Reclaiming Her, a Reclaimers short story

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Kiryurules
Now we're getting somewhere...
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:25 pm
Location: Norway

Reclaiming Her, a Reclaimers short story

Post by Kiryurules » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:35 pm

Hello all!

This is my first post here, and I'll freely admit that I haven't lurked nearly as much as I probably should have on this forum. I've based most of my knowledge regarding the Reclaimers (and the Dark Potential universe in general) on Matthew's Development Diaries and various fanart pieces, mainly the ones he himself has provided in his vlog.

As such, I apologize in advance for any glaring issues regarding canon, as much as it has been developed so far. Wherever there is no canon, well, consider this what I hope to be it!

To explain how I wrote the Reclaimers; I like to view them as being akin to the Quarians of the Mass Effect franchise in how they live up in space, and I wanted to provide some motivation of sorts for them with this story. I chose to treat their atmospheric suits as something of a cross between the Quarian suits and the armour worn by Isaac Clarke of the Dead Space franchise, both in look and function.

With all that rambling out of the way, I hope whoever reads this enjoys my story, and provides whatever feedback they may have!

---

Reclaiming Her, a Reclaimers short story

The world stretched out far below him, like a vast ocean of green, blue and white. Part of it was ocean, of course, not that he'd ever seen it or anything similar to it with his own eyes. Mrs. Arwood had told them about the ocean at length during class, when her mention of it during a lesson about waterborne craft had prompted a rush of raised hands. The ocean, she'd said, was a vast body of water that spread across almost the entirety of the planet below. In fact, she'd pointed out with a smile, there was more of it down there than there was land, even with the many terraforming projects of decades past. Mrs. Arwood had left it at that, bringing the subject back to the makeup of Dark Matter engines used in ships on Old Earth, but the image had stuck in his head like a patch of rust on one of the bulkheads dad would work on every day.

So there he was, his nose squished up against the cold plast-glass of the tiny viewport, staring in quiet wonder out at the enormous expanse of the planet Earth. If he raised his eyes, he'd see the ocean he was used to, the inky blackness of space and the thousands upon thousands of stars staring back at him from up above. This ocean was his home, or rather, the home of his home, an impossibly vast void which the entire station floated through in an endless orbit around the planet its inhabitants had once called home. Not that there were many of those left now. Even with the enhanced lifespans afforded to them by ancient rejuvenation technologies, their bodies were slowly giving up the struggle against time.

The thought made him blink in sudden realization. Even if Mrs. Arwood wouldn't speak more on the subject (which she'd said was, frankly, not very important in the here and now), maybe someone else would? With a new purpose pouring through his body, he squirmed his way out from between the container pods and dropped down onto the ribbed floor of the cargo deck. The metallic thud brought a few inquisitive heads up, but most of the onlookers went back to their tasks as they saw him run by, and only a few calls and muttered curses (which dad had repeatedly refused to explain the meaning of whenever he brought them up at dinner time) followed him as he weaved his way past busy feet and stacked items of every conceivable variety. Regardless of how off-limits it was to someone of his age, he always found ways to sneak inside as work shifts started, and he knew the hold well enough to escape out into the main corridor without any half-hearted grasps catching him.

The run down to the common decks wasn't a particularly long one, but it had nonetheless taken longer than he'd hoped. Space was paramount on the station, and despite careful population control and distribution of space by command, there was precious little place where a person not currently on duty could keep to themselves. It was, he'd been told, not like that in the old days, before the War. Back then, people go to and from the station as they pleased, provided they had permission to do so, and so only those truly needed on the station were required to live there. Most people could simply live on the planet below, with no need to worry about where to put their things or where to sleep, and there was, he'd been told, a state of plenty that none born after the War could truly comprehend. Now, not so much. By the time he emerged, panting and sweating, into the relatively expansive main plaza of common deck C, he'd lost count of the containers, webbing-contained piles, and most of all people that he'd narrowly dodged out of the way of.

Even the common decks, ostensibly where people would go to relax, eat and mingle with others during those rare times when their skills were not required somewhere on the station, were all but filled to the point of bursting. Apart from the thoroughfares, every available spot, be it on top of a box or on the deck itself, was occupied in some way by either a person or something belonging to that person. He paid little attention to the many small shops and stalls set up alongside the thoroughfare, where he'd usually spend many hours of his day looking at self-made or preserved items and wares on display for those who would barter for them. Instead, he made for one of the arms of the cross-shaped plaza, skillfully dodging his way through or around the many pairs of legs separating him from his goal. He finally stopped as he reached the end of the arm he'd gone down, still breathing quite heavily as he glanced around himself. Most paid him little heed, though the same could not be said for him, as his eyes locked onto his target.

The man was old (how old, he did not know), plainly showing the wear-and-tear of a long, hard-working life on his face and the rest of his body. He was sat up against the wall below one of the four main viewports of the deck, grumbling to himself and poking with a screwdriver at the inner workings of an old augmetic that had long ago replaced his left leg. Only when he'd closed the last few feet separating them and cleared his throat, did the old man even deign to look up from his work. Several silent moments had paced with neither making another sound, before he'd ventured a small, innocent smile. The old man responded by screwing his own dry lips into a wrinkled frown before going back to his boredom-fueled work.

“Excuse me, sir?” He tried, figuring body language wasn't going to get him anywhere. “My name is Thomas Valk. Can I ask you a question?” He smiled again, hoping that would be enough to make some headway.

“Hm.” The old man looked back up, still frowning, and tilted his head. “I don't need to know your name for you to ask me a question. That's if I even wanted you to ask me a question in the first place, which I don't. Go bother someone else, Thomas.” With that, the old man looked back down once more.

This time Thomas frowned as well, but remained in place. He wasn't going to give up that easily. “Sir, I don't mean to be rude, but...I've heard you used to be a Reclaimer. Is that true?”

The old man looked up at him. This time, however, his frown was gone, replaced by a stern look. “And where did you hear that, hmm? Your father? Don't look at me like that, son, everyone knows everyone somehow here on this dang station. I know your father and his pals like to make jokes at my expense. Rusty Rhodes, isn't that the latest name they have for me?” He huffed, now glaring accusingly at the boy.

Thomas shifted uncomfortably, giving a little nod before speaking up again. “Please Mr. Rhodes, I don't call you any of those things. I don't even know why they call your Rusty...” His voice trailed off, and he looked down at the old man's augmetic leg. “Is that why?”

Rhodes' smile was bitter. “Heh, this thing? Yes and no. It's an old piece of junk but it's lasted plenty of years. See son, they call me rusty because that's what I am. Rusty, regarding her.”

“Her, sir?” Thomas asked, visibly confused.

“Her, son.” Rhodes smiled again, jerking a whithered thumb over his shoulder.

Thomas followed the pointing digit, and blinked as he watched the curvature of the Earth stretch out below the station. “Earth?” He asked.

“Aye son. Good old Mother Earth. I still remember her, you see. I'm one of the few up here that still does.” Rhodes nodded sagely, his expression both sad and nostalgic as if momentarily lost in memory. “Most people, your father included, don't care much about her anymore. They're happy up here, for whatever stupid reason they may have.”

Thomas had nodded, now eager to press his questions once again. “So it's true? You were a Reclaimer? You went down there, to Earth?”

His sudden outburst had brought one of Rhodes' graying eyebrows up, and the old man set aside his screwdriver on the small toolbox beside him. “Why the eagerness, son? You itching to become a Reclaimer too?” He asked, clearly somewhat defensive now. “That's a dangerous life, boy, it cost me dearly.” He made his point by rapping his knuckles against the metallic knee of his leg.

Thomas' eager expression faltered for a moment, his eyes drawn to the augmetic limb once again. “N-no Mr. Rhodes.” He replied, though his voice didn't sound quite that convinced. “I mean, I've never really even thought of it before now. It's just...I was wondering what it's like, down there. Mrs. Arwood, our teacher, has taught us a lot about how machines and stuff from Earth work, but...she hasn't told us about Earth itself.”

Now, when he looked up from the old man's leg, Rhodes' expression had changed to a soft smile.
“Sit down, son.” He said after a moment, lifting up his toolbox and placing it on his lap so that he could make enough space for the young boy.

Thomas complied eagerly, taking the proffered seat and folding his hands patiently in his lap before staring up at the old man with an expectant look on his face.

Rhodes had smiled at his obvious eagerness to listen, and shook his head slightly before drawing in a deep breath. “Since you asked; yes, I have been down there. I haven't just been down there, I've lived there.” The old man paused, enjoying the look of wonder on Thomas' face for just a moment, before continuing. “Not for long, mind you, but for the first few years of my life, my family and I lived in a place called Anchorage. My old man was a technician, and along with thousands of others, he worked up in space, on stations like this one. That's why we were lucky enough to go up here when...when 'they' came.”

Thomas looked up as Rhodes suddenly stopped talking, and saw a bitter look on the old man's face. He looked back down at his folded hands, blinking as he pulled up an often-mentioned name from his memories of class. “You mean...the Z'lanthos, sir?”

The name seemed to jerk Rhodes out of his reverie, and the old man nodded with a sad smile on his face. “Aye son, the Z'lanthos. When they finally reached Earth, my old man was one of many allowed to leave planet-side and come up to the stations surrounding the planet. He was allowed to take mom and I with him, of course, and that's how I ended up here.” Rhodes paused again, this time deliberately, and stroked his hand across the cold metal of his augmetic leg. “A long time passed, and we watched as all heck broke lose on the planet below. We watched society collapse from the plague, we watched the Z'lanthos be all but wiped out...and then, some amongst us began to wonder if we should return.” He looked down at Thomas with a small smile. “Two decades had passed. I was twenty-four at the time, and rearing to go back to the world my parents had spent so many years reminiscing about. I finally got my wish when the command at the time instated the Reclaimer Project, and I was one of the first to volunteer for the very first missions.”

This got Thomas' full attention, and he sat frozen like a statue as he gazed in anticipation at the old man. “What was it like, going back for the first time?”

Rhodes smiled and closed his eyes, as if picturing what he'd seen all those years ago, and Thomas found himself doing the same. “It was wonderful, boy. Trees, son, trees as far your eye could see, and endless fields of grass and flowers stretching out beneath your feet. On the horizon, we could see huge mountains dominating the land around them, and above us...oh, above us was the sky, as beautiful and blue as the greatest seas of the world below it.”

Thomas kept his eyes closed as the old man spoke, doing his very best to piece together an image in his mind from the many pictures and video clips his class had been shown, or at least those few that pertained to anything beyond machinery, medicine, chemistry and other 'important' subjects.

“Of course...” Rhodes continued after a moment, opening his eyes, “...we still had to wear suits, but I could still see the world around me with crystal clarity. Back then, we only had the old Mk. I's, re-purposed from the suits used for spacewalking outside the station. The old Onesies, as we called them, were heavy, uncomfortable, stifling, hard to see out of...but none of it managed to keep me from enjoying the spectacle stretching out around me.” Rhodes leaned back against the wall as he finished speaking, a nostalgic smile on his face. Thomas opened his eyes, just in time to see the old man shake his head and give an amused huff. “'course, back then I wasn't aware of just how dangerous it was down there.”

“Dangerous, sir?” Thomas asked, blinking. “Were there Z'lanthos down there?”

Rhodes huffed again, still smiling, but shook his head at the boy's question. “No, son, I never ran into any of those devils. But they weren't the only danger that had popped up on Earth in the years following the end of the war.” Rhodes' expression hardened, and he tapped his augmetic leg idly as he continued, “We weren't ignorant of what had been going on down there, of course. We'd watched from up on high as the first small cities sprang up, the survivors of the war banding together for safety...and we knew they needed it.” He paused again, this time turning to regard the boy next to him. “You've heard of them, I assume? The 'bandits'?”

Thomas nodded, but said nothing. He'd only heard the name in passing, that was about it. He figured it meant they were bad people, why else would they have the name in the first place?

“The bandits...” Rhodes echoed, sighing. “The bandits were bad news. I never encountered them in person, but I heard plenty of reports from other teams that made planetfall in that period. They're why we first started taking guns with us whenever we went down there, you see. They preyed on many of those early cities, taking what they could and leaving what they couldn't so it'd eventually turn into things they could take later.” Rhodes shook his head. “Monsters and killers, the lot of them. They weren't too smart, or too advanced, they just used whatever weapons they could get their hands on in order to bully others into giving them what didn't belong to them. But they were observant, and like pack animals, they zeroed in on whatever they might take for themselves. They spotted many of our craft as they came in, but I doubt they even knew what were were, not really anyway. They just set upon lone teams with spears, clubs, the odd gun...we lost a lot good men and women in the early days, before we figured out the only way to stop them from attacking us was to carry guns ourselves. Not that we had all that many to begin with, at least that could be spared from on-board guard duty, so much as with our Mk. I's, we had to improvise. Industrial tools were turned into weapons, I carried a modified nail gun myself, and brought down to the planet as self-defense.”

Thomas had listened in silence as Rhodes had spoken, but now cleared his throat, bringing the old man to a stop. “Did you...did you ever kill one? A bandit, I mean?” He asked hesitantly, a blank but curious look on his face.

Rhodes chuckled, shaking his head and giving the boy a reassuring smile. “No, they never gave us much trouble after that, at least for a good few years. They seemed much more interested in the poor bastards, if you'll pardon the language, living off in the survivor cities. Thankfully, those people were able to defend themselves as well. I assume you've heard of the glorified guns-for-hire calling themselves 'The Corporation', boy?”

Again, Thomas nodded, without further comment. This was another name he'd heard spoken amongst his father and others in passing, and another he'd been curious about. A corporation was, as far as he understood the term, not something he'd link to fighting in any meaningful way.

Rhodes seem to decipher this from his somewhat confused expression, and nodded in return. “Humans are an odd bunch. Where you'd expect us to extend a hand and offer help without hesitation, we see an opportunity for profit. That's the Corporation in a nutshell, boy, a bunch of gun-totting 'professionals' who provide a sword and shield for those who can't defend themselves, for a price. Now I'm not saying they're bad people, far from it. Everyone needs to eat, after all. They're just...cold, as if there's someone pulling the shots in the background who decides when and where their interests are served. They're able to do their job well enough, I suppose, and the few times we saw their kind go up against bandit raids, it was easy to see how their training and weapons stacked up against the superior numbers of the bandits. In the end, the Corporation ensures that the strong survive. Those cities with enough wealth to hire them prosper under their protection, but the ones that don't have the means to pay them, well...”

“The bandits?” Thomas asked at length, quietly.

“Yes, and no.” The old man replied, a sad smile on his face. “There's other dangers down there than human ones, boy, you'd best remember that.” As he spoke, Rhodes patted the small, plastic holster fastened to his right hip.

Within it, Thomas could just make out a small, ancient-looking pistol, as worn and weathered as the man carrying it.

“That's how I first fired this little girl in anger, outside of the brief training classes we were given. But I didn't kill someone, mind you.” He pointed out as he saw Thomas' expression. “We call them the Salvagers. Back then we thought they were man-made, and we were right to some degree, but who made them wasn't exactly important. What was important was that they were a thorn in our side.” He drew a breath before continuing, “I think it was during my third mission since the Reclaimer Project started. I was part of a team of six people sent down to try and dig up an old data cache located on the outskirts of a ruined city. I was to stay behind with the pilot and guard our ship, just in case something happened while the others went on ahead. A few minutes later, I started hearing something through the receptors of my suit's helmet. At first I just thought it was some kind of static, but when it persisted, I realized it was a metallic...gnawing sound. I rounded the corner of the small shuttle, and what I found was a small, robotic spider. At least that's what it looked like. It had clambered up onto one of the landing legs of the craft, and was apparently 'tasting' at it, biting off tiny chunks of the metal with a pair of small incisors and playing a small sensor arm over the bits it held in its mouth. Without thinking, I drew my sidearm...” He patted the modified nail gun at his hip again.

Thomas blinked, startled, drawing a smile from the old man with his undivided attention to every word spoken.

“...and proceeded to put a round straight through its central mass. The thing twitched, and the light on what passed for its head died out as smoke poured from the small hole I'd made. When the others returned, we managed to pry it off the ship, and took it back up with us. Over the next few days, other teams began reporting similar encounters, and we pieced together a picture that told us that an organized group of machines were spreading across the region we'd been to, salvaging anything useful they came across.” Rhodes shrugged after he finished speaking, hand still on the holster. “Shortly afterwards, we started meeting bigger ones, carrying guns. The Salvagers were the first true threat the Reclaimer Project encountered, and its been like that for the past hundred years.”

Thomas nodded thoughtfully, turning to look at the old man's leg. “Is that how you lost your leg? Against one of the Salvagers' mechs?” He asked, using the catch-all term used to describe the simple drones and artificial intelligences used across the station.

Rhodes shook his head, a grim smile on his lips. “Oh no, son. No Salvager did this. Something much more primal is responsible for me having to walk around with a dang augmetic for the rest of my days.”

When the old man didn't elaborate, seemingly getting lost in another rush of memories, Thomas took it upon himself to steer him back on track. “Primal, sir?” He asked, obviously curious as to what that meant.

“Yes, primal.” Rhodes replied, stressing the word, “What you have to watch out for down there isn't the humans, or the Salvagers, or even the dang Z'lanthos. No, it's the animals, son, the animals. Don't ask me how, or why, but something happened down on Earth after the War. Some of the wildlife, it...it grew, it changed. It got smart, and as a result, it got dangerous.” Rhodes paused again, squeezing his augmetic with a grim expression. “It was my ninth mission. At that point, we'd changed to the brand new Mk. II suits, purpose-built for the Reclaimer teams heading planet-side. It was lighter, slimmer, more streamlined, better armoured...I felt like a walking tank in it, son, and that was my biggest mistake. I lost the edge I'd built up. I got complacent, and I got overconfident.”

“What happened?” Thomas asked, now openly enraptured by the old man's tale.

“We were setting up a small sensor tower in the middle of a clearing when it happened. It came out of the treeline like a living missile, lithe, fast, and sporting a face only a mother would love. It was like a dog, kind of, but bigger, meaner...spikier...” He let the word hang, patting his leg, “It must have dragged me a good twenty feet across the clearing, jaws clamped down on my leg like a vice. I was screaming, clawing at the grass. I could feel its teeth punch through my suit as if it were made of tablecloth, and my flesh just the same. I don't know who shot it, but I heard a series of loud bangs before suddenly laying still, and I could hear someone call my name. Not that I was in any state to reply, too much pain flooding through my system, but before I passed out I was distinctly able to hear more shouts, a lot more shouts, and a lot more gunfire. The thing hadn't come alone, and when I came too later, I was informed of how we'd been attacked by at least a dozen of the beasts, coming in from all around us. No one had died, but we'd taken a lot of injuries between us, mine being the most serious. The doctors couldn't figure out if it was something in the air, or something the creature had been packing in its mouth, but my leg was much too infected to save.”

Thomas sat in silence as he listened to the old man talk, and as he finally paused for breath, the young boy stared at the robotic leg with a somber, knowing expression. He thought for several long, drawn-out moments, well aware of how Rhodes was quietly waiting for whatever comment he might have. “So...” He began, looking back up at the old man, “Are you saying it's...too dangerous? That it's not worth it, going back down there?”

“No!” Rhodes exclaimed, with sudden force. He caught himself, blushing somewhat as he looked around at the heads that had turned their way, and he waved them away with a gruff clearing of his throat. “No, son, that's not what I'm saying at all.” The old man leaned closer, placing a worn, withered hand on Thomas' shoulder and looking into his eyes. “That's what some people think, people who think we're better off without the Reclaimer Project, better off without the big blue, green and white sphere far below. Don't you ever listen to those people, Thomas, not for an instant. She's worth it. Remember that for as long as you live. She's worth it.”

-

“Valk!”

Thomas blinked, started, and turned around with a confused expression. What met him was own face, in a way. The reflection in front of him was faint, but he could clearly see his own startled face, eyes blinking repeatedly, in the dark green visor hovering in front of him. “W-what?” He croaked, clearing his throat.

“Get your helmet on and get up, man! We're popping the hatch in five!” The visor replied in a muffled, electronically transmitted voice, and a hand came out of nowhere to shake his shoulder.
He recognized the voice. Anders, it was Anders. Friend, classmate, Reclaimer. Thomas nodded faintly and turned to look around him. They were all staring back at him, tall, athletically built beings contained within form-fitting, armoured suits similar to the one stood in front of him. They were stood in a line, hands clutching leather straps hanging from the low ceiling above, facing a large metal plate at the end of the room. Not room, he reminded himself. Troop bay.

“Valk!” Another voice called out, this one female, and a figure leaned into view at the front of the line. Even with the suit, she was distinctly feminine in appearance, though she easily matched and even exceeded the height and build of the people in front of her. “Do you need to stay here while the rest of us go and be real men? Want me to carry you back to mommy once we get back?” She asked. Despite the green, reflective visor hiding her face, Thomas was perfectly able to envision Sergeant Ignez's impatient expression.

“No ma'am, I'm good.” He replied, not rising to the bait. He shook his head and mentally scolded himself. This was it, this was the moment he'd been training for for the past three years, and dreamt about for another ten before that. No screwing things up now. With a deep, calming breath, he reached between his legs and lifted up his helmet. He closed his eyes and lowered it down over his head, waiting for the tell-tale sound of the headpiece locking into the collar of his suit, and the hiss surrounding him as the suit sealed itself off from the outside. He drew in a deep breath, and smelled the familiar, almost cozy scent of recycled air. It made him smile.

“Good.” Came the Sergeant's voice, now transmitted as much over the intercom as it was within the confines of the troop bay, “Stensruud, help him up and get in line, both of you.” She ordered, turning back to the bay doors in front of her.

“Yes ma'am. Come on man, up you go.” Anders said, and Thomas accepted the other man's gloved hand with his own, letting himself be hoisted out his seat as much as he stood up of his own power.
When he now looked at his friend, Thomas' vision was tinted green, and a small cursor precisely followed the direction of his eyes as he idly inspected the other man's back. As the cursor slid over the back of Anders' suit, it was accompanied by little reams of text on the corner of his visor, providing snippets of information relating to the makeup and state of the man's suit. Thomas knew every little piece of info by heart, of course; he knew the gray and green Mk. V suits his squad was equipped with like the back of his hand. On the other side of Thomas' vision, amidst a host of analytics regarding the state of his own suit, was an altimeter. It was dropping steadily.

“Reclaimer Control, this is combat team Delta.” Sergeant Ignez's voice brought the squad's heads up out of their own little worlds, focusing on the back of their commander. Her left wrist was raised up in front of her, and she was tapping the glowing screen intently as she spoke. “Second wave is inbound on the combat point. Stand by...”

Thomas blinked as a noise entered the edge of his hearing, above the gentle hum of the troop shuttle's anti-grav engines. It sounded distinctly like muffled, metallic impacts striking the hull.

“Taking light fire from groundside.” Came the pilot's voice over the shuttle's comm net, sounding as if he was right beside Thomas' ear, “The mechs have established a loose perimeter around the deployment zone. We're being directed to a new drop point.”

The six occupants of the troop bay lurched ever to slightly, and Thomas tightened his grip around the strap he'd grabbed after rising up from his seat. For them to have felt the lurch within the artificial gravity bubble of the shuttle, it had to have been anything but light, but the distant thuds grew increasingly sporadic as the vessel banked.

“Stand by...” Sergeant Ignez's voice sounded distracted she studied the glowing screen on her forearm, “We're down in five, four, three, two...”

The landing wasn't nearly as heavy as he'd imagined during training. Then again, he reminded himself, they hadn't exactly landed.

“Jump!”

The shout, the same one Thomas had heard so many times during basic training, triggered a now-instinctive response within him. Before his eyes had even registered Anders moving in front of him, powered muscles within his legs kicked him into a run towards the suddenly open, glaringly bright portal in front of them. He was the last of Delta team to emerge from the troop shuttle, and like the ones in front of him, he stepped out into thin air. He tensed, but not in shock. Caught in the shuttle's extended grav-bubble, Delta team descended the few meters separating their transport and a vast, expansive plain of green grass. The sight was so unlike anything he'd ever seen before, it almost made Thomas forget ground deployment protocol.

He yanked his consciousness back and was running almost before he hit the ground, and the sudden weight of his body surprised him for just a moment before he was jogging at the heels of his teammates. A chaotic rush of voices filled his helmet, and he didn't need to turn his head to know that other teams were deploying all around him. A loud hum brought his vision up for an instant, and the bright glare coming from above him was momentarily blocked out by an incoming shuttle, grav-spheres extended, sweeping across the sky above the deployment zone. The sky...the brilliant blue sky.

“Delta team, forward! Epsilon, Fenix, Gamma teams; spread out and advance! Clear for the next wave!” Sergeant Ignez's shouting voice was unchanged by the exertion of her movements, and Thomas doubled his efforts as they stormed across the grass with practiced ease, the artificial musculature of their sealed suits granting them still greater speed.

Almost as an afterthought, Thomas reached his hand back and detached his weapon from its magnetically locked slot on his thigh in one fluid motion, bringing the heavy pistol up in front of his chest and letting the fingers of his other hand dance across its flank. A pair of thick, black cables ran from the handgun's grip to Thomas' back, linking the weapon to the self-perpetuating micro-reactor built into the small of his suit's back. It also linked the weapon's sensors to his helmet's systems, and he glanced down at the small, bobbing screen that had pooped up in the corner of his visor. The pistol's micro-camera, built into its bulky scope, providing him with an unmatched insight into his aim.

Suddenly, he realized they were amidst trees. Trees, actual living, physical trees, reaching up far above the sprinting men and women of Delta team and casting uneven shade across them.

“Eyes front! Weapons ready!” The Sergeant called, pistol drawn like the rest of her team.

Thomas did as ordered and locked his eyes ahead, expertly stepping over or on top of tree roots and mounds as if they weren't even there, the servos and systems of his suit keeping him steady regardless of footing. One moment, trees were all around them. The next, they were out, sun shining down on their armoured forms as they stormed across the grassy plain.

Thomas' visor lit up with signals, cursors, reams of text, blue identifiers and red warning icons. Ahead of Delta team stood a city, long ago abandoned and given over to nature's relentless grasp. In front of the overgrown buildings, between Delta team and the empty city, was a low wall, battered and crumbled in places by the march of time. And in front of that wall, with their backs to Thomas and the rest of Delta team, were Reclaimers. Combat teams Alpha, Beta and Ceti. Thomas didn't even have to consult the never-ending stream of data projected on the inside his visor to spot how several of them weren't moving.

Shapes were coming into view in the city ahead. Large, blocky shapes, some far too big to be human, or even humanoid. One of the buildings, a single-story shop of some kind, blew out in a cloud of dust and debris, revealing several imposing shadows advancing on multiple segmented legs, baleful lenses glaring red, blue and green lights amidst their dark shapes. Salvager assault bots, their multi-barrelled weapons spraying bolts of energy into the pock-marked ground ahead, several striking the wall sheltering the Reclaimer teams and throwing up chips of scorched rock.

A Reclaimer rose up, her body braced, instantly drawing Thomas' gaze. The cursor following his eyes locked onto the Reclaimer's signature, bringing up a host of identifiers. Summers Y., Alpha team support trooper, status; opening fire. Her suit, one of the heavier Mk. VI's only recently put into mass-production, was dominated by a pair of massive shoulder-mounted guns, slotted into her heavy shoulder armour and linked directly to the suit's enlarged micro-reactor. Thomas' vision zoomed out, and as he watched, one of the advancing Salvagers faltered and fell, hammered into the rubble-strewn ground by a bolt after bolt of blood-red energy fired from the woman's shoulder-mounted cannons. It was only one, but there were many more to come. Several more Salvagers faltered, staggered, collapsed and died as Thomas Valk, Delta team and a hundred other Reclaimers burst from the treeline, guns blazing.

Thomas' thoughts turned, subconsciously, to the words that old man Rusty Rhodes had spoken several years ago. Even as his eyes watched his outstretched arm buck repeatedly from his discharging pistol, he also drank in everything around him. The blue sky above, the gray buildings ahead, the green grass under his boots and the tall trees behind him.

She really was worth it, he thought. She was worth reclaiming.

---

...and there we go! As I said previously, feedback is welcomed with open arms.

Please note: This is effectively a one-shot, but if anyone wishes it, I'd be happy to extend it into a series of some sort down the line.
"Think about how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are even stupider than that."
-George Carlin.

CeresBane
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Re: Reclaiming Her, a Reclaimers short story

Post by CeresBane » Tue Apr 03, 2012 6:34 am

huh... an introductory commentary. As a pitch that's a great idea (for this) but you shouldn't really have to if you are going to show it in the narrative. I mean, I'm sure Matt can pick up on it.

Your use of similies seems to cause some cognitive dissonance.

For example, on your description of the ocean being stuck in your character's head to the image of rust on a bulk head kind of causes confusion.

The manual labour of scrubbing rust off bulkheads vs the tranqulity and sublime beauty of the ocean kind of kills the mood created by the image of being transfixed by natural beauty.

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Kiryurules
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Re: Reclaiming Her, a Reclaimers short story

Post by Kiryurules » Tue Apr 03, 2012 7:14 am

CeresBane wrote:Your use of similies seems to cause some cognitive dissonance.

For example, on your description of the ocean being stuck in your character's head to the image of rust on a bulk head kind of causes confusion.

The manual labour of scrubbing rust off bulkheads vs the tranqulity and sublime beauty of the ocean kind of kills the mood created by the image of being transfixed by natural beauty.
My intention was that the thought of the ocean was stuck and sticking out in his mind, much like how a piece of rust would mar a clean metal surface. If that isn't what it comes across as during reading, then that's my fault :oops:

Thanks for pointing it out, I'll keep it in mind if I write anything else for this forum.
"Think about how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are even stupider than that."
-George Carlin.

Searanger
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Re: Reclaiming Her, a Reclaimers short story

Post by Searanger » Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:28 pm

I like it. It was very well written and had a good flow to it.

Blaqkheart
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Re: Reclaiming Her, a Reclaimers short story

Post by Blaqkheart » Tue Apr 03, 2012 3:11 pm

Hmm, with some editing and revision, this story just might be the one I fear most in this contest.

Zalthor
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Re: Reclaiming Her, a Reclaimers short story

Post by Zalthor » Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:06 pm

+1

Blaqkheart
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Re: Reclaiming Her, a Reclaimers short story

Post by Blaqkheart » Fri Apr 27, 2012 12:22 am

+1

aNukklehead
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Re: Reclaiming Her, a Reclaimers short story

Post by aNukklehead » Tue May 01, 2012 5:18 pm

I think this is a simply amazing story!
It is very well written and I found it extremely captivating!
This is one of the best stories I've come across so far! It is truly amazing and should definitely be incorporated into the game somehow!
Keep up the excellent work!!! +1!!!!!!!!!

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