By: Yasmany Gomez
As Dury and I finished off the last of the Grubs I couldn’t get past the fact of how proud my brother would be to see me “Gear Efficient” with the Mark 2 Lancer. If I could only have passed the medical exam I would have surely reached Lt By now. Too late to think about that now as we try to make it to the lair below Azura to review the process of the anti-lambent countermeasure. At times I still get upset with Adam about not further warning us about this; surely we could have had a defense system in place for such an event.
“Clear,” Dury said. “That’s all of them for now and if we don’t double time we will be overran and cornered.” Only four clicks of stairs to reach the bottom.” I was thrilled and nervous at the same time knowing that any moment I could be killed, yet I had the confidence that wouldn’t be the case. I was a Gear, this was something I dreamt of mesmerized about. An opportunity to serve the COG on the frontline, only now this frontline was the survival for mankind as the COG was only a thing of the past.
Two clicks before reaching the bottom of Azura
As we hit the halfway mark I could feel my asthma kicking in, but somehow the adrenaline in my body had me in another mode of mindset. I was ready for anything or so I thought I was. As we continued down a flight of stairs, a portion of the stairs was blown out, maybe a tactic by the Grubs to prevent any type of easy evacuation. We would have to detour to the east wing stair case. That would approximately add 1.5 clicks on our route. “Hold.” Dury said. A veteran Gear, understanding combat warfare and its tricks and navigation, hands down I learned from the best. “Contact up ahead, seven Grubs: three Drones and four Theron. They’re tough so we have to spread out to flank and ambush. Slow and quite, watch for me, here.” He handed me a frag. “Pull and throw, not hard.” My days of thrash ball in the park with my brother would have to come in handy if I’m going to be successful. Can’t be that hard right?
Dury gave me the signal of direction and I began to slowly make way around. One of the Drones went to check the exit we just came in from. Talk about timing. I figured these things lived underground so there sense of smell should be very strong, I hoped I was wrong. But boy was I right, the drone signaled there were humans in the room or so I thought. I looked to find Dury on other side of the room, nowhere to be seen. It was somewhat dark in the room and only by the light of the Grubs armor and shallow light from the Reaver damage, we could see their movement. To my luck four of the seven Drones gathered together in portion of the room. I didn’t wait for Dury I figured this was the only chance. I went to pull the pin of the grenade when suddenly a hand grabbed me. It was Dury; he placed his index finger over his lips and then directed it toward the direction of the door. Boomer and Grinder.
For moment I thought about what death felt like, combat morale, I knew nothing of it and it wasn’t naturally kicking in. I looked to Dury for direction and he looked dumbfounded but yet determined. Like he was using a mind power spell he learned. Then his face lit up and leaned over to me and whispered, “Now, throw the grenade, there closely gathered. Ill flank and you engage.” We both tossed the grenades perfectly into the middle of the Grubs as it exploded; it took out the boomer, grinder, a drone, and a theron. Dury opened fire flanking taking out three more.
As I rose to direct engage I felt a force of a brick hit me in the face. Lucky for me the adrenaline in my body kept me from falling out. A grub, face to face, my biggest nightmare comes to past, but I was ready, trained by the best, and didn’t care if I died. I revved up my Mark 2 chainsaw. The Grub charged me and as I thought I had the timing of his acceleration I missed him by a centimeter nipping his shoulder as he tackled me down to the ground. I wanted to yell, but Dury was taking direct fire now because of my failure to engage. He had his own problems and I had mine. Another blow to my face, now my vision was slightly blurred, the jerk broke my glasses. I went into a panic, upset that I never learned combat fighting, but I took a month of COG Jitsu and only learned one lock, “COG Bar.” I broke free of his mount and managed to grab his wrist. Grub was scaly and strong built like a tank. I managed to push of his hip and slide to my side managing to free both legs as I put the cog bar in place and pulled with all my strength. Gripping my teeth so hard I felt blood coming from my mouth. SNAP.
It took my whole body weight and strength to break the grubs arm. I rose to pick up the Mark 2 and revved it up. “For my brother.” I ran the lancer down his shoulder through his torso blood spitting and spilling everywhere; I wanted to let off a battle cry as I was baptized into a true Grub killer. But Dury was still under fire. I went to engage and help Dury finish off the last of the Grubs. “Clear.” Dury, said.
As Dury walked up with his beat red face and sweating, he dawned a smirk on his face, “Hand to Hand kill Nevil! You keep this up and you’ll be RTI 26 worthy. We have to get moving reinforcements are coming.” We checked ammo and reloaded as we continued on. We made it down to the bottom eventually without engaging other Grubs. “Not much further now, I remember this location.” It was the Azura secret lab. The Allfathers Research Emergency Lab.
I went to type in the override codes to gain access when Dury tapped my arm and whispered, “Grubs.” Confused I asked myself, “How did they manage to find the emergency lab?” I almost wanted to slap myself because they managed to find Azura, It would only be a matter of time before they found the lab. “Quickly,” I said. “I have 5 override codes I have to try. Cover me.” My biggest fear I saw coming not just seven Grubs but more than a dozen were coming in our direction. Dury took cover and I knelt down. “Ammo Check,” Dury said. “I have 3 clips Mark 2 and 5 clips Snub,” I responded. Dury bit his lip as if he was a hand away from losing a poker game. With the amount of Grubs heading our way we didn’t have enough ammo. He asked again, “Grenades?” I responded, “Only the one you gave me.”
His head dropped back and rested on the bags. Under battle stress, low on ammo, and more than a dozen of Grubs heading our way. It looked like the end. Then when I thought all was lost Dury came up with a thought. “This is the end of the line Nevil, but what matters most it the research. We need to save mankind. Give me your snub ammo. You put those codes in and Ill cover you, when the door opens, go in and put it in emergency lockdown.” I gave him my snub ammo and he stuck his hand out to shake my hand. “You’re a fine Gear Nevil; it was pleasure fighting alongside with you.” He paused and began to space out as he was having flashbacks reliving his glory days of fighting as a Gear and then promoted to the Onyx Guard then to personally protecting the Chairman. What a career I must say, he was indeed a great Gear, training me, a scientist, to become Gear Efficient. He re gathered himself and reloaded his lancer, and reached for a grenade. The Grubs were half a thrash ball field away. Death Waits. Dury looked at me and said, “Try those codes now!” As he went to throw the grenade, I attempted two codes which none of them worked. Bullets riddled and whimed past my head, I ducked next to Dury to blind fire back at them. I could hear the Grubs screaming so I was sure I dropped a few. They were closing in and I had two more codes to try. When I went to try the next code I felt a hot melting sting hit my shoulder, “AHHHHHH!!!!” I was shot in the in the shoulder, is this what being shot feels like? Dury stopped for a split second to see if I was fine, “Get up and get that code in, I’m doing my part, do yours!!!” I knelt to put in the code, realizing my adrenaline wasn’t necessarily bullet proof. The code worked. “Dury let’s go!” Dury didn’t stop firing, “What did I say Nevil, they won’t kill you just like they won’t kill Fenix, that’s an order now GO!”
I hesitated for a moment then ran in. The Grubs were in close distance thirty feet now, seven I counted with more than two dozen closing in. I went to put the lab in emergency shutdown. Dury pulled out another grenade killing three. He dropped the other two with lancer fire and took fire in the exchange. He was a different monster now, completely submerged in the mindset of “Grub Killer.” Focused, refusing to give up. He ducked back down behind cover blind firing into the Grubs, too dangerous for him to lift his head out to take a peak. A Grub closed in and jump kicked him out of cover, Dury revved up his Mark 2 taking out the Grub, it got stuck. Two more approached him, he kicked one in the chest and shot the other with his snub pistol. He then finished off the other with his snub. More Grubs came three this time. I felt completely useless, he needed my help. Dury managed to kill one of them but was tackled down. As the other went in for the kill, Dury maneuvered out of the way causing the Grub to kill his own comrade. Dury stabbed the Grub in the torso and ran the knife up to his chest. He then managed to use the Grub as a meat shield. Taking out four more approaching grubs, then I heard, “BOOM.” Dury looked at me with a blank gaze for a second which seemed like an eternity, as the grenade round from the Boomer killed him. I ran to a back room with sudden shock and panic and ducked behind a table. “DURY? DURY? HOW!!?” It took a Grub army to take him out. He fought to the very end and if the Boomer didn’t come, he could of survived and we could of still been a team. Now I was alone.
3 Hours Later
Sitting there behind a turned over table in a back room, hearing the Grubs trying to break in was like waiting on death. I just wanted to go and open the door and let them finish me off. There was no way I could work on this research now that they knew where I was. I sat there with my Mark 2, only companion I had left, sweating non-stop, with blurred vision from my cracked glasses. If this was the end I sure wasn’t going to go easy. I checked ammo again and made sure it was reloaded. I heard a boomer outside attempting again to open the security door. The last Boomer killed himself by firing too close to the door. As organized as these things are, I couldn’t help but be taken back by how illogical they can be at times. “Hurry up” I whispered. “I want to see my brother.” I found myself laughing at the fact that six months ago I was a dopy scientist working on projects, to now trained in Gear Combat knocking on deaths door by holding a lancer with about a platoon of Grubs ready to tear my head off. “What an ending.”
“They’re in. This is it. Time to die.” I rose up and starting firing at the Grubs watching them fall like dominos. They started firing back, I dropped into cover and began blind firing, I could hear more dropping. Somewhere in the depths of my being I thought I would survive, then, my biggest fear happened. I ran out of ammo. Sitting there defeated I slumped, but refused to cry. I will die like a man, my conscience told me. I rose up revving the lancer. “Come on, Come on!!!” But to my surprise they stood there doing nothing. Then the Grubs made a hole as if they were preparing for someone to come in. It was a larger Grub, walked with a confidence, like he was General of some sort. To my amazement he spoke clearly, “The Queen orders are to save the ground walkers in white coats.”
“Queen?” I responded. “Yes! Come now.” For some reason I complied, if I was reunited with Adam, we could plan an escape together. They cuffed me and we began to walk out. I did everything in my will not to look at the body of Dury but I couldn’t. Such a decorated solider with no proper burial, just the result of war. Still no tears. Still unable to cry. Battle Hardened in only six hours of straight combat. I went from a scientist to a Grub Killer in a day. Life is strange. But it was a pleasure.
4 hours later Queen Myrrah process of the scientists
“Next up is Doctor Nevil Estrom, Assistant of Adam Fenix.” The Grub General introduced me as if I was prize to be auctioned for. At this point after witnessing thirty lynching’s of my closest colleagues I couldn’t help but to be next. Traumatic. Painful. Reality. I looked up to the queen’s face, rather beautiful I might say. She looked at me with an evil glare. The body count I left must have really irked her bad. “Dr. Estrom we’re you a Gear in your day?” I responded, “No. I was trained in the Mark 2 Lancer and became Gear Efficient, thus allowing me to be effective with it.” She went on, “Well I must say that is impressive Dr. Estrom, you left a heaping toll of my precious Locust.” I followed, “I can say the same thing.” Not the best conversation to have if I wanted to live.
“Being Adam Fenix’s assistant means that you have great quality in helping him find a cure for the Lambent, but after much review we realize that you are an extreme threat to us. If I were to entrust you to be reunited with Adam, I would believe you to deploy a plan to escape. An issue we cannot deal with. Although you are a Doctor Dr. Estrom, you are also a Gear, a threat. Therefore, you are to be executed by Lynching.”
And there it was death by lynching. Three Grubs walked me up to this balcony to tie a rope around my neck. I told myself I would die like a man earlier, and I had to figure out how to. I glanced down as they prepared to push me off the dock, and noticed the Grub’s Boltok Pistol. I got my hands free and went for his pistol. I drew it and shot the Grub in the head killing him. Then managed to kill the other, I felt a strong kick at my back and began to fly off the deck. Swinging I felt myself fading to black and I began blindly firing at Grubs at Ground level hoping to kill enough for my colleagues to make a run for it. My last thoughts were, “It’s going to be great to see my brother, tell him how I finally became a Gear.”
The conclusion to Issue 24 of Gears of War Comics. Follow the concluding path of Nevil Estrom and Paul Dury as they attempt to escape to the bottom of Azura to re-plan and design the Lambent Countermeasure. (FanBoy edition - Not apart of Novel Series)