I promise the story will be over relatively soon! :)
Previously: The Embers are going after Titan and, on earth, Rune goes to stall the military who have found their vessel, Sariel.
Rune crept through the streets, keeping his footsteps light and barely visible. He could hear tires on the rough road; he moved to the side, watching carefully for some cause of the noise. Then they appeared; a line of black vehicles, each with two enormous antennae swaying on top as they sped down the road toward looming giant in the distance.
Rune bit his lip and growled. Any weapons they could muster couldn’t hurt Sariel, but they might block the way into the mech. I’m going to have to stall them. How am I supposed to do that?
The sarsh tapped his earpiece. “Tyrene!” He called. “We’ve already got police on our heels and Titan hasn’t finished whatever he’s doing. What do I do?”
“Nothing,” Tyrene’s voice came. “They can’t damage Sariel.”
“They could block our way into Sariel and if I let them near Sariel, the news of a giant metal robot will spread throughout this world in days, do you really want that?”
“Yes, the world needs to know that you all are here to help.”
“They’re just going to see us as threats. We’re masked and armed strangers. No one is ever going to see us as peacemakers.”
“... Then you’ll just have to prove their suspicions wrong.”
“I was born into an atmosphere of constant fighting, I don’t know how to do anything else.”
“Talk to them and don’t hit anyone.”
Rune growled as he watched the vehicles grow smaller and smaller into the distance. “Fine.” He snarled. This will never work. He thought as his legs began pumping; he moved faster and faster down the road after the chunky cars. Tyrene has some serious kinks in this big plan of his. The sarsh snorted. Not kinks. Holes. I don’t think he quite understands what he’s trying to do, and I don’t think I want any part in a vain hope.
The sarsh shoved aside his thoughts as he realized he was running level with the vehicle in the rear; his eyes widened.
“That’s not normal,” He mumbled under his breath.
In minutes, he had passed the vehicle up front; he looked back and realized the driver was noticing the trail of dust Rune’s invisible figure was kicking up. The sarsh grinned evilly. I may not agree with Tyrene, but at least I can have some fun with it while it lasts.
Rune moved directly in front of the vehicle and purposefully kicked up as much dust as he could while he ran; the vehicle instantly slowed, unable to see through the thick clouds of dust. The sarsh sped up, gazing in awe at his blurred surroundings.
He reached Sariel out of breath, his chest heaving and mouth as dry as his surroundings; his tongue was thick and pasty with dust. He quickly deactivated his helmet, spitting on the ground and reactivating it.
As he caught his breath, he watched the vehicles grow closer. Still invisible, the sarsh watched as three dozen men, thick with equipment and weapons, jumped from their vehicles, gazing in awe at the metal monster before them. They crept forward in several diamond formations, guns out. When they were five meters from Sariel’s feet, Rune appeared and their reactions were priceless. Their eyes, shadowed by their ridiculous round helmets, stretched so wide Rune thought they were going to pop out. Each man leveled his weapons at him.
“Identify yourself!” The man in the front shouted across the distance; it impressed Rune to hear no sign of fear in the man’s voice.
Rune sighed. He tapped his earpiece, keeping his voice low. “Tyrene, we’re going to have to make up some aliases if you want to keep us anonymous. What do I tell them?”
“This is a test, Rune. Figure it out.”
“Real helpful.” The sarsh dropped his hand down, turning his attention back the men before him. Their eyes were fixed on him, Rune realized he probably sounded evil through his mask; his naturally deep voice was even deeper and barely perceptible with the odd affect added by the mask’s speakers.
“Identify yourself!” The soldier roared. “I won’t ask again!”
“Wraith, Beacon of the Embers.” Rune called out, rolling his eyes so hard they hurt.
“Move away from the vehicle!” The man shouted.
The sarsh placed his helmeted face in his metal hand, letting out a long, frustrated breath. “Look,” He finally said, exasperated. “I’m not here to hurt anyone, I’m just trying to get someone and leave.”
There was silence and the fuzzing of the dispatch over one of the officer’s radio. They didn’t seem to know how to react to his statement.
“Step away from the U.S.O. Or we will shoot!”
Rune growled and muttered about ridiculous names; he didn’t move.
The sarsh laughed. They lifted their guns; they clicked and rattled menacingly. “MOVE NOW!!” The leader roared, getting rather desperate. The sarsh didn’t move.
The first bullet burst from the leader’s gun with a boom, Rune phased through it and it sped in to the desert. He crossed his arms. “Fire at will,” he told them sarcastically.
“OPEN FIRE!” The leader barked and the reports of thirty-six guns echoed through the bare landscape. When the ringing of their ears cleared, the officers heard an angry voice.
“You’re wasting your bullets.” The sarsh snarled, tapping his intercomm so Tyrene could hear his next words. “I was told to not to hit anyone, but I’m thinking I just might.”
“No, Rune!” Tyrene called over the intercomm. The young man grinned wryly and evilly. The silence worried Tyrene. “Rune.” He said forcefully. “Do not engage them. You need to be seen as peaceful.” The sarsh still didn’t respond; he tapped the intercomm off. Rune turned back to the soldiers, the leader was speaking urgently into his radio, and the sarsh could hear every word. The man was calling for backup. Rune growled and tapped his intercomm for Clint and Keila’s channel.
“We need to go, now.”
“Titan is saying his goodbyes,” Keila informed. “Are you coming back here to carry us back?”
“I can’t, I’m busy, you’ll need to walk.”
“.. Okay. Then we’ll be there in half an hour or more.”
The sarsh rasped his fangs against his bottom teeth in frustration; his hand went to his neck to rub the scars there, but he dropped his hand when his fingers met cloth. Tossing aside his frustration, he turned his attention back to the officers. They stood stock-still, guns at the ready, eyes fixed on the looming figure before them. Rune tapped his metal fingers against his metal leg, the noise echoed eerily through the barren wasteland. What am I supposed to do if I can’t fight? The sarsh mused to himself. He remembered Tyrene’s voice saying: “Nothing.” And he let out a breath. I’ll try Tyrene’s way. He crossed his arms, spread his legs and did nothing, staring at the rank of men before him.
Ten static minutes passed until Rune’s ears pricked as he heard the roar of two helicopters, coming fast. Great, Rune thought sarcastically. More company to join the party.
Clint glanced at Keila; both young people stood outside the warehouse building; they wanted to leave ten minutes ago, but Titan was still talking inside the building. “Rune said for us to hurry.” Clint said for the fifth time.
“I know, Clint.” Keila huffed. She peeked into the door. “Titan!” She shouted, even though it wasn’t necessary. “We need to go, now!”
“You have said this.” He responded ponderously.
“Well, I’m saying it again. We gotta go!”
“Now you have said it six times.”
“I’m going to keep saying it until you get your butt out here!”
“Very well, I am coming.”
“Finally!” Keila exclaimed. She inhaled sharply as she heard the deafening sound of helicopters going overhead. The young woman rushed outside, her head craning to see the two black aircraft thunder overhead, racing toward the gleaming giant in the distance. Keila squinted her eyes, trying to see the men inside.
There are mounted guns on each aircraft. Keila thought anxiously; she stumbled, her head spinning from looking up. Clint steadied her. “Are you okay?” He asked. She nodded.
“But Rune probably isn’t.”
Clint let out a breath, turning as the towering robot stepped from the building. “Let’s go,” The robot announced.
“Titan, did you see those helicopters?”
“They’re headed from Rune and he’s going to need help. Is there anyway for you to get us three miles north-west of the city limits quickly?”
“I could carry you and run, but, with your extra weight, we would arrive at the same time if we all ran.”
“That calculation doesn’t seem right, Keila and I can only run so long before getting tired.”
“My vital scanners show your muscle densities are abnormally strong for humans. I believe you can run faster than you think.”
Silence followed on the heels of Titan’s statement. “I guess you could be right.” Keila finally said, a little uncertainly. “But we’d better head out now.” The three stepped onto the road and, quickly gaining speed, ran to the aid of their friend.
Rune watched the helicopters advance. His heart pounded, though he knew they couldn’t hurt him or Sariel. In minutes, the choppers were overhead. The loudspeakers clicked, and a voice boomed over the sound of the blades spinning.
“PUT YOUR HANDS WHERE WE CAN SEE THEM AND SURRENDER PEACEFULLY!”
The sarsh did not alter his position and the officers quickly grew restless, several minutes passed by tentatively until finally the lead officer broke the trance as he moved his hand to his radio, the fuzzing was imperceptible over the roar of the helicopters. Unhearable to all but Rune.
“Target will not comply. Please advise.”
“Is target hostile?”
“One threat, no engagement. No movement in several minutes.”
“Get with in closer proximity and attempt verbal contact.”
“Alright, moving in.”
Rune, eavesdropping, felt a genuine smile ghost across his face. Maybe this was his chance to show them he wasn’t here to hurt them but to help them. The six men at the tip of the diamond formation broke off and advanced carefully. The sarsh watched them without fear, knowing their intentions. When they had closed half the distance between them and Sariel, the man who did all the talking halted his companions and kept moving. Alone. Towards the unknown.
“Where are you from?” The deputy asked, in a much calmer voice than he’d been using previously.
“Unfortunately,” Rune vocalized. “I can’t tell you.”
“Why is that?”
“You wouldn’t believe me.”
“I’ve heard some strange things in my career.”
“I am not from your world, that is certain.”
The deputy’s body stilled as he processed the information. “Well, I suppose that much was already obvious. Does this vehicle belong to you?”
“Partially, yes. It’s our transportation.”
The sarsh pursed his lips. He didn’t mean to tell them there were more, not yet. “They will be here soon.” The young man informed.
The deputy frowned. “Where are you from?” He repeated.
“... The inner solar system of the second District of the Edenstar.”
A lull in the conversation followed Rune’s statement and the police officer seemed unsure of how to respond.
“Okay, Wraith. Please accompany me and we can ask you a few questions at the station, alright?”
“I’m afraid I don’t have time for that, but I will assure you I am not here to harm anyone. We are here to bring peace.”
“Could you remove your helmet?”
“Why is that?”
“My.. friend, won’t allow it.”
“I see. Well-”
A voice called over the din of the choppers and interrupted the officer; Rune’s eyes flicked to the distance where three dark figures sped in a cloud of dust toward the formation of soldiers. Titan, nearly double the Embers’ heights, was far ahead of them. They neared and Keila threw up a shield around the three of them; they curved their path around the line, making their way to Rune.
“About time,” The sarsh said drily. “Get in, I’ll wrap up with this fellow.”
Everyone stared open-mouthed as the two Embers and four-armed robot entered Sariel’s leg and disappeared as fast as they had come. Rune turned back to them; he raised his voice, addressing everyone. “The Embers will return if you are ever in need,” He told them and with a snort of annoyance, he disappeared into the metal giant.
The sarsh stepped into the head, deactivating his helmet with a sign of relief. He approached Titan, greeting him with a nod. The sarsh was slightly disgruntled to realize he had to look up to see the android’s face. “I am Rune Samarvir, the Beacon of the Embers, a group of peace makers employed by Tyrene Anthalion. We are here because Tyrene hopes you will join us.”
“Where are you bringing peace to?”
Rune snorted. “I bet Tyrene wishes we accepted that easily. Find a seat. We’re taking off.”
Titan obliged, seating himself next to the sarsh. His purple eyes clicked and focused on Rune’s bandaged hand.
The Beacon glanced down and grunted. He’d forgotten about it in all the chaos. “I was.. training last night and rubbed them raw.”
“Hmmm...” Titan hummed thoughtfully. “That mark on your wrist, what does it mean?”
The sarsh twisted his wrist, gazing at the silver mark on his dark skin. “It’s my Ignition crest, it shows my flares and status in the Embers.”
“.. You do not seem proud to bear this mark.”
“I’m not. It means separating me from my family, my people. It means no rest and no peace. It means preventing me from mending my broken life.”
The android was infuriatingly silent. “I’m sorry to hear that.” He finally said. Quiet fell thick on the room and each inhabitant of the giant lingered in their own thoughts as Sariel lifted off the surface and began their journey back to Sulien with the newest Ember.