards the two men dueling with their minds, swinging their psi-blades at each other, neither gaining a clear advantage. The air crackled with the energy they were unleashing. Under her blurry vision, they looked like spirits fighting, an angel and a devil, light and dark.

And that kid Max had chosen to be his sidekick was just lying on the ground, utterly exposed and helpless. He trembled and shook, every attack by the two psykers punctuated by some new shiver. Was he having a seizure? Genni knew that psionic energy could cause a mental backlash in people who weren’t used to being exposed to it. To be as close to a raging duel as Filip was must have been wreaking Hell on his mind.

* * *

“You’ve gotten better,” Grigor hissed through clenched teeth. Max could feel the sweat dripping down his face, could feel the nagging fear in the pit of his stomach that any moment now his concentration would break and his one-time friend would skewer him. But a sense of pride in his own skill was carrying him through. Grigor was right. He had gotten better, and he knew it. When they’d sparred in the academy, Grigor had destroyed him. Even during training exercises back when Grigor had still been in the People’s Army, he’d easily been the more powerful of the two. But now Max was holding his own. Even after Grigor’d gotten himself cybernetically enhanced, even after whatever training he’d had as an Annexer, Max was fighting back hard enough to make him sweat.

It was the little things in life, really.

The odds were pretty good that Grigor would still kill him, after all. But may the Quintessence damn him, he was going to make the son of a bitch work for it. Genni and Trass’khar and the kid could escape. Hell, maybe they’d even accomplish their mission and damage the base beyond repair somehow. If his friends could survive and his enemies made to suffer, then Max guessed he was okay with whatever happened next.

“Nothing? No quip? No insult?”

Max just grinned. “Too busy concentrating, buddy. Sorry.”

“It won’t save you. And it won’t save them.”

Grigor pushed Max backwards, and for a second he held his ground in anticipation of Grigor’s charge. Instead, he reached out with his mind and pulled Filip through the air towards him. The kid thrashed and shook, but his eyes were glazed over like he was somewhere a million miles away.

“No!” Max cried out. His concentration broke. He moved forward to try and protect Filip, shield his body with the energy from his psi-focuser.

Faster than Max’s eyes could follow, Grigor pulled a plasma pistol out of a holdout holster in the small of his back and shot him in the stomach.


Assault on Anomgen Base, Pt. 11

Filip’s mind went blank, his thoughts knocked away like children’s toys brushed off a tabletop by an impatient parent. When he was a child fighting and hustling and playing with the other children on his hiveblock, they’d bragged about how brave and tough and clever they were. They’d each claim to have stared down wild animals, violent drunks and junkies, police, creatures unearthly and supernatural. It was all lies and games, of course, but even as a boy, Filip wondered what it would be like to really face something monstrous, something dangerous. What would he do then?

Now he knew. He’d freeze. He’d do nothing. Grigor Zonda was something between a legend and a fairytale told to frighten children. The greatest warrior in the People’s Army. The most powerful psyker anyone had ever seen. The tortured genius. The traitor. The butcher. The man who had become an unfeeling machine in service to the enemy. Fighter, sniper, pilot, strategist. There was nothing he couldn’t do, no weapon he couldn’t wield, no enemy he couldn’t defeat.

He walked right past Filip without even bothering to look at him. Why should he have? What mind does a tidal wave give to the ships and the villages it crushes with its passing?

Commander Zonda and Max and Trass’khar fired their weapons. Grigor was a font of psionic energy, Filip knew, and he channeled it, focused it around himself like a shield. He could see his friends shouting, could see their firearms roar as they spat death, but the noise barely came through to him. The despair that emanated from Grigor Zonda was like a fog that dampened noise and sights until they were whispers and ghosts. Words came to him in broken pieces and fragments. “Should not have come.” “Monster.” “Surrender.” “Kill you.” “Face me like a man.” “Didn’t have to be like this.” “Shut up and die.”

And then suddenly the world came into sharp focus again. Filip looked up and saw Max and Grigor face-to-face with each other, their psi-focusers projecting blades of yellow and dark purple that sparked and hissed as they met. They circled each other, Grigor’s face a passionless mask of flesh and cybernetic metal. Max’s was unflinching rictus, every bit as unnatural. “How’s it going, Greggy Boy? Been a while. You going to say anything? Yes? No? Just going to do that ‘strong silent type’ thing?”

“Your prattling betrays your true feelings, Clown. You know the hopelessness of your situation. Why deny it?”

Max laughed. “Just my nature, I guess.”

From where she had taken cover behind the massive terminal that controlled the base’s power systems, Genni cried out. “Max, move! Give me a shot! Give me–”

Grigor’s head snapped towards his sister, as if he’d noticed her for the first time. “Silence.” His psi-focuser surged with energy, enough to surprise Max and drive him backwards a few steps. With mechanical precision and inhuman quickness, Grigor lifted his plasma pistol and fired it at her. The bolt struck true, but it flew through the air strangely, ponderously slow. It caught her in the chest, but it sent her flying instead of punching a hole through her body. She slammed against the far wall with a metallic thud and a grunt of pain.

Max paid the attack no mind. If he didn’t care or if he couldn’t let himself care or if he simply had to maintain his focus, Filip couldn’t say. Trass’khar snarled and ran to Genni’s side. Filip just sat motionless as he had been, overwhelmed by despair.

But then the despair began to give way to anger.


Assault on Anomgen Base, Pt. 10

Filip stumbled to a halt, his shoes screeching against the metal of the base’s floor as he simultaneously tried to backpedal away from the gun in his face and surrender and die cursing the hated Annexers. His would-be executioner’s face shifted from a mask of steely resolve to a morass of confusion and surprise to anger to delight all in the space of a second, the change coming faster than her words could keep up. “Freeze, you– wait, what? …Max!”

Genni dropped the gun, pushed past him, and threw her arms around Max Blaston. Ignored by the lady for another man. Damned if that wasn’t always the way of things. Still, Filip smiled. This part of the mission had gone right at least.

Max returned Genni’s hug. “Well, that’s a Hell of a way to greet your rescuers, Commander.”

“’Rescuers?’ Excuse me, do I look like I need rescue?”

Max chuckled. “Well, we’re here to extract you, then. I assume you weren’t just going to walk home.”

Genni smiled. “No. I guess even I need a pilot.”

Trass’khar made a noise halfway between a snort and a sniff and pointed at the computer terminal Genni had been working on. She glanced back over her shoulder. “Oh, simple. I’m going to blow this place up.”

Filip said softly, “Oh, that’s what we’re here for, too. Uh, in addition to rescuing you.” Genni turned her attention towards Filip and looked him up and down as if she were seeing him for the first time. She wasn’t, of course. They’d met before. But maybe he just wasn’t very memorable.

Genni smirked. “Good. You three can help out by covering me while I finish wrecking their system.”

Filip took a moment to examine the door they’d just come through before the three soldiers nodded and took up defensive positions. It was standard stuff, no more secure than he would have expected to find in a ritzy hab block back on the hive. He frowned. It was stupid. Beyond stupid. It was pathetic. It was the kind of thing that settled into your stomach and dragged it down like a lead weight. These clowns were that incompetent and the People’s Army couldn’t beat them? The Annexers were fools and they’d put together a weapon this deadly? It was all so hopeless. They’d already lost. Why even fight?

Filip shook his head. By the quintessence, where had that come from? Those thoughts had come on so suddenly and so strongly. It was like they’d been forced upon him. Like they’d come from some outside force, but what?

Suddenly the door blew inwards, collapsing to the floor with a heavy clang. All of them let out gasps of surprise. Standing in the frame was a lone man, dressed from feet to shoulders in black and grey titan armor, cybernetic augmentations all over his body, a plasma pistol in one hand and the other glowing with psionic energy so dark it seemed to suck the very light from the room.

“Hello, Sister.”


Assault on Anomgen Base, Pt. 9

The computers that controlled the base’s power plant were simultaneously an absolute joke and the most frustrating machines that Genni had ever had the displeasure of working with. In the time she’d spent with the People’s Army, she’d visited two dozen worlds, a handful that she’d never heard of before and another handful that were backwaters stuck in veritable Dark Ages. She’d seen tech so advanced that she would have had to dedicate a decade of her life to studying it, and she’d seen tech so primitive that she’d have to do the same thing.

Anomgen Base was run on digital computers, not quantum machines. She wasn’t sure but she thought that it probably couldn’t even connect to SolNet. It existed in a place of isolation, of antiquity, of obscurity. There were advantages to it, she supposed. There was no way for the base to be hacked except for by someone physically present in the room. But against someone who was physically present, there was almost no defense that the Annexers could hope to mount.

Now all she had to do was figure out how the damn system actually worked. When I get back to base, I’ll have to be sure to mention this during debriefing. Our spies need to be trained in the use of this outdated nonsense.

If I get back to base, I mean.

Setting aside the fact that a patrol could show up and shoot her in the back at any moment, her self-appointed mission to destroy the base would make escaping equally difficult. She could disrupt the processes that produced the base’s nuclear fuel, but that was a short-term solution to the issue of the base at best. In a short amount of time, the Annexers’ engineers would be able to undo whatever she had done. She needed to destroy the reactors themselves. Disrupt the fusion process, force the automation to keep feeding fuel to the fire, let the whole thing go critical, try and divert the excess heat and energy to the base’s ammo dumps and fueling stations and hangars. It might work. It wouldn’t annihilate the base, but blowing it to pieces might be just as good.

The sounds of gunfire and the dull thump of debris colliding with the hull of the base served as a fitting soundtrack to Genni’s desperate work. She typed hurriedly, read screens full of data she only half-understood, improvised and hoped for the best and cursed her younger self for not paying more attention in the many science classes she’d taken over the course of her life. The noises of battle grew louder as she worked, and it was only at the last moment that she realized that they were inside the hallway she had come from. Footsteps were fast approaching, and with a single curse, Genni set the program to run, drew the plasma carbine she’d taken from her would-be jailor, and aimed it at the door to the room.


Assault on Anomgen Base, Pt. 8

Now that he knew she was here, he could sense her presence everywhere. Of course Brekart hadn’t told him that she was here. The woman was greedy for glory. Doubtless she’d thought that if she turned the greatest general of the enemy over to the Chancellor, she’d reap unimagined rewards. A promotion. A larger command. A greater share of the spoils of battle. More autonomy. And she would have seen Grigor as an obstacle to that success, as a competitor.

Grigor shook his head. She didn’t understand him. Of course, no one really did, but she was especially blind, set in her beliefs and obstinate to a point that it cut through his malaise and actually frustrated him.

Bah. Their bickering didn’t matter. Genni was aboard the ship and she was loose? Very well. Grigor would capture her himself and put the entire debacle to rest. He reached out, looked for her specific thought patterns and emotional tendencies and she was–

The power plant.

But why? Why had she escaped from a prison cell just to–

Explosives.

She’s going to destroy the power plant. She’s going to destroy the base.

The cloud of sorrow and hopelessness and apathy that defined Grigor’s every waking moment lifted, and in its place a surge of fear crashed through him like a wave.

She was going to ruin everything. In a universe of cruelty and uncertainty and senseless conflict, the Jaffe Republic brought stability and order. Their methods might have been harsh, but people had to be coerced out of their natural state of animal brutality. Some were responsive to the necessity of the arrangement, some weren’t.

The base was instrumental in achieving peace, didn’t she see that? The leadership of the so-called People’s Army were all short-sighted fools who saw the Republic as conquerors, as “Annexers,” but surely Genni was smarter than that. She had to be. She would see reason, wouldn’t she?

The fear faded. Grigor closed his eyes and took a deep breath, cast his feelings into the void at the center of his being. He made his way towards the base’s power plant. She would see reason. She would.

He would make her.


Assault on Anomgen Base, Pt. 7

Grigor sat alone in his isolation chamber, trying to pick individual minds out of the noise of Anomgen Base. He could sense waves of emotion as was always the case: fear now. Anger. Excitement. Confusion. Something was happening, but it was impossible to say what unless he could lock onto a single mind and analyze its thoughts.

Of course, he could always leave the tank and go see for himself, but his reasons for avoiding that were two-fold. First, there was value in testing himself, in pushing the limits of his mind and his senses. Second, active exposure to other minds turned the noise from a gentle caress to a slap across the face. It was mentally deafening. It was physically painful. If he wasn’t prepared for it, it would leave him incapacitated, mewling and helpless.

It meant that he was alone, alien from the rest of humanity. But that was fine. He’d be alone his entire life, isolated even from his family, from his twin. He was used to it. He’d learned how to draw power from it. Let other psykers draw power from love and joy and fury and fear and pain and all the other emotions that ruled hearts and minds. Sorrow was Grigor’s, and in knowing sorrow he knew truth, limitless and essential and unforgiving. The universe was one of sorrow, of suffering. It marched steadily towards a great ceasing, great loneliness and isolation as all matter in it separated from itself and became too cold and distant to ever interact.

Holding that certainty in his heart, drawing comfort from it even as it weighed heavily upon him, Grigor emerged from the isolation chamber. The thoughts of everyone on the base surged into a roar, but in doing so, they became a kind of white noise. Brekart will know what’s going on, he thought as he searched for the Commander’s mind. He found it quickly. The woman was standing on the bridge, shouting orders. He sensed anger. Rage, really. How dare the People’s Army attack us here, how dare they, our psi-drones will shred their pathetic fleet and then we’ll harvest every last one of their bases, what do you mean the prisoner’s escaped?

Grigor frowned. That thought needed further examining. He’d been in the isolation chamber for a long time. Evidently they’d taken a prisoner and hadn’t seen fit to inform him. But why? Why would they do that, unless–

He pulled the name from Brekart’s head. Genni…


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