China dug through his plastic action figures looking for the black one with silver trim. The one that looked like, but due to licensing restrictions couldn't be called Malcolm Shield. He took the figure to his desk, a plain door on file cabinets type that span a whole side of the room. Large but mostly unusable because of the sheer volume of paraphernalia used to mimic his favorite Defender.
His parents wanted China to be a researcher or even weapons engineer. They wanted their only son to live on. Too many children died young. Many in an action on the enclave. China was special in that he had no siblings. An odd thing in a time when keeping women pregnant meant survival.
Malcolm Shield was old for a Defender. Almost 36. Most had the honor of death in battle. Malcolm had honor of wins. He could kill a squad of men or Shoan with his blessed blade. Admittedly it was unfair but to be honorable Malcolm Shield always attacked from the front. Before pulling his sword the wanted to look the enemy in the eyes.
Malcolm Shield was a god among men and China wanted to be him. He was speaking at the market today. To tell the people of the Jantwe subclave to send more sons. A meaningless call but one to keep people believing they had a choice. They didn't. Even China knew this. Sending sons and barren daughters to battle was compulsory for the survival of the people and also it was the law. No one broke the law. They all knew what was at stake.
Jantwe bordered the outer wall. They had front row view to the battles and he personally saw his hero Malcolm Shield on the battle field. He dug through his desk drawers found the extra gluey glue and stuck the figure that legally was not Malcolm Shield to a board counted to thirty-dead-like-a-Shoans, tucked it under his arm and ran to the meeting field.
It was spectacular. Malcolm Shield seemed brighter and bigger in real life. People cheered and hooted. They were as ecstatic as China. Then a scream. Three figures could be seen sliding down the inner wall. A Shoan and two of his human pets. Malcolm leaped off the dais and ran to intercept. The crowd made it impossible for the Defender to defend. China watched him try to circle people and how he had to keep picking people up so they wouldn’t be trampled.
He wanted to be Malcolm so he was going to act like him. He had no fighting experience but he could help pick people up. He chased after Malcolm and did his best to help.
The venom of the Shoan was fast. People would with in seconds start to fight their own kind. You could see the fear in their eyes as they did. China had never been this close. Children not trained in control fell fast to the call and started attacking. Malcolm didn't wait he began cutting them down. He had to. They would continue to kill or capture for the dark creature. This one was a rare red. A female. It was going to make a nest. It needed solders.
It infected several dozen before Malcolm could reach the first. China had stopped trying to help and just followed. The two humans that came with the Shoan were long infected. When other defenders started appearing they fought back. Able to fight with awareness they killed without remorse. They used people as shields and as weapons. The few strikes taken by the possessed didn’t seem to even phase them.
Finally Malcolm Shield was able to reach the fight at the Shoan Queen. She had no more fodder to infect and no more patience. She leaped at the Defenders ripping them apart. No weapon seemed to touch her. Malcolm Shield went first to the possessed he sheathed his sword and fought them hand to hand.
The most noble thing to do for the long fallen. Fight them with honor. He finally killed the second man but as he did the Shoan Queen landed on him. Her ichorous blood dripping freely and she bit. China saw his hero’s eyes go wide then fall.
China was over this. He never wanted to see another battle much less be in one. How did just one Shoan do so much damage. No he wanted nothing to do with any of it any more. Then he saw the Queen turn towards him. He had no where to go running wouldn’t take him anywhere. Then Malcolm turned on the queen. The possession was fast and he was fighting it. Malcolm took out the sword starred at the queen and let her come to him. He lifted the hilt and she ran into the blade and fell.
China ran to Malcolm he could see the fear and the struggle. “let me help” he said. That’s when Malcolm did something unexpected, he relaxed.
Malcom relaxed and handed China the sword. The sword had no blade… no blade at all. Hundreds of people were cut down. So afraid of the sword and the word of the man, who was a good fighter China saw first hand, they succumb to the the blade of instant death.
China hesitated but saw blood dripping from Malcom’s mouth. He was bitting his tongue. China took the hilt. Malcolm grabbed China’s face. Hard. He stared in China’s eyes and the hilt got heavy and warm. China shoved the hilt to Malcolm’s chest feeling the blade cut through sinew and bone. Malcolm’s eyes rolled back and he died.
Other’s cleaned the mess. The bodies, now infected had to be burned and disposed of out side the walls. This was matter that couldn’t be returned to the cycle. But China just sat there. Sword of instant death in his hands and his hero next to him. Gone.