The first time she awoke, something had jolted her from slumber. All she could hear were the whipping noises of a raven in flight while feeling the heavy vibrations of turbulence. Her vision was hazy, and she had a hard time focusing, so she kept her eyes closed. The flight was bumpy, but the strong arms wrapped around her would never let her fall. She supposed it was best to feign sleep at this point. No number of "thank yous" could amount up to the appreciation she had for Delta coming to her rescue.
It was difficult to tell others to forget about you when your instincts kept screaming to be rescued. So when JILL was finally up and running, she had specifically ordered JILL to prioritize accordingly. She had to look at the bigger picture, and it was one of the scariest things she had done. The human race was more important than her own life, but that didn't keep her from wishing that someone would help her. It was natural to feel that way, but part of her felt ashamed. However, the moment before she believed the locust drone would pull the trigger, she felt proud. Facing death, looking at it in the eye gave her new perspective.
Her body was sore, but it could heal. She would likely be scarred for life, but it was a small price to pay. A fresh supply of air was hers to breathe in through the oxygen mask strapped over her mouth and nose. She felt the pressure of the bandages wrapped tightly around her waist, arms, and shoulder. Knowing exactly who held her now made her feel a bit shy. What a time to look like hell...
She felt Marcus shift slowly, brushing hair out of her face. "She's going to make it, Marcus," she heard Dom say.
"I know, I just..." Marcus trailed off.
"Say no more, man," Dom said. "All of us are glad to see her alive. Hoffman's probably going to chew your ass out though."
"Like I give a damn," Marcus scoffed. "I would have liked to have seen him stop me."
Anya felt a flutter in her heart. She did recall JILL telling her that Marcus and Colonel Hoffman had gotten into an argument. What a crazy, reckless, loyal man. She remembered months ago when she was first assigned to support Delta, her opinion of Marcus Fenix was less than favorable. She had been told that he was a rogue soldier, that he didn't care for the well being of others. The only thing that mattered to him was his own personal priorities. How wrong she was for believing all those lies.
Slowly, she began to see that all he did care about was his team. He just had a difficult time showing it. The value of human life was more precious to him than he cared to let on, the value of his team could not be priced. And because of recent events she now understood, that she was part of his team as well.
She made another attempt to open her eyes. This time she could see the lower portion of Marcus' face. He was looking straight ahead, conversing with Dom. Around his neck, she saw his COG tags. She hoped that all the data they had secured would put a stop to the war. She would never want his tags to be in her possession, ever. She wanted him to live. There was too much death already, they had to stop the war now. It had dragged on for far too long, causing an endless amount of suffering. Humans were strong, despite what the Locusts thought. If they could only get the chance, they could rebuild everything they've lost.
Marcus shifted again, and this time he looked down at her. "How you feeling?" he asked.
She gave him a weak thumbs up, hoping he could see her smile behind the oxygen mask. Slowly, she placed her hand on her heart, then raised it to gently cup his cheek. He gave her a small smile, and then she lowered her hand and closed her eyes.
3 Weeks later...
Anya nearly shot up out of her seat, but the sharp pain in her side forced her back down into the chair. "He's doing what?" she asked JILL in a mixture of shock and amazement.
The small robot hovered over her desk, buzzing and clicking. Two out of four of the metallic cranelike arms punched in numerous buttons on the side of its body. A hologram was displayed from its body, showing Marcus diving out of the way while a Berserker ran wildly passed him, knocking through a thick pillar. He kept the Hammer of Dawn firmly in his grasp, but he refrained from using it.
"Marcus, use the Hammer of Dawn," Anya pleaded, holding onto her headset firmly. 'What the hell is he thinking?'
JILL beeped, "Miss Anya, communication with Delta has been severed for the time being. We only have visual. Apparently, he is using the Berserker to collapse the entire building in on itself, hoping to destroy the Locust stronghold inside. Though from my estimation, I show that Delta squad has only one more minute before the Locusts reach them." With that said, Marcus and Dom lead the Berserker back inside the building, accumulating more damage with every turn the Berserker took.
"That's crazy," she gasped. Her eyes widened in horror as she saw Dom and Marcus firing at the Berserker, grabbing its attention. They jumped to the side, avoiding the three ton animal and neighboring walls that began to collide. Anya saw Marcus shout something, but his voice was vacant. The entire building shook, rubble started falling from the ceiling. Large chunks of solid cement were hailing down on them, but Dom continued to throw grenade after grenade at all of the structure's support units.
Anya kept her hands over her mouth, her heart racing as she watched Marcus and Dom run as fast as they could outside, narrowly missing the cave in at the entrance of the building. But that didn't stop the Berserker from crashing through the wall of fallen rock. Anya could see her screaming in rage, swinging her deadly claws around, attempting to tear Marcus and Dom apart. Now that the building was collapsing, Marcus used the Hammer of Dawn, burning straight through the tough exterior of the Berserker. Its fur caught on fire, and the right arm melted off of the body. The second shot blasted right through her chest, scorching every inch of flesh from her throat to her torso. With the third shot, the Berserker crumpled to the ground, wisps of smoke rising from pieces of her body. The ground itself turned a dark black; a small crater had been formed from the powerful imulsion weapon.
To finish off the grand spectacle, a large portion of the building imploded, crushing the Locusts inside. Any that survived the initial fall, Marcus and Dom gunned down. When they were sure the Locust stronghold was destroyed, they used the newly made rubble for cover and allowed themselves a few minutes of rest.
Anya sank back deeper into her seat, sure that she would have a heart attack at some point before the war was over. She suddenly thought that giving JACK and JILL visual links wasn't such a healthy idea. "Miss Anya," JILL told her. "Communication with Delta has been reestablished, but the signal is quite weak."
"Marcus, are you all right?" Anya asked. It was a bit foolish to ask since she could clearly see him, but it was the only thing she could think after what she had witnessed.
"Never better," came the reply. "One more stronghold to hit before we take Nexus. How's deployment on your end?"
Anya snapped back into focus, the design of their master plan to take Nexus came rushing backing into her thoughts. "All COGs will be ready for deployment to the underground city by 0400 tomorrow." She clasped her hands together and brought them to her forehead. A thin layer of sweat had formed on her brow, and she wiped it away nervously.
"You all right?" Marcus asked softly.
She looked up to see the holographic image of Marcus staring directly at her. She had almost forgotten that JACK had all the capabilities that JILL had and then some. JACK now also served as a visual link for Delta and the control tower. "I... really hope this is it," she admitted. "I really want this to be the final stand." From day one, each of them had given their all, making sacrifice after sacrifice. She was tired... there was no other way to describe it. The more she thought about it, she realized that if it hadn't been for Marcus personally saving her, she might have allowed herself to die back in the Hollow. It was very possible that she might have just given up then and there, allowing the Locusts to take her. With Marcus by her side, she now understood how foolish it was of her to be willing to throw in the towel so easily.
"Don't we all..." Marcus sighed. "Look, just keep your chin up. We need a hundred and ten percent from everyone if we want this to end."
"You got it," she said with new found determination.
"Good. Now listen to me carefully," he said in deep seriousness. "If things don't go according to plan or if you guys are unable to hold the control tower, I want you out of there. Save who you can, but, I want you evacuating if shit hits the fan."
Anya smiled, making sure that Marcus could see her expression. She closed her eyes and nodded. "I wish I could make you promise me that you won't do something crazy... but I know that's wishful thinking."
"Heh, yeah... knowing my crazy ass, I'd probably hijack a Brumack or something just for the extra manpower," he said in light humor.
God, she hoped not. Then again, she wouldn't put it past him. They shared a silent moment, and she made it a point to remember every single feature on his face from his dark messy hair and intense blue eyes to the scar on his cheek, . This could honestly be the last time she saw him. "I'll see you when this is over, soldier," she said with a promise. She wouldn't let the Locusts have Delta, like hell she would. "Control out." She saw his image wave at her before it disappeared. Clasping her hands together, she bent her head forward and did something she hadn't done since she was a child. She prayed. It wasn't only for Delta, it was for every single human being on Sera. She wished and hoped with all of her being that their planet had a future, that it would be free of the Locusts' reign within the oncoming days. She breathed out slowly, and looked at JILL. "Come on, JILL. We need to protect our boys. It's time for our A game."
"Affirmative," JILL said.
Anya rolled her chair over to the terminal she was to use while the COGs grouped together to launch the final attack. Tomorrow, Nexus would fall, she just had to make sure Delta wouldn't go down with it. That was an outcome she wouldn't accept; she planned to be with Delta to the very end. With that thought in mind, she focused all of her attention on the holographic maps in front of her. It showed her every single nook and cranny around the Locust capital, and they had to coordinate their soldiers accordingly. There was still a bit they didn't know, but this was the closest they could get to the Queen. She had already mapped out exactly when and where Delta would be located for deployment. Now, she had a new project. She began developing alternative paths and routes for them to take so they could come home.
And there's the last chapter. I think I'll try a small epilogue. But I need to rethink some of the words I want to use. Anyhoo, I hope you all enjoyed that little journey. Obviously, there isn't resolution by way of the human vs locust issue. This fic mainly focused on the rescue of Anya and Hoffman. I am not yet confident in writing a full fledge novella right now, but writing these short pieces is certainly motivational. Thanks for reading. I hope it was enjoyable and entertaining, and more importantly that it did the Gears world some justice.