This week has gone nothing like what was set in my mind. I apologize in advance, but I am going to going with another blast from the past. This time from June 30, 2014. I should be back to regular stories and such next week.
Shards of Glass
Trillin adjusted the site again. “I can’t make the shot,” he said. “This is ridiculous.”
“What do you mean?” Astric took the rifle then helped him to his feet. “I know I’m the better shot but that shouldn’t even be an issue here.”
“Whatever. That shot is out of range.” He passed her the range finder. “Look for yourself.”
“Quit being a baby.” She knelt into a shooting stance and placed the rifle to her shoulder. Energy crackled from the rifle and a pulse of light shot into the distance. The light smacked dead center of the target. “Try it again.”
“Show off,” Trillin said. He put the rifle to his shoulder and aimed in on the target. She never had issues, he thought. She never missed, and he worked so much harder and still never measured up.
“Stop, don’t fire!” She bumped the rifle barrel into the air. His shot went wide, up into the bright morning sky. “You were way off target. See that deer there?”
“Sorry, I guess I was distracted.” Trillin set the rifle on the ground. “I need a break. We’ve been at this for hours.”
“Fine, let’s head back to camp and get some food,” she said.
“Why are you having so many problems with this?” Astric stirred the pot hanging over the gel fuel.
He dug into the dirt with a stick. His troubles didn’t change when she left. They haunted him even more when she came home. Astric lost her hand to the war. The metal and gear replacement was even better than her original flesh and blood. She never failed, even when she failed. His failures, well, they were still failures. All of his problems came back to this one. He lived in her shadow, dwarfed by her accomplishments.
“It just isn’t working, ok.” He turned away to watch the clouds chase the horizon.
“Fine.” She filled bowls with the stew from the pot. “Let’s eat.”
Trillin wanted to hate her, wanted to let it burn inside him till it became a white hot flame. But the growls in his stomach won the battle. He ripped a hunk from the bread by the gel fuel and handed it to her. “Let’s try again after this.”
Wind whipped through his hair as he sighted in. Clear sight picture, clear mind, he took a deep breath and held it. As he let the air flow out of his lungs he squeezed the trigger. The burst of energy burnt into the target, direct center.
“I knew you could do it,” she said. “You let yourself get so worked up.”
He fired again and hit the mark a second time. “Apparently I needed the reminder.” He set the rifle down and grabbed the range finder. “What do you think that is?” He passed the range finder to Astric.
The large object swooped down from the clouds in the distance. The best he could judge it hovered over their town, their home.
“We need to get home. I don’t like the looks of that.” She saw smaller shuttles dropping down from the larger ship. A faint line that traveled into the city below.
“What do you think it is?”
She studied his face. “I don’t know yet. But I’m going to find out.” She grabbed the rifle and ran to their sled. “Stay here, I’ll be back.” The engines roared to life and the sled lifted off the ground.
“Wait! You can’t leave me here!” His shouts fell on the glow of the burners as the sled shot into the distance. “Well, now what?”
Trillin remembered the pistol, buried in the tent in their climbing gear. Astric wanted to work on cliff assault runs later. She forgot the pistol in her haste to head home. He strapped the holster to his thigh and grabbed the climbing gear.
She would never approve of him making a climb alone but he could get a better view at the top of Grizzly Peak. She smothered him, he thought. The peak climb wasn’t even a shear cliff. More like a walking climb with a bit of safety lines thrown in.
He hooked into his climbing gear and used the spikes they left in the rock wall from yesterday’s climb. He reached the top of the rock wall a few minutes later, his fastest climb yet. Off in the distance he saw the glow of the sled’s engines.
After adjusting the range finder, he pinpointed on the ship in the distance. From this angle he saw the insignia emblazoned on the side. A Federation ship, and Astric knew it. She wasn’t concerned with the state of things in town. She went for war, and shut him out, again.
The sounds of the explosions carried by the wind all the way to Grizzly Peak. Then the smoke rose over the trees. Astric was gone from view, no chance to see her through the rising smoke. He watched as the smaller vessels rose back up to the other ship, silver drops in the black clouds of smoke.
Hours passed without a word from Astric. The glow of the fire left from the explosions lit the distant sky. He set off on foot through the woods to find his sister. The glow of the burning city would guide him on the way.
He donned his training armor, not as sturdy as full protective armor but still better than nothing. After switching on the low light setting of the visor he set off toward home.
The sled had followed a set trail back to their settlement, he did the same to avoid the thicker parts of the wood.
He found the sled at the wall outside the settlement. It no longer hovered, the nose of it jammed into the dirt as smoke rose from the engines. He looked but could not find Astric anywhere near the sled. “She could be alive,” he said.
Dawn crept over the tree line. No bodies, living nor dead were seen on this side of the wall. He used a side path to cross through the wall. The fire and smoke were not enough to prepare him for the devastation on the other side of the wall. Buildings were shattered. Bodies littered the landscape. The shards of life he once knew, were now crushed and shattered.
“Astric!” He called out for her and received no response. On the way to his home he worked his way through the debris. He searched for survivors along the way, but the streets were littered with the dead.
His home fared no better. Shards of glass and broken construction were all that was left. He found her in the wreckage. In her last moments she sought to upstage him once again. She left him away from the danger, somewhere safe, while she risked her life to save their family. Little good it did her. Now he lives but the rest are gone. All of them, gone.
He stepped back from inside himself and looked around the city again. Nothing was left, nothing but him. He was alone, lost and broken, the last shard of glass.
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