A Big Shiny Blue Marble Ch. 01byTaLtos6©
***I had wanted to write a special piece for my 100th posting. It began simply enough, as most of my poor offerings do, with an idea and me sitting down to begin. Well, I liked it so much that I just kept going, and it's turned into something far more than I'd ever envisioned. So here I am, and instead of my 100th posting being the tale that I had in mind, it's going to have to be the prologue for it.
Just a word to readers though; by all means invest in the characters, but this spans a tortured globe and there are many, so if the focus leaves some that you like for a while, most of them make other appearances before the end. Be advised though that life here is still a contact sport, and not everyone makes it to the end alive. Looking back, I'm a little surprised at the range of character types that have found their way into this, so if you're not a fan of one sort, keep going, I've probably got something that you like in one of my characters, lol.
I have tied a few places and historical events into this, but only as signposts in a work of fiction and fantasy. This tale is set on Earth some four hundred years from now, but technology has crumbled away for the most part, though it still exists after a fashion here and there and I've tried not to paint you a bleak post-apocalyptic world. Instead, I offer a view at a world that is recovering and has become a green place once more where some surprising creatures thrive. The technology changes from one group to the next, but we're mostly back to hack and slash - or swashbuckling, if you like that better.
If you like to think in terms of couples, then this might be looked at as several tales, but it works toward the final end always. Where I've left a couple for a time to move the others ahead, I've tried as much as I could to do it so that I could read it myself and apply a 'The End' right at that point for that pair or group, so that it didn't feel to me to be hanging. 0_o
The telling of it wasn't like one of those tales which begin along the lines of "Once upon a time." That's how fairy tales begin, and fairy tales usually have at least something of a happy ending for someone.
This began more like a war story, and a lot of those start something like, "So there I was..."
Either way, things changed markedly for mankind and their fellow travelers on the spinning ball known as Earth after a set of events some four hundred years ago now. Astronomers had long predicted the arrival of a comet and that if there wasn't an actual collision between, then it would be a very near thing indeed.
As it happened, it was the very near thing.
Everything on Earth - every plant and tree, every living organism and inanimate object, travels at over thirteen thousand miles per hour as the planet hurtles along through its orbit. Since it's been going on for longer than any of us have been alive and it never changes, we don't notice it, having no nearby points of reference anyway. We're all conceived as the result of a hopefully happy act of sex somewhere, we live our lives and then we pass on -- all while traveling at that same constant velocity the whole time.
On that fateful day as the comet passed by the Earth, there was enough of an impact in terms of the gravitational pull of a large object hurtling by only a few thousand miles away that it was felt on Earth as a shift which resulted in the loss of over a billion and a half of its human inhabitant's lives. It was something like living on a table where someone had suddenly moved the tablecloth back and forth once. It wasn't like an earthquake and given the mass of the planet, it wasn't even a very large shift, though some of the effects were the same; it just moved several inches in one direction and then back again to roughly the same spot a few seconds later.
But compared to that slight and small shift, the most violent earthquake would be thought of as gentle.
With the shift, the tectonic plates on which we all live moved a little and from that, the real earthquakes began seconds afterward and the aftershocks went on for weeks. The majority of the world's buildings didn't survive it. One sixth of its human population didn't survive the first week either. Tsunamis occurred all over the world anywhere from minutes to hours afterward. The loss was incalculable.
And that was only the beginning.
The state of the world's weather systems changed somewhat, though they did return more or less to normal within a few years. But societies were upset by the effect, the social order evaporated in many places as billions of people everywhere sought to go on living in a world where, for example, the economies faltered and failed, diseases such as cholera ran rampant and unchecked in places where they had been considered eradicated for so long. Wars began over dwindling food and petroleum stocks. Billions more starved.
And the global pandemic so long predicted chose that time to come to pass as well.
But that hadn't been the only thing changed. It was as though the shift had caused something else to change. Man came into contact with creatures which were, up to that point thought to be the products of the imaginations of writers and storytellers. There really were elves, it seemed, all manner of them. It caused a few issues, since to them, we were the ones who had made a sudden appearance and not the other way around.
Though most of the breeds considered mankind to be a collection of benign dolts who were to be humored if one was feeling charitable, there was one type which gave humans a reason to avoid them at all costs, showing humans all that they needed to know about why the Drow ought to be left alone.
It happened seldom that dark elves ventured forth on the surface of the world at night, but the mere sight of one usually meant that one's death was not far off, because if one of them had allowed themselves to be seen, it almost always indicated that their being seen was unavoidable and quick murder was the remedy for that.
Other creatures appeared with the elves, and though it was a stretch, we all called those ones goblins.
But there was more to come.
Other races from other worlds began to appear over time. In the case of two of them, it was a rather eventless thing, since for the most part, they left humanity alone. Beset with all sorts of ever-changing problems, humankind couldn't even come up with an appropriate name for them which we could all agree on.
We just called them demons. It was a little odd, given that they weren't particularly malicious to us. It was just the word used most often because that was how the things looked to us, and so it just stuck.
There was a third race which also made its appearance, and the trouble was that it was almost impossible for humans to tell one kind from the other. Most people thought they were the same thing. But where one was slightly benevolent or just ignored us, the other was murderous to humans wherever they appeared, howling and raging as though completely mad, most of them.
All of this changed many things.
What had once been a commerce-driven world reverted rather quickly backward, skipping the industrial phase altogether and becoming an agrarian one again. Very few people manufactured things now, since there was no way to distribute the products, and there was no longer any form of universally accepted currency, other than base metals, gold, silver and copper. The horse experienced a re-emergence as the most valuable asset that many people could have. Man was back to being a tiller of the land to keep himself and his family alive, since the next step was to go back to being a hunter-gatherer once more.
But all of that had occurred over four centuries ago now. The much-humbled and reduced human race was still struggling to stay alive.
In a place somewhere in what had once been the American Mid-West, for example, the mess had gone on now for two days. Almost all of the humans in the town were dead, the few remaining alive had hidden themselves in places where few of the demons would think to look -- or perhaps it was because their bloodlust was nearly sated.
Arriving here unwanted and full of fear, the twenty-seven individuals had looked around themselves and felt their madness rising. None had wanted to be here. None had done anything but mind their own business on the plane where they belonged. Suddenly, they were here, and the humans had attacked them on sight out of fear.
It all brought out their rage. It summoned the madness from within them all. After seeing the first of their kind fall to the arrows, it pushed them over the edge. They were close enough to it anyway.
All that was left now was a ruined village. A few of the demons were fucking mindlessly in the street here and there, since it seemed to be the only thing left for them to do.
A slightly older female looked off into the distance and saw a dark speck out there. She wasn't certain, but it seemed to be getting larger.
She looked away, wanting only a little fresh meat and a place to sleep. She'd think things through tomorrow after resting. She had no idea where to go or which direction she ought to travel in, but that didn't matter anymore, did it? She was here -- far from her home and her family. She walked off down the street, stopping to look down at the still-warm body of a young human male. She smelled their blood everywhere, but this one couldn't have been dead for more than a few minutes. They tasted best to her like that, not that they tasted all that appetizing to begin with, but it was an easy meal.
She grunted and figured that she ought to eat, so she tore a little of his flesh off and began to eat it while she thought. While she was at it, she saw his genitals and had another passing thought, remembering her male back home.
It was a concept that she'd now have to struggle with, doubting that she'd never see him again. She crouched and began to gorge. She had no idea where she might find fresh food after this.
After a few minutes, she felt the hopeful advances of a male as he ran his fingers over her sex from behind a little roughly. She looked back, her eyes gleaming at him. He looked good enough, she thought. Maybe they could pair up as they traveled, looking for a way out of this insanity. At least as a pair, he'd be strong enough to keep the rest off her ass. He looked big enough and he seemed to be a little older too. That likely meant that he knew the value of a female like herself and the way that she could make him feel.
So why not?
She asked herself the question and had no answer against it. She was alone here with a pack of strangers. They were her kind but she didn't know any of them. She could do as she wanted. She was already wet for him, and if he stayed with her they might stay alive a little longer. She took it as a good sign and nodded to him that she accepted him. He was obviously a successful male if he'd lived this long.
She shifted to position herself a little better for his access and moved her tail aside as she raised her hips for him. The motion brought her face close to the warm body before her. She groaned as she felt herself being mounted and she lowered her face against the meat there. She opened her mouth and chewed off the soft bits of this dead one's masculinity, hurrying to get it down before her want rose any higher. She knew that she'd be too busy bucking back as she howled to want to eat any more.
At least she had this for the moment, she thought as she felt her lust rising. This male knew a thing or two about doing this. She could tell and he felt so thick and hard inside of her. She listened to the soft slap of his hips against her bottom and felt the weight of his balls as they nudged her with every stroke. Her breath hissed in and out through her teeth. So good.
She was vaguely aware of the screams of a few of her kind from behind her. They sounded a little odd, but then they'd all been shrieking their lungs out in their blood fever, hadn't they? She grunted as she pushed back, getting into the feeling now. She really hoped that this male would keep her. She liked him already.
But the screams grew louder and before she could grow alarmed over it, her new male stood behind her, thrusting once before he stopped. She wondered about it. He couldn't have finished this quickly, could he?
But then he was gone -- out of her and she heard him fall. She spun her head around and saw a stranger.
He was tall and he wore clothes, so he must be one of the humans. She felt her anger at being interrupted rising like steam inside her. She didn't think about just how this one had killed the male, she just knew that she hated him. She drew her arm back and bared her teeth.
But then everything went black and she felt herself slowly drifting home.
Shaevre was awakened by a crew member very politely. It surprised her a little, being a far cry from the manner that she was a little more used to in her previous career. Back then, it had been 'hurry up and wait', a lot of getting prepared for something which usually ended up as a hell of a lot of waiting, endless stretches of boredom punctuated by heart--pounding, ear-splitting, tendon-snapping periods of what amounted to sanctioned murder on a large scale.
Back then, she remembered -- and not all that fondly, it was sleep whenever you could, and if they needed you, the best wake-up that you could hope for was a nudge against your foot and when you opened one eye, it was to see who it was that you wanted to kill for waking you if this was someone's idea of fun. But it usually wasn't.
Most often, it was somebody barking that your section was next. You'd yawn then, and it would be your turn to wake your group, give them about three minutes to check their gear and then it was time to bellow yourself, hustling them forward to the ramp with a loud "Eyes open, ears up, and nobody forget their count! You'll need them for payday. You're paid for what you kill, so guns up!"
She stretched and nodded as she got up from her seat, "How long until we disembark?"
"You've got over one period, fighter. Lots of time to come forward and have a hot drink with the flight crew. This one's a beauty to see on the way in and it's not to be missed. Don't worry, we're light on this run for passengers. There's only you to drop here," he smiled a little wolfishly, and she returned the grin.
"This run's mostly just a resupply drop for us, one skiff-load down and back up," he said, "What are you going to be doing here, if I can ask it?"
She shrugged, "My first duty assignment contract. I have to pull security on the Merren outpost, but there's a bonus in it and I get light duty rotation out of it. There's one of their rangers here and he has a little one."
She smirked, "I get to be her bodyguard. I really hope she's not one of the more exalted ones. I've got no patience for those shits and their kids can't be better can they?
It's a living, I guess," she said.
"You're not long out on the roads," he said, "Everything about you says military service. What unit, if the memory isn't too fresh?"
"Forty-third EB, First company," she said as he guided her forward, "Section lead, Meg gunners, plus a few specialties."
The crewman stared, "You're a Death hound then."
She nodded, "I've only been out for half a cycle. There's not much fighting these days, and even a Death hound's got to eat. That's why I'm working the Diplomatic Corps now." She looked down curiously at the pawed hand that he offered, but she returned the handshake.
"I've only ever met one before," he nodded with a little bow, "and you're far better looking. It's a bit of an honor for me to meet you."
"Thank you," she smiled, "But I consider it an honor to still be breathing. It kept me fed, but I've got a little hearing damage on the left side from wearing a communicator and it's a little worse on the right from the noise of the barrels and the ejection port.
I'm just starting to have dreams where I'm not lugging the thing around everywhere anymore. Now if I can just have one dream with a nice male in it where I don't hear that fucking gun scream when he opens his mouth to speak to me, I'll be happy."
He led her farther forward and she was shown to a jump seat on the flight deck and it felt really nice to her that they'd show her this much consideration. Back home, nobody gave much of a fuck if you were a veteran, unless the news was full of doom and gloom and the possibility of an invasion.
Then you were popular, she smirked to herself.
After getting belted in, she saw the night side of the world that she'd hired on to live on for the next while. From here, it didn't look all that much different from any of the other shitholes that she'd been sent to. Then again, this time she wasn't going down to fight. That was a big plus for her right there.
She looked over at the form in the other jump seat across the aisle from her and her jaw began to drop. It was her overall commander, Arrax. He was ex-mil as well after a distinguished career as an old Death hound himself, though he'd been long out of the unit during her time. Still, he'd been a walking legend to her then, she'd read everything that there was published about him.
She'd just never thought that he'd be this ... ruggedly attractive to see him in the fur.
"It's a lot better-looking on the light side," he smiled to her, "and you may close your pretty mouth, fighter, "he grinned, "Though I can say that it's an honor to still get looks like that these days.
I thought that you'd like a look at the place as we come around for the low orbit descent," he said, "You'll be here for a while, I think, not that the duty befits someone like you. But I know the ranger here and I've met the girl. You won't have any trouble."
Just them, they came above the horizon and she gasped, staring, "It's so ... blue and shiny, like a plaything, a --"
"The human children here call them marbles," the commander said, "this view gets to me every time."
"A big shiny blue, ... marble," she said a little uncertainly.
"You'll see that it's a lot greener lower down," he smiled.
As she rode the skiff down to the planet, she saw that Arrax had been right. There was beauty everywhere that she looked and where it was green, it was almost green enough to hurt. As they rolled over the top of the low mountain, she could see the outpost up ahead.
It looked well cared-for and she heaved a sigh of relief. Some of the Merren outposts that her kind staffed for them had to man the walls day and night to keep whatever was outside -- outside. That didn't look as though it was going to be an issue here.
As the shapely ex-fighter bent to shoulder her bag of gear, he noticed the looks that she got from the crew members on the ramp and smiled. He had the same thoughts as they did, and he found himself wondering a little. But then he tossed the notion and smirked to himself.
With her background and experience, Shaevre could eat these males for breakfast and not in a good way.
He liked her a great deal and she looked so good to him as she stood tall and adjusted her gear on her shoulder and picked up her bag. She was muscled and her coat shone in the daylight of this world all the way down her long legs to where her clawed feet gripped the decking a little.
Aside from the memory of the bitch that he'd loved so much long ago, Shaevre was the most lovely Xer that he'd ever seen.
"Will you be staying long, Commander?" she asked, trying not to look too hopeful.
Sadly, no," he said, "I'll only be here until they offload the supplies and then I must go. That will leave me about enough time to make an appearance and scare the shit out of the worthless turds which pass for a Xer contingent here." He sighed with a smile, "I love my job."