Chapter 1, Stuck in the FrayMature

Chapter One

Stuck in the Fray

November 9th 2140, Top secret training facility on the Roman I space station

8:29 P.M.

            Why John? Vapor Team pondered simultaneously. Out of all of us, why John?

            Dale stampeded toward the blast door of the Manifest Training Base's main facility chamber. Nakahara was almost inside the stairwell when he took one last look back at Dale before he continued retreating. His eyes widened at the hailstorm of alien bodies flying across the chamber. There was only about fifteen of them, but every one of them didn't stand a chance against Dale's rage. He grunted and roared with every blow he dealt.

            Dale dodged one slash, then bashed the alien several tens of feet across the room with bone-crushing force. He repeated this action over and over. To Nakahara, it simply appeared that any alien that got too close to Dale was automatically sent barreling across the chamber. He engaged one more and yanked its blade so forcefully out of its hand that the finger bones crunched and the alien squealed. Dale cut it to pieces and defended himself from the already beaten down aliens that dared to try and take him down. They fell hopelessly to his bloodthirsty onslaught. A few vibrant flashes where blades met, bone-breaking punches and gory severing of limbs and appendages was all it took. The handful of aliens in the chamber were nothing but torn open flesh fragments, lying in an ocean of their thick orange blood.

            At last, he rushed to the blast door and squeezed himself inside one of the jagged holes the beasts had created to get inside.

            "Mist!" Dale pleaded for his brother's reply. He placed a hand on the sharp, jagged blast door above his head to steady himself as he leaned out in to the open air hovering over the water. The sun disappeared behind the station's horizon as he contemplated jumping after John's body to pull him ashore, believing that by some miracle he could be alright. "Mist! Come on bro, you can't do this to me! Talk to me!!!"

            The rest of Vapor Team was silent for a moment, as they too wanted to see if John really was taken down.

            "Damn it John! Respond! It can't be! You can't..." Dale reared back to jump, but was interrupted just before he could.

            "Shadow, we gotta move," Connor huffed as he spoke to Dale through his helmet com. He, Arden, Margaret, Viktor and Victoria were running side by side through the darkened landscape. The rest of the FKPD defenses were following at their backs, struggling to keep up and fight the mass of alien creatures chasing them. The phoenix fighters that blew John over the cliff side were making a wide angle as they circled back to strafe the FKPD exposed all over the cliffs of the mountainside.

            "You're going to leave him!?" Dale shouted back.

            "He's gone, Shadow!" Arden responded. "And we'll all suffer the same fate if we don't haul our asses right now!"

            "Come on Shadow," Victoria spoke up next. "You have to let your grief come later! What would Mist want you to do?"

            Dale pondered the question and replied only with a guttural growl as he slinked back in to the main chamber and sprinted to the stairwell. Of course, John would have wanted him to survive. He rushed all the way up, skipping several steps until he reached a heap of rubble blocking the way out of the tower and on to the cliffs. Nakahara was desperately trying to tear away at the rubble and get through. Dale simply didn't slow down and crashed in to the debris, knocking enough of it loose and out of the way to continue.

            He and Nakahara dashed out of the ruined watchtower. Dale instantly took the lead, leaving Nakahara lagging behind him. They ran to the garages from a different angle than the rest of the FKPD forces, but joined the frantic fray in just a few seconds. Dale caught up with the rest of Vapor Team. They reached the garages and piled in to different transport vehicles.

            Connor took the driver's seat of a Cobra Transport Vehicle. Dale took his gunner position. Margaret took the driver's seat of a Grizzly Transport Vehicle, with Viktor in her gunner position. Lastly, Arden took the driver's seat of a Shepherd Transport Vehicle with Victoria as his passenger. They zoomed out of the garage and drove straight toward the fight, but they couldn't believe their eyes at what they saw next.

            The last of their defending soldiers numbered around thirty, and were quickly dropping, unable to outrun the alien's ruthlessness. Only Nakahara was sprinting with all the speed his legs could muster and was barely ahead of the rest by a small gap. The hostile air support was right behind the mass of aliens on the ground. They flew low and steady as they passed over their brethren's heads, then opened fire on the unfortunate remainder of soldiers. Torpedoes and needle bullets decimated almost all of them, and the tiny handful that remained were disoriented and trying to scramble to their feet. Their screams of terror pierced the sky for only a brief second before they were silenced with a quick slash through their armor. The phoenix fighters screamed over Nakahara's head and flapped around to make one more strafing run. He ran so fast he was almost tripping over himself.

            "Come on Naki! Run!" Connor urged him as he slowed his CTV to a stop for the moment. Dale unleashed his rage through the means of a fifty caliber machine turret, shredding a wide arc of the aliens at Nakahara's back in order to buy him some time. Margaret stopped her GTV too and let Viktor take careful shots with his rail turret at the fighters in the sky. It was difficult in the low light, but he managed to nail a couple, blasting them to pieces with each successful hit.

            Arden continued toward Nakahara, speeding right in between Margaret and Connor. He threw his STV in to a power slide, letting the cab end of the vehicle slide right in front of Nakahara. He dove in the cab section and clutched a handle bar to avoid falling right back out of the moving vehicle.

            "Drive! Go go go!" Nakahara ordered. The horde of aliens at Arden's back leaped for his vehicle, but he slammed the accelerator and nimbly got away before the creature's could touch it. Connor and Margaret turned their vehicles around and followed Arden as he zoomed right between them again. Dale turned his aim to the sky to help Viktor take down the rest of the hostile fighters. They had swung around completely and began firing their torpedoes. Blazing green explosions erupted all around them, kicking up dirt and blasting an innumerable amount of craters in their wake. As the fighters were shooting, they were easy targets flying in a straight line right behind them. Viktor and Dale took advantage of it. Viktor destroyed fighter after fighter, letting their remains speckle the landscape at their back while Dale crippled the frames and wings of the fighters he missed. It was enough to send them spiraling in to the mountainside or cascading in to the dirt. At last, the skies were clear.

            They drove across the cliffs of the mountainside until they reached the narrow strip of land that was the only entrance to the training base by land.

            "Wait here for just a moment," Nakahara told them. They slowed to a stop and looked at Nakahara with curiosity.

            "Sir, shouldn't we be moving on? Those things are still chasing us," Arden questioned. Indeed, the screeches and roars of the bloodthirsty beasts tore through the twilight air.

            "Let them come," Dale snarled. "I'll mow them down to hell."

            "I have a better solution, Shadow," Nakahara stood up in the cab. He pulled out a detonator switch from a pouch attached to his waist armor. "Instead, let's just blow them all to hell." He flipped off the safety switch and clamped his thumb down on a glowing red button. Only a second later, every structure and every roadway that stood within the defined perimeter of the Manifest Training Base flared up, ruptured and exploded in to a brilliant and vibrant display of fire, dirt and debris. From the main facility to the gym, to the gun ranges and the science buildings, the virtual reality simulator to the outdoor training courses, everything was blown to bits and pieces. For almost ten seconds, the sky was as bright as the noon sun.

            They stared at the destruction of what was their home for almost half of a year. A sadness struck them at that thought, but it was instantly overshadowed by the burning pain in their hearts at the loss of John. The fires that now burned in front of them were a meager representation of the fury and sorrow that invaded their souls like a torrential hurricane. They stared for a few more seconds and realized that the alien noises they were hearing were mostly silenced. Only one or two defeated cries sounded from the landscape they fled from.

            "Okay," Nakahara tossed the detonator away. "Now let's go."

The End

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