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Kage
12-24-2009, 11:46 PM
Chapter 1: The Black Widow of Khador



Kommander Boleslav Volozna sat patiently behind his desk. A Khard of great size, Volozna was an imposing figure even while sitting. His massive hands sat on top of a black folder with the red symbol of Khador emblazoned on it, drumming an old childhood tune. Footsteps sounded in the hall, and his eyes moved to the timepiece beside the photo of his wife. Thirty seconds early. He nodded in approval and stood at the sound of the soft knock on the door.

"Enter," his deep voice called. The door opened and a woman stepped inside, closing the door behind her. Volozna gestured at the chair in front of his desk. She wore her white winter uniform that was so close to the color of her skin that it almost seemed to swallow her up. Her hair, black as ink, was pulled back into a tight ponytail. Her left eyelid hung a little lower than the right, and a thin, pink scar ran down the center of it.

"Sit," he said, and it was not a request. Respectfully, she waited for him to take his seat, and then took the offered chair, garnering her another point in his mind. He had heard this one was like that; professional, respectful, and dependable.

He had seen photos of her before, but seeing her in person was a bit of a surprise. She was tiny, almost child-like, especially in comparison to him. She couldn't be more than 1.4 or 1.5 meters and maybe fifty kilos. It was hard to believe such a small soldier had accomplished so much. But they didn't call her the Black Widow for nothing.

"Do you know why you are here, Kapitan Zasha Nikolaevna?"

Zasha's mouth twisted a little at the formality of using her full name. She had heard that about Kommander Volozna: a respectful officer who had been a damn good soldier before receiving his command.

"I was transferred from the Second Army, Kommander," she said stiffly. The Third is for recruits and screw-ups. The insult still stung. Her left eyelid twitched uncontrollably with her anger. The milky-white iris, still showing a hint of the original blue color, trembled.

Volozna reclined in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest. "You feel slighted by this."

"I am happy to serve my country in any way I can, Kommander," she replied smoothly, with just enough of a smile to make it look almost genuine.

Volozna laughed heartily, and slapped his desk with one hand. "I bet you could recite that in your sleep, Kapitan! I am no great prince, a kommandant, or even a forward kommander. You may speak freely with me."

"My record is impeccable, Kommander," she said proudly. "I can see no good reason why I was pulled away from my unit to come play in a sandbox with children."

Volozna's eyebrows lifted, and for a moment, she thought she might have overstepped her permission to speak her mind. Then the big Khard smiled, wide and toothy. "Well said, Kapitan. If I were in your place I would feel the same way." Then he reached down and opened a desk drawer, producing a bottle and two squat glasses. He pulled out the cork and filled each halfway, and pushed her glass to the edge of his desk. He took a sip of the vyatka and watched her. Her one good eye moved from him, to the glass, and back. The left eye hardly moved.

"Not on duty, thank you, sir."

"You aren't ordered to report for duty until tomorrow morning, Kapitan. You got you here a day early."

"In that case," she said, picking up the glass and draining half of it in one smooth gulp. She nodded in appreciation of the quality.

"The reason you are here," Volozna explained, "is because of your impeccable record, Kapitan. There is a matter that needs your... special talents." He placed his hand on the folder and pushed it across the desk. Zasha drained the rest of her drink, set the glass down, and picked up the folder. Her eyes widened in surprise when she saw the heading.

"This is classified to above our pay grade. Even you shouldn't be seeing this, Kommander."

"It has been cleared for us to view it. Nothing we discuss beyond this point leaves the room."

"Of course, sir," she said, opening the folder. There was a brief description relating that the pictures within were obtained in Fellig some four months ago. Below that was a threat assessment of a new warwitch. She skimmed it and several words and phrases caught her eye: resourceful, good grasp of warjack tactics, exceptional strength, great arcane ability, and brutal. The witch was also seen running a Seether.

Zasha turned the page and looked at the first photo that was clipped to another report. It was a blurry image looking out at a massive force of undead and helljacks coming towards them, and a warwitch running her machines on the heels of a Menite warcaster. The description mentioned that she used the Menites to shield her own forces, and took great advantage of the close ranks of the enemy, destroying large numbers in seconds with the bonejacks before pulling back into the city to let her smaller force take on the superior numbers in the narrow streets, constantly moving the whole time.

The next picture raised her eyebrows in surprise and admiration. The warwitch was seen from behind whipping a lacerator through the air, cleaving an enemy Reaper in half at the waist. Not only had she never seen a human use one of those horrific Satyxis weapons, she had never seen one cleave a warjack in half. She noticed the chain weapon looked odd, and glanced up to the Kommander. "This second picture, what is wrong with it? Why does the lacerator look transparent? There is no notation."

"We don't know, but I doubt it is a problem with the photograph."

Zasha pursed her lips and flipped to the next picture: a stand-off in a large intersection. The witch on one side, and several Satyxis on the other. A human prisoner was being held at knifepoint. There was a good view of the warwitch from the front, her armor showing off her muscular arms, abdomen, and thighs. "I thought warwitches were supposed to be attractive? Using sex as a weapon and all that. This brute looks like a man with breasts."

Volozna chuckled. "Keep looking."

Flipping to the next photo, her eyes widened again. The figure of the witch was completely encased in flame, and her skeleton was visible in several places as a black silhouette. One hand was extended, spraying fire across several meters onto a Satyxis. Beside the one that was burning, there was an explosion with body parts clearly visible in the ejecta.

"Is this a spell?"

Volozna shook his head. "I spoke personally with the witness. He said there was not any casting, no runes, no nothing. In the blink of an eye she was encased in green flame."

"Green flame?"

Volozna nodded. "Green. Within seconds of being touched by those flames, the victims exploded. He also claims that one of the pirates was hit with the flaming... remnants, and was immediately consumed. They also burned to ash seconds later."

"Fascinating," Zasha whispered, returning to the pictures. The next was a picture of the witch in an unknown location with a Slayer and Seether to either side of her. Her horned helmet was off, carried beneath one arm, and she had a smirk on her face.

Zasha saw beyond that display of arrogance, however. This was the only picture where she actually got a look at the witch's eyes. Supreme confidence looked out at whoever had dared to take her picture; confidence that she would be the only one living if you challenged her or got in her way.

This was not one of the psychotic butchers that she normally read about from the ranks of Toruk's witches, or had faced personally. Not to say that the witches she had faced were not dangerous, but this was different. This one was a predator. She smiled and closed the folder, then gestured at her glass. "Another, sir?"

The Kommander obliged, filling both of their glasses again. "She was last seen on the outskirts of the Fingers several months ago, but there are reports that she is headed back this direction."

"Why would she be coming back?"

"We don't know."

Sipping her drink, Zasha opened the folder again and looked at the photo of the witch cutting the helljack in half. Then she flipped back to the initial report and read the rundown of information at the top before the description of the battle. "Warwitch Merdrix," she said aloud, getting a feel for the name.

?There is more,? Volozna said, producing a second folder from his desk and handing it to her. This one was plain and unmarked. ?Again, this information does not leave the room.?

She took the folder and opened it. It was a report from a mercenary named Rhodes. She looked back to the Kommander. ?You have worked with this man, Rhodes??

?He has taken a few assignments for us, yes. But this time, he was merely selling us information.?

?You've paid an ex-Cygnaran gun mage to kill people for you, you mean??

The large man shrugged. ?Isn?t that also what we pay you for, Kapitan??

His attempt at humor brought only silence from the small woman while she started to read the report. Rhodes was hired to recover the witch's armor and weapons for an unnamed third party. He expected to accomplish the job without encountering the witch, but had an interesting meeting with her. Zasha continued reading, then paused and looked up. ?He says she was draining his life force, and from touching her mind with his powers, knows that she can steal magic, memories, and even learned skills from someone.?

?A frightening prospect, and I?m sure you can appreciate the danger she could pose. Now do you see why you were transferred, Kapitan?"

"This witch is nothing like the others I have killed, sir," she said, setting the folder back on the desk. "This one is different. Did you see that last picture of her?"

"I did," he replied. "Her eyes made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.?

?Yes. This one might actually pose a challenge,? she said.

?Are you saying you can't handle this?"

Kage
12-24-2009, 11:49 PM
The change in Zasha Nikolaevna's face was subtle, but the effect was startling to Kommander Volozna. He suddenly wished he had a gun in his hand, for all the good it would do him. He swallowed hard, and was embarrassed that he had to look away from that one blue eye. It was like staring into the face of a wolf. Or a black widow that had you in her web.

"I will handle her, Kommander," she said softly. Then her faint little smile reappeared and the look was gone. "When is she expected?"

"Two or three weeks. That should give you ample time to prepare. I will have more details of expected arrival points sent to your quarters tomorrow. Dismissed, Kapitan."

Zasha shot to her feet and snapped off a crisp salute, then turned and left.
Boleslav poured himself another drink with a shaking hand and gulped it down. The forward kommander had tried to warn him about the unnerving presence of the tiny woman, but he had dismissed it as bravado or rumors to enhance her already fearsome reputation. He was thankful he wouldn?t have to see her again.

***

Recruits and screw-ups Zasha thought as she passed lines of Winterguard on her way down to the ground floor. There seemed to be no one in the prime of their years in the faces she passed. They were either still in their teens, fresh-faced and scared, or were washed up and wrinkled. As usual, her petite frame wearing warcaster insignia drew many stares. Her scarred left eye was the reason for their continued staring.

Some looked on in wide-eyed wonder, others with the respect due her position, and a small number showed her nothing but contempt and jealousy. She spared not a single glance for any of them, until she was just a few steps from the stairs descending to the second floor. The noise of dozens of voices and footsteps was suddenly hushed by a startlingly loud, high-pitched wolf whistle. Zasha stopped, knowing it had been for her, and turned.

The culprit was easy enough to spot, as everyone around him had taken several steps away, leaving him standing alone. He was also the only one without an expression of shock or fear on his face. He was a good looking kid, she had to admit. His lips were curled in a cocky smile, and he was nodding at her. His eyes were full of that hunger men had that she couldn't understand; she would never let such a base impulse control her like that. When she desired a man, she found one, but it never interfered with her job, or made her disrespect someone of a higher rank like this fool had done.

Putting on her best sultry smile, Zasha walked towards him slowly, watching with disgust as he looked her up and down, mentally undressing her. She stopped in front of him and had to look up to meet his eyes. "Do you even want to know my name, or should we just go straight to the sex?"

There were a few gasps and giggles from the crowd of recruits around them, but for the most part, the silence only grew more tense. Her admirer's eyes widened, but not in shock. It was like he had been handed a gift by a stranger. "Sure, what's your name?"

"Kapitan Nikolaevna. And yours?"

"Private Olayin Shvetsov."

"Olayin, do you know who I am?" she asked sweetly. Her left eyelid twitched a bit.

"A warcaster Kapitan, and a beautiful woman," he said with a grin.

She shook her head and gave him an apologetic look. "That's not what I meant. You don't recognize my name, do you?"

He shrugged. "Should I?"

"She's the Black Widow, you idiot!" someone behind Zasha called out. It was an older man's voice, one of the screw-ups, no doubt.

Olayin's face fell and the color started to drain from his face. He backed up, and flinched when he hit the wall. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I didn't know!"

Zasha stepped closer to him, her left eyelid twitching violently. The only change in her expression was something in her eyes, like a monster peeking out from behind a mask. Private Shvetsov whimpered and looked away from her, bringing his arms up to shield his face, as if she had drawn her gun and pointed it at him. She couldn't help but smile when he started to slide down the wall to a sitting position, arms still crossed over his face.

"Olayin, look at me."

"No, please!"

"On your feet, private!" she yelled. The young man did as he was told, standing up and wiping his eyes with his sleeve. "Never assume that someone's size is a measure of how dangerous they might be. And never disrespect an officer like that again."

"Yes ma'am. I mean, yes Kapitan!"

Satisfied, she stepped back and looked around at all the recruits that were just standing there, staring at her. "Quit gawking and get moving!" she yelled, then turned back for the stairs, smiling to herself.

Once outside, the diminutive warcaster made her way to the workshop. She was glad to see that her mechanik, Yevgeny Ivdenko, had already finished going over her warjacks, inspecting them for any damage after the train ride, and was loading them up with coal and water. All three of her machines looked her way as she entered, and felt their happiness at seeing her again.

"How are my boys?" she called out over the noise of the workshop.

Yevgeny waved and smiled. "See for yourself, Kapitan," he said, walking around from behind the Marauder, dropping the large wrench he was carrying into a slot on the heavy toolbelt he wore. For the last nine years, he had been her personal mechanik, lovingly caring for her machines like they were his own children. Not only did he have an amazing gift with repairing warjacks and mechanika, he was also the only person Zasha trusted implicitly.

Yevgeny gestured at the Marauder while she checked it out. ?Your boy Boris was being uncooperative. It seems the train ride jostled loose a connection to the boiler. Took me a little while to get that fixed and his pressure regulated again, but he?s fine now.?

Zasha smiled up at the machine, then walked with her mechanik to the next one, her Devastator, Yuri. As always, Yuri responded to her presence in a noble fashion, bowing his head slightly at her. She patted the armor plating over his arm as she passed. She liked Boris and Yuri, but the favorite of her three ?jacks was her Destroyer, Vlad. He was her first and oldest warjack, and had been with her since the academy.

Several years back, she had lost two of her machines to a Cygnaran warcaster with a Hunter. Its armor piercing shells made a mockery of the thick plating on her ?jacks, but that did not save the southerner from her wrath. Afterwards, she requested an audience with Kommandant Irusk after her requests to modify her Destroyer were declined by her immediate superiors. He agreed, and she?d had to wait nearly three months for an appointment, but he had immediately liked her idea and gave her his complete cooperation.

Returning to her home base with his signed order, she had the mortar removed and replaced by a long-barreled naval cannon loaded with shells normally used to pierce the heavy skins of the iron ships. It had taken a while for Vlad to get used to the new weapon and adjust his aim accordingly, but the results were worth the wait. It destroyed light warmachines with a single shot, and even heavies could rarely survive more than a couple of hits from it. On two occasions, both against Cygnarans, Vlad had made one-shot kills on a heavy by putting a shell straight through the head and into the cortex.

The machine stood still while she walked around it, inspecting knee, elbow, and wrist joints as well as the naval cannon. Once she completed her inspection, she stood back and looked at all three of her boys. All were painted in white winter camouflage, but only Vlad bore the symbol of her nickname: painted on top of his armor was a black silhouette of a spider, the abdomen placed over the access hatch on top where the Khadoran symbol had been painted red to mimic the hourglass of a real black widow.

?So?? Yevgeny asked, once his kapitan was satisfied with the condition of her machines. ?Why are we here??

?They want me to kill another warwitch.?

Yevgeny sighed. ?You are not an assassin, Zasha. They should quit using you this way.?

She smiled at his defense of her, but shook her head. ?No, old friend, this time they have need to fear and were right in bringing me in.?

The old mechanic lifted his eyebrows in surprise. This was high praise for a foe coming from the tiny woman, especially one she hadn?t met yet. ?Should I bother to ask??

?You should always bother to ask, Yevgeny. But no, I can?t discuss any of the details with you. Not yet."

?How long do we have?? the older man asked.

?A couple of weeks. Take the boys out for a walk, and get Vlad some practice on the range. I?m going to turn in a little early tonight. You know how much I dislike riding on trains.?

?Of course,? he said, more than happy to get a chance to run the machines. A certified ?jack marshal, Yevgeny could only command one of them at a time, but he always relished the opportunity to do so, especially on the firing range.

***

Kage
12-24-2009, 11:53 PM
Several hours later, Olayin Shvetsoz was grinning, sitting up in his bunk. His three bunkmates were all jealous of his display with the Black Widow earlier today, and he was enjoying the attention. The fact that she had almost made him cry was all but forgotten.

?Why do they call her that?? Tolzoi asked from the bunk above Olayin.

?Does she kill her mates when she?s done with them?? another asked, making them all laugh.

Olayin shook his head. ?No, I think it?s because she?s so small. Tiny and deadly at the same time. Like she said.?

There was a soft knock on the door, and en envelope was pushed through the crack between the door and floor. All four of the young men went silent, looking at the white envelope as if it was some kind of bomb, then they all turned to stare at Olayin.

?That?s for you, Shvetsov. You?re the one that whistled at a warcaster kapitan,? Tolzoi said.

Olayin looked around nervously, suddenly finding himself deserted by his bunkmates. Giving them all some choice curses, he got up from his bunk and walked to the door. When he saw his name on the envelope his stomach dropped. He picked it up and his bunkmates all watched anxiously while he opened it and read the paper inside.

?Well? What is it, Oly??

Grinning, Olayin ran back to his bunk, grabbed his uniform coat and pulled it on as he exited the room.

He found the room easily enough, but had to steady himself once he got there. Taking several deep, slow breaths, he straightened his coat and ran his hands through his hair. He knocked three times and waited.

?Enter,? a low voice said from inside. Olayin twisted the knob and pushed the door open. It was dim inside, with only one small lamp burning on a table near the bed. Kapitan Zasha Nikolaevna was standing there in front of the bed, waiting for him, in her underclothes, with her hair undone and hanging over her shoulders.

?Reporting as ordered, ma?am,? he said distantly, his eyes and his full attention focused on her tiny but curvy body.

?You disrespected me in front of dozens of recruits, Shvetsov. I can?t let that pass,? she said softly, lifting an arm towards him and gesturing for him to come closer. ?Are you prepared to make up for that??

?Yes, Kapitan,? he said, walking towards her.

?Get comfortable,? she ordered.

Smiling like a fool, he began to strip, but she stopped him when he got down to his shorts, then took him by the hand and guided him onto the bed. He moved into the center of the mattress and sat up as she crawled over and straddled him. He put his hands on her hips as she lifted her arms and brushed her hair back behind her shoulders. It was then that he saw the tattoos on her ribs, upper arms, and shoulders. His eyes bulged in fright and he tried to pull away, but she forced him flat onto the bed.

?You?re Kayazy!? he cried out, trying to push her away. He pointed at one of a four-pointed star on her left shoulder, just above her armpit. ?That means you are a lieutenant!?

?Olayin, calm down,? she said softly. Then she slapped him when he kept fighting. ?I was Kayazy.?

?I?m from Korsk! I?ve seen what they do, and I know you never leave! Don?t lie to me!?

Zasha placed her finger over his mouth and looked in his eyes. ?Olayin. Hush.?

?Yes ma?am.?

She pulled back from him and sat up. ?I thought you were bold with your display earlier. Perhaps I made a mistake. I have no time for scared children.? She started to climb off of him when he grabbed her by the arms, hard, and sat up to put his face right in front of hers.

?I am no child!?

Zasha?s lips twisted into a smile. ?Then show me what you?re made of.?

***

Later, as they lay together, Olayin turned on his side and propped his head up on a hand. Zasha?s back was to him, and he saw something on her back through the mass of her black hair. He brushed a hand across her smooth skin and moved her hair out of the way. It was a tattoo, a big one; a black widow with the symbol of Khador on its abdomen. The tattoos he had seen on her ribs earlier were the legs wrapping around her sides.

She turned around and looked up at him. ?Do you like it??

?I?ve never seen a woman with tattoos like that," he said, lifting a hand to caress her left cheek. ?May I ask? what happened to your eye??

Zasha?s expression went hard as stone in an instant and she pulled the sheet up to cover herself. ?It?s time for you to leave.?

Olayin looked at her, confused. ?But? Zasha??

?Leave my quarters, Private. Now.?

?What did I do?? he asked desperately.

That look appeared in her eyes again, but before he could turn away, her left eye started to change. The iris trembled for a moment, then the whole eye went white as snow. A terrible pain suddenly shot through Olayin?s head, and he curled up on the bed, moaning and holding his head in his hands.

?Are you hurt?? Zasha asked casually, her eye returning to normal. ?You don?t look well, Oly. Perhaps you should go to the infirmary.?

That sounded like a grand idea to Oly. He stumbled off of the bed in a daze and started to pull his clothes back on. The whole time, it felt like his nose was bleeding, and he kept wiping his hand across his lips, but never saw anything. ?I?ll go now,? he said, stumbling for the door.

?Leave the envelope please,? she called after him. Without stopping, he reached into his pants pocket, grabbed the envelope, and dropped it on the floor. She smiled when he closed the door behind him, and settled down to get some sleep.

***

Kommander Volozna entered the infirmary and approached the chief medical officer, Lieutenant Grovnotov. ?You wanted to see me??

?Yes, Kommander.?

?I?m very busy. This better be important,? Volozna grumbled.

Grovnotov indicated the autopsy table and the covered body on it. ?Olayin Shvetzov reported in late last night of a terrible headache. He died a few hours ago of massive brain hemorrhages.?

?So??

?So, Kommander, it was not natural. There were ice crystals inside his brain. When they formed, it punctured hundreds of-?

?I get it,? Volozna said, stopping the man from continuing with the gory details. ?Send him home. I?ll start the paper work.?

?But Kommander, what about the cause??

?Forget you saw this, Grovnotov, if you understand me? He died in a training accident.?

The old medic?s face soured, but he nodded and sighed. ?Yes sir.?

Volozna was going to have to have another talk with Zasha Nikolaevna, and he was not excited in the least about that.





*I've had this on my pc for a couple of months now, and there was a bit of an internal war about posting it. Some things have changed and the future of Green Lights is a bit uncertain, but I thought some people like to see it.

Nyarlathotep333
12-29-2009, 10:36 AM
Awesome! With the new forums I'd almost completely forgotten about the fan fiction section. Glad to see another Green Lights! Can't wait to see more!

Great stuff as usual Kage :D

Kage
12-29-2009, 07:10 PM
Thanks!

I'm not entirely sure if GL 3 is going to happen. I'm working on some other stuff to see if I can get it published, and as much as I love this story and setting, I need to focus on that.

I have written 2 more chapters that I might clean up and post. Who knows, maybe I'll do a paragraph here and there and keep this going.

Nyarlathotep333
12-30-2009, 10:25 AM
Ahh, bummer. Well, if you do get something published let us know.

Any other Green Lights stuff you get to post is good too though :)