~So, I have been pinging back and forth in my original writing, between dystopian style science-fiction or high-a-little-dark fantasy. Last year, I think, I posted a small section of a fantasy book I'm working on. Currently, I've been pulled back into writing real hard
, and I have spent many hours pouring over backstory and research for my new fantasy realms. I have a world written out on paper, the only thing it really needs now is a map.
But I digress about that, because today, I thought I'd share some science fiction I've been working with the community. In years long past, I used to call this Eclipse: Crystalline Ocean
, back when I was blending in some fantasy elements into it. But as time passed, I realized that I kind of wanted to write something more realistic for this book. I know I call it science fiction, but really technically not. It's more kind of modern technology with a few twists, and takes place on another planet(hence, science fiction).
You know, it's a little weird, when you write something across two different genres, but you're pulling inspiration from one project while you're forging another. I think one can still find a hint of fantasy in this, which maybe more discernible if I end up posting more of this. Anyway, here you go, hopefully this will inspire others to write their own stories!
A chill breath of winter gusted through the forest of the Ludranna Basin. Aitan shivered in his cold manhole, created from a stray artillery round that had nearly thrown him the shadows of the wood. A rolling thunder near enough to make his teeth rattle passed over the forest again. The screams of the dying faded beneath the chattering of weapons firing and swords clashing amidst a cacophony of battle cries. Over his head, flames rose into the night sky from the burning wrecks of vehicles. Or was it just the forest engulfed in an inferno?
A light snowfall began to drift down from the skies. Aitan felt the frozen liquid melt in his short raven curls. Strands of silver light from the moon washed his russet skin and glinted off of the silver scales of his armor. Large, bright hazel eyes peered from a chiseled, youthful face, blemished by a scar that ran over his thin-bridge-of-a-nose and toward the bottom corner of his right cheek. Black freckles marked his high cheek bones like an inky tattoo and stopped short of a pursed mouth.
“Holy hell…” Aitan winced from the impact of another exploding shell in the ground.
Morning could not come soon enough.
A chorus of battle cries echoed from the dark and then faded out into the distance. Aitan’s hand snaked down to the holster that held his fifty-caliber pistol, Eclipse. The weapon was already pointed over his head when a shadow eclipsed his man-hole.
“Aitan?” A familiar voice pierced the cacophony of battle. “You’re not going to win the war cowering down there, you know?”
Aitan looked up into the downcast gaze of a woman garbed for conflict. Alpha Reiko Endo was dressed in a black hakama, embroidered with golden stitching that ran down her hips and ended at the sole of her boots. A scaled ballistic vest and limb guards were pulled over her ebony robes. Cradled in her hand was a heavy iron-looking helmet with two curved slits carved into the material where the eyes should be.
Reiko was a lithe figure in the darkness, her high cheekbones and sallow skin crossed with healed over scars and some fresh ones. Her hair was pulled into long and tight ponytail which fell over her shoulder.
Aitan could never get over Reiko’s ebony eyes, which bore into him with a cold calculation that must have considered whether she should put him down for cowardice or simply leave him behind.
“Why am I in this shit again?” Aitan indicated his manhole with a gesture. “Face it, Reiko, we’re fucked up our asses fighting this god-damned war.”
“Does not matter what you want, Aitan.” Reiko made a cruel smile at him, as if she enjoyed watching him squirm. “Does not matter what I want either. Don’t you think it’s a little late to be having second thoughts? Now am I going to have to drag you out of your hole and use you as a meat shield or are you going to come out willingly?”
Curse his luck, Aitan thought as he threw his weapons over the lip of the manhole and climbed out. Reiko still knelt beside the manhole and reminded Aitan that he was on a battlefield. As he knelt down beside her, she nodded once in satisfaction and equipped her helmet.
Aitan pulled his own helmet off of his belt and lowered it onto his shoulders. He snatched Eclipse and an old iron tanto from the white-sprinkled ground and took in his surroundings. Everything was worse than he suspected.
A maze of demolished evergreens and smoking craters littered the snow-covered ground for nearly a mile. Aitan tried and failed to ignore the remains of hundreds of once-living soldiers scattered around the battlefield. Nearby, surviving soldiers from both the Vermillion Dawn’s Inception and the Wardens charged into each other with razor-sharp tantos and short-sword wakizashis.
In the distance, brilliant flashes of light erupted from the staccato burst of distant machine guns.
All he had to do was make it through the night. Then the evacuation would begin.
“Akiro, take point!” Reiko waved one of the ten soldiers behind them to the front. “Okin and Airi, you have rearguard. Keep together and keep an eye over your comrade’s shoulder. Dawn is rising.”
“Dawn is rising!” Aitan’s squad murmured in unison.
Reiko touched Akiro’s shoulder when he came to the front and the advance began. “We’re sitting ducks out here, make for the cover of the forest.”
Bright burst from gunfire rippled through the woods at their approach. Before Aitan could react, several bullets impacted into the Akiro’s armor as Reiko steered him in front of her. The rebel shook from the force of the impact, but kept his footing enough to fire off several rounds into the woods.
“Fan out!” Reiko bellowed over the chaos. She snatched Aitan by the arm and threw him toward the west. “Aitan, Isamu, and Kaito, flank them from the west! We’ll hold them down here and advance once you have them on the backfoot!”
Reiko and the others quickly went prone and returned fire into the forest. Aitan ducked beneath a burst of fire meant for his head, and then suddenly felt himself being dragged along the ground by headlock.
“What the hell?” Aitan cried. “Get off of me! You fucking oaf!”
Isamu bristled with smug laughter and broke his headlock on Aitan, who flapped onto the ground. Isamu. The name meant “brave” in Irothan. As Aitan found his feet and looked at Isamu’s retreating back, how his impossibly bulky armor shrugged off heavy machine gun shells without so much as a scar. How Isamu’s mini-gun chattered into the forest as he moved as quickly as he could, Aitan knew the name was an accurate summary of the giant before him.
Kaito waved Aitan to follow, using Isamu as living cover as they advanced through the labyrinth of ruin. Aitan pounced forward and followed them into the darkness of the forest. Isamu’s mini-gun had ceased for the moment, his heavy ballistic armor almost pitch back beneath the shade of evergreens save for several strands of moonlight. Kaito hunkered down behind a fallen trunk, looked toward Aitan, and indicated that both of them duck beneath the collapsed tree onto the other side.
Isamu nodded and proceeded to make his way around the cover.
Aitan realized that Kaito was trying to shake the eyes of the enemy off of their position, as he crawled into a puddle of dirty water and emerged into the forest proper. Lush grass that came up to the waist shrouded Aitan and Kaito as they emerged beneath the hanging leaves of the forest canopy.
“Shh…” Kaito raised a finger to his helmet. “Aitan, go left, around that stream over there.”
“What?” Aitan fought the urge to duck at the sound of more gunfire. He whispered. “What stream? God damn, it’s pitch black in here.”
“Your ears.” Kaito sighed. “Use them. Follow the stream and see if you can scare one or two of those Wardens. Isamu will draw their attention away from you. Once you’re engaged, I’ll swoop in for the kill. You ready?”
“Yeah,” Aitan shrugged. “I’ll go. Ready when you are.”
Without even the slightest affirmation, Isamu emerged from a small thicket painted in moonlight, some meters away. The mini-gun in his hands unleashed a torrent of fire and judging from the screams that followed, chewed through one or two of the Wardens. As return fire shattered the silence, Aitan whirled around on his heel and vanished further into the gloom of the wood.
Use your ears… I can barely hear a damned thing.
Aitan foraged through a hidden path or what seemed like one in all of this gloom and darkness. He stumbled forward, snapping fallen branches in twain and grinding roots back into the earth. The sound of snow-laden grass crunching beneath his boot was the only familiar noise on this hellish battlefield. And thus the splashing sounds they made some minutes later and the creeping cold that seeped up his legs came as a surprise.
Follow the stream… flank bastards and kill them. Sounds simple enough.
Aitan hovered eclipse over his face as he wound his way through the forest path, ready for a quick kill should anyone ambush him from the shadows. Now that he had found it, the winding stream’s churning waters echoed in his ears. Loud enough that he wondered how he had not heard it before.
He had nearly missed the sudden rustle in the underbrush.
Aitan threw himself to the right of the path, behind a tilted tree and opened fire on the disturbed spot in the woods. Eclipse thundered in his hand once, the force pushed his arm upward and caused it to nearly crack Aitan in the nose. A shadow detached from the darkness, barely visible in this light, and strafed left. Bright golden bolts flashed the shadow’s weapon and cut into the underbrush.
Aitan realized that he was about to become flanked and exposed. He leaned from his cover and tracked his target with a pair of leading shots. The first went wide and missed the mark, but the second managed to graze the Warden’s shoulder. The impact sent the Warden into a spin, but he rolled with the momentum back into the shade of the evergreens.
thundered as Aitan darted to one side, eager to gain some distance between him and his assailant. The incessant chatter of an assault rifle followed him and Aitan felt two stinging hits into his back. He stumbled, fell to his knees, and sucked in a long breath. His ballistic vest had absorbed the brunt of the damage.
The distinct sound of a blade being slid free of its scabbard rang out in the dark. Aitan turned round to reveal the Warden charging toward him, a steel tanto in hand. As he came charging, flickers of moonlight caught the Warden’s ebony robes and bronze scales of his armor. Emblazoned on his chest was a crimson wolf’s head, crossed from behind with two steel swords and circled by an iron ring.
Aitan cursed again, and knew he had not reloaded for the entire fight. He holstered eclipse
and drew his own tanto, a curved dagger, and somewhat reminiscent of a much larger katana.
Aitan rolled before his opponent could close the distance between them completely, and sprang to his feet in one momentous thrust. His foe feinted to the right, but curved around the blade at the last minute to deliver a heavy kick to Aitan’s knee. Aitan cried out as his enemy’s tanto slashed him along the back of his arm.
Aitan half-sprang, half-whirled around into a quick swing that forced his opponent to lean away. As the Warden came back to his original stance, a gauntleted fist to the throat made him stumble backward. Aitan reversed his strike into another punch, but his opponent ducked beneath the blow and brought his blade down to stab him again.
Aitan jumped forward and planted his knee in the Warden’s gut, the tanto in the Warden’s hand wedged in Aitan’s shoulder guard. He smacked down his elbow his foe’s throat and sent him clattering to the ground. Aitan considered what he was about to do for one moment. He grimaced, then rammed his dagger through the skin beneath the warden’s chin and buried it to the hilt.
“Sorry about that.” Aitan gasped over the choked gargling his victim made. He finally slid the blade free as his foe became and placed it back into the sheathe. The tanto lodged in his shoulder came away with faint traces of blood and a grunt of discomfort.
With a brief gesture, Eclipse
ejected an empty magazine and received a fresh one in its place.
Gunfire echoed into the night nearby, deafening in its near-proximity. The whining discharge of Isamu’s minigun intermingled with slugs impacting into evergreens. Aitan picked himself up from where he loomed over a corpse. Without much thought, a dreadful sense of caution made him tread lightly across the stream. He waded into the knee-deep waters, Eclipse held over his head.
As a freezing chill seized him by the calves, abrupt battle cries ripped through the air before him. Underbrush rattled in the darkness and spewed forth a pair of wardens armed with glimmering steel wakizashis. By the way they charged down the narrow bank and into the stream, Aitan knew the element of surprise was lost.
Frothing water splashed around him as the wardens waded into the stream. Aitan shifted onto his left foot and ran further downstream to gain distance. Pistol fire thundered from behind him, each discharge narrowly missed him by mere centimeters. Aitan glanced over his shoulder and twisted around to bring eclipse to bear. A shot impacted against his thigh in the same moment, blood spurted, and Aitan staggered.
He stared down the iron sights and eclipse thundered several rounds into the midst of his pursuers. Still carried by his momentum, most of his shots went wide of the shadowy outlines following him. A grunt of pain echoed through clenched teeth and one of his assailants staggered onto their knees.
Aitan paused in his flight, his finger squeezing eclipse’s trigger one more time. The weapon clicked once, but without the thunderous report. Empty. He could either keep stumbling away and get shot in the back or goad his enemies into fighting in close-quarters.
Right… I’m probably going to die, might as well do it face-to-face.
The sound of boots churning through the stream and an enraged cry on the wind greeted Aitan as one of the wardens closed the distance. Sparks erupted from the clash of two blades. Aitan whirled around a quick counter-thrust aimed for his heart. He made a neat cut across his foe’s arm from elbow to shoulder blade, but his foe fought through the pain and made an uppercut with his elbow.
The heavy iron helm on Aitan’s shoulders rattled from the strength of the attack. The warden danced away from an arced swing, blocked a reckless fist from smashing his throat, and managed to throw Aitan over his shoulder.
Aitan fought the urge to gasp for air as he plummeted into the freezing waters. The deep cold sunk into every crevice of his armor and stabbed into his skin. He fought to regain his feet, but an iron-grip on his shoulder kept him submerged. Seconds passed, but every moment felt longer than he could bear.
A soft noise reminiscent of rolling thunder echoed above the surface. Aitan blinked and the iron-grip holding him down suddenly slackened. His feet grazed the mud-streaked stream floor and he pushed himself up toward the surface. Tranquil waters parted before his emergence. He sucked in a long breath and stood erect once again. He was soaked from head-to-toe, but somehow, he realized when looking over the bullet-ridden corpse sinking into the water, he was alive.
“No need to thank me!” Reiko’s shouted from the further down the stream. “I thought something was amiss when I noticed you were missing.”
“A little early for that, don’t you think?” Aitan arched his brow and tried to ignore his rattling teeth. He waded across the stream and emerged beside his superior. “I could still freeze to death you know. Or bleed out for good measure.”
Reiko shrugged with a smug grin. “Fine. We need you in fighting condition, and you’re far from it at the moment. I’ll have a medic send you back to Siren Glade. You served your purpose for the moment.” Reiko snapped off a crisp salute. “You honor me with your service, volunteer.”
“Hah.” Aitan scoffed. “Thank the conscription for my service.”
Reiko chuckled humorlessly. “You made the choice to serve, rather than dying. I think that is worth some small measure of acknowledgement. Come on, I’ll have Kaito call in a medic for you.”