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They Came from the Darkness

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  • They Came from the Darkness

    "Personal Log: Lieutenant-General Clark has tasked me with moving to Research and Mission Command post-38 to perform a search and retrieve mission, while he takes another force on patrol. We are to locate and secure research data on a hitherto unknown alien civilisation. Our mission is complicated by a lack of data on the situation at RCMP-38. As of 6 hours ago, we lost all contact with the outpost..." - Sergeant Michael Weaver, GCPS, 3rd Squad, Outpost-Delta-NW29


    Research and Mission Command post-38 was a charnel house. Blood slicked in great pools along the metal decked floor and splattered up the walls. The bodies of dozens of civilian research and corporate command staff lay scattered about, butchered at their posts or slaughtered as they tried to run for cover or flee the facility. Many had been gunned down from behind as they ran, but more by far had been eviscerated, rent limb from limb or otherwise torn apart.

    Sergeant Weaver led his men slowly and cautiously into the facility, his squad spreading out behind him. Scorch marks and shell holes pock-marked the walls and spent shell casings lay discarded in the rapidly cooling pools of blood. Civilian issue weaponry. Whatever they had been fighting here, it hadn't been enough to hold it back, or by the looks of it, even slow it or make a dent.

    With a small gesture, Weaver ordered his squad to fan out. "Stay sharp everyone, stay on your guard. Doesn't look like this happened too long ago, we don't know if whoever did this is still around."

    "Who...or what?" whispered Private Lowe, her voice low and her weapon held ready as she canned the corners of the room, though her gaze couldn't help but drift back to the mutilated corpses "I mean...these guys were torn apart, whatever did this, it wasn’t human..." she continued with a hint of fear in her voice.

    "Ok, that's enough. Stow it Lowe. I want everyone on Guard. Lowe, as you're so keen to find out what did this, you have point. Move it people!" Sergeant Weaver hissed.

    "Sarge!" Called out Private Hudson "I've got movement, back of the complex and closing."

    "Confirmed." called out James Burton, the Engineer attached to them for the mission "Multiple contacts, closing fast."

    "It's a big signal. Oh man...they're everywhere..." Hudson continued, scanning the darkness with his rifle."

    "Alright everyone, take up firing positions and get ready. But check your targets! They might still be friendlies..." Sergeant Weaver said, dropping into cover beside some boxes and crates that had been torn open. Around him, other troopers, multi-year veterans all, fell into positions of cover with wide firing arcs of the main concourse. The Rangers, Wilson and Kiebler faded into the darkness on either flank, ready to try and encircle and counter-ambush whatever was rushing them.

    "CONTACT!!!" Yelled Private Wes Baski and began firing as something broke from the darkness.

    It was a hunched shape, between 4 and 5-foot-tall, roughly in the shape of a man, but with a slouched posture and an elongated face that ended in whiskers and muzzle. Its body was covered in dark brown fur and it sported a long, pinkish tail.

    Veermyn.

    They'd fought this particular threat before, under General Kleiner's Reclamation and pacification of Starfall some weeks earlier.

    Baski's rounds took the Verman in the shoulder, spinning it around and staggering it, but not dropping it. From her vantage point flanking Baski, Ranger 1st class Kiebler added her fire, bolts of energy punching the Verman in the knee and leg, sending it sprawling tot he ground, dazed.

    Sporadic fire erupted up and down the line as more Veermyn burst from the darkness. Private 1st class Sidford made three quick short bursts, two of them missing before the third just clipped a Verman’s hip, ending it crashing into a pile of crates, wounded but not downed, a data pad skittering out of its hand. The creature dove for it, scrabbling it back up before retreating back behind cover, more fire from Sidford and Sergeant Weaver pursuing it.

    Weaver sighted down his gun and pulled the trigger again as another Verman broke from the cover of darkness, but his rounds went astray and he cursed as the Verman disappeared again into the shadows of a stairwell.

    "We can't let them loot the compound!" He cried out over the gunfire. "Moy, Baski, Kiebler, Wilson, move up to encircle them and cut off their escape. Hudson, Issacs, Shipmann, Burton, with me, up the centre. Everyone else, lay down covering fire!"

    Responding to his orders, the Ranger second class Thomas Wilson moved up the flank, pulling himself up into an office cubicle and using the walls for cover. Standing on the desk so he could sight over it, he opened fire on a Verman that was running past on the Concourse below. Bolts of orange-red energy burst through the office windows, shattering them in a hail of glass as bolts rained down on the mutant rat-man. However, with in-human agility, the creature danced through the hail of glass and fire, before turning and firing back, its weapon spiting bright green globs of corrosive energy. Wilson threw himself flat behind the cover and rolled off the desk with a thud as the bolts struck the cubicle wall, beginning to melt and burn through.

    Private Moy skirted up, dropping into a crouch behind an overturned food trolley and taking aim, sent a short burst at the downed Verman that was trying to rise. The Vermans head burst like an overripe melon as several caseless, explosive tipped rounds impacted and hammered into it.

    Sergeant Weaver thought he saw something large moving in the shadows and let off two bursts at it before it disappeared around a corner. He couldn't be sure he'd wounded it, or even if he'd hit it, but he didn’t have time to ponder it as from the Darkness erupted what looked like a swarm of rats, but with a larger mass on its back.

    A Tangle. Sergeant Weaver had faced these psychic abominations before.

    Raising his gun, he sent a blast of fire at it, but to no discernable effect. Seeing the creature emerge from the darkness, two other veterans, Sidford and Shipmann also both opened fire. Like Sergeant Weavers had been, Shipmann’s fire was largely ineffective, glancing off the Tangle, but Sidford’s was better, his shots blasting apart several of the rat swarm moving it forward.

    Spotting a data pad in the hands of a dead technician on the floor of the concourse, Moy darted forward and quickly scooped it up, before pausing to blast a few rounds into the darkness as she fell back towards cover. Nearby, Hudson switched from firing suppressive fire into the darkness and leant his weight of fire at the Tangle, to uncertain effect. The Veermyns psychic abomination was proving an effective fire soak and allowed several Crawlers and Stalkers to move up, pressing forward into cover unhindered. One or two however had taken grazing wounds, and as one of them limped towards cover, Private Issacs pulled himself up onto a ledge and sighted, taking a short-controlled burst at it and blowing its chest cavity to red ruin as all his rounds found their mark.

    Issacs smiled grimly and turned his attention to the Tangle, firing several rounds into the Tangle and blowing chunks out of it, but not stopping its implacable advance. Meanwhile, the rest of the Veermyn horde closed in...

  • #2
    Private Lowe dashed through what appeared to be an executive’s office and into a darkened store room behind it. Her feet nudged bodies, or at least parts of bodies on the ground, and she found herself thankful for the darkness so that she could not see the true scale of the carnage that had been perpetrated here. Feeling around on one of the shelves, she found a data pad and hurriedly stuffed it into one of her uniform pockets, before pushing the door release on the far side of the room, working into a flanking position of the Veermyn horde in the concourse. 'Of course...' she thought 'doesn't help if they flank ME!' as she felt a tingle of apprehension run down her spine and she started checking her back, playing her flashlight over the store room. Satisfying there were no Veermyn there, though now able to see the true scale of the devastation released there she hurried back towards the office to lock the door. Better safe than sorry.

    Outside, the steady 'thump', 'thump', 'thump' of a grenade launcher could be heard as either Corporal Brandt or Hemmer moved up with their grenade launcher and added its considerable fire-power to the fray, in an attempt to halt the advance of the Tangle. The trio of grenades landed around the Tangle, finally pinning it down as the rats carrying it were tossed about like rag dolls and thrown everywhere by the triple detonations. The high-pitched snap-hiss of a small arms pistol added to the noise as either the Medic Dusku or the Engineer Burton began picking off the stunned rats with precise shots before they could recover. The Tangle was finally finished off as Sergeant Weaver emptied the last of his clip into it, blasting great chunks of it to pieces until his rifle ran dry. Casting the spent weapon aside, he pulled out his service pistol and finished it off with a few well-placed shots.

    With a roar a Nightmare burst from the darkness, flanked by two Night Terrors.

    "Watch Out!" Cried Engineer Burton as he sent several rounds off at the Nightmare with his pistol, though each plinked or ricocheted ineffectually off its armour. His fire was completely ineffective and didn't even slow it and it and one of the Night Terrors disappeared into the Store room that Lowe had left the door to open. There was a heartbeats pause, followed by a long, drawn out, high-pitched, feminine scream that abruptly cut off as The Nightmare and Night Terror ripped her apart, tearing her limb from limb with the sound like wet, ripping fabric.

    Sergeant Weaver turned and with precise shots, put down the second Night terror before it could enter the relative safety of the darkened store room, his first two rounds blowing off one of its legs, and then next two punching through the back of its skull to leave it twitching on the ground in its death throes.

    There was the sound of rending metal as the remaining Nightmare and Night Terror tore through the door and into the office beyond. Thinking fast, Ranger Wilson moved up to the window to the office and hosed the office with energy fire. Blast after blast impacted the Nightmare and at such close range, even its toughness and armour couldn't save it and it was thrown back, its chest a ruined, burnt and fused mess.

    Shielded as it was from the energy assault by the bulk of the Nightmare, the Night Terror leapt at Wilson, who swung the butt of his gun up, clubbing it in the face and knocking it down onto its back. Stepping forward, he put two quick rounds through its chest, killing it instantly. Continuing on into the store room, he retrieved the data pad from what little remained of Lowe.

    Back out on the concourse, Baski was hit a glancing blow by a Vermynn pistol, the corrosive green energy melting through his armour and leaving a nasty burn on his side. Gasping in pain, he raised his rifle and fired a burst at the Rat-man who had shot him, blasting its torso and abdomen apart and throwing its ragged corpse back into the middle of the concourse. Darting forward, Engineer Burton crouched down in the lee of a stairwell and began setting up and emplacing a sentry gun to give them some extra fire-power and help secure the concourse.

    On the far side of the compound, Private 1st class Shipmann edged forward cautiously down a side corridor between office blocks when he spotted movement at the next intersection. A Night Terror, hugging low to the ground and covered in spikes and scything blades was rushing towards him, foam salivating at the mouth. Raising his rifle, he calmly snapped off a burst, lacing the approaching Rat-kin with shells, stitching a half dozen rounds across its back. The Night Terror collapsed. The injuries caused by the explosive rounds were no doubt painful, crippling and would prove lethal and fatal in the long run, yet somehow, the beast continued trying to drag itself forward to get at Shipmann. Hoisting his rifle and stepping forward to finish it off and put it out of its misery, Shipmann was surprised as the huge bulk of a Nightmare silently rounded the corner of the intersection directly in front of him. He tried to swing his gun round, to bring it to bear, but he was two slow. Using the momentum of its charge, the Nightmare lunged at him, its full weight behind its attacks as it jabbed at him with a pair of powered rock drills attached to its arms. The first caught Shipmann in the left side and hip, boring through his bottom ribs, but even as he opened his mouth to scream in pain, the second drill bored through his right shoulder, almost taking his arm completely off. At this point, Shipmann did scream, a high pitched cry of pain and terror that abruptly turned into a wet, gurgling death rattle as the Nightmare attacked again, jabbing one drill through his stomach and out his back, followed a half second later by punching the other through his chest cavity, just below his throat, before swinging both its arms wide in opposite directions, ripping him apart bloodily.

    From further back, Private Issacs watched Shipmann’s gruesome and horrific death and let out an inarticulate roar, half of rage and half of fear as he blasted away at the Nightmare on full auto. Several rounds nicked its flesh, or grazed it, but nothing more then minor, flesh wounds, nothing serious or fatal. Drawn by his scream, Moy came running to the far end of the intersection and raised her rifle, catching the Nightmare in a crossfire. The massive brute raised both its rock drills to cover its face and pressed on through the firestorm, absorbing or deflecting most of the shots easily as it pressed on unperturbed.

    "Die! Die Damn you! Die!" Screamed Private Lisa Moy as she emptied her clip into the Nightmare, watching as the bullets deflected harmlessly from its armour and rock drills. Her gun clicked empty and she cursed inwardly as she ejected the clip and fumbled for a new one. Even as she did, the double sized hanger door of the building across from her slid open and another Tangle slid smoothly out, borne by the living carpet of rats it rode on. The rat swarm carrying it swarmed out of the building and over Moy, dragging her down by sheer weight of numbers. She tried to scream, but small, soft, furry bodies filled her mouth, choking her. The clip she was trying to reload slipped from her fingers as she was bitten again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again. By the time the swarm was finished, she'd suffered enough fatal wounds to have killed her three times over easily and her body wouldn't have been identifiable by her closest relatives.

    Even as these tragic events unfolded, a short distance away on the concourse, the Engineer, Technical Specialist James Burton, blasted away at an approaching Verman, his shots going wide and ricocheting of a flight of metal stairs. He was forced to throw himself flat as a green ray carved through the space he had just been occupying and began to melt and dissolve the wall directly behind him. He rolled over into the dubious cover of some nearby recycling and waste bins and got to his knee, snapping off two shots from his pistol at the second verman, missing it, but forcing it to duck back into cover further down the concourse.

    Across the Concourse from him, Ranger first Class Elizha Kiebler slid forward and snapped off two shots from her rifle at a sneaking Verman. Bright orange-red energy bolts zipped across the concourse. The first shot hit it in the upper thigh and the second in the shoulder, winging it. Sliding forward to the edge of a staircase, she dropped into a crouch and fired off two more shots, hitting it in the chest and the face, the energy bolt blowing most of its face off as it keeled over backwards, dead. Burton nodded his thanks to her as he moved forward into the darkness of a vehicle maintenance garage just off the concourse, disappearing into the darkness within...

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    • #3
      Corporal Jake Hemmer edged forward, using the corner of a blood-spattered office block for cover as he raised his grenade launcher. Sighting carefully, he raised the barrel just slightly and pressed the trigger. There was a triple-thump as the automatic grenade launcher opened fire, lobbing a trio of shells down the concourse, to land just beyond the newly emerged Tangle that had killed Moy. The three explosions that followed in rapid succession caused the Tangle to lurch forward and to the side drunkenly as the rat swarm beneath it was tossed about in all directions by the blasts. Beside him, the Platoon medic, Edgar Dusku raised his pistol and snapped off a few shots at the Tangle, taking chunks out of it but having no other appreciable effect, the stopping power of his pistol just not enough.

      Edging closer, Dusku spotted movement on the ground floor of a darkened building near the end of the concourse and turning, spotted the large, bulbous shape of a Brood Mother moving her way through the shadows.

      "Brood Mother!" he yelled, raising his pistol and risking a single, speculative long-range shot. His aim was true and despite the distance, hit the Brood Mother square on. However, the well armoured and protected Matron of the Brood shrugged off the shot, the medics light, small arms fire proving no more effective than the civilian issue weapons had earlier.

      Meanwhile, a little further back, Private Sidford crept to the edge of a broken office window on the second level, ignoring the crunch of broken glass under his feet as he took up an enfilading position and he and Private Hudson began pouring fire into the stunned Tangle, catching it in a cross fire, killing dozens of the rats carrying it, their little furry bodies bursting with each impact. Sergeant Weaver added several shots from his pistol to their fire, though his shots had little effect, the low rate of fire and accuracy making hits against the small targets unlikely, even with a multitude of them.

      Slowly, the Rat Swarms regrouped and coalesced, the Tangle surging forward into Ranger Kiebler at the base of the stairs. She let out a little surprised yelp as she fired a half dozen close range shots into the mass, for little effect, and the rats swarmed over her, biting her, threatening to overwhelm her.

      "Hang on Elizha!" Yelled Sergeant Weaver as he sprinted forward, sprinting into combat, his steel-capped boots kicking rats off her. He punched out with his energy gauntlet, striking the Tangle itself and knocking it back and briefly scattering the horde of rats. Reaching down, he grabbed Kiebler and hurled her to her feet, slapping the last few rats off her with his non-gauntlet hand, pistol whipping and then stamping on a few that were too slow to move away.

      "Are you alright?" He asked, barely sparing her a glance as he kept his eyes on the reforming mass of rats beneath the Tangle. They didn't have long. Beside him, Kiebler nodded, her face covered in a multitude of scratches and bites.

      "Yeah, I think so..." she said, a little breathlessly. Blood ran down one of her arms from several savage bite wounds to her shoulder.

      "Good...get upstairs and provide some covering fire! Go!" The Sergeant raised his pistol and took aim at the Tangle, firing off several close-range shots.

      Kiebler nodded again and hefted her rifle, retreating swiftly up the stairs, pausing at the top to snap off three shots at the Tangle below, the high-energy shots blasting chunks out of it. She could see her fire wasn't having much effect though, so she moved through the doorway to try and find a better position to flank it and catch it in a further cross-fire.

      She found herself in some sort of control room. A large holith-table dominated the centre of the room along with a holographic wall display over a long window that took up most of the southern wall. Bodies lay slumped over the control consoles and command lecterns. One lay on the table, its sightless eyes staring up blankly at the ceiling. Whatever had happened here had happened quickly. They'd died at their posts, without a chance to fight back.

      Kiebler was about to move to the window, hoping it would give her a better line of sight to the Tangle below, when from the shadows sprang a Veermyn Stalker. It lashed out with its knife, driving twelve inches of serrated steel into her stomach, stabbing her again and again and again in a frenzied assault, before slowly pushing the knife through her chest and heart.

      From behind him, upstairs, Sergeant Michael Webber heard Elizha Kiebler's high pitched wail of terror and agony. He swore, then swore again louder, "KIEBLER!!!" he screamed. There was no response. She was gone...

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      • #4
        In the alley behind the building, down the back street, Private Issacs continued to fire short, controlled bursts at the approaching Nightmare, which was still shielding its face with its twin drills. Issacs fires again and again, the caseless rounds sparking and ricocheting off the whirring drills ineffectively. He squeezed the trigger again and was met with the ominous, dry click as his weapon ran out of ammo. His eyes went wide, and he hurriedly snatched for another ammo clip.

        It was all the opening the Nightmare needed.

        Surging forward it brought a drill down towards him, narrowly missing the kneeling trooper, but cleaving through the pipe he was on, destroying it and sending him crashing to the ground below. Leaping upon him, it brought both drills down at the same time, driving them through his torso and abdomen and punching straight through to the metal and concrete below. Issacs was dead even before his scream finished echoing.

        From across the street, Private Sidford could see a Veermyn Crawler trying to sneak away as it darted out of a door in the building behind the Tangle and he switched his aim from the Tangle to it, firing a single, perfectly placed shot that punched through the back of the Verman’s head and skull and exited in a fist size hole between its eyes, blowing out most of its face and sending its corpse sprawling to the ground. As it hit the ground, a data pad tumbled from its paw, skittering and skidding across the metal decking.

        From his vantage point he could see more Veermyn milling about in the darkness of the garage but he couldn't get a clear shot. He tapped his comm bead.

        "I've got contacts, three or four of them in building D-12-Niner. Anyone got eyes on them? What's going on in there?"

        "Give me two seconds, I'm in the building across the concourse from them..." came the gravelly voice of Engineer James Burton "I'll see if I can't get a better look..."

        Moving through the darkened maintenance garage, he managed to come to a blinded window and cautiously used his pistol to raise one of the blinds, looking into the building across the street. While the lights in its parking garage were off, the lights in the back room and upstairs were on, full power. Even as he watched, he could see four Veermyn working controls and rooting through data stacks, tearing open lockers and rummaging through boxes and crates. He resists the urge to swear as he tapped his comm bead, cycling to a wide band channel.

        "This is Burton..." he said, raising his pistol and taking several snap shots across the concourse at the Veermyn, trying to disrupt them. At this range however, his shooting was completely ineffective. "They've found the data-core! I repeat, the Veermyn are looting the data core!"

        Sergeant Weaver on the other hand, did swear as he heard Burtons report. He needed to stop the Veermyn and now, before they made off with the data he needed to complete his mission. But with a third of his forces already down and out and most of the rest fiercely engaged, and an unknown number of enemy hostiles still out there, his options were slim, and narrowing quickly.

        "Brandt, Hemmer, move up and provide us some support! Hudson, push forward and link up with me. Sidford, continue to provide covering fire! Burton, Wilson, I need eyes on the enemy, now! Move it people! Has anyone seen Baski? Where's Baski?" he demanded. A burst of fire roared past his shoulder as Hudson moved up, firing at the Tangle, the caseless rounds bouncing off it for no effect.

        Meanwhile, Private Wes Baski limped painfully around the corner, near to where Issacs had been killed, having heard his scream and moving to assist. As he rounded the corner, he came face to face with the Nightmare. Raising his rifle, he blasted it at close range, firing off a rattling burst of shells. The caseless ammo laced the Nightmare, bouncing off the armoured behemoth ineffectually. His weapon ineffective against the brutish juggernaut before him, Wes Baski began to fall back, slowly, gripping the wound to his hip, laying down suppressive fire as he did. Despite this, the Nightmare came on and Baski wondered how much longer he could back up for, hoping that help would arrive before the Nightmare caught up with him.

        Back on the Concourse, Hudson let off another burst of fire at the Tangle, ineffectively. Sidford’s fire however was more effective, and a line of fire stitched across the front rank of rats carrying it, obliterating them. Beneath him, the medic, Edgar Dusku moved forward, adding fire from his pistol, killing a handful of rats. The Tangle was slowly being whittled down, but it wasn't enough, and everyone's ammo was running low, the firefight having gone on longer than they had expected.

        In the maintenance garage, James Burton heard the crash of something large moving about and rooting around in the room next door. He stopped and listened for a moment, over the sound of the gunfire outside and heard it again, something crashing about next door. Something large. And getting closer. He took a moment to think about it and considered the pistol in his hand before making his decision. Backing up, he put several more rounds through the window, further weakening its integrity, before running at it and diving through it, deciding he'd rather take his chances on the concourse than against whatever was in the other room when he only had a light pistol. He hit the ground in a shower of glass, rolling and came up on one knee, firing his pistol in a two-handed grip, emptying almost half the clip into the Tangle from the flank, blowing large chunks out of it.

        For a moment, the Tangle, under heavy fire from multiple directions, wavered. Then, suddenly, it surged forward, straight towards Sergeant Weaver. Weaver emptied several rounds from his pistol into it, but it wasn't enough to slow it, and he was almost knocked from his feet by the avalanche of tiny furred bodies. He felt them scratching and biting him through his fatigues and he cried out in pain as dozens of them scurried over his face, biting and clawing. He brought both hands up and crossed his arms in front of his face, as the Swarm surged again, all he could do to keep them from his eyes and mouth, barely standing his ground and keeping his feet.

        "Sarge!" Screamed Hudson and fired a short burst into the combat, trying to drive the Tangle swarm away from Weaver. However, his shots weren't very good as he couldn't risk hitting the Sergeant, and most of them went wide. With a roar of rage and anger, he charged into combat, kicking and stomping and lashing out with his rifle butt, smashing it down on tiny furred bodies that cracked and shattered under the assault. His momentum carried him deeper into the scrum and he lashed out wildly, swinging his rifle like a club to drive away the rats, even as he stomped down on others, crushing their little bodies beneath his boots. It was only a few short seconds, but to Hudson, those were the longest seconds of his life, surrounded on all sides by a tide of rats, it felt like hours. However, his wild charge had been more effective then he could have hoped or imagined, and it drove back the Tangle, before dispersing the few surviving rats, leaving the Tangle impotent and ineffective, ending the threat of it.

        Hudson was left in a circle of dead rat bodies, a black and brown and red carpet around him. He was sweating profusely, perspiration running down his face. He felt cold and nauseous and was shaking and trembling as he came down from the adrenaline high.

        Sergeant Weaver came up behind him and lay a hand on his shoulder.

        "Thanks..." he said, panting himself, his face a crimson mask of blood from the dozens of bite wounds he'd suffered.

        Hudson just stood there, unresponsive, going into shock. Weaver slapped him, gently and gave him a rough shake.

        "Stay with me Marine! I need you in the fight, here and now! You got that? Stay sharp! Stay Alive! Damn you, do you hear me?!" Weaver all but shouted in his face.

        Slowly Hudson’s eyes focused on the Sarge and he gave a small nod, the words reaching him as if through a fog or from far away.

        "S-S-Sarge?" he asked, stammering a little, trying to focus.

        "Focus Marine! Get your head back in the game! Or do you want to end up dead? Now, get into cover and hold this position! You got that?!" Weaver snapped, giving Hudson another shake.

        "Yeah...Yeah, I got it" Hudson said, his voice gaining a little more confidence as he did. He reached up and adjusted his helmet before hefting his rifle "I got it, Sarge!" He nodded an affirmative.

        "Good, now move it marine! Move it! Move! Move! Move!" Weaver yelled at him, making sure Hudson started to move towards cover before turning and sprinting up the stairs behind him, remembering Kieblers death scream...

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        • #5
          Private Wes Baski had never been particularly brave, nor particularly religious, but right now, he found himself praying to every God he knew of from all the old Human pantheons as he continued hosing and spraying the advancing Nightmare with fire from his rifle. For a beast so huge, it moved quickly, and many of the rounds missed. The few that did find their mark continued to bounce off it ineffectively.

          His weapon ran dry with an ominous dry click, and, with no other options left, something snapped in Wes Baski, and with a scream, half of Rage and half of Terror, he threw himself at the advancing Nightmare, charging it. Running in, despite the pain in his inured hip, he managed to catch it by surprise, ducking under one of its drills and clubbing it in the face with the stock of his rifle. There was a solid cracking sound as the formed and moulded hardened casing made contact with the beasts’ snout with enough force to shatter a human skull.

          The Nightmare barely even flinched and just looked at Baski with cold, inhuman, pitiless eyes. It lashed out with one of its rock drills, and Baski, acting more on adrenaline and instinct then skill, somehow managed to get his gun up in the way, parrying the blow. Sparkes flew as the drill skidded and grated and bumped over the body surface of the rifle before disengaging.

          With a feral roar that would have equalled the Nightmares own, Baski slammed the butt of his gun into the Nightmares face again and again, knocking loose one of its teeth in a spray of spittle and blood, before kicking up between its legs.

          That at least stunned it and Baski fell back from it, his burst of heroism spent as he managed to eject the spent clip from his rifle before ramming home a new one and remembered to affix his bayonet. He'd just finished as the Nightmare recovered and began advancing on him once more. Baski raised his rifle and took aim.


          Back on the concourse, Hudson moved into cover behind a pile of crates and detritus near the remains of Moy's body. He didn't want to look at her, or what was left of her at any rate, but he remembered that she had picked up a data pad earlier.

          "Awww...man..." he exclaimed to himself with a wince of nauseous distaste as he shouldered his rifle and risked a quick run over to her bloodied corpse, rummaging through her pockets until he found and pocketed the data pad, cringing in disgust as he did before hurrying back over to the dubious safety of the cover, swinging his rifle from his shoulder and using the makeshift barricades as a brace as he scanned for targets.

          Across the street from him, Engineer James Burton scooted forward, keeping low and moved up to some crates, rummaging through them and finding another Data slate. Seeing the Engineer move out of his sight, Sidford shouldered his rifle and moved forward, into what seemed to be some sort of coffee or break room, finding another data pad in there as he did, before moving up through a skylight and onto the roof, giving him an even better field of fire to keep Hudson and Burton covered. Dropping to one knee, he unslung his rifle and took aim, watching the street for movement. Spotting none, he turned his comm-bead to Hudson's frequency.

          "Hey, Hudson...that Veermyn I dropped, about thirty feet ahead of you. It dropped a data pad when it went down. Reckon you could move up and grab it? I'll keep you covered from here."

          "I don't know man..." Hudson commed back, sounding indecisive and a little afraid of putting himself that much more exposed and at risk. "The Sarge said to hold here..." he made the excuse feebly.

          "The mission is to recover data, I don't think the Sarge will mind if you stay on mission" Sidford coerced. "Besides, I've got you covered and Burton will have your flank."

          "Oh yeah, with a pistol, that's just great man. Seems too risky to me, man!" Hudson’s voice was near panic.

          "Just do it, you coward." Sidford said flatly, as he sighted in down the length of his rifle, watching the Veermyn corpse and the door it came out of.

          "Alright, but if I get killed, it's all on you, man..." Hudson whined, as he shouldered his rifle and leapt over the barricade, double timing down the concourse to the downed Veermyn and scrabbling about on the floor for the data slate. Finally finding it, he picked it up and pocketed the padd with the other one he'd recovered from Moy's corpse.

          "Okay...hurry up...hurry up..." Sidford whispered, more to himself than anyone else. What he hadn't told Hudson was that this shot was at the extreme limits of his rifle, and his skills range and any cover fire he could provide would be extremely limited. But he didn't think Hudson's fragile nerves needed to hear that. He breathed a small sigh of relief as Hudson double timed it back behind cover, leaping the barricade and settling into a crouch behind the boxes and crates without incident.


          In the Alley, Baski squeezed the trigger of his rifle, emptying a quarter of the clip into the charging Nightmare at point blank range. Some of the shells nicked the Abomination, creating blood flecked and matted fur as they lacerated its flesh. By far the majority however bounced off its armoured and toughened hide. Then it was upon him.

          "Ah Cra..." Baski exclaimed as he swung the butt of his rifle up, clubbing it across the face again as it charged in, the hardened gun casing cracking solidly against its jaw, before driving the bayonet down, bayonetting it in the guts. Either blow would have downed a normal Verman.

          But not a Nightmare.

          In fact, neither wound even slowed it, and it barreled into him, knocking him sprawling even as it lashed out with both its drills. The first smashed into Baski's uninjured hip, boring and drilling through his hip bone and pelvis. The second drove into his right thigh, severing the leg messily three quarters of the way up in a geyser of blood. Baski screamed as he fell over and skidded back several meters along the metal floor, yowling in pain the whole way. The wound was mortal, his femoral artery had been severed. He was already dead, he just didn't now it yet as he continued to whimper and whine in pain, though even those grew fainter and weaker as he lost blood. Maybe if the medic had been closer, he could have saved him. But he was busy else where. The Nightmare roared triumphantly from a dozen feet away, its arms raised in victory as it began to stalk forward to deliver the unnecessary death blow. Baski barely noticed as he slipped into the merciful blackness of unconsciousness that he would never wake from.

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          • #6
            In the building above, the first thing Sergeant Michael Weaver noticed as he entered was the dead body of Elizha Kiebler. Her dead eyes stared blankly and accusingly at him and he felt an all too familiar pang of momentarily guilt course through him at the thought of another death on his conscience from his command decisions. This momentary distraction almost cost him his life.

            From the back of the chamber, a Night Terror uncoiled itself and sprang at him, razor sharp claws and talons out stretched. He just managed to raise his pistol and put a single round in its chest before it reached him. One set of claws slashed through the barrel of his pistol, bisecting it, before he managed to parry them on his energy gauntlet. A second set drove deep into his thigh and he gave a small scream of pain.

            Shrugging off the first set of claws, he smashed down on the Night Terrors forearm that was still buried in his thigh with his energy Gauntlet, breaking the Veermyns arm. The creature let out a pained squeal and stumbled back a step. Seizing the opportunity, Sergeant Weaver lashed out, grabbing it around the neck with the energy gauntlet and beginning to squeeze. The Night Terror thrashed about wildly, scrabbling against the gauntlet, trying to break his hold, until, all of a sudden, there was a sickening crack and the Night Terrors body went limp, its spine and wind pipe both crushed.

            Barely had he dealt with this threat and tossed the body aside when the Veermyn Stalker that had killed Kiebler leapt upon him, knives flashing. Weaver parried one blow, but another sliced through his bicep. The blade cut through flesh, muscles and tendons, all the way to the bone, the serrated blade grating against it jarringly and painfully. Another blade lashed out and scored a minor, glancing, shallow cut across his hip and side that drew an exclamation of pain from the Sergeant.

            Blocking another thrust with the back of his energy gauntlet, he was too slow to stop the second knife, not dodging quite fast enough and the blade bit through his check, almost from the corner of his lip to an inch short of his ear, the cut wide and deep enough to expose his teeth beneath.

            Blood filled Sergeant Weavers mouth from the blow as tendons were cut and white-hot agony flashed through his head. Somehow fighting through it, he grabbed one of the Verman's knives with his energy gauntlet and squeezed. With a sharp *plink* the blade shattered, sending shards of shattered metal tinkling to the ground.

            Bereft of one of its weapons, the Verman launched itself at Weaver and bit down on his shoulder with its teeth, causing the Sergeant to scream again as he struggled futilely to dislodge it or shake it off.

            With a cry of rage, Edgar Dusku burst into the room, sprinting towards the ongoing melee and charging the Stalker. He swung his medi-kit as he did so, clobbering the Stalker around the side of the head with the medi-kit. This stunned the Veermyn and made it release its bite on Weaver as it staggered back, dazed. It was injured, blood flowing from the back and side of its head, but not dead.

            With a feral snarl, it threw itself at Sergeant Weaver again. But this time he was ready for it, dodging the first jab of its knife, before back handing the knife out of its grip with his energy gauntlet. Stalking forward, he followed up with a quick jab to the face with the energy gauntlet, crumpling the Veermyns entire snout. A second punch to the Veermyns chest followed in quick succession, crushing the creature’s sternum and cracking its ribs. A third punch to the stomach and gut pulverised and liquified its internal organs and sent it flying backwards, blood fountaining from its mouth. It landed in a heap half way across the control room and did not get up.

            The Medic, Edgar Dusku looked at Sergeant Weaver.

            "Geez Mike..." He said, his voice low and long in disbelief, looking at the sheer amount of blood pouring down the Sergeants face and drenching his uniform, not to mention his other wounds "You look like hell."

            Sergeant Michael Weaver didn't respond as he stared blankly ahead. Instead, his shoulders sagged, and he stumbled backwards, the room spinning as he started to come down from the high of the rush of combat adrenaline and he began to feel the pain of his wounds begin to set back in.

            Edgar Dusku caught him, reaching both hands out to steady him as he began to fall. Carefully, he helped him lean against and slide down the back wall of the command centre. He could tell the Sergeant was going into shock.

            "Stay with me Mike..." he said as he hurriedly rummaged through his medi-kit.

            Stay with us...

            The Nightmare loomed over the prone, unconscious, dying form of Private Wes Baski and razed its drills to strike. As it did so, it was greeted in the flank by a hail of energy bolts. A half dozen orange-red bolts slammed into from long range as Ranger 2nd Class Thomas Wilson opened fire on it, having worked his way back and now in a position to flank it.

            Despite the weight of fire, the brute shrugged off most of them, other bouncing off its armoured hide. Ranger Wilson blanched, wondering what it would take to put it down if it could shrug off that much fire power. Deciding to change tack, he took careful aim and squeezed the trigger, firing a single, careful, well placed shot. The energy bolt impacted the side of the creature’s head and neck, burning half its face off.

            The Nightmare reared back and howled in agony and Wilson fired again, his bolt searing the hairs from its shoulder and back. This was enough for the beast and it retreated back down the alley, out of his line of fire, withdrawing. He might not have been able to save Baski, but he had at least stopped his body from being further mutilated. It was small comfort. Carefully, Wilson picked his way forward, keeping his weapon up and ready in case the Nightmare should return. By the time he reached Baski, the Private was already dead, and the alley was clear, the Nightmare long gone.

            He heard Sidford's voice on the comm. "I've got 5...no, make that, 6 contacts. Looks like a Brood Mother, 4 Vermen and a Nightmare." There was a pause "Looks like Nightmare and one or two of the Vermen are injured..." then there was a low gasp and hiss and Sidford continued, his voice soured "Looks like they've got 2, maybe 3 data pads and a stash of what looks like energy cells. They're withdrawing from the engagement zone..." he said bitterly.

            Wilson didn't care. By all accounts they'd recovered 5 data slates and they held the field. That was mission objective complete. They had 6 dead and the Sergeant was badly wounded, with 7 still able bodied and unwounded soldiers left. By all accounts that was a victory. Maybe not a good or a clean one, but a victory none the less. He'd take that. It could have gone a lot worse, given the circumstances.

            But then, it could have gone a lot better also.

            "Stay with me Sarge. Come'on Mike, don't give up now..." Medic Dusku said, more to himself than his patient. He grabbed a bottle of anti-septic spray from his medi-kit and used it all on the Sergeant’s wounds. Casting the empty bottle aside he quickly fished through his medi-kit for a wound sealant.

            "This'll seal the wounds and stop you from bleeding out..." he kept up a running commentary, more for himself than the Sergeants benefit "But we'll need to get you back to HQ for surgery to repair the worst of the damage" he said, as he sprayed the thick blue, foaming liquid onto the Sergeants cheek and upper arm, coating half his face and his entire bicep. The foam quickly hardened and crystallised on contact with air, sealing the wounds, while also acting as a coagulant to clot the blood, promoting natural healing and regeneration and slowing or, if lucky, stopping any internal bleeding. It did nothing for shock however. Leaning over the Sergeant, he used up the last of the canister on the wounds on the Sarge's side and thigh. The rat bites and those from the Verman would have to be treated later, though he had disinfected them, so they shouldn't prove fatal by and of themselves.

            Casting the second empty canister aside he looked at the Sergeant. Sergeant Michael Weavers eyes had a glassy quality to them, remaining unfocused, with a distant look to them, as if her were no longer here. His breathing was shallow, and he wasn't responding to outside stimulus, even the pain of his own wounds.

            "Damn it Mike, fight you SOB" Dusku demanded and he rummaged through his bag, grabbing a hypo-syringe of painkiller. He then decided to make it a double dose, before giving it to the Sergeant. Quickly, he grabbed another vial, this one of Adrenaline and inserted it into the hypo. Pressing it to Weaver's neck he injected the entire vial.

            "Come on Mike...come on..." he willed.

            Slowly, some focus returned to Michael Weavers eyes, though he still looked spaced out, either due to the shock, or the pain meds, it was impossible to tell.

            "Wha...?" the usually articulate and vocal Sergeant began, fumbling for the words "What? ...Doc? Edgar...is that you?"

            "Yeah, it's me Mike, I'm here..." Edgar Dusku reassured him.

            "Where am I? Wha...what happened?" Talking was painful, despite the meds, seeing as how half his face had been ripped open. Even the coagulant and sealant couldn't do anything about the shredded nerves and tendons. "The battle...is it over?" Michael Weaver slurred.

            "Yeah Mike...it's over..." Edgar Dusku said softly and quietly.

            "Di...Did we win?" The Sergeant asked, his eyes already beginning to glaze over again.

            "Yeah Mike...We won..." Dusku said softly, tiredly.

            "Tha's Gooood..." Michael Weaver slurred as he drifted into unconsciousness.

            "We Won..." Edgar Dusku repeated quietly as he knelt beside his unconscious friend.

            Personally, he had a hard time believing it himself.

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