Ch9: Cursing in the Tongue

Chapter Nine: Cursing in the Tongue 
A caw broke out over the dark forest canopy as a black colored bird fluttered among the jagged trees. This side of the island was unlike the other. While the other side had been full of color bursting from every crevice and rock, this side was nothing more than bland grey bark and faded leaves which hung from the trees and layered the gently sloping ground.
It was dark within the forest which was good since it provided enough shade to stay cloaked, and even if they couldn’t cloak, the canopy would prevent any aircraft from spotting them. Arius kept this in mind, but still questioned the situation with skepticism. They were on a small island with hostiles soon to be combing the land for them, and yet they expected to find their contact there. Something just didn’t seem right about it.
A stone wall was ahead of them, and the mercenaries moved through the open gate which looked old and unused. The Gray Tower was just ahead of them, and seemed to be surrounded by maze like walls which kept them away from the entrance. Soon they made their way through however, and Arius wondered at the purpose of the tower. It didn’t appear to be a lighthouse of any kind, but it was tall enough to be.
Thorim led the way, taking pause at the entrance. He motioned for Jayvolni to take the door which he did. The door opened with a snarl as the bottom of it scrapped across the stone floor. The mercenaries rushed in to clear the first room which consisted of half of the bottom floor. The next room was the other half, and a rounded staircase circled up to the second floor. The place was old and clearly abandoned. Could their contact really be there, Arius wondered.
Dueson led the way up the wooden stairs which creaked under their weight. The higher they climbed the more skeptical Arius became. Their contact was like them and would surely be aware of their presence now, but no one showed.
The door at the top was open, and Dueson headed in first followed by the rest. A round table was at the center of the room and a single chair beside it. Its back was toward the door, and a figure sat upon it. They slowed when they saw it, and Dueson carefully moved around it to get a better look. Arius took to the other side and soon they were all before it.
“We have a problem, sir,” Dueson said, as Thorim entered the room.
Arius eyed the corpse which was slumped forward. A dagger was in its gut, and florescent blue veins could be seen traveling up the corpse’s neck and face where they accumulated around the eyes. A deep blue substance lingered within the figures eyes, and Arius recognized it for what it was.
“Someone got to our contact before we did,” Dueson said.
Thorim moved in for a better look, pulling the head back to see the eyes. He cursed in his own language when he saw it.
“It’s one of ours,” he said, grabbing the dagger.
Pulling it out, he examined the blue edge of the dagger. It was definitely theirs as the blue substance coating the knife was known as Suedoth. It was a poison they coated their knives with. Once the Suedoth reacted with the blade a simple cut would infect the blood stream where it would make its way toward the brain.
“How?” Grem asked, casting a glance across all of them.
“Who’s missing a dagger?” Thorim asked with regret.
Everyone began to search their bags and belts to show themselves innocent. Arius started for his bag where he had put his, but his mouth turned sour as soon as he remembered earlier that day. His dagger had been missing from his bag, except for the blue Suedoth stone which was used to line the knife. His stomach grew heavy as he watched everyone else present their daggers. Soon their eyes were upon him, empty handed.
“Arius, where is your dagger?” asked Thorim.
“I don’t know, sir,” he stuttered. “I don’t have it.”    

Thanks for reading chapter nine, and be sure to stop by next Saturday for chapter ten. I'm not sure how many chapters this story will have though I am sure it is near the halfway mark. 
Meanwhile, be sure to check out my book, Ground of Oam, here.
Also, check it out in paperback here.

Ch8: Leather Clad Soldiers

Chapter Eight: Leather Clad Soldiers

Everyone moved in as Thorim undid the mask from the figures head. Four buckles traversed down the front side of the mask which he had to undo individually before pulling away the leather flap. A lifeless face starred at them, but it lacked the familiarity of the planets traditional inhabitants. Or at least it failed to match the description of what they had been lead to believe the inhabitants looked like.
The figures face carried a resemblance to the planet’s inhabitants, but it looked mutilated and deformed. It wasn’t necessarily due to deformity at birth, but rather due to battle. This creature carried battle scars which would have left most beings Arius knew of incapable of combat. An incorrectly healed jaw, butchered nose, and plenty of scars added detail to the face.
“He’s been through a lot,” Brockumus commented.
“Is it a native?” asked Ruekrow. “Or is it the biological entity that our intel mentioned?”
“I’m going to take a guess,” replied Thorim. “It’s probably not the original inhabitants of this world. Rather, it’s the thing responsible for throwing this world into a dystopian age.”
“What do you think they are?” asked Dueson. “Where did they come from?”
“All I know is what our intel gave us,” Thorim replied. “We should find our contact. He will be able to give us more answers.”
“We’ll have to move fast,” Jayvolni said. “This place will be brimming with these things as soon as they discover them dead.”
“Then we head for Gray Tower now,” Thorim said. “Take their weapons and any ammunition you can carry.”
The group broke off and began to strip the bodies. Arius grabbed several more clips for his newly obtained rifle and placed them into his bag. Moving back to one of the bodies down the hall he grabbed a handgun from its side as well as its leg holster. He had lost all his supplies except for his bag during the crash, so he found a certain kind of relief once he was armed again.
They left through the front door and past the cruiser with only a moment’s glance. Cruiser would provide fast transportation, but it would also be easier to spot. They would continue on foot as they had been; keeping to the shadows where they could easily hide.
By noon they were following the forest line across the hills which swell up from the earth east of the building. The map they had seen earlier depicted Gray Tower toward the southeastern corner of the island which couldn't be more than a couple miles away. The island was small; the building being at its highest point had revealed the entirety of it. As soon as these unknown entities discovered their dead team, there would be hardly a place to hide. Arius realized the seriousness of the situation, and knew they would have to find a way off of the island soon.
“Sir,” Grem called, from ahead. He pointed to the building which lay far behind them.
They looked to the west where the sun now bore straight upon the house. Shadows would be short at this time of day. A distant hum began to roar across the distant hill where the building sat as a large aircraft settled past the house. Arius could see the grass under it dispersing outward as the gust from the double rotor machine neared the ground. It looked heavily armored, a rotor disk was to either side of it, and a door slid open upon its side. A dozen leather clad soldiers hit the ground and hurried to the building. It would only be a matter of time before the island was overrun by them.
Across the next hill the group found themselves in a shallow ravine. The building could no longer be seen, but over the next ridge the tip of a Gray Tower emerged from the distant trees.
“There it is,” someone announced.
“Make haste,” Thorim returned.
They started over the ridge before descending back into the trees, and only Arius halted at its edge. He peered toward the Gray Tower which was now visible. Could their contact really be there?
“I have a bad feeling about this,” Dueson said, coming up from behind him.
Arius glanced toward him before returning, “As do I.” 

Thanks for reading this weeks chapter, and be sure to stop by next Saturday for Chapter Nine. Also, check my book, Ground of Oam.

Buy Ground of Oam on Kindle here, 
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Short Story Announcement

My weekly chapters for the short story will now be appearing on Saturdays, so tomorrow's chapter will be this Saturday instead. This is due to some changes in my marketing strategy so hopefully Saturday will be a better day for everyone.
Thanks, and have a great day!

Oam's Cry trailer

It's the weekend now, which means more writing for me! (that's a good thing too). Currently I am working on my third installment to my series within the larger Oam's Cry series while I anticipate my brothers future installment of his sub-series. Oam's Cry is developing well, and now we have a book trailer to go with it.


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Ch7: Ghosted

Copyright © 2013 by P.A. Lackey
All rights reserved.
No part of this story may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. 

Chapter Seven: Ghosted 
Arius took a step back. A shelf full of canned goods was to his right, and blocked his view of the staircase. A stone wall was to his left, and the room was no more than twelve square yards. The unknown being made its way down the stairs, and stepped into view. The small basement window cast light upon the being’s face revealing a trail of dust before it. A leather mask covered the face, two holes were cut into it where the eyes were, and leather layered body armor clad the being’s form.
A snarl came from within the mask which had four buckles running down its front side. It turned toward Arius’ position; a fully automated firearm was clutched within its hands, and wavered around his position.
The being clicked on a light mounted upon the rifle to pierce the darkness which loomed at the back of the room. Arius faltered, and the light caught upon his face exposing him to the being. His shadow was cast against the back wall which he used to teleport himself away from the weapon’s fire which left a deafening ring in the room.
Arius hit the back wall and stepped to the side where the shelf covered him. The hostile turned to cut him off on the other side, but he swept around the shelf to catch the being from the back side. The muzzle of Arius’ double barreled gun aimed low, and blew through the hostile’s back. The being slammed into the wall where it fell lifeless to the floor, and Arius dropped his now empty gun for the automated rifle.
He felt something else coming down the steps behind him, and spun around to find another leather clad warrior storming down. Squeezing the trigger, Arius loaded several rounds into the figures chest. The armor held strong, but the shock would do enough damage to keep it down. The figure slid down the steps with several thuds before rolling off the side and hitting the floor. Already, Arius was cloaked within the shadows, and he hurried up the stairs to enter the hall.
“Engage!” Thorim had ordered through stealth speak.
Another leather warrior was coming down the hall toward Arius, but was brought to a halt as an invisible force plunged a dagger into its gut under the armor. The light through the window revealed it to be Dueson as he removed the knife and quickly took a kill strike at the being’s neck.
Gunfire sounded elsewhere in the building though it was probably due to panic as the leather warriors were being taken out by ghosts. Arius followed Dueson down the hall before they made it back to the main lobby where a warrior already lay dead. Something moved at the top of the stairs as a hostile backed away from the upper hall. It waved its rifle back and forth as if to guard itself from the invisible assailants, but Jayvolni moved past its defense, plunging a dagger into its gut. Within seconds the figure was disarmed and Jayvolni continued to assail it with his dagger before tipping it over the rail where it fell to the bottom floor behind the counter.
The building fell silent as only the shadowed ghosts stirred. Arius glanced out the front window where he found a cruiser parked outside. It was the only one around the premise as far as he could tell so that was all they had to deal with for now. The others came into the lobby where they exchanged curious glances.
“What happened?” asked Thorim, looking across all his men.
“One of them caught me with its light, sir,” Arius said. “I had no choice but to take him out.”
“Very well,” Thorim replied with a nod. “But now they’re going to know we’re here. Let’s figure out what we’re dealing with.”
“Do you think they were looking for us?” Grem asked, as Thorim turned the leather clad body before him onto its back.
“Probably,” Thorim replied. “I’m not sure what else would bring them to this island unless they picked up our ship on sensors.”
The group stared down at the body. The mask continued to cover its face and they did not know what lay behind it.
“Let’s take a look shall we,” Thorim said, before undoing the mask.
Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to check out my book, Ground of Oam.
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Ch6: Loyalty

Copyright © 2013 by P.A. Lackey
All rights reserved.
No part of this story may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. 

Chapter Six: Loyalty

The white structure loomed over them. Its glass windows looked undisturbed, but life seemed absent from that place. Two white columns supported the roof overhead, and the group made their way to the oak colored door. The building was white in frame, but a log cabin style defined the rest of it.
Dueson opened the door which gave no hindrance. Inside was dark, and dust layered the furniture in the lobby. It looked like a fancy hotel, as a service desk sat between two large staircases ascending to the next floor. A hall went to either side at the top and the bottom, and a glass chandelier hung over the lobby.
“Certainly hasn’t been anyone here for years,” Grem said.
“Over here,” Jayvolni said, gesturing them past the front desk.
A large map of the island was painted upon the wall perhaps showing tourist attractions to the residents. The hotel was located near the center of the island, though there was much ground between it and the southern shore. However, Jayvolni directed their eyes to the eastern shore where a label read, Gray Tower.
“So Gray Tower is a place, not a description,” Dueson said.
“At least we’re on the right island,” Thorim said. “Check this place out for anything else useful.”
The group spread out to explore the halls and rooms. Arius took to the left and entered the first room. The floors in the hall were wood, but the rooms had carpet. Arius spotted a bathroom to his left before he surveyed the room ahead of him. Two beds were made but neglected, and a desk with a screen upon it sat opposite them.
Arius spotted something on the other side of the bed, and made his way over to find a corpse lifeless against the wall. It caused him pause for but a moment as this was the first sight of an inhabitant, though dead. They shared many similarities to his own kind though they were indistinguishable now because of the surgery they had gone through before setting out upon the mission.
The corpse was that of a man, and the years had consumed the body so there was actually very little identifiable about it. Within the cold grasp of its hands was a double barreled gun. Arius pried it away carefully before checking the firearm. Finding the switch he broke the front stock forward where a single round was found inside. The stock clicked back together and Arius hoped that it worked.
“Already found yourself a gun,” Brockumus said, from the doorway. “What happened?”
“Looks like he was shot,” Arius replied, eyeing the wounds in the chest. “I’m not sure what happened here.”
“Hey,” Brockumus said, to pull his attention back toward him. “Keep on your guard. You can’t be too careful now.”
“I know,” replied Arius, eyeing the gun.
He understood what Brockumus was talking about. He didn’t know who to trust, and suspected foul play from the beginning. Rumors had been started about him ever since the beginning of the mission; rumors that he lacked loyalty to the nation they claimed to serve. The others didn’t just think he was inexperienced, but they questioned his allegiance. Brockumus had seen through the lies though, and understood Arius better than the others. Arius only wondered who was responsible for the rumors, and if his future father-in-law had anything to do with it.
Brockumus left down the hall and Arius exited the room. Soon he made his way down to an old cellar where he found a stash of canned food. Light poured in from the small window on the wall leaving the rest of the room in darkness. Arius moved to a nearby pantry where he surveyed the supplies. He found nothing of use there.
“We have company,” someone’s voice trembled through the air.
Arius could feel its vibrations from the upper floor. Stealth speak they called it. A technique they learned in the academy so that they could speak to each other while in close proximity while not alerting potential hostiles. Only their extra senses could pick up the words spoken.
“Take cover,” Thorim ordered, from somewhere else in the house.
Arius felt something storm through the front door; it felt like multiple men quickly making their way through the building. A ruckus broke out upon the upper floors and he could feel everything going on within the building. Whoever it was, he was clearly searching the premises for something.
“Don’t attack unless attacked,” Thorim ordered.
By now they were all cloaked within the shadows of the house. The unknown persons would be unable to see them, and would pass on once they thought the place was clear. Arius could only wait within the cellar for the commotion to end.
The door flew open from atop the stairs, and he waited to hear the long creak as someone stepped onto the first step. Arius’ hairs stood on end as he felt it move down the stair case. He had no place to run, and only the darkness to conceal him. 
Thanks for checking in this week, and be sure to leave a comment. Also check back next week for chapter seven, or check out my book, Ground of Oam.
Buy on Kindle here.