Herald of the Future



The Dust and metal settled on the alien planet. The vast plains that, a few moments before, had been the location of an incredibly intense, and even more so brief battle, lay now under a blackened layer of smoldering fury and fading hatred. There were smoking, silent valleys where before there had been roaring air battles over a stretch of level land, and looming mountains where there had been devastating clashes of soldier upon soldier, and in the middle of all of it, two tiny figures, each in a bulky humanoid exopanzer, approached one another from opposite sides. They looked almost surreal in the total annihilation that surrounded them, the panzers shining in the setting sun, their blazing propulsion jets - tiny suns of their own - that sped them across the landscape a mark of vitality that contrasted so with what stretched out beneath each of them, it spat in the face of all the death and suffering they, and no one else, had caused.

They landed, not loosing any speed up until the very last second, with a thump on one of the taller piles of bodies - a thump that, on both accounts, would have been huge, had the plains not been huger. They lost no time, and marched towards each other, parts of the exopanzer shifting and retracting for ground movement. It was clear now that the one, who had come from the West, was rather large in comparison with his opponent, who even in his elaborately armed armor was completely swallowed by the shadow cast on him from the approaching menace. They walked right up to each other, and paused. Without another moment of doubt, however, the Western combatant raised his right arm and smacked the man he was facing upside where his head would have been, but now he only clanged metal against metal.

"Dammit, Wilkins, those were my FINEST troops!" he roared through his dual speakers, usually reserved for barking orders in the chaos of battle, and still on their loudest setting possible. Wilkins shrugged, something which his panzer did not copy - you try shrugging with 18 TSX Self launching Grenades on each shoulder - so his figure just stood there, unchallenged.

"Looks like your finest troops weren't good enough, Tironius." he replied, tauntingly stressing the word 'finest'. Tironius did not respond, other than by releasing the automatic locks on his helmet, which split open three ways and sank into his panzer - to let off steam, perhaps.
He took a deep breath of the air, surprisingly fresh and clear considering the mayhem and chemicals in the area. Wilkins, too, dropped his headpiece. Tironius turned, and looked into the westering sun.

"How long before the second one will rise?" he asked, almost rhetorically.

"There is no second sun here. Monostellar system, if you'll remember."

"What the hell do the inhabitants do after they lose the light, then?" Tironius frowned.

"What inhabitants?" Wilkins smirked. "You've not done your homework, T. You've been too busy Heralding."

"I Herald the new Coming, Wilks. Don't you fucking mock me." Tironius snarled.

"If it can be of any comfort, the planet does have an orbiting body that reflects some of the suns light back towards the surface." adding, with a mischievous grin, "You won't be blind."

Out of the corner of his eye, Tironius saw the movement in the hillsides first. He turned towards it, and saw a face, ripped and scarred from where the many implants had been torn from its features, looking up to him. In the red light, it was pale, with green and blue fluids running all
over and from it. The being raised an almost intact arm, reaching out from the debris, possibly to pull itself out, possibly just as a cry for help towards him, Herald of the Future, Leader of Free Men... Tironius would never know. A small, nearly innocuous missile dug itself into the horrid
creature and blasted it to pieces, along with much of the hillside.

"WILKINS!!" Tironius raged, turning and aiming for the shooter, who was just lowering his left arm with which he had launched the Destro 3 T Missile - a little beauty, his own design.

"Wow, wow, wow big guy! It's your own damn Resolution! That guy," he said, gesturing towards the bits of flesh and metal where the soldier had been, "wasn't being equal to his fellow Clones!"

"They're PEOPLE goddammit!" Tironius shouted, loading his BFG until it hummed threateningly. "Real fucking people!"

"Whatever they were they're real fucking dead now aren't they Tironius! They're dead! And you should stop and ask yourself who killed them!"

For a moment, they just stood there, Tironius' armweapon raised and ready, facing a heavily breathing Wilkins, until the latter raised his hands and shouted:

Tironius gritted his teeth, apparently in two minds about pulling the trigger, his face clenched in anger, but his eyes filling with doubt.

"What?" Wilkins repeated, in the same high-pitched voice he had when he was really, really upset. "Who are they going to send when you kill me? Huh? Who?" Tironius did not
answer, but did not lower his weapon either. "Damian, That's who. And I might have beaten you, T, but you know what Damian would do." Wilkins visibly calmed down, as Tironius finally, slowly, dropped his arms to his sides. The humming faded.


Tironius face was one with the Resolution he had declared. Staring at the horizon, into nothingness, he did not move for the longest time.

"The caves are your only option now, T." Wilkins guessed his mind. Tironius let out a big sigh, but kept looking away from his adversary. "Look," Wilkins said, placating, "you know those caves will only lead to the ultimate massacre of your… men. You KNOW that. You might as well order your big memorial sign right now, 'General Tironius, who got all of his Free Men bravely slaughtered.' in huge bloody neon letters all over this galaxy." He stopped, waiting for Tironius to speak, but the Herald just kept staring. Wilkins face grew, of all things, sad.

"You've had your little revolution, T. Come home now, will you? You've won! You're too good to be executed, you know that, and Council has conceded that you have a point. Clones are going to be treated better than they were before, did you know that? Did you? Or has your head been up your Herald ass for so long that you haven't paid any attention to all the things you DID get?" Still, Tironius neither moved nor spoke. "Come on! They'll get the finest treatments from now on any slaves in the history of the universe have ever gotten!" Wilkins cried.

"Not good enough." If he hadn't seen the lips move, Wilkins would not have believed it was Tironius who had spoken. His voice was steady, thoughtful, and... there was something
else. Something creepy. He had no chance to further observe what it might have been, though, because the helmet on Tironius' panzer slit back into place as silently as it had dismantled. Through the speakers, Tironius continued in the same, calm manner:

"You promised me huge neon letters, Wilks." Wilkins nodded. That he had done.

"You better get them. And make sure they're as big as the galaxy." Tironius' jets fired, and before Wilkins could blink, he was already moving south, towards the caves, barking orders on his ComSys. He just watched the tiny lights creep along the horizon, until they were too far, and then he watched some more. After a while, he realized it was dark, completely dark. He slid his helmet into place, and switched on Infra.

"I am not blind," he reassured himself.

But something told him he was.

The End


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