Challenge #00896-B165: Instruments of War

The gentle breeze softly ruffled the hair of the Spine as he lay in the field

[AN: This fic is inspired by Photographic Memories and may contain The Feels]

reached over and picked it up. The fastening clips were still intact. Good. He didn’t like being bare-headed. It made people stare and treat
him like a thing.

The downside to always wearing hair was that he
was not used to putting it on, so it took him three tried to get it
properly aligned. Next, taking stock. His hands were working. Obviously.
His legs were functioning and an internal diagnostic revealed all systems green. His clothing was… well… holding together. That last
round of mortars hadn’t harmed his titanium alloy plating, but his GI
outfit had taken a beating.

The distant sounds of battle filtered
over the sound of wind in the grass. Not gunfire. Metal clashing against
metal? Had he fallen through another portal?

He stood. No. This was still where he started. The gun battle had moved on without him. Now there was another one.

The Spine headed towards it, not bothering to affect his more amenable human-like walk. There was half a chance that none of these fighters
wanted to be his friend, anyway.

It was a swordfight. One set of
uniformed Samurai types against a lone figure in cheaper clothing and
very little armour. The lone figure was holding their own. Barely. He
could tell they were flagging.

Therefore, he did the only thing he
knew he was good at, any more. He rushed in to defend the outnumbered and relatively helpless. He could use his body as a shield. So many
others had.

It was always weird how bullies stopped being bullies
when somebody stronger showed up to help defend their victim. All that
The Spine had to do was toss a few of them at the rest and they all ran

“You idiot,” she screamed in Japanese. “I want one for questioning.”

Well, what a lady wants, a lady gets. His left arm tore the remains of his sleeve as he unfurled his Tesla cannon and took aim at the lead

Zakow. Down like a sack of soggy potatoes. The rest
scattered in all directions, but it wasn’t important. He had the leader.
Or someone who dressed snappily enough to be a leader.

He wished he had a hat to tip for her, but settled on fetching the mook and laying his twitching, moaning form at her feet.

“Ma’am…” he said, also in Japanese. “I do apologise for my surprising entrance. I’m called The Spine. I’m one of Walter Robotics’ fine automaton
products. Will you be needing any further assistance?”

She stared, gape-mouthed at him. “Does that mean you’ll do anything I tell you?”

“Within reason,” he allowed. “If you try to order me to attack a troop of GI’s, I’d have to politely refuse.”

“I don’t care about the GI’s,“ she said, cleaning and sheathing her sword. “I care about ending Wakahisa.”

name was Takenaka Yasu, and she was fighting to reclaim a treasure that Wakahisa had stolen from her family. A treasure that could very well devastate Japan… and then the world. And from what Yasu had to say
about Wakahisa, he was the exact sort who would mishandle an artifact
that had equal potential for good or evil.

He wasn’t just a threat to the Allies. He was a threat to all life. “I’ll help you,” he said.

It’s amazing how small words can start something beautiful.


They’d won. Wakahisa the Immortal was dead.

And Yasu was dying.

He cradled her gently, pressing her ancestral treasure into her lax hands. “Use it,” he urged. “Heal yourself. Please?”

“And become… soulless? Like him?” she shook her head. “No, love. Life must end. That’s why… it’s precious.”

Her breaths slowed. Her heart stopped. And there was nothing he could do.

He was made for war. He was built to kill.

All he was left with were memories. Precise and clear, like photographs.

troop found him, three days later. Still wearing the traditional Japanese garb she had made for him. Sitting under the cherry tree where
he buried her. Staring at the simple symbols he had etched deep into the
marker stone.

Takenaka Yasu. May my memories of love outlast all war.

They didn’t understand. They couldn’t understand. For them the ‘japs’ and the ‘gooks’ were the enemy. All to be universally hated. They couldn’t
fathom how love was literally in his core. About how he could only
pretend to hate.

So he kept quiet. Pretended he had a glitch. Just for a little peace.

It was what they were supposed to be fighting for.

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