AN: I've been meaning to get this typed up for a while, and I finally found the motivation to get it done. This was quite a challenging piece to write for a few reasons, but I have to say I'm quite proud of it. I've got a few more pieces like this planned so hopefully I'll get those typed and up soon as well :D

Takes place during Gears of War 2, during the act 'Free Baird'

Gears of War and it's Characters belong to Epic Games, and Epic Games Studios

The Grind lift rattled and shook violently as it made its progression through Sera's crust, the blades at its base churning and ripping through the rock, a job made simpler by the action of an Imulsion powered laser which blasted through the stone without mercy. Baird grimaced heavily as the wind was knocked out of him, his jump mate looking as sickly as he felt from the rough treatment they were getting from the grind lifts journeying. Tanner, Baird noted, really didn't look all that good and he was starting to wonder if he'd actually gotten a better deal having not gone with Cole and his sensitive stomach, Baird was pretty sure that Tanner wasn't far off from bringing up his stomach contents.

Quietly regretting not having pulled his Goggles over his eyes before getting into the Grind lift, Baird distantly wondered how Delta was getting on, he didn't think about them because he cared it was just healthy curiosity, it wasn't like he had much else to think about apart from the fact that if Tanner threw up it would without a doubt be aimed in his direction. With a heavy jolt the Grind Lift finally stopped, both himself and Tanner waited a few moments just to be sure that they had in fact finished moving, a notion which was quickly confirmed by the Grind lift itself as it automatically released them from the heavy safety bar which had been pressed down against their chests. Taking a quick glance at Tanner, the Corporal grabbed the release bar and gave a hard yank, pulling the heavy thick doors of the Grind lift open and providing their first sights into the Hollow.

"Just what I thought..." Baird started with a smirk as he climbed out of the lift "...a shit hole"

Tanner just looked at the blonde man, expression impossible to decipher through his helmet "I don't know Baird...it looks...kinda pretty"

Baird raised his eyebrows before narrowing his eyes "Pretty?" He questioned with a hint of sarcasm "Yeah...why not, I'm sure even hell looks pretty if it's full of nice glowing plants, huh?"

Tanner didn't say another word on the subject, instead chose to check his Lancer and test the motor for the chainsaw attachment.

Baird just smirked before he squatted down in front of one of glowing mushroom, plant things he'd been referring to, jabbing at it with the tip of his Lancer he grumbled to himself before getting up.

"Who knew...?" Baird said aloud to his companion

"Knew what?" Tanner asked with interest as he returned beside the Corporal, hopefully they'd get moving soon

Baird gave another smirk as he made to press his tac com, finishing what he was about to say before he activated it "...That the grubs get a kick out of Gardening"

Tanner shook his head as the Blonde man finally spoke into his radio

"Cole? Cole you there? This is Baird"

There was no reply except for fizzing static, until a broken reply came through

"The Train reads you Baby! Where are you?"

Baird's frown eased slightly from the small relief he gained knowing that Cole was still in one piece

"Yeah, Yeah, whatever Cole...and COG knows where we are, it seems the Grind lift went off course, there's no other Gears here"

"So it's just you and Tanner?"

"That's what I just said isn't it?"

"Alright Damon baby...no need to get snippy...but you two better make your way down here and regroup, don't want to be running into any grubs"

"No shit, Cole...Baird out"

Removing his finger from his ear Baird started walking towards where his wrist attachment indicated the nearest armour readings were, it didn't matter what Gears the armour belonged to, they needed to group up as soon as possible, they were in grub territory now and two Gears just wasn't going to be enough. As he walked gripping his Lancer tightly in his hands and trying to push back the knot of fear he could feel in his chest, he noticed Tanner hadn't moved yet. Turning around while continuing to walk backwards, Baird yelled out to his Grind Lift Partner

"What? You want to stay and check the scenery? Move your ass!"

Tanner seemed to snap out of his reverie and jogged to catch up with the Corporal, his armour rustling and clinking in his wake.

"Where're we headed?" Tanner asked

Baird rolled his eyes, more concerned with other things than Tanner's apparent lack of common sense "Towards the closest set of armour and the Gears it's encasing" Baird let out a tch sound when he finished as if he was stating the obvious and Tanner was foolish for not realising it immediately.

Strolling down a slope Baird wondered how long the Locust had been down here, the cave formations just didn't seem natural to him, well it did in some places, but in others it seemed like the rock and stone had been cut into with a specific design in mind. He could tell by how smooth some of the surfaces were compared to others, that and the lovely artistic symbols he could see carved into the walls every now and then. Stopping abruptly and letting out a sigh of frustration as Tanner walked into him, Baird took a closer look at one of the symbols, it was triangular in shape with some lines extending out of the main structure, removing a used and re-used note pad from one of his pouches, Baird quickly jotted down the symbol. Once satisfied he stowed the book away, he'd try and decipher it later when he didn't have to worry about grubs sneaking up on them.

Checking his wrist indicator again to make sure they were heading in the right direction, he peered around as he heard something, he hadn't noticed how suddenly claustrophobic the hollow had become around them, they seemed to have walked into a narrowing of the structure, best described like an alleyway or corridor to his mind. Baird glanced at Tanner before they both started walking again but a little slower, they were coming up to a corner when Baird heard some voices, they belonged to humans of that he had no doubt, trouble was they weren't talking...they were screaming. Tanner froze beside him as he peeked around the corner, the humans were the Gears they had been walking towards in the hopes of re-grouping, but Baird knew that was out of the question now. The Gears themselves were standing in a region of the cave that levelled off after a slight hill, so they were slightly elevated compared to Baird and Tanner's current location. On the shelf where the Gears were there were also large cylindrical metal containers, and as far as Baird could tell the screaming Soldiers were being forced into them, any that fought a little too much being battered before slung in with the metal door being slammed shut.

"Shit..." Baird mumbled, he was scared but he wasn't going to say as much

Tanner was trembling beside him "W-What...what are they doing?"

"I don't know..." Baird answered more serious than normal "Looks like the locust are taking prisoners...odd...we've not heard of them doing that before"

"What are we going to do?" Tanner breathed heavily through his helmet like he was struggling for air

Baird kept his eyes on the locust a head of them "Don't have much choice, but to keep behind them, maybe they'll walk a little further up and we'll be able to get round them"

Suddenly without any warning whatsoever Tanner practically screamed in Baird's ear

"TANNER! What the F***?" Baird snapped as he spun around but any further remarks were silenced when he laid his eyes upon the scene that had unfolded before him

Tanner was currently being restrained by two Locust drones, both of them holding roughly onto the panicking Gear's arms, it suddenly hit Baird that these monsters must have snuck up on them while they had been watching the other locust and their prisoners. Baird raised his Lancer despite the fact that he couldn't shoot the grubs without shooting Tanner, but it was a reflex action drummed in from years on the frontline.

"Let him go, ugly" Baird spat at the two drones, the larger one in particular

However neither of them paid any notice to the blonde man, small to either of them in comparison, while Baird's mind raced to figure out what to do his arms were grabbed and yanked behind him, forcing him to drop his Lancer.

"Hey!" He yelled indignant as his scaly captors laughed at his pointless wriggling

Another drone picked up the two now abandoned Lancers and showed them triumphantly to its companions before walking with them up the slope towards the cylindrical cells, despite their recent captive's futile attempts to escape their clutches.

Baird wriggled and cursed as he was dragged unceremoniously up the slope towards the cells, there was no way in hell he wanted to go inside any of those, he didn't even know if they were lined with spikes or something. Reaching where the hill levelled off, Baird was shoved forward by his captors falling face first on the hard cold floor of the Hollow, Tanner landing beside him not two seconds after. Glancing at Tanner, Baird could see how terrified he was helmet on or not, fear was unmistakable, unlike any other emotion humans experienced...you could smell fear. The smallest of the squad of grubs walked apparently casually and almost with a degree of contained excitement over to one of the metal containers, up close Baird realised with discomfort how much they reminded him of coffins. The locust drone heaved the door open and gestured to its comrades who proceeded to drag an inconsolable Tanner from the floor and attempting to force him over to the miniature prison.

The drones struggled to get Tanner to remain on his feet, the young Gear petrified beyond all reasoning and attempting to fight off his captives with every ounce of strength he had, when the drones grew frustrated at how difficult their apparently simple task had become, the largest of them pounded one huge clenched fist into the side of Tanner's helmet.

"Hey!" Baird yelled rising to his feet and attempting to get over to Tanner

His efforts were meaningless as one of the other drones grabbed him and forced him to his knees, pulling his arms uncomfortably behind him, so much so Baird thought his shoulder joints would pop out at the force.

Tanner's struggling was only halted for a matter of moments before his terror induced adrenaline restarted his efforts of escape. Struggling harder and screaming undecipherable words, no doubt abuses and curses aimed at the locust, Tanner was forced to the floor, the thick set drone blocking Baird's view, but Baird still knew what was happening.

"Come on! Leave him alone ass hole!" Baird said almost pleading

Tanner was hit hard in the face again as well as other places, but Baird had to hand it to him, he never stopped fighting, he kept struggling and battling until he was silenced by a final strike to his head, a strike so hard it split his helmet in half and fractured the skull that it had so valiantly tried to protect.

"Shit..." Baird mumbled as he was forced to his feet, the silence so loud that he found it almost unbearable

Catching sight of Tanner before he was forced to turn around, Baird grimaced, the drone had accomplished far more damage than Baird thought possible, all that with just its bare hands, hands that were now smeared with the blood of a Gear, it made him sick to his stomach.

It seemed that the drones had decided not to put Baird in any of the cells here, instead they left Tanner's unmoving body and lead the way up yet another slope crowned like the last one had been, with metal prison cylinders. Baird attempted to fight off his drones but realised quickly that it would be a mistake to try and escape like Tanner had, there were five drones, there was just him with no Lancer to speak of, he'd just have to get on with it and hope that someone friendly would find him.

Resisting but abiding Baird stepped into the cylinder, thankful to unknown forces that it wasn't lined with spikes or something worse, as he stepped completely onto the circular floor of the 'coffin' one of the drones gave him a hard shove making him smack his head against the opposite wall.

"Piss off, Ass hole!" Baird snapped as the door slammed shut in his face, leaving him nothing but a small rectangular opening to see out of

The drone merely laughed at him, if you could call it that, it was more like metal being scrapped over rocks...then it spoke to him, and Baird didn't like the sound of the Tyran he managed to understand through its growling.

"You...Process!" It rumbled pointing at him before repeating itself

"Process?" Baird asked incredulous "What the hell does that mean?" but the drone ignored him

For a while the drones remained there snarling and growling in whatever foul language they conversed in, Baird bashed his fist against the door a few times and offered them some choice insults, however they simply ignored him, growing tired of his abuses the scaly captors merely sneered at him and walked away.

"Hey! Hey...Where're you going?" Baird bellowed, his voice bouncing off the metal walls

He didn't relish in having them for company, but he didn't want to be left up here on his own at least Gears would be drawn to and hopefully attack these drones, finding him in the process. Besides Baird considered that he could get a little more amusement out of cursing them if nothing else.

Now alone Baird scowled out of his small peep hole, looking around to the best of his capability he noticed that off to the left of him was Imulsion and a lot of it, up towards the right, again there was more Imulsion but there was also something mimicking a pier, while he watched there were patrols of locust wandering up and down the odd obese boomer waddling behind them.

He rubbed his eyes aggressively, frustrated at his current predicament he tried in vain to use his tac com, but typically he couldn't get a signal. The image of Tanner kept popping up in his mind, but he ignored it, Tanner wasn't his concern anymore, he hadn't really been his concern from the start but Baird was still angry at what the locust had done to him.

While he tried to think of a way of escape, he tested the strength of his cell in various places as he searched for a weak spot, he was determined that there had to be one somewhere, when he found it, he'd just need to find a way to exploit it. Banging and kicking at various places he suddenly stopped as there was an ear piercing scream, it was coming from the docks he'd spotted earlier. Looking out of the slot Baird caught sight of the small pier again that sat down at the right, and then he saw a massive locust created vehicle, obviously organic in some form with legs that clung to the ceiling, Baird could only describe it as some kind of barge...a beast barge.

The screaming continued and Baird couldn't take his eyes off the Beast barge as he saw a ramp lowered onto the pier, and he watched as some prisoners were removed from the cells down at that level and dragged onto the barge. Little shreds of decipherable words were now audible, the screaming having changed from something close to agony, to something of pleading.

"Please...No...No, not anymore...please!"

It hit him then...they were torturing people, and breaking them from the sounds of it.

"Shit, shit, shit" Baird blurted "I've got to get the hell out of here!"

He continued with his work on finding a weak spot in the cell, his movements becoming faster and clumsier as the screaming started to reach its crescendo. It became louder and louder, agony was an understatement, until finally, the screaming stopped and there was silence, Baird realised that, was twice as worse as the screaming.

Loud rumbling ensued as the Barge started moving again, the prisoners they wanted having been transported into its cargo, the legs of the creature diving into the rock above before tearing out again and piercing the ceiling somewhere else further forward until it was finally gone.

Everything was quiet again as Baird finally came to the conclusion that the cell didn't have weak spots after all, he'd just have to hope that someone found him some time soon, and very soon at that.

A while later Baird heard something, footsteps...he even thought he heard someone, human thank god, and sounding much like Cole. Eager to get out and still slightly fearful for his safety, Baird called out unable to conceal the urgency in his voice.

"Hey, is that Cole? Cole! Get me outta here, man! Can you hear me?"

To Baird's absolute relief Cole and Dom came into view of his little slot

"I hear ya Baird!"Cole said mocking slightly

"Then get me the hell outta here!"

Cole and Dom proceeded to join forces and heave the door open between them, the same door that one drone had managed to open earlier. Coughing from the displaced dust around him as the door opened, Baird stumbled out haphazardly, he'd been standing up in one place unable to move, for he didn't know how long.

Frustrated Baird snapped at the familiar Gears around him "Bout time...What the hell took you guys so long?"

Marcus Fenix, the gruff uncommunicative Sergeant stood before him and chucked a Lancer into his hands, a welcome weight.

"You're Welcome...What the hell are the locust doing taking Prisoners?" The Sergeant asked, clearly as bothered as Baird was with the locust's sudden change of tact.

"They're locking people up in these things, taking 'em deeper into the hollow. They were gonna process me man, whatever that means"

Cole was obviously disturbed by these new revelations "Shit, I'll show these Bitches some process!"

Marcus took point "Come on, we need to check this out"

Well I hoped you liked it, I was a little concerned writing Baird, I find him quite difficult to write so if he seems a little out of character then please feel free to let me know, same goes for any mistakes I might have made or any suggestions you might have. All is appreciated :)