There are not enough adjectives to describe the Mono, Maserati, Sleepy Eyes of Death show at Neumo’s. So, I present to you two short stories based on the Maserati and Mono sets. There’s no Sleepy Eyes of Death story because I was busy and missed their set. Kind of on purpose.
I pressed the gleaming red button for the decoy flares. The button that represented the last hope I had before two guided rockets slammed into the back of my ship. The last hope we all had.
It was my mission to infiltrate the enemy base and take out the power core. I had all the training and confidence that any of our pilots possess, but I had something special. Talent.
I had the most confirmed kills in my squadron. The squadron that had the most confirmed kills in the whole of the rebellion forces. With hundreds of enemy fighters, several enemy capital ships and even a small moon base to our destructive credit, we undoubtedly were the most feared group of soldiers in the rebellion.
Which makes it extraordinarily strange that I’m failing so terribly right now.
The ambush was relatively simple. I appeared out of hyperspace in the midst of an attacking enemy force. Buzzers and klaxons erupted while a plethora of flashing lights blinded me from inside the cockpit and from the blasts of enemy fire. This was supposed to be a safe position. That’s what our information told us. Apparently, we were misinformed.
Evasive action. I slammed the stick straight forward, sending myself into a steep dive, avoiding the brunt of the ring of enemy ships. Two followed. Rolling and twisting, they chased me down. I banked left and their shots missed right. Rolled right and they missed left. Sometimes, this is too easy. I looked up from my rear facing screens to see two more fighters ahead of me.
A quick burst of energy from my blasters splits the team in front and they dive to the sides. I fly right between them and look back to see one of the front fighters just clip the wing of a rear pilot, spinning them both out of the chase. Only one to go.
You can tell by their commitment that they have been offered a great reward for my demise. Luckily the floating debris around the base I was supposed to destroy offers me some cover from the onslaught. It’s treacherous to fly through, but I can manage. If I can just make it a little farther, the magnetic interference might hide my signal from their sensors. Just a little…
Too late. A battle cruiser had been signaled by the fighter and intercepted my path. The father of these two baby rockets that are now screaming towards the tail end of this little freedom fighter. One of which just missed my decoy flares.
A horrible crunch and blinding light followed by static.
The battle cruiser calls in the kill. Returning triumphantly to the base, the commander takes a moment to gloat to his first officer. The squad will surely be rewarded.
However, this is war. Over the communications line, the Grand General informs them that the next task is to visit a small forest moon and decimate the rebel base there. The commander slams his fist on the “end communication” button as he relays the order to his first officer. They turn towards the moon.
The battle is short and relatively painless. A few small groups of rebels escaped into hyperspace, but they will be tracked down soon enough. The victory is now complete and celebrations can begin in earnest.
The warlords land on the moon and pile out of their ships into the ruined courtyards below. Looting and partying fill the streets of this once bustling rebellion town. The victors dance on the rooftops (the ones that are left, at least) and in the shells of now hollow buildings. Their chants and music rings through the forest, scattering the native creatures.
The victory is complete.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
I awoke seeing darkness. The beeping I heard was incessant and it took me ages to recognize the emergency life support system. It took me longer to realize I was still alive. The rocket that hit my ship completely destroyed one of my two engines, knocked me out, and pushed my craft into the debris ring around the enemy base. The explosion must have blocked the enemy’s view of my ship, or they would have come back for a killing blow.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Now, what do I do? If I signal, the enemy will know. Can I fly on one engine? Can I escape from here? I’ve been lucky thus far, maybe I’ll just try it.
Power up sequence, nervous glance out the cockpit at the base, make some changes to the computer program to allow for one engine, nervous glance back at the engines, “come on baby, let’s do this”, press the button to start the engines.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Roar.
It worked! I turn slowly to my exit vector and hit the hyperspace jump button. In the blink of an eye, I am safe.
The forest is sleepy this evening. Leaves have taken a break from dancing through sunbeams on their trip to the soft floor. The streams have slowed to a crawl and the crickets have momentarily ceased their twilight chatter. A gentle wind teases the golden wisps of hair that spring out of her helmet as she sits to rest and get her bearings. It’s been a long march.
The last battle wasn’t bad, just a small band of robbers at the side of the road. A swing of an axe or two and a well placed kick dispatched the trio of miscreants. Yet there is something sinister about the recent attacks, no matter how minor they may seem. Like a challenge. And even these minor battles seem so tiring. She hangs her head a bit at the thought of continuing like this. Alone and fighting everything.
Yet, there is nothing to be done except continue on. She returns her helmet to her head. A gift from the king, it has served her well. Hopefully it will continue to do so as she makes her way through the forest towards the city she calls home.
A half-mile down the road, the evening chill sets in and she draws her cloak tighter. These woods are relatively safe at night, but there’s always a chance. And that sinister feeling is still haunting her.
When the first wolf jumped out from the underbrush, she was a fraction of a second too slow to skewer it on the end of her short sword. As she turns to face the beast, the growls of three other wolves echo around her. Something has clearly possessed them, as their eyes glow an eerie green. A familiar color, but there is no time to think of where she’s seen it now. The beasts are sizing her up, looking for a weakness. She is crafting a battle plan as the rightmost wolf lunges at her legs.
That plan is quickly reformulated as a wolf pounces from her right, knocking her sword from her hand. As she scrambles on the ground to draw her axe, the other three wolves leap towards her. Quick as a flash, the axe swings out and scores a killing blow in the flank of the wolf on her right. It knocks the other two wolves off balance and far enough away for the warrior to get to her feet and regain the advantage. At this point, the first wolf has circled around and is preparing another assault. The warrior quickly counter attacks, charging the snarling wolf, axe gleaming and deadly behind her head. A powerful blow drives the axe through the top of the wolf’s skull, crushing it to the ground.
With half the pack dispatched, she focuses on the other two. Stepping back to retrieve her short sword, she wields both weapons with skill. As the two wolves begin to circle, she keeps a watchful eye on their position and tightens her grip. In an instant, she hurls the short sword end-over-end at the closest wolf, just missing. However, this caused enough of a distraction that she was able to lunge forward and attack. Her axe whistled through the air and down through the spine of one wolf as she kicked at the other wolf with spiked boots. This bought her enough time to extract her axe from it’s resting place and meet the attacker’s charge with it, ending the final wolf’s existence.
Breathing heavily, she inspected the grisly scene. The familiar pang of regret for killing another living thing sprung up inside her, but this time it was too much to bear. The thought of continuing this path for the rest of her life, the path her god had chosen for her, was too much. She vented her frustration by screaming towards the heavens, “Why? Why must I fight?”
As if in response, the first drop of rain landed at the ground in front of her. Followed quickly by blinding lightning and deafening thunder. Again, a battle. However, this was the time to change her own destiny. She turned toward the mountain in the east. The mountain where it is said that the gods reside.
After days of travel she found herself at the base of the mountain. Looking up, she saw the minions cascading down to greet her. This would be the final battle, then. So be it.
At her first step up the mountain, an arrow buzzed past her helmet. She drew her shield closer and held her trusty axe tighter as she steeled her resolve. The battle raged as she made her way up the mountain. A troll scored a hit on her shield arm, numbing it. He looked confused when the axe sliced open his gut, but soon he saw no more. She fought scores of beasts as she made her way up, using their downhill momentum against them at times, merely out maneuvering them at others. As the air got thinner, she never tired. It was as if she’d been preparing for this final battle the whole of her existence. And luck was still in her favor. She survived several near misses and easily defeated many foes. This was her chance and she was taking it.
When she reached the summit, a man in a deep green cloak was waiting. She finally recognized the green she had seen in the eyes of the wolves she fought a few nights ago. Her god had sent those wolves out to attack her. She didn’t speak. He already knew the question. She already knew the answer. She just exhaled and prepared herself, swapping her shield for her short sword.
Before his cloak hit the floor, she was running. Towards her god with axe raised high and sword poised to strike. Of course, he was ready. His broadsword absorbed both blows and rang with strength. She was quick, though. Spinning around his side she scored a glancing blow off his armor. His scowl changed to a knowing grin as she spun to face him.
Their eyes locked for a moment then she did the unthinkable. She bent to one knee and placed her weapons on the ground. This was not a battle she could win. Her whole life of fighting had to end now. She was done.
He took a step towards his servant and raised his sword. As he started to bring the weapon down in a killing blow, she lunged forward and picked up her sword, simultaneously thrusting upwards into the gap between the deity’s armor plates. The sword instantly melted in her hands, but his broadsword dropped harmlessly to the ground. Her god put his hand on the wound and brought it up to look at his own blood. He was grinning as he collapsed to the ground. He no longer had to fight either.
And in all her battles, this is the only one she did not regret. Until the end of her peaceful remaining days.