(This is a short story I wrote while playing Tabula Rasa that was selected by NCSoft to be shown on their official TR website. While it's not WoW related, I thought you might all enjoy it nonetheless.)
He looked down at me ruefully, with the kind of disdain one might show for some dog shit they just stepped in, only the closest thing to a dog on these worlds were Flaregashers. I considered maybe it was because I was a non-combatant, or perhaps because I hadn’t showered in almost a week since I was assigned to cover the operations on Howling Maw. Whatever it was, I decided to reintroduce myself.
“Dane Wylde. I’m a combat reporter for the Xenet Front Lines.” The sniper returned to his vigil of the perimeter his position was overlooking, his stealth armor occasionally shimmering with distortion of the moonlight. The alien landscape resembled some of the hills I remembered on trips through upstate New York, but the Bane creep vines had encroached even here, dozens of kilometers from their nearest outpost, choking out the similarities. I continued to press for the interview, “You’re Captain Xune? Siris Xune? Colonel Malstrom told me I could have a few minutes….”
He cast a sidelong glance back at me as one of his helmet optics whirled my direction. He responded impatiently, his voice synthesized by the helmet filtration system, “This isn’t a church social out here. We’re expecting a Bane attack again soon, so you better make it snappy.”
Rude, but to the point. I could work with that, and wasn’t about to lose the opportunity. “We’re doing a series on Receptives in the AFS. Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?” I activated my camera bot to begin recording.
“I figured that’s what this was about. Why don’t you go talk to my brother, Damon?” he replied, agitated.
“We tried, but apparently he’s a Penumbra asset and classified as off limits to us.”
He shook his head to himself slightly as he kept his attention on the night sky above the smoke-filled valley, the acrid smell of photonic weapon fire still lingering in the air from the last Bane attack along with the smoldering wreckage of Bane dropships and AFS mechs alike. Somewhat resigned to my persistence, he began to tell me his story.
“What’s there to tell? I suppose I’m no different than any other sorry son of a bitch who survived the invasion of Earth. I was an Army Ranger for a couple of tours, but eventually gave that up and moved on to a corporate gig as a consultant for a technology firm. I was married. We didn’t have kids, but we had two cats who were like our children. ‘Furry children,’ my wife used to joke.” He paused a moment in thought, then continued, “But it’s all gone now. Family. Friends. Cats. Everything. What took millennia for us to advance, develop and build, gone in a matter of days.”
He suddenly peered through the scope of his torqueshell rifle then, and added, “You know the rest. Earth was just the next conquest on the Bane’s list of systems with resources and sentient life. We’ve become refugees in an ancient war between the Eloh and the Neph that’s been raging across the universe for eons possibly.” He chuckled dryly, “But they fucked with the wrong species this time.” I noticed his hands subtly crackle with some kind of red energy as he continued, “and now that we’ve allied with the Foreans and the Brann, they have a real fight on their hands. Not some sleepy, backwater planet that didn’t even have a fucking chance to offer any resistance.”
An electric crack echoed from the surrounding hills like thunder from a distant lightning bolt before I realized he had just fired his weapon. I strained my eyes trying to see what it was as I controlled the camera bot to zoom in on the dark horizon. He reported matter-of-factly, “Bane recon patrol. Just took out their caretaker.” He fired again, and through the camera bot I could see a Thrax soldier suddenly drop dead as his head exploded from his body. The Thrax caretaker lay a few meters behind him. There was another Thrax soldier pointing frantically in our direction, and what appeared to be a Thrax grenadier who began running toward our position. Another shot from his weapon sounded again, and the grenadier began to tumble down the far hill they had come over. There was a pause then as the remaining Thrax soldier took cover behind a fallen tree, when I noticed an orange glow emanate from the sniper’s hand. The illumination quickly faded and reappeared as an outline around the lone Thrax, rendering him visible to the naked eye even at this distance, and one more shot rang out from the torqueshell rifle. The last of the Bane patrol crumpled lifeless. I returned the camera bot’s focus to Siris, somewhat awestruck by what I had witnessed.
“Was that Logos you just used?” I asked excitedly.
He reloaded his weapon and replied succinctly, “Yes.”
I inquired evenly, trying to contain my curiosity, “How did you become a Receptive? When did you know you had Logos powers?”
Static from his helmet interrupted us at that moment as a radio message came through, “Eagle Eye, this is Eagle’s Nest. Report.” He responded calmly, “Bane patrol engaged and eliminated 500 meters due north of my position. Incursion is imminent. Acknowledge.” The voice chirped back, “Acknowledged, Eagle’s Eye. Reinforcing forward positions. Eagle’s Nest Out.”
He slung his impressive rifle on his back as he turned to me and mused, “Not sure. I honestly have no idea what makes one Receptive and another not. I’ve heard rumors from the science division that it's some latent talent in our species, and of course there’s some crazy speculation that all sentient life are somehow descended from the Eloh before the Neph split off to create the Bane. Who fucking knows.” We started briskly walking back toward the fort behind us as he cautioned, “Time for us to go. You don’t want to be caught up here forward of our positions during a Bane assault.” I knew all too well his chilling implication, as I’d seen a couple battles firsthand at the Foreas Base in the Divide. If the Bane didn’t kill you outright, they captured you and turned you into a mindless machina for their terrible army. Yet somehow, I felt safer in his presence. He concluded his earlier thought, “What I do know is that Logos gives us a tremendous edge in battle, and because of it, we might actually win this war someday. As for me,” he shrugged to himself, “I discovered I could use Logos at the AFS boot camp, along with every other Receptive I imagine. It’s no accident they give recruits a mission to the Logos shrine there.”
As we arrived back at the fort, I heard the whistling of dropships behind us signaling the Bane attack. He remarked, “This is where the interview ends, Dane Wylde.” I wished him well with the AFS soldier’s motto, “Keep your eyes up and your ass down, Captain.” He nodded to me and began heading back to the forward positions as his stealth armor activated and he faded from view before my eyes.
Warcraft-related fiction and other creative works. Open to everyone.
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