So, another fun short story challenge from Chuck Wendig’s blog, Terribleminds. This time: action. A short action tale, 1000 words, action start to finish. I’ve posted a longer version (about 2000 words) to my free short stories section, here.
Here goes, with the origin story for my Meiji Ninja character, Yumiko.
How many times have I died now?
I dodge past the first few spider-monsters, jolts of impact as I crash into them. Something tugs at my arm and I spin, slashing out with one of my energy-blades. For an instant the monster’s eggplant face is all I see, shark-fin teeth close enough to kiss, and I plunge my blade through it with a crunch.
Something hits my back and erupts from my chest: a spider-monster’s chitinous forelimb. I grit my teeth through a wave of pain, but the pain just keeps rolling higher.
Grabbing the offending spider, I stab it again and again. But I’m getting weaker. The spider floats, taking me with it, and I realise it’s dead. They’re all dead.
I activate my retrieval beacon, and sleep.
When I wake up, I’m pickled in the medical-tank again: My handlers must have found me. I wonder what the date is? As if it matters.
How long has it been since I began my training?
That day I’d put my hair in a ponytail, tied my judo gi.
The first kick caught my chin and left me looking at the roof-beams, listening to their laughter.
I flipped upright and palm-heeled my opponent’s crotch.
He sagged, eyes bulging, and I head-butted his nose flat. Face met floor, a bouncing ribbon of bloody mucus trailing from his lip. The others had to drag me off him.
Now it’s another day, another mission…
Location: ASTEROID 739; Gravity: NEGLIGIBLE (0.01 earth G); Atmosphere: NIL; Designation: MINING
My motorbike hugs the lip of a crater as I race toward the Mouther-Ship. It’s a Qing mining vessel, seven mechanical legs. It’s about one li across: half a kilometre. Like an ugly metal sphere with a mouth. And it’s not supposed to be mining our asteroid.
From up here I can also see one of my clan’s villages, a Meiji imperial outpost: metal modules and crystal domes, scattered across a ridge.
I speed toward the Mouther-Ship’s namesake: its voracious metal jaws.
The Mouther’s whirring teeth are all I see, like a personal IMAX of earthmoving death.
I drop the bike and jump…
The bike explodes on impact.
I flex my arc belt, and the tiny device creates a force-field, buffeting my own landing. I stick to the Mouther-Ship’s hull with a clunk, and it’s only a short climb to a nearby turret.
The couple of Qing soldiers there are surprised to see me. I kick them into one another and jump down a hatch headfirst.
Now inside, I deactivate my boots and jump, drifting far above the crushing apparatus. I land on a gantry, engage boots, and kick in the door to the control room. Twelve guys with spears are waiting.
I dive under the first Qing soldier and through his legs, slashing. Blood balloons around his legs in the zero gravity, like a scarlet jellyfish, then the fight is on. I slash and stab, the press of bodies slamming into me, and my feet can’t find the deck: I’m just standing on other peoples’ legs. I keep going. Grimacing faces pressed against my helmet. There’s air in here, but I’m not keen to taste it.
One of them gets far enough back to retaliate, and the first I know about it is a spear lancing my hip. It presses through and grinds along the deck, torqueing me with it. I scream and stab him through the eye. The hot suck from his socket is no more gruesome than the sound that his spear makes as I pull it out of me.
Through the morass of corpses, I spot the ship’s commander. I can’t walk, but pull myself toward him, like I’m swimming through red seaweed.
He dives down a chute, into the power core room. I float down after him, blades ready. But he’s not there, and the hatch slams behind me…
The Mouther-Ship lurches: it’s walking.
There’s no porthole to the outside, but there’s a viewport to the Ship’s central area. I can even see out through the mouth: the ashen dunes, the rocky ridge, the village coming closer.
A voice crackles through the ship’s intercom. “Sit tight. We’re going to demolish your village. You can watch.”
There’s less than a minute to act… The room heats as power flows through the core.
I have to think!
Thirty seconds. Sweat sticks the suit to my back.
Ten seconds. The village looms large outside the ship.
Steel teeth bite into the first row of greenhouses, and through my viewport comes a whirlwind of air, glass blowing like sleet. The processing machinery swings into action, and it’s hard to see specifics after that. I spot a rendered arm amid a tangle of copper wiring. A kid’s arm.
I turn and smash my fist on the power core. The glass cracks.
I whoop, and smash the hilt of my blade on top of it. Red lights, and sirens begin to wail above the grinding downstairs. The hatch opens above me but I ignore it. I slam my blade into the casing again, and it splinters, it cracks, even as a spear stabs down through my collarbone and into my chest: the commander’s, and I cough blood inside of my mask.
My knees wobble, numb. I could die again right now…
No. I’ll destroy our enemies, and be made samurai, one day I will.
I plough the commander’s face into the core, and it breaks with a bang, sucking him in, chewing him through the gap like a paper cup of blood.
Time to escape. I activate my grapple and shoot upward, popping through the command room like a champagne cork, and drag myself outside.
The explosion launches me spinning off the asteroid, and then I’m among the stars. My hair shakes loose inside the helmet. Together with the droplets of blood pattering back and forth, it’s like looking up through the branches of a cherry tree.
I activate my retrieval beacon.
That’s it, hope you enjoyed.