Wasteland Chronicles: Zero Blade

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#3

The name’s Zero. I’m on a run.

The girl stared at me, which oddly filled me with dreadness for no reason. It’s a sensation I’ve never felt in the fights, even when faced with the deadly labyrinth. The feeling was from a long time ago, but my non-functioning brain failed to load the memory. “Sorry, I don’t remember who you are.” I told her.

“You should ditch your stupid acting,” the girl exclaimed, yet her voice was without blame, but worried. “We’ve known since you were five and I was three,” she continued. There was a nagging of a lost memory, yet I cannot recall.

Realizing I never had enough sleep after the long and weary fight, and how my brain has proceeded to overwork itself, my knees buckled, and darkness consumed me from the inside.

I woke and found the sky dark. The blue, metallic display on my watch read “3:00am”, which means I’ve lost conscience for at least six hours. I activated the touchpad on the wall of the hovercraft, pushed some buttons in the order Ned specifically told us to memorize, and got out of the transport. Turning on the torch on my wristwatch, a sudden howl of metal - something mechanical, wild, and definitely hostile - sounded in the darkness of the night. I extended my power-blade and a power-shield that Ned’s team had salvaged from an onslaught of enemies the day before. Kayson ran out to switch on the lights, and a radius of ten meters lit up in a violent and unfamiliar twinge of blue. Knowing the hostile beam was not from our light source, it could only mean one thing: enemies. I had fast reflexes and jumped to defend Kayson, but it was too late. The beast, resembling a giant mechanical wolf, knocked Kayson to the ground. The mech-wolf wields fangs of power-daggers, its back full of spikes made from power-blades, and towered over us with almost 4 meters in height. I landed just to see Kayson limping weakly on the ground, attempting to recover from the impact. The mech-wolf let loose a blood-curdling howl, and a distant voice howled back, many different voices yet uniformly as intimidating. Seems like we have company soon. Roaring back to show dominance, the mech-wolf backed off for a moment, but the shock effect won’t last long. It leaped, jaws opening wide, and pounced at me. The mech-wolf landed with a clang, but I wasn’t there anymore. My power-blade extended, impaling itself into the body of the savage creature.

Even with such a menacing creature like a mech-wolf, I was able to recognize its weak spot: The power supply was located close to its outer skin, and one precise cut to the power cord would render it useless. The body of the wolf jolted once, twice, then it laid still. I walked up to Kayson and lent him my hand. He took it and I hauled him back to his feet. Hearing the intimidating roars louder and louder, we knew our tiny hovercraft were surrounded by wolves that were closing in on us from a distance. Red and blue eyes from faraway glowed with hunger. Kayson went inside to alert the others. Danson was the first to join me. He held two rifles in his hands, and we slowly formed a defensive circle.

Chaos exploded when a mech-wolf leaped into view as Danson aimed his rifle towards the mech-wolves’s weak spots with dental dexterity, punctured holes in the mech-wolf as it fell dead at our feet. The other mech-beasts closed in, and to our horror, they pounced towards us all at once. I extended my blade and my shield, then proceeded to wreak a vortex of destruction. My blade passed through the mech-beasts’ bodies like hot butter, and Kayson fired his blaster, lighting the darkness momentarily for us to see mech-beasts limped lifelessly towards the ground. The girls, awake at the sound of battle, quickly equipped themselves and ran out to help. Ignoring the searing pain on my left arm where a beast’s fang lightly sank, I continued my destruction.

Wading through the mech-beasts to watch them slowly collapse to the ground, I seemed almost invincible until a missile from a mech-beast exploded in front of me, the impact left me incacipated for a short while. Kayson ran towards me, blades extended and ready for defending me, but I have mostly recovered from the transient shock-wave. Again, my instincts kicked in, and I went berserk, crashing into the mech-beasts, my blade ended up in destruction.

I regained my sense to find myself standing, blood and oil stained my shirt, which was now in tatters. Mech-beasts’ corpses lay surrounding me, and salvageable parts piled like mountains. I needed some time to regain my conscience when Ned was the first to break the silence. He trudged towards my side, gathering parts and sorting them into his tool belt. The others helped, and we disassembled the beasts, salvaging useful parts from it. I picked the power-daggers from the fallen mech-wolves and added them onto my own pockets. Ned tossed me a new shirt to replace my previous tatters. He also gave me a belt of slots, and two big ones were on the side, which Ned explained as a slot for my power-blade, and handing me a custom-made power-blade, the grip matching my hand shape for better control. I extended it to find a two-meter long blade, glowing blood red. I switched it off, and put the daggers and blade into the slots. Ned then returned with a flat console in his hands, and as he powered it up, drones flew into the sky. Ned explained it is used to scout the terrain and look out for enemies, and then we all boarded the hovercrafts and the fighters.

As we are running low on provisions, we were told by Ned that there was a nearby fortress guarded by mechanians, which seemed weaker and could be conquered. However, it involved substantial risks, as failing would result in us being slaughtered by our greatest enemy that we swore to destroy. Yet, if we do not attack, we would run out of energy to fuel the ship very soon, and we would be stranded and be vulnerable anyways. After some discussions, the final decision was to take the chance to prove ourselves worthy, as our hovercraft that was already low on fuel cranks up for one last trip before it needs to be refueled.

I had a nap on the hovercraft, and in my dreams, I finally found the lost memory. It was when I was small, I used to play with a neighbour, a girl named Miki. She used to stare at me, the worried kind, when I went into the pipes to get her hair clip. I recognized another boy too, as the three of us used to play in the narrow stretch of the mechanians’ colony, where human slaves lived. I used to play-fight with Steven, as I recalled.

The dream slowly began to fade, and I awoke to Miki, who’s humming an old song I don’t recognize. I sat up, startled her, and bumped into Steven, who was also tinkering like Ned next to him.

“Just like the old times --- clumsy and reckless when you’re not fighting.” Miki told me, and I replied to her with a nod. She took off her cap, and the hair clips, the one I used to spend hours poking my head to retrieve, glittered in the light of the hovercraft.

Just then, our pilot, Beckendorf announced that we are approaching the fortress we seek. A mechanian squadron was guarding it, and I did a quick count. At least four walkers, twelve soldiers and several drones. Formulating a quick plan given the enemy formations, I tapped my earpiece and told everyone that drop places and arrangements: Kayson and Danson lead the ground squadron, which consists of Steven, Gwen (another girl when I have just learnt her name), and Travis (a dude who likes flirting with girls). I lead the walker team, which consists of Miki, Beckendorf, Ned, and Hadeson (who is another swordfighter). The others, a slightly bulky dude named Anzo, a very slim guy named Jayson, Zack and a fierce looking girl, Annibell. They stayed behind to guard our stuff, and we besieged the fortress, as Ned’s spy drones flew in the open sky, surveying the terrain and providing a map.

Beckendorf pulled the release lever, and we dropped into the battlefield, our walkers whirring to life.

The element of surprise is always an effective method for a head start.


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