Posted 13 March, 2005
This is dedicated to Angelina Vansen as it was her story "Cherry Deluxe" I was half way through reading when the inspiration for this story leaped out at me. BTW Angelina... Im still waiting for that photo *cheeky grin*
This is darkfic people. Its kinda like Mad Max meets Shadowrun.
In the year 2125 a virus raged across the earth, helped along largely by the lack of borders and the affordable, super fast global transport system. Once the people responsible realised their genetically targeted weapon had mutated and moved beyond their control they locked themselves behind huge walls and left the populace to die.
And die they did. In vast numbers.
Those few who managed to survive gathered in rough communities at the base of the great walls and a new civilisation sprang into existence. An existence ruled by the gangs that controlled the black market in everything from food to flesh.
A sharp knock sounded on the thick wooden door to her room pulling a curse of frustration from the woman within. A growled “Yes” bought the messenger through it and into her presence. Annika Hansen, Lieutenant to Bailey Que, the leader of the Dragon Clan, continued adjusting the lightweight poly alloy body armour as it moulded to her sleek, muscled torso, completely ignoring the messenger now standing by the door. Finally happy with the fit, she pulled her usual black leather vest over the top and turned to look at the newcomer. The only indication she was ready to hear what Alanna had to say, was a sharply raised blonde eyebrow.
“Boss wants to see you,” the woman, her master sergeant, said tonelessly. “She’s in the east planning room.”
“All indications are leading in that direction.”
“Is everything ready?”
“Alpha and Beta squads are at full readiness. Everything is prepared as per your orders.”
Annika turned to the weapon rack behind her and grasped the handle of her favourite hand weapon, a razor whip which she uncoiled with a flick of her wrist. It made a metallic, slithering sound as its twelve foot length cut a shallow groove in the flagstone floor.
“Two hundred years," the lieutenant said absently, pushing the slide on the whip handle. Satisfied with the sharp snick as the hundreds of razors retracted along its length, she coiled its finely jointed alloy length and placed it on her belt before turning to her sergeant. "Two hundred years since the biowar that eradicated most of the human race. One hundred and fifty years since Dragon and Iron Horse both began to fight for supremacy and tonight it will all belong to us!"
"You mean it will belong to the Dragon Clan," Alanna said, mild amusement evident in her tone.
"Yes, of course, my friend. It will all belong to the most glorious Dragon Clan!"
Annika felt her blood warm in anticipation of the coming engagement and blue fire seemed to crackle to life behind her normally arctic eyes. Tonight would see an end to the “sharing of wealth.” Tonight would be the end of their rivalry with the Iron Horse Clan and control of Gantry, as the town was known, would finally fall to her clan.
She shuddered as a sharp ache shot through her tightly muscled arms when she walked across the resonance field surrounding the planning room. The field was used to detect the entry of cybernetic weapons and electronic spy equipment into this the heart of the Clan. Her latest 'enhancements', while registered into the detection system, were still extremely sensitive to the field.
Bailey Que's eyes swept over her lieutenant in a faintly possessive manner, the way she did with all her clan, before focusing on the younger fighter's hands.
"Have they settled?" she asked. Her voice was languid as she addressed Annika, a tone that never changed regardless of the circumstances, whether issuing orders for a hit or praise while you made her come.
"I am still becoming used to the pain when they engage, however, it is tolerable."
"Good. I have just received word, the perimeter guards report movement. Please ready the troops in the compound, we leave in half an hour." Annika, acknowledging the steel beneath the polite tone, bowed in deference and left the room.
Complete and total silence blanketed the compound as Bailey stepped up to address her troops.
“When we return here tonight,” she began, “will it be with our enemy’s weapons at our backs?” The Clan leader’s question was only out for a fraction of a second before the men and women she addressed gave a resounding “NO!” A thin reptilian smile spread across her face as she drew on the violent energy that charged the compound.
“Then, when we return tonight, will it be over the bodies of our enemies?” The roared “YES!” was even louder than the previous answer. Bailey’s face seemed to blaze with the power she held as Clan leader.
“You all have your orders by now,” she said to her commanders before looking again across her troops. “Let me make something abundantly clear. I wish the Iron Horse Captain alive and in chains at my feet at the end of this battle. Any soldier who is responsible for the failure of this outcome had better be dead, by their own hands or someone else’s. That being said, the soldier who brings me the head of her nameless devil of a lieutenant will be rewarded handsomely.” The crowd roared again in appreciation of their Clan leader. Nodding to Annika, Bailey stepped down, leaving the final words to her lieutenant.
“Gamma Squad, form up,” Annika ordered. “You have your orders; move out into your assigned positions on my mark. And so help you, if I hear anything louder than the whisper of your boots hitting the streets, you will answer to me… personally.” The tall blonde waited until the last of her troops settled into formation and silence fell once more before releasing them to pour almost silently out into the streets beyond the compound.
The clash when it came was fast and full of rage with the two groups thrown together in a hail of red hot metal, both lead and steel. Soldiers in the first ranks were mown down like the cannon fodder of ancient battles, the ground littered with their broken bodies, weapons and blood.
“Take Beta squad into the right flanking position, stay out of sight behind the east buttress. I will ride with the Alpha squad onto the left flank and engage, when the green flare goes up, ride in hot and hard. By the end of this I will have that unnamed devil’s head above the door to my lodge and the captain chained at my feet.” Flat black eyes turned to receive her second’s nod of confirmation and a cold smile ghosted across Bailey Que’s features. “You may use your new… toy if you wish, just remember the body parts I wish intact when this is over.” Annika’s eyes seemed to light up from within by cold blue fire as she caressed the black market military issue pulse weapon fitted to the front of her motorcycle. Saluting, she and the leaders of each unit moved off, checking weapons and armour as they climbed on motorcycles in readiness.
Watching from her position on the right flank Annika could see how evenly matched the two gangs of troops really were and felt a momentary twinge of worry. Suddenly the Alpha squad came burning onto the field from the left crashing through the line and drawing troops from the flank Annika now guarded. Beta squad waited ready to move in when Annika noticed a sudden surge in movement at the point where her leader entered the field. She knew the signal wouldn’t be coming. The attack didn’t cause the Iron Horse soldiers to falter as Bailey had predicted.
"Beta squad, form up," Annika ordered. "Attack formation 7 Alpha. Fire at will!"
With a ground shaking roar Annika and her troops surged onto the field in a sharp wedge, forcing their way between the knots of soldiers. Executing a perfectly timed move that placed each cycle facing into the human tide, they opened fire. The pulse weapon fitted to the front cowl of the lieutenant's motorcycle made short work of anything organic in its line of fire until the power cell finally drained. Annika allowed herself a small smile of triumph before she abandoned the vehicle and waded into combat.
The battle was fully engaged, Annika fighting her way through the seething mass of flesh and metal to find her leader. The pulse weapon had vastly improved the odds in this battle and now, to her trained eye, it was only a matter of minutes until the Dragons stood victorious.
Annika finally made her way into visual range of Bailey when a howl of fury drowned out the clamour and a tall figure appeared in front of the Dragon leader. Huge hands shot out and grasped Bailey’s throat; this act alone seemed to recharge the flagging Iron Horse soldiers in the immediate vicinity and suddenly Annika was fighting for her life, unable to come to the aid of her leader. With her height advantage Annika watched as the dark skinned Iron Horse lieutenant throttled the life from the other woman before lifting her close, whispering in her ear and breaking her neck with a quick jerk of his hands. Red rage dropped like a curtain over Annika’s eyes and she hardly noticed enemy soldiers around her trying to drop back while she cut a path through them with the razor whip.
“You!” she bellowed as she closed in on the dark skinned man’s position. “You will face me now and die!” The whip flicked out with the intent of shearing off a limb before she killed this individual. Her mind registered shock when this didn’t happen and she only had a split second to realise he wore chain mail gauntlets to protect against just such an attack. Having gained a firm hold of the whip, the Iron Horse lieutenant jerked Annika off balance, reeling her into his reach, intent on her destruction by the same means as her leader. Annika waited while hands tightened around her throat, using complete force of will not to panic and give in to the superior reach and strength of her enemy. Looking into black eyes flat with insane malice, she waited then was rewarded by a shift in his grip as he pulled her in close to reveal the name of her destruction. When the first spots formed in front of her eyes she heard him whisper a single word, “Tuvok.” With a sharp grin of triumph she focused herself and placed both fists against his chest as if trying to push him away.
“Thank you… Tuvok,” she said, activating her newly acquired cyber spurs. Eight inches of razor sharp titanium shot out from between each of her knuckles with explosive force and into the chest cavity of her captor. Annika screamed in pain and rage as she twisted the spurs, shredding everything inside of his ribs. Her feet hit the ground with a thump as Tuvok’s eyes glazed over and blood bubbled from between his lips, welling up from his slashed heart and lungs.
She took stock of the battle still raging around her with a swift and practiced eye, letting the dead man slide off the blades. Releasing the spur triggers Annika screamed again as they retracted back into the sheaths inside her forearms. She gained control of the pain focused it tightly and looked around for her whip. Finding it under a fallen soldier, she tugged at it sharply, cutting him neatly in half in the process.
The surge of confidence Iron Horse gained with the death of Bailey Que flagged with the passing of their lieutenant, though pockets of soldiers still fought on stubbornly. One especially large pocket now caught the blue eyed woman’s attention and she gathered her troops with a thunderous “To Me!”
At some point the battle had surged back towards the east buttress of The Capital wall where Annika's squad waited earlier. She could see someone standing on a platform above the writhing sea of beings shouting orders, controlling the last of the Iron Horse troops as they formed up and resisted the advance of her brethren. Annika began to yell orders to her squad moving them into flanking positions, reinforcing the remaining Alpha guards as they fought this large vicious knot of men and women. While the fight concentrated at the base of the wall, a light blazed down from above and Annika finally realised why these soldiers fought so hard. The person giving them orders was none other than their beloved captain. A cold fire flashed through her and she joined the battle, her four unit leaders taking protective positions as she cut her way towards the red headed captain. The closer she came, the harder the Iron Horse fought, their focus on stopping her, and not the remaining Dragon troops around them, ultimately becoming their undoing.
Annika neatly removed the head of a particularly determined young woman and finally she was facing the captain’s two remaining personal guard one of which looked barely out of his teens. The older of the two simply waited, ready for her next move. Annika issued orders to her guard and turned back to the three individuals in front of her. Both the battle and Gantry was as good as hers, and her confidence was readily apparent in her stance.
“I have no intention of killing you… Captain,” she purred, dipping into a mocking half bow.
“Call a halt to your soldiers and spare the lives of the last of mine. Then we will leave this place. You will have complete control of drugs and flesh in our sector and Iron Horse will trouble you no further,” the captain said.
Annika chuckled at the words. “Oh, I don’t intend to let you leave, either,” she said as her whip slithered along the ground with a metallic hiss. “You have nothing left with which to bargain. Your life from here on will be at my side." With a lightening fast flick of her wrist the whip lashed out and neatly severed the heads of the captain's two remaining guard.
"Chained or not, will be your decision.”
Annika had ordered the body of Bailey Que bought to the compound for the ritual pyre and now she stood before the gathered troops, having only stopped long enough to wash the blood from her exposed skin. As was the tradition within the Clan, the second in command did not automatically gain control after the death of the Clan leader. Anyone who believed they possessed what was needed to assume leadership could challenge for the title. Those who stepped forward would fight for the privilege to set torch to pyre and take control of the Clan. Now, Annika stood before the assembled troops and spoke the ritual words calling upon those that would challenge.
“The time has come, for combat to decide the future of this great Clan. Any may challenge, though only one will survive, their leadership sealed with blood and fire. Stand forth.”
At Annika’s hand signal a carved chest containing the matched pairs of ritual combat blades was bought out into the compound. As was custom she chose her weapons first, then stood back to allow any challengers to advance. Two came forward, Tennon and Jance. Both had been unit leaders of Bailey’s personal guard and Annika’s greatest threats. All three combatants were evenly matched in height and strength and she had trained with both of them at least once a month for the last five years. The coming engagement would not be easily won.
With the fire of battle starting to course through her, Annika stood her ground and watched her opponents. Allowing a moment of surprise, when instead of working together to defeat her they turned on each other, she realised they both made the mistake of underestimating her. Watching every move carefully, she waited for any sign this was a tactic to catch her off guard. Silence, broken only by the sing and clash of blades and the huffs and grunts of the two combatants, hung over the Clan compound. Still Annika watched intently, beginning to notice the patterns the fighters fell into as they danced back and forth. To the untrained eye this fighting style was merely a bright blur and constant hum of the finely balanced blades, arcing and slashing through the still air. Annika, being a master of this art, saw the precise moment Tennon lost his concentration. His blades faltered for a nanosecond, allowing his opponent to drive home, with one blade severing his carotid and the other his femoral artery. He was dead before he hit the ground.
Annika was ready for the immediate attack of the tall black haired woman, which flowed in a constant motion from the withdrawal of her blades from her dead opponent. Bright arterial blood flowed from the length of both blades towards her eyes. Anticipating this move she ducked under the spray swinging her blades toward the woman’s unarmoured legs. With a show of great agility Jance reversed her momentum and flipped backward giving herself time to recover.
Annika stayed in her fighter’s crouch, weapons ready, watching for any sign of fatigue after the brief but furious battle. The only indication of the previous fight was a slight deepening of Jance’s breathing. Annika tensed at a telltale muscle twitch, as the other fighter launched a sudden furious attack, easily parrying every blow sent in her direction. Falling into a steady rhythm she ceased to think and simply allowed her training to take over, blades singing as the fight moved back and forth across the compound. She began to notice small discrepancies in her opponents fighting style and realised Jance was finally beginning to tire. With an evil grin she pressed her attack bringing forth all her energy reserves in a final bid.
Seeing a sudden opening Annika pressed forward; both blades screeching as they slid through the gap under Jance’s breastplate. Hatred blazed in the eyes of the dying woman and with the last of her strength she spat blood in the face of the new Clan leader. Annika watched while eyes exactly the same shade as her own glazed over in death and her only sibling slumped to the ground at her feet. She allowed a moment of silence for the two fallen fighters before turning to the pyre which carried her former leader’s body. Picking up the burning torch stuck in the ground to the side of the compound she strode forward, her unit leaders flanking her.
“By right of blood I claim the leadership of this great Clan!” she shouted before thrusting the flame into the pyre. The accelerant used to soak the bottom timbers caught immediately and blazed to life, the heat driving most of the troops back. Annika and her unit leaders braved the heat for a moment before turning back to the platform erected to the left of the lodge doorway. A small rat like man with huge thick glasses stood in agitated silence on the platform to complete the final phase of her leadership claim.
She stripped off her leather vest and armour and knelt before a makeshift frame. Two of her unit leaders grasped her arms and pulled her tightly across it. The little man lifted a device and attached it across her back before standing aside and pressing a key on a small remote control. The breath left Annika’s lungs in a sharp huff as pain radiated through her body. The device was a laser tattoo implement which opened the skin allowing a fine spray of ink to be inserted. The resulting design was completed incredible speed and with absolute accuracy. This particular machine had only a single design programmed into it; the great green dragon, which was the symbol of the leader of The Clan. The pain began to dull as her skin was desensitised by shock and when the final lines were drawn Annika again had control of herself. The little man removed the device before gently wiping away the blood running down her back and applying an astringent liquid over the new design, to kill infection and hasten the healing process.
Annika stood and faced her troops, no emotion showing on her face as she pulled the leather vest over her upper body and signalled her unit leaders forward.
“Alanna will be my second; you will heed her like you would me. She will decide the promotions within her personal guard as well as mine.” She nodded to Alanna and the olive skinned fighter disappeared into the crowd. Turning to the remaining three she accepted their pledge of loyalty to her, leaving them with no doubt what would happen if they ever broke it.
“Bring me the head,” she ordered and her newly appointed lieutenant pushed through the front ranks and unceremoniously dumped a bloodstained bag at her feet. “Where’s the rest?”
“In pieces out the back,” Alanna replied with a smirk. Annika raised a questioning brow.
“Well, Bailey did only ask for the head to be intact, she didn’t specify any other body parts.”
“True,” the new leader snickered. “Very well, throw what’s left into the kennel compound.” Alanna made a half bow and signalled two of her troops to follow. Picking up the bag Annika hefted it a moment and made a great show of standing before the woman chained to the base of the huge timber door post and unveiling her prize. Holding the gaze of the grey eyes for a moment she turned and held the head of The Clan’s most feared opponent aloft with a shout of triumph. The assembled troops let loose a raucous cheer when their new leader climbed the rough hewn, curved door posts and impaled the severed head on the spike placed at the apex for just this reason. Annika’s face split with a monstrous grin and she allowed the noise to wash over her for a moment before leaping down easily to stand before the chained captain.
“Did you have to kill him?” she asked, so only the clan leader could hear.
“I believe you know the answer to that,” Annika said in an arch tone. Unlatching the chain she pulled the captain roughly to her feet and turned to her assembled troops.
“Tonight is not a time to mourn our great leader. Tonight is to celebrate her life and the victories she bought to our great Clan.” Annika pulled the red headed woman in close to her body and acknowledged the catcalls of her troops with a lecherous grin. “Dismissed!”
Barely through the chamber door, Annika pushed the captain hard against the wall. The former Iron Horse Clan leader struggled against Annika as lips descended on her own, kissing her hard.
Forcing her way into the captain's mouth, Annika cried out when the red head bit down on her tongue. She pulled back slapping the woman across her right cheek, not violently but hard enough to sting. The captain immediately retaliated only to have her hand caught mid swing.
"So this is how it will be?" the blonde asked
"Always," the captain growled. Annika chuckled as she unlocked the chains binding the woman before her.
"Good," the new Dragon leader said quietly as she placed a gentle palm over the other woman’s cheek. “Kathryn …”
Two mouths met again only this time it was with the full passion of well known love.
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