Faith and Betrayal
Lost Solace - Part One
Roughly 35 Kilometers Outside Hive Solace
Planet Solace - 13 days ago
"Move! Faster!" Inquisitor Sand's voice was barely audible over the violent tremors and constant crashing reverberating throughout the tunnel. His boots slammed heavily against the dark rocky terrain, while his hands clawed against the rough cave walls in an attempt to pull himself forward. His strained breath mixed with that of his acolytes following close behind, each struggling to keep ahead of the rampaging chaos chasing them.
Flak moved with surprising grace within the narrow tunnel, especially considering the narrow field of vision his singular eye provided him. He could make out a large bulky shadow moving through the darkness ahead of him which he assumed was the form of the Inquisitor's bodyguard. A quick fluttering of a robe provided the location of the tech priest a few meters behind the shadowy mass. Chancing a quick glance behind, Flak saw the doubled over form of father Lupus struggling to keep up with the pack. Large slabs of rock fell and crashed within meters of the cleric as the collapsing tunnel threatened to overtake him.
Without hesitation, Flak turned on his heels and jumped toward Lupus. Grabbing a fistful of the cleric's robes, Flak braced himself and heaved the man forward. The force of the action nearly sent Lupus sprawling upon the cave floor, but he managed to catch himself and continue moving onward.
"Move, now!" Flak barked, raising his flamer and staring into the roaring black abyss behind them. With the click of a trigger, streaks of blazing promethium spread across the cave walls and illuminated the nightmare behind them. Deep within the cascading torrent of clashing stones and falling debris, huge metal talons ripped through the earth as the mechanical monstrosity sped towards them. As Flak stared into the glowing eyes of death, he felt himself running once again across the hard rocky ground.
"Keep up, Stannis!" The shade barked, it's shadow fluttering briefly across the boy's face as he ran. High on the cliff above him, the vidicare assassin bounded forward in chase of their prey. Flak, having taken the low road, struggled not to trip on the shallow canyon's uneven terrain. "Twenty meters and closing!"
Flak's breath caught in his throat as he pushed himself forward with all his speed. He could hear the clutter of hoofs against the rock and the twisting canyon provided brief glimpses of the beast ahead from time-to-time. As the boy's heart pounded in his chest and he felt he was about to collapse, his prey lost its footing on the slick rocky surface and crashed hard upon the ground. Within seconds, Flak had bounded upon it's back and pulled it down hard, locked a vice grip.
Laughter echoed through the canyon as the vindicare assassin strode upon the scene. Flak struggled to maintain his grip on the kid as the small goat bleated and struggled to get free.
"Keep a hold of him, boy." The assassin pulled a small device from his belt as he approached the fray. Flak tightened his grip as the assassin pulled the kid's head downward in a single effortless motion. The device gave a quick click as it was pressed against the goat's ear, and within seconds the beast was scrambling away. The sound of hoofs on rock echoed around the empty canyon as the kid bleated its annoyance at the fresh tag dangling from its ear.
"Good work." The assassin said as he pulled Flak from the ground. "I thought you were going to lose it back there."
"Almost did." Flak panted while brushing himself off. "Lucky break that it tripped."
"Luck had nothing to do with it. Scared prey always misstep when they're being chased. You just have the have patience and the composure to catch up and corner them when it happens. It's all about keeping your cool under pressure."
"And what if I'm the one being chased?" Flak asked looking up at the man beside him.
"If you're being chased, you've done your job wrong." The assassin's face was stern. The stubble on his chin hid the aged wrinkles on his skin, but there was still hard experience shining through his old eyes. He took Flak by the shoulder and pulled him close. "Remember, when it comes to a chase involving life and death, the first one to panic always loses. Never let anything get into your head and you should always be able to remain one step ahead of anyone- or anything." He added quickly.
Flak grinned as he looked at the man with admiration. He was about to speak when his breath caught in his chest and a muffled cough escaped his lips. A metallic talon protruded from the assassin's arm and disappeared into the soft flesh of Flak's abdomen. Warm blood spewed upon the rocky ground as the assassin's features melted away to reveal a cold metallic face and lean robotic body. Flak could feel his bones behind crushed as the robotic figure squeezed his shoulder and withdrew the bloodstained talon. A sharp screeching sound blasted from the construct and Flak shut his eyes in terror as he felt the talon once again rip into his flesh.
Jagged rock shards slammed into Flak's back just as he felt the cool breeze of open air wash over him. The light of the tunnel's exit loomed ahead, but the rampaging terror was nearly upon them. With his hands pressed firmly on the back of the struggling Lupus, Flak gave the cleric a strong shove and thrusted the man out of the tunnel. Just as Flak's boot reached the warm sand of the planet's surface, he felt more jagged shards pierce the fuel canister on his weapon and the resulting explosion knocked him off his feet. He fell hard onto the dirt, a long string of flames eating away at the armor on his back. Overhead, a guncutter streaked across the sky as the cave entrance exploded and collapsed in on itself.
Flak lay motionless in the dirt as the small flames continued to spread across his back. Beneath him, Lupus struggled to pull himself out from the guardsman's heavy frame. As the dust settled, Both men were able to pull themselves up and join the rest of the group. As Flak brushed the flames away, he stood in silence as the silhouette of Hive Solace filled the horizon with pillars of black smoke and ash.
"Let's move." Inquisitor Sand didn't waste a second, and without a single look back at the smoking crater they had just crawled out from, the ragged group began racing toward the burning hive before them.