|This article, Delta's Path/Slip, was written by Distant Tide. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
|The author of this article, Delta's Path/Slip, urges anyone who reads it to provide feedback on the quality of the article. Thank you!|
|Date Published||7 January 2018|
|Story Series||Delta's Path|
Slip is a short story part of the Delta's Path collection and written by Distant Tide. The story focuses on the rogue Spartan Andra-D054 from Delta Company in her desperate fight for survival against her fellow Delta Company graduate and her self-proclaimed executioner, Sergei-D167. The spotlight is focused on Andra's struggle and the consequences resulting from a life on the run. This story was written with permission from Spartan-D042 with the intent of participating in the The Weekly contest.
- "I don't want to die..."
- ― Andra-D054
Everything hurt. Andra could feel her damaged organ-tissue. Her blood draining endlessly. She felt ruptured armor above her shredded skin.
Her IEDs failed her. Sergei had grown up since their training, he read Andra like a book. Like the perfect hunter, he bypassed her traps altogether.
Andra's sniper rifle proved useless. Sergei swarmed her elevated position with decoys and drones - wasting her ammunition. All her precious anti-tank rounds spent on robots and thin air.
Her tactics and desperation proved useless. Grenades, C4, close quarters combat. He pushed through it all. Sergei never faltered, never blinked behind that emotionless silver visor of his.
He barely made a sound as sporadic gunfire and crashing titanium was traded within the bombed-out ruin of a home on a hill. Andra was far more winded, grunting and wincing with every punch and kick.
Her left arm directed her submachine gun toward Sergei as he lifted his fist to meet her. Fire and metal escaped the weapon's barrel in rapid succession shredding everything with a half-meter radius of Sergei's right arm. His energy shields absorbed the inertia and sent the crushed bullets flying wildly around the ruined house.
His right hook shattered the firearm with a single strike. The impact sent Andra reeling as she used the backward momentum to put distance between herself and the advancing Sergei-D167. Once her comrade, now her dutiful executioner. He was driven by primal vengeance, a motive that Andra understood, even sympathized with. Shima-D011's death was on her hands after all.
Andra drew her automatic magnum and let loose with suppressive fire. She charged wildly, allowing the small-caliber bullets to bounce off his shields till they popped, losing form. Andra threw her entire weight into her tackle, pushing Sergei and his ton-heavy exoskeleton four meters back before his momentum returned. She threw her empty pistol aside, spent.
In close proximity, Sergei's beefy hand locked around the rim of Andra's ODST helmet - crimping it under the pressure. He drew his up-sized service pistol and pressed it into her's chest. He got off two shots at point blank, obliterating her energy shields as his own returned. Before he could fire off a third shot, Andra smashed her helmet into his and smacked his pistol to the side-splitting it into three distinct pieces against the rotting floorboards of the home. The Spartans clashed together, pushing against one another with their helmets and elbows.
The two former Delta Company graduates were out of firearms. Their magazines were spent. Their explosives were exhausted. Andra could feel Sergei's physical superiority as he slowly overtook her inferior grip. He was simply stronger and heavier than her. It had always been like this, even in training.
The voice of a breathless Merlin-D032 called out to over her comms array. "Andra! Hold on! I'm coming!"
"Hurry!" was Andra's choked response. She needed Merlin here now, more than ever.
Her grip finally gave and Sergei threw her over his head and shoulders, assisted by his suit's thrusters and power distribution systems. Andra's body crashed through the floorboards below her, forming a crater in the house's concrete foundation.
Letting go of Andra's arms, Sergei left the girl disorientated and on her back. Stars twinkled at the edge of her vision. "Fuck..."
Sergei shuffled back into her field of vision, now armed with his recovered, smart-scope-linked M45E shotgun. His armor was scarred and dented and beat up. Blood leaked from his suit in some places but he looked a lot better than Andra in her disabled state. She was too weak to move.
Sergei wheezed through his helmet, however, his thick Russian accent was clear as day. As chilling as ever. "D054. You have my permission to die. Consider this payment for Shima's death."
He racked the shotgun's pump and pointed it at Andra's chest. He pulled the trigger, splashing another shotshell across the girl's body. A heart-wrenching cry escaped her lips.
Her eyes were blurry, unfocused. The pain ebbed at Andra's mind and body. Sergei's voice was distant, calling out in barely a whisper. "Huh? A shotshell? Could've sworn I stuck in slugs, oh right, those impact-fuse grenades you were throwing... Whatever, next shot won't fail."
Andra attempted to brace her suffocated muscles as the shotgun snapped to her bloodied chest. Sergei snapped the shotgun pump to halfway and discharged the next shell before swapping out to another from the weapon's shell-rack. The dread of a coming darkness rolled over everything. She imagined this was the end till the sound of an automatic rifle roared nearby. Sergei's dark silhouette disappeared from view as the slug meant for Andra was discharged elsewhere.
"Merlin! Fucking back off!" Sergei screamed. Merlin's response came out muffled and incoherent as their gunfire and yelling grew more and more distant.
Andra could feel the blood pooling in her lungs. It was dark. She felt cold. She couldn't think properly - the pain was there but everything was so dull now. She could feel herself slipping.
A voice mumble-called to her in a panic from far away. It sounded like a caring friend, or a parent, maybe even a lover. His voice was full of desperation. "Andra! Stay with me! Please!"
She felt so tired. The voice kept slipping away - into the inky black. "Andra..."
She didn't know what happened next as she was rushing forward, toward a star of an unseen horizon. The world shook as if she was being carried.
There was no sight. There was no anything. No nothing.
Andra didn't know how long she'd been here. Or where here was?
A familiar male voice called out from somewhere afar. "Hey. It's me, Merlin. You in there?"
Andra felt herself being dragged once more forward. Everything appeared with full clarity. There was a lot of machinery lying around. A lot of people at computer stations and there was a familiar hum of electronics. The face of a brown-haired boy with hazel eyes looked down at a glowing mass of light. His eyes were wrapped in thin bags - a sign someone was neglecting sleep.
Her eyes focused on the glowing mass of light. The body was blurry - like it had yet to pick an appropriate form for itself. However, it was distinctly human. The silhouette of a young woman in a fetal position. Andra's wasn't sure who it was but when she made to raise her head, the woman copied her movements sluggishly.
It felt wrong. Like some kind of out-of-body apparition or some stupid video game. However, upon considering the situation further, she noticed that she wasn't quite looking out of her own eyes. Her eyes weren't her own - they were everywhere. Above, below, in every direction. She was everywhere and nowhere at once. What a strange sensation.
She went to look down at her hand. The holographic woman raised her head and hand in response. Hell. The glowing woman was her. The boy, Merlin, watched curiously - like watching a butterfly crack opens its cocoon.
Pushing past the realization, her hand - it was smaller than last time it seemed. A lot smaller. Her hand was see-through, holographic - it had form but no substance. Like a ghost.
She looked back up at Merlin-D032 quizzically.
"Andra?" He asked, staring down at her, concerned. Uncertainty quivered in his voice.
She rolled the name across her tongue but felt nothing. In her mind, it sounded familiar but she could not remember. Like a long-forgotten dream. She snapped her head against her left shoulder and directed her eyes toward Merlin. He stared back at the holographic woman equally quizzical.