A Shot From The Dark

= Episode 3-4 =

The cobwebs start to leave my head as the stims-patches kick in. Despite being well below ground, I can hear the battle raging above me. A quick press of the panic button to send a help message to our medic yields no response. Either he is down and out himself or too far out of range to receive the message. "Well, guess it is time to get my sorry ass up and running again..." I mutter and head down the tunnel. The old cart tracks are murder on my feet. The tracks disappear a hundred feet down the tunnel as a yawning hole swallows them up. There is some evidence of activity here. Some tattered canvas here, an old detonator there, several pins from frag grenades. The hole was probably blown by some previous spelunker. I back up a few paces to give myself a chance at jumping the abyss.

Clearing the hole was not nearly as easy as I expected. I make a bone jarring landing that kicks the air out of my lungs. Not to mention the dagger in my chest from my busted rib. Not Fun. Note to self: Quit playing the hero and go home. I listen for a bit and hear nothing but my rasping breath. Sitting down on a broken support beam, I drag out the remainder of my lo-mein. The cardboard box is nearly flat thanks to my running-about antics. Fortunately, it is nearly edible as I shake some of the noodles into my mouth, my mess kit long since buried back in the clutter of my garage. Feeling a little better, I head around the corner cautiously. I make sure my grenade launcher is set to NORMAL as I inch forward. Rounding the last corner, it is evident that the last officer from Blue Moon did not make it home. His body lies twisted and lifeless in the wreckage. I can see from the impact patterns that he was caught in a MIRV blast. Probably his own, judging by the still sealed tunnel roof above him. I pull his ID Tags loose and pocket them. Poor Bastard. His pack has a few grenades in it but not much else. No first aid kit, no canteen. Either he wanted to travel light or he was a tenderfoot out for his first run. I choose to think he wanted to run light as a tenderfoot would not have thought to come down the tunnel entrance.

Well, nothing to do here but set my charge and pop this entrance for my teammates. A quick swig of Iced Tea and I place the charge up against the roof. 5 second delay? Who am I kidding? In my current condition, I couldn't drop to my knees in 5 seconds. 20 seems more like it. I retreat 2 turns down the tunnel and cover a pile of pipe bombs with some old wood and rocks. I figure the explosion will attract some attention and I want to be ready. The detpack chirps in its final countdown and I wonder about the poor saps that are standing right above me. The blast follows shortly after and I make another note to thank the inventor of my auto-dampening headset. I open up Gold Channel and announce that the tunnel into the Red Dawn State Pen is now open. The footsteps of the defenders are coming closer at this point. I can hear them kicking their way down the pile of rubble and into my tunnel. A grenade comes bouncing around the corner and I duck down behind a beam. The blast is much less than the detpack but I still wouldn't want to be staring slack-jawed at it when it goes off.

There is a pair of red armored guys wandering down the tunnel now. They are shoulder to shoulder as they round the corner. Unfortunately, the grenade blast cleared off the loose debris I used to cover my pipe bombs and they are scattered around the dark corner. One of the red soldiers sees the scuffed yellow bombs and lets out a squeek. He starts to backpedal and I give 3 squeezes to the detonater. This blast, much more powerful than their "little" grenade rocks the tunnel. A section of the passage gives way and showers me with dirt. I scramble to my feet and duck into a small alcove. From there I start lobbing grenades back down the passage...

To Part 3.5

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