I am Lacouna
“Your Highness, we have to leave! Now!”
Lacouna did not register the sound of her personal bodyguards calling for her to leave. She couldn’t leave, not now. There were still plenty of denizens in the Nexus… in the remnants of the inner hollow, that did not know of the impending doom. She had to warn them, she would not be able to forgive herself if their blood was on her hands.
Except, the blood wouldn’t be by her doing… no, this was the work of her mother, Myrrah. Why? Why did she declare war on the humans? Why did she wage her campaign against the surface species, while the Lambent, their true foe, was right on their doorstep? Lacouna did not agree with the war, for in her eyes, it only bought them suffering.
Their mightiest leaders slain, dozens of their soldiers slaughtered, the outer hollows destroyed and now… the Nexus was to washed away in a great flood, and though the humans did cause the flood in one way, truly, Myrrah was the one who instigated it with her war.
“Your highness?!” The voice of her Bodyguard bellowed. Still, Lacouna did not register, she frantically searched for the speaker system that could broadcast to the Nexus and the inner hollow.
Soldiers at the front line were being annihilated by the human strike force, while others defending the Nexus were being overrun by the Lambent. There was no hope for them.
It took one of her guards physically grabbing her by the arm to get her to pay attention. She turned and saw the panic stricken face of the guard, who’s helmet had been chipped and broken beyond repair.
“It is no use your highness, all is lost! We must get you to safety!” The guard uttered.
Lacouna stuttered, taking a second to utter her reply.
“I… cannot leave yet! I have a duty to warn my people!” She protested. “I can still save them!”
“My liege, look around! The Lambent swarm over the Palace, slaughtering all our guard! Our troops on the front are dying in the hundreds trying to stop the humans! We are surrounded! There is nothing we can do for them!” The guard stated.
“You are wrong!” Lacouna wrestled her arm out of the guard’s grip. “There is hope, there is…”
The lead guard grabbed Lacouna again, this time, he gently put his hands on her shoulders.
“Princess, you can try, but you will surely die here. Who will lead our people then?” He explained, though from the way he worded it, he was convinced Myrrah would die to.
“Please, let us get you to safety. You can rebuild, lead our people away from the war! If you were to die here then well… I believe our people would be doomed to extinction.”
Lacouna’s bodyguards weren’t the usual breed. She handpicked them herself. They weren’t the usual fanatics of her mother, or the brutish thugs of Mustlar’s unit. No, these were true soldiers. Understanding, intelligent and loyal to fault. These soldiers were willing to die for Lacouna’s safety.
If Lacouna were to die, they’d surely end their own lives. Better to die right there, rather than live with the guilt of knowing the one you swore to protect died while under your protection.
Lacouna trembled, she knew they were right… but she could not bare the thought of leaving innocents to die. However, there was nothing she could do for them. All she could do is pray and hope that she could rebuild.
“I understand…” she gulped.
Her guardsman nodded, understanding her pain, and began to escort her towards the Reaver Pens. Her lover, Akvolt, had already gone on ahead, at her urging, with Soul Killer Krall and two civilians (Feral Myzfit and Jayall) Lacouna promised to meet with them.
Going through the Palace Hallways, Lacouna could feel the chaos surrounding her. Not to mention all the agony. Every corner she turned she could either smell blood and bodies, the stench of charred flesh of the Lambent, or she could hear the screams of those dying around her.
At one point, they passed a Stained Glass window, which was smashed as the maimed corpse of a Palace Guard was tossed through it. Lacouna’s guards tried to cover her as they passed it, but she could just about make at the terrifying figure of Emissary Rage, a hulking Behemoth, destroy a cadre of guards. Knowing Rage, a large pile of bodies and trail of destruction weren’t too far behind.
Reaching a fork in the pathway, the guardsmen forced Lacouna right to the Reaver pens, but as they moved, she spotted a horrifying sight.
Rain Maker, Emissary of Acid, spitting his acidic stomach contents onto a helpless, wounded Theron Guard. The Sadistic Emissary turned his attention to a group of civilian Kantus and backed them into a smaller room, grinning all the way. Following Rain Maker was the shambling corpse Havoc, who contorted his body as he followed Rain Maker.
Lacouna wanted to scream, break out of her guards restraint and fight the Emissaries. But she held back tears of both pain and anger, knowing that she could not face them… not now anyway.
Finally reaching the Reaver pens, the guardsman were quick to allow Lacouna to climb aboard a mount first. The lead guardsman got onto the drivers seat to pilot Lacouna to safety.
The rest, would not be so lucky. Only moments after Lacouna’s Reaver was beginning to ascend, the doors to the Reaver Pens behind them were demolished, and out stepped two Mulcher wielding Lambent Heavies. The Heavies opened fire, and Lacouna could only watch as her guards were butchered in the hail of gunfire.
Even in the face of death though, they still fought valiantly. The survivors threw themselves in front of the Lambent to ensure they would not attack Lacouna. It wasn’t for nothing, and though they died, Lacouna’s Reaver was able to fly off and escape.
“Princess, we can still make it to…!”
The guards man was cut off, for a quake shook the tunnels of the Hollow that they flew through… no, it couldn’t have been!
Lacouna could only glimpse a portion of the oncoming water…
“Cold… so cold… can’t breath…”
Those thoughts echoed through Lacouna’s head, as the darkness of her vision began to clear, and it soon became apparent she was under water. Desperately, Lacouna began to swim up as fast as she could.
She broke to the surface of the water with a gasp and a coughing fit, but saw a bank of land not far ahead. Swimming as fast as she could, Lacouna soon collapsed when she landed.
That’s when it all began to hit her.
Shaking her head, she saw that was in fact at a higher point at what was once a Cliffside village. The small beachhead she landed on was in fact at a hill that overlooked the village. One would be able to see it all from this point. Now? Nothing but water… the village sunken at the very bottom of the flooded in sea water.
“It cannot be…” Lacouna uttered, too stunned for words.
She simply sat there in utterly silence, contemplating what had lead to this. A war she didn’t believe in, a war that she was too afraid to speak of because it was lead by her own mother. Why? Why couldn’t she stand up for herself?
“Please, let us get you to safety. You can rebuild, lead our people away from the war! If you were to die here then well… I believe our people would be doomed to extinction.”
The words of her guardsman suddenly cut into her thoughts. She stopped herself and repeated those words in her head over and over again. She was soon to realise that she couldn’t do this…
… she could not be weak. Her people were not dead, no! They needed a leader, a strong leader that could help build them a better future! They would not find one in her while she lay moping! No, now was the time to awaken the strength she always had!
Quickly rinsing her hair, Lacouna picked herself up. She realised that she was armed with only two Gorgon Machine Pistols. Not the strongest weapons, but they would defend her none the less.
It wasn’t long before said chance appeared.
“YOU!” bellowed a voice.
Lacouna looked and saw two Drones being lead by a Grenadier. All three of them looked wounded, probably from battling humans or Lambent. Not only that, but they looked traumatised, horrified and even savage.
“PRINCESS! IS THIS THE VICTORY YOUR FAMILY PROMSIED?!” The Grenadier snarled.
Lacouna was quick to retlaiate.
“My Locust, I know what has happened…”
She was interrupted by the crazed Grenadier.
“Our Queen promised us salvation! She swore the humans would be an easy conquest! We would take the surface and bury the Lambent!” he roared. “Now? Now our homes are flooded, our brethren has been slaughtered in the millions and now we are surrounded, broken and ruined!”
“Please! I did not wish for this!” Lacouna protested. “My mother…”
“Yes, she lied to us! As do you!” The Grenadier growled, brandishing a combat knife. “We may not be able to face our Queen now, but we will punish her by sacrificing you! Her daughter for our race!”
The Grenadier swung the knife, but Lacouna was quick to dodge out of the way. She responded by slamming one Gorgon down into the Grenadier’s skull, making him stumble. Lacouna followed up by smashing the other Gorgon into his face, blackening an eye and knocking out several teeth.
His two Drone cohorts quickly followed, but Lacouna was able to counteract their moves and dispatch them with quick elbows to the chests and fists to the face, sending the sprawling on the ground.
Now looking down on her defeated foes, Lacouna aimed her Gorgons at them. They realised that Lacouna was no “Damsel”, pampered on every whim, she trained to fight and defend herself.
However, much to their amazement, Lacouna showed something Myrrah would never… mercy. Lacouna moved her Gorgons away from the Grenadiers and took a step back.
“This was no my war!” Lacouna stated. “My mother lead us all into this! I understand your anger, but do not dare assume I wished for this too!”
The three Locust looked at each other in both fear and confusion.
“I have every right to execute you, but I shall not. I shall not be the merciless leader like my mother was.” Lacouna stated. “I will rebuild our race and make it into something far better…”
With that, Lacouna turned her back and began to leave the scene, searching for any other areas that escaped flooding.
The three Locust did not dare follow.
The Tempest was an unusual creature, even for the hollow. Lacouna had only ever seen one, and that was the personal vessel of her mother. No other sightings had been reported, until now that was.
While traversing through the areas of the Hollow that had managed to escape the flooding, Lacouna stumbled upon an area that resembled a nest of sorts. The local flora illuminated an unusual yellow colour and Lacouna saw what appeared to be various honeycomb like tunnels, possibly used for flying in and out of the area.
Right in front of her was a Tempest, a baby tempest. It was incredible, it still resembled the flying beetle beast that Myrrah had, but it was much smaller and it looked more vulnerable. It’s eyes appeared more wide and more innocent, rather than fierce and powerful. It’s jaws were filled with miniscule fangs and it looked as though it was barely bigger than a Wretch.
Like most Hollow creatures, there was a chance that it would grow quickly, years of warfare made unusual effects on the wildlife. Altering growth rates, metabolism and all sorts. Sure, it looked weak and vulnerable now, but chances are in a few days time, it would tower over Lacouna. Still, it was quite the sight.
The baby Tempest screeched in a high pitched whine at Lacouna, frightened at the intruder, and it appeared as though it attempted to use the “heat breath” it’s older form had, but to no avail. When it realised that Lacouna wasn’t leaving, it tried to fly away, only to come crashing down.
Lacouna studied the creature, it appeared as though one of it’s legs was limb, possibly broken. Every time it tried to get up, it’s limb leg stuck out and sent it back down. Perhaps it was in too much pain to fly? Maybe it was abandoned by other members of the nest?
She couldn’t leave it, despite it being a wild animal that would grow up to be a frightening beast, she couldn’t stand the sight of it in such agony. Lacouna thought to try and help it.
Normally, Locust beasts were domesticated via a means of pheromones, control pieces and displaying dominance. Show the beast you are the stronger of the two, and it would submit.
However, Lacouna opted to try another approach, instead of displaying power over the wounded animal and force it to submit, maybe if she showed it that she meant no harm and wished to help it, it could be a companion?
Having learnt to survive out in the wilderness, Lacouna was quick to think up a solution. Finding a bundle of sticks, she was able to create a makeshift “crutch” for the creature’s leg, tying it together with some vines.
“Do not be afraid.” she said to the baby Tempest.
The baby was taken back, frightened. It tried to retreat, but it’s wound was slowing it down. Lacouna slowly and cautiously approached the beast, as careful not to cause further stress.
It appeared to work, the way she gently approached it seemed to calm the beast. Though it was still nervous, it did not appear to thrash and try and retreat. Cautiously, it watched Lacouna ready the crutch.
With the uttermost care and balance, Lacouna was able to lift the wounded leg and place it alongside the crutch. She tied them together with spare vine.
“I hope that will help you.” Lacouna said, her voice warm and reassuring.
Though the beast was still in pain, it was no where near as bad as it was before. The tempest took a few seconds to try and get used to walking about. Though slow and pained, it saw it was managing. Lacouna noted that it did not try to fly.
Did it work? Lacouna tried, she turned away and began to walk, and sure enough, the baby Tempest followed.
Lacouna smiled and knelt down, she placed on hand on the creature’s head.
“Do not be afraid, I shall find you safety.” She stated.
The creature just watched in awe.
For a small, wounded beast, it had certainly found it’s second wind. Lacouna struggled to keep up with the baby Tempest as it scurried along the tunnels that ascended upward. It didn’t seem to have much of a clue where it was going, probably just excited at the thought of moving about again.
Lacouna allowed herself a chuckle as she followed the creature on it’s set path. Though at one point, she stopped to scratch her head, feeling a slight itch move through her tentacle hair.
The Tempest continue forward, then suddenly stopped and recoiled at something. Whatever it was, it was unfamiliar with it. Lacouna went to investigate, but she too was stopped. Unlike the Tempest, Lacouna knew what it was.
“Sunlight?” She gasped.
Moving forward, Lacouna went up and sure enough, she found herself basking in the sun of the surface! The creature had inadvertently lead her up to the surface!
“Destroyed beauty” was a word that sprung to Lacouna’s mind once her eyes adjusted to the sun. She was greeted by regal, almost temple like buildings, that though appeared ruined, still basked in glory. Lacouna wondered if maybe this was once where the academies of the humans was, where their brightest and best would study.
Sadly, it appeared as though this part of the surface had no escaped Jacinto’s sinking, for a large portion of the road was now a large crater, filled with running sea water. What used to be there? Something majestic no doubt, but now lost to the flood.
Lacouna wanted to stay and look around, but she knew that Akvolt would be looking for her. Not wanting to keep the High Priest… her lover, waiting and worrying. Lacouna began to move away, when her attention was caught by another sight.
It looked like a Locust convoy, possible one that had been sent up to Jacinto as part of the final assault. Dead Drones, Boomers and war beasts were splattered all over the streets, with weapons coated in blood on the roads, and a cart of explosives crashed. Thankfully, it appeared as though the explosives had not gone off.
Lacouna approached one of the bodies, a dead Grenadier Elite carrying a maul of sorts. She was set to try and investigate, but instead, she had to leap back, for a blood stained sword struck the body and narrowly missed her.
Lacouna was greeted by a sight that no Locust wished to see. The blackish green, charred armour, the sinister eyes masked behind the horned helmet and the bloodied sword. Add the menacing, gargoyle like wings that loomed over the figure… and you were face to face with Scourge. Leader of the Emissaries and the Embodiment of Destruction.
Lacouna armed herself with her two Gorgons, but Scourge was not impressed.
“So, the false queen’s legacy survives.” Scourge hissed. “Her mongrel child still walks.”
“You… you did this, didn’t you?!” Lacouna demanded. Of course, she already knew Scourge was behind the slaughter of this convoy, but it was a knee jerk reaction.
“Stragglers… those who were not killed by the flood.” Scourge explained. “Not worth the effort.”
Lacouna saw that Scourge’s lessers, his “Knights” were behind him. She counted about three.
“My Emissaries and I were disappointed, for we did not get a chance to slay the Queen.” The Emissary continued. “Though it was gratifying to slaughter the weak, we were denied a chance for the greatest kill of all…”
“And now you think you’ll get that chance with me?” Lacouna demanded.
“You jest, child.” Scourge mocked. “You are not worthy of my time, to bring your life to an end would not bring my the same satisfaction. I insult my minions, ordering them to kill you, but…”
“You shall pay for the deaths of these warriors!” Lacouna snarled. “And you shall regret turning you back on me!”
By this time, Scourge was already walking away, and his knights were beginning their attack. They underestimated Lacouna badly.
As they charged, Lacouna back peddled and opened fire with her Gorgons. Unlike Scourge, the Knights armour was weaker and more vulnerable (a failsafe, should the knights betray him) so the armour of the first two knights cracked and broke easily, the Gorgon rounds ripping their charred flesh apart.
Wounded, the two knights fell to their knees. Lacouna followed up by smashing one knight in it’s face with one of her Gorgons, then promptly kicked the second Knight square in the head.
The third Knight had it’s Cleaver ready and swung wildly at Lacouna, but the Princess rolled out of the way and managed to grab the Maul. She swung the maul at the Knight, smashing it’s top half with ease.
Scourge turned to see Lacouna had slain the Knights, but the Emissary wasn’t impressed. He simply drew his sword and looked on.
Having dropped her Gorgons, Lacouna stood with the Maul, ready to battle.
“Hmm, some fight after all.” He mused.
With lightning speed, Scourge launched his attack. Lacouna was quick to retaliate, but unlike the knights, she was on the defensive. Scourge’s furious attacks were fast, and Lacouna had to think at a rapid rate to avoid getting hit.
Fortunately, Lacouna was able to do just that. She used the handle and the front of the Maul to block several of the sword swings. When Lacouna got a few windows to attack, Scourge either blocked with his sword, or folded his wings forward to stop hit.
“I will not fall!” Lacouna bellowed. “You shall not beat me Emissary!”
Lacouna swung her Maul several times at an aggressive speed, Scourge blocked the first few hits with ease… but at the last hit, the Maul struck him on the chest.
Recoiling in surprise, Scourge stopped to get his grip. He cracked his neck and readied his sword for another attack. Lacouna was already charging at him. Scourge was ready though, and managed to swing his sword at Lacouna, forcing her back on the defensive.
“You thought of me as weak, did you?” Lacouna shouted, as she and Scourge traded blows. “Though of me as an easy kill? How does it feel to know you are wrong? Ashamed?!”
With that, Lacouna managed to strike a part of the Maul on the Emissary’s side, sending him sprawling. However, he was not fazed, he easily got back up and continued trading blows with Lacouna.
“Oh, but it pleases me that you fight, mongrel!” Scourge taunted. “All the more satisfying to slay!”
Scourge then did a dirty blow, he struck Lacouna on the face with a head butt! The Princess recoiled, blood seeping from her nose.
“Fall before me…” Scourge whispered.
He swung his sword, but to his amazement, Lacouna recovered just as quickly as he and used the Maul to smash the sword away.
“Never!” she snarled.
Lacouna struck several blows into Scourge, knocking the Emissary backwards and winding him, stopping him from counter attacking. With a rush of energy, Lacouna swung the Maul so hard that Scourge was sent sprawling backwards.
The Emissary crashed into the road, his body skidding across the asphalt and into the cart with the explosives. For a brief moment, it looked as though he was down for good. Lacouna caught her breath, feeling relief, but that was soon changed to anger, as Scourge got up… without a care. The Emissary seemed almost mocking in the way he got back up and readied his sword.
The two stood off, glaring at one another.
“Emissary! You stand confident now, but listen well!” Lacouna began. She stepped forward, spotting one of her Gorgons. She carefully placed her boot underneath the gun and lifted it up ever s slightly.
“Understand this! I do not fear you! I know what you are!” She taunted. “You claim to fight for a cause, you claim yourself a holy warrior, purging us ‘weak’ Locust, but I see you for what you really are! You are nothing but a sadistic mutant! A deranged killer! A blight upon this world! You have no goal, other than killing for the sake of pleasure.”
Scourge stood still, Lacouna could not read his expression, for it was masked under his helmet.
“Now that I see what you are, I see no reason to fear you… and neither will my people! We will face you… and we will defeat you!” Lacouna roared.
Lacouna felt rage burn inside her when she saw Scourge temporarily put away his sword and give a fake, mocking clap. He quickly got the sword back out again.
“Child, you think these words mask your fear? They do not.” He taunted. “Understand, girl, that this world will burn… with you on it.”
“I… am… Princess Lacouna!”
With that, Lacouna dropped the maul and kicked the Gorgon up into the air, she caught it with one hand and fired off a burst.
Scourge was about to move forward, but he suddenly realised what Lacouna was aiming at… the explosives.
The Emissary had time to use his wings to shield himself, before the explosion seemingly engulfed the street.
Lacouna dropped to her knees in exhaustion, realising what she had just done. Not only had she survived the flooding, but now she was a historic figure. One of the few to face Scourge, Emissary of Destruction, and live.
Did he die in that explosion? Much to Lacouna’s annoyance, she had to admit that wasn’t the case. The Emissary no doubt found a way to cheat death… but it wouldn’t last.
The baby Tempest, having hidden from the fight, quickly went to Lacouna’s side. She looked at her newfound companion and smiled…
Lacouna was startled back to reality when a loud gunshot rung through the air. She quickly turned to see a Knight, with a gaping Boltok wound through it’s head.
The Knight collapsed, and Lacouna was suddenly greeted by none other than Akvolt. The High Priest was wielding a Boltok.
Realising the state Lacouna was in, Akvolt rushed over to her, before she could say anything, Akvolt grabbed her and hugged her as tightly as he could.
“By the gods… you are alive…” he said, his voice trembling.
“Akvolt… I am fine…” Lacouna replied.
Over Akvolt’s shoulder, she could see Soul Killer Krall dispatching some Lambent Wretches and Drones, latecomers to the fray.
“My love, are you…” Akvolt was about to say, but Lacouna cut him off.
“Yes, do not worry for me, I am okay.” Lacouna reassured. “Better now that we are together again…”
Things may not have looked good for the Horde right now, but a light was at the end of the tunnel. What they needed was a strong, wise leader who could help them rebuild…
… and with Lacouna leading them, they would surely rise again.