Awen: Tongue of Flame

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The Run

With aching legs, they rocked from side to side, wandering across the battered surface of Awen. Hal looked back to search for Jensen, yet there was still no sign, and even the rampageous gunfire had come to a halt.

It was utterly silent until it wasn't, and following the rumbling of distant thunder, the entire landscape lit up with blinding orange light. Shrapnel blossomed into huge mushroom clouds, tearing at them from every direction, with heavy weapons fire raking over their location repeatedly.

'Help!' Julie screamed.

'What was that?' Kelly asked as another projectile flew over their heads, forming a new crater somewhere in the distance.

Unable to see two feet in front of him, the veil of stirring dust and debris was making Hal feel isolated. 'I have no idea!' he replied. 'That sounded like Julie though, where is she?' he asked, spinning around.

Not hearing Hal, Kelly began sprinting. 'They're following us. Run!' she yelled.

'Missing both legs, Julie wailed in pain. Pooling blood filled her mouth, and she spat it out whilst calling for help. 'Help!' she cried again.

Unable to run, Julie crawled along, using her hands to claw at the rough terrain. Her hand slid onto a scolding metal bar and pulling at it; her fingers squelched as steaming gore smothered her palms. Shuffling through the remains of one of the unconscious three, she struggled to break free.

'Jen, Taylor can you pick up Rachel?' Hal asked. Sensing the rebuke forming, Jen answered for her brother 'Of course we will.' she replied.

'Kelly, let's get Julie.' Hal said.

'Do you want the arms or legs?' Kelly asked.

'Are you kidding me?' Julie interrupted, coughing up blood. It was rather distasteful of Kelly to make such a joke at her expense.

'We can take a shoulder each Hal, that leg of yours looks like it's about to fall off as well.' Kelly replied.

Connor agreed to scout the area, it was not far, and Hal thought that it would distract him a little. 'I see it! I see the shuttle!' he squealed.

The shuttle must have been over fifty feet in length, and drab grey panels adorned it's intact outer hull. The design was unsurprisingly Spartan, much like the generation ship 'Aspire'. She, too, was constructed for functionality as opposed to beauty.

'Good job Connor.' Hal said, his leg starting to feel numb.

'We're falling too far behind Hal; I can hear them creeping upon us.' Kelly complained.

'You two talking about me?' Julie asked, she was delirious and shifting in and out of consciousness. It was clear that she desperately required medical attention, and the necessary supplies lay only a few meters away, behind a pressure-sealed hatch.

Arriving last, Hal was first to hear the hurried footsteps behind them. 'Get the hatch open! Grace, do you know how to open this?' he asked.

Rolling her eyes, Grace slapped her forehead. 'No.' she replied.

'There's only one person here that can get us inside, and that's Julie.' he sighed.

Darkened eyes flickered, tirelessly searching for some hidden sight. Following her gaze, Hal saw nothing but the black of night. 'Julie, how do we get in?' he pressed.

'The pain... gone.' she choked, still gazing into nothing. Nervously holding up her bloodied index finger, she gently pressed it against her mouth, and her pale lips quivered in fright. They had not yet realised it, but Julie had just saved all of their lives.

The Blackhawks were here, searching blindly in the dark. If only the survivors had somewhere else to run, there was only one option.

'Julie, please, we need to get inside!' Hal whispered.

Pointing gingerly toward the stunted treeline behind them, Hal heard the crunching of dead grass and a strange whistling that was irritatingly out of tune. They were so close, four professional killers against a few unarmed and injured survivors, it was hardly a fair fight.

'Well one of them can't whistle worth a damn!' Kelly said. 'Why are they still coming after us anyway?' she added bitterly.

'They must have orders to get rid of any witnesses.' Hal guessed.

The eerie crackling and rustling of stepped on branches and burnt leaves began to draw ever closer. Something was moving very fast toward them, and immediately fearing the worst, they each hid, dragging the wounded to the other side of the shuttle.

Footsteps stopped abruptly, and whoever was there, would be on top of their location within seconds. Tensions arose, and Julie tightly shut her eyes, her hands struggling to reach for Hal's.

Julie's eyes shot open, despite her best efforts when a thunderous barrage of gunfire began tracking toward them. A familiar figure skidded to a halt right next to them, kicking up plumes of dust. The man certainly knew how to make a dramatic entrance.

Panting heavily, Jensen sat down. 'Miss me?' he asked.

'Son of a bitch! Where've you been?' Hal demanded.

'I could kiss you.' Kelly beamed.

Looking around, Jensen noticed that there were a few missing faces. 'Where are Rachel and Connor?' he asked, fearing the answer.

Hal could not speak, gesturing towards her resting remains. Connor sat next to her like a guard that was on sentry duty. Next to her lay one intact stretcher, along with the blissfully ignorant Jasper. 'He's still sleeping.' Connor said, not shifting his gaze away from Rachel.

Rubbing his face, Jensen punched the hard metal plating of the shuttle. 'Damn it.' he cursed. 'So why are we still sat out here Hal, didn't you hear those bastards on my tail?' he added.

'I did, what happened to Griffin anyway?' Hal asked.

'Don't ask silly questions; he's as dead as it gets.' Jensen replied bluntly. 'So why are we out here still?' he prompted.

'Julie has got the code to get in.' Kelly confirmed.

Taking one look at her, Jensen shook his head. 'So much pain and sorrow. You get that code, and I'll draw their fire, again.' he replied fatefully.

'I can't let you do that, my friend.' Hal said.

'Relax, I have a gun of my own.' Jensen replied enthusiastically.

'You're a crazy bastard; you know that, right?' Hal remarked.

Bearing his teeth, Jensen grinned from ear to ear. 'All right, all right, you love me really!' he replied.

'You'd better hurry back!' Kelly ordered.

With a deliberate wink and a raging roar of pure emotion, Jensen ran, firing his weapon wildly into the sky. 'Come and get it, you bastards!'

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