Malazan Empire: A Little Time - Malazan Empire

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A Little Time Sort of military sci-fi thing

#1 User is offline   Grimjust Bearegular 

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Posted 22 September 2016 - 10:47 AM

So I sat up way too long last night writing down this scene I've had in my mind for a while now. It was a lot of fun. I never write in first person or the present tense, so it was an interesting challenge. It felt good to write something other than my bookstuff, and it felt even better to actually finish something. Getting real tired of revisions :)

Here it is. Any feedback is appreciated ;)

"I don't know, sarge. How many did Command say there were?"

"Ten to fifteen, corporal. Easy job, in and out in 20 minutes tops."

"Well, I've got 50 and counting so far of those fuckers," I say, lowering the binoculars and sliding down behind the rotten trunk of a pine. There are beetles crawling inside it. I can hear their little legs scratching against the bark.

"You don't think Command cut us loose? That this mission is their way of cleaning up their mess, tie up some loose ends?" I say.

"I don't want to hear anymore of that out of you, Corporal," he replies, but there's this catch in his voice, an odd pause that tells me he's got more to say. It's just gonna take some time before he realizes that. It's alright. I've got nothing but time here in the ass end of the middle of fucking nowhere. Everything is damp, and my toes are starting to get squishy inside my boots, my fatigues are soaked through beneath the body armour. Once again I run my fingers across all the seals of Big Bertha's casing, make sure the ammo packs are uncompromised. I like the old stuff - the gunpowder and the metal. The soothing, repetativeness of loading up a mag, the calm that settles over me when I slide it into the rifle. I've spent a lot of time finding the right bullets, they don't make 'em like that anymore. Fact, they don't make 'em at all. But Big Bertha deserves it. So I spend my time, and my money, finding food for her at blackmarkets run by Homeborn. She's saved my ass more than once. Hell, she's saved all our asses. The rest of the squad chip in whenever they can.

"Say," he says, and I know his thinking real hard about things now. "What would you do if you was me?"

"I'd bail. High-tail it right the fuck outta here. Go someplace warm, and dry. A nice bungalow, right on the fucking beach, see? It'll be nice, I'll teach you how to surf and everything," I say.

"And what about the rest of the squad?"

"Hell, they can come too. But they gotta get their own bungalows, because there are things I'd like to do to you that they should not be privvy to," I say. I can see a small smile break through all that beard, and he makes that rough sound, far back in his throat. Took me months to figure out that he was actually laughing, not coughing up phlegm.

"So we bail. Command burns us. We get branded as traitors. A bounty is put on our heads. What happens to that nice, quiet life by the sea then?"

"We can take on anything Command sends after us," I say. "There are none better and brighter than us. Sir."

"And yet you're scared because that troop of fuckaroos is a little bit bigger than expected, corporal? Here I though you was Command's finest, but..." The fucker has me and he knows it. I sigh.

He touches two fingers to the side of his throat, switches the mic on, broadcasts on our encrypted comms channel. " Brightboy, Gunny, Ivan, you flank left. Cormac, Mackintyre and Snakeman, you flank right. I'll take Gonzales and Williams and bring up the rear. Hawke and Big Bertha will cover our asses. When I say go, you move, copy?" They all copy. They all know the drill. We've done this a million times before, in jungles like this one, in scorching hot deserts and windy mountain ranges, and we've always come out the other side a few kills richer. This is no different. Only it is. There's a feeling. I don't think I've ever had it before. And that's what scares me. This fucking feeling. Like deep down in the pit of my stomach I know things are about to go tits up.

"Sarge..." I say.

He grabs my shoulder, squeezes it. I touch is hand and hold it in place for a second longer. It feels important.

"Lock and load," he says.

"Yes, sir," I say.

Climbing over the dead tree he touches the side of his throat and says "go". They are all moving towards the target now, while I stay and wait. I don't like the waiting, the few minutes before I start assembling the rifle, a task that never takes long enough. More waiting. Until the fighting starts and I can see whose asses need covering.

I flip open the lid of Big Bertha's case, remove the protective covering, and then I sit back on my haunches and stare. Slowly I press three fingers against the side of my throat, broadcasting on an encrypted private comms channel.
"They've burned us. Command fucking burned us."

"What?" he says.

"I packed Big Bertha. I'm not looking at Big Bertha here, sarge. They gave me Thor. The fucking 50 cal., sarge! He's gonna bring every last fucker in a 20 mile radius down on our asses."

"Sounds like you were right, corporal," he says.

"So we fucking bail, right?" I ask. In the distance I can hear a weapon discharging. Fucking Gunny is always too trigger-happy, vying to get the first kill. She's got a jar full of ears in her footlocker. It's too late now, and we both know it.

"Put the fear of the gods into them, corporal," he says.

I assemble Thor. Flip down the bipod. Find a nice spot of flat, slightly elevated ground. I put the rifle down and get into position, it doesn't take long before I have them in my sights. Mackintyre is on the ground. My finger squeezes the trigger gently, my breath is calm. The first rounds find their targets and I am deaf. It doesn't matter. I don't need my hearing to shoot. I squeeze off a few more rounds, watch the bullets fly true and shred through the grey and yellow bodies of the fuckers we've been sent here to eradicate. I don't know what they're called. The less I know the better. They haven't yet figured out where the thunder is coming from and I use that to my advantage. The mag is empty and I slide in a new one, hoping the humid air hasn't damaged the gunpowder. The last thing I need now is duds. I fire into the press of bodies. I don't really have to aim. When the god of thunder spits his lightning bolts at you, you are dead no matter where it hits. I watch as arms and legs are torn off and keep firing. The mag is empty. I slide in a new. They've started swarming around the sergeant and I gotta concentrate my fire elsewhere so I dont hit him. Unless there are no other options. I've promised I'll take him out myself. If it ever comes to that.

There's a ringing in my ears, but I think I can hear twigs snapping behind me. I turn my head and out of the corner of my eye I see them, loping towards me. The first arrow thuds into the tree trunk where my head was only seconds before. I swing Thor around, pointing it straight at them and sending a prayer to the thundergod himself. But he's done answering prayers today. The rifle jams, or there's finally a dud, it doesn't matter. The result is the same. I scramble to my feet, throw Thor on my back, he's heavy as fuck. My sidearm is out of its holster by the time my feet start moving, and I run while I shoot, occasionally looking over my shoulder to make sure I'm aiming in the right direction. I have some luck on my side, the blue bursts of concentrated plasma find targets and I don't trip on a root or creeping vine. Gotta regroup. Gotta find the squad. By now they must have heard the shooting, or at least noticed that the thunder has stopped.

I see Brightboy first, he's been impaled by five feet of wood and black, glassy stone. Fucking savages. Ivan is surrounded, but looks fine enough. I make a beeline for him, swinging Thor around and utilizing him as a battering ram. The fuckers don't know what hit them. Ivan signals that Gunny needs support. I nod and he runs to her location. I spot the sergeant's broad back. I also see the hordes coming in from all directions. I run and shoot, run and shoot, blasting their heads off, one eye firmly placed on sarge. I'm so close I can smell him. I have his back. Just one more step and we'll fight our way out of this clusterfuck. Together.

An arrow punches through his neck just as I reach him. He falls to his knees, clawing at the shaft jutting out of his throat with one hand, shooting with the other. An axe swoops in and takes his head off. I think I am screaming. Thor is a battering ram again, a sledgehammer, the rifle butt crushes bones and caves in skulls. Breaks ribs and turns organs into pulp. I clear a bloody circle around sarge, the fuckers retreating with something like fear on their alien, grey-scaled faces. Fear won't fucking save them. Spears are raised, arrows knocked and drawn, breaths held. I press two fingers to the side of my throat.

"Sarge is dead," I say. "We bail. Get out of here alive. That's an order."

"Copy that," Snakeman and Williams reply.

"You're coming with, right?" Gunny asks.

"That's a negatory, soldier," I say, "I'm gonna do what I do best. Cover your sorry asses." I let go
"Godspeed," Ivan says.

I pick up the axe that those fucking savages used to kill the sarge. It has a nice weight to it. Well-balanced. I heft it in my hand, testing my grip. Looking around I can see that the odds are not in my favour. It's alright. This is a fight I don't have to win. I only have to buy some time.

I charge them. Arrows sing through the air.

A little time. That's all.
Things and stuffs...and other important objects.

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