Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Last War: Chapter 36

Jacques de Ris tapped the controls to the turrets in his leaper impatiently. Finally the door opened and his driver stepped in.

"Dammit, Pierre, you're late again," griped de Ris, "War is not a time to be constantly truant."

"Truant, truant, truant my ass," grumbled Pierre, "The war can proceed for at least a few minutes without me. I have all the work to do in this..." his expletives were deleted by the revving of the engine as he turned it on, "leaper."

Jacques snorted a snort of contempt.

"May we proceed now, your Highness?" he said with mock bitterness.

Pierre made a quick calculation and made the leaper jump in such a manner that de Ris flew out of his seat and onto the floor.

"Oh ho, maybe you should buckle up next time, dead shot."

Pierre laughed as de Ris cursed him out and returned to his seat.

"Here we come for a landing, coalies everywhere."

They were near Perpignan, a town close to the Franco-Spanish border. Coalies were crawling all over the place, and though the British had been helping to stem the tide, the French army was still being overstretched.

De Ris smiled queerly as he began putting large holes into Spanish tanks. Once again he thanked God that he was in a leaper and no where else. Others might not be able to handle such an assignment, but he loved it.

Suddenly de Ris' reverie was interrupted as the entire leaper shook.

"What was that?" yelled Pierre in the spare second or two he had between calculating a jump and then actually conducting a jump.

"I'll check," said Jacques, as he relinquished his weapon.

Checking the battle status he saw that they had suffered major damage. Systems were blinking out all over the screen. Minor systems failures. One turret out. The leaper began to jump again, very slowly now because of all it’s damage. What could have...

The world exploded. The leaper's jump was brought to a premature end and it plummeted from the sky on top of some Coalition troops.

"It's another leaper!" Pierre realized belatedly.

Indeed, a Spanish leaper was making broad, arrogant bounds toward them, firing with each drop to the ground. Jacques and Pierre's leaper was being pummeled.

"Let's try to get moving, Pierre!" demanded Jacques, firing wildly at the enemy leaper.

Unbuckling himself, the driver ran to a series of panels and began trying to fix the badly damaged leaper. If he worked his damnedest, he might be able to get in one more leap.

De Ris' fire flickered off the enemy leaper without causing almost any damage. What was it, a Python VII or VIII leaper? Surely far more advanced in armor, weapons, and movement than Jacques'. In fact, it made Jacques' leaper look like a primitive medieval catapult or something. His guns just...bounced off the other leaper.

"Either something is severely damaged with my guns, or that leaper is a real monster."

"Both," said Pierre, flinging a monkey wrench down, "That thing's frontal armor is impenetrable, although you might be able to puncture it's belly plate. And our weapons are all screwed up. Try to compensate about thirty degrees west constantly."

"I can't hit that thing!" Jacques exclaimed, "It's hard enough with working guns and no chaos all around us. Everything's too confused and furious."

"Then take a fucking breath!" Pierre exclaimed in exasperation, "At least slow it down, so I can try to get us one last jump out of here."

Jacques stopped firing momentarily. Now he had the chance to watch the enemy leaper very carefully, without his line of sight being blocked by his shells and bullets. The other leaper seemed to be following some kind of pattern. It made two low, short jumps and then one long, high jump. Hop, hop, leap. And then it began the pattern again.

Jacques tensely wiped the sweat away from his face. He noticed the stubble beginning to come in. He should've shaved today.

“It’s not firing at us in the air,” he whispered, suddenly realizing the key to defeating that bastard.

He carefully lined up his sights. There it went again. Hop, hop...

Bam! Direct hit! Jacques blasted the underbelly of the enemy leaper as it made it's high leap. The leaper came crashing to the ground billowing fire from it's underside. It was not yet defeated, however. Tenacious bastard driving that thing. And the gunner was no slouch either.

The leaper seemed to be alive. It seemed angry, buckling in rage, and the fire coming from it only heightened this impression in Jacques. It seemed like it was about to open a mouth full of long, pointed teeth and chomp down on Jacques' leaper.

It drew closer and closer. Jacques was not firing. The enemies would think his guns had been damaged. Here it came. Hop, hop, leap. That leap was the last the Spanish leaper would ever make. It crashed to the ground with a sickening thud.

"Huzzah! I got it!"

Jacques cheered. Dourly, Pierre got back into his seat and buckled up.

"I may be able to pull off one more leap."

"Why bother? We've crippled the..."

Another salvo of fire from the Spanish leaper punctuated Jacques' sentence.

"We may have crippled it, but we've not killed it. Let the armor move in and finish it off. We've got to get out of here and get some repairs."

"But the battle..." protested Jacques.

But the leaper was already in the air. Jacques was still feeling a bit annoyed, but overall he was happy. He'd managed to take out a far superior leaper, and probably turned the course of this battle, at least slightly. Yes, a leaper gunner's was a good life.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Enter your e-mail address in the box below and click "Subscribe" to join Stephen Kozeniewski's Mailing List for Fun and Sexy People. (Why the hell would anyone ever want to join a mailing list?)