Chapter 77: All Aboard

Ice cold pain lanced through her arm like a lightning bolt. Leliana gave a light chuckle, after she stopped screaming, inspecting the small metal bar she’d just driven through her left arm. “See, nothing to it.”

Atreides winced while Vea stared open-mouthed. “You…”

“It’s the only thing that’s stopped me from attacking every time.” She explained. “Nobody in their right mind would assault an enemy base with that kind of liability behind them.”

Atreides nodded.

“I still wish someone would’ve mentioned the suicide part of the mission before I came along.” Karina said. “I could’ve saved them the trouble and just jumped when Teena fired the rockets earlier.”

Leliana smiled apologetically. The cargo hold lay in shambles, a testament to how difficult it had been to wrest the mind-control from the Sha. “I’d probably have skipped out too, if I knew…” She waived at the room. “But it’s useful to have an inside view on the enemy’s thoughts, right?”

“Alright you kids! One big, blue spire, dead ahead!” Teena’s voice floated down the stairs, dragging everyone back to the main deck.

“And you’re sure you’re not going to stab anyone in the back with this thing?” Karina gingerly held the Sha sword Leliana had used against them earlier.

“Nope, but it’s our best shot.”

Karina sighed. “So what’s the plan? Shoot the glass and then plow through it?”

“It’s crystal, and yes.” I hope.

Leliana and the monks lugged the heavy cannons all to the front of the ship, facing forward. The huge vessel’s shields dampened almost all sound, though they all felt the vibrations of the shield just a few meters away as the others continued the assault from the outside. The bronze amplifiers hummed increasingly more loudly as they drew closer to the action.

The citadel was dead ahead. A laughably gigantic, thin pyramid of transparent blue crystal stood tall even among the other structures. An overwhelmingly vast presence kept scraping at the edges of her mind, faster and faster as they drew nearer the citadel. She felt her heart drumming a war song in her ears and kept up the pain in her left hand to maintain control. Hopefully the wrapping kept her from losing too much blood before she passed out.

“Alright lads and lasses, prep the guns and grab your asses!” Bristol’s booming laughter hit like a thunderclap.

The ship bore down on the citadel with ten loaded cannons ready to go. She’d aimed Teena where she felt the most activity near the top. Leliana stuffed her head inside a thick, soundproof helmet they found stashed in the hold. It looked stupid, and she wouldn’t have wore it if nobody else had. At least she wouldn’t go deaf with all these cannons clustered in one place.

“READY!”

Scat and slag, how was he so damned loud even through the helmet?

“FIRE!”

Sulfur stuck to their throats as all ten cannons blasted the citadel. Everyone whirled to action, reloading without waiting to see where the first shots landed. Their schedule included two shots each, and then run like hell into the makeshift padded room downstairs.

Ten cannons fired in tandem again. Leliana’s bones felt like they’d separated in the middle of the concussive shots, but she held together as she fled.

“WOOOOOOOOO”

Blanketed in half a ton of padding and separated by a flight deck, they still knew when the moment arrived by Teena’s insane war cry. Then the world imploded on itself, throwing them around like rag dolls.

Leliana’s stomach tried to escape her throat as she experienced a moment of weightlessness, the ship bucking and shattering as it impaled the blue crystal pyramid. She bounced off the ceiling with her left hand, then skidded to a stop in the remnants of the front of the ship moments later.

“Nek mah a’le!” New minds? Take them!

Leliana grit her teeth, bearing down on the rod in her left arm. Then she was on her feet, Sha blade singing its way through its former masters. She felt a deep sense of satisfaction as she dropped the two men that had approached so callously, separating heads from bodies. The others fell into a bizarre formation without a second thought.

They swarmed like a school of fish, there must have been at least fifty of them charging in unison.

The world faded away as Leliana clawed through the enemy ranks. Always another twist or dodge or parry. The Sha fought like devils and none of them were pushovers after the first two. Leliana found herself backed into corners more than once, channeling her training with Vea, leaping meters into the air before kicking off against the walls. She buzzed by Vea and prot more than once, taking potshots at their opponents on her way to another.

Leliana smiled. She moved by instinct, always trusting her gut for the next move. Always slipping away before they had a numbers advantage in any one spot. She knew where they were going to be before they got there. And she used that knowledge.

An eternity she danced. When she couldn’t hold onto the blade any longer, she tied it to her hand. And when her legs threatened to give out, she just danced harder. Fatigue crept in like a poison. No, no not yet, not now. Her vision blurred.

She slipped.

Leliana hadn’t even hit the ground by the time she was covered in angry blue men, beating her with fists and feet and clubs. She caught a glimpse of her friends as she curled to protect her head and core. They were beaten, and now, so was she.

She counted through a swollen eye as they picked her up and bound her limbs. Ha. Nearly a score of the bastards lie on the floor unmoving.

“Hok. Asae hon ame dakt Orus. Keiru.” Enough. Their sins are too great to join the harmony. To the sacrifice!


_____________________________________________


The silence was deafening.

Teena peeked her head out from the driver’s den, then ducked back inside.

It seemed empty?

Those blue things were so creepy. She definitely didn’t want to meet one face to face. Besides, technological prowess was a scarcity in the modern world and civilization could ill-afford her demise, after all.

She picked up the satchel with the four amps she’d wrapped and tiptoed through the empty chamber, careful not to slip in the, quite frankly, horrific quantities of blood. She’d packed the bag to muffle the noise, but you can never be too careful,” she quoted Karina. She just had to channel her sister long enough to free the feisty rogue and then she could hand this whole affair over to her and get back to what she knew best.

Teena cleared the wreckage and started for the exit, making a beeline straight to the colossal wall of instruments.

Whoa, this thing was massive. There was a ring of monitors rimming the panels like sunbeams. Weird, loopy runes illuminated the sides. Judging by their proximity to the monitors and other instrument panels…

“Woops, distracted!”

Teena reigned in her curiosity and crept like a spy into the wider ship.

Author: keyboardcouple

A couple who write and learn in front of their keyboards.

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