Chapter 32

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RETRIBUTION

“Well isn’t this just fucked full of all kinds of up,” General Godfrey said. She stood with her hands on her hips as medics hoisted Brandt’s body onto a stretcher.

She turned around when she heard the rattle of somebody rummaging through the troop carrier behind her. She poked her head through the hole blasted in the door to see Shoahn’Fal groping through the innards of the lockbox, pawing underneath the seats welded against the wall and flipping over cargo boxes. As he progressed, he cooed and growled, his antennae quivering above his head.

“Are you injured, Shoahn’Fal?” she asked.

He stopped just as he was picking up another crate and craned his head around to look at her. As his eyes met hers, she felt a tingle flush through her. He dropped the crate and turned all the way around to glare at her. He spoke, rumbling like a lion pacing inside a cage with a slab of raw meat lying on the ground just beyond its reach. “You,” he said, extending a clawed finger as if he were going to stab her in the chest. “You and your words.” He took a step closer.

Godfrey cocked her brow. “Excuse me?”

He jutted his finger straight out and  pivoted his wrist. “You incompetent strutting fool of a human,” he growled.

“Let me bring a medic to tend to you,” she said, starting to back up. His antennae fluttered and her left hand started to tremble.

“She took them!” he shouted.

Godfrey glanced at the lockbox and her eyes grew wide as she realized it was empty.

He took another step towards her and she felt her knees start to buckle as a drop of slime appeared in the corner of his mouth. “You said they would never find me,” he hissed, pacing ever closer to her. “You said they wouldn’t know we were coming.” His antennae slithered to their full extension and started jerking back and forth. Godfrey stumbled back, tripped out of the door and fell on her back. He stepped over the metal edges of the hole. “You said so much and you understand so little.”

His antennae jittered in a frenzy and the world around her collapsed into a sea of black. The only thing she could see against its darkness was his face as he growled at her like a hungry beast ready to lunge at her throat and rip it out with his claws. She couldn’t feel her body and her hammering heart was something she felt in the distance, crying out in silence from a world where nobody could hear. Something blazed in his eyes and an idea formed in her mind. It seemed like her own thought, but touched her awareness from a place beyond. Terror rippled through her mind as she saw the vision of its essence form, commanding itself to be heard and obeyed, even if never understood.

This was not her mission. This was not her calling. This was a thirst for something she had never felt before. She recognized it as something that did not belong to her and yet she did not understand that it belonged to him. It just was. As revolting as it became, she could not resist it. Overwhelmed by the insanity of what she knew she had to do, all she could do was listen as she heard her own voice say,  “Yes.”

The world snapped back into place and she felt a whisper of wind touch her face. She raised herself up on her elbows and shook her head, realizing that she was gasping for air. She turned her head to see soldiers staring at her with eyes wide like prey that understood enough to be frightened but didn’t know that they should run. After a few more gulps of air, she said to them, “It’s alright. He’s just a little -” She grunted as she struggled to stand up. ” – upset.”

She stared at Shoahn’Fal, unable to look away. The shadow of the vision fluttered through her mind and slipped away, now replaced by the clarity of an idea that she truly believed was her own. She stood up, tugged at her field utility blouse and tapped her headset.

“Tomahawk Six, Gaurd Six Actual, over.” The hiss of static flooded her mind and then she heard a beep followed by the voice of the First Brigade commander.

“Guard Six Actual, this is Tomahawk Six Actual, go ahead.”

Still staring at Shoahn’Fal, she took a deep breath and nodded. “Tomahawk Six. Flatten Arnhem.” Static flowed through her mind, smothering her consciousness as her chest ached with each beat of her heart.

“Guard Six, authenticate Papa Bear.”

“Tomahawk Six, response is Goldilocks.” More static. Her chest shuddered as she forced herself to calm her breathing.

“Guard Six, authentication confirmed. Please repeat last order.”

Godfrey stepped closer to Shoahn’Fal, staring into his eyes as his antennae continued to sway over his head. She wrapped her fingers around the stiff wire that held her microphone and gritted her teeth.

“Tomahawk Six. You heard me. Flatten. Fucking. Arnhem.”

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©2016 Michael J Lawrence