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 The Breaking Point

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Novalyse

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Posts : 335
Join date : 2014-01-18

PostSubject: The Breaking Point   Wed Mar 26, 2014 7:50 pm

A man robed in dark armor covered by a tan hooded cloak walked through the vast desert in search of something.  The sands blew up from the hills and flooded the figures vision so that he raised an arm to keep the particles from blocking his line of sight.  At the top of a dun the sand winds died down allowing him to scan the horizon for what he had been searching for. He reached up and pulled the cloth wrapping around his mouth down and breathed a deep breath as he searched the endless sea of sand before him for any signs of life. He remembered the reason why he was out in the heat of day surrounded by this sea and what lies just beyond his field of vision.

Several Months Earliar

“St. John! The general asked to speak to you personally.” A voice rang out as the hiss of the metal door to Colten’s quarters opened.  A dark haired figure entered the small room devoted to the soldier inside.  It was burnished steel colored with a table and a bed thrown across from one another.  The figure ducked his head slightly to enter the low door and walked into the side of the desk where Colten was sitting.

“Still won’t get those implants Thorne?” Colten asked as he looked up from the file of reports he was working on.

“Colten, your father’s waiting. There is no time for your lectures or paperwork,” Thorne said as he stepped back from the desk pointed toward the door, his finger missing the entrance by a small distance.  

“Tell him I’ll be there as soon as I finish this report, I have business to attend to as well.”

“It’s urgent Colten or he wouldn’t have come out here himself.”

“What, he’s here? Sigh, fine I’m on my way so get out, would you?”

Thorne left as the mechanical door shut behind him.  He waited outside propped against the wall until Colten appeared out of the door in military dress uniform.  Thorne led Colten through the streets of one of the cities on the outskirts of settled Novalysian territory to the building where his father paced impatiently back and forth.  Colten stepped through the door into the building and the door shut behind him, leaving Thorne on the outside as guard until he was released by the General’s orders.

“Colten, I have a mission I trust only you to carry out.  I have a family on the run, taking with them their first born tribute, still in womb. Sit down and I’ll brief you on the specifics.”

“You’re kidding.  I have Echo to command and you want to send me on some petty retrieval?”

“Colten, damn it, it isn’t a run of the mill retrieval. The father is ex-military, best damn man I ever fought second to Chase.  He was one of your trainers, Auron Kage.”  Colten just looked in disbelief at his father as he continued.  “He married and continued his duties to Novalyse until he went AWOL shortly after the presumed conception of his first born.  He’s damn good when he doesn’t want to be found.  I need someone who knows how the damn man thinks to locate him.  That’s where you come in.”

“I want no part in this,” Colten said bluntly and turned to leave the building.

“This is a direct order commander. To hell if I’m going to let my own son walk away from me.” Cole shouted with his eyebrows furrowed down.  Colten returned the angered glare to his father, the two looking almost exactly alike when they’re irritated.

“Fine, where am I going?”

___

The memories instantly stop playing through the young commander spotted the ruins of an early abandoned settlement in the distance.  Dust poured out from the streets of the destroyed city like something was stirring up a storm.  Without a second thought he jumped off the steep sand dune and ran with great speed toward the ruins.  As he got closer he could see three Desert Demons engaged with something inside the city.  He wove through what was left of the streets, climbing over rubble as he went, following the sounds of gunfire.  He turned the corner directly in front of one of the Demons who peered down at him before taking a swift with its paw, lashing the man against the remains of one of the buildings.  

Colten pushed himself to his feet quickly as he overheard the cries of a child from the building he had hit.  The cries were soon muffled and followed by a soothing woman’s voice letting the child know it was going to be okay.  Colten didn’t have time to confirm there was anyone inside as he barely had time to move out of the way before the beast’s paw hit the wall where he was. Part of the wall caved in revealing the pair hiding inside to the beast.  Colten swung his rifle off his shoulder and began firing at the beast, backing away from the unstable building where he had heard the others in an attempt to lead the beast away from an easy meal.

“Son of a bitch, come on!  Come get it, I’m over here!” he said as he tried to back up while getting the Demon’s attention.  “Fresh meat, right here you god damn piece of shit!”  The demon turned toward him, ignoring the woman and child desperately trying to stay hidden inside the crumbling building.  Once he had its attention Colten took off further into the ruins, the narrow streets slowly the beast down until he ran into the back of another of the pride. Gun fire rang out and the Demon before him lunged out from the street into what looked like the center of the town.  The open sandy space was surrounded by broken and crumbling buildings; the two other Desert Demons were circling a man who stood in the center of it all, firing a military grade Novalysian assault rifle.

Colten had no time to spare as the Demon turned the corner, forcing him to back into the open battleground.  One of the two Demons crashed to the ground throwing up a cloud of sand which both soldiers used to get away from the Demon’s approaching them.  They kept their eyes on the whereabouts of the growls as they backed away cautiously until their armor his that of the other.  Colten as well as the other looked abruptly back toward each other as the dust settled, the Demons now able to see exactly where they were.  At this point both were thankful that they had someone at their back and began to assault the animals with bullets.  The Demons circled and charged the two men with swinging paws.  Colten dodged the swing by rolling away from the center as the other man was hit and knocked aside, rolling several times before he caught himself with an outstretched arm.  

Colten fired triple round controlled bursts into both of the beasts, distracting them just as a bullet casing lodged itself in his weapon.  He jerked the lever back but the casing would not loosen as the two beasts descended upon him.  He backed away as he tried to fix the jam, the animals closing in much faster than he could move backward, until he threw the rifle aside and drew a long blade from his boot sheath.  One of the Demons circled behind him to cut off the escape route he had no intentions of using as the other thrust its massive paw toward him.  The paw stopped dead in the air, Colten’s blade driven entirely through it.  The animal yelps as he drags the blade through it flesh to retrieve it.  The other beast lowered its head and thrust its bone armor into him.  He was pushed back by the impact before the blade shattered and a piece ricocheted across his face, causing Colten’s body to be thrown across the ground..  The Demons growled and yelped before retreating out of the city as he writhed on the ground, unable to see anything around him.  

The man struggled to his feet and rushed toward Colten who was still winced over covering his eyes and face.  Colten felt a hand reach down and shift his face upward before a brief yet seemingly unending moment when the man realized exactly who it was before him.  He contemplated leaving him behind but he knew with the wounds the boy had sustained there was little chance that he’d survive.  Despite his better judgment he hoisted Colten up by his arm and dragged him along, picking up the discarded assault rifle before going back to the building with the others.

Colten knew from the fading thuds of the beast that they had chosen to retreat but he couldn’t see anything around him as his left eye showed only darkness and through his right a sea of blood.  He could barely make out a human form standing over him as he felt his arm being pulled over the shoulder of another. Blindly he followed the steps of the other person as a familiar voice shouted from beside him.

“I need a damp cloth and my med kit,” the voice echoed, the sounds of a crying child and a rustling satchel rang out in succession afterward.  

“Who are you? Why are you helping me?” Colten asked as he felt his body dropped to the ground and a cool wet cloth pressing against his wound.
“Because son, I raised you…and I’m not leaving any of my own to bleed out and be eaten by scavengers.”

Colten felt his consciousness slipping away as he fell into darkness, the sounds of the man’s sounds slowly fading into nothing.  Kage treated his wound in his sleep, making it easier since Colten was no longer moving around.  Slowly he stitched the wound from the left jaw line passed his nose and into the right of his forehead. He cleaned away the blood and bandaged across the wound to keep sand form infecting it.

Colten awoke to the sounds of a crackling fire, opening his eyes but saw nothing for a long time.  After a while sight returned to his right eye, giving him some means of discerning where the others around him were.  The building was half crumbled away with a fire burning in the center of a roofed room, a young woman, only just in her twenties cuddling a small child as the older man leaned against the back wall of the room.  Colten sat up, alerting Kage that he was awake, and looked about the deserted rubble.  Auron stepped into the room and looked down at the young man he had raised in the military.

“Colten St. John, it has been years since I’ve seen the likes of you.  You’re looking more and more like your father.” He said as he stood over the injured young commander.

“Don’t tell me that,” Colten muttered as he tried to stand up.

“Hold up son, you can’t hardly see can you?”

“I’m fine, it’s just” Colten was interrupted by the sound of air moving at his left side, instinctively moving opposite the sound.

“Thought so, you’ve severed your optical on the left.”

“What the hell was that?”

“I was testing our vision, seems your left has gone dark.  Am I wrong?”

Colten stood silent for a moment knowing he couldn’t deny it.

“Come on, you can stay here the night.  It’s safer to travel in daylight, and until you can get that repaired you wouldn’t last a second on your own.”

Colten reluctantly agreed. He knew Kage was right in that he’d die in a heartbeat without his vision functioning properly.  Beckoned by the ex-military officer, he entered the lit room where the woman he had protected rocked the child back and forth as it slowly fell asleep. Kage immediately took notice of Colten’s interest in the child.

“Her name is Serana, born three days ago,” Kage said as he watched Colten.
Colten shifted to the left to allow his remaining eye to see passed the bandages covered part of his sight. The mother looked up at him nervously, knowing why another soldier would be out this far from settled territory.  Colten saw through the dirt and tiredness of a life on the run, recognizing a woman he hadn’t seen in four years.

Four Years Earlier

“You’re being deployed?” a young girl stood looking down in the blue glow lit by the city lights of Skyre.  The shadows of the oncoming nightfall veiled her expression from soldier across from her.  She felt a hand lay gently on her shoulder as if to reassure her as she looked into his eyes.

His silence gave answer to the fears she had tried so desperately to hide.  Tears began to well up in her eyes as the boy removed his hand at the sense of something wrong.  

“I thought you would be happy, this is what I’ve been waiting for my entire life.  What I’ve trained so many years to do,” he said to her, not understanding why she was upset.

“Colten, you don’t understand it has nothing to do with your training.”

“Then what is it?”

“They told me that too before they left but they didn’t!  Neither will you!” she said as he looked up into his eyes, her tears glistening in the artificial light of the buildings around them.

“I…” he stammered, realizing what he should have known.  She lost her father and oldest sibling on their last deployment.  He had wanted to tell her he finally got the break he was looking for when Echo was being deployed to the outskirts defense that he completely forgot how much she feared the wilderness he longed so much to see.  “I’m sorry.”  

The two said nothing more two each other as they parted ways, her with her head hung low as he looked back over his shoulder at the friend he had so dearly cherished. His eyes closed as he turned away from her without a goodbye spoken between them.

___

He had almost forgotten that day, four years ago, when he told her he would be leaving.  He dwelled on it for some time after his deployment until it almost got him killed.  After that he blocked it out, didn’t let himself look back on his past mistakes or the friend he had lost that day.  

“Colten…” she said as she looked into his now nearly sightless eyes. “…thank you.”

Only the snapping of the flames overcame the still air as Colten stood silent in the fiery illumination that cast a similar array of shadows on the woman before him. The thoughts he had suppressed since that day flooded back into his mind, downing out everything around him so that he did not hear her voice.  The sound of the child crying jolted his consciousness and he looked forward at the woman trying to nestle the child back to sleep.

“She’s a beautiful girl,” he said as he transitioned his focal point to the small baby in her arms.  “I can understand why you would want to protect her.”

Kage frowned at the mention of her protection, as it confirmed his underlying suspicions about why the soldier had been this far out from the border territories.  

“Your father sent you.  He is intelligent; I don’t think my other apprentices could have found us.” Kage said calmly.

“Please, don’t tell them where we are.” The woman said in a hushed tone not to wake the child again.  Kage gave her a sharp look, knowing what she asked of him would violate his duty to his colony.

"I owe you my life, keeping your location is the least I can do to repay you." Colten said without concern for his duty, his honor was more important than recovering one tribute. Kage didn't respond as he thought to himself the cost his apprentice would pay for misleading the General. Finally after a long moment he spoke.

"It's getting late, you should rest before dawn. That injury won't serve you well getting back to Skyre."

"I don't intend to go back to Skyre. I have duties to attend to on the borders." Colten replied.

"Nonetheless, you need to rest."

Colten nodded before returning to the other room in the ruined house. He sat against the crumbling wall and ran his fingers over his buzzed scalp thinking about how he was going to handle his father. The night was long for him as the chaos of his responsibility and honor roared throughout his mind. Due to pure exhaustion he drifted to sleep sometime after the conversation. Colten jolted from the wall at the sound of shouting,  the drastic change in liht hitting his hazy vision causing him to stammer forward.

"Get down on the ground!"

"No, my baby! Give me back my child!"

The shouts alluded to the scene outside the building as Colten desperately made his way through he wreckage, taking hold of his pistol as he stepped into the unrelenting light of the sun. His vision was completely flushed with white glare causing him to fall to his knees.  He pushed himself off the ground as his vision cleared, revealing a Vanguard of soldiers holding the child, one man restraining the shouting woman who then noticed his exit.

"You lied, you said you wouldn't tell them! Traitor, I hate you! Why...why" she shouted before letting her body drop to the ground as tears flooded down her cheek, moistening the sand as they reached the ground. Farther from the building Kage stood with his hands bond behind his back as blood dripped from his armor.  He stood with his eyes closed as Colten realized who stood before his mentor, his own father charged him.

“You are charged with desertion of your post and treason. I hereby sentence Auron Kage, three star general of the Novalysian military to death.  As a traitor, I will not grant you any last words.” Cole St. John said as he side stepped the bound man, crushing the back of Kage’s knees with his heel causing the man to fall to his knees.  Kage’s eyes remained shut as he was forced to kneel down as Cole St. John drew his pistol from its holster, raising it to the man’s temple.  Colten had no time to reach them before his father pulled the trigger and his mentor’s body slumped to the ground. Cole looked away from his dead general to the woman sobbing on the ground and fired another shot without sentencing her.  He looked to his son on the ground and scowled.  “Get off your knees!”

Colten struggled to his feet and aimed his pistol at his father, although his aim was terribly affected by his injury.  Cole half laughed as one of the Vanguard seized his son, disarming him and holding his arms behind his back. He approached his son and glared.

“I haven’t let anyone who’s pointed their weapon at me get away with it.  You are no different, whether or not you are my son.” He said as he slammed his fist into Colten’s abdomen, causing his son to wince as the Vanguard soldier released him to the ground.  Colten coughed up blood from the impact of his father’s reprimand. “Get up, a St. John isn’t lowly enough to stay on his knees.”
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