- With Flandre's move, an ork died. Greenskins had some of the worst aim in the galaxy, but to hit one of their own in front of a desired target was child's play. Their combined blows swiftly tore into its organs, though their efforts would not rid Flandre of her shield. Nor did that stop her makeshift missile from having its effect. Most of the remaining greenskins staggered back, a couple of them even fell.
The Nob dodged out of the way where his colleagues fumbled, looking increasingly frustrated as the vampire handily dodged his initial attack. -
" 'Ow. da. zog. are. yoo. doin.' dis?! Oi dun seez no rokkit pak on yoo, gurly-wor?
- For a split-second, the greenskin's face bunched in confusion. In the next splitsecond, it shifted into what looked like a rueful sigh. -
" Aw, zz-
- The subsequent burst of danmaku knocked him off his feet and sailing through through the air, to slam into the other greenskins as they began scrambling for cover far too late (the sound of them clunking together on the floor was peculiarly resonant). Flandre's spell lit the corridor with bright flashes of white and orange, giving her a proper look at her surroundings as they were meant to be seen.
Great vistas multifarious opened up in the light, each gradually shifting into the next in procession before repeating from the beginning; orchards of shining green foliage bearing fruit heavy with juice and flesh, apples deep scarlet
and ready to drop from their branches, dripping dark plums hanging from another, mottled white and orange citrus from another still, and jet-berried vines twining themselves round the trunks; rolling hills covered in ochre grass as far as the horizon, leading down into shimmering blue ponds and brooks filled with thick pads in full yellow bloom; flat plains laden in bronze grain and broad fans of gencorn waving in the grasp of white-clad zephyrs;
vineyards stretching across terraces taller than many mountains, their argentine tendrils reaching up to the heavens with fruit of red, green, burgundy, teal, and many other hues; lustrous coastlines with gilt beaches encroached by silver waves, towering spiny frond-trees with their hardened cargo loosing white milk.
None of these landscapes were devoid of life either, which came in myriad forms from across Sector and Imperium. Flyers of every sort made their way through the skies and rested among the branches, from Carybdi songbirds resplendent in bright viridian and deep blues, to imposing Proserpinan rohks soaring on wings of white and black over the plains, to piscine screekers serenely floating on diaphanous wing-fins over water, and especially including the Imperium's own green and golden eagles, stern and noble in expression as they watched the life below. Plenty of creatures roamed the ground and water as well, and in myriad just as varied. The most frequently seen of the beasts were the sturdy grox, great scaly hides rippling with muscle and fat, alternating between grazing peacefully on whichever vegetation was nearby and angrily chasing interlopers away. Among the trees, great blue-grey Demi-Pachyderms foraged for ferns and fallen leaves, some reaching up with their bristling trunks to snatch low-hanging fruit from the branches. Quasi-mustelid naugas snuck around the grasses, their hairless beige hides glistening. Over the meadows, horned caprine-esque dakdaks from the Tiraxus moon bounded, red and yellow coats agleam. In the waters too, aquatic life swam about. Bony fish and great spiny eels lurked about in the fresh water, leaping above the weedy safety before the lure. At the coasts, puce crustacean scuttlers clattered in and out of the surf in their annual dance, their clawed quartets menacing all who drew near, while carnivorous amphisauri watched hungrily from the shallows, six webbed limbs paddling and long mane-collared necks craned.
Mankind peopled these landscapes in its way. Farmers in straw hats and dungarees worked the fields with sickles and mowplows, mopping their brows before they took in a bountiful harvest. Laughing ruddy-faced alcomakers smashed barrelfuls of fruit with circular power-pressers, taking a merry swig of the result. Hunting parties hared after their prey on foot or mounted astride eight-legged destriers (resplendent in brocaded jackets of red and green), magnebows or longlas rifles flashing while mastiffs corralled the beasts. Halo-headed saints and didacts taught their wisdom to eager students standing around them in cassocks, holding up their hands in symbolic gestures of benediction to the heavens. At long tables covered in fine linens at the forest edge, revellers clad in every colour imaginable dined, danced, and caroused the day away at a tremendous banquet; with them too were musicians of all sorts, flautists, violists, lectrumpeters, pipers, lyrists, all moving with the merriment.
And above them all, shining down magnificent rays of golden light wreathed with energetic flame was the Sun, its stern and watchful visage unmistakable beneath its laurel crown. Such an orb hung over every scene, linked to each other by vast wings of bronze all the way down the hall.
Meanwhile, the two hostage children hid behind the ranks of retinue and stormtroopers (themselves training their guns on the greenskins warily for if the xenos rose again), watching Flandre's destructive power with oohs and aahs. They would not notice Arcturus and company until they were practically upon them thanks to this. -
- Akusigos' countermeasures collided and interacted with the greenskin suicide packets as he predicted. However, while the alien data dissolved, it also released power into the conduits back up toward the tamperer origin point. This had the effect of filling the conduits in that direction with transfer interference. The interference appeared to have halted the flow of further greenskin data packets, but a second later the tamperer extended tendril programs outward from itself in an effort to clear the way. -
Docking Bay Hall
For a time, this posting remained unmolested, the centre of the Imperial toehold on Persepolis
filled with comms noise from the pickets and the Regnal Fist
. Mononobe no Futo would be able to hear only snatches of it, owing to the Stormtroopers and their Lieutenant sticking strictly to commbeads in the presence of their "guest." For the most part, they watched her out of the corners of their eyes, not speaking a word to her unless they needed the Gensokyoan to move out of the way. They certainly didn't trust her.
Skirmishes were happening whenever the Tiraxans ran into greenskin bands, so the distant roar of bolters and hellguns was a semi-regular part of the background noise. The Lieutenant had even begun to relax his posture ever so slightly as he calmly listened (and responded) to his men's reports. From afar to the east came a loud crash, the sound of a heavy weapon blasting through plaster and marble, the muffled shouts on the vox prompting the Lieutenant to whirl toward the main hall clasping a hand to his ear. -
"Say again, Zerim? The interference is coming back-"
- Another crash echoed down the corridor, closer this time. The sound of many
projectiles plinking off walls, ceiling, and floor came with it and followed incessantly afterward. If Futo listened carefully, she could hear the man on the other side of the line shouting something about 'wounded' and 'multiple Heavy contacts' before the officer barked his next orders, waving the men with him into readiness. -
"Zerim, fall back to ready point ASAP, leave Andropov if critical, we'll rally here!"
- At this point, one of the stormtroopers clamped a gauntlet down on Futo's shoulder. -
"Right, miss, you're coming with our formation. Any special talents you have would come in handy now."
- As if to prompt her, two stormtroopers scrambled into the frayed and battered entranceway, one leaning against the other in a near collapse with an entire arm and part of a shoulder missing. Hundreds of tiny needles and rays perforated the spot where they had just been. -