RotG: Dark Menace - Chapter 07
RotG: Dark Menace
Chapter 07 - Five winds blow as one
The last few Legion jets flew over a battlefield. Locke raised his head but he couldn't give the arriving allies more than a quick glance. Something landed on his back, threw him to the ground and dug claws into his sides. With a scream Locke struggled to turn around, shot a blast right into the enemy's chest and kicked the furry creature off him. He could barely see what just attacked him but telling from the smell it must have been someone from the wild wolf pack. And telling from the loud curses the blast might barely have left more than a nasty burn and that the owner of the voice was ready to shred Locke into pieces. But before the wolf could launch another attack a shot rang out and he fell, a hole between his eyes. Locke spun his head and his jaw dropped when he recognized the female who came closer.
"You once saved my life, now I saved yours. I think we are even now", Lara said and reached out a hand to help him back to his feet.
"You're here? I thought you stayed in the camp with the wounded." Locke still couldn't believe his eyes.
She quickly dragged him over to some rocks to take cover behind before she replied, "I couldn't leave you alone in this hell, knowing you're out of Chaos power and completely unarmed."
Locke let out a humourless laugh. "And I doubt that even if I had the best weapons with me I would be able to kill someone." His gaze darkened when he remembered Tyler's words. And were those mercenaries really better than him, slaughtering innocents only for money or power promised to them by a stranger? "But maybe I will make an exception for those who have earned it."
Lara nodded to show it was save to leave their cover. "Come, Spectre probably landed a bit further south."
"Spectre? He is still alive and has joined the battle too?"
Locke felt a warm wave of hope wash over him. He wasn't the only Guardian left in this fight anymore and besides, if the one who had been the surest to die survived then the others were probably still out there as well.
The two young Echidnas were rushing from cover to cover, only shooting when it was absolutely necessary. At some point a volley of blasts was fired by hidden snipers belonging to their side, protecting them from attackers when they had to cross the wide open field to reach the place the snipers lay hidden.
"Lost your gun, boy, or why else are you running around with a toy?" the mocking voice of a Legionnaire greeted Locke when he and Lara slipped past them.
"I've found Locke!" Lara shouted over the heads of the dodging soldiers. "But where the heck have you been? I thought you wanted to cover our backs."
One of the snipers left his position and rushed over to them. Locke saw that Spectre still looked as awful as during their last encounter a while ago but at least he was standing upright again.
"Well, snipers normally need a good place to hide and over there we only would have had the shallow water covering the path leading to Albion and all around the deep water of the sea. Some Legionnaires might dream about dying in battle but they surely don't dream about diving during it." He turned towards Locke. "The other Guardians are somewhere in this battle too. I can sense them." His eyes fell on the blood drenched gaps at Locke's sides. "What the hell has happened to you?"
"Just the usual flesh wounds", Locke said with a crooked smile. Thanks to the adrenaline rush he had barely noticed them and though they were now hurting like hell and still bleeding a bit he chocked the pain down, didn't want it to stop him from finding the others and continuing his battle together with them.
"I hope you are fit enough to follow me to the battle field", Spectre said sounding a bit worried. "The snipers will give us covering fire as long as possible but once we enter the core of the battle chaos it will be hard to differ between friend or foe."
"I would rather be worried about you", Locke replied.
"At least a thin body like mine will be missed by every bullet", Spectre chuckled lightly.
"I will be in the rearguard covering you and we will follow you into battle as soon as we are signalled to", Lara silently said. She hugged him and gave him a quick kiss. "Be careful, I don't want to lose you again."
"Hey, would you mind to stop snogging? There's a damn war around us", a Legionnaire complained. Spectre's following death glare silenced him.
Locke wanted to say something, wanted to give her the promise that he would return but his throat felt constricted and he could only silently nod.
As if by an unheard command both Guardians left their hideout and raced through the darkness. A rain of blasts soon surrounded them, sometimes they had to jump over fallen bodies, not knowing if they were allies or enemies but they never stopped and kept running. Spectre shot down every foe in his way, Locke used the gun he had gotten from the Legion's arsenal as less as possible. No matter what he had said about those mercenaries deserving to die, he couldn't stand the sight of them falling before his eyes. Those weren't Chaos blasts that he was shooting around there. His Chaos blasts would take out enemies but not necessarily kill them. A gun however...
When they were in the shallow waters close to Albion and in the middle of the battles he heard several loud cries behind him. The signal for the rearguard was given. He allowed himself a glance over his shoulder. Legionnaires and Echidnas who possibly belonged to the many nomad tribes stormed down the hills, way more than he had seen in the hideout before. The first few already fell before they reached the bottom. Locke looked forward again and prayed to Aurora Lara would be alright.
Three soldiers, certainly not Echidnas, blocked their path pointed their guns towards them. Two of them were mowed down by Spectre, the third was able to graze him with a shot but then was knocked out - by a boomerang.
"Thunder!" Locke cried out. He hadn't seen his Guardian friend yet but a shot like this could only have come from him.
"Damn, way to blow your camouflage", Sojourner's voice was heard.
"Camouflage?" Sabre called out. "We're just covered in dust whirled up by the battle but else we couldn't look more like Echidnas. No, not just like Echidnas, like the damn Echidna Guardians Enerjak wants to get rid of so desperately."
"Can't you shout a bit louder?" Spectre grumbled. "Maybe some people in Knothole haven't heard you yet."
"Hey, look who's still alive and nagging", Sojourner called out.
"Yes, glad to see you too. And now down!"
He dragged the younger Guardian with him, the others dropped into the shallow water as well. Another volley blasted over their heads but it had come from behind and hit a row of enemies.
"Looks like we've made it into the heart of the battle", Locke said. "A lot of dead bodies and..." He pressed himself closer to the others trying to avoid a trail of blood drifting by, mixing with and disappearing in the salt water a bit further away.
"Any more plans but lying here, playing dead and getting drenched in leftovers?" Thunderhawk asked.
"Enerjak is somewhere in the middle of this fight and actually he should be easy to spot being a green glowing figure in the dark", Sabre said. "But then again, if he moves fast enough between all those glowing blasts..."
A wave of energy shot over them and knocked out close ally units.
"Looks like he doesn't want to hide anymore", Thunderhawk said. "Stay down, this is our chance to get closer unnoticed."
"Wouldn't it be better if we split up?" Sabre asked unsure. "I mean, a whole of bunch of bodies looking very close to Guardians crawling forward... isn't that drawing a bit too much attention?"
"Indeed, indeed. Too bad for you that the brain of your group spoke too late. And that some of the enemies had the same idea to play dead", a well known voice said and a few previously dead looking floating bodies rose from the water.
"Tyler", Locke hissed when he saw the Echidna who had previously spoken and was now standing between the mercenaries. "I wished you had drowned in a blood puddle."
"And you are harder to kill than a damn cockroach", the traitor replied with a cold glare. "But I doubt you will be able to survive several loads emptied into your bodies." He made a quick gesture with his weapon. "Get up, I will at least give you a honourable death. When history tells about the lost battle of the Echidnas it shall tell that the last Guardians died while standing and fighting and not while kneeling like whimps begging for their lives."
Slowly the Guardians stood up but they didn't even feel the need to lift up any weapon - not when the enemies had theirs already readied.
"Do you hear that too?" Locke asked.
A sudden deep humming filled the air, sounding like a charging Tesla coil. Their furs were bristled like during an electric storm. And then it was here, unseen but with full force, nearly wiping the Guardians off their feet.
"Shoot now!" Tyler who interpreted the signs correctly shouted.
The mercenaries opened fire but it was already too late - the loads were absorbed by Sabre's shield and a second later a mighty shockwave erupted from its middle, wiping out the surrounding foes.
A loud laugh escaped Spectre's throat. "The Guardians are back in business!"
"The b*****d is escaping!" Locke shouted but Sabre held him back.
"Let him run. He will die soon enough. Enerjak is first priority now."
Only reluctantly the youngest Guardian turned around and followed the others towards the green glow that had gotten stronger the past minutes and was sending off energy waves uncontrollably.
A few meters away the Guardians stopped, shielded off by Sabre's barriers. Behind them the battle was raging, before them the last remaining pieces of Enerjak.
"This thing doesn't even have a certain form", Thunderhawk said. "It's just a bunch of swirling energy."
"But now that the Emerald is restored it can gain strength again", Spectre said.
Locke looked at his energy gun - toy gun as it had been called before. Well, it still was about as useful as a toy.
"There is a way to destroy him for good - a complete energy overload - and it's here in my hands. But ... the bullet will just move through as long as he's in this state. Enerjak needs a new body. Something where a bullet like that can get stuck in before it unloads it's real power. Someone has to absorb his energy just like we did last time but this time all of it has to stay inside of that body until..."
The five looked at each other and they all knew the same thing - each of them was ready to give his life but no one would want to shoot a friend.
"It also has to happen fast and someone needs to help and keep Enerjak inside that body because I doubt he will want to stay there once he realized..."
"Why won't you just die?!"
Tyler stumbled through the shallow water, bleeding from several wounds. His attempt to escape apparently had ended in front of a not so friendly line of Echidnas.
"No matter what you try, you won't be able to defeat Enerjak."
Thunderhawk and Sojourner exchanged a gaze.
"Fast you said? I think that's a job for us", Sojourner silently said and Thunderhawk added, "Sabre, we need you to shield us. Spectre, help us to keep Enerjak at bay once he's inside. Locke, I hope you can shoot as fast as we can fly."
Without further explanation they started running towards Enerjak a few steps, jumped and continued the rest of their way in breakneck flight speed. Thank goodness Sabre had the presence of mind to activate his shields as soon as they had made the first steps because the same second Enerjak's attacks became more fierce - not strong enough yet to completely break the shields but even inside of them they could feel the shockwaves. Within second the two were at Enerjak's side, ripped the floating energy orb into two pieces but they didn't absorb them into their own bodies. Instead they threw them towards Tyler like two powerful blasts.
Tyler was ripped off the ground and for two or three seconds he remained hanging there, his bright glowing body twitching in pain.
The youngest Guardian aimed and shot. The bullet broke through Sabre's barrier and shattered it but for that second no one cared to repair it. The glow intensified until it was a blinding bright ball of light.
Sabre loudly cursed.
"Everyone, shields up!"
Five barriers were activated but this time not to shield their respective owners. They built five walls around Enerjak. The following detonation destroyed all five of them but then it was already weakened enough and the Guardians felt no more of it but a mild breeze.
The rest of it Locke perceived as if he was in trance or half asleep. A last few mercenaries were still fighting but soon struck down by the Echidna armies or the Guardians, others fled as soon as they realized that their leader was gone. Afterwards the victory was celebrated, fallen friends were mourned for. But it wasn't until Lara came running towards him and fell into his arms that Locke finally awoke from his trance and fully realized what had happened. Enerjak was dead, gone for good. They had won.
(inspirational song for this chapter: Van Canto - If I die in battle)