From The Shadows... (chapter 12)

BadMouthBadMouth It ceases to be exclusive when you can have a custom member titl Join Date: 2004-05-21 Member: 28815Members
edited November 2006 in Fan-Fiction Forum
<div class="IPBDescription">Pain</div>First and foremost, thanks to my editor SYPHON. This chapter is very important and expect to be shocked and saddened. It plays a very big role in the entire story. My exams are coming in two months time and I had better start revising. So I will not have enough time to write anymore. But don't worry. Chapter 13 is finished and currently being edited. I cannot garuantee when chapter 14 will come out so I ask you all to be patient. But don't worry. I will finish this story. Even though I feel that interest is waning for my story, judging from chapter 11.


<i>“Life sucks. All you can do is suck it all in”</i> – Captain Coleman

The skulks rushed Trent and Sid simultaneously. Two were on the ceiling and the remaining three came from the floor. Trent fired his shotgun at the skulks on the ceiling first. There was a loud retort as the shotgun fired, the noise echoing against the walls. The skulk fell to the ground with a wet smack and moved no more, blood slowly oozing out from its mouth. Sid took a shot at the other skulk on the ceiling but missed. However, due to the wide spread of the shotgun, three pellets penetrated the skulk’s leg and it gave a growl of anger. Sid fired again and this time, the skulk got a full blast of the shotgun. The skulk was blown backwards by a few feet and tumbled to the ground like a rag doll.

By then, the other skulks had already closed the gap between Trent and Sid. Trent grabbed Sid’s shoulder and jerked him back, just in time to narrowly avoid a skulk. Another skulk tried to jump at Trent but Trent obliterated it with two close range blasts. The last two skulks made a mad dash for Sid, biting wildly into the air. Sid panicked and fired off a few wild shots. He wasn’t looking at where he was shooting and one of the pellets hit Trent’s thigh. Trent felt his leg fail and he fell to the floor just as the skulks bit into Sid.

Sid howled in pain as the skulks bit into his chest. His arms lost all their power and his shotgun clattered to the floor. The skulks ripped Sid’s chest open and started feasting. Remarkably, Sid was still standing and he started taking a few steps forward. His legs were trembling and finally, he fell forward, his face hitting the floor with a loud bump. Sid was gone, never to walk again, never to talk again. The skulks crawled out of Sid’s bloody chest and turned to Trent. Trent was already getting back up but he had to use mostly his uninjured leg, the right one. With his back against the wall, Trent fired his shotgun.

Trent emptied the remaining five shots into a skulk. The skulk got its body ripped apart by the sheer force of the bullets. There was still one remaining skulk and it jumped at Trent. Trent instantly reached for his pistol and tried to yank it out. It was stuck. The skulk landed on Trent’s thigh and sunk its claws into his stomach. Trent felt the blades penetrate and he gasped at the sudden pain that followed. Trent gave up on trying to pull his pistol out. The skulk seemed to be grinning at Trent, baring its menacing teeth. Trent groped around and his fingers came into contact with the laser cutter just as the skulk clamped its jaws around his shoulder.

A scream was on the verge of spilling out of his mouth but he clenched his teeth together. His arm felt very heavy, like a log but he willed his hand to move. If he didn’t, there wouldn’t be much of him left to move. With enormous effort, he switched the laser cutter and swung it upwards, slicing directly into the skulk’s mouth. Yellow blood splattered all over Trent and a few droplets went into his mouth. The skulk seemed to freeze in its position, its limbs locked rigidly. Then, it just rolled over and fell to the floor. Trent spit the bitter tasting blood out and wiped his mouth with his uninjured hand. Lieutenant Lane dropped two med packs right next to Trent. With a grunt, Trent reached over and applied the med packs to his bleeding shoulder and stomach.

“Sir, Sid is down. I’m okay and the RT is also okay,” Trent reported. “Awaiting orders.”

“Weld the RT and wait for backup. I’m sending Jake down there, just to be safe. Just wait there,” Lieutenant Lane ordered.

Trent staggered to his feet and reloaded his shotgun. He walked to the damaged RT and pulled his welder out. The RT was badly scratched and one of its legs was lying a meter from it. Some wires were exposed and it kept giving noisy creaks but at least it was still working. Trent picked up the damaged leg and welded it back to the RT. He then proceeded to patch the RT up and within minutes, his work was done. Trent kept his welder and switched back to his shotgun. He turned around with the intention of looking out for any Kharaa. He saw a fade.

Trent automatically raised his shotgun. The fade raised its claw and slapped the shotgun upwards. The shotgun went off, blowing a hole in the ceiling and caused one of the panels to fall to the ground.

“What the hell are you doing?” the fade roared.

“Huh?” Trent said confused.

“It’s me! Jake! What the hell are you doing,” the ‘fade’ shouted.

Trent looked closely and was flabbergasted to see that it was really Jake. It was the lighting condition that made Jake look like a fade. A shadow had been cast over his face so he looked very much like a fade. Trent realized that he could have blown Jake’s face off if Jake hadn’t reacted fast enough Trent gave an embarrassed apology but Jake was a good sport and took it all in stride. Jake saw that Trent’s armour was badly damaged. Jake took the welder from Trent and helped to patch him up. Once Jake was done, he returned the welder to Trent.

“Let’s get out of here. I prefer to be with the group,” Jake suggested.

Trent nodded his head in agreement. “Fine by me.”

Both of them moved cautiously together, covering each other’s back. Trent was especially careful. He was not too eager to repeat another near death experience. Lieutenant Lane occasionally scanned the area for them but no Kharaa life forms showed up. After ten minutes of moving cautiously, Trent and Jake finally got back to nano-deconstructor. Trent was surprised to see a TF in the middle of the room, surrounded by six turrets. Lieutenant Lane normally didn’t lockdown normal RT locations so something probably spooked Lieutenant Lane.

“We lost another man,” Lieutenant Lane suddenly reported. “Hank got hit by a fade. Sam’s coming down to replace him. Sam is joining up with team two. Rudolph is joining team one. They should be there any second now.”

A few seconds later, Sam phased in. Lieutenant Lane had not supplied him with a shotgun, as they were currently low on resources. Team one waited for orders and finally, Lieutenant Lane told them to capture the RT at memory bank and meet up with team two there. The marines acknowledged the order and moved out. They stuck together closely and were extremely wary. Trent was leading the team while Jake stayed at the back to cover their backs. They were not too worried about the skulks as they had their shotguns and welder. It was the fade that made most of them nervous. Team one proceeded down a winding corridor and came to a ladder. The ladder was five meters high and falling from the top would definitely hurt. Lieutenant Lane scanned the area and it revealed a lerk at the top of the ladder.

The lerk realized that it had been seen and spored the top of the ladder before flying off. Trent waited for the spore to clear before climbing up. Lucas followed right behind with his shotgun slung over his back. Just as Trent neared the top, he pulled his pistol out and proceeded to climb with only one hand. When he reached the top, he scanned the area and saw that it was clear. He hoisted himself up and switched back to his shotgun. Trent was in an octagon shaped room that was the size of a badminton court. The ceiling had a thick, clear glass panel that revealed the deep blue ocean above them. Trent saw a huge whale-like creature swim past, leaving some sort of white trail. The sound of Lucas climbing up brought his mind back to the mission. Everything was clear so far.

As Lucas climbed up, Trent heard the sound of flapping wings. He looked around but could not see the lerk. The flapping sound got closer and closer and soon, it sounded like it was right next to him. Trent spotted a vent and guessed that the lerk was in there. He fired two shots, hoping to scare the lerk away. No such luck. The lerk flew into the room and released a cloud of spore before flying back into the vent. Trent fired another shot but the lerk was already gone. The spore stung his skin and Trent quickly retreated to a safe spot.

The rest quickly climbed the ladder and soon, they were all ready to go. Trent did a quick headcount to make sure everyone was there and then he waved them forward. They came to an upward slope with a few bodies. Most of the bodies were starting to rot and they gave off a sickening stench. Trent and Jake were already pretty much used to it already but the others gave looks of disgust.

<i>Click click click</i>

“Heads up people!” Trent yelled.

The clicking was coming from a vent shaft directly above them. Trent aimed his shotgun upwards and fired three shells into the vent, hoping that the pellets would puncture the vent. The clicking suddenly stopped. The marines looked anxiously upwards at the vent. There were a few holes in the vent and then, some yellow dripped through one of the holes. The other marines didn’t need any signal and they all opened fire simultaneously. The muzzle flashes lighted up the area and sparks flew from the vent as the pellets came into contact with it.

“Stop firing!” Trent ordered.

The firing slowly tapered off. The vent had numerous holes in it now and it looked ready to fall off. Yellow blood was now dripping steadily from the holes, creating quite a puddle on the floor. Trent wanted to be absolutely sure that the skulk was dead so he fired one more shot into the vent. That part of the vent collapsed and fell to the floor with the body of the skulk and a lot of dust spilling out of it. It was definitely dead, no doubt about that. The skulk’s stomach was almost split open by the pellets and its face was close to non-existent. It was Rudolph’s first time seeing a dead skulk up close and for a split second, Trent remembered the first time he saw a skulk.

“Keep moving. Team two is almost there. Pick up your pace,” Lieutenant Lane ordered.

Trent looked at his team and nodded in the direction of memory bank. Suddenly, Trent saw Jake and Lucas raise their shotguns at him. Trent was startled and his first reaction was to aim back at them. However, training told him something was wrong and immediately, he crouched, turning a hundred and eighty degrees around as he did so. He saw a fade, right behind him and it swung its claw just above his head. If Trent had been a second slower, his neck would most probably be broken. Trent fired two shots right into the fade’s chest, turning his face away as the fade’s sticky yellow blood splattered on his helmet. The fade did not seem to feel the shotgun blasts and brought a claw down onto Trent’s shoulder. The fade’s powerful blow knocked Trent to the floor and ripped a thin, but deep gash in the side of his arm.

Trent crawled to one side, holding his injured arm close to his body. The fade didn’t push its luck and it blinked out. Jake jumped over Trent and chased the fade, firing his shotgun as he ran, but gave up once the fade disappeared round the corner. Jake called for med packs and Lieutenant Lane dropped two. Trent did not want any assistance and applied the med packs by himself. However, he needed Jake to weld his shoulder armour as he could not reach that area. As Jake took the welder from Trent, Lombardi suddenly gave a yell. The fade was back, looking as menacing as ever. It loomed over them from the top of the slope and blinked down at them. Its claws slashed to the left and right, knocking Rudolph and Lucas over before they could even fire a shot.

Trent and Jake moved in different directions as they did not want to make it any easier for the fade. The fade chose Jake this time and turned its sinister eyes to Jake. The fade tried to stab Jake’s shoulder but Jake deftly stepped to the left and then, quickly stepped back to the right. Trent circled the fade and jabbed his shotgun into its back. The fade suddenly spun around, its arms spread wide. Trent felt its arm strike his chest and he was lifted clean off his feet. Trent hit the ground hard, the wind knocked out of him and his chest hurting like hell. The fade turned back to Jake and was greeted pleasantly by fourteen pellets to its head. It let out a roar of pain as its head snapped back from the shot. Jake fired once more and the fade staggered back, clutching its bleeding head. Jake was about to fire one more time when the fade did a sudden surprise attack. It suddenly straightened up and jabbed one claw into Jake’s stomach.

Jake’s eyes widened as the shock of it hit him. Jake staggered backwards and tried to take another shot at the fade. The fade moved faster and whacked the shotgun out of Jake’s hands. The monster stabbed Jake in the stomach again, this time penetrating the armour and slicing flesh. Jake fell down and curled into a fetal position, waiting for the end to come. It didn’t. Rudolph and Lucas had gotten back up ad had opened fire at the fade. Once the fade felt the stinging pellets hit its back, it blinked off again.

Jake was panting heavily, trying not to let the pain get to him. Trent knelt down beside Jake just as Lieutenant Lane dropped a few more med packs. Trent injected the nanites into Jake and he could see Jake’s stomach close up. Trent took a med pack for the pain in his chest and it faded quickly. Trent used his welder and started welding Jake’s armour.

“Damn. Hope that fade doesn’t heal too fast,” Trent commented.

“I sure as hell hope not. That one was too close. Way too close,” Jake said as he rubbed his stomach.

“Amen to that,” Rudolph agreed.

Lieutenant Lane cut in. He was slightly agitated already. “Move it people! If you could link up with team two, you would be a whole lot safer!”

Lieutenant Lane scanned the area to make sure it was safe and ordered them to hurry up. Team one reloaded as they went. They moved slightly faster and Trent did not stop to weld any vents shut. They had no time left. At the top of the slope, Trent saw that there was a cave-in. Chunks of concrete and steel blocked their path. Trent looked at his mini map to see if there was another way around it but the nearest alternative would mean adding fifteen minutes or more of walking time.

Trent felt Rudolph tapping his shoulder. Rudolph was pointing at a vent on the floor. Trent checked his map to see where it would lead and was pleasantly surprised to see that it lead to memory bank. Trent asked permission from Lieutenant Lane to proceed by the vents. Lieutenant Lane considered the alternative. The marines needed to press on quickly or they were sure to lose because the Kharaa had the resource advantage. Lieutenant Lane approved and ordered them to move their “slow-poke ****”.

Trent dropped to his knees and proceeded to climb through the ventilation shaft. It was dusty and had an old musty smell. Trent had to sling his shotgun over his back, as there was simply no room to aim for the shotgun. He had to use his pistol but even then, it was still hard to aim. His arms were tucked in and he could only use his wrists to aim. Trent didn’t like to crawl in vents. His last experience was not altogether very pleasant. Trent turned on his flashlight to help him navigate through the dark vents and occasionally checked his map to see how much further he had to go. He could hear Rudolph behind him panting very slightly. After while, Trent noticed that the ventilation shaft was getting increasingly steeper and steeper. Soon, Trent had to press against the sides of the vent to prevent himself from sliding backwards.

“Damn this thing. Since when is it supposed to go up?” Lucas complained.

“It’s not my fault if the map sucks. Just crawl a bit longer. We are almost there,” Trent said.

Finally, Trent saw the end of the ventilation shaft. He began to crawl faster, just wanting to get some fresh air. He was just a few meters from the vent opening when he heard the flapping noise. <i>Oh ****!</i> Trent thought. If the lerk knew they were in the vent, there were going to be screwed. Trent signaled team one to keep as quiet as possible. The flapping got closer and Trent held his breath, waiting to see what would happen. The lerk had landed outside the vent opening and the only sounds that could be heard were its footsteps.

The vent grating suddenly split into two and the lerk poked its head in. Trent started firing and emptied his magazine into the lerk’s head. The lerk jerked its head back in pain and screeched at Trent. Trent ejected the magazine and tried to reload as fast as he could. The small dimensions of the vent slowed Trent down. The lerk saw its opportunity and let out a cloud of spore at the marines. The spore began eating away the marine’s armour and their skin. With a cry of frustration, Trent gave up on the pistol and just let it drop. He started crawling to the lerk, trying to ignore the growing pain.

The lerk gave an evil chuckle that seemed so human and yet, so alien. Trent was infuriated by that simple chuckle. He did not like anyone to laugh at him, least of all a simple, useless lerk. The lerk let out another spore cloud, destroying the last of the marine’s armour.

“Can you bloody climb faster?” Jake shouted.

“I’m trying!” Trent shouted back.

He was getting near the end. Trent wondered why the lerk didn’t just fly down and bite his head off. Whatever the reason, the lerk was going to be sorry it didn’t. Trent fought against the increasing pain and pushed himself on. His skin was peeling off and as his flesh scraped against the floor, it felt like somebody rubbing a hot poker against it. Trent was only one meter from the lerk and began to reach for his shotgun. He tried to tug it out but it was stuck. He tried again and it finally came loose. The lerk saw the dreaded shotgun and its eyes widened.

“See how tough you are now,” Trent said mockingly as he pulled the trigger.

The pellets tore through one of the lerk’s wings, rendering it useless. Trent finished it off with another two shots. Trent pulled himself out of the vent and came out at a bend. His skin was starting to fall off, exposing the bleeding flesh. Trent called for med packs and Lieutenant Lane dropped eight. Trent applied one on himself and gave a sigh of relief as the pain disappeared. The rest slowly crawled out, groaning in pain. Trent reloaded his shotgun and stood guard as the others applied the med packs on themselves. Trent gave Jake the welder and told Jake to weld him first. Once that was done, Jake handed the welder back and Trent welded everybody else. He also welded the vent shut so that they wouldn’t have any skulks sneaking up on them from behind.

They were very close to memory bank, just a few meters away. The marines turned left and went down a straight passageway. They came to a shiny, well-maintained metal door, and Trent slid it open. He was greeted by the pleasant sight of team two waiting for them. Sam was there with them and he grinned at Trent.

“What took you guys so long?” Sam asked.

“A load of bad assed Kharaa got in our way,” Trent replied.

Memory bank was the place where all the computer memory was stored. Two-meter tall processors lined the walls and they made a low humming sound. Air conditioners hung from the ceiling, designed to keep the processors cool, or else they would overheat. Sam pointed out a panel on the floor to Trent and told him that the RT was underneath it. Trent tried to open it but Sam told him it had already been welded shut.

“We don’t have much time people. The Kharaa are already setting up a hive in decompression chamber four. We have got to take down computer archives before that hive goes up. Weapons level three is going to be completed around… now,” Lieutenant Lane said.

Ammo packs were dropped all around the marines. The marines quickly took the new ammo and replaced their old ones. Once everyone had finished reloading, they moved out of memory bank and towards computer archives. Pamela took the lead this time and Trent stayed at the back. Only a few hundred meters to go.


Marcus made sure he ended work early. He had to start getting his life back into order. Marcus checked that everything was all right with his secretary. The limousine was waiting for him downstairs and he reserved the entire restaurant. He had already changed into a fancy suit, made by the best tailor in town. The only thing that could go wrong was Kathy. He was hoping that she would accept him and forgive him.

He checked his watch and once the time was right, he got into the limousine. He had sent the roses the day before and he had made sure Kathy had received them. Amongst the roses was a note telling her of the dinner date he had arranged. Marcus had also sent her many gifts. They were not the expensive diamond rings one would expect but small items that had some significance in their relationship. As Marcus neared his destination, he checked his watch nervously for the tenth time in two hours. So far, everything was going according to plan. The limousine stopped outside the house and Marcus waited. He was five minutes early.

Kathy wasn’t at the door. <i>It’s okay,</i> Marcus thought. <i>I’m early. Of course she wouldn’t be ready yet.</i> Marcus waited for Kathy to come out. He constantly glanced at his watch, watching the second hand tick by. Time was going so slowly, as if making a mockery out of him. Even though the limousine had the air conditioner turned on, Marcus started to sweat slightly. Five minutes passed and still, there was no sign of Kathy. Marcus considered calling but thought that he had better wait for a while more. After all, women took really long to get ready. The seconds dragged by slowly and the tension mounted. Five minutes passed and Marcus started to get really worried. Marcus told himself it was only five minutes, nothing to worry about but that didn’t help. Five minutes dragged onto ten minutes and still, Marcus waited. Fifteen minutes… twenty minutes… thirty minutes… still no sign. Marcus sighed with disappointment. The message was clear. Just as Marcus was about to tell his chauffeur to drive off, Kathy came out.

She wasn’t wearing anything expensive, just a simple dress. However, just seeing her was enough to make Marcus smile. Marcus quickly got out of the car and walked up to her, beaming with happiness. Kathy was not as receptive as Marcus had expected her to be. She just brushed past him without a word and went straight into the limousine. Marcus thought, <i>At least she came out. That’s a start.</i>

The ride was quite awkward. Marcus kept trying to initiate conversation but it was a one sided affair. Kathy just looked out of the window and watched the world go by as Marcus kept talking. Finally, Marcus shut up and leaned back. He guessed he would have to wait until the restaurant. Ten minutes later, they reached the restaurant. It was the best in the city and Marcus had paid extra for perfect service. The team of waiters and waitresses stood in line outside the restaurant to welcome the VIPs but Kathy was not impressed. She just walked past them without a second glance. One of the waiters escorted them to their seats. The ambience was just perfect. The lights were low and slow, romantic music was being played in the background. A waiter placed two menus on the table and Marcus proceeded to flip through it, although he already knew what to order.

“The steak looks nice,” Marcus commented.

Kathy sighed. “You don’t get it, do you Marcus? Do you think I got charmed by all this? I didn’t come out with you to patch things up. Those days are gone, unless you can change.”

“Yes. I changed. But it is for the better. Now, we can live our lives the way we want. I got a stable job and all the money we need. We can provide for our kids if we get any and still have plenty for retirement. We can even take a long vacation now if you want,” Marcus said.

“It’s not that. It’s not the physical change I was talking about. You have changed and it’s not for the better. When you went up against Dan, you lost something inside of you. Before that whole mess, you were not like Dan. You were better than him. You knew what was right and wrong and I loved you for it. But now… you gave it all up. For what? Money? Power? Are all those things so dear to you that you give up your family and friends?”

“Money and power are secondary to me Kathy,” Marcus said. “Friends and family are more important. I still have many friends.”

Kathy shook her head. “Marcus, how can you be so naïve? Friends are friends. Business associates are something entirely different altogether. Even Philip is not your friend. He will feed you to the lions once you start to lose power. How many ‘friends’ do you really know?”

Marcus was about to answer but he realized he didn’t have any. He was all alone with no one to support him. That thought suddenly made him feel very small. He saw Kathy staring at him waiting for an answer. He remained silent. Kathy took it as an indication that she had managed to get her point across.

“See Marcus? You really are a lonely person. Think about what you want. When you straighten your life out, give me a call. Okay? Or if you choose to continue the life you are leading now, go find another wife,” Kathy said.

“Kathy, what do you want me to do? Tell me and I will do it,” Marcus said.

“You must find that out by yourself. Only then can you truly change. Now, I want to go home.”

She got up and walked back to the limousine. Marcus followed her dumbly. During the ride back, all was silent. Marcus didn’t bother to say anything. Both of them just stared noiselessly out of the window, watching the tall, cold and gray buildings flash by. He dropped her off without saying “goodbye”. Then, he asked his chauffeur to bring him back home. Once he got back home, he went to his study and sat down in his chair. Two palm tops lay on the table and one of them gave a small buzz. Marcus picked it up lazily and looked at the new message. Philip had sent him some reports that needed to be reviewed. Philip… his friend… or just another businessman looking out for nobody except himself? Kathy’s words echoed inside of his head.

Marcus looked at the empty house, so silent. Then, he looked at the palm top. He thought about Kathy’s words once more. He was feeling very confused, and lost. <i>How can I be lost? I control one of the most powerful companies in the world!</i> Marcus thought. Marcus wanted peace, that was all. His hands wrapped round the palm top and without warning, he flung it across the room. The palm top hit the wall and shattered into many small pieces. It was a mess. Marcus buried his face in his hands and wept for himself.


The marines were right next to computer archives and they could hear the hive pulsate sickly through the walls. They were in computer transfer, a large square room with quite a low ceiling. The ceiling was so low that most of the marines had to bend slightly to avoid knocking their heads against the ceiling. Thin, red wires zigzagged across the floor and the marines were careful not to trip over them. There were two doorways and a vent that led into computer transfer. Trent was currently welding the vent shut as fast as he could. Talos and Pamela stood guard at one door while Lucas and Sam covered the other one.

Talos was his usual cocky self, so sure that he wouldn’t get hit. And from what Trent had seen, maybe Talos did have that right after all. His cybernetic eye let him see where all the Kharaa were and he was always ready for them when they popped out. His incredible aim also helped too. Initially, Pamela was leading the squad. However, Talos found her too cautious and slow. It was only a matter of time when he got impatient and started complaining at their sluggish speed. Talos kept saying that the way was clear and that there was nothing in front. Pamela had countered his argument by saying that if the Kharaa were still, he would also not be able to see them, even with his motion tracking implants. Talos had scoffed at that idea and claimed that “those little buggers” never stood still.

Lieutenant Lane had told Talos to shut his mouth. Talos had followed that order for the next few minutes but suddenly, he started walking briskly. At that time, they were moving through a long and narrow passageway that had long, loose wires hanging down from the ceiling. Talos pushed his way pass Pamela and took the lead. Lieutenant Lane angrily ordered Talos to stick with the team. Talos ignored his orders and strode briskly to the end of the passageway. He was so sure of himself that he just rested his shotgun on his shoulder. Trent hoped that Talos was right and in the end, he was. No skulk dropped from the ceiling. No fade came and took his head off. He was safe.

“See?” Talos had said smugly. “Nothing.”

<i>The idiot is gambling with his life,</i> Trent thought. Gambling was a dangerous business and the house always wins. Pamela had walked past Talos and turned a corner. She was too disgusted with his arrogance and cockiness to tell him off. Most of the squad walked past him without a comment. Only one or two gave an angry stare at him. Talos was confused. He was standing there like an idiot, waiting for somebody to praise him for his right decision. Trent had something to say though.

“Do you know you could have gotten killed?” Trent asked angrily. “Your motion tracking does not detect stationary Kharaa so if they were camping, you wouldn’t be here right now. You would be lying in your own blood and frankly; I wouldn’t give a **** if it just affected you. But it doesn’t. If we want to live, we got to be a team.”

“I know what I’m doing. Relax. Nothing is going to happen,” Talos said lightheartedly.

“This is not some bloody simulation. Don’t you get that? When people die here, they don’t come back. You promised Klion that you wouldn’t be giving any more trouble. A real man keeps his word,” Trent said.

“I did. But he’s not here right now. So does it matter?” Talos asked.

Trent was furious. The ******* had promised Klion. Trent clenched his hands into fists and took a menacing step towards Talos. His rational mind told him that there was no time for this but anger shoved it out of his head. Talos could see what was coming but he stood his ground. Just as he was about to raise his fists, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to see who it was and saw Sam shaking his head. Trent understood and relaxed.

“Later,” Trent told Talos. “We will do this later.”

The marines went through a hundred meters of winding corridors. There were some deep scratches and dried blood on the wall. Trent thought he saw a nose but didn’t want to look closer. They had come to a cylindrical room with radius of approximately ten meters. The floor was rotating anti-clockwise and made a low grinding sound, like stone scraping against stone. Talos’ motion tracking had come in useful at that point. However, he did not tackle the situation the way Trent had hoped. Talos had simply pushed his way past Pamela and walked right into the room. Without even looking, he fired his shotgun to the wall on his left and then, swung it upwards and fired another shot. Trent heard a small squeal and saw two skulks drop dead onto the floor.

“Area clear,” Talos said smugly.

Trent didn’t argue with Talos. Partly because it was not the right place or time and partly because Talos had saved them a lot of trouble. The squad continued to progress through the facility with their slow but steady pace. Trent took a glance at the two dead skulks and noticed that all the shotgun pellets had hit perfectly. It took them another five minutes to get to where they were currently, computer transfer.

Lieutenant Lane wasted no time and dropped a phase gate and turret factory. Trent, Lucas and Rudolph started working and soon, both the turret factory and phase gate were completed. Another blip appeared on the marine’s HUD as their armour got upgraded. Trent noticed Talos was moving towards one of the doors.

“What are you doing? Get back here,” Trent ordered.

Talos raised his index finger to his lips and pointed in the direction of the hive. Trent shook his head vigorously. The hive was one of the most dangerous places and he didn’t want Talos to get hurt. Talos saw Trent shake his head but he gave a defiant grin and turned the corner. A split second later, the grin was wiped from his face. Trent saw Talos raise his shotgun but he wasn’t fast enough to squeeze the trigger. Talos was flung backwards and he hit the wall with a dull thud. Trent could not be sure if he heard something break.

A fade came into view and the marines immediately opened fire. Only a few shots hit the fade and they were mostly Sam’s. The fade blinked to the left and then to the right, zigzagging all the way to the marines. Trent tried to get a shot but the fade was too fast. Before he could even blink, the fade was already in front of Pamela and it threw her against the wall. Trent tried to get a shot while the fade was still but the fade had already anticipated his movements. The fade gave Trent a brutal kick in the stomach. The breath was knocked out of Trent as he fell to the floor.

Rudolph and Jake fired simultaneously at the fade’s head. The fade roared at them and charged towards them with its arms wide open. It knocked both of them down with one fluid motion. It jabbed its left claw into Rudolph and its right claw into Jake. Lucas had fired all eight shells, most of them missing, and he whipped out his pistol. He steadied the pistol with both hands and took aim. He squeezed the trigger and this time, he did not miss. Ten bullets hit the fade’s chest, splattering yellow blood all over Rudolph and Lombardi. That got the fade’s attention. The fade went right up to Lucas and brought its claw down onto his right shoulder in one vicious stroke. Lucas howled in pain as he felt his bone break. Before the fade could do any more damage, Sam stepped between the fade and Lucas. Sam fired fifteen bullets from his LMG, drilling holes into the fade’s body.

Blood gushed out from the fade’s stomach and spilled onto Sam. Sam got ready to fire one more shot but the fade bent down and stabbed Sam’s foot. The fade turned and blinked back to he hive, leaving half the marines wounded. Trent got back to his feet and grasped his shotgun. Trent started to walk towards the wounded marines but some sixth sense made him whirl around. Two skulks were trying to sneak up on him. Trent blasted one even before it had time to respond. The other skulk ran onto the wall and then jumped onto Trent’s face.

Trent yelled in surprise and tried to pull the skulk off with his hands. The skulk just gripped tighter with its claw. Trent felt one of its claw cut into his neck and blood trickled down his uniform. The skulk’s jaws had found its way around Trent’s helmet and it bit down. Hard. Trent screamed as shards of glass went into his eye. He reached for his laser cutter and pulled it out. He swung his laser cutter upwards in a smooth arc and cut the skulk into two. Trent would not have done that if he had known how close he was to cutting his own nose off.

His eyes burned with pain, as if they were hot coals. Trent could hear med packs being dropped around him and he groped around blindly, trying to find one. From somewhere behind him, he could hear a groan of pain. Trent found one med pack and fumbled to open it. He opened it the wrong way and its contents spilled out all over the floor. Trent gave a frustrated yell and felt for the needles. Then, he heard Sam’s voice next to him, telling him to relax. A needle was slid into his neck and he could slowly feel the pain go away.

“Open your eyes Trent,” Sam said. “It’s not going to hurt so much now. I injected you with the morphine so don’t worry.”

Trent did as he was told. It still hurt a little but Trent forced himself to open his eyes. He could not see anything with his right eye and his left eye just gave him a very fuzzy view of the world. Trent saw Sam reaching towards him and there was a sudden burning **** in his eye. Trent gave a yelp of pain and twitched slightly.

“What the hell?” Trent asked.

“I had to get rid of the shard,” Sam explained. “You can’t have your eye healed with a shard of glass in it. Now hold still. There’s one more.”

Trent felt another **** of pain, this one much more painful than the last but he kept quiet this time. Sam finally injected the nanites into him and his eyesight was slowly restored. Sam took Trent’s hand and pulled him to his feet. What happened next would forever be etched in Trent’s memory, never to be erased. It would haunt him for the next few months.

The fade had blinked back in. Trent saw it but the fade was too fast for the marines to do anything. Sam reached for his LMG but the fade got to him first. Its evil, yellow eyes stared right into Sam’s eyes. It raised its claw and aimed for Sam’s neck. Sam managed to turn and pull the trigger. The claw came down. From Trent’s point of view, it moved so slowly. Trent tried to push Sam away but his arms were sluggish and heavy. Trent watched in mute horror as the claw came into contact with Sam’s neck. Trent heard what seemed to be the loudest snap in his life. Sam’s eyes went wide with shock and his body collapsed to the floor. The fade stabbed again, even before Sam’s body hit the floor. The claw cut through Sam’s neck, splattering blood everywhere. Trent remembered the glazed look on Sam’s face as his head came off his body.

The moist droplets of blood landed on Trent’s face. That kick started his brain back into action. His body seemed to go into automatic mode. His shotgun was suddenly raised and his finger was pulling the trigger as fast as it could. Pellets drove into the fade’s back. The fade whipped around and tried to strike Trent down. Again, Trent felt his body react automatically. He was feeling very detached from his body, as if he was an entity hovering above the entire scene. Trent fired another shot but he was not looking at the fade. He was looking at Sam.

It was weird. Sam was lying on the floor and not doing anything. <i>He should be getting up,</i> Trent thought. <i>Why doesn’t he get up?</i> Trent could see that Sam was injured but he didn’t think it was a life threatening injury. With modern science, it shouldn’t be too difficult to screw that head back on. Trent suddenly felt a smack against the side of his head and he was thrown back to the ground. There were lots of gunfire in the background but Trent paid no attention to it. His eyes were fixed on Sam. <i>Get up Sam! If you lie down there like that, you are going to get killed!</i> Trent thought. He crawled over to Sam’s head and noticed how… dead it was.

<i>No! He can’t be dead. Sam’s my best friend! Stop thinking stupid thoughts,</i> Trent scolded himself. All he needed to do was get Sam to some medical facility. Or Timothy and Nora. They could fix anyone up.

“Trent?” someone asked from behind. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. But Sam needs a doctor. We need to get him back to the Forger,” Trent said urgently.

“Trent. I know he was your best friend. But he’s… gone now. We got more serious business to attend to. Get back… Skulks!”

More gunfire could be heard and Trent was faintly aware of the empty shotgun casings that were falling on his head. When the gunfire stopped, a hand caught hold of his armpit and hoisted him to his feet. Trent looked around and noticed Jake and Pamela were looking at him with concerned looks.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Trent asked. “Help Sam! He’s the one that needs help.”

“Trent. Sam’s dead. He’s not coming back,” Pamela said gently. “Let it go. We need you now. We need to you to focus.”

“Dead?” Trent repeated, shocked. <i>That can’t be? How can it be? We went through so much together. He can’t be… dead.</i>

That word sounded obscene in his head. It was suddenly the most disgusting word Trent had ever known. Slowly, Trent began to see again. The curtain of delusion was pulled back and he saw everything. His best friend was lying on the floor; his head detached from his body. Everything was not okay. Everything was wrong. Sam could not be fixed and it was the bloody Kharaa’s fault. Trent had just lost another good friend, the best. <i>They are going to pay,</i> Trent thought, livid with rage. <i>Those *******s are going to pay!</i>

Most of the marines were back on their feet, thanks to the insane amount of med packs Lieutenant Lane had to drop. The siege turrets were already up. Lieutenant Lane scanned the hive and the three sieges immediately fired their sonic rounds. Trent gripped his shotgun and walked into the hive. He did not hear Jake calling him to come back or more precisely, he chose to ignore Jake. Computer archives was huge with huge computers along the walls. The floor was damp and small pools of water had collected at random areas.

The hive was right in the middle of the room, hanging from the ceiling. A gorge was underneath it, healing it as fast as it could. A second round of sonic booms hit the hive. Two skulks and a fade were standing around the hive. They had noticed Trent and had already started moving towards him. Trent stared furiously at the fade and tightened his grip on his shotgun. One of the skulks tried to sprint towards Trent but one shotgun shell took it out quickly. The fade blinked upwards to the ceiling and while it was still in mid-air, it blinked downwards. The fade had become a black blur, speeding towards Trent.

The anger in Trent’s veins had heightened his awareness and reflexes. He let out a roar of intense fury and fired his shotgun. Trent rolled to the side just as the fade landed. The fade had struck its claw into the ground, where Trent had been just seconds before. Trent fired his weapon again, as fast as he could. Three shots went right into the fade and Trent felt a warm sense of satisfaction flood through him. However, the sensation was short lived. The other skulk had sunk its razor sharp teeth into his ****. There was no pain. Trent was already full of it. The pain had all turned into raw, seething fury. Trent gave an animalistic growl and reached for the skulk.

With a wrench, Trent tore the skulk free and tossed it onto the ground. He then proceeded to use his shotgun to bash the skulk mercilessly. All he could think of was revenge. His arms worked tirelessly, going up and down, bringing the shotgun onto the skulk again and again. When he finally stopped, the skulk was just a sickening mess of flesh and bone. It was a pile of mush. Trent looked up and saw the fade towering over him. Trent stared back defiantly.

Suddenly, Trent saw a pair of arms wrap round the fade’s neck. The fade gave a confused growl and turned around. Trent saw Jake clinging on for dear life onto the fade’s back. In Jake’s left hand, Trent could see the glint of a steel blade. Jake stabbed the fade in the head. While the knife was still in the fade’s head, Jake gave the knife a twist and yanked it out. The fade howled in pain and collapsed to its knees. Jake jumped off the fade’s back and landed deftly on his feet. Trent raised his shotgun and pressed it against the fade’s temple.

“So long ****,” Trent said bitterly.


The fade’s head disappeared in a cloud of yellow blood. Trent stood triumphantly over the fade’s dead body. But there was no sense of relief. Sam was still dead and he could do nothing about that. Trent was still powerless over the matters of life and death. He was angry with himself, angry with the Kharaa, angry with everybody. Life was unfair. Life was ****.

The firing of the siege turrets brought Trent back into reality. The ugly abomination that was the hive still hung from the ceiling. Trent grabbed his laser cutter and started hacking at the hive. The other marines had come into the hive room and they watched silently as Trent hacked relentlessly at the hive. Rage and pain had taken hold of him and it was not wise to interfere. Trent saw a skulk coming out from the hive. Before it could open its eyes to the world, Trent sliced it into two and tossed it away. With one final hit from the siege turrets, the hive exploded. Trent let the yellow, sticky blood splatter against him. When he turned around, his teammates could see that he was no longer Trent. He was Death.

“Where is that other hive?” Trent asked.


The next hour was one of the bloodiest the squad had ever seen. The only good news was that most of the blood was not coming from their side. After they had destroyed the hive at computer archives, Lieutenant Lane had asked them to phase back to base. Both the RTs at central control and checkpoint nineteen were down. Both were the work of skulks that had attacked when the marines were sieging the hive. Trent and Talos were leading the team. Trent, with his unmatched fury, and Talos, with his motion tracking ability and uncanny aim, made it extremely difficult for the Kharaa to do any serious damage.

The marines recaptured both of their RTs back but had met up with quite some resistance. Skulks had swarmed them, trying to keep them back. Everyone had sustained some sort of injury from the horde of skulks but med packs and constant welding healed them quickly. Soon, everyone had their armour scratched and a parasite sticking out of it. However, it was impossible to hit every skulk every time perfectly. Alan got hit by some skulks that were lying in wait at the officer’s lounge. The marines managed to kill them but not before they had broken Alan’s knee and shredded his thigh. He had to be transported back to base and Kael had to replace him. By that time, armour level two was up.

Trent was no longer the same as before. The loss of Sam had spawned a hatred for the Kharaa. A raw, burning hunger for revenge and vengeance that could never be satisfied. The pain in his heart was like a bottomless pit and nothing could fill it up. Every time, he saw a Kharaa, he would unleash his anger. Hardly any skulk escaped his shotgun and even when the skulks were dead, Trent would continue blasting the corpse until it was beyond recognition. He no longer cared about what Talos was doing or how the team was doing. All he was concerned with was inflicting as much pain onto the Kharaa as possible. His teammates felt the change and were somewhat wary of him. They were not fighting alongside Trent anymore. They were fighting with death.

Once, they had come across a gorge. Trent had shot it till it was within an inch of its life but he did not end its misery. Instead, he kicked it continuously, enjoying the feel of soft flesh against his boot. The gorge died screeching with pain. Trent had wanted the gorge to suffer as much as possible. Talos would cover Trent as best as he could and he loved it. He loved being in the heat of battle, loved being in front. They were no longer moving slowly but quickly. Talos slaughtered skulk after skulk and kept searching for more. Before long, both Trent and Talos were drenched in sticky yellow blood. Two powerful warriors, fighting with the same intensity but for different reasons.

Within minutes, they were at launching pad four, right next to decompression chamber four, which was where the hive was. The ceiling was partially collapsed and some water was dripping from it. A rather dirty looking puddle had formed around the marine’s feet. There were a few glass panels on the wall that showed the deep blue waters outside. Rust could be seen creeping in around the edges and on several pipes. The marines spotted three OCs on the pipes that hung from the ceiling. Trent didn’t bother analyzing the situation and charged forward. Talos followed eagerly behind. Lieutenant Lane was shouting at Trent through the comm-link to wait for the orders but his orders fell on deaf ears. Both of them managed to wipe out all three OCs by themselves. Trent noticed that some spikes had penetrated his armour and cut his skin slightly but that did not bother him one bit.

“Trent,” Jake said. “You have got to stop this. This charging about is not doing anyone any good. You are just going to get yourself killed.”

“I know what I’m doing. Now let’s whack the hive and kill some **** skulks,” Trent replied gruffly.

Trent climbed a ladder and went into decompression chamber four. The rest could not let him go alone and just had to follow him. Two eggs pulsated underneath the hive and looked ready to hatch. Before Trent could shoot them, they burst open, revealing two slime-covered lerks. They spread their wings and took flight. Both lerks let out clouds of spore, filling the chamber with the green corrosive gas. Lieutenant Lane asked them to retreat back to launching pad four. The marines began to fall back, with the exception of Trent and Talos. Both of them were firing at the lerks, determined to send them to hell.

Pamela saw a skulk on the ceiling right above Talos. She started to shout a warning but there was no need for it. Talos already knew it was there and shot it without having even to look. The spore burned through their armour and slowly ate their skin. They did not feel the pain. They were in a world of their own. A world where everything was blood.

“Trent! Retreat! Follow Lieutenant Lane’s orders!” Pamela shouted. “Both of you are going to get killed.”

“I can take care of myself,” Trent said calmly as he reloaded his shotgun. “Don’t need to worry.”

One of the lerks suddenly swooped down at Trent. Trent ducked just in time and pulled the trigger twice as the lerk flew over him. The lerk was slightly injured and wobbled in mid-air but managed to stabilize itself. It flew back to the hive and landed on top of it. The other lerk tried to take Trent’s head off but Talos took care of it with just one well aimed shot to the head. The lerk’s dead body spun in mid-air and flopped to the ground like a doll. The remaining lerk let out another cloud of spore from the top of the hive.

By then, Trent’s armour was gone and his uniform was also starting to burn. He began to really feel the effects of the spore and so did Talos. Lieutenant Lane dropped four med packs around them. Trent applied the med packs onto himself while Talos covered him and after Trent was done, Talos applied the med packs on himself.

There were three sudden explosions. Trent saw the sonic blasts hit the hive and understood what was happening. The sieges were up. This gave Trent newfound energy and with a yell, he ran towards the hive, firing his shotgun as fast as he could. A skulk tried to sneak up on him from his left but Trent’s keen eyes didn’t miss a single thing. Trent swung his shotgun to his left just as the skulk jumped at him. Trent pulled the trigger and the skulk’s corpse flew backwards. Trent turned back to the hive but suddenly, the energy in his right leg seemed to disappear. Trent fell to the ground and his face smacked the bacterium on the floor. Trent let out a grunt of pain and turned to look at his leg.

A skulk was gnawing at it and had already broken the bone. It was only then did Trent feel the pain. The pain shot up from his leg to his entire body and he fought the scream that was building up in his throat. There was no way he was going to let that blasted skulk hear him scream. Instead, he was going to make the skulk scream. Trent used his laser cutter to cut the limbs off the skulk. The skulk howled with pain as it rolled onto the floor, blood flowing from where its limbs used to be. The skulk writhed in pain on the floor but there no sympathy in Trent’s eyes. Instead, there was malicious pleasure in seeing the skulk suffer.

Trent didn’t kill the poor beast. He just let it lie there to die slowly with the pain. The other marines were coming in now and blasting away. Trent was suddenly overcome with exhaustion and he just lay down where he was. All that had happened weighed down on him, pressing him down. Trent only watched what was going on. Talos was a killing machine, blowing skulks up like they were only rats. Everyone else was shooting the hive. The hive exploded in less than a minute and the marines cheered. Talos cheered the loudest. Talos reminded Trent of the old Greeks he had seen in history books, covered with blood and weapon held high above his head.

Med packs were dropped for everyone. Jake went over to Trent and applied on one on him. Trent just sat there stupidly and stared into space. All the mental and physical stress was crashing in on Trent. Jake helped Trent up. They needed to get back to the <i>Forger</i> to fix that broken bone. The <i>Forger</i> was in the facility within minutes. Trent had to be helped on board the ship together with Lucas, who also needed assistance. As they went onboard, they saw Cissy and the rest of the squad waiting there. Timothy and Nora had a stretcher ready. Trent was put on the stretcher and lifted into the <i>Forger</i>. Nora sprayed him down with the can of nanites and she did the same with everybody else.

Cissy looked for Sam but could not find him. She began asking where Sam was but nobody had the heart to tell her. Finally, she went up to Trent and asked him. Trent saw the desperate look in her eyes and couldn’t bring himself to say it out loud. He just shook his head solemnly. Cissy’s eyes brimmed with tears and she just stood where she was, trying to control the wave of emotions. As Trent was being carried to the infirmary, he heard her give a wail of anguish. Trent began to weep for his friend.


  • monk3ymonk3y Join Date: 2003-10-30 Member: 22139Members
    oh no.. Sniff ... Poor Sissy.. sam died....

    oh man.. Why can't alan take sam's place??

  • BreakthroughBreakthrough Texture Artist (ns_prometheus) Join Date: 2005-03-27 Member: 46620Members, Constellation
    Wow... That was deep, man... Very sad chapter, and moving, also... I don't know how you do it, but through your writing, you can establish what the characters are feeling inside the reader.

    It's amazing, and I hope you don't stop writing (no matter the subject).
  • BloodBallBloodBall Join Date: 2003-07-11 Member: 18098Members
    “We lost another man,” Lieutenant Lane suddenly reported. “Hank got hit by a fade. Sam’s coming down to replace him. Sam is joining up with team two. Rudolph is joining team one. They should be there any second now.”

    A few seconds later, Hank phased in.

    He died and phased in at the same time! HAX!

    Another great chapter, keep it up.
  • BadMouthBadMouth It ceases to be exclusive when you can have a custom member titl Join Date: 2004-05-21 Member: 28815Members
    Yeah. Edited it. Thanks bloodball. One of my objectives of writing this series is to bring readers on an emotional ride, where they can relate and feel what the characters are feeling. I hope I have been doing a good job so far.
  • Fire_EelFire_Eel Join Date: 2003-08-19 Member: 19950Members
    Excellent work. This is quite potentially one of your greatest chapters, and definitely the most emotional of all. Wasn't quite expecting Sam to die though... <!--emo&:(--><img src='' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad-fix.gif' /><!--endemo-->
Sign In or Register to comment.