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Untouchable Introduction Part 2

conclusion of the introduction

Introduction, (conclusion)

Chapter 6

Sounds of commotion drew my attention away from my latest victim. I looked up just as half a dozen slaves opened up with the dead guard's laze-rifles. Their fire was wildly inaccurate, and only a couple of shots hit anywhere close.

I could have easily stood there and killed them all, but it was time to extract. I would obey Gunney's last order and take no further chances with my life. Fleet had to know what was going on here. Someone besides me would have to know of the sacrifice he'd made for the Imperium. I looked over to the spot Gunney had died and noticed something missing. The Marine, where was he? He was surely dead. I saw it with my own eyes. I quickly scanned the field and found him limping towards the cutter next to the ruin.

What the hell?!

If he somehow reached it before I reached mine, I was toast. I pulled the rifle to my shoulder and put two rounds into the back of his wrecked power-armor, causing him to fall flat on his face. That would slow him a little but if I hoped to beat him to my cutter I had to move.

I clicked my rifle into its bracket on the back of my armor and started running for my extraction point. Two lucky shots from the slaves ignited the grass in front of me as I reached down to scoop up my helmet. I placed the helmet back on and pulled up the map to the extraction point on my HUD. I adjusted my course for the most direct route as laser fire continued to rip by either side of me.

I hit the wood-line and ran as fast as I could without running into a tree. I estimated I had about ten to fifteen minutes before that marine could reach his cutter and get the engines fired up. I would reach my extraction point in just over five, so I wasn't too worried. Once I made my cutter, I would swing back through and destroy him and the slaves. My HUD told me it was already at the E.P. which was very good news.

As I ran, I thought about Gunney and the sacrifice he'd made. His actions enabled my escape; he was more than my C.O., he was my brother.

A sound from behind snapped me out of my reverie. It sounded like something big crashing through the brush; there was no way the slaves or the wounded marine had caught up with me, so I just assumed it was some sort of indigenous life-form.

I made the clearing my Night Hawk was in and circumvented the site to make sure nothing had changed. I was sure nothing had, but I made the check anyway. Checking my LZ had saved my skin more than once. This time the extra minute it took nearly cost my life.

I stepped into the clearing and approached the cutter when I heard it again. That crashing sound, only it was louder this time, and it was getting closer by the second. I pulled my sidearm, took a two-handed grip, and aimed the bolter in the direction of the sound.

The beast exploded from the trees like a wild animal, half its bleeding skull exposed. The Marine, the one I killed, or, at least, thought I had, bore down on me like a freight-train. The sight of this ravaging monster would have caused most other men to wet their pants, but that's not me; I pointed my bolter at his helmetless head and fired.

Right as I squeezed the trigger he pulled his gauntlet up and deflected the slug away from his face. I tried to fire again, but it was too late. His massive body smashed into mine, bearing me to the ground with such force my chest plate cracked and all the air was forced from my lungs. My side arm went flying, and my rifle popped loose of its bracket as we rolled. We continued to roll, and as we did his axe broke in half, I kicked the ground hard, throwing the monster off of me.

"You're dead! I fraggin' killed you!" I screamed as we both came to our feet.

"I am immortal!" He screamed back, "You only half-killed me."

"Well, I guess I'll just have to finish the job." The doubt in my voice was palpable, the words just a cover for the growing sense of hopelessness I was beginning to feel. I was unarmed against a fully armored space marine. My only chance was that he was severely injured from our last confrontation, had no helmet, and just one good eye.

Still, I was about to go hand-to-hand with a Space Marine almost twice my size. I'm sure I've done dumber things; though, for the life of me, I can't remember when. I had gone undefeated in my Naval boxing league, so I was pretty good with my hands, but Space Marines are legendary melee fighters, rumored to be able to kill a man with a single punch. As we circled each other, I developed my fight plan. I'm sure he was using this same time to figure out the most efficient way to dismember me.

He attacked with a roar and sent a wild hay-maker that whizzed over my ducking head. I threw a short hook to his body and connected with a rockcrete wall. The hit that would have broken the ribs of a normal man just bounced off his ceramite plating, barely even denting it. He threw another punch I narrowly avoided, and I again hit him with another hard shot to the body. I threw the punch with all the enhanced strength my armor could give and again did little more than scratch the red paint of his Chaos-engraved power-suit.

He came around, and I backed off to reevaluate my plan of attack. I needed more power. I pulled up the suit's controls on my HUD and accessed the power output levels.

WARNING – Override may cause system failure. Do you wish to continue?

"YES!" I maxed the levels to two-hundred percent. My suit started humming with the extra power.

Red-lining a power-suit is dangerous. They're built to conserve battery life. Changing the power settings can cause it to short out or even catch fire, but I didn't have a choice. It was just a matter of time before that animal landed one of those man-killing shots. I'd just barely avoided the last two. I had to do some damage and do it fast. I just hoped I could end this fight before my suit shorted out… or worse.

He came on with a rage-filled punch that nearly took my head off. I barely managed to duck under and returned with two incredibly hard shots that shattered the plates protecting his abdomen. I heard him gasp for air as the punches doubled him over. I felt and heard his nose break as I grabbed him by the head and kneed him hard in the face. He returned with a couple of wild shots that forced me to back up.

COOLING SYSTEM FAILURE

No shit… My whole body was moist from the sweat that was now rapidly accumulating inside my armor.

He backed up and spit blood and teeth in my direction. His half-gone face was a mangled wreck. The fact he was still standing was well beyond any sane reasoning. The taint of the warp and his sheer rage were all that were holding him up.

He came at me with a flurry of inhumanly fast punches. Only the extra speed the overridden suit was supplying allowed me to avoid the lethal, four-punch combo. I ducked, bobbed, feinted, and weaved, then countered with four punches of my own. Three hard hooks to the body brought him down to my level. I finished the combo with an incredibly vicious uppercut that threw him a whole three meters and knocked him cold.

I could have finished the bastard right there and had every intention of doing so, but as I started forward my suit picked the worst possible moment to issue out a very loud pop and become dead weight.

BIO-MECHANICAL INTERFACE – FAILURE

My knees buckled, and I fell into a sitting position with my legs straight out in front of me, unable to stand or move. "Reboot, Reboot!" I screamed. I could feel the suit's neural link with the implant on the back of my spine sizzling.

The Space Marine was starting to stir.

TOTAL POWER FAILURE

Flashed across my screen and my HUD went dark. FRAG! FRAG! FRAG! My suit couldn't have picked a worse time to crap out. The Marine was moving more now. I frantically tried to reboot my system, but it wasn't responding. It must have overheated; the inside of my suit was now burning me.

The Marine sat up and looked at me with a half-opened eye. We sat there and stared at each other, each totally spent. Both of us broken; him physically, me mechanically.

We sat there for a few minutes in complete silence… staring at each other. I hated him more than anything in the Imperium, and I'm sure he felt the same way about me, but at that moment, some mutual level of respect passed between us that only two life-long soldiers would recognize.

"Power failure? He finally asked, blood pouring from his broken face.

"Yeah…"

"I figured."

`We stared at each other for another few moments.

"How about you?" I asked.

"Armor's fine… I'm not."

"I thought you guys were immortal."

"Close… But we can die… And I'm pretty sure you've killed me." He coughed up blood.

My HUD flashed to life for a second.

"You… will be the last thing I ever kill." He stated very calmly.

My HUD came to life and started to cycle through the boot process before going dark again.

"I'm honored."

"As well you should be. I've killed thousands over the centuries, maybe tens, across a hundred different worlds." He coughed up more blood and started to get up. He'd gotten to one knee when the exertion became too much, and he had to stop to catch his breath.

"In all the masses," he continued, "I've never met a mortal whose name I cared to know." He coughed violently and spat up more blood before standing the rest of the way. "But you… are different… I wish to know your name before I kill you. I need to know the name of the only mortal ever to best me in single combat." He staggered forward a step. So this is how I would die…

YOUR SYSTEM HAS RECOVERED FROM A SERIOUS ERROR

RUNNING DIAGNOSTICS….

Flashed across my HUD and the system began to cycle through its diagnostic routine. My suit was still dead. It would have to run through its checks and then the boot process before coming back to life. As the checks scrolled across the screen, I willed the computer with every drop of my soul to hurry the frag up. I still had a chance if I could just buy a little more time.

"My name?" I stalled.

"Please, we haven't much time." He coughed up more blood to emphasize his point. "I must know your name before I die." He forced himself to walk the rest of the distance between us. He was standing right in front of me now.

The diagnostic finished and the computer started the boot process. I needed about another minute before I would regain power. Still unable to move I said, "My name…"

"Yes, tell me now."

"My name… is Corporal Mabien Frost."

"A strong name," he said after a moment's contemplation. He placed his foot on my chest and forced me down, so I was lying flat on my back. He then lowered himself on top of me so that he straddled my torso between his legs; his immense weight made it hard for me to breath. "Are you ready?" He asked placing his hands on either side of my helmet.

I realized then that I wasn't going to make it, and a feeling of peace and resignation came over me, "I'm ready."

He leaned forward and kissed me on the helmet, smearing it with blood, "I will give you a warrior's death. Quick, painless, then I will lie here beside you and die." He turned my head to the side and readjusted his grip, preparing to break my neck.

He started to turn my head farther to the side forcing my neck to its breaking point. I knew then that I was going to die. Bones started to crack in my neck as he forcibly turned my head unnaturally far to the right. I had just accepted my fate when…..

SYSTEM RECOVERED – POWER LEVELS 26%.

I felt the servos in my armor come back to life. I tried to kick him off, but his dead weight was too much even for my power suit. My neck had reached its breaking point. I reached up, grabbed his hands, and started to resist. I forced against his hands with all my strength. The motors in my suit whined as I brought my neck back from the brink and slowly straightened my head.

"Now, now, let's not prolong this." He grabbed my right arm and forced it under his knee, "it's both our time to see the warp." I tried to punch him in the face with my left, but he snatched it with his right hand and forced it to the ground. I was now pinned, both arms trapped. I struggled in vainly against his superior size and strength.

"You should have let me finish you quickly Mabien. Now we do it the hard way." He drew his free arm back and slammed his fist into my head. My face-plate cracked, and my vision went white for a second. I tried desperately to squirm free, but he had me in a vice, I was completely immobilized. With brutal force he brought down his giant fist four more times, slamming my head around the inside of my helmet. The third punch knocked me out; the fourth woke me back up.

The back of my skull felt wet. I could feel blood leaking from my ears and nose; I could hear nothing but ringing in my head. My HUD was spider webbed, and I could barely operate it. I had to do something fast, and the next punch would surely kill me. He pulled his fist back for the final blow and paused, "You fought well. But like I said, we both die here. Goodbye, Mabien Frost." As he said these words, an insane idea popped into my head.

Just as he was bringing the full force of his fist down to obliterate my skull; I fired my jump-jets. With a roar the rockets tore my body and right arm free from underneath the behemoth, but his grip on my left arm stayed true. The jets struggled to blast me their fifty meters. They pulled the monster with his hand still clamped tightly around my wrist to his feet; dislocating my shoulder in the process. I reached over with my free arm and tried to free his hand, but it was clamped too tightly. The jet started to die, so I fired the second. In response, he reached up and clamped his other massive hand around my arm.

"You… aren't… going… anywhere!" He gasped, the exertion clearly testing whatever remained of his strength. Ligaments and tendons were ripping within my shoulder. I placed both of my feet on his chest, pushed with all my might, and fired the final rocket.

At that moment, pain was all I knew. It was a white hot searing pain. Fire pulsed throughout my entire body as it tore free of my arm. Blood gushed from my shoulder as my arm ripped away. I flew free, rocketing end over end landing head-first in the dirt, skidding and tumbling across the ground another ten meters.

I landed flat on my back with something uncomfortable - a rock I suppose - in the small of it. My suit immediately dumped pain-killers and coagulants into my blood stream trying to staunch the flow of blood and prevent its user from going into shock.

It was too late, and I was already going into shock, and no amount of coagulants in the world would stop the raging torrent now pouring from my shoulder. I was about to die and knew it. I used my remaining arm to reach under and grab whatever was jabbing me in the back so I could die a little more comfortably.

When I reached under to free the rock, my hand wrapped around something vaguely familiar. I tried to free it, but my strength was gone, and my suit's power was so far depleted it could offer little assistance. So I laid there. I laid there and waited to die; bugged by whatever it was that was sticking me in my back.

The Marine, exhausted by our struggle, looked sickly pale and close to falling over. He looked up to the sky at the huge orange globe of Subjuga Prime. "Yes, this is a good place to die."

He slowly headed for my rifle lying on the ground. With great effort, he reached down and picked it up, "I offered you an honorable death by my own hands Mabien." He started for me, checking the rifle to make sure a round was chambered. "I have not the strength left to give you the death you deserve." He looked down at my rifle, "Now I will have to use this… thing."

I just lay there, completely helpless, my body now fully in shock, refused to work; my mind frustrated it couldn't figure out what it was its hand was wrapped around.

The Marine was standing over me, "Do you have anything you wish to say?"

"I do…" adrenaline surged as my brain finally recognized what it was my hand was wrapped around.

He paused to give me a chance to say what was on my mind.

"God the Emperor, give me strength."

"Are those to be your last words?" He said, leveling the bolter on my head.

"No… I don't think they will be." I summoned every last drop of strength in my body and kicked the rifle, causing it to discharge off to the side of me.

Before he knew what was happening, I wrenched my side-arm free, brought it to bear, pulled the trigger, heard that beautiful pop, and watched the bullet smash through his face and take the entire back side of his head off with it.

Chapter 7

I holstered my sidearm and sat up. My vision whited out for a second as I about lost consciousness. Blood was still coming from my shoulder, but significantly slower do to all of the coagulants the suit had dumped into me. I could barely move, but I forced myself to stand. I reached down and pulled my rifle from the lifeless hands of the dead marine.

I checked my chronometer and realized the other one would be getting air-born any minute now. There was no need to even look for my arm. I knew I was going to die. I just wanted to vaporize that bastard before I did, to hell with the evidence.

With much difficulty, I used my damaged HUD to drop the ramp of my cutter and walked to it as fast as I could. Every step was an immense effort. I was moments from passing out. I summoned all of my will and forced my body up the ramp. I fell to a knee as I reached the top and dropped my rifle. I removed my helmet.

Sleep beckoned. My will to live was fading. I was ready to lie down and die.

"Come on Mabien, keep it together." I forced myself to stand and walk the rest of the way to the med locker. I pulled the door open and fumbled through the contents until I found what I was looking for. I grabbed a syringe with a premeasured dose of adrenaline, pulled the cap off with my teeth, and injected it into my neck. I waited a couple of seconds as I felt the powerful drug pump life back into me. I was still dying, but I needed the extra couple of minutes the shot would provide to finish my task.

Legs back under me, I moved with newfound purpose to the front of the cutter and took a seat in the pilot's chair. I stole a look at the ship's chronometer and realized I'd be damn lucky if that Marine weren't off the ground yet. The engines were already idling, so I didn't have to take any time to power them up.

The rockets slammed me back into my seat as I redlined the engines and blasted straight for bombing altitude. I hoped against hope that cutter wasn't yet off the ground yet. I armed the thermos and watched as the site came into view and prayed to the Emperor it was still there. I enhanced the image and found it right where it was supposed to be.

The Marine hadn't even boarded it yet; he was under the wing doing something.

What the?!... I vaguely remembered the pilot I'd shot who was working on the same wing. I increased magnification and smiled when I saw him frantically adjusting something on the engine. Thank the Emperor for small miracles. He finished his work and slammed the hatch shut, looking up just in time to see me launch both missiles.

I watched as the missiles made an arcing descent and distinctly remember thinking their com trails were the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. The slaves were uselessly running away in all directions.

I smiled as the Marine made a series of obscene gestures, he knew he was doomed and didn't even bother to run. Blinding white light forced me to turn off the screen as the nuclear fire annihilated both the site and surrounding forest.

My vision started to blur as bright red life continued to leak from my shoulder. I looked over to Gunney's chair, and a tear fell from my eye. The thought of him gave me the strength I needed to complete the mission. I activated the emergency distress beacon and told the computer to take the Night Hawk into orbit.

As the cutter accelerated for space, I keyed up the Imperial Anthem on the craft's speakers. I sat back in the chair, closed my eyes, and wondered if I'd lived well enough to walk with the Emperor. The crescendo of our Imperial Anthem was the last thing I remember before passing out.
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