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Damrod S.O.S

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  • Damrod S.O.S

    "Personal Log: It's been 5 days since the skirmish at RMCP-38. My wounds still hurt. Doc says I will make a full recovery, but the Lieutenant-General says the situation is too dire to give me enough time to properly rest and heal. Case in point: We've just
    received an S.O.S Distress call from a Damrod Mining Corporation Shuttle, citing a problem on board and that they were going down. We're picking up a faint transponder signal and locator beacon at co-ordinates NW-29-38-25W. It's only a short way from our outpost, so I'm taking a half squad to check it out and locate any survivors. Should be a milk run..." – Sergeant Michael Weaver, GCPS, 3rd Squad, Outpost-Delta-NW29

    As their modified Hornet dropship set down, Sergeant Michael Weaver and his squad rapidly de-bused and spread out, securing a perimeter as the craft took off again, waiting on standby for an evac call to return if they founded wounded survivors.

    Rather than the survivors of his own Squad, who were out on a patrol with the Lieutenant-General, he had five men from the veteran 4th squad, along with a Ranger and a specialist sniper from the Lieutenant-Generals own staff. It wouldn't have been the squad he'd have picked personally, but he had to make do with what was available.

    "Crash sight, two hundred and fifty meters to the North-West, sir!" came the low, deep voice of Private 1st Class Guy Reaper, a twenty-five-year veteran of the GCPS, now in his mid-forties and greying at the temples. He was the point man for the Squad and Weaver had been told to trust his instincts.

    "Lead the way Private." Sergeant Weaver said, nodding an acknowledgement and arranging the squad in a dispersal pattern.

    Reaper nodded once and set off, double time in a crouch, using the Desert scrub for cover as he worked his way forward. Up ahead, a thin plume of light grey smoke drifted lazily up into the Orange mid-morning sky. It looks like the Shuttle had come down in a Cactus field, though from this distance, there was no indication of what brought it down.

    "Stay alert everyone and watch for survivors..." Sergeant Weaver spoke into his comm-bead, the words carrying to every member of the dispersed squad.

    "100 meters from Crash site, still no signs of anyone alive..." Reaper commed back quietly, his voice low, dangerous and professional.

    Weaver arched his neck to try and get a better look at the crash sight. The shuttle had definitely come down in a cactus patch. Small fires dotted the tiny patch of vegetation and a deep furrow, strewn with debris marked where the shuttle had ploughed into the ground. Vexingly, he couldn't make out any external damage that could have caused the Shuttle to crash, save that which had clearly been caused by the crash. There were no burn or scorch marks, no rents in the hull, no signs it had been hit by any sort of energy, missile or projectile weapon. An EMP maybe?

    The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. Something wasn't right here. The distress beacon was on, but, there didn't appear to be any survivors outside the crash site. He tapped his comm-bead.

    "Look alert people, stay sharp, something here smells fishy..." he said, his voice a soft growl, the fresh scar tissue on his cheek raw, vivid and livid red as he grimaced.

    "75 meters from Crash site. Still no signs of Survivors. I'm not seeing any obvious external damage..." Reaper reported as he edged closer, in a crouch, weapon held ready.

    "So, what are we thinking?" Private 1st Class Ashley Siliqueath, the Squads youngest member at 27 spoke up. She was a veteran of the pacification campaign and had been blooded herself against Rebs and Veer-myn and little else. She was known for her sharp tongue and quick wit. "Sabotage? Electronic or Mechanical Malfunction? ...Pilot Error?"

    "Cut the Chatter" Weaver said sharper "Stay focused. I don't want idle speculation, I want answers. Let’s find those survivors..."

    "If there are any..." muttered Private Craig Bowers, a career pessimist whose instincts had kept him alive in over a decade of service. He was the squad’s communications man for his mission and carried the main transceiver and signal booster to call for extract.

    "50 meters..." continued Reaper professionally "Looks like the cargo bay door is open. Something survived the Crash. No power inside though. Moving closer."

    "This is Carter. Be advised, I've got eyes on movement to the aft of the craft." Ranger 1st Class Jason Carter was a specialist attached to Sergeant Weavers squad for the mission and outside the Ranger Sergeants Marcus and Cole, he was the most experienced Ranger in Clark's Command on Starfall. When he spoke, it paid to listen.

    Weaver held up a hand in silence, calling the squad, with the exception of Reaper, to a halt. With a few short gestures he indicated for Siliqueath and Bowers to go wide and flank the craft, while he ordered Mersey and Woodfield, the squads’ other members to form up on him and proceed slowly. With a final gesture, he silently ordered the Squad sniper, Bass, to take position here and cover their advance. Clenching his fist and slowly lowering it ordered those with him to crouch and use cover, while punching forward, he ordered the remaining members to move out and follow after Reaper.

    "25 meters from crash site, I still have noth-wait! I have movement. There's something moving in there..." there was a pause "Sarge, you better get up here..."

    Hearing an edge in the otherwise stoic Privates voice, Weaver double timed forwards, hoping that he'd found survivors and they could dust off soon. A voice in the back of his mind, triggered by the veteran’s tone, distorted as it was over the comm, told him otherwise.

    Dropping into a crouch beside Reaper, his hand on the holster of his pistol, Sergeant Weaver kept his eyes fixed on the crashed shuttle ahead "Report Private." He said in a quiet tone, not wanting his voice to carry.

    "Something moving in the cargo hold, sir. Too dark to get a positive ID. Could be a survivor...but..."

    "But what?"

    "I don't think so sir. Something's off."

    "Off? What's off?"

    "I don't know, sir. Just a feeling, sir."

    Weaver had to agree with him. He had the same feeling himself.

    "Alright everyone, safeties off but watch your fire and check your targets, it might be a survivor." he growled into his comm-bead even as he unholstered his pistol and thumbed off the safety. He missed the reassuring weight of an assault rifle or battle rifle, but until his arm healed more, he could only manage the recoil of a pistol. "Prepare to move in..."

    To his right Andrea Mersey, a 40-something year old woman with short, permed auburn hair and steely grey eyes, and more than a dozen years experience in the GCPS shuffled forward, her leg brushing against a piece of debris as she made to move around it.

    Whatever was in the downed shuttle must have heard the sound of the shifting metal, as it suddenly came to the edge of the hatch. Weaver heard a sharp intake of breath from nearby.

    "What the hell is that thing?!?" cried Private 1st Class Daniel Woodfield.

    The creature in the doorway looked human, more or less. However, its skin was deathly pale, almost grey black, like rotting flesh. Its eyes were beady and red, and it bore hideous wounds that should have been fatal or otherwise dropped a normal human. It wore the tattered and dirty uniform of a Damrod corporate shuttle pilot. Its jaw hung slack and drool roped from the corner of its mouth over blood-slicked, broken and sharpened teeth. Its head swung back and forth as it stood in the doorway, its nostrils flaring as it sniffed at the air like a hound, almost as if it didn't perceive them, at least not with its eyes. Then, its mouth twisted into a feral snarl and a guttural grown emerged from its throat as it hurled itself at Private Woodfield with unnatural speed and celerity.

    "AGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Woodfield screamed, raising his rifle and squeezing the trigger. A hail of high-velocity caseless shells smashed into the things chest. Woodfield kept firing in a continuous long burst, emptying half his clip into its torso.

    The Thing didn’t even slow down.

    "AGGHHHHHHHH!" Woodfield screamed again, an edge of terror and panic in his voice.

    A second later, the sound of another Rifle opening up joined Woodfield’s as Reaper stood up and took a step-forward, adding his fire to Woodfield’s. A second later Sergeant Weaver stepped forward as well, firing round after round from his pistol into the creature’s chest and face.

    The weight of fire from the three of them barely staggered it, and it continued trying to push forward into the hail of bullets with single minded dogged, if not mindless, determination. Step by step, it came closer.

    Private Andrea Mersey ran forward, flanking it and then, with a battle cry of her own, added her fire to it as well, more caseless rounds spitting from the muzzle of her rifle. Under the combined-fire of three assault rifles and a pistol, each firing 10mm caseless explosive rounds, the thing, what ever it was, came apart, shredded and ripped apart by the deluge of fire directed at it, its body exploding messily.

    For a second, the four of them stood there trying to process what they had just witnessed. Private Mersey spoke first.

    "What the Hell was that thing?!?" She said, echoing Woodfield’s earlier sentiment. Her voice was tinged an octave higher than normal, partly with disbelief but mostly from fear.

    "It was wearing GCPS colours..." Woodfield said quietly. He was shaking, almost trembling, his ammo gauge almost empty.

    Sergeant Weaver remained silent. He didn't know what to tell them. In all his years of service, he'd never encountered anything like it.

  • #2
    His comm-bead chirped to life.

    "This is Carter. We've got company. I've got movement to the north. A dozen hostiles, moving this way, fast. Suggest we fall back. Now."

    "This is Siliqueath. Same here. I've got contacts to the West and North-west. There must be twenty at least, maybe thirty."

    "Okay, both of you fall back and re-group on our position. Has anyone seen Bowers?" Sergeant Weaver said into his comm-bead not liking how quickly this mission was going south. "Bowers, report? Bowers? Damn it, where are you?!?"

    Even as he finished almost shouting into the comm in frustration, from the Eastern edge of the Cactus patch they suddenly heard the unmistakeable sound of gun fire and then saw a figure running towards them. As one, the three squad members raised their rifles towards it, while Weaver quickly switched clips and reloaded.

    The figure ran at a sprint. His armour was dirty and smeared with blood and his uniform was torn. In one hand he carried a battle rifle, loosely, without discipline and in a very unsafe manner. With his other, he grabbed his helmet to keep it on as he sprinted towards them.

    It was Bowers.

    "They're after me!!!" He yelled as he ran up to them "We have to move, now!" he called, his tone edged with panic, near hysterical.

    "Bowers! What's going on?" Weaver snapped at him trying to get him to calm down.

    "They're after me!" Bowers hissed "These...things! They were hiding among the wreckage. They sprung up as I passed through."

    "Are you injured?"

    Bowers shook his head breathlessly "No. A few grabbed me, but I managed to get away before they could do more. Damn things tore my uniform though. Not going to get in trouble for that am I sarge?"

    Weaver shook his head in the negative as he tried to process the information. One thing was becoming increasingly clear: They'd walked into an ambush.

    "What the hell are those things Sarge?" Bowers said, his voice almost a whine, ironically mirroring Woodfield’s and Mersey's earlier question "I emptied my entire rifle into them and it didn't put them down! What the hell are they!?!" The hysteria was edging back into his voice.

    Weaver ignored him. He didn't have any answers. Instead he fixed Bowers with a steely gaze. "How many were their private? Report!"

    Bowers shook his head, a look of disbelief as he tried to think "I don't know...A lot. Three, maybe four dozen...I don't know." Bowers looked like he was on the edge of a breakdown. His news didn't do much for the morale or nerves of the rest of the squad either.

    Andrea swore. "I say we call for evac, extract, dust off and bug out! Let’s get the hell out of here!"

    As much as he hated to run from a fight, Weaver couldn't argue with her. If the reports were to be believed, they were outnumbered more than ten to one, and their weapons seemed to be mostly ineffective, requiring more ammo than they were carrying to reliably deal with these things. Best they get back and report it.

    Weaver turned to look at Bowers and noticed something amiss. "Bowers...where's the radio?" he said slowly, a sinking feeling forming in the pit of his stomach even as he said it.

    Bowers shook his head "I don't know...I dropped it, back there..." he indicated behind him, to the eastern edge of the cactus patch, where even now several dozen silhouettes could be seen moving towards them "One of those things grabbed it, and I had to shrug it off and drop it to get away..." he finished, to the accusing stares of the rest of the squad.

    Andrea Mersey swore, and then swore again, a long string of expletives some of them very colourful and creative.

    "Oh great...that's just great. Just great...Oh man, we're frigged! Now what are we gonna do?" Woodfield whined. He seemed to be near tears and in no better mental shape than Bowers.

    "We should try and recover it...launch an attack and..." Spoke up Mersey, but her voice trailed off.

    "No way man, it's wasted. Those things, they totaled it. Uh-uh. No way man. Count me out." Bowers shook his head, still clutching his empty rifle tightly.

    Movement at the back of the craft had them all snap to attention, weapons raised and trained, muscles tense, fingers hovering over triggers.

    "Woah! Don't shoot! It's just me...well, us." came the voice of Ranger first class Jason Carter as he stepped out from behind the ruined shuttle, his hands raised, his rifle slung over his shoulder. Everyone lowered their weapons fractionally, but just fractionally, still on edge. From behind Carter, Siliqueath stepped out and edged past him, falling in with the rest of the squad. Like the rest of them, she looked shaken by what she'd seen.

    "I suggest we move out soon Sergeant." Carter suggest "Enemy contacts are closing from the north, assumed hostile. Two minutes out, three at the most."

    "Same goes for the west." Siliqueath added, her voice shaky.

    "Oh great, we're surrounded, that's just great..." Andrea Mersey's voice trembled. "That's great..." she trailed off, her voice close to breaking. Nearby, Woodfield covered his face with his hands.

    Reaper, who had been silent throughout and who seemed to be handling it better than the rest finally spoke up in his low, quiet but deep and authoritive voice. The voice of experience. "Sergeant, I suggest we fall back, link up with Corporal Bass, and head south, if its still open to us."

    "Right...right..." said Sergeant Weaver, nodding as he tried to come up with a plan. "Alright, everyone, fallback to the LZ, double time. Carter, Reaper, you guys have rearguard. Watch our sixes."

    As strung out and shaken as they were, they were still a veteran and disciplined GCPS unit and they didn't need to be told twice. Forming up quickly, they make good progress and quickly covered the ground back to link up with Corporal Bass. One look at his face told Weaver that he knew what was going on.

    "You heard?"

    Bass nodded "I heard all of it over the comm. What are we gonna do Sarge? What's the play?"

    Weaver stopped to take stock for a moment and make sure that everyone could hear him.

    "There's an old Bastion-class Firebase south of here. Two, maybe three klicks, over rough terrain. It should be held by some of Brigadier-General Warrax lot though. So, we can link up with them and get reinforcements in a defensive position if those things follow us. There should also be some comms equipment there, so we can contact the Hornet for extraction, and Command, well, the Lieutenant-General and let them know what's going on out here. He'll know what to do and how to handle it."

    "If there was a Firebase so close, why didn't they handle the distress call?" Bowers whined, finally remembering to reload his spent rifle.

    "It's an older model firebase. Frontier construct outpost only, no Landing pads or vehicle hangers. They'd have to walk it. Even with the increased distance, in our Hornet we were the closest Rapid Response unit. Plus, if there were casualties to transport, they'd need a Hornet or a Mule."

    "Well gee, ain't that just lucky for us..." Bower's whinged sarcastically.

    Weaver shot him a look, silencing him.

    "Sounds like a plan..." Carter cut in "If I might suggest we get a move on and, oh, I don't know, say, do it, now, that would be great. Those things are right behind us on our heels. Two or Three klicks isn’t far, but over rough terrain its gonna take us a while."

    "They seem pretty slow, I think we can out pace them. We can definitely out run them." Private Siliqueath spoke up.

    "Yeah, over short distances, maybe, but we have no idea of their stamina. They might not tire out as quickly as we do, or find the rough ground as hard going, taxing or slowing, so any head start or advantage, we should take. Hell, they might not even tire out at all." Carter countered. It was a sobering thought.

    "Right everyone, grab your kit, lets move out! Reaper, Carter, you have point. Woodfield, Bowers, rearguard. Everyone else, on me. Let’s move it people!" Bellowed Sergeant Weaver.

    And with that, they set out across the rough desert-scape at a quick-time jog, desperate to get there before the horde on their heels caught up with them...


    • #3
      It took them almost two hours to traverse the rough desert terrain and reach the Firebase. What they found when they got there was not what they expected.

      No sentries challenged their approach, acknowledged their presence, or fired warning shots. Not even a friendly, if puzzled greeting.

      In fact, no sound at all greeted them. The firebase was dark.

      The place was deserted.

      "Where is everyone?" Asked Private Mersey, clearly spooked.

      "Looks like nobody's home" Said Ranger Carter, trying to make light of his own discomfort and unease at the situation.

      "There should be two or three squads stationed here, twenty to thirty command staff, where are they?" growled Sergeant Weaver. He didn't like this "Everyone split up. Search the building. But keep in radio contact at all times. No unnecessary risks. Carter, Siliqueath, check the generators, Mersey, Bowers, you get the Communications gear. Woodfield, Reaper, check the bunks and dorms. Bass, you're with me, we're checking the mess hall and ammo bunker. Meet back on the main firing platform and rig in 30 minutes."

      Woodfield and Reaper were the first ones back, meeting up with the Sergeant and Corporal Bass on the platform.

      "Find anything?" The Sergeant asked grimly. He didn't expect a positive answer.

      Reaper didn't disappoint and shook his head grimly. "Nothing. The place is Abandoned. No bodies. No sign of a fight. No nothing. It's as if they all just got up and... left." he said with a shrug. He didn't show it externally, but he was spooked. Behind him, Woodfield was having a much harder time hiding how unnerved he was.

      "We noticed some damage to some of the internal blast doors and exterior fences." Bass chipped in "Could be nothing, simple old wear and tear, but..." he looked at the Sergeant to see if he should proceed. Weaver gave a small nod of his head. May as well be honest. Bass took a deep breath before continuing "The ammo bunker is almost completely empty. And most of the sentry guns are completely spent or burnt out."

      "So something attacked them?" Reaper asked, though the answer was obvious.

      "But, where are the bodies? Why are there no bodies? No blood either..." whined Woodfield, his nerves barely hanging by a thread. No one had an answer for him.

      "There's no sign of fire from squad weapons or small arms fire damage. No shell casings or spent rounds. Nothing to indicate a firefight happened inside." Reaper said somewhat more calmly then Woodfield.

      "So... what? Maybe they used the perimeter guns to buy time, while they loaded up with everything they could carry of value and took off and bugged out?" Bass offered as a scenario.

      "Maybe..." Weaver said thoughtfully, though his voice was doubtful "But it's a fifteen-klick journey to the next nearest outpost, over rough terrain." He didn't have to say more.

      The next to arrive were Carter and Siliqueath. Before they could make their report, they were quickly joined by Mersey and Bowers. Weaver looked to Siliqueath and Carter "Report" he barked. He could tell from the looks on their faces the news wasn't good.

      "The generator's a no-go. It's gone. Something tore it out and tore it to pieces" Siliqueath reported while Carter looked thoughtful and resolute, trying to affect a stoic demeanour.

      "Same goes for the Comms equipment." Bowers interjected.

      "So, we can't call for extraction." Weaver said. It was a statement, not a question.

      Bowers shook his head "Out of the Question. The comms have been smashed beyond use. Even if we had spare parts and an engineer, I don't think it could be repaired or salvaged.

      "Sir...without power...I mean, with no power, that means the sentry guns and perimeter turrets won't work doesn't it sir?" Andrea Mersey asked, a tiny wobble in her voice.

      "Yeah...yeah it does, Private." Weaver said softly and tiredly, and slowly ran a hand through his hair starring out into the desert, pondering his next move. He didn't have the heart to tell her the guns had expended all their ammo already anyway.

      "So... now what?" Asked Bowers "We keep on going? Head out into the desert to the next outpost and hope those Things haven't got there before us?"

      Corporal Bass shook his head "The next outpost is fifteen to twenty klicks away..." repeating what Weaver had said earlier. "That's a ten-hour journey, minimum. More like twenty with the terrain and fatigue, plus stops to rest, eat, drink. And you know what the temperature gets like out there in the desert...". They'd all been stationed on Starfall long enough to know what it was like out there, and their chances of surviving it.

      "So that's it then...we're boned." Said Woodfield and turned away to throw up over a railing.

      "What's the Plan sir? Do we make a break for it and trust to luck and hope?" Asked Reaper, turning to face Weaver.

      Sergeant Michael Weaver paused for a moment as he considered his options and then slowly shook his head as he turned to face them. "No. We make a stand." He could see the looks on their faces as he said it. As if he'd signed all their death warrants. He pressed on before they could object "We're not going to find any better defensive terrain out there. So, we make our stand, here. We set up a perimeter and use the clear lines of fire and the high ground to our advantage. Hopefully we can hold them off, at least long enough until the best time to make a break for it. Once that happens, we head out, giving ourselves as much time as possible, giving us the longest window of opportunity and the best possible chance to reach the next outpost. Might even thin their numbers enough to dissuade them from following us." he added hopefully at the end, though he was none too confident of it himself, though he put on a brave, confident air for the troops under him. "Unless anyone's got any better ideas?" He asked, just to emphasis the point.

      No one spoke up.

      "Alright then, lets see what we can do about making this place just that little more secure and shoring up the defences. This will be our island that they crash and break upon like the waves against the beach. Let's move it people and get to work! I can't speak for the rest of you, but I intend to survive this, and I expect to see you all at the next outpost tomorrow. You can consider that an order!" he said with false bravado and a confidence he didn't really feel.

      It was likely in a few hours, they'd all be dead...


      • #4
        The first enemy was spotted 40 minutes later.

        Corporal Bass, who was in the highest tower of the Firebase, raised the alarm and raised his marksman rifle as he took aim, the holo-sight aiding him as he zeroed in for a closer look.

        The creature had definitely been human, once. However, its flesh was grey and rotted and its eyes, aside from a red glow, were dull and lifeless. Its movements were jerky and slow, almost uncoordinated. Yet they were relentless and behind the first were easily a dozen more and a dozen more behind them. The closest he could liken it to was old Earth Legends of Zombies.

        What was worse, it wore damaged GCPS armour and fatigues, with a blood and grime covered and smeared nametag.

        It looked like the had found out what happened to the missing Garrison.

        Waiting until the holo-sight turned green, indicating the creature was in range, Corporal Bass took careful aim and squeezed the trigger. A single, heavy solid slug took flight at near super-sonic speeds, catching the Zombie square in the forehead and blasting its head apart.

        'Being so high up gave him a great line of sight and awesome range...' he thought '...but it also means it'll take me the longest to get down and get out if there’s trouble. And I have no where to fall back to...' he thought bitterly as he took steady aim at another Zombie, his breathing slow, low and even.

        The Holo-Sight turned green


        Another shot and another Zombies head exploded like an over-ripe water melon struck by a sledgehammer, dropping it.

        Corporal Bass tapped his comm-bead "Aim for the heads, it drops them quicker." he sent over the comm as he scanned for another target. He had plenty to choose from.

        The reticule turned green again.


        Another Zombies head vanished in a puff of red mist and shattered skull fragments.

        'Three down, a veritable horde still to go...' he thought.

        Sergeant Weaver watched as a trio of Zombies swarmed towards his position, where he stood upon a raised platform on the flank of the Firebase, guarding one of the two access ramps. As soon as they entered range, he began blasting away with his pistol, unloading a third of his clip into the chest of one, staggering and slowing it, but failing to put it down. He was just switching his aim to one of the others when he heard Corporal Bass "Aim for their heads, it drops them quicker." report over the comm. Firing two quick shots, a double-tap, into the chest of one zombie, he then shifted his aim slightly and put a round through the zombie’s forehead, just above and between its eyes. The Zombie halted, swaying for a second and then keeled over dead.

        'Useful advice..." thought Weaver as he brought his pistol to bear on the third zombie as it rushed towards him. He managed to fire once, catching it in the shoulder, but failing to put it down and then it was upon him, surging up the ramp. It lashed out with dirt and grime encrusted finger nails, gauging at Sergeant Weaver’s eyes. Three of the talon like claws caught him, just above his eye and scraped down across his cheek, criss-crossing his still healing scar. He was lucky he didn't loose his eye. He reeled back with a cry of pain and managed to put a round in the Zombies stomach at point blank range to no effect and then the Zombie was on him again, grappling with him, trying to bite at his neck with its slack, yet powerful jaws and razor filed teeth.

        Seeing Weavers predicament, Ranger Carter moved around, raising his energy rifle but unable to get a clear shot due to the struggling bodies. He raised his rifle and took careful aim, waiting for an opening, hoping it would come before the Sergeant was overwhelmed.

        'There...' he thought, spotting a momentary gap and fired a burst of high energy shots into the combat. His volley struck true, hitting the Zombie in the torso, causing severe burns to its abdomen and torso. It staggered back, and Carter stepped forward, firing another fusillade of shots, this time at the Zombies head. Under the intense, high-energy burst of shots, the zombie's head super-heated and exploded.

        Sergeant Weaver nodded his thanks wearily to the Ranger, before turning to face the last Zombie which had made it to the bottom of the ramp and was Starting to make its way up. Taking quick aim, it snapped off two shots, both of them hitting the Zombie in the face and sending it sprawling, one of them passing clean through its head and exiting out the back of its skull the size of a spread hand, taking most of what little was left of its brains with it.

        He had a momentary respite, the next wave of zombies still several dozen feet out and he used the time to reload his pistol, knowing it wouldn't do to run out of ammo in the middle of a salvo, and then checked on the status of the fight. So far, the zombie’s vanguard were only just reaching the firebase. The main body of the Zombie force was yet to arrive. When they did, they'd have a hell of a fight on their hands. Carefully, he wiped blood from his eye, half his face a crimson-war mask from the trio of lacerations the Zombies dirty talon had left. They stung and burnt, and he only hoped the things didn't carry an infection, but he couldn't worry about that right now, as from the other side of the firebase, he heard a scream.

        On the other side of the Firebase, Private Woodfield held the second access ramp. As the first Zombie reached the bottom of the ramp, he opened fire, a three-round burst into the stomach of the Zombie. The explosive rounds blew out the Zombies guts and entrails but failed to bring it down. As he shifted his aim up to aim for its head, the Zombie surged up the ramp with inhuman quickness. Taken by surprise, Woodfield failed to dodge or react, and the Zombie struck him a clubbing blow to the face, shattering his cheek bone and sending him crashing onto his back.

        Even as Woodfield struggled to rise, a second and a third zombie surged up the walkway and swarmed him. Private Daniel Woodfield died screaming as the three Zombies ripped him apart with their bare hands

        "Woodfield!" Shouted Private Guy Reaper who was stationed nearby and turned to engage the Zombies now on the Firebase. His first burst of fire went high and missed the Zombies, as he was still worried about hitting Woodfield. Realising it was too late to save the other Private, Reaper shifted his aim and unleashed another short burst. The rounds torn into the Zombies arm and shoulder, blowing it off, severing it just above the elbow.

        Such a wound might have stopped a man, but these things seemed to be immune to pain and debilitating injuries. As one, the three Zombies turned and surged towards him.

        Reaper met them head on, swinging his rifle butt out and around, catching one in the head and knocking it back off balance. Then the other two grabbed him and started to drag him back and down.

        "No... no... not like" Reaper gasped and just managed to squeeze the trigger, sending a single round through the chin of one zombie at an awkward angle to exit through the side of its head in a crimson-grey spray of bone and dead brain matter. The Zombies corpse toppled over the side of the Firebase to the ground below.

        But the third zombie had him grappled now and even as he wrestled with it, the first one surged to its feet and rejoined the fray, grabbing him.

        "No... No... no... n... uuugghhhgh!" Reapers muttered mantra turned into a wet gurgle as one of the Zombies ripped his throat out with its razor talons. His eyes went wide, rifle falling from nerveless, shocked fingers. The last thing he saw was the two Zombies closing in, one’s teeth latching onto his already opened and exposed throat, the other onto his shoulder as they dragged him down and began to feast.


        • #5
          From a slightly higher vantage point up the Firebase, Private Ashley Siliqueath saw what was happening and opened fire down into the melee, firing a long burst into the back of one of the crouching Zombies. The explosive rounds tore into it, punching through ragged clothing and rotting flesh before exploding, shredding its back. Wounds that would have been incapacitating, if not fatal for any other known species, these things simply shrugged off and it looked up at her with cold, dead, hungry eyes, its meal interrupted.

          "Oh Sh-..." she swore under her breath as it surged towards her, beginning to climb "Oh no you don't!" she said, kicking it in the face as it reached the top and sending it plummeting back down to the floor below with a wet thud.

          The second Zombie gained the top and surged into combat with her, grappling her gun and arms. She wrestled with it for a moment, tottering on the edge, before smashing it in the face with the butt of her rifle, knocking it back down, breaking several of its bones. Leaning over the edge, she sprayed it with fire, a long burst into its torso which blew it apart. It wasn't a pretty kill or with finesse but pour enough fire into them and even these things came apart and died. Again.

          For good measure, she switched her fire to the first one as it got back to its feet and fired a burst down into its head, blowing it to pieces, the corpse tottering over to fall with he other and that of Private Reaper, creating a slick carpet of gore and ichor on the floor of the firebase.

          At the back of the Firebase, Private Craig Bowers had his own problems. Here, the Zombies were swarming en masse, and he was having a hard time keeping them at bay. Already he had put down a nearly a dozen of them near the foot of the firebase with short, precise, controlled bursts, learning from his mistake in the cactus field. But now, they were using the piles of their own dead as a ramp to scale the Firebase and reach his position.

          "Oh, Hell no!" He exclaimed, leaning over the edge and firing straight down, directly into the face of a Zombie, pulverising it with a short burst that mostly disintegrated its head.

          Another Zombie swarmed up and grabbed at his leg.

          "Ahhhh!" He screamed and swore and kicked it in the face, knocking it off and back down. Two more grabbed at him and he fired quick, close range bursts down into both of them, driving them back. Rushing forward, he smashed one in the face with the rifle but, almost knocking its head off, before kicking the other one back over the edge of the Firebase, its body rolling over the lip to hit the hard, rocky desert ground below.

          Leaning over the edge again, he sprayed the zombies below with a long burst, raking his weapon back and forth over them, pulverising their bodies and heads.

          Flicking back to short bursts, he picked off first one and then a second Zombie a little further out with tight, controlled head shots, their heads exploding and their headless corpses dropping.

          For now, there was a temporary lull in the attack, the closest zombies all having been taken care of. But the second wave was incoming, and the calm would not last. Already they had lost a quarter of their number, and that was only after the first wave. The assault had only just begun...


          • #6
            The Next wave arrived, almost three times the size of the first. Their attack concentrated on the access ramp left open and undefended by the deaths of Woodfield and Reaper.

            As the first Zombies began to swarm the lower level of the Firebase, Private Andrea Mersey found herself cut off from the rest of the squad and face to face with the horde of the living dead. She let out a small scream, mostly to encourage herself to sound intimidating, for all the good it did, as she backed down a corridor, firing, playing her rifle left and right as she kept up a steady stream of fire as she fell back.

            A Zombie rushed at her and she lithely dodged under its slow, clumsy blow, firing a low burst at it that blew off both its legs. The legless creature continued to claw and scrabble on the ground, dragging itself towards her, but was soon overtaken by its more able-bodied brethren as she continued to fall back, trying to put some distance between her and them, and hopefully lose them in the depths of the Firebase.

            Another Zombie came at her and she ducked under its blows before firing point black, firing an ineffectual close range burst right into its chest. The Zombie wasn't even phased by the high-velocity high explosive shells hitting it and reached out to grab her. Andrea threw herself back and rolled away, breaking into a sprint the moment she got to her feet, breaking combat and falling back.

            As she passed a sealed blast door to one of the Firebases NCB bunker safe-rooms, she heard a dull thud and banging within.

            Heart racing and conscious of the enemy dogging her heels, she none the less slowed her mad dash to investigate.

            Suddenly, the door burst open and the occupants spilled out.

            The Garrison was still here. They'd never left. Only now, they were no longer human.

            Andrea screamed in terror as the first GCPS Zombie soldier lunged at her and she fired at it, point blank, blasting it back, its chest a red ruin. Even so, it pushed itself to its feet and began to advance on her once more. Another zombie lurched at her, grabbing for her. Andrea brought her rifle down on one of its arms, the brittle undead bone snapping and breaking with the force of the impact. A second wing of her rifle hit it in the head, smashing half its face and most of its jaw and sending it staggering back. Grabbing her rifle in two hands, Andrea fired off a short burst into the mass of Zombies as a third tried to push past its injured comrade, her shots blowing one of its legs off and sending it crashing into the ground.

            A fourth zombie lunged and grabbed her by the hair and she screamed, struggling against it. She managed to shrug it off, slapping its hands away before slugging it in the face with her rifle butt and knocking it down. Spinning her rifle around, she unloaded a short burst directly into its face and head, blowing it apart, and then broke into a sprint, running deeper into the complex.

            Back on the Surface, Sergeant Weaver doubled tapped first one Zombie in the head and then a second as they both tried to reach the ramp. Swinging his pistol round, he put a single round through the eye of another zombie as it tried to climb up over the side of the railing.

            The distraction was all another Zombie needed to rush up the access way and into combat with him. Weaver turned back to it just in time to avoid it ripping out his throat with its claws, or latching onto him with its teeth, but it was now too close to shoot, as it grabbled his pistol arm, rotting nails digging not the flesh of his wrist and drawing blood. With a roar of rage, Weaver swung his other arm back and let loose with his energy fist, punching it in the face.

            The Zombies face caved in under the force of the blow, its skull shattering, its head pulverised. The corpse fell away from Weaver, sliding across the metal decking of the firebase in a slick of gore.

            Unseen by Weaver, another Zombie climbed up over the edge of the barricades. The first Weaver knew of it was when it sank its talons into the back of his thigh. The veteran Sergeant screamed in pain as the rotted, dirty nails bit through sinew, muscles and tendons. The Zombie gave a pull and twisted his leg in an entirely unnatural direction, dislocating his hip, sending him crashing to the floor of the firebase on his back.

            Weaver screamed in agony again as white-hot pain flared through his leg to the core of his being. Barely able to focus, Weaver gritted his teeth and raised his pistol, putting two rounds through the zombie’s face as it tried to finish climbing over the barricade and sending it toppling back. Reaching out, he put two more rounds through the head of another one as it gained the top of the causeway access ramp, sending its corpse toppling over backwards and sliding back down the ramp.

            Another two Zombies climbed the barriers and one grabbed Weaver's injured leg. The sergeant screamed in agony as the Zombies began dragging him over the barrier. He sat up as best he could and punched one in the face with his energy gauntlet, sending it flying back. It dropped like a stone, its rotted body splattering and bursting against the hard rocks of the Desert several meters away in a spray of unwholesome ichor.

            The second zombie lost its footing but not its grip on Weavers leg and it fell, pulling him with it. Weavers knee hooked on the barricade and he screamed in pain as his dislocated leg took the zombies weight hanging from it, hyper extending his knee and the ligaments within it. Weaver screamed and screamed and screamed in pain, unable to do anything to dislodge the zombie as it clung doggedly to his leg, dangling several meters above the ground below.

            Hearing the Sergeants screams of pain, the Ranger, Jason Carter came sprinting over. Leaning over the barrier, he sent a long burst from his rifle into the Zombie, the high energy bolts blasting the Zombies arm, shoulder and head. The decayed flesh of its arm was burnt through, blowing its arm off and its head exploded. The now headless Zombie dropped the meters to the ground below in a heap.

            Carter pulled the writhing Weaver back over the barrier and onto the deck of the Firebase. The damage was worse than he thought. Sticking through the thigh of the Sergeants uniform trousers was a jagged spur of bloody bone. A compound fracture. The Sergeants leg was broken.

            Carter assessed the situation immediately. The Sergeant was no longer combat effective, and the position was untenable. The only option now was to withdraw.

            "Don't worry Sarge, I've got you..." he said reassuringly, reaching down to wrap an arm around the wounded sergeant and helping him up, his arm wrapped around him for support, taking most of his weight. "Easy does it."

            Weaver looked pale and could barely nod his thanks to the Ranger.

            "I hate to say it sir, but I think it's time to withdraw. We can't hold here any longer. Better to take our chances with the desert and the elements, then the certainty of death here." The Ranger said, almost apologetically as he scanned for more hostiles, holding his rifle in one hand, the other arm still supporting the wounded Sergeant, who couldn't walk unaided.

            Sergeant Weaver nodded weakly and reached up to tap his comm-bead. Reluctantly and with all the strength he could muster, he gave the order:

            "Marines, we are Leaving!"


            • #7
              As the call went out, those that could made a break for it. Personally, Private Bowers thought it couldn't have come a moment too soon as he played his rifle across a trio of approaching zombies, the hail of shells cutting the legs out from under the three of them. They may not be dead, but they couldn't catch him now. With that, he ran to the edge of the Firebase he'd already picked out as his escape root and leapt from it to a nearby rocky pillar. Landing on it and almost overbalancing, he collected himself, regaining his footing before shimmying down it. Looking both ways, trying to decide the best way to go, after a moments indecision he took off at a run.

              In the look-out tower high above, Corporal Bass picked off two more zombies with head shots before climbing down from the tower and linking up with Private Siliqueath. His scope showed another wave of Zombies incoming, about the same size as the previous wave, or maybe slightly smaller, but if so, only fractionally.

              Leaping the last few feet to the ground, he nodded to the Private and together, they jumped off the level they were on to the deck below. Edging to a corner, they spotted a sextet of zombies milling near the door to the communications room. Ducking back, the waited for an opportunity and then made a dash across the open space at the back of the Firebase. Reaching the edge, they took turns covering each other as the other climbed down. Then, together, they sprinted to the cover of some nearby rocks, ducking low as they planned their next move.

              Meanwhile, Sergeant Weaver and Ranger Carter managed to limp down the access way. As they did so, Carter blasted apart the torso of one Zombie with a collection of tightly controlled burst shots from his energy rifle. Meanwhile, Sergeant Weaver put two rounds through the head of one Zombie to their left and then another two rounds through the head of one to their right.

              Reaching the bottom of the Ramp they paused for a moment to get their bearings and plan the best escape route. Given the large number of Zombies approaching from one direction, and the firebase beside and behind them, it only left one option. Carter half carried, half-dragged Weaver that way.

              A zombie stepped into their way, blocking their path. Carter raised his rifle and let off a single, controlled, precise, well aimed shot that took it in the head, the high energy bolt burning half its face off and sending it crashing to the ground.

              It still wasn't dead. As they made their way past it, it began to rise. Sergeant Weaver reached out with his pistol, the barrel almost touching it and fired, double tapping it in the back of the head, execution style. The two explosive rounds punched through the back of its skull and burst through its face in a shower of blood and gore, obliterating it and sending it crashing back to the floor. This time it didn't get back up again.

              Their way now clear, the duo limped off into the desert, sneaking through the encircling lines of the Zombies, Carter continuing to half drag and half carry Weaver.

              Beneath the Firebase, Private 1st Class Andrea Mersey fought a desperate, hopeless battle alone in the darkness.

              Firing point blank at a Zombie as it charged her, she blew several chunks out of its chest and stomach, before slugging it across the face with her rifle, knocking it back. Using the room, she had bought herself, she bolted down a corridor, breaking away from the pursuing Zombies once more and moving to an intersection before pausing to fire back down the corridor into her pursuers.

              She heard scuffling coming from one of the other directions and rather than risk it, she fired off a burst down that corridor for good measure too before backing away down the opposite corridor. She was now completely lost in the maze of tunnels beneath the firebase. She cursed that she had been forced down here. She cursed that she had become separated. Most of all she cursed that she would never see the light of day again.

              More Zombies shuffled towards her out of the darkness. She raised her rifle and fired again, but the Zombie shrugged off the bullets and kept on coming. She squeezed the trigger to fire again.

              Nothing happened.

              She was out of ammo.

              Andrea swore and ejected the spent clip, fumbling for a new one in a desperate frenzy as she dropped into a crouch. She slapped the new clip home and raised her rifle just as the Zombie broke into a run, charging her. She fired just as it reached her, the fire walking up its chest to its head, which exploded as a hail of shells blasted it at point range.

              Getting up, Private Mersey shimmied back down the tunnel, laying down a burst of suppressive fire as she did. Another zombie was hit multiple times in the close confines, taking rounds in both its shoulders that blew off first one arm and then the other, before a ricocheting round blew most of its head off, dropping it.

              More zombies swarmed down the tunnel towards her.

              Firing at close range, Andrea Mersey dropped one with a clean head shot, the entire burst of bullets taking its head clean off its shoulders, before the others reached her.

              A short-range burst of fire was ineffectual, the rounds exploding harmlessly in the Zombies gut and it shrugged the fire off as if it were spitballs. The zombie barreled into her, knocking her sprawling. Shuffling feet knocked her rifle from her hands, and a heavy weight landed on her legs. She screamed in pain as one of her legs broke beneath the weight.

              Then, all 4 zombies were on her, falling upon her with insatiable hunger. Andrea screamed in agony as one ripped her arm off bloodily, with the sound of tearing fabric and the wet sound of rending flesh.

              She reached feebly for her rifle with her remaining arm, but it was just tantalisingly, frustratingly, out of reach. She felt teeth sink into her neck, tearing at her throat. More bit into her, biting and tearing at her breast, her hip, her thigh. Something punched into her gut painfully with another wet tearing and ripping sound and she felt red hot pain explode through her along with a spreading wet warmth. She could feel blood welling in her ripped, torn, exposed throat, choking her, drowning her. Tears misted her eyes and clouded her vision.

              Her last living act was to pull the pin on one of the fragmentation grenades she carried, blowing herself and her four killers to pieces as a fireball blossomed up and down the tunnel beneath the firebase.


              • #8
                Back outside the Firebase, Corporal Bass and Private Siliqueath sprinted across the barren landscape, trying to stay crouch and stay low as they did so, trying to present as small a silhouette as possible.

                As he ran, Corporal Bass stumbled over something over something.

                "Woah ah!" he stumbled and cursed as he went sprawling into the desert dirt. Looking to see what tripped him, he found a discarded bandolier, stuffed full of grenades and ammo.

                "Huh...looks like the Garrison left something behind after all." he said, picking it up. Nearby, he also found a handful of unopened ration packs which he also quickly pocketed as he got to his feet.

                "That's not all..." said Private Siliqueath, stooping down to retrieve something from a small crevice in the rocks. She pulled out a discarded but still full medi-pack. A short distance on, they found a micro comm-bead and headset. "Looks like some of the Garrison did head out this way..." she said

                "Yeah, before returning as some of those things." Bass said grimly. "Hell, they were probably already turning, or infected, or whatever when they left. Why else would they discard this stuff when it could be useful? No more use for it when they became mindless."

                "I think we should get moving again..." Siliqueath said, suddenly nervous and not liking the implications. Perhaps there was no escape at all after all.

                Bass nodded, already thinking the same thing "Right, lets go..." he said.

                Even as he did, from a small outcrop of rocks in front of them burst a trio of zombies, all in GCPS uniforms and armour, ropes of saliva hanging from their slack jaws and maws. The lead one spotted them, and it let out a low snarling growl, its jaw unhinging and stretching unnaturally far, like that of a snake, revealing rows of broken and sharpened teeth.

                Taken by surprise, neither the Private or Corporal were able to react before the Zombies charged them. Bass was lucky, only one charged him and as it grappled with him, he gave a kick, pushing it away momentarily with his boot.

                A moment was all he needed.

                Getting his rifle between them, he opened fire eight times, the high-powered rounds blasting the zombie’s body to pieces.

                Siliqueath proved slightly less fortunate, as the remaining two charged her. She managed to fend one off, knocking it down with a swing of her rifle before firing a burst of shots down into its chest and head, before the second overwhelmed her, dragging her down with a scream of primal terror.

                Corporal Bass saw what was about to happen and raised his rifle. The holo-scope refused to function due to the melee, but it didn't matter. Trusting to his skill, he opened fire at close range. The high-powered marksman’s shot hit the Zombie in the shoulder, blowing its arm clean off.

                If the Zombie noticed, it didn't care, shrugging off the wound and carrying on as if nothing had happened. However, without both its arms pinning her and overpowering her, Siliqueath was able to get her rifle between them and kick it off her.

                Rolling on-top of it, in a frenzied rage she proceeded to bludgeon it in the face with the stock and butt of her rifle until its face and head was nothing more than an unrecognisable greasy, bloody smear.

                Panting hard as she came down from her frenzy and near-death experience, she nodded her thanks to Corporal Bass. hen, her features turned pale and white. Drawn by the sounds of their fighting and the gunfire, five more zombies were approaching.

                "Go...Go! GO!" Yelled Bass, seeing them too and raising his marksman’s rifle. The private didn't need to be told twice and she got to her feet, taking off at a run, sprinting away.

                Raising his rifle, the Corporal squeezed the trigger and fired. One of the Zombies heads disappeared in a cloud of red mist and its lifeless body fell to the floor. Hurriedly firing again, no time to aim, he put a round through the chest of another. Snarling, he squeezed the trigger again, hitting it in the chest again. Despite the high velocity, high-impact nature of the rounds, the Zombie shrugged off both hits and just kept on coming.

                With no other options left, Corporal Bass grabbed one of the fragmentation grenades from the bandolier he had recovered and threw it at the rapidly approaching Zombies.

                The Zombie he had shot was torn apart by the explosion, and another had both its legs ripped off by shrapnel. The other two, while unharmed were knocked prone and momentarily stunned.

                Corporal Bass made good use of that moment, turning and hightailing it at a sprint to join up with Private Siliqueath and get out of there, the two of them disappearing into the desert as they evaded pursuit of the dazed Zombies.

                Private Craig Bowers crept from cover to cover, trying to find a way through the encircling zombie’s lines. But every time he thought he had an avenue of escape, a patrol of zombies would show up, sending him scurrying back to cover.

                He was fast running out of options.

                Sneaking from behind a large rock and into the open, his luck ran out.

                There, ahead of him, were four zombies.

                They noticed him at the same time he noticed them.

                "Oh Fu-..." he swore, dropping into a crouch and firing. His shots blew the head off the first one before it could even move. Then the remaining three charged him.

                To his credit, he kept his composure, snapping off a burst of overwatch fire that dropped another Zombie as it swarmed in, the top and back of its head missing. He managed to get another snap shot off at another of the charging zombies, hitting it and tearing a chunk out of its hip and side in an explosive welter of blood that slowed and staggered it.

                Then the final one was on him. Launching itself at him, it barrelled into him and knocked him down, overpowering him. Sharpened, diseased teeth bit into his shoulder and he screamed in pain. He struggled to stand, but the Zombie dragged him back down, latching onto his arm in a death grip. Then the second one reached him, grabbing his arm and pulling.

                Bowers eyes went wide and bulged in pain as, between them, the two zombies ripped him in two, tearing both his arms off in a welter of blood. He screamed, long and loud as, in a feeding frenzy they fell upon him, tearing him apart...


                • #9
                  A day later, four figures staggered out of the desert at outpost-72N, manned by elements of the 82nd regiment. The Garrison, under a Colonel Wayne Simmons, did not know what to make of them and went to high alert until they determined that they were fellow GCPS troops. They were all suffering from extreme fatigue, exhaustion and exposure. But they were alive.

                  After being examined by the outpost medic and declared free of any taint, infection or pathogen, the wounded were tended to and dressed, and permission was granted to use the outposts comms equipment to call for retrieval. Two hours after that, the four of them, the four survivors from a group of eight, were onboard a Hornet and heading back to Command Outpost-Delta-NW29.

                  They had to warn the Lieutenant-General that there was something out here, in the desert, and it was coming this way. They had to be ready. The Lieutenant-General would know what to do.

                  Sergeant Weaver sat back in the medi-couch of the evac Hornet, his eyes half closed as for the second time that week he was heavily dosed with painkillers.

                  'Lieutenant-General Clark would be warned...' he thought to himself with a small sense of pride and satisfaction at the way the squad had handled itself and that they had escaped to give warning 'he'll know what to do...'. Slowly his head lulled sideways to look out the window at the desert speeding past below.

                  'And we'll be ready.'