um yeah, after about the greater part of a year and much being lazy, from 1.04-2.01d I've been working on this little story, the ending chapter has been finished due to insomnia
give me feedback and point out errors, and find the easter eggs!
what are you waiting for? get up in that muh!
ommander, I need ammo...commander?! Hey guys, where did the Markins go?”
Suddenly, he saw his HUD flashing the letters: the commander has been ejected.
“Are you guys insane? Why did you eject him? Were going to have our forward positions overrun since we don’t have a comm”
A crackling sound followed by the voice of a marine two corridors over was the only reply...
“That guy was a n00b, he actually used a turret”[Writers note: think pre 2.0 turret]
Charlie awoke with a start, sweating profusely, he glanced around his bunk. He slowly realized that he had been dreaming. The real Dan Markins walked up to him, looking concerned at his friend's sudden awakening. “You been dreaming again haven’t you?”
Charlie glanced away, and eventually mumbled a grunt of acknowledgment.
“Charlie, if you keep dreaming then you know that I can’t send you in to the field, those TSA sleep nanites should be completely removing your dreams, we need all of the squad to be all that it can be if were going to actually get some field action, what were you dreaming about this time?”
Dan stood over Charlie, a quizzical look on his face.
Charlie strained to recall the details, the dull humming of the massive engines on the rather nimble assault frigate strained against the soupy nebula it was pushing through.
“Beta squad was in the middle of an engagement with massive Kharaa forces...and...and they ejected you! from the comm chair! For no effing reason.... that's all I can really recall...”
Markins stood for a second, then broke out into guffaws that had many heads popping out of bunks, trying to locate the source of the laughter.
“Charlie, you know that I’m one of the top 3 commanders in the TSA, a vote to eject me would never pass!”
His voice suddenly dropped to a whisper “and even if a vote passed, the comm chair wouldn’t kick me out, I’ve got enough skill to override those little subroutines”
They both stared at each other for a second, then simultaneously broke out into huge grins.
Charlie got out of his bunk and started to change into uniform, but not before making sure that his small area of personal space was tidy and tucked in, not a wrinkle in the covers, and not a thing unorganized in his section of bunk.
“Remember Dan, we got a briefing at 13:37 sharp”
Markins simple gave a nod, and the sharply turned and walked out of the room, but not before yelling at a bunch of recruits for having there bunks messy. Charlie could have sworn that he had seen a faint smirk in his commanders eyes as he was telling the recruits “be like that man over there, his bunk is square and in order”
Charlie mused to himself for a few minutes all the while getting dressed, preparing for the days mission, he knew little details of it, all that he knew was that it was a recovery missions on a ship called "Bast" but he had heard rumors that there might be someone from Comprox division showing up at the briefing, it struck his as odd that one of the most secretive and harsh TSA divisions would bother with a simple infiltrate and recover mission, he dismissed these thoughts, and as soon as he was finished suiting up, he announced to his sleeping squad mates “GUYS! We got sit rep for mission in 15! You all had better know the drill”
“SIR YES SIR MR. LIOC SIR!” was the resounding response from the seemingly half asleep marines arrayed in various places of the living quarters.
Charlie stood there for a second, the TSA had never ceased to amaze him, and this wasn't an exception.
Most of the marines who had only a second ago nearly knocked him down with the force of there reply were back to being half asleep. As he turned to leave the marines sleeping quarters, he gave a faint chuckle.
The holo projector hummed to life, projecting an image of TSA admiral Rathine Studaber.
Charlie immediately snapped to attention, letting his briefing plans deactivate themselves and slide back into the ornate wood of the long table that made up the briefing room for most of the missions from this particular frigate, he let his professionalism back down when he saw that the admirals body language indicated this was an informal communiqué.
“Morning admiral, what can I do for you today?”
“Charlie, let me get right to the point, I’ve had the pleasure of watching you go from basic training to the frontiersman exam to being on of the best squad leaders we have, I’ve got a bad feeling about Comprox sticking it’s nose in this operation. That bunch just scares me, even I don’t have clearance to their files, I don’t like this one bit! Charlie, I want you to stay alert, a normal mission would never warrant them sending someone, this must be important to them, I’ve got to go and meet with the Trans-System-Authority in a few minutes...if those corporate no-neck-pencil-pushers can actually stop worrying about there profits for a minute maybe I can figure out what is going on”
Charlie felt very unnerved about this development, but he didn’t let it show, “thanks your taking the time to give me a heads up, have a good day Ma’am.” he gave a formal salute, and as the dull light of the holo projector vanished he heard
“You too Charlie, I hope your mission will be a success today”
Charlie had little time to process this change of events as the heads of the marine squads filed in for the briefing,
“Good to see you all here to day, as you know we have a standard mission to do today, the mining ship BAST stopped transmitting several days ago, and we need to go in there and make sure that this billion dollar marvel doesn’t go to waste, and if there are Kharaa in there, we need to wipe them out nice and fast, the squads we will be taking are alpha, beta, and of course my squad, delta. The commander is going to be Mr. Larkin’s, I don’t think anyone will object?”
Everyone in the room laughed, knowing that even if they had an objection, they weren’t going to get their man in the CC, Larkin’s was the best of the best and that’s what they wanted.
Charlie paused, wondering how to tell the group about Comprox and it’s envoy, who could show up at any moment.
“Zero, Fam, your squads will go in first, establish perimeter around our start and then we will fan out, establishing a secondary base at processing, we need those two nodes if were going to have to spend some time in there, if things look clean, then your squads will get to head home, and me and my crew will finish up”
Fam and Zero both nodded, absorbing the information that had been passed to them.
Charlie continued, outside the stars glistened, and there was a faint twinkle of a metallic sort that could be seen far off in the distance, growing ever closer
“That’s Bast right there, ETA 10 min”
Charlie knew better than to ask if the grunts were ready to roll, everyone on board this ship was more than aware of what was going on, and they had been getting into gear since the briefing had started, Charlie didn’t know this for a fact, but it was something he held to be self evident, no one liked to be the one who had to cool down the intake forums after they flamed due to the slight modification in the ships technology, but someone had to and it was unspoken law that the squad who slacked off got the pleasure of completing that task. Charlie realized that intakes were probably pretty filthy, due to the fact that all three squads had been operation in perfect unity for several months now, and with the metaphorical engine of men being perfectly oiled and running, no one had been punished for slacking in a while.
“Don’t just sit there, do something about it!”
Charlie flinched as he was brought back to reality, instantly recognizing Fam teasing him with the mock CC voice. All four men in the room grinned, Charlie stood back up, and passed out diskettes to the three men, “those contain the schematics and the tactics we want to use when we board Bast, you two know what to do”
Fam gave Charlie a knowing grin as he and Nem both left the room
“Aw crimmeny, I forgot to tell them about Comprox turning it’s eye upon us”
Larkin’s immediately look at Charlie, “what are you talking about?”
"Stay alert, rumor is that some brass from Comprox division might come with us"
"Charlie, I thought Comprox division only handled top level spook stuff"
"Dan, that’s part of the problem, they do"
suddenly there was a crackling of a phase gate, and in walked what later would be referred to as trouble. He was standard size, except he was wearing an old fashioned suit, complete with tie and briefcase. He spoke in a dry and raspy monotone, pausing for breath in the most awkward of places, letting his diction and verbiage sink in becuase of the agent Smith like drawl "my name is.... Denelyp, from Comprox division..... You may refer to me as Den....The heads of my department have been...most pleased.... with your…squad’s performance...that’s why they selected me…to accompany you on your next...mission"
Charlie saw a text message flash up on his HUD
"Man, this guy seems like a nazi, does he have to go with us? -Markins"
Denelyp slowly turned to face Dan, "My superiors feel it necessary for me to join your squad for this particular foray...and if you have a...problem...with the way I carry myself, I suggest that send a text comm to me, and not your friend."
Charlie and Dan exchanged a look of oh, sh*t
and as they both left the room in a stunned silence, they heard Den give a faint chuckle.S
he was alone, but not for long.
More of her brethren were in on their way, but they weren't like her, they were completely taken by the hive mind, she had a purpose, she needed to grow her hive. She didn't know why, she only knew that the "engine room" is where it was going to reside.
A faint tapping grew close; another of her kind ran by, it's eyes ablaze with a fierce red. Thirsting for blood. She knew that they only came to exist when the ones came, but her connection to the hive mind wasn't detecting any ones around her, just her friends. It didn't matter; the others and the ones were insignificant. She had her task to complete. She ran down the engine room corridor, and there it was just a bacterium ghost right now, but soon to be a hive! She grew excited, almost loosing herself in the bloodlust that came with being in a potential hive. She looked to place the hive, but paused when she realized she couldn't. This left her dumbfounded for a second, when she realized she had to evolve. She immediately grew furious with herself for making a stupid mistake, and in punishment she reached down with her mouth and with several sickening chomps bit her left front leg off. She started to scream in pain, but her missing appendage didn't matter, as she the bacterium instantly formed a cocoon around her injured body. She knew she was changing to the right species, he could feel it happening, and slowly the gestation to builder occurred. The egg ruptured open with a cackle, he looked around, realizing that he didn't have enough resources to place this hive, however there was a nipple, spurting fresh nanos a mere lckplz in front of him. He moved over there, and concentrated for a second, willing the bacterium to suck itself out of the air, and form into a chamber around the 3 foot bubble of fresh bacterium he was spraying out of his mouth. There was a soft *whump* as the chamber dropped down, and arduously pulled itself upright and secured itself over the nozzle. He extended his double proboscis towards the fresh biomass, helping it grown and develops, for this tower would hold the res to make it, and it was all he cared about. When the chamber was almost finished, he heard the bacterium cry "CLEANSE THE INTRUDERS!!" he turned around, spinning and he saw the ones were inhabiting the docking back, they had cut thru the hull and were threatening the creation of HIS hive, the other brethren were already taking place to ambush them, so he didn't care, as the tower finished itself, he let out a faint chuckle.M
arkins shifted anxiously as the ship rocked, sliding abreast to bast.
Seconds later the external cutting lasers flared to life. Seconds later the docking bay was revealed, two lights on stands kindly beating the darkness out of the room. Charlie scanned the room. It was silent except for Markins making a scramble for the CC. Charlie ran a diagnostic on his HA, and activated both the JP’s worn by Fam and Nem, Charlie could have chosen to take a JP, as all officers get there pick of top tier equipment. Quickly and quietly the squads moved into the docking bay. The only sound in the room was the whir of air getting sucked thru the pressure equalization conduit. “Let’s moooooooooooove out” Fam broke the silence, mocking the TSA’s holographic training simulations. The assembled squads let out a series of guffaws. Charlie followed suit, barking orders “Fam, Nem, take your squads down to atmospheric processing, Feedwater is a possible hive location, get atmos up and then check it out” The two squads could barely be heard saying “Roger” due to the whine of the elevator as it went down, already ahead of Charlie’s orders. There was a odd sound as an IP materialized up by the CC, instinctively Charlie and his squad moved towards it, extending there arm, as it hissed and clicked, building itself. As soon as it was build a Turret Factory dropped down by the CC, followed by an armoury. A cackling of the radio was followed by Fam. “Lioc, Atmos is clear, were going to need some res towers hear…Squad, stay alert”
Over the radio Charlie heard affirmatives from the squads. Several seconds later LMG fire echoed thru out the corridors and up into the docking bay,
“Status report! C’mon Fam talk to me”
“Charlie, we got a couple of skulks ambushing us here, we killed ‘em, but they got Rob…” There was a pause and followed by an inhuman screaming echoing up into marine start, then again the screaming was heard, followed by a less than ecstatic Fam. “Aw bloody wanking hell, one just leaped past us, they got two hives”
Markins broke in
“Charlie, I’ve upgraded the TF to siege, you never know, build this siege and then head out the airlock I think we can cap the res there”
Charlie extended his hand and the siege started to hum and spark.
He heard a slight * thwp * and then a shattering of broken glass as one of the lights went out…
“That’s never a good sign…we've got hostiles”
Almost instantly after hearing Charlie speak his squad was crouched and covering one another. There was another * thwp * and the light closest to the command chair shattered.
Immediately Charlie whipped out his pistol and spun 180, his flashlight flicked on thought to his suit about activating it. A single skulk was caught in the circle of light, in the corner of the room, up near the ceiling. Charlie’s finger squeezed the trigger of the pistol easily due to his HA assisting him, after all it only took five pounds of pressure, and with the HA what seemed like one squeeze could have actually sent a group of bullets towards the skulk. The pistols accuracy and insane rate of fire paid off as the bullets met their mark, dropping one skulk. “He must have come thru the vent, I’m going to go and weld it…” almost instantly a welder dropped into his hands as Charlie made his way towards the airlock. The rest of his squad dropped into defensive positions. “Charlie should we do motion or upgrades next” Charlie contemplated Markins query for a second, “Markins, I think we should go upgrades” in the distance he heard the distinctive thsss sound as an arms lab materialized out of nowhere followed by the distinctive sparking as building was authorized. “Uhhh…Charlie…why is there a locked panel in the CC? It’s like a structure, but I can’t build it. It’s in the advanced build menu right next to the phase gate, I can click on it, but nothing happens, any idea…”
Charlie paused; about to throw the switch to the airlock, this new development startled him, the only entity able to crack and mod comm chair software would be a high up part of the TSA with a lot of know how. Charlie threw the switch to the airlock, pulling up a secure text connection to the CC. Markins: The only people who can do such a thing would have to be that Comprox guy.
As the airlock turned Markins came over the comm. “Roger that Charlie, your team just built the siege and we got some turrets, not to mention upgrading to advanced armory so us plain folks can get some heavy weaps, and an arms lab, the other squads are working on securing processing.”
The airlock finally completed it’s seemingly laborious task of turning 180, Charlie started to reply to Markins update but was cut of when he spotted an alien res node, with something seemingly inside the bulb of the node. Charlie knew that he wouldn’t have to bother with taking it out, as he was now spotting for the siege. In base it hummed to life, spinning around and starting to cycle up. The massive turrets barrel flew backwards once, projecting a massive gravity well at the location of the unbuilt chamber. All the air was instantly sucked thru the swirling micro vortex and as it did it broke the speed of sound, resulting in a tremendous sound, followed by massive damage to the built res node. Charlie was already on to welding the vent, but he could have sworn he heard what was akin to a hissing coming from the resnode. He turned and deactivated the welder; pulling out his shotgun he raked the action once, reading a shell. Again the telltale thwump of a siege echoed thru the vent, and again the spectacular sight of sound at it’s worse filled his vision, the chamber disappeared in a puff of nanos, and out flew a small fat lump of green, flailing desperately in mid air, coming to a sickening crunch as it flew thru open entrance to engine room and hit the wall, falling another 10 feet to the ground with another thump, followed by a weak moan. Charlie walked down the stairs and amid the green splotches on the wall and the ground he could tell that it was a gorge, it was badly hurt and for a second Charlie pitted it. He lowered his shotgun and turned towards the vent, telling his HA to activate the switch when he got close enough, the door to engine room hissed shut, leaving the poor creature to it’s demise. Charlie crawled into the vent and resumed welding. Right before he was done welding it he heard the sound of what could only be refinery lift coming up, he continued welding as he would be safe when it was done, but instead of the ravenous skulk Charlie expected, another gorge turned the corner, Charlie deactivated the welder, but it’s spool down time finished welding the vent, and right as Charlie brought his shotgun up the doors to the vent snapped shut, Charlie cursed as he heard several dropping objects and then building sounds, he turned back and headed towards base. Hopping out of the vent and into the pretty fortified base, he landed with a metallic boom as two tons of heavy armour fell 10 feet. As he landed he heard a faint beep, followed by the sounds of delicate circuitry breaking. He lifted his left leg up, and spied what had been a mine, apparently they weren’t rated to have a HA drop on them… Charlie did a shrug that was amplified by his HA, and his squad laughed. He was cut off as a puzzled Fam came over the comm. “Charlie, I thought you said that all civilians were off this rig…”
Charlie responded instantly, and the rest of the squad in the docking bay fell silent “There aren’t any civilians here, and if there were they would have gotten massacred by the Kharaa". An observatory materialized by a few squad members, they immediately went to building it. “Well Charlie, me and my squad turned the corner to steam generator and saw a guy in a flippin suit walk towards the hive room”
Charlie swore, and outside the airlock, something let out a faint chuckle.S
omehow he knew that he could build the nozzle he stood next to, he couldn’t have done it several minutes ago when he was moving up towards this location the hive had spoken of. He had encountered minor problems with getting the door that was behind him open, but that was solved by a glob of spit to one of the strange switches that was midway up the stairs. The door had hissed open and, allowing him to approach the bare gray nozzle. He had passed a threshold and concentrated on the organism that helped him convert the life giving sludge to a product that was useful to him and the rest of the brood. There was a squishing sound as he expelled the contents of his stomach and it immediately formed into the resource tower. It fell several feet to the ground, twitched, and used its tentacles to pull itself snug over the nipple. It was building, but the hive mind had commanded him to make his hive as soon as possible. He extended his two proboscises out towards the still building organism, as soon as they contacted it; he started to assist the building. He nurtured the creature and greatly helped it to fight off the nano machines that were trying, but failing, to remove it. As soon as the creature was built, it would be able to fight the nano machines off by itself and collect resources for the hive. He knew the organisms that the creature on top of the node was derived from; they were actually a good species. That thought puzzled him for a second, never before had he bothered to think about anything except what the hive commanded. He started to reach out to the hive mind to inquire as to what was happening to him when he heard motor servos strain as they moved the bulk of something behind him.
He stopped feeding the tower, which was half built, but would still take a while if not being nourished by him, and spun around to face the intruding sounds. The massive doors that he had taken no notice of before were rotating, and that could only mean one thing. Them…. In a flurry to hide himself, he pleaded to the partially built creature to hide him. It wasn’t sentient and didn’t care, it wasn’t storing any resources in the big sac that rested atop of it, and even though it wasn’t built it could somehow tell that the small panicked one had helped it grow and it gladly opened the sack up to allow the tiny creature a place of refuge. A veritable sigh of relief echoed from his body as he settled into the thin sac of the node, watching as the massive door swung to a halt, revealing a massive form that clunked forward. It stopped when it spied his hiding spot. He was deathly silent, and didn’t dare move as the tall thing looked at him. The next thing he knew, his word was crashing around him in a cataclysm of bright colors and pain. The creature giving him refuge also cried out silently as it hemorrhaged from the blast. From his damaged hiding spot he could see that the mechanical bringer of pain had gone to shoot bright light at one of the vents. Taking a chance, he cried out to the rest of his brethren, but the only one who could get there in time was in a protective egg at the bottom of the elevator, almost done with it’s evolution to the same species as him. It would offer assistance, no question about it; the hive was very specific in that protecting the one hidden in the node took priority over blocking the entrance. The joy that help was coming was short-lived, as he knew it was too late. The human had stopped doing whatever it was, and had fixated it’s gaze on the damaged node again, this time bringing a metal rod to bear upon it, one hand pumped it and it made a sound that could only be trouble. Suddenly there was another massive implosion, the node could no longer sustain against the sonic siege upon itself and the nano machines that attacked it on a molecular level, it immediately evaporated back into the same nanite sludge that had been converted by the bacterium and molded by the little one to give it a short uncompleted life.
As the node dissipated around him suddenly he found himself being propelled thru the air by an unseen force, his fat little legs flailing as he uncontrollably spun around. He flew through the air and hit the wall that was at the bottom of the stairs, breaking many of the bones in his body and leaving him in much pain. Unfortunately, he was still level with the top stair. Begrudgingly, he emulated the pain bringers with something that he remembered them saying before they were annihilated, it was a sort of Kharaa “oh sh*t this is going to suck” as the artificial gravity pulled him down 10 feet, smacking him into the cold steel of the ship with a sickening thump and causing even more damage to his already battered form. He lay beaten and broken, knowing he had failed. Even though he had almost enough sludge stored to build his hive, he was even more upset because he knew one of them would come and snuff him out. Suddenly there stood two big lumbering metallic feet, and the creature that had caused so much pain to him. It looked at him with its “shotgun” aimed right at him. Knowing all was lost and lying in a pool of his own green fluids he waited for the last blast of pain that would send his consciousness back to the hive mind and leave his shell of a body to be reabsorbed. He was most puzzled when the creature turned and walked away, the door hissing shut, leaving the gorge in stunned silence. Seconds later, his body started to rebuild, repairing ruptured organs and sucking fluids back into their appropriate cavities. He rolled over and stood on his short legs, thanking whatever creature had spared him, knowing that now he could make his hive and succeed in doing the hive mind’s bidding. The ghost of the un-built hive came into view, just before he was going to expel all of his saved sludge to create his hive, he heard the other who had pledged assistance. It was now by his former res node and was wondering where he was. He scoffed at it because its mind was still a prisoner to the hive, following orders like an automaton. Then something happened that explained all to him, it was a reality dawning: the hive had let him become smarter and self-thinking because the task it needed was a special one. He knew that he was building a hive, something that is done many times all over the Ariadne arm at any given second and wasn’t much a thing to behold, but this hive was different in some way. He turned and focused on the hive and instantly it materialized and dropped down, un-built, unfinished, but a token of beauty in and of itself. He couldn’t assist it in building, but he could protect it. The other gorge stopped for a second, sensing that the one it was tasked to protect was safe, and that the third hive was going up in the “engine room”. So it went back to it’s main objective, ignoring the nagging in the back of its peonic mind that this hive was somehow different. It waddled over to the airlock and used all the res in its stomach to spawn a bunch of the pseudo plant chambers that attacked any that threatened their existence, and these organisms are so heavily hive modified that anything except the hive and it’s disciples were attacked instantly. This would keep them from spreading their pain in this direction for a while. The hive mind was momentarily happy with the reports of the moment, so it gave the gorge outside the airlock a moment of sentience as a reward for doing its bidding, and the creature took that moment to let out a faint chuckle.
kay guys, things aren’t going well from what I can tell, Nem I need you back in base with the rest of you squad we have had minor incoming and we need all to keep base alive because we aren’t getting reinforcements”
There was a slight pause followed by a Nem’s voice “I roger that Charlie, my squad is coming back from atmospheric processing, we’ve had minor losses but I think were going to be good, what the hell was that talk about a guy in a suit walking around?”
Charlie let out a gasp of recollection, the Comprox division guy was still walking around and he had forgotten to tell the other squad leaders. Quickly he called up a secure voice chat with Nem and Fam.
“Guys, you all know about Comprox division right?”
“That we do, Lioc…what’s going on?”
“Well Fam, we have someone from Comprox on Bast with us, he has some mission but that’s all I know”
Charlie heard Nem and Fam let loose small expletives over the mic, “It looks like we don’t bug him and he doesn’t bug us, we continue as planned, tell your squads that the if they run across a guy in a suit that he is on our side.”
“We get you loud and clear, Charlie send the elevator at base down, my squad brought back Rob’s body, we don’t want his family to have an empty casket”
Charlie moved over the elevator switch and threw it, sending the elevator down. There were several bursts of lmg fire and the characteristic thwump from Nem’s grenade launcher from below the elevator.
“Dam nit Charlie we got a couple pairs of skulks coming at us, little help!”
Charlie didn’t hesitate to jump down onto the moving elevator, as it wasn’t that big of a fall, his heavy armour cushioned the impact as he readied his shotgun. “Markins, give them health packs if they need it” Charlie didn’t need Markins to respond because he knew that he was already there watching the battle in comm view. The elevator came to a stop and Charlie saw a marine on the ground writhing in pain with a bunch of spikes stuck in his legs lying on the ground and Nem and the three remaining members of his squad in defensive positions trying to fend of a horde of skulks that were inside a cloud of umbra. Charlie immediately opened fire with his shotgun, taking down the lerk that was trying to fly up the elevator shaft. “Nem, you know what to do” There was a small thud as the remains of the lerk hit the ground,
Nem turned to Charlie and gave a curt nod, then unleashed his grenade launcher on the skulks sitting in the umbra. There were several spectacular explosions as the grenades made contacts with a skulk. Umbra is a mystery to the TSA scientist, it reduce even the most withering heavy machine gun fire to a mere annoyance. Officially the TSA has never had a chance to study the properties of umbra, but many soldiers had heard the rumors that the Comprox division most certainly had, but all the TSA knew about umbra was that it didn't stop knives, or the grenades that were flying out of Nem's launcher as fast as they could be shot. Bits and pieces of a skulk flew past followed by relative silence. There was a series of ratcheting noises as they all reloaded one at a time, Nem walked over to Charlie but not before telling the three standing members of the squad to tend to their wounded, there was a bright sparkling as a couple of medpacks dropped from the ceiling, the ones that fell touching the wounded soldier were immediately absorbed thru his armour and into his blood stream where they went to work instantly. Nem was about to ask Charlie about the visitor from Comprox when there was a high pitched whine followed by an odd sound, Charlie and Nem swiveled in time to see a skulk drop from the ceiling towards the cluster of four marines. Weapons swung up to counter the falling threat when the skulks xenocide completed, a tremendous explosion followed by the tinkling of bone shrapnel hitting the floor as the three standing marines fell to the ground almost in unison, more medpacks instantly materialized and fell on to the marines, but they just sat their and weren't absorbed. The one to survive the explosion had been the marine already on the ground. Nem let loose a barrage of swearing when he realized what had just happened.
"Fam, they've got three hives up, move out to feed water and kill that hive then try and make a run on refinery, that's the only other location for a hive in your area, but be warned we may have massive incoming soon"
Charlie stopped talking just as the door in front of him closed its self and the elevator started to whine upwards. Nem had helped the last marine of his squad onto the elevator, and Markins, having noticed this had closed the door and sent the elevator up. The medical nano's were doing their job and Charlie could see the improvements in how the marine carried himself. A global message from Markins popped up on the HUD
Motion Tracking coming up in a few minutes ~Markins
Outside of steam generator Fam took notice of this as he and his squad slowly crept up to the curve that was the start of feed water. Cautiously his squad parted evenly on both sides, the gurgling of water could be heard and the room had a dark green look to it. The infestation had apparently broken open a bunch of pipes and water was cascading down from a hole in the ceiling, just beyond the miniature water fall there was hive, suspended over what would be a rather large vent that was now full of water. Fam gave three short signals his crew, they flanked each other and all took aim at the hive, simultaneously 5 light machine guns and a heavy opened up at the hive, it screamed in pain as the massive organ rocked from the impact. After several seconds of sustained fire the hive roared and then fell apart, disappearing before it sunk to bottom as the bacterium reconsumed the dead hive. Fam's squad reloaded and started to cover each other as they went down the ladder on the other side of the room. "Alright guys, were moving out to refinery, we gotta take that sucker down and then head back, those aliens will be heated we took down this hive so lets get a move on"
The whole squad grunted in unison as they started to move down the ladder, as the first marine got near the bottom he hopped off, taking the landing in a crouch as he peered into the Deepshadows, LMG at ready. The squad suddenly tensed as the marine on the ground exclaimed "sonofa" and that was all Fam had to observe before taking a step off the top, jumping out into the space behind the ladder and big pipe, he had take the quick way down the ladder, his HMG would be the only thing that could possibly let them get a footing from whatever lifeforms that were down there. Fam's jetpack fired as he neared the floor stopping the 20 foot fall cold as he hovered inches above the floor before touching down. For a second the situation was so bizare that it didn't comprehend to Fam as the cogs of his brain spun, then it dawned on him. "It's okay guys, he's a friendly...as far as we know"
Standing by a churning alien res node was Denelyp, he slowly swiveled to view the rather shaky marines pointing there guns at him "I presume that your commander...Mr. Lioc has taken the...pleasure..of letting you know that I was aboard, I'm going to require the assistance of you and your squad now Fam, we need to head to what your calling refinery as we have big plans..."
"Charlie I found your mystery man, suit and frickin all, he's right outside of tram tunnel with the rest of us, I guess were heading to refinery together"
Charlie paused, about to head thru the airlock with his squad and Nem, "Well do what he says, he outranks all of us", the only reply from Fam was a tough "affirmative" The airlock again strained on it's motor as it started to make it's rotation to main aft junction.
At that moment the motion tracking came on, and Charlie realized that they were probably screwed, on the main aft junction side of the airlock were roughly eight big blue circles. "Everyone behind me in a line, welders out, Nem get ready to hit that switch!"
The door finished it's rotation and a massive "wall of lame" was waiting for them. No one breathed as the offense chambers stirred, the spikes on them lazily swaying. The marines behind Charlie had their welders out and were concealed behind him, "Now Nem!"
The chambers perked as the vibrations caused by the sound of a jetpack thrusting caused them to zero in on the now visible target. Charlie opened up with his shotgun, and the chambers opened fire upon him instead of the lone Jetpacker trying to grab the switch. Globs of acid hammered his armour; Charlie kept firing as his HUD dropped the armour count down from 290 to 150. The acid rapidly ate away at the nanos in side his suit, but the armour count shot back up to 290 and stayed that way as four welders pumped fresh nanos into his suit. Just as Nem grabbed the switch and set the airlock again spinning he noticed a single egg behind the offence chambers, Nem jumped backwards and using his jetpack shot into the airlock as it rotated out of sight of the chambers. He gave a look at Charlie
"I saw that egg too Nem, but I wonder why the sieges didn't fire at the chambers, I hate that new siege software patch, they worked fine when they sensed stuff by themselves" [Think pre 1.04 seiges... man they were god
At the same time the airlock had just started it's first rotation, down by tram tunnel Denelyp was just headed towards one of the two small exits of the room that let right to the tram tunnel when the motion tracking snapped on. Fam spun around saw a horde of moving blue circles headed towards their location down tram tunnel. "Don't go out there, aliens incoming!" the man in the suit simply smiled and walked out into the tunnel, just as Fam and his squad settled into defensive positions around the entrances, they heard several alien aliens chuckle at once. All guns trained waiting for the aliens to kill that suicidal moron in the suit and come to there location, all the squad members knew they couldn't get up the ladder fast enough and that this was going to be there last stand. They watched as an pair of acid rockets flew into the ending wall of the tunnel followed by a hail of spikes, Fam said to his squad "well they've got at least two fades and a couple lerks, not to mention a skulk or two or five. That Comprox guy may not be exactly welcomed in the TSA but that's a crappy way to die"
Suddenly he heard screams, but not human ones. The circles in the corridor stopped moving, and one of the symbiotic guns that rested on the shoulders of a fade rolled into the room. It had been clearly ripped off and out of it's resting place, and the stomach of the fade was still attached. It thrashed for a second and then stopped moving. The only sound that could be heard was a faint tap tap of expensive shoes hitting metal, one by one they peaked out into the long corridor, just in time to see the Comprox guy step into the tram and keep heading on towards refinery, the remains of several fades and what looked like two lerks plus numerous skulk parts littered the tunnel. "That's damn well impossible!" was all Fam could think, when I voice hissed over his radio. "I asked that your squad assist me...are you coming or not?" before the radio communiqué cut out, Fam and his squad heard a relaxed sigh, and a faint chuckle.C
harlie and Nem both exchanged panicked looks as the airlock started to swivel.
"Markins! What is coming thru that airlock?!" Charlie spoke with a slight quiver. Seconds later there was a noticeable surge in energy and a pinging sound as the observatory concentrated nanites on that particular area. Concentric blue rings shot out from the area that was being scanned, and they would have been rather soothing to look at had Larkins not muttered the word "onos" thru the voice comm. Charlie spoke, back in base the soft whump of the sieges could be heard, firing at the chambers behind the airlock.
"You guys, get behind me and start welding, I should be able to block him from getting into base, Nem your grenades are the only thing that have a change of stopping this big ******, you up to it?"
Nem just nodded, Charlie positioned himself in the hallway leading to the base, the compliment of soldiers already behind him with welders out, the airlock slowly spun around, little did it know the death and destruction it was delivering to the marines. As the airlock finally complete it's rotation, several thousand pounds of kharaa bulk roared and charged towards Nem. He jumped into the air, his jetpack propelling him away from the reach of the onos. The beast turned around and charged up the hallway, only to run into Lioc. Charlie braced himself as the onos pushed him backwards, hitting at him the same time, The HA strained as it put every ounce of pressure into pushing back, but the onos was slowly winning the push. It reared its head and smashed into the suit again, but the armour shot back up as the terrified marines welded, showing a composure that only came with experience. Charlie looked the massive alien in the eye, and loosed his shotgun on its massive head plate. Bits and pieces of organic armour fell off as the pellets tore into the creature, after shooting five shells the onos reared again and charged back down towards the airlock, obviously angry. Nem was there to greet it with the a soft his off compressed air, several canisters shot out of the grenade launcher, propelled by the rushing air. The onos ran straight at him and again Nem jumped up with his jetpack. Charlie was slowly pressing forward but the strain of stopping the bulk of the level 5 in mid charge had borked one of the leg motors. The nanites were working furiously to repair it but his forward progress was slow. Nem was jumping around the room, leaving a blue trail of exhaust; the onos was spinning around trying to bite him, as he would zoom by. The time delay charges in the first set of grenades detonated, shaking the corridor, Nem had to quickly perch on the ledge by the airlock as he slammed another clip home. The onos, hurt and even more angered by the massive explosions around him rammed the wall below Nem. Again the jetpack flared to life as Nem zoomed around again, two grenades left the gun and flew at the onos. One of the grenades touched the onos, and upon contacting the bacterium that coated the thick skin, detonated, the other grenade sensing the explosion of it's mate followed suit. Shrapnel dug into the hide of the onos and penetrated deep, ravaging massive organs and slicing the creature's digestive sack open. Nem noticed that he was almost out of fuel, and dodged around the onos, he curved inside of the airlock, his head inches below the ceiling and he had planed to swoop up to the same ledge and get a small recharge, when the three tentacles on the back of the onos reared up.[Writers note: again think pre 2.0, my story has aged a bit... back to the action]
Nem realized his mistake far to late as the near invisible dart came into contact with his skin, instantly the neurotoxin went to work. Nem hovered for a second and then crashed to the airlock floor. The wounded onos looked and him sauntered over to the airlock switch, chuckling loudly it used its giant tusk to activate the airlock.
Charlie rounded the corner at that precise moment, and opened up with the shotgun, the onos simply ignored it and watched the airlock spin, Nem realized what was going to happen and screamed YOU **** and then threw his remaining clips of grenades at the onos, the launcher had two grenades left in it and Nem sent those the way of the creature, in return the onos sent another tiny dart flying into Nem. While all of this took place, the nanites were busy fighting their own microscopic battle against the paralyzing agent that was invading the body, they had removed the majority of the toxin when the second dart hit Nem, again flooding his system with it and locking all muscles it came into contact with down. The onos spun out of view as Nem let out an exasperated cry. The last two of Nem's grenades lazily rolled around the floor below the massive towering onos, they bounced off the loaded magazines that had been throw there, as the fuse's rapidly burned down. The onos spun around, to face Charlie. It growled and stamped one of its hoof's in preparation to charge. At that moment the timer ran out and the explosion of the two grenades underneath the onos also managed to perforate the grenades that lay dormant in their casings, the hot metal fragments bored into one of the grenades and set it off, this immediately set of the rest of the grenades in the clip. The fury of four more grenades exploding was more than enough to set of the other two clips of grenades, all of this happened in a matter of nano seconds. An onos may be a fearsome creature, but the fourteen grenades that simultaneously exploded underneath the gigantic animal easily ripped thru the layers of carapace and flesh, even the layer of amour on the animals other side proved little resistance as the energy of the grenades was transferred to the creature. Gibing it in a second, Charlie looked up at where the onos had once stood; all that remained was a massive head and the remains of some legs. Charlie only had to glance at the spinning airlock to figure out where Nem was.
"Scratch one onos Nem, you did good"
These words provided solaces to Nem as the airlock finished it's rotation. The offense chambers perked up and quivered for a second and then fired. Thankfully the pain only lasted until the acid [Writers note: think 1.04 turrets]
ate away his pain receptors, leaving him in a blissful stupor as his last thoughts were of his brother
"Damn, that's another we've lost on this godforsaken ship, after refinery hive goes down were out of here"
Charlie silently vowed to kill at least one more alien before he left.
"Markins, I'm headed to engine room I will take a look at the situation there and we can decide what to do"
Charlie headed towards the freight elevator, the remains of Nem's squad followed, Charlie turned "No boys, I'm headed there myself, I just need a little break to get things straight"
With that he activated the elevator, sending it lurching downward, but when it was halfway down he crouched and walked into the vent that was exposed. He turned and slowly clomped towards docking hydraulics.
Fam on the other hand was busy in Refinery; Denelyp had been implicit with his instructions to not shoot the hive or anything else in the room.
"Your group here has done...well...however I think it's fair for me to tell you the real reason why we needed the TSA here"
Fam stared at the man in the suit, he continued "you see that hive right there?" he gestured to the massive throbbing organ that hung from the ceiling of the refinery. "It's coming home with us...well actually...me" Denelyp smiled, an evil glint in his eyes "I need your squad to cover the entrances into this room for a moment, I'm afraid my work can't be interrupted. He turned and climbed the ladder that led to the round walkway close to the hive, Fam watched in apprehension as the man in the suit easily jumped 15 vertical feet up and 20 over, his jaw dropped to the floor as Denelyp landed softly on the hive, there was a pause and then over the radio "I need your two of your squad members there, two of them there, and you Fam, can you come here" he had been gesturing from atop the hive, and each spot he had pointed a waypoint appeared. "He's wired into the command network, that bloke is good" was all Fam could think as he trotted to his waypoint, a good 15 feet from being under the hive. Fam watched as Denelyp made an odd gesture at each off the tentacles supporting the massive hive, seconds later there was a bright light as the nano's constructed something at each location he had gestured to. "Mr. Markins, as you may recall there is a blocked build icon in the advanced build menu of your commchair. I'm opening that up, I need you to drop that lovely structure right about here" and with another four quick points at the floor there were four more glowing waypoints, forming a square underneath the hive. Seconds later there was the telltale thwunk of the nanites pulling together to create a structure and the tinkling of metal as it hit the floor. Fam was puzzled until he recognized the massive structure that lay under the hive. It looked exactly like an interstellar phase gate, but instead of passing massive ships thru, this one looked to be big enough to fit a hive. Fam jumped as the machine started to spark, it took him a second to realize that it was constructing itself. Then the massive machine shuttered and hummed to life. The members of Fam's squad glanced back at this new sound and turned to watch the entrances again. On top of the hive Denelyp simple strolled forward and onto thin air, except he was slowly coming down as if walking a down invisible stairs, as soon as he touched the floor he spoke "Fam, what does the number on your HUD say?"
The only reply that he got was "excellent" but in a much sinister tone that the question had been.
Fam glanced up at the hive, and glanced down at the suit wearing seemingly human who stood next to him, Fam noticed the watch he was wearing matched the suit, Denelyp pressed a button on the side of his watch and there were several sharp noises in unison. The hive roared and then suddenly all four tentacles snapped and the hive plummeted towards to the ground, but it never reached it as it fell right onto and thru the event horizon that was produced by the massive but still miniature version of the interstellar phase gate. There was a blinding flash and the hive was gone, instantly the gate started to recycle itself. Denelyp smiled "The Comprox division would like to...thank your squad...for assisting in the acquisition of this fine specimen"
Fam was quick to retort, "Like we had a choice"
"You can think what you want, but I can still reprimand you beyond your wildest dreams, you and your marine friends can feel free to leave this station" and with that he turned and away, as soon as he was out of sight they heard a distinct phasing sound.
"Markins, did you catch that, let's get ready to leave this mess of a ship"
"I hear you Fam, Lioc headed towards engine room but I can tell him we have the go to pull out"
There was a loud boom as Charlie inched out of the vent and into the main corridor that led to the engine room, there was a fork before you could go into the engine room and Charlie chose the left one. As he ka-chinked around the corner the hive came into view, thankfully the room was empty of aliens, and the motion tracking didn't detect any that were close enough to pose a threat. He paused, still in the left fork, he noticed the churning resource node that lay 10 feet in front of him, and the room was silent except for the squishing noises that emanated from the kharaa resource tower. He took another step forward but ran into an invisible wall. Puzzled he stopped for a second and started to walk forward again, bumping into the same wall. He froze and slowly extended his hand, after reaching out he ran into whatever was obstructing his path, he pressed against it, noting that it had some give to it, and even though his fingers were surrounded by nearly a centimeter of armour the nanites would convey the sense of feeling to him, and he could swear that whatever it was warm. As he continued to explore the invisible wall he became aware of a rhythmic sound of air being forced to move around. Charlie's eyes slowly grew wider as he realized what he might have his hand on, his fears where confirmed when he could feel a blast of warm air repeatedly hit his hand as he moved it down to find what could only be a bunch of teeth the size of a large fingers. Charlie jumped back and leveled his shotgun, but he knew it was a futile attempt, suddenly the hive was blocked out of view and replaced by a looming shadow, and as the onos took a step forward, Charlie heard a faint chuckle.
'm sooo ****ed it's not even funny" was all that could go thru Charlie's mind as the onos slowly became visible. The onos looked at him, sniffed him up and down, the shotgun in his hands shook as the massive Beast eyed him. The onos chuckled once more and then craned it's massive neck, looking back at the hive. Charlie had a clean shot at where one would think the creatures jugular would be located but he knew after the first shot he would be annihilated, or as the monstrous creatures had started doing, eating marines whole. The creature paused and glanced back at Charlie, then looked at the hive again. By this time the shotgun was at his side, knowing that he was at the mercy of the lvl5 he didn't bother fighting. What happened next surprised Charlie practically out of his heavy Armour; the creature sauntered backwards and then again exchanged glances at Charlie and the throbbing hive, then a disembodied voice surrounded him "This is my hive, there are many like it, but this one is mine"
Charlie jerked in shock and the onos again simple chuckled and plodded forward again this time licking the faceplate of the heavy Armour before turning around and sitting beneath "it's" hive. Charlie mumbled "umm, I guess I'm going to leave you with your hive and just... head that away..." he spun 180 and marched away from the engine room, catching a backward glance before the hive came out of view. The onos was on its feet again and was crashing it's head into the side of the ship, denting it badly with every blow the massive creature delivered to the hull. Charlie was halfway down the engine corridor when around the corner came a group of about three skulks, a lerk and a fade. Charlie instantly jerked the shotgun up, but the aliens paid him no heed as they ran right past him. This perplexed him even more, but he kept heading towards the main aft junction. He heard a loud roar and then inhuman screaming, and as he turned the corned to head up the stairs he paused, staring at the green blotch 10 feet above him on the wall, and the trail it left as it pooled to the floor, which lead to an even bigger spot. Suddenly it all clicked and Charlie immediately turned around and headed back towards engine room, where lots of alien screaming and roaring could be heard. Charlie was about to round the corner and come into view of the hive when what looked like the remains of a skulk came flying into the wall after a loud *Thwack* this was followed by another loud *Thwack* and a very alive fade followed suit, bouncing off the wall, it scrambled to it's feet, stared at Charlie and then disappeared in a buff of blue smoke. Charlie spun around frantically searching for where the fade had went, when he spotted two long legs sticking halfway out of a rather solid wall, leading to what would assuredly be the torso of the fade, and then nothing but wall, he laughed inwardly as he brought the shotgun to bear and shredded the half of the fade that was protruding[Writers note: think 1.04 blink...those were the days]
Charlie reloaded his shotgun as he walked towards engine room, and was nearly rammed by the lerk in hot pursuit, a single point blank blast of the shotgun put the creature out of his mind, amid all the green blood and gore, stood the onos. Charlie smiled at it, and gave it a nod before heading back to the base, and as he walked he kept hearing the loud reverberations of the onos again tearing at the hull. "Okay boys, lets get off this ship, now! I'm coming in and I want to be ready to leave as soon as this wall of OC's cleared out"
Seconds after he had spoken those words the familiar ping and blue circular surge appeared nearby the airlock as Charlie stood read to open the door and march up towards the entrance of the main encampment. In base as the Marines methodically packed up the sieges thwumped, clearing the structures that had been disastrous for one of his friends mere minutes ago. Denelyp stood watching as the marines prepared to exit Bast. "Need a lift?"
"Why...thank you Mr. Lioc, that would be...splendid indeed"
As the docking clamps deactivated and the marine ship departed the swung around, Markins summoned Charlie "uh dude, were picking up some interesting readings from the engine area of the ship, we're detecting massive o2 signatures, it's as if Bast has sprung a massive leak"
Denelyp who was seated markings took little to no haste in ordering the ship to swing by the source of the readings. No one was prepared for what they saw next, out of a huge hole in the side of the engine mounting drifted the onos, with the gigantic hive gripping it's back with the four tendrils, as if floated past the cockpit they could see the fluids boiling out into deep space from the onos, despite that it turned it's head and gave an unmistakable grin at the cockpit before suddenly it became a gestation form. The hive gripped the egg with its tendrils and continued to drift out into space.
It was at that moment Charlie noticed Denelyp reaching for the forward laser battery controls. "na ah ah, I don't think so scumbag, get your hand away from there" *click* as Charlie leveled his pistol straight at the man in the suit. Denelyp only smiled as he brought his hand back down to his side "Interesting choice Mr. Lioc...we shall see if it suits you"
Markins turned to Denelyp and said "man, shut the hell up, I'm getting us out of here" and with that they left the drifting hive far behind, although Charlie could tell that the Comprox man was angered at his inability to destroy the hive that was now floating adrift in deep space. Charlie went back to his quarters to catch a quick nap, still geared up. When he awoke he found himself on a small TSA standard four man shuttle, with Denelyp as the only passenger standing next to a glowing phase, thru the windows of the ship he could the walls of what appeared to be an extremely stable warp field glowing a deep lighting blue as the ship hurtled thru an intergalactic phase gate. Charlie started to speak but was cut off.
"Charlie Lioc in the flesh. Or rather, in the Heavy Armour. I took the liberty of relieving you of your weapons; most of them were government property. As for the suit, I think you’ve earned it. The N.c.c Bast, was in our control long enough to acquire the specimen, thanks to you. Quite a nasty piece of work you managed over there. I am impressed, That’s why I’m here, Mr. Lioc. I have recommended your services to my employers, and they have authorized me to offer you a job. They agree with me that you have limitless potential.
You’ve proved yourself a decisive man, so I don’t expect you’ll have any trouble deciding what to do. If you’re interested, just step into the phase and I will take that as a yes...