It threw in the towel. Called it quits. My inspiration and motivation for Will From Ashes had stopped even phoning it in. With my mind suddenly free to explore new stories, this is what filled the void. Enjoy.
The blue gas dissipated out of her pod into the room. Flyrum’s eyes slowly adjusted to the flickering light in the room. Her fingers and toes flexed. The sleep should have preserved all muscle tone but she knew everything would be stiff. Sleep for eight hours or three hundred years, all muscles need a little wake up. Sitting up proved harder than she hoped.
Hissing from the gas connecting to electricity tuned all of her senses. She ducked as the blade swung over her head. In a not-as-swift-or-as-graceful-as-before leap she landed on the shoulders of her attacker. The beard told her the last piece of information she needed before gripping the head and twisting. The body collapsed beneath her.
The gas lingered in the air. Flyrum felt tired and sluggish. Thank goodness for reflexes, she thought. She listened intently knowing that if another dwarf hid somewhere in the room, she could not fight him. Slowly she reached down and picked up whatever weapon the dwarf had been holding. The gas must still be pretty thick because it looked fuzzy. She reached up to wipe her eyes only to drag them across the plastic goggles they put on the sleepers.
Panic helped her rip them off. The room came sharply into focus which hurt her eyes. Of the twelve pods in the room, only two remained closed. The orange blood dripping from the sides and splattered on the lids of the others told her all she needed to know: most of her squad had died. No other dwarves were immediately visible. She looked at the weapon. A metal handle that extended about two feet and then two metal rods attached near the top about six inches apart. One bent up and the other bent down as they extended along the same line away from the handle. It almost looked like the letter fleg. On the handle she found a slightly raised bump. Flyrum held the handle away from her and pushed on the bump. A solid electrical arc about two inches wide but thin like a blade appeared between the two metal rods. An axe. Still using axes this far in the future.
Flyrum realized she didn’t know how far in the future she was. Obviously the axe employed some new technology but a dwarf had made it deep into the heart of Lyoran city. He knew about the sleeping chambers. She needed to get to the military command. She tested her legs, standing shakily. The button to activate the blade had been placed for the larger dwarf hands. She tested the two-handed hold and found that she could easily depress the button that way.
Keeping low, she searched the room quickly. She closed the pods of the dead without looking in. There had been eight soldiers, two growers, two scientists in her squad. She’d find out who still lived by opening the last two pods. On this level alone, twenty-five rooms held squads. This dwarf might not be alone on the floor. She needed all the help she could get.
Before opening the last two pods, Flyrum stretched and did thirty push-ups. Just enough to warm up and to feel the pain from her defensive action against the dwarf. She shook out her shoulder-length sky-blue hair. Taking a deep breath, she coded in the release sequence on the first pod. The dwarf would have needed that sequence or she wouldn’t have been awake when he killed her. How did he get it? Just like a dwarf though, like to see their prey’s fear before killing it.
The pod popped open with a soft sigh. The lid automatically extended straight up as the blue sleeping gas spread outward. She became distracted by the gas. It slowly grew outward but didn’t dance in any particular direction. Two vents in the ceiling should have sucked it up and away. Ventilation being down bode ill. Had Lyoran fallen to the dwarves? That would make getting out much trickier. She’d need more help than these two pods. They’d need to check all of the rooms.
“Chief? Why is everything so fuzzy?” Captain Flimb asked.
“Take off the goggles, Captain. Glad you were one of the ones who survived.” Flyrum took his hand to help him out of the pod.
Flimb gasped. “Survived?” He whipped off his goggles, squinted a bit and surveyed the room. “How many are left?”
She patted the pod next to his. “Yours, mine and this one in here. I don’t know about the rest of the floor.”
“Who,” Flimb started but stopped as his eyes caught the bearded face staring at him from the aisle between the two rows of pods. “Dwarf? In here? But how?”
Flyrum shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know, Flimb. But he had the sequence code and this,” she said as she hoisted the weapon and activated the blade.
Flimb whistled. “That is some sweet tech. So this is Lyoran three hundred years in the future?” Flimb stretched and did several push-ups.
“I don’t know. We could be fifty years, or one thousand. The ventilation system isn’t on. I can’t tell you what is on the other side of that door.”
Captain Flimb let worry flash across his face. His dark eyebrows always bunched together when he felt out of control. “But the plan? Three hundred years to rebuild the elf population. Then those of us who had surface warfare experience would be woken up and we’d lead the armies to retake the surface from the dwarves driving them back into the holes they crawled out of. That was the plan! That is what I signed up for!”
Flyrum slapped him hard. “Keep it down, Captain. Keep it together. Hang the plan. Apparently it has changed and we need to change with it.”
With a slight strangle in his voice as he tried to control his panic, Flimb replied, “Yes, Chief.”
“Ok then. You go search the dwarf for any other weapons. A knife, a grenade. I’m not especially keen on walking out that door with only this axe thing. I’ll wake up our other squad-mate and we’ll see who get to tackle this with.” Flyrum moved to the console on the last pod.
“Don’t you know who is in there? I thought you said. . . “
“I couldn’t bear to look. He tried to take my head off. I presume that is at least what he did to the others. I can’t fix it. I can’t heal them. And right now we don’t have time to grieve.” Flyrum choked back her own sorrow and tears. If this wasn’t Ferst, no future might be worth living.