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To Hell and Back (long, 2600+ words) [Chapter 8]

 Post subject: To Hell and Back (long, 2600+ words) [Chapter 8]
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 12:31 pm 
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Sergeant
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Location: Somewhere on the fringe of the Hive
This is the latest chapter of my on-going tale of the Van Saar juve Ian Hauk. I am not entirely happy with the title, but I am more concerned with the overall story. I've just not had the time to proof and edit as it should be... but then my time has been so strained that I've been also taking notes on other chapters and stories... so instrad of losing my train of though and momentum on the other tales I've decided to go ahead and post this chapter.

I hope that you enjoy it - and please do not hesitate with the critique if you feel so lead...

Oh, and it is over 2600 words long so...

Edited note: Ok, I just couldn't move on... I've reviewed and reworked some of the areas. Although it is not of publishable grade it is improved and I feel better about moving on to the next piece...

-=-=-=-=-=-=O=-=-=-=-=-=-

Chapter 8 – “To Hell and Back”
Pt. 1

“Your last test is down that tunnel.”

Ian looked down at the hole that was once a sewer access point. “Where’s Boanerges?”

“He will meet you at the other end, and before you ask any more questions, he will address them.”

Without another word Katan turned to leave. Over his shoulder he said, “You did good. If you survive this one you will have earned some respect among the team.”

Ian stared at the Van Saar ganger’s back as he disappeared into the shadows. Calling out into the darkness he yelled, “How am I supposed to recognize him? I’ve never even met the man.”

“You will know him when you see him. He is… unforgettable,” the shadows answered back. Then Ian was left to ponder what lay ahead.

“Nothing to it, but to do it,” he thought to himself. With that he lowered himself into the old sewer drain and turned on his torch.

-=-=-=0=-=-=-

The old sewer line was cramped for the most part but gradually expanded as other feeder lines joined it. Soon Ian was able to stand full upright and straddle, or avoid all together, the trickle of fluorescent sludge as it meandered on its way. There was no light beyond what his little torch could illuminate and despite his best efforts his footsteps echoed.

For over an hour and a half Ian negotiated the tunnel, passing the occasional carcass or warding off a small predator. Finally he reached the end. In the past bars once blocked the opening but now most of them had been cut off for salvage.

Stopping ten meters short of the end Ian listened and try to determine if there was anything laying in wait. The last thing he needed was to get jumped by some predator.

“You might as well come on out ‘little rat’. Your footsteps announced your approach long ago.”

Ian’s shoulder slumped slightly despite his attempts to conceal his disappointment. At least he knew it was not something waiting to eat him for dinner.

A piece of metal still protruded from the ferocrete and he used it to swing clear of the sludge pool that the sewer dumped into. Hs left foot landed wrong and to avoid rolling his ankle Ian let himself fall and was dumped unceremoniously at the feet of a very tall imposing man.

The first thing Ian noticed where his boots. They were not standard Van Saar issue, solid black; quick-snap buckles up the front, with a solid metal toe. He had seen them once before… where was that? On the Enforcers! His jumpsuit was the same blue, grey, and black pixel pattern as the others on the team he had met. The utility harness was also of Enforcer issue, solid black that held several pouches and a holster that was secured with a strap around his right thigh. The holster contained a pristine Bolt Pistol. Cradled in the man’s arms was the first piece of Van Saar issue equipment he had seen on the man. An air cooled heavy machine gun with a bi-pod support and a magazine feed system that was superior to the belt fed models that the other houses seem to favor. Hanging from a pair of straps was a mask that no longer concealed his face. The visage that met Ian’s eyes caused fear to creep into his heart. The left side of the man’s face was gnarled and the skin, if it could be called that, was transparent revealing bone and muscle. Even the eyelid over the left eye revealed what was beneath. Instinctively Ian dropped his eyes to look away.

“Are you just going to lay there, or are you going to get this test over with?” The Van Saar said apparently not taking notice of Ian’s discomfort.

“Right,” Ian said as he stood up. “You must be Boanerges.” Ian stretched forced himself to reach out his hand and look him in the eye, but the man ignored him.

“This test is a simple one really. All you have to do is travel to a small trading post known as ‘Hell’s Gate’, and return with evidence of your visit.”

“Ok, so where is this place?”

As if on cue the Van Saar ganger swung open a small service door and said, “Right this way”. Boanerges grunted as a sudden gust of wind grabbed at the door and threatened to pull it out of his grasp. Debris kicked up from the wind smacked against the two men and Ian instinctively ducked his head to protect himself.

“What is that?” Ian asked.

“It is the ash wastes... I will await your return here.”

-=-=-=0=-=-=-

“It’s just not natural,” Ian thought to himself. “If man had been meant to live outside the hive he would not need a respirator and goggles to survive.”

The only things to be seen for as far as he was able were dune upon dune of industrial wastes. The constant shifting and affects of acidic rains reduced the resins and polymers to a fine sand-like consistency. Lifting his eyes the only constant reference point he had was the hive itself. The wind kicked up dust clouds constantly obscuring his vision. The cloud cover above swirled caused light levels to change often and even the ash beneath his feet felt unstable.

“Who could live in such an Emperor forsaken place?” Ian thought to himself. The only additional guidance Boanerges gave him before he shut the door, his only way back into the world he knew, was that he had to follow the outer shell of the hive for two kilometers and he would find “Hell’s Gate”. In the hive such a journey could take a person the better part of a day if the paths were difficult; but out here it was impossible to tell how far one had gone or how far there was left to go.

Dunes shifted seemingly at will. Sludge rivers would appear out of nowhere, meander aimlessly along, and then disappear below the wastes once more. And yet Ian always kept the hive in sight. As if he knew that if he failed to do so this test would prove to be his last.

One stream pushed Ian over five hundred meters from the safety of the hive wall, but just as it dropped below the ash wastes his goal was revealed. At the bottom of a hidden gorge lay a small settlement. Behind walls over five meters high lay a dozen or so shacks. On the outskirts lay a small encampment with several small vehicles in and around some tents. Glancing back Ian looked at the hive once more and then headed down the hill.

The gates were closed up tight as the sun, long not seen through the toxic clouds above, had set several hours ago. The camp too was quiet. Ian had detected only two sentries patrolling among the tents. There was no visible access to the Shanty settlement now that the gates where shut but the tents were another matter entirely. With the exception of the guards there was nothing to stop him from just grabbing something and getting back. A plan quickly formed in his mind.

Crawling up the last dune Ian let just his head slip above the crest to watch and wait. Although the guards did not have a set pattern to their movements both of them eventually began to head away from his observation point.

Slipping over the dune Ian wasted no time. The closest thing to him was a tent that had a big motorbike parked in front. It was not ostentatious, but it was slightly larger than the others. No guards were posted out front so Ian slipped cautiously into the tent and out of the direct line of sight of the patrols.

It took a moment for his eyes to adjust. Having spent a lifetime inside the hive his eyes adjusted to the dim light quickly. There was a small back area cordoned off from the front. From behind the curtain he heard a slight snore. The main room was fairly plain. Some cooking pots, a small box filled with who knew what, a table and even a chair. Adjacent to the table was a small display, upon which stood a long heavy barreled rifle with a small optical scope and just below that was a knife what had a blade extending not just above the handle, but below it as well.

He needed something to prove that he had been to ‘Hell’s Gate’ – “either one of these little trophies should do”, he thought to himself. Without hesitation Ian hefted up the rifle. It felt good in his hands and he couldn’t help himself. Tucking the butt stock into his shoulder he nestled his cheek against the butt stock and peered through the scope, very comfortable. Dropping the weapon into the cradle of his arms he looked back over the table for any ammunition, nothing. Oh well, this will do.

Before Ian slipped out he listened to make sure that he had not disturbed its owner. After he heard the snoring continue he allowed himself to breath once again. A quick check of the area in front of the tent verified that the guards had not returned and he slipped back out into the open.

Now all he had to do was get back across the first dune and he would be home free. Slinging his new prize across his shoulders he took off for the dune. There would be no way to know where the guards had gone without running into one of them, and that would not do, so he wasted no time to look around.

For fifteen long seconds Ian ran full out. As he crested the dune he kicked his feet out from under himself and slid to a stop. Turning back around he inched his way back up and lifted his head once more over the top of the dune. Ian’s heart skipped a beat. His trail was obvious. He might as well have dropped his torch as a calling card. There was no time to lose. He had to make for the hive and hope he could get a good enough head start to out run those bikes.


Chapter 8 – “To Hell and Back”
Pt. 2

Ian’s breathing was labored as he struggled to fill his lungs with usable oxygen. His respirator was struggling to keep up with the demand, and glancing down at his body suit’s reaction to the surrounding atmosphere there was no other choice, the mask had to remain in place.

How had he lost his orientation? Oh he knew exactly where the hive was, but the angle of his return path was off. Even with the shifting dunes Ian knew he had not passed this way before. The plateau he now found himself on was rocky and peppered with sink holes and mounds of some kind of sludge that emitted steam. Almost as if on queue to his next question a geyser erupted only twenty meters to Ian’s left spewing some kind of liquid fifty meters into the air. The air currents carried the bulk of it behind him but a fine mist rained down all around him. Even through the filters he could smell the distinct odor of acid eating away at whatever it touched. “Just another example of how Necromunda tries to kill you”, Ian thought to himself. Looking around the geyser field stretched out for several hundred meters in all directions. Looking back the way he had come from a pair of bikes vaulted over the edge of the dunes and raced across the field right at him. Without further hesitation he renewed his flight.

Thirty meters from the edge of the geyser field Ian could now hear the throaty roar of the engines that pursued him and he realized he was never going to make it off of the field before they ran him down. Stopping dead in his tracks Ian drew his knife and Las Pistol and turned to face his attackers. The bikes were at fifty meters and closing fast.

One rider dropped some sort of rifle across the handlebars of his bike and despite being well out of effective range, began letting loose with a barrage of bullets. The other rider readied a nasty looking double headed axe from across his back and dropped it into a low ready position in his right hand. Both laid into their accelerators and picked up speed. Ian dropped onto one knee and took aim at the lead bike.

Fwooosssssshh! A geyser opened up beneath the shooter’s rear wheel causing the bike and rider to cartwheel end over end, over ten meters into the air. His companion reacted quickly and smoothly steering around the carnage of his former partner, but it was exactly what he should not have done.

The geyser field also hid several fissures that had been caked over by thin layers of ash wastes. With the extra stress of the bike’s maneuvers the crust caved in revealing deep chasms. Necromunda swallowed up the bike and its rider leaving Ian alone once more. As the fear began to subside he realized he was in danger of hyperventilating. “Get moving Ian, get back to the hive,” was all he could say to himself.

-=-=-=O=-=-=-

“There it is! Move it!” Ian screamed to himself. There was only a hundred meters left to go, but he could feel the presence of his pursuers hot on his heels. Glancing back he could now see a dozen men, mostly on foot with one or two buggies in the mix.

His lungs were screaming for more air, and his muscles were threatening to refuse his commands from lack of oxygen. But so close to safety spurned his will on and renewed his efforts to make good his escape.

“Come on!” Ian yelled at himself, only fifty meters to go. The roar of the engines could now be heard.

With Twenty meters left to go the doorway to his freedom sprang open and Boanerges thrust his Heavy Stubber out to try and deter his pursuers. Immediately rounds from an Auto-Cannon began to impact against the wall surrounding the door in response.

Ten… five.., “almost there!”

Suddenly Ian was hammered from behind, driving him to his knees. White spots began to fill his vision and he could no longer draw a breath no matter how hard he tried. Even before the white completely filled his vision it faded to black and he saw nothing more.

-=-=-=O=-=-=-

The next thing Ian realized was that he was being dragged, and none too gently. Something was snagged, and there was a lot of yelling. What ever it was suddenly released him and he dropped unceremoniously to the floor. Who was yelling, and why couldn’t he hear through the ringing in his ears? The white spots were still swirling too.

Looking around he saw several familiar faces but his mind could not recall their names. One man with a reddish black goatee and a heavy stubber was yelling and motioning for him to move back. The man hollered something else and let loose a long burst from his machine gun through a doorway. Another man handed him something and shoved him to move on.

Swirling debris and dust was everywhere. Slowly the ringing and spots began to fade and reality was taking its place.

Ian just stared at the item that was thrust upon him, a long, heavily barreled rifle. The small scope’s optics was shattered and the firing chamber had obviously been breached by a las round. Finally a man with a full beard grabbed the man with the machine gun by the collar, pointed at Ian, and then pointed somewhere beyond Ian’s point of view. He looked that way… shadows and walkways was all he could see. “What lay in those shadows?” was all Ian could think to himself. The heavy looked as if he was about to argue, and then nodded. With a determined look on his face the heavy scooped Ian up by his arms and practically threw him over his shoulder to lead him away form the door.

As Ian’s ears began to clear he shrugged to get the man to stop carrying him. Looking back he remembered that this was the team he had been testing to join up with, but he could not fathom why they were here just now.

“Come on lad. Dyrke has made it very clear that you are to get out of the area. Katan and Rogers are staying behind with and will cover our backs.” Ian looked at the Van Saar heavy, no longer filled with fear of the man.

“Much obliged Boanerges,” was all he could bring himself to say.

_________________
"Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up pursuit." ----- Thomas Jacskon


Last edited by s4G on Sun Feb 11, 2007 5:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:59 am 
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oooh oooh what happened next!

Good work as ever.

Didn't see any obvious mistakes or typos.

_________________
------------------------------
Apologies Dyslexic.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:38 pm 
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I just had to tweak it some... I found some glaring things that bugged me... although it is still not of publishable quality IMO, it is improved.

And Speshul - there is more to come. 8)

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"Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up pursuit." ----- Thomas Jacskon


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:55 pm 
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Didnt have time to read it ALL (sorry bud :lol: ) but liked what I did read! I think it maybe could do with a little more descriptions in there?
I always leave out enough, like what the feeling in the tunnels is, his reactions or lesser thoughts/actions (flinching at a distant shout?), all the little things such as drips and distant noises that build up atmosphere.
It might already be there and I read round it.... :-)

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 6:00 pm 
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I actually enjoy the description part... this piece could probably do with more, but it was one of this things where I started typing and just kept typing trying to get it all down.

Thank you for this feedback though... something to work on. :)

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"Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up pursuit." ----- Thomas Jacskon


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