Back again to dabble in the written arts! I have added a bit of story work to the past 2 Dark Age games and have done so this year too! This year I plan to contribute several chapters to the story and invite you to follow it on the offical sit and here in the forum! http://livinglegends.../ll7/storyline/ (my previous work can be found in the sections for each of the previous games!)
Without further ado,
Passing the torch
The sun was low, casting long shadows across the ruins of a world that it had thrown into chaos a scant three years before. The “angry sun” they called it. Cosmic wrath, embodied in the form of massive waves of electromagnetism and radiation, had killed billions and reduced the world to a medieval ice age for the few that survived. Those who had not starved when the crops failed across the globe or rotted from the plagues that followed gathered where they could start over. Inward, toward the equator, and away from the growing ice they had traveled.
Even with so few left, conflict was inevitable. The two strongest of the survivor groups had clashed in what had once been Central America. One massive and yet indecisive battle had passed, and another was drawing to a close.
“Where is Wolf? Where is the Gladiator?” Legatus Phillips yelled over the roar of battle. “Has anyone seen him?”
Behind him his Praetorian Guard marched on the Horde’s last line of defense. It was a wide, low, black hill just short of the rail yard where they had built their camps. The hill was topped with dark obelisks and covered with the bodies of the fallen. Everything smelled of ash. Empty shipping containers, surrounded with earthen walls, lay around the hill’s base. The Horde’s warriors had used them as bunkers, slowing the Legatus’s legion. The staccato rapport of gun fire echoed from all corners as his Praetorians cleared them of their savage enemies.
A voice yelled back from the maelstrom. “Last I saw Wolf, he was running over that hill with three of his guardsmen, chasing after the Horde Tribal Elders. He’s hell bent on ending this here.” Phillips knew the voice, loudest of all the Legati: Hercules. His cavalry styled unit, the Pegasus Legion had made the camp’s edge before him, but had held at its edge waiting for support. It was the plan. A plan they wouldn’t have a chance to execute with the Imperator across the line. All hell had broken loose when The Gladiator had realized Slayer and Pestilence were outside of the defense line. Why they were was anybody’s guess.
“I want that hill yesterday! Hercules, have your men split and wrap the hill’s flanks. Praetorians, we go up the middle. Thad, I want you and that heavy machine gun on that container’s roof. Hold those berserkers down until we near the hill’s top, then get your ass up there with us!”
With a head nod, Thad shouldered his bulky weapon like it was no more than a light hunting rifle and sprinted toward the point Phillips had indicated.
“Some guys were born for this world,” Phillips said with a shake of his head.
A moment later, with his man in place, the Legatus signaled to advance. His men moved behind him in near silence. The air filled instead with the howling of Thad’s covering fire. The footing was treacherous as the hill was piled high with the bodies of fallen Horde cabal and scraps of wood. Just short of the crest, the cover fire paused, allowing silence to return. Phillips held his left arm up for a moment then waved forward signaling the final advance over the hill. Lying before them was the Hordes’ base camp, a shipping rail yard. Stacks of containers and rows of rail cars stretched out for nearly half a mile. Scattered around were fires, tents, opened crates and signs of habitation. The Hordes’ war tribes had been here nearly two years. At the base of the hill was a platform with a few chairs, and a podium. A burning torch was fixed to the podium’s side. What was decidedly missing from the scene was the Horde. As the Praetorians started down the far side of the hill, the camp seemed mostly deserted, the only movement coming from a large open sided tent ahead. It was filled with rows of cots, many of which were occupied. Between the cots a few figures could be seen standing over them. The Legatus crossed the gap between the hill and the tent with his men in tow behind him. At the tent’s entrance stood a lone Hun warlord, his rifle raised and ready, staring down the legion and waiting. Phillips broke the silence.
“You’re either very brave or very stupid to stand alone against all of us heathen. Who are you and what do you guard?”
“I am War Chief Saumure, leader of the Hun war tribe. Behind me are my men. Those we could not move yet are being tended to by our medics. I stand over them.”
Phillips paused, and then continued. “Where are the rest of your men?”
“Leading the families away north with what survives of the Horde war tribes.” Saumure said unwavering in his stance between the legion and the tent.
The Legatus pointed at two of his men. “Davis, Hunter, sling your weapons and check the tent. Make sure they’re unarmed. Confirm what the Chief’s telling me here.”
The soldiers jogged out into the tent while the two leaders stayed fixed upon one another. After a few minutes Hunter jogged back to report. “Fifty-six wounded sir, most pretty badly. Three medics and the only weapon was an emptied pistol still in a dead man’s holster. Not much to speak of in supplies either.”
Phillips eased his rifle down. “Stand down Chief; I’m not here to slaughter wounded savages. Daniels, get with the other medics in this legion and Pegasus Legion, see what we can spare. Hercules, I want you to detail a dozen men from Pegasus Legion to guard them. The rest of you break into squads and search the camp. The Gladiator is still here somewhere.”
“I can save you some time.” A voice from his side cut the air. Phillips spun to his right readying his weapon again. Stepping out of the shadows a black clad figure was atop a nearby container.
“Falcon! Why are you here? You and your men are supposed to be hunting down the Horde murderers that retreated into the jungle east of here.” Phillips surprise with the enigmatic Legatus of the Blood Legion was evident.
“My Assassins have that under control. I came here with a team of my brothers to clean up the rear guard. There wasn’t much of one.” The dark hooded Falcon dropped to the ground and approached Phillips. A handful of other similarly dark dressed men emerged around the camp, one no more than a few feet from Phillips.
“The Gladiator and his men chased Slayer, Pestilence, and four Horde wildlings into that warehouse. No one has left the building since.” He pointed with one of his matched pistols at an oversized looking building next to a toppled crane. “It got real loud in there for a minute, and then it’s been quiet since.”
Phillips started toward the warehouse, calling out to his men. “My maniple with me, check targets before firing. We’re going in after the Wolf and recovering him and any of our wounded.”
Twenty Praetorians fell in behind him, as did Legatus Falcon and three of his men. They entered the building by a massive garage door made to allow a train car entrance to the room. Inside was a maze of crates and empty pallets. Dim light came from a number of skylight windows in the ceiling. Just inside the door was the body of an Imperial guard, laid out on his back. His head a smear of gore from what was likely a shotgun blast at close range. Across from him at the other side of a cleared out area were two bodies and the wreckage of what looked like a grenade blast. One was another of the Gladiator’s guards, the other a Horde berserker. “Spread out, and be ready for anything! Primes, we take this path, Falcon, I wan—.“ Philips cut himself off. Legutas Falcon was nowhere to be seen. “How does he do that? Screw it, let’s move.” His lead squad took formation behind him as the rest of the maniple split into two groups, working along the building’s perimeter. In the middle of the warehouse was what looked to be an office room elevated on a scaffold, with a walkway around it. From inside came a flash of light and the sharp sound of a shotgun firing. Hurrying to the sound, Phillips turned a corner in the aisle of crates at a crossing to find a giant of a Horde warrior standing in the center of the path with a rifle at the ready. Phillips threw himself toward the ground and out of the way as the man opened fire. He rolled further down the path he had been taking before the aisles crossed. The Praetorian behind him was not as quick. Six rounds tore into the soldier in a tight line across the chest. He fell to the ground, his heart and lungs a perforated mess. The Barbarian fell back into the shadows as the rest of the Praetorians pulled their wounded man to cover.
“Hunter, how’s Davis?”Phillips called across the gap. Hunter simply shook his head. There was nothing to be done for him, and each of them knew it. “Damn it, stay with him. I’ll take care of this guy.” Phillips stood and stepped into the aisle. He worked down the row, checking corners and keeping his weapon up. At the third crossing he came to he heard a quiet shuffle just past the stack of crates on its corner. Phillips spun the corner to see the warrior there. His rifle was hanging slack by its sling. He tipped forward and fell to the floor with a thump. Protruding from his neck near the base of his skull was the black handle of a knife. Standing in what was now an otherwise empty hall was one of Falcon’s men. He raised his index finger to his lips and whispered a quiet “shh” before taking a step backwards into the dark. Phillips heard new gun fire from the office. Windows shattered, tossing glass to the floor below. Pushing forward Phillips made the base of the stairs to the room above. “Hunter, move up! It’s clear to here!” Up the steps he went to the smashed door leading into the office. The room was a jumbled mess, with chairs tipped over and a shelf lying on the floor. Its contents scattered across the carpet. Beside the shelf was the body of Slayer. Blood was still spreading around him as he lay motionless. In the expanding pool was a cut down shotgun, open and empty. Clutched in his outstretched hand were two shells that never made their way to the chamber. He had fought to the last. The fight had continued into the next room. In it Phillips found a Horde tribal spirit man hanging half out one of the windows with the Gladiator’s machete sticking out of his chest. Sitting with his back against the wall was The Dire Wolf, The Gladiator of The New Empire, and before him lay Pestilence. The Gladiator was covered in blood, with cuts across his head, face and arms. The worst of it though, was his right leg. His belt was pulled taught around his thigh and his knee a shattered wreck, oozing blood. He was alive, but just barely. Pestilence was breathing as well, his head turned at a sharp angle and his neck obviously broken. He was gasping short breaths and trying to speak. Phillips leaned in to better hear the infamous Horde Warlords last words.
“Burn… Burn the… we burn...” He struggled with each pained wheeze.
Phillips shook his head. “I don’t think you’re going to be burning any of us, ya Psycho.”
“No... Burn them… The dead… we burn our dead. Burn… them.” Pestilence stopped breathing. He left the world with his last request that his warriors receive their rites. Turning back to his commander, Phillips gave a shake to the Gladiator’s shoulder. He opened his eyes.
“Is it done, Legatus? Is the Horde broken?” Wolf’s eyes were unfocused, staring ahead.
“Yes sir, you’ve killed their leaders. The rest are retreating to the north or scattered in the jungle. Hold on, we’re going to get you home.”
Phillips turned his head to the door and yelled, “Hunter, get your ass and that med kit up here pronto!”
The Imperator of the New Empire laughed. “No, I know how bad it is. I’m not going anywhere. You finish this for me. Don’t let up. Finish them off.”
“Respectfully sir, shut up. You’re going to make it.” The Legatus knew he was lying.
“Listen to me, Legatus--Mike, it’s up to you now. Finish the Horde.”
The Gladiator’s head tipped forward to rest against his chest. His fight was now over.
Thus began the reign of Imperator Michael Phillips.