[Don't look at me like that! Times got hard and all my computers quit on me! I got one running again and FINALLY crapped out another chapter. Terribly sorry for the wait! I really missed writing this story and I'm very happy to come back to it. I had a couple people ask about it, and it was nice to see interest! Here you are kids-- enjoy!
The cellar beneath the facility was cold, leaving Parker feeling clammy beneath his clothes. A day of fighting and running worked up a terrible sweat, and with his ruck safely stashed in the hallway behind them, his clothes were more open to the chill in the air. There were electric coolers everywhere, no doubt housing sorts of chemical agents or test specimens of some kind.
"Hey, check it out," Sal said, nudging Parker. He looked over to see her motion towards a relatively tucked-away wooden shelf that housed a dozen bottles of wine. She smiled coyly up at him and said, "Elk Grove."
Parker gave her a subdued grin, his normally-focused mind fraying at the edges with the heated memories of what they had done only one night earlier. Being reminded of his attraction to her only served to distract him, so he gave her a soft jab in the arm and returned his attention promptly to the cellar. "Find anything?" he asked, turning to look toward the others.
"Nothing yet," Reuben said, poking his head out from behind some metal shelves that lined the walls. He looked toward Noric and Drew, calling out, "How about you two?"
Shaking his head, Noric simply replied, "Nope."
"They won't be coming this way," Drew stated. "No doors or hatches anywhere in here. We should be out by the wall helping keep watch."
"No, it's been too quiet," Reuben commented with a sigh. "And since I doubt they ran off, I bet they've found a way to get past the wall."
No one responded, partially because they hoped that it was as ridiculous as it sounded. If they had blown their way through the wall, everyone would know. Otherwise, they would have to get through the gate, which was too heavily guarded. With no explosions or nearby gunshots in the past hour, nobody truly believed they had gotten past the wall.
Suddenly, the ground overhead rattled and shook. There was a terribly loud bang, muddled by several feet of concrete on all sides. Everyone in the cellar stumbled beneath the tremor it caused; Sal was pushed to the ground by the shock, while Reuben was pushed off balance and fell. The others were lucky enough to have been near something sturdy and withstood the blast mostly on their feet. Parker had been knocked to his knees, and looked up with slightly fuzzed vision to see Sal struggling to stand.
"Another explosion?" he heard Reuben call out. It sounded like he was hundreds of feet away, rather than an arm's reacg.
Parker hurried with crooked steps to Sal's side, grasping her hand and helping her to her feet. She was dizzy as well, but once again was unharmed.
"Anyone hurt?" Parker asked, looking about. There was a general murmur of a negative response.
"That sounded really fucking close," Reuben said.
Noric got to his feet, leaning against the cement wall. He took a deep breath and rubbed his pounding head, "Definitely the facility wall. The attack has started."
"Should we get upstairs then? Help them fight?" Drew inquired.
Reuben held up a finger, listening. Parker listened also, and noted immediately that there were no gunshots. If they had just breached the wall and were infiltrating, the guards on duty would be firing at them. Something was definitely wrong.
"It's a diversion," Parker said, looking to Reuben. The two exchanged looks of agreement, before Parker turned to face the others. "Be prepared. There will be more explosions if that was a diversion. If I were them, I'd be trying to distract the guards so that I could blow my way into the cellar."
"You really think they can blow through all this concrete?" Sal asked.
Noric chimed in, saying, "I've seen it done before. The militia have explosives that can cause that kind of damage. Judging by the amount of damage done to the city wall, I'd say these Runners stole some militia ordnance."
"If they do set off a bomb to get into the cellar," Parker said, "we can't let it surprise us or we'll be dead. This fight will be on their terms and we aren't even sure how many we're up against. Find some decent cover, but make damn sure your back is facing the hallway. Who knows which wall they'll take down."
Everyone shifted to find reliable cover in the cellar. After a brief discussion, they rearranged the metal coolers to form a barrier twenty feet inside of the mouth of the long hallway that led to the cellar. This left them with a narrow field of fire with clear view into the cellar, and a funnel that would push their enemies into the hallway, as well as a barrier to slow the enemy down if they made it past them. It also left them with a clear sprint to their escape route, making their possible retreat much easier. Once the barrier was made, Parker began pulling metal coolers down the hall, stacked two high and two thick from the perspective of the cellar; this would allow them to cover each other in bounds without leaving themselves in the open if they had to flee.
The others had all drawn aim on various parts of the walls in the cellar. They were prepared.
It was only a matter of minutes after their fortification was established that gunfire sounded overhead. For a moment, everyone thought they had guessed wrong, that the battle indeed was upstairs. But before anyone could open their mouths to speak, the world erupted like a volcano. There was a white hot fire that ripped through the cellar and blinded like the sun, reaching its tendrils several feet into the hallway before quickly dissipating. Simultaneously, an explosion to put all others to shame shattered the walls of the cellar, tossing massive chunks of rebar-laden concrete about like popcorn.
Parker had tried to assume a mostly low position to keep from being blow away when the blast struck, but the magnitude of the blast was far beyond what he had anticipated. He was slammed in the chest by one of the metal coolers and hurled backwards by the force of the blast, leaving him spread on the floor with a body of agony. He heard nothing but a stinging high-pitched tone once again, but could vaguely make out the flashes of gunfire flashing against the ceiling at which his confused eyes had focused. He struggled to move, the flashes of war growing brighter and more frequent. Summoning all the strength he had, he shoved to his feet. Pain shot through him and he screamed in pained but determined will, pushing to his knees. He grasped his rifle and crawled back to the barrier. He could see Reuben, up and crouched over the barrier, firing into the cellar. Sal was sitting, leaned against the wall. Drew and Noric were also firing, although Parker noticed Drew’s face covered in blood. He tried to focus his vision and lifted his rifle wearily, looking for a target.
There were two bodies lying in the mouth of the hallway, For a moment, there was a lull. Then Parker spotted movement, seeing a man run for cover in the hallway behind a waist-high chunk of concrete. Parker frantically fired a few shots, managing to strike the man once in the shoulder. His companions fired as well, tagging the man several times in the upper torso. Parker put an extra two shots into him to make a point and watched him collapse, soon replaced by two more enemies swinging around the corners of the hallway and laying down fully-automatic fire.
Parker’s heart jumped into his throat and he slammed himself onto the ground as the top of the metal cooler behind which he was hiding shredded into steel confetti. “Fuck!” he screamed, his heart perpetually skipping beats.
“LMG!” Reuben shouted from the prone position he’d been forced to take. Parker looked over Reuben’s shoulder to see Drew thrashing on the ground.
As soon as he spotted him, he heard Noric shout, “Drew’s hit!”
Frantically, Parker looked back to Sal to see her still sitting against the wall, as if there was no war at all. Why wasn’t she moving? Parker reached a hand out to her leg to shake her, and she lifted her head to give him a blank and expressionless look. He did not know what was wrong with her, but he felt sick.
There was a break in the gunfire, and Reuben tossed the barrel of his rifle over the top of their barrier and blind-fired to suppress them. Parker heard Noric chime some shots in, and shoved off the ground, ignoring the shooting pain that coursed through him. He looked down his ACOG scope to see one man, carrying an LMG with the breach pulled open, being dragged by the other man carrying a similar weapon. Parker did not hesitate to put the walking man in his crosshairs, drilling him with five rounds before putting three more into the already-grounded man. Clearly the first man had run dry and tried to reload, only to be hit in the process; the other man must have tried to drag him to cover, but in doing so, exposed himself too much. Just as Parker verified the two were dead, two Runners leaned out from behind the large chunk of cement and fired. Again, Parker had to duck down, and a moment later, the automatic fire started again. Another Runner must have taken the chance to snag one of the LMGs.’
From his spot on the ground, Parker noticed a small crack of space between two of the coolers they had set up. He crawled forward a bit and gently pushed them apart, making just enough space for the scope and barrel of his AR-15. The poorly-lit hallway made for good concealment from his unconventional position. Laying on his stomach with his body angled away from the gap, he rested the magazine of his rifle on the ground and steadied it with his left hand as he took careful aim. His weapon cracked out a shot, and the Runner with the LMG snapped his head to the side, collapsing. The other two men ducked into cover in response. Parker felt the agony in his pinky as his weapon rocked from the recoil; the finger was still swollen from his previous scuffle, and it seemed to hurt so much more with everything else added to it.
One of the men leaned out, and Parker watched the barrel of the man’s carbine drag right across him. Parker was stunned he did not get spotted, knowing the man had looked right at him. Hastily, he took aim and pulled the trigger. There was no report.
For a moment, Parker felt time freeze. He realized his weapon had failed, and time was no longer frozen, but moving ten times faster than normal. It felt like it took him a hundred years to get away from the exposed gap through which he was shooting. He cursed loudly and shoved away from the coolers, yanking his weapon back. After ripping back the charging handle, a dead bullet yanked out of the chamber and chimed to the ground. As the bolt moved forward again, the rounds double-fed into the chamber and the bolt jammed, at which point Parker realized he failed to eject the magazine. “Fucking jam!” he shouted out, tearing the magazine from the rifle and dropping it to the ground. He yanked the bolt back as hard as it could, but it was stuck; the round was lodged.
He had no time for this. Dropping the weapon to lay beside him, he pulled his Glock from his hip and crawled back to his gap. He peered through to see where the enemies were, and gasped when he saw them running for the barrier.
His eyes shot to Reuben-- reloading. Then to Noric-- on the ground, possibly hit. Parker felt terror grasp him as he shoved away from the barrier. He fired three fast rounds through the gap, and heard a yelp, before scrambling to his feet. When he stood full height, he lifted his pistol on target, and lost count of how many times he had pulled the trigger.
It was all a blur. There were so many gunshots, the flashes were so bright, the noise so muddled. Parker realized his earplugs had fallen out, probably during the blast. Had he not had them this whole time? He could hear to little, everything was so faint; he could feel the vibrations, the concussion of each gunshot. There were so many bodies, so many dead men in the hallway; sparks scatted off the walls all around him as bullets, coming and going, glanced here or there. Still standing, still pulling that trigger, still defending and fighting and killing, Parker staggered if only from the weight of the amount of death that would take place if these men were allowed down the hallway.
When Parker realized how delirious he felt, everything was so quiet. He was still standing. The slide was locked back on his pistol. The hallway was littered with corpses, some shifting slightly as the last bit of life bled from them. Guttural moans of death bounced like ricocheting bullets off of the pockmarked cement walls. Parker’s weary eyes looked down to see the figure of Reuben clambering to his feet, rifle in hand. He felt a hand clasp his shoulder, Reuben’s hand, and saw his lips move. What was he saying? Thanks? Maybe congratulations? Parker could not hear it.
His eyes fell to Drew, lying in blood. His head and arms moved pointlessly back and forth, as if he were trying to complete some task that no one else understood. Noric, covered in Drew’s blood or his own, knelt over his companion. To his left, he saw Sal, still against the wall. His feet shuffled him to her side, where he fell to the ground far harder than he intended.
His hand found hers, the slick feeling of blood between their palms. He looked her over, but saw no bleeding wounds. Where was the blood coming from? He followed the blood from his left hand, trailing up his wrist to his forearm just forward of his elbow, where he saw a gorge carved into his flesh. The blood drained from his face.
“I’m-- I’m hit!” he called out. His own voice seemed so far away. Why could he not feel it? All he felt was a dull ache caressing up and down his spine, maybe a tingling in his shoulder and his elbow. Should he be in pain? Suddenly, Noric was there, his blood-smeared hands digging through a medical pound. Parker looked up to see that Reuben was beyond the barrier, putting the final bullets into the men that still held onto life. Looking back to Noric, Parker muttered, “Sal! Check Sal! Check her!”
He used his good arm to shove Noric away. It satisfied him to see Noric quickly inspect Sal, before shrugging and returning to him. “What’s wrong?” Parker asked earnestly, the words coming out awkward and haggard. Noric spoke, but Parker could only see his lips move, gleaning that he had said ‘nothing’.
Sound slowly returned to the world, and with it came incredible agony. As the adrenaline fled from his veins, he felt every damage done to his body since the moment the fight began. He could hear echoes of his heavy groans bouncing back at him as he shut his eyes tightly. He felt the touch of icy cold steel in the flesh of his arm, then agony the likes of which he had never before felt. His screams echoed further and further into the distance, until suddenly, he was wreathed in a peaceful, calming silence.
Last edited by Tribunal Power
on Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.