Free hit his knees vomiting. The carnage was immense. Four corpses were strewn about the hallway. Two of them degenerating skulks. The other two, the headless bodies of his former comrades.
::We don’t have time to stop::
“Can you quit throwing up this air of being a hard-###?
” Private Tetsua screamed to the ceiling. “No body here buys it! You know damn well what it’s like to be out here! You can’t expect us to move this quick! Look at them! Look at their bodies!
Freemantle heaved again.
::I don’t think you understand the gravity of our situation… we honestly have no time
“Well then,” Humbaba interjected, “fill us in. Just as a note, we are not
stupid, we know who… what you are.”
Pyle reached behind his head and lightly brushed the scar tissue that ran down his neck. A chill ran up his spine as a warm tingle raced through his veins.
::…okay… but we move while we talk…
The group agreed, walking down the hallway, scanning the corners for any sign of danger.
::You obviously know about my…injury… After two weeks in a coma I could still feel it with me…the Overmind…::
The squad rounded a corner, Humbaba’s wounds were now fully healed.
::I was tested… all of it inconclusive. It didn’t matter what their tests read
. I knew what I felt. I can feel it. I can comprehend. They all thought I was insane::
” Tetsua muttered over voice-com.
::Anyway… they could not remove me from the TSA. I was too high of a risk to keep at headquarters, and I would never qualify for an inter-system passport. They just put me on meaningless missions to keep me out of their hair::
The four men rounded another corner, the hallway leading to a main cargo lift.
::But this mission is different. It was unsaid… but… we’re not expected to come back…ever
“What do you mean
?” Hida sputtered, “the TSA would ne-“
::The TSA are more nameless and cold-hearted than the Overmind could ever be! The TSA are using us a pawns in a stupid tactical study. They are throwing us at something so overwhelming- spread out!
They slid up against the coolant tubes that lined the hallway. They were so distracted with their conversation that they didn’t hear the lift at the end of the hallway coming up.
Each trained their weapon on the lift, seconds dragged on like hours as they waited to see what would be waiting for them.
::Get ready…Get ready…
They elevator reached it’s apex, but it carried no passenger. The fireteam squinted down the hall. “There’s nothing
there!” Freemantle exclaimed.
::You idiots! Shoot! Shoot!
Before any marine could realize space seemed to fold in front of them. A level four de-cloaked in front of them and began to sprint toward the marines.
For a few minutes… that hallway was Armageddon. Hot lead poured down the hallway, driving deep into the flesh of the level four. The Fade swung it’s scythe arms through the air, deflecting some bullets. In one bounding leap, it closed the distance between itself and Freemantle.
There was a bloody slosh against the wall as Tetsua’s LMG round blew through the Fade’s cranium. It fell to the side, twitching momentarily.
::Are we okay?::
The marines stood with their hands on their knees. They panted, forcing their hearts to regulate.
“So if we have no chance, why are we fighting?” Humbaba panted.
::I know how they think. I can make this work:: The cold blue glow of Nanotech came again, and from the ceiling dropped two grenade launchers.
“Nade throwers? Are you serious? Grenadiers are sitting targets!” Tetsua complained.
::We will use fear as a defense::
“They are mindless, they don’t scare!” Humbaba replied “And what is so bad that we are up against?”
::They do scare.. They are machines at heart. They see only genetics. The rest is inanimate and dark. The darkness is the only thing that scares them::
Each marine was surrounded by the blue-white glow of power armor. Nanos swirled around their skin, projecting a deflecting skill. The hum was soothing.
::Ride the lift down, and pray to every god you have ever heard from. Whatever you do, don’t be distracted by any aliens. Go only for the sisters::
“The what?” Freemantle exclaimed
Tetsua jammed the lift button and they descended into the depths.
::Sister Hives, a rare occurrence. Three hives erected in close proximity, almost impenetrable. Psycic patterns off the charts. We have never conquered Sister Hives with less than nuclear force::
“So what gives? Make with the TacNukes!” Freemantle shouted.
::The TSA is not without a sense of humor. It appears they want us to do this by the book. Unfortunately, they are writing the book according to how we do this::
The walls around the elevator peeled away, and the “Sisters” came into view. Each pulsating in time, gestating eggs lay everywhere, and gorge’s were tending the erection of chambers.
“No sense in waiting,” Freemantle exclaimed. Pulling back the hammer, Free let loose a round. It exploded against the side of the centermost hive.
It rocked the hive and blew a man-sized hole in the side. There was a sickening snap as the hive broke free of the ceiling and fell in a sloppy heap, blood and mucus spreading everywhere.
To Pyle, the entire world screamed.
Instantly, the room was flooded with activity. Numerous aliens in their own home surrounded four marines, one fumbling with his firearm in the process of reloading it.
A Lerk swooped down from the ceiling, screaming a song of death.
No sign of fear in it’s eyes…