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The Knight's Tale (Part 3 of 3)

Knight'stale

Part 2

Part 3

January, 2030.  Mothership Epsilon.

Byron gasped for air as warm blood rushed back into his frigid limbs.  This wasn’t a new experience.  Several times the demons, or ‘Epsilonians’ as the creatures called themselves, had unfrozen him and asked him ridiculous questions.  Dressing standards, sometimes to speak lines, sometimes about his own codes of honor.   Over time, Byron began to understand that, as this wasn’t Heaven and he hadn’t been called here by God, that they had captured him at random.  He was fairly resistant to their interrogation.  They refused to treat him with chivalry, even when he demanded it, and thus he was resistant with them.  They’d tried hitting him with things to make him speak, but Byron soon became used to the artificial pain that their unholy maces brought.

Interrogation was what his life had become.  They woke him from his coffin, spoke to him, and then stuck him back in the coffin.  He couldn’t fight back, they always brought more than enough of themselves to overpower him.  So he had just had to bide his time, until he was given a chance to escape.  It hadn’t been that long.  A few weeks at most.  He only need a little bit longer until he had the chance he needed.

The lid of his magic coffin opened, and the bag like device that covered him, to protect him from the biting cold that also inhabited the coffin, unzipped.  Byron tumbled out, landing on his hands and knees.  His armor softened his fall- it had been one of his terms to speak, the aliens had been required to give it back to him.  He had no removed it since.  After all, they never let him sleep or bath.  Byron had thought that his lack of need for either of those things was an indication he really was dead, but they did feed him when he was out of the coffin for extended periods of time.  The food was awful, in fact he’d refused to eat it at first, but eventually he’d gotten so hungry there hadn’t been a choose.  He wondered what that meant, when he only needed to eat.  Perhaps he rested in the coffin?

Odd.  The chair wasn’t here to catch him this time.

“Negative, Quetzel.”  A voice spoke in oddly accented English from somewhere at the other end of the room.  “Objective is not here.  We have an unknown civilian on board, copy.”

“Roger that, Broadsword.”  Broadsword.  Byron mouthed the word, the image of a weapon churning in his head.  He glanced to the side, still half-crouched on the floor.  One man was standing over the podium that had power over the magic coffins.  He was tall, nearly as tall as Byron himself, and also nearly as built.  He wore armor, with segmented plates that locked over a tight full-body uniform, of sorts, and he wore a much decorated helm on his head with black, glass-like visor.  In fact, Byron realized, without the armor, the outfit would be very immodest.

There were three other men in similar attire in the room, all in defensive positions, watching the door.  They were baring objects of some sort in their hands that reminded Byron of the Epsilonian’s magic shooters.  Weapons that reminded him of crossbows, only much deadlier, and a crossbow was a coward’s weapon to begin with.  To achieve such feats was the work of the devil, certainly.

The speaker, whoever ‘Broadsword’ had spoken to, had a voice that sounded scratchy and indistinguishable.   I have heard similar speech before, Byron thought, when the Interrogator Epsilonian speaks to Security Control.  “Mark for extraction, Broadsword,” the mysterious speaker continued, “and escort to retrieval point.”

“Affirmative, Quetzel, over.”

The man looked to Byron now.  “Alright, buddy, you need’ta get up and come with me.  We’re getting the fuck out of here.”

Byron slowly rose to his feet, cautious of the man.  And he called Byron ‘Buddy?’  Did he think Byron was someone else?  Buddy was a peasant’s name, and Byron was most certainly not a peasant.  The implication of even that…

And how this man spoke!  He did not sound like a high-born noble at all, with his pedestrian slang.  In fact, how he spoke was unlike any dialect Byron had ever heard.  Was he from Ireland?  Perhaps Ulster?

But Byron was impressed with the man’s tenacity to actually dare and speak back to a knight, when such a thing was on pain of flogging.  But with Broadsword armored and armed in such a way, Byron assumed the man was a powerful warrior of some kind.  Byron was vaguely aware that this man was unlike anything he had ever dealt with before, given his weaponry, but he couldn’t dwell on things right now.

Byron fixed the man with a hard look, and was satisfied with Broadsword recoiled in surprise at Byron’s glare.

“Do not even think to call me ‘Buddy.’”  Byron reprimanded.  “And you will speak to me in a differential tone.”

Broadsword blinked, but shook it off quickly, “Sure thing, sir.”  Broadsword said, nodding, although Byron detected some exasperation from the man.  “Just come with me.”

Much better.  Byron thought and joined the crossbow-wielder.

“Jake.”  Broadsword barked to one of the hallway guarding men.  “Move forward with Santiago to advance positions.  You see any green fuckers, terminate on sight.”

“Aye, aye captain.”  The warrior known as ‘Jake’ responded, moving into the hall with this ‘Santiago.’  The pair moved in tight formation and were obviously used to the other’s movements, shown by how they coordinated silently.  Yes, Byron thought, these men are well-trained.

“What is this?”  Byron asked as he followed Broadsword.  Broadsword was taking the middle of the pack, with the fourth man guarding their rear.

“What are you talkin’ about?”  Broadsword asked, eyes scanning an intersecting hallway as Jake and Santiago came to a stop up front, ducking into corner cover to check for enemies.

“Your soldiers and you as well.  You are all quite well trained.  I assume you are some sort of quest to incur or liberate this… hellish place. ” Byron scowled.  He hoped this was a real rescue effort and not some game on the Epsilonian’s part.  If it was the latter, he had no choice but to play along.  He had laid witness to many of the feat they were capable off.  Reducing live to nothing with presses of buttons (he had learned the word for what he had once called ‘flashing squares.’  To him, they did not bare any resemblance to what one used to fasten a shirt.), and creating it with as much ease.

But if it was the former, then it was most certainly a God send.  He'd wasted away here for weeks, at the mercy of these foul demons.  His faith had most certainly been tested, as he had been stripped of all he had known and loved, and put into an unthinkable situation.  But now, at the prospect of escape, Byron’s hope and strength felt restored, his vigor renewed.  He yearned for the thrill of battle, to finally test his might against the demons once gain.  They had bested him once before, unarmed, and unprepared.  They would not defeat him so easily this time, with assistance and, hopefully, a weapon.

“Yeah…” Broadsword said in reply, disturbing Byron’s thoughts, sounding uncomfortable.  He glanced back at Byron, taking note of the knight’s armor.  “Just keep your head down and let us do our job.”  Broadsword continued.

Byron snorted at this man’s disrespect, but didn’t argue further.  He did indeed have a job to do, and Byron didn’t want to jeopardize anyone’s safety by disciplining the man on how to address someone of superior rank.  That, and he’d always had found the practice tiresome.  Now that he’d gotten over the initial surprise of it, he didn’t mind it too much.  Too much.

Byron was silent as they crept into the intersecting hallway, stoically silent.  Suddenly, one of the soldiers out front, Jake or Santiago, yelled.

“Hostiles, 12 o’clock!”  All four men turned in unison in that direction, and sure enough, there was one Epsilonian there.  Five more rounded the corner in less than a second.

“Open fire!”  Broadsword immediately shouted.  Byron wanted to duck and cover his ears as an infinite series of deafening bangs sounded in the tight hallway.  The echoes alone were enough to make want to crawl into a hole.  Which, of course, being a knight of England, he would never do.

The demons tried to move to cover to hide from the death that the soldiers’ weapons spat forth, but the hallway, like everything in this place, was Spartan.  The Epsilonians were cut to pieces, their too-large heads exploding as those took the majority of the impact, painting the sterile hallway with a bright, reflective green color.

“Nasty.”  Jake decided as he lowered his weapon slightly and spat.

“Check your mags.”  Broadsword instructed.  “Issam!”  Broadsword barked over his shoulder.

A man with dark, shiny olive skin stepped forward, the one who had been covering the squad’s rear.

“Advance down that hall and watch for reinforcements.  They heard us.  Give me a sit-rep on the alien scum’s weaponry.”

Issam nodded, and did so.  Once he was at the hallway’s corner, he called back to Broadsword.

“Area clear, weaponry looks functional, Lt.!”  Issam called back.

Lt.?  Byron thought, glancing to Broadsword.  What an unusual name.

“I don’t think command would mind if we appropriated some of that, would you?”  Broadsword asked.

Issam grinned.  “Not at all, sir!”  Issam crouched down, keeping an eye on where these reinforcements could come from, and snatched up a one of those banana-weapons, which he fastened to his belt.  The man grabbed a few metal balls as well, or what looked like metal balls, and attached them to a second belt that went across his chest.  Jake and Santiago were down the hallway after him, and did likewise with these bananas and metal balls.

Broadsword, however, turned to Byron.

“Can you shoot?”

Byron narrowed his eyes and canted his head.  “Pardon?”

“I’ve been trying to figure you out.  You’ve got battle scars and some pretty badass looking armor, but you don’t sound American.  In fact, you sound freaking British.  How the hell’d you get up here?”

Byron was confused.  American?  And these man was very… free with how he spoke.  Byron’s vague feeling of wrongness grew.

“I am British.”  Byron said, unable to keep the poshness out of his tone.  “And if by shoot you mean use one of those… monstrosities,” he gestured to Broadsword’s weapon, “then no.  Give me a blade and I will gladly fight alongside you.”

Broadsword seemed concerned or confused by that statement, which frustrated Byron.  He had been rather straight forward.  But, it seemed the man would not turn down his help, and called over his shoulder.

“Hey, Santiago!  You still got that chainsaw thing?”

“You mean the Ripper?”

“That’s the one.”

A metal, sword like object was tossed from Santiago’s hand and slide across the smooth floor to Byron’s and the Lt.’s feet.  Broadsword picked the weapon up.

“This is a Ripper.  It works like a chainsaw.  You press this button, the blade spins, and you cut stuff with it.  Maybe you cut some alien faces in half, Jake would like to see that.  But you owe me an explanation when this is over.”  Broadsword explained as he handed the weapon to Byron.

“If you get me out of this hell, lord Broadsword, I owe you my life.”  Byron replied.

Broadsword must’ve misunderstood Byron’s remark for humor, because he smiled.  “Name’s not Broadsword.  It’s Aiden.”

Byron nodded.  “I stand by my word, Aiden.”

Aiden smiled wider, which frustrated Byron, but the knight did not remark on it.   To do so would be… unchivalrous.

“Let’s move out!’  Aiden called past Byron, down the hall.  He looked to Byron one last time.  “Just try not to get killed.  If the brass found out that I gave you a weapon and then you got shot,” he whistled, “I’d be done.”

“Believe me, sir Aiden.  With me on your side, the small contingents these demons have to send against us will not last even five seconds longer on the lord’s earth.”

Aiden gave Byron a curious look, before moving past the knight.

Byron actually smiled a little himself, although for a different reason.  He imagined Aiden’s whole perspective would change once he saw Byron do battle.

The five men advanced down the hall, armed with metal balls and banana weapons.  Byron supposed they were all rather dangerous on their own, but their equipment would matter little against a true warrior.  Thus, he assumed they had skills equal to the quality of their arsenal.

As they advanced down the hall, a second wave of Aliens came out from another intersection.

“Contact front!”  There was a brief exchange of shots, before both parties dived for cover.  Except Byron.  As the Epsilonians hid, Byron charged forward, and pressed down the big, red button on his Ripper.  The blade began to whir, and Byron smiled.  It felt good to have a sword in his hand.

One demon popped out of cover to investigate the noise.  It was the first one dead- Byron lunged forward and swung.  The Ripper cut the creature’s head directly in half horizontally.  The top part of the head flew away, up into the air, and rolled across the floor.  Even as the body fell Byron moved forward quickly- he’d trained in armor since birth.  Ran in it, eaten in it, even sleep in it.  It was all to make a knight almost uncomfortable without his armor, like he needed his suit of mail to tether him to the earth.  With it on, Byron wasn’t slowed at all.  He was quick, dangerous, and near unstoppable.  For so long his hatred for these creatures had been boiling over.  And now he could finally have his revenge.

The other Epsilonians shrieked, and Byron grinned as the rush of battle filled him.  He spun among swings of maces and banana-bow shots.  One blast from a weapon hit him, but it just singed his armor.  A good cleaning was all that damage would need to be taken care of.  He hacked and sliced, and soon all that remained of these creatures was a pile of dismembered corpses as his feet.

Byron looked up to see the four soldiers slowly moving out of cover, and watching him with wide, shocked eyes.

“Sweet Jesus…”

“Just… shit.”

“Yeah, let’s put him out front.”

“That was five seconds.”

Byron regarded them with a look.  “I like to be a man of my word.”  He gestured down the hall.  “The interrogation room is that way- I will deign to avoid it.  However, this way,” he gestured to the hallway’s other end, “if clear, is our best chance at an escape. Will you lead, master Aiden?”

The Lt. watched Byron with an unreadable expression as he passed the knight.  Jake slapped Byron on the shoulder as he passed, to which Byron almost replied with a blow to the face, until he realized it was a friendly gesture of some sort.

The group went five steps in triumph of their recent victories, before the lights cut out.

“That you, Issam?”

“No, sir.”

Then the screaming started.  A chill went down Byron’s back.  It wasn’t human screams, or the shrieks of demons.  It was something different, something far worst.  It was pitched far beyond what one could ever expect and it carried on, a loud, blood-curdling noise.

“What was that?”  Jake whispered.  The screams got closer, and thus louder, and Byron could feel the tenseness of the soldiers as unseen attackers grew close.

“Lights on.”  Aiden instructed.  Beams of light shown from the Lt.’s helmet, and soon the other soldiers’ as well.  Similar lights also extended from the fronts of their weapons.

The light immediately got the creatures charging towards them.  They were similar to Epsilonians, with the large heads and black eyes, but they were taller and had more impressive musculature.  They were also entirely unclothed, although Byron was relieved to see they had no sex to speak of.

As they had drawn closer the screaming ceased, the only sounds audible being the soldiers’ frightened breathing and the quick footsteps from this new breed of demons’ bare feet.

As the light caught them the creatures stopped, raised an arm, pointed, and screamed.  The very sound itself was bone chilling, the blank, horrifying expressions of the monsters amplified it tenfold.

Podpeople
“Mother of-”  Someone started.

“Waste these fuckers!”  Aiden shouted, all military pretense forgotten as they faced this new terror.

The hallway exploded in noise and light as the four soldiers cut down the new terror. Byron raised his Ripper out in front of himself defensively, and several of the creatures skewered themselves on it, quickly cut to shreds.  They must’ve had some kind of nocturnal vision, as they could see Byron in the darkness.  He, however, had to go off the lights of his allies.

One pair of lights emanating suddenly shined about sporadically, before both nodes toppled to the ground.  Human screams joined the fray. There were horrific munching and snacking sounds as the creatures tore the poor man to pieces.  Byron had been wrong.  The Epsilonians weren’t demons.  These things were.

“Fall back, god damnit!  Fall back!”  Aiden shouted.  The remaining three soldiers and Byron slowly retreated backwards down the hall, weapons still ablaze.  The three had run out of ammunition for their magic crossbows a short while ago, and had switch the Epsilonian banana guns.  Blue flashes of light burst forth from these, and they more easily cut down the demons.

Eventually, they retreated far enough to enter a section of the ship that hadn’t been cut of its power, and brilliant, glorious light shown down onto the hallway.  The three soldiers had lain waste to the demons, but one more charged from the darkness.

Aiden shot it directly in the face and the creature tumbled to the ground.

“Thank you…”  It moaned in a chillingly human voice as it died.  Byron looked away.

The three soldiers and knight stood in the now all too quiet hallway.

“They wasted Santiago!”  Jake suddenly shouted, having completely lost his calm as his fear boiled over.  The soldier paced, his breathing unsteady.

“Keep your head on, Sergeant.”  Aiden reprimanded.  “There’ll be time to mourn later.  But unless you want to join him, you need to stay focused.”

Jake took a deep breath, and nodded.

“We’re going to do a full on fallback to the extraction point.  Byron here has information on the ship,” Aiden paused to glance to the knight, who nodded hesitantly, “and he might be able to give us the information to rescue the VIP.”

“Excuse me a moment.”  Byron stepped forward to Aiden.  “What do you mean by ‘ship’?  Are we on a… vessel of some sort?”

Aiden didn’t seem surprised Byron was asking.  “We are.  I take it you were abducted from Earth?”

Byron nodded.

“You’re on an Alien Mothership.  Mothership Epsilon, to be exact.” 

That registered with Byron.  It seemed to coincide with everything he’d heard.

“What do you mean by Alien?”  Byron asked confused.  “And why mother-“

There was suddenly a loud noise at the other end of the hall, and all four men whirled around.

Two Epsilonians stood there.  Or, Byron assumed them to be Epsilonians.  They weren’t wiry at all, and tall, about the height of Byron himself.  They wore very expensive looking armor that was plated, and their large heads were shielded by metal.  The air around this new demons shimmered and shown with a vibrant light, which Byron knew meant they were working some sort of dark magic.  Their left arms were covered in some sort of device, which Byron found curious for the second before they raised the devices at the humans and started blasting rapid fire beams of light at the four warriors.

Issam went down, two of the beams catching him in the face, first cracking his helmet visor and then smashing into his flesh.

“Fall back, to the interrogation room!”  Aiden snapped, firing at the two Epsilonians as he retreated.  The projectiles fired from his weapon harmlessly bounced off their armor, as if they had lost all momentum.

The three men turned through the hallway, heading in the direction opposite of what Byron had intended.  Not that it mattered.  Anyway away from these monsters was the right way.

As they reached the interrogation room doors, Jake went down, the light-beams having cut through his armor and sliced into the flesh underneath.  Aiden stepped forward, but Byron caught Jake as he fell, easily hoisting the smaller man up onto his shoulders.  He rushed into the interrogation room, the magic doors opening for him, and Aiden stepped in behind.  The only advantage that they had was that, in their magic armor, the Epsilonians were slow.

Aiden went over to the control panel for the door, and quickly pressed a few buttons to seal it.  The room was sparse.  There was a single chair in the middle of the room and that was it.  The demons didn’t use torture to interrogate.  They might hit with their electric maces sometimes, but that was it.  They preferred to simply be incessant and repeat themselves, until you answered.  They were always patient.  Waiting.

“We will not last long in here.”  Byron said as he set Jake down onto the floor. “They’ll have an army at this door in a moment.”

Aiden, shockingly, ignored him.  Instead he went over to Jake.  The man was pale and unconscious, with several massive, but cauterized, holes through one of his thighs.  This man would never use that leg again, if he even survived.  Aiden’s mouth drew into a tight line as he surveyed the wounds.  There was nothing they could do to help the man at the moment.  Whether he lived on died was in the Lord’s hands now.

Byron moved to and rigidly sat down in the chair that he had been strapped to so many times before.

They were both silent for a moment, before Aiden spoke.

“Who are you?”

Byron snorted at the directness of the question.  “I am Sir Henry Byron Fitzroy.  I serve under King Richard the Lionheart of England.  From where do you hail?”

When Byron looked down at Aiden, the soldier was staring at Byron with wide, shocked eyes.

What?”  He asked, in utter disbelief.

“You do not believe me?”

“Wha- Richard the Lionheart?  Like, the king?”

“Of course.”  Byron said, amused.

“From the Crusades.”  Aiden said, getting over his surprise at Byron’s answer and now was just looking at the man skeptically.

“Is there any other?”  Byron retorted, smiling a little.  Did Aiden know of any other King Richards?  It was a simply concept.

“Byron.”  Aiden rubbed his tense brow, slowly standing up.  “What are you talking about?”

Byron raised a brow, slightly confused.  “What do you mean?”

“Is this some kind of joke to you?”  Aiden demanded, lowering his arm and staring at Byron with fierce eyes.  “Two men are dead and you’re joking about being a-a knight?!”

“I do not jest of such things.”  Byron said, looking back at Aiden coldly.

Aiden grimaced and nodded mockingly.  “Oh, really, so you’re a thousand years old?”

Byron froze, his sense of wrongness finally answered.  “What?”

Aiden just rolled his eyes, and went back to tending to Jake.

Byron sat, eyes widened, clenching the arms of the chair.

One thousand years.  Yes… the scary thing was… that it made sense.  The changes on the ship as he came in and out of the coffin.  The fact that he was never interrogated by the same Epsilonian- their appearance was no different, but their voices were.  His lack of need to sleep.  But 1000 year!?

When he went in the coffin he was frozen and then thawed back out at the Epsilonian’s disposal.  He had died.  Multiple times now.  They froze him to death and then brought him back to life.  The creatures who inhabited this vessel really were some kind of devils.

“Byron.”  It wasn’t Aiden who spoke, but a muffled voice from the other side of the door.  An Epsilonian.  Reinforcements had arrived.  “Are you in there, Byron?”  Byron recognized this voice.  It was that of his newest interrogator.  Meaning it hadn’t been that long since he’d been thawed out, last.

Byron slowly rose from the chair.  Aiden had drawn a weapon, human’s version of a banana gun, and aimed it at the door.

Byron replied.  The implant in his head gave him the ability to utilize Epsilonian speech, their “phonetics” as they called them.

“I am here.”  Byron chittered in reply.  Aiden slowly turned around, watching Byron with shock.  Byron held up a hand for Aiden’s silence.

“Come out, Byron.”  The Interrogator said.  “We won’t hurt you.”

“I’m afraid I cannot do that.”  Byron replied.  “If these doors open, you will harm these men in here.”

The Interrogator was silent for a moment.  “So?”

“I cannot allow that to happen.”

“You have no choice, Byron.” The Interrogator said, annoying Byron with the repeated use of his name.  Byron was beginning to wish he’d just given them a fake one.  Then it would’ve been at least a little amusing when they used it so much.  “These doors will open eventually.”  The Interrogator continued.

Fear flashed across Aiden’s features at the continued conversation.  It must’ve been frightening, to have heard such a foreign language spoken between two entities with unknown motives.  Byron had felt this same fear when at a peace council and two Muslim kings spoke together in Arabic.

“Then I will fight you.”  Byron said with determination.  “And you will be forced to kill me.”

The Interrogator fell silent.  “The humans will live.”  The Interrogator finally relented.  “But you must open this door, Byron.”

Byron looked down at Aiden, who was closing the lids of Jake’s eyes.  The man had passed on, evidently, into God’s kingdom.

“It says it will spare you, if I open the door.”  Byron said, now speaking in English.

Aiden looked up at Byron and the knight swore he saw tears in the soldier’s eyes.

“Do we have a choice?”  Aiden asked quietly.

“I am a God fearing man, master Aiden.”  Byron crouched next to the soldier.  He reached out and grasped the barrel of Aiden’s unsheathed weapon.  Aiden’s own grip tensed on the weapon and the two met eyes.  “But there is always a choice.”

Aiden looked from Byron to the pistol.

“Will they torture us?”  Aiden asked.

“Undoubtedly.”  Byron replied.  “But it is like the bite of a fly.”

Aiden nodded slowly, and then set the gun down.  “I… won’t choose the coward’s way out.”

Byron smiled just slightly.  “You are a man to respect, Lt. Aiden.  Do not fear: God will be with you, always.”

Aiden nodded, and then looked down at Jake’s corpse, steeling himself.

Byron rose and moved to the door, before pressing the button.  Byron stepped out.  Immediately an energy mace clocked him on the back of the knee, sending him to the ground, and then a second blow hit him in the head, knocking him unconscious.

_____________________________________________________

This isn’t the last you will see of Byron (or, possibly, Aiden as well).  This is all just an introductory for him and for the world of Fallout: Final Frontier.  Thanks for reading!

Fallout Final Frontier 1

Courtesy of The Retroriffic Man

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