Clarke was going to one of the Deema collectives, small illegal farms growing the popular narcotic, deema seeds.
The deal quickly goes sour however, when a unknown third party crashes through the gates. A long battle begins between the three sides while a sandstorm rages, the collective sounds the alarm and hole up in their compound, while Clarke and Tycho, the contact Rik mentioned, try to get out alive. They get ahold of the deema seed they were sent to get, but as they are exiting the farm they are captured and knocked out!
When they come to they are locked in a small shed, but our heroes manage to break out and head for freedom. During escape Tycho is wounded by a shot and Clarke is forced to carry him to the truck as they again try and make off with the deema seed.
Getting as far as last time, the truck gives out when it crashes trough the recently repaired gates. Clarke drags Tycho to the Red Death while he keeps shooting at their pursuers.
They get out, and a few hours later, after a much needed visist to an auto-doc, they decide to team up for a while, since Clarke had heard of a convoy contract with the local Unity guards.
As it turned out, the local Unity was very thigh-lipped about who they were transporting and even though Clarke has his missgivings about their secrecy, he and Tycho had met up with the convoy.
If a single apc was allowed to be called a convoy..
"Is this all of you? where is the rest?" Clarke shouted to the troopers.
"We're it. Why do you think we had to put out a contract for assistance with this baby-sitting?" the sweating trooper replied, taking a swig from his canteen.
"Most of the way is clear, it's only the last bit we have to worry about. Jump up on the back and we'll get going." his sergeant snapped.
"We've come this far partner, a shame to turn back now." Tycho said with an easy smile as he hauled himself onto the back of the vehicle.
"Yeah, I guess so." Clarke followed his ally.
About an hour later:
Clarke couldn't agree more, the place was the first real cover since they'd left the town. The dark shadows and dead spots created by the rocks and sparse vegetation was perfect for an ambush.
"You could say that again, but it's the job" Clarke shrugged, the uneasy feeling building in the pit of his stomach.
They didn't seem to stop when they caught sight of the Unity vehicle. A bad sign, a really bad sign..
As the convoy slowly keeps advancing, Tycho suddenly catches some movement in the corner of his eye. "Watch out, Ambush!" he yells instinctivly.
Before anyone had a chance to react, they can all see their ambushers. It's the blood cult, the madmen who attacked the deema collective.
The group of sword maidens start pushing the big concrete dividers onto the road, creating a roadblock which they hide behind, keeping out of the apc machinegunner's sights.
The Unity vehicle goes off road in a big cloud of dust, and the troopers dismount with trained efficency.
The gap between the roadblock and the big rock next to it is more than enough to take aim at the cultists..
The sound of their assault rifles drown out all other noise as they open fire into the flank of the maidens.
Dropping flat or throwing themselves behind whatever cover they can find, the sword maidens are all pinned down, but only bruised, not dead.
The driver of the apc aim the machinegun over at the speeding truck, scratching paint and making the pick-up's driver nervous but fails to inflict any real damage.
His new gauss rifle preforms just as good as the old one, maybe even a bit better. The heavy rounds slam into the midst of the maidens, knocking one to the ground and tearing two others to bloody ribbons.
Tycho runs along the other flank, his pistols booming.
Quantity being a quality all of it's own, his barrage manages to force another maiden to press further into cover, but none fall of their wounds.
She's too close for the guards to have time to fire, but the soldier she charges grabs his knife and meets her.
Trusting his armour, he leaves an opening for the maiden. When she takes it, he steps into the attack, stabbing her in the throat. The sword knocks up a gust of dust when it hits the ground.
Attempting to do better than her superior, another maiden charges in, sword swinging.
She is quickly beaten back by the Unity guards, but too wary to fall for the same trick as her fellow maiden.
On the other side of the big rock formation, one of the pickups screech to a halt, disembarking cultists charging out before it's comes to a full stop.
Heedless of the incoming fire from the Unity patrol, they open up with all they have. The combined fire manages to wreck the apc, even if it hits preciously little else while their incinerator drives a single guard into cover behind the wreck.
With the apc knocked out, the cultists saw an opportunity to deal with the next high level threat to their goals, Clarke.
Two cultists leveled their rifles and started blasting, shots filling the air. Clarke was obscured by the tall grass, but it didn't do much to stop the bullets. A few slammed into the armour, ripping through a few layers of plasteel and wiring before going trough Clarke and exiting on the other side. The wound was sealed withing a second, but it still hurt like a bitch. "I just had this repaired" Clarke thought, gritting his teeth against the pain for a second before the suits injected the trauma cocktail.
The first of the cultists haven't got time to turn towards the sound of gunfire before he's dropped, a hole smoking where his left eye used to be. His death-rattle is enough of a warning to let the rest of the group throw themselves flat, pinned but alive.
One of the last two maidens isn't so lucky and she falls to the ground, out of the fight.
Daring a peek out from the cover of the roadblock, the last maiden quickly dodges back as a swarm of bullets misses her by a hair.
In a desperate attempt to break out, the pickup shot off towards the edge of the plateu. Unity troopers cursed and threw themselves out of the way as the truck almost runs them down.
The maiden is kept locked into her cover, the shots driving her to the ground, hugging whatever cover she can find..
The bounty hunter keeps flanking the main cultist group. "Tycho, move in and secure the VIP! Get him out of the line of fire!" Tycho's comms cuts out as Clarke's transmission ends.
Suddenly one of the cultists throw himself to the ground, a frightened yelp can be heard coming from him. Nobody was shooting, but Tycho noticies a wierd smell and thinks he saw the air around the VIP warping. "Strange, but I must be seeing things" He thought..
With their adversaries keeping their heads down, the guards can take the time to aim properly and it shows.
Controlled bursts rip into the tanks of the incinerator, immolating the cultist carrying it. Two more fall over clutching new wounds.
"Good shooting boys!" The sergeant chuckles as he replaces his clip.
On the other side of the road, Clarke have a good position to fire on the last cultist left after the successful attack by the guards.
His aim is a bit off, he knocks the cultist on his behind, but the damage is superficial. At least it will keep his head down a while longer.
The second bullfrog's driver finally gets his truck back in gear and speeds to support the lone cultist in the grass.
Out of the truck jumps another 5 cultists, and one even carry a machinegun!
Wasting no time, the machinegunner opens up, his great gun booming as it hurls a bunch of slugs at the guards.
The rest of the cultists add their assault rifles to the mix, but they're barely noticable next to the big gun.
Caught out in the open, the Unity guards doesn't stand a chance.
The hardsuits deflect several of the smaller bullets, but the machinegun's bullets punch through them.
Two of the troopers that had been driven into cover by the speeding truck is saved from the slaughter wrought by the hailstorm of bullets.
"Finish the mission son, that's an order!" The sergeant's comms goes dead, the suit's stims were not enough to keep him fighting.
Realsing that the cultists haven't forgotten all about him, Clarke is soon forced to duck back behind the rocks when automatic fire starts blowing up all around him!
Tycho swears as he sees most of the guard go down. He yells for the VIP to get over to him, but it seems the man either can't hear him or he's just ignoring him..
The second truck speeds off the plateu. Is he running away? Or are there more cultists awaiting nearby?
Thrown a few feet back, Clarke tries his best to keep from passing out, holding out for the cool rush of the trauma stimms. When they hit, it feels like being kicked by a horse in the brain, but he is used to it by now.
"Boss, you solid?" Tycho asks over the comms. "I'm alive, if that's what you mean. Being shot is nothing new though." Clarke manages to reply, avoiding deep breaths so as not to antagonize his bruised ribs.
The lone guard is in a thight spot, with the rest of the cultists focusing their fire on him.
He's dug in good however, and even though he can't get a chance to shoot back, the cultists can't hit him either.
His last comrade from the guard start making his way around the big rock, hoping to flank their enemy.
Both of them are surprised for a split second, but Tycho's guns are already in his hands. A single shot echoes over the plateu. At this range, the cultist woman's sternum is caved in when the heavy slug rips through her.
Another terrified scream could be heard over by the roadside, as the machinegunner suddenly drops his gun, clutching his face and almost tearing into the flesh.
He sinks into a foetal position, haunted by terrors unseen to everyone but himself.
What's causeing these attacks, are the cultists just mad, or is something else at work?
Turning instinctivly, he sees the VIP up close behind him. He wasn't wearing a mask or helmet as he'd first though. The green, scaley enlongated face wasn't human. He was a Saurian.
"Whoa, you scared me half to death friend" Tycho managed to blurt out, the initial shock of the alien's precence receding.
"It's allright friend, just try to stay close" Tycho said, this time a little more collected.
Clarke opened up a comms channel, telling Tycho to run as soon as he opened fire. Barely a second after the link dropped, gunfire again echoes across the sands.
Clarke's precise bursts saw through three of the cultists trying to use the roads bank for cover before he turns his attention to the
As the the gunfire rages, Tycho sprinted past the open ground and into the high grass on the other side of the road.
Having finally found a better position, the last cultist shoot a long stream of rounds against the Unity guardsman taking cover by the wrecked apc.
This time he doesn't miss. Not even the sturdy protection of the suit worn by the guard can stop all those bullets, and so he is knocked down, out of the fight.
At this time the rumble of an bullfrog's engine can be heard again, as it comes speeding back onto the plateu. The last guardsman franticly warns the others that they have more incoming. "Just another day on the job, eh kid?" Clarke responds, trying to keep the guard from panicking.
One of the cultists over on the other side of the road suddenly starts screaming and babbling hysterically, throwing himself on the ground in a display of prostration before some unseen thing.
"Are they all mad, or could the Saurian really be a psion" Clarke thought to himself. He wouldn't have long to think about it..
"Surrender yourself to the true gods of this universe." They screamed as they trained their guns on Tycho. "Shit, they're going to take him hostage" Clarke thought. "Or worse."
"Hey now boys, no need for them guns. We can talk like civilized folk, can't we" Tycho said, while slowly reaching for one of his guns.
The auto-injector with trauma stimms couldn't keep him on his feet, but it likely saved his life as it stopped the worst of the shock and bleeding in a few seconds.
Tycho was fighting to keep conscious.
Clarke was already coming around his cover, trying to get a response from his ally over the comms.
When he came into view, Clarke drew a sigh of relief, the suit HUD informed him that Tycho was showing signs of life, even if he was in a sorry state.
Toggeling the fire selector to full auto, a thight swarm of tungsten rounds came flying at the cultist. At what's more or less point blank range for such a weapon, the carnage was swift and brutal, as all but one cultist was hit. They fell, and none got back up..
His rushed shots forces both cultists to the ground, but none of them are seriously injured.
A flash and a blur comes speeding by, slamming straight into the foremost cultist.
Trying to block the blow that came out of nowhere, the cultist thrusts his weapon forward, hoping to slow the momentum of the blow.
But when the staff connects with the rifle, the gun just disintergrates!
Continuing unhindered, the staff slams into the chest of the cultist, atomizing a great chunk of his torso with it.
Now short of most of a heart and half a lung, the cultist falls over dead.
He doesn't kill him, but the chosen cultist is forced to seek cover, pinning him in place.
"Tycho, are you green? Can you move?" the bounty hunter asks between rounds of fire.
"I reckon' I could if I have to, boss" came Tycho's reply over the comms, he was too weak to shout right now.
Sprinting the last few steps to his foe, he drew his knife.
The cultist hadn't pulled out a weapon, but one of his arms was a long blade.
"You can't stop us hunter, we are backed by a force beyond your feeble imagination" he spat, madness in his eyes.
"We'll just have to see about that" Clarke replied, as he launched himself at the chosen.
The fight was fierce, but as they grappled on the ground the chosen didn't have enough room to swing and rupture Clarke's tougher armour. In the end, the power-assisted blows from his gauntlets caved in the face of the cultist.
Bracing Tycho against his armoured bulk, Clarke started helping the hobbling smuggler along.
They needed to get their VIP to the next settlement, and the first gates were just within reach, if they could get him to stop chasing after the last cultist that is.
"Will you come with us now please?" Clarke asked, the strain of battle starting to be heard in his voice. "As soon as we put this last rabid one of your kind down, hunter." Said the Saurian, as heat shimmered off him yet again.
Their last foe tried to hide behind the tall grass, laughing and crying in equal measure. When the Saurians power hit him, he took of running, away from our heroes.
His laughter was cut short as a swarm hit him in the back of the neck, throwing him forward as his own momentum carried him a few steps further on legs that no longer responded.
He collapsed with a sigh.
The last of the ambush was defeated, they could now enter through the first gates to the settlement.
Meeting up by the gate, the ones still standing.
"I've called the local Unity peacekeepers, a medi-van will be here to pick up my comrades soon. I hope they all pull trough." The guardman gave a sigh of relief.
"Hunter, take this pass, it will allow you to collect the reward for the contract, as well as admit you through the final gates into the city proper. I'll stay here and wait with my squad." he added, handing over a non-descript passkey to Clarke.
"Thank you trooper, I'll let the local brass know what your squad did here." Clarke said as he took the passkey, squeezing the hand of the trooper.
The guardsman walked over to his comrades, all gathered by the side of the road. The rest of the small group at the gate watched him go.
"So you have a name friend? Calling you friend is starting to feel a bit funny." Tycho tried, looking at the Saurian.
"Where are my manners? I am Tai'lor Ka'Ras, but most of your kind call me Tai. Pleased to meet you." he answered while absently picking at the scabbed remains of blood under his eyes.
"Well Tai, I'm Tycho, and the boss that saved our skins over there is Clarke" Tycho reached out a hand and Tai took it, giving it a firm shake.
"I thank you for saving my life, without you two the convoy would have been overrun." the Saurian said as he shook Clarke's hand as well.
"I don't mean to pry, but are you one of the gifted?" Clarke asked, looking intently at Tai.
"If you mean a psion, then yes, I am. Is that a problem?" he shot back.
"Not at all, worked with a few of you back in Unity, just not so common around here that's all" Clarke replied apologetically.
"We should head into town boss, I think I need to see a doc again" Tycho reminded Clarke, punctuating his point with a nasty-sounding cough.
"That doesn't sound too good, you're right. Let's get going, shall we?" Clarke offered.
"Let's go then." Tai assented.
A few hours and a doctors visit later, in the hotell bar:
"Thanks for setting us up with such swanky digs Tai!" Tycho, now more or less restored, lifed his glas to the Saurian.
"Nonsense, the least I could do. But I must confess, I brought you here for a reason." Tai said with a smile.
"You back to killing your liver already? Seriously?" Clarke came walking into the bar, fresh from a much needed shower.
"Relax a little boss, they can always grow me a new one!" the smuggler chuckled and ordered another one.
"What's your ulterior motive for all this then Tai?" Clarke asked while he sat himself down.
"You boys seems like you can handle some trouble, so I have some work for you, if you are so inclined" the Saurian finished his drink, and turned to face Clarke.
"I need someone to accompany me off this rock, as I've overstayed my welcome. Those cultists didn't hit the convoy by chance, they were after me specifically.
I've tried to file a order of protection with the Unity here on Churchill 7, but you know how long it can take for them to actually get their asses out of the wagon."
"Where do you need to go?" Clarke asked, taking a sip from his drink.
"There's a planet not far from here, you won't have to leave the system. It's known as T-77/4 in the Unity logs. Habitable but hostile." Tai answered.
"So I guess we need to go soon, on account of your fan-club?" Tycho managed between gulps.
"Very much so. I'm afraid we have one more problem. We need a ship."
"A public transport won't do I guess?" Clarke offered.
"Not where we are going, no. Not really a tourist destination you see."
"I see, well, then we better start thinking of a way to get ahold of a ship, don't we? Clarke smiled
How will they be able to get a ship? Are they really safe from the cultists in the town? And what will await them on the planet T-77/4?
Tune in next time to see what happens to our heroes next!
Til next time!