Learning Curve

52.1K 1.1K 74

It took a moment for the world to stop spinning.  Then my eyes were fluttering open and I took a quick look around and found myself laying awkwardly a few paces from where the remains of Tate's carriage silently smoldered.  Then I was fighting not to scream as pain washed through me.  How was this possible?  How could I feel pain with an undead body??

It was good that I managed to avoid screaming; even as I bit my tongue against the agony and began a frantic inventory of my injuries, I felt a shudder go through the ground as something heavy landed nearby.  Then massive shapes were all around me, armored forms nearly five metres in height, carrying what looked like long barreled rifles that they used to prod the carriage's wreckage with.

Were these the aliens Tate had been talking about?

"They must've spotted the carriage with motion detection."  The pale, thin Risen whispered hoarsely as he slithered into my field of vision, moving closer while never taking his eyes off the cluster of armored forms investigating the wreckage.  Outside of his clothing being somewhat tattered and abused, he appeared unhurt.

"And put a rocket into us for our troubles."  He paused to glance over at me, a grimace immediately twisting his pale features at what he saw.

"Now that is a mess, my friend."  He husked, crawling around my broken body. 

"You've got multiple lacerations, broken bones and blunt force trauma.  Not to mention, you're missing your left arm."

"W-what?" I hoarsely stammered, the pain so consuming, I almost couldn't speak.  I tried twisting enough to see my left arm which, to me, felt like it was still attached.  But in doing so I only unleashed another wave of searing pain through my battered body. Unable to hold it in, I cried out in agony.

Instantly several helmeted heads swung around to bring dark visor-covered faces to bear on us.

"Damn."  Tate hissed.  Then he was on his feet and charging them in one fluid motion.  As he ran towards the giant forms, he yelled over his shoulder.

"Use your abilities, Max, to heal your wounds and return your arm to its rightful place.  Then seek out others like you."  Then he was jumping with impossible speed and agility just in time to avoid a blast from one of the rifles that, with an ear-splitting howl, screamed by overhead without striking anything.

Landing on the shoulders and chest of one of the armored forms, Tate then clawed the creature's helmet off with a surge of unnatural strength, revealing a large, rounded, hairless head, sloping face with deep-set black eyes, a heavy lower jaw and a ravenous mouth surrounded by finger sized tendrils.  It appeared to be covered in greenish black scale, like a reptile's, yet gleamed as if covered with slime, like an amphibian.

It was repulsive, and horrifying as it threw open a mouth filled with needle-like teeth and snarled something in a language filled with gobbling and barking sounds.  At the same time it fumbled for a weapon attached to its waist, Tate too close for it to use the rifle on him.  If he was intimidated by the giant alien's terrible face, Tate didn't show it, leaning in for what looked like a kiss from those lashing tendrils.

Stunned by the viciousness of Tate's counterattack, I nevertheless half expected the thing to use those teeth and that heavy carnivore's jaw to take a bite out of the pale Risen's face.  Then, despite my battered condition and being consumed with pain, I gasped out loud in shock when, with actinic snarls, tendrils of greenish-blue energy erupted from Tate's open mouth to bite deep into the alien's face.

Immediately the creature screamed in pain, throwing its rifle away to grab and pull at Tate's body.  To no avail; despite the alien's massive size, it didn't possess the strength to pull the determined Risen free.  Then it's screams of pain took on a new, desperate tone and its fellows rushed to help it.  A heart beat later I saw why: Tate was somehow using the tendrils to pull energy from the alien's body, the tendrils themselves pulsating as if sucking, the alien's skin losing its luster with each second the tendrils were connected to its face, its scream of pain swiftly fading.

RisenWhere stories live. Discover now