Chapter 3: An Angel Among The Demons
The Sands of Ushira, to the winds of Ishima…
It all began from down below.
They came from somewhere else.
Welcome to the beginning of the end.
“It seems as if we have eliminated all of-ah, this one here…remarkable. He is still alive. We may have use for this one…”
Dylex slowly came to, unable to comprehend what had happened hours earlier. He was in excruciating pain-instead of attempting to escape, he laid there. The sounds of a broken comm. Radio was ever present in the dark, powerless hallway.
After what seemed like hours of lying there, he began attempting to dig himself out of all the rubble. He couldn’t not understand what AC weapon-better yet, what human weapon-could have caused this much destruction. It was beyond his imagination what type of man would even want to wreak such havoc. He was still alive, but just barely. His mind began racing, his life flashing before his eyes. His first memory, his first birthday, his first day of high school…his first kiss. It was the little things like those that kept him going, even though his efforts of survival seemed futile.
The electricity was out in the entire city. All of the doors were either jammed shut or broken and stuck halfway open, causing a number of road blocks for anyone who had managed to survive the cataclysmic event that had happened hours earlier. Dylex, being able muster the remaining strength in his body, managed to finally pry himself out of the pile of rubble that held him down. He rolled across the floor and lay on his back. He took a deep breath of the now Diatine contaminated oxygen that filled the building, and even possibly the whole city. He could smell it in the air, and he could feel it burning his lungs. Dylex closed his visor and turned on his oxygen reserves, hoping the purified air that now ran through his combat suit would sustain him. However, just as he expected, there was a hole in the bottom right side of his oxygen reserve. He turned off the system, figuring he could attempt to salvage whatever he had left. He then began wiping all of the dirt and rubble off of his Wrist Status Screen, hoping to get a glimpse at what parts of his armor were damaged beyond repair. He sighed when he saw what was left of it.
“That figures…my luck.” He said sarcastically.
It was broken far beyond repair. With no way to properly assess his fitness and the severity of the situation, he laughed. He lay back down on the floor, thinking about what was going to happen to him. Would he survive this terrible situation? Would he ever get back home? He was just about to give up hope when he got a garbled through his comm.
“If there is anyone out there…if there is anyone picking this up, this is the UDF Naval Cruiser Achilles IV. Please, respond! We are searching for survivors, I repeat, we are searching for survivors! Please…if there’s anyone out there…We’re on our way. This message will repeat every minute until a response is received.”
Not quite sure why his comm. Systems were still functional, he hesitated for a moment. Could this be some kind of sick AC trap? They use their weapons of mass destruction and then lure out any of those lucky enough to survive with a message of hope and rescue? After careful consideration, he touched his earpiece, which activated its microphone, and slowly but surely replied.
“Achilles IV, do you copy? I repeat, do you copy?”
“Finally, thank God…We thought the entire Ground Force was wiped out. Wait a minute…it looks like your ID Chip is badly damaged. Identification?”
Dylex closed his eyes in relief, knowing that this was no phony message. If they could read his ID Chip, then he was indeed in contact with Achilles IV.
“Identification?” The man over the radio said again. After a brief silence, he spoke again, saying “Please, tell me you’re still there.”
“I’m still here, don’t worry. This is Viper First Class Dylacore Burgandy, 330th Battalion, Omega Squad. We were advancing through the city when myself and two other marines got pinned down inside the capital building. We were about to be overrun when the blast hit. God damn, what was that anyway?”
“We’re not sure either. A hole was literally torn in time and space when it showed up, this utterly massive ship. As soon as it ripped through, it fired some sort of energy weapon….We can safely say it was some form of technology that we’ve never seen before. Intelligence believes that it was some form on AC Mass Destruction Weapon.”
“Well if it was an AC weapon, then why in the hell where their ground forces running from it as well? I doubt that the AC leaders would kill their own troops.”
The man over the radio sighed.
“We’re just as clueless as you are right now. As soon as it ripped through space, it severed all communications. You may have been to busy to notice, but we were completely limited to short range radio.”
Dylex sighed, shaking his head in disbelief. “Look, I just need someone to get me out of here. The air down here is contaminated…I’m breathing in traces of Diatine, and it’s burning my lungs. Whatever it was that hit us, it must have been developed with long term destruction in mind. I would use my oxygen tanks, but there’s a leak…”
The marine from Achilles IV attempted to respond, but the message was garbled and the radio soon cut out. Dylex was no officially completely isolated and alone…or so he thought.
With all of the comm. Systems offline, it was so quiet that he could hear a pin drop. What he heard next sent a shiver down his spine. Listening intently for anything at all, he heard a heavy breathing creature. There was virtually no light, so he was unable to see absolutely anything. He gulped, and pulled out his pistol, preparing for the worst.
“Who’s out there?”
There was no response but a low growl that nearly paralyzed him with fear. Before he even realized what was happening, he heard a small pop, click, and something was thrown into the small, confined room he was held up in. There was a small beeping sound that repeated over and over. Being somewhat overly cautious, he activated the flashlight on the on his Pistol and shined it over to where the beeping was coming from. It was a small, round object which looked strikingly similar to a hand grenade. As the beeping intensified, he realized what was about to happen.
“Shit!” He shouted, unable to come up with anything intelligent to say at the moment.
He covered his eyes, hoping that his combat armor would shield him from the blast. However, to his surprise, the beeping stopped, and a small vapor protruded from the device. It emitted a bright light when the gas was released, and then he suddenly became very sick. He quickly found himself on the floor, writhing in pain, before he slowly, but surely, blacked out.
“What should we do with this one?” His captor said to its leader.
“I have a promise to keep…to an old friend. This one lives.”
After a brief moment of silence, he spoke again. “Take him aboard. The High Council will want to hear our reports. Afterwards, he will go to the Medical wing…I wish to examine him much more closely.”
“Will you not come with us, Overlord Hijik?”
Hijik picked up his gas device, and said “Not right away…I will remain here for a while longer. I wish to explore this world once more…It appears that much has changed since our last visit.”
Overlord Hijik paced the floor. He had the title of Overlord for almost 2000 years…Could such a small thing like disregarding the High Council’s judgment and saving a human life end his destroy his title as a politician, or even his life? He gazed down at his left arm, examining the prophetic symbol that had haunted him for his entire life. Somewhat resembling the letter Z, it was curved downward at both the top and the bottom. He had not known what the symbol meant, except for what he had learned in his dreams. It was a birth mark, one that appeared three days after he was born. His rough, scaly gray skin was irritated by the marking, as it sometime would flare up and become a bright red color, as if he had been burned. The High Council members had called the marking “Divine”, where as the others had called it “Demonic”. Overwhelmed with emotion, he looked out the window of the Science Lab and yelled at no one.
“Why have you cursed us?” He screamed.
He sighed, almost as some kind of apology to a greater power than himself.
“Jinaka…Why couldn’t you just remain silent?” He looked outside, into the vast and endless pit of space, nearly blinded by the sun. He had been to many planets and conquered many different species, but he was driven by orders, not emotions. More than anything at that moment, the attack that commenced hours earlier felt like a terrible sin against the Maker of All.
His pale blue eyes gazed down at his home world of Tridia, billions of light-years away from the conflict between the Asylan Confederacy and the United Defense Force. Seeing his home in perfect condition nearly brought a tear to his eye.
“We were given the right to create life…but should we really be allowed to take it?” He said to himself. Angry and hurt by the council’s decision against humanity, he looked away from his home world, unable to stomach his decision to submit blindly to the council’s will. As he turned away from the window, he caught his reflection in the blank, unlit screen of the Science Lab terminal that he had previously been working on. He stared for a moment, examining his large muscles, knowing how close humans were to the image of a Triad. The differences were apparent, but small. Their skin was gray and rough, and their bodies were muscular. They looked like a human heavy weight championship to say the least. Their cheek bones were curved outward, and their skull was longer lengthwise. Most humans would scream at the sight of a creature with horns on its head, but these were actually nothing more than massive hair follicles that were grouped together and covered in a hard, dense shell. They were virtually an uglier, nastier version of humans. The similarities angered him so much. It seemed as if human nature was to end another human’s life, but the Tridian would never kill one of their own kind, not unless it was out of punishment. Even then, they would be exiled and sent away to a distant uninhabited world, where they would slowly but surely die alone. The Tridian had never intended for the Humans to kill one another, it just sort of happened that way. They developed a mind and a will of their own, and quickly surpassed the need of an unknown caretaker. He watched as the ship came into dock at the Space Station, hoping that he would somehow be able to avoid his scheduled audience with the High Council. Nevertheless, As soon as he departed from his cruiser, another Triad greeted him.
“Hijik? I am Overlord Sasha, and I have come to escort you to the Council Chambers. They are eager to hear your report. Please, follow me.”
Hijik sighed and shook his head.
“Enough with the formalities, young lady. Please, just take me where I have been summoned.”
He slowly opened his eyes, unable to fully control his bodily movements. As a result from the nerve gas, Dylex was knocked out, but unharmed. His head was throbbing as if someone had hit with a hammer while he was asleep. Why, however, he could not imagine. He breathed in and out slowly, hoping not to overwork his still half asleep lungs. He was not exactly sure where he was. He was laying down in what seemed to be a medical room, but was unable to recognize what ship he was on. The Achilles IV? Or maybe it was the Titan IX? He was unable to tell. He glanced to his right and saw his combat armor in a cryo tube, almost as if it was being protected from the elements for some reason. The Tube it was in was filled with some strange chemical, possibly to kill any germs that he may have acquired on arrival, but it still wasn’t adding up: Why was his combat armor in a cryo tube, just where exactly was he? He glanced down to see that he was not only naked, but also strapped down with some kind of weak material.
Obviously, whoever put me here didn’t think I was going to wake up…
He thought to himself. He looked up and saw what resembled a person in a uniform, possibly a doctor of some sort. He was about to address the doctor, but before words could leave his mouth, his head began pounding. He closed his eyes, hoping that the pain would soon go away, but it would not cease. Once again, he was about to speak, but suddenly a voice came over a loud speaker, once again preventing him from speaking.
“All combat personnel report to the Intelligence Wing, ASAP.”
The two armed guards that were standing at the automatic door to his room quickly departed, leaving the doctor by himself with Dylex. He was once again about to speak, but as soon as the man turned to reveal his face, he just about choked on his words. This was no man, not by any stretch. This was a creature. It was a triad, though Dylex had no name for them yet. His face about went pale as he lay there, absolutely horrified. His killer instinct kicked in, and he realized that this creature needed to die if he was to live. He quickly began loosening the straps that held him down to the bed he was on. The Tridian Doctor came over to the bed, not aware that Dylex was about to end its life. It moved its own scaly hand down his arm, as if it was searching for something. Not appreciating the strange attention that was being bestowed upon him, he ripped the straps, startling the Triad. He then grabbed his throat, putting as much force into his grip as possible. The Triad attempted to resist, using one hand to try to pry Dylex away while reaching for his side arm with the other. The Triad gasped for air as its strength slowly withered away. Dylex could literally feel the life leaving the triad as he put even more pressure on its throat. Dylex felt the Triad’s throat crush in his hand, and was aware that his work was done. Dylex was still afraid, however. He may have eliminated one of them, but what about the other two? What if they were on their way back? Dylex refused to take any chances. He quickly hopped up from the bed and attempted to unlock his cryo tube that held his armor. Not having the access key, he began panicking, unable to figure out what would happen next. He began searching the room frantically until he came across his clothes, which were folded nicely on the bed next to his.
“At least they are somewhat descent…” he said to himself.
He clothed himself and then returned to the cryo tube containing his Combat Armor. A hologram appeared in front of him, saying “You do not have clearance for the retrieval of this item. Access code required.”
He laughed. “I’ll give you an access code, you just wait.”
He punched a hole straight through the cryo tube, cutting his hand in the process. The simple fact that he now was able to get his armor was all that kept him from swearing at himself.
“Hijik! How could you directly disobey our commands? You knew very well that we said no survivors!” Council Member Hereto yelled.
“You know as well as I do that it was wrong for us to attack in the first place! It is not a hostage, but a test subject. I promise you, this will be beneficial to the study of our enemy…you know this very well.” Hijik argued.
Hereto sighed. “I cannot allow you to allow you to let this human remain in existence. You know what could happen! The risks are not even fathomable! Are you truly trying to destroy us all?”
“All I am saying is that this one is clean. I did the blood work myself, and compared it to my own! He carries no traces of the plague in his body. We could use him to study our enemy, learn more about them. Maybe even find a way to eradicate not only the humans, but the plague as well! You must allow me this one chance…I will not fail you. Please have more faith in me than you had in Jinaka.”
“Jinaka was a failure. He wanted to work with the Humans, attempt to save them from their coming fate. But you know just as well as I that nothing can save them now. Nothing ever could. Like a cancer, their doom will overcome them, and they will be without a savior when it does.”
Hijik threw his pistol down to the ground. “I will not stand here and listen to the memory of my greatest friend get insulted! Jinaka was smarter than all of us! He could’ve found a way, and you were well aware when you sent him away!”
“Regardless of whether he was right or wrong, he is gone. Only his memory remains. He would even agree…a live test subject could kill every one of us. The other human that escaped the day before…you still haven’t found her, have you? You truly think that we are going to risk the infection of an entire civilization just to honor the memory of one of our fallen? Surely you must see how insane this is.”
“Insanity is not stability! I know where I stand; I believe that this is wrong! They deserve a chance to thrive and prosper just the same as we, the mighty Tridian. If there is a way to cure the infection before it happens, then I will take whatever risks necessary to accomplish my goal!”
Hereto laughed, and looked out into the vast pit of space. “Have you ever heard of ‘The Cure’, my friend and fellow Council Member?”
Hijik shuffled nervously, trying to avoid the question. “I have heard of it…some kind of gift from The Maker to the Tridian…a way to kill the plague once and for all.”
Hereto nodded his head, continuing his sentence:
“Correct. The Maker promised that he would provide a way to kill the virus once and for all, but it was prophesied that none would know the time or the date. It is completely left up to blind faith.”
Hijik suddenly got an idea. “With all due respect, High Council Member…perhaps this one human is indeed The Cure. The last human…she fled. She was frightened and angry. But this one…this one is different. It is a survivor. No normal human would be able to survive the Diatine Blast we unleashed on their warring factions! Yet he not only survived, but prospered. He was virtually unharmed, with the exception of minor scratches and burns. That...with all due respect…seems to be of divine nature in and of itself. All I ask is for 48 hours…2 days. If I have achieved no valid results or progress, I will kill both humans. You have my word.”
Hereto paused for a moment. Perhaps Hijik was right? This issue was getting off topic, but the subject of faith kept poking at his mid, telling him that Hijik could actually be correct. After a brief moment of consideration, he replied with tow low, somber words.
Hijik bowed and thanked the Council Member.
“You have my word, Hereto. Thank you for your audience. May The Maker shine his blessings upon you.”
Hijik turned and left, thinking to himself what a beautiful little scheme he had conjured up…if only he had known just exactly how accurate his proposal was.