The Wake of Righteousness by H-Man

Enesco Mauser sat in his bedroom, which was located on the second floor of the onceprosperous "Mauser's Arms Shop" in the ghost town of Lensol. The old man, now in his early 60s, enjoyed the silence as he polished a collection of antique knives and claws that he had accumulated through purchases over the years. He was as much of a collector as a salesman and always gave his customers a good deal if they wished to sell him anything that caught his fancy.

Lensol—at one time it had been the political heart of Draconia, a seat of Layan culture. However, times had changed quite drastically in the past few years. Hordes of robot soldiers had suddenly appeared in Techna, an isolated town located somewhere in the land. Enesco knew the truth; the robots were the army of Siren, Orakio's most trusted general. Legends painted the cyborg—or android, Enesco couldn't be bothered to care too much—as nothing more than a butcher, a sentient machine whose ability to feel limited itself to pure sadism, and thus had found great joy in slaughtering any Layan he came into contact with. Legends said that Laya herself banished the megalomaniacal robot to a prison there. But now he was free.

It seemed that his first item of business was to set up a stronghold in Draconia, which meant a full-blown robotic assault on Lensol. Despite the fact that the inhabitants were Orakian, most of them were not in favor of the robots' being in Lensol, which caused the army to start terminating the people with extreme prejudice. Most of the surviving townspeople made it to Endora, but now the robots occupied the castle and used it as a fortress.

Mauser was something of a survivalist. He had amassed during his career as a weaponsmith and salesman a small fortune, a good portion of which he spent on supplies for just such an occasion. He also was imbued with a certain feeling of nostalgia that prevented him from fleeing with the others, preferring to live in his home of six decades by himself. After all, he was a weapon shop owner; he had more than enough resources to protect himself, if need be.

His low, but blissful whispering was halted by the sudden slamming of the door downstairs. Enesco's hand trembled for a few moments, after which he instinctively reached for a staff he kept near his person and listened. He heard voices, three of them to be exact. They sounded like normal people. A scouting party, perhaps? Could be. After all, another fellow from Endora had shown up a few days earlier, trying to sneak into the castle, but with little luck. Maybe the same fellow had brought reinforcements. Or maybe he was wrong and Mauser's guests were thieves with eyes for his collection.

They'd better be ready to take on the most ferocious sixty-year old ever to live in Lensol, Mauser thought.

The creaking of wood alerted Enesco to the fact that the three were on their way upstairs. He wiped the sticky beads of sweat from his leathery brow and gripped his staff tightly. In a few seconds, the visitors had entered the room.

The party was led by a young kid no older than 16. His electric blue hair was tied into a ponytail that brushed up against his shoulder blade. A Layan. However, unlike any other Layan Enesco had ever seen, this particular specimen was armed with a sword. He was accompanied by a beautiful woman who looked no older than twenty-five. She was dressed in a leotard of sorts whose red dye matched the color of her long hair. The third member of the part was unmistakably an android. A tall, hulking, mountain of one at that.

Enesco eyed the three for several seconds and then spoke up. I've heard stories of you. You must be Prince Ayn of Cille in Aquatica. Am I right?

The young man nodded and smiled. I am he. We've come here looking for my cousin, Princess Thea of Shusoran. Ayn knelt humbly before Mauser and pleaded, If you know where she is being held, please tell me. I shall do everything in my power to reward you handsomely if you do.

Enesco had not heard anything about a Layan princess being held in Lensol. It was possible that she was in the castle, but he had never seen any of the robots that went in and out of the castle ever with a princess in tow. I'm sorry, Prince Ayn. But I haven't heard any news about your cousin. Mauser felt compassion on the half-Layan, half-Orakian prince and his plight.

Ayn looked at his two companions and let out a long sigh. Come, Mieu and Wren. Maybe we can find something out over in Endora.

Something ate away at Mauser's conscience to the point he felt he had to do something to help Ayn. He had already heard about the destruction of the two Layan cities on Aquatica and, considering himself to be someone neutral in the running conflict between the two peoples, he really felt for the now-landless prince. Wait, Prince Ayn. I heard that you and your people have been expulsed from your lands. It may not be of much help, but the island of Techna lies to the northeast. They may have tales of Satellite.

Ayn spun around, his ponytail almost hitting him in the face. Satellite, you say?

Enesco nodded. Yes. Some legends say that it is a place of peace. Others suggest that the source of the robot attacks can be found there. Either way, it be may be of interest to you.

The young prince clasped Mauser's hand in both of his and shook it vigorously. We are indeed very grateful for your help, kind sir.

And with that, the three went downstairs and left the house.

A few hours later, Mauser, who was getting ready to lie down for the evening, heard his door open again. Instinctively, he reached for the dagger he kept under his pillow. A pair of heavy footsteps threatened to reduce the old wooden staircase to splinters. Was it the android who had accompanied Ayn? Had Ayn left something behind?

Suddenly, the door exploded, littering the bedroom with millions of tiny splinters. A huge anthropomorphic robot stepped through the now less-than-rectangular doorway and into the clearing. Its body was made up of large, green metallic plates and its cycloptic head ended in what would be two-pointy ears. It would've been a comical sight, had it not been for the large, hooked sword it carried that was about as long as Enesco was tall. Its other arm ended in an elliptical metal shield. It was obvious that his visitor, a feralbot, was more than a match for Mauser's knife and years of weapon-selling experience.

With an oppressive synthetic voice that sent a chill down Enesco's spine, the robot spoke, Traitorous Orakian. The Layan prince now knows too much.

Fear spread through Enesco Mauser's body, causing him to freeze, and then to drop his dagger onto the ground. He stared at the emotionless robot warrior who addressed in pure horror, knowing that his time had come. His mind, a whirling mass of thoughts, fears, and memories, began to sort itself out. Finally, the old weapon salesman spoke.

And if he does? I'm a free man. I can tell him whatever the hell I please. I won't live in fear of you or Siren or any of your accursed army.

The feralbot let out an eerie, hollow laugh. Your insolence will be rewarded appropriately, old man.

Enesco Mauser stood straight up and looked proudly up at the feralbot, who walked slowly across the room to where he stood, leaving irreparable broken floorboards in its wake.

Give me your worst, shouted Mauser defiantly. I can take it.

The giant robot lifted up his sword and brought it down on the unflinching man's neck.