+++++++++++++++

Everthing swayed and juddered in the red light. A tiny bead of sweat rolled down Kamina's eyebrow, down his cheek, following the curve of his jaw before dropping off his chin to the floor. The atmosphere was like a pressure cooker. He knew he couldn't take much more.

'You are!'

'I'm not!'

'You are! You're going to die!'

Everyone flinched a little in the Chimera.

'Daddy, tell me I'm not going to die...'

My daughters' childish argument spooked hardened soldiers.

Teeth were clenched, eyes were moist in dry and dirty faces. It felt like the end of a very long road. They all turned to me, the Sergeant, the Father. I looked to my four year old daughter. What could I say? That the planet I chose to settle on was corrupted from within by the evil of it's people, that every living thing on it would cease to exist within the next hour, that all the guns, men and tanks in the universe couldn't defeat the evil in the human soul? Of all the things I had seen while fighting for her survival? That even love and hope couldn't survive cyclonic torpedoes?

A hand tapped me on the shoulder. Makker, the driver, informed me of expected resistance while breaking through the siege around the space port. His eyes told me we would never make it, but his lips told me to ready my men for heavy fighting.

I stood up, and my voice rang in in the enclosed space.

'No love, you're not going to die today.'

I slammed a fresh powerpack into my lasgun. Everyone untensed a little, as if what the Father said counted for what the Sergeant said.

There were 12 spaces. Most didn't have family, so they deferred the empty places to one of the girls. Every heartbeat drummed in Kamina's head. A scream went up from the ruined city streets, a wild keening cry that was taken up by a thousand voices, that even the throbbing engine of the Chimera struggled to block out. A few of the soldiers closed their eyes and made small muttered prayers to the Emperor. Lasguns were put to firing ports with a slow, heavy deliberation. Small arms fire from outside, well out of range, began to rattle in the slow air.

Kamina closed his eyes and took a breath.

His life focused down to the smallest pinprick of light in the blackness, a pure needle in a bleak universe. Autogun and botlerfire began pinging off all over the armour, guns chattering, light breaking from the multilaser and lasguns into the darkness, never enough, never will be enough. His children, and his wife, rest her soul. The men and women he'd lead and the ones now under command. Something heavy went off to the right, the Chimera bouncing from the blastwave. His oldest daughter cried out in the blackness. She needed him. They all needed him.

Kamina opened his eyes and exhaled.

We'd fight.

We'd make it through.

++++++END++++++