Aethersteel Short Story – 86 Seconds

August 15, 2017 at 6:35 am

86 Seconds

A Legion Short Story         Jump Deathwinds

“86 seconds, you hear me? 86 seconds. “, the words echoed in Varis’s head as he closed his eyes and rested his back against the wall of the dropship.  “that’s how long the life expectancy of you dogs is from the moment you leave my flight deck. “

The rumble of the propeller engine drowned out any other sound in the airship. The thin metal walls not offering much noise protection either. Inside ten heavily armed drop troopers sat in various forms of restlessness as they prepared for the drop indicator light to change to green.

“So with that in mind I want you to remember one thing, none of you. NONE of you, has permission to die before that 86 seconds is up.” The voice of Revok the crow, jump trooper training officer of the 3rd Argo’s cluster still echoed in Varis’s head.  “That 86 seconds is the amount of time an average soldier survives. You are not average. No, you will prove your worth to your tribe by being above average. Is that understood?”

“Yes sir, Commander sir” the cadets had echoed back to him.

And now here they sat, flying over some Krath forsaken territory, preparing to lay waste to whatever enemy proved stupid enough to challenge the might of the legion in open combat.  Taking a deep breath he took another opportunity to check the pressure on his drop pack. Still sitting at 2200 PSI, the leak was defiantly there, but not enough to worry about yet.

Drop packs may have been the most highly advanced piece of Legion technology but they were mere toys compared to the simplest of devices employed by the Technocrats. Leaky valves and inconsistent pilot lights meant that you had as much a chance of your pack not lighting as you did of being cut down by the enemy. However  they had proven their use in combat to such a level that commanders simply couldn’t ignore their tactical uses. So here Varis’s platoon sat, waiting to enter combat.

Varis’s platoon leader stood up from his seat near the door and motioned with his hands for the rest of the group to follow suit. He shouted something but it wasn’t even close to audible over the roar of the wind rushing in through the doorway. Each trooper reached up to the metal pull bar above their heads and hefted themselves upright, their legs spread wide to try to maintain their balance on the rumbling plane, no easy feat with over 100 pounds of metal, fabric, and fuel on their back. No one reached down to help each other, for doing so would be seen as a sign of weakness and would have been refused outright. Eventually each soldier found his way to the doorway. \

As Varis approached the doorway he took one last opertunitty to check his equipment. Wrist blades were out and ready to go, The curved blades attached to the wrists of the warrior and curved back to the elbow. Razor sharp they could cut through body armor, skin, muscle and even bone.  Strapped to his belt, the F-11 Defiant pistol hung, ready and loaded. The hand cannon had been passed down from generation to generation. Firing a .75 Cailiber shell the projectile had enough power to punch through the armored wall of a Wildcat tank and still have enough power to rip and man in half. Varis was confident, even though his drop packs pressure now ready only 2100 PSI. he’d have but once shot at this.

The light next to the drop door pulsed green, and the first drop trooper was gone. Varis stood in the doorway, looking down to insure his previous comrades pack had ignited. The bright red flame sparked, sputtered and then ignited into a beautiful plum. Varis’s platoon leader leaned over to his ear as they both watched the ground fly by below them.

“86 Seconds Varis, 86 Sec…” Varis didn’t hear if there was anymore as his feet left the deck and he was out into the warm air. His thumb squeezed the ignition trigger on his pack as the world cascaded toward him.


Varis’s heart leapt to his throat. His finger franticly snapping down the ignition button. The rocky ground closing faster and faster. A spark, a flash, and then the pack ignited. The instant gee forces caused Vari’s vision to darken, blood rushing to his legs. The words of his drop trainer once again invaded his mind, “Before you ignite suck in a long hard breath, then blow it out in bursts as you descend. It may be the only thing that keeps you awake when your’ sorry ass hits bottom.”

It wasn’t till now that Varis had a chance to look at his drop zone. Below him the battle raged, and it looked fierce. The line of Legion infantry made a dark sea pocketed only by the occasional Wolfhound APC or Wildcat Tank. Charging down the ridge toward the Legion battle lines was a bastardization of combat forces from the “mighty” Technocrats. Their mixture of human, cybernetic and robotic forces were lucky if they could form a battle line, let alone make any resemblance of a tactical challenge. But their firepower couldn’t be ignored. Their weaponry was something any Legion soldier would drool over, and Varis had even heard rumors that Blasted One Plasma guns had begun to enter the front line combat forces of the legion now to confront this problem.

Flaring his drop pack Varis selected his drop zone and let the jet die. Moments before his feet touched down he wrapped his wrist blades tightly around the leather straps that held his drop pack in place.

As his legs hit raw earth his knees bent to absorb the impact, the remainder of the force ripped his arms downward cutting the straps on his pack, dropping it to the ground. Varis shot up instantly, the 100 pound weight now removed. He spun in position and sliced his wrist blades through the throat of the nearest cyborg. Chemical tubing exploding out of the fleshy throat, spilling grey material all over the body as it fell. Without missing a step Varis’s second wrist blade dug deep into the synthetic body of an android. It’s pupiless eyes flashing bright red as it fired off its laser rifle into the air, errors in it’s code sending spasms through its mechanical hands.  A nano pod buzzed past Varis’s head, its deadly cargo stricking one of Platoon two’s troopers square in the chest as she landed. The subatomic small machines bore into her chest, eating their way through flesh, organs and bone. She dropped into a shivering pile of twitching jelly as the nanites consumed her entire body.

A burning force pierced Varis’s shoulder, and he turned to see his left shoulder ripped open by the vibroblade of a Cyborg. Biting his lip to keep from crying out he leveled the Defiant at the creatures chest and fired. The explosive force was enough to send Varis flying backwards, however the cyborg faired much worse, its internal organs liquefied from the force of the round. The shell continued its path and Varis watched a straight line of dead technocrats drop to the ground along the bullets trajectory.  It brought a smile to his face.

Another burning pain exploded in his gut, as lances of laser fire from some unknown location pierces through his body armor and more than likely punctured a lung. His breathing became heated and labored. A armored arm appeared in his view and he lashed out, severing it from the owner. Red blood covered his body as his arms flared wildly, slicing and dicing anything that came into view.  His Defiant blasting in all directions, his shoulder severed from its socket. He heard a scream and it took him a moment to realize it was in fact his own.

His arms fell limp at his side. One’s shoulder so ruined it wouldn’t respond to any command, the other losing blood at an alarming rate. Varis’s vision began to blur as a multi barrel blazer cannon swung inline with his face. The world slowly spun around as objects went in and out of focus. Varis’s head slipped to the side and a smile creeped onto his face. The last thought to enter his mind was one of satisfaction.  As his life slipped away from him his drop watch finally beeped to the 90 seconds mark.

He was after it all, above average, and that was enough for him. With that final thought a blazerbolt flash fired his head to the ground.