Edited: 9/8/2014 3:19:14 AM PermalinkI can still remember her hands on my shoulder as she stared back at me. Dust from the Fallens' vehicles blew in the doorway as she leaned down to kiss my forehead. “Never forget that you are and always will be my greatest accomplishment, my proudest moment. I love you Valais, find peace in this life." "Mom please, I can't do this without you, I can't--" She starts to cut off my words, but a blast from the other wall interjects for her instead. "Go now. Follow the Wayward twins till they fork, take the one to the north and go until you find the sea. If the town still stands, there is a shipping port that will take you to Bastion... Keep heading north no matter what, don't stop for anyone, even me.” More shots tear apart our dome, the captain started toward what was left of our door. Up until that point in my life, I'd only known that guardians were soldiers of the Traveler... I'd only ever known that my father was one, but I had never seen what a Guardian looked like--hell, I hadn't a clue what made someone a guardian! I had never thought to ask my mother about her tattered robes, what the markings in the fabric meant. I never could have grasped that they were more than common attire; the Fallen pressed their advance, and at moment, my mother revealed to me what a guardian was for the first time in my life... Energy flows from her palms, her eyes blaze with purple light as she locks her gaze with the doorway and walks into the frame… Her hand pulls in some of the dust, the wind rushing through the door as energy spirals and churns in to an bright violet orb. “When the dust billows up, run. I will kill as many as I can.” Her tone is calm, she is tranquil and fluid in the way that she moves, leaning into position beside the door way. “You’re throwing away you’re life!” “I’m saving yours.” The captain draws closer as my mother reaches back with the churning orb of energy. Her arm slings it forward into the towering captain and collides with his shield. Dust erupts from all around us, drowning the Fallen in a veil of debris. I was frozen. All this time, my mother had been a warlock... Her foot kicked me through the door as she peaked around the doorway and fired into the cloud where the captain had been standing. “GO!” She cried, and my legs didn’t hold back this time. I could hear her gun fire splatter into the bodies of the Dregs, knocking them off their crafts and sending them to the dirt. I didn’t see it, but I felt it, a force rushing past me from behind me, biting at my heels. Mere inches from scraping my elbow rode a speeder which had been relieved its driver… She always told me that my father taught her how to shoot. She never mentioned just how well. The momentum carried the alien speeder into the desert, but decelerated and came to a stop a few yards in front of me. Behind me I could hear shouts and growling, something was chasing me from the cloud trying to snatch at me but I broke the curtain and mustered speed I never knew I had! Out in the sunlight, I sprinted to the vehicle fully exposed. The sound of gunshots and metal ripping into exoskeletons propels me faster. I fear that whatever is chasing me will catch and me but two dregs roll into the sunlight, landing one after the other into the ground. The vacant bike was only a few feet from me now. I spring onto the back of the craft and press on the right stirrup wrapped around my foot. The speeder abruptly strafes to the right—I’d never driven anything before! It wasn’t until I squeezed the handles harder that I started rushing forward, head ducking under the canopy with my eyes squinted. A shriek from behind me snatched my attention; even if the sound of the bike diminished the noise of my surroundings, there was no mistaking that cry. A quick glance over my shoulder showed the dust clearing… My mother knelt there in the dirt, the Fallen captain standing over her with one of his blades impaled in her back. Blood dribbled from her lips, I was yards away but I could still see the sanguine stain pooling into her collar. All over the ground corpses of the dregs laid lifeless. All but the Captain and a few limping Vandals were the only ones to survive. I was still outnumbered heavily even if I was armed. I turned the speeder back to face the group, but my mother calls back to me with words that rip into my chest like a gunshot. I fought the tears, sitting up to see what the beast was going to do. Her words were the last words I'd ever hear her say and I was frozen by them. They wrapped me in a sheet of ice so thick even my rage wasn't enough to chisel through the fear that sealed me in its layers. I remember fighting the impulse to rush the Captain, to run right through him with this bike and save my mother but it was too late... I shut my eyes. “You must survive Valais, I love--”, her words reached me right as I opened my eyes again. I watched the Captain’s other blade run over her throat. I wish I could say my mother didn't whimper, that she remained poised even in death but that haunting sound of air rushing out of her severed wind pipe trying to finish her sentence will never leave me. The only person I'd ever known was torn from this world yet I couldn't cry. I felt the tears, I swallowed the pain, but I couldn't bring myself to cry... Something died in me the moment she did. The Captain turned around and saw that I was there on a speeder just hovering in suspended disarray with what had happened. All four arms took the sides of her head--still gasping and mouthing the words--and ripped it from her spine. She didn’t scream this time, she didn’t cry out with whatever breath remained as that sinister vermin heaved her head toward me. A spindly finger from his throwing hand pointed back at me, my mother’s decapitated body fell forward. In our language, a bastardized string of words called out to me and the remainder of his soldiers turned to face me. “Him too!” the voice exclaimed. I didn’t freeze this time, I had to make survival become my creed now. The smaller flunkies chased after me on foot, but gave up once their legs failed. I drove further, faster along the banks of the Wayward Brothers, the image of my mother's lifeless body forever carved into my memories… I’d only learn days later by accident that these damned bikes had weapons. [i]Funny how ironic life can be. [/i] *** "But what about how you died Guar--Scythe?" "I'm still getting to that part..."
Not all of Us Are Heroes Part 1 “Guardian.” My ghost says, fluttering about as it watches me carve something into my left gauntlet. The blade of my knife etches a memory into the metal. I’m lost in thought, too busy to acknowledge it. “Guardian” it starts to say again “How did you—” “Dink. I've already told you. My name is Scythe. What do you want?” Dink, my ghost pauses for a moment, floating in front of me to look up into my visor with its glowing blue ocular sensor. “. When I found you where I did, you were little more than ash clinging to a skeleton... How did you die?” I raise my head and stake my blade in the dirt. My eyes peer up at the ghost.[i] Persistent little thing he is[/i]. *** My name is Valais Antwerp DuSade, but these days I go by “Scythe”. The Traveler chose for me to be a hunter; a wandering guardian who searches the wastes. We roam the outskirts of decaying cities from one dead world to the next. Things weren't always so dire though. A Golden age granted humanity the keys to the stars, the Traveler's light allowed us to flourish and explore. Centuries after the Traveler arrived, peace was ripped from our civilization... The Darkness had found Earth, war and death followed in its wake. The Fallen weren't the first of the Darkness' minions to try and extinguish the light of the Traveler, but they were the only ones we couldn't be rid of, gun toting roaches.[i]Vermin[/i]. I may be an awoken, but Earth is still my home. My race thrives out on the Reef at the edge of our solar system and my mother told stories about fleeing from the Darkness' power. She spoke of how my father sacrificed himself so she could escape while I was still an infant. Earth felt remote, tucked away and defended, a much better world to raise her child. My mother raised me to live off the land and hunt whatever beasts roamed the wild. Life seemed peaceful: tracking Fennec, planting with silt, and learning to shoot helped me to survive after she was gone. I will never forget her words though, what she used to tell me each night: "Valais, our world is one of chaos and mystery. There are dangers here more terrifying than the nightmares you face in your slumber. These terrors, will take your life and those of everyone you love. Your life is precious, don't throw it away for a glory that will outlive you... Walk away if you can, but fight only if you must." We lived in the desert, far away from the last great city, out in a place so hot even the Darkness dare not tread; [i]so we thought[/i]. Being in a remote area made things difficult, but there was a reason we chose to live out here. Metropolitan areas may have held heavier defenses, they were still under constant attack, which worried my mother. This didn't save us, Fallen still found our home. We made our home near a delta where two mighty rivers met, A clay house baked by the sun and shaped into a dome with a palm tree growing out of the center of it for support. This was our oasis nestled in a sea of sand. The rivers’ names may have been lost to history, but it didn't stop my mother from making fables about them. The one to the North she called the merciful sister, because she was the one who brought our crops. But one to the south she called the wayward brothers; miles north they forked into twins. I'd never been there as a child, but she told me that she remembered passing over it whenever our star ship still flew. It had stopped working because we had no way of powering it after its fuel cells depleted. The desert swallowed it years ago anyway. When I had reached the peak of my adolescence, Fallen raiders overtook our homestead. On that day, the mid-day sun caused the horizon to curdle into invisible ripples of heat. They rode out of the desert, at least two dozen of them, on the back of metal bikes that crossed a merciless ocean of sand. The wind whipped up, but it was not from the weather, no… The gusts came from their alien hover bikes. They screeched by, shouting and firing recklessly into the clay walls of our dwelling. Sunlight bled into our home through each crumbling orifice. This chaos fueled something in me that my mother was quick to snuff... I remember trying to go for her rifle, the one she taught me to hunt with, but she snatched it from me before I could lay my hands on it! She took cover behind one of the more fortified walls of the doorway and I crouched at her feet. I wanted to see for myself the Hell that had landed at our doorstep. I wanted to fight for our home with her. I saw them outside swarming like ravenous locusts as they made passes at our dome. One of them lunged from the back of his bike, the largest of the bunch... A Fallen Captain wearing a steel blue cloak brandished a pair of swords, marveling at his underlings and the discord they wrought. “Mother, please, I can help you defend our home.” “Valais, there won’t be anything left to defend, there are too many. You must forget about me now, but remember everything I taught you.” “Moth—“ “Take these. These are your family now.” From her hands came a knife, one with a wrapped handle. She told me only Hunters carried this knife. It used to be my father's. In her other hand was a copper colored revolver, the hand cannon she never touched, the one whose conviction fueled the wielder's rage for every life it took; a rage that allowed the wielder to strike harder with their fists without any inhibitions for a period of time.