He is the last of his kin. The last of the Seven, elite of their queen’s guard. His brothers and sisters in arms are casualties of Her Majesty, Elfesto’s ambitions. By his skill alone, he has stood as each of his comrades have fallen in battle from the drug-crazed Munchie armies that Glenada, ruler of the capital city, commands.
These are the thoughts that plague him as he awaits his orders in solitude. Those, and the thoughts of his wife and young daughter who still wait for him to return home.
The cell he waits in is cold and utilitarian, lacking the most basic comforts. Comforts he has not enjoyed since this latest campaign began three years ago. Has it really been that long since I’ve been home? Three years he’s waited to embrace his wife. Three years since he has shared the warmth of their bed. Three years since he has held his daughter and told her stories of the Old World as she struggled to stay awake on those long nights. Yet now that he has returned he awaits his masters summoning in a cage…his home, his family, unseen.
“Silicone Samurai,” Elfesto commands from the throne in her great hall. “The Seven have failed me, you have failed me, and as a result I have built a new army. One which is unquestioningly loyal and wholeheartedly devoted to me. They will not hesitate, they will not fear, and they will not fail me. You are not relieved from duty though. You have left me in the undesirable position of having to treat with the South. I will send you as my emissary, something you will be more ‘suited for’, to broker this agreement.”
“Yes my Queen,” he replies, not letting his voice betray him.
“Silence! I wasn’t finished yet,” she retorts. “You will take with you a contingent of my Flying Monks to supervise and protect you or to handle any misunderstandings. My coders have already uploaded the coordinates of the meeting to your armor. Now go! Get out of my sight.”
“Yes my queen,” he utters, once more departing her chambers.
Days of travel with the Flying Monks have already left the Silicone Samurai weary of their presence as they arrive for the meet. A small man greets them at the gates and beckons them to enter. It is a small town on the border of the Southern territory, a neutral location bereft of defenses and armaments that usually accompany the border guard posts. As they walk through the town the Samurai watches the townspeople flee the streets and retreat to their homes. He wonders to himself if it is his master or her monsters that they fear. The small man directs them to the hall in the center of town.
“Our ambassador awaits you inside” he says meekly and bids them inside before departing himself. The Silicone Samurai assigns the Monks to the door choosing to enter without pretense of military might.
His mind still racing, processing every detail since his arrival, he approaches the table that rests in the center. The hall appears empty save for a man at the table wearing the garb of a jester from the southern court. Hand on the hilt of the blade he carries at his side he approaches the table.
“I don’t know what you are doing, but I demand to see the Ambassador,” the Samurai exclaims to the room if not the man in front of him.
“I am he, and he am I” comes the reply.
“My master looks to broker a treaty and yours sends a fool,” the Samurai says as he nudges the sword out with his thumb ever so slightly from its scabbard.
“No, no” the jesters eyes almost glow as he responds, “Your master seeks to broker a treaty and has sent a fool.” The jester dashes from the room as southern soldiers enter the room. Looking out the windows he sees quartered troops exiting the homes of the villagers and surrounding the building. He activates his com and orders the attack as he draws his own blade to deal with the threat around him.
Like a leaf in the wind, he dances through his opponents. His silver edge meets no resistance through his enemies. The first two fall before they are aware he has moved, and he parries the sword of the third. The silicone circuitry of his armor glistens and crackles as it amplifies his already terrific speed. His mind becomes pure, running almost entirely on instinct and before long he is surrounded by the fallen. He calmly walks outside to rejoin the Monks, but what he finds is not battle, but slaughter. The Flying Monks descend on soldier and villager alike with a ferocity and savagery the like he has never seen. No wound they take nor atrocity they commit makes them flinch. The Silicone Samurai falls to his knees at the sight. There is no honor in this. He sounds the call to retreat if only to stop the horror that has been wrought. As he makes his return to his master his mind wanders back to his family. He will resign, he will return to them.
“If this is the devotion she seeks, if this is what she finds me unsuitable for, I’m afraid I must agree,” he whispers to himself.
Elfesto has watched from afar, monitoring her Samurai’s thoughts and words through the circuitry she built into his armor. She will grant him his wish. She will allow him to retire. But she will require a sacrifice. If he will not give his life for her, she shall take her due in flesh and blood. Elfesto’s orders are sent to her Monks and they obey.
In a house far from the castle a woman and child sit eating. The child feeding scraps to the cat which brushes against her leg begging for another bite.
“Stop that, you’re spoiling it already. You’ve promised you’d take good care of it and be well behaved. That was the agreement,” her mother says.
“I am, but the kitty is hungry!” she replies. Her mother shakes her head unable to keep the smile hidden. Without word or warning the door is suddenly thrust open and the Witch’s monks enter.
“Run!” the woman screams as she throws her knife at the attackers, “Run as far as you can!” The girl grabs her cat and flees the house, turning back only once to see the house she was raised in alight with flame. She continues to flee long into the night.
Exhausted from running for what felt like an eternity, she collapses at the foot of a long dead tree and sleeps. When she awakes she can feel the salt on her skin from tears she did not know she had shed and the cat curled by her face. She fears for herself and fears for her mother and father, but she knows she must go on. Though she did not often see her father, her parents both had taught her well. They told her that this day may come. She rises, steadies herself against the harshness of the Wastes and the terror and hurt that still grip her. She marks the position of the sun, one of the earliest tricks her father had taught her, and heads east.
The kitten following close but slowly and unsteady. Knowing she cannot care for her pet and herself through what she must do now to survive, the girl steels herself, “Go!” she yells, but the cat continues to follow. She chases the cat off.
“GO! You have to go. I can’t take care of you.” She turns and walks away, not daring to look back.
This time the cat does not follow.
When the cat obeyed her, at that moment, the little girl died and in her place, a warrior was born. I’m sorry my friend but where I go, you cannot follow. I now walk the path of vengeance!
The man formally called Silicone Samurai now walks a similar path, unaware that his daughter survived the Flying Monks attack. He too, will walk the road of vengeance but for now he drowns in a sea of despair, disappearing into the junk tunnels that run beneath. Soon he will meet companions that will rescue him from this state and set him on his destined path. Sadly, in these travels, his path will not converge with his long lost daughter.
But this is not the end of either of their stories.
To be continued….
Written by Brendan Barr
Art by Stevie VanBronkhorst