The Gray Horizon
November 9th 2140, A residential quadrant on the Roman I space station
Margaret yanked off her helmet and vomited on to the pavement. The sight around them was just too much. She wiped her mouth and quickly put her helmet back on after realizing the smell of the area only made her want to puke more. Victoria wrapped an arm around her to make sure she was okay. Margaret slowly nodded her head.
"We can't waste any time," Brian muttered in a soft voice. "Be on your guard everybody, I'm going to do some recon. Someone radio the training facility and let them know what's happened." Brian jogged to one of the nearby apartment buildings and entered it.
"I'm on it," Victoria said. "Computer, command. Change, radio frequency, open all channels." The acknowledgement beep sounded. She expected to receive a barrage of chatter in her helmet, but there was only silence. "A-attention," Victoria said shakily over every open channel. "Residential quadrant 13B is in distress. Does anybody copy?"
Silence stood still over her helmet com.
"I repeat, anybody at all. Residential quadrant 13B is in distre..."
"Haze, stop," Viktor shot a piercing gaze at Victoria.
"Why?" Victoria asked.
"Your transmission is not coming through on my helmet," Viktor told her.
"M-me neither," Margaret uttered.
"Something is jamming our coms," Viktor said as he looked around the parking lot.
"Well, shit, we need to get Cloud back with us then," Victoria said quickly.
"Agreed," Viktor remarked. "Get in that building." Viktor motioned toward the building Brian left for. "Whatever did this might still be around, so keep a sharp eye. Three sixty awareness."
Margaret, Victoria and Viktor briskly moved toward the apartment building. Viktor covered their front, while Margaret and Victoria covered their backs and beside them. The apartment building looked fancy for apartment standards. Only three stories of sleek architecture and balconies with wide and tall windows gave the building a unique and appealing look.
They reached the door under a balcony just above their heads and stacked up outside. Viktor entered first and almost opened fire at the human figure standing still only a few feet in to the building. It was Brian. He had heard the other three just outside and already had his arm outstretched with his hand fisted in to a ball as if to say, stop, don't move, and don't make a sound.
Brian's helmet torch lights were turned off. He glanced back at Viktor, nearly blinding himself from Viktor's helmet lights that were still on. He brought his finger and tapped his visor three times. Viktor knew he meant to switch to night vision. The only reason why they had used their helmet lights in the first place was to prevent blinding themselves by looking at the fires around the quadrant.
But no fires or light of any kind was in the apartment building. Margaret and Victoria entered the building next, still guarding their backs. They all turned off their helmet torch lights and switched to night vision.
The same gut wrenching sight was seen in what appeared to be the apartment buildings' lobby and main desk. Blood was splattered all over the floor, furniture and walls. Bones were scattered around the lobby as well. The rookies stood frozen, shocked at the sight around them.
"What is it?" Viktor whispered to Brian, wondering why he had motioned them to stay still and turn off their lights. Brian said nothing, but was still staring back at the other three. Instead, he slowly raised his hand pointed to the ceiling. The rookies listened intently for what seemed like minutes.
Finally, they heard it. Footsteps on the floor above them. They sounded far too heavy for the average human weight. They stood motionless. The footsteps got closer and closer until they could tell it was right above them. Their hearts jumped inside their chests when they heard the muffled terrified scream of a woman in the room just above them.
Crashes and clanging of objects were heard, and the woman's scream ceased only a second after it started with a horrifying thrashing sound. A muffled animalistic growl was heard next, followed by the sound of gnashing teeth and flesh being peeled from bone.
Viktor was about to speak and say, get up there, but before he could, they heard an unnaturally loud shriek pierce the air from across the quadrant. The shriek lasted for only about a second. The rookies heard heavy footsteps again in the room above them, running this time. The crashing sound of breaking glass boomed just outside, followed by a heavy thud on the pavement.
Margaret and Victoria mustered their courage and rushed outside to see what had jumped from the balcony to the ground. Brian and Viktor followed close behind, but when they got outside, the being was already gone.
"What, the fuck, was that?" Victoria slowly questioned. Before anyone could answer, they heard the shriek again from across the quadrant. This time, several more were heard coming from its same general direction, some of them sounded alarmingly close. At last, the rookies heard gunfire in the distance from the same direction the shrieks came from.
"Resistance?" Brian wondered.
"Sounds like it, move!" Viktor rushed toward the sound of gunfire with the other three following closely.
"Yeah, resistance, great, but resistance against what!? We don't even know what we're up against!" Victoria said. They rushed down streets and alleys, speedily moving toward the sound of the gunfire.
"Priority one is identifying our enemy," Viktor proclaimed. "Neutralize the threat, then we can search for survivors and assist emergency crews."
"We should be getting close by now," Margaret said. Indeed the gunfire was just one block away, but the amount of shots lessened more and more until no more gunfire was heard.
"Did they win?" Victoria asked. No one answered yet, and no one needed to. The blood curdling shriek they heard from the apartment building sliced through the air from just down the street and around the corner of a building. The rookies sprinted as fast as they could toward the sound.
Before they could get there, a semi-truck connected to a large gasoline tank exploded just around the corner, stopping them in their tracks for a few seconds. They heard screeches, growls and snarls from around the corner, but the sounds were moving away from them.
"No, no, NO, NO!" Brian shouted. "Don't let them get away!" They rounded the corner of the building to find half of the street covered in blazing flames from fuel that had leaked on to the pavement. The fire didn't stop them, for their under armor layers kept their body temperatures at a survivable level, even though they did feel a slight heat surround them.
The beings were gone. The rookies were too late. All that was left was the mauled corpses of FKPD soldiers getting crisped by the flames.
"DAMN IT!" Victoria shouted. The rookies stood still for a few seconds, feeling a small defeat. They finally walked forward down the street and out of the flames before their armor suffered any kind of possible heat and burn damage.
"Now what?" Margaret asked.
"We do what we can here," Viktor shrugged. "Help survivors, keep searching for what the threat even is."
"No," Brian disagreed, he was staring at the sidewalk. A trail of thick orange liquid ran across the sidewalk and all the way to the edge of the quadrant.
"What's that?" Margaret questioned.
"Well based on what we've heard so far, I'd say we're fighting some kind of creatures. Could it be a blood trail from a wound that our forces over there inflicted?" Brian said optimistically.
"Sounds like a viable assumption," Viktor agreed. "Let's follow it." Brian followed closely to the trail of orange liquid. The other three kept close behind and covered every direction. They reached the edge of the quadrant where the road continued in to a forest and veered to the left. The liquid trail however, continued diagonally to their right in to the forest as well.
"Keep going?" Brian wanted the input of the other three. The same shriek shot through the air from where the trail continued.
"Yeah, let's keep going," Viktor answered in a vengeful voice. They picked up their pace and entered the forest next to the residential quadrant. Brian led the way, keeping close to the trail of what they assumed was blood.
They weren't in the forest very long before they came across a massive two mile wide clearing. The forest continued on the other side of the clearing, but in between the tree lines was a rich grassy meadow and a river that cut through the middle of the clearing. Brian raised his sniper rifle and looked through his scope toward the tree line on the far side of the clearing. He saw figures disappearing in to the forest for a split second.
"They're out there," Brian informed them.
"Let's go get 'em!" Victoria said. They sprinted across the meadow until they reached the river. The current was too fast and would take them away if they entered. Instead, they noticed a single long tree log laying over the river from one end of the bank to the other.
The rookies used the log to get across and continued sprinting. They reached the forest again and kept sprinting in to the trees. The area of forest they were in had a lot of thick, tall brush everywhere too. The rookies had to trudge and force their legs through. They only ran for one minute after passing the tree line until they found themselves in a small glade where the brush and trees cleared, and a forty foot tall cliff blocked their path.
"Go around it?" Margaret suggested.
"Just climb it," Brian said as he walked to the base of the cliff and placed one hand on the earthy wall. At the same moment he rested his hand on the cliff wall, they heard some brush rustle around them.
The rookies froze instantly. They waited for a few seconds, then focused their ears on a faint noise they heard, but couldn't figure out where it was coming from. It sounded like heavy breathing. They waited for what felt like minutes, but was only a few seconds. The breathing got louder, and more of it was heard from all around them. A slow snarl was heard directly behind them from the way they just came. The rookies knew they were surrounded by the hostiles they were looking for.
Viktor holstered his carbine and pulled out his shotgun instead. He pumped it and took five brave steps toward the brush at the edge of the glade. He stopped and aimed his shotgun directly at the brush.
"Show yourself!!!" Viktor roared in an intimidating tone. He instantly regretted his outburst.
With terrifying swiftness, a surely unnatural creature lunged from the brush. Viktor fired his shotgun and a portion of the shot hit, but it barely slowed down the abomination hurling toward him. The creature tackled him, opened its triple jawed maw and roared a deafening howl in his face. The creature's howl ceased only a second after it started when Brian fired a sniper round through the top of its head. The bullet shredded through flesh and muscle until it stopped right in the creature's heart.
The monster let out a pained screech as it fell limp on top of Viktor. He quickly shimmied his way out from under the animal and launched himself back on his feet, then pumped his shotgun.
The rookies looked around to see several more of the creatures surround them in a semi circle against the cliff. The creatures snarled, growled and hissed at them. At the moment, the rookies only cared to note their general form. They were bipedal creatures, almost twice as wide and slightly taller than them. Their only articles of clothing that was a belt and strap combination, as well as tight, leathery looking leggings that barely dropped below their groin areas. The strap ran across their chests diagonally and back around their back to connect to the belt again.
Each of the creatures reached beside them and pulled what looked like a small curved piece of metal off of their belts. They outstretched their arms and squeezed the objects moderately tight. Flashes of green light burst from the objects, and a single four foot long glowing green blade quickly shot out from their hands like an extension to their own forearms. The width of the blades were as wide as the handle at the base, and they perfectly narrowed all the way to the tip, essentially forming a highly elongated isosceles triangle.
The neon green blades provided enough illumination to amply light the entire glade, and the rookies' own night vision blinded them. They each quickly flipped the manual switch on their helmets to deactivate the night vision. The monsters around them continued to snarl and snap at them. They counted sixteen total hostiles.
"Well then, what are you waiting for!?" Victoria spat at the creatures. "Come and get some!!!" The creatures lunged toward them. She raised her machine gun and fired a large plethora of rounds at the animals to their left, striking each of them with at least ninety percent of her shots.
Margaret fired her rifle with supreme accuracy as well, landing headshot after headshot on the beasts to their right.
Viktor fired at the creatures in front of them. He pumped his shotgun furiously to keep up with the rapidly closing hostiles.
Brian fired in between them with his sniper rifle, left, then right, then left again, right again.
Even with the gun power and efficiency that the rookies had, the creatures were still too close to them already. Only half of them fell before the rest of the creatures reached them. As the creatures fell, their blades deactivated as well. The rookies frantically evaded the slashes of their blades. They had no idea if those green swords could cut through their armor, but they weren't planning on finding out.
Viktor rolled right under a swipe of a creature in front of him and jab kicked the knee of a different creature behind it, bringing it to the ground. He quickly aimed back and blasted the back of the creature he initially dodged, killing it. Wasting no time, he unsheathed the blade on his lower back and sunk it deep in to the gut of the monster he tripped.
The creature merely screeched and roared at the wound it received, and slashed at Viktor. He back flipped in to the air to avoid the blade, pumped his shotgun and fired at the head of the creature still on the ground. The monster's head was torn to bits by the shotgun blast, and the recoil sent Viktor on one more back flip, where he ended up landing behind Brian.
Brian focused on two more creatures at both of their diagonals behind them. He fired a sniper round at the one on the left. The bullet pierced dead center in the creature's chest and exited out of the other side, finally stopping in the bark of a tree. The creature's spinal column shattered when the bullet struck, and the being fell dead in its place.
He instantly turned to defend himself against the creature to his right. The animal raised its blade and attempted to come down on Brian's head. Brian rushed forward and turned his sniper rifle horizontally in front of him to block the creature's arm. He kicked its gut with all his might and sent it sliding on its back ten feet. Brian pulled his pistol off his hip with one hand, while holding his sniper in the other, and unloaded his entire magazine in to the monster. The creature grunted and shrieked at receiving the numerous pistol wounds, but managed to get back on its feet anyways.
"Oh come on!" Brian shouted, annoyed at the resilience of the creature. The being jabbed at Brian, but Brian roundhouse kicked the hand of the creature, sending the blade to the side. He quickly jabbed the barrel of his sniper in to the gut of the creature and fired, creating another hole from front to back. The barrel of the sniper slid through the wound the bullet had created, and out the other side. "GRAH!" Brian growled as he lifted the beast off of the ground and slung it through the air and off of his barrel. It hit its head on a tree, hard, fracturing its neck.
"Damn these things are tough!" Victoria complained. She kicked the hand holding an incoming blade from one of the creatures to their left above their heads. She sprayed machine gun bullets in to the creature's torso until her gun clicked empty. Its entire front was shredded by the bullet fire. Out of nowhere, the whir of one of their blades sung through the air and sliced her machine gun in half.
"Oh, fuck you, you bitch!" Victoria snarled as she dropped the pieces of her broken machine gun to the ground. She ducked under the creature's swing, dodged back and forth, then finally pulled out her knife and stuck it in the elbow of the creature's arm holding its blade. The creature hissed at receiving the wound and tried to grab Victoria with its other arm.
Victoria grabbed its forearm and upper arm and snapped its other elbow, leaving the beast with two nearly useless arms. After that, disarming the creature was a piece of cake. Victoria yanked the blade out of its hand and squeezed it. The handle sparkled green and the bright neon blade shot forward from her hand. The creature furiously roared in her face.
"Oh just shut up," Victoria spat back as she sliced the creature's head off. The slice was effortless. Her swing wasn't slowed down by slicing the abomination's neck at all. Victoria didn't doubt the blade could possibly cut through their armor after that.
Margaret was firing at the last two hostiles when her rifle clicked empty as well. She holstered it quickly and retrieved her grenade from her waist. One of the creatures jabbed at her, but she dove clean over the blade toward the beast while pulling the pin on her grenade. She forced the hand holding her grenade down the monster's throat. Using the creature as an anchor, she whirled around it two hundred and seventy degrees, released her grip inside its throat, and drop kicked the last creature at its side.
She rolled on her back, intentionally bringing the last creature on top of her, and kicked it away with all the force she could muster. The creature landed right on top of the choking creature with the grenade in its throat, taking them both to the ground. Margaret rolled backward once more, away from the creatures. At last, the grenade exploded and blew both of the creatures to pieces.
The rookies glanced around them. All of the hostiles were dead, and there was no sign of any more.
"We clear?" Brian asked to make sure.
"I think so," Victoria answered as she admired the glowing green blade in her hand.
"Anyone hurt?" Margaret asked.
"Nope, we kicked ass," Victoria replied.
"Haha, first contact with aliens from another planet is a victory!" Brian cheered with his hands in the air.
"Shut up, there could be more of them out there!" Viktor scolded.
"Bleh, shut up, there could be more out there," Brian mocked playfully. "Ha, bring them on, we just wrecked them."
"We don't even know if they actually are aliens though," Margaret said.
"Yeah, but come on, what else could they likely be?" Brian questioned.
"Let's just get back to our chopper and get back to the training base," Viktor suggested. "We need to get a lot of things sorted out here. Our communications are still down, and we have a large, possibly alien, outbreak right now. What's most important is staying alive so we can inform the rest of humanity what we've learned. Let's get out of here."