Faith and Betrayal
Shades of the Past - "The Mechanic" (Blood, Sand, and Steel)
Sector Valiant, Hive Solomon
6 Years Ago
The rancid air within the sewers was especially awful today as thick clouds of smog began to fill the tunnels. The sound of engines revving echoed through every corridor and shook the foundations of the buildings above. This didn’t stop the massive crowd from gathering on hastily built platforms to watch the spectacle unfold before them.
The large sewage system had been drained of its vile and radioactive contents leaving a large system of caves and tunnels to be used as a makeshift track. Dozens of motorbikes ranging in all shapes and sizes sped along the slick tunnel walls in a series of dangerous and unforgiving races. The citizens of Solomon, who usually had to be prodded into every facet of their daily life, gleefully flocked to watch the excitement unfold. With every overtake and subsequent fiery crash, a booming cheer filled the cluttered underground.
Gunn rested lazily as he slumped against an abandoned engine beneath the platforms. The reverberations of the engines and the noise of the crowd didn’t stop him from closing his eyes and letting himself drift into a light slumber. The still burning butt of an Iho-stick dangled dangerously from his lips, threatening to drop onto his oil-stained shirt and set the sleeping teenager ablaze. Before that could happen, Gunnwas rudely awakened by a shout from a familiar face.
“Let’s go Frankie!” A young girl stood over his slumped form wearing a scowl beneath the layers of oils and dust covering her face. “We ain’t paying you to sit around all day!”
“You barely pay me at all!” Gunn spat the butt from his mouth and coughed as he tried to shake himself awake. The woman let out a disgusted grunt and began to stomp off toward the race’s pits. Not wanting to risk losing the only job he’d had in months, the boy quickly followed wearing a scowl of his own.
The two made their way through the crowed motorcade of broken bikes and angry mechanics until arriving at their own station. A large beaten-down bike had just come to a stop and the burly rider was busy lifting himself from the machine. Without so much as a word, the rider threw his helmet to the mechanic standing before him and stormed off. As the two approached, the mechanic sighed and looked toward Gunn’s companion.
“It could have been worse. Glanston clipped him on the last turn and sent him right into a wall. Still took third though.” He said, clearly impressed. The two quickly began to rip the worn panels from the bike as they set to work repairing it.
Gunn pulled a wrench from his meager toolbelt and was about to join them when he heard a commotion behind him. Another rider had recently arrived and was shouting in frustration at a mechanic before him. Apparently the rider blamed his poor performance on shoddy workmanship and it wasn’t before long before violence erupted. The rider slammed the mechanic to the ground and began to furiously stomp the man beneath his boots, all the while yelling at the top of his lungs.
Gunn’s fist curled around the wrench and he began to take slow steps toward the scene. Fortunately, two enforcers appeared at the pit’s edge and the rider quickly calmed down. Without so much as an apology, he tossed his helmet at the whimpering prone form beneath him and stormed off. As other mechanics rushed to the man’s aid, Gunn allowed his grip on the wrench to loosen and he turned back to his work. His eyes quickly met those of his boss, who was watching him with a stern glare. Gunn picked up speed and let his gaze fall to the floor, knowing that he faced another lecture about minding his own business later that evening.
Race Pits – Nexus of Shadows
Gunn grunted as he was painfully shoved from behind. Turning, he saw the fearful look of another slave attempting to catch his balance after the collision. The two Wyches ushering the group along spoke a few words Gunn couldn’t understand and pushed the slave again. The entire group picked up pace and soon found themselves entering a large open stadium.
Above them, a huge crowed roared with excitement as sleek skimmers sped past. The sound of the engines filled the air and threatened to drown out the cries of the audience. Gunn couldn’t help but look up at the sea of cheering faces with a smile. He might enjoy getting to fight in the arena sometimes, but this was his true home. His hands gripped the small spattering of tools which had been trust into his arms earlier in a rush of adrenaline and anticipation.
“Will you stop pushing me?” Demanded the short slave Gunn was walking behind. He looked down to see the annoyed face of Kelson staring up at him. “I already gotta walk twice as far as you, I don’t need you stomping all over me as well!”
“No, we gotta walk the same distance- you just got them short stumpy legs that make it seem longer!” Gunn smiled at his jest but it was clear that the Squat was not in a joking mood.
“Maybe I’ll get lucky and someone will cut your legs off someday. Then we’ll see how fast you walk with stumps!” Kelson spit his words in annoyance as he struggled to keep pace with the others. Gunn merely laughed at the Squat’s words.
“Like that would ever happen- I’m just too fast! I’d dodge anything that came at me.” Gunn mimed a juke to the left, all the while laughing to himself.
Before Kelson could muster a reply, the group came to the edge of the track and the Wyches pointed to a small clearing on the other side. It was clear that this was the track’s pit station from the equipment and personnel running about. Multiple skimmers were currently being maintained by a handful of slaves under the watchful glare of the Dark Eldar, and Gunn’s group was destined to join them.
With a shove, the Wyches pushed the group forward and the slaves began to cross their length of track toward the pits while their escorts remained behind. As the group neared the halfway point, a loud roar from the crowd could be heard as three skimmers sped around the corner. The screams of their engines filled the stadium as the riders battled to overtake one another. Gunn felt himself pulled forward just as the speeding skimmers passed him. With a sickening thud, Gunn felt the slave behind him slam into one of the machines as they thundered past. The poor slave’s body tumbled through the air and landed in a bloody mess near the slumped forms of Gunn and Kelson.
A loud cry of excitement rained down from the spectators above as Gunn and Kelson stared at each other. Blood dripped down their faces and pieces of bone and brain dotted their clothing. Gunn muttered a quick thanks to the Squat through his staggered breaths and Kelson shot him a furious glare. Before either could move, strong arms grabbed them and pulled them to safety.
“Welcome to the raceway.” A large slave covered in oil and missing an eye stood over them. “First rule, don’t stand on the tracks.”
“Yeah,” Kelson shot out, “We understand that!”
“Good, you’d be surprised how many don’t.” The large man looked at the slumped body of the dead slave. Two other slaves were busy trying to drag it off the track as another set of skimmers came into view. “I hope you two are worth all this trouble. You won’t be working on any of the Dark Eldar’s rides- just the trash they like to send out for sport from time-to-time. You work hard and you might get out of this alive.” The man extended a small wrench to the prone form of Gunn.
“Welcome home, Frankie…” Gunn muttered to himself as he took the wrench and pushed himself off the ground.