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Mahri ChristmasHi all! Have some cracky Christmas comedy. This is another one of those weird beasts that could have been labelled a short story or a comedy, but I figure it will appeal more to the sort of mind that hangs out in the comedy forum rather than those who like the more serious stuff. So here it is- a story of drunk Toa, very angry Christmas tree decorations, and the perils of falling in love with giant robots. Enjoy and have a great holiday, everyone! Mahri Christmas “Kiina!” yelled Ackar from the other side of the town centre courtyard. “Got another three over here!” Kiina groaned, and squinted in the early morning light. The streets were quiet now, but they would soon be abuzz with shoppers of many different species busy buying gifts and food. A massive conifer had been erected in the square yesterday, and a few of the shops had brightly coloured decorations in the windows. Gresh had been particularly mesmerised by the whole thing. Decorations like these hadn’t been put up since the Shattering, and his own memories of the holiday were faint (Kiina had to feel for the poor guy- very few things could mess up your childhood like a planet getting blown up). But Kiina herself had more important things to worry about at that moment, so she barely looked at the festive decorations. If she had, she might have noticed the unusually large and rather unhappy-looking ornament at the top of the tree. “Better not be more Skakdi,” she muttered, trudging towards Ackar and the three horizontal figures at his feet. During the past week alone, Kiina had dealt with over a dozen blind-drunk Matoran (at the same time), and one drunk Skakdi, and there was no question about which was worse. Matoran were easily subdued- take off their masks and they fell asleep almost instantly. She and Ackar had found out where they lived, piled them into their vehicles and dropped them all off at their homes, enlisting some helpful neighbours to watch over them while they recovered. Some of the Kanohi might have been accidentally swapped around in the process (Kiina hadn’t realised they lost colour when removed, which made matching them to their owners more difficult), but it was a small price to pay for getting home safely, she reasoned. Kiina had expected the Skakdi to be a challenge, but she hadn’t been at all prepared for that unique experience. Skakdi, as it turned out, became extremely chatty and affectionate when intoxicated. Also very clingy and quite hard to get rid of. She’d got him back to his house, eventually, put him to bed, and started on her way home, only to find him shuffling towards her five minutes later, singing a well-intentioned but slightly inappropriate song about his new best friend, the “nice blue lady”. Luckily for Kiina, they hadn’t been too far from Ackar’s place at the time. Long story short, Ackar had helped get Kiina’s new friend back where he belonged and ensured that he stayed there. There may have been a lullaby involved. And possibly the teeniest, tiniest little bit of bludgeoning somebody over the head with a blunt object. Heck, to a Skakdi, that practically is a lullaby. I don’t know why I bother sometimes, thought Kiina. No, scratch that. She knew exactly why she bothered. Well, one of the reasons, anyway. The main reason, even. Maybe if she hadn’t met Mata Nui personally, hadn’t fought alongside him, hadn’t sat up late around a campfire listening to stories of other worlds… …Hadn’t gone and fallen in love with the strange man who fell out of the sky in a magic mask and was actually a humongous planet-fixing robot-god, basically… …Well, she supposed she would still want to help the newcomers settle in. She’d always had a reasonably functional sense of justice and fairness and empathy and all those other things that life after the Shattering tried to iron out of you, but the things she’d found herself doing lately continued to surprise her. The Kiina that she’d been just a few short years ago wouldn’t bother helping a drunk Skakdi… She reached into her satchel, and her fingers found the shape of a small metal tube. A cheerful chirping sound echoed from the tube as Kiina tickled the little purple insect that hid in there. Kiina did not regret falling in love with Mata Nui. Even though it hurt. Even though she didn’t understand exactly why he chose to retreat back into the mask and leave everyone. Even if she never really knew what she actually meant to him. She did not regret one single second of the time she’d spent with him… …Although, sometimes she did sort of wish that he hadn’t left her to play nanny to his several thousand oversized mechanical children. Many of whom were just discovering the concept of alcohol. Today’s culprits, as it turns out, were three Toa, which was still hopefully a bit easier than one Skakdi. Kiina had met them only briefly before, but she’d got chatting to Toa Hahli often enough to know a bit about them. “Toa Mahri,” she told Ackar. “That one’s…that’s Kongu,” she said, pointing at the green one with the beard-like mask. “And the other two?” asked Ackar. “Hewkii and… Nuparu, I think it was…” She’d heard the names often enough, and knew that one was Earth and the other Stone, but couldn’t quite recall which was which. “I don’t know where they live, but I could go find Hahli…” Kongu was beginning to stir. He rolled onto his side, revealing a mass of what looked like orange, mechanical feathers stuck to his torso. He winced as he moved, and Kiina noticed what looked like bruising of some of the organic tissue on his arms and legs. “What happened to you?” asked Ackar. “Too much happy-juice,” he babbled, waving his hand around vaguely. “Decided to take joy-fly on Gukko-back. Forgot about Toa-size. Gukko quick-buck, Kongu deep-fall. Hewkii tried to make feather-light, came out rock-weight, Kongu went ouch-splat.” He winced and slumped his head back down to the ground. “Hurts to live-exist…” he whimpered. Ackar turned to look at Kiina. “Did you understand any of that?” Kiina shrugged. “Think I got the general gist of it. He fell off… something, and hit harder than he should have because his friend was drunk and couldn’t use his gravity powers properly.” “Right…” said Ackar, “I think we might have more luck with the others.” He gestured towards the one with the mask that looked like a weird sea creature, who was beginning to stir. “Try Fishface over here,” Kiina crouched down beside the heavy-set Toa. The Toa squinted blearily up at her. He looked like all of his wildest dreams had suddenly come true. “Macku,” he mumbled excitedly, “You’re a Toa…” “Wrong on both counts, I’m afraid,” said Kiina gently. “Name’s Kiina. I think we might have met before?” “Hyuuuh-(hic)-kii” came the slurred reply. So this was Hewkii, then… or what was left of him, after whatever shenanigans took place last night. There was a small piece of tinsel caught in the corner of his mask. It was at this point that Kiina also noticed the pink party hat atop the sleeping Toa Nuparu’s head. “So, you three were at a party last night?” she asked Hewkii. Hewkii frowned and shrugged. The details, apparently, eluded him. She plucked the tinsel from his mask and dangled it in front of him. “Ring any bells?” she asked him. “Yeeeeah…” he said, a demented smile creeping across his face. “Yeah?” “Bells.” There was a note of pride in his voice. “We rang ALL of the bells…” Right on cue, Toa Nuparu sat bolt upright and launched into a loud, mangled version of “Jingle Bells”. In his hand, he had a small set of tinkling bells, and he seemed determined to get as much noise out of them as possible. Ackar very gently hushed him and confiscated the toy. There was a sound like a muffled shout, seemingly from the other side of the courtyard. Kiina glanced around and saw nobody, and figured it must be a few streets away. She turned her attention back to Hewkii. Ackar, meanwhile, looked a bit more closely for the source of the noise. “Uh, Kiina…” he said after a moment. “Mmhm?” “Your eyesight’s better than mine. Tell me, is it just me… or is that angel moving?” “Angel?” Kiina looked up at the top of the tree. She hadn’t even noticed that someone had already put an angel up there. She was quite a shabby-looking angel, to be honest. Her dress looked like it was made from coloured giftwrap, held in place with several layers or red ribbon tied around and around her body, even around most of her head. She had no hair, no visible arms, and nothing clearly resembling a face. Her wings seemed to consist mostly of cooking foil and tinsel. She looked like something a young Agori child might proudly bring home from kindergarten. Only much bigger. And much, much angrier. For the angel was indeed moving. Thrashing, in fact, kicking her legs around, wings flapping wildly. She was secured to the top of the tree by strong rope, and was battling to get free. The conifer was beginning to sway dangerously. Kiina and Ackar scrambled to get out of the tree’s potential falling radius. Kiina vaguely recalled hearing bedtime stories as a little girl about a tree-angel that would come to life, fly down from her perch and grant wishes for people, or take good little children on magical adventures. But the scene unfolding before her looked more like something out of a campfire horror story. She supposed that after all the strange things she’d encountered recently, psychotic animate tree ornaments didn’t seem all that farfetched. But Ackar, as usual, had a more reasonable explanation. “Is that a Toa in there?” His question was answered when one of the angel’s wings was ripped open, revealing a wicked-looking silver fin underneath. “Hahli?!” cried Kiina. But there was no time for questions. “Hahli! Listen! You have to stop struggling or you’ll bring the whole tree down on us!” The thrashing stopped. “’-iina?” came the muffled reply. “Whurram I?” “Do you think she’s drunk, too?” whispered Ackar. “Possibly…” said Kiina. Hahli didn’t seem like the type to drink that much, but Kiina knew she had an adventurous streak. Besides, that Hewkii guy had “Charismatic Bad Influence” written all over him. And she was fairly certain Hahli wouldn’t allow herself to be wrapped up and tied to a tree if she herself had been completely sober. “You’re tied to the top of a tree in the town centre, “ Ackar told the Toa of Water. “We can get you down, I’ll just get Kiina to- Kiina?” But Kiina had marched back over to Hahli’s three brothers, where were all slumped back down on the ground. Right, she thought. No more “Nice Blue Lady”. “Hey!” she yelled. No response. She summoned a sphere of water and dropped it on Hewkii’s head. “Hey! You!” The Toa of Stone gave a yelp and rolled over sideways, staring up at Kiina with wild eyes. Kiina pointed to the tree-bound Toa of Water. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about this, would you?” Confusion crossed Hewkii’s face, followed by recognition, and then silent dread. “Maybe…” he managed “ And what made you think that was a good idea?” Hewkii looked sheepish. “We were just trying to do the thing,” he said sulkily. “The thing?” “Yeah. You know, the thing-thing.” “Like in the song-carol,” added Kongu, who was still too sore to move. “Which song?” asked Kiina. She lowered her voice so as not to rouse Nuparu. “…'Jingle bells’…?” she whispered. “Nah, the other one. You know, ‘Deck the halls with bales of… of…’” he frowned. “That song don’t make sense,” he muttered, just as Nuparu joined in with an off-key “FalalalaLAAA” Kiina sighed. She could see where the misunderstanding had happened, but that really wasn’t a good enough excuse to justify doing that to the Toa of Water. “Holly,” she snapped . “Nah, nah. ‘m Hewkii. Hahli’s the blue one with the big…” Hewkii raised his hands above his shoulders and made a flapping motion. “…thingies” “I said ‘holly’. The song says ‘bales of holly’. It’s a type of plant. Agori used to decorate their houses with it in winter. ” “Ohhhhh…” said Hewkii, then paused. “Why would they do that?” “I like our version better,” said Nuparu, admiring his drunken handiwork from afar. “Very nice-pretty,” said Kongu, oblivious to just how much more pain he would be in once Hahli got down. Kiina sighed again. There was no point trying to reason with them in this state. The best she could really do would be to rescue Hahli from her festive cocoon, and try to prevent her from beating her brothers up too badly afterwards. She could walk them all home later… if anyone was in fit condition to walk, that is. “I’ll get the ladder,” she called to Ackar as she left for home. Her place was quite close by, just a quick shortcut through this alleyway, and- “Heeeeeey, it’s her! Hey, blue lady, remember me?” Kiina’s heart sank as she turned to see the familiar red eyes and toothy smile. “Hey, boys! Come meet my friend!” “Hey, toots!” “Heeeeeeeeey,,,,” “Aw, look at her little squishy face… Can we keep her?” “Wanna see my collection of Vortixx heads?” Kiina groaned inwardly but tried to manage a polite smile as the four intoxicated Skakdi approached her. It was going to be another one of those days.
Ackar: The Fiery Legend - Ackar Revamp
joev14 posted a topic in Bionicle-Based CreationsWhew. Well. It's been quite a long time now, hasn't it? But hey! You guys are used to waiting, right? *Joev awkwardly laughs as everyone just stares* But seriously. You may recognize me for my previous Rahi revamps, from way back in January/February. As some of you may recall, I mentioned having seven MOCs build and ready to post (I only posted three back in February). And that was very true. However, when I went to take the pictures and found that my camera was in fact, broken. Yay... Well, now that I've gotten it fixed, I am once again able to show you guys these MOCs! So, here's my next set of revamps, the four main Glatorian from 2009! First up, is Ackar: The Fiery Legend Front (I accidentally overwrote the enlarged version of this one without making a backup >_<) Back Comparison Action Pose Since I've made you guys wait so long, I'll be posting Gresh this weekend, followed by Kiina sometime this next week. Lastly, I'll finish off with the prize of the collection, Mata Nui, sometime next weekend. Stick around and enjoy, I promise you won't be disappointed!
Ackar: the Master of Fire (not BBC69)
The 1st Shadow posted a topic in Bionicle-Based CreationsSo, I was uncertain about my entry for the BBC, but after some critique from my fellows, I went with the larger, far more impressive (and more finalized) Takanuva, Master of Light and Shadow. Still that left me with a mostly-finished revamp of Ackar... Naturally, I fixed him up and figured I'd best share him with you guys. The inspiration for this MOC was actually the shins. Ever since we got those wide shield/claw/armor things during Savage Planet, I'd been waiting to see a MOC that used those to represent the ankle-guards seen in the Glatorian Legends sets. Sadly, I've not seen anything of the sort, so I went for it. I quite like how it turned out. Oh, right . I should probably show you, eh? Front Pose Back With Rocka Yes, I did just give him Tahu's gearbox configuration. There's only so many ways you can do that, so I chose to focus more on getting his look right. After all, I felt the gearbox needed no improvement. Comments? Criticism? Cheesecake?
TNTOS posted a blog entry in blogs_blog_1200As of today, I have officially been a member of BZP for eight years. Eight years of fanfiction, watching BZP drama from the sidelines (and occasionally participating whenever the stupid struck me), blogging, geeking out over colorful LEGO action figures, entering contests, making friends, not making enemies (hopefully), and having a ton of fun all the while. Here's to eight more years of BZP and Bionicle fun!* *And drama. Can't forget the drama. -TNTOS-
Ackar: The Legend
joev14 posted a topic in Bionicle-Based CreationsSo, I whipped this model up about two months ago, and have slowly been adding things to it over time, and I now feel as though it's ready to be displayed. Wudda y'all think? Front Back Close Up of Head Hopefully I'll have some better photos up in a while, my camera battery is dying. The back-view shot turned out pretty well though.
The Shadow Proves the Sunshine
Grantaire posted a topic in Short StoriesThe Shadow Proves the Sunshine -x-x-x- Sunshine, won't you be my motherSunshine, come and help me singMy heart is darker than these oceansMy heart is frozen underneath The sun looked down upon the desert, and the desert huddled beneath its gaze. Its gaze was merciless, the white armored figure felt as he trudged beneath it. It was not benevolent: even the occasional sun-worshiping fool saw it as a demon, not a savior. No one in the desert would hold such an absurd notion. Year upon year and century after century it had blazed down, and Gelu had never found it a friend even in the beginning. Millennium upon millennium had blown over the Glatorian, leaving him even more quiet and somber than in his youth. But as he journeyed, his spirits felt at an all time low. It was Exsidian again; that precious metal used far and wide by Glatorian to harden their weaponry and armor, and more coveted than water it seemed sometimes. The tale was that Vulcanus claimed that Iconox had paid a guide to lead a caravan containing Exsidian for Vulcanus right into the hands of the Skrall—neither the driver, guide or guards had ever been seen again, not to mention the metal. Despite the childishness of the accusation the village leader Herzus had been unable to dissuade them, and so the matter was taken to the arena. Iconox did not have good fortune in the arena, especially with their first Glatorian down with a heavy injury to the leg: no Glatorian worth his salt would give up a fight due to an injury unless it was crippling. But with Strakk as First Glatorian, things weren’t so rigid. Gelu could never tell if he was really unable to fight or just looking for a relaxing break from the arena. I would have challenged him long ago for his place, Gelu thought fiercely. But I am not a match for him in skill, and I don’t care for his position myself. Vulcanus evidently did not share Gelu’s apathy about the coming fight—it was not the brutal yet vulnerable Malum that he would be facing but Ackar, the oldest Glatorian on the field and one of the most feared. Aside from the Skrall of course. Victory and defeat weren’t the things that bogged down Gelu’s mind though. It was the whole pointlessness of the deal that weighed down his heart. He knew Ackar very well: he had talked with him, even trained with him for the National Tournament once or twice. The Fire Glatorian was a noble being whom he would have yielded to out of sheer respect in a real fight. But the arena was not real fighting at all. In the arena all you were was the pride and arrogance of whatever village you came from. That was not living, let alone warring. We are crooked souls trying to stay up straight,Dry eyes in the pouring rainThe shadow proves the sunshineThe shadow proves the sunshine The dark rocks of Vulcanus were stark against the brilliant afternoon sky. Many said that the village was almost as disparaging as Roxtus, and Gelu had to agree that there were striking similarities, even though he normally preferred Vulcanus. But as he approached the Fire village he wondered whether he’d rather be in the dreaded city of the Skrall. This wasn’t the first time he had gotten cold feet and this wasn’t the first outrageous dispute he had taken arms to settle. But as he reined his Sand Stalker in he felt like it would be his worst. The inn where he was staying was cooler than the outdoors, but not by much, and Gelu wished he could take off at least some of his armor: but no Glatorian made themselves vulnerable outside of home. It was an old rule that annoyed Gelu at times like these, but it was a rule that must be followed. He drank deeply from a glass of water the friendly innkeeper handed him, grunting his thanks. He took a seat at an old table, resting his hands on the aged wood. Then he stared dully across at the wall that faced him, mentally and physically tired. The sound of the door opening broke him out of his reverie and he looked up to see a familiar Glatorian in red and orange armor, faded and scarred by the years. His eyebrows shot up a little in surprise. ”Greetings, Gelu,” the weathered Glatorian said warmly. Gelu rose to his feet, surveying the veteran. ”Ackar,” he said, a little surprised but calm. “I did not expect to see you outside of the arena.” The older Glatorian gave a little smile. “I thought I’d be a little better host than that,” he commented. ”What do you think of the issue?” Gelu asked after Ackar had taken a seat. ”’The Glatorian does not concern himself with issues: his duty is to his village and his role is to fight for their honor,’” Ackar quoted flatly. Gelu rolled his eyes. ”You don’t really believe that, do you?” he asked. ”It’s the Glatorian code, Gelu. Don’t you?” ”No,” Gelu answered firmly. “I can’t beat someone to a bloody pulp without knowing why.” Ackar laughed. “Nor can I, but it’s not my place to decide the morality of a claim. If we did that we wouldn’t be here. The arena decides who is right; I just try not to kill anyone in the process.” Two scared little runawaysHold fast to the break of day light, whereThe shadow proves the sunshine ”Sometimes I hate being a Glatorian,” Gelu commented after a while. Ackar shrugged. ”I can’t say many of us enjoy it,” he agreed. “But it’s a job as needed as any other.” Then he smiled. ”A little risky of you, Gelu, confiding your mental state to your opponent before a battle.” Gelu snorted. “I doubt that matters to my fighting,” he said, a little sharply. ”Your emotions don’t get in the way of your fighting? Another handy piece of information about your skills. Anything else?” Gelu observed the senior Glatorian for a moment, unable to tell if he was serious or not. He decided that he probably was and lapsed into silence. As the night drew near Ackar got to his feet. ”Tomorrow, Gelu,” he said affably as he turned to leave. The Glatorian nodded somberly, watching the armored back of the Fire warrior as he exited. Then he stared dully at the last few inches in his cup. The journey had wearied him, but hours of tossing and turning awaited him in this state and he did not relish them. At length he rose and walked slowly away to where a room awaited him. Oh Lord, why did you forsake me?Oh Lord, don't be far away awayStorm clouds gathering beside mePlease Lord, don't look the other way The heartless sun glared down once more upon the morning world. Gelu could not escape it, even indoors. He squinted at the unshuttered window through which the light poured in. It was time to get up. He heaved himself up and began strapping his armor back on. No Glatorian slept completely unarmored: the breastplate was almost required nightwear at the least. Over the thousands of years you got used to the discomfort. That out of the way he got up, stretching. His Ice Slicer leaned against one wall; a double-bladed tool with a foot-long handle connecting the two blades. At one time—perhaps thirty thousand years ago—it had been able to split into two swords, but the mechanism for that had long since ceased to exist. Next to that was his Thornax launcher with a pouch holding three Thornax fruit, the maximum number allowed. He strapped it on hurriedly. With the blade in hand and launcher at his hip he strode out of the room. Crooked souls trying to stay up straightDry eyes in the pouring rainThe shadow proves the sunshineThe shadow proves the sunshine The road to the arena was broad: the arena itself seemed small and insignificant as one approached. Gelu hated the effect and strode swiftly towards his goal. He was alone, not having allowed any Agori to accompany him. The arena was empty save for Raanu the Fire Tribe Leader. As he entered the arena the crowd broke into cheers. They probably liked him a little because of his honorable history in the arena, Gelu supposed, but their cheers were mostly simple courtesy to a Glatorian and a visitor to their village. He stopped before Raanu, waiting. A door to the left moved aside and the red and orange armored form of the village’s First Glatorian was visible. The crowd’s welcome was almost deafening. Ackar stopped next to him and they saluted, touching their weapon-tips to the other’s. Then they turned and walked away from each other as Raanu began his welcome. After about ten yards they stopped, turning ceremoniously to face the Agori. Raanu gave a brief—and remarkably unbiased—sketch of the conflict, and then backed away. When he was almost at an exit from the arena he gave the signal for the beginning of the match: it did not pay to do so while in the line of fire. Two scared little runawaysHold fast to the break of day light wereThe shadow proves the sunshineThe shadow proves the sunshine Neither Glatorian moved for a moment: it was almost tradition for the first step to be a contest in who could draw and fire their launcher the fastest. Ackar feinted a grab to where his launcher hung. As he expected Gelu moved as well, drawing his weapon with uncanny swiftness. Even as he did so the Fire Glatorian leaped to one side, landing in a neat roll that would bring him well out of the way of his opponent’s shot. He had counted without Gelu’s swiftness. Even as he had gone to fire he had seen Ackar’s dodge and waited. Timing it just as the other Glatorian ended his roll he fired. It was a well-placed shot, hitting Ackar in the side and turning his roll into an ungainly sprawl. His well-made cuirass protected him from the brunt of the hardened fruit but he was still winded. Gelu steeled his nerves, charging to take the Fire Warrion unawares. But Ackar too had his own quirks, and a loaded Thornax launcher. As Gelu came closer he gave a half flop half roll, drawing his launcher and bringing it into position. Gelu had barely any time to react, turning his charge into a desperate dive as Ackar fired. The Thornax grazed him, but he landed, scrambling to his feet at the same time as his opponent. Yeah Yeah, shine on meYeah Yeah, shine on meYeah Yeah, shine on meYeah Yeah, shine on me They faced each other for a moment, and Gelu was a little surprised by the calm in his foe’s face: at this point in the fight he was usually tense and concentrated, but Akcar seemed as relaxed as ever. Hurriedly Gelu restored his launcher to its place at his side. It was an old opportunity in any fight, and Ackar took it, bringing his sword down in an overhand cut. Gelu’s arm moved like lightning and the bottom blade deflected the sword off to the side. Then the fight began in earnest. To the onlooker there was little skill and still less sense involved. The blades flashed as they wielded them, sometimes with one hand and sometimes with two. Occasionally a strike would get past their blade: sometimes they would twist, maybe even do a backflip to avoid taking a hit. The fight was painful to Gelu, but not physically. He had lied to Ackar about his ability to overcome emotions: every time his sword got past the senior Glatorian’s guard he winced, hoping insanely that it would not connect. That was no way to win a fight. He increased his attack, raining blows from either blade upon Ackar. It was beginning to tell on the older Glatorian as the onslaught forced him back more and more. But there was more to a duel than this stage, and the audience waited for Ackar’s response. It came rather unexpectedly. The Fire Glatorian knocked an overhand cut of Gelu’s to one side and before the other Glatorian could follow up he dropped down, wrapping one arm around Gelu’s legs and heaving. The Ice Warrior gave a gasp of surprise as he was sent to the ground, rolling over to face his opponent. Ackar had not advanced, instead loading his Thornax launcher and aiming it at the fallen Glatorian. ”Yield, Gelu,” he said, out of breath but otherwise calm. Crooked souls trying to stay up straightDry eyes in the pouring rainThe shadow proves the sunshineThe shadow proves the sunshine The silence was incredibly tense: no Glatorian could be expected to yield, especially not under threat. Gelu lay there, arms tensed. A bluff would definitely not work against the elder Glatorian but what else could he do? The Thornax was aimed at his head: his helmet might save his life, but it would be the end of the match. There was exactly one tactic Gelu could possibly think of, and he used it. He threw himself to his feet and into a desperate backflip. The Thornax slammed into the rock somewhere beneath him and he landed, safe but unarmed save for his empty Thornax launcher which he hurriedly drew and loaded. Ackar moved forward to put himself between Gelu and his blade. The younger Glatorian’s eyes narrows as he analyzed the situation. Ten feet between him and Ackar, five more to his blade. Another crazy move was the last thing Gelu wanted, but there was no other choice: a Glatorian without his weapon was helpless in the arena. Even Skrall could be defeated that way. He raised his launcher, aiming it at Ackar’s chest. At this close quarters dodging would be next to impossible. Without giving the other Glatorian time to formulate a plan he fired. Even as the Thornax was released Ackar moved ducking under the shot and charging. But even as he moved to straighten up Gelu charged, placing both hands on Ackar’s shoulders and leaping, purposefully landing square on the elder Glatorian’s back, sending his cushion to the ground as he ran for his blade. Two scared little runawaysHold fast to the break of day light whereThe shadow proves the sunshineThe shadow proves the sunshine Ackar was slower in rising and Gelu was armed once more by the time the Fire Glatorian was on his feet. The initial enthusiasm of the crowd had faded: so far their favored Glatorian had been put on the defensive: Gelu’s last move hadn’t helped. They faced each other a yard apart, but neither made the first move. They had holstered their launchers: the last shot was not to be wasted. It was that point of the fight that Gelu disliked the most: the initial stage wasn’t too bad, nor was the following melee. But that moment when you faced your opponent after a round or two of dueling, both tired and with little ammo. That was the moment when he just wanted to stop the fight, have a drink and sleep. Twice that inertia had cost him a match. It would not be thrice. There were many reasons why the aging Ackar was still the First Glatorian of Vulcanus: He had faced stronger opponents many a time, but he had bested many of them with the keen sense for the fight: a tactician as much as a fighter he instinctively felt Gelu’s hesitance and pressed his attack. The shouts of the crowd redoubled as he pushed the other warrior back with a series of brilliantly executed blows. Gelu felt almost as fit as when he had entered, but still he gave ground before the vicious attack. He deflected blow after blow, countering here and there. He fought fiercely once more, and if he gave ground now it was because his style demanded it. His last Thornax was in his launcher, but he had not the time to draw it: besides, he was hesitant to use it. Yeah Yeah, shine on meYeah Yeah, shine on meYeah Yeah, shine on me The morning sun over Vulcanus was never a welcome spectator. It cut through the armor of the warriors and the crowds, and sweat emerged in a futile resistance. Ackar was beginning to tire. Used as he was to the burning sun he could not match the vigor of the younger and faster warrior. He gave ground now, beaten back and still back. The crowd waited: the old Glatorian was notorious for his outrageously unexpected moves to unbalance a superior warrior. It happened suddenly: Ackar gave a series of furious blows, driving back Gelu for the single second he needed to leap into a backflip, drawing his launcher. Gelu instinctively leaped to the left. But no Thornax flew: Ackar landed easily, firing for real now. And this time the Ice Glatorian was not so quick to dodge. The fruit struck him solidly in the chest and he fell backwards, stunned at the sudden force. Still Ackar did not advance: he had thrown down his sword in mid-flight and used his free hand to reload. This time he did not threaten, and as Gelu struggled shakily to his feet the Thornax struck him squarely in the side of his head. This time when he fell he was not so quick to rise. Ackar moved swiftly, kicking his weapon out of reach before snatching it up. Gelu looked up groggily, seeing the blurry form of his friend and foe holding his blade up for the thunderously cheering crowds. Then the Glatorian’s head slumped as he gave up the fight at last. Still the sun looked down upon the desert, and the desert huddled beneath its gaze once more. Shine on me,Let my shadows prove the sunshine -x-x-x- Not sure if anyone remembers the first version of this I wrote, way back when about Gelu fighting a Skrall. Here it is, changed and improved.
Fire Review TopicStory Topic Reviews and whatnot appreciated. However, it is understandable if this is not reviewed due to its length.
Part I High above the desolate valley, fire came down from the heavens, blazing through thousands of miserable lives trapped in the anguish of war. High above them, the cliff was steep, bristling with jagged rocks, the torrid site of a landslide that had killed many of his friends. Too many. Ackar tripped, and fell. * * * "I have a bad feeling about this." "Hey, take it easy, bro. It's not like we are going into the real war. We're just going to make sure that the Rock tribe doesn't take advantage of us while we kick the Ice Tribe back to the desolate rock they came from." "We're just a bunch of rookies, Rappert. " "Aw, rookies that are soon to be great leaders! Soon we will rival the Great Beings themselves!" "If we don't get crushed by the Skrall first. " "Your pessimism does not become you, brother." "Nothing becomes me less than being sent into battle without proper training, and on short notice at that. This whole thing looks suspicious. " "It was authorized by the Element Lord of Fire himself. " "That guy. Some Great Being dipped him in a pit of power, and he's our 'Great Leader' now. He's gotten us into a war over some silvery magic stuff that's supposed to make us the 'envy of the Great Beings'. Don't find me a leader; find me an escape route." "We will win, Ackar. This war will be over before you know it. Cheer up, pal. The mind is half the battle. " Yes, thought Ackar, and on this we have already lost. * * * The sight that would have met the two rookie Glatorian as they marched into camp wouldn't have been all that unfamiliar now; the battered tents pitched in grassy knolls, the forest surrounding, the familiar smell of campfires and discharged energy pellets used in weapons to fell game. The sounds would not have changed much either; the proud voices of some Glatorian, bragging of the feats of which they had yet to accomplish; the eager voices of Agori, talking of heroic deeds of Legend and saying, Yes, this will be even greater. But around Ackar and Rappert the voices came in whispers. They were the voices of past exploits, of interest born of mischief and ill-gotten gains. Soon after the pair would pitch their tent and make camp, the crowd of followers would gather around their fire, asking for stories. "What about the time you tricked Certavus into giving you a ride on his Thornatus?" asked one young Glatorian. "Nah, that's too easy. I could have done that, and I'm younger than you. Tell us about the time someone cheated their way into the intertribe spikeball tournament and you won anyway. " Ackar smiled. “Well, the big battle is tomorrow, I'm hearing. So how about I tell you both of them, then we all go to bed and rest up?" "No!" chorused the Glatorian and Agori. "Look, we all need our sleep" chided Ackar. "If you go into battle without sleep, you'll all be a bunch of droopy soldiers. The enemy will march over you like you were sodden blankets on pegs." There were a good deal of chuckles at that. "They always tell us the big battle is tomorrow" said one of the smaller Agori. "Let me let you in on something" said Ackar. He leaned into the ring of Glatorian around the fire and lowered his voice to a whisper. "Rappert and I snuck into Agnes' tent. He has a map in there, tracking the movements of the Earth Glatorian. There is about 2000 kios on that map from where we started, and 2200 from their camp. We set out later, but we move faster then they do. They will be here tomorrow morning." The party broke out, talking in hushed voices. Ackar knew that he would no longer be able to interest them in a story. Their dread and expectation would make a story of its own, far greater then any of his and Rappert's old tricks. "What do you plan to do in the battle, Ackar? I plan to crush 100 of those Skrall and make sure that they never get a whiff of silver power." "I plan to live. " * * * That morning came with a rumble that shook the earth itself, shaking the two awake with a start. Ackar leaped to his feet and pulled his energy launcher from his place by his pallet, aiming in preparation for unseen enemies. "Dude, relax" whispered Rappert, placing a hand on Ackar's arm. "It's just the army approaching. We got this, okay?" Ackar didn't respond. Instead, he quickly strapped his armor on over his night clothing and raced through the tent flap. The army was upon them. Rows of Skrall shields were advancing on the sleepy Fire Glatorian, led by the being with rock for armor. Furious, Ackar fired a shot from his energy blaster, hitting and injuring a Skrall by sheer luck. His fellow Skrall comrades trampled him as they rushed toward the scene of battle. Ackar ran back into the tent, already knowing that it was too late, that there was nothing that he could do, only to find his friend, strapping on his armor as if for a casual tournament. "The Skrall! They're here! Run!" "Run? What are you talking about?" A Skrall poked its head in the flap. Before he could do anything, he was singed by an energy bolt from Ackar. "I've got this, Ackar." Without another word, he charged towards the flap, plunging his blade into the Skrall. Ackar ran after him, shooting as much as he could, and then pulling blades and using his bare hands. It was chaos. Fire Agori and Glatorian in various states of undress used anything they could reach, everything from pans to swords to energy guns. One particularly resourceful group of Agori snagged a group of Skrall in a falling-down tent and set it aflame (The point was lost when the Skrall hacked their way out). Ackar ran, dodging through trees and past Skrall in various throes of combat. A couple Skrall broke off to follow him, which might have helped Rappert, who was strongly outnumbered but none the less holding his own for the moment. He had given up trying to hold his ground outside the tent but was using said tent to his advantage, trapping various groups inside and using his pulse blaster to take out as many Skrall as he could. This bought him a few seconds before he was hacked to pieces. Soon the camp was lost in a sea of black bodies. Meanwhile, Ackar blindly sped through the forest, blindly shooting pulse bolts over his shoulder. He reloaded his energy weapon, his clumsy fingers sending sparks into his armor. He heard a groan behind him – one of his shots had struck home – only to see a massive tree crash to the forest in front of him, sending up a torrent of dust into Ackar’s face. He heard the savage yells behind him, knowing that they were shouts of victory, and heard the rumbling of the earth below, knowing it as the sound of doom. Ackar leaped into the dust, felt it rush past him, felt the branches of the trees slap him in their fury. His hand caught one. He bounced, felt his other hand spring up and slap into place. Just like the arched paths in Vulcanus. You haven’t forgotten your record, haven’t you, Ackar? The day you climbed all the way down to the forges just by using your hands on the lava flume support rods. They couldn’t stop you from having a look at the forges, right? Ackar? For a second, all Ackar could see was the red-tinged streets and metal rods in his hands, feel his arms burning with pain, the forge entrance a bio from him. This was the point he had always fallen, time and again, before finally achieving his success. He felt his grip slipping… And then he was back, back in the tree, muscles burning from exertion. His legs kicked frantically like a tottering schoolboy, the flexible limb of the tree bouncing nervously under its new burden. His heart thundered against the walls of his chest, trying to be set free of the body which held it hostage. The very air itself shook, a salivating beast breathing on its terrible prey. Ancient rock, untouched for millennia, dissolved under the touch of the recent being’s thoughts. That encampment of proud Glatorian and eager Agori crashed to the valley floor, battered into submission by falling trees and shattered by falling rocks. The earth swallowed it whole, baring a sheer precipice of rock bearing witness to too many terrible choices. Ackar fell. Blackness. * * * Chains. He could feel them around his wrists, sunk into his armor, armor that dug into fragile skin. Black. Two inches from his face. A torch. It sizzled and popped, sending light into the barren room. No, it wasn’t a room; its sides pulsed and swayed, breathing like the insides of a savage beast’s throat. It was warm; too warm, and the flames played shadows across the seething tent. “Runner…” said the being holding the torch. “What do you know about the people of Vulcanus?” “Nothing, Skrall. Nothing at all.” The world faded again. * * * “Ahhhhh!” “Listen, foolish Glatorian. Where are the Fire Tribe going? What are their plans?” “They are walking straight into the fire, sir.” Straight into the fire… “Tut, tut, rookie. Where is the fire?” Ackar sat up, bolt awake. Chains were locked around his armour, and a Skrall was waving a torch in front of his face. He was alone, in a tent, and his friends had been… Oh, Rappert. My friend, my colleague…Tears started to form in his eyes, and he shut them to wash them out of his vision. His heart burned and ached. Rappert, dangling from a support tower. Rappert, running from trouble he no doubt had caused. Rappert, in disguise, trying to cover his laughter at the absurdity of how he looked. Rappert, gone. And all because of you. We didn’t mean any harm, just wanted to teach the Ice people that they should share with us. “Ow!” Ackar winced as the torch was brought down on his flesh again. Ackar, being who he was, had a natural resistance to fire, but he could still feel the torch, and the shock of the blow still unnerved him. “Where is the Fire Tribe?” demanded the Skrall, pacing the room in utter disgust. “Or can they not do better than a bunch of rookies to face our might?” “You know what, they won’t” said Ackar. “The silver fluid should be shared equally, among all the tribes. We fight for right, and you attack us.” “The silver…belongs to the Rock Tribe. We own all that comes from the rocks below, including you, fool. Wasn’t that armor forged in Vulcanus, from heat that comes from our rock? You should serve us.” “Who told you that?” “My master, foolish rookie. I’ve learned to mind mine, and you will learn to mind yours, soon enough. Now where is that army?” “They’ve gone to teach Iconox a lesson.” * * * Sunlight. Ackar felt the chains dig into his arms as he was dragged behind his captor. Well, mostly dragged. His ordeal had left him too weak to keep up with the Skrall’s pace, so the black-hued being mostly just yanked him along. Skrall paused in whatever task they happened to be engaged in to gawk and jeer: “Vulcanus’ pride and joy, right there.” “Our Skrall brother’s got a little taglong.” Raucous laughter. But the words just bounced off of Ackar. Exhustion conquered all emotion, his damaged limbs aching from his fall from the tree. He must have hit his head; his world swam dangerously a few times, and he thought he might black out again. He was forced into another tent. Fortunately for the ravished Glatorian, the top of this tent had a vent to let in air, which also let in a wave of dusty light. “So, Glatorian, where is my army?” said the being inside. His body was black; his jaws crunched as he spoke, his voice surrounding like the deep rumble of a landslide about to be unleashed. Ackar gagged; his stomach heaved, but it was empty, and he only received a sour taste in his mouth. His legs gave out under him, and he fell to his knees, gasping for air. “Heading toward Iconox, sir” said the Skrall that held Ackar. “Does he know anything specific?” “They are camped on the hill opposite Iconox, between there and the mountains” Ackar lied, his face to the floor. “Aye, so I see that Vulcanus in quite easily fooled. They will come up through the mountain pass…I see.” The Element Lord did not hesitate. “Assign him to a work detail at once. If I find your information to be false, you will be killed.” * * * The water pail banged against the tub of it as Ackar dragged himself away. “Next.” barked the Skrall next to the tub. Ackar stumbled away, heading for the stream to draw water. His wrists stung, and his mind swam. I hate Skrall. The cold water of the stream washed over his swollen wrists, yanking him out of his exhausted stupor.Rappert would have called them black trees with leaves. See the branches on their arms? He would laugh. He would call me names just to cheer me up. “No dawdling down by the river. We have an entire camp, and that camp needs water!” The Skrall at the tub lashed out with his whip across Ackar’s bare back, sending the Glatorian stumbling in a haze of pain. Mindlessly, the Glatorian trotted back to the stream, grabbed a bunch of water, and stumbled back. I hate this stupid war. Silver substance. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Let the stupid Ice people have it. He shoved the water into the trough with a force, sending water surging up the sides. Take this, Skrall! He drew the water up, sent water over the banks. Take this, Element Lords! He threw his bucket into the tub. Take this, Spherus Magna! Grabbing the bucket, he went back to the stream. He filled the bucket, walked back, and poured the water all over the waiting Skrall. Take this, death! Rappert will live on, and I will live, and you will fall! * * * Flames licked the sky. “I hear the vine-weaving Agori are joining the war.” “Oh, the tree-chopping Glatorian. I’m trembling in my booties.” “Have you heard the one about the green Agori who lost his way?” Heads shook all around, but Ackar could notice the knowing looks. They were just humoring him, trying to get him to go on. “He walked up to a Skrall and asked where the nearest vine was!” Chuckles all around, but Ackar could tell they were forced. He went back to eating as best he could. Once again he was chained to a Skrall. He knew that soon after, he would be dragged back to his sleeping pallet for another few precious hours of sleep before his day would begin again, too early. Only his anger kept him on his feet. I will right this wretched planet, even if I have to kill all of you to do it. The flames in the pit roared higher, answering an unseen voice that even Ackar could not yet command. * * * Snow whirled about the assembled Skrall, forcing them to shield their eyes in order to see. Knees knocking, they trudged onward towards Iconox. Ackar shivered. He could not see in front of him, and only the chains’ hold on his wrist kept him moving. * * * Six Glatorian huddled together in the tent, chilled though and soaked to the bone. A vent cut in the top of the tent let the smoke escape, but it was a useless measure; the tent was drenched in it, and the Skrall around Ackar shook with coughing. The cold still leeched in though the walls of the tent, and the icy wind tore at the canvas walls, threatening to set them free from the ground. The Element Lord of Rock had assisted them in finding the rock beneath the layer of snow…most of said snow was in the air around them, Ackar guessed, being blown and tossed about. It doesn’t matter much, seeing as I am going to die, and soon. The Fire Glatorian would have never taken this pass; too open and exposed to the winds which could blow up this snow; they would take the faster route from behind the city, and descend upon this mountain villa down the slope and into Iconox. Of course, that is what any resident would logically expect…But nonetheless, they are probably long gone now. This war is over, and I’m still fighting it. His rage built up again. Oh, to join my comrades under the earth! Rappert, you had it easy; I’m still fighting someone else’s war. Ackar reached his hand toward the fire, and felt nothing, only icy wind. The flames curled around the Glatorian’s hands, but he felt nothing, only the cold, hard rage of the White Quartz Mountains. The Skrall next to him tried to batter his hand away, only to withdraw it on pain of the surrounding flames. Ackar closed his eyes. The cold seeped into him, despite the vibration of the shivering Skrall around him. This is the end. And then he felt something hot. His foot burned in pain. His eyes snapped open. The chain. Hard and brittle from days of shivering in the cold, the heat was breaking it. The armor from Vulcanus was only singed, but the Skrall metal of the chain had broken, lying across Ackar’s foot. He jumped. To a standing position. The metal came free, liquefying some of the slush on the floor. The remaining chain snapped at his tug. And then a Skrall blade came back to Ackar’s throat. “Don’t move.” Ackar fell backward into the snow, then scrambled to his feet. He moved, grabbing a stick of wood for the fire, and reaching past a Skrall, he plunged it in, sending sparks toward the tent ceiling and bringing the wood to blazing life. He ran out of the tent flap before the Skrall could react, plunging into the maelstrom beyond. * * * The tents, in their way, formed a semi-windbreak. Ackar’s torch did not go out. The lone aspect of red in a sea of black and white trudged through the snow, heading for the armory tent. The shields, stacked like pancakes. The battle lances. Ackar set them aflame. This was the time when the Skrall had wood shields on an iron palatte – designed to take and hold arrows – the lances were laced with the lighter material to make them easier to carry, a practice quickly abandoned after this battle. Yes, it was a battle. Ackar, Glatorian of Fire, left the camp of the Skrall, heading toward Iconox. He had spent four days with the Skrall as they had traveled this route up the mountain, which journey began two days after the end of the battle which Ackar’s friends lost. The battle was known later as the Battle of Iconox, for lack of a better name. It began with a single Glatorian, a prisoner of the Skrall, who had left the camp to die… * * * It must only have been a few minutes, thought Ackar. The snow whipped past his face; ever since he had left the camp of the Skrall, the only thing he saw was swirling snow. He took another step forward, and his vision resolved itself. A village, wedged between three grand and forbidding peaks. Iconox. He trudged forward, full of new purpose. He would warn the villagers of the army on their doorstep and beg for mercy. He could see the guards, posted on the route to the pass now…just a few more steps…and then Ackar heard a horn.Vulcanus. Red beings descended across the landscape, crashing down on the Iconox defenders. Flames burst out against the structures, bouncing off the solid mineral of the houses, only scorching it. The Ice tribe defenders appeared from behind structures, slashing at warriors as they stumbled and slide down the white slope. “Ackar! Give us a hand!” shouted one Glatorian. One of the Ice warriors had cut down three of the Glatorian of Fire. “It’s lost!” Ackar bellowed. “We lost. The Rock tribe is coming!” Ackar could see the flaming mass of being that was the Element Lord of Fire coming down the hill, urging them on. “No, retreat!” Baffled, the Fire Glatorian paused in mid-fight, giving their enemies an opportunity that few would miss. Ice formed on the armor of the already cold and miserable Glatorian as the Element Lord of Ice came out to defend his people. Steam wafted across the landscape as the ice was melted. Fire blazed through the afternoon, but it was too weak for Iconox. “The Rock tribe is coming!” yelled Ackar. “Get out!” He saw the lights of familiarity dawn. He was Ackar, their friend. Weakened as they were, they could not take on two tribes. Slowly, the Glatorian of Fire scaled the heights, their enemies curtailed by fire blasts in his immortal fury. Below, the floor erupted with a battle cry as the armies of the Skrall charged into Iconox. The charge was too long…the fire Glatorian heeded the cry and finished the climb up and down the mountainside, headed for relative safety. The Skrall charged into Iconox…only to find no one but a few not so surprised Iconox defenders. The battle was pitched, because the Skrall’s shields and lances were on fire, dealing dangerous blows to the defenders of Iconox. The battle was long, but skill and strength would carry the day, as the embers in the shields went out. To this day the Skrall evoke these surprising effects of this battle – from that day forward the shield fronts are black, the maze design shown in red to effect the blaze of the burning coals. What they won’t remember, or can’t, is who set them aflame. Many proud defenders of Iconox perished that day. And Ackar remembered. This is my war. I will take you all down, for taking my friends away – you will pay for it! Review Topic
Scars Of War
Jowm posted a topic in Short StoriesScars of War Ackar glanced nervously around, expecting to find Skrall hiding in the rocks nearby. He had expected to run into a patrol of them by now, however, there had been no sign of them so far, and no evidence that they had recently been there. Ackar had been ordered to rally some of the Glatorian troops from his fire tribe who weren't already out on missions or anything else, and go to a Skrall outpost in the northeastern part of the Bara Magna desert. They were to perform a recon mission, steal some equipment, weapons and sabotage other things in their outpost without allowing the Skrall to discover that the fire tribe was behind the mission. Ackar knew he shouldn't allow his suspicions to endanger his mission or troops. "Come on," he ordered, his commanding voice entwined with a sigh. He turned back toward the rocks ahead. It was not long before he turned his head back to face the area behind them, still searching for signs of Skrall, wary of an ambush. He noticed something a little ways to the left of the direction he and his troops had taken in order to reach the place they were currently at. "Halt!" he commanded, his voice slightly betraying his suspicion. His troops stopped, and turned to view the area he was interested in. What Ackar had noticed was a Skrall shield, sticking up out of the ground in an area that was not visible to them earlier due to the angle they had been at. The shield had slash marks through it and was dented and bent, a small chunk had been torn out of the outside edge, and some of the blades on the edge were dulled and ruined. The design on the shield was hardly recognizable. Ackar silently motioned for his eight troops to go out and move toward the place from either side, while he silently walked straight toward the spot. As Ackar approached the site, he noticed Skrall blades and armor lying about, a battered arm lying out at full length from behind a rock. Ackar wondered about how horrible it would be to have one’s arm chopped off. As Ackar attempted to determine what would have the ability to do such a thing to the Skrall while he was still approaching, he caught sight of a Skrall foot lying on the ground near a bush, he now also observed Skrall armor and weapons lying around, scorch marks from overripe Thornax fruit, and a battered and twisted blade sticking up from the other side of the small sand dune he was climbing up which separated him from the site. Ackar finally reached the top of the sand dune, and before him lay a sight that even a Rock Steed would have found revolting. He now observed that the blade which he had assumed was sticking up out of the ground, was, in truth, protruding from the marred, battered, and somewhat shredded body of a Skrall. He understood now that the arm stretched out was still connected to the devastated body of its Skrall owner. The foot, which was lying near a bush, obviously belonged to the hardly recognizable body of a Skrall, which was barely discernible from the bush in which it was buried. Ackar, out of the corners of his eyes, spied the two squads of his troops approaching, they, too, appeared shocked. Suddenly, Ackar realized that there was no sign of any armor belonging to any other tribe. Now Ackar was beyond suspicious, he knew something was up, Skrall just didn't die this way. That was a fact, they would have at least damaged their attackers enough for there to be signs that the enemy had been hurt. Ackar knew that even if the enemy had attacked from a distance, with bows and arrows or Thornax launchers, there would still be signs of the Skrall's enemy. Besides, Ackar rationalized, the scene laid out before him suggested that the enemy had attacked from close range. He peered at the area surrounding the site for footprints. It was not long before he found footprints, several sets of them, leading away from the battle site. The footprints were all Skrall's, Ackar knew that Skrall cared little for the corpses of their own kind, and he wondered if the footprints meant that remaining Skrall had gone after their enemy, however, he found only Skrall footprints, no others, which would indicate that no enemy of the Skrall had left, yet he saw no sign of any still here. Ackar considered whether or not to endanger the mission and his troops to find out what this all meant and what had gone on here. He made his decision. Ackar knew the importance of following orders, he also knew that the one who had given him orders-the Element Lord of Fire-was a power-hungry dictator. Besides that, he knew that to always follow orders to the letter was to not think for one's self, to be a mindless soldier, and, in some cases, to be the loser of the battle, or the loser of one’s life. There were always variables, and one could not always make orders which would successfully deal with each of those variables. He motioned for his troops to come over to him. "Listen," Ackar began, "I am unsure of how to tell you, but I'll do my best to be clear, I am about to disobey orders," The troops were visibly surprised, they had not expected this, not from Ackar, not in this situation. “There is something very strange going on here," Ackar began, "and I intend to learn what it is, if you want a reason for my decision which will benefit our tribe, I have come up with one, it is this; whoever, or whatever, has the ability to do this to the Skrall, would be an invaluable assistance to our tribe, or an unbelievably dangerous foe. So what do you say?" The troops appeared hesitant for a moment, then, slowly at first, they each began to agree to his proposal. Ackar was pleased, and relieved, he was unsure of what would have happened had all his troops not agreed, he only hoped none of them were planning to turn him in for his decision. He quickly led his troops forward, following the plain and obvious trail of footprints. Ackar realized that the Skrall must have left here recently, if their footprints were showing up as well as they were in the rapidly shifting sands of the desert part of Spherus Magna. The trail of footprints led straight away from the site of... of whatever had happened, and did not turn where the Skrall border did a few kio away. Ackar traveled with his troops trailing behind for almost an hour, he was beginning to believe that he should have stuck to following the orders outlined for the mission. He had decided to go on a little farther before giving up, when he heard first one of his troops shouting, "What the-" and as he turned to find what was going on, heard one of his troops murmur in awe, "Great Beings, what is th-" then out of the corner of his eye he spied a quick blur of motion, too large to be a projectile, he barely managed to notice, and a metallic clang rang out, interrupting the speaker, who immediately let forth an unnatural screech of surprise and pain. Ackar drew and swung his sword, with almost impossible speed, toward the troop who had been interrupted, to his right and behind him, knowing that from the angle he was at, he would strike whatever had impacted his fellow Glatorian. When he struck the thing, on what appeared to be its back, it went sprawling into the sand, while his troop, recovering, struggled to return to his feet. Ackar quickly placed his Thornax launcher in the hand he was holding his sword with, holding both in his right hand as he reached down with his left hand, and grabbed his fellow Glatorian by the right arm, pulling him to his feet. The thing he struck was not something he recognized, but he had no time to wonder about what it was, he heard more sounds from behind him, his other troops being attacked, he assumed, and turned to find his troops doing battle with the, things. He watched as the troop closest to him was lunged at and knocked down, by, seemingly, sand. As he gazed on with confusion, he watched the “sand” shimmer and change into another of the silver things. Their color caused him to suspect them of being ice tribe, as the Ice tribe warriors used silver as their main armor color more often than any other tribe. They had spikes all over their armor, and large claws at the end of each arm. There were four of these unknown attackers. Although their color caused him to suspect them of being ice tribe, he was unsure of whether they were or not, he didn’t believe that the ice tribe had the ability to shapeshift that way, he could tell that they hadn’t just sprung out of the sand. All this flashed through Ackar’s mind in an instant, but he had no time to consider any of it more, for his legs were knocked out from under him, sending his weapons flying away from him, and almost before he hit the ground, one of the attackers landed on his chest, its feet close together as it crouched on him, its arms held high as it prepared to bring its wickedly sharp claws down on him. He used his arms to push himself over and begin a roll sideways, knocking the attacker off of his chest. His foe quickly returned to its feet after falling onto its side in the sand. Ackar used the momentum from his roll to launch himself to his feet, and stood in a battle stance facing his opponent. His opponent did not hesitate even a second before charging at him, claws slashing. Ackar dove to his left for his sword, grabbed it, and rolled onto his back, correctly anticipating that his attacker would jump on him. His foe landed directly on the point of the blade, which pierced through a weak part of its left chest armor and slid through its body, disabling some of its inner parts before penetrating the back of its armor and protruding from its back. Ackar began to breathe deeply, regretting that yet another life had been lost in this war. Ackar glanced at the fighting around him, and realized that he should help his warriors. Curious, though, Ackar thought, that he-or she-didn’t cry out, or even speak at all, even once. Ackar knew, though, that there would be time to study these strange new foes and contemplate their strange behavior later. Suddenly, the eyes of his enemy, which he had thought dead, snapped open. Ackar was startled, and it raised its clawed hands to bring them down upon his face. Its left arm only raised about halfway up, though, then halted abruptly. When its arm stopped, Ackar felt his blade twist in his hand, and heard metal scraping on metal. That was when Ackar realized that the thing wasn’t alive, of course, that explained everything, no blood, no speaking or crying out in pain, it wasn’t dead after being stabbed through, the arm had stopped halfway up because his sword had wedged into some of its internal workings, and now it was going to kill him. The thing turned its head to look at its arm, and although it was a robot, it seemed almost confused. Ackar made use of the delay and punched the thing in the face while grabbing its right arm with his left hand. The robots head whirled to face him, and Ackar saw in its eyes only blackness, with an occasional flicker of light. Ackar had only a moment to see its eyes, because it brought its left arm down on his right shoulder, at one of the only few angles still available to it with that arm, knocking his arm back to the ground. He grunted as it struck his shoulder, then tightened his grip on its arm. It pulled its arm as far back as Ackar’s reach would allow, and Ackar began to try to pull it back toward him with all his strength, trying to stop the robot from freeing its arm. Suddenly, the robots arm shot down towards him like lightning, all he saw was a flash then gave a gurgling gasp as he felt the dual claws pierce his upper chest and neck. The Creature withdrew its claws from his body, and Ackar immediately grabbed at his own neck, gasping for breath. The robot, noticing the movement, instantly slashed his face, and he managed to restrain a cry of pain, though he dropped his sword. As soon as Ackar dropped his sword, the robot turned away and leaped at one of his Glatorian ten feet away. Amazingly, the thing cleared the distance, and knocked the fighter over into the sand. Ackar was confused about the things’ strange behavior, but he wasn’t about to complain. He remained still for a moment, to ensure that it was gone, staring straight up into the bright, hot sky, and thinking, It won’t be long until this isn’t just an act. Ackar gave quick, gurgling gasps and held his neck wound closed while pulling himself away from the fighting with his right arm. One of his troops, a fighter called Perditus, who was not very skilled at hand to hand fighting as he was training to use vehicles in battle, rushed over to him. “Fighting these things is worse than getting cornered by a pack of Iron Wolves in a blizzard!” he exclaimed, panting. Ackar didn’t even try to reply, and Perditus noticed his wounds. “No…. you…. Here! Have these.” Hurriedly, Perditus pulled some bandages from the pack he wore on his back, and handed them to Ackar. Ackar applied some of the smaller ones to his face and also bandaged his chest, but continued to hold his neck. Ackar managed to rasp out, “Neck… too bad… bandage, useless.” Perditus reached into his pack again, and retrieved some tools. “Let go,” Perditus ordered, “I may not have been trained as a medic, but I know a bit about Glatorian anatomy.” Upon finishing, Perditus glanced around to ensure that they were still relatively safe, only three Glatorian remained standing, and only the robot Ackar had fought appeared to have been downed, which left three still fighting. Perditus decided not to break this news to Ackar, and turned back to him, waiting for an answer. Ackar hesitated for a moment, then released his neck. Perditus could see that the damage was bad, and that Ackar would be out of the war for at least a month, maybe two, but for Ackar’s sake, he tried not to show it. He leaned down toward Ackar and moved some of the organic tissue under the armor with one of his tools, one shaped rather like a small metal stick, with the end bent diagonally. Ackar winced but did not cry out, besides, it would have been painful and difficult to do so. Perditus finished, then smeared some adhesive onto a small metal plate he had retrieved from his pack, and pushed it gently onto Ackar’s neck. He held it there for a second, then let go of it, and wrapped a bandage around Ackars neck. “I moved some of the internal parts of your neck so that you won’t die, but the damage is bad enough that in about one day, the parts I moved will have been pushed back and you will be dying again, at which time you will have a little less than an hour to live.” Perditus explained, “However, you have a day before that happens, and until then, while it may hurt, your neck should remain in survivable condition.” “Great.” Ackar croaked. Perditus then glanced around at what was left while helping Ackar to his feet. “They’re… robots.” Ackar gasped out. Perditus did not question him, he trusted Ackar, even if sometimes he wasn’t sure how he knew things. One of the three Glatorian he had noticed earlier had been killed, while none of the three robots he had watched appeared to have been stopped, and were now pursuing the other two Glatorian, who were fleeing toward himself and Ackar. Perditus worried that his efforts to save Ackar would be pointless, and that they would all die. One of the troops had no weapons, apparently believing that he stood a better chance of surviving if he ran instead of fought. The other soldier, however, still held a Thornax launcher; he fired it now, back at his wordless pursuers, then threw it at them, apparently having no more ammunition. Strangely, indeed, one of the strangest and most unusual things Perditus had ever seen, or ever would see was that, immediately after the Glatorian released his weapon, the things stopped, just stopped short, and began wandering about, walking off into the distance. Perditus, Ackar, and the other two Glatorian stared after them in bewilderment. “Well,” Began Ackar, “I suppose there is no end of surprise, and death, as long as this war plagues us.” Perditus nodded in agreement. Ackar turned and began trudging toward Vulcanus. Ackar stumbled and fell. Perditus helped him to his knees. “I can make it,” Ackar rasped out. “No,” Perditus ordered, “Don’t push yourself too hard, we won’t let you,” Perditus finished, glancing at both of the other Glatorian, who nodded in approval. “But I-“ “No,” interjected Perditus, cutting off Ackar. Ackar sighed, nodding. Ackar knew he was in no position to argue, and besides, Perditus was right. Ackar lay back in the sand, falling deep into sleep. Perditus took charge. “Alright,” He began, “We can’t go towards Skrall territory, he wouldn’t survive, none of us would. The Skrall would be glad we came, they would be grateful for such an easy chance to kill some of their foes, and especially Ackar, one of the Fire Tribe’s best field commanders.” “Then what do we do?” inquired one of the other Glatorian. “Well,” Perditus thought a moment before continuing, “The Skrall might follow the footsteps away from the site where we found the Skrall bodies, which would lead them here, so we can’t stay here. Hmmm, well, we’ll have to stay the night out here, that’s for sure, we’ll never make it back to the village in time, so I suggest we get as far as we can toward Vulcanus as possible before dark.” “What about him?” questioned one of the Glatorian, gesturing toward Ackar. “We’ll take turns carrying him,” answered Perditus, “two of us will carry him at a time.” The other two troops nodded their assent, then they both picked up Ackar and began following Perditus through the desert. Perditus led them towards the Fire Tribe village for hours, staying kios away from the Skrall borderline. Darkness began to envelop the desert, and Perditus began to help carry Ackar, giving one of the Glatorian a break. Suddenly, the sand around them erupted, this time, however, it wasn’t the sand that lunged at them, but the beings hidden beneath it. Six Sand Tribe warriors flung themselves at the group, and Perditus barked out, “Set down Ackar!” The Glatorian helping carry Ackar obeyed, and Perditus and the other two Glatorian formed a defensive triangle around Ackar’s sleeping form. The Sand Tribe warriors began slowly walking around the triangle. Perditus knew that they couldn’t survive this fight; they had no weapons, and were hopelessly outnumbered. He knew that their only chance of survival was to outwit their foes. Perditus raised his hands in surrender, and when the other Fire Tribe Glatorian glanced at him quizzically, he motioned for them to do the same. Slowly, both the other Glatorian raised their hands in surrender. “Halt!” one of the Sand Tribe warriors, obviously the leader, shouted. His troops immediately stopped walking around Perditus and the other Fire Tribe Glatorian, and stood, weapons ready, surrounding them. The Sand Tribe warrior who seemed to be the commander strode over to Perditus, assuming, because he had ordered other Fire tribe warriors to surrender, that he was their commander. “Are you the commander of these Glatorian?” he questioned Perditus. “No, he is,” Perditus replied, gesturing to the sleeping Ackar. “He needs medical attention within the next 19 hours.” The Sand Tribe commander answered, “That could be true, or it could not, we don’t like this war any more than you or anyone else, but I can’t just allow you to leave on your word alone.” “So what are you going to do with us?” Perditus inquired nervously. “Hmmm,” the Sand Tribe commander contemplated the situation for a moment, then continued “we will escort you to our camp, it is nearby, there, your friend can be looked over by our medic, and you will be our captives. I think that while you are enjoying our hospitality, you can repay us with information, whether you like it or not.” Perditus glared at the commander, however, he didn’t object, he was in no position to make requests, but he had no intention of betraying his tribe, whether this Sand Tribe commander liked it or not. “You two!” the Sand Tribe commander shouted, pointing at two of his warriors, “you walk behind us, keep an eye on our prisoners. And you!” he called, this time gesturing to one of his remaining Glatorian, “you walk on the right of the prisoners, while you!” he ordered, gesturing to yet another Sand Tribe warrior, “walk on the prisoners left. And you,” he pointed toward his only remaining troop, “will have the privilege of accompanying me in leading the prisoners.” Perditus could already tell that this commander was very self confident, thought a lot of himself, and was making sure that everyone knew who was in charge. Perditus imagined that it was likely that the Elemental Lord of sand and this Sand Tribe commander would have leadership issues, they probably already had. “Oh, pardon my manners,” the Sand Tribe warrior began, turning to face Perditus as his troops moved into position, “I’m already taking you captive and I haven’t even introduced myself, my name’s Kabrua, now move it!” Perditus and one of the other Fire Tribe Glatorian lifted Ackar and began to walk forward, following the remaining Fire Tribe warrior. A few minutes later, Ackar stirred, and Perditus quietly warned him not move, as that would let the Sand Tribe troops know that he was awake. Ackar waited silently for a minute, turning his eyes to check the situation. After a few minutes, Ackar whispered to Perditus, “Tell the Glatorian holding my feet to launch me up and over you on my signal.” Perditus nodded, then whispered to the Glatorian ahead of him, “I want you to carry Ackar’s feet now, and, on his signal, throw him up and over me.” The warrior’s eyes widened, but he didn’t question Perditus. The troop stepped back to take the other Glatorian’s place holding Ackar’s feet. Ackar then quietly questioned Perditus, “What are you doing?” Perditus responded in a whisper,“I thought this would be less suspicious.” Ackar waited silently for a moment, then shouted in a voice cracked because of his wound, “Now!” The warrior holding his feet then launched him up and forward, he spun in the air and landed on the face of the Sand Tribe Glatorian accompanying Kabrura in the lead, just as he was turning around. The Sand Tribe warrior he had landed on was knocked unconscious, and Ackar snatched his weapons, a Thornax Launcher and a sword. Kabrura, however, was not so easily downed, as Ackar grabbed the fallen troop’s weapons, he swung his blade at Ackar, catching him in the chest and sending him stumbling backward. Perditus and the other Fire Tribe warriors acted instantly, catching the Sand Tribe troops off guard. Perditus tackled the Glatorian on the left side of the group, while the Glatorian who had thrown Ackar attacked the one on the right. The remaining Fire Tribe Glatorian fought hard to defend against the Sand Tribe warriors in the rear, but couldn’t hold out for long. Perditus had knocked the Glatorian he had tackled to the ground, and they now struggled in the sand. Perditus grappled for the Glatorian’s hatchet, both he and his foe knew that they were at too close range to even try to use the Thornax Launcher, neither of them would be able to get in a good shot, and even if they could, they would hurt themselves as well, being so close. Perditus had broken the Thornax Launcher, however, not wanting his enemy to try to stand and get some distance then take a shot. Perditus pulled at the hatchet, and the Glatorian kicked him in the chest. Perditus had the wind knocked out of him, lost his grip on the hatchet, and the warrior drew back for the strike. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, Ackar stumbled back and tripped over Perditus, the Sand Tribe troop had only a moment to glance upward at Ackar before Ackar landed on him, knocking the hatchet from his hand. Perditus grabbed the hatchet. Ackar stood, and the soldier he had fallen on turned to look up only to find the handle of the hatchet flying down toward his face before a sharp pain and then only blackness. The Glatorian who had thrown Ackar was struggling to face his combatant. He had charged his opponent, however, the warrior he had attacked had great reflexes, and he was now on the losing end of a debate with frighteningly sharp axe blade. He ducked under another swing of the axe, hearing it whistle through the air as it passed over him. He came up then, trying to give his foe a strong uppercut, only to receive a knee in the stomach, an elbow to the face, then a punch that sent him sprawling in the sand. After landing hard in the sand, he opened his eyes to find the double-bladed axe streaking down toward him. He tried to scramble out of the way, but he was out of breath and weak, the axe blade sliced through his armor, digging into his left thigh, and he let out a cry of pain. The Glatorian lay stretched out on the ground, as the Sand Tribe warrior raised his axe for the final blow. Ackar turned to find Kabrura running toward the Fire Tribe troop who was taking on two other fighters, and was just about to go and help, when he noticed one of his fellow soldiers laying on the ground, an axe cut on his leg, with his opponent raising an axe over him. Ackar sprung forward, arms outstretched, ready to tackle the Sand Tribe warrior. He shouted, “Stop!” as he sprinted forward. The Sand Tribe Glatorian heard Ackar’s shout, but didn’t even glance up, he swung down with all his might, as the troop he swung his axe at cried out for mercy. The axe blade crashed into the Fire Tribe warrior’s chest with a “Clang!” then a sickening “Crunch!” and the warrior’s cries died along with him. Ackar crashed into the Sand Tribe warrior, but not very effectively, he seemed to have lost speed. Ackar had just witnessed the death of one of the soldiers under his command, the war had not been going on for long, and he was unused to the death of his troops. He was especially unused to trying to save his warriors, and failing. He blamed himself for the death of that Glatorian, he had been too slow, and now the death of that troop was on him. He stopped for a moment, too late to save the warrior, then, suddenly, he was knocked back to reality, and onto the ground, by the fist of the Sand Tribe Glatorian he had attacked.Perditus, meanwhile, had watched Ackar leap forward and had wanted to follow, but knew that the Fire Tribe warrior Kabrua was advancing on needed help. He struggled to his feet and charged after Kabrua. As he neared the Sand Tribe Commander, he raised his weapon. Suddenly, Kabrua, hearing Perditus, spun around and gave him a slash to the face with his sword. Perditus’s feet kept running forward even after he had been sliced in the face, and he fell onto his back. He was gasping for breath, his face was torn up, his metal armor fragmented, even shredded in some areas. Kabrua towered over him, holding his sword at the ready. Perditus, his left hand on his face, blocking his left eye, struggled to his feet. Kabrua laughed, and kneed him in the chin, knocking him back to the ground. Kabrua raised his sword to stab it into Perditus. Perditus realized that, although he usually preferred to fight honorably, his life was on the line, and honor wasn’t worth his life. He flung sand up into the face of his enemy, while scrambling to stand. But, unfortunately, Kabrua was used to such tricks, and brought the blade down without hesitation. Perditus felt an immense pain shoot through his right thigh, and cried out. He could no longer feel his leg. He dropped to the ground in a heap, pinned down by Kabrua’s blade, which had pierced straight through his leg and stabbed into the ground. The world began to darken, and Perditus turned to look at Kabrua as everything began to spin. He managed to find him standing, chuckling, just before the world went black. Ackar found himself in a very difficult situation, he was going to die. After being knocked to the ground, he had managed to trip his opponent, and now they both lay on the ground. His disadvantage was that his opponent was holding an axe, and he wasn’t. He quickly scrambled back, away from the Sand Tribe warrior, and his foe stood to his feet and followed. Ackar, noticing the Sand tribe Glatorian coming, leaped to his feet and stood ready. His enemy swung his axe horizontally, and Ackar ducked, then punched his opponent in the stomach, followed by a swift right-handed uppercut to the Glatorian’s jaw. His adversary was knocked to the ground and Ackar took advantage of the chance, seizing the axe while his enemy fell. Ackar moved like lightning, swinging the axe as his enemy hit the ground, and knocking him unconscious with a strong smack with the eye of the axe. He spun around, surveying the battle. Perditus had apparently just been knocked to the ground by the brutal Kabrua, and the other Fire Glatorian was being beaten by the remaining two Sand Tribe troops. Ackar made the quick decision that Perditus’ need was the least urgent, and rushed toward the other Fire Tribe Glatorian. He tackled one of the Sand Tribe Glatorian from behind, knocking him to the ground. He began to sit upright on the Glatorian, but received a strong bash in the face from the shield that the other Sand Tribe warrior held. He was knocked to the ground, but the Fire Tribe Soldier, regardless of his wounds, leapt into the legs of the Sand Tribe Troop who had hit him, knocking him down. Ackar sat back up, and the Glatorian he had tackled leaped toward him, sword at the ready. Ackar saw what he had to do, as his enemy flew through the air. He didn’t want to, but he wasn’t going to let himself be killed. As his enemy flew toward him, Ackar waited a split second until his foe was so close he wouldn’t have time to react, then, he flung his foot out like lighting, turning his head away at the same time. He heard the clang of his foot impacting the fighters’ face, the snap of the warriors’ neck, and the thud of his carcass falling to the ground. Ackar then turned to the left, toward the other Sand Tribe soldier, not looking toward the body of the warrior he had just killed. The soldier he had turned towards had an expression of rage on his face, because one of his fellow soldiers had just been killed, Ackar guessed. The Sand Tribe warrior kicked the weak and wounded Fire Tribe troop away, then stood, and advanced on Ackar. Ackar scrambled up, but it was too late, the warrior stood over him, hatchet in his left hand, shield in his right. He glared at Ackar for a moment, as Ackar waited for him to make the first move, then slammed the bottom of his shield into the ground so hard it dug in, while at the same time falling into a crouch behind the shield and swinging his hatchet down toward Ackar. Ackar, surprised by this move, scrambled awkwardly away, and was caught in the left arm by the hatchet. He cried out, and grabbed the hatchet with his right hand. He pulled the weapon, but his enemy was stronger, as he discovered when he was roughly jerked face first into the shield. He pushed himself away from the shield, but his foe ripped the shield out of the ground and kicked Ackar in the face. Ackar scrambled back, struggling back to his feet. As he stood, he saw the blur of the hatchet flying toward his neck, there was no time to move, but an object already in motion suddenly appeared in front of his neck, and the hatchet hit it. Ackar heard the object emit a cry, and watched as the object, to fast a moment ago to recognize, fell to the ground. It was the Fire Tribe warrior, he had sacrificed himself for Ackar. The hatchet protruded from the right side of his head, and Ackar stood for a moment, realizing what had just happened. Ackar then realized that the fight wasn’t over, and decided to ensure that the warrior hadn’t died in vain. The Sand Tribe soldier was also standing in shock at what had happened, about three feet from Ackar. He kicked the warrior in the left side of the head, knocking him to the ground. Ackar lunged toward him, but he raised his shield, and Ackar went sliding off of it, over the Sand Tribe troop and onto the ground. He stood and spun around, as his combatant did the same. They circled each other, then Ackar, near the fallen Fire Tribe Glatorian, pulled the hatchet out of his helmet, which it was still embedded in. His foes’ eyes narrowed at this action, and Ackar readied himself. His enemy charged forward, shield ready. Ackar dropped to the ground as his enemy was about to impact him, tripping him, then he leaped to his feet, and jumped and landed on the back of his enemy, knocking the wind out of him. As he drew back the knife, about to knock his foe unconscious with the handle, the warrior rolled over, and he was knocked to the ground. He landed roughly in the hot sand. His enemy smacked him with the shield, and he was momentarily stunned as his enemy reached for the hatchet. He recovered as the knife was snatched from his hand, and brought his left leg around, delivering a strong kick to the back of his combatants’ head. The Sand Tribe warrior was knocked unconscious, and fell to the ground. Ackar breathed heavily, then, remembering Perditus, grabbed the hatchet and shield. He stood to his feet, turning back toward Kabrua and Perditus. Perditus was lying on the ground, seemingly unconscious, and Kabrua was surveying the outcome of the battle. Ackar knew that Kabrua would win if they fought. Kabrua was visibly stronger, and Ackar had become tired and wounded from fighting, while Kabrua appeared to have been effected very little by the battle, and Ackar wondered if he had even fought anyone besides Perditus. Kabrua spotted him and grinned, standing ready for the impending battle. Ackar groaned inwardly. He wasn’t ready for this, he knew he would lose, he had to find an advantage. He quickly scanned the area, trying to find something that would give him an overwhelming advantage over Kabrua. He suddenly spotted a loaded Thornax launcher near where Perditus had been fighting before he battled Kabrua. He realized, disappointedly, that the Thornax launcher was broken. Kabrua relaxed his stance, and Ackar focused his attention on him, wondering what he was doing. Kabrua turned around, bent over, and lifted Perditus’ unconscious form off the ground, and held him up, with his sword pressed to his neck. Ackar realized that Kabrua wasn’t even going to fight, he was just going to force him to surrender by threatening Perditus. Kabrua shouted, “I’ve heard about you, Ackar, a rising general, constantly improving your skills, well, improve them now! Drop your weapons, or your friend will die!” Ackar sighed, and dropped his weapons in resignation. Kabrua smiled, and called, “Now go and rouse the surviving Sand Tribe warriors.” Ackar turned toward the closest living Sand Tribe soldier, unconscious in the sand, and began walking toward him. As he began tapping lightly on the Glatorian, he glanced over at Kabrua, and noticed Perditus’s eyes light up, as he regained consciousness. Ackar hid the emotion of hope and excitement that exploded within him as he turned back to the Glatorian he was awakening. Ackar began tapping the sand behind the soldier, hoping Kabrua wouldn’t notice his treachery, until it was too late.Perditus awoke with cold, sharp steel pressed against his throat. He didn’t move for a minute, trying to understand what was going on and why he was no longer on the ground. “Hurry up” he heard Kabrua shout from right above his head. He realized he would have to act fast if he was going to get out of this situation. He lifted his arms and threw Kabrua over his shoulder, and as Kabrua flew over him, he snatched the sword from his hand. Kabrua landed in the sand, winded, and before he could react, Perditus had brought down the pommel of the sword down on his forehead, knocking him unconscious. Ackar rushed over to him, calling, “Yes! Now let’s get out of here, before they wake up!” Perditus nodded, and they ran away, in the direction of Vulcanus. A few hours later, Perditus and Ackar, who had begun so enthusiastically on their journey back to Vulcanus, were struggling just to remain on their feet. Ackar stopped walking, and collapsed into the sand. Perditus collapsed next to him, wheezing, “We- we can’t stop now, we don’t have far to go.” “I know,” Ackar responded between gasps, “reach into my pack, I brought an extra Thornax in case we ran into trouble and our troops needed more ammunition. Perditus pulled out the Thornax, then asked, “What do I do with it?” Ackar replied, “You still have Kabrua’s sword, right?” “Yeah.”“Throw the Thornax into the sky as high as you can, then, throw the sword up and hit it, setting it off, which should signal a Fire Tribe patrol.”Perditus, too weary to respond, readied himself, then threw the Thornax into the air, he quickly threw the sword up after it. Unfortunately, he missed the Thornax, and he scrambled to catch it before it impacted the ground, as that would probably set it off. He remembered just in time to dodge the sword, and stepped out of the way as it stabbed into the ground. He tried once more, and this time it worked, and he collapsed on the ground, unconscious. Ackar managed to retain consciousness long enough to see a Fire Tribe patrol come hurrying over moments later, then he fell into the black pit of unconsciousness. Days later, Ackar and Perditus were sitting outside a military hospital in Vulcanus, their wounds bandaged. Ackar had learned much from his experience, disobeying orders was only to done to save a life, and, unfortuneatly, his actions had not been done to save any lives, and had eventually led to the loss of some. Ackar would always remember this experience, and applied to himself from then on, which made him a better warrior, leader, and being overall. “These are some pretty serious wounds,” Perditus remarked, “The scars of war everyone who survives will bear.”“No,” Ackar replied, staring off into the distance. Ackar had learned much from his experience, disobeying orders should only be done to save a life, and, unfortuneatly, his actions had not been done to save any lives, and had eventually led to the loss of some. Ackar would always remember this experience, and applied it to himself from then on, which made him a better warrior, leader, and being overall. Perditus turned and looked at him quizzically.“No, Perditus, these will heal, even if they leave marks. The true scars of war, are the memories.” ____________________________________________________________________________________Did you enjoy it? What were the good things about it and the bad? How could it be improved? Feedback is appreciated, and thank you for reading.