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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

The Watchmen

“They’re coming.”
“Shit. Grab your stuff, let’s go.” The voices were low, just above a whisper, barely audible in the dark, smoky room that was now loud with the rustle of bags and weapons being hastily snatched up.
“Wait,” a third voice interjected, “who’re coming?”
“We don’t have time to explain, they’ll be here in minutes, get your bloody stuff together.” The door of the room was suddenly lit from behind. A man with a torch was evidently moving along the corridor outside. “Let’s get out of here.”

There were twenty men straining to leave the room. All were armed, most with battered and old autoguns, but with the occasional lasgun or a pistol. In the wall opposite the door was a hole, large enough for a full grown man to squeeze through. One of the armed men was doing so now, turning on the small torch attached to the barrel of his rifle as he did so. The weak light peered into the gloom to reveal another corridor. The man crept along it as a second squeezed through the hole. And so the men escaped. Or at least, most of them did.

Five men were still in the room, their gaze darting between the small light creeping through the hole, and the ever intensifying light coming from behind the door. They had to wait patiently for each man to silently slide through the cracked hole. The men outside still kept low, moving along the narrow passageway slowly. Silence and darkness ruled. Back inside the room, the sound of footsteps approaching the door echoed across the walls. Five weapons turned to aim at the doorway. The footsteps were slow, somehow confident and inexorable. Dust fell from the ceiling before the line of men. The small light from the torch at the front swept up to meet up. The tiny illuminated patch was empty. The light swung back level.

The sound of the explosion rocked the walls, shattering dust from the concrete. The men in the corridor’s heads snapped back to the hole, which was suddenly lit with a flickering red light. The sharp bark of autoguns rang out from the gap, but was suddenly replaced by a mechanical roar, and then all-too-human screams as dark flames burst through the wall into the corridor. The column of men sprinted away from the hole, down the passage as fast as they could go. The screams faded to nothing, and only the sound of hurried footsteps and shallow breath could be heard. The torch showed a small ladder. The men crowded around the bottom of it, unsure of what was above, too terrified to find out. They aimed their weapons back down the corridor.
“Up, we have to get out of here.”
“What was that?”
“Shut it and get up the ladder” The first man slung his weapon onto his back and scrambled up the rungs. One by one the men climbed. The man who seemed to be giving the orders stayed at the bottom, wanting to make sure everyone got up their safely. He called up as loudly as he dared,
“What do you see up there?”
“There’s a hatch!” came the reply, followed by the screech of old hinges. “There’s an old street outside!”
“Everyone, into the street, quick!”
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Update 1020 words:




“They’re coming.”
“Shit. Grab your stuff, let’s go.” The voices were low, just above a whisper, barely audible in the dark, smoky room that was now loud with the rustle of bags and weapons being hastily snatched up.
“Wait,” a third voice interjected, “who’re coming?”
“We don’t have time to explain, they’ll be here in minutes, get your bloody stuff together.” The door of the room was suddenly lit from behind. A man with a torch was evidently moving along the corridor outside. “Let’s get out of here.”

There were twenty men straining to leave the room. All were armed, most with battered and old autoguns, but with the occasional lasgun or a pistol. In the wall opposite the door was a hole, large enough for a full grown man to squeeze through. One of the armed men was doing so now, turning on the small torch attached to the barrel of his rifle as he did so. The weak light peered into the gloom to reveal another corridor. The man crept along it as a second squeezed through the hole. And so the men escaped. Or at least, most of them did.

Five men were still in the room, their gaze darting between the small light creeping through the hole, and the ever intensifying light coming from behind the door. They had to wait patiently for each man to silently slide through the cracked hole. The men outside still kept low, moving along the narrow passageway slowly. Silence and darkness ruled. Back inside the room, the sound of footsteps approaching the door echoed across the walls. Five weapons turned to aim at the doorway. The footsteps were slow, somehow confident and inexorable. Dust fell from the ceiling before the line of men. The small light from the torch at the front swept up to meet it. The tiny illuminated patch was empty. The light swung back level.

The sound of the explosion rocked the walls, shattering dust from the concrete. The men in the corridor’s heads snapped back to the hole, which was suddenly lit with a dark red light. The sharp bark of autoguns rang out from the gap, but was suddenly replaced by a mechanical roar, and then all-too-human screams as bright flames burst through the wall into the corridor. The column of men sprinted away from the hole, down the passage as fast as they could go. The screams faded to nothing, and only the sound of hurried footsteps and shallow breath could be heard. The torch showed a small ladder. The men crowded around the bottom of it, unsure of what was above, too terrified to find out. They aimed their weapons back down the corridor.
“Up, we have to get out of here.”
“What was that?”
“Shut it and get up the ladder” The first man slung his weapon onto his back and scrambled up the rungs. One by one the men climbed. The man who seemed to be giving the orders stayed at the bottom, wanting to make sure everyone got up there safely. He called up as loudly as he dared,
“What do you see up there?”
“There’s a hatch!” came the reply, followed by the screech of old hinges. “There’s an old street outside!”
“Everyone, into the street, quick!”

One by one they emerged into the flickering light of the lane above. As the tenth man clambered his way through the tight gap, a gunshot sounded from the other end of the road. A rifle clattered on the ground as one of the gunmen fell, his hands clasped to his neck. Two autoguns were aimed in the direction of the shot. The echoes of their reports rattled down the ladder into the dark corridor as the gunflashes lit the street for split seconds. Another man went down to the unseen sniper, and the survivors crazily looked around for cover, diving behind anything they could find. Two men were seemingly lucky, and hid behind a burnt out transporter unit. The strip lighting above flashed on and off rapidly, so that the men were alternately plunged into pitch darkness or blinding light every half second. The sniper fired again. One of the men behind the transport clutched his stomach as he was thrown back. The other, catching sight of the once hidden sniper turned to aim his rifle, shouting to the others. Before he could give the frantically reloading man away a rocket screamed from the opposite end of the street, flicking over the ladder, to blow him and the transporter to pieces.

Down below, the leader of the men swore. His gangsters were being butchered in the most co-ordinated ambush he had ever seen. The Watchmen had guessed where the gang would flee too, and had spent a long time setting up the perfect attack. He had four others still in the tunnel. The men above him were still fighting, but the leader was inclined to believe that they were already dead. It was regrettable, but a man in the underworld of Tirus Hive learnt to take death at a pinch quickly. One of the men with him was an old ganger, a scar down his face, one eye, and an autogun in his hands, with a laspistol holstered on his thigh. The other three were mere juves, all armed with autoguns, all pale with fear.
“Right, you two”, he pointed at two juves, “aim that way.” He pointed again down the corridor, back towards the gap. “You”, the remaining juve, “cover the ladder. Pete? Follow me.” The gang leader tapped on the wall, grunted satisfaction to himself, and pulled out a pistol from a holster at his thigh. It hummed with energy, the sound quickly rising as he aimed the weapon at the wall and pulled the trigger. A burst of blue light lit the five men as a hole appeared in the wall. The leader replaced the pistol in its holster, and rammed the butt of his autogun into the hole again and again, each smashing hit widening it ever so slightly as the sounds of battle raged over head.
 

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The setting is a bit confusing to me. Are they escaping a prison, fleeing a command center as it's overrun or aborting a commando-style assault? And what is their objective? So far, it's just anonymous men dying.

You could build some good tension if the men have a brief argument over who forms the rear guard...maybe fretting over who might be coming, too?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
1994 Words:


Zone 342

“They’re coming.”
“Shit. Grab your stuff, let’s go.” The voices were low, just above a whisper, barely audible in the dark, smoky room that was now loud with the rustle of bags and weapons being hastily snatched up.
“Wait,” a third voice interjected, “who’re coming?”
“We don’t have time to explain, they’ll be here in minutes, get your bloody stuff together.” The door of the room was suddenly lit from behind. A man with a torch was evidently moving along the corridor outside. “Let’s get out of here.”

There were twenty men straining to leave the room. All were armed, most with battered and old autoguns, but with the occasional lasgun or a pistol. In the wall opposite the door was a hole, large enough for a full grown man to squeeze through. One of the armed men was doing so now, turning on the small torch attached to the barrel of his rifle as he did so. The weak light peered into the gloom to reveal another corridor. The man crept along it as a second squeezed through the hole. And so the men escaped. Or at least, most of them did.

Five men were still in the room, their gaze darting between the small light creeping through the hole, and the ever intensifying light coming from behind the door. They had to wait patiently for each man to silently slide through the cracked hole. The men outside still kept low, moving along the narrow passageway slowly. Silence and darkness ruled. Back inside the room, the sound of footsteps approaching the door echoed across the walls. Five weapons turned to aim at the doorway. The footsteps were slow, somehow confident and inexorable. Dust fell from the ceiling before the line of men. The small light from the torch at the front swept up to meet it. The tiny illuminated patch was empty. The light swung back level.

The sound of the explosion rocked the walls, shattering dust from the concrete. The men in the corridor’s heads snapped back to the hole, which was suddenly lit with a dark red light. The sharp bark of autoguns rang out from the gap, but was suddenly replaced by a mechanical roar, and then all-too-human screams as bright flames burst through the wall into the corridor. The column of men sprinted away from the hole, down the passage as fast as they could go. The screams faded to nothing, and only the sound of hurried footsteps and shallow breath could be heard. The torch showed a small ladder. The men crowded around the bottom of it, unsure of what was above, too terrified to find out. They aimed their weapons back down the corridor.
“Up, we have to get out of here.”
“What was that?”
“Shut it and get up the ladder” The first man slung his weapon onto his back and scrambled up the rungs. One by one the men climbed. The man who seemed to be giving the orders stayed at the bottom, wanting to make sure everyone got up there safely. He called up as loudly as he dared,
“What do you see up there?”
“There’s a hatch!” came the reply, followed by the screech of old hinges. “There’s an old street outside!”
“Everyone, into the street, quick!”

One by one they emerged into the flickering light of the lane above. As the tenth man clambered his way through the tight gap, a gunshot sounded from the other end of the road. A rifle clattered on the ground as one of the gunmen fell, his hands clasped to his neck. Two autoguns were aimed in the direction of the shot. The echoes of their reports rattled down the ladder into the dark corridor as the gunflashes lit the street for split seconds. Another man went down to the unseen sniper, and the survivors crazily looked around for cover, diving behind anything they could find. Two men were seemingly lucky, and hid behind a burnt out transporter unit. The strip lighting above flashed on and off rapidly, so that the men were alternately plunged into pitch darkness or blinding light every half second. The sniper fired again. One of the men behind the transport clutched his stomach as he was thrown back. The other, catching sight of the once hidden sniper turned to aim his rifle, shouting to the others. Before he could give the frantically reloading man away a rocket screamed from the opposite end of the street, flicking over the ladder, to blow him and the transporter to pieces.

Down below, the leader of the men swore. His gangsters were being butchered in the most co-ordinated ambush he had ever seen. The Watchmen had guessed where the gang would flee too, and had spent a long time setting up the perfect attack. He had four others still in the tunnel. The men above him were still fighting, but the leader was inclined to believe that they were already dead. It was regrettable, but a man in the underworld of Tirus Hive learnt to take death at a pinch quickly. One of the men with him was an old ganger, a scar down his face, one eye, and an autogun in his hands, with a laspistol holstered on his thigh. The other three were mere juves, all armed with autoguns, all pale with fear.
“Right, you two”, he pointed at two juves, “aim that way.” He pointed again down the corridor, back towards the gap. “You”, the remaining juve, “cover the ladder. Pete? Follow me.” The young men, reassured that someone was taking charge of the situation, obeyed. The gang leader tapped on the wall, grunted satisfaction to himself, and pulled out a pistol from a holster at his thigh. It hummed with energy, the sound quickly rising as he aimed the weapon at the wall and pulled the trigger. A burst of blue light lit the five men as a hole appeared in the wall. The leader replaced the pistol in its holster, and rammed the butt of his autogun into the hole again and again, each smashing hit widening it ever so slightly as the sounds of battle raged over head.

The sole surviving gangster in the street had managed to scramble into a hab-bloc. He burst through a door before swivelling to aim his rifle towards the opening, ready to blast anything that came through. His heart slowed as nothing entered the room, then froze with terror as a low chuckle drifted from the darkness behind him.

A final scream sounded from the street, then the men below were left in silence. One of the juves saw something moving by the gap in the wall that was still flickering with flames. He unleashed a burst from his autogun. The movement stopped. The gang leader called Pete to take over smashing the wall and went back to the two juves aiming down the corridor.
“What is it?”
“Something came through the hole.”
“Is it dead?”
“Yes.”
“Are you sure?”

As if an answer a gunshot hammered from the dark shape lying by the hole, the bullet ricocheting off the ladder. The two juves pumped lead into the figure. It went still again. They fired the rest of their magazines into it just to be sure, then quickly reloaded. The gang leader, however, was still wary. Using the light that flicked on and off from the street above he counted his own ammunition. He sighed. The expedition into Zone 342 hadn’t been as successful as his previous one. It was during his time here before he had heard, from fellow gangsters, of the Watchmen.

No one quite knew who or what they are, as they barely ever left survivors to tell the tale, and those that do survive are half maddened by the experience. They say that no one survives seeing a Watchman up close. They seemed to guard the deserted Zone, almost ghost like, which was legendary for the treasures hidden deep within it, back when this part of Tirus Hive was in the spire. It was these treasures that had sent many young gangsters into the deadly area. Only a handful ever came back, almost every time empty handed.

Back in the dark, dusty corridor the hatch at the ladder slammed shut. The young gangster below it fired up towards the street, his bullet bouncing off the metal rungs.

Loud thundering footsteps caused the ground to shake. The leader of the gang grabbed the juve that had fired at the manhole and pushed him between the two others covering the corridor.
“Whatever comes through that hole, kill it.” He made his voice sound harsh. It was a choice between that and abject terror. He virtually knew he wasn’t going to get out of there alive, but he couldn’t admit that, even to himself. “Just hold them until we get through this wall.”

The footsteps came faster and faster, causing the floor to vibrate beneath the gangster’s booted feet. Suddenly a vast, powerful shape crashed through the wall by the hole, spilling flaming light into the pipe-lined corridor. The juves opened fire once more, their tracers zipping through the gloom to bounce off of the shape. It turned, a massive humanoid that hefted an equally massive gun. The retort from the thing’s weapon was so loud in the tight chamber that all of the gangsters clapped a hand to their ear – except for one juve who exploded in a gory mess of blood and bone. The boy standing next to him, pale with shock, stared at the mess on the wall. Pete and the gang leader dropped to the ground, the latter fumbling in a pouch. Another of the young gangsters still standing was snatched away by an explosion, before Pete grabbed the last and pulled him bodily to the ground. Another explosion tore three rungs from the ladder.

The gang leader finally found what he was looking for, and hurled it down the corridor. The huge explosion seemed to have no effect on whatever it was that was attacking them, but this didn’t matter as a section of the roof, weakened by the fighting above and below, came crashing down to block the corridor and plunge the gangsters into darkness.

The hatch far above was flung open. Two shots crashed downwards along with the flickering light. The juve screamed as a bullet smashed his spine. Pete turned onto his back, drew his laspistol and let a burst fly back towards the street. The hatch snapped shut.
“Pete let’s get out of here. I’ll cover the ladder.” The leader stood to aim at the hatch as Pete once again began to gouge his way through the concrete wall. Whatever it was on the other side of the collapsed corridor was trying to dig its way through.

The hatch opened again.

The leader fired, then saw the glittering object bounce off of the ladder.
“Pete! Down!” He barked as he threw himself behind the corpse of the juve, raising it up slightly to cover himself better, but it was too late for Pete. The explosion from the frag grenade tore the veteran in two.
The hatch clanged closed.

“Shit.”

The leader flicked a torch on to check out how far Pete had got with the hole. It was about large enough for him to squeeze through. With a grin, knowing he would survive this day, he slid through.

On the other side and still grinning, he stood straight.

All he could see was the smooth breast plate of the thing’s armour. He looked up. Two glowing red eyes embedded in a silver helmet stared down at him. The grin disappeared.

The treasure hunters would keep coming, just as the Watchmen would keep killing them to protect the thing most precious that lay deep within Zone 342 of Tirus Hive. They had been sent to keep the relic safe, and it would remain so.
 
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