Gesshru (Arbon's attempt at Flash fiction)

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Re: Gesshru (Arbon's attempt at Flash fiction)

Postby arbon » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:34 pm

My question for this chapter: "What is the most interesting thing you'd want to put in a fantasy world, while under the expectation that people from a sci-fi world are going to find it?"


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I am now proud to present both a patreon page, and a published Novel. For the next several weeks I am going to be releasing one chapter of Gesshru every week, for free, just as I had before. The only monetization involved is for those who do not wish to wait. The rest of the chapters are already written, I’m just notoriously picky about when I consider something “Finished” enough to release it. Technically there are two options:

Patreon: --- www.patreon.com/arbon
For as low as $1 USD per month you can see not only the entire novel, but also everything else I’ve been too cowardly to show the world at large. I can’t promise everything will be to your liking, or even similar to Gesshru I’m afraid.

Amazon: --- https://www.amazon.com/Gesshru-Esca...../dp/154327255X
CreateSpace: --- www.createspace.com/6954737
For the physical copy, and owning something you can hold in your hands is the only reason to purchase from these outlets. Priced at $15 USD it turns out making a large novel costs a fair bit just to print.

For first time readers and old friends seeing this update, here’s hoping you enjoy the ride. It’s going to be a fun few months of consistent updates.
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Chapter 8

My name is Freya Savitri, and I am a hero to mice.

No hesitation!

NONE! I sat up in a bolt that appeared to alarm the rather vocal rodent worming its way into my helmet. One arm scooped around the fluttercat to hold it close to my chest as one might discipline a child or pin down an unruly pet. The feline didn’t appreciate this any more than the Gesshru, but at least the cat was quiet about it.

My other arm reached over a shoulder and pinched around the little guy’s legs. No way in hell was this amateur getting to press all my buttons, and there was no way on earth I’d give up this chance at escape.

“W-whnooononono Nooooo! Rusted core you idiot, let me in!” I heard the squeaks, the tiny thing dangled between rough gauntlets. Smooth plastic held tight around his waist and leaving the head and ears to fall down. I could see his tail lashing left and right. The horns, the hips, the fluff, it was obviously a male even if his voice wasn’t a dead giveaway.

“Phrrraah?” The cat thing writhed in my grip, but it wasn’t going anywhere. Claws useless against the armor and wouldn’t have hurt my skin much either. It appeared alarmed, and probably confused. I tightened my grip to keep it stable.

A glance around the compound as I staggered to my feet. Tents were knocked over with a small blue fluttercat knocking aside the leaves and pawing at any Gesshru it saw hiding within. One of the building compounds was in shambles, seed spilling into a pile and broken crates snapped into splinters. Four of the otter-cat-things were flying away with a catch either in paw or elsewhere, and all of the ones without injury seemed to remain. Six in total, or five if one deigned to discount the one in my grip.

One in the air, hovering at about my head level with an awkward and ungainly flight but eyes clearly focused on the darting prey either shooting back or running for cover.

Two were in the supply pile batting aside boxes and smashing all of the weapons. Wait, the needle throwers? Yes, they were deliberately destroying plastic and rubber weapons, the only things the Gesshru had which seemed to harm them. Paws crunching down, or teeth chomping into the frame before spitting the shards out to try again.

Which left two who were at ground level and menacing massed hoards of armed troops. One by the tent looking for those who’ve hidden away, and one in the middle of the walkway that kept pawing at a wall of spear toting Gesshru, swiping them off-balance and knocking them to the ground, stomping on those who’ve tried to reload a thrower and then dodging back from the ones who rushed forward to stab.

“Let me down, gaah! Rusted Core you max, I’m supposed to pilot you. The head, idiot! The head, put me on your head!” little guy in my hand just wouldn’t stop shouting, and with a glance over to the fluttercat in my arms I momentarily wondered if I should feed him to the thing. It was more adorable, and as much as I might find Gesshru as a species cute the military of the Gashn empire didn’t deserve to be representatives of the race.

If this were Tasgal I wouldn’t have any hesitation, but the fact he was just a soldier made me think to set him down instead. Hand twisting, a smooth motion, and he was on the ground while this yowling and purring mess of fluff and claws was trying to escape my hold.

A look around the battlefield. Mostly trying to spot where Doth ended up, and if I could see her at all.

The Kittycat otter thing fighting a small army that was rapidly becoming smaller?

Five with spears ready, six more trying to load and cock a thrower, another four who weren’t armed at all. Splat! The creature simply places a paw above one of the spearmen gesshru and smushes down, forcefully but with deliberate care. Suddenly there were four on their feet and with weapons ready.

They charged forward, one jabbing blindly at the air without much success, another rushing between the legs only to get batted aside. Two more who stabbed at the exposed arm and struck true. Only to despair, or maybe rage, when their tiny slivers of plastic didn’t pierce the skin.

It’s head came down, jaws opened, and both Gesshru were mashed together with a teeth on either side, hip to hip with their heads and arms sucked in like noodles. A fairly tight fit, but once lifted off the ground there wasn’t much they could do beyond kick wildly.

The same spearman who missed before wasn’t faring any better now, and the one who’d been batted to the side now saw how little he mattered in this fight when the fluttercat just lifted its foot up to avoid a stab. And promptly stomped back down, forcing the dexterous little thing to dive out of the way.

Two moments of that fight left it easy to predict the outcome. The ones smashing crates all seemed to … wait, no, they did have Gesshru with them. One had a soldier under its foot, the other was basically sitting on a soldier. Neither had Doth’s uniform. And even through the plastic of my visor I could see their stomach’s bulging, rippling with movement from within as kicks or shoves stretched the fur. These ‘souleaters’ didn’t appear to mind overmuch.

And then their lips. Yes, the cheeks and lips were bulging too, there were the shapes of fists or faces, what might have been a thigh trying to force past the cat monster’s jaws. In the two moments I looked they weren’t having much success.

One Gesshru managed to poke it’s arm out and grasp at the air, while the otter cat simply adjusted its mouth, dipped a tongue out, and casually brought the soldier back inside. Much to the panicked screaming of the poor rodent getting a single glimpse of outside before the mouth closes back up.

There were a number of charred Gesshru on the ground, two … no, three. I think there’s a fourth one? But I could spot at least fifteen blackened scorch marks where either a soldier was hit and then cleared away, or where one of the souleaters missed its target and hit only dirt.

“Psshrmraaa!” the one in my arms got antsy after the handful of seconds I held it, clawing and struggling. It couldn’t move my arms at all, its clawing scrapes were just leaving marks on the armor all down my chest and forearm. But still I saw an oddity in that it wasn’t random flailing, it was maneuvering it’s legs to push, it was trying to work it’s arms between mine for leverage. Shoving it’s head toward the armpit and hoping it could squeeze past my guard.

These things were either natural born grapplers or they had some level of close combat training.

“Maaax!” a voice shouted near my feet, but I ignored it. “You Starflung man-eater get down here and let me in your head!”

Taking a step toward the tent, my free arm pulled to the back of my skull and quietly snapped the panel back into place. It closes with a click, and suddenly no stray rodent with grabby paws could take control away from me.

Freedom?

The one by the tents was playing a rather literal game of cat and mouse, save rather than allow the things a proper hiding spot it was tearing open tents, lifting them off the ground or sideswiping them. The moment a Gesshru was revealed it would dart over to the next tent and try to lose it’s pursuer, while the ottercat lunged forward to snatch it up.

Amusingly the Gesshru seemed to be winning this one, despite their lack of any keen senses they were very small and very quiet when they had to be. I saw flickering movements of things darting about, saw the cat paw and swipe to reveal nothing. I know I saw the flash of a Gashn uniform standing full in the open and torn between where to hide.

But thankfully for him he’d chosen to dive beneath a clawed up bedroll just before the cat turned its head, passing him by.

Stomp. Boom. And then the expected jolting start, this feline thing wasn’t at all expecting something larger to pop behind it. A turn to face me, it’s eyes wide and sparkling, I stared down and ignored the howling puurs.

“Phrraah?! Prhmap Psrrhh.” The one in my arms scrambled to break free.

“Aamrphhs? Prrruuush pshssss” Came back the hissed mewling, a cat and escaping gas all mixed with purring squeaks.

I knelt down to look closer and saw that the tent kitty had a very active stomach, but nothing in its paws or mouth. If Doth was eaten I don’t think there’s much I could do, no way in hell was I going to chase down every single one of these aliens and pump their stomach until they all barf. If it was anything other than a Gashn soldier I’d consider it, but if I don’t run away then I might never get a chance to do so again!

Something flew overhead.

“MANEATER! Hellmpph!” and of course that’s the moment I heard her.

The flying one? It zipped by, wings buffeting around my helmet and dust spraying over the plastic with little tinks and tack noises. I saw the markings of her bright grey uniform, Doth’s hand and part of her face struggling to pull free from the fluttercat’s jaws while it was doing its best to keep her restrained. Truth be told it didn’t have to try very hard.

“Yeah, yeah, I see the problem miss Doth.” I squeaked back as politely as I dared, spinning in place to watch the circling cat-thing. It floated near my head, then within arm’s reach. First looking to my face and the visor, then looking down to the one I held pinned.

“Phsrraaah!”

“Prruushh?”

Or so their conversation went, leaving me wondering if the sounds were exact enough for me to distinguish with practice. Free arm out, I reached up to grab the over-curious souleater.

A flutter of alarm, a miss as my arm swipes overhead, and then enraged hissing. It’s lips curled back to show teeth, and behind those rows of pearly white predator fangs was a very wet, very upset rodent. Two of them actually. They put both paws to their ears and curled up in response to the loud noises thundering around them, one looked to be either crying or wiping drool from its nose while Doth turned to stare at me with hope.

Eyes narrowed, I hissed back. Every fluttery otterbat thing flinched away. The one in my arms … ohshit. Started to glow?

PzzzAAAP!

A surge of lighting, the smell of ozone, it’s paws shone with a vibrant blue and the burst of plasma washed over my chest. I threw my hands back and lobbed the thing more out of shock than injury, the attack didn’t get through my armor. Melting part of the plastic smooth and smearing out the rough angles, I now had the shape of a paw just under my rib-cage burned in.

“Prrshaa! Phrruu, phasssruuu!” the one on the ground shouted out through a mouth full of Gesshru. Three pairs of legs sticking out now and two more that were pinned by the weight of it just stepping down. The one at my own feet took off, leaping backward and deciding that fighting me wasn’t worth looking for a catch, and the one in the air …

Shit.

It was flying away.

“No. You get back here. I’m not leaving without that pilot.” I squeaked plainly and strode forward, stepping over tents and getting closer to the bat. It’s mouth closed, and it was some ten feet off the ground.

“MAaaaax! It’s my destiny to pilot you, get back heeere!” that lone gesshru who pressed my buttons was now standing on the side of a mud wall, waving it’s arms around and shouting. I didn’t care for the parallels between him and me, for one because I was actually a fair bit more dangerous.

The two crunching weapons kept at their job, glancing over at the three now skyward and the one focused on me.

I casually tapped into the mud wall with my foot, the Gesshru wanna be pilot stumbling over his feet but not falling down. Cracks formed, tiny pebbles of broken mud and brick tumbled over the side. Scoop, scoop, collecting up ammo while sidestepping out of the little fort itself.

The flying things weren’t going very far, just circling and keeping out of arms reach.

And then by the time I’d turned my head up to look … oh. I couldn’t tell them apart. Three of them were yellow, one was blue, and one was orange. But then the one fighting on the ground was also orange, and the two stomping supplies and crushing food were yellow. Which one had Doth again?

“H-hhel – p-pleass!” her voice, along with part of her face. Still fighting to break free and only making it part of the way, the flying souleater extended its tongue out and curled up around her face as a means to drag her back inside. Casual and effortless, treading this as much like playing with one’s food as anything else.

I wasn’t quite as casual in throwing a small rock. A smack, a squeak from the flying toothy otter, and it flinched back from a bruising pain. I … I rather expected it to fall from the sky, or stop flying, or be almost dead or something, rubber bands and plastic toothpicks could hurt the things after all. Why was it still moving?

My own eyes suddenly went wide as all four of them opened up a counter-attack and suddenly I was playing a game of plasma dodgeball. The one from the ground lifted a paw and blasted me from the side, it’s own burst tearing open a hole in my armor and burning into the skin at my flank. A hiss in shock, melted plastic dripping down the outside of my thighs as the blast made everything splash outward. Superficial scarring on the skin itself.

Doth’s captor was a small bit disoriented itself, but not enough to throw off its aim. I ducked, and ended up taking the blast directly on the shoulder, all but leaning into the shot. A sizzle, cracking pops as plastic boils away, but while it clearly left a mark the armor still held.

Snugggles circling around leased a burst dead-center toward my face as if trying to get revenge for my rather forceful hugs, but I brought my arm up to block. Sizzling, bubbles bursting away, the armor held but was visibly deformed. Drops of plastic fall to the ground to cool on desert rocks.

And the tent stalker took it’s shot last, aiming at the other leg with a burst of lightning. It’s really hard to dodge when it’s so many attacks coming from so many different angles alright? I saw plastic not just melt, but splash away. Feeling the burns at my thigh as electricity jolts through, feeling the heat and the sparks. It was like being shot by a firework, it usually won’t kill you but it’s not pleasant either.

My armor wasn’t making me as immune as I’d hoped, and I wasn’t going to last if they could keep this up. Rocks still in hand I turned back to the battlefield with those Gesshru soldiers now watching the proceedings. I’d distracted all of the combatants, if they wanted to chase off the weapon smashers then let them be my guest. A leap back over the mud wall. Well, hop more than a leap. Boots crunch into the dirt, snapping still intact tents. I practically dove by the storage building eyes wide and scanning to keep all of my assailants in clear view.

Another zap! The one from the ground fluttered up skyward and shot off a bolt in passing, the glowing blue plasma washing over my shoulder and splashing out an opening, once more a painful sizzle, the burns stinging against the skin.

Poor Doth seemed more than helpless in that ottercat’s maw, it too swooped past and delivered a shot directly to my face. The plastic visor splashed away, the jolt tingled my nose and left my hair smelling of tar. Everything was numb now, and it was a little hard to see.

The third one by the tent jumped up and unleashed a blast. No! I dove for cover behind the building, dollhouse sized through it was, and saw the beam sailing past like the shot from a tazer. Fuuuuck.

Mister snuggles just swooped overhead, following my movements and trying to get behind. Doublefuck.

I grabbed the roof of the building. In a single move I tore it up from the foundations, wood splintering away and mud brick crumbling as it’s pushed against the edge. A feverish grip as somehow I had almost as much reason to be panicked by these things as the Gesshru did.

The hugging one fired a beam at me, and probably would have gotten into one of the holes in my armor if I didn’t leap away and throw this makeshift shield in front of it. A weak zap, a splash of energy, and the alarmed squeakity screams of numerous Gashn soldiers who all had new reason to fear the possibility I might crush them in hopping about. It’s not as if these buildings, their only cover, would be a safe hiding spot.

The tent stalker made another flyby and zapped the ground behind me, my footwork fast enough to avoid at least one. The actual fighter now having to loop back around, seemed to be struggling with its mouth filled with three Gesshru. Having to take time to level it’s flight off and wincing at some of the kicks and shoves bulging it’s cheeks, both paws entirely pre-occupied holding the meals inside.

Doth’s captor was flying away …

“Oh fucking no you don’t, you can have all the others but that one’s mine!” I threw a rock. The creature attempted to swerve aside, and the rock hits it’s chest with a hard lump. The thing was knocked about somewhat but didn’t break its flight, content to keep putting distance between itself and me. Ohfuckno it was fast.

The poor hugged cat-thing decided to try and pounce rather than zap, rushing up to meet me in face to face combat. I was startled enough by the flying lunge that it almost got to my neck and tried to close jaws over my armor. Instead I turned my plank of wood around and swatted it out of the air. A crunch, a whimpering purr noise, and it leveled off to resume flight somewhere around waist level.

As much as I’d like to assume a weak hit, really it was just light wood.

The soldier carrying ottercat decided the best way to hold all three would be to pluck one out and hold it between two paws, it’s flight smooth and gaining height.

The two smashers appeared to have finished their work and now left off the ground, gaining altitude and taking off back toward the forest. I didn’t care about them.

The tent stalker loosed another beam that I failed to avoid, slipping past my guard and hitting near the ribs. Plastic looked deformed, but the armor remained and I didn’t feel a thing.

Hugging souleater outright turned and fled, up and up and far away, tail all but between its legs. The soldier grabber wasn’t able to fight well, hands too full, and took off to the forest. Tent stalker tried another shot and almost got me, a head sized glob of plasma hurling at alarming speed. I leapt away from it and shoved the wooden plank in its path, only to watch the roof I’d been hiding behind burst apart in splinters and charcoal. I could smell the burning wood, I could feel the pulped shards splashing against my open face. Visor half melted, the helmet mis-shapen.

It didn’t exactly hurt, but fuuuuck I did not want to take that hit to the face.

Another thrown rock as it’s all I had, this time aimed at the tent stalker. I was catching on that they leave when they had to, either not wanting injuries to pile up or because they acquired their quota. But sneaky little ottercat twisted in the air, dodging my rock. Everyone else was running away, just the two of us.

It flew close overhead and fired another blast strait down, but it’s movement threw off its aim and I didn’t have to dodge. The bright shiny beam washing over this fort like a laser as I stood next to its path. The Gashn soldiers screamed, but to my surprise I heard a coherent shout.

“FIRE!” the general who’d greeted us was still in this fight. “Protect the max, she’s fighting for all of us! Don’t let her get hit!”

As much as I wanted to say ‘too late buddy’ a hail of needle thin plastic darts were hurled past. None hitting my armor, and all aimed at the dangerous little catmonster. And to my surprise, despite it folding it’s wings up and twisting away to throw them off, every single dart struck home. Even ones fired after it was falling, a shattered force of only seven men managed to down the creature. And I saw it bleeding from multiple stabbing wounds after it crumpled to the dirt.

There was no cheering from the Gesshru. And a quick look to my left, toward the northern forests, all of the rest were escaping.

I leapt over the ruined smoldering of a building I helped destroy, easily clearing the entire compound. Being only the size of a child’s sandbox this wasn’t much of a feat. Still dripping armor as melted slag leaves puddles in my wake, I ran just to close distance, but they were all so much faster than me.

A throw, a desperate throw, but the first rock missed. And so I kept throwing, kept running. Too far away, too high, they were moving too fast! But no, I threw again. And again. My heart burned and my lungs pounded, the burn marks along my legs and shoulder were starting to bleed. It wasn’t serious, was it? I didn’t care. Like my ancient ancestors using the most economy efficient weapons, I threw another rock.

I didn’t see where it landed.

I just saw the ottercat fall from the sky, landing in the dirt with a fwump.

“I’m coming Doth.” I shouted to no one, looking back to see the base was almost forty yards behind me and the cat things were about fifty yards ahead. I ran, I didn’t care how much it stung I just ran. I didn’t care about the heat or the lack of water, for better or worse I could actually feel wind on my face this time. So glorious to have even a part of that visor removed.

Why was I even bothering right now, this was someone I haven’t been with for more than an hour and right here, right now, was the best chance I’ve had to simply run away in months now. Was I really going to pass this up?

Doth. Another name on the long list of corpses. People I cared about, people I remembered, and people I would never see again. Could I live with myself if she died screaming. If there was a chance for me to help her and I refused to take it? Was I selfish enough to assume that my escaping meant more to me than her life. Or if her religion was to be believed, her very soul?

Another rush of steps, forty yards away. Soon to be a bit over thirty yards, almost there. The otterbats noticed one of their own was down, swooping back around, some stalling and others just taking a wide banking turn. I ran, and we were at twenty yards. I threw another rock, not even at any of the cat things just in their general direction. Watching it smash against the dirt and send most of them in a panic. The huggy one with a bruise on its head kept flying, I guess well aware that if it took another hit it might not be able to fly home. Which left four, swooping down to try and grab their fallen ally.

I threw another rock, they startled and were distracted but it wasn’t enough to deter them. They each grabbed at its shoulders and strained to lift, wings flapping furiously to pull him into the air.

Ten yards away, I saw flashes of grey and brown and tan spilling from its mouth, getting halfway out while surrounded by a gaggle of their worst nightmare. I heard Doth, her voice a shout.

“Come on, push! You can make it, we’re almost free!”

“I can’t … I c-ca…” the other voice I could barely hear, but both were cut off by one of the yellow cat-things. Placing a paw to their friend’s lips and stuffing the mice back inside. They were about chest height two me, but I was on them. Five yards away, they were head height.

One yard and closing, I gave a burst of energy, a feverish leap. I grabbed at the downed fluttercat. Arms closed around it’s waist, rocks dropped in my haste. Plastic gauntlets tried to hold tight only to feel the awkwardness of slipping against a silky fur. The four bat things each held the other end and pulled as hard as they could.

For a moment I thought they’d actually tear him free, it felt as if I had to strain. They were certainly putting in serious effort, wide eyed and purr-squeaking, those who’s mouths weren’t too full to say anything. After a second or two of watching them try it became obviously apparent they each had as much strength as a kitten. Well, maybe a trained attack kitten.

I tugged my target close to my chest and waved a hand at all the other ones, not so much striking at them as shoving them away. Curling into a crouch to bear my whole weight around this one captor. My arms, the plastic armor, my body providing a shield so he’d be harder to grab.

“HSsss!” I made a sound that I thought they’d recognize, but the creatures were just confused. Well, alarmed and confused. I shoved my fingers into the cat things jaws, felt it resisting, and then pinched at its neck until the mouth opened.

“M-maneateramph Get us out, please!” Doth was about as terrified as Soto back at Ontal compound, and for exactly the same reason. This wasn’t just death in her eyes after all.

The look on her face as I chose her over simply escaping right now. This was worth it to see her relief. I could escape later, once she’s out of their mouths I can simply set the girl down and walk away without her able to do a thing to stop me. Rewards for kindness perhaps. Or just the vein hope that leaving observant people alive would instill some change in the Gashn. Either way my decision was made.

The fluttercat being held on its back wasn’t helping the two Gashn soldiers out, the throat was open and their legs were already halfway swallowed. The ottercat seemed to be keeping them free for some reason?”

I felt it’s stomach kick. Ah, that was the reason.

Too full already.

Well, sucks to be those guys, I’m not going to try and get them out. Doth winced back as my fingers forced their way between teeth, enamel scraping against plastic and my thumb shoving it’s tongue down. I’ve given a dog a pill before, but this was more like trying to reach inside and pull the pill back out while the dog was trying to swallow. Not exactly cat sized, these things had wide and deep throated maws.

A grip onto Doth’s shoulder, hard to get the position just right but she was hugging by finger for dear life.

“We’ll get you out Kepa, I swear. Just hold on!” Doth shouted, but the other soldier’s grip faltered. He fell down up to his chest.

A pluck and a pull, Doth was free, if screaming, and the jaws of the otterbat closed behind her. Doth, for all her worth, was placed right inside that gaping hole to my helmet and budged over to one side. Hah! The look on her face, coated in slobber, sick and tired, looking like she’s just crawled out of hell itself. And the look on her face said everything, for that short moment she feared I was going to eat her too.

Now to rescue the other one …

I felt claws digging into the armor of my arms, batcat things were trying to pull my grip away. A third one shoved it’s arms through the crack in my shoulder, doing its best to reach past and grab at my new snuggle prisoner with much too short a range. I know there was a fourth one around, but a quick glance told me I was still trying to hold onto its extra Gesshru, paws too full to really help.

My fingers went back to work with the gauntlets feeling more like a thick latex in this context. The teeth tried to stay closed. My finger slides against the pearly enamel, poking into its lips. I’m forced to take two hands, a thumb each on its upper and lower jaw, all five of these batcat things watching as I try to reach inside the mouth.

“Y-you c-came … c-came back?” Whoever this Gesshru was, he seemed surprised and suddenly hopeful. I guess he’s been through a rough day.

Gluck.

The ottercat made a purring noise, and with its mouth still open and my fingers reaching inside, swallowed. I saw the soldier slide down up past his shoulders. Up to his neck, only the head and horn ears poking past. I could see the lump of its feet jerking wildly within the fuzzy throat, we both could tell just how useless his screaming was.

I pinched my fingers around his head. There was a gacking noise, the cat alien must have been choking. I pulled, sliding this soldier out of the maw like some slick puddle of slime. Drool spilled past and the miserable creature was crying in my hands.

“Job done.” Is all I had to say before letting the now spluttering cat leave, coughing into the ground and all of the others backing away from me.

“These two?” I point to the one in my helmet and the one in my hand. “These are mine. You can have the rest.”

None of them really understood a word I said, and I was too angry and too injured to really care.

“Okay, maneater attack now! Save that one!” Doth gets in front of my face and points. That one Gesshru still held in a yellow ottercat’s paws. It started to fly up, the Gashn soldier still screaming.

Yeah, no …

I turned and walked away, Doth now screaming louder. It might have just been the fact she was so close to my ear.

“N-no, back! We can still save him, there’s more! NO! Don’t let those souleaters live, attack them! Kill them!”

The ottercats, as usual, weren’t the only things that failed to understand me. I kept walking.

“If they don’t die then all of those Gashn will be consumed, p-please! They won’t ever make it to the core, you can’t let those monsters eat them!”

“You don’t seem to care at all about Soto, why should I care about you’re soldiers?” My voice in squeaks. The ottercats were out of range now, and I was exhausted. Exhausted and walking. .. nowhere. I honestly didn’t have anywhere I wanted to go, just lots of places I don’t want to end up.

“Cute, yes. I talk and then you make silly noises. But this is serious! Maneater I am ordering you, go back and kill those things! DO IT NOW!”

My eyes narrowed, head turning to look at a miserable, but still fierce looking rodent just next to my cheeks. I could feel her warmth, feel the oily slickness of wet fur and uniform against my skin. She was looking directly into my eyes through ruined armor, and I was staring right back at her when I spoke. I didn’t lower my voice this time. And I didn’t squeak in their native tongue.

“And who the fuck are you to give me orders? I just risked my life to save you, and you’re little friend here is damned lucky I’m a sucker for cute faces. You think you own me? You think I’m one of your soldier boys who will just kill whatever you want? I don’t run fast enough to chase them down, I have neither the tools nor the expertise to safely remove a Gesshru that’s already been swallowed in a timely fashion, I have more than enough evidence suggesting these things are a sentient race with a society of their own and very likely some legitimate grievances with how your people treat them. More importantly if they all decide that running away won’t work then they might take to an all-out stand. I’m not going to survive too many of those blasts, do you hear me? That stuff is like getting hit by ball lightning. You know those things you call godbolts? Those will kill me. I’ll fight a little bit to save your life, I’m not committing suicide to vanquish your enemies.”

She held her ground. Her ears folded back at my explosive tirade, but she actually held her ground.

“I know you man-eater, I know you’re hurt and you’re scared and you’ve never fought one of those things before, but we can do it! You’re armor is strong enough, you are strong enough. Please! If you don’t go and fight them then I’ll have to do it without you.”

“Hah!” I actually laughed at that. Sweat pooled down my sides, blood dripped past my legs. I could feel the melted plastic now cooled in place, forming neat drip marks in the misshapen lumps. “I just saw a force of eighty strong be casually ripped apart, you want to hop out and go fight them yourself? Be my guest, because I’m taking this chance and I am running away and if all goes well the next time you see me it will be when I’m tearing all my friends out of that little hellhole you worship.”

Doth’s eyes were in tears, I could see the drops welling where spit hadn’t covered. She was dripping clean into my helmet, her paws so close to my nose. I heard a sniffle, and I saw the resolute determination in her eyes.

“I’ll do this myself then, you just relax and let me handle the controls.”

Shit.

She didn’t mean using her body to fight.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

I pulled up my free hand to try and grab her, snaking it in through the open part of my visor. Feeling like a cat pawing into a mouse-hole, I could see my fingers juuuuust almost reach. Almost. Meanwhile she slinks off to one side and swivels behind my head. She was going to the back of my skull. Avoiding the fingers? No, I could feel it. Pawing through my hair, grabbing onto something near the back of my head.

She had access to that control panel from the inside of the helmet?

Shitshitshitshitshitshit.

I crouched down to floor level, casually dropping the sopping wet Gesshru to free both hands, and began vigorously slamming my skull into the dirt. Armor protected me, the helmet bounced and then cracked. I could feel it shaking Doth around, her legs smacking against my neck and the harsh movements tossing her about.

My head hit the ground and stopped moving. I heard a click. I heard Doth sigh with relief, a panel snapping open and the all too familiar, all too annoying sensation of having a mouse snuggle up into my cockpit.

“Phew, I’m sorry it has to be like this, but for a Max working on your own you did amazingly well. I’m sure any other Max would have just sat there doing nothing, but you actually got up and chased them down!” She sounded pleased. Ohgodno she sounded so fucking pleased. “So let’s see, back on your feet and then we’re going to run them down. You’re fast enough, I know you’re fast.”

My arms moved of their own accord. My hips straitened, jerky and robotic movements lifting me back onto my feet. I’d lost control. I couldn’t run away now … the forest, it was so close, and I can’t …

Shiiiiiiiiiit.
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arbon
Extinction Level Event
Extinction Level Event
 
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Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:42 pm
Location: Despite what the green paws might claim, not a giant monster. Look down. See that little mouse?

Re: Gesshru (Arbon's attempt at Flash fiction)

Postby arbon » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:55 pm

My question to readers for this chapter: "What sort of technology would you expect to see from a race of alien mice?"


__________
Chapter 9

My name is Freya Savitri, and Doth is not a hero of mice, no matter how much she wishes she could be.

“Grrnn, why can’t …” Doth muttered while moving toward the tree-line. Already those flying cat-otters were a distant speck.

“Because you are an idiot and I hate you.” Was my response in the Gesshru language, if I could have rolled my eyes then I would have.

“What is wrong with these legs, I know you can go faster!” She was trying. Oh boy was she trying, the jerky movements all too reminiscent of a toddler on stilts. My legs weren’t as much walking forward as they were waddling, flinging the foot outward and backward at the same time. Knees locked strait, arms held stock against my waist because that dumb pilot still couldn’t figure out what to do with them.

“Step out of that cockpit and give me control back, I’ll show you how fast I can move.” The ottercats were keeping a gaze on me, occasionally turning around to stare at the ungainly creature tripping over itself. I found myself wondering why they didn’t just blast me with lightning at any point since the compound, but knowing similar earth creatures it was likely they had a limited supply of energy for those blasts. Glowing balls of plasma aren’t exactly energy efficient hunting methods for a biological creature.

“N-nooooo! They’re getting away. They’ve gotten away … wonderful, we got so close. I have got to figure out how you moved like that, there’s no way I can manage that kind of speed and reaction time if I’m scrambling to hit buttons in the right order.” Of course the cats had escaped. They were faster than me at a full sprint, yet she expected me to chase them down while exhausted, bleeding, and covered in melted plastic? Besides, if I did catch up they might well manage to kill me if pressed into combat. Especially if you get enough of them.

“Oh no, a giant monster is eating souls. I guess next you’ll want to capture one of them to feed prisoners too, right?” Oh how I wish she could feel the bitter sting on my tongue. She was so much better than most other pilots, but better does not always equate to good. And this was a very illustrative example of such comparison.

To be honest, I reflected almost instantly, a lot of his venom was misplaced anger at the fact I’d lost my chance to escape because of her. She was a dead woman anyway, why should I give up my one viable chance at escape in years so she could live for another few weeks? I’ve known her for less than a day and already she’s helped ruin my life. But then I might just be coming down from an adrenaline high, the pain is setting in, and on top of being battered and thirsty and miserable and mind controlled I couldn’t even scratch my nose.

What little I know about her objectively is that she’s a typical Gashn, fully believes their silly little religion about the planet’s core housing their souls, and she’s completely taken by Gashn propaganda. Easterners are just scum to be done away with or tools to put to work, true Gashn are the dominant race of the world. She doesn’t question that very much but at the same time isn’t malicious about it. She loves Max units, adores us, has lived her whole life wanting to be a pilot, and her being willing to take risks seems more from wishful thinking and dreams of affectionate attention rather than a keen mind probing to reveal the truth.

“Let’s ...” She seemed to choke on the words. “I’m turning back now. I’m so sorry Maneater. You’ve done enough, I should have … should have known.”

A scientist she was not, this was clear. But with that same mechanical awkwardness we turned away from that treeline and the last glimpse of fleeing predators, back toward a ruined compound.

There was that soldier on the ground still, left behind in our mad chase. We stomped close. Too close …

Far too close.

I could hear his screams, hear the desperate cry for help. He was telling us he was down there, on the ground.

Doth stomped past, my legs popping to the ground mere inches away from where the panicked sap stood. I knew he was still alive, not because I was allowed to turn and look back, or even the lack of a telltale crunch beneath my boots, but because I could hear him shouting up for me.

Gesshru were slow after all, much slower than humans. Less than a minute’s walk for me was an exhausting trek for them.

“I can just pick the man up you know.” I grumped not long after it was already too late to expect she’d turn around. What I felt was her paws rubbing against my scalp, that strange tickle which she probably assumed would feel good.

“There there Maneater, everything will be alright. We’ll get you water as soon as we’re back home, and then you can rest after your hard fight. Just … relax and let me do all the work.”

“I’ve been telling myself that for years now, hasn’t worked out yet.” I growled back. Another stomp. Such clumsy walking one had to expect of a pilot, we weren’t long for the armory.

“Make sure to keep an eye out for Kepa, he’s supposed to be on the ground here somewhere.” She said this as if she couldn’t hear him shouting for her. Ohgodno she actually couldn’t hear him.

“Take a moment without stomping and you might actually hear something besides my footsteps. Oh, I’m sorry. Your footsteps.” Why oh why did she have to respond to scathing anger with head rubs and gentle petting? Rubbing behind my ears wasn’t going to make up for losing control again and she should know this.

“Good girl, thaaats a good girl.” Doth cooed all too sweetly. “Now how abou-Oh. This is Doth Renfi, reporting for after battle action. Sir!”

A flick of the switch. Her voice behind my head becomes a projection from my throat, that tiny speaker attached to my now shattered helmet washing over the remains of a battlefield.

Tents were knocked over, there were smatters of blood that most likely came from the fluttercats exclusively. The rooftop to an ‘armored bunker’ was torn from its bindings, shattered and scorched by lightning, then just tossed aside as so much scrap rubble. An imprint of my body still marked their landfill, and I was pleased to see none of the footprints my boots had left behind contained any dead Gesshru in them. Their cargo, all of their supplies, were knocked into haphazard piles with crunched edges and paw or teeth marks. Most of the weapons themselves deliberately snapped, the band throwers and spears especially.

I could see a handful of charred corpses. A literal handful in this case, maybe three. I wasn’t even sure if the third one was dead yet, knowing Gesshru biology they might manage to live through it.

Then I noticed the scraps of plastic, some as intact shards and others as now cooled globs of melted material. Scattered over the walls or dripping into places on the compound, it showed how sorry a state my armor was after that beating. None of my blood seemed to leak out. Electrical burns don’t bleed much, and most of what I did leak was directly into the armor padding.

Oh joy.

Then my eyes twitched. Oh I still wasn’t allowed to turn them, but I spotted movement to the left. Orange. Wings. Wait, swarmed? There were Gashn soldiers all around it while carrying ropes. Some were carrying rubber bands without a thrower to launch them from.

“Doth, that was incredible!” I heard his first shout. Doth didn’t turn my head to gaze at him until the second, when the man as clambering atop a stacked supply crate and shouting as loud as he could. “Rusted core, someone give me a speakerphone. Ah, thank you. DOTH! That was incredible!”

“No twitch, I was only performing my duty as expected sir. May I please recount a damage report, so that I may relay these events to our superiors back at Ontal.” She didn’t phrase it as a question. When piloting a human and covered in this many wounds, was there any doubt a mid level commander would refuse?

“Very minimal considering the force we were up against and the sheer gain we’ve received in return. It’s astounding!” I didn’t like the way he said that. “In total we’ve only lost about half our force, embarrassingly humiliated losses if we were facing the easterner scum or some silly tribals, but a miracle compared to typical reports from other SoulEater attacks. Sadly less than half of these supplies actually survived, sheer dumb luck on the beasts part had them destroying our weapons above all else.”

Dumb luck.

Right …

“So on top of a requisition for more soldiers, this supply run will need to be carried out again. Within the week. A pity.” Doth spoke with such an authoritarian air it left me wondering about what exactly enticed her to be a Max pilot. She was clearly enjoying this opportunity to look down on people.

“Y-yes, quite. Actually If you will offer an hour to take in damages and review our surroundings, I will also send back a requisition to move to a new location. The ruins of Scando may be more defensible considering the coral spires are harder to damage than mere lumber, and overhead protection is vital when fighting against beasts of the sky who rain starlight down from above.”

For a moment I was actually interested in this man’s words. Raining starlight? I’ve never heard that one. I know Gashn as a culture particularly dislikes the stars, but I thought lightning balls were called ‘godbolts’ … maybe a region specific slang word. Or something specific to these fluttercat things.

“Denied, I do not have an hour. I shall deliver your requests upon my return. What else?”

“My commemoration of your exemplary skill in combat against the mightiest of foes.” As much as I wanted to scoff at the idea of calling a cat-otter mighty, they were dangerous if pressed.

“Ah, yes. I sha- …”

“It is because of you and your skill alone miss Doth, that we’ve actually managed to capture a soul eater for the first time in generations!”

“What?”

Both me and Doth said this at the same time. My head turned. At my voice, in English, the entire compound was stunned. A flash of Orange, but Doth looked past only to double back again. There in the dirt and grime just outside the mud brick walls was a fluttercat. Tied in hair-string ropes, with a rubber band around it’s muzzle, around its wings, and tying it’s front paws together. As me and Doth watched more soldiers were working in unison to loop that band around it’s legs and tail, struggling to fit all three inside a single band and then breaking into an argument of how best to do it.

“Never before in my entire military career have I ever seen a Max Pilot move that quickly. I can’t even imagine how you managed to jack in while Soul Eaters hounded your every move, but it’s a good thing she was placed panel down. Were you left in open air at the time trying to slip inside you might have been snatched away before managing to turn your Max on.”

“I … wh …” Doth didn’t seem especially high and mighty at the moment, and her gaze shifted down toward the compound at her feet. Once more the ruined remains of a mud castle that mice were trying to tidy up.

“Until you jacked in, this hunk of junk fleshpuppet was just sitting there, useless. But the moment you started fight, oh by the core you were amazing! Picking up a roofing panel to use it as a shield? Dancing around like you owned the place without stepping on a single soldier? Batting Soul Eaters out of the sky? That isn’t even getting me started on how accurate you were with a thrown missile or just how insanely fast you could run. Having seen your performance I’d actually recommend we start using Max units to supplement existing ground forces, you made fancy movement and fast paced combat look easy even with us all underfoot.”

Do. Not. Snicker.

Or. Get. Enraged.

The fact I couldn’t tell which emotion I should even be feeling at the moment was far too telling.

“That wasn’t me!” Doth balked. My arms locked to my side in a distinct lack of emoting while that projected voice of my pilot cracked in alarm.

“Yes, of course.” The command rolls his eyes. “You were just the piloting force, but your meat-puppet did all the hard work. I know how humble you pilot types can be. Please! Step down though, your max can go back into the trash heap while we celebrate a true hero!”

“I …” Doth seemed to pause. “I don’t feel like this is a cause for celebration, we need to clean up first.”

“Very well. We can simply let the lower grunts do the hard work, but if you insist.” The man stepped down onto the floor. I could hear his voice lowering, putting the megaphone down to mutter “Get me a quill and paper, I need to start onto my report.”

“And I’d very much like to leave. Right now.”

“What?” the commander said aloud, only to get no response. He puts his lips to the megaphone again and repeats the word. “Why would you leave now? I haven’t even gotten started on writing.”

“While I have no problem remaining to sort out paperwork and logistics, my Max has had a very long day and her armor is all but ruined. Some of these wounds may get infected if not treated properly within a reasonable time-frame, and the closest facilities that can outfit her in new armor and dress her burn marks are back at Ontal.”

“The max is female?” He seemed more surprised than confused.

“Yes, and very badly hurt. If she falls here before we can get her back to Ontal, I highly doubt even your combined soldiers could carry her across a week’s walk of open desert.”

“Point taken. You are …” he appeared to choose his words carefully. “You are dismissed, Pilot Doth Renfi.”

I found this amusing.

Doth stepped away from the center compound, my gaze scanning over the wide damage survey. That fluttercat thingy was already bound tight in as many rubber bands as they could fit, and still the nervous soldiers were trying to apply more. Rubber might hamper some of their electrical abilities. The idea that they might be enough to counter a beast’s strength and size was dubious at best, a bit like an elephant hander hoping his ropes hold out.

The cat monster was small enough that they might be able to drag it, but no one had a place to put it yet.

Already there was discomfort and second thoughts over my choosing to defend the compound, I’d much rather have the cat beasts as an ally if they are fighting the Gashn empire. More to the point, I did not appreciate the idea of these cat monsters being made prisoner.

Can they be controlled?

I know their Tech has diminished a bit in some ways since we first contacted them, but does the knowledge of how to create a control module for the fluttercats exist somewhere? And would these people try it to make some variant of an air force?

“That’s fine Maneater, everything is fine. Listen to me. Listen? Just listen to my voice.” Doth spoke sweet nonsense into the back of my head while forcefully tearing my gaze away.

Another stomp, walking back out the open desert we came from. Rocks and bits of coral all around an open sand basin. It appears that whatever Kepa meant to her, Doth didn’t think of him highly enough to make sure he walked back alive.

“You don’t like people much, do you.” And that’s when I caught on.

“There, keep talking and the pain will go away soon. That wasn’t so bad, was it?” she forces herself to giggle.

“You’re an animal person, you get along with things that don’t talk back to you. But have disdain for the people around you.” Doth suddenly reminded me of certain people I used to know back on earth.

“I have no idea what you did, but you were amazing.” She keeps walking. My legs stiff and sore, everything hurts and the warm blood trickles down to my feet.

“Always so loving and fascinated by the giant animal things, but the moment it can talk back you’re rude and cold and distant.” Have you ever had sandy water from say, a lake or a beach squishing into your socks? Okay. Try that only replace water with blood. Specifically your blood.

“True you might have done more damage to the outpost than the Soul Eaters would have, but you saved a lot of soldiers.” Why was that spoken in an ‘I told you so’ tone of voice?

“At first I thought it was just Tasgal, because I mean. Duh. Anyone with a brain would hate him.” Mygodno this was horrible, she wasn’t letting me pull the boots off. Blood leaking from my butt was pouring down into my boots, and everything on the inside of this armor was squishy and absorbent.

“You did that all without anyone having to tell you to. I mean, I know everyone says you are the hardest max to control, that you resist neural dampening somehow. But I left you on lockdown!” She squealed in girlish delight. This was a happy moment for her somehow.

“I’m seeing it now though, you’d rather talk with me than with another Gesshru. You emote more when next to me, you share your history with me.” Another stomp. A loud stomp. A wet stomp. The sweat from so much exertion wasn’t merely draped over my skin to soak, but the smelly salt was ground and smeared directly into open wounds.

Let me say this now. Abrasions on a burn wound are not a pleasant experience.

Neither was my inability to even tend to them, it wasn’t just the fact Doth was in control but it was also the armor that would get in the way regardless.

“On lockdown. Did you hear that? I had you completely locked down, and you still somehow managed to get up, fight expertly, and save lives all with amazing skill. When by every right you should have been entirely paralyzed until someone turned you on!” She was way too excited by this.

Also amusingly wrong. But there was no point in telling her that.

“If you are so willing to look past what everyone else says about humans, why are you so reluctant to see this war for what it really is?” Words on deaf ears. Immediately after I’d asked the question I had to remind myself that I wouldn’t care about the answer. Another three years and everything she knew will have changed all over again, and at best Doth would be a memory jotted down into the history books. More likely is that no one will even remember her name.

“No wonder Tasgal has such a hard time, you can outright ignore the control panel whenever you have enough motivation.” She acted like this was some grand revelation. All humans could, to an extent, that was the whole point of a neural dampener and those weird injections. Second line of control to weaken the slave’s resolve and disrupt chemical signals.

“Those Soul Eater things weren’t just dumb animals and you know it. You should know it, if you had even a tiniest bit of awareness or common sense. But no. I’m talking to a toddler who’s barely a year old. Why on earth would I expect you to have a keen grasp on anything.” My words were unfair to the rodent creatures with such short lives, but if no one could understand them who was I hurting?

“We have to get the word out, tell everyone that a Max is more powerful when you aren’t controlling them.”

If I thought this plan would work I’d have encouraged Doth to press for this somehow, but even for the sake of power Gashn military leaders don’t like to give up control. Better a weak soldier who follows orders than a skilled soldier who asks too many questions.

I was silent …

The crunch of boots into sand, the squish of blood soaked socks.

I think I stopped bleeding at one point, but it wouldn’t be terribly long before reaching Ontal. Home sweet prison.

Doth seemed to want for food and water, and I was parched alongside the sheer exhaustion. Aches welling in my knees an arms, a dull pain in my arms and my waist. Still that scrape and rub, grinding soft padding over electrified skin.

“So how was your day?” I brought up sarcastically. Licking my lips to clear away a bit of dried sand.

At least through the cracked helmet I could feel a bit of wind on my face, and from the gaping holes in my armor there was a gentle breeze coming through. Not a cool breeze or a comfortable, this dry heat was downright terrible, but a gentle one at least.

“I thought I was going to die.” Doth answers.

“Would have been better for me if you had. In all honesty.” I answered back with as much truth as I’d hoped she could understand.

“That’s just the worst way to die, you know? Because it doesn’t just stop there.” Doth shuddered. “It isn’t just death and then a new beginning, see all of your old relatives again and talk with the ancients. Its … its worse than being Starflung. Trapped inside a monster, helpless and watching as it does disgusting monster things. Forever! If you get eaten alive, your soul never reaches the core and that’s it, you never get to have a restful afterlife.”

I could feel her palm in the back of my hair.

“One would suspect earth rarely expresses similar believes about our version of the afterlife, given how few creatures are large enough to devour us whole.”

“If it had just bitten down or blasted me or something, at least my soul would be okay. But eaten alive?” her petting gets more frantic. “I was in its mouth Maneater. Hah, yes I know you’ve eaten people before.”

“Never while they were still alive. I tend to chew.”

“No one was coming to save me. You were strapped in lockdown, no one else in this area was a trained max pilot. The Soul Eaters are too fast for anything but heavy artillery …” what she called artillery is what I would call throwing rocks. And I’m pretty sure I can throw rocks harder than their siege engines.

“Then I did come for you. Lucky me.” She wouldn’t catch my scoff. I knew she wouldn’t.

“My entire time was spent talking to that Kepa guy. Ask his name and tell him mine, holding on tight to keep that beast from swallowing. It was so gentle! It was keeping us alive deliberately, carrying us off to enjoy later or give to a mate as some primitive bonding ritual.” She seemed hysterical now. The petting intensified to the point of annoyance, I couldn’t just force her to stop rubbing my head.

“Oh poor baby, that must have been so hard on you.” My sarcasm heard by no one. The tone might come through if she was catching on.

“But then out of nowhere you just appear? I’ve never heard anything like that from a Max unit. Operating on your own, shoving past lockdown, and just … gaah! I’ve never even heard tale of Max units deployed against soul eaters and you took on an entire pack of them!”

“Just five.” I muttered. “And it’s interesting that even after getting to know this Kapa whatever you still didn’t put much effort into making sure he got back safely.”

“When we get back you need to have the best food, the best care. We might even petition to get you down to the nearest lake for a bath.” She kept rubbing, and when she only had that same small spot at my skull it didn’t feel all that comfortable. Might have been nice for her, but the touch of a rat in your hair wasn’t the feel-good, warm fuzzy feelings one might have expected.

“I mean sure, you wanted me to save him. But that was still my putting in the effort. Hah! And if you want me to take a bath then I am more than willing to accept this generosity. Just so long as I get free reign to clean my own wounds.” Infection wasn’t something I worried too heavily about, if I died then at least this would mean I was finally granted release. But water? All of their equipment was electronic and I highly doubt they put as much effort into shielding the remote control as they did to my collar.

Second or third generation knockoffs, with the Gashn empire getting cheaper and dumber the further away they went from the original scientists who captured us. Hard to make improvements when you don’t let anyone review the work that came before in the name of security. Or in this case, propaganda.

One good splash. That might be all I needed, a way to splash the controller and then just run off without them closing the doors on me.

“Gosh this is going to make so many waves through the resource management division. Just imagine what it could mean once the Cavni Federation is actually crushed? Then we can turn away from fighting lesser Gesshru and start clearing the jungles. The JUNGLES maneater! That’s going to be huge!”

“So instead of stepping on children you can go kick puppies instead. Wonderful.” Yes I was fully aware that a puppy could destroy their entire garrison and eat a small village if you let it, but the principle still stands.

“The only people who live in jungles are the unorganized tribes. Savage cannibal things that are barely even Gesshru. They won’t put up a fight at all really, but the animals of that forest make it impassable. We’d have the entire coastline open if we could push through the trees somehow, but there’s no way an army can make it through unnoticed.”

Another stomp. Another crunch, the blood of my aching wounds splashing forward to leave a few telltale drops. They wouldn’t be seen among the open rocky landscape, a dry and arid waste only slightly more hospitable than the frigid cold one finds to the south. If I were to run I’d have to be running north, that’s my escape plan. Go where the Gashn armies and their remote controls can’t follow, and hope none of the wild animals or ‘disorganized’ tribes know how to pilot a human. From there … I don’t know, and I don’t really care. Probably just make weapons of my own and then find some way to storm the Ontal military base.

At the very least it would be a welcome break from killing people and a chance to talk to someone who isn’t brainwashed or an idiot.

“I think the moment you start trying to tame that jungle you will find there are more players here than just the Cavni Federation. You know they were deliberately snapping your weapons right? They know what a weapon is. They know you can’t hurt them if you don’t have weapons.” She was talking tactics and I was listening, was this what it’s like to the pet dog of an idiot general?

“Treats.” Doth said suddenly. “For all of your hard today we need to get you a treat. What is it Maxes eat besides nutriment paste?”

A heavy sigh escaped my lips.

“On this planet I’m not entirely certain, I know some of the fruits might be edible but we didn’t have any time to explore and verify before my whole team was captured. The nutriment paste is part of our rations for the trip here you know, and I’m sure the only reason you know how to replicate it is by copying our shipboard food processor.”

“Normally getting a treat means a nice, fresh prisoner to chow down on. Gobble up the tasty little easterner like it was nothing.” She leans forward and hugs, still talking in that sickly sweet pet owner voice.

She must have a very high opinion of her species if she expects all Gesshru to be tasty.

“If you keep talking like that I will feel more inclined to nibble on you for a bit. Hop out of that control panel and find out. It’d be a real treat, I assure you.” If only she would think to try that on her own. If only …

“But every Max I’ve actually seen finds live Gesshru a punishment. Even despite being designed to eat meat with high efficiency, you don’t actually like eating meat. It’s just so odd. So then what do we give you instead?” She was brainstorming. A mind control alien mouse was trying to think. Another crunch, I almost tripped over a rock and Doth was horrifically clumsy in keeping my body upright and stable. No pilot ever did a good job of that.

“You could try offering chocolate instead, I’m sure you know how to synthesize it.” What I wouldn’t give for a bit of cheesecake right now. Not that I’ll ever tell them that, I don’t need people assuming I’ve turned to the mouse side. Chocolate would do.

“We both know you enjoyed having free control to roam around. Especially for a long walk. Maybe walks around the compound?” She muses quietly.

“Now there’s an idea. I would love to scout your military base for security holes I can exploit.” If she could pull that off it actually would be a treat.

More crunching, boots through the sand as loomed into view over the distance. How many miles was it? Far enough that I’d rather rest here than walk all the way back, but I didn’t have much say in how or where my legs moved. Doth had this inane idea that her being in control meant I could have a break. It was still my legs, my energy, my blood on display, she was simply making sure I couldn’t pace myself or ease any of the pain.

“But simple animals want food as treats, not more work and exercise. I’m sure you’d much rather a tasty meal than a silly old walk.” Her sickly sweet tone was more than grating by now.

“Give me ten seconds alone with Tasgal and I’ll have myself a lovely little treat.” My own reply was just as sweet.

“I know!” she shouts suddenly, the high pitched chirp of a rodent right behind my ears. She wasn’t exactly all that loud but it still made my hair tingle. “Seeds. You can eat them, can’t you? So what if we just sprinkle some people food in your mush to give it a better flavor?”

“Give me the seeds outside of the mush thank you, different colored foods aren’t supposed to touch.” I replied in deadpan.

“Eerrgn, but then that would take up week’s worth of food just to give you a tiny bit of flavoring. I don’t know if any supply manager will sign off on that. Maybe something cheaper, something we already have a lot of. Oh! You guys don’t eat live Gesshru …”

“Most of the time.” I cut her off.

“MOST Max units don’t eat a live Gesshru, but none of you guys seem to have a problem eating dead ones.”

“No.”

“If we chop up a prisoner into little pieces first then they could spread out over a lot of food, flavoring the whole batch.”

“Whatever you are thinking, stop it. No. Bad mouse alien! Don’t make me smack you.”

She rubs into the back of my head with all the care and adoration of a loving pet owner. Hair mussed about, her paws massaging my scalp while that irritatingly happy voice whispers behind my ears. It sounds like someone inside my head whenever she does this, whenever any pilot does this, and just leaves me thankful that the collar and helmet are external and tapping into my spine. If they had the capacity to tear my skull open and plug the access panels directly into my brain I’m sure these things would have done so by now.

“Won’t that make you feel good? You won’t even have to kill the cute little easterners. Just get the juicy blood all over your food, lap it up like water.”

“Shut up. SHUT UP!”

“Who’s an excited little maneater. Aaawwww haha, you sound so cute when you’re happy.”

I screamed. She kept talking and I couldn’t drown it out.

This was a very long walk back to Ontal.
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Re: Gesshru (Arbon's attempt at Flash fiction)

Postby Mdcrmn » Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:13 am

I think the most likely advance the gesshru would make is radio communication, or some idea of how rockets work. However they don't mention getting "star-flung" so maybe they did have some success with the rockets and decided it was a deathtrap. As for technology the gesshru develop on their own maybe a bow and arrow? But then again did the gesshru develop the collars or were they modified human tech?
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Re: Gesshru (Arbon's attempt at Flash fiction)

Postby arbon » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:08 pm

Without hoping to spoil much, I find your analysis to be remarkably amusing. The Gashn empire was earth's first formal attempt at contact with this race, selected primarily because they were the only Gesshru society with radios at the time. And it's much easier to seem peaceful if you send a radio message first, and /then/ show up as hulking space monsters who tower over their tallest buildings. Turns out contacting the most technologically advanced nation didn't quite end as Freya had hoped.

The collars are indeed Gesshru technology, and both built and designed by Gesshru. At least the basic concept, medical procedures, and software work that went into it's design. The plastics are reverse engineered human tech that Gesshru figured out how to synthesize.
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Re: Gesshru (Arbon's attempt at Flash fiction)

Postby arbon » Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:31 pm

My question for readers this chapter: "A fight between 5 humans armed with modern weaponry, and 500 Gesshru armed with whatever they could scrap together in a week. Who do you think would win? You'll probobly get a better picture next chapter."



Gesshru

__________
Chapter 10

My name is Freya Savitri, and right now my everything hurts all over.

Pain and thirst, mixed with exhaustion and aggravation, a relentless march through the featureless landscape following a barely visible line between the rocks these creatures liked to call a road. Hope swelled and the agony redoubled by the time Ontal came back into view. All watched over by an adorably sweet encouragement from that mind control parasite latched onto my skull. I stopped talking after a while, but she kept going. Her life and her ideas, strategy and tactics, the state of war and the state of her home.

My legs hurt. The burns on my thighs were starting to blister as this armor chafes against it. Normally well fitted plastic covering might have been fairly comfortable, that foam padding softening as easily as my old space suits would have. But there was a limit to how much sweat they could absorb when not properly filtered. And there was a limit to how much salt on an open wound I could withstand before begging to sit down.

On and on we walked.

Up to the front gates, those Gashn soldiers on guard sliding it open. I could hear the surprised gasps at my condition better than I could see the expressions, my eyes weren’t allowed to look.

An open pathway cleared before my feet. Soldiers in training and slaves in labor, scientists and clerks moving about with their little papers. None wanted to be underfoot for obvious reasons, but this was the first time this generation had seen a Max unit come home with damage. Severe damage at that.

Doth didn’t look down to be sure the walkway was clear, she went directly toward that massive square building of stone and metal that served as our prison. The sliding bay doors swinging wide as handlers noticed my approach, the cold chill of a maintained atmosphere replacing the desert heat. It felt pleasant on the open gaps in my plastic, a fresh sliver over my face and onto my thighs. The slick blood, long dried and caked in sweat, was chilled quickly.

I breathed a sigh of relief. While every Gesshru around me exploded into shouts of panic.

“What in the Starflung blazes happened to you!”

“Maneater has been damaged! Armor broken, guys we need help here.”

“Get the machines working we have to break that armor off!”

“Its melted. How did the armor melt?”

“What. Did. You. DO!”

“Quick, medical team to floor six, now! I said NOW dammit!”

“Ladders!”

“Prep for armor removal, and I want a full team down here to watch for errors in the machine.”

“This armor is warped, our automated disassembly line might not be able to cope.”

“That’s why I want the Starflung team watching it! MOVE!”

Doth just let it wash over her as she stomped into position. Heedless to however many darted to and fro just beneath my boots in a mad scramble, always just fast enough to duck beneath that lumbering robotic movement. The roof was low for me but a towering arena for the Gashn forces. Unlike last time no other humans were being fielded, neither strapping into their armor nor coming back to have it removed, which left the four suit rigs free and available. I wasn’t entirely certain Doth could hear what was being shouted given her position up in the back of my head, but I knew she was coming onto exhaustion just as much as I was.

Wait, no. Actually even past the pain and thirst and horrific treatment, I could still grin and bear it for longer than her if pressed. The problem is that neither of us wanted to push for that sort of endurance match.

Another few stomps and we were between the two domed towers jutting up from the floor. A whirr and grind of mechanical gears within, the flash and spread of laser based range finding as each end scans me for a full three dimensional image. Gripping claws extend out from one side, then the other, latching onto the plastic at my chest and prying into the locked bolts.

All of this was human technology. From our ship of course. How much they could actually understand and utilize changed with every generation, depending on how brilliant the individuals working on it, and which parts the acting rulers decided was too dangerous for any to know. They used to be able to replicate everything we had, with tech at least on part with earth’s in most fields. I suspect they’ve dropped a bit since then. Constant victory against the Cavni meant they had less reason to strive.

“Pilot Doth.” A thunderous voice booms from the speaker at my throat. “Arriving for after mission report. I formally request permission for a medical attention and record screenings.”

I couldn’t tell how many were paying attention to what she said even as the words echoed about the confined chambers. Clicks and whirs, the robotic arms and tubes attached onto a port at my left side to suck free any trapped Cavni soldiers I might have with me, while the one on my right smacked into my exposed flesh and twisted against the burn marks.

A hiss of pain. A pox on the useless fucking shitstain engineer fuck of a bastard fuck who I very strongly disliked in that moment given I had to suffer through his incompetence and ow fuck ouch godammit stop twisting already! The damned machine unable to realize the expected tube port wasn’t there anymore. None of the standard safety features a human engineer would have tried to put in deploying as intended.

Oh, this left all of the Gesshru around me scrambling like mad to fix the problem. Taking small tools and working at the ruined slag of what was once polished plastic by hand, or assuming direct control of the claws and then clumsily working their way around it.

My boots come of, snapping apart through the center as bolts and clamps are peeled away. A blood-soaked flood splatters to the ground, dried red and chilled crimson mixed with sweat and salt and puss. Infection? My immune system was going into overdrive then, boosted immune responses meant increased symptoms but a less lethal disease, and I’m sure the medical nanites flowing through me hardly appreciated direct abrasion on burned flesh.

Hrm, I wonder how many nanites I even have left, it’s been years since I was last injected.

More snaps. The Gesshru engineers couldn’t climb all the way, and at least one took to bending over and spewing his past lunch at the sight of my blackened wounds. Seeds I could tell. Probably DakeNut if I was to judge the colors. Bright electrical burns that licked just across the skin, cauterizing before it could reach the muscle. Leaving something that looked more serious than it actually was, horrifically painful but not much stopping power.

Wait, no … a second Gesshru also puked. And then a third.

A fourth?

The bodies had to be ushered away so that others could work, everyone seeming apprehensive about the dried and dripping blood. The sheer stink of unwashed human legs that have been soaked in a tight chamber, in the hot sun, while hiking for hours.

What did Doth say about a shower?

I could use a shower right now, and maybe if these Gashn forces are disgusted enough by the smell they would actually let me have one.

Getting to the shoulders and waist required use of those robotic claws, mechanical screwdrivers and bolts as, one by one. sheets of armor were unclasped and then tucked away into specially fitted compartments. The pauldrons pulled off, the gloves slipping free one finger at a time. My torso armor came off in four discrete chunks all designed to fold into each other and overlap with a gap beneath the armpit. Each bit of plastic, intact or melted, held securely in some metal claw so as not to fall and crush the workers beneath me.

Once I was left bare in every location save the helmet and my befouled undergarments, Doth strode forward.

I could see them, nervous looking Gashn soldiers in white clothing. The nurses and healers, none of which had any experience treating a Max. How long has it been since a human was ever injured enough for it to matter? If it was less than six months, it was before these people’s time. Every single nurse was a young one.

The fact I’d eventually heal on my own certainly didn’t help make them feel needed, just panicked at the thought they’ll be thrust into something with no idea how to help. Or what to do. And of course every one of them was afraid they’d be the next victim of the infamous Maneater, so that might play a role in their upcoming performance.

A slap of bare feet onto a cold tile floor. Jerky and mechanical motions, turning down the hall and past a long set of doorways. One. Then two. Then three, a turn right to my cozy little prison cell. Doth pressed my hand to a section of the door and attempted to push it up into the roof by hand, not bothering to wait for the assistants down bellow to handle these minor things for her. This woman thought she knew me, and from all her experience I was loyal and kind. Doth wasn’t going to care about keeping up security protocol.

Excellent.

Either that or she was far too tired and wanted out of my helmet as badly as I wanted control of my legs.

My room was unchanged, but empty. The blanket tossed to one side as expected, the bowl of food near the center with the old paste still left behind, my latrine was thankfully strapped in the far end with a lid closed over the top.

Doth left my door open and started bending down, crimson dropped to the floor and skin cracked as my body was forced to bend. Face down into the cold tiles, my left arm propping my head up while my right arm extended down to offer a bridge from shoulder to floor. My knees underneath me, almost fetal position to lay prostrate in as low a pose as any human could manage without just laying down.

This left me thankful Doth didn’t try, after all knowing the average pilot that would have scraped up my kneecaps.

Footsteps from the wide open walkway, two people … no, it was three? Gashn soldiers moving hurriedly. I heard a beep on the controls and that cage entrance slid close with the same mechanical awkwardness as everything else. A rush of air. We were sealed inside.

My pilot stepped out of the back of my head with a haggard exhaustion. I felt the helmet folding away, the broken plastic of my visor starting to fold up and getting caught just below the chin. My muscles didn’t move. Nothing did. Eyes unable to turn, my throat caught. I could control my tongue and my lips, but no pilot was dumb enough to stand within range and risk getting human bites. After all those were very serious affairs for such small aliens.

“Tasgal! I … greet you with Honors sir.” Doth responds immediately. She was the first to speak.

“What in the name of the Core did you do with my Max?” The male pilot exploded into rage.

“There will be an after action report detailing the events presented to our Ontal base manager as Maneater is receiving medical treatment.” She answers stiffly. “Now might I ask who your two honorable associates are, and why you thought to bring needle throwers into a Max enclosure?”

“So you do not recognize me, little girl?” A voice answers. Male and aged, clearly well past two years old by the high pitched bass and how slow his teeth clacks were. Very close to three years old, as a senior in their military structure.

It was a voice I recognized …

“My deepest apologies sir, but I must confess I do not.” Doth answered tactfully. Sleep already trying to claim her.

“Don’t know who that guy is?” Tasgal shouts, one could hear his rodent feet stomp on cold tiles as he approaches my flank. “You did THIS to my Max unit, you who don’t even have claim to any Max at all, managed to be so amazingly incompetent you are the first pilot to injure a Max in all of history. And you don’t know who your commanding officer is!?”

Tasgal lied of course, or he’s just an idiot. Or perhaps more likely every other instance in which a human has sustained injury was simply been erased from their history books. There have been lots of battles where a human and their pilot ended up being forced to flee, or having their armor shattered.

Well …

Was two or three times to my knowledge, but that’s enough to count under the nebulous catch-all of ‘lots’ correct? Yes, I’ll keep telling myself that in the hopes one day I die on this miserable shit stained rock.

“Pamit, miss Doth.” The tone of arrogance in his voice, but a knowing respect toward the young pilot. “At least you knew enough to address me by honorable titles. We shall commence this ‘after action’ report now.”

“S-sir?” Doth was swaying, I could tell she was ready to collapse just by the sound of her voice. Unable to watch, unable to help, and if I spoke no one would know the words. “Of course sir. The delivery to Galm was uneventful but occurred in record time, but the situation at Galm is dire.”

Tasgal interrupted.

“Uneventful? This was supposed to be a supply run! A literal seed delivery job, and you Flung it up?” I felt his foot. Stabbing at my leg, trying to kick at the open wound. I could feel blood spurting down, the dried layer cracking apart with dull pain and fresh red dripping down. It made the bastard back away, more in disgust at what clung to his fur than anything else. I hoped he’s get an infection touching the bright green puss.

“The young pilot is correct.” Pamit stated gently. “These are burn wounds, and your armor is shattered. It must have taken impossibly terrible piloting to manage that sort of damage. Emphasis on the word impossible.”

“Sir!” Doth did her best to stand up straight and keep a chin high, but her ears drooped over her shoulders and her tail was stiff. “Upon arrival in Galm I set Maneater into lockdown and left the pilot seat to help sort and store the supplies, the crates were delivered well before first sun. Only to be set upon by an army of Soul Eaters.”

“Oh, right. And next you’re going to tell me the star monsters crashed down.” Tasgal scoffed. I could hear the uneasy shifting of feet, there were four Gashn here. One of which was being silent.

“Explain.” Pamit asked simply.

“They came from the skies as a force of twenty strong, green and blue mostly, and at least a small number of yellow Soul Eaters. Roughly half their number was struck from the sky by our needle throwers and fled to the northern jungles, while the remaining monsters slammed down and began to tear apart the camp. Some flung godbolts from up high, others walked in among the tents and buildings to route survivors, and still others trashed buildings and weapon crates in search of hiding soldiers.”

Ha! So they were called godbolts, which makes me suspect that ‘raining starlight’ must be a different slang or perhaps region specific. Calling the lightning starlight and associating it with stars as opposed to deities might theoretically be a way for non-theistic Gesshru to describe the natural world. Linguistic details to examine later.

“That story is toilet fodder and you know it, why make up such a stupid lie if you aren’t even going to bother making it sound believable?” Tasgal was at the point of hysterics, and took to striking at my foot again. He chose somewhere new, and made sure that my blood wouldn’t stain his uniform.

“And this damage was sustained in your battle with … Soul Eaters from the jungles?” Pamit seemed to believe her. But of course he wasn’t stupid.

“It wasn’t my battle, sir. During my attempt to re-enter Maneater’s control port, I was snatched away by a Soul Eater and carried toward the jungles. I only survived to see the aftermath, sir. This female Max was accidentally left in Lockup during the battle, and even with full neural dampeners suppressing any control of her muscles, the Max unit still managed to rise up and fight the remaining Soul Eaters off of her own accord.”

“Oh, so now you believe me?” Tasgal turned toward her. The shifting of feet on tile let me know everyone was backing away from him. “I told you, I’ve told everyone, this maneater can still manage to put up resistance even with full control being forced on her. Every time I get in a room I halfway expect the remote control won’t work, and that she’ll just get up and start eating people even when locked still. Now you’re telling me that not only is it possible, you’ve seen it happen?! And you are AGAINST lobotomy for some stupid girly reason?”

“Maneater rose and went into battle to save Gashn soldiers, not only fighting off a small hoard of ten Soul Eaters who’s blasts of starfire could melt through the strongest of armor, but also chasing down the Soul Eaters that fled and tearing live Gesshru from the mouths of these beasts. I was inside a Soul Eater’s mouth alongside a Galm soldier by the name of Kepa, and Maneater here managed to rescue the both of us from its literal jaws. If I had the foresight to ignore lockdown entirely and simply allow this Max to roam freely, she would not have been so clumsy as to tank this many hits.”

Starfire now? Interesting. It was also possible the different words were interchangeable, or at least used as such in their common language. And every single one of these variations for the same phenomenon from natural ball lightning to the weapons these creatures used carried a negative or spiritual connotation behind it.

“Hrrggn … that’s the opposite of logic!” Tasgal shouts. “When the Max is uncontrollable, you clamp down harder to keep it under control! What kind of idiot suggests taking the neural dampeners off a Max? That will just get every one of us killed!”

“Pilot Doth.” Pamit spoke up softly, and I could all but hear that gentle gleam in his voice. “What of Galm’s position. You mentioned some supplies were destroyed in the attack?”

“Yes.” She answers. “More than half of their weapons were snapped or melted, but most of the food survived. The outpost commander seeks to shift location to the ruins of Scando, as their coral spires will provide air protection and are much better at resisting Starfire from these beasts than wooden buildings would do. As their population has recently been culled by Tasgal, it should offer a clean base to move to.”

“And you are all welcome.” Tasgal huffs.

“This I find interesting.” Pamit mused. “Soul Eaters do not leave behind garrisoned forces, they clear out entire villages and then come back for more. There were only one battalion, a hundred or so Gashn when first deployed. And they have sustained losses in the past month thanks to Cavni raiders, meaning even less than that were fighting. A force of twenty Souleaters should leave nothing behind, only empty buildings, or maybe a handful of scattered survivors who were lucky enough to evade detection.”

“Losses were heavy sir.” Doth answers with a tired respect. “Upon arrival I was informed they were eighty strong and doing well in their campaigns, after the Soul Eater attack they are now left with forty. The base commander requests a second delivery of weapons and for more soldiers to replenish their losses.”

“As can only be expected in their position. It will go under consideration.” Pamit’s voice was so entirely non-committal, it was easy to hear he hasn’t made up his mind and didn’t especially care about the base.

“This is rusted.” Tasgal seeths. “You are a rusted core from some Starflung speck in the sky, you know that? Saying this, to your base commander, with a straight face. What in the core is wrong with you?”

“Oh, this reminds me.” Doth turned up her nose and simply ignored the man’s ramblings.

“We need to lobotomize this Max! You heard her Pamit, does that sound at all safe to you? We should strip the minds of all of them! It’d be ruin if any of the Max units managed to break free of our control! Why does everyone think I’m insane for saying this? It’s just common sense!” The ravings of a lunatic that this Gashn commander might listen to. Pamit did not appear to be paying much mind.

“Reminds you of what, Pilot Doth?” the voice of Pamit sounded smooth and dangerous. As much as the squeakity chirps and teeth clacky purring noises could be.

“While the Soul Eaters sustained no permanent injury nor actual death, most choosing to flee after the first needle lands true, Maneater did manage to take one out of the sky and left it unconscious on the ground. Since then Galm soldiers have used the bands from our needle throwers to restrain the beast, and as soon as there is a proper cage I suspect they wish to have it sent to Ontal for a proper scientific examination.”

“Waitwat.” Tasgal balked.

“A captured Soul Eater? Really?” Pamit was intrigued.

“Exactly, sir.” Doth remained stoic and calm, if a bit wobbly from exhaustion. “Though it is but one, if we could find some way to study the creatures then we can enact better weapons against their hides or their attacks. If we can manage to make ourselves immune to their jaws and their Starfire, then we may be able to use the coasts along the northern jungles as a beachhead to strike into Cavni.”

“I see.” Pamit mused. “Nothing the Cavni can bring to bear will penetrate Max armor, but if the jungles were traversable that would open many opportunities we have not yet been able to consider.”

“This is insane!” Tasgal all but screams. “Why are you listening to this woman, she’s lying to you! Nothing she said is even possible!”

“Do you have an estimation of how soon this captured Soul Eater can be brought here?” Pamit was all but ignoring my pilot.

“By standard caravan travel, it should be a week. Assuming the creature survives the trip and doesn’t manage to escape along the way. If we send another Max unit for retrieval we can deliver their much needed supplies at the same time.” Doth breathed, clear relief showing in her voice.

“Rusted core, you people.” Tasgal huffs. “Burn my Max, you actually buy that rust spot of a story she’s feeding, and now what. Send another Max out to do the same mission she failed?”

“Will that be the extent of your report, miss Doth?” Pamit states simply as if Tasgal weren’t even in the room.

“Yes, sir.” Doth answers with pride. “If you do not mind I would wish to see the medical ward and then rest, I hope that would not be too much of a bother.”

“Of course not.” Pamit offers politely. “Your request for a permanent rest has been pre-approved by someone much higher than me. Agent Zer? If you do not mind.”

There was the sound of a rubber band snapping. The squelch of a spear jabbing through flesh, too fast for a scream and too wet sounding to have been a clean kill. I heard doth gasping for air, desperate squeaks struggling to call out some cry of alarm but not able to manage more than a wheeze. Had they punctured a lung? Next was the sound of a tiny rodent body falling to the floor, a yank and tearing flesh when the spear is pulled away and some of her clothes tear off with it.

Doth wasn’t moving.

“AAAAAhhhhh!?” Tasgal as the first to speak wasn’t quite as elegant as I would have hoped, but then I couldn’t even see what was happening.

“Is she still alive? Oh, do be silent before you meet the same fate.” Pamit scoffed. I could hear him walking.

“She isn’t dead yet.” The voice of an unknown Gesshru. Male and rugged by their standards. The voice of someone who doesn’t talk much.

“Now that is fortuitous. Carry her toward the direction of our medical ward, but actually take her to the torture chambers. If anyone asks you under my orders.”

“What. Why. How … WHAT?!” Tasgal balked, his mind all but snapped by the sound of it.

“Does this surprise you, Pilot Tasgal Flits?”

“You shot her! She was an idiot woman but you … why did you shoot her? Who the core do you think you are!”

“Why sir Flits.” Pamit was turning up his nose by the sound of it, pompous and sure of himself. “She was not shot on site, her injuries were sustained in the field of battle. By Cavni Federation soldiers who ride atop trained Souleaters, their idea of a counter to our max units. Though she perishes not a day after delivering this frightful news, we now have an example of the easterner’s war mounts.”

“You … you planned this. You came in here planning to kill her.”

“Doth Renfi died of war injuries, and she dies a hero, the only survivor bringing us news of this deadly, deplorable federation tactic. Unless you wish to join in her fate as a national hero, Pilot Tasgal, I would suggest you repeat this truth to any who asks.”

“That … wha- …” Tasgal was speechless.

I could hear grunting. I could hear blood splatters, a weak moan as Doth struggled to move, struggled to breathe. I could hear them walking. Tasgal staying behind even when the metal doors slide open and shut all too noisily behind them. I couldn’t see it. Still unable to turn, still no control granted back. But Tasgal remained.

He was breathing hard.

The pilot started to pace, always sticking near my back end as if afraid of getting within range of my teeth.

“This is insane.” Is all he manages to say before the doors open and Tasgal himself walks into the halls by his lonesome. Leaving me disappointed that he didn’t stay behind long enough for me to kill him. Frustrated at the fact I still couldn’t move. And above all, depressed. That I knew this was going to happen, and no matter how many times I told it to her this still caught Doth by surprise.

She wasn’t the first.

Doth wasn’t going to be the last.

Now just another name to add to that list, another regret alongside Galno, Twali, meaningless names to blur together. The memory of Prolam and Notla, a death so similar to Elak’s. Everything I’ve learned about her, all meaningless now. As if her story didn’t matter, her life less important than every other pilot before her. How many until I forget her entirely. How long must I endure before the death stops mattering in my mind, until the list of names becomes so long I stop bothering to keep track?

It was minutes of tranquil agony in a silent room before control of my own limbs was returned to me. Slumping forward, head touching the ground and my entire weight baring down. I staggered up into a crawl, not even bothering to stand on two legs. This was the first time in a long time I was too tired to rush toward the door and slam my fists against it. Too depressed. Far too thirsty, the pang of hunger burning away.

Too hopeless.

I crawled like a child to my food both and water. Making sure to take long sips through cupped hands, a tiny bit at a time just to keep my parched lips wet. Drops spilled down my chin, and I didn’t care. There wasn’t a point in caring anymore. There hasn’t been much point in caring for a long time now.

“H-help …” that weak voice muttered. A squeak, cry of alarm with an embarrassed pleading. There in my food bowl was Sotoral, naked and soaked through with dried gray paste staining his fur. The inside of the walls too high for him to reach, the soft mush far too diffuse for him to pile up and climb out. He didn’t look starved at least and there was probably enough liquid in the food for his paltry water requirements.

But he’s obviously spent the better part of a few hours inside here, and I doubt he’s enjoyed it.

My hand scoops down to pluck a dollop of food near his feet, bringing the mush to my lips and having a taste. Fur and meat, the flavorless paste now with an unmistakable hint of rat that would no doubt have soaked into the whole batch by now. For some reason all I could be thankful for was the fact it didn’t taste of blood.

“You’ll be fine.” I squeaked back with a resigned sigh. “Fine until you die too. Just like all the rest.”

“I can’t … please help me out? I’m n-not a food, I promise! Just … just get me out of here.” He seemed to offer this strange mix of boredom and panic. As if the sheer loneliness of his position weighed down on him, yet he still couldn’t help but flinch back at the idea of me adding his flesh to my meal.

A gentle hand reaches inside to pull him out. Dripping paste and curling up in terror, hugging at my finger to keep from sliding off as his chest and arms were far more slick than was strictly necessary. I’m not entirely certain if his yelp was at being lifted so high, or when a half slip almost causes him to drop, but he seems immensely relieved when placed down on bare tiles.

I thought about dipping him in the water to wash off, but Gesshru don’t handle temperature differences as well as humans. He might freeze to death or go into shock if he couldn’t maintain core body temperature. The safest way to clean him would be to lick off all of the offending paste, the flavor wasn’t too bad if a little musty and it’s not like I’d be offended at the prospect. But he might be, and reasonably so. I didn’t really want any part of these rats anywhere near my mouth if I could get away with it.

Sipping another drip of my water and now staining the drink gray as it rinses my fingers off, I was left with the distinct impression I should be glad that Doth wasn’t another corpse left behind for me to eat. That would not be pleasant to try and explain to this fellow prisoner.

“The Gashn.” He pipes up quietly, wiping his arms off and taking to shake the paste free. “They have infighting it seems. I didn’t realize they’d kill their own so ...”

He pauses.

“So callously?” I answer back, and the man’s ears flat down. He seems to have trouble lifting them back up when that paste sticks them together, his horns pointed in alarm and his hands forced to tug his ears free.

“So heartlessly. It’s like their leader doesn’t have a soul. And he doesn’t want his soldiers to have a soul either.” His words made me wish to file this away for any reference to legends or stories that involve people losing their soul while still alive, something that might be useful in understanding turns of phrase.

“More eloquent then I would have put it.” I mumble back. Taking another long gulp, before finally deciding to put wet hands directly atop my wounds. Wiping the blood away and massaging cold, damp water over the aching skin. If I didn’t clean out the infection I’d still be just fine, either my boosted immune system deals with this planet’s bacteria and I cope, or I succumb to it and die. Either way was a victory in my eyes. But healing is faster if the injury is cleaned and the pain ebbs away as my touch graces the skin.

“W-we … we need to escape.” He glances around as if anyone was listening. They were of course, not all the time but there were cameras pointed at us and occasionally people would watch it to see what we were doing inside this cage. But he either didn’t know this or didn’t care, because he kept talking anyway. “Both of us need to escape, alright. This place … it isn’t good for you either. And I don’t think I can make it out unless I have your help.”

“I’m all ears. All two of them” I shrug, closing my eyes and wiping gentle palms against my ribs, down my face, splashing water between my armpits and just feeling that difference as salt and blood are moved to the floor rather than my skin.

Soto pulls his ears back, but his horns pointing forward told me it was the volume and the sound making him uncomfortable as opposed to the actual content.

“I’ve got a plan for our escape, if you won’t mind hearing it …”

Another pluck of the food, downing it with desperate gulps once I was certain I’d paced myself enough. My response to his statement was a crude belch, couldn’t be helped, but he must have assumed this was an energetic roar. Because he didn’t take long trying to put me to work.
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Re: Gesshru (Arbon's attempt at Flash fiction)

Postby Mdcrmn » Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:29 am

So 5 humans with some form of fully automatic weapons vs the reletivly tiny and fast gesshru? Assuming none of the humans have a military background and they have little to no cover, the gesshru would win hands down. That isn't to say they wouldn't take heavy casualties but in the end the humans would be out numbered and out manuveared. Also I don't think there was an armed conflict between the gesshru and the humans, I mean the humans did come in peace and had no reason to assume that the gesshru would attack.
Now most of this is based on assumption so it could be way off in left field
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Re: Gesshru (Arbon's attempt at Flash fiction)

Postby arbon » Wed Apr 26, 2017 10:26 pm

As I'm writing into book two which might cover more of the dynamic and the world, the more ideas I get from other people the more I have to consider moving forward. Likewise reading your assumptions helps a lot in making sure I've portrayed things the way I intended them.

Thus far there has not been an armed conflict between humans and Gesshru, though the next chapter will see one human pitted head to head against the entire compound. Here's hoping it doesn't disappoint.
Last edited by arbon on Tue May 02, 2017 1:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gesshru (Arbon's attempt at Flash fiction)

Postby arbon » Tue May 02, 2017 1:37 am

My question for this chapter: "What plan would you have come up with to try and escape the compound? Can you think of any others that haven't been discussed in the story already?"


Gesshru
__________
Chapter 11


My name is Freya Savitri, and you know … maybe the pain could be ignored a while longer.

I’ll be the first to admit, this wasn’t a plan I’d have ever come up with. Nor was I entirely certain it would work. The whole thing depended on a Gashn concept of filth.

Sporcizia in Italian. Sordem in Latin. Snavs in Danish. Spina in Slovak. Yokungcola in Zulu. Pislik in Turkish. Immundicia in Catalan. Ndyresi in Albanian. Prljavstina in Bosnian. Nyansi in Chichewa. Salete in French.

Whatever word used to describe it, this facility is usually the opposite. Pristine walls, an off-white color to most of the panels, smooth featureless tiles that were long ago installed to look like a fancy bathroom and cover up the rough cement. It wasn’t typical Gesshru construction methods, all learned and mimicked from their knowledge of earth, but it was required to keep us from simply tearing apart the cage and smashing through walls.

“They don’t like the place being dirty.” Soto had explained all those hours ago, recounting his tales of adversity while I was off getting my ass handed to me by things the size of housecats. “But you aren’t a clean creature at all.”

His logic was sound. Having witnessed the mix of both old fashioned and primitive cleaning methods alongside their miniaturized version of my shuttle’s sterilization tools.

“As soon as this room was empty they all came in with hoses and soap things and strange glowing spears. And they just cleaned everything until it all shined.”

The other rat prisoner knew, at least in part, that I was controlled by the collar and they had a way to turn me off. He took it for granted that I would even want to escape, though considering I destroy cities for a living and thus far haven’t even harmed him yet it wasn’t too much of a stretch for the poor guy to figure out on his own.

“I didn’t want them to notice me and … you know. So I hid inside the food bowl. Buried myself whenever they got close and waited until they left.”

Soto had explained this plan in complete detail, and it made absolutely perfect sense in my mind. A bit of convincing was required, which he took less as a reason to refine his argument and more to repeat what he’d said with louder words and exaggerated gestures as if I simply failed to understand, but it was indeed a workable plan.

“So what if we make this place so dirty, they have no choice but to come in and clean up right now?

After two hours of living with the smell I was very strongly coming to regret his creativity.

The latrine was emptied near the far doorway, making sure human mess and dripping unmentionable was seeping through the cracks and into their grand hallway. My blood wasn’t so much a puddle staining a few spots on the ground as it was several wet smears, finger painting to make sure it was more difficult to clean out. The grey paste splashed against walls and floor and ceiling with little tosses. Not all of it mind, but enough to stick like a spitwad and certain to harden into the tiles before too long.

The stink of my armpits didn’t give the appearance of a stain, but Soto assured me that it was quite unpleasant for another Gesshru to be close to. So of course he’d persuaded me to rub the sweat on select parts of the floor and wall as if sewage wasn’t enough of a displeasing aroma to draw them in.

Gashn forces must have been busy with something, because they didn’t set foot inside the room for an uncomfortably long amount of time. Leaving myself and Soto to sit patiently in the far corner next to a mostly empty food bowl, and positioned right in front of a water bowl. Each of us trying our hardest to keep our nostrils from falling off.

“hrmpsh.” Came the whimpering noises of my prisoner with his face tucked inside my blanket. The only other feature being those feeding tubes in the wall, but they wouldn’t do anything until it came time to refill the two pet bowls. Assuming they chose to do so rather than just leave us to suffer.

I said nothing. That was part of the plan you see, I had to keep my mouth closed. That didn’t stop the Gesshru from speaking, but I guessed with some degree of certainty that he was pleased by the lack of thunderous responses. Or perhaps amazed by the fact I’ve listened to him at all. My voice alongside the smell of week old sewage would have just compounded his suffering.

“Ohcore this is just insanity. Completely insane.”

My lack of speech didn’t do a thing to stop him from talking, and even if it wasn’t painful it was heartbreakingly annoying.

“Inside a Gashn stronghold, days away from the nearest civilization, sitting inside a Max unit’s food bowl, sending wishes to the core that this all turn out okay. Did you think that’s how this week would go? I sure didn’t.”

His incredulously for this week somewhat mirrored mine for the past several years, stranded on an alien planet while somehow held prisoner by a race of primitive creatures that seem to instantly copy and improve on earth’s technology only to then slowly dwindle back down to mediocrity as the generations pass.

“I should be back home. I’m supposed to be a farmer, not … feed for the livestock. Come on door, just open.”

It didn’t open at his command, nor at his pleading. Even his shouts were met with no response for yet another hour still. Silence reigned when the man fell asleep, but the lights never dimmed and I refused to move from my spot. Our plan required exact positioning. Within arm’s reach of my food bowl and with my face just above the water bowl.

Another hour passes, coming onto four hours of stink and anticipation. My limbs cramped and my mind as blank as possible, the taste of spit and water long dulled into a noxious blandness that left me wanting for a real drink. Some hard liquor perhaps, I don’t usually get drunk but just dulling the pain might be worth it.

Muscles locked.

I could feel when they’d clicked me into lockdown, and with my lips still closed I hummed as loudly as I could manage to make sure the little guy wakes up. My hips bend and my face angles toward the ground, but that water bowl was directly in the way.

My face, carefully aimed, scrapes against the edge and slides my chin up. Painfully, robotically as if ignoring the existence of this obstruction, but enough to make sure my head was pointed forward even as my body angles downward. A strain on my spine as muscles keep trying to level this out and get my face pressed to the ground, a pain on my chin from building pressure.

“Hmph … wha?” Soto grumbles awake. But he can see it, across the room.

That door was starting to creak open, and a new wash of smells were billowing into the room. Standing at the precipice were an interesting swarm of Gesshru all neatly concealed behind … hazmat suits? No, cobbled together clothing of rubber and plastic with tinted orange visors. The same color as my own helmet. Their clothes looked ill fitting and hastily made, all appearing to stem from the food wrappers used to store prisoners. There wasn’t an air tank and they did appear to be air-tight, even if they weren’t vacuum sealed.

Gesshru could go a long time without air. They were probably holding their breath beneath the helmet, and these things were only just built an hour ago if I had to take a guess. I’ve never seen them employ this sort of technology before, especially not for this application.

“Oh starflung mother of a Gashn, no! This will ruin my plan!” I heard Soto chitter in a hurried whisper. His position beneath my chin left him mostly hidden from view, but then if the bowl slipped there was a small chance he’d be crushed beneath my face. The suits? Why would those prevent our plan from …

Oh …

“No, nononono! Come ooooooonnnnn!” I heard the clicks a short time after spotting Soto move into action. My helmet was unfolding, and if it finished then it would cover my face almost completely. Even with the holes near one end it wouldn’t leave my moth exposed, and that’s the part I needed. Forget the suits.

Soto bodily flung himself between the interlocking plastic, grabbing his tiny paws atop the high end of the collar and trying to keep it locked in place. Holding it still, his thin body straining against motors and whirring gears to prevent the inevitable.

This helmet still only had the same amount of force as a toy, and if I were given free movement I could have done exactly this with one finger. But Soto’s entire body was about the length of my finger, so I could imagine his difficulties. It was enough though.

“Ggnn. H-huury!” he whispered again, hoping not to be seen and knowing that he’s in trouble regardless of what happens. I needed to search. Look for where that signal was coming from, look for one with the remote.

One, two, four, no that makes six, and then I think another three. There had to have been ten Gesshru cleaners in makeshift protective gear, all stepping gingerly over the layer of dried sewage. Every last one of them evidently thankful to have a full body cover, and moving slowly. They were pretty far away …

I wasn’t going to be able to make the shot, and I’m not sure which one to aim for.

“Can’t … hold …” Soto gasps, and I can feel the plastic wrapping up beneath my chin. I can feel the way it clinks against the side of a water bowl and tries to push past, struggling from that sheer pressure of my neck straining to press down. It expands out, but then folds back slightly. This prisoner’s strength proving enough to keep it in position.

They just weren’t close enough. There was … wait, no. I could see one now, in the far back and turning his head to inspect a spot of crimson spelling out rude words on the wall behind him. There was a controller in his hands, damned dollar tree remote control that does nothing more than house a button or two and send a very simple radio signal to my collar. It’s cheapness was insulting. But then it’s cheapness housed an age old limitation that every child with electronic toys and heavy rainfall has grown to dread.

Earliest ones were approaching, closer and closer as if more to inspect the damages than to actually begin cleaning. One got his foot stuck in the half dried food paste, panicking slightly and getting laughed at by his friends. Two moved up to assist, grabbing the shoulders and pulling him free with a bit of effort.

Come on, not you guys. The other one!

The helmet whirred, straining harder. I could hear Soto’s pained cries as muscle worked against tireless robotics in their hideous struggle. Soto was losing after a fashion, the back part unfolding just enough to cover my skull in a half circle and only my visor remaining locked down in its earliest stage. Of course without the supporting fragments that the visor slots into, there wasn’t enough to fold out against with the side plastics intended to wrap around my face.

Closer. That one guy with the remote now remains near the doorway itself. Too far, annoyingly too far. What if he never comes close enough, does that blow my chances at this? How many more chances will I even get before they adapt. Because that’s what they will do, adapt again and make sure this gambit never works. Another doomed …

Screaming.

It didn’t sound like screaming to my ears, but that’s what Soto was doing. The shrill screech, a high pitched squeaking that starts off low and extends into a long note of pure agony. That got everyone’s attention, and suddenly the whole swarm was coming closer to investigate. Oh! Even my target funnily enough.

I could smell blood. That iron scent of Gesshru blood all too similar to the blood of a human. Fresh and clean, not dried and old and clearly infected. I could feel the warm splatter. There was soto in the corner of my vision, no longer holding the helmet open and free to step away from my neck. His teeth were bloody and his lips stained crimson.

His tail was missing, cut off at the midpoint …

I didn’t have to ponder long to figure out what he had jammed my collar open with, gears and intricate folding plastics don’t function well under even the slightest obstruction.

The swarm was close enough now. My face was aimed perfectly and my targets in sight, without any obstructions. So I unleashed my weapon.

It has often been said in ancient myths and legends that a dragon held the capacity to breath fire or spew venom across a field. After I spit a mouthful of water at full force into the nearest Gesshru, I can’t help but imagine there will soon be legends of a human who can breath mist. Drinking water and old spit crashes into the first protected cleaner, flinging him backward and leaving the poor thing tumbling through a light puddle. He slams into the next, and a third simply falls backward while holding up two paws to protect from the spray. Two managed to simply slide back into a crouch, or anticipated my attack early enough to lean into the water and hold their ground.

I’m shamefully forced to admit that I didn’t even hit all of them, my aim was off and some weren’t close enough. I’d only sprayed five out of the ten with any decent blows.

Soto didn’t take this as discouragement though, even with five still on their feet … they weren’t armed. And he was going to die anyway. He rushes around the corner of the bowl and takes to all fours in a dead sprint. Paws splashing in the water, his fur stained by my blood. His own stump of a tail leaked drops of crimson behind, but he didn’t slow down.

“C-come on! An-another!” he screams. There was terror in his voice. A gnawing panic on his face that showed he knew, that man knew all too well, this was his last chance.

I couldn’t move my head to suck in water from this angle, but I did have enough saliva already in my mouth. I took to collecting a spitball.

The one in a crouch stands back onto his feet, the three on the ground slide up into a crouch, and the seven others already on their feet take a defensive stance. Their movements slow and their visibility dropped, and of course they’d all be managing a fight without the ability to breathe. But even still it was ten against one, and I wasn’t helping much.

Soto dives in amongst the crowd with a screaming bravery. As if he had to hype himself up just to get over the fact he was doing this at all. Target lined out, he rushes up to the closest and burliest Gashn, then immediately darts right past. Splash and splash, the puddle spreads thin and the liquid wets his paws.

They retaliate of course, giving chase. Everyone on their feet and surging toward that one man, four within range and reaching to grab. One latches onto soto’s shoulder and holds him still, another grabs the waist, a third misses completely as he swipes too soon, and a fourth finds purchase on that prisoner’s hips.

There was no time. Never enough time. I don’t bother taking careful aim, I just point my lips in his general direction and blow. A glob of spit fired in desperation, and then met with failure. Even in the middle of a grapple that one Gashn had enough time to see my lips pursing and duck beneath the oncoming liquid.

This was not good, this was not good at all.

Soto attempts to tear his way free from the three assailants, but isn’t doing any better than I am. The whole swarm closes in. Surrounding the man completely, chittering to themselves beneath the layer of rubbers and plastic, making sure there was no avenue of escape.

One focuses on tearing the prisoner’s legs out from under him, knocking Soto to his knees and leaving him scrambling against the weight and the water. Slick and damp and bleeding profusely, his severed tail staining the suits. My helmet groans as even now it’s still trying to close, it still has the order to do so, and that man’s sacrifice is the only reason it hasn’t yet.

It’s all happening too fast. Can’t think, can’t plan, the two others grabbing hold of him try to push the man prone, but his arms balance against tile and his strength is enough of a match for them both. Uncoordinated efforts and unskilled grappling from all parties, leading to an awkward shoving match of ups and downs.

I pursed my lips, there was no helping it if I didn’t take aim. Firing blindly wasn’t going to work, and trusting Soto to accomplish anything but distraction was foolhardy in this instance. I had to hope …

“Is that all you’ve got?!” Soto shouts, tugging his shoulder forward and wincing at the pain. He wasn’t breaking free from their grip, and for his shout they respond with a kick to the face. A glancing tap that wasn’t aimed well even if one didn’t account for the suit, but enough to annoy. Still others try to shove him down, pulling his face to the floor and his legs behind him. He’s striving, applying all of his strength against the bulky looking hazmat suits, and only manages to throw one off balance. One arm behind his back and the other pressed against his chest, full weight of three rats baring down on him.

Last chance. I simply had to hope that if I get that remote control wet it will actually release the collar. If it was just a toggle that I’m set to rather than an ongoing signal, then I’m completely screwed, and honestly I don’t remember what the case was. Usually it’s soldiers coming in while the assistants with remote controls hang outside, I haven’t had many chances to experiment on them.

I took aim. Careful breathing while Soto screams and bites, hisses and squeaks. Receiving a bruise for his trouble. The one guy with a remote was close, stepping into the crowd. He was saying something yet it was too distant for me to tell what.

I spit. My lips puckered and breath heaving, a forceful glob is sent flying into that one man. He falls into the ground and skids a good distance away from the sheer force of that impact, his control clatters to the floor at his feet.

It was in liquid now. Not covered in spit the way I would have hoped, but still splashed into that thin line of dampness looking all too similar to when someone started to mop a bathroom floor. I tried to move. This just had to work, I had to …

No movement came. My arms just as bound, one helpfully extending out to produce a ramp while the other quite nicely supports my face. Ohgodwow my neck hurts, this wasn’t me trying to look straight ahead this was every muscle in my body shoving downward to force my head to peer into the floor, and there just happened to be a solid object in the way that prevents me from doing so. But my body is so dumb anyway that it doesn’t care, and keeps applying pressure as if that might solve anything.

My face turning white from the lack of blood to my chin, my neck cramping and sore and likely to do so for a long time. I could breathe, I could speak, and that was just about it.

“A-aarrghgg!” the sound was far too bestial to have come from me. Was I really that damaged? A primal scream. A wordless rage against fate itself that left me closer to the impression of a wounded animal than the rational analytics of a trained linguist. My name is Freya Savitri, and the girl I know did not shout in such agony.

None of the other Gesshru knew that girl however, as each appeared to express an opinion of shock in my direction as if I were somehow the cause of their burst eardrums. Or maybe my face, twisted in anger while scrambling to build another spitwad just to spite them was enough of a distraction.

Soto tries to claw his way forward, pinned on his chest and with the controller right in front of him. His one arm free …

His one arm that, bless his little soul, presses the button.

Everyone had a collective moment of “ohshit” or some variation of the expletive the moment my arms were working again. The very instant I felt slack on my neck, watching this whole fight and knowing that Soto would loose. Knowing any one of them could just press the button again and I’m back to helpless.

No hesitation.

My left hand scoops up a glob of nutriment paste and lobs toward the crowd in a single motion. I wasn’t aiming for them, but it was a big enough handful that some had to dive to one side anyway. Soto has his face matted down but his legs are sticking out, two of the people who were holding him break their grip and throw themselves to once side, a third Gesshru attempts to dodge and fails miserably, while a fourth …

Dove into the attack.

He was diving hand-first and headlong directly at the target of my own attack, and if that splattering of food mush wasn’t enough to slow him down then there is nothing to stop him from pressing that button again.

There were no words, only movement. Pain as my aching legs stretch too far and clotted burn marks start to bleed again. My feet slip over the wet floor and obstacles in my path. I trip once, landing knee first and bashing it pretty hard. Doesn’t slow me down in the slightest.

My hands slap down on top of the grey mush and close, pull the fingers around. I felt one but didn’t relax as I couldn’t tell which one. Felt for the other, shoving aside paste and reaching for the rodent, plucking him up by the feet. Most of the rest had avoided my lunge, but weaponless and without a remote themselves there wasn’t much they could do. The ones in my grip were the real focus, and unable to see past the sloppy mush and their thick suits I was forced to feel their hands.

Not fast enough. Too slow, why is everything so slow and aaaarrghh!

The touch of plastic. Tiny and fragile between my fingers, one of the rubber suit rodent things was clawing to keep hold of it. Waving tiny paws at the botton and shoving at my fingers as if this would force me to let it go.

I brought the remote control to my lips, placed it sideways between my teeth, and bit down. All movement stops and all of their hopes seem to dwindle as my chewing reverberates through the room.

No time, can’t bother with these cleaners.

Soto took the brunt of an attack and probably couldn’t breathe. My elbows were almost on top of him. I’m sure I knocked down at least one of the panicking Gesshru as I stood up. But it was easy to make out which food covered rat was naked, and trivial to scoop up Sotoral’s legs and hold him toward my face. I was already on the move, no stopping, no delay, this is my moment and I need to just escape. Worry about details later, move, and move and don’t stop moving.

I spit out the plastic and copper, wires tasting awkward on the palette and giving me a newfound perspective on what freedom tastes like. Tiny mouse thing gripped between my fingers, a running start toward the open hallway.

Ohgod my legs screamed at me every time I stepped. But I carelessly abused them for all their dedicated and justified alarm concern the state of my damaged skin. Barefoot, I didn’t want to walk through the deliberately spilled sewage and was forced to jump inste-

CLANG!

Even as I jumped through the doorway, they were closing it. My forehead smashes into the metal and forces a slight dent, my feet fly out from under me and I’m left with a hard slam of shoulders onto tile floor. I have just landed belly up in a smear of my own filth, while half naked and bleeding. A glance to my left I could see him, a terrified Gesshru in a lab coat working for all his life on that door panel.

Through the corner of my eye I could still see the sliding metal doors coming down on where my neck would have been. I’m sure if I stayed there long enough that could kill me, and in all honesty dying right now wouldn’t be that bad. I’m never going to live down this embarrassment, so can I die down it?

No, not when I’m this close. Avoiding that fate was as simple as sitting up and trying not to think about the awful stains on my arms and legs.

Soto was wiping his face clear and hyperventilating. That one poor lab assistant had the smart idea of stepping inside my cage rather than running away, after all humans walk faster and the door closed almost immediately behind him. The guy could even open it from the inside, and all that really mattered at the moment was making sure that whichever side of the doors I was, he wasn’t.

So …

I was in the main hallway? He wasn’t anymore.

My smile grew in spite of the aches and blood and clear risk of infection. Something I’ll never worry about so long as those medical nanites work as intended.

On my feet with the enemy ahead of me, a food stained Gesshru in hand, and the full panicked outpost of many little screaming rat people.

Doth was probably dead by now. I wish I’d known her well enough to catch her opinion on revenge.
Last edited by arbon on Sun May 14, 2017 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gesshru (Arbon's attempt at Flash fiction)

Postby Mdcrmn » Thu May 04, 2017 1:44 am

Yeah escape is definitely a tricky problem. I think you have covered most of the possible ways the humans could escape.

Also I hope Frey's team includes a medic because her wounds sound really bad.

An I hope you're getting more feedback than just me! It seems like I'm the only one still reading along with your posts!
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Re: Gesshru (Arbon's attempt at Flash fiction)

Postby Mdcrmn » Fri May 12, 2017 4:47 am

Hope you post the next chapter soon
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