Lina was floating toward a vast expanse of red-brown mud that stretched
as far as the eye could see. She touched down gently in the mire and fell
to her knees, immediately sinking several inches.
She felt her wings flutter slightly in the wind, and folded them. It was a hot, dry wind that burned her throat and stung her eyes. Lina realized that there was something in her hands. It was the Weapon. She clutched it to her chest. There was a road in front of her, worn flat by the wheels of vehicles and the feet of travellers. The sky was dark-gray and the sun overhead was a bright, blinding red.
"What kind of place is this?" Lina wondered aloud.
Something was coming down the road toward her. A column of humanoid beings. There were dozens of them, shuffling forward from exhaustion, and from a distance they looked like beasts composed entirely of mud. But as they slowly drew closer, Lina gasped. They were humans, but so caked in the sticky red mud that it was almost impossible to tell. Bound in stocks and manacles, they pressed forward, groaning and crying, shuffling past Lina without even a glance in her direction. They passed by in their dozens, which soon turned into a hundred or more.
Behind the column of mud-covered men Lina saw a convoy of massive vehicles. They were giant, four-wheeled wooden contraptions, which rolled forward slowly, groaning and creaking. There was something odd about that groaning sound. Looking closer, Lina's heart skipped a beat as she realized that the wheels of the vehicles were composed of dozens of human beings, chained together to make a wheel but still alive, crying weakly as they went around and around.
A human sat in the control seat of the lead vehicle. He wore a military uniform and held a loudspeaker.
"This is not punishment!" he roared through the loudspeaker. "This is mercy! This is not suffering! This is joy! The Worm God has passed judgement on your race! Rejoice! Sing praise! You who are lower than maggots, you are the Chosen Ones! Sing, damn you, sing!!"
As the vehicle passed closer, Lina stood up, feeling the mud squishing between her toes. Still holding the weapon to her chest she yelled as loud as she could "Excuse me, sir?! Hello?!"
"Whuh?" the officer blubbered, looking down. He pointed the loudspeaker at Lina and blared "Hello, miss! How can I help you?!"
"Umm..." Lina said. "I was wondering what was going on here... with all these people..."
"We're going to feed the God of Worms!" the officer laughed. "Everyone, even me! You're welcome to join, too!"
"The God of Worms?"
"It's our Universe's only contribution to the War." the officer continued. "It's a massive living weapon, so powerful it can split atoms with it's claws! It breathes antimatter and its farts can make a sun go supernova! It's really cool! But a weapon that powerful needs a lot of energy to function, yea?"
"That's terrible!" Lina screamed. "How... how can you?!"
"It's better than being consumed by the Dark Force!" the officer grinned. "Surely you know that!"
9/2/2005 2:20:29 PM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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