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Essence 1
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Title: Knuckle-dusting Lawgiver
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The One-Legged Angel

19 Feb 2017, 15:12

(I originally wrote this during Heavensward hype pre-launch, while bored at work, and it shows. Even so, this covers how Flint lost access to the Dragoon class and why he turned to Machinist.)

Flint Rochester can still remember Doma the way it was.  Before the Garlean Empire conquered it and turned those who surrendered into conscripts and those who resisted into criminals.  When he could still jump.

And jump he did.  A commoner who'd risen above his station as a Dragoon, he'd been spit upon and doubted until he actually made it to the battlefield.  Thanks to, ironically, a Garlean.  Before the Black Wolf brought his campaign to its terrible state, before the Garleans reached Doma, the man known now as Alexei Valens was his friend.  It was he who used connections to put his name forward, to get him into a Doman military academy.

But that time was far away now.  Doma was losing, but its knights, its soldiers, refused to give up, even as the Empire's finest shattered their ranks.

Flint was a comet.  A furious angel roaring down from Heaven to strike the unrepentant demon.  Until his fall was broken by a mobile armor's right shield.  "The DRAGONFIRE DIVE!  I never thought I'd see it up close!  Just to see it fail!" grinned Octavian Blackstone, decorated assault officer of Garlea's military.  "By the feeble gods, how pathetic!"

The next hit shattered Flint's right leg.  And just to show how unstoppable and vicious he was, Octavian followed this up by firing a slew of bolts into the young Dragoon's broken leg.

And then?  He moved on.  This was not how Flint imagined he'd die.  But he could feel Doma itself underneath him.  At least he'd die at home.  At least he'd get one last look at it before it was sacked.

He thought of silly things at a time like this.  He remembered the swamp he found his pet frog at when he was a child.  The one that inspired him.  The frog is the noblest creature in the swamp, you see.  Swamps are wretched places, filled with crawling and hideous things.  But among these wretched, the frog shows it can dream.  By hopping.  To most, this is insignificant, but to Flint... to sail above the swamp, even for just a moment... is to be above it.  To be free.

But now, even that swamp from his childhood was trampled by powered armor and magitek titans.  And the frog he had died even before this conflict.

Everything went dark.

And then came back with agonizing reality.  Three things immediately became obvious: He wasn't dead.  Blackstone's armor was destroyed, with one of its armaments detached and sparking.  He couldn't feel his leg and it looked infected.

Wait, make that four things: A Garlean "mercykiller" was wandering the former battlefield, stabbing both Doman and Garlean units that weren't quite dead but not quite "salvageable".  And he was very aware of Flint.  He started creeping toward him.

"Oh fuck me." he tried moving.  It filled him with a desire to be dead again.  "FUCK ME." another push.  He managed to roll onto his stomach and start crawling.  Good thing his leg was dead, made it easier to ignore the bloody shrapnel spikes sticking out of it.

He made it to the armament.  A small flickering panel greeted him.  Along with an imprint scanner.  Great.  All he could think of to do was strike it with his fist.

"TWELVE DAMNIT" that thing was getting closer still.  He could hear the faceless soldier humming merrily.  Fucking psychopath.

His throat was sore and filled with dirt.  This was it.  This was the e-

HEAR.  FEEL.  THINK.What...?

HEAR.  FEEL.  THINK.Think, Rochester.  Where was all this knowledge coming from?  Magitek batteries?  Combat modules?  If you strike it just right...

"WELCOME TO THE 886-B GARLEAN ARMS HOSTILE ENCOUNTER DEVICE.  PLEASE ENTER AN OFFICER CODE."

WHAM!

"GREETINGS, STRIKE-LIEUTENANT OCTAVIAN BLACKSTONE.  DO YOU HAVE A TARGET?"

"... yeah I can think of one."  "ACKNOWLEDGED."

Maybe he'd live after all.  More importantly, maybe Yugiri and the refugees with her would make it.  Linkpearl chatter indicated they'd have units escorting them, but Flint couldn't transmit back to them, he didn't have the clearance.  He couldn't tell them those units wouldn't be making it.

Still, that strange voice that put all that stuff in his head was right.  Now was the time to hear, feel, and think.  Keeping it easy, right?

Some Garlean steel, rubber, and twine plus a stolen toolbox and that strange entity's help made the previously impossible merely a chore: a new leg (He had to amputate, good thing he had a few Hi-Potions le-nah make it X.  It hurt like hell.)  But his lance was lost.  Snapped.  Shattered.  No more Dragooning for him.  He tried not to think about it, he couldn't afford to break into tears right now at the realization that everything he'd wanted to be was obliterated along with that leg.

But he'd need a replacement for that old-fashioned Dragon Magic.  An alchemical trigger, some spruce lumber, Garlean ste-no, never, the leg was one thing, but this couldn't be made of the enemy's works.  Doman steel.  A comrade's old katana (The samurai tried, but maybe they were extinct along with Doma's Dragoons now.  Don't think about it Flint, you can't cry now, war dog.) would do.  Two of them.  Three of them.  This had to be strong.  It was going to be his new friend and it needed a name.

The swamp... he couldn't forget about it.  Fine then, Garleans like fancy names for things?  He'd get a fancier name.  One with meaning.  This wasn't a pistol, it was too big.  It wasn't merely a shotgun or a rifle.  It was a First Response Omnibarrel Gun.  He had his childhood friend with him again, only this time instead of catching flies with its tongue it breathed slugs made of fire and steel.  Let them hear you, old pal, what do frogs say?

...

"ALL UNITS, THIS IS STRIKE-LIEUTENANT BLACKSTONE.  THE REFUGEES ARE IN SIGHT.  THIS IS IT, MEN.  TODAY WE WIPE OUT THE DOMANS AND ABSORB THEIR WISER MEMBERS INTO OUR GREAT EMPIRE!  CHECK-IN."

"Red 14, I'm here."

"Blue 27 reporting in."

"Black 33 good to go."

"Purple 12 holding up the rear, sir."

"Ribbit."

"GREEN 55 COME AGAIN?"

"Green 55's sick today.  So's his support crew."

"WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?"

"You know how you guys really hate primals and anything that gives people hope?"

"IGNORE HIM.  TAKE GREEN 55 DOWN,NOW."

Endless gun batteries pointed at the gunship Flint had managed to steal.  He was a doofus to his friends.  A real Spear Jockey.  But that voice... it'd enabled him to be not only a Machinist of bizarre origin, it let him be an Agent Provocateur somehow.  Man, today was weird.

A self-destruct device.  Of course.  Only the Garlean Empire would put such an idiotic and theatrical device on their war machines.  Okay, all guns do your shooty thing.  Make yourself blow up.  Let's see about this hardsuit you got in the back.

"Normally, only beast tribes summon a primal.  A god.  Whatever, you know?  Religion's weird.  But I like things that give people hope, so I've decided I'm a primal today."  He strapped into the magitek hardsuit in the back, even as dozens of alarms and warnings appeared on the controls he'd abandoned, urging him to do something about the incoming damage and failing systems.  Flint finally started crying.  You can only ignore emotion for so long.  He'd been hearing and thinking, but now maybe he really would die.

Clumsily but with determination, the Mk. 5 Hardsuit got outside the gunship and atop it.  On his own one-and-a-half legs, a Jump was impossible, but...

"Warning, Strike-Lieutenant Blackstone."

"WHAT?"

"Dragoon detected."  beepbeepbeep

Move the leg just so, tense the hips, think only of hope and the sky.  Why does the frog leap?  Flint's legs twitched, his heart pounded.

"My name is Flint Rochester.  I'm usually a nobody.  Just a peasant whose best friend helped him achieve greater.  I don't know where any of my friends are now, but..." his face was flushed, he could feel tears going past his lips.

"but..." the armor reached over and snapped a communications antenna off the gunship.  "Today I'm the primal Doma's summoned.  TODAY... I'M THE ONE-LEGGED ANGEL."

"Strike-Lieutenant Blackstone, hostile's pattern is consistent with..."

"NO..."

WARNING.  INCOMING DRAGOON.

"DRAGONFIRE DIIIIIVE!!!"

An angel fell.  Shadows swept over the sea, shadows who walked like Domans.  Because they were.  They escaped.

"Rosalyn, you're never going to believe this.  There's a hardsuit here.  It's in bad shape but... I think the guy inside is still alive."

"What?"

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