Accelerant and Purge
A Chronoverse Short
Written by Xial Lunashine in 2015
High above the slumbering city, a single craft drifted in for a landing, its sleek shell barely discernible in the night sky, save for a slight shadow blotting out the stars above.
With barely disguised grace, the flight craft came to rest atop the tallest building in the city, the ground still a long way away. A fatal second step awaited anyone daring to traverse too close to the pentagonal edge of the tower, the pavement so far away that even the ground vehicles looked like a colony of colorful ants scurrying about at the distance.
The hull of the craft opened with a gentle susurrus and a tap of plasteel on plasteel, the two semi-metals making quiet contact as a large body shuffled down the ramp, followed by a smaller body.
“So, GreatShark,” the smaller body began, a lithe, and decidedly feminine figure in sleek, matte black compression armor making its presence known as she walked around the much taller figure, “You going in off the accelerant on this one?”
The larger figure hesitated at the end of the ramp for a moment, a helmet held under its arm, fit to protect the shark’s head as it swiveled quietly to face the voice. “Depends. Civilians present?” the voice rumbled, a deep, gravel-churning baritone that barely carried over the sound of bubbling water.
“None in the most recent report unless we go down below the 40th floor,” came the reply from the shorter fighter, who had begun stretching in what could only be a showy manner as she arched backward to a nearly impossible to sustain angle.
“Objective’s on the 84th floor, though, right? If so, then I’m goin’ in on it, Stiletto,” the shark replied, black eyes squinting in the dark. “Yeah, there’s 44 floors between us and the civvies, but makes no sense to go in too cautiously. If we’re here for business, we need to rock our shit, get what we need, and get out. If I’m going to keep up with you, then so be the juice. Not as small as you foxes, and this armor’s pretty heavy, to boot. Don’t ask about the gun.”
As he spoke, the bubbling sound’s intensity picked up, the aqua mantle around his neck nearly percolating with the attempt to keep up with his oxygen needs during his short speech. He reached up for his throat, squeezing the mantle a couple of times before he continued, “Ugh, they need to finish my series 3 mantle soon. You almost done being a rubber band?”
A slight snort accompanied the fox’s chuckle, her hand reaching up to gently push behind one ear. Within moments, a gelatinous substance covered the blue-gray fur there, quickly pouring itself over the vulpine skull and facial features, and hardening. Her lips were invisible, but a nod accompanied the action.
The fluid inside the shark’s mantle began to disappear, the heavily armored chest expanding as his brow furrowed. Once the mantle was nearly empty, the shark pulled it off with one very large hand, the helmet in the other hand being lifted into place with the same fluid movements. With a few deft movements, the helmet came to rest, almost in position. While he turned to divest himself completely of the mantle, the vixen darted over to him, climbing up his body until her hands could reach his shoulders.
Her proximity to the shark just made it very apparent how much he might out-mass her, but the vixen didn’t pay it any mind. War machines and mammals got along well, some sub-process in her head reminded her even as her nimble fingers played over the interlocking mechanisms for the helmet to lock it in place, and tugging the thin hose that ran from the shoulder mounted packs to connect to the base of the helmet.
As the hoses locked into place, a soft rush of amber fluid flowed up the length, the liquid filling an internal chamber that overlaid his gills. A moment later, the circulatory system kicked in to allow the liquid to start churning.
Thanks, Stiletto. appeared on the vixen’s heads-up display as she clambered down off his back, giving him a chance to stretch and prepare for their fight. She turned and nodded once at him before turning to their flight craft. A few moments later, she boarded the craft, found what she wanted – her trusty guntō magnetically clamped to her armor.
No worries, GreatShark. I’d grab your gun, but it weighs twice as much as I do. was her reply as it flowed across the shark’s heads-up display. The great shark’s helmet was made mostly of hexadronum and plasteel, the wide visor layer being the sole exception, made of deadglass, separated from physical contact by an impossibly thin layer of clear plasteel.
He only nodded in response, turning to the craft and boarding it again. When he returned, he was hefting a large bodied gun, nearly two meters long from barrel to stock, easily as long as his partner was tall. Two large jar-like protrusions hung below the gun in a shape reminiscent of a broken capsule. The entirety of the gun was attached to threadsteel cables that went up and over his shoulders, allowing him to distribute some of the weight upward to his shoulders, even as he trudged down the ramp.
The liquid from the shoulder mounted tanks started to fully fill the helmet, a glistening amber glow present for just a few moments until he adjusted his HUD again. It almost seemed as if another heavy weight came to bear on his shoulders as he uttered, “This is the part I hate most. You ready with breaching charges?”
The short vixen nodded and gave a hand signal, signifying her readiness.
“Afraid you’d say that,” he uttered again into the oxygen-rich fluid, his words at least carrying over to her three-quarter facial shield, barely noticing a pair of silver hoses running from the open rear quarter, down her back to her lower spine.
Ready? she sent via their HUD messaging system.
He grimaced, silently glad that he could at least spare her the very visual and visible pain of going on the juice, following up with a terse Ready.
He clenched his jaw as he began to see red, a couple of sharp pricks hitting the shark in his spine and neck, the accelerant flowing quickly into him. His back straightened, the slouch caused by the heavy sliverbore assault weapon disappearing as the chemical cocktail hit his system. The vixen had already darted ahead at this point, breaching charges deployed and already popping the first few doors.
GreatShark charged into the impending fray with a bellow, smashing his way through doorways designed to barely let bodies of his stature through, lost to the rush of accelerant that raced through his system. His fingers kept the bore aperture open and spinning, ready to pepper anyone that dared interfere.