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Falling Sky: Ghosts Beneath
By Myths n’ Wraiths
He marched down the narrow dimly lit hall with solemn resolve in his stride. The sound of his heavily armored boots striking the ground resounded down the dusty walls. Beneath his shimmering gauntlets his pail fingers gripped the handle of his massive war blade with deadly resolve. The respirator in has battle helmet made a slight hissing sound in conjunction with his slow and steady breathing.
Every confident but wary step was driven by a deliberateness and honor. It was here, in this very hall that an entire squad of his soldiers had gone missing. Ten of his best Rikti had vanished, their last report one of fear and death. The shrill thoughts of their last telepathic link still resounded in the corners of his mind; it’s a ghost, a demon!
This world had been full of challenges for him and his fellow Rikti. The heroes of this plain had proven an unexpected force to be reckoned with for the righteous Rikti Army. They had proven a rare thrill for him.
A true warrior, born to the field of battle, raised in the truest customs of the Rikti war sect, and trained in the ancient forms of combat which had been passed down the elite line of his clan’s lineage. The morals of their campaign, their holy war on the precursor’s home world, he left to his cousins in the political and religious sect’s. The debates had raged for years before the invasion was executed. Countless times he had attended the council meetings to hear the decision and countless times the conclusion had been delayed. The conquest of ones own origins is not a campaign to be taken up lightly. Even he, as a warrior, understood the weight of their actions during these days. Peaceful solutions had been discussed for days on end; alternatives to annihilation considered from every aspect. The question always came back to the same conclusion; the Rikti would not share their lands with an equal class. Thousands of years of advanced gene manipulation had molded them into the master race and the lesser human stage was inherently inferior. How could they share their power with such a people? But would the precursors accept their role as a second class race on earth? As hard as the decision to invade earth unprompted was to make, it was inevitable in his eyes. So he had waited, trained, and prepared.
Now that the moments were present, they were sweet and savory in his mind. He and his soldiers had spearheaded the initial assault in what the precursor‘s called Baumtown. A glorious display of the Rikti war machine, their victory in that zone had been sudden and complete. The honor he had found there lay in the efficiency of his skill and tactics, not in the challenge of battle. He had the element of surprise, he had the superior weapons and skill, and he was a Rikti. The true challenge of battle, the true glory had come when he and his forces had moved into the outskirts of the adjacent zones and encountered the “Heroes” of this world. Most were worthy adversaries. Despite the fact that they were clumsy on the battlefield and just as often a threat to their own people as they were to his, their powers made them lethal foes.
Countless of them had already fallen to his sword however, and unless his guess was wrong another was about to suffer the same fate. He had not been on this planet long, but during his brief stay he had slain many things. Many strange and curious creatures had shed their blood on his armor, but not a ghost. Not yet at any rate.
The dusky hall he had been traveling down emptied suddenly into a large dark room. With a simple thought the vision in his helmet switched from standard vision to thermal and, while holding his position at the entrance to the room, he scanned the cavern entirely. In the center of the otherwise empty area laid the bodies of ten Rikti soldiers, his soldiers. In the soft glow of his thermal sight, he could see that portions of their body had been drained of heat. The flesh and armor were still intact but portions of their body had been depleted of both life and energy.
On the far end of the room he could make out the lines of a door. Switching to depleted light vision he saw that it was a set of double doors that were chained shut. Nothing else was in the room, nothing that existed in the plain of the living at any rate.
Shrugging off any doubts he took confident strides to the center of the room, the sound of his boots resounding in the silence of the death chamber. His stride brought him quickly to the center of the room, amidst the scattered bodies of his fallen comrades. Lifting his sword with reverence he turned its tip to the floor and thrust it into the dusty cement. Resting his hands on the now erect hilt, he squared his shoulders and relaxed his senses. The only sound that could be heard in the chamber was the faint hiss of his breathing. The only motion was that of his chest rising and falling in steady rhythm. With patience born from years of dedication and training, he waited for his enemy; he waited and watched.
With senses heightened by both discipline and technology he took in every factor of his surroundings, but his mind drifted to the door in front of him. He pondered the chain that dangled from its handles.
What are you defending? He asked, knowing full well that even if the precursor could hear his thoughts he would not be able to understand them. To his surprise however, a response did come.
First a faint rustle of motion, a noise so soft that it could have been the brushing of a spider’s legs along the dark walls as it spun its web. The noise grew slowly, appearing in a slow rhythm and moving between him and the door.
You’re no ghost, He said. I hear your footsteps, and ghosts don’t have footsteps. But rest assured, a ghost you will soon be.
The noise stopped once it reached the door. He knew with undoubting certainty that that was where the creature stood but despite switching through every viewing selection his helm had he could not see it. It made no matter, eyes were only one of his senses.
In a show of skill and a clear challenge, he pulled his massive blade from the floor and pointed its glimmering tip towards where he knew his quarry to be. The precursor, if that was what it was, could not hear his thoughts, but the message was unmistakable.
In response to his taunt, the silhouette of a short but solid precursor began to fade into view several feet in front of him. The hero was unarmed and wore no armor that could be seen, but that meant little when it came to judging his danger. Testaments to his skill as a killer laid strewn around the room.
Beneath his battle helm the Rikti curled his thin lips into a smile. All around him lay bodies of Rikti soldiers who had received a righteous death at the hands of this precursor. To defeat him would mean glory, to die would mean glory. So for glory he charged.
Shouting a mental shriek that would have staggered the mind of lesser creatures, the Rikti lunged in and swung his massive blade in a wide horizontal arc. Neither of the attacks had any affect on his quarry and the slighter warrior leapt over the blade, evading his attack.
The pair battled in epic form. The seasoned warrior clashing with the creature of shadow and darkness. His mighty blade cut through the air, an instrument of death hungry and frustrated. The device was desperate to taste the blood of the less noble precursor, but the agile form evaded it with cunning ease, slipping into the shadows to disappear from sight then striking from behind. A true creature of the dark.
Fear seemed to flow from the shadows, assaulting his senses in tangent with the precursors deadly strikes of dark energy. Fear, however, held no more sway on him then his psychic attacks held on his adversary. Fear holds no power over the fearful.
The attacks against him were relentless but were slowly becoming predictable. His adversary was fierce, relentless and cunning, but it was only human. Dodging another attack his adversary ducked into the darkness. He let his senses take control of his limbs and by extension his weapon. The heavy blade came up over his head and thrust down behind his back seemingly of its own volition. The satisfying tension of his blade striking its target met his feelings, the becoming noise of a gasp of pain met his ears. He brought the blade up and swung it around in a wide arc, hoping to finish his quarry off but to his surprise and frustration his prey had eluded the strike. The precursor had leapt clear of his attack once again, though this time its left forearm hung from its elbow by mere threads of flesh.
Without mercy or hesitation the Rikti warrior charged in to finish off his adversary. He leveled his blade and leapt forward, thrusting the sword out to pierce his enemy through the chest while it was still gripping its wound. At the last second however, the precursor bounded up and, kicking off of his blade, drove its knee into his battle helm with a enough power to shatter the alloy armor. His vision exploded in nova white pain, blinding him and forcing him to his knees.
Even when his body failed him, his training did not. Off of muscle memory and instinct he hit his knees and rolled forward. He came to his knees once again, now facing his enemy. Shaking the pain from his head he discarding his shattered helm.
In true warrior form his enemy did not relent for a moment. The precursor charged him, the arm that he had nearly severed only seconds earlier struck at him with deadly force and unleashed even more deadly nether energy. The blows were ruthless and true, landing on his now unprotected head.
The warrior tried to swing his sword but the aim was askew. The blade went high and his enemy went low. He felt his wrist being trapped by the precursors harsh grip and he was hurled through the air, his sword breaking free from his grip and traveling in the opposite direction.
The master swordsman had barely landed on the ground before the precursor was on him again. The nether energy sucked the life from his face with each brutal blow. He felt his jaw give way to a strike, next his eye socket collapsed, and a well place blow crushed his throat. With an almost detached sense of understanding the rikti realized that he was dyeing. While his broken jaw could not react to his will any longer, in his pail grey eyes any Rikti could have seen that he was smiling.