Moving through the tunnels was a slog for the exhausted Natasha, but she continued forward following Akasi who saw how tired his partner was.
"Not much further Natasha!"
"Do not worry. I keep up."
Finally they passed the point where Miller had been killed by the Callastonian Intruder. Akasi held up his hand signaling a halt. Natasha gratefully crouched and drank some water. Soon she noticed Akasi listening carefully.
"What you hear?"
"I am not sure."
"Cook it to make sure?"
Akasi nodded and waited until Natasha had stood back up and readied her hook before firing a long gout of flame from the Gehenna Puker. The fire outlined a pair of shapes that had been clinging to the ceiling. Natasha instantly sent out her hook, pulping the lead one's skull, while Akasi fired another stream at the second, completely charring it to ash.
"More Intruders?" she asked as the hissing and popping of boiling flesh, blood, and mucus continued in the background.
Akasi nodded again, "They were facing the wrong direction that's why they didn't attack us."
"So we hitting their defenses from behind? Good."
They set out again and Akasi asked Natasha a question that had been bothering him, "How do you have so much control when you throw that weapon of yours? It doesn't look very well balanced, but I haven't seen you miss yet with it."
"It called hook and much practice. It very well balanced for technique I trained in."
"I've never seen anything like it."
"They fairly common where I from. Very rare here. Maybe unique?"
"What are all those things attached to it?"
"Useful tools. Light, compass, wirecutter, bottle opener, wrench. Other things like that. My military believed if equipment was provided, that troopers would not damage other equipment trying to make do."
"They had moments of intelligence, sometimes not enough though."
"Sounds like all militaries everywhere."
"Da, eta ochen pravda," she agreed with a laugh and a sigh. By this time they were getting close to the entrance where they started hearing massive amounts of gunfire.
"This is Akasi! We're coming out!"
"Akasi!?! You two are still alive?" Therese's voice came over their headsets.
"Da we live!" Natasha responded.
"Tasha!" the Varan smiled when she heard Buffy's voice, "There's like an artillery strikey thing incoming! You really might want to run!"
Therese spoke up again, "Buffy came up with a plan that might work! So run!"
Akasi and Natasha looked at each other and began to run as fast as possible, slipping and sliding over Dark Legion body parts and finally clambering over a Bio-Giant corpse that was absolutely riddled with high-explosives.
"Autocannon?" Natasha asked.
"Autocannon," Akasi agreed.
"Buffy," Natasha stated positively. They had reached the entrance and were coming up behind a line of Legionnaires firing out at the rest of the squad. Akasi fired off the rest of the fuel in the flamer before dropping it while Natasha destroyed a heavy weapons position. Then the two of them were past the burning corpses and in a freefire zone. The hook was now in Defensive Rotation behind them and shots sparkled off of it like angry drunken bees.
"How is that possible?" Akasi gasped.
"Save breath to run!"
The pair made it to the woodline where they found Buffy laying down covering fire with the Nimrod.
"Hi Tasha! Run really fast! We have like thirty seconds to get that way!" she said pointing.
A faint whistling sound could be heard. Akasi and Natasha recognized the presence of inbound artillery. They ran as fast as possible, finally collapsing behind a rocky outcropping just as the first rounds hit.
It sounded like the end of days as massive ground churning explosions began their thumping path between the river and the entrance.
"That's my idea! I thought since we can't blow it up, why not flood it out?" Buffy was peeking over the rock slab ducking occasionally as a chunk of timber or stone came flying past. After ten minutes of unceasing barrage. It got quiet, then came the sound of running water.
"Tasha you have to see this!" Buffy yelled excitedly. The Red Trooper stuck her head up and saw the water flowing with far more force than could be expected. "Do you see them?"
"The women dancing in the water silly. Try using your protocolly stuff. I see them with my good eye"
Natasha activated her helmet's vision protocols and saw a score of women in gauzy dresses dancing in the foam. "Rusilka?"
"Those are water spirits right?"
"Da. I think Grandmother involved."
"Do you feel used again?"
"Don't think of it as being used children," came the familiar aged voice.
All three, including Akasi, turned to see Baba Yaga leaning on her cane, "Sergeant," the old witch addressed Akasi, "Tell the Brother and the Sister Captain that these two girls had to go home for a while and that the super-caldera volcano that that would have erupted if that nasty building on my node had been blown up, will now not occur. They might want to examine the geologist that surveyed this area's loyalties."
"Who are you?" Akasi gasped.
"I'm your old granny, Akasi. Now run along, there's a good boy," she turned back to the two women. "And it's time," they found themselves sitting in Baba Yaga's hut, with the old woman calmly smoking her pipe.
"I thought there were more nodes?" Buffy asked, "And where's my cannon?"
"There are my child, but they can only be affected at the proper time. As for that weapon, it is staying in the time it belongs in. Don't give me that pouting face young lady. You might make me unhappy."
"Grandmother," Natasha began.
"Yes my dear, you will be going back. But you have had several strenuous days and you both need some rest. I'll fetch you when you're needed. Never fear."
Natasha found herself breakfast dish in hand standing in front of her sink. A few minutes later there was a knock on her door.
"Tasha! You in there?"
"Coming Pchelka!" When she opened the door she saw Buffy and her friend Willow.
"Thank God!" Buffy hugged her.
"Hi Miss Natasha!" the perky redhead said smiling. "Buffy said to get her here at once. What happened?"
"Baba Yaga," Natasha replied. Willow's face clouded.
"What happened? Is there anything I can do?"
"Da, Miss Rosenberg. You can help find out anything known about evil called Dark Symmetry or Dar Soul. Also names Algeroth, Semai, and Ilian. We going back in future and should know more about opponents."
"You're going back? When?"
"Whenever Baba Yaga says so...We must be ready."a/n
Breaking it down into attacks on different nodes. I like writing Natasha and try really hard to not Deus Ex her abilities. If I do go too far, please slap me down. I really want her to stay a human character and not a superhuman.
Of course there will be more, but we are done with Venus.