Blakfire v2 Chapter 2
“How much did you say you were being paid again?”
The question snapped Niku out of his staring at the carnage. “Uhh…..” He shifted, tightening his weapon harness; something told him he’d need his guns out very soon. “The guy didn’t say much over the phone. Quite frankly he just told me the time, place, and what he wanted me to do.”
Blaize frowned, calmly lighting another H-cig and taking a breath. “This guy better be loaded. If I’m going to put my ass on the line against a gods-damned military, I want to be swimming in Units by the end of this.” He looked up, trying to see rhe emblems on the side of the aircraft and airships overhead. “Any idea who these bastards are?”
Niku’s eyes turned upwards as well. “Ahh…..” He squinted. “….dark red fuselages and hulls, black trim, pentagram emblems….I’d say Damontian by the looks of it.”
Blaize blinked. For once, he looked genuinely surprised. “Damontian? This should be interesting….that country’s been dark for years.”
“Yeah…..” Niku agreed. “I don’t like this at all.” He almost considered dropping the contract, but...he still needed the money. Not to mention his elf guide may not take not being paid too well. He sighed. “Best we’d head in and try to find the Militia.”
“Militia? Like civilian resistance?” Blaize began walking into the city, making for the cover of a nearby warehouse that somehow wasn’t on fire or rubble yet.
“Of a sort.” Niku explained, following after the elf. As they got to the building, they drew their weapons, Blaize pulling out his pistol while Niku unholstered his single shot rifle. “Amibilidad is a former colony of Extremidad; they got their independence not too long ago. But Extremidad had doubts about the Amibilis being able to defend themselves what with how newly independent they were and all, so they secretly funded covert defense forces and even sent a good number of soldiers over here to back them up, disguised as civilians. It’s nowhere near enough to defend against an entire military though…only enough to delay the inevitable and stall for time while allies prepare reinforcements. Mostly a delaying tactic if anything.”
“Huh.” Blaize said absently, peeking around a corner, and, not seeing anything, motioned for Niku to follow. “C’mon. If we’re gonna find your client, we’ll need to find a bird’s eye view of the area…can’t see shit over these buildings…” It didn’t seem like the Damontians had bothered to occupy this area yet; they seemed to be interested more in the factories and residential areas at the moment; judging from the gunfire that was also where the Militia was making their biggest stand. At the moment, though, Blaize’s attention was to the sky; a single strafing run would be enough to reduce both him and Niku to ribbons should a bored pilot decide that they were interesting enough to make a pass at. So far, the planes above seemed to possess no interest in the two, so Blaize felt it was safe to move across the street, towards a building with a higher point on it, one ideal for figuring out where this priest guy was. Once they were there, he tested the door, and found it locked. “Dammit….ugh. And here I was hoping to be inconspicuous about this.” He levelled his pistol at the knob.
“Wait!” Niku stopped him, stepping forward. “I got this…” He hunched over the door knob, hiding it from Blaize, and fiddled with it for a moment, before, with a click, the door unlocked and slid open.
Blaize lifted an eyebrow, somewhat impressed. “Didn’t know you could pick locks….”
The only response from Niku was a smile and a shrug. With Blaize in the lead, they made their way up into the building, thankfully unimpeded. It seemed that the inhabitants had flown the coop when the action started, or perhaps it was abandoned to begin with, considering that this place looked pretty ragged on the inside. Soon, though, they were at the high point, and Blaize looked out over the besieged city. “So…you see our objective?”
For a long moment, Niku only squinted and looked over Mirror bay, adjusting his glasses. “….There!” He pointed to a religious-looking building across the valley, a bit lower on the hill than they were. The good news was, it wasn’t, for the moment, in the middle of the worst fighting, but unfortunately, the quickest way to get to it would bring the two right through a particularly hot zone in the city, judging from the smoke, fire, and tracers. Blaize, upon seeing this, rolled his neck, which audibly cracked, much to Niku’s displeasure. “It’s gonna be one of those days, isn’t it?”
“Looks like it.” Niku confirmed grimly. “Please tell me those guns of yours aren’t just for show.
That got a grin from Blaize, who shifted the machine gun on his back and cocked his pistol. “This won’t be my first rodeo, Blondie. Is it yours?”
“Nah.” Nick responded, checking over his rifle and submachine guns. “I detest violence, but I’ve had to resort to it in the past. And in this case, it doesn’t look like there’s gonna be much of an option; the Damontians aren’t likely to take kindly to two guys running around with guns.”
“Agreed.” With a nod, Blaize led Niku back down to the street, which was still empty. It was…eerie, how quiet it was at this area in the city when, barely two miles away, a heated battle raged. The quiet, however was suddenly broken by the roar of an engine. The two dove behind a nearby concrete barrier and looked back, both with guns in their hands. For a moment, little could be seen, and then, from lower on the hill, a bus careened around the corner, engine straining as it climbed the hill as fast as it could. Its job was made more difficult however by the fact that it was grossly overloaded; even from where he and Niku was they could tell that it was standing room only inside. “Refugees,” Niku said from behind him as he slowly stood and watched the bus race past. “The situation for them must be dire if they’re taking this risk...they’re totally exposed out here! You think that-“
Another engine reached their ears, and this time they had good reason to duck back behind the barrier. Above them, a pair of Damontian Barakuda fighters dove from the clouds, zeroing in on the struggling bus. One broke off and flew slightly higher, ostensibly to provide cover for its wingman which kept diving on the bus. “He…he isn't….” Niku stammered in horror and disbelief, watching as Blaize crouched grimly beside him and answered. “He is.” Helpless, the two looked on as the plane continued its dive, the long, menacing nose of the blocky single engine plane pointed right at the bus like a dagger condemning the occupants aboard the bus to death. Flashes sparked along the wings and nose, the sound of heavy machine gun and cannon fire reaching Blaize’s and Niku’s ears as the road behind the fleeing bus began to explode from the impacts of the shells, plowing their way closer and closer until they finally caught up to the hapless bus, shredding into the unarmored roof and back, and into the innocents inside. One of the exploding shells must have hit the fuel tanks, because with a muffled explosion, the bus went up in flames, but kept moving as if determined to escape its inevitable doom. However, there was no escape, and the burning wreckage careened off the road and into a warehouse, where a second explosion reduced the bus to scrap metal. As if this was not enough, the victorious plane looped back and poured another salvo of rounds into the bus, but at this point it was simply overkill…no one could survive that wreck. Nike growled, his eyes narrowing in hate and anger. “ANIMALS!” he shouted at the planes as they climbed to look for more prey. He looked at Blaize. “They’re animals!”
“Trust me, I know.” Blaize said, sighing and standing up, but staying away from the road. “If anything it only drives the point home that we’re gonna have a fight on our hands. You’d best be ready.”
“I am.” Niku said quickly, leveling his gaze at the shorter elf. “You won’t get any hesitation from me. Not when…they’re doing things like that.”
Blaize looked at Niku appraisingly for a moment, then nodded. “Good. C’mon, we've a ways to go. You remember where the church is?”
“….Yeah.” Niku nodded after a second’s hesitation. “….Follow me.”
“You’re the boss,” Blaize said, deciding it was time for Niku to take over his own operation for once. A good kid, Blaize thought. He seemed a bit distant, maybe a little out of it, but he knew when the stakes were too high for hesitation….the display with the bus showed that the Damontians were playing for keeps today. And he was keeping a level head despite his obvious outrage at the atrocities being committed here. Blaize made a note to talk to Niku after all this…he could see a partnership being beneficial to both of them if they made it out of here alive.
The sounds of battle grew louder as they descended towards the city center, and the closer they got, the more damage could be seen. Shell craters, burned out cars, collapsed buildings…even the burning husk of a downed zeppelin, draped over smoldering buildings like the skeleton of a great beast. Damn, Blaize thought. For a delaying force, the militia was really dishing out as much as they were taking. Along with the debris of war were the refugees as well. Civilians, mostly, hiding amongst the rubble and casting wary eyes to the sky above, which, again, judging from the previous incident with the bus, was reasonable enough; apparently Damontia had made it exceedingly clear that no one was safe from them. There were also militia soldiers, armed with Longford Rifles and Sten Submachine Guns, mostly guarding the civilians and trying to keep the peace. They were, reasonably, suspicious of him and Niku; more than once they’d had to flash their contractor badges and explain their mission, but…it did not work all the time…
“Sir, I am going to have to ask you to lay down your weapons. This is a war zone.” This guard in particular had decided that the contractor badges were not enough of an excuse to be armed to the teeth, and looked at the two of them with suspicion as she approached.
“Like hell!” Blaize said, glaring up at the guard, not phased by the Sten in the her hands. “I saw what those assholes are doing to civs, human. I’d rather have a fighting chance against them than let myself be slaughtered like a bloody goat.”
“And I’ve got a job to do, Pointy Ears.“ The guard looked with disdain down at the simmering elf, who visibly had a vein popping out on his boyish face. “Now hand over your weapons and scamper along back to your forests. We have this under control.”
Sensing that Blaize was about to do something regrettable, Niku stepped between them. “Look, ma’am, I know you’re trying to do your job…” He said, looking at the guard. “But getting into a brawl with a pair of contractors isn’t going to earn you brownie points with your bosses….we’re not going to be loitering and attracting trouble for you. Our destination is the church."
The guard obviously wasn't done arguing, and was about to level her orders at Niku, when a shout, followed by an explosion rang out down the street. A refugee, who had a split second before been pointing down the street at something, disintegrated as the explosion sent shockwaves down the street, knocking the three to the ground. The roar of another engine, along with the clacking of metal treads on pavement grew as the trio’s ears were still ringing. Blaize was the first to get to his feet, but what he saw was not a good sight.
Around the corner trundled a Damontian Drachen tank. At eleven feet tall and twelve feet wide, the huge, boxy reddish-brown vehicle ground to a halt in the intersection, before rotating its turret towards the three, its enormous cannon barrel looking like a tree trunk sticking out of a house. An awkward silence descended upon the area.
“Oh…balls.” Blaize said aptly.