Zardac the Great
September 24th, 2011, 04:00 PM
I was suffering from a bout of Writer's Block, so I came up with an idea to try and beat it.
I decided to write a short story from the Monster Wars, a war in the deep past from the backstory of my Chimerus book I'm writing (draft 2.5 at this point).
Hopefully, this will become a series of sorts, but unlike my normal "short" stories that regularly top 100 pages, I want all these to be under 20. This one reached 8 pages on my word processor program.
So, in any event, I hope you enjoy Tales from the Monster Wars: Chimeral Dawn.
Zardac the Great
September 24th, 2011, 04:00 PM
Methuselah, the son of Lucius, General-in-Chief of the Royal Imperial Skrael Army sat on his Rexhide chair and looked over his desk at the Goblin opposite him with ill-disguised disgust. Due to his privileged birth, Methuselah had been able to avoid genetic tampering until the gene-magi had come up with the alterations to transform a normal, unaltered human into a less-appalling monster.
Methuselah was, in fact, now an Elf. Elves tended to look down on the “lesser” monsters, and Methuselah was no exception. Of course, it could have been worse, but if the man had been made into an Orc, he would not have been allowed in Methuselah's presence.
Repressing a shudder at the thought of being turned into an Orc, Methuselah finally answered the Goblin.
“You were supposed to keep your troops under control, Captain.”
“General, the treachery of the Edenites and the Lemurian Centaurs made my position completely untenable. Under the circumstances, the best option I had was to turn my Orcs loose and withdraw, and that's exactly-”
“Your troops,” Methuselah interjected, cutting off the distasteful Goblin in front of him, “began their panicked retreat after you fled the scene yourself! It was not our erstwhile 'allies' who made our army's position untenable, Captain. We could have held with the Calorians. It was your cowardice!” Methuselah snapped his mouth shut. He was coming very close to inciting the disgusting monster in front of him to violence, and though all monsters were created to fight, in a close quarters contest, the Goblins held all the advantages over the Elves.
Shaking with fury, Methuselah poured himself a horn of wine from the clay jug on his table. Some splashed out and onto his wooden table so when he sat the jug down, he waved his hand over the rough grain of the wood and the wine evaporated. To buy some time while he thought, Methuselah took a gulp of the drink, then swirled it around the horn for a few seconds. At length, he called the guards into his office.
“Take this coward outside and execute him.”
Immediately, the Goblin was restrained by the two unaltered humans as he lunged for Methuselah's throat. “You can't do this to me!” he shouted. “You need Captains to lead your troops!”
As the Goblin had his wrists places into shackles and was picked up off the floor, Methuselah shook his head. “No, you fool. I need Captains who fight, not ones who run away at the first sign of a hard battle!”
The howling Goblin was dragged from the room, and a messenger girl brought a paper in. Methuselah glanced out the wind-hole at the sundial in the courtyard, then at the time-stamp on the sheet's top corner.
“This was supposed to be delivered two minutes ago, you stupid girl!” She shrieked as he splashed the remaining half horn of wine into her face and backed into the clay wall as she tried to get the purple liquid out of her eyes. “I have told you messenger girls before that messages are supposed to be delivered on time, but apparently, you're too idiotic to be able to do that!” Methuselah took a breath and nodded to himself. “Report to the whipping post and tell the man there I said you are to receive twenty lashes with the whip.” He glared at the whimpering girl and in a low voice said, “And I will know if you get less than your due.”
Methuselah kicked the girl and she scrambled out of his office. Enraged, Methuselah plopped back into his luxurious Rexhide chair and looked over the report the girl had brought.
It gave him an idea.
“Girl!” he called. “You stupid girl, get back in here!”
Trembling, the girl once again stood in front of Methuselah's desk. “It would seem that God is with you. Go find the Goblin that the guards were escorting out while you came in. If he's still alive, tell them to bring him back up here, and I won't have you whipped. If he's dead by the time you find him, I will triple the number of lashes you are to receive and have the man use the whip with thorns.”
The girl ran out of the room and Methuselah sat back. It seemed that he was going to get some use out of the coward after all.
The arena was not, Methuselah noted, an excellent place to watch a battle to the death. Because it was being used to train up Guardians, the arena floor was filled with plants of all sizes so the trainee Guardians could learn to use cover.
Methuselah sighed. As repulsive as the Atlantean practice of using cyborgs was, he did envy them in that they didn't have to train their troops, chimeras, or Guardians. A simple computer program was all that was needed to turn some freshly-killed bozo into a heartless super-soldier.
Methuselah looked up as the head of the Royal Imperial Order of Skrael Gene-Magi sat next to him. “We really need to find something more comfortable to sit on than these clay bleachers,” the Magi said as his body complained. “I trust you saw the list of candidates I prepared for you, General?”
“I did, your Eminence,” Methuselah replied. “Three of the five look particularly promising.”
“Ah, yes. You must have seen the same things I did in them. Personally, I expect the Rex-based chimera to come out on top.” The man glanced sideways at Methuselah. What's this I hear about you, General?”
“What do you mean, your Eminence?”
“I heard that you let a message girl go without the whipping she'd earned yesterday. I knew that it must have been an oversight due to the strain of running the war, so I had her flayed alive for you.”
Methuselah shrugged, unconcerned. “She was barely twenty summers old. We'll replace her next week.”
The gene-magi shook his head. “You're altogether too merciful, Methuselah. The Dark Ones don't like it. We may need their help in the war with the way things are going.”
Unable to directly contradict such an exalted personage, Methuselah settled for sulking, and mumbling under his breath about not needing the Dark Ones.”
Unfortunately, the gene-mage heard him. He began to laugh. “And who would you turn to Methuselah? God?”
Shocked, Methuselah began to laugh too. “No,” he declared. “I don't even know of anyone who calls on God outside of maybe that nut Enoch in the Edenite desert. No, since the first of us died, I don't know of any who worship God.”
“They say your great-great-grandfather did,” the gene-mage said quietly, suddenly serious.
“Yeah, they say that. They also say that he knew the first man, so that was his problem. Hmph. And you say that I'm too nice. Oh, good, they're starting.”
In reality, the combatants had probably entered the arena some time ago, but with the foliage in the arena, it had been impossible to tell until the screaming started. “Which one is it?” Methuselah asked.
“Alligator and snake hybrid body mated to Allosaur and Styrachosaur hybrid head. It makes use of the usual toxins, but is unfortunately unable to spit. We meant it to have the nasal horn of the Styrachosaur, but instead, it only got spikes on the back of its head. Nasty teeth, though. Fighting a Lemurian visitor we found after we heard of their treachery.”
The fight did not last long.
Enosh, son of Lamech was not pleased by his current situation. He'd been drafted into the Royal Imperial Army and been forcibly altered. He wasn't of noble birth, and he'd not volunteered, so he'd not been made an Elf, but he'd not been a prisoner, so he'd not been made into an Orc. At the time, the only other alternative was to be made into a Goblin, and he'd quickly established his superiority over other Goblins, but now that idiot General-in-Chief Methuselah had him in the arena, hoping to kill him by proxy.
Enosh was not planning on dying, however, and he always had a few tricks up his sleeve. After all, one did not rise so quickly in the Royal Imperial Skrael Army by being weak!
The heavy wooden door to Enosh's clay cell was opened, and he was forcibly dragged to a room where he was quickly dressed in Thordinite armor and given a sword and a spear, but no launcher. He was led to the door to the arena's floor and shoved through.
As the door slammed shut behind him, Enosh focused on the environment before him. For the first time, he was glad to have been made a Goblin. It was true that Elves had slightly better reflexes and sight, but Goblins had better smell, sharp teeth, more strength, and most importantly, blotchy green and brown skin. An Elf might be more appealing to look at, but a Goblin could hide like no Elf in existence.
Slowly, Enosh moved into the man-made forest. The ground was covered with grass, cycads, ferns, flowering plants, and all the associated insects that normally went with the plants. He sniffed, and could smell that something unnatural had been let into the arena with him. All Skrael chimeras were bred to be carniverous, so if he could lead the creature to what was left of the previous fights' loser, perhaps the chimera would decide to go for the easy meal instead. If there was enough left, perhaps his opponent would gorge itself and be an easy target for him.
As he reached the kill site, it became obvious that the previous battle's champion was but a light eater. It was cruel, and apparently enjoyed playing with it's prey, but didn't eat much. He sniffed the air and knelt over the corpse, examining it. Then, just as the thing burst out of the foliage, he slammed his spear down, with its base against his foot.
The genetically modified gorilla's arm rammed the spear's head, which sank deep into its flesh. It seemed surprised to see that Enosh was no longer where he had been, pulled out the spear and rolled into a ball with its armadillo armor outside. Enosh waited, knowing what it would do if he attacked it now.
Instead, it seemed to smell him and rolled towards him, coming out of the ball with it's cruel claws extended as it did.
An unaltered human could not have done it. The ape was simply moving too fast, but for a Goblin, it was no difficult thing to side step the thing's charge and catch it on the side with his sword. As the ape howled in pain and anger, Enosh snorted. This thing was supposed to be a front line Guardian? If it somehow survived to adulthood, it might crush their enemies with it's pure size, but the thing was slow!
The ape began to beat it's chest and howl, a loud, time wasting event. Enosh took the time to begin feeling around on the ground for his spear. With the thing's armor, it would be nearly impossible to wound from behind, and if he was forced to use his sword, he'd have to get inside the thing's reach.
The thing charged, barreling towards Enosh on all four limbs, its genetically enhanced teeth bared in a snarl of pure rage. Enosh jumped to the side, but when he landed, his foot slid out from under him. His foot had landed on the round shaft of his spear and had sent it rolling away!
Enosh could see the chimeral ape standing over him for a second, then he was lifted into the air. The thing's clawed hands dug into his flesh, but he'd dropped his sword. The ape roared in his face, and with no other option, he punched the ape in the mouth.
The ape's enhanced teeth sliced through its lips and into Enosh's hand. In surprise, the ape dropped the Goblin and covered its mouth with its hands, creating more gashes in its cheeks.
Enosh's hands closed around his spear as the ape took into the trees. He could hear it swinging around in the branches, and decided that it was probably trying to confuse and ambush him. With that in mind, the Goblin moved towards a clump of bushes. Ducking behind them, he let his body begin the process of slowly healing him. The cuts on his rib cage seemed to be fairly shallow, as were the slices on his hands. He quickly pressed cycad leaves on them to try and stop the bleeding, but he wasn't too worried about them. If they were the worst wounds he received today, he might just walk out of the arena a free man.
A loud CRACK! from above grabbed his attention, and the next second, a large tree branch shot down like a spear at the spot he'd been at. He heard another loud crack, and then another wooden missile shot toward the ground.
Enoch began to calculate the risk of staying where he was and possibly being skewered as the ape's aim shifted to other places against the risk of moving and possibly being seen. Three more branches, and the choice was made for him.
The ape dangled from an unbroken branch overhead and dropped to the ground, outraged that the Goblin was not visible. It began to sniff the air, and its eyes locked onto Enosh's. As it charged, Enosh stood and flung his spear at the Ape's rapidly approaching chest.
It hit, but did not penetrate the beast's genetically enhanced sternum. Once again, Enosh found himself in the chimera's clawed grip and he slammed his fist down on the creature's wounded arm. The ape howled in pain, but didn't drop him. As it brought him closer to bit him, he jabbed his thumb into the thing's eye.
This time it dropped him.
Enosh picked himself up and scrambled past the ape for his sword. Behind him, the chimera thrashed around, roaring in pain. When Enosh turned back with his sword in hand, he saw why it was still thrashing around.
He'd put the ape's eye out, and it was in too much pain to fight. Careful to avoid the swinging arm, he dashed in and plunged his sword into the ape's throat. It began to gurgle as blood gushed out, but even as it died, it tried to kill the Goblin. Enosh barely made it out of the thing's reach, and was able to jump out of the way as it charged one final time.
“I've done it,” he told himself. “I've survived.” Now the guards would come and after filling out the appropriate paperwork, he'd be free.
“That was not what I expected to happen,” Methuselah as the mind-magi showed the crowd what had transpired on the arena's floor. “I thought I'd be rid of that Goblin for good. Now I suppose I'll have to give him another chance.” With a sigh, Methuselah looked back over the field. “What's next?”
Instead of answering, the head gene-mage looked at Methuselah with exasperation. “You are too merciful, General! You would give this Goblin another chance, but justice demands that he die for his crime on seHalta hill!” He ducked his chin down and spoke in a deeper voice than Methuselah was accustomed to hearing from him. “Send that Goblin to fight against the final Guardian candidate. Boil its original opponent alive and feed him to the battle-raptors.” He turned back to Methuselah. “There. Now the Dark Ones will be appeased.” He tilted his head off to one side and said, “Now the Rex will come. It will be fighting an Edenite prisoner.”
Zardac the Great
September 24th, 2011, 04:01 PM
Enraged, Enosh sat in his cell. His wounds had been healed by the agent in the tub, but he was supposed to be free. Now, he was told he'd have to fight another Guardian candidate, but when he'd been told that, he'd suddenly seen that the General-in-Chief would never let him go. He was to die in the arena, and if the General had anything to say about it, it would be today.
The Goblin decided that the only thing that mattered was to kill the General-in-Chief. He might kill any number of Guardian candidates, but he knew that escape was essentially impossible.
He would just have to take that arrogant Elf with him.
Eventually, the screams died away again, and they came for him. Once again, he was armored and armed and sent out into the arena.
Quickly, he moved into the cover of the trees, picked one, and quickly scaled into its higher branches. He scanned the crowd until he spotted Methuselah, then began to make his way towards him in the branches. He found a spot where he could see the General, and was trying to decide if he could throw his spear that far when he thought he smelled something. Carefully, he turned around and saw... what was it? A battle-raptor? No. It had to be the Guardian candidate. It was a young raptor, but it had the ridged head of a Rex, and Stegosaur plates along its back, which terminated in four stubby spikes.
This is going to be easy, Enosh thought. The stupid thing's just sitting there. Indeed, when the creature saw that Enosh had noticed it, it merely cocked its head to one side and kept studying him. When he raised his spear towards it, however, it quickly hopped away to other branches, well out of sight.
Enosh shrugged mentally and turned his attention back to the General-in-Chief.
The attack came out of nowhere.
As the Goblin raised his spear to hurl at the hated Elf, he heard a battle-raptor's scream behind him, and before he could turn, he was stuck from behind and knocked off his branch.
After a yell of surprise as he hit the ground, Enosh took stock of his situation. The chimera's small claws hadn't seemed to penetrate his armor, but his spear had snapped when he landed on its shaft. His sword was still intact, but he could not see his attacker.
He'd have to kill this creature before he could take another stab at killing the General.
Cautiously, Enosh moved through the plant life on the arena floor. The arena had seen many fights this day, but if he was reading the ground cover rightly, he was on the trail of the little raptor now.
The Goblin tracked his quarry for several minutes, and definitely saw the distinctive two toed footprints of a raptor in a place where the ground cover was thin, but suddenly, the trail ended. Enosh had just decided that it must have jumped up into the trees when he was hit from behind.
Enosh pitched forward from the blow and saw the ugly chimera rearing up over him, roaring the roar of a young Rex. He kicked out, but the light creature ducked under the foot, then disappeared into the trees again. A shriek let him know that it was off to his left as he rose, but the thing was so small and light that he couldn't see or hear it.
A shriek above him was followed shortly by a shriek behind him, but every time he turned to look for it, he saw nothing.
The Goblin hit the ground with a yell of pain as he felt claws sink into the back of his knee. He could feel his armor flexing under the creature's assault, but so far the wound in the back of his knee seemed to be the only one. With the surprise of the attack, he'd dropped his sword, so he reached behind him and simply threw the little beast off of him. It hit the ground with a grunt, but quickly bounced back onto its feet and disappeared into the woods again.
Enosh bent down and picked his sword back up, then began hobbling towards the arena's walls. There was about five cubits of sand between the tree line and the walls, and Enosh intended to put it to use. If he put his back to the wall, he could only be attacked from the front, and with five cubits of sand, he could see any attack before it happened.
Sure enough, the little creature stood at the edge of the trees. Enosh kept his eyes on the creature as he leaned up against the wall...but something felt odd. How could he feel the wall through his armor?
Distracted, he reached a hand behind him and felt that where the thing had bitten him, his armor had simply dissolved, and-and while he was distracted the thing had charged him!
Enosh swung his sword, but it missed. He brought it up and plunged it into the sand where the creature had been when the sword had started falling, but now it had climbed onto his back and was trying to excavate his shoulder blades. He slammed into the wall, trying to crush the raptor, but then it was in front of him, it sneezed. Enosh barely had time to get his arms in front of his face, but by the time they were down, he felt a terrible burning in his ankle. He swung his sword, but the creature had moved again. He stood, shocked as the sword shattered upon slamming into the wall, a victim of the thing's saliva, and as he felt the burning of the corrosive venom the raptor had injected when it bit his foot spread up into his leg, he knew it was all over.
He wasn't going to escape the arena. He wasn't even going to kill the General-in-Chief before he died himself. The only thing he could possibly do before he died was to wring that little raptor's neck!
The creature darted in again, under Enosh's fist and took a chunk out of his other leg, causing the Goblin to fall to his knees. The next thing Enosh knew, the raptor was back. It slammed into his chest, knocking him back against the wall again. The pain of the claws rapidly slicing through his body threatened to cause him to pass out, but the Goblin managed to grab onto the whirling vortex of claws and throw it off of himself, though it cost him some of the flesh on his arms.
The thing grunted when it hit the ground, but quickly picked itself back up. It surprised Enosh a good deal by not charging right back into the battle.
He almost wished that it had. He could feel the burning poison still spreading through his body. His legs, especially the one the creature had bitten, would barely move as it was. If the poison worked for too much longer, fighting would be completely out of the question.
Struggling forward on his failing legs, the Goblin tried to get his hands around the little raptor's neck, but the dratted little animal hopped backwards, staying just out of reach.
Finally, Enosh's legs gave out completely. He collapsed, barely able to catch himself with his arms, but then it became a moot point. The little raptor was now on his back.
“Amazing!” Methuselah breathed. “It's barely more than a battle-raptor! How did it manage to take him down?”
The gene-mage at his side merely smirked. “A battle-raptor? Hardly. He's not two summers old, and nearly ready for the front lines. You saw how he broke the Goblin's back? His claws won't be useful until he's grown a bit more, but he's already a back-breaker. He probably won't last that long on the front lines, though. When we gave him the spike tail's tail, we didn't meant for him to also get their back plates. They're a vulnerability in battle, but at least we got your Goblin, right?”
The creature a far future millennium would dub Chimerus the Regisaurus had claimed his first kill, a Goblin from his own country.
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