So, here's my entry to Mr. Wendig's writing challenge for this week, the theme being an open ended sci-fi/fantasy kind of thing.
I'll admit that this is a draft really, with a few bits to hammer out, but let's see how it goes.
The reason: I did the too big for my boots thing and ended up trying to write a sci-fi meets fantasy thing. It was going very well, until I realised that I needed about 5000 words for any of it to make sense, or at least 2500.
This was something quick that I was able to knock together and I still found myself putting in loads of exposition... it's just difficult for me to avoid world building even when I'm very limited in word count.
Their footsteps seemed to multiply as they made their way down the corridor, the walls and floors and ceilings heavily accreted with the technological detritus of the Confederation; the whole place seemed to smell of alkali and the scent of flesh. Their progress was a cacophony, three figures walking in a procession down the corridor, each very different from the other.
Only Tribune Gold was not going to be able to leave though.
Ahead of her, the hulking form of Tribune Blue was marching with a sombre, leaden rhythm, his archaic, inscribed battlesuit nearly filling the passage, the gravsword Justice strapped to his back like he bore his own personal cross, the gleaming tip bobbing inches above the metal grate floor as he proceeded. Until four hours ago, Gold had looked very similar, her own aged battlesuit pitted and scarred with the souvenirs of ancient wars.
She, like he, had been Tribune; lawgiver, guarantor, leader... and ultimate sanction. A one woman army that could quell planets.
The party came to a junction place, a womb of steel and arcane circuitry, greeted only with the whine of high energy machinery as scanning laser fields enveloped the group. Blue's Ident Code came up, the Tribune Seal stamped by his name, venerable, ancient and respected.
Gold's details flicked up onto the screen a second after, the proofs of her identity erased now, her name reverted back to Police Lieutenant Lupe Vasquez, and her personnel assignment to ConFedBio now.
It was a mockery, a betrayal. She had given every day of her life from her twenty-fifth birthday to the Tribune Order, sharing the fellowship of her brother and sister Tribunes, facing danger and death in ancient, mysterious fighting machines and serving her star nation.
The last file to pop up was White, the author of this little charade. A traitor in the ranks.
Gold was considered a senior Tribune now, after more than a century of service, her background in policing and her administrative talents seeing her spend more time in her office in the Eyrie than out in the vastness of space. She had seen the writing on the wall when the Kinsey Group moved in on the military contracting, enlisting huge numbers of hopefuls for a vanishingly few Tribune positions, pulling strings to get political push behind their recommendations, running roughshod over the traditions of her brothers and sisters.
White was one of the new breed, a hungry probationary clique who sought only the first opportunity to claim a vacant Suit and carve their name in the stars. She was the kind of person Gold would have never let in the Order if she had her way. There was no other route to appease the worried Council though; no means of convincing them that the Tribunes, despite their strength, were not a threat to the Confederation.
Her hands were tied until they moved against her Order, until they finally broke the Oath of centuries.
It was ironic that even with the Oath broken, her hands were still bound, literally this time. Gold's lips quirked in a grim smile as she tested her shackles, her tall, heavily muscled physique straining and causing the metal of the restraints to creak.
White stepped back in shock and spat out a curse at Gold, the woman's tall, slender body dwarfed by the Tribune's enhanced biology. Gold could feel the fear radiate from the younger woman and enjoyed the sight of her betrayer reaching for her suppression stick in a classic panic reaction. She met White's gaze and bared her teeth in a grimace..
Only Blue's armoured hand on her shoulder made her look away and proceed further into the bowels of the complex.
Gold found herself in a surprisingly small chamber, made smaller still by the biological containment unit that occupied the centre of the room. Blue took up a position behind her, his massive armoured bulk stopping any chance of escape.
White had already crossed over to the control panel and seemed pleased with herself as the glass front to the oversized containment chamber slowly pivoted downwards. She was enjoying the chance to assert herself again as she sneered at Gold, looking up slightly at the bigger woman.
“You know, Gold, I thought you were supposed to be the smart one,” the blonde waved her had through the air mockingly, like she was describing a grand banner, her voice going wryly grandiloquent, “TRIBUNE GOLD! HERO OF THE CONFEDERATION!”
White's chuckle was ugly as she slapped a hand on the containment chamber, “Well, it's time for your well earned retirement... put out to pasture at last!”
A command brought up an armature studded with phallic shapes and entwined with skeins of cable and pipes.
“When I suggested to the ConFedBio archivists that they needed a live test sample to retro-engineer the effects of the Suits on a human body, they just snapped it up.” With a wave of her hand, White set the armature's protrusions to a slow, steady pistoning action.
“You're going to be their test bed, their plaything and their surrogate womb for the next hundred years Gold. By the time you're let loose, if you ever are, I'll have been Gold for too long for anyone else to remember otherwise.”
There was a bare shiver of movement behind Gold and she saw White stiffen in response to Blue's obvious discomfort.
White quickly tapped a command into the control pad and a synthesised voice filled the room, “Tribune Blue, dismissed. Please report to Eyrie command for debrief. Protection, service and honour, Tribune.”
White didn't even look up as she prepped the chamber, not seeing the reassuring squeeze of the arm Blue gave Gold.
“Protection, Justice and honour, Tribune,” Blue repeated, the voice from the suit speakers deep and rich with meaning, before he turned and left the room with a dull thud of a burden removed, his step noticeably lighter to her keen hearing.
Gold rolled her shoulders and smiled wolfishly at White's back as she waited for the penny to drop.
“Protection and... Justice?” White asked as she turned.
Tribune Gold was hefting Blue's massive blade in a two-handed grip, barely hampered by her shackles as she replied, “No, girl. Only Justice.”