Grishak had let his fellow survivors draw the beasts on. A lust for blood seemed to cloud all other senses, for which he was thankful. They were soon past and he followed warily, perhaps they could take care of the Church scum too?
“Why aren’t you shooting?” Harms asked, as Cornelius used one of his knives as a pedicure tool.
“Even I can see that they are running from something," said Butt, disdainfully,"they couldn’t care less about us.”
The Sargeant saw what Cornelius meant, there had been a brief skirmish, but once past the Taurans had kept right on running. Weapons and packs had been dropped in haste and to increase velocity.
Cornelius’ exclamation was echoed by the crack of an auto-rifle.
Harms’ question died almost as soon as it was born. The Ambryn stole his power of speech and reminded him of why he had suffered those nightmares.
Cornelius’ shock caused little delay in his response and less in Clari’s anger. He could have done with a little more air, her tail squeezing his windpipe. One quick slap to her head and a soothing pat and all was well with the world. Butt punched the nearest soldier, wresting an auto-rifle from nerveless fingers. Quickly the weapon was live, spitting jacketed slugs into the body of the nearest monster. Red blood and fragments of flesh were his reward and he grinned savagely.
“Fire at will!” screamed Harms, his actions mirroring his words.
The front line of Ambryn stopped dead, as disciplined fire settled the soldiers. Pace by pace, they backed away from the slithering and hissing mass.
“How far are we from the portal?” gasped Cornelius.
“Too far,” muttered Harms, reloading.
“Ah well,” grinned Butt, starting to run towards the creatures, “then the only way is forward!”
His actions surprised not only his own companions, but the Ambryn themselves. He dropped his rifle, lowered his head and charged. The spiked helmet crunched into one monster, the force snapping one strap. With a curse, Cornelius left it buried in its body as Clari burned through the face of another. None followed him and soon he was lost amongst the sinuous forms.
“Forget him!” screamed Harms, “Retreat!”
There was no ordered retreat, all turned and ran, following the path recently taken by the Taurans. To their surprise, the Ambryn did not follow, but turned snapping and snarling to deal with the diminutive warrior.
Cornelius was talking to Clari, but more out of comfort than expectation of a reply. A sweeping tail drove him to his knees and saved his life. The blood and gore splattered over his body helped, making it impossible for the Ambryn to gain a hold with their weak limbs. Their larger body mass pushed him through, slipping and sliding. His knives continued their bloody work, and Clari’s corrosive breath made sure the Ambryn’s rage did not lessen.
Five of the creatures piled upon him, the floor collapsing suddenly as one of the derelict buildings gave way. Cornelius dropped into what must have been a sewer, the stench testifying to its original use. The pipe sloped down and Cornelius followed.
He could hear the Ambryn behind him, but did not stop to see how many there were or how close they might be. With a gulp of foetid air for luck, he dove down into the awful muck and tried his best to swim.
Grishak watched from cover as the small human charged his enemies. If nothing else, he had to admit that one had courage. When the building collapsed on top of the Ambryn, he sighed. His job was done as far as this warrior was concerned. Now he needed to focus on finding his cowardly brethren and killing the rest of the Church soldiers.
It somehow seemed less of a challenge. Without the small one, things would be just too easy.
Guest post with D.P. Prior
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