Anyways, without further ado.
This one is getting dedicated to my mother.
A Fantasy Novel by Jordan Dunsmore.
Castes placed upon humans by their superiors…
Humans are divided up into castes based on their usefulness to the Subjectors. As such, selection is independent of family or favour and is based solely on their ability when they are twelve years old.
Those who serve the Subjectors (Greater)
First Stratum: The Innovators.
Humans who excel both physically and mentally above their kind, the absolute best mankind has to offer. Given special treatment and the best education due to their ability to contribute to society.
Second Stratum: The Intellectuals
Humans who are keen but not physically strong. Are given superior educations and usually bred for leadership positions among other humans.
Third Stratum: The Haled
Humans who are the most physically adept but not up to par mentally. Are given special treatment and given the honour of mining.
Fourth Stratum: The Selected
Humans who are not particularly intelligent or able bodied, however their relatives are such. As a result, they likely possess the genetic traits needed to be passed on through selective breeding. They are given comfortable lives so that they can produce many offspring’s.
Fifth Stratum: The Peacekeepers
Humans who display martial prowess or a strong sense of justice. Are trained to be the ones to keep their fellow humans in line through physical force if necesary.
Those who serve other humans (Lesser)
Sixth Stratum: The Raisers
Humans tasked with raising children and educating them.
Seventh Stratum: The Producers
Humans who farm or produce protects for the use of others.
Eighth Stratum: The Crafters
Humans who are responsible for using existing products, such as smiths or cooks.
Ninth Stratum: The Labourers
Humans who perform physically labour for other humans.
Tenth Stratum: The Servers
Humans who are inept and tasked with helping other humans perform their duties.
Those who are undesired
Eleventh Stratum: The Sodden
Humans who perform adverse occupations such as disposing of excrement or handling the dead. Giving humans something to discriminate has proven to keep their temperaments in check and allow them to better serve the Subjectors. Are selected often due to their obvious physically differences.
Twelfth Stratum: The Decrepit
Humans who are crippled or unable to perform their duties to society. Because they are a liability they are swiftly exterminated.
The Hermetic Laws
The power of the Subjectors. Their ability to affect metal and break the laws of men.
1. Alteration/Revision/Modification: To change an object’s shape without affecting the mass.
2. Expansion/Augmentation/Amplification: Modify an object’s size without changing the shape.
3. Magnetism/Attraction/Binding: The ability to charge electrons and protons of any metal object.
Man may never rise. Or else they be crushed completely.
–The primary doctrine of the Subjectors
Mira took a deep breath. She found herself exhaling faster than she had expected. She stood at the edge, the most nervous she had ever been in her life. The cold wind of evening rustling her hood didn’t faze her, her own body seemed distant now, like a reverie. Was it the fact that a distant dream, had become a reality? Was it the anticipation welling up inside of her? Perhaps it was just the view, which from her vantage, seemed to dwarf the metropolis she had grown up in. Maybe it was just the fear of dying that plagued so many of her comrades.
Humans were such fragile things, made of just bone and flesh, built to break and expire. In fact it could happen at any time for anyone, why was the increased chance of this evening frightening at all? Especially since Mira could die at any moment. Would she even know when it happened? Would there be a brief moment at the end, a fragment of a second when her brain processed that she had departed and inform her politely? Or would she just cease to exist? Mid thought, the world turning black around her and coming to an end. Had it been created for her all along? Would the moment when Mira died be the end, of not just her, but for everyone she knew and didn’t know?
“Mira! What are you doing?” A distant voice asked. There was a crack in the air, followed by a sharp pain to the back of her head.
Mira finally blinked, her reality coming into focus. She stood over the capital city, on top of one of the many high towers that outlined the outskirts. The city was shaped like a bowl, dipping deeper and deeper the further you went towards the center. Hundreds of tall buildings streamed the walls of the canyon, they were all fit into neat rows, not one higher or lower than the other. They stretched all the way up to the edge, where the tallest buildings of all, were surrounded by the massive wall.
Pouring off the cliff like a waterfall, were thousands of long slabs of metal, crisscrossing through and around buildings, connecting the city at almost every point. From Mira’s position, it was difficult to find a spot of air in the bowl not filled by concrete or by one of the numerous rails that had been built connecting everything.
The order of things was perfect, completely uniform and of course, not designed by human hands. For humans were creatures of chaos, only made to serve the Subjectors. Despite the intentionally unvarying city, there still existed a bubble at the bottom, like a drain in a basin. The unusual area was marked with dozens of small buildings, never over three stories. The ghetto which was reserved for the most important of humans. It surrounded the mines, an endless shaft where the most valuable of people were forced to work for the Subjectors, mining for them the precious ore that they desired. So much in fact, that they had created humans specifically to do the work for them.
“Relax,” Mira snorted while rubbing the back of her head. Despite the fact that she meant the words for him, it likely was obvious that she needed to hear it herself. “You didn’t have to hit me.”
“I am the calm one here.” The man who stood alongside her said. Although his words could have been perceived as a condescending, Mira knew that his intentions were not. His name was Orro, he was a kindly man in his late thirties. The lines of a lifetime of hardship crossed his face and aged him, yet despite this, he always held a warm smile. He was thin, and not much taller than her, a lifetime of malnutrition and having to fight for scraps didn’t encourage growth in most. For the Subjectors liked to save the food for the men and women of the higher Stratums, people they deemed worthy. Orro was ragged yes, with most of his dark hair gone, and many of his teeth missing, but there was a life to his eyes. Something that comforted Mira when she looked into the.
“Is it like this for everyone?” Mira asked hesitantly, looking over the edge again.
“Of course.” Orro responded instantly, his eyes fell upon her shaking legs. Mira attempted to stand straighter but he approached even closer, she gasped as he stepped past her and seemed to fall in one motion. The young girl covered her mouth, attempting to hide her overreaction as the older man landed gently, sitting against the edge, his feet dangling. “Just sit,” he added, motioning for her to follow.
Uneasily, Mira got down on her butt and scooted over slowly until her feet dangled over the edge. She tried not to look down into the city, she already knew that a fall from this distance would kill her. All the while, Orro laughed at her uneasiness.
“Do you ever get used to it?” Mira stammered.
“To what?” Orro asked, not looking at her, his eyes upon the city instead. “The height or the danger?”
“Isn’t the fall deadly?”
“Yes. But most things are, in fact, I like to think that the fall is the dumbest thing trying to kill me. It’s sad but kind of true, especially compared to the things that are enthusiastically going to try to kill us. Human error is the least of our concern right now.”
“I guess.” Mira choked.
“But yes,” Orro whispered. “You become used to the heights, to the danger, even maybe to combat. But you never get used to the fear. That is the worst part, and entirely separate. The moment you lose control, your mouth dries up, your throat tightens, and you start thinking of the silliest things. Quite unfortunate, mostly because we’ll never be prepared for everything, but we’ll damn well try.”
“I hope.” Mira said quietly. Orro had been right giving her a few minutes to compose herself before they left, he had trained many recruits and said he knew that it was important for the reality to sink in before they went in.
“Don’t hope. Do.” Orro said, laughing. “You’re a pretty girl, you should have other things on your mind, like boys and if you’re going to have children or not.”
“I’m not that young,” Mira protested, slightly flustered. “And I’m not that pretty either.” Although a few people had told the eighteen year old girl that she was attractive, she could never find herself believing it. Not with such a short stature and a thin body that was more boyish than womanly. Perhaps they weren’t looking at that, maybe it was her red hair, which she always kept back in a clip, trying to make it appear as short as possible. It could have been her face, with pronounced cheek bones, a sharp chin, a small nose and even a few freckles. Yet Mira liked to think that it was her eyes, long but narrow, and a rare green colour, which made her stand out the most.
“I know that,” Orro spat. “Just most people,” The older man emphasized the word as if to make how apparent it was true for both genders, not just girls. “Like to do other things with their lives. They don’t fight against the Subjectors, you have to be crazy to want to fight them.”
“I have my reasons,” Mira said defiantly, trying to keep her voice steady. “The way we’re treated isn’t right, everyone knows that. Even children realize it from a young age that we’re abused and forced to live horrible lives for our creators.”
“I didn’t say that you were crazy for knowing our lives are shit,” Orro said with a sly grin. “I said that you are insane if you want to do something about it. I have no doubt that you know how high our mortality rate is, right?”
“I am aware of the risks, I believe that my goals outweigh them,” Mira said as she locked eyes with Orro. Like most people she knew that their lives were terrible, but she had been pushed too far by the Subjectors. So far in fact that she knew she had to help destroy them, or she couldn’t exist in this world anymore.
“Ah yes,” Orro responded, shaking his head. “Knowing the risks is different than seeing the odds in action. We die, it is what we’re mostly good for. Yet despite that, you still have to put on these forsaken metal boots and try to help slay the Subjectors. As you know, they don’t die easily, and we do. For all those reasons, it is apparent that you’re never truly part of the rebellion until you’ve survived your first mission and seen men and women just like you fall in the process.”
“I know that!”
“Yes you do, and you have been a very good student of our craft Mira. I always tell people that it takes two things to survive at this: To be more determined to live than they are to kill you, and to hate the Subjectors so much that you are willing to break every bone in your body to take one of them down. Of course, we all need reasons to abide by such impossible standards. Whether it’s a particular goal or just a single reasons, we all need to know exactly why we want to kill them. That is why you have so much potential Mira.”
“That’s really it?”
“Yes, I was a lot like you once,” Orro took in a deep breath as he let the words sink in. “Resentment, anger and a lot more pain than most. What they did to me, what they do to our people every day is a crime. Yet they are the ones who write the laws, so we must be the ones to fight. Everyone here has a goal, mine is different than yours and that is okay. As long as we both hate them, and we both keep fighting when things get hard.”
“I will,” Mira gave her teacher a warm smile, hopefully she wouldn’t fail him. She had never seen Orro open up about his past before, or what had happened to make him join the rebellion. The man was still a mystery to most, so ragged, so bitter yet so intelligent and well spoken. She wondered if he had ever been mistaken for someone in the second Stratum with his unusual speech style. Perhaps this talk was the first step, Mira would be the first to hear his story. “Even if they kill me, I’ll make sure I’ve at least paid them back tenfold.”
She meant it. Nivis always told her that her mind wandered too easily, yet Mira couldn’t do anything but concentrate on her mission, it was perfectly in focus. It was a shame her friend wasn’t ready for missions yet, it was their hope to be on the same squad someday. Perhaps if Nivis put as much into her training as she did into flirting with boys, then perhaps she would have made it this far too. Yet, it had become abundantly clear since her first day training two years ago, that Mira was special.
“Let’s go,” Orro said, he stood up with a quick motion and began to walk away. Mira scurried to her feet, forgetting her fear of falling off the edge from before, she caught up with the older man easily as he proceeded to the other side of the roof. “It is about time we meet with the others anyway.”
“Agreed,” Mira responded quickly. As per custom she began to check her equipment to make sure everything was in place. Like people living within the city, the rebels still wore basic human clothing. It was made of a warm and simple material, a dull grey in colour, and separated into many detachable pieces. This was because the capital was surrounded by desert, it was hot during the day, and cold at night. Humans had to be able to take off several layers and then be able to put them back on. Such a system was designed by the Subjectors, who they themselves did not wear clothing because they were immune to the effects of weather. Mira’s set was made up of the most common combination of a simple short sleeved shirt and pants, designed for both men and women, with a thick dark belt, a skirt that didn’t cover the front of her legs and went down to her ankles, a long sleeved jacket that ended right above the belt, and the short cloak that was wrapped on her shoulders and connected by hooks in the corners. Humans were encouraged to keep the cloak’s hood up at all times, their appearances were considered unsightly.
“Do you have all your stuff?” Orro asked, not evening turning to look at her as he examined the rails that poured off the walls and dipped into the city.
“Yes,” Mira said hesitantly. She was unable to stop herself from responding by reflex before she actually checked to make sure she had the most important pieces. Yet on her shoulder, there was the familiar weight of the weapon she carried, a crowbar. The piece required to be carried by all partners like herself. It was about thirty centimetres long, made of a thick sturdy metal which made it fairly heavy. One of the ends came to a sharp point, the sides curving around it so that it could act like a funnel. Hers was smaller and lighter than what most carried, due to her smaller frame, however it would be equally effective. She kept it tied off on both ends with a leather strap, which kept the bar tied to her shoulder quite easily. Next, Mira felt at her belt. She shook the animal skin flask which was attached. The satisfying whishing noise informed her that the container was full. “I’m good,” she finally added.
“Excellent,” Orro said, he looked back her and smiled. “Are you sure you’re ready?” He propped his own weapon on his shoulder. Like all punchers, he carried one of the special hammers, that the allies had helped humans design. It was long handled with a large metal head, a hole had been drilled out the front so that the metal spike within could pop out with ease. Tied to midpoint of the hammer was a small tank of oxygen, it was used to power the mechanism in the head. At the base, there was a trigger, protected by a guard, which when pulled when activate the device and cause the hammer to extend the pneumatic punch. Like most, Orro kept the hammer on a strap, which he could carry on his back.
“Yes,” Mira said stubbornly.
“You forgot the most important part,” Orro said, not a hint of condescendence in his voice.
“Shit,” Mira admitted, realizing her mistake. She immediately bent over and examined her heavy metal boots. The monstrosities were a little big for her, but would get the job done, they climbed all the way up to her mid shin and were kept together by dense buckles. The soles were the thickest and heaviest part, made of the Revius mineral that the Subjectors so desired. A part of Mira was pleased greatly that humans had figured out how to turn their greatest treasure against their masters. The boots were hooked in properly, she was used to their weight, something that all recruits were trained to do first. The wires leading up the sides of her thighs and connecting with her belt were intact and the buttons worked just fine. Mira had no idea how the boots worked, she only knew how to use them. “The boots are okay,” she finally said, finishing her inspection.
“Good,” Orro said. He motioned as if to begin moving but came to a stop suddenly. “There is one more thing I want to ask you.”
“What is it?” Mira asked. The older man turned to face her, his face grim, he reached into his belt and produced a small knife. The blade was double edged and phallic, a weapon for killing humans, not Subjectors. Carrying such a weapon was taboo amongst most in the rebellion. Mira wasn’t sure if she kept the shock off her face.
“Can you kill another human if you have to?” Orro asked, his voice gentle. It was a simple question, one which required a yes or no, it also wasn’t an order. Humans couldn’t be asked to kill other humans, such monstrosities were left to the Peacekeepers of the fifth Stratum who served the Subjectors. Mira stared at the blade, it glistened in the moonlight, so inviting and safe. Her quarrel was with the Subjectors, not other humans, even those weak enough to serve the oppressors. Men and women were so different than those creatures that didn’t have children through natural means and didn’t give names to one another. Mira had joined to kill them, to end as many of them as she could, she had no interest in killing something that died easily.
“No,” Mira finally said, her voice firm. Orro nodded, as if expecting that answer, he returned the blade to its hidden sheath on its belt.
The older man peered over the edge one last time, grimaced and produced a small lantern. Carefully, he pulled a small container of oil out and uncorked the lid. Next, Orro left it on the ground and pulled his hammer off his shoulder.
“Is that safe?” Mira asked, raising an eyebrow.
“We don’t have the time for safe,” Orro responded as he turned the hammer around in his hands. A small clank rang out as he banged it against the floor, sparks rang out from the flint which was stuck to the back of the head. A small fire was created in the container, before it could go out, Orro placed it into the lantern and held it up. It was a small fire, but it would serve the purpose of signalling the others that they were to begin the operation. “Last chance to back out.”
“No, I’m ready now.” Mira said, her voice finally steady. Orro looked over the edge before putting the light out. He moved towards her, for a moment it looked like he would say something else. Instead, Orro turned and threw himself off the edge.
Taking her last deep breath, Mira steeled herself and broke out into sprint. The wind hit her face, waking her up to the reality of the situation. She kicked off the edge, the momentum carrying her far. Although she knew she shouldn’t, Mira quickly glanced downward. For a moment, she floated above the forsaken city, if she fell, she would be with her fellow humans soon enough.
Mira’s hands worked on her own, activating the switch on her belt. The boots roared to life, a small hissing noise produced, the hair on the back of her neck standing up. The girl landed in line with the rail, her right shoulder pointed forward. The boots produced sparks, they caused Mira to hover above the railing without actually touching it. Using her momentum, she grinded along the railing, using it to guide her path as she followed after Orro who had also selected this rail.
The older veteran used his experience to its full advantage, he glided forward, the wind blowing his hood back. They were hundreds of metresoff the ground, traveling at an inhuman speed, it was like they were flying. Orro prescribed to the classic style of grinding, he kept his body straight and one foot in front of the other, his knees bent. It was a style that provided excellent balance, and you did not have to turn your head to see where you were going. However, your body would act as a buffer against the wind and it was relatively slow.
Mira much preferred the newer style, body turned, knees bent as much as you could, your feet parallel and leading with one of your shoulders. You had to turn your head all the way in order to see where you were going, and it was often difficult to keep your balance, however the speed was unmatched. Using her back foot to control her speed, Mira angled her heel, she sped up and caught Orro easily.
“Impressive!” Orro yelled, his voice barely audible over the wind.
“Thanks, where are the others?” Orro motioned to the right. Mira had to turn her whole body to see the shapes approaching on nearby rails, following them. Within seconds, the followers had jumped onto the same railing as them and were following behind.
“Hey!” The leader roared. The young woman who was now only a few paces behind Mira was pretty and in her early twenties. Taryve was stunning, with a slight frame, long legs and beautiful dark hair she kept in a simple braid. Like Mira, the more experienced grinder carried a bar.
“Good to see you!” Mira responded, she spared a glance to Taryve’s partner. She was being followed closely by a young man her own age, he had long hair which flapped in the wind behind him. Like most he was incredibly thin, however he did show signs of muscle. Emerson was a spirited young man, he wasn’t nearly the best but he always put forth an incredible effort and would stand out as a result. There were rumours surrounding him and Taryve, that they were more than just partners on the field of combat, that they were in fact lovers as well. Mira knew better than to believe that, but judging by the way he looked at his partner, Emerson at least had strong feelings for her. Perhaps the same could be said about Taryve, but Mira wasn’t too sure.
“Excited for your first run?” Emerson yelled.
“Nervous!” Mira admitted. Emerson gave her a thoughtful look and grinned in response. They came to a dip in the rail and picked up speed, Orro motioned with his hand and they all jumped to another rail and shot off in another direction.
“You should be,” Taryve said, she was close enough for Mira to hear. “But you’re do well as long as you stick to the plan. You understand it right?”
“I do!” Mira snorted, a little more defensively than she would have preferred. The plan was simple enough, Orro’s team was to meet up with Larson’s team at the target location. From there they were to sabotage the mining equipment, disrupting the efforts of the Subjectors. Mira even understood the bottom line of the mission, they were mostly serving as a distraction for peace keeping forces in the area, so that the Allies could perform a separate mission of their own. Orro didn’t even know what this mission of theirs was, the things the Allies did was a mystery to all of them. To Mira, they looked and acted just like the Subjectors, the only difference was that they were on the side of the rebellion. In fact, they had been the ones who had started the rebellion, this was their war, not man’s. People just liked to tell themselves that they were fighting for human liberty, not that they had exchanged one master for another.
The Allies plan was vital according to Orro, it would help free man eventually. He assured his team that the Allies were different, they unlike the Subjectors, gave humans freedom. What seemed odd to Mira was the fact that the Allies were the same as the Subjectors, but they had names, very human names. When asked why they had started a war with their own kind, the explanation they had given didn’t make much sense. As far as Mira understood, it was a conflict of beliefs, the Allies had a different view of their religion and wanted to let humans be free.
The group continued onward, the only noise was the persistent sparks that rang out of their boots. Orro lead the way through the maze of rails, which from the outside may have appeared chaotic to human eyes; yet Mira knew that the Subjectors built them with intent. The rails they rode on now were small, meant for individual travel, but there were also larger rails, meant for monorail trains.
Orro used no fancy maneuvers as he cut from rail to rail, regaining his balance and leading the group. The older man used his left foot behind him to propel himself and control his speed. Now that Mira was grinding, she felt at ease. She was traveling so fast, that her instincts had taken over, it was very liberating. Especially compared to the cramped corridors that the rebels lived in outside the city.
Within minutes, they had already descended deep into the city. They were surrounded by buildings which sprung out of the cliff like plants. Orro motioned with his hand for everyone to get ready, he switched railings and brought the group close to a particular building. The facility was several stories tall, with its own large rail coming out from an opening. Mira could see several dark shapes on top of the building, likely guards. They were too far up on the rails to be noticed by the peace keepers. Orro skipped to another rail, effectively taking them in a loop around the same building.
Two more grinders joined them on the same railing. They hailed the group, Mira quickly recognized the two men as they approached on a nearby rail. Larson and Bris passed by them, going the opposite direction around the building. Larson held up hand, all five fingers extended, he flashed it twice and Orro repeated the signal back.
Ten seconds and they would attack.
Mira had never met Larson, although she had seen him from a distance several times. He was in his late twenties and quite fit with powerful legs and sharp eyes. Rumour was that he was surprisingly sensitive for someone who fought for a living. Him and Bris had been partners their entire grinding careers, as a result they were best friends. Bris was significantly quieter as well as tall, Mira found him quite attractive despite the fact that he was balding. The duo were legends among the grinders, especially since they had remained partners so long without either dying. That, and the fact that Bris’ soft temperament made up for Larson’s larger than life approach to everything.
“Get your weapon ready!” Orro yelled back to her.
“What if I drop it?” Mira asked.
Mira nodded and gulped, she took another glance at the surface of the building and chose her landing point. One by one, starting with Orro, the grinders threw themselves off the rail and dropped towards the building. Mira felt as her hood was blown off, she held her bar in her hands, ready for anything. She continued to fall, speeding towards the target, which was only a few metresaway now. Flipping herself in midair, Mira activated the switch on her belt and prepared to land feet first.
Mira hit the ground, landing on her feet. Sparks rang out from her boots, they spread around her in a small wave, absorbing the impact of her fall, a fall that would have killed a human otherwise. The half dozen or so figures guarding the rooftop were caught completely off guard by their entrance.
They were men and women of the fifth Stratum, Peace Keepers, they wore swords. Long bladed weapons that served no purpose other than to kill other humans, disgusting things. Mira landed beside a man not much older than herself. His eyes were wide with horror as he attempted to draw his weapon. He wore a metal breast plate and helmet, his well-muscled arms and height were a clear indicator that he had eaten a healthy amount his whole life.
Acting before he could, Mira swung her crowbar at his unarmoured shin. The man cried out in pain as his legs were swept out and he hit the ground hard. Before he could recover, she reeled back and kicked him in the head, knocking him unconscious. Mira watched as the other five in the operation swept down and took down multiple targets each, they were not kind enough to spare their target’s lives.
Finally, two more grinders fell from the sky and took out the final stragglers. As per the plan, Foirthe and Riese were acting as the final wave. Members of Larson’s team, they were almost as inexperienced as Mira herself, having only been full-fledged grinders for a few months.
Riese was shockingly feminine for a girl who worked as a soldier, although short in stature she made up for it in cheerfulness and energy. Mira had talked with her on a few occasions, she was nice enough, but she came on a little strong with “easy” beauty tips that even a rebel living in the wilderness could follow. Her partner Foirthe was an unusual young man, he was really quiet, and she didn’t know him very well. Yet Mira had caught him looking at her several times when they were around each other, a few glances here and there. It was strange, she had never noticed something like that before, and she didn’t know how to respond. Foirthe was attractive enough, with dark eyelashes and blue eyes, yet she would have to get to know him better before anything could come of it.
Riese smashed a female guard in the back of the head with her crowbar, striking her with the sharp edge. Another guard, was able to draw his sword and round on her. Yet Foirthe was there with his hammer, in one quick motion he took out the man’s knee, buckling it forward, as the man fell, he spun and brought the head down on the man’s face. The sound of his skull collapsing echoed.
Mira let out a breath, the entire battle had only lasted a few seconds, yet it had seemed to last a small eternity. She scanned the battlefield, all the guards had been dispatched.
“Behind you!” Larson shouted, his voice in panic. Out of reflex, Mira hit the ground and rolled. A sword clanged on the ground where she had been moments before. A woman stood with her sword drawn, her face distorted in fear. Mira hadn’t noticed her, where had she come from?
The woman swung again, Mira brought up her crowbar and blocked the blade head on. The soldier was stronger than her, as a result she was thrown back. Mira cried out as her back hit a wall, she slid down to her knees, winded.
“Damn you.” The woman hissed, her eyes darting to the other grinders. She stood over Mira, weapon ready, able to finish her within a second. However the woman turned and broke out in a sprint.
“Take her out!” Orro roared to the others. “She’s going for an alarm!” The woman darted for a small tower that was perched on the corner of the building, it was attached to a horn. With a grunt, Mira rose to her feet and picked up her bar, she chased after the woman. Despite the fact that the Peace Keeper was healthier, the woman was still weighed down by armour. Mira gained on her, readying her crowbar, she couldn’t throw it effectively and not harm the woman. She had to kill her in order to save the mission.
Mira reeled back and prepared to throw the weapon tip first, yet she couldn’t complete the throw. Instead she hesitated, her eyes wide, the gravity of the situation sinking in. The guard reached the crank and turned. The horn rang out for a split second, a high pitch and horrible sound before it was cut off. The woman fell down, a knife in her neck, thrown by Orro.
“Fool girl,” Orro hissed. “She was right behind you the entire time.”
“I didn’t…” Mira choked, her eyes on the corpse of the guard, she was crumpled forward.
“Doesn’t matter…” Orro added, but he was cut off.
“It’s coming!” Larson yelled. The entire group watched as a shape observed them from another building, red eyes glowing. The creature threw itself from the nearby building, it ignored the rails, able to clear the long distance jump on its own. It landed with a loud thud, smashing the concrete around it.
“Get ready!” Orro screamed, he held his hammer out in front of him now. “Larson, you’re the most experienced here, take your partner and finish the objective. The rest of us can handle this.”
“Don’t die.” Larson whispered, he looked to Bris and they sprinted off together.
The figure of the Subjector rose, it was nearly two metres tall, with shiny skin and unnaturally long limbs that unfolded. Its boxy head protruded, two large glowing eyes surrounded by several smaller eyes on a featureless face. Its neck cracked and spun a full three hundred and sixty degrees, observing all the grinders who were standing by, reading to assault it. Mira had never seen a Subjector at night, with the steam rising from its joints and the moon reflecting off its metal skin.
“We’re killing you this evening, monster.” Orro snapped, his eyes blazing with the anger of past wounds. The Subjector tilted its head, as if not understanding what they were saying. The sound of metal grinding on metal broke the silence as a blade unsheathed from within each of its arms.
“It’s a Dull,” Orro whispered to Mira. “Too dumb to even understand our language, but do not underestimate it. If we run from it now, it’ll only alert more of its kind.”
“I understand,” Mira said, readying her weapon. She was surprised her feet weren’t shaking, but adrenaline had taken over. On the other side of the monster, Taryve and Emerson had already fallen into formation, ready to take this monster down. To Mira’s left, Foirthe and Riese were just getting ready.
“You remember the strategy?” Orro asked distantly. “We attack in waves, the squad with the most experience first and so forth. You distract it first, I’ll do my part, and then I’ll distract it. Understand?”
“I’m ready,” Mira hissed, she broke out into a run at the Subjector. They didn’t have too many advantages in this fight, but they would use what they did have. The monster took a massive swing at her, its bladed arm threatening to cleave her in half. Despite being so large, the attack was precise and deadly, Mira ducked under and continued moving forward.
A couple of paces behind her, Orro followed, he readied his weapon and took a swing at the Subjector. The hammer glanced off the skin, denting it slightly. Orro pulled the trigger and the pneumatics hissed to life as steam shot from the opening on the hammer, the metal spike emerged and smashed against the Subjector, however it did not puncture the skin. Despite not doing any real damage, Orro knew not to stand still, he kept running past the machine, narrowly dodging its counter attack.
Within a split second, Mira and Orro had gotten themselves a safe distance from the creature. They continued running forward and jumped off the building, found a rail and grinded up it so that they were going around the Subjectors in circles above it.
A few heartbeats after their attack, Taryve and Emerson had already gotten themselves onto a railing and were issuing their attack on the Subjector. Like Mira had done, Taryve distracted the Dull, channeling its ire into an attack on her, while Emerson tried to punch a hole in its flesh with his hammer. Mira watched from her vantage point as the other team did their damage and continued running past, also jumping from the building to get back on the rails.
Orro led her, they would grind along until they faced the back of the monster, after the next team attacked, it would be their turn. Foirthe and Riese landed to the side of the monster, their relative inexperience showing. Swinging one of its long arms, the Subjector took Foirthe through the shoulder. He screamed into the night as the creature pulled its blade out with ease and took a swing at Riese, who ducked out of the way. The girl kept her composure and tried to keep the thing’s attention. Foirthe had long since dropped his hammer, he clutched his bleeding wound and dragged himself away.
“We have to get him out of there,” Mira cried out.
“No!” Orro snapped. “He’s a professional, he knows his part in this, he’ll be able to handle himself.”
The older man threw himself from the rail, landing behind the monster. He cried out as he swung his hammer straight into the Subjector, who could only turn in time to block the blow with its right arm. The punch hissed and the satisfying sound of the punch breaking through flesh rang out. Mira darted past the Dull, gaining its attention, she spared a glance at the small dent that was produced by Orro’s attack. The hammer had punched a small hole and dented the flesh inwards, enough for a crowbar.
The pair continued their pace and ran off the building, catching another rail. They watched as Taryve and Emerson landed on the creature’s right side, they were going for its arm. This time, the man distracted the Subjector.
“Now!” Emerson yelled as the Subjector completed a swing at him with its right arm. He ducked just in time, allowing Taryve to use his back as a jump off point. She flew through the air, using her momentum to fling herself against the creature’s arm, at the same moment she brought her crowbar down and struck the wound Orro had made earlier. The sound of metal scrapping against metal rang out as the bar was forced into the Subjector’s wound, bladed tip first. The creature made no scream or cry as it tried to fling her off, yet Taryve held on, the crowbar her handle.
Mira watched in amazement as the other girl grasped at her own animal skin, popped the lid off and prepared to pour it down the crowbar into the wound of the Subjector. All the while, Emerson smashed his hammer against the creature, trying to keep its attention on him. The young man was able to get several blows in, the Subjector seemed torn on swinging at him, or removing Taryve.
“Clear!” The girl screamed as she threw herself off the arm, tearing the crowbar out with her as she hit the ground and rolled. Emerson grinned visibly, the crude oil pouring from the wound of the Subjector, it was a clear target. He spun his hammer around in his hands and struck at the wound with the side of his hammer covered with flint.
Yet the Subjector anticipated the attack, steam poured out from its arm joint as it hissed audibly. The arm popped off as Emerson struck it, the sparks forming from the blow ignited the oil’s fumes. By the time the arm had exploded, the Subjector had already cleared a short distance and it was turning back for another attack.
Emerson screamed in pain, a few pieces of metal shrapnel jutted in his body from the explosion. Taryve stumbled over, she had a large piece in her back, her clothes were now stained with blood. Their wounds were ugly, but not life threating, they chose to make a make a break for the rails instead of being caught in the open.
Mira looked towards the third team, Riese was helping Foirthe get to the edge of the building. His eyes were ablaze with panic, but he mostly kept composed, he had already torn off his shirt and tied a tourniquet around the wound.
“It’s our turn now!” Orro said, throwing himself off the rail. Mira followed the old man as he landed in the open in front of the monster. It’s lifeless eyes studied them for a moment before it went in for an attack, it only had its left arm to strike with now. Yet Orro broke the most important rule of grinders, he didn’t keep moving, instead he stayed in the open and dodged the Subjector’s attacks. Mira ducked under its legs, striking at it with her bar, it did no damage but it would hopefully get its attention. Yet the monster had already learned that the hammer was the real threat, it continued to berate Orro with attacks. The older man dodged narrowly out of the way of an attack and he was grazed by the blade. Orro grunted in pain, holding the wound on his arm.
The Subjector spun and went for a major attack, Orro wouldn’t move fast enough. So Mira ran in and tackled the old man, pushing him out of the way of the attack. Instead of toppling completely over like she did, Orro stumbled but remained on his feet. The Subjector salvaged its attack and was able to strike him with just its arm, not the blade.
Orro grunted in pain as Mira heard his ribs crack, he was thrown through the air, where he landed hard on the ground. Now the monster turned its undivided attention onto her, it came in for several quick jabs but she was too fast. Mira eventually got the monster’s rhythm of attacks down and was able to dodge with relative ease, mostly because it was so slow.
Almost as soon as she thought that, the Subjector hissed as steam poured out from all over its body. Plates of the natural metal armour that grew out of its body flew off as it purged the majority of its protection. What was left was a much thinner creature, and as a result, much faster.
Mira barely dodged that left arm now. She tried to stay on the right side of it, but the creature would keep turning its spine so that even if its legs were turned away, its upper body still faced her. With each attack she dodged, Mira got the impression the thing was learning from her. Each successive maneuver was a fragment of a second shorter the next time, pretty soon, it would beat her.
Her crowbar bounced off the metal flesh, useless at this stage. This wasn’t what Mira had expected, she had expected to easily dispatch one of these monsters. Yet right now, she felt not only afraid, but powerless, without Orro, she was useless to kill this thing. It was true, Subjectors, were near impossible to kill. The thing just lost an arm and it didn’t even seem to care. It didn’t bleed, so how could it die?
A battle cry filled the night, Foirthe ducked around an attack and swung into the monster’s body. The intensity in his eyes was inspiring, he was trying to save Mira, how sweet. The punch hissed, and he successfully put a hole in the thing’s back, close to the right shoulder. Yet the young man hadn’t anticipated the Subjector’s new found speed, and he was only fighting with one arm. So the when the monster raised its entire leg and kicked him straight on, his eyes were wide in surprise. The blow hit him straight in the chest, launching him backwards into a wall.
“I’ll finish this!” Riese yelled as she ran in from behind the creature. It spun, now ignoring Mira and instead going for the deadlier target. Riese already had her crowbar ready and was readying herself to jump. Yet the Subjector caught her with its hand, it held her for a moment, its three digits digging into her skin as it looked at her curiously. Riese looked helpless, she stared at the blade coming from the monster’s forearm and cried out, dropping her crowbar.
With new found disinterest, the Subjector squeezed down, crushing her ribs but not killing her. Riese screamed in pain as it tossed her to the side like garbage. Turning to face Mira instead, now the greatest threat around it.
“I won’t back down, monster!” Mira cried out, her voice cracking. Not only was this thing fast now, but it was just as strong as it had been before, one blow from it would break her bones easily. Her eyes falling upon the single wound in the Subjector’s back, Mira realized that she did have a chance. “Follow me!”
Mira broke out into a run, away from the Subjector. Like she expected, the creature barrelled after her, its footsteps rocking the floor. Reaching the end of the building, Mira climbed up and ran along the edge, watching as the Subjector approached more cautiously. It kept its distance, unwilling to charge, or come any closer than it had to, it was now depending on the reach of its arm. The girl easily kept pace with the thing, although her chest now pounded, and she had to suck breathes in, she still ran along the edge.
Why isn’t it trying to come at me? Mira thought to herself, as she slid under the horizontal swing of the Subjector. The thought finally occurred to her, causing her eyes to widen visibly.
It can’t grind.
Smirking, Mira threw herself from the building, back first. She spun in the air and aimed for a nearby rail. Do to the fact that she didn’t look, she hadn’t actually aimed properly, and she hadn’t jumped far enough to catch a railing. That was no issue however, Mira activated the third button on her belt, sparks rang out from the boots and she was pulled feet first towards the nearest rail. Once there, her boots stuck to it like glue, so she flipped the switch again and she was floating above it like normal.
The Subjector watched as Mira grinded back up to the level of the rooftop. It had abandoned its earlier caution and was now running along the edge of the roof after her. Speeding along, she looked over her shoulder, the creature was reaching up with its left hand, preparing to strike at her, before long it would be close enough to hit her.
Mira suddenly threw herself from the rail, the Subjector didn’t react fast enough, it instead kept running. The girl was whipped in the air, she had timed it correctly and the creature’s maintained speed allowed her to land on it as it ran past. Mira clung to the monster’s shoulder, the left arm was frantically trying to peel her off, it ran even faster, trying to make the ride as bumpy as possible in an attempt to throw her off and the head had spun around three hundred degrees to watch her. Grinning, she stabbed her crowbar into the wound, the metal screamed as sparks flew. Using the lever, Mira held on as she prepared to pop the top off her animal skin. The Subjector’s eyes watched her, no emotion, but she knew it was desperate by the way it still ran, and the way it tried to grab at her.
Mira laughed, placing the skin back on her belt, she pulled her crowbar out of the wound and winked at the Subjector.
“You’re out of rooftop,” she whispered as she threw herself off the thing’s back. She caught one last glimpse of the head turning around, just in time for the Subjector to run straight off the edge of the building. Mira hit the concrete and tumbled. As soon as she could, she scurried over to the edge. The last thing she saw of the Subjector was of it tumbling between buildings and smashing into the ground, hundreds of metres below.
It was dead, hopefully.
“Is everyone okay?” Mira asked as she approached where the others had rounded up. Orro held his chest, blood was pouring from his mouth, he also favoured his right leg. Taryve was coughing as Emerson tied his cloak over her back in an attempt to stop her bleeding, both were covered in cuts and showed signs of swelling on their faces. Foirthe, barely held himself up, he looked to be delirious, he likely had broken bones from the kick as well as the large wound in his shoulder. Yet the young man smiled at her slightly, it was faint and slightly cute, perhaps he was someone she should be looking at. Finally, Riese was helping to hold up Foirthe, her eyes were full of tears and she was clutching her midsection.
“How do we look?” Orro asked flatly.
“Not very good, how did I look?”
“Amazing!” Foirthe spat out, a little more intensely than he had intended. Riese shot him a look.
“Not bad for a first mission, but you didn’t use the oil.” Orro spat, then he let out a small laugh.
“Well, I’m sorry. Next time before I kill it a different way I’ll be sure to waste my oil too.”
They all seemed to laugh at that slightly, even Riese who stopped giving Mira a glare. They were all cut off as an explosion rang out below them.
“The boys must have succeeded!” Taryve declared, coughing from exerting herself.
“I would love to stay but we need to leave, like now,” Emerson said, looking to his partner with concern. “We’re wounded and can’t do much else.
“I think we can all agree on that,” Orro added. “Can everyone move okay? Can you grind?” There was a brief moment of silence before everyone nodded or grunted in approval. Mira looked as Larson and Bris, who were covered in blood, approached the group. They only had a few flesh wounds, so most of it was not theirs. Despite herself, the young grinder felt guilty for not being harmed yet.
“Let’s get moving then,” Bris said. “We should be able to meet with the Allies when…” The veteran grinder was cut off as a shadow formed over them. Mira cracked her head to the sky slowly, her eyes widened in horror.
Blocking out the moon was a massive shape, it slid along one of the bigger rails and flew off, heading right towards them. It was massive, it would easily take up an eighth of roof by itself.
“Move!” Orro screamed, all resemblance of stealth gone from his mind. “Get to the rails!” The eight men and women all ran towards the edge, as the newcomer hit the roof hard. The floor vibrated violently, enough to throw most of them off their feet, including Mira. She looked back at the creature as it unfolded and stood on two legs.
The Subjector was at least fifteen metres tall, it was shaped like a humanoid but unlike the last one, was bulky and well armoured. The left arm had a massive claw, three digits, perfect for squeezing the life out of anything, while the right arm held a massive lance, much of the haft was covered by a shield. The creature’s head turned towards them, unfolding and revealing many red eyes, steam rushed out of its joints and it took a single step forward. Mira had just gotten back to her feet, but was already thrown back down.
“No!” Larson cried out, his face contorted in fear. “It can’t be, there is no way.”
“Move!” Orro screamed, pulling the younger man to his feet and pushing him towards the edge of the wall. “It is real, it is here and it’s a Behemoth, we can’t fight it.”
“Stop.” The Subjector ordered, its voice booming. Mira held her hands to her ears, the thing was unnaturally loud, its voice had no gender, no emotion. “Rebels are to be executed on the spot, please accept your sentence now.”
“Mira!” Orro screamed in her ear. She turned to face him, but the world seemed to be fading around them. She tried but her legs wouldn’t move, the others had already run ahead and were almost to the edge.
The Subjector turned its body towards the group that had made it the furthest, Taryve and Emerson, despite their injuries were almost to the rails. The body unfolded, several holes emerged from it and steel spikes, like the punches in the hammers, popped out slightly.
“Get down!” Bris yelled, looking back at what the Subjector was doing. “It can break the Hermetic laws!”
It was too late.
There was a dull light that came from the creature’s chest. Mira watched with terrified interest as the rods of metal expanded on their own. It wasn’t like they were being fed through the chest by some natural means of extension, the metal was actually growing. Like a flurry of javelins, the metal spikes shot from the Subjector’s chest, growing longer and longer. Dozens of them, too many to count, too many to dodge. They hit the edge of the building, broke through the concrete with ease, shattered the edge of the roof, and collapsed it even. Mira couldn’t turn away as she watched Emerson and Taryve get impaled, their bodies torn apart by several of the rods, their limbs thrown about and their sacks of flesh bursting forth with all the blood it contained.
Mira had no idea there was so much blood in a person.
“Go!” Orro screamed, tears forming in the edge of his eyes. Mira hesitated and he slapped her again and again till her legs started moving again. “Split up!”
Larson led the survivors to the left, he was followed by Bris, Foirth and Riese. Orro had grabbed Mira by the arm and forced her to move towards the right, he threw her off the rooftop and her body acted on its own, she caught herself on a rail and began to grind.
Despite the situation, she couldn’t help but look back at the Subjector which moved shockingly quickly to pursue them. It raised its left arm, a beam of fire shot forth from between its fingers, it extended all the way past them. The heat was incredible, the beam moved with the arm of the monster, yet Mira had never felt so cold in her life. Two smaller creatures fell off of the Subjector, one went left the other came after her.
The smaller ones were no larger than an average man, they were lightly armoured and incredibly fast. Much to Mira’s shock, they didn’t just follow, they jumped on the rails and grinded after them.
“Shit.” Orro exclaimed, looking back. “It has sent its fragments after us, we’ll have to shake them off.”
Orro now moved with incredible speed, with little regard to his safety, all that seemed to matter was getting away from the Subjectors. Even as the large monster faded from view, Mira could still see the small ones following them, keeping their distance. Orro seemed to predict their movements, jumping from rail to rail, seemingly at random.
Eventually, the rest of the group came back into view. They were moving just as fast, but their pursuer was gaining on them. She could see the thing clearly, it was thin and gangly, with large hands and a small head. Both hands seemed to have sharp claws for grabbing. The Subjector raised one arm at the nearest target: Riese. The young girl looked back just in time to see the thing taking aim so she jumped off the railing and to another.
“No!” Larson yelled to her. “Don’t separate from the…”
He was too late.
The other Subjector, the one that had been following Mira moments before had already jumped rails and sped up. It easily caught Riese, even as she kicked at it and tried to hit it with her crowbar. The thing without effort just grabbed her with its claws and squeezed, it squeezed so hard that she just broke. As soon as Mira heard her back break, the Subjector threw her away like trash, having lost complete interest in her.
“Bastard!” Foirth screamed. The young man who had rushed to save Mira earlier slowed down in an attempt to attack the Subjector who had taken out Riese, however the other one had been right behind him.
Now having found an easy target, the Subjector raised its right arm, a small pillar of fire shot forth and consumed him. Foirth screamed as he was lit on fire, his flesh searing and smoking in the evening.
“I have to!” Mira cried out, ready to jump to the next rail. Yet at his own risk of throwing himself off balance, Orro had grabbed her wrist. He violently twisted it as he screamed:
“You cannot! He’s already dead!”
Mira turned in time to see Foirth attempt to bat at the monster with his hammer while he was on fire, the thing just knocked him away like he was nothing, throwing the young man into the abyss. Mira watched through watery eyes as the boy smashed between rails and finally faded out of sight.
“We have to move forward, we have to live,” Orro snorted. Mira could only nod in response.
The other Subjector still followed, yet it suddenly lost interest and skipped to another railing and took another path.
“Did we lose it?” Mira asked.
“No,” Orro whispered, he hopped to another rail and took them upwards. “The two Fragments are joining up to take on the other remaining survivors. They figure they have a better chance that way, we need to find somewhere to hide.”
“Fragments?” Mira asked confused, despite all the emotion going through her head at this moment, she could only try to understand her enemy better. “Why do you call them that, they’re Subjectors.”
“Yes and no,” Orro said. He led her down a dark path, jumped off a railing and landed on a short roof that was perched between two larger buildings, kind of like an alleyway. “They’re Subjectors yes, but they’re just part of the same Subjector, the big one. It’s kind of hard to explain. All you need to know right now, is what they see, so can the Behemoth, and they’re not nearly as smart either.”
“I see,” Mira barely managed to choke out the words. Orro leaned against a wall and looked out into the city. Taryve, Emerson, Riese and Foirth, they were all dead. She had watched it happen, just moments before. Many of them she had just gotten to know, many she had yet to know, they all had lives, stories to tell, but they were snuffed out. Mira clutched her face, her nails digging in, she felt blood pour down. She couldn’t panic now, she couldn’t lose her mind, there was still a mission, she had to survive, and she had to kill the Subjectors. This was just a minor obstacle, another reason to hate those monsters, she would kill them, kill every single one. She had already done it, once, she would do it again, over and over again until there were none of them.
Mira couldn’t exist in a world where she still drew breath at the same time as those things.
“They are going after the other two,” Orro whispered, his voice grim. Mira managed to crawl over and peak over the edge. Larson and Bris were fighting against the Fragments valiantly. They pulled incredible maneuvers of speed and technique, the like of which Mira had never even heard of. They flipped in the air, attacked at the two monsters, dodging their coordinated attacks while engaging in their own. They ganged up on one of the small Subjectors. Bris would rush past it, on his way to another rail, hit it with his hammer and move on. All the while, Larson distracted the other one and managed to keep them both off balance with strikes to the two enemies.
They landed hit after hit on the Subjector, it began to slow, trails of steam rising from the numerous wounds. Eventually, Larson prepared his crowbar, he would finish it off.
“They’re incredible,” Mira said in awe. This was what two high level grinders working in perfect harmony could do.
The second, less damaged Fragment went for Larson’s back, but it was knocked off course by a hammer blow from Bris. The team leader was able to get to the back of the smaller monster, he jammed his crowbar into it and began to pour his oil while the thing flailed.
“They’re… going to do it.” Mira choked.
In one fluid movement, Larson jumped off the back of the Subjector and converted his boots so that they drew him to a nearby rail. Bris wasn’t far behind, he had smashed the creature with his hammer, and sparks emerged, lighting the fumes ablaze.
The Subjector lit on fire, its limbs flailing as it stopped grinding. Bris seemed to grin at his success, he prepared to pull away and…
The Fragment grabbed hold of him, no longer off balance, it pulled him close to itself. Bris screamed as he was caught in the thing’s fiery embrace. Larson yelled in horror, jumping to save his friend, crowbar ready, but he was knocked off balance by the undamaged Subjector.
He was thrown through the air, forced to watch as his friend was clutched by the burning , monster. Something that looked like the tail of a scorpion rose out of its back and jabbed at his back. Bris screamed and contorted with each stab, until his burnt legs hung lifelessly. The fragment just stood there holding the body as the oil finally combusted, the resulting explosion consuming them both.
“No!” Larson screamed, his reflexes took over and he recovered in time to grind up a railing. Mira forced back tears, she was upset, Orro was upset, Bris’ partner was a wreck, but the Subjector didn’t seem to care. The monster acted with no emotion, only the need to finish off the remaining enemy.
The sky was blocked off, the sounds of something massive glided above them. The Behemoth jumped off a large rail and landed on a building adjacent to Larson. The young man screamed in torment, continuing to dodge the attacks of the Fragment. The massive Subjector struck out with its lance, the weapon cleaved through the rail and a nearby building, throwing bits of metal and concrete everywhere.
Larson hit the rooftop hard, he tumbled and eventually coming to a stop. All Mira heard was the resulting crack, and his scream as he clutched his leg. Bone was jutting out of his leg, he would die if it wasn’t treated right away, she had to save him, she had to…
Larson looked up to the Behemoth, which studied him with a disturbing sense of curiosity. The Fragment had perched on its shoulder and stood ready to attack at any moment, flashing its scorpion like tail now. The young man’s face turned grim, he reached for his crowbar and tried to stand. Mira clutched her chest as she heard another bone snap under the weight of his effort. Larson screamed in pain, falling to both knees, he held the weapon in both hands, ready to fight to the death.
“Someday!” Larson said, loud enough so that it echoed through the sleeping city. “Someone who looks just like me! Is as weak as me! As slow and as dumb as me!” He coughed, clutching his side, bits of concrete and glass were jammed into his ribs and back. “As human as me! They’ll kill you! They’ll kill all of you!” Larson let out a primal scream, it filled the night. Mira was sure she would hear that sound in the back of her mind until the day she died. Finally, the young man held up his crowbar, a weapon of man, a weapon for freeing his own kind. With one last strenuous effort, and without hesitation, he drove it through his own throat.
Mira didn’t look away, she couldn’t.
“Mira,” Orro hissed, he shook her violently. She watched him, his voice seemed distant, her view drifted past him, towards the massive killer. “This is our last chance.” His breathes were shallow and quick, his age was showing through. Orro could barely stand on one leg, his other had been damaged beyond being really useful. Getting this far had been a miracle, there was no possible way he could continue. “I’m finished, I cannot possibly grind long enough to get out of here, but you’re unharmed, you can escape. Please Mira, I want you to run, and don’t look back. I will distract them.”
“You can’t,” Mira choked. “We both have to escape. You have to tell me why you hate the Subjectors so much, why you fight. You promised.”
“I’m sorry Mira, I’m going to die.” Despite his words, Orro gave her a reassuring smile. “This is where my revenge ends. It doesn’t matter what I wanted, because soon I won’t exist anymore, but you. You have a chance, I have a feeling that somehow, you’ll make even my dreams come true. Hopefully there is a life beyond that even.”
“We both have to…”
“No,” Orro added firmly. Mira didn’t not fight him as he turned her around and pushed her in the opposite direction of the Subjectors. “I’ll draw them north, towards the center of the city. Head up the canyon and escape over the wall. Tell the others,” Orro seemed to think for a moment as he clutched her shoulders tightly. “Just tell them we died well. Lie if you have to.” With that, Orro pushed her onto a rail, he went the opposite way. Mira wished she hadn’t disobeyed him, she watched as he approached the Behemoth screaming all the while.
Orro flew through the air, at and incredible speed, the fastest anything Mira had ever seen done. It was incredible, a man prepared for death, willing to throw his body away to leave one last impression on the world. He overshot a rail, but he converted his boots so that they would draw him to another.
The Subjector watched curiously, it tapped its claw on a railing by its head. To Mira’s horror, a blue light rang out as the rail became energized, the metal itself seemed to glow a blue light. Orro’s moment was cut short, his boots lifted into the air, he was forcibly drawn towards the railing, his legs hit the railing hard and snapped under the force, his scream was piercing. The Subjector slowly reached out and picked him up, it seemed to act carefully so it wouldn’t hurt him. All that appeared out of the grip of its three digits was Orro’s head, the man was still yelling in pain. The Subjector didn’t say anything, it only squeezed, a minimum effort. Yet it was enough to spray the sides of many buildings with the man’s blood. Orro’s body was not built to withstand that kind of pressure.
Her eyes now dry, her anger now dull, Mira grinded as fast as she could. She sped through the city, alone through the dark streets. It wasn’t long before the shadow was following her. Looking back, Mira saw the thing above her, it was grinding on a massive rail, the kind used for monorail trains.
She grimaced, attempting to lose it, by weaving through the buildings, jumping from rail to rail. Yet no matter what she did, she could not lose it. It pursued her, endlessly. At that moment Mira realized that she couldn’t escape this thing, it wouldn’t rest until it had caught her, until it had squeezed the life out of her for simply being human, for being human enough to stand up and fight against it.
Mira wouldn’t allow that. The Monster held out a single hand, its claw began to glow and extend, shooting off like one of its spears. It connected with the rail that Mira was riding on. Rather than breaking however, the rail held strong, but then began to glow.
Mira watched in horror as the rail changed in front of her eyes. The very metal itself became distorted, wavy instead of straight, it threw her off with ease and she went flying. She was now falling to her death, nothing in sight, except for the support beams of the massive rail. Mira took a deep breath, she would get through this she would…
The surviving Fragment rounded on her in mid-air, it knocked her against the beam and winded her. Mira cried out in pain as the thing gripped the metal and slid down, keeping pace with her fall. She swung at it with the crowbar but it kept dodging out of the way. Screaming in frustration she kicked at it, and it took a swipe. Accidently, Mira knocked the buttons on her boots as the kick landed against its head. There was an explosion of sparks as her boots short circuited. The fuse on her belt exploding. Yet the Subjector flailed as if in a panic.
Unsure of what was happening, Mira accepted her situation. She was done for, the least she could do was take this bastard with her. Seizing the animal skin, she emptied the contents on the thing and bashed it with her bar, the sparks caused the oil to explode, throwing her against the beam again. Yet Mira hit something hard, she tumbled, losing her crowbar off the edge.
Her vision blurry, all she saw was a metal handle, and the flaming wreckage of what remained of the Subjector. Mira gripped the handle, her body was so sore, so tired, her heart felt like it would smash through her chest at any moment. Yet she persisted, she turned the lever fully and watched as a small hole in the massive beam opened up to her. Without another thought, Mira pushed herself through and closed the door, everything was already black when she passed out.
Anyways, thank you for reading. I'll be talking about this in great deal a bit later.