Empires II: Dark Messiah

Discussion in 'Worldbuilding' started by DonMegel, Jan 18, 2007.

  1. DonMegel

    DonMegel Member

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    I've written pretty far ahead and are just releasing a little at a time. Feedback leads to quicker releases :-)
     
  2. DonMegel

    DonMegel Member

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    Or none at all...
     
  3. blizzerd

    blizzerd Member

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    i read em, think you should just use some external site to host these to get a proper public attention then hidden away on this forum though
     
  4. DonMegel

    DonMegel Member

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    "We're not dead."
    *
    "The day is young." Patterson responded with an unseen smile to his friend's remarks. The bridge, and doubtlessly much the ship, was in complete darkness. Only the occasional backlit button or knob pierced the inky mist.
    *
    "Auxiliary power?" Jonathan asked from somewhere behind his chair. Patterson wondered if he had been thrown during the jump.
    *
    "Checking" a few moments passed*as the owner of the distant voice carried out its promise.
    *
    "Emergency back up only" she replied after a few moments. "the batteries look fine but we aren't getting any juice"
    *
    "Sparks-" Patterson said aloud before stopping short,**"um, get me engineering" he finished with less conviction and slightly embarrassed. No one thought less of him for the slip; the make up of the crew had changed drastically in the past week. It was becoming increasingly difficult to keep everyone straight.
    *
    "I have Major Lajita on the hard line sir"
    *
    Patterson cautiously rose from his chair and groped through the darkness in the direction of the communications station. Bits of glass and scorched metal crunched under his boots, larger pieces of debris scattered in the face of cautious exploratory kicks. After stumbling twice and inadvertently*becoming more familiar with another officer, the Captain reached the waiting handset.
    *
    "Major?"
    *
    "Yes Sir" The REO responded, level as always.
    *
    "Why am I in the dark?"
    *
    "Automatic and computerized auxiliaries for power distribution have failed. I have dispatched crewman to manually redirect the flow."
    *
    On cue, the pale white auxiliary lights flickered to life quickly followed by computer monitors and a host of other buttons, fans, and buzzers. Clearly the Major had Spark's knack for dramatics.
    *
    "Good work Major" Patterson said looking over the mangled wreck of his bridge, "how about main power?"
    *
    "Still evaluating our options Sir, will report further in 15."
    *
    Patterson nodded in silent acknowledgment to the absent Major*as he dropped the phone into its receiver. The bridge*was now filled with a pale white light blanketing everything without discriminating for form or function. Normal bridge lighting was emphasized over work stations and doorways with track lights running along the walls.*The dull, aimless emergency lights gave the effect of a film crew who had finished their work for the day, cutting the dramatic lighting in favor of more practical, but less complimentary, flood lights. This basic lighting, absent the finesse of staged lights, illuminated fresh scars and burn marks earned during the jump. At least one work station, thankfully unoccupied, had exploded, vomiting its components out*over*several feet in all directions. Overhead, a small structural support had buckled and now dangled a few feet from the Captain's chair. Just beside the jagged edges, a long gash had been cut in the steel*half wall behind*the chair. A few more inches over and it would have split Patterson's head in two.
    "Well" he offered after taking in the damage for a few more seconds, "We are not dead, but where are we?"
    *
    "Sensors still coming online Captain" Samson responded. Samson was typically an expert in navigation*but, absent any qualified personnel to run tactical, he had decided to switch hats. No one had given him the order to do so, the burly blonde just saw a need and met it. Such was the way Patterson liked to run his ship. "but external temperature*readings are very high. I'd say we are pretty close to a star"
    *
    "That would explain the heat" Jonathan remarked, absently rubbing a large lump on the back of his head. "Its like a sauna in here"
    *
    Patterson began unbuttoning his tunic, not so much for his own comfort but to let the rest of the bridge crew know that they too could shed their crimson jackets. "The same star? We're still here?"
    *
    "We could have landed close to another one" Jonathan offered checking a functional workstation for himself.
    *
    "Landed really close" Samson interjected, doubting that was the case, "outside temperatures indicate we are in a stars atmosphere-" a slight chirp ended his sentence, "its confirmed" he continued, "we are still at the binary cluster, just a bit further down and around one side; in the soup."
    *
    "Really?" Patterson asked in disbelief. He wasn’t aware that, aside from success and death, a star shot had a third possible outcome; lower and slightly to the side.
    *
    "Star charts, spectral analysis and radiation levels all confirm. We're still here."
    *
    "Damn" Jonathan swore under his breath, "What about the Borodin?"
    *
    "We have a possible vessel at 1834 mark 2 but its hard to say with all of this interference."
    *
    Patterson looked puzzled, "1834?" he asked walking over to the*tactical station, "Thats on our side of the star."
    *
    Samson raised his shoulders, "could just be a ghost, I'm a navigator not a sensor expert."
    *
    Captain Patterson placed a hand on Samson's chair to steady himself as he leaned over the glowing screen. It had been nearly*ten years since serving as a science officer aboard the JoAnn but piecing together sensor readings was more of an art than a science and art came from the gut. "Its a ship" he concluded, still looking at the data. "but how did the Borodin get all the way around here so fast? Its at least several hours."
    *
    "She follow us in?" Jonathan asked without looking up from the station he had commandeered. His own workstation beside the Captain's chair had shorted out during the jump.
    *
    "and also took door number 3?" Patterson asked with some amusement. Door number 3 referring to “down and slightly over” as a result of the failed star shot. "No, could**Brandy have other ships out here? Perhaps studying the cluster?"
    *
    "A science ship would lend a great many items the Major would be happy to see" Jonathan offered without looking up, "There is nothing holding this ship together but blood and tears"
    *
    Patterson's eyes continued to dart from data set to data set, the blue and yellow hue of the monitor drowning out his natural color. His eyebrows pulled into a point of concern and intrigue. It felt like a ship but something wasn’t right, something was off. "If its not the Borodin we need to at least know who he has covering his flank. We need a closer look."
    *
    "Engineering to the bridge" the Major chimed in, eerily anticipating the Captain's need for propulsion.
    *
    "Go ahead Major" Jonathan said as Patterson finally sent Samson back to navigation so that he himself could sit at the*tactical*station.
    *
    "Auxiliary power plants are online. Main power restoration is possible in three hours."
    *
    Patterson at last broke his gaze from the flickering screen and looked up to the ceiling mounted speaker in disbelief. "We can't go use the GSW without main power Major."
    *
    "I am aware Captain" he responded dryly. Sparks would have had a much more colorful response to such a statement of the obvious but REOs were a great deal more controlled.
    *
    "How about sub light?"
    *
    "We may proceed at 3/4 sub light speed, Sir"
    *
    Patterson sighed and rubbed his tired eyes, "Alright, but I want the GSW operational before we bake."
    *
    "It is a prio-" Patterson cut off the com link before the Major could finish, then turned to face the helm. "Make for the sensor contact but keep it slow. I don't want to raise any flags for the Borodin."
    *
    Samson, now back at his navigation console, nodded in slightly exaggerated agreement. "one-quarter SLS (Sub Light Speed) will put us there in about 2.5 hours Captain."
    *
    "That'll work" Patterson replied, giving the order informally. "Bruce?"
    *
    The first officer looked up.
    *
    "Get some rack time, Thats an order."
    *
    "Jonathan stood and grabbed his discarded tunic before walking towards the lift. "I'll be back in an hour and change" he told the Captain as the door slid open, "Then its your turn"
    *
    The Captain nodded in agreement before returning his attention to the morphing numbers and images flowing in from the sensors. "See you in an hour."
     
  5. DonMegel

    DonMegel Member

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    -- ISS Borodin --
    *
    "I think you'll be pleased with this Captain"
    *
    Gardiner looked up from his updated damage report to glare at his first officer. "Thats terribly presumptuous"
    *
    Smyth drew the corners of his mouth into a half smile, "None the less" he went on, handing his superior officer a data pad, "I think you'll be pleased."
    *
    Gardiner dropped his data pad in favor of the identical replica being handed to him, adjusted his reading glasses and began to look over its contents. Typically the Captain, like other officers,*enjoyed a cup of coffee while reading reports, but the sojourn through the outer atmosphere of two stars had made the air sufficiently uncomfortable to dissuade such a habit. Naturally the life support systems were keeping the Borodin comfortable, but only just.
    *
    Commander Smyth waited for the Captain to read a few lines before summarizing his report, "I think we've found the Ramman."
    *
    Gardnier lowered the pad and took off his reading glasses to look up at the younger officer who was nearly gleaming. "Oh?"
    *
    Smyth went on, "Super heated gasses radiating off of the suns can be quite destructive. Normally a ship's outer hull is more than enough to protect it but if that hull was compromised the internal components could be vulnerable. In our case, we flood the exposed regions with Xenon particles that bind with the gases and siphon them away."
    *
    The Captain's jaw tightened at the mention of the gapping holes in his vessel that necessitated such a procedure. The Commander went on. "We know the Ramman is in much worse shape requiring more drastic actions if the exposed nacelle is to be salvaged. Captain Saber tells me this would-"
    *
    "Spare me the means" Gardiner interrupted impatiently, "Skip to the ends"
    *
    Commander Smyth, his triumphant rant cut short, looked a bit disgruntled but went on proudly. "The area around the Ramman is a few degrees cooler than the rest."
    *
    "Temperature variations are common in this sort of cloud" The Captain replaced his glasses and returned to his previous data pad, "There is no way to-"
    *
    "Ofcourse" Smyth, emboldened by his achievement, interrupted, "That is why I cross referenced those cool spots with spikes in the magnetic field."
    *
    Gardnier stopped reading and let the pad droop slightly in his hand as he looked to a indistinguishable point on the table, his mind examining possibilities not previously considered. "That," he let out in steps, still turning over the idea, "would still leave a few options-"
    *
    "Three" Smyth switched over to high beams, clearly satisfied to have anticipated the Captain's reservations. "But only one of those is moving in a straight line at one quarter SLS."
    *
    Gardiner scoffed in amazement, dropping the pad and turning to look up at the Commander. "Well done" he said with a touch of genuine gratitude. "bring us in on his bad side, slowly, we don't want to tip him off."
    *
    Commander Smyth nodded in humble acceptance of the compliment before turning to leave. "Thank you sir."
    *
    As the younger man almost skipped from his office Gardnier slowly swiveled back to face his desk, a small, devious smile creeping back onto his craggy face. "Well done indeed"
     
  6. blizzerd

    blizzerd Member

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    this asterisk (*) per line busness is confusing to read, just saying

    it wasnt so annoying at first because stuff was smaller, but now its weird
     
  7. DonMegel

    DonMegel Member

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    Sorry, those get added in when I post from my iPad

    Alarm klaxons screamed in horror at the impending doom at hand. Although, as inanimate objects, they knew not the fate that was awaiting them, to all-too-human observers, they seemed even more desperate to make their handlers aware of the situation. They even seemed afraid, their horrified calls taking on the cry of a dieing wildebeest or zebra. At another time, Patterson may have mused about the purpose of these persistent warnings, as if the loud explosions and the sound of tearing metal were not enough to let the crew know that all was not right. Instead his mind was fixed more on his vessel disintegrating around him.

    Captain Patterson's reservation's about the mystery ship had proven well founded. As the clouds of plasma and gas parted, the ISS Iron Hide, a Heavy Dreadnaught, had come into focus. The Ramman swung about only to discover the Borodin had been following close behind. Under better circumstances the Ramman could out run them both but the Iron Hide had much longer range weaponry and, with the Jekotian vessel crippled, would pluck it from the stars before they made it half a parsec away. They were trapped.

    Patterson knew he should have shied away from the mystery vessel but, realistically, nothing any bigger than a corvette should have been that far out. Dreadnaughts never left the core systems, surrounded by scores of other vessels, they formed the rigid backbone of each nation's "deterrence fleet," a mass a ships kept close to the vest to ensure neither side made an attack on the home world. None the less, she was here, and the Ramman was in trouble.

    "Take us deeper into the soup!" Patterson yelled, straining to raise his voice over the cacophony of sounds filling the air.

    "We'll bake in there!" Jonathan pointed out from his new chair across the room.

    "Better odds than-"

    The Ramman lurched so violently that everyone on the bridge was thrown from their chairs and into the piles of rubble in the floor. An ear splitting whine blanketed by a thunderous roar accompanied the drastic dislocation. Dozens of smaller cracks, whinnies, explosions and vibrations began echoing through the bulkheads. No new alarms sounded distress at these events; each one had been blaring before the event and could scream no louder.

    "What the hell!?" Commander Bruce was the first one to return to his station amidst showers of wires and debris falling from the crumbling ceiling. He took but a moment to glance over the flashing warnings. "My God"

    Patterson too made it back to his seat, "how bad Jon?"

    Jonathan's response was forced, like someone trying to speak inspite of great sadness and fear. "We've lost to port nacelle"

    "We can't jump any way-" Patterson began before being abruptly cut short.

    "No," Jonathan continued, "Its gone, they've severed the entire pylon"

    Captain Patterson now developed his own lump of horror and pain. As the two exchanged looks of grim certainty, the skin of the Ramman was peeling away like an orange, flaking off from the amputated limb. Searing gasses and plasma from the binaries was flooding into corridors and access tunnels, down vents and into compartments. Emergency bulkheads would, ofcourse, slam closed to keep out the vacuum of space but none of them could tolerate the intense fire from the sun.

    The Ramman was dissolving. She was decades past her prime, saved from mothballs on more than one occasion, held together with patches and the tender love and constant care of an adoring crew and Captain. Before being assigned this suicidal mission she was in need of major repairs. Since then she had been battered beyond recognition, resurrected and battered to death once more. In the past few days she had undergone stresses to her frame, engines, weapons and defenses that most vessels would not see in a life time of service. She was past tired. She was spent. She had nothing left to give.

    Patterson took all of this in an instant. "Raise the Borodin!' He ordered, "Signal our immediate surrender and request assistance in evacuations"

    Jonathan, still covered in the blood of the communications officer who had just perished, busily jabbed in commands. "They are not responding."

    A loud ripping sound resonated from deep with the dieing beast; hot gases had found their way to the plasma conduits that fed energy to much of the ship. Each rupture poured more corrosive, destructive material into fragile surroundings. The chain reaction would halt at relay stations positioned at various points but key structural supports would have been compromised, furthering the Ramman's demise.

    Patterson took a deep breath, ignoring the acrid smell of burnt plastic and flesh. Damn. "Abandon ship" he ordered half to himself "signal all crew abandon ship"

    "Captain to the bridge"

    The Captain looked up to the intercom in intrigue. "I'm already on the bridge."

    "All hands abandon ship!" Jonathan began relaying through the ship wide intercom, "All hands abandon ship!"

    "Captain to the bridge"

    Patterson swiveled around to question his first officer on the erroneous call for him to come to the bridge. The voice sounded like that of the Commander but he was broadcasting the evacuation order. "Jon?"

    Jonathan looked over his shoulder in response to the inquiry just a moment before his own consol exploded in a shower of glass and steel. The blast threw his shredded corps across the room and into a crumbled mess at the feet of his horrified friend.

    Patterson screamed in shock, outrage, despair and grief, roaring in agony he leapt from his seat to verify what he already knew.

    "Captain, please respond"

    Captain Patterson jolted up in his bed screaming, his face and clothes drenched in sweat. Looking about in panic he saw only darkness and, for a brief moment, considered the possibility that he might be dead. Slowly, however, the fire and blood and hell of his nightmare began to fade, morphing instead into the reality of the Captain's quarters. He let out a deep sigh of relief before tapping the com button on his bed side table. "Patterson here"

    Jonathan's voice was fresh and lively, not a trace of the pain and suffering so prevalent in the recent nightmare. "I was about to send a security detachment."

    Running his hands through his soaked hair, Patterson swung out of bed and turned on the shower. "I guess I needed the sleep"

    "I would have let you sleep longer but your needed on the bridge. We're getting some odd readings from our mystery vessel."

    Images of the Imperial Dreadnaught slicing through the Ramman flashed through the Captain's head. "All stop. I'll be there in 10"
     
  8. Sprayer2708

    Sprayer2708 Member

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    Damn! That would've been a disappointment of an ending ^^
    Go on Megel, nice story.
     
  9. DonMegel

    DonMegel Member

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    I apologize for the long delay, I had my appendix out last week and had no access to the computer where my writings were saved.

    "Lets have it" Patterson*demanded matter-of-factly as he strolled onto the busy bridge. Although still scarred, he was pleased to discover the bridge in better condition than when he had left it an hour before; a far cry from the nightmare still fresh in his mind.

    "Its big" Samson began, swiveling back around to the monitor as the Captain approached. "Really big"

    Patterson's mouth went dry. "A dreadnaught?"

    Samson shook his head dismissively, "No Sir, bigger and denser."

    The look of fear and concern on the Captains face faded into intrigue. "A freighter?"

    Again Samson shook his head, "nothing about these readings say freighter, or Brenodi for that matter. I don't know what it is."

    As before, Patterson waved off the navigation officer so that he himself to could examine the data. As promised, the information flowing in from the various sensors installed around the ship painted a picture of a craft, of an object, unlike any he had seen before. It was at least*seven times larger than the Borodin with a radiation signature that didn't match anything on record. The surface was a reflective material for the most part, resisting scans of the interior. In places this solid exterior gave way to bursts of intense radiation and energy, presumably for propulsion, but in bizarre configurations, moving along the vessel in long slits rather than grouped ports. Gravitational readings indicated frequent fluctuations that appeared for a short time before vanishing giving the appearance of vibrations but only at certain points along the hull. So dense was the craft that it blocked out any radiation readings from behind, creating a space much darker than its surroundings. From this Patterson could make out the rough shape of the object. It appeared to be composed of two triangles, one massive one pointing forward and a second, smaller one, pointing rearward from the base of the larger one. Rather then being flat, the center of the triangles came to a point to form a ridge that ran the length of each. The edges of the vessel met to form a hard edge, like a blade, on*the port and starbord sides. There seemed to be no outcroppings, no towers, no antenna or arrays. Only flat, sharp edges and a clean surface.
    Patterson felt a very real chill go up his spine.
    "This isn't Brenodi"

    Jonathan stood tall behind the seated Captain, arms crossed, stroking his three day old beard in thought. "Another species?"

    "If it is" the Captain responded, still critiquing the sensor image, "They are nothing like the Deeites"

    One of the countless lights crammed onto the workstation chose that moment to illuminate, letting bystanders know it had something to say. Patterson, already at the sensor station, pressed the happily blinking button in order to receive its message.

    "Looks like the Borodin is on our trail" he said, interpreting the information aloud, "about 45 minutes behind." Still fresh in his mind was the dream in which the Borodin had achieved just such a surprise. Although the mystery vessel had not proven to be a Brenodi threat, it could still prove to be unpleasant experience. "Bruce" he said after a few moments of contemplation, "Get together a team, I want to make contact with who ever is over there. Gardiner wouldn't dare risk showing aggression with these guys around" he jabbed a thumb towards the gray image of the massive triangles.

    "Unless the Brenodi have already made contact" Jonathan observed.

    Patterson nodded, "Possibly, but if so he still wouldn't want to risk a wayward round souring relations."

    The first officer himself nodded in agreement, "I'll get together a team"

    "And Bruce" Patterson added as the first officer turned to leave, "Make sure you bring some REOs"

    -- ISS Borodin --

    "Could it be Jekotian?"

    "Doubtful, I don't see any duct tape"

    A glare, "Sir, I meant-"

    "I know what you meant, and the answer is no. It looks to be utilizing a method of propulsion-"

    Gardiner sat quietly in his chair at the head of the conference table as his first officer and chief engineer went back and forth. He enjoyed the banter. It not only fleshed out ideas and brought forward alternate options but gave clues*about attitudes, positions, emotions, dispositions, fatigue,*cunning, wit and inelegance,*like a thermostat on the inner workings of his command staff. He would interject from time to time, directing the conversation, bringing up an important issue, and would always close the discussion with a final decision and assign tasks.

    "If its not ours" Smyth went on, "and not theirs then it must be-"

    "Someone else’s" Gardiner concluded, he waited a moment for the notion to sink in. "And from the appearance of their vessel I don't think we'll be making slaves out of them any time soon."

    Captain Maximillion snickered at the reference to easily conquered Deeites. "I dunno, those spears were very sharp, kind of touch and go there for a while."

    A few people around the table chuckled, including Gardiner. Having served together for longer than some of the crew had been out of training, Maximillion was allowed a great deal more slack than the rest of the command staff. Being equal in rank with the Captain didn't hurt either.

    "Patterson has already made the first move" Gardiner went on after the table had quieted. "He knows we can't engage him while that thing is hanging out there. Smyth" he turned to face his first officer, "I want you over there as well. Take a small team, link up with Patterson's group but-“ he stressed, his eyes boreing into the younger man, “do not engage them. If these creatures see us as the aggressors they could come to Patterson’s aide.”

    The first officer nodded in understanding, “and if we are engaged?”

    Warning delivered, Gardiner’s stance relaxed, “You won’t be. Patterson knows we could still blow him from the stars. He won’t be the first to strike.”

    Smyth’s eyes glanced down towards the table as he presented his carefully worded correction. “I was thinking more of the ship’s native inhabitants.”

    All eyes turned to the Captain in unison. As a Captain of a starship the fate of many hundreds of lives often rested on a single moment, a single order or word. It was something the men and women trained for, something they expected. Seldom, however, did the prospect of interstellar war and the fate of billions find the same convergence. Gardiner found the unexpected realization unsettling.

    “If they fire on you” he replied after a quick moment of contemplation. “kill every last one of them.”
     
  10. DonMegel

    DonMegel Member

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    No well wishes after me being in the hospital? No "hey where is the next installment?" No, "I left an egg in the sun and now it smells bad?"
     
  11. Sprayer2708

    Sprayer2708 Member

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    Hey, where is the next installment?
     
  12. DonMegel

    DonMegel Member

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    Was waiting on y'all. Will post tonight
     
  13. Trickster

    Trickster Retired Developer

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    Megel, before you post it, just take note of the view numbers, and then check on them every now and then. They'll prove that people either do, or don't read the thread.
     
  14. DonMegel

    DonMegel Member

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    A sea of pastel orange swirled with the occasional splash of white and red dominated the view ports on the bouncing shuttlecraft. Despite the constant vibrations that were only interrupted by violent jolts as gravitational eddies toyed with the craft, the view ports remained placid, surreal, like the light of the sun through tightly closed eyes. Both the Ramman and the mystery ship were far enough away from the surface of the binaries to allow the safe deployment of shuttlecraft but the abundance of superheated gasses and plasma made anything but strict instrument flight impossible. The shuttle pilots had trained often for this type of mission but the first officer had already vomited once and every abrupt movement brought him closer to a repeat performance.

    "This is shuttlecraft Spirit,” the luitenant’s copilot announced flipping an antiquated looking toggle, “we read you Ramman, over"

    Commander Bruce hung awkwardly over the shoulder of one of the pair of pilots in the flight area, his leg pressed uncomfortably against the huge metal door. The newer Stingray IV class assault shuttles had a cabin door that recessed into the bulkhead but the older class IIIs the Ramman carried lacked such creature comforts.

    "Ramman actual here" the speaker with the large dent on one side explained, "I need to speak with Commander Bruce"

    Jonathan spoke up, "I'm here John, whats happening?"

    "I just got done speaking with the Borodin."

    Jonathan's heart sank as his throat closed in a simultaneous expression of disappointment and apprehension. "Go ahead"

    "You're going to have company" Pattersons voice was both agrreable and sympathetic. There was a time that he too was a first officer leading dangerous missions with unwanted surprises. "Brandy's team is going to form up with you when you clear the Ramman"

    Spirit’s pilots exchanged concerned glances at the mention of a Brenodi assault craft flying formation with them. Jonathan sighed. "What are our rules of engagment?"

    "Only fire if fired upon" Patterson quickly answered, "and if you do get fired upon look twice so that you know it was them. The last thing we need is a fire fight."

    Jonathan nodded as if his commanding officer could see, “Understood, we’ll be carful”

    The staticy transmission cut away with a soft thud. Communicating through the soup would be nearly impossible as the shuttles grew closer to their target.

    “Time?” Jonathan forced as sweat beaded on his off color forehead. Although only a few of the team were feeling queasy, everyone was sweltering in the steamy cabin. The boarding party had quickly learned that, with the shuttles exterior reaching several thousand degrees Kelvin, “Safe deployment” was not the same thing as “comfortable deployment.”

    A soaked Lt. glanced at the distance to target readout and quickly did the math in his head. “We should be coming upon it now Sir.”

    On cue the formless orange abyss began to part, slowly at first, a touch of darker colors giving way to an expanding cloud of black. Growing wide with awe, a dozen eyes fixated on the puff of darkness that grew to encompass the entire view port. Computerized sensor banks had failed to grasp the true magnitude of what the vessel looked like with the naked eye. What began as a cloudy dark mass sharpened into a mammoth vessel clad in a semi glossy black that looked more like marble or volcanic glass than metal.

    Hundreds of lines, both straight and curved, flowed fluidly across the otherwise sharp, slate like surface; their dance of linear inclusion implying an intelligent pattern but presenting none that could be immediately understood. Occasionally a sharp slit in the monolith would appear and spout an even plume of bright neon green plasma before returning again to glossy darkness. As had been indicated on the scans, there were no towers or extensions to mar the clean surface, but computer enhanced images could not convey the primal fear evoked by such an uninterrupted, vast façade. It triggered the most base application of the survival instinct, a tiny switch in the deepest part of the brain meant to instill the notion that all was not right.

    No one spoke as the comparatively gnat like craft crossed the lateral midsection on its way toward what they hoped was a landing platform entrance. Jonathan’s stomach, nausea forgotten, twisted into a tight knot of apprehension. He desperately wished to have contact with the Ramman so that, Patterson, upon seeing this unholy mountain, could call them away, but, this far out, communications were impossible. He was in charge, captain of his own tiny ship and its tiny crew. The first officer swallowed hard.

    “There” the copilot, an ensign, half whispered as their destination came into view.

    The Lt. nodded, “30 seconds.”

    Jonathan blinked away the nightmarish thoughts that had begun creeping into his mind and donned the armor of duty and training. “Alright,” he forced with deceptively calm authority, “Alpha team is with me, Baker team will remain with the shuttle.”

    Each of the 24 men and women within ear shot performed their own private mental reshuffling, silencing the tiny internal voice screaming for them to run and began making ready their gear. Only the six REOs, three for each team, seemed unaffected by the mission at hand, each of them maintaining a look of indifference.

    Jonathan turned back to the helm, “Any sign of the Borodin’s team?”

    The ensign nodded, “about 8 clicks off our starboard. Matching our speed and bearing.”

    Although initially unsettling, the presence of armed Imperial Marines, after seeing their target, now brought comfort to the Commander. Hopfuly the Imperial team would feel the same about them.

    “Sir?” the Ensign asked, interrupting the Commander’s thoughts, “We’re getting some energy readings from the landing site.”

    So there is a landing site… Jonathan thought with a bit of disappointment. “Hostile?”

    The young woman shook her head, “I don’t think so, its more like a field projection than a weapon system.”

    The Commander’s eyes darted up from the myriad of buttons and knobs to the endless black horizon stretching before them. “I don’t see anything”

    “The platform is an opening in the hull” the Lieutenant responded, “we’ll have to rise into it.”

    “Through the field?”

    Lt. Erikson nodded, “ten seconds”

    Outside, the stark unnatural landscape broke open to reveal a cavernous compartment shielded with a translucent green field. With expert skill the tiny craft slowed and swung wide to line up for ascent. Tentatively at first, the upper bulkhead breached the humming energy field before, seeing no averse effects, giving way to the rest of the craft.

    Once across the threshold, the shuttle found a much larger expanse in which to maneuver. At nearly double the size of all of the cargo bays on the Ramman combined, the landing bay was so large the shuttle crew considered the possibility they had entered a portion of the craft that was under construction and gutted. Soon, however, the crew spotted a pair of foreign craft at one end and other accoutrements of a landing area giving Jonathan reason to order the landing.

    “Landing cycle complete” Erikson announced after a hard thud. “Gravity seems to be a bit strong”

    “Keep the engines spooled up” the Commander ordered as he turned to get his environmental suit. “I want to be able to leave in a hurry if things turn sour.”

    Shaking her head, the young Ensign gestured out the window, “You won’t need the suit sir. Atmosphere is reading breathable.”

    Jonathan paused with the suit half way across his shoulders, “There is a hole big enough to-“

    “It must be that field,” the Ensign interrupted, “its keeping the atmosphere in and space out.”

    The Commander’s eyes scanned the expanse through the large viewing area for a moment before reversing the progress made in dressing. “Breathable?”

    She nodded, “barley, high concentrations of sulfur and carbon-dioxide but there is enough nitrogen and oxygen to maintain life”

    Not a very pleasant life he thought as he turned to give the news to his teams.

    Feeling more comfortable with the unfamiliar landscape after seeing the Jekotian shuttle enter first, a Brenodi vessel burst up through the field and glided gracefully towards the former. In typical Brenodi style, the Borodin’s shuttle was sleek and modern with clean lines and smooth surfaces that made the chunky, industrial design of the hardy Jekotian craft look almost barbaric in comparison. The shuttles engines quickly powered down in preparation to expel is contents, the enlightened blue glow of the engines flickering a bit before finally going dark.

    Commander Bruce examined the enemies that had become friends in the face of an uncertain first contact. It wasn’t really hatred that colored his thoughts, officers in both fleets often considered one another honored foes, but rather a pithy distaste. Brenodi, or Brandy as Jekotians often cursed, conducted themselves with an arrogance and smugness that underlined their view of the world, and the stars, as an Imperial playground and the Jekotians as barbaric animals who had not the good sense to submit. In some Imperial distericts, laws even forbade intermarriage with members of the Republic, claiming such an act would constitute bestiality. And, while these laws were officially scoffed at by respectable Brenodi, one could tell that, deep down, each one felt the same; Jekotians were creatures, one step above cattle.

    Jonathan drew a long hard breath. “Lets get this over with”
     
  15. ViroMan

    ViroMan Black Hole (*sniff*) Bully

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    now im gana view this thread at least 10 times a day.

    ۞_۞
     
  16. DonMegel

    DonMegel Member

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    Smyth squinted in a vain attempt to draw out details from the far side of the mammoth landing bay. He found it not surprising that such a large space was so poorly lit and wondered if the creators had corrected the design flaw in later versions. The lighting was adequate, but only just barley.

    White/blue ambient light glowed from atop huge ink black beams stretching from one side of the room to the other. Smyth could not tell how wide or thick the beams were due to the level and positioning of the lights combined with the incredible darkness of the material used to craft the supports. Along the edges of the walls the same white/blue light, the source never visible, shown about ten meters up and out before fading away into darkness. Interestingly, the light seemed no brighter at its origin than it did five meters away giving the impression it was coming from the wall itself.

    Embedded in the deck plates at seemingly random intervals was additional illumination in the same style as the ceiling and bulkheads. These lights proved to be the most effective, not due to their brightness which was equally disappointing, but due to their position which silhouetted landing craft and servicing equipment in the distance.

    Like the surface of the ship itself, the walls and much of the deck were devoid of any outcropping that might mar the barren façade, slight engravings spanning the immense surface of the floor. Breathing deep one would notice the air was cool but at the same time moist and sticky, heavy with the smell of sulfur and staleness. There was no breeze to indicate life support systems, nor sounds of crew and equipment mulling around on other decks, only thick, stagnate air and oppressive silence.

    Commander Smyth frowned. Every inch of the Borodin was brightly lit, perfectly heated and smelled every so slightly of almonds. “Remember your orders gentlemen” he commanded as he strolled confidently down the rear loading ramp of the shuttlecraft Excellence. “shoulder those weapons”

    Thirty meters away the commander’s counterpart was issuing similar orders to his untidy band. No wonder we let them remain independent…

    With precision and training the Imperial Marines fanned out and took up positions around the landing site. Inside the shuttle, other Marines readied heavy weapons for quick deployment if the landing zone turned hot. Typically those weapons would be deployed outside the shuttle but the Captain wanted to make a humble first impression.

    Confidently, Commander Smyth strolled past a young Marine who was suspiciously eyeing his counterpart and extended his hand toward the Jekotian commander. “Jeremiah Smyth” he offered with an insincere smile.
    The crimson clad Jekotian returned the gesture, “Jonathan Bruce”

    Smyth fought back the urge to wipe his hand on his pant leg after withdrawing. “I assume you have been briefed?”

    Bruce nodded, “The enemy of my enemy…” he trailed off flashing his own curt smile.

    “lets hope it doesn’t come to that” Smyth replied with derision. “Who is going to take point?”

    “Keep it simple” he replied, “Two by two, we’ll take the left, you take the right.”

    Smyth held out the “soiled” hand in the direction of the closest open hatch, “After you.”

    Smyth’s counterpart presented a short mock bow and ordered his men to begin their advance. Smyth did likewise and the unlikely group of ambassadors moved into their agreed upon sides of the corridor. Each group had several scanning devises taking countless readings from ultraviolet emissions and air samples to multifrequency sonar mapping of their surroundings. Back on their respective main vessels, the data would be scrutinized, but for the time being the small devices provided small clues to the unseen world around them.

    “Smyth to Excellence” he said touching his ear piece after finding nothing of interest on his scanner, “Any response to our hails?”

    The reply was quick, “Negative. Broadcasting friendly greeting on all channels”

    “Understood, inform me the minute you have word.”

    “Affirmative”

    As Smyth lowered his hand he realized he had been nearly whispering. Looking around with slight embarrassment he saw that others were doing the same, if saying anything at all. Neither party had made any effort to mask their approach, blasting friendly messages in every communication method known, secrecy and stealth would imply nefarious intensions.

    It was instead fear that was hushing their tones. Each of the Marines had been handpicked for their experience and valor in combat; danger was not an unfamiliar concept. Even the Jekotians had tasted deaths sting, if for no other reason than the Borodin’s relentless pursuit of the past several days. It was something instead far more base, more instinctual, akin to the feeling of dread evoked by the foreign vessels outward appearance; not sinister at face value, rather it created an uneasiness, a reality that the mind refused to accept and continuously attempted to regurgitate.

    The corridor, like the landing bay it led from, was dark and damp, but, thankfully, much smaller in comparison. At its zenith, the hall appeared to be four meters high but gradually gave way to sloping walls that terminated in lightless corners. Wide enough to allow both teams to keep their distance while remaining side by side, the path stretched forward with no apparent juncture. Around them, completely black arches lent support to the curved bulkheads; their absence of color giving way only to the occasional glimmer of glossy reflection. As had been the case at the landing site, bluish-white light seeped from beneath the beams and provided the only illumination discernable in the labyrinth.

    The Jekotain Commander had turned pale, Smyth noticed, but continued forward with his men, his hands gripped tightly, nervously, around a chirping scanner. A more familiar, pleasant sound distracted Smyth and he looked down to see his own scanner politely petitioning for his attention. Filing away his counterpart’s character flaws for future use, he examined the small, blue display.

    “Movement” a young Lieutenant at the Commander’s side whispered. At nearly the same moment, a Marine two or three rows up echoed and announced in a hushed but authoritative tone. Everyone in the tight Brenodi group dropped to one knee at the sight of the Marine’s arm, which had formed an erect “L” shape topped by a clenched fist; the accepted gesture to command both a halt to movement and need to get lower to the floor.

    Dozens of eyes darted from one shadowy emptiness to the next; desperately probing the dark for visual cues to their equipment’s alarm. They found nothing. Others used the low light vision settings on their scopes or eye pieces hoping to chase away the fear of the unknown but they too were disappointed, finding instead that their units refused to amplify the light they took in.

    The formless pink smudge changed positions on Smyth’s scanner again, dancing harmlessly within the sea of dark blue that contrasted the very real situation that it portrayed. Holding the scanner closer, he saw the smudge move once more before vanishing all together; leaving only a happy sea of blue shades. Oppressive quiet again consumed the long hall way that had begun to feel more like the throat of a metallic beast or a cattle chute ushering its users to oblivion.

    Several of the men on both sides of the passage began adjusting the shoulder straps on their weapons and fumbling with the small snaps holding their side arms in place. Only the black clad Jekotians stood unaffected, almost bored with their surroundings. Smyth recognized the men as a Recon & Engineering Operatives. Soulless damnations spawned in test tubes. At any other time they would been shot on site.

    “Lieutenant?”
     
  17. DonMegel

    DonMegel Member

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    Lieutenant Patrick Karsdatt shook his head, eyes examining his own scanning device. “They could be observing us, waiting to see our intensions.” Karsdatt was young for a Lieutenant, only 21, but had graduated at the top of his class. He was thin, with short, regulation length, brown hair and dark dancing brown eyes that lit up at the idea of anything new or unknown. Despite his high grades he had been relegated to one of the many science departments scattered across the Borodin, mostly due to his inexperience, which was one of the main reasons he had volunteered for this historic mission.

    A few more moments past before the lead Marine, temporarily satisfied that the contact had moved on, stood and continued his cautious forward motion. The enterprise was beginning to resemble a strike on an enemy installation rather than a friendly first contact. If Karsdatt was right then his mean were giving the wrong impression. Smyth knew that had not been the plan.

    “This is absurd” he blurted aloud causing many around him to jump. “We’re here to allow these people to befriend us not sneak around their ship like thieves!” He broke from his place in line and strode confidently to the front of the group. Brenodi officers always strode confidently. “Lights!” he ordered after reaching the line’s terminus and turning to address his men.

    Quickly the Marines removed the small lights mounted on the end of their weapons and took them in their hands. An outbreak of fuzzy white circles immediately infected the area as the men used the lights to reveal what could not be seen. Ten feet away the Jekotians didn’t move, looking instead at their own Commander who had adopted a look of horror.

    “Now” Smyth went on after giving his men a few moments to explore their newly lit surroundings. “Lets move, keep your eyes open but your weapons holstered.” Immediately the Commander turned, not waiting to consult with his counterpart, and began strolling down the middle of the hall. With blind obedience the midnight blue clad Marines followed, matching the brisk, almost reckless pace of their leader.
     
  18. Sprayer2708

    Sprayer2708 Member

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    Aww another cliffhanger. Megel, you're getting mean.
     
  19. DonMegel

    DonMegel Member

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    Sergeant Six-Three surveyed the situation will cool indifference. The Imperial Marines, aided by their quick pace and the reluctance of the Jekotians to follow, had opened a gap of nearly 100 meters. Commander Bruce had refused to match their speed, instead choosing to continue forward at the groups former, more conservative rate. The Commander was growing more concerned with the situation and Six-Three had acknowledged it was not ideal. Their host no doubt commanded a great array of offensive weaponry whose impact on the Ramman could not be anticipated. More pressing, the Ramman had no way of knowing the status of her away team to lend aide if it was needed. If the situation turned hostile the results for both the ship and crew could be dire.

    Six-Three had explained all of this in detail to Commander Bruce, urging him to abort the mission and return to the Ramman immediately. Their primary mission was to return the shield schematics to the Republic and a parlay with potentially hostile beings did not serve to advance that mission.

    Six-Three had been at the Commander’s side since they stepped off the shuttle. Major Lajita had ordered him to ensure the Commander returned safely to the Ramman, not as a punitive action for the killing of a friendly officer on the Brenodi station, but rather a much more practical reason. Each of the REO’s were devoted to their overall mission; return the plans for the energy shield to the home world. This would be impossible without the Ramman and the Ramman fared better with her first officer alive. Logic, pure and simple.

    Far ahead, the light show slowed to a halt and became focused on one area. “Sergeant?” the Commander asked without looking away from the spectacle.

    Sergeant Six-Three, as well as his fellow REOs who had accompanied the team, had instantly recognized that the insufficient lighting scheme found on the foreign vessel was not really light at all but rather a unique form of radiation. While not producing much in the visible wavelengths, the radioactive emissions were slightly more illuminating to the REOs whose optic nerves had been genetically engineered. The effect was not overwhelming, more like a soft glow that extended farther away from the source, but it did offer a clearer picture of their surroundings. No doubt the native inhabitants of the vessel were far better at reading this radiation. Six-Three had reported his findings to the Commander who had in turn decided to keep it from their Brenodi companions for security reasons.

    "It appears" the Sergeant replied, his eyes locked on the grouping of soldiers over 100 meters away. "they have located an intersection"
    Bruce nodded in understanding and slightly quickened his pace in order to be closer to the crewman in front of him. "Weapons," he whispered, leaning close to the man’s ear "hold your fire but get them at the ready"

    Six-Three calmly followed the order said so quietly to someone else, turning slightly to relay the message to the men behind him. A staggering array of weaponry is available to any REO but what is brought along is always tailored to the mission at hand. Not sure what to expect aboard the foreign vessel, Six-Three and his companions had chosen a mixed bag of equipment anticipating several scenarios. The Sergeant had opted for a compact submachine gun and a high caliber sidearm, the latter he slid from its holster and thumbed its cylinder around to ensure proper functionality. The weapon had been checked and checked again but a REO was nothing if not thorough.

    --Borodin Away Team--

    "Commander?"

    "I see him"

    The words tumbled forth on trembling tongues as both men, and all of their comrades, stared with intensity at the mountainous figure standing before them. Only a mountain, both grand and terrifying, could be used to describe the creature that dominated the corridor. It stood nearly four meters tall and almost two meters wide from shoulder to shoulder. It resembled a man due to its pair of arms and legs as well as its stubby head-like protrusion situated on top of its gargantuan shoulders but otherwise was completely alien. Perhaps it was not a head at all, for it lacked any opening for sight, sound or air although tiny blobs of saliva like fluid seemed to be trickling forth from its base. The skin, or outer covering, was an endless parade of rolling black hills engraved with the same cryptic lines as the vessel in which he, she, it, was standing. The bulging mounds glistened slightly in the quivering rays of the Marine's lights, moving ever so slightly as the creature breathed in and out from an opening not immediately apparent. At the end of the thick, massive arms, protruded a series of figure like growths but with long pointed ends resembling claws. These talons were dwarfed by a longer, more artificial looking blade mounted on the forearm that extended nearly a foot past the longest finger.

    So massive and so still was the new contact that it could easily be mistaken for a statue dedicated to the artist’s deity or as a warning to frighten away evil spirits. Yet a dozen scanners politely told the Brenodi that the beast towering before them was flesh, not stone, despite what appearances indicated.

    In the endless drone of oppressive silence that had been a constant companion since arriving on the intimidating vessel, one could almost make out a gruff exhale, like that of a wild pig clearing its snout. The sound was irregular, changing frequency and pitch with each iteration, betraying its organic origin. Commander Smyth swallowed hard.

    “I am Commander Smyth from the Imperial Star Ship Borodin” He forced out with uncharacteristic timidity.

    The beast did not respond.

    Smyth cleared his throat and continued again, this time with a more friendly, confident tone. “We have come as friends, to learn from you and grow stronger together.”

    Nothing.

    The Commander looked around nervously, his feelings reflecting the increasing anxiety of his men. Each of them had fostered their own image of first contact with a new race; some filled with heartfelt joy, handshakes and exchanges of food, others more dark vignettes of conflict, blue blood flowing down primitive hallways, a new species to dominate. No one pictured a starring contest with a colossal statue inside the dark corridor of a vast alien vessel.

    “Can you understand me?” Smyth followed up, “We mean no harm”

    “Perhaps they don’t communicate audibly” the lone science officer suggested, “could be visual or even pheromone based”

    Smyth frowned. “How do we say hello with smell?”

    The officer, Lt. Karsdatt, shrugged, “we can try visual first.” He raised the scanner to his face, bathing it in a pale blue, “I can broadcast a range of visual greetings and gauge his response. It may help us to narrow down their method of communication.”

    Without shifting his gaze from the subject of their discussion, Smyth stepped aside to allow Karsdatt to move past.

    “No one make any sudden movements” he said aloud as he approached the creature, scanner extended to display the promised visual cues. No one really needed to be told, not a single muscle had flinched since the being had come into view and no one wished to be the first to break the trend.

    With little warning, the ever-present darkness of the vessel’s interior evaporated under the assault of flashing lights flowing out of the scanner. Many averted their eyes looking to shield them selves from the pain of rapidly contracting pupils but Karsdatt continued to inspect his subject, looking for any sign of response to his program.

    At first the lights created as much attention as had Smyth’s greeting, that is to say none, but as the scanner moved from the visible to the infrared spectrum the creature jolted as if poked.

    Smyth raised his eyebrows in interest, “looks like you’ve got something.”

    Armed with this new data, Karsdatt lowered the scanner and quickly jabbed in some new instructions, rebroadcasting the message in various forms of unseen light. Again he hoisted the scanner aloft and closely examined the subject, his eyes sparkling with the endless possibilities of the unknown.

    Previously jolted from his trance by the scanner, the beast snorted loudly and emanated a guttural cough, shaking its body as if trying to rid itself of water soaked fur. Its cleansing complete it raised one of its tree like arms and gently put a hand atop Karsdatt’s head.

    “Lieutenant?” Smyth asked, suddenly concerned for the younger man.

    Karsdatt’s voice was alive with joy, “This could be a traditional greeting” He almost shouted with glee. Behind him the Marines slowly moved their weapons into position and flipped off the safety.

    With out effort the subject for the unseen light show lifted the Brenodi officer from the ground. Pain from being gripped by the head and hauled aloft forced away the expression of excitement and wonder on the young man’s face but his voice still urged restraint.

    “He is probably” he forced out between gasps of air and clenched teeth, “just trying to get a better look.”

    As predicted, the beast brought the man closer to its head and rotated him around, snorting several times to consume his scent. The bulge attributed with being its head tilted to one side slightly before emanated a loud grunt and again holding out the man at arms length.
     
  20. DonMegel

    DonMegel Member

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    Small fragments of bone covered in warm red brain matter burst from Karsdatt’s head as the creature simply squeezed, showering the onlookers with horror. Casually, the murderer brought forth its second arm to grasp the limp lieutenant at the hip and pull in opposite directions. Karsdatt’s lifeless body split in two amidst a sickening chorus of popping bones and splitting flesh, his internal organs spilling onto the floor like slop. Dropping the bottom portion of the man, the creature lifted the top half to its head and revealed a large jagged mouth hidden beneath the lower portion of its oblong head.

    Smyth, and his Marine detachment, stared in dumbstruck horror, paralyzed by the inconceivable sight of a mythical demon eating one of their shipmates. Nearly all of the torso had been consumed before the reality of the situation sank deep enough to rouse action.

    “Open fire!” Smyth bellowed.

    At once a symphony of gunfire thundered forth while its conductor retreated from his forward position. He was not showing cowardice but rather eliminating the extra steps he had taken during the failed attempt to communicate. The Marines had obtained their own otherworldly appearance, some kneeling, some standing, all with weapons shouldered and bright flashes illuminating their otherwise formless features for a millisecond at a time. Smyth imagined this is what hell would look like, inhabited by shapeless dark figures belching fire, the smell of blood, sweat and urine, a cacophony so great that nothing else could be heard over the din.

    He drew his own weapon and added to the withering fire but the creature just stood, heaving, arms slightly outstretched. It wasn’t the sort of movement that comes from being riddled with hundreds, now thousands of bullets, more like something more controlled, more rhythmic, almost like… Laughter?

    Smyth held up one hand, the other cradling the smoking firearm, signaling his men to cease-fire. As the last pop fell silent the air was filled with a gnawing, throaty, unholy, dark cackle. What remained of Lt. Karsdatt’s upper body had been slung against the wall and slid grotesquely to the floor. It, the black thing that had been eating him, continued to laugh, if the blood curdling sound it was making could be construed as joyous amusement, blood, fluids and bits of flesh stuck to its arms and running down its front.

    “What the hell?” Smyth said, voicing what the others were thinking. There was no blood, no wounds, nothing to indicate the beast had been harmed at all. Without orders the Marines began changing their magazines for another barrage but the Commander doubted that would be sufficient. “Fall back” he ordered with a hushed tone, “Incendiaries”

    Slowly the group began to back away from the still jovial monster, no one turning to face the other direction. Two of the group quickly removed small black cylinders from their gear, each emboldened with a large red circle. Pulling the pin they lobbed the grenades towards the feet of the beast and ran to rejoin their retreating companions.

    The cool, moist air instantly become hot, humid air when the small explosive charges detonated, incinerating young Karsdatt’s remains and inundating every inch of space with billowing plumes of orange and yellow flame. Eleven meters from the crackling fire, Smyth was forced to turn his head to shield his face from the intense heat. Finding his exposed neck and ear now in peril he raised his free hand to provide additional protection and hurried further away.

    In hindsight, it was the Commander’s desire to avoid the flames that saved his life. The fires of hell chose that moment to part, expelling the black demon that had drawn their wrath. Traveling by way of a leap that seemed impossible for the creatures size and bulk, it swiped its bladed arm across the Commander’s former position, separating a Marine from his head rather than finding Smyth.

    It had to be a demon, fathomless black tinged by bits of flame that had clung to its carapace. The colors blurred as it moved, now devoid of its lethargy, clawing, stabbing, tearing. Calling desperately for retreat, Smyth spotted a young Marine just standing, weapon limp at his side, staring at the surreal sight. Not surreal, surreal implies dreams which imply some measure of peace or at least not danger. No, this was a nightmare, a night terror, the subconscious mind torn loose from its logical restraints, the body held hostage by motions and visions that the rational mind knew could not be real but was powerless to interfere with.

    A torturous crunch ripped Smyth back into what was passing for reality when the demon pinned the bewildered soldier to the wall, completely crushing his chest cavity. He nearly vomited when the plethora of blood and tissue projected from the dieing man’s mouth and nostrils, driven upward by the incredible force of the blow, fueled by the liquification of the lungs, heart and stomach.

    However there was no time for vomiting in fear or disgust. There was only survival, only escape.
     

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