I had just finished with the wire across the rims of the Old Pious bridge. There was no river below it, but rather a ridiculously deep chasm. I think some ancient Imperial force must have drained it out for some military purpose. So why hadn’t they finished it? Where did everyone go?
That question was finally answered when one of the other whiteshield’s vox went off. I couldn’t hear anything from his vox set, but I could see his eyes at once bug. “Commissar Hauss, sir! We got a situation from team Primarus!” The commissar slid out of the shadows, as unnerving as ever. It was at that point the muffled screams coming from the vox became audible. I could feel my hairs slowly rising. The Commissar immediately plucked the headset from the grunt and talked into it.
“Get a grip on yourself, soldier! Repeat that!... Confirmation of what? By the damned throne, you WILL tell me what is going on down there!... What? … I see. Very well. May the Emperor guide your soul, for this is a brave deed.”
The Commissar grimaced and handed out the headpiece to the now visibly shaken voxman. I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted an answer. “S-sir, may I ask what’s happened to Primaris team?” Hauss remained silent.
That’s when I felt the tremor and the faint sound of an explosion far below. Most of us ran to peer over the ledge and only briefly got to see the chasm illuminated by an orange glow. “Fuckin’ hell, man. What happened?!” One of the other grunts shouted. “Yeah, sir, I wanna know what the bleeding ‘Throne we’re getting into over here before I go ano-“
I watched his head go right off his shoulders and tumble into the pit below. His nearby buddy could only gasp, covered in his blood. Hauss stood there with a smoking bolt pistol, as calm as always. “Fear denies faith. Return to your positions immediately except the demomen. We’re rigging this bridge. Vox handlers, set up a communications hub.”
First death in our squad and it was by one of our own. For talking about the hindrance of fear, Hangman Hauss sure didn’t seem to be worried about dispensing it himself.
It seemed like the longest couple of hours in my life. Nobody said a word after Hauss set his first example. The few demomen had it ever worse, having to scale the barely-intact bridge and plant it with charges. They’d long be dead when they hit the bottom, but that chasm had so quickly garnered its grisly mythology that the fall was the least thing the Demos were worried about.
I had to look out the backside of the bunker, watching for anything down the road opposite of the bridge. Doesn’t speak too well of Hauss’ thoughts on me, as nobody gave a damn about that. Everyone was fixated on whatever that hole held deep down. Every once in awhile I could have sworn I saw a flicker of red move off in the distance. My heart would ready to clamber out of my ribcage, but I’d calm myself down. Everything around here was red, after all. I was not about to be shot up by Hauss for making a scene. I could feel as though he was watching me, but it could have been some other watchman, or something else.
The amasec wasn’t helping anymore. At first I thought I was drunk, but I could see some movement. The ground itself was swelling. The strange red flickers off in the distance vanished. I merely watched for a few seconds, awed by it.
Then they squirmed out. For a second they were all curled up, but then unfolded. I realized I had been pinching myself. I wasn’t drunk, and I wasn’t dreaming. They scattered off to the sides, spazzing the whole time. Hauss was outside for the moment with the demomen, but I still withheld everything. Once I saw the shimmer of gigantic blades though, I didn’t care to hold it in anymore.
I screamed. Loudly.
I grabbed my rifle and screamed again, this time coherently. “THERE ARE SOME FUCKING THINGS OUT THERE FOR THE LOVE OF THE FUCKING EMPEROR HELP” Within a second half the platoon was in here. None of them were happy when they didn’t see anything. “Don’t go all scrambled on me now, Derrek.” One of the guys voiced. They acted annoyed, but I could see the same feeling on their faces that was crawling around under my skin. “I mean it, dammit! Check the sides! All of them!”
Another gunbaby shook his head, rolled his eyes and turned to the spiral staircase below. “Hey, Vance! Derrek here says you’ve got a monster coming to visit! Why don’t you do a Yarrick and let him know how you feel?”
I wanted to be embarrassed. For the love of the Throne, that’s all I wanted. I wanted to hear some laugh from below and some mocking. But there was nothing.
“Vance?...” The same guy muttered. All I could do was whisper “Oh shit.” They all bolted downstairs to Vance’s position just like that, but I couldn’t move. That’s when the screaming started. No lasfire, just screaming. Hauss would be back any second now and I could probably be mulched for damaging morale. At least that’s what I thought. A shriek from below.
“OH FUCK! THAT’S FUCKING VANCE! WHAT THE FUCK OH EMPEROR”
That was the last of coherent voices. It all turned into a ramble of screaming. I could hear something upstairs with me. Mumbling, in fact. I kicked my fear in the teeth and dashed for the stairs. 2, 3 stairs at a time, I scaled the thing. One of the guardsman was out in the open, frantically waving down Hauss. The others were in a panic, back up against each other outside and looking around. It started to dawn on me I was the only person left in the bunker. Suddenly, I felt a drop of rain. I glanced up at the window.
I looked at Vance and he looked back at me. At least I think it was Vance. I almost idly wondered where his skin had gone. All the blood and flesh didn’t hit me as my thoughts ran right back to the thing I had seen earlier. I heard another noise and a strange whirring sound. In fact, I heard what sounded like a couple of things.
Then suddenly Vance stepped out of the dar-ohfuckme whatthefuckit’swearingVance’skinwhatfuckhelp