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Soldier Laila
Skies Lit with Fire
Sun Jun 25, 2006 13:25
70.105.87.48 (XFF: 192.168.1.3)

Sweat, dripping into her eyes, burning her lips with its salty-sweet taste. Her hair, lying lank and damp, heavy snakes on her shoulders. Thick flows of Spirit dancing through the air, the sky alight with Power. And in the distance, five pulsing balls of light, swelling and fading with the flows.

"Five damane, sir." The words slide from her lips, dry and cracked with extertion. Fortunately they're all weaker than Izmere and I, but not by much." Asha'man Marit nods, sxanning the rocky hills that loom before them.

"Unit Arman, extend and strengthen the Air shield!" The air around them tickens visibly. "Laila, Elsaim, cease action immediately and report to me!"

In seconds, both girls stand to attention, saidar draining from their bodies. It has been a hard battle, but they have prevailed. And more is yet to come.

"Soldiers. There are five damane, correct?"

"Yes sir." "Yes sir." Two voices speaking as one.

"Can you easily locate them?"

"Yes sir." "Yes sir." "Right on the cliffs--" "--Up there, see--"

"Good. Target them as soon as we land. Point them out to your squadmates if need be, but responsibility for them will rest on your shoulders. They must be eliminated immediately."

"Yes sir." "Yes sir." The blood pounding in her ears. Old memories float to the surface of her mind, or another battle, another life long ago:

"--Concentrate on the rebels' damane. Kill them immediately. Once they are dead, the battle will be won."

"But what about the rebel army, mistress?"

"The Ever Victorious Army will handle them until we finish. Don't worry about them. The real battle is between us and the enemy
damane."

"Yes, mistress."

"Now, intelligence tells us that the
damane are located at--"

"ASHA'MAN! PREPARE FOR LANDING!"

A thrill runs through Laila at the word. She does not wear the Dragon pin, and yet she is still Asha'man, a Soldier in the service of the Lord Dragon REborn, fighting for the Light. Against the Seanchan. Against damane. Against sul'dam. A broad smile curls across her face. How ironic, that she should use the lessons she learned as a damane against the Ever Victorious Army. It is a pity that she will have to kill her sister captives, but most of them fight willingly for the sul'dam. Willing property. The idea makes her want to spit. No, she has no regrets in this battle.

A rough bump as the ship finally runs aground. The gangplank slides into place. Above, the sky darkens with to'raken.

"SQUAD MISHA! GO!"

A burst of arrows as they charge down the gangplank. Arms heavy with shields rise to ward off the thick shafts. No time for Air shields. The squad zigzags across the field--inexplicably, a flow solidifies twenty fett away, ripping the ground open. They can't see the squads, Laila realizes. They must think we've already landed. The earth humps up around Squad Misha, forming temporary fortifications. Flowers of fire explode above, scattering the to'raken.

"SQUAD YERAMIEL, GO!"

Boots pounding against the deck. They thunder off the ship, their feet sinking into the soft earth. Adrenaline pumps through their veins. Concentrate on the ground. Concentrate on the ground. To look up is to be blinded by the flashes of light. Burnt corpses rain down on them. A great rock looms before them--they skid to a stop, to crouch behind its cold defense.

Yeramiel sounds breathless as he speaks. "Dig in, squad--we're staying here until the others are in place. Our target is the top of the cliffs." He stabs upwards at the wall of rock looming over them. "And that--" His finger jerks towards a steep, meandering road climbing up the rockface about a mile away. "--is our way up there. A small force of regulars have been stationed there along with a unit of torm--expect heavy fire as we're climbing. Most importantly, several damane have been stationed there--how many damane, Laila?"

"Five, sir. I don't think they can see us--they've only made a few random attacks on land."

"Excellent. Can you see them from here?"

"Yes, sir, but they'll be difficult to target. I can point them out with the Power, but they'll see me immediately and attack."

Yeramiel sits back on his haunches, thinking. Laila looks back up at the cliffs--the balls of light are fading, dimming. They, too, rest, waiting for the coming onslaught. We don't have much time... Few to'raken remain in the sky; the survivors wing their way back to the cliffs. One flies low overhead--Laila can see the rider rearing back, aiming his arrow--a ball of fire leaps up to engulf beast with man, killing them instantly. Someone whips away the crumbling remains with a blast of Air to let them scatter on the ground some distance away. A momentary lull falls across the battlefield.

"Alright. Squad, prepare to pull out. Laila, remain behind this boulder. Wait five minutes, then target a damane. Follow us immediately afterwards, do you understand? We'll cover your retreat."

"Yes, sir." She hears his unsaid words, and suppresses a shiver. You'll be targeted by all of them. You're a decoy for the squad. You'll be killed if you don't move fast. But already the squad is slipping away, making their way across the rocky shore at a dead run. Laila runs through the calming exercise--peace settles on her shoulders. Calm. Calm amidst battle. If I lose my head, the plan is ruined. Most of the lights have gone out on the cliff, but one or two remain. Yes. That one.

The Power, roaring through her veins. The pulse of the earth under her feet, slow and steady. Fire, ripping up through the earth, twisting and writhing, bursting to the surface--an explosion upon the clifs, a fiery gesyer spraying its surroundings. The hard slap of her boots against the ground, running, blessed Light, running, running, and up above those balls of Power have flared to life again--

She feels the crackle of lightning against her back, the roar of thunder in her ears--a wave of force throws her to the ground, to smell the stench of burning earth. Get up. Get up. Without looking, she knows the boulder is gone. In front, black figures bob up and down as they run. Revealed for all the world to see. Other fists of black, darting across the shore, all headed for a single destination. And cruel weaves, forming above their heads. No. No. Have to stop them. Her breath coming ragged, she runs, lashing out with Spirit. No time. No time. She can feel the weaves forming above her--and something slashing the air, invisible blades shredding the weaves. "We'll cover your retreat." But I have my own duty to fill... But one light has gone out on the cliffs; the place where she stood lies devestated by Power. They target the damane I reveal. Need to get the rest before we reach the path-- A fist of Air whips around a ball of light, crushing it instantly. Izmere. Thank the Light.

Two down, three to go. The black figures grow larger, resolve into figures. No. Can't get too close. She slows, stops, knowing she stands vulnerable--Yeramiel's face, looking back, stretched in a rictus of anger--Only a few moments. Go on offensive. Two this time. The joy of Earthfire, liberated from its confines, tunneling to the surface--two explosions rock the cliffs. Damane, marked for all to see. Fire, raining down on the enemy, earth crumbling beneath their feet.

Laila staggers as the cliffs explode, tired from the battle. First the sea battle, now this One more light pulsing above--and then suddenly, it blinks out of existance. No. I won't let you hide. One more explosion. One more weave. Laila kneels, presses her hands against the ground. The solid, reliable earth. Her fingers curl into the soil, delighting in its texture. Light knows where the damane has fled, but she can't have gone far. Just will have to make a wide range weave... She closes her eyes, and channels.

On the cliffs, the ground rippled weirdly...then burst open, flames rising from the depths of the earth.

A clump of black grows at the base of the path. One final sprint... Her legs wobble beneath her. I have been in worse before. Much worse. Somehow, the Soldier rises--and runs.

"Good job, Soldier." The rough voice of Asha'man Marit crawls over her as she stumbles to a stop next to the group. The rest of the squads have assembled, ready to make the climb. It will be a long hike--a twisting mile up a cliff under fire. "You're to stay behind with Elsalim and Ruran as we move up the cliff--you'll hold up the squad, weak as you are. You three will follow behind and tend to the wounded. Understood?"

"Yes, sir."

"Asha'man, move out!"

  • Two if by SeaSoldier Laila, Mon Jun 19 14:06
    “Sir, if it’s the same to you, I’d like to undo the weave for wind.” “What’s that, Soldier?” A narrowed eye, a twist of lips. “The wind weave, sir—Seanchan damane will detect it when we approach. The ... more
    • Skies Lit with Fire — Soldier Laila, Sun Jun 25 13:25
      • Comfort the Living, Bury the DeadSoldier Laila, Mon Jun 26 19:50
        They found the first of the dead about halfway up the path: Muiem Sagand and Artoyn Taisande, eyes wide with death, bodies peppered with arrows. Izmere half-knelt, hands outstretched, but Laila... more
        • Lone SoldierSoldier Laila, Sat Jul 1 16:28
          The Power pulsing through them, men and women alike. They are one-- knowing each other, knowing every thought, every breath. For now, no words are necessary. A slash of silver light, cutting the air... more
          • Interview with a SeanchanSoldier Laila, Thu Jul 6 16:50
            At the moment, the only thing that Laila wanted to was sleep. Just sleep--to curl up in her semi-comfortable bedroll and sleep through lunch, dinner, and guard duty. Quite a few other Asha'man were... more
            • Interview with a Seanchan, Part TwoSoldier Laila, Sat Jul 8 20:16
              The Asha'man that had captured him had bound him with the Power after he wriggled free of the rope to make a mad--and futile--dash for the clifftop. Now Yuril sat alone in the dark tent, sweating... more
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