The table in front of Traxis is littered with little bits and parts, spare pieces collected from weapons gathered up over the long years of roaming in the wilds, all pre-City. The weapons themselves are long gone, many damaged beyond repair during the heat of one battle or another. Others were simply sold or traded — even with missing pieces, weapons from the Golden Age are highly valued by any Guardian — or disassembled and scrapped (not without the least little bit of guilt and sorrow) for parts.

The pieces are arranged in an arc before her, bits of metal and ceramic organized into piles by type — firing pins, triggers, bolts, springs — all within easy reach. Immediately before her is a shotgun. Type: exotic. She had had to topple a titan to obtain it. The weapon is deeply rusted and scarred by decades of corrosion, and many of the working parts have been fused together from long aeons of exposure. The wear and tear is in itself somewhat remarkable. It is rare to find a Golden Age weapon so severely diminished by the ravages of time. And yet…

Traxis works a metal file over some of the more delicate areas of the gun, sandpaper and steel wool over the rest. She breaks up the rust, oils the moving parts, clears the dirt and debris from the inner workings, teasing the individual pieces apart to get at the inner workings of the shotgun. She could have had one of the weapons smiths in the marketplace refurbish it for her, but she prefers to do her own work. How else can one learn the innermost secrets of a new weapon? How else can one tease out all the history, master all the nuances of weight and balance, and determine blast radius, firing rate, and recoil? How else can one determine the weapon’s true name, the title that is defined by its legacy? No, these are things that can only truly be learned by doing the work yourself. Traxis is a master of her craft, in any event, a product of years of independence and self-reliance, and there are few smiths — within the City or without — who can rival her skill at restoring a weapon to its former glory.

It is a laborious task, and the hours fall away from her as she works. She barely notices. She is a Hunter, and she is well accustomed to the kind of patience necessary to complete time-intensive projects. Eventually, though, some of the weapon’s former luster begins to shine through once more, and Traxis is able to get most of the working parts moving again. With a practiced hand, she disassembles and reassembles the shotgun over and over, noting the places that continue to stick and filing off burs and rust that had gone heretofore undiscovered. When she is done, it will be a finely oiled machine of death — and lethal when held in any Guardian’s hands.

That done, she hefts the shotgun in her arms, pointing it at a far wall. She looks down the holographic sights, powered now by a fresh fuel cell that once nestled inside the scope of an old hand cannon. The cross-hairs are blurry and, using her multi-purpose tool, Traxis turns a couple of dials on the scope, making a few adjustments that snap the image back into sharp focus. She dry-fires the weapon several times, noting its relatively slow firing rate. She already knows the gun fires large shells that deal massive amounts of damage. What she remains uncertain of is which element is most suited to this gun. All exotics infuse elemental damage into every shot fired. She knows of rifles that crackle with lightning, hand cannons that shoot fire, and rocket launchers that incorporate stone shrapnel into their blast damage. She even owns a few of these weapons. They are hard fought for and even more jealously guarded by the Guardians who wield them. Each exotic tells a story of where it’s been, what it’s done, and what a Guardian had to go through to possess it.

She carries the shotgun to another worktable and passes it over several stones, each in turn. These stones, enchanted by one of the City’s Warlocks with a bit of the Traveler’s awesome power, resonate the aura of a different element. They are designed for one purpose — to determine which element a weapon prefers. Traxis stops when one glows a deep shade of blue — and when the barrel of the gun begins to glaze over with a thin layer of frost. The harmonics are nearly perfect, and she nods her head in acknowledgment, satisfied. “Ice, of course,” she murmurs. Her voice is quiet, reverent. Handling one of these weapons is very nearly a religious experience. The gun will require a special gem that permanently imbues the element upon it. She does not own one of these gems herself — it is not usually her preferred element, after all — but it is nothing that a little Glimmer in the right hands can’t resolve.

One task yet remains. She returns to her work station and flips the shotgun over, exposing one last rusted plate set into the bottom of the stock. It is this plate that bears the weapon’s true name. She always leaves this part for last. She will touch the plate only after stripping the weapon down dozens of times, preferring instead to spend time with the weapon, to get a feel for it, and to become familiar with its identity before learning its name. Sometimes she is even able to guess it before this moment arrives. In this case, the rust on the nameplate merely gives her a good excuse to save it for the end.

With a piece of sandpaper and a small brush, she carefully works on the plate until it is shiny and polished. The surface is perfectly smooth and mirror-clear. She runs her thumb along the length of the plate, and the warmth of her skin causes a single word to rise up from the unknowable depths below. Traxis smiles. The name is appropriate, given what she had to go through to acquire it.


About Jim Stitzel

I maintain interests in a wide variety of areas. I am an avid storyteller, specializing in (dark) speculative fiction and webcomics. I am also a professional code wrangler and dabble in amateur photography. My wife and I are first-generation farmers who run a 40-acre farm in central Indiana, where we raise horses, goats, chickens, bees, farm-fresh vegetables, and fruit trees.

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2 Responses to Godshaker

  1. Ragashingo August 7, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    Haha! Very nice. It was neat to see so much attention devoted to one weapon in one room being worked on by one Guardian. The grand battles and adventures are great, but the still, quiet moments can be too as this story clearly demonstrates. :)

  2. Jim Stitzel August 8, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    I was really pleased with the way this story turned out. I didn’t know if I could write an interesting story that was solely about a Guardian working on her weapon, but I knew I wanted to try. This is probably the one I’m the most proud of, and it’s gotten quite a bit of really good feedback.

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