Atonement

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Atonement

Post by Steel on Sun Aug 14, 2011 1:09 am

Title: Atonement
Author: Steel
Fandom: Buzz Lightyear Of Star Command
Character(s): Commander Nebula, Evil Emperor Zurg, etc.
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 3,336 words
Warning(s): Blood and violence.
Disclaimer: By Disney / Pixar
Summary: Duty comes calling at the new colony Morph for a recently-appointed Commander Nebula when it comes under attack. Little does he know who the real target of the then-unknown alien attacker is and that duty comes calling for a future ranger, as well...

This plot was entirely thought up of by EEZ, set forty or so years before the events of her fic, Beginning of the End, which you should go read if you haven't done so already! I expressed a desire in writing it because it was such an interesting concept and she let me, and I uploaded it on FanFiction.net a while back here. We also commissioned Vivz to make art for it here and it came out fantastic!

So now I'm sharing it again with you guys, and I hope you like it!


Spoiler:
Flames crackled, popping with the heat, devouring the debris and wreckage hungrily. Smoke, black and thick, blotted out the sky like a miasma. The warships above could barely be discerned, like hawks circling their prey. The only forewarning someone hapless enough to wander unprotected outside in the open had was the flash of red and the sound of impeding death before toppling down to the earth, lifeless.

Death and decay reigned supreme. Everywhere you turned, you could see the telltale signs. Screams of agony and despair, people running and stumbling in their haste to flee—who in the cosmos knew where?—as everything crumbled around them.

Everything they ever knew, everything they ever loved, tumbling into chaos... their fresh start in this new world all for naught.

"Right flank! Keep the line steady! Left flank! Get those colonists out of here and make it snappy!"

A tanned man dressed in a crisp white spacesuit surveyed the chaos, shouting orders at the top of his lungs as he crouched low behind a half-destroyed wall. His uniform was splotched and smeared with dirt and blood, but he paid it no heed as he concentrated on taking down enemy troops with his wristlaser, sweat trickling down his face into his thick moustache.

"Commander!" a similarly-garbed soldier called out then, crawling up to him quickly. "Commander Nebula!"

"What the blue blazes is it?" Nebula barked. "Spit it out, son, we're in the middle of a battle here!"

"The scouts have reported the... the enemy, sir!" the soldier replied with a nervous swallow. "It's making its way towards those buildings in the distance, sir!"

"Blast it," he muttered under his breath.

"And sir, the colonists we've rescued so far say that there are more still trapped down there!"

Blast it again, the commander thought savagely. He couldn't spread his forces too thinly. It was bad enough that he had already been forced to split them in half to save as many survivors as they could. Any more and they would be shot down like weeds.

He wished that he could have brought a larger force with him. Or at least that these colonists had any idea about warfare. Unfortunately, most of them didn't even know how to use a blaster, let alone fend for themselves. The few who knew—alien mercenaries hired on to protect shipment vessels, mostly—had already fled or perished. It had been a stupid idea for humans to colonise such a faraway world as Morph... but who would have thought that it would all go down like this?

"All right, change of plans..." Nebula growled. "Lieutenant!" he snapped, raising his voice to be heard over the exchange of gunfire. "You're in charge here! Keep the ranks steady and try to get any survivors out of here! I'll be taking Special Task Force Beta with me to the complex!"

"Yes, sir, Commander!" the lieutenant saluted before turning his attention back to the battlefield.

"Task Force Beta, move out!"

"Yes, sir!"

Like finely-tuned clockwork soldiers, the five troopers followed Nebula down the rubble and wreckage and into the basin below.

Morph's colony was unlike any other that Nebula had previously laid eyes upon. Though it wasn't a necessity for the operating commander of their fledgling new organisation—that didn't even have a proper name yet—to visit each new colony, it was encouraging when he did so, because it meant that the Galactic Alliance cared about its citizens and would ensure their safety in the best way possible.

Nebula snorted and shook his head incredulously. If that were so, why didn't they have more back-up? At this rate, they wouldn't even make it through the day. They just didn't have enough manpower to last for long against such forces.

And he had a small inkling he knew who had sent such forces against them...

Once they had made it at the bottom of the basin, where most of the buildings were still more or less intact, Nebula gestured to the others and they split up, blasters at the ready as they made their way slowly and cautiously from building to building. Most were already empty, but some still had occupants, and the commander would tell them rather bluntly that they'd be safer running for their lives than lying in wait for the unknown. That tactic had always worked wonders when people needed a firm push in the right direction, he'd discovered.

Once he had emerged from the building with only a couple more left to evacuate, the earth suddenly began to tremble beneath his feet. He managed to maintain his balance and looked up wildly just in time to see a plasma missile from a warship overhead careening towards the ground nearby.

Ducking out of the way into the next building to avoid the blast, he was thrown clean off his feet by the force of the impact, falling to the ground as the structure began to quake. He got up and made to escape, but realised that the entrance had been caved in by the explosion.

Craters.

Gritting his teeth and muttering a few choice swearwords under his breath, he turned around and went deeper into the building, looking for another exit. There was another ear-splitting explosion, and this time, judging by the vibrations and the way the building's walls began to sag and splinter and fire had begun to crackle, it had gone through this very building.

Nebula burst through the wreckage, covering his mouth and nose with a forearm so as not to inhale the smoke. He could have just slipped on his helmet, but all the ash and soot lingering in the air would have obscured his vision rather than aided him.

He stumbled over shrapnel and debris, side-stepping a metal column that groaned beneath the sagging weight of the collapsing roof overhead before it finally tore apart and plummeted to the ground with a shriek. The thunderous impact caused him to lose his balance again, hurling him face-first into the rubble.

He coughed and wheezed, scrambling back to his feet as he cursed under his breath and lurched forwards. He spat out blood that dripped down his chin before hastily wiping it away with the back of his hand.

Maybe ducking in here for cover hadn't been such a good idea, after all...

He darted from room to room, looking both for a way out and for any straggling survivors, though he doubted if any had been in here, especially on the topmost floors, that would have survived the impact. Now, if only he could just—

He froze in his tracks when he saw a huddled form in the corner of the next room he entered. It was a woman, that much he could tell, and she seemed to be holding onto something in her arms for dear life.

"Sweet mother of Venus," he muttered, moving forwards. "What the cosmos are you—?"

But Nebula never got to finish his phrase, for the woman suddenly sprang to her feet, a blaster in hand as she pointed it at him with the practised ease of someone who was very familiar with the particular weapon.

The commander backtracked. He hadn't known that any of the colonists could handle weapons. She was certainly one of them, wearing their familiar tan-coloured getup, but there was something else about her...

And then it clicked.

His eyes widened in recognition, and it seemed as if the woman had recognised him too, for she blinked as she took in his appearance, then lowered her weapon. "You're with the Galactic Alliance?" she asked, her voice one of mingled disbelief and relief.

"That's right, ma'am." He closed the gap between them. "Are you hurt?"

"No, I'm fine... so far," she said, adjusting the bundle in her arms, which Nebula realised with a start was a... a baby? Oh, he would have to have words with her about that, but now wasn't the time, for there was another alarming tremble, causing the building to shudder around them.

"Look, not that I want to be a killjoy or anything, but this place is falling—"

There was a grinding shriek of metal against metal as the structure around them began to shake violently, and Nebula quickly grabbed the woman to shield her from the explosion.

But when the trembling finally ceased and Nebula lifted his head, trying to make out what was happening through the smoke, he realized that it hadn't been an explosion that had caused that terrible sound.

The metallic wall had been torn apart, jagged marks left across the edges of the material like imprints left from an animal's claws, as if something primal had forcefully wrenched them open. But before the young commander could even begin to wonder what could have done such a thing, his eye caught a flicker of movement from behind the blackened veil of smoke.

There, just beyond his vision, stood an immense figure, its edges smudged in darkness. It was incredibly tall and broad-shouldered, covered from head to foot in an alien suit of armour with rippling metallic plates that glistened in the crackling flames surrounding its form. Cruel, sharp talons protruded from thick gauntlets, and with every step the creature took, the earth trembled. But perhaps even more fearsome than its appearance was the way its eyes flared beneath its helm, like two hateful, burning coals boring into Nebula's eyes.

The commander felt the blood drain from his face as a cold chill settled into the pits of his stomach. The fire around him didn't seem to be giving off as much heat as before. It was as if everything had grown dangerously still. The only thing he could hear was the sound of his breathing, unnaturally loud in his ears, and the sensation of his heart beating wildly against his ribcage. But he could still see it rapidly approaching...

Coming right for them.

"Move!" he ordered the woman, hauling her unceremoniously to her feet. "Get out of here! I'll hold it off!"

"But—"

"It's after you!" he snapped, pushing her to the side as he turned to meet the charging creature head-on. "Just do it! Run!"

He barely registered her stumbling over debris as she escaped through a crack in the wall behind him, for at that very moment the creature descended upon him with a howl of fury.

Nebula felt his back slam into the ground, a heavy weight pressing against his chest almost crushing him and pinning his arms together. He felt splinters of pain course through him and gasped for breath as he struggled to heave the alien off.

He didn't know how, but he took in every detail with a stunning clarity. Must have been the adrenaline rush, he surmised. Up close, the armour was not as impressive as it had been from afar. Scratches and dents marred its surface, combined with soot and soil, with several niches and chips here and there. But the claws were still sharp, as proven by the way they had effortlessly torn through his spacesuit and had sunk deep into his shoulders, causing him to cry out.

He tried to ignore the pain and continued to struggle against the creature, but it was futile. He could feel its hot breath upon his face, which reeked of all sorts of unpleasant smells. Something splashed onto Nebula's face and he flinched. Though he still couldn't see very much of the alien's face, he could definitely see its larger-than-life teeth, yellowed with age and dripping with blood.

Red blood.

Human blood.

"You monster!" Nebula roared, managing to yank his right arm, which had been pinned between their chests, out into the open with a sudden burst of strength, firing his wristlaser at it.

There was a flash of bright red, and with a howl, the alien leapt off of him, covering its eyes with its claws as it doubled over.

So the thing's eyes were sensitive! Nebula grinned triumphantly as he scrambled to his feet and immediately lashed out at its face with a kick now that it was weak...

...Only for the alien to suddenly clamp onto his leg with its teeth, the tips sinking into his flesh as easily as a knife cut through butter.

And he could have sworn that the look the creature shot him was almost smug.

Craters...

He felt a brilliant flash of pain—blinding, searing pain—and then nothing but black.

—————

She ran blindly through the haze, her blood pounding in her head as nothing but the sound of her heavy footfalls filled her ears. She ignored the chaos and mayhem reigning around her—she just couldn't look at all the bodies, bodies of people she knew, with whom she had spoken to only mere hours ago...

How had everything gone so horribly wrong?

She clutched the infant to her chest, slipping over rocks, with every gasp for breath lodging in her throat. She had to find a place to hide, somewhere that the alien would never think of looking... but time was running out, and she was acutely aware of the fact.

She tripped over a protruding clump of metal and stumbled, scraping her ankle. The pain registered after a few moments, and she gave a small cry as she protectively held her baby closer. Gnashing her teeth together, she struggled back to her feet and began to make her way across the compound, limping. Though her speed had been drastically reduced, she plodded on determinedly, despite her limbs trembling with pain and exhaustion.

She finally managed to drag herself down to the centre of the colony. She leaned against a crumbled wall, panting as sweat stained her face. This had been where the attackers had first struck, the destruction and devastation around painstakingly apparent. Half-demolished buildings, the ground stained red with soulless husks and congealing blood...

She quickly averted her gaze, and her eyes fell upon a gaping crevice instead.

It was abnormally large. You wouldn't call it a crevice. Fissure wasn't the right word, either. But despite the lack of proper terminology, it was still an ugly scar upon the land, caused by weapons of unknown origin. She could see flickers of flames dancing along its walls—who knew how many had already met their ends in its depths?—and quickly backed up into an alley, trying to get as much space as she could between them and the chasm.

She clutched her precious bundle closer, hoping that she would be safe and undetected in the shadows. Her ears strained to catch any sound, any whisper upon the dry breeze that would forewarn her of danger. But the only sounds she could hear were the sounds of the raging battle in the distance.

She was safe... for now.

The pain in her ankle returned with renowned vigour, and she drew in her breath with a hiss as she looked down at her leg to inspect her wound. Her boot had been torn where the metal had slashed her and had torn into her skin, soaking the better part of her lower foot in red. She felt her breath catch in her throat as she looked back at the invisible path that she had followed up to here.

Angry splotches of red strewn haphazardly at irregular intervals trailed back to her hiding spot, leading all the way from—

Her blood froze in her veins when she heard a howl rent the air like a knife.

Fear and terror compelled her to move; she sprang from her cover and half-ran, half-dragged herself to the other side of the compound. But her wound still continued to bleed, leaving an obvious trail in her wake, and her leg was in no condition for her to be making mad sprints.

Soon enough, the strain was too much, and her knees buckled beneath her as she fell to the dirt. She managed to twist her body in a way so she would fall onto her back to prevent any harm coming to her child, but it had done little good.

A large shadow loomed above her, and she lifted wide, frightened eyes to it.

The extraterrestrial being, armour gleaming and red eyes still burning, stood above her like a towering behemoth, unrivalled power emanating from it. She felt like she was suffocating, just by being so close to it. Blood dripped from its gaping maw, and she felt her stomach twist in realisation.

"No," she gasped.

The being merely snarled at her, then bent down and mercilessly wrenched the infant from her grip with an almost effortless tug, so drained was her energy.

"No!" she cried, grabbing the alien's cape with numb fingers. "Not my baby! Anything but my baby, please!"

It gave no indication that it had heard her pleas as it moved forward and toward the fiery chasm. And though her weak wails rose shrilly, and she tried to grab onto its cape, its legs, anything that could stop its one-way path, it did little help besides cause the alien to shrug her off with a snort.

"Bu..." she croaked weakly, her sight growing dim as her fingers stretched longingly toward the retreating alien's feet.

—————

His hot breath steamed in the air, despite the heat. Though fires blazed white-hot around him, the environment was as cold and as barren to him as the armour encasing his form.

As it should be, a part of him thought with a grim satisfaction. This planet deserved to be ravaged. All the destruction in the cosmos would not be able to atone for their sins...

And for his.

The bundle in his arms squirmed slightly in his grasp, and he could feel the light, fluttering heart of the infant contained therein, obscured from his vision only by the thin layer of cloth it was swathed in for protection. It pulsed with such life and vitality that it was almost a shame that the infant's fate had already been sealed.

And by one of its own blood, no less.

He lifted the bundle high into the air, above the fire and carnage broiling to a pitch below. He could hear nothing in his dazed fervour; neither the terror above, nor the carnage taking place miles away.

Only the fire, the blazing red fire... and then a new sound that pierced the silence, the most pitiable sound imaginable to the ears of any living creature.

The bundle squirmed more vigorously in his grip, and the baby's head poked out from beneath the blanket, limbs flailing as it wailed for its mother.

And slowly, inadvertently, his eyes drifted to the baby's. He could see himself reflected in those large, tear-filled blue eyes. Garbed in metal with a look that screamed vengeance, and the blood of the innocent staining his mouth, dripping down his teeth and lips...

Just like a monster.

The baby's cries ceased, as he noticed in his startled realisation that it too, was staring at him in return. But its expression was not one of terror, or disgust. It was still too young for such notions. No... its expression was hesitant, curious... free of impurity, still untainted...

Innocent.

The silence was almost deafening, though the mother still wept, death still reigned supreme, and the fires still burned.

And just as it seemed that he would hurl the infant to its doom, he slowly lowered his hands and stepped away from the crevice, the burning hatred in his eyes dimming. Turning around, he spotted the woman's limp form and gently laid the bundle beside her.

She looked up at him through dazed, red-rimmed eyes, her expression clearly indicating her disbelief and confusion as she clutched the baby possessively to her chest with hands that trembled.

But he gave no further explanation or indication of his actions as he turned around and walked away, leaving only destruction in his wake.

For how could he, when he himself was not entirely sure what had just passed between them...?

And that's it! Tell me what you think. Smile


Last edited by Steel on Tue Jun 26, 2012 4:13 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Atonement

Post by SteffieMusings on Tue Aug 23, 2011 12:37 pm

I found this to be a powerful piece. My favourite scene would have to be when the alien snatched the baby from the mother, yet didn't harm it in the end after it had made eye contact with him. That connection they had for that moment had definitely added another layer to their relationship.
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