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 pressure cooker intense. He knew he couldn't take much more.
'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 plea 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 be said?
A hand tapped me on the shoulder. Makker, the driver, informed me of expected resistance while breaking through the siege around the space port. We had forty minutes. 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.
Every heartbeat drummed in Kamina's head. A cultist's 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. Lasguns were put to firing ports with a slow, heavy deliberation. Small arms fire from outside, well out of range, began to singe 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 make it through.