Artist: 30 Seconds to Mars
'I won't suffer, be broken...
- I'm not going to stand here and just let you pass.'
Standing there in front of the gateway, preparing to hold the line against the hordes of enemies that were sure to swarm down on us in the coming minutes, muttering to myself was the only way to steel my nerves and to stop myself from running. Everyone here knew that it wasn't a victory that could be one by killing all of them, or forcing them to retreat - they were a numberless force that feared what they were being driven by more than anything, especially a ramshakle band of brothers such as ours. God forbid that the drivers should come to face us.
No, the victory here would be determined over how long we could buy for the main force, and the refugees that ran forth with them. Those that we had picked up at the gates of Telmore, and the plains of Gerthemreai - fighting off the skirmishers that had ranged ahead of the horde, taking the easy pickings for themselves and identifying the tougher nuts to crack. Apparently we fell into that category.
Crouching in the trench, I could feel the tramping of the army through the ground - a million million footfalls. Looking down the line, the others were sharpening and loading their respective weapons - apart from Brother Serinel. He was murmuring his battle prayers and weaving spells around his gauntlets - then as he heaved his warhammer from where it stood upright in the mud, it glowed with power. As he walked down the trench towards me, the other eight men in our squad stood ready, as the horns of the enemy sounded, sending deep bass notes humming towards us through the darkness. If any of the main force heard those, they surely would have muttered a quick prayer for our strength and endurance before picking up the pace.
'Are you ready, Captain Gared?' Serinel offered his hand to help me up, which I gladly took. Hauling me to my feet, I brushed myself off and pulled one of my curved blades from it's sheath.
'Please, in a place like this? It's Caspian - theres no need for formalities with what's approaching.'
A deep hearty laugh echoed through the night as it exploded from Serinel's chest, and he slapped me heavily on the back, enough to make me stumble. Sometimes I forgot how tough these Monks were, despite his build and weapon choice.
'True enough - and with what you are doing here, you have certainly earned my respect enough to merit that. Though I must ask, with your position, your family, your estate - I mean, I have nothing to loose if I die here, but you have everything! Why would you want to loose that?'
Serinel's speech was interupted by the cry from the lookout. All of us stepped up over the trench, some to mount their guns on the ridge while the rest - including myself and Brother Serinel - vaulted stright over, our weapons ready. We were going to meet the storm head on, and kill as many of the bastards as we could before we were overrun. For that wasn't just pessimistic thinking - it was a certainty.
'You ready, Brother?' Pulling my pistol from its holster and making sure my second sword was secured in its holster, I flicked the other one around in my hand and smirked at the monk, who was trying to hold a serious face but failing. He liked battle too much. But then again, so did I.
'As I'll ever be, Captain. But you didn't answer my question - grant a man his dying wish?' The fact that he said this with a grin plastered from one cheek to the other couldn't fail to make me laugh. But it was an easy enough question to answer. And as the chitinous spawn of hell descended on us, the answer came easily to my lips, as easy as the war-cry had so many times before.
'Simple, my friend. FOR KARKETHLIA!!!!!'
The place they had chosen to defend was probably the best possible position they would have wished for - in the bottom of a valley with unscaleable sides, and a gate three bodies wide - unfortunately without any doors that they could barricade, so they had settled for the trench. So as the first row of insectoid vermin broke over the defenders, they held a solid advantage.
I was immediately lost in the first wave of the enemy, my sword singing in my hand, my pistol spitting death into the faces of my opponents. Heads exploded with each shot, and gore rained down on me as I hacked off limbs and cut some of them in half clean through, but none of that mattered now. I would never have to clean my armour again, or get a shower to clean off the stench of bile and horrid bodily fluids. Truly these were the thoughts of a man facing death - but what was it to me, or any of the others. All I could think about as I cut through body after body and was forced back step after step was the seconds of the clock ticking by, and how many steps those who were retreating were taking for every one I had to take back towards the gate. All I could do was say - shouting, not whispering this time - the words that had brought me comfort before.
'I won't suffer, be broken, get tired or wasted, surrender to nothing... a new day is coming, and I am FINALLY FREE!!!'
At that we lept back over the mound into the trench, and Brother Serinal triggered the flamethrowers we had positioned to cover us if we had to fall back. The front line of the enemy screamed as they were incinerated, as did those behind them as the drivers kept pushing them forward into the flames, seemingly oblivious to their demise.
The six of us that were left - four had fallen to the pincers and claws of our opponents, and were burning along with them now - ran back towards the gate. Before the fight had begun, we knew that if we had to run back from the trench, all we could do was to stand two abreast in the doorway and fight, replacing those who fell until all of us are slain. But things didn't go exactly according to plan.
Because we had been expecting to fight another wave of the chitinous spawn, but when we turned to fight that wasn't what met our eyes. Instead, standing on the charred remains of the horde was what we had all feared - a driver.
It stood at least nine feet high, its entire body covered in exoskeleton armour from crest to hooves. Its four arms bore various weapons - a barbed whip bonded to its upper right forearm, a huge claymore slung across its back, various guns and knives strapped onto two bandoleers in an 'X' across its chest, and each three fingers on each hand tipped with lethal curved claws, designed to rip, tear and shred whatever it got them into. Right now, that was most likely us.
It wasted no time - giving us a second to acknowledge its presence, it dashed forwards. There was only one straggler behind me - this thing grabbed his head in its bottom two limbs and crushed it between them as it roared in our faces. Blood splattered my face as I dived forward, grabbing my fallen comrade's gun before it hit the ground. With surprise on my side, I unloaded a clip into its chest, aiming for its joints where its armour was weak. To my own surprise and astonishment, as the last bullet flew from the overheating barrel, it sheared through flesh and bone, severing one of the limbs still covered in blood from delivering that crushing blow.
'Run! Run! Fall back to the others, you don't stand a chance here!' Brother Serinel shouted at the final four soldiers who stood shocked behind him, hefting his weapon as the last of them stepped through the gate. He murmured a different battle prayer than earlier, and white energy flowed from his hammer to form a barrier over the gateway before running to join me in facing this creature.
'That should slow them after we die, right?' I asked him as I jackknifed to my feet, jumping back as the driver lashed his whip, sending it crashing down onto the spot I had resided in seconds before. This 'thing' roared bestially, but Brother Serinel simply roared back and swung his hammer, hitting the beast flat in the chest and sending him flying into the valley wall. It grunted heavily as it pulled itself out - I could see the cracks in it's chest armour where the Brother's hammer had landed - but it was fighting back in a flash, backhanding Serinel with such force that I was shocked that he wasn't sent flying, but instead skidded back, leaving twin lines in the dust. Before he could even raise his hammer to defend himself, the beast was there, drawing a dagger from its bandoleer and sending it flying towards Brother Serinel's face. I could see his eyes widen in shock, and before I knew what I was doing I had raised my pistol and fired six times - once to knock the dagger off course, four into the sockets of the beast's arms, and a final one into the centre of the cracks the Brother's hammer had made. The driver reeled back in surprise at the speed of the shots - I was stunned into silence as well - but Serinel didn't stop. As the creature's limbs fell useless to its sides, the brother swung his hammer, uppercutting the driver so hard that its jaw shattered inside its skin, leaving a large lump hanging down beneath its face.
Again I jumped to my feet, pulling my second blade - without the notches the other had recieved in the past... I didn't even know. The beast was lying still on the floor, its chest rising and falling quickly, blood pouring from its wounds. Without hesitation, I stood beside it and swung the blade down with as much force as I could muster in my tired state. This blade was covered in simillar runes as the weapons of the Brotherhood - it cut straight through the drivers neck in one swing.
The pair of us collapsed against each other, the things head in my hands while Brother Serinel saying words over his hammer that caused flames to fly from it, devouring the enemy's flesh in seconds.
'I can't believe we did it.' He slumped down against one side of the gateway, his hammer's long handle resting across his lap.
'I know - I mean, against a driver! You basically took it down on your own!'
'Are you kidding? I would have been dead if it wasn't for your shooting! How can you do something that fast?'
'To be honest? I have no id-'
I didn't have time to finish that sentance. Because as I did, the ground before us exploded outward, and the biggest creature I had ever seen emerged from the earth. It was covered in mandibles and claws, at least thirty feet long, with a giant mouth at one end. It leaned over, with hundreds of red eyes glaring down at the two of us.
I turned to look at Brother Serinel - his eyes were wide, and I could see the whites of them easily from where I was sitting, but then they narrowed and he grinned.
'Do you want me to take this one?'
'And let you have all the glory? Not a chance.'
And with that, we hefted our weapons and charged, the only battle cry we knew on our lips.