Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Wichita Kansas, U.S.A.
Alone In the Black
Alone In the Black
My name is Bastion, Steven Bastion. I am the last of the Tunnel Dogs. All the rest of my unit has been killed in the line of duty. I do not know where I am or how far underground I am. I am lost and alone in the black.
ĎGet in the hole and watch for traps. Keep moving and we will be right behind you.í The Sergeant screamed over the hell fire storm of the enemy bombardment.
The litter of fallen buildings, burnt out vehicles, torn up streets and dead bodies was accompanied by the smell of raw sewer, ashen wood and burning flesh.
The forces of Chaos have moved upon the forge world of Basalon and we are on our heels as we strategically seek out a means to out maneuver the enemy forces.
The 771st are holding the city blocks of Ashton, Mournival and Gracious Ave. while the 99th is advancing through the lower habs of Mission and Lawrance in hopes of flanking the enemy from the east. The 532nd is retreating down Emperor Ave. in hopes of luring the greater armament of the Chaos hosts into following them.
If the strength of the enemy takes the bait the 122nd will circle around from Bastian and McLaster and level the taller buildings onto the armored divisions of the enemyís armor.
The enemy has taken control of the sewers and is advancing throughout the city and into the forges unhindered, thatís where we come into the picture. I am the point-man of the Tunnel Dogs for the moment. Larken Hales in behind me, Gear Castol next, Mischiel Jvwer following three steps behind him, Nihcolas Brewer is second from the end followed closely with Sergeant Verson Drewas taking the rear.
At the middle are nineteen others traveling single file through the same sewers the enemy is using. If not for the emergency lighting systems, the flashlights on the end of our shotguns and the momentary rays of sunlight filtering through the manholes above, the tunnels would be pitch black.
The sounds of battle rage above us as warheads bring down small buildings, shops and ironworks. A bridge collapses in the distance and the echo through the tunnels is deafening. The Tunnel Dogs are trained for close combat in confined spaces so the sewers are nothing new to us.
We double-time it under the streets of Glasper heights as we seek out the Chaos infiltrators. The sewage is rippling out before us as we advance, little waves slogging back and forth from the vibrations of tank traffic and explosive impacts nearby.
The concrete cracks above us and the concussion slams all of us down into the sewer much like a fly is slammed against the wall. Blood is coming from my ears and nose and I think my shoulder is dislocated. As I stand up we come under fire and two of the men behind me go down.
One is screaming from a stomach wound and the other is missing most of his head. A grenade goes off in the middle of the line and five men are blown to pieces in a heartbeat, bone punctures my cheek and neck.
Flashes from the Chaos guns are lighting up the tunnel as two more of us go down in bloody sewer-covered heaps. Larken Hales lets loose the flamer and drenches the enemy. Like pyres of living flesh seven men dance and scream as if their souls were being ripped from them.
The heat from Larkenís flamethrower singes my eyebrows and curls the hair on my head. I scream as I slosh through the sewer, as the Tunnel Dogs bring the fight to the enemy. I join them with my shotgun banging into the face of a masked man who is screaming curses at us in the name of his foul god.
The mask caves in as the butt of my shotgun slams into him, his head tilts back even as I spin the gun around and unleash a full shot into his gut. Intestines erupt from the manís back in a welter of blood and smoke.
I hear the Sergeant from somewhere behind us shouting orders but I cannot hear what they are, the sounds of battle pushing at my ears like a giant pounding the sides of my head.
A bullet impacts something metallic and heat washes over my back. Even through the maelstrom of close combat I can hear six or seven of us erupt in screaming panic as the flamethrower explodes and drenches us with burning promethium.
My jacket and pack are on fire so I jump and role in the sewer extinguishing the flames and saving my life. I look up as the sludge recedes from my face into the iron mask of a Chaos warrior. He points the barrel of his rifle into my face and pulls the trigger.
Nothing happens; his gun is empty or jammed. I use the moment of surprise to raise my own shotgun into his face and smile in a grimace of satisfaction as his head disappears in a wet cloud of red and gray mist.
As quickly as it started it was over. The emergency lights were out, sparks shooting outwardly from burst conduits and power-boxes. Either it was all quiet or I was deaf. There was a ringing in my ears that set my mind on fire.
I found that I was crying and barely able to move because of the fatigue that filled my muscles. As I looked through the tunnel in the direction we had just come from the only thing that greeted me were the dead bodies of my friends mixed with the corpses of the enemy.
The flashlight that was mounted to the end of my shotgun had been busted so I pulled an extra from my pack and screwed it into the mount on my shoulder harness. A thin cone of green tented light stretched out from the flash light about twenty meters, but it was hazy and particle filled.
The smoke was heavy and so was the stench of burnt flesh. To my right a headless man lay against the wall and on top of him, bayonet still in his back, was Mischiel Jvwer. He was most definitely dead. I thought I could hear voices from somewhere around me.
I was glad to know that I was not deaf, just concussed. Both right and left of me the tunnel led off in total blackness. The voices were coming from nearby so I yelled but there was not any response. The voices could be from anywhere, the echoes bringing them from as far as a mile away.
I knew that, had been trained for that. I had been trained to be alone but I never thought I would actually be alone. I hoped against hope that some of the Tunnel Dogs had escaped the firefight but I was pretty sure that I was the only one left.
I knew that I had to get above ground so I went back the way we had come from. After almost an hour I came to a cave in from where the ceiling had collapsed, there was no way through. The only option for me was to go back.
Above me I could still hear the sounds of battle. Tank treads crunched over fallen debris, men shouted and screamed as they met in face to face combat. From a crack in the ground I saw two men fighting in mortal combat, knives bared, slicing back and forth. They both died quickly as the treads of a Bane Blade turned them into paste.
I turned away and vomited. My shoulder hurt from earlier and my skin itched from where the flamethrower had scorched me. Hefting my shotgun to my shoulder I made my way back to the scene of the firefight and settled down among what was once my unit and asked the God Emperor of mankind to watch over them for their service to him.
I knew he would. I did not doubt that he was watching over us now. I could have been like some and cursed the Emperor for causing all of this or turned my back on my father because he refused to stretch out his mighty hand and cause it all to stop. The Emperor of mankind could stop all of this with a thought. That is what I had been taught from the local temple where his glorious image still stood.
But my priest had told me, ĎIt is not the Emperor who started all of this but the evil decisions that others make that ripple through life and effect good people nearby. The choices we make effect the choices others make. Do you see son, we are responsible for our own actions and have to pay the price of other peoples folly. The Emperor remains innocent and mankind remains guilty.í
Reaching down I took an extra flashlight and power-pack, some extra shells for my shotgun and some spare rations packs for later.
I was tired but I knew I had to move on. With only one choice left to me I waded through the sewer, cringing with every vibration and fighting the panic from my shaky nerves.
I had been traveling for what seemed like hours through the tunnels. The sewer water had grown steadily deeper until it was almost shoulder depth. With each step I believed I would sink into a hole and not be able to swim out of it.
The walls were wider here, farther apart, the sounds of battle echoed down to me like a thrumming whisper. I do not know how far I have come or where I am but I know there is not an exit behind me. I have no choice but to brave the endless tunnel systems.
My light begins to fade. At first I believe the walls are separating further, but when I can barely see the rippling muck before me I understand. I dump the old one and screw in the new. Now with a fresh flashlight I can see further down.
The ripples are larger in the distance and I begin to feel a current tugging at my legs. Terror hits me like a fist to my heart and I fight to pull free from the riverís deathly grip.
To my left I see a service door set about a foot up from the sewer tide. It was imbedded in a wall of red brick covered black with mould and crap. Fighting the quickening current I struggle in the direction of the door. I feel something swirl past my feet. It latches onto my ankle like the last grip of a dying man.
The torment of the moment holds me hostage and my mouth goes dry. Fresh sweat runs down my face, I almost lose my battle to the panic that is always at my throat.
I donít want to die like this. I am fighting the current as it begins to speed up. I understand now the sewer flood gates that hold the rivers of human waste back have been opened. If I cannot break free I will surly drown.
Ducking down into the black filth I grab the slimy thing. It is a branch tangled in a net of nylon. It will not come free and it tugs at me with malicious intent. I pull my knife from its scabbard and cut the netting as fast as I can.
The saw-like motion of the blade finds purchase and soon the branch along with the nylon netting comes free of my ankle and I move from that spot like a panicked deer from a lion.
Soon I am at the landing and am struggling to climb up. My hands slip in the refuse and mould but I fight the sickening slime and find a broken brick. With all the strength I have left I pull myself from the flowing river of sewer and lay against the door panting with ragged breaths like a dog pants in the blighted angry sun.
I am soaked to the skin so badly that my hands and the skin of my body look like an old manís. As I quiet my thumping heart my adrenaline comes down to almost normal levels. In the distance I hear the sewer falls and the suction of the current as the river bleeds away.
I stay pressed against the door for what feels like a lifetime just watching the fetid river pass by. It is not as deep as it was an hour ago; I can see the floor of the tunnel now covered in a slimy paste that bears the refuse of ages past. I also see that there are skeletons by the hundreds down here.
I break down and begin to weep. I sob in agony as I realize that I am lost and alone in the black.
Time has passed me by. I do not know how long I have been out but as I awake the nightmare slaps my mind anew. The flashlight has gone out, the battery pack wasted and useless. I search my pockets and find the last power-pack for the light and screw it into the unit.
Nothing happens. Terror grips me and I can barely think. The darkness is complete; I cannot see my hand in front of my face. I slap the flashlight and hear the tinkling of a broken bulb. My mind screams and I am consumed by the reality that I am alone and will die in the depths of the black.
I try the door handle but it breaks off, rusted from corruption. I kick it repeatedly but it will not budge. I reach down to where my knife should be but it is not there. It has been washed away. My shotgun has been taken from me as well. The river of sewer has taken away my only hope of defense.
Now I can do nothing but listen to the sounds around me. The sewer gates have closed again and the river is rising. I can feel it at my feet. The humidity and heat of the sewer tunnels is stifling, sweat runs down my back.
A spider touches my skin; I can feel it running along my cheek and along my neck. I slap it and with a momentary feeling of excitement I am rewarded by its death.
Something stirs in the muck at my feet. At first I believe it is the current beginning to flow again. But when it grabs my feet I understand that I am not alone in the black!
The sun beats down upon the city streets of a devastated world. The Imperial Guard stands strong in the face of the Chaos armies, immovable and victorious.
Twenty men of the 771st Infantry division rest against the wall of a broken building. Beside them a blackened, rusty door stands defiantly jammed within the burnt out archway of the main sewer hub of the city.
A good reputation take a long time to build, but only a moment to destroy. Wow, that's deep!
Check out the H.O.E.S. short story competition.
Other stories from Adrian.
Look up Adrian in the "Compendium" to find them. Thanks