[Original Novel] Metal Fever II: The Erasure of Asherah, Part 53

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Previous parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52

It took the wall apart in a shower of flaming debris, bits of smoldering brick and dust raining down around me. “Do you still want control of your body back?” the voice queried, in a sassy tone. “Perhaps you think you could do better.”

I assured him that I didn’t. “I trust you. We both want the same thing, and I’ve never seen anybody fight this way.” He snorted in apparent satisfaction. “That’s all I ever asked for. That you put your trust me when I try to help you, and show a little gratitude for it.”

I thanked him exhaustively, just desperate to make it out of this alive. I had nobody else to rely on anyway, and whoever he actually is, so far he’s proven disturbingly adept at killing. That very much made him the man of the hour, at least until the last of the enforcers lay dead or dying.

The enforcer loaded another grenade. The instant before he launched it our way, the voice aimed my gun arm at the ground before us and shot some sort of sticky purple pod. On impact it explosively grew into a shield of thorns, just in time to bear the brunt of the grenade blast.

Another trick I didn’t even know I had at my disposal. Now content that the voice had matters well in hand, I settled in to watch him perform his grisly work. The enforcer switched over to a flamethrower integrated into its forearm.

The flamethrower made short work of the shield. What little the grenade didn’t shred, that is. It also generated a surprising quantity of smoke between us, which the voice availed himself of, slipping away into the interior of the nearest building…where the other enforcer was waiting for us.

It seized me by the throat, the armor around which swelled to protect it. “Where is he? I’ll give you ten seconds.” I struggled in vain, kicking my legs at him as they dangled in mid-air. “Whatever” the obsidian behemoth grumbled. “We can just extract it from what’s left of your exocortex. Say goodnight.”

I repeatedly slapped my hand against the enforcer’s dented, shiny black forearm. It hesitated, probably expecting me to talk. Instead I pointed over its shoulder, eyes wide to communicate urgency but still unable to make any sound other than wheezing.

“Oh, that’s cute. ‘Someone’s behind me’, right? You must think I’m retarded.” I pried at its fingers, loosening its grip on my neck just enough to sputter “C..can’t it…be both?” My captor’s other hand split apart into a trio of serrated blades, which it readied to cut my skull open. That’s as far as it got before a projectile of some form I’d not yet seen impacted the back of its head.

In the span of a few seconds it burst into rapidly growing vines, which engulfed the panicked enforcer. In the confusion I knocked the rifle from its hands. The anguished tinny sounding wails grew muffled, then finally ceased once the process finished, leaving a brand new tree rooted firmly to that spot…in a conspicuously humanoid shape.

I approached the trunk, examining it from all sides in disbelief. I then knocked a few times on the bark, made a funnel against it with my hands, and spoke into it. “You stay in there and think about what you did.”

My last minute savior was revealed a moment later to be the chieftess, decked out in her own duplicate of my plant armor. “I thought you were a pacifist” I remarked. “I must avenge my people” she replied. “Besides which, it’s not like he’s dead.” She then pushed me against the left side of the door frame.

Poking her arm gun outside, she used its pair of beady little eyes to scope out the still burning wreckage left in the wake of the gun battle earlier. “How many?” I held up one finger. “Any idea where?” I shook my head, then whispered “He can hear us you know”.

She zipped her lips, then silently gestured for me to go out the back way and circle around. I couldn’t ask what she planned to do without blowing whatever it was, so I trusted in her judgement and did as instructed.

It did impart some measure of added confidence that I now had the enforcer’s rifle, in addition to the biogun still attached to my right arm. The mean looking weapon, stylistically identical to the enforcer who wielded it before me, was purpose built to take down fullmetals.

The same couldn’t be said for the gross fuckin’ thing I’m elbow deep in. But that’s because there hadn’t been any obvious way to communicate to the equally gross plant vagina responsible for its design that I needed it to be effective against machines.

It must’ve assumed I’d only be fighting purely biological enemies. “You still there?” I thought. “How come I can move my body now?” The voice returned. “I thought maybe you two were gonna have a moment or something. Didn’t want to interrupt. Ready for round two?” I wiped some of the blood off my armor and sighed. “Showtime”.

I could scarcely understand what followed. Just an incomprehensible blur of speed and violence. The second enforcer, curious as to what was taking the other so long, was caught by surprise by the chieftess on approach to the doorway.

Under the control of the voice, my body circled around back, surveying the battlefield from afar. From this vantage point I had the best seat in the house from which to spectate as the chieftess bitterly fought the sleek, angular mechanoid.

She shrieked. Not in pain as I initially feared, but with the rage of a mother whose children were snatched from the nest and eaten. The war cry of a wild-eyed Valkyrie from Hell. I doubted if I could summon a hatred so perfect and pure as to fight with such ferocity.

Mercifully I didn’t need to, once again on autopilot. A marionette with a relative stranger tugging at my strings, though I’m no stranger to the sensation. I’ve never properly fought my own battles, even back in the states I always let the AI built into my prosthetics take care of that ugly business for me.

“I sense a familiar essence fueling her spirit” the voice muttered. “There is no mistaking it. My lover Asherah fights by her side. They are one in the same. Look at how she picks him apart. Taking advantage of his every little mis-step. She always scolded me for my warlike predilections, but in truth she is never more beautiful than when she is enraged, claws out, and soaked in blood.”

What a touching, psychotic sentiment. Yet as I continued to watch her fight, driving the enforcer back step by step despite his superior strength, I had to admit she seemed like the natural counterpart to the voice now controlling me.

I wish I’d thought of praying to Asherah for help back at the village. I’m not sure what she could’ve done, exactly. The chieftess probably beseeched her for protection before I even got there. ‘Preseeched’? I think that’s right. It’s definitely not deseeched, anyway.

The chieftess launched another of the explosive vine pods, but it was roasted mid-air by the enforcer’s flamethrower. He then blasted another stream of flaming fuel onto her armor, which withered and blackened…only to secrete a foam which extinguished the fire, then rapidly re-grow every part that was burnt away a moment earlier.

Slowly, so slowly, I crept toward the fight. Moving from cover to cover, finally watching the two go at it from no more than fifty feet away. Being that I held perfectly still, the camouflage concealed my presence, and the enforcer was too busy holding his own against the chieftess to scan for my heat signature.

At last, an opening arrived. A long, flexible, whip-like appendage shot out of her bio gun. She drew the heavy tip behind her, then with a resounding crack, struck the enforcer so hard that his neck bent to one side at a severe angle. His flamethrower did nothing to stop it as the whip simply regrew faster than it could be burnt.

The second blow twisted the enforcer’s head around backwards…staring directly at me. The voice in control of me chose this moment to strike, forming a long, glistening blade which slid silently from the opening on my own biogun. There was no “oh shit” expression on its faceted, featureless face to savor.

Stay Tuned for Part 54!

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