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Chapter 13: The battle below

The sounds of clashing metals echoes in the dark corridors of Marine Ford's interior as janissaries clash with marines, blades clash, while bullets, arrows and energy blasts sing their songs of death. They could hear the sounds of the ongoing battle from outside, the rumblings of artillery barrages shook the masonries around them, yet they could spare neither time nor energy to think about it, not when their enemies are swarming into the interior of the fortress, threatening to overrunning them and cutting them off. Doberman snarls, sword flashing, cutting down another janissary coming too close to him, only to grunts in frustration as his victim disappears into flash of light, replaced by a dozen more.

- Dammit. Fall back! Fall back into the old ruins! - The vice admiral roars, pulling out his pistol to shoot down another janissary as they overrun the last pockets of marines.

They've been pushed deeper and deeper under the fortress, taking on more and more casualties as a splinter attack force of the invaders has broke through their defenses into the interior of the surface. Janissaries, they call themselves, professional soldiers that can go toe to toe with even high ranking officers of the marines in one on one combat, but these "people" aren't fond of one on one combat. They move in packs, fight in tight formations with tall shields forming bastions to protect the archers and gunners behind, while the basic infantries armed with swords and round shields engage the marines. To make matters worse, this splinter force is being reinforced by the small, children-like warriors they've seen in the surface, hundreds of them are now pouring through the corridors, accompanied by the reptilian beasts cladded in black armors and warrior women with barbed spears and axes, their massive shields impervious to the marines' weapons.

The vice admiral clenches his teeth, mouth barking orders for the fleeing marines to avoid the passage ways that lead to the surface, purposely detonating explosives to block their path as they retreat deeper and deeper under the fortress. Their enemies would either have to retreat the way they came from, or be delayed long enough for the surface forces to make a different. The sounds of the battle above have all faded into nothingness now, replaced by the hastened footsteps of the marines, the orders barked in the strange language of their pursuers and the sounds of ragged volleys of projectiles.

They're venturing deeper under the island above, getting closer and closer to the large catacomb beneath their city, and still their enemies are still chasing them. The surrounding walls of metal and crude bricks built by the marines are far behind them now, replaced by seemingly fused bluish green marble, with pictographs and glyphs glowing dimly decorating every inch of the corridors, sectioned off by beautifully and intricately carved frames, each seemingly telling a different story. The restricted areas, the vice admiral realized as he orders his men to continue to run, to abandon their bewilderments and surprise from discovering such wondrous and terrible things just beneath them. The fools, the vice admiral thinks, fully aware of the fate that awaits them should they survive.

- Hold this position! Use the old turrets! - Doberman roars as they reach an archway leading into a large chamber storing many auto gun turrets, illuminated by a cluster of green crystal glowing balefully on the ceiling.

- What is this place? - A commodore asks in bewilderment, eyes darting from one wall covered in pictographs to another as some of the garrison soldiers of Marine Ford man the turrets.

- Pay no attention to it, get behind the turrets and keep the men going, we'll hold them off. - Doberman barks, pushing the commodore toward the doorway on the other side of the chamber, he himself unsheathing his sword and taking up position next to the turrets.

The marines wait with baited breaths for the enemies to appear, the chamber they're in illuminated dimly only by the glowing glyphs on the walls and the crystals on the ceiling, not unlike those inscribed on the poneglyphs, but at the same time, different. Clutching at his sword, the vice admiral takes in deep, shuddering breaths to calm his nerves as he looks at his men, seeing the same traits of exhaustions, fear and uncertainty plaguing him, and at the same time, relief. Marine Ford was built upon the ruins of an ancient temple complex housing many terrible technology and secrets, predating even the oldest records of their history. The keeping of said secrets have been challenging, every marines that have reached a certain ranks, or deployed into specific cites built upon ancient complexes are forced to swear a vow of secrecy. In these cites, the marines and the World Government conduct unspeakable experiments on captured pirates and unruly citizens, sometime even former marines and deserters.

The invaders are very close now, Doberman can hear their chattering coming just around the corner, along with their hastened footsteps. His fingers coil around his sword, so tightly that it stings, the sensation made even worse by the sweats tickling his pawn and the heat rising with each of his shuddering breaths as he looks into the dark corridor where the sounds are echoing from. Next to him, the soldiers manning the turrets stand, unease, glaring from their commander, to their comrades and to the dark doorway. They're afraid, yet at the same time they're relieved, if this is where they fall, at the very least, the fear of their families being hunted down by the government for leaking the secret information would cease.

The vice admiral unsheathes his sword, long and true, its blade forged from the best of steel and stained with the blood of dozens perhaps hundreds he's cut down, has it not for today and the enemies they're facing, no doubt it'd cut down many, many more. He takes one final overall glance of his soldiers, what pitiful remains of them manning the turrets to cover the others retreat, hoping that their enemies would be sated with the blood bath that's about to happen.

***

Breiton brings his sword down to another marine soldier, the blade glowing green with eldritch energy cuts through flesh and bones like butter, the heat splattering the inside of the human onto the stone floor. The apocrypha snarls of disgust, seeing such primitive beasts being allowed into such sacred place, before making his way toward the small opening, with doorways leading to many different directions that have been sealed off by explosives, save for one where the marines have retreated into. A dozens other lesser apocryphas study the glyphs and pictographs still intact on the wall, their enhanced eyes gaze upon such marvels, their claws timidly caress the still glowing carvings with a handful of warriors still remaining with them.

- This defies reasons. - Breiton mutters quietly, bringing his glowing sword near to a major panel on the wall, the light of the blade causing those of the glyphs to fade.

- Such things should not exist. - An apocrypha says in hushed tone. - Not in a place like this.

- The glyphs and symbols here are nothing like I've seen before. - Another one remarks, running her clawed finger through the myriad of symbols on her holographic screens projecting from her wrist device.

- Of course you wouldn't. - Breiton says, tail swaying slowly as he deactivates his sword, letting the glyphs' glow to shine through, before running his fingers on the walls. - This is Yigg'ai dialect, language of the Serpent Kings.

- The Father of Serpents? - The other apocrypha hisses, immediately followed by the others shrieking in fear and hatred. - Are you certain? This is no laughing matter. If these primitives can grab the full magnitude of the thing they've built their city on…

- Have no fear. - Breiton gestures dismissively. - Whatever built this place have either been wiped out or being forced away during the Aeon of Rebellion. But this complex, - The Anacondrai runs his hand on the glyphs, feeling energy still flowing in them. - this have been activated before.

- What do you mean? - One of the other apocrypha asks.

The High Apocrypha doesn't answers, his clawed fingers channel energy into the wall, tuning his with that of the complex. The chamber thrums and sparks with greenish electric energy, torrents of faint lights run across the wall, focusing in front of the apocryphas and projecting themselves into holographic screens and panels.

- Fascinating. - Breiton smiles, fingers surfing through the panels, accessing data banks and system controls. - Information indicates that this facility has been in dormant mere centuries after its construction, almost ten millennia before now.

- Then death has truly embraced the whole of the Yigg'ai. - One of the warriors says in relief, the others silently bowing their heads, muttering quiet prayers as they do.

- Yet this complex has been awoken many times before. - Breiton continues, eyes darting from one line of data to another. - The first time was some nine hundreds and seventy solar cycle before now, and the last merely several years ago.

- Then there's still a chance that whoever or whatever have awaken such terrible things are still on this planet. - The other apocrypha snarls, eyes glaring at the entrance where the human have disappeared to. - And they're in cahoots with these beasts.

- Regardless, we should relay this to the Conquissiarch as soon as we ca…

Breiton's words are disrupted by the frantic screaming of elves and janissary vanguards that have chased after the fleeing human, alongside with the sounds of energy beams being rapidly fired. Before the Anacondrai could think of anything to comprehend it, the two monitor panels automatically opened on the holographic screen much to his and his entourage's surprise. One showing the vanguard forces, pinned down behind a corner of the corridor by energy beams, several of them wounded, with ones that have charged into the corridor decimated, teleported back to their base from their severe injuries. On the other panel, the Anacondrai sees the source of their distress, a dozen or so marines, manning three turrets covering the chamber they're in with overlapping volleys of burning energy beams, not unlike that used by the Empire. Yet these are primitive, crude and outdated, relics from ancient times, defiled by savage beasts who don't know anything about the marvel they've come across. Breiton scoffs in disgust, fingers dance across the panels, selecting and adjusting commands, before ordering his forces to continue.

***

- Where's Breiton!? - Ulrich barks, his voice drowned out by the sounds of the barrage of suppressing fires. - Where's our psychic supports?!

- Lord Breiton and his forces have yet to catch up, m'lord! - An elven warrior shrieks, eyeing the splattered blood in the corridors where their vanguards have charged through, only to be pummeled by volleys of energy beams and teleported back to the battleships, their energy shields overwhelmed and broken.

- Dammit! - The Anacondrai commander hisses. - We'll have to find another way to attack them. We cannot let those weapons get to the surface.

- That won't be necessary.

Breiton's voice booms in the corridor and into the chamber itself as energy gathers, manifesting as electric sparks that cause the glyphs on the walls to glow intensely. The barrage of energy beams has stopped, replaced by the rapid clicking of empty gun barrels, their energy, the ammunitions, siphoned from them to charge the chamber they're in. Keen Anacondrai ears hear the sounds of confusion coming from the chamber up ahead, where some of their numbers were felled, the mere thoughts burn inside the mind, urging them to charge in slaughter those within. Yet they don't, instinct telling them to halt their assault.

The vanguards hear the marines begin to panic and flee, their commander barking orders at them to force them to stay. But it's a futile attempt, a low hum rings from the chamber as the glyphs and crystal charge up. Blinding lights erupt from the chamber, forcing the attackers to back away and cover their eyes as electric sparks tear through the defenders' ranks. Charred husks are flung across the chamber, crumbling into ashes with green embers as they're smashed against the walls, floor and ceiling before the amazed attackers' eyes.

As sudden as it's started, the flashes and roaring of ancient and deadly machineries cease, yet not silenced completely as the sounds of energy winding down and the sizzling of steams can still be heard. Ulrich lowers his hand shielding his face, gleaming dark golden eyes look in disbelief at the charred corpse at the corridor right in front of him, the only one that's managed to escape the initial burst, but not quick enough. The Anacondrai commander lowers his long rifle, aiming the barrel at the corpse or what remains of it, still burning with small patches of green ember. Cautiously, he pokes it, hearing the gasps coming from his followers as the corpse simply disintegrate into a pile of ashes, before turning around to face Breiton walking down the corridor with his entourage.

- What have you done? - The sniper hisses at his comrade.

- I solved your problem for you. - The Grand Apocrypha snickers back, tilting his head in a playful manner, emerald green eyes almost flashing in the dimly lit corridor, before turning to the corpse.

- Answer the damn question, what did you do? - Ulrich barks, taking another step toward the lanky Anacondrai.

- I activated the complex's defense system. - Breiton replies softly, frowning at his friend for his lack of foresight. - This entire subterranean complex is a weapon.

- What? - Ulrich's eyes widen. - Are you certain?

- Certainly. - The other inquisitor replies, fingers surfing through the holographic screen on his wrist, his eyes scan the chamber, watching torrents of energy still flowing through the glyphs toward the doorway on the otherside. - It'd seems that my tinkering has awaken more of the facility, the energy is there, but it's clogged, until now.

- So this…weapon… - Ulrich narrows his eyes at his friend as they move into the chamber.

- Is still mostly dormant. - Breiton tilts his head playfully as he replies, his staff thrums with magic, pulsing along with the fluctuating energy of the complex. - These primitives have only scratched the surface, leeching from the enormous energy source below.

- Then we should claim it, - Ulrich nods, lifting his rifle as he walks to his friend's side. - for the invasion and for the Empire.

- For the Empire. - The Apocrypha murmurs in agreement. - We should get going and secure the energy source, the Conquissiarch would want a hasty recovery of it.

- You…don't know…what…you're doing…

The two inquisitors turn their gazes down, looking at the half dead marine vice admiral clinging at the fringe of Breiton's cape. The human is inches from death, the energy overcharge that has killed his entire regiment has also rendered his legs useless, once they're powerful limbs that could launch their owner in great distances, now they're but two charred stumps crumbling into ashes. Yet despite his injuries, despite the blood gushing out from his mouth, splattering onto the cold floor already blackened with the ashen remains of his men, he still clings on, eyes staring at the strange…beasts in front of him. He was fast enough to dodge the full strike of the electrical barrage, having sensed the rising energy by his Haki, yet that wasn't enough, his legs were caught in the initial burst of energy, the intense heat reduced his limbs to ash and the energy itself ripped through his body, boiling his blood and rupturing his internal organs. Doberman coughs, his grip on the fabric adorning the creature only tightens despite his dying breaths, he can't let them get any deeper. He can't let them get access to the thing they've kept imprisoned here. They cannot be allowed to stir it from its slumber.

- Get your filthy hand off him you animal. - Ulrich snarls, his massive rifle aimed directly at the human's head.

- Hold. - The other inquisitor pushes his friend's gun aside, eyes still glued to the vice admiral, curious to what he have to say. - Let him speak.

- Speak? - The other turns to face him, bearing his fangs in disbelief. - You would hear this…primitive ramble on?

- I would. - Breiton snarls back, jamming his staff on the floor to make a point. - Any bit of information we can get without spending any resource on is worth it. Now, - The Anacondrai tears his cape from the marine's hand, before slowly kneeling down. - what are you hinting at?

- You listen here…and you listen good… - Doberman barks between each bloody cough, hand stretching toward the creature's face, yet find him always just out of reach. - There's…something dark…ancient here…horrible things…you don't know…what you're doing… You're all going to burn! WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!

- I have had enough of this.

Before Breiton could have said anything, he sees a long barrel the diameter of his coiled fist aimed at the human. The Apocrypha opens his mouth, inhaling a quick a deep breath to call for his friend to cease, but it is too late. He sees his friend pulls the trigger of his gun, he sees a flash of blinding light momentarily overwhelming even the light in the chamber, the shock wave and sound of the blast deafening compared to the low, almost gentle humming of the swirling energy of the complex. In a blink of an eye, the human has disappeared, most of him, his upper body has been splattered all over the chamber's floor and wall. Red, wet streaks smearing over the sacred glyphs and carvings, with chunks of seared flesh and broken bones sliding down ancient walls, a repulsive sight that causes the Apocrypha's usually calms emerald eyes to shoot open in rage.

- You Imbecile! - Breiton barks, snapping his head toward Ulrich.

- What?! What did I do?! - The other hisses, backing off from his friend's sudden rage.

- You Arasai and your trigger happy fingers! - The Apocrypha roars, slamming his staff onto the floor. - Not only did you stop him from coughing out information, you desecrated this chamber with his blood! Have you any idea how compromised this delicate and ancient technology will become if not cleansed thoroughly?!

- We will have all the time in this pathetic mud ball when we're finish cleansing it for the Empire. - Ulrich snarls back, hand gesturing for his regiments to continue chasing down the marines that have retreated further and deeper underground. - Beside, this place's gonna flood with blood anyway when those damn blood elves and vampires performing their blood magic.

- You're just as pig headed as any of them. - The Apocrypha shakes his head, his staff of twisting metal and swirling magic rises signaling his forces to follow, leaving only handful of his own personal guards to remain. - Can't you see? You've squandered our chance to learn about these complexes. What good is a subjugating a planet if you won't keep killing the civilians? We need them Ulrich.

- For fuel and workforces! - The sniper hisses back. - They're vermin! Nothing more! Nothing less! Find authorized novels in Webnovel, faster updates, better experience, Please click <a href="https://www.webnovel.com/book/inquisitor-fire-and-steel_17357350506646305/the-battle-below_50040112699997606">www.webnovel.com/book/inquisitor-fire-and-steel_17357350506646305/the-battle-below_50040112699997606</a> for visiting.

- They may be vermin, but even the Lord Inquisitor, and the Emperor wouldn't agree with you murdering them without just cause. - Breiton snarls, turning way to join his entourage to inspect the blood stained wall, his armored hand brushing agains the red fluid smearing the ancient stone, conjuring magic to clean the blood away, only to realize that the blood isn't just clinging onto the wall, the energy's directing it deeper into the complex.

- What is it now? - Ulrich approaches, sniffing at the line of blood flowing through the many veins and carving on the wall, gaining speed as it does.

- The complex…it's drawing blood…to awakening something. - Breiton narrows his eyes, then backs off, seeing dozens then hundreds of blood tendrils running on the walls and ceiling toward the dark doorway on the other side of the chamber. - Something's sleeping under this complex, and it's asking to be released.


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