The Dead Cannot Cry Out For Justice, Part 13

Battle Without Honor or Humanity

Characters: Margaret Morgan, Tomás Darquin, Eddie Kriechbaum

The rogue Huka clan skittered into the battered foyer, led by a pair of ambassador-grade Gaim spurring them on with angry waves of their translator wands. The sound of their entrance ran through the walls of the ground floor like a scrambling brood of rats. The two Gaim could be heard storming through the first two rooms, both already open.

The noise they made when they actually found a closed door and charged in was like an explosion. The room didn’t look like much, only a pair of chairs, a desk, and Baz’hak’s club to be seen. One of the Gaim snatched it off the desk, making it painfully clear they had told him not to leave it around.

The Gaim stopped for a moment, thinking. Then it looked up, right at Ranger Kriechbaum hiding in a corner above the desk.

“Damn it.”

One Gaim spun around at Darquin’s voice. He dove out, releasing his fighting pike, and scooped the Gaim’s metal feet off the floor with a hard upward swing.

The surprise gave Kriechbaum time to drop down, flatten the other Gaim, reach over and scoop up what was his….

Darquin was already barging into the foyer, rolling past the mob of Huka, between their feet, and landing in front of the stairs. Turning to track him, the Huka drew their weapons–PPGs and slug throwers, curved Narn and Drazi punch daggers.

Their eyes were on him when Kriechbaum charged in, pike ready, and swept their rear flank with a hard blow. Darquin slammed his fighting pike through the Huka at the same time, who were now caught in a wild, rapid-fire melee on two fronts. In unison the two Rangers windmilled away from the Huka’s response — a barrage of bullets and plasma fire.

Darquin was clearing the bannister when Morgan and Guardian Gahara led a wave of Rangers into a head-on assault, crashing into the scattered Huka at the foot of the stairs. The stairs and doors were all blocked off.

Morgan and her team were at the heart of the expanding chaos, penned in at the foot of the staircase, plowing through the Huka mob. Kriechbaum and Darquin each grabbed a Huka by the scruff and plunged into the fray. The mob was unprepared for the sheer fury of just a handful of Rangers. Attacks from behind didn’t stop them. A Ranger spun around with a whip kick. Or pulled her elbow back into the attacker’s face. Or broke the rogue’s limb. Or another Ranger wrenched the attacker off the floor and punished them further, brief and brutal.

When Morgan met Darquin and Kriechbaum in the middle of the brawl, with a shout she sent the battle toward the front entrance. Her team surged through the tangle. Kriechbaum and Darquin covered their retreat with merciless arcs from their fighting pikes.

Then they ran, diving through the doorway, whistling bullets and hissing plasma raining all around them.

The mob ran after them as expected, pouring into the open street. Presuming the attackers had fled, they completely overlooked Gahara and the Rangers where they had split up, pressing against the building on either side.

And then came the second wave. Overhead, another Ranger team dropped lines from the second floor and crashed down on the Huka mob. Morgan and Darquin closed the way back, forming a pincer, forcing the rogue Huka to fight on two fully manned fronts.

A battle cry rang out — not words, just utter rage — running through the open street, emptying every building. These Rangers had had enough.

Now they attacked in full fury. A cloud of dust and deflected weapons exploded around them. The Huka mob shattered into a disjointed series of twisting, falling bodies. Morgan stripped targets of their weapons with a sharp kick, pivot, and a volley of open-handed strikes. Behind her, a drawn knife earned a punch in the face from Darquin. Kriechbaum and his fighting pike broke gun hands.

Gahara couldn’t keep up. She held her own, relatively unscathed, but even she wasn’t prepared for the Anla’shok assault. When a fresh squad of Huka Guardians ran into the street, Gahara waved her sisters back and watched. The rogues were disarmed, overwhelmed, defenseless. But the Anla’shok didn’t stop.

That was when she understood. This was more than defense. This was a message: Move against one, and suffer the wrath of all.

Only when the enemy’s will was crushed, their numbers exhausted and defeated, did the Rangers withdraw. They encircled the fallen rogues, looking for the slightest sign of resistance. The overlapping hiss-shink of each fighting pike folding at once set off a nervous twitch in everyone watching.

Morgan, Kriechbaum, and Darquin stepped out of the ring to meet the Huka Guardians.

“Gahara! Is this all of them?” Morgan called out.

“They are the last,” Gahara said. “The rest are surrendering to the other colonies for mercy, even now. News of this has spread quickly.”

“So what happens to them now?” Darquin asked.

“The elders of the fallen House must answer to the elders of Uvew. If she had no role in this, the queen may start a new colony. The rest will be kept where they can fend for themselves. They will live alone.”

Darquin turned to Morgan, confused. “Banished,” she said.

“Kicked outta the commune?”

Gahara nodded. “As you say. They will fend for themselves. We regret the harm done to your people, Anla’shok. We thank you.”

“And you, for working with us. You’re welcome to call on us again.”

Morgan gave Darquin and Kriechbaum a solemn nod as they were smuggling a grin to one other, then led the way back to the shuttle.

Forming up on them, the other Rangers followed in columns, silent rivers of dark grey. Haggard and bloodied as they were, they gathered and left the field of battle unopposed. Drifting up the street like storm clouds.

Like legends.

ISA Phoenix–“The Dead Cannot Cry Out For Justice, Part 13” © 2004 Jamie Lawson, Leslie McBride, Joe Medina

Babylon 5 tm and © 2004 Warner Bros.

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