Journeying through the desolate landscape was no easy feat. But then, the West Side boys were no novices to the Underhive. They knew, like other seasoned gangs, that silence was a strange occurrence down in the bowls of Hive Primus and past experiences had taught Carillo that the hive never stayed quiet for long.
“Boys, troubles’ brewing”.
No sooner had he spoken these words a glint of light reflected off of what appeared to be a small, round metallic object across the main passageway ahead.
“What do we do boss?” asked Rizzo as he examined his heavy stubber.
“You and Marcano take the high ground” Carillo ordered. “Cover the way ahead and shoot anything that moves.”
As the two Heavies moved to their given positions, Snyder pulled out his weapon. “Finally some action” he exclaimed. “I’ve heard all these stories from when I was a kid about gang-fights in the wastes. Now I get to be a part of it.”
Carillo sighed. He knew how the Juve felt. Everyone had heard stories of clashes in the Underhive and how there was great fame and fortune to be found in this unlikely setting. But he also knew that it often came at great cost. Many Gang members never returned or suffered horrific injuries from these encounters.
Most of today’s opponents seemed to be moving on the right flank. ‘What the hell’, he thought; ‘let’s give the kid a chance’.
“Snyder, you and Shakes move along the left. Try and flank them. Everyone else is with me, straight down the centre. Let’s go.”
As Snyder ran off into the gloom Carillo nodded to Shakes, a gesture the seasoned Ganger understood well. ‘Watch the Juve’.
With his Heavies in support positions, the rest of the gang followed Carillo down the middle of the battle zone. This is how Carillo liked to lead; from the front. This way, he thought, made it easier for him to take charge and manage the gang. It also enabled him to get right into the thick of the fight and give support to those who needed it.
“Movement to the right boss” warned Sully, another experienced member of the West Side Boys.
“What do you see?”
“Difficult to tell in this light but I thought I saw a bell.”
A bell meant one thing, the Apostles. News had spread that a new gang from House Cawdor had begun to venture into the Underhive. Fuelled by religious zeal, the Apostles carried bells to signal the coming Apocalypse. Carillo knew this fanaticism meant they wouldn’t give up easily. They were new to the hive, however.
“Let’s test their devotion. Sully, give them a welcoming shot.”
Sully raised his Lasgun, took aim and fired.
The shot was at near maximum range for a Lasgun and everyone thought it would be more of a warning shot than a killing blow. But the unexpected was more common than not in the Underhive.
On the left flank of the battle zone Snyder and Shakes had made it into an abandoned structure. “What was that?” Snyder asked his designated chaperone.
“Lasgun by the sound of it.” Shakes replied.
“Great!” cried the frustrated Juve. “My first fight and I’m miles away from the action!”
“Come on kid. If there’s shooting going on that means Carillos’ going to need our help.” He pointed to a large building that ran parallel with the main path. “See that building over there?”
“Yeah” said Snyder as he moved into the doorway.
“I want you to –
But Snyder had gone.
‘Damn Juves’ Shakes thought as he moved into a covering position.
Sully’s shot connected with its target, sending an Apostle Heavy crashing to the floor. Moments later, two figures pulled the body out of sight.
“He’s out!” exclaimed a jubilant Sully, still amazed by his ballistic skill.
‘One down’ thought Carillo but he needed more information on the Apostles numbers before he could feel relieved.
“Lucky, move up above Sully and see if you can spot anything”.
As Lucky climbed the ladder, however, there followed a noise which Carillo was all too familiar with. Lasgun fire reverberated off of the metallic hull of the hive. And Sully dropped to the floor.
The West Side Boys stared in horror as Sully hit the ground, rolled over and crawled back behind the wall.
“I’m ok boss.” Sully gasped as he clutched his chest. “They ain’t as good as me”.
“Boss” Lucky cried from above, “You need to see this.”
Carillo peeked through a corroded hole in the wall in front of him and saw Cristo, another Juve who had been raised by the Boys since childhood, run out into the middle of the main pathway ahead.
“He must have thought Sully was out” said Lucky from above.
‘Damn it’ Carillo thought. The last thing he needed was a vengeful Juve with a death-wish.
“He’s raising his pistol” shouted Lucky.
‘Cawdor fools’ thought Cristo. ‘Thinking they can take on the West Side Boys, well I’ll show them.’
He raised his Laspistol at the closest Apostle in front of him and pulled the trigger. He expected to hear the sound of a body hitting the dirt, just like Sully had managed to do. To his horror, Cristo heard instead the sound of an empty ammo clip.
As he stood there frozen with fear he realized just how exposed he was and how reckless he had been. As he waited for the pain that would inevitably consume him, Cristo closed his eyes and heard the sound of gunfire.
“Time to teach these Cawdor a lesson” Rizzo shouted to Marcano as he opened up with his Heavy Stubber. The bullets rained down on a small group of Apostles as they moved out of a building to attack Cristo. Rizzo felt relieved when an Apostle Ganger took a couple of rounds and fell to the floor unable to move.
“I can’t get a shot” Marcano shouted over the roar of the heavy weapon. But Rizzo ignored him as he was engrossed in the carnage below.
Then out of the corner of his eye, Marcano saw movement in a second storey window of a building on the far left of the battle zone. The same building that Snyder was running towards.
Without thinking, Marcano raised his grenade launcher and pulled the trigger.
‘Almost there’ thought Snyder as he approached the building ahead of him. From his position at the far edge of the battle zone, he could see muzzle flashes off in the distance.
Then something else caught his attention.
In the window above him, Snyder saw what appeared to be a cloak moving out of the shadows, coming along the front aspect of the building.
No sooner had he spotted the Apostle above him, there came the sound of metal striking metal as a grenade bounced off of the window frame where the Apostle had just moved from.
There was a brilliant flash and the next thing Snyder felt was a blast of heat directly in front of him. As he recoiled from the wayward grenade, he heard two shots fly past his head.
From his elevated position, Lucky was able to witness both Cristo and Snyder’s fortunate escapes. “They’re both O.K!” he shouted down to the West Side Boys in the ruins opposite.
“Good” shouted back Carillo
“NO WAIT!” screamed Lucky
“It’s Cristo. He’s pulled out his knife and is charging towards the Apostles on the –
There was a flash of light from the window across from Lucky as the remaining Apostle Heavy opened fire.
Carillo cried out the name of his fellow gang member but there was no response. Then blood began to drip from the walkway that Lucky had been up on.
“I’m out” Rizzo informed his fellow Heavy.
“Same” replied Marcano.
“Time for plan B” said Rizzo as he swung his Lasgun from his shoulder strap and fired off a shot in one fluid motion. The shot missed but startled its target.
Marcano also prepared his Lasgun but could see no targets.
Too late he saw a series of muzzle flashes and seconds later, Lucky had fallen.
Feeling aggrieved by the downing of his fellow Gang member, Marcano aimed down the barrel of his weapon and fired.
The silhouette of the remaining Apostle Heavy melted back into the surrounding shadows as a heavy thud reverberated across the battle zone.
“Nice shot” said Rizzo.
“No” Marcano replied, “It should have come sooner.”
Snyder staggered through the grenades impact zone still amazed he was still alive.
In his dazed state, however, he had forgotten all about the Apostle in the building above him.
He then felt a warm sensation as his senses slowly returned. He soon wished they hadn’t. The pain that followed was unbearable. Snyder raised his head and let loose a spine-shilling scream. He looked down at his hands which had erupted into beacons of flame. As he rolled around on the floor in agony, Snyder caught a glimpse of an Apostle Juve staring down at him with cold eyes and a sadistic grin.
Cristo opened his eyes and saw the Apostle Gang members cowering in front of him, pinned by Heavy Stubber fire. Suddenly, he felt a surge of adrenaline surge through his body and, seizing the moment, unsheathed his knife and charged at the nearest Juve.
The Juve began to raise his weapon and it was in this sudden moment that Cristo realized he wouldn’t reach his target in time.
Then out of nowhere, Riley appeared in front of him. The Ganger pushed the Juves weapon aside and punched him hard in the chest three times.
There came the sound of a gunshot behind him and Cristo saw an Apostle Ganger drop to the ground to his left. He hadn’t even noticed he was there.
Cristo turned to see Carillo stood coolly behind him. “Don’t worry kid; we’ve got your back.”
Father Joseph had waited patiently for this moment. He had watched the chaos ensue around him but now was the moment to strike. He kicked open the door that had served as his bulwark throughout the encounter and stepped into the street.
Before the infidels could react to his sudden appearance, Father Joseph unleashed a torrent of flame into the back of the Orlock leader.
At the sight of their leader ablaze, the rest of the House of Iron Gang broke and ran. “Hail to the Emperor and the Cult of Redemption!” cried out Father Joseph into the darkness.
The Apostles had won.
John of Team Gambit