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by on May 14, 2011

This story was written for Prompt Number Nineteen of the Chrysalis Experiment. Enjoy!

They used to say you never hear the shot that kills you. With the LORI, that’s literally true. You could vanish from the world in a spray of white plasma and there’d be absolutely no warning. You might, if you were standing two feet next to it, hear the soft, almost friendly-like wirp as it fired. But you wouldn’t hear anything else, not until that infrared beam slams into its target and transfigures it into flame and thunder. The range on that thing is unbelievable, way better than the projectile things we used to carry back in the day. Still and all, I kinda miss the old guns. I heard stories about how people named their rifles, etched little notches on ’em for every enemy they killed, filled ’em with personality. The Laser Ops Rifle-Infrared doesn’t have any of that. Every one’s exactly the same; sleek grey barrel, firing pad, battery pack. You can’t etch anything into it. You can’t even aim it properly, since you can’t see the beam it fires. You just point it in the general direction of the bad guys and blam. No more bad guys.

I’m sitting here in a smashed-up church underneath a shot-out window that might’ve been stained glass and might’ve been pretty, and the little marble angel lying next to me has a distinctly ironic expression on its chipped face. If it could talk, it’d probably ask who’s out there waitin’ to vanish me from the world if there’s no more bad guys. Thing is, Command didn’t figure on the bad guys getting the LORI too. Oops.

BLAM. Discordant bongs and booms from outside. I think they just hit the bell tower. Boy, backup would be a super-nice thing to have right now. Unfortunately the bad guys didn’t just get the LORI, they worked out a way to shield themselves against the infrared beams. I’d explain how and why, but I flunked weapons-engineering at the Academy, and besides, it’s not terribly important. Bottom line; their scientists worked it out. Ours didn’t. We didn’t think they’d get the LORI so fast, so why bother protecting ourselves against our own super-weapon? Oops, again.

BLAM. More metallic discord. Shards fly lazily in through the blasted windows and rain down around me. Yep, that’s the church bell. What’s left of it. Niels, now, he would’ve had a field day working out the precise application of ignited plasma needed to smash up an iron bell. Maybe that’s his heaven, working out equations and losing himself in books for all eternity. That’d be a real boring eternity for me, but I’d take it any day over this. Any second they’re going to smash through this last spit of wall, and the angel and me both will disappear in fire.

“Didn’t really wanna go out that way, you know?” I comment. “I imagine you don’t want to end up as pulverised dust either, Marcy.” Yes, I named the angel Marcy. Yes, it’s probably silly, and there’s no real point to it, and my old squad-mates would point and laugh. But hey; I’m about to get laser-blasted; what do I care?

Then things get really wacky as Marcy pushes herself up on her marble elbow, flicks a feather out of her eye, and says in an accent straight out of My Fair Lady, “No, I’d really rather not.”

“Great. I’ve gone mad. Next I’ll start seeing purple unicorns.”

“I know a purple unicorn,” Marcy says. “Fred. He’s one of my dearest acquaintances.”

“Of course he is.”

“You don’t particularly believe in me, do you?”

“Ah…no. And before you start the whole Marley’s Ghost bit, I don’t attribute you to an underdone potato or whatever, and I’m not the least bit curious about what my life could’ve been like, or how the world would be different if I’ve never been born. I’ve read about this sort of thing, see. Now, you’re a nice hallucination as hallucinations go, but I’m really a bit busy right now and-”

BLAM. Sunlight pours in from the opposite wall. Looks like I’m surrounded. Joy.

Marcy glares frostily at me. “Fine. I had a whole speech prepared, with lots of wonderful metaphors and a hilarious witticism, but noooo. Uncultured imbecile. Very well; here, as you might say, is the deal. I know how to get you out of here. Not just outside generally, but all the way back to your headquarters. You’ll be moderately safe there, I should think. I’ve been informed your scientists are on the verge of cracking the enemy shields.”

“Riiiight. You, a product of my temporary insanity, are going to get me out of here. I think I’ll pass.”

The angel rolls her flecked-grey marble eyes. “You want I should leave you here to get exploded by LORIs? Fine. I will not say another word. I was only trying to help. Hmf.”

You ever hear a talking angel statue go “hmf?” It’s a unique experience. And now I’m thinking, hey, it’s a crazy mad illusion, sure, but what’ve I got to lose?

BLAM. More metal rains down. I’d forgotten the church had two bells, had being the operative word in that sentence. “Okay, so how do we get out of here?”

Marcy’s eyes flash gold. “Faith.”

“Faith. What, this is one of those old Disney movies now? I click my heels and believe real hard in pixie dust and whatever and I magically-”


Nothing happens outside for a long while. Marcy’s fallen silent. I keep listening for the next BLAM. Nothing. No idea what that last sound was. I don’t want to know. I don’t want not to know. The Academy literature professor would twist himself in notes if he’d heard that.

Finally I risk it. Holy cow.Holy cow.

The ridge where the bad guys had set up with their LORIs? Gone. Like some big heavenly shovel reached down and smacked it flat. In its place is ash, dust, and the biggest mightiest most epically impressive battle robot I have ever yet seen. Laser eyes. Death cannons. Shielding. Rocket pack. And it’s got my side’s colors. Oh yeah.

I run outside, waving. The robot stomps towards me. “Whoo-hoo!” I’m yelling. “We’ve won! We’ll get ’em now!”  I don’t even hear Marcy’s whisper as she vanishes in a crackle of electric energy that would’ve screamed teleportation device to me if I’d been paying the least attention instead of running around like a silly person.

“So you live. Hooray for you. You’re welcome. Incidentally, you ever wonder what’ll happen when they get battle-bots?”

  1. Ooh, cool world you’ve kicked off here! I love that he named the statue Marcy 🙂 Very cute! Wanna know what happens next!

    • So do I, honestly. There’s so many possibilities with battle-bots, LORIs, and teleporting angel statues named Marcy. I’ll definitely have to come back to this one. 😛

  2. Well done! You’re on a great roll right now, keep up the momentum.

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