Norza’s eyes fluttered open. She’d been unconscious for some time. Grannox had seen to that. Sometimes Ubrias preferred simple physical violence –sometimes it would assume an air of indifference to her. She curled into a ball as she rolled over to one side. The beatings from Grannox were some of its favorite torments. It wasn’t any worse than some of the other things she had endured –but the emotional and psychological hurts were more intense. This time, she had welcomed the blackout as an escape from the emotional torment of being beaten by him.
She remembered a time when she had spoken out in her torment, and it had answered her.
“Why do you hate me so?”
She remembered how she had sobbed. She had been pushed past the breaking point. In her despair, she would have given anything to know the reason.
“What have I done to cause you this hatred?”
In four hundred years, it was the only moment of compassion it had ever shown her. Perhaps she had touched upon a chord of pain that echoed in its own heart. Perhaps to it, the torment became much more pleasurable in giving her a reason. Perhaps in the long years, it had cause to give a voice to its own hates. Through the haze of her torment, she could not tell if the voice chilled her because of the obvious malice behind it.
“You basked in the light for thousands of years, while I have known only darkness…” Tendrils of its dark mass tightened around her neck and limbs. It took a more humanoid shape sometimes, though a third arm extended from its upper mass so that it could pin her and choke her at the same time. She didn’t have the strength to struggle. Tears streamed down her cheeks.
Somewhere from deep inside her, she felt a momentary spark of compassion. Ubrias spoke as though it felt it needed to express its own pent up fury. In that moment it had revealed perhaps more than it had intended.
“Please…” She begged. “Please just end it… I beg of you! Is this what you want? Do you want me to beg? I am broken… --Please…Just end it!”
Several new tendrils formed, striking her face and belly and the other exposed parts of her body. She reeled, but in the long years it had learned exactly how much force it could use against her without her losing consciousness. But it would not be denied the delicious agony of her torment.
“Before you are extinguished I would see all of his daughters so humbled… You will suffer as I have suffered… and through your pain I will bring him low…”
She didn’t have time to ask or say anything else. It had been especially violent and she had blacked out before it could say anything more. She has been beaten so badly that it had taken her weeks to recover, during which time it left her in isolation. During this time, she had nearly resigned herself to a life without hope. She would break. She would obey. She would be scarred and tormented. In this one thing, she would not give in. She would find a way to end it herself.
This one pocket of resolve remained protected; she gave it everything else it wanted from her. It wasn’t difficult –she had broken to its will and obeyed. She’d seen her homeworld collapse and her people scattered to the stars. She’d been forced to bear witness to its hatred for Vaelor, expressed through a thousand acts of atrocity, always in secret as though its grand scheme lay only for her eyes to see. She kept her sanity only by the barest thread for she had borne the burden of its secret throughout the long centuries.
She had sensed now that whatever Ubrias had in store, it had committed to the endgame. She prayed silently that it would end her and her long suffering. She prayed for the peace that only death could provide.
Brent checked the time on his com link. “Sewers… Why’s it always gotta be that every Tom, Dick and Harry that’s on the run –goes for the fuckin’ sewers?”
The short Hispanic man on point turned to him. He went by Garza to his friends, but on the clock he picked call sign Wolf. He was one of the original members of the team and the resident scout. “You’d think just once, someone would try to get away using a limousine or somethin…” His accent was very thin, but it became more pronounced when he was under pressure.
Marshal, checked his scope again, trying to keep it cleared from the dank muck of the sewers. Dan Jurgen was from the Midwest, and he showed it at every opportunity.
“It’s as clean as it’s gonna get. Quit fuckin’ with it.” Brent ordered.
He hefted his own MK86 tri barrel “Skunk” rifle. It was considered a heavy gun by grunts, but with his enhanced physical prowess, he could carry it easily enough. Wolf signaled for them to stop. The helmet Garza wore bore enhanced detection gear, allowing the unit to enhance all of his physical senses. An onboard computer processed inputs from over thirty two hundred individual sensors around the face shield and helm itself. Garza had outfitted his rig with a field modification of his own design—directional sound sensors that took the form of Wolf’s ears to match his call sign. Brent remembered how much of a psychological effect it had on everyone, especially in the dark. He looked like an actual kind of cyborg wolf, which was exactly the image he was going for.
“Whatever I’m tracking, isn’t like anything I’ve smelled before T. J.”
“You’re getting biologicals down here?”
“You don’t even wanna know what kind of biogicals I’m getting down here. We’re all going to need a week to decontaminate.” He replied. “Helmet’s drowning out the other scents once they’re identified. I can process over three hundred thousand biological concoctions, but what I’m reading is off the map.”
“Anything we should be worried about?”
“We might want to go back for MOPP gear, T. J., but it’s your call.”
“I’ve got the HEAB in chamber three on the skunk. It’s hot enough to burn through any biologics we come into contact with. Are you sure that you can give us the heads up?”
“Roger. My gear gives me a level of protection you guys don’t have. If I say the word, it means evac—“
“Noted. Let’s move out. Vette, Shelby –you two take rear guard positions. From now on we move by the numbers Two on three with the Noob bringing up the rear. Stagger formation.”
“Just what exactly are we looking for?”
“Two humanoids in Space suits.”
The Noob took the trailing position as they trudged through the muck. “You’ve gotta be fucking shitting me, T. J.”
“That’s Brent to you, Noob.” He replied as they stalked down the sewer line.
“I’ve been the Noob for two fuckin years now” He grumbled under his breath.