Lancer

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The smashing is like music.

PFFT, CRACK.

My machine’s striking pin rams the rock in front of me. A rush of bits crumbles from the rock and rolls over my boots. I see glinting in the rubble. I like it when it shines; it means I’m serving well. I thrust my shovel in, its plasma blades slicing clean through the chunks. It vibrates, so I switch on its inducer and the shiny bits clink on. Then I throw them into the sorter and jump out of the way of the next strike.

PFFT, CRACK.

More rumble, more shining. This is a good day. All of us, shovelling to the beat of the machines. Only a fraction of a cycle left on this rock, days really. I keep thinking: What will the next rock be like?

PFFT, CRACK.

The Outer Terminus has many rocks. Good rocks, I like it here. I shovel again and jump out of the way of the next smash.

PFFT….

The machines stop and it goes dark. Why have the machines stopped? Why is it dark? A voice reverberates all around, a thundering whisper:

“MERELY FRAMED.”

The rock shakes like never before. Gravel rains in the darkness. I choke on the dust and struggle to find my balance on the shifting ground. The voice booms again. It is in the air. It is in the rock. It is in my head.

“MERELY SHAPED THEY ARE CALLED.”

My ears ring like sirens. Then I hear new smashing, it is coming from down the tunnel. Not rhythmic smashing, not the music, something else and I do not like it. There are other voices too, screaming voices. They make me think of the way we scream when there is an accident, when one of us gets caught in a sorter. There is much screaming. The voice grows louder.

“THERE WAS NO THEIR MOTHER.”

Out of the darkness a new light rounds the distant corner and shines down the tunnel. Our lights do not look like this. It is a part of something big and it moves wildly. Running? Yes, running through our line. Our machines fly up and then slam back down. Miners are smashed and crushed into tiny pieces. I am scared.

I am angry. Why is this happening? Is that an Orokin? No, we serve the Orokin. The Orokin are golden. This is something else. I pick up my shovel.

“THERE WAS NO THEIR FATHER.”

The light is close now. I find my footing and grip my shovel like I do when I chip ore. The light sends a machine flying at me. I jump but I am too slow. It crashes into my chest and pins my legs to the floor. I try to breathe but I cannot breathe. I look up and the light charges toward me. I raise my shovel just before it tramples into me. There’s a clink. The light catches itself on my shovel’s blade, forcing the shovel’s butt deep into the hard ground. The light explodes under its own force. All is black.

For a moment there is silence. I pull on the shovel but it is wedged between the ground and that thing. Then, the shovel pulses like it does when I strike a shiny chunk of ore. Without thinking, I flick on the shovel’s inducer. The voice screams. Everything shakes. I like hearing this scream, I do not know why. I use everything I have left to force the shovel in deeper. The thing reels back. I can feel it running. It is running away.

Everything goes quiet again, so I close my eyes.

***

“Over here. I found one.” A wave of pain rushes through my chest. My eyes dart open. There’s a light; I try to get out of the way but I cannot move. The light shouts, “Hurry, he’s not going to last very long.”

I try to talk, but a new voice speaks instead, “Doesn’t matter; if he can survive that, then they want his sample for the next batch.”

They are lifting me onto something. I catch glimpses of shimmering gold.

“This is a bad idea. I mean, would you trust a Grineer soldier?” The figure presses something into my arm and I want to sleep again.

The new voice laughs. “Do we have any other choice?”


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