From the Depths, to the Light
The Queen stood in the light of the window.
He had escaped.
Five hundred thousand Locust had failed to stop him.
Who was he?
She didn't know, nor would she ever find out. The Locust had been sent to find him, to hunt him down. He would not be taken alive this time.
Wes' feet pounded on the hard, jagged stone floor of the caverns. He had been running for nearly nine hours. Blood seeped from between his armour joints, and the drops of blood were shaken off into the darkness or ran down his legs. The battered, bloody soles of his feet burned from running through a shallow puddle of Imulsion
Still, he would not give up.
The gentle music settled over the white marble ballroom, as seeming hundreds of nattily-attired gentlemen and women danced over the floor.
A single man stood near the white-clothed table, a glass of punch in his hand. His flawless white-and-black tuxedo looked oddly out of place on him, and his entire air was that of one out of place. He tried to blend into the background, wishing that the whole event was be over with.
A woman stepped up to the table, and selected a glass of punch. She nodded when she noticed Wesley. He returned the gesture, unsure of what to say. He was startled by a sudden voice behind him.
He turned to see an old man walk up to him. “Good evening, Mr. Turner.”
“Come to get on the old man’s side, eh? Talk him into that deal?” He chuckled.
Wesley was slightly annoyed by the old man’s tone, but remained polite. “Actually, Mr. Turner, I attended simply to be polite. Mr. Harper invited me, and I felt obligated.”
Turner shook his head. “Don’t get your hopes up. Harper invited you to be a businessman. He couldn’t remember who you are right now if his fortunes depended on it.” he chuckled again.
“Turner, you old devil!” The two turned to see a another similarly-clad man walk up to them
“Bill! Great party, as usual.”
“Glad you enjoyed it. Say, what’s happening with that real estate deal? I told you that was a real goldmine, eh? Didn’t I”
“It’s working out good, Bill. Got any other deals like that?”
“If I do, I’m going to make some money off them myself.” He laughed.
Wesley cleared his throat. “Good evening, Mr. Turner.”
The two turned to the third party. Harper snapped his fingers. “You must be, ah...”
“This here is Wesley Johnson, Bill.”
“Oh yes, the salesman from the woodworkers association. Listen, I’ve considered your deal, and I’m glad to tell you that I think an agreement between our companies would be beneficial to both of our people. Congratulations!”
Wesley smiled through his grimace, never liking the term “Salesman”.
“Thank you, Mr. Harper.”
“Say, what about you? I could give you a position here in the company, put you behind a desk, see if you’re as good a businessman as I think you are.”
“No thank you, Mr. Harper. I’ve just enrolled in the East Barricade Academy.”
“Want to be an officer in the army, eh? Get all the extra pay, the ladies...”
“Actually, Mr. Harper, I’ve always wanted to be a leader. I guess I always wanted the fame and glory of a General or Field Marshall.”
“Sounds good. Well, Gentleman, I’ve got guests to entertain.”
He walked off.
Sergeant Gil Lehman was the point man in his squad.
The glow from the low Seran sun settled over the ruins of the city, the ruins of which Charlie Squad now picked their way through. Several days before, the bodies of the former Charlie Squad had been found in Anteum City. But only three bodies had been found. As to the fourth member, all that remained was a bloody streak which led to an Emergence Hole.
Sergeant Wes Johnson.
Lehman looked up to the steep roofs of the buildings which flanked the squad. Once reminders of a era which had passed long before, the stone and brick buildings now stood wraithlike, slowly crumbling away.
“How come we always gotta go on these patrols?” Said one of the Gears in annoyance.
“Because you‘re so ugly, the Locust will think you must be one of them and won‘t shoot at us.” replied one of the other soldiers.
“Shut up, you two.” growled Lehman.
A loud, piercing screech suddenly rent the unnerving silence. “Take cover!” yelled Lieutenant Hunter, who had a gnasher in hand. The men leapt behind various rubble, bringing their Lancers up and aiming them at a building from which the noise had emerged.
A single Wretch burst through the doorway, running lopsidedly at the soldiers.
”Fire!” Yelled Hunter.
Three bursts of copper-jacketed Lancer rounds sliced into the Wretch, killing it before it fell. The men climbed from cover, moving to doorways for more protection. Lehman carefully inspected the buildings around, sweat running down his forehead. He didn’t want to get caught in the open when there were snipers around.
When Hunter had decided it was clear, he pressed the sub-dermal transmitter in his ear. “Control, this is Charlie. Where to?”
“You need to move through the buildings on your.... right.”
“Copy that.” He motioned with his hand. “Move out.”
Lehman trotted across the street to the doorway, throwing himself against the wall next to it. He nodded to a Gear. The Gear brought his foot up, slamming it against the doorway and knocking it away. Gil swung into the room, rifle up. “Clear.”
Lehman walked slowly through the rooms of the building, carefully sliding into each quietly. He had almost progressed through the building when a whisper came up to him.
He turned to see the Lieutenant and the Gears with their weapons aimed at a strangely-intact wardrobe, which leaned up against the wall. Hunter made several quick signals to the men, who nodded and retreated to various doorways, where they took cover. He reached slowly, so slowly, towards the doorknob of the wardrobe. Closing his hand around it, he gave it a quick yank.
A form tumbled out, but just as quickly recovered and leaped at the Lieutenant, with what looked like a jagged piece of brick in his hand.
The Lieutenant dodged the blow, knocking away the weapon and pushing the man to the ground. The man, about 30, gasped as he landed.
“Stop right now! We’re COG!” Barked Hunter, who pinned the prostrate form to the floor. He released the man, who crawled back towards the furniture from which he had emerged.
“Who are you?” asked Hunter.
“My name is Phil. I got left here when you guys pulled out.” The defiance and anger was exhibited in his manner of speech.
Hunter nodded, and turned. “Control, this is Charlie. We have a Stranded, over.”
“are you going to get me out of here?” the Stranded asked Lehman.
“If we can.”
“Copy that.” Hunter turned to Phil. “Sorry, Phil, we can’t get you.”
The man’s eyes filled with terror. “You’re not just going to leave me here!”
“Sorry, we don’t have a choice.”
“Kill me first! After you leave, the Wretches will come back!”
Hunter sighed, running his hands over his face. Finally, he turned to the man. Pulling out a Boltok from his