04 Act III Scene I
The sound of the hatch being slammed shut by a man desperate to live was all but drowned out amidst the roar of the battle raging outside.
There was no light inside the maintenence tunnels. For almost ten minutes I was forced to feel my way through the passage ways routinely bashing my head against the low bulkheads. When I finally reached a ventilation hatch that led to the inner tunnels I popped my head out and abruptly ducked back in as a Devilfish troop transport raced down the wide tunnel. I waited several minutes and after working up my courage again slipped out and fell four feet onto my back. I sprang up expecting at any moment to be shot or stabbed or any other form of untimely death to strike me. As it was there was no one, at least no one alive to perform the deed. The tunnel was littered with bodies, storage containers, burnt out vehicles and other miscellaneous debris. To my eye it looked like a hasty road block had been constructed and then very swiftly destroyed by the invading Tau. With the Tau already inside Longs Reach it wouldn't be long until the whole fortress fell.
Which left me in quite a predicament. I snuck my way through the tunnels sprinting from one form of concealment to the next. It was too my everlasting luck that the Tau who were currently populating the tunnel were more interested in joining the fray on the upper levels than properly searching for hostiles. I repeated this process for almost an hour as countless Tau troops ran past completely oblivious to my presence, though there were several times I had to throw myself down and pretend I was just another corpse on the ground. I continued along until I finally found what I was looking for: a hatch that read East stairwell. I practically threw myself through the door.
Painted on the walls in large white letters was LVL04. Which meant I needed to go six floors. Just then a jarring explosion shook the whole of the mountain and I felt a large drop in pressure. For a moment I felt a pang of regret, the 74th was up there fighting to the last. Tweet and the Commissar. Yurrick. I pushed the thoughts away and made my way down the stairs.
Halfway down a series of explosion shook the mountain and again I felt the urge to go back and try and take as many of the Tau bastards as I could. That was after all what the Emperor expected of him. It was my duty. It was also suicide I told myself. I kept going. I moved unchallenged all the way down. When I reached the hatch that said Motor Pool East Entrance I hesitated for a moment and went through.
At this point you may think me a coward but you have to realize I was so close, so close. Ten years of my life honorably served in the Imperial Guard. I gave them ten years of my life. Ten years of horror and hell. How could anyone expect me to just prance up there and nobly lay down my life. I made a promise to get home, for my mother. I just wanted to live my life. How was that a crime?
Laid out before me were rows and rows of fresh vehicles never before used. Why they hadn't been used in the battle earlier mystified me but upon closer inspection I noticed that most were just transport Chimeras. Nothing that could turn the tide of the battle. Of course thats' not why I'm here I silently chastised myself. I searched the rows until I finally found something I could drive: an open topped Salamander transport. I hopped in started the engine and upon finding that I had a full tank of promethium drove off to the tunnels that would lead me out of Longs Reach.
These days I consul myself with the knowledge that had I stayed I would have died a completely meaningless death. Yes, there would have been glory, but to whom? Who would remember me? My mother? Lyra? They would but what about when they were gone. I didn't want to be a name on a wall or a piece of paper. I wanted to settle down, get married maybe. I wanted children. So far as I could see it there were two options for me. Two directions I could've taken. I could have gone back and died a glorious death. Or I could leave. Live another day. Make it home. See what fucking love is like! See my home again. Make love to a beautiful woman again. Anything. I could take another breath. I could feel the sun on my face. One more time. I could be alive again.