In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
By AL BRUNO III
Saturday, December 4th 1996
The Donnrup launched themselves through the trees. Despite their near human size they flew, their wings buzzing like empty madness, their carapaces shining dully. Their segmented eyes twitched this way and that, their gaping mandibles slavered. Their six limbs were frail-looking and their abdomens ended in blunt looking stingers. The Monarchs had evolved and designed these creatures in equal measure.
One by one they alighted upon Laurel House and began destroying it, windows were shattered, walls were torn away. A soundless, terrified scream worked its way up from the heart of Damiea’s Crucible. Laurel House shuddered and began to curl in upon itself.
The Drones surrounded the house, ready to capture anyone that tried to escape the Monarchs’ hunger. Piers Suano and Cheryl McGlade stood beside the gazebo and watched. Mr. Suano was standing straight, his arms crossed over his chest; Miss McGlade had her fingers steepled beneath her chin, every so often she would ask a question. “I can feel it crying out.” she said, “Can a god suffer?”
Piers Suano smiled, “Oh yes. I like to think they suffer more.”
“Because they don’t have faith to fall back on.”
Wood snapped, doors were torn away, shingles rained down onto the ground. The glass walls of the solarium splintered. The Donnrup clicked their mandibles with pleasure- obedience to their masters was the only joy they would ever know.
A figure leapt from the exposed upper floors and landed on the back of a Donnrup and tore at its wings. When that one began to plummet earthward the figure leapt to another. His long blonde hair streamed out from behind his head.
Mr. Suano drew his sidearm and waited until his target was in mid air again. He fired.
A streamer of blood erupted from Jack Waterford’s leg and he came down hard. The Drones- human looking, empty eyed and dressed in gray- were on him.
Wounded and unable to stand Jack Waterford fought back with the impossible strength that had been his birthright. His blows sent the Drones tumbling and left some too broken to stand.
Miss. McGlade drew her own pistol but Piers Sauno pushed her arm back down, “Wait.”
Screaming with pain Jack stood on one leg. The other was nothing but red from the knee down. A Drone tried to tackle him. Jack grabbed it by the throat and lifted.
A Donnrup slammed into Jack Waterford, its stinger tearing through the flesh of his back. A Donnrup dies after it stings but Jack died long before it. The toxins that had spilled into his body left his flesh smoldering from the inside.
Cheryl McGlade looked confused, “I thought we wanted them alive.”
“Not that one,” Mr. Sauno re-holstered his weapon, “we need knowledge and power to further our mission but the Monarchs don’t need the likes of Spring Heeled Jack.”