The birds sang. The sun shone brighter in the sky. I hate when it does that. I rolled over and threw a rainboot at the window toward the sun. “Somebody turn that damn thing down low!” I grabbed a nearby tree and shook it back and forth until the birds flew off. I couldn’t do anything about that sun… yet. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll come up with something to block it or drain it.
As much as I’d like to walk around as if I’m in a great mood, there’s war to worry about. Losing a bit of happiness was the trade-off there. I can feel happiness when I survive and my head isn’t displayed on a pike. Why they’d bring fish into this, I don’t understand.
With recon and now my hijacked satellites keeping an eye on things, I’ve been able to track the readiness of my enemies in real time. I have a pretty good count of their numbers and equipment. And, let’s be clear, bronze armor is still a poor defense against bullets.
It just so happens that we have plenty of those here. Who’d a thunk it? There are civilian militias being called up just full of people who have been drilled and know how to use rifles they happen to have with them. As usual, I’ve opted not to make a big deal about it. I also decided to call for a similar volunteer militia from the ranks of the Deep Ones. From what I understand, the Directory’s been struggling to find appropriate land for them to settle on, to keep them separate from all those human people.
That plan can kiss my ass with lipstick on. “You’re fighting for a new home,” I told an assembled bunch of them. “And I’ll make sure that is more than just words. You will be welcome here. You won’t be segregated. If I have decree a land grant myself, this will be made true. I know not all of you are fighters. You came here to get away from that. For those of you who want to help but can’t stand to fight directly, there are things you can do, as well.” They couldn’t see me smile under my helmet, but I did anyway. “How many of y’all are familiar with video games?”
The drones are simple enough. Most have a treaded base and torso with a machinegun and rocket pod attached. The next most numerous are the humanoid ones, but I have to save those for myself. It was easy enough to adapt the tread drones to work with conventional controllers, but the balance issues of a bipedal drone preclude putting them in someone else’s control. I’m absolutely not giving them access to flight-capable drones with explosives. There are no training wheels with those. They fall the wrong way and kablooey.
There’s a special one in particular who is all mine. The fact that he looks like a naked, muscular man makes that a little awkward, but I’m not the one to go fucking myself. Enough of the world wants to do that for me, and I don’t intend to give them the satisfaction. Instead, I decked this one out in fairly similar clothing and gave it the same axe recovered when we rescued VelocityRaptor. I practiced with that one around the base, catching some glances from the men.
This model had been slightly upgraded from standard humanoid ones. I managed to give it better strength and durability in general, but it was a quick job. It couldn’t move as slowly, and I still had to worry about the joints. Plus, the flesh on it can be maintained by nanites, but will start dying soon after deployment. I should have a couple of hours before it becomes an issue, which should be enough for what I’ve got planned.
I led the Deep One volunteers to the base and let the men there acquaint them with controlling the drones. They’d run a full course. As for me, I had a way to help matters just slightly. It might even make the whole thing irrelevant, though it’d probably better if I still integrated everything.
The French once made sure to create a system of white supremacy in their colonies precisely so the people would never join together to declare independence. The idea was to give free people of color, some lighter than the whites, fewer rights. Oh, and the enslaved blacks would naturally have even fewer. Except the whites didn’t like all this equality talk coming out of the French Revolution and thought they could take over. So the coloreds revolted against the whites to stand up for France. And then a bunch of the slaves revolted, likewise, and proclaimed themselves loyal servants of the French king, who was being manhandled quite a bit in the Revolution. Long story short, France loses their most prosperous colony, Napoleon loses 50,000 men, and France has to sell off the Louisiana Purchase.
In other words, turns out there are pragmatic reasons to not be a dick sometimes. This is one of those times. Besides, if I let personal disgust justify keeping completely separate from humans, I wouldn’t have a half human daughter, or much sex.
Back to the plan. I went ahead and accelerated it when I saw Vercingetorix the Barbarian and his little party began to make their way to the Bronze City. It wasn’t night time, as I’d have preferred, but it would still allow for deployment without any real problems. I retired to an isolated room in a bunker beneath the base where I could concentrate on just the MechaBarbarian.
I walked him to the chopper where that daredevil pilot had quickly gotten used to being my go-to guy. This guy made for a wild ride, even if I never installed a stomach in the evil double. He took me up high enough to seem like another recon flight to give me a view of the city. It expanded from the harbor like a sort of blob. It had a curved outer wall, the parts closest to the harbor looking noticeably older and of different architecture. There looked to be farms and manors outside the city that we’d have to be careful of when dropping in. The area inside the outer wall was the most spread out, with one building in particular in the center and close to the first inner wall.
It got much more crowded inside it, and it looked like the roofs could have been used for streets as well, they were so close and interconnected. The largest building in the city, like a sort of fortress, stood in that section, though it connected with the final wall, which looked to be the oldest one of the lost. It separated everything else from the harbor and the district immediately surrounding it. That area bustled with people hard at work building and supplying ships. Like little ants just waiting to be stomped out.
I jumped from the chopper a short distance out of town, behind a hilltop manor. The chute kept this bucket of beefcake and bolts from falling apart on contact with the ground. I headed to the city at a sustainable run.
The guards recognized me. “Hail, Vercingetorix. Where are your vicious band?”
I pointed backward with a thumb. “They are on their way. First, I must speak with the King. I have encountered the outsiders again and need to inform him of dire news regarding his daughter.”
The guards straightened up smartly and one walked me in. He made small talk, but Vercingetorix’s lack of interest didn’t strike him as out of place. I had more important things to look at, like all the people. I got to see what they were like, and see how they were preparing. They didn’t appear at all concerned about a retaliatory invasion that I could see. I passed a group of teens drilling like amateurs, but the guard only smiled at them. “They will soon get their first taste of war. To suffer hardness with good cheer, in sternest school of warfare bred, our youth should learn; let steed and spear make him one day the- pardon!”
He stopped short from whatever he was maybe reciting as children ran up to hound us both. They were excited to see us, but I caught a glimpse of one of them feeling around my loincloth for a money purse and winked at him. He backed off, but I think one of his friends got a coin from the guard. I grabbed a couple of them as well on instinct. From the coloring, it looked almost like gold. It was paler and not as lustrous. Worth looking into, I suppose.
The King Garth’s palace turned out to be that big fortress in the middle section of the city. This Vercingetorix fellow has quite a reputation to be let in like that. Saved me the trouble of killing my way through. It’s important to have a Plan B. And just about every plan works if you keep murder in mind as a back-up.
The men guarding the palace looked like they did this kind of thing full time. They weren’t testosterone freaks like the barbarians, but they were able to stand around all day in bronze helmets and armor resembling a muscled chest, with heavy spears and short swords. The sandals didn’t really go with the skirts, but they wouldn’t be the first military with a fashion problem.
Just before one of the rooms, a pair of them crossed their spears in front of me. “Your axe.” A teenage pretty boy without facial hair ran up and held his hands out for the axe. I dropped it into them, whereupon he fell down from the weight.
I glanced down. “Perhaps you need experience grasping a heftier shaft.”
One of the guards frowned at me. The other snickered. They uncrossed their spears and let me in.
King Garth, this curly blonde king in a tunic and simple circlet, rose from his throne and excused the courtiers discussing whatever preparations they made. He stepped down the dais to greet me. “Vercingetorix! Have you assembled your men? The honor of both our houses needs restoration.”
“Your house will be well taken care of,” I said. “I would see nothing less for a house that shall join to my own.”
I’m on the fence about forcing Elda to marry me. It may not so much be a matter of forcing her, as I think she rather enjoys being well away from everything she’s ever known.
Garth smiled. “Good. Servants, bring us wine! We shall feast our guests.”
“It sounds like quite the party. Sad you won’t be attending,” I said. He squinted, puzzled, before I grabbed his neck and squeezed. Just because this thing might shake itself apart doesn’t mean it lacks strength. It has more than enough to ring a man’s scrawny neck until he’s dead. And I do men ring, like a bird. I heard the snapping, then threw him to the ground. The courtiers rushed me, but I bitchslapped them aside. A shame I couldn’t take the royal hairless serving boy, but he was likely underage. With the distractions gone, I raised my foot. “Party on, Garth.” I stomped his chest in. Like stepping on a bunch of those Fourth of July poppers.
That’s about the time a pair of spear shafts sunk into the belly of the fake Vercingetorix. Good thing I didn’t install any nerves. I broke off one and pulled out the pointy bit. One of the guards drew his sword and came at me. I ignored his stabs and instead stuck the tip into his eye. Then I tossed him head-first into a wall. The other guard saw all this and, to his credit, didn’t run away. Instead, he tried to cut my neck off. It lodged there, and put me in range to reach up his skirt and take the bull by the horn, as one might say. I held on firmly and booted him away, causing one hell of a yelp.
And so Vercingetorix fled the city after murdering King Garth and outlasted his pursuers. By the time horsemen caught up to him, he was seen climbing into a giant metal beast that ascended into the sky and disappeared on the horizon. He went into cold storage when I got him back to the island, but I must have dropped those coins I stole off the guard.
Something tells me it’s going to be awfully hard for the barbarian’s people to link up with those of the Bronze City. He’ll have to fight like hell for that.
And afterward, I, meaning me myself, took Elda out for ice cream. I’ve given her a certain amount of freedom to enjoy herself on my island, something she seems amenable to. I even told the soldiers they’re allowed to spar with her. She wanted to get away from her family and explore for herself. I’ve given her the chance for that. Who knows, maybe the only shot I’ll need to conquer the Bronze City is the money shot?
…Nah. All this marriage talk kinda sucks, but at least I get all the warm fuzzies of knowing I’ve fostered a strong-willed woman’s independence right around the time her father appeared to have been killed by a heroic guy trying to rescue her and perhaps bone his way into kinghood.
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The birds sang .
had quickly gotten use to being
I broke offone
The name Vercingetorix is never not going to remind me of Asterix. Magic potion would certainly explain how he fought a cyborg in hand to hand, though the homing axe remains a mystery.
I’ve never read it, but it’s certainly a distinctive name. Might be better if I shorten it to Conan. Thanks for spotting the typos. They have been thrown in the gulag and replaced with properly loyal words.
“putting them in someone else’scontrol.”
“awkward, butI’m not”
“it looked almost likegold.”
“I broke offone”
“I went ahead and accellerated it”
“I think one of this friends got a coin from the guard”
“Just becuase this”
It’s not you, typo demons, it’s me. I need more space. Thanks for spotting all those for me. Hopefully, no one has to put up with so many words spacing out on them.
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