~Part 3, and conclusion of story arch.
The squad moved quickly from the ritual site, making their way along the street. The sky in the horizon was beginning to glow with the rising sun. Kensin worried the streets may become crowded with chaos soldiers soon, and more looting will happen from the enemy forces, leading to their discovery. As they arrived at the barracks, they found it crowded with cultists, fighting with each other over the contents. Cries of pain and laughter mixed as the rabid horde fought for everything they wanted. Kensin and the others watched for a short time before sneaking into a ruined house close by and baring the door just as the suns rays shone onto the street.
The squad collapsed in exhaustion around the main room of the hab. Elrin awoke with a groan of pain, as Rin checked on his wounds. The rest did what they could to get some food and water, but they were all running dangerously low on supplies. Most had opted to using the cultists solid shot weapons to save their las ammo. Kensin walked over to Grenor who sat slouched by a window, keeping watch on the street.
“We aren’t making very good time. The harbor is only a couple miles from the entrance of the city and we barely covered half that today. If we don’t get there tomorrow, I don’t think we will be getting out of this-“, the loud reverberation of engines suddenly cut Kensin off, and both men ducked down. The squad behind him immediately went into battle ready stances.
Over head, a horrible abomination of an aircraft drifted lazily into view. Covered in spikes, and red plate metal, it resembled a mutated Valkyrie, bristling with weapons. Bodies in various forms of decay adorned it, with symbols of chaos scrawled all across the hull. It hovered above the barracks for a short time before suddenly speeding away towards the center of the city.
“I highly doubt we will get out of here regardless of provisions.” Grenor said coldly, checking his weapon as he set up.
Kensin simply nodded and went back into the room to open one of his rations. As he sat eating, he took a quick check on his unit. Yosen was asleep in the corner, proped against a wall, her lasgun resting up against her shoulder, Rin was busy tending to Elrin’s bandages as the wounded man tried to keep as quiet as he could. The new member, Winnery was helping Rin with her dwindling medical supplies, her shifting cloak making Kensins eyes hurt trying to focus on her. Wit sat near the door, eating quietly. He had become extremely aloof since entering the city which worried him. He decided to check on the private.
“Wit, how are your supplies holding up?” Kensin asked.
“I’ve got enough.” Wit said, still watching the door as he ate.
“You haven’t said much since we entered the city, everything alright?”
“Everythings as fine as being stuck in a city full of cultists can be Kensin.”
The last remark came out rather coldly, and Kensin could almost feel the man glaring at the door. He decided he should keep an eye on this man. In their current situation he could turn into a liability if he lets his emotions take control. He nodded and walked back to where he had been sitting.
Several hours later, Kensin startled as Grenor shook him awake.
“Hey buddy, you’re up for watch.” Grenor said, as he slunk down along the wall, resting his gun against his shoulder and pulling out a cigar, he offered one to Kensin who took it.
“I’ve never had one of these things, but if the Emperor decided it’s our time in a few, well…gotta try it.” He said, putting it between his teeth. Grenor lit both with a match and they sat there, smoking. It was much smoother than Kensin thought it would be, and the taste wasn’t bad.
He slowly rose and stretched, picking up his lasgun and taking his place near the window. It looked to be mid-afternoon and the street was strangely empty.
“I think they are all busy at the palace.” Grenor said, reading his mind.
The grizzled specialist leaned back against the wall, closing his eye, puffing on the cigar.
“Let’s hope they stay there for a while longer.” Kensin replied looking off towards where the palace was.
Sporadic sounds of gunfire could be heard, echoing from the city as he sat there. A couple animals crossed the street below, probably looking for their dead masters, or maybe just trying to get away from the chaos. Smoke billowed up around the city, and Kensin wondered if the planetary forces would decide to try and retake this place. He doubted it. There was very little strategic importance of this area; all the factories were further north and east.
As the sun began to set Kensin stood up and began rousing the remnants of the squad. They quietly set about checking their equipment and supplies before packing it away. As nightfall began to settle in, they moved silently from the hab building, trying to act like shadows as they headed towards the barracks.
Dark and disheveled, the barracks looked to have been completely pillaged. Turning on Darkvision Visors, the unit moved in silently, carefully scanning the rooms. Several bodies could be seen splayed on the ground or on their bunks, their supplies and weapons stripped. The unit moved from room to room, checking for supplies of any kind, but it appeared that the cultists seemed to have stripped the barracks clean.
Fallen behind some boxes, though, in the last room, Winnery uncovered a working vox-caster. Having some minor training in the equipment, the sullen Wit slung it up onto his back. The squad also found a small shipping crate of field rations. They quickly filled their packs up and made back for the door.
Suddenly activity at the door sent the squad scurrying for cover. Kensin and Grenor set next to each other, peaking over an upturned box towards the door. They saw cultists milling about outside it. Gesturing, Grenor told them to hold fire and to ready themselves. Slowly and silently they readied and trained their weapons on the door way. Seconds began to crawl by like hours as they waited, with bated breath for the cultist’s next move.
The cultists began shouting, and hooting, waving their weapons in the air. No one in the squad could understand the garbled speech, but the tension they felt was beginning to become heavy. Then, the cultists began to move away, obviously cheering about something.
That’s when Rin accidentally hit the table he had been hiding near, knocking an empty can off. The metallic sound echoing out of the barracks. The cheering suddenly stopped and the chaos soldiers came to the door way looking in. Fire erupted through the portal as the squad opened fire. Grenor quickly tossed his last grenade, and with a crunch several cultists fell back away from the door.
Kensin knew they were in a bad position. If the enemy threw one explosive inside, they were done for. Drawing his ancient blade, he stood and waved it forward.
“For Advent!” the cry came as he drew his blade, almost spontaneously from the squad.
Quickly drawing their weapons in response to this cry, they charged for the door. Kensin held his blade in both hands, dropping the solid shot gun he had been using. His revolver was useless, being out of ammo. With a cry of rage, and prayer to the emperor, he shoulder checked the first trooper, knocking him back and to the ground, and cutting open the abdomen of one of its grotesque comrades. Grenor, using his short sword, quickly stabbed at several around him. Taken by complete surprise from the charge, the chaos troops fell back before the squads blades.
It was over in a matter of seconds. Yosen shot down two cultists, who fled down a street, and Grenor stabbed one of the fallen enemies, Winnery was dislodging her bayonet from the spine of another. Looking around, Kensin counted twelve bodies of the enemy troopers. Six had their faces and upper torsos riddled with bullet holes, while the last six had sword and knife wounds. Quickly whipping and sheathing his blade he took what he could see from the enemy quickly, ammo, and grenades, and gestured for the squad to quickly follow. It will not take long for enemy troops to come investigate the fire fight.
The squad moved quickly down the side of the street, again heading for the harbor. They were able to make great distance luckily enough, not running into any patrols in the last stretch towards the harbor. The streets were bathed in the darkness of night. This luck did not hold out though as they came within sight of the wharf gates. A squad of chaos troops and a chimera sat in the middle of the road, a few road lights hitched up with generators illuminated their area.
“Well how are we supposed to get past that beast?” Yosen asked, exasperated at the situation.
“I have no idea.” Kensin replied simply, looking at the guards.
After an hour of debate, and brainstorming, the squad finally came up with a plan. Moving away from the road, they checked to see if the wharf had any holes in the wall around it. Unfortunately, the wall was twenty feet high, and almost three feet thick, and holes could not be found. Moving back towards the gates, Winnery saw an opening.
“Wait. Look over there!” she said to Kensin and Grenor.
Both the men looked to where she was pointing and saw after a few seconds what she was pointing at. The enemy had secured cargo to the back of the chimera, and among that cargo was a demolition charge. To compound their soon to be problem, none of them were paying particular attention towards the direction the squad was moving from. Kensin and Grenor both grinned at each other.
“Not-damn!” Kensin swore.
Handing his pack and rifle to Grenor, and borrowing Winnery’s shifting cameo-line cloak, he made his way towards the tank at a crouch. Drawing his bayonet, he hunkered down on the other side of a ruined wall, amid pools of shadows cast by the lights, and studied the area. About twenty chaos cultists stood around talking and eating, while one man sat on top of the chimera’s hatch. None seemed particularly aware of the direction from which Kensin was coming, which was cast in low illumination. Taking a few deep breathes, Kensin crouch and moved quickly out from his cover. He covered the ten feet in a second, and flattened himself against the tank, his knife against his chest as he looked around him. Directly above and to his right, the demo charge half hanged from the gear pilled up. Reaching up to what he thought was the demo charges det-cord, he readied himself. Another deep breath, he yanked the det-cord and bolted for the wall, diving behind it.
That’s when he noticed the weight on the cord he ran with. The demolition charged hanged from the end of it, almost taunting him with the safety pin holding the line in place. He almost gave himself away with his swearing. Pulling the pin out, he yanked the cord free and quickly sent the pack skidding under the chimera, and ran. He went 10 feet before the squad made it too him, Rin hauling Elrin on his back, the stretcher obviously being left behind, and they fell to the ground as the charge went off, sending debris all around them. They wasted no time in jumping to their feet and sprinting for the gate. They made it in under the cover of dust and smoke, immediately crouching behind an adjacent building. Watching the carnage, they saw numerous enemy soldiers running for the gate. Finding an open window they slipped into the small office building and took cover, moving slowly along the floor. Making it to the front door, they came to a problem. A large area of open ground sat between them and the docks, almost 90 yards across, with only partial cover from various shipping crates.
“We don’t have time for a plan, just run for it!” Elrin yelled with some pain.
“He’s right, we don’t have a choice. If you’re the praying type, I might suggest you start!” Grenor yelled, and on the last word jumped through the door and began running.
The squad quickly followed behind him, running as fast as they could. They made it half way before attention turned from the gate and yells and shouts of surprise could be heard, quickly followed by the whizzing of bullets.
Bullets could be heard ricocheting off the shipping crates and flying through the air. Making it onto the docks, the group quickly decided upon a ship when Grenor jumped onto the deck of a small cutter. Yosen followed and clambered her way into the ship, her lasgun tearing through the lock on the bridge. Kensin quickly helped Winnery and Rin aboard with Elrin. Shots could be heard zipping through the air and bouncing off the ship. Suddenly a loud crunch announced a grenade exploding on the dock. Another followed shortly after. Grenade launchers, thought Kensin. He crawled to the front of the boat and joined Grenor who was firing into the approaching group of traitors. The two took careful aim and began to open fire. It wasn’t long though before aiming became a liability. Laying there with the prow offering some cover they opened up as best they could, clipping and punching through the cultists thin armor. They continued coming though, and more were joining the group.
“Yosen! Hurry up!” Kensin yelled, only to be silenced by the sudden roar of the engines turning over.
The boat began to back from the dock, but stopped with a jerk, sending Grenor and Kensin sliding back from the prow.
“By the Emperor! Did we hit something?” Grenor yelled.
Kensin looked back behind the boat, ducking suddenly as a bullet whizzed by his face.
“Damn!” he exclaimed as he saw the cause of the hang up, the boat was tied to the dock.
Leaping over Grenor as he shot, Kensin quickly drew his sword and cut into the ropes, sawing them away quickly. With the boat free, it jerked back out into the bay, sending Kensin flipping over the side. He barely had time to catch the rail before hitting the water. Bullets zipped by him, and ricocheted off the hull.
“Grenor! Pull me up! Pull me up!” he yelled.
The man quickly leaned over and grabbed Kensins free hand, dragging him over the rail. The two collapsed behind the bulwark, breathing heavily as the yacht turned and growled, picking up speed as it went out of the harbor. Finally, his breath caught, Kensin stood and went to the bridge cabin. Wires dangled free from under the power controls, and Yosen was busy using the wheel, not too busy to give a knowing wink though. Wit was in the corner, busily trying to work the vox. The two nodded to Kensin before he left and went to the back of the boat where Elrin lay on the deck, Rin and Winnery close by, relaxing.
“Who woulda thought we could spend our mission out on the deep blue ocean, under a full moon huh? Man this is like vacation.” Elrin said with a cheeky, yet pained grin.
“Yea it’s beautiful.” Kensin said looking at the murky waters, and cloudy sky.
He heard the sound of Wit talking into the vox from the cabin and breathed a sigh of relief. They finally made it out, and they lived. Wit was reporting their situation, direction, and area as Kensin returned to the prow of the yacht where Grenor sat relaxing, smoking a cigar. He sat down next to the grizzled man and nudged him with an elbow.
“Got another one of those?” he asked.
“Got a whole bunch, that hab building we stayed in had a large pack. Must have been a well to do family, these aren’t cheapos.” Grenor said around the cigar, offering one to Kensin who took it and using his knife cut the tip.
“Got a light too?” Kensin asked.
“Nope.” He said, in a matter of fact tone.
Grenor didn’t reply, he simply bent down and relit his cigar on the still burning rocket of a missile, embedded about a foot from his side.
“Think we should prolly get rid of that?” Kensin asked, with a raised eyebrow.
“I’ve learned not to press the Emperors own luck on these kinda things. Simply look at em like a gift and move on.” Grenor said, lighting Kensins cigar and handing it back.
“I’m pretty sure after this, we’ve use up all our reserve pool of luck.” The younger private said, sitting back and looking at the clouds.
“Lad, we didn’t have luck. The Emperor simply found something interesting and amusing to watch.”