Tuesday, August 10, 2010

(Fluff) Sacrifices

~Part 2 of "One Bad Day"

Thunder crashed, and the wind howled as Kensin, Rin, Grenor, Yosen, Wit, and the unconscious Elrin hunkered down in the small alcove. They found this alcove just below the ledge they had come to several hours ago, trying to get to the outposts of the now burning city below them. They sat together quietly; all of them wondering what should be done now. They had almost no ammo, they had no food or water, and they had the wounded Specialist Elrin. They had lost their vox with Qase, and so had no way of contacting anyone. They were cut off, deep within enemy lines. The nearest Imperial Outpost is nearly 50 miles away, and their map didn’t even display out to 25.

They didn’t dare light a fire, lest the chaos troopers looking for them saw it. The rain was a blessing in its own right, throwing the searchers off their trail. More thunder crashed outside the entrance as wind and rain beat against the rock face. Kensin knew they had to get down into the town regardless of what they decide to do. They needed supplies and the Chaos cultists couldn’t loot it all. The town lay only another mile away, but that mile could be infested with enemy soldiers, or left over defenses. Kensin looked over to the brooding, shaggy face of his friend Grenor.

“What are you thinking?” Kensin asked.

“Whatever we do, we gotta’ get into that town. Should do it sooner rather than later. If you haven’t noticed, we need a few things.” He said, adjusting the bandage over the burnt and destroyed right side of his face.

“True, well let’s wait for the storm to abate and we will head into town at night.” Kensin said. Grenor nodded along with the other three. Elrin lay there.

The storm finally diminished a short time after nightfall but the clouds persisted. The squad took the opportunity to slip out of their hideout with their Darkvision Visors on. It took them sometime getting Elrin in his stretcher down the last portion of the rock face quietly without dropping him. Moving slowly, they began working their way across the no mans land outside the outposts. Not much seemed to remain of the one they were nearing. It almost appeared that the outposts had exploded. Debris and rocks lay all over the area. This was good as it had detonated the vast majority of the landmines that were in the area.

Crouching behind a massive rock that had landed on a tank trap, Kensin looked ahead, shifting between the night vision and the thermal imager. He was about to head out again when something hot seemed to suddenly appear in his vision. Crouching back down, he waited until he saw the silhouettes of two figures walking casually around the field. After a few seconds two more appeared. It appeared to be a patrol. They didn’t seem to be attentive though.

“The bastards are cocky…” Kensin mumbled, Grenor next to him nodded, looking through his visors.

He turned around and motioned to the other three, gesturing that there was four figures patrolling. Slowly he slung his lasgun back onto his back and drew his sword and a small throwing knife silently. Grenor drew an ancient scimitar, Rin a bayonet, the other two had long knives, Yosen also drawing her throwing knife. Looking back around the rock, Kensin saw the four figures approaching slowly. He held a finger to his lips and gestured, sliding his knife across his throat. He slowly counted from 3…2…1…
Kensin and Yosen swung up from behind the boulder, both blades catching one of the back men with precision tosses into the chest and neck. Grenor’s scimitar opened the chest of the lead soldier, while Rin ran passed him, burying his bayonet in the stomach of the second. The third, finally shaking off his surprise, turned to run. He didn’t get far as Yosens long knife came flying through the air, burying itself in the soldiers back, knocking him to the ground. Pulling a second knife she looked around with the rest of the squad, making sure they hadn’t caused a commotion elsewhere.
Everything stayed quiet. Slowly and silently they retrieved and sheathed their weapons except their primary close combat weapons. They rubbed the black, sooty mud from the ground over their blades to try and diminish the shine of them. Their faces were so dirty that it was unnecessary for them to go any further with the mud. Checking the corpses of the cultists, they found four F49’s, the standard solid shot ranged weapons that the enemy used, and three clips of ammo. Each one took one of the weapons, shouldering them and storing the ammo. Rin, and Wit picked up Elrins stretcher and they continued towards the city, keeping low and moving from crater to crater.
The battle had obviously been bloody for both sides. Bodies littered the field, and the burned out hulks of many vehicles were strewn far and wide. It took them only thirty minutes to reach the rubble remains of the small outer wall. Much of the wall was collapsed. It appeared the chaos forces simply smashed their way through anywhere they could rather than one point. Climbing over the rubble, they entered the ruined, burned city. They could hear small arms every now and then along with the whoops and yells of various chaos units. They moved along the side of a street, following the ruined hab buildings next to it. They were all rubble or burnt out ruins, chaos symbols scrawled in blood on a lot of them. The squad was getting very nervous at the heretical symbols.
The symbols were known to drive some units mad. Kensin did not worry about this, he knew the men here and he knew their will was strong. After searching for almost an hour, and running into no enemy forces, they came across a partially intact structure. Its faded and ruined side showed bright color and a sign used to adorn the side of the 5 story structure. He had a good feeling that this structure used to be a store. They made their way across the street towards it carefully. The door had been knocked off its hinges and laid just inside with a few bodies of Imperial Guardsmen. Their weapons were damaged beyond repair from a blast and they had no ammo left so the squad continued inside, scanning the large room they entered. The room was dark and littered with various articles of trash. The two stretcher bears, put Elrin down near the door, in a pool of shadowy, darkness. Rin stood by him, checking on his wounds.

“I think this was a store, split up and look around carefully, keep in touch.” Kensin said quietly.

With his blade held ready in one hand, and Grenor watching his back, Kensin made his way along the left side of the room. The wall had shelves covering it, various items littered it, mostly pieces of hardware and tools. Items they had no use for. Grenor checked a shelving unit across from the wall, finding much the same. It was not long before the squad met back up at the back of the store, reporting the same thing.

“Didn’t find a thing useful.” They said.

“Yea, same here. I think we found a hardware shop. Lot of good that will do us.” He said, looking around the room.

They all jumped into a battle ready stance as something fell in a back room. Kensin flexed his fingers around the handle of his blade and moved towards a door into the back. It stood partly open, and he eased it the rest of the way. The green glow that his darkvision visors showed the area to be a large storeroom. Boxes were all over the area, many of them torn open, their contents strewn across the floor. His visors also picked up a head and a gun muzzle pointing out from one of the boxes. The enemy obviously thought that they could not bee seen in the darkness, and were keeping still.

Kensin made a show at seeming to be oblivious. He was just glad the enemy had not opened up on them in the door. They were either low or out of ammo like his squad. He looked over to Grenor and gestured towards the hidden enemy, and then a sweeping wave to the back wall, making it seem like he was simply telling his friend to check that side. Grenor got the hint though and nodded.

Grenor split off as the rest moved slowly along the other side of the room, making sure to stay in sight, keeping the enemies attention on themselves. The tension was palpable. He was hoping they were out of ammo and wouldn’t open up in the confines of the storage room, or they would be dead.

The sounds of a scuffle erupted at the far end of the room followed by a loud, obviously female, yell of pain. Kensin walked over to the hideout as his friend bodily threw an individual out onto the floor. The person was small, maybe 5’ even and the Darkvision Visors suddenly had difficulty focusing on them, the individual blending into the floor. Taking them off, he put the blade tip to the person. In the gloom he couldn’t seem much, but he could tell they were garbed in the shifting cameoline material, their form blending in and out of the shadows.

“Get them out into the light, that cameoline is a problem.” Kensin said and Grenor shoved the person out of the door.

Out in the light of ‘lo sticks from the squad it was far easier to see the girl. Garbed mainly in the shifting material, she didn’t have a full set of flak armor, seeming to rely more on the shifting qualities of the rare material to hide them. Her hair was matted to her head from mud and she looked worried. Grenor held her gun in the hand not holding his knife to her throat. The others in the squad stood ready.

“My name is Private Kensin Fole of the 17th Adventus Light Rifles, Imperial Guard. Who are you?” he said.
“Thank the Emperor for you then!” she said, relief washing over her. Grinning she continued, “I am Medic Winnery Cook of the 31st Darmenian Scouts.”

She pulled out her dog tags from under the mud caked shirt she wore and showed them to Kensin. He looked them over and nodded, the rest of the squad relaxing, Grenor lowering his knife from her throat. Sheathing his blade Kensin held out his hand and shook hers.

“Good to see that not everyone’s dead.” Grenor said as Kensin shook the woman’s hand.

“Indeed. With the city burning we doubted any survivors were left, we were trying to find supplies and get to the docks.” Kensin said with a nod to Grenor.

“Well, I had no idea what I was going to do. As far as I know, I am the only survivor from my unit. I was knocked out when a Leman Russ Battle Tank exploded near me. When I woke up it was twilight. I figured I would make it into the city and regroup. Well, to my surprise everyone was dead so I hid in that room.” Winnery said, pointing to the back room.

“Do you have any supplies of some kind? Food? Ammunition? Water?” Kensin asked.

“Oh! Well, I do have 5 clips for a Standard Pattern Lasgun!” Winnery said, unshouldering the pack that hid under her cloak, and fished out five clips. Looking up, she saw the surprise and confusion on their faces.

“Why were you sitting on five full clips? You could have wasted us at that doorway!” Wit exclaimed, taking a clip and loading his lasgun.

“You want to know why I am a medic?” Winnery asked. “It’s because I was beginning to patch the wounds on my own unit from friendly fire, more than enemy fire, normally back wounds.”

“I don’t….ooooohhh…” Wit said.

“Well, probably a good idea to take that ammo then.” Grenor said, taking the offered clip.

“Yea, I never could hit the broad side of a hab building if my life depended on it.” She said, looking down in embarrassment.

The squad took a quick rest and got to know their new member, and learned what had happened to the city. The cultists had somehow gotten into the city and terrorized the populace, taking the focus from the outposts into the city. That’s when they launched their attack. Fast and brutal they swept through the defenses as the defenders focused on the uprising in the streets. The fight lasted mere hours. The Governors Palace in the center of the city was surrounded and Winnery did not know if it was taken or not. She believed that a lot of supplies still lay in some of the barracks around the city though, and one of them wasn’t more than a few blocks away.
Shouldering their limited supplies and packs, they set out for the barracks, now with some ammo for their lasguns they held them ready, bayonets fixed. The squad made their way carefully along the street, moving from building corner or wreckage to building corner and wreckage. Several cultists ran across streets ahead of them, but they held their fire. They preferred stealth now over taking out possible threats, they didn’t have the ammo, or intelligence to go into a possibly drawn out fire fight.

As they neared the barracks, a scream made them suddenly scramble for cover. The scream echoed again, coming from a nearby hab complex. The squad looked to each other and nodded. Again, they hid Elrin in a nearby, dark alleyway. Wit and Rin sat near him for protection as the rest of the squad made their way across the street into the hab complex. Several more screams emanated from a building with its doors blown in. Setting their lasguns to their shoulders and crouching down, moving slowly, they moved into the building. Yosen suddenly slipped, almost falling over before Grenor caught her. Looking down, they saw the floor covered with blood, newly skinned skulls littering the area. Ahead of them, light emanated from the top of a spiral staircase.

The squad moved forward, lasguns ready. Their foot steps silent on the steps as they ascended towards the light. The stairs opened to a hallway lit by torches, set either side of a door to the left. Making their way to it, Kensin took his Darkvision visors off and quickly peaked inside. What he saw almost made him wretch.

Turning back to the squad, he held up 4 fingers, and then 1, gesturing full armor. Listening they heard the heavy boot steps of power armor. Yosen and Winnery looked suddenly very worried. Grenor unshouldered his damaged longlas and turned the power up completely. This would likely destroy the weapon, but it was the only thing on hand that could cut through power armor and Grenor knew it. Kensin counted down, on three Grenor swung into the door frame, and a great, long howling whine of energy and solid red beam emitted from the long las, punching straight into the back power supply of the Chaos Marine standing there, and punching through it. With a loud boom and crash, the power cells in the pack of the power armor exploded, and the marine fell down with a heavy crash to the floor, the rest of the squad stormed into the room, lasguns cracking, the red bolts punching into the cultists before they could recover.

The barrel of Grenor’s longlas was warped out of shape, and steam emanated from chambers. Dropping it, Grenor drew his lasgun. The squad now had its first sight of the room. In the center of the room was a great symbol of chaos. And splayed out over it was a man, or formerly a man. His chest had been peeled open, his skin pined down and his organs on display. Another two people were pined to the walls with iron spikes through their hands and ankles, their moans of pain breaking the silence. Around the room, about ten or so others were chained up, awaiting the same treatment. They were beaten and bruised, and some were obviously dead. A few others looked on at the Guardsmen holding their hands out for freedom.

The unit was horrified at the sight. They went to work immediately doing what their training with the Inquisitor Krugor told them to do. They threw debris over the circle and body, messing up the lines and symbols. Secondly they took one of the torches and burned the symbols on the walls. The prisoners watched on in curiosity. Winnery watched this with some curiosity too. She tried to help by beginning to work on the prisoners wounds.

“Stop what you are doing Medic. That is not necessary.” Grenor said. Yosen and Kensin looked over and nodded.

“Why?” Winnery asked, confused and standing up.

Grenor walked over and shot the prisoner she had been working on, a red bolt of energy blazed right through their head with a loud crack. The prisoner collapsed. Kensin and Yosen continued working on the symbols. Winnery looked horrified.

“They could have the taint of Chaos after all this, they can’t live.” Grenor said, pulling his knife out and shouldering his rifle.

“You’re mad!” Winnery yelled, still in a state of surprise.

Grenor went along the line of prisoners. For those conscious and screaming in terror, he held a hand over their eyes, plunging his knife into their heart. After Kensin and Yosen finished destroying the symbols, they helped Grenor finish off the rest while Winnery stood their, horrified. After they were done, the three troopers stood in the room, and uttered a prayer they had been taught loudly and clearly while Grenor took the Aquila symbol from around his neck and laid it in the middle of the room, reciting another litany.

“Why did you do that? That was horrible! You people are no better than the Inquisition!” Winnery yelled as they left.

Grenor turned, his fist smashing into the face of the Medic, sending her sprawling onto the ground; the older mans face grim and dark.

“What we did was necessary to save their souls.” He said, slowly and quietly.

Winnery held her nose in pain as she got up.

“The taint of Chaos is a disease. It spreads like one, and it’s infectious like one. If those people would have lived, they would have been damned, their souls going to the dark gods, or turning them into monsters. You can’t see the things that they saw and stay sane. That’s why those…rituals…” Grenor spat at the last word, “take place.”

Finished, Grenor turned and stormed off across the street. Kensin handed Winnery a cleaner than the rest handkerchief that she took and held to her nose.

“You must realize, we hunt the forces of Chaos. We don’t fight many other enemies. What we know, and have learned, we have learned at the expense of our comrades and friends lives. We are cold. We know this. But that’s just the way of things.” Kensin said before following his friend.

“Then why did you save me?” Winnery asked.

“We needed you. You’ll probably be executed when we get out of this, or worse.” Yosen said as she walked away. Winnery stood their stupefied.

Kensin turned and gestured to her to come.

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