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Old 12-30-2008, 01:15 PM   #1
machievelli
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excerpt from Faerie IV

A little backstory: Rob and Midori, a contact team meeting the Faerie are redirected because half a dozen faerie were trapped aboard a space shuttle heading into orbit. The crew of the station discovered them, and instead of reporting them, joined the faerie. They slipped aboard a Progress spacecraft and landed in Kazakstan, where Rob and Midori rescued them.

But Martin, a member of another team had pushed for them to escape south through the far eastern portion of Afghanistan. Martin's partner Lady Penelope Carstairs, in a bid to convince at least one of them to stop being an idiot has ridden north on her motorcycle to contact Rob....

Rob paced, furious. Great plan Martin. Suggest I head into a meat grinder because you’re so much effing smarter than I am. Then have your own partner decide to take it in hand, leaving me sitting on a bullseye.

The biggest problem was unlike the countries to the south, the old Russian territories had been leery of allowing their citizens to arm themselves as their brethren had throughout history. Getting a gun would have meant taking a chance dealing with local law enforcement. He had considered and rejected the chance. Right now he was regretting that choice.

There was a hum of an engine, and Rob lifted the binoculars again. There was a rooster tail of dust in the distance, and he focused on it. A motorcycle. He could see a figure in black full motorcycle leathers bent over the handlebars of the Kawasaki Ninja. Great, she was here. Now maybe-
He was diving even as his ears recorded the thump of a mortar firing. There was a flash, and the bike slipped, skidding.

In the next instant he was up again, throwing open the door of the Land Rover. “Everyone out!” He shouted. Midori yelped, opening and diving past the door, the Faerie boiled out landing on the woman Kika bit her, then murmured in her sister’s ear keeping her calm. “Head east then south!” He shouted, then the rover was racing forward.

“Rob!” Trillium screamed as the vehicle hurtled toward Lady P.

Tulip took off like an arrow from a bow. The other once male Faerie from the station took off like a shot after him with the exception of Orkhidia. Bluebell Saffron and Kaunaoa followed by Kika took off in pursuit.

“Chernokopi!” The Russian screamed, then she spun, signaling. “All of you not pregnant form a perimeter.” She snapped. Then she looked toward the vehicle and the man in it. “Luck to you, Rob.”

Rob was focused on what he was doing. Whoever had fired that mortar was already headed down to take their prize. Thanks to those lunatics in Iraq any American or English civilian caught would be displayed, tormented then butchered on camera.

He slammed the brakes, the vehicle fishtailing, and was out running to Lady P even before it had stopped. She lay there boneless. He dropped beside her, one hand checking her pulse as his other hand unsnapped her holster. He didn’t recognize the weapon, but it was a pistol, and as the old saying went, any port in a storm. He stuffed the pistol in his belt.

She was alive, thank the gods. He could hear shouting. He pulled her into a fireman’s carry, and started running toward an outcropping of stone. He ran around the edge of it, dropping to his knees. He lowered her gently, then pulled the slide back enough to see that there was one up the spout. Life is good. He thought. He heard a buzzing. Kaunaoa followed by Bluebell Saffron Kika Tulip led the ones who had been the men of the Space Station team.
“Are you ****ing bug-nuts?” He screamed at them. He looked at the faerie, then at Lady P. “Bluebell, we have to get her out of here.”

“Rob-“ Tulip started.

“Colonel, You and your team are not ready for this!” He snapped. “Some of them are close enough to see you or the others. If your team die or are captured I have failed. All of you are more important than I am! I will keep them occupied Get her out of here!”

He turned, and the pistol barked, the first Taliban soldier dropping. But there were more coming. “Colonel, Charlie Mike damn it!”

Tulip nodded, and the faerie descended like a swarm of wasps.

Rob was servicing targets. The third man was already dead, yet he was in the zone. Four rounds, four dead he thought. They were under cover, and Rob watched his front. How many of them were left?

Then on the hill a hundred meters away, a man stood. Then half a dozen others. Two had Dragunov sniper rifles, that they held in plain view before dropping into crouches.

The pistol might be deadly at that range, but accuracy was not guaranteed. Rob ducked as the first 7.62 by 54mm round exploded into the rock in front of him. He ducked back. The faerie were gone, only Lady P’s clothes remained. He thanked the gods they had done what they had to.
He sighed, then stood. He held the gun upward, then set it down, and stood, hands up.

Charlie Mike?” Bluebell asked as they swooped low, circling the area to meet up with the others.

“Continue Mission.” Tulip rasped.

Where Angels fear to tread

Five kilometers south of the border the Faerie rendezvoused. Orkhidia looked at the diminutive Lady P, and at the expression on Tulip’s face. “Colonel, lead off, we must get to the border as fast as possible.” She looked south. “I will have words with this Martin.”

*****

Martin resisted the urge to slam down the brakes or the gas as he saw the pole down at the border. Instead he eased off, waiting patiently as the Pakistani guard moved back to him. “Terribly sorry, sir. The Afghani attacked a vehicle about ten kilometers north. As soon as the reaction team is ready, they will be going out. But until they have reported, the border is closed.” The guard reported in accented English.

“Thank you.” Martin replied. “A friend of mine might have come by, dressed in a black leather suit on a motorcycle?”

The look on his face was more than enough for Martin. ”The motorcycle passed through a few minutes before the attack, sir. I am sorry.”

Martin nodded, used his turn signal turned around, and headed south. But as soon as he was away from the border, he turned east. He understood enough to know any Faerie fleeing south would go east instead of west. It was safe closer to the Chinese border rather than deeper into Afghanistan. The Chinese might shoot first and ask embarrassing question like ‘who are you?’ later, but that kept that section of Afghanistan clear of Taliban guerillas. He went only a few kilometers; after all, out of sight, the Faerie would be safe. He pulled up by the berm and wire barrier, climbing out of the vehicle. It was noon, hot as hell, and he wished he’d never pushed Rob into this. Damn it, they were both right. Rob had not wanted to go this way, and Lady P had known he was pushing too hard.

If they die…

He heard a whistle, and looked up as a swarm of Faerie breasted the berm, rushing toward him. He opened the door of the truck, and the faerie, a number of whom he didn’t recognize shot past him to enter it.
One however did not leap into the truck. Trillium had stopped in front of his face, and she glared at him with hatred open on her face. “You killed him you bastard!”

“Trillium-“

“Shut up!” Lady P flew up, catching the younger woman’s hand. “Trillium, he was still alive! Tulip told us he was still alive when they brought me out. We have to hold onto the hope that they are not freedom fighters. Hope that they are sadistic bastards. That gives us the hope to find him alive.” She looked at Martin, her own glare as eloquent as Trillium’s tirade.

At the hotel, the faerie spread out on the bed. The pregnant faeries were gathered with Lupine and Thistle, while all of the others stood on the table where Martin had spread out a map. Dominic arrived before he began.

“Dom.” Martin nodded. “You have to take the pregnant girls and all with children back to the plane. “Tulip, Orkhidia, Dandelion, you take teams out in an arc-“

“Excuse me, sir.” One of the Faerie flew over, followed by a small dark fairy. Martin didn’t recognize either one of them.

“You are?” He asked.

“Sundrop. I was once Sarai Ranji.” One of them said. She gestured to the other. “This is Gulaab, one of two the two local faerie that joined us in our flight into Pakistan. She and Fellah joined us.” The woman motioned and another dark faerie flew over. Both looked like Pakistani or Hindi women. Sundrop motioned. “Both speak English, so there is no problem with translation.”

One of the faerie lifted off, landing on the map. “The people you are looking for are here.” She stamped on the map. “There are fifteen of them. They have a studio set up.” She looked at the people bleakly. “They capture people, and torture them. Then they make these people admit to what they call crimes, then execute them in a horrific manner.”

“Jesu.” Dominic said. “What can we do?”

Martin stood away from the map. “We go in and save him,” Martin said. “But even with normal flight speed we’re over three hours from there. I’d be a low grad moron by the time we arrive if I stay male. Dom, after I have made the change you have to drop all of us here…”

*****

Rob knew pain. He’d gone through the ‘snake eater’ school at Fort Bragg, deployed in Germany and even went through the SAS survival school.
But this was a new level of pain.

The Taliban men had slammed him into the ground, then demanded that he tell them where the women had gone. All they had to go by was the empty clothes of Lady P and Midori, but they knew two women had been with him.
He stayed mute, even as they pummeled him, beat him until he couldn’t even think of moving. SERE had taught him a lot about what a human being could endure. Even as he lay in the fetid cell, he had to grade the ‘interrogators’ as ‘barely adequate’.

But how long could he take this? He shook his head mentally. It wasn’t how long, it was would he hold out long enough

The door opened, and a man came in, reading from a file. Rob noted the man’s arrival, but beyond that, he ignored him. The ploy was right out of ‘dominance 101’. You are important the man you will abuse is not. First rule for the man about to be torn apart, ignore the bastard; it will really piss him off.

The Arab sat, flipping through the papers. From what Rob could see, they were supply forms.

The Arab set the folder aside, and looked at Rob. There was no compassion in that look. His mother had once looked at the meat for dinner with such an appraising eye. The door behind Rob opened, and a man came into view. In his hand was a roll of cloth. The interrogator took the packet, and the newcomer moved back out of his line of vision.

The interrogator opened the packet, revealing the segmented pike. “Such workmanship.” He said softly. He took the blade, socketing it into the shaft. “And you waste it on this.” The blade, a quarter inch across and razor sharp flashed in the light. “Your two companions are running around in the nude, and have not crossed the border yet.” The eyes moved from the blade to him. “You will tell me where they are, unless you enjoy pain.”
Rob stared at him.

The man sighed. He took the blade, motioning toward the man behind Rob. Two hands clamped down, one on the wrist, the other at the elbow on the right arm. Before Rob could react the interrogator leaned forward, and the blade punched down through his arm and into the chair’s arm. Rob spasmed, biting his lip rather than screaming. The interrogator took a hammer, and drove it an inch into the wood.

“Ah, good metal there.” The man said, preparing another shaft. “Let us begin in truth, then.”

The arm rose, then slammed down on Rob’s left arm.

*****

The flight of Faerie flew like an avenging fighter wing toward their target. The local tribes had been leery of helping humans; the Arabs and Hindu had been as bad if not worse than the Christians in their demonizing of the tiny people. Martin and Lady P, even with the help of all of the faerie of their fair had failed to convince them except for the two locals. Each bore a bow or sword, given to them by the Faerie that remained in the aircraft instead of flying with them. Martin had been adamant; none of the pregnant faerie, or those with children were allowed to come.

But Thistle, Lupine and Trillium had sent their swords into this fray.
They were led by Tulip. The American had felt it was her fault from the start, and no one could gainsay her in this. Martin led the rest, 21 more faerie of nine human nations against 15 fanatics.

*****

Tulip lifted, doing an unconscious imitation of a helicopter gunship. The huts were a sad little cluster, probably built back when mere shepherds had been all that lived in the mountainous waste. She dropped down, facing them all. “I only see three outside.”

“It is late.” Fellah, the Arabic fairy told them. Most will be asleep or resting. But it will be several hours before we can move safely.”

There was a scream and only the fact that they would lose half their number stopped them from leaping into flight to attack. Tulip’s eyes were bleak. “Martin?”

“It’s my fault, Tulip.” He said. There were few movies where Joey Heatherton played a deadly serious role, but with the look on Martin’s face, she could have played against Anthony Hopkins as dueling homicidal maniacs. “Procedure is to wait until the dead of night or near dawn. But I want to go in right now.”

Tulip looked at the others. “If we go now, we may all die.”

Every one of Rob’s fair; Kaunaoa, Bluebell, Saffron, Kika nodded. Every one of the other station faerie and those that had brought them home nodded. Martin’s fair also nodded. Tulip sighed.

“All right you crazy bastards.”

They closed, flying low and using every available cover. Only eight were fully trained with the bow, though ten carried them. But they didn’t have the problem facing the average archer. An archer in war is firing at something his own size. But a human is the size of your pinky at a hundred meters- the size of your thumbnail at five hundred. Hunting an elk is a target almost three times his size. But to a fairy a six foot tall man is the size of a ten story building at 27 meters, 500 meters to a fairy.

Try missing a ten story building at 500 yards.

To some of them, Kaunaoa Saffron, Jasmine and Lilac, flying and charging forward was as instinctive as it was for the Mongol horsemen of the 13th century. Bluebell was good from a stand, as was Magnolia Dandelion, Cornflower and Yucca.

Eight arrows laced with curare hit the three men. One tried to stand, tried to scream, but one of the 3 inch long arrows had penetrated his larynx. The other had buried itself in his chest nicking his heart. Another clutched an eye, two more buried in his abdomen. The third had been luckiest, or least lucky if you consider it. One arrow had hit his arm, a second his neck, the last his chest. He was able to stand and rack the bolt of his rifle before seven arrows made him a living pin cushion.

He was able to bring the weapon up to fire, but the curare sent him falling forward before he could pull the trigger.

Tulip motioned. “Orkihda, pick seven, Martin, you pick the same. The rest, you’re with me. Each of us takes one building.”

*****

The interrogator sighed. “I will rest my friend.” He brushed the hair from Rob’s face with a curiously gentle hand. “You however will not. Hamid here will keep you awake and in pain all night.”

The assistant moved over in front of Rob, smiling. Then he punched the pinned man in the gut.

The Interrogator closed the door. Hamid was a brute, but he would not hit him too often, just enough to keep their victim in searing agony all night.
He was considering what to do when he awoke as the half dozen faerie dropped on him like a bomb.

Orkhida and Su Ma locked their arms around the doorknob, flying in opposite directions. The door clicked open, and the others poured through the portal. Kaunaoa shrieked in fury, firing arrow after arrow with metronomic precision, five flying in less than fifteen seconds.

Bluebell flew past Kaunaoa to pin herself to Rob’s neck as the others shot and sliced his tormentor. It was only once the men were dead that the faerie of the party saw the true horror of what Rob had endured.

Orkhida hissed at the sight. Rob had still carried half a dozen of the sectioned spears, and the same of the swords. His tormentors had used this largess in the torture. Four of them had been used to pin his limbs, placed with malice aforethought to pin them with little chance to escape. The blades in the arms had been placed where the nails of the cross had been, right above the wrist joints instead of the palms as people usually believe. Modern testing had proven that a steel bar through the hand can be slipped out by ripping the tendons from the palm to the nearest web between the finger, whereas it would take someone inured to more pain that most humans would accept to break the wrist joint as well.

The feet were pinned as were the lower legs, the former to the floor, the latter to the chair legs. The tormentors had used the blades and first section of shaft, bending them into L shapes so that Rob couldn’t pull free. They had removed the straps primarily because any flinching Rob might have done would merely make his pinned limbs slide on the shafts, adding to the agony.
The swords had been inserted with surgical precision into the limbs, lacerating muscle whenever he reacted to further blows as the spears did, yet placed so that they would not tear into major arteries.

“We have to remove the blades before we shrink him.” Kaunaoa told the others. “They will rip him apart as he shrinks otherwise.”

“I understand.” Bluebell said. She leaned closer, whispering in Rob’s ear. “Rob, please, we have to remove the swords. Don’t move.”

Rob floated in a sea of pain. He ignored the voice. Bluebell was safe, already with Martin and Lady P. Part of SERE was learning to know reality from whatever was done in the program.

Americans have always had problems dealing with war, even if necessary. Part of the reason was that before WWII, the Americans had fought ’civilized’ enemies, those that followed the same rules the Americans themselves used.
But instead of being a wake up call for the American Military, they put the treatment of American prisoners by some Japanese as an aberration. This caused a reaction during the Korean War where men were brutalized and brainwashed into spouting whatever their captors told them to say. Men who had been so tormented then found themselves tried as traitors when they returned home. Korea and the start of Vietnam was finally that wake up call, and SERE was born.

SERE stood for Survival, Evasion Resistance and Escape. Started in the midst of the Vietnam War, it was first used to teach aircrews of the US Air Force to resist the tortures meted out by the enemy. American soldiers specially trained, were in charge. They would systematically brutalize their charges through the days of the course. Things that would horrify the average citizen; physical abuse, forcing them into close quarters to drive homophobic reactions to the fore, sleep deprivation, anything that could be used to break a man fast. It didn’t last that long, just long enough to give a man a taste of what could happen if they were captured.

By the mid 80s the Special Ops community and Navy had also taken up the practice. Regardless of the liberal ’politically correct’ training regimen of that era, it was one part no one had been able to remove. The military was adamant that it was needed, and every war the US had gone through since that long ago conflict had proven them right.

The primary thing to remember about it is you could always bow out, decide not to take any more when in SERE. Just say I quit, and you’re out. But for those in the course, it also meant that you had gone as far as you can go in a combat arm. They couldn’t send you into combat unless you knew what might happen and could accept it. An enemy would not be that polite.
Rob felt exquisite pain in his arms as the swords were pulled free. Of course they were only moving the blades somewhere else. Then he hissed as he felt the shaft in his arm rotating.

They worked with all of the haste they could muster, balancing it against the pain they were inflicting as they removed the metal pinning the man. Through it all, Bluebell whispered, tears running down her face as she gentled him like a horse being worked on by a vet. Once the last of the blades had been removed, they began to bite him.

*****

Tulip had it easier. She and the others with her went through the barracks and left death in their wake. Martin’s team faced the biggest problem. Four of the terrorists were in the midst of a game of Fis Kut another watching. For a long moment, Martin was sure they would have to attack and take their chances, but he noticed something that made him grin. “Lupin, Lilac. Go check the status of the others. I can take these five out myself if they are done.” The two faerie flew away.

It took a time. Lilac came back, face pale. She repeated the litany of what had been done to Rob. They weren’t done pulling the metal from him yet.
Martin growled in fury. “Get out of the room.” He snapped. Then he shot forward like a missile. What he had noticed was that one of the men had taken to wearing grenades in Velcro pouches like the warriors of Hollywood. He was leaned back watching the game, or had been; right now the man was asleep. Martin put everything he knew about the faerie invisibility into that one burst of energy. What he was doing now was expiation.

He landed, grabbed the ring, and put every bit of his energy into ripping it from the grenade. Instinctively he grabbed the ‘spoon’, the handle used by the thrower to hold down the primer until they are ready to throw. Weighing only an ounce, the form he was in wasn’t heavy enough to stop it from flipping away.

Four seconds; One of the men at the table heard the snap of firing pin against the primer, looking around to find out what had happened. The others stopped, still looking at their cards.

Three seconds; Martin let go of the spoon, wings frantically trying to direct his flight.

Two seconds; Martin stabilized. Less than a foot from him was a man’s face. He dived, passing between that man’s legs as he put a burst of speed into a frantic attempt to escape. The man turned in place, drawing his sidearm.
One second; The man that had heard the sound saw the spoon land. His eyes widened, and he ran toward the door.

It was a lifetime too late.

Zero.

In Hollywood a grenade makes a massive plume of smoke and a flash of light. But in real life that isn’t true. The bursting charge burns itself almost completely out leaving something like the plume of a completed cigarette in the air. At night there is a flash, but nothing compared to Hollywood’s creation. It is one of the quietest ways to die in combat a crack louder than a gunshot, but not much more. But it’s effect is all out of proportion.

The grenade went off, white hot shards of metal ripping through the room like a broom from hell. The sleeping man had barely awakened when the explosive ripped him apart. From the ribs upward his body was reduced to scraps of flesh and bone. Half of the casing, about a hundred grams of metal of metal shredded everything above the hips.

But that was only half of it.

The grenade was placed in the perfect position to clear the room, almost a meter and a half from the floor, above most things a man could use as cover. The shards, from the size of a fingernail to slivers raced outward at 6000 feet per second, the speed of the explosion itself. At that speed, nothing could stop them, they could only hope to deflect them. Three of the men were killed outright. The last was slammed into a wall with bruising force, small fragments tearing into his torso. The gun he had drawn went off.

Tulip screamed. She had just heard what had happened to Rob when the window on the last building blew out. She shot off toward the building, her team following.

The room was an abattoir. One man lay on his stomach, his spine shattered by the shockwave, still trying to crawl away from the blast. An arrow punched into him, and he kept crawling for a few seconds longer until the poison robbed him of first the ability to move, then life.

“I hope-” Tulip stopped as Lilac burst in through a hole in the wall.

“Martin!” She screamed.

“Oh Christ!” Tulip motioned. “Look around, find him!”

The search was swift. As the others began to arrive from Martin’s team they were thrown into the search.

Fellah bent, then shouted. “Here!” She grabbed the out flung hand of the man that had died because of the arrow, lifting. Gulaab arrived, and half a dozen more arrived even before the two could organize their efforts. The hand came up, revealing the crumpled body of Martin. Blood was pooled beneath him, and the faerie carefully rolled him over. Martin had been lucky, but luck had not been enough. A shard of steel, maybe the size of a pin head had punched through his stomach. To a human, it would have been something he would have survived and even carried without being removed through the rest of a long life. But to a fairy it was a projectile the size of a 20mm shell. Tulip stared in horror at the slightly smaller than an inch entry wound in his back, and the two inch hole where the metal had ripped through his stomach as it exited.

“Oh god.” She dropped beside him. “Quick, we need something to pack into the wound!”

“No.” Martin gasped. “Too late.”

“Please-”

“I don’t need to be a doctor to know it’s over.” Martin said. He reached out. “Rob?“

“He’s fine. They’re shrinking him right now.” Tulip was dismayed by the weakness of that grip.

“Tell Trillium I tried.” Martin whispered.

There was a blur of wings. Martin smiled, seeing Rob flying overhead. “I’m sorry, Rob…” He closed his eyes.

*****

The plane sat on the tarmac. Dominic paced slowly. He had driven them into the desert as asked, and had driven here as he had been told. They couldn’t take the chance that the terrorists had a proper over watch.

Now he regretted accepting that order. When he saw Martin-

He heard a buzzing sound. Over the tarmac he saw a series of lights approaching. 24 small lights. He had been ecstatic to discover that part of faerie sight remained when he had become human again.

Trillium looked up. She was past the tears, past the fear. All she had left was a leaden fear that Rob was dead. A flood of faerie came up the ramp, and she started to stand, terrified that it was all true. Then she saw Rob, her own face smiling as she flew toward her wife. Trillium shot into the air, and they met, hugging desperately.

“Rob! I-” Trillium found she still had tears to shed. They wept against each other, kissing and holding on for dear life.

“I have to apologize to Martin.” Trillium whispered. She felt Rob stiffen against her. “Rob?”

He took her by the hand. “Martin…” He whispered, pulling her toward a huddled group in the corner.

“He’s…” Trillium was stricken, remembering her last words to the man. She wouldn’t even have the chance to tell him she was wrong.

As they approached, Lupine looked up from the huddle where she was. Thistle looked up as well. Both faces were noncommittal.

“Oh Thistle, Lupine, I’m so sorry.” The women moved toward her, a solid wall of women. Trillium stood there woebegone. “I was worried about Rob. I said things I shouldn’t have. Now I can’t even ask for forgiveness.” Trillium cried into her hands as she crumpled to the ground.

A pair of hands caught her, and she looked up. Martin’s female form looked back at her. As Trillium stared in amazement, a set of paired wings flickered.
“Martin is gone.” She said, smiling at the girl. “Thanks to Rob Manzanita survives.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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