And a last minute story from me...
This time, as the knife caressed her throat in a wholly superfluous gesture of threat – who needed to threaten a woman whose life he was allowed to end without even an explanation or anything more strenuous than the push of a button? – Mera did what she had dreamed of the last three years and finally turned the tables on the Commissar. She took him by surprise as he had not expected her to fight back. After all she never had...
This time, though, she grabbed his hand, heaved him back with all her considerable strength, and punched him in the throat with her other hand. Choking, he fell down, but before he could recover or draw his weapon, it was her holding the knife, and she used it well.
Eyes wide, he stared at her, then, in his last moments, he hammered his fist against his chest onto the concealed controlbox he carried there, mouth twitching.
Mera sat back on her haunches, and grinned. “No, Wilson. It will not work.” Frantic, he tried to activate the prisoner’s explosive collar again, but once more, it failed to detonate. The smile did not fade from her face or her eyes, until he had moved his last. By then, every other woman in the cramped, dank dugout behind the pass was awake, staring at her and the body of the man who had been having his way with her since he had been assigned to the ‘bitches’, as he had called their unit.
“Feth you, Mera, you killed us all!”, Janara hissed, keeping her voice down. The gaunt woman attempted to lunge at her fellow prisoner, but two others held her back.
“Silence”, Ennis hissed, at four years of service the ‘veteran’ of 3rd Company, and thus holding a bit of authority over the others. “We need to decide what we will do now.”
Mera calmly rose to her feet, and picked up the Commissar’s bolt pistol and combat knife. “I can tell you what we will do. We will kill the Lieutenant and the Corporals.” Her sunburnt, frost-bitten face was cold and commanding and not even the mangy dog burned onto her forehead didn’t detract from that. There were rumours that Mera had been a General, before a miscarriage of Justice had seen her convicted to the War Dogs. At least, she had always insisted it had been a miscarriage – but then, they all did that.
General or not, her aura of authority was natural and surprisingly easily assumed. “But, but the Collars...”, someone babbled in the dark.
“The Collars are no longer working, or do you think I am stupid?” Mera sighed, then signalled to Ennis and another woman to watch the door. “Remember yesterday? Commissar Dooley died in the Avalanche?” The others nodded. This high in the mountains, avalanches were a constant threat, and the greenskin bombardment of their position, more enthusiastic than accurate, was exacerbating the problem.
“It was me who dug her out. She held the detonator in her hand, and it was crushed. She had pushed it, with enough force to crush it, but obviously, it did not work. I think it is the Mountain, the rock is blocking the transmission or whatever. Point is, they can’t kill us all – and of the five officers and two commissars they sent with us up here, four are already dead, because the avalanches came down on them, rather than the forward positions where we fight. So, will you follow me, or do you want to get shot when they find him?” She pointed towards the dead Commissar, sprawling in an already freezing pool of blood.
The women looked at each other, hesitant. Most of them had not been in the Bitches long, and were still desperate to keep their little bit of life. After all, turnover in the Penal Legions was high... And mutinies were virtually unheard of – the collars guaranteed their good behaviour... Take the collars out of the equation...
Mera eyed them with contempt. 'Come on. Where’s your spine...’ She said nothing, though, because she knew it was a toss up whether they would follow her, or decide to kill her in the hope of warding off punishment from themselves. So she waited. ‘Emperor...’ Not that she felt confident that the Emperor would actually listen to her...
“And what will you do then? If we kill the Lieutenant, what then? We are stuck on this mountain, with a mob of Greenskins on one side, and the Guard on the other. There’s no way off planet for us. We can’t run.” Ennis once again showed that it was her level headedness, more than her absolute viciousness in a fight that had kept her alive for so long.
“What we do then?” A smile stole on Mera’s face. “We hold this pass. We give the fething Greenskins a bloody nose until they kill us. Yes, I’m not going to lie. We will die. We got sent here to die, and that is what will happen. But we will do it on our terms, not on those of some crazy fethheads too incompetent to lead a unit anybody gives a feth about. We can hold this pass long enough so the defenses around the cities will be ready and enough reinforcements have arrived to win this war.”
“You are one crazy bitch”, Janara spat. “If I go rogue, I want to live. Not die up here, with my ass frozen off.” A couple of other women also nodded in agreement.
“Then go. Help me to take over this unit, and everybody who wants to leave is free to do so. I do not think you will have a chance, but I’m not fething Wilson Trent. Run for the valley, if that’s how you want to go. I’ll hold the pass alone, if I have to.” With that, Mera walked towards the door, showing her back to the others, giving them a last chance to make their decision...
From the Minutiae of the Acrotiri Campaign:
--- Posthumous Pardon and Commendation for the 3rd Company of the All female War Dogs Penal Legion, for holding the White Water Pass for over two weeks despite the death of their commanding Officers and Commissars and loss of supplies early on.
Last edited by Liliedhe; 08-27-12 at 03:39 PM.