Day 10: Skeleton’s Battle Cry

Author Jenna Eatough's Flash Fiction Story from Fyrecon's Fyretober Writing Prompt 2023-10-10

During October I am bringing you extra flash fiction or poetry in celebration of the season and inspired by Fyrecon’s Fyretober!.

Enjoy my tenth entry into Fyrecon’s Fyretober!

Fyrecon's Fyretober Daily Prompt List

1. New neighbors
2. It’s Alive
3. No Exit
4. Walk in the cemetery
5. Door in the wall
6. Mirror
7. Space visitors
8. The Monster Is
9. Anti-magic costumes
10. Skeleton’s battle cry
11. Djinn party
12. Space dwarves
13. Zombie fireball
14. Possessed guild house
15. Lorekeeper’s mask
16. Dragon sight
17. Alien scryers
18. Trick-or-Treating Shapeshifters
19. Disguised spellbook
20. Screaming trapdoor
21. Ghost weaponsmith
22. Jack-O’-Lantern avatars
23. Pheonix light sail
24. Sparkle castle
25. Graveyard pocket universe
26. Sentient wand
27. Haunted Skyhook
28. Pirate space elevator
29. Disguised terraforming
30. The Witches’ Laws
31. Precognizant cats

Bonus Fanged griffin

Commander Nearborne raced onto the bridge of the Devastator ducking between wires dangling from panels ripped from the walls. Not since Trafalgar Squad had split directions had he seen another soul on the ship. The battle roared about the ship, but it lay emptied and abandoned with only a trace of atmosphere remaining. Still, the thing was their best chance and he’d already wasted… Nearborne glanced at his watch. Two minutes.

Shunning the captain’s seat, he raced for the helm. They had to get this thing moving. He dodged beneath a shower of sparks as the sizzling electricity bit into his skin. That would leave welts. Rather, they would have left welts if they had time to. Time he was out of.

“Please work. Please work,” he whispered to the console as he darted into the seat. He wrapped one hand about the helm stick, the familiar feel calming his nerves as he pulled up the station reports with the other.

Not good. The number of warnings to critical failures outweighed everything else. He hadn’t expected otherwise. They didn’t need much working, just enough to move the thing and fire off the arsenal the crew had left derelict. Not that any of them could have predicted the battle going this sideways. The ship was near death, but perhaps before death it could cry out a final time.

Nearborne triggered the main comms. “Squad, report in.” Only buzzing responded. Grumbling, he switched on his suit’s comms. “Trafalgar Squad report in.”

“Mack and I are in engineering,” Stace reported. “It’s not great down here, but we should be able to get her moving for minutes anyway.”

“And shields are nearly nonexistent.” Mack added.

Nearborne’s own readouts would no doubt have told him that if he bothered with more than a cursory glance. All he needed to know was how to get them from here to the heart of the battle. At least engaging thrust wouldn’t explode them immediately. “Got it.” Nearborne pulled the controls back and the search ship lurked into motion, sending a shudder through the Devastator even the dampeners couldn’t affect.

“What about you and Tom, Barb?” He asked. The vibrations on the ship increased as he pushed her forward. “Can you get the warheads ready to launch?”

“Reports not good here, Nearborne.” Barb’s voice was harsh, quick without her usual verbose playful self. She enjoyed twisting words almost as much as she loved explosions. Not good was probably an understatement.

“Can’t get in the armory. Not even close. Explosions have taken out every passing.” Tom said. “Though we’ve got a great view from the other side of a debris field that would shred us.”

Nearborne’s tightened his hands around the control. They couldn’t get in the armory. If they couldn’t, the Devastator wouldn’t launch a thing. If they couldn’t launch, what hope did they have of slowing the Crolzoks?

Nearborne pulled up a staticky image of the space beyond the Devastator on the screen. Ships lay in space, outlined by the fire of ships dying and warheads exploding. The few Earth ships still working at all were retreating. The rest died where they were, and the Crolzoks advanced.

Nearborne knew what he’d see if he switched the view to behind. Clearfield V 5 swarmed by civilian ships. Passenger liners, freight ships, whatever they could crammed people abord to evacuate the colony and run.

His own squad’s had been toasted early on. They didn’t have anywhere to retreat. They had here. The had the Devastator. A ship so badly damaged it was more bones than battleship. Nearborne pulled the helm’s controls back further, trying to coax the ship faster.

Trafalgar had boarded knowing they wouldn’t even be a skeleton crew on this thing. They boarded anyway because they’d known it still bore an arsenal. But tom and Barb couldn’t reach it, but they still had it, the skeleton crew of the Devastator. “What were skeletons if not already dead?” he said mercilessly.

“Guys, I’ve got an idea, and you’re gonna hate it.” He knew his voice sounded hallow as he spoke.

“I’m betting it’s the same idea I have,” Barb said. “We can’t get to the arsenal, but it’s still here.”

“And we can take it to them.” Stace said. Nearborne heard the quick pounding, as if Stace had struck something. He didn’t doubt she had. ‘The engines will get us there.”

“But not if we leave the ship.” Mack said. “Autopilot is dead, and these systems need constant adjustment.”

Nearborne tightened his jaw. He’d assumed as much would prove true. “But that doesn’t mean you and Tom have to stay. Barb, get out of here. Report in.”

“No can do, Nearborne,” Barb said. “You go down, we’re going with you.”

Nearborne would’ve argued with her and ordered her off, but he didn’t have a punishment to put teeth in his words. They’d all be dead. There’d be no reprisals given after the fact. Maybe in the afterlife everyone prattled on about when he was a kid. He’d never given then great thought, but now seemed as good a time as any to discover the truth.

“Let’s bring ‘em hell,” Nearborne whispered.

The vibrations in the ship picked up, and Nearborne heard metal scraping against metal as more parts tore away. They were encased in their suits, separate but together. What was more plating now? Crolzoks ships came closer and turned their guns toward the Devastator. They still surged forward. The void of space carrying them as the engines blazed out.

Clearfield V would have the time it needed. Nearborne grinned Crolzoks flagship filled the screen. Too close now. He opened the comm lines between Trafalgar squad and broadcast them openly out. Nearborne scream his defiance as the ship slammed into the other. Four voices joined in him as the skeletons screamed their death knell.

Be sure to check out all the #fyretober creations.

#fyretober2023 #fyretoberflashfiction2023 #fyretoberprompts2023 #fyretober2023day10

“Fyretober is for everyone who loves to create, and this month we’re looking to see your flash fiction, poetry, and illustrations every day. We’ll be providing daily prompts for the month and want to see what new concepts and wonders you can make with them.”

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