Greetings, Guardians, here's part twenty-five of the Journey Home! Here's [url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forums/Post/227826635?showBanned=0&path=0]part twenty-four[/url] if you missed it, or, if you're looking for a different part, here's the [url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forums/Post/222615264?showBanned=0&path=0]table of contents![/url] As usual, if you like it, give it a bump, and I'll get more out soon! Stay classy, Guardians!
The villagers slowly organized themselves in the canyon. Including Yvonne and Haust, eight people were dead - Sampson, Yuan, Maxwell, Kruschev, Jochi, and Marie. All of them were people that Alesha had known her whole life. All of them had died mere miles from the City.
It was almost too much for her to bear.
In addition to the dead, several other villagers had been wounded by the gunfire, some severely. Allison had to have Trisha dig a bullet out of her shoulder, and then had to sew up Tomas’s stomach. It was a sorry condition.
As the sun began to sink below the horizon, Alesha lay down on the hard ground. It made for an unpleasant bed, but she was so tired. . . she just . . . needed. . . sleep. . .
Suddenly, she was jolted back awake by the sound of gunfire.
Alesha gasped, and sat up. The villagers looked around the canyon. Suddenly, there was some more gunfire. Alesha tried to place it, but the echoes made tracing the source of the sound impossible.
Then, it stopped. For a few moments, the whole canyon was quiet as death.
“We got one!”
Alesha looked up. Oren was leading several villagers down to the canyon floor. In front of them was a man she didn’t recognize.
When they reached the bottom of the canyon, Oren shoved the man to the ground, face-first. “We caught him and some of his slimy friends trying to sneak up behind us!” he shouted.
The man sat up on his knees. Alesha realized that he was bleeding from a bullet wound to the shoulder. He wore a woolen skullcap, and his brown hair was long and tangled. His clothes were in rough condition like they’d been poorly made and then poorly treated. His face was set in a scowl.
With a start, Alesha realized that he was only a few years older than she was.
Erling walked up to them. “He was armed with this,” Oren said. He held out a rifle of some sort.
Erling took it in his hands, and scowled. “This is from the Foundries,” he said. He turned towards the boy. “You been killing Guardians to get these?”
The boy remained mute, and stared at the dirt.
“Hey!” Sorenson walked up to him. “You like killing innocent people, boy?”
The boy remained silent.
“Hey!” Sorenson barked. “Look at me when I’m talking to you!”
The boy slowly looked up at Sorenson, his angry expression unwavering.
Sorenson looked down at him, a cold fury in his eyes. “Hey,” he said, nodding at the boy’s wounded shoulder. “That looks like it hurts. Let me help you with it.” And with that, he grabbed the shoulder, and squeezed.
The boy cried out with pain, and would’ve collapsed if Sorenson hadn’t kept squeezing down on his shoulder.
“Enough!” Erling shouted.
Sorenson let go, and the boy fell to the gravel. He pushed himself back up off the ground.
“Hey,” Erling said.
The boy didn’t move.
“Hey!” He grabbed the boy’s chin. “Look at me.”
Slowly, he did. He met Erling’s gaze, but the angry expression did not fade.
“You’re gonna go to your boss,” he said. “Tell him we need to talk. He meets me in the middle of the canyon. No weapons. No backup. Just him and me. Got it?”
The boy remained silent.
“Got it?” Erling said, raising his voice.
At last, the boy nodded.
“Good,” Erling said. He grabbed him, and dragged him to the canyon entrance. “Walk,” he growled.
The boy looked, back, and scowled. But he put his hands in the air, and, in a voice that was higher than Alesha expected, he shouted; “It’s me! Don’t shoot, I’m coming out!” And with that, he walked into the pass.
A few minutes later, two people came down, wearing the same mangy clothing that the boy had been wearing. One was a man, with long, mangy, brown hair. He smiled, revealing a mouth full of blackened teeth. The other was a woman, with similarly mangy black hair.
Both were armed.
“Alright,” the man said, “we’re here to talk!”
Erling gripped his scout rifle tight, and walked out of the canyon. The man looked at him with an almost elated look. “Glad to meet you!” he said. “Name’s Balderiech! What’s yours?”
Erling didn’t respond. He walked up to Balderiech. “I said no backup, and no weapons,” he said.
Balderiech shrugged. “Can’t be to careful,” he said. “You killed several of my men yesterday.”
“Hope they burn in Hell,” was Erling’s reply.
Balderiech frowned, and clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. “Tsk tsk. That’s no way to start a negotiation.”
Erling sighed. “Look,” he said. “We don’t have time for this. There’s a whole army of Fallen on their way! If we don’t get out of here soon, they’ll march in here, and kill us all!”
Balderiech looked at the woman, and they both burst out laughing. “Army of Fallen!” he shouted. “That’s a new one!”
Erling frowned. “What?”
Balderiech continued to laugh. “I’ve heard every damn bluff in the book,” he said. “‘Oh the FOTC is coming, oh, the Guardians will be here in a day or two, oh, there’s more of us, you should just let it go!” The laughing fit stopped abruptly, and Balderiech grinned at Erling. “But Fallen? That’s a new one!”
Alesha looked up. Sorenson had walked out of the canyon, and was pointing his gun at the two bandits. He had a deadpan expression on his face. “You killed my wife,” he said lamely.
“Sorenson?” Erling said. “Get back into the canyon.”
Balderiech snorted. “I’ve killed a lot of people’s wives,” he said. “Try not to take it too personally.”
“You killed her.” Sorenson tightened his grip on the weapon. “What’s to stop me from killing you right now.”
“Well for one thing, my boys would fill you with holes before your bullet left the chamber,” he said.
“So?” Sorenson asked.
Balderiech’s grin faltered.
“Sorenson!” Erling walked up to him. “You don’t need to do this!”
“You don’t know what I need to do!” Sorenson spat.
“What I do know,” Erling said, “Is that you have a son who is going to need his father! Or have you forgotten about him already?”
The words hit Sorenson harder than any bullet. He stiffened, and didn’t move for a solid minute. Then, he shambled back into the canyon.
Erling turned back to Balderiech, who had regained his signature smile. “I want all your weapons,” he said. “All your food, all your supplies. Then, maybe, you all get to walk out of here alive.”
Erling nodded. “What about the other groups?”
Baldereich’s grin faltered. “What?”
“You said you talked to the other groups. I’m not a betting man, but I’m certain that at least a few of them gave you what you wanted.” He walked up to Balderiech. “And yet none of them made it back to the City.”
The woman aimed her gun at Erling. “You trying to die, Guardian?”
Erling shook his head. “We’ll give you the food,” he said. “But we keep the weapons.”
Balderiech was fuming. “Back into your cave, Guardian,” he said. “We’ll resume tomorrow, when you finally come to your senses!”
“Wait!” Erling said. But the two bandits fled into the mountain pass.
Erling sighed, and walked back into the canyon. “Damnit,” he muttered.
“Well, at least they’re willing to negotiate,” Oren said.
“We have to get out of here quickly,” Erling replied.
“Why?” Oren said. “We’ve got enough food for another week at least.”
“Food’s not what worries me,” Erling said. “Hopefully, those Fallen are busy taking the long way around the mountains. But if they followed us into the pass. . . well, I’d rather not be here when they arrive.”
Baron Tyksis watched as the last of the Walkers finally squeezed through the narrow mountains. Soon, he thought, these pitiful humans shall die.
[url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Clan/Post/1371758/228036057/0/0]Part Twenty-Six: I Am That Is[/url]
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