Black Blade Extraction

Completely unrelated to anything I’ve written so far, but I often get scenes popping into my head when listening to Two Steps From Hell. When I first heard Black Blade, the scene that popped into my head involved the following:

  • A ruined city
  • A warship on a bay
  • Jets screaming in across the bay towards the city
  • A helicopter hovering over a building just long enough to pick up somebody (or multiple somebodies)
  • The city being firebombed
  • The helicopter bursting through flames, heavily damaged by enemy fire, and landing on the warship
  • The bombers from step 3 flying back overhead

With that in mind, here’s a piece that has been sitting on my hard drive in a half-complete state for a very long time. Back when I was working on Spamocalypse about 4-6 years ago, I had the idea of portraying spammers as zombies created by a deranged cult known as the Word of Turscar, so I’ve made them the perpetrators of a city being overrun by…zombies that lurch around groaning about how to E N H A N C E your length…

Side note: “Turscar” is an old Irish word for rotting seaweed that has been repurposed as the translation for spam. For some reason, this struck me as a perfect name for a fictional deity, and that lead to the above deranged cult of spammers…

    Splanville. The tree-lined boulevards and curves of the buildings along the seafront were once the jewel of the southern coast of Bardopia. Now the crowds shuffled aimlessly along those same rubble-strewn boulevards and past crumbling buildings, faces frozen into fixed, unhinged grins and glassy stares. Where once the streets had echoed with the merry sounds of holidaymakers, now they reverberated with more sinister and deranged sentences.
    "Watch Thor on a Pogostick online HD!"
    "Spamison Extra is clinically proven to enhance your length!"
    "A single weird trick can cure Bovid-29 in one week! Find out here! Hurry!"
    Up on the third floor of one apartment building just a stone's throw from the beach, the dragging shuffle of a living corpse was missing. Instead, the silence was dispelled by the muted slap of rubber-soled boots on dust-strewn wooden tiles as the party of five made their way towards the roof. Behind the tinted visors of their gas masks, their eyes darted every which way, looking for any of the once-
    "Do I...have...a customer?" a voice groaned from a doorway ahead. A vaguely-alive body stumbled into the corridor, head turning spasmodically to the right. The left-hand side of its head was covered with a metal plate with an aerial sticking straight up. Organically grafted into its throat was something that resembled a music speaker. As the empty grey eyes focussed on the party, looking through them, the fixed grin grew even larger. 
    "This is the suitable weblog-" it began, the voice emanating from the speaker in its throat. One of the party wordlessly raised their assault rifle and squeezed the trigger. The deranged once-human fell to the ground, groaning about being repressed as it feebly reached forward with one hand. Another shot rang out, and it finally died.
    Out on the streets around the apartments, the crowds of walking corpses turned as one and began to lurch towards the doors as plaintive, hopeful cries of "a customer?" echoed through the air. As one, the crowd began to jerkily move faster, far faster than any human should have been able to. As one, they lurched in through the smashed door of the apartment block and began to file up the creaking stairs, guided by the sparking aerials coming from their heads. 
    Up on the third floor, the commandos began to run. One of them held one hand to their radio headset and snarled, "Raven lead to Kilo 5, we've been spotted just two floors down from the extraction point!"

    Out in the bay, a pair of eyes slid down towards the holographic plotting table. Most of it was a flat, unlit black, except for the dim white contours of the coastline along one edge. A pulsing blue dot marked the probable extraction point, with a green arrow flying towards it. Unfortunately, multiple lines of red arrows were approaching the city from the southeast. With a sigh, the owner of the eyes pressed their own microphone control.
    "Kilo 5, this is Black Blade. Be advised, Bravo Niner attack run has been pushed up; your window of opportunity is closing."
    "Roger, Black Blade. We've passed the inner firewalls with no damage. Raven, Kilo 5 is on final approach," the voice on the far end crackled through his earpiece. "Stand by for pickup".

    The roar of the engines grew louder as the bulbous helicopter banked towards its right, homing in on the building that the hordes marched towards. As it levelled out, the door on one side slid open to reveal the crew chief swinging a mounted gun around to cover the doorway that already bore a pile of aerial-eared bodies. Even over the roar of the engines and the rotors and the gunfire, he could hear their deranged groans being relayed from the source a hundred miles away.
    "Enhance your length! It will make you better in bed!"
    "HD torrent! Virus free!"
    "Paid jobs with Cityface! All completely ethical!"
    "For the degenerates!"
    Fireteam Raven, chests heaving with exhaustion and with only single rounds remaining in their magazines, piled into the helicopter with only feet to spare from the gibbering, disappointed hordes. Before they had time to register that the door was closed, the pilot banked to the right and threw the machine forwards as a tin of some indescribable material thunked off the side.

    Out on the ship in the bay, the green arrow on the map abruptly disappeared with the pilot's transmission that Kilo 5 was taking fire. The captain frowned, staring back down at the map. His eyes tracked the red arrows as they split out to cover the old city and passed over the last known position of the arrow that had marked the helicopter. Through his earpiece, he heard the bomber squadron reporting their current positions and directions. Turning towards the bridge windows, he was momentarily struck by the wave of flames that lit the distant horizon and the streams of smoke that rose from the burning city.
    "Kilo 5, this is Black Blade. Please respond." No response. "Kilo 5, please respond!"
    Still nothing. A heart-pounding minute passed. He repeated the request. Still nothing. He was starting to fear that they had been hit.
    "Captain!" one of the comms officials interrupted, turning in her seat. "We have a possible visual confirmation on Kilo 5 due north, heading for us. No radio contact."
    "Acknowledged." The captain allowed himself a brief smile of relief. "Helm, bring us around and mark the landing pad."
The captain turned towards the window again, peering towards the rapidly blinking lights of the helicopter that burst through the smoke, barrelling towards the ship.

    On a hill a few miles outside the town, a trio clad in red hooded robes stood in an old lay-by beside a smoke-stained car. Within the recesses of their hoods, glowing eyes stared towards with fervent contempt towards the flaming city. One held a video camera, panning it across the inferno.
"Once again, we see the Hammerites destroy a city that has been liberated from the forces of Moderation," another spoke aloud in the vehement, rising tone of a fanatic. "Once again, the innocent who have been saved from a life of ignorance are banned and flamed by the fascist Moderators! And once again, we see that there can be no compromise with those who would deny the Word of Turscar!"

    Above the fanatics, the bombers turned back out towards the sea, their bombs discharged. None of the crews said it, and they weren't going to let it get to them until they had landed and been debriefed, but they felt the bitter taste of a pyrrhic victory rising in their throats. Another city bombed to the ground in response to those cultists seizing and infecting the citizens with their aerials. 
    As always, there was the desperate hope that the spammers themselves had been caught in the flames. It wouldn’t wipe out the bitterness entirely, but it would sweeten things a bit. Just enough to convince themselves that it was worth it.
    As the helicopter touched down on the pad mounted on the stern of the Black Blade, the captain grimly watched the bombers fly overhead and wondered if this damn war would ever end.

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