Fiction: Fall from Grace, Part III

Adam Murton (aka Vardos Cadix) has his own Antares fiction blog where he has a number of continuing stories.  We’re delighted he was inspired by the new panhuman heads for the Concord and wrote us a serial on the Vyess and the Gyohn. The previous part can be found here, but we continue with part III…

Fall from grace, Part III by Adam Murton

Togor watched Mija freeze just before the tripwire and back off. He exhaled with relief and then he moved, quickly. The battle had moved to their building, and by the sound of things it was the next level up.  At least, the hostiles would be distracted. So, no time to waste. He darted past Mija, slowed briefly to step over the wire, and ran forward and up, keeping his eyes ahead and alert.

One of the Strike troopers had clearly survived the jump: they could hear the whine of a plasma carbine and crack of superheated air when it struck. Togor swung round the bend of the stairs  and dashed the last few steps towards the sound of the firefight. The door appeared to have been left ajar deliberately, but no one was manning the gap, perhaps too distracted by the skirmish.

Togor smiled, approached the door carefully, then swung in to position from behind the wall, jamming his plasma-carbine into the gap. His visor-display changed to show the view from the gun’s camera: maybe eight warriors were inside, facing and firing the other way towards their target behind a synthcrete pillar. The Strike trooper was bleeding profusely.

Togor couldn’t see the Old Man but he was confident he would be there.

The resistance troopers were lightly armoured, two wore a few sections of reflex armour, but most were wearing padded armour. They had been relying on scattered crates and collapsed machinery for protection, but turning towards the injured trooper had exposed them. Togor motioned Mija in below him and when both guns were in the gap, he flicked in a plasma grenade.

The grenade bounced off the floor and rattled to a halt between two of the resistance troopers. One started and began to turn before he was overcome by a bright, burning flash but both were thrown back, brief screams cut short, their clothes scorched black. Togor and Mija rapid fired through the door gap. One plasma blast flew wide, but three more struck the hostiles. One fell, clutching his ribs, and another dropped with plasma burns to his head and arm.

Togor pushed at the door and darted through, heading towards the now-confused troopers. He snap-fired as he ran and one more fell. Three resistance troopers tracked round to his position and Togor dropped to his knees and slid in behind some sort of archaic tech unit as they fired. Their metallic rounds ricocheted off the tech unit.

Togor panted and took stock. Apparently three resistance troopers were now surrounded by three Concord troopers: Mija, Togor and the last remaining Strike trooper. However, if the bio-readings were accurate, the remaining trooper wasn’t going to be much help. More worryingly the Old Man was not visible. Togor had been sure he would be up here, all the better to dominate the target tower.

Behind Togor, Mija fired again and another hostile-down icon glimmered on his visor. He could hear the rebels scurrying around trying to get better cover. He popped up, stilled himself briefly and evaporated a rebel’s head. The remaining rebel ducked down and both Mija and Togor poured suppressive fire onto the crates behind which he cowered: in moments they began to melt and distort.

Togor glanced up; there was a hole in the ceiling and there was a floor above them. Stars! They weren’t on the top floor. No, of course. The Strike trooper had jumped, he would have travelled down as well as across. He would have ended up at least a floor below the hostiles. And the hole meant they could have responded without stepping out into the stairwell. The Old Man could still be up there or at least he would have been when Togor had charged, but by now…

Movement in the corner of his eye: Togor glanced towards Mija. “Watch your back!” he shouted, but was too late. Mija was grabbed by the neck from behind and pulled backwards. Togor flicked his carbine in her direction, but could see no clear targets. The last resistance trooper took advantage of the firing lull and popped up. Togor spun towards him, but the rebel was already lined up on Togor and a smile crossed his face: he had Togor dead in his sights.

Then the rebel’s head erupted. The Strike trooper had crawled from his cover and waited for an opportunity. Even as Togor stood, the lifesigns on the injured trooper faded. Togor saluted the dying trooper silently before he stood and ran towards the stairwell wall.

Togor’s visor flashed a warning: ‘Incoming OH’. He leapt sideways towards an arched alcove in the wall. With a clang, a dark metallic egg landed where he had been and exploded behind him. His hyperlight armour sparkled purple and yellow, then overloaded and failed. The compensatory servos cut out and, now bearing the full weight of the suit, he stumbled sideways, away from the stairwell.

Four resistance-fighters stepped out of the stairwell and fired. Sparks and chunks of ineffective plating flew from Togor’s armour. Razor blades lanced within his torso, driving the breath from him. He was blasted backwards and stumbled, tried to stabilise himself, but they fired again, and again.

Togor could barely breathe and he staggered under the onslaught. More rounds drove him back to the window which had shattered in the onslaught. Finally, stars burst across his vision and his helmet cracked under the force of a pair of well-aimed slugs. The impact forced his head back and pushed him off-balance and over the edge. He fell and the cracked tiles of the floor rushed up to meet him.

The story continues in Part IV.

More about the panhumans in the Concord can be found in an article on the Nexus. Part IV is coming soon!

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