In The Hiding
Chapter 1 - Grow a pair
Dark red blood sprayed on the constantly shifting sand as PFC Jameson slit the unsuspecting Helghast soldier's throat. Around him, the rest of his squad finished off the rest of the Hig scouting party, quietly and efficiently. Not a single sound was heard. The blood-soaked sand was already covered in new, the constant sandstorm doing its job. A nearby pit was waiting. He grunted and pulled the dead Helghast on his shoulders. When he reached the pit, he let him down and checked him for anything useful. Along with their trademark Stahl Arms StA52 assault rifle and ammo, they managed to retrieve some food rations and water. When his squadmates were finished, he shoved the dead body in the pit and wached as the sand filled it. His helmet mic crackled "Guys, we gotta haul ass. A Hig dropship is headed this way. Probably searching for these dudes." Hastily, he filled his bag with the loot and joined the rest of his squad on the buggy. In mere seconds, they dissapeared behind a dune, as an Overlord Dropship circled around the last known position of its troops. Jameson tied a piece of cloth around his face to keep the sand out and sat down more comfortably. The electrical motor droned silently as the buggy climbed the grand dunes. The original fuel engine had been discarded weeks ago when the fuel for tanks and buggies alike ran out. Now adapted Hig electrical motors powered their armour, fueled by petrusite cells. They were a big improvement over the old ones. Sarge swung round the rim-mounted M224 machine gun and Jameson saw the New Sun base. When colonel Templar had crashed the cruiser in the Petrusite Grid, it was not completely destroyed. Pieces of it lay scattered around, but the most prominent was the upmost part, which was in a remarkably good condition. Even though it's reactor was cold, it still harboured several dozens of 'Snow' missiles, several M10 quad AAs, even an abundance of ammo had survived the crash. After days of digging and tugging, they managed to upright the wreck and moved in. The technicians were unsuccessful at relighting the aforementioned reactor, so they connected it up to the remaining Petrusite Grid. Comms arrays had also been restored, and were frequently broadcasting on a encoded sub-channel. Slowly, scattered ISA troops, armour and Intruder units were gathered together. Whenever a Hig scouting party showed up, a radio jammer was activated, effectively preventing them from calling backup. From then, the only thing that could be heard was the howling wind, muffled screams and the occasional gunfire. Then silence rushed back and the dead Helghast were looted and buried. Tension, paranoia, and fear mounted within the Helghast ranks as more and more scouts were sent out and didn't return. Even their armour units dissappeared when sent after the scouts! The ISA still lived, unbeknownst to them.
Captain Narville's face turned into one of disbelief "What the fuck do you mean, we have to surrender?" The man on the screen scowled "You heard me, Captain. Surrender to the Helghast so we can negotiate your safe release." Narville shouted "THESE ARE NOT NORMAL PEOPLE YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT! You haven't seen what the Higs do to their prisoners!" The stubborn bastard kept talking "Those are your orders! Follow them!" With that, he terminated the connection.
The guards outside of his quarters heard a heavy crash as Narville smashed his comms device. He stormed out, intent on searching the one man he could rely on. Rico was out of question, as he hadn't left his quarters for a week now, full of guilt. Natko was also occupied, always scouring the surrounding wastelands for any remaining wreckage, and using it to reinforce the base fortifications. That left only one man.
Sev keyed a couple of switches, making the side armour pannels retract and he climbed down the EXO's leg. According to the last communication, a trio of Intruders, complete with a motley assortment of support personnel, had showed up nearby. He set down a small beacon to guide them in. After a few seconds, he heard the distant whine of anti-grav engines. After a while longer, he saw the small group of the transport fliers sway around in the heavy wind, but they seemed unsure where they should go. He popped a flare and the bright red smoke billowed out. At this, the Intruders moved at once, and set down nearby and their passengers got off. They seemed somewhat suspicious of Sev "You Sevchenko?" He chuckled "Yeah. You Charlie Three?" A medic shook his hand "That's affirmative. Thanks for coming. Our rides are nearly dry. You got any juice with you?" Sev produced several adapter leads and Petrusite cells from his pocket and gave them to her "Just plug these up to your original power couplings. They'll get you up and running." At this she wondered briefly "Petrusite? You mean that stuff Higs use in their towers?" "The very same. Our techies managed to adapt all of our equipment to run on this stuff." Suddenly, a bolt of lighting struck the ground nearby. Sev jumped "Ah, shit, a storm's brewing! Get those Intruders running!" He climbed back in the EXO and powered up. The panels closed and he briefly saw sparkling as the Intruders soared up and hovered about. Sev wheeled about and ran. The ground shook as he legged it in the EXO, with the three Intruders in tow. There was a rather spacious tunnel nearby, they could go through there and skip most of the storm. He changed course and the rest followed suit. He keyed the floodlights on and surveyed the scene. The twin beams of light danced around when he noticed something around the corner. Some kind of flashes. He stopped the EXO "Charlie Three, stand by. I'll go and check it out." After a few seconds, they had set down unnoticed, thanks to the storm. The newfound guys followed Sev, checking all possible spots for ambushers. Around the corner, he heard a heavy smack and a woman's scream. Hurriedly, he pulled out his silenced StA18 and took aim. He heard one of the two Higs curse "Stupid bitch! Gimme that!" When the girl refused to give up her food, he raised his fist. The cowering Helghast raised her hands, but the blow still hit her hard. Like through water, she heard a quiet 'psch'. Her assailant twitched once, and looked in disbelief at the small, bloody hole in his chest and collapsed. The other one swung around, but he was peppered by a hail of M82 fire. Through the bloody fog covering her sight, she saw a group of different soldiers advance. The pain in her head pounded on, making her pass out.
Elena, the de facto leader of Charlie Three, slipped the tip of the small syringe in the unconscious girl's vein. The syringe was filled with a mix of stimulants and pain suppressants. She pressed the small button, sending the medication in the Helghast's blood system. A few heartbeats passed and she woke up and looked at the visored face of the ISA medic. In a sudden wave of fear, she jolted backwards "Gah! Please d-don't hurt me!" Then she felt ashamed that she'd been afraid. She was a Helghast! Proud and loyal to the Helghast Empire! But her fear quickly came back when she saw one of those big, two-legged robots nearby. She looked around her with mounting panic, seeing roughly thirty ISA soldiers around her. She tried to get up and run, but froze solid upon hearing the sudden click-clack of their weapons. Elena put a hand on her shoulder "Relax, we're not going to hurt you. Just don't try anything stupid. Now sit still and let me take a look at that cut you got on your head." She froze in fear, thinking that she'd get her head cut open. She was surprised when all she felt was the gentle brushing of Elena's fingers as she cleaned the wound and applied a small patch across it. Then she felt the cold touch of metal at her temple and thought she'd be killed and closed her eyes. But all she heard was quiet buzzing and a relieved sigh from the medic "Looks like that bashing didn't crack your brainpot. You got lucky." Bewildered, she opened her eyes and said "Am I dead? They told us that everyone who wasn't Helghast were murderers." This caused quite an angry fit for Elena "That what they told you? Well, it is all just lies. WE weren't the ones who blew Pyrrhus up, nor did we murder the innocent civilians on Vekta when war started." Her angry rant was interrupted by another soldier "Hey, doc, quit it. Sarge says we got to dust off now. The storm's over." Unhurriedly, they climbed on their Intruders, except for one that made a beeline for the walker "I call dibs on this shit!" As soon he got in, the EXO shook him out. A new voice reached her ears and she saw the supposed 'Sarge'. As soon as he noticed her, he scowled and walked over to her "Why aren't you on one of the Intruders?" She must have misheard him. He wanted to take her to-where exactly were they going? He seemed impatient, so she made a quick decision that changed her future. Whatever happened from now on, she was labeled a traitor to the Empire and was to be shot on sight. She joined the ISA remnants for reasons she told to but a handful of people. She climbed the railings and thankfully grasped Elena's hand as she was pulled on top of the Intruder. It shook and lifted off, following Sev's EXO. Elena slotted her M82 in the side-fittted rack along with other guns and sat down besides her "You got a name?" She hesitated for a few seconds, before answering "Kaolin Alder." Elena shook her hand "I'm Elena Rawley. Now, I hope you don't mind, but Sarge said I have to tie this over your eyes. Security measures." She picked up a long strand of cloth and placed it across the girl's eyes and tied it securely "You may as well go to sleep. It's gonna be a long ass ride."
The lookout lowered the M80 rocket launcher at the sight of three Intruders following Sev's EXO. He keyed the comms link "Hey, Captain Narville, Sarge's returning!" The answer came immediately "As soon as he's here, send him to me. I need to talk to him." Cheers went up from the crowd around the newcomers as they were greeted. Sev received Narville's message just as he climbed out of the 'Penny Devil', as others called his EXO. He walked over to the Intruders and woke Kaolin up "Come on, ya little traitor. Let's get you geared up." Clumsily, she climbed down and followed Sev to the armory. Her sleep quickly dissipated when she surveyed what the ISA had managed to create here. The remnants of the cruiser harboured more than two thousand ISA personnel. The cables from Petrusite Grid powered it, and the technicians had gotten the elevators and doors running, despite the widespread fires that had gone through the wreck. Sev and Kaolin took the nearest elevator and after seventy-nine seconds, reached the armory deck. Down the spacious hall, she saw Sev's EXO being serviced. After they reached the end of it, a door opened and they entered it. They were greeted by the sight of countless rifles, missile launchers and sidearms stacked neatly in rows. Huge crates filled with various munitions also filled the cavernous room. Behind the counter, a bored man sat reading an old magazine. A small, portable audio player blared "Leave it alone, leave it alone every time, my disfunction is on your mind..." As soon as he noticed Sev and Kaolin, he jumped up "Oh, sorry sir, I-" Sev interrupted him "Never mind. Just kit her out." The armourist eyed her "Another defector, huh? You haven't been the first one, lass. Come here, let's see what gun you want." Somewhat cautiously, she walked over and the armourist handed her a LS13 "This one?"
Kaolin shook her head "No, it's too heavy."
He snatched it from her hands and gave her a M327 "What about now?"
She eyed the heavy, unwieldy grenade launcher "Are you kidding?"
He chuckled "Yep. Now, let's see... ah, perfect." He handed her a StA11 "This one then?"
She nodded twice "This'll do."
He opened one of the ammo crates "This'll be your supply for the day." He handed her five mags, followed by three M194 frag grenades. Two mags slipped out of her grasp and clattered to floor. Sev chuckled "You're gonna need some better armour as well. Bradley, what have you got for her?"
The armourist returned from the side room, holding a scruffy, but clean uniform "I think this one will fit her. I got some medical equipment as well." He also handed her a one-size-fits-all medic's helmet. She put it on and felt the memory foam change shape, grabbed the uniform and disappeared behind a curtain. In a few minutes, she emerged again, donning the new apparel. Bradley strapped several armour plates on top of her clothing and stood up, satisfied "That'll do nicely. Now get outta here before my inner bastard spoils the moment." She picked up her gun and slipped her ammo in the pockets and strapped the issued 'nades on her belt. As she and Sev reached the door, Bradley called her again "Hey, I almost forgot to give you this!" With that, he threw an M4 revolver, complete with several ammo rings. She smiled at him "Thanks!" and holstered the powerful handgun. He waved her off "Anytime, lass." The door hissed and closed, leaving him alone again. From behind the door, they still could hear the song blaring "Ease your mind, this moment will pass if you just LEAVE IT ALONE, LEAVE IT ALONE EVERY TIME MY DESTRUCTION IS ON YOUR MIND!", with Bradley singing along rather badly. Sev chuckled "He never listens to anything else. Says it's a legendary band." They walked up to another elevator. After twelve seconds, it arrived, carrying several ISA soldiers. They were chatting heatedly, but went silent upon seeing Kaolin. Mumbling, they unboarded, but went silent after Sev glared at them. As soon as they started their ascent, something popped in his mind. He pulled out a waterproof marker "So, what's your name? I never got to hear it."
He went to work with the marker, pulling her name and surname in thick lines on her shoulder pad "There, that should do. Now, remember to adress him as 'Sir.'"
"Who? Where-" she was interrupted by the sudden stop and the hiss of the railing as they exited the elevator. They were at the bridge. Down the hall, twelve heavily armed soldiers guarded the entrance to the captain's quarters. Upon seeing Sev, they straightened up and their Sergeant spoke "Captain Narville is waiting for you, Sarge." He motioned him to go in, but denied Kaolin entrance. The arguing would have gone on for a lot longer, hadn't Narville pulled them both in. His patience was wearing thin.
Captain Jason Narville closely checked the two soldiers in front of him. Thomas Sevchenko was a man who always was more or less calm. But the other one was always fidgeting, her eyes darting around. Another one of his strays. He could tell it by the shiny gun, the fresh uniform, the said fidgeting. Suddenly, he barked a question "Are you an ISA trooper?"
The nervous girl almost put a hole in the roof "N-no, Sergeant Sevchenko saved me." Narville raised an eyebrow and she quickly added "Sir." He smiled, letting his shoulders slump "Aah, those days are over. Sev, I have some bad news. Recently, I received a message that the Vektan Government has collapsed. Their ISA demand that we surrender so they can retrieve us as POWs. I can't do that. If you take over, only I get trialled for incompetence. I hand the New Sun base to your control. I know you'd never surrender. You know what Higs do to their prisoners. Uh, no offence intended." he quickly added, throwing a glance at Kaolin, who, in turn, responded "And none taken. I never served in the army." Sev took a step forward "Sir, are you-" Narville interrupted him "YES, I am sure. If there's anyone who could get us to safety, it's you. Now, with what powers I have, I pronounce you the Commander of ISA Remnants." He saluted and left. Suddenly, Sev felt the weight of responsibility on his shoulders. As soon as he sat down by the table, he heard the intercom buzz. He pressed a button, letting the group of snipers in. Omega Two, he remembered. They didn't seem surprised at him sitting at the table "Sir, Captain Narville broadcasted this across the whole ship. Everyone seems satisfied with it. Narville's been under a lot of stress lately, too. But we got something else on our hands. We got a company of Higs bearing down on us. What are the orders?" Sev got up and checked his M82 "The usual. Get ready, Kaolin, this will be your first battle. Do you have what it takes to survive?" She swallowed nervously "We'll see."
The Helghast soldiers trudged along nervously, always looking around. The endless stream of reports telling that countless scouts and armour units dissapeared without a trace had gotten them all on the edge. The officer at front seemed somewhat oblivious to that. They had come near the wreckage of the ISA's cruiser, the New Sun. Many soldiers had shown suspicion that their enemies would be hiding in there, but the army officials had dismissed that claim. As they went on further near the wreck, the radio cut out abruptly. Everyone stopped. Suddenly, a hail of bullets cut down several troopers. The fire was coming from the cruiser wreckage! The comms trooper fell down after taking a bullet through his chest, scrapping the radio. There seemed to be only few stragglers within the wreck, and they charged single-mindedly at it.
Sev snapped single, precision shots at the incoming hostiles, while a trio of Intruders circled above the Helghast forces, forcing them into cover. A machine-gunner nearby sprayed them with reckless abandon. But a small group had managed to break through. They had been intimated by the powerful defense they encountered, but they pushed on nevertheless. They had already breached the first line and downed several soldiers. Sev was about to throw a grenade, when he saw Kaolin rally a pair of grunts with her and stalled their advance. Shaking his head, he rushed to their aid.
Kaolin ducked behind the sandbags as a hail of bullets whizzed above. The two troopers lay besides, unwilling to take a look at the hostiles. Grumbling, she plucked one of the grenades off her belt. She pressed the lever and pulled the pin. One light lit up. Followed by another. And another. She lobbed it over the sandbags and waited. A terrified scream was followed by an explosion and she darted upwards and brought her weapon to bear. The two ISA troopers besides her finally grew a pair and joined her as she finished off the stragglers. After a long burst from her gun, it clicked and she clumsily pried the empty clip out and slotted a new one in place. Pain-filled moans reached her and her helmet crackled "Hey, kid, it's Elena! I need your help! I got a shitload of injured troopers here!" The breach was quickly closed and an EXO was brought in for support. Kaolin scrambled over two injured engineers and commanded her asspals "You two! Pick him up! We need to get him to a medic!" They obeyed and picked him up. She grunted and slung the other one over her shoulder and went off to find Elena. Her legs trembled but she refused to give in and kept trudging on, the two troopers following her.
The doors parted and Elena saw Kaolin bring the injured engineer inside and she rushed over "Just put him here, like so." They laid him down and Elena started up her scanner. After a few seconds, she frowned "Doesn't look too good. He's got some severe lacerations and several bullet wounds. Come on, take his trousers off. His legs seem to have taken the worst." As soon as Kaolin did so, her stomach bucked. The unconscious man's legs were full of bleeding wounds, several metal shards also were sticking out. Elena handed her a metal detector "Scan him and mark any bits you find with this marker." For the next three minutes or so, she carefully marked every single bit of metal she found. Afterwards a lot of reassuring talking, Elena got her to operate the wounded man. After two hours, she'd finished, but she felt sick. Wearily, she opened the doors and went outside.
Outside, Sev observed the pile of dead Helghast soldiers. Something was amiss here. Usually, there were less soldiers in a scouting party. They were up to something for sure. He heard behind him the door open and saw Kaolin walk towards him. Her uniform and gloves were spattered with blood. He gave her a pat on the back "And here's our little lifesaver. Elena just told me what you did. You did well. Here, have this." He handed her a chocolate bar, which she devoured instantly. Her blue eyes spoke of her gratitude. Sev smiled warmly "Come on then. I'll arrange you a shower. Can't have you walking around and creep the Jeebus outta everyone." Kaolin only nodded, but then, in a blink of an eye, something struck her in the shoulder and she collapsed on the ground. The metallic 'clang' of a sniper rifle followed soon. The hidden Helghast tried to hide, but by the time he'd blinked, dozens of high-velocity bullets had reached him, swiftly ending his life. Sev dropped to his knees and shook her, but to no avail. A black and green dart was embedded in her shoulder. Her breath came in quick, dry gasps as she shook in convulsions. He lifted her up and carried her back inside.
Last edited by arturslv; 06-30-11 at 12:07 PM.