Just a short start. Not sure when I'll have time to update, but it may be a while. Enjoy.
1 - REARGUARD
Orlais noticed the bird as it tentatively tiptoed across the rock five yards in front of her. It was small but beautifully coloured. It's wings were turquoise, blending into a seamless blue across it's body up to a fiery orange beak that curved at the tip towards the ground. It's eyes were wide and red, with black irises that took in Orlais Montague in all her dirty splendour as she crouched back up against a rock.
It seemed as though they'd been waiting forever, waiting for the call to strike. It was making her edgy. Orlais watched the bird startle into flight as her teammate threw a rock at it.
“You missed,” she said, her face stern as she turned back
round to face the road fifty paces below.
“You think I was aiming for the bird? Why is it you always think the worst of me?”
Orlais turned to the man by her side. He was tall and lean, handsome in the classical way, clean-shaven despite the conditions of their circumstances, out in the thick, the slicks, the bad-ass mountains of Bejou.
“You forget I know you, Enrich,” said Orlais.
She peered down the rubble strewn path and across towards the opposite slopes. Between the grey, green boulders and thick fir trees, her unit was pretty well covered. Twenty-two men and women, ready to buy the rest of their fleeing friends some much needed time.
“And here I was being all brave and stuff.”
“You tried to kill a bird.”
“There's obviously no way I'm going to win this, is there? For your information my goal was simply to startle it. Had I wanted to brain it, perhaps take it back to camp to cook and eat, well I would have hit it!”
“Sure thing, bullseye,” said Orlais.
Then she heard them, marching, stomping the ground. They emerged round the bend like a black tide bristling with weapons. She could see lots of guard issue equipment among them, mostly lasguns and autoguns, but she could see some wielded heavier weaponry, while between the columns of infantry rolled tanks, with large turrets and mounted gunners at the top. Orlais gripped her lasgun tightly.
“Ready up. Pick your targets. Make them count.”
She knew she didn't have to say it, but it had been instinct, drilled into by the Territorial Militia instructors of Panon Twilight.
She looked along the iron-sight and picked her first target, a broad shouldered man in black fatigues, his face covered in blood, which he had smeared over his lips. The man was training a large boltgun above the tank turret, eyeing the slopes.
Orlais knew the tank busters Awen and Laoin would be targeting the tanks. She prayed they did not miss.
She couldn't hear the birds, only the stomping feet and rolling treads of the heavy vehicles. Fifty infantry and two tanks. It would be a lot to ask to win it, but Orlais was known for being a determined bitch. She even revelled in beating the odds, and it didn't come much bigger than this. Today was life and death.
She held her breath, then breathed out slowly as she squeezed the trigger. A hail of lancing red lines struck the invading chaos forces, smashing into flesh and dropping dozens.
Grenades dived from thrown arches, landing amidst the shaken foe like discarded balls. Seven explosions rocked the tight valley road, razor shrapnel tearing through bodies, opening them like ripe fruit, sending bodies flying in the air, smoke fanning out like white mist.
The enemy fired back, breaking ranks, skirmishing. Orlais ducked as a clatter of fire struck the rocks by her head. She heard a scream to her right and saw that one of her team was down, clutching at his throat.
“Doctor!” shouted Orlais, her voice loud despite the echoing cacophony that rippled across the valley.
Orlais squeezed her trigger again, dropping an officer in the face whose arms flapped like bird wings as he tumbled to the ground. She heard the click-whizz of the missile launcher, then heard a roar as a missile shot at the tank, a heavy white cloud following it's trajectory like a jet in a blue sky. The missile struck it dead-on, the explosion tearing off its side like a tin can, exposing bloodied crew within. A hail of shots thundered down the slopes as Laroux opened fire with her heavy stubber. She could see the stocky woman held the weapon in her hands, one hand firmly locked around the fore-grip, the other squeezing the trigger of the heavy weapon. She rattled from the kick of the weapon but held steady, guiding her aim from the slope across the exposed ground below.
She noticed that Doctor Hakspear had managed to find a route to the injured party, but it did not look good. Orlais ducked fire as she raced towards the Doctor who had dragged the wounded party behind the cover of a large boulder. Orlais slid down, the ground behind her slapping with shots, burning with las fire.
Hakspear couldn't save the man, it was evident from the savage wound that had torn apart the man's throat. It was Dougen, the school teacher – what was it now, yes, music, classical music. The man held his throat, bleeding profusely, the blood streaming between his own fingers. His eyes were wide open with horror. Orlais felt even angrier, and she already thought she was pretty mad, than usual. The Doctor shook his head and closed Dougen's eyes. The teacher had stopped thrashing having bled to death.
“Well, I'd mark the time of death, but I haven't seen the time for about a day now. It's almost liberating not wearing it.” He smiled broadly as he wiped his hands on a cloth he discarded quickly.
Orlais found the Doctor spooky, he looked the creepy villain, with a dangerous dark stare. He often seemed to enjoy working around death. She often wondered what he did before being a Doctor, and joining her Unit, the Razors. Some kind of bio-assassin, some sick, twisted torturer employed by the gangs of the City.
War was grim, thought Orlais. Why the hell did this have to happen to us. Why not some other planet? Somebody else. It wasn't a nice thought, but after all the pain and suffering, she felt entitled to it. Maybe it was a sentiment shared by everyone, but she didn't voice it.
More explosions rocked the valley, screams flying through the air along with deadly shrapnel.
Orlais turned back to face the enemy. Some had found cover behind rock and tree, pushing up on the opposite flank, forcing her troops back across the slopes.
Heavy fired rained from the remaining tank, it's treads smoking ruins, it's turret barking fire straight at her men. The boom echoed, smoke engulfed the turret and Orlais ducked as the missile screamed overhead, landing fifteen metres above, right into two of her men huddled, sniping from a parapet of stone. They were launched into the air like ragdolls, spinning back with the force.
The turret began to rain metal across the slopes, pinning the Razors down as the enemy infantry advanced up the slopes. Confident behind the wailing heavy boltgun.
Orlais grinned and shouted.
A young boy, not much older than ten, pushed the button on a pad he held in his arms from the cover of a thick tree stump. A series of thundering explosions lit up like smoking geysers across the slopes, halting the enemy advance, dropping several as the Razors retreated further up the slopes. The boy took a look at his handy worked with wide eyes, then dashed off to safety to the rear. Orlais turned round to fire and felt a bullet strike her in the chest, flinging her backwards to the ground.
She couldn't breath, but she could see, gasping as Enrich hoisted her to her feet and dragged her to cover behind solid rock.
“You're okay,” he shouted. “Kevlar stopped the bullets cold. Five little bastards.”
He grinned maniacally at her as she felt across her chest, feeling the embedded bullets.
“Lucky bitch,” he said.
She slapped him hard, smiled at him then resumed the fight, firing from the rocks, her shots knocking men off their feet with force.
The Razors were winning, she could sense it through the smoke filled haze, from the savagery of their initial strike. The mines had done nasty work too. The enemy boltgun had ceased fire and she could see thick black smoke twirled into the blue heavens.
The sound of Laroux's heavy stubber still thundered, but enemy return fire was minimal. From what Orlais could tell, between the burning metal frames of tanks, were torn up bodies, or wounded, the remaining figures retreating back down the road, firing over their shoulders as they fled.
Orlais sank to her knees, shaking, relief surging through her body. She was still alive. Still hero of the resistance. Still just in the shit.