Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Games

To the casual observer, the head flying through the air would have been a gruesome sight. Far beyond recognition and yet the mouth and eyes could still be made out. Layers of various leathers had been patched in to keep it intact. One side had a patch of wolf skin, another a swath of sandworm skin, while still another section was covered in scorpion skin. The neck opening had been covered in and closed with some reptile skin. From a distance it actually looked like a ball.

To the CHOTA children it was a ball and it was their favorite. They were playing a mix of many games from a time past, most of the rules lost with time. They didn't care, it relieved the stress of survival. It kept them together while their parents fought and struggled to keep their own clan as one. Their mutations were not allowed to be used in the game, allowing them all to play on an even playfield.

Gristlejaw gave the head a mighty kick into the air, hoping it would reach the pile of bones. It never did. The impact to the head almost split it apart, knocking some of the coverings loose and sending it careening off at an angle. Following almost immediately was the all too familiar echo of the gunshot.

All too familiar because this had been happening more frequently lately. They always thought it was the Enforcer patrols getting bolder and messing with the different CHOTA clans of the area. The children scattered as they had been trained, mutations kicking in to quicken and conceal. Even though they appeared to head in opposite directions, the six of them ended up at the heap; a large pile of cars, steel, and various other pieces of old tech. The old gray van was their usual meeting spot. It had decent protection, sat in the middle of the heap, and had been stocked by the kids with some crude weapons, food, and dirty water.

While the children anxiously peered through cracks and holes in the van, the rest of the clan was already searching for the source of the shot. Greenfoot emerged from behind an old brick wall with 2 crudely sharpened blades in each hand. Bone-arm had an old sharpened fence post. Clawfoot had his usual spiked bat. They all faced outwards searching, eyes piercing the distance, muscles tensed from mutations kicking in.

After many minutes, Gristlejaw grabbed a stashed piece of venison to gnaw on, waiting for another shot. The only sound was his exposed jaw working the rough piece of meat. Another shot never came. It never did.

###

Atop the hill, resting against an old light pole, the figure grinned. He tucked the scoped rifle back into its cloth carrier, both disappearing beneath the long weathered trenchcoat. The CHOTA wouldn't see him, they couldn't see him. Not only was he too far away but too well hidden. When the clan finally started returning to normalcy and the shadows lengthened, he left his spot and crept to the back side of the hill, nimbly descending the slope till he reached his horse. In one swift movement he was on its back, easing the horse into a slow casual trot across the darkening plain.

###

Among the Enforcers, order was everything. It kept them alive, focused, and aware that order was the only thing that would save the world. So, in typical daily fashion, the small squad mindlessly went through the motions of their training. Most everyone in the squad wished they were elsewhere, maybe smashing some CHOTA heads or shooting live targets. None wanted to be going through the same drills they went through every day. But in today's world, Pit Venger knew that keeping order in this small squad was all that stood between them and their enemies. And so one of many squads, this one known as Fistfull, paraded across the field in perfect harmony.

The rising sun glinted off of the lightly buffed armor plates. Rifles oiled and cleaned moved in unison, carried batle-ready across their chests. The only thing they weren't required to wear during these exercises were their masks. The stiffling heat even at this time of the morning made it too hard on the troops and so Pit allowed a small concession in an otherwise grueling task. After a few hours of marching, mounting and several offensive and defensive drills, training was almost complete.

The squad leader, Drek, dutifully carried the flag to the front of the squad and rammed the pointed end into a well-worn place in the ground. The wind caught the cloth and unfurled the fist for the day to behold. At that moment the carefully crafted steel fist which covered the top of the flag pole shattered into a hundred pieces. Several pieces found the side of Drek's face, sending him reeling to the side. When the shot's sound finally caught up with the bullet, the well trained troops hit the ground, guns ready and searching. Not finding anything inside the walls of their compound, scopes began rising and searching the hills outside.

It seemed an eternity they searched and waited for another shot. Nothing came and nothing was found. Patrols were immediately dispatched into the hills. Hours later they returned with the same nothing they had started with.

###

The figure actually chuckled on this one. The Enforcers were even more fun because they required so much order in their lives. He made sure their order was disrupted just enough to at least entertain himself. But at the same time, he also enjoyed playing with the Enforcers because he had to be very careful with them. They possessed powerful scopes capable of seeing him if he wasn't careful and well-trained snipers probably able to hit him if spotted. Not as good as himself, of course, but capable.

Before the nanites that he injected to help him stay concealed had worn off, he had slithered out of the tall grass and made his way back to his horse. He would be long gone before the patrols, if the patrols, found any sign of him. He regretted someone getting hurt this time when the finial had shattered. His intention was never about hurting and he would have to work harder next time at choosing his targets.

1 comment:

  1. Fiction from game I'm currently playing, Fallen Earth.

    ReplyDelete