Jade Imperium - May We Die In The Forest
admiralducksauce wrote:Cowboy knows you don't get many money shots like that, so he's popping in a fresh grenade into the empty chamber and moving on. Time for his own shooting and scooting.
More bullets pelt the northern foxholes as the spendiest of the three shooters blows off another magazine. Cowboy's not even concerned with the automatic fire. He's sighting in on the last spot that sniper fired from, hoping the guy decided to hunker down and aim instead of shoot and scoot. Cowboy thumps a 40mm grenade downrange and is rewarded with a bassy explosion, the crackle of another toppling tree, and the piercing Wilhelm-inspired wail of a human yelling "AAIIIEEEEE!"
The screaming continues in spurts. He's probably trying to drag himself away from the smoking crater.
The sounds of battle come through the hole where the roof used to be loud and clear. Davis coughs and looks around. "Where's Hale?"
Swims shakes his head when Davis asks about Hale. He motions towards a pile of rubble. Metal reinforcing ribs jut out at odd angles from the twisted heap. Hale's head, shoulder and one arm are splayed out under the debris.
"I checked," Swims says. "Hale's not breathing."
Just then, Hale decides to get a second opinion. A faint eck escapes the striken Rav-Turai's lips, along with a bubble of frothy blood.
"Shows what I know," Swims shrugs. "Can you move?" He asks Davis.
He pushes himself up, gritting his teeth as the remains of part of the vox cable conduit grab at his leg, but he manages to pull himself free. He feels like he's been tossed down ten flights of stairs, but he manages to stand up okay. "I'm fine," he signs. "Let's help Hale."
Swims passes Davis the kauka and crouches next to Hale. He starts prying and tugging at the debris, and quickly frees enough to reveal a shrapnel-strewn mess of a man. Hale's carapace has been crushed into his flesh along his legs; Swims cuts the plating free and tosses them behind him. The movement and sudden freedom causes arterial spurts to begin anew. Swims tries to free Hale's other arm, but it's pinned through the upper arm to the floor by a snapped-off bit of the vox antenna. The antenna refuses to budge, and Hale's blood flow is getting weaker.
"Okay, this is really bad. Cut it on three. One, two, three!"
Swims brings the biggest blade he has down on Hale's arm, freeing him from his rubble prison with a snicker-snack. Davis immediately activates the kauka. Hale's blood surges forth, then the spray slows - this time because the worst of the cuts are healing. Hale doesn't move, though, doesn't even wake up. Davis checks his pulse. It's there. Maybe he just needs time, but that's something Davis doesn't have. Beamer shots snap and crack from below, in the chamber.
"Shit," Davis says. "You get blown up and everything just goes to hell. We need to get Hale downstairs and figure out what's going on. Agreed?"
"Yes," Swims agrees. "Before they see movement up here."
"And Swims-the-Black?" Davis embraces his friend, hands vanishing into the fur on his back. "Thank you."
"Hey, hey," he replies. "I wasn't going to leave you up there."
"Still," Davis says, and lets go. "Thank you for saving my life. That's two that I owe you now, I think." He smiles. "Come on, this little riot isn't going to solve itself. Grab Hale and let's go."
"AAAAGGGHlllee..." stick "Help-" squelch "urgle arrgle ... " twist
The team gets a good view of the attack on the camp from the freshly-killed Khiraba's position. The field between them and the south trenches is littered with dead and dying Chosen, but there are still a worrisome number charging hard for the defenders. They're maybe fifteen abreast, and as you watch they throw another volley of spears. Like the last fusillade, it's a long toss, with most of the shafts falling short. Most, but not all - one clearly impales a friendly warrior's face. The victim of the vicious wound soon falls out of sight behind the earthworks.
The defenders' response is overwhelming. The Chosen are close enough now; Semo double-taps the rest of his XM-25 magazine into the enemy formation. The Chosen shrugging off wounds up to this point are laid low by the 25mm airbursts. The lucky ones are merely killed outright; still more stumble and fall, or are torn apart by the deafening thunder of a firing line of SCAR-Hs on full-auto. It's WWI for a brief moment, and when half the south trench falls back to reload, there are only a few dozen Chosen left. If they weren't over halfway across, they might have run for it. Their headlong sprint is certainly stymied as some trip and stutterstep their way over their tattered comrades, but the enemy is close enough now to fuel the fires of vengeance on both sides. There'll be no quarter given.
On the northeast side of camp, Cowboy reloads his EGLM and looks for another spot to fire from. There's no harassing fire from the treeline, even though Cowboy's pretty sure only one of the three confirmed shooters was anywhere near his grenade. The shindig's happening to the south, and it sounds like they could use some of his 40mm party favors. Cowboy ducks low and runs through the trenches towards the main battle.
Davis and Swims, encumbered by Hale's blood-soaked mostly-but-not-quite-dead form, pick their way down the comm room (now observatory) stairs. They burst into pandemonium inside the dome chamber. Shenest and her Keepers have scattered to the corners of the chamber, taking cover behind whatever they can find, or just lying prone. The prone Keepers are easy to distinguish from the prone orbital survivors. Seven of the orbital refugees are on the ground, but it's clear they are not there by choice. The few that are conscious all bear the telltale signs of "I got my ass kicked by someone way bigger than me". Even Kosai lies where she was struck down, a Tenner not far from her limp fingers. Davis glances quickly, taking in the situation. He's not surprised to see Zakpabo among the refugee casualties - the wild-eyed man was always one of the jumpier ones - but he didn't expect to see Zakapbo's head at such an odd angle. The refugees aren't the only ones in need of attention, either. Four wherren are down, two of them with beamer wounds. The other two look like they were kicked a lot, and then kicked some more.
More interesting by far is the wrestling match happening near the dome exit. The two remaining captive Turai are struggling over a SCAR and a Tenner with two civilians. It's hard to tell if they want the guns for themselves, or if they're actually trying to stop the civvies. It doesn't look like the four remaining wherren guards care. Two of them have hung back, and these two are now aiming their rifles at the struggling humans. The other two are pushing two conscious and compliant orbital refugees to the deck next to a literal pile of knocked-out people.
Davis takes a moment to analyze the situation still going on in the corner, then makes a decision. "Hey!" he barks. The whole dome looks at him, amazed he's up at all. "Help them out!" he says, pointing to the Turai.
One of the Keepers seems to sum up most of their feelings towards Davis' suggestion with a terse "Fuck that!", but two of the closer Keepers jump into the melee just as the Turai and refugee wrestling over the SCAR manage to discharge the weapon. The Keepers take the civvie down even as the Turai falls back, clutching at a hole in his chest and wheezing froth.
The two wherren with weapons trained on the remaining struggle look to Davis. "Are we shooting?"
"No, we don't need any more dead in here," Davis says. "Here, take Hale, make sure he's put somewhere safe and keep him comfortable." Davis clips the kauka onto the remains of his gear webbing. "Swims-the-Black, you help with the fight, I'll get the Turai back on his feet."
Meanwhile, the last refugee has managed to keep both free wherren guards at bay with a random smattering of beamer fire. Despite the Turai wrangling the rifle barrel and showering the woman with elbows and low kicks, she's tasted freedom and won't give in, not while she's got her gun. Swims barges past the two cautious wherren, however, and simply strikes the Tenner from the woman's hands with the same blade that severed Hale's arm. The broken weapon hits the ground and the rest is a dogpile.
Now the only battle is everywhere else.
And this part, more than any other, is where things are just going to suck no matter what.
"Cut them down!" he shouts, then snaps up his own Tenner and pops shots into the back of the formation charging the research camp.
The Deltas take up position behind the apocalyptic jungle terrain and sight in on the Chosen running for their allies. It's about this time that Zaef realizes he's still carrying a pilfered spearbomb from the Turai he downed earlier... he can't even remember whether it was the first Khiraba or the escaping Turai in the jungle. It doesn't matter. He pops the explosive and heaves it skyward as Luis stutters his UMP45 across two enemy wherren's backs.
Hugh sees the Chosen stagger and flinch at the .45ACP strikes and sights in on the freshly-wounded tangos. Two trigger pulls, two hits, and one wherren rolls to a dead stop in the grass.
Arketta fires off a Tenner lance but the shot craters sod a few meters short of her target.
Angel's first shot flies overhead but his second and third cherry pick the wherren Hugh wounded, sending the Chosen's dreams of glory into the dirt along with his brains.
Zaef's spear-bomb blows one of the trailing Chosen into pieces. The blast wave rattles half a dozen more in the back ranks and sprays them with shrapnel, but they charge on despite their wounds. The front rank doesn't escape unscathed - the Chosen up front eat a fusillade of Tenner beams from the trenches. The defenders have started to double up on the Chosen as their numbers dwindle, and two warriors fall, cratered in multiple places by artificial lightning. The enemy spears are more accurate as they close, however, and Joxur howls in anger as his father falls back, wounded by a spear. Two more wherren coming to help die skewered to the far trench walls.
Outside Hab Three, the two wherren with the AT4 have possibly armed the weapon and are aiming it at the oncoming hostiles.
Meanwhile, Hoei and his three Turai cohorts have been staying down in the grass just to the east of the habs. When the defenders started vacating the habs, they decided now was a good time to reach the habs, maybe grab some weapons, and maybe - just maybe - turn the tide of the battle. Unfortunately for them, now is also the time Cowboy comes running down the trenches and spots the quartet running for the trenches.
Hey, I know those guys! Cowboy realizes. He slides to a halt, braces his SCAR-H on the trench wall, and triggers the EGLM.
Iketna watches Hokros' vitals go dead, just like Manus' did a few moments earlier. Khalomai pulls himself behind full cover as the vicious wounds the Homeworlder inflicted start to close up. Jaq had just now finished patching Sauhan and Haris back together after the deadly booby traps went off, and they were circling around to regroup, when Nahan calls Iketna's attention to a group of people running back to the camp. The Rav-Turai sights down her beamer. They were the same so-called prisoners that Davis was so eager to release. With Arpana and Manus dead, though, and their wherren onslaught on the ropes, it was time for a new plan.
"Are they-" Nahan queries over vox.
"If they were really hostages, why aren't they running away? I'm not fucking around with these people," Iketna responds. "The Emperor'll know his own - kill 'em all." She leaves the handful of remaining northern sentries to Nahan and aims at the "hostages". If you're hostages, I'm Gupta Khari.
Cowboy's grenade actually physically strikes Hoei. His body shields two of the Turai from the brunt of the blast, but a trailing Turai is spun into the dirt, riddled with shrapnel. The Texan fires off a string of controlled bursts at the two surviving Imperials, stitching one across his side and neck with a deadly barrage. The last Turai makes off with only concussion from the grenade, some painful but nonlethal shrapnel wounds, and one nasty through-and-through in his leg. He's limping for safety when an unexpected Imperial beamer whip-cracks and takes his head off.
Davis activates the kauka over the holed Turai. His coughing intensifies, and he brings up more bloody phlegm, this time with bits of lead in it, but then settles down. "Are you all right?" he asks.
The man nods, saving his voice. The rest of the riot is quickly over. None of the wherren guards are dead, although the ones who are out are going to be out for a while. Zakpabo's the only casualty, although it looks like the wherren weren't pulling punches with Kosai. She's breathing - barely - through a broken jaw. The stock ribbing from the buttstroke is imprinted into her cheek.
"So! I see we had something of a problem down here," Davis says. He climbs up on a crate. "I'd spend more time making sure everyone's okay, but we still have a problem outside, a problem we could use your help with. I know what you think of me, think of my people and what we're doing here and out there. But think about what the Imperium has done here, and what that means they do everywhere else. All the rumors about pacifications and massacres, they're true, and then some. They attack without warning, and they do not care who catches the beam or the spearbomb. They believed that Hale was their ally, and they almost killed him to get at me. Do you think they will show more mercy to all of you?"
Davis looks over the Keepers, looks at Shenest, looks at the two Turai. "We're not the evil ones here. They're outside, with their brainwashed Wherren dupes, using them as their tools to slaughter their own people. Decide what you want about the rest of us and our actions later, but right here, right now, decide whether or not you want to stand with us and help save your own lives and set the Wherren species free."
"How do you expect us to help?" asks one of the Keepers off to Davis' left, a bug-eyed weasel of a man currently hiding behind a cogitator. "We're not soldiers, and there is First knows what going on out there."
"Help however you can," Davis says to the Keeper. He thinks for a second, then looks back at him. "How much of the dome's systems are still working?"
The man cautiously flicks on the cogitator. It powers up without argument. "Looks like the research systems are all right, but as you can see, there's no lighting."
"And no vox systems," Swims adds, flexcuffing the woman he disarmed. "Surveillance is out, PA's down, anything you could control from upstairs is gone."
"Okay, okay, here's the plan." Davis looks over to the Turai, with one of them helping the other up. "Are you two in?"
"Not gonna sit here and wait to die," one answers. "We're... " he hesitates.
" - Yeah, we're in," the other answers for them both.
"Okay, grab a rifle and some ammo, you two need to provide cover while we get these smoke grenades popped on the perimeter," Davis says. "Any other volunteers for a weapons run?"
Shenest exhales and shakily gets to her feet, as do... well, the rest of the Keepers.
Davis smiles. "Thank you. Thank you, all of you." He claps his hands together. "Okay, here's what we need to do."
(OOC: The Turai will cover Swims and Davis as they throw smoke on the approaches that are un-smoked. Everyone hits the habs for weapons, and then stay in the habs and provide whatever cover they can.)
The northern foxholes are spared further attrition by Davis' smoke grenades. The bombs arc out and billow their choking opaque payloads across the clearing, covering the north lines from further sniping.
Across camp, the Chosen attempt to close the last few meters. Hugh and Angel sight in on the cluster of wherren that Zaef wounded with his spearbomb. Each Delta fires twice, and each deadly accurate center mass shot downs a charging beast. Four rounds, four down. Arketta curses as her shot background blurs with friendlies; she holds her fire.
From the Deltas' point of view, it looks like the hand of God just flattens the left side of the enemy line. Semo's airburst accounts for at least three more dead, and as the defenders pop back up with loaded SCARs, it's clear the Chosen are not getting off that easy. They stop running and begin a jiggling, writhing, incomprehensible dance to an overpowering drummer before collapsing in bloody ruined heaps. Only three Chosen escape the onslaught through skill or luck, and it's these that the Hab Three wherren aim their AT4 at.
You wince. The rocket skips off the ground - usually an accepted method for airbursting an AT4 against personnel - but it detonates halfway into the clearing, well behind the Chosen. The wherren handling the launcher frantically try to fire it again, not realizing it's a single-shot weapon.
Cowboy clears the last hab in time to see the debris and dirt fall from the 25mm and AT4 blasts. Three wherren - three poor duped Chosen - hit the trenches. One of them has just enough time to realize that they are the only ones left. His hair flashes fear and regret a second before his hesitation kills him. Well, truthfully, the point-blank beamer kills him. The other two Chosen were clearly not Chosen for their survival instincts. They leap into the southern foxholes without regard for defense, each prepared to die taking down as many enemy as possible. Joxur's hit with a vicious hatchet-blow across his arm, but he stands his ground between the Chosen and his wounded father. His other comrade's not so lucky, and falls to repeated stabs even as he opens the bowels of his attacker. After that, the Chosen fall quickly to the flood of wherren swarming in from the trenches. Joxur and the shaman shout their victory to the skies and are joined by their tribesmates, then they calmly and casually begin making sure the Chosen in their immediate areas - in the trench and those that made it the last few meters - are dead.
"Camp to Strike 6. What's your status, over?"
Gatac wrote:Cowboy checks his wound, the bleeding has soaked through his shirt and tactical vest.
"This is Strike 6," Hugh radios back. "We're five by five. Interrogative, camp status, over."
"Camp to Strike Six. Perimeter is secure. Known casualties are 8 dead wherren and 10 wounded, not including myself. Probability of Tangos in the tree line is still high. Recommend regroup then reconnoiter. Over?"
In contrast to the Turai, Shenest and her Keepers sprint headlong with barely a minimum of situational awareness. Even their terrified blindness can't withstand the onslaught of explosions to the south, and quite a few of the Keepers go from a sprint to a trot. They watch the Chosen get gunned down with all the morbid curiosity of accident rubberneckers.
Even though there's smoke to their north, the clouds aren't bulletproof. One of the few wherren holding his ground in a foxhole eats a particle beam and falls back writhing. The snap of incoming rounds and the bassy whap of beams, blind-fired by the Khiraba, wake the civilians up and gets them moving again towards Hab Two.
The Keepers make it into the hab and out of the incoming blind fire, whereupon the Turai start handing out Tenners. Some Keepers are entranced by the battle cleanup, just the newness of it all. The camp wherren have taken no prisoners in their immediate area and they look like they might be about to head up and out to finish off anyone in the field. The southern trench is thick with wherren, and the most battle-ready of them split off to head back north to lend a hand against the Khiraba once the smoke clears. As for the Khiraba themselves, the blind suppressive fire continues for a little longer but quickly dies off without inflicting further casualties.
The sunset's dying along with wounded Chosen in the clearing, and with the growing darkness a light rain begins to pelt the camp. The team stalks into thicker jungle as they circle the base. The charnel house left by the claymores assaults your senses. Those Chosen not killed immediately didn't make it far. Blood trails and bodies litter the ravaged jungle. The orange paint spatter everywhere pushes the landscape into the truly alien. The team's ACU doesn't match the OSHA orange, but then the Khiraba cloaks have just as much trouble adapting to the ever-shifting colors. It's no surprise then when Hugh spots the six Imperials stalking their way towards his team. Three are moving in a Trin's close formation, while the other three are orbiting them. Their cloak-ponchos are tattered and their carapaces marred and holed.
They definitely see you and raise their weapons (Kang's SCAR-H, one knockoff rifle, and four beamers). The female on the left keys her helmet speakers and shouts out in English, "Don't shoot!"
(Assuming they actually hold their fire...)
"Nobody shoot!" Hugh shouts in Imperial. "Lay down all your weapons and step away."
A scrabbly, broken piece of the underbrush, its fronds and leaves ripped from it in the claymore blast, rolls lazily past as a sudden gust of wind accompanies a peal of thunder.
"I can't believe 'don't shoot!' actually worked," the male with Danny's SCAR says.
The Khiraba woman's finger moves and sets off nearly a dozen guns, their hair triggers caressed by lightning-quick men and women, each trained to the highest standards of their respective nations. Viewed from the camp, the encroaching thunderstorm is overshadowed by a coruscating firestorm of gunfire and particle beams from within the southern approach. The orange and green hellscape is lit up by strobing blue-white and yellow fire.
"Captain?!" Semo shouts questioningly into his radio. He looks to Cowboy. His one word says everything. Those are my friends. We can't reach them in time. I need to try anyway. I can't go unless someone gives the order.
You know it's coming and you tense. The woman shoots you first and everything slows down. She's turning to shoot Zaef, to stop him from throwing his grenade, to let it fall amongst your team. You squeeze the Tenner's trigger and it blasts a hole through the woman's abdomen. She staggers; you squeeze again even as your left leg gives out from a second hit. The woman spins around, her weapon forgotten. She trips over a mangled Chosen and lands on hand and knees. You hit the ground and then it hurts. Hard to breathe, smells terrible, hurts everywhere but nowhere as badly as your left leg. Its cratered thigh looks up at you. You see the Khiraba who shot you scattering like all the rest, sidestepping, moving for cover in slow motion. The Imperial's arms are pockmarked and tattered with recently-healed Claymore wounds. His belt full of knives glint underneath his ragged cloaking poncho. He snaps off another shot but it cracks into a fallen tree somewhere behind the fight.
The grenade leaves its spoon behind and sails like a line drive towards the SCAR gunner. The woman's too late; her shot hits you like Mjolnir on PCP but you stay up. You feel rain on nerves never exposed to air before, smell cooked meat and metal and ozone, but you stay up to watch the Khiraba with the SCAR throw his hands up in meager defense. Thunder, heat, a pressure wave, and the SCAR gunner's knocked to a sitting position, blood spattered over ragged carapace. The frag shreds the woman Khiraba's midsection and rolls her corpse to a stop amongst the dead wherren. The knife-toting Khiraba who shot Hugh staggers; another one sways drunkenly on his way to cover.
You know the guy with the SCAR is some sort of marksman. He's gotta go, but a split-second before you line up your UMP on his dome you flinch from a particle beam that flashes past you on its way to Angel. You glance over; the Khiraba's picked you next. Somewhere deep down, you know that killing their sniper will mean more than trying to save yourself or retaliate against this new threat. You're moving - everyone is - and his shot spins you counterclockwise. You're off balance. Your weapon - suddenly heavy - swings off target. You bring it back up and squeeze, and Arketta's Tenner whip-cracks in time with your submachinegun. The Khiraba's SCAR sniper sprays bullets and blood skyward as he falls back dead.
You glance back to Arketta and see your left arm on the ground where it was blown free.
The beamer lance whips past you and you hear rain sizzle where the passing shot turned it to steam. The Khiraba who misses you doesn't miss Hugh, but as you squeeze the trigger on your captain's foe another Khiraba (they all look alike, you think, but at least this one has a fairly intact poncho) shoots you in the chest. Your strike plate cracks - it's already overworked from previous wounds. Your carrier vest ignites and sloughs off your chest, but you remain standing. Your SCAR-H bucks twice. The first round hits Hugh's foe in the lower gut, penetrating the undersuit and spiraling out the middle of his back in a torrent of blood. The knife-happy Khiraba topples forward and lies there screaming. He's trying to get to his feet but his legs are dead.
You see the Khiraba who shot you take Luis' arm with a vicious second shot, and it doesn't even slow Stanhill down. He and Arketta finish off the SCAR gunner Zaef already wounded while you swing your weapon towards the guy who shot Luis but your second shot hits nothing but that damn poncho.
"Khal!!!" a male Khiraba shouts as the SCAR gunner dies. He flinches back as his friend's dying burst narrowly misses him, sees that a teammate's got Luis, and aims at Arketta. He shoots twice. The first shot's nothing but a nasty burn gouged from her arm, but the second beam sideswipes her helmet. The headgear flies off and the blast sends an unconscious Arketta tumbling over a wherren corpse and into the increasingly muddy dirt.
The sixth Khiraba's wearing gear similar to the lone wolf guy Zaef killed, with the knockoff assault rifle and the large rucksack. He thumbs his fire selector and unloads his rifle in a great cacophonous barrage. Bullets whip past Hugh and splatter him with cooling blood from the wherren he fell near. They snap past Angel on their way out to sea. Luis feels them miss more than consciously recognizes the attack. The rookie Khiraba gets his bronco of a rifle back under control by the time he sweeps it across Zaef, however. The Bloodwraith's stitched across his chest and has time to think they have armor-piercing rounds like we do! before he passes out.
admiralducksauce wrote:Cowboy unslings his SCAR, popping in a fresh mag.
"Captain?!" Semo shouts questioningly into his radio. He looks to Cowboy. His one word says everything. Those are my friends. We can't reach them in time. I need to try anyway. I can't go unless someone gives the order.
(looks around at whoever is nearby)
"Alright Sarge...ditch your gear, take only weapons and ammo. Let's go."
Davis feels the slight weight of the kauka on his gear webbing, and looks over at Swims. "We should go," Davis says. "They're probably going to need us."
Swims nods tentatively and readies his gear.
Davis looks back to the two Turai trying to get a look out of the windows. He smiles and extends his hand to shake. "Hey, my name's Garrett Davis. What's yours?"
"Kaoak," one says. "Vimu," says the other.
"Well guys, Swims-the-Black and I are heading out there to back up our teammates," Davis says, tightening down his gear. "What are your plans? The Keepers could probably use someone keeping them out of trouble, but the Wherren could keep an eye on them if you want to come with us. Up to you guys, Kaoak, Vimu."
Davis sees the two Turai turn things over in their heads for a moment. However many reasons flash through their minds, Davis is pretty sure the wide-open field littered with dead wherren is the main reason they soon shake their heads and offer to guard the camp. Vimu speaks for both of them. "No, we're good here."
Davis nods. "Alright, see you guys in ten. I'm on vox 735, copy?"
"Copy," there's that weird tinny-yet-present doublespeak confirming the Turai are on the right channel.
Davis nods and jogs out the door to Swims. "You ready to run?"
Swims looks out over the field, where Semo and Cowboy already have a few meters' head start. "You go," he says. "Someone who knows Earth's access codes should stay here should the worst occur. And although I appreciate what you're trying to do with the Imperials, I don't trust them."
Davis nods. "Alright, I understand. Just give them a little space, huh? I think they've earned it."
Swims nods. "Don't get blown up this time."
Davis smiles and claps the wherren on the back. "I do what I can, my friend," he says, and runs off.
Angel's trademark frown creases his face as he flips his selector switch to the increasingly-used "all the bullets". Of all the team, he's the one with the most direct contact with the Imperial "elite", and he has yet to see anything pleasant about them except for the way they lie still when killed. Goddamn trophy-taking, genocide-instigating, civilian-murdering assholes. Angel puts at least a dozen of his twenty rounds into the two Khiraba who aren't frantically trying to reload, with the lion's share going to the guy who shot Arketta. That Imperial dances the Corleone Charleston and falls, trailing crimson from a run of ragged holes where his major organs used to be. The second Khiraba - the guy with the nice poncho - sucks up a wound to the meat of his thigh and flinches as a second round flattens on his carapace. He was sighting in for a killshot on Luis but snaps his beamer away from the Delta medic. Luis can't move fast enough. Everything's a little distant, and his UMP is hard to aim with one hand. He aligns the red dot with the Khiraba just as the Imperial shoots Angel. Luis can't think of anything except I'm too late and holds his trigger down. The Khiraba's poncho falls in tatters and he sinks to his knees, gurgling and sputtering, a human colander. Luis whips his head around to see Angel (and almost throws himself to the ground in the process), but the Delta marksman is still standing. It's a miracle, but Angel escapes near-certain death with the classic Hollywood shoulder wound.
The last Khiraba standing frantically racks his knockoff SCAR's bolt, raises the rifle, and shouts, "Gonna have me som-"
Hugh's sure it would've been very clever, and possibly even a bizarre coincidental reference to some bit of Earth pop culture, but he decides blowing the Imperial's bushwhacking, wherren-killing, no-good-lying sonofabitch head clean off is the more prudent choice. The headless body twitches, fires off a few rounds into the dirt, and topples to the bloody ground.
Sauhan can't move his legs and his beamer's pinned underneath his own weight. He watches the Narsai'i somehow turn the tables on his comrades. Everything's blurry, and darkness creeps in at the edges of his vision, but Sauhan manages to reach the gunpowder sidearm strapped to his dead leg. With a shaking hand, he raises it to strike from hell's heart. A weak, warbling warcry wails out of his helmet amps.