I can't believe you guys are so accurate. Two weeks and you have to have your dosage of "From the Shadows". Anyway, Thanks to SYPHON as usual. Please comment on the story so I can improve. Currently, writing is a bit hard because of time constraints and a slight writer's block. trying to keep up with demand. First Time“There is a first time for everything.”
– Private Bose
Terrence sat on the rooftop, binoculars in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other. It was raining heavily and it was bitterly cold. Terrence had an old and frayed raincoat wrapped tightly around him. It did little to keep him dry and did less to keep him warm. Water dripped form his hair onto his already soaked lap. After living in poverty for about a month, nothing seemed too tough anymore.
Just by looking at him, anybody would have thought him to be a beggar. He was dirty as hell and stunk like a rotting corpse. His hair was untidy and long; covering half of his face. His nails, chipped and broken in some places, were covered in dirt and grime. Terrence’s clothing’s were not much better off. What used to be a coat, shirt and trousers were now dirty rags. He had thrown his tie away when the world came crashing down. Two worn, old shoes lay next to his feet, to give his toes some fresh air. The few dollars he had with him was stuffed down his pocket, already soaked from the rain. Terrence’s financial condition would have caused many to wonder how he had gotten hold of the expensive binoculars and beer. The only possible explanation was that he had stolen them, from a store run by an old man as a matter of fact. It was quite a change Terrence had gone through. None of his colleagues from the TSA would recognise him.
In fact, they would not even dare associate themselves with Terrence. The man was blacklisted. All he had wanted to do was to get some extra cash for his family. His wife and two girls could have been better off but it backfired. Terrence was quite low on the corporate ladder, a cubicle warrior trying to make ends meet. He had known nothing of the Kharaa until the cursed document had landed on his desk. It had been a mistake. The document was meant for the top brass, not some low guy like him. Terrence took another gulp at the beer as he remembered what happened that day. He had looked at the document; curious to know what his superiors were talking about and it had changed his life. Terrence went home that day and called the press. He had leaked the information for a hefty sum, just wanting to get a better life for his family. When he heard that some very angry people were looking for him, he nearly soiled his pants. Terrence lived a week in complete terror, almost panicking every time his boss approached him.
When they finally found him, it was almost a relief. Terrence got an earful from his boss and was fired, but that was not the worst part. Scandals were suddenly thrown at him, some claiming adultery and some claiming a bad gambling habit. His wife couldn’t take it so she took the kids and ran off. Terrence, through his semi-drunken haze, remembered that she had filed for divorce two weeks later. Then, lawsuits were filed and Terrence suddenly found himself bankrupt. He could not find a job and all his friends had left him. Terrence was like the plague. Something bad would happen to anybody who had tried to help him. The TSA was out to make his life a living hell and it had succeeded. But nobody suspected that Terrence would fight back.
So there he was. Sitting on a rooftop with a pair of binoculars watching a restaurant. Dan, the man who had screwed his life, was in the restaurant doing business with some Italian businessmen. Terrence had just started watching Dan for a week and had some plan in his drunken head. He would watch where Dan went often; take note of it, and then strike. He did not know how he would strike but he knew that it would be something big, something Dan would always remember. Terrence smiled at that thought and finished his beer. However, Terrence would not go anywhere near the TSA headquarters as it was too risky. That place was tighter than Fort Knox. He would just have to watch Dan when he went out of the office.
An hour later, Dan got out of the restaurant with his bodyguard. Terrence ducked so that the bodyguard wouldn’t see him. He only dared to peek again when he heard the car start to move. By then, the rain had tapered off to a drizzle. Terrence got up and walked back to his “home”. His “home” was a few miles away. Terrence couldn’t take the bus so he staggered back drunkenly. It was an old-fashioned brick building where a textile factory used to be. Now it was just a dusty old building with rats as it tenants. Terrence had “furnished” it slightly. He had brought a rickety old chair, a battered table and a small fan. The fan was unreliable, sometimes working, sometimes not. However, ventilation was good so the fan was hardly necessary, except on very hot days. Candles provided some light but the place was still quite dark.
Bottles of cheap beer and snubbed out cigarettes littered the floor. Since he had nothing to live for except revenge, Terrence took up drinking and smoking. He knew that if he continued to live this way, his liver would probably fail in two years, most probably less. Not that he cared anyway. Terrence went to a wall and looked at the map he had pinned on it. The map, one of the few things he had bought, was of the entire city and had numerous pencil markings on it. Terrence took out a pencil and scribbled a few more notes on it. Then, he lit himself a smoke and opened a bottle of beer. Before he knew it, three empty bottles lay on the floor around him and his eyelids were half closed. The alcohol had dulled his senses considerably and he did not notice the cop coming in.
“Hey! You! Get over here!” the cop shouted.
Terrence turned slowly and looked at the cop. By looking at the crisp uniform and eager face, anyone could tell that the cop was a rookie. Terrence finished his bottle of beer and opened another one, ignoring the cop. The cop was appalled by Terrence’s behaviour and couldn’t believe that anyone would dare challenge the authority of the law. He walked briskly to Terrence but when he smelled the stench Terrence was emitting, he stopped in his tracks. The cop had never smelled anything as bad as that before.
“You! Stand up! I have heard some complains about you! Did you know you are currently on private property? That means you are trespassing. And you are smoking and that is against the law. In case you didn’t know, smoking is banned!” the rookie cop said, trying to put some authority into his voice.
Terrence gave the cop the finger as he took another drag at his cigarette. The cop couldn’t take such insolence and defiance anymore. He made a grab for Terrence. The cop dragged him out of the chair and made him stand up. Terrence swayed drunkenly, smiling as he did so. The cop patted Terrence down, checking for weapons. Suddenly, Terrence got angry at the cop. Who was he to touch him?
“Get your bloody hands off me!” Terrence suddenly roared in anger. “Do you know who I am? I have a leak!”
The cop rolled his eyes and said, “Then you need a bloody plumber. And stop drinking. All that alcohol will kill you one day.”
Terrence tried to push the cop away. The rookie cop was a bit too eager to make his first arrest. He shoved Terrence against the wall and yanked Terrence’s arm behind his back. Terrence gave a yelp of pain and then, elbowed the cop. The cop pulled his baton out and twirled it menacingly in his hands. Terrence couldn’t be bothered with the cop so he threw an empty beer bottle at him, just to drive him off. Terrence didn’t expect the bottle to hit the cop but it did. A dull thud could be heard as the bottle collided with the cop’s head. The cop swayed for a few seconds and then, fell down unconscious.
Terrence continued drinking, deciding that he would move before the cop wakes up. He downed bottle after bottle and finally, fell asleep. When he woke up, it was already night. His head felt as if there was construction work going on in there. He tried to stand up but tripped and fell. The cop was still lying there, unmoving. Terrence staggered to the cop and prodded him in the chest. The cop rolled over, revealing a bloody wound at the side of his head. Oh my god! ****!
Terrence thought. I’ve killed him!
Terrence didn’t do anything for the next hour. He just sat down, his mind reeling from the shock. When his mind started functioning again and he was slightly more sober, he smoked a few cigarettes to calm himself down. Terrence didn’t notice that his hands were trembling slightly. Next, he searched the body for anything he could use. He found a wallet with a hundred dollars inside and a gun. Terrence looked out into the street to see if there was anybody but it was empty, except for the occasional car.
He thought about how he was going to dispose of the body. The first logical thought that came to him was to dump the body into the sea. So, he went out to find a black plastic bag and a trolley. Terrence found both items within the hour. He stuffed the body into the bag and put it onto the trolley. Terrence was now very nervous and jumpy, his eyes darting left and right. The sea was a few miles away and he pushed the body in the trolley all the way there. Nobody looked at him twice. Just as he was about to dump the body, an idea suddenly struck him. Terrence checked to see if the coast was clear first and then pulled the body out of the bag. He stripped the uniform off the dead body and kept it in the plastic bag. Then, he threw the body into the sea. Relief washed over him as he watched the body drift away. Now, he was safe.
Terrence trudged back to his hideout, his head pounding, with the black plastic bag slung over his shoulder. Once he got back, he looked at the gun. Terrence had never held a gun in his life and admired the feel of it. It was sleek and cool but was not like any of the guns he had seen in the movies. It was a symbol of power. He checked to see if it was loaded and was pleased to see that it had ten rounds. Now, Terrence knew how he would take his revenge.
His hideout wasn’t safe anymore. He had to move to another place quickly. Terrence knew of an old abandoned train yard not too far away. He took with him the map, the beer and the cigarettes.
“That ****!” Trent exclaimed. “He really did that?”
“Yes. The idiot refused to raise his hand,” Cissy said. “Alan is an ****. If he isn’t a team player, why does he want to join us?”
“Beats me,” Sam said.
Trent was out of the infirmary already. It felt good to be walking around again and talking to friends. They were currently heading to the resource centre. Trent wanted to talk to his family badly and reassure them that he was all right. Sam and Cissy were telling him about how Alan had reacted when Sergeant Lane asked who was willing to go back and look for Trent. Trent didn’t like Alan much but he was sure that if Alan were injured, he would go back for him. Trent was totally disgusted by such behaviour.
When they got to the resource centre, Trent took a computer some distance away from Sam and Cissy. They were giving each other mushy looks again and Trent wanted to leave them alone for some time.
Trent called his home and didn’t have long to wait for someone to answer. It was his mother who picked the call up. Trent was quite delighted to be able to see his mother again, even if it was just over the vid-phone.
“Hi mum,” Trent said simply.
“Trent! Are you okay? Sam called and told me all about that nasty incident. Your father and I were so worried and anxious!” his mother said. “So are you still injured? Did you break any bones?”
“I’m fine. The doctors patched me up. We got two very fine doctors here. You don’t need to worry about me. I’m in good hands. The doctors can mend everything. They are really fantastic.”
“It’s my job to worry! How can I not worry? When Sam called and told us what had happened to you, I thought you were going to die. I felt so helpless. I had to take a drink to calm down. Your father told your brother and he was equally shocked. We wanted to talk to you but Sam said you were undergoing surgery. I really thought you were going to die. You should’ve seen your father. He went round cursing the Kharaa for an hour!”
“Nice to know I have such great parents.”
“Sam told me you had numerous injuries,” Elizabeth said. She was visibly calmer now, after seeing her son was pretty much okay. “Oh, I had better call your father. He is quite anxious to speak with you. Kent! Kent! Trent is on the vid-phone!”
Trent heard his father shout something back. Then, he heard some thumping sounds, presumably his father running over. His father’s face joined his mother’s in the screen. His father was looking at Trent as if he didn’t believe he was alive.
“Are you fine? Any permanent injuries?” Kent asked anxiously.
“Yes, he is okay. He just told me,” Elizabeth reassured her husband.
“I am fine. Everything working fine. I should be ready to go back into combat by tomorrow. Latest,” Trent said.
“Trent, I demand that you quit the TSA now,” Kent said, his voice suddenly turning serious. “I don’t want to lose a son.”
Trent was a little shocked by his father’s demand. He had always thought that his father didn’t really mind. Trent wanted to get out of the Frontiersmen but only after the war was over. He had his commitment to his squad. “But dad, I can’t quit on my squad now. They need me. We are really short of men for the next mission. I can’t quit. I have my duty to perform.”
“You have a duty as my son and that is to return home safely. I want to speak with your commanding officer.”
“No dad. This is my choice and you cannot decide for me. I understand your worry for me. But it is part of the job. Every job has risks and mine is just slightly more risky.”
“Son, do you know how hard it is for me?” his father asked, a desperate tone now in his voice. “Everyday. Everyday I wake up and worry about your safety and your life.”
“He’s no longer a small kid dear,” Elizabeth said. “Let him make his own decisions by himself.”
“I can make my own decisions. I know the consequences of my actions. I really need your support in this,” Trent said, looking at his parents seriously.
Kent sighed. He knew he was not going to convince his son to change his mind. “Fine then.”
“So what’s happening at home?” Trent asked, anxious to change the topic. His mother told what had happened since he left. Kent had taken up fishing, driving to a lake every few days. Elizabeth was busy with community service. She went round collecting donations for different charitable organisations. She claimed that it gave her a sense of fulfilment. However, things were not going too well for Walter. His business was slipping and his relationship with his girlfriend was shaky. Trent had wanted to call Walter but realised that he was probably working.
After chatting for a while more, Trent ended the conversation with a few well wishes. Sam and Cissy were still around, standing close and whispering to each other. Trent didn’t want to disturb them so he went to the canteen. There were quite a few people in the canteen. Pamela, John, Jake and Stephanie were sitting at one table while Kumar, Jude, Pete and Roland were sitting at another table. Kumar waved at Trent to join them and he obliged. Kumar had visited Trent a couple of times when he was in the infirmary. Kumar had helped Trent get over hours of boredom and he was grateful for that.
“Yo!” Trent said.
“You okay now? Timothy discharged you?” Kumar asked.
“Yes he did,” Trent said. “And if he didn’t, I would have demanded that he do so. It’s so damned boring in the infirmary.”
“We are discussing Willy’s birthday. It’s in a few days. You know how grumpy he is so throwing him a birthday party might cheer him up or something,” Pete said.
“Don’t you think Willy is a bit too old for all this? And I don’t think it is such a good idea. Willy looks like he thrashes birthday parties for fun,” Trent said.
“Come on Trent! It’s going to be fun. And nobody is ever too old for a birthday party,” Kumar said enthusiastically. “The only problem is what we are going to do. There isn’t much we can do on the Forger
. There is no booze or anything.”
Trent nodded in agreement. “You’re right on that one. I can’t think of a damn thing that Willy could do on this ship.”
“Hey! I think I got it! Why don’t we let him come down and fiddle with the engines and stuff? Willy loves the engine room and has always been wanting to go press some buttons,” Roland suggested.
The group thought about it. It seemed like a good idea to them. Everyone knew what Willy enjoyed most was the engine room. Nobody could figure out why Willy liked the engine room so much and nobody dared or bothered to ask. They discussed the suggestion and all agreed to it. Kumar, Curtis and Stephanie would be responsible for the planning and informing everyone of the plan. Roland and Curtis would be responsible for whatever happens in the engine room, so that Willy wouldn’t press a wrong button. Trent got some food to eat as he listened to the others. After he had finished his food, Jude informed him that there would be a briefing in three hours. With that much time to burn, Trent decided to go to the resource centre and play some card games. He was sure Sam and Cissy were still there and he could play a few rounds with them.
Trent walked to resource centre thinking about which game to play. He settled on blackjack. If Sam and Cissy weren’t going to play, he was going to play solitaire. Sam was showing Cissy how to play “Naturally Selected” but she did not seem to be very interested in it. Trent suddenly thought of Zack and wished that he was still alive. Trent shook that thought out of his head and asked Sam and Cissy if they would like to play a card game. Cissy, bored by the computer game, didn’t hesitate to agree. Sam was slightly disappointed but did not show it. They bet a little bit of cash and Sam won a small sum. They played for three hours before proceeding to the briefing room.
Everyone arrived on time. Sergeant Lane was early, as usual. When it was time, Sergeant Lane turned the holographic projector on. The image of a planet appeared and everyone immediately recognised it as planet R-329. Sergeant Lane pressed a button and the image changed colour. Huge red patches covered the planet while little green dots were scattered all over the surface. The marines didn’t need any explanation to tell them what the red and green represented.
“Listen up people! New mission. You all probably know this is R-329. I won’t insult your intelligence by explaining what the image shows,” Sergeant Lane said. He pushed another button and the image zoomed in on a mining facility. “This is where we will be deployed. This mission shouldn’t be too hard. The Kharaa have just infested the place so they won’t have a lot of control over it. That means we will start on an equal footing. Now, about who will be going in. Everybody will be going in except Trent and Pamela. They will be the reserves. Cissy, Leonardo, Alan, Jude and Lewis will be team one. The rest of you will be team two. Suspected hive locations are upper deck three, drill sector A-2 and furnace. We will be deployed at upper deck one.
This mining facility has two basic levels. We will start on the second level. My strategy is to get as many RTs as possible. Team one will stay behind and build while team two will move to rock analysis. You will secure the RT there and move on to repair bay. By then, team one should have set up the base. We will not have any guards, as the Kharaa probably won’t do a major assault so early. We will just rely on mines. Team one will go down one level to conveyor belt. Conveyor belt is quite close to drill sector. If the hive is there, we will siege it. If not, we will do a lockdown. I will look at the situation from there and give the appropriate orders. We are phasing in about six hours. Report back here an hour in advance. Clear?”
The marines nodded as usual. This would be one of the easier missions. It was going to be a piece of cake. The marines went back to their cabins to rest, conserving their energy. They were experienced enough already to know that it would be pointless to blow their energy on some useless activity. There was a certain element of fear and anxiety before every mission. The feelings of uncertainty were always there, no marine could deny it. But after going through so many battles, they had learnt to control those emotions and shove them to the back of their minds.
One and a half hours before phasing in, the marines suited up. The level one armour were all used up so the marines had to settle for the level zero armour. The marines made some light chitchat to dispel the tension. Trent stayed as far away from Alan as possible, not wanting another confrontation. There was no point in wasting his energy on another argument. As the marines walked to the briefing room, Timothy approached Trent and slipped something into his hand. Trent smiled when he saw that it was a laser cutter. Sergeant Lane went through the briefing one more time; making sure everybody had everything right. He didn’t need to worry.
When it was time, the marines phased in. There was no excitement or any other emotion. They were professionals and letting their emotions get the better of them meant risking danger for themselves and the squad. The only person who seemed annoyed was Alan. He made it known subtlety that he had wanted to be a reserve. Of course, nobody gave a damn about what he wanted.
Trent and Pamela watched from onboard the Forger
. The mission started well. Team one established the base quickly and planted the two sets of mines Sergeant Lane dropped. The marines had an armoury, infantry portal, arms lab and observatory. Team two had no trouble going to rock analysis. They had just built an RT when two skulks attacked. Trent could see the skulks deftly jumping from side to side and dodging bullets. One of the skulks hit a marine and ran off. The other skulk didn’t make it and died. Luckily, the marine only got hit once and survived the attack. After getting healed from med packs, team two proceeded to repair bay.
Sergeant Lane helped scan repair bay and the scan revealed two OCs inside. There were no Kharaa units there so it wasn’t going to be difficult taking down the OCs. Repair bay was also long and wide, giving the marines the advantage. The OCs were easily taken down and the marines rushed into repair bay. One lone Kharaa RT stood there helplessly. Two marines started knifing the RT while the rest guarded the area. What happened next happened in a matter of seconds. A skulk blitzed in from one of the two entrances and attacked a marine. It went out as fast as it came in. A light came on, indicating a replacement was needed. Pamela went to a phase gate and phased in. Trent tried not to think about who had been hit. He didn’t want to torment himself with worry. That could wait until after the mission.
Pamela stayed in base for the time being. It would be too dangerous to ask her to join up with team one by herself. The marine that had been hit had died. Trent could tell because the marines didn’t take the body back to the marine start. Instead, they built the RT and waited for orders. Team one was at conveyor belt and was waiting for a RT. Sergeant Lane was a bit short on resources, as he had just started researching armour level one. Sergeant Lane had already scanned the hive locations and confirmed that the hive was at upper deck three.
Suddenly, a gorge stumbled in onto team one. The gorge tried to spit its way out but was killed in seconds. The gorge had done quite some damage. Not physically but strategically. The Kharaa would know they were near drill sector A-2. Once the resources hit fifteen, Sergeant Lane dropped a RT and asked to team one to build the RT and hurry up to drill sector. Whoever got to drill sector first would get the upper hand. Team one built the RT hurriedly and raced to drill sector. A skulk was already waiting for them. Trent watched the screen as the skulk parasited one squad member and ran off.
At least they now had drill sector. Drill sector was triangular and the drilling took place there. Sergeant Lane didn’t waste any time and dropped a turret factory and after that, five turrets. In the meantime, Sergeant lane also had to take care of team two. A lerk had emerged and was constantly sporing team two from the vent. A lot of resources were spent on keeping the marines alive. After establishing control over drill sector, Sergeant Lane ordered team two to move to drill maintenance. Team two walked along a passageway with many turns. Every turn hid a potential ambush for the marines and it never paid to be complacent. The marines checked each corner carefully, thus making progress slow. The lerk didn’t help either. It flew in, spored and then flew out.
A constant flow of ammo and med packs had to be supplied to team two. Trent wished there was something that he could do to help. He felt so helpless just sitting there, watching blips and dots on a screen. He felt that he had an obligation to be with his team, go through the pain they are going through, share their burden.
Then, another marine died. The lerk came in, made huge circles around the marines’ heads, tauntingly. It glided through the group of marines and took a life. Only four remained. Trent didn’t need to look at the light to know he was needed. He stepped into the phase gate, letting the bright white light wash all over him as he was teleported to R-329.
Marcus was wearing a black trench coat and a wide brimmed black hat. It was cold outside and he rubbed his gloved hands together to stay warm. It was late at night and the streets were empty and uncannily quiet. Not a single soul could be seen on the street and the only sound Marcus could hear was his own breathing. He checked his watch anxiously. It was almost time but he could not see the others. Marcus was starting to get worried. He started questioning himself, wondering if he had taken the right precautions. Dan might have been tipped. The others might be dead already.
Out of the corner of his eye, Marcus saw a man, also in a trench coat, hurry towards him. Marcus automatically straightened up and became more alert. He watched the man closely, trying to figure out who it was. Marcus found himself reaching for his gun. The Admiral had stressed the importance of some sort of weapon, in case things went wrong. Marcus tightened his grip on the pistol as the man drew closer. Just as Marcus was about to pull his gun out, the man looked up.
The street lamp illuminated the man’s face. It was Philip. Marcus breathed a sigh of relief and let go of his gun. He shook hands with his new partner. They exchanged greetings and waited for the last person, the Admiral. Marcus looked at his watch again. It was time but there was still no sign of the Admiral.
“Where do you think she is?” Marcus grumbled. “And what a place to choose for a meeting. It’s a fifteen minute walk from the nearest train station and bloody cold. Sure, it looks safe but I just hate walking.”
“Don’t complain so much Marcus. A bit of exercise is good for you,” Philip said. “I’ve hardly got time to exercise myself.”
It was true and Marcus could tell by just looking at Philip’s face. It was tired and haggard, the result of too many long hours. It was longer now that he was working with them against Dan. Philip had gotten most of the work, mainly because Dan would never suspect him. And so far, the plan was working perfectly. With each passing day, more was being unearthed about Dan and with each passing day, it became more dangerous. So far, they hadn’t been caught but one day they will. That was one of the issues Marcus wanted to bring up with the Admiral, if she arrived for the meeting. The two waited in the cold winter night, warming their hands as best as they could. Finally, they saw her. She was five minutes late and looked flustered.
“What took you so long?” Marcus asked irritably. “Do you know it’s cold out here?”
“Later,” the Admiral said briskly. “Follow me.”
They were in a respectable neighbourhood, where the everyday Joe lived. Huge apartment blocks surrounded them and empty newspaper kiosks lined the streets. Street lamps threw pools of light onto the floor, leaving the rest in darkness. Graffiti was rare, mainly because nobody thought it was cool anymore and the police were too damned alert. Small cars, nothing too fancy were parked along the street, making a statement about their owners’ income. The people were asleep, not knowing that a conspiracy was taking place in their neighbourhood. The Admiral led them to an empty parking lot.
“Now we can start,” the Admiral said simply.
Philip looked around. “This place is kind of open, you know what I mean? Isn’t it kind of easy for people to spot us?”
“No. We are in the shadows. They can’t see us.”
“Philip, what have you got for us,” Marcus asked. Philip took out two thumb drives and gave one each to Marcus and the Admiral.
“Is this clean? No traces?” the Admiral asked.
Philip nodded his head. “These are totally untraceable. Perfectly clean. I know someone who did it for me and he’s a real pro at this stuff. Need anything that needs erasing, come to me and I will give it to him.”
The Admiral was still not satisfied. “Can you trust him? How long have you known him?”
“Hey Admiral. Relax. Philip knows what he’s doing. Don’t need to question him. I have total confidence in him,” Marcus said. “Now Philip, do you think we can take Dan to court with this information?”
Philip shook his head sadly. “No. Some serious **** is on that drive but it is not enough. We need more. There are still tonnes of information about Dan that I have to dig up but I need more time. And it’s getting riskier. I’m not sure but I suspect Dan smells a rat. With the stuff we have now, we can only give him a few years time, max. And his lawyers are going to work like hell to shorten the sentence. We all know Dan hires the best lawyers in town. We need something big, something that will shut him away for life. Then, he won’t be able to get back at us.”
Marcus cursed. That meant they had to do a few months of digging. All the hard stuff would be locked away in a safe or something. Stuff that Philip would have a very difficult time getting. They needed to bring someone else into their little operation. Someone who could hack.
“All the stuff we need is hidden somewhere. Somewhere very safe. Philip can find out where that information is hidden, that I’m confident. But I don’t think he can get it. So we need to bring another person in,” Marcus explained.
“No. It’s definitely a no. There are too many risks,” the Admiral argued.
“I’m sure I can find that information. I just need more time,” Philip said.
“Listen to me first!” Marcus said exasperated. “There will be no compromise in security. I know somebody we can trust. I mean, really trust. I have known the guy for twenty years and he owes me a bunch of favours. I ask him to do stuff like this all the time so he won’t be suspicious. Philip, I know your limitations and it really is too risky. Plus, we don’t have time. I suspect that Dan is catching on real fast and we have to move faster.”
“There is no-,” the Admiral began.
“Trust me,” Marcus cut in. “I know what I am doing.”
The Admiral thought about it for a while. She did not seem convinced and neither did Philip. Then, she looked at Marcus and saw that he was going to stand by his decision no matter what she said. The Admiral saw that Marcus really knew what he was doing and finally agreed.
“One more issue. I think we should stop meeting so often. There is the issue of safety. We are being careful now but Dan is becoming more alert,” Marcus suggested.
“My sentiments exactly,” the Admiral agreed. “From now on, we will meet less. Just wait for my calls or messages.”
With that, the meeting was finished. The three went in separate directions, moving as fast as they could. Marcus walked to the train station he had come from and took the train for five stops. Next, he flagged down a cab and went back home. He was surprised to see Kathy waiting at the door for him. She seemed angry about something. Marcus tried to remember if they had any appointment that night but his mind was blank.
“Where have you been? Do you know what time it is?” Kathy said angrily, her voice rising steadily.
Marcus ushered her into the house. They could talk inside. Marcus knew all too well what time it was. He guessed that if he were a wife, he would be worried too. Then, suddenly he remembered that he had promised Kathy he was coming home for dinner. Marcus went to the dining table and sure enough, the food was laid out and ready. Marcus slapped his forehead with his palm in frustration and turned to apologise. However, Kathy had already gone to their bedroom. Marcus tried opening it but it was locked.
“Kathy, I’m sorry! I really am! I got too caught up with work and forgot the time!” Marcus shouted.
His choice of words was unfortunate. “So your work is more important than me? Is that it? I took the trouble to prepare dinner for us and was really excited about tonight. But you blew it.”
“Honey, I’m sorry. You are more important than anything in the world. Please. Let me come in. I’ll do anything you want.”
His pleas were met with silence. Marcus knew Kathy well enough. She would fume through the night, refusing to talk to him. Then in a day or two, things would be back to normal, if he played his cards right. For that night, he would just have to sleep on the couch. Actually, it was quite comfortable and he hoped Kathy never found out.
His vid-phone rang. Philip had found out where the information was hidden. Marcus thought that was quite fast. Next, he went to a drawer and took out a palm top. He scrolled through the phone book, looking for a number. When he found it, he dialled the number and waited. He had to wait some time before a black man picked up.
“Hey Frankie! What’s up!” Marcus said, trying to sound enthusiastic.
“Yo. You trying to sound like those punks on the street? Ain’t working out for you man,” Frankie replied with a smile. “What do you need? You don’t call Frankie up just to say hi right?”
“Well, I am in need of your skills.”
“Knew it! Marcus wants some poor sod’s bank account. No problem man. Easy as pie. Just need to pay a small fee.”
“No no no. I don’t need a bank account. I got money already.”
“Anybody looking at you wouldn’t think so. You dress like crap man! My old man got better fashion sense than you,” Frankie kidded.
“Serious now. I need you to hack into a very tight place. And I mean very tight. I need you to hack into this account. It’s FT64SD97VT20. Don’t ask why. Just do it.”
“Hold on while I check it out,” Frankie said. He went out of the screen for a while and Marcus heard some typing sounds. Then, he heard a sharp intake of breath. Frankie came back to the vid-phone. “Whoa man. That is some tight **** you are talking about. Isn’t going to be easy man. It’s going to cost you.”
“I don’t care about the money,” Marcus replied. “If you can get me into that account, you can have as much as you want.”
“Sure man. But it’s going to take some time. About a week, given my skills.”
“Fine then. Goodbye,” Marcus said and hung up.
Frankie looked at the blank screen, a little peeved at the abrupt ending to their conversation. Marcus used to be friendlier and they would have some small talk. Just as well that he wasn’t going to be friends with Marcus much longer. Frankie made a call and then drove his brand new Jaguar to a café. The Jaguar was a new addition to his inventory, thanks to a very generous employer. When he got to the café, Frankie looked around. There he is!
Frankie thought and went over.
“What do you want me to do?” Frankie asked.
“Give him this,” Dan said with an evil smile as he handed a thumb drive over. “And report any more meetings.”
Trent stepped off the infantry portal and raised his gun. Upper deck one was brightly lit and had a glass ceiling, revealing the endless space above them. There was only one entrance and it was a flight of stairs that led downwards. Upper deck one was very favourable to the marines. It was a rectangular room and had a low ceiling. Its purpose was mainly for the crew to look out onto the planet’s landscape. A huge glass panel on the wall revealed the barren desert outside. Upper deck was completely bare except for the marines’ buildings. The arms lab and observatory were vibrating slightly, indicating that some upgrade was being researched. Mines were planted around the base in strategic; locations most partially hidden by the buildings. Pamela was crouching behind the armoury, weapon loaded and ready.
“Trent and Pamela, I want you to join up with team two. Hurry!” Sergeant Lane ordered.
Trent took his ammo before moving out. He and Pamela went down the flight of stairs hurriedly. Trent took the lead and was very alert. They came to a T-junction and turned left. The walls were standard grey and had numerous dirt marks on them. The ceiling was a pale yellow and was totally covered in thousands of tiny lights. A lot of dirt and mud covered the floor, mostly from the dirty boots of the facility’s ex-crew. After a few turns, they came to a large room. It was square in shape and had two doors on either side. A half-eaten body lay in the middle of the room, as if a warning by the Kharaa. Trent spotted a vent in the middle of the ceiling and cautiously stepped towards it.
He heard it just in time. All it took was just one step and Trent knew. Trent didn’t even bother to look first. He just raised his LMG and fired twenty rounds into the vent. Sparks and blood flew, obscuring his view slightly. Trent looked and saw that the skulk had gotten away. The bloodstains on the vent showed how badly injured it was. A drop of blood slid down the vent and fell onto Trent’s helmet. He groaned in disgust as he wiped it away.
Pamela covered him as he reloaded. They took the door to the left and cautiously stepped in. They were in rock analysis. It was a large white room with a four-meter high ceiling. The walls were lined with labelled drawers. Six tables were placed throughout the room and rock samples lay on them. Above each table, was a huge machine that appeared to be some sort of analysis equipment. Trent focused on the mission and resisted the urge to check out all that fancy equipment. Their RT was in one corner of the room, untouched and unspoilt. Trent and Pamela continued and moved out of rock analysis.
Once out of rock analysis, it became darker and there was a clanking noise in the background. After turning a few corners, they came to repair bay. Repair benches were attached to the walls and many drilling parts lay on the benches. There were two vents that led to repair bay, one on each side of the room. Pamela watched the vents as Trent covered the ground. He bent down to one knee, to peer under the benches. There was a body wearing the Frontiersmen uniform. It was the marine that had died. It was Ronald.
“Oh my god,” Pamela said quietly. “Those ****.”
Trent nodded. The side of Ronald’s head was totally gone, exposing his grey brain matter. Trent sighed at losing another squad mate but that was war. War against an enemy that had infinite numbers. Trent bent down to take Ronald’s spare ammo. All he needed was one-
“Get down!” Trent yelled as he fired his LMG.
A skulk had come into repair bay without them hearing it. It was moving rapidly on the wall towards Trent and Pamela. Twenty bullets flew right at the skulk, giving it a swift death. The skulk fell onto one of the workbenches, knocking a metallic object onto the floor. There was a loud clanging noise that reverberated through repair bay. Trent cringed at that noise, aware that their presence was made known.
“We got to hurry,” Trent said urgently. “Damn. How could that skulk move so stealthily?”
“MC?” Pamela suggested. “Isn’t there supposed to be a RT here? Where is it?”
“Down there,” Trent said, pointing to her feet. Pamela looked down and was surprised to see she was standing on a thick glass panel. Underneath the glass, was the RT.
Pamela reported their suspicion about the MC as being the first chamber to Sergeant Lane and he acknowledged. They started moving again, quickening their pace. They wanted to get to team two quick. There is always safety in numbers. The route from repair bay to drill maintenance was long and had many turns. Numerous vents and poor lighting gave the Kharaa many opportunities for perfect ambushes. Trent got a bit nervous and a film of sweat covered his face. Like team two, they proceeded carefully down the passageway.
Trent and Pamela heard some flapping on a few occasions and had stopped moving. Trent had even held his breath, afraid that the lerk might sniff him out. It was paranoia but it was still better to be safe than sorry. It took them five minutes to get to drill maintenance. By that time, team two had already moved onto pressure control. Drill maintenance was breathtaking. It was the size of a football field and had a ceiling twenty meters high. A series of cranes hung from the ceiling and attached to each crane was a fifteen-meter folded up drill. The walls were now a rusty blue, giving the area a rugged feel. A few light bulbs from the ceiling bathed the room in pale light.
A few mechanical trolleys lay overturned on the floor, once used to transport drills. There were two half decomposed bodies on the floor. There were two clean holes in both their heads and Trent guessed that they had committed suicide. At one corner of maintenance was a ladder. It led up to a platform and on top of the platform was one of their RTs. Underneath the platform was a huge rectangular machine that had many buttons on it. Trent was taken aback by the sheer size and majesty of drill maintenance.
“Trent and Pamela. Go back to repair bay. The RT is under attack. Now move! You don’t have much time left,” Sergeant Lane suddenly ordered.
Trent refocused his attention and moved out. Trent and Pamela moved faster but were more alert. They went back through the long passageway and watched the vents closely. Suddenly, a green cloud of spore filled the passageway in front of Trent. Without thinking, Trent rushed through the spore cloud, his left arm covering his face. Pamela watched Trent in disbelief, then remembered Sergeant Lane’s orders and did the same. Their skin stung with pain slightly but their armour took most of the damage. The lerk poked its head out of the vent to look and was greeted with a burst of bullets from Pamela.
“Come on, we don’t have much time,” Trent said urgently.
They finally got back to repair bay. There was no sign of any skulk so they were immediately wary. Trent motioned for Pamela to cover him as he walked towards the RT. The glass panel had been opened and the RT inside destroyed. All that was left was a pile of wires and twisted metal. They were too late. Trent bent down and picked up the scrap metal. He heard a burst of gunfire behind him and he quickly spun around, LMG grasped tightly in both hands.
Pamela had just lowered her LMG and raised her hand to her neck. She felt around and grimaced. There was a parasite attached to her neck. Trent went over to take a look. It was embedded deeply in the flesh and Trent didn’t think he could take it out. There was nothing he could do to remove it. Pamela waved him away and indicated that she would be fine.
Before Trent could request for orders, Sergeant Lane dropped a RT. Trent hopped down into the cramped space and started building. It didn’t help that parts of the old RT was still inside. He finished it within twenty seconds and climbed out, sweat streaking down from his face. Trent crouched beside a workbench and waited for orders. Then, all the marines got teleported back to the marine start.
Trent first heard the grinding of teeth against metal. Then he saw the skulk, munching on their arms lab like it was nobody’s business. The marines fired simultaneously, reducing the skulk to a pathetic bloody mess. Trent went over to examine the arms lab. There were numerous claw marks but most of the wiring seemed intact. Sergeant Lane gave out welders and dropped a PG at the same time. Trent heard a hiss as nanites were released, attaching themselves to the marines’ armour. Their armour had just been upgraded. After everyone had welded the armoury and each other, they moved out again.
Trent noted, with some sadness, that Jude wasn’t with team one. He didn’t need to ask what had happened. They were split into their teams again. However, this time, Trent went with team one while Pamela stayed with team two. Team one made their way to drill sector. They moved through conveyor belt, a brightly lit room with miles of conveyor belts carrying rocks, then to drill sector. Once they got to drill sector, Sergeant Lane dropped a PG. Trent went to work while the rest covered the area. Not that his teammates needed to help with six turrets around them.
Drill sector was covered in bacterium, making the area moist and humid. It was quite plain, not much equipment around. The only piece of equipment was a drill, held upright by some sort of machine with a clamp. Once the PG was completed, it hummed to life and gave of its small glow off light. The light reflected off the green walls and gave the area a light green hue. There were two rather inconspicuous vents on one of the walls, five meters away from each other. Trent welded the vents shut, eliminating the possibility of a sudden ambush.
Sergeant Lane ordered them to move to settling tanks, guiding them with a waypoint. Team one went past a few corridors before coming to settling tanks. Settling tanks was where the un-purified minerals would be placed and then purified. The method was known as settling. The room was twenty by ten meters. There were ten settling tanks in the room, each containing a blue translucent liquid and minerals. The tanks were two meters in diameter and four in height. The RT nozzle was in the middle of the room but a Kharaa RT already occupied it.
Before the marines could fire, a hulking beast emerged from a door on the other side of the room. It was an onos, the tank of the Kharaa. The marines opened fire as the onos ran towards them, its head lowered and horns ready. It crashed through the glass tanks, spilling gallons of the blue liquid onto the floor. Trent felt the liquid rush against his chest and the force of it pushed him down. He saw his other teammates being washed against the wall, many losing their weapons. A piece of glass cut his cheek but he paid the cut no heed. The onos was unaffected by the rushing liquid and ran at Lewis. Lewis was just getting up when he onos crashed against him. Lewis let out a scream of pain as his ribs cracked and his body was tossed into the air.
“Over here you fat cow!” Trent shouted desperately, trying to divert the onos’ attention. It seemed to work for a second. The onos turned to look at Trent with its sinister yellow eyes. And then, its yellow eyes changed colour to red. Trent was suddenly stunned. Red,
Trent thought. It’s red.
The onos stared at Trent, then turned back to Lewis. Lewis, blood running down the side of his head, raised his arm feebly as if trying to ward off the onos. The monster just raised its huge foot and stepped on Lewis’ head. There was a squishing sound and Lewis’ head was no more. By then, the marines had recovered their weapons and started firing at the onos. The onos started to escape but Trent threw himself in front of the onos, hoping to block it. Again, he was struck by the red eyes and how evil it looked. Trent aimed his LMG, wanting to blast those eyes out.
Once again, the eyes changed colour. It reverted back to yellow. For a moment, Trent just stood there. The onos grunted and swung its head, knocking Trent away. Trent felt himself roll across the floor and there was a sharp pain in his left hand. He shook his head to clear his thoughts and got to his feet. Trent picked up his LMG and fired a few rounds at the onos just as it turned round the corner.
“Lewis is down. Got hit by an onos,” Cissy reported. “Need med packs.”
A shower of med packs landed around the marines. Trent examined his injuries. His cheek was actually bleeding quite badly and there was a deep cut on the palm of his left hand. By feeling around, he could tell that his stomach and chest were badly bruised. He took a med pack and applied it on himself. Trent reloaded his LMG and checked to see if the rest was all right. The rest of the marines were all right, only sustaining minor injuries. Trent didn’t even want to look at Lewis. He didn’t know if he could take the sight.
A blip on the marine’s HUD indicated that weapons had been upgraded. Sergeant Lane dropped ammo and the marines slapped the new magazines into their LMGs. Trent remembered that there was still an alien RT in the room and he pulled his knife out. Then, on second thought, he kept his knife and pulled out his laser cutter. With the press of one button, the laser beam appeared. Trent slashed the RT mercilessly, cutting through it easily. The RT collapsed and exploded within ten seconds. The laser cutter was more powerful than Trent expected.
A RT was dropped and Trent built it quickly. Trent looked at his mini map and saw that upper deck three was very close by. If they could get close enough, they could siege it and it would all be over. A waypoint appeared on their HUD and they moved towards it. The waypoint was at medical bay. The marines went through a dimly lit corridor and then up a flight of stairs. They came to a long but narrow passageway. Trent was in front while Cissy was behind.
At the end of the passageway, a lerk came into view. It spored the area twice before retreating. Green corrosive gas filled the passageway, burning the marines’ skin. Trent ran, trying to get out of the gas. Then, he realised that it was a trap. Two skulks dropped from a vent in the ceiling, landing on Trent. Trent tried to pull the trigger of his LMG but a skulk bit his hand. He screamed in pain and dropped his gun. The other skulk took a bite out of his chest plate.
Suddenly, Cissy was beside him. She used her knife to stab the skulk on Trent’s chest. The other skulk bit into Cissy’s leg, tripping her over. Before the skulk could take another bite, Trent had taken out his laser cutter and slashed at the skulk. The laser cut cleanly through the skulk’s head, detaching it from the body.
“Thank you,” Cissy said gratefully.
“No, thank you,” Trent replied.
“Marines, hurry up! Our RTs are going down but it won’t matter if we take that hive down. Team two is already waiting there for you!” Sergeant Lane shouted over the comm-link. The stress must really be getting to him,
Trent thought. Sergeant Lane dropped a few med packs for the marines. The marines applied the med packs on themselves and continued moving. As they neared the end of the long passageway, the lerk emerged again. It spored the area and tried to fly off. Trent wasn’t letting it go so easily. He turned on his laser cutter and threw it as the lerk. It cut through the lerk’s wing easily. The lerk gave a squawk of pain and fell to the floor. Trent used his boot to stomp on the lerk’s head and shoved his LMG into its back. He fired thirty rounds into the lerk and was satisfied to see it stop squirming.
Then, Trent noticed a huge shadow on the floor. Then he heard the sound of his teammates running. Trent vaguely heard Leonardo calling out to him, telling him to run. Trent looked up slowly and was face to face with the onos. He could smell its breath, the stench of death. Little scars were all over its face. Trent felt his knees go weak and he fell backwards, landing on his ****. There was gunfire and Trent saw bullets enter the onos’ face, splattering blood everywhere. However, the onos did not seem to care.
The onos opened its ugly mouth and closed in on Trent. Somehow, that got Trent’s gears running. Trent shoved his LMG into the onos’ eye and depressed the trigger. All fifty bullets went into the onos’ skull. The onos shuddered for a moment, and then staggered backwards. The marines all surrounded the onos and started firing. The muzzle flashes lit the passageway up, creating dancing shadows. Then, all of a sudden, the onos started moving again. It tried to get away, ramming Cissy and Alan in the process. Alan landed harmlessly on the floor but the onos stepped on Cissy’s arm when she landed. There was an audible crack and Cissy screamed in agony.
“Med pack!” Leonardo shouted. “Med and ammo!”
Med packs fell and Leonardo took one. He injected the nanites and morphine into Cissy and watched as the nanites mended broken tissue. However, it could not mend broken bones so Cissy was now a downed operative. Alan got up, looking pretty relieved that he wasn’t hurt.
“Lucky it was Cissy that got hit, not me,” Alan said.
Trent felt his blood boil. It was just disgusting that Alan should say that. Before he could stop himself, Trent grabbed Alan and shoved him against the wall. He looked at Alan in the eye, fury burning in his heart. Trent knew that to let his anger control him was dangerous but he didn’t care anymore. Trent punched Alan in the stomach and enjoyed how much that felt. Trent felt two hands grab his back and pull him away from Alan.
“God damn it! This is not the place!” Leonardo shouted. “We can deal with this **** later! Now you got to focus.”
“Trent! Control yourself! And Alan, stop being an ****! That’s an order,” Sergeant Lane shouted over the comm-link, clearly very ****. “Team two is already setting up the sieges. Hurry up and link up with them.”
Trent stared at Alan one more time before helping Cissy up. Cissy could walk, but she had to cradle her arm close to herself. Every step she took was a jolt of pain up her arm but she just had to suck it in. Team one was only twenty meters from medical bay. They finally reached it after turning one more bend. Medical bay was a bloody mess. Literally. Bodies were strewn all over the floor and some were sitting on chairs. The once white floor and walls were now stained a gruesome pink. It was as if the marines had just stepped into a slaughterhouse. There were a few beds at one end and corpses occupied all but one. The stench of decaying flesh was overwhelming and team one had to take a moment to overcome their nausea.
Medical cabinets lined the walls. Most of them were smashed and pills, bandages and med packs lay scattered on the floor. There was a passageway that led to upper deck three, the hive location. Leonardo helped Cissy onto one of the beds. A turret factory, some turrets and a PG were already set up. They were just waiting for the turret factory to upgrade. A skulk tried to venture into medical bay but it was killed in a matter of seconds by the six turrets.
“What happened to Cissy?” Sam asked Trent. “Is she going to be okay?”
“Onos came. She broke her arm but she is going to be alright.”
The turret factory hissed, indicating that it was upgraded. Sergeant Lane immediately dropped a few siege turrets and the marines started building. Only Alan and Jake stood guard. The three siege turrets were finished in no time. Sergeant Lane scanned the hive and the turrets began blasting away. Trent looked at his mini map and was puzzled to see that none of the Kharaa were at the hive. Where are they?
The marines stood guard for a full one-minute but still, no Kharaa came. Trent smelled a trap and looked at his map. All but one of their RTs was down except the one in drill sector and the one in marine start. Something was seriously wrong.
“Sir, scan the furnace hive,” Trent told Sergeant Lane.
“Why?” Sergeant Lane asked.
“I smell a trick,” Trent answered.
Trent watched his mini map as Sergeant Lane scanned furnace. It revealed another hive but it was also empty. The Kharaa were somewhere else.
“****! Another hive. Okay, team two, go to furnace and sneak a PG,” Sergeant Lane ordered. “Team one stay behind and guard the siege turrets.”
“Hold on sir. Something’s not right. The Kharaa are not at either hive. It’s just not right. Wait! Scan outside MS!” Trent said.
Trent watched his mini map again. To his horror, the scan revealed not only an infestation right outside the marine start but also six Kharaa. There were two gorges, two skulks and two onoses. Trent’s suspicions were confirmed. The Kharaa had tricked them with a decoy.
“Take the hive down first! Then phase back to base,” Sergeant Lane ordered, now slightly frantic.
The marines rushed into the hive, LMGs blasting. The hive exploded in seconds, staining the floor with sticky yellow blood. The marines didn’t bother to savour their victory. They just went to the phase gate and phased back to base. Leonardo helped Cissy from the bed to the PG. The marines got back just in time. The two skulks rushed in with the two onoses right behind them. The marines fanned out and started firing, concentrating firepower on the skulks first. The skulks never made it to the marines but they had served their purpose. They allowed the onoses to close the gap.
One of the onoses ignored the marines and started whacking the arms lab. The other one went for Maria. Maria managed to roll to one side and get to her feet. The marines concentrated their firepower on the onos that tried to attack Maria. The onos turned its attention to Trent. At that moment, Trent had just finished his LMG clip. He started to move backwards, reloading as he did so. The onos was faster than him. It rammed its horn into Trent’s chest, ripping flesh and skin. Trent gave a gasp of pain and shock. He fell to the ground, hands clutched against his chest.
The onos turned and fled the base. It was happening all over again. Death was coming. Trent could feel death standing over him, just waiting for his heart to stop beating. Trent suddenly felt very cold and shivered. He heard more gunfire and the unmistakeable roar of the HMG. Sam’s worried face came into view and then, he blacked out.
Sam grabbed a med pack from the armoury and applied it on Trent. The gaping hole in his chest healed only very slightly. Sam was afraid that Trent was going to die. The other onos had taken down their arms lab and ran off. Now, they were sitting ducks. Sergeant Lane had dropped a couple of HMGs for the team to drive the onoses out. It looked like it was the first time they were going to fail a mission.
Maria came over to Trent and examined him. She shook her head sadly and reported that Trent needed immediate medical attention. And she meant immediate
. Sergeant Lane assessed the situation and made a decision.
“Marines, we are abandoning this facility. Get whatever ammo you can and phase to medical bay. I will recycle everything except the PG and spam a line of med packs all the way to the escape pods. They are not too far and you guys should not have trouble getting there. Wait for me at the other end,” Sergeant Lane ordered.
The marines nodded. Leonardo went through first, to make sure the way was clear. Trent was getting worse so Sam took another med pack and applied it on Trent. They didn’t have much time. John and Sam helped to lift Trent to the PG and phased him through. The rest of the marines phased in quickly. On the other side, the marines saw a line of med packs leading to the escape pods.
“Let’s go!” Alan shouted and started moving. “What are you guys waiting for?”
“Sergeant Lane,” Maria said. “****! Trent’s critical again!”
She bent down and picked up a med pack and injected the nanites into Trent. Maria looked around medical bay for anything she could use and found some nano-bandages. Nano-bandages were a recent innovation and were very useful. The bandages looked normal but were really pumped full of nanites. Maria took a roll and wrapped it around Trent’s chest. She needed something to put Trent on so moving would be easier. Maria looked around and saw a folded up stretcher. She grabbed it, unfolded it and placed Trent on it. Trent’s breathing began to falter again so she ha to use another med pack.
John saw a skulk try and sneak in by the ceiling and he let out a long burst of bullets. The skulk got hit and its corpse was sent spinning to the ground. Then, Sergeant Lane phased in, a GL in one hand.
“Let’s move out. Jude and Leonardo, carry Trent. Maria, you help Cissy. Now move!” Sergeant Lane commanded.
Sergeant Lane led the way while Jake covered them from behind. Once in a while, they had to stop to pick up a med pack and apply it on Trent. The med packs were having less and less effect as his body was already so full of nanites. From one of Dr. Strom’s lectures, Sam remembered that having too many nanites in a person could be harmful. That was why they needed to hurry.
As they turned a corner, Sergeant Lane suddenly stiffened. He sensed something but could not tell what it was. Then, he realised that the lights above him were trembling slightly.
“Onos! Move! Move! Move!” Sergeant Lane shouted as he waved at his marines to move faster.
They ran. Cissy let out a curse every time she took a step. She took a jab of morphine to lessen the pain but that only helped slightly. The metal grating they were running on gave hollow clangs. A few turns later, they finally saw the escape pod. It was ready, docked on a clamp in a large room. There were blinking lights and screens all over the walls. Above the escape pod, there was a glass panel that showed the dark and beautiful space. It showed freedom. To call it a pod was an understatement. It was more like an L-class ship, only slightly smaller. There was enough room to fit ten people and had food and water to last for a week. It even had its own navigation system.
There was a roar and the marines turned. The onos was in the passageway,
From the Shadows...