Tallious, within the sieged capital city...
As Wolcott re-entered the new command centre room everyone quietened down. He ignored them and made his way over to the war table, but they remained quiet. The silence was cut only by the sounds of the shells hitting the void shield in the far distance. "How long until they reach the shield?"
"Less than half an hour Brigadier." Owens answered. "We've managed to pull everyone back underneath the void shield and blocked every tunnel that we know of. We've set up Leman Russes in cover and the majority of their fire is aimed at the main roads that lead in."
"And the knights?"
Owens shook his head. "We had several long range sightings on the horizon. So far we have 7 confirmed at less than 50 miles north to South West and 4 more less than 50 Miles south West to East. We estimate more are incoming.
Wolcott nodded solemnly. "And the Titan?"
"No sighting at the moment, and it's dissapeared from the fleets radar. Given that they're now engaging an enemy fleet, we're unlikely to be relying on them to fight it.
Wolcott sighed. "Is the Shadowsword deployed?"
"Good. Where's Jennifer?"
"Here sir!" Jennifer announced from the corner of the room. She saluted the sign of the Aquilla nervously."You said you... wanted to see me?"
"I did." he confirmed. "You're the best gunner in the whole Brigade. The Vanquishers out of action so you're in charge of the Shadowsword."
Jennifers eyes went wide. "Th-th-the superheavy?"
"yes. Is that a problem?"
She hook her head firmly. "NO SIR!!!"
"Good, get it ready then, I'd let you pick your own crew but we're short on time so stick with teh one's already in it. Take it t the main overway that runs through the city and target ONLY the knights."
"I won't let you down sir!" She hesitated before saying the next part. "Um... can I say something?"
His eye twitched as she said that, and quite a few officers shuffled about anxiously, not sure how he'd react. "You may."
"I saw what happened with Colonel Johnson... and... and um... I think you did the right thing. We're Kestrals, not these Serpians, and by trying to k-kill you he chose their race over ours."
Owens gave her an odd look while Wolcott smirked. "I'm glad that we have people here like you to see sense. I have no doubt that together, we'll make it thorugh this day."
She smiled proudly, blushing and a look of awe on her face.
Wolcott turned away and pressed a button on the speaker system. As he did so his voice was projected around the entire city. "Attention all guardsmen, and spireguard, this is Brigadier Wolcott.
I want to make something clear to everyone.
We are all Kestrals. Each and every one of us.
Kestral is not a nation of one race, but many. Traitors such as Johnson may believe we're monsters but he couldn't be more wrong. Individually, we are nothing. 'freedom' and 'liberty' are nothing more than symbols of oppression used by the corrupt and evil to reduce us to nothing.
Look at this very world we stand upon, that we crumble under our heels! What use are human rights when your cities are reduced to ash? What use is democracy when when their pathetic empathy allows invaders to conquer you in such a way? This world is what people like Colonel Johnson want for Kestral, for us, for your family!"
The officers looked about each other nervously, but there was quite a few approving nods.
"Kestral is made up of a union of different races," Wolcott continued, " Every world that joins us, every world that we conquer, they are all part of our nation. Sons of Osiris, Spireguard, with the blood we shed together in the coming fight, you will truly be one and equal to us. You have seen reason and allied yourself with a true and noble cause, and for that, we are brothers and sisters.
Our races are the MASTER RACES!!! We are divine gods of this galaxy! We are as different to the inferior races such as these Tallousians as they are to insects! In fact, compared to our races, their refusal to submit has condemned them to NOTHING more than beasts and animals, cattle at the very best. They should be considered nothing more than mere sh*t to wipe off your boots!
Our destiny, is to rule over these inferior classes. Our kingdom shall be ruled over by our leaders with an iron rod! Our enemies will kneel before us as our slaves, to do with as we please! I declare openly that these people have no right to their very lives! We are the destroyers and will remain the destroyers!
he deactivated the comms and took a step back. he grinned at Owens. "The war is coming, and we'll be the victors, no one else."
Owens nodded. "Yes Brigadier. But, we should prepare to retreat just in case."
Wolcott sneered. "No. There will be no retreat, not while this city is still ours. This planet is mine. Am. I. Clear?"
Wolcott continued to give more orders to everyone else and they ran off to fill them out. Once he was finished he reproached the wartable and ran his finger along the edge. He stopped and took a deep breath. He knew that the battle was NOT going to go well. The enemy was overwhelming and even with their superior skill they'd only go so far...
and the knights, he didn't even want to think of them, let alone the titan...
"Caroline..." he muttered quietly. She was going for Xavier. He had no contact with her but he could only hope her plan was succeeding.
Tallious. The city of Thairian...
Ekaterina awoke to a groan. Her head stung like crazy and her entire body felt cold. Her vision was blurry and she couldn't see anything, but she could hear the noise. Fighting and yelling.
Before long her sense began to come back to her. The first thing she noticed was that she was upside down and strapped into something. Looking down or... well, up, at her chest she noticed the seatbelt across it.
She was in the seat of an overturned vehicle.
She looked around to see what sort of vehicle it was. It was certainly no military vehicle, so why was she in it when...
it came back to her all at once. They'd been chased down the streets by the cities defence force. They'd struggle to escape properly and ended up in a large firefight on one of the main streets. This went on for a while until they'd had the bright idea of stealing a bunch of vehicles and beelining for Xaviers command centre.
They'd stolen several vehicles, including the lorry she was no sitting in, and the plan had gone well for the most part. The Serpians hadn't been expecting a lorry to go crashing through their checkpoints and so they'd gotten right up to the command centre before word got around their vox-network.
When they realised what was happening, they were already crashing through the command centres main gates.
Then she'd lost control, having never driven a lorry before, and crashed it into the command centres wall.
This resulted in tearing down numerous columns which tore down various walls and ceilings. those that had stayed standing cracked and fell themselves, bringing even more down with them.
In a single few minutes, they'd managed to bring half of the Tallious military command centre crashing down on top of them by mistake.
Ekaterina undid her seatbelt and fell down. she cursed as she landed upside down and fell onto her back. As she rolled over to get to her knees, she noticed the passenger.
private Joan, a quiet girl that she'd never spoken to much but was clearly a very thoughtful and considerate person, now lay limp, several pipes penetrating through her chest and one through her neck. It was a horrifying sight.
Ekaterina covered her mouth to stop from throwing up and quickly scrambled out of the window. She got a clearer view of the lorry now. It was utterly destroyed and covered in debris.
Her vision was still blurry but she could make out the rest of the room. It had once been a huge, ornate hall, but now flashes of red and autocannon fire tore of bits of plaster and paint with reckless abandon. she noticed a squad of Lionesses by a window firing out and yelling something about to many of them turning up. She also noticed another another squad pulling injured women over, what must have been about ten dead casualties lay shoved to the side as the single medic did the best she could.
A hand suddenly grabbed her arm and turned her around. it was Lieutenant Paula. "GET DOWN!!!" she yelled and pulled her to the floor as several red beams flew through a window and over their heads.
Sense finally fully returned to Ekaterina and she had to shout over the noise. "What's happening!?!"
"We'r in the command centre, the other two groups have taken heavy casualties, Lieutenants Harpers platoon is..." she bit her lip. "Gone. The enemy knew where they were at all times and captured them."
Ekaterina felt her heart go heavy. "That's an entire platoon, just gone?"
"Yeah..." Paula said through a look of sadness. "I... don't know if they're still alive or they were executed or-"
Ekaterina rested her hand on the panicking Lieutenants face. "hey, hey, it's allright. There's nothing we could have done, all that we can do is finish the mission. Now, what's our objective."
Paula nodded. "We need to go up stairs to where the generals are." and she pointed at a large set of stairs that the Sisters of battle where fighting a squad of Serpian soldiers in close combat.
"And the other platoon? The one Major Nadia was with?"
"They're here too, but on the opposite side of the command centre. Enemy reinforcements are turning up so we got to get upstairs now! They'll meet us up there once the find another way up."
In the main room the generals were panicking and several squads of PDF troopers ran in. Only Xavier was keeping his calm, lighting another cigarette. "What the Jon Doe is going on in this building?"
A Sargent saluted. "High Lord General, The enemy contingent in this city crashed a large vehicle into the building, structural damage is severe but-"
"They're here!?!" One general practically cried out.
"Oh god!" Another added. "We-"
"We're perfectly safe." Xavier said. "If you feel like you're in danger then go down to the bunker and hide there. I'll be here, leading this war."
The generals looked at each other with ashamed faces, before all heading on down to the bunker with the squads escort, leaving only a few officers and troopers behind.
Xavier sighed. "Good f*cking riddance. Now..." he turned to a nearby communications officer and grinned. "Tell me about this... fleet that's just arrived."
"The Chaos fleet has moved to engage it in combat my Lord."
On the entrance halls main staircase Caroline span her entire body around and cut open the chainsword wielding trooper that had tried to swipe her from behind. As his body fell to the she looked about. She was 2 Sisters down, so there was just her, a sister Seraphim and two dominion superiors. "Are we clear?"
"F*CK NO!!!" Paula yelled as she ran up the stairs, accompanied by her command squad and Ekaterina.
"We got reinforcemetns swarming in outside!" Ekaterina added in, pointing at the main windows where an increasing number of autocannon rounds and fire was coming in. There was a scream as one woman was hit inbetween her carapace armor as if to illustrate her point. Ekaterina winced as she saw it but... there was nothing she could do.
"We move fast. Once we've got their generals they'll have no choice but to stand down." Caroline said.
There was an explosion as something big hit the building and blew a huge chunk out of the wall. Paula sprang into action, running down to give the order to retreat. As Caroline turned to head up the stairs and clear the way, Ekatarina grabbed her arm. "Wait!"
Caroline stopped and turned back. "Is something the matter?"
Caroline stared at her momentarily before looking down to see blood coming from underneath her chest plate. "Oh... yeah, I think I... got hit by shrapnel or something, I'm allright for now though-"
"So what? The armor's going to keep me going until I can get some medical care."
Ekaterina sighed. "Look, Comrade, just... you know what, forget it."
Caroline looked at her oddly. "...comrade?"
Before Ekaterina could say anything else though Paula came running back up the stairs, followed by 2 squads of women as one more squad peeled back from the main windows. "What are we all standing about for, let's get going!" and ushered them upstairs.
Caroline and Ekaterina nodded before running back up to the top of the stairs.
Several more rounds of explosions rocked the wall as the final few women reached the stairs and ran up, those at the top providing suppressing fire at the soldiers advancing on the windows. The PDF troops took cover and began to fire grenades up at them, but by that time the women were gone up the stairs.
Caroline and the sisters ran down a corridor on the first floor up to the main stairway that lead up the top of the tower. "Allright, let's get going and... oh... sh*t."
Paula ran up. "Why, what's wrong- oh!"
The top half of the building had collapsed down and destroyed a large portion of the staircase. There was no way they were getting up there. "Perhaps we can... make it halfway and find another staircase on the other side and-"
"Or..." Ekaterina interrupted from far across the corridor. "How about the lift?" She gestured towards the lift doors as they opened up. The lights on the panel indicated that they were still working.
No one had time to question the plan though as they suddenly heard shouting from the Serpina troops approaching the staircase.
The max capacity was 50, so they all gathered into the lift and Ekaterina repeatedly pressed the top floor button as the Serpina troops ran up the stairs. "FREEZE!!!" They yelled just as the doors closed. They heard the sound of lasfire and orange blobs of melting metal appeared on the door, but the lift rose up and they escaped before any more shots could get through.
Paula looked at the panel. "So um... what floor are we going up to?"
Caroline stretched her arms in the cramped space. "Should be at the top so... floor 875."
Ekaterina sighed. "...wonderful. Any chance of them cutting the rope before we reach the top?"
"Unlikely. I doubt they have the required cutting tools at the top, plus trying to drop the elevator would only further destabilise the buildings deteriorating structural integrity."
The speakers called out each floor as they passed. "Floor... ... ... 3... floor... ... ... 4... floor... ... ... 5... floor... ... ... 6... fl-"
Caroline raised her bolt pistol and shot the speaker.