Bryan Beal


The days had worn into weeks which had stretched and seethed into unending months. From the day the first Overlords had arrived, death reigned supreme on Othus Prime IX.

The Overlords brought with them their magic and their fury. Inhuman machines gifted human souls reaped their blood-soaked vengeance on a planet that had committed no sin against them.

Least of all had the Physician Darrald Luken.

The Sulphur Plague claimed his wife and four children in a matter of days. Just as he had buried one, another was claimed by the alien gods that the Overlords served. It was widely considered that something broke in the man. Some would say that even his soul had been rent in two.

Unit 7-X5 advanced down the shattered street of Alterland like it owned the place. Its entire body was encased in combat-mech, which it considered unnecessary on this squalid, little planet. Its blue eyes scanned the urban nightmare through arrays of visual sensors as well as direct vision through the mech's helm. In its brass-coloured right hand, it wielded an ion battle axe.

The sun fitfully glowed through the darkened clouds of smoke and ash that hung over the pulverised remnants. Even though the Overlords' ships had hammered the city, there had still been reports of native activity. What perplex 7-X5 was the reported appearance of these natives as that of a long extinct race from its own homeworld.

7-X5 continued its unrelenting advance, kicking any debris out of its way. On the scanners, still nothing. It was getting fed up with these useless patrols through barren wastes. This was not what it had signed up for. It pushed on, nonetheless. It began to wind up its Viper canon, a wicked extension of its left arm. If it had to be out here, it was going to entertain itself.

A harsh explosion sounded as the Viper's energy pulse ripped through an old stone building that had somehow remained after the bombardment. The stones near the impact point melted. Other stones were thrown away by the heat energy that tore them from their neighbours. Ruined walls scattered across the street and block, hissing with power and heat. 7-X5 looked up at the new plumes of smoke with relish as it started to search for a new practice target.

The scanners went haywire as they flashed out in a searing jab and blast of white light. For a second or so, 7-X5 was blinded as it struggled to regain visuals. The unthinkable happened. Damage monitors began to report that the mech was sustaining negative impacts. 7-X5 unleashed the Viper in a sweeping arch of two hundren and seventy-five degrees. There were no responses or screams from outside.

The world began to emerge from the blinding whiteness in vague shadows. Abruptly, the world was at right angles to 7-X5's orientation. It realised that it was on its back in the middle of the street. The reports of negative impacts continued to come in. It peered down at its feet to see two metallic jaws clamped onto its ankles. Somehow, a few teeth had found a crack through which to penetrate. Shaking them off would be impossible.

The Viper opened up and a vague shadow turned into something like dust. There was no scream. It tried to bring the canon to bear on another shadow. The canon, and 7-X5's left arm, sailed over its body to land on its right. A leather-clad foot jammed down on its right wrist as a blade slammed through the wrist, pinning it.

“Kalibrium is a bitch, huh?”, a voice said from behind a mask that reminded the Overlord of birds on its own world.

“You will pay for this, na...”, the Overlord began.

Another blade swept in and cut the sentence short, along with 7-X5's life. The two shadows stepped away from the corpse of the unholy thing on the ground and, with no word, went their separate ways.

Darrald Luken wound his way to one of the few places left intact in the entire city. The cemetery. He walked through the graves of those gone, ancient and so many from more recent times. He eventually stopped at the foot of the only grave that mattered to him. Some might had said they heard weeping.

“In your memory.”, Darrald choked as he placed a bright blue orb on the gravestone.

The heart and soul of an Overlord was a worthy offering to the dead.

© 2023, Bryan Beal

#ShortStory #ScienceFiction #SciFi #DarkFantasy