Saturday, May 3, 2008

In the Rage

[Fiction written under the influence of Gamma World, the X-Men, Harlan Ellison and, ah, Guns n Roses, ca.1987.]

     Fifty feet from the trees and the sonic blaster whines. Fifty feet from safety and Rran screams, falls, skull shrieked to crumbs. Don't look back, run stumbling run. Run for trees and shadows. Don't look back. Dagg Nazty in the jungle, alone. The last, weaving through vines and blotchy leaves.

     And come the White Knights.

     They hadn't killed him yet. No, they musn't. Jungle swallows him whole and he's in territory. Another shadow born in, borne by the forest. Dust purple skin moist with sweat, longtall cadaver, chest heaving.

     Further in. Come the Clean Knights.

     Quick up behind twisted trees, pressed close to bark, in the breathing Jungle. Manic greengrey eyes wide with fear. Listens, hears the rustle and snap of pursuit, crack and breaking branches. They hadn't killed him yet, no they won't.

     Springs away, with soft rasp of stained claws on bark and swish of loose rags. Crossbow bounces on back and a quiver of steel bolts. Forceblade strapped to his side, switched off and dormant. Dodges under and over tangle of underbrush, creepers, crawlers, and no flowers except the ones that bite. Panting, he runs ahead.

     Dagg Nazty in the lead at nightfall. In the Jungles, groan and moan, skitter and squealings of large things eating small things in shadows. He halts and climbs to safe tree roost. Under mottled leaf canopy, he rests. And waits. Deep black night noisy with survival and malice and the whistling of deformed insects.

     He drowses fitfully, rocked asleep by fear, and shook to waking by anger. He is the last, all friends gone. Killed. Rran gone. Asp gone. Xarta gone. And Braal.

     But not him. Never, not ever. Mind seethes, teeth grind. Rage thickens, coils in loud darkness. Rage that smears greasy and rips jagged. Rage any color but white. Unhuman, freak, DNA casualty, and all that they called him, cursing and spitting. Dirty mutant bastard. Not pure like us. Their words dissolve like poison in his mind. Teeth glisten in his sharp face, a tight grim scowl. Fingers twitch.

     Dagg Nazty in the Rage. They could hate, and he could hate.

     He waits, midnight, after midnight, dead of night. Angry sleep and no peace. And somewhere, them. The White Knights, the Clean Knights, huddled around a glowcube, unsettled in the dark and shivering for day. He waits, twilight, and just before dawn...

     Glower of sun, glower of gloom. He wakes from halfsleep and stretches, taut and wiry. Glances down and steps from his branch, plummets lightly to damp ground. He twists off in a new direction, watching, listening.

     Curves back slitherlike at his hunters. Hides in shadows. Crawls on thorns. Stealth and fury. Slow, slowly, the long way around and behind. Hours. Minutes.

     Still of noon and there, only fifty feet away, through unbreezed tendril curtains. He hears the sound of vines hacked, shoved aside. The sound of a voice. He moves even slower now, muscles strung tense, bound frenzy growing. In the Rage.

     It reaches out, peers around broken trees, whispers along the ground, sinuous, in undergrowth and brambles.


     He unstraps his crossbow and quiver and leaves them aside. Clutches tight the hilt of his forceblade, strokes the trigger switch. And there. Closely seen and alone, white armored and so clean, gaze jumping and eyes nervous. One of them. One of the pure. The White stands frightened, turns side to side, shaky hands holding shudder rifle. Nazty sneers and chuckles. The White whirls in his direction, mouth open, "Brother Mikl, are you--"
                         as Dagg Nazty, body jerking, mind clenching, howls and sends the Rage, tangible and lancing mind to othermind, serpent whip, brainknife. The White gasps, cries pain, hands on temples and tripping backwards
                    as Dagg Nazty leaps at the falling form, forceblade slashing into humming blue existence at midswing, slices soft neck flesh and through, and winks out...

     Pretty scarlet and mud spatters clean white sheatharmor and the body crumples to the dirt. Eyes festering with joy, he breathes hissing and flatly, "Welcome to the Jungle. You looked lonely."

     Dagg Nazty joins the Hunt.

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