Week 17: Dearth of Conscience [Unedited]

"We're going to settle up later, Human," Burdlit warned.

"I envision you having a lovely funeral," Boyd countered.

They danced away from one another toward a neutral, less engaged position - side-by-side.

To Burdlit who now stood on the right, this intruder seemed like a nonstop source of amusement.

Only, Boyd was serious about wanting the operational general dead. The drape of his trench coat flapped closed from where he now stood on the left.

Tendrils of foliage shot in between them as they further split apart by dodging to their respective sides. Undeterred by the athleticism, vines budded outward from each tendril in a wiry pursuit which not only took up chase after Boyd and Burdlit but entangled the very paths that were encountered along the way like Carolina Jasmine.

By the time that one of Burdlit's contingent had tossed a laser rifle over to the operational general, Boyd was pushing for the exit, having made his way noticeably or perhaps not noticeably out the picture. The details of their relationship happened to be way more nuanced than most for the amount of hatred which existed between them, but the numbers of people who stood against him during the mutual retreat were mounting, and he had much less time to sort through the emotionality of the situation. They would meet again in time and behind (or in front) the barrels of their respective weapons.

Navigating the collected directions from the minicomputer, Boyd was even more appreciative of the technology than before as the device allowed him to burst into an all-out sprint without having to hesitate, second-guess, or head fatally down an incorrect path - a literal dead end. The biological weapon was whipping high overhead like an amped-up and jumpy downed power line but with the girth and destructive force from one of those downed branches that could do damage to houses. There were no mistaken priorities in the efforts of his evasion: Being stuck this deep underground with Inner Corridor now teaming with that thing? Yeah right. He needed breathing room, fighting room, running room - all of the above and a chance to contact SpaceStation Konxerus in order to potentially end this madness.

Fully aware that he was wanted by the Galaxy Bloc soldiers, Boyd could not help but notice how the biological weapon seemed to be homing specifically in on him in his serious attempts to create separation. Those objects that it could not immediately bowl over, it began to burrow through in its pursuit of the Enforcer. Everything from the chairs on the floor to the illuminant, cylindrical light fixtures on the maze of divider walls across the sector to the exposed architecture of sturdy, wedge-shaped beams along the ceiling were teaming with what looked like elastic bark which seemed to maintain its spring and stretch as well as its raspy texturing - all at once. And he was not about to turn around for the purposes of getting any more specific than that. His LUNC would not allow him to (currently) shoot any troops out of a selected setting's default, so reaching back to target that thing was fair game and simple since the wooded contrast was quickly becoming an atmospheric mode. But not much faith was being placed in the prospects of delivering damage along with those powerful laser pulses.

Boyd was, however, quite cognizant of both the biological weapon's aims and means. Somehow, it just knew that he could contact the spacestation once he exited Inner Corridor and had stepped up its efforts with extensible spikes that struck downward like daggers to try and prevent the possibility. Seemingly at the disposal of a rudimentary yet veritable arsenal happened to be any means that were necessary. Whether the Enforcer had eyes in back of his head, a sixth sense, or another heightened instinctive awareness, he found himself lunging and felt his way into performing a forward roll which caused a tendril of foliage to brush just wide of his left ear.

"Freeze!" A Galaxy Bloc soldier hollered while pointing a laser rifle at what he perceived was an out of position intruder and the perfect chance to carry out a mission which had become secondary in lieu of the Deew's blanket onslaught.

"Are you," Boyd turned his head to the left, "fu--ing," during the agile forward roll dodge, "kidding me," and wondered aloud before coming to a complete stop at the conclusion of the move in a taut tripod crouch. He twirled around to his left and came up to his feet with the LUNC raising into position...

Indicative of a one-track mind, the soldier took the motions to mean aggression and began firing his laser rifle in the intruder's direction.

...of the biological weapon that was zeroing in on the Galaxy Bloc soldier from above! Boyd fired a spread of pulses skyward which succeeded in sheering off the sharpened tips of the spear-like branches that poked at the area. For his efforts, he received two point-blank laser pulses which punched him a half step backward - if that. The gauntlet technology of the combat gear protected the Enforcer, but before the third and fourth lasers could pelt him, he angrily raked his left arm outward to swat the annoyances aside.

Mad at the occurrence or the outcome? The soldier collapsed to his knees, but was unable to keel completely over - held up by the perforation from one of the Deew's limbs which had spiked itself through the chest of the troop and into the floor. As he struggled for life, blood dribbled through his lips in an apparent competition with the loss that happened to be seeping out the ripped-open chest cavity. Choked up by the mucous crimson red which continued to flow in the wrong directions and whatever damage had occurred to his lungs, the direness of those straits teamed up to prevent him from being able to breathe. Once that happened, panic and shock were next.

The laser rifle dropped from the soldier's fingers and clanked to the ground while Boyd stood by and watched. Unfortunately, death (normally assassination) was a part of the job, so nobody ever said that after the first few (of many) times in which he had been forced to kill that there would never come another time where a person could wind up dying during one of his missions. When the Enforcer's mission succeeded, these deaths could hold meaning since the unincorporated planets would be opened back up to the Space Force (read: better off) as a result. This momentary pause consisted of paying some professional respect.

In the next moment.... No.

There could be no next moment because Boyd found himself toiling within this one. It was unrealistic to believe that he could save everybody, so the escapist mentality of accepting collateral damage for what it was - figures and numbers, often became a crutch of false comfort as far as profit and loss scenarios were concerned. If the Space Force saved more lives than were lost, then success could be attributed to his methods and attached to the eventual outcome.

What was one more? Certainly not a blemish. Finish the mission, the Deew seemingly cooed around this very same moment of frozen time when decisions were being made at speeds that only microprocessors could appreciate.

Decisions needed to be carried out even faster. Biting his tongue and swallowing his pride, Boyd rushed to the aid of the soldier. No, he could not save everybody - black ops did not work like that, but nothing was preventing him from at least trying. Sure, if the Enforcer got taken out in the attempt to offer assistance, mission failure would arise, and the fate of the universe might be left in doubt. But then again, when was it ever not? And additionally, if he died, what would he care? This...was what could be controlled, even though these charity cases often came back to bite the selfless.

Just not in this exact instance, and the Deew had tried. Had Boyd turned around and fled, he would have been enveloped and crushed by the formation of a high wall of an almost pre-spring leafless shrubbery which quietly headed him off, so there could be no pass. Instead, it settled for boxing the Enforcer inside the forestal imprisonment while crippling his mobility with a sudden bout of compunction.

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