Indefatigable Ch 2 Cross

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By megatarget   |   
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I had come to accept that it was nigh-impossible to prepare for anything in a world where everything was possible.  Still, I had never even considered that it would be possible that I would find myself struggling with a dead body that was trying to kill me.  One part of my swiftly-moving mind tried to formulate some plan of attack, observe some insight on how to not get myself killed.  Surprisingly, it had nothing to offer me.  After all, it was one thing dealing with normal Pushes.  There was a mortal man or woman inside and I was a nemesis to the unnatural.  I could get at the vulnerable thing in the superhuman shell and how to hurt a human, well, was something easy to understand for a physiologist.  How do you hurt a corpse?

With my mind and body moving as one, I was faster than any normal person, but I was moving in molasses compared to this vampiric thing.  I had barely moved three steps before it had crossed the dank chamber, lunging with grime-encrusted nails at my shoulders.  Though faster, I seemed to be competitive in terms of pure reflexes and found myself instinctively correcting for the creature's attack, slipping to one side of it before throwing a Hail-Mary cross at its head.  The monster seemed to have no conception of self-preservation and moved into the blow in its efforts to snatch me.  As with all the 'invulnerable' superhumans I had faced so far, I felt the slight resistance of the supernatural outer skin, then my fist carried through, powered by all the strength my body could put behind it.

Punching the partially rotten corpse was, to that point, the most disgusting thing to ever happen in my life.  My full-body strength tore into dead skin and flesh, knocking the jawbone completely free on one side.  The air was filled with a literal explosion of new, fetid aromas as coagulated fluids and decomposing tissue went flying in a spray with the angle of impact.  Any living creature would have been instantly incapacitated from shock and injury and would certainly die without immediate medical attention.  Unfortunately, I wasn't fighting a living creature.  The outer vampiric form matched the inner corpse, its phantom jaw being knocked off its hinges with a tearing of alabaster flesh, but it did not crumple.  There was a brief guttural howl as it turned back to me.  Already I could see that some force, the unnatural shell itself, was forcing the jaw back into place, just as the vampire's form seemed to regenerate in mere moments.

The distraction of watching the bizarre double-action was a stupid mistake.  The vampire felt no pain, no more than I did, and in its animalistic rage simply barreled into me.  It was only a few steps before my back slammed once more into the dripping brickwork except that this time, there was a supernaturally strong corpse limb jamming me into it.   The vampire had pinned me to the wall by virtue of its rotting forearm across my chest, making my collarbones creak.  A blood-stained hand snaked up to grab my head, most likely to pry it aside to get at the blood vessels in my neck.  Classic movie monster.

This thing was far stronger than I was, but I still felt some relief when I pushed against its elbow with one hand.  My other hand moved to intercept his grip.  I didn't try to match its grip; I deflected the force to one side, sending the corpse's fingertips burrowing into the bricks to one side of my skull.  My accelerated thoughts cycled through my options.  Any physical damage I did to the corpse, I assumed, would be temporary:  the Push shell would simply force it back into position and carry on.  It felt no pain, no shock ... frankly, it had no conventional vulnerabilities.  At the same time, I could use whatever violence I needed to without fear of hurting a living person.  What I needed was to remember every popular myth about vampires.  The Whiteout stole its template for the universe not just from Eric Flynn's mind, but bits from every mind it touched.  However the myths say the methods are to kill a vampire, that is most likely what this thing was vulnerable to.

I ruled out sunlight immediately as I brought my free hand back down with a hammer punch right on the corpse's shoulder.  As with the jaw, the power of my blow was enough to crush in the socket, giving me a momentary gap of safety as the arm was pulled back into place by the regenerating vampiric form.  Using that opening, I released my grip on its pinning forearm and delivered a short, sharp blow to the ribcage.  My hand dug into the viscous mass of the monster's torso and I was infinitely grateful for my leather gloves and full-body uniform.  With the vampire's equilibrium disrupted by the two structural breaches, I was freed of enough pressure to bring my legs up to my chest and violently thrust outward, sending the vampire flying across the room into the steamer trunk.  The swollen wood burst from its bands and sent a torrent of earth spilling out to the ground.  The monster was already stirring, white flesh knitting together and corpse parts being shoved back into place.  I need real options and I needed them now.  My brain, thankfully, delivered as I slid down the wall, catching myself in a crouch.

I pushed off from the crouch into a smooth pounce, crashing on top of the corpse while it was still off-balance.  Another spray of moist earth blasted up into the air as I tried to pin the creature with my knees, both arms digging through the mounds of earth and debris for something wooden, long, and pointy.  It didn't take long, a mere moment, to find something suitable.  It was time for a classic horror-movie-vampire-staking.  I raised the broken, jagged-edged plank up high and brought it down, letting my scientific knowledge guide my hand.

If it had gone according to plan, my strike would have been true.  My aim was impeccable.  I had failed to properly account, though, for the plethora of supernatural abilities vampires were reputed to possess.  Just as the makeshift stake began to part the perfect white outer flesh, the creature shrieked and exploded.  Not, unfortunately, into inert dust like so many TV show portrayals, but into a sickly cloud of fog.  I held my breath as the mist suddenly burst past me on an unnatural wind, ending with another slight pop as the air pressure shifted back and forth.  I threw myself from my kneeled position to spin onto my back, just in time to see a pair of massive fangs descend.  There was no room to maneuver in the wreckage of the trunk.  All I could do was throw up a forearm in defense.

I was saved the worst case scenario once more by my peculiar immunity to the Pushed.  Those knife-like teeth were immaterial to me.  Still, the inhuman strength behind the corpse's jaws mashed through my leather sleeve and into tissue.  I could feel my forearm muscles get torn and mangled as my mind ticked off the damage and suppressed the pain.  Eyes locked with the double gaze of my attacker, who continued to try to gnaw through my sleeve, I blindly stabbed upward with the sharpened slat.  Though nowhere near the heart, the wood itself seemed to be repellent to the beast or at least able to wound it better than my fists or feet.  There was a shudder that ran through my arm as wood pierced inhuman flesh.  The glowing red eyes gaped and in a fraction of a second I was free as the beast recoiled to howl in rage.  It turned away from me, clutching at the board that had impaled it through the guts.  I was sickened to see not only bits of dead matter drip out of the wound, but surprisingly fresh blood as well.

Willing myself to hold it together, I forced myself into action and rolled to my feet.  The creature was having trouble extracting the crude stake; for all its feral qualities, it seemed to realize that leaving splinters of wood inside it was bad.  Thinking myself unnoticed for the moment, I surged towards it with the intent to drive it chest-first in the wall, hopefully impaling it further and buy me time to find another sharpened piece of wood.  I had underestimated the corpse's sensory powers or its primal instincts, however, as my rush was met by an immediate backhand, delivered with preternatural speed and power.  There wasn't even a muscle twitch to read in the animated corpse; I had no chance to divert.  I did, however, manage to roll with the impact as it sent me sprawling backwards, landing face-down on the slick stones.

Having been hit by the most powerful Pushed on the planet already, I certainly wasn't put out of action, but I was still dazed by the hit, spitting up blood from my now-gashed lip.  The bruise would certainly be impressive if I lived through this.  I could only be glad that the impact had shattered the corpse's hand into fragments, so much so that even the Push aura couldn't properly form a hand out of it again. As I pushed myself up with my hands, I couldn't help but notice that, to the right of me, was a dirty but still intact crucifix.  My lightning-quick thoughts surmised that it probably had belonged to the victim, lost in the struggle before it could be brought to bear.  I wondered if it would work at all, especially for an avowed skeptic, as I crawled for it.  It was just within my grasp when I felt a vice-like grip on my ankle.

Three months of on-the-job combat training kicked in when I instantly lashed out and back with my other leg, feeling the brief slow of the shell before the sickening squish of biker boot to mouldering flesh.  Unfortunately, there was no recoil of pain or shock, only the relentless corpse grip.  The world sickeningly whirled as I was yanked through the air by one leg.  Muscles and tendons screamed before I was suddenly free, only for one more violent impact on cold, hard stone.  It was only a miracle that kept my head from being brained open on jutting stones and left my bones creaky but intact.  Still, even my ability to shutdown pain and push my body had its limits, and I was left slow to getting my bearings and defending myself.

The world was still a grey blur as I felt myself once again hoisted into the air, this time by the scruff of my jacket, a dead cold corpse hand on my forehead, driving it back and to the side.  No protection there.  It wouldn't drink my blood with its phantom fangs, but it would still easily chew open a deadly wound there.  Two things happened, near-simultaneously, that stopped that.

First, I opened the hand that had clenched just as I was thrown by the leg to reveal the glittering necklace, with its smudged but intact cross.

Second, there was a sudden pure white flash, the same color as the Whiteout itself, that radiated from behind the monster, followed by an immediate loud twang, like the release of a bow string magnified ten fold.

The vampire dropped me, recoiling its eyes from the crucifix, just as a large metal arrow protruded from its upper right chest.  It looked like I had help.  Help from someone I didn't want.  That white flash was indicative of only one thing: one of Epic's teleport gates.  The Crusaders sent someone here.   Why here and how did he know?  Those questions would have to wait for a vampire to be dead first.

The figure who had just appeared seemed ready to help with that.  I could tell instantly that he was Pushed, but more importantly, he was using Pushtech.  Invented and built by 'super scientists', to me, it was nothing more than random parts and structures put together, but to mundane eyes, it was impossibly advanced technology.  Of course, it only worked for a Pushed, something always excused away with one conceit or another.  What to me was a suit of random looking armor bits with a crossbow strapped to one gauntlet appeared with its shell to be a magnificent suit of powered armor with an advanced-looking mechanized crossbow system attached to it.  Annoyingly, because he had a real motorcycle helmet on, I couldn't see his features or read his expression.  I could tell by the aim of his bow that he was, indeed, here to help.

"Monster!" he cried out with an accent straight out of an Arthurian movie.  "Stand down or I shall smite thee again!"

Great.  I was going to die either from a vampire or his horrid dialogue.  Ultimately, I decided that beggars couldn't be choosers as the vampire, tearing the steel arrow harmlessly from its chest, sprang back to the attack.
© 2014 - 2020 megatarget
Part 2 of 3 of the Indefatigable sneak peak!

How do you kill that which is already dead?  Especially when it's being puppeted by unnatural forces that are controlled by a twisted reality!

I hope you enjoy and please feel free to add any input or opinions below!

EDIT!  Fixed a whole mess of 'it's'

EDIT!  Some removal of excess wordage and general neatening of things
anonymous's avatar
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LotusJadeThorn's avatar
LotusJadeThornHobbyist Writer
Whoa awesome 2nd chapter. I loved the description of the vampire tearing apart :3 nice and gory! Indie's reaction to it made me laugh too haha. And "white flesh knitting together" was really clever. The machine-like function of her body is really fascinating too- "... ticked off the damage and suppressed the pain." And the fact the vampire tries to "gnaw" her arm haha XD Kinda funny, as was "Great.  I was going to die either from a vampire or his horrid dialogue." Pahahaha, great stuff. And you've ended this brilliantly. I shall be reading on~~

Some unnecessary bits and bobs of wording/phrasing I would totally scratch out, personally (in bold):
That was something I had no experience with. (The rhetorical question indicates this just fine and has more effect if ending the first paragraph alone, methinks)
"... and practically moved into..." (Ew intensifiers! Ew ew ew ;))
"Classic movie monster, I couldn't help but observe." (In this intense action scene, I just think that observation alone would be really effective, as short, snappy sentences work really well in intense moments, y' know?)
"The impact had shaken me out of my momentary distraction though." (I dunno.. reader can assume this? Bit more personal preference perhaps)
"... training kicked in, quite literally, when I instantly..." I can see why you've wrote it, as it sorta adds to the tone but I still suggest omitting it.
Unfortunately, again, while such a kick would have gotten me loose from most any other person, there was no recoil of pain or shudder of shock." (The whole thing. I think you reiterate the difference between her combating a normal person and a Pushed, too many times perhaps? Because I notice you put in these little sentences in action scenes and it almost feels distracting. Be assured your reader knows this!)

Also I believe "
It was time for a classic horror-movie vampire staking" should be "It was time for a classic horror-movie-vampire-staking." I can't explain why, but I know for these types of phrases are dashed together x3 Like "good-looking" too, for example.

I hope that novella of a comment helps out and I can't wait to read the rest! :D You're published now, so I feel a little "er no" when I point something out haha but yeah ^o^
megatarget's avatar
megatargetProfessional Writer
No no no, never feel like I am above comment!  Remember who caught so many of my mistakes the first go around. :)  A writer is no good without editors who speak up!

Definitely agree with most of your points and will make the appropriate connections.  With the second-to-the-last one though, I was more trying to distance fighting a person from a corpse, but I think I made the point enough earlier that I should omit it, or at least greatly shorten, that phrase.

I'm also at a weird balance where I want to reiterate points and facts from the first book, both to refresh readers of the first and provide some information for first-time readers, but I don't want to go to far so as to ruin the narrative.  In that sense particularly anything you think is too much I would love feedback on.  I want to hit that balance point between new and old reader but not bog anything down in the process.
LotusJadeThorn's avatar
LotusJadeThornHobbyist Writer
Hehe Racing Girl Emoji (Ehehe) [V4] Glad you found my comment useful.

And yeah, I understand! Just be conscious with it, I think? But yeah I'll be on the look out! Troll!!! 
megatarget's avatar
megatargetProfessional Writer
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HeadsnTails's avatar
Well done, sir. Just one "it's" issue as far as I can remember. I seem to recall it in the first chapter too though I missed it in my proofreading.

Scratch that. Using "ctrl f," I found quite a few of them. "Its" without the apostrophe indicates a possessive while "It's" indicates the contraction "it is."
megatarget's avatar
megatargetProfessional Writer
Thank you!  You know, normally I never get that wrong but we all have bad days!  Glad you liked it!
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