All things in the universe burn with its own fire. Living beings, plants, rocks, and even ice (although and extremely weak fire). Burster, as those like me are called, burn with a special fire, one that can grow beyond the limits of what a normal body can withstand, and yet not be destroyed by it. We control and expel the excess fire to ward off harm and bring down those who threaten us.
I admit I balked when one of the Legion commanders approached me and said I was being sent out with an exploration team. I had been at Castle Refuse fore only a few months and I was being sent out again!?
I didn’t want to go back out into the wilds. The first time traveling from Tolkeen to here was bad enough. I barely survived the trek before Legion scouts found me. He said I had been assigned because I had “special talents”.
I took it as “we are making sure you don’t burn down the castle”.
If I had not been asked by Lord Coake himself to join his Tomorrow Legion, I might have singed all the commander’s hair off. But that might have gotten me tossed out of the castle for good.
So I swallowed my bitterness and said, “understood sir”.
My team is not what I expected. When I arrived for the briefing, I expected a team of well trained wilderness soldiers. We got Elijah. But the rest make us a motley crew of irregulars.
Let me explain them.
Elija Clarke is a good man. The fire inside him burns steady and strong. Ruggedly handsome, well mannered and knowledgeable about surviving in the wilderness. If you put him in a pair of green tights and gave him a bow you would think he was Robin Hood. After meeting him, I felt less anxiety about leaving the castle. He did not seem to mind the fact he was traveling with a walking 100 acre forest fire, although I think I saw him instal another fire extinguisher in his personal transport before we left. I guess I can’t blame him for the precaution.
“Naught”. Bad attitude. Thinks belts and tattoos are real clothes. I have met a few Crazies when I was a waitress in Tolkeen. Their fires burn irregularly. Its like a flame being fed by a gas main with a flawed control valve. It sputters and gutters. It burns from normal to strong without warning. When I look at Naught, I see a gas main always about to explode.
I admit I like Kross. I have seen his kind in Tolkeen and they always come across as normal as any human despite their appearance. His fire burns like the fires of industry, steady and full of creativity. Which is not surprising as he is a Techno-Wizard. And he has a butler, a mechanical butler named Cogswroth! It will be interesting working with him,.
The Mystic is a quite one and showed up late for the briefing. He is so quite I have never fully heard his whole name every time he says it. He speaks softly but when he does it is always about the health and well being of others. I could tell at first sight he would be the group “medic” because his fire burns with a purity that I only get from doctors and magical healers.
Bryce is a Glitter Boy pilot. When I found out he would be coming with us I felt a mixture of safety and worry. Anyone can tell you a Glitter Boy is a powerful machine great in battle, but everyone can also tell you that it is a big target. So we are traveling with the best protection the world can offer and the biggest reason to attack for those wanting to start trouble. Bryce keeps to his mech and doesn’t talk much. His fire burns with same rhythm and heat as his Glitter Boy. One fire would be nothing without the other.
(Update, Nov 9th, 109) We now have a Dragon! A dragon is part of our team!
We found her egg on the side of the road and hatched in front of our eyes. Being from Tolkeen I have seen dragons before, but only flying high in she sky overhead, off to who knows what dragons did in the city.
This is the first time I seen one up close.
She (and I say she because it can take the form of a human girl) is essentially a child. She has a taste for meat (hopefully not human meat) and is curious about everything. “Naught” sees her as a dog. Kross is treating her better (like a daughter). Dragons are like Bursters, in that they can produce more fire then their body needs and expel the extra without harm. For now I am keeping my eye on her as much as I can in case she starts setting things on fire.
I may be walking inferno, but I have control of my fire.
I cannot say the same for a new born dragon. If she starts getting curious to see how different things burn, I will be the fire suppression.
We were now 100 miles northwest of Castle Refuge on a return trip from what had been a blissfully uneventful patrol circuit of northern Arkansas, the Texas panhandle and now Missouri.
Troubleshooting is what the commander called it. We go out, look for someone in need, and help them. But up until today we had nothing but wilderness, a few ruins, and two transport vehicles full of my companions.
I was in Elija’s truck with the always brooding Naught when I heard the cry of help outside the moving transport. Naught noticed it to, but I had to alert Elijah to the same. Just ahead of us was a small child running scared from three hideous looking D-Bees.
The truck came to a stop. Even over the rumble of the engine we heard one of the D-Bee’s yell out “No Witnesses.” Elija disembarked and ran into the woods. I lost sight of him as I climbed out of the truck, but he was already doing his thing. The sound of a laser rifle going off and one of the three creatures going down was proof of that.
I think Naught was having trouble with her weapon by the strings of curses that I heard from the top of the truck. I didn’t have the skill to move as quickly through the woods as Elija, so I stayed on the road. Probably a better thing for the trees as I stoked the flame within me, covering my body with my blue flame (never understood why my fire is always blue) and sent a bolt of fire at one of the remaining creatures. Their was only ash and the lower halves of his legs remaining.
Yes I know I was taught better when I joined the Legion about a fire fight, but better me as a target then the child, who had ran past me after my shot. The remaining creature did not back down though, and for my heroism I took a laser to the shoulder.
I am guessing he was not the smart one of the group, because instead of shooting me again, he chose to bull rush me. You would think that trying to charge a woman of fire would be bad? The creature did not think. The outcome was what you expect. He got to close, burst into flame, flailed about on the ground, and died.
So I guess we finally achieved the objective of our mission. We helped someone. Yea us! Despite my aching shoulder, I was happy we had saved the child.
The child was named Von, and he came from a town he said was not to far from our present location. A place called Garnet Town. The town was in trouble, being harassed by a group known as the Black Market. I heard bar stories, rumors really, about the Black Market. Smugglers, narcotics, weapons, and occasional slavery is the Black Markets speciality. Again those are what I heard. We asked Von what the creatures had meant when they said “no witnesses”,but he had no idea. In any case, the boy’s town was in trouble, and we were still troubleshooting and helping people, so it appeared our next stop was Garnet Town.
But then we found the dragon.
I don’t know what the odds are forfinding a dragon egg on the side of the road. Probably a one in infinite? But Naught was the one to find it.
She knocked on the egg. The egg knocked back. Then the egg hatched.
The dragon (as we would find out later was a female) was hungry from the start, and after Elija tossed the creature a few scraps of beef jerky, the woodsman sliced off the arm from the creature that deep fried itself trying to tackle me. E gave it to the dragon. The meat seem to sedate her, but now she keeps the bone as a chew toy.
About that time Kross’s robot butler driven truck pulled up with the Bryce and his Glitter Boy in tow. Our quite Mystic was also in Kross’s truck so I had the fortune of magic to patch up my shoulder.
We quickly conversed with Kross, Bryce, and the Mystic as to what they had missed. We all agreed on two things. The first was that we should return Von and inspect Garnet Town. The other is that we had a dragon now.
Before we got to Garnet Town, Elijah wanted to backtrack the path the boy and the creatures (which I found out from Elijah were known as Brodkil) had taken, and see if he could find anything of interest. All he could figure out is that they must the Brodkil traveled within the nearby river to cover their tracks, so he was unable to tell where they had come from.
When we reached Von’s town, we found a nice little hamlet. One could say that Garnet Town was picturesque if not for the hastily built wall that surrounded the town. I could see scorch marks of a recent fight dotting the walls and some of the buildings of the town. Laser scorch marks.
What can I say, I know my scorching.
The spell casters also said that the town was near a lay line nexus. I may not know magic, but I have heard that a nexus meant rifts. And everyone who is anyone this day and age knows what a rift means.
The guards that manned the wall were not soldier elite, and were barley passable for soldier novice. One didn’t have a clip in the hunting rifle he held in his hands. After an intense introduction at the gate, and I say this because Naught and the Dragon (now in the form of a little girl) decided to talk first, we met the town’s leader and Von’s mother, Lithari. Seeing her son safe and alive washed way the uneasy greeting and we were invited into he town.
After more intense introductions with Lithari (because Naught and the Dragon kept talking), we found out that yes Garnet Town was under assault by the Black Market, and the Brodkil were capturing the people of the town and the farms around the area.
During the talk with Lithari, Lieutenant Beehan made his appearance. I am sure my companions must have noticed the room getting a few degree’s warmer (guess who was doing it?). The last time I saw a Coalition soldier was back with the refugee caravan I had gone out of my way to protect only to be outcasted for my reward. Never found out what happened to that caravan and don’t care.
Anyway, I tensed up, Elijah tensed up, Naught got a nastier look in her eyes then normal, and the Dragon kept saying please or no. I don’t think she understood what the words meant at that time, although I believe Koss was teaching her. Turns out the Coalition had an eye on the town. They wanted it to join the Coalition States. Of course any non-human would have to move away. But in return the town would have a Coalition garrison goose stomping all over it. In retrospect I did notice that Von and Lithari had pointed ears. So yes, the Coalition Lieutenant was making his sales pitch a NON-HUMAN LEADER of the town. Genius! Think he would have better chance selling ice to a snowman.
After Beehan left, then came Symon. He was a devil-man representative from the Federation of Magic. So the Coalition and the Federation were vying for the town. His offer was about the same, but less “we hate all things no human and magic”. He promised golems to help with the fields and mages to help study the lay line nexus and keep control of any rifts. His offer sure did sound smooth, and if Lithari had to pick, I would say Symon’s offer would be the better of the two.
After the devil-man left though, Lithari turned her attention back to us. She must have already had an inkling we were from the Tomorrow Legion and she probably thought we would be tossing her a sales pitch as well. In truth, we didn’t have one. She did however ask for our help in finding the capture townsfolk. Mission objective still in progress it seemed.
We agreed, turning down any monetary reward no matter how much Naught wanted one (way to make us look like greedy scum Naught).
Elijah, the Mystic, and Naught decided to ask around town for any clues, Bryce kept to his Glitter Boy, while Koss took off with the dragon and see what he can do about improving the town’s defense wall. Meanwhile I stayed with Von and Lithari, persuading them to give me any kind of information that can help us find the Black Marketeers and the their prisoners.
Something must have finally clicked in Von’s mind, as he remembered before the Brodkil attacked him, he had spotted a large black shape under the waters of the river. “As big as a house” he had said. Was this the thing the Brodkil did not want anyone to witness? Then Lithari suggested I speak with Lieutenant Beehan. She had heard the Lieutenant was taking scans of the area and he may have found something to help us. Yes I was skeptical, but it could not hurt to try.
I will admit, if not for the skull motif armor and the fact he was Coalition, I may be smitten by Lieutenant Beehan. But as it stands, he is still Coaliton and I being a Burster would certainly put a kink in any romance, unless pyromania IS his “kink”. From my conversation with Beehan, I found out that yes he was scanning the area and he did find something of interest, a large power signature out in the wilderness. He was willing to hand over the information, but only if he came with us. I told him I would speak with my team about the offer.
After I reconvened with my group, everyone was on board with having Lieutenant Beehan come along. It would be seven of us against one of him should he try anything. Poor Beehan. Elijah’s group found out an agent of the Black Market was actually inside the town, and after speaking with this agent, were told the Black Market were not the ones doing the attacks.
So we brought Lieutenant Beehan on board and headed out in the direction the Coalition officer said the energy signature was coming from. The dragon must still had a hunger for Brodkil arms because it was her who found the trail first. We eventually found what we were looking for. It was a riverside camp full of Brodkil near barricaded cave entry. Some of us, including myself, snuck closer to the camp for a better look. There were almost a dozen Brodkil, one BIGGER Brodkil (the leader), and an even bigger Mech that was starting to submerge itself in the river beside the camp.
So we found the camp, the captured people possibly in the barricade cave, and we knew what we were up against. After a planning session, it was decided a front line shock and awe attack while the spell casters made it for the cave was the best approach.
On a side note, I commend Lieutenant Beehan for putting aside any prejudice to help. Bless him if he wasn’t trying his hardest to look the other way both literally and figuratively. Although I don’t think he will get over the shock of seeing the dragon no longer in the form of a little girl. I hope that twitch in his eye isn’t permanent.
So yes, we set up for the attack. Me and most of the others on the front line. The magic users wheeling around to the flank, and Bryce and his “Glit” providing artillery from the rear. Seems we didn’t have the dorp on the Brodkil as we had hoped, the leader must have heard or spotted some of us when we snuck in earlier.
The battle was short and intense. The Brodkil leader had a chainsword arm, a plasma injector and a steel plate in his head because Elijah’s head shot only annoyed him. The other Brodkill had laser rifles and fortunately the giant mech was nowhere to be seen.
We had lots of fire power and an dragon now invisible thanks one of Kross’s magical devices. Naught wheeled around to the other flank, firing her gun and psionics like a crazy woman. Appropriate being she is a Crazy. Elijah’s shot found better marks with the smaller Brodkil, and even Cogsworthk, Kross’s butler robot, helped in the fight. The dragon was an invisible laughing death machine, and Lieutenant Beehan also showed his skill with his gun.
I concentrate my fire on the big Brodkill, but his inner fire must have been as hot as mine because my first shot did nothing. After the Glitter Boy slammed the leader with a round from it’s boom cannon and the invisible dragon got her clutches into the big Brodkil, I tried another shot. I proved my fire hotter than his, putting a nice smoldering hole in his side.
It all ended when the dragon flew the leader slyward and played skeet shooting with the Glitter Boy. She dropped the leader. Direct hit on the mid-air monster man. The only thing that hit the ground were Brodkil bits.
We won again! Yea! Mission objective successful again! We found the prisoners in the cave, one of which was Garnet Town’s doctor, an old Dwarf named Duncan. He said that the Brodkil had been visited by a tall man in a cloak who was in charge of the group. So it sounds like the big Brodkil was only second in command.
That is something to keep on the back burner for now. Still not sure where the mech went and don’t care too much. Perhaps the pilot inside the mech was taking a nap under the water. Won’t he be surprised when he comes out to find his companions dead. We are almost back to the town and I think I will end this entry here.