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Riding Into War

Submitted By: Date: August 27, 2005, 05:54:20 AM Views: 2153

    The storm battered the Wave Serpent as it slid along the broken surface of ice and partially frozen liquid. The exterior of the craft shimmered as the energy-field absorbed blasts of ice and gusts of wind, the hull creaking gently as ice sloshed up against it at every turn.

    Inside the craft, there was no sound at all. There, three rows of seats had
been mounted, hung into the walls themselves by technicians before the exit through the Webgate, irreversibly dedicating the craft to a single group for the duration of the planetside drop.

    Eight of the seats were crafted stander-seats, where the occupant stood, held in place by carefully molded hooks and holders. In these stander-seats were uniform shapes, held securely in place as the Wave Serpent rocked across the frozen ocean, in over the glacier itself. Next to each form, resting by their right hand, was a shuriken pistol, embedded in the material, constantly charging, running diagnostics, the spirits of the holder constantly checking and rechecking the weapon for flaws and imperfections. Under the resting palm of each warrior's left had was the barrel of their primary weapon, the heat-bringer, similarly fitted to charge, check and recheck through the use of the craft's spirits. When the time came for use, these weapons would be ready. The warriors themselves were in a trance-like mediation, their eyes closed, body slowly rocking with the motion of the craft. If one could listen to their thoughts one would hear the Cry of War in each and every one of them, equally wild and loud. In this state their bodies slowly tensed over the period dictated by the strategic planner before their exit from the Webgate. When the time came for them to step from the craft, their bodies would be at their best; strong, fast, rested, ready. The personally molded pieces of armor they wore didn't clatter as the craft shot in over the glacier, down a steep bank and into a fissure, down under the bridges of ice, leading up to the plateau.

   The ninth seat was a different stander-seat. The occupant was suspended a hand's breadth over the floor, and hung there, his eyes open, alert, inside the helmet. The visor circled through numerous runes every second, displaying the course of the battle as it had transpired up until now, what status and position the Host was in now, and how it was planned, or rather, predicted to go. The mind of the ninth warrior was a tumbling miasma of hundreds of such battles, patterns of runes flying passed, and death, so much death. All of this was covered with the Cry of War which echoed through the mind of the Exarch, louder than through any of the others in the craft. The weapon of the Exarch was not in a holder, but held in his own hand, resting across his legs; a long, slender lance-like weapon, smoldering with quiet heat, crackling silently to itself as it settled into the firing-modes it had been set to. It would soon reap a rich harvest of melted metal and permacrete, seared flesh and bubbled ceramic armor.

   The final seat in the serpent was a bland seater, fitted to the back wall and covered in wraithbone runes. The runes slowly moved as the consciousness of the occupant drifted. The runes on the occupants robe and armor also shifted as her mind wandered the craft, the journey, the past, the present, and touched upon the future. Slung behind the seat was a clumsy-looking belt with a wide scabbard and holster, along with ammunition-binders, rations, and other trinkets. These were not important. The occupant would rather have left them back at the Gate, but it could not. It would even had shed its armor, if possible, but it was not. This was war.

   The Farseer rested her mind on the coiled beast that was shining, burning, from the mind of the Exarch, and panned the minds of the warriors. All were ready, and the Farseer smiled inside her helmet. Runes moved in there as well, telling her of the battle, and about the thoughts of the crew. Fleeting thoughts touched her mind as groups of Jetbikes and Vypers slid passed, unseen on the other side of ice-walls. An impression of great height almost made the mind of the Farseer swirl as a group of Swooping Hawks passed overhead.

   Runes scrolled by, and the hands of the Farseer rested on the buckles of the seat. She was the only one buckled in, as all the others were held in place by their seat. This enabled them to rest in a way she never could, and also allowed them to deploy faster once the Wave Serpent slowed down.

   Fewer and fewer runes scrolled by, noting the countdown to deployment. The Farseer opened her eyes, and looked into the eyes of the Fire Dragon opposite her. His eyes were open to, and unlike the potter who had started back at her when they left the gate, these eyes were the eyes of a warrior; hard, calculating, relentlessly cold. The Cry of War echoed through all their minds now, and the Farseer pitied them, slightly. Runes scrolled by in groups of four. Three. Two. A single rune, and all was silent, and bright. The Warriors rushed out, followed by the Farseer. There was a War to fight.

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