Kensin looked down into the newly drained well one more time, apprehensively. He could only see about five to eight feet down and then darkness. He nervously checked his Assault Shotgun for what seemed like the one hundredth time as Private Grenor tied off his harness to the tripod mounted pulley system over the hole. With one last tug to check the harness he backed away. Kensin was stripped of his shoulder armor so he could more easily fit into the hole, and simply had his chest armor and black fatigues. His lo’ stick was taped to his helmet and his long knife was sheathed loosely at his side.
“Alright Private, your objective is simple. Get down there and head due south as far as the rope will take you, that should be about 100 feet give or take. Determine if we could safely blow the hole bigger and if the tunnel is large enough for us to move through, this plan may change. Understood?” Sergeant Klaine said, looking down the hole.
“Yea Sarge. Got it.” Kensin said as he moved to begin descent.
“Good. Don’t go getting yourself killed now trooper, anything happens, just yell over the vox-bead, and we will pull you up quick. You have 4 flare rounds for your shotgun in case your light goes out. Emperor protects.” The sergeant said as she moved back to allow Kensin down.
“Emperor protects.” Kensin echoed, touching his steel Aquila to his forehead, and then hanging onto the rope as it is lowered, with him, into the darkness.
The dark almost immediately engulfed him and he clicked on his lo’ stick, the light piercing the darkness downwards like a spear. He was lowered another 20 feet until everything seemed to fall away and he found himself in a massive tunnel, almost 30 feet from the floor, and 60 feet across. The air was dry, and dusty, and he saw a small pool of water below him. He came down with a light splash as he was lowered, sinking up to his chest. It appeared that a spring had welled up into the ancient cavern.
With a heave he pulled himself up and out of the water and sat on the edge of the pool of water, shaking himself off and checking his equipment. His vox-bead crackled as a voice tried to come through. After tapping it a few times Klaine’s voice broke through.
“Private, report.” She said.
“Wet Sarge. I found the well, it appears a spring welled up down here, pretty deep, I just got myself out of it, gimme a minute ma’am.” Kensin turned and picked up his shotgun, while standing up.
Setting the shotgun into his shoulder he looked around the area. The remains of what looked like a road stretched off into the darkness. Over time areas of the ceiling and wall had caved in onto the road, but it was surprisingly clear. Dirt covered much of it, but some of the old lights poked through the middle of the road.
“Sarge, it looks like an old highway tunnel, pretty big.” Kensin said over the vox-bead as he began moving south along the road.
“Alright, stay in touch, I am going to send Corporal Lomec and Private Grenor with you to scout out a bit more, send up the rope.”
“Aye, ma’am.” Kensin said as he pulled the quick release and the rope slithered back up the hole.
Kensin looked around for a few minutes before the bulky figure of Corporal Lomec splashed down into the pool of water. The Corporal gave off some unintelligible curses as he heaved himself out. Shaking off the water, he pulled the quick release and the rope slithered back up the hole again. Lomec walked over to Kensin, his bulk dwarfing the small private.
“Private, anything new?” Corporal Lomec asked, resting his shotgun on his shoulder as he looked around.
“I found a hole sir. “ Kensin replied snidely.
“Well good job private, glad we found a use for you. Emperor be damned, it’s hotter than the Ferelen Salt Flats down here.” Lomec said as he pulled off his torso armor and shirt.
The Corporal was a massive man, and many regarded him as the strongest in the company next to Gunnery Sergeant Phas “Rock” Harker. Kensin didn’t doubt that as the Corporal hefted the shotgun again, as if it was no more than a laspistol, swinging it back up onto his shoulder. With a loud splash, they heard the arrival of Private Grenor. Without any comments Grenor pulled himself up out of the water, checked his shotgun and walked over to the two soldiers, hitting the ropes quick release. Grenor was a stealth specialist of the squad, and was usually the one picked for missions like this, he was a quiet man who kept much to himself. Kensin had no idea why he wasn’t the first choice. Kensin was a Tunnel Greg though back on Adventus, a man who ran the subterranean labyrinth that had spread underneath the worlds crust. Named after the odd wolf like creatures that roamed those tunnels, preying on the unsuspecting. Without any other words, Lomec nodded and turned, beginning to head south through the rock and rubble strewn tunnel.
The three made it about 200 feet before Lomec ordered them to stop. The large man wiped his dust caked face free of dirt and sweat as he looked around at the large room they had just come too. Easily 100 meters in diameter, it was massive, the roof supported by one thick rock pillar in the middle. It was strewn with rocks, and what may have been ancient machines from many years ago, crushed by the rocks. The room had 4 off shoots, including the one they had just walked through.
“Kensin, report this back to the Sarge.” Lomec said as he began slowly walking into the room, looking around.
“Yes sir.” Kensin began keying in his vox-bead, tuning it until finally his voice could mostly break through the static, as he reported what they found.
“Very good private, tell Lomec that he should return to the surface immediately and we can start planning.” Klaine’s voice says over the vox-bead.
“Aye ma’am. Lomec! Were ordered-“Kinsen suddenly stopped as he heard scratching and skittering behind them, quickly swinging around on his feet, and training the shotgun down the tunnel.
“What was that private?” Lomec asked as he came back to the two troopers.
“Sir, I heard something behind us.” Kensin whispered to Lomec and Grenor as he brings up his shotgun, looking down the tunnel.
The blackness closed in on the three, but the lo’sticks shinning down the tunnel pushed it back far, the large rocks and rubble casting deep shadows. Slowly and purposely Lomec moved up as the other two made it to covering positions. The corporals massive form casting a long shadow before him, his skin glistening from the sweat as he moved up, his shotgun at the ready. He made it almost 30 feet when Kensin suddenly saw a shape launch at the Corporal and with a loud thunderclap, the Corporals shotgun fired, bathing the area in light for a split second as the creature that attacked him was thrown back into the darkness.
“Were going this way now troopers!” Lomec yelled quickly as he turned and ran passed, moving far quicker than his massive form made it seem like he could.
“Sir?!” Grenor asked as he turns and runs with Lomec, Kensin quickly following.
“Mutants, a lot of Emperor be damned mutants on our tail, now shut up and run!” Lomec yelled as he suddenly stopped, turned, aimed at one of the massive shapes, and lit up the tunnel with the lightning and thunder crack of his shotgun again, before he turned and continued running.
Kensin and Grenor quickly followed his example, taking turns to turn and blast at the shapes. After a minute they had no idea whether they were actually hitting the mutants or not, but the mutants did not seem to be gaining. Up ahead they saw a pinprick of light. Lomec turned and fired a flare down the tunnel, the bright light revealing upwards of 30 mutants, probably more, chasing after them, their twisted forms making them look like primeval beasts from a nightmare. All three troopers turned and let off two rounds down the tunnel, several mutants falling back as blood blossomed from them.
“Kensin! Tell Klaine to get a bird in the air! We are under attack and need immediate evac! Tell her to look for our flares!” Lomec yelled over the roaring of the mutants that began to echo down the tunnel.
“Yes sir!” yelled Kensin as he began keying in the vox-bead and yelling what Lomec told him to, hoping the Sergeant got it.
After several minutes they came suddenly to the end of the tunnel that opened on a cliff face looking down onto a canyon, with nearly 200 feet between them and the ground and almost 50 feet to the top edge of the cliff face.
“It looks like the Emperors too busy to save our sorry souls today.” Lomec said as he looked over the edge.
“What’s the plan sir?” Grenor asked as he turned and faced the mutants, his shotgun ready.
“I say we stick with Plan B.” Lomec said.
“Sir? Whats plan B?” Kensin asked.
“Plan B is we fill the enemy with as much of the Emperors own love as we can and hope he notices.” Lomec said with a grin as he stepped towards the edge of the drop off and aimed for the sky. With a bright blast of light, and a thick cloud of smoke, his flare shot up into the sky, as he turned and reloaded his shotgun.
“Ok boys, let’s play and see what the Emperor has in store for us.” The Corporal says, sliding the last round into the chamber.
The echoes of the mutants washed over them as the creatures bore down. As the mutants entered the light spilling in from outside, the three guardsmen opened up. Their shotguns blasted like cannons, catching the unarmored mutants in the chest, tearing off limbs with blossoms of blood, and shrieks of pain. While the shotguns took a dire toll on the beasts, it wasn’t entirely enough as the mutants pressed forward.
“Recon Team Alpha, take cover for close air support in 5 seconds, we have you in our sights.” Kensins’ vox-bead suddenly crackled.
“Uh oh. TAKE COVER! AIRSTRIKE!” Kensin screamed to Lomec and Grenor.
“Damned if the Emperor doesn’t have a sense of humor towards my plans!” Lomec cursed as he looked around.
“Where do we take cover?!” the Corporal yelled as he opened a mutants chest.
Kensin looked around but the area was sparse, and no cover was visible.
“Oh sod this. JUMP!” Kensin yelled as he jumped, grabbing for a lower ledge.
Grenor and Lomec quickly followed just before the shrieks of high explosive rockets screamed into the tunnel above. Fire rolled out over them, washing them in heat and debris as the ledge shook, almost knocking them loose, the cry of a valkyries engines screamed overhead. In the sky above, one of the company’s valkyries banked around the canyon. The three guardsmen looked at each other and crawled back up to the tunnel. Standing up they could see the carnage the attack transport left behind. The mutants were decimated. Kensin thought he saw a few running back into the tunnels but wasn’t sure. Turning around to the sound of screaming VTOL jets, Kensin saw the rest of the squad, lasguns at the ready aiming out of the back hatch of the transport as it stood wide open.
“Gettin’ yourselves in trouble again?” Klaine said over the vox-bead so she could be heard over the scream of the engines.
“Just having a little sport is all ma’am. As to our objective, we have indeed found out the tunnels are not safe. Mind giving us a lift?” Lomec replied with a grin.