Awen: Tongue of Flame

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Under Fire

Creeping forward in a line, they steadily approached the outer perimeter of the ship. 'Connor, don't you leave my side!' Rachel said.

A barrage of popping and crackling sounded through the air, as automatic gunfire lashed out at them all. Ricocheting bullets glanced off of cracked paving, to only fly away aimlessly. Other shots were not fired so recklessly, and piercing rounds ripped through flesh, like a knife cutting through butter.

Having waited too long to move, Julie was attempting to drag two of the severely injured hostages back toward the shuttle with her. 'Julie! Pull further out of sight and stay down, we'll be back.' Hal promised.

'What are you talking about Hal, they won't last a few more seconds out there!' Kelly argued.

Hell was upon them, and rain of metallic fire was hailing down from above. If they were to turn back, they would die. Running forward, Hal staggered. 'I'm hit!' he screamed. Streaming crimson blood seeped through the torn fabric, as his left leg was swept out from under him. Toppling over with force, he dropped his side of the stretcher.

With eyes wide open, Rachel dove to the ground after him. 'Hal, are you alright?' she screeched.

'Got to keep moving.' he replied, climbing back up to rest on one knee. His leg was shaking relentlessly and could no longer support any weight, and he quickly collapsed back onto the floor in agony.

Pointing at the stretcher, Kelly hissed. 'You might need one of those things yourself, boss.' she said.

A blur of commotion passed before Hal's eyes. Darting out from under his mother's protection, Connor ran towards the ship, screaming. 'I won't let you hurt my mother!' he cried.

Bearing witness to the suicidal charge of one so small, Julie began waving frantically. 'Go back, kid!' she roared. It was too late.

Bolting to her feet, Rachel pelted after him. 'Connor! No!' she called.

'Down there!' a distant voice shouted, and another volley of bullets tore at them both from multiple angles.

With momentum propelling her forward at a pace, Rachel caught up to Connor, and they both plummeted into the dust-ridden ground. They were no longer moving.

Hal looked on in horror, as several gunshots ripped into her, and spraying blood rained across the molten surface beneath them.

'I need to get to them.' Hal groaned, trying to stand up again.

'Hal, stop! You can barely move, and if you could, how in the hell would you make it passed the Blackhawks?' Kelly barked.

'I don't know, alright! Without a...' Hal replied.

Being cut-off by further gunfire, his answer did not come. Golden specks of light hurtled towards the opened airlocks of the ship and taking the enemy by surprise, the Blackhawks dove for cover.

After scanning the area repeatedly to see where the shots had originated, Hal could only recognise the light from the weapon. 'Take that you bastards!' a familiar voice yelled.

'Jensen?' Hal asked, but there was no answer. If ever they were to make a run for the shuttle, now would be the opportune moment.

Hobbling across the broken landscape, Hal reached the unmoving body of Rachel, his stomach performing summersaults as a crippling void opened up.

Turning her body gently, the first thing Hal saw was Connor, curled up into his mother's arms, his face pressed firmly into her chest. 'Connor?' he called.

A quiet mumbling voice breathed into bloodied clothing. 'Hal?' he asked, daring to open his eyes.

'It's me, kid.' Hal replied.

Scrambling to move, Connor crawled over to where Rachel's expressionless face gaze up into the starless sky. 'Mom!' he shrieked.

Welling tears formed in the corner's of his innocent eyes, and small hands began pawing away at them repeatedly. 'Mom!' he cried out again, shaking her arm. 'Mom, no!'

'Keep moving, Julie, get them all to the shuttle!' Kelly yelled.

Launching himself at Hal, Connor grabbed onto his leg. 'It was my fault.' he sobbed. The boy had caused Rachel to chase after him; still, that was what mothers' did best.

Sniffing discretely, Hal failed to hold back tears of his own. 'It wasn't your fault Connor.' he replied softly.

'What'll happen to her now?' Connor blubbered.

Regaining his composure, Hal stood up. 'Will you help me with her Kelly? We aren't leaving her behind.' he asked.

The others had not gotten far, and Hal could hear them talking up ahead. 'Everyone hurry! There's no telling how long we have left, and it's as hot as hell out here.' Julie said.

'Let's bring the two stretchers parallel to each other James. Not that way!' Grace yelled. The pair fit the stereotype of an elderly couple, forever bickering. The welcome drama brought a small smile to Hal's distressed face.

Hearing the heavy footsteps, Grace and James turned first. Passing them by, with heads held low, they reached flat land and placed Rachel on the floor.

'We don't have time to cart around the dead!' an arrogant voice bawled.

With fists of fury, Connor leapt at the man. Before he got to him, the stony-faced woman next to him balled up her fist, and without holding back, she let loose. Knocking him to the floor, she noticed a brightening patch of skin under his right eye. 'Good, you had that coming brother.' she snarled.

'I remember you both; you're with Grace and James, right?' Hal asked.

Turning to face Hal, and Connor, who stood next to him with folded arms, she smiled sourly. 'Sorry about that, yes we are. I'm Jen, and this waste of space is my brother Taylor.'

Reaching to shake her hand, Hal winced. 'Nice to meet you.' he replied. In his anguish at the loss of Rachel, he had forgotten his pain.

'You're bleeding, you know?' Jen asked.

Hal did not answer, and with Kelly's help, they picked Rachel back up. 'Let's go.' he said.

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