JAG18 Posted February 14 Share Posted February 14 March 11, 3,971 A.D. Planet of Dredwind Giozann Forest The thin man ran through the trees. A jagged tree limb tore through the sleeve of his uniform and left a red mark on his arm. Branches closed in on him on all sides as he flailed his arms wildly in front of him to clear a path. Terrifying growls and barks came from the creature following close behind. A light appeared a little ways ahead. The man hoped it was a way out. Emerging from the forest he found himself in a clearing large enough to fit five men standing arms outstretched from each end. A quick glance over his shoulder and he caught a glimpse of it. A large canine-like beast, covered in silver fur. Its head bore four piercing red eyes and below them a long tongue sneaking its way out between giant fangs. With each leap it took it covered ground it would have taken the man three or four strides to do the same. Crossing the clearing until he was at the end of it and unwilling to reenter the maze of trees he instead gripped a branch and hosted himself up. Not stopping at the first limp he continued to the next. This is as far as had gotten when he looked down to see the predator burst out of the forest. Quickly spotting its quarry the thing pounced across the clearing and with one more leap mounted the tree trunk. “Heel!” The beast halted at its master’s command. Said master entered the clearing clothed in a heavy coat that hovered off the forest floor. The animal returned to his side and then turned to eyeing its prey with its four eyes. Three other men joined The Huntsman, a gangly man carrying a rifle and sporting a fluffy mane, a man will less height, but twice the bulk wielding two knives, and a stockier man garbed in a purple jacket made of the skin of some scary animal and topped with a fur collar. This last hunter strolled to the base of the tree and shouted up at the man perched on its limb, “Come on down Jack! You ain’t got nowhere left to run!” “How do you know my name?” “They gave us a list with all your names.” “Who?” “Who do you think you idiot?” said the hunter with the mane, “The people that hired us to kill you and your friends!” Their leader continued, “Nothing personal kid, but the Utopian government wants you dead for desertion. It’s not like we got anything against your lack of patriotism in fact some of us kind of feel sorry you were unlucky enough to be from one of those countries that still has conscription, but either way me and my associates are getting paid to put you in the ground so the only question is how ‘cause ain’t no one gonna save you now.” The hound reeled and growled softly in the direction the group had just come from. “We have uninvited guests Ulric,” The Huntsman said. Ulric didn’t respond. He left his ikakalaka sword relaxing on his shoulder, while the other hunters readied their weapons. The sun hung high in the sky punishing those below with its heat. Insects chirped loudly and for a time this was the only sound in the clearing until Ulric got his first glance at them. He chuckled, “Looks like we got ourselves a ghost.” The ghost in question, Captain TK, entered the clearing clad in silver and blue armor the bulk of which added to his already imposing stature. He towered over everyone else in the clearing save for one of the other new arrivals a yellow robot called Jasper. Joining them was a shorter man with dark hair that matched his clothes and carrying a longsword. This was Ghost. Their final teammate whose less imposing frame hardly filled out his brown duster was Jess Carter. He immediately leveled his two guns at the hunters. “Cease hostility!” TK and Ulric said in union. This puzzled the captain. “I’ve heard it a million times law bringer,” Ulric said, “Only you guys can’t be Law Bringers because they don’t exist anymore.” “Times have changed,” TK said, “Now lower your weapons—“ “Or what,” Ulric said, “You’ll arrest us for…” Ulric left the question hanging and Jess finished it. “How about attempted kidnapping and/or murder,” the gunslinger said. Jack was shaking on the tree limb overhead. “Are you alright sir?” TK shouted up to him. “No!” The hunters eyed the group angrily, save for the steely Ulric who kept his uncaring demeanor. “Or maybe you’d like to tell us what happened to all those men we found at that campsite back there. You know the ones with knife wounds and teeth marks or is there another Vulpine Terror Hound running around in these woods?” Jess said. The Huntsman glared while his hound growled and bared its teeth. “That’s enough Jess,” TK said. “Jess?” Ulric said, “Not Julius or Megaronides? I thought all you Law Bringers had silly names in that stupid language no speaks anymore.” TK grimaced, “I’m Captain Tacitus Kabulus and—“ “Ah, now that’s more like it.” Ulric said, “I used to be quite familiar with all your silly names, I read them on bounties, on the badges I stripped off dead bodies, and I heard them shouted by agents just before I killed their friends.” TK’s teammates shot sideways glances at their captain. He didn’t reply right away and instead tightened his grip on his kanabo club. “Oh did I strike a nerve? I don’t know if you heard, but there are no more Law Bringers in The Republic so why don’t you just turn around and pretend you didn’t see anything.” Silence hung in the air as the two sides starred each other down. The groups were lined up, close enough that they could each stretch out and touch the person to their right and left and the people on the ends could touch the trees encircling them. The sunlight reflected off Ulric’s sword. Then the pin dropped. A gunshot shattered the silence. It was followed by another. The bullet from the first ricocheted off TK’s Arcadian Iron helmet. The knife wielding hunter produced a blinding laser from his sleeve. Jess cried out and fell to the ground covering his eyes with his arm. The hunter lunged, but his blade was blocked by Ghost’s. An exchange followed and then another. Finally, the hunter retreated into the trees with Ghost right behind him. Jasper advanced, but the terror hound leapt onto the robot. Its claws scratched his armor plating. Jasper gripped the animal to throw it off, but the beast wouldn’t let go. Ulric charged the captain. He blocked the sword swing with his club and then riposte. The two dueled in the middle of the clearing while the ringing of clashing blades coming from the direction where Ghost and his foe wandered off grew fainter by the second. At the same time, the reticent Huntsman edged closer to the trees. “Maw! To me!” he said. Even while evading the law bringer’s blows Ulric spotted the beast leap off the robot and return to its master. “Huntsman you coward!” Ulric shouted. “I didn’t sign up to fight law bringers!” he said as he and his beast fled. “Jasper after them!” TK said while swiping aside a sword swing. The machine with claws marks on its chest plate did as it was ordered. Ulric sidestepped while blocking another strike. He countered, but the agent’s pauldron caught it. The fight moved out of the clearing with the pair still evenly matched. “Hey!” Jack said from his perch. Below him the gunslinger crouched defensively. “What about me?” “You got yourself up there you can get yourself down!” Jess said. Jack didn’t like the idea, but he had no choice. He climbed down one foot at a time, leapt off and landed on the ground with a thud. Rushing to the gunslinger’s side he asked, “How can I help?” “You sure you can?” Jess said. “I can fight.” “Then go right ahead,” Jess said with one eye open and the other closed. “Who should I go after?” “I trust Ghost’s fighting skills so why don’t you go and see if the captain needs help I’ll follow as soon as I can,” Jack looked around, “I need a weapon. Give me one of yours,” Jess pulled his guns away, “Not a chance kid, go get the one off the hunter I shot. He won’t be needing it anymore.” TK struggled against the bounty hunter. They maneuvered through the tight maze of trees swiping each other only for the other to deflect or dodge. The two danced around a tree. The captain swung downward. Ulric slid behind the tree. Popping out on the other side he slashed at the law bringer, but his gauntlet saved his fingers. “You know what I really hate about you law bringers?” Ulric said. “Would you just shut up already!” TK attacked causing Ulric to move in. He caught the agent’s hand. The captain tumbled backwards. The hunter sat atop the law bringer lying in the dirt. Ulric raised his blade. “Now you die!” Birds scattered at the gunshot screeching as they went. Ulric looked at his sword. It was now half its size after having had a bullet pass through it. TK grabbed the hunter’s shoulder and with a roll was now on top. He raised his gauntleted fist and brought it down on Ulric’s face. “About time Jess, it was just a laser,” he said. Smoke left the rifle barrel. Jack held it with wide eyes. TK approached his rescuer. He towered over Jack. “Nice shot kid, what’s your name?” “Jack Rayder” he said meekly. “Captain Tacitus Kabulus,” he said smiling, “But everyone calls me TK.” “Well, everyone calls me Lucky Jack.” “Do they now? Alright, let’s go find my squad.” They found Jess on his way to save them and returned to the clearing together. Ghost arrived at the same time with his prisoner in tow. The agent handcuffed the hunter to a nearby tree limb. The captain plopped the unconscious body of Ulric on the ground. The captain pulled his personal digital assistant out of a pouch. “Jasper, what’s your status?” he said. “I’m on my way back to the clearing captain. Unfortunately, The Huntsman and his hunting animal escaped.” “Alright, just get back here as quick as you can,” TK said. The captain put away his device and addressed the group, “Major Adeodatus will be pleased to hear Ulric Bek’s reign of terror is finally at an end.” “How do you all know that creeps’ name?” Jack said. “He’s a kind of boogeyman among Law Bringers,” TK said. “Plus he was one of those lunatics that did The Trelaxar Massacre,” Jess said. Jack didn’t know who The Law Bringers were or what The Trelaxar Massacre was. “The Law Bringers are an Order of heroes dedicated to justice. Once upon a time it was the greatest peace keeping and security organization in the republic,” TK said. “Then what happened?” Jack said. TK grew sullen and Ghost answered instead, “It is a long and painful story.” “You not from around here or something?” Jess said. “No, I’m from Utopia.” “You’re far from home,” Ghost said. “What are you doing all the way out here?” “My friends and I were Utopian military fighting in Axos. About a month ago after a battle we took prisoners. Our officers ordered us to execute them, but we refused. We deserted and have been on the run ever since.” Jack remembered his friends and turned to ask the captain. “My friends did any of them…” TK shook his head, “I’m sorry Jack.” Silence came over the clearing once more. “Don’t worry, it’ll be ok, we can get you amnesty and then find you some people who will help you find a new home,” TK said. Jack straightened himself, puffed out his chest and said, “I don’t want that, I want to join you guys.” No one expected him to say that and the captain didn’t know how to respond. The man furthered his cause, “I want to fight for a cause I believe in.” “And what exactly do you have to offer besides being quote unquote ‘lucky’?” Jess said. “I can fly, I was—am a pilot.” “Unfortunately, we don’t have anything for you to fly,” Ghost said. “There’s the transport me and my buddies were using, we stashed it in the nearby town. It’s yours.” “Alright, the kid gets my vote,” Jess said, “Especially if it means no more hitching rides on cattle ships.” TK agreed to at least give the ship a look before deciding to let Jack join the team. After a few minutes, Jasper returned and the group trudged through the forest with their prisoners in tow. **** The sun bathed the town in its last rays as it edged its way behind the mountains. The group arrived at a large garage in the middle of town. “Freddie, said it drew too much attention so we had to ditch it,” Jack said as he walked over to the panel on the side of the garage. The automatic door slowly rose and the law bringers got an eyeful of the thing. The ship was a large helicopter with two massive tilted rotors. A chain gun peaked out from under the cockpit and it had a giant decal of a penguin on the side of it. “We call it The Fat Penguin,” Jack said. The squad was impressed with the ship if not necessarily the name. Now all eyes fell on the captain. “I can’t promise you anything without talking to the major, but for now welcome to the team,” TK said and outstretched his hand. The ecstatic Jack gripped it in an instant. **** The ship sat on the side street outside the garage with its ramp down. Jasper loaded a cargo crate into the ship’s storage, turned mechanically, descended the ramp where another crate was waiting for him and then repeated the process. Inside the cockpit Jack checked the instruments, while Jess reclined in the co-pilot seat with a gun in one hand, a cloth in the other, and his feet on the dashboard. Outside, TK and Ghost stood with their backs to the cockpit. They alternated in reciting something and both took a knee for a moment. “Hey Jess, what are the captain and Ghost doing down there?” Jess leaned up to look out the cockpit. “They’re saying The Angelus,” he said and reclined back down. “What’s that?” “It has something to do with religion.” “What religion?” “Christianity,” Jess said a bit annoyed to be explaining something like this, “They don’t have that where you’re from?” “No,” Jack said and then quickly focused on a panel, “We have our own religion out on Utopia.” Jess scrubbed his gun, “That’s how it goes, but listen if you want to know more you should ask Ghost.” “Is he the only one who cares?” Jess shot the pilot a quick glance and then straightened himself, “It’s not that the rest of us don’t care, I care, TK cares, Jasper cares because he’s programmed to, but it’s just the ninja cares more.” Footsteps on the ramp bought the conversation to an end. TK entered the cockpit and gave Jack the go ahead for takeoff. After reaching altitude, Jack hit a button and the stereo in the cockpit came on. Jess took his feet off the dash and leaned forward to read the screen, “Is this what passes for music on Utopia?” he said. The pilot chuckled, “No, this music is illegal where I come from—Freddie would smuggle in what he said was the best music in universe,” the smile disappeared from his face, “This song was his favorite.” Jess glanced at the captain silently reading his PDA in the seat behind Jack, “I guess the grass is always greener,” Jess said before leaving the two alone. TK took the co-pilot seat. “Before we get to the nearest spaceport, I need you to fill out some forms,” he said. “Then I’m a law bringer?” Jack said eagerly. TK smiled, “You’re getting there kid.” The Penguin flew over the small town headed towards the mountains. TK’s Squad was formed. The End. 2 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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