Intermezzo

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They arrived.

Heinrich was disorientated from the dizzying experience. Then reality came crashing down on him. A grenade tore away the rooftop across a small square ahead of him, and he could hear the smattering of small arms fire. Suddenly a spear of fire stabbed into a corner of the square he couldn't see and he ordered his men to spread out.

Another explosion removed the wall behind him and he knew where the gun must be placed. He turned in time to see another line of fire streaking towards the hideout he was targeting.

Heinrich was striding out into the square when one of his men started to launch missiles into the gun emplacement. The roar of explosions had yet to reach his ears before he joined the onslaught with a barrage of antipersonnel high explosive rounds aimed at the gunners he saw crouching in the corner. They went down, but not before a missile impacted in a body walker, tearing machine and soldier apart.

"Cease fire!" Heinrich raised his visor. "Cease fire!" he repeated. "Status?"

The whizzing sound of a body walker came up behind him. "Joseph down, sir."

"Anyone else?"

All reported in. All but Joseph. He would never complain about broken rules again. Heinrich blinked away tears from his eyes.

Damn! All the way here and we get killed by our own. Bitch! I'll get you! "Bitch, do you hear me? I'll get you!"

#

When dreams come true you wish they are not nightmares. When dreams came true, they were. Marching down the streets of Belgera in search of an enemy. Seven demons from hell striding through opposition and bystanders alike. Whoever raised a weapon against them went down in a hailstorm of grenades - those who fled lived to tell about the nightmare when outworlder justice was meted out in the fortified capital of Braka.

Such was the harsh wrath of the metal wraiths that children and soldiers alike ran from the apparitions among them. The mages, even the proud battle mages of Belgera, fled when facing the rage of the outworlder demons, and that had never happened before.

#

Heinrich had ordered his men to rest, but he was still wandering aimlessly around the streets in his body walker an hour later when he finally found Christina Ulfsdotir.

She looked smaller than he had expected. Far from the monster who'd awakened the battle rage in his assault group. Tired and scared, stumbling along a street as if sleepwalking with empty, unseeing eyes. Unreal it would all end like this.

A voice disturbed his thoughts. "We've been told she's your responsibility." A monster out of legend came out of the shadows and Heinrich swirled, weapons ready to fire. The clicking sound of barrels slowly rotating echoed between the houses. Yes, it was the monster who had spoken. Larger than a gorilla but upright in a way no monkey was. Potentially a threat.

"I'd advice against attacking an ally." That voice came from behind him.

Heinrich decided to lower his weapons. The fury fueling him earlier was long since gone. "Who are you?" he asked into the air, not even bothering to ask why he could understand their language and even less to question why a hairy, giant ape was an ally.

"I'm Imperial Colonel Trindai de Laiden." The voice became a figure as a man strode to stand beside the over-sized monkey. "She," the man pointed at Christina, "is an outworlder renegade. We demand that she be extracted and put to trials. We also demand that she never returns here." Middle aged, still strong and with the airs of a veteran. Torn clothes showing he'd taken part of the battle here earlier.

Suits me, Heinrich thought. "She'll be tried on Earth."

"Acceptable. Just make sure to get her out of here as fast as possible."

"I will." Heinrich kept his attention on the officer, but it was impossible not to glance at the monkey towering behind. "Who's you ally?"

"I am Gring ghara Khat and I don't need a halfman to speak for me."

Heinrich threw Trindai a bewildered look but only received an amused smile in return.

"No offense meant, sir," Heinrich said uncertainly to Gring.

Gring bowed. "I'm not offended. How could I be by one who needs armor to stand straight?"

Heinrich shook his head. "If you excuse, I'll take care of the newscaster now," he said before scooping up Christina Ulfsdotir in his arms. "Hello sweetie. You're going home." He saw the hatred in her eyes. "I always preferred Red News anyway," Heinrich muttered. It was a petty revenge, but why not. "Now they'll give decent coverage to your former markets as well. I'm sure you'll be able to watch it wherever you're dumped."

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