Thursday, January 2, 2014

Laufey's Treasure - Chapter 20

Laufey's father had taught him many things in the art of war. Between Ragna and himself were hundreds of hours of combat training and stratagems finely ordered and cataloged in their brain. The battle bot did not worry him, neither did its old world plasma exchangers. He summed up the machine. Bi-pedal, top heavy, reduced maneuverability on turns, all of these aspects plainly clear. It was what was inside that worried him. He knew what he did from the old world archives in the cognitive transfer, hidden away in the mountains by the village elders. Despite this, he knew of the hidden things he would find inside. Darker, secret things.

Raising his construct sword he peeked his head over the dune, motioning for the triplets to remain calm and quiet.

"Stay put," he whispered harshly, making clear eye contact with them all. Ragna said nothing, though nodded in agreement.

"The illusion won't recycle itself," Geira said, looking up from her console. "I can't interface with the machine remotely however while I have the jamming fields operating."

"So then a training exercise," Laufey said.

"Drop the legs," Ragna said bolting out from the dune and charging the machine.

"Way ahead of you," Laufey replied, following her from behind.

The point of the maneuver was simple: aim high and low. It was a tactic used to disable an enemy soldier in tandem with another; very common. Laufey always took the lead, leaping high into the air, aided by jump boots, while Ragna turned on her defense barrier. Laufey released the sword, casting it down on the machine, which sparked in the air. The smell of ozone tainted the mists.

Ragna unleashed a blow against the machine which lurched backwards. Laufey's blade struct it in the front paneling. A cascade of sparks and smoke exploded from the hull of the machine, but not before two bolts of plasma exploded from it's cannons. One of them harmlessly missed Laufey, arcing into the distance. The other, however, pierced Ragna's shield, much to her surprise. Fortunately the blast grazed her, bending out of the way.

When the machined collapsed, falling back against the compound door, Ragna stepped back in shock, holding her side closely. There was no blood, but the shot had successfully vaporized the whole side of her baggy shirt. Laufey landed on the ground right beside her and gazed at the scarring, his mouth agape.

"Jesus christ! Are... are you okay?" he stammered.

Ragna punched him in the face. As the searing pain filled his face, Laufey stumbled backward into the dirt.

"Why do I humor you?" she shouted. "Do you have any idea how selfish you are?"

Turning back to the door, Ragna cried out in anger and ripped open the blast door with her construct gauntlets. Holding his nose, Laufey watched her, impressed, despite the pain he felt.

"Mygn ngose," Laufey grunted. "gnesus... I thign you broke gnit."

"Good," Ragna said flatly, "At least the journey has finally cost you something." Turning to the others she beckoned them to follow her. "Anke, Geira, get the boys and let's get inside before something else happens. Peeking their heads over the ridge Kaun nodded, motioning his brothers to follow. Geira picked up Anke from the ground where he cowered, and followed quickly behind them.

When they were inside, Laufey laid himself up against the wall of the compound. It was cold, completely unexposed to the sun. Lazily, he beckoned Geira to give him the construct map. Catching it with one hand, he set it on his lap and cycled it on.

A large screen expanded up and out of the cylinder, showing the layout of the compound. With his hand he enhanced the image and blew up the northwest corner of the map and tapped it with conviction.

"There," he said, as he leaned his head back. "Right there, in the research and development area is where we can loot."

"Is there gold there?" said Anke in an indignant voice.

Laufey dismissively shook his head. "Knowledge, my friend. Knowledge is there. It is much finer than gold."

Geira stepped forwards, her hands on her hips, and leaned over Laufey where he sat against the wall, wearing a perturbed expression.

"So you aren't after gold?"

Laufey shook his head.

"Then what the hell are we here for?" she barked angrily.

"Your sister," he said flatly.

Geira paused a moment, at a loss for words. Ragna, looked across from him to the wounded girl and shook her head lamentably. The boys stayed silent, the wind taken from their sails.

"Now listen up," he said in a serious voice, "I think I know what the creature wants."

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