Viridity, Part 12: Good Luck

“So, yeah, it looks like there’s going to be a huge battle in the courts, but Intelligence going to go down.”

Shanna let out a small “Ah,” as she looked out the window. The forest was starting to wither with out the viridity to sustain it.

Wallace raised an eyebrow. “You almost sound sorry for the people that tried to kill you.”

Shanna shifted herself, turning toward the guardian. “I can’t say they were wrong. I’ve put a lot of people in danger here. I’ve done it before, and I’m going to do it again. Doesn’t stopping me seem at least a little justified then?”

“After everything they did? No.”

The two of them looked at each other, their disagreement unspoken. Then Wallace stepped up to her, an patted her arm. “Look, I know you have misgivings about bringing viridity back to the world, but just…do what you have to do, and I’ll do what I need to do.”

Wallace turned and walked away. Quietly, the seer said “Good luck.”


If you like this story, please support the House Apart on Patreon.

Viridity, Part 11: Within Green Fire

Brambles grew out of the woman’s wound, as the viridian flames got throught the bullet hole in her suit. Shoving the image aside, Shanna turned towards the center of the fire, even she heard Wallace screaming at one of the men from outside. She swam towards the brass orb, hoping that is wasn’t too late to stop the outflow of viridity. But the flow of the energy was too strong, and as Shanna reached out for the device, she was pulled away, her hope escaping her grasp.

“Why?”

She called out to viridity, even as its flows threw her around.

“Is this what you want?”

She tried to pull herself closer to the orb, even as the currents started to eat away at her suit.

“Do you want to hurt them? For them to fear you?”

The second layer, still shielding her from the flames, was visible now. Soon, that, too, would be eaten away.

“Or are you trying to let me bring you back to humanity?”

The mesh underlay burned and teared, leaving little but a thin layer of synthetic material between the viridian flames and Shanna’s skin.

“Tell me!”

She made one last lunge for the metal ball. Somehow, the flow of the fire shifted at that moment, and Shanna reached it easily. Quickly, she entered the commands, and the orb drove itself into the center of the fire, shoving it’s spikes into the soil beneath. Shanna laid on the ground, exhausted, and the fire was extinguished.


If you like this story, please support the House Apart on Patreon.

Viridity, Part 10: Error

They stood at the edge of the crater where the viridian reactor used to be. Emerald wisps of fire were strewn about the depression, and also on the great tree in the center of the new forest. Wherever the green fire burned, new life sprang up; wood, leaves, and fruit were formed in a process like a reverse burning.

“This is it, isn’t it?” asked one of the newcomers. “What do we do now?”

“Take care that nothing interrupts me, please,” said Shanna, placing the spherical package on the ground. “And try not to get killed yourself.”

She unzipped the bag revealing a device made of yellow ocher metal. She opened a panel on it, and started to fiddle with things. Two of the strangers looked out over the edge of the crater, while the third, a woman, watched the flames. Wallace stood near Shanna, guarding her, while Aber watched the woman watching the flames.

It was always the flames that set them off, after all. At the first sign that Shanna was making things worse, like flash of flame, or in this case, its guttering, somebody’s paranoia went off. Aber called out to Wallace, even as he took aim and fired a shot at the woman. Between the shock of the hit and Wallace shoving Shanna out of the way, the woman missed. But in the commotion, the half configured sphere was also knocked aside. Sharp needles jutting out from its side managed to puncture the great, flaming tree.

“No,” said Shanna. “Nononononono.”

And then the world was green fire.


If you’re enjoying this story, please support the House Apart on Patreon.

Viridity, Part 9: Meeting

“Wallace, what is it?”

The uniformed man aimed his gun at a shift in the foliage. “Woah, easy there, chief.”

Into the dim light stepped another man, shorter than Wallace, and wearing the same uniform. Behind him, were several more people, all wearing the same clothes as the first.

“You are more allies, I take it?” asked Shanna.

“Seems that way,” said the stranger. “And from the looks of things, you could use some more people.”

“Could be,” she said. She turned to Aber and Wallace. “What do you think?”

The older man looked at the younger, who eventually gave a nod. As Shanna directed the newcomers forward, Aber stepped up to Wallace.

“So, what’s do you think of them?”

“They aren’t moving the way I was taught,” said the enforcer. “Watch them.”

Viridity, Part 8: Battle

Shanna’s blade of green energy cut through the thornman’s wooden neck, releasing green mist across her mask. Though the filter’s let her breath in uncontaminated air, the fog on the lenses distracted her for a moment. This meant that she barely had enough time to drive the hilt of her weapon into the torso of another monster throwing itself at her, and could barely see as she cut into its chest, releasing another blast of gas from its lifeless remains.

She felt a change in the air as a shadow fell over her. She tried to turn, but she could already tell than she wasn’t going to have enough time to keep the new thornman from landing on her, only the agonizing adrenaline-fueled slowness of trying to turn. She heard a pop of a gun firing, muffled as it was by her mask, and puff of green mist escaping from the head of the corpse that was now landing on her.

Even as Shanna threw the body off of her, the familiar footsteps came up to her, cracking of shot after shot into the charging horde. She stood up and stood back to back with her ally, protecting him even as he protected her. Between bullet and blade, only exhaustion could bring them down, and even that stopped being a concern once the warriors from the settlement arrived to aid them.

“Aber,” said Shanna, “do you have it?”

“Yeah, I have your thing,” said Aber. “Now let’s go clean up your mess.”


If you’re enjoying this story, please support the House Apart on Patreon.

Viridity, Part 7: Monster

A thousand legs carried the carapaced monstrosity out of the newly formed jungle, carrying a viridian mist behind it. As the fog of green spread, tender shoots of plant-life emerged from the ground. Onward the monstrosity rushed, the ground trembling before it, heedlessly hurtling itself towards the settlement.

But the great metal walls of the settlement, curved like an inverted bowl, stopped its advance. It ran up the lustrous surface and fell over onto its back, as the green gas that came with it was trapped outside. Dozens of humans looked over the top of the barrier, took aim, and fired. Hundreds of bullets hit the belly of the monster, shattering the chitin and letting moss-colored ichor splash and flow to the ground.

The monster’s screams filled the air, as from the wall, a figure jumped over and slid down it. The woman reached into her cloak and pulled out a weapon, a blade of green light emerging from a brassy hilt. Masked against the mist, she climbed on to the head of the viridian creature, and buried her weapon into its skull, leaving it still.

This done, she turned to face the other dangers she had unleashed.


If you’re enjoying this story, please support the House Apart on Patreon.

Viridity, Part 6: Barriers

“Oh, it’s you,” said Shanna. “Did you just come from a funeral?”

Wallace stared. People were running about, lashing ropes to vast plates of metal and pulling them up into walls. He recognized some of them from headquarters, where Shanna should have been being kept.

“Shanna, what the hell? What are you doing, how did you get these people to help, and why did they let you out?”

The cloaked girl shrugged. “Somethings are too important to wait around for.”

“Like what?” asked Wallace.

Shanna watched as a metal wall rose before her, blocking off the sight of the aftermath of the reactor she overloaded.

“Like avoiding more funerals.”


If you’re enjoying this story, please support the House Apart on Patreon.

Viridity, Part 5: What Else Could She Do?

The door slammed open, and the guardian commander stormed into the spymaster’s office.

“What the hell did you think you were doings?” screamed the commander.

The spymaster looked up with one eyebrow raised.

“Don’t give me that look,” said the commander, closing the door. “You had your operatives attack one of my ships, apparently to get to someone that was already in custody. I deserve an explanation.”

Again the spymaster said nothing. He simply stood up, and went to the window that used to overlook the ruins. Used to, of course, because the people that the guardians had captured had somehow caused an inert reactor to explode and level everything. Now, a profusion of plant matter had sprung up over the remains. The initial explosion of growth had stopped, but that just meant that they had to prepare for what was going to emerge from it.

The commander joined him at the window. He knew that those two, especially the young woman, had been involved in other strange and dangerous incidents. He had heard the reports of why she was not welcome in her homeland. And standing there, looking at the latest disaster that had followed in her wake, both officials contemplated the unasked question that hung in the air.

Viridity, Part 4: Falling

As the third body hit the ground, Wallace turned to the old man. “Abba, who’s attacking us?”

“Hell if I know,” said Aber. “I was just pretending that I was one of them. Does your city have any clandestine enemies?”

The officer blinked. “What do you mean, clandestine?”

Aber gave him a long, slow look. “Mr. Wallace, your ship, which is crewed by armed men and women, is being attacked by a well-equipped unit that has made a significant, even foolish, amount of effort into looking like a random assortment of thugs. And aren’t you curious about who they are, Shanna?”

The dark-haired girl jumped at being addressed. “Yes. People trying to kill me. Very important.” She went back to staring into space.

Then, all three of them heard a crack. It was Shanna that moved first, bringing the two men to the open space in the middle of the ship. While the blue sky of the breaking dawn stretched above them, their attention was on the electric red of the anti-gravity plate below them. “Come on,” the girl said, jumping down onto the plate, expecting her companions to follow.

“Do you see this?” Aber and Wallace looked where she was pointing. The crack grew, releasing splinters of material from the plate. “They did that on purpose. Eventually, it’s going to propagate right across the board, breaking in twain. Now, as it stands, we’re slowly drifting to the ground, mostly because we were already going forward and the anti-grav is only starting to weaken. When the board cracks though, that’s going to be a problem for everyone left on the ship.”

As Shanna pushed Wallace and Aber closer together, the patrolman asked, “Surely, there must be a way to get people off safely.”

Shanna pulled out two of her weapons, and threw one onto the platform above the plate. “Viridity told me a way.” She activated the weapon in her hand, letting a blade of green light emerge from it. She drove the edge into the ground, and said, “They’ll have to use the tool I left them to cut out a piece of the board less than a meter across, like so.”

Officer Wallace scrambled for his radio as the three of them dropped out of the ship.


If you like this story, please support the House Apart on Patreon.

Viridity, Part 3: The Viridian Seer

Wallace walked into the room. Sitting at the table sat the girl from the ruins, in the black shirt and pants she was wearing under her white cloak and the assembly of brass objects she hung off of her body.

“Miss Shanna?” said the patrolman from beneath his visor. The addressed snapped her head to face him, like she had let her mind drift to another place and Wallace’s voice had called her back.

“Mm?”

“Your friend, Mr. Abba-“

“It’s Aber.”

Wallace blinked. “I’m sorry?”

“His name isn’t Abba,” said the girl. “It’s Aber. Errrrr. Aaaaah.”

The officer stared at the mouth that was making the bewildering sounds. “Well, he said ‘Abba’ was close enough.”

Shanna slumped back into her chair. “Very well, then. Now, what about the old man?”

“He gave an account about why you two were in those ruins. About how you came over here to learn things about what the old civilization knew about viridity.”

“Do you believe him?” she asked.

“Of course,” said Wallace. “Your clothes aren’t made from anything within a thousand clicks of here.” The girl sat up in her chair, with a finger raised. “Don’t ask me how I know that.”

Again, she slumped back, lips pursed in frustration. “So, what do you have to ask me?”

Wallace held the silence for a moment, not quite long enough to make her fidget. “How did you make a viridian reactor explode?”

Shanna gave her interrogator a searching gaze. “‘Make,’ huh?” She let here eyes drift away, looking around the room, no, at the walls. “This ship was made using viridity.”

“Answer the question.”

“Will you accept the answer?” said the girl. “Or are you one of the people that think the old secrets should lie buried?”

Wallace said, “Shoot.”

Shanna took a deep breathe. “Viridity, itself, told me how to overload the reactor.”

And that was the moment that something exploded.


If you’re enjoying this story, please support the House Apart on Patreon.