Battle of Haibi Chapter 20
Previous: Battle of Haibi Chapter 19: Battlestations!
Chapter 20: Siege Command
In the dusk, the sky purple over their heads, they both tapped their beaks harshly against friction fuses and flew away. The fuses burned away towards small and crude, but cleverly shaped charges set on either end of a slat in a very heavily armored louvre on top of an underground concrete structure. One charge blew with a bang that could wake the dead (Nick's left ear is still ringing), and the slat wagged on the other end it was supported on. The other charge exploded, sending it flying off into the air. On the ground under the louvre were the rocks they used to practice the next part of the operation. The two birds flapped furiously to gain altitude with their payload slung between then, the glided at a fast pace to drop their Baikal delta serum into the gap left by the demolished slat. The two birds landed on the edge of the vent, wings drooping by their sides, panting furiously.
Tess flexed her toes, while trying to keep her balance. The gesture was an adjective which translates approximately as, "fr'kin"
After a moment to recover, Nick finished, "Heavy!"
Moments later, the battle erupted around them. Maybe their little caper wasn't soon enough.
Later, the two crows are flying along about halfway up the wall, wings steady, yet they are rising in altitude. The wind is hitting the wall and rises to get over it, oblivious to the little black creatures it aids. The enemy is bombarding the wall beside them, and every few moments, they must bank and turn. One, in keeping track of the enemy ordinance, loses track of the wall. The bird dodges a Hellknight's green fireball easily, but not its explosive shockwave as it detonates upon Haibi's wall only a couple feet away.
Roku is swiftly smashing chomper after chomper with blue beams from her turret. She has noticed a Guardian who held her portal closed and navigates clumsily through the trees just outside the growing beaten zone. Roku blasts her a couple of times, noticing the rustle of leaves around her from the invisible wraiths that got thrown off. This Gaurdian roars with rage and stomps her foot, launching a flurry of fireballs into the trees around herself, then spitting one at Roku that was surprisingly accurate. It misses and dissipates into the sky behind her as Roku returns to shooting chompers.
This Guardian is very smart, Roku realizes. Could she be Lilith?
The air forces seem to be going somewhere else, and during a lull when all the targets are distant, her scope fuzzes out completely. Roku notices the focal range drop to zero, and she sees the head and eye of a bird.
"Whoa!" she shrieks, taking her hands off the controls. She opens the hatch and the bird flies in, landing on her shoulder. She loosens her mask so her voice can be heard, "Juunanaban!" she cries, "How'd you know it was me?"
The bird cocks his head impishly. It knows her. Jumps into her hand. She can't feel his feet through her glove, so she must watch.
His first gesture means "Large," then he grips her glove with his talons and flaps his wings so furiously that a few coverts come off. His second gesture means, "gun."
Big Featherwing Gun.
He hops to the scope of an independent viewer that almost nobody ever uses locally and skillfully twists the controls with his feet and zooms in on a nondescript part of the forest. He seems to double check the range, elevation and azimuth, then taps the screen twice and looks up at Roku.
Roku sighs, "I've only got four left," then squeezes her mask back down and takes the controls, steering the gun to that spot, set to thirty six kilometres range.
The bird nods.
Four green fireballs fly angrily away from her turret.
The commando stoops and rubs his finger on the floor, examining the serum in Erebus' smoldering computer room. Erebus is in the corridor outside, hopelessly oversized to fit in there. "How the heck did this crap get in here!!" the commando verily screeches in anger.
"What?" Erebus wonders.
"It's the serum from Lake Baikal that I've added to our portal cannon!" he bellows, "No wonder the f-"
The first of four huge bangs send the commando flying onto his back, and then the roof, along with tonnes of reinforced concrete comes crashing down on him.
Erebus is the only creature in the bunker large enough and strong enough to survive its total collapse. Still, he bent a three tonne beam with his head as it landed on him. Sore, lying half buried in the pile of debris, looking up at the stars and batwings circling overhead, not knowing whether or not he's dying, he moans, "How?"
"You're safer out there," Roku signs to the crow before popping the door open. The crow flies out and she closes it behind him.
"Boss, I just destroyed an enemy bunker at two-four-two thirty-six thousand out on fresh Willow Branch intel," Roku announces, "It was a big one and very well concealed."
< I'm a bit busy right now,> Samurai responds, <Sectors Six and One are having big problems.>
Roku returns to examining the Guardian, who is staring directly at her with an eyeless head. It is unnerving. Roku's vision undulates with the spectrum scanner she has set her mask to in order to protect her eyes, and so she doesn't see the portal above the Guardian right away. "Mortars, now!" she shrieks. Sensing something very wrong, she backs the turret away on its track.
Green plasma belches directly at Roku's just vacated position, missing her turret by mere centimetres, then lowering into the lip of the wall, blowing out of it such a huge bite out of the wall that Roku can see the Guardian again because there is nothing left to block her view.
Roku fires at the portal, but it is closed before she connects, instead vaporizing a flaming tree behind the Guardian. The mortar bombs land around her, injuring several of the Hellknights who stand just as tall as the truck-sized four legged creature marches ahead, almost oblivious to the artillery, some of which lands right on her magma-veined back without doing any noticeable damage.
Roku tries to track her weapon on the spot above her back where she's expecting the portal to reappear, but she's having trouble tracking a quickly moving, and at the moment, purely academic point in space.
"I have you now!!" Lilith roars as she rears up on her hind legs, using her own body to protect the portal as she opens it. Slamming her feet back down, she fires her last beam of plasma by reckoning only, confident that she will strike her target.
Her body siezes with pain as the portal is struck from well off to her left. Suddenly unable to stand, she collapses in place.
"Crap," she groans with her last breath. She dies, and moments later, her body burns up.
<Lilith is down!> Kabocha announces triumphantly.
"Yeah, well so am I," Roku grunts as she crawls from the wreckage of her turret "Why is the radio so quiet?" she asks as she regains her feet.
Stumbling, she finds herself facing north. In the far distance, battle rages. Her wings bob under her armor, "Sector One command, this is Roku-chan, looks like you could use some help."
Her radio spills with sounds of incomprehensible panic as she regains her feet again, and this time she is determined to keep them. The flyer pack lashed to the outside of her turret is, amazingly enough, intact. She takes it and her rifle.
< I've got the fort here, Roku-san,> Kabocha calls, <Take Four's roof and do what you can for them,> he orders.
Roku plants her feet and starts into a sprint at the edge of the wall. Nick joins her in formation as she leaps off the edge, smoothly deploying her flyer and turning slightly towards the roof of Defense Tower Four, just on the other side of the gigantic aqueduct which guides the river through Haibi.
Nick fights to keep his thoughts on staying with Roku, for his mind reels with the image of what he has just seen: Tess' carefully constructed imped feathers rolling away in the breeze where she lies at the base of the wall outside, smashed beyond recognition. Dead.
Next: Battle of Haibi Chapter 21: Phase Two