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Flash Fiction – Take No Prisoners August 26, 2011

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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The friendly barge captain sent Loki and Anders on their way with wave and a couple jugs of moonshine to barter for a ride north.  For once luck was with them.  A farmer and his two sons were more than happy to give them a lift, in exchange for a share of the hootch.  “Cleans the pipes and clears the mind of any pesky thoughts,” the farmer said, taking a long pull that could have dropped his ox in its tracks. The farmer rather reminded Loki of the ox that pulled his wagon, for that matter – he had broad shoulders and a bull-neck, and was as Earthy as the element he worked with.  His boys were cast from the same mold, if a bit less stocky.  He introduced them with a few quick jabs of a finger. “That’s Chaz, Chip, and I’m Chet.”

“Anders, and Lance,” Loki replied, ignoring the roll of the eyes from his friend.

“Lance? Bet the girls love that one!” Chet said, with a loud Haw-Haw for a laugh. He took another swig of hootch and got the wagon rolling again with a quick snap of the reins.

The merry, tipsy lot of them rode through the evening, with the stolid ox snorting now and then in protest at the quality of their singing. They were on the fifteenth chorus of “Roll me over” when the ox let out a bellow, and the wagon lurched as it made a sharp turn.  Chet jumped down to wrestle his spooked ox to a halt, and peered through the gloom. “Something in the road. Check it out, boys, but carefully.”

Loki hopped out of the wagon with them and looked around for heat signatures. A number of odd lumps in the road were swiftly cooling. That, along with the sharp, metallic tang in the air told him what was waiting for them. He reached out and grabbed the boy’s arms. “Stay here. Anders, we’ve got trouble.”  He channeled Fire and scarlet flames flickered around his hand. The light illuminated the bodies strewn across the rutted track. Every one of them was a red-haired Fire kindred. His people. He stood there, stunned at the sheer number of bodies.

Anders, shocked sober, knelt down next to the nearest of them. “There were kids with them. Bloody Hel.”

Chip was noisily sick in the bushes, but Chaz, the older of the two, knelt down next to Anders. “I know them. Fire nomads, they came into town to trade at market. They had a disagreement with a press gang from New Dawn though, and left early.”

Loki moved through the bodies, checking each one for a pulse. “What press gangs?”

Chaz gave him an odd look. “Where have you been hiding? They’re all over the region, rounding up every Fire kin they can find. Some nonsense about defending the homeland from the Winter kin, but everyone knows Lord Ice was a friend of Fire. It’s the Morning Lord he hates.”

Anders steered Chip away from the carnage. “Go help your dad with the ox. You too, Chaz. We’ll handle this.” He caught up to Loki, who was already halfway out of sight around a bend in the track.

“There are no teenage boys, and only a few younger men,” Loki said. “They must have taken them, and slaughtered the rest.”

Anders face was set as hard as Loki’s. “What’s the plan, Red? Do we hunt them down?”

“No need. They’ll come to us.”  Loki moved back through the bodies, and took a string of glass beads from the hair of each one. He gave them to Chet. “Next time you see one of the nomads, give them this. They’ll want to know who was lost.”

“How many men were in the press gang?” Anders asked.

“Three dozen, maybe.  Less now, I’d guess. Fire kin don’t go down without a fight.” Chet gave his boys a worried look. “What are you planning on doing?”

Loki turned back to the still forms in the road. “I’ll return them to the elements. Once the road is clear, get your boys home and stay there.”

“Well, if you need a place to stay when you’re done, turn right at the crossroads up ahead. My farm is three miles to the north.”

Loki nodded his thanks, and walked away.  He held out his hand, palm up, and the dragon tattoo rose to the surface of his skin and coiled down his arm. It breathed fire into his palm, and he sent it out in little sparks of incandescent heat. As each spark touched a body, it roared into a pillar of flame, leaving nothing but a scorched mark on the earth to mark their passing.

“How long till those bastard cultists notice that and get back here, do you think?” Anders said.

“Soon enough. Take no prisoners.”

“Wasn’t planning on it.”

A half hour later, two scouts in the unmistakable robes of the New Dawn cult rode up and dismounted to investigate the scorched ground. The minute they were off their horses Anders struck. Lightning shot out from the Storm kin’s hand, arcing from one scout into the next and making them jerk in a terrible parody of dance. Loki drew in a bit of Earth energy for strength and snapped their necks.

“No blood, no fuss, no muss,” Anders said, with a bleak smile.  They tossed on the robes and mounted up, with Anders pulling up the hood to hide his silver hair.

They hit the cultist’s camp like a thunderclap. They rode up at a gallop, their robes letting them get close, but kept going and trampled the guards beneath the horse’s iron-shod hooves. More lightning shot out and sent six of them to a smoking end, dancing a gallows jig on the way. Loki’s horse got cut out from under him, but he rolled with it and hit the ground running. A pair of sabers made of fire were in his hands and he whirled through their ranks, felling his opponents like a scythe through wheat.

It was over in minutes. Loki knelt down and placed his hand on the ground. Earth was only his secondary element, and it took every bit of strength he had to pull off the working he had in mind.  By the time he finished he was shaking like a leaf, but every trace of the cultists had sunken into the ground.

Anders helped him stagger back to the horses.  “What next, Red? Head north?”

Loki shook his head. “That was too easy. They must have sent the nomads they took prisoner ahead with the rest of their group.”

“A rescue then. Sounds like another job for the two-man wrecking crew.”

Loki smiled at the nickname Nox had given them. “Let’s move. If we hurry, we can catch them before daylight.”


<–Previous   –Beginning–  Next->

This flashfic is part of an ongoing web serial, updated every week as a part of #fridayflash on twitter.  If you are new to Nox and Grimm, you can Click Here to read from the beginning.

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Comments»

1. Julie (O-kami) - August 26, 2011

big double *thumbs up* this story just gets better and better

techtigger - August 27, 2011

thanks! 🙂 I’ll do my best to keep upping the ante!

2. Anthony Deaver - August 26, 2011

Awesome. Very nice imagery and description. Now I *really* need to go back and read all the Nox and Grimm stuff 🙂

techtigger - August 27, 2011

Yay! always happy to hear that I’ve got someone hooked *grinz* thanks for the comments!

3. TEC4 - August 26, 2011

I haven’t read a Nox & Grimm story for awhile, so really glad to see this. Now I have to catch up on backstory! 🙂 Thanks. Really enjoyed it.

techtigger - August 27, 2011

Welcome back! The main story is always listed under the Flash Fiction tab, and I’ll knuckle down and get the extra/side stories collected. took a brief detour to write some of Grimm’s back story 🙂

4. ganymederg - August 26, 2011

Very exciting, but I’m not sure I’m okay with Loki and Anders murdering a camp full of people, even if they are bad guys…

Well written and riveting, as always!

techtigger - August 27, 2011

You know, i thought about this one, and they had just seen a whole caravan of people cut down. Not soldiers, they were families. That sort of thing tends to make people irrational, and Loki especially, since his own family was murdered. Not an easy topic, but it’s a part of his history that he’ll keep having to wrestle with. Anders isn’t exactly a great moral compass either. If Nox or Grimm were there, it might have gone differently, though.

great comment! always love talking more in depth about the characters 🙂


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