(Long post is looooong)
Quaram’s leg pumped blood out into the open from the bloody twisted stump that used to be his left leg above the knee.
Larissa struggled as she tore the medical kit from her side satchel and roughly threw it open to her side, reaching as fast as she could for a laser cauterizer and bio foam canisters.
“FUCK!FUCK!FUCK!” Quaram exclaimed between yelling through the pain as his leg continued to spread claret across steel metal grating “IF I START TO BURN, YOU FUCKING SHOOT ME FIRST! FUCKING SHOOT ME!”
“Keep your fucking shit together Q!” Larissa yelled back in anger as she struggled to keep the laser cauterizer in line with the stump of flesh, bone and metal to seal the blood vessels together “We’re inside! Only direct sunlight fries us, and that may be the only thing keeping you alive, Harkins! Pass me the Bio foam!”
Harkins fumbled to drop his rifle and pass the can of bio foam, tearing off the protective plastic cover as Larissa reached across.
“THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN?” Quaram yelled back, caught too far in his own agony to realize the truth.
“This rock sterilizes itself and the Immortals use Black Hole bombs, this is probably the cleanest wound in battlefield history, now hold still” Larissa stated, far calmer than before as the cauterizer finished its delicate work of sealing the wound closed, she then turned to Harkins and took the can of bio foam, spraying a slim layer of yellow foam to seal the wound from the air, before layering several more layers to seal the entire area from the outside world.
“Q, stay with me – I’m overriding your suit controls to dose you with Morpha” Larissa stated as she hooked her SIBAS suit controls into his own and pumped three times the regular dose of pain medication into his bloodstream.
Quarams vision blended and faltered as the world around him stopped being colours and shapes and simply became a blur of Morpha and lines.
“Larrissa, will you marry me?” He asked aloud, grinning like a man possessed.
“Maybe next time Q” she said with a sigh as she moved back, monitoring his vital signs on her holographic monitor screens.
She then turned to Harkins and opened a private channel “I don’t know how the Bio foam will hold outside on the ice, but he’ll live through this without infection, if he carry’s on being this lucky then he should be able to get a decent prosthetic to replace it.”
“What about the mission? Someone needs to stay here with Q, and someone needs to warn the other teams about the presents our little friends have left for us.”
“You head out to find the others, I’ll stay here with Q” Larissa replied, leaving her laser rifle on the floor and hefting Quaram’s P.A.V.L MK-II to hip height.
“Keep safe you two.” Harkins said in almost a whisper as he lifted his rifle to his shoulder and proceeded down the darkened corridor beyond the former Immortal soldiers.
- - - - -
Out on the distant ice, another Orpheus tank exploded under the force of a black hole shell.
These Scythians however, where proving just how quick they could learn yet again.
Loveless had managed to gut three of the Super Hover Tanks out right, and disable another one before they had tracked the direction of fire back to his psionically hidden spot upon the ice.
However, their Antimatter Projector cannons needed a target to track before they could fire to avoid dumb fire friendly fire incidents – but that didn’t stop the four laser Gatling cannons on each tanks from spreading lines of fire back and forth around his position.
Satisfied with the damage he had managed to cause, he pressed a small button in the side of the Anti tank rifle and prepared to move on.
With a series of clinks, clacks and sharp motions the barrel of the two metre gun began to withdraw back into itself, folding inwards and outwards like a flower going in and out of bloom as the entire gun shrank in size and weight – eventually becoming a small black stubbed cannon only lightly larger and heavier than a regular issue Immortal submachine gun.
Loveless never did stop marvelling at what those bastards in Dial’o’death kept pulling out of their backsides for when they needed it.
With the stub-nosed cannon in hand he withdrew backwards out of the line of fire, and then vanished into the ice.
- - - - -
Deep beneath the ice, something awoke.
Deep beneath the ice, something let loose the first rancid breath of countless millennia.
Deep beneath the ice, something skittered.
- - - - -
Harkins move cautiously from hiding place to hiding place, making sure to cover his angles of fire as he attempted to reach any other Scythian marines still on his floor of the communications tower.
He turned a corner to find that the floor in front of him simply disappeared, along with larger portions of the walls around him, and the ceiling above.
In a perfect sphere.
A perfect 5-meter sphere.
He let out another sigh of frustration and anger, this was the only remains of another three-man team that had found another booby trapped weapon and paid the price for it.
He turned back on himself to try and find another route around the hole that blocked his path.
Into the iron sights of an Immortal Flachette rifle, and the Immortal soldier wielding it.
“Don’t move . . . Scythian scum” The Immortal grunted through his jet back facemask as the end of his rifle shook ever so slightly from side to side.
At range, his SIBAS armour would have been more than enough to deflect Immortal flachette rounds, well – rifle rounds at the least, but this close – his entire front plate would be turned into swiss cheese, shortly before his face joined it.
The soldier shoved the rifle closer into the front armour of the SIBAS suit forcing Harkins to back up a little, as the soldier sneered inside his faceless Immortal armour.
“Fucking Scythians, thinking you have a chance . . . just get on your knees and I’ll make this qui-“
The Immortal soldier never had the chance to finish his sentence as the front of his faceplate warmed and then melted from the inside outwards, a moment later the rifle dropped to the floor, followed by the corpse of the trooper.
Now with an added ventilation hole in the back of his skull.
Harkins looked back up to try and trace the source of the shot, only to see the briefest IFF transponder response of the Bugger – somewhere up ahead of him in the distance of the corridor, beyond the blast radius.
“Well, at least I’m not totally alone . . . “ He sighed to himself as he hefted around to find an alternate route to the communications tower command centre.
Three floors down, four floors up and several dozen side corridors later Harkins was finally close to what was supposed to be his objective zone, a set of imposing blast doors set into the wall of a T-junction that intersected this floor of the base.
“Shit, perfect place for an ambush . . . “ Harkins whispered to himself as he surveyed the three paths around him.
- - - - -
“FTL Clock at three minutes and counting” A deck hand announced to Captain M’tano and Admiral Mera on the deck of the Mantorok.
“Very well lieutenant; is the fleet at alert status one?” Captain M’tano replied.
“The fleet is reporting all laser weapons hot and ready to fire, all Antimatter missiles are awaiting activation keys from Admiral Mera, combat AI’s with ECM and ECCM are alert and waiting, all troops are armed and ready for drop – the fleet is at alert status one.” The lieutenant listed off of his screen.
“Very well, lets just hope that those marines have knocked out the Immortal communications or this is going to get very painful for us indeed.”
“FTL clock at two minutes and counting” The deck hand announced to the bridge.
- - - - -
Harkins still shifted uncomfortably in the dark, he had pushed his body as tight into the door as he could, and reached out with his rifle arm to offhand any targets of opportunity as he reached for the door panel with his left hand.
His hand found grasp on the panel as he attempted to jam the button and open the door, but he was answered with stalwart silence from the door controls as they refused to open the bulkhead.
As he looked ahead he saw glimpses of movement in the distant forward corridor, troops approaching his position, and gunfire following them.
“Ahh, crap.” He exclaimed as he pulled away from the door and attempted to disappear into the line of shadows.
“FTL clock is at one minute, prepare for combat jump!” The deck hand announced as the lights on the bridge dimmed in favour of holographic displays and the burning engines of the ships around them.
- - - - -
As Harkins disappeared into the shadows he saw the troops approaching, Scythian marines in now battered and scorched SIBAS armour, one taking the lead with an offhand laser carbine pistol, the next dragging another marine by the shoulders – who was firing into the dark with his own rifle. The last two hefted a P.A.V.L MK-II each behind the group, occasionally turning to fire a brief blast of almost holy light into the darkness before turning and running once more.
“Get the wounded to the side, I’ll help cover you to the door!” Harkins yelled to the incoming group over an open channel as he emerged from the darkness, rifle held to his shoulder and fired shots of opportunity over and around the group.
“Glad to see a friendly face – cover us! Lee! Shiela – get those P.A.V.L’s and blow the fucking door apart!” The lead marine yelled as he turned on the spot and joined Harkins in his laying down of covering fire.
Just up ahead, Lee and Shiela brought their P.A.V.L’s to bear and opened fire on the door in six consecutive blasts – each one weakening the door as it slagged into melted metal and noxious fumes, before putting high speed into catching up with the rest of the group.
Flachette rounds screamed like banshee’s past Harkins armour, the Immortals favourite anti-infantry weapons – a semi computerised cross between an assault rifle and a shotgun with intelligent shells, firing like an assault rifle it flew screaming shells across the distance which then split into a concentrated shotgun blast exactly 1 meter before hitting their target, guaranteed kills on unarmoured infantry.
As the Marines bolted into the communications room, Harkins kept in line with the un-named leader and continued to fire into the dark.
“LORENZA! Cut off the comms! Everyone else – battery formation!” The leader yelled as he dropped to one knee.
Harkins followed suit as the familiar sight of a P.A.V.L MK-II levelled over His and the leaders shoulders.
“On my mark – unleash hell.” The leader said aloud with a sneer.
The first of the Immortal troops crossed from the dark into the light – another regular trooper, one of untold trillions under their empires rule.
“The hell?” Harkins exclaimed.
“There where about fifty of them holed up in the causeways waiting for us to find them, all their weapons are booby trapped and they have cut off comms to the outside world, fucking shite eaters.” Lee stated, finger itching over the trigger.
“The console is out of commission!” Lorenza yelled to himself as a fizzing sensation filled the groups comm. Channels and then dissipated.
“Right, try this on for size you bastards! OPEN FIRE!” The leader yelled as he yanked on the trigger hard.
- - - - -
“FTL Jump in three . . . two . . . one . . . “ The deck hand continued as space stretched both back and forth around Admiral Mera, Captain M’tano and the rest of the crew of the Mantorok, and in turn the 2000 ships around them disappeared from reality.
And then returned.
“Give me a situation report immediately – “ Admiral Mera began as the ship was suddenly struck by a blast before human or AI could comprehend that the transition from an FTL jump was complete.
The stars around them filled with Scythian vessels, Immortal plasma and return laser fire.
“We have emerged Several million kilometres closer to our intended target, Immortal fleet is in closer to danger close proximity and engaging!” the Deck hand replied.
As space continued to convulse around the Scythian fleet – hundreds of ships began to engage one another in every form imaginable. Scythian Lasers crossed paths with Immortal plasma lances and bolts as blood red starships crossed fire with black and silver behemoths, fighters where launched and the stars filled with death.
Admiral Mera watched as the Juggernaught, one of the first Monarch class battleships of the ninth fleet was gutted as it emerged from FTL – with a plasma bolt already filling the space it emerged into, the blast expanded exponentially inside its own shield until that too collapsed – and the ship became a floating hulk within moments.
Up ahead – Savager frigates unleashed their primary beam cannons onto Immortal frigates and cruisers, slashing them to pieces with capitol ship fire power designed to punch far above the class of the ship that wielded it.
Immortal ships replied in turn with Plasma lances, thick purple beams of raw death that matched shield harmonics with the ships they where targeted at and then devoured them atom by atom.
HIVE shells flew from Immortal anti-fighter cannons, filling space with impossibly fast hot lead and Scythian laser cannons swatted Immortal fighters out in turn – dog fights had begun all the way through the battle as the Capitol ships exchanged fire power capable of levelling cities.
“What do we have out there?” Admiral Mera asked as she took in the opening moments of the carnage.
“Ma’am – it looks like five standard Immortal incursion groups working together – five dreadnaught class vessels on par with the Mantorok, between 7 and 900 battleship class vessels and somewhere in the region of 500 supporting craft, ranging from gunboats to cruisers of varying type and tonnage.” The deck hand replied as he was still taking in the sheer numbers on his screen.
“Looks like they deployed quite a force” Captain M’tano stated, without taking his eyes off the display.
“This is just a drip in the ocean compared to their true fleets” Another voice behind them stated.
Admiral Mera and Captain M’tano turned to see Lord Shadowscythe stood on the bridge himself, surveying the carnage.
“Don’t let them divide us – or they will rip us apart piecemeal – keep the fleet together and take out targets of opportunity as we head towards the objective and deliver the package.” He stated, before he then turned and headed out of the room.
Admiral Mera could only fume in contempt as she turned back to face the bridge “Consider it an order from me, keep the fleet together, head towards the objective”
“Ma’am” Captain M’tano replied as the opening stages of the battle erupted into a full-blown war . . .
- - - - -
In the communications room however, the battle was coming too an end.
After taking seven fatalities they found cover towards one side of the distant corridor and returned fire – returning a fatality of their own and blasting through Shiela’s SIBAS armour – destroying its front plate and turning her head into a pile of crimson and slush inside her armour.
Harkins continued to fire even as the Immortals decided to bolt to where they had come from, and finally returned into the darkness.
“Lorenzo, Lee – cover that door” The leader stated aloud as he turned back to face his injured squad member.
“And who are you soldier?” He then asked to Harkins.
“Harkins, Royal Marine Sergeant.” He replied.
“Well fuck me sideways, we have a royal marine in our presence . . . Marine Javer, Regular infantry . . .” Javer replied “At least with you, we got part of the way through this fucking mess – but we have more dead than injured now, and we still need too move onto the next objective.”
“I’ve got wounded too – one of my men had his leg taken off by a black hole bomb.” Harkins said softly into the silence.