Each weekend, I will post a short, short piece. This weekend comes courtesy of storypraxis.com and today’s prompt for writing “wreckage”.
“In this wreckage I hope not.” Captain Scarn motioned for the salvage team to move into the broken walls and shattered stained glass. “If you find anyone alive, I want to know.”
The salvage team consisted of five soldiers in gray and black hazard gear. As they moved into the collapsed building, I watched their beams swing back and forth in the darkness. Here and there, the beams played over the broken faces of icons, statues, and gargoyles.
“What do you think, Beal?” Scarn asked as he checked his blaster.
I studied my screen carefully. Five points of red moved across the 3D readout as the salvage team dispersed throughout the structure. “What do I think about what, sir?”
“About our mission.” Captain Scarn glared at me and even through his partially opaque helmet I could see the fury in his eyes.
“Sir, I’m just a soldier. I do what I am told.” I averted my gaze. That glare made me uncomfortable. Scarn was ruthless.
“Soldiers can think, Beal. You have my permission to speak. After all, you’re more than just a grunt. You’re a healer.”
The salvage team was nearing the far side of the large chamber before us. My heart began to race. I swallowed and was glad Scarn couldn’t see the sweat trickling down my face. “As a healer, I can never condone the taking of a human life. My job is to heal. My oath is to ‘do no harm’.”
Scarn’s laughter rattled over the speakers in my helmet. “Do no harm? Isn’t that what the occupants of this building were supposed to believe? Turn the other cheek. Love thy enemy. Do no repay evil with evil.”
I glanced at him. “I didn’t realize you knew scripture.”
Scarn leaned toward me and his face twisted in hatred. “I KNOW my enemy, Beal. I don’t love them. I destroy them. Intolerance will not be tolerated!”
I nodded and watched as the five red spots simultaneously disappeared from my sensor screen. I angled it away so Scarn would not see it. Now, it was my turn. “Sir, why do we kill these people?”
Scarn snorted. “They’ve killed millions over the centuries. They and their ilk. Doesn’t matter what their theology. Doesn’t matter who their god is. All religion leads to destruction. Fanaticism must be extinguished.”
I gazed over the debris of Notre Dame Cathedral. This had been my home. This had been my abode for a thousand years. This had been my purpose. And, now it lay broken and ruined beneath the Captain’s artillery. All destroyed in the name of Intolerance. Green pinpoints of light appeared at the edge of the screen and Scarn jerked his helmet in my direction.
“What is that?”
“There are over a dozen, sir. And, they are moving this way.”
“Those are not our men.”
I turned toward him and let the skin slide away from my face; felt the bones and muscles shift into stone and mortar and brick and vengeance. My snout and horns burst through my helmet and it fell away in pieces. I tossed the motion grid aside and my claws tore through the gloves. Scarn fumbled for his blaster and I swiped it away with one quick motion.
“We are the protectors, Scarn. We are the reason they can turn the other cheek. Because we don’t have to.” I slammed my clawed hand through his helmet and crushed his skull in one fluid movement. My brother gargoyles appeared behind me.
Scarn’s body collapsed onto the broken stones of Notre Dame Cathedral and a bit of prismed moonlight glimmered through the remnants of the stained glass to paint his broken face in reds and blues.
“Sorry. We couldn’t tolerate you anymore.”